Sir John Hobhouse
stated, that according to the plan which the Ministers had brought forward, with the sanction and unanimous approval of that House, he had now to propose to the Committee the quarter's Estimates. He was sorry that he should not be able to give to the Committee so fair and flourishing an account of the de- 481 partment, on the duties of which he had recently entered, as his right hon. friend had given of the Admiralty Department. But the country would bear in mind, that, since 1820, there had been a considerable decrease in the charge for the Army. Notwithstanding that the amount of the forces, and all the other departments, were not much less than at that time, and although there were now some additional Estimates, the decrease in the charge since 1820 amounted to 684,000l. He had been but a short time in office, and, therefore, was not responsible for the Estimates, which were, in fact, but a part of the Estimates for the year 1831, but he had seen enough since he had been in office to incline him to think that it was impossible for any Government to maintain a military establishment on a more diminished scale for the ordinary service of the State. He would now proceed to state the various items of expenditure, and he trusted he should be able to make himself clearly understood. At any rate, he held himself ready to answer every question that any hon. Member thought would elucidate his statement. The charge for the effective service was 896,831l. and for the non-effective service, 726,211l., showing a decrease in this quarter, as compared with any quarter of the last year, in the effective service, of 15,300l., while there was, in the non-effective, an increase of 35,131l., and, before he proposed the individual votes, perhaps it would be as well that he should shortly run over the abstract of each of these services. The vote for the Land Service was 805,961l., showing an increase of 17,922l. for the quarter. He should be able to explain that when he came to that particular vote. The charge for Staff Officers was 30,667l., showing a decrease of 463l. The charge for the Public Departments was 25,246l., showing a decrease of 728l. The charge for medicines was 3,000., showing a decrease of 105l. For Garrisons, 8,425l., being a decrease of 34l. For the Royal Military Colleges, 991l., being a decrease of 416l. For the Military Asylums, 4,433l., or a decrease of 581l. For the Hibernian Schools, 1,360l., or a decrease of 270l. There was likewise a large decrease upon the Volunteer Corps, as the charge for the Volunteer Corps of each quarter of last year was 47,571l., while, on the present quarter, it was 16,768l., showing a deduction in the quarter, on this charge, of 30,683l. 482 The House would, therefore, see, that the decrease on the whole of the estimates for the effective services was upward of 15,300l. With respect to the non-effective services, the charges were as follows:—For general officers, 32,200l., being a decrease of 1,550l.; for retired full-pay, 23,000l., being a decrease of 825l.; for half-pay, &c., 169,600l., being a decrease of 4,850l.; for foreign half-pay, 22,425l., being a decrease of 400l.; for militia retired officers, &c. 6,684l., being a decrease of 109l.; for widows' pensions, 36,980l., being an increase of 36l.; for compassionate allowances, &c. 44,047l., being a decrease of 1,108l.; for in and out pensioners of Chelsea, &c. 378,579l., being an increase of 44,583l.; and, for superannuations, 12,696l., being a decrease of 646l. There was, therefore, an increase upon the whole of these Estimates for the non-effective services, of 35,131l. The first vote to be submitted to the Committee was the number of land forces; and he would take the present opportunity of making a few observations with reference to that subject. The House would recollect that, in the year 1830, the rank and file amounted to 69,125 men. In the year 1831, however, in consequence of the disturbances in England, it was thought advisable to increase the establishment of the army, by adding to the effective force 7,261 men. Since that period, certain battalions had returned from abroad, the effective force of which amounted to 3,256 men, so that, upon the whole an effective force of 10,516 men was made available inconsequence of the unfortunate state of the country. There was an apparent increase of rank and file of 897 men; and of 1,005 men of all ranks: but this increase did not exist in point of fact. The whole of the real increase amounted to 158 men, and the remaining apparent increase was occasioned by the return of a regiment from India. This regiment had been maintained by the East-India Company during its passage to this country, and was now, being returned, placed on the effective list of the army. The increase of expense on this head amounted to 18,000l. He had thus made to the Committee a brief statement of the Estimates, and would content himself with moving a Resolution, that the number of men employed in the land forces, from the 1st of January 1832, to the 1st of March, 1832, be 89,483l., exclusive of regiments 483 in the territorial possessions of the East India Company.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, that every one who was acquainted with the talents of the right hon. Baronet must have expected the business-like manner in which he had made his statement this evening. He was sure, that the public service and the Army would be satisfied with the effective manner in which he would discharge his duty. The purpose for which he rose was, to recommend the Ministers to introduce the Army Estimates for the ensuing financial year previous to the 24th of March, as that was the last day beyond which the re-enactment of the Mutiny Act could be delayed. With respect to the present Estimates, he would only say, though he was aware that the right hon. Baronet was not accountable for them, that the increase of 35,000l. in the non-effective service, and the decrease of 15,000l. in the effective service, had not been sufficiently explained.
§ Sir Henry Parnell
said, that the present were merely supplementary Estimates, founded on the Estimates of last year, and it was not, therefore, to be supposed, that the right hon. Baronet could propose any reductions; but he thought the circumstance of the House being called upon to vote supplies for a quarter, half of which had already passed by, showed pretty plainly the necessity for altering the commencement of the financial year. When he was in office, he certainly had not made any distinct propositions of reduction; but he had offered suggestions for a considerable retrenchment, and he knew that there was room for effecting a considerable saving this year in the army expenditure.
§ Colonel Trench
considered that the arrangements made in the Army Department by Sir Henry Hardinge were so admirable as not to be susceptible of improvement. That right hon. Gentleman had effected considerable reductions; and he thought that to carry retrenchment further would only injure the effective condition of the army. He, therefore, was no friend to the right hon. Baronet's (Sir H. Parnell's) plans of retrenchment.
§ Sir Henry Parnell
said, it was quite impossible that the gallant Officer could be aware of the nature of his plans of retrenchment; and it was, therefore, somewhat surprising that they had received his condemnation. Perhaps the gallant 484 Officer judged of his schemes from certain absurd rumours which had lately gone abroad, which, he begged to assure him, were utterly without foundation.
§ Colonel Trench
imputed no blame to the right hon. Baronet; but one of the measures which he understood was to be ascribed to the right hon. Baronet, and of which he did not approve, was the refusing to allow the usual brevet rank on the occasion of the late Coronation.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that he had lately heard many reports respecting the measures of retrenchment which the right hon. Baronet had intended to propose, none of which, he would venture to say, had the least foundation in fact. With respect to the brevet rank, the ground on which the Government refused to grant it at the late Coronation was, because a large promotion had taken place a short time before.
§ Sir John Byng
said, if hon. Members knew the fatiguing duties which the Army had to perform as well as he did, they would be of opinion that the establishment was too small instead of too large.
was prepared to agree to the Estimates for the present quarter, without any objection, as he was aware that his right hon. friend had not had sufficient time allowed him to make himself acquainted with the details of his office. Knowing also, that it was the intention of the Government, that the Estimates for the present quarter should be the same as the last, he should not have done more than express a wish that the next Estimates would be reduced, but that the right hon. Baronet had made some observations which he felt called upon to notice. The right hon. Baronet ought not to have compared the year 1820 with the year 1831, for several reductions took place in the years 1821, 1822, 1823, and 1824, in the military force; and it was with the lowest of these years that the comparison ought to have been made. The reductions amounted altogether in those years to 25,000 men, and there was a consequent saving to the country to the amount of 800,000l. a-year. There was now 20,000 troops more than in 1824, with which year the comparison ought to have been made.
Sir John Hobhouse
begged pardon for interrupting his hon. friend; but his hon. friend completely misapprehended the nature of his observation. He said, that although the number of troops now was 485 nearly equal to the number in 1820, yet the expense was 684,000l. a-year less.
Certainly, the number of troops was nearly the same; but he did not see what necessity there had been for increasing the Army since 1824. In that year 22,000 men were disbanded; 13,000 men were added in 1825, and 7,000 were added last year. There were, at present, 20,000 more troops than at the commencement of 1825. For that enormous increase, no satisfactory reason had been assigned. It was our military establishment that was the great source of expenditure, and it must be reduced before there could be a reduction of taxation The gallant General (Sir John Byng) said, that the soldiers were constantly employed, but there was no merit in that; for why keep up an army if there was no employment for it? An idle soldiery was the most mischievous class in the community. He expected that his Majesty's Ministers would make great reductions in the next Estimates. And he must say, that the whole expense of the army ought to be furnished under one head—that the artillery and engineers should be included in this vote, as well as the horse and foot. He was confident, if hon. Members were acquainted with the whole number of men connected with our military establishment, that they would be greatly astonished. He had no doubt that his right hon. friend would find an ample harvest of reductions, if he went zealously to work. He must beg leave to tell the noble Lord, that if he and the rest of his colleagues in the Government were determined to keep up such enormous military and naval establishments, they would lose the confidence of the country. He hoped among other branches of the service, that a great reduction would be made in the artillery. He admitted that it was a most important and meritorious corps, and that the officers were men of great science; but it ought to be reduced, as the number of men was quite disproportionate to the service they were called upon to perform. It would also be advantageous if the Secretary at War performed the duties of Clerk of the Ordnance, and managed all the Estimates for the military. At present, the Secretary at War, was the mere clerk of the Commander-in-chief, and promotions were made in the army without his knowledge. Before the French war, the Commander-in-chief confined himself to his proper 486 duty of an executive officer. But now that officer assumed too much authority, and it would be adviseable to break down the establishment at the Horse Guards. The present Commander-in-chief ought not to be allowed to continue in office. His excellent friend (Sir Henry Parnell) was dismissed by the Ministers, because he would not vote with them on the question of the Russian-Dutch Loan, but the Commander-in-chief was allowed to retain his situation, though he would not vote with Ministers on the Reform Bill. The fact was, that an influence somewhere prevented this being done. Somehow or other the Duke of Wellington appeared still to command at the Horse Guards, and his old Secretary who was still Secretary to the Commander-in-chief, held his levees at the Horse Guards. He saw no necessity for having such an officer for such purposes. Similar levees were not held by the Secretary to the Admiralty. Whenever that Gentleman began to receive Admirals as the Secretary at the Horse Guards received Generals, and other old officers, he should certainly think it high time that he was changed. Before 1792, the Commander-in-chief confined himself to the duties of his office, and the Secretary at War was, in reality, the Finance Minister for the army, and had a complete control over the expenditure of it. Now, however, he had no doubt that even the gallant officer (Sir Henry Hardinge) when Secretary at War, found, that in many things, the Horse Guards was too strong for him; and the present right hon. Baronet, who filled that office, would find it so too. The only praise that he could give the Government with respect to these Estimates was, that they had not added to the number of brevet promotions at the time of the coronation, considering, properly enough, that those promotions were sufficiently increased at the time of the accession. There were already more than superior officers enough, and it was most, inexpedient to increase them. He must complain of the mode of promotion in the army, for the old, grey-headed, meritorious officers were neglected, and young men, who had grown up like mushrooms, had been placed over their heads. He recently heard of a young man, hardly twenty-two years of age, who had the command of a regiment. Thus experienced officers were neglected, and mere youths were placed over their heads. He saw an officer, the 487 other day, who had been twenty-three years in the service, and had distinguished himself, and yet he was kept subordinate to young men who had seen no service whatever. He was ready to admit, that the gallant officer (Sir Henry Hardinge) introduced many excellent alterations into the office over which he presided, and he only regretted that the gallant officer did not go further. He was sure, notwithstanding the reductions made by the gallant General, his right hon. friend would find an ample field to work upon; and, therefore, he trusted that next year he would be able to come down to the House and state that he had effected a reduction in the army to the amount of, at least, 22,000 men. In the Colonies there were between 7,000 and 8,000 men which could be brought away without difficulty. He was sure that the country expected as great reductions in the Army as had been made in the Navy, and that it would be much disappointed if this was not done. It had been said, that the soldiers had lately been employed on services which they had never been called upon to perform before: this arose from the circumstance that the Magistracy, on every occasion, liked to resort to military force, instead of preserving the peace by means of proper arrangements, and by the ordinary civil power of the country.
Sir John Hobhouse
said, he was obliged to his hon. friend for his lecture; but he must say, that the field, which his hon. friend called on him to glean, had already been pretty well cleared. He would also say at once, that, since he came into office, he had seen enough of the wants of the public service to satisfy him that there were grounds of fierce debates between him and his hon. friend. They were, on certain points, he perceived, as much separated as the Poles, and there was little hope of their meeting at the Equator. With respect to the brevet which was expected at the Coronation, he could only say, that these were not times for extravagance; and he found that the omission of that Brevet saved the country 11,000l. a year.
An Hon. Member said, that the hon. member for Middlesex had shown, by his speech, how completely ignorant he was of the duties of the Commander-in-chief and the Military Secretary. It was part of the duty of the latter to see persons having communications to make on the public 488 service; and, as a matter of convenience to all parties, particular times were set apart for that purpose, and these were called levees: further, he thought it necessary to say, that no man in the Army spoke of the promotion made by Lord Hill as being marked by anything but the strictest impartiality, integrity, and judgment.
§ Mr. Robinson
, in the name of a large body of constituency who were sorely distressed, felt himself called upon to protest against the keeping up so large a standing Army. He must, therefore, urge Ministers to make up their minds, between the present moment and the period when the annual Estimates would be brought forward, to reduce the existing amount of the standing Army. In his opinion, there were no circumstances in our foreign relations, the situation of this country, or Ireland, which rendered the maintenance of so large a military force necessary. At all events, the pacifying measures which Government were about to adopt with respect to Ireland would, he trusted, enable them to dispense with the presence of troops in that country.
§ Mr. Hunt
said, that the Government would never be able to do without a large standing Army, until every man had a vote for the election of the Representatives of the nation. That used to be the doctrine of the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary at War, and his colleague, at their political dinners at the Crown and Anchor; but since they had changed their places in that House, they seemed to have changed their principles. As to Ireland, there really appeared no hope of getting the army out of that country. When the Catholic Question was under discussion, emancipation was constantly advocated on the ground of economy, because it was said, that, when it was granted there would be no necessity for a single soldier to remain in Ireland. Emancipation was granted, but the Army was not withdrawn. Now, the tithes were to be extinguished—that, he believed, was the phrase used by Ministers—but when there should no longer be tithes, the people of Ireland would not be satisfied. They would then agitate the Repeal of the Union.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, the hon. member for Middlesex is accustomed to take great liberties with persons present or absent; and he, therefore, ought not to object to my drawing a comparison between him and the hon. member for Preston. 489 I think the hon. member for Preston, on all occasions, exhibits much more candour and liberality than the hon. member for Middlesex. The hon. member for Middlesex stated, that the Commander of the Forces was in the habit of making improper or unnecessary promotions. The hon. Member ought to have known, that the Secretary at War controls the appointments of the Commander-in-chief, by having possession of the purse. In fact, no promotions can take place without his consent. With respect to the Commander-in-chief's levees, it is not for his own gratification that he holds them, but because they are found to be beneficial to the service. The hon. Member objects to Lord Hill, because he is the friend of the Duke of Wellington. Why does he not object to the Master General of the Ordnance, Sir James Kempt, on the same ground? There is not a distinguished officer in the service who is not the Duke of Wellington's friend. I have never heard a more illiberal attack upon any public officer than that which has been made upon Lord Hill; and I never can subscribe to the doctrine, that the Commander of the Forces ought to be merely a political instrument in the hands of the Government. Let me remind his Majesty's Ministers of the time, when they sat on the Opposition side of this House, that Gen. Sir Ronald Fergusson constantly acted with them, and voted in opposition to the government of the Duke of Wellington; yet that gallant General received a regiment from the Duke of Wellington. I do not say this out of anything like disrespect to the gallant General; on the contrary, I entertain the highest regard for him, I am well aware that he acted conscientiously, and was well deserving of promotion in his profession. Again, there was Sir George Anson, who also received a regiment, although he constantly voted in opposition to the late Government. I say, that political feeling was not suffered to mingle with the administration of the Army, under the Duke of Wellington. I protest against the doctrine of the hon. member for Middlesex, that military offices should be bestowed for political services. I was too young to be well acquainted with the political system of promotion in the Army in 1792, but I have repeatedly heard what was the state of the British Army when under the conduct of Lord Amherst, who, although a meritorious officer, too often consented, to make the 490 interests of the Army subservient to the political views of the Minister of that day. At that time it was not uncommon to find a major or a lieutenant-colonel lying in his cradle. I say, God forbid that this system should ever be revived in this country. Referring to the promotions made by Lord Hill, I will mention the case of an officer, under whom I served for several years, who has been promoted to the command of a regiment without any application, for, or any expectation of it. I allude to Sir William Inglis, who was entirely without political patronage, was personally unknown to Lord Hill, and had nothing but his services to recommend him. With respect to the expectation of getting Brevet rank at the time of the Coronation, I never made myself in any way a party to encourage such an expectation, as I was aware of the objections on the score of economy. But is the House acquainted with the real state of the case? Shortly after the peace, in consequence of an address from the House, there was an order issued relative to the pay to be bestowed on general officers, and it was then settled that there should be three classes of unattached officers, who should be paid differently; namely, the General, Lieutenant-general, and Major-general. This was considered, also, to apply to all officers hereafter to be promoted to this rank. But, in the year 1818, his Royal Highness the Duke of York, then Commander-in-chief, and the then Secretary at War, agreed that it would be desirable to make a change in this system, as the expense was found to be very great, and effectually to stop the promotion of the lower officers of the Army. However, as acting on this principle would prevent a Brevet, in 1818 it was changed, and the Generals, when not on active service, were only to receive their regimental half-pay. Thus, a Lieutenant-general, or a Major-general, might only receive the half-pay of Lieutenant-colonel or Major, and by this change in the mode of paying the general officers of the Army, no less a sum than 212,000l. had been taken from them since that time, making on the whole, a saving, at the expense of the officers of the Army, to the amount of 23,000l. a year. Under these circumstances, the Army had a right to expect, that when the sacrifice was fairly made on their parts, there would be a more frequent recurrence to Brevet promotion. The recent withholding of that is not deserving, 491 therefore, of such high commendation as has been bestowed on it. I must be allowed to express my approbation of the conduct of the right hon. Secretary, who acted with so much candour in telling the hon. member for Middlesex that he entirely disagreed with him in his views of economy, instead of endeavouring, by an appearance of yielding, to get over the vote to-night; and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, if he pursues this line of conduct, he will not want supporters in this House. If unhappily, however, he or the Government should, with a short-sighted economy, adopt the views of the hon. member for Middlesex, I am sure the inevitable result will be, the destruction of the efficiency of the Army.
§ Sir John Byng
said, it was evident that the hon. member for Middlesex was unacquainted with the nature of the service. The hon. Member had thought proper to lecture other persons, but had only shewn his utter incompetency for the task. He was sure that his Majesty's Government would maintain the present military establishment, if it were necessary to the welfare of the country. And he was glad that they had the manliness to avow their opinions. The reduction of 22,000 men, as proposed by the hon. Member, was perfectly impossible. With respect to the office of Commander-in-chief, he did not hesitate to say, that if it were not filled by the Duke of Wellington, it ought to be filled by Lord Hill. He earnestly deprecated any attempt to mix up political opinions with the duties of military service. And therefore, he was of opinion, that the Commander-in-chief deserved to be continued in his office for not voting upon the Reform question, instead of being threatened with dismissal.
said, that he was not surprised at finding military men averse to reductions in the army. In his intercourse with officers, they had always shown themselves disinclined to take part against the Government of the day. They seemed to think the country ought always to be prepared with horse, foot, and artillery, ready to fight a second Battle of Waterloo. He had no personal dislike to Lord Hill, but, he thought, his Lordship ought to be removed, on the ground of his being a Member—an influential and powerful Member—of the Government. He blamed the Government, however, more than his Lordship. On the point of promotion, he 492 would say nothing more than that certain individuals had, somehow or other risen in the Army. His object was to induce Ministers to bring down the next Estimate to the establishment of 1822, 1823, and 1824, when there were but 79,000 men employed, and he thought there was nothing chimerical in that proposal. For the present, he, of course, must agree to the votes then before the House, for the time was not sufficient for the King's Government to mature their arrangements.
§ Mr. Hunt
disclaimed having said any thing in justification of the present amount of the standing Army. He was most anxious that it should be reduced, but it was in vain that he raised his voice against it, when both sides of the House advocated its continuance at its present strength. It was his opinion, that whilst no more than one-seventh part of the male adult population were represented in that House, the Government would always be a Government against the inclination of the people, and would be obliged to keep up a standing Army.
Sir John Sebright
said, it was, of course, perfectly natural that officers of the Army should be opposed to any diminution of the existing force; but though he had long ceased to belong to the Army, he concurred with them, that further reductions at present would be dangerous. He was as great a friend to economy as the hon. member for Middlesex; but, in the present state of Ireland and of the world, he was surprised to hear any Gentleman urging the reduction of our military force. If he were disposed to find fault with Ministers, it should be for not having added to the military strength of the country. As to what had been said of mixing up politics with military duties, he (Sir John Sebright) happened, when a much younger man, to have been attached to the staff of Lord Amherst, who was Commander-in-chief, and had an opportunity of knowing the injurious effects of acting on such a system. Lord Amherst was a patriotic and excellent man, not influenced in the least degree by personal partialities or motives, but he had no power over the Army—he was dictated to by the Ministry—and great injury was done to the service and great injustice was done to individuals. At that time persons got the command of regiments, who should not have had the command of twelve men. Though he was now unconnected with the Army, yet from 493 the intercourse with relatives still connected with it, and other circumstances, he had some opportunity of knowing how the Army was conducted. Of late years it had been much improved, but if ever the Army had been commanded with fairness—if ever political objects had been kept completely out of view, and if ever justice had been done both to officers and men, it was since Lord Hill had been in his present office. He admired Lord Hill as a Commander-in-chief, the more because he was not a political partisan.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
fully concurred in the justice of testimony borne by the hon. Member who had just spoken to the merits of the Commander-in-chief. He rose, however, chiefly for the purpose of referring to one observation made by the hon. member for Middlesex. That hon. Member said, that officers did not dare to act openly in opposition to Government. Of the incorrectness of that assertion he was himself a proof. Avowing his opposition to the present Government, he had expressed himself as freely, and acted as openly, and as daringly as the hon. Member, who likes that word, could do on any occasion. When the army Estimates for the year were brought forward, he should think it his duty to trouble the Committee with his sentiments on various points connected with the military establishments of the country.
§ Mr. Leader
said, that the old and hacknied story of the disturbed condition of Ireland had this night again been brought to justify the continuance of an exorbitant military establishment. But the time was arrived when something else must be done for that country besides quartering a large military force on it. In peace, it was not imperative to have as large an army in Ireland as would be sufficient for a war establishment. Since the Union, he had witnessed an expenditure of nearly 100,000,000l. in maintaining military, ordnance, and commissariat establishments in Ireland. Was the time never to arrive when Ireland was to be governed by other means than the military and police? As the people paid to support this expenditure, they should know the causes which made it necessary, and the benefits which were derived from it. There was a new Secretary at War, and he should have been much pleased to have heard him make his d½but by stating that he was disposed to recommend a small de- 494 duction in the military establishment in Ireland, to be applied to some branch of national improvement. Ireland was too poor a country to have so large a sum taken annually from the productive classes, to be expended on a department which added nothing to the stock of national wealth. The lavish military expenditure had failed to produce benefit; and when another 100,000,000l. had been expended (if it ever could be collected) it would be found that the necessity of the expenditure must come under inquiry then, if the inquiry into it be eluded now. He would strongly recommend the Ministers, (as enough money, had been expended on the military establishments in Ireland) to try what a small deduction from the Army service, and applied to the naval department, might do for the maritime prosperity of a country, the advantages of whose insular situation ought not to be neglected or overlooked. In what part of the world, with the exception of Great Britain, was there to be found so fine a field for maritime and commercial improvement and enterprise? Why should not the British Navy have docks to be repaired, or why should there not be a single naval arsenal supplied with stores, on 3,000 miles of a sea cost, abounding in harbours and conveniences. Every man in the empire was wearied in seeking to discover the causes which made it necessary to garrison Ireland with 20,000 regular troops, and 7,000 armed police. He was one of those who would gladly see the experiment tried, of a small saving in the Army, to be applied in extending naval stations, and distributing a portion of naval patronage and support to a country which had every pretension for considering itself as the most highly-favoured and important maritime position amongst the nations of Europe. He was tired of seeing marching regiments in country barracks, consuming everything, and producing nothing. If the Representatives of England wanted to spend money on Ireland, he would implore them not to overlook the great advantages which might result from the application of a small sum to naval purposes. Undoubtedly Ireland was exposed to frequent disturbance, and to sudden insurrections; and until the condition of the people of Ireland was improved, there would be a degrading competition in England with the miserable Irish labourer, and Ireland would be a 495 disturbed country, employing, as at present, the military force of the empire. He had known the gentry in civil disturbances array themselves and defend their properties and families—they served without pay—they restored tranquillity and peace,—they would do so again and again, making the Army unnecessary in Ireland. There could be no necessity, indeed, for such services if there was good Government. Plans of relief, and measures of coercion, were alternately brought forward; but the important inquiry was, what had occasioned the disturbances, which were plain proofs of there being something radically vicious and distempered? The disease, whatever might be its cause—and that it was light no man could say, for it affected the happiness of many millions of people—had received no relief from the expenditure of hundreds of millions in support of the military force, it was time, therefore, to use some other method.
The question that the Land Forces should consist of 89,047 men having been again put from the Chair,
§ Mr. Hunt
would not divide the House upon this vote; but when the Army Estimates for the year were brought forward, he should move, as he had done last year, that the standing army should be reduced by 10,000 men.
Resolution agreed to, as were also the following votes:—
305,961l. for defraying the charge of the land forces in Great Britain and Ireland. 30,666l. for the general staff officers and officers of the hospitals. 25,245l. for allowances to the principal officers of several military departments, their clerks, deputies, and contingent expenses. 3,000l. for medicines, and surgical materials.
On the question that the sum of 8,424l. be granted to defray the charge of his Majesty's garrisons at home and abroad,
objected to the grant, on the ground that half of the persons who received garrison appointments did no duty. He was of opinion that if veteran officers were deserving, it would be better to pension them at once.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, he would leave the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, to answer the remark of the hon. Member. He believed that noble Lord had formerly satisfied himself that these appointments were useful.
Lord John Russell
should continue to support the continuance of those garrisons.
496 Vote agreed to.
§ On the question, that the sum of 990l. be granted to the Royal Military College,
said, he really thought no persons ought to be received into the College, but those whose friends could afford to pay for their education. He saw no reason why officers' sons were to be educated at the expense of the public.
Sir John Hobhouse
said, that the number of the higher class of students was increased, while that of the lower was diminished, and that a saving would consequently accrue to the public.
Vote agreed to.
5,773l. was voted to the Royal Military Asylum, and the Hibernian Military School.
§ On the vote being put of 16,768l. to the volunteer corps of Great Britain and Ireland,
§ Mr. Dawson
suggested, that the brigade majors in Ireland, who were hardly military men, should be discontinued.
Sir John Hobhouse
intimated, that it was resolved that four of the ten employed should be done away with.
Sir Robert Bateson
said, he must take that opportunity to declare, that the yeomanry of Ireland had been of the greatest service to the country; they had been grossly maligned of late, but the time would come when justice would be done to their merits.
§ Colonel Torrens
disapproved of a system that placed arms in the hands of a party, for the purpose of coercing the majority of the community.
Vote agreed to, as were also the following:—170,958l. 5s. 8d. for regiments in the East India Company's territories, and the troops and companies and dépôts at home; and 4,800l. to defray the charge of Exchequer fees in Great Britain upon issues to be made for effective army services; as well as 32,200l. for the army pay of general officers; 23,000l. for the full pay of retired officers; 169,600l. for half pay and military allowances.
§ On a Resolution being moved that 22,425l. be granted for Foreign Half Pay,
said, as the foreign officers for whose half-pay this charge was made, were employed by us to reestablish governments under which they now generally lived, he thought there would be nothing unreasonable in calling upon such governments to support them.
Sir John Hobhouse
feared, that the o[...] his decrease that could be expected from t[...] charge, must arise from casualties.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
As these officers engaged in our service upon certain terms, we were bound in faith and honour to fulfil them.
§ Mr. Robinson
thought, the matter might be made the subject of negotiation between the governments of the various countries, where such officers resided, and probably, a commutation could thereby be obtained.
believed some of these officers were in full-pay in the service of their respective sovereigns.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
If so they forfeited their half-pay, unless they had his Majesty's permission to enter into such service. Probably with regard to the out-pensioners, some commutation could be made with them. Many such persons resided abroad, and it daily became more difficult to identify them. He had, when in office, endeavoured to effect this object, and, he trusted, it would not be overlooked.
The vote agreed to.
The sum of 6,683l. 19s. was then proposed to defray the charge for reduced Local Militia Adjutants, retired officers of the Militia, from the 1st of January to 31st of March, 1832.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
thought this charge ought to be inserted in the Militia Estimates, and it would be an improvement in the Estimates of the sums for the effective and non-effective services were added together, so as the whole cost could be obtained at one view.
Vote agreed to.
The next grant proposed was the sum of 36,980l. to defray the charge of pensions to be paid to the widows of officers of the land forces, from the 1st of January, to the 31st of March, 1832.
§ Sir Adolphus Dalrymple
said, he could not suffer this vote to pass without calling the serious attention of the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary at War, to the alteration that had been made in granting these pensions; and he could assure him, with all sincerity and truth, that it had caused great sensation among those officers of the army who had become acquainted with it. This subject was fully brought before the House in 1818,* when an alteration was made in the warrant which*Hansard's Parl, Debates, vol, xxxviii. p. 376.498 directed that widows, in addition to the former oath, should be called upon to swear that they had not an income equal to double the amount of their pension. On that occasion, Mr. Lyttleton, the then member for Worcestershire, brought the matter before the House, by a distinct motion, for an humble address to the Prince Regent, praying that the new warrant might be revoked, and the pensions be issued as before, when the sense of the House was so decidedly in favour of Mr. Lyttleton's Motion, that the new warrant was withdrawn. As there were many Members present who were not in the House in 1818, and who might not be aware of the footing on which these pensions had hitherto been granted, he begged to explain it. Pensions to officers' widows had formed a charge in the votes of this House ever since there had been a standing Army in the country, as would be seen by the Journals. From the year 1717, when a fund was established by a warrant of George 1st, up to the present time, no change had been made in the oath prescribed, and the pension to officers' widows had always been considered as one of the advantages held out to the officers entering the service. On this subject he begged to refer hon. Members to the Report of a Committee in 1746, and to state that officers' widows received their pensions as a matter of course, until the issuing of the warrant in the first year of his present Majesty. The new warrant did not allow a pension to the widow of an officer who married within ten years of his entering the service, and excluded those who had married beyond a certain age: he approved of those regulations. It was also stated that the pension was not to be granted to widows in wealthy circumstances; but all these provisions were expressly directed to be applied to widows of officers marrying subsequently to 1830. He, therefore, complained that the warrant had not been justly construed. Widows were now called upon to take an oath, not prescribed in the warrant, or by Act of Parliament, as to their fortune, and to furnish certificates to the same effect. He knew two instances of widows who had been refused pensions—one because her husband, in a long life in the service, had saved about 11,000l.; the other, because she had a few hundreds a-year from West India property, although her husband's commission must have cost him 499 5,000l. He also knew that several officers thinking their wives were secure of their pensions, on the faith of Parliament, had ensured their lives to add to their wives provision, and they were now afraid that, after having denied themselves common comforts for that purpose, that the pension might be refused in consequence. For these reasons, he again entreated his right hon. friend, the Secretary at War, to give the subject his most serious consideration.
Sir John Hobhouse
said, this was rather a delicate subject, and would require the attention of whoever might be Secretary at War. He believed, however, that the hon. and gallant Member had not stated this matter quite correctly. Before the year 1830 the word "proper" was inserted in the warrants granting these pensions, since that time, upon the recommendation of the Committee which sat upon superannuations, the word "proper" had been erased, and the words "wealthy circumstances" had been substituted in the warrants. The substitution of these words had given rise to a question, whether the Secretary at War had a right to inquire into the amount of any widow's income who desired to be put on the army pension list. His right hon. predecessor in the War-office (Sir H. Parnell) was of opinion that he had a right to institute such inquiry. Still, though such was the case, there were only four instances in which a refusal to grant the pension had been given. The first was in the case of a widow, who enjoyed a clear income of 1,856l. a-year; the next was in the case of a widow who had 630l. a-year; the third was in the case of a widow who had 400l. a-year; and the fourth was in the case of a widow who refused to give any account of her income. He thought that it would be very difficult to draw up a scale by which to determine, when a widow having children should, and when she should not, receive a pension. But such a scale might be drawn up with respect to childless widows. The warrant expressly said, no widows had any claim as a matter of right, and he was of opinion, therefore, that no general rule could be devised to meet such cases, and the decision of them must rest, in all future years with the Secretary at War for the time being. Without going into the question further, however, at present he would content himself with saying, that there were widows in the receipt of pensions who 500 would do well to consider whether ought to continue to hold them.
§ Sir Henry Parnell
said, that when he held the office of Secretary at War, he had consulted the best informed persons in his department, as to what had been the usual course of proceeding respecting the application of officers' widows for pensions, and that he had formed his decision upon the information which he had so received. In coming to the decision which he had formed upon this subject, he assured the House that he had been particularly desirous not to do any thing that was either unjust or severe to the widows of those gallant men who had shed their best blood in the service of the country.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
said, it was impossible to establish any general rule to fix what were "wealthy circumstances." When he had held the office of Secretary at War, a case had come before him of the widow of a general officer who had an income of 1,400l. a-year, but then the lady had a large family, and her husband placing the greatest confidence in her discretion had left his whole property to her to divide among the children. He thought, therefore, that she was as fit an object of the King's bounty as another widow without such an income, but who had no such family claims. But, surely, it was no hardship that ladies under such circumstances should be called upon to make an authentic statement of their means and the claims upon them. The right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who was a Member of the Finance Committee, must recollect that it was in that Committee that the revised warrant with respect to widows' pensions was suggested. The first article of that warrant declaring that widows had not a claim of right, was not intended to bar proper applications, but only to prevent improper ones. There could not, in his mind, be a more sacred claim than that the widow of a man who had lost his life in the service of his country, in battle, or in an unhealthy climate, should be provided for. When it was agreed in the Finance Committee, that wealthy widows should be excluded from the King's bounty, the next case was to consider how that resolution could be carried into effect, and it was agreed to leave the case to the discretion of the Secretary at War, who would be guided in each individual case by the circumstances connected with it, But an investigation 501 into private affairs was at all times odious, and he understood the affidavit required, was very unpopular in the army, and, as he believed, there might be means of obtaining the desired information by other methods, such as through the commanding officer, who had the power of recommending widows for pensions; he should advise that the affidavit might be dispensed with, particularly as only four pensions had been refused in the course of a year. It would have been better to grant them than run the risk of refusing one that deserved it, and so going on an unsound principle.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, that during the time that he was in office, he had acted on the principle laid down by his right hon. friend. He could not, however, admit that the distressed circumstances of an officer's widow formed the sole foundation for granting her a pension. It was the services performed by her husband in his life-time that gave her a claim after his death for some remuneration. He was perfectly aware that nothing was more unpopular in the Army than the requisition which compelled every widow to declare the amount of her income upon affidavit at the time she made application for a pension. The Secretary at War was generally at war with every one else in the Army in consequence of the numerous applications which he had to examine and to refuse. In answering applications of this kind, it was impossible to lay down any general rule, as each case differed from its fellow in several circumstances. Still the Secretary at War ought not to be too strict in deciding upon claims of this nature: on the contrary, he ought to hold the scales fairly, and to decide impartially between the public and the unfortunate applicants for these pensions.
§ Sir Adolphus Dalrymple
begged to assure hon. Members, that for the last hundred years, the pensions had not been granted on account of the poverty of the widows; a warrant had been issued by Queen Anne, about the year 1708, in which the terms "indigent circumstances" were made use of; but these words were omitted on the warrant issued by George 1st in 1717.
§ Mr. Ruthven
said, he had no connexion whatever with military affairs, but he deprecated any attempt to institute an inquisitorial investigation into the state of the affairs of the widows of the brave men 502 who had died in the public service. It would be a most cruel proceeding to make any deduction in the pittance allowed to their widows. In some instances, it might be matter of regret, that pensions were obtained undeservedly, but to interfere with the general principle of pensions to officers widows on that account, was most unjust.
Vote agreed to.
On the vote for 42.047l. for allowances on the compassionate list, royal bounty, and pensions, &c., to officers for wounds, being read by the Chairman,
§ Sir Adolphus Dalrymple
said, that a letter had appeared in The Times paper of Friday last, signed St. G. Lyster, upon this subject; in which that person complained, that he had been deprived of his military pension, without any reference to the late king. He knew nothing of the case, but he wished to ask the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Hobhouse), whether he would make an inquiry into it.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
would say but a few words on this subject. This was a case of which the right hon. Gentleman opposite would find in the War-office a minute in his hand-writing. In that the whole case of Captain Lyster would be seen, and he, as responsible for the proceeding adopted towards that officer, should be at all times ready to answer any question that might be proposed with regard to it.
Vote agreed to.
On the grant for 378,579l. 1s. 1d. for the charge of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals, and the in and out pensioners of the same,
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, that it was a shame to take a shilling in the pound from the pittance allowed to poor soldiers as a pension. How or for what purpose this deduction was made, he could not understand; but when he saw pensions to an immense amount granted to officers of state, and other high persons, he thought it was most disgraceful to take this paltry sum from the poor man who had probably been wounded in the public service. He therefore hoped an end would be put to the system.
Sir John Hobhouse
said that this, though an apparent, was not a real, deduction from the pensions of these poor men—on the contrary, it afforded some, though a very inadequate, return for the service done to them. Formerly pensioners were 503 allowed to borrow money, which they could only get on very disadvantageous terms; whereas now, they were paid the half-year in advance, and saved from the usurious interest they had heretofore paid. If it was taken into consideration how many of them died between the commencement of the half-year and the day when the pension became due, it would be found that the Government was a loser, and that there was no want of charity in the deduction.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, the explanation of the right hon. Baronet amounted to this, these poor people were badly off before, and they were no better off now.
was convinced that the business of the hospitals could be done without such an establishment of clerks as were maintained at them, and their salaries might go, if the business was properly conducted, to augment the allowances of the poor pensioners.
Lord John Russell
assured his hon. friend, that there were no more clerks employed than was necessary, the immense number of these pensioners occasioned a very voluminous correspondence.
Vote agreed to, as was 12,695l. 15s. 1d. for superannuations, and 3,650l. for Exchequer fees on the payments for the non-effective service.
Sir John Hobhouse
then observed, that he had pleasure in mentioning to the House that he had heard from the medical gentlemen who had witnessed the course of the Cholera in the north of England, that not one soldier had been attacked by the disease. He would also state, that a place for which Government had been in treaty was taken for the Guards, in order to secure so valuable a branch of the public service from any danger of this disorder.