HC Deb 29 August 1887 vol 320 cc266-7
DR. CLARK (Caithness)

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether, with reference to the statement of Sir Thomas Crawford, Director General of the Army Medical Department, before the Select Committee on the Army and Navy Estimates, 10th July, the command of the Army Staff Corps, Military Hospitals, and patients is now held by military surgeons, and they have commissioned and non-commissioned officers serving under their command; whether, in the American, Italian, Swiss, Egyptian, and other Armies, surgeons have real or substantive rank, and that this system has resulted in great advantage to these Armies, the American Surgeon General having lately reported— No difficulty whatever, either in theory or in practice, has arisen from the fact that medical officers have real rank. It is an undoubted fact that the law giving medical officers the same military status as other officers has done much to enhance esprit de corps, and to increase the efficiency of the Army Medical Service; and, whether, considering the present condition of the Army Medical Service, he will appoint a Departmental Committee to consider the question of the rank of military surgeons during the Recess?

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

Medical officers do exercise command, as stated in the Question. They do so, and always have done so, in virtue of the commissions, as medical officers, which expressly confer command. The relative rank formerly held by them conferred no power of command whatever. In some Foreign Armies medical officers do hold titular combatant rank. But, as I said on the 12th May last, I cannot consider that the titles peculiar to their honourable Profession would be enhanced in dignity or value by the addition or substitution of combatant denominations. I do not think any useful purpose would be served by the appointment of a Committee.


said, that the Question on the Notice Paper was not the Question which he sent into the clerk; and the statement made was not with regard to rank, but to the cause which prevented the Medical Service from being recruited under the same circumstances as now. The Question did not ask for the information which he wanted, and therefore the answer did not satisfy him.