§ Mr. Herries
, in moving the Order of the Day for the House resolving itself into a Committee of Supply, said he felt it incumbent on him, in the discharge of his duty with reference to the probable proceedings of that night, that he should briefly explain the circumstances under which it appeared to him quite necessary for the interests of the public service, that no delay should be proposed with regard to the Army Estimates. He presumed to make this statement from the fact of the two Motions standing for that day having immediate reference to this question—both, too, being calculated necessarily to postpone the consideration of the Estimates for the army. The first of these Motions to which he would allude, was that of the hon. Member for Middlesex, who proposed by it, that instead of bringing forward the discussion of the Estimates, they should at once be referred to a Select Committee up stairs, with reference to certain ulterior objects. The second Motion was that of the hon. Member for St. Alban's, which was more explicit and positive, for it proposed the postponement of the Army Estimates for the present; until, indeed, the House should have come to a decision upon the intended Motion of Lord John Russell respecting the Church in Ireland, on Monday next. He thought it right in moving the Order of the Day, as a preliminary step, to state to the House that their position in regard to the speedy termination of the financial year, and the expiration of the Mutiny Bill, rendered it a matter of the greatest importance that embarrassments in this particular should not be created. There were, as the House well knew, other matters pending their decision. Now, if the opportunity afforded that night were overlooked, there was every probability of a discussion on Monday next (for as they had been recently informed, a subject of the greatest importance would on that night be brought forward), when it could not be expected that the Army Estimates would be allowed to go on. So that between that and Friday next, no opportunity would present itself for proceeding with these Estimates. The financial year expired on the 31st, and if the Act were strictly adhered to, as it was intended to be when the new system was introduced—it would be impossible to carry on the public service with the present means, 316 The Mutiny Bill would expire on the 25th of April, but between the present period and that date would occur the Easter recess, for whatever might be the disposition of the House, still some interval must interpose. If, therefore, no other day were left open for proceeding to the consideration of the Army Estimates, it was his duty to point out to the House that the greatest possible embarrassment and public inconvenience might arise. He had thought it his duty to say thus much, in order that there might be no misapprehension on the subject; and the House must be aware that if the same course were adopted which was adopted on a former occasion with the navy Estimates, the consequences which he apprehended would be removed.
§ Mr. Hume
was aware that every Motion for a Supply might to a certain degree bean impediment to the business of the Ministers, and ever since he had been a Member of the House he had found the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the heads of the different departments very anxious to obtain the Supplies as soon as possible. It, however, became the Representatives of the people not to place the public money at the disposal of the Ministers of the day without due discussion and strict attention to economy. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, almost by way of threat, that if the Supplies were not voted to night, the public service must stop; but, according to his own showing, the Mutiny Bill would not expire until the 25th of April, leaving a whole month for the removal of temporary impediments. He begged to state that there were some votes on which it was extremely difficult for a Select Committee to decide: he alluded principally to the question of the numerical force of the army employed at home and abroad. It appeared from evidence taken up stairs that the point was always settled by the King in Council on the suggestion and recommendation of the Minister for the Colonies; it was brought forward, therefore, on the responsibility of Ministers, and belonged more peculiarly to a Committee of the whole House, than to a Select Committee. It was a prerogative exercised by his Majesty, undoubtedly for the public good. But the question to which he had to direct attention was this—and he hoped the House would support him by its vote—whether, if it voted the supplies without inquiry, it was doing what it had pledged 317 itself to do? At least he had pledged himself to effect every possible reduction of expenditure, in order that there might be a corresponding reduction of taxation. The rule ought to be, that not one farthing should be voted until the Minister of the day had opened his plan, and explained his ways and means of meeting the expenditure. With that view he had put a question to the right hon. Baronet a short time ago, and the reply was, that he should pursue the old practice—that he should go on in the usual jog trot way, and get as much money as he could without thinking of the ways and means if he could but obtain the votes. He did not blame the right hon. Baronet for taking this course, if the House allowed him, and every Administration did its utmost to keep up the establishments upon the largest possible scale. One was as bad as another in this respect, and no reduction was made but upon compulsion, and that compulsion was the restlessness and uneasiness of the people under their burthens, which produced what might be called a pressure from without, felt by the Representatives, and through them felt by the House. It was considered by some unconstitutional language to talk of this pressure from without, but he thought it the legitimate means by which the people exercised a control over the proceedings of Parliament. If the community out of doors thought that certain taxes should be repealed, and certain establishments reduced, it was their duty to press their Representatives, the duty of the Representatives to press the House, and of the House to press the Ministers. The course this Session had been to take a vote of credit for the Navy Estimates, which were always put foremost as the most popular service—that force which the people of England would last, be willing to diminish in a commercial as well as in a national point of view. They had been brought forward between ten and eleven o'clock at night, when it was two late for the Ministers to give in detail the reasons for the demand. The House was always led a good deal astray by the repeated statement of the Minister that it was impossible to make any reduction. Administration after Administration had asserted that the only available sum to which reduction could be applied was 15,000,000l. and that nothing could be taken from the half-pay, pensions, or superannuation allowances. They amounted, 318 in round numbers, to 5,000,000l. a year; but so far from being incapable of reduction, if the House did its duty and made proper inquiries how the half-pay had been kept up to its present amount for the last sixteen or seventeen years, it would be found that large reductions might and ought to be made in it. Promotion in the army had been carried on to a great extent, without considering that every new appointment saddled the country with an annuity on an average of from twelve to fourteen years, and in most of the recent cases, where very young men had obtained commissions, the average was increased to sixteen or eighteen years. Looking at the Guards, he saw that the Queen's pages had recently received Commissions without purchase, and it ought to be recollected that every Commission was between 2,000l. and 3,000l. out of the pocket of the public. It could not be denied that through the various Finance Committees great and important reductions had been effected, and he believed that the evidence of the present right hon. Secretary for Ireland, among others, had occasioned several economical changes. There were circumstances connected with the half-pay list which he would throw out for the consideration of his Majesty's Government, and on which, sooner or later, questions of great importance must arise. Four years ago, in consequence of information furnished to the proper quarter, it appeared that the pensions of privates and others had increased amazingly. In consequence of that information it was found that many persons had obtained pensions for ten years previous under false suppositions. This fact appeared on the evidence of the Secretary at War, and it became a serious question whether it ought not to have led to an investigation of the mode in which many officers obtained commissions in the army and navy. As they had derived great benefits from the former inquiry, there was little doubt but that similar results would flow from the appointment of a Committee at the present time. He intended that the Committee he proposed to have appointed should have liberty to recommend consolidation in several establishments. That this was not only practicable, but incumbent, would appear from the statement with which he would trespass on the House. It appeared from the last balance-sheet of the public accounts, that the public 319 burthens which cannot be removed or reduced without either a fall in the interest of the debt or the expiration of the terminable annuities, amount to not less than 28,500,000l. Besides this, there is 21,000,000l. for the public establishments, including the civil list, half-pay &c. This includes 3,800,000l. for the collection of the revenue; 2,000,000l. for the civil list, pensions, the salaries of the judges, &c.; and the expenses of the army, navy, and ordnance, which together with the miscellaneous, were not less than 14,000,000l. He would therefore call the attention of the House to the expenditure of the Army and Ordnance with a view to showing how a saving could be effected in that branch of the expenditure. He did not intend to make any allusions to the expenditure of the Navy at present. The Army Estimates this year amounted to 5,700,000l. and the Ordnance to 1,497,059l., which together made nearly 7,200,000l. for the military expenditure. The question he had to put to the House was, could any means be adopted by which the civil departments of the Army and Ordnance could be consolidated, with the view of making a saving in the charge for management? These two services were apparently intimately connected and mixed up together, and he had heard many experienced military men declare that such an arrangement would be for the advantage of the public service; he thought it would be highly beneficial if in their civil departments they were united. He believed that it would be admitted by all, that it would be impossible that any public establishment could be carried on with regard to economy unless a controlling power existed and was exercised. With respect to our military establishments, it appeared to him that the requisite control was altogether wanting. It appeared on investigation before the Finance Committee that a large part of the public expenditure was not properly checked, because there was not sufficient controlling power to keep in check the heads of establishments; for each department was anxious to keep up its importance by maintaining as large an expenditure as possible. During the war the expenditure in many departments had been raised to as high a pitch as possible, and had continued in some of them in spite of the remonstrances of the higher authorities whom the House regarded as responsible, 320 If there was one subject more than another that appeared perfectly clear to the Finance Committee, it was, that one person should have the power of checking the expenditure, and should be made responsible, and that the First Lord of the Treasury was the person who ought to exercise this control over the heads of departments. As he saw the right hon. Member for Cumberland about to leave the House, he would make a few observations relative to the changes made by him relative to the Navy. The Finance Committee had declared, that the then system of carrying on the Administration of the Navy, by means of the Board of Admiralty and Navy Board—one being, in some degree, independent of the other—was injurious to the public service. The right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), when First Lord of the Admiralty, directed his attention to this, and determined to make a junction of the departments, and concentrate the whole management of the Navy under one authority—namely, the Admiralty Board. He succeeded in carrying his plan into effect, by which he effected a considerable reduction of expenditure, and, at the same time, rendered the service more efficient. The savings effected by the right hon. Baronet amounted to not less than 1,300,000l. a-year. Much of this saving had been effected by reducing the quantity of stores, but a great deal had also resulted from the junction of the civil establishments of the navy. It was stated by the right hon. Baronet, when he brought forward his plan, that the conflicting opinions of the heads of the two Boards had, in consequence of a difference of opinion prevailing between them, on some occasions led to injury to the public service, to a greater expenditure than would otherwise be required, and also to much waste of labour. The plan of the right hon. Baronet was objected to by those who had preceded him in office, as likely to lessen the efficiency of the Navy, and be deeply injurious to the public service. The right hon. Baronet, however, took upon himself the responsibility of the change, and the result had shown, instead of the melancholy prognostications of the opponents of the plan being true, that not only a most material saving was brought about, but that our Naval establishment was rendered more efficient by the plan. The right hon. Baronet deserved high praise for the 321 change he had introduced, and by which means a reduction had been made in the Navy Estimates of nearly one-fourth the former amount. He could not help expressing his hope that equal advantages would result from the consolidation of the Army and Ordnance departments. He did not, however, go so far as to ask the House to sanction a junction of the two branches of the service, or to call upon Ministers to take steps with that view, he merely demanded inquiry, and certainly no harm could result from granting that. He was satisfied that if a Committee were appointed it would recommend the union of some of the departments, as tending to promote the public service. Before he proceeded to allude to the present Ordnance Estimates he wished to make some observations with respect to the practice which had prevailed, with reference to the civil administration of the Army, since the commencement of the last war. Previously, the Secretary-at-War exercised considerable power over the Army, and superintended the general arrangements. Since, however, the Duke of York became Commander-in-Chief, who gradually aggrandized the power of that office, the control of the Secretary-at-War had been diminished. The latter who was responsible to the King and the House, was the proper officer to conduct and superintend the affairs of the Army, and yet the power, without the responsibility, had been transferred to the Commander-in-chief. He should be glad to have a Committee up stairs, before which the right hon. Member for Dundee (Sir Henry Parnell), the Member for Nottingham (Sir John Hobhouse), and the Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice), might be examined as to the relative duties of the offices they lately filled. He considered the continuance of the office of Commander-in-chief, in its present form, as opposed to all reduction and economy. He was not a responsible officer, and yet the power of keeping up the army mainly depended on him. He said so with confidence, because he had read it in the evidence given before the Committee last year, and also because he had heard the right hon. Member for Coventry make a declaration nearly to the same effect. When asked why the recommendations of the Committee were not carried into effect respecting the reduction of the duration of appointments on the staff, the 322 right hon. Member had alluded to the objections from the Commander-in-chief's office as the chief reason. At present all appointments connected with the Adjutant-general's office, or the Quarter Master-general's office lasted for a number of years. The Committee recommended that changes should be effected in the staff' of the army once in three or four years, as was the case with respect to naval appointments. By this means a greater number of officers would be called into service than was at present the case; and it would also be more advantageous for the service, as a greater number of efficient officers would be ready in case their services should be necessary in any exigency. This plan was opposed by the Commander-in-chief, and the other authorities at the Horse Guards, and was not carried into effect. He might be in error, but he believed he was correct in saying that the Commander-in-chief performed some of the duties for the execution of which the Secretary at War was alone responsible. He was convinced that until the office of Commander-in-chief in the army was put on the same footing as that of an Admiral of the fleet—namely, completely under the control of the Admiralty Board—those reductions which were so desirable, and which were so loudly called for in our military expenditure, could not be carried into effect. No reductions of consequence could be made until the expenditure was placed under proper control. The object of his Motion was to refer the Army and Ordnance Estimates to a Committee up stairs, constituted in a similar manner to the Finance Committee, which could have the proper officers brought before it for examination, and the best evidence that could be adduced might be brought forward as to the advantage of joining the army and artillery under one superior control. The Ordnance Estimates might be divided into two heads, the military and the store-keeper's department; and in the Estimates for the present year, there was a third head, which occasioned a slight increase of the expenditure, and which had lately been very properly transferred from the Treasury, he meant the Commissariat Department; he did not intend to allude to this at present. It appeared to him desirable that the present Board of Ordnance should be entirely reduced, and a very different arrangement made, If the change which he 323 urged was adopted, the savings under the two heads of Ordnance expenditure might be reduced, if not several hundred thousand, at least several thousand pounds. He proposed that the artillery and engineers should form an integral part of the array, as they did in every other part of the world. He believed, that a great portion of the staff of every other army in Europe was composed of a number of engineer officers, but in England, the officers connected with the scientific branch of the service were seldom promoted to the staff for which their previous education would apparently so well fit them, because they were unknown to the Commander-in-chief, and were not under his orders. In consequence of this, the two most important branches of the service—the Artillery and Engineers—had had great injury done them. If these bodies were placed under the Commander-in-chief, the Ordnance would have nothing to attend to but the receipt and expenditure of stores. A Board, having the control of military stores, should be extremely simple in its nature, and might be formed of military officers who were already amply paid for their services, and who had a great deal of time to spare, and who would, therefore, gladly give their services in the superintendence of the Ordnance; and by this means a great saving would be effected. He objected also to the constitution of the Paymaster's office which ought to be got rid of entirely. Hon. Gentlemen might naturally expect that all the payments were made through this office, whereas the greater part of the money was actually paid by others and it was merely an office of account. The Paymaster of the Forces had merely to receive and exchange the warrants from the Secretary at War for the payment of the troops, and return orders on the Bank of England for the amount. All the money issues were by the Secretary at War, who not only originated the grants, but who audited them. The Paymaster of the Forces had no control whatever in the actual expenditure; therefore he complained of this office, which was maintained at an expense—including retired allowances—of 25,226l. The greater portion of the Army pay was distributed by the Army Agents, who, when they obtained the order from the Pay-office, presented it at the Bank and received the money. As far as control over the expen- 324 diture was concerned, it would be just as well to throw up the Pay-office, and for the Secretary at War to give orders to the Army agents to receive the money at the Bank. Thus the Secretary at War might give his order to Messrs. Cox and Greenwood, or any other agent, to go to the Bank for the money, instead of their having to go to the office of the Paymaster of the Forces, where an order on the Bank of England was given for the amount required. This order was not given by the Paymaster of the Forces himself, but by one of the clerks in the office. One of the evils of the present system was, that there was no efficient check, for one of the clerks might make an order on the Bank for a large sum, and receive the amount, and get away before the fraud was discovered. He did not mean to say, that there was the slightest probability of this taking place; but what he complained of was, that there did not appear to be an efficient check to prevent such an occurrence. He complained that Pay-mastership had never been an efficient office for auditing the large expenditure of the army, and therefore, in its present form, it should be got rid of. It appeared, also, that if it were an efficient pay-office, its expense was far too great, for while the payments made through Cox and Greenwood's house were done at a charge of seven-eighths percent, the present expense of the Paymaster of the Force's office was nearly 19,000l.; that was for merely exchanging the warrants for the pay of the regiments, and for the half-pay. He had no hesitation in saying, that not only no inconvenience would result from doing away with this department altogether, but that the public service would be promoted by it, and that also it would lead to a considerable saving of expenditure. The expense of the Pay-office was equal to a charge of 2l. 3s. 6d. per cent, on the money which ought, under a better system to go through their hands; whereas it was clear, from the allowance to Cox and Greenwood, that it might be done at seven-eighths per cent. Nobody would deny that the payment of the troops could be effected at the charge now made by the army-agents. He saw no reason why the business now done in the Adjutant-general's office, the Quartermaster-general's office, and the Pay-office might not be carried on in one office under one roof. There was no doubt in his mind that by 325 the junction of these offices a saving might be effected to the amount of, from thirty-two to 35,000l. Then, again, the expenditure of the Army and Ordnance was enormous. In 1835–36, the Ordnance Estimates—leaving for the present the charge for the Commissariat out of the question—was 1,335,976l.
Sir Charles D'Albiac
rose to order. He submitted that the hon. Member was not justified on a Motion respecting the Army Estimates, in going into an examination of the Ordnance Estimates.
§ The Speaker
observed, that as he understood the hon. Member rose to move, as an Amendment to the Motion for a Committee of Supply, that the Ordnance and Army Estimates should be referred to a Select Committee, it appeared to him, that the hon. Member was not out of order.
§ Mr. Hume
was surprised that an officer of so much experience as the gallant General, should not see the object he(Mr. Hume) had in view, in the observations he had addressed to the House. He knew the gallant General entertained different opinions on the subject of the Army Establishment from his, and he was therefore anxious to show the gallant General how imperfect a view he took of the subject. He repeated, the money to be voted for the Ordnance service this year was 1,335,976l. Of this sum 584,947l. was issued by Messrs. Cox and Greenwood, for the pay of the artillery, engineers, and superannuation allowances. The amount of the charge for their agency was about 3,150l., which was included in the last sum. The next head of expenditure, the establishments at Woolwich, was 5,124l. The next charge was 178,717l. for Ordnance works in various parts of the world, including engineers' pay and charge for superintendence. The next vote was 256,997l. for barracks and barrack-masters. The next vote was for the purchase of artillery, clothing, &c. Ordnance stores, great coats for the Army, and building materials, amounting to 100,273l. The charge for miscellaneous expenses was 79,454l. The salaries to the Board of Ordnance were 10,000l. and the salaries, &c. to clerks, 120,464l., making together 130,464l. He contended that these Estimates might be greatly reduced. As he had before stated, if they took the portion of the Ordnance Estimates paid by Cox and Greenwood, it would be found that very nearly 600,000l. was 326 annually paid to, and distributed by, them to the artillery and engineers at a charge of seven-eighths per cent, while the expense of the Ordnance-office was twenty-one per cent, on the whole expenditure. It appeared that it was part of the duty of the clerks at the Ordnance-office to audit the accounts of Cox and Greenwood; now he would at once remove this to the War-office, where the duty would be done quite as efficiently as at present; he would also place the artillery and engineers under the control of the Commander-in-chief, as any other portion of the Army. This might be done at a very small additional expense to the Commander-in-chief's office. The charge for ordnance works and repairs in various parts of the world for the present year was 178,717l., and a considerable sum was expended in the pay of the engineer-officers, that superintended them. All ordnance works were done under the inspection of engineer-officers, who, while they were employed received double pay. Altogether the charge was 18½ per cent, on the outlay. There was no work under civil officers, however important, that might not be carried on at from four to five per cent. The right hon. Member for Dundee had called for accounts before the Finance Committee, with a view of showing the enormous charge for superintendence in all branches of our military expenditure, but those returns had not been furnished. He found similar extravagance to that to which he had just directed the attention of the House in other charges of the present Estimates. For the erection of barracks the country was called upon to pay on the outlay fifteen per cent, more than the most eminent architect would require. Again, an immense quantity of stores were kept which never could be used. This practice was objectionable, not only because of the needless outlay of much money in the first instance, which cost the country yearly interest to a very considerable amount, but also because of the perishable nature of these articles. This was particularly obvious with respect to harness and leather, which always was deteriorating in value. On a late occasion the stores on hand were valued and found to be worth 158,000l., on which, by being kept for so many years, it appeared the country had lost in interest not less than 154,000l., making a total of 312,000l. 327 The greater part of these stores had since been sold at an enormous loss to the country. He totally objected to a store department as unnecessary, because every article of use now in store could be procured on much better terms from the contractors, who were anxious to enter into competition for the supply. The total amount of the expense incurred in rent and civil salaries to officers engaged in this absurd system of keeping necessaries in stores was 44,000l. a-year, all of which expense he would show, in a Committee above stairs, was totally unnecessary. It should be, in his opinion, conducted and managed by the responsible head of the military government of the country.—Taking together the expenses of the civil departments of the Ordnance and Stores in England, Scotland, and Ireland, he found they amounted to the enormous sum yearly of 130.464l. Surely this expense would never be tolerated if a Select Committee were appointed to inquire into the expenditure of this part of our system. They had been, he well recollected, told when the Finance Committee was last appointed by the then Government, that all possible attention should be paid to its recommendations and suggestions; but shortly after, when the right hon. Baronet was in office, under the Duke of Wellington, the House was informed that, notwithstanding the progress that Committee had made in collecting evidence which was now forthcoming, despite of the late fire, in the shape of three or four thick volumes, there was no necessity for continuing the labours of that Committee, and the right hon. Baronet declined actually to re-appoint the Committee. The consequence was, that the House and the public lost the obvious advantage they might expect from having an opinion delivered on each of the subjects seriatim, upon which they had collected with so much care, volumes of very important information. He would once for all say that the true test of that House having that control or not which it was so desirable for the interests of the community it should possess, was, that the power of inquiry should be centered in that House. He would contend that the present system was injurious; that the control which the Commander-in-Chief exercised over the civil department of the army should be discontinued, and that the Secretary at War, or some responsible officer of the 328 Crown in the House, should be answerable for whatever changes or appointments took place in these departments. The House knew there was continual complaints at present by the Commander-in-Chief of the interference of the Secretary at War with his department, while the latter as loudly complained of the occasional interference of the former. If the Motion which he should now make were acceded to, he felt convinced he could show to the Committee a mode of consolidating the civil department of the Ordnance with that of the Army, so as to produce a saving to the country of not less than 300,000l. a-year. With these views he should move as an Amendment—"To refer Army and Ordnance Estimates to a Select Committee, to consider of the expediency and practicability of consolidating some of the military and civil departments of the Army and Ordnance, with a view to diminish the expense of those establishments, and to provide a more efficient control over military expense."
§ The Amendment having been put by the Speaker,
Lord John Russell
rose and said, he was ready to vote for the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, so far as its object was to appoint a Select Committee to consider the expediency of consolidating the civil departments of the Army and the Ordnance. Many Members of the late Government having taken into consideration that question, thought it most advisable to adopt a more efficient control over the military expenditure; and they were also of opinion that it would never be effectually done till one person was charged with the responsibility. The Members of the late Government being of that opinion, a commission was appointed by his Majesty, of which his hon. Friend, the Member for Coventry was one, himself was another, and the Duke of Richmond was a third, who took a leading part. The Commissioners instituted inquiries with regard to the practicability of the different plans suggested. There were many objections and many recommendations started, all of which were duly considered; and as far as the evidence went, he must say, the opinion he had entertained was not shaken, that it would be far better that there were one officer, whether the Secretary of the War Department, or the Secretary of State, or a President of the Army Board, who should be able to come down to the 329 House and state, on his own responsibility, that he had recommended such an expenditure, and that he was accountable for it. When he looked at the present way in which the Army was governed—when he saw that the Secretary at War interfered with the Commander-in-Chief, and the Commander-in-Chief interfered with the Secretary at War—that the Board of Ordnance exercised a power separate from either department—that military officers were obliged to go to the several heads of the different departments—and, lastly, when he took into consideration the great superabundance of stores, which, he believed, at the time of the appointment of the commission was estimated at seven millions. He, with many others, did think that these evils might be remedied, and that their correction would lead to a better administration of the affairs of the army. At the same time it was not his opinion, nor did he think it was the opinion of any of the members of the Commission, that the military command invested in the Commander-in-chief for the purpose of preserving military discipline, should be weakened. The Commission, however, never adopted any definite opinion. He did not think it completed its inquiries when the Duke of Richmond resigned office. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Secretary for Ireland), who was most competent to offer an opinion on the plan, and to go into the details of the subject, had not been examined, and this fact alone appeared to him to afford sufficient proof that the evidence had not been completed. The Commission, then, having closed without making any report, or bringing the evidence to a conclusion, he still thought this a proper subject for inquiry, either by the Government itself, if it were disposed to undertake such an investigation, or by a Select Committee of that House. Taking this view of the Question, he was not disposed to refer the Army and Ordnance Estimates to a Select Committee, but he should be prepared to vote for a Select Committee of the nature of that of which the hon. Gentleman spoke, if he confined his Motion to that. He took the liberty, however, of suggesting to the hon. Gentleman that it was not advisable for him to press his Motion this evening on account of the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War. The course of their present pro- 330 ceedings was certainly no fault of this Parliament—it was not their fault that they were getting somewhat too near to the period when the Mutiny Bill would expire, for them at present to enter into the discussion of any other subject. He should have no objection to going into a Committee of Supply, and taking the vote of a certain number of men. If the hon. Gentleman persisted in his Motion, he should vote for it; but he begged to suggest to the hon. Gentleman, that it would always be in his power to bring forward his Motion, which was another reason why he hoped the hon. Gentleman would feel no objection to withdraw it on the present occasion.
concurred in almost every thing that had fallen from his noble Friend and would join him in expressing a hope that the hon. Member for Middlesex would withdraw his Motion. He differed with his noble Friend on one point only, viz. the course he should pursue this evening would not be directed by the course which might be taken by the noble Lord. If the hon. Member for Middlesex persisted in his Motion, he should consider it his duty to divide against him, but if he postponed it, and brought it forward hereafter, in the form of a substantive Motion, and did not bring it forward as a Motion for stopping the Supplies, or preventing the passing of the Mutiny Bill, then he should be ready to consider that it was a Question well worthy the consideration of the House, and, also, that great and extensive reductions might be made, not only without injuring, but with benefit to the interests of the country. He regretted that the Commission had not brought its inquiries to an end before the close of last Session, because he felt that this was a Question that it was much better to leave in the hands of the Executive, aided by a Commission, than to refer to the investigation of the House. He was, therefore, glad to learn that the Government prepared to follow up the inquiries instituted last Session, with a view to realizing the objects contemplated by the late Government, if it were found practicable, viz. the consolidation of the various civil Departments of the Army and the Ordnance. He was glad the Government were prepared to act upon that view; but if it should turn out that they were not, and the hon. Member for Middlesex, on another occasion, thought fit to move that a Select Com- 331 mittee be appointed to take into consideration the evidence that had been given before the Commission, and to receive and report on such other evidence as might be obtainable, he should not only give no opposition to such a Motion, but, as far as he could, should be ready to afford him every support. He did hope that the hon. Member, after the strong opinion which the right hon. Gentleman had expressed, as to the importance to the service of the vote of this evening not being delayed, would consent for the present to withdraw his motion; and he trusted that, if the hon. Gentleman did so, the House would see the propriety of abstaining from any further discussion of a Question which would be much better argued hereafter.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, he thought that the House upon all similar occasions to the present, had always been in the habit, whatever might have been the feeling of hon. Members, and however strong their objections to the political principles of the Government, disposed to show that consideration which was due to the circumstances under which a Government was called upon to administer the affairs of the public. And when the House recollected that the present Government undertook the functions of the Administration in December last, that they then found many questions remaining unsettled; the English Tithe Question was unsettled; the Irish Tithe Question was unsettled; the Dissenters' Marriage Question was unsettled; the state of Canada was unsettled—he might say, untouched—the Ministers having on all those questions to form a deliberate judgment, the House would not be surprised if there should be some matters which they had not taken into consideration. The Ministers had applied themselves to the serious consideration of those matters which had appeared to them to be the most pressing, and it would be for the House to say, whether they approved of the measures or not which were the result of the deliberation of the Ministers. He was sure they could not fairly say, that Government had been remiss in submitting measures to Parliament. The noble Lord had, in effect, said it was the fault of Government having dissolved Parliament, that the business of the country had not been proceeded with; this he totally dissented from. He would ask whether, on the days that were appro- 332 priated for the Committee of Supply, they had not been constantly obstructed?—whether almost every day usually appropriated for that Committee—whether there had not been some Motion or other made as an Amendment on the Motion for a Committee of Supply? Two notices of Motions as Amendments, had been given for that very day. The hon. Member for St. Alban's (Mr. Ward) had given notice of a Motion for to-day, for postponing the vote on the Army Estimates, till after the vote on Monday night. He hoped the hon. Member would persevere with that Motion; he believed it stood for to-night. Was it to come on after the hon. Member for Middlesex's Motion had been disposed of? He would take for granted that it was; he hoped it was, because he thought that that would be a fair and legitimate course by which the House could signify, whether they would or would not permit the Government to continue in the conduct of public affairs. He had never had greater anxiety than he had had with respect to these repeated notices. Notice was given on one day that the Navy Estimates should be postponed, on the express ground that the House had no confidence in the Ministers; on the other, that the Army Estimates should be postponed for the same reason; and when last night he saw the notice of the Motion that the Army Estimates should be postponed till a vote was taken on the noble Lord's Motion, he did not then entertain a doubt that at last a decision would be irrevocably come to, and that the House would come fairly to the question whether it would allow a vote to be taken for the number of men, or whether it would insist on the postponement of the business of the House, from want of confidence in Government. He did hope that a Motion so recently, so deliberately announced, as that of last night—announced, too, by one who had taken, as he was entitled to take, so prominent a part in connexion with the Irish Church—on the question whether or not they were prepared to postpone voting the number of men required, till after the decision of Monday next—he did hope that, considering the position in which they stood, that hon. Member having deliberately given notice of that Motion, was prepared fairly to bring it under the consideration of the House. The conduct of Government in calling Parliament together on the 19th of February, instead of the 333 4th or 5th, as the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) and his colleagues did in the preceding year, was not, as had been represented, the real cause of the delay which had taken place in the arrangement of the public business. It was owing to the exercise of that right—that extreme right—which he was ready to admit hon. Members possessed, of moving as Amendments to the Motion for going into Committees of Supply, Resolutions which certainly had no immediate connexion with the supply vote. The time had at length arrived when it was necessary for the House to determine whether or no they would allow further obstructions to be thrown in the way of the public service. On the 25th of April, the Mutiny Act would expire. They had, therefore, the power either by direct Motion, or by factious obstructions, to prevent the public business from being proceeded with. He hoped, from a regard to the character of the House of Commons, the course they would take would be a manly and straightforward course. If they brought forward irrelevant Motions for the sake of postponing the necessary business of the country, it became them to consider how far that was compatible with the dignity of the House, and the advantage of the public service, and if they were determined to submit a Motion of want of confidence, let the House know the grounds on which they proposed it. To waste the time of the House by long and tedious debates and frivolous Motions, was not a fair and legitimate course of opposition. It was a fair and legitimate course of hostility, for the House of Commons to declare "We have no confidence in your Government, and we will not intrust you with any vote or control of money," and "never," said the right hon. Baronet, "did I pant for any Motion as I do for that, and I am careless what the issue of it may be," That was the fair and legitimate course of opposition for the House of Commons to take; but it was not fair to leave the Ministers in doubt as to what were the intentions of the House, making it impossible for them to fulfil those intentions, by opposing obstructions, through causes which it was impossible adequately to meet, and the motives of which the public could not very well understand. The House was aware, that the financial year would close on the 1st of April; the Ministers had proposed the estimates, 334 and the Mutiny Act would expire on the 25th of April; if, then, a want of confidence in the Executive Government, induced the House to withhold the Supplies, let them say so; not by a factious opposition, but by a distinct vote. To postpone the Supplies, was, perhaps, not a factious course; but the indirect course, giving notice of Motions to withhold Supplies, withdrawing them, and granting Supplies, substantially implying confidence in the Government, certainly appeared like faction. If, instead of adopting such a course, the House of Commons had applied itself to the consideration of the estimates on previous nights, although it did not meet till the 19th of February, instead of the 4th or 5th, there would have been sufficient time for the complete discussion of the subject. He was afraid the hon. Gentleman was not going to divide on the Motion, which was to this effect—that the Army and Ordnance Estimates should be referred to a Committee. A notice to that effect was given by the hon. Gentleman, but he had now made a qualification. He did not mean to find fault with it. On the contrary, the hon. Member had exercised a legitimate and sound discretion; but he now was willing to concede the number of men, the responsibility properly resting on the Executive. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had formerly contested that point with the hon. Member, on the subject of the Navy Estimates, maintaining that Government ought to determine and regulate the amount of naval force required; but the hon. Member at that time did not agree to his proposition. On reflection, however, the hon. Member had altered his Motion, and that wisely. It was not a mere technical matter—the grand, plain, intelligible, rational ground, was this—the Executive Government commanded means of information, which the House of Commons, and no Select Committee, could have access to; and, acting on their own proper responsibility, their constitutional province was to propose the amount of force which the exigencies of the public service required. That was the ground on which the force was proposed. They were not to acquiesce in it because the forms referred it to the Privy Council. He would not accept of the hon. Gentleman's compromise, on that understanding. It did not rest with them, as an executive and responsible body, to propose the force; 335 it rested with that body which was known to the strict letter of the Constitution, was known to the House of Commons, forming the Cabinet Council called by his Majesty to render him the necessary assistance in the Executive Department of the State, and responsible for the manner in which they exercised their powers. The hon. Gentleman, therefore, wisely and justly now said, that the proposal of that force should be left with the Executive Government. Not that their proposal should be conclusive on the House of Commons, for if it appeared larger than the necessities of the public service required, that House would only be performing its proper functions, not by delegating them to a Select Committee of twenty-five of its Members, but by distinctly avowing to the Executive Government, that it was not satisfied with the estimate made, and the grounds on which the force was demanded. The hon. Gentleman then proposed to forego inquiry into the amount of the force, and made a proposal to this effect, that the rest of the Army Estimates, and the whole of the Ordnance Estimates, should be referred to a Select Committee. But, notwithstanding the exception of the amount of military force from the inquiry of the Committee, he could not adopt the suggestions of the hon. Gentleman. He never could consent to refer the remainder of the Army, and the whole of the Ordnance Estimates, to any Select Committee. If this were to be done in the present case, it ought to be done every year, and he, for one, would never consent to establish the precedent of withdrawing those estimates from the annual revision of the House of Commons, when every Member was called on by his duty to his constituents to take a part in that revision, and transfer them to a Committee up-stairs, where, as the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) justly said, "If a Government wanted to slur over an objectionable vote, or make an imperfect explanation, they would have a much better opportunity of doing it in a Committee, where the public scrutiny was not let in, where there was no irregular perhaps, but still very coercive, report of their debates and proceedings." If a Government, he said, wanted to screen objectionable votes from inquiry, let them send them up to a Select Committee, exercising an influence in its formation, and establish thereby the fatal precedent of withdrawing those votes for ever from the jurisdiction 336 of the Committee of the whole House.—He would not, therefore, consent to the amended Motion of the hon. Gentleman. But then came a third proposition, whether they would consent to the appointment of a Committee for the purpose of inquiring into certain matters connected with the civil administration of the Ordnance and Army Departments. It was exceedingly difficult to draw precisely the line where Committees ought to be granted and where they should be resisted by the House, for it was easy to make a plausible proposition to the appointment of a Committee upon every matter connected with the public interests. There was no office with respect to which it might not be said, where is the objection to appoint a Committee. Ten different gentlemen might appoint ten different Committees with respect to ten different departments, declaring that "Two Secretaries of State would do the business of three, and three Lords of the Admiralty do the business of five; reason will be heard in a Committee, and they will determine whether or no it will not be better to make a reduction of the whole. If you establish a good case see what advantage you will have, because, reason being heard, and evidence adduced, you may be enabled greatly to reduce your establishments." They might say that of every possible department. But the real Question was, whether there should not be made out a sufficient prima facie case; and he thought the House would agree with him that the general arguments which they had heard in favour of all sorts of possible reductions did not establish a sufficient ground to induce him to consent in the present instance to the appointment of a Committee. To illustrate this, he would observe that the noble Lord the Member for Devonshire, proposed that a Committee should be appointed to inquire, whether or not the office of Commander-in-Chief might not, in point of fact, be virtually abolished, and his power transferred to the Secretary at War. Now, he would not consent to a Committee for the purpose of considering that Question;—he would not consent to transfer the military administration of the army to a civil officer;—he would not consent to abrogate the civil duties of the Commander-in-Chief.—[Lord John Russell. I did not refer to any civil duties performed by the Commander-in-Chief.] One of the noble 337 Lord's objections was, that the Secretary-at-War interfered with the Commander-in-Chief, and that the Commander-in-Chief interfered with the Secretary-at-War. Now this must be an interference with respect to civil duties. As to the duties of the Secretary-at-War, then, who might be a civilian, and who had civil duties connected with his office, he was not prepared to say that a Committee should be appointed, in order to dissociate those duties from those of the Commander-in-Chief. The remaining Question was this—whether he (Sir R. Peel) would undertake, on the part of the Crown, to consent to a Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the amalgamation of the civil departments of the army and the ordnance, or to the appointment of a Commission for the purpose. He believed that he might now refer to what he had hitherto not thought himself entitled to refer to—the communication which the noble Lord (Russell) had been good enough to make with respect to the result of an inquiry instituted by the late Government. He did not think that he should have been called on to discuss that Question, and the reason why he had alluded to the multifarious duties which had been devolved on the present Government was this—that considering the early meeting of Parliament after their appointment, many matters must have escaped that serious and attentive consideration to which they were entitled. It was only last night that the noble Lord (Russell) complained that he (Sir R. Peel) was not prepared, having opposed the admission of Dissenters to the Universities, to propose a scheme by which, admitting the principle, admitting the reasonableness of their expectations, the one and the other could be carried practically into effect. He admitted the principle, he said, but could not pledge himself to a measure with respect to the details of which he had had no opportunity of deliberately making up his mind. Now, he had no hesitation or shame in admitting that he had not given to that subject that full consideration which it deserved. He was ready to give a similar answer to the proposition of the hon. Member for Middlesex. At the same time, he must say that he did not see any necessary connection which that proposition had with the vote of Supply. What ground could a refusal be for opposition? Allowing that it were right to grant a 338 Committee, or appoint a Commission, what connexion had the doing so with the Army and Ordnance Estimates? If he refused either or both, let the hon. Gentleman take the fair course; let him give notice of a Motion on the subject for a future day,—let it come fully and fairly before the House,—let the evidence of its necessity be made apparent,—but let him not raise an opposition to a Question of public business, which was as foreign from the Question as one thing could be from another. If, after reading all the evidence given before the late Commission,—if, after considering the Question in all its bearings, he stated to the House and the hon. Gentleman, that he did not deem it necessary to assent to his proposition,—then let the hon. Gentleman take the course he thought proper in reference to it. He had no other answer to give the hon. Gentleman. He could not, until those conditions had been complied with, accede to his proposition. Whatever might occur, he would never, while he had the honour to be a Minister of the Crown, consent to establish a bad precedent to escape from a temporary difficulty. He would make no pledge—he would give no promise beyond this—that the subject should have his best consideration; and if, on a future day, the hon. Member brought forward a Motion on the subject, he should be prepared to meet it, in whatever way he might deem most advantageous for the service of the State.
§ Mr. Ellice
said, that nothing could be more reasonable than the right hon. Baronet's proposition, and upon the understanding that he would turn his attention to the subject with the view of considering whether, consistently with his public duty, a Committee of Inquiry, or a Commission should be appointed on the subject, he was not disposed to press him further on the present occasion, and would recommend the hon. Member for Middlesex to withdraw his Motion. But in the former part of the right hon. Baronet's speech, certain matters were introduced, which really had very little reference to the proposition with which he concluded; and it was impossible for those who were connected with the late Government, or with the late Parliament, to hear those taunts without telling the right hon. Baronet, in the face of the country, that his situation was one of his own choosing, and for which he was responsible, If the 339 public time, therefore, had been wasted, and the public expectations disappointed. With respect to measures on various interesting points which were under the consideration of the Government, which preceded the present Ministers, the right hon. Baronet was responsible for that delay, because, if he himself was not on the spot at the time that the late Ministry were dismissed, his colleagues, who were in power before his arrival, had advised their dismissal, and as the right hon. Baronet had taken office, he was responsible for all that had taken place. When they called for measures, he was ready to admit that it would not be fair for any one placed in the right hon. Baronet's situation to be called on, as in ordinary circumstances, to bring forward measures of any description without the means of attentive and considerate inquiry. But the Dissenters' Marriage Bill, the University Bill, and a number of other Bills, had all been under the investigation of the late Government; and if the right hon. Gentleman had not saved them the trouble of bringing them forward, they would have been introduced in a House of Commons, too, which had the power of carrying them into effect. When that Government was dismissed, and that Parliament was dissolved, what was the state of the country? The late Government, as far as they had heard anything of the subject, had not been found fault with for any act on any public ground; they were dismissed at a moment's notice by an act of caprice, on the advice of the noble Duke, in a manner for which no precedent was to be found in the history of the country. By this movement the entire mass of measures of public improvement which was in process of digestion, was completely impeded, and the public business thrown back for an incalculable period. Next came the dismissal of the Parliament. A Parliament which never refused a vote of credit to the King; a Parliament which enjoyed the confidence of the people—a Parliament which was not impugned. That Parliament was dismissed—not because of its incompetency to do justice to the country—but because it would not suit the political views of the right hon. Baronet and his party; and because they expected by its dissolution to be supplied with another adverse to those measures of improvement which the former were anxious to carry into operation, He did not wish to have 340 alluded to these topics, had not the right hon. Baronet (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) done so. Let him tell him, that when he comes to the House, he is not sure of its assistance to get through votes essential to the public service. Looking to the emergency, some course ought to be taken satisfactory to the country. He was not prepared to take the course proposed by his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume); but in differing from that, he did not mean to express the slightest confidence in the Government. The right hon. Baronet was an old practitioner, and pressed the question of want of confidence in the Government on the House, when they were called upon to vote for means to support the army. The moment for that vote would come. The vote before the House was no vote of confidence. He would ask his hon. Friends to permit the votes for the Army Estimates to proceed. They were necessary for the service of his Majesty, for whoever held the Government, and without them they could not pay the officers and soldiers. The last thing he would ask would be, not to do anything that would imply the least confidence in the Government. Hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House said, that was factious. As he had some experience, he could recollect that what was then called faction on their the (Opposition side of the House), was not considered so on the 21st of February last year; for on the Question, that the Speaker do leave the Chair on a Committee of Supply, he recollected that a noble Marquess (the Marquess of Chandos) brought forward a Motion on agricultural distress, that had much less reference to the subject before the House then than the present Motion. He believed the right hon. the Secretary-at-War (Mr. Herries) made a Motion on the Timber-duties, when the Question of the Ordnance Estimates was before the House. [Mr. Herries: Never.] He had no distinct recollection on the subject. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentlemen opposite were perfectly welcome to their cheers, but it had been suggested by some hon. Gentleman behind him. There was, however, no occasion to go into these matters. It would, if the Motion were then withdrawn as not pressing, be the duty of the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Hume) to bring it forward the first opportunity. With respect to the Motion itself before the House, he 341 could assure the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that his (Mr. Ellice's) mind was as unsettled as his own upon the subject of separating the civil from the military functions of the Secretary-at-War and the Commander-in-Chief, and he had a decided objection to a separation between the Engineers and the Artillery. But, after all, the question must come and be finally settled where the control over the military expenditure of the country shall be placed. He would not now say anything on the subject, or whether that control ought to rest with the Commander-in-Chief or the Board of Ordnance, as the responsible hands. With respect to the Army Estimates themselves, there were only two parts of them to which objection had been made, namely the Staff of the Horse-Guards, and some allowances to the Foot-Guards. Upon these subjects he should be most happy to give his best assistance to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in bringing them to a satisfactory issue. As to the Staff', there was one point to which he wished to allude. It was his opinion, that all officers should be eligible, and have an equal chance of succeeding to the Staff appointments by rotation; but as those appointments at present stood, they were a perfect monopoly in the hands of only a few officers, many of whom held them for a number of years. There was one appointment of this kind which he knew had been held by the same individual for twenty-two years, and he could the more fairly allude to this monopoly inasmuch as it was held by a friend of his own. The alteration which he suggested upon this subject did not come from himself; it was the recommendation of the Committee that had been appointed to inquire into the matter that this alteration should be made. With respect to the Ordnance Department, it was notorious, that one-half of the Ordnance stores that had been most wantonly collected, were perfectly useless; and if they could not be sold for anything it would be far better to give them away than to keep them any longer. It had not been his intention to trouble the House at all on this occasion, had it not been for some of the observations that fell from the right hon. Baronet opposite. He would recommend his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) to give a fresh notice of his Motion for a future day, so that the right hon. Baronet opposite might have sufficient time to give it 342 all due consideration. The present was not an occasion in which the House could show its want of confidence in his Majesty's Ministers, however strongly they might feel that want; because the House could never think of disturbing the whole military system of the country by refusing to renew the Mutiny Act, or by hesitating to vote the necessary Supplies for paying the soldiers. Before many days elapsed the House would have plenty of opportunities of showing what degree of confidence his Majesty's Ministers possessed from it. The sort of confidence they possessed had already been shown of late in some instances. It seemed that on any question brought before the House, whatever might be the subject, it only required the opposition of his Majesty's Ministers to insure its being carried. How a Government might exist, while night after night, it was left in minorities, was a problem that yet remained to be solved by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The Question of the Irish Church must be settled, and the right hon. Gentleman would then see what confidence was placed in him by the House or the country.
§ Mr. Herries
said, that as he considered that all the observations of the hon. Gentlemen opposite had been so well answered already by those who had preceded him, he hoped the House would permit him without further delay, to proceed with that portion of the public business which it was his duty to bring before it. He should not follow the right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken through all the topics in which he had indulged, nor should he attempt to equal the warmth which that right hon. Gentleman had displayed in any vindication of his Majesty's Ministers from the crimination in which the right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to involve them, but would at once proceed to prosecute the business before the House. Towards the close of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, he had adopted a cooler and a better course, and in that course alone he (Mr. Herries) was disposed to follow him. He should only advert to one charge that had been made against himself individually by the right hon. Gentleman. He meant that of having last year interrupted the Ordnance Estimates by some Motion about timber. He could assure his right hon. Friend, if he would allow him so to call him, that he never was guilty of that interruption, He certainly 343 did on one occasion of the sort introduce a Motion on the subject of the Russian-Dutch loan; but he did so with the full consent of the Members of the Government whom he had spoken to on the subject. He should on the present occasion avoid all political topics, not because he was disposed to shrink from those topics through any fear of not being able to answer the charges of the right hon. Gentleman, but because he deemed it most prudent and convenient for the public service to refrain from noticing them. He hoped he might conclude from what had passed, that the hon. Member for Middlesex did not now intend to persevere in his Motion, and he was to understand that the hon. Member acquiesced in the advice that had been given to him?
§ Mr. Hume
said, he would not allow anything that had fallen from the right hon. Baronet opposite to influence him in the course which he intended to take. He hoped he should see the day when every one of the public estimates would undergo the most minute investigation elsewhere before they were submitted to that House. As some of his friends, however, had expressed an opinion adverse to his pressing the present question to a division on this occasion, he acknowledged that he felt bound to give up or rather to postpone the step which at first he had contemplated taking, at the same time that he had not in the least altered his opinion as to the expediency of referring the Estimates to a Committee, and at the proper time he should again submit a Motion to the House having that object in view—probably that day week he might bring the matter under the consideration of the House. He hoped therefore, that the right hon. Baronet would not oppose his bringing it forward as a substantive question on that day week, or on some other early day.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
observed in reference to the promise of which the hon. Member had spoken, that he had merely said he would read with the greatest attention the Report of the Committee of that House, and the evidence given before it, and that he would afterwards with the least possible delay inform the hon. Gentleman of the course which his Majesty's Government intended to pursue—whether they thought that no disturbance of the present system should take place, or whether they were willing 344 to appoint a Commission for the purpose of considering the subject. If the hon. Gentleman were not satisfied, then he would have an opportunity of making his proposition. With reference to the day on which he might bring it forward, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would only observe that, looking to the debate which was coming on next Monday, and considering that that must of necessity be an adjourned debate, he hoped the hon. Gentleman would see the propriety of postponing it for a short time.
§ Mr. Ward
said, he should not interfere with the present vote, and he should state frankly the grounds upon which his opposition to the estimates was founded, grounds quite apart from anything like a feeling of factious opposition, at the same time that in reference to the question of the amount of the army he did entertain a strong feeling, and he believed that if a different system were adopted with regard to Ireland, we might dispense with a considerable portion of our military force. Believing, then, that such a change of system as he contemplated would render the present numerical strength of the army not necessary, he would give no Government the means of supporting by military force that system, their disapprobation of which he trusted the House of Commons would deliberately place upon record. Though determined to oppose the estimates on the bringing up of the Report, he should not for the present further interfere.
§ The House resolved itself into a Committee.
§ Mr. Herries
rose to move the first vote on the Army Estimates, before which he wished to make a few observations. The Committee, he presumed, must be perfectly aware that owing to the peculiar circumstances under which the present Government came into office, and owing to the recency of the period at which their access took place, there was not time for them to enter upon any revision of the estimates. It was his full conviction that even as the estimates stood, they were as much reduced as they could be, due regard being had to the interests of the public service; but still he begged it to be understood that the estimates were those of the last rather than of the present Government. He made this observation, however, without any wish to divest himself of the responsibility 345 which properly attached to this office, nor did he for a moment mean to say, that though the estimates were founded upon the arrangements of the preceding Government, the present Administration were not as fully responsible for them as if they had been for years in office. He could not conclude this observation without giving the late Government full credit for much that was advantageous in the estimates then before the Committee. He wished also to call the attention of the House to the fact that those estimates were the result of several revisions of the condition of the Army; the whole subject, as hon. Members must know, had been more than once under the consideration of Committees of that House—the whole military expenditure of the country having been referred to several Committees, and many suggestions of great value were made, in consequence of which many improvements were effected, not only with respect to the diminution of the number of men employed, but as to the improved regulation of the finances. To all the changes contemplated by the late Government full attention had been paid by the present Government with a view to carry every practicable and useful suggestion into full effect. He felt bound also to state that very great care had been bestowed on the work of revision by several of his predecessors in the office which he had now the honour to hold, and it was no more than justice that he should bear testimony to the great capacity and indefatigable industry with which a right hon. Friend of his, who formerly filled the office of Secretary-at-War, and now filled the office of Chief Secretary to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, devoted himself to the duties of that situation, and the extraordinary skill and success with which he applied himself to the great object of effecting useful alterations. Of course the first consideration which must occupy the attention of the House would be the total number of men who were to compose the army during the ensuing year, and after as complete an examination of the subject, as the short time he had been in office allowed, he did not hesitate to say it could not be reduced below the amount contained in the vote then before him, and which he proposed to put into the hands of the Chairman; it would be for 81,268 men, feeling, as he did, perfectly satisfied that the numerical force of the army 346 could not be reduced below that standard. And here he might take occasion to observe, that it was not intended so much to reduce the number of companies as the number of men in each company. He hoped hon. Members were so well acquainted with the merits of the present discussion as not to render it necessary for him to enter into any lengthened arguments for the purpose of showing that with a smaller number of men it would be impossible for this country to maintain tranquillity in its extended dominions. In every part of those dominions exceedingly severe duties were imposed upon British soldiers, even with the large establishments which we were compelled to keep up. As at present constituted, our army spent by far the greater portion of its time in our foreign possessions; the British soldier was exiled ten years out of every fourteen, and he need scarcely suggest to the Committee the severity with which that must be felt; yet he could assure the House that every effort was made to reduce the garrisons abroad to the lowest possible point. To all the suggestions of the Committee of last year the closest attention had been paid. For all these reasons he did not anticipate any objection to the amount of force proposed. If there should be any objection raised, either to that vote or any other, he was perfectly ready to enter into details, but he felt it perfectly unnecessary to trouble the House with any further preliminary observations, and should therefore move that it was the opinion of that Committee that a number of men, not less than 81,268, be employed as his Majesty's land forces during the year 1835.
§ Sir Samuel Whalley
said, he should be extremely sorry if there were to be no objections to such a vote made by some hon. Members at this side of the House. Not one of the objections which he entertained to the vote was in the least obviated; for, in his opinion, much of what the right hon. Gentleman opposite had said, afforded arguments in favour of reduction rather than in support of the present large amount at which it was intended to maintain a standing army. He felt bound, therefore, to get up for the purpose of entering his solemn protest against the maintenance of a standing army of 81,000 men in time of peace, and he did this the more earnestly when he recollected that one-fourth of that force was employed, not for the purpose of garrisoning our colonies, or protecting 347 the country from foreign invasion, but for the support of a vast Protestant establishment in Ireland. [Cries of "Oh! oh! oh!"] Hon. Members might cry "Oh!" "Ah!" and go through all the letters of the alphabet; but their doing so would not alter the state of the facts. There were 22,000 men for Ireland, and they were not there for the purpose of repressing agrarian disturbance, but for the purpose of assisting the clergy to collect their tithes. As a Member of that House, he felt bound to vote against such a sum for the maintenance of 20,000 tithe proctors: it was, therefore, his full hope and expectation that the numbers would be diminished by 10,000 at the least. Those, he had no hesitation in acknowledging, were his views: nevertheless, he should not do anything to impede the payment of the soldiers now employed, for that was of course indispensable. His chief object in rising was to protest against the maintenance of such an army in time of peace as an act of great criminality. When the House decided the question of the Established Church in Ireland, they would, at the same time, decide the question, whether 8,000,000 of men were to be kept down by a standing army.
§ Colonel Conolly
said, that of all the extravagant assertions which he had ever heard, one of the most extravagant was that which the hon. Gentleman had made—that a standing army was kept up in Ireland to sustain a number of tithe-proctors, when he knew that in the course of last week his Majesty's Government had declared their intention of abolishing tithes and composition for tithes. The hon. Gentleman was, he believed, present on that occasion; and how, with the knowledge of that fact, he could suppose that the people of England, to whom he seemed to appeal, could swallow a statement so totally destitute of foundation—so utterly at variance with the fact, he was at a loss to imagine.
§ Major Beauclerk
said, he should certainly move a reduction in the proposed vote, as he should also have done if the Whig Administration had been in office. He believed that the settlement of the Irish Church Question would leave a large amount of troops at our disposal; for there was now a much larger number employed in Ireland than could be necessary. When he bore in mind the large addition which had been made to the police in Ireland, 348 as also to the police in London, and the contemplated addition in the large towns of England, he was sure the House would agree with him in the expediency of reducing the number by 6,000 or 7,000 men. They had been sent to that House for the purpose of reducing the taxation which oppressed their constituents; it was impossible to keep up large establishments and at the same time reduce taxation: he felt it his duty, therefore, to endeavour to diminish our establishments as much as possible. The mode of reduction which he would suggest for the army, was that of striking off a certain number of cavalry regiments, which were seldom sent abroad except to India, and were only kept up at home for parade and show. He was well aware that it was necessary to have some troops in large towns to guard against riots; but the experience of the disturbances in Paris in 1830 sufficiently showed that for that purpose cavalry were quite inefficient. One regiment of cavalry, it was known, was maintained at double the expense of a regiment of the line. He begged leave to move that the number of land forces for the ensuing year should be reduced to 75,000 men.
§ The Amendment having been put,
§ Sir Henry Parnell
said, that the present question was only one of individual opinion. That of the present Secretary-at-War and the late Secretary-at-War might be in favour of this vote, but he had had opportunities of examining all the documents, and entertaining all the necessary considerations when he was Secretary-at-War, and he had come to the deliberate decision that so great a number of men was not necessary. He had found that 74,000 had sufficed—why then vote 7,000 more now? Had any circumstances arisen to make an increased number necessary? He would undertake to show before a Committee of the whole House, that no such circumstance had arisen. Since 1825 there had been a great increase of force in the country. In 1825, there was no police force in Ireland, there were now 27,000 armed troops, and 8,000 police. There were now 7,000 police in London. Therefore, he said, these were strong facts—facts that ought to carry great weight in the House of Commons—and he hoped that House would not go on voting away such a sum of money till they had some conviction that it was necessary. He was satisfied that there was a universal con- 349 viction throughout the country that the army was too numerous, he, therefore, took that opportunity of saying, it was clear that if the country wished to be relieved from any large amount of its present taxation, that House must look more carefully into those large votes which were passed every Session, and institute a more minute inquiry into the details. He must also tell the constituencies that those who came before them for their votes should not be supported, unless they promised to use their efforts to reduce the taxation of the country by reducing the Army.
§ Sir Charles Dalbiac
declared his intention of supporting the present vote. He did not think that the present strength of the Army could be reduced without injury to the interests of the British empire. He protested against the question involved in the proposed vote being considered a military one. He would, however paradoxical it might appear, appeal to the hon. Members for the city of London, in the confident hope that they would admit this to be, not a military, but a commercial question. The question for the House to consider, in corning to any conclusion on the proposed vote, was, whether the polity, commerce, trade, and manufactures of the country were to be maintained in their present state; and whether it was expedient that we should continue to keep under the control of the Government our colonies and foreign dominions? Believing, as he did, that the number of the forces abroad was no greater than was absolutely necessary to preserve the colonies, and that the number of our troops at home was no more than was absolutely necessary for the protection of property, and the maintenance of the public peace, he was of opinion that any reduction would tend materially to injure the efficiency of the public service.
§ Mr. Charles Buller
could never be induced to take the opinion of a military man with respect to the limit to which reduction might be carried. He was of opinion that there was too large a number of troops kept up in Ireland and in the colonies; and he trusted, that, as it was, he believed, the opinion of the majority of the House, that a reduction in our land forces should take place, the majority on that occasion would be composed, not merely of those strenuous advocates of economy, who sat upon his (Mr. Buller's) side of the House, but that there should 350 be also found amongst the number voting for the amendment of the hon. Member for East Surrey, some of those "inspired" Gentlemen, who, being pledged to a Repeal of the Malt-tax, stated their inability to comply with their promises, on the ground that it was impossible to make such a reduction in the revenue without leaving the necessary expenditure of the country unprovided for. Several hon. Members were ready to prove, that the number of men in the army could be safely diminished. Those hon. Gentlemen, then, who were desirous for a Repeal of the Malt-tax, ought to avail themselves of the opportunity which was then presented of making such a reduction as would enable them to meet part, at least, of the wishes of their constituents.
§ Colonel Chatterton
was convinced, that no reduction beyond that which was effected by the late Government could be safely made in the number of men belonging to the cavalry regiments.
§ Mr. Gillon
observed, that a reduction might be effected if the regiments of guards and cavalry were to go in rotation, to the colonies with the infantry regiments. He was of opinion, that in consequence of the increase in the police force of late years, a diminution in the numbers of those regiments, as well as of the troops stationed in Ireland and the colonies, might be safely effected.
said, that when the number of the police force and marines was taken into consideration, there were more men by 20,000 maintained now, than were required for several years after the peace. The right hon. Gentlemen(Mr. Herries) was bound to give some explanation to show that so large a force was necessary, before the House could consent to allow such a number as that proposed to be voted. He should have felt compelled, by the dictates of his judgment, and in accordance with his duty as a representative, to sanction an amendment calling for a large reduction in the army; but when that moved by the hon. Member for East Surrey, only required a diminution of 6,000 men upon the number proposed to be voted, he (Colonel Evans) could not, for an instant, hesitate to give that proposition his cordial support. He trusted that all those hon. Members who wished to deprive the Government of the means of perpetuating a bad system, would vote for the amendment.
§ General Sharpe
contended, that if we intended to keep up our present dominion, we must keep up our present force, or do that which he supposed the hon. Member for Middlesex would not be willing to consent to—namely, to make a great increase in the "dead weight;" for if they reduced the army by a large number, they must increase the amount of half-pay and superannuation allowances for those men disbanded. Having as great a desire to reduce the expenses of the country, as his hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Westminster, he would still object to the reduction of a single man of our military force, unless there was to be a reduction in the extent of our colonies. Looking at the whole of the case, he did not think he should act honestly if he did not oppose the amendment.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that there was one species of information necessary to be obtained from the Government before the House could form any exact judgment upon the question of the amount of colonial force really required to be kept up. He therefore would ask the right hon. Secretary opposite, whether, if he were to move for an annual list of the number of persons who had died, or who had been put upon the invalid establishment from the colonial service during the last four years, the right hon. Secretary was prepared to furnish the return, for from that document a fair average per centage might be drawn of the number of casualties in the colonial service, and it might be ascertained whether the duties of the military there had, as was alleged, really increased of late years. This was the real method of trying the arguments urged for the maintenance of the present amount of the force, and he would be contented to abide by it; but often as these returns had been asked for, they had never yet been granted.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, that it was by no means either prudent or desirable, that the mortality or the sickness which occurred in the colonies amongst the military forces should be exposed to the public eye; and for that reason he supposed the returns now asked for had never yet been granted. The King's service must be performed, and the publication of such a document might render it a matter of much greater difficulty than it now was, to get men to serve in the colonies, unless the rate of pay was increased in proportion to the danger of the service—a mode of ob- 352 taining men to which no one would more strongly object, than the hon. Member opposite. He must say, that he entirely concurred in what had been said by the hon. and gallant Member (General Sharpe) The hon. and gallant Member for Westminster was a Member of the Committee on Colonial Expenditure, and he ought to be as well aware, as he himself was, that there was not a single case yet brought before the Committee, in which it could be shown that the amount of force maintained exceeded that which was necessary for the safety of each colony.
§ Mr. Hume
asked, why it was, that a much larger military force should be kept up at present than had been considered necessary for several years. Why should we have 5,000 men more in our colonies now, than we had for many years since the peace? Were not some of the colonies overlaid with troops? What was the use of 2,500 men in Nova Scotia, which was perfectly quiet? Why, even in Canada a force was kept up, exceeding in number the whole of the troops maintained by the United States along the full extent of their frontier, on which they had for enemies the native tribes of America; whilst in Canada there were no enemies to look after, or to keep in awe, but only British subjects, who would be well affected, if they were but well treated. Why not call upon the fourteen regiments of cavalry to serve occasionally abroad? Including seamen, marines, artillery, cavalry, and infantry, the country would be burthened with the support of not less than 150,000 men. He would support the amendment of his hon. Friend, though he himself should be disposed to go much farther. One objection to that amendment would not have been made, if hon. Members had voted for the reduction of the malt-tax. If that reduction in taxation to the amount of 5,000,000l. had been made, there was no doubt that a much larger reduction in the number of troops than that now sought for would have been given without asking. Why were they to have more military in England now, than in the years from 1819 to 1822 inclusive? The regular police was equivalent to at least 10,000 military. He would beg to ask the right hon. Baronet to state some reason why we should now have so large a military force, when we had a police force which rendered the intervention of military force so much less necessary in the metropolis. What 353 circumstances existed in the internal state of the country, or in our foreign relations, which required such a large military establishment as that now proposed in time of peace? If he looked at home, or to our colonies, he saw nothing in them which called for such a force as was now proposed. The colonies ought to be made, as they were well able, to support the troops required for their defence. In Ireland, before the French war, there never were more than 9,000 troops; and, if the tithe question were once settled, 12,000 or 13,000 men would be amply sufficient there. An army was now kept up there principally to maintain a system of exaction. The country presented the appearance of a garrison. With respect to the colonies, he believed, that with judicious management, the mortality of the troops there might be greatly diminished. All the reduction now asked for was merely a cessation of recruiting.
§ Mr. Herries
said, that the right hon. Member for Dundee should have favoured the House with the grounds which had induced him, when in office, to form the opinion that a very large reduction of the forces was practicable. He had not stated those grounds, and other right hon. Gentlemen who had possessed the same opportunities as himself of inquiring into the subject, had not been able to arrive at the same conclusion. The right hon. Gentlemen who succeeded him as Secretary of War, were surely not less anxious to make every possible reduction in the expenses of the public service, and yet neither the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. C. Hobhouse), nor the right hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice) had ever introduced any proposition of the kind. The only reason (if such it could be called) which had been put forward by the right hon. Member for Dundee, was, that some years ago, the amount of forces was less than at present. Now he would go back as far as 1818, and then he found that the number of men was 94,847, being fourteen thousand more than the vote for the ensuing year. In 1819, the number was 92,000, and in 1820, 92,224. In 1821, it was reduced to 81,000. In the subsequent years 1823, 1824, and 1825, the amount was considerably reduced. If these were the years to which the right hon. Member for Dundee referred as a standard for trying what proportion of numbers should he voted, he would beg 354 to ask him, whether the experiment of that extreme reduction was not a total failure? It was notorious that the experiment of diminishing the army, which was pressed upon the Government by the hon. Member for Middlesex, caused an increase of expense to the country, inasmuch as it was absolutely necessary, after a trial of two years, to re-establish the previous number of men. Here was a fact which was superior to any argument the hon. Member could produce. But the hon. Member was fond of referring to the establishment kept up in 1792. He would take that year, and compare the amount of force for the colonies as compared with that of the present year. In 1792, in all the colonies which we then possessed, and which we still possessed, the number of troops kept up was 15,100 men, and in the same colonies, at the present day, we had 16,687 men—a small excess, considering the increased importance of some of our colonies since; but in New South Wales—a colony which increased immensely in its population, its commerce, and its importance to the mother-country, there had been an increase of 1,500; and if they deducted this from the 16,685, it would leave only a very small difference between the number in our colonies in 1792, and those of the present time. Every year since the peace, the Government had tried to reduce the expense down to the minimum which might be consistent with the efficiency of the public service, and he was fully convinced that the proposed force of the present year was not more than the service required.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
said, Gentlemen on the other side were Englishmen contending for the power of their country: he was an Irishman, contending for the liberties of his country. If they went to the history of Ireland, they would find that, at the very time when they were afraid of doing what they did now, they had only 4,000 men in Ireland. In Lord Townshend's governvernment in 1782,4,000 men had been found sufficient to bear alone the whole burden of the management of Ireland—so that they reduced the army to 4,000. And in 1792, it was one of the charges brought against the Duke of Portland, that he had left Ireland with 4,000 men. And why could not they govern Ireland with 4,000 men now? ["Oh! Oh."] Hon. Gentlemen might say, "Oh," as they had frequently done before, but 355 that was not the proper way of answering an argument. Whenever a man went to Ireland, whether it were to elections, or tithe-gathering, in town or country, he was sure to meet soldiers, and nothing but soldiers. There was at that moment a larger force in Ireland, than they had in India: for in Ireland there were 22,000 troops, 7,000 police, 2,000 city of Dublin armed forces, and 500 militia, making, in the whole, 31,500. And why was that? Because they had lost the affections of the people. They had not only got a military, but a police force, which was worse: the pay of a policeman was 1s. 8d.: of a soldier 1s. The police force cost 300,000l.—while they could keep up 1,000 troops for 30.000l. He humbly submitted, therefore, that Government would be obliged to reduce—for it was impossible to apply such long-exploded principles to Ireland. If hon. Gentlemen wished to reduce the Window-tax and the Malt-tax, let them reduce the army: and if they reduced the army, they must conciliate the people of Ireland.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment: Ayes 101; Noes 255—Majority 154.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Evans, Colonel|
|Bagshaw, J.||Ewart, W.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Ferguson, Robert|
|Barron, W.||Fergus, J.|
|Barry, G. S.||Fielden, J.|
|Bewes, T.||Finn, W. F.|
|Biddulph, M.||Gaskell, D.|
|Blake, M. J.||Grattan, H.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Grattan, J.|
|Bowes, John||Grote, G.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Hall, B.|
|Brady, D. C.||Hawes, B.|
|Bridgeman, H.||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Brocklehurst, John||Hector, C. J.|
|Brodie, W. B.||Hindley, C.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Bulwer, H. L.||Hodges, T.|
|Buller, C.||Hutt, W.|
|Butler, Hon. Col,||Hume, Joseph|
|Chalmers, S.||Kemp, T. R.|
|Chichester, J. P. B.||Kennedy, James|
|Clay, W.||King, Bolton|
|Collier, J.||Lister, C.|
|Conyngham, Lord A.||M'Cance, J.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Mangles, J.|
|Divett, E.||Marshall, W.|
|Dennistoun, Alex.||Marsland, H.|
|Duncombe, T. S.||Mullins, F. W.|
|Dykes, F. L. B.||Musgrave, Sir R.|
|Etwall, R.||O'Brien, C.|
|Euston, Lord||O'Connell, J.|
|Evans, G.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|O'Connell, M.||Stewart, R.|
|O'Connor, Don.||Strutt, E.|
|O'Dwyer, A. C.||Tancred, H. W.|
|O'Loghlen, Mr.||Thornley, T.|
|Oswald, J.||Tooke, W.|
|Palmer, General||Trelawney, Sir W.|
|Parrott, J.||Troubridge, Sir T.|
|Parnell, Sir H.||Tulk, C. A.|
|Pattison, J.||Villiers, C. P.|
|Pease, J.||Wakley, T.|
|Phillips, M.||Wallace, R.|
|Potter, R.||Warburton, H.|
|Roche, W.||Whalley, Sir S.|
|Ronayne, D.||Williams, Sir J.|
|Rundle, J.||Williams, W.|
|Ruthven, E. S.||Wood, Alderman|
|Scholefield, J.||Beauclerk, Major|
|Spiers, A. G.|
§ On the question that 2,978,528l. 6s. 7d. be granted to his Majesty, to defray the charge of the Land Forces (exclusive of India) for the year ending 31st March, 1836,
§ Lord Albert Conyngham
said, I must beg to call the attention of the House to this item, which I think ought to be satisfactorily explained to us. On referring to the Army Estimates laid before the House, it will be found that the sums expended on each of the two regiments of Life Guards exceeded that appropriated to the regiment of Horse Guards by 3,451 l.9s.l0d., although all three regiments are upon precisely the same footing as to numbers, both of men and horses. Now, Sir, the manner in which this extra expenditure is employed, is as follows.—Each private of the two regiments of Life Guards has 3d. a day more pay allowed him, than a private in the Horse Guards, although in the three regiments the men have precisely the same duties to perform, and although the recruit of the Life Guards is provided with a kit of necessaries, gratis, on entering the service, and is given a stable-jacket yearly, all of which the private of the Horse Guards has stopped out of his pay. The height of the men in the three regiments is, I believe, the same—nay, I believe that by examination of the regimental returns, it will be found that the privates in the Horse Guards average greater height than those in either of the other regiments—therefore the increase of pay cannot be granted upon the plea of the superior stature of the men; and I contend that the sum of 1,839l. 3s. of the public money is unnecessarily expended annually upon each of the two regiments of Life 357 Guards in pay alone. In the Life Guards, 1,600l. 17s. is expended in each regiment upon the clothing, beyond that of the Horse Guards, making a difference of very nearly 4l. per man annually; and although it may be said that there is a difference in the prices and in the wearing of scarlet and of blue cloth, yet 4l. per man extra clothing money, appears an enormous charge. Now, Sir, in 1830, when the officers of the Blues had their pay reduced to the same scale as that of the Life Guards, I understood that it was intended that the three regiments of the Household Brigade should be placed on the same footing; but this, Sir, has never been acted up to, and I confess that I think we ought to pause before we grant the sum of 87,308l. 2s. to be applied to the Household Brigade; and unless we receive some intimation that this unnecessary expenditure shall be diminished as each new recruit enters the Life Guards, I shall move that the sum of 6,902l. 19s. 8d. shall be taken off from the vote laid before the House.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment: Ayes 57; Noes 229—Majority 172.
§ Original Resolution agreed to.
§ On the Resolution tli3t 77,434l. 0s. 10d. be granted for the purpose of defraying the allowances to the principal officers of the public departments from the 1st of April, 1835, to the 1st of April, 1836,
§ Mr. Hume
thought that one-half of this grant might be saved; but would content himself for the present, by moving a reduction of 11,989l. being the amount of the expenses incurred in the Adjutant-General and the Quarter-Master-General's office, of which the former amounted to 6,429l., and the latter to 5,560l.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 43; Noes 196—Majority 153.
§ The original Motion agreed to.
§ Several other votes were agreed to, and the House resumed.