§ House in Committee; Mr. FITZROY in the chair.
§ (1.) 126,796 Men.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
said, that, in proceeding with the Motion that stood in his name on the subject of the Army Estimates, it was not his intention, as the Committee were aware, to invite them to 2250 agree to the whole of the sums which the Government computed would be required to carry on the service of the army throughout the ensuing financial year. Having regard to the circumstances in which the Government and the House were placed, and following the precedent set in the case of the Navy Estimates, it would be sufficient if the Committee voted money enough to cover the payments likely to fall due in the course of the next four months. As the major part of each Vote would have to be submitted to the ensuing Parliament, and as even the money now to be voted on account would have to be re-voted in the succeeding House of Commons, he should best consult the convenience of the Committee by not anticipating the discussions and explanations which were sure to arise when the Estimates were again brought forward hereafter, and by abstaining, therefore, from now entering into any details with regard to the various items and services comprised in those Estimates. With respect, however, to the number of men, which formed the first Vote, he was under the necessity of pursuing a different course. Of course the numbers were the same whether the Estimates were voted for four months or for the entire year. The number of men which he should propose to ask the Committee to sanction for the ensuing year was 126,796. Last year the number voted was 246,716, so that there was a reduction this year in round numbers of 120,000 men upon all the various branches of military service which formed the land force of the country. The reduction in the Guards and Infantry was 78,510, the number proposed this year being 84,063 against 162,573 voted last year. This reduction was effected by voting a diminution of the rank and file of the various regiments. Last year the average strength of the regiments in the Crimea was 2,000 men, and the average strength of all other regiments of the line, except those in the East Indies, was 1,200 men. This year the average strength of each regiment, not counting those in the East Indies, would be 840 men. In the Cavalry there would be a reduction of 7,495 men, 9,325 men being asked this year, against 16,820 voted last year. This reduction was effected by diminishing the number of troops in each regiment from 8 to 6, and the number of men in each regiment from 640 to 350. In the Artillery and Engineers there was a reduction of from 28,221, of 2251 all ranks, to 21,924, and in the Military Train and Hospital Corps there was a reduction of 8,191 men. The Foreign Legions, consisting of 21,719 men, which had been disbanded in the course of last autumn, completed the total of the reduction. No doubt it would be asked whether a real reduction had been effected during the last twelve months to the extent of 120,000 men! The numbers proposed this year were certainly less by 120,000 men than the numbers voted last year, but it did not follow that that number of effective men had been discharged in the course of the year. In the case of the Foreign Legion and the Land Transport Corps 30,000 men had been discharged, and that left a reduction of 90,000 to be accounted for. The number which was voted last year for the Guards and Cavalry was 173,000, but the effective force never really reached that strength. He believed the army was at its strongest about the month of April last year, at which time there were 129,857 men, or 48,650 below the establishment. Consequently, they had had to deal with 42,355 Guards, Cavalry, and Infantry. Between that time and the 1st of February, this year, 20,000 men had been discharged, and there now remained 22,361 to be discharged in order to bring down the effective force to the strength which he proposed to vote for next year. That number included the two regiments of Cavalry which were brought from India in the course of the war, and which, on the termination of the war, had been replaced on the Indian establishment. This would account for a diminution in the number mentioned of about 1360, leaving 21,000 still to be dealt with. He anticipated that between the 1st of February last, which was the period when his return was taken, and the commencement of the ensuing financial year, the War Office would have been able, by various means—either because the men were unfit for the service, were themselves desirous of leaving it and could be spared, or of bad or indifferent character—to discharge from 10,000 to 12,000 more. There would, therefore, only remain about 9,000 effective men over the establishment which he now proposed should be voted for next year. With regard to that 9,000 men, the course which would be taken was this. He had lately been furnished with a return of the losses to the army in men for ten years ending in the year 1853, and it appeared from that return that 2252 upon the whole strength of the Infantry and Cavalry, which during those ten years amounted to 121,532, there was an annual loss arising from deaths, discharges, and desertions, of 12,700 men, or at the rate of 1,000 a month. Now, if the army were at once reduced to the actual strength proposed to be voted, they would have to meet a monthly loss of about 1,000 men; and to do this, they would be under the necessity of commencing to recruit in order to supply the vacancies thus continually occurring. Of course there was very considerable expense attendant upon filling up vacancies in the ranks by means of recruitment, for every recruit had to be provided with a kit, besides his bounty, in case of being a new soldier. Instead, therefore, of taking that course, recruiting had been entirely suspended, and these 9,000 men were to be kept as a sort of reserve upon which to draw for the number that would be required to fill up the vacancies as they occurred; thus in about six or nine months the army would be reduced, in the case of the Guards, Cavalry, and Infantry, to the strength which it was now proposed should be voted; but for the remainder of the year it would, of course, be necessary again to have recourse to recruiting for the purpose of keeping the effective strength up to the requisite number. With regard to the Artillery and Engineers, they did not at present exceed by more than 2,000 men the number proposed to be voted, and these would be reduced before the commencement of the financial year. For the reasons he had already stated he would not enter into further details, but move that the number of men for the ensuing financial year should be a number not exceeding 126,796.
said he felt it to be his duty to rise at the earliest opportunity and express in the strongest manner his deep regret at having ascertained—he feared beyond the possibility of a doubt—that the suggestions which had been made by the Select Committee over which he had had the honour of presiding last Session with regard to a most important class of army officers—he meant the medical officers—had not been at all attended to, and that the position of those gentlemen in the service was now exactly what it was when that Committee first met, and the war began. Yet one of the first notices which were given by the Government when they acceded to office was, that the medical department of the army should engage 2253 their particular care—and, indeed, the noble Viscount the Prime Minister himself stated that a modification of that department was in contemplation. The Committee on the Army Medical Department differed from the suggestion which was then made by the noble Viscount, and recommended that the management of that department should be, as now, in the hands of one individual, and not of a board, as was suggested by the noble Lord. He (Mr. Stafford) had always stated, and again desired to state, that it must be to the latest moment of the noble Lord's life a proud gratification and an honest pleasure to him to reflect on the state in which he had left the army of the East; and no praise could be too high and no eulogy too warm, neither ought any party feeling to induce hon. Gentlemen to withhold the expression of that praise and eulogy for the manner in which army reform had been carried out, and the comfort of the soldier established under the noble Lord's Government. It was with all the more regret, therefore, that he feared, from what was going on, or rather from what was not going on, now that the popular enthusiasm in favour of the soldier had somewhat cooled down, and other topics of pressing interest engrossed the public mind, that the Government found themselves in the position of being obliged to say, with regard to army medical reform,—"We have dismissed your case. The tide of economy is setting in. All we have promised you, we are unable to perform; and because you are not aristocratically connected, and possess no Parliamentary influence, but are a scattered and disjointed body, you must not expect us to do any more for you." Of course, the state of suspense in which the Army Medical department had been kept for nearly two years had called forth from every one of these gentlemen feelings of disappointment, vexation, and disinclination to continue longer in the service. What they asked was this—and he was authorized by all those with whom he had been in communication to say it—"Tell us one thing or another. Tell us that you are going to do either something or nothing for us; for at present all promotion is stopped except in cases of death." Very few would enter the service; but none wished to retire from it until they knew what arrangements were to be made. In fact, the medical department of the army was in a worse—that was, in a more 2254 unsatisfactory—state than if promises had never been held out, or if reform had never been suggested, and if the Government had never consented to the appointment of a Committee. For it was that consent which obtained the appointment of the Committee by the unanimous vote of this House; but it ought never to have been given, and on other subjects had been frequently withheld by them from fear of raising hopes which might be followed by disappointment. If they believed, as they had often expressed, and as he firmly believed they could not express too strongly, that the bravery of the British soldier, his fortitude, his discipline, his good conduct, rendered his life and comfort very precious; and if, as had been observed by the noble Lord, the system of free enlistment, and the absence of conscription, as the only means which existed in this country of filling up the gaps created in the ranks of the army, rendered that life more valuable still, then he would ask the Government by every remembrance of Crimean difficulties, and by every recollection of Crimean glories, to see to it that the medical department of the army was supplied with the most promising young men, and that the scale of pay was sufficient to attract them to the service. As these matters stood at present, the East India Company, the large steam-packet establishments, the requirements of the colonies, and of an increasing population, drew from the army medical profession many men of ability. He (Mr. Stafford) protested against any longer procrastination in this matter; and he asked his hon. Friend now, before he took a vote in Committee, or else on the report of the Resolutions, to state what the intentions of the Government were; whether they intended doing anything or nothing for the Army Medical department; and so let this deserving and honourable class of persons know definitely and finally what their destiny was to be.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, that he fully concurred in the opinions expressed by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. No department had been more exposed to difficulty in the Crimea than the Medical department of the army, and he trusted that when the Army Estimates came before the next Parliament, some general statement would be made in reference to that department. For the sake of the efficiency of the army before the enemy, it was important that the utmost attention should be paid to the state of the medical department. 2255 In reference to another department—the Commissariat—the discussion which had taken place had brought to the painful recollection of the House that that branch had been almost entirely neglected before the recent war, and the Government should now give it at least so much consideration as would prevent it from relapsing into the same condition. Public attention had been drawn to this subject very much, and he had seen in an extremely sensible work, published by a Commissariat Officer, the suggestion that, instead of being a civil department, the Commissariat, with the exception of the accountant branch, should be altogether military. Such was the case in India; and in respect to his division in the Crimea great advantage was derived from the assistance for commissariat purposes of two or three military officers, who, however, could not continue that aid when their division came before the enemy. He ventured to hope that the Government would take this point under consideration before the meeting of next Parliament. With respect to the Transport Corps, it seemed objectionable that that should be totally independent of the Commissariat, for what the Commissariat were to do without the Transport Corps he did not know. He thought that the case of the non-commissioned officers who had received commissions and were now reduced called for liberal consideration. With respect to the number of men required for the army, he deemed it was the duty of the executive Government to propose the amount on their own responsibility. He remembered it was stated at the beginning of the last war that, if the army was insufficient, that was more the fault of the House of Commons than of the executive Government. He demurred to such a statement, for he hardly recollected any proposition made by the Government as to the numerical force of the army being altered by that House; and unquestionably the executive Government must possess the best information as to the probability of a greater or less force being required. He believed the numerical force of the army, except with regard to the artillery and engineers, was nearly the same as in 1853, but the expenditure was considerably greater, and the question was whether due economy had been observed in all the departments. He was afraid there had been some extravagance with respect to the Staff; but the only mode of reconciling economy with efficiency was by 2256 restricting all dispensable services. He hoped this point would receive the consideration of the Government, and that measures would be taken for improving the Commissariat department, which he thought was not in a satisfactory state.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, that the Committee of which he was a member had recommended that an extra-assistant surgeon should be appointed to every regiment; for it was found that, as there was only one assistant-surgeon to each regiment, not only was it impossible for the surgeon and his assistant to discharge their duties efficiently, but those officers were unable to obtain leave of absence. If from sickness, or any other pressing cause, the medical officers were compelled to absent themselves from their regiments for any length of time, they were obliged, at their own cost, to provide for the medical charge of the troops during their absence. He believed the Duke of Cambridge had expressed a decided opinion that an extra assistant-surgeon should be appointed to every regiment, and that medical officers ought to receive leave of absence on the same scale as the other officers. At the commencement of the late war there was no department of the army in which there was so marked a deficiency as the Medical department. After the battle of the Alma the wounded remained on the field for at least twenty-four hours before they received medical attention, owing to the want of a sufficient number of medical officers. He thought that, in whatever deportments of the army reductions were effected, there ought to be no diminution in the number of regimental medical officers.
said, he was a member of the Committee referred to by the hon. Baronet, which was most fairly constituted, and which had recommended an increase of pay to medical officers of the army; and he hoped the Under Secretary for War would be enabled, when the Report of Supply was brought up, to state whether the Government intended to take any steps to carry out the recommendations of the Committe with regard to a most meritorious class of officers of the army.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
could assure the Committee that the state of the Medical department of the army continued to receive the attention of the Government. He had himself been a member of the Committee, but he did not remember that 2257 they recommended the employment of an increased number of medical officers. If that were the case, however, the Government had carried out their recommendation; for there had not only been an increase in the number of surgeons attached to infantry regiments, but there had also been a very large increase in the medical staff. Comparing the expenditure for the medical staff of Great Britain and Ireland in 1852, 1853, and 1854, with what it was at present, it would be found there had been an increase amounting to about £40,000 a year. The hon. and gallant General (Sir De L. Evans) had stated, that although the number of infantry was now less than it was before the war, the expenditure for that branch of the service had increased. There was undoubtedly an increased charge, which was attributable to the fact that, although the number of rank and file was less than in 1852 and 1853, a larger number of officers and non-commissioned officers was retained, in consequence of the change in the constitution and organization of regiments. Before the late war each regiment consisted of only ten companies, but in 1854, on the proposition of the right hon. Member for South Wilts (Mr. S. Herbert), the number of companies in each regiment was increased from ten to twelve. The right hon. Gentleman urged that that should be a permanent increase, and the recommendation was concurred in by the late Mr. Hume. The retention of the extra companies and the additions to the rifle corps occasioned the increased expenditure to which the gallant Officer referred.
said, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Peel) had not given an answer to his question. He had not stated what were the intentions of the Government with regard to the Medical Department of the Army. He hoped he would give some information on bringing up the Report.
§ SIR WILLIAM CODRINGTON
said, he was glad to hear that the reductions of the army would be carried out in such a manner as not to deprive the country of the services of good and established soldiers. Considerable reductions had been effected since the war, but the men discharged were generally those of weak health, of indifferent character, or whose term of service had nearly expired. He had feared that they were also going to discharge some 8,000 or 9,000 men whom he regarded as the pith of the army, but he was glad to hear that the Government would not adopt such a step without further 2258 consideration. With regard to the regimental medical officers, he could assure the Committee that they were not adequately rewarded for their services. He knew many of them who had served during the whole war with the army in the East, who had encountered what he might term all the medical difficulties besides the war difficulties, who had grappled with the cholera in Bulgaria, who had subsequently attended the army in the Crimea, who had discharged arduous duties on battlefields and in the trenches, but who now remained at home without reward, promotion, or distinction of any sort. He wished strongly to impress upon the Government the importance of providing an efficient military train. If during the war with Russia there was one corps whose deficiency was commented on more strongly than another, it was the absence of a land transport and military train. The evils which befell the army in the Crimea were all attributable to an entire want of any organization of a military train. He was afraid that this corps were to be reduced too low in strength, for a force of 1,200 men with an army in the field would be about enough for one division,—that was, for 5,000 or 6,000 men. He supposed that some reduction was necessary, in consequence of the pressure put upon the Government by the House of Commons, which looked with an evil eye upon military expenditure. These 1,200 men would be, he supposed, split up among different camps of instruction. He trusted that they would be called upon to discharge not only the minor parts of their duty, but that they would be exercised in carrying ammunition, which ought to be close; tents, which ought to be handy; and ambulance, which ought to be close. Matters ought to be so arranged that the military trains should be practised in marching in the camps to which they were attached with these articles. If they were accustomed to march with the brigade, the regiment, or the division to which they were attached, they would know where they ought to be in a division, and they would learn how to look after their own tents and their horses. It was not by separating them, but by bringing them together, that they would be made efficient. All the evils of the first winter in the Crimea were traced to the absence of an efficient land transport, accustomed to military drill, and knowing their horses and their duties in support of regiments. The military train should be kept up, and 2259 whether an expedition were small or large it ought not "to go out" without its land transport corps. Of course, if the war 9d. were taken off reductions in the expenditure must be made. An enormous reduction was taking place in the factories at Woolwich, and great misery and distress were inevitable when as many as 5,000 workmen were discharged from one Government arsenal, some of whom had been for three years and upwards in the Government service. He thought it would be worthy the consideration of the Government whether some facilities for emigration might not be fairly offered to those labourers and artisans who were thrown out of work, not from any fault of theirs, but from a cessation of employment in consequence of the peace. Many of these persons had no resource but the parish, and it was a question whether the Government, which had so great an extent of frontage and roads contiguous to its establishments, should not contribute something either to the maintenance of the roads or towards the poor rates of a parish so situated. At present there was a great pressure from these circumstances, upon the rates of the borough which he had the honour to represent,
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) £1,467,000 on account, Pay of Land Forces.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, that the expenditure for staff pay and allowances was very high, and if he had the honour of a seat in the next Parliament he should bring the subject before the House. In the field a General could scarcely have too many aides-de-camp, if they were efficient; but at home he did not think that any general officer required more than one aide-de-camp.
hoped that the attention of the Government would be given to the position in which a non-commissioned officer was placed when he received a commission. He knew a case where a distinguished soldier had refused his promotion on account of the pecuniary position in which he would have been placed by accepting a commission.
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
said, the present regimental arrangements were such that the expenses were more than any officer could afford who had no private resources. The only alternative for noncommissioned officers who were promoted for distinguished services was retirement, or assistance from the Government. He 2260 thought the subject required immediate attention.
§ SIR WILLIAM CODRINGTON
said, he thought the question of the position of these officers generally was too large to be discussed on the present occasion; he would, however, ask whether it was consistent with the character of this country that non-commissioned officers promoted to commissions should be in a worse position than before they were promoted.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
said, he did not think it possible that any non-commissioned officers who had been promoted could be in a worse position than if they had continued non-commissioned officers and served out their time. The proposition made by the War-Office to the Treasury was, that those who had obtained the rank of captain should have a permanent retired allowance of 5s. a day, those who were lieutenants 3s. 6d. a day, and those who were cornets 3s. a day. The whole number of officers of this class was 161, of which 18 had either died, or sold their commissions, or retired on half-pay, leaving 143 with commissions at the present time, of 161 promoted during the war. It was impossible to grant them extra pay without granting the same to officers who proved they had no private fortunes. Of the 143 officers thus circumstanced only 19 were drawing simple regimental pay as cornets or ensigns. All the rest were either drawing lieutenant's pay, or regimental and half-pay. Sixteen were riding-masters, 63 quarter-masters, and 4 pay-masters.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, he believed the remedy for this difficulty was a determined measure to reduce the expense of the messes and the whole system of expenditure in the army.
§ Vote agreed to, as was also
§ (3.) £184,000 on account, Miscellaneous Charges.
§ (4.) £14,000 on account, Volunteer Corps.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
wished to call the attention of the Committee to the omission of the usual allowances for clothing and permanent duty. Her Majesty's Government had to answer for, among other sins of omission, that of attempting to cast a slight upon the yeomanry cavalry of the country, in not permitting them to assemble for permanent duty in the present year. The Estimates for the year exceeded former Estimates by several millions; but the yeomanry cavalry had 2261 nothing to do with the increased expenditure of the country. The expense for their useful body was only a small item, which had hitherto been cheerfully defrayed since 1815. In the Estimates for the present year that item had been reduced to £25,700 for the staff and for contingent allowances. The former Vote was £80,000, the present was reduced, therefore, by some £60,000. This saving was made up of the reduction in the clothing allowance, £20,000, and in the allowance for permanent duty, about £39,000 or £40,000, and he put it to the Government if it was worth while, for such a small saving, to risk impairing the efficiency and damping the zeal of the forces which from time to time had rendered such good service to the civil power of the country. On two occasions, in 1828 and in 1836, this force had been of the greatest service. The Government of the day, nevertheless, determined upon its reduction; they were, however, obliged to retrace their steps and restore that force, to, in many instances, even still greater strength and efficiency. He asked his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how he meant to deal with the yeomanry cavalry when the fated year 1858–59 should arrive? The necessity for economy would then be as great as it was now; and he (Sir J. Pakington) anticipated that when that year should arrive, any proposal to revive those corps would be met with the objection that it was not worth while to spend money on them, as they had not been called out for two years. If Her Majesty's Government declared against the yeomanry force on the ground that a more efficient system of police rendered it unnecessary, he (Sir J. Pakington) could understand the argument, though he could not subscribe to the conclusion. But he denied that the fact was so; and he believed that inasmuch as the police of the country was only adapted to the ordinary exigencies of the country, when an extraordinary exigency arose the military assistance of the yeomanry corps had always been found most valuable in the absence of regular troops. He (Sir J. Pakington) put it to the Government if the efficiency of any military body could be maintained under less than eight days' training; and if it was the wish of the Government to keep up the efficiency of the force, he hoped they would reconsider the subject, and not strike such a blow at its establishment. Another point to which he called 2262 the attention of the Government was one which might be considered a decided breach of faith with the officers who commanded these regiments. The expenditure for clothing these regiments was defrayed by an annual payment of 30s. per man to the officers in command. That sum, insufficient for the purpose, was in many instances advanced by the officers in question upon the expectation that they would be reimbursed out of this Vote; and if the Vote was suspended now, they would consequently be out of pocket to a large amount. The right hon. the Speaker of that House, and the hon. Member for East Kent (Sir E. Dering) were in that predicament, each having recently advanced large sums for clothing the respective yeomanry regiments which they commanded, and if the Vote was withheld, they, along with other officers so circumstanced, would be cast on their own resources. This grant had been going on for the greater part of the century; and it was neither just nor right that the country should break faith with gentlemen who had fulfilled the functions of commanding officers for the good of the country. Under these circumstances he trusted that the Government would reconsider the subject, and be prepared in the next Parliament to propose a renewal of the former Vote for the yeomanry cavalry.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he fully concurred in these observations, and would take leave to refer to the claims of the two regiments of yeomanry in Lanarkshire. At the present moment there was only one regiment of regulars in Glasgow, and if, as reported, it was the intention of Government to withdraw it, and at the same time not to call out the yeomanry for permanent duty, the whole military force in Lanarkshire would consist of two or three troops of horse artillery. Now, Lanarkshire contained a population of nearly 700,000 persons, of whom a considerable portion were miners; and it was of the utmost importance that there should be a proper military force at hand to aid the civil power in cases of emergency. He had been quite surprised at a return relating to the services of the yeomanry which had been laid on the table of the House; and, with respect to the yeomanry of Lanarkshire, that Report was altogether inaccurate. It stated that there was in that county a regiment with twelve officers and 279 men—that it had been 2263 raised in 1819, and that it had never been called on to aid the civil power—whereas, it had been out last year for two months aiding the civil power. That regiment had also rendered important services in 1843, and again in 1848, but if it was now disembodied, and another strike to take place among the miners, the authorities would lack the means of preserving order. He, therefore, thought the proposed economy a pernicious one.
§ MR. ALEXANDER HASTIE
said, he had not intended to offer any observations on the subject before the Committee; but as the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had spoken with so much confidence of his knowledge of Glasgow, he (Mr. A. Hastie) wished to state what he knew of the feeling there—
§ MR. ALEXANDER HASTIE
knew something about Lanarkshire too, and could say that both there and in Glasgow too, if military assistance should be necessary, the feeling was more in favour of the enrolled pensioners than of the yeomanry.
§ VISCOUNT NEWPORT
appealed to the noble Lord to say whether it was intended to abolish the yeomanry or not, because if such a force was to be kept up at all, provision should be made for affording them the drill necessary to keep them efficient. The employment of that force in the suppression of civil disturbances was not the only service which it could render, as there were many cavalry duties, such as garrison and escort duties, which yeomanry could perform. He would also appeal to the Government to know whether, as the force was not to be called out this year, the members of the corps would be required to keep and pay duty for their horses.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
remarked that untrained horses were useless in the ranks, and if the yeomanry were not called out this year, the men would, in some cases, sell their horses, and in all, the animals would lose the benefit of their previous training. In order to show the value of yeomanry as guardians of the peace, he might mention one occasion in 1842 when a body of 5,000 men assembled in his county, and there was every reason to apprehend a serious riot. The aid of regular tooops was sought, but only twelve men obtained. Lord Aylesford, colonel of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, however, 2264 issued a summons on the Sunday evening, and at 6 o'clock on the next morning two troops assembled, and their appearance completely terminated the riotous proceedings.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he could assure the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) that had he assisted the Government in the deliberations which had been necessary to bring the Estimates of expenditure within the limits to which they were now confined, he would not have undervalued the importance of a saving of £60,000. To bring the Estimates within their present compass it had been necessary to go through the whole details of expenditure in every branch of the service; and the Government had been compelled to postpone or abandon expenditure which it considered would have been most useful to the country, and which would be inevitable in future years. A great deal was absolutely required for the permanent defence of the country—works for the defence of the dockyards—barracks for the accommodation of men who were to defend places which ought to be fortified, and other things; but many of those matters had been postponed, because otherwise it would have been impossible to reduce the expenditure within the desired limits. He said, therefore, that £60,000 was by no means a saving that was not deserving the consideration of the House. He could, however, assure the Committee that hon. Members were quite mistaken if they thought the Government undervalued the great importance of maintaining the yeomanry system. The Government, on the contrary, was very sensible of the high value of that organization, not merely in assisting in the preservation of the public peace, because that was almost a secondary consideration, but, being in the character of a militia, as calculated to bear a most important part in the general system of national defence. It was a mistake to suppose that the yeomanry had been called out for duty every year since the peace of 1815. When he first went to the Home Office he found that a great many of the yeomanry corps had not been called out for duty for several years. They had been called out generally for three days' exercise and training in the year; and he felt it his duty to make arrangements for calling them all out for permanent duty for eight days, as being in his opinion most essential for their general efficiency. He might be permitted to say he did not think the arrangement 2265 under which the yeomanry were called together for three days during the year was calculated to increase the efficiency of the corps. Whatever might be the determination of another Parliament next year with regard to the yeomanry, the Committee would be quite mistaken if they construed the circumstance of the Government not assembling them in the present year into the slightest indication of their intention to abandon the yeomanry corps, or of any under-appreciation of the value of their services. With respect to the question of clothing, undoubtedly, if any regiment could show that the commanding officer had made contracts which were not completed, or had incurred liabilities to discharge which he had not funds in hand, that was a case in which justice should be done. But in many cases there was a balance in hand amply sufficient to meet the current demands. The clothing of the yeomanry corps was not renewed every year; it lasted for several years, and he knew that in many cases there was a balance in hand quite sufficient to meet any immediate demand. But in any case where a commanding officer could show there were claims for clothing, or saddlery, or other matters, to meet which there was no balance in hand, those were circumstances under which a proper allowance should be made. The same consideration would be extended to the question of the horses, if it could be shown that the non-assembling of the corps on permanent duty entailed loss on that account. With regard to those corps called out for particular services the same principle applied. One ground on which the Government thought they could dispense with their training this year was their having been assiduously trained in former years, which seemed to the Government to render their assembling this year an unnecessary operation. He could assure the Committee that there was no intention by the arrangement in contemplation for the present year to disparage the yeomanry system. It was simply one of the measures to which the Government had had recourse with the view to balance expenditure with income.
§ MR. DEEDES
submitted that the case of the militia was not at all analogous with that of the yeomanry, because the militia was not composed of the same class of men, nor had they to provide themselves with horses. He thought in the case of the yeomanry, where the men had gone to 2266 considerable expense in providing themselves with horses, one of two things would happen if they were not called on to do some duty; either they would part with their horses altogether, or when called out on a subsequent year they would come with horses wholly unfitted for the service. His firm conviction was, after an experience of upwards of forty years in the yeomanry, that if the yeomanry were not to be called out regularly for training of some description the efficiency of the corps and the service would be materially deteriorated, and it had better be dispensed with altogether than be dealt with in such a manner. With respect to clothing, he (Mr. Deedes) was one of those commanding officers of yeomanry who laboured under heavy responsibility. In 1830 the regiment to which he originally belonged, and in which he served as major, was raised; in 1837 two troops of it were reduced; the lieutenant-colonel was reduced; and he (Mr. Deedes) then became the commander of the regiment. In 1837 it was in a very efficient state, but it never recovered the reduction which then took place. It dwindled down until, in 1853, only two troops remained, which he still commanded. He afterwards raised it again to six troops, and he became the commanding officer of it with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. On the recommendation of the late Lord Hardinge the regiment had been constituted a mounted rifle corps; and he (Mr. Deedes) had gone to a great expense in equipping 200 men for that service. When the regiment was augmented an advance of £3 per man a year for three years was made to him as the commanding officer to equip his men; but in many instances the £9 so advanced did not cover the expenses to which he was put. He was compelled to clothe the whole regiment, and the hardship of the case was that he had no advance made to him whatever in respect of the two troops which had belonged to the old establishment. The consequence was that he was left personally responsible for a considerable amount, and he asked whether this was a state of things which ought to be allowed to continue?
§ Vote agreed to, as was that of—
§ (5.) £62,000, on account, Departments for War and Commander in Chief.
§ (6.) £125,000, on account, Manufacturing Departments, &c.
§ MR. SPOONER
wished to draw attention 2267 to the small-arms factory at Enfield. He observed that it had been stated in evidence before the Committee that one consequence of incurring considerable expense in introducing machinery would ultimately be a great saving, because, in place of employing skilled artificers, labourers at 12s. 6d. a week would perform the work. Instead of that the men were now receiving 22s. a week, so that the contemplated saving had not been effected. The manufacturers of Birmingham complained that their best filers were bribed away. This was not a fair course, and might be avoided by machinery. They had laid out £106,000 in two years for machinery for the purpose of making guns; and as yet not a gun had been turned out. The Ordnance, he admitted, was now under better management. He had a more serious complaint to make. A manufacturing firm had supplied the Government with shells, of which during the war only 2½ per cent. were rejected, while now, from the same manufacturer, and without the slightest notice, the percentage of rejection was 8 per cent. These gentlemen had sent up a larger amount of shells than was ordered, merely to fill up the place of those which were rejected. The manufacturers could neither get their shells back nor get the money for them, and they were ultimately obliged to let the Government keep them at less than the contract price. This was unfair towards these gentlemen, and they ought to be remunerated. He hoped that a stop would be put to these proceedings, admitting, as he did, that the Ordnance was now far better managed than it had been.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
said that it was not surprising that no completed muskets had been turned out by the establishment at Enfield, because the building was only commenced in the autumn of 1855, and of course some time was occupied in completing it and in fitting it with machinery. Although no complete muskets had yet been turned out, parts of the arm had been made in considerable quantities; and now that the machinery for making the barrels had been completed, there would be no difficulty in finishing them, and he believed that in the course of the present year as many as 40,000 rifles would be manufactured at Enfield. He was not informed with respect to the charge of enticing men away from private employers in the neighbourhood of Birmingham; but he would cause inquiry into 2268 the subject. With regard to the shells, he had been informed that on the first delivery they were passed, though not according to the specification, but that was no reason why they should pass the second delivery. It was quite right to reject the second lot, and wrong to accept the first lot, which ought to have been rejected. The parties delivered more than required, but at the request of the manufacturer the authorities at Woolwich felt disposed to keep them at a reduced price.
§ MR. SPOONER
said there must be some mistake, for he was strictly informed the shells were in accordance with the specification. He should be glad to know who was the judge in these cases? The Government agent was much engaged, and it would be right to appoint two parties, one on each side. He was assured that no fault could be found with the specification. Even admitting there was a deficiency in this respect, as they had been taken before, they ought to have been taken the second time, as no notice whatever had been given of any intention to refuse them.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said that the complaint seemed to him to be that the Government authorities marked the shells which had not been ordered; and then when the manufacturer asked to have them back, he was told he could not, but must take a certain price for them, which would be a loss to him. Now, the authorities, having marked them, they were bound in honour to pay for them. With regard to engaging men, he could only say the Government must have them; but the great objection was, that the Government should ever have commenced erecting a manufactory for firearms at all. They could not compete with private manufacturers, nor could they make as good an article. He should be glad to know whether the building was complete, when arms would be made there, and the cost of them?
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he trusted the Committee would bear in mind that there had been a distinct pledge given that the details of the expenditure at the Enfield establishment should be furnished as soon as it was in working order. He now understood the manufactory to be in that state, and it was only fair that, as the establishment competed with the manufacturers at Birmingham, a comparison should be drawn between the relative cost of the weapons furnished by each, so that hon. 2269 Members should be enabled to judge from correct data whether the Government were supplied more cheaply from Enfield than by the trade. There was another point to which he wished to call the hon. Gentleman's attention. How long were the Government to continue the employment of three or four staffs of the best Birmingham workmen in instructing foreigners to make arms after the patterns adopted by this country? It was well known that he had been a decided advocate of protection, but surely it was something more than free trade to devote public money in instructing foreigners to compete in the manufacture of arms with the trade of this country.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
said, that if the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) would move for a return of the entire expenditure at Enfield he should be quite ready to grant the fullest information on the subject. With regard to the manufacture of arms upon the Continent, it was the fact that during the war contracts to a considerable extent were entered into for the supply of rifles from Liege and other places. In the present Estimates no provision was made for entering into any new contracts on the Continent or in America, but only for payments arising out of contracts not yet expired.
§ MR. COWAN
called attention to the item of "lodging money for men quartered on the inhabitants of Scotland," from which he inferred that the system of billetting soldiers in Scotland, upon which the House had already pronounced a tolerably emphatic condemnation, was not yet at an end. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had assured him that a will and a way should be found to do away with this miserable practice, and he had also understood from the hon. Gentleman that an alteration in the Mutiny Act would be proposed. He should be glad to know what the people of Scotland were to expect on this subject? Money was voted for feeding and clothing our gallant troops, and he could not understand why they should not also be provided with comfortable quarters. He believed that I½d. per night was allowed for their lodging, but what kind of accommodation could be expected for that miserable pittance?
§ MR. ALEXANDER HASTIE
complained also of the billeting system in Scotland. People had no objection to troops on the march being billeted upon them, but it was hard that they should be 2270 saddled with troops permanently quartered upon them.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
was understood to say that a provision would be introduced into the Mutiny Bill to remedy the existing system.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
observed that there was an amount of £84,527 for officers of the Manufacturing Department, but he did not see any provision for the pay of the men.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
explained that the salaries of officers in the Manufacturing department amounted to £19,195, and the remainder of the sum referred to by the gallant Admiral was for the Store department. The provision for the men would be found in another Vote.
§ In answer to Mr. HENLEY,
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
stated that 25,000 rifles of the pattern of 1853 would be delivered from the Continent during the year, and while the existing contracts were being carried on the committee of officers to superintend them would be maintained; but there was no provision in the present estimate for entering into any new contract.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also
§ (7.) £111,000, on account, Wages.
§ (8.) £140,000, on account, Clothing.
§ (9.) £319,000, on account, Provisions.
§ (10.) £199,000, on account. Stores.
MR: MONTAGU CHAMBERS
took occasion to ask for some explanation with reference to the sale of old stores which had taken place to a considerable extent during the last year. It was stated very generally that in effecting the sale to which he referred a great sacrifice had been made, inasmuch as a large amount of the stores which had been disposed of might have been turned to good account, while a portion of them, which had been sold as old stores, were articles which had been furnished under a new contract.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
said, there would be no difficulty in laying before the House a return of the product of the sale. It was in his opinion extremely unlikely that any stores should have been sold immediately after their delivery to the War Department under a contract which had been but recently entered into.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the remaining Votes.
§ (11.) £82,000, on account, Fortifications.
§ (12.) £231,000, on account, Buildings.2271
§ (13.) £76,000, on account, Educational and Scientific Branches.
§ (14.) £9,000, on account, Rewards for Military Service.
§ (15.) £21,000, on account, Pay of General Officers.
§ (16.) £190,000, on account, Pay of Reduced and Retired Officers.
§ (17.) £63,000, on account, Pensions to Widows.
§ (18.) £16,000, on account, Pensions for Wounds.
§ (19.) 11,000, on account, Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals.
§ (20.) £393,000, on account, Out-Pensioners, Chelsea Hospital.
§ (21.) £41,000, on account Superannuations.
§ House resumed.