HC Deb 02 June 1890 vol 344 cc1753-4

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to a paragraph in the Naval and Military Argus of 22nd May, 1890, stating that the War Office people have given way in Major Shiel's case, but hold out in the case of the suppliant in "Mitchell v. Regina," and whether it is true, as stated in the Argus, that the suppliant is practically in a state of beggary, owing to the manner in which the War Office have acted: whether it is true that the suppliant in "Mitchell v. Regina" officially applied to the War Office, on 15th May, to be permitted to commute a portion of his pension of £215 a year, owing to his pecuniary distress, and whether that application was officially refused the next day; whether, under the Commutation Acts of 1871–82, an officer has a right to commute his pension less £80 a year; if it is the intention of the War Office to persist in pressing the suppliant in "Mitchell v. Regina" for the payment of the costs of the Crown; whether it is true that the suppliant in "Mitchell v. Regina" is the same officer who, as Lieutenant and Captain Mitchell, reported officially the illegal deduction of the Income Tax from himself and brother officers by the War Office; and whether, inconsequence, the Duke of Cambridge issued a Corps Circular Memorandum on the subject, and a considerable sum of money was refunded to the officers so concerned?

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

My attention has not been previously called to the paragraph in the military journal referred to. I may state, however, that Major Shiel's case is in no way analogous to that of Colonel Mitchell. I have no means of knowing in what pecuniary circumstances that officer now is. He was granted a pension of £600 a year, of which he has been allowed to commute £385 a year for the sum of £4,506. An officer has no statutory right to claim commutation, which can only be allowed on the recommendation of the Secretary of State. Having regard to the circumstances of Colonel Mitchell, I am unable to support his request to further reduce his annual income. The payment of the costs to the Crown, reduced by the omission of certain charges to about £200, will be insisted on. Colonel Mitchell is the officer who complained of certain assessments of Income Duty, which were decided in favour of the Royal Engineers.

MR. HANBURY (Preston)

May I ask if it is not the fact that the War Office sent in a claim for costs to this unfortunate officer which were nearly double what was received after they had passed through the hands of the Taxing Master?


I am unable to answer that question.


I should be glad to learn who the official is from whom the fact can be ascertained.