HC Deb 10 March 1898 vol 54 cc1223-5

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India, whether from 1875 to 1891 majors of Royal Artillery holding appointments in the Ordnance Department in India, and not in receipt of consolidated salaries, were not allowed to receive the regimental pay and allowances of their rank in addition to staff pay, whereas all officers of the Royal Artillery serving in the Indian Ordnance Department, other than majors and officers receiving consolidated salaries, have received regimental pay in addition to staff salaries since the Department was started, and what was the reason, if any, for this discrimination against the majors; whether all officers serving in the Indian Ordnance Department, majors not excepted, were obliged to subscribe to the Royal Artillery regimental band at Woolwich, and whether they would have been obliged to do so by the Regulations had the Indian Ordnance Department not been considered a department connected with the regiment; whether in 1891 the Secretary of State sanctioned a regulation which, from 1st July in that year, placed majors of the Royal Artillery in the Indian Ordnance Department on the same footing as lieutenant-colonels, captains, and subalterns by sanctioning payment to them of the regimental pay and allowances of their rank in addition to staff pay, and whether any compensation was afforded to officers who had been serving in that Department previous to 1st July, 1891, and had been under the circumstances stated deprived of the privilege enjoyed by lieutenant-colonels, captains, and subalterns in the same service of the regimental pay and allowances of their rank; with respect to the case of Lieutenant-Colonel and Colonel Vincent Carne Fisher of the Royal Bengal Artillery, who has appealed to the Secretary of State to recoup him the amount of which he was deprived by the fact that, from the 1st May, 1880, when he was promoted to the rank of major Royal Artillery while serving in the Ordnance Department, he was not paid the regimental pay of that rank in addition to staff salary, but only Staff Corps pay plus staff salary, though he was during the same period obliged to contribute to the Woolwich band fund as serving in a department connected with the regiment and in which the other officers were receiving regimental pay, will he state whether this claim was reported on by the Commander-in-Chief of Madras as worthy of consideration; and, whether his claim has been rejected; if so, whether the decision will be reconsidered?


The facts are as stated in the first part of my hon. Friend's Question. The grounds for restricting majors of Artillery in the Indian Ordnance Department to the Staff Corps pay of that rank were, that the grade of major was reintroduced into the Royal Artillery for reasons connected with the command of batteries, and that these reasons were not applicable to the Ordnance Department, in which, except in the highest position, the actual rank of the officer was unimportant, while there never had been any question as to the adequacy of the pay for the duties to be performed. In 1891, on the representations of the Government of India, that this rule was, in their opinion, justly looked on as a grievance by the officers of the Ordnance Department, the Secretary of State modified the previous decision, and allowed these officers the regimental pay of their rank in addition to staff pay. In 1892 Colonel Fisher applied for the difference between regimental and Staff Corps pay for the period he served in the Ordnance Department as a major from May, 1880, to December, 1888. His claim was considered by the Commander-in-Chief, Madras, worthy of consideration, but was rejected by the Government of India as inadmissible, the decision of 1891 not having retrospective effect. In 1893 Colonel Fisher sent to the Secretary of State a memorial on the same subject, which was not supported by the Government of India, and was rejected by my predecessor. I see no valid reason for reconsidering that decision.