§ The House resolved itself into a Committee of Supply.
§ Viscount Howick
said, that in moving the Estimates for the army services for the present year, he felt it necessary for him to detain the House but a very short time, while he stated what propositions he had to make for the support of the force which the Government considered necessary to be kept on foot. The Estimates were precisely the same as those submitted to the House last year, and the amount of expense to be incurred was unaltered. When he said this, he must mention what some hon. Members were aware of, that three companies of mounted riflemen, and two provisional battalions of infantry, had been raised, for the temporary service of his Majesty at the Gape of Good Hope, and the charge for these troops was not included, since under the circumstances, he had considered it better, instead of adding the charge for the maintenance of this force to the regular Estimates of the year, the force being raised for a temporary purpose, to make a supplimentary Estimate for that charge. He did not think it necessary to make any statement at that moment explanatory of the reasons which had induced his Majes- 211 ty's Government to recommend to the House the continuance of (his force; for, as the hon. Member for Middlesex had given notice of a motion for reducing the army by 5,000 men, he should be ready, when that motion was made, to state the reasons. The only things to which he had at present to call the attention of the House were seemingly trifling. There was a small increase in the number of officers. The officers of the Royal African Corps were not sufficiently numerous to carry on the service on which they were employed, for such were the casualties and accidents to which the officers of that corps were peculiarly subjected, that it was absolutely necessary to make a small increase in the number of its officers. It was also found necessary to increase the number of officers in the 1st. West-India Regiment, and in the number of men in the 1st. and 2d. West-India Regiments. Another point was the reduction of the establishment at the War-office. When he came into office he found the right hon. Gentleman opposite had thought it his duty to propose a reduction, and when he came to consider the subject, he fully concurred in the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman. He had effected this reduction, and the House would find that the whole number of clerks in the office was, in 1832, sixty-four, while now there were but fifty-one; and by this a saving had been effected of 4,810l. He had before him a return which showed the whole number of clerks employed in, and the expenses of, the War-office, in the several years from 1815 down to 1832, and which also showed those clerks who are now engaged in other offices, and particularly from the Account-office in Ireland, and who were there engaged in the management of business, since wholly transferred to the War-office. From that return it appeared, that in the year 1815 the total number of clerks employed in the military department was 254, of whom 170 were engaged in the War-office alone. The whole were at a charge to the country of 71,245l. In 1820 the whole number was reduced to 171, of whom in the War-office were 133, and the total charge was about 53,000l. Without troubling the House with a detail of the reductions in subsequent years, he would only state that in February last the whole number of persons employed in transacting the duties of this department, which twenty years ago oc- 212 cupied 215 persons, was only fifty-one, and the charge of the expenses of the War-office alone was reduced from 71,245l. to 27,603l. In making this statement, of course he did not claim the least credit to himself; but it was necessary that he should mention the reduction which had taken place, as he should by and by have to ask the Committee to grant the superannuation allowances to those who had now retired from the War-office, and to which those gentlemen were entitled for the zeal amiability they had displayed in the management of the business intrusted to their care. As to the Estimates which related to the non-effective service, he had only to report, that a gradual reduction, which might have been hoped for by the prolongation of peace, had occurred. The Committee would remember that last year he had obtained a vote of 7,600l. for the purpose of affording an increase of pay to general officers receiving emoluments less than 400l. per annum. That expense had been covered by casualties which had taken place, and the present Estimates had in this respect been brought to their former state. Now, the general result of the present estimates was, that there was a diminution (erroneously stated in the Estimates at 96,536l.) in reality of 93,012l. He must mention that an alteration had been effected this year in the mode of dealing with the extraordinary Estimates, with regard to which his right hon. Friend, now the President of the Board of Control, had, at the time he filled the office of Secretary-at-War, entered into a correspondence with the Treasury. No arrangement was, however, come to until the spring of last year, when a minute passed the Treasury Board, directing that a separation should, as far as was practicable, be made in these branches of the Estimates. Hitherto several of the services, strictly of an ordinary nature, and forming part of the regular expenses of the army, had been entirely defrayed out of the army extra ordinaries. Of these he might mention, the expenses of provisions, & or troops serving in the colonies formed part. This expense was a charge capable of being previously estimated, and it had therefore been brought forward this year as a part of the ordinary Army Estimates, though the account could not be stated as correctly as he had wished, because these costs had formerly been defrayed, partly by the Commissary department, and 213 partly out of the Navy Estimates. Under such circumstances it was impossible to state correctly the amount required; and all that at present could be done was to take a vote for a sum on account for this branch of the service. In another year the vote would be capable of being reduced to a strict matter of account. In the same manner there had been transferred to the present Estimates the pay of military labourers 7,500l., and the pensions of discharged negro soldiers, making a total of 173,088l., which would account for the increase of the sum to be voted this year over the vote passed last year, though there was, in reality, a diminution of 93,012l. The Committee would also perceive that the old system of the division of the English and Irish army pay establishments had been done away with, and as no division of the accounts was made, the fullest information was afforded. These were the only circumstances that in the first instance it was necessary he should state to the Committee. So far ns any explanation might be required in the further progress of the discussion, he should be happy to afford it. In the mean time, he should content himself by moving that the number of land forces (excepting India) be 81,319 men.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that the noble Lord who had just sat down had taken it for granted, that whatever had been voted last year was to be voted on the present occasion, without any information being afforded as to the necessity of the maintenance of so large a military establishment as had been proposed. He regretted to see so little interest manifested by hon. Members (as was shown by the present state of the House) when they were called on to vote away the public money. He contended, that one of the principal vices of the Government of this country was the extent of its military establishment, by which a military spirit, not existing during the war, was encouraged, and everything was now done by a military force, instead of relying upon the civil power, which ought to be the ease in times of peace. He wanted to know upon what grounds a liberal Government should keep up a military establishment, exceeding by 10,000 or 12,000 men, that maintained by extravagant Tory Governments. He had looked to former Estimates, and he found the following to be the state of the military force during the existence of Tory admi- 214 nistrations:—In 1822, the number of men voted was 68,000 men; in 1823, 69,000 men; in 1824, 73,000 men; and in 1825, a year declared by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer (now Lord Ripon) to have been so prosperous that he had not language to describe it, the military establishment was raised to 86,000 men. In 1828 the number of men voted was 90,000, and in 1829 the number was reduced to 89,000 men, and in about that state it had been left for the last four years. Now, he would appeal to the present Liberal Reform Ministers, who had always on the other side of the House advocated a reduction of the expenditure of the country, whether there really existed any grounds of justification for the maintenance of so large a military force? Where, he begged to ask, was the necessity for keeping so large a military force in Ireland? He had voted for the grant of the million of money to the sinecure church of that country, in the hope that peace might be established, and that consequently a military force would not be necessary there, and in the end a saving would be effected. He regretted, however, to say, that he saw no disposition on the part of the Government to do this—the million had been paid, and the military force still remained the same, though it had been stated by the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, the other night, that that country was never in a greater state of peace and tranquillity. That statement was uncontradicted at the time it was made, and he took it for granted to be correct. Under such circumstances he begged to ask his Majesty's Ministers why they were not prepared to reduce the number of troops in that country? Why was it necessary to keep up there a military establishment of between 23,000 and 24,000 men, when, according to these statements of peace and tranquillity, the civil and constabulary force, amounting to about 5,000 men, ought to be sufficient for all purposes? The navy had been increased by 5,000 men, and he submitted to the noble Lord that the Government was now in a condition to make a considerable reduction in the military force of the country. It was said that military strength was required in the colonies. He had looked over the list, however, and he could find no one instance except the Cape of Good Hope, of any disturbances having taken place. It was in vain to think of a reduction in the expenditure of the country until 215 there was first made a reduction in the establishments, and with these views he should move as an amendment upon the motion of the noble Lord, that the number proposed be reduced by 5,000 men.
§ Sir Stratford Canning
thought the reduction proposed would not be consistent with the efficiency of the public service. His object, however, in rising, was to call the attention of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department, to a subject of great importance. He had intended to take that opportunity of entering into some statements with regard to our foreign relations, but as he understood that it would be more convenient to bring the subject forward at some future opportunity, he gave notice that he would, on the first day that the House went into a Committee of Supply, call the attention of the House to the subject.
§ Captain Boldero
could not agree with the hon. Member for Middlesex to vote for a reduction of the army. If ever some increase of the military force was necessary it was at the present time. Look at the state of Russia. Look at France, with an army of 360,000 men. If the hon. Member had proposed to reduce the expenditure instead of the men, he would have agreed with him, because the expenditure for the colonies was extremely heavy, and many of the colonies were able to contribute to the support of the troops. He would begin with Gibraltar, which, as the population was small, could not contribute much; but the place was impregnable, and he, therefore, could see no necessity for keeping a force there which cost us from 120,000l. to 200,000l. a-year. Malta was equally strong, and had never been taken but through treachery. The total revenue of that country was 105,000l.; 61,000l. of which was expended on the maintenance of civil establishments; but a portion of it he thought should be set apart for the payment of the military, for which Great Britain had to contribute nearly 100,000l. a-year. The revenue of the Ionian Islands in 1834 was nearly 200,000l. and of that 40,000l. was contributed for the payment of the troops, while Great Britain had to add to that 80,000l. a-year. Not one-fourth of the revenues of Canada and Halifax was applied to the support of the military. At the proper time he would have some observations to make on the military college, which was set down in the estimates at 17,000l. The civil establishment of Chel- 216 sea cost 28,000l., while the military, consisting of 529 pensioners, cost only 16,000l. He wished to know whether there was any intention of forming the pensioners into veteran battalions?
§ Dr. Bomring hoped, when the colonial system came under consideration, that the House would have the valuable assistance of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just spoken. But he could not say that the hon. Member had made out a case against the proposition of his hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex. The increase of the French army was, in his opinion, one reason why we might more safely diminish ours; because, any addition to the strength of our allies was, in reality, an addition to our own. The friendly understanding between the two countries was now established on a basis not likely soon to be broken; and the present being a time of peace, furnished the best opportunity for accomplishing the most effective reforms in our military, as well as in our other establishments. There was one circumstance connected with the army of France, from which we might derive a useful hint. It was not a little curious, notwithstanding cloth for soldiers' clothing was much cheaper in this country than it is in France, that the army of France should cost only 24s., each man, on the average, while that of England cost 47s.. each: the cause of this inordinate difference in the expense of clothing ought to be immediately ascertained and corrected. There was an item in the estimates, called "agency," not to be found in those of foreign countries. But the War-Office might undertake its own concerns, without calling upon the public to pay 4,857l. from year to year, for the transaction of certain business between it and the different departments of the army. Whilst making these objections, he could not help expressing his satisfaction at the improved and more intelligible manner in which the army estimates were this year laid before the House. A strong case, however, for the reduction of 5,000 men had been made out by his hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex. The army might safely be diminished to that amount, and by such reduction England would afford a testimony to the world, that she really confided in the permanency of that peace, which subsisted between this nation and the Continental Powers; and no stronger evidence could be furnished of 217 his confidence than by consenting to the Motion now before the House.
§ Colonel Perceval
must contradict the statement of the hon. Member for Middle sex, that Ireland was in a tranquil state. He distinctly denied it. On the very same night, on which it was stated by a noble Lord in another place, that Ireland was tranquil, there were on the county of Tipperary calendar fifty-nine cases of murder fifteen of firing at with intent to murder, together with the usual proportion of riots, robberies, rapes, and burglaries. This county was said, however, to be remark able for tranquillity. Recently, however, it was proposed by some individuals that a meeting should be convened for the purpose of addressing the Lord Lieutenant. The gentlemen of the county did not think it worth while to notice it, and when asked the reason, requested that those who wished to congratulate the Lord Lieutenant on the peace of the county, would attend the petty sessions, and they would see that the state of things was very different. In fact, Ireland was never in so disturbed a state since 1798 as it was now. Let any person go through the Queen's County, the King's County, and the county of Carlow, and he would see how groundless was the assertion of the Member for Middlesex.
did not think circum stances would admit of the proposed reduction. Formerly English regiments were left in the colonies for ten years.— Now the term of service there was only five. The Committee which sat upon the subject of the colonies did not recommend a reduction of men, but of the term of service. The regiments serving in the East Indies were not relieved for twenty years. For these reasons alone he should think it unadvisable to make any reduction.
§ Mr. Finn, in consequence of what the hon. and gallant Member for Sligo (Col. Perceval) had said as to the state of Ire land, must deny that Carlow and Queen's County were so disturbed as he had represented, notwithstanding the state of poverty into which the inhabitants had been plunged.
§ Major Beauclerk
agreed with the right hon. Member for Middlesex, that there ought to be reduction in the military force, but thought that the reduction might more advantageously be made in the cavalry than in the infantry.
§ Sir Charles Dalbiac
was glad to find that the hon. Member for Middlesex had 218 become more moderate in his propositions to reduce. He had come down from a proposition last year to save one million by doing away with the troops in Ireland, to his present proposition, which could not effect a saving of more than 150,000l.— He was opposed to the reduction, for he thought that if this country desired to maintain her dignity at home and abroad, a sufficient military force must be kept up.
§ Viscount Howick
observed, that the hon. Member for Middlesex had charged the Government with showing no reasons for not reducing the army, but the hon. Member himself had shown no reasons for the reduction, or, at all events, the only reason he did show was of a most extraordinary character, namely, that we should reduce the army because we had increased the navy. With respect to some of the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member, he wished to say one word for himself. He had sat with the hon. Member on that side as well as on the other side of the House, and he doubted much, if the hon. Member could find his name in any one division that ever took place for the reduction of the army, because he had felt satisfied that the severity of the colonial service was so great that it was actually impossible to reduce the army. In all the colonies in the year 1792, a year the hon. Member was so fond of referring to, the number of our rank and file was 15,100; at present they amounted to 16,687; being an apparent increase of 1,600. At that period, in New South Wales, the number of soldiers was 420, while now there was 1,970. The occupied portion of New South Wales was as large as Ireland, and, filled, as it were, with the most desperate characters from this country, it absolutely was necessary to enlarge the forces to their present amount. If they were to expect any reduction in the army, it was in the colonies that reduction was to take place; and when hereafter alterations should take place in the Cape of Good Hope, and when the Bill of last Session for the Abolition of Slavery in the West Indies shall have been carried into full effect, then indeed a diminution might be found practicable. The proportion of our home to our colonial forces was 62 men at home to every 100 abroad.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that his reason for pro posing the reduction, consisted in the fact, that we were now employing a large police force for the maintenance of peace in 219 cities and towns, thus doing away with the necessity for an equally large military force. He thought, too, that England was a civil, not a military, country, and wished to see an end put to that vicious system which had arisen out of our late wars, the maintenance of a preposterously large military force during peace. No real friend of the Government wished them to keep up such a force or increase it. The Tories might. They were consistent men attached by system to large establishments and great expense, but no one who wished well to the Government would support them in wishing to enlarge the present unnecessary force or to maintain it without diminution. He thought that not merely 5,000 but 15,000 men might be saved; and as to Ireland, he thought that putting clown the Orange Lodges would do much to render the presence of the military unnecessary.
§ The Committee divided on the Amendment:—
§ Ayes 43; Noes 126—Majority 83.
|List of the AYES (Not Official).|
|Aglionby, H.||Pease, J.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Philips, M.|
|Beauclerk, A. W.||Potter, R.|
|Blamire, W.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Rundle, J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Scholefield, J.|
|Buckingham, J. S.||Sheldon, E. R. C.|
|Butler, Col.||Strutt, E.|
|Chalmers, P.||Stuart, Villiers|
|Collier, T.||Thompson, T. P.|
|Elphinstone, H.||Thorneley, T.|
|Ewart, W.||Trelawney, Sir W.|
|Fielden, J.||Tulk, C. A.|
|Finn, W. F.||Turner, W.|
|Grote, G.||Wakley, T.|
|Gully, J.||Warburton, H.|
|Leader, J. T.||Wason, R.|
|Lister, E. C.||Williams, Sir J.|
|Lushington, C.||Wood, Alderman|
|Marsland, H.||Villiers, C.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Hume, J.|
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ On the motion, that the sum of 38,528l. 6s. 8d. be granted to his Majesty to defray the charge of the land forces.
§ Sir William Molesworth
was sorry that the motion of his hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex, had not been acceded to; for then he should have contented himself with moving, that the Foot-guards should be the 5,000 men to be disbanded. He considered those regiments to be a great abuse on account of the privileges which 220 they possessed over the troops of the Line. Amongst these privileges there was one of receiving a larger amount of pay for fewer and less important services than the other regiments of Infantry. He intended to move such a reduction in the pay of the officers of the Foot-guards, as would make it equal to that of the officers of the Line; at the same time, in order that he might not be accused of attempting to deprive meritorious individuals now in this branch of the service, of their fixed and well-founded expectations, he must state that if his motion were carried, he should, in the debate on a subsequent portion of the Estimates, move compensation to the officers. The effect of his motion would be to do evil to no individual, but to put the pay of all future officers of the Foot-Guards on the same footing as the pay of officers of regiments of the Line, to effect a large saving to the country, and to strike off the unfair privileges of the Guards. He was inclined to think that the House was but little aware of the amount and value of those privileges, which the officers of the Line considered to be unjust. He would, therefore, briefly state them. The first privilege which the Foot-guards possessed over the regiments of the Line was with regard to station. Of the seven regiments, or battalions of Guards, five of them are always in London; one at Windsor; and one in Dublin. Compare this with the stations of the troops of the Line. Seventy-five regiments are in the colonies; fifty of these are in countries within the tropics, or beyond the Cape; and only twenty-five are serving in what may be termed good or temperate climates;—namely, the Mediterranean and North America. Sir William Gordon, on being asked, by a Committee appointed by this House, "Whether thirty-three years is the average period for remaining abroad," replied "Yes, taking the East-Indies as a part of the service, whilst the average period of service at home is only about five years." Of the twenty-eight regiments at home, nineteen are in Ireland; where, till lately, they were employed in the distraining for tithes. Even now they were called out to witness scenes of outrage— to be present at burning of stacks, and the destruction of property—to take part in scenes which must be distressing to their feelings as men, and abhorrent to their ideas of duty as soldiers, so much so that officers generally preferred the unhealthy climate of the West Indies to remaining 221 in Ireland. The effect of the privilege, with regard to station, was signally shown by the proportion of deaths amongst the officers of the Line, and amongst those of the Guards. There were more than three times as many officers of the Line died in proportion to their whole number, than officers of the Foot-guards. From 1828 to 1835, of 206 officers of the Guards, only eleven died, being in the proportion of not quite one in nineteen—whilst out of 3,752 officers of the Line, 658 died, being more than one-sixth. Thus, in effecting a life insurance, an annuity on the life of an officer in the Guards was worth an annuity on the lives of three officers of the Line, generally; and if the regiments in India, only, or specifically were taken, then the life of an officer in the Guards was worth eight of officers of the Line in that country. This, to be sure, was a most salutary privilege, on the part of those who were so fortunate as to possess it—a privilege resulting solely from station. What had the Guards done to merit this most valuable and exclusive privilege? If the Guards were part and portion of the army, why should they not share in all the toils and dangers of the military service, and be rewarded in proportion; if they were not a part and portion of the army—if they were only a sort of royal police, decorated with military costume—surely it was most unjust to the officers of the army, generally, to bestow upon these men those honours and emoluments of military service of which they had appropriated to themselves the largest share, in virtue of the unjust privileges which they derived and possessed from their rank. This privilege of station was the most obnoxious one of all—a privilege unjust to the rest of the army—unjust to the public; and which the officers of the Line considered as the greatest possible grievance. The House was aware that in the Foot-guards the ensign had the army rank of lieutenant, the lieutenant that of captain, the captain that of lieutenant colonel, and the major that of colonel. Thus the lieutenant, on becoming captain, passes over all the captains senior to him in the service, passes over all the majors in the army, and attains that rank, viz. lieutenant-colonel, after which almost all promotion is by seniority; if he remain in the Guards, on becoming regimental major he passes over all the lieutenant 222 colonels senior to him and attains the rank of colonel. The effect of this privilege is, that the Guards supply nearly the same number of general-officers to the army as the whole of the regiments of the Line. Now, the seven battalions of the Guards were in number about 5,200 men. In these Estimates he found there belonged to these regiments no less than sixty-eight officers who had the army rank of colonel and lieutenant-colonel, whilst the 106 battalions of the Line, amounting to 92,000 men, about eighteen times the number of the Guards, had only 126 colonels. It was difficult accurately to ascertain the number of general officers who had come from the Guards, on account of the interchanges between the Guards and the Line; for when a captain of the Guards interchanged with a lieutenant-colonel on the half-pay of a regiment of the Line, he appeared on the Army List as belonging to the half-pay of that regiment, though, perhaps, he had never seen that regiment—though, perhaps, he has never done one hour's service with that regiment during the whole course of his life. The following transaction some times took place, when a lieutenant in the Guards, who had wealth and interest, was desirous of becoming a lieutenant colonel in the army, he induced a captain in his regiment to retire in his favour; perhaps, however, the captain was unwilling entirely to quit the army. He, therefore, exchanged with some lieutenant-colonel on the half-pay of the Line, who was willing to realize his money. The lieutenant-colonel, in this case, never joined the Guards, but was gazetted, as having sold his company to the said lieutenant. The consequence of this jobbing transaction, was to transfer an annuity from an old and worn-out life to a young life, to promote the lieutenant over the heads of all his senior captains and all the majors in the army—to exalt a youthful scion of the aristocracy over grey headed and worn-out veterans. But here the transaction did not always terminate. Probably the late captain in the Guards, now a lieutenant-colonel on the half-pay of the Line, possessed influence, he then quickly obtained the command of a regiment; and thus, without having seen any service, he filled the station and enjoyed the emolument which ought to be the reward of an officer who had really served his country. The following case (the par- 223 ticulars of which he had taken care to ascertain to be correct) illustrated his position. Some years ago, a captain in the Foot-guards, known to be in a state of pecuniary embarrassment, exchanged to half-pay;—securing, of course, a large sum from the person who was appointed in his place. Not long after, he was put on full-pay of a regiment in India, where, as I have before stated, each regiment has two lieutenant-colonels. He joined as junior regimental lieutenant-colonel, although senior in army rank to the other. In the former capacity, of course, he was not entitled to the command of the regiment. But the European regiments in India are scarcely ever stationed alone; and in this case, the regiment being one of a division which was made up of native troops, his superior army rank placed him immediately in the command of the station. Thus, instead of the mere command of a battalion, he obtained the command of a large military district and several thousand men, with pay and allowances amounting to between 3,000l. and 4,000l. per annum.—of which command and pay he deprived the senior lieutenant-colonel, who fell back to the command of his regiment, bereft of that reward and emolument which he might justly consider his right, after thirty years' service with his corps in all quarters of the globe; whilst the other officer had served about half that time at home. Thus, the officers of the Guards possessed admirable facilities for obtaining rank in the army early in life. Now, it was of the utmost importance to the individual who made the military career his profession, to obtain rank in the army as early in life as possible, to become as quickly as possible a lieutenant-colonel, for, after becoming a lieutenant-colonel, whether the individual remained on full or half-pay, whether he accompanied his regiment to the deadly climates of some of our colonies, or lived in inactive luxury in London, whether his time were passed in combatting the Caffrees at the Cape of Good Hope, in wading through the pestiferous swamps of the Burman empire, or were more agreeably spent between Crockford's and Melton Mowbray, or in lounging in this House, it was all the same—his progress up the list, towards becoming a general officer, was equally unimpeded. Amongst the General-officers all the grand prizes of the army were distributed. That there 224 should be rewards of military merit, though not in the form in which they now existed, he for one should never object to; but he objected to these prizes being too often not the rewards of merit, but of interest; and that one-half of those who, by their rank in the army were eligible to these' appointments, were men who had seen no service save in the streets of London—performed no duties, save falling into their ranks on parade. Indeed, two-thirds of the Guards were generally on leave of absence; for these favoured troops had also peculiar facilities with regard to obtaining leave, which was granted to them without its being required that their application should pass through the Adjutant-general's department. All the detail of regimental duty was performed by the Serjeants under the adjutant or commanding officer. The officers, with respect to these duties, were mere ciphers. The Guards possessed also some minor privileges which ought to be swept away. There was one privilege possessed by the Guards, sometimes productive of great hardship to the other officers. The House was aware that the Foot-guards were not under the control of the Horse-Guards, and were in a great measure, independent of the control of the Commander-in-Chief:—they were under the absolute and irresponsible control of their Colonel; and, in his absence, of the regimental Lieutenant-colonel. The consequence was, when an officer of the Line wished to exchange to half-pay, he merely had to send in his papers, and permission was immediately granted to exchange. Not so in the Guards; the patronage of all appointments in the Guards belonged to the colonel, and it was most valuable; consequently, when an officer in the Guards wished to exchange to half-pay, he was obliged to make interest with his colonel, to request his permission, which was some times denied, without any reason what so ever being assigned for his refusal; for instance, cases of the following description are said to have occurred. The colonel or lieutenant-colonel had a friend or relation in the Guards, whom he was anxious to promote, and who was inferior in army-rank to the officer who wished to exchange for half-pay; the colonel or lieutenant-colonel refused to grant permission; and thus endeavoured to oblige the individual in question, to quit the service, to sell out, or retire in favour of 225 the friend or relation of the Colonel or Lieutenant-colonel; and this forced the said officer either to abandon his profession entirely, or to remain in active service, though most anxious to exchange to half pay. The exercise of (his power by the commanding officer, was sometimes found to be a great nuisance; and he was convinced that many officers of the Guards would be delighted if their regiments were placed under the control of the Horse Guards. The commanding-officers had likewise the power of dividing, amongst the field officers and captains, the surplus of the fund, called the" Stockpurse." This fund, according to the Report from which he had quoted, was made up, first, from the pay of a certain number of non-effective men; secondly, from an allowance of 16l. for every ten men; and, thirdly, from the motley received from the men who purchased their discharge. From this fund, the Guards defrayed the expenses of the hospital and of recruiting; and the remainder was divided among the officers according to a scale not detailed to the War-office. The last privilege to which he should refer, was that which the officer of the Guards enjoyed in case of his being promoted to the rank of major-general by brevet. If the lieutenant-colonel of a regiment of infantry were removed from his command of a regiment by a brevet, which made him a Major-general, he received only 300l. a-year. Now by a warrant of 1830, if a captain in the Guards were removed in a similar manner by brevet, he received 400l. a year. If a regimental Major in the Guards, 550l.; if a regimental lieutenant-colonel, 660l. Why this invidious difference between the payment of the Guards and the payment of the Line? Was it on account of the difference of duties in the two services? The Duke of Wellington gave the following account of the duties of an officer:—From the moment at which the officer enters his Majesty's service, till he attains the rank of general officer, he must be prepared to serve in all climates, in all seasons, in all situations, and under every possible difficulty and disadvantage. There is no peace or repose for him, excepting that some powerful party in the state should think that his services can be dispensed with, in which case he will be put on half-pay. While thus serving, he must per form all the duties required of him. He must be, in turn, gaoler, police-officer, magistrate, judge, and jury. Whether in peace or in war, in the transport, in the charge of convicts, or acting as a magistrate, or sitting in judgment, 226 or as a juryman, or engaged in the more immediate and more active duties of his profession in the field, either against the internal rebel or the foreign enemy—he must never make a mistake—he must never cease to be the officer and the gentleman. Cheerful, obedient, subordinate to his superiors, yet maintaining discipline, and securing the attention and attachment of his inferiors, and of the soldiers placed under his command.Such were the duties and services required of the officer of the British Line, and such were the duties faithfully discharged by them—services seldom if ever required, seldom, if ever, rendered by the officers of the Guards. Yet with a most strange measure of justice, a more ample and kind allowance was now accorded to him who had never toiled in the service of his country than to him who had braved all the inclemencies of tropical climes, and wasted away the best years of his life under a burning sun. A more ample share of remuneration was meted to him who had merely had the nominal command of a company, than to him who had held the truly important, the truly responsible command of a battalion. What possible reason could be assigned for the preference thus assigned to the one over the other? It was said the Guards were the necessary decorations and appendages of royalty—not so. He was not one anxious to deprive royalty of its fitting and becoming honours, but he denied that these troops were necessary to royalty. The most ambitious monarch in Europe—the monarch of France—had no guards. The sovereign who sat upon the most ancient throne in Europe, the representative of the Cæsars, had no guards, the duties of his palace were performed by the troops of the Line. Were the troops of the British line inferior either in courage or in discipline to those of the Austrian service? Surely not. No; the Guards were not the pageants of royalty; they were the pageants of the aristocracy; a specious device, by means of which the wealthy and the powerful were enabled to promote their offspring over the heads of hard-worked and worn-out veterans, and the means by which the aristocracy had contrived to accumulate upon themselves the rank, the honours, and the emoluments of the military profession, without depriving themselves of any of the enjoyments of civil life. This was an abuse which he (rusted the House would concur with him in putting an end to. He should conclude by proposing 227 such a diminution of the army Estimates as would put the pay of officers of the Guards on the same fooling with that of the Line; and if this amendment were carried, he should think it tantamount to a declaration on the part of the House that the privileges of the Foot-guards should be entirely abolished. The hon. Baronet then moved, that the proposed grant of 3,085,280l. 6s. 8d. be reduced by the sum of 6,999l. 17s. 3d.
§ Mr. Hume
supported the amendment, and said, that the time had arrived when promotions should be regulated by merit, and not by influence. He knew that the distinction existing between the officers of the Guards and those of the Line, on the subject of rank, was a source of great irritation to the latter.
§ Major Beauclerk
, as an infantry officer was able, from his own personal know ledge, to state that, although the officers of the Line were too proud and high minded to complain, they vet were far from pleased or satisfied with the distinction made between them and the officers of the Guards. He did not think that such favouritism should exist; and, knowing the irritation and jealousy which the privileges enjoyed by the officers of the Guards occasioned, he most cordially sup ported the proposition of the hon. Baronet.
§ Sir Harry Verney
said, that although he had never seen any active service, he was an officer in the Line. He begged to deny that any such irritation or jealousy existed in the minds of the officers of that branch of the army on this subject as the hon. and gallant Member for Surrey had stated. It was also quite clear to any man at all acquainted with the sentiments of the officers of the Line, that the hon. Baronet who brought forward the amendment advanced statements which were not borne out by the facts. Was he not aware that the expense of the officers of the Guards was much smaller to the country than that of the officers of the Line? He did not believe that the officers of the line viewed the privileges of the officers of the Guards with any dissatisfaction whatever.
§ Lord Arthur Lennox
must also dissent from the testimony given by the hon. Baronet near him, and the hon. and gallant officer the Member for Surrey. He was an officer of the line, and had served in that capacity in various parts of the world, for thirteen years; and this was the 228 first time he ever heard that even the slightest jealousy existed among the officers in that branch of the army respecting the privileges which the officers of the Guards possessed. His belief was, that there was not the slightest foundation for even supposing such a thing.
§ Viscount Howick
said, that he had heard, with great satisfaction, the observations which had fallen from the noble Lord who had just addressed the House; because in his (Lord Howick's) view of the question, the important point was the assumption of the hon. Baronet the Member for East Cornwall, that the officers of the British line did feel themselves aggrieved and injured by the privileges which were enjoyed by the officers of the Guards. If, indeed, such feelings had existed, and if there were grounds for the existence of such feelings on the minds of the officers of the Line, it would have been to him (Lord Howick) a subject to be deeply lamented. He was, therefore, delighted to hear from an officer of the line, a positive contradiction to the assertion of the hon. Baronet, and that such feelings were not entertained by that branch of the service to which he belonged. Then, with regard to the observation of the hon. Baronet, as to rank, the hon. Baronet had alluded to the short period within which officers of the Guards could obtain the rank of field officers; and he thought that the Committee would sup pose, from what had fallen from that hon. Baronet, that it was the usual practice and course of things, that officers of the guards could obtain the rank of lieutenant colonel at a very early age indeed. Now, he (Lord Howick) had required that morning an account to be made out of the number of officers serving in the Guards as captains, and who held rank as lieutenant-colonels in the army. The result was as follows: in the Grenadier-guards there were twenty-six captains, with the rank of lieutenant-colonels in the army; in the Coldstream, sixteen; and in the third regiment, sixteen also; making in the whole fifty-eight captains of the Guards who held the rank of lieutenant-colonel, exclusive of those who did the regimental duty as lieutenant-colonels. Now, what did the Committee think was the average period of service of these officers before they attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel? Why, instead of their having served ten or a dozen years, as 229 might have been imagined, from the statement of the hon. Baronet, the average period of service of those officers, in order to enable them to attain the rank of lieutenant-colonel, as appeared from the account before him, was twenty-four years, he was sorry it was not in his power, to furnish the Committee with a similar statement respecting the officers of the Line; because from the frequent exchanges which took place, on promotion and otherwise, it was impossible that any such account could he made out with any degree of accuracy. The hon. Baronet had stated, that the deaths of officers in the Line was as three to one, as compared with the officers of the Guards; but not expecting any such statement as that would have been made, he had not been able to go through the details, and, therefore, could not take upon himself positively to contradict it.
§ Sir William Molesworth
What he had stated was, that the mortality among the officers of the Line, in proportion to their entire number, compared with that of the officers of the Guards, was as three to one.
§ Viscount Howick
said, that was precisely what he had stated. He was not, on a short notice, able to go into minute details, but from a calculation made by his noble Friend, when be was Paymaster of the Forces, it was ascertained that the mortality and sickness prevailing amongst the household troops was fully as great as amongst the troops of the Line. That being the case with respect to the men, he could not doubt that it was equally so with respect to the officers; and he was sure that there must be on that point some great mistake in the statement of the hon. Baronet. It occurred to him that what the hon. Baronet might have meant was, that from the officers of the Guards not persevering in the service, and from the frequent changes that occurred, the mortality on that account might not per haps be so great. The hon. Baronet had slated, that when officers of the Guards became general officers, their pay was 400l., but, by a recent regulation, the pay of all general officers had been raised to a minimum of 400l. With respect to the objection made by the hon. Baronet to the increased allowance to the household troops, he must observe that, viewing their different circumstances, and the increased expense to which they were subjected by living constantly in London, there was no ground of complaint on that 230 point. In his (Lord Howick's) opinion, upon the pecuniary point of view, the hon. Baronet had made out no case. With respect to the alleged jealousy existing on the part of the troops of the Line, he had no reason to believe that any such jealousy existed; and, he, therefore, trusted that the House was not prepared to infringe upon that which, since the earliest times, had been the practice of the British army. Before the war, the proportion which the Guards bore to the troops of the Line was much greater than at present. No pecuniary benefit whatever could result from the motion of the hon. Baronet, and he trusted that the feeling of the House would go with him in resisting it.
§ Mr. Leader
said, I rise, Sir, not so much for the purpose of intruding my own opinions on this subject upon the House, as for the purpose of setting right some hon. Members who seem to have misunderstood the statements and intentions of my hon. Friend, the Member for Cornwall. First, the hon. Member for Buckingham seems to imagine that my hon. Friend, the Member for Cornwall, in bringing forward this Motion, has been actuated by the desire to save a few thousand pounds to the country. Now, I beg most distinctly, on the part of my hon. Friend, on my own part, and on the part of those who think with us, to disclaim this small and paltry object of the mere saving of a few thousand pounds; our object is to correct an abuse, or what we consider an abuse, in privilege and in promotion. The hon. Member for Buckingham also said, that the Guards were of use as well as of ornament to the public service. So far as ornament goes, I quite agree with him, they are very ornamental; but as for their use, I must differ from him. The only use to which they are put, so far as I know, is mounting guard at the Palace, and at some public offices, appearing on parade, and, whenever any distinguished foreigner comes to this country, going through the ceremony of a review, for his edification. They are certainly fine and gallant looking troops, but they must make but a small impression on a foreigner who is accustomed to see 20,000 or 30,000 men reviewed, from the very small ness of their number, which in London never amounts to more than 4,000 or 3,000. I can assure hon. Members opposite, that I mean and that I feel nothing hostile or disrespectful to the Guards. 231 Nulli secundus is the proud motto of the Coldstream, and I do really in my con science believe, that they amply deserve that motto, and that in gallantry, courage, discipline, and loyalty, they are inferior to no troops in the world; but that is no reason why they should enjoy an unfair superiority over men equally gallant and well-disciplined as soldiers, and equally good and loyal as subjects; I mean the Infantry of the Line. On actual service, in time of war, the Guards have as much duty to perform, and they perform it as well as any troops; but in time of peace, when the troops of the Line are engaged on difficult service in Ireland, and in the Colonies, the officers of the Guards have little or no duly to perform, and all the service they see is at Melton, or at Crock ford's. The hon. Member for Bucking ham further stated, that there was no good ground for complaint on the score of promotion. Neither that hon. Member, nor any other Member, has attempted to disprove this fact—that the Guards furnish seventy to the list of lieutenant-colonels, whereas the rest of the Infantry furnish but 126 lieutenant-colonels to that list. Here you have a Corps of 5,000 men of the favoured guards, supplying seventy to the list of lieutenant-colonels, while an army of 90,000 or more supplies but 126. Is this a fair proportion? Is there not favour and privilege here? This is a fact, uncontroverted and incontrovertible. This alone is an abuse great enough to warrant our endeavours to change the present sys tem. The noble Lord, the Member for Chichester, states, on his own knowledge, that there exists no jealousy on the part of the Line against the Guards. I know not what his experience may be, but I will remind him of a passage in a celebrated writer, referring to this very point. I find in the thirty-fifth letter of Junius this passage: "They (the marching regiments) feel and resent, as they ought to do, that invariable undistinguishing favour with which the Guards are treated." I find a note on this passage by the same author. "The number of commissioned officers in the Guards are, to the marching regiments as one to eleven. The number of regiments given to the Guards, compared with those given to the Line, is about three to one, at a moderate computation; consequently, the partiality in favour of the Guards is as thirty-three to one. So much for the officers. The private men have 232 fourpence a-day to subsist on, and 500 lashes if they desert: under this punishment they frequently expire. With these encouragements, it is supposed they may be depended upon, whenever a certain person thinks it necessary to butcher his fellow-subjects." The date of this passage is December 19, 1769. Thus we see that the evil was known and complained of more than fifty years ago. There was jealousy then on the part of the Line against the privileged Guards. I venture to say, that there has been jealousy ever since; but, from that time to 1830, it was useless to bring the subject before Parliament; for whether the Whigs or the Tories were in power, the influence of the aristocracy was predominant in this House; and it was well known that this favoured corps was appropriated to themselves, that they might enjoy military honour and military promotion without military service. This is the real cause of the evil; in the army, as in every other service in this country, almost every thing is given to birth and wealth, and interest, and little or nothing to zeal and merit and long service. But now that we have a reformed House of Commons, I do hope and confidently trust that this abuse, as well as all other abuses, may be corrected.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
thought he might congratulate the House on the speech of the hon. Member, which was calculated to throw some light upon the discovery of "Junius." The hon. Member appeared to have discovered that "Junius" was an officer of the Line. If he was not much mistaken the hon. Baronet who had brought forward the motion, had drawn his information from a source equally as anonymous as the letters of "Junius." He had traced and followed him throughout all his marches and countermarches, and unless he was very much mistaken, the book now before him contained not only a great portion of the speech of the hon. Baronet, but the literal and actual words that the hon. Baronet uttered. The hon. Baronet had stated, that he got his facts from the King's Gazette; but if that were the case, the King's Gazette must very much resemble the London Review. Beginning at page 388 of the London Review he there found a great portion of what had been stated by the hon. Baronet. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman then proceeded to read some passages from the London Review 233 upon those points which had been referred to in the speech of the hon. Member for Cornwall. He thought that the Committee would think the similarity of the passages he had read to the observations of the hon. Baronet, was a circumstance that was somewhat extraordinary. When the hon. Baronet made it a ground of accusation against the officers of the Guards that they employed themselves in hunting at Melton Mowbray, or lounging at Crockford's, he (Sir H. Hardinge) would say, that however they might employ their leisure hours when on leave of absence, he cannot allege any thing against them as regards their conduct in the field of battle. Then, with regard to the observations which had been made as to the supposed jealousy which was said to exist between the officers of the Line and the Guards, it had been his (Sir H. Hardinge's) lot to serve the greater proportion of his time in the Line, and but six years in the Guards; he could take upon himself to say, that neither in war or in peace had such jealousy existed. With respect to the services of the Guards, he had had the honour, during a portion of the Peninsula war, to serve in the First Regiment of Grenadier Guards. Their force was three battalions, and those three battalions were three times renewed during the war. The entire force of the Guards in the Peninsular war was seven battalions, and during that time the consumption of these battalions by losses in the field amounted to twenty-eight thousand men. He need not remind the House that the Guards had distinguished themselves in Egypt, in America, and in the Peninsula. He need only mention Talavera, and the part they took at Waterloo, where the defence of the Guards at Hougomont was as brilliant a military achievement as was ever attempted. The hon. Baronet had alluded to an officer of the Guards, who had exchanged and gone out to India, where he took the command over an officer of higher military rank. That was a common occurrence, and had happened to himself. He had been commanded by an officer to whom he was senior. On his return from the Continent he had felt himself entitled to some repose, after a long period of active service, and he went into the Guards. He was there commanded by officers whose senior he was. They commanded him regimentally; but in active service he should have commanded them. He be- 234 lieved that the officer to whom the hon. Baronet meant to refer was Sir Willoughby Cotton; and he would state to the House that a more gallant and deserving officer did not exist. The right hon. Baronet eulogised the services of Sir W. Cotton both in the Peninsula and in the Burmese war, and went into a calculation to shew, after deducting interest at four percent,, upon the regular price of his commission, and, making a fair allowance for the additional expenses of living in London, the pay of a lieutenant-colonel of the Guards did not exceed 185l. The pay of a lieutenant-colonel of the Line was about 186 l. As to pay of a lieutenant of the Guards, after making similar deductions, it would not be found to exceed 50l., and he put it to the hon. Member whether his footman was not as well paid. He begged to remind the Committee, that at the period of the Revolution the Guards consisted of seven battalions, and the same number of officers as now. Again, in the year 1792, there were the same number of battalions and the same number of officers, and there are the same number in 1836. So that for the last 150 years the number of the Guards had remained the same, while the Line had increased in the ratio of four to one during that period. He would say, that in garrison and on service, the conduct of the Guards had been the same; they had been distinguished by exemplary behaviour, and by bravery, not inferior to that of the line themselves, and he would say, from his long experience of both services, as an officer of the Line as well as of the Guards, that, having the duties of peace to perform, he should give the preference to the conduct of the Guards in the performance of those duties. The Guards were better disciplined and better regulated than the troops of the line; and he would ask the House whether any troops could be better conducted than they were, in the relative situations in which they were placed, as between citizen and soldier.
stated, that he had been seven years an adjutant in the Guards, and could take upon himself to say, that his duty was no sinecure, and that an adjutant in the Guards had as onerous and arduous duties to perform as an adjutant in the Line. With respect to the saving that would be effected by the proposition of the hon. Baronet, it would amount, he believed, to about 8,500l. per 235 annum; but as the hon. Baronet had been considerate enough to say that he would allow compensation to the officers of the Guards for the additional expense of their commissions, he begged to remind him this compensation would amount to no less a sum than 325,000l.
§ Mr. Kearsley
did not feel bound to compliment the hon. Baronet for the manner in which he had brought forward his motion. He certainly thought that he had brought forward his motion very like a Serjeant of the Line, backed as he was by Corporal Junius, the hon. Member for Bridgewater. He trusted, however, that the hon. Baronet would soon receive orders to the right-about-left, and that his corporal would find admission info no service, unless of the corps which was under the command of the hon. Member for Middlesex, namely, the Old Fogies.
§ Mr. Thomas Duncombe
, having some years since belonged to a regiment of the Guards, felt bound to express his dissent from those who stated that the Footguards was merely a school for the promotion of the aristocracy. Any Gentleman who chose to take the trouble of seeing them any day at parade would see upon their colours the record of the engagements in which they had been distinguished, in America, in Egypt, and in the Peninsular war. With respect to the present motion, if uniformity was necessary, instead of lowering the Guards to the pay of the Line, he would raise the Line to the level of the Guards. If there was any fault in our military system that more especially called for correction, it was that the soldier was too apt to be considered the mere slave of the State. With respect to any reduction of the pay of the Guards, these men had enlisted for their lives upon understood terms, and they could not fairly be deprived of those terms on which they had enlisted. The effect of raising the Line to the level of the Guards would be to raise the character of the soldier in his own estimation, and by so doing they would be able to get rid of that degrading system of corporal punishment which at present appeared to excite so much public disgust.
§ Mr. Roebuck
said, that there sometimes took place exhibitions in that House of which it would be more for its credit that the public should not be aware. The old proverb said, in vino veritas? he wished he could add that there was decency also. His object in rising was to relieve the hon. 236 Member for Cornwall from the imputation of having made an attack on the Guards. No such an attack had been made. The object of the hon. Member's motion was to get rid of the inequality which existed between the two portions of the service, and to place all parties, whether in the Guards or in the Line, on the same level. One of the things complained of was the inequality of pay, and that, besides this inequality, the party who received less pay were liable to be sent out in times of peace on foreign service, whilst the others remained idly at home. Why was this invidious distinction kept up, and no reason assigned for it? It was said that the Guards were a brave body; no one had denied it, but that was not the question. The question was, "why a distinction was kept up," and no answer had been given to it. The truth was, as might be seen by a reference to the Army List, that the distinction was made to favour the aristocracy, and afford them facilities for promotion.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, he felt himself called upon to make the remarks which he had been induced to offer to the House by the invidious distinction made between the Guards and the Line by the hon. Member for Cornwall. The Guards had been described as a sort of military police dressed in royal colours, but who were in fact mere cyphers. This statement being made, he felt it his duty to reply to it.
Sir Charles Dulbiac
expressed his regret, that on every occasion when the army Estimates were discussed, it should be thought necessary to make attacks on his Majesty's Foot guards. He thought it unnecessary to vindicate them from the as persions which had been cast upon them. And would only say that his Majesty did not possess braver or more orderly troops.
§ Mr. Charles Buller
contended, that the present system was continued for the purpose of jobbing, and of enabling young men of aristocratical connections to obtain promotions, which they would not obtain in the ordinary mode of advancement. He repeated it. The present system was kept up for the purpose of loading the Army List with officers wholly unfit for their rank. He would put it to the House, whether there were not a greater number of general officers for instance, than the country required? —and whether, without the aid of 237 aristocratical influence, they would see young men daily raised to command over others, in every respect, except that of birth or influence, their superiors—young men of no experience, totally unfit for their duties, but of high rank. [Oh!Oh!] Hon. Gentlemen might cry, oh! if they pleased, but they would never drown the opinion of the country, nor would they overcome the opinions of many veteran officers, who had expressed the reconviction of the pernicious effects of the present system.
§ Mr. Ewart
, in the course of the debate, had never heard it denied that peculiar privileges were bestowed upon the Guards, and that they were bestowed without reason. It had, indeed, been said, that no jealousy existed in the soldiers of the Line against the Guards. That was not sufficient. It was not enough to be shown that no discontent existed among the military, but it should also be proved that they had no cause for discontent. Upon the two grounds he had mentioned, he should give his cordial vote for the motion of the hon. Baronet, though he was afraid there was a military majority in that House ready to prevent its being eventually carried.
said, the charges made showed the grossest ignorance of the question in those who brought it forward. He denied the existence of undue influence, or improper promotion in the Guards; on the contrary, he, at one time, exchanged into the Guards, but when he wanted to procure promotion he was obliged to go back again to the Line to effect his object.
§ Sir William Molesworth
replied, with regard to his using the "London Review," no person had a better right, for it was his own property, and he would recommend it to the patronage of the House. He admitted, he never meant to deny the services rendered by the Guards in time of war, but the services rendered by the Line being not less, it could not be contended that the former were entitled to any peculiar privileges. The only reason urged, was the higher price of a commission in the Guards. This was the course of reasoning always pursued on similar occasions. It was the usual practice to prop up one abuse by another. The system of purchase was in itself a gross abuse, as it gave a monopoly of promotion in the army to the wealthy, and yet this very abuse was urged as a reason against remedying another.
§ The Committee divided on the amendment: Ayes 46; Noes 217; Majority 171.
§ Viscount Howick moved that a sum of 153,000l. be granted for defraying the charge of General Staff Officers &c.
§ Viscount Howick
was understood to say, that the recommendation had been referred to the Commander-in-Chief but it did not accord with Lord Hill's notion of military discipline, and it was not carried into effect.
§ Mr. Hume
It appeared then, from what the noble Lord said, that the great grievance to which he alluded, was perpetuated by Lord Hill, in spite of the Re solutions of a Committee of that House, and, that the military business of this country was conducted by a department over which the Government of the country, and the Commons of England had no control. He must protest against such a system, and against such symptoms of weakness being exhibited by the Government. In the name of the public interest, he said it was their duty to exercise control and authority over every Officer of State. If the recommendations of Committees of that House were not attended to, of what use, he would ask were they? This was not the only instance, he must say, in which the Commander-in-Chief applied the patronage and influence of his department to thwart and oppose a liberal Government.
§ Lord John Russell
The hon. Member for Middlesex seemed to think, that in that case the intentions of the Government had been frustrated by some decision of Lord Hill. That was not the case. The subject rested entirely with his Majesty's Ministers. When that Resolution alluded to was proposed in the Committee, he, being the only Cabinet Minister upon it, thought it right to say, that, in his opinion, it ought not to be strictly binding upon the Government, but ought to be left in their discretion; it was accordingly left in that situation; and the Government had thought proper to leave it, in a great degree, to the Commander-in-chief to decide on the propriety of carrying it into effect; With regard to the administration of the business, of the Horse 239 Guards, he begged to say it bad been carried on in a manner wholly free from political partiality, and entirely to the satisfaction of Government, and in accordance with their intentions. He, therefore, was ready to bear any responsibility which might attach to that Administration.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
Nothing could be more candid, fair, and open than the testimony borne by the noble Lord opposite to the able manner in which the Commander-in-Chief performed the duties of his office. The hon. Member for Middlesex, too, seemed to forget that the Committee especially exempted the superior staff appointments. He had concurred with the noble Lord and the late Secretary-at-War, the Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice), in the propriety of exempting quartermaster-generals from the operation of the Resolution, on the ground that they were appointed immediately by the King, and not by the Commander-in-Chief. Nothing could be more free from any political bias than Lord Hill's conduct at the Horse Guards.
§ Viscount Howick
said, the hon. Member for Middlesex had quite misunderstood him, if he supposed him to say that the Government had met with any difficulty from the Commander-in-Chief in enforcing the Resolution of the Committee.
said, he had always in his experience found the Horse Guards free from political bias. His father was in the army, and always voted on the Ministerial side. On a memorable and delicate subject, some years hack (he need not allude to it more particularly), he voted against Ministers; and he had never been prejudiced in the least degree by his con duct on that occasion. He was sure all military gentlemen would join him in saying, that Lord Hill was entirely free from any political feeling in the discharge of his important duties.
§ Sir John Elley
begged to say a word on the subject which was under the consideration of the House. It had been said that aristocratical influence directed pro motion in the army. He was a soldier who had gone through every grade in the profession, and he would most certainly declare, that from the time he had entered the army up to the present moment, the remotest degree of aristocratic influence had never been used in his favour. He thought that the promotions in the army 240 could not be better disposed of than in the hands of the noble Lord now at the head of the army.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that the case of the hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken was a glorious and honourable exception to the general rule. He thought, however, that it could not be advanced as a general argument on the subject of army promotion. There were exceptions to this as in every other rule, but would the gallant officer say, that in general aristocratic influence had nothing to do with promotion in the army? If so, his experience differed entirely from that of the gallant officer.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
said, that nothing could be more unfounded than the observations of the hon. Member for Middle sex as to the management of business at the Horse Guards, which he believed to be entirely free from political influence; and he could not refrain from expressing his regret that the hon. Member should take occasion, upon the proposal of voles in Committee of Supply, not only to make his observations upon the number of men, the expenses incurred, and so on, but to vilify and traduce the character of officers not present to defend themselves, and without any accurate knowledge upon the subject.
said, that the hon. Member for Middlesex was in the habit of meddling with every subject which came before the House, whether it was the army or navy, law or physic; and upon all occasions he had the misfortune to find himself in a glorious minority.
§ Mr. Wakley
said, that whatever might be the opinion of the House as to the con duct of the Commander-in-Chief, there was one part of that conduct which had produced a very general feeling of indignation in the country; he alluded to the practice of allowing soldiers to wear their side-arms. [Oh! Oh!] He was glad to hear those cries from the other side of the House; it was an indication of the in difference with which certain hon. Members of that House regarded questions affecting the happiness or the safety of the community. Why, within a very short period, they had seen instances of persons losing their lives, or very seriously injured, in frays with soldiers; and he could not conceive on what principle they were al lowed always to carry weapons about with them, at such risk to the population.
§ Viscount Howick
wished the hon. Member had brought forward the question, which was one of very considerable moment, on a regular notice, instead of incidentally to a vote like the present. He admitted that the Government had not pressed upon Lord Hill the necessity for abolishing the practice of wearing side arms by soldiers when off duty. He believed, however, that the cases of inconvenience, or of serious accidents in con sequence of that practice had been exceedingly rare. When, then, the instances were so rare of abuse with regard to this practice, he considered it very inexpedient that the habit of self control with which soldiers in the habit of wearing their side arms were perfectly familiarised, should be discontinued. The consequence of such a change would be, that on occasions of strong excitement, when soldiers were called on to act, and when they might not be under the immediate control of their officers, they would be much more likely to transgress the bounds of duty than men who were always under the influence of salutary self restraint. He did not think that there was any ground for affixing this mark of degradation to the character of the English soldier, and, by lowering him in his own opinion, depriving him of a strong stimulus to meritorious exertion.
§ Mr. Ewart
could not agree with the noble Lord, that the British soldier would consider himself lowered or degraded by being prohibited from wearing his side arms on ordinary occasions. There might probably be at first a feeling of wounded pride; but he was satisfied that such a feeling would on consideration be removed—that he would rather consider himself raised in the estimation of his countrymen by laying aside a useless but a dangerous weapon.
§ Mr. Roebuck
said, that when the noble Lord the Secretary at War, talked of the small number of instances in which accidents had occurred, owing to the continuance of this practice, he should remember that he (Mr. Roebuck) moved last Session for a return of the number of persons killed and wounded by soldiers who were allowed to carry their side-arms about wherever they went. That return had not yet been made, nor had the Government given any explanation why it was delayed; and, therefore, it was not for the Government to taunt Hon. Members as not being 242 able to give more than one or two in stances; seeing it was their fault that no specific information had been obtained. There was scarcely a week passed without one or more cases appearing in the newspapers of serious assaults committed by soldiers with their weapons. And he could not but think it rather extraordinary that the noble Lord should talk of such things as "inconveniences"; practices which affected the lives of citizens, he thought were not fitly to be designated "as inconveniences." [Lord Howick: 1 never used the term.] He (Mr. Roebuck) begged the noble Lord's pardon: he considered the phrase at the time as so remarkable, that he put it down; but he, for one, could not see why these "inconveniences" should be allowed to continue. It was not the practice of the cavalry to walk about the streets with their sabres, and he did not know why foot soldiers were continually permitted to roam abroad with their bayonets, unless it was to keep up an invidious distinction between them and the citizens. Besides, there was another case in point. Not many years ago, it was the practice of gentlemen to carry swords; the Legislature, taking notice of the frequent brawls and assaults that happened in consequence, prohibited the practice; and it was now illegal to carry a sword. ["No, no," from the Opposition.] Why did Gentlemen deny it? If there was a lawyer among them, he would tell them that he (Mr. Roebuck) was right. And did Gentlemen consider themselves as disgraced, as "lowered," or "degraded," forsooth? No; and why should the private soldiers be degraded by being prohibited from carrying dangerous weapons with them on every occasion?
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
said, the hon. Member was mistaken about the cavalry, the order being applicable to them as well as to the foot soldiers. He could not admit, that because some four or five un fortunate affrays might have occurred, the whole English army should be treated like assassins, and stripped of their arms before they left their barracks. Was any such regulation established in any other country in Europe?—in France, in Germany, for instance? No; and would the House then be prepared to declare (which they would do by passing a vote condemnatory of this practice) that the British soldier was less worthy of being trusted than the soldiers of France, of Germany, or of any conti- 243 nental state. Wearing the side arms was considered as an honorary distinction: in many cases, indeed, it was absolutely necessary; in the case of escorting a deserter to his regiment for instance; and in the case of a popular disturbance, requiring the aid of the military: if they were not to carry their arms with them, why they would have to send them by waggons, or some conveyance, to the place of meeting, Hon. Members were not aware of the in conveniences that would arise from passing such a vote: and he trusted that the House would well consider what they were about before they rashly made so important an alteration in military discipline.
said, he agreed with the noble Lord, that this was a most inconvenient time to discuss this question; and as the noble Lord had fairly stated the case, and taken the whole responsibility of the continuance of the practice upon himself, it would be as well to leave the matter in his hands. He also agreed in the sentiment, that to deprive the soldier of his side arms would be considered a disgrace, because it had become an established practice to wear them. Though the army might be capable of improvement, there was not any service in the world so well conducted.
§ Mr. Maclean
remarked, that the hon. Member for Bath was mistaken in his law with respect to carrying swords; the mere act of carrying a sword was not illegal; it was the carrying any weapon in such a manner as to be alarming or dangerous to the country. He must be aware that Members of that House were accustomed on Court-days to carry certain things intended at least to represent swords; it was a proof that it was not illegal.
§ Mr. Hume
observed, that nothing could be more inconsistent than the opinions which the gallant Officer (Sir H. Hardinge) advanced with reference to the dignity of the British soldier. When a pro position was made for doing away with the abominable practice of flogging, on the ground, among others, that it was continued in the British army alone, the gallant Officer maintained that the distinction in this respect was necessary to be preserved, for the reason, as he (Mr. Hume)supposed, that having made men brutes it was necessary that they be made to preserve the character. Now when it was thought by many hon. Members that the practice of 244 wearing side arms was unnecessary and dangerous, the custom that prevailed in this respect in other countries was deemed essential to the dignity of an English soldier.
§ The House resumed.
§ Committee to sit again on Monday next.