§ Mr. BENNETT-GOLDNEY
asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether the 2nd Kent battery, 3rd Home Counties, Cinque Ports Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, is at the present time over or under strength, if the former, how many over; if the latter, how few under; whether this battery was over or under strength three months before the removal of its headquarters from the drill hall at Sandgate to a distant position in the adjoining town of Folkestone; whether, while the battery had its headquarters at Sandgate, it was sixteen over strength, and since it was alienated to another locality it had, on 1st October, 1912, dwindled to forty-six below strength; if not, will he give the figures; and (2) whether the non-commissioned officers and men of the 2nd Kent battery, 3rd Home Counties, Cinque Ports Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, while their headquarters was still at the drill hall in Sandgate, petitioned through their commanding officers to be allowed to retain their headquarters at Sandgate; if so, whether the petition was forwarded by a majority of the non-commissioned officers and men or by a minority, and, in either case, if he will give the number; if he will say whether the battery, while it had its headquarters at Sandgate, was thoroughly efficient, especially in fire exercise; whether the present deficiency in numbers, if any, in the battery is to be attributed to the inconvenience and discouragement which the Sandgate men were made to suffer by the removal; and, if so, whether the precedent is likely to be repeated in this branch of the Territorial Army?
§ Colonel SEELY
In reply to this and the next question, I would point out, in the first place, that the headquarters of this battery have always been at Folkestone, and that Sandgate was only a drill station. In the second place, the redistribution scheme effected in 1911 had for its object the increased efficiency both in training and administration of the brigade as a whole; and the sections of the Ammunition Column which had been attached for training to the batteries were concentrated at Deal, with Sandwich as a drill station. Sandgate accordingly ceased to be a drill station. A petition was sent in by fifty-three non-commissioned officers and men of the Sandgate section of the battery, but it was irregular, and the1246W section was informed on parade that it was subversive of discipline, and should not have been written. As regards the figures required, the deficiency on the Establishment on the 1st July, 1911, prior to the reorganisation, amounted to three officers and forty-five non-commissioned officers and men, and on the Establishment on the 1st October, 1912, to one officer and thirty-six non-commissioned officers and men.