HC Deb 21 February 1901 vol 89 cc661-2
LT.-COL. LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that dissatisfaction exists in the Army over the protracted delay in announcing the rewards to officers and men who have rendered distinguished services in South Africa, and that several of the officers and men who were recommended for reward in despatches written nearly a year ago have since died unrewarded, or have left the service; and whether it would be possible in future to adopt the Continental custom of conferring rewards promptly upon troops whilst in the field, or at any rate to issue such rewards before the services for which they are granted are forgotten both by the renderers thereof and by the general public.


I have no doubt that the publication of the rewards for services rendered in the South African War is being anxiously awaited, and I regret that it is the case that some officers mentioned in despatches have died. But I do not think there has been any avoidable delay in dealing with the subject; the work entailed in connection with it is very great, and many of the recommendations have only recently been received. Some are still awaited. The consideration of the names to be recommended is receiving the most constant attention by the Commander-in-Chief and myself, but some thousands of names have been mentioned, and the House will understand that the labour at present falling on the heads of the War Office is exceptionally arduous. I have already considered with the Commander-in-Chief the desirability of empowering the General in the field to give certain rewards promptly as I believe that such recognition is very valuable.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in our last great war —the Crimea—awards were distributed within three months of the battles of Alma and Inkermann? Why should not that example be followed now?


said rewards could not be given before despatches were published, and Lord Roberts's most recent despatches had not yet been fully considered.