HC Deb 05 March 1830 vol 22 cc1317-9
The Chancellor of the Exchequer

moved, that the Report of the Committee of Supply be brought up, and it was brought up accordingly by Sir A. Grant.

The Resolutions were read by the Clerk. When he came to that fixing the number of the Army at 88,848 men,

Mr. Hume

said, that he was anxious to record his opinion on this subject, that, it might appear upon the Journals to what extent he wished the reductions in the Army to be carried. He would remind the hon. Members for Suffolk and York, who talked so loudly of the distresses of the country, that if they wished to obtain relief from taxation, they could only accomplish their object by reducing the present, overwhelming military establishment. The enormous numbers of the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, were the most oppressive burthen the nation had to sustain; for the pay must necessarily be in proportion to the establishments. He begged, therefore, to state what he thought, in the present state of the kingdom, would be the proper reduction. In 1792 the three regiments of Horse Guards amounted to 779 men: now they were 1,304 men. These he would reduce by 525 men. The Foot Guards, in 1792, were 3,756 men strong: now the number was 5,726 men; he would cut off all the increase. The Cavalry, in 1792, amounted to 5,409: now it was 7,157 men, that force ought to be brought back to its former state. The Household Troops, in 1799, were 6,554 men: now they were 14,118 men; in them there might be a reduction of 7564 men. All these excesses ought to be reduced so as to bring back the establishments to the standard of 1792. It was nothing more than was reasonable, and what the suffering people had a right to expect. These were not times when it was fit to keep up a large military force for the sake of empty show and vulgar parade. Neither did the internal state of the kingdom require the presence of a large standing army; and it would be still less necessary if, as he understood, the new police system, which had answered so well, were to be extended. Ireland too was tranquil, and might spare some of the military that had been kept in that country. The vote required was nominally for 88,000 men, but the effective force, he believed, would be about 81,000 men, and of these 10,000 might be easily spared; and for a reduction to that extent he begged to move an amendment.

Sir H. Hardinge

said, that as the hon. Member only wished to record his opinion, he should not delay the opportunity of doing so by making any answer to his observations.

On the Question being put, the Amendment was negatived, and the original Resolution carried.

When the Clerk arrived at the Vote for 29,000 Seamen and Marines for the Navy,

Lord Althorp

rose to put a question to the hon. and gallant admiral opposite. Shortly previous to the battle of Navarino a most brilliant action had occurred at Patras, no account of which had been inserted in the Gazette. The Turkish fleet of sixty vessels had sailed from Navarino to Patras; their entrance of that port was opposed by Sir E. Codrington, with only two frigates to support him, and he succeeded, against an immense superiority of force, in compelling the Turkish fleet to return. This affair was, in point of fact, the commencement of hostilities; and he wished to know why it had not found its way into the Gazette?

Sir G. Cockburn

regretted that the noble Lord had not given him notice that he meant to put the question, as he was at present unprepared with regard to the facts. He could say at once, that there was no reason for excluding it from the Gazette; and if it had not been inserted, it was because it was not such an affair as was usually thus recorded. Every thing that was right and proper had been done by Sir Edward Codrington; but it could hardly be called a brilliant action, except in intention. On the British ships insisting that the Turks should return to Navarino, they did return, and, according to the best of his memory, without a shot having been fired on either side.

Lord Althorp

observed, that shots were fired; the British ships had opened a fire upon the Turks.

Sir G. Cockburn

added, that according to his recollection, no such action had occurred, as it usually found its way into the Gazette. He would take care to inform himself on the subject against the next Supply-day.

Mr. Hume

wished to enter his protest against the vote for Seamen and Marines. The Finance Committee of 1817 had recommended that the whole amount of Seamen and Marines should be 19,000 men; yet the vote for the present year, after so long a continuation of peace, was not less than 29,000 men, at least 10,000 more men than ought to be granted.

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