HC Deb 29 June 1899 vol 73 cc969-71
SIR J. COLOMB (Yarmouth)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War to explain the apparent discrepancies between his statement and the figures on page 22 of the Army Estimates as to the constitution of the garrison at Wei-hai-wei; whether there is to be at that place one company of Chinese artillery and six companies of Chinese infantry, as stated by him, or five companies of Chinese infantry and no local garrison artillery, as stated in the Estimates; and if the proposed constitution of the garrison at Wei-hai-wei has been changed and. augmented since the Army Estimates were ordered to be printed on 22nd February last, what is now proposed to be the numerical strength of the garrison, and when and why was such alteration made; and whether he can give any assurance that there will be no further increase in number or cost of military forces to be locked up at Wei-hai-wei.


The figures given in my statement correctly give the approved garrison of Wei-hai-wei. Those shown at page 22 of the Estimates represent, as stated in the footnote, that portion of the garrison which we expected to raise during the current year. There is no present intention of augmenting the approved garrison.


I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether the Army Estimates of last year provided for an excess of garrison artillery and infantry over the War Office scale of requirements of garrisons at home and abroad; if not, how is it proposed to provide the one company of garrison artillery and 2/8 battalion of infantry for Wei-hai-wei without creating a corresponding deficiency elsewhere, having regard to the fact that this year's Army Estimates show that no increase has been made to the infantry, and that only seventeen (all ranks) have been added to the garrison artillery since last year.


The two companies of British infantry required for Wei-hai-wei will be provided by the battalion at Hong Kong, their place being taken by native troops. As some time must elapse before the defences of Wei-hai-wei can be completed, there is no immediate necessity for deciding the source from which the garrison company will be drawn, but the alterations about to be made in the armament of our foreign stations will, it is hoped, release a certain number of garrison artillerymen.