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British Army

Volume 154: debated on Tuesday 23 May 1922

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Officers (Compulsory Retirement)

13, 14 and 15.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) if he is aware that the present method of compulsory retirement of officers under the Geddes Committee Report presses very hardly on officers who, as a result of ser- vice during the recent War, were partially disabled but who nevertheless would normally have been retained in the Army; that it presses particularly hardly on officers who, owing to their high efficiency, have not been recommended for discharge under the least desirable for retention clause; if he will consider the desirability of setting up a Select Committee to consider and report upon the most equitable system of compensation;

(2) if, as a result of the Geddes Committee Report, officers are being retired on half-pay for five years on the grounds that, although fit for the time being, they would probably not be able to stand the strain of active service; what compensation is it proposed to pay these officers for their compulsory retirement on grounds not previously anticipated by either of the contracting parties;

(3) if, as a result of the Geddes Committee Report, certain officers are being compulsorily retired, on the grounds that though efficient, they are least desirable for retention; and if it is proposed to pay them compensation on the same basis as is paid to officers compulsorily retired, on the grounds that, though efficient, they would probably not be able to stand the strain of active service?

In connection with the reduction of the Army following upon the Geddes Committee, officers are being retired in two ways—

First, for permanent medical unfitness for general service. This is a reversion to a normal rule of the Service, which had been temporarily in abeyance in the years following the War in view of the abnormal demand for trained officers. Those whose unfitness arises from service in the War are entitled to benefit under the Regulations of the Ministry of Pensions, but not to the special compensation terms approved for the second class.

Second, by selection of those officers who are least desirable for retention though not inefficient. These officers, who are leaving the Army solely on account of the reduction of establishment, receive the special terms.

These matters have already been fully considered and approved by His Majesty's Government, and I see no necessity for a Select Committee. If the hon. and gallant Member is still in doubt as to the operation of the rules in any particular case, perhaps he will give me more precise particulars of it.

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that many officers are being compulsorily retired on the medical ground that though they are fit for immediate service they would not stand active service? If that be so, would it not be possible for my hon. and gallant Friend to give an assurance that all officers fit for service compulsorily retired, should have the alternative of receiving the same compensation as is paid to officers retired on the least desirable for retention clause?

That is what I want my hon. and gallant Friend to give me more precise information about. When he does so, I will have, careful inquiry made and give a proper answer.

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman let officers know as soon as possible that they are to be retired, as many have received offers of employment which they have not accepted because they did not know?

That is why we are taking steps to let them know as soon as we possibly can.

Would officers who are efficient and willing to retire he entitled to compensation if they retire?

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman puts a question on the Paper it will be answered.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether any provision is made whereby officers with less than ten years' service who may retire voluntarily at this period under the terms of Army Order 179–180 of 1922, can receive the proportion of their gratuity due after ten years' service under Army Order 325 of 1919, seeing that the compensation under the 1922 Orders is greater and to the advantage of those compulsorily retired?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether permission will be given to all officers in the Army, as has been given to officers in the Navy, to volunteer to leave the Service with compensation according to the terms published; and, if not, whether he will state the reason for this differentiation of treatment?

The terms published are compensation for officers whose careers in the Army are compulsorily terminated solely by reason of the reductions in the establishment of the Army. It is not intended to make them applicable to officers who voluntarily retire, for whom the ordinary conditions and terms remain open. I cannot speak as regards Naval conditions, but as regards the Army it is considered that its best interests will be served by selecting for retirement those whose retention is least essential.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it rather hard on the efficient officer who is willing to go that he should be treated less generously than the inefficient officer who is compulsorily retired?

It would be hard on the Army if it lost the services of that officer.

Has the right hon. Gentleman been in consultation with the Admiralty on this matter in order to arrive at parity of policy?

Parity of policy is possible only where there is parity of service, and there is no parity of service in these cases.

Territorial Army (Decorations)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether steps can be taken which will entitle an officer's service in the South African War to count equally with service in the recent War when qualifying for the Territorial decoration?

No, Sir; I am not prepared to recommend that the concession granted in respect of the Great War should he made retrospective.

Medals (Private J Davidson)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a demand has been made by the Records Office, Hamilton, to the governor of Dysart combination poorhouse for the return of the medals awarded to the late Private J. Davidson, No. 14,028, King's Own Scottish Borderers, on the ground that the deceased gallant soldier died intestate and was of illegitimate birth that the late Private J. Davidson, who volunteered for service, was born in Dysart combination poorhouse; that he never had any other home; and that the medals and King's scroll awarded to him were framed and hung in the board room of the institution and highly prized by the officials there and will he state on what authority and for what purpose the return of the medals is now demanded?

I am inquiring into this case, and will communicate further with my hon. Friend.

Territorial Army (Recruiting)


asked the Secretary of State for War what progress has been made in the enrolment of Territorials during the first four months of the present year, and whether, if he does not regard it as satisfactory, what steps he proposes to take to further popularise the force?

The intake of recruits during the period in question was 15,860. This is not regarded as unsatisfactory, but, compared with other parts of the country, recruiting in London is not good, and steps are being taken to endeavour to remedy this.

Crown Colonies (Loans)

21 & 22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) what was the gross total revenue and expenditure of all the British Crown Colonies for the years 1913–14 and 1920–21; what loans and for what total sum have been issued on the London market for the development of Crown Colonies for the 10 years prior to the War and since the War, respectively; what is the estimated total value of money represented by the applications of Crown Colonies to issue loans on the London market with the consent of the Colonial Office;

(2) what were the figures for each of the Crown Colonies, showing their separate budget surplus or deficiency for 1921; which of the Crown Colonies have a scale of expenditure on administration which is met by revenue; whether the Crown agents, in consultation with the Colonial Office, anticipate the issue of a loan on the London market in the near future that will enable two or more Crown Colonies to combine in making the issue; and whether there are any Crown Colonies which find themselves held up in their development for lack of free assets to offer as security for a loan?

As the answers to both these questions are necessarily long, and include statistics, I will, with my right hon. Friend's permission, circulate the replies in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the replies:

The total revenue of the Colonies and Protectorates for the last financial year before the War amounted to £26,355,644 and the total expenditure to £26,187,187; for the financial year 1920 or 1920–21 the

Financial Year.Revenue.Expenditure.
Gibraltar (Jan.-Dec.)£217,002


Gambia (Jan.-Dec.)£207,813


Sierra Leone (Jan.-Dec.)£1,030,235


Gold Coast (April-March)£2,604,300


Nigeria† (April-March)£4,557,401£6,806,000
Kenya (April-Dec.)£1,828,644


Ceylon (Oct. 20-Oct. 21)Rs. 70,421,700Rs. 82,179,673
Mauritius (July 20-July 21)Rs. 25,650,000Rs. 22,250,000
Seychelles (Jan.-Dec.)Rs. 574,015Rs. 592,349
St. Helena (Jan.-Dec.)£7,029£11,757
Straits Settlements Jan.-Dec.)‡$34,699,735$41,389,910
Hong Kong (Jan.-Dec.)§$ 16,590,519$16,111,990
Fiji (Jan.-Dec.)£624,025


Gilbert and Ellice Islands (April-March)£49,105


Jamaica (April-March)£1,950,230


Leeward Islands (April-March)£278,639


Windward Island- (Jan.-Dec.)£297,575


British Guiana (Jan. Dec.)║$5,450,703


Trinidad (Jan.-Dec.)£1,775,965


Falkland Islands (Jan.-Dec.)£29,945


British Honduras (April-March)║$1,006,271


*"Ordinary" expenditure only.

†Revised estimate.
‡Straits dollars = 2s. 4d. Deficit met from savings.
$Hong Kong dollars (fluctuating).
║U.S.A. dollars

Native Lands (Alienation)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received information

revenue amounted to £52,513,296 and the expenditure to £54,779,503; during the years 1904-14 the total loans issued by Colonial Governments amounted to £26,565,000—since 1914 to £37,980,000 including the loan just being issued on behalf of the Straits Settlements. I do not think it would be in the public interest to state what further loan issues are in contemplation.

I annex a statement showing as nearly as possible the budget figures for 1921 for the Colonies which do not possess responsible government. The answer to the second part of the question, if I understand it correctly, is that all Colonies are still able to meet their ordinary administration expenses out of revenue if extraordinary expenditure is not taken into account.

The answer to the third part of the question is in the negative. As regards the fourth part, it is not the practice to issue Colonial loans secured on particular assets, and the answer is, therefore, none.

as to the area of lands in native occupation alienated to white men since 1914?

The despatch from the Governor has not yet been received, but is expected very shortly.

Imperial Preference (Jamaica)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Government of Jamaica has published in the West Indian and Canadian Press for general information his despatch of 9th March on the proposal to continue for 10 years the preference on goods at present entitled to preferential rates on importation into Great Britain; and whether the despatch will be laid before this Parliament forthwith, together with any replies that may have been received from Colonial Governors?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The despatch in question was sent to the Colonial Governments with a view to publication, and it will be laid before the House as early as possible. A notification has been received from the Governments of Jamaica and Barbados that publication has taken place; but no other replies have yet been received.

Is it proposed to consult the House of Commons before committing future Governments—a change is expected—to a fiscal policy for ten years?

I certainly hold that the Government has not gone beyond what is usual in matters of this kind. It is desirable that the Colonies should have some assurance of a continuance of conditions.

Does the right hon. Gentleman think it is quite fair, because for the moment there is a tremendous Protectionist majority in the House, that they should bind future Governments for ten years?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman, who is to form a part of the Government of the future, will be perfectly free, of course, in this, as in other matters, to break faith with the Colonies.

Kenya (Natives, Registration)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Government of Kenya Colony is now spending £250,000 per annum upon Native pass laws; whether this includes registration and taking the finger-prints of all adult males of the Colony; and whether, in view of the financial difficulties of the dependency, he will consult the governor as to the advisability of abolishing this unproductive expenditure?

There are no native pass laws in Kenya, but there is a system in force by which every native is required to register himself and to carry his certificate upon his person. The provision in the current year's Estimate for the registration of natives amounts to 214,209, and for the Finger Print Bureau to £6,775. The system of registration is held by many competent authorities to be of considerable value to the natives themselves, and I cannot admit that the expenditure on it is unproductive. The expenditure will come under review by the committee appointed by the Governor to inquire into the whole question of administrative expenditure, and I am not prepared to anticipate their recommendations.

It is certainly of great advantage that there should be some means of identifying individual natives. It is part of the necessary process for developing and organising the country.

Is it not part of the necessary process of enslaving the native worker?

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of extending this system to Members of the Coalition?

Gold Coast (Cocoa)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, seeing that the Agricultural Department of the Gold Coast has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that the low price now being paid to the natives for cocoa is endangering the entire industry, and that in the most recent report the Department expresses the view that unless some change takes place the cocoa industry may become a thing of the past, he is prepared to fake any action in the matter?

The report to which the hon. Member refers was dated 7th June of last year. So far, there are no signs of any failure of the industry. The export of cocoa for 1921 was 133,000 tons, as against. 124,000 tons in 1920, and indications point to an even larger export during the current year. The only action which seems possible is to induce the farmers to improve their present imperfect methods of cultivating and preparing the crop—which are part of the cause of low prices; and this is being done.

East And West Africa (Hides, Export Trade)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can make any statement as to the effect on the trade in hides, both in East and West Africa, of the export duties imposed upon these products?

The export duty on hides in Kenya has been imposed for many years, and the recent set-back in the export of hides is probably due in the main to the general trade depression rather than to the export duty, which was of strictly moderate amount. In order, however, to do what is possible to encourage the trade, it has been decided to suspend the export duty until the end of 1922. As regards the export trade in hides in Nigeria, I do not think I can do better than refer the hon. Member to paragraphs 161 to 174 of the Report of the Committee on Trade and Taxation for British West Africa (Cmd. 1,600). There is no export duty on hides in the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone or the Gambia.