§ MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, whether he will arrange that commanding officers of regiments, battalions, and batteries shall be granted the power to discharge,, without reference to the War Office, any private soldier in their command whom they may certify in writing to be an undesirable character, whose retention would be injurious to the interests of the service.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
No reference to the War Office is necessary in such cases. The General Officer Commanding has power to authorise the discharge of any man for "misconduct" or "on account of his services being no longer required" on the application of the commanding officer. It is not considered advisable to delegate this authority to the commanding officer alone, as uniformity of practice is desirable.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
May I ask whether, in view of the right hon. Gentleman's desire to decentralise the authority as far as possible, and in view also of the fact that commanding officers are wholly responsible for the state of the battalions under them, and are 299 therefore the only persons who have sufficient knowledge of the facts, the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider his decision?
§ MR. BRODRICK
I cannot promise to do so. If an officer commanding is to be put in that position, every officer commanding other units, such as a battery of artillery, will also be in the same position. We cannot have some 200 or 300 different authorities dealing with cases of misconduct—we must have uniformity.