HC Deb 27 February 1809 vol 12 cc1119-24
The Secretary at War

said that as upon that day week the establishment for the army had been voted, he had now only to move for the remaining Estimates which had upon that day been postponed. There would be found some increase in some few Estimates, owing to the increase of our effective force within the year; most, however, of the Estimates would be found to be nearly the same as those of the last year. The firs article in which any material difference had occurred, was in that of the Estimates for the Staff and Garrison. The Staff abroad had been necessarily increased, particularly in Spain and Portugal. There had been before that 10,000l.allowed for the Staff abroad, on the score of Contingencies, but this sum had not been found to be adequate. The next article of increase was that of the Estimates for the full pay of the Supernumerary Officers; and there would be also found in the Estimates of the public department, an increase of 60,000l. but, as a balance against this, the public fees in the Pay Office, and in some measure in the War Office, had been done away. Besides, he wished the Committee to observe that much of what was hitherto rated under the head of Contingencies, was now reduced to distinct and specified Estimate, so that in fact there was no increase of expence, it was merely nominal and only an increase of Estimate. There would be found, too, some small increase as to the charge of the Half Pay Fund, and also in the Estimate for the Out-Pensioners; the increase on account of the expences of the Local Militia could be obviously accounted for; that description of force far exceeded in expence the Volunteer establishment, the increase would amount to 1,200,000l; there was a rough Estimate of the cloathing for the Local Militia of 400,000l; but his sum would go to provide for the four succeeding years. There would be also a slight increase in the Estimates for the Royal Military College and Military Asylum. The rest of the Estimates would be found to be the same as last year.

Mr. H. Martin

said, that when the excess of the Estimates for the current year over those of the past amounted to 1,500,000l. that house had some right to demand every explanation as to the cause and circumstances of the increase. The excess in the Estimate for the Public Departments amounted to 60,000l. There was charged for the Exchequer Fees 96,601l. when the Foes themselves amounted only to 11,600l. For the office of the Paymasters General the Estimate was 54,771l. exceeding the same of last year by 20,000l. This increase had been accounted for by the addition to the number of deputy paymasters, but were not many of those places sinecures; The allowance for the expences of the office of Secretary at War, his deputies, clerks, and assistants, was this year 54,848l. here the excess over that of the last year amounted to 27,848l. There had been also an excess in the Estimate for the Foreign Corps. There had been also introduced new heads of Estimates that had never been mentioned before. There were under these heads miscellaneous charges to the amount of 70,800l.; of this 54,000l. was under new heads. For the Foreign Depot there had been a charge of 5,000l. which was new. There had been also a new Estimate, under the head of Foreign Invalids, which amounted to 4,830l. He wished to have these additional charges accounted for.

The Secretary at War

said, that with respect to the public department, the increase was merely nominal, the fees having been allotted to the expenditure of the War Office. There had been an addition of one or two clerks, and the salaries of the junior clerks were to go on progressively, in a certain proportion. With respect to the Foreign Corps, much of its expences were hitherto charged under the head of Contingencies, but now the same expences were stated under distinct Estimates, so that the increase here was nominal. In the same way other items, which had been under the head of the Extraordinaries, were now reduced to Estimate.

Mr. Long

confirmed this statement, and said, that it was in most instances an increase of Estimate, and not an increase of Expence. There was an addition of 11,000l. on Exchequer Fees, but of those there had been a deficiency of 5,800l. With respect to the Deputy Pay-masters abroad, those were formerly provided for, under the head of Contingencies, to the amount of 15,000l. but they were now given in Estimate. He did not know of one Deputy Paymaster's place which was a sinecure, but that of Gibraltar, which had been so for lime immemorial. He had never appointed any person to that situation, who had not been required to do the duties of it; there was a necessary addition to the expences under this head, in consequence of the Deputy Paymasters who were sent out with sir John Moore and gen. Spencer, and at Madeira.

lord A. Hamilton

did not see how the mode of proceeding with respect to the Fees, and the application of them to the expences of the Pay-office, or War-office, could bring before the public the exact estimate.

General Fitzpatrick

wished to know, whether it was intended to abolish the private fees?

The Secretary at War

apprehended, that that would be productive of inconvenience; but that however the subject would be taken into due consideration.

Earl Temple

bore evidence to the accuracy of Mr. Long's statement,

Mr. C. W. Wynn

wished to know, whether it was the intention of government to relieve the parishes from the unjustifiable burdens imposed upon them by the system of volunteering into the Local Militia? He wished also to know, whether any allowance would be made to the smaller corps of Volunteers, as otherwise he feared, that this valuable force would be considerably diminished in the course of the present year. He wished also to put the June and August corps on a similar footing with other corps.

The Secretary at War

said, that the points alluded to by the hon. gent. were already under consideration, and would be duly attended to.

Mr. H. Martin

said, that there were 40,000l. for telegraphic buildings in Ireland in the Estimates. The state of the atmosphere in Ireland was so unfavourable, that some explanation ought to be given when such a sum was required.

Sir A. Wellesley

observed, that an attempt had been made to convey intelligence by telegraph through Galway and Athlone to Dublin, instead of the former communication by the circuitous line of the coast; and though this might be more expensive at first, it would ultimately be cheaper.

Mr. M. Fitzgerald

said, that the Royal Malta regiment was said, on one occasion, to have thrown down its arms. It was important that this should be contradicted, if not true; and if it was true, the expence ought to constitute no part of the recruiting fund of this country.

Mr. Wilberforce

expressed surprize at the system which still prevailed about Army Chaplains. As for the description of persons who were chaplains about ten years ago, he had an instinctive feeling, which made him wish to get rid of them. He wished, however, that our army should have the benefit of religion free from the abuses of the former institution. If sol- diers went to the parochial church, they often found there was no accommodation for them; and as to saying prayers for them at a different hour, it was depriving the parish church of what was most interesting in public worship, when all ranks and degrees assembled together, to worship their common father and benefactor. He thought that it was of the utmost importance that armies, going on foreign service, should have proper clergymen to administer the consolations of religion to the wounded and the dying. He thought there ought also to be some religious instruction and consolation for the many Black Regiments in his majesty's service in the West Indies.

The Secretary at War

repeated, that considerable improvements had already taken place in the appointment of Chaplains, and still further improvements were intended. As to the conduct of the Malta Regiment, he had not information enough on the subject to enable him at present to give an opinion.

Mr. W. Smith

said, there was a subject which he had long wished for an opportunity to allude to, and which he did not yet wish to make any regular motion about. As he considered it connected with our military means, he should take the present opportunity of stating it. The island of Sicily had long been occupied by our troops, and was dependent upon them for its defence. Now, though he was averse, generally, to the principle of interfering in the affairs of another government, yet, when we took upon us to defend Sicily against all attacks, we should be justified in seeing that the government of that country took proper measures for their own defence. The accounts of all travellers for the last century coincided in stating, that the Sicilians were by no means attached to the Neapolitan government, which was most intolerably oppressive. He had some conversation with sir John Moore before he went to that island, and it was the opinion of that gallant officer, that the island was in some danger on that account. Another gallant officer (sir John Stuart), who was a distant relation of his, had expressed to him the same idea. Now, he thought we could do our business more efficaciously, with a smaller body of men, if we would but suggest to the government of Sicily the necessity of adopting such measures as would secure the affections of the inhabitants. Having thrown out this idea, for the consideration of his majesty's ministers, he did not mean to press it further, or to make any motion to the house upon it.

The several Resolutions were then put and agreed to.