§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he presumed the object for the Motion of the Speaker leaving the Chair was that the House might go into Committee of Supply on the Army Estimates. He had given notice of a Motion to refer those Estimates to a Select Committee. He and many other Members of that House had very recently pledged themselves to their constituents to support economy and retrenchment, and they now found that they had laid before them Army Estimates more extravagant than any others from the termination of the French war to the commencement of the Russian war; and he thought it was high, time therefore that some means should be adopted by that House for putting a check upon the continually increasing expenditure of the War Department. If the House of Commons had one duty more important than another it was to see that there was a proper application of the taxes raised from the masses of the people, and that duty he now called upon hon. Members to discharge. He had looked over the Estimates with very great care; but they were quite unintelligible to him. They were made up in a different form from any preceding Estimates he had had an opportunity of seeing, and though he considered he had some little knowledge of Parliamentary accounts and figures, he was unable to make anything of them by comparing them with the Estimates of former years. What, then, must he the case with regard to new Members? Yet by such a comparison alone Members would he able to come to a satisfactory conclusion as to their moderation or extravagance. A large portion of the present House consisted of new Members, who would be totally in the dark when these Estimates were considered. The last Parliament voted a very large portion of the Estimates, and the present House of Commons had no information from these Estimates, how much had been voted and how much remained to be voted. He should like to know upon what grounds the Government were thus meeting the new Parliament. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in a business-like manner, stated the gross amount of the Navy Estimates, with the amount voted in the last Parliament; but no such information was conveyed with regard to the Army Estimates. If the 844 Government were conscious that they had proposed the Estimates in accordance with the just requirements of the expenditure of the army, they could have no objection to refer them to a Select Committee fairly chosen. He (Mr. Williams) was sure that such a Committee would point out means whereby they might effect a very large reduction. In France, the Estimates were laid before the Chamber of Deputies, and were then referred to a Committee. Very lately the Committee reported that the Estimates were extravagant, and that the amount proposed was not necessary for the public service—and what was more extraordinary still, that decision was reported in the public newspapers in France. Now, when he stated to the House the amount required by the present and former Governments, he was sure that hon. Members would be very much astonished. He held in his hand a return presented to that House in reference to the sums voted for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance from 1822 to the commencement of the Russian war, and he found that not in one single case was there to be found anything like approaching the sum required this year, indeed not within millions sterling. He would give two or three instances, and he would select periods of a very remarkable character. First of all he would take 1835—and on this he might say that the years preceding and following, namely, 1834 and 1836, were within a mere trifle of the same amount—but he selected, 1835 because the Estimates of that year were submitted to the House by the Government of Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington, and afterwards adopted by the Government of Lord Melbourne, when he succeeded to power. The amount required in that year for the Army, Ordnance, and Navy Estimates was £7,560,000 less than those of this year. Then he would take the year 1852–3, the year before the commencement of the preparations for the Russian war. The Army Estimates which were submitted by Lord Aberdeen's Government, and adopted by Lord Derby's Government, amounted to £9,020,000. This year they amounted to £11,247,000. The difference between the number of men in 1852–3 and the present year was but 7,227. Now, adding those 7,227 to the number required in 1852–3, and allowing for their pay and maintenance £227,000, the Estimates of this year for the same number of men as in 1852–3 would show an increase of £2,000,000 sterling. He 845 would ask the House upon what grounds they could vote the cost of an army of precisely the same force as in 1852–3, at an additional expense of £2,000,000 sterling? He had looked over the Estimates very carefully, and he confessed he could See no reason whatever for this additional change. There were increased amounts in regard to some items, and great extravagance in regard to others, but he could see no way of accounting for the £2,000,000. The amount required for the Army this year showed an increase over the amount required in 1835 of £3,687,000. In the last year of the unreformed Parliament, the Duke of Wellington was Prime Minister, and the whole amount he required for the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, was £13,294,000, being less by £5,856,000 than was required by the Government this year. In 1835 Sir Robert Peel's Estimate for these three services amounted to £11,657,000, less by £7,500,000, or a sum equal to the whole produce of the income tax at 7d. in the pound, than the sum required to be voted by the Government this year. In 1852–3, the amount required for the three services was £14,755,00, being less by £4,400,000 than the amount required this year, which was £19,150,000. It would, no doubt, be said that it was impossible to reduce the army all at once; but he did not see that there was any intention of reducing the army, for he found that there was a provision in the Estimates for £42,000 for the purposes of recruiting in ten different districts of the country. He would not trouble the House with a large number of items; but he would refer to two new establishments at Aldershot and Shorncliffe. The establishment at Shorncliffe cost £4,501. There were four generals appointed there, but what they did he was at a loss to conceive. He was recently in that neighbourhood, and ascertained that the number of troops there was between 2,200 and 2,500, and yet there were four general officers stationed there. Then there was the new establishment at Aldershot, costing £8,481, and five general officers and two full colonels were stationed there in command. It might be said that our soldiers required to be brought together not only in regiments, but in divisions. Now, there were in that House some of the most distinguished military officers of the last war, and he should be very much surprised if any of those gallant officers would say that the British army had ever, when acting in 846 masses, been found wanting in the performance of its duty. The charge for these two camps was but £14,000 or £15.000; but it was not so much to the expense he objected as to what he considered the commencement of an attempt to make us a military nation and to introduce into this country a military system like those which existed under the despotisms of the Continent. The navy was our proper defence, and he had never opposed any measures which were necessary to secure its efficiency. The way also in which the accounts were made up rendered it impossible to calculate the exact cost of different regiments in the service; but, as far as he could reckon, the cost of the Guards was nearly twice as much as that of regiments of the line. For his own part, he had never been able to understand the necessity of the proposed increase of expenditure on the army. It was said that if England should again be involved in war she ought to be better prepared than she was at the commencement of the last war. Now, he believed that if England in the course of a few years again went to war, she would be in precisely the same position as she was last war. Incompetent men would, on account of their connections, be appointed to command her forces, and after scenes similar to those which occurred in the late war the newspaper reporters would inform the public of what was going on; and then, when all was over, men of merit would come forward exactly as they were under the late exigencies. He would not detain the House further, but would move that the Estimates be referred to a Select Committee.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY rose and said, that his only objection to seconding the Amendment was, that it would relieve the Government of the responsibility—
§ MR. SPEAKER
, interrupted, saying that he had supposed the hon. Member to rise for the purpose of seconding the Amendment.
The Amendment, not being seconded, fell to the ground.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, that before they went into Committee there were one or two questions he wished to ask of the hon. Gentleman, who now represented the War Department (Sir John Ramsden). He wished to know who was responsible for this great expenditure— whether or not it was the noble Lord at the head of the War Department, or who? He believed that in this case, as well as 847 in many others, it devolved upon irresponsible deputies and secretaries. There was another point of considerable importance to which he wished to call attention— namely, that the heads of Votes had been very much reduced in number. The number of heads before the consolidation of the Departments was twenty-nine or thirty, now they only amounted to twenty. If they wanted to check accounts, the only way was to insist upon having full details under separate heads—if they were placed under a few general heads it was quite impossible to comprehend them. He called upon the House to watch, and to insist in Committee that those heads of Votes should be increased. He was sure the reduction of the number of heads of Votes was a fatal error.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he wished to put a question or two to the hon. Baronet who represented the War Department in the House. In the last Parliament he moved for the production of certain Returns, tending to show the sort of labourers employed at the manufactory at Enfield, and the expense attending such employment. Parliament ordered the Returns to be made, but in consequence of the sudden dissolution, the matter was at an end. He was, therefore, again obliged to move for those Returns in the present Session, and he wished to know when they were likely to be placed upon the table. He should object to going into Votes 5 and 6, until that and other information were given in respect to them. It would be in the recollection of the House that, in last Session, when asked to vote for the large expenditure at Enfield, they were told, that by the introduction of large machinery at that place the Government would be enabled to employ a large number of unskilled labourers, and that consequently they would not require so many skilled workmen as they were before compelled to employ. Now, he wanted the production of the Returns to show that such had been the case. He was informed that the case was altogether different. He was also told that the Government had been sending agents into Birmingham for the purpose of inveigling the workmen from their employment in the large manufactories there by great promises of increased wages, and by money actually paid down. He had documents in his possession to prove that fact. He had also received intelligence that the Government had lent £20,000 to a contractor to enable him to fulfil his contract, 848 which he otherwise would not have been able to do. There were two houses concerned in this contract, the one was English, the other American, and they had both failed. He wanted to know by what authority such money was given, and whether the money had been recovered. He was informed that it had not; that the securities were very doubtful; and that if oven they were realised a balance would still be due. If the Audit-office were worth anything, the accounts of 1856 should have been audited in March last. He wanted to know up to what time the War Department accounts were audited, and also upon what authority the Government had advanced that sum?
§ SIR JOHN RAMSDEN
said, in answer to the hon. Member for Evesham (Sir H. Willoughby), that the Secretary for War was responsible for all the expenditure proposed in the Army Estimates. The hon. Baronet had complained of the form in which the Estimates were drawn up, and he could only say, that the reason for the alteration of the form was, that they might be presented in a more simple shape, and at the same time afford every possible information to the House; and it was hoped that in their present form they would be found full and satisfactory. In answer to the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) who seemed to think that some injustice had been done to the manufacturers of Birmingham by an attempt on the part of Government officials to draw away their workmen, he had to say, that there was not the slightest intention on the part of the Government that there should be any interference to the detriment of the manufacturers of Birmingham —on the contrary, the instructions which had been issued to the Government officials were to the effect that every possible information should be afforded to the trade in that town, with the view of promoting the improvement of the manufacture of arms. The only object of the Government was to get the best possible supply of arms, and they wished that every facility should be given to competition. He was ignorant of any loan of £20,000 granted to a contractor, and if the hon. Gentleman would afford the War Department information on the subject, every exertion should be made to clear the matter up and to show the real state of the case. As to the Returns asked for by the hon. Gentleman, they were in an advanced state of preparation at the end of the last Parliament; but 849 when the authority under which they had been ordered lapsed, they were laid aside, but as they had been moved for again, the preparation of them had been renewed, and they would soon be laid on the table.
SIR FREDERICK SMITH
bore testimony to the great advantage which the military establishment at Aldershot conferred upon the country, by affording to our troops an opportunity of going through field manœuvres in large bodies. He himself had been a witness to the beneficial results which it produced in the training of various militia regiments, which, after a few months spent there, were turned out in a highly efficient state. He trusted, therefore, the establishment would be always retained.
§ COLONEL BOLDERO
said, he thought the form in which the Estimates were this year laid before the House was a great improvement upon the old system; but he was nevertheless of opinion that a great subdivision of the several heads of expenditure might be made with advantage. The want of such subdivision led to much inconvenience, as was clearly shown by an instance which had occurred last Session. An hon. Gentleman had given notice of Motion with respect to the expenditure for barracks, and commenced his speech about ten o'clock at night. The discussion occupied nearly two hours, and just as the hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Estimates was about to reply, another hon. Gentleman started up and turned the whole current of the debate to a totally different subject—a course which he was perfectly justified in taking, inasmuch as the subject, although of a totally different nature from the question of barracks, came under the same head in the Estimates. The consequence was, that the hon. Gentleman, whose duty it was to explain the various items, was not enabled to commence his reply until a very late hour, and then took advantage of the diversion which had been made to leave the objections which had been urged with respect to barracks altogether unanswered. The same want of a proper subdivision of subjects existed upon the present occasion, as might be seen by a reference to item No. 12, in which Civil Buildings and Barracks were again placed under the same head.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
reminded the hon. Baronet that he had omitted to answer one of the questions put to him by his hon. Friend—namely, whether the accounts of 850 the War Department for the year 1855–56, in pursuance of the provisions of the statute, had been passed through the Audit-office at the proper time?
§ MR. STAFFORD
said, that those questions showed the inconvenience of such explanations before they had gone into Committee.
said, that there was a concurrent audit of these accounts. There was one audit of the accounts from clay to day, and the reports respecting them were subsequently made to the Audit-office. At the end of the year the gross accounts were sent to the Audit-office. There was no arrear in the auditing of the navy accounts; but in respect to the army accounts he confessed there was some slight delay of about two months, in consequence of the war and the heavy transactions of last year.
§ SIR WILLIAM CODRINGTON
trusted that there would be no hesitation in keeping up such an assemblage of troops at Aldershot as would enable them to be practised together in brigades and divisions. This was of the utmost importance, for regiments not accustomed to be brigaded were a positive mob when brought together. Of course, if there were brigades and divisions, it would be necessary to have superior officers to command them. An hon. Member had spoken of the "fighting regiments" as distinguished from the Guards. His impression was, that he had seen those regiments; and it was not quite fair to soldiers who had fought like the Guards to institute an invidious comparison to their disadvantage between them and their brethren of the line. There was, no doubt, much merit in the arms supplied by the manufacturers of Birmingham, but he saw no reason why the Government should not be able themselves to make and supply a proportion of arms accurately made, without trusting altogether to contractors.
§ House in Committee; Mr. FitzRoy in the chair.
§ (1.) £2,921,017, Pay of Land Forces.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, according to the usual course it would have been the duty of my hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the War Department (Sir John Ramsden) to move these Estimates; but, as my hon. Friend has but recently come into office, and has not been able to make himself master of the details of these Estimates, which he will clearly, and I doubt not satisfactorily, explain item 851 by item as they are proposed, I thought it would be more satisfactory to the Committee that a Member of Her Majesty's Government should give those general explanations with regard to the principles that regulate the amount of force which we propose shall be maintained both during the present year and generally in time of peace; and therefore I trust that the Committee will not consider that I am guilty, in departing from the usual course upon this occasion, of an improper interference. I would state, in the first place, that these Estimates comprise Estimates which in former years, owing to the separation of the departments, formed the subject of separate and distinct Estimates. They now contain everything connected with the military departments of the State, namely, those expenses that were heretofore proposed under the management of the Secretary at War, those that were heretofore under the Ordnance branch, and those connected with the Commissariat, which were under the Treasury, and have heretofore formed the subject of a separate Vote. The House have therefore now the means of seeing at one view the whole of the military expenditure. I am sure that the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams) did himself injustice when he said that, from the alteration in the mode of framing the Estimates, he was unable to make himself master of the details. I am unwilling, to believe this modest statement on his part, and I am sure that these Estimates, which are in substance the same as those proposed before the dissolution of Parliament, though the form and headings of them have been somewhat changed, are not too much for the grasp of my hon. Friend. Sir, the first question that must naturally suggest itself to those who are charged with the duty of proposing the amount of the military establishments is, what, under the circumstances of the moment, is the establishment which, on the one hand, combines the greatest regard for economy, and, on the other, the greatest regard for the efficiency of the service and the defence of the country, Now, it is a well-known maxim that if you wish for peace you must be prepared for war—si vis pacem para bellum. In one sense, I differ from that maxim; in another, I think it is a sound axiom. If it is meant that this country should imitate the example of the great military monarchies of the Continent, and in time of peace maintain a military establishment adequate to the 852 emergencies of actual war, I say that such a system would be ruinous to the country, and calculated to defeat the very object for which it professes to be framed. When we see a great country, like some of those on the Continent, maintaining in time of peace armies of 300,000 or 400,000 men, we cannot but think that an unnecessary deduction is made from the productive industry of the country by the abstraction of so many hands from useful labour; an unnecessary drain is also made upon the pecuniary resources of the country; and we also see that there is a defect that counteracts the very object in view, because the people of those countries are accustomed to rely entirely on large standing armies for the public service whenever an emergency shall occur, and they are therefore not imbued when it does occur with that enthusiastic public spirit which we have seen in this country rise equal to any emergency which the accidental circumstances of the moment may require. Therefore, I think that our system of military arrangements tends more to the development of the national spirit, while the system of large armies adopted on the Continent is rather calculated to exhaust the national resources, and to impede the progress of national industry. Therefore, Sir, I should be sorry to see any Government in this country imitate the example of Continental Governments in this respect. If, on the other hand, we were solely to consider what is necessary for the internal maintenance of order, a very small military establishment would be sufficient, because here we fortunately do not rely, as in some foreign countries, on the military system for the maintenance of public order. There are civil means of enforcing an obedience to the law which supersede in a great degree, if not entirely, under ordinary circumstances, the action of a military force. But we must consider the peculiar circumstances of this country. We have not only our own islands to defend, but we have possessions of great value, of great political and commercial importance, scattered over the most distant regions of the globe. We must therefore consider what is necessary for the protection of those possessions and of the country, not in case of actual war, because that might require exertions of a very different nature, but what is sufficient to protect us against attacks arising without much previous notice. Therefore the military establishments of the country must be calculated as to their efficiency as 853 a means of defence against sudden aggression and as a sufficient force for the protection and preservation of our colonial possessions. Our position is one which—without meaning to imply any doubt as to the continuance of peace—requires special precautionary measures on our part. These considerations were well explained by my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty in moving the Navy Estimates. We have close to us a great military and naval power—a power far superior to us in her great military establishments—a power which is nearly equal to us in the amount of her naval establishments. And we must recollect that modern improvements have in a great degree altered the conditions of both countries in respect to naval and military war. The improvements in projectiles, the great improvements in shipping, have altogether altered the relative position of countries so near to each other. In former times, when we were at war with France—long may it be before that happens again!—the means of assault were confined to the collection of a great number of sailing boats in the shallow ports of the Channel, of which notice could be easily given, and it was therefore easy for the Government to take precautions against any danger that might arise there from. But, as was stated by my right hon. Friend, there is now at Cherbourg the means for collecting a large naval force. The ships which we now build are of such magnitude that whereas formerly only a few hundred men could be transported by one ship now more than 1,000 or 1,200 can well be embarked in a single vessel. It is impossible now for this country to rely entirely for its defence upon its naval means. There must be within the territory of the country the means of effectually maintaining ourselves, even supposing our naval protection to be denuded or ineffectual. On the one hand, I think it is the duty of the Government (and if the Government neglected their duty it would then become the duty of Parliament) to take care that our military establishment is not numerically larger than is really required for the emergencies of the time; but, on the other hand, having, as we ought to have, a comparatively small military establishment, it ought to be so organized as to be capable of speedy and great enlargement, and to contain within it those elements of science which are becoming every year more necessary for military establishments. It 854 should also be so organized that those who compose it should be practised in those military evolutions which they may have to perform upon taking the field either at home or abroad. Now, the great fault in our military arrangements hitherto has been, that they have ended with the regimental system. But I may observe that our regimental system is as perfect as that of any service in the world. Nothing could be superior to the British regiments. I remember hearing the Duke of Wellington say that the British soldiers, led by the gentry of their country, would do anything that was within the scope of human beings to accomplish. If we wanted any examples we should find them in the late war in the Crimea. Many of us have read that anecdote of the battle of Inkerman when our gallant soldiers, assailed by numbers which to many other men would be overwhelming, their ammunition being almost exhausted, and themselves in a condition in which any troops might with honour have retired, the cry went from one to the other, "Well, lads, we must stand our ground; for if we go back the girls of England will laugh at us." That simple expression of determination seems to me, Sir, just as heroic as any of those more eloquent and inflated sentiments of patriotism which are to be met with in the most eminently classical authors. Well, then, the arrangements in our regiments were as good as possible, but there they stopped. The condition of our army in a time of peace precluded that practice of evolutions and movements which belong to larger bodies collected together. The brigade system and the divisional system might be studied in theory and in the closet, but were seldom capable of being practised in the field. Those officers who have the good fortune to serve in India see these things on a larger scale, but our officers at home are compelled to study them only theoretically in the closet; and a man might as well expect to learn how to swim by extending himself on a mahogany table as to learn military evolutions by reading books in his armchair by the fire side. A great and most important improvement was made by the purchase of the land at Aldershot, and by the arrangements made there. The Government are enabled to collect there a considerable number of troops for summer exercise. They are there organized in the same mariner in which they would be organized for service in the field, in brigades 855 and divisions; and by that means the staff officers and the men themselves are made practically conversant with those operations and movements which, before, the greater part of them only knew theoretically. Every Government on the Continent that has military establishments has invariably practised these collections and exercises of troops. The French, the Austrians, the Prussians, the Russians, have invariably practised large bodies collected together, and by that means have enabled their general officers and staff officers to acquire that practical knowledge which is essential in conducting the operations of an army in the field. And therefore my hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth is entirely mistaken in depreciating the value of that establishment at Aldershot. Whatever may have been the cost, I say that the money has been economically laid out. It has been laid out with the greatest advantage to the public, and I do trust that nothing will ever pass in this House which will interfere with the continued benefit that Aldershot will afford to the public by being, as it is intended, the place where, between the months of April and October, considerable bodies of troops shall be collected to perform those movements and evolutions which they would have to perform if they were called upon for active service either at home or abroad. There are other points in which our army was deficient, and those deficiencies were greatly and severely felt at the outset of the late war. And, by the by, I may say that even the practice in the late war was not a practice particularly calculated to instruct officers in great field movements, because our army was stationary during the greater part of the time. It was not like a war carried on in the interior of a country with army movements and marches over a great surface of ground. But, in the first place, there was a great want of that which is essential to the movements of an army—namely, a field train, or what used to be called a waggon corps—men trained to attend to the sick and wounded, and to the different matters connected with the supplies of an army. There was great want of a hospital staff, of men practised in hospitals and conversant with the methods of treating the sick. These things have been remedied. By the present Estimates it will be seen that two new corps have been formed—one a field train and the other a hospital staff—composed of men trained to attend on the sick in hospitals 856 The Committee will see that, with regard to numbers there is an increase of about 6,000 over the numbers of the year 1853–4. That increase arises principally from the creation of these new corps, the augmentation of the artillery, and the retention of those supernumeraries who were appointed during the late war, and who might have been reduced, but whom the Government thought it would be hard to reduce. We determined therefore to keep them on full pay. The Commander in Chief willingly agreed to that arrangement at a sacrifice of that patronage to which some people think he attaches so much importance. We thought it better to retain as supernumeraries a great portion of the men who were about the establishment on full pay than discharge them, at once and have to replace them afterwards by recruiting. The general wear and tear of the army may be reckoned at about 12,000 men—including discharges, deaths, and other causes of decrease—and we thought it better to retain efficient men as supernumeraries than discharge them, and then have to go to the expense of raising other men. Then, I think it will be seen that the increase of expense, so far as the land force is concerned, arises from these supernumeraries, officers and men, the augmentation of the artillery, the field train, and also the hospital staff. Now, considering how much modern war turns upon the artillery service, I think the House will be of opinion that it was not bad economy or bad foresight upon the part of Her Majesty's Government to augment to a certain extent the artillery force of our army. At the beginning of the last war, we could not have put into the field fifty pieces of artillery, and to judge by comparison what that amount is, it may be stated that when the Russian army entered Hungary to assist the Austrians to put down the Hungarians they brought into the field 660 pieces of field artillery. By the augmentation of our artillery, I think that we could put well into the field, instead of fifty pieces, 150. I do not think that the House will be of opinion that that is a greater amount than is necessary. The total increase of charge upon the land force in the Estimates, as compared with the year 1853–4, the last year before the war, is £600,000 odd, a charge temporary in its nature, partly arising from these supernumeraries, and partly, but mainly, from those augmentations that I have mentioned. There is no increase in 857 the infantry of the line. There is, in point of fact, a slight diminution of about 120 men. There is a slight increase in the cavalry, arising from an augmentation of the dismounted men. There is an increase in the engineers, and also in the artillery. Now, I think that it is not very material, within certain limits, what is the amount of your infantry force. It should, of course, always he sufficient for the service of the year. An infantry man can be made (I trust that the military officers in the House will excuse me if I appear to make too light of the time necessary for the instruction of an infantry man) in a few months, and to judge from the example of the militia, I should say even in a few weeks. At all events, an infantry man may be rendered available for service in a very short time. A cavalry man requires a longer training, because not only have you to teach him what he himself has to do, but how his horse should be treated, and what it has to do. A double instruction is thus necessary in the case of the cavalry man; and that, therefore, is a reason why you should in time of peace increase your cavalry force rather beyond what, perhaps, might otherwise he considered necessary. The increase now proposed is entirely in dismounted men, and not in the number of horses; these dismounted men, however, will all be drilled to horse exercise, so that if it were necessary to render the regiment more efficient it would be only requisite to buy an additional number of horses and mount your men upon them. The artillery, however, is a corps which requires great practice and instruction. An inexperienced artilleryman is of very little value, and unless you have a good corps of artillery depend upon it your army will be very inefficient in the field. Next come the engineers, and that of all corps is one which requires most scientific knowledge, longest training, and the greatest amount of skill, experience, and instruction. The proposed increase of 1,100 men to the engineers is, therefore, one well deserving the approbation of the House. The total increase in respect to numbers under all these different heads is 6,917; the increase of charge is £636,000, part of which is temporary. These Estimates, in fact, must be considered as Estimates of transition, for, as I shall have to state very briefly (leaving the details to be treated by my hon. Friend), there is an increase in other items, which arises out of contracts made during the war and not yet executed, 858 but which must be completed and paid for, as well as out of works, which will not, it is hoped, occur again to the same extent in future years. Independently, however, of having a force sufficient for the defence of the country, there is another consideration which has of late years been much dwelt upon and much forced upon public attention, but which for a considerable time did not sufficiently attract the notice either of the Government or of the country—I mean the necessity of defensive works for the protection of our dockyards and commercial ports, and for the protection also of such points ns Dovor, which may be said to be the key to the southern coast of England. These works were for many years almost entirely neglected. Of late years more attention has been paid to them; from time to time annual sums of money have been voted for the completion of such works, and thus the object in view has, to a certain extent, been accomplished. Both Portsmouth and Plymouth may now be said to be unassailable from the sea side; but they both require additional fortification on the land side. Dovor is becoming a fortress of considerable strength. That place is certainly of the utmost importance, because if the enemy were to get possession of Dovor, with its harbour and the facilities it would offer for their landing, this would of course be a, very inconvenient position to us for them to occupy. It is, therefore, obviously of the greatest importance that Dovor should be placed in a situation which would enable it to defend itself if attacked until assistance and support could arrive. It is necessary also to impress upon the House the high importance of protecting the dockyards—our great arsenals at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Sheerness, and Pembroke—against the attacks of a small army landing in the neighbourhood and shelling them on the land side; because, if our naval resources in those dockyards were destroyed there would be at once an end to our naval superiority, you would be left comparatively defenceless, and would be exposed to have any number of men landed upon any point of our coasts. These, Sir, are matters of the utmost importance, which for several years past have seriously occupied the attention of Her Majesty's Government, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) knows well (because he entered heartily and constantly into these deliberations when he was a Member of 859 the Government) the importance of this subject; he is aware that what has been done has not been useless, and that further application of the same means is required to accomplish the object we have in view. Then there is another item of expense which also belongs to the improved notions of the present day—I mean that connected with our barracks. In former times it was too much the habit to consider the soldier as a mere animal, to carry a musket during peace, and a thing to shoot and be shot at in time of war. Too little attention was paid to him as a moral and intellectual being, or to his comforts as a man, whether single or married. The attention of Government has been properly and usefully called by Parliament of late years to the necessity of better arrangements for the decent and comfortable habitation of soldiers in barracks at home. Such arrangements, however, are attended with considerable expense. When you have to provide for married men separate from the rest of their comrades; when you have to build places for their recreation, reading-rooms, and libraries, all these things require great addition to what used to be considered a tolerable barrack; and the construction of barracks upon new principles, as well as the alteration of old ones in conformity with those principles, necessarily increases the annual charge under this head. It is also very desirable that as far as possible the troops at home should he lodged in barracks. It is better for them as soldiers; it eases the civil population from that which is felt as a burden; it contributes to the steadiness of the men, to their moral habits, and is in all respects therefore a most desirable arrangement. But then, again, these arrangements cannot be effected without a considerable expenditure, and if the House therefore sees an increase under the head of "barracks," as compared with the expenditure of former years, I trust it will feel that this is really a sacrifice necessary for the accomplishment of objects which everybody admits to be most desirable, and which it is the duty of Parliament, as far as it can, to carry into effect. Then there is in the military departments a small increase, which may be the subject of diminution in a future year. The whole of the military departments are now brought under the Secretary for War, who is, as my hon. Friend (Sir John Ramsden) has stated, responsible for all the expenditure; and a great advantage to the service has 860 already arisen from the consolidation of the army, the Ordnance, and the Commissariat. In the manufacturing establishments there will be found an increase of £57,000 as compared with the expenditure of 1853–4. Now, I am quite aware of the jealousy with which those who represent the private manufacturers of arms regard the manufacturing establishments of the Crown. But I can assure the hon. Gentlemen the Members for Warwickshire that the Government never contemplated having establishments of this kind sufficient in magnitude to dispense with the employment of the trade. Such a thing would be out of the question. There is a great advantage in the possession by the Government of manufactories carried on under their superintendence, where experiments can he made, and where standards can be used with which to compare the works of private traders; but it would be absurd to suppose that any Government establishments could be upon such a scale as to supply the entire wants of the army with regard to muskets. We were obliged, when the late war broke out, to have recourse, not only to our own trade, but to manufacturers of arms in Belgium and America. Very objectionable in principle this, no doubt, was, but at the same time necessity has no law, and we had to choose between leaving the army with their old "Brown Bess," which everybody admitted to be an inferior weapon, or to go abroad to procure proper weapons for our troops. Even now, with all the contracts which have been fulfilled, and those which are in course of execution, we shall only be able to furnish Enfield rifles to the troops of the Line; there will still be the militiamen to be armed with them; and if they are to be armed at all I apprehend this force ought to have as good a weapon as any other branch of our force. There ought, also, to be a certain quantity of muskets in store to be ready for emergencies; besides which there is an annual consumption which requires to be supplied; and if we were ever called upon to defend ourselves what would the people of this country say if, offering themselves in hundreds and thousands as volunteers, we had nothing but broomsticks to place in their hands? We must, then, have a certain store of small arms in hand, and that is the object which the Government has in view. Well, then, there is the establishment at Woolwich, which is really deserving of a visit from any Gentleman who takes an interest 861 in these things. There is a perfection of machinery, a perfection of ingenuity, a successful application of science to practical purposes which must afford the greatest pleasure to anybody who can understand these things and take an interest in them. And the advantage of this establishment at Woolwich during the last war can hardly be exaggerated. If we had not had there men of great talent, and machinery of great power, it would have been uttely impossible to have furnished the quantity of ammunition and projectiles which were necessary to carry on the war in the Crimea. Among other things, I may mention that Captain Boxer, one of the distinguished officers of that establishment, invented a method of exploding a shell by a well-regulated fuse, which produced the greatest possible improvement in that weapon of war. Whereas before, shells used to explode no man could tell when or where—sometimes on issuing from the mortar, sometimes in mid-air, sometimes not at all, even when they hit their object—by the fuse which Captain Boxer invented the utmost precision was attained as to the explosion of the shell at the very point at which it was desirable it should burst. There is also a manufactory for iron and brass ordnance, which is scarcely of less importance than the manufactory of small arms. The amount taken for this year is comparatively small, but enough to make as large a number of iron guns as it will be possible to make carriages for. The great improvement which has taken place in the calibre of guns used both by sea and land, has entirely put out of the question the small pieces of ordnance which were thought sufficient in former years to arm our vessels and defend our forts. It is absolutely necessary that both our floating batteries and batteries on shore should he armed with guns equal to any which can be brought against them. In the wages of artificers there is, of course, a proportionate increase. With regard to the clothing of the army, there is a small increase of £3,783. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Lambeth criticized the change which had lately been made in regard to the clothing of the army; but I think that change has been productive of great benefit. Formerly a certain sum—so much per man—was voted annually for clothing the troops, which was handed to the colonel of each regiment. He provided an army clothier to clothe the men, and the surplus which remained after the 862 army clothier's charges were paid was the profit of the colonel. Of course it was the interest of the clothier—it was of the colonel too—but I know that that was not an object which was looked to—to make the clothing pass muster as narrowly as possible. Now an allowance is made to the colonels, in addition to their pay, in lieu of their clothing emoluments, and the clothing is provided by the War Department. I am enabled to say that the clothing now supplied is of incomparably better material, while the expense to the public is very much the same. In the items of provisions, forage, and matters of that sort, there is, of course, an increase, depending on the number of the troops and the price of provisions. With regard to warlike stores there is a slight increase as compared with the year 1852, owing to contracts made during the war not yet fulfilled, which the Government are compelled to pay for when the articles are delivered. With regard to fortifications and barrack accommodation, there is an increase on the whole of £242,000. These charges arise out of the considerations which I have mentioned as connected with the defence of the country. They comprise certain works at Portsmouth, in the Channel Islands, at Dovor, and a certain sum is taken for continuing works at some of the principal commercial harbours of the country. There is another object which has attracted, and most deservingly attracted, the attention of the House,—I mean the provision for the education of the officers of the army. It is quite obvious that, whatever may be the courage of your officers, and whatever the bravery of your men, unless there be with your courage a mixture of a certain amount of science and familiarity with the operations of war, if there be not a mixture of cultivation of mind generally as well as a cultivation of technical knowledge—you do not get your full value out of your courage, and you sacrifice lives which might be saved. Though the dogged courage of the British officer and soldier may, under any circumstances of disadvantage, carry out the objects for which they strive, still it is the duty of the country to give its military men that instruction which will enable their courage to accomplish its objects with the least sacrifice of life and with the least loss to the army. Great improvements have been made in the regimental schools, and with regard to the officers, a Council has been appointed (of which the 863 Commander in Chief is the head), consisting of officers of great distinction, in communication, of course; with my hon. Friend the Secretary for War (though he is not actually a Member of the Council), its object being to frame a system of education for the officers which will be calculated to secure to the army men skilled in the profession, and whose minds, already generally cultivated, have been improved by a course of particular study and training. When that Commission has reported, its Report will be laid on the table, and I trust they will be successful in framing a system of education calculated to accomplish the objects I have mentioned. The total amount of the charge for the effective service of the army was in 1853–4, £7,404,291; in this year it is £9,025,360, making an increase of about £1,658,787. This is diminished by a decrease in the charge for the yeomanry, which we do not propose to call out this year, and there is a diminution in the non-effective services of £9,534, which leaves a total increase of £1,611,526. We are sensible that it is the duty of the Government to endeavour to combine a due regard for economy with that efficiency which I am sure this House and the country will wish should belong to the military service. We have made a reduction as compared with the last year of the war, and we propose these Estimates for the present year after a careful consideration of the various items of which each charge is composed. These Estimates contain, no doubt, many items which are open to Amendment and diminution in future years; but I hope the House will vote for the present year the number of men and the amount of charge which we propose; and during the next year it will be our duty to endeavour to see what items can he diminished. Some portion will naturally cease by the operation of causes which are now in action. I do not think that the amount of force is greater than will be required for the service of the country in time of peace, and many of the other charges, the excess upon which composes the greater portion of the aggregate excess beyond the Estimates of the year 1853–4, I am in hopes will cease during the present year. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary for War (Sir John Ramsden) is quite ready to give the Committee every detailed information as we go step by step through the Votes, and I am quite sure he will do it with that ability and clearness which have distinguished him on every occasion 864 when he has presented himself to the House. Though I have thought it my duty to undertake to make this general statement to the House, it was not from any doubt of the perfect competency of my hon. Friend. In another year, when he has had an opportunity of making himself better acquainted with the subject, he will perform that duty which I have thought it better to perform for him on the present occasion. The noble Viscount concluded by placing in the hands of the Chairman the first Vote—That a sum of £2,921,017 be granted to Her Majesty, in addition to a sum of £1,467,000 already voted, for defraying the Pay and Allowances of Her Majesty's Land Forces at home and abroad, exclusive of those stationed in the East Indies.
§ MR. STAFFORD
said, he had no doubt that the noble Lord would continue to give to the reform of the different departments the same attention he had paid since he succeeded to office: and he (Mr. Stafford) must congratulate the Committee on the improvements which had been made in the management of the army generally. He must, however, express his regret that the noble Lord had not touched on the grievances of the army medical department, and that the Government had, to all appearances, neglected the recommendations of the Committee which had sat to inquire into the subject. It was no answer to his complaints to say that a Commission had been appointed this year to inquire into this subject. It was better to appoint a Commission than to do nothing; but as a member of that Commission he should enter upon the task which it had undertaken with less hope, and should be less sanguine as to the results of its labour if he had seen any evidence of a greater desire to ameliorate the condition of this department than the Government had hitherto exhibited. So far as the comfort of the officers was concerned, the state of the army medical department was worse than it was before any inquiry took place, because their minds were more unsettled, their prospects were less determined, and, their anxieties were greater. What these officers desired was that the Government should either do something for them or should tell them that they would do nothing, and allow them to choose fairly between entering or continuing in the army, entering the service of the great steam companies, retiring into private practice, or emigrating to our Colonies or to America. 865 One effect of the present uncertainty was to retain in the senior ranks gentlemen who, without any disrespect to them be it spoken, were not now such efficient executive or administrative officers as they had been, and this was because they did not know what would be done with them. He hoped that some determination would be come to soon, in order that these gentlemen might have, at all events, that which was next best to a reformed medical body, a fixed and determined one, composed of men who knew what they had and what they had not to expect. The results of the last war, during which we saw our army at one time hastening to destruction, and at another so resuscitated that its average mortality was less than that in our own islands, had afforded us most important lessons, and we should be deeply guilty if we did not profit by those lessons. He was not prepared to object either to the number of men or the sums of money which the noble Lord had asked the House to vote, whilst, however, they ought on the one hand, to be justly proud of that spirit of order and loyalty which, not only in this country but in Ireland, rendered a large army unnecessary to enforce obedience, on the other hand they ought not to forget the severe pressure of the taxation to which the people of this country were at present subject. Of all delusions, that which was most noxious, prejudicial, and fatal, and most likely not only to ignore past experience, but to render it the parent of future disaster, was the opinion that our disasters during the late war arose from the insufficiency of our supplies, or the relutance of Ministers to ask that House to vote adequate sums for the maintenance of the military establishments. After the most careful consideration he had come to the conclusion that these causes had no more to do with our disasters than had the invention of gunpowder. Had we, under the same circumstances, sent out twice the number of men, and twice the quantity of stores, at twice the expense, the only result would have been that our mortality would have been twice as great, and our prestige would have been more than ever impaired. For the prevention of similar disasters in future we must look to other means than adding million after million to our army estimates and infinitely increasing our establishments. We must, as the noble Lord had said, look to the formation of such establishments as, not too expensive in time of peace, might 866 be efficient in time of war. If the Government bad arranged the establishments upon this principle, they would have established another claim to the gratitude of the country; but this could not be done so long as they left without adequate remuneration those to whom they must look for the health of the army—whom they could not stimulate by the brilliant rewards and splendid positions obtained by combatant officers, and who were now so dissatisfied with the service that the Director-General of the Army Medical Department had not candidates to fill up all the vacancies on his list. Therefore, he begged the Government to consider whether, during the present financial year, they could not do something for this department, especially by raising the pay of the assistant-surgeons and reconsidering the questions of retirement and of promotion from rank to rank. No doubt, much valuable evidence would be given to the Commission appointed to inquire into this subject; but much time must elapse before the Report of that Commission could be presented and acted upon, and he would therefore urge upon the members of the Government, and especially upon the noble Lord at the head of the War Department (Lord Panmure), that it was not yet too late to do something for the medical officers. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had justly praised the successful labours of the Commissioners who were sent out to the Crimea. The Army Medical Department felt that had they had power to carry out many of the suggestions made by that Commission, the state of the camp would not have been such as it was when the Commissioners arrived there. They felt aggrieved that credit should have been, given to the Commissioners for suggestions which they said they had previously made, but which had not been attended to. He (Mr. Stafford) had moved for the production of papers which would show whether or not this assertion was well founded. If it were, it would establish the necessity of giving to the officers of the Army Medical Department more powers; if it were not, it would prove that the officers of this department were deficient in the sanitary knowledge possessed by civilians, and would demonstrate the desirability of making some arrangement which should attract to it men of greater education and more scientific attainments than, under the existing system, would join the army. The Report of the Commissioners stated:— 867In May, 1855, the army arrived at its most healthy state. The weekly admissions into hospital averaged a little more than 1.6 per cent, of the force, and the weekly deaths little more than 8 per 1,000 of the force per annum. This death rate is about the same as exists in the healthier districts of England for males of the army ages. But assuming this present country rate as an attainable standard for the whole of England, we are at once struck with the very unhealthy condition of the army in home stations. It appears from the army statistical Report, 1853, that the mortality among infantry of the line in the United Kingdom is 16.8 per 1,000 per annum, from disease alone, while in the Foot Guards it is 19.8 per 1,000. In the model dwelling of the metropolis the mortality for all periods, from infancy to old age has ranged between 12.6 and 13.9 per 1,000 per annum, a little more than half the mortality of the metropolis for the same years. On comparing the mortality in these dwellings of all ages with the picked lives of the army, we have a most convincing proof of what may be done and how much requires to be done for the sanitary improvement of the soldier. The loss of efficiency from invaliding and sickness in the army also very much exceeds what is experienced by the working classes at the same ages.The noble Lord had said, and said most justly, that the Government had taken measures for improving the accommodation in barracks, and also in the clothing of the troops; but clothing, diet, and accommodation, whether in barracks or in the hospital, depended for their success upon the intellectual cultivation of the medical officers of the army. If none but the dregs of the young men adopting the medical profession were induced to enter the medical department of the army, so long would a wasteful prodigality be perpetuated, and so long would the lessons of the last war operate in vain.
§ MR. WATKIN
begged to express his thanks to the noble Lord for his able and comprehensive statement. He could assure the noble Lord that the greatest pressure had been put on all Members—at least on that side of the House—to urge the utmost economy in the Estimates; but, on this occasion, looking to the great reduction that had been made in the Estimates, they would be content to rely on the responsibility under which the noble Lord, as First Minister, had brought them forward—they must rely that Her Majesty's Government had duly considered the importance of maintaining the efficiency of the army, and had endeavoured to maintain the greatest amount of efficiency at the smallest practicable cost. He should have been glad to hear from the noble Lord something about the manner in which the Government proposed to follow up the progress of invention with regard 868 to the construction of arms and military machinery, for upon that much of the efficiency of a small army must necessarily depend. The system which was in force in the United States appeared to him to be well worthy of consideration. In that country a permanent Commission sat to inquire into all new inventions which might be brought forward from time to time relating to arms and military machinery, and every five years the army was re-equipped in accordance with their report, although doing so sometimes involved the disposal, at a loss, of a large quantity of arms and machinery. The result of that system was, to maximize the efficiency of the material of the army; and if ever this country should come into collision with the United States—which God avert!—it might be found that the army of the United States possessed improved weapons and material in which we were wanting. The noble Lord had told them, and all lovers of peace must have been glad to hear the statement, that England ought not to maintain a large standing army in time of peace, but that the endeavour ought to be made so to arrange our military organization that a small number of men might be sufficient for the defence of the country. Now, the utilization of the army for defensive purposes must depend in a great degree upon the rapidity with which commanders could obtain information from the coasts, and also upon the means available for transporting troops and material of war. With reference to the first of those points, he would venture to say that at present there were many places upon the coast where a hostile force, availing itself of screw steamers, and of the improved means of embarking and disembarking troops, might effect a landing without its being known for several hours even to the general commanding the district. He ventured, therefore, to call the attention of the Government to the expediency of constructing a coast telegraph, which might be worked by the coast-guard, and which would place every sinuosity of the coast in communication with head quarters. The question of the means which were available for the conveyance of troops and material of war was equally important; and how was the country provided in that respect? Why, he believed that notwithstanding the vast sums of money which had been expended upon railroads, and the number of miles of rails which had been constructed, a complete regiment of cavalry with its 869 Horses could not be conveyed from any of the principal termini in the country to any point without twenty-four hours' notice. Now, what was the cause of that? It was that the railway plant was not adapted for the conveyance of cavalry horses or military stores or appointments, and, therefore, in the event of an invasion, the practical difficulty would be felt of not being able to convey troops from point to point with despatch. Some years back this subject attracted the attention of the War Office, and experiments were made to test the facility of placing cavalry horses and field guns into railway trucks and cattle waggons, and those who witnessed those experiments had imagined that they would be followed up, and that something would be done, either by the Board of Trade or by the War Department, to provide against what would be a serious difficulty in case of invasion. That, however, had not been the case, and the result was that which he had described—namely, that the Government was utterly unprovided with the means of conveying troops with despatch. Now, he would venture to say that a little attention to the subject would enable these two departments, in communication with the railway companies, by a very slight alteration to make the present stock available for the purpose of conveying troops and material of war with despatch; and he believed that if the suggestion were acted upon, and if a coast telegraph was established, the country would, at a very small expenditure, obtain a far larger amount of efficiency for defensive purposes than it had ever before possessed.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
complained that privates and non-commissioned officers were obliged to pay for the passage of their wives and children when they were moved from one place to another. In one case which had been brought to his knowledge, a sergeant, who was sent from a garrison in England to a garrison in Ireland, had had to pay no less than £3 12s. for his wife and children. Before railways were made, the soldiers' wives travelled on the baggage waggons, but now the men had to pay for their travelling by railway, which they could ill afford. Now, that appeared to him to be a great hardship, and he should like to hear the opinion of some of the distinguished officers who sat in that House upon a point of vital importance to meritorious public servants.
SIR. FRANCIS BARING
complained that the check which had formerly existed 870 with reference to the transfer of the Government of a sum of money voted for one department of the army to the service of another no longer obtained, inasmuch as the expenditure for the various military departments was combined tinder one head, so that under the present arrangement a sum which had been voted for the militia force might be laid out by the Secretary for War, with the consent of the Treasury, upon the regular army or upon the Commissariat without any new Vote of Parliament. But passing from that point he must observe that although he had listened to the statement which had been made by his noble Friend with great satisfaction, yet by no means with so much satisfaction as had been expressed by an hon. Gentleman who called himself an economist, he (Sir F. Baring) regarded the amount of the proposed Estimates as by no means inconsiderable. He found, indeed, that those Estimates exceeded by a sum of £2,000,000 the average annual amount of the military estimates from the year 1844 to 1854; while, taking the naval estimates into account, he found that the sum asked for the combined services, deducting the charge for the coastguard service, exceeded by £3,000,000 the average sum voted for a similar purpose during the period to which he had referred. No doubt it was to some extent satisfactory to hear that a part of this expenditure was temporary, and he quite admitted that the Government had done a great deal in reducing the war expenditure, and that this might be deemed a year of transition. The objection which he entertained to the amount of the Estimates, and which was entertained to it by those with whom he had communicated out of doors, had its origin in no desire that our military service should be established upon an inefficient footing—on the contrary, he, as well as they, was desirous that it should be rendered thoroughly efficient—but they at the same time were opposed to a greater degree of expenditure than was absolutely necessary in order that that efficiency might be attained. Whether it was expedient that the camp at Aldershot should or should not be continued was a matter of some doubt in the minds of military men; but, be that as it might, it was, at all events, perfectly clear that a larger sum should not be laid out upon it than was absolutely required to place it upon a proper footing. There was one item in the Estimates—that for the erection of fortifications and 871 the building of barracks—which appeared to him to be very large. The House perhaps was not aware of the amount it was pledging itself to. It was true that they were only asked for a very small sum this year; but that was taking a very shortsighted view of the matter. The total amount of the original Estimate for those works was £2,971,000; of which sum £1,484,000 had been already expended, while he found that a further sum of £1,800,000 would be required for the purpose, making a total of £3,284,000. That, he should repeat, was a very large sum, and the country had a right to know that, while the objects for which it was asked were in themselves good, no more than the necessary amount of money was spent upon their attainment. But the Committee would be wrong in supposing that these were the only public works that were going on. There was besides that sum, a further sum of £1,000,000 for works in connection with our naval departments; and then came the Votes for other public works under the head of the Civil Service Estimates; so that the subject of our expenditure in connection with improvements of that nature became one to which the attention of Parliament should be carefully directed. He hoped that such expenditure would be found, next year, to be diminished; but he was aware, from his own experience while in office, that when expenditure was once commenced it was extremely difficult to put an end to it. He was opposed—not-withstanding his objection to the amount of the Estimates—to the proposal for referring them to a Select Committee in the present year, because it was clear that no Report could be made before the close of the Session. He should, however, recommend the adoption of that course next Session, when a Committee would have full time to consider the subject, and in doing so he was advocating no new policy, inasmuch as the naval and military Estimates had in the year 1848 been referred to a Committee, at the head of which was the present Duke of Somerset. Great advantage had resulted from their labours, and he felt assured that a similar advantage would be found to follow the appointment of a Committee next Session with a similar object. If they should even come to the conclusion that the proposed expenditure was necessary for the efficiency of the public service, they would have conferred a benefit upon 872 the country, because then the community at large would be satisfied that they were not called upon to pay more than the real exigencies of the State demanded they should contribute.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, he quite agreed that in the present Session it would scarcely be possible to carry out the proposition of the hon. Member for Lambeth; but at the same time he was convinced that, if a Select Committee were to be appointed without interfering with the Executive Government in regard to the present actual Estimates for the army, a very great advantage would arise. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir F. Baring) had recommended that the Committee should be moved for in the ensuing year; but he doubted whether it were not better that the Committee should be appointed during the present Session. It was not well to put off everything until next Session; and even although the Committee should not be able to report during the present Session, the evidence which it would collect would be of the greatest service to the House. There must still be three months before the recess, and the Committee might then be renewed next Session. An hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stafford) had alluded to the state of the Medical Department, in directing attention to which he had rendered great service. This department did not, however, yet occupy its fitting status. Its position ought to be raised for the advantage of the army, so that it might draw into it a due number of the competent persons who were to be found in the civil department of the profession. He concurred in the statements which had been made of the hardships suffered by the wives and families of soldiers, and it would be the duty of the Government to take care that these cruel circumstances did not occur again. With regard to Aldershot and Chobham, he must remind the House that the original intentions of Lord Hardinge in establishing camps at these places had been deviated from. Lord Hardinge's plan was a good one—of purchasing Aldershot for exercising the troops—but there was no idea originally of building huts there. It was very useful that the troops should be collected together for four or five months in camp, in order that they might go through the operations which might be required in actual war; but to plant them there for a whole year, during the larger portion of which no operations of importance could be executed, was perfectly 873 useless, and exposed both officers and men to hardships, while it put the country to great expense. It was found that the huts were not weather-proof, and now the Government were going to build permanent barracks. But the question was, whether there were not barracks enough in other parts of the country. In his humble opinion, this project ought not to be persevered in. It was very unadvisable to create disgust and dislike to the military service on the part of officers and men by exposing them to needless inconvenience. In the winter it was extremely irksome to be quartered at such a place. There was no power of practising the men, and if they were only to march on the main roads they could do that in whatever barracks they might be stationed. He would suggest to the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) that this subject ought to be reconsidered. It was extremely useful to have, as on the Continent, encampments of troops in those months of the year in which they could be exercised in great operations; but there was much inconvenience and unpleasantness to the troops in such permanent quarters, while the country was exposed to enormous expense. He regretted that he had only heard a portion of the speech of the noble Lord, but what he heard was, he thought, very able and satisfactory. He entirely agreed with him, that there was now more necessity than ever for placing our great maritime depôts, such as Portsmouth, Plymouth, Dovor, and Pembroke, in a state of perfect security. Hitherto they had not been in a state of security, and the introduction, of steam, the power of transporting great armies with rapidity, and the smallness of our standing army imposed upon the Government the necessity of providing for the defence of these places. It must be recollected that many of the great capitals of Europe, as well as their great depots, were most expensively fortified. It had been found possible in the late war to transport from England, a distance of 5,000 miles, and from the south of France, a distance of 3,000 miles, a force of between 300,000 and 400,000 men and 70,000 or 80,000 horses within a comparatively short period. Economy was to be considered, no doubt, but whatever expenses the Government considered it prudent to incur in providing for the security of our great depôts and arsenals, and in maintaining the requisite number of troops, 874 would, he had no doubt, be cheerfully voted by the House of Commons. The number of troops he regarded as a matter to be proposed upon the responsibility of the Government, and not of the House of Commons. Various attempts had been made to show that the House of Commons was chiefly responsible for the defects in our preparations at the breaking out of the last war. He could not concur in those charges; for he considered that, if at any time the Government had considered it necessary to maintain a larger force, and had stated their reasons, it would have been voted by the House. These defects were too much a consequence, as it seemed to him, of certain weaknesses on the part of recent Governments, and of the desire for popularity in keeping down the Estimates. When he found that at present there were only thirty-one regiments in England and seven battalions of Guards, he could not consider that we had an excessive amount of force. They were told last year by the noble Lord at the head of the Government that the British army was a fighting army. He was glad to find that the noble Lord was now more fully alive than he appeared to be then to the importance of giving our officers a scientific and professional training. The House might depend upon it that our officers could not be too well instructed in the duties of their profession, and he trusted that the noble Lord would not lose sight of so important an object, but, on the contrary, would endeavour to promote it by every means in his power.
§ COLONEL BOLDERO
wished to call the attention of the noble Lord to two important points. The noble Lord had referred in his speech to the insecurity of some of our dockyards and arsenals, but he had overlooked the most important of them all—he meant Woolwich. He visited that place last week, and to his great surprise found an enormous mass of buildings recently erected at a very heavy cost. The machinery was of the most beautiful description, and he should think the value of the property in buildings and stores was not much less than £20,000,000. Now, Woolwich was entirely undefended; there was not a single fort to protect it, and, in the not impossible event of two or three fast steamers of the enemy dashing up the river and getting past Tilbury and Gravesend, and shelling the arsenal, one whole army and fleet would be seriously crippled for all the purposes of war—because, it must be remembered, that our works at 875 Woolwich were for the supply both of our land and naval forces. During the last European war, storehouses were built inland, and he believed that upwards of £1,500,000 were spent at Weedon in making it a grand depot for stores and powder. The Government were now drawing the stores away from Weedon and the Tower, and concentrating them at Woolwich, Now, Woolwich might he shelled in a night. Hence the necessity for making that place as strong as possible. He had heard some talk of block-ships, armed with heavy guns, being placed on the opposite side of the river. That, he believed, was the only mode of defence available, and he trusted the noble Lord would lose no time in carrying it into effect. He hoped, at the same time, that instead of concentrating the stores at Woolwich the noble Lord would remove at least part of them to Weedon and other places, where they would be more secure from the attack of an enemy. The second point to which he desired to call the attention of the noble Lord was the position of subalterns. When an ensign joined the army, it was necessary that, after paying £450 or £500 for his commission, he should have a good outfit and £20 in his pocket. The following table showed his income and necessary expenditure for his first year of service:—
It would be observed, that to keep his expenditure within £107, the ensign must not drink one glass of beer or wine, or take any amusement or recreation whatever. His loss during his second year was not so large, but still there was a loss, as the following table would show:— 876
£ s. d. 50 days' pay to band and mess, on appointment 13 2 6 Liveries for servant, and other necessaries on joining, at lowest 10 0 0 Messing at 2s. 6d. per day, for 365 days 45 12 6 Breakfast at 1s. ditto 18 5 0 Servant, regulation wages, 1s. 6 dper week 3 18 0 Washing linen, regulation, at 16s. a month 9 12 0 Servant's washing, at 1s. a month 0 12 0 20 days' pay, as per regulations, to band and mess, a year 5 5 0 £106 7 0 Pay at 5s. 3d. per day for 365 days 95 16 3 Balance against ensign 10 10 9 £106 7 0
Surely, that was not the position in which subalterns should be placed. It might not be prudent, at the present moment, to advocate an increase of pay; but there were other modes in which they might be benefited. In the first place, the barrack-room of an ensign ought to be furnished with plain simple beds and bedding, the same as the soldiers, but of a better quality. That was the French system, and it saved the French soldiers the disadvantage of carrying their beds and bedding with them, when they moved from one station to another. Next, if a band was necessary, the Government should find the instruments, as they did for the German and Italian Legions. They ought, also, to act in a more liberal spirit with respect to the messes, and it would be a great advantage to an ensign to have the price of his mess reduced by 1/s. or even 6d. a day; it would do something to enable subalterns to live on their pay. That was a very important object, particularly in reference to the promotion of sergeants from the ranks.
£ s. d. Messing, at 2s. 6d. a day, for 365 days. 45 12 6 Breakfast at 1s. ditto 18 5 0 Servant, regulation wages, 1s. 6d. a week 3 18 0 Washing linen, as per regulation, at 16s. per month 9 12 0 Servant's washing, at 1s. a month 0 12 0 20 days' pay to band and mess, for one year, regulation 5 5 0 Wear and tear of clothes, boots, linen, and other necessaries, say 20 0 0 £103 4 6 Pay at 5s. 3d. per day, for 365 days 95 16 3 Balance against ensign 7 8 3 £103 4 6
was understood to say that, though his views might not be very popular, he certainly was not a very exaggerated advocate for a reduced army. He could not conceive any advantage in referring the army estimates to a Select Committee; he thought they would be better understood by an officer of the department to which they belonged than by a Committee of this House. In cases where the wives of soldiers were permitted to accompany them, it was rather hard that they were not allowed some means of transit, as was the case before the time of railways. He observed that Aldershot had become a sort of military town rather than a camp, and was now a very bad place for soldiers, both as regards their discipline and their 877 health. They did not learn drill, nor, indeed anything at all but to grumble; they lived in dirty, damp, ill-constructed huts The camp at Chobham was infinitely better. There the men at least were under canvas. It was a diversion, and they liked it. It was quite a contrast to the dreary misery of Aldershot. In respect to the reduction of the cavalry, he would wish the House to observe that a cavalry soldier took two years to form. In the last war, we were lamentably deficient of cavalry; it was a most important part of any army, and it was quite impossible that, with our present force of that arm, we could carry on war on the territory of any foreign power. But the chances were a hundred to one against another campaign like that of the Crimea occurring, if we should be at war again. After one short march and one battle, they sat down to a siege; and, with the exception of that one memorable and fatal day at Balaklava, there was no occasion on which the cavalry could be brought into action. If they had marched into the interior of the country, there would not have been a day on which they would not have found the want of cavalry a serious detriment. Even on the principle of economy he objected to the course taken. If the army must be reduced, they ought not to reduce the rank and file, but the staff, which was kept at a much greater strength than was necessary. Then, if they were to amalgamate the regiments that were reduced, so that instead of keeping up two regiments at half their force, they would have one at its full force, there would be a great saving of expense. He complained of the hardship upon cavalry officers, that they had to find their own forage, which was not the case with infantry officers, who, when their duties required them to keep a horse, were allowed forage, or a certain amount of pay in lieu of it.
§ GENERAL THOMPSON
said, a subject like the present had three faces. There was the question of the goodness of the plans proposed; of the scale on which they were to be executed; and the purposes to which they were to be applied. If on either of the two last he should be obliged to join with those who were probably meditating an Amendment, he should be sorry it should be attributed to discontentment with the first. He would only take the opportunity to impress the enormous economy of having everything of the best. For example, an infantry soldier was held to cost £30 a year. The cost of a musket 878 was £2, and of a rifle £10; so that, if the rifle only lasted four years, it would make an increase of cost of £2 a year, and the question would be whether, for certain services, fifteen of the men at £32 a year would not be better than the sixteen at £30. In the case of cavalry it was the same. A cavalry man and his horse were held to cost £75 a year; and if it was proposed to add £20 to the price of the horse, and the horse lasted only four years, this would make the cost of the better mounted men £80 a year, and the question would he, whether, for certain services, fifteen such cavalry would not be better than sixteen of the other. There was a tradition in India, that an English officer visiting one of the Dutch settlements, asked the Governor how it was that all his troops were riflemen; to which the Dutchman replied, "We cannot afford anything else." This did not prove that all infantry should be armed with rifles, but only that the Dutchman knew it was true in his own circumstances.
wished to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that, although the War Department had paid the field allowances of the officers of the Italian Legion stationed at Malta during the war, they had not paid them to the British officers, and he thought it was due to the widows and families of such of the officers as had fallen in the Crimea that those allowances should be paid.
said, in reference to the Arsenal at Woolwich, in which the whole material of our army was now concentrated, that no soldier could shut his eyes to the possibility of its falling into the hands of an enemy if they should once succeed in landing on our shores, in which case there was no place from which a battery of field artillery could be equipped, or a body of troops supplied with any of the ordinary material of war. He would not advocate the establishment of additional workshops, but he thought there might be other places in which stores might be kept in reserve. He found from the Estimates that considerable reductions had been made in the strength of our infantry and cavalry regiments, the reduction in the rank and file amounting to about 20,000 men; the regiments were in fact reduced to cue former peace establishment. He would draw the attention of the Government to the advantage which would result, when reductions were pressed upon them by popular clamour, from so making those reductions that they should be visible, tangible ones. 879 A decrease in the rank and file struck at the root of the efficiency of every individual regiment, while it left the number of regiments exactly the same. Now, he ventured to say that one of the principal causes of the sufferings of our army during the late war was the want of men. The regiments sent out to the Crimea from this country were made up in the first instance by spoiling other battalions. Some of the regiments which succeeded those, arrived out not more than 500 strong, and even then many of the men were recruits. The same result might be anticipated in any future emergency if we followed the same system and kept our regiments at so reduced an establishment as 840 men. What he would wish was that our regiments should muster at the very least 1,200 men, to accomplish which he would gladly see a reduction of ten battalions of infantry and of one-half the cavalry regiments. He should recommend that the number of regiments should be reduced, and that the saving thus effected should be applied in giving additional rank and file to those which were retained.
§ COLONEL SYKES
concurred in the opinions expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster and others: namely, that the Estimates should be referred annually to a Committee, and trusted that so prudent a proposition would not be lost sight of. Such a course would have at least this good effect, it would satisfy the public mind that, although the Votes might be passed before comparatively empty benches, the details would be elaborately looked into by competent persons appointed by that House.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I cannot offer a word of objection to the proposal before the Committee. No doubt, it is very wise to have added 7,000 men to our former peace establishment, and the reasons of my noble Friend are sufficient to show the necessity for such a course. I own, however, that I have heard with some apprehension various suggestions made in the course of this discussion with regard to our military expenditure. It cannot but occur, I think, to any person who considers the state of our finances that unless very considerable reductions are made before the Estimates of next year are brought forward, those finances will be in a condition which this House cannot contemplate with satisfaction. I remember my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late Parliament 880 stated that if our ancestors who incurred the great national debt had pursued the course which he and the present Government were now pursuing, we should not have had reason to complain of the burden of that great debt. But I fear, unless very large reductions are made, that next year we must either depart from the principle laid down by my right hon. Friend, or we must do that which this House will be very unwilling to do—impose new taxes to a very considerable amount. My right hon. Friend, when he brought forward the Budget, showed that his proposals were quite sufficient for the present year. But his revenue for the present year included about £4,500,000 of income tax which will not figure to his credit in the next year's accounts, and his whole surplus, after he had taken off £500,000 from the tea duties, did not amount to more than £400,000. Let the Committee consider what the state of our finances will be next year, if, not having this £4,500,000 of income tax, we have to provide Estimates anything like those of the present year, with an increase of £1,600,000 over our former peace establishment as to the army, an increase of about £1,000,000 in the navy, and a similar increase in our civil estimates, which have got up of late years with frightful rapidity. I am quite ready to support the present Vote and any succeeding ones that may be necessary for the service of the present year; but I trust that an opportunity will be afforded us next year, whether on the proposal of my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Baring) or of some other Member, for discussing the expediency of appointing a Select Committee, and that the Government will take into their serious consideration the amount of the Estimates, and endeavour to propose reduced ones for 1858. I know we are told, and frequently told, that it was the very great reductions made in our military establishments which created the difficulties of the war. We certainly undertook at the commencement of that war an operation which was somewhat beyond the means of an army such as we at that time maintained. An hon. and gallant Gentleman has stated very truly that the regiments which were sent out were strengthened by taking from other battalions the men necessary to form those regiments; and that thereby the whole army was weakened. The operations we performed at the commencement of the war was, 881 I believe, the best which, under the circumstances, could have been taken; but I do not think such an occasion is likely to occur again; and I am sure that if we are to be governed by the consideration that we ought always to be prepared for such another operation as the siege of Sebastopol, we shall want, not 126,000, but 200,000 men. I cannot suppose that either the Government or the Parliament will consider it advisable to keep up a large army merely on the chances of such a contingency. I should hope, therefore, before Parliament meets again (and we are told that everything is to be done rightly and properly next year), Her Majesty's Government will be prepared with considerable reductions both in the Army and Navy Estimates, but still more especially in those of the civil service. I am sorry to observe from the estimates for erecting permanent barracks and other buildings, that there seems to be a rage for laying out money in brick and mortar, which I am afraid will land us either in new taxes or necessitate the incurring of a fresh debt. In so saying, I know I rather run counter to the speeches made during the discussion on the present Estimates. I do not venture to differ with any of the military gentlemen who have spoken, and express no opinion as to whether it is right to keep up so large a staff, or to reduce the staff, and have a greater number of rank and file; but with regard to the general state of our finances and of the Estimates I hope they will attract the very serious attention of the Government during the recess.
§ SIR JOHN RAMSDEN
said, he would endeavour to answer as well as he could the questions which had been put by hon. Gentlemen. The hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Watkin) would find that two of his suggestions had already been anticipated by the Government. There was a Committee composed of artillery officers and scientific men whose duty it was to report on all inventions connected with the Ordnance. There was also another charge for a Committee which conducted investigations into the improvements of small arms. With regard to the recommendation of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), that the Government should undertake to provide for the carriage of the wives and children of soldiers, on page 14 would be found an item of £63,000 for the movement of troops at home, in which was included a charge for the carriage of wives 882 of soldiers who had accompanied their husbands to the port of embarkation, but who were not allowed to embark with them. Many hon. Gentlemen complained of the expense of Aldershot. No doubt the expense was great, but the object was great also, and a very large portion of the expense had been incurred in bringing up the barrack accommodation to the level of the recommendations of the Barrack Committee. Formerly the expense of constructing barracks used to be about £65 per man, now it was more than £100. The hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De L. Evans) spoke of the great inconvenience experienced by officers and men quartered there during the winter, but that inconvenience would be greatly diminished, as it was intended to make it a summer camp of instruction, and the troops quartered there during the winter would be accommodated in permanent barracks. He was glad to find that the hon. and gallant Member approved of the works now going on in Portsmouth; and with regard to the defence of Woolwich, which had been adverted to by the gallant Member for Chippenham (Colonel Boldero), whenever there was the chance of an invasion the Arsenal would be defended by block-ships and gunboats placed in the river. The reports given by the gallant Member for Bodmin (Captain Vivian) of the sickness of Alder-shot differed much from the reports received by the Government. The average of the sick there was 3 per cent, while the average in the different home barracks was 4 per cent. He would take care that the subject of the allowances at Malta, adverted to by the hon. and gallant Member for Dungannon (Colonel Knox) was inquired into, but at the present moment it was impossible for him to give an answer. The Government felt all the importance of the subject of the reform in the Army Medical Department which had been raised by the hon. Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford), and if there had been any delay it arose solely from the desire of the Government to make the fullest inquiries before taking any steps. When the report of the Commission which had been appointed was received they would take steps to place the department on the most efficient footing. With reference to the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Ludlow (Colonel Herbert), the reason why the Government preferred to keep up the staff and reduce the rank and file, was that it 883 took more time to train officers than men, and in the event of war the ranks could be more readily filled up than any deficiencies supplied in the staff.
observed, that the recommendation of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) applied not merely to the wives of soldiers proceeding to a point of embarkation, but to carriage of them on all occasions when troops were moved from one station to another at home.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
called the attention of the Government to the case of the thirty-six captains of cavalry regiments who had been reduced to half-pay since the termination of the war. When the augmentation took place it was understood that it was not to be merely a war, but a permanent augmentation, and on the faith of that several officers had purchased their troops.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
directed attention to the circumstance, that while sergeants who had obtained their promotion since the 10th of January, 1857, were entitled to extra pay, those whose period of service was longer, and who, consequently, were more deserving of it, remained as they were.
§ MR. NOEL
said, he rose to complain of the stoppages from cavalry officers on account of forage for their chargers. Those stoppages amounted to a sum of £40,000 in the year, and as no similar deduction was made from the pay of such infantry officers as were allowed chargers, he thought the Government ought to take the matter into consideration, with a view to giving some relief to cavalry officers. He served on the Committee last year, when the Duke of Cambridge stated his opinion that cavalry officers ought not to be liable for charges for their horses.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
explained, that his question related to the wives of sergeants and privates moved from one part of the United Kingdom to another. He was acquainted with the case of three sergeants who, with their wives and families, had to travel 700 miles at an expense to one of them of £3 12s., to another of £2 1s., and to the other of a smaller sum. The consequence was, that their pay was mortgaged for a considerable time.
SIR WILLIAM WILLIAMS
could not help saying a few words relative to the pay of the sergeants of the army. At present it was altogether inadequate. Any one who was in the habit of attending upon courts-martial must have felt convinced 884 that if the pay and position of the sergeants were bettered, they would not so frequently run the risk of degradation by the commission of such offences as they were now too frequently charged with. The discipline of the army would, therefore, be very much improved, and he hoped that in the Estimates of next year the consideration would not be overlooked.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
complimented the Under Secretary for War upon the complete and accurate statement which he had made to the House, but expressed a hope that no extensive barracks would be constructed at Aldershot. It would be more economical and better for the service that barracks should be constructed elsewhere, and that the troops should be distributed during the non-exercising period of the year, and assembled during the summer in camp, and not either in barracks or in huts.
SIR FREDERICK SMITH
said, that the barracks now erected at Aldershot were only for a portion of the troops quartered there. That point had been selected because it was at the junction of two railways communicating directly with Portland and the North Foreland, and by which troops could speedily be thrown upon any part of the coast between those two points. He thought, that when the arrangements for the coast defences were complete, the arrangement would be very valuable.
§ SIR JOHN RAMSDEN
said, that the permanent barracks to be erected at Aldershot would be for the accommodation of only 4,000 infantry, 1,200 cavalry, and two batteries of artillery. With regard to soldiers' wives and families moving—formerly, when regiments were on the march, the wives of soldiers were allowed to ride on the baggage-waggons. Since the alteration of the mode of travelling, their case had not been under the consideration of the Government; but he promised that the subject should receive the attention of the War Department. As to the stoppages from the pay of cavalry officers for forage, all he could say was, that the regulations were now being revised, and although he did not think the Government would consider themselves justified in making so large an addition to the officers' pay as the alterations in question would involve, still the matter was generally under consideration.
LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that the position of the hon. Under Secretary for 885 War was a very difficult one. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell), while stating that he should not oppose these Estimates, had given the hon. Gentleman notice, that if they were not reduced, he must next year he prepared for great opposition; and since then many officers of great experience had suggested additional expenditure in almost every department. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer should, early in the evening, have given what seemed to him a very unnecessary promise to strike off from the tariff thirty or forty articles, the duty on which no one felt, and to which no one objected. He defied any hon. Member to name a single article among those which he had mentioned, to which any working man had the slightest objection. Some Gentlemen, following the unwise example of Sir Robert Peel, had a great fancy for striking off small articles; but he regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have shown a disposition to adopt such a course.
Vote agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, a sum, not exceeding £369,055, be granted to Her Majesty (in addition to the sum of £184,000 already voted on account), towards defraying the charge of the Miscellaneous Charges of Her Majesty's Land Forces at Home and Abroad, exclusive of India, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1857 to the 31st day of March 1858, inclusive.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
wished to know the meaning of an item of £11,000 for "allowances" to the Guards, which were not made to the line.
§ SIR JOHN RAMSDEN
said, that it was a sum in lieu of an allowance which had been made to the Guards from time immemorial, and he believed went to provide some extra hospital accommodation.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
complained of the privileges enjoyed by the Guards over their brethren of the line, which he was informed worked injuriously for the efficiency of the service. A captain in the Guards was a Lieutenant Colonel in the army, and the result in the last campaign had been, that Guards' captains had had the command over a number of officers superior to themselves in military knowledge and experience, and had had the command of 2,000 men in the trenches. He was informed, also, that the interior economy of a regiment of the Guards was 886 carried out mainly by the sergeants. He did not approve either of the preference given to Guardsmen in appointing them to commands. In the Crimea, three divisions were commanded by Guardsmen, the Chief of the Staff was a Guardsman, and so also was the Commander in Chief. He did not wish to detract from the merits of those gallant officers; on the contrary, he had a high opinion of them; but, at the same time, he thought that they had been chosen for their command more out of regard to their position in society than from their superiority over officers of the line. Officers of regiments of the Guards were appointed by selection of the colonel, and he saw no reason why the Guards and the line should not be on the same footing in that respect.
§ MR. BYNG
believed that there was nothing so detrimental to the army as these repeated attempts to draw a distinction between the Guards and the line. He believed that the utmost good feeling existed between the officers of both branches of the profession, and he could not sit still and hear it stated that the persons selected for high command in the Crimea had been selected by mere favouritism. The gallant Members for Greenwich (Sir W. Codrington) and East Norfolk (General Windham), were instances to the contrary. Such reflections were most injurious, and reflected no credit on those who made them.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
said, he had no intention of saying anything offensive with regard to the officers who had held command in the Crimea; on the contrary, he had expressed his appreciation of their merits.
§ MR. STAFFORD
said, that one of the hon. Members for Tavistock (Mr. J. Tre-lawny) had not said anything offensive, nor had his hon. Colleague (Mr. Byng) accused him of doing so; but he had said what meant nothing, as far as regarded the estimate under consideration. With regard to the £11,000 referred to by the hon. Baronet, that was a sum which went to what was called the "Stock Purse Fund," and recruiting service of the brigade. Now, he had seen the hospitals of the Guards, and they were conducted in a manner which other regiments would do well to imitate, and which might serve as a model for the rest of the army.
§ SIR WILLIAM CODRINGTON
said, that he would not enter into the comparative 887 merits of the Guards and the line; he only rose to state that the custom had been for the Guards to manage their own hospitals with assistance from the Government. That assistance had been commuted into a fixed sum, but the management of the hospitals was still in the Guards themselves.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Byng) had appeared to forget that the Guards were in a totally different position from the other regiments of the service. A captain in the Guards was a lieutenant colonel, and a lieutenant was a captain in the army, and officers of the Guards received much higher pay than officers of similar rank in the line. Passing from that subject, however, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the circumstance that thirty-four new assistant-chaplains had been appointed in connection with the garrisons stationed at our dockyards, each at a salary of from £200 to £300 per annum. Now, he had been informed that those garrisons had always hitherto been enabled to find sufficient church accommodation from the clergymen in their neighbourhood for a charge of from £25 to £30 per annum, and he could not see why the public money should be expended while the interests of religion were in no degree advanced.
§ LORD LOVAINE
, referring to the remarks which had been made with respect to the Guards, said, that if they held a higher rank and received a higher pay than the officers of the regiments of the line, they also paid a considerably larger amount of money for their commissions.
§ LORD ADOLPHUS VANE-TEMPEST
said, that if one of the hon. Members for Tavistock had endeavoured to instil a poison into the discussion, so far as the Guards were concerned, the other hon. Member (Mr. Byng) had sought to administer an antidote. For his own part, he had no hesitation in saying that the officers of the brigade of Guards might challenge the strictest investigation into the system of promotion pursued in their regiments as compared with the rest of the army.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
asked why it was that the appointment of a Major General Inspector of Foot Guards had been made with an Aide-camp and Assistant Adjutant General, when there was already a Lieutenant General Inspector of Infantry, 888 who was one of the most distinguished officers in the British service?
§ SIR JOHN RAMSDEN
said, that the appointment had been made with the view of placing the Guards upon the same footing with other regiments. The Major General, in fact, was nothing more than the Brigadier who commanded the Brigade of Guards.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
said, it was not to the name by which that officer might be called he objected, but to the pay which he received, amounting, as it did, to £125 8s. 4d. per annum. He could not understand why the Inspector General of Infantry should not discharge the duties of his office in the case of the whole army.
§ SIR JOHN RAMSDEN
said, that a major general was appointed brigadier of each brigade in the line, and that it had been desirable that the same course should be adopted in reference to the Guards.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that the Committee would remember that in the discussion which took place in the House on Friday last, with respect to the expediency of sending out the German Legion to the Cape, he gave notice that he should take the sense of the Committee on that Vote. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies had not accurately stated the expense which would be consequent on such a step. He (Mr. Adderley) had computed the charge which it would be necessary to incur on their disbandment in this country at the rate of £20 per man, while he had endeavoured to show that the Government had laid out upon those who were settled at the Cape at least five times that sum. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, attempted to cut down his calculation to something like one-fourth of its amount; but having since looked carefully into the matter he (Mr. Adderley) thought he should be able conclusively to establish that which he had in the first instance advanced. As the Votes appeared upon the paper, he found that there was a sum of £31,000 some odd hundreds set down as the amount of the pay of the German Legion per annum; and taking into account that that pay had been guaranteed for three years, the total sum on that head would amount to about £94,000. Now, he found that the second item—an item with regard to which he should wish to take the sense of the 889 Committee—was one of £50,000 for the purposes of erecting buildings upon those allotments of land upon which the German Legion was about to be settled in the colonies; while there was a charge of £11,500 for outfits. But to all these Estimates must be added £30,000 for their conveyance from this country; of £10,000 for; the conveyance of their families, whom he would take to be only one-third of the whole number; of £22,500 for rations, and £7,000, at the rate of one-third, for their families; of £20,000 for churches, schools, the salaries of chaplains, &c., all promised by Government; of £7,500 full pay, which they were to continue to receive on the voyage; of £15,000 for army camp equipage, &c.; of £200 for the passage of 20 supernumerary officers; and of £500 more for bedding. From this sum, however, the right hon. Gentleman claimed to make deductions. For instance, there was the sum of £40,000 voted by the Cape Parliament towards their expected receipt of the whole legion of 8,000 men; but on hearing of the offer from this Government being reduced by refusals to sending out 2,300 men instead of 8,000 men, they would no doubt reduce their Vote accordingly. The whole original offer of Government would have been a present of £800,000 to the Cape, and the colonists were so intoxicated at the prospect of receiving such immense plunder, that they voted £40,000, But when they found that only 2,300 were to be sent it was not to be supposed they would he bound by that Vote, which was a maximum Vote, only not to be exceeded. The Vote would probably be diminished to one-third, about £14,000. The right hon. Gentleman told the House it would have taken £64,000 to disband the German Legion, according to the lowest terms of the contract, being at the rate of £32 a man. He called upon the right hon. Gentleman to state how it would cost £32 a man. The engagement was to pay them a year's pay (£18), and to pay their expenses to Germany. [Mr. S. HERBERT: To North America.] That would perhaps be about; £5. [Mr. S. HERBERT: £7 or £8.] Well, £18 and £8 made £26, and that was a good way short of £32. The fact: was, however, that the two-thirds who; luckily had been so disbanded had cost, on the average, £20 per man, instead of £100. This House would abdicate its functions if they were to lavish five times as much as was necessary in projects of 890 this kind. They were told that they must defend the Cape; but he maintained that the German Legionaries were not the best force for defending the Cape. Were military colonists the best for that purpose, and if so, were there no soldiers of the English army to be found? There was already a large body of British troops, amounting to not less than 10,000, at the Cape. Then it was said that the Cape wanted settlers. But were these the best settlers? Were soldiers ever the best settlers? This was an ingenious scheme of the Governor of the Cape to form a body of military settlers who were at the same time to defend the Capo and to settle the country, and between these two stools his experiment would fall. In the whole history of colonization there had been no instance of the success of such a project. Sir George Grey, the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, had induced the Government to embark in this scheme upon the assumption of the success of a similar scheme in New Zealand, where Sir George Grey had been Governor. But there was not a colonist acquainted with New Zealand who did not condemn this experiment of Sir George Grey as a costly and entire failure, which had involved the colony in a debt of £90,000, while the colonists had not got so good a body of settlers as a similar expenditure would have obtained for them in sending out labouring men from this country. The Canadian pensioners were a similar burden, from which the country was still trying to free itself. This scheming, speculative Governor, who was of course himself very popular, had applied for a yearly vote of £40,000, which he obtained in 1855, and again in 1856, and which would again come into our Estimates this year, for improving the frontiers. He never could obtain any satisfactory information how this money was spent. It appeared that the Government were ready to give £800,000 for this experiment with the German Legion, and the right hon. Gentleman had to thank the roving tastes of the Legion that we were not saddled with a vote of £800,000. As it was, we incurred an expenditure of £270,000 in disbanding 2,300 Germans. If he were supported by the sense of the Committee he would move the reduction of the Vote by £50,112—namely, the allowance for building. If ever a Vote united extravagance with inefficiency, it was that which sent the German Legionaries to defend and settle the Cape. 891Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £318,943, be granted to Her Majesty (in addition to the sum of £184,000 already voted on account), towards defraying the charge of the Miscellaneous Charges of Her Majesty's Land Forces at Home and Abroad, exclusive of India, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1857 to the 31st day of March 1858 inclusive.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
regretted that he should be under the necessity of renewing the discussion which had taken place on this subject so short a time ago. He regretted also that the hon. Gentleman had thought it necessary to his argument to attack Sir George Grey, the present Governor of the Cape. It was not necessary that he should have done so. He had asserted that this scheme of settling the German Legion in South Africa originated with Sir George Grey. The hon. Gentleman was entirely mistaken. If he had read the papers with attention he would have seen that the scheme originated with the Government, and not with Sir George. Grey; if, therefore, censure attached to the proposal, it was upon the Government it ought to fall, and not upon that distinguished man. It had been his duty to watch the conduct of Sir George Grey, and he had admired the calmness and courage with which he had met a state of things that caused the most alarming apprehensions in the colony, and which would have broken down the spirit of an ordinary man. He had upheld the courage of the colonists by the energy of his measures, and he had hitherto succeeded in preserving the colony from the evils, and this country from the expense, of another Kafir war. With regard to the number of Queen's troops now in the colony, he would rather stand there and justify the conduct of the Government in having sent timely succour to the Cape than have to explain and apologize for not having done so. In dealing with the Kafirs they had to deal with no common foe; and, far different from what they were some years since, they were now trained to the use of arms; they were formidable even to the disciplined troops of England; they knew what was the force which the British Government had at any time in South Africa; and he was convinced that the preservation of peace was due to the presence of those troops which the hon. Gentleman now blamed the Government for having sent to the Cape. But the question immediately before the Committee was the policy of the Government in encouraging the soldiers of the 892 German Legion to go to the Cape. He would in a few words remind the Committee of the circumstances under which that encouragement was given. During the war with Russia it was necessary for the Government to get soldiers wherever they could find them, and, among others, the men of the German Legion were enlisted in our service. Peace was fortunately signed before the German auxiliaries were called upon to fight; but he had been assured by those who were competent to form an opinion on the subject, that if the war had been continued they would have been found worthy to co-operate with the troops of England. The Government had entered into certain engagements with them, and it was both just and expedient that they should be dealt with in a liberal spirit. One of the engagements was to send the officers and men of the Legion, or as many of them as chose to remain under the protection of the British Government, to the North American colonies. He doubted whether sending them in great numbers there would have been the most useful measure that could have been adopted, either to the colonies or to the men themselves. The Government thought they could better dispose of them in another British colony. They considered the circumstances of the Cape, and how important it would be to have there a body of men trained to the use of arms and accustomed to act together as soldiers, who might be at once useful colonists and serve for the protection of the frontier. It had been asked, if they wanted military colonists, why did they not send English soldiers? That was a natural and popular observation to make, and it might, no doubt, have been possible for the Government to pick out a few men from different English regiments and send them to the Cape as mere colonists, and probably not colonists of the very best description; but that would not have served the same purpose as despatching thither a body of men tinder their own officers who had been disciplined and trained together, who went out as a regiment, and who were therefore in every way fitted to discharge the duties of military settlers.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
had no wish that English soldiers should be sent to the Cape as military settlers. What he said was, that if the Government wanted soldiers, let them send soldiers; if colonists, let them send colonists.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
continued. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think it a great 893 objection to the plan adopted by the Government that it was readily and gratefully accepted by the Cape colonists. Most persons, on the contrary, would regard that as a great advantage, and when the Government were able to act justly towards those with whom they had entered into engagements, and at the same time to do a thing exceedingly acceptable to a British colony, and calculated to add materially to its means of defence, while it relieved us from the necessity of maintaining a large military force at a great distance from home, they were bound to give the experiment a fair trial. But, said the hon. Gentleman, the measure had been a most extravagant one in point of expense. Now, the entire cost, as near as it could be calculated by the War Department, might be stated at £205,000. From that sum must he deducted the £60,000 which would have been expended under the original engagement in carrying the Legion to British North America, and also 80,000 which had been voted in two sums by the Cape colonists towards defraying the expense of establishing the men on their frontier. He was not sure whether the whole of that £80,000 which was contributed under the supposition that a greater number of men would be sent out would be received or not, but his belief was that it would. Thus, without taking into calculation that which the Government mentioned as likely to be available from the increased value of land in the neighbourhood of the military settlement, it would be seen that the ultimate expense to the mother country would be little more than £60,000. He did not believe that an extravagant bargain had been made with the German Legion. The transaction was in every respect perfectly justifiable; it was honourable to England, was calculated to add materially to the strength and prosperity of the Cape, and he hoped would receive the approbation and sanction of the Committee.
§ MR. REBOW
said, that 6,000 men belonging to the German Legion were quartered in his neighbourhood at Colchester, and exercised almost daily for six months in his park. He had great satisfaction in stating that, in his own opinion, and in that of the magistrates of Colchester, nothing could be more exemplary than the conduct of these men as long as they remained under the direction of their officers. He had been assured by the colonels of the different regiments that all the soldiers 894 would willingly have gone to the Cape, such was their desire to serve the British Crown.
MAJOR STUART WORTLEY
said, that nobody seemed to know whether the German Legion had gone to the Cape as soldiers or colonists. Such hybrids never had answered and never would. The probability was that if peace continued, their discipline would be relaxed. They would be disbanded, and would take service with the Dutch Boers. They would be in Boer-land when they were wanted, and we should in the hour of danger derive no advantage from them. But the men were now out; being out, houses must be found for them; and he must say that, after looking over the Estimates, he did not think the sum asked for was extravagant for the purpose. That being so, would the Committee be justified in refusing to agree to this Vote because they thought that the original policy of the Government was erroneous in sending them out?
§ MR. HENLEY
said, the gallant officer had, he thought, set before the Committee the difficulty in which they were placed. The men had been sent out to the Cape by the Government; there they were, and we must keep the engagement we had entered into with them. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies had dwelt upon the difficulty which the Government experienced in collecting these so-called well-trained foreigners during the war wills Russia. And what was done with them when they were collected? They were sent down to the park of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Rebow), who became highly delighted with them. They were kept there in training so long that not a soul of them ever had an opportunity of getting sight of a Russian, The Government were so chary of these men that they seemed to keep them in training for the amusement of the hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ MR. HENLEY
They were kept as a sight for the nursery maids of Essex. The Government, however, entered into an undertaking with them to send them to the Cape of Good Hope, and he should be the last man to urge that faith should not be kept with them; but he never could understand why our own soldiers were not treated as liberally as these foreigners. He did not believe that they would ever repay 895 us for our expenditure upon them. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) had told them that the elements of calculation with respect to this Vote were very uncertain, but it most unfortunately happened that the elements of payment were quite certain. He wished to be informed whether the pay of these men was to be the same in peace as in war.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
believed that the payment was fixed. If called out at all, they would be called out as colonial troops, and be paid by the colony.
§ MR. HENLEY
The men might get a taste for fighting, and it was possible that, as they were to be paid for fighting, they might enter into an arrangement with the Kafirs to keep fighting. He hoped his hon. Friend would not divide the Committee.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, it was very easy to make a joke out of anything, and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) notwithstanding his very grave and serious look, generally contrived somehow or other to throw a good deal of jocularity into his argument; but really his last supposition—namely, that the German Legion might enter into an arrangement with the Kafirs to fight with them in order that their pay might be increased—was one which he was surprised to hear made with a serious countenance. They must be not only very good soldiers, but better logicians, and even more persuasive than the right hon. Gentleman himself, if they could succeed in making such an arrangement with the Kafirs. It was all very well to treat lightly the measures taken by the Government during the last war to increase the amount of the disposable force of the country. It was impossible to obtain British-trained soldiers. All that could be got were got. These foreigners, then, were enlisted into the British service, and notwithstanding the right hon. Gentleman's jocose allusions to the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Rebow) and his nursery-maids, there could be no doubt that, if the war had continued, they would have done excellent service to the country in whose ranks they were enlisted. A part of them had been sent to Constantinople, and the rest would have followed, had not peace been made, in the spring. At the moment when the war ended, there was great anxiety at the Cape lest there should be another outbreak by the Kafirs, and it was thought very expedient to send these Germans out there in the combined character 896 of colonists and soldiers, to assist in the defence of the Cape. Then the right hon. Gentleman said the Government ought to have sent English soldiers instead. But many of the soldiers who were discharged upon the reduction of the army were men who, for various reasons, were unfit for military service, and would not have made good colonists, while those who were discharged from the service, not being invalided, naturally preferred returning to their families and occupations to leading a wild life in an unsettled part of the Cape. With all deference, therefore, to the right hon. Gentleman, and passing by the jokes he had been pleased to cut upon this subject, he (Viscount Palmerston) thought the Government were perfectly justified in resorting to this system of colonization for the purpose of adding to the defence of the Cape. The people in that colony were all of this opinion, and he had yet to learn that the result would not be such as to justify the measures which they had thought it expedient to adopt. Whether the Government were right or wrong, however, he agreed with those who had pointed out that the thing was done, and that it would be quite preposterous now to deprive these men of the means of settling themselves in their houses at the Cape. He believed the Government were perfectly right in what they had done; but even those who thought differently could not, he imagined, with any consistency, out off a sum intended to promote the comfort and well-being of men who were now actually at the Cape, and who had gone there on the faith of the promises made to them.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
suggested that the arrangement would have been more perfect, had the Government made a settlement in the shape of pin-money upon the ladies who accompanied the German Legion. It should be remembered that, while they were making this magnificent arrangement, the Government were stripping militiamen of their trousers, and turning them adrift without a sixpence. The best argument in favour of the colonization of the Cape by the German Legion was, he thought, that we had got rid of these men.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he did not think this was a matter for jocularity, and he must repudiate the doctrine that a Minister of State might involve the country in the expenditure of £1,000,000 upon an experiment, the success of which, as 897 the House had been told, was very problematical, although this House had never been consulted in any way; and that when, for the first time, the Bill was laid before them, they were to be told by Ministers that the thing was done, and that it was too late to complain. Whatever jokes might have been passed on both sides of the House on this subject, he did not think the country would look upon it as a very joking matter. He proposed to divide the Committee, not in order to undo the mischief which had been done already, but to put a stop to future mischief. The Government had undertaken to keep this German Legion, not only for three years in our actual pay, but for four years more. Now, he wished to stop this experiment, and save the country from any repetition of it. Supposing the settlement failed (and there seemed every chance of its failing), we should have it on our hands for ever. These men might surely build cottages for themselves, or the colony might build them.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
denied that the Government were chargeable with having taken the House by surprize on this question. It was perfectly notorious in the House, and through the country, that it was the intention of the Government to send the German Legion to the Cape; and if that was the intention, as a matter of course it could not be carried out without considerable expense.
said, he thought the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies was not correct in saying that the House had not been taken by surprise, because late in the Session of 1856, in answer to a question put to him, the noble Lord at the head of the Government said that, whatever the conduct of the Government was, it would be in accordance with the law and propriety. Now, he did not think that the Government had acted in accordance with the law, which only bound them to give to; the German Legion a year's pay, and a free passage to the colony.
LORD JOHN MANNERS
begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it was a part of the understanding with the German Legion that they should have a large sum of money expended upon the buildings in which they were to be placed after arriving at the Cape?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that all the details of this arrangement had been laid upon the table of the House among the papers connected with the German Legion. 898 He believed they did include this provision for buildings mentioned in the Estimates.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
could state positively that it was part of the arrangements with the officers and men that certain sums should be allowed them for the erection of their houses when they got to the Cape.
§ SIR JOHN WALSH
hoped the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) would not divide the Committee. Though it had been pretty well established that the bargain entered into by the Government was, in many respects, an improvident one, yet the faith of the country had now been pledged to this bargain, which could not therefore be violated without casting a slur upon the national honour.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he would withdraw his Amendment, as the sense of the Committee appeared to be against it; but gave notice that he should take an early opportunity of taking the sense of the House upon the policy of the Government.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (3.) £36,282, Volunteer Corps.
§ SIR JOHN RAMSDEN
, in reply to a question, said it was the intention of the Government to call out about one-third of the militia in the present year.
§ COLONEL GREVILLE
wished to know whether the men would receive £6 bounty whether called out for training or not, and whether any alteration would be made in the remuneration allowed to the surgeons?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that the militia formed no part of the charge in the present Estimates. When the militia was embodied, it was under the direction of the Commander in Chief, and formed a part of the army expenses. But when it was disembodied, it did not form a part of the Army Estimates. The estimate for that branch of the service was framed by a Committee of the House appointed for that purpose. That would be done later in the Session, and it would be more convenient to postpone any discussion relative to the details of the militia service until the Vote came regularly before the House.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £122,909, Secretary of State for War, and Commander in Chief.
§ SIR JOHN RAMSDEN
said, that an 899 extra staff of clerks was at present being kept on to wind up the war accounts, but as soon as they were wound up, which would probably be this year, the expense of the Department would be very much reduced.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed. Resolutions to be reported on Thursday.
§ Committee to sit again on Friday.