HL Deb 21 June 1875 vol 225 cc247-8

moved that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for, Copies of any Correspondence now in the India Office between the Government of India and the India Office relating to the effects of competitive examination and the present system of education for first commissions and appointments in India.


said, he was sorry that he could not consent to the Motion, for the good reason that the correspondence was still going on, and it would be quite irregular to lay upon the Table part of an incomplete correspondence.


said, he should be glad if the noble Duke would give their Lordships some information upon this important subject, as many persons were anxious to know whether the men appointed under the present system of competitive examination did their work better in India than those appointed under the old system.


said, that he must express his surprise and regret that he should now for the third time be refused Papers relating to a question which was the subject of general complaint—the system of civil competitive examination as a qualification of candidates for first commissions in the Army. The first excuse was that the Civil Commissioners declined to give the Papers he moved for for reasons which were unintelligible. He was not aware that the Civil Commissioners of Education had a right to refuse a Member of their Lordships' House Papers which would throw light on the important question whether the present system of education, which placed in the hands of Civil Examiners the extraordinary power, not known in any other Army, of admitting military candidates into the service of their Sovereign and their country, or of disqualifying them for it, was not a great anomaly and a great mistake. Nothing could be more important than the proper and efficient officering of our Army, especially in the times in which we lived, when two great military Powers were, perfectly armed and organized, contemplating a war of retaliation, which might upset the balance of power and the rights in which this country was so much interested.


assured their Lordships that we did not get better men in India for the Civil Service at any period within his recollection than we obtained under the competitive system. He might not be considered to be a competent judge of the merits or qualifications of young officers who went out in the military service, but he did not know that those who went out under the competitive system were inferior to those under the old or patronage system. They appeared to him to be all of the same class socially—the only difference between the two systems being that under the competitive system we insured a certain qualification and intellectual culture in our officers, which we were not certain to secure under the other system. He felt it his duty to bear testimony to the competitive system as on the whole superior to the old or patronage system.

On Question, resolved in the negative.

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