§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether he has observed a statement in The Times, that the band of the Coldstream Guards played a selection of airs at a dinner given by the Grocers' Company on Saturday last to commemorate the restoration of Charles the Second, at which dinner the speeches were of an essentially party character; and, whether, in view of his statement a short time ago, that enrolled soldiers in uni- 670 form ought not to take part at party demonstrations, he will take steps to give effect to this statement?
THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN)&c.) (Stirling,
I do not think that any blame can attach to the officer commanding the Coldstream Guards for allowing the band of the regiment to be hired to play at this dinner. He could not be expected to detect anything political in an ordinary City feast, and the celebration of the restoration of Charles II. would appear to be entirely unconnected with the Party politics of the present day. The blame would seem rather to rest upon the after-dinner speakers, who succeeded in giving a Party character to the occasion; but my hon. Friend should remember the conditions under which their speeches were delivered. At all events, the soldiers were not responsible for what was said; and I would even express a hope that, according to usual custom, after having enlivened with their music the successive courses of the dinner, they may have been spared the necessity of listening to the toasts which followed.