HL Deb 26 February 1904 vol 130 cc1151-2

My Lords, I rise to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War—(1) Whether the Committee appointed by the late Secretary of State for War to inquire into the whole subject of the grievances of the Reserve officers who were called up for service during the late war in South Africa, has yet made its Report; and (2.) whether the said Report, if made, or when made, together with the proceedings, will be laid on the Table of the House. I have on two former occasions brought to the notice of your Lordships the decided disparity between the treatment of the two classes of Reserve officers called up for service in the late war, and therefore I need not now take up your Lordships' time by repeating what I have already said. My reason for asking this Question is that on 7th August last the noble Earl who was at that time Under-Secretary of State for War intimated to your Lordships, in reply to a Question which I submitted, that the Report of the Committee which the late Secretary of State for War had appointed to inquire into the whole subject of the grievances of Reserve Officers would shortly be published. The announcement of the appointment of this Committee was made to your Lordships on 11th May last by the noble Earl, but I have been unable to ascertain anything whatever about the Committee or its Report. There is a very strong impression prevalent among Reserve officers that the Committee in question has either unaccountably delayed its investigations, or that if it has made its Report it has done so without an exhaustive examination of the case. I attribute this view to the refusal of the War Office authorities to accept the evidence which many of the pensioned Reserve officers volunteered to give before the Committee.


My Lords, the noble Lord appears to be under a misapprehension as to the exact purposes for which the Committee was appointed. The Committee was not appointed to inquire into the grievances of Reserve officers during the late war. It was appointed to inquire into the whole question as to the past, present, and future re-employment of Reserve officers in time of war. The Committee has made its Report, but no decision has as yet been come to as to whether the Report will be adopted or not. I am unable to say, therefore, whether it will be laid on the Table of the House, nor can I give any pledge to that effect. It may interest the noble Lord, however, to know that the Committee did emphatically report against making any of their proposals retrospective. As regards the proceedings of the Committee, they can never be laid on the Table, as no shorthand notes were taken.

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