§ Mr. Macaulay,
in rising to bring under the notice of the Committee, the army estimates for the ensuing year, said, that the estimates at the commencement of last year, amounted to 6,163,000l. He had, however, felt it his duty late in the year, to bring forward a supplementary estimate of 22,000l., to carry into effect the recommendation of the naval and military commission, which increased the estimates for the whole year to 6,185,000l. The estimate which he had now to bring under their notice, amounted to 6,158,000l., or 1362 27,000l. less than the amount charged upon the previous year. Of the men, the whole force charged upon the estimate of last year, was 121,112; the increase upon the present year was so slight as scarcely to require notice, being only nine men. The number of men required for the present year would therefore be 121,121 men. Of these, 29,070 were employed in India. The whole number employed by the East India Company was 29,630, but of these, 560 men were employed in England. Deducting the 29,070 men employed in India from the whole force, there would be left subject to the Mutiny Act 92,051 men. Of these, 91,491 were in the pay of Great Britain and the colonies, and 560 in the pay of the East India Company, though serving in Great Britain. Gentlemen who examined the estimates would perceive a slight increase of the regimental charges running through the whole of the estimates. The ordinary expense of a cavalry regiment was 17,001l., the expense in the present estimate was 17,028l. The ordinary expense of a battalion of infantry was 26,415l., the expense in the present estimate was 26,478l. The ground of the increase in the cavalry regiments was, that the adjutants of those regiments now received that advantage which the naval and military commission had recommended, and which all admitted was their due. In the infantry, the grounds of increase were two-fold: first, the adjutants of infantry regiments received the same advantages to which he had already referred as accruing to cavalry adjutants, indeed to rather a greater extent; and secondly, that it had been thought expedient to make some addition to the contingent allowances of the captains of dépôt companies in England. It had been deemed expedient, that the establishment should be kept as nearly as possible at the highest point; and he believed, that at no period in our military history had the number of effectives so nearly reached the number voted by Parliament as now. The consequence was, that the dépôt companies overflowed, and it would have been very unjust to the captains of those dépôt companies to have kept them on the small allowance received by them when the number of effective men was smaller. The next charge in which a change from last year would be perceived was in that item which provided for the pay of the men wanting in order to the completion of the effective force. Last year, he had called upon the House to vote 1363 40,000l for this purpose, but he now only asked 20,000l. A saving of 20,000l. was apparent here, the cause of which was the fact to which he had already adverted— the increase of effectives in the battalions. Indeed, he had some doubt whether he might not have made the sum smaller than that which he had estimated. He now came to the item of good-conduct pay. He was happy to hear, that during the last year the increase of men upon the good-conduct pay list was very great. Upwards of 800 soldiers had been placed on that list. The real effects of this improvement (for which they were indebted to the noble Lord who had preceded him in the office which he held), could not, however, be experienced until 1843. The immediate result was evidenced by the fact, that while the charge last year under this head was 7,640l., for the present year, the estimate was 9,312l. Under the head of provisions, forage, fuel, light for the troops, money allowances, and contingent expenses of the regimental officers abroad, there appeared a considerable increase. The estimate for last year was 241,643l., that for the present year was 270,346l. With respect to this increase, he would observe, that this portion of the estimate was always formed on facts. The actual expenditure of the last year formed the ground for the estimate of the next. The estimate for the year ending March, 1842, Was, therefore, founded upon the actual expenditure of the year ending the 31st of March, 1840. During that year, there had been a considerable increase of expenditure in Canada, Nova Scotia, the Australian colonies, and the Cape of Good Hope. In Canada and Nova Scotia, there had been a considerable additional force, and in Australasia and the Cape of Good Hope there had been a considerable rise in the price of provisions. The House, however, would see with pleasure, that there was a reduction in the expense of this branch in regard to Jamaica. The cause of this change was the restoration there of that good feeling which had led the colonists to provide themselves for those expences which last year necessarily devolved upon this country. The next charge arose out of an innovation, from which he was inclined to anticipate the most valuable results—he alluded to the establishment of regimental savings' banks. The experiment of establishing a savings' bank in each regiment had been found most beneficial. The communications 1364 commenced by the noble Lord, his predecessor, than whom there could not have been a more true friend to the soldier—those communications had been continued since with the commander-in-chief, and the result was, that he now called upon the House to vote 500l. for the interest of deposits made by non-commissioned officers and privates in those regimental banks. These regimental banks were not so much required in England, where savings' banks already existed so generally; or in Australasia, where the interest of money was so high. He was inclined, however, to think that the establishment of these regimental savings' banks would be a most valuable source of economical and respectable habits on the part of a large portion of the army stationed in our distant possessions, who were otherwise without, a place of deposit, and would be disposed to spend their money in frivolous pursuits, if not in worse. Under the head of regimental contingencies there was no diminution, but rather an increase. One or two heads presented an increase, particularly in the charge for passage money from port to port in the United Kingdom, and in the charge for ferries and railway travelling. To the rise from the use of railways, he was sure the House would not object, because the saving of time achieved was, in military matters, more than an equivalent for the additional expenditure of money. The next charge was one of 395l. for the Royal Western Ophthalmic Hospital, in consideration of the privilege allowed the medical officers of the army to attend the lectures at that institution. This was not an annual grant—the grant annually was proposed to be 50l. The hospital stood on ground which was the property of the Crown, and it had been opened most liberally to the medical officers of the army. The wish of the officers of the hospital was, that the ground on which the hospital stood should be made a giant of by Government; but objections were made on the score of the claims that might be set up by other bodies similarly circumstanced. It was thought, however, that much less objection would be made to allowing a certain portion of the rent of the hospital to be borne by the department which benefited by it. 50l. a-year was considered a fit sum, and the vote of 395l. would defray that annual rental from the time when the hospital was first opened, on the 1st July, 1833. The next item was for the charges of the recruiting service. Last 1365 year they amounted to upwards of 119,000l. this year they were diminished to 103,000l. This decrease arose from the circumstances of the army having been recruited to a very high extent last year, and also that certain charges, which had been formerly paid for the maintenance and pay of recruits until they joined their regiments, were now brought under the head of regimental expenses. He was not aware, that there was anything further that required explanation, till he came to the vote for the battalion which was to be formed for service in Canada, for which 10,000l. had been taken on account last year. It was considered, that the 15,000l. which they proposed to take this year, in addition to that 10,000l. would completely meet all the charges of that battalion for the first year. The object of the establishment of that battalion was, that there should be a certain force in Canada, of such a character, and with such advantages, that there should be little or no danger, that the high wages of the United States, and other advantages, and the great facility that there was of passing so extended a frontier, should induce them to cross the border, and pass to the United States. That battalion was to be called the Royal Canadian Battalion, and was to be composed of men on the good-conduct list, and who were at the end of ten years to be entitled to pensions. He had strong reason to believe, that it would on these terms be easy to fill up the battalion. The advantage derived from the public was, that every man in that battalion would receive 1d. per day in addition to the ordinary pay of the soldier. His full pay, however, would be 1s. 3d. per day, inclusive of 2d. a-day, to which he would be entitled at home from additional service. The only additional charge on the public would be the extra 1d. per day, yet there was every reason to believe, that the expense would fall short of the ordinary charge of a battalion of the line. A corps would be formed, which for respectability of character and case of situation, would not be equalled by any other corps—one in which every private would bear the badge of good conduct, and where, in regard to their wives and children, they were more indulged than the corps in the most favoured parts of the empire, being allowed twelve women instead of sis. He was aware, that many objections had been raised to the plan; but, when all the advantages were considered, he thought they were justified 1366 in expecting, that a highly respectable and efficient battalion would be formed. The next item on which he thought it necessary to male any remark was the vote of 5,000l., again asked for the maintenance of our establishment at St. Helena. Although it had been thought, that there might be some reduction made in this charge, yet, as very soon after the vote was last year granted, a French prince of the blood had gone to St. Helena on a mission of the very highest interest, it was thought, that it would not have been fitting at such a time to withdraw men and reduce our establishment there. It was, however, the intention of Government to take the subject as soon as possible into consideration. The total estimate of the charge for the land forces for service at home, and allowed from the 1st of April, 1841, to the 31st of March, 1842, was 4,503,236l. If from this amount was deducted the appropriation in aid, or 59,487l., the amount would be reduced to 4,443,749l. From this there was still further to be deducted the 932,975l. borne by the East India Company, which left a sum of 3,510,774l. finally chargeable on the public in respect of the land forces. This exhibited a decrease upon the year as compared with the last. The sum chargeable last year was 3,511,870l., the decrease, therefore, was 1,096l. On the staff contingencies, there was an increase of 3,000l. Last year the amount was 53,000l., this year the estimate was 56,000l., but the same cause that had led to the increase of regimental contingencies had led also to the increase of staff contingencies. The whole estimate for staff charges was 167,448l., but this included a sum of 2,500l. for additional advantages afforded to medical officers under the recommendation of the naval and military commission. He now came to the expenses of the public departments. The estimate under this head for the year ending 31st March, 1841, was 60,146l.; that for the year ending March, 1842, was 79,714l. Here was a palpable increase; but there had been a great increase in the Post-office charges. The postage charges of his own department amounted to upwards of 1,000l. per month. The Adjutant-general's expenditure for postage averaged 335l. per month. The weight of letters received was twenty-four tons a year, and the greater number of the letters sent to the War-office not being prepaid, they were always charged 1367 double. If allowance was made for this additional charge, it would be seen that the other expenses of the public departments had scarcely increased since last year. While on this branch of the subject, he felt bound to say, that had the estimates been presented a short time later, he might have had to take an increased charge for his own establishment, which next year he believed it would be necessary to make. Some correspondence had recently taken place between the Treasury and the War-office with a view to the introduction into the War-office of a system analogous to that introduced some years ago into the Admiralty, that of the Italian system of book-keeping; and also for bringing more clearly under the public eye all the items in the disbursements, so that every year a balance-sheet would be exhibited, showing how far every sum voted by Parliament had been expended for the purpose originally contemplated. Under the head of the Royal Military College no vote was asked for this year, as that establishment had, as it had done for some years past, defrayed its own expenses. With regard to the vote for the Royal Military Asylum, he had last year pledged himself to the hon. Member for Kilkenny to do all in his power towards the reduction of the charge in respect of that institution. Since then the governor of the establishment at Southampton had died. He had taken advantage of the circumstance to break up the establishment there, and transfer the children to Chelsea. The expense of the institution last year was 16,701l, the estimate for the present was 15,148l. Thus a saving of about 1,600l. had been effected. While on this subject, he thought it necessary to advert to another subject in connexion with the institution which was brought before the House last year, when he thought it right to assure the House he would give the subject his most serious attention, and that he had no doubt a satisfactory conclusion would be come to. He alluded to the difficulties which had attended the admission of the children of Protestant dissenters and of Roman Catholics to the Asylum. He had brought the subject before the heads of the asylum, and they had, without a dissentient voice, determined on a course which would be found perfectly satisfactory to the members of every religious persuasion. He felt bound to acknowledge, also, the very valuable assistance he had received from 1368 the Bishop of London, who had done him the honour to assist him in drawing up the regulations for the asylum. The change that was effected would not offend the most zealous friend of the Established Church, while it would not continue to wound the feelings of Catholics and dissenters who had young relatives in this asylum. He trusted, therefore, that it would give general satisfaction that the establishment was open to the children of all who shed their blood for their country, without reference to religious faith. The next item of charge he came to was the Volunteer corps. The committee was aware that during the last year it was not, as during former years, necessary to call for the aid of this body for the purpose of assisting in preserving the public peace. Last year the charge for the Volunteer corps was 92,993l., this year it was only 82,266l., making a saving of 10,727l. Taking all these items it would show a total charge last year for the effective force to have been 3,846,450l., and the same charge for the present year was 3,855,352l., showing an increase of the amount to be provided of 8,902l. He then came to the non-effective part of the service, in which branch he believed hon. Gentlemen generally expected that there should be some saving, and that there should be a gradual diminution of the expenditure under this head. Under the head of rewards for military service, the funds for which were taken at three-fifths of the amount of the emoluments of garrison appointments, taken as they became vacant, there was a sum of 369l. disposable, arising from such vacancies occurring during the last year. Three-fifths of this sum was 227l., and this, taken from a portion of the unappropriated estimate of last year, and the sum arising from pensions falling in from the death of distinguished officers who formerly enjoyed them, left 986l at the disposal of her Majesty, for this year, for the reward of distinguished services. During the last year 800l. had been appropriated in the shape of pensions on four gallant Officers, whose distinguished services Gentlemen would see described under the proper head in the estimate. The whole charge under this head last year was 15,815l., including the allowance to officers in garrison; and in the present year it amounted to 15,839l. There had been a new charge on this head this year: in removing the charge of the salary of the garrison quarter-master 1369 of Malta from the staff estimate into its proper place, namely, of allowance to the officers of her Majesty's garrisons at home or abroad. This officer had no duties to perform, and it was therefore thought better to remove it to the present vote. The next item was the charge for the pay of general officers not being colonels of regiments. The sum proposed for the present year under this head was 89,217l., the sum proposed last year was 95,688l., of which only 92,000l. had been expended. A saving in the amount of this estimate might be calculated on as arising from the probable decease of some officers, and from others obtaining regiments, when this allowance ceased; the probable charge might therefore be taken at 85,000l., so that there would be a saving on the charge in this year, as compared with last, of 7,000l. The next estimate was for the full pay for reduced and retired officers of her Majesty's service. The Committee was aware that this item was framed in conformity with the recommendation of the military and naval commissioners. The charge for the present year under this head was 67,500l., but the amount for retired full-pay for subalterns, & c, would be gradually reduced by casualties, and the charge for the full-pay of reduced and retired officers would be limited to 38,000l., as recommended by the commissioners on military promotion and retirement. The reductions were to be effected by not filling up the vacancies until the charge was reduced to 38,000l., which was not to be exceeded after the present retired officers' allowances ceased. As he had just stated, he was under the necessity of asking, for the present year, for 67,000l., while last year he only required 53,500l., being an increase of 14,000l. The next estimate was the charge for half-pay and military allowances to reduced and retired officers of her Majesty's land forces. The vote taken last year under this head was 505,500l. The sum required this year was 497,000l., showing a saving of 8,500l. There would have been an additional saving under this vote, but there was a new charge of 2,000l. for a special additional allowance of 100l. a year each to twenty lieutenant-colonels of long service, having the brevet rank of colonel, who have retired, in aid of their half-pay. The next estimate was for the half-pay and reduced allowances to officers of disbanded foreign corps, of pensions to wounded foreign officers, and allowances to widows of deceased foreign officers. The 1370 charge last year, under this item, was 63,608l.; for the present year it was 60,608l.; thus showing a saving of 3,000l. The next estimate was the charge of pensions to widows of officers: last year it was 142,987l.; this year it was 141,048l., showing a saving of 1,900l. He then came to the estimate of the charge of allowances on the compassionate list, of allowances of the royal bounty, and of pensions, gratuities, and allowances to officers for wounds. The vote last year for this purpose was 127,300l., while in the present year he asked only 124,000l.; thus making a saving of 3,300l. The next charge was for Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals, of the in-pensioners of these establishments, of the out-pensioners of Chelsea, of pensions to discharged negro soldiers, & c. There was an apparent additional charge to one item in this vote. Last year, 3,300l. was taken as the charge for allowances for paying out-pensioners of Chelsea in Great. Britain and Ireland, at the rate of 3d. per payment: he proposed this year to take an additional 10,000l. for this purpose, making altogether 13,300l. It had been for some time past in the contemplation of the Government to make some changes as to the mode of paying the out-pensioners of Chelsea Hospital. A plan for this purpose had been drawn up, and which was then under the consideration of the proper authorities, which he had little doubt, if adopted, would in the long run produce a saving to the country, and at the same time be of great advantage to the pensioners, and would tend to promote good order in society. The matter had been long before the Chelsea Board, and he believed that some plan of the kind would be shortly adopted. This could not be done without having some funds in hand for the purpose. He, therefore, thought it right to take the sum of 10,000l. for the additional charge for the payment of the out-pensioners; and if the plan was attended with the success which he expected that it would, he believed that so far from its being a loss ultimately, it would be found to be productive of great saving. The total charge for Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals, and the out pensioners for last year, was 1,274,639l., and during the present year the charge would be 1,268,906l.; showing a saving of nearly 6,000l. The next estimate was the charge of allowances, compensations, and emoluments, in the nature of superannuation or retired allowances to persons formerly belonging 1371 to the several public departments connected with the army. The charge under this head last year was 42,000l., for the present year 41,000l.; showing a saving of 1,000l. In addition, however, there was a charge of 500l., which did not appear last year. By the regular course of things, Sir Howard Douglas was entitled to an allowance of 500l., as inspector-general of the Royal Military College. The gallant Officer did not receive this amount while he was governor of the Ionian Islands, but since his return he was entitled to draw it. The whole charge last year for the non-effective branch of the service was 2,339,347l., while the amount for the present year was 2,302,901l.; thus showing a saving of 36,446l. Taking, then, the whole charge, therefore, for the effective and non-effective branches of the service, there was a saving of 27,544l. this year as compared with last year. He had stated the matter as plainly and as simply as he could, and he hoped that he had given a satisfactory explanation as to the various topics which he had alluded to. He must state, in conclusion, that he was satisfied that both sides of the House had no other object in view than to place the estimates of the country on the best footing, while having regard, on the one hand, to enforcing every practicable economy, they would not lose sight of the efficiency of the service. The right hon. Gentleman concluded with proposing the following resolution:—That a number of land forces, not exceeding 92,051 (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 of April 1841, to the 31st of March, 1842.
§ Mr. Hume
supposed that it might afford some satisfaction to the right hon. Gentleman to be informed that he did not intend to trouble the Committee at any length, or to divide against the present estimates. As the House appeared determined to keep up a war establishment in time of peace, he would only protest against the, system. He would beg the House merely to observe what a rapid increase had been made in our military establishments during the last few years. He could not help looking to the conduct of the Government since 1830. In the year 1822 the whole of our military and naval forces, including the ordinance, amounted to 100,039; in 1830, the same 1372 forces amounted to 118,975, being an increase of 18,936 men. In the present year the amount of force proposed was 43,000 for the navy, 92,051 for the army, (besides 29,070 in India), and 8,682 for the ordnance, making altogether 143,733 men. This showed an increase since 1822 of 43,694; and since 1830, of 24,758. The latter, be it recollected was the estimate of the Duke of Wellington's government, and was the state of the forces when the present administration came into office. If, therefore, economy was one of the pledges of the present Government, it did not adhere to it, as it had added largely to the number of men, and thus entailed a great expense on the country. He did not say this from any angry feeling, but he deeply regretted to see a war establishment imposed on the country, while it was said we were in a state of profound peace. This was greatly to be deplored while the country was pressed down with taxation. He could not help feeling that the state of things which induced the Government to demand these large establishments, were mainly attributable to its own conduct. First of all, their proceedings in Canada were most objectionable, and then the Government was clearly responsible for going to fight in Syria, where our forces had no business whatever. This latter proceeding had been productive of the very worst consequences as it had unfortunately estranged the French nation from strict alliance with this country, and which was ominous to the future peace of Europe. During the last few years, there had been an increase of the public expenditure to the amount of 3,369,726l. In 1836, the charge for the army, navy, and ordnance was 14,081,509l.; and in 1840, it amounted to 17,451,335l. During the present year, in consequence of the increase in the naval force, there would be an additional charge of 1,500,000l. It would thus appear that the estimates for this year would be at least five millions more than they were in 1836. He thought that it was the duty of the House to look to the enormous pressure of taxation on the mass of the people, for property was not taxed at present, but nearly all the taxes were imposed on the necessaries of life, and therefore they fell upon those engaged in industrious pursuits. Unless the House establised a property tax, and made the rich contribute to the burdens of the country as much as the poor, depend upon it the system could not continue, for at present the manufacturing population, to 1373 which the prosperity of the country was mainly attributable, were ground down, and were in a state of the greatest distress. In addition to the 143,733 men in the army, navy, and ordnance, there was also a police force in Ireland of between 5,000 and 6,000 men, and a police force in England of 10,000. These latter might be considered in the light of a military force, considering the mode in which they were organized and employed. The estimates were not such as the circumstances of the country justified, but it was almost useless opposing them, in consequence of the indifference of the House; he should, therefore, merely say, No, to the vote, but he would not divide the House. He was as; anxious as any man that the navy of this country should be placed on a proper footing, but the present estimates were great beyond all the circumstances which afforded a justification of an increase. There was a strong feeling in the country, in 1830, against the Duke of Wellington and his colleagues, for keeping up our military force to 68,000 men, but it was now not less than 92,000, and he did not see any greater cause now for a larger force than there was at that time; on the contrary, he believed that the country at that time was much more likely to be involved in a contest with foreign powers than ought to be the case now. He believed that it was our fault that a coldness had grown up between this country and France. He also believed that it was the fault of the Government that our differences with the United States had not been settled long ago, for the ultimatum from America had been sent to England several months ago. On this ground, then, they could not withdraw a large force from Canada. He believed, that if the question with the United States was settled, 10,000 men could at once be withdrawn from our North American provinces.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
had listened to the very characteristic speech of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, and was not at all surprised at the opinions which he had expressed. It might be assumed that n increased force had become necessary in consequence of the peculiar state of our foreign relations at the present time; but this was not the question which they had to consider. He regretted as much as the hon. Member for Kilkenny the increase of the public expenditure since the Duke of Wellington was in office in 1830, and since the government of his right hon. Friend in 1374 1835. It was not for them to consider whether the present expenditure was necessary or not in consequence of the state of our foreign affairs at this moment. He differed both from the hon. Member for Kilkenny and the right hon. Gentleman, as to the force to be kept up, being of opinion that the army estimates of the present year did not go far enough. The pressure on the troops, in consequence of the increased duties in the colonies, had become much greater within the last few years. He was satisfied, if the system was not soon altered, the pressure would become so great on the battalions of the line; as to deteriorate the character of the army, and within a short time it would be in such a state as to prevent its giving the requisite relief to the colonies. He had hoped that before this time the frequent complaints made on this subject would have been attended to. Was the committee aware of the present distribution of the army? Last year there were seventy-three battalions abroad in the colonies, and there were six more battalions on their passage, leaving twenty-four battalions at home. Thus making together 103 battalions of the line. This year, instead of any improvement having taken place, there were five more battalions abroad. At present there were seventy-eight battalions in the colonies, six battalions on their passage, and only nineteen at home; whilst there were strong demands for an increased number of troops both from the East Indies and America this year. Not only were five more battalions abroad, but the six battalions which were put down on their passage home, which it might be supposed would be an increase to the army at home, would, immediately on their arrival require other regiments to be sent abroad. If any hon. Gentleman would take the trouble to look into the details on this subject, he would readily see that the case was as he had described it, and that the battalions put down as being on their passage were in reality abroad. If, then, they included the number of troops on their passage, it would appear that there were eighty-four battalions abroad, and only nineteen at home. Was it possible to supply a proper relief with such a small establishment at home? Of the nineteen battalions at home, eight returned from foreign service only last year, and, therefore, only eleven were fit, in a military point of view, for service. Such then was the state of our military establishments at the present moment. Was this a state of things in which the army of Eng- 1375 land should be suffered to remain? Again, of the nineteen battalions at home, not one had returned from foreign service more than four years. He would, as an illustration, refer merely to the treatment of one regiment, and this was not a case peculiar to the service. The 22nd regiment was sent out to India only the other day, and this battalion had only returned from foreign service three and a half years. This was after ten years' service in Jamaica, previously to which it had been between four or five years in England; before this it had been stationed eight years at the Mauritius, to which colony it was removed from India after several years' service there. It was now in its regular turn of duty, on its return back to India, after having been at home only three years and a half. Thus it appeared this regiment would before it again returned home, have been fifty out of sixty years abroad, and at home not more than ten years. If this system were to be continued, a regiment of the line might be considered as almost sent to perpetual banishment. He did not mean to say that this system was the fault of the right hon. Gentleman or of the present administration; but if it was not remedied soon a most severe blow would be inflicted on the discipline of the army. He would appeal to any man whether this state of things did not inflict a great injustice on the army? He did not wish to press the Government to embark in a prodigal expenditure; but, as a military officer, he could not help feeling the great evils of the present system, and had no hesitation in declaring that if they wished to have the army in an effective state, and well officered, they must have an establishment by which more constant reliefs could be carried on for the future, so that a regiment could return to its native country after a shorter period of service abroad. He would not say whether or not the state of affairs in Canada or in the East Indies, in China or in Syria, was attributable to the Government, for that was not the question before the House. He could not help recollecting, however, that when the disturbances broke out in Canada we had nine battalions there as the peace establishment. Immediately ten battalions more were very properly sent out there, and had not since been recalled, so that at present there were nineteen battalions in that colony. In India twenty battalions were the ordinary peace establishment, three more had been sent out, and it was essentially necessary that this 1376 increase should be kept there; our forces in the Mediterranean were augmented this year by two battalions. It appeared, therefore, that the present state of our foreign relations rendered it necessary that we should take fifteen battalions more from the home service and send them abroad, than was the case a few years ago. Whether this state of things were brought about by the good conduct or by the misconduct of her Majesty's Government, he would not stop to inquire: but of this he was satisfied, that it was the duty of the Government to provide a remedy for the present state of things. The noble Lord the Member for Northumberland, who was Secretary of War last year, stated that he had often impressed upon the Government the importance of more frequent reliefs for the colonies. Instead, however, of any remedy having been provided, an increase of foreign service had taken place in almost every quarter, and there were five battalions more abroad than there were last year, and fifteen beyond the ordinary peace establishment. Wherever we had colonies, wherever we were carrying on operations, it was impossible that any member of the Government could with sincerity say that he saw before him any prospect of making a reduction in our military force in that quarter. So far indeed from any reduction being possible, the great probabilities were that in several quarters it would be found necessary to make additions. Let the committee look to the state of things in North America. He would not use any harsh expressions on this subject—he would not for a moment wish to imitate the language which had been so injudiciously uttered in Congress, the more especially when he saw the able, the manly, and straightforward manner in which our Minister, Mr. Fox, fulfilled his duty there; but let the committee look to the state of things in North America, and they would hardly say that there appeared any prospect of a possibility for some time of reducing our military force in that direction. Now, what was the number abroad of our infantry of the line, for upon this class of troops the greatest pressure fell? The number abroad and on their passage out was 60,000, while the number at home was 26,400, including depots, and the estimate before the committee augmented the number only by nine men. Indeed for all the purposes of Great Britain and the British colonies there was not an addition of even nine men, but, on the contrary, a diminution of 1,400 employed in 1377 India and abstracted from the other colonies, so that we were meeting the difficulties that were accumulating around us on every side by a peace establishment These were not merely his (Sir Henry Hardinge's) opinions, they were the opinions of a late Cabinet Minister, a recent colleague of the noble Lord opposite—they were the opinions of Lord Howick, as expressed by him when Secretary at War, in 1838. Speaking of the affairs of Canada, that noble Lord then said, that if the then increasing demands on the army were kept up, they could not go on without a large increase of the military establishments of the country, and he should appeal to the liberality of the country to enable him to make this increase.
§ Lord J. Russell
remarked, that the objections made to the estimates by the hon. Member for Kilkenny and the right hon. Gentleman were very different. The hon. Member for Kilkenny complained of a very great increase of force as compared with that of 1830; while the right hon. Gentleman complained of the present estimate as too small, and urged a considerable addition. As the matter now stood, he (the noble Lord) did not agree with either objection; and while he admitted, that a very considerable increase of force had taken place, he did not think there was a necessity of increasing the army still more. The hon. Member for Kilkenny said we had made a very large increase since 1830, and he asked what was the reason of this? Now, without entering into any defence of the foreign policy of this country, or of the policy of the Government towards Canada, he thought that the circumstances connected with our foreign policy and the insurrection in Canada were a sufficient justification of that increase. The hon. Member for Kilkenny reasoned in rather an unfair way, and decided the question for himself in a some, what too arbitrary and severe a tone. He threw the blame of everything all at once upon the Government. He said, when they came forward for an increase of the forces in Canada, that it was their fault, because they did not choose to yield to the demands of those who were disaffected to the Crown. When a force was required to move towards the American frontier, he said, again, it was the fault of the Ministers. When our position, with regard to France, was spoken of, again the hon. Member said, it was their fault that the former friendly feelings between the two countries 1378 no longer existed. And whether the question regarded this particular Government, or any other, the hon. Gentleman always presumed that his own country was always in the wrong, and that England, as compared to France or the United States, or even in transactions with Mr. Papineau or Mr. Mackenzie, was always the party to blame. He could never think that' his own country could at any time happen to be in the right; but that in every case it began the quarrel without just reason. The summary of the hon. Gentleman's argument was this—" You must be wrong—I know the quarrel is all your beginning. You are the disturbers of the peace, and therefore the increase of force you propose is unjustifiable." Now he would not admit this short mode of settling the question. He could show, if it were proper to go into details at present, that the Government were not at all to blame; at all events they were supported by Parliament in these transactions, and were fully justified in asking for the increase of force they had thought it necessary to demand. The hon. Gentleman said, that the regular force of our army, navy, and ordnance, amounted to 143,000, which was an increase of 43,000 over the estimates of 1822, and of 25,000 over those of 1830. Now, with regard to the estimates of 1822, the hon. Member for Kilkenny and others pressed the House to make a very great reduction so strongly that a considerable diminution was made; but both the Government and the House of Commons thought, after a year or two, that they had gone too far, and the Government were obliged to recruit to the amount of 8,000 or 10,000 men. With respect to the estimates of 1830, he thought no fault could be found with them, considering the circumstances of the country at the time. But the circumstances of the country had of late, especially within three or four years, considerably changed; and, without entering into the merits of the different questions, he would merely lake occasion to remark that an error was apt to prevail with many in discussions of this description. People were apt to say it was very extraordinary that, after twenty-five years of peace, it should be thought necessary to keep up such large establishments. He owned that, after a good deal of observation, looking at the state of the various divisions of the world, and seeing the establishments that were preparing in other countries, his impression was, that a very long duration 1379 of peace had a tendency to make men estimate too lightly the horrors, and the almost incalculable evils of war. As for those who had lived in times of war—men like the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his superiors, who had held high commands in armies, and had had high personal experience of the evils of war—these were also the men that appeared to him most highly to value the blessings of peace; and he was most anxious to avert the calamities of war either in America or in Europe. It was the young generation of men, who grew up without any personal knowledge of the miseries and hardships of warfare, and who had seen none of the evil consequences it left behind; it was these inexperienced people who were most inclined to take offence, to make the most of injuries, to push demands to the utmost, and to insist that a country should be continually prepared to enter into that hostile state, of the dire realities of which they were happily ignorant. It was therefore for this very reason, because we had had twenty-five years of peace, that it seemed to him far more requisite to be prepared than immediately after the termination of a war. Certainly we could not fail to be struck with the very great efforts a neighbouring country was making to increase its establishments; in one item alone there appeared a demand of 12,000,000l. for military and naval works; and we had seen in public meetings, and in the senate of the United States persons holding language very unbecoming in those who came forward to speak upon so grave and critical a subject as the present relations between the two countries. He must therefore say, upon these general grounds, considering the state of relations that had lately prevailed, and the dispositions manifested by various countries to increase their establishments, that it appeared to him our own force ought to be increased. But the right hon. Gentleman, instead of complaining of the increase, said, that on the contrary, we had not men enough, considering the exertions our troops were called upon to make, and the unfrequency of the relief now afforded to them. The right hon. Gentlemen, therefore, contended that we should make a considerable increase in our establishments. Now, as to the services performed by the British army, he hoped it would not be inferred from anything he had said or might say, that he was in the least degree disposed to undervalue those services. On the contrary, he entertained 1380 the highest opinion of the merits of our soldiers. He believed, that no army in the world made such exertions, not only in campaigns, as proved by the splendid triumphs they had achieved, and the glorious victories they had gained, but in those general labours which required untiring perseverance and constant patience and fortitude. The whole tenor of their conduct—in war, in peace, in encountering the fatigues and privations in distant, unwholesome, and too often in fatal climates, and under the bereavements entailed by long absence from their native land, had earned and had obtained the approbation and thanks of their Sovereign and country. But the Government and Parliament must consider, having called upon the army to make those exertions, what the country could consistently do for them, and whether, in fact, it was not necessary to call upon our soldiers for those exertions, which were made without murmuring, and with unceasing devotion. Now, the hon. Gentleman should be aware, that the total effective force of the home and colonial service in 1830 was 81,164 men; and, for 1841 and 1842, it was 91,364, being an increase of more than 10,000 men. The extraordinary service required beyond the estimate of 1830 was especially for duty in Canada; but the service in Canada, in the first place, did not require an increase of infantry of more than 7,000 or 8,000 men. In the North American provinces, there were two regiments of cavalry and two battalions of guards. It should be remembered, in considering the service in Canada, that the duties were not excessive, that the climate was not unhealthy, and that there was a great difference between that station and the West-Indies, or other more unhealthy climates. As regarded the Mauritius, the right hon. Gentleman was right in stating, that it would be impossible to dimish the force there. In Jamaica, the force had been diminished to a battalion; but he concurred with the right hon. Gentleman, that it was unwise to leave a single battalion to do the duty of so important a station. As for the Mediterranean, two additional regiments were sent there in the autumn, to Malta and the Ionian Islands, but he (Lord J. Russell) trusted it would not be necessary to keep that additional force there. The number of the garrison at Gibralter, was fixed, and during peace it would not be necessary to increase it. With respect to India the question was undoubtedly one of very great 1381 importance, particularly when they came to consider the subject of relief as regarded those regiments which were to have come home, but which recent events in China and elsewhere rendered it necessary to detain. The state of India had nut altered the force there; it consisted of twenty regiments of the line as before, but the number of men was increased, so that the aggregate strength of the army was considerably larger; but as to the question of relief, beyond the detention of those regiments, which would, under other circumstances, have come home, it would be unnecessary to make any other change. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted the observations of his noble Friend, the Member for Northumberland, to the effect that the the great demands in so many directions upon the services of the British army, made it necessary that some measures for increasing its strength should be adopted. He knew that his noble Friend had devoted a great deal of attention to this subject, and his experience must render his decision of great value. The right, hon. Gentleman allowed, that while such demands upon the services of the British army existed, there must necessarily be a small number of regiments at home, and a very great proportion abroad. But some details should be considered to show that the real and actual occupation and division of each regiment was different from what, upon the first notice, it might appear to be; every regiment had six companies abroad and four at home. In India and New South Wales, the proportion of officers was six to four, and of men 600 to 200. Therefore, it was not quite correct, when we were told that so many regiments were abroad, to say that the whole of those regiments were abroad, seeing that a certain proportion of officers and men remained at home. To these should be added the fact, that invalids were constantly returning to this country, recruits were going out, and officers were leaving and arriving. If, therefore, we desired a more frequent system of relief, it would be necessary in the first instance to diminish the strength of the depôts at home, and then we should have a smaller number of regiments abroad. This point had occupied a good deal of the attention of persons conversant with military matters, and his noble Friend, the Member for Northumberland, drew up a plan which received the serious consideration of the Government. But on consulting the Commander-in-chief and the 1382 Duke of Wellington, and hearing the military reasons those generals gave for maintaining the present system rather than any other, he was convinced by the authority of Lord Hill and the Duke of Wellington, and also by the arguments they brought forward, that it was better to keep up the present system without any alteration. While, therefore, one consequence of the present system was, that the Government imposed more hardship on the army than apparently was necessary, in keeping so many regiments abroad, the point of view on the other side of the case should not be lost sight of. Except in Canada, it could not be said, that the demands upon the troops were very extraordinary. In a national sense, the advantages were more obvious. There were always greater demands upon British troops than upon the soldiers of any other country; but the consequence was, that while foreign troops, being levied and dismissed according to occasion, did, when encamped, or in the duties of a campaign, display the effects of combination and discipline; our soldiers, under the practice of the continuous service they performed, acquired a character for efficiency in peace as well as in war. Their army was distinguished by the permanence and discipline of the service. He did not say, that it would not be necessary at a later period to ask that House for an increase in their military forces; such would entirely depend upon the state of their foreign relations. He thought it might have been advisable last year to propose a reduction in the army, but it was found impossible that any such reduction could take place, and none accordingly was made. It had been truly stated by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, that the army, during late years, had been considerably increased, but he trusted the House would see the impossibility of reducing it. He therefore trusted that the Committee would now agree to the proposition of his right hon. Friend.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, he for one was prepared to give a cordial sanction to the proposition now made as to the military force of this country; giving it, that was to say, in the firm conviction and reliance that the demand now made by the executive government did not exceed the exigencies of the case. At the same time, he should be exceedingly sorry to see any increase of the military force of this country which could afford a pretext, or any rational ground, for foreign powers to 1383 increase their military establishments also. He should be sorry, indeed, for us to set an example to other powers of an unnecessary amount of military force. There was some justice in the remark of the noble Lord, that the long enjoyment of the blessings of peace did not necessarily indispose man to the recurrence of war. The present generation had not been practically acquainted with the calamities of war, and was, therefore, perhaps not so indisposed to incur the terrible evils as those who had had the fearful experience of their effects. But he thought those took a false estimate of the people over whom they governed, if they supposed that there were not other evils besides the devastation of countries and the bloodshed of war. He apprehended, that it would soon be felt by every country in Europe, keeping up these vast armaments, that the expenses of these establishments and the taxation necessary for their support, would so fetter the industry, and so interfere ultimately with the tranquillity of those countries, that something short of actual collision would convince them of the necessity of preserving amicable relations. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume) had dwelt on the present state of the finances of the country as a powerful argument against increase. No one could feel more deeply than he did the embarrassed state of the finances, or contemplate with more anxiety the growing deficiency of the revenue. It was impossible to deny, that the deficiency of the last; three years, amounting to, he believed,; 4,500,000l., presented a most unsatisfactory subject for contemplation. But that formed no reason for neglecting to take timely precautions. It might be a good reason, however, for dispensing with all superflous expenditure; but he maintained, that where the essential interests of the country were involved, the state of the finances afforded no pretext for neglecting to take precautions, by the omission of which, the country might be involved in a tenfold expense. This was a question on which they ought not to be governed solely by considerations of economy, and he therefore saw no reason why this should be urged as a motive for not placing the military and naval establishments on a footing which the best interests of the country required. But while he gave his vote in favour of these estimates, he must confess, at the same time, 1384 that he did so upon information utterly imperfect and unsatisfactory. He did not recollect the time when the House of Commons had been put in possession of such scanty information as to the real position in which the country stood. Take the state of our interests in Central Asia; take the position of affairs across the Indus. What means had they of ascertaining the extent of the necessity for increased military operations in that quarter? Again, with respect to the expedition to China, the House was left in a state of total ignorance—there were rumours of failure. He had a strong impression that our relations with the United States were not in so satisfactory a slate as to admit of a reduction in the forces of this country. That was but his impression; but he had no means of forming a correct judgment. As far as official information went, they were in a state of profound peace, and no necessity could possibly exist for an increase. He had heard at the end of last Session, and indeed for the last twenty years, that every state and principality of Europe were earnestly desirous of maintaining peace. That he had heard at the end of last Session, and again at the beginning of this—that her Majesty had had the satisfaction of receiving from foreign Powers assurances of their most friendly dispositions, and of their earnest desire to maintain peace, whilst on the continent the neighbouring powers were increasing their establishments by 4,000, or 5,000 men. He hoped, that whatever might be the pressure of these young and ardent spirits, their governments would feel such a responsibility to the permanent public opinion of their country as to enable them to resist such provocations. It was no less the interest of England than it was that of every other Power to avoid entering into a war on grounds which never could come to a termination—a war not undertaken to forward the essential interests of any, and without any intelligible object—a war, the horrors of which might be protracted through ten years, and from which he should be sorry to see any glory derived. He never remembered a lime when less rational ground for hostilities existed in Europe. He hoped, then, that there were none who would provoke them. He earnestly hoped, that the power of public opinion, coupled with the material interests inseparably connected with civi- 1385 lisation and the advancement of refinement—he hoped that the public opinion of Europe would prove powerful enough to control the governments, and frown down those uneasy and irritating spirits which would involve the world in endless strife. Yet, while he said this, let him say too, that did the material interests of this country clearly compel us to go to war, then would foreign Powers see an entire oblivion among us of internal dissensions, and all would unite in the attainment of the one great national object. He could afford to counsel peace, because, were the interests, the honour, the essential welfare of the country involved in war, he could forget that counsel, and, standing by the ancient fame and reputation of this great people, lend his voice for war, in order to prove to the world that our military fame stood now as high as ever. He felt convinced that England, Scotland, and Ireland too—notwithstanding the imputations he had heard on that country—he felt convinced that the three great divisions of the United Kingdom would all be ready to prove to the world that their prowess was not diminished, and that all were equally ready to support the national interests, and vindicate the national honour. So much for the general principles on which he was ready to support the proposed vote, and in which he was bound to say he would have supported a larger vote, if her Majesty's Government had proposed it. At all events, if her Majesty's Government should see reason at a later period of the Session to propose an increase in the military force, he should, on the same principle, support it. Certainly the addition which had been made, and very wisely made, to the naval force of the country, might be supposed to lessen the necessity of an immediate increase of the military force. However, little as was his confidence in the present Government, and determinedly as he was opposed to them, if they should require, during the present Session, an increase of military force, and state its necessity on their responsibility, he should certainly give his assent to it. He did hope that those circumstances which seemed to threaten the general tranquillity would be shortly dissipated, and the present force be found amply sufficient. Independently of these circumstances, he thought it was the duty of the House towards the army to prevent so severe a pressure on the different regi- 1386 ments. The fact which had been stated that a certain regiment, now sent to India had, been for fifty years on foreign service, and only ten years at home, in the space of sixty years, indicated a state of thing which he could not contemplate without great anxiety. In the first place, it was a great evil that the British soldier should be away from his native land for so long a period. He thought there were great objections to sending the army for so long a period to the colonies, where a very different slate of society existed—where the tone and temper upon constitutional questions and principles were altogether different. This long expatriation and long interruption of intercourse with the feelings and habits of their native countries was a great evil so far as the constitution of the British army was concerned. He should see with infinitely greater satisfaction an arrangement which permitted a longer duration of service at home. The state of the service in the British army was such as to render its pressure exceedingly severe. If that was the case, it suggested matter for grave consideration—whether the strain might not be too great. It was a very important consideration, whether it might not be such as to break down the energies of the troops, too if there were any such danger he would tell the noble Lord that even considerations of economy would dictate an increase of the military force. Therefore, independently of the state of our foreign relations, seeing the immense length of time during which regiments were obliged to serve abroad he thought there were ample grounds for maintaining at least the present extent of our force. When he read the accounts from the United States—when he looked at the position of affairs with respect to the apprehension and detention of Mr. M'Leorl—when he heard from the noble Lord that the destruction of the Caroline had been avowed by the right hon. man—that orders had been sent demand the liberation and to give protection to Mr. M'Leod—and when he considered what had since occurred with regard to that Gentleman, he could not but feel that these things afforded matter for the gravest consideration. He would n to expressions which had fallen from members of the Congress of the United States. He was disposed to speak of that great country with the most sincere respect but, consistently with that feeling, he must say 1387 he did not think it would be for the true policy of this country to purchase any settlement of the present difficulty by any unjust concessions. He hoped they would never forget the claims which the inhabitants of the North American Provinces had upon the mother country; and while he most sincerely deprecated war with any country—and especially with that one which was united to us by the ties of ancient descent and a common language— yet, if the interests of England required resistance to wrong, all his desires and aspirations for peace would vanish before the determination to stand by his country, and to insist that justice should be done.
§ Viscount Howick
regretted that he had not been present to hear the opening speech of his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War. He cordially concurred in the sentiments which had been just expressed by the right hon. Baronet. Like him, he was most anxious for the preservation of peace; and he believed that, if the present tranquillity was disturbed, the aggressors would be guilty of unexampled wickedness and folly. He hoped the interests of commerce, by binding nations together, would avert the dangers which seem to threaten, and he trusted that Parliament would endeavour to strengthen those ties, and multiply those interests. But, unhappily, if war should arise, he had no doubt that internal dissensions and differences of opinion on domestic questions would be entirely forgotten in the general desire to maintain the honour and character of this country. He should only allude further to a topic which had been discussed at some length, namely, the severity of the service at the present time, which, under the existing military arrangements, was imposed on the infantry of the British army. He had no hesitation in stating his opinion that that pressure was more than ought to be imposed on those gallant men. He had no doubt his noble Friend the Secretary of Slate, was right in saying that no murmuring or complaint was to be heard from the officers or soldiers of the British army. The high character, zeal, and devotion, which they had ever shown, would prevent any such thing. But the absence of complaint, if there was real ground for it, had, so far from making him less anxious to remove the cause, increased, if possible, his desire to prevent any undue pressure on those who so devotedly bear it. In the year 1838 he (Lord Howick) did, with 1388 the concurrence and direct authority of the cabinet, of which he was then a Member, expressly declare in the House that the pressure imposed on the British infantry, owing to arrangements then necessary in consequence of the insurrection in Canada, was so severe, that it ought not to be continued. He then said, that if it should turn out that this pressure was not temporary, but likely to continue; the Government, of which he had the honour of being the organ in these matters, would consider itself pledged to come down to the House and propose means for diminishing that pressure. He was authorised in 1838 to convey that pledge to the House. Since that time three years had passed away, and had that pressure been diminished? He regretted that the contrary was the fact, he did not wish to go into details, because it was inconvenient to discuss the number of battallions quartered in particular places, and he could hardly enter on such discussion without availing himself of information acquired when in office in a manner which would not be altogether approved of. But there could be no objection to stating the broad and simple fact which appeared from journals devoted to military affairs, that the number of battallions at present abroad us compared with the number at home, instead of being diminished since 1838, had been augmented. He had that day seen in one of those journals a return of the stations of the British army on the 1st of March, by which it appeared that there were at this moment only twenty battallions in this country. [Sir Henry Hardinge, nineteen.] Well, it was no matter which. If he recollected right, there were, in 1838, twenty eight battallions at home; and at no period had the number fallen below twenty-five. That was a great and serious alteration with respect to the condition of the soldiers composing the force. There was an increase of near one-fifth on the proportion of regiments abroad, as compared with the proportion three years ago. and there was necessarily a great abridgment in the period of the service which could be passed at home. The fact with respect to the 22d. regiment, that after returning from ten years' service in Jamaica, in April, 1837, they were now sent out to India probably for twenty years' further service, was alone sufficient to carry conviction to every man. His noble Friend had referred to certain questions, with respect to the mode in which the British army was organised— to division into service and depot companies. 1389 He would not enter into a question so purely technical. He thought the depots essential from the nature of the service, but in spite of the authority against him, he thought there might be some modification of that system, which, without interfering with its object, would tend to the relief of the men. If they did not take that mode of relieving the present pressure, they must take some other. It was no answer to say, that the depots being essential, the severity of the service, such as it was must be borne. Those who were responsible and who deliberately determined that the depot system must continue unaltered, were bound to find other means of giving the army the relief to which it was entitled. His noble Friend knew that that was an opinion which he did not bring forward in that place, having withheld it when he was in a place of greater authority. His noble Friend was perfectly aware that he (Lord Howick) had consented to bring forward the estimates of 1839, on the distinct pledge that some mode or other should be adopted for mitigating the pressure upon the British army. Various measures were in agitation at that time. He did not say that any one was matured or determined upon, but certainly those estimates never would have been moved by him if he had not had, what he believed was a perfect assurance that the pressure upon the army should not be continued. He would not repeat what had been much better stated by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, but he must say, he entirely concurred with him as to the extreme impolicy, the miserable, short-sighted economy of pursuing this system of severity. He was perfectly persuaded, from the information he had received from various quarters, that if there was one circumstance more than another which prevented the services of the British army from being as popular as it ought to be, it was that the relatives of a man who enlisted under the present system considered that his entering the army was equivalent to never seeing him again. It was looked upon as an eternal separation. These felings, amongst the class from which the army was drawn, more than anything else tended to render the service unpopular, notwithstanding the great pains taken of late years—and which he was sure would continue to be taken—to improve the condition of the troops. He would not go more particularly into the discussion, as he was absent at the early part of it, but he must say that it was a matter of great 1390 disappointment to him to find that the army estimates should have been brought forward three years after he had been authorized to make the pledge he had referred to, without any measure being actually carried into effect for the accomplishment of the object then intended. He thought it the duty of her Majesty's Government, and the duty of the House, to press on the Government the necessity of providing that those brave men who formed the army and underwent such severe service, should be enabled to pass a greater proportion of time in home service than they did at present.
§ Mr. Macaulay
wished to say a few words on the subject of the remarks which had been just addressed to the House, because he should be sorry to yield to his noble Friend in anxiety to see the British army relieved from what was admitted to be a severe pressure. He must remind his noble Friend, that the imputation, as he must call it, which his noble Friend had thrown out against the Government for not having redeemed the pledge made through his (Lord Howick's) mouth, was not altogether well founded. Subsequent to the time at which that promise had been given, his noble Friend had himself proposed an additional force of 5,000 men, and for that additional force two reasons were given. One was, the disturbed state of the country at the time, and the other the necessity of granting some relief to the troops employed in the colonies. Happily these disturbances existed no longer, and if they were only to look at the internal condition of the country, we hoped and trusted they might spare the 5,000 men, which had been then added to the army. That additional force would have acted as a relief to the troops abroad, and have redeemed the pledge, but for other circumstances which made the Government think it wise to increase the force abroad. In the general principle which had been laid down he fully concurred. But the hon. Member for Kilkenny, seemed, in what he addressed to the House, to forget that the amount of force in England must be determined by the wants of the whole empire. The amount of force in Jamaica need not be more than was necessary for the defence of Jamaica. The force in the Mauritius need not be more than was sufficient for the defence of the Mauritius, but unless the position of the whole army was to be worse than that of convicts—worse than that of men transported for fourteen years 1391 —a force bearing a certain proportion to the wants of the whole empire must be kept in this country. Even if the state of this country were such as not to require a single soldier to preserve its tranquility; if policemen were sufficient to keep the peace in every corner of the empire, yet if the colonies required 60,000 men, the force in England must bear a reasonable proportion to that force, in order to give the troops a period of comfortable residence at home. He felt with his noble Friend that the present pressure upon the army ought not to continue, but it was necessary to determine whether there were any chance of that pressure ceasing before making addition to the forces. If circumstances took a contrary turn—if he felt convinced that the present pressure of the service was not accidental, but likely to be permanent, he could only say that his disposition to remove so great an evil was not less than that of his noble Friend.
§ Lord A. Lennox
begged to put a question to the Master-general of the Ordnance. He alluded to what he considered to be of vast importance to the efficiency of the army, namely, the issue of percussion firelocks to the troops. He understood that it was intended to furnish troops on their return from abroad with percussion firelocks. Now, if these firelocks added to the efficiency of the army, it was important that troops on foreign stations should be rendered equally efficient. He could say of the old firelocks, that one quarter, if not one-half of them, were totally and perfectly useless. With respect to desertions, he could state that the number of desertions abroad was nothing like what it was at home. In his own regiment, at St. John's, there had been but one desertion in the quarter ending January last.
Sir H. Vivian
said, the question the noble Lord had put to him was one that would come more properly on Monday next, when he hoped to have an opportunity of moving the Ordnance Estimates, and when he would explain fully the state of preparation in which the Ordnance Department is for supplying the British army with percussion arms. The noble Lord has spoken of the badness of the present arms. Some regiments having already been supplied with percussion arms, he hoped it was not to these arms, that the noble Lord referred, when he speaks of one-fourth of them not going off. The reports received from those regiments had 1392 been most favourable. Having been thus called up by the noble Lord he would say a few words on the subject, which had been under discussion on the Relief of Regiments from foreign service: he fully admitted that the severity of the service in the colonies was very great, and he fully concurred in the opinion of his right hon. and gallant Friend opposite, (Sir H. Hardinge,) in thinking that it was due to the British soldier to take some means of relieving him from it; but at the same time he could not but observe that when it was said this or that regiment had been some fifteen or twenty years on foreign service; in reality it was but few of the men who had gone out with it who had returned with [cheers]. He well understood the cheers of the hon. Members opposite, this they would say proved their case, a regiment was now kept so long on foreign service that all who had embarked with it were expended; but he would beg to observe this was not exactly the case. The depot companies at home afforded some relief; officers and men either from ill health or from other causes, were constantly returning to those companies from the service companies, and although it might be said of the 22nd, or any other regiment that it had been twenty years on foreign service, in truth it could only be truly said, that a regiment bearing this number had been absent so long; very many of the men who had originally embarked with it having returned to the depot. Many no doubt had died, and of the men returning with the regiment very many it would be found, had within a short period been sent out to it at a great expense. At the same time he could not but admit that under the present system, colonial service bore very hard on the soldiers of the British army; that system was not one calculated to meet the great demand on the British army in consequence of the great increase of our Colonies, the increase of the army had not kept pace with the increase of the duties they were required to perform, and he sat down giving it as his decided opinion, that it was very desirable the system of colonial relief should be revised, and it would afford him great pleasure to see the subject fully gone into and investigated.
§ Mr. Macaulay
wished to add a word. During the last year a measure had been adopted by the War-office, with the consent of the military authorities, which, 1393 although it would not facilitate relief abroad, would very much facilitate relief to individuals, and would afford additional relief to soldiers who happened to be in unhealthy climates.
Sir De Lacy
Evans regretted the tone used by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, although he had no doubt that it arose from the great zeal he felt in the cause of the army. He did not think it consistent with the state of the case that this question should be argued as if it was a grievance upon the army. He believed it was indispensable to the efficiency of the army that more relief should be afforded; but he could not help thinking it inexpedient to use a lone of language year after year which was likely to produce a certain degree of feeling among the troops abroad that they were unfairly treated. He had no doubt that the Government was extremely anxious to afford a remedy for the evils that existed.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
was not aware that his tone was of the description stated by the hon. and gallant Member. On all occasions, and upon every subject, he thought he was quite as prudent as the gallant Officer. He recollected circumstances connected with the military authorities in which the gallant Officer had not been characterized by prudence of tone.
§ Sir De Lacy Evans
said that the right hon. Gentleman was entirely mistaken. He did not say a word about the right hon. Gentleman's interference in this matter. He merely said that he believed the right hon. Gentleman was actuated by zeal and good motives; but he did object to the tone in which he addressed the House, and he had a right to object to it, because he conceived it not calculated to increase good feeling in the army. He might have been in error, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman had taken up the matter with a degree of warmth which was not at all called for. As to his (Sir De L. Evans') want of prudence, he believed that no one more frequently indulged in unguarded language than the right hon. Gentleman, but he had not the slightest intention of rebuking the right hon. Gentleman; he merely expressed a sincere wish that the tone adopted in the course of the debate might not produce unpleasant feelings in the army.
§ Mr. Hume
said that there was a very easy mode of affording relief to the troops abroad, They bad in all 92,000 troops, 1394 of whom 46,000 were at home. If the principle of rotation were fairly adopted and regiments were at home five years and abroad five years, there would be no severe pressure to complain of.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the motion that a sum not exceeding 3,510,744l. be granted towards defraying the expenses of her Majesty's land forces at home and abroad, exclusive of India,
§ Viscount Howick
begged to ask the Secretary of War if he would lay on the Table an account of the progress in forming barrack libraries.
§ Mr. Macaulay
said he would be very happy to lay on the Table a statement of the number of libraries that had been formed, as well as copies of the rules under which they were established.
§ Mr. Macaulay
said it was advanced to the paymasters and placed in the military chest for the purpose of paying the interest of three-and-a-half per cent, on deposits.
§ Viscount Howick
said he thought the amount of interest did not afford a sufficient inducement to the soldiers to make deposits.
§ Vote agreed to.