HL Deb 16 June 1882 vol 270 cc1394-7

THE EARL OF GALLOWAY moved— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to approve of Captain J. B. Chatterton, removed compulsorily to the Half-pay List on 26th April 1869, being reinstated in the Bengal Staff Corps from that date in consequence of its now having been admitted, on further investigation into his case, that the grounds upon which he was thus compulsorily removed to half-pay, viz., the terms of the despatch from the Government of India, dated 5th January 1869, adverting to this officer having reported himself 'unfit for duty whilst medical opinion was against him' upon this point, have now been completely disproved by the whole medical evidence as reported in the despatch from the Government of India of 21st February 1881, which substantiates the fact that in lieu of any conduct on his part calling for animadversion, Captain Chatterton was acting under the special general order of the late Lord Sandhurst when Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Forces in India, 1236 No.—dated loth March 1869, conveyed to C., him through the usual military channel.

The noble Earl said that nothing was more distasteful to himself than bringing before their Lordships a case of individual grievance; but this case had been the result of medical misapprehension, and it was right that it should be mentioned to the House. The reason why he had brought it forward was because Captain Chatterton was attached to the regiment in which he had served. The case would have been brought on in the other House of Parliament in the presence of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India; but there were sufficient reasons for knowing that a private Member could not bring forward any subject in that House. The case against Captain Chatterton appeared to be that he put forward complaints of illness, and that the Medical Boards in India did not agree in opinion in regard to those complaints, and then, when a request was sent home asking what was to be done in consequence, a summary order was issued Compulsorily removing him to the Half-pay List. It did appear from the Papers that Captain Chatterton was ill at Calcutta, and that he was in the hospital there. The case had been before successive Secretaries of State, and they thought it should not be re-opened, but why he did not know, as it seemed to be a hard one.


said, his noble and gallant Friend was quite right in saying that this case had occupied the attention of successive Secretaries of State for India and of the Indian Government; but he could not agree with him in thinking that there had been any misapprehension in the matter, nor did he think that Captain Chatterton had been treated otherwise than with patience, consideration, and strict justice. If, after hearing the remarks he had to make, their Lordships should be of the same opinion, he would ask them to say "Not Content" to the Motion. Lieutenant Chatterton entered the Service in 1856; he was placed on half-pay in April, 1869, after somewhat less than 14 years' service. During that period he was absent from India on medical certificates for six years and a-half. In 1868, having rejoined after a lengthened absence, much unpleasantness ensued between Lieutenant Chatterton and his superior officers, owing either to his inability or unwillingness to perform certain military duties, on the one hand the officer in question pleading physical inability to do his duty, on the other hand the medical evidence not bearing out these grounds for non-compliance with the orders the officer from time to time received. As a matter of fact, the Government of India accepted Lieutenant Chatterton's own version of his case, and, instead of bringing him to trial for alleged disobedience of orders and neg- lect of duty, they acted on his own asseverations, and considering that he had passed so much time on leave, and yet asked for another extension, they thought it best to place him upon half-pay. They could have done no more and no less in the case of any other officer similarly circumstanced as regarded the amount of previous leave that he might have had and the present doubtful state of his health. He could not understand how his noble and gallant Friend could look upon the despatch of February 21, 1881, in the way he had described it in the terms of his Motion, and in the remarks he had made in his speech. What were the facts? Towards the end of 1868 a Court of Inquiry was held as to why Lieutenant Chatterton failed to perform certain military duties; the officer's excuse was physical inability, owing to "a contraction of the left 'tendon Achilles.'" The Report of this Court was sent to head-quarters; the Commander-in-Chief addressed the Government as to the expediency of taking Lieutenant Chatterton at his own word with reference to his physical incapacity to serve, and removing him from the effective branch of the Service, as being totally unfit for the active duties of his Profession. Before the Government of India could take any action in the matter further difficulties arose with respect to Lieutenant Chatterton's non-performance of duty, the reason given by him being "palpitation of the heart." This further Report was sent on to the Government of India, and it was decided to recommend that Lieutenant Chatterton should be placed on half-pay. This officer was thereupon, in December, 1868, released from temporary arrest, under which he had been placed, and suspended from the performance of all military duties, pending the final official decision of the Government at home. Subsequently to these events, in March, 1869, Lieutenant Chatterton addressed a request direct to head-quarters, requesting to be allowed to choose his own medical attendant. To this the Adjutant General replied that— Pending the orders of Government in his case he might consider himself on leave in Calcutta, and might consult any medical officer he pleased. This permission, however, did not in anyway affect the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief made two months previously, that this officer should be placed on half-pay owing to ill-health. Lieutenant Chatterton, therefore, remained in Calcutta, availing himself of the Officers' Hospital in that city, and nominally still on the roll of his regiment, pending the final decision of the Government in his case. There was a medical and surgical Report of this officer's case made in the hospital at Calcutta, confirming the existence of weakness in the left ankle joint, but not confirming the presence of heart disease. Towards the end of the month of April the decision of the Secretary of State to place Lieutenant Chatterton upon half-pay was communicated to him, and he thereupon left hospital and returned to England. Since that time he had been in receipt of retired half-pay of £127 15s. yearly, the actual service performed by him falling short of eight years. Assuming that the conduct of this officer was irreproachable, that his services had been distinguished, and that he had become unfitted for work through devotion to his duty, he could have occupied no better position financially than he did now. Had the authorities in India granted him a third furlough, he would on his return to England have been placed on half-pay on precisely the same conditions as he was now. He did not wish in any way to reflect injuriously upon this officer's professional character; but he must maintain that there were no exceptional circumstances in this case to warrant such an act of Royal grace as the noble and gallant Lord in his Motion would suggest. He hoped, after what he had said, their Lordships would consider that Lieutenant Chatterton had not been treated harshly, with unkindness, or with injustice, and, therefore, that they would not consent to the Motion.


said, he was very anxious that it should not be supposed that there was any malingering in the case. After what he had heard from the noble Viscount he would not press his Motion to a division.


said, Lieutenant Chatterton was clearly entitled to his passage, or the amount of it; and if the statements of the Under Secretary of State for India were correct, under all the circumstances this further grant might meet the justice of the case.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.