HC Deb 17 July 1905 vol 149 cc871-3
MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)

I beg to ask if the Government are in a position to make any statement as to the decision of the Government of India on the question of military administration which recently arose?


The Viceroy has communicated to me by telegraph certain points in connection with the despatch of May 31st †See page 390. on Army administration, on which the Government of India think it necessary to make representations, in order, as they submit, to render the working of the new scheme practicable. I have explained in return that these recommendations do not contravene the provisions of the despatch, and have expressed the satisfaction of His Majesty's Government that Lord Kitchener is now in accord with the Viceroy and his Council as to the course to be adopted with regard to them. The points on which the Viceroy requested assurances were as follows:— (1) That the Member of Council in charge of the Military Supply Department should always be a soldier. His Majesty's Government are prepared to appoint a soldier to the impending vacancy, but they cannot fetter the discretion of the Crown as to future vacancies. (2) That the Military Supply Member should be available for official consultation by the Viceroy on all military questions without distinction. The reply of His Majesty's Government is that there is no desire to fetter the constitutional right of the Viceroy to consult any member of his Council officially or unofficially on any subject, but that the existing system, by which all the Commander-in-Chief's proposals pass to the Viceroy through the channel of the Military Member having been done away with, it follows that no special claim can exist for the Military Supply Member to be consulted or vote on the proposals of the Commander-in-Chief or vice versa. (3) That the Secretary to the Government of India in the Army Department (to be in future presided over by the Commander-in-Chief) should be given the local rank of major-general. To this there is no objection. (4) That important changes in military organisation, especially in the native Army, should be discussed by a Mobilisation Committee, of which the Commander-in-Chief and Military Supply Member should be essential members, and that a schedule of cases should be drawn up which the Secretary in the Army Department should submit to the Viceroy before orders are passed on them. These provisions are entirely in accord with the despatch; and His Majesty's Government are glad to find that on this, as on the preceding points, they can meet the views of the Government of India without affecting the principle of the new system which it has been deemed necessary to establish. The telegrams are being laid on the Table.