HC Deb 16 June 1856 vol 142 cc1533-60

House in Committee; Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.

(1.) £10, in addition to former Vote of £7,000,000 for charge of Land Forces.


said, he must express his surprise that no explanation had been given of the Vote on the part of the Government. The sum now proposed was certainly not large, but there were from 1,400 to 1,500 items embraced in the additional Estimates before them, and he considered that some explanation ought to have been given.


said, he would endeavour to make up for the deficiency of the Government by pointing out some of the extravagancies which had led to this addition to the original Estimate; for, though the immediate sum before them was not large, the whole amount to be voted was considerable. He had, first of all, to compliment the hon. Member for Lambeth as the only Member of the Administrative Reform Association who was active on the side of economy in that House. [Mr. W. WILLIAMS: I am not a member of the association.] That association had been lately polished up, and had now got an eloquent and energetic chairman. He therefore hoped a change would take place for the better, but hitherto the members had usually walked out of the House when the money of the country came to be voted away. The first piece of extravagance he had to complain of was that of having employed foreign instead of English troops. The enlistment of foreigners in America had nearly brought us into a war, and had certainly put us in a very disgraceful predicament, and all that had taken place was for the sake of enlisting 500 soldiers, which be believed was the greatest number we had succeeded in obtaining in the United States. He had some time since moved for the Conventions which had been entered into between the Governments of other countries and that of our own, relative to the enlistment of the Foreign Legion, and he had been enabled to procure those Conventions which related to Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. The number of men which had been enlisted in accordance with them he found to have been 15,000, but under which of those conventions the men who had been enlisted in America had been ranged he was at a loss to understand; nor had he been enabled to ascertain from the Government that any separate Convention with respect to that country was in existence. Passing over that point, however, he might be allowed to draw the attention of the Committee to the advantages which were possessed by the Foreign Legion as compared with those which our own soldiers were permitted to enjoy. For that purpose he should take the militia, which during the late war had supplied us with an army of about 30,000 men, and would simply state that while the foreign soldier had entered our service under the stipulation that he was to be considered as enlisted for one year after the ratification of peace with Russia—thereby being entitled to a year's pay, amounting in round numbers to about £20—that while at the end of the year he was to receive £20 more in the shape of a gratuity, making altogether £40; and that while it had cost the country £16 in addition for each of these soldiers in the shape of bounty, clothing, &c., before he reached the depôt, the expense connected with the employment of those who served in our militia regiments, taken in a similar point of view, had not amounted to more than £12, or, at the utmost, £15 per man. But that was not all. The Government had promised to send those foreign troops back to their own country, or to pay their passage to some of our North American colonies upon their being disbanded. That would, of course, be a cause of increased expenditure, and he would therefore ask the Committee whether the policy of the Government, in neglecting the services of their own countrymen, which services they might have obtained at a very much lower rate than that which they paid to foreigners, was not open to serious objection upon the score of extravagance, as well as for other reasons to which he need not then more particularly allude? He did not wish to say one word against the Foreign Legion. He had no doubt they would have made good soldiers, but from what had since occurred he was of opinion that those who opposed the enlistment of foreign soldiers had good grounds for doing so. It might be said that soldiers in sufficient numbers could not be procured in this country. That, however, was a proposition which he entirely denied, inasmuch as he felt confident that if terms equally favourable had been given to Englishmen as had been held out to foreigners, we might have had any number of men we wanted flocking to our standard. The services of such men, he might add, would not only be found more inexpensive than than those of foreigners, but if the statement which upon a former occasion had been made in that House to the effect that the Turkish Contingent—a foreign force under British officers—was not fit to march with Omar Pasha to the relief of Kars, were correct, would also be found to be more efficient. Before he sat down, he should urge upon the Government the expediency of keeping up such a nucleus in each militia regiment as would enable us in entering upon a future war to place our military force upon a satisfactory footing at once, and thus to avoid all those inconveniences and disasters to which our want of adequate preparation had in the late contest given rise. We should maintain an efficient militia staff. The scheme of retaining a whole parcel of sergeants and a few pupils was a mere delusion. It could be of no use whatever to have a number of men lounging about every county town without drill, and exposed to the total eradication of all those habits of military dicipline which they might have acquired. He saw by the Estimates that the Vote for recruiting expenses amounted to between £50,000 and £60,000. Why not, he would ask, employ the militia staff in recruiting? There was now on their way home from the Crimea a number of officers who were to be placed upon half-pay. Why not make use of their services in carrying out that object? Those were matters which deserved the serious consideration of the War Department, and he could assure them that unless some such policy as he had indicated were adopted, no real eco- nomy in our military administration could be attained.


said, he found himself compelled to complain of the way in which the Estimates had been brought before the Committee. At the commencement of the year, Army Estimates to the amount of £34,000,000 were voted. Now the reduced Estimate was to the amount of £20,000,000. That was a reduction of £14,000,000, and he thought it was only due to the Committee that the right hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance should in some general statement have explained the data upon which the reduction was founded. The almost unprecedented Estimate of February to the amount of £34,000,000 consisted of about twenty items, which were again before the Committee, and, without being critical, he might recall to their recollection that the statement which the Clerk of the Ordnance made at the beginning of the year was not of that lucid character that would render all further explanation entirely unnecessary. It was not acting rightly to a Committee of Supply that, when there was a reduction of £14,000,000 on an Estimate, the responsible Minister should not lay before them the data upon which he formed his original Estimate, explain why the reduction had taken place, and submit the arguments which had induced the Government to conclude that the reduced Estimate was sufficient in the altered state of the country. It was not acting in a proper manner that, when so great a change had taken place, the responsible Minister should content himself with putting a piece of paper into the hands of the Chairman of Committees, instead of offering such an explanation as Parliament and the country had a right to expect. Now, he would point out to the Committee what happened under analogous circumstances with another department a few days ago. At the commencement of the year, a large Estimate was voted freely by the House for the Navy; but on Friday last, in consequence of the fortunate change which had taken place in the position of the country, it was the pleasing duty of the responsible Minister connected with the Admiralty to propose a reduced Vote. Now, did the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty content himself with formally proposing the Vote? No; he condescended to offer an explanation—a clear and manful explanation—becoming a person to whom were entrusted such high administrative duties; and the Committee would not be doing their duty to their constituents or the country if they did not call upon the right hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance, before proceeding further, to make a similar statement with respect to the Army Estimates. Then they should have an answer to the able suggestions and inquiries urged by the hon. and gallant Member who spoke last, and there were many more subjects upon which the Committee had a right to expect information. The Clerk of the Ordnance should recall to the recollection of the Committee the circumstances under which he proposed his first Estimate; he should explain the reasons which justified such a great and happy reduction; and, in going through the twenty items which composed the Vote, he should refer at length not only to all those points to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Dunne) had adverted, but also to those which would infallibly suggest themselves to a Minister who was master of his business.


said, nothing could have been further from the intention of the Government than to treat the Committee with any disrespect, but it was thought the most satisfactory course would be to afford a full explanation of the Votes as they were successively brought under consideration, instead of prefacing the introduction of the Estimates by a general statement. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that there was not the least desire on the part of the Government to withhold from the Committee a full explanation of all the details of the Votes.


said, he fully agreed with the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) that, considering the important changes which had been made in the Votes, the explanations afforded had been most unsatisfactory. He thought a statement of the reductions ought to have been placed before the House in print; but when he put a question on the subject a short time ago, he was told very curtly that reductions amounting to so much per cent had been effected. The amount of reductions was, he believed, £14,000,000, but no explanation as to their nature—not even a verbal one—had been afforded to the House. The right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) now told them that the Government was prepared to give an explanation upon each Vote. He thought, however, that that was not sufficient, but that a printed explanation ought to have been sent round to Members before they were called upon to vote the amended Estimates. In his opinion, the House of Commons had been treated in this matter with disrespect. His hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Colonel Dunne) had referred to the disbandment of the militia and of the Foreign Legion. He (Sir De L. Evans) did not wish to say anything to the discredit of the Foreign Legion, for the Government had been good enough to select for the command of that force very able officers whom he had introduced to military life. Baron Stutterheim had served with him as a cavalry officer in Spain, and he believed that under the superintendence of that gentleman and of other officers the Foreign Legion had been extremely well disciplined. That was no reason, however, for preferring German troops to English troops. He would ask the Committee to observe the contrast between the manner in which the militia and even English troops of the line were treated by the Government as compared with their treatment of the German Legion. He was not a militia officer, but he believed there had been no period in the history of this country, when the services of the militia were more valuable than they had been during the late war. The Government embarked in the war with most extraordinary and unprecedented want of calculation, and a catastrophe was only averted by the spirit and patriotism of the English noblemen, gentry, and people, who came forward to establish a militia, and who reinforced the army with nearly 40,000 men. About 33,000 of the militia—not mere striplings, but generally grown men—volunteered into the army, and between 5,000 and 6,000 militia undertook to relieve regular troops in garrison in the Mediterranean. He believed also that from 15,000 to 20,000 of the militia volunteered their services if they should be required, and many of them were ready to go to the Crimea. Yet that valuable body of men was treated by the Government in the most contemptuous manner. The Lancashire Artillery Militia, commanded by a friend of his, who formerly commanded the 79th regiment, volunteered to serve in the Crimea. In the course of the last month they received an order for their disbandment in ten days; and after some remonstrances the period was extended, he believed, for four days only. He understood, also, that the men of the militia regiments which had been stationed in the Mediterranean were not to receive fourteen days' pay, but the balance of the bounty, and were then to be sent back to their homes. He (Sir De L. Evans) was, no doubt, regarded by some persons as a very profane Radical, but he could not refrain from expressing his gratitude to the aristocracy of this country—to such men as the Duke of Richmond, the Duke of Buccleuch, and others of high station—who had come forward and devoted their time, attention, and abilities to the training of the militia. Those gentlemen had, however, notwithstanding their services, been disregarded by the War Department. There were some paltry arrangements with regard to clothing; he believed the militiamen were to be allowed to retain their fatigue jackets, but in many cases they had previously paid for them. But, on the other hand, the Foreign Legion were treated with wonderful indulgence and kindness. It was only the other day that about 300 Germans of the Foreign Legion, who had been enlisted from the United States, mutinied at Plymouth, and he believed it was necessary to send some British troops to put them down. What was the result? Were the mutineers punished? He hoped so. If they had been militia, they certainly would have been punished. But in this case, according to the newspapers, an officer was sent down from the War Department, and he told them, "You shall have a year's pay"—not fourteen days' pay, which was the sum allotted to the militia—"and you shall also have a free passage to any colony you may select, provided you conduct yourselves well." In the case of the militia, however, they were sent back suddenly to their homes, with but little regard as to their opportunities of obtaining employment, and he should not be surprised if the same course were adopted with reference to some of the regiments of the line which were returning from the Crimea. The poor unfortunate militia were sent to their homes in England or in Ireland, with the niggardly donation of a few shillings, while the German Legion were brought up from Sandgate and installed in the place of the militia at Alder-shot. He found, too, from the newspapers, that comforts and accommodation were afforded to the German Legion which had not been provided, in any one instance, for our own militia. Now, how was that? Was such a system to continue? He had heard that some of the German Legion were to be sent to the Cape, but he should protest against the disbandment of national troops, if Germans were to be stationed at the Cape. About a century back, there were great complaints as to the maintainance of Hanoverian troops in this country, but all other Germans seemed to enjoy a similar preference now. He might remind the Committee that the Italian Legion committed serious outrages at Malta; they were to receive, however, a year's pay, and some of them were to be sent to the colonies, while the officers were to receive three months' pay. He thought the War Department had acted with the greatest inconsistency with reference to these subjects. [Mr. F. PEEL: There has not been the slightest inconsistency.] Well, he only spoke from public report. It was announced, in the first instance, that the subalterns of the militia were to have three months' pay, and afterwards that they were to have six months' pay. Was not that an instance of some slight inconsistency? Then a general order was issued by the commander of the forces in the Crimea, recommending officers to get rid of their horses in any way they could, and they were told there was an auction at Bakshiserai to which they might send them. But what sort of prices did they fetch? He saw that the Russian Government had purchased horses for very inadequate sums, and yet the representative of the War Department had the audacity to assert, that there was no inconsistency in its management. On the contrary, he maintained that there was one continued system of inconsistency. Upon a former occasion, he had alluded to these extraordinary inconsistencies with regard to the orders sent to the troops. He would not renew that subject, but every word he had then said he could verify. The general officer would have been worthy of being cashiered for issuing an order to the officers to sell their horses in any way they could, unless he had had some intimation from Government to induce him to do so. The House was told when inquiry was made on that subject, that he had no authority for issuing that order; but if he had no authority for it, he ought not to be in his present situation. He, however, thought the general officer had some authority for it, but perhaps could not venture to say so, lest he should suffer for it in some indirect manner. He said distinctly there was a German influence obviously exercised in this country which was highly objectionable. When they were disbanding the militia and the troops of the line in the most ungrateful manner, to send up German recruits who had never fired a shot in the war, to be established in their stead, as it would seem, permanently at Aldershot, was a course of proceeding which surely ought not to be sanctioned.


said, he would endeavour to the best of his ability to explain the savings made on this Vote for the land forces. The hon. and gallant Member for Westminster said that it would have been better to place the Committee in possession of a printed statement of the reduced expenditure under the different heads, but, upon due consideration, the Government had come to the conclusion that this could not be done in a way to satisfy the Committee. The army at the present time was in a state of transition from a war equipment to a peace establishment. The greater part was still in the Crimea, and it was impossible to set down under the different heads what would be the new establishment under the altered circumstances which had arisen. The remark which he made when he interrupted the hon. and gallant Member (Sir De L. Evans), that there was no inconsistency in the War Department, had regard to its dealings with the Foreign Legion. He asserted that the course taken by the Government had been perfectly consistent. Their engagements had been embodied in Conventions. They had in no respect deviated from the conditions by which they were bound, and it was their intention to fulfil to the letter everything which they had promised. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Portarlington fell into a mistake with regard to the force raised in America. Those troops were not levied under the engagement with Baron Stutterheim. [Colonel DUNNE: I never said so.] Though Baron Stutterheim was not paid, the terms on which the men were engaged, so far as regarded their service, were precisely the same. If he were asked was there a separate capitulation for that force which formed part of the German Legion, he should say, no; but still the terms of enlistment in America were the same as those on which the other German soldiers were enlisted. With regard to the disbandment of the militia, and the feeling of dissatisfaction which the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster represented, he did not know whether the hon. and gallant Member was aware that the disbandment took place under an Act of Parliament. The Act only justified keeping the militia in an embodied state during the continuance of war. As soon as the war was ended and peace re-established the Government was bound to take the earliest opportunity of returning the men to their homes. When the militia were disembodied at the end of the last war fourteen days' pay, without any bounty, was considered sufficient. The militia would now receive fourteen days' pay and the bounty for the current year. He could not understand how more than was thought sufficient at the close of a war much more protracted than the late war should he now thought niggardly on the part of the Government. With regard to the Vote before the Committee, it was originally voted at £10,950,000, and they were content to take a sum of £7,000,000, being a saving of close upon £4,000,000. The total number of men of all ranks and of all arms of the service applied for by the Government was 246,716, and that number was introduced into the Mutiny Act of the present year. It was not intended to maintain that number, but if the Vote had been reduced, probably it would have been necessary to introduce a Bill to amend the Mutiny Act. The Foreign Corps numbered 21,719, the West India and Colonial Corps 8,568, the Land Transport 9,020, the Commissariat and Medical Department 1,795. Those branches of the service which were distinct from the regular army gave a total of 41,102, which, deducted from 246,716, left 205,614, which represented the strength of the Infantry of the Line, the Guards, the Cavalry, the Artillery, and the Engineers. He would now proceed to show the saving proposed to be made on the pay required for these respective forces. Taking, in the first place, the foreign corps, 21,719 was the number voted for the cavalry and infantry of all ranks. He would take that opportunity of correcting another mistake of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Dunne), who had stated that under the Convention with these Foreign Legions the Government was bound to retain them in their pay for a year after the war had ceased. If the hon. and gallant Member had read to the conclusion of the Convention, he would have found that the Government were furnished with the means of disbanding those corps at any moment they thought proper. It was the intention of the Government to disband them under that power, and he anticipated that by the autumn the whole of the foreign troops would have ceased to be in the pay of this country. They had never raised the total number of foreign troops authorized by the Vote. The total strength was, probably, 7,000 short of the number. They had to pay twelve months' gratuity to the privates, and three months' gratuity to the officers; and he anticipated that with the saving of the pay, for the whole financial year, of the number not raised, and with the saving of the pay of the number which did exist, between the autumn and the month of April next, they would be just able to meet those gratuities without applying for any additional grant. There would be neither any saving nor exceeding of the sum voted for the foreign troops. With regard to the West Indian and Colonial troops, they were local corps, and would remain on the same footing and strength as at present. With regard to the Land Transport Corps, it was intended to keep a nucleus, which would admit of expansion if necessary, and to disband the excess. Of the £660,000 which was voted on this head, he thought they would be able to dispense with the sum of £300,000, which would leave £360,000 applicable to the expense of the corps, which had been very considerable during the period of the financial year already expired. With regard to the Commissariat and Medical corps, numbering 1,795, the Government would cease to employ the acting commissariat clerks and the acting assistant surgeons, and probably from 500 to 700 of the number would be released from service, but the saving under this head would not he considerable in amount. He had thus accounted for a saving of £300,000 on the special arms of the service, and he would now come to the regular branches of the army. The number of regulars voted was 205,614, which was made up of the Infantry, the Guards, the Cavalry, the Artillery, and the Engineers. He would take, in the first place, the infantry of the line. The House had voted 154,140 men, exclusive of the regiments in India; those regiments, being paid by the East India Company, might at once, therefore, be dismissed from the calculation. These 154,140 men were distributed among eighty-three regiments of the army, exclusive of the twenty-two regiments in India. The Government had had to consider what diminution of numbers ought to take place on the reduction of the army to a peace establishment. Their object was to form the regiments in such a way as to admit of their being expanded and contracted as the occasion might require, and they believed that that object would be attained by preserving the present distribution of the regiments into companies. At the beginning of the war just ended, the number of companies in each regiment was ten, eight of which were sent for service in the East, leaving two companies for the depôt, the object being that the depôt companies should raise recruits and supply the casualties. The war had not continued more than a month or two, before it was discovered that these two companies at home were insufficient; and when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert), in moving the Army Estimates for 1854, proposed to increase the number of companies from ten to twelve, there was, he believed, a general opinion that the latter number ought to form in future the permanent constitution of our regiments of infantry both in peace and war. Our regiments in the Crimea had the number of their companies increased from twelve to sixteen, eight in active service, and eight at home; the latter being not more than able to keep up the regiment to its full number. There were, at the present time, in the Crimea, fifty regiments of infantry with sixteen companies, but it was intended to form all the eighty-three regiments (excluding those in India) into regiments of twelve companies each. It would, therefore, be necessary to reduce by four companies each regiment in the Crimea, and the officers of those four companies would necessarily be reduced to half-pay. That would, therefore, be the organisation of the regiments as regiments in future. He would now come to the more important point of the strength of each of these companies. The Government intended that each of these regiments of twelve companies should have a force of 1,000 rank and file. The fifty regiments in the Crimea had been raised to a war establishment of 2,000 rank and file, and he believed that a company might be reduced as low as seventy-five men. The intention of the Government was, to reduce all the regiments in the pay of this country to the strength of 1,000 rank and file. Multiplying 1,000 by eighty-three, the number of regiments, would give a force of 83,000 rank and file, which with 12,000 commissioned and non-commissioned officers would give a total force of all ranks of eighty-three regiments of infantry, con- sisting of 95,000 men. The House had voted 154,140 men, and if the Government were about to reduce that number at once to 95,000, they would have to surrender a force of 60,000 men. But the Government did not propose at once to reduce the total force by that amount. Next year, for the first time, the Limited Enlistment Act for ten years would come into operation in its bearing upon discharges, and it would, of course, be quite impossible to say how many men would leave the army under that Act. It was calculated that the army lost annually 12,000 men from all causes, and there would have to be added the number of those who might claim their discharge under the Limited Enlistment Act. The Government, therefore, proposed to take a margin of 10,000 men to cover the loss which the army might sustain from that cause, and the reduction to 95,000 would therefore not be effected immediately. But if 10,000 were added to the 95,000 the total force would be, exclusive of the regiments in India, 105,000 men, leaving about 50,000 men to be reduced. Now, the expense of the infantry was on an average about £30 per annum per man of all ranks, and multiplying that sum by 50,000 men, the saving would be about £1,500,000. He would now take the opportunity of explaining the manner in which the twelve companies would be organised. It was intended to form the army into divisions and brigades both at home and in the colonies. The infantry establishment in India consisted of twenty-four regiments, but two had been withdrawn for service in the Crimea, and the number would probably be made up again. There would, therefore, be forty-one regiments at home, forty in the colonies, and twenty-four in India, making 105 regiments. It was proposed to separate those regiments into service companies, of which there would be eight, and depôt companies, of which there would be four. The service companies would be formed into divisions and brigades. There would be seven divisions and fourteen brigades, and each division and brigade would have staff officers appointed, which would give officers a much better opportunity of becoming acquainted with their profession. With regard to the depôt companies, they would not be distributed, as they used to be before the war, in different parts of the country, but would be formed into groups of consolidated depôts with three regiments in each depôt. They would in this respect correspond with the brigades, each brigade having three regiments of eight service companies. He calculated upon a saving of £500,000 upon the Guards, the cavalry, the artillery, and the engineers. The regiments of Guards would be formed into ten companies instead of twelve, the number for the line. At the beginning of the present year the Guards consisted of 9,744 men of all ranks. He calculated that they could be reduced to 7,000 men without altering the number of the battalions, or the companies in each battalion. With regard to the cavalry, it was not yet decided whether they were to be formed into regiments of eight troops or six troops. At present the regiments consisted of eight troops, and those in the Crimea had, or ought to have, 700 men on the list of each regiment. The great expense of the cavalry service consisted in feeding and purchasing the horses. There were about 550 horses in the cavalry regiments, which number it was proposed to reduce to about 350 horses. It was proposed to maintain a much larger proportion of men to the horses, the war having proved that the number of men to the number of horses ought to be about 400 men to 300 horses. The horses could be easily obtained if wanted, and the regiments would then be in an efficient state to take the field. With regard to the artillery the voted strength was 23,547 men of all ranks, including both the horse and foot artillery. It was not intended to make a great reduction in the artillery, and the foot and horse artillery would probably consist of from 20,000 to 21,000 men. At the commencement of the last war, in consequence of the unwillingness of the Government to ask for the means of maintaining a proper establishment of horses, the gunners and drivers received no training, and had it not been for the camp at Chobham it was very much to be doubted whether the six batteries which were sent to the Crimea at the outset of the war could have been despatched. He had much satisfaction in informing the Committee that it was not the intention of the Government to fall into the same error again; and, while the greater part of the artillery would be employed in garrison duty, it was proposed to maintain a proper number of field batteries, fully horsed and equipped. There would be 130 or 140 guns divided into batteries of four guns each, for which 4,000 or 5,000 horses would be permanently required. Of course, when the army returned from the Crimea a smaller number of horses would be required than the Committee were at present asked to vote. He had now accounted for a saving of £1,500,000 in the infantry and of £500,000 in the other arms of the service, to which he would add £300,000 in the Land Transport Corps. He had still, therefore, to account for a saving of £1,700,000. The sum voted for the Turkish Contingent was £300,000, but the whole of that force, except about 1,000 men, having been handed over to the Turkish Government, a saving of about £100,000 would be effected from that item. Another large saving would be made in the item of field allowances to officers and men on duty, including the extra 6d. a day for each man for service before the enemy. A vote of £818,000 had been taken for that item, upon which they might reckon to save about £600,000. There would he a saving to the same amount upon the Vote of £742,000 for the purchase of horses. All the more valuable artillery and cavalry horses would be brought to this country, but a great number of those which were less valuable, and also of animals belonging to the Land Transport Corps, had been purchased by the Turkish Government. He had now to account for £350,000, and that sum he calculated would be saved in the levy money of recruits. A Vote of £392,000 had been taken as levy money of recruits, calculated on the supposition that the casualties in the course of the year would be about 40,000 men, but of course it would not now be necessary to raise any considerable number of recruits, and the required saving would be easily made from that Vote. That made a total of about £4,000,000, and there might of course be other savings in such items as hospital expenses, the amount of which could not be exactly calculated. He had thus endeavoured to lay before the Committee a statement of the reductions and savings which were proposed to be made, and he hoped it would be found generally satisfactory.


said, the statement of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. P. Peel) was not altogether very satisfactory to him. It certainly was not his expectation that the hon. Under Secretary of War would have risen to give the information required. The name of Mr. Monsell was stated in the paper on the table of the House as the Member of the Government that was to move the Army Estimates in Committee of Supply, and he (Mr. Disraeli) had entered the House that evening under the impression that the statement would have been made by the right hon. Gentleman who, as Clerk of the Ordnance, was the Minister really responsible for it. Of course, so long as the Committee obtained the information from a responsible Member of the Government, it was a matter of little importance from what particular source it was derived. He would, therefore, leave that matter of etiquette to be settled by the hon. Gentlemen themselves, one of whom had his name placed upon the paper as the mover of the Army Estimates, while the duties were performed by another. After having listened to the speech of the hon. Under Secretary, there was one point to which he alluded, on which he (Mr. Disraeli) wished for information—that had reference to the position of a great part of our army. The hon. Under Secretary throughout his speech had spoken of the army in the Crimea, and, in answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De L. Evans) who followed him (Mr. Disraeli) in debate, and who supported him in the view which he had taken, defended his office for not giving the information which the Committee had a right to expect on the ground that there were fifty regiments still in the Crimea. Now, the other night, when the Navy Estimates were brought forward, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Board of Admiralty informed the Committee that there was no army in the Crimea. The right hon. Gentleman said that every man was now afloat, and that the Guards had already reached Malta and were daily expected home. Now, there were not only discrepancies in words between the two Ministers that required explanation, but there were inconsistencies of statements which should be corrected, inasmuch as those statements mainly influenced the degree of information they could obtain in Committee. The right hon. Baronet, the First Lord of the Admiralty, replied to the charge of the inefficiency of the Land Transport Service by this answer to all criticism, namely, that we had not a single regiment in the Crimea, and that fact was a sufficient proof of the efficiency of the Land Transport Service. But when the hon. Under Secretary for War was asked for information as to the state of our army, he replied by saying he could not give the Committee the details they desired because our army was still in the Crimea. Now, he wished that the two Ministerial functionaries would endeavour to reconcile the two statements, find tell the Committee where our army really was. He certainly desired that they would explain this apparent contradiction. Now, the Committee on the one hand were to be satisfied with the conduct of the Land Transport Service because the army had all been ordered with the greatest despatch from the Crimea, and on the other hand, according to the hon. Under Secretary for War, it was impossible to give them the information they required because our army was still in the Crimea. When the First Lord of the Admiralty was making his statement, he believed that the hon. Under Secretary for War was not present, and tonight, when the Under Secretary for War was making his statement, the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty was not present. He (Mr. Disraeli) would draw from these circumstances this lesson for the instruction of the Government, that when the Estimates were being moved the Ministers should all be in their places—should listen to each other's statements—should be taught to tell the same tale—and should take care not to mention matters that were utterly inconsistent with each other.


said, he really thought that the right hon. Gentleman could not have been in his place when his (Viscount Palmerston's) right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty made his statement the other night; or if he were in his place, that he must have been engaged making suggestions to those around him, and not attending to what the right hon. Baronet was saying. His right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty did not make anything like the statement imputed to him by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire; in fact, he stated directly the reverse. So far from his right hon. Friend saying that there was not a regiment in the Crimea and that all our army were now afloat, he said the very contrary. His right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty said that a great number of troops had been already despatched from the Crimea, mentioning at the same time almost the whole of the Sardinian army, the troops going to the North American provinces, and some of those that were destined to replace the militia in the Mediterranean. But his right hon. Friend stated that the bulk of the army was still in the Crimea, and he expressed a hope that they would be all moved away from the Crimea by the latter end of July or August. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire sets up a phantom, and distinguishes himself by his bravery in knocking it down. He hoped, in future, if the right hon. Gentleman could not find it convenient to be in his place when matters of public interest were under discussion, that he would take care to make himself acquainted with the real facts, and not come forward a week afterwards misrepresenting what was really said, and making statements that were utterly unfounded.


said, he believed that the noble Viscount was not in his place when his right hon. colleague (Sir C. Wood) made the statement referred to, for if he had been, though he might have come forward with his usual valour and skill to the support of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War, it would have been with much less confidence. If the statement made the other night by the First Lord of the Admiralty and that just made by the Under Secretary for War were placed in parallel columns, it would be found that nothing could be more conflicting. Indeed, the reports in the papers to-morrow would, no doubt, expose the inconsistencies of the two statements. [Viscount PALMERSTON: State the contradictions.] The contradiction was this:—The First Lord of the Admiralty stated that there were scarcely any men left in the Crimea, while the Under Secretary for War said there were, at least, fifty regiments there. There, assuredly, was a great discrepancy between those two statements.


said, he thought the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stafford) must have been asleep, when, in answer to the question as to whether all the troops would have quitted the Crimea by the 10th of July, the First Lord of the Admiralty stated that he expected that they would all be removed by the end of that month.


said, he wished to bring back the attention of the Committee to the subject before them, at the same time he thought they were indebted to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) and the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster for the statement they had just heard from the First Minister of the Crown. He, however, wished to suggest, that in effecting the reductions which had been spoken of, care should be taken to provide an efficient reserve in case of the unfortunate necessity for an increased army. For years before the late war there had been numerous alarms that some foreign enemy might pounce upon this country at night, and produce great injury; and that had such an effect that very great expenses were incurred—the militia were called out, and our fortifications were increased. He did not wish for one moment to detract from the benefits which had been derived from our calling out the militia; but it was quite clear that this country ought not, in time of peace, to keep up a very large standing army. All past experience showed that, on the termination of war questions of economy would be entertained, and that the army and navy would be reduced. The Act introduced by the noble Lord at the head of the War Department for granting men their discharges after certain periods would come into operation next year, and he would propose that, as soldiers, after serving twenty-one years, were entitled to their discharge and a pension of 1s. per day, the option should be given them of a discharge after half that service with a pension of 6d. a day, coupled with a condition of being enrolled, and being liable to be called out every year for a certain number of days' duty. He believed that that plan would, in twelve months, provide a reserve of 40,000 or 50,000 men highly disciplined and in the prime of life. It would also offer a means of providing for the surplus officers otherwise than by the disagreeable means of retirement on half-pay. Another consideration arose out of the moral view of the question. No doubt an enormous improvement had taken place in the tone of the army. The barracks were better, but still required much improvement; the canteen abominations had been done away with, the schools were good, and in many regiments admirable, and the treatment of the soldier was very different from what it was at the beginning of the century. Yet, with all those improvements the army was not a popular service. One reason was the long service which the soldier had to go through. The head of the War Department had very wisely introduced a ten years' service; but, if that arrangement were not coupled with some such provision as he had suggested, the country would lose the men at the very time when they were exceedingly valuable. If ten years' service were made the general term of service in the army, men would enter gladly at eighteen years of age, if they felt that at the end of their service they had secured a pension of 6d. a, day. He, therefore, urged the Government to take into consideration the formation of an army of reserve.


said, that the hon. Member had given the sketch of an army formed on a totally different principle to that ever adopted in this country. He seemed to have taken up the principle acted upon in many parts of the Continent, where the soldiers were levied by conscription; but such a system was inconsistent with the habits and instincts of this country. The hon. Under Secretary for War had stated that no less than forty different regiments were to be distributed through the British colonies, including, no doubt, the strong places in the Mediterranean, but the principle of late years adopted was to depend on the colonies for their own defence. He believed they were both able and willing to do so, and, therefore, he must protest against the army being distributed through the colonies in small bodies, which would prevent them being brigaded in masses, and tend greatly to the destruction of discipline.


said, he had not been able to follow the hon. Under Secretary for War in all his figures, and therefore would suggest that they should be printed and distributed to Members, in order that those not fully acquainted with military affairs might have an opportunity of coming to a proper judgment on them.


said, that with respect to the item of £17,800 paid for outfit to non-commissioned officers on their promotion to commissions, he wished to call attention to the loss of good-conduct pay which was suffered by the corporal and the sergeant upon their promotion respectively from the ranks.


said, he was not sure whether he had rightly caught the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. F. Peel's) explanation with respect to the disbanding of the foreign corps. He feared that some heartburning would be felt in the country if those troops were placed in a more advantageous position than the militia. The remark of the hon. and gallant Member (Sir De L. Evans) would receive an echo, he believed, generally in the country. Why those foreign troops were to be sent to Aldershot he could not easily understand. The militia had had rather scant justice dealt out to them, whilst there was a prevailing feel- ing that the Government had been over lavish in their treatment of the Foreign Legions.


said, a great part of the Legion had been employed in the East—3,000 at Scutari and 2,000 at Smyrna—and it was necessary to keep up the discipline of the rest until the bargain made with them on their enlistment could be carried out.


said, he was sorry that no allusion had been made in the course of the debate to the subject of military education. It was of the greatest importance that some steps should be taken without delay to establish a plan of military education, more particularly for those officers who were destined for the scientific corps. The present system of appointments and promotions in our Engineers was most faulty and contrasted very unfavourably with that which was pursued in the French army. In the French génie, for instance, non-commissioned officers were allowed to compete with commissioned officers for advancement in the service, and the effect of such a stimulus as that was most beneficial to the service. In our army, on the contrary, the Engineers and the Artillery were the only corps in which the noncommissioned officers had no chance of rising to a commission. The life of an officer in the French génie was one of continuous exertion. He was obliged to apply himself with the most indefatigable industry to the study of his profession, and for every step he had to pass a competitive examination. There was no such salutary rule, however, in the British service. An hon. and gallant Member of that House, who was in the Engineers, had lately been appointed Deputy Inspector of Fortifications. The post was worth about £800 a year, and he had been at some trouble to ascertain what was the hon. and gallant Gentleman's peculiar merit for it, but he had not been able to discover that he had any. The hon. and gallant Member had the advantage of being in that House, and those who had appointed him, as a matter of course, had the benefit of his vote. Had he been in the French service, before getting an appointment of that kind he would have had to pass an examination to show that he had superior merit. His remarks with regard to the necessity of competitive examinations applied equally to the Royal Artillery. The valuable appointments connected with that corps ought no longer to be given for life, but for a certain number of years only, and those who were proved to be most worthy of them by competitive examinations ought alone to be appointed to them.


said, he wished the Committee not to pass the Vote without some further explanation. To make an increase of regiments in the colonies was a retrograde policy. It was proposed, as he understood, to make an addition of three regiments to the military force in the North American Colonies, thereby increasing the force to five regiments. Though such an increase might not be numerically great, it was most significant as to the policy of the Government. Five additional regiments could not certainly be regarded as a menace to the United States, nor as a means of protection to the extensive frontier of Canada. What advantage, then, he should like to know, could be gained by such an additional force? While, on the other hand, the certain result would be to check the North American colonies from raising their own forces, on which they ought chiefly to depend. He, therefore, called upon the Government to state, clearly and distinctly, whether an increase of force, from two regiments to five, in the North American colonies, was not in contravention of the policy laid down before the war; and whether, with two regiments as a garrison at Halifax, the colonists might not defend themselves without looking to this country for further protection? He wished also to refer to another illustration of this retrograde policy in the course which had been pursued for the purpose of defending our colonial provinces in South Africa. A sum of £45,000 had been granted to the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope to carry on a new experiment for the defence of that province. Now, he distinctly gave notice to the Colonial Secretary, that if he (Mr. Adderley) were here next year—as he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be there in his place also—and if the right hon. Gentleman should think it his duty to bring forward that Vote of £45,000 for what he (Mr. Adderley) considered to be a most mischievous experiment, he would divide the Committee against passing a shilling of that Vote. So long as that experiment was to be continued, so long must these forces be maintained, and that was the way in which the Parliament was prevented from reducing the war establishment.


said, the hon. Gentleman had asked whether the fact of increasing the amount of force for the North American colonies from two to five regiments indicated any change of policy in regard to the system of protection of those colonies. He had no hesitation in telling the hon. Gentleman that such an arrangement indicated no change of policy in that respect. The policy to be pursued in regard to the military defences of those colonies had already been clearly laid down, and to that policy Her Majesty's Government entirely adhered. It consisted in relying upon the courage and loyalty of Her Majesty's Canadian subjects. Her Majesty's Government were sensible that without that courage and that loyalty it would be impossible to maintain the safety and stability of that important colony, but that so long as those guarantees existed no difficulties or dangers of an hostile kind were to be apprehended. Lord Grey, when Colonial Minister, had stated that it was a part of the policy of this country to maintain garrisons at the three great ports of Halifax, Montreal, and Quebec. It was to those ports that these troops had been sent. But it was not intended to revert to the old system—namely, that of scattering the British regular forces over the colonies in order to form a mere body of police—a system which was at the same time extravagant and highly detrimental to the discipline of the troops. He could most confidently state, from communications which he had received from Canada, that there was no ground of apprehension that the troops which might be sent to British America would in the least degree damp the spirit of the Canadians or prevent the organisation of a native force of a permanent description. With regard to the question as to South Africa, he regretted that the hon. Gentleman was not present when that question was discussed. He believed that on a future occasion he should be able to satisfy the hon. Gentleman that but a very moderate sum of money can be expended in that colony, and that whatever might be the amount, it was expended on the improvement of roads, and of works which had the most important effect in tranquillising and civilising the Africans.


said, that as he was the only Deputy Inspector of Fortifications who had the honour of a seat in that House, he wished to make a few observations in reply to what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for Barnstaple (Colonel Buck). The hon. and gallant Member said that he (Captain Laffan) had been appointed to the office of Deputy Inspector of Fortifications, in order that the Government might secure his vote. Now whether the Government was right or wrong in forming a favourable opinion as to his capability for the appointment of Deputy Inspector of Fortifications, it was not for him to question; but he would state that upon the occasion of his getting the appointment he distinctly warned the Government that he was not a supporter of theirs, and that he did not intend to support them. In reply he was told that he might consider himself, as before, perfectly independent, and might vote just as he pleased; for that the appointment was a purely military one, connected with his own corps. On that condition he accepted the appointment; and he would only say, that if it was for a moment imagined that he ought to become in return a supporter of the Government, he would throw up the appointment at once. He would at the same time beg to state that during the period he had held the office for once he had voted with the Government he had voted three times against them.


said, he must beg to explain that he had never meant to say that the hon. and gallant Gentleman had accepted the appointment through corrupt motives. All he would say, however, was, that whenever he had seen the hon. and gallant Gentleman in the House he had invariably seen him sitting on the ministerial side. What he meant to state originally was that in France an appointment like that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman would have been a competitive appointment, and that the best man would have held it. He knew nothing himself of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but he had asked other officers in the service as to his merits, and whether he had ever distinguished himself in any way. He had, however, been unable to ascertain that he had. [" Oh, oh!"] He only wished to say to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's face what he had said behind his back. He would repeat that in France such appointments were strictly competitive; but in this country they were not.


said, he could perfectly understand the motives which had induced the hon. and gallant Gentleman to bring forward the question. He was sure there was nothing personal in the matter, for he did not believe the hon. and gallant Gentleman and himself had seen each other more than once or twice in their lives. He thought, however, it was a great mistake to suppose that such appointments as he held could be made competitive. They might make the appointment of a subaltern a matter for examination, or even the elevation of a lieutenant to the rank of captain. But they might as well throw open such an appointment as that he held—which was purely an administrative one—to competition, as the office of Colonial or Foreign Minister.


said, he wished to call attention to the position of the sergeants in the militia, than whom no class was deserving of greater encouragement—those non-commissioned officers attached to regiments recently disbanded were placed in a most unsatisfactory position.


in reply, was understood to say that they would receive fourteen days' pay in addition to the bounty already agreed upon.


said, he had expected to have heard from his hon. Friend (Mr. F. Peel) some explanation in reference to a subject brought before the House a few nights ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert). His hon. Friend had on that occasion said, that though he could not concur in all the observations made by the right hon. Gentleman, he had a plan of his own on the subject. Now, he (Lord Hotham) should have liked to hear an outline given of that plan. He should also be glad to know whether it was the intention of the Government to make any, or what, alteration in the constitution of the staff. His hon. Friend had alluded to the intention of having the army in future massed in divisions and brigades, which would give occasion to the employment of a great number of staff officers, and afford them an opportunity of learning their duty; but he should like to know what was in future to be considered the qualification of a staff officer—what education such an officer would be required to have, and in what manner, in the first instance, he would be placed on the staff. The other subject to which he would allude was in reference to the officers who were about to be reduced, more particularly that large class of junior officers who must necessarily fall victims in the reductions which were about to take place. In justice to them, as well as for the advantage of the country, he would ask whether it was necessary to turn those officers adrift in the first instance, and whether advantage should not be taken of such opportunities as might arise of restoring them to the service in consideration of the sacrifices which a great many of them had made in coming forward to serve their country when their country so much required their services?


said, that with reference to the question of the education of officers, the subject had been referred to a Commission. The officers to whom the noble Lord adverted, as likely to suffer from the proposed reductions in the army, amounted to about 800, but he had no doubt that they would be gradually reabsorbed in the army as opportunities were afforded for rendering their services available.


said, that what he had to complain of was, not that the militia force was treated ill, but that the foreign corps had been treated too well. A distinction had been drawn between the two, which was not fair. The remuneration to the army chaplains was extremely inadequate; in one instance a chaplain had received £9 5s. for eight months' service. He should be glad of some explanation on that head.


said, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for war, had stated that the arrangement with the German troops had no reference to those enlisted in America; and, under that arrangement, those troops could not be disbanded until the expiration of a year after the ratification of the treaty of peace. He wished to know if he had correctly understood the hon. Gentleman's observations on that subject. He also wished to know what was going to be done with the two regiments of cavalry which had been sent from India to the Crimea, and were now in England without horses?


replied, that application had been made to the East India Company for transport, but no answer, as yet, had been received.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £10 in addition to former Vote of £1,000,000 for charge of Embodied Militia.


said, he would beg to ask in what state of efficiency it was intended to maintain the disembodied staff? Although it had been said that the militia were, on their disembodiment, to receive a gratuity of 14s., many men in the neigh- bourhood of London had not received that amount.


said, that the only alteration made was the retention of the quartermasters of regiments on the permanent staff.


said, that in his regiment there had been no regular quartermaster, the duties of that office having been performed by subaltern officers, and he wished to know if those officers who had been acting as quartermasters would be retained on the permanent staff? The question was one which gave great anxiety to colonels of regiments, and ought to be decided at once.


said, that it was the intention of the War Department to place on the permanent staff only those officers who were actually the quartermasters of regiments. As to the gratuity of fourteen days' pay, that would be allowed to the men disembodied.


said, he had to complain of regiments being disembodied before the harvest, and more particularly so in the case of Scotch regiments, because in Scotland the harvest would fall much later than in this country.


said, he felt it necessary to press his question again respecting the quartermasters, as some young men were waiting for the decision of the Government. He wished to know, also, respecting the permanent staff, what part of that was to be retained? He wished, in fact, to know what to do with his own regiment?


said, the last question had better be put into writing before he answered it. What had been done as to the quartermasters was this: Where those officers had already held commissions they were to be retained, but not where the office was merely held temporarily, by subalterns acting only for the time as quartermaster.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) £10, in addition, to former Vote of £250,000, for charge of Army Works Corps.


said, he wished to inquire if the Army Works Corps was to be put under the direction of the Officers of Engineers like Sappers and Miners, as a regular military organisation?


said, that the force was about to be disbanded in a very short time. There were only 1,100 men at present under duty.


said, he was glad to hear that statement from the hon. Gentleman. He wished to know when the men were to be disbanded, and what was to be the gratuity to the men and the officers?


said, that the gratuities to the men would be two months' pay. As to the officers, they were engaged for two years certain. They had served one year, and consequently were entitled to one year's gratuity.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.