§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
asked the Secretary of State for War whether the War Office accepted the Report of the Board of Officers assembled at Dublin in December last to report upon the swords of the 5th Dragoon Guards—namely, that "all the swords in charge of the 5th Dragoon Guards are undoubtedly inferior in quality and quite unfit for military service;" whether both the Major General commanding the Dublin District and the Inspector General of Cavalry in Ireland had concurred in that Report; whether both Lord Wolseley and the Chief Inspector of Small Arms condemned the pattern itself as being too light, and still another "new pattern" of cavalry sword is to be introduced; whether the pattern so condemned was first adopted so recently as 1885, and the defective swords were issued to the 5th Dragoon Guards so recently as last year; whether the same Special Committee which recommended that defective pattern also recommended the tests which are now officially stated to have further weakened it; what guarantee yet exists that the new pattern or the new tests are more to be depended upon than the recent pattern and tests which they replaced, especially as according to those new and weaker tests the Inspector reports that only about 14 per cent are defective of the very swords which the Board of officers report as "all" quite unfit for military service; does the appointment of a Committee relieve of his responsibility the military official definitely charged with, and paid for, the duty of 955 selecting proper swords for British troops; and what is the official title of the officer so responsible, and is he the same official who, in addition to the Adjutant General, signed the Report recently presented to Parliament?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle
My military advisers do not accept the Report of the Board of Officers. My answer to the second, third, fourth, and fifth Questions is "Yes." In answer to the sixth Question, the new pattern and the new tests have not yet been decided upon. In answer to the seventh and eighth Questions, the Committee must be regarded as responsible for the pattern and the tests to be applied. But, their recommendation having been approved, the Director of Artillery is responsible that the pattern is adhered to, and that no sword is passed into the service which has failed to pass the tests.
§ In further answer to Mr. HANBURY,
§ MR. E. STANHOPE said
The contract price of cavalry swords of the 1885 pattern was with Solingen (which made 20,000 swords) 20s., and with Birmingham (where 7,500 were made) 24s. The price of the swords of cavalry officers varies, I am informed, from £2 12s. 6d. to £7. My answer to the fourth Question is in the affirmative.