HC Deb 03 July 1900 vol 85 cc402-4

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether, seeing that till last autumn the militia competitive examination consisted of Military law, tactics, fortification, and military topography, he will explain why the subjects of military law and tactics have been excluded from the course, and military history, consisting of the first 130 pages of Hamley's "Operations of War," dealing with the strategic movements in the Napoleonic Wars, substituted since the South. African War, such being a study of a system of military operations rendered obsolete by smokeless powder and the improvements in modern firearms.


The changes were made because it was thought better to have one instead of two examinations. But care was taken not to prejudice the chances of candidates who had passed the first examination under the old system.


I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to state whether Militia candidates doing duty with their embodied battalions will be forced to pass a competitive examination in September; and, if so, in what subjects they will be examined.


The subjects for the revised Militia examination were published in August, 1899. As I have stated in reply to a previous question, arrangements have been made to prevent hardship to those who have already passed the first examination under the old system. These arrangements would have been in force in March if an examination had been held; and they will be in force in September. I may point out the necessity for a competition examination depends on whether or not there are more vacancies than candidates.


Will there be a competitive examination in September?


I think almost certainly, but it depends whether the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacancies. If a greater number of gentlemen wish to enter the Army than there are vacancies for, then they must compete between themselves for the vacancies.

GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)

Will the officers now serving at the front be required to go through the same literary competitive examinations as those in garrisons? If so, it will be extremely hard.


It is difficult to deal with this matter in answer to questions. Care has been taken to make the examinations as equal as possible. It is impossible for the officers at the front to compete next September, and therefore a portion of places will be set apart and will be filled up on the nomination of Lord Roberts. As to officers of Militia at home or on the Mediterranean stations a difficulty arises, because commanding officers have been able to give leave to some, but have had to refuse it to others. We hope, however, to meet their case by granting a proportion of marks for every day of duty done, and every day on board ship, which will equalise conditions as far as possible.

MR. BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)

Arising out of this answer may I ask whether in the case of Militia abroad, but not in South Africa, the examination of candidates will be held in England or at their respective stations?


The examination in these eases will be held at the respective stations for those candidates who are at their stations, and an allowance of marks will be made for everyday of duty done and for every day on board ship.