HC Deb 23 February 1905 vol 141 cc1097-8

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a petition has been presented to Lord Kitchener, Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces in India, on behalf of the Catholic chaplains in that Army, stating among other matters that some of them had served in India for periods of from twenty to forty years, and had not during the whole period of their divinity been granted leave of absence, while when through illness or other unavoidable cause they were compelled for a few days to relinquish their duties their stipends suffered a proportionate deduction, and that when Catholic chaplains become incapacitated through illness or old age they are dismissed without any pension, whereas Church of England and Presbyterian chaplains are entitled to an annual leave of two months without deduction of salary, and can claim pensions for life after fourteen years service; whether the War Office authorities have any and, if so, what explanation of this differentiation of treatment in the cases of Catholic chaplains and in the cases of Church of England and Presbyterian chaplains; on what ground have Catholic chaplains been placed in an inferior position to Protestant and Presbyterian chaplains; and what steps does the Government propose to take with reference to the granting of the prayer of the Catholic chaplains for equality of treatment and equal rights and privileges with Church of England and Presbyterian chaplains.


I am not aware that a petition to the effect stated by the hon. Member has been presented to Lord Kitchener; an inquiry on this point will be addressed to the Government of India. The difference of treatment in the case of Roman Catholic chaplains and in the cases of Church of England and Presbyterian chaplains is due to the fact that the latter are appointed by Government, and form a branch of the public service, while the Roman Catholic chaplains are appointed and controlled by the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church in India, and are liable to be removed or exchanged by their Bishops without any formal reference to the Indian authorities.