HC Deb 16 November 1911 vol 31 cc498-9

asked whether Major Stokes has been ordered to leave Teheran and return to India; whether it is in accordance with the practice in the Army to refuse an officer permission to resign in time of peace; whether, in the case of Major Stokes, the military authorities acted on their own initiative or at the request of the Foreign Office; and whether Major Stokes had been allowed to pledge himself to accept an appointment under the Persian Government on condition that he resigned his position in the British Army?


The answer to the first question is that I understand that Major Stokes has been appointed to the General Staff at Simla, and has been requested to join his post as soon as possible. In answer to the second question, I cannot say what the practice in the Army is; but whatever it is, I do not think it can be right or reasonable to give permission to resign at a particular moment in order to enable a British officer to do something that is politically undesirable. The answer to the third question is that I am ready to accept full responsibility for the general line taken with regard to Major Stokes in this case. The answer to the last question is that Major Stokes was told in the first instance that he would have to resign his commission in the Indian Army before accepting command of the gendarmerie. I was not aware then that he had given an actual pledge; he may have done so after receiving that reply. Subsequently, it became quite clear that his appointment was not only undesirable, but impossible; and had I been aware of all the circumstances, I should have said so in the first instance.