§ Mr. Ellice
said, that he would follow the advice of the hon. member for Middlesex, and proceed at once to the business before the House by the shortest possible process; nor should he waste the time of the House, he thought, in introducing it by the very few observations which he conceived necessary for the explanation of the Army Estimates of the present year. The shortest process, he fancied, would be at once to institute a comparison between the present and the Estimates of last year. He would, in the outset, take some credit to the Government, while he congratulated the House on the altered circumstances of the country, which had enabled him to propose a very considerable reduction in the amount of the military force. The present, he believed, would be the least Estimates which had been proposed to the House since the Union with Ireland. It was intended to reduce the military force of the country by about 8,000 men, so that the whole amount of the army would be gradually reduced to 70,355 men. This reduction was to be effected by the mode recommended in the Committee of last year—viz. by not filling up the vacancies as they occurred in the army. This reduction, however, included but three officers, 964 and he was sure the hon. member for Middlesex would be satisfied it would be the best economy so to reduce the army as to leave the country prepared for any sudden emergency at the least possible expense. It was on this principle that he had acted in endeavouring gradually to reduce the number of men without interfering with the establishments of the different regiments. Of the three officers he had alluded to, one was the colonel of the Ceylon Regiment, whose reduction had been recommended by the Committee of last year, and the other two were second majors of cavalry. The reductions were, in the cavalry, 580 men; in the infantry, 6,640; and, in the Foot Guards, 540; by which a saving would accrue to the country of 123,142l. per annum. This saving arose principally from the reduction in the number of men in the colonial regiments, and by not filling up casualties as they occurred, and by reducing the sum formerly allowed for the table of the Guard at St. James's. Another item in the Estimates he would allude to, on which there was a considerable saving, was the Staff of the Army, the expense of which was lessened about 2,000l.; though he was aware that the charges for this department appeared increased on the Estimates in consequence of the transference of some garrison appointments to the Staff Estimates. The next item in which reductions had been effected, was that of the Public Departments, which was to the amount of 4,314l. A considerable saving had also been effected in the expenses attendant on the Royal Military Asylum, the funds of which were appropriated to the education of the children of soldiers in this country and in Ireland. A much better system had been adopted in this establishment with regard to the filling up of vacancies, and the result was, that a considerable saving had been effected in the money voted by Parliament last year. The next item to which he would allude, was the volunteer corps. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had asked a question with regard to this subject, and he believed he could now give a satisfactory answer to it. In consequence of what, passed last year, he had pressed on the Irish Government the expediency of doing away with an expense which did not appear of utility to the country. The Irish yeomanry had not, it seemed, been called out for the last two or three years, 965 and it appeared to him, therefore, impossible to admit that account into the Estimates. A reduction of expense had already been effected by not calling out the English yeomanry except on permanent duty. In consequence of this practice, a saving of 3s. 6d. a day per man had been effected. The saving altogether, in both the English and Irish yeomanry corps, would be about 20,000l. These were the principal heads in the Estimates on which he thought it necessary to call the attention of the House. In the expense for non-effective men there was also a considerable reduction, but he would not fatigue the House by entering into details, it would suffice to observe, that it amounted to 104,000l. The total decrease of expense, therefore, would be about 299,000l., including the sum of 30,000l. in Exchequer fees, for which the Government did not take credit. What he had done in the way of reduction, he had intirely clone in obedience to the recommendation of the Committee of Inquiry into the expenses of all the higher departments of the army. He could assure the House, that no charge had been made in the present Estimates—not one shilling expended—for which bonâ fide service was not to be performed. An alteration had been made in the present Estimates with respect to the colonial regiments and the emoluments of the different officers, agreeably to the recommendation of the Committee of last year. On the recommendation of that Committee the colonelship of the Ceylon Regiment had been abolished, and the garrison establishments placed on a different footing. An alteration, too, had been made in the garrison Estimates. A distinction was made between garrisons which had effective duty, and garrisons where there was none, and the former was added to the staff, so that they might come every year under the control of the House; and if, at any time, their duties were not deemed necessary, the House might resolve on their reduction. The Committee would find the particular charges for the garrison expenses added to the staff and contingency charges. One garrison had already been abolished, that of Annapolis, and its duties transferred to the chief garrison in Nova Scotia. Another alteration was with respect to the Guards. In former Estimates there had always been a vote for recruiting and hospital expenses, which provided for 464 non-effective men on the establishment. 966 For this he had thought it better to substitute a vote enabling the Guards to manage their own recruiting and hospital expenses, which amounted to 8,780l. He should not disguise from the House, that all these allowances found their way, sooner or later, to the stock-purse of the regiment. He admitted, that it was objectionable, and believing that every officer should be well paid, and that the House and the country so wished it, he thought it much better that such charges should not be placed under fictitious heads. Therefore, he was anxious to form for the Guards a regulation in lieu of that which had been so long established; and if he had not, at present, wholly succeeded, he could assure the Committee it was no fault of his. If the House would give him the same credit which was extended to him last year, and leave the matter as it at present stood in his hands, he would earnestly endeavour by next year to place the matter on a more intelligible and less offensive basis. And he could assure the Committee, that however anxious they were for alterations in this and other points, they could not go at a more rapid pace than he was disposed to do. He wished here to say a few words as to the allowances of the Guards. The regiments of Guards cost, in fact, no more than the effective force of the line—the men had certainly a penny a day more; but this, from living in the metropolis, and one thing or another, did not occasion the expenditure on them of one shilling more than what was called for by the necessities of an equal number of men from other corps. [Mr. Hume was understood to express some surprise.] If the hon. member for Middlesex doubted what he said, he assured him he was able and willing to convince him by a reference to documents. The next point recommended by the Committee of last year, which he had endeavoured to effect, was the making of certain reductions in the allowances to certain general officers. To this recommendation, however, the Committee had annexed conditions with which he had found it impossible to comply. The circumstances, he believed, would be found a sufficient justification for the continuation of the allowances. The ages of the officers in question averaged above sixty-five years, and their power of selling their regimental commissions would have been a very bad bargain for the Govern- 967 ment. He, therefore, though reluctantly felt obliged not to make up the payments to those general officers to 400l. a year each, but thought it better to leave the matter to the liberality of the House, rather than bring it forward formally in the Committee. He should be most happy to have it in his power to remedy the omission. Another recommendation of the Committee which he had not been able to accomplish was an effective reduction in the amount of the staff and head-quarters; but he hoped the Committee would abstain from discussing this subject until the vote came, in due course, before the House. He should then, he thought, be able to show how it was he had not been able to follow up the recommendation of the Committee on that point. He believed, he had now enumerated all the recommendations of the Committee of last year. Those which were practicable it had given him great pleasure to carry into effect, and, he trusted, in regard to those which he had not fulfilled, he should be able to give satisfactory reasons for his non-compliance. In bringing forward the Estimates of last year, he had made certain promises to the House, in reference to remedying some of the charges. He had fulfilled these as far as the Irish yeomanry and the Exchequer fees were concerned. The charge in the Estimates for Kilmainham Hospital was made with the view of facilitating the settling of the accounts of that establishment, but measures had been taken for transferring all the in-pensioners to the superintendence of the Board of Ordnance in Ireland, while the out-pensioners would be transferred to that of Chelsea Hospital, which, through the liberality of the country, was enabled to maintain 85,000 pensioners. It was well known, that soldiers in general preferred being out-pensioners to living in the hospital. They liked to enjoy their pensions with their families in the country. He was well aware that a strong disposition naturally prevailed amongst the members from Ireland against the doing away with any establishment in that country that might be useful, or to which the people of Ireland were attached. Now, he did not propose to do away with the establishment of Kilmainham Hospital, he only proposed to transfer it to an establishment already in existence at Island-bridge, close by it, so as to lessen 968 considerably the amount of the expense required for maintaining it. It would there exist at a far diminished expense, and if it should be found necessary hereafter at any time to renew the more expensive establishment at Kilmainham Hospital, it would be in a situation fit, at once, to be brought back there. The way in which he proposed to effect this arrangement was, to transfer the establishment at Kilmainham Hospital to the Artillery and Engineer department at Island-bridge, where, as every one who knew the nature of that department would acknowledge, it would be maintained in the same orderly and efficient state; and if the service of the State, or a war should hereafter render it necessary to renew the establishment at Kilmainham Hospital, the establishment existing at Island-bridge would, at once, enable the Government of the country to do so. He calculated that, by this arrangement, no less a saving than 12,000l. a-year would be effected, without any detriment whatever to the public service. An impression had gone abroad, that, in regard to the Royal Military School in the Phœnix-park, some injustice had been done to Ireland. He could assure hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the same rule had been applied to the school at Chelsea, as to the school at Dublin, and he would pledge himself that no advantage whatever should be given to the one over the other. He had included the reductions which he had just mentioned in the course of his statement last Session, and he conceived, therefore, that the Committee would allow that he had a right to claim credit for having carried them into effect. He had now to state to the Committee, that a Commission was issued previous to the present Session of Parliament, which had been long pressed on the Government of the country, and for the carrying of which important object into effect they were particularly indebted to the efforts of his noble friend, the Postmaster-General, and his noble friend, the Paymaster of the Forces. The Commission to which he was alluding, was a Commission issued for the purpose of reporting upon the expediency of consolidating the Civil Departments of the Army. That Commission had not been idle since its appointment; a great deal of evidence had been taken by it, and considerable progress had been made by it towards bringing its labours to a successful con- 969 clusion. He conceived, that the consolidations which he had already stated to the Committee as having been made in the Estimates for the present year were, in themselves, all decided steps towards carrying into effect the principle of consolidation. He thought, that he might how state to the Committee those consolidations which, in pursuance of the recommendations of the Commission, he trusted to be able to accomplish. Before mentioning the first of these measures, he begged to say, that he was well aware, that he was anticipating a portion of the report of the Commissioners, but, he conceived, that on a subject of this kind it was, of course, more convenient to state to the House the grounds on which intended alterations were to be made. Some little time must be given to the Commission to carry the objects which it had in view into effect,—to put an end to various abuses, without pressing too much upon it in the present Session. All of them could easily suggest fine plans of consolidation; but all those upon whom the responsibility of carrying them into effect devolved, knew, that, what with the business of Parliament, and what with the ordinary routine of office, if such things were to be carried into effect, in a businesslike manner, and so as to do credit to those who effected them, great attention and great industry must be applied. He thought he might state, that the Commissioners had made up their minds to carry into effect the following arrangements in the course of the present year. In the first instance, it was proposed to abolish the Board of Control of Army Accounts; seeing that, since the late war, the duties of that Board, there being no Foreign Boards, no Commissariat abroad to Control, and for many other reasons, had been greatly diminished in amount, he saw no difficulty in transferring the remaining duties which appertained to it to the office which he at present filled. It was next proposed to take to the War-office the whole charge of the half-pay of the Ordnance, and the whole of the allowances to the widows and families of officers connected therewith, so that the department, in addition to the other duties of the War-office, might be managed in one office. There was, in his opinion, nothing to prevent the whole of that business being transacted in the War-office, with very little addition to the 970 labour there at present, and without any additional expense. The arrangement was, therefore, one which, while it would be productive of no inconsiderable saving of the public money, would, in no degree, detract from the efficiency of the department. That, it appeared to him, was the true way to proceed in carrying into effect the principles of consolidation and economy. The next arrangement which he proposed was this,—namely, to transfer the whole of the Commissariat to the War-office. He did not mean to say, that this arrangement was, at present, absolutely determined upon. It was an arrangement, however, under consideration, and he had no doubt it would be effected. He proposed, then, to transfer the Commissariat from the Treasury to the War Office, leaving still to the Treasury the payment of all monies for the military chest of the colonies, and leaving to the Treasury besides that effective control which it should always possess over every department of the State where the payment of money was concerned. He reckoned with confidence on having this arrangement carried into effect in the course of the present year. He need not say, that the Commissariat department in a time of peace was not of that extensive nature to prevent the duties of it being entirely transacted in the War-office, and in that way, while public economy would be consulted, a complication of business in various offices, and a great waste of time consequent thereon, would be completely obviated. Let them take as an instance of the present complicated mode of passing accounts, the passing of the accounts of some offices in Jamaica. They are first sent to the War-office, whence they are transmitted to the Treasury, who, knowing nothing of them, refer them to the controller of accounts, whence they are actually sent back to the War-office. Lately, in the matter of an account of only 5l. or 6l., he had consumed a quire of foolscap in communications backwards and forwards on the subject. The proposed arrangement, therefore, would do away with all that unnecessary trouble, whilst it would be productive of greater simplicity and economy. In addition to the arrangements which he had just mentioned, he had to state that an arrangement was in contemplation (indeed, it was one that had been often much pressed on Government) to limit the present allowance of half-pay 971 to officers who had already entered the service, and to exclude from it those who might hereafter enter the army. He only mentioned the subject as one which had been very much pressed upon the attention of Government. He thought that some arrangement of the kind might be made without infringing upon the equitable considerations due to the parties more immediately concerned, and he knew that if such an arrangement could be effected, it would tend to relieve the public in future from an enormous charge. He would not go into the various details connected with those subjects which he had stated to the Committee. They would be conveniently and properly discussed when the different estimates to which they related came before the Committee. He had contented himself on the present occasion with merely making a general statement of what had been done, and of what it was intended to do, in the department over which he had the honour to preside. He trusted that, after what he had stated, it would be acknowledged that he had fully redeemed the promises which he had made last year, and he hoped that, under such circumstances he might now take credit for the reductions which he had mentioned as in contemplation at present. Having performed what he had promised last year, it was not too much to ask of the House to give him credit for that which he promised to carry into effect in the course of the ensuing year. Some Gentlemen, in considering the Estimates, were in the habit, not of considering what should he a fitting expenditure for the army of this country in the present day, but for comparing that expenditure with the expenditure for the army in, according to their opinion, the golden period of 1792. The hon. member for Oldham, for instance, had asked him whether he intended to compare the present Estimates with those at the conclusion of the last peace? Now, probably, that hon. Member would find in the long-run that he (Mr. Ellice) did not differ so much as he might imagine with him on this subject. Now, in comparing the Estimates of the present year with those for 1792, it would be found that, though the effective force in 1792 was much more limited than at present, yet the charge for it was nearly as great. The actual charge for the existing effective force this year was 2,839,000l. But if the same amount of forces were 972 paid at the rate of 1792, the establishment at present would cost much more than they did. The estimate for 1792 was 1,473,000l. for England, and 452,000l. for Ireland, making nearly 2,000,000l. for a much less numerous force. He agreed with the hon. Member that the increased charge in the Estimates had arisen from an obvious cause, but it was one beyond cure; it had arisen from the additional allowances made to the men in the course of the war, in order to keep pace with the depreciation then in progress in the currency. The fact was, that if such an increase had not then been made to the soldier's allowances, he would not have been, in consequence of the great and then every day augmenting depreciation of the currency, able, out of his pay, to provide his subsistence. The cause, therefore, of the increased charge was, as he had said, already apparent, but it was a cause beyond cure. He did not suppose that any gentleman would propose to remedy it, for it could only be remedied in one way. He had certainly received suggestions from different parts of the country, to reduce the charge by reducing the pay of the soldiers; but he was sure that no Gentleman in that House would do so. [Mr. Cobbett: I would.] He would only say, in reply to that assertion, that he would not be the person to do it. But with regard to the higher ranks in the army, their pay and allowances had not been proportionably increased, because there was not the same reason for increasing them. He might state what he had stated to the House last year, that the pay and emoluments of colonels in the army were at the same rate now that they were at the time of the battle of Minden. If the hon. Gentleman could find out any mode of diminishing the charge beyond that effected by the hand of time, he (Mr. Ellice) must confess his inability to discover it. While we had at present a more effective army, and one larger in amount than in 1792, it only cost us, exclusive of the increased allowances he had mentioned, what the army did in 1792; and it was therefore plain that we had since that period got rid of some unnecessary expenses in the army, and that the general management of it was better and more economical. If the present estimate were compared with the estimate for 1792, it would be seen that the number of men employed for the defence of the old colo- 973 nies was not now quite so much as at that period, notwithstanding that those colonies had, of course, since that period, greatly increased in population. So far from there having been an increase in the amount of men, in our old colonies, there had been a decrease in every one of them, with the exception of New South Wales. Not only had the force been diminished in the old colonies, but the staff had also been diminished. If, then, they took into account the number of colonies which we had acquired by conquests during the war, containing a population as great, if not greater, than that of the old colonies, it would be seen that, according to the scale of the year 1792, we had a much smaller force now in the colonies than at that period. The number of men employed in the old colonies in 1792 was 16,888, and the force employed in the colonies since conquered, being about equal to the old colonies in population was 16,199. Out of the reduced vote which he meant to propose upwards of 30,000 would be wanted for the colonies. He was only anxious for inquiry to be made into all those points; indeed, into every matter connected with the military expenditure of the country. He was most ready to go with his gallant friend opposite into an inquiry into all the facts connected with the pay of the higher officers of the army, and into every other branch of the military expenditure of the country, with a view to introduce every possible economy consistent with the due maintenance of the public service. He had already stated to the House that the present estimate was lower than any since the meeting of the Imperial Parliament. Though there were 9,000 or 10,000 men more in it than the lowest limit in 1822–23, yet the present estimate was less by 338,000l. than that of 1822, and less by 314,000l. than that of 1823. That reduction, however, had principally taken place in consequence of the falling off of what was called "the dead weight" of the army. The present estimate was, he repeated, lower than any that had been presented since the union. It was lower than the estimate for the year 1830, with the same numerical amount of effective force. In saying-those things, he was sure that it was unnecessary for him to claim at the hands of the House that credit for the army for its present effective state of discipline which it so eminently deserved. He could declare that 974 during the year that he had now held the office of Secretary at War, not one complaint had been made to him from any part of the country as to want of subordination, or the display of undisciplined conduct on the part of the army. He believed he would be borne out in what he stated by hon. Members from all parts of the three kingdoms, and he was satisfied that when the House considered the arduous and difficult service to which the troops in many instances were exposed—their being sent to different and unhealthy climates—the officers often consigned to an exile of twenty years under the burning sun of India—he was sure, he said, that when the House took all these circumstances into account, any hon. Gentleman, whatever might be his sense of economy, would not propose any reductions in allowances so hardly earned. Let them but look to the dreary prospect in times of peace before those officers who had nothing but their pay to live on, absolutely without a hope of promotion, and employed in a service infinitely more harassing than the service of other countries in time of war (for the English service was more severe in times of peace, on account of our colonies, than that of any other European country in time of war),—in a service, too, destitute of the glory that accompanied the hardships of war—a service, in a word, cheerless, harassing, and severe;—when they looked at those things, he was sure that there was no Gentleman in that House that would say that the officers or soldiers of the army were overpaid. That, then, being the case, he should like to know where those millions were to come from, that some persons were so fond of stating could be saved from the Army Estimates of the country. He was sure his hon. friend opposite, the member for Middlesex, would give him credit for sincerity in his endeavours to effect every possible reduction in the military expenditure of the country—he had proved it by redeeming the pledges he had made to the House; but this he would say, that never would he attempt to reduce a single shilling of that expenditure by committing an act of injustice to the officers or soldiers of the army. That was a species of economy that he should never practise. Suppose his hon. friend opposite should propose to reduce the number of men to the amount it was in 1822. His hon. friend must know that a forced reduc- 975 tion of that description, supposing it expedient on other grounds, would not be in itself an entire saving. Before he came down to the House, he had made out a comparative statement of the effects produced by the sudden reduction in 1822. There was certainly a considerable reduction made in that year in the effective force of the country, reducing it even 10,000 men below the number asked for in the estimate of this year. But what was the consequence? Why, that the "dead weight," which, in 1820, was 2,700,000l., in 1822 was 2,800,000l., and in 1823, was 2,900,000l. while in the present year its amount was only 2,500,000l. Even, supposing the sudden reduction then effected to have been expedient, it was objectionable on the score of economy. It appeared to him, that the wiser, the better, and the more economical way was to wait the fullness of time, which would continue in its inevitable progress making those reductions it had already made in the dead weight of the country. Suppose that a portion of the effective force should be now reduced, and that any circumstances at the end of the year should render it necessary to increase the military force of the country; hon. Gentlemen would find that it would be extremely difficult without calling out the militia, to provide the force required, while the expense of the operation would exceed any saving that the temporary reduction of a number of good and effective troops might have produced. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving "that a number of land forces not exceeding 88,952, of whom 7684 were to be reduced in the course of the year, be maintained for the service of the country for the year ending 31st of March, 1835."
§ Mr. Hume
had heard with the greatest satisfaction the speech of the right hon. the Secretary at War; and he must in candour state, that, during his whole Parliamentary life, a more explicit, a more open, and more manly exposition, never fell from a public servant of the Crown. No estimate could be more fairly and candidly explained. The opening statements could not be quarrelled with. The details were given in a manner that must have shown they were given with a view to avoid anything like obscurity or misconception. He should give the right hon. Secretary full credit for his desire to reduce the national bur- 976 thens, and if he had the sole direction of his department, he would be perfectly satisfied. He was bound to state, that the promises of last year were honestly fulfilled. He could not quarrel with his right hon. friend. Many reductions were made which, but for him, he was quite sure, would not have been attempted. Having thus discharged his duty towards the right hon. Gentleman, he had another duty to perform to the House. He had never advocated the propriety of destroying any party, for the purpose of carrying a measure which was thought essential; he should be sorry to sacrifice an individual interest. Such would not be economy; he should deprecate it. With regard to the reduction made in 1822, to which his right hon. friend had alluded, no reduction had ever been made more hastily. It arose from a vote suddenly passed by that House. All reductions had been refused throughout that year, when, just at the close of the Session, he carried an Address to his Majesty for a reduction in the army, and in ten days afterwards the amount was diminished by 10,000 men. That was not the way to proceed. Two years after, the veteran battalions were reduced. The next year they were recalled into active service, and shortly afterwards again reduced, the officers retiring on full pay. Was this the boasted economy of the governments that had ruled England? By such measures the dead weight was increased, and the country made to endure the present weight of taxation. The House could not, however, recall the past; they could only adequately provide for the future. Let hon. Members, then, determine now what was best to be done. Every hon. Gentleman who had a seat in that House, unless, indeed, he represented a most limited constituency, was pledged to lessen the public charges. From statements before him, it appeared that the sum levied on the empire amounted to 50,000,000l., of which 46,170,000l. found its way into the Exchequer. The taxation of the country, therefore, amounted to 50,000,000l. He fully concurred in the justice of the question of the hon. member for Dublin. Was the country prepared to keep up such an enormous amount of taxation, under the present circumstances of the times? The right hon. Secretary had said he could not save the nation 2,600,000l., because the amount, 977 in 1822, was so great. He denied the position. We should legislate for the present, not in reference to the past. He would maintain that, our military expenditure might be reduced by diminishing the number of men, for it was only by reducing expenditure that he would propose to remit the taxes that pressed so heavily on the country. It was said, that those were the lowest estimates that had been presented since the Union. He was prepared to show that, under the present vote, they were higher than in 1822 or 1823; for, while the expenditure under that vote, in the present estimate, was 3,000,000l., it was only 2,500,000l. in 1822, and 2,300,000l. in 1823. He was ready to admit, however, that the present estimates, as a whole, were lower than those of the years just mentioned, by 15,000l. But that was a small sum. There was no getting the Ministers to reduce the expenditure, unless the House applied some gentle force to them. His right hon. friend had talked of those who wished for reductions to the amount of millions; he believed that, in so speaking, he alluded to him. Now, seven years ago, he was considered as a man fit for Bedlam, because he proposed to take off 7,000,000l. of taxes, and yet that amount of taxes had been since reduced. He was glad to see his right hon. friend acting on principles which he had always advocated, and in which advocacy he had generally found a supporter in his right hon. friend. He was glad to see his right hon. friend now carrying those principles and views into effect, which he had advocated before he was Secretary at War. He did not doubt but that if the right hon. baronet, the late member for Westminster, was now present, he would bear honest testimony to the correctness of what he had stated. When he said, that the expense of the army had been carried to an undue extent, he did not speak without full consideration; nor were his sentiments at variance with the sentiments of many hon. Members. He also maintained, that, although the late Duke of York was a most excellent officer, and beloved by the army, over whose interests he had presided, and essentially promoted—promoted, it was true, at the public expense—yet he objected to such powers as had been concentrated in that illustrious personage, being vested in a prince of the blood royal, or in any officer 978 whatever. In the Committee alluded to, it had been proved that the Secretary at War was not the officer possessing power, nor invested with that influence which would make his office a responsible situation. If the Secretary at War were placed in a responsible situation with reference to the Legislature, those reforms in the military department, which were immediately necessary, would be carried into effect. When, however, he saw the opposition manifested by the Government to such a reduction in the military establishment as the state of the country required, he felt it his duty, though hon. Members on the other side of the House might differ from him, and exercise, as they had a right to do, their own discretion, to lay before the Committee and the Government the course which appeared to him to be the best to be pursued consistent with the interests of the country. The estimated number of the effective force, subject to a gradual diminution, was 89,419 men, and all that was now proposed was to reduce that number by about 8,000 men. The Committee ought to bear in mind, that the effective strength of the army, under the administration of the Duke of Wellington, and at the time the present Government came into office, was 81,164 men. So that, after four years of a Reform Administration had passed, that Administration was only able to bring the army back to the strength in which they found it. What was at present the relative situation of the country, in comparison with what it had been at the time Earl Grey became Prime Minister, to justify this state of things? Much had been stated as to the acts of the present Government in pamphlets and reports; but, in the first year of their Administration, they had increased the estimates one million, and had taken two years to come back to the position in which they were on their accession to power. He had ever held, that the force increased had been so unnecessarily, and the proposition now was, to reduce, by stopping the recruiting for the military service, the strength from 89,000 to 81,268 men. This reduction even would not, at the end of the year, bring the strength of the army so low as it was when the Duke of Wellington left office, and which, at that period, amounted to 81,164 men. With regard to the expense attending this unnecessary force, he must remind the Committee of its amount, in former years, as 979 compared with the vote proposed in the present estimates, amounting to no less than 3,056,873l. In the years 1822, 1823, and 1824, the expense of the army was as follows:—In 1822, 2,500,000l.; in 1823, 2,500,000l.; and, in 1824, 2,700,000l.; and, in the year 1830, the amount was 3,015,000l. The question he put to the Committee was, whether the country was prepared to keep up so large a military establishment as was proposed? and if so, for what purpose such an establishment could be wanted? There existed no necessity for such a force being kept up, while the expense arising from the number of useless officers at present attached to each corps was unnecessarily great. A comparison with the military strength of the country in the year 1792 showed that the present strength was uncalled for and unnecessary. He admitted, that the military service abroad was, as had been urged by the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary at War, severe, and that the colonial service was, from the nature of the climate, and other causes, oppressive both to officers and men; but he was prepared to show, that the number of troops kept in the colonies was not at all necessary, neither was it requisite that a force of 23,000 men should be maintained in Ireland. In the Ionian Islands a force of from 3,000 to 5,000 strong had been kept up for the last twenty years, though, by the stipulations entered into between those islands and this country, the former undertook to pay for all above a certain number. The Government of this country had, by disarming the inhabitants, who were otherwise well able to protect themselves, rendered it necessary to send British troops to protect them, at the expense of the British public. He contended, that if this country could not intrust the inhabitants of these islands with arms to defend and protect themselves, such a possession was not worth keeping, when the expense was considered. In North America, the force amounted to between 4,000 and 5,000 men, when he had reason to believe that from 400 to 500 men would be sufficient, provided that the inhabitants were treated by the Government of this country as freemen, and not interfered with by orders and counter-orders issued from Downing-street. He also believed, that in the Mauritius a force of 500 men would be sufficient, for 980 he understood that a statement had been made to the Government, that if a Legislative Assembly was granted to that colony, the colonists would not only pay the troops, but also liberate the slaves. He was prepared to prove at the bar of the House, that such an offer had been made to the Government of this country. With respect to the force maintained in Ireland, why should 23,000 soldiers, exclusive of artillery, and an extensive armed police force, be there required, when, in the years 1788, 1789, and 1790, the whole military force did not amount to more than from 8,000 to 9,000 men? Rather than such a force should be kept up in Ireland at so enormous an expense, he would bring away all the parsons, and consent to a vote for their maintenance during the rest of their lives. He called upon the Committee to agree with him in refusing its consent to the maintenance of so large a force, as the only means of compelling the Government to reduce the army. He admitted the question was not merely important to the country, but was also a Cabinet question; and he would, therefore, call in aid of his position with respect to it the opinions which had been expressed by the Committee appointed by the House at the instance of the Government in 1822. He need not, in reference to the resolutions of that Committee, say more, than to hope it would be borne in mind, that there was then a most efficient opposition to a Tory Government—an opposition which compelled a reduction in the military establishment of the country below the present force of nearly 10,000 men. That reduction had been so effected by a resolution adopted by the House; and he trusted that a Reformed Parliament would seethe necessity of carrying into effect, on this occasion, the resolution for a reduction in the force which an Unreformed House had adopted. Even the Committee appointed under the Castlereagh Administration had recommended a reduction of the army in times of peace, and the resolution which had been proposed by the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in July last, recommending such a reduction in the expenditure of every department of the State as was consistent with the public interests, fortified him in his position; so, also, the recommendation of the Committee, in 1828, of which the right hon. Baronet, the member for Dundee, was chairman. On these grounds he 981 contended, that the forces in the colonies ought to be reduced to a number consistent with the average in the three years, 1822 to 1824. Besides, the Horse and Life Guards might very properly be reduced, though he had no objection that some of those troops should be retained for a little parade and show. These regiments, had, however, increased in a most unnecessary degree. The strength of the Life Guards in the year 1792 was but 41, while it was now upwards of 974; and that of the Horse Guards, in 1792 was 271 men, and in the present year, 437 men; making a total of 1,311 rank and file. There was, besides, an excess upon the number of men in the Dragoon regiments, compared with the year 1792, of upwards of 3,000 rank and file, and in the Foot Guards of 1,504. For these three excesses no excuse had been offered; nor did he know any reason which could be assigned against their reduction. In addition to these, there could be well spared from the strength in the colonies not less than 9,000 men; and it would, therefore, be a very moderate reduction if the Committee should agree with him in what he asked—namely, to bring the effective strength of the army to that of the years 1822 and 1824. If that were not acceded to, he was at a loss to know in what way a reduction in the expenditure of the country could be effected. The Reformed Parliament would but ill discharge its duty, if it refused to accede to the proposition which it was his intention to make—namely, a reduction of 9,000 men from the amount calculated to remain of effective troops—81,000; which would still leave a force of upwards of 72,000—a force greater than that maintained during the year 1823. In making this reduction, he would not discharge from the service a single man without a pension, unless he should desire it; but, as he understood, that not less than 10,000 men were at present desirous to leave the service, on merely obtaining their discharge, no expense would be entailed upon the country by an addition to the Pension-list from the reduction which he proposed. He felt bound to repeat the expression of his satisfaction at the statement with which the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of War had opened the Estimates; but, as the question rested with the House of Commons, he hoped an opinion would be expressed upon the subject, as had been before done by an unre- 982 formed Parliament. The hon. Member concluded, by moving, as an amendment, "that the number of land forces for the year, including the allowance for casualties, which would reduce the army to 72,268 men before the end of the year, be 79,952 men.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
felt satisfied, from what he had observed during the course of the clear address of his right hon. friend, the Secretary at War, and the speech of the hon. member for Middlesex, that the Committee would be of opinion that the proposed reduction was not only unnecessary, but would be, in its effects, most mischievous. He could not refrain, however, from expressing his opinion, that, as the hon. member for Middlesex had raised no objection to the military establishment of the country, but merely to the number of men constituting the forces, that the hon. Member's real objection amounted to this—that let the Government bring forward what Estimates they pleased—let the Government effect what reductions were practicable, the hon. Gentleman would oppose them; for, it appeared to be part of the business and the profession of the hon. Gentleman to compete with the Government in economy. Though there was a diminution in the present Estimates from those of last year of little less than 300,000l., and though a greater force was proposed to be maintained at this diminution of expense, the hon. Gentleman had asked if this was the boasted economy of the present Government. It was true, it was only proposed to reduce the force to the strength maintained in 1830; but, he must remind the hon. Gentleman, that the aggregate expense in that year was 3,688,000l., while, in the year 1834, it amounted only to 3,308,000l. ["No, no," from Mr. Hume.] He knew not whether the hon. Member was better in formed than the War-office Department, from whose documents he was speaking. [Mr. Hume took his information from the Estimates.] The total amount of the Army Estimates for the year 1830 amounted to 6,123,000l., while those for the year 1834 amounted to 5,772,000l. The hon. Member had adopted, as his two favourite periods, the year 1792, and 1822 to 1824. He would admit that, on the amount of the colonial force must depend, in a great measure, the amount of the strength of the whole army. Now, the colony of New South Wales—he was aware that these details were dry and dull, but, as 983 the hon. Gentleman had gone into a statement of figures, it was necessary to follow his example—the colony of New South Wales, in the year 1792, contained a population of 6,600, and 420 men were stationed there for their protection. Now, when the Committee considered the nature of the population in that colony, and the necessity of affording the settlers due protection, and when it was considered that that population was now increased sixfold, he thought the Committee would be of opinion that a force of 2,217 men was not too large to be maintained there. In this instance, indeed, there was an increase of nearly 1,800 men, but the peculiar circumstances in which the colony was placed, justified the augmented amount. Then there were the Windward and Leeward Islands. In 1792 there were 3,200 troops stationed in the former; in 1834, 3,075. At the former period, in the island of Jamaica, the number of troops employed was 2,680; at the present time, 4,018. It was not necessary for him to explain to hon. Members the reason of this increase, and he would, therefore, pass on to Canada, where, in 1792, with a population of 185,000, 2,800 men were employed. In 1834, the population amounted to 750,000, but the troops maintained there were only 2,575. In Nova Scotia, during the former period, the number of men was 2,490, at present but 2,360; and, in Gibraltar, it was found, that, in place of 3,600 men who garrisoned that fortress in 1792, 2,575 were now sufficient for that purpose. Thus the Committee would see, and the hon. Member would also see, that there was an increase of the military establishments kept on foot in the colonies, on comparing together the two periods, in two colonies only, Jamaica and New South Wales. In the case of the latter colony, he could not agree with the hon. Member in thinking that, because the number of inhabitants had increased, the protection afforded them ought to be diminished. In that point, at least, he must venture to differ from him. Then, as to the comparative expense of the two periods referred to, the hon. Member had said, that the economy of 1792 was better than that practised in 1834. The expenses of the staff in 1792 were nearly 34,000l. and in 1822, 46,329l.; while the staff expenses for 1834 amounted to 29,957l.; being 4,310l. below 1792, and 16,402l. below the economical year 1822, The number of troops in the new 984 colonies altogether amounted to 16,927 men—the same number that was maintained in the old. He would not, however, trouble the House by giving them more figures, as he felt assured, that it was quite satisfied with the statements laid before them by his right hon. friend. He had hoped that the hon. Member would have spared Ministers the opposition which the hon. Member generally made it his business to offer; but events proved that he was mistaken. While he was on this subject, he would beg to call the attention of the hon. and gallant Colonel opposite (Colonel Evans) to the fact, that the question of the force at present kept up in the Ionian Islands had been mixed up with the subject before the House. He thought it a question well deserving inquiry, and a proposition for the reduction of the number of troops maintained there was under the consideration of Government. He, therefore, begged the hon. and gallant Member would recollect, that the amount of military force kept up in the colonies, and in the Ionian Islands, were two totally distinct things. In the whole of our colonies there were only 33,500 men; and he was sure, that if hon. Members would take time to reflect, they would find that it would be extremely unsafe to effect any reduction in that portion of our military force. His right hon. friend near him had made no exaggeration in his statement of the sufferings endured by the British soldier in time of peace; ten years was the lowest term for which a regiment remained abroad, and the state of the army was such, that in three or four years more it would devolve upon the same regiment to go again abroad. The hon. Member had complained of a slight increase in the number of the Horse-Guards, and had said, they were maintained only for show and for the purpose of occasionally assisting to preserve the peace. But, in a country like this, with an immense Metropolis, and thickly studded with large manufacturing towns, where so vast a mass of property was to be protected, that increase of which the hon. Member complained was a most salutary precaution. The military arm of the State ought to be reserved for those cases of necessity which sometimes unhappily occurred; but, however greatly he might regret having to call out its strength, it was, at least, in a country so densely peopled, a matter of satisfaction that there was such a force to fall back upon, in the event of the civil 985 power proving insufficient. Having said thus much, he would come to the state of Ireland. In the present situation of that country, it would be impossible to make any further reduction in the military force kept up there; a large reduction had been made this year; and, he hoped, that as the country became tranquillized, further reduction would be practicable. But, to be safe, reductions must be gradual. They ought not to be made in the spirit of the reductions forced upon the Government in the year 1822. "Then," said the hon. Member, "we had a good Opposition, a good, steady Opposition; the Government wanted to continue the military establishment of the country on the same footing, but I proposed the reduction of 10,000 men, and we carried it." The number was thus reduced to 68,984; but did it remain so? [Mr. Hume: It might.] In the very next year the army was increased to 74,857, and, in the year following, to 85,519. Nor was this all the benefit which the country reaped by the hon. Member's legislation. He succeeded, indeed, in reducing the number of effective men, but he also succeeded in increasing the number of non-effectives, and an additional expense of 100,000l. was yearly entailed on the country by this precipitous measure. "Look," said the hon. Member, "to the blessings I brought upon you in the year 1822." He would say the same thing with the hon. Member; he also would bid the Committee look back, and then say what they thought of the results of this hasty, ill-advised, and rash reduction. In conclusion, he would beg the Committee not to sanction, by their support, a plan so precipitate, and, as he thought, imprudent.
contended, that if the military force kept up in the colonies was based upon population, there was no reason why the colonies should have 33,000 men to protect them, when 22,000 were found enough for Ireland. He particularly wished to know, also, why garrisons were maintained in islands, as if we had no navy? With respect to Ireland, he thought, that if the Coercion Bill were worth anything, it ought to have enabled the Government to dispense with keeping up so large a force there. The noble Lord, (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) in 1822, had said, that our colonies were to be considered as valuable either for commercial purposes, or for keeping up 986 our military strength; but he (Colonel Evans) did not exactly see how colonies could add to our military strength, when forces were employed in the colonies, which other parts of the empire might need. He wished to make an observation or two relating to the chaplaincy of Chelsea Hospital. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had, it was said, the intention of appointing a gentleman of the name of Gleig to this situation, and he was induced to refer to this on dit, in consequence of seeing that gentleman's name mentioned in a very disagreeable manner. He had known him in the army, when he was but seventeen or eighteen years old, and having enjoyed the advantage of his acquaintance, he had had the opportunity of seeing him discharge the duties of his parish in the country, and he was bound to say, that a more exemplary character never lived. He had been charged with the editorship of a violent political paper; but he neither was at that time, nor had been at any time, the editor of any paper whatever.
§ Major Beauclerk
was convinced, that the statement which had that evening been laid before the House would give more satisfaction to the country than any act which had proceeded from the Government for a long time. He had not been a flatterer of the Government, and would not give them his support on the present question, unless he believed they were acting on sound principles; and really when he found his hon. friend the member for Middlesex coming forward with a proposal for the immediate reduction of 9,000 men, he could not go so far as his hon. friend. The consequence would be, that the young men would leave the army, and the old would remain in it, and in a year or two they would be obliged to give pensions to the old men, who would be disabled from further service. The conduct of Ministers on this occasion had been throughout manly, open, and fair, though, if no further progress were made next year, he should be as ready to oppose Ministers as he was now to tender them his support.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
did not think it his duty as a public man to cripple the efficiency of the army by unnecessary reductions. His Majesty's Ministers were, in his opinion, the best judges of what the number of the army should be, as the proper consideration of the question de- 987 pended on so many circumstances, and required so much patient and laborious investigation, that few but themselves could form any tolerable decision. At present we had reached the minimum of reduction. He would venture to say, that it would be found on experiment impossible to carry reduction further. Of his personal knowledge the 83rd regiment had come from India, after a stay of twenty-four years in that country, in 1829, and was now about to proceed to Canada; and three other regiments, after a like period of service, and a like stay abroad, were, in the course of the year, to be again embarked for a foreign destination. Why, there was no service in the world like it, ancient or modern. A popular assembly like that was not the best calculated to enter into these inquiries, and the best way would be for the House to give their confidence to Ministers—not, to be sure, a reckless confidence, and to look to their superior information for a proper estimate of the necessities of the empire. The hon. and gallant Member read an extract of a letter from the Duke of York, stating, that, in 1822, he had mentioned to Ministers the ineffective state of the army in consequence of the reduction suddenly forced on the Crown, and that Lord Londonderry replied, that if the experiment succeeded, the revenues of the State would be improved; if not, the country would gain experience, and thus either way would be beneficial, and must carry conviction along with it. That experiment was a signal failure, and it was found necessary in the following year to increase the army considerably, and, in 1824, the augmentation was confirmed in that House by a majority of 102 votes to 10, one of which was given by the hon. member for Middlesex. In the year 1825, a further addition was made to the army of 12,000, and the hon. Member, in his opposition to this, found himself in a minority of 5 to 106—move than 20 to 1. At that late hour he would not fatigue the House by entering any further into detail. He would observe only, that there was a charge of 20,000l. less for the effective service in 1830 than in this year. In the instance of the land-forces there had been an increase of 29,740l.; in the volunteer corps, of 21,000l. On the other hand, there had been a saving in other parts of the Estimate. There had been on the whole an augmentation of 50,000l.; and 988 a diminution of 27,000l. So that, in point of fact, there was in this year a charge of about 23,000l. more on the effective service than in 1830. The right hon. Secretary for the Colonies had stated, that a reduction had taken place in the Staff. He begged to remind him, that all the reductions at home in the Staff had taken place in the years 1828, 1829, and 1830, and were therefore to be put to the credit of the late Administration. He was rather inclined to think indeed that at home the Estimate had been raised; and he knew of no reduction of the Staff which had taken place in the colonies, excepting only in the Ionian Islands. With respect to the Estimate as a whole, it appeared to be 318,000l. lower than it was in 1830; but the diminution was caused by reductions upon the non-effective service, through the falling in of pensions and of half-pay. The Ministry had made of real reduction, if he might be allowed the words, a diminution only of 30,000l. in an expenditure of 3,000,000l., and they felt that, without prejudice to the army they could go no further. He should not enter into details at present. On a future occasion, there were points to which he would beg to call the attention of the right hon. Secretary. He should have to ask him a question respecting the pensioners—a question which he had more than once asked during the last two or three years. He alluded to the practice of buying up pensions, which he considered to be a most cruel and discreditable one. When they came to this subject, he had no doubt the right hon. Secretary would be ready to give him all the information he desired. He should also have to call the attention of the right hon. Secretary to a passage in page 76 of the Estimates, which, if not in itself deception, was yet calculated to convey an erroneous impression to the House. It was there set forth, that there was a saving to the amount of 61,000l., whereas in reality, there was only a reduction of 19,000l. This arose from the right hon. Secretary's having taken larger credit for this year than was usual. He recommended the right hon. Gentleman to adopt the same plan in drawing up his Estimates as was pursued in the Ordnance Department, wherein the vote was always distinguished from the charge. He must inform the hon. member for Middlesex, that the Commander-in-Chief was not in the habit of in- 989 terfering with the Secretary-at-War in the discharge of his proper duties. He appealed to the Committee it it were not the fact, that the charge, although made, was not proved? There were some other things, which, as a military man, he might be expected to notice. Allusion had been made to the Life-Guards. It was true that reproaches had been formerly cast upon the Life-Guards, and not without justice; but since they had been first sent out on foreign service they had become a most distinguished corps. They had fairly fought their way to the increase of strength which they had received. As to the Foot-Guards, in which he once had himself the honour to serve, every man of proper feeling must applaud the conduct and appearance of that corps, and see that no better or more disciplined corps could be, nor one in better harmony with the feelings of an independent people. It might be well to state also, that the amount of the establishment of Guards was smaller in 1834 than it had been in 1792. In conclusion, the right hon. Gentleman repeated his belief, that while the Government had done all that could be expected from them in the way of reduction with respect to the effective service, the fact was, that little had been left for them to accomplish.
§ Mr. Gisborne
also declined supporting the Amendment, though he disputed the doctrines put forth by the Secretary for the Colonies. The speech of the hon. Secretary-at-War had convinced him of the inexpediency of acceding to his hon. friend's Amendment.
§ The Committee divided on Mr. Hume's Amendment: Ayes 46; Noes 282—Majority 236.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Kennedy, J.|
|Baines, E.||Lister, C.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Lloyd, J. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Parrott, J.|
|Clay, W.||Potter, R.|
|Evans, Colonel||Romilly, E.|
|Ewart, W.||Scholefield, J.|
|Faithfull, G.||Scrope, P.|
|Fellowes, Hon. N.||Strutt, E.|
|Fellowes, W. A.||Trelawney, W. L. S.|
|Fielden, J.||Turner, W.|
|Grote, G.||Whalley, Sir S.|
|Humphery, J.||Wood, Alderman|
|Ingilby, Sir W.||Williams, Colonel|
|Gillon, W. D.||O'Connell, M.|
|Parnell, Sir II.||O'Connell, J.|
|Blake, M.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Evans, George||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Finn, W. F.||Ruthven, E.|
|Jacob, E.||Vigors, N. A.|
|O'Connell, Daniel||Hume, J.|