HC Deb 19 March 1885 vol 295 cc1700-1

asked the Judge Advocate General, Whether he will be prepared to state, on consideration of Army Estimates (Votes for Military Law), Under what Act for Discipline the Colonial contingents serving in the field will be placed, and if care will be taken to prevent any conflict between the provisions of "The Army Act, 1881," and the Colonial Acts under which such officers and men are serving; and, whether clear instructions will be given to the officers in command of forces with reference to the point on which such Laws are dissimilar?


By Section 177 of the Army Act, 1881, it is provided that, when any Force of Volunteers, Militia, or other Force is raised in a Colony, any law of the Colony may extend to the officers and men of such Force, whether within or without the Colony, and where such Force is serving with Her Majesty's Regular Forces then, so far as the law of the Colony has not provided for the government and discipline of such Force, the Army Act then in force shall, subject to such exceptions and modifications as may be specified in the General Orders of the General Officer Commanding Her Majesty's Regular Forces with which such Force is serving, apply to the officers and men of such Force in like manner as it applies to the Regular Forces. As to any conflict between our military law and that of the Colonies, I do not apprehend that, as regards the New South Wales Contingent—whose services alone have been actually accepted for immediate operations—any such conflict can arise, because by the two Acts of that Colony under which this Force has been raised—those of the 9th of October, 1867, and the 10th of May, 1871—such Force, when called out on actual service, is made subject to our military law, with certain exceptions, the most important of which— namely, that which, exempts a volunteer from the punishment of flogging—has now, since the abolition of that punishment in our Army, become inoperative. Besides, I have seen a communication from the Agent General of the Colony of New South Wales, which has throughout met the Imperial Government in the most ungrudging and patriotic spirit, stating that, for more abundant caution, the Colonial Authorities propose by local legislation without delay to make their Contingent subject to Imperial military law in cases where the local law has not provided for their government and discipline; and I have suggested that, to prevent any possible conflict, they should be made unconditionally subject to such law. With regard to the other Colonies, I could not, within the limits of an answer to a Question, give the information which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman desires, as it involves the consideration of some 10 or 12 Colonial Statutes; but the subject is now before me, and I hope at the proper time to do so. Meantime, care will certainly betaken to prevent any such conflict as is suggested—if such a conflict be possible—and no doubt instructions will, if necessary, be given to the officers in command with reference to the points in question.