HL Deb 04 June 1886 vol 306 cc1003-5

asked the Under Secretary of State for War, Whether, having regard to the reports, made at the conclusion of the last training, on the state of the Snider rifles at present used by the Irish Militia, as to the impossibility of accurate shooting owing to the grooving of the barrels being worn out, Her Majesty's Government are prepared to issue the Martini-Henry rifle to that force? The rifles at present in use were issued in 1869 and 1870. They were not then new, and from wear had become deteriorated, the grooving in many cases being obliterated; they were therefore not only useless, but dangerous, and many complaints were made about them during the training of 1885. It seemed to him unfair to the men, as well as a waste of time, to put them through the course of ball practice with an inefficient weapon. He trusted, therefore, especially as the English and Scotch Militia and the Volunteers were already supplied with Martini-Henrys, that the noble Lord would be able to give an assurance that the Martini-Henry would be issued, or, at all events, the defective weapons replaced by effective ones.


said, he was able to confirm the statement contained in the Question of the noble Earl (the Earl of Granard). The Irish Militia regiment which he had the honour to command finished their training a few days ago. The instructor of musketry in the regiment reported that the rifles with which the men were armed were not only incapable of correct firing, but they were positively dangerous, because, the grooving of the barrels being worn out in most cases, the projectiles, in consequence, struck the targets at an angle. The result was that in many cases the projectile was deflected, and came back with very great force. Two officers and several men were struck during the recent firing, so that the practice was attended with considerable risk. The accoutrements, too, of the men were so rotten that it was impossible for the men to keep them on their backs, as when they strapped them on their backs the straps broke.


, in reply, said, it was the intention of the Secretary of State to order a distribution of Martini-Henry rifles to the Irish Militia so soon as the new arm was ready for issue to the Infantry of the Line. At the same time, those Sniders then in the possession of the Irish Militia which were reported as unfit would be exchanged, and notice of that was given on receipt of the report of unfitness from the Commander-in-Chief. He might say that the Superintendent of the Royal Small Arms Factory had received orders to make a general inspection of the arms and to effect repairs. They were overhauled after last training, and would be after that training. The Irish Militia would be dealt with next, Martini-Henry carbines for Artillery, and Martini-Henry rifles for Infantry, as soon as our store admitted of it.