HC Deb 31 May 1836 vol 33 cc1210-27
Mr. Bannerman

In accordance with the notice which I have given, I rise to call the attention of the House to the situation in which many officers of various ranks are now placed, belonging both to his Majesty's land and sea forces, whose length of service seems to entitle them to the consideration of Parliament and the country. Sir, it is not my intention to occupy the time of the House by bringing under its consideration the cases of individual hardship, which many most deserving officers in both ser- vices have to complain of. With the limited information which I possess, I should not be justified in adopting such a course on the present occasion; for I think I should fail in duty to a body of men who never failed in theirs, were I to notice such cases only as accidental circumstances have made me familiarly acquainted with, and pass by many others which, I have no doubt, are equally deserving of attention and consideration. Sir, the object which I have in view is promotion or some other equivalent to the older officers of various ranks in both services. I have no wish to disguise that object; but before I allude to the claims of those officers, I will allude for one moment to the notion which I find prevails among some hon. Gentlemen, that I bring forward this subject with the as sent of the Government. Sir, neither directly, nor indirectly have I held any communication on this subject with any Member of his Majesty's Government. The House, therefore, need not be surprised if I display not a little ignorance in handling a subject on which it has been supposed that I have been so much enlightened by his Majesty's Ministers. There is another topic I would also allude to for one moment. It has been said that this is a matter which no individual Member of Parliament ought to bring forward, it being the province of the Government, and interfering with the prerogative of the King. Sir, the Government is sometimes none the worse for an occasional hint from this House; and as to the prerogative of the King, I would be the last man to dream of interfering with it. But I imagine our Gracious Sovereign is also the last person in his dominions who would not be too happy to exercise that prerogative by noticing, in one way or another, the length of service of his oldest officers, who were ready at all times, when their country called on them, to en counter cannon and climate, heedless of the "battle or the breeze." Many of these men, worn out with age or infirmity, have already disappeared from the half-pay list. The survivors are left to dream of some prospect of promotion or mark of public approbation, for long service, being bestowed on them. It has hitherto proved but a dream; no prospect seems to open to that class of men, except that which opens to them beyond the grave. Sir, I trust that the discussion which will arise this evening on this question may be useful to them; for although I cannot submit any substantive proposition for the consideration of the House, which might have the semblance of infringing on the King's prerogative, I am sure the House will listen to me for a few minutes, and allow me to assume a very possible case, which may very probably take place, and in doing this I hope I can not give offence in any quarter. Well, Sir, in looking over the last navy-list I find there are many post captains of thirty five years standing; there are eighty of them of that rank of more than thirty years. I shall suppose that those officers choose to memorialise his Majesty. I shall suppose that he is graciously pleased to honour them with an interview, and to admit to the fullest extent their claims on his consideration. What follows? The King has recognised and admitted their claims, he will surely exercise his prerogative; to be sure he would. But, in the exercise of that prerogative, his Majesty would of course consult with his responsible advisers. I am only supposing a case; and I suppose that my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, should be appealed to, and that his Majesty should condescend to feel the pulse of the right hon. Gentleman, and inquire the amount of the surplus revenue at his disposal, which is so keenly contended for by distressed agriculturists and others in this House. Why my right hon. Friend would naturally say, there is a document in the library of your Majesty's faithful Commons, in the shape of a Report from a Select Committee which sat some years ago; the Report concludes in the following terms:—"The Committee beg leave, in conclusion, to express their anxious hope that no addition to the number of flag officers in the navy, any more than to that of general officers in the army, will in future be made, except upon some very strong grounds of public necessity." Sir, with such a document staring any Ministers in the face, it is very easy to imagine the responsible advice that would be tendered. But, Sir, I call on the noble Lord who acted as chairman of that Committee, I appeal to others Members of that committee, and to my hon. Friend, the Member for Middlesex—whose love of economy has never weighed in the scale with his love of justice—and I appeal to this House, whether strong grounds of public necessity do not now warrant some thing being done for these old officers. That expediency warrants it, I cannot entertain a doubt; and that the country will approve of it, I feel certain. Sir, it is a notorious fact that great dissatisfaction prevails in both services, for more reasons than one. I do not wonder at it. But I do not think it fair that that dissatisfaction should be laid at the door of this House of Commons. In the navy-list I find—for it is that branch of the service I will first allude to—that there were, as I said before, seventy-eight captains of up wards of thirty years standing in that rank, most of them between sixty and seventy years of age. Under the existing rules of the service, very few of them, I know, could be put on the effective list of flag officers. But surely an addition to their half-pay would be but an act of justice to those who have so long suffered from disappointment; and no mode more honourable to the individuals, or gratifying to the country, I think, can be suggested, than to grant them the rank they have so long and so anxiously sought for. Supposing they were all to be promoted, the amount, including the addition of pay to the seventy-eight who step into their shoes, and the seventy eight who follow them—making a positive pecuniary advantage to 234 captains—the advancement to all would be a temporary advance of 20,000l., and no permanent burden on the country. No, not for a couple of years; for in peace, as well as in war, death deals silent destruction in the navy and army. In the navy, for the last three years, it has removed forty-three admirals, vice-admirals, and rear-admirals, forty-two captains, forty-five commanders, and 184 lieutenants, comprehending half pay to the amount of 57,838l. 17s. 6d., or a yearly average of 19,279l. 12s. 6d.; so that the House will perceive a very paltry sum altogether is required to do a similar act of justice, for length of service, to the old officers in the various inferior ranks in the navy. I find there are among them a certain class of commanders denominated retired commanders, receiving certain pay under different acts of council by his Majesty, and a class of lieutenants receiving similar pay by the same authority. I am not aware in what circumstances these officers stand, or whether they are entitled to look for promotion. But the principle that I contend for, and the object I have in view, is reward for length of ser vice to the various ranks, and not what is called a patronage promotion. The House will observe that I have not noticed that distinguished class of individuals in the navy—the admirals. At the promotion which took place at the coronation in 1830, the amount to that branch of the service alone was 20,000l. I have reason to believe that 3,000l. or 4,000l. would now suffice to give satisfaction to those officers. But my gallant Friend, the Member for Kinross, understands this subject better than I do; and as he has now got his cocked hat under the Admiralty telegraph, I dare say I may safely consign the admirals to his care, and if his gallant brethren shall have anything to complain of, I hope they will make him responsible. I have now, as briefly as I could, but very imperfectly I am aware, brought the claims of the old naval officers under the consideration of this House. That great dissatisfaction exists in that service, there cannot be a doubt, and that similar dissatisfaction, on similar grounds, exists in the army, I shall endeavour to prove; and to that important branch of our service I beg leave now to direct the attention of the House. Many of the remarks with which I this evening prefaced my observations on the navy, apply equally to the army. I need not repeat then), having the same object in view, viz., promotion to the older officers. The Select Committee, to which I have already alluded, speak of the army in their Report as follows:—"The Committee cannot close the military branch of their inquiry without Stating the favourable impression which they have de rived from it as to the general economy and management of the army. They would have been happy if, in the performance of the duty intrusted to them, they could have effected any greater saving to the public; but taking into view the peculiar circumstances of our military service, as pointed out in various parts of the evidence, and particularly by the Duke of Wellington, in the memorandum already referred to, and taking also into view the fact, that whilst the salaries and emoluments of most branches of the civil service have considerably increased since 1792, those of the superior officers of the army, with few exceptions, are the same as they were a century ago—they hope that in the alteration which they have recommended they will be found on the whole to have carried the principle of reduction as far as they could without detriment to the efficiency of the public service, or to the just reward of professional merit." That Committee were at great pains to inquire into the state of our military and naval appointments; the public is indebted to them for many valuable suggestions, and their observations on the management and economy of the army are highly creditable to that branch of the service. But admitting, as the Committee does, the increase of emoluments to the civil servants of the country, and coupling that admission with the withering sentence which concludes their Report, I again appeal to the hon. Members of that Committee, whether circumstances have not now materially altered—I appeal to them, and I appeal to this House, who voted twenty millions for the West India slave proprietors, and I ask whether a little more than as many thousand pounds can for one moment weigh with any hon. Member in doing only a bare act of justice to the officers of the army? I ask, whether it be right that a lieutenant-colonel in the British service, who fought at Waterloo, should still be a lieutenant-colonel, while he who fought in the same battle, in the same rank; in the Prussian service, has now attained nearly the highest rank in his profession? Having made that comparison between the British and Prussian service, I shall abstain from making invidious comparisons between any of the different branches of his Majesty's forces. But I think I am bound to prove to the House, and I wish to prove it to the country, that well-grounded dissatisfaction exists in almost every department of the service. I think that the grievances which generate that dissatisfaction ought to be redressed, and I am anxious that those gallant Officers should not suppose that there is any unwillingness on the part of this House to do them justice. In confirmation of the dissatisfaction to which I have alluded, prevailing in the various branches of the service, I may call the attention of the House to a printed document which fell into my hands the other day, entitled "Observations on the Corps of Royal Artillery." Does any Member of this House believe that these observations were from the pen of a civilian, or that I produce them on this occasion to serve any particular purpose, or produce any stage effect? No, Sir; I produce them to show only that the gallant Officers of that distinguished corps have grievances to redress, and that they, as well as all other Officers in his Majesty's service seldom complain without a cause. Sir, the sentence which prefaces these observations is as follows:—"The want of retirements and slowness of promotion are the great grievances under which this corps labours." It is a short sentence, but expressive, and the one which follows it is equally so:—"It is conceived to be a hard case that, after exposure to the casualties of a military life, there should be no adequate retirement at the end of it." I shall pass over the few observations which follow; but there is one of them which has struck me so forcibly that I cannot help noticing it to the House; for the House, I am sure, will scarcely believe that artillery officers cannot, whatever be their length of service, retire upon half-pay, except under the decision of a medical Board. The remedy proposed in these observations is, "that artillery officers, above the rank of subalterns of twenty-two years' general service, and subalterns of eighteen years', should be allowed to retire upon half-pay, as was formerly the case, and that after thirty years, when disqualified by infirmity, all ranks should be allowed full pay." Sir, if it was the case formerly that military officers were allowed to retire on half-pay, I should be anxious to know the reasons which induced the authorities to make so great a change in the system which formerly prevailed in that corps. I find in the pages which follow these observations, extracts from the evidence of Lord Fitzroy Somerset, and the gallant General opposite (Sir H. Hardinge), before two Select Committees of the House of Commons, in 1828 and 1833, stating their opinion of the effects of the system of promotion in the artillery. The evidence of the gallant General is so striking that I beg leave to read the extract:— You have stated, that owing to the system of promotion in the ordnance service, the colonels do not get the higher ranks till they obtain an advanced age. Can you state, out of the nine colonels of artillery, how many there are above seventy years of age?—I should say, that of the colonels of the artillery there are six at present above seventy years of age, and I know some upwards of eighty; I know one that is eighty-four, and another of the engineers that is eighty-two. In the lower ranks, the average time before an officer of artillery attains the rank of first captain, is forty years of age. If the artillery were to be called into active service, would the captains of those companies enumerated by you be able to go into the service with them, or would you have to appoint fresh officers?—I conceive the mischief to the artillery corps is so great, from the slowness of the promotion, and from the want of energy which that slowness generates, that I conceive, when the artillery officer has obtained his commission, he is indifferent and careless in qualifying himself further for his profession. During the Peninsular war, we were obliged to take a captain of artillery to assume the command of the whole of the artillery; thus a captain had a lieutenant-general's command, having about 8,000 men, and about 3,000 or 4,000 horses, undertaking the sieges in Spain, and the management of the artillery in the field. The greater part are unfit for the active service of the profession when they have arrived at that rank which would have enabled them to assume the relative command with officers of the line. I have another instance, in the case of Sir George Wood, who commanded the artillery at the battle of Waterloo, who was a major of artillery, and who was the oldest officer at the battle of Waterloo. What was the rank of the officer in the French artillery in the corresponding command?—The corresponding rank in the French service would have been lieutenant general. What was the corresponding rank with that of Sir Alexander Dickson?—Lieutenant general. My gallant Friend, the Member for Nottingham, knows a captain of artillery who was present at every battle during the Peninsular war; that distinguished officer is still a captain, and if he lives to the age of a hundred, may not attain the rank of a field-officer. But why need I single out individual cases? Do not the army-lists tell me that lieutenant-generals of 1814 are still lieutenant-generals, and other officers like them, in high rank, whose promotion costs not the country a six pence, are in a similar predicament. Are not the lieutenant-colonels of 1814, 15, and 16 still lieutenant-colonels, and the majors of the same year still majors? The captains of 1813, 14, 15, 16, and 17 still captains? Sir, I refer hon. Members to my source of information—the last army list—where they will find colonels who have been fifty years in the service; and I see opposite a gallant Officer, the Member for Suffolk, still a colonel, although I believe he commanded the Fusileer brigade, which decided the battle of Albuera twenty-eight years ago. Sir, I find, both in the army and the navy-lists, another corps; their motto I see is, "Per mare, per terram." I do not know which element they prefer, but this I know, that on either element the services of the Royal Marines have never been surpassed. Well, the senior first lieutenants on the effective list of that corps have been twenty-eight years in the service, and there are seventy lieutenants who entered the corps previous to the peace of 1814. I ask the House if there is not ground for dissatisfaction in that corps? It will be said, that casual promotion has been going on in the army, as well as in the navy. So it has; but the great promotion in both services has been, to another world. Since 1830, death has removed from the army three field-marshals, forty generals, fifty-four lieut.-generals, and fifty major-generals. Their number may not be quite accurate, as a few may have sold out. I am not aware of the number of inferior rank who have died, nor do I know the amount of the diminution of half-pay, but it must be very great, and no power on this earth can stop that diminution. If that be the case, and that we are fixing no permanent burthen on the country, this House I am sure would take the opportunity of doing an act of justice to the army and navy, by anticipating, if it were possible to anticipate, the kind and generous feeling of our gracious Sovereign towards his older officers. I am aware that I cannot possibly give satisfaction to those whose cause I endeavour to plead, but I think they cannot misconstrue my motives. I have been told, and I believe it to be the case, that many modes may be suggested to ameliorate the condition of the various ranks in the army and navy. But there are in this House, as well as officers connected with both services, men, of high honour and integrity, and of great professional experience, and on whom that task must devolve, and they, I am sure, will not consider it a task. But, Sir, as I said before, my object is a present remedy for a present and increasing disease of dissatisfaction and disgust. I have shown the paltry sum which will be required for the navy; and I will undertake, for a sum not exceeding 25,000l., to give, I hope, comparative satisfaction to the army. I have shown, I hope satisfactorily also, that both sums will be reduced in amount much more than one-half in less than two years, and that it is but a temporary advance. I will undertake to do it for less, and will find security to my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I feel confident, when his Majesty chooses to exercise his prerogative by rewarding the older officers in both services, this House will place the necessary means at his disposal.

Mr. Barlow Hoy

rose to support the motion. As the hon. Gentleman who had brought the subject under the notice of the House had so fully explained the hardship inflicted on the officers of the navy by the want of adequate promotion and encouragement, he would confine himself to the case of the officers of the army. The hardship upon officers of the army, from the want of adequate promotion, was much greater now than formerly, for there were now no battalions into which an officer could retire upon full pay. By an order made in 1830, no officer was entitled to retire upon half-pay, until such time as the expense of that branch of the public expenditure should be reduced from 140,000l. to 40,000l. He could not see any reason why the officers of either military service should not be held as much entitled to consideration as the officers engaged in the civil service. Now, let them, for example, take the case of military officer thirty years in the service, whose pay was 600l. a-year. Upon his retirement, he would be entitled to a re tiring pension of 146l. a-year, whilst a clerk in the civil service, receiving the like salary, would be, after the same period of service, entitled to a retiring allowance of 450l. per annum. He believed that there was no service under the Crown in which there was not some chance of retiring on a full allowance, unless it was either the army or the navy. Officers in the service of the East-India Company were better off than those in the King's service, and after both had served in India for the same period, the officers in the King's service returned home lower in rank, and worse provided for in every way, than the officers in the employment of the East-India Company. Though the pay of the officers of the French army was lower than ours, yet, by the circumstance that the half-pay of the army of that country was increased in proportion to the length of service, the officers of the French army were, in general, after any considerable period of service, enabled to retire in better circumstances than the English officers of the same standing. With respect to the slow ness of promotion in the navy, he could mention the case of an officer in the navy who was forty years in the service, and who had been thirty-four times in battle. His last service was on the coast of Africa, and he had returned home with health impaired, and had been subjected to law-suits in consequence of circumstances that had occurred in the execution of the command that he held under the Crown. Yet this individual, notwithstanding that long period of service, was still in the rank of Commander. The hon. Gentleman concluded by expressing a hope that some thing would be done to remove the hard ship complained of.

Viscount Howick

said, it was for him no praise to feel, in common with other Members, the claims which old and distinguished officers possessed on the consideration of the House and the country. He believed that many of those individuals had experienced great disappointment from the want of promotion consequent upon the close of the war. This was in a great degree the cause of the hardship complained of. He was most willing to acknowledge the claims that these officers had upon the House and the country; yet he felt bound to take other circumstances into consideration. He could not forget, that in the year 1833, a Committee was appointed to investigate the subject of the army and navy appointments. The resolutions which that Committee came to, strongly recommended that, unless in some exigency of the public service, no additions should be made to the generals and flag officers. On that Committee there sat many Gentlemen of both services, who naturally felt the fullest anxiety for the interests of both, and he had never heard that any opinion was expressed dissenting from the resolutions that that Committee then adopted. At the present time there were no less than 360 general officers, and for these the whole army did not find employment in the pro portion of more than one in ten. The whole number in actual command did not exceed from thirty-six to forty. In the estimates of the year the amount for general officers unattached was 106,000l. Taking into consideration the recommendation of the Committee three years ago, he did not feel that at present the Government would be justified in proposing any measure on the subject. When he said this, he was at the same time bound to state, that he felt that it would be necessary, in the course of the next Session, to bring the subject fully and distinctly before the House. The hon. Member had alluded to a case of retarded promotion in the artillery service, but the slowness of promotion in the individual case alluded to, arose from the system on which that service was conducted. In dealing with this subject, Ministers wore anxious to bestow rewards upon deserving and meritorious men, but at the same time, recollecting that the country was anxious for a diminution of its burdens, they did not feel at liberty to recommend just now any measure upon the subject. They were now paying the penalty of want of consideration at former times. If means had been taken to check and diminish the too great increase of the army-list at a former period, the complaints which they now heard would not have become necessary. With respect to the promotions that had taken place in the navy within a period of five years, he found that in the two years preceding 1830, that was in 1828 and 1829, the promotion of lieu tenants amounted to 213; whilst in the years 1831 and 1832 the number was eighty-four. In 1828 and 1829 there were 139 commanders and fifty-seven captains promoted; in the subsequent two years the appointments were thirty one commanders and seventeen captains. At the same time means had been taken to restrict the admission of midshipmen into the naval service. But that the bur den of the dead weight was already so enormous, he was sure that the House and the Government could find no greater pleasure than to pay that tribute to meritorious service which was so justly its due. His Majesty's Government did not feel at present that they should be authorised to propose a general brevet, or an extensive promotion in the navy, but it would be the duty of the Government to look into the whole subject, and in the course of the next Session to bring it under the consideration of the House.

Sir Henry Hardinge

regretted to have heard the observations that had fallen from the Secretary at War. Nothing could be more disheartening to both ser vices, than to hear a declaration from the Government that no brevet promotion was to take place this year. The reduction in the number of general officers, since the diminution of brevets, had become considerable. They had been reduced from 550 to 360, thus making a diminution of 190 general officers since the war. He thought that this reduction was a reason why promotion should be given to the officers of the army. The pay of the officers of the army was lower than that of those engaged in the civil service, and that was a reason why the encouragement of promotion should be held out to them. The House would recollect, that at the conclusion of the war a considerable number of officers were placed on half-pay. That arose out of the exigencies of the service. The right hon. and gallant Member contended that a great diminution having since occurred, it was an additional argument why the hopes of the army should be kept up by additional promotion. It had for a long period been the custom to hold out encouragement to the officers of the army by small brevets, about every sixth year. This was now the seventh year since a brevet had taken place, and he did not know anything more calculated to dispirit the officers, than the declaration of the noble Lord that no brevet was to take place. In 1814 a brevet was issued, by which many general officers were raised to higher rank and additional pay. He admitted it was an expensive brevet. However, if there was anything to complain of on that score, he was sorry that the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs was not there to defend it, for that noble Lord had signed the warrants. That brevet had been rescinded in 1818, and a saving to a very large amount had, in consequence, been effected. When it was considered that the half-pay of the officers who served at Waterloo was the same as of those who had served at Blenheim, and that no in crease had taken place for upwards of a hundred years, whilst a considerable in crease had occurred in the pay of those employed in the civil service, he considered it a reason why the army were entitled to consideration. In fact, he did not wish to make any distinction between either service, for he thought, when speaking of the service generally, that each of its branches had equal claims to consideration, and he was sure it was the wish of the Members of both to make no distinction between them. He believed that a brevet sufficient to satisfy the expectations of the army; would not have produced an additional expenditure of more than 10,000l. The last brevet had not exceeded 11,000l. He wished that the noble Lord had devised some means by which hope would be held out to the officers of the army, for he considered that nothing could be more disheartening and unsatisfactory to both services, than the declaration of the noble Lord.

Viscount Howick

, in explanation, contended, that after the resolution of the Committee of 1833, the Government were not in a condition to propose any recommendation on this subject. He did not think it would be for the interest of the country, nor for the interest of cither ser vice, that they should do so under the pre sent circumstances. With respect to the anxiety of the Government on this subject, he had last year, when he succeeded the late Secretary at War, the honor to add a supplementary estimate, increasing the pay of general officers to 400l. a-year.

Sir Henry Hardinge

contended, that it was the duty of the Secretary at War to propose an augmentation of this description, when he had ascertained it to be the pleasure of his Majesty that it should take place. If it was his Majesty's pleasure, it was then the business of the Secretary at War to propose it to the House. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman proceeded to explain the constitutional grounds on which that augmentation had been delayed at the period referred to by the noble Lord.

Sir Ronald Ferguson

deprecated the narrow economy which would alienate the good will of some of the bravest and best officers. The regular united service was not even on an equality with the East India Company's troops, for these latter had a half-pay at a fixed period of service, which went on increasing from time to time. He would implore his Majesty's Ministers not to disgust some of the best officers in both services.

Sir John Elley

was sure that the officers of the army and navy would feel much indebted to the hon. Member who had brought this subject forward, and he trusted that it would have a good effect. He was a major general of seventeen years' standing, but though he did not feel particularly desirous of any further promotion, he certainly felt anxious that many deserving men, who were at present below him in rank should, receive that promotion to which they were justly entitled. Even advancement, how ever, so far from being serviceable, was sometimes injurious, for there was this anomaly in the army—that a lieutenant colonel when advanced to the rank of major-general in most cases found himself worse off in point of emolument than he was before. The junior class of officers, whom he might call the operatives of the navy, and who endured more danger and fatigue than any other, had neither the re payment of promotion nor distinction; for on almost every occasion when badges or medals were given out for any brilliant action, they were overlooked. He would particularly press the case of the artillery corps on the attention of the House and the Government. The artillery was the most, efficient arm of the British force in the field, and they were exposed to more danger during the war than the artillery of the French, because, while the object of the latter was to dismount the guns, that of the former was to reduce the numerical strength of the enemy, and the manner in which they executed their hazardous duty during the frequent opportunities he had of witnessing it, had always excited his admiration. He thought the motion of the hon. Member well deserving the consideration of his Majesty's Government.

Captain Berkeley

coincided with what had been said with respect to the class of officers below a certain rank, and it was the same in the navy as in the army. Mid shipmen, not boys, but young men of six and-twenty and eight-and-twenty years of age, and who had served for ten years, if they obtained a ship would be only entitled to the paltry sum of 501. a-year, and if they had not a captain to give them a ship they would get no pay at all. What inducement was that for young men to undergo the severity of the strict examination for a lieutenancy; the British navy felt that it was now neglected when its services were not called for; yet though the hopes of those in both the naval and military branches of the service were to be blighted for another year, still, as the noble Lord held out some hopes, and as they believed that Government intended well, he would trust to the future for something that would give satisfaction.

Mr. Hume

was sorry that the motion had been brought forward, as it was the proper office of the House of Commons to be a check upon the Government, and it ought not to be hurried on by a motion like that before it, to consent to adopt a principle of extravagance that would be wholly unjustifiable. He must say, that throughout the whole of the debate, from the first speaker to the last, the only subject referred to had been the situation of the officers, that of the privates and subordinate officers had never been once alluded to; the question had been considered in a partial, and not as it ought to have been, in a general point of view. If the recommendations which he had submitted to the House in the years 1819, 1820, and, 1821 had been attended to, the circum stances which had given rise to the present motion would never have existed, because on those occasions he had strongly pointed out the expediency of calling in officers from half-pay to active service, instead of appointing young persons to new commissions. In fact, a large portion of the dead weight, on account of the army, was incurred to remunerate those who had seen no service at all. If the practice which he at the periods in question so strongly deprecated, had not been kept up, that just ground of complaint, of officers of eight or nine years' standing, attaining the rank of lieutenant-colonels in the army, and post-captains in the navy, would not have existed. Whilst he deplored the state in which the artillery and marines were placed, yet in considering the question of conferring additional honours, he could not overlook the claims which others had to participate in those honours—he alluded to those whom he would call the operatives of the army and navy. If promotion had been, as he had suggested, fairly distributed, there could not now be the grounds of complaint that were made, nor would persons of nine years' standing be commanding in the army and navy. The present complaints were all owing to the system of promotion which had been pursued by former Governments. He knew that cases of hardship did exist in consequence; but, at the same time, when he heard officers complaining that there were no retired allowances allotted to certain classes of officers, he would ask whether there were not many other classes of industrious individuals in society, who had no retired allowances after they had ceased to be able to work. He believed there was no service so well paid as that of England, and that there was no service so ill-used, with regard to promotion, as the English service. Officers were promoted in it who had no talent; or, at least, if he admitted them to have talent, they certainly, in most cases, owed their success to the superior influence of patronage. With regard to the motion of his hon. Friend, he really could not see how, in the present state of the country, and with the small surplus which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to deal with, the views of his hon. Friend could be entertained by the House. Under these circumstances, he regretted that the present discussion had been introduced, as he certainly could not give his hon. Friend that support which he could otherwise have wished.

Sir E. Codrington

contended, that the interests of the naval and military services were not sufficiently attended to. He thought prize-money might have been more advantageously appropriated by way of remuneration. No naval officer was allowed table money, not even the Admiral, until he was on his station. He thought naval officers were much worse off than military. According to the regulations of the army a lieutenant-colonel might in twelve years be made a major-general, and in thirty-five years a naval officer might not be able to attain equal rank. He knew an instance in which there was 150,000l. prize money, and when a distinguished naval officer applied to Lord Liverpool for his portion of it, his Lordship said he knew of no such fund. In a maritime country like this the interest of the navy and of the army also was of prime importance. In a civil office, clerks would be allowed to retire after half the period of service, and on double the pay compared with naval officers.

Captain Pechell

supported the motion. There were 700 midshipmen who had passed examination—of these 200 were unemployed, and of the 500 who were employed some were paid so little as 10l., 20l. and 40l. a-year. He knew a very meritorious officer who was twenty-five years a midshipman. He was not only married, but a grandfather, and he had stood god-father to his grandchild. Who could suppose a midshipman a grandfather? He really hoped the Government would not require much prompting in a question so important as this.

Captain Dundas

said, that seventy-five naval officers previously alluded to were appointed in 1802, and were now supporting themselves on 240l. a-year each, while military officers of the same standing were now general officers.

Captain Boldero

, in support of the motion, instanced the case of an officer who had been in sixteen general actions, and received the thanks of three Sovereigns, but received neither rank nor emolument in the British service. Had he been in any other service he would have obtained the highest promotion. The gallant Member maintained that in every department of the civil service, which was not so laborious or hazardous as the naval or military, promotion and compensation were infinitely superior.

Mr. Charles Wood

was understood to say, that the Admiralty would be glad, and, were always glad, to entertain the claims of old meritorious officers; but they had a duty to perform to the public, which frequently rendered it difficult for them to accede to every application. There could not be so much promotion in times of peace as under a war establishment, and it was; the number of promotions in time of war that rendered these applications so numerous.

Returns were ordered.