HC Deb 12 April 1836 vol 32 cc917-21

On bringing up the report of the Committee of Supply,

Mr. Hume

took the opportunity of protesting against the whole system of the Ordnance Establishment. The Ordnance estimates amount to the sum of l,463,449l., but they include, for the Commissariat, a vote of 141,417l., which is to be deducted, because that sum is expended by the Treasury, and is not in any other way involved in the Ordnance accounts. The money, therefore, that is wanted for the use of the Ordnance is 1,322,032l. And the analysis of the estimates, which he would read, would better show what this money was required for, than the complicated and greatly involved printed estimates of the Ordnance. The hon. Member accordingly read the following statement:—

1. For the pay and expenses of the whole of the Artillery and Engineer Forces, except the cost of their clothing, which is included in the vote for the general provision of stores, viz.:—
Pay of artillery, engineers, &c. (including agency) £369,632
Extra pay and allowances to commanding officers, adjutants, &c. 1,773
Pay of medical establishments 10,129
Allowance to civil surgeons 728
Medicines, wines, &c, for artillery hospitals 2,109
Recruiting expenses 2,000
Purchase of horses 3,340
Sundry expenses, under the head of allowance for beer, hire of carriages, travelling and passage-money, allowance to messes of regiments, for wine, &c; 22,991
2. For repairs of fortifications, including all expenses of management, viz.:—
Ordnance works and repairs £66,641
Extra pay to engineers for superintending them 12,337
Pay of clerks of works, &c. 16,903
3. Barrack department, including all expenses of management, viz.:—
Buildings and repairs of barrack (infantry, cavalry, and artillery) £121,526
Extra pay to engineers superintending them 12,337
Pay of clerks of works, &c. 16,903
Barrack masters' expenditure, supposed to be for fuel for troops generally 51,441
Pay to barrack masters and barrack Serjeants 40,445
Barrack law expenses, travelling expenses, advertisements, &c. 2,380
Rents in Great Britain, Ireland, and abroad 7,101
Purchase of lands, &c. 5,000
4. Survey of counties 53,000
5. Miscellaneous expenses, viz.:—
Bronzing arms 1,768
Advertisements, travelling expenses, passage money, &c. 9,512
Alterations of store-houses at Tower £3,005
General law expenses 2,250
Postages 2,400
Allowance to two draftsmen for plans, &c. 500
6. For the computed cost of all the stores that will be required for twelve months—viz.:
Provision for the purchase of stores Ordnance stores £60,000 110,780
Bedding 16,00
Gt. coats 15,00
Artillery clothing 19,780
Packing and freight of stores 4,000
7. For boards' salaries for general superintendence 9,000
8. Clerks' salaries for checking, deliveries of stores, and keeping and examining accounts-viz.:-
Clerks' salaries-Pall-mall, Tower, and Dublin 58,096
Clerks' allowance for rent, &c, and for coals and candles 1,567
Clerk in Store Department at Woolwich 8,181
Clerks' allowance for making inventories 763
Clerks' salaries at out stations England £13,890 41,668
Ireland 2,152
Abroad 25,626 110,295
9. For superannuations, viz.:—
Clerks' superannuations 62,939
Military ditto 96,678
10. For pay of labourers and artificers, viz.-
At the Tower and Woolwich 28,237
Home stations in England 23,100
In Ireland and abroad 24,694
Crew of vessels employed in removing powder 1,746
Total £1,322,032
Add Commissariat expenditure 141,417
Total £1,463,449
After having called the attention of the House to each of these heads of expenditure, the hon. Gentleman went on to contend, that all, with the exception perhaps of the charge for the survey of counties, upon which he had nothing to say, might, under proper management, be materially reduced. He complained especially of the charge for extra pay and allowances for commanding officers, adjutants, &c, in the Engineer and Artillery department, and of the extra pay to Engineers for superintending the repairs of fortifications. The charge for Ordnance works and repairs amounted to 66,641l.; the extra pay to Engineers, for superintending these works amounted to 12,337l., being a charge of not less than 18½ per cent. upon the whole cost of the works. But the most prodigal expenditure of which he complained did not cease here, for in the next item he found a charge of not less than 16,903l. for the clerks of works, &c, being at the enormous rate of 25 per cent. on the whole cost of the works. Thus it would be seen that the expense of superintending, managing, and conducting the works and repairs going on in the Ordnance department amounted altogether to not less than 43 2–5ths per cent on the whole cost of those works and repairs. Of this be thought there was great reason to complain. In the barrack department, again, the extra pay to engineers and clerks of works amounted to 29,240l., being at the rate of 24 per cent. on the whole cost of the works for the prosecution of which a vote of 121,526l. had been taken. Then there was a charge of 110,295l. for the salaries of clerks, who were merely employed to check the delivery of stores, and to keep and examine accounts. He had no hesitation in saying, that, under a proper system of management, the amount of this charge might be reduced by at least two-thirds. He, indeed, had always been of opinion that the store department of the Ordnance ought to be abolished, because he was satisfied that there were no stores necessary which could not much better be supplied, as they were wanted, by contract. On the whole, he regretted that the Government, having had a whole year to consider of the matter, had not carried their reductions further.

Sir A. Leith Hay

said, it appeared to him that the view of the hon. Member for Middlesex was founded on calculations which he believed to be very incorrect, and if brought forward in practice would not be at all beneficial to the public service. The observations of the hon. Member respecting the Engineer corps were strikingly inconsistent. On the one hand, he complained they were parsimoniously and badly treated, and on the other of the amount of expenditure lavished on the department. Under all the circumstances of the country, the Ministers had brought forward estimates with the strictest regard to efficiency and economy. Disposed as he was to admit the good intentions and the zeal of the hon. Member for Middlesex, he was on the present occasion obliged to question both the judicious tendency and the correctness of his observations.

Colonel Anson

questioned the propriety of the suggestion of the hon. Member for Middlesex for getting rid altogether of the accumulation of stores. He was happy, however, to find that one channel had been opened to that end in the outlet which Spain presented, and hoped that the hon. Member's support would be obtained to render the remainder more effective by the application of a small vote in furtherance of the adaptation of the percussion principle to the small arms at present in the stores.

Report brought up and agreed to.