§ On the Motion that the House go into Committee of Supply,
§ MR. HUME
said, before the Speaker left the chair, he wished to offer a few observations to the House. It was not his intention to object to any of the items to be submitted to them in Committee; but he really could not avoid calling their serious attention to the situation in which they were going to place themselves. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer noticed on a former evening the gradual increase which was taking place in the army, navy, and ordnance establishments. Since the year 1822 there had not been such a large amount required for these departments as in the present year. He wanted to know what were the particular circumstances of the country which rendered this increase necessary in the present year. On a former occasion, when the position of the country was such as to render it incapable of bearing a proposed increase in these establishments, the House required the appointment of a Committee of Finance to inquire how the increase became necessary; and he, for one, did not hope for any success now until such an inquiry was instituted. Each of these departments was no doubt anxious to keep up its force as large as possible; but it was for the First Lord of the Treasury to deal with the aggregate amount, and to see that no expense was incurred that could be avoided. It appeared to him that no such care had been as yet manifested, or was likely to be exerted, until a general inquiry took place. It might be said that the end of the existence of Parliament was not a time for an inquiry such as he recommended to be commenced; but he trusted that next Session, which he hoped would be in a new Parliament, the matter would be taken up. He confessed that he had listened with alarm to some of the reasons put forward by his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty—if he understood him rightly 636 —to prove the necessity of the proposed increase. His hon. Friend dwelt on the increase that was taking place in the French navy; but he thought that the system of regulating their establishments or keeping them up because this or that foreign Power wished to keep up theirs, was one involving a very doubtful policy. The anticipated surplus of 60,000l. for the present year, was, he considered, altogether too small a surplus to be depended on. He would not blame the present Ministers; but if the pressure from without was too great for them to withstand, the House ought to come to their support, and enable them to carry out any virtuous intentions they might entertain. He thought that the recent brevet was uncalled for, unless it was regarded as a means of enabling them to get rid of old and useless men. They had, latterly, a greater promotion in time of peace, than ever there was in time of war; and he hoped before long to bring this matter before the House in detail. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer complained of his hon. Friend, the other night, for not going further back on this subject than 1835. He was willing to meet the right hon. Baronet by going back any number of years he might desire. He had before taken the three years 1835–6–7, and he found that the army, navy, ordnance, and miscellaneous estimates for these three years amounted, in round numbers, to 43,000,000l. sterling, being an average of 14,474,000l. a year. Now, taking the three years, 1842–3–4, he found the aggregate under these heads to be fifty-five and a-half millions, giving an average of eighteen and a half millions for each year, or an excess of expenditure of 4,028,000l. a year in the latter years compared with the former. He would like to know what were the circumstances which justified a greater expenditure now than in preceding years. He had looked around to ascertain how the relative condition of the country, in its external relations, had been altered in this period, but without discovering a sufficient cause. During the war with China, or during the foolish armament against Syria, some excuse for increased expenditure might be found; but at present he knew of no Power with which they had any hostility. The subject was one which the public—those who paid the taxes—ought to take up, but which, he regretted to say, they most unaccountably neglected. During the last general election, in no one case was a candidate 637 pledged to economy. The electors had time to consider the subject; they had the taxes to pay, and on them the blame of this neglect should rest. He hoped a different feeling would be displayed on this question at the next general election; and if the electors did not then take it up, he had only to say that they would have no right afterwards to blame any one in that House. With the surplus revenue of last year before them, they ought to have been able this Session to take off the tax on soap and on bricks, and to have removed the duty on butter and on cheese. They might, he believed, have ultimately adopted his favourite project of doing away with the Excise altogether, and giving over the spirits and malt duties to the Customs, With the surplus of last year before them, they might, he thought, strike off three millions of taxes this year if the expenses for the navy, army, and ordnance were not so large. With one-half of this amount they might relieve the country from all the taxes he had enumerated, and with the other half they could remove the tax upon timber, which was one of the greatest burdens that now pressed on the industry of the country.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, his hon. Friend had put forward his statement with respect to the brevet without the slightest regard to the facts. His hon. Friend had insinuated that there were more officers now than at the close of the war; but the fact was, that at that period, there were 27,000, and now there were but 10,000. In like manner, there were then 674 general officers, and now there were but 319. His hon. Friend had also misrepresented the speech of his hon. Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty. What the right hon. Gentleman did say was, that all power was relative; and that, seeing a great nation, on whose cordial friendship they had not the greatest reliance, increasing its armaments, it was thought necessary, at least, to keep ours in an efficient condition. He (Sir De L. Evans), although with some pretensions to the character of a popular Member, would never support any attempt to reduce our defences under such circumstances. His hon. Friend used formerly to refer to the year 1792; that was his favourite reference at that time, though he might just as well have gone back to 1700—for the periods were equally dissimilar—and now the hon. Gentleman had got to 1841 and 1842. There was almost as great a difference between the hon. Gentleman's present periods 638 of comparison as in the old ones. France had just expended 11,000,000l. in fortifications—the greatest proportion of which were at Paris, and on the Channel coast—and in warlike preparations, and war too against this country—and were the Government at this juncture to diminish the efficiency of our defences? There was an increase in the French estimates of 10,000 men; but his hon. Friend did not approve of our following their example, and considered we ought not to be guided by the proceedings of other nations in this respect. That might be all very well if all other nations were disposed to join in one general bond of peace and amity; but circumstanced as other nations were, and circumstanced as we were with them, he was surprised to hear that a proposal had not been made on the part of the Government to increase both the naval and military forces. His hon. Friend had expressed surprise that the constituencies of the country had not obtained pledges on the hustings from their representatives to advocate a reduction of the national expenditure; but he was glad to perceive that in many cases there were more sensible electors out of the House than representatives in it—and he was happy to find that there did not exist in the public mind generally any idea that it would be prudent still further to reduce the national defences of the country. An election might soon be expected, and he for one announced that he should not be induced to promise upon the hustings the advocacy of any measure which might have the effect of decreasing the security or impairing the honour of the country.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
Sir, I entirely concur with the gallant General opposite, that nothing can be more foolish than by silly reductions of the naval and military forces to expose to possible danger the security of the country; and I have heard with no inconsiderable surprise from the free traders opposite, that you no sooner establish free trade, than you increase the naval and military forces. I have been told, Sir, that the first effect of free trade would be that Christian unanimity among all nations which would enable us to rase all our battlements, lay flat our fortifications, disband our armies, and do away with our national defences; but I, as a protectionist, never foresaw that any of these consequences would arise. I never thought there would be more harmony between foreign countries and Great Britain, 639 because we were unwise enough to admit the imports of those countries without charging them any duties. Because free traders are disposed, I am not disposed, to listen to the proposal for an unwise or foolish reduction of the military or naval establishments of the country, nor, any more than the gallant Gentleman opposite, to expose the security of the country to the inroads of foreign nations.
§ DR. BOWRING
did not agree with the noble Lord opposite (Lord G. Bentinck), in thinking that the abolition of restrictive duties would not promote harmony among nations. He believed that the interests of peace were associated with free trade, and that their public recognition would ultimately lead to a considerable decrease in the naval and military establishments of Great Britain. He had, in the course of the present debate, heard much about "silly economy," "dangerous experiments," "defenceless position," "rash retrenchments," and similar observations, which he believed were calculated to do much mischief; and however hon. Gentlemen might consider proposals for reductions in the naval and military establishments of the country dangerous and inexpedient, still he believed there was in the country a sanguine hope and expectation that at no distant period both branches of the service would be materially reduced. For his own part, he felt that we ought to be bound together by something far stronger than that which was termed our "means of defence"—and that our merchants would be found far better defenders than our armies. He was not aware of what had happened at the various hustings with respect to pledges exacted by electors on the necessity of curtailing the national expenditure; but he could say, that as far as he was concerned, he had received more than one significant hint—more than one severe lesson—more than one honest caution as to how he might lend himself to the proposal of any increase in either the Army or Navy. Although in the present emergency the country placed implicit reliance on the wisdom of Government, and larger demands were made upon its resources than, perhaps, any previous Government had ever required; still the country felt that economy ought to be exercised in all the public departments of the State to the utmost extent consistent with efficiency and good order.
remarked that, in the observations he was about to make, he 640 would not occupy much of the time of the House. He was not surprised to find any estimates, no matter how extravagant, connected with the naval or military services, supported by hon. and gallant Gentlemen engaged in the profession of arms. He was not without hope that the noble Lord at the head of the Administration would have followed the example of the Governments of Lords Grey and Melbourne, of which he was so distinguished a Member, and commenced with proposing a great reduction in all the departments of the national expenditure. Lord Melbourne had pursued that course, and with so much success that the expenditure for public purposes was brought below 8,000,000l. less than the proposed expenditure for the present year. The estimates for the present year exceeded those of last year in every department. It had been stated a few evenings before by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty, that at the present time there were but 20,000 regular soldiers in Great Britain. The hon. Gentleman must have paid very little attention to the condition of the army, or he could not have made such a statement. He would state to the House the numerical strength of the Army at the present time as compared with former periods; and he would feel obliged if the Secretary at War would state some valid reason for the great increase. The number of men for whom they were now called on to vote estimates, amounted to 138,895 officers and men; artillery, 12,392; and marines on shore (included in another estimate), 6,500; making an entire force of 157,787 men. There were, in addition, the Irish police, than whom there was not a finer body of men in the world, 10,000; and pensioners as efficient as any portion of the British army, 10,000 more; making a regular army of 177,787. There were in India, 34,970. He did not know how many there were in the colonies; but in January, 1845, there were 38,000, to which he would add 5,000 more; thus leaving for the colonies 43,000, and for Ireland 34,000, making 107,000, which, if deducted from the grand total before mentioned, would leave a regular force of 77,787 men in Great Britain. There were in addition other forces which could be brought into active service at almost a moment's notice, viz., 13,000 militia, 14,000 yeomanry, and the whole body of the London police. There were also the out-pensioners of the Army and Navy, 65,000 and the half-pay officers, 641 5,300, making altogether 98,000 men. A large portion of that force he thought could render most efficient service, and might be got into readiness, and by reason of the great facilities of communication, and transported to any portion of the coast, to repel an invasion by the French or other foreign Power, should such attempt be made. He saw no reason why this great increase in the Army might not be reduced to the extent of 20,000 men. [Admiral NAPIER: No, no.] The hon. and gallant Admiral might say "No, no," and shake his head; but perhaps he would explain the necessity for the immense increase in the Army and Navy, as compared with the years 1835, 1836, and 1837. It was his intention to propose a reduction of 20,000 men in the present estimate, and that would leave 34,200 men more than in the years 1835, 1836, and 1837. The Archbishop of Dublin — [Admiral NAPIER: Hear!] The hon. and gallant Admiral might laugh; but he begged to assure him that the right rev. Prelate was a person of great distinction, and one to whose opinion much weight ought to attach. The Archbishop of Dublin had stated in his speech a few months ago, at the celebration of the Manchester Athenæum, that every common soldier cost the country as much as would suffice for the maintenance of a schoolmaster, and the education of 100 children. He would propose to reduce the Life Guards from 6,008 to 5,000, and to reduce the Foot Guards by 2,630. He calculated that the Horse Guards cost the country, including horses and accoutrements, 130l. each; but, supposing the sum smaller, the reducing their numbers by 1,008 would save 105,000l. per annum. The actual cost of 2,630 Foot Guards was 105,452l. The cost of the whole reduction would amount to 210,492l. The amount saved would amount to a sum sufficient to pay 5,250 schoolmasters at 40l. a year each, and thus afford the advantages of education to one-half of the principalities of England and Wales. He was sure Her Majesty would prefer dispensing with some portion of her guards, whose only occupation appeared to be idling about. The pensions paid in the Army and Navy at present exceeded 3,702,000l., a considerable portion of which was expended upon persons who had rendered very little services to the State. He was the last man in the world to oppose the payment of pensions to those who served their country; but he certainly objected to pensioning the 642 host of general officers who worked their way up through the Foot Guards. He had been informed that two-thirds of the general officers worked their way up in that manner. With regard to widows and children, he would maintain in respectability every person who had lost his life in the public service. [Great laughter.] If hon. Gentlemen would hear him out, and not laugh until he had finished, he would explain his meaning, which was, that he would handsomely provide for the widows and children of those who might have lost their lives in the public service. But perhaps hon. Gentlemen were not aware of the many heavy charges upon the fund appropriated to that purpose. There were belonging to the Army 2,862 widows and children; of the Navy, 2,587; and of the Ordnance, 445; making 5,894 dependent for support upon the public. He could not propose any reduction under the head of such pensions; but he did think that 20,000 men might be reduced from the service, and still leave a force efficient for every purpose that might be required of them. Bearing in mind the distress which prevailed in Ireland, in Scotland, and in the manufacturing distress of England, he could not refrain from urging upon the Government the expediency of making the reduction he suggested.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
said, if ever there was a period when it would be well to economise the time of the House, the present was that period. Under this impresion, he rose merely for the purpose of protesting against the invasion of the rules of Parliament, by discussing questions with the Speaker in the chair, which ought to be discussed in Committee. However desirous he and other hon. Members might be to procure a reduction in the Army, he was sure they could never arrive at such a result by pursuing their present course. He hoped, therefore, the House would not complain if he moved at Twelve o'clock that the House adjourn, or the Committee report progress. He objected to these irregular discussions, and he hoped they would at once go into Committee, and then proceed with the business.
§ House in Committee of Supply.
§ MR. F. MAULE
said, it would not have been possible for him, in the ordinary course of affairs, to have read his hon. Friend the Member for Coventry (Mr. Williams) the lecture which he had just received from his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Brotherton); but he trusted 643 the hon. Member for Coventry would not quarrel with him (Mr. F. Maule) if he stated it as his opinion, that the House should be much indebted to the hon. Member for Salford for what he had just said. And he must add, it certainly would be much more convenient to discuss the several topics to which the hon. Member for Coventry had alluded, as they should arise on the various votes, than that the hon. Member should have made a statement mixing up together the Army, the Navy, and the Ordnance, English and Irish police, and the Archbishop of Dublin, rendering it almost impossible for any man who had the individual charge of those estimates to separate one from the other. The hon. Member for Montrose had stated that there was this year a decrease in the vote for the effective service, but a large increase in the non-effective service: that was so; but the hon. Member should recollect that he had himself been at least an accessary after the fact to that increase in the non-effective service, for he was one who had assented as cordially as any hon. Member in that House to the remission of the charge which had formerly been carried to the credit of the public of 50,000l. for poundage on pensions, to the extent of which sum, and somewhat more, the charge for the non-effective services had certainly been increased. But passing from matters not immediately connected with the statement he was about to make, and not taking upon himself to enter upon any questions of the general policy, he would proceed at once to make, as succinctly as possible, the usual financial statement of the military affairs of this country. He thought he should best consult the convenience of the Committee, if he applied himself immediately to the estimates before the House, and afterwards alluded generally to those topics of military interest on which the Committee might think it desirable to be informed. With reference to the estimates, it would appear that the number of men to be voted in the aggregate for the ensuing year, was 138,895, the gross charge for which was 5,155,848l.; the gross non-effective charge for the ensuing year was 2,175,227l., making a total charge of 7,331,075l. From that, however, must be deducted the cost defrayed by the East India Company for 30,497 men, amounting to 978,211l.; the amount of appropriations in aid of the land forces in the United Kingdom and the colonies, amounting to 53,375l.; the balance from 644 the Royal Military College of 17,033l.; a small appropriation from the Royal Military Asylum and Hibernian School of 245l. There was also to be deducted the appropriation in aid on the non-effective service of 7,137l., which made a total reduction from the effective and non-effective services of 1,056,001l. The gross total, then, to be provided for the ensuing year was 6,275,074l., and the total number of men was 108,398. The first vote which he should propose was for that number of men, being the number considered necessary for the public service during the ensuing year, and being a decrease on the number voted last year of 210 men. He might, therefore, fairly state to his hon. Friend, that, as far as this vote went, the services of the two years were nearly identical. There were, however, some changes in the arrangement of that number of men, which he thought it necessary to allude to. There was a decrease in the strength of regiments coming from foreign service, five of which would shortly arrive. Those regiments had hitherto consisted of 1,000 men each: when they reached this country their strength would be reduced to 800; and that, together with a reduction in the number of non-commissioned officers, and another small reduction of 36 men, made a reduction of 1,111 men. Increases, however, had been made in other quarters to the amount of 901 men, which left, as he had already stated, the number now proposed less by 210 than the number taken last year. As the mode in which these increases were proposed to be made, involved a principle, he would at once state it to the Committee as briefly and as explicitly as possible. It was proposed to raise a body of 682 men, inclusive of officers, for the service of the garrison at Hong Kong, and to add that body to the Ceylon corps. In adopting that mode of providing for the service of Hong Kong, they proposed to act upon the principle which had formerly been discussed in that House, and of which he had a very high opinion—of employing, wherever they could with efficiency and safety, colonial corps, for the purpose of protecting our colonial possessions. That plan was not only more economical in point of administration, but it was infinitely more so on a much more essential point, viz., the preservation of the health of our troops. Instead, therefore, of keeping British troops at Hong Kong, where, he was sorry to say, many brave men had fallen a prey to the diseases 645 incident to that climate, it was proposed to withdraw the garrison at present stationed there, and to supply its place with a corresponding number of men natives of those districts from which the Ceylon corps were raised. Another increase—the first, but he feared not the last that would have to be proposed—was to the Cape corps, to which had already been added two companies, or 174 men. But Sir H. Pottinger had been instructed to make greater additions to that corps; and he might state, that it was in contemplation still further to consider the means of providing for the defence of the extended frontier of that colony. Now, the hon. Member for Coventry had spoken of proposing a reduction of 20,000 men in the Army. For his part, if he thought they could spare 20,000 men, without any reference to the defences of the country, but simply with reference to the general operation of relieving regiments from time to time, he should be glad to make it. But his firm belief was, that if they intended to relieve their regiments at any thing like proper intervals—if they wanted to have them constituted of soldiers maintaining the dignity and supporting the interests of this country, and not to make their soldiers exiles from their native shores for an indefinite period of time, they could not accede to the proposition of the hon. Member. He would now state to what an extent they had brought the system of relieving regiments. He believed there was—or rather, he should say, there would be—after the arrival of one, which was now on its way here, no regiment which had been in India above fourteen years and a half; and he believed there was no regiment in this country which had been at home more than four years. He hoped, in course of time—for it was only by time that such arrangements could be accomplished—to reduce the longest period of absence of any regiment from this country to something not much exceeding thirteen years. With these observations, he passed to the next vote—the charge for the land force in the ensuing year. On that charge there was, he was happy to say, a decrease of expense to the public—owing to the appropriations in aid having amounted to so large a sum—of 44,151l. He was, however, bound to admit, in reference to this vote, that had it not been for the appropriations in aid, there would appear an increase upon the vote of 7,716l.; but as it stood, in consequence of the appropriations 646 in aid, there was a decrease on the vote of 44,151l. The next vote to which he came, was the vote for the expenses of staff, &c., and on that vote there was an increase of 8,343l.; but that increase was principally occasioned by charges caused abroad, amongst which were to be included the increased force sent to the Cape of Good Hope from this country; and he thought that the Committee would admit, with him, that in all those unfortunate wars, such as that at the Cape of Good Hope—they might term them little wars if they liked—the worst way of proceeding was by doing, as sometimes had been done, namely, endeavouring to settle them in a little way. Such a proceeding was calculated, and would be calculated, particularly in the case of the occurrences at the Cape of Good Hope, to lead eventually to additional expense; whilst the effect of sending such reinforcements as we had sent of men and officers, was, that a movement had taken place by the British troops in that colony which had completely paralysed the Kaffers, who were in arms against us, and laid the foundation of a strong hope that the next accounts from that colony would be of submission on the part of the Kaffers, and of a preparation on our part to secure the frontier which we had established, and withdrawing some of our troops. He hoped that the Committee would permit him to pay a passing testimony to the gallantry of our troops in that colony—no corps of which troops had been more distinguished by its conduct than the Colonial Corps, and Colonel Somerset, who mainly directed its operations. The increase of reinforcements was one cause of the increase of 8,443l. in the vote for the Staff. The next vote to which he would direct passing attention, was the vote for the expenses of the public department, which showed an increase of 2,093l.; but that increase would be sufficiently explained when he stated, that it was caused entirely by an increase in the amount of postage, thus showing an increase in the work which those in that department were called upon to perform. The next vote to which he came was, the charge for military asylums; the charge for this year being 17,633l., and that for last year being 14,062; thus leaving an increase of 3,571l. on the vote of this year; but then it ought to be calculated that there were 2,000l. additional incurred in furtherance of the new system of education which it was proposed to establish at the Royal Military Asylum. 647 He would enter more into the subject of the new system of education hereafter; and, therefore, he did not feel it necessary on that occasion to say any more with respect to it. The next vote was for the volunteer corps, which, having been out for exercise last year more than in former years, caused an increase of 3,939l., as compared with the vote of last year. There was in the estimates of last year a vote of 36,500l. for what were called unprovided services, which vote was not to be proposed this year, as it was thought better that the provision for these services should be made in the coming year as the occasion for them arrived, so that the effective service votes were reduced in that respect by 36,500l.; from which, if they took the various increases of 17,936l, would leave 18,564l. decrease; the total decrease in the land force expense being 63,715l. on the effective services for this year. He now came to the votes for the non-effective service; or, as it was commonly called, the dead-weight on those estimates. The hon. Member for Montrose had stated, that there was a considerable increase on the votes for those services this year; and he stated, also, that he had observed a steady increase in every vote under certain heads; but he believed that the hon. Member did not look at those estimates with that care which he usually bestowed on such subjects; for scarcely any item in these non-effective service estimates could be compared to the items in similar estimates last year, as the votes for last year were only taken for three-quarters of the year, whilst the votes for this year were taken for four quarters. It had been deemed right to audit these accounts by the same conditions as those which were applied to the accounts of the Navy estimates; and for that purpose only three-quarters were taken in many of the votes for the non-effective service last year, whilst the four quarters of the year were taken in the present votes. The first vote to which he came in the non-effective service was, the vote under the head "rewards for military services," a vote on which there was an apparent increase this year of 3,740l.; but the charge last year, if the four quarters had been included, would have been for this vote of 16,079l., whilst for the four quarters of this year it was but 15,740l., so that there was a decrease on this vote for this year of 339l. This was a vote, the object of which was to reward distinguished services and good behaviour 648 in the men, and distinguished services on the part of the officers of the Army; and he was sure that all those who were interested in the Army would rather hope to see those rewards go on; and in reference to that subject he had the gratification of being able to state that this year there were given 1,040l. as rewards to meritorious non-commissioned officers, in annuities of 10l. to 20l. each, as the reward of-their services. The next vote to which he came was the vote under the head of "pay of general offices," which vote showed an increase of 33,000l. over the vote for the same purpose last year; but it should be recollected that there were included in that sum 17,000l., the expenses of the brevet, whilst there should be deducted from it, as compared with the vote of last year, a sum of 16,000l. for the quarter, which was not charged in the vote of last year. The brevet, he was happy to say, did not include the higher ranks of the Army only, but also went to the lower ranks; and if it did not, he (Mr. F. Maule) would say that it would not have been sufficient. Seeing, therefore, what the brevet had been, he did not think that the sum of 17,000l. would be looked upon by the House or the country as a sum which they would grudge to the Army, considering what sort of an army we had. The next vote to which he came was the vote for the "full pay for retired officers," which showed an apparent increase of 13,000l. over the last year; but if the whole four quarters of last year were taken into calculation, it showed a sum of 61,000l. as against 59,000l. for this year, being a reduction of 2,000l. He now came to the vote for half-pay and military allowances; and he held in his hand a paper which showed the state of that vote in 1830, as compared with its amount in 1847, by which it appeared that there had been a gradual decrease in the amount of the vote; for whilst the vote for that purpose was 720,000l. in 1830, it was but 420,000l. for this year, There was an apparent increase of 94,000l. on that vote for this year; but if the uncharged quarter were added to the vote of last year, it would make 108,000l., thus showing an actual decrease in the vote for this year of 14,000l. The vote to which he would next direct the attention of the Committee was the vote for "foreign half-pay," which showed a decrease of 1,145l. compared with last year. The vote last year was 50,281l., whilst this year it was 649 49,136l. He now came to the vote for "widows' pensions," which showed an apparent increase for this year of 27,659l.; but if there were added to the vote of last year 34,619l., it would make 138,819l., which, compared with 131,859l. for this year, would show a decrease on the vote of this year of 6,960l. The amount of the vote for widows' pensions in 1830 was 145,000l., whilst in 1847 it was 131,859l., which showed that the expense had decreased since 1830. He now came to the vote for "compassionate allowance," on which there was an apparent increase of 16,000l.; but the amount last year for the four quarters, one quarter having been omitted, would have been 102,000l., whilst the sum for this year was but 98,000l., thus showing an absolute decrease of 4,000l. as compared to last year. The amount of this vote in 1830 was 185,000l., as compared with 95,000l. this year, so that it was evident the decrease was going on in this vote also. The vote for the expenses of Chelsea and Kilmainham showed an increase of 1,973l.; the vote to out-pensioners this year was 45,382l., whilst the charge for those on the establishments named was 1,236,752l., as compared with 1,191,350l. last year. It was necessary to give some explanation of that, as there were 961 men less on the out-pension list for this year than for last year, so that there would have been a reduction if it had not been for other indispensable charges this year. The first item in the increase of the vote was one which the House had admitted, namely, 50,000l., the charge for poundage to the out-pensioners, which had been relinquished; then there was a charge of 2,387l. for the organization of the Chelsea pensioners, 6,000l. for organizing the body that were about to proceed to New Zealand, an organization the object of which was twofold. A body of 500 pensioners were to be sent out to New Zealand, with certain advantages to which he would allude more fully at a future period: they were to be placed in our settlements, and after a certain residence in their localities, they were to be made settlers; whilst in the mean time they would be found productive of very great advantage in the defence of the colonists, and this would be effected by the proposed plan at a moderate expense. All these additions should be taken into consideration when looking at the increase of 45,382l. The vote for "superannuated allowances" showed an apparent increase of 9,000l.; 650 but if the omitted quarter were added to the vote of last year, it would be found that the real estimate of last year was exactly the same as the amount of the estimate of this year. Those were the details of the votes for the non-effective service of this year, the gross increase in the votes for that service being 254,391l. for this year; but against that there should be taken into calculation the quarters omitted from several votes last year, which would leave an increase of only 35,911l. on the non-effective votes; and if that were compared with the diminution on the effective force estimates of 62,000l., in round numbers, it would show a decrease in the service of this year of upwards of 26,000l.; and he would say, therefore, that when they considered the 50,000l. poundage, the 17,000l. expenses of the brevet, and the sum for the additional day in next year, it being leap-year, they would admit that every attention had been paid to economy in the preparation of the votes. He felt it necessary to allude to an observation of the hon. Member for Montrose, who said, he believed accidentally, that the object of every department was to make its estimates as high as possible. He (Mr. F. Maule) could only say, that so far as the department with which he was connected was concerned, the principle which was acted upon was to make the estimates as low as possible consistently with the public interests; and if his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose would consult those who were paid through that department, or who sought anything through that department, he would find a different character of it from them. He had now stated the sums which it was calculated would be required for the public service of the country during the ensuing year; and with regard to the efficiency of the Army, he would not say one word more than that the efficiency of the British Army was now such as it always had been, and as he trusted it always would be. He had already stated the condition of the British Army as respected reliefs; and the returns which he had before him showed that great improvements had been made, with a view of preserving the health of our troops. By improving the stations of our troops in the West Indies where it was required, and placing barracks in better situations in some islands, and supplying black troops for certain duties in unhealthy places, as well as providing black pioneers to do some duties, he believed the mortality in the 651 West India Islands, with the exception of a portion, had been reduced 13–10ths per cent. The colonies were divided into healthy and unhealthy stations. In the Mediterranean, from the year 1830 to the year 1846, the mortality was 13–10ths per cent; whereas in the twenty years preceding, in amounted to 2 per cent. In the Bermudas, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Newfoundland, the mortality was 13–10ths per cent; while during the period antecedent to 1830, it reached 21–10th per cent. In New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land, and the Cape of Good Hope, it was 14–10ths per cent; and was very nearly the same at the period preceding 1830. In St. Helena, the Mauritius, and Jamaica, the mortality since 1836 had been 19–10ths per cent, or 19 in every 1,000; whereas prior to 1836 it had been 91 in every 1,000. This diminution had been brought about by the substitution, particularly in Jamaica, of fresh meat for salt meat in the rations, and by the alterations which had been made in the barracks of the troops. In the unhealthy stations, including the rest of the West Indies and Ceylon, he was in a condition to state, that though the mortality was greater than could be wished, being 44–10ths per cent, it was much less than it had been, as the mortality had mounted as high as 74–10ths per cent; and he hoped that by substituting at Hong Kong colonial troops for British troops, we should have less mortality there than was the case at present. He was sorry that he could not hold out the same expectations with regard to India; for, as his right hon. Friend opposite well know, he had little means of controlling the mortality which took place among the troops in that country. That mortality, he regretted to state, was increasing to a very considerable extent. The fact was known to none better than to the noble Lord (Viscount Hardinge), who formerly filled the situation which he (Mr. F. Maule) now held, and now exercised supreme command over India; and he hoped that when that noble Lord's mind was a little more at liberty to turn itself to such questions, he would direct his attention to a subject which he heard had long occupied his thoughts; and that before the noble Lord retraced his steps homewards, he would devise some means of promoting the health of the troops in India, by erecting barracks in the highlands of Madras and Bombay, and the ranges of the Himalaya mountains. He was quite sure that till something of 652 that nature was undertaken, there could be no possible hope of reducing the present rate of mortality amongst the military in India. There was another question on which he had to beg the attention of the Committee, and that was on the subject of the moral training now going on in the Army. He had taken a vote of 2,000l. for the establishment of normal and model schools at the Royal Military Asylum. The Government proposed also to establish other model schools, upon which the regimental schools should be modelled, and also infant schools for the orphans and children of British soldiers. This plan he had found left him as a legacy by his right hon. Friend (Mr. S. Herbert) who had preceded him in office—a plan which did him infinite credit, and for being the author of which he was sure that, in the course of a very few years, the Army would look back to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) with gratitude. He believed that by following out this plan, we should not only achieve a good education for the children of the soldiery, but for the soldiers themselves, which would enable them, after their period of service was over, to do something for themselves. He was happy also in being able to state, that libraries were increasing gradually and progressively. This year there had been an increase of 10,000 volumes in the libraries of the Army; and he intended to ask for a vote of 2,000l. for the purpose of further augmenting them. With regard to the discipline of the Army, he had only to say that it was in such a state as to cause him much satisfaction. From the month of July up to the close of the past year, there had been only five instances of corporal punishment; and he might venture to say that as the system of secondary punishment became perfect, he should expect to see the practice of corporal punishment die away altogether. With respect to military prisons, he might say that they were working as well as could be possibly wished. There were now established nine of these buildings in Great Britain and Ireland: four in England, four in Ireland, and one in Scotland. From all of these, the reports received from the governors of the prisons were most satisfactory. The effect upon the morals of the soldiers by placing them in military prisons, was stated to be very great. They were freed from the danger of contamination in a civil gaol, and this was felt to be one of the greatest boons conferred on the Army. The report stated 653 that soldiers upon their return from these military prisons were almost immediately fit for duty, whereas formerly it was weeks and months before they were fit for it. He was glad to say that there was no instance of any soldier in these prisons having been injured in his mind, and it was found that their feelings had been softened, and that they often were reformed; whereas under the whole regime they never came out of prison better than they went in, and often came out much worse. The labour performed in these prisons was certainly severe. Complaints were made against it; but he was not disposed to attend to them, provided he found it did no injury to the prisoners. The labour was so severe, and so strict was the discipline, that no temptation was held out to the soldier to shirk his duty for the purpose of getting into these prisons; and he believed that no one came out of them without entertaining a hearty intention at the time to do the best he could not to get in again. These were the essential points to which he wished to refer on the present occasion. There were various other particulars to which the attention of the Government would be turned, in order to improve the condition of the soldier. His hon. Friend the Clerk of the Ordnance would ask for a vote of 5,000l. for the establishment of washhouses. The Government were disposed to watch over the welfare of the soldier in every particular; and as proofs of that disposition he might refer to their having proposed and carried through the House the restitution, as he might call it, of 50,000l. a year, which was formerly charged as poundage upon the pensions of old soldiers, and the proposal which he had had the pleasure of laying before the House for limiting the period of service. This, he thought, would show what were the feelings of the Government towards the Army, and how they had attended to their interests. He believed that the more care we took of the soldier in time of peace, and the more we trained him in those habits which made him a good citizen, the more serviceable he would be found in time of need. He hoped also that we should train him in those maxims and habits of economy which it was the object and the duty of the Government to encourage, and induce the people of this country to look on the Army, not as a refuge for the outcasts of society, but as an honourable profession, in which they might encourage their children to embark, with the expectation of receiving them, after their period 654 of service had expired, improved in every way, and with their morals duly and properly attended to. With these observations he begged leave to propose the first Vote on the Paper, namely, that the number of officers non-commissioned officers, and rank and file, maintained for the service of the United Kingdom (exclusive of the troops in the East Indies), be 108,398 men.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
observed, that it was almost the first time since he had had a seat in that House, that he had heard estimates in which there was hardly an item that wanted explanation. He had mentioned his intention of proposing a reduction of 20,000 men; but upon consulting his Friends about him, he found so little encouragement that he did not intend to press his Motion.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, that the disposition evinced by the Government to promote the health and moral training of the troops, gave him great satisfaction. To give full scope to these efforts of the Government, and to do full justice to commanding officers, he should venture to suggest the establishment of discipline companies. Many of the foreign armies were obliged to resort to that expedient. With regard to the barracks of the men, he begged leave to remind his right hon. Friend, that the accommodation of many of the barracks was still exceedingly defective. In many barracks there was not more than one foot between each of the beds, and he hoped that a much larger vote would be taken for this purpose. Indeed, he thought the vote ought to be doubled or trebled.
§ MR. S. HERBERT
rose chiefly to express his gratification at the manner in which the improvements effected in the social state of the Army had been carried out by his right hon. Friend. With respect to the subject of the education of the Army, to which his right hon. Friend had alluded, in a manner very gratifying to himself, he felt that it could not have fallen into more zealous and more able hands than those of his right hon. Friend. He ventured, however, to throw out for the consideration of his right hon. Friend, whether the system of education in the normal schools at Chelsea might not be carried still further, by inducing some system of examination for promotion from the lower ranks. He should be glad also to see greater theoretical acquirements among the officers. He was happy to find 655 that the moral state of the Army was very much improved. He believed that with reference to punishments, during the last ten years there had been a very large diminution; and what was a still better test, the number of trials in the Army had been greatly reduced. It might be seen also, that a spirit of thought and providence in the Army was beginning to exist, which would no doubt lead to very desirable results. The system introduced by Lord Howick, in 1836, was the foundation of the present system of rewards in the Army; and he did not think that the Army was indebted to any one so much as it was to the noble Lord for that plan. He had endeavoured to carry out that system further; and his right hon. Friend (Mr. F. Maule) had entered into all these plans with so much earnestness, and had given so much attention to the subject, that there was reason to hope that we might soon see the Army in a very superior state.
§ MR. EWART
was disappointed at the vote on account of education, which was only 9,000l. He hoped that the attention of Government would be directed to the subject. With respect to the savings banks, he regretted to find that the sum of 2,000l. was all that was charged for this branch. So small a sum spoke little for that frugality which it was so desirable to inculcate in the Army. The right hon. Gentlemen had spoken of the theoretical education of officers. He thought if these officers had something given them to do in country quarters it would be advisable. He considered that our officers were the least intellectual, compared with other officers, throughout Europe, and it would be better if something was done to afford them more employment than they had at present.
§ MR. GOULBURN
quite agreed with all the encomiums which had been passed upon the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. There was but one point on which he would remark. In alluding to the colonial corps, the right hon. Gentleman had expressed a hope, that the employment of such bodies would become more general in our settlements abroad. Now, as what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman on the point, might be held to imply the opinion that there should be a general introduction of colonial corps, he felt bound to take every opportunity of protesting against any such principle. In cases where the regular soldiers were found not to be able to bear the severity of any 656 particular climate, then it might be advisable that native corps should be employed. But he objected to the general principle of employing colonial corps instead of portions of the regular Army. He held it to be most advisable that the military defenders of any colony ought to form a part of the Imperial Army, and to partake in the dignity of being constituent portions of the Army of Great Britain.
§ Vote agreed to, as were several other Votes.
§ On the Question that the Chairman do report progress,
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, it having been announced that the Government intended to give some distinctive mark of honour to the officers who served in the Peninsula, he wished to know whether it was intended to give them to the survivors only, or also to the families of deceased officers? His own impression was, that it should be given to the survivors only; but it was a subject on which he could scarcely venture to offer an opinion. He wished, however, to call the attention of the Government to the circumstance, that there were still living some of those who served at Trafalgar, and to state that he should be ashamed to bring forward the claims of the Army, without recommending, at the same time, the claims of those who performed such glorious services at Trafalgar. He still hoped the Government would not forget them. He would also take the opportunity of making a personal allusion. It would be recollected, that last year the noble Lord recommended to Her Majesty to appoint the son of General Nott to a living, and that Her Majesty did so to the great satisfaction of that House and the country. Now, it so happened, that the last words written by that gallant hero, Lord Nelson, was a recommendation of his adopted daughter to the care and protection of the country. He had not the slightest knowledge of that lady, but he understood she was married to a highly-esteemed clergyman of the Church of England, who had but a small provision in his profession, which he (Sir De L. Evans) now mentioned for the noble Lord's consideration; and in the hope that, although this lady had been so discreditably neglected by the Government of the day, the present Government would take an early opportunity of doing as much for her husband, as they had so properly done for the son of General Nott.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he had stated before, that it was very difficult for 657 Her Majesty's Government to entertain a question which had already been considered and decided upon by their predecessors. The aspect of the measure had, however, been altered of late years by the medals given for services in India and China; and it was natural to suppose that the Peninsular veterans, when they saw others decorated with marks of honour, might feel dissatisfied if similar badges of distinction were refused to them. With this view, Her Majesty's Ministers felt it their duty to advise Her Majesty, that medals should be granted to the soldiers of the Peninsula. It seemed to them, that it would be the best way to confine the grant of medals to persons present at actions on account of which medals had formerly been given to officers of certain rank and standing, and which the Sovereign had thus at the time pointed out to be actions deserving of rewards. They determined, therefore, to restrict this reward to those of our soldiers and non-commissioned officers who had been present in such actions. That was the principle which had determined the Government in agreeing to confer this mark of distinction. With respect to the Navy, it was expected by those who had participated in the triumphs of that service, that there should be some similar distinction given to it. On consideration the subject was found to be full of difficulty. The battle of Trafalgar was hardly a fair case to take by way of illustration; for, whereas the Army had no opportunity of encountering any considerable enemy except during the later period of the war, the naval service had been greatly distinguished during the earlier part of the war, and after 1805 there there was hardly any enemy to contend with it. It was, therefore, necessary for the Government of this country to consider the services of the Navy at a much earlier time than those of the Army, they having had priority of time with respect to their actual occurrence. In coming to a decision with respect to a reward for the service of the Navy, the same general principle had been observed as in the other case. It was agreed to take those actions only for which particular medals had been given; and the First Lord of the Admiralty had tendered advice to the Crown upon that principle. It was impossible to make any distribution of rewards for services so long past, upon any principle which should not leave out some distinguished and celebrated officers; but it had been deemed best to select the principle he had stated, and take as the 658 basis actions of which the importance had been previously recognised. With respect to the latter part of the gallant Officer's observations, he was not aware of the circumstance to which he alluded, and therefore could make no remark on the subject. The medals would take some time in preparation, but they would be issued as soon as they were ready.
§ SIR R. PEEL
asked whether or no the Government had come to any decision with respect to the erection of some public monument to the memory of Sir Robert Sale, Sir Robert Dick, and the officers of the rank of Colonel, who had fallen in the glorious battles of Ferozeshah and Sobraon.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, they had come to no final decision the subject. He understood it had been the decision of the former Government that there should be a monument which should at the same time celebrate the different officers who had thus fallen. It seemed to him that this would be the best plan to adopt.
§ SIR R. PEEL
thought, instead of having a separate statue for each, it would be best to have some public record of the two battles, which should commemorate the actions, and at the same time to have a separate medallion for the specific services performed at each battle.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
complained that, as medals were to be given for services in India and China, as well as for the battles of the last war, none were to be assigned to the seamen and officers who had served in the Syrian campaign. There was a very strong feeling among those who had shared its labours and perils, as to the justice of such a concession. He did not think there was anything particularly wonderful in the capture of Saint John d'Acre; but it could not be denied that the taking of so strong a fortress by a British squadron was a very gallant achievement. Why should not the Mediterranean squadron be rewarded in the same way as the others?
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
admitted that the services to which the hon. and gallant Admiral referred, had been of a very brilliant and distinguished character; but there had been services, not inferior, performed at Algiers and Navarino, which, if those of Acre were to be so rewarded, must likewise have medals.
§ SIR C. NAPIER
quite agreed with the noble Lord, and ventured to say with respect to the battle of Algiers, that there was not an action fought during the whole 659 war which was superior to it. The Admiral on that occasion, with five or six sail of the line, attacked one of the strongest places in the world; and he believed that scarcely any other man in the Navy would have done what Lord Exmouth did on that occasion. As to the action of Navarino, that was fought under very different circumstances; but no one could deny that the British commander had done his duty well.
§ House resumed.