§ On the Motion for going into Committee of Supply on the Army Estimates.
said, he could not avoid expressing his surprise that no explanation had been given of the very large Estimates which had been laid on the table. Great changes had recently been made in the War Department, and he was afraid that no person in the department could exactly state what were the duties of the new offices which had been created. The salaries had been enormously increased, and the duties of the department had been most inefficiently performed. There was great cause to complain of the unintelligible manner in which the Estimates were drawn up. Every thing was jumbled together in the greatest disorder, and he had great doubts whether the right hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance himself would be able to unravel the confusion. He should, however, reserve his remarks on the details of the Estimates for a future occasion, and confine himself at present to calling the attention of the House to the extravagance of the War 1251 Department. Last year the War Department cost the country £169,260, while the two departments of Secretary of War and Secretary at War, before they were consolidated, only cost £102,244, being an increase in the expense of about £67,000, though the work now was certainly not so well done. For instance, nothing could be more expensive and absurd than the present mode of clothing the British troops. Formerly the clothing of our soldiers was intrusted to a Board, composed of general officers, being colonels of regiments, who were allowed to make a profit on the contracts. But that system, though approved by the Committee of 1833, had been lately abolished in deference to the public voice, which had been loudly raised against it. Last year, the Ordnance directed the commanding officers of regiments to make bargains with the contractors at a price which the Ordnance fixed. Nothing could be more advantageous than that system. The commanding officers were by far the best judges of the quality of the clothing to be supplied to the men, and their interest was the same as the men's, to get the best cloth possible for the money. Of the system which the Government proposed to adopt he must express his condemnation; and he hoped that, if the House did not feel justified in going so far as to concur with him in that censure, it would at least refer the two systems to a Committee. The plan, as far as he could understand it, was to make the Government itself the clothier for the entire army. Now he considered that it was impossible that that plan should succeed; and he feared that great losses might be incurred in the attempt to carry it into operation. In the French army the materials were supplied by the Administration, and the clothes were made up by the soldiers. That system might work well in the case of a large army composed of conscripts, among whom there would probably be a good many tailors, but it could not be acted upon in our much smaller regiments without taking too many men from the fighting portion of the army. He even understood, that the Government intended to go further, and proposed to manufacture the cloth. To do so they must erect manufactories. Taking the strength of our army at 300,000 men, and allowing five yards of cloth per man, it would require 1,500,000 yards per annum to clothe the army. The erection of a manufactory which would turn out fifty 1252 pieces of thirty yards each per week would cost £30,000 or £40,000. The cost, therefore, of erecting manufactories which should make the cloth required for the whole army (for in his statement of the amount required he had not included great coats) would be about £3,000,000 or £4,000,000. What must they do then, how was the army to be clothed? It must be done by contracts, but not according to the system of taking the lowest contract. The proper plan was, to ascertain as nearly as possible what was the real value of the requirements of the army, and to give such a price as would hold out to a respectable tradesman the inducement of a fair profit. The security would then be in the respectability of the contractor, and it did not then matter by whom the contracts were made, although in his opinion the lieutenant-colonels were the proper persons to be charged with that responsibility. He could point out many cases in which evil had arisen from adopting the lowest tender. Not long ago tenders wore received for making trousers for the Land Transport Corps. Several respectable houses in the City tendered to make them at 23s. per pair; but the tender accepted was one from a party offering to make them for 18s. The cloth used in the sealed pattern was worth 8s. a yard. That employed in making the trousers sent in by the party who obtained the contract could be purchased for 5s. 10d. The trousers were made with more seams than there were in the pattern, and the work was very badly done; yet 1,200 pairs were accepted by the Board of Officers, and the Ordnance were now ashamed to issue them. If they were issued, some compensation must be given to the soldier at the expense of the country. He was informed that this contract, even at 18s. a pair, allowed a profit of 60 per cent to those who took it. On a previous occasion a, question had been asked as to the failure of the saddles and bits supplied to the German Legion. The fault in the case of these articles was not in the patterns, but in the- workmanship. He had had a, saddle of the same pattern made by Mr. Gibson, and nothing had happened to it. The bits were made of cast instead of forged iron, and to this cause, and not to their form, their fragility was to be attributed. The evils of the present system were to be attributed to the absurd and shortsighted policy of the Government in accepting the lowest 1253 tender without regard to the character or competency of the contractor. There should be a total change in the present arrangements regarding contracts, and an inquiry should be instituted by means of a Committee into the principles upon which it would be advisable to conduct such arrangements for the future. Nothing could be much worse than the present state of things with regard to the supplies required for the army. Whether regard were had to the provisioning of the army or to the supplying of gunpowder, or to the furnishing of any of the requirements of a great military establishment, he would not hesitate to say that our operations were carried on in a less satisfactory manner this year than last, when the old system of divided departments prevailed. He had been a Member of the Committee appointed to consider the general subject of firearms, and the particular question of the propriety of erecting a Government manufactory of arms. The Government wanted more money for the purposes of that manufactory than the Committee was willing to give, and the result had completely vindicated the judgment of the Committee. He remembered the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) prophesying at the time that not a single rifle would be made for two years in their manufactory, and the hon. Member was perfectly correct; for if he (Colonel Dunne) moved for a Return tomorrow, he did not believe the right hon. Gentleman could show that it had turned out a single rifle. What was more, he did not believe the whole of the machinery was yet erected, though he admitted much work had been executed there in another way, that was in setting up muskets. In the Estimates he observed the sum of £700,000 for firearms, an amount sufficient to supply 200,000 stand of arms. He should have thought, from the anticipations expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance last year, that ere this there were rifles for the whole of our force, large as it now was. But the militia had them very sparingly, and he was not sure that the several foreign legions in our service were better armed than they. At all events, he was satisfied that the anticipations of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government as to this manufacture had not been realised. He should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman also whether all the men in the Estimate were actually enlisted. The number was put down at 264,000; and he wanted to know 1254 if we had really all those men under arms. The Estimates represented that we had 20,000 men in the German legions, now he did not believe we had. So with the militia—had we all the men who were mentioned in the Estimates, or was it only intended to enlist them? He saw with regret the number of foreign legions in the service of the Crown, because they were the most expensive troops we could have, whilst they did less service than any other corps. He observed that £778,000 had been laid out upon the German, Swiss, and Italian legions, and he contended that up to that moment we had received no equivalent for that enormous sum of money from anyone or all of those corps, and that should the war end the whole of the money would have been thrown away. For the Turkish Contingent the sum of £475,000 was put down in the Estimates, and he wished to be informed if that was the whole sum that would be required for the force? But the most monstrous item in the Estimates was that for the Land Transport Corps. He found that rather more than £1,250,000 had been laid out on that service, of which not less than £400,000 was for animals; and yet the fact was notorious, that at the time it was most wanted there had been an almost total absence of the means of carrying provisions from the rear to the front of the army before Sobastopol. How far the officers of the staff might have been blamable, inquiry alone would tell; but certainly the main cause of the disasters suffered by the army in the Crimea was the inefficiency of the Land Transport Corps. The army had been sent out without adequate preparations being previously made for supplying it, and the abominable system of contracts, which in a country like Turkey was absurd as well as abominable, was had recourse to. The evils of the present system lay too deep for the mere condemnation or acquittal of individual staff officers to remedy them. Nothing would suffice that fell short of the proper organisation of our army departments at home as well as abroad. Before Lord Raglan went out he (Colonel Dunne) expressed to him his anxiety to go out with the army, but that noble Lord answered him, that if he wished to sec service it was no use for him to go, because there would be not a shot fired. Officers were, however, selected and sent out who were wholly without experience and without any knowledge of the country. The same applied equally with respect to the 1255 huts for the army in the Crimea. The timbers were sent in one direction—the nails and screws in another; and when they reached Balaklava they could not be got to the front, though it was a distance of only seven miles. So far as huts were concerned, however, he would direct attention to those which wore being erected a home; and he believed that the whole system of hutting at Aldershot and the Curragh had been conducted in the most extravagant manner possible, and even without the precaution having been first taken of draining the ground. No one who had visited the barracks in Ireland could have failed to see that the system was one entire blunder from beginning to end. Yet nobody was responsible for it. Now if the House were required to vote large sums of money, and if there was to be administrative reform, they ought, without respect to party, to take those matters into their consideration; and, supposing they could not decide themselves, to refer them to a Committee for the purpose of ascertaining whether the ideas entertained by him and other were right or wrong, whether the expenditure incurred was extravagant or not, ant whether appointments had not been made of men who were utterly unfit for the situations into which they had been thrust. It was his opinion that this last circumstance lay at the bottom of all the disasters we had experienced in the course of the war. We had changed the system of contract, and the result was an extravagant expenditure. We had changed the system of promotion by seniority, and the result was incompetency, with one or two exceptions. Selection had taken the place of seniority. Favouritism had governed the selection, and from one end of the army to the other there was nothing but discontent. These were all matters which demanded searching inquiry, and he therefore begged to move that the Estimates (or at least that portion of them which related to clothing) be referred to a Select Committee.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he could not help thinking that the greater part of his hon. and gallant Friend's speech had much better have been delivered in Committee, when the different Votes to which he had alluded would naturally come under consideration. Take, for example, his reference to small arms, which it was quite impossible for him (Mr. Monsell) to follow him in, without anticipating the statement he intended to make in moving a Vote on 1256 the Estimates. With regard to army clothing, he had never heard of anything that was founded more purely on imagination than the statement of his hon. and gallant Friend. The fact was, that the idea had never entered into his (Mr. Monsell's) mind of having a Government establishment for the supply of clothing to the army; and further, he did not believe it had crossed the brain of Sir Thomas Troubridgc, who was at the head of the clothing department, and who, he was satisfied, had too much good sense to have entertained an idea so absurd. But the criticism of his hon. and gallant Friend applied to what had been done under a system that was confessedly incomplete, and rather to parts of the old system which had not yet been altered, than to that which was new. He trusted his hon. and gallant Friend would not consider that he (Mr. Monsell) was treating his remarks with disrespect; but it was obvious that it would be better to discuss the various points alluded to as they arose on the Votes. He could not, however, allow his hon. and gallant Friend's statement as to the condition of the army in the Crimea, and the selection of officers at the head of that army, to pass without giving it an emphatic contradiction. He was aware of this as a fact within his own knowledge, that every one of the officers at the head of the army had been selected simply and solely, because the Government believed they were the most fitting persons to occupy the position to which they had been appointed, and he had never heard of any action of theirs which would lead him to suppose that the Government had in any way been deceived or disappointed in the selection they had made. He rejoiced to say, that the army in the Crimea was in as good and perfect a state as any army that wd ever gone out from this country to meet an enemy; that it was well clothed, well fed, and well looked after. The most constant attention was paid to the drill of he men, and to practising them in the use if small arms. Everything was done which was desirable and necessary to make the army efficient, and certainly one of the last remarks he should have expected to hear n that House was, that it was either improperly officered or improperly provided.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
said, he thought that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance in no way answered the complaints of the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Dunne), 1257 who had chiefly condemned the evils of the open tender system in relation to Government contracts. That system appeared now to be the rule of the service, any other form of contract being the exception He considered that the open tender system had been pushed to its utmost extent. The Clothing Department might be taken as a type of the system. The model or pattern of a coat was laid before the Clothing-Board, and contractors were invited to send in tenders; but the lowest tender sent in, no matter what might be the position of the man by whom it was made, or whether he was in the trade or not, was accepted. The party who had got the contract then sent in a sample, which was scaled up, and the coats contracted for were made according to that sample, and not according to the original model. The person whoso duty it was to judge of the sample was the deputy Director General of Clothing, who, although a most estimable man in private life, knew nothing, he apprehended, about cloth or clothing. The result was that respectable men would not tender, while others, being aware that the deputy Director General knew nothing about clothing, were ready to tender, and to send in inferior cloth, on the chance of being able to deceive him. Sometimes those deceptions were discovered, and fines and penalties were imposed; but those penalties would not find shoes or clothing for the soldiers, or forage or harness for the cavalry and artillery. Now, what sort of articles were sent out to the Crimea for the use of the troops? They had been described in a recent letter from The Times' correspondent. He was quite ready to admit that, in describing the rnanœuvres of an army, or the details of a battle, The Times' correspondent might be mistaken, or altogether wrong; but he could not conceive how he could make any mistake with respect to stores which came under his own observation, whether at Scutari, at Constantinople, or in London. On the 22nd of January last, The Times' correspondent said—The number of pairs of woollen stockings and socks in store is over 200,000. Of course I have not had the opportunity of counting them, but I give the above figures on excellent authority. Those that are being reshipped are only fit for children. They are German goods, and were purchased in all haste last winter by consuls and agents. When they came nobody could get them on, and, as they were extremely short socks, there was no leg into which the men might have thrust their feet. The same deficiency in size was found 1258 in many of the flannel or woven waistcoats sent for the army last winter, and obtained in a similar manner. They were so narrow that the men had to cut them open all down the breast, thus leaving exposed the very part of the body they were chiefly meant to protect. The children's socks are now being sent back to Constantinople, and will, doubtless, have to be sold for a, song, or given to the poor in England, which latter would be the best way of applying this precious Vienna-made hosiery.He understood that some hon. Gentleman below him (on the Treasury bench) denied the authenticity of this Report. [Mr. G. BERKELEY: No, no!] Well, whether that were so or not, he could also cite the Report of the Commissioners who had been sent out to the Crimea—Sir John M'Neill and Colonel Tulloch. They said—So long as the men had to pay for their boots and shoes, there was a disinclination to purchase them from the public store on account of their alleged inferiority in quality. Like all articles obtained by contract from the lowest bidder, the workmanship was bad, and totally unfit for endurance in the tenacious soil of the trenches, or for travelling along the muddy roads in which the men were often half-leg deep. It is stated that, even when sufficiently large, they were altogether unsuited to resist the wet, and that the soles frequently came off in a few days. It was not until the arrival of boots coming up to the knee, and of superior materials and workmanship," (not contract boots taken by the lowest tender)" that the condition of the soldier appears to have been materially improved in this respect, or that he was able to do his duty without the discomfort arising from being ill shod in such a soil. Similar complaints were made by the commanding officers regarding the quality and workmanship of the clothing. It is described as extremely spongy in its texture, badly put together, and quite unfit to stand the tear and wear of the tough work of the trenches. Some of the officers who had examined the clothing of the French soldiers stated that it was greatly superior in texture to that which was supplied to the British troops. The experience gained in the Crimea appears to establish the expediency of improving the quality and workmanship of every part of the soldier's clothing. But it would be vain to look for improvement, so long as it is procured from the man who offers it the cheapest, instead of from him who manufactures it of the best quality.He thought no one would entertain any doubt that a pair of shoes which cost 16s., and which would last for a month, were infinitely cheaper than a pair which cost 8s., and lasted only for a week; but he did not blame either the present Government, or any preceding Governments, for the mismanagement he had pointed out. He found fault with the system, which imposed no check upon fraudulent proceedings. Now, what check existed upon the contractors for boots and shoes? Why, they had an inspector, who was sometimes 1259 called upon to examine 30,000 or 40,000 pairs of boots or shoes which were required for immediate shipment, and how was it possible that such a duty could be satisfactorily discharged by a single individual? The consequence was, that the examination was not made by the inspector, but the duty was transferred to subordinates, who were open to all sorts of influence. He believed that many articles were passed in consequence of the exercise of such undue influence, and that many articles were rejected because that influence was not employed. He had known cases where articles which had been rejected were afterwards passed under another contract; and there could be no doubt that some of the officers—he would not say the inspectors—were ready to pass goods on the receipt of gratuities. He regretted that he was not present when Mr. Speaker called on him to move for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the subject, and to which he believed the Government would offer no objection, and he had rather availed himself of that opportunity to show the reasons why that Committee should be appointed.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he wished to remind hon. Gentlemen of the inconvenience of the course they were now pursuing. The Motion before the House was, that Mr. Speaker should leave the Chair, in order that the House might go into Committee on the Army Estimates; when his right hon. Friend who submitted those Estimates to the Committee would have the opportunity of fully explaining their details, and of speaking as often as might be necessary in order to meet and answer the various observations and objections which might be made by hon. Members in the course of the discussion. If, instead of allowing the House to go into Committee, hon. Gentlemen would enter into a detailed discussion which properly belonged to Committees, those who filled the position of his right hon. Friend were placed in a very inconvenient situation, for after having once replied to one hon. Member they had to be silent during the rest of the evening, and were thus totally unable to give that information in order to obtain which the House was asked to go into Committee. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Dunne) made a long speech, touching upon a great number of topics upon which it was quite fitting that information should be afforded him; but, if his right hon. 1260 Friend (Mr. Monsell) now gave answers to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, he would only anticipate the statement he was prepared to make if the House went into Committee. His hon. Friend who had just sat down had made a parenthetical speech that he had intended to make in moving for a Committee, which the Government had expressed their readiness to grant. He had received a communication from his hon. Friend to the effect that if his health compelled him to leave the House before the time came for his Motion, he would get some Friend to move it, on the understanding that it was not to be opposed. If it were inconvenient that Gentlemen should discuss the details of the Army Estimates on the Motion for going into Committee, how much more inconvenient was it for his hon. Friend (Mr. J. L. Ricardo) after his right hon. Friend the Clerk of the Ordnance had spoken, and could not, therefore, say another word, to make a speech which he had intended to make upon moving for a Committee upon army contracts. With regard to the subject of his hon. Friend's speech, he would confine himself to one observation. It was very remarkable and curious how opinions vibrated and oscillated in that House from time to time in entirely opposite directions. He had now been a long time in Parliament, and if there was one thing which he had more earnestly and frequently recommended to successive Governments than another, it was that all supplies should he obtained by open tender and contract. There was nothing more frequently urged by the late Mr. Hume, whom they all regretted, than that that was the only way of obtaining good and cheap things. His hon. Friend (Mr. J. L. Ricardo), however, appeared to be of a different opinion. But the instances quoted by his hon. Friend in which the supplies were not good in their kind, and were much too dear, occurred a year and a half ago, in the winter of 1854–55, and were all cases in which things had been obtained upon a sudden emergency, and not by contract. They were ordered from Vienna, in consequence of the calamity of a storm which destroyed the stores which had been sent out, and which it was urgently necessary to replace at any cost, anyhow. The clothing which his hon. Friend said was so bad was not provided under the present arrangement, but was, for aught he knew, furnished by the colonels, according to the system which then 1261 prevailed. At all events, those instances were not applicable as proofs that the present system, which began in June last, was a bad one. He had, perhaps, followed the example he had deprecated; but he put it to the House whether it would not be more convenient to go into Committee, and allow his right hon. Friend the Clerk of the Ordnance to give a full explanation upon all points with respect to which it might be demanded.
said, he thought the discussion had arisen in consequence of a misconception of the statement of the noble Lord in the early part of the evening. He understood the noble Lord to say he only intended to take a Vote on account, and not to go through the Estimates.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Pardon me. What I said was this. My hon, and gallant Friend (Sir De L. Evans) seemed to think that this was the last occasion upon which he would be able to call the attention of the House to the Estimates; and I told him we were going to take Votes on account, and it would be competent for every hon. Member to discuss the question to which these Votes related, but, as we should again be compelled to come to the House for Supplemental Votes, another opportunity would be given for the discussion of the Estimates.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, he thought that further proceedings on the subject wore likely to be more supplementary than complimentary to the Government. The Estimates proposed on this occasion were three times the ordinary bulk; they involved an expenditure equal to £35,000,000; they were, moreover, constructed on a now form; and yet the House was called on to discuss them without having had the time to read them—within thirty-six hours, in fact, of their being delivered to Members. That was sharp practice on the part of the Government, he had no hesitation in saying. It was no use to appeal to the House, for the leaders of the Opposition had abandoned their post; but he would appeal to the Treasury bench and to the country against such unseemly haste. He would say distinctly, that there was a totally new arrangement of the military expenditure of the country. From the cursory view he had had of the Estimates, he could not see how, in thirty-six hours any one could examine into the mode of expending some £35,000,000; he could not so soon understand the system which was now adopted; and he did not believe that 1262 any one could, except Members of the Government. He would say, again, that it was very sharp practice—to bring on the Estimates only thirty-six hours after they had been circulated among the Members—and was a course he was sure the country would not approve. It was no use to bring any question to a Vote; for if the noble Lord asked for £20,000,000 more, the House would give it, for there was no leading Member of the Opposition present. [Colonel DUNNE here came down from the back seats, and took his place in the front row.] He begged the hon. and gallant Gentleman's pardon. The answer given by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Monsell), which had been given to the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Dunne), was not at all satisfactory. Was that all the statement that was to be made on the part of the Government? What opportunity would there be for a discussion on the administration of the army during the war if the Government was now allowed to go into Committee? This was a most important occasion. It was doubtful whether the Estimates were for war or for peace; and they were brought in on a new plan, the Army and Ordnance Estimates being for the first time taken together, and they were to be brought forward by a right hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance, who up to a recent period knew nothing whatever about the Army or the Ordnance, and he was to dictate to the House on those subjects. He thought that when he appealed to the noble Lord to give two or three days for the consideration of those Estimates he ought to have answered otherwise than he did. He (Sir De L. Evans) considered that he ought to know something of those matters, and if he made any observations on the Estimates which were inefficient he must be excused, as he had not had time to make himself acquainted with them. If it was thought inconvenient for him to go into the general question of the administration of the army before the House went into Committee, he would not say a word, but he protested against these Estimates, important as they were—the most important that had been brought forward for forty years—being brought on for consideration only thirty-six hours after they had been delivered to Members.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that the Estimates were very voluminous, and had only been delivered recently, so that he had not had time to read them. He did did not object to passing Estimates required 1263 for carrying on the war, but there were many Votes unconnected with the war which the House ought to have time to consider. He was inclined to move the postponement of the Committee till Monday next.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had very justly observed that in former years great stress had been laid on the system of tender; and he (Mr. Muntz) admitted the system of tender afforded very good means of obtaining goods advantageously, but then the goods supplied ought to be strictly examined by persons competent for the duty.
said, he had seen the clothing of soldiers for the last twenty years, and all he could say was that it was not possible for anything to be worse than the clothing of the private soldiers at the present time. He could bear testimony to the goodness of the articles furnished to the regiment to which he belonged. Mr. Isaacs had been in the habit for a number of years of serving the regiment he had the honour to belong to with articles of necessity, not clothing, and had done so in the most satisfactory way. He understood that Mr. Isaacs had also supplied 40,000 suits of clothing during the last year, and that none of the suits had been returned by the persons to whom they were supplied. He thought it most unfair on the part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to assert that the officers holding command in the Crimea were totally incompetent. [Colonel DUNNE denied that he had said so.] Another remark of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was equally ill-founded, to the effect that Lord Raglan had chosen the staff entirely in the idea that they would not hear a shot fired. Lord Raglan could not have made that observation in respect to the staff, because he knew that they would rather be fired at than not.
said, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman had entirely misunderstood him. He said that there had been a system of selection instead of the system of seniority, and he certainly added that he did not think that there was so much incompetency in former years. He, however, observed that there were exceptions, such as his hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Sir De L. Evans) and others. He had never made the slightest accusation against Lord Raglan, but merely repeated what that noble Lord said, that he (Colonel Dunne), if he went to the Crimea with him, would not see a shot fired.
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
said, he wished to say a few words on the question of open contracts, which he thought a good system if it was coupled with an adequate system of inspection. He had peculiar opportunities of ascertaining that abuses existed in the present system. He had always held the opinion that the Government establishments could not compete with private establishments if they were well managed; and he had always heard with grief and annoyance observations made in that House tending to a preference for private establishments, when he believed that those of the Government were quite equal to what was required. Government supplies should be thrown open to contract, with a special provision for accurate inspection. He was most desirous to see some such system introduced into the public service. He did not agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Ricardo) that competition should be confined to respectable manufacturers, because the word "respectable" was open to misrepresentation. It was, however, the duty of the parties who held the patterns to see that every article was properly examined hymen of integrity. An officer had just been appointed to make contracts, but there was no officer to sec that they were fairly executed. The officers were anxious to do their duty, but not being practical men they were deceived and imposed on in the grossest manner. Last year some waggons were built to be sent out to the Land Transport Corps. They were very beautiful to look at, and were highly praised by every person who saw them; but when tried, they proved useless and inefficient and utterly failed. The Report on the state of the Army showed the lamentable results of the inefficient supply of boots and shoes; articles were sent out that would not wear a week. Whoso fault was it? It was the fault of the inspector, whose duty it was to examine them. If the contractors knew there was an honest and efficient person to examine the supplies, there would be no more tenders at insufficient prices. He would not dwell further on those points, but wait until the details came before them in the Estimates.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, they were proceeding in a most inconvenient course, as they were wholly departing from the question, which was, whether the House was in a fit state to go into the details of the important Votes to be brought before them. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) said 1265 Government only proposed to take a Vote on account, and that the House might at a future time discuss the expediency or amount of it. But he considered, if the House agreed to a preliminary Vote, the House would be precluded hereafter from questioning the Vote either on principle or detail. It would be much more satisfactory to adjourn the consideration of the subject until they could come to it with more satisfaction. He quite agreed with the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Sir De L. Evans) that these were peculiar Estimates, and that it was sharp practice to vote them at so short a notice.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he could not understand why the hon. Member could object to a Vote upon account, or think himself precluded thereby from future discussion.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, that he had said no such thing, He would point out the first Vote on the paper, which involved a pledge which could not be revoked.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that if the hon. Gentleman had given the subject a moment's consideration he would see the incorrectness of his opinion, that, by giving a Vote on account they were precluded from afterwards going into the details. He would only remind the House of what had taken place with regard to the Navy Estimates. He had asked the House to vote 76,000 men for three months, and, of course, he must come for another vote for whatever number would be required for the remaining nine months; instead of £3,500,000 he had only taken £2,000,000 on account, and the whole details of the Navy Estimates would have to come again before the House when he asked for the Supplemental Vote. Nothing could be more inconvenient than what had taken place for the last two hours. Hon. Gentlemen got up and made objection to details, and complained that the Estimates were obscure, not reflecting that by preventing the right hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance from making his statement they were depriving themselves of the explanation they desired. He hoped that as two or three hours had been already wasted no further interruption would be offered to the public business.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee, Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he proposed, in the first instance, to submit to the House four Votes on account of expenditure incurred 1266 in the Ordnance Department, which had not already been voted by Parliament. The first item was £294,154. Of this sum £65,373 was for barrack supplies. This had been expended partly on supplies for hospitals—among them were some cork beds, which had been found exceedingly useful. £91,077 was for boots and shoes, the demand for which had been greatly increased, beyond the regular quantities, by our having to provide them for the Turkish Contingent as well as for the rest of our army. The sum of £137,704 was for warm clothing, an addition to £120,000 already voted. This had been needed in order to supply all the demands made by the Quartermaster General in the Crimea. Most of the other items were for expenditure rendered necessary by the preparations for the great mortar equipment which was being sent to Sebastopol just at the time of its fall; and by those which had been made for fitting out the Baltic fleet at the present time. When he informed the Committee that the expenses of the portion of that equipment to be supplied by the War Department amounted to about £530,000, they would see that the Supplemental Estimate of £23,000 for wages for the carriage department, £11,000 for the Royal laboratory, £5,000 for the gun factories, £4,000 for the storekeeper's department, and also £200,000 for miscellaneous stores for the manufacturing department, were at once accounted for. There was, however, one item of those Supplemental Estimates to which, as it had been referred to in the course of the discussion which took place before Mr. Speaker left the Chair, he would direct the attention of the House. That was a sum of £15,000 for wages at the Tower. It was quite true that during a considerable part of last year the arrangements for the inspection of articles received at the Tower were most unsatisfactory. All the passages were crowded up with goods of various descriptions. To remedy this great inconvenience, the Government took a considerable amount of accommodation at the London Docks, and absolutely prohibited the reception of additional articles at the Tower; all the hands at that establishment being thenceforward employed in the arrangement of the articles already received. The result was, that at present the storehouses at the Tower were in a very satisfactory state. Within a short period the whole system of inspection there had been altered. Some persons 1267 had been, and others were to be, selected, who had special knowledge of the articles which they were to inspect. He therefore hoped that all causes of complaint would be removed, and that in future the system would give entire satisfaction to the public. While it was right to insist on fining contractors who did not deliver goods in proper time, it was impossible for that to be done, so long as obstacles were placed in their way by delays in the inspection of goods delivered. The next item referred to the expenses for the Land Transport Service. The sum required was £40,144. The greater part of that sum, about £37,000, was for carts for the Crimea, for which there had been a great demand. Hon. Gentlemen had complained that these carts and wag-gons had not turned out so well as they ought to have done. The fact was, that orders were given that the carts should be made not to exceed a certain weight, and he had been informed by the able officer who presided over the Carriage Department that they had been as strong as it was possible to make them in accordance with those instructions. Some of the axles which had been complained of had been sent from the Crimea to Woolwich, where they had been tested up to four times the weight that they were intended to carry, and had answered perfectly. The reason of the failure was obvious, those carts were, on account of their exceeding lightness, not adapted to the rugged paths over which they had to pass in the Crimea, and he thought that, in future, it would be necessary to sacrifice lightness to an increase of strength. The item of £26,000 for machinery for the Royal laboratory was one of considerable importance. Last year he (Mr. Monsell) stated that a small shell foundry was about to be established, and he anticipated that the public service would be greatly promoted by the increased facility of obtaining shells, and that there would be a great saving in their cost compared with the price paid to contractors. Those anticipations, he was glad to inform the Committee, had been completely realized. Shells, for which the price paid to con tractors was £11 15s. per ton, had been produced at the Royal Arsenal under the direction of Captain Boxer, the inventor of the machinery, at a cost of only £6 6s. 8d. per ton, including a fair charge for the deterioration of plant and for the interest of the money spent on the 1268 erection of the building. These facts were brought before him in an able paper by Captain Boxer, who recommended that a foundry should be erected which would produce shells as fast as they could be bushed and their fuses supplied by the Royal laboratory. That paper was submitted to his noble Friend at the head of the Government and to his noble Friend the Secretary for War. It had been carefully considered by them, and it had been resolved by the Government that the foundry should at once be erected. The £26,000 now asked for was a portion of the sum of £55,000 which the foundry would cost. That sum was in course of being expended, and would be spent by the 31st of March. He hoped that the saving in the cost of shells would to a considerable extent reimburse the country for the expenditure; and, he was certain, that there could be few things more important than to have the means of producing at a moment's notice a large quantity of a species of ammunition which every day's experience showed to be of such great importance in modern warfare. He therefore was convinced that the Government had acted rightly in commencing the erection of the enlarged foundry.
The next item was £1,268 for the payment of the Select Committee at Woolwich—a sum which, regard being had to the fact that no fewer than 1,200 inventions had been brought under their consideration in the course of the past year, would scarcely, he thought, be deemed exorbitant. Then came a Vote of £1,100 for the Board appointed to examine candidates for admission into the Artillery and the corps of Engineers. That expenditure had been rendered necessary by the substitution at the Royal Academy of Woolwich of a system of open competition, for the plan of patronage heretofore prevalent. The latter practice had been completely abolished, and any person of the proper age and properly recommended could now offer himself as a candidate for a cadetship in the Royal Artillery or the Royal Engineers. The examinations were conducted under the superintendence of Professor Mosely and a staff of examiners, who had displayed much learning, skill, and ingenuity in the difficult task of constructing a new system. The result had proved most satisfactory; they had received the best possible accounts from Colonel Portlock and the other authorities at Woolwich, of the conduct of these young men, and their proficiency in 1269 the different branches to which they had since applied themselves. They had also shown remarkable skill in those other preparations for military service which some gentlemen thought young men chosen in that way would not be well adapted for; experience showed that they possessed not only intelligence, but military bearing. He would now pass from the Supplemental Estimates.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he hoped that the Government intended to maintain, on a satisfactory footing, the establishment at Shoeburyness.
§ MR. MONSELL
Assuredly. That establishment was one of very great importance, and, in fact, the only place at the disposal of the Government for making experiments with heavy ordnance. The experiments made there during the present year had been attended with the most interesting results—results, however, which as yet had less relation to the introduction of new inventions than to the detection of certain fallacies which had taken possession of the public mind with respect to particular kinds of guns and projectiles, As a place of practice range the establishment was of the utmost utility, and the Government intended to keep it in the best possible condition.
He would now enter upon the Army Estimates for the present year, he did not think that they would be difficult of comprehension to any man having a practical knowledge of such matters. Many of the Votes wore not at all changed, and the mode in which others were blended together was clearly explained in a table in which the different services of Ordnance, Commissariat, and Army were lucidly arranged. In submitting the Estimates in the form in which they were now presented, the Government had but carried out the suggestions of the Committee of 1837, who recommended that the Votes for all branches of the service should be placed before the House of Commons at the same time, so that the House might see at a glance the military expenditure for the year. This could now be done; but it was not practicable until the whole of the civil departments of the army had been placed under one head. At the same time that those departments were placed under the absolute and undivided control of a Secretary of State there were removed from the War Department certain duties not properly belonging to it. Formerly the Commissariat had under its charge not only the duty 1270 of providing food for the army, but also that of "raising, upholding, and outlaying" certain funds required for the military and other services. Those duties were now thrown upon the Treasury, to which, as the financial department of the country, they properly belonged, and the principal duty of the Commissariat now was to provide food for the army. The present Estimates, though largo as compared with those to which we were accustomed in time of peace, were light as contrasted with those of the last three years of the last war. In 1813 the expenditure for Army, Ordnance, and Commissariat, was £36,245,238; in 1814 it was £49,482,911; in 1815, £49,562,269—an expenditure considerably in excess of the Votes now submitted. The first Vote he had to propose was for 246,716 men, which showed an increase of 30,378 men over last year. Before proceeding to explain it, however, he would take leave to say a few words on the present condition of the army serving in the Crimea. Of their heroic fortitude, gallant service, or bravery, it was unnecessary to speak, but he might be allowed to express, in passing, with what pleasure he had learnt that it was intended to give to the new Order of Valour a retrospective operation, so that all who during the last campaign had fulfilled the prescribed conditions would be eligible to be enrolled among its members. And first he would beg to call the attention of the Commitee to the state of the health of the army. A return of the admissions into hospital during the months of September, October, and November, in the Crimea and at home, showed that—During the month of September, 1855, the admissions into hospital from the army in the Crimea amounted to 12.59 per cent of the force, whereas the army serving at home furnished only 10.40 per cent, a difference of 2.19 per cent. The deaths during the same month amounted to 0.36 per cent and 0.10 per cent respectively of the force serving in the Crimea and at home, a higher rate of mortality by 0.26 per cent in the former than in the latter. During October the admissions to hospital amounted to 10.07 per cent and 9.66 per cent of the force serving in the Crimea and at home respectively, a difference of 0.31. The deaths in the army serving in the Crimea and that at home amounted respectively to 0.33 per cent, and 0.08 per cent, a higher rate of mortality of the former than of the latter by 0.25 per cent. During November the hospital admissions of the army in the Crimea amounted to 10.23 per cent of the force, and 8.95 per cent of that serving in Great Britain and Ireland, a difference of 1.28 per cent. The deaths amounted to 0.51 per cent and 3.07 per cent respectively of the troops serving in the Crimea and at home, a 1271 difference of 0.44. The high rate of mortality of the army in the Crimea during this month is to be attributed to the prevalence of cholera at Scutari.—Army and Ordnance Medical Department, Jan. 24.When it was recollected that the army in the Crimea consisted of men, a large part of whom had undergone considerable labours and privations, it could not but he satisfactory to the Committee to learn that the general health of that army was almost equal to that of the troops in this country, and even superior to that of the troops on foreign stations for a period of twenty years anterior to the year 1836. Great care and attention had been paid to the food and the clothing of that army; but it should not be forgotten that a debt of gratitude was due to Dr. Sutherland, Dr. Gavin, and Mr. Rawlinson, who went out to the Crimea as Commissioners last spring, and, by the admirable sanitary arrangements they devised for the camps, helped materially to ward off sickness and disease from the troops. A general impression prevailed that a great proportion of the recruits sent to the East were mere boys below the age of eighteen. That opinion, however, was certainly not borne out by facts, as a return which he held in his hand would show—
|"AGES OF THE ARMY.|
|When the War began.||Now in the Crimea.|
|Under 18 years||576||499|
|From 18 to 30||11,922||13,201|
|From 30 to 40||3,455||2,437|
§ "Ages of 10,268 men sent to the Crimea between April and October, 1855:—
|"AGES BY YEARS.|
|Under 18 years||162|
|From 18 to 21||5,318|
|From 21 to 24||2,822|
|From 24 to 30||2,244|
§ Another return, giving the actual ages of the soldiers now in the Crimea, and the ages of the army when the war began, contained evidence to the same effect. The next point to which he would refer related to crime. No doubt, immediately after the fall of Sebastopol a considerable amount of drunkenness, perhaps not altogether unnaturally, prevailed; but recent reports received from General Codrington showed that that vice had now greatly abated; and the last accounts stated that only about one man out of a company of 100 1272 men was brought up every second day for insobriety. The report as to admirable order and discipline of the corps of 14,000 men in the Bosphorus under General Storks, and also as to the excellent condition of the foreign legion at Kululee, were highly satisfactory. Perhaps the Committee would not deem it irrelevant in him to point out the changes that had been made during the past year to promote the comfort and well being of the soldier. In the first place, the bounty money received by him on enlistment, though fixed at a proportionably lower rate, was now paid without any deductions. Under the old system every recruit used to commence his military career with an unpleasant feeling that, in regard to the money taken from him for his "kit," the public had what was called "done him." That cause of scandal had now, however, been removed. The same was also the case with respect to the sum annually abstracted from the pocket of the soldier in the shape of canteen rent. Formerly the canteen keepers were required to pay a certain sum over and above the fair rent of the house they hired, and calculated at so much extra per 100 men. That sum, he need not say, the canteen keepers knew how to reimburse themselves, with good interest, out of the poor soldier's pocket. Canteens would be henceforward let simply at the rent which they were worth as shops, and thereby a pecuniary boon of £20,000 per annum would be accorded to the army.
§ An avenue to advancement had also been opened to retired non-commissioned officers of the Artillery, and of the Sappers and Miners, who, by a general order, had been made eligible for appointment under certain conditions, for a considerable number of Government clerkships at Woolwich. He hoped to see the same system extended in regard to other clerkships, to the rest of the army in the course of the year. Such a measure, by holding out to the deserving soldier something to which he might aspire after he quitted the service, would doubtless operate as an excellent incentive to good conduct in the army. In the next place, the Government might take credit for the extra sixpence per day which they bad allowed to the troops in the Crimea. To those who thought that liberality but a doubtful advantage, he might mention that Returns showed that since it had been granted increased sums had been sent home by the soldiers in the East, both for the 1273 use of their friends in this country, and to be deposited here in the savings banks in their own names. Moreover, those soldiers who used to linger about the hospitals at the Bosphorus now manifested an eagerness to go to the Crimea to secure the extra pay; and for the same reason, the position of an officer's servant at Constantinople, which used to be much coveted by the troops, was no longer popular. The pay and the status of medical men in the army were also about to be raised; but the warrant on that subject not having yet been issued, he would reserve his observations upon it till the measure had been finally completed. Another important advantage had been conferred on the soldier by the establishment of a Medical Staff Corps—a step which had been followed by the best possible results. That corps was composed of ten companies of 120 men each. A few members of that body might not have been very well chosen at first; but latterly the selections had been made with the greatest care. One company of these men, besides a reserve, were attached to a hospital, having charge of 500 patients. They also acted as servants for the surgeons; and the great improvements effected in our hospitals in the East had been materially promoted to the admirable organisation of this valuable corps. He wished also to say a word with reference to the civil hospital established at Renkioi, when great sickness and mortality existed among our troops. It was, in the first instance, intended that 3,000 beds should be made up in that hospital, hut at present 1,000 beds were provided, and the number of inmates as patients was 250. It appeared from the monthly Reports, which had been forwarded to the Government, that the hospital buildings were found perfectly suitable for the purpose to which they were applied, that there was an abundant supply of water, that animal and vegetable food was abundant, and that during a period of seven months not a single casualty from death or invaliding had occurred throughout the whole of the hospital staff.
§ He would now proceed to direct the attention of the Committee to the separate Votes. The number of men of all classes proposed to be voted for this year was 246,716, being an excess of 30,378 men over the vote of last year. Of that number 224,997 were British troops, and 21,719 comprised the foreign corps. The number of British troops employed in India last year was 29,629; this year it would 1274 be 26,363, the decrease having been, occasioned by the withdrawal of two regiments of cavalry and two of infantry. The increase in the number of troops was occasioned, in the first instance, by two cavalry regiments, numbering 1,460 men, having been brought from India, and to the augmented establishments of nine other cavalry regiments to the extent of 2,924 men. The artillery force would also be augmented by additions to the horse artillery, and by the addition of 4,000 men to the infantry artillery. He thought that addition to the artillery was of great importance, and he wished to explain to the Committee that, in order to provide to some extent for this augmentation, 2,000 men had been deducted from the non-effective men of the line for the purpose of adding that number to the artillery. The Secretary of State for War had taken that course because he considered it of the greatest importance to mark his opinion, that the relative numbers of the artillery, as compared with the other descriptions of troops in our army, should be increased. The experience of the last year had shown the importance of increasing the strength of that branch of the army, for it was known that, especially when the bombardment of Sehastopol on a more extensive scale was contemplated, great difficulty was found in obtaining a sufficient number of artillerymen, and men in that department of the service could not be rendered efficient so speedily as other descriptions of troops. The next increase to which he had to call the attention of the Committee was also of great importance—1,192 men were to be added to the Sappers and Miners, and a warrant was to be issued very soon which would constitute that corps part of the Engineer corps. Hon. Gentlemen were aware that, in addition to the difficulty which was, in the first instance, experienced by our army in the Crimea from the want of a Land Transport Corps, great inconvenience also arose from the want of a sufficient number of military workmen. It was, consequently, found necessary to form a civil corps, which was called the Army Works Corps. It was now the intention of Her Majesty's Government to increase considerably the number of military workmen, or Sappers and Miners, and to give great prominence to that branch of the service. The men, were to be stationed at Chatham—the headquarters of the force—in sufficient numbers to enable them to receive a proper training, and bodies of them would also be employed 1275 in. the camps at Aldershot and the Curragh. The next increase arose in consequence of the augmentation of two infantry regiments from India, from the number of 1,200 men each, to the Crimean strength of 2,000; and also from sundry small additions to regiments. The Medical Staff Corps, numbering 1,202 men, consisting of cooks and stewards, were employed most efficiently in the various hospitals. Last year only 14,950 men were voted for the British Foreign Corps, but this year the number was 21,719 men. There were at present about 11,000 men enlisted in the German and Swiss Legions, and about 2,500 in the Italian Legion, and he might state that he had received the most satisfactory accounts with regard to the class of men who were being enlisted in Italy, and the creditable manner in which they conducted themselves. The Government were also informed that the German Legion, whether at home or on the Bosphorus, had behaved most satisfactorily, and the utmost confidence was reposed in them by their officers, who did not doubt that they would fully support the reputation earned by the old German Legion during the late war.
§ The next item of increase was 9,020 men for the Land Transport Corps. There were about 7,000 Europeans attached to that corps already in the Crimea, and steps had lately been taken by General Codrington, in connection with Lord Hardinge, to organise the corps upon a different footing, giving it a more military character, and placing it under the management and control of the generals of division. It would be very unjust if he were not to take that opportunity of acknowledging the very important services which had, under great difficulties, been rendered by that corps, under the direction of Colonel M'Murdo, to the army in the Crimea during the last year. Colonel M'Murdo had to organise entirely a new corps; he had the greatest difficulty in obtaining proper drivers and men who would be amenable to discipline; but he persevered in his exertions, and he (Mr. Monsell) believed not a day elapsed on which shot, shell, powder, and all ammunition necessary for carrying on the siege were not conveyed to the front. The next Vote was for the increase in the amount of staff pay over that for last year. The charge for the camp at Alder-shot was £2,909; that for the camp at the Curragh was £2,286. The increase for 1276 the medical staff was chiefly occasioned by the camps which had been established, and by the preparations for sending out a large force if it should be necessary to do so. There had also been an increase in the Ionian Islands, in Malta, Heligoland, and I other places, but the principal increase had taken place in the army in the field. In the general staff there had been an increase of £16,123; in the Commissariat, £17,244; in the medical staff, £16,977; servants' allowances to staff officers, under a regulation introduced for the first time this year, £57,000; and staff attached to foreign troops, £20,721. That increase was accounted for by the extended nature of our operations in the field. The next item was the levying money of recruits, in which there was a decrease of £121,180. But that decrease was only apparent, as it arose from the new rule with regard to bounty, and the amount apparently deducted would be found in another Vote. The next item was £443,028 for the Land Transport Corps, and it was accounted for by the fact that the European part of the corps had been quadrupled since last year, and now consisted of 9,000 men. The number of horses belonging to the corps was 24,000. There were upwards of 14,000 natives attached to the corps, but it was intended to reduce their number and to use them chiefly at the depôts in reserve. Colonel M'Murdo, whose opinion, from his ability and experience, was of great weight, had told him that, although it was necessary that the body of the corps should consist of trained European soldiers, it would he impossible for it to conduct its operations without the assistance of natives. The next item was £300,000 for the Turkish Contingent. No detail was given as to this item, because no accurate information could be obtained with regard to it, and they had, therefore, put down the best approximation to the possible cost at which they had been able to arrive. The number of men was 29,000, and the pay of the Turkish rank and file was about £4 per annum. The next item was an increase of £81,204 for field allowances, and £639,000 for the charge of the additional 6d. a day in the Crimea, to which he had already adverted. The next item was for the purchase of horses, £351,811. There were 16,000 animals for the Land Transport Corps at £25 each, and 2,000 for the Turkish Contingent at £40 each, but a deduction must be made for the decrease which had 1277 taken place in the cavalry and the line. Having now accounted for the excesses of the Estimate for the present year over that for last year he would proceed to the militia. They required for the militia last year the sum of £3,435,728, and the amount now asked for was £3,150,129. The strength of the militia last year was 38,520; its present strength was 66,317. For the forty-nine disembodied regiments of English militia in January, 1855, the number of soldiers called out was 22,845. The number of volunteers of the seventeen regiments who still remained disembodied in January, 1856, was 3,286. The Irish and Scotch regiments had not been trained until they were embodied. There were only twenty militiamen now billeted in Ireland, about 7,000 in England, and about 2,500 in Scotland. Barrack accommodation to the extent of 45,000 men and 3,000 horses had been erected during the last year. In a month or two he hoped there would be accommodation for 5,000 or 6,000 men more. Ten militia regiments had been sent on foreign service, and fifteen English regiments had been sent to Ireland, and twelve sent from Ireland to England. The number of volunteers who had gone over to the line between the 20th of November, 1854, and the 31st of December, 1855, was 22,014, and since December, 1855, to the present time, 4,830. With respect to the volunteer corps he would make no remark at all, as they caused no expense in the Estimates over the amount charged last year.
§ The next item to which he would refer was that for the Army Works Corps. He had already adverted to the necessity which existed for establishing this corps on account of the absence of a, sufficient number of military workmen. An hon. Friend of his in that House had been good enough to transmit to him an account of the valuable services which the corps had performed for the army during the last year. There could be no doubt that without the existence of that corps the greatest possible difficulty would have been felt in respect to making the roads and the railway, and getting up the huts. The conduct of the men generally had been exceedingly good, and great credit was due to the gentleman who had managed it for the manner in which he had conducted its affairs. Though he wished as much as any person could that a portion of the Army Works Corps should be supplied by trained military workmen, still he did not think 1278 that that consideration should make any one indisposed to recognise the services which, in a state of transition, the Army Works Corps had performed. He would not now say a word with respect to the floating factory. That, to use an expression contained in a letter from the Crimea, was a successful attempt to remove the laboratory and manufacturing departments of Woolwich to the Crimea. The floating factory contained a variety of machinery of all kinds necessary for such work as was carried on in the laboratory and carriage department of Woolwich, and until the arrival out of the floating factory that kind of work could not be done without sending to a great distance and incurring an enormous expense. The floating factory had been of enormous utility to the army, and nothing was more often mentioned with approbation by persons writing home. The next vote was for the salaries and contingencies of the War Department. There was a decrease of £36,291, which was occasioned by the postage being carried over to the credit of another department. There was, on the other hand, an increase in some of the items, amounting to £24,285, such as the charge for quarterly clerks, who were engaged during the pressure of war, where the increase was £11,390, and the expense for a topographical department, for which the estimate was £5,000. That was merely an approximate estimate, for the department was only in the process of formation. The department, when organised, would no doubt confer great benefit on the country, and it certainly would be disgraceful for this nation to be without an establishment which existed in every other country. There was an increase also in the item for the professional staff of the Inspector General of Fortifications. That was rendered necessary by the enormous amount of duty which had devolved on the Barrack Department. Another item of increase, amouning to £875, was for junior clerks, selected to take charge of the different branches of the service, and who had to do the work of senior clerks. Fifteen clerks of the Ordnance Department had likewise been transferred to the Department of the Secretary for War at the time the superintendence of the artillery and engineers was transferred to the Secretary for War; and their salaries now; included in this Estimate had been by accident omitted last year. The next Vote (No. 7) was for head quarters, Military Department. This Vote last year 1279 amounted to £19,694, and in the present year to £22,791, being an increase of £3,097, partly occasioned by the employment of an additional number of temporary clerks.
§ The next Vote was for the civil establishments. The amount this year was £514,141, and last year £402,335, being an excess of £111,806 for the establishment at home and abroad, the increase for the latter being £43,822. The increase in the establishments at the seat of war had occurred chiefly in the Ordnance establishments at Balaklava and Scutari, and in the Commissariat establishments at the same places. The Government and the country would derive, and had derived, great advantage from the services in the War Department of a chemist, who examined the supplies sent in by contractors. The effect of this would be to improve the materials supplied by contractors. He could not let the present opportunity pass without alluding to the valuable services of the present head storekeeper at Balaklava. The stores under his charge were organised in the most admirable manner. The Committee would remember that at one time great complaints were made of the confusion in which the stores there were, but at present the things were all classified and arranged, and the highest encomiums bad been passed on the storekeeper by the Commander in Chief and every other officer who had been brought in contact with him. In our colonial establishments, he was happy to say there was a decrease to the amount of £7,405. The next Vote was for wages, and in that there was an increase of £175,000, chiefly incurred in our establishments at Balaklava, Scutari, and Malta. There was also an increase in the Woolwich, Waltham Abbey, and Enfield establishments. He was sorry to say that the progress of the small-arms manufactory at Enfield had not been so rapid as he had expected. [Colonel Hear, hear !] That cheer certainly came very inopportunely from the hon, and gallant Gentleman, whose opposition to the establishment of the factory proceeded from an idea which he entertained that contractors always kept their word, whereas the delay which had taken place at Enfield was, to some extent, caused by the want of punctuality on the part of the contractors. The great obstacle to the completion of the establishment was the non-arrival of some machinery from America, but when that machinery did arrive and 1280 was set to work he had no doubt that the manufactory would do all that had been anticipated from it. There was also an increase of wages at Portsmouth and one or two other places, incurred on account of the embarkation of troops. In the eighth Vote, for the supplies for the service of the troops, there was an excess of £431,000. That increase was made up of items for clothing and supplies to additional men in the different branches of the service, and of sums due to clothiers and agents. The charges for the Land Transport and Medical Staff Corps did not appear in the Estimates of last year. The increase of £12,595 in the expense of the enrolled pensioners had arisen from the supply of new clothing to that force. In the item for warm clothing there was a reduction of £130,000, which arose from the fact that much of the clothing which had been provided last year was not worn out, and it would therefore be unnecessary to replace it. It had been the practice to provide for a variety of articles under one general head of accoutrements; but he was of opinion that the more satisfactory way to put those matters before a Committee of the House was to provide for them under detailed items; and that would be done in future. Several attacks had been made on the new clothing department—attacks founded chiefly, he thought, on abstract reasoning, but promoted by certain statements with regard to the mode in which things had been managed during the last twelve months. He, however, begged to remind the Committee that this clothing department had not been formed until the 6th of June last; and it was utterly impossible that such a department could get into full play and working order all at once. Therefore, whether for good or evil, the new department could not be in any way responsible as yet. Whether the clothes lately issued were well or ill done, he did not think anything in connection with them could be attributed to that department. Cearly the desideratum was, to obtain good cloth; for as to making up the material there could be no difficulty, whether they lad the clothes made by contractors, or whether the regiments were made responsible for making up their own clothing. No clothing had yet been received, inspected, and issued by the Clothing Department. Under these circumstances, the Committee night, perhaps, consider that the working the department a fit matter of speculation 1281 or prophecy; but it was idle to apply to it the test of experience.
§ LORD LOVAINE
said, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether some clothing had not been already issued by the department?
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that no doubt clothing had beenissued—clothing had been sent down from the Tower to Weedon; but it had been inspected under the old system. What he meant to say was, that there was as yet no experience of clothing which had been ordered by the department, received by the department, inspected by the department, and issued by the department.
The next portion of the Vote—for provisions, forage, fuel, light, and money allowances at various stations—was, he must confess, a very large one. The increase in the cost of provisions for the men was£347,871, which was caused by the increase of the estimated number of men at the seat of war to 100,000; the total expense, adding 25 per cent for unforeseen expense and losses, was £2,268,003. This estimate was founded on the present average cost of each ration, which was about 1s. 2d. per day. The item for forage for 60,000 horses amounted to £4,861,928. This sum would provide forage for 60,000 horses, at the rate per horse of 3s. 3d. per day, and an addition of 25 per cent was taken for contingencies. Last year the expense of forage was only £1,418,300; the increase this year was therefore £3,443,628. The increase of expenditure for fuel and light at the seat of war amounted to £78,000. On the Vote for the Ordnance stores for the land and sea service there was a decrease this year of £175,000; but a very large sum would be demanded in the first instance for the supply and repair of smallarms. The contracts at Liege were going on admirably, and the guns procured from that place were fully equal to any obtained elsewhere. £13,378 was required for the smallarms' factory at Enfield, where it had been found necessary to erect additional barrel machinery. In the item of gunpowder there was an increase of £90,000, attributable to the fact that a much larger quantity (56,000 barrels) had been contracted for this year than last. The present Vote for the Royal laboratory was in excess of last year's by £246,518, which represented among other things, 50,000 tons of sheet iron, to be used for making shells, &c. The next item showed an excess of £56,224 for waggons, carts, harness, &c., for the Land Transport Corps. 1282 The proposal to establish a gun foundry at Woolwich for the manufacture of iron ordnance would necessarily involve considerable expenditure, but the object was well worth the cost. Heretofore the Government used to manufacture their own brass ordnance and to depend on contractors for the iron; but this course was no longer expedient. Last year when there was a great pressure upon the Board for procuring 13-inch mortars, 68-pounders, and other guns that were deemed essential, at the moment the Government went to all the best contractors in the country, and gave their orders to them without undue consideration of an economical nature, and the result was that they had satisfied themselves—and he spoke the opinions of gentlemen who were far better able to judge than himself—that it was not safe to trust the manufacture of those articles to the trade. It happened that we stood higher than any other nation in the world for our ordinary iron, but there was a very small demand for the iron required for these guns. It was a special article required for a special service, and he was ashamed to say, but he had a deep conviction of its truth, that our iron ordnance was inferior to the iron ordnance of many other countries. The Secretary for War had sent a Commission of most able men to Berlin, Liege, and Rouen, the result of whose labours was a most interesting Report, which he proposed to lay on the table of the House, and which, he thought, would substantiate in the fullest manner the statement he had just made. The Committee would not, he was sure, hesitate to take any steps necessary to improve the production of an engine of war which it was absolutely essential to have of the highest possible quality, he was satisfied it would not refuse to authorise an expenditure of some £60,000 or £70,000 for the erection of a gun foundry such as he had described. In one year of war the whole amount would be saved. The Vote for works and buildings was necessarily a large one—£2,044,069; but of this sum £1,072,164 was required for works of fortification already set on foot in Kent, Sussex, Devonport, Aldershot, Dublin, and other places, £317,670 was wanted for current repairs, and there was an item towards the erection of a largo hospital at Southampton Water, to complete which a total outlay of £150,000 would be required.
Next, there was a Vote of £105,000 for barracks at Dublin, Chatham, St. Helena, 1283 Woolwich, and the Cape of Good Hope. The question of barracks was certainly a very important one. The Committee appointed last year by his noble Friend Lord Panmure to inquire into the improvements that might be made in barracks to promote the health and convenience of the troops had presented a very interesting Report on the subject, which was now lying upon the table. In consequence of that Report plans had been advertised for, and a great number sent in by the architects of the country. A minute calculation had also been made as to what would be the expense of carrying out the suggestions of the Committee—those suggestions being that good rooms should be provided for a portion of the married soldiers; that certain improvements should be made and additional facilities supplied for the amusement of the men; that the number of square feet in the hospital accommodation should be increased; and that some additional advantages should be given to the officers. Now the expense per 1,000 men for infantry barracks, constructed according to the system at present sanctioned, was somewhere about £86,000, or £86 per man on the average. The expense of building barracks according to the recommendation of the Committee would be about £130,000 per 1,000 men, or an excess of £50,000. Of course the Government had some difficulty in knowing what to do upon the subject—for, on the one hand, it would be perfectly absurd to build merely one barrack for 1,000 men on the new system,at a cost of £136,000, and stop there; whilst, on the other, the House would require to reflect a good deal before they actually determined upon placing the whole of the barracks in the kingdom upon that improved footing. He would take another opportunity of calling the attention of the House to this important question. The course that had been taken was this—the Inspector General of Fortifications had been called on to make a return of all the barracks in the country that he considered worth preserving, on account of their position and the accommodation they afforded; how many of them did not come up to the present requirements; what expense would have to be incurred in making them equal to those requirements; and also what the expense would be of bringing them up to the higher requirements of the Barrack Committee. Until some such Report as that had been made, neither the House nor the Government 1284 would be in a position to arrive at any final decision upon the question, which was certainly one of great importance. The Government were taking some small steps in the way of providing accommodation for an additional number of married men; but beyond that he did not think that any determination had been come to with regard to carrying out the recommendations of the Barrack Committee, and he did not think they could come to any determination upon the subject until they saw their way clear as to what the whole of the expense of carrying out those recommendations would amount to. He had already mentioned the two principal items for the shell and the cannon foundries at Woolwich, and he could only say that he wished hon. Members of that House who voted these sums would personally visit the establishments at Woolwich, and see how admirably they were conducted, with the invaluable assistance of Captain Boxer and other able officers. \f Vote 13, for the educational and scientific branch, there was an increase of £17,369. Under that head a Director of Artillery Studies had been appointed to train cadets who had received provisional commissions after passing successively through the competitive examination. Colonel Wilford and his staff were training a most efficient body of young officers for this important branch of the army. In Vote 18, for pensions for wounds, there was an increase of about £34,000, arising from the augmented number of wounded officers. In the out pensions there was a decrease of £20,000. This item had been constantly decreasing since the last war, and the present war had not yet had any sensible effect upon its amount. There was an addition of £10,000 in the amount of the Vote for superannuation allowances occasioned chiefly by the retirements consequent upon the consolidation of the different War Departments. He had now gone through the whole of the lengthened details, to which it had been his duty to call the attention of the Committee—the difficulty of the task he had had to discharge being increased from his having that night for the first time to bring under one general review the whole of the items relating to the different consolidated services of the War Department. The whole of these different departments were now governed by one directing head—the Secretary of State for War; yet it had not been possible to bring them all under one roof. Until that had been clone the consolidation 1285 could not be said to be complete; but he trusted that that object would be attained in the course of the present year. He would only add, that if any hon. Gentleman wished for any further information which he was able to afford, he would be most happy to furnish him with it.
§ (1.) £294,154 Barrack Supplies, year ending 31st March, 1856.
said, he must complain that the right hon. Gentleman had not replied to the questions he had put to him. The right hon. Gentleman had given them no explanation of the duties attached to the various offices in the new War Department. His statement with regard to the Commissariat was by no means clear, but it seemed that there was to be one department of that service acting under the Secretary for War, whose function it would be to furnish provisions, and another department acting under the Treasury, which would attend to the financial arrangements. The right hon. Member had taken credit for the new Order of Merit, but he (Colonel Dunne) would much prefer to see a lower Order of the Bath instituted for the private soldier. Then as to the new regulation, giving to the soldier £5 and his kit, he did not see the great advantage that regulation would confer on the soldiers. When the bounty was £9, he got his kit for £4, so that by the new regulation he was £1 out of pocket. He regretted also that the right hon. Gentleman had not given the Committee some information with regard to the clothing of the Army. At present there was not any military man who was responsible for the clothing of the troops, and the consequence was, that innumerable troublesome and expensive changes in the uniforms were made.
§ Vote agreed to, as was also—
§ (2.) £62,316, Wages, year ending 31st March, 1856.
§ (3.) £987,185, Stores, year ending 31st March, 1856.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, in reply to Colonel Knox, that it had been deemed advisable to provide additional accommodation for troops in case it should be required, and that, if necessary, a large encampment could be formed in Scotland, and other camps could be established throughout the country. As there was a general outcry against the system of billeting, it was proposed considerably to extend the permanent accommodation for troops.
§ COLONEL LEGH
said, he objected to the erection of huts in the north of Ireland, 1286 and wished to know if he should have another opportunity of stating that objection?
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he was afraid that there would be no other opportunity, as the expense was already incurred.
§ COLONEL LEGH
said, he must then state that he considered the erection of those huts, which were fragile and inconvenient, highly injudicious. The same expense would have provided additional accommodation in barracks of permanent brickwork, and have been much more useful to the Army. The whole of the north of Ireland was being covered with huts, which might be burned down and destroyed at any time.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that the Government could not wait the time necessary for building new barrack accommodation. They were obliged to do what was to be done with the least possible delay. He admitted that it would have been much better if the accommodation could have been provided in a permanent manner, but the Government had no option.
§ COLONEL TAYLOR
said, he thought that iron huts, which had been proposed, would have answered the purpose, and would have been much more durable. Perhaps the expense was the objection; he should be glad of information on that head.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he must complain of the loose manner in which they were voting away money for barracks without due inquiry. He saw several expensive propositions for warming the barracks with steam or hot water, which he thought quite useless.
said, he would beg to ask whether the hon. Gentleman wished soldiers to be treated like brutes? The hon. Gentleman opposed every proposition for the soldier's improvement and comfort.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished every provision to be made for the comfort of the soldiers, but objected to unnecessary expenditure.
said, he wished to know if the hon. Member recollected the time when barracks had been knocked down from a false economy. If they were to have good soldiers, they must keep them warm.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that in reference to the question asked him respecting iron, huts, the expense of each hut would have been £6 7s. 6d.; but the objection to them, was on the score of their unhealthiness. In reference to what had been last said, he quite 1287 agreed as to the false economy which had pulled down valuable barracks and sold the materials for a trifle.
§ Vote agreed to, as was also,
§ (4.) £2,368, Scientific Branch, year ending ending 31st March, 1856.
§ (5.) £246,716, Men, Land Forces.
said, that previous to the change recently made, those officers who had arrived at the rank of full colonel also arrived, as a matter of course, at the rank of general officers, but, owing to the recent change in reference to the system of selection, a great number of old officers saw no prospect whatever now of arriving at that rank, after having spent much money in the purchase of their commissions. A case of considerable hardship was that of Colonel Upton, who commanded the Coldstream Guards at the Alma, at Inkermann, and during the Crimean campaign. Owing to having got a certain step in his regiment, he was obliged to return to command his regiment at home, while other officers who remained behind had attained the rank of brigadier-general, and it was consequently impossible to say when Colonel Upton would become a general officer. The Order of Valour had been referred to in the course of the evening, and that, no doubt, would give great satisfaction to the army; and he now took the opportunity of expressing a hope, as many gallant officers were rewarded for their services with the Order of the Bath, that the noble Lord, considering that officers in the army were not over rich, would recommend that in their case the payment of the enormous fees might be remitted.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished to ask whether it was not intended to take the same course in the case of the Army Estimates which had been pursued in those of the Navy; that was, to vote the number of men, and then take a Vote for three months on account for pay and provisions?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
That is what we propose; but we want to have the number of men voted, because that is necessary as the foundation for the Mutiny Act.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed.