HC Deb 05 February 1900 vol 78 cc571-2

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether, since the Volunteer rifle regiments of the county of Somerset were called upon to supply a company to join the regular county regiment in South Africa, about 100 men have passed the required tests; whether, as this number was somewhat under the numbers required, the company has now been disbanded; whether this decision can be reconsidered, and the services of these men who have come forward for active service accepted, and the company mobilised at once; and, whether, in order to make up the few required, some modifications of the regulations can be made in the direction of accepting one year men, or second class shots who have in previous years been in a higher class in shooting.

The following question on the same subject also appeared on the paper:—

MR. HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)

To ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether an order has been given for disbanding the men of the 1st Somerset Volunteer Light Infantry, who have volunteered for active service in South Africa, after they have gone through part of their training; if he will state how many volunteered in the first instance, and how many were rejected by the medical officers; if men who had served in the Army were rejected because they had served less than two years with the Volunteers; what notice was given of the proposed disbandment; and if it is proposed to disband all companies which do not come up to the required strength, without giving the men the option of serving in other companies.


In answering this question I should like at the same time to reply to the question asked by the Member for Somerset, East. The number of men who actually passed the tests was 90, and, though some additional volunteers came forward, the total still fell short of 116, the required number. The formation of the company was, accordingly, not proceeded with. It is evidently desirable that the strength of companies in the field should be as uniform as possible, but the Secretary of State has decided that in cases where the deficiency in number is inconsiderable, special arrangements for making it good may be sanctioned; each case will be dealt with on its merits. The Somersetshire Light Infantry Volunteers are 3,000 strong, and the number required to form a company of the proper strength was only 3½ per cent. of the whole.


Has the formation of the company been authorised to proceed?


This is one of the cases to which favourable consideration has been given.