§ QUESTION. OBSERVATIONS.
§ VISCOUNT OXENBRIDGE
My Lords, I desire to ask the noble Lord, 28 the Under Secretary of State for War, (1) Whether it was ever intended under the provisions of Article 72 of the Royal Warrant, to promote officers commissioned from the ranks into other regiments over the heads of officers with longer commissioned service than themselves; (2) In how many cases has this been done; and had the officers, so promoted performed any exceptional services; (3) What class is it intended to benefit by the granting of commissions from the ranks: is it not a fact that most of those who have obtained their commissions in this way are gentleman who failed to pass the requisite examination into the Army; and (4) Whether according to the provisions of Article 72 there is any reason why a non-commissioned officer who obtains a commission should not be promoted over the heads of other officers in the same regiment?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Earl BROWNLOW)
My Lords, I shall be very glad to give as clear an answer as lies in my power to the questions which have been put by the noble Viscount; but, as his questions refer to certain Articles of the Royal Warrant and also to Circulars which probably many of your Lordships have not studied carefully, I do not feel so certain that my answers may be perfectly intelligible to the whole of the House. I feel it would be perfectly impossible to weary your Lordships by going at length into these Articles of the Royal Warrant, but I should like to read, in a very few words, the provision of Article 72, 1891 which the noble Viscount has quoted, which runs thus—The service towards promotion of an officer commissioned from the ranks, or from the rank of warrant officer, shall include his service at the War Office, and half of any time he may have served in the ranks.Having cleared the ground by reading those few words, I will now give a categorical answer to my noble Friend. As regards the first question I have to state that it was so intended, provided always that the service of the officer promoted from the ranks reckoned under Article 72—those words I I have just read—qualified him for the vacancy occurring, and that the officer over whose head he went had not 29 sufficient service to qualify him. With regard to the second question I am afraid I cannot give the exact number of cases, but it has been the common practice, the only requirement being that the officer selected shall have sufficient service under Article 72 and shall be recommended for promotion. With regard to the third question I may say that the granting of commissions from the ranks was not intended specially to benefit any class, but that only those non-commissioned officers who are specially recommended by their commanding officers are selected for promotion; and with regard to the remaining part of that question, I have had the cases for the last year looked into, and I can inform the noble Viscount that for the last year no cases appear in which any gentlemen competed unsuccessfully for Army commissions. With regard to the fourth question there is no reason whatever why a non-commissioned officer who obtains a commission should not be promoted over the heads of other officers in the same regiment, unless the officer over whose head he is promoted consents to the promotion in order to avoid supersession by an officer coming from another regiment.