HC Deb 08 March 1886 vol 303 cc107-8

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether the engagements entered into by the Indian Government, with regard to the arming of Indian Native Troops with Martini-Henrys, will be carried out?


I do not quite understand what the "engagements" are to which the noble Lord refers, and he appears to be under some misconception of the facts of the case. I believe that it was at one time in contemplation to arm some of the Native Indian troops with the Martini-Henry rifle. This intention, however, was abandoned, the reason assigned being that if the Native Army was armed partly with the Martini-Henry and partly with the Snider, while the British Infantry used the new Martini-Enfield, there would arise great inconvenience in the case of any military operations, owing to the necessity of taking into the field three different sorts of ammunition. I am not sure whether the decision on these grounds to relinquish the idea of putting the Martini-Henry into the hands of the Native troops was taken before or during the noble Lord's tenure of the Office of Secretary of State for India; but it was certainly taken before the present Government came into Office.


asked whether it was not the fact that already some 40,000 Martini-Henry rifles had been supplied to the Native troops; and, whether the difficulty as to the three different kinds of ammunition had been determined before the late Government came into Office?


replied that his information was directly to the contrary of that of the noble Lord. It was quite true that 40,000 Martini-Henrys had been sent out to India as part of a previous transaction, and it was since they had been sent out that the change of decision had taken place.