HC Deb 10 January 1916 vol 77 cc1285-6

asked the Under-Secretary for War whether the rule which heretofore in peace time regulated the promotion of officers in the Indian and Egyptian Armies, namely, that every subaltern must have served nine years before being eligible for promotion to a captaincy and every captain for nine years as captain before being eligible for promotion to the rank of major, is being still enforced during war time, with the result that junior officers from the English Regular or Territorial Armies, many of whom have no knowledge of native languages, are being promoted over the heads of Indian and Egyptian officers who are their seniors in point of service and familiar with native languages?


I am sorry to say I have only just noticed that my hon. Friend's question refers to Egypt and India, and my answer deals with the Indian case only. I have no information about the Egyptian case. As regards India, as I have before explained in answer to a similar question on the subject, there is a fundamental difference between the system of promotion in the British Army and that prevailing in the Indian Army, and an appropriate remedy for the disparity resulting from the exceptional conditions of the War is not easy to devise. Certain suggestions have been made to me by the Government of India. These have been examined by a Committee representing the War Office and the India Office, and I am awaiting their recommendations.


Might I ask whether the effect of bringing in from outside officers who have no knowledge of the native languages has a very bad effect upon the Indian Army?


The hon. Member, I think, is assuming a great deal in assuming that officers are brought in from outside with no knowledge of the native languages. I am not aware to what he is alluding.