HC Deb 28 February 1917 vol 90 cc2021-3
33 and 34. Mr. R. McNEILL

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office (1) in view of pecuniary compensation being considered inappropriate to the case of Lieut. Barrett, if he will say what form of compensation it is proposed to make to this officer for the wrongs he has suffered; and (2) whether, in considering the propriety of making pecuniary compensation to Lieut. Barrett, account has been taken of the fact that, although, the commanding officer of Barrett's battalion was removed from his command and the Quartermaster-General of the Army was severely reprimanded by the Government for their conduct in relation to Barrett, the former of these two officers has since been given a staff appointment and the latter retains his position in the Army Council; whether these circumstances, in conjunction with the refusal of compensation to the junior officer whom they wronged, are an indication of reluctance on the part of the Army Council to accept the report of the court of inquiry; and whether, in view of the recent precedent supplied by the Archer-Shee case, where a sum of £4,000 was awarded as compensation to an officer for a wrongful accusation having been made against him, the question of pecuniary compensation to Lieut. Barrett will be reconsidered?


The late commanding officer of Lieut. Barrett's battalion is at present medically unfit, and ho is to be sent to France on recovery. He has not been given a staff appoint- ment. I have already explained to the House the Quartermaster-General's position, and I will remind hon. Members that the court expressly said that no action of Sir J. Cowans's had any bearing on the decisions of which 2nd Lieut. Barrett had to complain. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary said on the 22nd that pecuniary compensation does not appear to be appropriate in Mr. Barrett's case. I would point out that Mr. Barrett's character has been amply vindicated in circumstances of the fullest publicity, and he has before him the prospect of a long and useful military career. Mr. Archer-Shee's case does not appear to me to be a precedent, as I understand he suffered loss by having to abandon the profession for which he had been prepared and was put to the expense of fitting himself for another. In justice to Lieut. Barrett, I think that I should state that he himself has not made any application of any kind for any compensation of this sort.


Does my hon. Friend not know perfectly well that as a result of the transactions which were inquired into, Lieut. Barrett has been rendered totally unfit for military service for the rest of his life?


I am not aware of that fact, and I do not think the hon. Member is right in stating that. All that I know is that Lieut. Barrett is still an officer and is still being paid by us.


I give notice that I will raise the question on the Debate on the Army Estimates.


May I ask if the report presented to the House on the Lieut. Barrett affair was bowdlerised or accurate?


All that we promised was that the terms of the findings were to be published, and we did publish the findings as they were presented to us.


Inasmuch as Lieut. Barrett has not asked for any pecuniary compensation, may I ask why Members of this House should take upon themselves to ask it for him?


Can the hon. Gentleman say that at no time has a claim for compensation been put in on behalf of Lieut. Barrett?


I understand that at no time has a claim of any sort been made by Lieut. Barrett, or by anybody on his behalf.