HC Deb 08 March 1850 vol 109 cc535-41

Order for Committee read.


, in moving that the House do go into Committee of Supply on the Army Estimates, appealed to the hon. and gallant Member for Longford to postpone his Motion to some other occasion of Committee of Supply, inasmuch as notice had been given of a Motion of national importance by the hon. Member for the West Riding, and there would be considerable convenience in having that Motion debated and disposed of as soon as possible.


did not consider it quite fair to ask him to postpone his Motion, because the fact of its not being of such general interest as that of the hon. Member for the West Riding rendered it difficult for him to secure himself a hearing on any future occasion. He would not detain the House long.


begged to remind the hon. and gallant Member, that, as his Motion had precedence of that of the hon. Member for the West Riding, yet, although he should speak only for five minutes, if his Motion were put and negatived, the hon. Member for the West Riding would be, by the rules of the House, prevented from bringing on his Motion to-night. On these grounds he trusted the hon. and gallant Member would bring forward his Motion on some other day.


had that confidence in the House that he felt certain, if he could prove that officers of Her Majesty's Army had been treated unjustly and with partiality, the House would not refuse to hear their case, and extend justice towards them.


If the hon. Member proceeds, I must first put the question, which is, "That I do now leave the chair."

Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the brevet which took place on the occasion of Her Majesty's late visit to Ireland, and to the ill-treatment of the officers of the line by that brevet. The honour of attending upon Her Majesty's person was generally confined to the household troops, in consideration of which certain exclusive advantages were conferred upon them. Promotions by brevet occurred among the household troops on certain occasions, from which the line was totally excluded. On the accession of Her Majesty, three captains of the household troops were promoted to be majors. On the birth of the Prince of Wales a general brevet for length of service took place, but, in addition, three more captains in the household troops were promoted to be majors. The visits of Her Majesty to different parts of the kingdom offered an occasion, and the only one, for extending these advantages of brevet promotion to the officers of the line. On Her Majesty's visit to Scotland, in 1842, four majors of the line were promoted lay brevet to be lieutenant-colonels, and four captains were promoted to be majors. On the Queen's visit to the Channel Islands, in 1846, three majors were promoted to lieutenant-colonelcies, and two captains to be majors. On the occasion of Her Majesty's visit to Ireland, the officers of the line in that country were led to indulge the hope that their arduous services in various parts of the globe would be rewarded, and that they would come in for their share of that brevet promotion which they had no other chance of obtaining. He regretted that, in mentioning the names of the officers who were selected for promotion on the occasion of Her Majesty's visit to Ireland, it would be necessary to mention the names of gentlemen who could not be present in that House to answer for themselves. The following were the officers thus selected for promotion—namely, four majors to be lieutenant-colonels—Major H. Ward, 48th Foot; Major E. Vicars, R. E.; Major C. R. Scott, Assistant Quartermaster-General in Dublin; Major F. Burdett, 17th Light Dragoons. Five captains were promoted to the rank of major—Captain J. W. Collington, R. A.; Captain the Hon. J. W. B. Macdonald, Captain the Hon. St. G. G. Foley, Captain Lord C. G. Russell, Captain G. Bagot, Captain H. F. Ponsonby. On February 15th he (Major Blackall) moved for a return of all the officers in personal attendance upon the Queen in Ireland, and he had to complain that this return had not yet been laid upon the table. The reason alleged was, that the return had not yet been obtained from Dublin. But, surely, when the close and speedy communication between this country and Ireland was advanced by the great public organ referred to by the hon. Member for Dublin to-night, as the reason for abolishing the office of Lord Lieutenant, they might have expected, that by the 7th of March such a return would have been forthcoming. It would have shown the length of the service of those officers who were in personal attendance upon the Queen, and who were passed over in the brevet. Captain Green, R. A., fired the first salute on Her Majesty's landing; Major Carpenter, 41st Foot, commanded Her Majesty's escort; Brevet-Major Mylius, 26th Foot, Captain of the guard of honour; Captain Jocelyn, 6th Dragoon Guards, on the escort in Dublin. There were also the following officers on the escort in Dublin:—Captain Marindin, Royals; Captain Holdsworth, Queen's; Captain Todd, 40th; Captain Riky, 48th; Captain Rose, 55th; Captain Bedford, 60th. At Belfast the escort was commanded by Major Wilkinson of the 13th; with many others whose names he did not know. Now the services of these officers far outweighed those of the officers selected for promotion. Out of twenty-six cavalry and fifty-nine infantry, captains in garrison at Dublin during Her Majesty's visit, not a single officer received the brevet, whilst, on the other hand, out of the garrison staff, which included thirteen captains, five received brevet promotion. He trusted that Her Majesty might be induced to extend the privileges of the brevet to some of these officers, who had served Her Majesty in different climates, in various parts of the world, but who had been passed over on the present occasion. He trusted that the hon. Member for Montrose would not oppose this Motion from any motives of economy; for, if Her Majesty should be advised to extend the brevet to these officers, the increased expense would only be about 250l. a year. It was said, that these distinctions were confined according to the usual practice to officers in Dublin; but this was not the case with regard to civil distinctions. The mayors of Cork and Belfast received the honours of knighthood, and the Lord Mayor of Dublin was made a baronet. He, therefore, did not see why the officers in garrison in those towns as well as in Dublin should not share in the brevet. If he looked for a precedent to the brevet upon the occasion of Her Majesty's visit to the Channel Islands, he found that promotion was given to officers in both islands, Jersey as well as Guernsey. He could not discover on what principles the Irish brevet had proceeded. Promotion was not given to the senior officers, nor to those specially employed in personal attendance on Her Majesty; indeed, every principle on which brevets had hitherto gone had been deviated from. He believed that the custom hitherto had been to call upon the major-generals commanding districts to furnish a return of the names of those officers whom they thought fit to recommend for promotion; and, in anticipation that the usual course would be followed, he understood the major-generals had selected for the honour of personally attending upon Her Majesty the oldest officers under their command at the time. It would, no doubt, be said, that it was an interference with the prerogative of the Crown to interfere in a matter of this kind; but these were words and nothing else. These officers were selected by those who were privileged to recommend them to Her Majesty, and he trusted he had shown sufficient ground for calling upon the House to agree to his Motion.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, 'an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be pleased to take into Her gracious consideration the services and claims for promotion by brevet, of those, officers whose names were forwarded to the Lieutenant General commanding the forces in Ireland, as having been employed in personal attendance upon Her Majesty during Her late royal visit to Ireland,'

instead thereof.


seconded the Motion.


said, the hon. and gallant Member called upon the House to interpose in a matter depending upon and emanating from the Crown, and one which, in so far as they were not called upon for a grant of public money, the House should be slow to interfere. The hon. and gallant Member complained that the return for which he had moved was not forthcoming; but if he would reflect upon the terms of that return, and the minute details which it required concerning length of service and other particulars, he would see that no apology was required from him that the return had not yet been laid upon the table. The brevet had been granted upon this principle, that it was considered according to precedent that the selection should be confined entirely to officers in garrison at Dublin. He would read to the House a list of the officers promoted by brevet to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, in consequence of Her Majesty's visit to Ireland in 1849; Major H. Ward, thirty years' service, senior major of infantry employed on the occasion; Major Vicars, Royal Engineers, twenty-seven years' service, the senior officer of engineers attached to the Dublin district; Major C. R. Scott, thirty-seven years' service. Assistant Quarter-master General of the Dublin district; Major F. Burdett, 17th Light Dragoons, seventeen years' service, senior major of cavalry employed on the occasion. These promotions were thus given to these officers in respect of their seniority in the different services with which they were connected. But there were six other officers promoted by brevet to the rank of major in consequence of Her Majesty's visit to Ireland. The first was captain collington, Royal Artillery, thirty-three years' service, senior captain of artillery employed on the occasion. The other five officers selected belonged to a different class, and were upon the personal staff of the Lord Lieutenant, the Commander of the Forces in Ireland, and the Lieutenant General, and Major General, commanding in Dublin. He (Mr. F. Maule) understood, and believed, that on all similar occasions when the Lord Lieutenant had received the Sovereign, it had been the custom to confer brevet promotions upon the staff-officers of the Lord Lieutenant, and the general officers above-named; and, if it had happened that these officers belonged to one branch of the service, that was the mere fortune of war, and the promotion must be considered as not given to their particular service, but to the position they held upon the personal staff. These five officers were, Hon. J. Macdonald, unattached, twenty years' service. Aide-de-camp to His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge; Hon. St. George Foley, unattached, seventeen years' service. Aid-de-camp to the Lieutenant General commanding in Ireland; Lord Cosmo Russell, 93rd Foot, fifteen years' service. Aide-de-camp to the Lieutenant General commanding in Ireland; Captain G. Bagot, 41st Foot, fourteen years' service. Aide-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant; Captain H. J. Ponsonby, Grenadier Guards, seven years' service. Aide-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant. He was aware that some disappointment existed that the brevet had not been extended so much as on former occasions, but this had arisen from considerations of economy. He regretted that the necessity for economy had prevented this further extension of the brevet, and he trusted that the House would not be called upon to divide upon the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member.


rose to protest altogether against the hon. and gallant Member's Motion, and his doctrine. He talked of paltry economy. Why, that was the language that had led to the present enormous amount of taxation. He (Mr. Hume) said, the brevet had been used in a most scandalous and infamous manner by the Government. The last four brevets had added 100,000l. a year to the expenditure of the country, and before 1843 four other brevets added 64,000l. a year. This might appear of little moment, but when they looked at the origin of brevets it was an abuse. The use of a brevet was to advance some particular officer for some particular occasion, but it bad been made to add to the general ranks of the Army. It was by such means that the finances had been brought into their present condition, which had attracted the observation of every one. With regard to the promotion of the mayors of Cork, Belfast, and Dublin, he should have had no objection if the Queen had made each of them Dukes. She might have made Peers and Baronets of all classes, because that was no additional expense to the country. He held that no single promotion ought to take place in the Army or Navy more than was required for the exigencies of the public service. We bad already more officers than we could employ in the Navy, about five to one.


should be the last in the world to wish to interfere with Her Majesty's prerogative; but being in Dublin at the time, he could speak to the disappointment that was felt, that the promotion was less to the officers of the line than to those of the staff.


hoped the hon. and gallant Member would not divide the House. He was one of those who thought that a brevet ought not to take place, because it was peculiar to the English Army. But if a brevet did take place, he quite agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend, that it ought to be fairly distributed; but he must say, that on a late occasion, unfair favouritism was shown to the officers in Dublin. One officer, Colonel Reeve, was passed over, while his juniors in rank were elevated.


hoped the hon. and gallant Member would see the propriety of withdrawing his Motion, instead of pressing it to a division in the present feeling of the House, which would certainly prejudice his case.


should be sorry to act against the feeling of the House; but not a word had been said to justify the extremely limited extent of the brevet. He had not found fault with any of the promotions that had taken place, but merely complained that the brevet had not been carried further. With regard to economy, he must say he believed that these officers had a claim upon the country. With the permission of the House, however, he would withdraw his Motion.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.