§ The House having resolved into a Committee of Supply, to which all the papers presented by the Secretary at War on the subject, were ordered to be referred,
§ Lord Palmerston
rose for the purpose of bringing before the committee the Army Estimates for the year. In executing this task, his lordship observed that it would not be necessary to occupy much of their time. Gentlemen on the other side were so well acquainted with the nature of the forms of these Estimates, that he had no observations to offer on that head; but might content himself with stating the variations between the amounts for the present and the last year. These variations he should premise, arose solely from the increase of our establishments, which, from a general view of the matter, would be found to have been augmented by the 1157 number of 12,000 men, occasioning the additional expence of 390,000l. This increase, he repeated, was owing to the increased numbers of our effective force, and not from any additional expenditure on items in the Estimates differing from preceding years. The best mode of rendering these Estimates clear to the committee, would be to take them head by head; and though this would lead him somewhat into detail, he trusted that would be compensated by the satisfactory view it allowed him to take of our military situation.
The first head to which he should direct their attention was the Land Forces, which comprehended the whole regular army, with the exception of foreign corps in British pay, the regiments employed in the territorial possessions of the East India Company, and the embodied militia. In this part there had been an accession of 9,600 men, and an additional expence of 299,000l. In noticing a few of the subdivisions under this head, he had to slate that an augmentation had taken place in the household troops to the number of 070 men, at the expence of 13,000l. This consisted of two troops added to the life, and two to the horse guards, in consequence of the regiments being sent on foreign service to the peninsula. He had also to inform the committee that a similar increase of 419 men, and 9,000l. of ex-pence had taken place in the 21st and 23d regiments of light dragoons. In the infantry of the line there was an accession of 5,300, and an expence of 109,000l. which arose partly from the addition of other battalions to several regiments, and partly from the formation of other veteran battalions and provincial corps. Of the latter the number was 2,000 more than embraced in last year's estimates, and the expence 85,000l. The increase of veteran battalions was accounted for from the number of men whom the toils of the campaign had worn out, and who, though unfit for the hardships of the field, were fully competent to do garrison duty, and for this purpose they had been formed into a force of this description at Lisbon. A fifth garrison battalion had also been formed in the West Indies, of soldiers unfit any longer to endure the fatigues of active service, and he was sure the committee would accord with him in estimating this excellent mode of providing for the old servants of the country while they continued and enlarged the term of 1158 their usefulness. Another troop had also been added to the waggon train, by which that force was made to consist of 12 companies instead of 11. They were thus disposed of—9 troops were in the peninsula, and 3 troops were at home, for the purpose of recruiting and preserving a depot to supply contingencies among those upon service.—There were this year also two additional fencible regiments raised in Canada and New Brunswick; the former, called the Glengary fencibles, consisted of Scotsmen who had settled in that province, and the latter were called the New Brunswick. Their services were limited to North America, where they were found to be very efficient; so much so indeed, had a former Glengary regiment been, that on volunteering their services generally, their offer was received, and they now constituted the 104th regiment of the line. The miscellaneous charges under this first head were explained in the Estimates, by memorandums placed opposite to them. The increase was apparently 151,000l but the sums which had been saved from noneffective claims for regimental establishments, would reduce it to 61,000l. This 61,000l. arose from the larger sums expended in this, than in the former year on the recruiting service, both in England and Ireland. Gentlemen knew that the Estimate, on this point, was always calculated upon the expence of the preceding year; but the great increase of the number of recruits raised in the present year, had rendered the calculation founded on the year before insufficient to meet the expence incurred. On the whole, under this head, would be found an increase of men to the number of 9,600, and of ex-pence to the amount of 299,000l.
The second head referred to regiments in the East Indies, but as these were by law declared to be payable out of the revenues of the Company, it was only necessary to mention them, that the whole state of the army of Great Britain might come into one complete view. For the purpose of recruiting for this force, two additional companies of 48 men at an expence of 2,000l. were now established.
The next head was the Embodied Militia, in which there was only a difference of two men, and expence 17,000l. in recruiting, but in consequence of the vote of last year, respecting the supernumeraries being diminished, there was a diminution of 30,000l. on the British, and 12,000l. on the Irish establishment.
1159 The next head was that of General Staff and Garrisons, and in this there was an increase of 41,000l. owing to the augmentation of the staff serving abroad, particularly in the medical department, and to the transfer of 15,000l. which had heretofore been charged in the army extraordinaries, for the deputy quarter master general, &c. but which was now placed among the army estimates. This addition also arose from the pay of a commander-in-chief in the Mauritius, and the appointment to several new commissions in the West Indies. It was customary to allow the commander of the forces 1,000l. to equip himself, and this sum with the other items he had enumerated, made up the total increase of 41,000l.
The next head was that of Full Pay to Supernumerary Officers, which exceeded the estimate of last year 20,000l. in consequence of the greater number of these officers, whose services deserved so well of their country, having retired.
The next, was the Public Department Allowances, in which the increase was 28,000l. arising from a larger sum being necessary to the pay-office for exchequer fees. The salary of the head of that office was also augmented to 2,500l. and there was also an increase of 600l. in the commander in chief's office, from his secretary's becoming entitled from his length of services to a larger salary, viz. 3,500l. The war office was nearly the same as last year The adjutant general's office required 935l. from an arrangement being made that the deputy adjutant-general should receive the full pay of his rank; the office pay of 19s. per day being considered inadequate. And a similar arrangement had taken place in the quarter master general's department, in which, however, there was a diminution of 500l. The charge for the depot for military, knowledge amounted to 1500l. which was paid over to the deputy quarter masher general for the purchase of maps, charts, &c. There was nothing more worth notice under this head.
In the next, that of the In-pensioners of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals, there was an addition of 1,300l. from the pensioners this sear receiving full clothing, which they only did every other year.
In the next head, the Out-pensioners of these establishments, there was an additional claim of 38,000l. as arrear of pensions of former years in Ireland, but this would be met by sums already voted and unexpended.
1160 The eleventh head was that of Widows Pensions, and in this there was an increase of 1,250l. owing to there being more deserving applicants put upon the list than there had been money fallen in from deaths or marriages.
In the next head, the Volunteer Corps, the expence was 55,000l. less than in the former year; and a further reduction of 8,300l. had taken place in the local militia, from the reduction of their numbers, in consequence of the act of last session.
The next head was the Foreign Corps, and included the Supplementary Estimate. Here there was an increase of 2,500 men, and 90,000l. expence arising from the additions to the German Legion, and the formation of two foreign veteran battalions, in which to employ these men, worn out in our service, instead of sending them home as before. This system had been altered, and the new mode adopted in consequence of the present state of the continent, which subjected these brave men to danger inconsistent with the character of this country, and the protection we were bound to bestow upon those who had served us. The amount was also increased by the formation of seven independent companies, or companies composed of Frenchmen. At the beginning of hostilities the desertions from the enemy in Spain had been confined to Germans, &c. but within the last year and a half, the privations to which they were exposed had induced many Frenchmen to come over to the other side. These could not be incorporated with our foreign corps;! and in order to obtain useful and military service from them, it was determined to form them into these small troops or companies, as the nature of their services might be, rather than embody them altogether into one mass of force. Each individual was placed in the same rank which he had held in the French army.
The next head was the Royal Military College, in the expence of which there was an increase of 18,200l.; but, a balance of 8,800l. left last year would reduce this item to only 9,400l. including 2,800l. in the civil department, expended in the purchase of a house at Farnham, rendered necessary by the establishment at Sandhurst, and also including the expence of two new companies of cadets.
In the next head, the Royal Military Asylum, there was a small increase. In the allowances to retired chaplains, &c. the estimates were nearly the same; and 1161 in the medicines and hospital expences, there was a diminution to the amount of 2,500l.
The following head was the Compassionate List, in which there was an increase of 4,700l. in consequence of there being more claimants upon the fund, whose merits demanded compliance with their applications.
On the next head, the Irish Barrack Department, there was an increase of 9,500l. occasioned by the transfer of an item which had been placed under another head, and by the rise in the price of necessaries for the troops. The Commissariat Department of Ireland exceeded the last year's estimate by 28,000l. in consequence of the increase of forage money for the cavalry, and the delivery of great coats, and 15,000 pair of shoes to the men. The last head was that of Superannuations; and in this there was a diminution of 541l. from the death of the late Mr. Lewis, although the retirement of colonel Paterson from office, with a pension, had been added to the charge. The general view as he had already stated would give an increased expence of 399,000l.; but a deduction of 18,000l. from this would leave the correct total about 381,000l.
With respect to our force, it was satisfactory to state, that the difference between the effective strength at the end of 1811, and the end of 1812, was very favourable, notwithstanding the extent and magnitude of the services in which our armies were engaged; notwithstanding the casualties of long, active and harassing campaigns; marches, disease, and losses in battle. Surmounting all these obstacles we had an actual increase of 10,200 effective men. Of these a considerable portion, indeed, were of the Foreign corps; but in British alone, there was a clear augmentation of 2,000 men, besides 400 Spaniards, who had been incorporated with them in the peninsula.
The noble lord then proceeded to advert to the successful nature of the recruiting service within the last year, which, he contended, had not arisen from commercial distress, but was general throughout the country. One cause to which he attributed it was to a change in the recruiting system, by employing officers well calculated for the service, and giving them district with the command of all parties therein, though not belonging to their own regiments, instead of young officers, 1162 who accepted the task rather as a leave of absence than as a service. The experiment had first been tried in the Gloucester district, and from its success extended to four or five other districts, in all of which still proving productive and beneficial, the system would now be generally resorted to. The continuance of the officer in the district depended on his success, and the plan would, in the first instance, have the good effect of disengaging seven hundred officers, and joining them to their several regiments. Another of the improvements was to allow a larger share of the reward to the non-commissioned officers, upon whose exertions the success in recruiting must in a great measure, depend, however active and diligent their superior officers might be. The number of recruits raised last year was 14,432, by ordinary recruiting. This was a great increase, as in the preceding years it had been rising from nine and ten, to eleven and twelve thousand. The volunteers from the militia were neatly equal to the full number allowed, namely, 9,900, making a total to the army of 24,335. The place of the volunteers from the militia was filled up by beat of drum, and therefore he might state the total addition to the regular army to have been gained by the success of the recruiting service. This was a most satisfactory contemplation, and it must afford the House delight to see the ardour and spirit of the people roused in proportion to the demands upon their services.
It might be necessary to explain the difference which existed between the number of casualties which were accounted for, and those which really had happened. In the account of the casualties which had been given, all those which had happened on foreign stations were included. Some persons who knew that the case was so, had expressed their surprise at the small amount of the casualties stated in the return. The return which had been called for by the hon. gentleman, was that of the casualties for 1812, which necessarily did not include those which had taken place during the latter months of 1811. So that those persons who had professed to feel so much astonishment at the small-ness of the number, probably thought that the latter months of the year 1811, were included in the return. On the one hand the number of men added to the army, during 1812, amounted to 39,762; including those raised by regular recruit- 1163 ing —by recruiting from the militia—those deserters who had been recovered, &c.; on the other hand, the casualties of 1812 amounted altogether to 29,562; of which Bomber 26,775 were accounted for in the return. This left 2,787 unaccounted for. In order to explain why there was such a number unaccounted for, it would be necessary to state, that when a regiment was sent abroad, the commanding officer was accountable for all the men. But when on service, all those men who were so wounded or disabled, as to be rendered unfit for service, were sent home in detachments. Those men so sent home, were struck off the list of effective men abroad, and not being taken on the effective list at home, (though ultimately accounted for by their commanding officers) there was a perpetual balance of these men, who from not being included in either the list of effective men at home or abroad, would make up the difference between the number accounted for in the return of casualties, and the number which was actually deficient. Such was the real cause of a difference, which appeared at first sight so extraordinary, and even almost inaccurate.
The noble lord then concluded by moving as a Resolution, "That it is the opinion of this Committee that a sum not exceeding 3,637,501l. be granted to his Majesty to complete the sum required for defraying the charge of the Land Forces at home and abroad, from Dec. 25, 1812, to Dec. 24, 1813."
entered into a comparative view of the recruiting service, as introduced by Mr. Windham in his celebrated bill, and the mode which was now pursued; and contended, that, although a great number of men might be procured, the system which was acted upon had the effect of destroying the militia force of the country. The plan which Mr. Windham had in view was, to make the profession of a soldier not only acceptable to himself, but agreeable to his friends. It was his desire, that, when he entered the army, the soldier should not be looked upon as one who was lost, from that hour, to civil society. This system was calculated, by encouraging enlistment for a particular period, to induce many, who would not otherwise embrace a military life, to enter into it for a few years.—He observed, that the ordinary recruiting in 1807 produced 19,000; in the quarter before Air. Windham's plan was broke in upon, 11,000; and in the 1164 quarter afterwards 9,000. In 1809 it produced 11,700; in 1811, 14,000; 1812, 14,400, thus demonstrating the great superiority of the plan of the late Mr. Windham, over that for which it was changed, and the army left at the mercy of the noble lord. Many casualties, he asserted, were yet to be reported from abroad. He entered into various calculations to prove the loss of the army must be greater than was stated. There was a board for directing the clothing of the army, and he wished to know who were its active members, who were the military arbitri elegan-tiarum? Who were the persons who devoted their time and talents to the mode of sticking ostrich feathers into general's hats, and fastening tags on their shoulders, and arranging the other articles of dress? He should rejoice in an acquaintance with those military milliners, who had so transformed the life-guards. He had seen the body guards of various potentates; but neither in splendour or manliness of appearance could they be compared with, those of his Majesty, before the late alteration of their costume. He did not know whether any gentleman present had seen them in their new dress; but certainly nothing more stupidly foolish, nothing betraying a more ridiculous taste, could possibly be imagined. The unfortunate guards were ordered to be sent abroad. Did any gentleman see them before they went? Nothing could be more absurd than these military changes; they were worthy of Grimaldi or D'Egville; adorned as they were in all their pantomimic pomp and feathers, they looked like the Rinaldos of an epic poem. It might be said, that fine troops at home were destroyed, and bad troops sent abroad. The time that had been called politically a New Era, was also a new era with the army. There was a cavalry clothing board appointed, with the duke of Cumberland at its head, whose resolves were memorialized against by general officers as absurd, and one of whose regulations was called "inflicting a capon the cavalry." One leading proposition was to deprive the dragoon of his boots; but the Duke of York afterwards cancelled the order, and dissolved the board. Then came another board, under lord Harrington, rather more meritorious. As the former one would take away the dragoon's boots, so the latter would deprive him of his breeches. Laughable as this seemed, it was the fact; the heavy dragoon was to have white worsted web 1165 pantaloons, and on home service, blue worsted web pantaloons! This might do very well for Bond street, but certainly it was very unfit for foreign service. Now, the reason for making these alterations was, that the colonel of a regiment, on the new articles, made a profit of about 700l. per annum, as he could prove, by a paper he held in his hand, though the men would be worse off by 380l. A great expence was likewise to be incurred by the saddlecloths, to please some idle, paltry, and contemptible taste. He objected to the enormous expense of these things.' An officer's jacket cost him 23l. his pelisse 21l. and his pantaloons 4l.; his cap, belt, &c. 60l. This he learned from his tailor; and his saddler informed him that the horse furniture came to eight guineas. Altogether the expense was 108l.
§ Mr. Law
said, that although the noble lord had congratulated the House on the flourishing state of the army, yet, when the subject came to be inquired into, it would be found, that of the 10,000 additional troops which had been added to our forces, but 2,000 were British. By referring to the Gazette it would be seen, that the number of English troops who fell in action was far greater than that of foreign troops; but, to make up this loss, it would appear from the noble lord's account, that, for one Englishman, there were four foreigners enlisted—if this continued, our army would soon consist entirely of foreigners. By the noble lord's statement of casualties, it should seem that in the last three months, they amounted to near 4,000 men, in the peninsula; but in the account which had been laid before the country, they were estimated at only 1,500. Why, he would ask, were not fair accounts published? He was not afraid of looking the difficulties of the country in the face, but he wished to know them correctly. The hon. gentleman, in speaking of the means resorted to for supplying the army, reprobated the custom of draining the militia, which he considered most dangerous. He next adverted to the establishment of the Military College: he agreed in the necessity of such an institution; but thought it was not placed on a foundation sufficiently broad and extensive. In the junior department there was only the small number of 412 young men On whom a public military education was bestowed. This was a number altogether insignificant, when it was considered that there was a standing army of 1166 300,000 men. In the senior department there was a number still more contemptibly small, only thirty officers. Some good officers had however, certainly been formed, by the service they had seen on the peninsula; but, he did not think, that, in general, they were capable of applying the information which was there to be obtained, in consequence of the original defects of their education. But, if the principle of granting military instruction were extended, they would be able, in time of peace, to form a body of efficient officers, ready to repel any hostile attack. He regretted extremely that the noble lord had not applied himself, to devise means for diminishing the military expenditure of the country, which was enormously great and rapidly increasing, and concluded by recommencing a thorough change in the constitution of the army.
§ Mr. Huskisson
said, he had been in the habit of calling the attention of the House to the general state of the expenditure of the country on occasions similar to the present; but as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given the outline of a plan which he was soon to submit to them for their consideration, he should defer his observations on that subject till that plan came under discussion. He would only state at present, that if any person thought that he was less called on to retrench in consequence of that plan to render fresh taxation unnecessary for the next four years, he was most egregiously mistaken, and would be paying a very bad compliment to his right hon. friend. No person could look at his plan without feeling that it could be justified by necessity alone, and that if the war should continue for any length of time, the country would, in consequence of it, be involved in very serious difficulties.
He wished at present merely to state some objections to certain parts of the proposed estimates. The first kind of increased expence was, for an augmentation of two troops to the two regiments of life guards, stated at 28,000l. a piece; but this was by far the smallest part of the expence attending them. It was stated that this augmentation of two troops was necessary to these regiments, before they could be sent on foreign service. Now, were these two regiments, with reference to fitness, the very best cavalry regiments of the kingdom? If they were not the most fit to be employed on foreign service, they were certainly the best adapted for 1167 the purpose of being employed at home, in all cases of public ceremony and procession, and for the preservation of the peace. They were a body of men whose appearance was highly calculated to attract the attention of every person. He was incapable himself of giving any opinion with respect to these matters; but every officer who had served in the peninsula with whom he had conversed, told him that these regiments were not particularly adapted for the service of the peninsula, and that other regiments might have been selected, fully as well adapted. But what seemed to be most reprehensible was the delay in sending them off. After the battle of Salamanca had opened an extensive field of operations, the great officer at the head of our army was desirous of advancing into the heart of Spain, and for that purpose wished to have a supply of cavalry, as speedily as possible, to enable him to act with efficacy on the large plains of Castile. On the 22d of July the battle took place, and early in August the order was given to the life guards to prepare for foreign service. The troops, however, only left their barracks in October, and they remained at Lisbon till some time in the course of last month; so that they were of no use in the campaign. He hoped he should not be told that there were no other corps in the country more fit to be sent out, or capable of being dispatched sooner. Of 35,000 English cavalry. 12,135 were at home, and besides, there were 2,340 foreign cavalry in the country; and a great part of this force was fit to proceed immediately on any service. He did not wish to speak of the foreign troops with any thing like captious jealousy; but he must say this—that if any description of troops more than another ought to be employed out of the country, under the existing circumstances of the world, it was foreign cavalry. With respect to our cavalry, there could be no difficulty of remounting it to any extent. Cavalry could not be wanted in this country, except for assisting the police; and for this our own cavalry ought to be employed in preference to foreigners. He had always heard that the foreign cavalry had greatly distinguished themselves in every action, and that they had shewn themseves equal,—for it was impossible to be superior,—to our own. Why, then, were not more of them sent abroad, when we had such an abundance of them? In all points of view there seemed to him to have been no necessity for sending 1168 the life guards. No difficulty had ever existed in recruiting the cavalry. We did not want the aid of foreign cavalry for domestic purposes, to which our own cavalry was much more competent. While we retained 2,340 foreign cavalry at home, we had only 1,800 in the peninsula; although all military men concurred in highly estimating their zeal and gallantry. The noble lord had said, that the augmentation would cost but 28,000l. a-year. This, let it be observed, was for subsistence alone. It was a large and disproportionate sum. It would be observed that the augmentation of 160 men to the life guards occasioned an increase of 9,253l. for subsistence alone, while an augmentation of 210 men to a light dragoon regiment cost only 6,000l. But this was not the only expence which these additional troops would entail on the country. Only last year a barrack was asked for these regiments at the expence of 150,000l. and notwithstanding the enormous ex-pence, this question was carried by the ministry, but afterwards postponed to a future period. If they persisted in the erection of this barrack, the new troops would entail an additional expence of more than 100,000l. on the country. At a moment of such pressure as the present, any augmentation of the household troops was impolitic, and contrary to all precedent.
The next point in the Estimates to which he should allude, was an omission. The estimates of the present year did not state, as had always been done in the estimates of former years, the respective force employed at home and abroad. This was essentially necessary. The force serving at home had been gradually decreasing for some years. In 1810, it amounted to 133,000 men. Last year, it had been only 63,000. No doubt, in the present year it was still less, the circumstances of the war rendering it unnecessary to retain troops in the country. The consequence was, that a smaller staff became necessary at home. When the noble lord, therefore, stated that the staff abroad had considerably and necessarily increased, he ought to have been able to inform the House, that the staff at home had been considerably and necessarily diminished. But the expence was vast in every branch.
If this had arisen from an increased establishment abroad, he should not have been so much surprised at its amount. If we had now 100,000 men abroad, he could not expect that the expence of the 1169 staff for such an army should be no greater than when our army abroad amounted only to 30,000 or 40,000 men. This, however, was not the case, and our great staff establishment did not belong to our army abroad, but to our army at home. In the year 1809 our army for home defence amounted to 140,000 men, now it amounted only to 50,000, and yet our staff establishment at home was at. the present moment, quite as great as it was in the year 1809. We had, indeed, nothing but staff; there was nothing else to be seen. Major-generals and lieutenant-generals met our eyes on all hands, without any thing for them to command. This was the case not only in cavalry but in infantry. Retrenchment here, therefore, was loudly called for, and, unless our army had been starved in regard to the staff in the year 1809, it would be ridiculous to say that we could not dispense with a great part of our home staff at the present moment. It required no military knowledge to form a judgment on this head. During the last year our staff was greatly too large for the number of men employed in our service; now they were out of all proportion. He hoped, therefore, that ministers would not press this item to-night, but would bring forward a fresh and curtailed estimate, having reference to the curtailed numbers of our army at home, and to the state of the country. Our state of home defence was not now required to be such as when we were threatened with invasion. From this dread had our extended home expenditure, particularly in the staff of our army, arisen. Now, however, that the apprehensions of invasion had ceased, and that we were embarked in an extended system of foreign warfare, our staff establishment at home was maintained on the same expensive scale, as if an attack was still dreaded from an invading enemy, instead of being put on a scale consistent with the number of the troops and the wants of the country.
The next point to which he should refer was of minor importance. There was an item of 10,000l. for repairs to the Horse Guards, during the last and present years. Now, as to this item of expence, he thought it would have been better if the sum actually expended for the last year had been specified. He did not mean to say that the money would be misapplied, or that it would not be expended; but he thought it would be better that the specific amount of expenditure had been 1170 given. The observations with which he had troubled the Committee as to the disproportionate amount of our general staff at home, applied in a still more forcible degree to our Volunteer force, a body of men which might now be considered as merely nominal. On this head there was a charge of 209,000l. This was a force which he did not think now necessary, since a better force had been found, pretty much of the same description, in the Local Militia. The volunteer force was now almost intirely nominal. The danger which had given rise to it now no longer existed; and volunteering was kept up, in most instances, only with a view to avoid enrolment for the militia. This over loaded home staff, however, was not esteemed adequate even to the inspection of the volunteers, but a sum of 14,000l. was charged for inspectors of volunteer corps, of whom therewere, in reality, none to inspect; and there were also general officers for the occasional inspection of the militia. What, he asked, were those regular staff officers to do, if they could not discharge such a duty as this? It was high time that a check should be put to so exorbitant an expence; when the volunteers were a great and effective force, there were no such officers required; but now, when the volunteer force had become almost obsolete, this unnecessary expence was to be incurred. He was convinced, if such a force were now necessary the voluntary zeal of the country would revive; but till this was the case, he thought it would be well if the task of reviewing the corps which now nominally existed was to be considered a voluntary and unpaid for service also. These objections he did not apply to Ireland, as he was not sufficiently informed with respect to the necessity which might exist in that country for this description of force. He now came to a great item of expence, in his view of which probably there were few or none who might agree with him. Looking to our armies in the peninsula, he hoped he might, flatter himself with the expectation, that they were about to resume offensive operations, with better effect than they had lately done, and, if this should be found to be the case, he thought it extremely probable that we might be able to avoid calling out the local militia for the present year. Let no gentleman suppose that he undervalued this class of our national force as contributing to perfect security and national defence (and he thought that much praise was due to the 1171 noble lord who had brought forward the measure) but still he thought there could exist no necessity for calling it out at present.
Why call it out this year for 14 days, when there was no appearance of there being any occasion for it for years to come? Would it not be better not at all to call out the local militia this year, and to call it out for 21 days during the next year, when in all probability our foreign expenditure would be reduced in amount? It was not a force calculated to keep up the regular army. Calling it out into actual service could be of little avail where there was no dread of invasion; and when to this was added, the inconvenience of taking away from the agricultural districts one third of the farmers' servants for 14 days, when they could not be required, he hoped ministers would be induced to relinquish that idea for this year, and rather to call them out for 21 days in the following year, when their services might be more effective. In these different ways, the expence would be greatly reduced without the effective force being at all broken in upon. For besides the ex-pence attendant on this establishment, the pressure upon the agricultural part of the community was to be deprecated. In one district he knew that the number to be called out for exercise amounted to one-third of the agricultural population—a circumstance which must be attended with great inconvenience and loss. By attending to the suggestion he had ventured to throw out, they might afford greater means for offensive operations, to which alone he hoped they were now to look for a successful and speedy issue of the contest in which we were engaged.
§ Mr. Addington
said, that he wished to trouble the Committee with only a few observations on some topics that had been urged by his hon. friend who had just sat down, and an hon. gentleman (Mr. Law), who had spoken early in the debate, whom he had many reasons for having heard, then for the first time, with real pleasure, though he must own his pleasure would have been much greater, had not his opinions been so much at variance with his own. That hon. gentleman had contended against the practice of making the militia the medium for recruiting for the line on two grounds; first, that it gave offence to the commanding officers of the militia, and, secondly, on account of the expence incurred by the double bounties. He 1172 begged leave to assure him, that very few of the militia colonels remained adverse to the measure, especially since it had been made, by a legislative act, not a part of the military system of the country; and he applauded the public spirit of those who subdued their prejudices, or conquered their objections, in deference to the consideration of the permanent importance of increasing, by all possible means, the disposable force of the country. As to the comparative expence of recruiting direct into the line, or through the medium of the militia, he could assure the House that the difference was inconsiderable, notwithstanding the double bounties. He had made out an estimate from authentic documents; and he could demonstrate, that in no instance did the difference exceed between 4 and 5l. per man, and that after the first volunteering from the militia the expence was nearly equal. The hon. gentleman who just sat down had expressed an opinion of the unnecessary ex-pence of keeping up the volunteer force of the country. Of the incalculable service rendered by that meritorious body of men he could not express himself in terms of adequate panegyric. Perhaps he might agree in some of his hon. friend's observations respecting them. The subject had been for some time under the consideration of his noble relation; and he hoped the House would give him credit for there having been sufficient reasons why any new arrangement respecting them had not as yet been submitted to its consideration. As to the local militia, a part of our defensive force still more valuable, he ex-pressed in strong terms his surprise that his hon. friend should have even suggested the propriety of abstaining from calling them out this year, when they consisted almost entirely of raw recruits—before they had even received their clothing—and before officers and men knew any thing of each other. In case of any internal disturbance, without being previously brought to act together, they would be little better, if called out to suppress it, than a mere rabble. He implored the House not to apply too rigidly the principles of economy to this valuable branch of our defensive force, which was as yet in its infancy; and to bear in mind that, in the vicissitudes of human affairs, of which we had even recently such striking proofs, we might have occasion bitterly to regret, that in a moment of internal repose and freedom from external danger, we had 1173 neglected to foster and improve that branch of our defensive force, in which the public spirit of the country had so entirely committed itself, and on which so much dependence was to be placed in case of any such necessity. To think this impossible was the height of folly, and he was sure that, instead of legislating on so dangerous a principle, the Committee would feel the necessity of fostering this valuable branch of national defence while yet in its infant state.
said, that the hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Huskisson) had made it unnecessary for him to trouble the Committee at much length. With respect to one or two points, however, he wished to offer some observations. There was only an increase of 973 men in the household troops, and this was attended by an annual increase of 38,000l. He then remarked upon the want of judgment as well as the want of economy, in sending the horse guards to the continent at an extra expence of 2,000l. for new dressing and equipping them, without their being even fit for service on their arrival at the place of destination. These men, he said, had been raised to support the splendour and dignity of the crown, and were by no means intended for foreign service. Their equipments before they left this country, cost a great sum, and they would now become a constant expence, and so unfit were they for the species of service to which they were devoted, that no less than sixty of their horses died on the passage, which, with the delays that had taken place in their progress, rendered them nearly useless. These delays might have been avoided, by sending the regiment that had been brought from Ireland to take their places, directly from Cork to the peninsula, instead of bringing them to London. This was a subject which he thought ought to be strongly pressed upon the Committee, and which called for their peculiar and marked animadversion. The hon. gentleman next adverted to the recruiting service, and remarked, that the charge under this head was beyond the possibility of justification. The calculation was at about the rate of 34l. per man, a rate so extravagant, that he thought it could not be too strongly condemned.—The expence of our staff at home too, he observed, had increased, even while our force at home had been reduced to less than one-third of its former establishment. Besides about 2,075l. a year to 1174 himself, it cost the country 5,000l. more to examine general Delancey's accounts; and really he did not know what claims the general had on the public to entitle him to any such rewards, especially when they considered the disordered and unsatisfactory manner in which he had quitted his office. This was a description of expenditure for which he could not account, and which, in his opinion, called for the explanation of the noble Secretary at War. With respect to the amount and expenditure of foreign troops in our service, the number of men last year in these foreign corps was 30,700. This year there was a small increase in the number, for there was an addition of 1,422 men; but for this small additional number, there was an increased expence of no less an amount than 58,000l. This year, too, the money expended on foreign officers amounted to 42,000l. and last year it was only 27,000l. This was certainly a system of patronage, but not a system for encouraging military talent, and he would ask the Committee, whether it was likely that this was the most economical expenditure of the public money which could be made? On the increased expences of the Military College he would say but little, as he approved of all that had been done in that respect, and felt himself called upon to give full credit to the noble lord for the admirable system upon which this institution was conducted. He could not help, however, mentioning one little circumstance, which, from personal observation, he thought might be remedied in this place. He alluded to the immense ex-pence which was incurred for fuel. He remarked, when there, in the course of last winter, that there were not less than 200 fires lighted daily; and in the estimates, he observed, that a sum of 4,000l. was charged for fuel. This was an ex-pence which, he conceived, might be considerably lessened, by having recourse to any of those ingenious methods by which many large buildings were kept warm in this great metropolis.—On the subject of the Barrack Department in Ireland some details were wanting; and the House ought not to vote the 90,000l. on the estimates for that service until these details were given. It was a subject of serious consideration, that all these estimates were annually increasing. In 1804 they amounted only to 18,000,000l.; but this year they went so high as 29,000,000l. Upon the whole, he thought the House 1175 ought to examine diligently into the accounts, and see that they were formed upon principles of the strictest economy.
§ Mr. Creevey
said, that there was one part of the estimates upon which he meant to divide the Committee, and which he would again bring forward in the House when the resolutions should be discussed. An excels had been stated by the noble lord, of 34,000l. in the department of the paymaster of the forces. Now he should wish to make a permanent saving in this department of 2,500l yearly, by flinging one of the joint-paymasters and his deputy overboard. He would rest his motion on the Report of the Finance Committee in 1810, which recommended the abolition of one of those offices of paymaster as a sinecure. Mr. Long, in his evidence before that committee, admitted that lord C. Somerset had a salary of 2,000l. a year, and his deputy 500l; that his lordship interfered but little and that his deputy was sometimes out of England for a considerable time, without the public business sustaining any loss The situation which lord C Somerset held was, as he conceived, a complete sinecure, which the Finance Committee had very properly recommended to be abolished. His lordship was besides being paymaster, one of the generals of districts, whom he was himself to pay. His district, too, was something like a sinecure, for there were four or five general officers there, and but very few men. He should proceed in the same manner, upon that occasion, as had been done in the case of colonel M'Mahon. although there was less difficulty in the present case, as this office was not secured by a patent, but simply held at the pleasure of the crown.—This office had been included in the Bill which had been thrown out in the Lords, but there was a more effectual means left them now, as they had the supplies in their own hands. On these grounds he should think it his duty to divide the Committee on the seventh Resolution, to which he would propose as an Amendment, That the sum of 2,000l. should be left out, being the salary of the noble lord, and 500l. being the salary of his deputy.
§ Lord Charles Somerset
said, that unaccustomed as he was to address the House, he should not have troubled them upon the present occasion, were it not for the allusion made to the office which he had the honour of filling. The hon. gentleman had stated that he founded his pro- 1176 posal with respect to one of the paymasters upon the Report of the Select Committee upon sinecure places. There was a Bill now in progress through the House upon the subject. It did, therefore, appear to him, premature, if not novel, to call for a decision upon one particular part of that Bill. He doubted whether the removal of one of the paymasters would have the effect desired. The result of it would be to place him and his right hon. friend (Mr. Long) on half pay, as the patent under which they enjoyed their places was a joint one. They did not enjoy half the salary of their predecessors, and he trusted that when the nature and responsibility of the office were considered, that salary would not appear too much. The salary appointed for the office in 1782, was 4,000l. per annum. Mr. Burke, who brought in the Bill to regulate it at that time, knew well the duties of the office. He was influenced, at the same time, by a principle of economy, and would not appoint a salary too great for the labour. That labour and responsibility might be estimated from the comparative amount of the money which passed through the hands of the paymasters in 1783 and 1812. In the former year it was 7,389,043l. and in the latter it was 29,295,690l. so that the responsibility increased four-fold. He would ask them, whether they would pass such a censure on the memory of Mr. Burke, as to resolve that the salary of an office should be reduced, which he did not consider overpaid by 4,000l. a year. The salary had not been increased since Mr. Burke's time, it was only divided between two, and this division gave additional security to the public, not that he meant to insinuate they would be less secure if the office were confined to his right hon. friend; indeed, the public could have no better security than his integrity and his honour. He trusted when the House considered that the increase of responsibility was not less than 12,000,000l. and that the hon. gentleman in 1806, when he was in office, had voted the estimates without any such objection as that now brought forward—they would see sufficient ground for rejecting his proposal. There were two paymasters in 1806, when the hon. gentleman's own friends were in power; and if he was of opinion, that, at present one was quite sufficient, it was saying, that one of the present ministry was equal to two of their predecessors.
§ Mr. Long
admitted, that in the Committee alluded to, the abolition of one of the pay masterships was recommended; but that office was not under the same circumstances as the paymastership of widows' pensions. The latter was an office in the gift of the crown, the abolition of which had been frequently recommended to parliament. He denied that there was a real excess in the expence of the department at all equal to what had been staled by the hon. gentleman. As to the office of paymaster of the forces, the emoluments had been nearly as high as at present for a century. The salary of paymaster of the forces had not been at all increased. In the year 1715, when the office was held by the earl of Lincoln, the emolument of the office was 3,730l. a year, and so it continued to 1782, when Mr. Burke brought in his Bill to regulate the army pay office. By this Bill in 1783 the fees were abolished—the emoluments of the office taken away—and in consideration of the responsibility incurred, the salary settled at 4,000l. per annum: In the Committee on sinecure places, in 1797, it had been particularly referred to the Committee to report whether any reduction could be made, and after full inquiry into the nature of the office, and the labours attached to it, their report was, that the salary of paymaster could not be reduced without injury to the public service. If it were objected that the responsibility and the labour were not proportioned, he could assure the House that independent of responsibility there were other circumstances which added considerably to the labour. When he came into the office, he found an arrear of 25 years standing, for in truth no account had been passed through the audit office since the time of the passing of Mr. Burke's Bill. That gentleman, however great his talents in other respects, was, perhaps, on that very account the least fitted of any man for the dry details of office. Since he came into the situation fourteen years accounts had been passed. To him, therefore, the office which had been called a sort of sinecure was no sinecure. Since the adoption of the new system in that office the home accounts for 1809, 10 and 11, had been passed, and those for 1812 were now in progress. The foreign accounts were in the same state of forwardness. The result of the plan at present pursued was, that no irregularity or arrear could arise without the knowledge of the auditors of public 1178 accounts. He could assure the House, that since he held the situation he had been never absent from it more than one week together. Such an office could not be thought to be considered a sinecure. It was said that the whole of the business fell upon him; he could however assure them that whenever there was occasion his noble friend offered to share the labour. Although the same sort of attendance was not necessary for him, he had always been ready with his assistance when business pressed, and had taken upon himself that part which related to Chelsea hospital, which was by no means a sinecure. He was convinced that the abolition of the office would not contribute to any public advantage, nor would it be prudent to diminish the salary, whoever held the office. The responsibility of it had been much increased, and he hoped therefore the House would not consent to decrease the salary.
§ Mr. Creevey
said, that he did not object to the competency of the right hon. gentleman, nor would he even complain much of the amount of the salary; but he complained of dividing the salary and splitting the office, not for the convenience of the public service, but for purposes of parliamentary influence, which was, unfortunately, more attended to often in that House. Besides, the loss of one half of his salary was amply made up to the right hon. gentleman by a pension of 2,000l. a year, and a good house.
§ Mr. Creevey
answered, that it was 1,500l. besides a house which was at least 500l. more. It was true, that in 1806, he voted the estimates without objecting to the pay mastership; but he objected to it now, on the ground of a resolution passed in a committee that sat in 1810.
§ Mr. Addington
assured the House that the pension granted to his right hon. friend, was given at the particular desire of his Majesty, for the important services Mr. Long had performed as Secretary of the Treasury.
§ Lord Palmerston
rose to reply. With regard to what had fallen from an hon. member, respecting the recruiting service, he assured the Committee that the greatest care had been taken by the department to which he had the honour of belonging, to prevent any unfair practices in the en listing of soldiers He could not at all consider it unfair that the militia were al- 1179 lowed to volunteer into the regular service. They were allowed four days to consider the step they had adopted, and every care was taken by the commander in chief that in the course of the volunteering no unfair proceeding should be had recourse to. Some facetious observations had been made by another hon. member on the dress of the guards, who had been called Orlandos and Rinaldos. He did not doubt but they would equal the valour of those heroes when they came into action. In reply to what had fallen from an hon. member, he begged leave to observe, that it certainly was not the intention of the board of general officers to strip the soldiers of their breeches and boots, though the accusation reminded him of an anecdote he had heard of a French officer in the peninsula, who, hearing of the approach of the English army at night, leaped out of bed and mounted his horse in the exact predicament supposed by the hon. member. Their clothing was paid for partly by their colonel, and partly by stoppages of their money. The money was supplied in the first instance, by the officer, and then the portion to be supplied by the soldier, was repaid by small instalments to suit the convenience of the private. Another thing that had called forth animadversion, was the change from leather breeches to pantaloons; but the experiment had been tried in the artillery train, and found infinitely preferable. The leather when wet was difficult to be cleaned, neither was it so warm a clothing. The various alterations made in their dress were therefore effected, not to make them appear fine gentlemen in the streets, but because it was thought they would be found conducive to their comfort, and beneficial to the service. Their helmets had been called fantastical and theatrical, but when the Committee reflected on the evils to which the, cavalry were subjected, exposed in their little cocked hats to the effects of the heats and rain, or losing them, from the difficulty of keeping them fixed on the head, and consequently going bare headed into battle, it would be felt that it was much better that they should be supplied with a comfortable helmet, which could not be knocked off, and the metal of which would turn the edge of a sword. He denied, however, that those changes in the equipment caused any increase of emolument to the colonels; from all he had collected, he should rather 1180 think it diminished their emoluments.—The next point that had been objected to was the number of foreigners in our army, and which number had increased. He denied that the foreigners in our service increased in proportion to the rest of the army. If it were practicable to augment our army with English soldiers to that amount to which it was desirable it should extend to meet the emergencies of the service, he was confident there was no one who would not prefer such an army to an army partly composed of foreigners. It was, however, with government, a question not of option, but of necessity, whether foreigners should be admitted into our service. Engaged in a sanguinary contest with an enemy whose resources were almost unlimited, as our army could not from the population of the country be recruited beyond a given point with Englishmen, it was necessary, as well as soundly politic, to make up the number required by the circumstances of the times with foreigners who claimed our protection. Those gentlemen who were of opinion that the foreigners in our service, who had been killed or wounded in the peninsula, were few in proportion to the number of British casualties, he wished to reflect how small a proportion of our foreign troops were on service there. It would be found, so small a number of them were there engaged, that the proportion they bore to the British was little more than as 1 to 10. Taking this into consideration, and comparing the casualties, it would be found that the foreign soldiers in our service had suffered, in proportion to their number, full as much as the British, or rather more. It had been observed that the returns in the Gazettes differed from the returns laid be-fore that House. This was easily to be accounted for, as the Gazettes did not contain the discharges, nor the desertions (most of which took place here); but he could assure the Committee the Gazettes were entitled to the fullest and most implicit confidence, and he knew not of one instance of intentional faithlessness in any return which they had contained. That mistakes might occur in the hurry of I making up the returns after a great battle, it was easy to conceive, on the part of the officers; but intentionally they never concealed the full extent of the loss sustained, and every case received was published in the Gazette. An honourable member lamented that there had been he saving 1181 in the estimates of this year; that was certainly a subject of regret to those who had to vote the sums, and it was no less a subject of regret to those who had to frame the estimates: but this he thought could not have been expected at a period when we were called upon to strain every nerve to offer effectual resistance to the enemy. At a time when such great efforts were demanded, a reduction in these estimates could not be looked for; and he felt it would be trifling with the House to hold out to them a hope or an encouragement to expect that any great saving, in the present circumstances of the world, could be effected. There might, indeed, be 10,000l. saved here, or 20,000l. saved there; but no considerable saving could be accomplished. An objection had been taken to the employment of the life guards abroad, because more expensive in their equipment than other dragoons. Upon the general principle which had been adopted, however, he did not see the policy of keeping up any considerable military force in the country, which should not take its chance of foreign service. It was desirable-for the benefit of the country, and it served to keep up the spirit of the men. It might be true, that the life guards never had served abroad before: but the horse guards or blues had served in Germany in former wars, and they were equally a part of the household troops of the King. In addition to this general objection against the life guards, it had been said that immediately on the receipt of the news of the battle of Salamanca, cavalry which was easily equipped, ought to have been sent out to lord Wellington, to enable him to advance in pursuit of the enemy. Now, what was the state of the case? Immediately on receiving news of that action, ministers sent out, not cavalry, but a brigade of guards, and these, though sent with the utmost expedition, did not join lord Wellington till he had commenced his retreat, nor indeed, till, in point of fact, his retreat might be said to be concluded. From this it was clear that no advantage would have arisen from sending out any other body of cavalry instead of the life guards, as such assistance could not have reached lord Wellington in time to enable him to advance, nor to assist him in his retreat. In answer to the observations thrown out on the conduct of ministers, for not sending out a German regiment of cavalry, he had to state, that 1182 three out of four regiments of German cavalry in our service were in the peninsula. The observations made on the number of officers on the houshold staff, from a comparison made of the number of men now and formerly stationed in certain districts, he contended were unfair. Though we might have a smaller number of men at home than were as home in 1809, it did not thence follow that the staff ought necessarily to be smaller. The number of officers, required on the staff, was regulated by districts rather than by men. If, for instance, a general had 10 depôts, each containing 400 men, nearly as many officers would be required to transact the business, as if 800 men were at each depô.With respect to the 10,000l. called for, for repairs of the Horse Guards, to which so much objection had been made, he wished to state that this included not only the repairs done at the Horse Guards, but also those which came under the cognizance of the surveyor of the Horse Guards, namely, those at the Pay-office, at one of the Secretary of State's offices, those done to the barracks at Knightsbridge, and buildings at Kew, and to certain other buildings.—The noble lord then proceeded to defend the propriety of calling out the local militia this year. On this head no diminution could at present be effected. The recruiting establishments which had been noticed were of important use, and in every respect necessary. The sum called for in aid of general Delancey's debts, he explained to be of no importance. It was taken from the public with one hand and given to them with the other, as that which was given to him before he became a defaulter, was taken back to be applied to the payment of his debts. The veteran battalions, consisting of foreigners, had been formed of invalids who were not fit for service, and whom it would have been an act of manifest cruelty, in the present state of the continent, to have sent to their own country, as the French government would, in all probability, institute proceedings against them, and perhaps put them to death. The item which appeared in the estimates for allowances to retired foreign officers, arose out of the provisions made for the Dutch officers, who had come to this country when the Stad tholder left Holland. These men, it had been thought reasonable, should hold the rank they formerly held in their own country. The item was new to these estimates, having 1183 been brought from the army extraordinaries. Its amount was about 15,000l. The expence of the Military College he admitted to be great; but he contended it was an establishment of great value to the country, as he thought the cadets quite adequate to furnish the army with a supply of well educated officers. With regard to what had been urged against the Irish barracks, he thought the estimate went very much into detail: there was no statement, indeed, where those were, in what part of Ireland, nor was he prepared to state those facts to the Committee, but he would make inquiries. It should be remembered, that there was not the same facility in quartering troops in Ireland as in England: there were fewer public houses, and the laws were different there, for soldiers might be quartered upon private individuals; and it was to lighten that burden upon the civil inhabitants that arracks were to be created.—With regard to the paymaster general, so much had been said upon that subject, that he should offer no opinions of his own; but he hoped that when general plans of economy were before that House, as they were at present, the Committtee would not think it necessary to be picking out single instances upon which to exercise the spirit of reform.
§ Mr. Whitbread
said, he regarded the day on which the Army Estimates were voted as an important day in every session, and he was a little disappointed on the present occasion, that none of those gentlemen who had maintained that our operations on the peninsula should be conducted upon a more extensive scale, had not come forward with some plan to shew how a greater force, and how more money to support that force, could be obtained. The object of the Committee, however, now was to see that so large a sum as 17,000,000l. was so expended as to make it go as far it could. The noble lord, he thought, had talked with too much levity about saving 10,000l. here, or 20,000l. there; if ten or twenty thousand could be saved any where it ought to be saved; nay, if one or two thousand could be saved, it was the bounden duty of the Committee to do it. It was said there were great difficulties in supplying the deficiencies in the army. He did not mean to go back to Mr. Windham's plan; but he would say he was firmly convinced, that if that most wise, salutary, and comprehensive mode had been adopted in all 1184 its parts and principles, no such difficulties would now be felt. It was, however, too late to think of that plan now; and all we could do was to go on from hand to mouth, and supply our wants with foreigners as well as we could.—With regard to the horse guards, he thought the explanation of the noble lord very unsatisfactory. The horse guards were not the best fitted for foreign service, and they were sent abroad; they were best fitted for home duty, and they were not allowed to remain here. He had no doubt they would fight well; they had the gallantry of Englishmen, neither more nor less, and that was enough. But so unfit were they for foreign service, that, as he was credibly informed, when they arrived in the peninsula, about fifty of the horses died in the first fourteen miles they marched. Yet their employment occasioned an increase in the estimates of 29,000l. And how absurd and preposterous was their equipment! But, said the noble lord, only consider what a thing it would be if they had gone out in their little cocked hats, which would be so easily knocked off, and they would be exposed, bare-headed, to the elements. Why, the poor Blues were sent off with their little cocked hats, but the horse guards were furnished with helmets, and of such a weight (for he had tried one on his own head, as matter of curiosity), that they were an infinitely greater evil than the one intended to be remedied. Perhaps, indeed, they had been altered; for change and alteration were the fashion of the day. In addition to this weight, they were furnished with a rivet and screw, for the purpose of keeping fast some ornament, and which were so placed on the inside, that if a heavy blow of a sabre fell on the helmet, it must fracture the skull of the wearer; and yet it was all done for the convenience of the soldier. He had been told, however, that by the present foolish and ridiculous manner of equipping the cavalry, the colonels pocketed 700l. a year, while the men lost an aggregate of 400l.; nor were the helmets of that use they were pretended to be. Let any gentleman pass by the Horse Guards, and look at the little straight cap, bolt upright, with no shade for the eye, in sun or rain, and then judge whether the comfort of the soldier was consulted. He had seen the 10th regiment reviewed some years ago under the command of Sir Charles Grey, and a finer and more fitly dressed body of men were 1185 never seen: if a soldier equipped in the fashion of the present day had ridden through the line, the whole regiment must have burst into laughter. Another preposterous part of their equipment was the saddles. England was celebrated for its sadlery, and on the continent nothing was more eagerly sought after than an English saddle; but that which the horse guards had was any thing but a saddle: two sticks and a bit of leather composed its whole construction. He regretted to see such mummery—every Englishman laughed at them as they passed along the streets. The noble lord had called his hon. friend facetious: the board of general officers were far more facetious, for they made all England laugh every day. He could wish also that the national colour had not been departed from. All the continental troops nearly were clothed in blue uniforms: why had we adopted that colour? Many fatal accidents had happened in consequence of it. Our men, mistaking the enemy, had fallen into their hands: sometimes they had fallen by the hands of their own comrades, who mistook them for the enemy. He saw no occasion for any change. Red was the established English colour, and the soldier was proud of it. With regard to the estimates themselves, he thought they ought to be deferred. The noble lord had not satisfactorily accounted for the 10,000l. for repairing the Horse Guards. He had talked of buildings at Kew and barracks at Knightsbridge; but there was no distinct specification of expences. As to the barracks in Ireland, he felt much inclined to divide the Committee upon that point, if it were only to punish the negligence of the noble lord, in coming to that House unprepared with proper information on the subject. He knew nothing about them; neither where they were to be built, nor of what they were to be built, but he would enquire, and tell the House another time. The noble lord ought to wait till another time, then, before he had the money voted. He hoped his hon. friend's Resolution respecting the paymaster to the forces, would be pressed to a division, for that it was a sinecure appeared from the mouth of the noble lord himself. It was better to have one paymaster at 4,000l. a year, than two at 2,000l. a year each, for then ministers would have, perhaps, one vote the less in that House. It was perfectly within the power of the Committee to annul the of- 1186 fice, and it would become them to shew the country that they were anxious to save the public money, and to abridge the influence of the crown in that House.
said, he knew four of the places in Ireland at which barracks were established—Kilkenny, Newtown, New Bridge, and the neighbourhood of Dublin. No money was so well spent as that which was thus laid out, as he was confident that a great saving was effected by erecting permanent barracks.
§ Mr. Whitbread
remarked, that the estimate should have contained an account of the sums expended, and likely to be expended, on each barrack, as was the case with the barrack estimates for England. As to another item of the Irish expenditure, nothing could be more galling to the public than to see sums of money voted annually to such an eminent public defaulter as general Delancy.
said, that detailed accounts could not be expected in such cases at that of the Irish barracks. The hon. gentleman should have moved for such account in an earlier part of the session, and it would have been produced.
allowed that this was the time for entering into a detailed examination of the expenditure of the army, but thought that the arguments which had been brought forward respecting insufficiency of detail, were only some of those parliamentary shifts to put off a decision on a question which were so well known to the hon. gentleman. His noble friend had not expressed his contempt of small savings, but had merely told the committee that he should deceive them if he led them to suppose that any considerable saving could be made in the Army Estimates, without as considerable a reduction of our military force. Indeed, of all the proposed savings, that which had been suggested on the local militia, was the only one of magnitude, and this could not be effected without departing from the principles laid down by parliament in its act relative to this force; that this country should never be left without sufficient internal means of defence. Of this consciousness of security the country had often during the present war felt the advantage. In contradiction to what had been affirmed by an hon. gentleman opposite, he could assert that our army was on the increase, and particularly in the British part of it. The British recruits were, indeed, sufficient to cover the deficiencies 1187 in our army, at this time greater than at any period of our history. It was indeed a prodigy that we, who had never before had the character of a military nation, could present ourselves before Europe with 230,000 regular troops, together with a regular militia which raised that number to 300,000. This military pre-eminence was owing in a great measure to the system of recruiting from the militia regiments, which he had felt it his duty (at that time disagreeable), to bring forward. No other plan would have proved so effectual. He challenged those who differed from him in this to meet him on the subject. The rage for limited service had gone by, and out of 14,000 men who had enlisted, 12,000 had preferred unlimited service. The discussion as to the limited service, as compared with service for life, he should be ready to enter into, if brought forward distinctly. There did not appear to be in the minds of recruits so strong a rage as had been represented for limited service, as it might be seen by documents that, as he had already stated, out of 14,000 recruits, 12,000 had enlisted for an unlimited term.—Much had been said during the discussion concerning the dress and equipage of the soldiery, but this was one which he thought the House was peculiarly unfit to judge of. In support of this assertion, the noble lord observed, that though the foreign saddle was so much decried, it did not subject the horses to sore backs, as was the case with the English saddle; and though he, in common with other gentlemen, preferred the old japanned cavalry helmet to the modern brass one, vet on consulting a cavalry officer, he found that the former, in hot countries, cracked, and consequently, in the event of rain, was immediately destroyed. After remarking that the 10,000l. proposed for the Horse Guards included also the repairs of other barracks, the noble lord said that he consoled himself with the thought, that the hon. gentleman who was so acute at picking holes-in a statement in any line, had raised such trifling objections to that of his noble friend. The objections to the stale of the office of paymaster could not bear on the expence, and as to the constitutional point, if any objection were raised on the score of influence, it should be brought on as a separate motion; it was one which could not properly be disposed of in a committee of supply.
§ Mr. Whitbread
remarked, that in a Bill 1188 which he had introduced to prevent the holders of certain offices from sitting in parliament, the joint paymaster of the army was included.
§ Mr. Bankes
said, that no explanatory answers had been given to the arguments of the hon. gentleman on the subject of the home staff. He would agree that they were not to judge by the amount of the staff what were the number of the troops at home; at the same time the estimates ought to be conformable to the expence. The noble lord said, it was not for the purpose of the Horse Guards, but for other purposes; then why not state the contingency fairly. They were intitled to be informed what the estimates were for. In the instance of barracks, they were not told where the barracks were that were included in the estimate. Another point was not explained, why the life guards were sent abroad: they were sent at a greater expence than any force of the same nature could have been sent, when it was acknowledged on all hands they were most unfit for foreign service. Out of this estimate, in his opinion, 600,000l. or 700,000l. might be saved to the country. As to the volunteer corps, the ex-pence of which might be estimated at 209,000l. there was nothing to prevent them from sinking that expence altogether, as long as the country remained in a state of tranquillity. If it was necessary to call out the local militia this year, it might be as well in the month of October as May, and in his opinion, under the circumstances of the country, the drilling for three weeks this year might be dispensed with which would save another large sum, and by this kind of recess they would gain a great number of converts to the system, when they found they would be only obliged to drill when the necessity or danger of the country imperiously called upon them: a saving of 450,000l. would thus be effected. As to the point, relative to the office of paymaster, it would be debated this week on the Bill which he had the honour to produce to that House. He would agree, that whenever there was an inefficient office, all times were proper to do away with it; at the same time he did not think the country would gain much by abolishing the joint office, as the business of it had so much increased, and the great attention that his right hon. friend (Mr. Long) had paid to the department would be the means of preventing others from departing from his 1189 precedent. The situation had been divided for parliamentary and other purposes. He would, however, support the amendment; he could not do otherwise, as it was always his principle to do away with a sinecure place. Savings of 10,000l. or 20,000l. were not immaterial. They were small as to the whole amount of our taxes, but not small as to the principle. As to the Irish barrack service, he recommended the continuance of the practice of laying papers annually on the subject before the House.
said, that the only expence incurred by sending the life guards to the peninsula was the raising of another troop; he thought it was but fair they should have gone, otherwise they would be deprived of the ordinary advantages of the army. The extraordinaries of a regiment of life guards on foreign service were not greater than those of any other regiment. Though it was not desirable that this heavy corps should perform the duty adapted to lighter troops, yet it was essential, in time of action, to have a body of cavalry, of such weight, and so efficient in every respect as that in question, to bear the brunt of the battle. It was by the desire of lord Wellington that they were sent in his rear to the Tagus, instead of having been forwarded by Corunna to Castile, and in that gallant general's last dispatches, he said, he had reviewed the life guards and the Oxford blues, and never saw such fine cavalry in his life. As to the saving proposed by the hon. gentleman who spoke last, as it related to the volunteer corps and local militia, there might be some, but it would be so trifling that the experiment would not make amends for it.
§ Mr. W. Smith
agreed with the noble lord with respect to the local militia, and thought that in the course of 20 years, if properly kept up, it would afford the most effectual defence for the country. He disapproved of the mode of enlisting men for life, in the moment of intoxication, or under circumstances equally improper; and thought that the way to ascertain the superior eligibility of the two methods of enlisting for life or for seven years, was not to ask a man who was enlisted the other day, whether he repented of his resolution, but to ask him seven years hence. With respect to the manner in which the army was clothed, he did not see why gentlemen in that House might not form an opinion on it, when their opinion was the same as that of every man they 1190 met in the streets, as well as of the persons who were condemned to wear these trappings, only fit for a mountebank. The hon. member agreed that permanent barracks might be less expensive than temporary ones, in time of war, but contended that they would be more expensive in the intervals of peace, which he hoped would be longer than they had lately been. He considered the argument of his hon. friend near him, with respect to the joint paymastership, as perfectly conclusive. If the paymaster's duty could be performed by one person, it ought to be performed by one person.
§ Lord Palmerston
explained, that what he had said with respect to small savings referred to the impossibility of reducing the great bulk of the estimate.
§ Mr. Huskisson
confessed that the force of argument employed against the double-pay-master-ship, would compel him to give his vote against it, and expressed a wish that the vote as to the home staff should be postponed till further information was obtained on the subject.
was of opinion that the Committee could not, with propriety, postpone the staff estimate, because no material reduction could be made in that branch without injury. The number of troops in England and Ireland was very considerable, but the staff should not be proportional to the number of troops, but to the number of divisions in the districts over which the troops extended. The reduction of any part of the staff would be injurious, because it would cause a want of vigilance and regularity in the lower departments. There were not less than 130,000 men on home service in England and Ireland. This body required a large superintending staff.
§ The House then divided upon the proposition of Mr. Creevey,
|List of the Minority.|
|Atherley, A.||Duncannon, lord|
|Aubrey, Sir J.||Fitzgerald, M.|
|Bankes, H.||Gordon, R.|
|Babington, Tho.||Guise, Sir \V.|
|Bonnet, hon. H. G.||Halsey, G.|
|Broadhead, T.||Hamilton, lord A.|
|Calvert, Cha.||Hornby, E.|
|Creevey, T.||Huskisson, W.|
|Campbell, lord J.||Johnstone, C.|
|Keck, Lee||Parnell, Sir H.|
|Kemp, Tho.||Rancliffe, lord|
|Lefevre, S.||Ramsden, J.|
|Lemon, Sir W.||Smith, J.|
|Lloyd, M.||Smith, R.|
|Maitland, F.||Smith, Wm.|
|Martin, H.||Speirs, A.|
|Methuen, P.||Thornton, H.|
|Milton, lord||Western, C.|
|Monck, Sir C.||Whitbread, S.|
§ The original question was then carried, and the consideration of the remainder of the Estimates postponed to Friday.