HC Deb 30 March 1885 vol 296 cc974-5

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether, on Sunday the l0th instant, Colonel Duncombe, commanding the 1st Regiment of Life Guards, ordered a parade of the Regiment, and, after the parade, marched the Catholic soldiers, with the rest, into the Protestant church attached to the barracks (Regent's Park), and kept them there until the conclusion of the service; whether the Catholic soldiers of this Regiment are obliged, by the dietary arrangement in force, to eat flesh moat on Fridays; and, whether steps will be taken to secure that Catholic soldiers in the British Army shall not be obliged to violate the practices of their creed, or to attend any religious services but those of the Catholic Church?


On the date referred to the whole body of the 1st Life Guards was marched to the Church of England service in the riding school. Colonel Duncombe has explained that this was entirely through inadvertence; and he has expressed his regret that he forgot that the Roman Catholics were, contrary to custom, still in the ranks. Meat rations are issued to all soldiers. I cannot add anything on this subject to an answer I made to the hon. Member on the 22nd of May, 1883. I said— I am informed that by universal custom among Roman Catholics soldiers and sailors are dispensed from all obligations to fast or to abstain from flesh meat; and that this applies even in Catholic countries. There is every desire to give Catholic soldiers all proper facilities for complying with the requirements of their religion.