HL Deb 29 January 1855 vol 136 cc1064-5

My Lords, as my noble and gallant Friend has raised the present question, I think I have here a not unfitting opportunity for making a communication to the House, which I feel sure will be most agreeable to your Lordships as well as to our gallant army. After very careful consideration—a consideration which ought always to attend changes of such a description—Her Majesty has been advised to institute a Cross of Merit, which shall be applicable to all ranks of the army in future. It is not intended, my Lords, that this new Order shall in any way affect the present Order of the Bath, but that a separate and distinct Cross of Military Merit shall be given, which shall be open to all ranks of the army, and which, I hope, will be an object of ambition to every individual in the service, from the General who commands down to the privates in the ranks. My Lords, I cannot say that the rules for this new Cross are entirely matured, for the subject requires a great deal of consideration. Still I can inform your Lordships that the Order will be somewhat analogous to those existing in some countries of the Continent—I believe in Spain, Prussia, and Austria; while I may also state generally that its distribution will be so arranged as to obviate the invidious task of selecting the individuals upon whom it is to be conferred from devolving upon officers; for in all cases the principle will be adopted of adjudicating the distinction according to the verdict of a jury of the peers of the individual who is to be distinguished; that verdict, however, will have to be confirmed by the decision of the home authorities. I believe, my Lords, that the rule which I have here stated is that which guides the distribution of rewards under those orders of Spain and Prussia to which I have just referred.


was understood to say that the Austrian Order of Maria Theresa was only conferred by the Sovereign in person. The principle which he himself wished to see carried out, and for which he had contended the other night, was, that no one should receive a medal unless he had taken actual part in the engagement or engagements on account of which it was given.