HC Deb 07 May 1908 vol 188 cc396-7
SIR SEYMOUR KING (Hull, Central)

To ask the Under-Scretary of State for India whether any Royal Warrant has been published modifying the system laid down in the Royal Warrant of 1861 for the Indian Staff Corps, now Indian Army, under which officers were promoted after fixed periods of service; whether lieutenants of six years service and captains appointed to certain staff or regimental posts can be promoted to the next higher ranks on the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief in India, thus superseding other officers of the same length of service; whether this practice is sanctioned by Royal Warrant, and the date of such Warrant; whether majors are promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, irrespective of length of service, on appointment to the command of a regiment or battalion and to other posts; whether this practice is sanctioned by Royal Warrant, and the date of such Warrant; whether this rule has caused the supersession of efficient officers, especially of those of Indian cavalry; whether, in the case of a field officer in military employ whose promotion it is desired to withhold, the practice of the military authorities in India is to suggest to the officer that he should take leave and retire at the expiration of such leave period; whether this practice has the approval of the Secretary of State for India; and whether all these new conditions do or do not specifically contravene the principle of Indian Army promotion as established by Royal Warrant.

(Answered by Mr. Buchanan.) The system of promotion laid down for the Indian Staff Corps in the Royal Warrant of 1861 was superseded by provisions in successive Royal Warrants from 1881 to 1907, directing that promotion in the Indian Staff Corps, now the Indian Army, should be made under such regulations as might be laid down from time to time by the Secretary of State for India in Council. Under regulations thus laid down in 1904 a limited number of lieutenants and captains may be specially promoted, and majors are promoted as stated in the Question without completing the periods of service ordinarily required. Some supersession of individuals is necessarily involved in this system, in so far as it is a departure from the old system of promotion after certain fixed periods of service, and I believe it is a fact that regimental commands in the Indian cavalry are, on the average, not attained until after longer service than in the infantry. The cases of officers whose promotion is withheld on account of unfitness are dealt with on their merits, and a special period of leave pending retirement is sometimes granted in such cases. The present system does not appear to the Secretary of State to contravene the Royal Warrants.