HC Deb 09 September 1886 vol 308 cc1739-40
MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is a fact that the British Troops quartered at Assouan are in mud huts, on the site of an Arab graveyard, in the midst of a district where dust storms are prevalent; whether there is any knowledge of the average temperature in these huts during the day in the summer months; whether the water used by the Troops for drinking purposes is so thick with mud that it has to be partially clarified by the use of alum; if any filters have been supplied for the use of the Force at Assouan; what is the number of Troops stationed at Assouan, and the proportion of them who were, by last returns, suffering from enteric fever, dysentery, and heat apoplexy; for how long has any portion of this Force been there continuously; and, when is it proposed to relieve these Troops?

THE SECRETARY OF STATE (MR. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

The troops at Assouan are quartered in huts with mud walls, which is probably the best material of which huts could be composed, on a hill to the southwest of Assouan. There is an old Mahomedan cemetery at a considerable distance from the lines. The temperature between April and June has ranged from 100 degrees F. to 122 degrees F. in the huts. All Nile water is, I am informed, impure from suspended matter which is got rid of by the use of alum and strainers. The troops have filters, and, as far as practicable, the water for drinking purposes is boiled before being used. The number of troops at Assouan on August 20 was 1,690, and nine cases of enteric fever and five of dysentery remained in hospital on that date. I am unable to say how long any portion of this force has been there continuously. The disposition of the troops in Egypt rests with the General Officer commanding. It is understood that he proposes to relieve shortly those troops that have been at Assouan during the summer by fresh troops from Cairo.