HC Deb 09 March 1840 vol 52 cc1081-108

On the question that the Speaker leave the Chair to go into a Committee of Supply,

Mr. Hume

said, that from statements laid on the table of the House, hon. Members would find that they were proceeding to vote their establishments upon the old extravagant scale, while last year there had been an excess of expenditure over income of a million and a half, and every probability of that excess this year being two millions. Now, he had always been of opinion that before any estimates at all were voted, the Government ought to give to the House an estimate of the whole expense of all the establishments together, and also an estimate of the expected income of the country. It had been shadowed forth by the noble Lord, that shortly after Easter they were to have some new taxes. He was against any new taxes, and he wanted to see if they could not do without them. With that view he had been looking at the state of the revenue, and he found that the increased expenditure had only risen from those establishments which were annually voted by that House. He was sorry to say that that system was proceeding, and up to the present time, he might fairly reckon the excess of expenditure over income at six millions sterling. Under these circumstances, the House must see the difficulty of avoiding the imposition of new taxes. The balance sheet he held in his hand showed a deficiency of a million and a half, and that was not owing to any deficiency in the revenue, for, on the contrary, the revenue was in an extremely prosperous state. Taking from the year 1833 to the present time, he was surprised to find that the amount of the net income exceeded the average of the last seven years. From 1833 up to the present time (with the exception of 1836, a year of unusual excitement), the average amount of the net income was forty-six millions and a quarter to forty-six and a half millions, but in 1838 the revenue was actually 47,333,000l., being about one million more than the average of the pre- ceding years, and yet notwithstanding all that they had the present large deficiency. The whole amount of taxation for the year ending Jan. 5, 1839, was 52,949,000l., and they now thought of adding to that large amount by the imposition of new taxes, after so many years of peace. That appeared to him to be a very important consideration, and the question was how had the excess taken place? When he looked at the army, the navy, the ordnance, and the miscellaneous estimates, he found the explanation. In 1834, the aggregate of these estimates was fourteen millions and a quarter—in 1835, it was fourteen millions, something less than a quarter—in 1836, it was 13,800,000l., and then began the increase. In 1837, it was 14,392,000l.—in 1838 it was 15,229,000l.—in 1839, it was 16,000,000l. nearly, and he apprehended that the sum required for the present year would be little short of 17,000,000l. the excess over the ordinary expenditure on these items would be little less than three millions. The number of men intended to be voted this year, was 137,232, namely, for the navy, 35,651; for the army, 92,899; and for the artillery, 8,318. Now he admitted that it was impossible for any person, except those immediately connected with the Government, to know the exact number which might be required for the service of any year, but he thought it was of the utmost importance to know why so large a military force was required before they went into a Committee of Supply. The Speech of her Majesty from the Throne, and the declaration of Ministers, would lead the House and the country to believe that they, were at peace with all the world; and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain why the force he asked for was so large, when in the year 1822 the entire number for the army, navy, and ordnance, was only 97,072 men. On a comparison of 1822 with the present year, as regarded the army alone, he found an increase of 24,988 men. Of these there had been 11,500 added in the years 1837–1838. It appeared to him extraordinary that the Government should have thought of sending 15,000 additional troops to Canada, when, had the people of the colony been only allowed to manage their own affairs, the country would have remained perfectly tranquil. Now, however, that Canada was at peace, he thought these additional troops should be withdrawn. Every thing, however, depended on the policy of the Government. Look at Ireland, which was in a state of profound tranquillity.—The hon. and learned Member for Dublin told them that if they were required, three or four more regiments might be spared. What was all that owing to? Why, that the Government had resolved to do justice to Ireland. Look at England, on the other hand. There the people at large were dissatisfied, and the masses discontented and disaffected; and the military which they had withdrawn from Ireland, were now required in England, to overawe and keep down the people. There was a sense of injustice and oppression rankling in the breasts of the people, and they felt that they were not governed by equal laws and equal justice. The outrages at Newport grew from a feeling of that kind, though the immediate cause of those outrages was an accidental circumstance. There was also a police force in every town, and what reason, therefore, could there be for keeping up this enormous establishment? They appeared to him to be going on from day to day like spend, thrifts, regardless of the means by which to pay their debts; and he believed it was a principle that the more a man became involved be less care he took about trifles, leaving them to take care of themselves: Her Majesty's Government were running riot in expenses and establishments, forgetful of their good principles when in opposition. How lamentably had they failed with regard to reform and retrenchment ! Of reform the country had got little.—toe hoped they would get more; and with regard to retrenchment, he did press upon the noble Lord that the course the Government was now taking must bring upon the country the most serious inconvenience, and what would be the result the noble Lord would find to his cost. As soon as difficulties increased, the Gentlemen on the opposite side would lay hold of them, and point out the extravagance of the Government, to show how reckless they were of the public funds, and try to convince the public they were unworthy of confidence. There might be some foundation for this. The noble Lord bad a warning of this a few days ago, and he thought that if those Gentlemen were not so ready themselves to encourage extravagance, but follow his advice and become strict economists, they would find it a much better means of getting the support of the country than the course they now so unhappily followed. He had done his duty in making these general observations upon the military force (for he had not mentioned the militia, for which we had expended 9,000,000l. since the peace to no purpose whatever) and he must say that during the whole time he had never known so extravagant a military establishment; and this, too, when there was a deficiency in the revenue of from 2,500,000l. to 3,000,000l., and we were in a state of what might be considered perfect peace. He had thought this the best lime for making these observations, and he should consider it a duty he owed to the country, unless he heard from the right hon. Gentleman some good reason for an addition to our military force, to take the sense of the Committee upon it, by proposing a reduction.

Colonel Sibthorp

said he had heard from the hon. Member for Kilkenny a great part of the speeches he had delivered on various occasions during the last three years, in which he thought he should be more correct if he said twenty years as the period the hon. Member had declaimed against what he and the country thought to be the extravagance and inefficiency of her Majesty's Ministers. He entertained no respect for them so far as political feelings went, but though the hon. Member had been declaiming against that side of the House, he invariably disappointed them—he asked what was the cause of this excess—what could be the cause of it—the want of good working; yet though the hon. Member knew this as well as he, he invariably sat down after making his speech, without taking a single effectual measure to turn them out. Could he effect this no man would rejoice at it more than he. With all this declamation how in the name of goodness happened it that the hon. Member continued to support Ministers instead of taking effectual measures to supplant them, which if he would do he should have his cordial support. The hon. Member talked of withdrawing troops from Canada—he thought a further increase necessary if the Government went on as they did. He had not assented to any one act' of her Majesty's Government—no man living had a worse opinion of them in their political and official capacity—they knew nothing, and he thought if they did they were not disposed to act upon it. As he had said on a former occasion, there was joy in heaven over repenting sinners, and, therefore, he hoped they would take his advice, and change their course before it was too late.

Lord J. Russell

said, it was hardly necessary for him to say much, as the hon. Member for Kilkenny had only gone over ground which had been repeatedly gone over. The hon. Gentleman said they ought strictly to limit their expenditure to the average revenue of the last two years, totally regardless of the foreign or colonial relations of the country. That was the principle to which the House was asked to agree, and to which he trusted it would not be disposed to agree. The hon. Gentleman said very truly that he ought to have made these observations on the navy estimates, which was a much more proper occasion for them; for what was the fact? There had been a considerable increase in the navy estimates this year amounting to 400,000l., whereas the amount in army estimates was about 300,000l. less than last year; and if the bon. Gentleman had wished to enforce his principle and reduce to the state of the revenue the expenditure of the country, the navy estimates was the proper opportunity for him to have divided on the question. He had stated the reasons for the augmentation of the army in August last, and they had met with the general concurrence of the House. He had placed that augmentation on three grounds—one was, that there was a very considerable excitement prevailing, and a necessity that they should resort to strong coercive measures to reassure those who feared that their property and persons might be attacked. The country was now in a more peaceful state, and he could not agree with the hon. Gentleman that what had occurred at Newport was a sample of the general state of the country; but if it was, it would be a very good argument for an increase in the army. Another ground he had stated for the augmentation was the continuance of the necessity to have a considerable force in Canada. The hon. Gentleman brought forward an argument which he (Lord J. Russell) thought it would be impossible to enter into now—that the whole necessity of an increase of that force in Canada was from the Government not pursuing that policy which the hon. Mem- ber recommended. His opinion was directly the reverse, for the demands then made went to establish a French Canadian republic in Canada; and he (Lord J. Russell) had thought it necessary to resist by force the carrying of that into effect. Another reason connected with the former reason as to Canada was, that the continuance of a very considerable force in Canada made the reliefs which were necessary, according to a prescribed system in the army, exceedingly difficult to be carried into effect, and that was still so much the case, that there were regiments in Canada which had been twelve or thirteen years absent from the United Kingdom. A very proper system existed in the army, by which the troops sent abroad on colonial service should return after ten years to this country, and remain for a certain period. The proportion of troops now employed abroad was very much larger than usual, and it was found impossible to carry that system into effect, which was another reason why be had proposed to make the increase in the army which the House had granted, and under which the commander-in-chief proposed means by which the system of relief might be re-established, and which, with the approbation of Government, was now being gradually carried into effect. He did not think the House would so far bear on the army as to prevent this relief which was necessary to its due efficiency, as well as due in justice to men who underwent great privation in time of peace. The hon. Gentleman stated, that the whole difficulty with respect to the boundary question in America, was the failure of his noble Friend, and the Government to make a reply to the ultimatum sent from the United States. His noble Friend, in the course of last year, had transmitted a project for the purpose of finally settling this question with the American Government. After the lapse of a considerable period, the American Government sent back a different one, called a counter-project, with various provisions of their own. At the tame time that those provisions reached this country, there arrived gentlemen who had been ordered to make a survey of the part of the country in which the disputed boundary existed. These gentlemen were now employed in making a report of their survey, and as soon as their report was received an answer would be given to thin counter-project of the American Government. That was the state of things at present, which would show hon. Gentlemen that there was not the want of any attention in making an answer to the ultimatum, as the hon. Member called it, of the American Government. There was another question—namely, of claims made by citizens of the state of Maine, to parts stated to belong to this country, which had led to proceedings between the Lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick, and the authorities of the state of Maine. That had led to some correspondence which had appeared, and it had led to the necessity of protecting the road and the shores by which our troops moved from New Brunswick to Canada, and which it was necessary to provide against, as gangs of persons roved about on parts held not to belong to either party. He would not go now into the general statement which his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War would presently make, and he thought that his right hon. Friend would show that they were not liable to be charged with asking for too great an estimate, if they were to retain the means which were necessary for preserving this great empire in its state of safety, and at the same time of resisting aggressions from whatever part they might come.

House resolved itself into a Committee of Supply.

Mr. Macaulay

said, that his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) had relieved him from the necessity of making some remarks which otherwise he should have thought necessary in reply to the speech of the hon. Member for Kilkenny. He should, therefore, at present only say that any person who had heard that speech, and who was unacquainted with the previous transactions of the country, would have been very slow to believe that the military establishment proposed this year was actually lower in men and charge than that for which the hon. Gentlemen himself both voted and spoke. It was only on the 2d of August last, when his noble Friend proposed a supplemental estimate of 75,000l. and an addition of men amounting to 5,000, that the hon. Gentleman declared he would not take on himself the responsibility of refusing that sum of money and those men, which his noble Friend declared necessary for the peace and honour of the state. He should be glad to know why the arguments which the hon. Gentleman had used that evening might not, on the 2nd of August last year, have been urged with equal effect. All the hon. Gentleman had said respecting the refusal of justice to Canada, all he had said as to the refusal of justice to England, all he said of those monopolies, some of which he, like the hon. Gentleman, disapproved, as pressing severely on the people of this country, and all he had said as to the condition of the country, might be said exactly with equal propriety and effect on the 2nd of August last year as it was now. In bringing forward the estimates, which he should have the honour of proposing to be laid on the table, he should have the satisfaction, at all events, of thinking that he could not be found liable to the charge of profusion, if the hon. Gentleman was acquitted of it. The estimate brought forward by his noble Friend, the Member for Northumberland, in February, was 6,119,068l. To that sum, in August, was added 75,000l., making the whole charge 6,194,068l. The whole charge this year would be 40,000l. more; but in this sum there was included a considerable charge for Indian troops, which would be defrayed out of the Indian revenues. The whole force estimated in February, 1839, including the force for India, was 109,818 men, and this year it was 121,112, making an addition of 11,294, but of these 7,746 were employed in defence of India, and chargeable on the revenues of that country. There remained an increase of 3,548 to be added to the 5,000 men voted last August. The additional force that he should have to propose was 4,088. It might be proper to explain the mode in which this addition was made, and the more so, because it would refute, he thought, conclusively, an invidious insinuation of the hon. Member for Kilkenny. About 500 were to be added by an increase of three companies to the 1st West-Indian regiment, and he trusted that such a sum as was requisite would not be refused for raising a force which would spare our own countrymen from the hardships inseparable from foreign service. About 102 men were provided for Malta, which the local authorities declared to be absolutely necessary, not only for the garrison but for port-guard. A small militia (so to speak) was required for Bermuda. It was thought desirable that a portion of the youth of Bermuda should be formed, not as a separate company, but as a sort of body appended to the best troops from England, and thus initiated in the best system of military discipline; and after having been for some time so attached, to return to the mass of the population, being relieved by a new set of young men. So that, in the course of a few years, every man would be trained to the use of arms, and be capable of bearing them should the public service require it. In this manner was made the addition of 500 men which he had spoken of. The remaining addition was made by 65 men being added to every one of the 81 battalions of infantry in the United Kingdom; thus raising each from 835 to 900 men. These 65 men consisted of 4 Serjeants, 4 corporals, and 57 privates. To every one of the 20 battalions engaged last year in India 250 men were added, raising each from 853 to 1,103 men; and, lastly, of the two battalions transferred to India, the increase was made from 835 to 1,103, being an addition of 268. And now he wished particularly to call the attention of the House to this circumstance, because the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny had said, he had observed that every Government had an interest in proposing an increased force, because it placed at their disposal many comfortable things. Now the whole additional regimental charge for the increase to the 81 battalions he had referred to, did not afford the Government or the Horse Guards, the means of obliging a single acquaintance, or conferring a favour on one ten-pound householder. He wished the House to understand, that if the number of 4,408 which were to be added to the army, were struck off, no means of disarming opposition, or gaining support, would be taken away from the Crown. If any Gentleman took the trouble of looking through the different ranks of the service, he would find that the charge for officers this year was diminished by 2,000l. The only addition to the foreign force which would come out of the revenues of this country was the three additional companies added to the 1st West-Indian Regiment. Of the 121,112 men, who it was proposed should compose the military establishment, 28,213 would be charged on foreign revenue, leaving 92,899, for whose maintenance this country was to provide. This estimate was somewhat confused, by having included in it 572 men, who were not actually charged on this country, but who, as recruiting companies of Indian regiments, were included in the Mutiny Act. Any man disposed to approve of this measure, would have no difficulty in approving of the many parts of the estimate which contributed to it. The increase in the force sufficiently explained the increase in the regimental charge in the medical department, and the small increase for religious books and tracts granted to the soldiers. Considering that 20,000 men had been raised within the last year, that the applications for works of this nature had been numerous and pressing, and the assistance of benevolent societies not sufficient to supply this want, he thought he was justified in allotting 200l. to this purpose. Here was one item about which he believed it was usual to make some statement, and he should say a few words respecting it. As to the good-conduct pay, there was not an increase, but a diminution. The full effect of it would not be felt until 1843. The principle of a good-conduct warrant was this, that a soldier who had behaved well during seven years, received an additional 1d. a-day to his pay. Every soldier, since 1836, had the option of calling the old additional pay the good-conduct pay. The former was superior in this respect, that it could not be taken away unless by court-martial, and it was no less honourable than secure, for the soldier entitled to it had the power of wearing the good-conduct badge. The consequence was, that in 1840, at which time the soldiers enlisted in 1833 would have completed their seven years, we might expect a considerable addition to the soldiers receiving good conduct pay. But it was not until 1843 that the effects of the new system, which he confidently expected would be found highly beneficial, could be ascertained. The number of the men wearing the good-conduct badge was about 13,000. He had felt it necessary to make a slight addition to the article of provisions, forage, &c. This he had estimated at 245,000l., and he saw little reason to expect a falling off in that charge. The reason was this: It was known to the committee that the Australian colonies had suffered severely from calamities, which seemed to be a set-off against the physical blessings with which they were endowed. The men had suffered from the effects of a most cruel drought; they had been excluded from the benefits of tea, and of vegetables to their soup, and in consequence of the high price of provisions they had been reduced from three to two meals a day, one of which was scanty and unpalatable, consisting only of oatmeal. These privations had fallen with the utmost cruelty upon those to whom our gallant men were most attached, and the medical men reported that the effects of the scarcity were visible upon the women and children attached to the regiments. Under these circumstances, it would be improper to maintain proper and efficient discipline, and therefore, if even all considerations of humanity could be discarded, policy alone would dictate attention to that point. In fact, to a certain and partial extent, discipline had already given way, and in one regiment the crime of theft had spread to some extent. It was, in consequence, therefore, of the distress which the gallant and deserving men serving in the colonies had suffered that he had made this addition of 5,000l. to the estimates. In the estimate there were three charges upon which, as they were perfectly new, it would be necessary to enter somewhat into detail. The first was a charge of 3,500l. for schoolmistresses. He saw some of his hon. Friends near him smiled, but they were perhaps not aware, as indeed he himself was not until a few weeks ago, of the strong reason there existed for this charge. The number of female children actually accompanying our regiments, was not less than 10,000. Those children were in the most emphatic manner called "the children of the State." For the public service they were hurried from place to place—from Malta to Gibraltar, from Gibraltar to the West Indies—from the West Indies to Halifax, as the common weal might require. It would, therefore, be inexcusable if we did not provide these, at a small expense, with some means of instruction. Ever since 1811 a schoolmaster had been attached to every regiment, and he thought that there should be a dépôt for the instruction of female children also, under the superintendence of a schoolmistress, who might be probably the wife of a Serjeant, and whose duty would be to instruct them in reading, writing, needlework, and the rudiments of common knowledge; with such simple precepts of morality and religion as a good plain woman of that rank might be supposed capable of imparting to them. The next vote to which he had to call the attention of the committee was 10,000l. for the formation of a veteran battalion in Canada, where desertions had occurred to an extent unknown elsewhere. About six years ago an inquiry had been made, and it was found—there being there at that time 2,500 rank and file—that desertions had taken place to the number of 663, while, during the same period, the desertions from the whole British army had been only 2,240. These desertions in Canada had not been confined to bad and disreputable characters—non-commissioned officers and men of respectability and good conduct had deserted. Nor was this symptom of desertoin to be ascribed to distress, for many had gone away leaving behind them their necessaries and arrears of pay. Why desertion should take place more frequently in North America than in any other part of the empire it was not difficult to explain. In this country, the situation of the soldier was as comfortable, he might say more so, than that of the labourer, to which class generally the soldier belonged. In many of the colonies physical difficulties opposed themselves to flight. When in Malta, the soldiers were surrounded by sea; when at the Cape, they could only escape from their quarters to fly to the dwellings of savages; and as to India, he could imagine no situation more miserable than that of a deserter in that country, wandering amidst its vast regions, amongst a people of a strange race and colour, and his footsteps pursued by the power of British law. But with respect to the American colonies, the case was widely different. There the facilities of escape to the United States were many, and the temptation strong. The soil was flourishing, and the wages of labour high. The consequence was that there high wages, but still more the exaggerated representations that were put forth of the case and luxury enjoyed by the labourer in America, had constantly drawn away our soldiers from Canada. Several plans had been proposed for meeting this evil. It had been proposed, and he thought wisely, that Canada should be the last point in rotation to which the troops on colonial service should be sent. There would then be a great number of men with additional pay and good conduct pay, and those higher advantages would tend to keep the men faithful to their colours. It had also been thought that advantages would arise, and the temptation to which he had adverted be counteracted, if the Government were to hold out to the oldest and most tried of the troops in Canada a sort of military retirement, which should serve as a reward to those who remained faithful to their colours. Such had been the opinion of his noble Friend, the late Secretary at War, and of Lord Seaton, and he had reason to believe that that opinion was generally entertained amongst those who possessed the best information upon the subject. The precise details of the plan had not yet been made out, and much correspondence must take place before it could be produced; but as it was not improbable that, before the House again assembled, some regiments would be removed from Canada, it would be desirable that some men of good character should be induced to remain there. On these grounds he was induced to ask the House for the additional grant of 10,000l. on account. There was also a sum of 5,000l. on account, for the purpose of forming a corps for service in St. Helena—a place which required to be defended not according to the ordinary system. The whole charge for the land force then was 3,511,870l. for the present year. That applied for last year, including the supplemental estimate, was 3,496,382l. 11s. The increase, therefore, on this part of the charge was 15,487l. He now came to the staff, in which, in the Home Department, there was an increase, but a corresponding decrease on the foreign staff. On the whole there was an increase of about 550l., the reasons for which were to be found in the state of the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where it had been thought desirable that that which had hitherto been a major-general's command should be changed into a lieutenant-general's command, and it was thought that, in consequence of the high responsibility attached to that station, it should be filled by an officer of great talents, and receiving additional pay. Why the charge for Canada was increased, it was unnecessary for him to state. He did not know whether hon. Gentlemen were aware how this part of the estimates was formed—they were framed from the actual expenditure of the last year of which they had the accounts—thus the estimates for 1839 was framed upon that of 1837, and that of 1840 upon that of 1838. With respect to Jamaica, the addition was occasioned by the refusal of the Assembly to vote those allowances which used to be considered as matters of course. The whole charge for the staff in 1839 was, in round numbers, 155,000l., while that for the present year was 164,000l., being an increase of 9,000l. He was sorry to say, that in consequence of the haste with which these estimates had been prepared, there was an error in the third line of the page, containing the head Public Departments. The item stood there at 5,016l. 17s. 6d., but it ought to be 6,016l. 17s. 6d. With respect to the Royal Military College, it was unnecessary for him to say anything; and with respect to the Royal Military Asylum, the estimate for this year was 16,701l. 9s. 8d., while that for last year was 17,486l. 3s. In the next item there was an increase: it was in the charge for volunteer corps. The vote for last year was 79,136l. 18s., while that he asked in the present estimate was 92,993l. This had arisen from the expenses of calling out the yeomanry in aid of the civil power. He believed all would admit that, in the trying scenes of last year, the yeomanry exhibited all the valour and firmness for which those corps were distinguished; but in no instance, he believed, had they behaved with rigour and harshness, or otherwise than with propriety and discretion. While, then, the whole charge for effective estimates for last year was 3,807,073l., the charge for the present year was 3,845,450l. being an increase of 39,377l. He now came to the non-effective estimates. Under the head of Rewards for Service, there was a small reduction. The amount in 1839 was 16,041l. 18s.; while for the present year it was 15,815l. 10s. 1d., being a decrease of 226l. The pay for unattached general officers last year was 102,000l.; this year it was 92,000l., being a reduction of 10,000l. The number of general officers deceased who had received that pay last year was fifteen, and the number promoted to regiments nine. The number of Chelsea pensioners had decreased upwards of 1,000, and he understood there was a balance in the hands of the hospital, and he thought they might venture to make a reduction of 16,667l. Before he sat down, he could not help making some few observations on what had fallen from the hon. Member for Kilkenny. He knew well how zealous that hon. Gentleman was in the cause of economy; but he must be permitted to say that that hon. Gentleman had never given a vote so truly in favour of the cause of economy and of civil liberty, as when last August he voted for the increase of the army by 5,000 men, by which he now proposes to reduce it. He believed that that was a just and an economical vote. He had never for a moment doubted, that, on any great crisis that might befal this country, the force marshalled on the side of law and order would be found to be irresistible, and that this great country never could be given over to the hands of freebooters; but at the same time, when he considered the wealth of our great cities, it was not utterly impossible that a mob, exacerbated and infuriated by dishonest leaders, might have inflicted calamities that might have led to a crisis which the ingenuity and good fortune of years could scarcely have effaced. Once and once only, had this great metropolis been in the power of a mob, who for a short time had shown themselves to be stronger than the law, and that was on the occasion of the No Popery Riots in the time of Lord George Gordon. It was a matter of history that, at that time, a sum was awarded for compensation for injuries done to a single house, in a single street, greater in amount than that which was voted last year for the additional 5,000 men. Therefore he would repeat that the hon. Member for Kilkenny had never given a more economical vote than he did in the August of last year. It had been well remarked by Adam Smith, that though standing armies were found hostile to the liberty of the subject, yet that principle must be laid down with qualification. He believed that the remarks of that great man upon this subject were both ingenious and just. He believed that the question before the House a few months ago was simply, whether the force should be increased, or whether the Government should revert to the policy that had been tried by the administration of Mr. Pitt. He would say, then, that whoever voted on that occasion for that increase of force, voted for the House of Commons itself—for the freedom of the people—for the liberty of the press—for the security of property—in fact, for all the characteristics of a free state. Firmly was he convinced that the most happy and beneficial effects flowed from that vote. Nothing had since occurred that could justify her Majesty's Ministers in diminishing their means, or their power of upholding and maintaining intact and uninjured the peace, the honour, the dignity and security of this realm. He therefore would place the vote in the hands of the Chairman, with the strongest confidence that it would receive the approbation of the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving, "That a number of land forces, not exceeding 93,471 men (exclusive of the men employed in the Territorial Possessions of the East India Company), commissioned and non-commissioned officers included, be maintained for the service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, from the 1st day of April, 1840, to the 31st day of March, 1841."

Mr. Hume

had expected some notice to be taken of what had fallen from him as to the number of men employed in the home service. It might have been supposed, from the eloquent address of the right hon. Gentleman, that there were no troops in the kingdom except the 5,000 that he had alluded to. The right hon. Gentleman should remember that there was such a thing as extravagance as well as economy. He remembered an anecdote relating to himself, which, as it was short, he would would tell the house. He was standing at the bar talking to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when somebody asked "Who are those?" The answer was, "They are penny wise and pound foolish." Now he admitted, that he would rather at any time be "penny wise" than "pound foolish." He would like to know how the Duke of Wellington had continued with only 68,000 men, to maintain the honour and interest of Great Britain with as much credit if not more than the present Government. The numbers of men for the army had been gradually increasing. If the right hon. Gentleman would look only as far back as 1837 and 1838, he would find that the number was 81,000, and now the Government wanted 93,000. The right hon. Gentleman said that he voted economically in voting for the increase. What he then said was, that in the state the country was alleged to be in by the Government in consequence of the discontents that prevailed, he could not refuse to place at their disposal the sum they required. The right hon. Gentleman forgot to state what he added, which was, that in taking that course, he hoped they would remove as speedily as possible the cause of those discontents. Had that been done? If not, he then cast the blame upon the Government. If it had, then there was no want of the five thousand men. Any amount of forces that might be absolutely necessary to prevent disturbance, he held to be economical. So far he, in common with the right hon. Gentleman, was a vulgar economist: but he wanted to know what indication of disturbance there was at the present moment to warrant the maintenance of so large a military force as was proposed in the vote just submitted to the House. He maintained that the army, as at present constituted, was more than sufficient to meet all the demands that might be made upon it. With a regularly established police force, rapidly extending itself over the whole of the kingdom, he could not calculate upon the probability of any circumstance arising within the next twelve months that could call for the service of so large a military body. If the police force were worth anything, it was clear that as its numbers increased, the numbers of the army ought to diminish. Since he had sat in the House, he had always been amongst the defenders of a standing army; because he held that a small regular force was at all times more efficient than one composed of men who were only half and half—half soldiers and half civilians. Hence he had been found amongst the opponents of yeomanry and volunteer corps; but whilst he defended a standing army, he had always been jealous of its extent and strength. He would not have its numbers increased beyond the amount absolutely necessary for the security of the empire. Admitting all the indications of disquiet to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred, he was still at a loss to know what ground there was for proposing so large a number as 93,000 men for the service of the ensuing year. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman had failed to make out a case that would warrant so large a vote. He should, therefore, propose to reduce the number of men to what it was in the year 1837–8. The hon. Member accordingly moved to substitute 81,319 men for 93,471, the number proposed by the right hon. Secretary at War.

Mr. Williams (Coventry)

seconded the amendment.

General Sharpe

pointed out the total inadequacy of a police force, armed only with small staves to preserve the peace, or restore order in cases of violent disturbance. In such cases, the only security to the public was to be found in the discipline and steadiness of the armed soldier. He concurred in the propriety of the vote as moved by the right hon. Gentleman, and should give it his cordial support.

Viscount Howick

said, that so far from agreeing with the hon. Member for Kilkenny, that the number of men was too large, he thought it too small. He could not avoid apprehending that the means provided were hardly sufficient to diminish the severe pressure which he knew to be felt at present by the infantry of the line. Throughout his tenure of office he had considered this subject deserving of the greatest attention, and had frequently impressed upon the Government the necessity of taking decided steps to improve the condition of that portion of the army. He now felt some disappointment in one or two respects. He regretted that much more time and service would be required before the proposed veteran force in Canada could be established, and had hoped to have heard that some further increase of the black troops had taken place. Experience had shewn, and inquiry had proved, that the mortality which occurred amongst the British soldiers in our West Indian colonies was of a most frightful magnitude; and there seemed to him no other mode of effectually meeting that evil but by some further increase of the black troops. He could not understand, if neither of these measures was to be adopted, and if, as he had understood the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary at War, that no modification of the existing system of depots was to be made, how; consistently with the demands of our colonial service, the right hon. Gentleman would be able, during the present year, to provide that relief, which, in fairness and in justice to the British army, ought to be afforded. The right hon. Gentleman stated, that the army in Canada had been there for eleven or twelve years, and yet he said, it would not be possible to remove more than one regiment this year. The general statement of the right hon. Gentleman he thought highly satisfactory, although he certainly had hoped, that upon these two respects, more could have been done.

Sir H. Hardinge

considered that the statement which had been made ought to be very convincing to the House that the force which bad been moved for on the 2d. of August last year was absolutely necessary for the service of the country; and he would beg to remind the hon. Member for Kilkenny, when he talked of our forces being more than sufficient for present necessities, that in one quarter alone in Canada, instead of nine battalions of the line for the performance of the ordinary duties in time of peace, we had there at this moment nineteen battalions of the line, showing in one quarter alone an addition of ten battalions of the line. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary-at-War, stated, that two battalions had been transferred to India, so that, instead of twenty battalions, we had now twenty-two battalions in India. Here, then, at once, beyond the ordinary peace establishment had we twelve battalions employed on two stations alone. That accounted for the difficulty under which the service was labouring—namely, the impossibility, he might almost say, of relieving the troops in the rotation laid down. The right hon. Gentleman had properly stated that the rule laid down was, that the troops abroad should remain ten years, and those at home five years. But what was the slate of things? The right hon. Gentleman had very fairly informed the House, that many battalions in Canada were eleven, twelve, and even fourteen years out of the country, and some of those in India, seventeen, eighteen, and twenty years abroad. Exclusively of that, let the House observe the state of the battalions at home which were to relieve those abroad. At this moment there was not one out of the twenty, or twenty-one battalions in this country which had been in England more than four years. It was, therefore, almost impossible to afford the required relief to battalions upon foreign service; and he confessed he thought that this additional force of 5,000 was very useful in having enabled her Majesty's Government to bring home three or four battalions of the line. He also thought that the arrangement now existing, and which had been proposed by the Duke of Wellington in 1825, respecting the division of the battalions, was the most efficient that could be adopted. With regard to an increase of the black troops in the West Indies, as suggested by the noble Lord be (Sir H. Hardinge) conceived that to be a question which could not be fairly discussed in that House, a question not even for the Secretary-at-War or Commander in-Chief, but for the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who alone could judge whether the state of the West Indian population was such as to enable us to have with safety a black corps in those colonies. It was a question which the Secretary for the Colonies would do well to take time to consider before he made up his mind upon it.

The House divided on the amendment:—Ayes 8; Noes 100: Majority 92.

List of the AYES.
Brotherton, J. Warburton, H.
Duke, Sir J. Williams, W.
Hector, C. J.
Rundle, J. TELLERS.
Turner, W. Hume, J.
Vigors, N. A. Wallace, R.
List of the NOES.
Adam, Admiral Hill, Lord A. M. C.
Aglionby, Major Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Ainsworth, P. Hobhouse, T. B.
Anson, hon. Col. Hodgson, R.
Archbold, R. Hollond, R.
Bailey, J. jun. Holmes, W.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Howard, hon. E. G.G.
Barnard, E. G. Howard, P. H.
Barry, G. S. Howick, Vise.
Bentinck, Lord G. Hutchins, E. J.
Bewes, T. Jenkins, Sir R.
Blair, J. Kemble, H.
Boldero, H. G. Labouchere, rt. hon. H
Bowes, J. Lincoln, Earl of
Bramston, T. W. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Briscoe, J. I. Marshall, W.
Brownrigg, S. Maule, hon. F.
Busfield, W. Morris, D.
Clay, W. Norreys, Lord
Clerk, Sir G. O'Connell, J.
Collier, J. Palmerston, Lord
Collins, W. Parker, J.
Curry, Sergeant Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.
Dalrymple, Sir A. Pechell, Captain
Darlington, Earl of Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Davies, Col. Perceval, Col.
De Horsey, S. H. Philips, M.
Donkin, Sir R.S. Pigot, D. R.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Rich, H.
Evans, W. Rickford, W.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Roche, W.
Fort, J. Round, J.
Gisborne, T. Russell, Lord J.
Gordon, R. Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Greene, T. Seale, Sir J. H.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir C. Seymour, Lord
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Sharp, General
Grimsditch, T. Smith, R. V.
Harcourt, G. G. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Hardinge, rt. hon. Sir H. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Hawes, B. Stock, Dr.
Hayter, W. G. Sutton, hn. J. H. T. M
Heathcoat, J. Tancred, H. W.
Herbert, hon. S. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Turner, E. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Vivian, Major C. Wood, Colonel
Vivian, rt. hon. Sir R. Wood, Colonel T.
Westenra, hon. J. C. Yates, J. A.
White, A. TELLERS.
Williams, W. A. Stanley, hon. E. J.
Wilshere, W. Tufnell, H.
Viscount Howick

wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Control, whether any change had yet been effected with reference to the pay of the British troops serving in India—he meant in regard to their pay being made in the currency of the country?

Sir J. Hobhouse

had to state that no change had yet been made; but he was not, nor was the East India Company to blame that a change had not been effected. The East India Company, as well as the Government, were aware, that it was necessary to make an equalization of the pay of the troops in the different presidencies. At present the rate of pay was different in the Madras and Bombay presidencies from what it was in Bengal, and the company had been perfectly willing to equalize the rate of pay. That equalization would cost the company 45,000l. a-year; but, understanding that such a step was necessary, in order to prevent jealousy amongst the troops, they were prepared to send out a despatch authorizing the Government to give to the troops in Madras and Bombay the same pay as was enjoyed by the troops in Bengal.

Viscount Howick

could assure the committee that he was unwilling to bring this subject under consideration at that time, but with the views which he entertained upon this question, be felt himself compelled to say a few words in reference to it. This was no question of an equalization of the rate of pay, and the point was, whether it was fair or just that the troops in India should be paid in rupees, calculated each at the value of 2s. 6d., when in England the rupee was only credited to the soldier at the rate of 2s. The British officer serving in India was required to receive the rupee as equal to 2s. 6d., and when it was sent to England, he received for it only 2s., and often only 1s. 10d. Lord W. Bentinck had taken a great interest in this question, and had strongly condemned the injustice which was done to the British troops in India by the mode in which they were paid. That noble Lord bad recorded his opinion, that the pay of the troops ought to be issued, not at the nominal, but at the intrinsic value of the rupee. Sir Charles Dalbiac had also informed him, in a letter which he held in his band, that the army complained much of the injustice which was done them in this particular. He said, that the troops with which he went to India were paid at the full rate before leaving England, but when they arrived in India, they were paid in rupees valued at 2s. 6d. each. Loud complaints were in consequence made, and Sir Charles added, that this was the only occasion on which he felt himself in a situation in which no officer ought to be placed, because he knew the justice of those complaints, while he had not the power to afford them redress. Now, it appeared to him, that in justice to their gallant troops, who had ever distinguished themselves in whatever service they might have been engaged, this serious grievance ought to be redressed. They had lately voted the thanks of that House to the troops in India, and while the House had in this manner expressed its approbation of their gallant conduct, it was certainly their duty to see that justice was done them in a matter so seriously affecting their comforts. These troops had entered into a solemn contract to perform certain duties for a certain rate of pay, and as they were compelled to embark for India, and punished if they refused obedience, he thought it was absolutely incumbent on the House to see that justice was done to them, and that they received their pay according to the real value of the coin in which they were paid. Now, the real value of the rupee was not more, if sent to this country, than 2s., while it was often less, and he therefore thought it was a very great hardship for the troops to be obliged to receive it at the nominal value of 2s. 6d. It seemed to him that the case was perfectly clear and simple, and it ought not to be confounded with the question as to allowances, from which it was perfectly distinct. Let the pay be issued according to the real value of the rupee, and having agreed to that, then let them make such alterations with respect to allowances as economy and justice might require. He felt strongly upon this subject, and as he had been unable to get any assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that a change would be effected, and as he saw no prospect of a change being made, he had felt himself bound to call upon the House to express its opinion on the question, for it was but just, when they required the services of the troops in India, that the House should insist on their receiving the full amount of pay to which they were fairly entitled.

Mr. Macaulay

agreed with the noble Lord, that there had been a grievance in reference to this matter, of which the troops in India had a right to complain; but he thought the offer which had been made by the East India Company was a perfectly fair one. That offer was to this effect:—The grievance complained of affected only, he believed, the troops in the Madras and Bombay Presidencies; let them then see what the rate of pay was of a private soldier on any of the stations. A private soldier was allowed daily a ration of one pound of bread, and one pound of meat, and 7d. a day besides as pay. In Bengal, the soldier was allowed a ration of a pound of bread and a pound of meat, and 8½l. a day besides as pay, calculated at the false rate of exchange to which the noble Lord had alluded, and being really equal to 7d. a day. Besides that, there were other allowances to which the soldier in India was entitled. Now, the royal pay warrant sent out by the noble Lord himself gave the soldier 7d. a day and rations, and also an allowance of 1¼ d. as spirit compensation. The soldier in India got more, in fact, than he had a right to by the royal pay warrant. There was, therefore, no reason to consider that in Bengal the soldier was worse off than in any other part of the world. He admitted that there was a grievance as to the difference of pay, and they were prepared to remedy it. The East India Company were prepared to put all the presidencies upon the same footing as Bengal, and to give the troops in India 7d. a day, and rations, besides the usual allowances and spirit compensation. He thought that proposal was a perfectly fair one, and he was ready to take his share in the responsibility which had been incurred by its proposal.

Sir H. Hardinge

said he could hardly doubt, after the statement that had been made by the noble Lord, and right hon. Gentleman opposite, that up to a certain time there had been something wrong in the rate of payment of our Indian troops. He could not approve of fixing the value of the rupee at too high a mark. He hoped the House would see that this false standard of currency ought not to be continued; that it was wrong to compel the soldier to take the rupee at 2s. 6d., when with everybody else it went only for 2s. The present arrangement pressed more hardly upon the officers, especially young officers purchasing commissions, than upon the privates, for these latter had advantages to counterbalance their loss which the former did not enjoy. He had no doubt that the East India Company acted liberally towards their soldiers; but though the right hon. Gentleman might tell him that the soldier received all that he was entitled to under the royal pay warrant, he could not think it a judicious arrangement to issue the pay at a fictitious value. All that he wanted was, that the soldier should not receive his allowance at a false denomination.

Viscount Howick

, in reply, said that they ought to give the soldier his pay in the intrinsic value of the silver in which they paid him; although he hoped his right hon. Friend would not give up the system of regimental contract with which the soldiers were well pleased, in order, that a compensation might be made to the East India Company.

Sir J. C. Hobhouse

said, that this was no new arrangement; it took place in 1792, and up to 1813, there was no difference between the real and the supposed value of the rupee; but the great change effected by the right hon. Gentleman's (Sir R. Peel's) bill, touched India as well as England, and down went the rupee as did everythihg else. The opinion of Lord William Bentinck had been referred to, but he would beg to refer to a despatch framed according to the proposition of that noble Lord, sent by the Board of Directors to the Governor-general of India, with the sanction of the Commander-in-chief. The conclusion of that despatch was to the effect that the object of transmitting it was to explain the incorrectness of the Governor-general's assertion that the King's soldier in India did not receive so much silver as he was entitled to by the warrant, for that, in fact, he received more. He contended, then, that the soldier in Bengal received actually a larger sum than he did under the warrant of his noble Friend. In the year 1798, a report had gone forth, through unofficial channels, that a change similar to that now suggested, was about to be made. What was the effect of that report? A mutiny, The soldiers stood to their arms, and for ten days resisted their officers, and although the Governor-general at last obtained the restoration of good order, it was only on his giving a promise that he would exert himself to procure the remedy of what they called their grievances. The Queen's troops in India, he contended, received greater advantages than in any of the other colonies, and he thought that this mode of payment was not to be complained of. If, however, this complaint was held by the House to be well founded he would ask, what was to become of the allowances which were made. The noble Lord said, that the effect of the change would be to raise the pay, but, he would ask, was the allowance to be increased in proportion? Such an argument could not for one moment prevail, because, if it were just that the pay and allowances should now be increased, what a cheat had been carried on since the year 1819. The arrears, too, must be paid, but their amount would be awful, and such as he should even doubt whether the East India Company could pay. Upon a due consideration of the whole question, he could not come to the conclusion at which the noble Lord had arrived. The soldier had received all that he was entitled to under the warrant, and he did not see that he had anything to complain of. There was no complaint in India, and he thought, that the strongest evidence which he could produce in opposition to this proposition was the opinion of the Governor-general of India, who spoke in the strongest terms, deprecating not only a change in the system, but even the agitation of the question.

Sir H. Hardinge

again urged upon her Majesty's Government the propriety of coming to some settlement of this question the more especially after what had been urged by her Majesty's late Secretary at War.

Sir R. Jenkins

said, that the noble Lord (Lord Howick) had sent out a warrant to India without consulting the Court of Directors, who at a subsequent period had unanimously objected to it. Their protest, bearing date the 2nd of December, 1837, directed the attention of the President of the Board of Control to this warrant, which had been despatched without the slightest communication with the directors; and the Court unanimously protested against the warrant, which would subject the troops of Bengal to a serious loss, would involve a dangerous change, and might produce the most disastrous consequences. The Court also wrote a letter to this effect, which formed the basis of a despatch. This proposal was to raise the allowances of the troops at Madras and Bombay to the standard which existed at Bengal. This despatch had been sent out fourteen months ago. The matter still remained unsettled; but it was no fault of the boards, who had done their duty. It, therefore, remained for her Majesty's Government and for the House to bring this matter to a termination. He believed that the rate existing at Bengal was considerably above anything to which the soldier was entitled under her Majesty's warrant, and left in favour of the soldier in the field the sum of 2½ d. per day.

Sir C. Grey

thought that the soldier in India ought to receive the intrinsic value of the coin in which he was paid, and that would remove all the discontent which existed. It was utterly impossible, however, in his opinion, for the Government to remove the difficulty occasioned by the fluctuation in the exchanges.

Viscount Howick

said, that having already spoken, he should not think of detaining the House at any length, but it was impossible for him altogether to pass over what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Chairman of the East India Company. The hon. Gentleman had stated that he (Lord Howick) when he was Secretary-at-War, had been guilty of the gross impropriety of advising his late Majesty to make a change in the rate of payment of the troops in India, without communicating his intentions to the Board of Directors of the East India Company, and of transmitting a warrant to India in accordance with those views. Now, nothing could be so unfounded as that statement. When he came into office he found a warrant in preparation, which, made no alteration in the rate of payment, and in 1837 that warrant was issued to the army in general, but it was not at once transmitted to India, because his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Control, called on him to withhold it for a time. It was, therefore, withheld, and it was not till some months afterwards, at his (Lord Howick's) suggestion, that no advantage whatever could be obtained by withholding it, as the question had already been canvassed in some military publications, that the warrant was sent to India. He, therefore, must say, that he was a good deal surprised that his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Control, should have alluded to that warrant. He would now only add, that, in his opinion, it was right to give the soldier his pay according to the intrinsic value of the silver which the rupee contained, and not according to its nominal value.

Sir H. Hardinge

observed, that if a warrant were issued requiring the pay to be given in rupees, the soldier's permanent pay would be in silver, which would be subject to no fluctuation, and this would put an end to these unfortunate discussions, which would continue as long as the present grievance remained unredressed.

Sir. J. Hobhouse

said, that the real facts of the case were these: the warrant of his noble Friend was made by inserting the words "soldier abroad" applicable to troops in India. He had at the time particularly impressed on his noble Friend the importance of his warrant not applying to India, and he pointed out to him that the use of the words "soldier abroad," as well as "soldier at home," must of course make the warrant applicable to India, and that whether the warrant were sent out officially to India or not. That warrant, was, however, sent out officially by his noble Friend to the Governor-General. The Court of Directors were not only not consulted by his noble Friend but his noble Friend took the very course which they begged and implored of him, and he begged and implored of his noble Friend, not to take. He had therefore, acting under a sense of the responsibility belonging to his office, taken it upon himself, notwithstanding the warrant sent out by his noble Friend, to write to the Governor-General, telling him that it would not be desirable to act upon the warrant, as an amicable discussion upon the subject was going on very comfortably between him and his noble friend, which would no doubt terminate in a satisfactory manner. He also mentioned to his noble Friend at the head of the Government, that he could not continue to hold his present office unless some misconception on the part of the Secretary at War was removed. In that condition the matter now stood. The warrant had gone out, but it had not been acted upon, and he could only say now, that the despatch raising the pay of the troops in the Madras and Bombay Presidencies would, with the concurrence of his right hon. Friend the present Secretary at War, go out, he believed, in the course of a few days.

Viscount Howick

asked if his right hon. Friend would undertake to say, in his place in that House, that the warrant which he had sent out contained one line that was not a consolidation of former warrants?

Sir J. Hobhouse.

—The omission of the title in the schedule had settled the question in accordance with the opinion of his noble Friend.

Viscount Howick

said, that this was too important a matter to be left in doubt, and therefore he hoped his right hon. Friend would give him a clear and explicit answer. Was he not stating the fact when he said that the warrant contained no reference to the rupee question? Was it not to this effect, that it merely made it clear that the troops when serving abroad without rations had a right to 1s., and not to 8½d.; that it was not a new regulation, but a mere consolidation and explanation of former warrants. Was it not true that it made no change whatever in the regulations which existed before, but merely rendered them more intelligible?

Sir J. C. Hobhouse.

—All he had affirmed was, that the omission before alluded to, of the schedule, had got rid of the difficulty, the question being in doubt before.

Sir R. Peel

thought, that before anything was done in this matter it would be well to refer to the evidence which was given before the select committee on Indian affairs by several distinguished officers. It appeared that in 1824 a general order was given that the rupee should be valued comparatively with the sterling money of this country, at 2s. 6d. per rupee, at which it had been fixed in 1797. It would seem to be more analagous to sound principles that the rupee should be issued at its real value. At all events a very distinct, full, and intelligible explanation of the ground on which they were proceeding ought to be given.

Vote for the number of men agreed to.

House resumed.