HC Deb 14 March 1892 vol 2 cc736-7

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the "Small Book," issued from 1847 to 1864, contains the following:— Soldiers who shall have been in uninterrupted possession of G.C. pay for six months immediately preceding discharge .… shall have their names registered at Chelsea, and on attaining 50 years shall receive a pension; the like reward on the same terms is extended to soldiers .… who obtain free discharges after 12 years' service; and, if so, whether, to be entitled to a pension after 50 years, a soldier must have 14 years' service?


I have carefully investigated the "Small Book" in question, and find it is distinctly stated that 14 years' service with the good conduct badges were necessary to qualify for the grant of a deferred pension. The sentence alluded to was contained in the "Small Book" issued from 1850 to 1854, not from 1847 to 1864 as stated in the question, and as the qualifying words had not been understood it was then altered. I ought, perhaps, to add that the words "Are in possession of distinguishing marks" should be added to the second blank in the question, as they considerably narrow the application.


I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether the Government has decided to effect a reduction in the length of service qualifying for a pension, so as to benefit many of the men who served in the Crimean and Indian Mutiny Campaigns?


In view of the small number of Crimean and Indian Mutiny soldiers eligible for pensions under the Rule requiring 14 years' service, it has been decided to reduce the qualifying service to 10 years under certain conditions as to good conduct. The Chelsea Commissioners have already taken steps to see that the concession is brought into operation before the close of the financial year.

MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)

May I ask the hon. Gentleman, Are the War Office informed of the number of men or the proportionate number of men who will be relieved by this reduction in the required service from 14 to 10 years? Also I would ask whether the War Office will consider the advisability of granting pensions irrespective of length of service in all cases where a man has been permanently disabled in and by the service?


The number of cases which can be relieved by the present arrangement is 100 per annum. It would be impossible to give pensions in all cases of men who served in the Crimean War and in the Indian Mutiny Campaign. In all cases where a man has been injured in the Service he will be eligible for a pension. There were 52,000 men in the Crimea at the close of the war, and by actuarial calculation, if these all had a claim to a pension that would cost more than £1,000,000 sterling, and that is beyond the power of the Government.