§ The House having resolved itself into a committee of supply to which the Army Estimates were referred,
§ Lord Palmerston
said, that the vote he was about to propose, was for the half year ending in June next. He thought it would be proper that the general discussion should be postponed until after Easter, when the report of the finance committee would be laid on their table, and they would be called to decide on an establishment for the rest of the year. He should propose a vote for the number and charge of the land forces, up to the month of June, in order to enable him to bring in the mutiny bill, which would be co-extensive in duration with the vote. It would be a short mutiny bill, extending from the 24th of march to the 24th of June next. Another object would be to give time to consider of the means by which the remaining part of the expense of the service was to be covered. He should take a vote on those items relative to which no dispute could 926 arise; for instance, on the Chelsea and Kilmainham establishments, and also on the yeomanry and volunteer corps, for the half-year, ending the 24th of June. He should now state the general bearing of those estimates, and the difference in charge, compared with those of last year. The difference in expense between the estimates of the preceding and the present year, was 2,165,000l. The number of men voted last year, including officers and non-commissioned officers, was 196,000; the number to be voted this year, 140,000, including those in India and France—being a reduction of 56,000 men. The foreign corps being struck out of this number, the reduction, including officers, would be 33,492 men: or, reckoning only rank and file, a reduction of 26,176 men. In addition to this, there would be withdrawn from France, in April next, in consequence of ah arrangement with the allied powers, 4,800 men—which, added to 26476, would form a gross reduction of 30,976 rank and file. The first resolution which he should move was, "That a number of land forces, not exceeding 121,035 men (including the forces stationed in France); and also 15,585 men, proposed to be disbanded; and 1,863 men proposed to be transferred to the Indian establishment, in the year 1817 (but exclusive of the men belonging to the regiments now employed in the territorial possessions of the East-India company, or ordered from thence to Great Britain), commissioned and non-commissioned officers included, be maintained for the service of the united kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, from the 25th day of December 1816, to the24th day of June 1817, both inclusive,: being 182 days."
§ Mr. Calcraft
said, he was not then prepared to enter into the subject in detail: but after the committee had made their report, the House would be able to ascertain what was intended to be done by government. What he understood was, that they were then only called upon to consent to the numbers up to the 24th of June.
§ Mr. Curwen
, trusting that the committee above stairs would recommend a farther reduction of our enormous military establishment, would abstain from any observations till he saw the report. He was decidedly of opinion, that all the retrenchments which had been made were totally inadequate to the situation of the country.
said, it would be better 927 to reserve any arguments till the House proceeded to the discussion after Easter. He should now merely state, that the 26,176 rank and file included reliefs to foreign garrisons.
, in answer to a question respecting the forces in Ireland, said, that an assimilation had taken place in the services of the two countries, and a considerable saving had been made in the Irish regiments.
The resolution was agreed to. Lord Palmerston next moved, that a farther sum of 237,600l. be granted for the army in England, and 438,000l. for the land forces in Ireland. The sum for troops intended to be reduced on the British establishment would be 131,600l., and on the Irish establishment 16,700l. These sums being agreed to, his lordship then moved, that the sum of 37,500l. should be voted for six months, at a calculation of 3l. a man for the volunteer corps in England. His lordship observed, there had never been any question as to the utility of this force; the events of the last six months had shown the absolute necessity of keeping it in an efficient state; and he was happy to say, that these corps had on all occasions conducted themselves in such a manner as fully entitled them to the consideration of that House, and to the thanks of the nation at large.
§ Sir J. C. Hippisley
thought he should be wanting in his duty, if he did not bear testimony to the full efficiency of these corps. On two occasions, very recently, he had as a magistrate witnessed their exertions. Though scattered over a district of 49 miles, and summoned in the course of the night, they were all assembled for duty by nine o'clock in the morning. He would beg to press it on the noble lord, that the original sum of 4l. was fully necessary for the due efficiency of that most useful force.
concurred most decidedly in the general merits of that species of force, than which none more constitutional could be called out in aid of the civil power. So impressed were his majesty's government with the efficiency of the yeomanry force, that unless under that conviction they would not have been justified in proposing to parliament the low estimates now in contemplation. With every disposition to afford the fullest means of efficiency, yet in time of peace he must think the allowance of 3l. per man sufficient.
§ Mr. Curwen
congratulated the House 928 upon the perfect disposition there appeared throughout the country, to strengthen the hands of government by the powerful aid of this constitutional force.
thought government might avail themselves of the services of that loyal body the light horse volunteers, most seasonably, and at a very trifling expense. It was only necessary to have it made known to them, to create a strong disposition to muster, under the present circumstances, for the preservation of the public peace.
contended, that the yeomanry ought not to be expected to maintain themselves. He wished their allowance to be fixed at 4l. per man.
§ Mr. Calcraft
hoped, before a permanent vote was come to on this subject, that the noble lord would consider of the propriety of making such an arrangement as would satisfy those who gave up their time for the service of the country. He was glad to hear these eulogiums on the yeomanry, as he thought they would hereafter furnish him with unanswerable arguments in favour of a further reduction of the army.
doubted if the yeomanry would be made more efficient by increasing their allowances. In Paris there were 40,000 national guards, well clothed, and in every respect a most efficient body of men, who did not cost the country sixpence, and whose pride it was to receive no pay.
said, the allowances could not be considered as a remuneration for the services of the yeomanry. Such an imperfect reward could not degrade them, and it was two much to expect that farmers and shopkeepers should bear all the expense of their equipments themselves.
§ The resolution was agreed to.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, the House would recollect, that 50,000,000 of francs had been appropriated by the allies to the British and Prussian armies, for their services at Waterloo, over and above their respective shares of the contributions exacted from France. Some difficulties had interposed, and as this sum could not be conveniently furnished by the time at which it was desirable that it should be distributed, a hope had been held out that a grant in advance would be proposed to parliament. The regularity with which the French government had made its payments was such, that a csnsiderable part of the sum had been laid by, and the sum of 500,000l. sterling had been already ex- 929 ended. The advance of 1,000,000l. was however necessary, for the reasons he had given; but lie had the happiness to say the British military chest was so well furnished, that no further provision would be required for the troops in France between this and the end of the year. The sum advanced would be repaid in that time if there occurred no failure in payment of the French contributions, which was not at all to be expected, from the punctuality hitherto observed; more especially as the withdrawing of 30,000 troops from the army of observation, would so greatly diminish the amount of the payments France would have to make. Under these circumstances, the grant he should propose must be considered as a mere temporary grant. He then moved, "That a sum, not exceeding one million, be granted to his majesty, to enable his majesty to grant unto field marshal the duke of Wellington, and his majesty's forces and those of his majesty's allies serving under his grace's command at the battle of Waterloo, and the capture of Paris, in such manner as his majesty shall direct, the sum of twenty-five millions of francs assigned to his majesty from the pecuniary indemnity payable by France under the treaty of the 20th day of November 1815, by the protocol of the ministers of the allied powers of the same date."
took occasion to say a few words on the subject of an operation with which he had been connected, and which had certainly been noticed more out of that House than in it. What had been said would have little effect on him, as he was rather in the habit of consulting his own understanding to determine what it was his duty to do, than of regulating his conduct by the prejudices of others. In the present instance there had been much misapprehension as to the extent to which he had been engaged in the transaction alluded to. He had unquestionably put himself forward with other individuals, gentlemen of Holland, Hamburgh, and Paris, to advance such a loan to the French government as was necessary to enable it to fulfil its engagements. Doing this he had first considered what was his duty to his country. Though, as a merchant, his conduct was regulated by views of general interest, yet in every thing that related to politics his first care was to ascertain how his country would be affected by any transaction in which he was concerned. In the present case he was sure there had 930 been a British object in view, and the interest of the nation had been looked to, he believed, more than was common in such pursuits. Though not in that House, in other places, many attacks had been made on his conduct. These, be believed, arose out of some misapprehension, as the share he had had in the affair in question was very inconsiderable. This would easily be believed when he stated the operation, so far as any one in this country was concerned, to be completely closed. Supposing that no British object had been in his view, and considering the transaction to have been wholly of a commercial character, he would still contend, that no injury could be sustained by this country. A noble person who was in the habit of giving the public instruction every three or four months in pamphlets which he sent forth to the world, had noticed this transaction, in doing which he had taken some liberties with his (Mr. Baring's) name; but the principles he had advanced were in themselves so absurd that he did not think it necessary to answer them. The sum of his argument was this, that no merchant was justified in sending money out of the country. If this were admitted to be true, what, in many instances, could the merchant do? And what danger was to be apprehended, he might ask, from the conduct thus condemned? When the merchant sent money out of the country, it must always be with the certainty, with the hope at least that it would return and bring more with it. The argument, however, which had been used against him was this—that as mechanics were prohibited by law from sending their tools out of the country, so the merchant who carried on his business by means of money had no right to send his capital abroad. This was really so ridiculous that he was ashamed to trouble the committee with any further explanation on the subject. He would only say, that no harm could result from the transaction to this country. Had it been otherwise, he would have had nothing to do with it. In what had taken place, to promote British interests had been constantly his object.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
was persuaded no man could have acted with more candour or propriety than the hon. gentleman who had just sat down had done, in the transaction with the French government. Before he entered into any negociation with that power, he had candidly told the government of this country 931 what proposals were made to him, and had expressed in the most manly manner his willingness to relinquish any share in the transaction, if it could prove directly or indirectly injurious to this country. No pledge, no guarantee, no security of any kind was given him by government; but he was told that they saw no injury whatever likely to result to the country from the loan, but on the contrary, thought it might be beneficial to Europe, and to this country in particular, by contributing to the stability of France. This was the view ministers formed of the transaction; and he repeated, that no individual could have acted with more candour, more uprightness, or more integrity, than the hon. gentleman had done.
§ The resolution was agreed to.