HC Deb 26 February 1808 vol 10 cc753-5

The house having resolved itself into a Committee of Supply,

The Secretary of War

rose for the purpose of moving the Army Estimates. All that he thought it necessary to do was, to state the particulars in which the present Estimates differed from those of last year. The estimates now before the committee were classed under the following heads:

Great Britain. Ireland.
Land Forces (including various Contingencies) 200,831 5,8892,922 9 1 1,385,057 11 6.
Regiments in the East Indies 30,884 691,525 8 9
Troops and Companies for recruiting ditto 437 25,281 12 9
Embodied Militia 108,384 2,236,462 0 4 816,408 17 6
Staff and Garrisons. 363,902 6 5 69,502 1 4
Full Pay Supernumerary Officers 32,213 2 8 778 1 9
Public Departments 188,680 19 6 8,921 14
Half Pay 209,750 26,732 8 1
In-Pensioners of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals 40,969 13 10 16,942 17 3
Out-Pensioners of Do. 329,619 9 2 46,878 8 6
Widows Pensions 40,495 10 6 6,000
Volunteer Corps 652,000 611,487
Foreign Corps 22,125 795,647 3 2 70,911 3 10
Royal Military College 21,525 17 4
Royal Military Asylum 19,908 9 3
Allowance to Retired and Officiating Chaplains 16,000 2,852 5 3
Medicines and Hospital Expences 100,000 18,676 8 9
Compassionte List 13,500
Barrack Department (Ireland) 412,262 13 5
Commissariat Department (Ireland) 190,253 7 4
Total 362,661 11,670,404 2 9
3,773,664 19 4
Deduct the Regiments in the East Indies 30,884 691,525 8 9
Remains to be provided 331,777 10,978,878 14 3,773,664 19 4
Several particulars with respect to marching-money, innkeepers allowances, and some other items, it was difficult to make out in the way of exact account. But as far as that could be done it had been. The principal alteration in point of charge arose from the care that had been taken to transfer from the army extraordinaries, every thing that could be made a subject of estimate. He had the satisfaction to state, that the army which the house was now called on to provide for was, in point of discipline, equal to any army in the world, and in point of numbers superior to any this country had ever had. The amount was in regulars and militia not less than 300,000 men. There was also a greater proportion of effective men than had ever been known, and the actual amount of force was as near the establishment as was possible. The increase from last year consisted chiefly in British regular disposable infantry, that most efficient description of force. The effective force was within 13,000 of the establishment; an approximation scarcely ever known before. The cavalry was on the same foot- ing as last year. Some trifling reduction was intended, but not sufficient to snake any alteration in the estimate. The waggon train was reduced to 500 horses. It had been proposed last year, but the employment of the number of horses and waggons now kept up, was more economic than the hiring of waggons to do the necessary work. The men were trained to arms, and it was desirable to keep them in his majesty's service. The next article was the militia, which, he was happy to say, was as near its full complement as ever, after having given to the line an addition, of 24,000 disciplined men. The Volunteer Estimate was the same as that of last year, with the addition of the charge for Inspecting Field Officers. With respect to Foreign Corps, a small addition had been made to the German Legion, but not such as to make any difference in the effective force, which was still the same. In the Royal Military College a Board of General Officers had thought fit to make a small increase of the salaries of the Chief Officers, and to augment the Staff. He trusted this establishment would be preserved, increased, and made permanent. In every military country there were establishments of this description, and in no country were they so much wanted as they were in this, in which there were not the same opportunities that the continent possessed of observing and comparing the merits and defects of a number of armies, and selecting whatever was good from the practice of each. After recapitulating the several items of increase, the right hon. secretary concluded with moving, "That 124,000 effective men be voted for the service of guards and garrisons, &c. for 366 days, from 1st Jan. 1808, to 1st Jan. 1809, both inclusive."

Mr. Calcraft

asserted, that all his apprehensions of the disorganization of the militia, and the increase of the bounties by the volunteering were made good;. of. 16,000 men that had volunteered from the British militia, only 1600 had entered for life, and most of them being superannuated, entered for life to get the additional bounty, in the confidence of being discharged again before the 7 years should elapse. He allowed the militia would he filled up again by May, but not without infinite hardship to those classes of the people that ought to be particularly spread.

Mr. Windham

admitted that the estimates, from the approaching expiration of the Mutiny act, must be voted without delay. Still he thought it hard to be called on to vote them when they had not been 24 hours printed; and when some of the most important returns were not yet printed. He blamed the precipitancy with which the most important public measures were pressed forward, without sufficient information; and without sufficient opportunities of discussion.—After some further conversation, the various items of the Estimate were put and carried.