Lord G. Lennox
said, it was with deep regret that he felt himself again obliged to call the attention of the House and of the Government to the subject of the slow promotion of the officers of the Royal Marines. He certainly did expect, that after the strong manner in which hon. Gentlemen from all sides of the House last year, when the subject was brought before them, expressed themselves in favour of that body, the matter would have been taken up by the Government, and that it would have been unnecessary for him to have troubled the House again this year. He was the more particularly induced to hope so from the expressions which had fallen from the Secretary to the Admiralty. He did hope that the House would agree with him in thinking, that the time was now come when some measure should be adopted to accelerate the promotion of a useful, meritorious, gallant, and long-suffering body of men. The House was aware that the Ordnance and the Marines were the only branches of the British service in which there was no purchase of rank. It was not his (Lord G. Lennox's) wish to obtain promotion for the Marines at the expense of any other corps; all he asked for them was, that they should receive their fair share of promotion, and within a reasonable time, so that after a certain period of service they might be enabled by promotion to discharge their duty with satisfaction to themselves and benefit to the public. He would now proceed to state to the House what had been done by the Admiralty in the matter since he last had the honour of bringing the question before the House. It was far from his intention to say, that they had done nothing, but he could not say that they had done much, at least as much as, in his opinion, they ought in justice to have done. In June, 1837, nine field officers were allowed the full retiring allowance—were allowed to retire on full pay. Vacancies being thus occasioned, 238 certain promotions took place—four colonels, four lieutenant-colonels, four field-officers, and twenty-four subalterns. They reduced, however, the number of field-officers from sixteen to twelve, and of the subalterns from 102 to ninety. What prospect was it for a poor marine to be obliged to serve in all parts of the globe, and not to be allowed to retire until a medical officer certified that he was no longer able to serve? In his opinion, every officer after forty years ought to be allowed to retire and enjoy his full pension, the hard-earned reward of long and faithful service, and not be compelled, as he now was, to remain in until a medical officer certified he was no longer able to serve. No good could be effected under such a system. At present the Marines had only twenty-one field-officers for 9,000 men, while the Artillery-corps had seventy-two for 7,000. In Spain the Marine-corps had 1,200 men with only two field-officers. It was quite plain to any one that that was not a sufficient number. The reduction in the number of the field-officers had proved fatal to the promotion of the lieutenants and subalterns. He would now take the liberty of saying a few words upon the personal pay of the captains of Marines. In 1805 the pay of officers of the Line of all ranks was increased; that was not the case with the officers of the Royal Marines. He submitted, that there was no reason why the pay of captains of Marines should not be put on the same footing with that of captains of the Line. Had not their conduct been as gallant, and were they not as deserving? Captains of Marines were also put in a situation in which no captains of the Line were put. A captain of the Marines was sometimes called upon, as in Spain, to take the command of 700 men, which was never the case with a captain of the Line, and yet the former, generally an old and experienced officer, was not considered worthy of receiving the same amount of pay as the latter, who might be a boy of twenty-four years of age. In point of fact, the captain of Marines receives 13d. a-day less. He trusted, therefore, t hat the House would see, that something ought to be done. If any class of officers required promotion, it was the lieutenants of Marines. Thirty-nine had served in the last war, and many of them had seen twenty-eight years of service. The year 1837 might be called the Jubilee year of the Marines, as they received more pro- 239 motion in that one year than they had done for the last twenty years put together. They had indeed a boon then conferred upon them, in the promotion of seventy-three officers. The Artillery, however, had 107, and the Engineers seventy-five, for the same period. From 1814 to 1820 there had been only one promotion among the Marines, while the Artillery had 125, and the Engineers fifty-six. To place the Marines on the same footing of promotion with the other corps he would give a description of what should be done for them, which would save him the trouble of more fully detailing his reasons to the House. He thought that five colonels ought to be made general officers; twenty-one captains, lieutenant-colonels; thirty-six captains, brevet-majors; and twenty-six lieutenants, captains. He was sure it would be wasting the time of the House to detail the nature of the claims of the Marines upon the gratitude and support of the House and of the country. It would be sufficient to say, that in all their naval actions the Marines had shared in the danger. As they had shared in the danger, he wished that they had also shared in the honour. He would only remind the House, that when, unfortunately, a mutiny was raging in their fleet, the Marines remained faithful to a man. He would detain the House no longer. He thanked them for the kind manner in which they had been pleased to listen to him. He would express his most earnest hope that, by their votes that night, they would show to the officers of the Marines that the House was desirous of doing them justice, and duly appreciated their meritorious labours. By supporting the Address to her Majesty they would cheer the drooping spirit of many a gallant old Marine. The noble Lord moved "That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into her serious consideration the expediency of adopting some plan to accelerate promotion generally in the corps of Royal Marines, so that it may keep pace in a fair and equitable degree with those branches of her Majesty's forces whose system of promotion is progressive; and also to take the case of the captains of the Royal Marines into her Majesty's consideration, with a view of placing them on the same footing as those of her Majesty's regiments of the Line; and likewise to provide some measure for the benefit and 240 relief of those first lieutenants of Marines who served during the late war."
§ Captain Boldero,
in rising to second the motion, said, that the able advocacy of the noble Lord had produced a great effect on the House last Session, and all parties had agreed that the marines had received very little kindness or generosity from the country, that they were an injured body of officers. When the noble Lord had formerly brought the subject under the consideration of the House, he did not press his motion to a division for two reasons. In the first place, the hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Admiralty, declared that he would take such proceedings as would satisfy the views of the noble Lord; and, secondly, because many thought that the motion infringed on the prerogative of the Crown. After a lapse of some time, there was an order in council, the object of which was to reward worn-out and meritorious officers, and to enable the marines to keep pace in a fair and equitable degree, with other officers employed in her Majesty's service, whose promotion was progressive. Thirty-six officers were allowed to retire on pensions in a short time afterwards, but in their places only twenty were promoted, thereby diminishing the number of future casual promotions by sixteen. There was no chance of preferment for the middle branches, and the corps was absolutely in worse circumstances now than it was last year. The officers were reduced, and from the pay of the colonel commandant, 100l. a-year had been taken away, whilst lieutenant colonels were appointed to the rank of colonels, without any additional pay. The Marines, it should be understood, were not considered a separate corps, until after the siege of Gibraltar, when through their valour, that fortress became the property of England by conquest, although it appeared to belong to Spain, by the map of Europe. After the mutiny at the Nore, the conduct of the marines received the royal approbation on account of their bravery and loyalty, and they were honoured with the title of "The Royal Marine Corps." They were then placed on the same footing with officers of the line, but since then, from the year 1814 to 1820, no promotions had taken place. Some time since, he moved for returns of promotion in the Artillery and Engineers, which were produced. He also moved for similar returns of the promotions 241 in the marine corps, but could not get any list. At the conclusion of the American war, eleven officers were killed, but the vacancies were not filled up. In the army and the navy, those officers who had distinguished themselves in general actions, generally found their conduct recognized as a claim to favour and advancement; but in the memorable engagement of Trafalgar, although 100 officers of marines were present, one captain only was advanced to a brevet majority. By a Committee of the House it had been decided, that all sinecures which fell in from the marine service should be divided between naval and marine officers; but although the sum of 4,190l. 11s. 8d. had fallen in, 300l. only had been given to two officers of the latter corps, one of whom had been fifty-five years, the other fifty-six, in the service. He thought that more field-officers should be employed. In the Mediterranean, there were 1,000 marines embarked in our ships, but there was no field-officer. In Pembroke dockyard, there was only one major to 200 men. In Spain, where there were 1,200 men, there was only one field-officer, and to the valour of these men he was sure the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster would bear ample testimony. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by saying that the officers of marines were not actuated by any invidious or jealous feeling towards the officers of the navy, or the ordnance, and in setting forth their own claims, did not wish to detract from the merits of others.
§ Mr. C. Wood
said, that no blame could attach to the Government for the non-promotion of officers of the marines, as it was the custom in that corps, as in the Artillery, that all advancement should be decided by seniority, and not by any brilliancy of achievement in the service. Before he stated his objections to the motion of the noble Lord, he would refer to what had fallen from the noble Lord and the hon. and gallant Member, as to what he had stated last year to the House. He had stated last year, when the noble Lord brought forward his motion, that the subject was under the consideration of the Admiralty; and though it would have been imprudent for them, having so recently come into office, to adopt any decisive measures, yet long before the noble Lord's motion, the subject had been under the consideration of the board, and 242 measures had been taken to carry out the Order in Council. Knowing, at the time, that there was a considerable number of inefficient officers, it was usual to have some report on that point, and the Physician General of the Forces, and the Adjutant General of Marines had been called upon to report what officers were inefficient for duty; and every officer they reported unfit for duty had been placed on the retired list on the full pay of his rank. It was utterly impossible to go further than that, unless they had put in retirement officers able and unwilling to retire. He could not understand how the noble Lord made out his statement, for the retirements on full pay amounted to 9,617l. a-year—he alluded to officers who had retired under the Order in Council of July. The number of officers was two colonels, three lieutenant colonels, one major and two captains, and the amount of their pay was 9,617l. a-year, and every inefficient person had been removed. It was true that, in the opinion of some officers of the marines, other of their superior officers might be considered unfit; but if the character of superior officers was to be ascertained by the opinion of the juniors, who were interested in the matter, a very large proportion of the senior officers of the corps would have to retire on the actual pay of their rank, a mode which he thought would not be satisfactory to the House or the country, and he was sure it would not be just. This measure provided for the retirement of all those who were unfit for the service. The next step of the Admiralty was to provide greater means of retirement. The more retirements took place from the head of the corps, the better for the junior officers. Before the Order in Council, the number of retired commandants was two, now it was eight. The House would not sanction a measure which would compel officers to retire who were willing to do duty; but unless they forced officers to retire, they could not increase further the number of retirements. They had, however, increased the number of retirements from two to eight, the lieutenant-colonels from three to four, the captains from twenty to twenty-nine, and they had allowed full pay to second lieutenants. The next step was to give rank to officers. The second commandant was a lieutenant-colonel, not with a lieutenant-colonel's pay, but with a higher rate of pay; and, by way of accelerating promo- 243 tion, they gave officers, without increase of pay, the rank of colonel, and they increased the lower ranks. And when he stated to the House the effect of this, the House would be of opinion, that nothing could be so inopportune as for the noble Lord to bring forward this motion, and to complain of want of promotion. Take the 1st of January, 1838; there were four colonel commandants, all of whom had been promoted since the 1st of January, 1837. There were four second commandants, all of whom had been promoted since the same time to the rank of colonel. There were thirteen lieutenant-colonels, twelve of whom had been promoted since the 1st of July, 1837; there were ninety -two captains, of whom twenty-three had been promoted since the same time; and one hundred and twenty-four first lieutenants, of whom forty-seven had been promoted since the same time. These were the effects of the measure, and yet the House had been told there had been no promotion. Was there any officer in the House acquainted with promotion in any corps, who could say, that there had been any thing like such promotion as had been the effect of this order in Council obtained by the Admiralty? It was true that they did, at the same time, reduce, to a certain extent, the number of officers in the corps, because they did not think themselves justified in keeping up such a number of officers at an expense of 5,000l. a-year. But when the hon. and gallant Member compared the marine officers with the officers of the line, he forgot the difference between the two services. Out of the 9,000 marines, 1,300 or 1,400 were employed in small ships, in which there was no officer with them of the rank of captain. Even in line-of-battle-ships, where there were 100 marines, there was not always a captain with them. When they reduced the number of captains, therefore, it was because, considering the number of men, they could not accelerate promotion at so large an expense. When a comparison was instituted between one service and another, the House would also consider the different circumstances of the corps. The pay of a captain of marines was less than that of a captain of the line by 1s. ld. a-day; but consider the different circumstances of the two, and the expenses to which the latter was subjected, which made a total difference between the two services. But if the comparison was 244 good as to one service, it was good as to another, and compare the pay of a captain of marines with that of a lieutenant in the navy, who was of equal rank. The difference between the pay of a lieutenant in the navy and a captain of marines was 4s. a-day. A captain of marines had 10s. 6d.; a lieutenant in the navy only 6s. 6d.; one comparison was as just as another, and it would be as just to raise the pay of the lieutenant of the navy to that of the captain of marines, as to raise the latter to that of a captain of the army. He had stated thus much, because he had felt it necessary to show the House that the Admiralty had adopted efficient measures to improve the situation of these officers, and he was at a loss to know what further steps could have been taken to accelerate promotion, unless there had been a total departure from the principle of seniority. He would now state the grounds on which he resisted the motion of the noble Lord. When the noble Lord made his motion last year, and when he made his statement that the subject was under the consideration of the Admiralty, a right hon. and gallant Member, not now in his place, had reproached him for not having resisted it on the ground that it interfered with the prerogative of the Crown. He was as ready as any one to stand up for the prerogative of the Crown, but he did not think it necessary to drag it on all occasions before the House. But on the present occasion, when the noble Lord, in his (Mr. Wood's) opinion, and he hoped in the opinion of the House, repeated his motion, he was compelled to resist it, on the ground that it was a direct interference with the prerogative of the Crown, with which the House had no right to interfere. He was especially bound to take this course on the present occasion, when a motion of this description was made, because, by reference to the motions of the last and present Session, it would be seen, that hon. Members had brought forward motions which did interfere with the military services. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had a motion respecting officers of the navy; the noble Lord now brought forward a motion respecting the pay and promotion of the marines; and the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport a motion respecting punishment in the navy. What would be the consequence if the House were to take up all these questions? If the promotion, the rate of pay, and the 245 punishment of the army were to be taken from the Crown by the House—if the House was prepared to adopt and to sanction these motions, it would be taking away the prerogative which was the right of the Crown by the law and the Constitution, and it would endanger the establishments of this country if such a course were permitted. He should resist the motion of the noble Lord, because it was an interference with the prerogative of the Crown, according to the practice of the House, and the constitution of the country. If hon. Members were to take up such cases (not individual cases, which they had a right to take up)—if hon. Members took up such cases for the sake of obtaining some temporary popularity, or for the purpose of gaining popularity amongst a particular class, where no responsibility attached to them, great unfairness would necessarily arise; because if the noble Lord on this occasion took up the case of the Marines, and if the House sanctioned this, and if an hon. Member brought forward such a motion with respect to some other branch, it would cause the greatest confusion. 'With regard to the motion of the noble Lord, he resisted it on the ground that it was a direct interference with the royal prerogative, and the House could not adopt the motion consistently with the constitution.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that when the hon. Member talked of this being an unconstitutional course, he would tell him what he did not seem to know, that it was the constitutional duty of the House, if any case came to the knowledge of a Member in which any part of the public money had been improperly applied, to bring it before the House. If the services of the Marine corps were compared to those of other branches of the military force it must be admitted in the House, as it had been admitted out of the House, that justice had not been done to the Marines in the granting of honours and promotions to the officers. If any man would take the trouble to look into the matter, he would find that this corps had been very unjustly treated, though none was more deserving of rewards and encouragements. He had said as much on a former occasion; and one cause of the neglect which the officers of the Royal Marines had suffered was, that they had not so many friends among the aristocracy as the other services had. He certainly did think that the Govern- 246 ment had done right in carrying into effect the improvements and promotions of last year, and he did not rise to complain of them for doing so. But he did complain that the Secretary of the Admiralty should object to the motion of the noble Lord, that it would interfere with the prerogatives of the Crown. To make the service efficient was the object of the motion. The corps at present was not efficient, but it ought to be. On the score of economy it ought to be rendered efficient, otherwise whatever money it cost was a wasteful expenditure. The paltry addition of 13d. a-day was not worth consideration. It was impossible that men could go on always without hopes of promotion. The Marine officers had suffered long and patiently. What must be the feelings of men who had become old in the service in the Marine corps, when they saw officers of the line promoted to posts of honour, and even made field officers, who were scarcely born, when they, as marine officers had served their country many years and now remained as they were then? A sense of justice and humanity ought to dictate a better policy towards these men. If there were no vacancies in the retired list, let some inducements be held out to make men accept of retirement. As the hon. Baronet, the chairman of the East India Company, was in the House, he (Mr. Hume) hoped he would tell the House how the company treated their corps of soldiers whether in actual service or not. He was always an advocate for economy, but he did not support that kind of economy which disregarded the claims of men who had done their duty to the country honourably and efficiently. It was unjust to let such men grow grey in the service without receiving those rewards to which they were entitled. He should be sorry to see promotions and rewards carried on in the same ratio as it was in the land service; but he thought that there was a medium between the two. It was impossible that officers in the Marine corps could be content unless they received the same pay, the same encouragements, and the same promotions as the officers in the land-service. He thought the motion, so far from being objectionable, was one of the least objectionable motions that had ever been introduced into that House. It was "That an humble address be presented to Her Majesty praying her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into her 247 serious consideration the expediency of adopting some plan to accelerate promotion generally in the corps of Royal Marines." What objection could there be to that proposition, seeing, that promotion in that corps had been proverbially slow? Was it an interference with the prerogative of the Crown to do an act of justice? The motion was a very proper one, according to his view of it, and he thought the Admiralty would do well to pay attention to the statements which had been made by the noble Lord.
§ Sir C. B. Vere
said, that it had always appeared to him that the neglect of the interests and claims of the officers of the Royal Marine corps was not only an act of injustice to them, but a great injury to the public service of the country. The present motion was certainly not so objectionable in form as that which was brought forward last year for a Committee of inquiry into this subject. He wished to suggest to the noble Lord, that he should not carry out the whole of the address, but only adopt this portion of it, "That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into her serious consideration the expediency of adopting some plan to accelerate promotion generally in the corps of Royal Marines, so that it may keep pace in a fair and equitable degree with those branches of her Majesty's forces whose system of promotion is progressive." He would stop there, because then there would be no particular mode pointed out; nothing objectionable would then be contained in the address; but her Majesty would see that justice done to that noble corps which they all wished, in such a way as it might please her Majesty to direct. He was persuaded that the House would recollect when the subject was brought forward last year, although the noble Lord withdrew his motion, because it was promised that it would be taken into consideration, it was spontaneously approved of by the House, and that the whole House agreed that it was a question which ought to be favourably entertained. The hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Admiralty however, undertook, on the part of the Admiralty, that it should be made a subject of inquiry, with a view to some satisfactory arrangement. It was then decided by the House that it was desirable that such a step should be taken, and that there 248 was no intention to limit the expense on the part of the House. He had now the pleasure to find that the hon. Member for Kilkenny was disposed to treat the subject with the same liberality, and that he would not object to see an item placed on the estimates for that purpose, and he was sure that no other hon. Gentleman would make any objection. The hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for the Admiralty, had stated that a great deal had been done already. That was true. But certainly not to that extent of liberality which the cases of these men deserved. He thought the intention of the House was, that saving money should not be the only consideration attended to in this case, but that the object desired should be accomplished by an expenditure equal to the case, though without doubt a proper economy should be exercised. He hoped some measure would be adopted which would not limit or reduce the number of officers, but which would maintain an adequate number, in order to continue promotions progressively and steadily, because if the promotions were made from the lower and middling classes, without any concurrent arrangements with regard to appointments, the promotions must entirely cease. An instance had been mentioned already by an hon. and gallant Gentleman, of two lieutenants, who had served in the late war, and who distinguished themselves in the action between the Shannon and the Chesapeake. They did not obtain any distinction or reward whatever. Perhaps it was not in the power of the First Lord of the Admiralty to bestow any on them, but a promise was given that they should succeed to some staff appointments, meaning certain small staff appointments, which were the only things to which the officers of marines could look to with any degree of certainty. Of those two officers, one was still living; the other died some years ago. But the one who was still living, was still a lieutenant. [An hon. Member: He has been promoted.] If he had been promoted it was only very recently, because it was not long since he had seen and conversed with the commander of the Shannon on the subject, who had taken great pains to get him the promised appointment, but without success. He hoped the motion of the noble Lord for the address, as far as be (Sir C. B. Vere), had stated, would be supported by the House.
§ Lord A. Lennox
rose to say a few words in reference to what had fallen from his hon. Friend, the Secretary for the Admiralty, who, if he mistook not, had charged his noble Relative with seeking for popularity by bringing forward his motion. He thought it ill became his hon. Friend to make that charge, because he was convinced that the only object which his noble Relative had in view was to do justice to a gallant and most meritorious corps. His hon. Friend, the Secretary for the Admiralty, appeared to suppose that the navy estimates would pass without any thing being said with regard to the naval service; but he thought the hon. Gentleman was mistaken. It appeared from the navy estimates, which he held in his hand, that there was the sum of 4,490l. arising from appointments which had fallen in, and in lieu of which pensions were to be granted. He wished to guard against stating anything which would seem by possibility to attribute a want of respect to the army, of which he was a member, or to the navy, or the artillery; but he wished to see the marines placed on an equal footing with the other branches of her Majesty's forces. It was, however, a very different case with the officers of the army, who obtained each step of advancement by purchase. What he alluded to more particularly was the Ordnance corps. Looking at the sum of money he had just mentioned, he was led to ask why it was that only two officers of marines received pensions of 150l. a-year? ["No, no, it is 300l."] There were two major-generals on the list each receiving 300l. a-year. Now everybody knew that a major general of marines ranked with a rear admiral of the navy; but there were two rear admirals at the bottom of the list who received 300l. a-year each, while the former got only half the amount, though one of them was seventeen years, and the other twenty-two years senior to those rear admirals. He did think that his noble Relative had made out a case for the consideration and support of the House. He found that case supported by even the hon. Member for Kilkenny, who, in regard to public expenditure was the greatest screw in the House. He hoped the House would adopt the motion of his noble relative.
§ Sir E. T. Troubridge
wished to make some remarks with regard to the survey of the Royal Marine Corps which had taken 250 place, because he had been connected with it, he having, in company with the Physician General of the Navy, and the Adjutant General of Marines, inspected the corps with a view to ascertain its real condition. He knew well the merit of this distinguished corps in every service in which they had been engaged, and if he were to act on his own determination, he would give a bonus in every case. It had been reported that some of the officers were inefficient. When he went to inspect the corps he found that those reports were incorrect. One lieutenant-colonel who had been reported inefficient, was found mounting his horse to put his corps through their movements. He was asked whether he had any complaint to state, or whether any of his officers were inefficient; he replied that they were most efficient. Four or five years ago, a captain was stated to be ill and enfeebled by age, and he was asked to retire; when the case was examined, he (Sir T. Troubridge) found that the captain could walk twenty miles a-day, that his age was only forty, and that he was able and healthy. But when he found an officer inefficient, he had reported him, and removed him, and appointed another. If the House wished to do justice to one party, however, it ought to do justice to all parties, and have regard to the subordinate officers as well as to their superiors. It had been said, that a captain of marines received 13d. a-day less than a captain of the line, but it had been lost sight of and forgotten, that officers of the marines, when embarked, received rations or their provisions in addition to their pay. He trusted that from his manner of addressing the House on the present occasion, it would not be supposed that he was seriously objecting to any improvement on the marine corps, nothing could be further from his wish: but at the same time lie had other duties and claims upon him, and from those duties he would never in any situation shrink, however painful they might be. He should gladly unite with the noble Lord in advancing the interests and advantages of the gallant corps which was the subject of the present motion, but there were many other branches of the service equally deserving. There was another point to which he wished to call the attention of the House, that since the promotions which had taken place since last Session, promotions to an extent un- 251 precedented in any branch of the public service, the effects thereby produced had not yet been seen in the divisions of the marines. If he might be permitted to speak his private and individual feelings on this occasion, his wish would be that before the House came to a vote on this subject, the case should receive fair consideration, aided by the production of the papers which would show the effects of the recent promotions. By such a return, the real state of the question would be much better understood by hon. Members than at present was possible. His hon. Friend, the Secretary for the Admiralty, had gone in detail into those promotions, and upon them it was not necessary for him to dwell further. His hon. Friend had also urged the point with regard to the interference with the prerogative of the Crown, and he certainly did think that this motion, if carried, would bring the whole executive of the country, the Horse Guards, the Admiralty, under the controul of this House, and he thought it would be better at once that regular Committees should be formed to regulate the whole of the services. That would be much better than that fault should thus be found with those by whom those affairs were administered. Admitting to the fullest extent the gallantry of the corps in question, he entreated the House to pause and consider well before it took into its hands the executive administration of all the services, which would be most detrimental to their efficiency.
Captain A' Court
did not rise for the purpose of going into details on the present occasion, but to express a hope that the claims of this most valuable corps would receive the fullest consideration on the part of her Majesty's Government. He should content himself with further observing, that whether in the presence of the enemy, or in cases of insubordination in the naval service, the Royal Marines had always evinced bravery and patriotism. He would only allude to the services recently at Hernani, of a battalion of marines, under the command of Colonel Owen, when they covered the retreat of the Legion, and did such good service. That fact, at least, showed that during the long peace, the energy and bravery of the corps had not been, in the least degree, impaired, and he hoped that in the distribution of honorary distinctions, now creating such a sensation in the country, the 252 services of Colonel Owen—a Queen's officer commanding the Queen's troops—would not be overlooked or forgotten.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that he thought the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down showed the extreme inconvenience of a motion like that now before the House. Was there any body who denied, or attempted to deny, the services—the eminent services—of the royal marines on all occasions when those services had been required. No man was more ready or willing than his hon. and gallant Friend near him (Sir T. Troubridge) to do full justice to that branch of the service, but at the same time, he and the House ought not to lose sight of the fact, that if the gallantry of the corps—if the reliance of the country on their services on future occasions—if the confidence of the country was to be reposed, it could not alone be confined to the corps of royal marines. His hon. Friend (Mr. C. Wood) had put this question on a proper footing,—namely, was the House disposed to undertake the duty of the administration of the active military service of the country? Were hon. Gentlemen opposite, who themselves were so much attached to the prerogative of the Crown, inclined on the present occasion to depart from the warning which had been given them by the right hon. and gallant Officer opposite, who, though not himself affected by this question, was an ornament to the profession? He alluded to the right hon. and gallant Member for Launceston. Was the House disposed on the present occasion to throw that authority aside, and to undertake for itself to say what ought to be the state of promotion in any branch of the service? The House was fully entitled to know the improved state of promotion in the corps of Royal Marines, and he was fully prepared to move for the production of documents to show that result; but if the House would undertake to affirm by a single vote, unaccompanied by more of deliberation than had taken place to-night—absolutely to affirm that this corps should be placed in a different relative position from other branches of the service, then the House would interfere with the prerogatives of the Crown, and establish a most dangerous precedent. Slowness of promotion had been complained of in this corps. Now, what had been the result since the order in council in July last? There being four colonels commandant, the full number had been made up; of lieutenant- 253 colonels, the full number being thirteen, twelve had been filled up; of captains, the full number being ninety-two, twenty-three promotions had been made, forming one-fourth of the whole; and the number of first lieutenants being 124, forty-seven had been promoted, being two-fifths of the whole. Now there was no branch of the public service in which, during four times the length of period, such an extent of promotion had taken place. Certainly, in the civil department, there had not been one-tenth part of this promotion. But with regard to the marine force, his hon. Friend near him (Mr. C. Wood) had stated, that by a former Board of Admiralty in 1834, there had been a very considerable promotion in this body, and he defied hon. Gentlemen opposite, who knew any thing of the other professions, to prove that there could be exhibited such a rapidity of promotion in those professions as had been stated to-night in reference to the marine corps. The hon. and gallant Officer who spoke second in the debate (Captain Boldero) had alluded in terms of just commendation, undoubtedly, to the recent conduct of the marine forces on the coast of Spain. He could have wished that the hon. and gallant Member had been satisfied with praising the marine force, instead of indulging in an attack on another service in the absence of their commander, who, if present, he did not doubt would have been able to give an answer to it. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had appealed to the Chairman of the East India Company as to the payment of the officers in the Company's service, but if a comparison between the East India Company's and the Queen's service were instituted and the latter were to be fashioned after the former, the Government of her Majesty would have to produce estimates of a very different character. He would take one instance as an example. What did the establishment of the East India Company at St. Helena, at the time of its surrender, cost that body? About 96,000l. a-year. Now he believed that the establishment proposed by her Majesty's Government would come within two-thirds of that amount. He spoke from memory; but he believed that the maximum of the expense of the establishment would not exceed 30,000l. per annum. He mentioned this not in blame of the East India Company, but only to show that there could not have been a more inappropriate comparison. But on this occasion her Ma- 254 jesty's Government was placed in a most extraordinary situation. Generally speaking, on questions like the present, a charge suggested against the Government was one of extravagant profusion, of an undue attempt to extend their patronage and of their means of influence. What was the case here? Why, the Government were charged with not appointing a field officer to the dock-yard at Pembroke. Now this did not show that they were keeping up the force for the purpose of patronage or promotion, for no hon. Member had said that the corps of Royal Marines, at the present moment, was not adequate and ready to perform its duty to the country. Would, then, the House consent to establish a new rule for this corps which would affect all the other branches of the military service of the country? Could it be denied that the true policy was to maintain a military, a naval, an artillery, and a marine force equal to the defence of the honour and the rights of England, and not that the establishment should be kept up with a view to the claims of any branch of the service for past services? What had been the course since the termination of the war? Had the army that fought at Waterloo been kept up, and the navy that won the victory of Trafalgar been maintained? Certainly not; but the establishment had only been maintained in proportion to the wants of the country. He asked hon. Members, and particularly his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Goulburn) to consider whether they would be disposed to sanction this interference with the prerogatives of the Crown. He asked them if they were disposed to lay down this principle of an interference in the promotion of the army, the navy, and the admiralty, and even he would go to the extent, which must follow, of an interference with the promotion in reference to the administration of justice by the House of Commons, if this motion were entertained? He would suppose that, for the sake of a vote, hon. Members opposite would sacrifice that principle; but even supposing that for a moment, would they decide without knowing the new facts affecting the case? And he would bring that to a test by moving an amendment on the motion of the noble Lord. Hon. Gentlemen, whoever they might be, who were in favour of that motion, ought to be in favour of the amendment, which had for its object the production of matter which would bring to the attention of the House 255 the actual facts of the case. Her Majesty's Government had been charged with the non-redemption of the pledge which they gave last Session. The hon. and gallant Officer opposite (Sir C. B. Vere) had said, that he would support the motion of the noble Lord, provided the latter clause of that motion were left out. The hon. and gallant Officer made a distinction in words, but not in substance, and therefore he presumed that his judgment would be the same as formerly. Now, last year the question was for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the state of the marine service. That motion was brought forward by the noble Lord who had brought forward the present motion, and what was the present motion? It was this:—To call the attention of the House to the slow promotion of the officers of the Royal Marines, and to move that an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into her serious consideration the expediency of adopting some plan to accelerate promotion generally in the corps of Royal Marines, so that it may keep pace in a fair and equitable degree with those branches of her Majesty's forces whose system of promotion is progressive; and also to take the case of the captains of the Royal Marines into her Majesty's consideration, with a view of placing them upon the same footing as those of her Majesty's regiments of the line; and likewise to provide some measure for the benefit and relief of those first lieutenants of the Royal Marines who served during the late war.Now, would any man say, that that was not a more distinct interference with the prerogatives of the Crown than any Committee of Inquiry could be? Suppose that address to be carried, was it possible for the Crown to do otherwise than to carry into effect the declared wishes of the House of Commons? But, suppose a Committee had been appointed to inquire into the matter, would the report of that Committee, even if adopted by the House, be as stringent on the royal prerogative as an address, moved in and adopted by that House, and carried to the foot of the Throne? He contended that it was a principle of the monarchy under which they lived, that promotion in these branches of the public service should proceed from the Crown, and not from Parliament. If a contrary principle were laid down, where was Parliament to stop? If adopted, it would place the Crown in the position of ratifying or adopting the decisions of the House of Commons—a position in which he was sure no hon. Gentleman 256 would wish to see the Crown placed. The principles would divest the Crown of its best prerogative, and compel the military profession to look to that House, and not to the Crown. He objected to the motion—first, as being an interference with the royal prerogative; and, secondly, on the narrower grounds of the want of information before the House; and therefore he should move, as an amendment on the motion of the noble Lord, for a "return of copies of the order in council, dated July, 1837, with reference to the corps of Royal Marines, and of the effects of the promotions thereunder."
§ Captain Boldero,
in explanation, begged to observe, that the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had thrown out a suggestion that he (Captain Boldero) had made a remark reflecting on the character of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. He begged to assure the right hon. Gentleman that he had never wished to allude in the slightest degree to the character or conduct of that hon. and gallant Officer. All he had done was to ask for the vote of the hon. and gallant Officer in favour of the motion of the noble Lord, and accompany that vote with a declaration to the House of the value of that corps from whose services he had received so much benefit. It had been said that this motion had been brought forward in order to court the favour of constituencies. He begged leave to deny, that he had been actuated by any such motives, or that he had a single voter who could be benefitted by the motion which he had thought it his duty to that branch of the service to support.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman had misconceived him, if he supposed that he had imagined the hon. and gallant Gentleman to have cast any reflection on the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. His observation was, that the hon. and gallant Member having made the statement that the marines did their duty on the occasion to which he alluded, might have confined his praise to them without attacking other corps, in the absence of one who was best able to defend their conduct. He had never supposed that the hon. and gallant Member had in any way alluded to the conduct of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster.
§ Sir A. J. Dalrymple
wished to guard himself in the vote which he should give 257 on the present occasion, from being supposed to interfere with or to infringe upon the prerogatives of the Crown. His hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Sir E. T. Troubridge) had said, that sooner than this motion should be entertained the subject matter should be left for the adjudication of Committees of that House. Now, he, for one, would ever raise his voice against such an interference on the part of this House with the royal prerogatives in naval and military matters. He did not look at this matter in that point of view, though he was free to confess that it involved a question which he did not approach without some feeling of difficulty. He was not in Parliament last year; but it appeared to him, that though a great deal had been done, both with regard to the increase of pay and also to the regulations regarding retirements and promotions, still the advantage to the marine corps had not been so great as had been stated, and therefore he should support the address, with the exception of the latter part, which had been objected to by the hon. and gallant Member for Suffolk (Sir C. B. Vere).
§ Sir J. R. Carnac
hoped he might be permitted to offer a few observations to the House. He could not think that any argument was necessary, to show that a corps like the Royal Marines ought to be placed in a situation equal to that of any other branch of the service. The officers of marines complained that they were labouring under disadvantages which did not affect officers of regiments of the line, of the artillery, of the engineers, or of the navy. They complained of the slowness of promotion. Could any one deny that fact? During the last five years, of the officers promoted to the rank of colonels commandant, the youngest had been fifty-eight years in the service. The senior lieutenant colonel promoted had served forty-two years, the senior major forty years, and several of the senior captains were of the same standing. But the hon. Secretary for the Admiralty had told the House that by the orders in council of last year, a boon had been conferred on this corps, and promotions had been accelerated to a degree never before known in any branch of the service. Look at the facts. It was found, that even after this boon had been given, the senior lieutenant was forty-five years in the service, and the same gradation took place in all 258 lower ranks. Now, when it was seen that a gallant officer was compelled to look to the higher ranks and emoluments of his profession, through the long and gloomy vista of a series of years through which few men could hope to live—when it was remembered that there was no permanent provision for those officers, he trusted the House would be convinced that the service would be anything but attractive to the youthful aspirant for distinction, and under the present system afforded a prospect the most deplorable. The officers of the royal marines asked no favour. They only desired to be placed on a footing of equality with other branches of the service. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had travelled into a comparison of the expenses of the East India Company, and had sneered at the expenses of the St. Helena establishment. That was a question with which this House had nothing to do. It was true, that, on the subject of civil services, the right hon. Gentleman was competent to form a judgment, but he did not think that he was acquainted with all the details of a military establishment. He knew, that the efficiency of the Indian army had been destroyed by the slowness of its promotion. That was the present case of the marine force of her Majesty. The East-India Company had not been disposed to be extravagant, but they found it necessary, for the efficiency of their army, to make arrangements for the acceleration of promotions, and those arrangements were, that every subaltern officer, after twenty years' service, should be entitled to the full pay of a captain; after twenty-four years, to the full pay, for life, of a major; after twenty-eight years' service, to the full pay of a lieutenant-colonel; and after he had served thirty-two years, to the full pay of a colonel. He felt it his duty to stand up there and deliver his sentiments. Some such arrangements ought to be made with respect to the marine forces of the Crown. He cordially concurred in the motion of the noble Lord, and he trusted that it would meet with that support to which it was justly entitled.
§ Mr. Goulburn
did not wish to prolong the debate, but merely to state the reason why he should support the amendment of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer in preference to the motion of the noble Lord. He would not have it understood, however, that, in taking that course, 259 he was insensible to the great merits of the corps of the royal marines—a corps, whose achievements had been acknowledged, not for the first time, in that House, this night. Nor did he mean to imply, by his vote, that the position of that corps was precisely that which, after full examination of the question by the Government, it had a right to expect and ought to be placed in. But he knew from experience, questions of so great difficulty as this, affecting the regulations of the different branches of the public service, ought not, because some discrepancies existed in the system, which discrepancies, when stated to a popular assembly, were calculated to enlist in favour of that branch of the public service, a large portion of the public sympathy, to be decided by such feelings. He thought, after the declaration which had been made by the Government last Session, evincing an anxiety to take measures for an improvement of the system, that the House had a full right to be informed of the measures which had been taken, not on the mere statement of an individual Member of this House, but in such a shape as would enable every Member of the House to form an opinion what the value of the additional advantages were to the corps in question. On other grounds there would be great inconvenience in acceding to the address without full knowledge of all the facts, and for these two reasons, without further trespassing on the House, he should give his vote in support of the amendment of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Sir H. Vivian
said, God forbid that he, an old soldier, should get up in his place to detract from the claims of one of the most meritorious corps in her Majesty's service. The grounds on which he wished to appeal to the House were very simple. He knew what difficulties they had in meeting the claims put forward by the different corps of the army for promotion. If they were to accede to the motion of the noble Lord, the consequence would be, that persons would be constantly coming down to the House with petitions from officers of every corps in the service. He earnestly hoped, therefore, that the House, instead of agreeing to the motion of the noble Lord, would vote for the amendment of his right hon. Friend.
§ Captain Pechell
hoped the House would beware of the statement of the right hon. 260 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had brought all the weight of official language to bear on the unfortunate marines. The right hon. Gentleman had treated them most unmercifully. He would contend that the marines ought to be put on the same footing as the other corps of the army. The Board of Admiralty had done much for them, but they were still in a very unfair position. Let not the House suppose, that because, at the late election for Portsmouth, a doctor in the royal marine corps had been a candidate, the marines were in very great prosperity. This was a rare case. He entreated the House to support the motion of his noble Friend, and he hoped they would not be led astray by the statement of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, but would insist that the marines should be placed on the same footing as other corps in the service.
§ Admiral Adam
said, that if the House interfered in the manner proposed by his noble Friend, the Member for Sussex, and took the power of promotion out of the hands of the Government, while it gave them nothing but the disagreeable duty of punishment or disapprobation, when called for, the efficiency of every part of the forces must be impaired.
§ Lord G. Lennox,
in reply, observed, that he was rather astonished to hear the gallant Admiral object to the terms of his motion, more especially as the gallant Admiral had said last year, in reference to this subject, that the course would be not to refer the matter to a Committee, but that the more constitutional mode would certainly be an address to the Crown. As a reference had been made to a private letter of his, he would be bold to mention the subject of a private conversation with the Secretary for the Admiralty. He had asked the hon. Gentleman for the orders in Council, and the hon. Gentleman's reply was, "There they are, you may see them, but we never have given them, and we never will." The Secretary for the Admiralty had said that thirteen captains had been promoted. Now, in fact, there were but twelve, but he would make him a present of one. But how stood the case with regard to these twelve? Two colonels had died—no thanks to the Admiralty for that. Then, one colonel had been made a major-general, and one had been made adjutant-general, so that there were but eight promoted after all. Mo- 261 tives had been attributed to him in the course of the debate by which his conduct had never been influenced. It had been said that he was anxious, by bringing forward this motion, to obtain popularity among his tenants and constituents. He did not seek for popularity more than any hon. Member of that House, and he was only actuated by a sense of what he felt to be right and just. He had but out constituent who was a marine officer, ant he was the doctor who lately stood for Portsmouth, in opposition to her Majesty's Government, but he should not be sorry to have a great many more of such supporters. As some objection had been entertained to the latter part of his motion, he was willing to stop at the word "progressive."
§ The House divided on the original motion curtailed according to Lord G. Lennox's statement:—Ayes 100; Noes 87 Majority 13.
|List of the AYES.|
|A'Court, Captain||Farnham, E. B.|
|Adare, Viscount||Forbes, W.|
|Alexander, Viscount||Freshfield, J. W.|
|Alsager, Captain||Gaskell, Jas. Milnes|
|Attwood, W.||Godson, R.|
|Attwood, M.||Gore, O. J. R.|
|Bagge, W.||Gore, O. W.|
|Bailey, J.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Bailey, J., jun.||Grimston, hon. E. H.|
|Barnes, Sir E.||Hale, R. B.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Hawkes, T.|
|Blackburne, I.||Hodgson, R.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Blair, J.||Holmes, W.|
|Blake, M. J.||Hotham, Lord|
|Bolling, W.||Houldsworth, T.|
|Borthwick, Peter||Houstoun, G.|
|Bradshaw, J.||Howard, R.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Bruges, W. H.||Hume, J.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Hurt, F.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Jackson, Sergeant|
|Campbell, Sir H.||Jenkins, R.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Johnson, General|
|Chandos, Marquess of||Knight, H. G.|
|Chaplin, Colonel||Leader, J. T.|
|Chetwynd, Major||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Lockhart, A. M.|
|Clayton, Sir W. R.||Logan, H.|
|Codrington, C. W.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Courtenay, P.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Craig, W. G.||Maidstone, Viscount|
|Dalrymple, Sir A.||Masters, T. W. C.|
|De Horsey, S. H.||Monypenny, T. G.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Neeld, J.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Neeld, J.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Norreys, Lord|
|Dundas, Capt. D.||O'Neil, hon. J. B. R.|
|Eliot, Lord||Pechell, Captain|
|Perceval, Colonel||Talfourd, Sergt.|
|Pringle, A.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Rippon, C.||Verner, Colonel|
|Rolleston, L.||Wakley, T.|
|Round, C. G.||Wallace, R.|
|Round, J.||Wemyss, J. E.|
|Rushbrooke, Colonel||Wodehouse, E.|
|Rushout, G.||Wyndham, W.|
|Seale, Colonel||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Sinclair, Sir G.||TELLERS.|
|Stewart, J.||Boldero, Captain|
|Stuart, H.||Lennox, Lord G.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adam, Admiral||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Murray, rt. hon. J. A.|
|Aglionby, Major||Palmerston, Viscount|
|Ainsworth, P.||Parker, J.|
|Alston, R.||Parnell, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Archbold, R.||Parrott, J.|
|Baines, E.||Pendarves, E. W. W.|
|Barneby, J.||Philips, M.|
|Blake, W. J.||Pinney, W.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Power, J.|
|Bridgman, H.||Price, Sir R.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Protheroe, E.|
|Brotherton, J.||Pusey, P.|
|Busfield, W.||Redington, T. N.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Rice, rt. hn. T. S.|
|Chalmers, P.||Rich, H.|
|Curry, W.||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Russell, Lord John|
|Dunlop, J.||Seymour, Lord|
|Fergusson, rt. hn. R. C.||Smith, R. V.|
|Finch, F.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Stanley, M.|
|Fitzsimon, N.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Fleetwood, P. H.||Steuart, R.|
|Gillon, W. D.||Stewart, J.|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Gordon, R.||Style, Sir C.|
|Goulburn, right hn. H.||Talbot, J. H.|
|Greenaway, C.||Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.|
|Grey, Sir G.||Thornley, T.|
|Hawes, B.||Turner, W.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Vivian, right hon. Sir R. H.|
|Howick, Viscount||Warburton, H.|
|Hurst, R. H.||Ward, H. G.|
|Hutton, R.||Westenra, hon. H. R.|
|Langdale, hon. C.||Williams, W. A.|
|Lefevre, C. S.||Wilshere, W.|
|Lynch, A. H.||Wood, C.|
|Maher, J.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Mahoney, P.||Yates, J. A.|
|Maule, hon. F.||TELLERS.|
|Melgund, Viscount||Stanley, E. J.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Troubridge, Sir T.|