HC Deb 12 March 1858 vol 149 cc108-9

said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the Report of the Commissioners on the Sanitary State of the Army, especially to the portion that refers to the Foot Guards quartered in the Metropolis. When that Report reached him he could not help exclaiming— Can such things be, And overcome us like a summer's cloud Without our special wonder?' He had certainly been astonished at the high rate of mortality among the household troops brought to light by the Report of the Commissioners, and especially among that portion of the Foot Guards stationed in the Metropolis. There were several reasons expressed, but no doubt, the principal one was the state of the barracks occupied by the troops. Since reading the Report he had himself visited one of the barracks—those in Portman Street —to judge for himself. There in a small apartment without ventilation, without drainage, and surcharged with vitiated air, he found not less than twenty men huddled together; and the commanding officer informed him that that apartment was preferable to many other of the dormitories which were in use in the barracks, and that the great mortality existing was entirely attributable to want of exercise and the crowding of the men. The subject was one demanding their most serious attention, but as he understood an hon. and gallant Member intended to make a Motion regarding it, he would not now press the matter upon the House. We had an illustrious Duke at the Horse Guards who took a deep interest in the British soldier, and we had now for Minister of War a gallant General who, he was sure, had not allowed one day to elapse without turning his attention to the propriety of having sufficient and comfortable barracks for the brave men who had devoted their lives to the service of their country. He, therefore, would not further trespass on the House than to express his conviction that no parsimony would be allowed to stand in the way, but that they would cheerfully vote any sum that might be required to secure the comfort of the soldiers.


said, he could not but acknowledge the importance of the subject which had been brought under the notice of the House by the hon. Member. He could, however, agree with the hon. Gentleman that the first act he did in his official capacity as Minister for War was to ascertain what had been done by his predecessor in respect to this Report. he found that as far back as August last, Lord Panmure had appointed four different Commissions or Committees to inquire into the various subjects alluded to in the Report of the Commission presided over by his right hon. Friend the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert), and he had the authority of the Government for saying that they would not hesitate to call on the House to vote such a sum of money as might be considered necessary to carry out the requisite improvements.

House at rising, to adjourn till Monday next.