HC Deb 06 February 1902 vol 102 cc519-21

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the recent disclosures and the fact that the purchases of remounts are still being largely and constantly made, he will undertake that any inquiry which he proposes to institute shall be made without any delay and as promptly as possible.


I have already stated to the House that the Military Court of Inquiry for which General Truman has applied will be held as soon as possible, but that no general inquiry on remounts can be held until the present pressure on the Remount Department is abated. I hope the Court may begin its work next week.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of referring this whole question of remounts to a Committee of this House, instead of to a Military Court of Inquiry, especially as it is a purely business matter?


I think it will be obvious to the hon. Member and to the House, that if the officers who are at present engaged in the purchase of remounts and in inspecting them in different parts of the world are to be brought before a Committee of this House, the work of the Department must be practically brought to a standstill.


That would do no harm.

MR. BRODRICK (continuing)

It would be impossible for a Committee responsible to the House to hold an inquiry which would be in any way satisfactory without the attendance of these officers.

MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the Military Court of Inquiry which, at the request of the Inspector General of Remounts, is to be held at an early date, will be instructed to investigate the whole present system of the Remount Department, whilst leaving the question of determining the responsibility for past purchases to the Committee which is to assemble at the conclusion of the war; and, whether, in view of the fact that the buying of horses and mules is still going on, and must necessarily continue until the close of the war, he will undertake that the reference of the said Court of Inquiry shall be extended so as to include an investigation of the arrangements under which the further supply of horses and mules for service in South Africa will be purchased.


The Military Court of Inquiry will confine itself to General Truman's personal responsibility for the effective discharge by his Department of the duties which have fallen on it in connection with the war. It will not be possible to institute a general inquiry through the Military Court.