HC Deb 21 March 1834 vol 22 cc543-60

The House went into a Committee of Supply.

Colonel Maberly

, in rising to bring forward the Ordnance Estimates, was happy to state, that he had been able to effect reductions even beyond the most sanguine expectations which in the last Session he had expressed to the House. The apparent saving, as compared with the Estimates of last year, on the sum to be expended, was 257,000l., and on the sum to be voted the apparent saving was 295,000l. He said apparent saving, because a part of it consisted of a transfer to the Army Estimates amounting to 175,000l. The real saving on the sum to be expended was 82,000l., and that on the sum to be voted 120,000l. He believed that this would be deemed satisfactory by the House, when they took into consideration all that had been previously done. In the Ordnance Estimates of 1829, as compared with those of 1820, there was a reduction of 600,000l. The saving effected in this department by the previous Government was 370,000l.; and, from 1830, when the present Government entered office, there was a still further reduction of 335,000l., notwithstanding the pruning adopted by their predecessors. The first point he would refer to was the Irish survey. The Estimate for this survey had been formed on insufficient data, and the consequence was, that the vote for effecting it was now exhausted. It was, however, the opinion of his Majesty's Government that the survey ought to be proceeded in. Indeed he did not see how this could be avoided, because Government had almost pledged itself to the Irish Members that the survey should be completed. Without a breach of faith, therefore, it could not be relinquished, and an additional vote was rendered necessary. This survey was of the greatest importance to Ireland. It was an agricultural country, and the first step to all beneficial reform, whether as regarded tithes, Land-tax, County or Grand Jury cess, was an accurate survey and valuation of the land. The taxation, for want of a good survey, had hitherto proceeded on insufficient and very unsatisfactory data. This gave rise to much trouble and heart-burning, and the only way to set this at rest was by having an exact survey. Such being the case, he trusted the House would not object to the expense necessary for prosecuting this important work. Another point to which he wished to call the attention of the Com- mittee was the agency of the Ordnance Board. Government was pledged to some alteration in this branch of the Estimates, and an alteration was in contemplation; but it was not considered an effectual one. The agency was 7,000l., of which 1,000l., was paid by the officers themselves, and 6,000l. by the Government. An establishment with a charge of 3,000l. would be necessary, and, therefore, Government set about devising some other means of saving this expense. The payment of the Chelsea pensioners was undertaken by his noble Friend, the Paymaster of the Forces, and thus a saving of 2,700l. was effected. It was now proposed that the agency of the Ordnance also should be transferred to his noble friend's department, and thus a saving would be effected of 3,000l. a-year. The last point to which he should refer was the removal of the dépôt from Tooley-street to Woolwich and the Tower. The great accumulation of stores was a subject of complaint last Session, and in this way he trusted that ground of complaint would be removed in future, and a saving effected of 4,000l. a-year. A plan was in contemplation for a more effectual check on the issue of stores, which, he trusted, when brought into operation, would be productive of much good. He would not trespass further on the attention of the House than merely to remind them that in judging of these Estimates they should consider them as the Ordnance expenditure of one of the greatest and most powerful nations in the world. He proposed, "That a sum not exceeding 70,562l. be granted for the salaries of the Master-General and the Officers of the Ordnance, and for payment of the salaries of clerks in Woolwich, Pall-Mall, and Dublin."

Mr. Hume

commenced by observing, that when the Ordnance survey of Ireland was originally proposed, he had opposed the granting of so large a sum as 300,000l. for that purpose. That money it appeared was now expended, and he begged to call the attention of the Committee to the fact, that when it was originally voted, it was voted on the express condition that the Irish counties should provide the remainder of the expense occasioned by so minute a survey as was then intended. Now, he asked the late right hon. Secretary for Ireland whether the Irish counties had yet been called upon to pay any portion of that expense; for though the present estimate was only 30,000l. above the original estimate, it ought not to be forgotten that one-third of Ireland yet remained to be surveyed. The people of England had nothing to do, and ought to have nothing to do, with surveying the baronies and fields of Ireland for the mere purposes of local taxation; he therefore repeated his question, whether every county in Ireland had been called on to pay its portion of the increased expense of this survey, for he hoped that the gentlemen of Ireland, no less than the Government of England, would be found willing to redeem the pledges into which they had entered on this subject. With respect to the item of agency, he was satisfied that that arrangement, by which it was proposed to take from Cox and Greenwood the payments of that money which they had so long controlled, would be found inconvenient and would be attended with additional expense. The gallant Officer seemed to think, that because there was now a reduction in the Estimates below their amount in the years 1829 and 1830, the Committee was therefore bound to stop there. The reduction of 82,000l., as compared with the expenditure of last year, on the sum to be expended by the Ordnance Department, was made up of stores and work. The actual reduction was, in point of fact, 8,493l.; he considered that sum so small as to be scarcely worth notice. Indeed, the whole amount of these Estimates appeared to attract very little of the attention of the Committee, for he believed, that there was only one more Member now present than was necessary to constitute a House, and to prevent anybody from counting it out, although it was proposed to vote away 1,300,000l. for the Ordnance Department. Not many years since, all the expense of the Ordnance did not amount to 500,000l., and therefore he should object to the whole of the establishment. He considered both the civil and military parts to be extravagant and uncalled for. No wonder that our military establishments cost the immense sum of 13,000,000l. sterling annually, when the Ordnance Estimates formed so large an item. He approved of the removal of the department from Tooley-street; indeed, he should approve of selling off all the perishable stores, both at the Tower and at Woolwich; for the old system of keeping such stores had led to the loss of millions. Of the 1,300,000l. now proposed to be voted for the Ordnance, upwards of 590,000l. passed through the hands of Cox and Greenwood, and there was no necessity, therefore, which he could comprehend for keeping up so large a pay-office establishment. The pay of the engineers and military establishment of the Ordnance, which stood now at 592,000l., did not amount in 1792 to more than 159,000l. In this point, then, the Ordnance Estimates were raised to three times their amount in 1792. There was no necessity for keeping up at present 8,000 artillerymen connected with the military branch of the Ordnance, when 3,000 artillerymen were deemed sufficient in a former peace. He had stated his objections to the numerical amount of that force last Session; but as the Committee had not adopted his opinions at that time, he would not give it the trouble of dividing again upon them. He would merely protest against the whole of this military establishment. It was such that no circumstances connected with Great Britain or the world would warrant us in having 8,000 artillerymen. He protested against having to provide 373,000l. for the pay of the artillery and engineers. He objected to having to pay 26,000l. for the hire of carriages on the march, and for sundry other objects, which he considered as entailing upon the country an unnecessary and an immense expense. He objected also to the item of 10,000l. for the expense of the medical establishment. With the pensions which were given for services performed, the Committee could do nothing but wait for the gradual diminution of their amount in the course of time. He contended that the keeping up a Director-General in the Royal Laboratory, with his assistant officers, and the keeping up of a "Director-General of Artillery Department," with assistant, inspectors, clerks, and modellers; and that the Royal Carriage Department, were all expenses which, judging from the report of the Commissioners in 1808, ought to be dispensed with. They did not amount to much more than 5,000l.; the expense was but small, but still it was unnecessary, and one expense only begot another. As to the item for works, amounting to 189,481l., it was a large sum. Then, there was an item of 81,146l. for artificers, labourers, and various other services; together with an item of 87,597l. for repairs; making an aggregate of 168,473l. What he objected to here was, that, besides this sum of 368,224l. for works, we had also to pay for the salaries of clerks in the Tower, and Pall-mall. No establishment that he knew of paid more than five per cent for superintendence, exclusive of the salary of the Clerk of the Works; but he was prepared to show, that we paid eighteen per cent for the superintendence of these works, exclusive of the establishment in Pall-mall and elsewhere. If all private bodies could get works superintended for five per cent, it was clear, that it the Government paid eighteen per cent, its operations were open to great reduction. The next was a very heavy item the charge for the barrack department. The amount was 272,000l. Now, when he saw barracks rising up like palaces in all directions, and especially when he went along the Birdcage-walk, and saw a palace erected there for the soldiery, finer than an other public building in England, he could not help asking where was the economy so much boasted of by the Ordnance Department? Again, when he looked to the barracks erected at Windsor, he thought, that it became the House to consider whether the rate at which lodgings for the military were supplied, was not greater than we ought to continue. This proved, that the conduct of the Board of Ordnance was perfectly inconsistent with its pledges of economy. By a return which was now on the Table, it appeared that we had barrack room for 120,000 troops; but that we had never had more than 57,000 troops at once in this country. Was not, therefore, the building of new barracks at the present time inconsistent with the claim of credit for economy, which the gallant Officer had put in for his department? At Portsmouth, where the dépôts of two or three regiments were stationed, he understood that the Government was now paying rent for mess-rooms for the officers, although the Ordnance barracks were totally unoccupied. If the plan which he was going to state before he sat down were adopted, we should get rid of the jealousy which existed between the Ordnance Department, and the Horse Guards. There was no other country but England, in which the Ordnance Department was not under the control of the Commander-in-Chief; and in which the barracks did not belong indifferently to the artillery, and the ordinary military force. In fact, our whole system ought to be simplified; and the different departments should act in concert with each other. Instead of erecting new barracks, we might to pull down the old ones; for they appeared to him to be of little other use than to create pay for barrack-masters, and barrack-sergeants, which amounted to 37,000l. a-year. This was a monstrous state of things in a country which was incessantly calling for a reduction of tax- ation. The next item was one of great importance, for under the plea of stores, all the establishment of the Ordnance was kept up. Those who had not paid much attention to the subject would, on looking at the Estimates, find that it was divided into two parts—one part military, the other relating to stores. Now, the whole of it should be under the control of the Commander-in-Chief, as in other countries; but the stores should belong to the Ordnance. We had a board in Pall-mall, casting the country 70,000l., which ought to have nothing to do but to take care of the stores and to audit the accounts. He asked whether we ought to keep up stores to the amount of 55,000l. for the sake of keeping, up an office called the office of Old Stores. What did these stores consist of? There was 12,700l. for great coats for his Majesty's forces, including the artillery. Now, these great coats might be provided by contract, when they were wanted, without the intervention of any board whatever. There was 18,400l. for bedding, bedsteads, &c., for the barracks. These were partly in store in Tooley-street, where they had been kept to perish. There was not a single article among those which this sum of 18,400l. was to provide, that might not be delivered at the barracks as wanted, without the intervention of any store at all. There was also an item of 19,700l. for artillery clothing at Woolwich. There was no reason why this should not be provided by contract as wanted. These items of great coats, bedding, &c.; cost the country 55,000l. The plea for having these stores was, to keep up the Ordnance establishment, with a master-general, a surveyor-general, and various other principal officers and clerks. In point of fact, there was as much paid for the management of this store-department of the Ordnance, as for all the Exchequer of England. The expense for maintaining labourers and artificers in the Tower, for managing the stores, amounted to no less than 6,629l. The expense for the labourers at Woolwich was 5,402l. The total expense connected with the Store-office there was 8,859l. The total charge for the management of the stores in the Tower, Pall-mall, Woolwich, and Dublin, was no less than about 38,000l. annually; that was, 100 per cent more for stores than ought to be charged. He had already shown, by a reference to the contract system adopted in supplying the army, that stores could be obtained much cheaper, and in a much better manner than they were at present, for the Ordnance. He would ask any hon. Member if that could be said to be an economical mode of proceeding? On the contrary, it appeared to him to be a complete waste of the public money. Hon. Members would recollect the battle which he had to fight, to put down the office of Storekeeper-general of the Ordnance. He was obliged to contest the point for three years, and at length he succeeded in getting the office put an end to. Among the expenses, there was upwards of 100,000l. for those stores, which were not wanted, and all of which, when they were wanted, could be provided by contract, without the enormous expenditure now incurred for watching them, keeping them in repair, turning them, &c. He had insisted at the time, when the office of Storekeeper-general (now abolished) was under discussion, that every store which was perishable should be destroyed—in fact, that it would be better for the country to throw them into the sea than to burthen it with the expense incidental to the keeping of articles which every day became deteriorated, until at length they would be totally valueless. He had now to state to the House the lamentable result of continuing the practice of keeping a quantity of those perishable articles in store. Last year he moved for a return of the amount of stores, and of all perishable articles in store, particularly leather, and other articles of a similar nature. He would now state what was the result of that Return. The Return, it was to be borne in mind, gave the amount of the stores now on hand. He had had each of the stores valued according to their prime cost, and the calculation of what the whole amount actually cost was 158,084l. Now, the simple interest on those stores, totally unconnected with the charge for maintaining them, would amount to 154,000l. The consequence, therefore, was, that the stores in the Ordnance—office, up to the 10th of July, 1833, cost the country no less than 313,000l. Now, if to that they were to add the expense of taking care of those stores, from the period when they were provided, up to the period when the Return was made—namely, in July, 1833, that expense could not have been less than 200,000l. It would be seen, therefore, that those stores had actually cost the country upwards of 500,000l. sterling. What a lamentable result for the country to contemplate! He held in his hand a catalogue of a sale of Ordnance stores, and, comparing the price for which they sold with the price for which they were originally bought, and the expense with which they had been kept, it would be seen what an immense loss was continually incurred. The whole of the stores disposed of at this sale were in fact perfect trash; there was not one of them fit for service; and they could have been thrown into the sea, instead of being retained for years in store, greatly to time public advantage. On opening the catalogue at the third day's sale, he found such articles as collars, harness, saddles, &c., there enumerated. No man in his senses would think of keeping such articles in store. To select one instance, lot 1. The original cost of the lot was 684l. To that they were to add the interest on the money—17,000l., and 1,000l. the expense for keeping those stores. The whole of that lot sold for 37l.; and when from that sum were deducted the charge for agency, and the cost of sale, it would be found, that it fetched the public only 25l. Such was a specimen of the manner in which the country lost by the way in which this department had been managed. In the year 1828, being anxious to put an end to such a system, he moved for a Return of the actual amount of stores then in store. That Return was printed; and he would just trouble the House with a few of the extraordinary details which it contained. The House would be, no doubt, surprised to hear, that of muskets and carbines, there were no less than 926,850 in store. It appeared, from the Return, that the average annual expenditure of muskets did not exceed 20,000, so that here was a supply in store, calculated to last for fifty years. He believed, that some of them had been sold, since; and he only wished that the greater portion of this supply for fifty years to come, could be got rid of. Every one knew, that great improvements had been of late made, especially in France, in the construction of the musket. If, therefore, a war should take place now with France or any other Power, they would be provided with the new and improved muskets, while we should have to fight them with our old-fashioned and comparatively bad ones. He was given to understand, that the improvement in the construction of the musket which had been lately introduced in France, had been submitted to the Board of Ordnance in this country; and that they refused to adopt it, in consequence of having such an amount of muskets already in store. He would advise, that those muskets should be sold for old iron. The respective Governments had gone on in the same way ever since the peace, adding to the store, instead of diminishing it, though he had been repeatedly hammering at them to make them put an end to the mischief. With such a store of muskets, if a war should break out, and we came in contact with the French improved muskets, we should be, as he had already said, left behind. We should get rid of them at once; of pistols there were 50,000 of swords 154,000; and there were already provided in store 287,353 sets of accoutrements. Each accoutrement consisted of a pouch-box, a bayonet, and a belt; and the average cost was 14s the set. Would the House believe, that since the termination of the war, such a vast amount of accoutrements were continually kept in store, with all the expenses of storehouses, persons for keeping them in order, &c.; and that at last, being totally unserviceable, they were sold for 1s. per set? If the members of the Board of Ordnance had had to pay the expense out of their private pockets, it would have attracted their attention, and a remedy would long since have been applied to the abuse. He would just state a fact eminently illustrative of the utility of keeping up such a store of perishable articles. We had an African corps on the coast of Africa, which we supplied with accoutrements. Now, so bad were the accoutrements in store, that the Ordnance was obliged to enter into a contract for the supply of accoutrements for this African corps. He did not charge the persons at present at the head of this department with the fault of this arrangement. He believed, that they were very properly selling them by wholesale almost for nothing, In the present circumstances of the country, it was absurd to keep up such an amount of stores. Before 1793 there might have been a difficulty in suddenly providing stores. But since that time there had been such a great increase in our manufactures, and there had been such a demand from foreign countries, that the workshops at present existing here would be able to supply with arms and accoutrements more men than England would want in a hurry. He condemned the whole system, and looked upon it as ruinous to the finances. There were also 60,000 blank cartridges, and 279,000 barrels of powder in store. It appeared, that the average annual expenditure of powder was 6,000 barrels; so that here we had 40 years' consumption of a perishable article in store—an article that became good for nothing in five years. We had, at this moment, Government manufactories going on, making a quantity of powder every year, although we had already more than we could use during 40 years. We had as much powder, at this moment, on hand as was sufficient to supply the whole world, and besides 12 private establishments making powder, we had the Government manufactories of Feversham and Waltham Cross. A great and useless expenditure was incurred in maintaining these establishments. The whole powder manufactory should be put an end to. [An Hon. Member: Blow it up.] "I wish," said Mr. Hume, "I could blow it up, I would do so with pleasure. I went down to it last year, and they would not let me see it." He was then told, the hon. Member continued, that no one was admitted except on business. As in a former case, a poor man at Woolwich had been nearly dismissed for allowing him and Mr. Benett to see the establishment there, he did not wish to get any other person into similar danger. He was told, that the establishment at Feversham was kept up for the purpose of growing willows. With a store of powder sufficient for the consumption of 40 years, we went on making 20,000 barrels every year, while the average annual consumption was only 5,000 or 6,000 barrels, and we afterwards sold the powder which we made at half-price. Of other articles in store, we had, of iron guns,30,000; of howitzers, 20,000; of carriages, 18,000, &c. &c. What would the House think of there being 12,000 ship-gun carriages in store? Every one knew what a gun-carriage was worth after it had gone through 12 or 13 years' service, and, in fact, most of those carriages were good for nothing. This was a fine exemplification of the of the whole system of the Ordnance. He would tear up the whole establishment, root and branch. He would break up the Board, and annex it to the office of Commander-in-Chief, and he would get rid of the whole of those unnecessary stores. Of sheeting there were in store 1,680,000 yards. There were 15,000 wheelbarrows, and they were all rotten. The average annual consumption of wheelbarrows was 1,466, and we had, therefore, a thirteen years' supply of wheelbarrows; of blankets there were, 99,000, of rugs, 40,000, of sheets, 112,000. Now, there was not a single article amongst the whole of those, that could not be supplied cheaper and better by contract, and as speedily as the Government could possibly on any occasion require them. There would be this much gained, too, in that case, that they would not have to pay storekeepers for taking care of rotten stores. Surely it was unnecessary for him to say more to demonstrate the folly of the proceedings that had for years been adopted by the Board of Ordnance. Although the Finance Committee did make a favorable Report as regarded the Board of Ordnance, it should be recollected, that it was only as compared with other Boards, which were ten times worse. The Finance Report only said, that of three or four departments, the Ordnance was the best administered, being under the management of one responsible individual. He (Mr. Hume) certainly concurred in that part of the Report, being of opinion, that having one responsible person at the head of a department was the best. He had shown the bad policy—indeed the folly, of keeping on hand such large stocks of perishable articles. The whole cost was a pure loss. Why keep up such a quantity of muskets, when it would be much better to dispose of them as old metal? If a contract were offered for keeping all the stores that would be necessary, he would engage, that warehousekeepers would be found in England who would undertake to keep the whole of the stores, and give a detailed account of them every week, for the sum of 10,000l. a-year. Amongst the Miscellaneous Estimates, he found 45,000l. for salaries. Now, he begged to say, that they should form no portion of the Ordnance Estimates. They should constitute a civil charge. The miscellaneous Estimates of the Ordnance amounted to 78,000l., from which this item of 45,000l. should be taken. He found one item, 4,500l., for packing and for freight, and carriage of stores. If stores were provided by contract, the contractors would defray the whole of this charge for packing, &c., as the contractors for the army did at this moment. Then there was an item of 4,830l. for keeping up the establishment at Feversham in time of peace. It formerly cost 16,000l.; it was then reduced to 12,000l.; then to 8,000l.; and now it cost 4,000l. It should be given up altogether. There was an item of 2,850l. for the purchase of lands, which he hoped the gallant officer would explain. He found, that the law expenses amounted to 2,000l. Then there was 10,000l. for the medical establishment. These were enormous expenses. There was an item of 1,747l. for Exchequer fees; altogether, as he had said already, the miscellaneous Ordnance Estimates amounted to 78,000l., from which sum he was free to admit 45,000l. should be deducted, as being paid for salaries, and not being an item that should be included in those Estimates. He had still, however, a greater subject of complaint to advert to than any he had yet mentioned, he meant the sum laid out on the civil department of the Ordnance, for superintending the expenditure. It consisted of the following officers, with the following salaries: Master-General, 3,000l. a year; Surveyor-General, 1,200l. a-year; Clerk of the Ordnance, 1,200l. a-year; Principal Storekeeper, 1,200l. a-year; Treasurer, 1,000l. a-year; Secretary to the Master-General, 1,000l. a-year; Secretary to the Board, 1,400l. a-year; altogether amounting to 10,000l. a-year. The clerks' salaries at Pall-mall and the Tower amounted to 50,000l. a-year. Besides that, the clerks' salaries at Woolwich 3,069l.; the clerks' salaries in Dublin, 10,550l.; the clerks' salaries in the different out-stations throughout England, 15,237l.; the clerks' salaries in the different out-stations in Ireland, 2,167l.; and the clerks' salaries in the different out-stations abroad, 24,831l. A great portion of this enormous cost was incurred by reason of our keeping up stores. Was it not monstrous, that the clerks of the Ordnance at the Tower and Pall-mall should cost more than the whole Exchequer of England? That was a crying evil, and the House ought to endeavour to remedy it. The whole of the contingent expenses of this establishment amounted to 128,757l., which was enormous. He said, therefore, that the public was not done justice to. The establishment could be kept up at one-tenth of the expense and in equal efficiency. He did not see the necessity for continuing the Pay-office. He thought that the different items of expenditure might be paid by warrants direct from the Bank, or upon Cox and Greenwood, or any of the other army agents. He formerly laboured under the error of supposing, that the expense of the army agencies was extravagant. He now believed there was no mode of paying the army so economical and so certain as that adopted in the instance of army agencies. The Army Board in Chelsea Hospital charged 1l. 14s. 6d. upon their payments, whereas Cox and Greenwood, or any other army agent, would do it for one-third of the sum. In Fact, Cox and Greenwood would make the whole of these Ordnance payments for one-third of that charge; and thus the whole of that cost might be got rid of, that at present was incurred in the Pay-office. There was 590,000l. already paid by Cox and Greenwood, and they only charged 16s. 8d. per cent commission. He had already shown the enormous expense incurred by this branch of the Ordnance. Why, he would ask, should not that department be regulated upon the same plan here, as in every other part of the world? He would refer for example to India. There the artillery and the engineers were directly under the Commander-in-Chief, as they were in Germany, France, and every other country but this, and for the whole of India (with an army in Bengal of 150,000 men) the whole Ordnance did not cost so much as one single department or the Ordnance in this country. The matter was arranged in this way; there were distinct points of reference, rules were laid down for the guidance of the officers in the different districts, officers were appointed for carrying them into effect, and the whole was under the superintendence and control of the Commander-in-Chief. What was done in India might be done in this country. A system of the same kind was pursued, for instance, at Gibraltar, where the officers met together; each stated what was wanted in his different department, and their requests being transmitted here, the Board at home carried them into effect. The whole business, might, in fact, be done at the Horse Guards without any additional expense beyond a few clerks, and thus we should get rid of the whole of the Ordnance Department, for the maintenance of which, for no purpose, the country now paid an enormous sum. He knew the difficulties which men had to encounter who succeeded others in office; he was well aware how they were trammeled by prejudices and forms, but he believed that the present Government would do well to exert themselves to get rid of the useless stores, as they saw equally with him the expense and inconvenience of keeping more than we wanted. It was his intention to have submitted a resolution to the House on this subject, he thought there were very few Members who would not concur with him in the opinion that the Ordnance was an unnecessary and an enormous establishment, and that it ought to be reduced. Understanding, however, that it would be inconvenient to move such a resolution while the House was in Committee, he should, when the Report was to be brought up, submit to the House a proposition grounded on what he had laid before the Committee, and he trusted it would meet with the support of the majority of that assembly.

Mr. Cobbett

said, great credit was due to the hon. member for Middlesex for the searching inquiry he had made into these Estimates. For himself, he must say, he had not patience enough to go into any such details; but he should still make an observation or two to the House. The expense of the Ordnance during the last peace had been overstated by the hon. member for Middlesex, for it did not exceed the sum of 367,000l. per annum. The hon. Member asked when the time would arrive that soldiers would be no longer lodged in palaces; and he would tell him—when the labouring people of this country were once more in comfort, and not before. Not before, he dare assert. When that House voted 15,000,000l. or 16,000,000l. a-year for taxes, instead of 50,000,000l. or 60,000,000l. then these barrack-palaces would be done away with; for then the people would be comfortable and thriving, and happy and contented, and there would be no soldiers wanted to keep them down. He was far from finding fault with Ministers for keeping up these palaces. It was not their doing that they were kept up. It was the fault of that House. As long as the House voted 50,000,000l. of taxes—as long as the people were burthened in this way, Ministers could not help themselves—they must keep up a standing army, and they must maintain these garrison palaces. He knew he should be charged with making ill-natured observations. Let him be so charged. He did not care; for he was speaking truth, and the House could not deny it. If these soldiers were not kept to frighten the people, what, he asked, were they kept for? Here we were in the twentieth year of peace—not one of which had passed without his Majesty solemnly assuring us, on his royal word, that there was no danger of war—aye, and if that terrible word "war" was ever uttered in that House, there were loud and vociferous cries of "no," "no," "no," "no,"—here we were in the twentieth year of peace and no chance of war—and what then, he asked, were these barracks and these soldiers kept up for? The blame, he repeated, was to that House, and not to Ministers—to that House then nearly empty, when such large outlays were under consideration—to that House, in which there were not fifty Members present when a sum of 1,300,000l. was being voted away. He would say no more just then, on some other items he should have something to address to the House, particularly as to the enormous amount of the dead weight, as it was called—the pension part of this business, and more particularly still as to those fifteen Generals of the Ordnance Establishment, who were in the receipt of half-pay.

Colonel Maberly

said, that the hon. member for Middlesex had mixed up the charges for the various departments in such a manner that he (Colonel Maberly) found it extremely difficult to reduce them from the chaos in which they had been involved, into intelligibility and order. The whole sum to be voted was alma 1,346,000l, which was divided either into Ordnance Service, Barrack Department and Buildings, Military Stores, and Superannuation. He would not attempt to follow the hon. Member through all his observations; but would merely advert to a few points under each of these heads. The hon. Member, in the first place, alluded to the large establishment kept up, and the great number of soldiers in the artillery. It was obvious, on reflection, that it required a much longer time to train an artillery soldier than one for the line, as the former must necessarily receive something of a scientific education. It was necessary to drill him as a cavalry soldier, and in the use of military weapons; and it was also necessary that he should be made, in some degree, acquainted with laboratory practice. He believed, that it was not possible to instruct a recruit, to make him an efficient artillery soldier, in less than three or four years. If the artillery were not properly drilled, it would hardly be possible to send out an expedition with a chance of success, however it might be called for. He would appeal to any man at all conversant with military matters, whether it was not necessary that the artillery corps should be placed on a different footing from the troops of the line? The troops of the line, in case of need, might be replaced by the militia; but that could not be the case with the artillery. He thought that, if the honour of the country was to be maintained, a compara- tively large corps of artillery must be kept up. As it was, England did not keep up nearly so large a force of artillery as other countries. Even America, in proportion to her military establishment, had a much larger artillery than England. In the United States, he believed that there were four battalions of artillery, and only six battalions of the line. The corps of artillery was much below what would be considered sufficient in any Continental State in which a large army was kept up. The hon. Member had complained that the artillery corps was paid by the Ordnance Office, and not by the army agents. This was done because the storekeepers were necessarily obliged to perform a great part of the duty of agents. The hon. Member said, that the payment of the corps was the only thing to look to; and they ought to consider the cheapest mode in which it could be done. The object, however, in the present mode of payment was to see that the artillery were not paid more than they ought to be. There were between seventy and eighty clerks in the War-office, who were occupied in checking the pay of the army; and it was deemed necessary that a similar check should be kept up by the Ordnance. One-third of the civil establishment of the Ordnance was kept up for this purpose. The hon. Gentleman, therefore, was wrong in saying, that the civil establishment was kept up for the stores alone. The next point to which he came was the barracks. He would not enter into a long discussion of the question as to whether it was more advantageous to keep troops in barracks, or quarter them on the inhabitants of a place. He believed that the excellent discipline of the British army was owing, in a great degree, to the barracks. The expense, certainly was great; but it was not near so much as formerly. He felt assured, that, if an attempt were made to quarter soldiers on the inhabitants of towns, it would lead to constant complaints; and the Government would be very soon compelled to return to the system of barracks. No military man, who had the interest of the army at heart, would wish to do away with barracks. The question then was, what should be the cost of the barrack establishment. He was prepared to show, that, within the last few years, great reductions had been effected in this department. In 1814, when the charge for barracks was transferred from the Army Estimates to the Ordnance, the amount of the Estimate was 270,000l.; and in 1834, the charge was 196,000l.; thus making a saving in the barrack establishment in 1834, as compared with 1824, of no less than 96,000l. He, perhaps, could not do better than read to the House a statement of the reductions that had been made in this department. In 1824 there were 157 barrack-masters, eight deputy barrack-masters, and 284 barrack-sergeants. In 1834 there were 103 barrack-masters, three clerks, and 244 barrack-sergeants; thus showing a reduction in the years of fifty-four barrack-masters, five clerks, and forty-two sergeants. In Ireland the establishment was not above one-third of its extent in 1824. He thought that the Ordnance Department were entitled to credit for the reductions they had effected. The next head he came to was the Ordnance expenditure; and he was prepared, if necessary, to show, that it was less, as compared with that in the golden time of the hon. Member, namely 1792. At that time, also, the Ordnance had not to defray the charge of the Ordnance survey, or the Ordnance sea-service. He would not, however, enter into details, though it ought to be recollected, that the Ordnance had to superintend the building and repairing of forts and barracks in almost all parts of the world; and it was absolutely necessary that the utmost care should be taken to see that the work was properly done. He ought previously to have observed, that the Ordnance had determined, for the future, to have as much work performed by contract as they safely could. In that case, however, it would be absolutely necessary to keep up many officers to superintend the buildings, and see that good materials were used, and that the work was properly done, and also that the articles furnished by contract were of the proper quality. The hon. Member had made several observations respecting stores, which he could scarcely class in any order. The hon. Member complained of the large stock of stores kept on hand. Undoubtedly, there was a large stock; but the Ordnance were taking steps to reduce it. There was then sitting at Woolwich a Committee to inquire into the subject, with a view to determine the quantity of stores that should be retained, and what should be disposed of. With respect to the manufacture of gunpowder, when they had such a large stock in hand, he would only observe, that not more than one or two thousand barrels were made in the year; and it was considered desirable that this manufacture should be continued, for the purpose of having a number of persons well acquainted with the manufacture of the article; and also that scientific experiments might be tried as to the manufacture. With respect to the establishment at Feversham, the hon. Member was in error, as it had been done away with three years ago. He had already admitted, that the quantity of stores on hand was very large; but it would not do to get rid of the whole stock, as suggested by the hon. Gentleman. He was sure that the House would agree with him, that the Ordnance would be guilty of a great neglect of duty if they did not keep up sufficient stores to be prepared for hostilities. His Majesty's Ministers had fully concurred in the recommendations of the Committee, of which his hon. friend, the Storekeeper of the Ordnance, was Chairman, respecting the keeping of stores. The Committee recommended, that there should not be an accumulation of stores for more than a consumption of three or four years; and also that a great part of the surplus stores should be disposed of. The Committee likewise recommended, that many articles now manufactured should, for the future, be purchased by contract. His hon. friend, the Storekeeper-General, had acted upon the suggestions of the Committee; and he would not do mere than refer to what had been done since the Committee made their Report on the 29th of July, 1833. It was found, on examination, that no less than 13,050 various articles were in the dépôt in Tooley-street, and the Military Committee had struck out those articles which they thought should not be kept. In 1833 the number of articles in store was 13,056. There were then only fifty-eight articles in store in Tooley-street. He was, therefore, justified in saying, that they had succeeded in making great reductions in the store department, on which the hon. member for Middlesex had said so much. He trusted that he had shown, to the satisfaction of the House, that the Ordnance Establishment was not larger than was necessary.

Vote agreed to, as were the several other votes, and the House resumed.