§ MR. NIELD (Middlesex, Ealing)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the report of Major-General Scobell upon the conduct of the five officers of the 5th Lancers who were placed upon half-pay was founded upon existing written reports from Colonel Graham, the officer commanding, or whether they depended, and in what respect, upon verbal communications between the two officers; will he say why reports upon the efficiency of officers are allowed to be forwarded to the Army Council which are not founded upon the written statement of the officer in command, and, further, why the five officers in question were judged in camera without any previous official communication being made to them as to what charge whether of breach of discipline or want of 1592 efficiency) was or had been made against them and without their being called upon for an explanation; and whether the Army Council object, and for what reason, to have public inquiry into the circumstances relating to the case of the officers of the 5th Lancers retired upon half pay.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE,) Haddington
The officer commanding the 5th Lancers reported in writing adversely on these five officers to the major-general commanding the 1st Cavalry Brigade. These adverse reports were in every instance communicated to the officers concerned and doubtless formed the basis of the general's reports. It is not only necessary but desirable that a general officer should consult with a commanding officer when the latter renders an unfavourable written report upon an officer. But once the general has formed his opinion of the officer in question and recorded it in writing, he is bound by regulation to communicate his written report to the officer. The adverse reports by the General Officer Commanding 1st Cavalry Brigade on the five officers were in each case communicated to the officers concerned. An officer who considers himself wronged by an adverse report has a statutory right to appeal against that report. When an officer exercises that right the appeal together with the unfavourable report are submitted for the decision of the Army Council. The object of convening a Court of Inquiry is to assist superior officers in eliciting information on any subject of an intricate or disputed nature. In the cases in question there are, in the opinion of the Army Council, no grounds for an inquiry.