§ The House having resolved itself a in Committee of Supply to which the Ordnance Estimates were referred,
§ Mr. R. Ward
said, he would detain the House but a very few minutes in introducing the Ordnance Estimates. A variety of regulations and retrenchments had taken place within the last year in the department of the master-general, and there was only a single addition in one particular branch. The general outline of the establishment for the current year, as compared with the peace establishment of 1788, presented only an augmentation of 47000l., which, considering the extended nature of the present service, was an extremely small addition, and at once showed the pains that had been taken to make every possible reduction. He would reserve any explanations that might be necessary till they should be called for, as the estimates were read. He concluded by moving, "That a sum not exceeding 596,469l. 1s. 8d. be granted to his majesty, in full, for the charge of the Office of Ordnance for Land Service in Great Britain for the year 1818."
wished to say a few words in behalf of a class of officers whom he could not but consider very hardly treated. He meant those of the drivers' corps. After very long service they had been put upon half pay, without any chance of being ever again called upon to act. There was a captain Humphries, who had served for three and twenty years in a most meritorious way, and in different parts of the world. After all this he was reduced to 6s. 8d. a day, while officers, not of three years standing, retired upon the full pay. There was this difference between the officers of the drivers' corps and others, that the former could not be restored to full pay by the commander in chief. The same observation might be made with respect to the Irish artillery. The officers of one of the Irish artillery corps had, after a long service, been dis- 1281 missed upon half pay, while those of another corps had their choice either to continue in the army or to retire upon full pay. He hoped something would be done, were it even in liberality, to ameliorate the condition of the gentlemen to whom he alluded.
§ Mr. Benson
concurred in the sentiments expressed by his hon. friend. It was too hard that gentlemen who had served so long should be obliged to retire upon half pay, without any chance of being called again into service.
§ Mr. Ward
said, that the corps of artillery drivers had increased during the late war to 7,000 men, who were divided into twelve troops, with twelve captains and other officers. They had deserved well of their country, and distinguished themselves on every occasion, as far as the nature of their service allowed. It was not, therefore, for any fault of theirs that they were reduced, but they had experienced the same fate as the army. Eight troops had been reduced out of the twelve, and put on half pay. When, after the campaign of 1815, a fresh organization of the remaining four troops had taken place, as they were still retained, full pay was given to the officers who retired, and from that arrangement there had been no deviation. If captain Humphries was in those four troops, and did not receive his full pay, then he was not in the situation in which it was intended he should be placed, and he might not only claim his full pay, but its arrears. But if he belonged to the eight troops which had been reduced, then he was not entitled to more than his half pay.
contended, that the case was entirely anomalous. It was hard for a person who had served 22years to retire with 6s. 8d. per day, whilst individuals, in more favoured corps, enjoyed their whole pay. He then instanced an Irish corps which had been reduced at the Union, and the officers of which had their full pay.
§ Mr. Ward
differed in opinion with the hon. gentleman upon this class of officers. There was no intention it was true, of recalling them. There might be a chance of it, but there was no right. They knew this when they entered the service. The ground of his objection, however, to allow them full pay arose from considerations of finance. The case of the Irish artillery, mentioned by the hon. gentleman went against himself. There were two batallions of Irish artillery. The 1282 officers of one were reduced to half-pay before the Union. Another existed at the time of the Union, and the officers of it had an option either to enter the service or to retire on the full pay of the Irish establishment. The proposal of the hon. gentleman, if agreed to in its full extent, would give the officers alluded to 3,000l. a year besides 51,000l. arrears. Could this sum now be conveniently laid out? His objection to it was not personal: it proceeded upon public considerations.
§ Mr. Benson
thought the case of those officers was very hard. They could not get into any other corps, and after a promise had been made, that they should retire upon full pay, was it right to deprive them of it? The officers to whom he alluded were many of them on foreign service at the time of their reduction. He hoped the committee would take their situation into consideration, and make some provision for them, as they suffered much hardship from having been reduced to half pay.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that there were a great number of situations in which ministers were placed, in which it was very difficult and delicate to know how to regulate their conduct. In the present instance, it was a matter of doubt whether the officers in question should be favoured beyond the usual rule of the service. If the case, as had been stated, was one in which a promise had been made, that would, no doubt, be fulfilled: but if the merits and services of the persons concerned were the foundation of their claim, he was sure the noble lord on whom such cases depended for decision would give the matter every consideration that could be given to such affairs. He submitted whether it would not be better to allow the case, after what had been stated, to be considered by the noble lord, and to allow him to decide on it as its merits demanded. It would still be equally open to be brought forward at any future period in the way of address, or in any other way that might appear proper.
§ Mr. Ward
was extremely anxious to do any thing he could on the subject; but with respect to a promise, it was in his opinion impossible that any could have been made, except with regard to the four troops he had mentioned. It was true that they could not return to any other military service; but certainly, no promise had been given to them. If 1283 the reduction was expected, and notified the usual time before it took place, the officers alluded to suffered no more hardship than was suffered by a great number every year.
thought there was no reason why the officers of artillery drivers should not have the advantages of other officer?. They were discharged, and it was said to them "there is an end of you." Their case was an entire anomaly; and unless the hon. gentleman could produce any instance of officers retiring without a chance of returning to service, he had adduced no case in point.
§ The Resolution was then agreed to.