HC Deb 24 May 1895 vol 34 cc231-3
SIR SEYMOUR KING (Hull, Central)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, whether, in 1859, Sir Frederick Abbott, who was governor of Addiscombe College, was the representative of the East India Company in dealing with the students of the College; and, if not, whom he represented; whether, in 1859, a batch of 16 students went to Addiscombe under the terms of a Royal Warrant which promised them, subject to passing through the Addiscombe course, to receive commissions in the Indian Artillery and Engineers; whether, before their College course was finished, appointments to those corps had ceased, in consequence of the transfer of the Indian Government to the Crown; whether, as a consequence of that cessation, it was or was not actually decided by the Government of the day to deprive these gentlemen of the benefit of the promises under which they had been induced to compete for their cadetships; whether, in point of fact, the then governor of Addiscombe, Sir Frederick Abbott, promised these students that the inducements held out to them to enter the College for the East Indian Company's service would be fulfilled by the Government of India; whether, inconsequence of this promise, they agreed to go into the Royal Artillery and Engineers, and whether the promise was subsequently confirmed at Woolwich; if he is aware that the Gentlemen in question are prepared to make an affidavit to this effect; whether, on proof of such promise having been made, the Indian Government are prepared to repudiate an undertaking of the responsible authorities at Addiscombe and Woolwich; and, whether the rights of these gentlemen are protected under the Henley clause of the Government of India Act?


The officers in question went to Addiscombe in 1859, not under any Royal Warrant, but under the conditions of appointment laid down by the Secretary of State for India. Those conditions contemplated appointment to Indian Artillery or Engineers; but under an Act ot 1860 appointments to those corps were stopped; and the only alternatives were to cancel the nominations altogether, or to appoint the cadets to commissions in the Royal Artillery or Royal Engineers. The gentlemen who accepted the latter alternative were never officers of the Indian Army, and do not come under the Henley clause of the Act of 1858. There is no record of any promise as to pension being made to them; nor had Sir F. Abbott, as governor of Addiscombe College, which was maintained in 1859 by the Government of India, any power to give a pledge as to future prospects to officers who did not enter the Indian local forces.


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether cadets from Addiscombe who were appointed to the Imperial Cavalry and Infantry—namely, the 19th, 20th, and 21st Hussars, and to Regiments 101st and upwards, at the same time or subsequently to the 16 cadets of 1859, who were induced to join the Royal Engineers and Artillery from Addiscombe by the promises of Sir Frederick Abbott, received, or will receive, Indian pensions, although the latter are deprived of them, and, if so, on what grounds a distinction is made against the Engineers and Artillery?


No officers were appointed direct from Addiscombe Military College to the Imperial Cavalry and Infantry; but some officers, who had been at Addiscombe in 1859–60, joined the new line regiments from the general list of the Indian Army; and, in common with other officers appointed from that Army, were allowed prospective pensions under Indian regulations. The distinction between these officers—who were certainly very fortunate—and their contemporaries who joined the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, is that the former did join the Indian Army and the latter did not.