HC Deb 17 April 1885 vol 297 cc25-6

asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance, Whether it is a fact that, as the result of recently testing the swords of the 2nd Dragoon Guards and 7th Hussars at Aldershot, fully one-half have been found unfit for use, even for recruits' drill, and whether the majority of the swords for the Commissariat and Transport Corps were also found to be unserviceable; whether it has been known for some time past that a number of the swords and bayonets supplied to our troops are of an unserviceable nature; if he will inform the House by whom these inferior weapons were manufactured; and, whether he will take care for the future that the lives of our gallant soldiers shall not be imperilled by false notions of economy?


I would ask the hon. and gallant Member whether he really thinks it will advance the public interest to reply to this Question? If so, I will reply. Then, Sir, the facts are these. For some time past it has been known that the pattern of sword adopted by the Military Authorities in 1882 was too light to stand severe strain. Upon the failure of certain swords of this pattern in the Soudan in 1884, a Committee was appointed under the Presidency of Sir Drury Lowe, and they recommended that the tests should be increased in severity. This has been carried out, and the whole of the swords in store and in possession of the troops have either been re-tested, or shortly will be put through that process. Care will be taken that all swords in possession of the troops are serviceable. The bayonets are perfectly serviceable. The last two Questions are argumentative, and, in reply, I have to say that the swords of which complaint has been made were strictly according to the pattern of 1882, and passed tests. Considerations of cost have not in any way influenced the question of the pattern of the swords.