HC Deb 03 July 1899 vol 73 cc1271-2
SIR J. COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War when the Secretary for War decided that at places where important building works, necessitating heavy expenditure of public money, are under consideration, it is desirable that the senior officer should belong to the Royal Engineers. Whether, before such decision was arrived at, the probable effects of thus securing for the officer charged with advising and supervising expenditure absolute freedom from local supervision and control by independent military authority on the spot was fully considered. And whether it is intended to apply this rule to all places, such as Bermuda, Jamaica, and Mauritius, named in the Schedule of the Military Works Bill, by conferring on the Royal Engineer officer at each of those stations local rank superior to that of his present commanding officer, as has already been done at Esquimalt under this rule.


The decision referred to by my hon. and gallant friend has reference to the case of Esquimalt only. The appointment of Major Grant, with local rank, was considered in all its bearings. My reply of the 12th May did not cite a rule, but explained that one officer of the Royal Engineers had been appointed to succeed another in the command of Esquimalt.


Does the rule apply only to Esquimalt?


It is not a rule. What I said was that at Esquimalt a Royal Engineer officer has heretofore been in command, and he is to be succeeded by another.