MR. FABQUHAESON (Dorset, W.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to an article in the recent number of the United Service Magazine, in which the question is raised as to the claims of the State or of the officers to the mess plate, and as to who would be responsible in the event of the plate being lost or stolen; whether be can say who is the residuary owner of such plate in the case of a defunct regiment; and in the case of a claim being made for the loss of mess plate, would the Government award compensation to the officers; and, if not, whether he will take steps to provide that each regiment properly insures such regimental property?
§ * MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I have not seen the article referred to; but in answer to the hon. Member's questions I may say that the practice in the British Army has always been to regard the mess plate of a regiment as 43 the private property of the officers for the time being of that regiment. There has boon no recent case of a regiment being disbanded; and therefore the question of the ownership in the ease of a defunct regiment has not arisen. As the plate is held to be private property no claim against the Government would arise in case of its loss; and it would be interference with private rights to require officers to insure their private property.
Then I understand that regimental mess plate is the property of the officers of the regiment, and the Government make no claim whatever to it?