HC Deb 12 March 1858 vol 149 cc134-41

(20). 130,135 Men (Land Forces).

GENERAL PEEL, (who was indistinctly heard) said, that in accordance with the agreement into which the House had entered he should merely ask the Committee to vote the whole number of men which would be required for the service of the year, and a portion of the money upon each of the other Votes. The Vote for the number of men might perhaps require: some short explanation. The number he should ask the Committee to vote on the present occasion, exclusive of the Indian establishment, was 130,135, as against 126,796 voted last year, showing an increase of 3,339 men. But this by no means showed the true state of the army. The total strength of Her Majesty's forces, including the troops in India, had increased from 156,993 men in last year to 222,874 required for the present year; the increase being 65,881. This augmentation arose from the number of troops sent from this country to India. The force chargeable to the East India Company, including the depots at home, would be for this year 92,739 as against 30,197 last year, showing an increase on the East India Company's establishment of no less than 62,542. There had been sent to India last year, when the Indian establishment was voted, four regiments of cavalry and twenty-four regiments of infantry, and there were now there eleven regiments of cavalry and sixty regiments of infantry. There had been, therefore, sent out seven additional regiments of cavalry and thirty-six additional battalions of infantry, thus reducing the force of the home establishment by that number. It was intended to meet the withdrawal of that force by raiding twenty-six new battalions of in- fantry, and two additional regiments of cavalry, find this accounted for the increase in the present year of 3,339 men over the number voted in the last year, for though there was a reduced number of regiments the strength of each had been increased. He did not know what the increase was in the cavalry, hut in the infantry it was from 840 to 950. It was, however, an extraordinary fact that though the number of men was increased the payment was absolutely less than in last year. This arose from the number of regiments sent to India, for the pay of the colonels then became chargeable to the East India Company, and the new battalions had no colonels, while the number of the other commissioned and non-commissioned officers was not increased but diminished. Therefore there was a decrease this year in the whole sum to be voted for pay and allowances of £706,990. He was happy to say that the recruiting was going on at the present time in a more favourable manner than he could by possibility have anticipated. During the time of the Crimean war he believed that the greatest number of enlistments in any one month was about 6,000, but in the last month the enlistments had amounted to 7,500. For the last half year men had been enlisted, including recruits for the East India Company, at the rate of 6,000 men a month, making 36,000 enlistments during the last six months. He would not detain the Committee any further, but would, in conclusion, move a Vote for the 130,135 men which were required for the service of the year.


expressed his surprise that after the enormous sums of money, no less than £6,700,000 voted for barracks since the year 1834, the accommodation in them should be exceedingly defective. If the money had been expended honestly all the barracks which were required to accommodate the army during the last war ought now to be in an efficient state.


said it was, he believed, generally understood that the East India Company supplied bedding and clothing gratuitously to the Queen's troops employed in India, but he had been informed by a relative that in some cases the only clothing supplied consisted of two linen caps, while the soldiers were required to pay half the cost of their bedding.


said, he wished to observe that although the force demanded appeared to be moderate enough, yet they did not seem to make the best use of that which they had. It was a subject of complaint that the brigade of Guards, which was a very strong force, was entirely exempted from colonial duty. It was suspected that the reason of this exemption was that the officers of the Guards were more or less connected with the aristocracy, and were appointed by the colonels of the regiments of Guards, and not upon the responsibility of the War Department. He thought it desirable that battalions of the Guards should be sent to Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay, as the young officers of the brigade would then have an opportunity of seeing something of the world, and of acquainting themselves with their professional duties. He thought, also, that such a change would be beneficial to the health of the men, for he believed that from long residence in London they contracted bad habits, which might in some measure account for the ill health that was attributed to the state of the barracks. He saw no reason why the aristocratic officers of the Guards, brave and intelligent as they undoubtedly were, should be placed in a position which gave them more rapid promotion than could be attained by persons of a lower grade in society. A captain in the Guards at once became a lieutenant-colonel, and he (Sir J. Trelawny) was informed that the pay and allowance of an officer of that rank amounted to nearly £500 a year. Independently of the advantages in respect to pay, the officers of the Guards obtained rapid promotion; and during the war in the Crimea many of the higher military appointments were held by Guardsmen. No doubt these men understood their duty, and had conducted themselves well in the field, but he thought it was high time that the aristocracy gave up this sort of patronage. He hoped the gallant General at the head of the War Department would bring the appointment of officers of the Guards under his own authority, and would not countenance a system which was prejudicial to the interests of the service.


said, he thought that as it was necessary to raise a special corps about the person of the Sovereign, it was most desirable to retain in London such a corps as the Guards, which was specially suited to the performance of military duties in the metropolis. He knew that, in several cases, officers of regiments of the line had been very glad to withdraw their men from the temptations by which they were beset in London, and which rendered the maintenance of discipline most difficult.


said, that the clothing of Her Majesty's troops in India was supplied by the East India Government, and was not under the control of the War Department.


had spoken to three or four gentlemen who were acquainted with Indian affairs, and among others to the Chairman of the East India Company (Mr. Mangles), but he could not obtain from them the slightest information on this subject. He hoped the Minister for War would institute some inquiry as to the clothing of European troops in India, as he thought it would be attended with great advantage if these matters were brought under the more immediate supervision of the Government.


said, he had told the hon. Gentleman that the expenses of Her Majesty's forces in India were defrayed by the East India Company, but he could not inform his hon. Friend what amount was deducted from the pay of the men for any portion of their dress. Those details were not within his cognizance, but he supposed the system adopted in this country was also in force in India.


said, the extra clothing suitable to the climate of India was supplied to the troops by the East India Company, but he would cause inquiry to be made on the subject to which the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Alcock) had called attention.


observed, that there was a great contrast between the treatment of the Native and European troops in this respect. The Native soldiers in the East India Company's service had not only to pay for their kits, but for every ornament of their dress, out of I4s. a month, while from such charges the European soldiers wore altogether exempt.


remarked, that he had found that applications were made to young men who wore studying for the military profession by parties who stated that they were authorized to give them commissions, provided they raised a certain number of men. Such an application had been made to a relation of his own, and it struck him as very odd that while the applications of young gentlemen of fortune and station on condition of raising men were uniformly refused by the autho- rities, persons who represented themselves as army agents should say that a certain sum might be lodged in a bank, which should not be drawn until a commission was granted. It would seem, certainly, from this circumstance that there was no attempt at fraud; but it was stated that if some fifty men were raised a commission might be obtained without purchase. He thought that such a proceeding was very strange and irregular, and he wished to know whether the Secretary for War could give any explanation on this subject.


said, at present he could give no explanation, and could not understand how such an occurrence could have taken place. The hon. Gentleman had made the statement from his own personal knowledge, and he (General Peel) would have the matter inquired into.

Vote agreed to.

(21.) £1,227,000 on account Pay of Land Forces.


said, he wished to ask what had been the result of the important change which had taken place respecting the army clothing, which was now supplied by the Government, instead of by the colonels of regiments. The Estimates were so confused that he found it impossible to ascertain the comparative cost generally; but he found that the cost of the Guards' clothing was now 40 per cent. more than it was when the Duke of Wellington was Commander in Chief and Colonel of two regiments. He thought this most extraordinary and most unwarrantable extravagance. The present Government could not make themselves more popular than by effecting retrenchments, especially in matters of this kind, and this was a subject to which he trusted the right hon. and gallant General would turn his attention. From what had transpired before the Committee on Contracts there seemed to be an immense amount of unfair dealing in connection with these, and unless the system was amended, and the receipt of perquisites put a stop to, especially in army contracts, no respectable man would offer to supply them.


said, he wished to ask whether the present Government intended to adhere to the principle of competitive examination in reference to the engineers and artillery. The principle bad worked satisfactorily, and the feeling of the country was decidedly in favour of competition, especially with respect to a service in which a knowledge of mathematics was essential. Some change, however, appeared to be in contemplation, for it seemed that only on two more occasions was this principle to be recognized at Woolwich.


said, he was much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving him this opportunity of stating what, so far as he was concerned, had taken place on this subject. It had been recommended by the Council of Education that all candidates for the military service should pass through the college at Sandhurst. If that course were adopted, not only would they as heretofore be subjected to competitive examination, but as far as the Engineers and Artillery were concerned the candidates for these services would in future have to undergo a double competitive examination. It was, however, pointed out to him that under the new arrangement great hardship would be inflicted on several gentlemen who had been preparing themselves for examination at Woolwich, because they would be past the ago at which they would be admitted to Sandhurst. This was also represented to the Commander in Chief, and the result was that in conjunction with the Royal Duke he had determined that two more competitive examinations were to take place at Woolwich in order to allow those gentlemen to undergo examination there who would have been too old for Sandhurst. The principle of competitive examination, he repeated, was not at all given up; but, on the contrary, so far as the Engineers and Artillery were concerned, they would be subjected to two examinations, one on entering the college; and candidates would have no more difficulty in entering Sandhurst than in presenting themselves at Woolwich.


said, he must assert his right as the representative of a popular constituency—as one of the people and no aristocrat—to know the reason why a change had taken place after the success which had attended the new system. The House and the country had a right to be told this, and to know why an admission to Sandhurst was to be made necessary.


said, it was refreshing to hear an hon. Gentleman assert the light of the House to institute inquiries, and as a Member of the House he begged to thank the hon. Gentleman for his care of its privileges. The question which the hon. Member had raised was one of great importance, but he did not seem to have caught accurately what had fallen from the right hon. and gallant General the Secretary for War in reference to the subject. If he (Mr. Gladstone) understood his right hon. and gallant Friend correctly, he had stated that the interposition of the preliminary course at Sandhurst had been recommended merely as a measure of practical utility by the Council of Education, and was not intended in any way to bear upon or to restrict the principle of competition, upon which, if it had any influence at all, its effect would be to substitute a double for a single competition. If that were so then the statement of the gallant General could, he thought, be unsatisfactory neither to the hon. Gentleman opposite nor to the Committee. There was also another statement made by his right hon. and gallant Friend which he had heard with much pleasure—namely, that the competitive entrance to Sandhurst under the new system would be practically as free for all Her Majesty's subjects as the public competition at Woolwich.


said, that any person seeking to be placed on their list of candidates for admission to Sandhurst had merely to apply to his guardian or some other person who could bear testimony to his respectability—and he thought it was desirable that some such reference should be required; but beyond that there would be no limitation whatsoever.

Vote agreed to, as were also the following Votes.

(22.) £206,000, on account, Miscellaneous Charges.

(23.) £100,000, on account, Embodied Militia.

(24.) £30,000, on account, Volunteer Corps.

(25.) £61,000, on account, Departments of War and Commander in Chief.

(26.) £116,000, on account, Manufacturing Departments, &c.

(27.) £180,000, on account, Wages.

(28.) £229,000, on account, Clothing.

(29.) £361,000, on account, Provisions.

(30.) £214,000, on account, Stores.

(31.) £93,000, on account, Fortifications.

(32.) £56,000, on account, Buildings.

(33.) £222,000, on account, Barracks.

(34.) £55,000, on account, Educational and Scientific Branches.

(35.) £9,000, on account, Rewards for Military Service.

(36.) £20,000, on account, Pay of General Officers,

(37.) £178,000, on account, Pay of Reduced and Retired Officers.

(38.) £69,000, on account, Pensions to Widows.

(39.) £17,000, on account, Pensions for Wounds.

(40.) £10,000, on account, Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals.

(41.) £400,000, on account, Out-Pensioners, Chelsea Hospital.

(42.) £44,000, on account, Superannuations.

House resumed; Resolutions to be reported on Monday next; Committee to sit again on Monday next.