§ The report of the committee of supply, to which the Army Estimates were referred, having been brought up, and the first Resolution read,
§ Mr. J. P. Grant
rose, and expressed his intention of proposing, as an amendment, the substitution of the word "September" in the place of December. His reasons for making this proposition were founded on the proceedings of the House, in appointing a committee of finance, on the suggestion of the noble lord opposite. He had understood, when the noble lord had proposed his committee of finance, that it was for the purpose of ascertaining the amount of income and expenditure before the estimates of the year were submitted to the House. The noble secretary at war had also required, in the early part of the session, to have the estimates voted only for six months, on the ground of the impropriety of declaring the ultimate expenditure of the year, before the committee of finance had made its report. It would therefore be necessary to show that some alteration had taken place in the affairs of the country, to justify this deviation from the principle and mode of procedure formerly adopted, and to prove that the House were not stultifying themselves in the presence of the country. He had ever considered that the army estimates were submitted to parliament on the sole responsibility of ministers, unfortified by the decision of any committee of the House; nor could any minister come before parliament, and meet the objections, offered to the estimates by saying, "These are not our estimates, but have emanated from a committee of yourselves." It was impossible for the House to enter into a satisfactory examination of the estimates, without having the report of the committee of finance; for the mere assertion of any individual member of the financial embarrassments of the country must have but little weight, unless supported by official documents. The noble secretary at war had said that the estimates were framed on economical principles, referring principally to the colonies, because, said the noble lord, the colonies might be held at too dear a rate. He (Mr. Grant) would 538 apply the same principle to the whole expenditure of the country, and ask, whether as great a danger might not be apprehended from having an expenditure far exceeding our income, as from not having one or two of the garrisons now proposed as necessary? He feared it would be found that the sinking fund was the only disposable means for the support of the establishment of the present year. If, however, this point could not be ascertained, and that the committee could not bring in their report, what inconvenience could result from passing a vote only for three months, at which time the House could come to the discussion fairly, and regulate the expenditure of the country by a reference to its income? Even in the present state of their information, he entertained no doubt that the proposed estimates far exceeded what the country could afford; and in considering the force necessary to form the peace establishment, he could not avoid referring to what it had been in the year 1792. In making this comparison between the respective establishments, the difference was to him wholly unaccountable. In the year 1792, the forces in Great Britain amounted only to 15,701 rank and file. They were in the present estimate 30,000. In the old colonies the garrisons, in 1792, amounted to 11,282 men, at present to 20,416, and including officers to 23,416. In every other branch of the service, the comparative numbers bore an equal disproportion. It had been allowed that two-thirds of the numbers necessary for the old colonies would be sufficient for the new, at which calculation 18,804 men would, at the rate of 1792, be sufficient for all the colonies, instead of 34,000, as now required, independent too of the establishment in India and the army in France; but he could sec no reason for employing now in the same services more than double the numbers that had been thought sufficient in 1792. The learned gentleman then referred to the report of the finance committee, which had sanctioned these estimates. The committee had not therein invited the attention of the House fairly to the real state of those estimates. The report was drawn up on the principle of the speeches made by the hon. gentlemen opposite, who had uniformly defended the proposed estimates by reference, not to former peace establishments, but to a war expenditure, as if ministers had any merit in reducing the military establishment, after a war the 539 most extensive that this country had ever experienced. If we compared the present estimates with the establishment in 1792, the difference would be found most appalling; but it would become still more remarkable, if in the comparison the financial state of the country at the respective periods were likewise considered. The committee of finance had referred to several reductions that had taken place in the army, and had likewise employed much of their valuable time in regulating the hours of attendance by the clerks in the several offices; but it was surprising that they did not enter into the consideration of some more important points, and endeavour to apprize the House of the real state of the finances of the country. With regard to the troops in France, the committee had stated that they had been no charge to this country; this statement he could not reconcile with an item of 500,000l. in the commissariat department, appropriated to the army of France, to make up the difference between the allowances made in that country and the real price of the forage. This charge he wished to have explained. Referring to the Military College, he said he should not enter into the details of the expenses of that establishment, although a charge in the year 1813, of 33,800l., and in the present year of 28,155l. merited consideration. But the expense was not the most serious point; he should rather object to the establishment on the grounds of its novelty in this country, and which by its tendency to distinguish the army from the body of the people, was repugnant to the principles on which the national manners were formed, and on which, the constitution was established. The large number of the proposed estimates was an additional reason for him to desire that they should be voted only for three months. If his amendment should be agreed to, time would be afforded for the finance committee to make its promised report as to the income and expenditure of the country, and upon that report the House would be fully competent to decide whether the proposed amount of the military establishment should be further extended. Such a postponement was the more necessary upon the grounds stated by the noble lord opposite, who had urged upon a former occasion, that nothing was more material to a great country, than that its income should be equal to its ex- 540 penditure—that, indeed, it was impossible for the prosperity of any country to go on, if such an equality were not established. But in his (Mr. G.'s) judgment, no degree of danger to be apprehended by the colonies, or by the Crown itself, could bear any proportion to that too likely to result to Great Britain (without referring to the experience of other countries), from such an equality as the noble lord professed to deprecate. Upon these grounds he would move, as an amendment, to insert "September" instead of December, in the motion before the House.
in reply to the observation of the hon. and learned gentleman, that the examination or decision of the army estimates should not devolve upon any committee, called to the recollection of the House, that the first object referred to the consideration of the committee alluded to was, the amount of our military establishment; and he was not aware that that committee had, in any degree, arrogated the power of deciding for or dictating to the House upon this subject. Its only object, indeed was, to inquire into details; and he submitted that such inquiry by any committee was by far the more convenient and satisfactory course for the House itself. Indeed, if he recollected rightly, such was the observation of the hon. and learned gentleman himself upon another occasion. But it must be obvious, that accurate information as to details was more likely to be obtained from the report of any committee, than from any conversations in that House upon such points, and this he thought was to be concluded even from the report to which the hon. and learned gentleman had referred. Those details, with some observations naturally arising out of them, were all the finance committee had undertaken to lay before the House. It did not assume to suggest what should be the amount of our numerical force: it left that to the consideration of the House itself, and therefore it did not on this point attempt to interfere with that degree of ministerial responsibility to which the hon. and learned gentleman referred. He agreed fully with the hon. and learned gentleman as to the propriety of bearing in mind the military establishment of 1792, and the hon. and learned gentleman would see a recommendation upon the subject of that precedent in the report before the House. There might be, and he hoped there would be soon, such a change in our internal 541 condition, and in the circumstances of our foreign relations, as to warrant a recurrence to that precedent, but for the present he could not feel the propriety of acceding to the hon. and learned gentleman's proposition, particularly in making any reduction in the proposed estimates. He was inclined to agree to the estimates for the present year, not pledging himself as to the future. Ministers did not present the present estimates as a system of permanent establishment. He was sorry to hear observations made about trifling details. The hours of the clerks attendance was not so trifling a consideration, when it was considered what an excessive number were employed. The public had a right without imposing any unreasonable degree of labour, to be served as well as other establishments. The committee thought, that in some offices the atendance was not long enough. By a closer attendance, business which now took up seven years might be got through in six. This would be both an expedition of business, and a saving of expense. Great savings, he believed, must consist in numerous reductions; and he confessed he had seen more done this year by government than he expected. He hoped they would do still more. As for waiting for a full report on the income and expenditure of the country, one of the earliest things, after appointing the committee, was the referring to them the estimates, which called their attention to them as a matter of course. A conjectural estimate of income and expenditure for the current year must take up much time and attention. He would say to the hon. and learned gentleman, and to all, that considering the financial resources of the country to be embarrassed, and the distress to be great, he thought whatever was not essential ought to be saved: and if the hon. and learned gentleman could lay his hand upon any item that could be safely reduced, and bring it to a division he promised him his vote; but as to the objection stated, he thought the proposed plan of ascertaining the income previously to voting the estimates—first, inconvenient, inasmuch as it would delay the estimates too long; and, secondly, unnecessary, for the net revenue down to the 5th of April last was most accurately given. From the accounts already laid before the House, the hon. and learned gentleman could readily ascertain what our income for the last year had been. As to the income of the present year, it was not the object of the 542 committee to form conjectures upon that subject; the committee, he hoped, would be able soon to lay before the House what belonged to their province; but a conjectural estimate could not be satisfactory. There were some farther reductions which he had proposed in the committee, and which he still thought should be made. They were connected with what was called the public departments. There was, first, money given for extra labour. This labour was no other than making up the estimates, and the money given for it, he thought, ought to be disallowed. There was a second redaction that ought to be made of the allowances to advanced clerks. He mentioned this, as he had no doubt but they should yet hear a great deal about it. This ought to be discontinued: if not they would afterwards hear of compensation, and vested interest equal to any freehold, as in the case of perquisites abolished in Ireland by the union. If such unnecessary expenses were not discontinued, how could they propose retrenchments in a higher degree? He knew not what the hon. and learned gentleman proposed by his motion, unless he meant to effect a permanent reduction of the estimates. The great resources of the government were known to consist in borrowing, and he did not perceive how the delay proposed could bear upon the system of borrowing.
§ Mr. Calcraft
said, he could scarcely believe his own ears, and felt much inclined to doubt whether it could be the member for Corfe Castle who had made such a speech, and who had just sat down. Could it be he who valued consistency more than any other man? Could he have forgotten the discussion on the army estimates last year? Could he have forgotten his own proposition? Did he now end by declaring himself a friend to the very large establishment proposed by ministers. Could he, who professed the most unwearied zeal for economy, end by attacking some petty allowances to clerks. Last year the hon. gentleman was for the most extravagant economy; this year he supported the estimates of his majesty's ministers. Even he (Mr. Calcraft), though a strenuous friend to retrenchment, thought his retrenchments too extensive. Now, the hon. gentleman was surprised at the exertions of his majesty's ministers. Last year he had himself moved, that 33,000 men should be reduced; now the whole amount of his savings did not exceed 1,200l. or 1,500l, or, at the utmost, a cou- 543 ple of thousands! The hon. gentleman; was therefore bound to state why the establishments which he had moved to be abolished last year, were necessary this year. The hon. gentleman had charged his learned friend with inconsistency, because he had remarked upon the committee's conduct in not stating the number necessary. It depended entirely on the discretion of the committee to have done this, for they were invited to do that among other purposes of their appointment. In not entering into numbers the committee had acted properly; he was not then a member of the committee, and was therefore entitled to say that they had acted discreetly. The hon. gentleman felt sore that his learned friend had made any remarks upon the report. Did the hon. gentleman expect that the report could pass without canvass? His learned friend had said nothing more than he was justified in saying. He, too, would say, that the committee did give the best colouring to the reductions that had been made, and had thus lent themselves to the purposes of ministers. His learned friend had proposed that the committee should state the income of the year. The hon. gentleman thought this unreasonable; yet he immediately added, that statements to this effect were already before the House. If so, why was the subject referred to a committee? Why was not the report made before this?—In consequence of no answer having been given to his questions last night, he should think it his duty to propose a reduction of the force. What was the reduction really made? Last year there were 119,000 men. There were now demanded 123,000 men, exclusive of officers. The reduction was thus: 26,000 men; in money, about 1,800,000l. The hon. gentleman had promised his vote if any part of this force could be shown to be unnecessary; he would therefore undertake to show that there were more men in these estimates than were necessary. He would drop the term rank and file, as technical and professional: besides, the number of officers was of the utmost importance in calculating the expenses of our army. The number of men, therefore, was 140,000. The noble lord opposite, and the noble secretary at war, had said much of the difficulty of keeping the forces effective; he would assert that all our establishments were more than complete. Up to the 25th of March last there were 111,262 men: or, including officers, 544 upwards of 160,000 men. It was the business of gentlemen on the other side to show that this force was necessary. He would restate, that in 1792 the whole force for Great Britain, old colonies, and Ireland, was 44,000 men. The force now was 85,976 men. The 12,600 men for the new colonies, and the 25,000 men in France, he left out. In his opinion, 10,000 men, rank and file, might be spared of this number. But a year had passed since the hon. gentleman had proposed a much larger reduction. A larger reduction, he believed, might be effected; but as it might be argued, that a greater reduction might be attended with inconvenience, he would propose only 10,000. This proposition was most moderate, and still allowed 30,000 more than the peace establishment of 1792. In 1792, the whole peace establishment was 6,200,000l., so that the army estimates alone of the present year exceeded by 400,000l. the whole expenses of the state 25 years ago. He contended, that the force was still infinitely too large. Never was the country in a state of greater security. Never was the peace of Europe placed on a firmer foundation. We had an army in France, together with the forces of our allies. We held the peace of that country in our own hands. The natural consequences should be, a reduction of our military establishments, an economical attention to our resources, and steady application of relief to every difficulty and distress in the country: so as to establish our prosperity in peace, or to be prepared for unavoidable war. Economy in peace, he would maintain, was the best preparation for war. The internal difficulties of the country had a great effect on the minds of many. He did not yield to this so much as many of his friends; yet he admitted there was a spirit abroad that required attention; but military force, although grounds of alarm did exist (or rather had existed, for they were now removed), was surely not the best security. The conduct of the people of this country in difficulty, privation, and distress, was unexampled for patience and submission. It was a pity, therefore, even on this account, if there were no other consideration, that their burthens should not be reduced. It was admitted by all, that taxation had a considerable share in producing the present distress. Could it be otherwise? We could neither eat, drink, walk, move, live, nor die without being loaded with taxes. When he bad. 545 the honour of proposing the repeal of a salt tax, the grievous pressure of taxation was admitted, for never did the chancellor of the exchequer appear so gravelled as on that occasion. Yet those great, those expensive estimates, were now supported by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes) in the face of the spirit of his former proposal, and even in the face of what he did say on the present occasion. He would therefore move, when his learned friend's amendment was disposed of, to reduce 10,000, men of the proposed force.
observed, that when the hon. gentleman on the floor (Mr. Bankes) arraigned the conduct of his majesty's ministers, his opinion was hailed with acclamation by the gentlemen opposite; but, when that hon. member declared that government appeared to be right, and that those gentlemen were wrong, then his opinion constantly went for nothing. Another course of proceeding pursued by gentlemen opposite was, when ministers proposed a committee on matters of this kind, to run that committee down. It was to be hunted as proper game, and to be killed as soon as possible. The hon. and learned gentleman opposite (Mr. J. P. Grant) last session objected to the discussion of the army estimates any where but in a committee and now, that a committee had been granted, nothing they did appeared to satisfy him. The hon. member who spoke last, stated, that he would convince the House that the estimates were too large; but he had not entered into any detail. He came at once to this result, that a reduction of 10,000 men ought to take place; but he did not point out where the force proposed to be employed was too numerous, nor did he state, how the troops remaining after this deduction were to be divided amongst the various branches of the service. The hon. gentleman asked, how 85,000 men could now be necessary, when, in 1792, only 44,000 troops were called for? The comparison between the two periods was not a just one, particularly as he had included the force employed in India, in his calculation, a force, it should be remarked, that was not paid by the public. When he compared the force now in India with that of 1792, it would be found to exist in the ratio of 17 to 9, which accounted for a considerable number of additional troops. In Ireland, the force was now 22,000 men, instead of about 12,000, which it was in 546 1792. Why, it was asked, was this addition necessary? An hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Brougham), who delivered his sentiments last night, spoke vehemently against him and others, who voted for the Catholic Question, because they also felt the propriety of keeping up a considerable force in Ireland. "Why," said he, "should you call for so large a force, when the measure supported by yourselves, would ensure the tranquillity of Ireland?" [Mr. Brougham, across the table— "I said no such thing."] —If the hon. and learned gentleman did not mean this, he knew not how his argument bore on the state of Ireland. He (Mr. Robinson) voted for that question, because he thought it would tend to tranquillize that country; but he was not so sanguine as to imagine that it would produce a miracle—that it would insure peace and tranquillity in a moment. And, therefore, he argued, that the notorious situation of Ireland called for this accession of force. There were thus 18,000 men accounted for. With respect to the 26,000 men voted for Great Britain, it was distinctly explained, both last year and this, that the mode in which the army was now constituted, and the manner in which the forces abroad were relieved, rendered it necessary to have an increased body of men at home. This accounted for an encreased force of at least 3,000 men in England. This reduced the number employed here to 23,000 men; and he would ask hon. gentlemen, whether the situation of England, at the present moment, would warrant a reduction of the military force to the lowest imaginable scale? He had thus disposed of a considerable part of the forces now called for, compared with those voted in 1792; and, if they took the items applicable to the colonies, the difference was so trifling, that it was scarcely worth notice. There might he an increase of 2 or 300 men at Gibraltar, beyond the number there in 1792. But it should be recollected, that Gibraltar was a fortress, the works of which had been greatly extended since 1792, and consequently an additional force was necessary to meet that enlargement. There was a small addition to the troops stationed in New South Wales. In 1792, there were 2 or 300 soldiers there; which number it was now proposed to increase to 820. That surely could not be considered too great an increase, when it was recollected that the popula- 547 tion was four or five times as large as it was in 1792, and that it was composed principally of persons, whose habits of life did not lead them willingly to submit to control. In the leeward Islands, too, a a small accession of force he conceived to be necessary. There was something in the situation of those colonies that placed them on a less firm footing, than many other of their foreign possessions. He meant not to impugn the policy of those who supported the abolition of the slave trade) the first vote he ever gave in that House being in favor of the measure of abolition), but he could not shut his eyes against the existence of a black empire in the West Indies, which, in his opinion, placed the black population of the different colonies in a situation very distinguishable from that of 1792. The contiguity of Nova Scotia and Canada to the United States was a sufficient justification for an increase, of force on those stations. With respect to Upper Canada, he could hot consider it as an old province. In 1792, there were few settlers there, and, therefore, a company of men was almost force sufficient, t was then a province marked by forests and lakes—it was now a province, daily increasing in wealth and population, and, of course, required an additional force. These arguments were used last year, and appeared to be satisfactory, and he could see no reason why they should not be satisfactory now.
§ Sir W. Burroughs
said, that, after one year and eleven months of profound peace, ministers came forward with an estimate of] military force unexampled in this country even in war, till the last French war; certainly unexampled in any former period of peace. There was every prospect of a long peace. What, then, could we dread, or what danger could justify so large a force? It must be our internal situation, if any pretence could be offered. In this view, a comparison with the establishment of 1792 would show the extravagance of our present estimates. At that time we had to form our preparations for meeting a powerful foreign enemy, and opposing the diffusion of French principles: but even in that year, the force voted was very small when compared with the estimates for this. The whole force then for Great Britain, and her foreign possessions, was only 42,215 men; whereas the present vote was required for 92,600 men, exclusive of the 548 troops for France and India. On what grounds could this be defended? Could it be proved that Ireland now required thrice the amount of force to aid her police that she did in a period of internal discontent, and external alarm? He would oppose these estimates as unnecessary and uncalled for. He would concur in the motion of the hon. gentleman for a reduction of 10,000 men, which, according to the data on which the estimates were formed, would effect a saving of 400,000l., a sum by no means to be disregarded in the present state of our finances. It had been asked, in what part the reduction of force was recommended to be effected. To this he would answer, that it ought to be distributed over the whole of our army, wherever stationed, in proportion as the public service would allow a reduction.
§ Mr. George Grant
dissented from the opinion of his noble friend the secretary at war, on other grounds than those stated by the hon. gentlemen opposite. He believed that the force proposed in the estimates was rather too small than too great. When he delivered this opinion he should be understood as alluding particularly to the numerical amount proposed for our colonial establishments. An hon. and gallant general (Walpole) had last night stated, that, in 1792, Jamaica was protected with a force only of 1,200 men, and that that was sufficient for the security of that valuable colony. The hon. gentleman might have remembered that, when he himself was there in 1795, there was a force of 5,000 in that colony, and that an army of this amount was unable, for some time, to make any impression on the insurgents, whose rebellion then endangered the island. As great a force was now necessary as at any former period, if not greater. The black population of these colonies was now in a different state than formerly. A force of 3,200 men was now inadequate for Jamaica, even although the negroes were disposed to obedience, and manifested no symptoms of discontent. To keep a body of men such as they were in due subordination, and to give security to the planters, their masters, an imposing military attitude was more than ever necessary. He would not enter into details (though with regard to Jamaica he was enabled to do so); but he thought he should lay sufficient grounds for a considerable force, when he stated, that the British capital in Jamaica that required 549 protection amounted to 60 millions storing. The quantity of sugar exported in 1816 amounted to 98,000 hogsheads, and paid a duty of 2,000,000l., employing 21,000 tons of shipping, and 5,000 seamen. The manufactures exported to the West-Indies in the same period amounted in value to 3,000,000l. The distressed manufacturers of this country, therefore, were relieved to that amount by the consumption of the articles of their manufacture; and though they felt the pressure of taxes to maintain our establishments, if they knew their real interests, they would be the last to propose such a reduction of force as would endanger such a market for the produce of their labour. He could not help remarking, that the people of this country were not sufficiently aware of the advantages they derived from their foreign possessions; and that colonial subjects, when they were incidentally mentioned, made too slight an impression on either side of the House. The more their value was considered, however, the more important it would appear. Great Britain had increased in prosperity, and had attained her envied political pre-eminence by the trade and resources of her colonies; and so necessary were they to maintain her in her present elevation, that he would hazard an opinion that her power and glory would not long survive their loss. From an account which had been laid on his table a few days ago, it appeared that the duties on sugar and rum alone amounted to within half a million of the ordinary charge of the whole army. Colonies that contributed so much to the wealth and resources of the mother country deserved from her the most ample protection. [Hear, hear!].
§ Lord Milton
was not surprised at the warmth of the hon. gentleman, who came to the House with a greater bias to local interests, perhaps, than a general view of the empire would have given or warranted; and who naturally conceived, when measures of general good interfered with particular local arrangements, that government were negligent of their duty. He (Lord M.) looked more at general than local interests, and believed that government ought not to be swayed too much by the suggestions of individuals, who took only a partial view of matters. With regard to the subject before the House, he could not help remarking, that our force were every where increased; and a strange reason was given for the increase 550 in some of our garrisons—as in Gibraltar; where, because the works had been rendered impregnable, we had thought it necessary to multiply their defenders. He called upon ministers to explain the necessity of this increase. To come to particulars, why was such a force to be kept up in England? Were our dangers now greater than in 1793?—If so, what had we been fighting for? We had been fighting gloriously, and as he thought wisely, but what had become of the fruits of our victories? Were our successes gained only to entail on us war establishments after they had led to peace: and not to enable us to reduce our burthens by affording us security? If the present period was fraught with more danger than 1792, and if on that ground double the force was to be maintained, he despaired of ever seeing the country enjoy a period of security, or returning to diminished taxation and peaceful habits. An hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes), who surely now thought that we were not in that intermediate state so much talked of last year appeared disposed to support establishments now which he formerly opposed. Every one was allowed to form an opinion, and he could not help expressing his on the present occasion: which was, that the hon. gentleman opposed the proposed motion for reduction because it had not originated with himself. He was, perhaps, doing him an injustice, when he stated this opinion, as his conduct might admit of another explanation. Naturalists had amused themselves with measuring the magnitude of objects which the optics of different animals could embrace, from observations on the size of their eyes. Some could see only a small extent around them, but within that range enjoyed a microscopic vision. The hon. gentleman seemed to enjoy this species of vision. His microscopic economy could discover small extravagancies, and point out insignificant savings with wonderful precision, but he could not see large objects, or take in great reductions. If he were to measure his objects in this way, he would allow him the power of seeing comprehensively the necessity for reducing the sixth part of a clerkship, but he could not discover the reason for reducing 10,000 men. In the committee's report there was a complaint that the clerks received extra fees for drawing up the estimates. This charge the hon. gentleman recommended the abolition of; and in doing so, he thought he had gone far enough, and en- 551 titled himself to support an unnecessary, establishment of 10,000 soldiers. Such a reduction would do more good than the chancellor of the exchequer's issue of bills for the relief of the poor. The noble lord objected to the estimates from the increase which the magnitude of the force would give to the influence of the Crown. The younger branches of almost all great families would be induced to select the army as their profession, and to look on its emoluments as their provision; and the character of the country would thus be changed He pressed on government therefore to reconsider the estimates. It became the House to assist ministers in this duty, and to support them against the influence that was exerted elsewhere. He believed they would rejoice to reduce them if they could. He believed the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer, would be glad to find that he would have, amidst his financial difficulties, diminished services to provide for. Adverting to the state of Ireland, the noble lord said, that it had of late been too much the custom to draw a veil over it. This might be prudent in the administration, as the calamities of that country had arisen from misgovernment. Why was, then, such an army to be kept up there?—because discontent and turbulence prevailed. And why did this feeling prevail?—because government had not done its duty. Wherever uneasy feelings long existed in a country, they were to be traced to mal-administration. The government had much to answer to Ireland for their conduct, if, being convinced, as some members of the cabinet professed themselves to be, that certain measures alone could save that part of the empire, and ensure its tranquillity, they neglected to carry these measures into effect, and compromised their, conscience and the safety of their country for their own interests or places. A right hon. gentleman (Mr. Canning) had said, that whatever other measures were necessary to promote the quietness and welfare of Ireland, there was one point indispensable, and with that we ought to commence: and yet, though this was the opinion of the right hon. gentleman, and his noble friend (lord Castlereagh), they did nothing in consequence to show their zeal and honest endeavours but make speeches, the value of which the House could easily appreciate. With all their professions, speeches, and votes, more had been done to show the temper of go- 552 vernment, and to strengthen the cause of the opponents of Catholic emancipation, by the last appointment to the bench of bishops,* than these two members of the cabinet had done by all their exertions. Ireland would see into their conduct, and comprehend their flimsy device, in offering themselves as her advocates. For Great Britain, he saw no reason for so large a force; the good spirit of the country was a sufficient guarantee of its tranquillity; and if any force was required, the yeomanry proceeding from the people, and therefore not objects of distrust and jealousy like regular troops, would be found effective for all the purposes of ensuring obedience to the magistrates, and affording assistance to the police. He would, therefore, vote for the amendment of his hon. friend, for the reduction of 10,000 men, in preference to the motion of a learned gentleman for postponing the estimates for three months, till the state of our finances was known. He did so because he would not allow it to be supposed that we would maintain one man more than was necessary, though we were able to do it without pressure.
said, he had stated last year that 25,000 men would be necessary for Ireland. He thought the same necessity for the same force existed this year; and he had not heard one opinion against this position, or saying the estimate was too high. His attention had been turned to the subject of effecting every reduction; and he could assure the House, that he should find it more difficult to state why he recommended a reduction of 3,000, than why he still thought that 22,000 men should be maintained. He protested against the practice of taking the year 1792 as a criterion for establishments of every other period of peace. If he required so many troops to aid the police, or to preserve the peace of the country, it would be no answer to him that there were just so many and no more twenty-five years ago, and that they were then sufficient. The force in Ireland did not much exceed, in proportion to the force in England, its amount in 1792. After the peace of Amiens, the army in that country was 22,000 men, employed only in preserving tranquillity. For seven years after that period, including the years 1806* The noble lord alluded to the elevation of Dr. Herbert Marsh to the bishoprick of Llandaff.553 and 1807, it did not amount to less than 81,000 men, exclusive of the militia. He knew that this was a time of war; but the military power was in a great degree applied to the maintenance of the public peace. In the last year but one, the entire number of troops in Ireland was 40,000, it was now proposed to keep up only 22,000, making a reduction of nearly one half in less than two years. An hon. gentleman bad declared, that be would not vote for one man, the necessity of whose services was not distinctly proved: but a proof of this kind was not practicable: it was not a question of science or mathematics, nor capable of a positive demonstration. He could, however, afford him the advantage of the highest military authority, which was in favour of a larger force than that now proposed to be maintained. The noble lord who had so heavily censured his majesty's government, on the ground of these estimates, might be assured that at every period of the last century a considerable force had been deemed necessary in Ireland. He had traced its amount from the commencement of that period, and had found that, except during the American war, when it was reduced by the supplies to our army abroad, it had never been so low as in the year 1792. In 1715 it was 11,000 men, and remained at this number till the year 1747. In the year 1764, the Irish House of Commons voted an address, expressing their jealousy of the large reductions which had taken place; and a message was sent down by lord Townsend, which contained a promise, that the army should be maintained at the amount of 12,000 men in future, to which an addition of 3,000 men was subsequently made; and so the establishment continued till the year 1792.—With respect to the argument, that if the Catholic question were carried, farther reductions might be safe and practicable, he could not assent to any such opinion. It was not true that this force was required for the purpose of keeping the Catholics of Ireland in subjection. It was necessary for the protection of the Catholics themselves, for the preservation of tranquillity, for the maintenance of public justice, and the defence of the lives of many persons who had become objects of vengeance, only by appearing as witnesses against criminals. He had heard it contended, that this state of things was the consequence of ages of mis-government; but he would ask, whether any recent change of policy 554 would have justified an immediate alteration in the proposed vote? It would be his duty, very shortly, to submit a measure to the House, that would afford him the opportunity of stating on what grounds he was prepared to argue that it could have produced no such effect. The measure in contemplation would have reference to a transaction which lately occurred in the county of Down; and its object would be, not the dragooning the people, but the security of innocent and brave men against the most flagitious combinations. Let the House imagine the case of a man, whose house had been attacked only because he appealed to the laws of his country; that he had made a gallant defence, and succeeded in repelling the aggressors. Let them suppose him to decline abandoning his residence, and having obtained arms, relying on his own courage and the assistance of a relative, in the event of a recurrence of the danger; but these precautions they would have to learn were vain; that a Roman Catholic combination, of about forty, invaded his dwelling, surrounded it with combustibles, and doomed him, his son, and six inmates, to death in the flames. This, he admitted, was the most atrocious of the crimes he had yet heard of, but it was one the recollection of which must fill every heart with horror. Whilst he thus endeavoured to show the necessity of a large military force, he never meant to contend that military force alone was the proper means of governing that country. Penal laws, likewise, might check, but could not eradicate the evil. He should ever be willing to lend his aid in revising and improving the system of the administration. It must be obvious that he could have no interest in swelling the amount of the estimates, for the civil government of Ireland had no share of the military patronage. Let the House look at the present staff, and they would find it much less than when the force was of twice the amount. He might be taunted with the suggestion that this had little to do with the immediate question; but it at least showed that the imputation which had been thrown out against his majesty's government, of being anxious on all occasions to extend the influence of the Crown, was unjust; and he only referred to it as a strong proof that they had, on the contrary, done all in their power to reduce every part of the estimates.
said, he was always disposed to attend to the observations of the 555 right hon. gentleman; but his speech that night was one to which he could not help listening with some degree of circumspection. On questions affecting the interests of Ireland he believed him to be as perhaps he deserved to be, by far the most influential member in that House. When the right hon. gentleman, last session, defended an establishment of 25,000 men for that country, he regretted the long and manifold misgovernment under which it had laboured, and expressed a hope that his own administration would not be the means of aggravating its calamities. The right hon. gentleman had this night addressed his speech, he knew not to what, but certainly not to any facts or arguments stated on his side of the House; for he did not believe one hon. member had advised any immediate reduction in the Irish establishment. The hon. gentleman on the floor (Mr. Bankes) had approved of the labours of the committee as far as they had gone; but why had they limited their inquiries and recommendations to the discharge of a few clerks, instead of examining staff appointments and public departments? The country was now enjoying a profound peace; and yet an establishment was proposed twice as large as that maintained in 1792, when there was no yeomanry force whatever. Why was this necessary? It could hardly be from any external danger that threatened us. Of France we had military possession; Spain was in a miserable state, governed by a miserable sovereign, incapable of a single effort, and engaged in a contest with her dependencies. The powers in the north of Europe were bound to us in the strictest alliance. We had not a single enemy, nor any reason for expecting the renewal of hostilities.—He asked the House, to reflect also on our naval strength and pre-eminence, as a farther security against foreign danger. It was at present equal to the combined naval power of Europe. But then he was told of the internal state of England, and that a spirit was abroad that threatened the stability of the constitution. He disbelieved the existence of any such dangerous or turbulent spirit to the degree apprehended. Distress might have driven some, in particular districts, to fall into the desperate counsels of a few mischievous individuals; but the utmost effort of their strength had been the disturbance in Spafields, and he could not think that a sufficient ground for doubling our peace establishment, in addition to 20,000 yeomanry. 556 With regard to Ireland, he must again say, that he would not be responsible for advising a large reduction there at the present moment; but he believed that as long as the present system of policy was pursued, it never would be safe to lessen the establishment. If, therefore, the House was determined to maintain the system, they must have the pleasure of paying for it. The fundamental objection to these estimates was one which proceeded from a regard once generally cherished in that House—he meant a regard for the liberties of the country. Ireland had been said to be habituated to a military; whenever England became so habituated, and learned to abandon her ancient maxim of cultivating her naval resources as her best defence, her public liberty would no longer be secure. Why was the military college maintained in time of peace? It cost but 30,000l., but it was a pernicious institution. He would appeal to the duke of Wellington, whether it was of use either in promoting discipline or military skill. The naval asylum had met with a different treatment; that, as belonging to a less favoured service, had been subjected to the inquiries of a committee. If the House should think proper to countenance these novel principles, the responsibility was on them; but he believed that there were few who would not live to repent of the sanction they had afforded them. He would raise his humble voice against them, as not less pregnant with danger to the liberties than to the political security of the country. One hon. gentleman had appeared to think, that some in that House cared little or nothing for the colonies, and had told them a great deal about the value of Jamaica. It was, however, rather an odd proof of its importance to our resources, that the customs on its produce amounted to 3,000,000l. He was aware that, its rums and sugars were very useful commodities, but it was the consumers in the mother country, and not the people of Jamaica, who paid the duties. But it was curious to observe, that wherever they cast their eyes a fund of discontent was said to exist, the danger of which was represented as an incontrovertible argument for a large military establishment. In England it was a bad spirit; in Ireland it was a similar cause; and in the colonics it was the black population. He did not put faith in these representations: Ireland might certainly be in more desirable circumstances, but the colonies were secure 557 under proper management. He should give his support to the motion of his hon. friend (Mr. Calcraft) rather than to that of the hon. and learned gentleman, because to vote the whole establishment, for however short a time, might be construed into an admission than it was necessary.
§ Sir. F. Flood
should not have thought this large establishment necessary for Ireland, had it not been for the irritating vote of Friday night. He hoped, however, that the Irish would continue to show the same patience and peaceable demeanour with which they had hitherto borne all their privations. The House should recollect how quiet Ireland had remained whilst mischievous demagogues were instigating the populace here to outrages and disturbances. Under these circumstances he did not think they deserved the stigma which the late vote had thrown upon them; for no country could always be well disposed, which was deprived of the benefit of the laws.
§ Mr. J. P. Grant
said, that if the House would permit him he would save them the trouble of dividing, by withdrawing his motion, in order that his hon. friend might have an opportunity of making the motion for a reduction of the number of the forces of which he had given notice.
Leave was given to withdraw the motion; but the Speaker observed, that a motion for the reduction in the amount of the force could not now be regularly put, as that part of the report had been agreed to.
§ Mr. Calcraft
said, he would then propose the recommitment of the report, with the view of making a motion of reduction. With respect to the forces in Ireland and India, he should not, after what he had heard, persist in proposing any reduction. Under the circumstances in which Ireland was now placed, he was sorry to say that he did not consider 12,000 men too much for that country, and he could not propose any diminution in the number of 8,000 for India: but there still remained 20,000, from which reductions might be made, and he thought it would be a wise policy to deduct 10,000 from that number: 3,000 men had been mentioned by the noble secretary as requisite for reliefs, but that number he thought quite unnecessary. He then moved that the report be recommitted.
§ Lord Ebrington
could not help noticing the great inconsistency between the arguments which had been used that night, 558 and those recently advanced, respecting Ireland. It would be recollected, that when the noble secretary of state moved the suspension of the Habeas Corpus act, he expressly excepted Ireland from its' operation, on the ground, that that country was in a state of tranquillity. After that declaration, the House must have heard with great surprise, the state of Ireland assigned that night as requiring coercive measures. With regard to Great Britain, those who had referred to the year 1792 as affording an example of the amount of military force necessary, had been answered, that the state of the country was now very different. His opinion, however, was, that a difference was not in the people, but in the ministers of the Crown, who had, during the present session, shown such a disposition to curtail the constitutional rights of the subject, and to establish arbitrary measures, which were totally uncalled for.
said, that what he had stated with regard to the situation of Ireland was this—that he saw no reason for applying there the measures which were necessary in this country: but in making that statement, he distinguished between that system of organization which unhappily prevailed here, and that derangement of the public peace in Ireland which rendered it necessary to distribute the military force over the whole country. He certainly had never thrown out any idea that a diminution of the force in Ireland was practicable. Having said this much on that point, he must now beg leave to remind the House, that though they were to proceed to decide on a motion for recommitting the report, that question was brought forward for the purpose of letting in one respecting numbers. The hon. gentleman who proposed to bring forward this question, had, however admitted that no reduction could be made in Ireland or in India. It must tall, then, on the colonies or Great Britain; but the hon. gentleman had not pointed out any colonies in which he thought reductions could be made. Did he conceive it possible, that the whole force in Great Britain could be reduced to the extent of 10,000 men? Tin's surely could not be suggested; and yet there was no other quarter to which his scheme of reduction could be applied; for if he could point out colonies in which reductions might be made, it was obvious that the troops could not be brought home within the time to which the resolution 559 which had been voted extended. He was confident that when the alterations were considered, which had taken place since 1792, with respect to the increase of the fortresses of the country, the size of the metropolis, the guards of the country, and the troops employed in the collection of the revenue, that the number of troops for Great Britain could not be reduced. At any rate this must be obvious to every one, that the hon. gentleman could not take 10,000 men from the force employed in Great Britain, and leave enough for the ordinary duties of the home service.
§ Mr. D. Browne
was of opinion, the force proposed to be kept up in Ireland was not greater than the circumstances of the country required.
§ The House divided on Mr. Calfraft's motion: Yeas, 56; Noes, 144.
|List of the Minority.|
|Abercrombie, hon. J.||Milton, visc.|
|Althorp, viscount||Newport, sir John|
|Atherley, Arthur||North, D.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Nugent, Lord|
|Burroughs, sir Wm.||Newman, R. W.|
|Barnett, James||Osborne, lord F.|
|Brougham, Henry||Ossulston lord|
|Calvert, Charles||Parnell, sir H.|
|Campbell, gen. D.||Ponsonby, rt. hon. G.|
|Carew, R. S.||Plunkett, rt. hon. W.|
|Carter, John||Powlett, hon. W.|
|Caulfield, hon. H.||Prittie, hon. F. A.|
|Duncannon, visc.||Ramsden, J. C.|
|Douglas, hon. F. S.||Russell, lord Wm.|
|Fazakerly, Nic.||Russell, R. G.|
|Fergusson, sir R. C.||Sefton, earl of|
|Fitzroy, lord John||Smith, Wm.|
|Gordon, Robert||Spiers, Arch.|
|Grant, J. P.||Tavistock, Marquis|
|Grenfell, Pascoe||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Guise, sir Wm.||Walpole, hon. G.|
|Hamilton, lord A.||Waldegrave, hon. W.|
|Heron, sir R.||Warre, J. A.|
|Hornby, E.||Webb, E.|
|Jervoise, J. P.||Wilkins, Walter|
|Latouche, R. jun,||Calcraft, John|
|Lamb, hon. W.||Ebrington, visc.|
|Lemon, sir Wm.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Lloyd, J. M.||Mackintosh, sir J.|
|Lyttelton, hon. W. H.|