§ Question again put, that the House resolve itself into a Committee of Supply.
§ Mr. Hume
had a few observations to make before the House went into Committee; and, as the hon. and gallant Member opposite was not in the House when the order of the day was read, he had no right now to go on. That to which he was anxious to call the attention of the House was a matter which really did belong to the order of the day, for it had direct reference to the public expenditure. For some years past he had seen, with regret, that the expenditure of the country had gone on increasing. It was very natural that gallant Officers on both sides of the House should contend for the extension and improvement of the services to which they belonged; but he was for reducing our expenditure to the lowest possible point. He held in his hand a return recently laid upon the Table of the House, from which some curious results might be deduced. When in 1822, Lord Bexley, being Chancellor of the Exchequer, the dead weight loan was made of 13,000,000l., there was a half-pay list civil and military of 5,000,000l., and that loan was then granted on the calculation that the accumulation of officers, who had served during the war, would, in the course of fifteen or twenty years, be so much re- 1188 duced, that the saving of pay then appropriated to them would he sufficient to pay off the loan. Certain rules were then laid down respecting pensions and promotions, which were to be so restricted as only to take place according to the wants of the service; from which great savings undoubtedly would have arisen, but they had never been adhered to. On the contrary, it appeared, that in every department, promotions had taken place to as great an extent as during the war; and now, seventeen years after that loan was raised, they had, within a few pounds, the same amount of dead weight as in 1822. The half-pay, civil and military, now amounted to 5,000,000l.—equal to the whole expense of the civil list, army, navy, ordnance, and every department of the State in 1792. This showed, clearly, that there must be something wrong in the system; and that unless some extensive and decided remedy were applied, the people never would get that relief which they had a right to expect. They had had peace, but with none of the blessings of peace, and with all the expenses of war. He, therefore, appealed to the house whether that was not a fitting opportunity for taking into consideration the whole question of the general expenditure of the country with a view to its reduction. He lamented that so little attention was paid to financial matters in that House. They were at present utterly ignorant of the fact whether they had a surplus or a deficiency of revenue. They did not know whether they had not a deficiency of from 2,000,000l. to 3,000,000l., and how the debt of last year had been paid. The estimates for the navy and army this year was 600,000l. more than last year, which again was 600,000l. more than the year preceding; where, then, were they to stop? How could any relief from taxation be expected if this system were persisted in? In 1836 the expenditure was 48,787,000l,; in 1837 it was 50,819,000l., and in 1838, 51,319,000l., showing an increase of expenditure in three years of more than two millions and a half. The revenue of 1836 amounted to 50,498,000l., in 1837 to 52,895,000l., and in 1838 to 50,592,000l., being only 97,000l. more than in 1836, while the expenditure was more than two and a half millions more than 1837–1838. From an official paper laid on the Table of the House, and made up to April, 1838, it appeared that the net revenue of the country was 46,096,000l., while the expendi- 1189 ture was 47,596,000l., showing an excess of expenditure over income of 1,500,000l., leaving altogether out of view the expenses which had been occasioned in Canada. When the proper accounts were furnished, he had no doubt it would be seen that the excess of expenditure over income last year was upwards of 2,000,000l. sterling. Under these circumstances, he thought he was justified in calling upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give some account of the state of the revenue up to the present time, and of the mode in which he proposed to make up the deficiency. With an empty Treasury, and a deficiency of two or three millions, they should certainly have no more reckless expenditure; nor should they, like spendthrifts, be unwilling to look at the real state of their accounts. Government ought no longer to allow the public credit to remain in its present doubtful condition; they should be compelled to give the requisite explanations before a single shilling of the estimates was voted. If the deficiency could not be made up by revenue, the next question was whether the House was prepared to sanction a new loan, which must always impose additional taxes on the people? He thought, he had a peculiar claim upon the present Ministers to give the explanations he required, because, when he pointed out similar excesses under previous Governments, they had always joined him in his demand for further reductions. He complained, however, that when they themselves had the power they had not exercised it in making those reductions which the country had a right to expect. The expenditure had gone on increasing for the last three or four years, and yet there was an outcry in certain quarters for larger establishments. He should be glad to hear any reason why the naval and military establishments should be kept up to their present extent. In his opinion, a large portion of those establishments might be dispensed with, which were now merely kept up for useless parade and show; the army especially had one-third of officers more than any other army in the world. As the best way in which he could take the sense of the House upon this subject he should move to substitute the following resolution for the original motion:—That it appears, by an account laid on the Table of this House, that the net public income of the United Kingdom of Great Bri- 1190 tain and Ireland, in the year ended the 5th
day of April, 1838, was 46,090,544 And that the Expenditure in the same period was 47,519,076 Showing an Excess of Expenditure of £1,428,532over the income of the Country in the year up to that period:That the estimates of Army Services for the year 1838–39, were £6,062,216, and £6,199,810 for the year 1839–40, showing an increase of charge in this year of £137,600 more than in the past year:
More in this year than in the past:
"That the gross Estimate for Navy Services in the year 1838–9, was 4,960,911 Whilst the Estimates for the year 1829–40 are 4,459,374 Showing an excess of £498,463That, with such an apparent increase of £636,063, in the Estimates of the Navy and Army alone, more in this year than in the past, and with so large an excess of expenditure in the year ended the 5th day of April, 1838, it is expedient, before the House vote any part of the Supplies for either of these departments, that an account of the state of the Revenue and Expenditure of the country, made up as near to this period as it can be, should be laid on the Table of this House, with an explanation of the manner in which the excess of charge is to be provided.
§ Sir E. Codrington
was one of those who thought the present state of the navy insufficient to maintain the honour and interests of the country. He considered himself as competent a judge as any Lord of the Admiralty upon a question of this sort and his opinion was, and he was sure if the officers now employed could be brought to give their evidence they would coincide with him in the opinion, that the ships sent to sea were not in a condition creditably to do what in cases of difficulty would be expected of them. When he talked of a man-of-war, he meant a ship fully competent to perform all the duties that might be required of her, whether in battle or otherwise; but the complement of ships in the present day was not sufficient to enable them to do their duty to the flag under which they fought. He was prepared with a resolution upon the subject, which he would move to-morrow.
§ Captain Boldero
maintained that he had a better right to make the motion of which he had given notice than the hon. Member for Kilkenny, who had given no notice whatever. He was glad, how- 1191 ever, that he had given way, for he had been highly amused with his speech. He admired the consistency of the hon. Member, who, the other evening, after speaking against a grant of 2,500,000l. for railroads in Ireland, when it came came to the division voted in favour of the proposition, and now came forward with a motion to reduce the naval and military establishments of the country, when it was notorious, looking to the state of the world—with a war in India and a war in Spain—they required to be kept up in a much more effective state. With respect to the motion of which he had given notice it would be recollected that he had moved for a copy of an order in Council the other night, the production of which it was said would be an infringement on the prerogative of the Crown. The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty had issued to the Deputy-Adjutant-General an order, dated 12th July, 1837, which stated, that "no marine should be allowed a pension for length of service, except with reference to the length of his service at sea or abroad; that twenty-one years' service should be requisite to entitle him to a pension, that two years' service on shore should only reckon as one afloat, and that no marine should be entitled to a pension who had not in that time served ten years at sea or on foreign service." Was that order correct or was it not? [Mr. C. Wood "Yes"] Then here he took up his position to attack that order. Whoever penned it must have been ignorant of all the details of our sea-service. Such an order could not have emanated from the Lords of the Admiralty or from their Secretary; for those Gentlemen must of course be acquainted with all the details respecting the management of our navy. It must have originated with some of the clerks in the financial department: for no man, who knew any thing of the navy, would have ventured to subscribe his name to such a document. It was a moral impossibility to act upon such an order, either wholly or part. "No marine to be entitled to a pension unless he has served ten years at sea or on foreign service." Why, that would exclude from pension all persons connected with the staff of the marines—all the sergeant-majors, all the drill-majors, all the musicians—all the band. For instance, a sergeant-major might have served eight years afloat, and fourteen years at home, making altogether 1192 twenty-two years of service; but as a sergeant-major was never ordered upon sea service, or upon foreign service, he never would have a chance of earning a pension. The same was the case with the drill-sergeants. Now none of those officers could order themselves to sea. Moreover the band never went to sea. The effect of this order, then, would be, that men would prefer going to sea, to taking the situations either of sergeant-majors or of drill-sergeants, both of which were very necessary and had important services to fulfil. Again the artificers would be placed in the same melancholy condition. They were better engaged on shore than at sea, and yet they could never have pensions; for this order was imperative that "no marine should be entitled to a pension unless he had served ten years at sea, or on foreign service." Even if they were to serve for forty-two years, this order would debar them from all right to a pension. But it was said that the Lords of the Admiralty could interfere and could grant them one. Allowing that to be the case, the pension would only be one of suffrance; and he wanted to have the marines entitled to it as a matter of right. He wished to know whether the Lords of the Admiralty called service in a guard-ship, service at sea? [Mr. C. Wood, "Yes,"] He was delighted that they did so; and yet, harbour duty was not sea duty. There were generally 2,200 men on board guard-ships and on ordinary so that this declaration might work some alleviation of this rigid order in their favour. He wished the House to consider how this order would work in detail. For many years past the navy estimates had exhibited the number of marines under two heads—the marines on shore and the marines afloat. For the last twenty years we had had upon the average 9,000 marines. They were generally half-and-half, that is, half on shore, and half afloat. This year, 5,500 were afloat, and only 3,500 ashore; that is, about two-thirds of them are afloat, and one-third on shore. He contended that, under this system of alternately serving on sea and shore, no marine would be entitled to claim a pension of even 10d. a-day until he had been at least thirty-five years in the service. Was that either just or politic to so distinguished and pre-eminent a service in as the marines? The garrison duty of marines was equally heavy with that of the soldiers of the line, and the former was 1193 equal to the latter in manœuvring and every other species of service on shore. He regretted, that the pensions of our soldiers had been cut down from 1s. to 6d. a-day; but they were entitled to that pittance after a limited period of service. Why was not the marine, exposed as he was to peril and disease in every quarter of the globe, placed upon the same footing with the soldiers of the line? He called on the House to put the marine on an equality with the soldier or the sailor. He cared not with which, but, above all, not to allow him to remain, as he did at present, between both, without the advantages of either. There was one point connected with this order, to which he particularly wished to call the attention of the House, and of the Secretary of the Admiralty. This order had never appeared in the navy list. How was that? Was it because the Lords of the Admiralty were ashamed of it? He should be glad to hear that it was so; for they ought to be heartily ashamed of having issued an order which he could not help denouncing as a gross deception on the public. There was another grievance under which the marines laboured, and that was their great coats, or, he should rather say their want of great coats. In the army, the soldiers had new great coats every three years, and oftener if the severity of the service rendered it necessary, and that too, without paying for them by stoppages. At that rate a marine, who at sea required warmer clothing than a soldier on shore, ought to have at least ten great coats in thirty years' service. He had, however, no such thing. He received one great coat, and no more. Formerly, he had not even one great coat provided him. When he first joined, a great coat was handed to him; but for that great coat he was placed under stoppages. This made the men discontented, and led to many desertions. To put a stop to these desertions a great coat was given to the marines. But that was all, and he had no means of getting another when it was worn out. These were the two principal grievances of which the marines complained—the order in council and the great coats. There w re some other grievances which galled them, but they were only of a minor grade. He hoped, that the House had gone along with him in the observations he had made, and that it would be prepared to see full justice done to these gallant men, who had served in 1194 all parts of the globe with honour to themselves, and with advantage to their country.
§ Mr. G. Berkeley
would not detain the House a moment, as there was only one point upon which the hon. and gallant Gentleman had evidently been misinformed. He had the honour of belonging to the line, and he felt himself called upon to state, that the hon. and gallant Officer was much misinformed when he stated, that in the hour of danger the line had ever allowed the marines to take the lead. That was entirely a mistake.
§ Captain Pechell
felt, that he was obliged to agree in almost every word that had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member; but still he thought the gallant Officer would have been a better advocate had he dismissed from his mind all party feeling upon the question. Those on his side of the House were equally as anxious to serve the poor marine as those on the other side, and the hon. and gallant Member had got the start of them by his superior finesse. He trusted, that when the marines were on service in the guard-ships, that time so served would be allowed to count as sea-service.
§ Mr. C. Wood
said, the only object of Ministers in making the regulation complained of was, that marines and seamen should be put as nearly on the same footing as possible. The order in Council had arisen from the evidence of the right hon. and gallant Member for Launceston (Sir H. Hardinge) before the commission on military rewards and punishments, to which the attention of the Admiralty had been called. It was as follows:—"I do think that prospectively we shall have very great danger to this country, resulting from the restriction that limits the British soldier, with a severer duty than the marine soldier, to 6d. a-day prospectively, while it continues to the marine a pension of 1s." On inquiry, the Admiralty had found not only that the marine had an advantage above the soldier, but that he bad an advantage which it was not intended he should have above the seaman. This was not a pension in any case awarded to a person unable to continue in the service; it was given exclusively on the ground of length of service. No soldier had any right to his discharge from lengthened service alone; as a matter of favour, it was true, he was generally discharged after a certain period—twenty-five years in the case of the infantry, and twenty-seven or twenty-eight in that of the ca- 1195 valry. Now, seamen and marines always had a right to their discharge at the expiration of a certain number of years, which was fixed at twenty-one, counting generally from the age of twenty. The seaman was discharged after twenty-one years service with a pension, but it was twenty-one years service at sea. Great part of the marine's service was in barracks on shore, much less hard than the seaman's on board ship, or the soldier's, especially in the colonies; and if the full time of his service on shore were allowed in reckoning his claim to a pension, he would have an advantage over the seaman. There is also this essential difference. The marine, whose service is continuous, is sure of his pension at the expiration of twenty-one years. The seaman cannot ensure continuous service. Intervals of considerable duration may occur between his being paid off in one ship, and being entered in another; and a longer time therefore generally elapses before he can claim his discharge. In making a new arrangement it had been the desire of the Admiralty to preserve equality between the seaman and the marine; and he thought that, by the order its Council, the men of these services were placed as nearly as possible on the same footing. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite had considerably overstated the length of service required for a pension. He believed, that, henceforward, the seaman and marine would acquire a right to a pension after about the same period of years.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, that as he had been alluded to, he thought it due to the service to which he belonged to make a few observations. It was true, that he had stated, in his evidence before the commission to which the hon. Gentleman opposite had referred, that the soldiers of the line, who were exposed to so many hardships, and much ruin of constitution by service in unhealthy climates, would be extremely dissatisfied if they were only allowed a right to receive 6d. a-day after twenty-one years' service, unless in the case of an extremely good character; while marine soldiers had a right to 1s. a-day after twenty-one years' service, without reference to character or other contingent circumstances. He had said, that great discontent would he excited in the army, unless the arrangement giving so decided a preference to marines were altered. As the question of abolishing flogging was then under consideration, he felt, that they should look to rewards as well as punish- 1196 ment. He appealed to every man who knew what a navy or army was, whether this difference was not calculated to excite very great dissatisfaction. He had seen with great regret the reduction of the military pensions in 1833, and had strongly advised the Secretary-at-War against it. The revised warrant of 1833 reduced the pensions of private soldiers from 1s. to 6d. a-day after twenty-one years' service. He had a strong opinion against the measure at the time, in consequence of the dissatisfaction it would excite in the army, and he had determined to bring the question before the House in 1833, in order that he might do justice to the claims of soldiers, but had desisted from that purpose in consequence of a conversation he had had with the right hon. Gentleman near him, then First Lord of the Admiralty, who had represented the inconvenience which would be produced by such observations coming from a general officer. In 1831 and 1833 he had combatted the principle of the commutation of soldiers' pensions, telling the Secretary-at-War he was about to do that which would ruin a great number of old soldiers. He was called upon now to state his opinion on the subject of the warrant alluded to by the hon. and gallant Member. He understood the pension was still to remain at 1s. a-day, but the period of service had been so much lengthened as would prevent, in many instances, the attainment of the pension. He considered the marine soldier as one of the most valuable supports of the discipline of the ship, distinguished as that corps had always been for good conduct and subordination. In 1798 the army had only 6d. a-day, and shortly after the mutiny at the Nore it was increased to 1s. The warrant of 1806 gave great advantage to the army as regarded pensions, and the marines were then placed on the same footing as soldiers of the line. Up to 1815 the seamen had been very disadvantageously situated in this respect, but shortly after the peace anew scale of pensions for the sea service was adopted. By the present order of the Council a very imprudent step had been taken; the discipline of the fleet would be relaxed if the marines and seamen were placed an a different footing. By the warrant of 1833 great injury had been done to the army, and he felt, that the present order was unjust to the marines. He thought it would not answer to have different warrants for soldiers of 1197 the army, sailors, and marines, Every measure of preceding Governments had had for its object to assimilate the various services,
said, that the statement of the right hon. and gallant Officer was so completely and utterly erroneous, that it was calculated to do, and if it went forth to the country uncontradicted, it must do, great and irreparable injury to the public service. He greatly regretted, that the subject of pensions had been brought forward at all on the present occasion, when he did not expect that it would be gone into, and when he had not, therefore, come down supplied with the documents with which it was his duty to be supplied for the information of the House on such a subject, and which, had he anticipated the discussion, he should have felt it was most desirable to have with him, in order to make his reply to the remarks and assertions of the hon. and gallant Officer as full and satisfactory as possible. However, he felt very confident that the statement which he should have the honour to make would be substantially correct, and that statement he thought it very necessary that he should make, in consequence of the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, and in order to explain to the House the real circumstances of the change which had taken place with respect to the pension warrants in the British army. He believed the right hon. Gentleman would bear him out in stating, that in 1829, when the right hen, Gentleman came into the office of Secretary at War, the right hon. Gentleman found that the pension list of the army was yearly increasing; that the non-effective army was rapidly approaching to an equality in point of numbers with the effective army; and that the military budget was adding seriously to the burdens borne by the finances of the country. This the right hon. and gallant Officer saw, and, much to his credit, took effectual steps to check. Previously to the appointment of the right hon. and gallant Officer as Secretary at War, it bad been the practice in the army at once to dismiss the men from the service with pensions, as a matter of course, the moment they completed their twenty-one years of service. The consequence was, that in middle life (or nearly so in most cases), in full health and strength, the soldier was discharged on a pension nearly equal to the amount which he had received as pay on service, and thus he might continue, and did in 1198 numerous cases actually continue, for thirty years a burden on the country; that was to say, if the pay on service was 1s. a-day, on the man's discharge the country was saddled with a pension of 1s., or nearly so, per day for thirty years longer. The right hon. and gallant Officer had most properly refused to continue this system, and it was consequently settled, that no man should be entitled to his discharge until the proper medical officer certified that he was unfit for service. It was true the practice before the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's alteration was, that there should be an inspection previous to discharge; but, in fact, and in reality, at the end of twenty-one years the men got their discharge, in full health and strength, and left the army. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, as he had just stated, effected this reform, and required a medical certificate before discharge. But it was found in practice, that, notwithstanding this precaution, great abuses and great evils continued to prevail in the manner in which the men got their discharge. Men came up before the commissioners at Chelsea college for examination for discharge whose health was entirely destroyed by their own misconduct, particularly by the habit of intoxication, which was so unfortunately prevalent in the army. The consequence was, that men of dissolute habits, men who even were certificated as notorious drunkards, were discharged on pensions, and thus the bad soldier had an advantage over the soldier of regular habits, from the facility with which the former obtained his discharge and pension. The first got his pension early in life; the latter was kept on service for long periods, engaged perhaps, all the time, in arduous duties. His noble Friend near him, when Paymaster of the Forces, and in that capacity President of the Chelsea Commissioners, had had his attention forcibly called to this part of the subject; but the fact was, that to men of the worst possible character, even where they were described, in so many words, as notorious drunkards, the Chelsea Commissioners possessed no power to refuse that pension which they were unable to grant to the best soldiers. His noble Friend had very early seen the inconvenience to the service of this state of things, and had endeavoured to find means of cure. But it was curious to see, after the system of medical certificates introduced by the right hon. and gallant Officer opposite came into operation, how many soldiers just after 1199 turning their twenty-one years of service got discharged for chronic rheumatism. It was certainly most curious that the moment after turning twenty-one years chronic rheumatism should begin to prevail, and it became impossible to keep the men in the ranks. It was evident, therefore, from this, that attempts were continually making under the hon. and gallant Officer's system to get out of the army, and that his regulations did not, therefore, meet the evil complained of. It was felt, therefore, by his right hon. Friend, the present President of the Board of Control, when Secretary at War, that it was imperatively necessary to alter the system of the army pension list. That alteration had accordingly been made, and its principle was, that when the soldier at an early period of life was discharged, from mere disability to perform a soldier's duties, a less pension should be assigned him; but that the soldier who by regularity and good conduct had taken care of his health should, on his discharge, be entitled to a larger pension; and that the man who retired totally disabled from earning his livelihood should be entitled to a still larger pension. And now let the House remark the futility of the charges made by the right hon. and gallant Officer. Why even by the pension warrant passed under the administration of his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Control, the pension was 6d. a-day, when it was disability only which incapacitated the soldier from remaining in the service. If the disability was greater, the pension was raised to 9d. a-day, and might be still further raised, provided it did not exceed a maximum fixed. Therefore, it was not true that only 6d. a-day was allowed in pensions, as the right hon. and gallant Officer stated. He would not trouble the House much longer on this topic, but before he left the history of the warrant of 1833, he begged to revert to one observation of the right hon. and gallant Officer. He had said, that previous Governments to that of which be (Viscount Howick) was a member, had thought it necessary to carry all the departments of the Administration with them, when they made alterations of this kind. Now, the same course was followed by his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Control, when Secretary at War. The warrant of 1833 was framed with the greatest attention and care, and with the assistance of his noble Friend near him. It was then submitted 1200 to the Commander-in-Chief; and he could state, that it received the full, entire, and unreserved approbation of the Commander-in-Chief. But more than that: this had been thought to be a change of too great importance to take place without the sanction of the Cabinet. The plan was accordingly brought before the Cabinet of which the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), then First Lord of the Admiralty, was a member; and by that Cabinet the warrant of 1833 was approved. Such was the mode in which that warrant was framed and adopted; but approving it as far as it went, still, at the same time, he must say, that he did think that in that warrant there was a want of some means of rewarding peculiarly good conduct in the soldier. He thought the rate of pensions established by it for ordinary disability was fair to the soldier and just to the people, who had to pay the pensions, but he decidedly thought, that further provision was necessary for remunerating the good conduct of the soldier. Accordingly, he (Viscount Howick) had the honour of submitting a warrant for this object to his late Majesty, which had been approved, in like manner as the others, by the Commander-in-Chief, and by other departments of the Administration to whom he had submitted it. This authorised the issue of good-conduct pay, and, under certain regulations, allowed extra pay to be given for good conduct, as in addition to the pension upon discharge. Now though, as he had said, he had not come down prepared with the documents necessary for going fully into this subject, which was quite unexpected by him, yet he happened to have with him a comparative scale of the pensions under the system of the right hon. and gallant Officer and the existing system; and from this he found, that instead of the soldier being now in a worse situation than he was before, in reality, the good soldier, at some periods of service, was in an equally good, and, in only some few periods of service, in a worse, situation, and that only by a mere fraction, than he was under the system of the hon. and gallant Officer. At fourteen years' service, the warrant was the same in both cases. But the warrant of the hon. and gallant Officer, at nineteen years' service, was for from 6d. to 9d. a-day; it was at present for from 8d. to 10d. a-day. It was true there was a slight diminution in the pension at twenty one years' service; for the hon. 1201 and gallant Officer gave 1s. a-day pension for that period of service, while now the sum was 11d. [Sir H. Hardinge: That is, under peculiar circumstances.] He would come to the peculiar circumstances by-and-by. After twenty-three years' service, the change was in favour of the soldier under the present warrant; and from that period the pension varied with circumstances, till they got to periods of long service. But the hon. and gallant Officer said, that it was only under peculiar circumstances, that the good soldier got his pension of 11d. a-day. He thought that a great advantage in the existing plan. Under the right hon. and gallant Officer's plan, the soldier had his pension awarded without the slightest regard to character; even if he were reported as having been punished for drunkenness, or one or two other crimes—nay, even if he had barely escaped being discharged with infamy, he was entitled to the full pension which was given to the best conducted soldier; and it constantly happened, that men came up to Chelsea with the character of notorious drunkard, in terms, registered against them, and received just the same pension that could be given to the most exemplary, well-conducted, sober, soldier. He was not ashamed of the present system. He said, that every soldier who avoided misconducting himself had a right to a pension at the expiration of a certain period of service; and unless he came to have some specific offence recorded against him, he ought not to lose the right to that pension. This was the present system; and if once the soldier gained his good-conduct pay, he could lose it only by sentence of court-martial: and in a short period, that was to say, in the space of a year, if he manifested good conduct, he could recover that pay again. He was happy to say, that, considering the short time that the plan had been in operation, and that there was little inducement to avail themselves of it, to the soldiers who enlisted before 1833, a very large proportion of soldiers had become entitled to good-conduct pay. He entreated the House and the country not to believe, that the pensions of the soldiers were undergoing a cruel and unnecessary reduction. It was, however, satisfactory to find, that the vote for pensions this year was only something more than 1,300,000l., being upwards of 2,000l. less than last year. He would only add, that, under this system, the service, he believed, was 1202 as popular as ever it had been. He believed, that the number of recruits who had joined within the last few months was almost unexampled in time of peace. Hon. Members would, therefore, be careful, he hoped, not to create, by their remarks in that House, dissatisfaction, where at present it did not exist. In fine, he begged to assure the House, that while on the one hand he should ever be ready to do his duty in considering modes of providing for the poor and meritorious soldier, so, on the other hand, he and the House had also duties (let it be remembered) to perform to the people, by whom this heavy tax was paid, and those duties, he, for one, was resolved not to neglect.
§ Mr. F. H. F. Berkeley
was desirous of offering a few observations on the subject of the navy, in support of the sentiments which had been expressed by the gallant Admiral (Sir E. Codrington), and also with reference to a proceeding adopted by his brother, who was lately connected with the Admiralty; but he felt considerable embarrassment as it was the first time that he had risen to address the House. It was the opinion of his gallant relative—an opinion which had been formed after consultation with many experienced officers of the navy—that the manning of the navy was conducted on false principles. In the most glorious times of our naval warfare it had been a complaint, that the manning of the navy was ineffectively managed. It was found in the despatches of Nelson; and turning over the page of history and biography the same thing would be found a constant theme of complaint. From the battle of the Nile to the battle of Navarino, he thought he might venture to assert, without contradiction, that complaints existed touching the deficiency of the complements of the crews of British ships of war. It would be no argument to say, that the successes which attended the British navy in the glorious day of their triumphs could in any way excuse carelessness on this subject: far from it. As well might it be attempted to apologise for the inhumanity of the master of an excellent horse, who overstrained the animal in attempting some preternatural feat. The success of the horse would be no apology for the brutality of the master who over-taxed its power. So with regard to sailors. The victories which had shed such lustre on the British flag were frequently obtained by vessels that were 1203 under-manned; and many of the most brilliant actions previous to the American war afforded instances of inferior overcoming superior force. Before that time there was carelessness on the part of the Admiralty, but when the combined powers of France and Spain had ceased to offer any opposition—then Spain had not a vessel left, and the cruisers of France were sent forth mere fugitives, scarcely capable of resistance, in a demoralised and almost denationalised condition—then the carelessness of the Admiralty became absolute apathy. They forgot, that a young and vigorous republic was rising, which had a navy young, powerful, and vigorous, like itself. The ignorance of the Admiralty at that time was notorious. What greater proof of it could there be than what was furnished in the American war, by their sending cast-iron water tanks to be used by ships sailing on fresh water lakes? The best apology for them was their ignorance. If they knew the force that existed on the other side of the Atlantic, and the disadvantages that our sailors had to encounter, we must accuse them of culpability. The loss of numerous frigates and sloops of war had struck a blow at the spirit of our sailors which they had scarcely recovered at that moment. The loss of the Macedonian, Guerriere, and Java frigates—the Frolic, Reindeer, Epervier, and Penguin sloops of war, and other British ships, which had met vessels of a superior construction, and manned in a superior manner, attested the fault which existed at home. Against these losses they had only to show such victories as those of the Shannon over the Chesapeake, or of the Pelican over the Argus—victories which, by the effect they produced, showed rather the decay than the strength of our naval power. Nothing showed the effect produced in this country so completely as the fact, that when the Duke of Wellington returned to this country after winning so many battles, a tissue of successes unparalleled in the annals of warfare, the noble Duke landed nearly simultaneously with Captain Sir Philip Broke, and when they appeared in public together, the winner of A single frigate action received as much honour as the victor of a hundred fights, Nothing showed so clearly the humiliating state to which the British flag was reduced. Did not such a state of things call for the attention of all seamen, and in particular of seamen having seats at the 1204 Board of Admiralty, and require that they should be watchful? Viewing the rising power of France which was placing its navy on a footing such as, by the admission of naval officers, had never existed before—looking at the great progress which America had made, and looking at the vast power which Russia possessed in the Baltic, and then turning to the state of the British navy, he would undertake to say (and in doing so he spoke the opinion of some of the most distinguished officers) that the navy was in a most disgraceful condition. The peace complements of her Majesty's navy had the direct effect of decreasing the number of the best kind of sailors. Captain Berkeley had received, upon the subject of his pamphlet, letters from individuals holding high positions in the service, from which he (Mr. F. H. Berkeley) would be glad to read a few extracts. With respect to these, he was placed in a peculiar position and must throw himself on the indulgence of the House—which he was sure would be granted, when he stated that it was impossible, under present circumstances, to produce the names of the gallant officers from whom those letters had come. It was quite sufficient for his brother to have raised a nest of hornets against himself by his impeachment of the conduct of the Admiralty, without subjecting any of his brother officers to their stings. He hoped the House would permit him to read ex, tracts from the letters of five most distinguished officers. He would give a list of their names to the hon. and gallant Admiral on his left hand (Sir E. Codrington) who would understand the value of their testimony. [The hon. Member handed a paper to Sir E. Codrington] It was impossible to take any other course. The first letter which he could only describe as from No. 1 ran thus:—Many thanks for the perusal of the accompanying papers. I quite agree as to the necessity of carrying it into effect; and if (this was not addressed to Captain Berkeley) Captain Berkeley succeeds in doing so, he will deserve the thanks of the profession. Every hint contained in his papers has struck practical men as being absolutely necessary for some years; and if the naval service of England is to be held up to foreign nations on the footing it was formerly, something effectual must be done and that quickly. It is quite disgraceful to see ships half manned, and that badly, in the company of ships of other nations with full complements and no expense spared to 1205 bring into practice all the new improvements; besides the disgust men have in serving in ships heavily masted and with small complements of men, so that the hands are turned up on all occasions, where, with an efficient complement, the watch would be sufficient. Almost every ship that I have seen arrive from England lately, is manned with a very inferior description of men. The most of them would not have been received into the navy at the end of the war.The next was from an equally distinguished officer, respecting whom he might also appeal to the gallant Admiral below him; he would describe this letter merely as from No. 2. He said—"I really consider your hints a valuable production, having always advocated a similar measure, and without which we may look in vain for men when we most want them." The third was no less distinguished. He said, "that the ships are most inadequately manned is a truth beyond contradiction." The fourth said, "I am quite of your opinion as to our establishment, and I am very sure there is a great mistake in our peace complements." He now came to the last of the communications, and he thought its peculiarly strong yet homely expressions ought to carry great weight with the House. This gallant Officer said, "I entirely go along with you—and your having so freely promulgated your opinion to your associates in office, is like yourself. It leaves you at full liberty to join in the almost universal cry in regard to the ruinous system of our peace establishments. I found here a squadron of another nation, and we furled sails together. They gave us such a dusting from numerical hands, that I made an excuse to unbend my sails, and put them below till our friends took their departure." He would ask, was it right that this gallant Officer, than whom there was no better in the navy, and these gallant men, should be exposed in this manner? He now came to the matter of his brother's resignation of his seat at the Admiralty. A noble Lord, formerly at the head of the Admiralty, had stated in another place, that although he agreed, with some trifling difference, with all contained in the published letter, yet he condemned the practice of Members or Secretaries of a public Board appealing to the public, instead of making their opinion known to their seniors, or carrying them forward at the Board. Now, from that opinion on the part of his brother, he (Mr. 1206 F. H. Berkeley) was not prepared to dissent. But he would say, that his brother, Captain Berkeley, had brought forward his opinions at the Board. He had laid his opinions before his colleagues in office in the fullest manner, and he (Mr. F. H. Berkeley) would say likewise, that he understood that the complements of the ships were to have been increased according to the way, with some exceptions, which Captain Berkeley had pointed out, and in which his colleagues agreed. While this was in doubt, while discussions were going forward, and while Captain Berkeley was using every exertion in his power (for he found the task by no means an easy one), he met with an unexpected obstacle. At that time, he might truly have exclaimed with Hercules, Ego sum indefessus agendo, but, unfortunately, he might also have added sed nova pestis adest; for he could hardly say any thing else of the letter which appeared as a supplement to the "Life of Lord Anson," and which was calculated to disturb and oppose the measures under the consideration of the Board—measures which it was understood had since been adopted. But when Captain Berkeley saw that the Secretary, who had been privy to all the deliberations which had taken place, had come forward with his own opinions, he thought that he (Captain Berkeley) might fairly put forth his own advocacy of the measures which were about to be adopted by the Board, and express, on behalf of the Admiralty, his dissent from the Secretary. But this effort met with disapprobation on the part of certain Lords of the Board, and finding that it was received with displeasure by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Captain Berkeley resigned his place. Before sitting down, he (Mr. F. H. Berkeley) would make one remark. The present estimates, he was given to understand, would prove, that the views of Captain Berkeley were nearly or to the full adopted. He would ask, then, whether the adoption of these views had taken place before or after the publication of Captain Berkeley's pamphlet? If it was before, then the complaint that he had published a pamphlet at variance with the opinion of the Board, fell to the ground. But if it was subsequent to the publication, then he (Mr. F. H. Berkeley) was sure that he might express the gallant Officer's great satisfaction at seeing that so important a benefit to the service had 1207 been purchased at so small a price as the sacrifice of his place.
§ Sir E. T. Troubridge
said, as he had been connected with the department of the marines, and had had it under his charge, he wished to say a few words with respect to the pensions of the marines. The gallant Member (Sir H. Hardinge) was the first person from whom he had heard any complaints. He did not know, that such complaints ever were made, or ever existed. The marines were sent to sea by rotation, so that every man had his turn. He humbly conceived, that no man would say, that unfit persons ought to have these pensions. These pensions were not the only ones to which the marines were entitled. Every man, if he was ill, had a pension, according to the severity of his hurt or his sickness, and the length of time that he had been in the service. Whilst sitting at the board be had often seen very young men, in the full vigour of life, come in for a very large pension, and therefore he had been of opinion, that increasing the number of years' service to entitle the men to pensions was very desirable. He agreed with everything that had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member as to the merits of the marines, and no man could say, that the present Members of the Board of Admiralty had ever doubted or denied that fact. The hon. Member would scarcely have touched on the subject, if he had first heard the statement which the Secretary of the Admiralty was about to make. With regard to the resignation of Captain Berkeley, there were never a people who worked so well together as himself and the other Members of the Board. He believed, that when the facts were fairly known to the public, his Friend Captain Berkeley would deeply regret, that he had left them at all. He, for one, did not agree to having large war complements in time of peace. He had alwyas said so; he had never departed an hour from that opinion. He did agree, that there should be some increase of complements. These complements had been increased, and whether they would be satisfactory to captains or first lieutenants of the navy, he did not know, for he never saw a captain or first lieutenant of the navy that was satisfied. But this he would say, when the country saw the number of ships now put in commission, and of men employed, it would be satisfied. He, therefore, deeply regretted that this state- 1208 ment had been made before his Friend rose, because the hon. and gallant Member would have been convinced on many points that his observations were uncalled for. He must dissent from his gallant Friend on some points. He said, that the complement was dissatisfactory for every vessel. He would tell him that the complement had been revised by a Committee in 1828, and a Committee had again adopted it in 1837. The peace complements had not been altered, for this reason—it was perfectly well known for many years that a system of change of armament in her Majesty's ships was going on, and it was impossible that this could be completed without various experiments, and those experiments had been made under an experienced officer, and were completed last year only; that had enabled the Admiralty to make a change in the armament of the ships; and the proper time to consider the complement was at the time that armament was completed. That had been done. The scale of it was likely to be laid before the House in half an hour, and it was much better to wait till the explanation was laid before the House. It was notorious, that there were some ships not of a large class. But he had thought it right to state this. He did beg the House to believe, that there was none of that ill will to Captain Berkeley which his hon. Friend wished to impress the House with. Since his resignation he had seen Captain Berkeley, and he believed it would be perfectly in order to say, that Capt. Berkeley was convinced, that be had not acted as he would have done, if he had given the matter a little more consideration. He maintained it, that he had a right to state this, because he heard Captain Berkeley say it himself. What he said was, that he ought to have resigned first, and then have written his pamphlet.
§ Sir G. Clerk
entirely agreed with the gallant Member, that they should wait to hear the account of the complements and armaments of the ships. But he must call the attention of the House back to the statement of Captain Boldero, and to the explanation attempted by the gallant Secretary of the Admiralty, or the Lord of the Admiralty, who had last addressed the House. If he understood the Secretary of the Admiralty right, he grounded that alteration entirely on certain evidence given by his hon. Friend, the Member for Launceston (Sir H. Hardinge), 1209 that evidence was expressed with respect to the warrant of 1833, of which he disapproved. But he thought, from what had fallen from the noble Lord, the Secretary of State, that a very great and important modification had been made in that warrant; and that the soldier was now placed on a much better footing than when his gallant Friend first gave that evidence. For, if he understood aright, if a soldier should not disqualify himself by misconduct, he was entitled, after twenty-one years' service, to 10d. or 11 d. a-day; that was now the rule. But a marine, since 1814, had had a right to demand his discharge after twenty-one years' service; and he looked at this as a much greater act than the pecuniary amount of pension. Looking at the advantage there was for them to continue in the service, and looking at the practice of impressment, which he should extremely regret to see resorted to, he should extremely regret to see any alteration made in the pension; and when they considered that a marine was likely to lose all the advantage he had gained by long service, if he absented himself for three weeks, which was the greatest possible security for his good conduct, he held it unwise that any difference whatever should be made between our marines and seamen. It appeared, that in 1837, an Order in Council was issued, and regulations of the Admiralty founded on it, to the effect that a marine should have served ten years afloat, and that two years on shore should count only as one afloat. This regulation, according to general practice, should have been published in the Quarterly Navy List, but he had searched for it there in vain. No notice whatever seemed to have been taken of it. It appeared, that the service on board a guard ship was counted as equal to one at sea, and that a year of either counted as two on shore. This was unfair to the men who were retained to do duty on shore. What difference, he would ask, was there between the duties of a marine in a guard ship and one in barracks, where he would have one night of duty for every two of sleep! Such a difference in the mode of estimating the two services was injudicious, and calculated to excite discontent amongst the men. The Order in Council, to which he had referred, was full of anomalies, and, in his opinion, had been so ill-considered, that he hoped the Admiralty would lose no time in reconsidering 1210 it, with the view to its being rescinded, and that in future the services of the marine on shore should be estimated the same as those at sea. He thought it hard and ungenerous, that that service to which his late Majesty had been so warmly attached, should almost, from the date of her Majesty's reign, have been made subject to so harsh a regulation.
§ Admiral Codrington
bore testimony to the high respectability and great professional ability of the gallant officers to whom the hon. Member for Bristol had referred.
§ Captain C. F. Berkeley
said, that it was not his intention to delay the House by entering into the general question then before it; but he could not allow the discussion to close without saying a word as to one observation which fell from the hon. and gallant Officer (Captain Troubridge.) That hon. and gallant Officer had said, that his (Captain Berkeley's) hon. relative had told him that he was sorry for having published the late work. In this he was sure the hon. and gallant Officer was altogether mistaken. His hon. and gallant relative could not have told him any such thing, for the fact was, that he was not sorry for it. His gallant relative had had no idea that in writing that book he was writing against the Admiralty. He had intended it only as an answer to some of the statements contained in the supplement to Sir John Barrow's Life of Anson. When, however, he found that the fact of his having published the work did not give satisfaction to the Board of Admiralty, he adopted the only course which was left open to him as a man of honour and independence—that of resigning his seat at the Board.
§ Mr. Horsman
said, there was one subject which he hoped would receive the serious consideration of the Admiralty—he meant the question of impressment. That mode of recruiting the navy was one which he thought few, if any, would be found to defend in the present day. He wished to know whether it was the intention of the Admiralty to bring forward any measure on that subject? If they did not, he would take an opportunity of bringing the question under the consideration of the House.
§ Mr. T. Attwood
said, that before the subject was disposed of, he wished to put a question to the Government, or to the hon. Member, the Secretary to the Admiralty. This question related to the pre- 1211 sent position and naval power of Russia. Whatever might be said of the pacific intentions of that power towards us, he had little doubt that she was at the bottom of the recent movements in the east, in Africa, and in America. She had now, as was well known, a large and well appointed fleet in the Baltic. What he wanted to know from the hon. Secretary of the Admiralty was, whether, if the ice should break up in that sea, and that Russia should take it into her head to sail towards our coasts, which she could do in ten days, was the Government prepared with a fleet competent to resist her and defend our coasts from her attacks? He might be told in that or in the other House of Parliament, that Russia was our friend and ally. He cared not whether she was friend or enemy, but as long as she had a fleet within a few days' sail of our coasts which we had not a naval force at hand sufficiently to repel, she to that extent might be said to have dominion over us, and nothing at present but the ice of the Baltic stood between us and an attack from her if she should be disposed to make one. It was possible, that the Government might be able to get over the ensuing summer and autumn without any such attack, but we had no permanent security against the risk unless we had a fleet able to meet that of Russia. Let it be recollected, that the navy of Russia was not now what it had been forty or even twenty years ago. Her ships were now well built and tolerably well manned, while many of our large ships were deficient in their complement of men and guns. No doubt our seamen, if brought into action against any force, would do their duty bravely; but the country did not wish to see a sacrifice of human life by placing one British ship of the line badly manned against two Russian ships of the line well manned. No friend of his country could desire to see ten or twelve sail of the line, badly manned, placed in opposition to twenty-seven, well manned, sail of the Russian line. He hoped the hon. Member (Mr. C. Wood) would give an answer which would be satisfactory to the House and the country.
§ Mr. C. Wood
hoped the hon. Member for Birmingham would not consider that he meant any disrespect to him, if he declined, at that moment, going into the question on which he had sought information, and the less so, as he would have to 1212 advert to it in the statement which he should feel it his duty to make on going into the Committee. Had he been allowed to go into the Committee earlier, he should have had the opportunity of entering into explanations on many of the topics already brought forward, and much time would thereby have been saved.
§ Mr. Brotherton
trusted, that Government would not be led away from its course by the suggestions thrown out for the increase of our naval armaments, as if we were now called upon to make preparation for war. If the Crown should declare war, who were to pay for it? Why, a great portion of the expense would come out of the pockets of the manufacturers and labourers of the country. He repeated his hope, that the Government would not be led away by such statements as they had heard, so as to make any unnecessary addition to the armaments of the country.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The House went into Committee.