HC Deb 05 August 1857 vol 147 cc1102-5

said, he would take that opportunity of expressing his great surprise at the answer which had been given to his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Greenwich (General Codrington) relative to the horse artillery proceeding to India. He understood that answer to be that only 140 men per troop were to be sent out to India, instead of 253 men, which was the full complement; and that was in consequence of the requisition of the East India Company being limited to a certain number of men. Now, he could not help thinking it was the duty of the noble Lord at the head of the War Department, in answer to that application, to have said, "You shall have any sufficient quantity of horse artillery that you may require, but I will not reduce a troop by a single man if it tends to impair its efficiency." He should like to know what were the number of guns to be attached to each troop in the field? Were they to be six, four, or three? for he wished to warn the Government that the most expensive force that could possibly be maintained in war was an undermanned artillery. The noble Lord the Secretary for the War Department ought to be the Guardian of the honour and reputation of the officers of the army. Well, but would he say that the honour and reputation of officers were not at stake when they went into action at the head of inefficient troops? Did he suppose, for example, that Colonel Maude, whose personal gallantry and the efficiency of whose troop of horse artillery in the Crimea had so attracted the admiration, not alone of our own army, but of our gallant allies, if he were to proceed to India under such circumstances would he not be endangering his great reputation? He had no doubt it either behaved the Minister at War to require that the troops should be sent out in an efficient manner or to refuse them altogether. He must also ask whether it was the intention of the Government, considering that two additional cavalry regiments were under orders for India, to reinstate the cavalry regiments at eight troops per regiment. That step would be a most proper one, as it would recruit the strength of that arm, and at the same time, amongst its other advantages, an opportunity would be afforded to the Government of doing justice to the officers who had been reduced to half-pay upon the termination of the late war.


said, that in the answer which he had given to the question of the hon. and gallant Member, he had stated the reason why the particular number of men had been ordered to India; but he must add that since that arrangement had been made, a further requisition had been received from the East India Company, but he was not able to say whether the requisition would interfere with the arrangement previously effected. He believed, however, although he could not undertake to speak positively, that the strength of the Horse Artillery would be increased in consequence of that requisition.


observed, that he begged to give notice, that unless each troop of horse artillery was strengthened according to the requirements of the crisis, he should again direct the attention of the House to the question.


thought, before going into Committee of Supply, the Government ought to inform the House when a statement would be made of the measures which had been taken to meet the existing crisis in India. He had inquired several weeks back what preparations were being made, but received no satisfactory reply, and what he had heard that day strengthened his conviction that further information should be given by the Government. The House had just heard that a troop of the Royal Horse Artillery was about to be sent to India 100 men short of its proper complement, because the East India Company objected to the expense. Then, again, about three weeks ago the noble Lord at the head of the Government said he saw no necessity for calling out the militia, and yet a night or two since a Bill had been introduced in another place which was intended, as had been truly observed by a noble Lord, to enable the Government to do now what they said was unnecessary a fortnight before. The country knew nothing of the measures which were contemplated nor of the arrangements that had been made to insure a proper and harmonious working of the complicated system of departments. Complaints were made during the Russian war of the division of authority in this country, but upon the present occasion matters were still worse. It was true the Ordnance Department had been abolished, but there remained the War Department, the civil branch of the War Department, the Board of Control, and the Court of Directors. He also wished to know what steps were being taken to recruit the army; whether additional bounty was to be given, as there was at present a difficulty in obtaining recruits in consequence of the treatment the soldiers received at the close of the late war, and whether it was intended to provide the troops in India with clothing fitted for so hot a climate, or were the men to wear the same dress there as they had been accustomed to wear at home? Those were important questions, which the country was anxious should be answered, and he hoped the Government would not decline to give the requisite information.


on behalf of the Court of Directors of the East India Company, said, that he could assure the House they would not spare any expense to put down the revolt in India, and to restore peace to that important territory.


said, he had intended to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, but as he was not in his place, perhaps some other member of the Government could give an answer. The question was a very simple one, nevertheless, relating as it did to India, it was important. He wished to know whether any steps had been taken to send out troops to the Presidencies of Bombay and Madras to replace the regiments which had been so properly sent from those Presidencies by the Governors to Bengal and the North Western Provinces. If no answer was given, he should repeat the question on the Motion for the adjournment of the House on Friday.


said, he thought there was no reason for complaint on the part of the Government if hon. Members should persist in bringing on Motions which appeared on the paper, because the Order for Supply had been put down with scarcely any previous notice.


asked when the militia Estimates would be taken?


said, he regretted that he was unable to give an exact answer at present, as much would depend upon the progress made in Supply that day. There would be, probably, a Committee of Supply on Monday, but he could not say positively. He might add that the Divorce Bill would be the first order to-morrow.


suggested that the Probate Bill should not come on until Friday.


observed, that he understood that to be the arrangement of the Attorney General.

Motion agreed to.