HC Deb 20 February 1890 vol 341 cc727-8

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to the serious injury which will be inflicted upon the best shooting corps and best shots of the volunteer force by the recent reduction of the number of rounds of ammunition allowed from 90 per man to 75, and which will add increased expense to the more zealous members by compelling them to purchase the means of rifle practice heretofore allowed to some extent by the country; and, if, under all the circumstances, and having regard to recent official provisions to secure a higher standing of shooting, and the public declaration on February 4th of the Commandment of the School of Musketry that the supply of ammunition for recruits should be practically unlimited, he will re-consider the matter?

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

The reduction of the annual allowance of ammunition was made upon the recommendation of Colonel Tongue, the Commandant of the School of Musketry, and the money to be saved has been devoted to a most important purpose in the interest of the volunteers, namely, the appointment of additional Inspectors to supervise and assist in their musketry, and the formation of a special class of volunteer officers to qualify for musketry instructorships. It was found that of the 90 rounds issued only 41 were, on an average, devoted to class firing, and I think it only right that the War Office should be fully informed of the use to which the remainder of this ammunition is put. We know that in some cases a large proportion has been devoted to prize shooting, and that in others it has been sold to outsiders for the benefit of the funds of the corps. Government ammunition is obviously not issued for such an an object. On the other hand, I have no desire to deprive any corps of a single round of ammunition used for legitimate purposes; and in the case of any corps which can satisfy me that the ammunition issued to it is so used, I shall be very glad to sanction the full issue of ammunition to the extent of 90 rounds.