HC Deb 14 March 1856 vol 141 cc185-209

House in Committee of Supply.

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding £238,404, be granted to Her Majesty, for defraying the charge of the Educational and Scientific Branches, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1856 to the 31st day of March 1857, inclusive.


said, that with respect to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole), it was quite true that in former years there were separate Estimates for the Army, Ordnance, and Commissariat, and that, by restrictions in the Appropriation Act, the surplus of the Ordnance, could not be applied to meet deficiencies in the Commissariat or of the Army, and vice versâ. Now, all those services were included in one Estimate. Unless some new provisions were made in the Appropriation Act, there would certainly be the power of devoting the surplus arising under one head to meet deficiencies occurring under another. The Committee would see that, unless some latitude of the kind were permitted, great inconvenience to the public service might arise. He quite admitted that it might be proper, now that the three services were included in one Estimate, for the House of Commons to consider whether some different arrangement ought not to be made in the Appropriation Act. With respect to the Ordnance, it must be remembered that formerly one military branch, the artillery corps, was quite separate from the rest of the army. That corps was now connected with the army, of which it might be considered a part. There were, also, other changes in regard to stores and works of different kinds; and, no doubt, the subject was one deserving of consideration when the proper time came. The Committee, however, must remember that they were only taking Votes on account, and that the whole of the Estimates must again come under their consideration at a later period of the Session, when there would be an opportunity for discussing the subject.


said, that the Vote now proposed was not a Vote on account, merely, but was for the whole sum required. He would suggest that a Vote on account only should be taken for these reasons. When the Estimate was framed it was, of course, impossible to foresee whether peace would be made or the war continue. In the Vote there were some omissions, and, also, some slight additions, to both of which he objected. The reason of the omission was that, as long as the war continued, it would be impossible to institute any new system of instruction for officers in the army. If peace should be made, he would take the earliest opportunity to discuss many subjects connected with the future peace establishment of the army—not only as to its numbers, but to its organisation, concentration, and employment, and, above all, the education to be given to military officers. He wished, therefore, to postpone that discussion until the question of peace or war was decided, and, with that view, he would suggest that a Vote on account only should be taken.


said, he wished to call the attention of the Government to a question connected with the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. A Select Committee had some time ago been appointed by that House to take into consideration the propriety of making provision for the education of a limited number of the orphans of officers of the army and navy in that establishment, and that Committee had recommended that ten such orphans should be admitted last year, and that that number should as early as the present time be increased to twenty. Now, notwithstanding the recommendation of that Committee, not a single orphan had as yet been admitted to the institution, although it appeared that twenty-five cadets, who paid at the rate of £25 a year each, and two sons of field officers, who paid at the rate of from £60 to £80 per annum, had since obtained admission. He might add that the most anxious desire of the Committee was, that the orphans of those gallant officers who had fallen in defence of their country should be enabled to enjoy the advantages which the institution afforded. While speaking upon that subject, he might be allowed to advert to the fact, that the Governor of Sandhurst College—a most distinguished Peninsular officer, who had served his country well for a period of between sixty and seventy years—had been discharged from his office as one might discharge a drunken groom, after having received a six weeks' notice. Having said thus much with reference to the institution at Sandhurst, he should beg next to call the attention of the Government to some circumstances connected with the Military asylum for the sons of the non-commissioned officers of our army. The subject was one which had been brought under the consideration of the House in the year 1854, and a decided wish had, upon that occasion, been expressed to the effect that the number of orphan sons of our non-commissioned officers in the asylum should be increased by 120. Some months after that decision had been arrived at, he (Colonel North), being anxious to ascertain whether the wish of the House had been carried into effect, had addressed a letter to his right hon. Friend (Mr. S. Herbert) who at the time held the office of Secretary at War, expressing a desire to obtain some information upon the subject. His right hon. Friend, with his usual courtesy, had stated, in reply to that letter, that a building for the reception of 120 boys would be in readiness in the spring of 1855; but he (Colonel North), on visiting the site of the building in the month of June or July of the same year, had found that very little had been done towards its erection. He had again paid the place a visit about a fortnight ago, and had found that the building had been placed in a position to admit fifty boys towards the end of last year, and that, in consequence of a notice which had been given by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes), to the effect that he would bring the matter under the consideration of the House, an order had been received upon the very morning of his (Colonel North's) visit to admit seventy more boys, making a total of 120. Now, he hoped some satisfactory reason would be given by the Government why those 120 orphans, the sons of our brave soldiers who had perished in the Crimea, had been thus deprived of the advantages of education for a period of twelve months.


said, he must admit that the Report of the Select Committee upon Sandhurst College had not yet borne any visible fruits, but he hoped the Committee would not infer that the recommendations of that Committee had been overlooked or disregarded by the Government. The Government were bound to satisfy themselves that when those youths completed their education they would have the means of giving them commissions in the army, but he had always understood that the commissions which fell vacant without purchase were not more than sufficient to provide for the young men who at present completed their education at that college. The number of those commissions was rather reduced at the present moment in consequence of the arrangement by which, for every seventy-five men volunteering from the militia into the line, the Government gave a commission without purchase to an individual nominated by the commanding officer of the militia regiment. Under that arrangement some fifteen militia officers would be shortly entitled to commissions in the regular army, and, if you added twenty more young men to those educated at Sandhurst, it was quite clear that the Government could not fulfil their engagements. For those reasons it had hitherto been found impossible to comply with the recommendation of the Select Committee; but attention would be paid to the subject, and at the first fitting opportunity that recommendation would be carried out. With regard to the arrangement made in 1854, for the addition of 120 boys to the Military Asylum, it was necessary in the first place to construct a building for the purpose of accommodating that additional number, and the sum of £10,000 was so appropriated. He understood that that building was now completed, that fifty of the 120 boys had been at once admitted, and the remaining seventy were on the point of admission. As to the proposition of his right hon. Friend (Mr. S. Herbert), the Government could have no objection to accede to it, and they would therefore take a sum of £200,000 on account, leaving the remaining £38,404 to be voted at some future time.


was not satisfied with the hon. Gentleman's reply. If the Government were able to find commissions for twenty-seven youths whose parents could afford to pay £125 a year, he should like to know why they could not find commissions for twenty whose fathers had been slain in the service of their country? With respect to the Royal Asylum, what he complained of was that the children of private soldiers, who had also died in the field, should have been kept for upwards of a year out of the advantage promised them. As for the buildings to which the hon. Gentleman referred, any private person would have had them put up in less than a month.


said, he was glad to find that part of this Vote was to stand over. Four years ago he had stated his conviction that the British Army was the least educated of any in Europe, and he regretted to say that his impression remained still the same. His late Friend, Mr. Hume, was very anxious to have a reform in the education of the army, and had furnished him with Returns showing how vastly superior was the education of the Prussian army. As, however, the Vote would again come under the notice of the Committee, he would defer his observations upon that subject to a future occasion. With regard to examinations, he should be glad to know whether the standard was to be raised, and whether there was to be an examination not only upon appointments, but upon promotions in the army? Observing in the Vote a charge for libraries and other institutions, he should be glad if the hon. Gentleman would give a return of the military libraries and schools, like that which had been laid before the House on military savings banks.


said, he wished to point out that the hon. Gentleman's strictures upon the education of British officers were not deserved, for he could state to the contrary from what had come under his own observation when attached to the Quartermaster General's Department in Ireland. It was during a time of considerable popular excitement, and Sir Edward Blakeney ordered an examination into the condition of the military posts throughout the country, requiring from the officers of detachments plans to show how they proposed to extricate themselves, if necessary, in the event of disturbance and to fall back upon larger bodies of troops. He (Captain Vernon) was astonished to find, from the plans sent in accordance with that order, the great knowledge of their profession which existed among the officers of the line. There was only one officer who did not send in a plan, but the rest were most excellently drawn up, and two in particular—one executed by an officer of heavy dragoons at Athlone, since dead, and another by Captain Reynolds, of the 11th Hussars (a regiment not generally supposed to devote itself much to study), were the finest he ever saw in his life. He had seen a good deal of foreign armies, but he must maintain that the officers of those armies were not better educated than our own. As regarded the Engineering Staff at Chatham, it was, in his opinion, far too small when the duties which had to be discharged were taken into consideration, He was glad to see the increase in the Estimate for the school at Hythe, but he should be glad to know why the salary of the Superintendent at Shoeburyness was only £200, when that of the secretary of the Select Committee at Woolwich—a civilian—was raised to £300 per annum.


said, that out of the sum named in the Vote £200 was allowed for providing practice for officers of Artillery, and the remainder was spent in giving instruction to those officers who, having passed through their studies, were desirous of improving themselves. The officer who was charged with the instruction of the junior officers of Artillery had most important duties to perform, and, as those duties had greatly increased, it did not appear unreasonable to increase his salary. He was happy to inform the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the establishment at Chatham was about to be increased by a Deputy Adjutant General of Engineers being sent there. With regard to the secretary to the Select Committee at Woolwich, he was an officer of artillery and not a civilian, and his duties were certainly of greater importance than those of the superintendent at Shoeburyness, and therefore it was only fitting that his salary should be greater.


said, that as the Chairman of the Committee which had been appointed to inquire into the expediency of providing instruction for a limited number of the orphans of our officers at Sandhurst, he could not help expressing his great disappointment at the statement which had been made by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary at War in answer to the hon. and gallant Member oppeosit (Colonel North). That Committee had made a recommendation to the effect that ten such orphans should be admitted to the college at once, and that the number in the subsequent year should be increased to twenty. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary at War, however, had stated that in consequence of the demand for commissions without purchase created by the war, that recommendation could not at present be practically acted upon. But the evidence adduced before the Committee went to prove that in times of peace the number of vacancies were necessarily few; so that if the Government could not carry out the recommendations of the Committee now, it was highly improbable that they would be in a better, or indeed so good, a position to do so when peace was concluded. It was highly desirable that means should be found for providing instruction, and afterwards commissions, for the sons of those gallant officers who perished in their country s service, and he trusted, therefore, that the recommendations of the Committee would be promptly and faithfully carried into effect.


said, that some of the recommendations of the Committee, such as the last two to which the right hon. Baronet had referred, were matters for the consideration rather of the Commissioners who superintended the affairs of Sandhurst College than of the Government. The suggestion that the senior and junior departments should be separated, and that the charge of the former should be thrown upon the Estimates, was accompanied by a recommendation that, in filling up staff situations, the Government should not neglect the claims of officers who had passed through that department if they were otherwise fit. The filling of staff situations with students from a particular college was a matter which could not be decided upon without much consideration. He could assure the House that there was no intention to disregard the recommendations of the Committee, and he had no doubt that they would in time all receive the attention of the Government. With respect to the increase in the Vote for the school of musketry at Hythe, to which the hon. and gallant officer (Captain L. Vernon) had adverted, he had to state that that increase was the result of a change in the system under which the expenditure was incurred. The school in question could not afford accommodation for more than one man and one officer from each regiment in the service at a time; and as the instruction of each individul occupied three months, it was evident that an unlimited period must elapse before all the men in the army could go through the training which was there provided. The system at present adopted was that each regiment should have attached to it a captain and a subaltern, receiving extra pay, whose duty it would be to give to the soldiers the same species of instruction which was at present given at Hythe; while district inspectors were appointed to see that captains and subalterns properly fulfilled their duty.


said, he considered that too little importance had been attached to the training of men to the use of the musket. He also thought that the Report of the Sandhurst Committee had not received due attention from the Government. Possibly the Committee might have travelled out of its functions, but that was no reason why its recommendations, which were extremely valuable, should not be carried out. He was glad to hear that the subject of the education of officers would be brought under the attention of the House on a future occasion. He could confirm what had been stated by the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Captain Vernon) as to the high degree of education possessed by most of the officers. No subject was more important; and it was the duty of the Government, wherever they had the opportunity, to do all in their power to promote education in the army. The United Service Institution was, as was well known to gentlemen conversant with our military arrangements, a very useful establishment, containing as it did a valuable library and very interesting and instructive models of military works. He thought that all those who felt an interest in the prosperity of that institution must regret that it was subject to very heavy charges, which the Government might well remit. It paid a ground rent of £205 to the Crown, £96 in the shape of taxes, and £130 in the shape of rates; making a total charge of £431 annually. He trusted that the Government would take into their favourable consideration the expediency of diminishing that burden, and by that means increasing the usefulness of the Institution.


said, he was anxious to know whether there was to be any change in the Military Academy at Woolwich; and also, whether the establishment at Carshalton was to be done away with? He also wished to say a few words with respect to the establishment at Chatham. He believed that Chatham was one of the most profligate places in England, and yet young officers sent there to complete their military education were left entirely free from control. He understood, too, that the officers, when leaving Chatham, were subject to no examination, and thus one great inducement to a diligent application to their studies was removed. He would further take that opportunity of alluding to the great and unnecessary expenditure which was frequently incurred in messes in the army. He believed that was a matter well deserving the attention of that House, and one in which the well-being of the officers was very considerably involved, He had himself heard young officers complain that they were obliged to drink quantities of wine at their messes, although on other occasions, when left to themselves, they drank water by preference. The result of an extravagant expenditure at messes would necessarily be to exclude all except rich men from the military service.


said, he agreed with the hon. and gallant Member who had just addressed the Committee, that the heavy cost of the messes in the army was a matter which required considerable reform. He wished to know whether any alteration had of late been made in the system of examining officers on their first obtaining their commissions? He approved the Vote for travelling expenses of young officers desirous of visiting the military institutions of other countries, and should be glad to learn how many had availed them-selves of the privilege? He also wished to know whether there would be any objection to lay on the table a return of the number of schools and libraries in the army.


said, he had to state, in reply to the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Buck), that it was not the intention of the Government to place a civilian at the head of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, but that they proposed to do away with the establishment at Carshalton as soon as possible. He believed the hon. and gallant Officer must be in error with respect to the control exercised over the young engineering officers at Chatham. He understood that those officers were under the strict superintendence of the heads of the establishment, and from whom they were obliged to receive a certificate of good conduct before they left it.


said, in reply to the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart), that he was not aware that any alteration had of late been made in the system of examining officers previously to their obtaining their commissions. There would be no objection to the production of the returns the hon. Member had inquired about.


said, that the United Service Institution was of the greatest importance to young officers, who had an opportunity of attending lectures there and acquiring scientific knowledge. It would be a great advantage to that institution to have some allowance made for the rent and taxes.


said, he would also press the same point on the consideration of the Government, for he could bear testimony to the value of the institution.


said, he wished to know whether the Reports of the Inspectors of Military Schools would be laid before Parliament?


said, that would be a subject for the future consideration of the Government.


said, with reference to Sandhurst College, that the Sandhurst Committee were of opinion the means of acquiring a qualification for staff appointments were singularly defective, and, as the senior department was actually robbing the junior in the matter of instruction, he thought it might be as well to transfer some of the senior officers to the camp at Aldershot. With regard to regimental messes, there seemed to be a general impression that they were necessarily expensive. That, however, was not the case, and he thought he should be borne out by all officers who had had the management of messes that it greatly depended on the commanding officers what the expenses should be.


said, he was anxious to know, in reference to the Royal Military College, how many applications, if any, had been made for the admission of orphans to the institution since the Report of the Committee? He was anxious to be informed whether, on any future vacancy of the office of Governor, the Government was prepared to take into consideration the propriety, if not the necessity, of either abolishing the office or reducing the salary? In the course of the examinations before the Committee it came out that the funds of the institution were not large enough to support the number of orphans who might be introduced into the institution. The number had been much reduced from the amount in former years. Many years ago there were nearly 400 cadets in that establishment, and then a Governor and Lieutenant Governor might have been, perhaps, necessary; but now, when the number of those cadets who were almost entitled to receive education from the country was reduced in consequence of the want of funds, it seemed rather inconsistent to keep up the double office of Governor and Lieutenant Governor when the duties might be discharged by one officer. If the salary of the Governor were reduced from £1,000 to £500, five orphans might be introduced into the institution and supported by the saving; and eight orphans, if the office of Governor were abolished altogether, and £200 added to the salary of the Lieutenant Governor.


said, that the applications referred to were not made to the War Office, and he was not aware that it was in consideration to make any alteration in reference to the appointment of the Governor.

Motion made— That a sum not exceeding £200,000, on account, be granted to Her Majesty, for defraying the charge of the Educational and Scientific Branches, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April, 1856, to the 31st day of March, 1857, inclusive.

Question put, and agreed to.

(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding £25,400, be granted to Her Majesty, for defraying the charge of Rewards for Distinguished Services, &c., which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April, 1856, to the 31st day of March, 1857, inclusive.


said, he rose, according to notice, to move "To reduce the Vote by £100, the sum proposed to be granted to Sir Richard Airey, with a view to the postponement of the same until after the result of the Commission of Inquiry be known." Since this pension was voted last year to Sir Richard Airey, circumstances had transpired affecting his professional character while holding the post of Quartermaster General of the army in the Crimea. The Report of the Commissioners sent out by the Government to inquire into the miseries endured by our troops while before Sebastopol attributed the greater part of the army's misfortunes to General Airey's department. He (Mr. Layard) would not say whether Sir Richard Airey was or was not guilty—he would cast no imputation whatever upon that gallant Officer—all he asserted was, that while the inquiry into the allegations of the Crimean Commissioners' Report was still pending, the House of Commons would egregiously stultify itself if it voted a good service pension to an individual whose conduct was called in question by the Report which the Government had laid upon the table, and to examine into the truth of the statements contained in which they had lately appointed a Commission. He had no wish to deprive General Airey of this pension, which was very paltry in amount if really deserved; and therefore he (Mr. Layard) had intended to move that it be postponed until the gallant Officer had had an opportunity of stating his defence to the Commissioners; but, having been informed that that mode of procedure was irregular, no other alternative was left to him but to propose that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £100, on the understanding that when the Estimates, or at least a portion of them, came to be considered, as he presumed would be the case, later in the present Session, the Government would be able, if the inquiry were then concluded, and General Airey's character cleared, to renew their application to the House for the amount of that gallant Officer's pension. In the event of the investigation resulting in the acquittal of Sir Richard Airey, he (Mr. Layard) need scarcely add that he would with great pleasure support the Government in a Motion to restore this item to the present Vote.


said, he had occasion, a few days previously, to direct the attention of the Committee to a speech made by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) at Liverpool in the course of last year, in which he attacked the late Lord Raglan, Lord Hardinge, and Lord Westmorland. On the same occasion, the hon. Gentleman is reported to have said that, having been long absent from England, he was not well acquainted with this country, or its mode of conducting public affairs. Anything truer than that observation had never fallen from the lips of the hon. Gentleman. If he had known his country, or the character of his countrymen, he would have been aware that, from the Throne of the Sovereign to the cottage of the peasant, there was no stronger feeling among all classes than the love of justice; that it was customary for the people of this country to regard every man as innocent till he was proved guilty; and that whenever a doubt existed the accused invariably received the benefit of it. The hon. Member, however, now called upon the Committee to do nothing more or less than to prejudge, dishonour, and disgrace as brave a soldier and as good a man as ever breathed. From an acquaintance of many years with his gallant friend, Sir Richard Airey, and from the known intelligence and activity of that distinguished officer, he believed that he would come out of the impending inquiry with undiminished honour. Now, what was the origin of this Report? The Report of the Crimean Commissioners originated in certain rumours affecting the characters of many gallant officers, which reached this country from unofficial and anonymous sources, and induced the Government to order an inquiry to be instituted on the spot. With regard to Sir Richard Airey he would only say that it was not for his services as Quartermaster General only, but for his distinguished services generally, that Her Majesty had been pleased to award him a good-service pension. It was not in the Crimea alone that he had served his country. During the rebellion in Canada, where he commanded the 34th Regiment, and had the supervision of the whole frontier, he acquitted himself with uniform discretion and success, and that under circumstances in which one injudicious movement might have imperilled our friendly relations with the United States. In the East the same gallant officer had charge of a brigade, and, owing to the fact that General Sir George Brown was employed elsewhere, he (General Airey) had repeatedly allotted to him the command of the entire Light Division—a duty which he discharged in the most creditable manner. The hon. Gentleman, however, now called upon the Committee to withdraw the pension Her Majesty had awarded to this meritorious officer; but it was to be hoped that the Committee would decline to do so, and remember that the officers impugned by the Report had been already ill enough treated in being so long deprived of the means of vindicating themselves. Every Englishman, however, must desire that justice should be done towards Sir Richard Airey—a thing impossible if his case were to be thus unfairly prejudged. He trusted that the Government would at once discountenance the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. He could not resume his seat without attempting to say a word on behalf of two other gallant friends of his, whom the hon. Member for Aylesbury had aspersed in the course of the last Session. He alluded to Lord Burghersh and Colonel Hardinge. On that occasion it would be recollected the hon. Gentleman prepared a return so adroitly drawn up as to enable him the better to attack officers of the staff and members of the aristocracy. But the House was not then aware that, owing to the personal intercession of the hon. Member, a relative of his (Mr. Layard's) was placed upon the staff of our army, by the very man (Lord Raglan) who was most harshly handled by the hon. Gentleman. That, however, was a matter of taste, and might perhaps, too, be one of very questionable gratitude. But what he wanted the hon. Gentleman to explain was the uncandid manner in which he mentioned the names of certain officers on the staff in his letter to The Times. Not being a military man, the hon. Gentleman must have taken great care in the preparation of his list of the staff. Among other names he included those of "Colonel Strong, Alma and Inkerman; Colonel Wilson, West Indies, Alma and Inkerman," & but when he came to Lord Burghersh, he inserted the fact that that noble Lord was the son of Lord Westmorland, appending to his description the words, "without purchase, staff." The Hon. A. Hardinge was described as "the son of Lord Hardinge," but without any mention being made of his foreign service. If it was necessary to mention the parentage of the officers, or if he only confined it to the sons of Peers, why did not the hon. Gentleman, if he wished to do equal justice in giving the name of Lord Dunkellin, add that that gallant officer was "the son of Lord Clanricarde?" and why did he omit to state that Lord Burghersh and Colonel Hardinge also had both served in India? It so happened that these last two officers had been more service than all the rest put together. Lord Burghersh was present at the Punjaub campaign and also at Goojerat; he was likewise at the Alma, and only prevented from being at Inkerman by having been despatched on other duty which rendered that impossible. At Chillianwallah the 24th Regiment lost nearly the whole of its officers, and Lord Burghersh, who was then serving in another part of India and belonging to a regiment not included in Lord Gough's army, with a high feeling of honour, immediately relinquished his position on the Governor General's staff, and volunteered to serve with the 24th Regiment, with which he fought at the battle of Goojerat. Colonel Hardinge also served on the Sutlej in 1845 and 1846, and was at Moodkee, Ferozeshah, and Sobraon, where he was the only officer out of ten of Lord Hardinge's staff who was not wounded, and yet he had his horse shot under him. The same gallant officer was present at the battles of the Alma, Balaklava, and Inkerman, and served throughout the whole of the siege of Sebastopol. Under these circumstances, why did the hon. Member for Aylesbury draw up his Report in so invidious, and, he would add, disingenuous a manner, in relation to these two gallant officers. If this was the treatment which the officers of the army generally were to expect at the hands of that hon. Member, the House ought wholly to disregard his present attack upon an old and distinguished officer like Sir Richard Airey.


said, he must oppose the Amendment of the hon. Member for Aylesbury, and he hoped the Committee would not enter into the merits of the questions at issue or the services of the officers who were concerned. He objected to the Amendment on the ground that the Committee could not adopt it without, in his opinion, prejudging the whole case, without prejudicing the public against the officers who had been referred to, and possibly even prejudicing the Board of General Officers. He thought the hon. Gentleman had not put the question before the Committee quite fairly. The question was not whether the Committee should grant to General Airey the reward to which he was entitled for distinguished services, for in that case it might be proper to postpone the vote while an inquiry was pending; but the fact was, that this annuity was voted last year. It was granted to General Airey for his services as Quartermaster General at Alma and Inkerman, and if the Amendment were adopted, its effect would be to suspend a payment of which General Airey had been in receipt for several months past. He thought it was impossible for the Committee to take such a course at the present moment without prejudging the question. The hon. Member for Aylesbury might with equal propriety have declined to vote the salary of the Quartermaster General; for if General Airey was unfit to receive this reward for distinguished services, he must, in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, be equally unfit to fill the office of Quartermaster General. He hoped, therefore, that the Committee would negative the proposition of the hon. Gentleman.

Motion made, and Question put— That a sum, not exceeding £25,300 be granted to Her Majesty for defraying the charge of Rewards for Distinguished Services, &c., which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1856 to the 31st day of March 1857, inclusive.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 9, Noes 82: Majority 73.

Original Question put, and agreed to.


said, that the Clerk of the Ordnance, on introducing the Estimates, had enumerated several measures adopted with respect to the army during the past year, and which, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, had been beneficial in their operation. He (Lord Hotham) entirely approved the change made with regard to the letting of canteens, a subject constantly pressed on the present Minister for War, when Secretary at War, by the hon. and gallant Member for Wigan, and which would prevent soldiers from being plundered as they had hitherto been. The arrangement for providing recruits with kits at the expense of the Government was one of which nobody at all conversant with the subject could fail to approve. The grant of 6d. a day additional pay to the army in the Crimea was a measure of much more doubtful policy and wisdom, however. The right hon. Gentleman had also alluded to the newly established Order of Valour, and on this subject he (Lord Hotham) particularly requested, for a few moments, the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. When the warrant establishing that order appeared, the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) was asked if he would produce copies of any instructions which might be issued with reference to it, and the reply of the noble Lord was, that, in his view, the warrant was perfectly plain, and that no instructions were required for its elucidation. He (Lord Hotham) hoped, however, that the noble Lord would reconsider the opinion he then expressed, for unless clear explanations were given as well to what was, as to what was not, to constitute a claim to this distinction, complaints would constantly be made that the distinction was distributed unfairly and partially. He would remind the Committee of the discussions which had lately taken place with regard to the Order of the Bath, the distribution of which had been carried to so great an extent as to have lost half its value—those who had obtained it complaining of its having been made so general, while those who had not obtained it were disappointed because it had been conferred upon many who were no better entitled to it than themselves. If the new Order were (as the Royal Warrant represented it to be Her Majesty's wish that it should be) highly prized, its distribution would be watched with unusual jealousy, and the Government ought, therefore, to give a clear explanation of the circumstances under which it was to be conferred, in order to avoid complaints and discussions upon the subject, Session after Session, in that House. There were two other points to which he wished to call the attention of the hon. Under Secretary for War. By the regulations of the army, a field officer, becoming a general officer, was not entitled to the full unattached pay of £400 a year unless he had served for six years in that rank; otherwise he was only entitled to the half-pay of his last commission, about £200 a year. But cases had occurred in which this rule was evaded, by giving to general officers not entitled to the full unattached pay, pensions of £100 a year, and then, in consequence of their having these pensions, dealing with them as if they had completed the required period of service. The regulation itself he (Lord Hotham) considered just and proper; but he complained of its violation in the cases of favoured individuals, and the more especially as the effect of such violation was to put an officer not having completed the period of service required, in a better situation than those who had. A short time ago the Commander in Chief or the Secretary for War was empowered to allow a certain number of officers who had served for, he believed, thirty years on full pay, to retire upon full pay, with an additional step in rank. That was a liberal and a very proper provision for officers who had thus deserved well of their country; but a practice had sprung up, by which officers, applying for permission to retire, exacted large sums by way of bonus from their regiments. He thought it would be undesirable to do away with the system of purchase, but he hoped that this practice, which he considered highly reprehensible, and which had worked so prejudicially in the Indian army, would not be imported into England, and he therefore wished to know whether it had the approval of the military authorities?


said, with respect to the first question of the noble Lord, the whole of the regulations with regard to the pay of general officers were contained in the warrant of October, 1854, and a general officer must serve for six years with the rank of a field officer before he got the £400 a year. There were but two exceptions to that rule—one was, if the officer received a military governorship, or received the appointment of major general on the staff. If any such instances as the noble Lord alluded to had occurred, it must have been before the warrant of 1854 was issued. With regard to the question whether he was aware that officers, who desired to retire upon full pay, and received permission to do so, were accustomed to stipulate with the officers of lower grades in their regiment for a bonus to retire, he was not aware of the existence of such an arrangement, but he could understand very well that such an arrangement might exist, as it was important for every officer to got a step of promotion without purchase. He had no knowledge whatever of the arrangement referred to having taken place in any one instance; and it certainly would not receive the approbation of the Government. But with regard to putting a stop to any such arrangement, if it existed, that was another question; for there appeared to him to be no way of doing so but by saying that the promotion in all such cases should go into another regiment, and that would not be an advisable measure to pursue.


said, that, of course he should not give either names or dates, but would simply state that the cases which he had before him, when he asked his first question, were not at all touched by the answer he had just received; however, as he understood from the hon. Gentleman that what he complained of could not occur under the new warrant, he would say no more on the subject. With respect to the second question, nothing could be more easy than for the Commander in Chief to issue an order prohibiting this improper practice, and to exact from every officer applying for leave to retire on full pay, a distinct engagement that such order had not been, or would not be, in his case, directly or indirectly violated.


said, he wished to call attention to the omission of the name of General Freeth, late Quartermaster General, from the list of recent promotions in the Order of the Bath. That gallant officer had served the country for a long term of years, and the whole army felt that something like a slight had been passed upon him.

Vote agreed to, as were the following:—

(3.) £67,000 Pay of General Officers.

(4.) £519,094 Pay of Reduced and Retired Officers.

(5.) £220,420 Pensions to Widows and Allowances on the Compassionate List.


said, that, according to the Royal Warrant of October, 1855, the Friends of officers killed in action within a certain time after receiving their commissions, were to receive the purchase money of those commissions. In the case of an officer killed at the battle of Inkerman, leaving two sisters and a younger brother, an application was made to the Secretary for War for the value of his commission; but the noble Lord replied that, in consequence of there being a younger brother, he was precluded from granting any allowance. That circumstance, he considered, demanded some explanation.


said, that it was never intended to return the purchase money of commissions to the friends of officers killed in action, except as a substitute for pensions. It followed, therefore, that persons who were not entitled to pensions had no right to the value of commissions. Such must have been the position of the family referred to by the hon. and gallant Admiral.

Vote agreed to, as were also—

(6.) £83,558 Pensions, Gratuities, &c., to Wounded Officers.

(7.) Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding £32,096, be granted to Her Majesty, for defraying the charge of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals, and the In-Pensioners thereof, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1856 to the 31st day of March 1857, inclusive.


said, it was impossible for any soldier to enter Kilmainham Hospital unless he were fifty-five years of age. The inmates were, he understood, scarcely able to carry on the business of the hospital from extreme old age; and he wished the Under Secretary for War to consider the propriety of relaxing the restrictions, so as to fill up the number. Soldiers, too, were unwilling to surrender their entire pensions, which they had to do on entering Kilmainham. The out-pensioners were anxious to become in-pensioners, if they could get to Dublin; but there was no fund to assist them, and they were therefore left in the provinces. The annual expenses of the hospital were about £6,000, and only 142 persons were maintained in it? but, by a small increase of expense, 200 or 250 in-pensioners might very well be maintained at Kilmainham.


in moving, by way of amendment, that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £50, the salary of the Roman Catholic Chaplain, said, he objected to this portion of the Vote on conscientious grounds, and did not hesitate to declare that his firm and decided opinion was, that for the State to support the Roman Catholic religion in any way whatever was a national sin. He believed it was wrong for the State to pay for the religious teaching of any nonconformists, its duty being solely to support the National Church; for otherwise it ceases to be the National Church. If they deviated from that principle by paying Roman Catholic priests, upon what ground could they possibly refuse to pay the ministers of any of the denominations: Baptists, Independents, and others? He (Mr. Spooner) appealed to hon. Members belonging to the Church of England especially, and reminded them that by assenting to this Vote they would be paying for a religion whose Ministers were bound to maintain the sacrifices of masses, which are denounced in the Articles of our Church as "blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits," and against which the Clergy of that Church, as well as the Sovereign herself, are solemnly engaged to protest.


said, the establishment of Kilmainham Hospital was regulated by Royal Warrant, which provided for the support of a Roman Catholic chaplain there. It was not true, however, that spiritual provision had been made for one particular sect, and that the Roman Catholics; for there was also a Protestant chaplain in the institution, with a salary of £250 a year.


Was there any other minister paid than the Roman Catholic chaplain and the chaplain belonging to the Established Church?




Well, that was his argument.


said, he should support the Vote, and would entreat the hon. Member (Mr. Spooner) not to divide against it.


said, that if the hon. Member for North Warwickshire divided against the Vote, he should go into the same lobby with him, though upon totally different motives, namely, the voluntary principle.


said, he would remind the hon. Member (Mr. Spooner) that a large portion of the army consisted of Irish Roman Catholics, and he must express a hope that he would withdraw his amendment. If his hon. Friend divided the Committee, he should certainly vote against him.


said, he was really surprised at the objections to the Vote. It was only an act of justice to the Catholic soldiers, who had not been backward in the present war, in their service to their Sovereign. Why should not the Irish Catholic soldiers have the spiritual consolation which was given to the soldiers of the Protestant faith? The hon. Member (Mr. Spooner), as a Protestant, was bound to support the right of private judgment. Ought not the Roman Catholic to have the right of exercising that judgment in attending the service of his own Church? Then, again, the hon. Member should bear in mind the Catholic nature of Ireland, was it right to call the religion of so large a portion of Her Majesty's subjects a national sin? Certainly it was not a course likely to ensure the loyalty of those whose religion was so traduced.


said, that the argument put forth in favour of this Vote would, if concurred in by the Committee, be equally good for the establishment and support of the Roman Catholic Church and the payment of the whole priesthood. If it were true that, Ireland being a Roman Catholic country, it was right to act in the case of the whole country as they would act in this particular instance, then they might, with as much propriety, undertake to pay the whole priesthood of Ireland. In the name of Heaven, why did they make this an exception to the ministers of all other denominations? Where was the payment for the Presbyterian minister? They had heard nothing about it. He would ask them whether for a moment they could conceal from themselves the fact that the Church of Rome was of such a character as to render it impossible for them, as the representatives of a free people, to encourage the establishment of that Church in a Protestant country? And if they could not afford, for the sake of the liberties of the people, to establish the Church of Rome, how could they contend for the validity of the Vote now under discussion? Let them look abroad. Let them look to the habits in those countries where the Roman Catholic Church was the established religion. Look at Austria, where, if they could believe the newspapers, an order had been recently issued throughout the whole army for every soldier to confess, and to report that he had done so by the production of the certificate of the priest to the commanding officer, who was himself to make his report to the higher authorities of the country. Was that the kind of system which they wished to establish in this country? If, then, they did not wish to establish that Church, and, knowing its despotic character, why did they put forward one excuse or another in favour of such a Vote as the one in question? If they granted this paltry sum, they should grant assistance to the ministers of all other establishments. He should certainly vote in favour of the Amendment.


said, he had always understood that the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) was the strenuous supporter of the Protestant Church, but he had that night become the advocate of dissent, for he asked how could they think of giving this grant to the Catholic priests in Kilmainham while they refused any grant to the clergy of dissenting bodies. The soldiers in Ireland, who were the supporters of this institution, were principally Catholics. He could not, therefore, understand upon what principle of justice or equity they could refuse means for the inculcation of religion and morality to these poor soldiers after they had fought the battles of their country. He confessed he was extremely sorry to see those religious discussions introduced into that House—discussions which took away their attention from the observations of the hon. Member for Dublin, who stated that there were only 142 pensioners supported in Kilmainham Hospital, at the enormous expense of £6,000. He quite agreed with the remarks of the hon. Member that they should endeavour to make the establishment more serviceable than it really was. He trusted that he should live to see the day when that House would set its face against the introduction of religious discussions—whether those discussions referred to Catholic, Protestant, or Presbyterian chaplains. Such polemical discussions were most unseemly in that House, and were calculated to injure materially the character of the people of this country. He hoped, however, that the people of this country were far too enlightened to allow themselves to be led away by the ill-directed eloquence of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. They were too wise in their generation to entertain such illiberal ideas. The Committee would of course see the justice of this Vote for the benefit of as true and loyal subjects as any in Her Majesty's dominions. He, however, thought that the Government would do well to make this institution more effective than it really was at present.


said, he hoped that the same advantage would be given to officers attending military hospitals as the officers in the navy had in respect to naval hospitals.


said, he wondered that 5,000,000 Catholics in Ireland could come to that House asking for such paltry grants. If the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) were put, he would vote with him to strike off the £50 for a Roman Catholic chaplain, and he would then move that the £250 for the Protestant chaplain be also struck off. If Catholics must contribute to pay a Protestant chaplain, how could the hon. Gentleman in fairness resist Protestants contributing to pay a Catholic chaplain? He was opposed on principle to both grants, and would so vote. He insisted that it was a great moral wrong to tax the people for the support of a Church to which they did not belong. Those miserable wrangles scandalised religion throughout the land, and they made infidels by wholesale. Let the contest amongst them be one to show which of the religious denominations was most Christian like and most like their Divine Master, who was reverenced by them all. He should vote as he had stated with the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, but hoped that, to be consistent, that the hon. Member would follow out his principle by also objecting to the Votes for other chaplains.


said, that the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) might consider himself very consistent, but he would remind him that he had already swallowed a camel, and now should not strain so much at a gnat. Looking at the details of this Vote, he saw a charge made for the keeper of the Hypocaust. Now, he would be anxious to ascertain the meaning of this word and what the vote was for. It might be some monstrous heresy, for all he knew.

Motion made, and Question put— That a sum, not exceeding £32,046 be grant-to Her Majesty, for defraying the charge of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals, and the In-Pensioners thereof, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1856 to the 31st day of March 1857, inclusive.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 15, Noes 89: Majority 74.

Original Question again proposed— That a sum, not exceeding £32,096, be granted to Her Majesty for defraying the charge of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals, and the In-Pensioners thereof, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1856 to the 31st day of March 1857, inclusive.


said, he should now move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £250, paid to the Protestant chaplain at Kilmainham Hospital.

Motion made— That a sum, not exceeding £31,846, be granted to Her Majesty, for defraying the charge of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals, and the In-Pensioners thereof, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1856 to the 31st day of March 1857, inclusive.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(8.) £1,168,392 Out-Pensioners, Chelsea Hospital.

(9.) £124,264 Superannuation and Retired Allowances.


said, this was the largest Vote of the kind ever brought before that House. He found amongst the officers superannuated, forty belonging to the Ordnance Department, and amongst them the name of Mr. Thomas Hastings, who was one of the most efficient servants the Government had. He had served only nine years and a half at a salary of £1,200 a-year, and now he was on the superannuated list with a pension of £400 for his life. He (Col. Boldero) wished to ask how it was that forty officers belonging to the department of the right hon. Gentleman the Clerk of the Ordnance had been placed on the superannuated list?


said, he thought the hon. and gallant Member must have anticipated the answer he would receive, as he knew an alteration in the War Departments had been made which had occasioned great changes, amongst them the supression of many old offices and the creation of many new ones. In those alterations the places referred to had been filled by persons who had spent a large number of years in the service, but upon their retirement many of those offices had not been filled up. In the course of next year, a considerable number of barrack-masters will be suppressed. He would take that opportunity of correcting an error made on a former evening in answering a question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Glamorganshire (Sir G. Tyler). He (Mr. Monsell) thought, from the Return given to him, that the Government purchased the site for a battery at Swansea, but he found that the inhabitants of that place had given the site on which would be erected a small battery.


said, he was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the explanation on that point, and he now wished to know why a Vote of last year for erecting defences at Swansea did not appear in the Votes of the present year. He wished to know the intention of the Government on that point?


said, the whole question of harbour defences had been referred to a Committee, presided over by Lord Hardinge, and assisted by Sir John Burgoyne, Major-General Cator, and other eminent military authorities. The Government would consider this subject, which was one of great importance. It was worthy of attention as to whether it ought not to be a sine quâ non condition for erecting batteries that the inhabitants should supply sites for them.


said, he could not help thinking that compulsory measures had been taken to make some of the officers of the Ordnance Department retire from the service. Many of the men were efficient, and ought to remain in the service.


was understood to say that no compulsory steps had been taken to make efficient men retire from the service.


said, he must complain that the warrant regulations of the army were not properly issued. He wished to know whether there would be any efficient protection to the officers of the army, so that they might be able to procure them?


said, steps would be taken to have the warrants issued properly and cheaply.

Vote agreed to.