HC Deb 09 February 1900 vol 78 cc1045-6
* SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War if he will explain and define the exact meaning and limits of the official phrase, "the advice of the military authorities"; whether that phrase is to be taken to mean in general application the specific and particular advice or opinion of the Commander-in-Chief for the time being for which he is alone responsible, or whether it embraces advice and opinion given by other military officers not necessarily coinciding with that of the Commander-in-Chief; and whether that phrase excludes or includes the opinion or advice of political and civil officials of the War Office.


"Military authorities" is not an official term. It does not occur in any Order in Council or other official document. Its meaning and limits are, therefore, not defined. If they have ever seemed obscure the fault must have rested with the user of the phrase—probably myself—for it ought to have been obvious from the context that the step in question was taken on the advice of military and not of political and civil officials. If used in connection with important questions of policy it would point to the status of the Commander-in-Chief and Army Board as defined by Order in Council. If used in connection with minor executive subjects or with movements in the field it would point to the military officer or officers charged with their conduct.


My question was not directed to any official document. I wished to know what the hon. Gentleman himself means.


That is what I have endeavoured to explain. When speaking of great questions of policy I refer to the Commander-in-Chief and Army Board, in a matter relating to a district the general officer commanding in that district, and in relation to an action taken in the field the general commanding the troops there.