HL Deb 09 June 1882 vol 270 cc628-30

asked Her Majesty's Government, If any inquiry has been instituted, and report made, in relation to certain statements contained in a pamphlet written by Professor Bloxam, affecting the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich; and, if so, whether the report will be laid upon the Table? The noble Lord observed, that, though some of the statements made in the pamphlet had been impugned as exaggerations, they rested on the authority of a gentleman of unquestioned character and position. A gentleman who ventured to expose the failings and shortcomings of an institution, as Professor Bloxam had done, stood in a very unpleasant position. Nevertheless, in his opinion, Professor Bloxam deserved the highest credit for what he had done. Taking the Profession generally, he thought their Lordships would be of opinion that the lives of military men and the associations by which they were surrounded did not invest them with, those qualities of knowledge and experience which were necessary and essential for the ruling of a great educational establishment. The Woolwich Academy had, moreover, the additional disadvantage that the appointment of Governor was only held for a period of five years. Naturally, therefore, the post must be filled by men of different temperaments and different views. If there were a Governor who was lax in his mode of watching over this educational establishment, the inevitable consequence was that the next Governor who was appointed must resort to a more stringent discipline. The result was disturbance, spasmodic resentment, and a smouldering irritation in the establishment. In his opinion, an institution like the Woolwich Military Academy might be conducted more successfully under a civilian head with military assistants.


deemed it unnecessary to detain the House by prolonging remarks on a subject which was disposed of the other day. Without going, however, into the details which the noble Lord had brought forward, he would tell him at once, in answer to his Question, that in accordance with what he stated on a previous occasion, the Secretary of State had called for a Report on the allegations contained in Professor Bloxam's pamphlet. That Report was not of such a kind that it could be presented to Parliament. It affected matters of discipline, and it would be extremely inconvenient to present it to Parliament. But the Report dealt in detail with all the points brought forward by Professor Bloxam, and the Secretary of State considered that those allegations were satisfactorily dealt with, and that it was not necessary to proceed any further in the matter. He might mention that, after the close of the Correspondence referred to in his pamphlet, Dr. Bloxam had a long interview with the Governor; therefore, he had had a more ample opportunity of stating his view on the question of discipline than he could have had in Correspondence. He quite agreed with the noble Lord that the question was an im- portant one; and, no doubt, if any good result could have been brought about by publishing the result of the investigation, the Secretary of State would have been willing to strain the official custom of considering the result of such inquiries private; but no possible good could result from publication in the present instance. He could assure the noble Lord that the question had been carefully investigated in all points, and that the answers given to Professor Bloxam's allegations were satisfactory. There were, he admitted, some isolated cases of insubordination; but he did not think these were sufficient to establish anything approaching to a general accusation of indiscipline against the Institution. The question of discipline and instruction in these Institutions was one which occupied the serious attention of those who were responsible for the administration of the Army. At the present time, there was no desire to conceal any matter which ought to be attended to; but in regard to this case, he believed that Professor Bloxam, of whom he did not wish to say anything severe, had made statements which, in some instances, were quite unfounded, and in other instances, were exaggerated generalizations from isolated acts. An investigation, though not of a public character, would be made into the general subject of the education of candidates for the Army.

House adjourned at a quarter past Five o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven o'clock.