HC Deb 22 February 1901 vol 89 cc840-1
* MR. MANSFIELD (Lincolnshire, Spalding)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether General Colvile was tried twice for the same offence; whether he was exonerated on the first occasion and reinstated in his command at Gibraltar; whether afterwards fresh evidence was adduced; and whether General Colvile was again tried in his absence and without an opportunity being given him of rebutting such new evidence.


The statements in the question do not accurately represent the facts. General Colvile was sent home from South Africa by Lord Roberts for inefficiency in the field. He was never tried, and, although his case was considered on his return, and he was allowed to resume his command at Gibraltar, he was not exonerated from blame. His case was brought to my notice in December last by the Acting Commander-in-Chief, Sir Evelyn Wood, on receipt of the finding of the Court of Inquiry into the Lindley disaster. I thought it right to consult Lord Roberts, who was cognisant of all the circumstances connected with General Colvilo's failure in South Africa, and was in possession of his explanation, as to whether he could properly retain his command at Gibraltar. Lord Roberts advised that he should not retain his command, and, as the Acting Commander-in-Chief concurred in this view, I directed that action should be taken accordingly. I should add that, as I have received notice from two Members of their intention to bring General Colvile's case before the House on the earliest opportunity, I propose to defer making a full statement till that occasion, as the case is not one which can be conveniently discussed by question and answer across the floor of the House.


Arising out of the answer, may I inquire if it is not a fact that Lord Roberts specially commended the conduct of General Colvile, who in consequence is about to receive a special pension?


It is perfectly true that Lord Roberts specially commended General Colvile, but subsequent events occurred which made it necessary to remove him.


Is he to receive a special pension?

[No answer was given.]

* SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

Will similar treatment be meted out to more highly placed generals who have made greater blunders?


Order, order! That does not arise out of the question on the Notice Paper.