I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the case of subaltern officers in embodied Militia battalions in South Africa, who are candidates for commissions in the line, and are placed at comparative disadvantage to those Militia officers who by staying in England are able to pass the, examinations for direct commissions, and thus gain a year or a year and a half seniority in the Army; and whether he will take steps to treat such officers who are on service in the field more generously by allowing them, on receiving their commissions in the line, to reckon the time served at the front for seniority and relative rank in the Army.
We have done all that was possible to prevent Militia candidates for commissions from being placed at a disadvantage by reason of their service in South Africa. On the occasion of each of the competitions held since Militia battalions went to South Africa, a liberal proportion of commissions has been allotted to units in South Africa, to compensate for inability to compete. These commissions bear the same date as those given to successful competitors at the examination. Lord Kitchener will grant fifty commissions in the pre-sent month. The hon. Members proposal to antedate commissions so as to cover the period of service in South Africa with Militia battalions would involve the supersession of many officers, and is, I fear, impracticable.