HC Deb 14 April 1851 vol 116 cc200-5

House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Bernal in the chair.

(1.) 14,606l., Distinguished Services.

(2.) 52,000l., General Officers.

(3.) 52,500l., Full Pay, Reduced and Retired Officers.

Votes agreed to.

(4.) 377,000l., Half Pay, Reduced and Retired Officers.


wished to know whether any of these officers were capable of returning to the service, if required?


replied, that some were, but the proportion was very small indeed—as small as could be conceived. There had been of late years a visible diminution both in the number of officers on the list, and in the sum granted to them. In 1835, the number on the list was 5,671. It was now 3,130, and the sum voted had diminished from 585,000l. to 377,000l.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) 38,993l., Disbanded Foreign Corps.


said, that, on looking over the printed returns, he was struck by the extraordinary longevity of these annuitants. They certainly appeared to live much longer than half-pay officers residing in Great Britain. Great care ought to be taken by the Government to see that no imposition was practised, otherwise these foreign pensioners would live for ever.


assured the hon. Member that every possible precaution was taken to prevent imposture; and the recipients of the pensions had to be identified by the consuls abroad before receiving their annuities. There was a gradual diminution in the number of annuitants, and there seemed to be every probability that, in the course of a few years, the whole item would disappear.


Well, that is so far satisfactory; but he remembered some years ago calling attention to the pensions of some persons who came over here on the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and the explanation was, that though all these persons were dead, other persons had had the pensions granted to them instead. He did not think the War Office would be guilty of such a job as that, but still these pensions required looking after.


said, in 1835 the numbers were 673; in 1851 they are 320.

Vote agreed to, as were the following Votes:—

(6.) 122,717l. Widows' Pensions.

(7.) 88,500l. Compassionate List.

(8.) 35,413l. Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals.


thought the time had come when the Government should inquire whether the establishment of Chelsea Hospital was productive of benefit proportionate to its expense. Since greater facilities had been afforded for paying pensioners at their own abodes, there had been a disinclination exhibited on the part of pensioners to reside in the Hospital. If the immense staff of officers in the establishment were disbanded, the number of really deserving objects receiving relief might be quadrupled.


inquired whether the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War had issued, in the case of the Chelsea Hospital, similar instructions to those which had been issued in the case of Kilmainham, namely, that no more inmates should be admitted without application being first made to the War Office?


said, he certainly had not.


thought the abuses in the Chelsea establishment were many and flagrant. There were 540 old men in the Hospital, and there were no fewer than 102 officers and 27 nurses to take care of them. The entire cost of the establishment was 26,735l., of which near 9,004l. was paid to officers of the establishment.


wished to know whether the 120 officers included the nurses? He would be glad to know how much was allowed for apartments for the staff officers. He thought it would be found upon inquiry that the institution was almost self-supporting.

Vote agreed to, as was also—

(9.) 1,233,050l. Out-Pensioners.

(10.) 37,500l. Superannuations.


said: Before the Army Estimates are finally disposed of, I am anxious to repeat a few remarks nearly similar to what I stated last year, and requested the right hon. Secretary's attention to, which he promised he would accord; and I would, in the first place, beg to remark upon the smallness of the sum voted under the head of "Allowance to Commanding Officers, as borne upon the Establishment—4,941l." Now, Sir, this arises from a case of manifest injustice, in granting to officers commanding infantry regiments an allowance of 3s. per diem as command money. Now, Sir, why this should be withheld from the officer commanding a cavalry regiment, I am greatly at a loss to imagine, or how such an act of injustice could exist; by this, the pay of the lieutenant-colonel of the infantry is greater than the cavalry lieutenant-colonel, for the latter pays for forage for his horses, and the former does not; and the infantry service is not one-tenth so expensive as the cavalry. Whilst on the subject of forage, I would also remark upon another case of very flagrant injustice shown to the cavalry officer, in having to pay for the forage of his regimental chargers, kept for the public service. Payment for the forage is liberally granted to our illustrious Field Marshal, the Commander-in-Chief—every general officer employed; every description of staff officer; every officer of infantry; artillery; engineers; commissariat; all receive payment for their horses; and the cavalry service, where alone horses are positively required, where the force would be useless without, are compelled to pay for their keep and forage. This, Sir, is an anomaly unheard of in any other service, and is so decidedly unsupportable by any idea of right or justice, that I am surprised any Secretary at War could sanction it. I trust, therefore, the right hon. Secretary will consider this, and remove the injustice. The right hon. Secretary dwelt with much eloquence and force upon the many and great advantages derivable from the grant of 1s. 2d., made by a late order, to the married soldier, for lodging-money— and no doubt they are very great, and I rejoiced to see the House reciprocate that feeling; but I hope my right hon. Friend will excuse me when I say I do not join in this feeling of praise, for I find the same spirit of parsimony here which always marks all gifts to soldiers. I dare say every Member (except the military) in the House were impressed with the idea that every soldier who had married with consent of his commanding officer, received this bounty; but such is not the fact, it is only given in the miserable proportion of 3 for every 100—thus giving about 8s. 9d. to every cavalry regiment per week, and about 3s. 8d. to each infantry corps. But this is not all. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will scarcely credit me when I say the public benefit by this great liberality—by the barrack regulations every man residing out of barracks forfeits all claim for fuel and candles, as well as the use of barrack bedding and furniture. Now, Sir, the value of these allowances is, I should say, rather more than 1s. 2d. per week; certainly more if we take into consideration the wear and tear of the furniture. Thus, what is paid by one department is saved by another, and of course the soldier suffers. The right hon. Secretary talked of the advantage which would accrue to the soldier by having model lodging-houses near the barracks, and no doubt it would be; but I venture to suggest a plan which would be far more advisable, namely, for the Barracks Department to construct some small tenements inside the barrack walls suitable for married soldiers, and they would gladly pay this allowance of 1s. 2d. per week. They would have the advantage of residing with their families, free from the wretched association of the profligate and depraved, who resort to those low lodging-houses where the soldier can only seek for accommodation—they would shelter their families from the immorality and impropriety of occupying the same rooms with bachelor soldiers, being resident within the walls, and they would have their fuel allowance, and the use of barrack bedding and furniture, and be thus comparatively happy, and they would be under the surveillance of their officers, which every soldier should be. I have only one more matter to call the right hon. Secretary's attention to, namely, the state of barrack accommodation and lodging money to married officers. When a regiment arrives at its new quarters, the senior officers have their choice of quarters in barracks, and it usually happens the staff officers have the prior choice; but this is rendered quite useless by the paucity of the accommodation—one room. So those officers are forced into lodgings, and the junior officers occupy the room in barracks. Now, Sir, although the accommodation is not large enough, these officers, before they can receive lodging money —wretched as it is, 6s. per week—are obliged to sign a certificate that "they are not in lodgings for their own personal accommodation." Now, Sir, I hope the right hon. Secretary will expunge this certificate, which no officer can sign; and as this injustice falls on those who can least afford it, namely, staff-officers who have risen from the ranks by merit, it is most desirable it should be done away with; and I do entreat my right hon. Friend will consider this, and expunge this most objectionable certificate, and enable these officers to obtain lodging-money when the barrack accommodation is not sufficient for the corps. I have to apologise for taking up so much of the time of the House, but my anxiety for the advantage and well-being of my profession will plead my apology.


begged to call the attention of the right hon. Secretary at War to the want of day rooms for soldiers in barracks, as a means of raising the character of the soldier. He believed that in all other services in Europe there were common rooms for the soldiers, to which they could repair and pass their time in rational amusements, instead of in the town or canteen. He threw out the suggestion in order that accommodation might be provided in any new barracks that might be built hereafter.


said, with reference to the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Col. Chatterton) respecting the command money of officers commanding regiments, that he feared the question was one of pounds, shillings and pence, depending upon the liberality of the House. There were questions with regard to officers in the Army and their pay, that required prior consideration; but he had not, as yet, been able to move in that direction, nor was he aware that he had given any pledge that he would do so. With regard to cavalry officers, he did not think they had the ground of complaint which the hon. and gallant Gentleman stated. The pay was perhaps lower than it ought to be; but still he did not think it was lower in proportion than that of other officers in the Army. With regard to the question of married soldiers, it was the intention to allow three out of the six permitted to marry to live out of barracks, and arrangements were also being made for separating the married and unmarried soldiers. The question of married officers was one which he feared he could not touch, for if they were to allow married officers to have accommodation for their wives and families as a matter of claim, the entire Army would very soon be married. With regard to the suggestions made by the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. J. A. Smith), they were extremely valuable, and he assured him that they had not been forgotten. Almost every barrack had now a day-room, supplied with newspapers and periodicals, to which he was happy to say the soldiers resorted in preference to the town or the canteen. These rooms were not as large as they ought to be; but care would be taken to extend accommodation of this kind as much as possible.


wished to know whether the right hon. Secretary at War had any objection to a return being made out, showing the comparative cost between the cavalry horses and the horses which were in the service of the artillery? On comparing the estimate, he found that whilst the cost of the horses in the cavalry wore 26l., those in the artillery service cost 31l.


said, he should be happy to procure any information which the hon. Gentleman might desire, on his bringing the question before the House in the shape of a Motion for a return.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.