§ CAPTAIN BAGOT (Westmoreland, Kendal)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is in a position† See (4) Debates, ci., 302.346 to make any statement with regard to the communications which passed between the Commander-in-Chief and Major General Truman before the latter asked for a Court of Inquiry; and whether he can state when that Court will begin its sittings.
§ MR. BRODRICK
As the case of General Truman had been, at his own request, referred to a Court of Inquiry, I was unwilling when questioned in this House to make any statement which might prejudice that officer before the Court. But yesterday in another place statements were made from a Memorandum attributed to General Truman, which that officer acknowledges to have been written by him, but which he states was not intended for publication, which make it desirable that I should state the facts. Some months ago I brought to the notice of the Commander-in-Chief certain circumstances connected with General Truman's control of his Department, and I was strengthened in my doubt, which the Commander-in-Chief shared, as to his capacity by General Truman's evidence before the Departmental Committee. As, however, I was preparing a scheme for the complete re-organisation of the Department, and two lawsuits were pending which would throw further light on the matter, and having regard to the great pressure of work under which his Department was labouring, I postponed any action as regards General Truman till it was possible to set on foot an improved organisation. When, however, the whole question was debated in Parliament, the opinion was expressed on all sides that General Truman's evidence required explanation, and I was forced to tell him that, although there was no imputation on his honour, there were certain points on which, unless he had further explanations to offer, I could not defend him. The Commander-in-Chief suggested to General Truman that he should offer his resignation, and General Truman handed in a provisional resignation asking for further inquiry. The Commander-in Chief at once granted him a Court of Inquiry, which will sit without delay. Pending the report of this Court, General Truman 347 will remain at the head of his Department, but another officer will be appointed to assist in the ditties, as General Truman's time will be largely occupied with his defence. I may say that this is the proper and legal way of dealing with an officer in his position. I regret to have had to make this statement, which I should have made before but for the reasons mentioned, and which should not make now but for the statement made yesterday in another place.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
Is it not a fact that General Truman was not approached on this matter in any way until attention was drawn to his conduct in this House?
§ MR. McKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman state if all the information with regard to General Truman was not in his hands on the 9th August last?
§ MR. BRODRICK
Yes. I have stated that the evidence was in my hands in August last. I was engaged at that time, and have been engaged since, on a scheme for the complete reorganisation of the Department, and it would be natural to consider, when rearranging that Department, what General Truman's position was to be. I then also mentioned to the House that two suits were pending, both of which were likely to throw considerable light on the matter, and I did not think it desirable to deal finally with General Truman's case until all the circumstances were before me.
§ MR. DAVID THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what were the points on which he informed General Truman that he was not prepared to defend his conduct?
§ [No answer was returned.]