HC Deb 19 August 1887 vol 319 cc1107-8

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is according to military custom to pass over officers when duly recommended for promotion, except in favour of such as have performed special acts of service in the field; and, if so, on what principle have the Quartermasters of the Army, having the rank of Captain, been passed over by the recent promotion to the rank of Major of two Lieutenant Quartermasters; whether, seeing how disadvantageous a position the officers who have been so passed over are placed in, he will consider the desirability of granting the rank of Major to such Quartermasters as may have 15 years, and upwards, of commissioned service; whether a recent Warrant takes away from officers retiring after the 31st December next the step of honorary rank hitherto given on retirement; whether many officers were already entitled to this step before the Warrant abrogating it was published; and, if so, whether he will cause this hardship to be redressed; whether the maximum retired pay, or pension, granted to Quartermasters is the same as the minimum granted to all others for 20 years' full pay service; and, whether, in view of the resulting injury to those officers, he will take steps to remove the grievance?

THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

I should like to remind the hon. Member that great improvements in position and pay have during the last few years been accorded to Quartermasters, while no single privilege has been withdrawn from them except that, in common with all other officers, they cease to carry into retirement a rank in which they have never done a day's duty, and which carries no substantive advantage whatever. Although seniority is allowed some weight in selections for promotion, the fundamental rule is promotion by selection for ability, and other qualifications good for the Service. Further, as Quartermasters hardly ever serve other than singly, there is no question of one selected for promotion exercising command over others, who consequently are not in any worse position than they held before. No officer could have been entitled to the step of honorary rank on retirement unless he actually retired; and any Quartermaster whose service entitles him to retire now with honorary rank can secure the rank by retiring during the present year. The maximum retired pay of a Quartermaster is the same as the maximum of every combatant officer who has not 23 years' service.