§ Lord Palmerston
rose for the purpose of submitting to the Committee, pursuant to his notice, the various estimates, which it would be necessary to vote for the service of the army for the present year. He was fully sensible how inadequate he was to perform this duty with the same ability which distinguished his predecessors, and felt it necessary to claim, at the outset, that indulgence, which the House was always ready to extend to persons circumstanced as he was. He could assure the Committee, that in soliciting this indulgence it was not his intention to abuse it, and that, though he feared he should be obliged to occupy more of their time than he could wish, he would yet not trespass unnecessarily upon the attention which he trusted would be indulgently extended to him. In explaining the estimates, therefore, which he should propose to be voted, and the nature and extent as well as the grounds of any variations from the estimates of former years, he was determined to do it as briefly as the complicated but unavoidable details into which the question must lead him would permit. The first point to which he had to call the attention of the Committee was, that the estimates under consideration had been framed in strict conformity with those economical principles which had been recommended from the throne, and which he trusted would at all times govern the conduct of his Majesty's present government. On a minute comparison with the estimates of the last year, gentlemen would find that there would be no increase in the expences of the present further than what the exigencies of the service required; nor indeed had any reduction been omitted which was compatible with the defence of the country. The estimates were divided under twenty-one heads, which he would shortly state to the Committee, one by one, in order to point out the differences between them and the corresponding items of last year, and also notice where further savings might in future be expected.
The first head was that of the land forces, respecting which there had been made two or three arrangements, which caused some difference in the statements. In looking to this part of the subject, his Majesty's ministers had paid the utmost attention to proportion the establishment to the effective strength of regiments.
608 When a regiment for instance was under 400, the establishment was fixed at 406; when over 400 and under 600 at 600; and so in progression, when a regiment contained effectives between 600 and 800, between 800 and 1,000, or between 1,000 and 1,200, the establishment was fixed at the higher number respectively. When the great and often rapid increase of men, from recruiting, and other causes, was taken into consideration, gentlemen must be convinced, that, in this arrangement the line was drawn as closely as was convenient for the service. Another alteration had been made, in consequence of the suggestion of the Commissioners of Military Inquiry, and forage for horses, and bread and meat for the men, instead of being included under the usual head, were now transferred to the commissariat. These items were consequently not included in the estimates; and under this regulation a considerable saving would take place. A third alteration was, the reduction of agency for cavalry, which was lowered 1-4th, making the emolument to the agent still adequate to his trouble, and nearer that received by agents for infantry.—The last alteration he had to notice, under this head of saving, was one of considerable magnitude; it was, the dismounting of 20 men in every troop of horse. Of these, 10 had been dismounted last year, after the estimates had passed, and 10 more were now added to that number to be dismounted. Every regiment of cavalry consisted of 10 troops of 80 men, making 800 men. When ordered on foreign service, six troops were generally sent, leaving two at home for the purpose of recruiting. But it was not necessary for these to have horses, and, therefore, by the present arrangement, the regiments would be fully as efficient for foreign service, while 100,000l. per ann. would be saved of the public money.
Having stated the principal arrangements in point of positive saving, he would now proceed to state to the Committee the increase and decrease in the land forces, and the consequent increase or diminution of expence. Under the head of household troops there would be found a decrease in the number of men of 700, and consequently a decrease in the charge of maintenance of 41,249l. In the dragoon guards a decrease of 486 men had taken place, and of 26,230l. in the charge. Another point of saving in the expenditure, was the discontinuance of quarter 609 masters in the several troops, and the appointment of troop serjeants to fill their stations, by which a saving of between 7 and 8,000l. would accrue, and the troops in consequence be better disciplined. With respect to the introduction of second battalions in regiments of the line, the increase of expence would be about 70,000l. The next head would relate to the unnumbered corps, in which a reduction had taken place of 1,237 men, thereby decreasing the charge 49,721l. There had also been a reduction in the garrison battalions of two battalions, at a saving of 39,817l.
The next head in the estimates was the royal waggon train. In this, too, a very considerable reduction had taken place: as out of the 12 troops, of which it was originally formed, five had been discontinued, leaving only the five troops serving with the army of lord Wellington, and two at home to recruit. This was done, because it was found that this species of force, though very useful on foreign service, if kept up to so great an extent would cost more than, upon a general view of their value, and consistent with principles of economy, could be thought a fair price for their services—(Hear!)—By this reduction a saving was effected of 23,433l. The next head was that of barrack artificers, which had been embodied to complete the works and fortifications about Gibraltar. Originally it had been thought proper to employ certain corps of this description there, to do the necessary repairs, and to allow these men to receive pay, and of course be subject to military discipline. That purpose being effected, they would be found no longer in the estimates, or a provision for them making a part of the annual expenditure. The following head was that of the Manx fencibles, in which there was a reduction of 347 men. In these two items the decrease of expence was 18,337l. namely, 13,364l. for the one, and 4,473l. for the other.
The noble lord then proceeded to state the increase in the charge of the establishment which under the next three heads would, in point of charge, be 27,757l. in which would be included a sum of about 20,000l. for additional field officers. Although this charge appeared on the face of the estimates for the first time, it was not a new one, but had been originally defrayed by Parliament, and included in the aggregate vote. In the 610 miscellaneous services of the army, which would next come under attention, a large increase of expence (113,921l.) would be apparent; this arose principally from a very large sum being required to make up the losses of officers incurred in Spain on service, and in other quarters, particularly in South America. It was proposed also, for the comfort of officers, to introduce for the first time into the estimates, an allowance to the regiments at home, similar to the advantage enjoyed in the navy, in having their wine duty free. This was proposed in consideration of the high duties which attach, and it was deemed but fair to extend the benefit to military officers as well as naval. The sum required he supposed might be about 10 or 12,000l. but that would be the subject of future consideration. The noble lord stated, that though the increase under this head of land forces was 127 men, there would be a decrease of 99,477l. in the charge.
The next head to which it was necessary to call the attention of the Committee, was the establishments of the regiments in the East Indies, which, for the first time, would be taken under the cognizance of parliament. Although the expenses of that establishment were defrayed by the East India company, the expenses of the recruiting were charged to the country, and under this head there was an increase of 349 for a recruiting company for two additional battalions sent to India. The next head was the embodied militia, in which there had been an increase of 201 men, and a diminution of expense of 150,786l. This large decrease in the charge arose from making a larger reduction of the non-effective men, and from transferring the forage and bread allowances, as he had already stated, to the commissariat, department. In the staff and garrison establishments, an increase of expense would arise of 21,247l. on account of the medical staff principally, and from the scale of allowances proposed to be made in future for the chaplains of the army. The outline of the arrangements, with respect to the chaplains, he trusted would be approved. It had been judged proper to make these reverend gentlemen a floating and disposable body, and to provide, that for the future any person to be appointed chaplain in the army, should bring proper testimonials of his character and abilities, and be approved of by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the bishop of London; that when 611 they had been eight years in the service, they should he entitled to half pay, at the vale of 5s. per diem; that an addition of 6d. per diem should be made for each year of service above eight years, until they had arrived at 10s. there to stop. This, he trusted, would make these respectable persons more comfortable. The next head of material alteration was the public departments, in which an increase of 21,837l. had taken place in the charges, on account of the vast increase of business in the war office, and the other offices connected with or dependent on it. There had been, however, a slight decrease in the office of the commander in chief, in consequence of the military secretary, col. Torrens, not holding the same appointments and situation which his predecessor, colonel Gordon, did. In the pay office, an increase of 11,269l. had arisen on account of the payment of exchequer fees. In the war office the increase was 8,865l. Gentlemen would bear it in their recollections, that the sixth report of the commissioners of military inquiry had stated, that the war office could not get through their business, on account of the vast increase of it from the protracted state of the war. An arrangement was made accordingly (which arrangement had been maturely considered by the predecessor in office of the noble lord), tending to accelerate the passing of accounts, and this was to be effected by dividing the business of examining accounts from the other public business. A new office was built, and three intelligent men, well acquainted with the war office business, were selected to superintend the new establishment, which consisted of an augmented number of clerks, being twenty-four. There was reason to hope that the greatest benefit could be derived, in respect of the quick dispatch of the army business, from this new establishment. The office of examiner of army accounts had been abolished, and a saving of 450l. procured for the public. Mr. Moore, the under secretary, retired on a salary, which, including the 800l. he receives from the foreign office, makes his income 1800l. per annum. Mr. Merry, in consequence of the recommendation of the commissioners of inquiry, relinquished the situation which he held of purveyor of coals to the garrison of Gibraltar, which produced him 750l. a year. In the quarter-master-general's office there was a small increase of 877l. for maps, plans, &c. necessary for the service of the army.
612 The next head of increased expence which the noble lord noticed, was the army medical department. A board of general officers had sat for the purpose of devising some plan for making the medical board more beneficial in future, and it was suggested that the department should be under the controul of a director-general, and three principal inspectors. These gentlemen were required to give up their private practice, and as a remuneration for the sacrifice an increase of salary was to be given; it had also been recommended to discontinue the office of inspector of hospitals at home, as being quite unnecessary. The next head was that of the half-pay and military allowances. On the half-pay there was an addition of 340l. On the head of Chelsea hospital, a decrease of 5,337l. On that of out-pensioners, a decreased charge of 81,592l. But there would have been an increase of 18,000l. had it not been for the appropriation of 100,000l. unclaimed prize-money to this head of service. Under the head of widows' pensions, the increased expense was 6,641l. There would appear in the volunteer corps, a decrease of 131,250l. arising from the discontinuance of many of the corps and the transfer of others to the local militia. In the local militia there were 25 additional corps, but the reduction of expense was 576,153l. and hereafter it would be still more. It was however but fair to say, that this was in part owing to the sum of 417,000l. not being voted this year for clothing. The rest was from the number of days of training for the privates being reduced from 28 to 22. Under the head of foreign corps, there was an addition of 975 men, and of expense 34,770l. from the taking into British pay the corps of the duke of Brunswick. Under the next head, the royal military college, the increase of expense was 40,972l. of which 40,000l. was for the erection of a new college at Marlow. The expense of the royal military asylum was also increased 2,547l. from the addition of 156 children. The head of charge for retired chaplains and clergymen was diminished 7,131l. and in hospital expenses 97l. was saved. On the compassionate list the increase was 1,400l.; On the barracks, in Ireland, 3,042l., and the commissariat in the same country a decrease of 26,000l.. From all these it appeared that the total increase was 129,758l. The deductions were 81,850l. and the gross saving 736,992l. Between the two years the 613 balance in favour of the present was an increase of 1,427 men, and a decrease of 952,092l. of expenditure. The noble secretary concluded these statements, with a very animated eulogy on our military force, which was as efficient in discipline, as in numbers; and this not only in the regular army, but in the militia, volunteers, and other description of force. We had 600,000 men in arms, besides a navy of 200,000. The masculine energies of the nation were never more conspicuous, and the country never at any period of its history, stood in so proud and glorious a situation as at present. After a conflict for fifteen years, against an enemy whose power had been progressively increasing, we were still able to maintain the war with augmenting force, and a population, by the pressure of external circumstances, consolidated into an impregnable military mass. Our physical strength had risen, as it was called for, and if we did not present the opposition of numerous fortresses to an invader, as the continent did, we presented the more insuperable barrier, of a high-spirited, patriotic, and enthusiastic people. The noble lord concluded by moving his first Resolution.
§ General Gascoyne
complimented the noble lord on the eloquence he had displayed; but rose principally to state some points on which he conceived the committee bound to decide. The officers of the army laboured, in his opinion, under some oppressions which he thought should be removed. It would surprise the Committee if he informed them, and he was prepared to prove it, that the officers of the British army were paid less for their services than in the 1695; he did not mean comparatively speaking, but shilling for shilling, sixpence for sixpence. In proof of his assertion, he referred to a manuscript in the Harleian museum, written by sir R. Harley, dated the 17th July 1695. A lieutenant-colonel received then 17s. per diem. A lieutenant-colonel now has only 15s. 3d. net pay, deducting the Income tax. A major had then 15s. Now a major has only 14s. 6d. A captain then 10s. His pay is now only 9s. The two next degrees of rank were better in point of emolument now, for a lieutenant has 5s. 11d. whereas he had but 4s. 8d. in 1695. An Ensign has 4s. 6d. he then had 3s. 8d. The office of secretary at war, was held at a salary of 20s. per diem. the pay of a major general. It now was not quadrupled merely, but it was ten 614 times multiplied as to the amount of salary. The office of under secretary was then filled at 7s. 6d. per diem; the profit of it now was upwards of 7l. per diem. During this period, major-generals had received no addition; and the only reason that seemed to present itself, as accounting for this inconsistency was, that they were not represented, as secretaries at war had been, in that House. The hon. general did not wish to see memorials from men in arms, but he thought government should examine into these complaints of the army. The militia officers were paid in 3 or 6 months; the regular officers were well off if they got their pay within 18 months. He did not mean to say that these abuses had not existed for many years, and was disposed to believe that his Majesty's present government wished to remedy them. Another cause of complaint was the charge of 4 per cent. duty ad valorem on all articles of clothing, stores, &c. shipped by them on foreign service. The next complaint was the bat and forage allowance, which is the same as in the sixteenth century. Lord Wellington and sir John Moore had represented the grievance, but no relief had been afforded. Another evil was the Income tax, exacted from British officers even though serving in the Portuguese army.—The hon. general having called the attention of the Committee to these complaints, noticed some of the regulations stated by the noble lord, and first with respect to the allowance for wine. He had calculated it, and reckoning 250 battalions, at 5l. per company, the amount divided between four officers would be 25s. each officer per annum. Was this sum, he would ask, worth receiving? It was not sufficient to buy a private hair-powder, much less to provide wine for an officer for a year. If it was intended to benefit, them 25l. or 30l. might be of use. The hon. general stated his determination to bring the complaints of the army before the House on some future day.
Lord G. L. Gower
felt disappointed at the statement he had heard. He had trusted, that the burdens of the public, as connected with the army estimates, would have been alleviated to a far greater degree. He conceived it to be the duty of that House to examine very scrupulously every item in the estimates which had been so ably stated by the noble lord. In his opinion there were many items which would not contribute to the effi- 615 ciency of the army. He deprecated the mode at present adopted or purchasing for the cavalry young horses of two years old, which cost the country 30l. or 40l. a-year in training, and when fit for actual service about 100l. With respect to the reduction of the waggon corps, the noble lord, though he had stated the discontinuance of five companies, had not given any reasons for the continuance of the other five companies. In point of fact, he had been told that they were not a useful corps, and in foreign service our commanders had been obliged to hire waggons. Another point of difference between him and the noble lord was, the continuance of the Manx Fencibles. He had moved for a return of that corps, but no return was yet made. When he held the office of Secretary at War, he had informed lord Liverpool of the inefficiency of the corps, as in point of fact some of the officers were farmers, some custom house men, some postmasters, &c. and the privates were labourers employed in their several occupations. There was another part of the military establishment which he considered useless, that was the city militia, and the Tower hamlets militia, which were kept up at a heavy expence, and yet the whole extent of their actual service was limited to the villages of Hackney and Edmonton—The next material point was the staff establishment, in which for the home district, there appeared the names of the duke of Cambridge and lord Heathfield, who received from 4 of 5,000l. a year for doing nothing. The home staff of the army he must contend required curtailment. No man was disposed more than himself to acknowledge the talents of a gallant general opposite (Tarleton) but he could not see the necessity of continuing that hon. general upon the staff of a district where his command was only 2,400 men. In Scotland the staff is very expensive, for over 11,000 men, there were not less than 11 staff generals. All these branches of the establishment required to be carefully looked into and adequately corrected.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
could easily conceive the disappointment which any gentleman must experience when his hopes were not realized with respect to the comparative effect. It was easy for those who had not the execution of the plans, and, consequently, not the necessary connection with the offices, to think that their plans might be without difficulty 616 carried into effect. With respect to one of the objections, as to the purchase of cavalry horses at two years old, it must be evident to the Committee that if these horses were to be purchased at four, five, or six years old, when fit for service, a sum must be given greater than what they originally cost, and perhaps when wanted they could not be obtained. It therefore was a mistaken notion of economy to suppose that the public would be benefitted by the purchase of horses at a more advanced age. As to doing away the waggon train altogether, the noble lord in command of the army in Portugal considered them of material service in that country; the Committee would not think therefore that government had done wrong in retaining five companies in that kingdom, and two at home to recruit. With respect to the Manx Fencibles, it was only at the express desire of the commander in chief that the whole had not been disbanded, for he had stated that if they were, regular troops must be found to do their duty. It was the duty of government to pay attention to his representation. It would be found, that lord Liverpool had directed the return to be made; but upon inquiry it was discovered that the Manx fencibles were not under the management of the Secretary of State, and consequently he had no information to give the noble lord. At the same time he regretted that the information had not been sought out in some other quarter. As to the staff of the army, in two or three instances the increase of staff to rank, had increased the pay. If the hon. general opposite (Tarleton) had been improperly left on the staff, he assured the noble lord that he had no disposition to let him remain on account of any assistance he could or would give him in the House. He had no expectation of reaping benefit from his services in this quarter. With respect to the complaint of the hon. general (Gascoyne) of the arrears of military pay, he had to assure the hon. general, that arrangements were forming which would obviate that difficulty, and he thought he had before sufficiently explained on the subject of bat and forage money. On the complaint of the pay of the British officers being subject, when out of the country to the income tax, as the law at present stood, there was some doubt on it, but he should think it necessary to recommend to parliament to make some provision for reme- 617 dying that complaint. As to the wine allowances, that would attach only to those places where the wine duty was payable, consequently would not interfile with foreign nations. But, as to the general principle upon which these estimates had been framed, he could assure the Committee that every care had been taken to retrench all unnecessary expenditure, and that there was every disposition on the part of the government to confine themselves within the strictest rules of economy.
§ General Tarleton
defended himself from the imputation, which he conceived had been cast upon him by a noble lord relative to the district over which he held a command. Since he had entered upon that command he had made a considerable redaction in the number of officers under him. He had been called from an active and honourable service in Ireland to be placed in that district, a situation of which he had complained at the time to the commander in chief, and which, in fact, was like sending him to Siberia. Adverting to the statements of the noble lord, by whom the present discussion was commenced, he condemned the plan of purchasing horses at the early age at which they were now bought. Before these horses were fit for service, in the vulgar phrase, "they ate their heads off." The Manx fencibles appeared to him an unnecessary expence. In the Isle of Man they were considered only as feather-bed soldiers, and the volunteers were deemed fully adequate to the defence of the island. The waggon train too, in his opinion, might be materially reduced. Let the British army go where they might, they would always get waggons enough. The hon. general concluded his speech by a warm defence of the character of the army.
§ Mr. Huskisson
expressed the reluctance which he fell at addressing the House in the presence of so many members, who were much more competent to discuss the subject than himself; a reluctance increased by the necessity under which he felt himself obliged to differ in some points from his right hon. friend. He trusted, however, that notwithstanding this partial difference of opinion, the sincerity of his attachment to his right hon. friend would remain unquestioned. Doing every possible justice to the ability displayed by the noble lord in the statement which he had that evening made, he confessed that in 618 that statement he was somewhat disappointed, as it did not realize all the expectations which he had entertained. He had no difficulty distinctly to declare, that he considered a diminution in our military expenditure essential if not indispensible to the existence of the country. To prove this he would enter into a consideration of the commercial situation of the country. After a statement of the comparative annual expenditure for several years past, he proceeded to detail the amount of the taxa-ation. In 1782 the annual taxes were ten millions. In 1792 they were fifteen millions. In 1801 they were 30 millions, and in 1809, they were 60 millions. It appeared therefore that the amount of the taxes was six times what it was 27 years ago, four times what it was lo years ago, and double what it was eight years ago. To taxation, however, as to every thing else, all must allow that there were limits. The present taxes on consumption were, he presumed, carried as far as they could well be carried The direct taxes would perhaps admit of some increase, although they were nine times as great as they were in 1793. Still, if the present expenditure were continued, our difficulties must multiply, and he conceived, that the greatest danger to which the country could be exposed, was a failure in its finances. The best mode of counteracting this evil, as in the affairs of a private individual, was not to shrink from the contemplation of the danger, but to look it boldly in the face for the purpose of adopting the best means to avert it. In this point of view, it would be well to enquire whether any inconveniences, resulting from a reduction of our military establishment, might not be more than counterbalanced by the financial advantages that would accrue from such a reduction. In support of this opinion, be made a comparison of the various amount of the different army estimates from the year 1801 to the present time. At the present time, the same preparation continued in an aggravated degree, that was made when the enemy was expected on our shores from week to week. In the amount of the staff this was peculiarly to be remarked. In 1801, when the French threatened instant invasion, and when Buonaparté had no other enemy to contend with, the whole expence of the staff was 85,000l. This year, when the necessity for it was certainly not so great, it amounted to 286,000l. The whole of our 619 regular force at that present moment was about 270,000 men. Allowing one third to be ineffectual, there would remain 180,000 regular troops for the defence of the country. With the militia, the local militia, &c. 400,000 men might immediately be called into action. Now, when the usual force of the country was considered, and the various obstacles with which an enemy would have to contend in in an attempt at invasion, it appeared to him that a great part of this force might be dispensed with, and the security of the country remain undiminished. There was one point however, to which he wished particularly to call the attention of the executive government. He did not wish to throw out any invidous imputation, but he did not conceive that the different military departments were sufficiently superintended. The efforts of each department were carried beyond the necessity for them. If in building a mansion, the owner, devoid of any plan, left his workmen of every description to follow each his own idea of strength, or beauty, or usefulness, his materials would prove insufficient, and his edifice become disproportioned. In the cavalry, for the sake of illustration, he thought a considerable reduction might be made. The plan of buying horses at two years old was highly inexpedient; for by the time they were fit for service their keeping would cost at least 150l. It had been declared by high military authorities that in case of an invasion it would probably take place in a part of the country in which cavalry could not act. The superabundance of the cavalry was confessed by the noble lord in his admission that it was impracticable to procure horses for them all. Those who were not mounted must necessarily be inefficient. He wished that the cavalry should be reduced from their present number (2,000) to the number in which they could be kept in an efficient state.—After some observations on the Manx fencibles, he proceeded to particularize the excess of the staff in Great Britain. In Scotland there were 11 generals to command 11,000 men. Nor was he aware of the necessity for any staff in the Middlesex district, conceiving as he did, that the large staff at head-quarters must be amply sufficient for the government of that district. Adverting to the dissatisfaction expressed by a gallant general at the situation which he held as a commander of a district, he confessed that he 620 thought his Majesty's government ought to relieve that gallant general from such a provocation. With respect to the waggon train he agreed entirely with that gallant general in his opinion of them. They were an annoyance on foreign service and useless at home.—After stating various other modes in which the military expenditure of the country might be advantageously curtailed, he observed, that some persons might think that the suggestions which he had thrown out were the result of some political feeling, and that others might think, that if he entertained those opinions formerly he ought before to have expressed them in the House. The opinions which he had just stated, he had always entertained; but when in office he had considered it his duty to state them only to his superiors, convinced as he was that the revision and retrenchment which appeared to him so desirable could be beneficially effected by the executive government alone. Buonaparté had, in a late public document, anticipated an existence of thirty years. He (Mr. H.) was anxious that every means should be adopted to enable Great Britain to maintain the contest for that period, if necessary, and thus to preserve and secure her independence at all times against the machinations of our most inveterate and active enemy.
§ Mr. Windham
said he was little disposed to concur in all the reasoning of the hon. gent, who spoke last. He agreed however, in many of his suggestions for economising the expenditure in this most important and extensive department of the state. But the great objection he had to some gentlemen's ideas of reform, was, that they were too narrow and confined to give to the country any substantial benefit. Certainly no man more than himself agreed in the necessity there existed of husbanding our resources, in order that the means of the country might suffice for the ends to be gained. This was an opinion he had ever unalterably entertained, and he would be the first to adopt any system of effectual economy, caring little by whom it should be brought forward. But he never would agree that the expenses of an individual family, afforded any parallel for the expenditure of a country. In the former case, the master of a family might curtail the luxurious extravagancies of his mode of living, and confine his expenses at any time within his means, without injuring the vital com- 621 forts of his family. But it almost invariably happened in the case of a state, that it would be utterly impossible to curtail its expenditure in a period of emergency without endangering its very existence. There were nevertheless several smaller items, adverted to by the hon. gent. The estimates before the committee certainly afforded much room for deduction; and he perfectly concurred in the improvements recommend by the hon. gent. who, by the by, he must say, came a day too late to the fair. The most prominent of these objectionable estimates, he agreed with the hon. gent. was that of the Manx fencibles. The Isle of Man, however barren in other productions, was very fertile in jobs—indeed it seemed to be one whole job. Where, he would ask, was the necessity for such a corps? The Island was already sufficiently protected by our navy, and by its own inaccessible coasts, upon which it might with confidence rely against the attempts of an invading enemy; if, indeed, the French could discover any thing in the island worth the risk or trouble of an invasion. Now, upon the subject of the waggon train he had no objection to the hon. gent.'s observations, because one of the first achievements proposed by himself When he had the honour of holding the situation of the noble lord, was an attack upon the waggon train; and if he did not succeed in destroying it, he certainly flattered himself that he should overcome it in another onset, if the hon. gent. had only given him and his colleagues time to bring up his forces. There was another head of expenditure also to which he was surprised the hon. gent. did not object; he alluded to the local militia. He was ready to admit there were amongst that body as good men, and as meritorious officers, in other senses, as well as in the city sense of the word; but still, seeing as he did no real utility in the establishment itself, he could see no justification for the expence. The staff and cavalry ought, in his opinion, also to be reduced very considerably. With respect to the latter, he was fortified by the authority of the late illustrious generals lord Cornwallis and sir R. Abercrombie, in the opinion that great reduction might be made in the cavalry, without any injury to the service. Upon the more minute points he did not purpose troubling the Committee at present. He agreed with the hon. gent. however, as to the necessity of econo- 622 mising in every practicable point, and of husbanding our means of maintaining a long and protracted warfare; as no man, he believed in the event even of peace, would undertake tube bound for the good behaviour of Buonaparté, it was fair to infer, that a long war we certainly should have. With respect to the navy, he must make an observation by the way. He believed that, if ever there was a time when that part of the force of the country could bear a temporary reduction, this was that time. It was difficult for him to conceive the occasion of keeping up so large a naval force, at a time when the naval supremacy of the country was greater than at any former period. As to the circumstance of its being what is called "a favourite service," the idea was quite childish. It would be a base dereliction of the duty of ministers, to keep up a system, as a hobby horse, at an extravagant expence to the country, at a time when the money might be so much better expended. He could not but approve of the calculations of the noble lord, but he rather feared that they were made upon supposition. He did not wish to follow him into his various statements; but where he thought there was a most glaring error, he must observe upon it. When the noble lord talked of the whole expence of the local militia amounting to no more than 400,000l. he must take the liberty of thinking, that his estimate on this head was not perfectly correct. For his own part, he had no hesitation in asserting that, when the Committee took into their consideration all the expences concomitant upon that establishment, he did not mean the expences upon parishes only, but the continually increasing bounties, which were taken out of the pockets of the people, the total expence would amount nearer to two millions than one. He was aware it had been said, that it was necessary to force men into the militia, in order thereby to induce them to volunteer then services into the line; but he denied they were forced into the militia, or that the measure could have any other effect upon the military establishment of the country, than the bad one of an enormous and unnecessary expence. If the Committee were in earnest in its professions of economy, let it begin by wholly doing away the local militia, and establishing the army on a proper foundation. It was impossible to get the army formed upon any rational footing, unless something of this kind was 623 done. He was anxious to see such a system, as would prevent the recurrence of such numerous expeditions, as the country had witnessed within the last year or two. He did not mean to condemn all that was done under the head of Expeditions; but he certainly condemned the unwise, improvident, and fruitless expence of sending troops into Spain. That was decidedly a measure of the sort he felt himself bound to deprecate. On the other hand, if he saw any thing rational, or judged of upon principles of wisdom, he would be the first to support a measure, which was calculated for the security and advancement of the public good. The right hon. gent. concluded by observing, that these were the heads of expenditure upon which he could not refrain from making some remarks, and he expressed a fervent hope, that the force of the country, one day or other, would be more economically raised, and more judiciously applied, than could be expected under the present administration.
stated that he was as desirous as man could be of retrenching the expenditure of the country wherever it could be effected without an injury to the interests of the state, but he believed, that few branches of the public offices could at present admit of any material diminution, when we had so powerful an enemy to contend with. The Manx Fencibles had been reduced since 1805, to one-third of their then number, and if it should be deemed advisable, the cavalry could be also reduced; but with respect to the Newfoundland Fencibles, he did not consider that they ought to suffer any diminution from considerations of economy; indeed, additional grants ought rather to be made for the defence of that settlement, for it was not known but that the enemy, if ever an opportunity occurred, would endeavour to take, possession of it. In the time of the American war, France thought it of sufficient importance to send a large regular force there, which plundered the people, and in the space of a few days created a damage of half a million sterling. He readily allowed that many items might be decreased in our expenditure on the home service, but he did not know where to begin. A superintending controul was wanted to point out and abolish the expenses that would admit of it without detriment to the public service, and to check those additional charges which were yearly creeping into existence under whatever 624 administration the country had for the last twelve years been placed. Much retrenchment might be made, but it ought not to be entrusted to rude hands, who from a narrow habit of thinking, would do more harm than good. Whatever was to be done, ought to be tried and effected gently and gradually.
Mr. Secretary Ryder
said, that three modes presented themselves of reducing the expense of our home establishment: 1st, reducing the number of our local militia; 2dly, reducing the quantity and quality of their clothing, or 3dly, diminishing the number of days of exercise, and reducing the pay of the non-commissioned officers. The two first modes were deemed inconsistent with the public service, but the last was adopted, by reducing the number of days of exercise from 28 to 22 in each year, and reducing the number of serjeants and corporals, which arrangement not only produced a saving to the country, but did less injury to the agricultural interest than the original plan had done.
§ Mr. P. Moore
congratulated both the hon. gentleman on the other side, (Mr. Rose and Mr. Huskisson) on the new sentiments which they had this night expressed—on their zeal for that reform and retrenchment in the public expenditure, which they discountenanced so much in the last session, when proposed to the consideration of the House, by his hon. friend near him, (Mr. Wardle.) It was grateful to his mind, as well in respect to the gentlemen themselves, as for the public good, to witness the reform which had taken place in their opinions. The hon. gent. then adverted to some of the points in discussion. He reprobated the system on which the Manx fencibles were supported, and asserted that they were merely kept to serve a nobleman, upon ground which that House had formerly bought of him. He had received a letter from a correspondent in the isle of Man, from which he would inform the House, that the Manx fencibles, instead of being 300 strong, as represented by the noble lord, were actually 800, with a complement of 24 officers. These commissions were held by attornies, tradesmen, and other individuals, resident on the island; and, what was most extraordinary, the men were never seen in their uniforms except on particular occasions. This was certainly the most singular proof of military service he had ever heard of. The House would see, therefore, that these officers were virtually 625 sinecure pensioners. He trusted that this information would be sufficient to induce the noble lord to look into the subject with a little more precision, than it appeared he had done from his statement in the dission of this night.
§ Earl Temple
said, he wished to put two distinct questions to the noble lord opposite, to which he expected satisfactory answers; First, what security would be given to the country, that the new medical board, recently appointed, would take care to guard against the calamities which were so justly attributed to the old medical board? Whether the physicians appointed would be capable of judging of camp and contagious diseases? and, secondly, whether the rumour was true, which was so prevalent namely, that those who composed the late medical board, were suffered to retire on their full pay? Whether those persons, whose ignorance and misconduct had occasioned to the country such material losses of its best troops, were allowed to retire not only with impunity, but loaded with unmerited rewards?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose and said, he could not but deprecate the abruptness of the noble lord's interrogatories to his noble friend, who could hardly be expected at that precise moment to have it in his power to give distinct answers to the noble lord's questions. As far, however, as it was in his own power, he would satisfy the noble lord. With respect to the first question, he really could not conceive how any assurance could be afforded before hand, as to the capacity of the individuals to be appointed to the present medical board. The noble lord might be assured that care would be taken to select the most eligible persons; and it was meant as an additional security for the performance of their duty, that they should give up all private practice and confine themselves wholly to the superintendence of the medical department, and to the consideration of those diseases to which the army was most liable. With respect to the other question, all he had to say, was, that the conduct of his Majesty's government, in this particular, was guided by long-established regulations of the then existing medical board, that their conduct was determined upon before the present inquiry was thought of; and it was thought rather hard to turn persons adrift upon the world, without some reward for past services.
§ Mr. Wardle
observed, that although 626 there were many points, upon which he did not feel it necessary to dwell at any length in the present discussion, he could not refrain from expressing his just and utter astonishment at finding, after the very extraordinary coldness with which the suggestions he had the honour of making to the House last session on the subject of retrenchment had been received, that the very points, on which he had then touched, had now been taken up by the gentlemen opposite to him. For this he thanked them most kindly, as he was sure the country would also do. And he confidently trusted, that the Committee had now shewn that sort of mind and decided spirit of economy, which would justify the country in the hope and expectation that something in the way of retrenchment would be done—nothing could give him greater pleasure than to see his Majesty's ministers beginning to do that which was absolutely essential to die salvation—to the very existence of the country. He rejoiced extremely in the conviction apparently felt by those who, on a former occasion, had refused to listen to his suggestions; and as his sole object was the good of his country, he should not be fastidious on the score of the instruments by which that object, of which he should never relinquish the pursuit, was obtained. With respect to the Local Militia, he should not at that time make any observation; but on the subject of the waggon train, he feared that the Committee were not aware of the enormous expence attendant on that unprofitable and useless establishment.—He had not yet been able to obtain the papers relating to that branch of service, for which he had moved soma time ago, otherwise he should at the moment have been able to prove to the Committee that the estimate now before them, of the probable expenditure of the waggon train, fell greatly short, nay that it proved but a small portion of the real expenditure of that branch of service; but as the inutility of this wasteful Corps appeared to be admitted by all sides, he trusted that the public would very speedily have to congratulate themselves on its entire abolition. The commands with which foreign generals had been entrusted in this country, and particularly in the county of Essex, he could not but deem highly reprehensible—such was not formerly the usage in this country; and he verily believed, that even but a very few years ago no minister could have been found so dar- 627 ing, as to have appeared in that House after having sanctioned a measure so repugnant to the feelings of Britons, and so contrary to the general spirit of the constitution. The introduction of foreign troops into this country, on the permanent footing which they seemed to have acquired, was a novel measure, evidently arising out of an unconstitutional principle. The expenditure of the country had now arrived at that point, when it became necessary to examine every channel of expense, however minute; for it would not serve as an answer to say, that this object was trifling—that was inconsiderable—the aggregate of minute waste would, he was certain, be found to swell amount into a prodigious bulk. There was, however, one article of expenditure, to which the imputation of minuteness could not be applied—he meant the army clothing, in the supply of which, it was absolutely necessary that some reform, and that too without delay, should take place. In the last year, government had given an advance of 5s. 6d. on every suit made by private contract, more than what was paid where the contract was open to public competition!—and he was certain that Mr. Courtnay's supply would be found to have, been as good, at least, as that of Mr. Pearce. Why was the public to pay 75,000l. more than was necessary, and more than the amount for which the supply could be furnished? That was the fact, and he pledged himself to prove it! If the supply of accoutrements and that of cavalry appointments were brought to open contract, he had not the smallest doubt that a saving would accrue at which the country would be astonished. He was fully prepared on this subject to give ample proof in support of his assertion, and would certainly bring forward the subject, unless his Majesty's ministers would render that unnecessary, by themselves undertaking the investigation and retrenchment of a subject of expenditure so highly important. He had sums time ago pressed on the House the subject of the price of great coats, with which the army was supplied—at that time the supply was at the rate of 10s. 6d. per coat.—Ministers had in that instance listened to his suggestion, and the contract was thrown open. What had been the consequence? coats of fully equal, nay, even superior quality, as he should afterwards shew, had subsequently been delivered to the army at only 9s. per coat, a reduction of be- 628 tween 50 and 60 per cent. This was a fact, beyond the power of dispute, and sorry he was that, in staling that reduction, he could not there stop—but there was yet remaining what, although he would not directly term it a job, something so very extraordinary, that he could not pass it over in silence. For those very coats which could now be afforded at the sum of 9s, there was charged for the process by which they are supposed to be rendered water-proof—how much?—why no less than half a crown, almost one third of the original cost, when it is notorious that the process can be as completely effected for sixpence! He had said that the coats thus supplied at 9s. were superior to those for which 16s. 6d. had been formerly paid, in proof of which he need only state, that the coats at 16s. 6d. had neither linings nor pockets, while those at 9s. have both, and are four inches longer! It might be thought by some gentlemen that he had dwelt with too much minuteness on this subject—ho had been minute—he had, at the same time, been minutely accurate, and his object was to impress on the minds of the Committee the imperious necessity of military retrenchment in general—for he could assure them that when they come to examine other articles of military expenditure, with equal minuteness, they would find the contract for great coats an example, and that not an exaggerated one, of our general military expenditure. The same principle of expenditure obtained throughout the system, and the same system of retrenchment would be found correctly to apply to that important branch of national expenditure. In the estimate of the expenditure in the office of the secretary at war, he observed an excess of 10,872l. The noble lord had told them that there had been no change in the war office, but that different persons had been selected to accelerate the completion and passing of the complicated accounts of that office. Now those very persons had been at work for years, and, notwithstanding that, the accounts were yet in the utmost confusion—nothing had been done towards reducing them to order; and yet, in 1808, there were 113 efficient clerks in the war office! Mismanagement there certainly must be somewhere, and he verily believed that not one-fifth of the regimental accounts were got through in any one year. He was extremely sorry to see also from the estimates, that the numbers of the foreign corps in our ser- 629 vice had increased, this was a principle and a practice which he should ever oppose. No less a sum than 30,000l. appeared on the face of the estimates, for recruiting the foreign corps. That such a sum should be required for such a purpose, excited alike his sorrow and his indiguation!—but we could not now go into Spain and recruit from Dupont's army. No fewer than 800 of Dupont's army, who had been made prisoners, were taken out of Spanish jails, and incorporated into foreign corps in our service—these were some of the recruits with which our foreign corps were supplied. He had a very strong desire to know whether the duke of Brunswick's corps, that has so recently been taken into our pay, had received any thing like bounty or recruiting money—such was the rumour, which, if true, was truly extraordinary—and he begged leave to put it to the noble lord whether such was the fact. If it were so, he should think it a very sufficient reason for putting an end at once to this species of recruiting. There was another item in the estimate, which to him appeared not less extraordinary; but, perhaps, it was susceptible of explanation—as last year the estimate of the foreign depôt was 15,000l.; in this year it was 20,000l..—an excess of 5,000l.; while the whole expence of the British depôt, including the cavalry, was estimated at only 13,000l.!—[Here several members became impatient for the question] Gentlemen might call out question! question! but that would only protract the debate, for he was determined to do his duty. On the head of barracks in Ireland, there was a grant of 135,500l. for the erection of new barracks. Would the Committee without document or information grant such a sum? He had on a former occasion stated, that there were already several very excellent barracks in Ireland, unoccupied, and yet 135,500l. was asked for building more barracks in that country and this, too at the very time when the right hon. gent. (Mr. Rose) in his pamphlet, having just discovered that this barrack system is so expensive—acknowledges himself to have been deceived in it! he trusted, however, that the Committee would not consent to throw away the public money in this manner.—There was but one more point on which he should trouble the Committee. The different regiments were all calculated at their full establishments; but on what ground 630 did they vote away the public money for men who were not in existence, as it was well known that none of the regiments were complete in their establishments? Was it possible that the whole of the money demanded could be wanted? Not one-third of it. The second battalions of many regiments were composed of boys, the pay to whom was nine-pence; and yet these estimates, on which they were called upon to vote away the public money, made no distinction, but classed them all as men at one shilling.—He anxiously trusted that the Committee would pause—that they would make a stand ere they thus lavishly voted away sums in his opinion so greatly exceeding the necessity of the service. It was his intention to have moved, that the estimates be referred to a select Committee—in that he should not, however, persevere; but he would maintain, that were a minute examination of the sums actually required for the service of the year to be instituted, the estimate before the Committee would have been reduced at least two or perhaps three millions. He trusted that after what he had stated, something decisive would be attempted by his Majesty's ministers on the different objects of retrenchment which he had pointed out; but if, unhappily, he should be disappointed in that hope and expectation, he should certainly feel it his duty to bring forward so important a subject by some specific motion.
Sir James Pulteney
could not help replying to one or two of the observations of the hon. gent. who spoke last. With respect to the delay in making up the regimental accounts, he had the satisfaction of stating to the House, his belief that a plan which he had himself partly suggested before he retired from office, was now carried, or carrying into effect, from which the most satisfactory results had taken place: the account being now in a very forward state of adjustment. Great fault had been found with the estimate for the army exceeding the actual amount of the establishment. That excess had been most ably and most clearly stated by the noble lord who opened the debate; he had only to observe, therefore, that it was a rule which had been adopted for two or three years past, of averaging instead of estimating, the precise amount at its real value; by these means, every contingency was completely answered; and the surplus was appropriated for other 631 objects specified in the estimate. The statement of the hon. gent. with respect to the clothing of the army, excited in him so much surprise, he could not possibly conceive it to be correct.
§ Mr. Huskisson
said, he still retained all the sentiments he expressed last session, with regard to the proposition of the hon. gent. (Mr. Wardle) with which sentiments he had not this night uttered a word in any degree inconsistent.
§ Mr. Parnell
considered the continuance of the waggon train in Ireland as a most severe and unnecessary expence. He complained, that in bringing forward the present army estimates no attention appeared to have been paid to the valuable advice contained in the Report of the Commissioners of Military Inquiry. No answer had been given to the question, whether the members of the late medical board received pensions, and whether the duke of Brunswick's corps received bounty or not.
§ Lord Mahon
contended that no practical grievance accrued from the employment of foreign troops. It was a theoretic complaint, and calculated to produce as much delusion as another question, upon which much clamour was excited, he meant Parliamentary Reform. Much was said about good old times, and of our ancestors; but when such appeals were made for such purposes, he was almost inclined to wish that we had had no ancestors at all.
§ Lord Palmerston
replied shortly to the objections of the preceding speakers. With respect to the abolition of the local militia, he had only to observe, that that was a force established by act of parliament, and it could only be reduced by a legislative proceeding. The expences of it, however, had been considerably exaggerated; he had the satisfaction of stating to the Committee, that great reductions were daily making in its appointment, and he trusted that the objections to the heaviness of its charge upon the country, would be speedily removed by these regulations. There were many of the estimates, which he humbly conceived were objected to upon very fallacious grounds. The most material subject of complaint seemed to be the waggon train; which was objected to upon the score of inutility, and the enormous expence required to maintain it. With respect to the latter objection he could only assure the Committee, that every econo- 632 mical arrangement had been resorted to, for the purpose of reducing its expence to the lowest possible estimate. As to its utility, he could only refer the Committee to the opinions of those great generals, who had experienced its advantages. He trusted he need only instance the testimony of lord Wellington to remove the prejudices which seemed to prevail on the subject. That noble and gallant general derived such considerable assistance from its services in Spain, that he requested to be reinforced with five additional troops. On the subject of the Manx Fencibles, he must say, that if their importance in a military capacity was not very great, yet in a municipal point of view, they were of the highest value, in protecting the coast, and preventing contraband trade. The objection urged in respect to the increase of cavalry he trusted would be obviated by a due consideration of the importance of keeping up a supply of young horses to fill the ranks, when horses of a proper age, as had been proved by experience, could not be procured for any money, for immediate exigencies. With respect to the reduction of the regiments of the line, as far as the establishments would admit, without endangering the safety of the country, every thing had been done to lessen the expence, and dispense with superfluous corps. Whatever might be thought of detaching regiments, no general, he believed, would wish a diminution of the real effective force of the army. There was another point with which great fault had been found, namely, the staff. Now he believed that, considering the strength of the regular forces that were distributed through various parts of the kingdom, no considerable reduction could be made in that department of the army, without injuring the public service. It had been asked by an honourable member, whether the foreign troops under the duke of Brunswick received a bounty; in answer to that question he had to state, that each man did receive a bounty, on enrolment, of 3l. 17s. which, however, it was to be observed, was expended in necessaries. With respect to the circumstances of the boys, being estimated at a shilling a day, he should say, that it was true that a great number of boys, who chiefly composed the second battalions, received only nine-pence per day, the surplus of the estimate being afterwards disposed of as levy money for the purchase of horses. Alter replying to the other 633 points, he concluded, by moving the question on the first estimate.
§ The question was then put and agreed to; as were all the other Resolutions.