HC Deb 20 March 1905 vol 143 cc441-2
SIR SEYMOUR KING (Hull, Central)

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he has received reports on the barrack accommodation in North China, showing that the quarters and barracks of British officers and native ranks of the Indian contingent quartered in China at Shan-hai-Kwan, Tientsin, and other stations, were in an unsanitary condition; whether he is aware that at Shan-hai-Kwan nearly every British officer has been, at some time or other, laid up with fever, dysentery, or diarrhœa; that the quarters of both officers and men were in an old yamen, the enclosure of which is the old bed of the river Shito, and liable to be flooded; whether, seeing that the other foreign contingents at Shan-hai-Kwan are better housed in forts captured by the British force in 1900, and at Tientsin have superior accommodation, and in view of the condition of those of our own troops, he will explain why the money taken in the last year's Army Estimates for the improvement of the accommodation at Pekin was not expended, and why it is now decided to spend no money at Shan-hai-Kwan.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Arnold-Forster.) The official reports do not bear out the statements made in the Question as to the insanitary character of the barrack accommodation for the troops in North China. It is, however, admitted that the officers' quarters at Shan-hai-Kwan compare very unfavourably with those at Tientsin. As regards Shan-hai Kwan and Tientsin, local syndicates have offered to erect suitable barracks for the troops, and lease them to the War Department; and these offers have been accepted. As regards Pekin, since the money was originally taken in Army Estimates a revision of the scheme has been brought forward and is receiving careful consideration.