§ Captain Boldero
said, that in rising to bring these estimates under consideration he should not detain the House for any length of time. The estimates for the present year had been framed with a strict regard to economy, and he was happy to state that they presented a great diminution upon those of last year. That diminution indeed, amounted to not less than 258,129l., and he believed he might say that had it not been for the calamitous fire which occurred at the Tower, and which had entailed a heavy extra expenditure, there would have appeared on the face of the returns a diminution of not less than 100,000l. in addition to the amount he had stated. Before, however, he went into particulars he desired to call the attention of the House to a matter on which some comments had been made by two hon. Members within its walls. He referred to the statements which had been made as to the condition of the old flint muskets. Several singular statements had been made on this subject. An hon. Member had said that on board a certain vessel scarcely one musket would go off except at half-cock. As soon as he (Captain Boldero) heard that assertion he decided on sending an ordnance inspector to examine the muskets of the ship in question. That inspector had gone down to Portsmouth and had made a report. He stated that the chest of muskets was brought on shore at twelve o'clock on the day of the arrival of the ship in question—that it was opened in his presence—that he found it to contain eighty-seven muskets with regular flint locks, thirty-five of the Indian pattern and had ten of the altered Indian pattern, being 132 in all; that of those 132, five muskets had had their cocks broken by violence, no doubt by accident, and that the rest were perfectly sound, only that about twenty had seen more service than the rest. The inspector put aside the five which were broken, and collected the 127 to be cleaned and freed from dirt, putting in new flints where they were wanted. No repairs were made to any of them, and by half past one o'clock the same day they were put into the hands of a party of the Royal Artillery, who fired three rounds from them in the presence of the inspector and their officers. The result was, that of the three rounds fired, two muskets missed in the first round, three in the second round, five in the third round, and 322 six in the fourth round, being sixteen casualties out of 381 rounds from these flint muskets fired, as he said before, in a dirty and neglected state. These muskets were then tried at half-cock, and none of them were found to go off; so that the assertion of the hon. Member to that effect was evidently not borne out, and the circumstance he detailed, if it even occurred at all, must have arisen from the muskets not being kept clean on board the ship, and not, as had been insinuated, from the inefficiency of the fire-arms themselves. With regard to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Carlow on the same subject, he would tell that hon. Member what was the condition of the musketry of his own regiment. He believed the hon. Member belonged to the 32nd foot. [Captain Layard: I have that honour.] He would give that hon. Member an account of the state of the fire-arms in that regiment. The last official report stated that the arms of the 32nd were in a serviceable condition—quite clean, and in a fit state to be used. Now with regard to the new muskets. The percussion principle was first introduced into the British army under the auspices of the late lamented Master-general. Lord Vivian, however, took four years to consider and test the merits of these muskets before he ventured to sanction their introduction. He knew, no doubt, the dangers of too suddenly changing the arms of the British soldier, and he took time to consider the advantage which would be gained from the introduction of the percussion lock, as well as the comparative merits of the other designs which were submitted to him. The result was, that he at last decided that no better system could be invented, and in 1839 he accordingly brought the percussion into use. He might here mention, as worthy of observation, that since the last peace, a period of now nearly thirty years, not a single musket had been purchased by the Government. The establishment at Enfield had been abolished, but it was re-established by that distinguished officer, the late Master-general, and in combination with the Tower of London and the Government establishment at Birmingham, enabled the ordnance to construct 1,000 muskets a-week. It was said by some that these muskets were not made with care, and that new inventions and improvements were not subjected to a fair test. Now, it was a fact, 323 that no less than eighty-four specimens of improvements and inventions had been within the last five years submitted to the Government. In every case these specimens had been sent down to Woolwich, and subjected to a test by competent judges at the Arsenal, who had hitherto found that nothing superior to the percussion had been designed. But, as he was saying, 1,000 of these muskets could be manufactured with ease in a-week. He believed, that if it were necessary, they could extend the power of manufacturing to 2,000 a-week, and that if an imperative necessity should arise — which God forbid, they might make as many per diem as they now made per week. The muskets, in that case, would not of course be so highly finished as they now were, but, although deteriorated in value, they would be equally secure. But now he had to state how far the percussion muskets had been introduced into use in our army. At present-fifty-one regiments were possessed of them; the coast-guard and the constabularly force used them to the exclusion of all others, and they were also used by all the cavalry and rifle regiments, with the exception of the Canadian regiment just raised, which would however be supplied with them in the course of three months. He would just run over the different votes, and point out the different alterations which had been made in them since last year. The first vote was for the civil service of the Ordnance, including the Tower, the office at Pall-mall, the departments at Woolwich, the out stations of the United Kingdom, and the foreign stations. In this vote there was a small increase of 3,034l., arising from an increase in the pay of the junior branches of the service. The next vote was for the Royal Engineers, Sappers and Miners, and in this, too, there was a small increase of 1,572l.,arising from more officers being employed. In the third vote, for the Royal Artillery, the charge this year was 6,688l. less than last year, which was the consequence chiefly of 300 men being employed less this year than the last. He had to inform the House that a body of African gunners had been added to the artillery in Jamaica, which had been found remarkably serviceable. He thought it right to state to the House, on the authority of Colonel Rudyard, from whom the hon. Member quoted a report, dated November 14, 1842, that the body had answered ex- 324 tremely well, It was very creditable to Colonel Rudyard. He had also the satisfaction of stating that the mortality amongst our troops at Jamaica had considerably diminished, it having been by the last returns not more than 2 per cent., and there were very few persons in the hospital. The fourth vote, "The Salaries to Barrack-masters in the United Kingdom and on Foreign Stations," was about the same as last year, and required no remarks. The fifth vote concerned the important works which had been begun by the late Government, and were considered necessary by the present Government for the permanent accommodation of our troops in different places in the manufacturing districts. The temporary barracks had been found both inconvenient and extravagant; and the late Government had resolved on erecting permanent barracks, which the present Government approved of. In 1839 there had been voted for this purpose 10,000l.; in 1840, 12,000l.; last year 30,000l., and this year 45,000l. He had himself inspected the state of our barracks last year, and he had found them in some places extremely bad. At Bolton he found the temporary barracks quite disgraceful. In a room seventy-two feet long by thirty-six broad, and twelve high, he had found forty-eight soldiers crowded, and the smoke was so thick that he could not see them. The barracks were so bad, that he had recommended that the troops should be withdrawn, if better accommodation for them could not be obtained; and when the inhabitants were threatened with the withdrawal of the troops, they provided a better temporary barracks for them. He believed it was necessary for the safety of the troops to build a barrack for them, for on one occasion a plot had been laid to seize the arms of the soldiers, which might have caused great mischief. To have a secure place for the soldiers, therefore, apart from the people, would prevent bloodshed. At the same time, there would be a considerable saving of money, for at present a large sum annually was expended in providing very imperfect accommodation. The sixth vote showed a small decrease of 13,937l. The seventh vote, relative to stores, showed a great diminution, no less than 81,804l. The eighth vote he passed by, under the head of unprovided. Under the ninth vote, that for superannuations, there was a decrease of 1,983l., as compared to last 325 year, in consequence of the falling in of some superannuated allowances. In the tenth vote, for the commissariat supplies of the United Kingdom, there was a diminution of 24,721l. He had now gone through all the votes briefly, without departing from the subject immediately before the committee, and he would conclude by moving, that the sum of 124,861l. be voted to her Majesty for the salaries of the officers of Ordnance civil establishments at the Tower, Pall-mall, Woolwich, the out stations in the United Kingdom, and at foreign stations.
§ Mr. Hume
was not disposed to find fault with the reductions announced by the hon. Member, but he thought they ought to have been greater. We were now returning from a state of war—for we had been at war—to a state of peace, and he, therefore, saw no reason for keeping up such large establishments. He saw by the votes that they still kept up the establishments at Pall-mall and the Tower, and they would save a great deal if they would place all the stores in the Tower, and have only one office. He objected also to the ordnance being a department of itself, and thought that it should be regulated here as in all other countries. In Russia, in France, in Belgium, the military branch of the ordnance was placed under the commander-in-chief, and formed part of the army. So it ought to be here. Our ordnance establishment should be divided: the military branch of it should be placed under the commander-in-chief, the civil branch should be a mere store department; and, if that plan were adopted, he was sure they might save one-third of the present expense. He was of opinion also, that in general the Government should contract for stores, instead of buying them. He did not object to the establishment at Enfield, because the Government, it was said, could not get good muskets, unless it made them—could not get them elsewhere; but there were no other stores, he believed, but what might be purchased cheaper than they could be made. He objected also to the immense sums expended in our colonies, which ought to provide for their own defence. Within a few years full 15,000,000l. had been expended under this head, and it was time that this source of expenditure should be got rid of. He did not wish to give the committee the trouble of dividing, but thought it right to state his opinion.
thought that most of the reductions mentioned by the hon. Member were temporary, and there was nothing to assure him that the votes might not be increased quite as much next year as they were reduced this year. One great reduction was in stores, but next year they might be called on to make up a deficiency of stores. Since 1826 not less than 2,000,000l. had been expended in bar-racks, and this was, he thought, a most monstrous outlay. Gentlemen talked of the necessity of making the soldiers comfortable, but they ought to think also of the people. The hon. Member who had visited the barracks at Bolton should have examined the condition of the people, and lie would have found that the people who had to pay the taxes, and whose industry, in fact, paid them, were destitute of all the comforts of life. They had neither good dwellings, sufficient clothing, nor enough food. The soldiers, in fact, were a great deal more comfortable than the working classes. At Liverpool alone he believed that not less than 5,000 families dwelt in cold damp cellars, such as no soldiers were suffered to inhabit. He thought the expense of barrack-masters actually uncalled for, and he should divide the committee on that question. The hon. Member's reduction, too, was overstated, or the whole amount in fact only came to 3,900l.
§ Dr. Bowring
wished that the cost of making arms at the Government establishments might be detailed, that the House might know how the large sum voted for this purpose was expended. Two millions were expended on these matters, and the House ought to know how it was applied. The country was broken down by the enormous expenditure of the Government, when there was no trade; and he thought at the present time they should think more of the people and less of our establishments.
§ Lord A. Lennox
called the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the circumstance that officers in barracks were allowed fuel, while those who lived out of barracks were not allowed fuel. This fell very heavy on married officers, and he hoped it would be taken into consideration. He was glad to hear that attention had been paid to provide the army with percussion muskets, and he hoped that the fifty-one regiments which were not yet provided with them would soon receive them,
§ Mr. Ainsworth
saw that 1,500l. had been laid out for temporary barracks at Bolton. The inhabitants had offered to provide accommodation for the troops, but the Master-general of the Ordnance had stated that the vicinity of Manchester, and the facility of transporting troops by railroad, rendered it unnecessary. He had, however, made a further communication on the subject, and barracks were provided for troops at Bolton.
§ Dr. Bowring
denied that the inhabitants of Bolton wished for troops. He could take it on himself to make that statement, and leave the House to judge betwixt him and his hon. Colleague.
§ Sir James Graham
, without wishing to interpose between the rival Members for Bolton, could assure the House that he was on the point of recommending the withdrawal of the troops from Bolton, when he received a letter signed by men of property of all parties—he did not say by the populace—requesting that the troops might be allowed to remain, and offering to provide them with accommodation. On that representation the troops were allowed to remain, and instead of temporary accommodation, a permanent barrack was to be provided for them.
observed that in Cork and fifteen other places the offices of storekeeper and barrack-master were filled by the same persons. He wished to know why this was not done in all cases; in Guernsey, for instance, where there were-at present a storekeeper and a clerk, as well as a barrack-master, with five barrack sergeants.
§ Captain Boldero
said there were very important stores at Guernsey, which required a storekeeper, who should be a respectable man. In all cases where it was possible to combine the two offices it was the desire of the master-general to do so.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the question that a vote of 405,119l. be granted for Ordnance works and repairs,
complained of the expense of 10,000l. for the repairs of the Rideau Canal, in Canada —a work of little utility.
§ Captain Boldero
said the receipts from tolls were at present 13,000l., leaving a balance of 3,000l. after payment of expenses and repairs.
§ Dr. Bowring
inquired whether the expense of the establishments for the Ionian 328 Islands was balanced by contributions from thence.
§ Sir H. Douglas
said the contributions from the islands had fallen much in arrear from a series of unfavourable seasons. With respect to the Rideau Canal, of which the hon. Member for Coventry doubted the utility, the hon. Member should recollect that it was intended to secure a military connection with Upper Canada, and that for that purpose it was absolutely essential.
§ Captain Boldero
stated that they had made the commencement of the formation of a geological collection in Whitehall-yard; and next year he hoped that they would be able to continue the geological survey in Ireland.
194,850l. for the ordnance survey, and military and civil contingencies.
§ Captain Boldero
stated that the survey of forty-six English counties had been completed, and the triangulation in Scotland.
§ Sir R. Peel
wished to know if the hon Gentleman desired them to postpone the formation of the collection until they got a large grant of public money for a building. When the collection was formed, it might be a question whether they should not be removed to the British Museum.
§ Mr. Hume
wished to have a proper building. He had much rather give twenty or fifty thousand pounds to finish the Museum, than in having the money frittered away in alterations and salaries, that might be saved, and ultimately for no use. What he objected to was extravagance, and never to money being devoted to a useful purpose.
§ Sir R. Peel
remarked that here there was no money frittered away. 200l. was applied for the alteration in the rooms, but these rooms were applied to public purposes and would be used hereafter.
§ Agreed to.
§ On the question that 269,000l. be granted for the ordnance and military stores, and military services.
§ Captain Layard
said, that the hon. and gallant officer the Member for Scarborough had stated in the House the other 329 night, upon the navy estimates, that in consequence of what had fallen from him (Captain Layard) on the subject of the army estimates, the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham had had a return made out of the new arms which had been served out to the navy, army, and marines, which amounted to 36,000. The hon. and gallant Member for Scarborough, in that courteous manner which distinguished him in everything he did, said that he (Captain Layard) had made too unfavourable a report on the state of the arms. Now, he thought that the very arguments brought forward by the hon. Member, that the 36,000 stand of arms having been given out, and that the remaining arms in the service were to be replaced, proved that the statement made by him was anything but incorrect. But he wished to ask the hon. Member whether the whole of the 36,000 stand of arms were new arms, or old arms altered and repaired? He had been informed that the latter was the case, but trusted that in that he had been mistaken. If such was the case, if the old arms were repaired, he could only say to the hon. and gallant Member, as his master did to him when he took up bad verses at school—" Sir, they are too bad to be altered, go and make new ones;" and that if the old ones were repaired, they could only be formidable to those who had the misfortune to use them. There was another point to which he wished to call the attention of the House, and particularly of the hon. Gentleman at the head of the Ordnance, that the new stocks, if not made of sufficiently seasoned wood, got so soon out of repair, that very often new arms were nearly as inefficient as old ones, and that as arms generally suffered more from recruits drilling with them than by any other means, he thought it would be a good plan to leave some old arms in every station for that purpose. Then, with respect to bayonets, they were to use an odd expression, so ill-tempered, that the least thing bent them in every direction, and he trusted that attention would be paid to that point. It had been stated to him that some of our regiments had received their arms from the East India Company, and that in the case of that gallant regiment, the 98th, under the command of that distinguished officer Colonel Campbell, these arms had been offered them, which were so very inferior that the officer commanding had refused 330 to take them, and upon such refusal he had been supplied with arms from the Ordnance. Now he (Captain Layard) thought that it was the duty of the Government to see that the East India Company did supply the men with proper and efficient arms. In a book which had been quoted in that House by the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government (Lieut. Eyres's), it was stated that the men in Affghanistan had thrown away their fire, had been exceedingly bad marksmen, and, in short, as far as firing was concerned, nothing could be worse. He believed that this would always be the case if so small a quantity of ammunition was allowed for practice. In a very able and excellent speech made by the hon. Member for Westminster the other night on the navy estimates, he had ably advocated the advantage of temperance in the navy. He fully agreed with the hon. Member in that opinion, and wished that in the army also every inducement should be held out to the men to become sober; and he believed that that would be greatly carried into effect by doing away with the canteens which were now in the barrack squares. The loss might be small to the Government, but the beneficial effects would be great to the men. The hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon had stated to the House, upon the army estimates, that the sum of 130 000l. was spent for the supply of arms; he stated that the new arms were being given to the service, not only for the satisfaction of the House, but to relieve his mind from any unnecessary alarm. As this was an occasion upon which arms were under discussion, he begged leave to say, that the argument brought forward by that hon. Member put him in mind of a weapon made use of by the aborigines of New South Wales: and, as every Member might not be aware what a boomarang was, he would try to describe it to them. It was a piece of carved wood, which, being thrown in a sort of underhand manner at your enemy, if it should not hit him, returns, and sometimes inflicts a wound upon the thrower. Now, the hon. Member's argument that he suffered from unnecessary alarm, appeared to him (Captain Layard), to be very much like an ill-directed boomarung. It had been proved that the arms were in a very inefficient state, by the number of new ones already issued, and by the number that were to be issued, that if any unnecessary 331 alarm did exist, the hon. Member for Huntingdon was labouring under it, in supposing that he meant any attack upon the Ordnance. Now he thought that the hon. Member for Huntingdon ought to be grateful to him for what he was doing, in showing the necessity for new arms: that even the hon. Member for Montrose, who is by no means anxious, and very justly, to spend the public money, said that it was a penny-wise-and-pound foolish economy not to have the very best arms that could be put into the hands of the British soldier. Having had already two shots fired at him from the Ordnance, he (Captain Layard) had every reason 10 believe that he should have a third; but feeling conscious that he had done his duty to the best of his ability, he sat down without any feelings of alarm, thinking that in this case, as in all others, by speaking the truth, any alarm would be perfectly unnecessary.
§ Captain Boldero
said, that a contract had been entered into for the supply of arms, but on its completion, the arms were found to be very defective. They were, therefore, returned, and the Ordnance obtained arms of a better quality. With respect to percussion locks, he might state that the 98th regiment on going to India, and the 2nd battalion of guards, serving in Canada, had been supplied with muskets having such locks, in order that the effect of extreme heat and extreme cold upon that quality of arms might be tested and in each instance the arms had been found most efficient. Colonel Lascelles, the officer commanding the 2nd battalion in Canada, had written to the adjutant-general expressing his testimony of the great superiority of percussion caps over flints; and similar testimony had been received from Colonel Campbell of the 98th regiment. The latter officer stated, that on their passage out they placed 25 of the caps in an open port-hole for one week, where there was a strong draught, but the sea air had not had the least injurious effect upon those caps for not one missed fire.
In answer to Mr. Hume,
§ Captain Boldero
said, arrangements had been, to a great extent, attempted, for the purposejof appropriating a piece of ground for ball practice; but it had been found necessary to postpone it till next Session. owing to the numerous obstacles encountered.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the question that 194,792l. be granted for the commissariat,
§ Mr. F. Baring
said he wished for explanation as to the circumstance be had heard reported, of a contractor having been permitted to take a share in the Ordnance supplies, after having been under the late Government exposed for connivance in dishonest practices?
§ Captain Boldero
denied that there was any truth in the report — alleging the facts to be, that on the trial of two barrack-sergeants for giving false receipts as to supplies, one of them declared, that contractors were in the habit of paying them for so doing; and accused the contractor in question particularly. The court, however, were of opinion, that they were not warranted in pursuing the inquiry thus started on such discreditable authority as that of a convicted felon, and when the charge was renewed against the contractor in question, the Ordnance gave him, of course, an opportunity for exculpation, suspending, meanwhile, their assent to his offer, though it was the lowest tendered. The gentleman alluded to had declared his readiness to take the only means open to him of disproving the charge; offering to pledge his oath, that he had never seen or communicated with the man who had accused him, and appealing to his character and long standing in business, as to the probability of his having so disgracefully committed himself.
§ Mr. F. Baring
declared himself satisfied with the explanation given, so far as the Board of Ordnance was concerned. He believed, however, that a different opinion was entertained as to the complicity of the party alluded to by the late Master-general of the Ordnance and the law officer of the department.
§ Mr. Wallace
protested most energetically against the secresy which had been thrown around the name of this contractor.
§ Vote agreed to.