HL Deb 09 July 1906 vol 160 cc471-3

rose to ask His Majesty's Government if they would appoint a Committee to investigate into the alleged grievances of the senior Reserve officers who were called up for service during the late war in South Africa. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it may be within the recollection; of some of your Lordships that I first brought this matter to the notice of this House so long ago as May, 1903.† On that occasion the then Under-Secre- † See (4) Debates, cxxii., 277 et seq.. tary of State for War, during his speech in answer to my Motion, made the following statement to your Lordships— I admit that grievances have arisen in exceptional eases. Not every officer who has been re-employed has a grievance, hut there are special cases in which the Secretary of State for War thinks that some redress may be necessary. For that reason my right hon. friend has recently appointed a Committee which is inquiring into the whole subject; and if, on the Report of that Committee, he is able to see his way to put forward proposals for the consideration of the Treasury he will do so."‡ Those, my Lords, were the words of the Under - Secretary of State for War in May, 1903. I have since been informed on several occasions by my noble friend the late Under - Secretary of State for War that such a Committee did exist, and that it was a War Office Committee. All I can venture to say is that it was a very mysterious Committee, as I have never been able to ascertain what report it made, if it ever made one, which I very much doubt. There is one thing very evident, and that is, that this mysterious Committee took no evidence, as several Reserve officers who were affected came forward, and asked to give evidence before it, and they were refused.

I am also informed that an appeal by those officers was made about a year ago to Mr. Arnold-Forster, when he was in office, to allow the matter to be referred to arbitration by the then Lord Chancellor, and that this appeal did not even elicit a reply. I do trust the present Government, several members of which have consistently shown their sympathy with the grievances of the senior Reserve officers who were called up for service during the late war, and some of whom did me the honour of going into the lobby with me when I divided your Lordships' House unsuccessfully last year on this subject, will appoint a Committee to inquire into the whole matter, and that such an inquiry will be as open a one as possible, and that at any rate those officers who come forward will be permitted to give evidence before it.


My Lords, the whole case of ‡ See (4) Debates, cxxii., 280. the officers referred to has been the subject of most careful consideration, but I regret to have to inform the noble Lord that it has not been found practicable to re-open the question which has been previously considered and definitely settled. The decision therefore already arrived at regarding the emoluments of the retired officers temporarily employed during the South African campaign must be adhered to. Regulations have, however, been prepared with a view to making the pay drawn during re-employment quite independent of either retired pay or gratuity, and the Army Council are therefore, confident that any apparent difficulties in the interpretation of the Royal Warrant will be avoided in future, and any anomaly such as that which occurred in the past will not occur again.