§ The House having resolved itself into a committee of supply, to which the Army Estimates were referred, the chairman read the resolution, the debate on which was adjourned yesterday morning, namely, "That the land-forces for the service of the present year should consist of 81,468 men, &c."
§ Mr. J. Macdonald
rose, to redeem the pledge which he had given on a former evening, to propose a reduction of 10,000 men in our military establishment. Feeling that the discussion of the other night was most conclusive in support of the proposition with which he should conclude he would confine himself to a very few words upon the subject. It was his firm conviction, that the case on the other side of the House, even as it had been stated and argued by the ministers themselves, would not justify the House in voting a larger force than 60,000 men. That would leave 25,000 men for the colonies and 35,000 for home service, exclusive of the artillery and marines, which being estimated at 5,000, would make the whole number 65,000 men. What apology was there then for voting any number of men larger than that amount? None. But members on his side of the House felt that it was necessary to look at what was immediately practicable as well as at what was desirable; and it was on that consideration alone that he was induced to limit the reduction to 10,000 men. In moving this amendment, he by no means intended to fetter the discretion of his majesty's government as to the points in which the reduction should take place; whether in the new colonies, or in the old colonies, in Ireland or in England; or proportionally in all. On that subject they would judge for themselves. But he hoped the committee would concur with him in thinking that the time had arrived when it was their duty to endeavour to effect a real reduction of every useless expenditure. The only mode in which it was possible to meet the endless demands upon the purse or the country of a military nature was, to come to some distinct determination that the House would provide for a certain amount of force, and no more. Lest, however, any gentleman should entertain apprehensions that by acceding to the amendment, the executive government would, be stripped of the force 1228 necessary in the event of any domestic emergency, he begged to be allowed a few moments, in which he would undertake to satisfy that gentleman that if he supported the proposed reduction he might go home and lay his head on his pillow in perfect security that the country was safe from any danger of that kind. The force which had been voted for the colonies two years ago was 30,000. If that force were reduced only by 1,400 or 1,500 men (and he was persuaded that Malta and the Ionian Islands alone would furnish the means of making that reduction), there would still if his motion were carried, remain in this country an effective force exclusive of artillery, of above 50,000 men. To these must be added the ten veteran battalions, consisting of 11,000 men which experience had proved might very speedily be equipped, and rendered fit for active service. There would then be a total of 65,000 regular troops for the service of England and Ireland. Besides those regular troops there would be 37,000 yeomanry cavalry, and 20,000 volunteer infantry, making in the whole rather more than 120,000 men. Looking, in addition, to the militia of both countries, it was perfectly evident that, in the course of three months, we might have a force in arms, in England and Ireland, of 200,000 men. The right hon. the surveyor-general of Woods and Forests had concluded his speech the other evening by talking of the expediency of preserving the means of resisting foreign aggression. It was to enable this country to resist aggression, and always to be prepared to assert her honour and dignity, that he and those who thought with him wished for economy. It was hard, indeed, to say what would be the extent of financial difficulty and embarrassment which would prevent so high-spirited a country as England from asserting her honour and dignity. He could not contemplate the arrival, under any circumstances, of such a slate of things. If ever it should arrive, he hoped the country would not long survive it; but if ever it should arrive it could be brought on only by the infatuation of government in refusing to give the country the fair means of recruiting its energies, after the unexampled struggle in which it had been engaged. He would implore the committee to consider the importance of the question which they were called upon to 1229 settle. Out of 54,000,000l. there were only 6,000,000l. available for the service of the year. Besides this sum there was nothing except the Sinking Fund, which ought not to be touched. With the exception of some savings which might be made in the collection of the revenue, these estimates were the only branch of public expenditure in which a reduction could be effected; this fact being established, he would put it to the House whether they ought not to consent to the reduction which he had proposed. He would not calculate upon any future defalcations in the revenue, though he thought them likely to occur; but this he would say, that there was not a man but must see that the present state of things was pregnant with danger. The hon. gentleman concluded by moving, as an amendment to the original resolution, to omit the words "81,468," for the purpose of inserting the words "71,468."
§ Sir H. Vivian
opposed the motion. He considered it to be impossible to keep up the garrisons abroad if so large a reduction were agreed to. The hon. member then entered into some details to prove his proposition and contended that if only 5,000 men were kept for reliefs, the troops would be nine years abroad and only three at home. Besides, if we had a squabble with a foreign power, we could vindicate our honour better by interfering with an effective army, than by merely sending our navy against it. Alluding to what had fallen from the hon. member for Aberdeen on a former night, he said that he was a sincere supporter of the noble lord's administration, and added that if the hon. member continued his present line of conduct, he would increase the number of the noble lord's friends, not only in, but out of the House.
§ Mr. N. Calvert
supported the amendment. There were three reductions of considerable magnitude, which, in his opinion, might be advantageously made. In the first place, he thought we might very beneficially divest ourselves of Gibraltar, which cost us half a million annually in peace, and double that amount in war. Gibraltar had no harbour; it did not command the entrance of the Mediterranean, and he was persuaded that we should be much better without it. In the second place, he thought we might save a very considerable expense, by getting rid of all connection whatever with the Ionian Isles. In the third place, he thought that we 1230 might reduce half the household troops, and substitute an armed police, under the authority of the civil power.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that although he would not give up the Ionian Islands, he would be for making them pay for their own protection. A gallant general had declared that he was one of the noble lord's best friends. He admitted it. If the noble lord would reduce the expenditure of the country to the rate which he would point out, the noble lord would place himself in a situation stronger than that of any preceding minister, and one whence it would be impracticable to dislodge him. If the gallant general, however, alluded to the proceedings of the other evening, he could not allow that his deduction was a fair one. It should be recollected, that to those proceedings there were two parties. Which was the resisting party? That of which the gallant general made one. Which was the reasonable party? That which he (Mr. Hume) had joined. Could any one deny that it was reasonable that men should retire to their beds at one o'clock in the morning? The party, therefore, which wished to put off entering into an important discussion at one o'clock in the morning, was the reasonable party. The party which was desirous to vote away three or four millions of the public money after one o'clock in the morning, was the unreasonable party. The gallant general had said the other evening, "Can you think of reducing the military force of the country, at the present moment, to the level at which it was in 1792 and 1817, when every thing was perfectly tranquil? in the present state of Italy you must keep up a force which may enable you to meet any demand that may occur." The noble lord opposite, however, had said, that it was the intention of government to remain perfectly neutral with respect to Italy; and he must prefer the authority of the noble lord to that of the gallant general. The gallant general talked of the tranquillity of 1792. If he would look back to that period, and to the measures then proposed by Mr. Pitt, the gallant general would find that it was not so tranquil as he supposed.—The noble secretary at war had maintained, that a principal reason for keeping up the proposed force was for the defence of the colonies. Now, he (Mr. H.) and the hon. member for Wareham, had the other night contended, that the household troops might be reduced; 1231 seeing that they were not applicable to the principal purpose on which the noble secretary justified the proposed military establishment. With respect to the argument founded on the necessity of relief to our troops in the colonies, were not the noble lord's predecessors in office as fully aware of that necessity? Since 1792, 15,000 additional troops were required for the protection of those colonies. All, therefore, according to the noble lord's own argument, that could be required, in addition, for their relief was, a tenth of their amount, or 1,500 men. As to the regiments in India, there was no practical relief. He had seen two or three regiments in that country undergo the ceremony of relief; but he had never seen above 10 or 20 of the men disposed to go home. The rest preferred to stay, and volunteer into other corps. And here he must pay a just tribute to the way in which the troops were treated by the governments in India. They received every thing which their comfort or disease required, and eventually were presented with land, thus becoming farmers and cultivators in their old age. He was, therefore, convinced that the number of troops requisite was much overstated. He was convinced that the number would admit of a reduction of 20,000 men with as much facility as a reduction of 10,000, or, in other words, that the military duty of the country could be performed as well with 60,000 as with 80,000 men. What then could induce the committee to agree to the latter number? The noble secretary of state had quoted the saying of an ancient "that the immortal gods themselves had no power over past events and arithmetic." As to past events, he would say nothing about them; but on the question of arithmetic he was quite ready to meet the noble lord. The noble lord had enumerated a variety of reductions and some additions in the several items of the estimates of the ordinaries of the army, but at last he avowed that the whole of the saving, as compared with last year, was about 145,000l. Many of the noble lords' statements were evidently ad captandum. The noble lord had taken great credit for a saving of 74,000l. in the commissariat, and of 117,000l. in the Barrack department, as well as for a saving of 50,000l. in the clothing of the Irish yeomanry, although that was an allowance made only once in three years, and therefore there was no saving upon it, as it 1232 would come round in its time. [Mr. Hume here entered into a detailed comparison of the expense of the Commissariat, the Barrack department, &c. for the present, for the last, and for the preceding year, in order to show that the diminution upon the estimates of last year was not equal to the augmentation of the year preceding.] Although 10,000 men had been reduced, yet the diminution of expense was only 145,000l. on an expenditure of above seven millions, which was not the amount of the charge of five battalions. The noble lord had boasted that his majesty's government had kept their word in reducing these 10,000 men, who had been raised for an emergency. The number had certainly been reduced; but why had not a corresponding reduction of expense taken place? The hon. gentleman next observed, that if any troops ought to be reduced, it should have been the regular regiments. If 10,000 regulars, instead of 10,000 veterans, had been reduced, it would have produced a saving of 80,000l. more to the country. For the last year the expense of pay, clothing, &c. for a battalion, was 31,500l. Now the officers from each regiment were allowed to retire on full pay, 7,324l. He would calculate the pensions to privates at 8d. per day, 12,000l.—in the whole 19,520l.—producing, by the reduction of a battalion, a saving merely of 12,000l. But the saving that would be effected by reducing a regular regiment, would amount to 20,000l. and upwards; and the saving that would be effected in reducing ten regiments of regulars, instead of ten battalions of veterans, would amount to 100,000l. Here he could not but say, that he heard with sorrow, as conveying to the country but a melancholy prospect, from the two noble lords opposite, that the army had been now reduced to the lowest possible establishment [Here lord Castlereagh intimated a dissent]. Mr. Hume said, the words of the noble lord were, that the establishment of 1818 was agreed to by the committee, as a proper establishment, and the establishment of 1792 was altogether thrown out of consideration. Who, he would ask, agreed to the establishment of 1818? Not the committee of finance, because the report of that committee recommended a speedy approximation to the establishment of 1792. The only reason that had been given for this heavy military establishment was; 1st. The increase of public works; 2nd, The defence and 1233 relief of the colonies. Did the noble lord forget, that in Ceylon there were several thousand local militia; several regiments of militia at the Cape; and that in Canada a very important militia was kept up? Why, then, did it become necessary to increase military force where there was a tried and valuable militia kept up? The noble lord had named several garrisons, Plymouth, Porstmouth, Chatham, and many others; but those surely were not new garrisons, they were garrisons which had been always kept up with an efficient force; besides, it should be taken into account, that old garrisons were reduced, such, for instance, as Fort William and Fort Augustus. With regard to barracks, surely it would not be contended that the artillery were incapable of defending their own, and the marines incapable of defending the dock-yards. He could not comprehend why 6,000men more were needed now than in 1792. The quantity of stores to be defended was talked of; but one principal depository was Weedon; and there a Serjeant's guard, or at most an ensign and 17 men, were found amply sufficient. If, indeed, 6,000 men were requisite, why had not 6,000 of the now disbanded veterans been retained, who were fully competent to the duty, and could be kept up at a much lower expense? But 15,000 men were said to be wanted for the new colonies, and 30,000 for the old; and the reason was, to prevent surprise by an enemy. At a time when not a hostile pendant was floating on the ocean, what possibility could there be of surprise? On the subject of reliefs for the colonies, he repeated that, according to the data supplied by the noble lord, 1,500 men were all that were necessary, and not 5,000 for the relief of 50,000, or 3,000 for the relict of 30,000. How, then, did the question stand as to numbers? In Great Britain and Ireland there were to be no less than 48,632 regular troops. The noble lord had been surprised at his statement, that the irregular force amounted to 125,000 men. He would perhaps be more surprised now to be informed that it exceeded 149,000. He made it out thus:—Royal marines 8,000—royal artillery and engineers 7,872—yeomanry and volunteer infantry in Great Britain 37,391,—volunteer infantry in Ireland 20,231—disembodied militia, 89 regiments, Great Britain 55,092,—ditto, 38 ditto, Ireland 20,958—making 149,544. The regular cavalry and infantry in the kingdom and 1234 the colonies were to be added to this calculation, and the whole force could not be estimated at less than 270,000 men. He asked, then, with some confidence, whether the House, in times like these, could sanction a vote so extravagant? Would not the people, when any pretended feeling was exhibited in the House for their distresses, have a right to retort, that it burdened them with an army of 270,000 men? The hon. gentleman next proceeded to argue, that there were already too many officers compared with the number of men; and this he deduced from the statement of the noble lord, that he could raise 34,000 privates, with only the addition of one ensign and one lieutenant to each company. It was undeniable that there was an augmentation of 8,000 in the guards only. He thought he had said enough to convince the reason, and govern the conclusion, of any impartial man: the opinions of interested members he valued no more than the testimony of interested witnesses; and the reduction he should have proposed would have been 20,000 men; however, 10,000 was proposed in the amendment, and he would take that, or 5,000, or 1,000, rather than nothing. The noble lord, with reference to the foreign staff, had been very witty on the dates of the estimates he (Mr. H.) had used; but witty at his own expense; for he held in his hand returns signed by the noble lord himself, in which it was stated that the foreign staff on the 25th Dec. 1792, cost 17,121l., and on the 25th Dec. 1802, 19,434l.: yet now it was swelled to the enormous amount of 82,000l. The noble lord had argued in defence of the present enormous charge for the public departments, that in 1792 the business was most ineffectually and negligently done; but surely this was a most strange reflection on the government of that day, recollecting that it came from the disciples and followers of Mr. Pitt. He had no difficulty in accepting the challenge of the noble lord: he could show how millions might be saved out of the army estimates on a moderate computation. If, however, a reduction of only 20,000men were made, the following savings might be effected:—In pay 188,260l.—in barracks, commissariat, &c 434,769—in garrisons 22,000l.—in the military college 16,000l.—in the asylum 25,000l.—in half-pay 100,000l.—making 786,029l. It was, he said, a fact worthy of remark, that since the year 1816 the duke of York had filled 1235 up 1,105 new commissions, while by die returns it appeared that there were 7,000 officers on half pay. Why had not those 1,105 commissions been given to officers already on half pay? and that alone would have produced a saving of 61,000l. a year. Thus, the patronage of his royal highness had cost the nation an immense sum since 3816. The gallant general had talked of the distresses of officers upon half-pay, and had asked, whether the object were to reduce them. No; the object was to advance them, and to place at least a large number in circumstances of comparative affluence. He agreed that at present they were living upon a miserable pittance; and it was so because ministers had prevented them from seeking an honourable employment in foreign countries fighting the battles of liberty and independence. It was true that they now led in this country a deplorable existence; but it was not for those who had brought in and carried the abominable Enlistment bill to talk of it, since they were in a great degree the cause of their sufferings. If such compassion were felt for them, why had they not been advanced from half to full pay? Why had not the duke of York selected them for the 1,105 commissions, instead of taking those whose past services gave them not the slightest claim? At this moment he believed there were many half-pay cornets at school, having had commissions given them merely that they might retire upon half-pay, and then finish their education. The hon. member concluded by stating, that in none of his remarks he had intended to touch individuals: he had directed his attacks only against the extravagant and ruinous system of expenditure.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, the system of the guards had been inquired into by the committee of 1817, who had recommended no change. If they were remodelled, without the additional pay to which the men were entitled by the terms of their enlistment, they would not be more expensive than the regiments of the line, except by 250l. on a battalion of 650 men. It had been said by the hon. member, that the charge of dress in the guards was expensive; but the hon. member might have found that in the guards, as in all the regiments of the service, the expense of the change of dress, fell on the colonels. As to the alleged inefficiency of the guards from their not serving out of Europe, he denied that there was any regulation 1236 which prevented them from doing so. Had they not served in America during the American war? Had they not served in Egypt? It was true that it was not customary to send them out of Europe; but neither was it customary to send light infantry, who consequently were, with regard to efficiency on the same footing as the guards. The efficiency of the guards in the field had been admitted. The proportion of them that had been opposed to the enemy was greater, in fact, than that of the regiments of the line, which arose from the circumstance blamed by the hon. member, namely, their being exempted from the colonial garrison duties. The manner in which they had been made available at Waterloo and in the Peninsula was well known. In that regiment in which he had the honour to serve, the 1st guards, had been renewed three times during the war; and the consumption of the seven battalions amounted to 28,000 men. With respect to the charge, that the guards were kept up for mere show, he asserted, that their duties were more severe than the ordinary duties of regiments of the line. Indeed, they were so hard worked by their ordinary duties, that when they were called on any emergency, they had not strength to do the duty. From all the inquiries he had made respecting the guards, there was no ground for the assertion that they were an overgrown establishment: 150 years ago, when they were first raised, they were seven battalions; in 1792 they were seven battalions; and they were seven battalions now. There was an addition of one light company to each battalion; but this addition was also made in the line. Of the line, there were 60 battalions in 1792, now there were 100, but the number of battalions of the guards had remained the same. In each company in 1792, there were 47 men, now there were 72; but there was still the same number of officers as before, three to each company; thus the expense was not raised with the numbers. A suggestion had been thrown out, that the pay of soldiers enlisted henceforward should be diminished, because the wages of labourers had only been increased as 5 to 4, while the pay of the soldier had been doubled. This was a misconception of the fact, because, though there was an increase of actual pay, a great number of allowances had been taken away. The soldier had now a shilling a day. Of this 6d. per day was, im- 1237 mediately taken by the government for his ration. When provisions were high the soldier gained, when they were low the government gained, by the bargain. There remained another 6d. with which he had to provide shirts, washing, pipe-clay, &c. which it was calculated would cost the most frugal soldier 3½d. or 3¼d.: the remaining 2½d. was all he had to supply himself with beer, tobacco, and other luxuries. If there was a property-tax on the soldier it must come solely out of this 2½d. The question of relief had been sufficiently discussed by the noble secretary of war. If, as the hon. member for Aberdeen supposed, many men in India volunteered to remain there, the regiments must be changed, because the officers would not submit to perpetual banishment. In the West Indies he feared reliefs would be necessary every five rather than every ten years. He had always understood that Gibraltar afforded great advantages to our fleets from the facility of refitting, and he referred to the instance when sir J. Saumarez blockaded a fleet which had taken shelter in Algesiras.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that the objections of the gentlemen opposite seemed to be particularly directed to the expenditure for the colonies in the Mediterranean and St. Helena. This branch of the expenditure had certainly been increased since 1792, and necessarily so, from the additional possessions in the Mediterranean which the country had since that period to maintain. They had now Malta in addition to Gibraltar. In 1792, there were 3,335 rank and file for the garrison of Gibraltar, and there were now only 7,000 for Gibraltar, Malta, and the Ionian Islands; intact, the whole of the Mediterranean. This addition, considering the nature of the service, was any thing rather than excessive. The other station objected to was that of St. Helena. Inspecting that island, he had only to call their attention to the great importance of the object of that garrison. If, in guarding the individual there placed, any overcaution was incurred, he thought, considering the importance of that trust, it ought not to be rigidly scrutinized or complained of. The amount of the force required at St. Helena arose from the nature of the confinement of the individual, and to avoid the necessity of any thing like personal rigour while keeping him in safe custody. He was permitted, if he pleased, to traverse the whole island, and this indul- 1238 gence imposed the necessity of haying additional guards in separate parts of the place. It was urged that the colonies ought to provide for the maintenance of their own troops. So they Would, if they were allowed an unlimited trade; but the policy of the country did not sanction such a course, and the existing engagements to the colonies rendered the expenditure necessary. The member for Aberdeen had said, that if the colonies were blessed with a constitution like the English, they would then with alacrity pay for the maintenance of their own troops. To this he would answer, that he knew of no anxious expression to do so on the part of those islands enjoying a colonial legislature. An hon. and gallant general opposite (Sir R. Fergusson) had complained of the expenditure at the Gape of Good Hope, and said, that when it was in the hands of the Dutch governor, the latter made the settlement pay for the support of 5,000 men, and its whole establishment. In contradiction of this statement, he would read an extract of a dispatch transmitted by the head of the Dutch republic in June, 1805, to the Dutch governor at the Cape which was as follows:—"Your official accounts to the government confirm the impressions we had previously formed, that the Cape will not be to us such an Eldorado as some were led to think." The letter then stated, that there was little chance of making the settlement pay its expenses, until they could, succeed in making it a spot for the cultivation of something which the Dutch could make a source of trade. So that it was clear there was some mistake in the statement, that the Dutch governor had paid 5,000 men out of the colonial revenue. He must also advert to an account given by the hon. general, that Sir James Craig had transmitted information to the authorities at home, stating, in his opinion, 3,000l. a year to be quite sufficient for the governor's emolument. Of such information he could find no proof, and certainly the contrary was held by other officers who had served there.
Sir R. Fergusson
explained what he had said; that, in 1795, when the Cape fell into our hands, general Craig who acted as governor, stated to the government that he had found no salary fixed for him, but that he had appropriated 3,000l. per annum which he thought fully adequate to the duty.
§ Mr. Goulburn
observed, that even in 1239 that case general Craig's emoluments would have been greater than those of the present governor, as the old system of giving fees to the governor continued till the arrival of lord Macartney. He then defended the secretary for the colonial department from the charge of diverting the colonial revenues to the purposes of patronage. When the noble lord (earl Bathurst) first came into office he had introduced a bill to preclude himself from granting any colonial appointments to persons who did not reside in the respective colonies; he had reduced 3,500l. from the salary of the governor of the Cape; he had abolished the office of lieutenant governor, a place of 4,000l, a year, and also the great office of vendu master. Whenever sinecure offices became vacant, he gave sufficient salaries for the performance of the duties, and transferred the surplus to the revenue of the colonies. These were not the acts of a man who grasped at patronage. Since the peace, all the considerable appointments were given to officers on half-pay, who had no other means of subsistence. But the hon. member thought the half-pay officers had been used hardly by the foreign enlistment bill, which prevented them from improving their fortunes in South America. He (Mr. G.) believed that those who had gone to South America, had met with none of the anticipated blessings. And there was now a resolution of the government of that country, not to employ any more foreign officers, because their health would not bear the climate, and because they were too expensive. The right hon. member concluded by observing, that the change of military system since 1792 rendered more men necessary in the colonies. In 1792, men might be drafted from regiment to regiment, without being consulted. Now, they enlisted for particular regiments, and when necessary to send out the regiments as relief, they must reach the stations before their predecessors could be removed.
§ Mr. J. P. Grant
said, that looking at the force demanded for the new colonies—looking at the continued mis-government of Ireland, which made it necessary to maintain a greater force there than was formerly called for—allowing for these, and looking at the situation of the country, it appeared to him that there was an excess over the establishment of 1792, of 21,000 men. He contended, that where a force of 42,000 men had been found 1240 sufficient in 1792, there was now employed no less than 66,000. What was there, he would ask, that required an increase of troops to the extent of one-half more than the numbers called for by Mr. Pitt, in 1792? He had stated enough, prima facie, to prove that there was no necessity for this force; and he demanded of government to show some good and intelligible ground for making this call, not only oh the public purse, but on the constitutional feeling of that House. They were told that there were dépâts, that there were various arsenals and works, in which 6tores were collected; and this was stated as a reason why that part of the military force destined for Great Britain, which, in 1792, amounted to 16,000 men should now comprise 27,852 men. The whole force now called for ought to be reduced one-eighth. A reduction of 10,000 in 80,000 men, would leave more than enough to prevent any mischief that might be apprehended from a too rapid diminution of our military force.
Sir R. Fergusson
said, he would repeat his statement, that sir J. Craig being governor of the Cape in 1796, and finding that no allowance was made to him by government, did assign to himself 3,000l. a year, until the pleasure of government should be known upon the subject; sir James declaring that he thought that sum amply sufficient. What, then, was to be thought of the enormous salary; granted to the present governor, who, in addition to that salary, was in possession of a large farm, for the use of which he had the gratuitous labour of 40 slaves? The revenue of the present governor might be fairly estimated at 20,000l. a year. He thought it was most insulting to the country, when all ranks were distressed, to see an officer of this kind so disgracefully overpaid. If gentlemen looked to the number of offices in the colonies in 1792 and 1821, they would find that they were now increased in the proportion of ten to one; and they would also perceive, that the offices which were in existence in 1792 were now paid in a tenfold proportion. With respect to the Cape of Good Hope, he was ready to contend that it ought to defray all the expense of a peace establishment? One of the measures of government, with respect to the Cape, he highly disapproved of. He alluded to the disbanding of the Cape regiment. It was composed of Hottentots. Gentlemen might laugh at the idea of a Hot- 1241 tentot regiment, but there was not a more efficient corps in his majesty's service, and certainly not one that was half so cheap. He was undoubtedly averse, if it could be avoided, to placing officers on half pay; but still he thought it necessary that a reduction of the military force should be made—not from the regiments of the line, but from the household troops and the regiments of cavalry. He could not help saying that the character of British dragoons appeared to be wholly forgotten. The cavalry were now be-whiskered and be-lanced in a manner never before thought of. For what purpose was this imitation of the Polish horse introduced? Why did they not stick to the ancient British system, instead of aping foreign fashion in dress; and not content with that, aping the fashion of employing small horses? If this country were again unfortunately plunged in war, he would recommend the employment of one foreign regiment to act as lancers or hussars (if such a force must be kept up), being convinced that one such regiment would be much more effective, while it must be considerably less expensive, than a brigade of our own lancers or hussars, mounted as they have been heretofore.
vindicated the British cavalry against the imputations cast upon that corps by the gallant general, by quoting the opinion expressed by Buonaparte to a friend of his at St. Helena, with respect to the merits of this portion of our force. This opinion, from an authority which he presumed the gallant general was not disposed to disrespect, was peculiarly favourable to the conduct of the Scotch Greys, the Household troops, and to the Hussars also; at the battle of Waterloo, the latter having broken through a solid square of French infantry, while the French cavalry had never been able to make a breach in any similar square of the infantry of England. Yet the gallant general would have our hussars reduced, if not done away with, from considerations of economy. But it was most extraordinary to what excesses some gentlemen would urge government to go, under the profession of economy. One gentleman, indeed, seriously proposed to give up that great feather in our cap, Gibraltar, because, truly, we were unable to pay the expense of keeping it. But, whatever might be our national distress, he trusted that this great fortress would never be given up. The hon. member here took 1242 notice of an item in the estimates, granting 200l. a year to the widow of colonel Hill, of the 50th regiment, who met his death in the West Indies, by going into, an hospital to see how his men were attended to in the yellow fever, no other soldier being found willing to do so. He asked the House, whether, to save such trifles as these, they would refuse to support the widow of such a gallant main?
§ Sir R. Wilson
said, he had understood his gallant friend merely to say that our light cavalry were rendered less efficient on foreign service by the smallness of the horses on which they were mounted. In that opinion he concurred, and he thought that the light cavalry of this country was not a description of force that ought to be sent abroad. With regard to the Cape, he thought that the possession of it in time of peace was no benefit to England in a commercial point of view. But, even if it was to be retained, he was convinced that the British force stationed there at present was by far too considerable; 1,200 infantry and 300 cavalry could protect it just as effectually as the present force. He had also reason to believe that the governor of that fort was in the receipt of an enormous sum: he knew not what the present emoluments of the office were, but for several years they had been returned at 18,000l. per annum. He also agreed with his hon. friend in thinking that the Ionian Islands were so costly a possession, that the defence of them should never have been undertaken by this country; and he was sure that the longer they were retained the more we should find ourselves embarrassed by the possession, both politically and financially, and the more dissatisfied would both the Greeks and the Turks become. As to the relief of the troops on foreign stations, he was decidedly of opinion that no regiment should be obliged to remain longer than four years in the West Indies: for if they remained longer they became indifferent to their conduct; punishment was resorted to, to enforce discipline, and discipline was destroyed by the very excess of punishment. It was not necessary when these troops were relieved, that they should return to England; because they might be sent to India, or to other colonies. But the main question was, the proper amount of the force for Great Britain and Ireland: and when he saw on the estimates 48,000 independent of reliefs, he did think such a number very imposing. If the noble 1243 lord would consent to employ this force against the unprincipled crusade which had been commenced against the liberties of Naples, he should not object to the present number, great as it was. His opinion was, that, sooner or later, whatever might be the noble lord's present intentions, this country would be obliged to interfere; for it never could look tamely on a Russian fleet entering the Mediterranean, as he had reason to believe was at this moment intended, to take possession of Sicily.
§ Mr. Evans
said, he would support the amendment, because the distress of the nation was great, and he saw no prospect of its being relieved by the removal of any of the taxes. While the public expenditure exceeded the public income, and taxation was consequently oppressive, it was impossible that the population of the country could be contented and happy. Great Britain had a yeomanry force of 35,000 men, and with these he conceived that a small regular force, merely for the purpose of supplying reliefs to the troops on foreign stations, was sufficient. In the number of regulars employed in the colonies, a great reduction might also be made by means of a force analogous to our yeomanry and militia. This system had been tried in the West Indies, and he saw no reason why it might not be extended to our other colonies.
§ Sir F. Blake
intended to support the reduction of the army; but he would agree to vote for the larger number of men, if ministers would pledge themselves to a saving on the whole military expenditure, equal to the maintenance of 10,000 men. This would be a saving of 300,000l. a year; and if ministers would do that, he would not vote for the reduction of so many men.
said, he did not rise for the purpose of entering at length into the details of the question, but for the purpose of making a few observations upon what had been urged by those who supported the amendment. According to the returns it appeared that, exclusive of India, we had a force of 70,350 men, rank and file. Supposing that from this number 10,000 were to be deducted, there would remain 60,350 men. Allowing the army deficiencies to be 5,000 men, there would remain an effective force of 55,350 men for the home and colonial service. I Deduct from this the number of men ne- 1244 cessary for our colonial service, and there would remain but 29,850 men. Take from this 14,000 men, the number composing the life guards and cavalry, and there would remain 15,850 men for the service of Great Britain and Ireland, and also for the purpose of relieving an army of 50,000 men abroad. Now, he would leave it to any man acquainted with military matters, to state whether the service of the country could be efficiently performed with such a number of men.
rose solely for the purpose of correcting the palpable mistatements of the noble lord. He was surprised the noble lord could risk his credit upon assertions directly in the face of the returns. The Army Estimates proposed 81,000 men; from this number it was proposed that 10,000 men should be reduced, leaving 71,000 men to do the duty of the country. The noble lord had next gone to the exploded story about reliefs. Did not the noble lord take the dépâts of foreign stations into account? These depots amounted a short time ago to 5,500 men. As to India, it was out of the question, as the India Company were annually raising recruits in this country.
said, that when he stated the numbers of the original proposition to be 71,000, he had distinctly said rank and file, and was perfectly aware that, with the officers, it would amount to 81,000.
§ Lord Palmerston
, in allusion to the men necessary for reliefs, stated, that at this moment there were 1,900 troops on their pa>sage home from foreign stations, and 2,500 going out. This was a practical illustration of the arguments he had laid down to prove the necessity of allowing men for reliefs. The non-effectives at the present time also amounted to 3,000, and recruits 2,000, making upon the whole 9,000 men unfit for duty. It had been argued, that the militia might be called in aid of the public service, but every man who had read the Militia act, must know, that the militia could only be called out by proclamation.
§ Mr. Macdonald
briefly recapitulated the principal features of his opening speech; after which, he declared, that still retaining the opinion that a force of 100,000 men, after the reduction should be made that he contemplated, would be available to ministers at the shortest notice, he did consider that so strong and 1245 unanswerable a case had been made on on his side of the House, that lie should not do his duty to the country if he did not take the sense of the committee on his amendment.
§ The Committee then divided: For the Amendment, 115. Against it, 211. Majority against the Amendment, 96.
|List of the Minority.|
|Abercromby, hon. J.||Lester, B. L.|
|Allen, J. H.||Lloyd, J. M.|
|Althorp, visc.||Lloyd, S.|
|Baillie, J.||Lushington, Dr.|
|Barham, J. F.||Maberly, John|
|Barnard, visc.||Maberly, W.|
|Barrett, S. M.||Martin, J.|
|Beaumont, T. W.||Mildmay,hon.P.St.J.|
|Becher, W. W.||Moore, Peter|
|Benett, John||Neville, hon. R.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Newport, sir J.|
|Benyon, Ben.||Nugent, lord|
|Bernal, R.||Ord, W.|
|Birch, J.||Ossulston, lord|
|Blake, sir F.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Boughey, sir J. F.||Palmer, col.|
|Bright, H.||Pares, Thos.|
|Bury, visc.||Parnell, sir H.|
|Buxton, T. F.||Phillips, G. B.|
|Calvert, N.||Phillips, G.|
|Calvert, C.||Power, R.|
|Carew, R. S.||Pym, Francis|
|Cherry, G. H.||Ramsbottom, J.|
|Clifton, visc.||Ricardo, David|
|Coffin, sir I.||Rice, T. S.|
|Colburne, N. R.||Ridley, sir M. W.|
|Corbett, P.||Robarts, G.|
|Creevey, Thos.||Robertson, A.|
|Crespigny, sir W. De||Robinson, sir G.|
|Crompton, Saml.||Rogers, E.|
|Davies, T. H.||Russell, R. G.|
|Denison, W. J.||Rowley, sir W.|
|Duncannon, visc.||Scudamore, R.|
|Dundas, hon. T.||Sebright, sir J.|
|Ellice, Edw.||Sefton, earl of|
|Evans, Wm.||Smith, hon. R.|
|Fergusson, sir R. C.||Smith, Robt.|
|Glenorchy, visc.||Smith, Geo.|
|Graham, S.||Smith, W.|
|Grant, J. P.||Smith, S.|
|Griffith, J. W.||Smith J.|
|Guise, sir W.||Smythe, J. H.|
|Hamilton, lord A.||Stanley, lord|
|Harbord, hon. E.||Stuart lord J.|
|Hill, lord A.||Sykes, D.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Taylor, M. A.|
|Honywood, W. P.||Tennyson, Charles|
|Hornby, E.||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Howard, hon. W.||Tremayne, J. H.|
|Hume, J.||Tulk, C. A.|
|Hutchinson, hon. C.||Warre, J. A.|
|James, Wm.||Webbe, Ed.|
|Jervoise, G. P.||Western, C. C.|
|Lambton, J. G.||Whitbread, S.|
|Lemon, sir W.||Whitmore, W.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Williams, T. P.|
|Wood, M.||Macdonald, Jas.|
§ A second division took place upon an Amendment moved by Mr. Dawson, for a reduction of 5,000 men: Ayes, 130. Noes, 195. Majority 65. The original resolution was then agreed to.