§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)
asked the Secretary of State for War, If he will explain the present system of buying horses for the Army, with special reference to the extent to which a middleman or contractor is employed for the purpose; the average "last price" paid by the Military Authorities for horses for Artillery, Light Cavalry, and Heavy Cavalry, respectively; and the age at which such horses are purchased; whether he can see his way to establishing a system whereby farmers or breeders could bring in young horses direct to regimental 262 depòts or centres throughout the country for purchase, in order to secure for themselves the present profits of the middleman; and, whether he can state generally how horses used for military purposes are at present bred, and in which portions of the United Kingdom they are mostly produced?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
My hon. Friend will not, I suppose, now wish me to explain very fully our present system, since he will, no doubt, have seen from a statement made in "another place" that it is about to be completely changed. I may; however, state generally that, under the present system, horses for Cavalry regiments are bought by the regimental commanding officers, generally through dealers, and those for the Artillery by the Inspector of Horses, Royal Artillery. The Government prices average £42 for Heavy Cavalry, £40 for Light Cavalry, and £45 for Artillery horses, and the standard ages are between four and six years. Cavalry horses mostly come from Ireland, while those for other military purposes are generally bred by farmers in Great Britain. The change that we propose to introduce is that, in future, all horses for military purposes will be examined, selected, and passed into the Service by the officers of a Government remount establishment now in process of formation. We hope by this new system to obviate the complaint made by breeders that they cannot get their horses viewed by Government buyers, and generally to insure more direct transactions between Government and the breeders without the intervention of dealers.
§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS
asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman was in a position to explain in further detail the methods whereby farmers who could not offer their horses direct to the Army, could send them to agents in different centres, or whereby officers would be sent round the country to establish direct communication with breeders.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, that he could not make any further statement to the House upon the subject; but he should be very glad to discuss the matter with the hon. Gentleman, who would find that the Government proposed to issue, from time to time, Circular explanations, so that people in the country might know what was being done.