§ The House having resolved itself into a committee of supply,
§ Sir H. Hardinge
rose for the purpose of moving the Ordnance Estimates. He' observed, that he was not disposed to trouble the committee with any preliminary remarks on estimates, which, he trusted, would speak for themselves. Without any further preface, therefore, he would endeavour to give as clear an idea as possible of the subject, to which it was his duty to call the attention of the committee." That subject divided itself into three distinct heads—Ordnance, Barracks, and Commissariat of stores. And first, with respect to the Ordnance. The sum which it was proposed to vote this year for Ordnance was 978,342l.; 526 being 91,658l. less than the sum voted last year; namely, 1,070,000l. But, from that apparent diminution must be deducted 24,000l.; being the expense of the Ordnance Barracks in Great Britain and Ireland, which, since last year, had been transferred from the Ordnance Estimates to the Barrack branch of the department. The real diminution, therefore, of the Ordnance this year, as compared with last year, was 67,658l. The items under the general head of Ordnance were as follow:—In the ordinary expenses of the Ordnance there had been a diminution of 15,588l., consisting, among other items, of a reduction of about 6,000l. in the civil establishments at the Tower and Pall-mall; a reduction of above 1,500l. in the expense of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich; a reduction of 3,000l. in the Medical Establishment, &c. In the extraordinary expenses of the Ordnance there was the great diminution of 54,940l. This, in a great measure, arose from a diminution of expense in the repair of works and buildings in the Engineer department. Although this was very satisfactory as far as it went, yet he could not hope that the reduction would be a permanent one; for, during the last year, the repairs had been so small, that what was absolutely requisite had scarcely been done; so that this sum must be considered as a suspension rather than a reduction of expense. There was a saving of 5,000l. in the Storekeeper's department; 6,000l. less than last year had been expended in Stores; and 1,500l. less in small arms. The Ordnance unprovided services amounted only to 1,090l.; being 9,572l. less than the amount last year, namely, 10,662l. For the small amount of the Ordnance unprovided services in the present year the public were indebted to the new mode of keeping short accounts, introduced by the master-general. This was the more desirable, as considerable jealousy had always been shown in the House, with reference to this particular estimate. These three items, the Ordinary, the Extraordinaries, and the Unprovided, closed the charges for the effective part of the Ordnance in England. The expense of the effective part of the Ordnance for Ireland was 89,768l., being 10,465l. less than that of last year, namely 100,233l. The total charge of the effective part of the Ordnance for Great Britain and Ireland amounted to 757,662l. being 60,565l. less than the expense last 527 year, namely, 848,227l. This sum of 757,662l. by the deduction of 141,432l. on account of rents, sales of old stores, savings, and unexpended sums of former grants, in England and Ireland, would be made 616,230l. To this were to be added three further items. The Military Superannuated 312,572l., being 5,580l. less than the charge last year; namely, 318,152l.—a diminution principally attributable to the reduction of twenty-four ordnance barracks. The Civil Superannuated 48,140l.; being 1,935l. less than the charge last year, namely, 50,075l. In this department, a great reduction had been effected by the Master-general of the Ordnance; 230 clerks having been reduced. By that reduction, the labour of those who remained had been greatly increased; still the old allowances and gratuities were diminished. By these means a great saving had been effected. The last item was the Exchequer fees, 1,400l., being 66l. less than they were last year; namely, 1,466l. If all these items were added together, it would appear, that the gross sum which it was proposed to vote for the Ordnance for the service of the year 1824, was 1,410,044l.
The next portion of the estimates to which he would draw the attention of the committee, consisted of the Barrack estimates. In these estimates, although there appeared to be an excess beyond the last year, there was in fact, a small diminution. The sum which it was proposed to vote was 114,531l.; that voted last year, was 100,000l.; being an apparent increase of 14,531l. It must be recollected, however, that the ordnance barracks, the charge for which in Great Britain was 19,000l. had been transferred to this department; so that in fact, the expense was less by 4,500l. than last year. This reduction had been principally effected by the abolition of 11 barrack stations. During the war, there were barracks for 167,000 men; but they were now reduced to barracks for 42,000 men; being a reduction of barracks for 125,000 men. The expense of the barracks during the war, was 620,000l.; the present charge was 121,614l.; being a diminution of nearly half a million. The other items of the barrack estimates were, 14,736l. for pensions and allowances, being 406l. less than the sum voted last year, namely, 15,142l., and 181l. for Exchequer fees. The deductions for savings, condemned stores, rents of canteens, &c. was 22,000l. being 528 a credit of 4,000l. more than that of last year, which was only 18,000l. The result of the whole of the Barrack estimates for Great Britain was, as he had already stated, the proposed vote for 114,531l. The vote which it was intended to propose for the barracks in Ireland was 134,376l.; being an apparent increase of 23,258l. upon the charge of last year, namely, 111,118l. If, however, they deducted the 5,000l. of expense which resulted from the transfer of the ordnance barracks to this department, it would appear, that the real excess was little more than 18,000l. The cause of this increased expense had been the extensive repairs which the barracks in Ireland had undergone. During the last summer a commission of inspection, composed of engineer officers of great skill and experience, had visited the various barrack stations in that country; and it was in consequence of their report, that the repairs to which he had alluded had been undertaken. A considerable reduction had, however, been made in the number of barracks in Ireland since the war. During the war, there were barracks for 80,000 men in Ireland. Now, there were barracks only for 36,000 men; to which, however, were to be added 3,000 in small houses. The total charge of the barrack department for Great Britain and Ireland, for the present year, was 248,907l.; that for the last year was 211,118l.; being an increase of 37,789l.; for which, however, he trusted he had satisfactorily accounted.
He now came to the last head of charge; the Commissariat of stores. The sum which it was proposed to vote for the Commissariat of stores was 182,795l.; being 90,717l. more than the sum voted last year, namely, 92,078l. This increase arose from various causes, which he trusted the committee would sanction with their approbation. One of these additional items was the sum of 24,000l. for the expense of 12,000 single iron bedsteads, including new bedding, and the alteration of bedding in store from double to single. At present, and during the war, the soldiers in barracks both in England and in Ireland, were in double births. To continue such a system during peace, however, was not thought desirable; and it was for the purpose of affording to every soldier decent accommodation, that these single iron bedsteads had been procured. These bedsteads were placed on stages, composed of boards; so that five 529 soldiers slept one above another. The next item by which the increase had been produced in the Commissariat of stores, was above 40,000l. for stores, not used for military purposes. They were principally for the convicts in New South "Wales, for Sierra Leone, and for other colonial purposes; and the issue of them was sanctioned by the Treasury. These two items of beds and stores sufficiently accounted for a large portion of the excess of expense in the Commissariat of stores branch of the Ordnance. Having thus gone through the various divisions of the estimates, he would not trespass longer upon the patience of the committee, but would conclude by moving his first resolution, viz—"That the sum of 47,233l. be granted to his majesty, for defraying the salaries to the master-general, and the principal officers, and the salaries, and increased salaries for length of service, to clerks, and attendants belonging to the office of Ordnance, and employed at the Tower and Pall Mall, for the year 1824."
§ Mr. Hume
observed, that he must do the hon. and gallant officer the justice to say, that in many respects the Ordnance estimates of the present year were much superior, in point of arrangement, to any that had heretofore been prepared. Whatever difference of opinion there might be with respect to the amount of those estimates, whoever looked at them would immediately find himself capable of comprehending all the items and charges without the slightest difficulty. In that respect certainly great progress had been made in improvement, and so far much good had been secured to the public. He thought, however, he could very clearly prove to the committee, that the reduction which had taken place in the expenses of the Ordnance, was by no means so great as they had a right to expect. The committee of Finance, in the year 1817, had given what might be considered an approximation to what they considered was the reduction to be justly expected at certain periods, in every department of the public service. He held in his hand an abstract of the respective amount of the Ordnance estimates voted since the year 1817; and the committee would, perhaps, be surprised to learn, that the grant in 1819 (exclusive of the unprovided services) amounted only to 1,191,905l.; while the grant for the present year (with the same exclusion) was 1,118,684l. From the hon. and gallant 530 officer's statement, the committee would naturally have been induced to believe that a much larger reduction had been effected. With regard to the old stores, &c, he had always contended, that they ought not to be brought to this account. Why not follow, with regard to the Ordnance, the same course as that which was pursued with respect to the navy? The introduction of these old stores perplexed those who wished to make an accurate comparison of the different expense of the Ordnance in different years. In 1821, the amount of the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the Ordnance was 1,326,999l.; but, 232,000l. being deducted for old stores, the actual vole was only 1,094,999l. In the following year the amount of the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the Ordnance was 1,244,000l.; but as only 44,000l. was deducted for old stores, the actual vote was 1,200,000l.; being considerably more than that of the preceding year; although the real expenditure was considerably less. This showed the artificial inequality which this article of old stores produced, and which embarrassed any one who wished to make a fair comparison between the actual expenditure of different years. The estimate of 1819 (including the unprovided services) was 1,212,000l.; that of the present year (including the same) was 1,119,774l.; so that it appeared the Ordnance estimates of the present year were only 92,026l. less than the Ordnance estimates of the year 1819. He freely confesssed, that if we were to keep up our present preposterous military establishment, the Ordnance ought to be in a fair proportion to it; but, looking at the charge for the Ordnance in comparison with the charge for former years, it was greatly too much. The committee would, be very much surprised to find, that the proposed grant for the Ordnance estimates of the present year was three times as great as that of his golden era, the year 1792. Now, were the circumstances of the country such as to warrant this profusion? He would read to the committee a comparative statement of the Ordnance estimates laid before parliament in various different years. In 1792, they amounted to 444,001l.; in 1817, to 1,284,035l.; in 1819, to 1,212,000l.; in 1821,to 1,326.999l. in 1822, to 1,214,000l.; in 1823, to 1,217,920l.; and now, in the present year, to 1,119,774l.; being only about 92,000l. less than last year. He begged to ask 531 whether, after the report of the military commission, the House was not warranted in calling upon ministers to attend to its suggestions, and to reduce the charge of the civil establishment, for which no less a sum than 47,233l. was now to be voted. On former occasions, he had called upon the committee to refuse more than was thought necessary in 1796; but no measures had been yet taken to accomplish that object, by uniting the two establishments in Pall-mall and at the Tower, whereby alone a saving of between 17,000l. and 18,000l. annually might be effected. On this point ministers had shewn more than a usual degree of pertinacity. It might be remembered, that last year he had proposed to abolish the office of Lieutenant-general of the Ordnance, and the secretary at war had taken occasion to declare, that the business of the department could not go on without him; that his personal assistance at the Tower was absolutely necessary, and a great deal more, in order to shew that he could scarcely be spared for a single day. Now what had been the fact since that declaration? That high officer, whose duties were so important that his personal presence could not be dispensed with scarcely for a single day, had actually been absent not merely from London, but from England, during a large portion of the past year; he had taken up his residence in Portugal, and there he continued until the present moment. He (Mr. H.) had indeed understood, within a week or ten days, that a new lieutenant-general had been appointed. Whether such were or were not the fact, he did not know; but, if lord Beresford had recently resigned, the present seemed the most proper occasion that could be afforded, for considering the fitness of abolishing the place he had held. It was not to be disputed that he had been for several months together in Portugal; and he wished to be informed whether, during his absence, the business of his department had stood still; or whether it had proceeded in the usual way, just as if he had been upon the spot to lend his most important assistance? If the latter were true, it would only shew that he had been perfectly correct in saying, last year, that the office of lieutenant-general might be abolished, without the slightest injury, to the public service. Experience, therefore, had shewn that he was right, and he called upon the committee to support him in the amendment 532 he was now about to propose, being equally satisfied that it would turn out, in the end, to be well warranted. The military commissioners recommended, that the two establishments of Pall-mall and the Tower should be incorporated; but even separate as they were, what did the House think they had cost the country in 1796, the fourth year of war? The finance committee had reported the sum to be 15,500l.; but to prevent mistakes he had moved for the official return, by which it appeared, that, with some extra clerks, the charge for the Ordnance department, in 1796, was precisely 18,700l. What was the charge now, after a long established peace? 47,000l. The disproportion was enormous. If the country were ten times as rich as it was, and the national debt only one fourth its present amount, such an augmentation could not be justified. Did it appear that any thing was neglected in 1796? On the contrary, the whole department was conducted with as much regularity as at the present moment It was remarkable, that the present was the first occasion on which it had been said by ministers, that the estimates were reduced to the lowest possible amount; and it therefore became the committee, since the charge was now to be permanent, to take the utmost care that it did not exceed the proper bounds. He was willing to allow 36,000l.—twice the sum voted in 1796. All beyond was unreasonable and needless. If the committee would consent to an amendment to this effect, he would venture to predict, that the whole establishment would be re-modelled in less than a week; and until something of this sort were done, which would trench upon head quarters, no change for the public benefit could be expected. He freely admitted, that he did not consider the clerk of the Ordnance overpaid; but the office of principal storekeeper was wholly useless, and had been so reported by the commissioners. There always existed a strong desire to raise charges, but never a disposition to reduce them; as an instance of this he might refer to the price of admission to see the armoury in the Tower. The fee which, in 1806 was only 1s. was raised suddenly by colonel M'Mahon to 2s. for the entrance of each person; so it had continued, and nearly 1,800l. annually were paid to the principal store-keeper from this source. The whole sum received yearly on this account might be calculated at 4,000l., 533 and 14s. out of every pound belonged to the principal store-keeper; the remaining 6s. were divided among the inferior attendants. The hon. gentleman concluded by moving by way of amendment, "That instead of the sum of 47,000l. only 37,000l. be granted," which would allow for the expenses of the civil establishment of the Ordnance more than double the amount voted in 1796.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
thought, that the reduction in the number of the clerks in Pall-mall, and at the Tower, had been quite as great as the quantity of public business would allow. In 1818, the number of clerks was 187, since which time no less than 26 had been removed, although the barrack and commissariat departments had both been transferred to the Ordnance. As to the objection made by the hon. member respecting the old stores, he begged to point out that this was the mode particularly recommended by the military finance committee, and had been adopted in consequence of that recommendation. With respect to the absence of the Lieutenant-general, he could assure the committee that, although the noble lord had been unavoidably absent on private business, the conduct of the Board of Ordnance had been perfectly justifiable. It was well known, that lord Beresford had been connected with the Portuguese Government, and had commanded the Portuguese army. For some time he was separated from it, and on his return from Rio Janeiro, he was not allowed to land at Lisbon. He came to England, and when a favourable opportunity offered, he applied to be allowed to return to Portugal. He went thither in the beginning of October, and about the end of November, the Master-general of the Ordnance wrote to lord Beresford, stating that it would be exceedingly desirable that he should return before the end of December, because the duties of the Lieutenant-general pressed very heavily upon the Master-general, and other members of the Board. Lord Beresford had written back, that he could not arrange his private affairs so soon, and therefore that he must resign. Upon him, therefore, there did not rest the slightest imputation. The duties of his office might be considered in a two-fold light: first it was the business of the Lieutenant-general to act in the absence of the Master-general; and secondly, he had to discharge his own functions as a Board Offi- 534 cer. The Master-general never having been absent, no inconvenience had arisen from the first; but, as to the second, the additional labour that had fallen upon the Master-general and others had been severely felt. His gallant friend behind him (sir Ulysses Burgh) and himself had been compelled, in consequence, to labour from eight to ten hours a-day. If he were asked, why the resignation of lord Beresford had not been accepted in December? he should reply, that the noble lord had shewn himself so useful and efficient in his office, that the Master-general was most reluctant to part with his services. Finding, however, very recently, by a letter from Lisbon, that lord Beresford could fix no early period for his return, his resignation was accepted, and sir George Murray had last week been submitted to his Majesty as a fit person to discharge the duties of Lieutenant-general of the Ordnance. That appointment had since received the approbation of his Majesty. It would be presumptuous in him to advert to the distinguished merits of that officer. He could, however, most conscientiously declare, that if the Lieutenant-general were not an officer of ability and experience, the inferiors of the department would be obliged to refer to the Master-general. As to the union of the two establishments at Pall-mall and the Tower, at neither place could the clerks and officers of both be accommodated. The heavier stores, as had been suggested, tied been removed from the Tower to Woolwich, but the others still remained at the Tower. On the subject of economy in the Ordnance, it appeared, by the admission of the hon. member for Montrose himself, that since 1819, there had been a saving of 90,000l. in the department. In the present year, the estimates were 90,000l. lower than those voted in the last session, so that there did not seem to be much room for complaint on the part of those who urged a further diminution of expenditure.
§ Mr. Hume,
in reply, said, that he had expected to hear some reason assigned for the magnitude of the establishment of the Ordnance, being reduced as it was to what was termed by the gallant officer the lowest amount. No reply had been attempted to what he had advanced as to the propriety of further economy, it was no answer to say, that 90,000l. had been saved since 1819, when at the present moment the charge was nearly three 535 times as heavy as it ought to be, and as it had been in 1796. What he wished to hear was, how many clerks and officers performed the business of the Ordnance in 1796 or 1798, and, if more were wanted in 1824, what additional business had been thrown upon the establishment to render the increased number necessary? The gallant officer had stated that the Barrack and Commissariat Departments had been joined to that of the Ordnance, and this was unquestionably true; but it was not less true that 2,514l. for the first, and 3,590l. for the last, had been allowed yearly to pay for persons to discharge the new duties. What the gallant officer had said was, therefore, in truth no answer to his objection. As to the private conduct of lord Beresford, he had never alluded to it; he had no reason to allude to it; his public conduct only was here in question. He had only said, that, if the noble lord could be absent from the duties of his most important office for five months in succession, it fully justified the resolution proposed last year, declaring that the office was a needless expense to the public, as, whatever was to be done could be performed by the Master-general, or by other members of the Board. The fact had turned out to be so; for the Master-general, and his coadjutors had fulfilled all the arduous and important duties of the Lieutenant-general and their own into the bargain.
§ The committee then divided—For the Amendment, 19—For the Original Resolution, 89—Majority 70.
|List of the Minority.|
|Allan, J. H.||Martin, J.|
|Althorp, viscount||Monck, J. B.|
|Benyon, B.||Newport, sir J.|
|Davies, T.||Rickford, W.|
|Grenfell, P.||Smith, J.|
|Haldimand, W.||Sykes, D.|
|Heron, sir R.||Tierney, right hon. G.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Wood, M.|
|Leycester, R.||Hume, Joseph|
|Maberly, W. L.|
§ On the resolution, "That 35,841l. be granted for the salaries to the several civil establishments of the office of Ordnance at the Home and Foreign Stations,"
§ Mr. Hume
called the attention of the committee to the sums included in this last resolution, for officers of the Ordnance in the Islands of Zante and Corfu. This country ought not to be called upon to make good this sum; inasmuch as by a 536 specific treaty, the revenues of the islands were responsible for that purpose. Those revenues were amply sufficient, and ought to be so applied.
On the resolution, "That 247,208l. be granted, for defraying the expenses of the Royal Regiment of Artillery for Great Britain,"
§ Mr. Hume
begged to repeat briefly the objections he had formerly urged to the vote for so large a sum of money for such a purpose. He thought the numbers of the corps of artillery a great deal too large. It was happily never wanted at home, was never likely to be wanted, and was not sent abroad; so that, in fact, in time of peace, it was wholly useless, and a needless expense to the country. There were 5,691 artillery, besides supernumeraries, making in the whole a force of 7,256 men. This establishment was, at the present moment, considerably more than double what it had been at the beginning of the last French war. The artillery could not be of the slightest use without a large regular army; and if three or four battalions were reduced, there would still remain a larger proportion than was at all necessary for the present amount of the army of the empire. He did not complain of the artillery, which was a most efficient body; but there might be too much of a good thing, and a very considerable reduction might be effected, to bring it to the proportion of the rest of our military establishment.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
defended the propriety of keeping a large body of artillery on foot. It was a corps of all others the most difficult to raise. If a war broke out, it could not be created in a moment; and therefore it was necessary to have a considerable force of that description in readiness.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he founded his objection on the statement of ministers, who had declared that there was no chance of war. They denied that a war was at all likely to occur; and therefore there was no necessity for such a force.
On the resolution, "That 29,590l. be granted, for defraying the expense of the Brigade of Royal Horse Artillery, and also a Rocket and a Riding House troop,"
§ Mr. Hume
wished to ask for some explanation as to the circumstances under which sir Benjamin Bloomfield had been brought back to the artillery corps, and had been taken from half-pay to the com- 537 mand of a battalion. This step he understood had created considerable dissatisfaction. Sir Benjamin had long retired from active service in the corps, and was now serving as an ambassador abroad, and was put over the head of other officers of much greater service in the corps. He wished to know how this had happened, and whether sir Benjamin had a right to this promotion under the regulation of the service.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, that by the regulation of 1814, it was arranged, that the officers of the horse-artillery, should succeed to the brigade, not according to their regimental rank in the corps, but with reference to their brevet rank in the army. In 1818, the Master-general thought it advisable to alter that arrangement. When the death of the commander of the brigade took place, sir B. Bloom-field was, from his rank in the army, the officer next entitled to the command; and as the Master-general felt, that the new regulation would have a retrospective effect with reference to him, he, from a sense of justice, declined enforcing it. It was, however, now settled, that officers should succeed to battalions, according to their rank in the corps, coupled with their general merits.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he understood a new system had been lately adopted in the artillery. Individuals had been allowed to sell out, in order that others might receive promotion in that corps. He wished to know when that practice first took place; the promotions in consequence; and how far the public expense had been thereby increased.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, the authority to allow artillery officers to sell their commissions was granted last year, for the purpose of assisting the deplorably low state of promotion in that corps, without increasing the public burthens. It was permitted, that a certain number of artillery officers, who had served twenty years, might sell to officers of the line, they being unattached officers on half-pay. Ten lieutenant-colonels, one major, and three captains of the artillery had sold their commissions, which were purchased by officers of the line. The saving by the decrease of half-pay was, 2,463l., and the increase on the army list was, 2,564l., leaving a balance of 101l. Fifty-five officers of the artillery, and 14 officers of the army, had been benefitted by the plan, at the expense of 101l.
§ Mr. Hume
did not mean to blame the arrangement. He rather hoped, that the same benefit would be extended to an other corps, in which the promotion was in the same deplorable condition—.the marine corps. The statement of the number of years service of several members of this corps would surprise the House; and besides the slowness of the promotion, they had been deprived of 25,000l. a-year of sinecures (the colonelcies); and which it would be only just to give to the meritorious officers of that corps, instead of giving them to officers of the navy, however deserving they might be.
§ Sir G. Clerk
said, that on an application from some officers of the marine corps to the Admiralty, they had been informed, that a measure was in progress for their relief, of the same nature as that which had been applied to the artillery; and but for the indisposition of the noble lord at the head of the Admiralty, that measure would have been now in operation. The hon. member, had alluded, to certain honorary offices attached to the marine service, which were given to officers of the navy: but the hon. member should recollect that the naval officers who held these commissions gave up their half-pay, and it would be found that when that was taken; into account, instead of 25,000l. a-year, the expense was not more than 3 or 4,000l.; a sum which was well bestowed, to keep up the constitutional link between the marines and the navy, which was deemed of so much importance.
§ Sir I. Coffin
wished to remind the House, that four years ago, when the marines were increased to 8,000 men, the hon. member had opposed the increase, on the ground that it would "turn the navy into an army." He (sir I. Coffin) had said at that time, that the marines were a most valuable body of men, who had saved the fleet over and over again in mutinies. But for their steady loyalty, we should now have no navy.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that whatever the gallant admiral might think, there was no inconsistency in his opposition to the increase of the corps, and his present remarks. The corps had been distinguished 539 for its loyalty and services, and had had the title of "Royal" bestowed on it, on account of their conduct at the time of the mutiny: and yet they had received less reward and promotion than any other corps. He wished to see them well treated, but yet he did hot want to see their numbers increased. There were now 9,000 marines; and how many were there afloat? Perhaps not 2,000. The rest, then, were an addition to the standing army. The treatment of them as to promotion was shameful. In seven years only eight or ten marine officers had been promoted; while, in the same time, there had been 7 or 800 promotions in the navy, and about the same number in the army.
§ Sir I. Coffin
said, it was absolutely necessary to have a large body of marines; for in the event of a war, the seamen that could be kept together, were only in proportion to the number of marines. You could not put seamen on board without them; they would go in at one side, and out at the other. The hon. member knew nothing about them. How the devil should he (sir I. Coffin) dislike the marines? Had he not served with them forty years? They were most useful to the navy, and had saved the fleet over and over again.
On the resolution, "That 4,570l. be granted for defraying the expenses of the establishment of the civil officers, professors, and masters of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich,"
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, that the reduction in the number of cadets was not inconsiderable. Last year, there had been 150. There were now 127, though there were 130 mentioned in the estimates. There were many young gentlemen, who had been educated at the academy, who were highly qualified, and for whom it was yet impossible to find commissions. There had been 108 vacancies in the artillery since the peace, which would have been sufficient to have supplied all the gentlemen who were qualified, with commissions; but so great a number of officers had been brought from half to full pay, that it was impossible to bestow 540 commissions on the cadets. This arose from the system of reduction which parliament had determined to adopt. In no former peace, had any officers of the artillery or engineers been put upon half-pay.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he by no means complained of the government, that they could not find commissions for these young men. They acted much better in giving them to the officers on half-pay, who were entitled to them. What he complained of was, that they should go to the expense of educating boys, to whom they only held out expectations which they could not realize.
On the resolution, "That 75,524l. be granted for defraying the extraordinaries of the Office of Ordnance, for the year 1824, after deducting 139,000l. on account of savings and unexpended sums of former grants, and also of presumed sales of old stores, lands, buildings, &c,"
§ Mr. Hume
wished to call the attention of the committee to the various charges for the fortifications, &c. of those islands and colonies, no part of the revenue of which was brought to the credit of the general revenue of the empire, but was all expended on governors, secretaries, and local officers. He thought a general inquiry should be instituted into the means of those colonies to bear a portion of the expenses which were now charged on the people of this country. The sums, taken separately, in these estimates, were not large; there was 1,374l. for Guernsey, 1,671l. for Jersey, and so on, but, taken altogether, they formed a considerable sum. As the Ordnance branch of the expenditure of these islands formed a very small part of the whole, he should not now press the subject; though he had no doubt that a committee of the House could find the means of relieving the country from the entire expense. For the establishment at Feversham a sum of 2,031l. 9s. 9d. was set down. He was convinced, that the works there were utterly useless, and could never be used as powder-mills again. As to the sum set down for the expenses of Canada, he wished to know what difficulty there was in Canada paying the expense of its own establishments? We took nothing from Canada in the shape of taxes, and yet we paid all the expense of its military establishments. This was perfectly unnecessary. If we gave Canada a free government, the people would be quite ready to 541 relieve this country from the expense. As to the Ionian Islands, the charge on this country was most unjust. This country had nothing to do with the Ionian isles. The Greeks who lived there should defend them, and would be leady to do so. They now cost 25,000l.; he was quite satisfied they need not cost a single pound. However, he should not now propose any amendment. Considerable reductions had been made; and, next year, he hoped to get further considerable reductions.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, a third of the survey of Great Britain had been printed; two-thirds were completed, the whole of the country had been triangulated, and the work would probably be complete in three years.
§ Sir J. Newport
wished to know whether the long projected survey of Ireland was to take place on the trigonometrical plan. If they were to wail as long for this survey of Ireland, as they had done for the completion of the same survey in Great Britain, he should protest against the measure. Valuable as the survey of Ireland would be for the distribution of the grand jury assessment—in other words, for equalizing the taxation of Ireland-he thought the trigonometrical plan perfectly inapplicable. When completed it would be nearly a nullity and of little use, compared with a parochial survey and valuation.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that, as a motion was soon to be brought forward on the subject of a survey of Ireland, it would not be necessary for him to enter into explanations, further than to say, that the government was satisfied of the necessity of the measure; that they had communicated with the Master-general of the ordnance on the subject, who had made arrangements for carrying through the survey with a rapidity far exceeding that with which the work had proceeded in England.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, it was now nine years since he had brought down a recommendation from a committee for this survey. He was about to bring in a bill on the subject, when the government undertook to proceed with the measure; but not one step had yet been made.
Mr. D. Gilbert
said, that the trigonometrical survey of Ireland, singly taken, would give a very insufficient idea of the value of the country. It would, however, be a considerable step. He thought the country might be triangulated in one year. The details would be afterwards filled in by degrees. The survey of Great Britain had been most creditable to the officers engaged in it, and had raised the country in the eyes of the scientific world.
§ Colonel Trench
was glad to find the survey was to be undertaken in a scientific way; which would be much superior to the loose parochial surveys.
On the resolution, "That 312,572l. be granted for the charge of the office of Ordnance, on account of allowances to Superannuated, Retired, and Half-pay Officers, &c,"
§ Mr. Hume
objected to the unnecessary-expense imposed upon the public for keeping up the powder-mills at Ballin-collig, in Ireland. He wished to know whether it was the intention of ministers to persevere in their demands for that establishment from year to year? It appeared that the public paid 1,200l. a year rent for those mills, in addition to which it cost 950l. a year to pay the superintending officers. The whole was completely useless in a period of profound peace.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
stated, that the superintending officer was a man of great talent and experience, who had obtained the appointment with an allowance of 600l. a year. This was the provision made by government for his services; so that the mills could not be given up without a breach of that agreement.
§ Sir J. Newport
did not deny the talents of the officer alluded to, but he denied that such a consideration could justify the government in keeping up a set of mills at a large expense, which were found to be wholly unnecessary. The proper mode of rewarding his services would be by a pension, and not by an agreement of the kind alluded to.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, it was not in the power of the Board of Ordnance to break the agreement with him, on the faith of which he received 600l. a year.
On the resolution, "That 1,400l. be granted, for defraying the expenses of sums to be paid at the Treasury, and at the Exchequer, for fees, on the amount of the Ordnance Estimates,"
§ Mr. Hume
asked the hon. secretary for the Treasury, whether the country was ever to be released from the absurd practice of paying its own servants an extra salary for doing their own business? It was strange indeed, that the Treasury could not disburse the public money without exacting fees for it. Besides this vote of 1,400l. nearly 30,000l. had been voted away in the Army estimates for the payment of these same fees. He considered such payment to be a dead loss to the country, as well as the occasion of great complexity in the accounts of the various departments. He had understood the chancellor of the Exchequer to say, on a former occasion, that the whole subject of fees taken by the Treasury was now under consideration. Might he ask what was decided on, with regard to these particular fees?
said, that the chancellor of the Exchequer had been obliged by indisposition to leave the House, and that the subject referred to was one of such difficulty that he was not himself exactly prepared to answer it. The hon. gentleman must recollect, that some of those fees, were established by patent, and that therefore the persons to whom they were payable had such a vested interest in them as prevented their immediate abolition. Others of them were paid on other grounds to which it was unnecessary for him to allude further than to say, that considerable delicacy ought to be used in meddling with them. With regard to the complexity of the public accounts, he could only say, that it was the earnest wish of the chancellor of the Exchequer to simplify them as much as possible.
said, that the hon. member did not appear to be aware, that many of these fees were very beneficial to the public, and absolutely made up a fund out of which many contingent services in the Treasury were paid. The subject was of a complicated nature, and he therefore trusted that the hon. member would not be surprised that he did not give him any further answer in the absence of the chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that so long as these 544 fees should continue to be taken, the House would never be able to learn the exact expenditure in each department of the public service.
On the resolution, "That 114,531l. be granted, for defraying the charge of the Ordnance barrack-department in Great Britain,"
§ Mr. Hume
said, he could not allow such a sum to be voted without some observation. The House was not aware of the situation in which the country was placed, from its being studded all over with barracks as it was at present. In the year 1797, when we had as many troops as at the present moment, the whole expense for barracks only amounted to 29,000l. for Great Britain, and 12,000l. for Ireland. He thought it wrong that the extraordinary scale on which things had been carried during the extraordinary war in which we had recently been engaged, should be continued during a period of profound peace. The House was now called upon to vote a sum for these barracks which was much above the average sum voted in any year from 1817 to 1823. He had formerly contended, and he must still persist in contending, that if the government were determined to keep up its barracks in an untenanted condition, it ought to keep them up at the least possible expense, and that it ought not to pay fifteen or sixteen shillings a day to barrack-masters, when it could find half-pay officers willing and even joyful to perform the duties at 5s. a day. He was of opinion that the country ought to be relieved from the payment of half the sum voted for this purpose. He likewise objected to the payment of 65,000l. for the repair of barracks. What was there in the state of England which required such a sum to be expended on such an object at the present moment? He could see no reason for granting 7,000l. for erecting a riding-school at St. John's-wood, after the sums which had been expended on the riding-school at Pimlico. Unless he received a satisfactory explanation regarding the expense incurred for the repair of barracks, the payment of barrack-masters, and the riding-school at St. John's-wood, he should be obliged to offer to the House some amendment on the present grant.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, that the barrack-masters were paid as low as they could be, consistently with the purpose of keeping them respectable; for no one who 545 considered the importance of having persons of some station and character in these situations would object to ten, seven, and five shillings a day as being extravagant. With regard to the buildings, if they were to be kept up at all, they ought to be kept in repair; and he could assure the hon. gentleman, that the estimates had been taken at the lowest possible scale, and by persons in every way qualified to discharge their duty to the public. If, however, contrary to his opinion, any fraud had been committed, the Board of Ordnance would be much obliged to the hon. member if he would point out the case, and by so doing enable them to correct it. His objections to the amount were so general that it was impossible to answer them; but if he would particularise any case of excess, that item might be either explained or remedied. The establishment at St. John's Wood was considered necessary as a branch of useful military instruction, and the whole expense was 5,000l. for the Riding-school, and 2,000l. for the repairs of the barracks already built in the neighbourhood.
thought, that the barrack-masters were immoderately paid, especially as, in many instances, they were attached to barracks where there was no troops. It would, he thought, be for the benefit of the country that such barracks should be deserted altogether, and allowed to go to ruin. The hon. baronet had challenged them to put their fingers upon items. The task was not easy, as they had not the details before them; but perhaps, if they were furnished with as minute particulars as it was in the power of government to afford them, many items of gross extravagance would appear. He was surprised to find the sum of 84,000l. demanded for barracks in Ireland, where the army were mostly quartered, and where, from the very nature of the service, it seemed necessary that they should be so. Whatever credit ministers might take to themselves for any reductions that had taken place, if the House did not continue to attend to these matters, abuses would rise up, and the old extravagance would soon return to all the departments.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
observed, that the repairs of the Irish barracks were made under the inspection of a committee, and if government had taken care to send over gentlemen of great experience and 546 honour, what better security could they have that the estimates were correct It was impossible that the hon. gentleman could judge of their proceedings, however minute the items laid before him, unless he was on the spot to which such items referred. As to the employment of officers in the situation of barrack-masters, it should be recollected, that according to the regulation, they could not retain their half-pay on accepting such appointments.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, he would appeal to any military officer, whether many of the barracks in Ireland were not improperly constructed. A great number of them had been built during the last fourteen years, and if they had been well built, could scarcely have required such I incessant and expensive repairs.
§ Mr. Goulburn
wished to remind the right hon. baronet, and those who had spoken on the same side, that they had no want of intelligence to complain of It was only last session, or the session before, that a detailed statement was laid on the table of the House, containing all the particulars connected with every barrack in the kingdom. Besides, a reduction of the barracks had taken place in Ireland since the war: during the war, there was accommodation for 87,000 men; whereas now there was only accommodation for 36,000.
rose to make some remarks on a subject which was particularly interesting to his constituents, and on which he had before put a question to the secretary of war. Seeing an excess of expenditure, amounting this year to 14,000l. more than last year for the barrack department, he begged again to draw the attention of his majesty's ministers to the barracks in the King's Mews. He wished them to reconsider this question. The people of Westminster were much alive to it. He wished the government should I take no measures to repair the Mews. He knew it was too late to discuss the constitutional question which this involved; and, indeed, the noble secretary at war had the other night given him a proper lesson about introducing a subject at an improper time. He felt, indeed, that it was wrong to discuss things out of their place, and that a good cause was often injured by being brought forward at a wrong time. A few years ago, nineteen or twenty votes might be obtained on the constitutional question of having barracks 547 at all; but now scarcely one could be got [hear! and a laugh]. The country did not now mind these things, and thought that the principle which our ancestors had so strongly contended for, of not separating the soldier from the citizen, was of no manner of consequence. But, let them look at the consequences in point of expense. Since the year 1815, no less a sum than 1,299,000l. had been expended on barracks in England, and in Ireland no less a sum than 1,314,000l. making, together, for the single article of barracks, upwards of 2,600,000l.; and this too, let the House remember, at a period, when not only the country was enjoying the most profound tranquillity, but when they were assured, repeatedly assured, that the peace of Europe rested on a basis not to be shaken. This enormous sum was expended for doing that which no Englishman who called himself a freeman, or who valued hrs freedom, ought ever to permit to be done. Compliant as this House of Commons was, they must sometimes ask themselves to what extent this system was to be carried? How long were the King's Mews to be continued as barracks? How long were soldiers to be kept in the heart, and about the suburbs of this metropolis? He recollected very well the circumstances under which the soldiers were placed there; but they might be wanted for other occurrences, and they might be used for other occasions. It was now plain to every man, that the troops were kept in the midst of the city to be ready to act against the people. This was the single, the only motive, for placing them there; and he defied the gentlemen opposite to deny it. If they did—if they put forth any other pretext—no man would believe them, for every one would see it was void of all foundation. The House might depend on it—although there was no spirit now alive in the people to question this matter—the time would come, when they would find it insupportable to have barracks scattered over the whole country. There was now no excuse for it. The country was in a state of tranquillity, and Europe was at peace. They had been lately told by ministers, that the people were orderly, grateful, obedient, and happy: every thing that a government could wish. Why, then, he would ask, was this system of planting a military force throughout he country continued? That force, it was true, had done the work of their employers; but 548 here, as elsewhere, it might become fatal to them. But he would not now discuss this great constitutional question; he would confine himself to the question of converting the Mews into barracks. This was a great evil to the city of Westminster. Many of the citizens did not like to have? soldiers in their vicinity. They were disturbed at night, and in the morning, by drums beating, and other things which, though deemed necessary to military discipline, were a great annoyance in civil life This was a thing which ought not, for a moment, to be allowed, and a petition had been prepared against it by the inhabitants of Westminster. He had thought it better, however, not to present it, until the great constitutional question came before the House. He doubted if the government had a right to convert the Mews into barracks. There was a thoroughfare through them which had been so long a custom, that the Crown had no right to stop it. Property in that neighbourhood had been very much injured by this proceeding; and he knew several persona who had left their houses, because they were no longer profitable, and who had been obliged to seek a living in another neighbourhood. He should not at present go further into the matter; but he was bound to tell the House, before they voted. 114,000l. for barracks, that the spot to which he had alluded was chosen in opposition to the best feelings of the people. There was an excess this year over the vote of last year of 14,000l. for the two countries, and for this excess he saw no reason whatever.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, that the hon. member had made his whole speech under a mistake. It was true there was an estimate of 14,531l. more for barracks, but if the hon. member would turn to page 29, and look at the note, he would find that the Ordnance Barrack expenditure for Great Britain for 1824, had been transferred to this estimate, amounting to 16,500l., so that there was not an excess, but a saving of 2,000l. When the hon. member talked of the military being kept in barracks, though he (sir H. H.) was as. little disposed to discuss the constitutional question as the hon. member, and could not flatter himself with being able to do it so well, yet he begged to ask him, who it was that wished the soldiers to be separated from the people? who but the people themselves? Did they not, in. Charles the First's, reign, petition that, 549 soldiers should not be billetted on them? Did they not put it in the Bill of Rights? But, would the hon. member who was so jealous of the soldiers send them to learn patriotism, honour, and morality in the pot-houses of Westminster? Would the soldiers be made better freemen by being billetted on a parcel of tap-houses in the purlieus of Westminster, which were notorious haunts for all kinds of profligacy, beggar, and vice? If the barracks were thrown down, and the soldiers were billetted in these houses, many respectable men, many who now came into the army from the country, would be compelled to associate with the dregs of the metropolis. For the benefit of the country, as well as for the discipline of the army, he thought it not right to throw down the barracks.
Sir R. Heron
said, that all the mischief arose, not from the soldiers being billeted on public-houses, but from so large a standing army being kept up in time of peace, and collected in such great numbers in and about London, to overawe its population.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that an attempt had been made to fix a mistake on his hon. friend, without any good ground. The vote for this year was 136,351l., while the vote for last year was 118,000l.; then it must be recollected, that 20,000l. must be deducted for old stores, &c. with which the House had nothing to do. For these old stores, rent of canteens, &c. the amount was 4,000l. more than last year; so that, in fact, the expense, instead of being less, as stated by the gallant officer, was considerably more even than it had been stated to be by his hon. friend. The amount this year for Great Britain alone, as slated at page 29, was 136,531l. making an aggregate for two years only of upwards of 250,000l. He should move to reduce this estimate. There was 7,000l. appropriated for a riding school at St. John's Wood, which was unnecessary, and he thought 7,000l. might be cut off from the barrack-masters. He was for taking off this 14,000l., and would therefore move, that instead of 114,531l., 100,531l. be substituted.
§ On this question the House divided; when there appeared, for the Amendment, 38; Against it, 95; Majority, 57.
|List of the Minority.|
|Allan, J. H.||Bright, H,|
|Althorp, viscount.||Denman, T.|
|Baring, A.||Evans, W.|
|Bernal, R.||Guise, sir B. W.|
|Haldimand, W.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Philips, G. H. jun.|
|Heron, sir R.||Price, R.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||Pym, F.|
|Honywood, W. P.||Portman, E. B.|
|James, W.||Rickford, W.|
|Jervoise, G. P.||Smith, J.|
|Johnstone, W.||Smith, R.|
|Kemp, T.||Sykes, D.|
|Lockhart J. J.||Tierney, right hon. G.|
|Maberly, J.||Webbe, E.|
|Maberly, W. L.||Wood, Matthew|
|Martin, J.||Wyvill, M.|
|Monck, J. B.|
|Newman, R. W.||TELLER.|
|Newport, sir J.||Hume, J.|
§ On the resolution, "That 182,795l. be granted for defraying the charge of the Commissariat Store Branch of the Office of Ordnance,"
§ Mr. Hume
begged to have some explanation of a charge of 40,000l. on account of New South Wales, &c. So large a vote for any colony should be the subject of a separate item. Of course, this charge was not included in the specific estimate for New South Wales, and he wished to have some explanation what part of this 40,000l. was to be devoted to New South Wales, what to Sierra Leone, and what to presents to the Indian tribes.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, he could not give a detailed answer to the hon. gentleman's question. As to the stores to which the vote related, it seemed most advisable and beneficial for the public service, that they should be furnished from the commissariat department.
objected altogether to that branch of this department, which consisted in store-houses in London. The great depot for the army should be Woolwich. The store-houses in London were a very unnecessary expense. There would be a great saving by sending all the stores to Woolwich. There they might all be embarked at once on board ship, and a large army might be fitted out in a short time. The London establishments were absolutely useless, and were kept up, he believed, only to create influence. A heavy expense must necessarily be incurred, if stores that were to be sent abroad, and had to be procured at different parts of England, were sent first to London. They had no business to come to London at all, but ought to be sent direct to the port where they were to be shipped. If economy were at all desirable, he was sure these store-houses should be done away. By getting rid of this branch of the com- 551 missariat, and the foreign-store houses, a great sum might be saved to the country.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
thought the hon. member was not correctly informed. It frequently happened, that great coats I were to be sent to one place, shoes to another, and hats to a third: and all such articles were necessarily sent to the place where the ship which was to take them on board was loading. Now, as this was in many cases the West or East India Docks, it would cost a great sum of money to employ lighters to bring these stores from Woolwich.
said, that the Tower stores had supplied all the small stores for the army during war, and were now sufficient for the purpose. He was sure that nine-tenths of the store-houses were at present unoccupied, and were kept up only for the sake of patronage. If the House really wished to abate expense, they would find ample opportunity of doing it by inquiring into the Commissariat, Store, and Ordnance departments.
§ The several resolutions were agreed to.