HL Deb 04 May 1882 vol 269 cc65-7

rose to ask the Under Secretary for War, Whether any portions of the Evidence taken before the War Office Committee on Musketry could be laid on the Table of the House? The noble Lord said, he could quite understand why the Report and Evidence in extenso should not be laid on the Table; but, he thought it desirable that portions of the Report should be made available to the public. Great interest was taken in the subject in military circles. It was particularly desirable in the case of the Cavalry. He wished to make one or two suggestions on the subject. The first was that the number of rounds fired by the soldiers should be increased. As to the Volunteers, a man became efficient if he merely fired 60 rounds; but, in his opinion, some higher test should be exacted, and more encouragement should be given to the Volunteers to induce them to shoot better. He hoped his noble Friend would see his way to making that increase. Secondly, that the Government should grant sums in aid of regimental rifle clubs. Those clubs were of great use, and in some regiments were largely assisted by the officers. He thought it desirable, too, that steps should be taken to improve musketry instruction in the Militia and the Militia Reserve, particularly the latter, which he regarded as a most valuable arm of the Service. Musketry practice underwent a revolution every year in consequence of the successive improvements in the manufacture of fire-arms, and it was of the most vital importance that precision and skill in firing practice should keep pace with those improvements.


said, he was not surprised at the anxiety of the noble Lord to obtain information on this important subject. There was no point of the noble Viscount's speech with which he was unable to express his concurrence. The Report of the Committee could not be presented in its entirety. The fact was that the Report was of a very confidential character, and so was the evidence. The Secretary of State for War was, however, now considering what parts, if any, of that Report and Evidence could be laid on the Table of the House, and his decision, no doubt, would be arrived at at no distant time. With regard to the various suggestions of his noble Friend, he could make one observation which he believed would be extremely satisfactory to him. It was proposed at once, if, indeed, it had not been done already, to issue a considerably increased quantity of ammunition to the Army generally. For the future, the men would be supplied with 150 rounds per annum, and the amount served out to the recruits would be increased from 90 to 150 rounds, while that issued to the Militia would be very much increased. As regarded the question of musketry instruction for the Militia, he could not then go into the subject at length; but there could be no doubt that the time which was available for men of the Militia to go through that course was very short indeed. He quite agreed with what had fallen from the noble Lord with reference to the Volunteers. He thought it extremely desirable that more encouragement should be given to induce them to improve their shooting, and it was the intention of the Secretary of State to deal with that matter this year. The other questions to which the noble Lord referred affecting the musketry instruction of the Army were under the consideration of the Secretary of State, or of his Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief. That consideration had reached an advanced state, and he hoped before long regulations would be issued regarding them.