HC Deb 05 March 1903 vol 118 cc1556-7
*SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER (Wiltshire, Chippenham)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the statement that the Army, inclusive of India, now stands at 271,800, and is, on that basis, 12,000 over strength, is in accordance with the figures of the Estimates of this year, seeing that the number of men on the establishment of the Army for the current year is 210,000 exclusive, and 284,378 inclusive, of the Indian Army.


Yes, Sir. The statement is in accordance with the figures shown in the Estimates. The latter figures include Officers, Warrant Officers and the whole of the Colonial Corps and Indian troops in the colonies which are paid for out of Imperial funds; the figures in my statement exclude these items.

MR. BECKETT (Yorkshire, N. R., Whitby)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the approaching discussion on the Army Estimates, he will issue a detailed statement as to the actual effective strength of the Army now serving in this country.


May I also ask the Secretary of State for War if he can state from Regimental Return B. 104, rendered monthly to the War Office, the numbers on 28th February of effective Regular troops in the units of the first three Army Corps furnishing that Return; and say how many of the 12,000 surplus men belong to those units.


In replying to a similar Question put by my hon. friend the Member for Oldham on Tuesday last, I fully explained my reasons for not attempting to give any detailed figures of effective strength at present owing to the numerous moves and drafting now taking place, but I am prepared to grant a return as soon as these moves have ceased and an accurate return can be made. †See page 1227.


But is it not possible to ascertain the effective strength serving in this country at the present moment? Cannot the right hon. Gentleman telegraph to the various commanders of Army Corps and ascertain from them the number of men who are in receipt of pay at this moment?


Of course, it is always possible to telegraph for information, but information so obtained would not be the most accurate.




Because it would not include the troops on passage or those leaving units to go abroad. It would give a totally inadequate idea of the force in the United Kingdom at the present moment. There are about 18,000 men at this moment on gratuity furlough.


Would not the information be as accurate as that given by the right hon. Gentleman the other night?


I gave the Honse the other night the total strength of the Army at home and abroad, including those who are on passage.