HC Deb 11 May 1855 vol 138 cc420-36

said, that the hon. and gallant Member (Major Reed) had a notice on the present state of public affairs, and as another hon. Member (Mr. Layard) had already occupied that ground, he would put it to him whether he would think it expedient to anticipate the discussion of the hon. Member for Aylesbury, upon the issue of which the fate of the Government might depend.


said, that, in answer to the question of the hon. Gentleman opposite, he could only say that he had no desire to violate any rule of the House. He, however, could not see that similarity between his Motion and that of the hon. Member for Aylesbury, which appeared to have made an impression upon the hon. Gentleman opposite. The Motion of the hon. Member for Aylesbury was a vote of censure upon the Government. His (Major Reed's) Motion was of an entirely different character. As an independent Member, neither desiring nor seeking office, he wished to give his cordial support to Her Majesty's Government in the critical circumstances in which the country was now placed. His object was to induce the noble Lord at the head of the Government to make such a general statement, consistent with his public duty, as would be satisfactory to the country at large. Under these circumstances, he did not feel it would he consistent with his position as a Member belonging to no particular party or faction, to acquiesce in the proposal of the hon. Gentleman; and he should accordingly proceed in the terms of his Motion— To call the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the highly critical position of public affairs, and to the increasing anxiety and dissatisfaction which at present pervades all classes of society, and to impress upon Her Majesty's Government the wisdom of immediately anticipating those consequences which are certain to arise from continual popular demonstrations, by at once introducing such reforms in every branch of the State as are consonant with the intelligence of the age and the just demands of the people. In support of this Motion, he would only call the attention of the House to this important fact—that, after the Earl of Aberdeen had tendered his resignation, the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) was entrusted with the formation of a new Administration, with the entire approbation of the people, who felt satisfied that he was equal to the emergency. But, he would ask, what had been the result of the good opinion which had been formed on that occasion? He regretted to say that the country had been wofully deceived. He regretted to say that the noble Viscount had not moved with the spirit of the times—that he had not introduced reform—that he had, in fact, only formed his Administration out of the same materials as the late Ministry. The taunts of the Opposition that the party to which the noble Lord belonged were democrats in opposition but oligarchs in office appeared to be well merited. As an independent Member, he called upon the noble Lord now to make such a declaration as to the future intentions of the Government as would satisfy the voice of public opinion in this country. He was inclined to give the Government his cordial support—he wished to do so in the circumstances in which they were placed, and he would give them that support if the noble Viscount now made a satisfactory declaration; but if he did not do so, he should oppose him. He could assure the noble Viscount that the seeds of discontent had already been sown broadcast throughout the land, and that those seeds were producing fruit—that they were daily watered by the tears of the thousands who had lost relatives and friends during the present war. He therefore called upon the noble Viscount to make such a statement as would give those who wished to support him a tolerable excuse for doing so. If the noble Lord would not do so, the days of his Government were numbered. He could no better conclude his observations than by addressing to the noble Viscount the words of the great poet, Milton— Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen !


Sir, the course which the hon. and gallant Member has taken is, in my opinion, perfectly justified by the present position of public affairs, and by the feeling of the House and of the country. I am not disposed, therefore, to find fault with the hon. and gallant Member on this ground, and I do full justice to the motives which have induced him to bring forward this subject. It is perfectly true, as he has stated, that when it was Her Majesty's pleasure to authorise me to form a Government, public expectation had risen high, and, if I may be allowed to say so, had overrun the bounds of reasonable and practicable realisation. It was my duty to endeavour to obtain the assistance of those persons whom I thought most capable, from their position in Parliament, of making a strong and efficient Government. I was actuated by none of those considerations which have, without cause, been imputed to me, of private partialities, of family connections, and of regard for rank; but my object was to look around me and see who were the men most eminent and distinguished in public life, who had shown themselves capable of governing by the part they had taken in public affairs, and whose opinions were most in conformity with my own. I apprehend that to be the duty of any man who may be called upon by his Sovereign to form an Administration for the conduct of public affairs. I know it has been frequently said, and felt by many, that instead of taking those men who had by their previous experience acquired knowledge, and to whom opportunities had been afforded of displaying their abilities in the management of public affairs, or who had hitherto devoted themselves to a public life, it was the duty of an individual placed in the situation in which I found myself, to go elsewhere, and select the Members of a Government principally from persons engaged in commercial and business transactions. My answer to that statement is plain and simple. Those persons who have devoted themselves to commercial and business-like pursuits, and who have been endowed by nature with eminent talents for such pursuits, have generally engaged themselves in transactions which make it imposible for them to abandon those pursuits and to accept a precarious political office. Why, does not everybody know that when Lord Derby was commanded to form a Government upon a former occasion, he was desirous of having as his Chancellor of the Exchequer an eminent hon. Member of this House, most fitted by his talents for that situation, and whom it would be an honour to any Government to have enlisted in its ranks—I mean the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Baring). But that hon. Gentleman was obliged, being unable to give up the immense engagements in which he was concerned, to decline Lord Derby's offer. When I was forming the present Government I wished to obtain the assistance of the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing). I wished that hon. Gentleman to represent in this House the commercial department of the Administration; but he told me, what was naturally, perhaps, to be feared—that his commercial engagements were such that he could not possibly abandon them and accept the duties of the office which I proposed that he should take charge. A person who is appointed to form a Government has not that entire freedom of choice which some Gentlemen imagine he possesses. He must look out, in the first place, for political experience; he must look out for men who, by their former conduct, have shown that they are capable of discharging political duties, and who are free from any of those private engagements which would prevent them from accepting temporary political appointments. Well, Sir, I cannot but think that the Government, as it stands, is composed of men who are entitled, from their former conduct, their known ability, and their political acquirements and sagacity, to command the confidence of this House and of the country. The hon. and gallant Officer has said that he wishes to know what are the views of Her Majesty's Government with regard to those administrative changes which the voice of the country has so loudly called for. Well, Sir, I am free to admit that considerable improvements are required, or have been required, in many of the departments of the State; and I can assure this House and the country that these matters have not escaped the attention of Her Majesty's Government. Much has been done, and I am happy to say that very successful results have already been achieved. If we take the army—that branch of the public service which has more peculiarly, from unfortunate circumstances, attracted general attention, I am happy to say that our army now in the Crimea is, by universal consent and admission, in as perfect a condition as any British army ever exhibited. I make this statement, not merely upon the testimony of officers who are friends to the Government—not merely on the evidence of official reports— but upon the unsuspected testimony of the Commander of our Allies, who has rendered honourable justice to the condition of the British forces in the Crimea. Now, Sir, I am asked what has been done, and what is going to be done? I will, in the first place, call attention to what has been done by Her Majesty's Government. It is vain to conceal or to deny that of which everybody is aware—that when, after a forty years' peace, we undertook an expedition upon an extensive scale and at a great distance, under circumstances of very considerable difficulty, great mischances in the way of detailed arrangements took place; and that those who were employed to execute arrangements with which they were not conversant, did, undoubtedly, make many mistakes. The result could hardly have been otherwise, though it might perhaps have been less severe; but certainly these mistakes did exist to a great degree, and were productive of consequences locally which we must all lament. With reference to the changes effected by Her Majesty's Government, I will begin with the Commissariat Department. That department was under the control of the Treasury, but by an arrangement made by the Government of Lord Aberdeen, and which has been continued by the present Administration, the Commissariat has been placed under the Secretary of State for the War Department. The Commissariat is a military department, and ought therefore, I think, to be under the command of the military chief; it ought to be administered by that officer of State to whom it belongs to arrange the military details of the public service. Sir John M'Neill, a most able man, has been sent out to organise and arrange the details of the Commissariat Department in the Crimea, and I believe that, under his superintendence, the Commissariat arrangements are as complete as the nature of such a service will admit of. Arrangements have been made for furnishing to the army an ample supply of all the articles which it is the duty of the Commissariat to provide. Great inconvenience arose, in connection with this department, from the combination of the duties of supply with the duties of distribution and transmission—that is to say, great inconvenience arose from the circumstance that the same Commissariat officers who were charged with providing the supplies for the army were also charged with the duty of providing the means of transport for carrying these supplies inland from place to place. The department of transport has now been separated from the department of supply, and, under the con- trol of a very able officer, Colonel M'Murdo, the Transport Department is in a state of complete efficiency. We have, therefore, every reason to entertain a confident hope that, from henceforward, our army in the Crimea will not only be furnished with an ample supply of those articles which it is the duty of the Commissariat to provide, but that it will also possess an ample supply of the means of transport, consisting of animals and carriages. I will next refer to the Medical Department of the army, which is about to be immediately remodelled at home. New persons will be placed at the head of the department, a military man and a civilian, both under the immediate orders of the Secretary of State for the War Department, with whom it will rest to give all directions for the management of the Medical Department of the army, and to regulate the appointment and promotion of persons in it. Of course officers of this department on foreign service, being subject to military law, will, in point of discipline, be under the orders of the officer commanding the force with which they may serve. I am happy to state, with reference to this subject, that the hospital arrangements in the East have been placed in a most satisfactory condition. Not only have civilians been sent out to assist in some of the hospitals, but a commission purely civilian, consisting of men well versed in sanitary arrangements—Dr. Sutherland, Dr. Gavin—who unfortunately lost his life by a most painful accident—and Mr. Rawlinson, an engineer—have also been sent out for the sole purpose of placing the hospitals, the camps, and all the stations of troops in a condition as free from those influences which impair health as it is possible to do by any arrangements. I am glad to say that the arrangements of the Commissioners have been productive of the most beneficial results. Well, Sir, great complaints have been made of the want of sufficient arrangements with regard to naval transport. That department was formerly under the control of one person, who was charged with other duties, and the consequence undoubtedly was, that sometimes, from the pressure of business, the arrangements for this service were not carried out, either so promptly, or with so much perfection, as was desirable. My right hon. Friend the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir J. Graham) made an excellent arrangement, by which the naval transport service was placed on an official footing under a separate Board acting under the immediate orders of the Admiralty; and I believe that arrangement will produce the best results with regard to that most important branch of the public service. So far, then, with respect to the Commissariat, the Medical Department, and the transport service by land and by sea; and I trust the arrangements which have been made affecting these most important subsidiary branches of the military service have already produced good results, and will prevent the recurrence of those inconveniences from which the army suffered in the course of the autumn and winter of last year. Now, Sir, with regard to what the Government propose to do. It has struck everybody who has paid any attention to military matters, that that part of our military arrangements which separated a very important branch of our military service from the rest, and placed it under the control of the Board of Ordnance, was an arrangement which was highly inconvenient and which it was most desirable to change. My noble Friend (Lord Panmure) has given his anxious attention to the subject of effecting an improved arrangement in regard to that department, and I will now proceed to explain what Her Majesty's Government propose to do, in order to effect this object. I am sure the House will feel that there must be far more difficulty in remodelling any of the public departments, while they are engaged in carrying on important services, than there would be at a period when there was, comparatively speaking, less pressure upon the time and attention of those who have to remodel such department. That difficulty must be especially felt at a period when every hour of the day, and even of the night, scarcely affords sufficient time for transacting the daily and current business which presses upon the heads of departments; for, under such circumstances, not only is it difficult to mature the necessary arrangements, but also to carry them into operation, without in some degree interfering with the despatch of current affairs. In the first place, we propose to remodel the Board of Ordnance, to abolish the office of Master General of the Ordnance, and to abolish also the Board of Ordnance as a separate establishment. The corps of Artillery and Engineers will, as military bodies, in point of discipline, be placed under the same authority which governs the discipline of the army at large. I certainly never could understand the principle—the result of ancient arrangements—upon which the forces of the line were placed under one military chief, and the artillery and engineers under another. I believe such a regulation does not exist in any other army in the world. It was, however, the result of ancient arrangements, and was allowed to continue for a long period of years. Great advantage will accrue to the service from placing the Artillery and Engineers, as military bodies, under the same head as the rest of the army. It will be of advantage to the service at home—it will be of greater advantage abroad. There will be no longer a sort of distinction between the Ordnance corps and the army in general, a distinction that does not exist in any other army, and which on many occasions has been attended with inconvenience to the public service. The Board of Ordnance being abolished as a separate establishment, together with the office of Master General and Lieutenant General, and the discipline of the Artillery and Engineers being intrusted to the Commander in Chief, the civil department of the Ordnance will be placed under the Secretary of State for the War Department. Our object has been to centralise as much as possible—to give unity of direction in all matters in which there is unity of nature—and to bring as far as possible all the military departments under one supreme and directing control. Therefore, the preparation of stores, ordnance manufactures, the manufacture of arms, of cannon, of ammunition, all things connected with the construction of fortifications and barracks, and all that belongs to the civil branches of the Ordnance, will be put under the direct control of the Secretary of State for the War Department. He will, of course, have under him subordinate heads in all these different branches. The House will see, then, that the Commissariat, the Medical Department, and the Ordnance Department, will henceforward be under the immediate control of the Minister for War. There then remains a branch of the military service, the business of which has hitherto been transacted by the Secretary at War—that is to say, the examination of the accounts of the army. That is a department of great importance, in which much business is done, and which must be done under some responsible head. The office of Secretary at War and Secretary of State for War having been united in the person of Lord Panmure, he will be also the head of the department which examines the accounts of the army. The House will see that in so far as public expectation goes in favour of the consolidation of the military departments under one head—giving unity of action and promptitude of execution—the arrangements we propose, those which we have partially effected, and those which are about to be completed will, as far as possible, meet that desire; because there will be one official head who will have under him all those matters, both departmental and political, that appertain to our military system. By political, I mean the distribution of the troops, the direction of expeditions, and everything connected with the political relations of the country. He will also have all those duties which have hitherto been performed by the Secretary at War. He will also have the direction of the Commissariat, of the Land Transport, of the Naval Transport, and of the Medical and Ordnance Departments:—all these departments will hereafter be brought under one head. Some persons, I am aware, have thought that the system of consolidation should be carried still further. They think that the Minister of War ought also to be what the Ministers of War in some other countries are—the Commander in Chief, and to have the discipline of the army as well as the direction of the political relations and civil branches of the army. I confess, that for one, I am tot of that opinion. There are great objections to such a consolidation—objections belonging to the interests of the service, and also objections belonging to other matters connected with the working of our constitution. This country is under Parliamentary Government. Its Governments are liable to change from time to time, and the Government must be composed of men of a political character. If the Minister of War were to be also the director of the discipline of the army, I say he must in that case be a military man. It would be fatal to the character and spirit of the army to commit its discipline to a mere civilian. I cannot believe that any army would feel that respect that it ought to feel for a chief who was not a soldier. His praise would have no value, and his censure would command no respect. It is absolutely necessary, in my opinion, that the commander of the army, in order to insure its excellence and superiority, and to be able to judge of the merits and demerits of the officers, should be a military man. It would be impossible, however, amid all the changes to which Governments are exposed, always to find a military man who had so devoted himself to political matters as to be, by that circumstance, pointed out the representative of the army in the Cabinet. Therefore, with regard to the interests of the army, I think it is undesirable that such a change should be made. But I am also of opinion that if all the patronage of the army were to be dispensed by a Member of the Government of the day, it would be an arrangement open to great and serious objections. I think, therefore, the present arrangement is one that ought to be continued. There is great advantage in having the discipline of the army directed by a military man rather than by a citizen; and there are very weighty reasons why the patronage of the army should not be dispensed by a man connected with the political party which may at the moment be at the head of affairs. It is very well for persons to talk of abuses in the patronage of the army, and to point to individual cases in which they think due attention has not been paid to particular merits and services by the Commander in Chief at the head of the army. It is impossible for any man, however pure his motives, or however correct his judgment, to avoid reflections like these, or to meet with universal assent in whatever way he may exercise his choice. Complaints, therefore, must always be expected when the army is governed by a military man; but how much greater, I ask, would the outcry be, and how much multiplied would be the number of complaints if the patronage of the army were dispensed by a man who sat on the Treasury bench in the House of Commons or in the other House of Parliament? He would be open to every kind of imputation—and, of course, men are naturally governed by motives; and it is quite clear that the inducements to allow favour and partiality to overpower his judgment of merit would be tenfold greater on the part of a person belonging to a Government than they could be in the breast of a man who has no other object than the character and officering of the army, at the head of which it is his good fortune to be placed. I have stated to the House what has been done, and what we propose to do. I think these arrangements will accomplish great and important results, and be greatly to the advantage of the military branch of the public ser- vice. These are, however, matters that cannot be made perfect at once. It is very probable that experience and the working of those arrangements which we have made may lead to further improvements. We have done all that, in the meantime, we think the nature of things will admit of, and that the interests of the public service require; but we are ready to reconsider any of these arrangements, and, if it is found by experience that improvements can be made in what we are going to carry into execution, we shall be ready to do so. I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Reed) and the House that the great object the Government have at heart—and I do not pretend to claim any particular merit for these desires, because the object of any persona who stand in the position of Ministers of the Crown must be the same—is to render all the departments of the public service as efficient as it is possible for us to make them. We can have no other motive than that of discharging our duty to the best of our abilities, because it is only by a successful administration—by correcting errors where errors have been committed, and remedying defects where defects are found to exist—by introducing into every branch of the public service the utmost vigour, and activity, and the most successful energy which it is in the power of the Government to infuse—it is only by that means that it is possible to carry the country through the great war in which we are now engaged; it is only by a successful prosecution of that war by improvements in the public service;—it is only by these means that any Government that may be honoured with the confidence of the Crown, and supported by the confidence of Parliament, can expect to render themselves worthy of either that service or of that confidence, and can expect to earn the approbation of their Sovereign and their country. I trust, therefore, that if the country, from an impatient but very natural desire of seeing these improvements carried out, has shown itself desirous to go rather ahead of the Government in carrying out these changes in our military institutions, they will not ascribe any delay that has taken place to apathy on our part, or to indifference to those interests which it is our duty to promote, but will believe that what to them may appear delay has simply arisen from those difficulties that are inherent in the arrangements which we are about to carry into effect, and which it would have been unbefiting for us to launch forth until by mature deliberation and examination we were satisfied we were taking that course which was the best we could for the moment devise, and which would be attended with the greatest advantage to the country. I admit that this House has given generously and largely its assistance to the Government in respect to all matters in which the public service was concerned; I am bound to say that the way in which this House has afforded to the Government all the means they required has presented a most gratifying spectacle to the world, for we have seen no party feeling and no strife of different sections interfering with the interests of the public service; I am bound to make the most handsome acknowledgment to all in that respect; and I say, if that has been the case, and if the country has also been willing to wait to see what changes and improvements we were able to make, I trust this House and the country will think that those changes which have already been made, and those which we are about to make, and that great and marked improvement already effected in the condition of our army abroad, will justify the forbearance which this House has shown, and will entitle us to at least a continuance of the confidence of the country. We are now engaged in a great struggle. It is not, depend on it, simply a question of this condition or of that, or merely a question of those points which have lately been discussed, but all Europe, all the world, all the human race have their eyes fixed on the contest now carrying on by two great Powers on the one side against a gigantic and colossal Power on the other. On the issue of that contest depends not the question of minute arrangements or conditions, but whether England and France shall continue to hold the high position which they have hitherto occupied among the nations of the world, or whether, on the other hand, we and France shall sink down to the condition of inferior and secondary States, and whether the enemy with whom we contend shall henceforth be the dictator and dominant Power in the world.


Sir, on Friday night a Secretary of State, on a similar motion to that which is now in your hands, read a lecture to the House on the great inconvenience of making that motion, by an abuse, the opportunity for indulging in desultory discussions. I believe the Secretary of State even intimated that if the abuse was persevered in, it was not impossible that steps might be taken to restrain and restrict the privileges of Members of this House. Well, Sir, remembering what occurred last Friday night, upon speaking on motions for adjournment, I am rather surprised that the First Minister should, notwithstanding that warning, have taken advantage of that same machinery, and in a manner so unexpected by the House, to make what all must acknowledge to be a communication of some importance, and to express sentiments which, coming from an individual of his great position, are no doubt calculated to arrest the attention of Parliament and the country. I cannot help thinking, Sir, that if the Minister had to make a communication to the House relative to changes which we may consider considerable in public departments, and in those departments especially connected with the conduct of the war, there would have been no surplusage of courtesy if some notice had been given to us that a communication of this kind was to be made. I think it would have been more appropriate, far more convenient to the House, and I think much more dignified in the noble Lord, if a communication of this kind had been made with due notice, and had not been introduced in the very strange manner in which this communication has been made. Sir, when I entered the House to-night, and took up the paper of business, I confess I was much surprised by a sort of portentous announcement to be introduced to our notice. Perhaps I might have been better prepared for what was to follow, if some gentleman of great experience, "the Father of the House," for example, and not one of its youngest Members, had given such a notice. We are told here that the condition of public affairs is not only critical, but highly critical—that an "increasing anxiety and dissatisfaction at present pervades all classes of society," and I find by the notice that there is a gifted individual anxious to "impress upon her Majesty's Government the wisdom of immediately anticipating those consequences which are certain to arise from continual popular demonstrations, by at once introducing such reforms in every branch of the state as are consonant with the intelligence of the age and the just demands of the people." Now, I should have thought a subject of that kind would certainly, after the general opinion of the House upon the inconvenience of desultory debates on Friday night, have been brought forward with a little more ceremony than it has been on the present occasion. Although at first perplexed to discover what was the real occasion of this enormous notice, in examining its language, there seems some clue as to the real author of this proposition. We had a discussion the other night as to whether the first edition of the Essay on Man was anonymous or not; and having the first edition of the essay in my possession, I had good authority for stating that it was anonymous; and it is a curious circumstance in connection with it that Mr. Pope, when he issued the first edition of that Essay, put in some false rhymes in order to draw off the scent from himself; because everybody would feel immediately, "This cannot be Pope, because Pope never would have made a bad rhyme;" and so I suppose the flagrant violation of grammar I find in this notice, when we are assured that "increasing anxiety and dissatisfaction at present pervades all classes of society," was introduced by the noble Lord to draw the scent off himself, so that everybody must see this "cannot be Pope," or that other name which begins with the same initial, but which it would not be Parliamentary to pronounce in this House. Well, what is the answer of the noble Lord to this interesting inquiry put by the hon. Member for Abingdon? Here we are told that we must have reform in every branch of the State, and certainly, considering "the highly critical position of public affairs, and the increasing anxiety and dissatisfaction which pervades all classes of society," I must think the noble Lord has offered to the House and the country to-night but a meagre and frigid programme. I think it would have been just as well if the noble Lord had informed the House what are the intentions of the Government with respect to the state of the country, which the notice so pointedly refers to. Why, what has the noble Lord done? The only information of importance which he has communicated to us to-night we had had notice was to have been communicated in another place. A strange way of carrying on public business! A notice has been given in another place, that great changes and reforms are to be made in the departments connected with the conduct of the war. Observe, the notice is given in another place; but the communication is not made. Here we have the communication, without any notice. And, Sir, what has the noble Lord announced to-night? I need not touch upon what the noble Lord thinks should induce us to have confidence in Her Majesty's Government—namely, the improved state of the army. It is gratifying intelligence, no doubt, and I hope events will prove that the noble Lord has some foundation for his confidence. I shall not touch upon the simple but necessary sanitary measures which the noble Lord says his colleagues have adopted for improving the condition of the army in the field and in hospital, and things of that kind—no doubt of the utmost importance—no doubt of urgent necessity—but not, I think, of sufficient importance to communicate in the manner in which the noble Lord has communicated them tonight, in order to induce the Parliament and people of England not to lose heart in the struggle we are now involved in. I come, then, to the more important announcement of the noble Lord—the only real announcement in fact—and what is that? It is that Government are about to introduce measures for the consolidation of the military departments. Now, Sir, there is nothing profoundly original in that plan, because the subject has long been before Parliament, and long been submitted to the scrutiny of our Committees. I approve of the general principles upon which such a change is contemplated; but of course, until we have the measures in detail before us, we can form no opinion of the prudence and adroitness by which these principles may be brought into practice. It was not merely, however, the mind of Parliament that has been long bent on this consolidation; but the labours of our Committees have been brought to bear upon it, and their recommendations must be familiar to us all. These were changes, then, which ought to have taken place, even supposing we were not involved in a great and, I am almost afraid, I must say, disastrous war, because this is a subject which has occupied the attention of previous Ministers, and which, we believed, was on the point of almost immediate solution. Why, it was only last year that we were called upon to deal with the office of the Minister at War. You told us, then, you were about to recommend Her Majesty to appoint a new Secretary of State to preside over the Department of War; and we pressed upon you the necessity, not only of appointing a Secretary of War, but of at once defining its duties, and of at once taking steps which would place under his immediate supervision and control all these departments. You, however, refused to follow our advice—you refused to adopt that course, and much of the disgrace, much of the disaster, much of the misery, which has since occurred, is to be attributed to your neglect in that respect. I shall not be told, of course, that the noble Lord is not responsible for the Government of Lord Aberdeen; that would be a shabby excuse, and I hope it will not be adopted. The noble Lord was highly connected with that Government, holding, as he did, one of the highest posts in the Cabinet. He was a Secretary of State, who exercises some control over the military affairs of the country, and it is mainly owing to the neglect of the noble Lord that the militia of this country is in the state we now unfortunately find it. I say, the noble Lord who comes forward now with this proposition for consolidating the military departments as the great panacea which is to cure all the evils of our administration, which is to extricate this country from increasing and abounding difficulties with which we have to contend, is proposing measures which, enlightened as they may be, are recommended by no novelty, and which he himself rejected last year, when they were pressed on the attention and the acceptance of the Cabinet. I reserve for the proper occasion the task of entering into the details of the plans of the Government—if they have plans—I will only say that to the changes which they may propose, if salutary, I shall give my support:—but, if on the other hand, I find they have taken up the matter crudely, hastily, that they are measures which are not well considered, or which are not adapted to meet the emergencies of the case, I shall, of course, oppose them. If they are neither bold in their conception nor well matured in their details, I shall not be afraid to oppose them, whatever may be the motives attributed to me for doing so. I have not risen to-night, to enter into any discussion on these subjects—they are not before us in sufficient detail to enable me to take anything but a very general review of them. I have only risen to express my surprise that the noble Lord should have taken this means of communicating the intentions of the Government upon a subject which is, no doubt, of great interest in the House of Commons, and my regret that the noble Lord, instead of candidly, manfully, and openly giving notice to the House, that upon a certain day he would express the views of the Government on the subject of the consolidation of the military offices, or on such other plans as they might deem necessary for the public good—that the noble Lord should have availed himself of means and an opportunity which may certainly be Parliamentary, but which his own colleagues had themselves, only a short week ago, regarded as embarrassing to the proceedings of the House.