HC Deb 18 December 1893 vol 19 cc1599-600
MR. L. HARDY (Kent, Ashford)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that very great dissatisfaction at present prevails amongst licensed victuallers in consequence of the rates now paid for soldiers' billets and for Cavalry billets; whether he is aware that the payment now made for a horse is about' 5d. less than the actual bare cost of the fodder which has to be provided under the Army Discipline Annual Act, without any allowance for accommodation, attendance, &c.; and whether he will consider the desirability of re-adjusting the amount paid for billets for horses in consequence of the very exceptional rates at which all classes of forage are now selling?


In the first place, I would refer to a reply I made on July 28 last to the hon. Member for North Islington to the effect that the maximum rates are laid down by Act of Parliament, that I have no power to go beyond them, and that on the balance of years they are fairly profitable to the innkeeper, who obtains his licence conditionally on providing billets when required. To this I have now to add that we are able to estimate from the prices at which forage is bought for the Army the actual cost of the forage which the innkeeper is required to provide for the horse billeted on him; and we find on the average of large stations that the 1s. 9d. paid leaves a margin.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

May I ask whether the allowances complained of were not fixed in Act of Parliament forced through at 5 o'clock in the morning, and closured at every step to prevent discussion?


It was not closured to prevent discussion.


Will the right hon. Gentleman receive a deputation of licensed victuallers?


I do not know that any good would come of my receiving a deputation. As I have already said, for many years the licensed victuallers made a gain. Against the high cost of fodder this year must be set off the lower prices of the preceding years.


Is the right hon. Gentleman also of opinion that the innkeeper makes a large profit out of three-halfpence for a breakfast?


The amount was fixed before I came into Office, and after very careful consideration; and, as it has been so recently revised, I am not disposed to re-open the question.


Will proper time be given for the discussion of the next Army Bill?

[No answer was given.]