HC Deb 28 February 1917 vol 90 cc2039-41W
Sir J. D. REES

asked the Secretary of State for India whether any and, if so, what action is being taken in view to removing or mitigating the grievances suffered by British officers in the Indian Army in respect of the refusal to them of the pay of captain and major until they have served nine and eighteen years, and their consequent inferior position as compared with that occupied by officers of the British Army in the like position in respect of their sick furlough pay, the Indian Army officer being placed on half-pay after two years' sick leave if unfit for duty in India, notwithstanding the fact that he may be fit for and is performing regular work at home, and in respect of pay drawn when wounded, full pay being allowed for the first three months only, furlough pay for twenty-one months, and half-pay from that date, by which arrangements greater pecuniary loss is suffered in proportion as the officer concerned is more seriously wounded?


As this question raises rather complicated issues and is also of great interest to all concerned in the welfare of the Indian Army, I must ask leave to answer it at unusual length.

The grievances of Indian Army officers, as stated in the question, are: (1) That while their regimental promotion has been accelerated they are refused the pay of the rank; (2) that their sick leave pay compares unfavourably with that of officers of the British Army; (3) that if unfit for duty in India at the end of two years they are placed on half-pay.

As regards the first complaint, account must be taken of the fundamental difference in the systems of promotion in the British and in the Indian Armies. In the British Army in normal times regimental promotion is determined by actual vacancies. In the Indian Army by a time-scale, which is irrespective of vacancies. The Indian system in times of peace has obvious advantages for the individual. In war the British Army officer is for the time the gainer. In a war like the present the enormous expansion of the British Army and heavy casualties have made promotion very rapid. Indian officers, when working side by side with British formations, have consequently found themselves superseded by British Army officers greatly their juniors in length of service. The Government of India dealt with the matter in the first instance rather as a question of rank than of pay, for it was rank rather than pay that was at that time sought by the officers concerned. They granted temporary promotion on an accelerated time scale, but without the corresponding pay. Since then the matter has been carefully re-examined by the Government of India in communication with me and with the War Office. In view of the long duration of the War and the arduous campaigns in which the Indian Army has been engaged, I have now sanctioned, with the concurrence of the War Office, a further acceleration of the time scale for promotion during the War and the grant of pay corresponding to rank. Under the revised scheme promotion to lieutenant will be after one year's service, to captain after four years, and to major after fifteen years. This scale of promotion will have retrospective effect from 1st September, 1915, and will carry arrears of pay from 1st September, 1916. I am still in communication with the Government of India regarding certain details, but hope that the scheme will be published in a few weeks' time.

Next, as regards the rates of sick leave pay of Indian officers. The Indian officer receives full pay for the first three months, and then leave pay at old standing rates. These rates depend not on the rank or the Indian pay of the officer, but on the length of his service. The Government of India have represented to me that the rates inadequately meet the circumstances of officers badly wounded or suffering from serious illness contracted on field service. I have asked the War Office to concur in proposals for granting better rates of sick pay to Indian Army officers on sick leave from field service.

The last point raised is the liability of Indian Army officers under the regulations of their service to be removed from the effective list, and to be placed on half-pay or on pension, according to circumstances, if after two years of sick leave pay they are unable to return to duty on the Indian establishment. The so-called "half-pay" of the Indian Army is the same as that allowed to British Army Infantry officers of corresponding rank and length of service. I am not satisfied that it is altogether appropriate for the present conditions of the Indian Army, and am consulting the Government of India about it. I have also tempered the rule regarding removal from the effective list after two years, whenever it is possible to find employment either in India or in this country for a disabled officer. In this I have the fullest sympathy and co-operation of the Government of India.

I should add, to avoid misunderstanding, that an officer of the Indian Army on half-pay or pension who is employed by the War Office receives the full pay and allowances of his appointment under the War Office in addition to his Indian half-pay or pension. He may also be in receipt of a wound pension.

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