HC Deb 07 August 1899 vol 76 c14

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War with reference to the case mentioned in the 1898 Report on Military Prisons of a prisoner, only twenty-two years of age, but who had enlisted nine times and deserted no less than six times, he being first accepted for enlistment when fifteen years of age, whether the dates of his enlistments and desertions could be given; and whether, in view of the fact that the desertions from the Army during 1898 amounted to 4,107, whilst the percentage of sentences by courts martial shows no reduction, and that of minor punishments is the highest recorded since 1888, the Government would be prepared only to accept persons for enlistment who can satisfactorily account for themselves, or to adopt a system of identification as recommended by the Inspector-General of Military Prisons in his Report.


It has not yet been possible to obtain the information sought. The statement referred to was taken from the man's own confession. In regard to the second paragraph, the suggested system was given a trial for three years, and found to cause excessive labour and expense. Every effort is made to exclude men of bad character.