§ The House re solved itself into Committee of Supply.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
rose to move the first Resolution; in doing which, and in bringing under the consideration of the Committee the Army Estimates for the present year, he regretted that, it being the first time that duty had devolved on him, that he should find himself under the necessity of proposing an increase of 6878 men instead of A diminution. That increase, however, was not founded upon any opinion on the part of his Majesty's Government that any armed intervention would be necessary. But when he looked at the state of England at the time the Government were called on to determine the amount of men requisite for the service of the current year, and also, when he looked at the state of Ireland, he could not but think that the House would agree with him, that the proposed increase did not exceed what the necessities of the country required. He was sure the House would see, that when the present Ministers were called to the direction of affairs, they were bound to take every possible precaution for the protection of the loyal and well-disposed portion of the community. He felt that he should not discharge his duty to the House, nor to his colleagues, if he did not, in the first instance, call attention to this fact, that the proposed augmentation did by no means involve increased patronage, owing mainly, he was bound to say, to the excellent arrangement introduced by his noble friend near him, when Secretary at War, by which facilities were afforded for the increasing the number of recruits, by lowering the standard. It had been suggested that a better mode would be, to embody the veteran battalions. On the most mature consideration, the Ministers had arrived at the conclusion, that not only the veteran battalions would be less efficient, but eventually more expensive. It should be recollected, also, that most of the veteran battalions were recruited under Mr. Wyndham's Act; that they would, therefore, be 805 entitled to increased pensions for every month they served. It was also to be recollected, that the half-pay list would be materially affected, by carrying such a project into effect, to say nothing; of the inconveniences which would be attendant upon the number of wives and children belonging to the veterans. He wished it to be understood, that the proposed increase of the army was to take place, by the addition of men to the companies, which might at any time be reduced. As to the precise matter then to be brought under the consideration of the Committee, it was confined to the fast eight votes, the ninth, relating solely to the Indian army, involved no increase of expense. The increased expense on the first eight votes was 199,966l.— there was an apparent increase of 210,000l.; but. deductions which were to be made from that, left it at the sum he had mentioned. With respect to the Volunteer and Yeomanry force, he certainly regretted the reduction which it had undergone in 1827, nor was he disposed to measure its utility simply by its service, in putting down actual disturbance, but also by the effect, which the knowledge that such a force could be immediately collected, and was at the command of persons of property and consideration, produced towards preventing and checking a disposition to riot. There would be then an expense of 136,000l. for the additional land forces, and nearly 72,000l. for the Volunteer and Yeomanry corps; but it was to be observed, that this was not to be an annual expense; and as for the sum of 50,000l., stated in the Estimates, it would be spread over a period of three years, in the shape of allowances. The right hon. Gentleman complimented the late Secretary at War (Sir H. Hardinge), upon the beneficial alterations he had introduced, upon which it would be the less necessary for him to enter, as his right hon. friend, the First Lord of the Admiralty, had said all that the occasion required. He concluded by moving, "That it is the opinion of the Committee, that the Land Forces for the service of the United Kingdom, for the year ensuing, be 88,496 men, exclusive of the Regiments employed on the territory of the East-India Company."
said, that it was his intention to oppose the vote, and to propose that the grant should be taken for three months, for the purpose of referring 806 the Estimates to a Select Committee, with a view to ascertain what reductions upon them could be effected, after duly considering the situation of the country, both positively and in its relations to the Continent. He felt convinced that the force now proposed was much larger than the country required; and that a saving of 100,000l. at least might easily be effected. It was to his no little surprise that he had received an intimation that his Resolution was to be opposed by His Majesty's Ministers; for, when he had made a similar motion upon the Army Estimates of last year, he had been supported by those who now filled the Treasury benches, and not less than ninety-three Members had voted with him. He felt the greatest confidence in the integrity of the noble Lord opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), and if he were Prime Minister, he should be confident that he would support the Motion; but, unfortunately, the noble Lord was not the Prime Minister; he had only under his charge a great and important department, and he (Colonel Davies) did not feel sufficient confidence in the nobleman who was Prime Minister, for him to give up his opinion, and therefore he would take the liberty of always judging for himself. In looking at these estimates, he would begin with the year 1821, which might be called the annus mirabilis of extravagance and discussion on these matters. In that year, the noble Lord had been chained to his seat by the observations on the Opposition side of the House, being pecked at by the vultures there like another Prometheus. In that year the number of troops was 81,106, so that the present number was an increase upon that of 6,936, and the charge was about three millions; by which it would appear, that the increase of the charge now amounted to 119,000l.: and yet that estimate was denounced at the time as the most wicked and abominable that had ever been heard of. In the year 1822 the number of troops were 71,500, being a diminution of 16,500 when compared with the present year, while the charge at present was 536,000l. more than it had been then. He would, however, now come to the present year, in which, though he gave the Ministry some credit for the decrease, he must give them still greater credit for the increase; for it appeared, that the total increase might, in round numbers, be estimated at 200,000l. In the first place, he must object most 807 strenuously to the establishment of the Depot Company, as now instituted, for he thought that great reduction might be made in it without impairing the efficiency of the service in the slightest degree. The charge under that head was nearly 400,000l. Now, how did this arise? It was expedient that the supernumeraries and staff, as compared with the rank and file, should be as small as possible. But in this establishment, the contrary was exactly the case, for the amount of the supernumeraries and staff was exactly double what it need be. The total amount of the commissioned and non-commissioned officers was upwards of 11,000, while, in fact, they were wholly unfit for anything but to act as a constabulary force, established in the Isle of Wight and other places, where they were utterly useless. Besides this, the system might be called a modern invention, for, till after the war, no such thing had been heard of. There had been recruiting parties indeed; but the charge on recruiting had increased in spite of the depots; 105,342l. was the total charge of the recruiting service this year; and the charge of the depots was 450,000l.; so that the country had to pay 550,000l. for the mere expense of recruiting; and, taking it that 10,000 men were raised in the year, that would be a charge of 55l. per man. Was not, then, this a fit subject for investigation by a Committee? He thought so, and he had no doubt that on this point alone there might be effected a reduction of 300,000l. or 400,000l. Another point to which he wished to call the attention of the Committee was, the garrisoning of the troops. In his opinion colonial troops ought to be raised in the colonies where they were to serve, instead of sending the men out there; the consequence of the present system was, that there were frequently 3,000 troops at sea; during which time, of course, they were performing no service whatever. The principle in this country appeared to be, as soon as we got possession of a colony, to see how many jobs we could make of it, while the object of other countries was, to make their colonies support themselves, or even contribute to the mother-country. The Government establishments in the colonies generally were on a shameful scale. In Lower Canada, for instance, the pay and emoluments of the Lieutenant-governor amounted to between 9,000l. and 10,000l. a-year. 808 This was a rate of remuneration totally uncalled for, and extravagant to a ridiculous degree. He would ask, what was the class of persons from whom these colonial governors were selected? They were generally naval or military officers, and no man would pretend that the Government could not find plenty of them, men of conduct and character, who would be very glad to go out and till such situations for 2,000l. or 3,000l. a-year. There was no necessity to support them in state, and the condition they were kept in was totally useless to the colonies. The Governor of Ceylon had been receiving 10,000l. a year for salary, besides an allowance of 3,500l. a year on another score. Let them compare the expense of the British army with that of Foreign armies, and the Committee would be astonished. The charge of our Army and Ordnance amounted to six millions (exclusive of the Dead Weight), for which sum 94,000 or 96,000 men were supported. The French army, under the Bourbons, which, by the speech of M. Lafitte, appeared now to be considered as on much too expensive a scale, consisted of 250,000 men, who were supported at an expense of 5,200,000l.; and in Prussia, where the whole revenue of the country did not amount to eight millions, an army of 180,000 men was supported. There was one principle which, in his opinion, might be adopted, effecting a great saving. He meant by the adoption of some sort of yeomanry arrangement—not a national guard, that should appoint its own officers and employ its time in presenting petitions to the king—but a corps that should have its officers appointed by the Crown, and whose whole movements should be under the influence of the Crown. It was by arming those who had property, and were devoted to the institutions of the country, against those who had no property, and had no regard for those institutions, that true security would be obtained. The present distress of the country was undeniable; and though he should be sorry to do anything hostile to the present Government, no personal feeling could allow him to vote what was uncalled for by the country, and he must, therefore, refuse the sanction of so humble a name as his own to such a measure. He could assure the Ministers, that any proposition of Reform would be an act of self-immolation, unless they were prepared to alter their course in this respect; 809 for it would be impossible, under that Reform, for any Ministry to hold office for two months, unless they could make up their minds to real economy and retrenchment. He should, therefore, move, as an Amendment, that the Supply for the Army should only be voted from the 1st of January to the 1st of April, in order that a Committee might be appointed to inquire into the expenditure.
§ Mr. Beaumont
thought, that it was of no use for the hon. and gallant Member to say, that he wished to see the country in a better condition if he would not help to place it there. The hon. and gallant Member had asked what there was in the state of the country now which called for additional troops; but he need not look far for an answer, for there was an hon. and learned Gentleman sitting near him, who had said, that if he raised his right hand, he could put the people in a state of rebellion. [A murmur in the House, during which Mr. O'Connell made some observations which did not reach strangers.] If he had used too strong an expression, he was sorry for it; but the hon. and learned Member had been told before then, that his speeches, which began with peace, ended with sedition. That was his (Mr. Beaumont's) opinion also, and that was one of the reasons why the Army Estimates were obliged to be of so large an amount. It was not long since the Special Commissions had terminated; and the state of France and of Russia still called for the most serious attention, so that he could not understand why the hon. and gallant Member should have been at a loss for the motives that had induced the Government to increase the number of troops.
§ Mr. O'Connell
would not have trespassed on the time of the Committee, had it not been for the extraordinary attack in the extraordinary speech which they had just heard. The hon. Gentleman had commenced with an attack on the gallant Officer who had preceded him, and had then proceeded to show his perfect knowledge of the state of the country; after which, he had bestowed his meed of disapprobation on him (Mr. O'Connell). He, however, begged to invite the hon. Gentleman to continue that disapprobation, for, after the specimen he had given of his judgment and intellect, he thought that that must be much preferable to his applause. The hon. Gentleman had said, that the state of Ireland required an aug- 810 mentation of the army—that the state of England required an augmentation—that the state of France required an augmentation—and that, above all, the state of Russia required an augmentation of the army. In order to fight all these Powers there was to be an increase to our establishment of 7,000 men; this was, indeed, a most extraordinary labour of a mountain bringing forth a mouse. The hon. Member had, however, thought proper to attribute rebellious principles to him (Mr. O'Connell), but there was no language, consistent with parliamentary usage, sufficiently strong for him to declare his denial of the foul aspersion—his rejection of the atrocious calumny. The hon. Member had talked of his loyalty; "but," said Mr. O'Connell, "I practise loyalty." [Cheers.] He knew there would always be a ready cheer when any thing was said against him (Mr. O'Connell), for he belonged to the most afflicted country in the world, oppressed by famine, which was once said to be periodical, and he sought to make her sufferings known, and to cause them to be redressed. Why was it in a state of famine? it was not sterile; on the contrary, it was the most productive country on the face of the earth, and yet its population were starving. He sought to relieve his country from this state of wretchedness, and if he were to enter into the particulars of his conduct, he could easily repudiate the calumnies which were thrown out by the hon. Member. It was easy to throw out such aspersions, but he would treat them—he would not say with contempt—but with the indifference they deserved. He was also accused of sedition; but if he had been guilty of it, why had he not been prosecuted? He had spoken no speech in Ireland at which there were not Reporters from two Government papers, and when he perceived they had any difficulty in procuring accommodation, he took care that it should be provided for them. He would ask, then, what it was that induced the hon. Member to introduce those remarks upon him? Was it that he desired to court popularity in that House? He was, of course, aware, that any attack upon him (Mr. O'Connell) was a sure clap-trap in that House, and he therefore resolved to make the attack, in order to bring down a cheer. This attack was the second which had been made upon him that evening, for the only reason, he believed, because those who did not choose to assail others, 811 thought they might safely assail him. He had not said one single word to call for these attacks; but he would pass it over, however, with the mere observation, that if any man exceeded him in affection for the land of his birth, he would allow him, but no other person, to be his calumniator. He felt that he did not deserve the censure which had been cast upon him, and in repelling it, he could assure the House, that he did so without being actuated by one spark of indignation.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
regretted, that it was deemed necessary to increase the military establishment of the country, but as the measure was decided upon, he thought the cheapest mode of doing so would be, by calling out the pensioners, by which step, if necessary, 18,000 men might be added to the military force of the kingdom.
§ Lord Althorp
said, he regretted the necessity of adding to the military force, but he would not then argue for the propriety of the measure, feeling satisfied that it was not necessary for him to do so. With respect to the rest of the estimates, he was willing to admit, that there were several points in which reductions might be made, but how was it possible for his right hon. friend to do so when just coming into office without the benefit of experience? It would be imprudent for him to have gone too far before he had had time to make the necessary inquiries, but he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could assure the House that the strictest inquiry should be made into every item of expenditure, and every office should be reduced that might appear on examination to be useless. The hon. and gallant Colonel (Davies) knew, that the vote had never been taken for so short a period; indeed, there could be no advantage in taking it for so short a period. The other hon. and gallant Colonel (Sibthorp) had stated, that the better mode of increasing the army would be, by calling out the pensioners; but as every pensioner would be entitled to additional pay for his additional services, and as, in that case, also additional officers would become requisite, he thought it would prove to be by no means the most economical plan. The families of those pensioners would also be thrown upon the public, which expense would not be incurred if young men were enlisted for the service. Upon the whole, he thought the House would show very little 812 confidence in the Government if they did not, according to the usual practice, grant the vote for the whole year.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
thought the plan proposed by Ministers for increasing the army much the cheapest, and when completed, he did not believe that it would then exceed the usual peace establishment. He thought that Ministers did themselves much credit by resorting to the old constitutional force of the country, —the yeomanry. As the estimate for the militia appeared to be 133,000l., he wished to ask, what numbers were to be called out? He was also desirous of knowing if the Irish militia was to be called out, for if so, the estimate was too low, by the sum of at least 50,000l. He had looked through the estimates, and, as regarded the staff, he could find only two reductions, namely, the reduction of the office of Treasurer of the Military Asylum, and that of the Treasurer of the Military College. Of both of these reductions he disapproved. A great many important duties attached to the office of Treasurer of the Military Asylum, which had been exceedingly well performed by Messrs. Cox and Greenwood, the latter gentleman being the holder of the office at the very moderate salary of 300l. per annum, or about one and a half per cent on the disbursements. The duties of the Treasurer of the Military College were nearly the same as those of the other office. There had, however, formerly been a Paymaster at the College, but that office having been abolished, an increase of duty necessarily devolved upon the Treasurer. Government had selected the Messrs. Collier for the office, at a salary of 300l. a year, which had since been reduced to 200l., being about one per cent on the disbursements; and he begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. W. Wynn), if he could get his private affairs managed for a less sum. He could find no other reductions in the staff but those, and now that the right hon. Gentleman had had the opportunity of examining into the estimates, he would ask him, if he could support those accusations of gross abuses of patronage, which had been supposed to have existence in that department. He was happy that the right hon. Gentleman had not endangered the army by any crude or party experiment in reduction. He believed that many reductions might still be made, not suddenly, 813 however, but only as time and occasion offered. He thought the internal state of the country a sufficient cause for the increase of our military establishment; but it was at all events required by the grave and important aspect which affairs wore upon the continent of Europe. When he read the speech of the French Minister, he confessed there were some passages in it which excited in his mind considerable apprehension. When he perceived that the estimate for the year for the service of the State of France was no less than 47,000,000l. sterling, and when he perceived that the expenses for the army alone, exclusive of the National Guards, &c, amounted to no less than 9,000,000l. —when he perceived that France was, in fact, one great camp—he could not avoid entertaining some misgivings. He had no doubt, however, that he should receive explanation of these matters at a proper period; and he should, therefore, only say, that the army of this country was never in a higher state of discipline than at the present time; and, though he hoped the time might be far distant when the peace of Europe would be disturbed, yet, should it unhappily arrive, we had an army as well prepared as any which this country ever had, to maintain the national honour and safety.
Mr. S. Rice
said, it was unfair to compare the present Estimate with those which had been made in times and under circumstances in every respect different. The reduction of the offices of Treasurer of the Military College, and Treasurer of the Military Asylum, was to be justified on the ground that the duties could be as well performed by an ordinary Clerk.
said, that he appeared in the very unusual character of a member of the Government defending the reduction of useless offices. It was, he said, the intention to call out the Irish Militia, and the expense of doing so would be about 50,000l., because the clothing had not been renewed for the last eleven or twelve years, and was, therefore, literally worn to rags, while the arms and accoutrements were equally useless. Ireland was in such a condition that it required the most vigilant superintendence, and Government, in increasing the military establishment, thought it right to refer to the old constitutional force of the country. He had no hesitation in saying, that with Government it was a choice of evils, and 814 it was compelled to take the step of increasing the forces, or of running the risk of a serious disturbance. He felt confident that no one would attribute to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who was so attached to the country, a desire once more to excite religious animosity. It was true that a great proportion of the Yeomanry of the North of Ireland were Protestants; but still it must be self-evident that Lord Anglesey could have no party feeling to gratify in calling them forth, for he was only anxious for the peace of the country, which, he had no doubt, would be restored with the aid of the old constitutional force of the kingdom.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, it appeared that the Yeomanry force of Ireland had, by the account given by the right hon. Gentleman, been, for the last eight or ten years, a most heavy and useless expense. The sum of 18,000l. or 19,000l. per year had been paid for the maintenance of that corps during that period; and yet, when it came to be inspected, it was found, according to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, to be totally unfit for the public service. When the different Yeomanry corps were in activity they were not efficient, they were divided into such unequal proportions.—For instance, in the province of Ulster, where there were no Whiteboy disturbances, and where, indeed, there were very few local outrages of any kind, there were 8,000 or 9,000 men; while in Connaught, there were about 700; and in Munster, 1,500; It was one of the misfortunes of Ireland, that she was subjected to the disadvantage of having some young Nobles sent over to servo their apprenticeships as Statesmen. He looked upon the hon. Member who had just sat down, and whom he had formerly designated by a name which he would not repeat as an apprentice Statesman. Ireland was the place to which all such were sent to serve their apprenticeship to the art of Government, and then they came over to this country to fill offices of higher rank in the State. He looked upon the noble Lord as if he were one of those apprentices, and as being really wholly and totally unacquainted with the wants and interests of Ireland. Surely he ought to be aware that the Yeomanry of the North of Ireland were all Orangemen, and that in all places where they were on duty, local dissensions or bloodshed ensued. The hon. Member 815 might have known, that it was the practice of these Orangemen to attend fairs, and other assemblages of the people, leaving their arms behind them at a short distance from the place. They then picked a quarrel, sent for their arras, and generally shot several persons before the riot could be quelled. Probably Lord Anglesey might not be acquainted with this mode of proceeding. It was notorious too, that the Irish Yeomanry corps, after the Rebellion, formed a nucleus of insurrection and riot. The number of men they had put to death was unknown, but it was very great. Consisting of Orangemen, they had no consideration for the Catholics, and would not associate with them. He would tell him that the better plan would be, to increase the army, for the regular soldiers were submissive to the law. The King's troops had no party-spirit to gratify, and the consequence was, that the people always looked to them for protection. He would not discuss the question whether it was necessary to increase the military force, but he implored the noble Lord opposite (Althorp), that he would not suffer himself to be led away by those who paid an hour's visit to Ireland, and who said, that no religious animosity existed at the very moment they were about to take steps the most calculated to revive it. As the increase was to take place, he should feel it his duty to vote for the increase of the King's troops, rather than have the Militia again called out, believing the latter to be the most successful plan that could be devised for reviving religious distinctions and dissensions. He could not help looking on the announcement of that evening, as being one of doleful omen to Ireland.
said, that whatever might be the feelings of the House upon the subject, he felt certain that the speech of the hon. member for Waterford would justify a much larger increase than what was now proposed; and, if any discussion should hereafter take place relative to the culling out of the Militia, they had at all events the opinion of the hon. member for Waterford, that it would be more desirable to increase the King's troops. The hon. Member took occasion to tell him that he had spoken of him elsewhere in terms which he declined to repeat.
§ Mr. O'Connell.—Not as applied to the hon. Member personally [cries of yes, yes.] I admit I, in the course of a speech, intro- 816 duced a humorous story, in which I said, that the persons who generally filled the office now held by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Stanley), resembled shave-beggars.
said, he had read reports of speeches delivered by the hon. member for Waterford elsewhere, which convinced him that the hon. Member was usually aware of his audience when he spoke; for no two persons could be more different from each other than the hon. member for Waterford, speaking in that House, and the same hon. Member elsewhere, or rather somebody who bore his name, for he could scarcely believe it to be the same person, when "courting the most sweet voices of the rabble." Whatever might be his conduct elsewhere, however, he appeared and conducted himself in that House as the hon. member for Waterford, and as such, therefore, he should treat him, dismissing from his mind all former transactions—and without condescending to notice the "shave-beggar abuse" which he might have cast upon him elsewhere. The Government of Ireland could rely with confidence on the returning good sense of the people of that country, and with equal confidence on the zeal and discretion of the Yeomanry.
Lord F. L. Gower
supported the original Resolution. He thought the whole subject had been so repeatedly discussed, that it was a waste of time and words then to enter further into it.
said, it was ridiculous to call the proposed army a peace establishment, when there was an increase of 10,000 men beyond what was usual for some years back. If Russia was disposed to go to war, and if France was turned into a camp, what had England to fear from that?— The people of this country had neither any wish to interfere, nor any interest in interfering with them.—By the present system, the country was maintaining one officer to every six men. He was filled with wonder, when he heard the people on every side calling for reduction, and when he heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer say, that he could not take off one tax, without laying on another—to think that out of 15,000,000l., which was the Estimate for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, means could not be found to make some deductions. Surely 3,000,000l. might easily be reduced from this enormous sum. We had no less than 15,000 817 officers on full-pay, and 10,000 on half-pay, so that, in fact, we had nearly an army of officers. He was convinced from experience, that the calling out of the Yeomanry was an injudicious scheme, and if additional troops were necessary, he thought the more economical plan would be to increase the regular army than to call out the Militia. The Committee had been led away from the real question which ought to occupy its consideration— namely, whether that House was to sanction an Estimate which would entail such an enormous expense upon the country, at a time when the national resources were so ill calculated to bear it. If this expenditure were encouraged, the country ought not to be surprised at the difficulties and embarrassments by which it would find itself surrounded. Before the French war, the whole of the expense for the entire service of the State did not exceed 15,000,000l., and now the country was called upon to vote such a disproportionate sum merely for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, that it really ought not to submit to the demand. Since 1817 no less a sum than 220,000,000l. sterling, had been expended for the support of the military establishment during a time of profound peace. Was not this quite sufficient to account for the distresses of the country? The amount thus lavished was one-fourth part of the National Debt. Now, if that money had been applied as wisely and as judiciously as the national funds were administered in America, we might be in somewhat a similar situation to that country, which had now a prospect of being free from debt in another year. He had thought that, with the removal of Lord Castlereagh, we had taken leave of the Continent, and were in future to confine ourselves to the protection of our own shore, without interfering in the policy, or the affairs of other States. Recollecting that the design of opening the Scheldt had led to a war which involved us in an expense of 750,000,000l., he was extremely averse to engaging in a similar enterprise, which seemed to be relied upon as the great merit of the present Government. He regretted that a right hon. Gentleman at that side of the House should have had an opportunity of saying that the statement made by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, reminded him of the good old 818 times of the Castlereagh system—of those times when the Holy Alliance dictated Constitutions to the States of Europe, and when millions of men were driven in herds, like cattle, and placed under whatever form of government Lord Castlereagh thought proper to prescribe. Such was the description of policy which had led to the present condition of our affairs. Would the House of Commons sanction the present extravagant and inordinate Estimates for such reasons as they had heard advanced? If they did, let no man in the country hope to have his Assessed Taxes taken off, or his burthens relieved. 15,000,000l. sterling for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance! What would be the effect of this enormous Estimate, which would certainly incur the disapprobation and censure of the whole country? It would enable the Ministers to interfere still further in the affairs of other countries, and to involve this kingdom in increased difficulties—[the noise in the House at this time was very great.] He saw that the House was against him— that what he was saying did not meet with their concurrence; but even that should not prevent him from taking the sense of the House, if he felt that his duty required it. But he thought he was called upon to make some allowance for the situation in which his Majesty's Government was placed, and to hope that those Gentlemen would see what the interests of the country required, and would feel the necessity of retracing their steps, and making some atonement for their deviation from that which was strictly the right path, by the nature of the Reform which they meant to propose. That Reform would give the country the means of redress, if it were effectual; and in the mean time he might content himself with having done his duty by protesting against the extravagance of these Estimates.
§ Lord Palmerston
said, that the good humour with which the hon. member for Middlesex urged his objections to the propositions of his Majesty's Government was gratifying, particularly amidst the difficulties with which their proceedings were necessarily attended. The hon. Member had said, that he was surprised to find both sides of the House supporting these Estimates. Now, he confessed it did not excite any surprise in his mind, that in times when the tranquility of the country was disturbed, 819 and when additional means were required to preserve good order, and to give effect to the course of the laws—he felt no surprise that both sides of the House should concur in such measures as were necessary for accomplishing those objects. He was perfectly persuaded, on the one hand, that this was not the first time that it had so happened, under such circumstances;—so, on the other hand, he was convinced that it would not be the last, if occasion offered, to require a similar degree of unanimity for the protection of the interests of the State. The hon. member for Middlesex found fault with the expression which he (Lord Palmerston) had used on a former evening, that the augmentation of force proposed in the present instance was merely with a view to complete the peace establishment. When he used that expression, he merely meant that all that was now proposed was to render perfect the establishment which had existed in the preceding year, and, in fact, for three years past, and, therefore, the present might certainly be described as a peace establishment, as compared with such an augmentation as might be required if any exigency obliged the Government to call upon the country to prepare for warlike operations. The hon. Gentleman had again adverted to the topics of foreign policy, to which he had applied himself on a former night. He (Lord Palmerston) should not be led by the hon. Gentleman's observations to go into any explanation on those points, but would simply assure the hon. Member and the House, that whenever the time should arrive when an explanation could with propriety be given of the course which had been pursued in those transactions, it would not be found that England had been dictating to other States in any matters appertaining to their internal constitutions. It was preposterous to suppose, that the addition of 6,000 or 7,000 men was proposed with a view of intermeddling in the internal affairs of other countries, His right hon. friend, the Secretary at War, had in his opening observations on these Estimates, stated fully the grounds on which that addition was proposed, and explained, that it was not with a view to anything connected with our foreign relations with other countries, but to the preservation of our internal tranquility. He had no doubt that, if the time should ever arrive when his Majesty's Government 820 should find it necessary to call upon Parliament to maintain the interests or the character and the dignity of the country, the means would be readily provided; but, as he had said, the present augmentation was proposed, not with a view to our external relations, but to the internal circumstances of the country. He would add only one observation upon the system of external policy which the hon. member for Middlesex recommended. The hon. Gentleman said, we ought to withdraw from all concern with the Continent, to keep within our natural boundaries; and that, having disbanded our army, and dismantled our fleet, we might rely upon our insular position, and rest secure from any foreign invasion. Now, his (Lord Palmerston's) opinion was, that although our position was insular, yet we should not be the less safe from foreign aggression from the circumstance of our having a good army in readiness to defend us, and our shores guarded by a respectable navy.
concurred in the proposed augmentation, but expressed his hope that a reduction would be effected whenever it could be done with safety.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
said, he could never agree that the state of military force on the Continent was a ground for augmenting the military force of this country. It might be a sufficient reason for increasing the navy, but it was time enough for England to arm her military force, when her honour or necessity required it. It was not necessary to keep up a large military establishment for that purpose. Whenever the state of the country should admit of a reduction of the establishment now proposed, he should certainly be quite prepared, on the part of his Majesty's Government, to recommend it; but he did not think that in the course of the ensuing month, we should be better able to decide upon that point than at present. All he could say was, that he should call upon the House to reduce the force, at the earliest moment it could be done consistently with the preservation of tranquility and order. He was anxious to answer some observations which had been made at the other side of the House. He was not aware that he had, either in the course of his observations this evening, or at any other period, complained of the estimates of the late Secretary at War. He would state again what he had stated before—viz., that he thought the country 821 was under great obligations to that right hon. Gentleman, for the steady and practical economy which he had introduced into his department; but still he hoped that further reductions were practicable. Several had, in fact, taken place; such as the reduction of the salary of the governor of Ceylon from 10.000l. to 8,000l. per year, and many more were in contemplation, particularly in the colonies, the detail of which could not yet be made public.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, in explanation, that as the late Government had been accused of not having done enough in the way of retrenchment, he had thought it fair to ask what reduction the present Government had made in these large Estimates?
§ Mr. C. Buller
was not satisfied with the reasons assigned for the proposed augmentation, and he thought that in such times of distress and difficulty, nothing but some pressing danger should have induced the Ministers to propose an augmentation of the military force.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that, in his opinion, the late Government were entitled to thanks for the assiduous and diligent efforts which they had applied to the work of reduction; and he was also grateful to the present Government for having made this addition to the force at so small an expense. He must say, that he had never been in any company where a great tribute of praise was not paid to his right hon. friend, the late Secretary at War, for the manner in which he had administered the affairs of that department while under his control. He (Mr. Littleton) was not afraid of his constituents knowing that he was in favour of a small augmentation of the force. Seeing the state of affairs on the Continent, he thought the Government was not departing from its principle, in making a small increase of the defences of the country.
§ Mr. Hunt
said, the last hon. Member had praised both the late Ministry and the present Ministry, but he feared that he could praise neither. The present Ministry had promised a great deal in the way of retrenchment, and now they came forward proposing an augmentation of expenditure. They proposed a reduction of some 300l. on the one hand, and on the other hand, including the Yeomanry, and other parts of the additional force, an increase of 300,000l. or 500,000l. The effect of these pleasures would be, to place them in such 822 a situation with the country as would give them reason to be very much dissatisfied with the result. One hon. Member said, that the force was to be increased on account of the disturbed state of the country, while another said, that it was owing to the agitated state of the Continent. In God's name, he would ask, why increase the army from 81,000 to 88,000, and augment the navy by 3,000 men to put down disturbances in the country? And if it were done on account of the aspect of affairs on the Continent, he would say, that the measure was quite inadequate. He therefore implored the Government, for the sake of the people of this country—for the sake of the suffering constituents of the hon. Member for Staffordshire, who was friendly to this increase of expense, not to add to their burthens. With regard to the conduct of the present Ministers he begged to say a few words. If he understood the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) right, on Friday night last, the right hon. Baronet, in a tone of irony, congratulated the present Administration on the subjects of economy and non-intervention. His Majesty's present Ministers, observed the right hon. Baronet, pursued exactly the same course on those two heads as their predecessors. What had Ministers done, he begged to inquire? They had not introduced any economical plans to relieve the country, and they had interfered with other States. If the statements which had got abroad were correct, the five great Powers had been dictating to Belgium as to her future king. After the Belgians had fought for and obtained liberty, their only fault was, that they did not do, what was much better than elect a king—appoint a President, and have a republican form of government at once. A similar fault had been committed by the French people, who fought so bravely the three days of July. The error which the French nation had committed, after losing 8,000 men on those days which he had alluded to, was in not returning to a republican form of government. The hon. member for Windsor (Mr. Stanley) had taunted the hon. member for Waterford (Mr. O'Connell), and said, that he used very different language in that House from what he applied to the Dublin rabble. He (Mr. Hunt) had frequent opportunities of hearing the hon. member for Windsor, when they were candidates at Preston, and he could say, from that experience, that the hon. Gentleman appeared 823 as much pleased with a cheer from the populace as any one. He thought the hon. Secretary for Ireland had betrayed a warmth of temper, when speaking of the hon. member for Waterford, which was not warrantable. He regretted that the hon. Gentleman had done so. He felt assured, however, that the hon. member for Windsor would not taunt him with speaking different language at different places; and in order to put this to the test, if the hon. Member would remind him of any one sentence which he had uttered at Preston, he would repeat it to the House. He begged to say, he would repeat it to the House, whether it was orderly or disorderly—[a laugh, and cries of "Question"]. If hon. Members were tired of the debate—if they wished to go home—when the clock struck twelve (it was then ten minutes to twelve), he would move an adjournment of the House. He was reminded that the clock never struck; but when the hand pointed to twelve he would move an adjournment. The first question before the House was, whether the army establishment should be not only kept up, but actually increased for a year; since which, an amendment had been proposed, to vote the amount now submitted for three months only. He begged to say, that with neither of these propositions did he agree; and he should take the liberty of moving a further amendment, that, instead of 81,000 men being kept up, the number should be reduced to 71,000 men; and, if any hon. Member would second his amendment, he would assuredly divide the House. He had, on one occasion, proceeded to a division, and had a very small number voted with him; but he should not be deterred, on that account, from performing what he considered his duty. On the present occasion, he was anxious to show the people of England to whom they were indebted for voting, for the establishment of the army and navy, 15,000,000l. a-year. He had been much amused at the laudatory cackle which had passed between the present and the late Secretary of War. The present Secretary complimented the late Secretary, and then, to keep the game a-going, the late Secretary returned the compliment to his successor. It was a singular spectacle to see how Gentlemen, who went from the Opposition to the Ministerial side of the House, changed their opinions with their seats, just as if there had been some atmosphere about the Ministerial benches 824 which rendered such a change inevitable. He had been told, that there was an atmosphere in that House, which, before long, would work a change even upon him. He thought that was a mistake. He did not feel the change at present,—he did not expect that he should feel it, for he carried a little charm about him to prevent him from being contaminated. He would, in conclusion, say, that he had not heard one word from either side of the House that convinced him of the necessity of increasing the standing army. If, indeed, the country was in such a situation that it required 87,000 men for the service of England, it was bad indeed. If the country were in that condition, he would beg leave to ask, who was it that had brought it into that state? Could not the people of England be intrusted with arms? He would say, that they dare not intrust arms in the hands of the people of England. If arms were placed in their hands, there would be a Reform of Parliament within three months. Give them the Vote by Ballot, and the House might trust them with arms, for they would then feel that they had a share in making the laws, and would feel pride in protecting them from violation. Let the House bear in mind in what way the petitions were received. Members came clown with the petitions of the people, day after day, in order to present them, but had no opportunity; and when they were presented, there was such a noise in the House, that the clerk, who read them, could not be heard. The hon. Member concluded by moving an Amendment, that instead of 83,000 men for the Army, the number should be reduced from 81,000 (the present force) to 71,000 men.
§ The Amendment having been seconded,
§ Sir Alexander Grant
inquired whether the hon. member for Preston intended the proposition to extend to a year, or three months?
§ Mr. Hunt.—For a year.
§ After the original question, with the two amendments, had been put by the Chairman of the Committee,
§ Lord Morpeth
said, after the threat held out by the hon. member for Preston, with respect to moving the adjournment of the House, he should observe the limits prescribed of old to Cinderella. In what he should address to the House he should be very brief. He had always, hitherto, supported the principles of economy and Reform; 825 and notwithstanding the baneful influence which the hon. member for Preston said pervaded the benches on which he had the honour to sit, he felt that he was not giving a vote at variance with his former principles when he supported the original Motion. It had been described as a singular anomaly, that Ministers, who had obtained office by their economical pledges, should propose to raise the military force of the country from 81,000 to 88,000 men. A gallant Officer opposite had proposed to grant the necessary supply for this force for three months; but had refused to grant it for a longer period. The hon. member for Preston had refused to grant it at all, and had even proposed to reduce the army to 71,000 men. Now, he would put it even to that hon. member himself, whether circumstances might net render it expedient to have our forces so arranged, that at a moment's notice a large body of troops might be conveyed to a place of danger. In a single district, in a single hour, events might take place, through the machinations of turbulent men, which, if not instantly repressed, might occasion an expenditure which years of strict economy would not repair. That danger of this nature had recently existed in the British Islands, no man could deny: that it had now ceased, he believed all men would agree. The hon. member for Middlesex had used something like a taunt against the gentlemen of England, for not coming forward as the people of France had done, and forming themselves into ranks for the defence of their country. God forbid that the gentlemen of this country should act as their neighbours in France had done. Who could view what had so recently passed in that country, without feeling deep regret? Monuments of art had been destroyed, and emblems of religion cast under foot, by a tyrannical mob. The hon. member for Preston thought that the people of France had been guilty of a great fault in not establishing a republic. He (Lord Morpeth) should have thought that no man could have dwelt with pleasure on the recollections of the French republic. He concurred in the vote which had been proposed by the Secretary of War, conceiving the increase of the army to be a means of preserving order at home and peace abroad. He was sorry that such a necessity existed. He entertained the utmost reliance upon the pledges of economy which his Ma- 826 jesty's Ministers had given, and he was confident that they believed an additional force to be necessary, otherwise they never would have submitted such a proposition.
said, after what had been stated by the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) as to the examination of some points to which he (Colonel Davies) had called the attention of the Committee, he would withdraw his amendment.
§ The original Resolution, "That it is the opinion of this Committee, that a sum, not exceeding 2,796,043l. be granted to his Majesty, to defray the charges and expenses of the Land Forces for the year 1831," agreed to.
§ The House resumed.
|List of the Minority.|
|Buller, Charles||Warburton, Henry|
|Hume, Joseph||Wood, John|
|O'Connell, Daniel||Hunt, Henry|