HC Deb 13 June 1845 vol 81 cc530-2
Mr. Craven Berkeley

proceeded, in accordance with his Motion, to call the attention of the House to the changes proposed to be made in the clothing and remount fund of the two regiments of Life Guards, by a warrant dated March 14, 1845, signed by the Secretary at War, which, he contended, was a great injustice to the soldiers, and, in fact, a breach of agreement. The debt of the Royal Horse Guards was of considerable amount; and the officers were compelled to pay for the band, over which they had no control. The proposed change was a mere petty, paltry, and dirty economy against one of the finest regiments in the world. The Report of the Board of General Officers was decidedly opposed to any such reduction in either of the regiments of Life Guards, as it could not be made without impairing their efficiency. The hon. and gallant Member said, that there was no mode of obstruction which the House afforded, which he would not avail himself of to prevent the passing of any army votes, so long as this warrant should remain in force.

Mr. Sidney Herbert

said, that the Board of General Officers went into a full inquiry into the case of the Horse Guards, and they made a very voluminous report. It certainly did appear that there was a considerable sum in arrear owing from the Horse Guards. With respect to the alterations mentioned by the hon. and gallant Officer, in regard to the clothing of the regiment, that was a subject which he would not go into, because a great difference of opinion existed upon it. He was perfectly satisfied that the arrangement made was one quite compatible with the comfort and efficiency of the troops. He sincerely believed that no unnecessary expense would be incurred for these troops; and that the public property was expended with a due regard both to the efficiency of the troops and to public economy. The Horse Guards had incurred considerable expense with a view to put themselves upon a footing with the Life Guards. He was quite willing to believe that the hon. and gallant Officer was actuated by public motives in bringing forward this question; but he was contented to rest his judgment on the opinion of those military officers who had paid proper attention to the subject. The change had been made under the highest military authorities; and he hoped, therefore, that the hon. and gallant Officer would not carry into execution his threat.

Sir C. Napier

I wish to correct a statement of the gallant Officer the Clerk of the Ordnance. He must have misunderstood me; for I am sure he did not intend to misrepresent me. He stated that I ridiculed the fortification of Portsmouth, and that I said there were only sixteen guns to defend the harbour. I stated that the sea defences were not good; that only thirteen guns enfiladed the harbour, and those of the ramparts were all exposed, and could not prevent a fleet running into the harbour. As to what the right hon. Baronet stated, I was so well defended by the noble Lord, that it was unnecessary for me to repel the attempt, the unworthy attempt of the right hon. Baronet to throw odium upon me for stating our want of defence; and I should tell him, if next year Pembroke, Falmouth, Sheerness, and the Channel Islands, were in the same state, I should bring it before Parliament.

House went into a Committee of Supply, and 390,000l. were voted for the Ordnance Department.

House resumed, and adjourned at a quarter past one.