HC Deb 13 July 1888 vol 328 cc1241-2

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether examinations in foreign languages are held once or twice a-year in London, at which officers of the Regular Forces can present themselves, with a view to becoming eligible for appointments as military interpreters; whether Militia officers are not permitted to go up for these examinations, and what is the reason why they are thus debarred from obtaining appointments which many of them would be quite as competent to fill as officers of the Regular Forces; whether the supply of officers of the Regular Forces is, at the present time, unequal to the demand; and whether, in case of war, it would be still further lessened by the fact that military interpreters could only be drawn from such source; and, whether this would be an additional reason for permitting Militia officers to qualify as military interpreters?

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

Applications from Militia officers to present themselves at these examinations are always specially considered on their merits. The supply of candidates for Army commissions is fully equal to the demand; and it is unlikely that in war any appreciable number of combatant officers would be withdrawn from their military duties to act as interpreters. There is rarely any difficulty in obtaining interpreters on the spot without depleting regiments; and the primary object of these examinations and rewards is to encourage officers to become conversant with foreign languages, in order that their corps might have the advantage of being in immediate touch with the population of a country in which operations might be taking place.