HC Deb 16 May 1820 vol 1 cc432-59
Colonel Davies

rose to direct the attention of the House to a subject at all times of the utmost importance, but. more peculiarly so at the present moment, when the country, labouring under the pressure of severe and accumulated distress, required every assistance which it was in the power of parliament to afford it. He felt that he must throw himself on the indulgence of the House, of which he certainly had need when he undertook the task of bringing under its consideration our existing military establishments, with a view to point out what might require amendment, and to suggest a remedy. He also felt, that in bringing forward this subject at the present time, he should have to encounter disadvantages and difficulties which, when he first turned his thoughts to it, he did not anticipate; for, however general the desire throughout the country might be to see some measure adopted, which should have for its object a retrenchment in the public expenditure, yet the unfortunate events which had lately occurred, had filled the minds of many with so much alarm, that however friendly they might be to the general principle of economy, he should find them at the outset, prejudiced against any proposition which could, by possibility, weaken the powers at the disposal of government. Yet, as his object was inquiry, and he should not presume to ask the House to adopt any definitive measures at his suggestion, he hoped, that all those who were friendly to economy, however much they might differ from him as to the extent of the danger by which we were threatened, would join in assisting to promote an inquiry, which could not possibly be attended with mischief, and might be productive of essential benefit to the country. Every thinking man who looked to the situation of this once flourishing country, and saw the misery which had overtaken every class of the community, must admit that it was high time for those in public situations to come forward, and endeavour to avert the ruin with which it was threatened. Whatever shape the difficulties of the country might assume—whether they appeared in the decline of commerce, of manufactures, of agriculture, or of them all—yet it was impossible to deny that the source of the evil was to be discovered in the disordered state of our finances. The commerce of the country might be affected by the return of peace; and competitors might rise in those markets where we had hitherto reigned unrivalled; the varying caprice of fashion might cause the substitution of one manufacture for another;—but could it be doubted, that, if left to themselves the energies of our merchants and manufacturers would, as soon as one channel of enterprise was closed to them, discover another? It was the enormous load of taxation which hung like a millstone round their necks that prevented them. How could those difficulties be met?—Not by sitting down in despair, but by a determination to surmount them;—by instituting a rigorous inquiry, and by resolving to make a sacrifice of patronage and emolument for the public service. Urged by these considerations, he had directed his attention to our military establishments, as forming the largest item of the public expenditure, to which the most alarming augmentations had been made; and as that which his habits of life made him best qualified to investigate. He had, therefore, devoted much time and labour to the subject; and the more he examined it, the more he became convinced of the necessity of parliamentary interference. But as he was convinced that it would be impossible for him in the course of any debate, to make the House, masters of so intricate a subject; and with which, notwithstanding all the time he had devoted to it, he was still far from being thoroughly acquainted, he thought the only way to enable it to judge for itself, would be the appointment of a select committee of its members, who should examine into all its details, and report their opinions to the House. This was the more necessary, as most probably much of what he would assert, would be met with counter-assertions by the noble lord (Palmerston) opposite. He was aware that various objections might be made to this mode of proceeding; he might, perhaps, be told that the committee of fi- nance had, for some years past, annually taken the military expenditure into their consideration. This subject was, however, of such vast importance as to require the undivided attention of a committee; and without meaning any offence to the finance committee, he must say that but little good had emanated from them. If it were said that the House ought not to interfere, and that the task of retrenchment should be left to the executive government, he would answer, that the persons thus to be intrusted, were not exactly those who would be most likely to carry it into effect. Their interest was connected with the extension, not the diminution of patronage; and it was expecting too much, to suppose that they would seriously undertake the task of abolishing offices which extended their power and influence. If any proof were wanting that ministers were not the persons to whom the task of retrenchment was to be left, it was to be found in their recent appointment, of a governor of Gibraltar. In the whole list of sinecures, there was not one which called more loudly for abolition than this; so much so, that he believed a committee of the House had some years ago, recommended that whenever the then existing interest in it should cease, the office should be abolished. Yet, scarcely was the illustrious person who lately held it, deceased, when, with unprecedented haste, they appointed a successor. The same messenger who carried into the country the intelligence of the death of the duke of Kent, had in his pocket the appointment of the earl of Chatham to succeed him. That noble earl whose military achievements might be summed up in a few words as commander of the memorable expedition to Walcheren [Hear, hear!]. He should therefore conclude what he had to say, with moving, for the appointment of a select committee, to examine into the military expenditure of the country. In order to show that there was occasion for such a committee, and that various reforms and retrenchments might be made, he would take a very concise view of those departments in which he thought such retrenchments would be effectual. He did not mean to say that every thing he advanced would be perfectly correct; mistakes on certain points might arise; but if he inspired a doubt in the minds of the House, if he showed that every establishment was not in its most perfect state possible, then he had made good his case, and was fairly entitled to the inquiry he proposed. The first point to which he would advert was the amount of the military force. On looking at the military establishment of 1787, a year of peace corresponding with the present, he found that the whole army, exclusive of India, and including Ireland, was 42,921 men; in 1820, it was 92,224 in number considerably more than double, in expense quintupled. In the year 1819, the total expense of the army, exclusive of extraordinaries, was 6,582,603l.; for 1820, it was 6,807,535l.; an increase, as compared with last year, of above 200,000l. They were also to recollect that corps to be reduced last year caused an increase of expense of 183,000l., so that the total increase of the present year, as compared with the last, was in fact above 400,000l. Now he should be glad to know what there was in the situation of the country which justified such an expenditure. He might be told that the disturbed state of the country rendered it necessary that there should be an increase of the army. He believed this feeling prevailed with the majority of the House, and therefore he did not mean on this occasion to press on their consideration the numbers of the army. The propositions he meant to offer went not to impair the efficiency of the army. At the same time he must observe, that the causes which called for this increase of force—he meant the distress which had engendered disaffection and discontent, also loudly demanded retrenchment and economy £Hear, hear!]. It must be in the recollection of every gentleman who sat in the last parliament, that the chancellor of the exchequer, when he came down to add 3,000,000l. to the taxes, proposed certain resolutions, one of which went to state, in the strongest terms of which language was capable, "the absolute necessity of having an efficient surplus of income over expenditure, to the amount of 5,000,000l." He should like to know whether any gentleman was prepared to say, there was an overplus. Did not every person know that the new taxes were almost if hot altogether, inefficient? How then were they to carry into effect what parliament had declared to be necessary? How could they produce an effective overplus of income over expenditure? He would answer—by retrenchment, and retrenchment only. He thought that ministers would hardly propose to add any farther taxes to the burthens of the country. What then remained but to adopt, every practicable retrenchment of the public expenses? It was with this view that he brought forward the present motion. Party feeling had nothing to do with it. He fully agreed with his noble friend (lord A. Hamilton) who spoke last night, that these were not times for the indulgence of party feeling—but that every man who could contribute to the service of the country ought to come forward boldly and perform that service. Although he meant not to press upon that House, at this moment, the number of the effective force employed, still his own decided opinion was, that the peace and tranquillity of the country might be maintained without the assistance of so large a standing army. To prove this, let them look to the amount of the military force in Scotland. He believed that no man would deny that disaffection existed there more strongly than in any other part of the kingdoms The discontented were more completely organized, they were more determined, and they were more numerous in proportion to the peaceable inhabitants. Yet the army never amounted there to 3,000 effective men; and with that comparatively small regular force, aided by the inhabitants, who came forward to defend their property and families, the peace of the country, with little exception, had been preserved. He wished the people in the South would act in the same manner. It was because the people of Scotland had come forward as yeomen and volunteers, that so small a regular force had been sufficient. He found that those Who came forward in Scotland amounted to 3,700 yeomanry, and nearly 4,000 volunteers, Now the population of the lowlands of Scotland, those parts in which alone disaffection prevailed, did not much exceed the population of Lancashire, when there were but 554 yeomen, and not a single volunteer. They called out for an addition to the military force, because, unlike the people of Scotland, they would not defend themselves. If the people of England would act as those in Scotland had done, they would soon put an end to all disturbance. He now came to that part of the military expenditure connected with the cavalry. There were 24 regiments of cavalry containing 11,000 men. It was not his wish to reduce the effective force of the cavalry, but there was a superabundance of them, part of whom might be reduced without in any way impairing its efficacy in the field. They were quartered in places where they were not at all necessary. There was, for instance, a regiment at Hounslow. Of what use were they? Formerly, when the king was constantly travelling between London and Windsor, a force of that kind might be necessary for his escort; but it was not now required. What occasion was there for cavalry in Kent and on the coast of Essex? It might be said that they were employed to repress smuggling. But they had nothing to do with that service. There were nearly 2,000 seamen, under naval officers, stationed between Sheerness and Beachy head, expressly for that purpose, and round the whole coast there were guard boats and patroles, whose whole time was occupied in preventing the contraband trade. The same remark might be made with regard to the cavalry on the southern coast. Certainly, then, three regiments of cavalry might be reduced, since they were not required for any specific purpose—and appeared to be as little disposable for putting down disaffection in the North, as if they did not exist. If therefore he were to propose the reduction of effective dragoons equal in amount to three regiments, the proposition would not be unreasonable, but as he had before observed, it was not his intention to suggest the reduction of any part of the effective force of the army. But there were in every regiment 15 dismounted men per troop, or 120 per regiment. Ministers had taken credit for economy in dismounting so many men, but he considered that by doing so they were guilty of great extravagance, as those men were useless, either as cavalry or infantry. He was of opinion that 46 dismounted men might be reduced in every regiment, which would still leave enough for every purpose to which dismounted men could be applied. Again, he would have the second majors reduced—that appointment being unknown prior to the year 1796. By diminishing the number of troops in each regiment from eight to six, the reduction would then comprise the 2nd major, two captains, two lieutenants, two cornets, and forty-six privates. This would produce a very considerable saving; and, at the same time, an ample allowance might be made for pensions and half-pay. He would, in fact, by his plan, allow more for those purposes than the committee of finances of 1799 proposed; he would wish that the reduced officers should have the most ample allowances; but by putting them on half-pay at present there would be a saving annually of 80,000l. in the cavalry department. It would, besides, be as efficient for every necessary purpose as it was now. In stating these facts, he was doing that which was disagreeable to himself, because he was speaking in favour of a reduction of those who were connected with the profession to which he himself belonged; and if his suggestions were carried into effect, it would injure many gallant officers and intimate friends of his own. But, however unwilling he might feel to bring the subject forward, there were considerations that operated more strongly with him than the claims of private friendship. If the cavalry was reduced as he had described, the regiments would consist of 6 troops of 53 or 54 men each, and they would have a sufficient number of officers. Three officers were, he conceived, sufficient to take charge of a troop. Before the French war, there were only six troops to each regiment of cavalry, and of these only four were commanded by captains. He wished to state that he contemplated no innovation, but merely to do that which was formerly done, and even carried to a much greater extent than he proposed. He would suggest that it would be expedient and fair towards those officers, who, in consequence of this revision, were placed on the half-pay list, that they should have the preference when vacancies occurred. He now came to the waggon-train, which was of no earthly use. Every man must be convinced of the absolute absurdity of keeping up such a body at present. During the war they were advantageously employed to carry the sick, and to assist the military in their movements. But now, when a regiment scarcely removed once in a twelvemonth, they were evidently of no use. There was a regular complement of these men attached to the Life-Guards, who never left London. By reducing this useless corps, the country would save 10,000l. a year. The next point on which he meant to touch was the infantry force. By reducing the 2nd majors and by forming the infantry into regiments of 8 companies instead of 10 companies, a saving of between 60,000l. and 70,000l. might be made. There would then be eight companies of 85 men each, instead of 10 companies of 65 men each in every regiment. The captains and major would still be quite sufficient for the discipline of the regiment. Thus, without impairing the efficiency or endangering the discipline of the army, might this saving be made to the public. If in England the inhabitants were to act as in Scotland (he would not repeat the argument at large,) the infantry too would be found more than sufficient. A considerable reduction might be made in the garrisons such as Portsmouth; but he did not wish to take up the time of the House by entering into details. He next adverted to the engineer corps, of which there were two companies in Canada. The works done by them could as well be done by common labourers, with a regular engineer to direct their labour. Yet there were not fewer than 306 men of this corps employed on a canal in North America. This was the most expensive establishment in the army. The committee of 1609 had found that then, in time of most active war, only 80 of this corps, which consisted then of 500 men, were engaged in foreign service. Colonel Brown was examined by the committee, and stated, being of course favourable to the establishment, that they might all be necessary in cases of emergency. As the officers were men of education it might be impolitic to reduce them, but why retain the complement of men? The corps could at any time be re-organized; and therefore, he was persuaded that in this department a saving of 20,000l. might be effected. Here then he had already pointed out a saving of 170,000l. a year. He would ask any member who had done him the honour to attend to him whether, by this saving, the army would be rendered less effective? Would any member say or believe, that, in consequence of such a reduction, it would become less effective against a foreign or a domestic foe? He was happy to have an opportunity of pointing out those things before the army estimates for the year were considered. Wednesday was fixed for that consideration, a day of all the week when there usually was least attendance, and in this week when there was still less chance of the attendance of members. The recruiting service was the next part of the army expenses to which he called attention. The expenses of this service had increased 6,000l. since the last year, which was one-fourth of the whole expenses. He complained that there was a great degree of intricacy added to this part of the service by the present mode of recruiting. There was a necessity for simplifying the mode of recruiting, if economy was at all regarded. At present recruiting companies had their pay-master, field-officers, adjutants, and, in short, a complete staff. This created intricacy in the regimental accounts and rendered it scarcely possible to have any correct reference from the recruiting to the regimental accounts. This was a violation of every principle of economy. Before the year 1798, the commanding officer sent his accounts to the regiment, and district paymasters were appointed only for those recruiting companies whose regiments were abroad. By returning to that practice, and adopting the same arrangement as to the recruiting service as existed now in the guards, an immediate saving of 14,000l. would be effected, and eventually the saving would amount to 20,000l. a year. When he was in the guards he had had five or six recruiting companies under his command. Let that practice be now adopted, let an officer take several companies under his command, let the inspecting field officers be got rid of, and the staff, and other expensive establishments of the recruiting service. In page 13 of the estimates was a sum of 1,450l. for the riding establishment at Pimlico. This establishment had been instituted for the purpose of learning the lance-exercise, but when it ceased to be used for that purpose it was still maintained. In, the general staff-accounts there were 5 assistants to the quartermaster-general. The quartermaster-general was a very important officer in the field, but how was he with his assistants employed now in England? Their only duty was, to receive the route from head-quarters. If they were reduced from five to two, there would be a saving of 2,000l. There was no proper reason for a lieutenant-general of the staff in Ireland, and the major-generals were too many. In Ireland too there were 8 adjutants-general, double the number in England, and if they were reduced to the number in England, there would be a saving of 3,000l. As to the colonial staff—in Jamaica, with 4,000 men there was one general officer—in Gibraltar, with 4,000 men, also one—but in the Leeward Islands, with 5,000 men, there were five general officers—and in Barbadoes a general officer, with only three companies. In those scattered islands there seemed to be no excuse whatever for having quarter-masters general, as other officers were fully adequate to the duty assigned to the quarter-masters. By reducing them, a major-general in Tobago, and four of the adjutants in the other islands, there would accrue a saving of 4,500l. A reduction might be advantageously made in St. Helena; and upon the whole the general savings under this head might amount to 9,000l. The office of paymaster-general, the right hon. gentleman opposite would pardon him for saying so, he considered as one of no great utility. It was only a channel for accounts. The paymaster-general had no control over the expenditure. Here he must remark, that he did not answer for the accuracy of all his statements; but how could he get at information without making assertions, and exciting discussion? He might be wrong in the details, but he was right in the principle. The office was, he was persuaded useless, though he might be made to appear very ridiculous when the right hon. gentleman got up to answer some of his details. The offices of secretary at war and of paymaster came under the observation of the committee of expenditure in 1807. They stated that the responsibility became divided between the two offices. The secretary at war might issue orders for payment through the Bank at once without any paymaster-general. He could refer to the member for the queen's county to confirm his statement, that 60,000 men had been paid in Ireland without any paymaster-general, and no complaint of any defalcation had been heard of. The office was not necessary; it only added to the inconveniency and expense; it was contrary to the rules of economy. For the Ionian islands there were 1,700l. a year charged. Why was this? He only asked for information. He pledged himself that the office of paymaster-general was unnecessary, and only added to the expense of the army, without affording security to the public. The pensions given upon this establishment were larger than the pensions given to the widows of general officers, who received not more than 120l. per annum, a sum much less than that given to the widow of an accountant, though it would he believed, be admitted, that the former was obliged to support a higher rank. A retired paymaster got a pension of 547l. a year, and the deputy paymaster, who did all the duty, had but 500l. a year salary. In the war-office, to which he now requested attention, the charge was 57,880l. In 1806 when we were at war in every quarter of the globe, a deputy secretary and 112 clerks did the duty of the warr-office, and the expense had been only 30,000l. Now the number of clerks was increased from 112 to 147, and their salaries were 48,000l. In 1803 there had been a regulation that the salary of clerks should be from 80l. a year to 120l. Yet there were now assistant examiners who had 250l. each. The office for current accounts was charged at 14,000l. Accounts were rendered intricate by the variety of heads under which allowances were made, as beer, cleaning arms, &c. If the allowances were consolidated much intricacy and expense might be avoided. There should be a regimental contract for provisions for the troops, and forage for the horses. It would probably be objected that defalcations might be the consequence; but it should be recollected, that the commanding officer of a regiment must always be of the highest respectability; and, besides, the best checks could be applied by submitting his contract to the officers of the regiment. He threw out this only as a suggestion. A saving in the whole commissariat of England might thus be made of 12,000l. a year. A great part, too, of the expenses of the commissariat in Ireland might be saved, but not the whole, by throwing the management between the officer and the commissary, not between the commissary and the regiment; 20,000l. would thus be saved in all. He wished next to direct attention to the office for arrear accounts of foreign troops. In 1806, when we were in active war, the expense of this office was only 2,900l.; now, for winding-up the accounts, it was 2,700l.; only 200l. less than when the pay and claims of many foreign soldiers were to be attended to. A great saving might be made by consolidating some of these offices, a saving of not less than 10,000l. a year. At least there was good ground for inquiring whether this could be done. What objection could there be to a committee, when so much difficulty existed on this subject? There was an increase of 900l. a year in the quartermaster-general's office since 1808. In the judge-advocate-general's department the expense in 1808 was 2,500l.; now it was 5,800l. In 1798, the extraordinaries of the army were 6,000,000l. There were then only two comptrollers, at 1,000l. each, and 11 others at 2,500l. In 1819, when the army extraordinaries were but 1,000,000l. there were three comptrollers, one at 2,000l., the other two at 1,500l. each; besides 27 clerks, and the whole expense was 12,500l., 8,000l. more than in 1798, when double the business was done. He now came to the Military college; it had been reduced, but further reduction might yet be made. The senior department was useful; but the junior department was quite useless, for young men who left the college early and entered the regular army soon forgot what they learned there. More youths were now educated than it was possible to give commissions to. The committee of finance had commented on the cruelty of thus educating young men for pursuits in which they could not be employed. The commission of military inquiry had recommended the abolition of the lieutenant-governor and paymaster; as unnecessary, Yet they were retained to this hour. The establishment was not only that of a regiment; it was that of an army. Yet what was it but a school for boys? Why should there be a staff? The number now was 290. This number might be reduced to 220, and even that was more than was required. If it were in fact reduced to 220, it would naturally fall to 200, and thus 550l. a year would he saved. There might too be a diminution of professors. The commissioners of military inquiry had remarked on the lightness of their duties; and he could state himself from experience; having received his education at the college, that some of them attended only 2 hours in the day. Why should school boys have drummers and fifers? From these petty details, it appeared how much saving might really be made. In the several items he had gone through a saving might be made of 450,000l. a year. He now came to the head of superannuation. There had been regulations requiring that every person superannuated should be, 1, incapacited from service; 2, that he should have served 10 years; and 3, that he should have no more than one-third of his full pay. Yet there was a deputy secretary at war, who had served only 6 years and a half, and who had 1.000l. a year, in addition to a floating pension of 800l. a year which he before enjoyed. Had they not violated at least the spirit of the act by this proceeding? He had great respect for the name of that individual in consequence of the veneration he felt for a deceased relative of his, but the discharge of a public duty was paramount to any private feeling, and he could not admit the justice or consistency of allowing him 1,800l. a year. One clerk in the foreign department, who had served only five years, had 450l. a year superannuation, a larger sum than a general officer had after having passed 30 or 40 years in the service. Many who had shed their blood for their country were starving, while a clerk who had never left London enjoyed three times more than was allowed to them. In the medical department there a physician to the forces who had 600l. as a retired allowance; and a late member of the medical board who had 1,100l. a year as physician to Chelsea college, for doing nothing. The commissary general of musters had 600l. a year, while he had 500l. as secretary of Chelsea hospital. In the barrack department, two officers who had served only nine years had each 800l. a year. Did not these appear to be abuses? They might not be so—but was it not due to the country to investigate whether they were or not? When clerks, who never perhaps set their foot out of the country, had their services remunerated so amply, by means perhaps of a secret influence very well understood—and others, possessing the strongest claims on the country, were left almost in a state of starvation, inquiry was imperiously called for. There were also the late commissioners for settling the accounts of the barrack department; viz. the accounts of one great defaulter, general Delancey, and for this service one had a retired allowance of 500l., another of 600l. a year! In the barrack department material saving might be made. It was quite unaccountable that barrack-masters should be retained in barracks where no soldiers whatever were quartered. This, among other similar arrangements, occasioned unnecessary expense in the barrack department, which at present cost the country 58,000l. a year, one half of which he was prepared to show might be very properly dispensed with. For not only were barrack-masters stationed were no soldiers were quartered, but in many places there were two barrack-masters where one would be quite sufficient; and this he illustrated by referring to the barrack-masters appointed at Hyde-park, the Tower, and at the Savoy forsooth, as well as at other places within the district of the metropolis. But those unnecessary appointments were only a part of that system upon which ministers acted, being always determined to retain any patronage of which they could contrive to lay hold, and disregarding that economy which they professed a disposition to maintain, but which they would never practice unless through compulsion. Therefore he called upon that House to interfere, and to demand retrenchment in this branch of the public expenditure, or at least to institute an inquiry how far such retrenchment was practicable. Sure he was, that if the House did not take this subject into its own hands, no reduction of expense would take place, and therefore he the more earnestly pressed for the appointment of a committee of inquiry. He was aware, that when any member on his side of the House brought forward a proposition of this nature, it was the habit of ministers to cavil at his statements, or to point out some error in his details. Instead of discussing the principles upon which his proposition rested, ministers, who ought themselves to assist any member, if he required it, in making out his details on a subject of this nature, sought rather to throw ridicule upon some of his statements; conceiving such ridicule a sufficient answer to his arguments or principles, however unobjectionable. The House too was disposed to listen with more attention to the statements of ministers, naturally supposing them more accurately informed, upon questions connected with the public expenditure. Of this circumstance ministers were fully aware, and therefore apt too often to avail themselves of it to endeavour to throw dust in the eyes of the House, as well as in those of the public. But such expedients could not serve their purpose in the judgment of those who were capable of just discrimination. He concluded with moving, "That a select committee be appointed to examine into the whole military expenditure of the country, and to report their opinion thereon to the House."

Mr. Long

expressed his surprise, that the gallant officer should say, the paymaster general was no public accountant.

Colonel Davies

denied that he had made any such statement.

Mr. Long

observed, that if the gallant officer would take the trouble of inquiring, he would find that the paymaster general was one of the greatest public accountants in the country.

Colonel Davies

again denied the statement imputed to him by the right hon. gentleman.

Mr. Long

regretted his misconception of the gallant officer's words, assuring him that he had no disposition whatever to misinterpret any hon. member. But he was quite certain, that if the gallant officer would take the trouble of seeking accurate information, or would call at the office, and judge for himself, he would be convinced of his mistake in supposing that the business of the paymaster general's department could be consistently transferred to the war-office. The business of the paymaster-general's department was, indeed, of a very onerous description. The duties which were performed there were extremely various; the issue of the half-pay alone required considerable time and attention, especially in consequence of the arrangement for making that payment quarterly instead of half-yearly, as was the former custom. But the settlement of the different accounts in that department was attended with a great deal of trouble. Upon his (Mr. L.'s) introduction to this office, he found there was an arrear of unsettled accounts for no less than 25 years, nay since Mr. Burke's arrangement was adopted; and he had the satisfaction to say that all those accounts were now adjusted, and passed to the commission for auditing public accounts. This discharge of business accounted for the difference between the expence of the paymaster-general's department at the present day, compared with the period referred to by the gallant officer. But he would venture to say, that if the gallant officer would inquire and compare the present expense of this department with that incurred during the war, he would find that a greater reduction had taken place in that office since the conclusion of the peace, than in any other office concerned in the superintendence of the public expenditure. With regard to the superannuated allowances adverted to by the gallant officer, in no instance did any of those allowances exceed the amount settled by statute, while some of them fell short of that amount, as he (Mr. Long) showed by quoting the cases. When he became paymaster general, he found several sinecures in that office, created by the habit of doing duty by deputy, but to this system he put an end, by calling upon every individual connected with the office to perform his duty himself, and thus the system of sinecures was abolished in that office. There were, indeed, no offices under the control of the paymaster-general at present discharged by deputy, with the exception of that of the pay-master of Malta, and two others, which, for adequate reasons it was found necessary to tolerate. He had, indeed, on the whole, no reason to apprehend, that if the conduct of the department over which he had the honour to preside were duly considered, any candid man would find cause to complain of its proceedings or system.

Colonel Davies

thought there was cause to complain that the public accountants connected with the right hon. gentleman's department were not sufficiently under the control of that department.

Mr. Long

observed, that the power of the office alluded to was amply sufficient for any effective purpose of control upon the conduct of every individual connected with the department.

Lord Palmerston

observed, that he should not, upon the present occasion, anticipate the discussion of the army estimates which were so soon to be brought under the consideration of the House, but he thought it proper to make some remarks upon the statements or calculations of the gallant officer, in which, however, he should be as brief as possible. The gallant officer's animadversions upon the conduct of the several finance committees he should leave to other and more competent persons to answer; merely saying, that in his opinion those committees had performed their important duties with great zeal and ability. But with respect to the gallant officer's calculations upon our military expenditure, he must say, that he could not place much reliance upon their accuracy, from a recollection of the extreme erroneousness of the hon. officer's calculations on the same subject upon a former occasion. Upon the increase of our military establishment since the last year, which naturally gave vise to an increase of expenditure, he did not think it necessary to make any reply to the gallant officer, as the House and the country were fully aware of the reasons connected with our internal situation which called for that increase. The gallant officer had maintained, that by a different modification of the existing establishment of the army, a saving might he made of no less than 400,000l. per annum. But there were, upon a proposition of this nature, two questions to be considered; the first, whether any pecuniary saving would result from its adoption; and the second which he submitted was much more important, namely whether the proposed modification would tend to weaken or diminish the efficiency of that important arm of the national strength, the military force. The House would, he had no doubt, proceed with great caution in determining upon these questions. But as to the expense of the army, the gallant officer had thought proper to argue, that if the public spirit of England had been equal to that of Scotland, there would have been no occasion from the recent troubles to make any addition to our regular army. To this observation, however, he would only reply by referring to the spirited conduct of the English yeomanry in maintaining the public peace and protecting their own property throughout the several districts when any disturbances took place or were apprehended. That conduct was indeed notoriously such as to prove the injustice of the gallant officers animadversion; and this he felt himself bound to say, while he was quite ready to bear testimony to the gallantry and public spirit of the yeomanry of Scotland. With respect to the gallant officer's recommendation to discharge the dismounted men belonging to each troop of cavalry, he (lord P.) deprecated the idea, observing that these men were so dismounted with a view to economy, while they were still retained in each regiment with a view to maintain its efficiency. But if the present dismounted men were really discharged, he should not be surprised to find the gallant officer meet that proceeding by requiring that some more of the men should be dismounted, for whose discharge he might afterwards call, and so on, prosecuting his peculiar views of public economy, until each regiment should be reduced to a skeleton,—But neither the peculiar views of the gallant officer, nor those of any other individual would, he trusted, be found to prevail in that House against the tried advantages of the present system. The gallant officer complained not only of the amount but of the distribution of the cavalry. He had asked why there was to be a regiment of cavalry stationed for instance at such a place as Hounslow. Was not the hon. member aware that at that place there was a necessity of having some effective force for the preservation of the peace of the metropolis, and especially at times of danger, such as had lately occurred?—But a part of the cavalry was distributed, according to the hon. member, in places where its service, it was said, could not be necessary, such as along the coast. Now services on the coast were necessary to check the contraband trade which was attempted to be carried on; for, when the smuggler had once landed his goods on the coast, it was only by the assistance of cavalry troops that seizures could be made. There was however, scarcely any part of our military organization to which the gallant officer did not object. According to his judgment there were too many officers both in the cavalry and the infantry, although all those officers were by very high authority deemed quite necessary to the maintenance of discipline, and of an efficient army, If a committee such as that proposed were appointed, every member of it might have his own speculative opinions upon the subject, all differing from one another. When one person said he would have one major to a regiment instead of two, and would reduce two captains, two lieutenants, and two cornets in each regiment, or stated any other speculative opinions of the same sort, these were grounds on which a House of Commons would not act. The gallant officer also objected to the waggon corps, although if we had not this corps it would be difficult to say by what means the removal of the different regiments ought to be effected. Was it by obliging the cavalry horses to draw Waggons, for which they were not fitted, or by hiring farmers horses, which would not be always in readiness on emergencies? Those means, it was obvious, could hot be adequate to the removal of an effective force. But the gallant officer required on the whole such a reduction of the army as must, if his views were complied with, expose the country to the most serious embarrassment in the event of war. When the army was to be reduced in time of peace, they were not to consider the immediate saving only which would arise from that reduction, but were to remember that the establishment still kept up was a nucleus for the reformation of the army, whenever war should again render it necessary. On the subject of half-pay, pensions, &c, all he should say was, that the hon. gentleman had made a very inaccurate calculation of the saving that might be accomplished in that department of the expenditure. As to the engineer corps, which the hon. gentleman wished to be reduced, he might observe that proper officers for these corps were not easily obtained. It was also difficult to procure men for them, oh account of the mechanical skill which it was necessary they should possess. These men were always most usefully employed, and therefore he conceived that their reduction would be a serious inconvenience. With regard to all these staff-corps, which required great skill and experience on the part of both officers and men, it was evident that they could not be suddenly re-established; and therefore, unless a sufficient number, both of officers and men, were retained, the service might be exposed to great danger as well as inconvenience. The House would recollect that what the hon. gentleman had just been pressing respecting the guards, was just what Mr. Burke had taken so much pains to do away with. The guards received a gross sum for all their charges, and out of that sum they had to defray the expenses of their own recruiting, and of their hospitals, which in the rest of the army were paid under a separate head of charge. If it was not proper to recur to the other parts of that system which Mr. Burke had abolished from the whole army, it surely was not proper to revert to that part of it only which regulated the charges of the recruiting service. He conceived that the present system, by which officers on the recruiting service, received draughts from the public officer of the district, was more convenient than that which the hon. gentleman proposed. Indeed no arrangement had given more general satisfaction than that of detaching the expenses of recruiting districts from the general charges. If the system of the hon. member were introduced, this accounts of every regiment in the service would be necessary before the recruiting accounts could be regulated; and how much more simple and more easily reduced to practice was what was now adopted. The riding establishment at Pimlico seemed useless to the hon. member, but why was it founded? For a most excellent purpose: to introduce a uniform- ity of system through the cavalry of the kingdom, and. the experience of the carvalry evinced its utility. Men were sent from each regiment of cavalry, in order to learn the system; and they afterwards became masters and teachers of it to their awn regiments. Thus a very great benefit was obtained, and our cavalry would be saved from any repetition of the sneer; of a foreign officer in other times, namely, that he should think the British, cavalry very efficient, if they knew how to ride. In objecting to the permanent assistants in the quarter-master general's department, he could not help saying that the gallant officer seemed not aware of the motive or importance of that description of officers, and when he animadverted upon the number of staff officers employed in Ireland, compared to that in this country, he evidently appeared forgetful of the different situation of our force in both countries. In Ireland it was so subdivided and scattered, that a greater number of staff officers became obviously necessary, and a similar distribution of the army accounted for the number of staff officers in the windward and leeward islands, to which the gallant officer also objected. In fact, every one of those officers was governor of the, island, to which he was appointed as well as commander of the forces; and the greatest convenience had been found to result from that arrangement. Making allowance, therefore, for all the errors both in the details and the principles of the hon. gentleman, he suspected that, even if the proposed alteration were, made in the staff department, the saving would fall very far short of 4,00,000l. His right hon. friend had satisfactorily accounted for the conduct, and expense of the paymaster-general's department; and as to the War office, he could state and show, that any increase in the expense of that establishment was occasioned by an immense accumulation of accounts from former years many of which were yet unsettled, a though every possible exertion was making, to promote their adjustment. A commutation with the soldiers for certain allowances, as the gallant officer recommended, he thought quite impracticable, from the fluctuating price of the articles; alluded to, and the uncertain movements of the army; as such commutation might be too much in certain cases, or operate in others to reduce the soldiers pay, which, he believed, no one in that House or the country was disposed to do. A soldier might cost more in one year than another, because fie might be more days on march, and provisions might be higher; and therefore to strike a balance by the expenses of one year might either injure the man by giving him too small an allowance, or, by giving him a fractional sum too much, might swell the amount to the public very considerably. The truth of this would appear on looking at the report of the committee of finance, in which it was stated that a very trifling allowance added to each man's pay would produce an increase of 80,000l. a year in the whole army. But to return to the War office; the gallant, officer had particularly, dwelt upon the difference of expense in that establishment between the year 1806 and the present time. In 1806 the clerks were 112 in number and their salaries amounted to 30,000l.; while in 1819 their number, was 148, and, their, salaries amounted nearly to 50,000l. The comparatively small expense, however, in former years, was owing merely to the hope of the government, that the national expense would be reduced by the cessation of war, and to its, disinclination to add to the public expenditure by increasing the establishment at this office. But what had been the consequence of this policy?—Why that the accounts at the War office had accumulated to such an extent, that an increased establishment of clerks became imperiously necessary. The existing establishment was accordingly made, and through its operation in 1816, no less than 1,286 accounts of former years were settled, while, but a very few accounts of that year, were left unsettled. But the settlement of the arrear of accounts was not yet complete, and until complete no reduction of clerks could be reasonably looked for in this department. In consequence of the accounts which had been settled with agents, several balances had been recovered, and many more were to be expected, so that the public purse would derive very material profit from the temporary advance to the War office for the payment of the clerks employed in settling these accounts; although the hon. gentleman seemed to think that the best way would be to pass a wet sponge over them. He (lord Palmerston) must also maintain against the objections, of the gallant officer, that the commissariat was one of the most useful departments of the army, by serving to secure a proper supply of subsistence for the troops. He believed, that no other arrangement could be made which would so effectually combine economy with regularity of supply. It certainly appeared to him that, when supply was provided by contract, it was likely to be cheaper, better, and more regular, than if each regiment were to provide its own supply.—The honourable gentleman Observed that the expence of the quarter-master-general's department had increased. He (lord Palmerston) thought it was as nearly as possible at what it had been in 1792, With the exception of the expense of the lithographic press, which had been introduced since that period, with the usefulness of which invention the House was well acquainted, and which had, in effect, produced a great saving in the War-office as well as in that of the quarter-master-general. With regard to the Comptroller's office, it was also said, that an increase had taken place; but the House should always bear in mind that the examination of accounts Could never end with the war; nor could the auditing department cease with the services to which they belonged. These were departments of considerable utility, and could not be altered without disadvantage to the country. The Military college was next touched on by the hon. member. It was admitted, that great reductions had been made in the Military college, but it seemed that these reductions were not sufficient to satisfy the hon. gentleman. The House would see that arrangements had been made to consolidating the senior and the junior departments of that establishment from the 24th of June next; so that next year the whole Would merge into one department, Several professors were to be reduced, and the annual expenditure of the College would not exceed the sum of 18 or 19,000l. The number of cadets Was only 400, and the course of study Was four years; and the number of vacancies, from January, 1818, to January, 1819, was 127; and every year the greatest number of cadets that might become disposable were not more than might fairly be allowed. He was sure the House would not think that the number of cadets which it was proposed to admit every year, say seven, was too great for the other parts of ear military establishment. The hon. gentleman complained of ushers being employed, and contended that they were not a necessary part of a military establishment; but whether they were Called ushers, or were called by a military name, their services were necessary for the purpose of preserving discipline. By the new arrangement, each professor would have to attend six hours every day in summer, and five hours every day in winter; and this, he thought, was as much as much as could be required. The hon. member was of opinion that the senior department was necessary, but that the junior was not, and that it was of no use to instruct officers in the principle of their profession before they went into the army, because they would very soon forget all they had learned. He (lord Palmerston) was of a different opinion. He hoped the hon. gentleman would confirm that opinion by his own experience, and that he would riot say he had so rapidly forgot all he had learned in the course of his military education. The majority of the young men educated at the college, had proved by their conduct in the field, the great advantages which the army and the country derived from this establishment The highest military authorities in the country had considered this establishment essentially necessary to the welfare of the army. If it were admitted that a regular army Ought to be kept up, it was equally necessary that it should be a good regular army and a good regular army could only be obtained by instructing officers in the theory of their profession. The effect of discontinuing this establishment would be to drive these young men to other quarters, and as they would have no means of defraying the expenses of a private education, they would probably be compelled to seek for instruction in German or French establishments, at that critical period of their lives when the impressions they received were calculated to decide the Character of the future man. He regretted that he did not observe a gallant officer in his place, who seldom omitted an opportunity of deprecating the introduction of foreign officers and every assimilation to foreign customs; in our troops, for he was persuaded that he would have concurred with him in the propriety of giving to our military youth the advantage of a British education. For his own part, he wished to see the British soldier with a British character, with British habits, with a British education, and with as mille as possible of any thing foreign. An annual sum was voted by the House for the education of the Catholic clergy in Ire- land; and be would ask, whether the army did not possess as strong claims upon the country, and whether the same considerations which dictated that measure, slid not apply with equal or greater force to the establishment of the Military college? With respect to the retired allowances to which the hon. gentleman had objected, they had been granted in the year 1809, and could not therefore militate against the act regulating those allowances, which did not pass till the year 1811. He had now gone through most of the points urged by the hon. gentleman, and he contended that he had laid no parliamentary ground for inquiry. Nothing was more easy than to argue for the expediency of entering into a committee of inquiry. If the question was one generally understood, it was then contended that there could be no objection to granting a committee; if, on the other hand, it involved considerable difficulty, it was argued that so much intricacy of detail necessarily demanded a committee, of inquiry. On the subject of the horn gentleman's motion, however, not only committees, but commissions had been granted, and commissioners as industrious and as independent as any, whom the hon. gentleman could appoint, had been engaged for several years in the laborious, unremitted, investigation of the points connected with this motion. In the years 1817, 1818, and 1819, the House had appointed committees of its own to inquire into the public expenditure, of which expenditure the army formed a considerable part. No doubt the hon. member expected that if this; committee were granted he should be able to detect many a venerable abuse, and at every turn of the spade to bring up some mutilated remains of violated economy; but even, if the House were to accede to his motion, be would find himself anticipated; the ground was already dug, and nothing remained to reward the hon. gentleman's industry. The hon. gentleman had alluded to the distresses and financial embarrassments of the country. He (lord Palmerston} would be the last man to speak of those distresses in a slighting manner; but in considering the amount of our burdens we ought not to forget under what circumstances those difficulties had been incurred. Engaged in an arduous struggle, single-handed and unaided, not only against all the powers of Europe but with the confederated forces of the civilized world, our object was not merely military glary—not the temptation of territorial acquisition—not even what might be considered a more justifiable object, the assertion of violated rights and the vindication of national honour, but we were contending for our very existence as an independent nation When the political horizon was thus clouded, when no human foresight could point out from what quarter relief was to be expected, when the utmost effort of national energy was not to despair, he would put to the hon. gentleman whether, if at that period it could have been shown that Europe might be delivered from its thralldom, but that this cantingent good must be purchased at the price of a long and patient endurance of our domestic burthens, we should not have accepted the conditions with gratitude. He lamented as deeply as the hon. gentleman the burthens of the country, but it should be recollected that they were the price which we bad agreed to pay for our freedom and independence.

Mr. Calcraft

said, that his hon. friend's motion had been much misrepresented by the noble lord, and that the utmost, extent of his proposition went only to show, that if the weight of expenditure which bore down the people did not admit of complete alleviation, it might at least be rendered more tolerable. But if any one had only heard the latter part of the noble lord's speech, he would be inclined to think his hon. and gallant, friend was demanding some sacrifice, attended with shame, if not with more ruinous consequences. Now, nothing was more contrary to his intention he only Called for a committee of inquiry, and that after entering into such a detail as must impress every, man with the necessity for its appointment. In one particular, he could not agree with his hon. friend; he alluded to that part of his speech, in which he proposed to lessen the number of the cavalry establishment. He thought it advisable to preserve the skeleton of this establishment by keeping up a number of dismounted cavalry, to provide for any future occasion, in which it might be necessary to recur to it. Generally, however, be, thought the House and the country were deeply indebted to his gallant friend for the laborious and useful duty he had undertaken and so very ably discharged. And if after showing even a probability pf saving several hundred thousand pounds a year to the country no inquiry were allowed, he could scarcely think the country ought to be satisfied. The noble lord had said that nothing was more easy than to establish a case for a committee of inquiry, but gentlemen who had any experience in this House, must be aware that although it was very easy to call for a committee of inquiry, nothing was more difficult than to obtain it. The strongest case for inquiry might be made out, but it was overturned at once by that simple receipt, a majority of the House of Commons. The noble lord had made a very brilliant speech, and he could afford to do it, for he made but one speech a year, for which he was rewarded by the possession of one of the richest offices in the gift of the Crown, and he might therefore fairly be considered the best paid orator of the age. The speech was not the worse for having been delivered after due consideration, and he was not at all disposed to detract from its brilliance. As to the merit of the reasonings, the noble lord himself appeared ready to abandon his pretensions, for he admitted that his horn friend had established a case for a committee of inquiry. He had but little expectation that the motion would be acceded to, for when reduction was proposed, whether a riding-house, a general, or a baron of exchequer were the subject of inquiry, success in that House was equally hopeless. Under every view of the case, he considered full and satisfactory grounds had been offered for the appointment of a committee, and he should therefore support the motion.

Sir Henry Parnell

said, as the expenditure of the army amounted to nearly seven millions annually it became the House to consider whether or not some saving might not be effected, or, at all events, whether a committee should not be appointed to ascertain if it could be effected. An hon. friend of his had said, the noble lord was well paid for making an annual speech, but his hon. friend laid overrated the noble lord's deserts, for last year he made no speech; and on the army estimates being brought-down, referred the House merely to the dry details. The civil offices in the army department were, now in the fifth year of peace, greater than after the first four years of the last war. In the year 1792 one department cost 813l.; and in the year 1819 it had increased to 7,453l. In the department of the secretary at war, the expenditure was the same in 1796 as it was now, and amounted to about 51,000l. In that of the paymaster of the forces, an increase bad taken place of nearly 5,000l.; the amount being in l796, 19,000l.; and in 1819, 24,OOOl; When it was considered in addition to those circumstances, that the revenue of the country has fallen off nearly fifteen hundred thousand pounds, he thought it not too much to call for some inquiry.

Colonel Davies,

in reply said that the statements he had made, and the arguments which he bad drawn from them, had been only met by the assertions of the hoble lord, which, however convincing or satisfactory to the House of Commons, could not be so to the country in general; With respect to the commission of military inquiry to which reference had been made by the noble lord, it had existed only during war. After entering into a recapitulation of the various topics he had urged in his opening speech he concluded by expressing his conviction that if the House would not be thought wholly inattentive to the interests of the country, they would promote an inquiry, which was calculated to effect so large a saving in the public expenditure.

Colonel Grant

begged to offer some observations to the House as a military man. He objected to any decrease of the cavalry establishment, and contended that nothing was more useful than to keep up a large skeleton of officers and non-commissioned officers, who might be ready for active service upon future emergencies. In alluding to the forge-carts, which had been objected to on the ground of unnecessary expenditure, be observed, that they were on many occasions of the greatest service, and that much distress had been experienced from the want of them in the retreat of sir John Moore from Corunna. Adverting to the Tiding school, and to the number of staff employed he contended that they were both indispensable.

Mr. Ellice

said, he merely rose to state the grounds on which he meant to support the hon. member's motion for inquiry. To the various details of the question, whether regarding cavalry or infantry, he professed himself incompetent; but it was his wish to look a little beyond those details; and he thought that some inquiry ought to be made as to the necessity of keeping up the unheard-of military force now established in this country in a time of peace. He thought, too, that some inquiry ought to be made into the ability of the colonies to support the troops stationed abroad; and that it would be a question for the consideration of the House, how far it was desirable to keep those colonies, which required a large military force for their protection. There was also another motive why he voted in favour of the motion—we had recently added considerably to our military force for local purposes; he thought it necessary to inquire how far the continuance of that additional force was necessary, at a time too, when the country was borne down by a load of debt and taxation. Unless some member of administration should more fully enter into detail on this subject, he should vote for the motion of the gallant colonel, in the event of his dividing the House.

Colonel Davies

rose to explain. It had never been his intention, in his allusion to the forge carts, to maintain that they were not necessary on foreign service. The gallant colonel had completely misunderstood him in supposing he considered this expense as unnecessary one on actual service.

The House divided: Ayes, 45; Noes, 125: Majority against the Motion, 80.

List of the Minority
Allan, J. H. Newport, sir J.
Atthorp, lord Ord, W.
Bary, lord O'Callaghan, J.
Barrett, S. Palmer, F.
Barham, J.F. jun. Powers R.
Bright, H. Parnell, sir H.
Calvert, C. Parnell, W.
Carter, T. Pryce, R.
Cromptbn, Sam. Ramsden, J. C.
De Crespigny, sir W. Robinson, sir G.
Dundas.T. Smithy A.
Dundas, H. L. Smith, Wm
Grenfell, Pascoe Smith, Samuel
Qurney, R. H. Sefton, lord
Haldimand W. Sykes, D.
Heron, sir R. Spurrier, C. H.
Harbord, hon. E. Wood, alderman
Kennedy T. Webb. E.
Lushington, Dr. Whitbread, W. H.
Millbank, Mark Whitbread W. H.
Maxwell, W. TELLERS.
Milton, lord Daivies, col.
Monck, J. B. Ellice, Edw.