HC Deb 18 June 1857 vol 145 cc2013-47

Report of Supply (Army Estimates) brought up.

First Resolution read, 2°.


said, he rose pursuant to notice to call the attention of the House to portions of the evidence taken before the Sebastopol Committee and the Chelsea Commission, showing the necessity of defining the responsibility and duties of the various departments. He had no doubt the House would affirm the Resolution agreed to in Committee of Supply, and freely vote every shilling requisite for the expenses of the various departments of the army; but he felt it his duty to warn the House that unless considerable alterations were made in the organization of those departments, and in the method of conducting their business, the sums now voted would not insure efficiency, and that if war were to break out to-morrow disasters might again occur similar to those which disgraced our military system at the commencement of the campaign in the Crimea. It was not only the right, therefore, but the duty of the House to inquire into the due administration of the expenditure of the army. It might appear presumptuous that a person like himself, without experience, should venture to bring forward a military question in the presence of so many distinguished officers who were far better qualified to deal with it; but the subject to which he wished to call attention had less reference to the execution of military duties than to the organizations of those departments on which the army depended for its supplies, and any failure of which must at once weaken its efficiency. He also felt warranted in the course he was now adopting by the knowledge he had acquired of the regulations of those departments while serving on the Sebastopol Committee and the Chelsea Commission, before which the calamities that had befallen our army during the late war were fully investigated. In alluding to these inquiries nothing was further from his intention than to say a single syllable which could by possibility raise any discussion as to the opinions expressed by the witnesses examined before those tribunals on the conduct of individuals. Whatever differences there might have been on other matter, on one point there was perfect unanimity among those who carried on these investigations—namely, that the main cause of the misfortunes of our army was the want of proper organization of the departments. He would not trouble the House by reading the evidence, but would content himself with briefly quoting the opinions arrived at from that evidence. The Report of the Sebastopol Committee, which was drawn up by the Duke of Somerset, who had great experience on this subject, and—than whom no man could have been found more competent for the task—contained this passage— No measures were taken for rendering effective the offices on whose vigorous administration the success of all operations and the maintenance of the army depend. The hon. Member for Sheffield, in No. 15 of his draught Resolution, submitted to the Committee, stated— Much of delay, confusion, and inefficiency has resulted from the faulty distribution of power among the different departments of the public service, and from the want of certainty and precision as to the precise nature and extent of the separate authority of each. He added— The intricacy and confusion that prevail in every part of the business of the public departments are of themselves sufficient to account for the failures and disasters that have occurred in the proceedings of all of them. The draft of the Resolution, which was drawn up by himself, he should not quote, but he would only say that in that opinion he fully concurred. The noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) who had himself filled the office of Secretary for War, and on whose head was visited most unjustly the censure due to departments which were not then under his control, in answer to question 15,100, page 80, third Report of the Sebastopol Committee, stated:— I am certain, in order to enable any Secretary of State for War satisfactorily to himself and to the public to carry out his duties, there must be very material changes in all the war departments. It might be said that all these complaints referred to bygone times, that great changes had since taken place, and that every desired improvement had been effected by placing these departments under the immediate control of the Secretary for War; while he had no doubt that the great improvement which took place in the condition of our army in the Crimea, at the close of the campaign, would be adduced as additional evidence of an alteration having taken place in our military organization. He was not, however, convinced that the army was safe from a recurrence of such calamities as those by which it had lately been visited. We went from one extreme to the other; for whereas, at the beginning of the war our troops were not duly supplied with the necessaries of life, and were consequently exposed to the severest privation and hardship, so afterwards, at a cost and by the aid of means which could never be resorted to again, they were overwhelmed with articles forming no part of the soldier's ordinary equipment, and which must have seriously impeded their movements if they had had to take the field, and three-fourths of which, had the army been compelled to make a single day's march, they would have been compelled to leave behind. No comparison could be made between the ordinary condition of an army in the field and one that was stationary, as was ours in the Crimea. A railroad and barracks in the field (which the huts were), an Army Working Corps, and the employment of a large staff of civilians at a much higher rate of pay than the fighting men, are all exceptions to a system; and although he gave the greatest possible credit to those who, by the adoption of these means, restored the efficiency of the army, still it is no precedent for the future, and an army taking the field must be dependent on the efficiency of the establishments whose business it is to supply its wants; and he was persuaded the great fault of our military system was the practice of making one department dependent upon another for the execution of duties for which it was responsible. This remark strongly applied to the Quartermaster General's department. The House would, perhaps, permit him to read a short extract from the Report of the Chelsea Commission, drawn up by an officer who had served with distinction in the Quartermaster Generals' department in the Peninsular war, where the arrangements showed the power of the master mind who was at that period at the head of the British army. The Report having expressed an opinion as to the individual conduct of each officer in the Quartermaster General's department in the Crimea, proceeded— That their endeavours often failed in their object cannot fairly be matter of charge against a department which, although ostensibly responsible for the performace of duties of the very first importance to an army in the field, is yet left unprovided with any means at its disposal of carrying out its own arrangements, and thus becomes entirely dependent on the precarious aid of other departments, which in this particular service were over-taxed far beyond their strength and resources. Formerly the Quartermaster General's department was on a very different footing in this respet. The greater part of a staff corps of infantry, composed entirely of artificers, and commanded by officers especially trained or selected with a view to staff employment, was attached to the Quartermaster General's department, and its services were at all times available for the performance of duties which could not otherwise be provided for. Now, in his evidence, General Airey said— The Quartermaster General's department consists entirely of officers, and is not supplied with workmen or artificers of any description, and has no right or power to make purchases, or to enter into any pecuniary engagements of any kind. It is only by requisitions that the department can operate. It will be seen, therefore, that so far as the duties of the Quartermaster General are connected wich the execution of army works, he, having no means of executing them in his own dapartment, can actually discharge himself of all apparent responsibility by the judicious use of a few sheets of paper. He added— Although it were well known to him that the work could not really be executed, he might repose in the thought that his office contained paper proofs of his having done his duty. In justice to Sir R. Airey he (General Peel) must add that he stated— It was not thus I performed my duty. I never covered myself by signing requisitions being more or less in the councils of other departments. I did not mock them by making demands which I knew they were incapable of meeting. The Quartermaster General's department was responsible for the supply of the stores, and was also ostensibly responsible for the conveyance and the delivery of the clothing. But what means were at its disposal for the performance of these functions? On this point the Quartermaster General, in his evidence, said— The Quartermaster General's department has no stores, no storehouses, no issuers, no means of land transport; none, in fact, of the machinery necessary for receiving stores or keeping them, or for transporting them or for delivering them to the men. He (General Peel) believed that that was the present state of the Quartermaster General's department. The only means of acting the department had was still by requisition. Now, the evidence given by Dr. Smith regarding the system of acting by requisition in the Medical department was deserving of particular attention. Dr. Smith said that at the breaking out of the war he was called upon by the Commander in Chief to supply the army with everything requisite in the Medical department, and he stated that having decided on the proper quantity, he had to provide the medicines and surgical instruments himself, and then to make a requisition to the Ordnance for the utensils, furniture, &c. A requisition had also to be sent to the Admiralty for the medical comforts, such as wine, sago, arrowroot, &c.; but he had no means of knowing whether his requisitions had been complied with. He could only communicate with the Ordnance and the Admiralty through the Commander in Chief. In his examination Dr. Smith, in answer to questions, stated— 'Was any bill of lading sent to you?' 'No; I must mention that I was not considered to have the slightest power or control over the shipping, all that I had to do was to forward my requisitions, and they took everything out of my hand; it was not considered by me either decorous or proper to interfere further. I did so, notwithstanding: every two or three days I sent a man down to know what progress had been made.' 'To whom did you apply to supply the medical comforts, such as wine, and sago and arrowroot?' 'At the time it was very difficult to know whom I ought to apply to; the regulation, as far as regarded me, was that I must address myself on every subject to the Commander in Chief. I was not allowed the right of corresponding directly with every department; I had to go to the Commander in Chief, the Commander in Chief applied to the Board of Ordnance, the Board of Ordnance applied to the Admiralty, and the Admiralty, up to August, furnished the medical comforts.' Thus the Board of Ordnance, when it received such a requisition, was bound to put itself into communication with the Admiralty before it could comply with it, and oven after they had complied with the requisition with which they were concerned, it was necessary to have another requisition to the Admiralty for transport service. So that it is left at last a matter of surprise, not that confusion arose, but that by any chance it was avoided. He could go on quoting the evidence of witness after witness to prove that the different military departments were in a state of deplorable confusion at the time of the late war, but he thought he had stated sufficient to show that, at all events, there did exist a want of such definite regulations as were necessary to secure the efficient operation of all those departments, and to make them act as one machine. He thought the House had a perfect right to ask what alteration had been made in the action of these departments (especially the Ordnance, the Commissariat, and all those departments, in fact, by which the wants of the army were supplied) by placing them under the immediate control of the Secretary for War. He had heard, but he knew not what amount of credit ought to attach to the statement, that so far from the late Order in Council having contributed despatch in the communications between the different military departments, communications which previously received official answers in three days were now not answered before the lapse of ten days. In making these observations he was actuated by the most friendly disposition towards the heads of these departments. He was convinced that they desired nothing so much as the authoritative laying down of clear and definite rules as to their duties and responsibilities. In asking for the issue of those rules, he asked for no more than the noble Lord at the head of the War Department himself, admitted in a speech delivered by him in May, 1855, to be necessary. The noble Lord on that occasion said he had not the smallest objection to lay before Parliament such express and definite regulations as might be considered necessary for the efficient control of the various military departments; and, accordingly, on the 6th of June last year there was laid on the table of both Houses of Parliament an Order in Council, which to a certain degree did define the duties of a certain number of officers; but it was cancelled by an Order of Council of the 2nd February of this year, which has not been laid before Parliament, which merely stated the amount of the salaries attached to the different offices, but gave no definition of the duties. He did not at all question the ability or the desire of the noble Lord at the head of the War Department to organize the various military departments. In fact, he knew no person who was better qualified than that noble Lord to frame, in conjunction with his Royal Highness the Commander in Chief, a code of regulations for their guidance. But his (General Peel's) object in calling the attention of the House and the Government to the subject at the present moment was to urge the danger of postponing the issue of such regulations until the breaking out of another war, It was far better to institute an inquiry as to the best means of averting a calamity than to make inquiries about it after it bad occurred. The regulations winch he desired to see issued ought to be well considered, founded upon the evidence of competent witnesses, and of a permanent character. They ought not to be subject to the capricious alterations of successive Secretaries at War, who might or might not be competent to deal with such subjects. They ought to be framed, in the first instance, by the noble Lord at the head of the War Department, and then submitted for approval to the Government and Crown. After they had been so approved, copies of them ought to be furnished to all the military departments for their guidance. He had said nothing as to the nature of those regulations, or of the alterations that might be necessary in the duties of the different departments, for he felt that his right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice) and his right hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, both of whom had so admirably filled the office of Secretary for War, might think it altogether impertinent in him to express any opinion as to the changes that might be desirable. He hoped, however, that those right hon. Gentlemen would express on the present occasion their opinions as to the necessity of regulations with regard to the duties and responsibilities of the military departments; but, above all, he desired that they should say what were their opinions as to the power and responsibilities of the Secretary for War being clearly defined. The Duke of Newcastle, in his exanimation before the Sebastopol Committee, stated that the demarcation between the power of the Secretary for War and Commander in Chief were indefinitely inconvenient, and although he (General Peel) considered that the evidence afterwards given by Viscount Hardinge and a speech made by the noble Lord the Secretary for War in the House of Lords, showed pretty clearly what the relative positions and duties of the two officers are, yet he thought that something more definite was needed for the proper regulation of the departments than mere opinions expressed in evidence before Committees or in speeches in the House of Lords. He hoped that he had succeeded in impressing the House with the necessity of a clear definition of the regulations and responsibilities of these departments, and was convinced that an assurance from the noble Lord at the head of the Government that the War Department should be guided by some fixed and definite plan, and that, to use the words lately used by the noble Lord, we should not, in the event of another war, be left "wandering in the mazes of error" would afford the greatest satisfaction.

MR. ELLICE (Coventry)

said, he could not refuse to answer the appeal of the hon. and gallant Officer. He entirely concurred in all the opinions which he had just expressed. With him he was a member of the Sebastopol Committee before which abundant evidence was given of the utter confusion in all these departments at the beginning of the last war. They were then, in fact, in greater confusion than they had been for some time previously. The Board of Ordnance, which used to be one of the most efficient branches of the public departments, happened then to be in a most inefficient state, and, in fact, in a state of utter disorganisation; and it never surprised him that the noble Duke who then undertook the office of Secretary for War found that it was almost impossible to carry on efficiently any communication with the different departments. He (Mr. Ellice, sen.) understood that his noble Friend the present Secretary for War had arranged a plan for the improved organization of the different military departments, but he thought that a more detailed statement of that organization should be laid before the House. It was clear that some uncertainty still prevailed as to the limits of the powers of the Secretary for War and Commander in Chief, for, to take one instance—when his Royal Highness the Commander in Chief was examined before the Commission now sitting, (and without improperly disclosing any of the evidence, he might state that questions were asked with respect to the education, examination, and admission of cadets into the scientific corps, and that those questions were answered with great openness and candour), he (Mr. Ellice) observed something of hesitation when the question was put as to who was responsible for the examination and admission of those cadets. He had no doubt that his noble Friend at the head of the War Department had done everything requisite to place the whole of these departments under his immediate direction; but the country would certainly feel better satisfied if a detailed statement of the alterations that had been made were laid before them. He would now allude to a subject upon which hitherto he had not troubled the House; namely, the amount of the military Estimates. He thought they were such as the people would not tolerate on a peace establishment, but he did not desire that the Government should make any reductions in them without great consideration. But when he said that, he must add that we were beginning to make a great experiment. We had begun to copy the system of continental nations with respect to the organization of our army. We had divided our army into divisions and brigades, and had thereby rendered necessary the employment of an immense number of staff officers—far more than were hitherto deemed sufficient. If he had moved for a comparative statement of the Estimates which it once fell to his lot to move, and of the present estimates so far as concerned the number of staff officers employed, there was not one hon. Member in that House who would not be astonished by the recent increase. He would express no very decided opinion on the new system which we had begun of establishing large military camps and barracks in the centre of the country. It was too late now to protest against Aldershot. He was one of those, however, who thought that in pushing these establishments too far we ran the risk of having them hereafter curtailed beyond what it would be prudent to curtail them for the national security. This was a risk which always seemed to be run in England. At one time the country was in a fever of impatience to grant everything that was asked for on account of our military establishments, and after that it went to the other extreme in refusing reasonable demands. In thus expressing an opinion adverse to Aldershot he did not wish to display any hostile spirit either to the Government or to the projectors of this establishment, but, when there existed that settled kind of peace, which seemed to exclude any immediate prospect of hostilities anywhere, he looked with apprehension to what might be the opinion of the country two or three years hence respecting a military camp built to hold 4,000 infantry, 1,500 cavalry, and two or three batteries of artillery—a force which, with the followers, must be estimated at not far short of 10,000 men, and that, too, more especially when he considered the difficulty of maintaining the discipline and organization of such a fortified camp. At the same time he knew the object with which this had been done, and he was quite willing to admit that that object was a very good one, and that preparations ought to be made in time of peace for a contingency which would expose the country to much danger during war. He thought, however, we might have made these preparations in another way. If inquiry had been made into the amount of barrack accommodation we possessed—distinguishing between that which was necessary for our peace establishment and that which might be required for the emergencies of war—he believed it would have been found unnecessary to vote the enormous sums for both purposes which this House had been called upon for. They had voted money for the barracks at Dovor, Winchester, Portsmouth, and elsewhere; for huts at the Curragh and other places; and he felt sure that the existing barrack accommodation ought to be sufficient, and that inquiry ought to have been made respecting it before recourse was had to these new establishments. In London he supposed there was barrack room for 5,000 men; there were extensive barracks at Woolwich for the artillery; the barracks at Colchester and Chatham would hold a large number of troops, and he suggested whether it would not have been better policy to keep our troops at these separate stations, bringing them to Aldershot to be exercised and disciplined during the summer months. This was the plan he should have adopted; the Government had adopted another; but no doubt their object was the same—namely, that of rendering our establishments during peace ready for any emergencies in time of war. Now, it was quite ridiculous to talk of our military reforms unless we were determined that such an army as we maintained during peace should be as efficient as possible, and that the officers who commanded it should be of an age which should give the country hope that they would be qualified to act during war. He was afraid, however, from what he heard and saw, that, if he were to move for a return of the ages of officers now placed upon the staff, it would be seen that there was a great number from whom the country could derive very little service upon any emergency. Thus Lord Seaton, at eighty-two, was commanding our garrisons in Ireland, instead of a young man who would see personally to the condition of the regiments, and who would be gaining experience there which would be most valuable in time of war. The appointment of young men instead of old veterans like Lord Seaton (of whom, however, he spoke with the greatest possible respect) would be what he should call a proper system of administration during peace. We might talk as we would about army reform, bnt unless such a system were introduced talking would be vain. He knew as well as anybody the difficulty which existed. There were many old officers anxious for employment, and it was very painful to say to them, "We must appoint younger men, to your exclusion." The country could not value too highly the past services of many of these veterans, and there was no distinction or compensation which it ought not to be willing to bestow on them, but they ought to be told firmly "We cannot employ you under present circumstances, because we must enable those officers who will be fit for service when we want them to gain that experience during peace which will be of such value in time of war." He begged pardon for having troubled the House so long. He had come there not intending to say one word upon the subject, but the hon. and gallant General having appealed to him as to the present organization of the army, he could not refrain from making these few observations.


said, that although concurring in them he must express a hope that the House would not be led away by the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman from the extremely interesting and important subject which had been brought under their notice by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon, He, too, had been a member of the Sebastopol Committee. He need not repeat to the House the abundant proof adduced before that Committee of the great confusion which existed in the military departments of this country, and he, for one, believed that the difficulties and sufferings which our army experienced in the Crimea were mainly attributable to that confusion rather than to the misconduct of any individual officers. His hon. and gallant Friend had done a great public service by calling attention to this subject in a manner which must convince every one who heard him that he was influenced by no other motive than the promotion of the public service. With the right hon. Gentleman he (Sir J. Pakington) did hope that, after having suffered so much by the want of due regulations during war, Her Majesty's Government were sensible of the importance of making effectual arrangements in a time of peace, and would be prepared to state to the House that the duties of the different military departments were really understood and strictly defined; and that hereafter, if we should again have the misfortune to be involved in war, the country would have security that they would not again suffer from the confusion which before took place in the departments. He quite agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend that first in importance was the necessity of a clear understanding as to the respective duties of the Secretary for War and the Commander in Chief. It would be in the recollection of the House that in the course of last Session this important point was brought forward in another place, and upon that occasion he thought the answer given by Lord Panmure was a satisfactory one. It was very desirable, however, that the country should have something more definite and decided before them than even the speech then delivered by the noble Lord the Secretary for War. They had been led to hope that the Government would lay upon the table some written statement by which the duties of these officers and the other departments should be clearly defined, and it would, he thought, be satisfactory to the public if the Government would avail themselves of the opportunity for doing so given them by his hon. and gallant Friend.


observed that the question of the relative duties of the Secretary for War and the Commander in Chief was not entirely a military one, and therefore he was rather loth to refer to it in the presence of so many statesmen better able to deal with the subject. No doubt the situation of Commander in Chief was one of great responsibility, and formerly that responsibility was direct to the Crown. A Secretary of State for War had, however, now been appointed, and there certainly was great difficulty in defining exactly the duties and responsibility of either situations. The object of this recent alteration was unity in the action of the War Departments; but he did not think this unity could be effected when you had two officials with correlative powers not defined. The discipline and punishment of the army were left, he believed, as entirely as they could be when there was a Secretary for War, with the Commander in Chief; but he believed it would be very difficult to say who was really the person responsible for any particular regulation, or even particular points of discipline. Now, the discipline of the army must be left in the hands of the Commander in Chief. The appointment of persons to commissions also must surely be left to the Commander in Chief. Then who, under those circumstances, was to be responsible? Hon. Gentlemen asked questions in that House, and expected answers from the Under Secretary for War; but surely, as a general rule, the Commander in Chief was responsible; and if so, he ought to have the most ample and independent power to carry that responsibility into effect. With respect to the direct interference of Parliament with the war establishments of the country, he thought that it would be very desirable to consider whether the direction of those establishments could not be separated from the finance arrangements, as they had been previously to the war, so that the latter might continue to be the main business of the Secretary of State for War, who should confine himself to that subject, and to making himself acquainted with the resources and establishments of other countries, and the establishments necessary for ourselves in case we went to war with those countries, without interfering in all those questions of detail which, under the present system, Parliament often forced him to interfere with. If the Secretary of State for War confined himself to that, he thought that he would have quite enough to do, without touching the details, for which the Commander in Chief ought to be responsible. Let them take the question of honours, for example. He presumed that honours and rewards were at present partly under the control of the Secretary of State for War, but if the Commander in Chief were responsible for the discipline and punishment of the army, surely he should also have the rewards of the army under his entire control. With respect to the subject of finance, he knew that the country did not like a military man to touch that question. That might be right, or it might be wrong; at all events, it was constitutional, but ho feared that it very often crippled the executive powers of the Commander in Chief; and, at the same time, he could not help remarking that the necessity for an order for every trifling expense going through a civil department was one of the causes of the great waste of time which, under the present system, was inevitable. Upon the subject of honours, however, it was a mistake to say that a person in the position of the Commander in Chief—whether he were of the blood royal, or a distinguished general officer—was not sufficiently responsible by his public station, and by his sense of high military feeling, for what he did. He thought, therefore, that on such a subject it was not necessary that there should be a direct responsibility through the Under Secretary for War to that House. With respect to Lord Seaton, who had been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman behind him (Mr. Ellice), there could be no doubt that his experience was of great advantage to the army; and it must be remembered that an officer of such standing, although his years were great, could appeal with peculiar force to what he had seen and done on service, and could afford such advice and information, founded on actual experience, as might be worth, perhaps, a great deal more than the instruction of younger officers, who had not seen the same extent of service. As regarded the increase in the number of staff appointments which had taken place on the close of the war, he imagined that they must have originated in the desire that the array should profit by a continuance of that experience which had been gained in the Crimea. Certainly a great many officers had been so appointed; but they had held very responsible appointments in the Crimea, and it was in order to bring the information which they had thus acquired to bear upon the army generally that he thought those officers had been continued in England. With respect to Aldershot, it was evident that there must be barracks in England. If there were sufficient barrack accommodation to house the troops without it, perhaps there would be no necessity for Aldershot; but as, just previously to the war, we had a very useful camp at Chobham, which had been presided over, and most efficiently taught by Lord Seaton, he thought it to be a great advantage that we should have a similar place now to carry on that same description of instruction, which certainly had proved of very great service in the Crimea.


thought that the House and the country owed a deep debt of gratitude to the hon. and gallant General who had brought this matter under their consideration. They had heard years and years ago all these subjects, of which complaint was now made, reiterated over and over again by the late Mr. Hume usque ad nauseam; but as Mr. Hume was a nonprofessional man nothing had resulted, and the time which had been occupied had been almost wasted. But now that military gentlemen themselves, who perfectly understood the question, and who could speak with authority upon it, had taken it up, he thought that there was some hope that the inconveniences which had been pointed out would be remedied. He regretted to find, however, that those gentlemen seemed to have little hope that that round-about system which had been so deprecated, and which compelled an officer on service when he wanted an article to go through a variety of civil departments before he could obtain it, could be put an end to; because he had thought that one of the objects of the concentration of the departments which had recently taken place was to avoid that "circumbendibus" system from which the army had suffered so much, and that the Secretary of State for War would be able to put an end to it. He thought that the House and the public had a right to have information afforded them as to the mode in which those departments were to be regulated, and he was glad to perceive that that right seemed to be recognized by the Government. He hoped, however, that it would be ultimately found practicable to establish some system, which would enable the different branches of the service to get what they wanted more directly than now, or to point out more distinctly who was to blame if they did not get it. At the same time he fully admitted that there were enormous difficulties in the way of bringing about the required reforms. No one wished the control of the army in a military sense to be brought into the House, because that control properly and constitutionally belonged to the Crown; and it would be probably one of the greatest misfortunes which could befal the army to bring its direction under the control of Parliament. But now that there was an officer of the high standing of a Secretary of State for War in the country, we had a right to expect that he would apply his powerful mind—and there was no one more competent for the task than the noble Lord now at the head of the department if he chose to devote himself to it—to drawing a distinct and intelligible line between the duties of his own office and those of the Commander in Chief, so that the respective branches of the service might clearly understand what their several duties were, and, in case of those duties not being performed, that the House might be able to come down upon those branches where there was default. It was quite impossible for any one who had paid attention to what had passed during the last two or three years not to see that somewhere or other there was a great want of arrangement and management. Almost a quarrel, he was about to say, was going on among the different parties, and perhaps none of them were at fault, but there was a disposition to shove the blame here and there; so that he did not think that anybody was able to say with respect to one single place that there was the fault. That was a state of things which must be most unsatisfactory to the country. That House never grudged large sums of money in the aggregate for the support of the military establishments, and under these circumstances the Government must not be surprised if the country complained, and complained bitterly, on hearing upon one day that officers in the army were not qualified by education for the higher duties of command, and on being told upon another day that such was the confusion existing in the arrangements of the different departments that nothing but bad results could ensue. Hearing such things as these he should not be surprised if the country said, "We are paying large sums of money, but we do not get our money's worth." It only required one powerful mind to arrange these matters and bring them into one harmonious mould. This was effected in other countries and might be done here. He hoped the House would get an assurance from the Government that this was a matter they were not indifferent to.


thought they did not go the right way to form efficient officers, and especially officers of the staff. He observed that in pay and emoluments; aides-de-camp in the field got as much as brigade-majors and adjutant-generals of division, and hon. Members seemed to demur to this statement. He had his evidence in his hand to which he would refer. An assistant adjutant general of division; has, per diem, staff pay, 14s. 3d.; a brigade major of a brigade ditto, 9s. 6d.; an aide-de-camp, 9s. 6d. Now, it is to be considered that by the regulations, a brigade major must be a captain, and that he is probably the hardest-worked staff officer of the three. He also is on the general staff, and does not live with the general, and therefore he pays for his own food. An aide-de-camp may be an ensign of two years' service. He lives with his general, and his keep may fairly be reckoned at 5s. per diem, which added to the staff-pay makes 14s. 6d. per diem, that is 3d. per diem more than the assistant adjutant general, who must be a field officer, and who does not live with his general. The aide-de-camp's duty in our service is to gallop about, carrying messages, whereas the brigade-major has to superintend the formations and keep the rosters, and make the detail of duties, in fact, a most responsible office not to be compared to that of aide-de-camp. He believed he was right in saying that in the French service, before an officer could become an aide-de-camp, he must have served two years in the artillery, two years in the cavalry, and two years in the infantry, and was besides subject to a most severe examination. There was another point to which he wished to refer. He was informed that an officer, who had served during the period of the war in the office of the Minister of War, had retired with a retiring pension of £1,000 for less than two years' service in the department of the Minister for War. At present, being in command of an island, he did not draw his retiring pension, but as soon as he lost that appointment, which would happen in five years, he would draw it. At the same time he found from the Estimates that many an old general officer who had performed distinguished services in the field only got, on retiring, good conduct pay of £100. He could not understand, too, why an officer who sold out of the army to get the advantage of his commission should lose his good-conduct pay, while the officer who remained on half-pay retained it. He also stated that while the army was in the Crimea great evil arose from officers not attending to the duty of keeping the soldiers' pocket ledger in his own hand. It sometimes happened that the regimental books were lost, and then the soldier, on obtaining his charter of liberty, had only to produce his pocket ledger in the handwriting of his officer to get his pay. In ibis respect it were well that the regulations on paper were strictly enforced. Also, the rate with regard to the daily pay of men should be strictly carried out, as otherwise sergeants had a dangerous power of favouritism which tended to produce discontent. The imperative orders were to pay each man daily. The men, it is true, liked accumulations to grow up, so; that they might have more money in hand it once. This was injurious to good discipline, and yet the rule had been systematically violated.


said, I wish, the first place, to say a few words in reference to what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Coventry, though it is not perfectly connected with the main subject of debate, in reference to the subject of barracks. The right hon. Gentleman doubts whether there is not already ample barrack accommodation for the troops stationed in this country. I think he will find on examination that the barrack accommodation is scanty, and if we are to build now barracks, I do not think we could have a better situation than close the ground which affords ample scope or the exercise of the troops. Take the instance of barracks in towns—there would probably be great difficulty in getting ground for the exercise of a single regiment, whereas at Aldershot there is ample space for the exercise of a much larger force than the troops now stationed there. If, unfortunately, we should be engaged in a war involving the defence of the country, the troops at Aldershot would be ready to reinforce the troops engaged in repelling an attack, and their place at Aldershot would be filled up by other troops who would be moved there. The subject brought under consideration by the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) is, undoubtedly, one of great interest and very considerable importance. I think, however, the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not quite aware of the present state of the arrangements with respect to the matters to which he has alluded. He dwelt very much on the confusion existing between the different departments in the early part of the war, as explained by the evidence taken before the Sebastopol Committee. He himself admits, however, that that confusion and the difficulties consequent thereon were remedied in the last year of the war; and the only observation he made on the conduct of the Government at home, with respect to that latter period, was that they had gone from one extreme to another, and that whereas in the earlier period the army was exposed to great suffering and privations from the want of many things necessary to the wellbeing and comfort of the men; in the latter period they were overwhelmed with supplies and comforts more than they wanted. He stated that if that army had had to advance into the interior of the country, and to carry on a war of movement, a great portion of the things they had with them in camp before Sebastopol must have been left behind. In the very next sentence, however, he gave a reason explanatory of that circumstance, because he said no analogy could be drawn between the condition of an army situated as our army before Sebastopol was, carrying on a siege, and not moving, and an army operating in a campaign and moving in the interior of a country from place to place. The Government at home, then, supplied the army according to the nature of the position in which it was placed; and as the army was not moving in campaign, but as it was stationary before Sebastopol, within reach of the sea and its supplies, the Government did furnish it with a great number of conveniences which it would be impossible to supply the army with had the scene of their operations been different or their position other than what it was. The House must recollect that when the war began our military departments were not in a satisfactory state. There were four different authorities—the Secretary for War and the Colonies, who conducted the political part of the arrangements, who determined on expeditions and on the general movements of the army; the Commander in Chief, who had the charge of the discipline of the army; the Secretary at War, who examined the accounts and regulated the finance of the army; and the Master General of the Ordnance, who, so far as regarded the artillery and engineers, combined the functions both of Commander in Chief and Secretary at War. Well, the first thing which was done was to separate the office of Secretary of State for War from that of Secretary of State for the Colonies, and that having been done a distinct department of Secretary of State for War was created. There still remained, however, the office of Secretary at War, under whose superintendence the financial arrangements of the army were placed; the office of Master General of the Ordnance, who performed the duties connected with the artillery and engineer departments; and the office of Commander in Chief, who, in conjunction with the Secretary at War, discharged the rest of the duties connected with the administration of the army. The Ordnance Department was however deprived of its head, the noble Lord who filled that office having been selected as a person of great experience and possessed of high military talents to take the command of the army in the Crimea. The consequence was that the Ordnance was left in a state of comparative inefficiency, inasmuch as the officer who exercised the chief authority in that department was absent, and was necessarily succeeded by officers who possessed a more limited control. That circumstance I think accounts satisfactorily for all those difficulties and embarrassments which occurred during the earlier stages of the war. I may also add that the Secretary of State for War had a new department to create, and that while that department was in progress of arrangement it was extremely difficult to deal efficiently with those various important questions in relation to the administration of the service which constantly arose. When my noble Friend Lord Panmure succeeded to the office, those arrangements were altered. The office of Secretary at War, which was vacated, much to my regret, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, was attached to the office of Secretary of State for War; the office of Master General of the Ordnance was abolished, and the duties connected with the Ordnance were handed over to the Commander in Chief, so far as related to the discipline of the corps of artillery and engineers, while its financial duties were transferred to the Department for War. Instead of four departments there now remained only two; and these two combine all the functions which were previously performed by the four, the result being great simplification in the transaction of the various duties connected with the army and increased efficiency and expedition in the performance of those duties. Well, the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon and those who have followed him upon the other side of the House have dwelt very much upon the expediency of establishing some distinct and positive line of separation between the duties which are discharged by the Secretary for War and those which are performed by the Commander in Chief; but I cannot help thinking that those who are at all accustomed to the administration of affairs must know that in the case of departments which are in their nature far more distinct than those of Commander in Chief and Secretary for War there constantly arises the necessity for communication between the one and the other and a mutual dependence one upon the other, in order that the public service may be efficiently carried on; and though a line of separation may be drawn as clearly and as distinctly as it can be drawn, yet you will find that the one department must from time to time avail itself of the assistance of the other. I may also state that we live in a country which is governed by Parliamentary arrangement, and it becomes therefore essentially necessary that no act of the Crown should be done in reference to which there should not be some responsible adviser who would be responsible and ready to explain to Parliament the reason why a particular line of policy was pursued. That being the case, it becomes at once perfectly evident that you cannot build up between the office of Secretary for War and that of the Commander in Chief a wall of brass which would entirely separate the two, rendering all communication between them, in matters in which either is concerned, impossible. The fundamental distinction between the two offices is, that the Secretary of State for War is responsible for everything relating to the political and financial arrangements of the army, while the Commander in Chief is primarily responsible for all which has reference to the discipline and promotion of the troops. It would, however, be a matter of impossibility to provide that those two heads of departments should not, without injury to the public service, hold constant personal communication with one another upon points which are intimately connected with their respective offices. The Commander in Chief, for instance, whenever anything occurs bearing upon the discharge of his own proper functions which becomes the subject of public comment, may derive considerable advantage from communication with the Secretary for War, and is undoubtedly entitled to take that course, just as any person in a particular administration is entitled to hold communication with a colleague even upon a point relating almost exclusively to his own particular department, but which may become matter of discussion, and with respect to which he may he able to obtain from his colleague assistance and advice which may be of considerable advantage to him in dealing with the question. In the same manner, when the Secretary for War wishes to carry out any particular arrangements with respect to the political affairs of the army, the employment of the troops or the financial administration of the army, he naturally communicates with the Commander in Chief, for the purpose of ascertaining how these arrangements might most advantageously be carried into effect. Draw, therefore, as you will upon paper any positive line of distinction between the officers in question, it is impossible that you can do so without interfering with that harmonious and confidential intercourse between the two, without which the military service cannot be efficiently administered. I am happy to be able to say that such is the nature of the communication which now subsists between my noble Friend at the head of the War Department and the illustrious Prince who holds the office of Commander in Chief. Nothing, indeed, can be more completely harmonious and confidential than their intercourse. Then, again, there is another principle which lies at the bottom of many of the difficulties which were experienced in the Crimea—of many of those difficulties which the hon. and gallant General the Member for Huntingdon represents as still continuing, although in a less degree, and which it is impossible altogether to overcome. The principle to which I allude is this—that in a great service like that of the army, in connection with which immense expense is incurred, and a great amount of stores and material of all sorts has to be provided, there must be a check placed upon the application of the money which may be voted for those purposes, and some means of ascertaining that it has been devoted to the accomplishment of the objects for which it was granted. In order to establish that check those accounts must be founded upon requisitions and receipts, because no system can be satisfactory in a financial point of view which dispenses with those written documents, the inspection of which alone will satisfy those before whom the military accounts are laid that the money voted has been properly laid out and the stores purchased applied to the vises to which Parliament intended that the should be directed. The hon. and gallant Officer the Member for Huntingdon says that each department ought to be complete in itself, and should possess entire control over everything which appertains to the functions which it is intended to perform. Now, I at once admit that it is quite natural that those officers who were examined before the Chelsea Commission and the Sebastopol Committee should have given expression to that opinion, inasmuch as they no doubt thought it expedient that that which they desired to do they should be enabled themselves to accomplish, and that they should be the sole judges of what the requirements of their particular departments really were. The hon. and gallant Officer, if I understand him rightly, endeavoured to show the inconvenience of a contrary state of things by a reference to the Army Medical Department, who, in case they wanted to send out medical stores and comforts, are compelled to apply to the Admiralty for a transport, instead of being in a position to go into the market and hire one upon their own account. I think, however, the House must see that if the power to do that were given to the Army Medical Department the whole service would be thrown into confusion, and everything like classification in that service would be thrown overboard. Now, there is, in my opinion, no principle which it is more essential to maintain than that which enables us to classify the duties of the respective military departments. The Admiralty is the department whose duty it is to provide transports, and if the Army Medical Board require a vessel they must apply to the Admiralty. But, if that Board and all the other departments were at liberty to go into the market to bid for transports against the Admiralty, the result would be that the price of the vessels would be raised, and that great additional expense would be entailed upon the country, and the fruit of this system would be inextricable confusion. Now, my noble Friend the Secretary for War has effected an arrangement which tends very much, if not completely, to obviate many of those inconveniences to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon has referred. He has, for instance, established a separate storekeeper's department; and, therefore, as was the case during the latter period of the Crimean war—the Quartermaster General or any other officer wanting certain stores is enabled to make a requisition to that effect to the Storekeeper General at any particular station, whose duty it is to take immediate steps either to issue the stores asked for, if he has them, or to provide them in case they should not be at the time in his possession. That officer, I may add, is responsible for the care and the distribution of those stores; and the military officer in need of them has nothing to do but to make application to be supplied with them in the manner which have just described. The House then, I trust, will perceive that it is exceedingly difficult to draw that complete line of separation between particular departments which some hon. Gentlemen wish to see established. My noble Friend, I may farther state, is engaged, in concert with the Commander in Chief, in endeavouring to carry out the various arrangements which are necessary, in order to render, as complete as it is possible to make it, the distribution of business between the departments over which they preside. It was stated—I think by my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry—that the Commander in Chief within the last few days seemed to have some hesitation in stating with whom it rested to make certain arrangements in connection with the subject of education in the army. Now, I may in reply to that observation remark that such hesitation was the natural result of the present state of the question. A council has been appointed, of which the Commander in Chief is the president, for the purpose of preparing a plan for the education of officers. That plan has not yet been completed, and upon its completion must of course depend the decision of the question with whom the arrangements with respect to military education rest. Now, the manner in which aides-de-camp are appointed in our army has been very much dwelt upon by the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Trelawny), and the example of foreign armies has been referred to in order to show that officers are not appointed to the post of aide-de-camp abroad unless they have previously done duty in different departments of the service. It ought, however, to be borne in mind that an Order was recently issued under the operation of which no officer can, after the expiration of this year, be appointed aide-de-camp unless he has previously passed an examination showing that he possesses a competent knowledge of those different branches of the service which relate to the duties which in his new position he may be called upon to discharge. I quite concur with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire in the opinion that it is undesirable that matters connected with the discipline of the army should be discussed in this House, because, as he very properly remarked, the result must be the adoption of a course exceedingly inconvenient with regard to the conduct of the business of the House, and calculated to prove very detrimental to the discipline of the army. It is, however, impossible so to limit discussion in this assembly that questions should not now and then arise in reference to the administration of the army, with respect to which it would be desirable that somebody here should be in a position to give an explanation. Now, the Commander in Chief has not a seat in this House, nor is he represented here by any officer belonging to his particular department. The representative of the War Department among us is my hon. Friend the Under Secretary, whose chief sits in the other House of Parliament; and in order that they should be enabled to satisfy their respective Houses that any subject which might be brought forward for discussion was one with which neither House ought to deal, or that no injustice had been committed in a particular instance which some noble Lord or hon. Member might deem it to be his duty to bring before Parliament on the ground that a grievance in connection with it existed—in order, I repeat, that they should be enabled to give the necessary information upon those points, it is necessary that they should be in constant and confidential communication with the Commander in Chief. There is no document at present which could be laid before the House which would meet the views of the hon. and gallant Officer the Member for Huntingdon; but if in the course of the arrangements which are being carried into effect between my noble Friend the Secretary for War and the Commander in Chief it should be found practicable to frame any single document that would answer the hon. and gallant Officer's purpose, there will, of course, not be the slightest difficulty in laying it upon the table of the House. With respect to the duties of the different military departments, I apprehend the gallant Officer must be aware that the "book of Regulations for the Army" contains all these directions in relation to the duties of those departments which would enable officers to acquire all the necessary information upon that head. I can only say in conclusion, that in my opinion, in a constitutional country like this—with a Parliament which has a right to inquire into all those transactions in connection with the army in regard to which its Members may not think that the Crown has been properly advised, and which will exercise that right—it would be absolutely impossible to draw an impassable line of distinction between the two departments now particularly under our notice, or to lay it down as a strict rule that the chief of either department should not confer with the head of the other upon a matter intimately connected with the efficient administration of both. The good of the service requires that the most harmonious co-operation should subsist between the two, and I must repeat that such co-operation never existed in a higher degree than at the present moment between my noble Friend the Secretary for War and His Royal Highness the Commander in Chief.


said, that the present discussion must recall to the minds of those who had watched the progress of events since the commencement of the war in the Crimea, as well as the debates of the last two or three years, the power and foresight by which the speeches delivered by Earl Grey in another place were characterized. The warning, it was true, which those speeches conveyed had been disregarded; but as time rolled on that House and the country must have felt how great were the advantages which might have been secured if the advice of that noble Lord had been taken. He would not trespass upon the time of the House by reading extracts from the speeches of the noble Earl, but in order to show how completely his prophecies had been fulfilled he (Mr. Stafford) should recommend to the serious attention of the House the speeches which the noble Lord had made, not only when Secretary for War—during which time he had rendered more essential service to the army than, perhaps, any other person who had filled that office—but from the first outbreak of hostilities with Russia until the close of last Session. Having paid that tribute to the noble Earl, he might say that it had for some time been evident that dissatisfaction prevailed in military quarters with respect to the working of the War-office and the Horse Guards. It was complained that with the present divided authority—an authority from post to pillar, if he might use the term—it was impossible to ascertain to which department the responsibility of a particular act attached. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had most justly observed that confidential communication ought to exist between two Members of different departments; that communication, for instance, must be permitted to subsist between the Admiralty and the War-office; but it was in his (Mr. Stafford's) opinion extremely desirable that, while such was the case, the public at large should be in a position to know at whose door the responsibility of a particular act was to be laid. The noble Lord had also stated that, while the Secretary of State for War had had the political and financial departments of the administration of the army under his control, that department which related to promotion and discipline was under the direction of the commander in chief; but, so far as ho (Mr. Stafford) could learn from the tone of the debate, some hon. Members entertained, in reference to the latter point; opinions somewhat at variance from those to which the noble Lord had given expression. He had, however, risen chiefly for the purpose of correcting what appeared to him to be a misrepresentation upon the part of the noble Lord upon some remarks which had fallen from his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon. The remarks to which he alluded referred to the medical department of the army, and the noble Lord had mistaken the meaning of his hon. and gallant Friend in supposing that he intended to propose that the Director General of the medical department should be invested with powers to go into the market and freight a vessel for himself with those drugs and medical comforts which he might deem it expedient to send out to our army when engaged in a foreign country. What his hon. and gallant Friend desired—and he (Mr. Stafford) thought very justly—was, that a transport for the conveyance of drugs and medical comforts for the army should be placed at the disposal of the Director General of the medical department when such drugs might constitute mainly the cargo of the vessel. In illustration of the advantages which might result from the adoption of that suggestion, he might remind the House that a vessel having on board the medical comforts of the army had during the late war been sent out to Scutari, but that a large supply of shot and shell having been placed over those articles, the vessel was unable to unship them at Scutari, and the result had been that they had been subsequently completely lost in the Black Sea. Now, if a different arrangement had been, and if the medical department had been allowed to freight a vessel of their own, so serious a disaster would not in all probability have occurred. If the Government were to say to the Director General that they were ready to place a vessel at his disposal, which he might send out upon his own responsibility, with his own supercargo, and under the obligation of immediately reporting its arrival at its destination, the result might be found to be extremely satisfactory, while, at all events, the system was one entirely different from that of allowing the Director General to go into the market himself for the purpose of hiring a vessel. He could not resume his seat without stating that he had never heard the noble Lord address the House upon the subject of army reform that he did not feel that the heart of the noble Lord was in the service. How those who were more immediately connected with the War Department might obstruct the noble Lord in carrying out his views he could not say, but he felt assured that for any improvements in the administration of the army which had taken place the country was mainly indebted to the noble Lord's exertions.


said, the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Trelawny) had mentioned the case of an officer who had lately retired upon a pension of £1,000. From the description the hon. Baronet had given, he presumed he alluded to Colonel Mundy, who had received the appointment of Governor of the island of Jersey. He hoped the Under Secretary for War would explain whether Colonel Mundy had had that pension conferred upon him, and, if so, by whose authority it had been conferred.


hoped that the Government would not assent to the proposal of the hon. Member (Mr. Stafford) to place a transport at the service of the medical department. The truth was, that all the evils they had had to deplore during the late war were caused by the meddling of departments; whereas, the proper course would have been for those departments to report to the Admiralty what they wanted, and to leave to the Admiralty the responsibility of shipping and delivering the stores they required. Suppose, when the soldiers were dying for want of medicine, a ship freighted with drugs alone were to be lost. The proper course was to send out medical comforts as they were required, and not to run the risk of sending out a shipload of them, as the hon. Gentleman had recommended.


said, he must complain that the observations he had made on a former night relative to the camp at Aldershot had been misrepresented by the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He begged to say, that he quite approved of the purchase of Aldershot, while as to the pecuniary part of the question, he was willing to take the word of the noble Lord. Neither did he object to the massing of troops during the summer months. What he objected to was, that what was intended to be a camp should become a military town, for if once the Government began to build large barracks, they would do away with the original intention of the establishment of Aldershot. At present, it was by no means a practical camp, but was more like a squatters' village, and soldiers had no opportunity of learning field duties there. It had been drained and improved by contract, and the soldiers had not turned a sod, with the exception of some field works, which, in the first instance, he had thought were executed by contract, but which he had since found were partially made by some regiments of militia. The other night a letter was read from a gallant general with regard to the teaching of military drawing and the like; but it had struck him as surprising, that only six officers should attend the classes. He had been informed that six applications had been made from one regiment, and that they had been declined. Two of the regiments were about to be sent under canvass to another part of the heath; but a body of engineers had been sent to dig wells and to prepare the ground for them. In short, the whole system of Aldershot was one of parade rather than of practice. With regard to the responsibility and duties of the various military departments, he thought the army greatly indebted to the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), for having introduced that subject to the attention of the House; and he hoped the noble Lord at the head of the War Department, and the Under Secretary for War, would take steps to remove the want of harmony which now existed, and that such a reform would be introduced in our military system as would ensure to all ranks and classes, from the general to the soldier, equal chances of success in the profession they had made their choice. He did not mean to attack individuals, when he spoke of a system which had been engrafted on our military system, and had at last become really part and parcel of it—he meant the system of favouritism. Until that was abolished, he believed there was no hope of introducing any method of education into the army, or encouraging our officers and men to strive to improve themselves in the different branches of their profession. When a man knew that it was connection, not competency, which ensured success, he would not struggle. The time had arrived when reforms were about to be introduced into our military system, and he hoped that, among other things, this subject would be taken into consideration, and that in future we should find that all the ranks in the army had an equal chance of promotion according to their merits.


said, that he had thought, after the full and able statement of General Knollys, which had been read to the House the other night, that an Aldershot discussion was at an end for the present, and had felt that it would have been presumptuous in him to have offered any remarks in corroboration of a Report upon such a subject from such a quarter. But as the matter had been again alluded to this evening, and he (Colonel Gilpin) had had the command of a militia regiment at Aldershot for five or six months, he would briefly mention a few facts which had come under his observation whilst he was there. So far from being a camp of luxury and indolence, military instruction and drill were always going on. In addition to the usual parades, and weather permitting, there were two field-days a week. The men, both of the militia and the line, were constantly practised in cooking their breakfast and dinner in the field, in route marching, outpost duty, brigade evolutions, and pontooning. Some of the men were placed under the Engineers' department to learn the construction of military bridges and other such duties. The soldiers had not only, when he was there, to pitch and strike their tents, but to occupy them too at a not very agreeable season in the year. With respect to the supply of water, if wells were required to be sunk, the Engineer department would have been the proper department to sink them; but no assistance was rendered by them, and the troops obtained water from the canal, and filtered it for their own use. It was true, the men were not engaged in field-works, but it was because they could not find time for field-works. The regiments being all newly raised, the men had to go through an extra quantity of drill; as many as 1,000 men were then engaged in filling ruts and levelling the ground. All that could be done was done. A more painstaking and efficient officer than General Knollys could not be found in the Queen's service, and it was perfectly marvellous to see what he did with the raw recruits, whom he turned, as if by magic, into good troops. He (Colonel Gilpin) was one of those who were responsible for the purchase of Aldershot, and he believed that there never was a better investment of the public money. For strategic purposes, he believed it was well selected, and for military purposes it was perfect. It contained a great extent and variety of ground—hill and dale, wood and water, and he felt some surprise at the objections now urged, when he remembered how the Government, night after night were urged, to get some place in which large bodies of men could be moved together. But then it was said, Aldershot was disagreeable, and that the men disliked it and deserted. Now, the place was notorious for its sanitary advantages, and, as to desertion, he could only say, that during the five or six months his regiment was at Aldershot he had not lost a single man by desertion from the ranks. A great deal of volunteering was going on into the line, for his men said, if they were to do the work of the line, they might as well have its advantages. If he had been in the House, he should have supported the Vote asked for by the Government, for so far from being a failure, Aldershot had been in many respects preeminently successful.


said, that there were unfortunately a great many petty offences committed in the neighbourhood of a camp; and the country naturally complained of the expense incurred in conveying the delinquents to and from the county gaol. He would ask, therefore, if it were the intention of the Government to establish a prison or bridewell in the neighbourhood of the Curragh camp?


said, that with respect to certain reports having reference to the site of Netley Hospital, and the alleged defects in the mode of ventilating that establishment, it would be better, if those reports were well founded, to abandon the scheme, notwithstanding the money that had been expended upon it.


said, he wished to inquire whether the Government intended to act upon the Report of the Commissioners, who recommended that free places in Woolwich should be given to the two candidates who stood first at each entrance examination, and that the two next should pay only half the contribution which would otherwise be required from them? The adoption of that recommendation would encourage emulation, and thereby raise the standard of education. He would also ask whether any provision to carry it out would be made in the Estimates of this year?


said, the question put to him by the hon. Member for Tavistock (Sir J. Trelawny) related to the case of a gallant officer who had been civilly employed under the War Department, and was now governor of one of the dependencies of the Crown. The hon. Baronet asked what amount of pension that gallant officer would be entitled to at the end of his five years' service as governor; but he (Sir J. Ramsden) could not at present state what the exact amount would be. If, however, the hon. Baronet would repeat his question another time, he would take care to supply him with full information on the subject. With reference to the remarks of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford), he hoped there was now no fear, under present arrangements, of the inconvenience to which the hon. Member had alluded again occurring. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the recommendation that the Director General of the Medical Department should have a transport under his authority for the special conveyance of medical stores. The omission of that provision might, and he believed did, lead to great inconvenience when the departments were divided into so many different heads. But now that they were brought together under one authority he thought there was not that danger, because it was naturally the duty of the Storekeeper General to consider what stores had to be sent out, and he would have to arrange with the Admiralty how the different transports should be loaded. There would not, therefore, be a danger of any omission such as there was when so many Boards had to be consulted before a conclusion was arrived at. As to the question of the noble Lord the Member for Cockermouth (Lord Naas) with regard to the Curragh camp, it was not the intention of the Government to establish a military prison in its neighbourhood. They believed that the existing arrangements were sufficient, and for this reason, that they intended to keep the Curragh as a camp of instruction for the summer only. Therefore there would not be that necessity to provide for the custody of offenders which would exist if the camp were kept open all the year round. With respect to the question of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster on the subject of Netley Hospital, he could assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that there was no intention whatever on the part of Government to abandon the building. There was every reason to hope that there was no foundation for the rumour that the situation was an unhealthy one owing to the amount of land that was left bare at low tide. On the contrary, a meeting had been held of the medical body in Southampton, and they had drawn up a report favourable to the locality. With respect to the report that the windows opened on a corridor instead of upon the open air, and thus rendered the wards unhealthy, he was informed that there were windows at either end of the wards, and that one opened on the corridor and the other into the open air. To the question of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Butt), whether it was intended to act upon the report of the commissioners of inquiry, recommending that free places in Woolwich should be given to the two who stood first at each entrance examination, and that the two next should only pay half contributions, he had to reply that it was not the intention of the Government to give effect to that recommendation, and their reason was, that they considered the prize which was held out to candidates to offer themselves for examination was already quite sufficient. That prize was, that, if they passed a good examination, they would in course of time obtain free commissions in the artillery or engineers.


said, that he would revert to the subject of Netley Hospital, as he wished to observe, that although it might be the opinion of the medical men of Southampton that the situation was salubrious, the medical men of other districts might entertain a different opinion, and think that, though it was a salubrious place, it was not the most salubrious. But as these reports had been very extensively circulated, and were likely to be productive of very great injury to the patients, through the fears which such reports excited, he would venture to suggest to the Government that it would be by no means a bad thing if they sent down certain of their military physicians to make a report as to the salubrity of the site in question.


was understood to state that the system of ventilation introduced at Guy's Hospital had been found to answer exceedingly well.


said, he would beg to call the attention of the Government to the injustice which he conceived was done to those officers who were compulsorily placed on half pay. It was the system at present to put them on the regiment again at the bottom of the list; whereas he thought it would be no more than fair that those who had served and been forced into half pay against their will should be replaced in the regiment in the same position they would have filled had they continued in the service.


said, he wished to observe, with reference to the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Vivian), that well-digging was a distinct calling, and was not unattended with danger to those who did not understand it. He thought, therefore, that it was quite right that the task of forming them should be entrusted to the sappers and miners. With regard to the classes for instruction in military surveying, there were already twelve officers at Aldershot engaged in teaching that, but he would recommend the Under Secretary for War to increase their number, as the applications for instruction in that branch of education were more numerous than could be attended to. The suggestion to establish a camp at Aldershot proceeded from the late Lord Hardinge, who thought it was a very good position from which to despatch troops to various parts of the coast in case of attack.


wished to know if the civil establishments of the army were under regulation or not. On the 6th of June, 1855, an Order in Council for regulating them was adopted, and laid upon the table of the House; but he had some reason to believe that that scheme had been revoked and another substituted for it by another Order in Council which had never been furnished to the House.


had heard much of the great difficulties connected with the civil departments of the army. Those difficulties, he understood, arose from the circumstance that there was no definition of the responsibility which rested upon the heads of the different departments; and there were no means by which the House could ascertain who was responsible for the performance of the duties of the several establishments connected with the civil service of the army. He hoped that before long the noble Lord would be in a position to furnish the House with the details of the contemplated scheme, so that hon. Members who took an interest in the service might know upon whom the responsibility for those establishments rested.

Subject dropped.