§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
Question again proposed,
That it is the opinion of this Committee that, towards providing for the Construction of Works for the Defence of the Royal Dockyards and Arsenals, and of the Ports of Dovor and Portland, and for the creation of a Central Arsenal, a sum, not exceeeding two million pounds, be charged upon the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, and that the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury be authorised and empowered to raise the said sum by Annuities for a term not exceeding thirty years; and that such Annuities shall be charged upon and be payable out of the said Consolidated Fund.
rose to move the following Amendment:—That, as the main defence of Great Britain against aggression depends on an efficient Navy, it is not now expedient to enter into a large expenditure on permanent Land Fortifications.In proposing this Amendment he trusted he should not be thought less anxious for the defence of the country than those hon. Gentlemen who would support the original Motion. He wished that both sides of the question should be looked at. The expenditure now about to be commenced was somewhat novel in this great maritime country. The House was called on to give a vote for £2,000,000; and if the matter rested there no opposition might possibly be offered to the proposition; but the noble Lord at the head of the Government said that this was only an instalment of the sum of £9,000,000, while the Royal Commissioners stated that £12,000,000 would be required. If this were all, perhaps there might not be such great objections to so large a sum being voted for land fortifications; but since the Report of the Royal Commissioners a Committee from the Horse Guards had sat to Report upon their Report, and this Committee not only confirmed the Report in all its leading features, but they recommended a scheme for which a far greater expenditure than £12,000,000 would be required; and then stated that there must be a great 486 increase to the regular army, for that the Volunteers and Militia, though they might servo very well as auxiliaries, would be utterly incompetent to man these fortifications. Therefore, the adoption of the plans of the Royal Commission would not only entail an expenditure of £12,000,000, but would lead to the outlay of £2,000,000 or more annually, raising the military expenditure from £15,000,000 to £17,000,000 per annum. Now, if these £2,000,000 at 4 per cent were capitalized, the result would be £50,000,000; so that the House was substantially called on to-night to vote, not £9,000,000, but £59,000,000. What object could there be for this large expenditure? The noble Lord in his able and clear statement the other evening, said:—I think it is impossible for any man to cast his eyes over Europe, and to see what is passing there, without being convinced that the future is not free from danger. It is difficult to see where the storm may burst, but the horizon is charged with clouds, which betoken the possibility of a tempest. The House, of course, knows that in the main I am speaking of our immediate neighbour across the Channel, and there is no use disguising it.The noble Lord then went on to animadvert on the standing army of France, and on the increase in the navy of that country, and appeared to come to the conclusion that the army and navy of France could be for no other purpose than aggression on England. The statements of the noble Lord had been answered in a letter said to be written by the Emperor of the French to his Minister in this country. In that letter Napoleon III. gave a clear and distinct answer to the statements made by the noble Lord in Committee the other evening. The Emperor said that he desired "to inaugurate a now era of peace and to live on the best terms with all my neighbours, and especially with England." The Emperor also stated that his army and fleet had in them nothing of a threatening character, that his steam navy was even far from being adequate to the requirements of France, and that the army and navy were no greater than in the time of Louis Phillippe. The Emperor then went on to say,—In Heaven's name, let the eminent men who are placed at the head of the English Government lay aside petty jealousies and unjust mistrusts.Those were solemn words; but perhaps some hon. Members had no faith in them. He, however, had faith in those statements. 487 The Emperor of a great people would not make statements in such a clear and distinct manner unless he meant to carry them out. Had not the Emperor given proofs of his friendship for this country? Did not his armies co-operate with ours in the Crimea? and were they not to take part also with ours in the China war, and in putting down the fearful massacres in Syria? Had not this country entered into a commercial treaty with France? ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members might hold what opinion they pleased respecting that treaty, but, at all events, it afforded some earnest of the Emperor's desire to maintain friendly relations with this country. He had heard the Emperor of the French called by various names—he had heard him called ambitious, and he had heard him called not honest, but he had never heard him called a fool. But the Emperor would, indeed, be a fool if he attempted an invasion of this country. The Emperor was interested in maintaining peace, and above all with this country. The noble Lord asked what was the meaning of this army of 400,000 men, which could easily be increased to 600,000? and the noble Lord, if he did not say it directly, at least meant it to be implied, that these forces were intended to be landed someday on our shores. Yet this army was no more than the Emperor of the French had maintained for many years. He admitted that France had increased her navy greatly of late; but the events of the Crimean war, during which she was obliged to depend on England for the transport of her troops, induced the people of France to think that they had not a navy sufficiently strong for a first class nation; it appeared to him that France was doing nothing more in maintaining her navy—-—which, after all, was much inferior to ours—and in keeping up her army, than any other first-class Power would do whose frontiers bordered upon Prussia and Austria, which also maintained very large armies. For these reasons it appeared to him that France was doing no more than maintaining her navy at an adequate strength, which was still inferior to the strength of that of England. But let the House consider the question practically, and ascertain the possibility of an invasion. He was not conversant with military matters, but he presumed Franco would not attempt to invade England with less than 100,000 men. But she could not gather 00,000 men at her ports, together with Mr. Lindsay 488 the requisite materiel for such an army, without this country becoming aware of her intentions long before that army could embark. But supposing that it did embark, what would our fleet be doing? It surely would not lie idle in port at such a time. If 100,000 men were embarked in transports covered by ships of war, our fleet would, of course, go out to meet them I in the Channel, and most probably if it I did not defeat it would at least disable the expedition. But supposing the enemy to avoid that danger, and to have brought his troops to our shores, he could not land them, except in boats or barges prepared for that purpose. But in the meantime, what would our army he doing? What would the 130,000 Volunteers be doing? They could be assembled from all parts of the country by the railways; were they to sit idly looking on? Assuredly they would not allow a landing to be effected without opposition. But we had other means of combating any intention to invade, as England was a wealthy country, and in France there were to be found many discontented parties. If there was any intention to invade England, should we not attempt to revolutionize France, and thus give the Emperor work enough at home? He would ask, however, whether the sum now demanded, large as it was, would be sufficient to make us safe? for, if it would make us safe, ho would not oppose the granting of it. If hon. Members looked at the Report of the Commissioners, they would find that on one part of the coastline between the Humber and Penzance an extent of coast of 750 miles, of which I there were no less than 300 miles upon which an enemy could land with perfect ease. Were the Committee prepared to go into the fortification of every spot where an army might land? Supposing the proposed fortifications were made, it could not be expected that an enemy would land j immediately under their guns. He would, of course, select some spot where no fortifications existed. An enemy might select the Frith of Forth and destroy the capital of Scotland, or enter the Clyde in order to attack Glasgow. The landing might be effected in the Mersey, which would place Liverpool in danger, and Manchester would be threatened. Sunderland and its docks might he shelled. An army might land at Padstow, and, crossing Cornwall, might destroy Plymouth. It might land at Christchurch. and destroy Portsmouth; or choosing either Brighton on the south 489 or Harwich on the north, might endanger London. The Commissioners themselves admitted, with regard to Pembroke, that there were four places at which an enemy could land, and those places were respectively twelve, nine, eight, and twenty miles apart. Where were we to end if we were to fortify every vulnerable point upon our coast? The expenditure would nut end in £9,000,000, nor in £59,000.000, for at any idle rumour of invasion—and there had been many such rumours—every place which was not protected would appeal to Parliament to give them that protection, and they could justly say, "We are taxed for fortifying and protecting vulnerable points, and arc equally entitled to consideration with other places," If that House took the first step which it was now invited to take, no future demand for protection could be refused. But the truth was, our real strength had ever been and ever would be upon the waters. The Commissioners said things had changed since the introduction of steam; but he believed that the introduction of steam was all in our favour. We possessed the largest steam fleet in the world, we had railways running through every part of the country, we had telegraphic communication with every point, and by means of them our ships could he rapidly directed to any place that might be threatened. He believed, therefore, that land fortifications were less necessary now than in former years, when we depended upon sailing ships. The noble Viscount bad referred to the expenditure in Fiance for fortifications, and bad mentioned those of Paris, but he (Mr. Lindsay) would ask of what use had those works been to the Monarch who constructed them. But, in addition to our navy, we had another defence in a free, united, and contented people. The noble Lord had truly said that in case of danger the 130,000 Volunteers would speedily be multiplied six-fold; but, probably, in case of invasion, the number of Volunteers would reach 1,000,009, and what could an army of 100,000 do against 1,000,000 of loyal and enthusiastic Volunteers, who would defend to the last their homes and their Sovereign? His firm belief was, that not one of those 100,000 would ever return to Prance. Ho would suggest another point for the consideration of the House. England was now bidding" against France, Germany, and the United States, for the markets of the world. The difference in the cost of production in this country, as compared with that in 490 other countries, was yearly becoming less. Wages had been steadily on the rise, not merely from increased demand, hut because of the rise in the price of necessaries and the increased taxation. If taxation were pushed further, the difference in the cost of production would be still more diminished, and if our artisans and manufacturers wove unable to compete with those of the United States in distant countries, orders would cease to come here. Our workshops and manufactories would be closed and our artisans would be thrown out of employ, and would there then be a united and contented people to resist aggression when they wore ground down by increased taxation? To say the least this was questionable.—While making a vain attempt to raise unnecessary fortifications they would increase the burdens of the people, and the result might be more serious than they supposed.
To leave out from the words 'Committee that' to the end of the proposed Resolution, in order to acid the words ' as the main defence of Great Britain against aggression depends on an efficient Navy, it is not now expedient to enter into a large expenditure on permanent Land Fortifications.
MR. H. BERKELEY
said, he rose with some diffidence—[Laughter.] He would refer those Gentlemen who laughed so freely to their copy books, where they would find the maxim that "Fools are easily moved to mirth." He rose to second the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland, in the terms of which he agreed, though he dissented from some of the arguments which had been used in a support, lie admitted that the necessity for defending this country, and even strongly defending it; but he differed toto coelo from the noble Lord (Viscount Pal-merston) when he said that the best mode of defending it was constructing stone walls and ditches, and placing cannon on them. He often heard in that House of measures that were un-English. He thought that if there ever was an un-English proposition it was that of the noble Lord. Englishmen had been accustomed to make it their boast that a foreigner might go from end to end of the land and never pass through a fortified town; though there were some forts that would keep off a marauder, we had not a fortification that would resist a siege. There was something of the national spirit in the refusal to take refuge behind stone walls, and in the determination to rely on our good right arms 491 for the defence of the country; and this spirit should be encouraged by every means. This sentiment was not confined to England. Go to ancient history, and there we find Lycurgus, a great lawmaker, to whom some might compare the noble Lord at the head of the Government. What said Lycurgus to the proposal to defend Sparta by stone walls? He said he preferred walls of men to walls of stone; and moreover that he viewed valour behind walls much in the light of pent-up cowardice. It was not for him to say there was any analogy between the case of Sparta and the case of England, seeing that Sparta had no dockyards or arsenals to defend, and he was not prepared to insist upon it, if it were denied, that there was any analogy between the noble Viscount and Lycurgus. But this he was prepared to say, that the closest analogy existed between the manly sentiments of Lycurgus and the manly feelings of the English people. He could not see that a case was made out by the noble Lord, or by the Report which be relied on, why be should take to fortifications instead of relying on our usual defences. He could see no reason why at the present moment we should resort to stone walls in preference to those wooden walls which had defended us so well. He denied entirely that any cause existed at present for panic. He denied that there was anymore danger at this moment than there had been in former years. When be looked back to the events of the present century—and he could venture to add a few years of the century before—ho found that this country was well and adequately defended by the Board of Admiralty, having under its command our powerful navy; and ho said the noble Lord was bound to prove that we had not the means of defence at the present moment which the Admiralty possessed in past 3'ears. There was no greater cause existing at this moment for extra defences than there was when the Admiralty defended the country with so much success. Why, within the present century, or just beyond it, we had great wars. This country was beset, not only by the most powerful nation of Europe, but by a combination of warlike nations. He had a dim recollection of the time when Napoleon I. stood on the heights of Boulogne, and with him a most powerful army—when every fort and every creek in the north of France was filled with a well-armed flotilla. Yet, nevertheless with vessels which we did not possess at this moment—with a number 492 of small 10-gun brigs, we prevented that force from stirring from their ports. Had they landed in this country they would have met that very military spirit which pervaded the country at this moment. At this moment there was no greater danger to be apprehended than there was then. Much had been heard about "bridging over the Channel with steam;" and that it was possible to bring forces by steamers to any given point. The hon. Gentleman who preceded him (Mr. Lindsay) was quite right in his conclusion that steam was an engine which was more favourable to the attacked than to the attacking body. When he looked to our coal fields and observed the way in which this country was intersected by railroads, the celerity of our locomotives, and to all this added the electric telegraph, by which forces could be brought from any part of the country without reference to wind, tide, or weather, he thought it impossible to avoid the conclusion that this country was more effectually defended than it was when we had to depend simply on sailing vessels. He would read an extract from a letter he had received from an experienced officer, a relative of his own (Sir Maurice Berkeley), who had not only seen a good deal of service, but had been a Member of that House, and had had a seat at the Board of Admiralty for many years. His gallant relative said:—I look on the proposed expenditure on fortifications as a monstrous absurdity, originating in panic, the said panic depriving our rulers of their senses, and forcing them to overlook our real defences, which arc on the sea, which are available, hut which arc not there made use of. We have from 200 to 300 gunboats and gunvessels. Give me 0,000 men and a few marine artillery, directed by such men as Harry Keppel, James Hope, and Michael Seymour, and others less known, whom there would be no difficulty in pointing out, and I would guarantee that no enemy should land an army with all the necessary material to effect a permanent footing, which would enable him either to destroy our dockyards, or our arsenals, or to march on London. I have been unable for twenty-six years to impress on successive Governments the absolute necessity of a reserve for the Channel service only, irrespective of Channel fleets, naval officers. I require 0,000 men never to go out of the Channel, never to put loot in a square-rigged vessel, hut always to be at hand, from year's end to year's end.There was nothing in the evidence or the Report of the Commissioners which should lead the House to give up our old measures of defence—to take the defence of the country, in effect, from the Admiralty, and hand it to the War Office. Would the Duke of Somerset, the First Lord 493 of the Admiralty, say he was unable to defend the country? Would the Secretary to the Admiralty stand up in that House and Bay that, under existing circumstances, he found the navy unable to do that which they could do in the olden time? He thought the Duke of Somerset had too high an opinion of our naval means, and he hoped that his hon. Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty had too much respect for his profession so far to cast a slur upon it. In this Report he found disparagement cast on the Volunteer forces. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members said "No." He would, then, qualify the observation. "They were damned with faint praise." The Report said the Volunteers were unable to meet the regular soldiers of other countries in the field. Well, he denied that point-blank, and he said that precedents bore out the denial. By whom had all the great actions been won? Who were the men in the history of the world who had most distinguished themselves? Why, almost all the great victories had been effected by raw levies and volunteers. Who turned a veteran army out of America? Raw levies and volunteers. Who captured a Royal army, and Sir John Burgoyne at the head of it? Raw levies and volunteers. The Duke of Wellington stood at the head of a splendid army of veterans—probably the finest the world ever saw—at the time when Napoleon was sent to Elba, and it happened that 8,000 of these picked men were sent to America, and cut to pieces by raw levies and volunteers. And what was Wellington doing in the meantime? He stood on the field of Waterloo. And what did his army consist of? Raw levies and volunteers. ["Oh, oh!"] It was a matter of history; and the Gentlemen who cried out had probably forgotten their books. The Duke of Wellington himself stated the fact. Many of the men had never before fired ball-cartridge. Who defeated the best of the Austrian troops? Raw levies and volunteers headed by Garibaldi. And what was Garibaldi doing now? Beating the regular army of the King of Naples in Sicily by raw levies and volunteers. These were facts which could not be denied, and he, therefore, met with a denial, the assertion that our Volunteer force would be unable to meet regular soldiers in the field. And when it was said that such an army as had recently been seen in Hyde Park could not beat any troops in the world, he denied the assertion. A great ship- 494 launch had recently taken place, and it had brought to light certain circumstances which showed we were not making use of those means which we out to be using for the protection of the country; and while these means were neglected, the noble Lord wished Englishmen to hide behind stone walls. He was introduced to a French officer—a man of distinction—who came over to see the review of the Volunteers. That gentleman spoke in the highest praise of the review, and said ho could see no difference between their movements and those of regular troops abroad. This gentleman then went to see the launch of the Atlas, a vessel of 91 guns, and, on his return, spoke in the highest terms of what he had seen; but he was afterwards, he said, quite thunderstruck, for, on looking in The Times the following morning, he found that the ship was to be armed with the old sort of artillery, and he asked, "Where is Sir Armstrong and his gun?" Well, he (Mr. Berkeley) found that Sir William Armstrong had got two guns in the Royal navy while Napoleon had 600 rifled cannon. What became, then, of all that had been heard about Sir William Armstrong? He remembered the impression which was made in the House when the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) announced that Mr. Armstrong had been knighted, and that he was to have £2,000 a year for superintending rifled cannons. The House almost exclaimed, in Oriental phraseology, May Armstrong live for ever ! Armstrong is great, and Peel is his prophet!" All that he (Mr. Berkeley) could hear of him now was, that he had sent a few guns to China, that there were a few at Woolwich, and two on board some ship in the Royal Navy. So, according to The Times, see what foreign nations had been doing. Napoleon at Solferino had a park of rifled guns, and such were their powers that the Austrians, on advancing, said the French fired on their rear-guard and baggage. The Spaniards had lately had a campaign against the Moors, and they used rifled cannon. And even Portugal had a manufactory of rifled guns. We, meanwhile, had two Armstrong guns in the Royal Navy ! We required to make use of the power we possessed, and which is denied us. If ever a French army landed with a siege train it followed that the Channel must have been bridged over, that our fleet must have been defeated; and then they might raise 495 as many fortifications ns they pleased, but stone walls would not prevent England from becoming a province of France. It was not on land that they must fight the French if they were to succeed in approaching our shores. We must fight them as they came over sea-sick, and while cabbage-soup and sour wine were deranged by a rolling sea. We must meet them with gunboats, and fight them in the surf. Let Ministers lay aside their new-fangled notions, and fall back upon their gallant navy that had stood by them in times past, and would be willing to stand by them again, aided by a compact army and volunteers. There was not a naval officer who would not say there was reason in what he said.
§ MR SIDNEY HERBERT
Sir, the speech in which this Amendment to the Motion of my noble Friend was moved requires that I should rise and take some notice of the arguments by which it has been supported. But in the first place, let me say, with regard to the last portion of the speech of the hon. Gentleman, who has just sat down, that he was something too credulous as to the state of preparation of England with respect to rifled ordnance when he took it from a French officer, who came to see a launch, that we are giving our new ships smooth-bore guns while the Emperor of the French has 600 rifled guns on board his ships. I am in a position to give an emphatic denial to both those statements. I do not believe the French have 600 rifled guns on board their ships. They have, I am aware, rifled a great many castiron-guns, and that has happened to them which has also happened to us, that when those guns have been tested, as guns ought to be that are intended for real service, they have frequently burst. They have now undertaken a different mode of proceeding, and with the science and ability that distinguish those who are employed in the public service of that country I have no doubt they will succeed in making excellent guns. My hon. Friends asks "Where are the guns of Sir William Armstrong?" The prophet was not only a great prophet, but a true prophet, when lie said that Sir William Armstrong's were not only excellent guns, but that they would be produced in such numbers and at such a cost that we might look forward to their displacing some of our larger armaments. For some weeks the delivery of these guns has been twelve a week. That is better than two, which, the hon. Gentleman was informed is the number of rifled 496 guns in the English navy, [An Hon. MEMBER: What is the size?] Fortypounders, and there will soon be some 100-pounders also. [Sir JAMES ELPHINSTONE: What is their weight?] I do not know. We have 12 batteries manned and horsed, equivalent to 72 guns. I am sorry that an impression should have gone abroad that, notwithstanding the advantages which this country ought to possess in its scientific inventions and manufacturing capabilities, we are behind foreign nations in this respect. The hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment began by saying that an invasion is impossible, and that not less than 100,000 men must come to invade us, if they come at all, and that if they succeeded in effecting a landing, not one of them would ever return to his own country. I am not going to discuss with the hon. Gentleman the number of men with which it would he practicable to invade this country, because my opinion is worth no more than that of any other Member who is not an authority on military matters; but permit me to say, that was not the opinion expressed by a great master of the art of invasion, and one who actually contemplated an invasion of these shores. M. Theirs tells us that Napoleon said,If I made an attack upon England I should have to throw 60,000 men on the English coast. To conquer England, to subjugate the English people, would be a chimerical expectation—I must say that there I think he was quite rightBut my expedition would do an infinity of mischief, and destroy enormous masses of property. It would create panic and alarm in a country that depends so much on its safety and security for the means of carrying on its industrial pursuits. I might be able to do this, and it might be worth doing. The ultimate fate of these 00,000 men would be doubtful. But still, looking at the extent of the property possessed by England, the insecurity, the panic, and the alarm that would be created, the effort might be worth the attempt.The hon. Gentleman says, that in the mean time we should be revolutionizing France. Well, I have no faith in that suggestion. I do not know how far we should be justified in making the attempt; but let me remind the hon. Gentleman that the Emperor of the French is seated very firmly on the throne; he understands the genius of the French people; few Sovereigns have understood it so well; we tried to revolutionize France at a time when she was distracted by parties, and when hatred prevailed between differ- 497 ent classes, and what a miserable attempt and what a miserable failure it was ! The hon. Gentleman says that the Navy is the true defence for England. Who doubts that? Is it proposed, in supplementing it by defences on land, to abandon that chief and main line of defence? Is it proposed to transfer the first, main, and chief line of defence from the Admiralty to the War-Office? Not at all. Every man of sense must know that, having an insular position and an hereditary prestige at sea, and having, moreover, an enormous and powerful navy, the sea must be our first and great line of defence. But that is no reason why it should not be supported by defences on shore. The hon. Gentleman says, that the inventions of steam and electricity would give greater advantages to the invaded than to the invader. In opposition to that view naval officers with whom I have conversed say, and say truly, that the introduction of steam has to a great degree deprived us of our power of blockade. In the days of sailing ships, when the wind was in one quarter, you were safe, and could sleep in security. How was your blockade conducted? So long as the wind blew on the shore, and it was not safe for the blockaded squadron to put to sea, the blockading squadron stood off' the shore, with the certainty that no one could get out. But now, if the blockading squadron stands off, the blockaded squadron gets up steam in the night and is away before the blockading squadron knows where it is. Another question has been alluded to—the publication which has appeared in the public prints during the last few days. The hon. Gentleman says that the Emperor of the French has written a letter expressing his anxiety to maintain the best relations with England; that the Emperor speaks of his army and navy as of no size to create alarm and uneasiness in this country; and he adds that which I can perfectly believe, that the Emperor of the French is in earnest in wishing to maintain peace with this country and the best relations with its Government. I am not in the least prepared to offer any word of doubt or denial to that statement. But circumstances are sometimes stronger than men. The Emperor of the French alludes to the difficulties by which he has been met since the Italian war. He admits that Europe is uneasy and suspicious, and that it may be a long time before that uneasiness and suspicion are removed. I ask what is the Emperor of the French to do 498 under the circumstances he describes? He is anxious for peace. He knows that peace is for the interest of France. Ho has almost got peace in his own hands. No nation, and least of all this country, has the wish to attack France. England would engage in no European war unless she herself were attacked. The whole of our prosperity—everything we have—depends on the maintenance of peace. I believe there exists in England a feeling, and I am sure that I, for one, share in it, that war, unless it is forced upon you, is a crime and a sin. I do not believe that in the whole breadth of England there is a man who wishes for war. I believe that there are very few men in England who in their nightly prayers do not pray that this terrible calamity may be averted. What has been the conduct of the Emperor of the French, with which I have no ground for complaint, under the circumstances ho describes? Ho is at this moment strengthening, and wisely strengthening, the fortifications of Cherbourg, L'Orient, Rochfort, Brest, and Toulon. We have no right to complain, and it would be a most unseemly proceeding on our part to complain, that any Sovereign should put his own coasts in a good state of defence. Nor, on the other hand, has any one a right to complain or take offence that we do the same. We have, indeed, a much better right to do it in this respect, that our fortifications for the defence of our dockyards and arsenals are in a far weaker state than those of France, while our navy is an arm much more vital to us than to any other country in the world. The hon. Gentleman has quoted the opinions of a French officer with whom he recently became acquainted. Some years ago, when I was Secretary of the Admiralty, I made the acquaintance of a French officer who came over here with King Louis Phillippe, My right hon. Friend opposite, the late Secretary of the Admiralty, will remember the circumstance. That officer, upon seeing our dockyards said, "You certainly are the strangest people in the world. You have the greatest amount of warlike property that the world ever saw collected in one place, Portsmouth, and yet you make no effort to defend it. You take no steps to prevent its being attacked, and if it was attacked, you could not save it." Since that time, no doubt, great improvements have been made; there has been a steady progress in strengthening the defences round Portsmouth and on our coasts. Do not let it be said, as it 499 has been two or three times by the hon. Member for Bristol, "Have nothing to do with these new-fangled ideas of fortifications." Ho has added that it is our boast that you may go through the length and breadth of England and never enter a fortified town. If we do make that boast I must remind him that there is a proverb—and he is fond of proverbs-—"that, boasters are always liars," and that certainly is true in this case, because Portsmouth is fortified, Plymouth is fortified, and Chatham is fortified. [Mr. BERKELEY: I said, fortified to stand a siege.] Then, fortifications are not un-English, the only things which are un-English are good fortifications. "I do not say," says my lion. Friend, "that there should be no fortifications, but that there should be fortifications which arc insufficient to stand a siege." That is exactly what we want to avoid. What we propose are fortifications which will secure us against a coup de main, and resist any such force as might be detached to attack our dockyards and destroy our ships. I need hardly at this time of the day quote instances to convince even my hon. Friend that fortifications are useful to places which are beside. In Spain places were defended for long periods against powerful French armies by volunteers and untrained persons, and there were also great delays occasioned to both armies by the protraction of sieges which were ultimately successful. Silistria, too, was for a time successfully defended against the Russians by Turks, who were men that we should not call regular soldiers; and Kars was for a long time held by a very insufficient force against an overwhelming army led by a very able commander. It is said, "You need not fortify; the fleet is your true defence." With that last observation I entirely concur, so far as it goes, but no further. "You can blockade ships better than when you had not steam, and to suppose that French ships could get out of port and reach the English shore is absurd." Just take what happened at the commencement of the last war. England was several times invaded. I am not going to say that the invasions were successful; there were failures on land; but while we were blockading the French ports, ships did cross the Channel, and succeeded in anchoring in English or Irish ports, and landing men. In 1796, notwithstanding our blockade of the French ports, a French fleet of seven sail of the line, two frigates, and transports with troops, sailed out 500 entered Bantry Bay. General Hoche was to have joined them, but his part of the fleet was dispersed by the weather. But what happened to the other ships? They got back safely to Brest in spite of the English navy, and in spite of the wind. That was the case of a French fleet, without the advantage of steam, crossing the Channel, anchoring, and remaining some time in an Irish port, and getting safely back. In 1798 nine French sail of the line with troops reached Ireland, but were afterwards engaged and dispersed by Sir John Warren. In August of the same year General Humbert landed in Killala Bay with troops. He afterwards surrendered; but he had landed. I am not saying that an invasion is necessarily successful, but that under particular circumstances it is possible for French ships carrying troops to evade our cruisers and get safely across the Channel into an English port. In 1797 four French frigates, with 1,500 troops, entered the Bristol Channel, destroyed a great deal of merchandise and many ships, and landed the troops at Fishguard. True, the troops immediately surrendered—but the ships arrived, the ships made good their passage; and if there had been more ships and more troops they would probably have been more difficult to deal with than they were. All this time, mind, the French ports were blockaded, and our navy was flushed with its success in the battles of Cape St. "Vincent and the Nile. That under such circumstances France succeeded in sending troops across to this country, under circumstances of greater difficulty than now exist, shows that there is no perfect and utter immunity from such a danger. But it is said that when the danger arises you will have plenty of time to get ready your fortifications; that earthworks will do; and the case of Sebastopol is appealed to as that of a place which was defended by earthworks. It was not. On the north side there was a very strong fort and other stone fortifications. We gave them time, and they constructed works which they were able to defend, having an army inside as large as that which was besieging them; but it is a mistake to suppose that earthworks made on a sudden, and earthworks alone, would have sufficed to defend Sebastopol for so long as it held out against so large a force as was attacking it; while, on the other hand, if Sebastopol had been fortified on the south side as it was on the north, neither the French nor the English 501 would ever have thought of besieging it. Upon this subject I may quote a short sentence from the works of Napoleon, who says:—Mixed fortifications of earth, raised in a fortnight or three weeks, would not be secure from a coup de main."His opinion was equally strong upon another matter, and I quote him the more readily because his opinions were given at the end of a career of the most wonderful military success which any man ever enjoyed, and no man can cavil at his authority. He said:—There are military men who ask what is the use of fortified places, intrenched camps, and the art of the engineer? We will ask them how it is possible to manoeuvre with inferior or equal forces, without the aid of positions, fortifications, and all the supplementary resources of art? "The garrisons of fortified places ought to be drawn from the population, and not from the active army: provincial regiments of militia were intended for this service.I have already discussed the question of what is doing in Prance with regard to fortifications. I have said that the Emperor of the French has written a statement of his feelings and intentions, which are those of an able and well-advised man; but at the same time I have asked the House to look at what he is doing for the defence of his country. Nor is it in France alone that such works are being carried on. At this moment Russia is fortifying Kertch, and 5,000 men, under General Todlieben, are improving and strengthening the defences of Sweaborg, Germany is fortifying the ports on the Baltic, and Austria is strengthening herself in the same way as well as she can. The fact is that the result of the uneasiness which has been felt is, that each nation of Europe is endeavouring to make its coast or its frontier as secure as possible, and nut one of them neglects or despises the resources which art and science place at their disposal for that purpose. If there is one country in the world which, when once her sea-line is broken, must be more dependent upon fortifications than another, it is England. Her regular army is small, and her irregular army promises to be large. We have thus a necessity for putting our levies behind works. My hon. Friend (Mr. H. Berkeley) is horrified at the idea of Englishmen skulking behind works. What I a miserable proceeding then was Torres Vedras! There is one of the greatest feats, of the Duke of Wellington, which the hon. 502 Gentleman looks upon as the most contemptible and cowardly proceeding that could be. I might quote instance upon instance in which Englishmen have, while skulking behind works, greatly distinguished themselves against very superior forces. But after all it comes to this: the lion. Gentleman says, "Don't adopt these new-fangled systems." New-fangled systems! Why Napoleon said that fortification was the only art which had not changed for 2,000 years. All the change which has been made is that as the range of cannon gets greater you must extend the area of your fortifications in order to protect the centre from danger. That is what we are doing. You might just as well say that it was new-fangled to adopt the Enfield rifle, or anything else which art and science has produced. "Trust to our wooden walls." Why, our "wooden walls" are ceasing to be wooden, and are being cased with iron to defend them against the powerful artillery which all nations are beginning to use. What do you intend to oppose to this long-range artillery? Are you to oppose it by earth or sods, into which a Whitworth or Armstrong gun will throw a shot, which will throw up the dust and cause some disturbance? No; my lion. Friend will have wails of men, who, taking it upon the lowest ground—that of pounds, shillings, and pence, will cost much more than earthworks. These Englishmen to whom he would refuse the assistance which science and art would afford them are the finest and best material for soldiers that the world has ever seen; but is that a reason why you are to sacrifice them without reason? The Motion before us is,That, as the main defence of Great Britain against aggression depends on an efficient navy it is not now expedient to enter into a largo expenditure on permanent land fortifications.That implies, I apprehend, that if over an efficient navy should cease to be our main dependence, then it would be right to erect land fortifications; or, on the other hand, it may mean that at the present moment our navy is very powerful, and that we do not require any other defence. The Amendment of which notice has been given by the lion. Member for Birmingham is substantially to the same effect. Well, the hon. Member for Birmingham is a great believer in the voice of the people, "Vox populi, vox Dei," is his morto. Is it not a fact, I ask him, that the whole nation is full of alarm 503 and suspicion? The people feel that they ought to obtain security at any price. We have therefore spent a large sum in putting our stores and munitions of war in order. We have had an increase of the army; not a large increase, it is true, but still an increase. All these things are cheerfully borne by the people, and more is called for—more perhaps, than the Government are willing to do. Is not that an indication that there must, in the minds of an immense majority of the people, be some cause for alarm? The country feels that it is not in a proper state of defence, and that, if we deal with the question at all, we should deal with the whole of it if we can. Such are the feelings which I believe animate the public out of doors. We must not neglect these indications, especially since it is not a mere question of opinion, for the Government are persuaded that we are not in that state of defence which so great, so powerful, and so rich a nation ought to be in. One of the best means of maintaining power, no doubt, is a wise, prudent, and pacific policy. We ought in our foreign relations to show an appreciation of the rights and feelings of other nations, and if all countries were to do the same there would no longer be any danger of war. But, knowing that such conduct upon our part is not in itself an immunity from danger, we must not only comport ourselves in a manner pacific and moderate towards other nations, but we must likewise deprive other nations of the temptation to attack us which is offered by great wealth and concomitant vulnerability. With these views the Government appointed the Commission which has laid its Report upon our table. Last Session a Motion was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), who proposed that we should not any longer deal with the question of fortifications by piecemeal, peddling year after year with small sums, making little progress, and postponing the time of ultimate security until another generation; but that we should make a great and comprehensive effort, with the view of putting the nation in a proper state of defence at once. I believed the advice was sound, but I am certain, at all events, that if we had not given an indication that we intended to apply ourselves seriously to the subject, that Motion would have been carried. In the interval a Commission, composed of very able men, has considered the whole matter, and has presented a masterly Re- 504 port. The Commissioners contend, upon the general ground of policy, that it is our duty and interest to defend ourselves with the best means which science and art can afford. They enter into the details of each particular arsenal and port. Their Report is before us. If you are of opinion that the whole of this supposed weakness of our arsenals and dockyards is imaginary, or that the erection of fortifications—if our arsenals are as weak as they are alleged to be—is not the way to defend them, and that we ought to trust in flesh and blood, and to the Spartan courage and devotion so eloquently referred to by the hon. Member for Bristol, instead of acting upon those maxims which all experience tells us to be true and sound, then you will refuse the Resolution of my noble Friend, and it will be for the Government to consider what course they should adopt under such circumstances. But my belief is that this House faithfully represents the feelings of the country upon this subject. You may have discussions as to the more or the less, the how and the where; but the principle is now recognized as sound and true that you ought not to allow the great depositories of your naval strength to be at the mercy of any nation. It has often been said that you ought, instead of erecting fortifications, to raise a much larger standing army. At the present moment we have due to us fifteen battalions. We have three on the sea corning from India, we have three more promised from India, and we have lent nine to the expedition to China, With a large force of Volunteers and Militia, you should take measures to release from garrison duty as large a number of regular troops as you can for mannoeuvring in the field. The hon. Member for Bristol has quoted a letter from a gallant officer (Sir Maurice Berkeley) for whom I have the highest respect, and who tells us not to spend our money in fortifications, hut to build more ships. I have been told by seamen over and over again to trust to ships and to ships alone. I have been told by Artillery officers that there is nothing like trained and accomplished gunners. I have been told by Line officers that our main dependence ought to be a large regular army in the field. It is a case of "there's nothing like leather." The Government have had to decide between these various opinions. There is some truth in all of them, but they are all carried, owing to prejudice or bias, to a degree which excludes reason. The fact is, we want a 505 combination of these things. It is a combination of fortifications, of ships, of men, and of gunners, which will give you the strength, I do not say to resist an enemy, but to secure you from having an enemy. We are asked whether we have done nothing else. My predecessor in office commenced a system of putting batteries at the entrance of our great commercial ports. These are not ports which are likely to be besieged, but they may be insulted and attacked for mischief's sake. He also appointed a Commission, which has since been continued, to examine all the points and positions requiring defence. The Commissioners have surveyed the whole coast of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and have got together an enormous amount of military information, which in case of hostilities would be invaluable to commanding officers. Such are the operations which have been going on under two Administrations. The amount of stores which has been collected is very great. I lately hoard a gallant Officer say that he understood our great fortresses had no more than 100 or 150 rounds of artillery ammunition. It is shown by a recent return that our great fortresses, each according to its importance, have got ammunition varying from 250 up to 1,000 rounds. I do not believe England was ever better stocked with munitions of war for self-defence. I now leave, the Resolution to the House. I have stated my belief that the House and the country sec the necessity and acknowledge the wisdom of the measures we recommend. 'W> have not placed ourselves blind-folded the hands either of Engineer, Artillery Line, or naval officers. We have had combination of all to advise us. The works we propose are the most urgent, commencing with the sea defences, and defending the land only where the land side seems peculiarly open to attack. Those works, which will pat the country in a comparatively good state of defence, will be completed for a sum which, after all, is not very large. £5,000,000 is the sum which the completion of those works will cost. The sum which will be raised for the defence of Portsmouth is not more than half-a-dozen men in the city would subscribe for a speculation to build a bridge across the Thames merely to save people from walking half a mile out of their way. The sums are not large of themselves, but they are large viewed by the magnitude of the results which we hope to obtain by them. They are not large when we look 506 at the enormous value of the property which these works will defend. The Government do not pretend to say that they will prevent invasion. No works will do that. No navy will do that. No army will do that. Invasion, if the landing of troops is meant, will always be possible. What we say is, let us make the points which arc most vital to us, which an enemy would be sure to attack, if it were possible to attack them with success—let us make those points invulnerable. Then you may sleep safely with your heads upon your pillows. Then you will know that, as far as Plymouth, Portsmouth, and these great places are concerned, although you lose the command of the seas, they are not the places which will be invaded, and you will be able to concentrate your forces elsewhere. I believe that years hence, if these works are executed, there will be found gentlemen who will say, "We always predicted that nobody would ever land—that nobody would ever attack these places; see how your money has been wasted." I shall not be discouraged by that argument. To such remarks I should say, "The security which you have enjoyed—the immunity from the danger of attack for all these years—has been owing to those very works." Depend upon it that one of the safest things which you can do for the preservation of peace is to make attack upon you dangerous. I alluded before to what ought to be the bearing of this country towards foreign nations. I believe that it is the interest of England to pursue a wise, moderate, pacific, and conciliatory policy, but at the same time it is likewise unwise to leave a great temptation, to leave her vast property and her reputation at stake, and at the mercy of any nation which may choose to send an expedition in consequence of some diplomatic quarrel. I hope the House will feel that in making these proposals the Government is asking them to do nothing new, but only to hasten and execute forthwith those works and that system of works which one by one they have already sanctioned. With these opinions, and with the greatest anxiety as to the result of the proposals which the Government have made, I leave this measure in the hands of the House, and I leave it with confidence in their patriotism and in the judgment which they have always displayed in any matter affecting the security of the country and the maintenance of peace.
§ MR. BRIGHT
Sir, I have given notice of an Amendment to the Resolution of the 507 noble Lord; but my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay), I believe, was before me on the paper with an Amendment, not exactly of the same character, but which, if carried, would have the same effect upon the Resolution proposed by the Government. It is not, therefore, my intention to move my Amendment; but I shall take the opportunity, if the Committee will permit mo, to make some observations on this question in the state in which we now find it. And I should wish to point out to the Committee that, although the Resolution which the noble Lord has placed upon the table is one of apparently a simple character, asking the House to vote towards the defences of the dockyards and arsenals, and for the defence of the ports of Dovor and Portland, and for the establishment of a central arsenal, a sum of £2,000,000, and although the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has endeavoured to persuade the House that something like £5,000,000—he did not state it very accurately, but rather ambiguously—that something like £5,000,000 is the sum we are to decide upon—meaning that the works which are to be commenced by the expenditure of £2,000,000 may be completed by the expenditure of £5,000,000—notwithstanding that, I think the Committee would deceive itself if it were to imagine that it was now discussing an expenditure of 2 or of £5,000,000 only, because we know what was the tenor of the speech of the noble Lord in moving the Resolution. He adopted in its entirety, as I understood, the Report of the Defences Commission, and I think we know very well, from all our experience, that whenever Government undertakes any works, great or small, the original estimate is never adhered to, but is very often doubled before the expenditure is completed. I believe, then, judging from the past, that if we vote the sum now asked we shall carry out the scheme which the noble Lord has adopted with an expenditure of at least £20,000,000 sterling. And let the Committee bear in mind that in the tabular statement of expenditure 'there is not a single farthing put down for the internal arsenal at Cannock-chase, which the noble Lord has included in his. Resolution. I know not what that may cost, but it is to be added to the £12,000,000 which it is proposed to expend, and I think it would not be an extravagant estimate to double that amount in order to arrive at the probable expenditure. But that is not 508 all, because there are countless millions more involved, for in the Report there is an almost unanimous opinion expressed that you will have largely to increase your standing army, and that those very works which you are now asked to vote, will be useless in themselves unless you have some 70,000 men to man and defend them. (Sir DE LACY EVANS: Hear, hear!) The hon. Gentleman below me, who is a much better authority than I am, approves of what I say, and therefore I take it for granted that when you are asked to vote £12,000,000, plus Cannock-chase, plus the amount which the estimate may fall short of the actual expenditure, and plus the millions that may be necessary to support a largo increase of the standing army, to give effect to these works, you are asked to vote an amount which will not fall much short of double £12,000,000. Now, Sir, I think the noble Lord at the head of the Government did the Committee great injustice the other night, when he brought forward this Resolution without a moment's notice, and when he asked us to vote this vast conclusion without any opportunity of debate or any time for considering that to which he was in visiting us to agree. Now, two questions present themselves to my mind on which the Committee would do well to ask for information—the one, By whom all this expenditure is urged? and the other, What have we done already? I should like to ask the Gentlemen who sit on this front Bench whether they are unanimous with regard to the necessity of this expenditure? Whether they come before us with the authority of an united Cabinet—or whether this is some kind of compromise to enable the Government to avoid the rock, or get over the quicksand, which this question has interposed or interjected into their midst? I do not believe that the Government do come before us with that kind of unanimity which I think necessary in a great question of this nature. But if the Cabinet is not united, are the military authorities united? And if you will answer, as I know you will, I ask you whether you will willingly follow the military authorities under whose direction you are now about to place yourselves? Would you like to take those military authorities who are placed before us, with all their recommendations, to shut your eyes, and walk blindly into all the expenditure into which they invite you? I have looked into these recommendations, and I confess I am amazed at the absolute stupidity— 509 [Laughter]—yes, stupidity; if you want a word less offensive, I would say the absolute lunacy—[Laughter]—of the military authorities in regard to this question. The right hon. Gentleman had said that I thought he was taking a lunatic course. Well, I did take the liberty of asking him one day where he had picked up the half dozen lunatics who drew up the Report. I think there were seven of them. I will not give the right hon. Gentleman's answer. And now with regard to these military authorities. I hope the Committee will attend for a moment to the sort of things they recommend us to do. But, first of all, I will quote an expression of the late Sir Robert Peel, in 1850, on the question of military authorities. He said:If you adopt the opinions of military men, naturally anxious for the complete security of every assailable point; naturally anxious to throw upon you the whole responsibility for the loss, in the event of war suddenly breaking out, of some of our valuable possessions, you would overwhelm this country with taxes in time of peaceœ It was said the other night that reference must be had by us to the warlike preparations of foreign Powers."—[3 Hansard, vol. cix. 767.]Exactly what the noble Lord tells us, and the right hon. Gentleman also (Mr. S. Herbert) who says, "See what other countries are doing in regard to fortifications"—no doubt alarmed at the enormous preparations of the English Government.But at the same time the conduct of foreign Powers in maintaining enormous military establishments ought to be a warning as well as an example to us,"—[Ibid.]I am not inclined to hope that the House, much less hon. Gentlemen opposite, will take the authority of Sir Robert Peel; but there are few Statesmen who have left, for the guidance of those to come after them, wiser maxims than Sir Robert Peel. The right hon. Gentleman says that officers of the Line are for nothing but red-coats; artillerymen for nothing but gunners; and engineers for nothing but fortifications; but the hon. Gentleman below me, and other Gentlemen connected with the navy, are supposed to say that nothing is so essential as ships; and then the right hon. Gentleman admits that every one of these branches of defence is necessary; and if we take his advice, we shall at last arrive at that state that the produce of the whole industry of the country will be absorbed, under the pretence of defending that which has created it. Now, I daresay there are 510 several Members of this House who have had showers of military opinions brought to them by post; and had I expected this discussion to come on this Session, I should have made extracts, so that the House might see how far the military authorities were agreed. One not irrational man proposes, since we are to have a standing army, that we should have a standing navy—some 30,000 men should always be on board ship; there should be some 30,000 more in marine barracks; and there should be always ready a sufficient number of ships, so that they could all march on board at five minutes' notice; and thus you would have the country, in his opinion, admirably defended. There is a gentleman named Valentine Baker, of the 10th Royal Hussars, who has published a pamphlet, in which he states that there should be a Militia force of 180,000 men; and that there should be formed by census and by ballot a sort of National Guard of 500,000 men, who should be mustered only for one day in the year. Now, I am not one of those who think that, in considering what means of defence we have, it might not be very advantageous to have a large Volunteer force, instead of an enormous standing army. I find that in Switzerland and in the United States of America—countries, one of which is surrounded, we are told, very often from the back benches, by a most formidable enemy; and the other which marches with a high hand amongst the nations of the globe—that in those two countries there is no considerable standing army; but the whole defence of those nations is committed to a Volunteer force. Well, I have no doubt that if we had only the common sense to get rid of the noble Lord the Member for the City—not as Member for the City, but as the head of the Foreign Office—and the policy, and the jealousies, and superstitions of that Office, we might save three-fourths of all that expenditure which is involved in the maintenance of our foreign policy; and whatever you require for defences in a country populous and united like this, might be had at comparatively no expense, by taking advantage of the spirit to be found in various ranks of your countrymen. But Mr. Valentine Baker says that we must have contracts for earthworks all about London, and in these terms—the earthworks to be completed in a fortnight; and a small annual sum is to he paid to the contractors as a compensation for holding the contract. So that whenever you hear that those 511 enemies, whom you are always expecting but who never come—are at last on the way, those contractors are to build the earthworks all within a fortnight. Then there are to be 20,000 men of the Metropolitan police and county constabulary armed and equipped, available for military purposes, and a Volunteer force of 250,000 men; and there are to be intrenched camps at Alder-shot and at Epsom Downs, for 40,000 men each. So that, with regular troops, Militia, Yeomanry, &c, amounting to 323,000, there would be, according to Mr. Valentine Baker, a total of 1,072,000 men ready to resist invasion, and his plan would not cost a very considerable sum; in fact, a mere trifle as compared with the present expenditure. There is another officer, Colonel Jebb, who was considered, twenty years ago, a very sensible man. I have not seen him for a very long time, and, therefore, was not aware of the change that has taken place until I saw his pamphlet, lie is in a state of great alarm for the safety of London. He proposes to begin at Tun-bridge Wells, and to go to Reigate, or Guildford, Reading, and Henley, and I think he includes Colchester in his line of defence; and yet at the end of his pamphlet he quotes, with apparent approbation, from General Lewis, who says, that "It may be considered as an axiom that no landing can be successfully effected in the presence of 2,000 men well prepared." Well, I was amazed when I saw this. I think if I had said anything of this kind, I should be treated as a person utterly ignorant and foolish in these matters. And assuredly, with railways all round your coasts, and with telegraphs as numerous as your railways, there could be no difficulty in assembling, in the time taken to cross the Channel, at least 2,000 men in any part of the kingdom you might desire. But then General Mackintosh says that pamphlets have been recently published in Paris which indicate designs on Ireland, and that that portion of the kingdom could not be left without at least 30,000 infantry. This gentleman may know a great deal about military affairs, but he perhaps does not know this—that those pamphlets are published by a party who believe that there is no mode of overturning the present dynasty except by creating distrust, and afterwards involving it in a war with England. I dare say there are many hon. Members who believe that the Emperor of the French can, by the existing law, prevent any one of these pamphlets being published. ["Hear!"] 512 The House does not appear to be aware of this—that the French Government, except by out stepping the law, cannot interfere with a pamphlet before it is published, though it can punish the author and publisher afterwards, if it tends to violate the law. It is not the same with newspapers; the French Government can warn the newspaper before it is published, and after three warnings they can suppress it; but there is no such law with regard to pamphlets; and those miserable pamphlets, which are quoted as proofs of the hostility of the French to England, are the productions of persons not favourable to the French Government, but of those who are anxious to create distrust, and then war, between England and France, in order to set upon the throne some one of those two branches of the family now in exile. General Mackintosh says that there must be forts at the north of London, inclosing Hampstead and Highgate; and he further says—which cannot be very consolatory to my hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth—that the north of London is in much less danger than the south—because the bridges over the Thames could be broken down, and the north of London could be defended much longer than the south. I do not find that in the proposition of the noble Lord there is a recommendation that this advice should be adopted, and as the noble Lord is not a great military authority, and in polities is frequently mistaken and in error—I will form my own judgment where there are so many contradictory opinions. I shall give a few more extracts from persons of importance in military circles, and I ask the Committee what is the authority they will follow—how far they will go—and how much money they will spend on this evidently impossible undertaking? General Sir Robert Gardiner is acquainted, I presume, with fortifications. Only the other clay he was Governor of Gibraltar. As a statesman and as a Governor there, I do not think he has shone with very great lustre; hut, nevertheless, he may know a great deal about fortifications. Sir Robert Gardiner has stated his opinion in a pamphlet, which he has sent about most industriously. He did not, I suppose, believe that I would read it, and, therefore, he sent me a copy every week. He is quite mistaken. I pay great attention to gentlemen when they are speaking of something they understand, and I therefore paid attention to what Sir Robert Gardiner said on a subject of this 513 nature. General Sir Robert Gardiner, in a pamphlet, says that an expenditure of £20,000,000 will not be sufficient for additional fortifications; while for the pay of a numerically adequate army and navy, an annual increase on the present estimates of £4,000,000 is, he maintains, necessary. Lieutenant General Kennedy is, I believe, a gentleman of great reputation; and in a new edition of his pamphlet just published, he proposes to fortify London by surrounding it with a line of forts—(this is a quotation from his pamphlet):—Each armed with, say, 40 guns, and with, say, 500 men, extending in a circumference through Hammersmith, Wormwood Scrubs, Willesden Green, Hampstead, Highgate, Tottenham, River Lea, till its junction with the Thames, Deptford, Lewisham, Sydenham, Upper Norwood, Streatham and Wandsworth.There is a good deal before us if we embark in this new undertaking. A writer in The United Service Magazine—who. I presume, represents the combined authority of the army and navy—declares that the steam navy alone required should consist of no less than 1,056 vessels of all sorts, of which we are at present deficient, 100—no, 101, for he is very minute—screw line-of-battle ships, 6 blockships, 74 steam frigates, 67 steam corvettes and sloops, 7 floating batteries or rams, 266 gunboats and 86 mortar vessels. That is published in The United Service Magazine, read, I presume, in military circles, or—supposing the editor not to be in a state of absolute idiotcy—it would not ho published in that periodical. Finally, the anonymous author of a pamphlet, entitled "Invasion Rendered Impossible; by a Member of the Royal Naval and Military Institution," proposes to render invasion impossible by placing permanently along the open beaches, at the mouths of rivers, all round our great roadsteads, in front of all our sea-coast towns, and wherever insult may be given and defence is necessary, long 32-pounder guns—at a distance of 30 yards apart from each other, a little above high-water mark. This would give 60 guns in every mile. Each gun is to be manned by one captain and 10 men, the crews to consist of paid volunteers from the towns and villages on the coast and a few miles inland. Now, assuming that 300 miles of the coast line of Great Britain would need defending, 18,000 guns would be required. And as there is to be a captain and 10 men to each gun, we should want, of 514 course, 18,000 captains and 180,000 men for that operation alone. I have diminished, or let down, his statement very much, and no doubt he may think I did injustice to his patriotism, for I have taken the 300 miles to which the Report of the Com mission refers; but I believe he spoke of the whole coast line of the country, and did not confine himself to 300 miles. But we have an authority on the subject across the Channel. In Belgium a pamphlet has been published, which no doubt has been sent to many Members of the House—they all come to me. It is written and published by M, Brialmont, who published a Life of the Luke of Wellington, and whoso father is a great military authority, and is said to be the oldest officer in Europe. What does M. Brialmont say? He has not to pay for our defences, and no doubt wishes to see this country in a proper state of defence—so that he may be regarded as an impartial witness. He says there must be an increase of fortifications at Chatham. The Defence Com mission thinks it not practicable. Secondly, he says we must construct a new fortress at Guildford. Thirdly, he says, we must create a great depot, with a vast entrenched camp, at Croydon, ten miles from London; and that then, "with reorganization of the English army on the base of the conscription, England will be invincible at home." His plan, in brief, involves "augmentation of the permanent army and the creation of a grand strategical pivot in the south and in the neighbour hood of London." That is what he proposes. Now, I come to what our own Commission proposes. Allow me to mention as briefly as I can what this Commission states; they do not leave us in much doubt of the dreadful apparition they are about to present to us. They state that having carefully weighed the subject, they are of opinion that neither fleet, nor army, nor Volunteers, nor even the three combined, can be relied upon as sufficient in themselves for the security of the kingdom from foreign invasion, and they go on al together on the most desponding principle throughout. They assume that there will he a grand combination of all the maritime nations of the earth against England. Well, if we pursue the policy which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken of, and which the Government have as yet adhered to—namely, a policy of great justice and courtesy in dealing with foreign nations—that combination of maritime Powers is 515 absolutely impossible. They talk of a sudden naval combination against this country. There can be no sudden naval combination. How long does it take to negotiate the smallest and most inconsiderable matter? Do we not know when the post arrives—nay, long before it arrives, and before the hand of the clock can mark here what it has marked eastward—what are the negotiations, or, if you please, the plots and conspiracies that are hatched in every Court of Europe? We know all this by telegraph, and yet these seven gentlemen talk of a sudden naval combination against this country. They say, "every coasting vessel and fishing vessel would be available as a transport." But surely an enemy is not coming over here in a couple of hours by these means. He must either come by steam or not; and if he does not come by steam he certainly will not cross over very rapidly. The right hon. Gentleman says that there never was anything so carefully drawn up as this Report. For my own part, I never read anything of an official character so incoherent, illogical, and absurd. They say,With the power of combination which steam now affords, such a force might be assembled before daylight upon any point selected for the attempt, and thrown on shore in two or three hours.That is just the sort of stuff that fills up the columns of The Morning Advertiser. Only think of seven gentlemen—Generals, Admirals, Captains, F.R.S.'s—or anything else, putting in a Report to be offered to the Queen and to Parliament, a paragraph of such monstrous absurdity as that which I have now read. And then they say that "without secure ports in which a fleet can find refuge in case of disaster," there could be no security. The whole Report goes upon nothing but disasters. You should have in the annals of 300 years nothing but naval disasters to justify the statements in the Report. "With au attempt at something like fairness, which only makes the matter worse, they say, "doubtless the defence would be somewhat aided by railways and telegraphs." When they want to tell you what Franco can do, they point out how telegraphs and railroads may be rendered useful; but when they tell you what you can do, they merely say, "doubtless the defence would be somewhat aided by railways and telegraphs." Why, the whole thing; was a foregone conclusion. They need not have stepped out of the War Office, where 516 I presume they drew up the Report; they might say all these absurd things, and take them from any newspaper in London, without having made any scientific inquiry at all. The noble Lord has put in his Resolution a passage respecting works for the protection of the harbours of Dovor and of Portland. These Commissioners say in their Report respecting the defences of Dovor that if works were not already erected there they would recommend no defences at Dovor. But having got there what will not defend anything, they propose to expend £335,000 on defences that are not necessary and are of no value. They say further—I beg the noble Lord's attention to this, for though I oppose the whole scheme, and though he will not agree to my suggestions, I would wish he would take something out of it that is utterly absurd—they say that Dovor, being a harbour of refuge, it must necessarily have defences. But why defend a harbour of refuge, as if they were thereby rendered especial objects of attack? Ships do not come there to make a permanent stay. Ships come into Dovor in case of storm; and that is what Harbours of Refuge are for, and when the storm is over they pass on on their voyage, and there can be no object in view in expending £335,000 for that purpose. They tell us there is no naval establishment at Portland, and that as far as they know it is not intended to have one there; and yet they propose to expend £660,000 on the defences of the roadstead and Harbour of Portland. I will turn to the evidence given before the Commission, and I think that Gentlemen accurately informed on military matters, and familiar on all those points, should have gone over the evidence, before they gave to the House pictures of such gross and ludicrous inconsistency. Colonel Bingham is examined, and an hon. Friend behind me says he is a very distinguished man, and I express no doubt about it—they are all very distinguished men. He tells us that 72,000 trained men and 108,000 untrained men will be required for the defence of the dockyards, arsenals, towns, and batteries on the coasts. He does not tell where they are to come from. There are now mounted, he says, upwards of 3,000 guns, and that during the present year there will be added 1,000 more. But he tells us more than that; ho tells us we have no men to work the guns already mounted. Yet according to the tabular statement of the Report 2,000 more guns will be added. 517 Colonel Bingham says that we shall have in all 6,000 guns, and it will require 29,000 trained troops and 36,000 auxiliaries in addition to all those you at present have to make those guns of any avail. You are asked to spend all this money, though officers who can have no prejudice against the plan, hut may have a professional bias, tell you that you have more guns and fortifications than you can make available by any number of men that you have now. Prom the evidence of Admiral Sir Thomas Maitland, Captain Sullivan, and others, it appears that "no forts could prevent iron-plated ships going in and destroying arsenals." Sir John Burgoyne, a great authority, and a man of undoubted frankness and honesty, says it is impossible to protect Portsmouth against long range guns, without fortifications of 30 or 40 miles' development, and he would prefer to trust to an army in the field. But then again I was talking yesterday with a gentleman who does not appear to stand very high in the favour of the Secretary for War, but who is, I believe, the first engineer and machinist in these matters. Mr. Whitworth, of Manchester, told me last night that he would undertake to throw 701b. shells filled with molten iron six miles—he believed seven—but he would guarantee six. The whole system of warfare is about to undergo a change—as great, probably, as the change that took place when gun-powder was first used; and yet you have the Government in its fussy activity, not having the courage to tell the people the truth in this matter, rushing day after day into all kinds of absurd expenses, not knowing but that twelve months hence they will be of no effect, and must be done over again. They claim to be great patriots, and to be anxious for the interests of trade. I should know the value of preserving Liverpool or Manchester, or Birmingham, as well as the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and I am one of those who believe that at a time like this, when these remarkable changes are taking place, which will make war ten times more destructive, or—which may Heaven grant may make it impossible—the course of an honest and economic Government should be, to go on slowly, cautiously, and inquiringly, and not commit themselves to a vast expenditure, which twelve months' experience may show to be of no value at all. We have had also a Committee besides those seven Gentlemen, and the name of the Duke of Cambridge stood, I believe, at the head of the list. I should 518 like to tell the Committee what those gentlemen have stated, in order that we may know whither we are going. They say:—Measures are being taken to increase the Channel fleet, and the public mind is satisfied that this, the first line of defence, is being put into an efficient state; and, doubtless, it will be equally satisfied that the fortifications proposed by the Commissioners will, if efficiently garrisoned, place the arsenals and dockyards beyond the reach of sudden destruction by a hostile force, either by land or sea. Further, if the regular force of the country were brought up to the required strength, a like confidence would be felt in our ability to meet an enemy who may have succeeded in effecting a landing in force upon our shores. Seeing the altered circumstances produced by the introduction of steam, which has necessitated a larger military organization than has hitherto existed in this country, the Committee consider that they would be shrinking from their duty, if they did not bring forward on the present occasion their opinion as to the insufficiency of the present strength of the regular army, and they trust that it will be admitted to be wise and prudent to place it on a scale corresponding to that of the other branches of defence; for it can never be forgotten that, however essential and valuable the Militia and Volunteers may be, they can only he treated as reserves and auxiliaries to meet the great emergencies which may arise.It is their opinion that the army is of very insufficient magnitude. They express their opinion of the insufficient strength of the army, and think it is wise and prudent to place it on a scale corresponding with the other branches of defence. Bo they mean that your army is to be placed upon a scale corresponding with your navy? The power and magnificence of your navy is judged of in comparison with the navies of other countries. Do they mean that the strength of your army is to be equal to the strength of your navy; and are you to exceed other countries in your powers of defence by your army as much as you do by your navy? The noble Lord docs not think they mean that. Perhaps they do not. But when men of this character bring forward Reports of this description, calculated to involve the country in a vast expenditure and an increase of the taxation of the people, they ought at least to define what they do mean, and they ought themselves to understand it, in order that we may know what we are asked to consent to. They say further that these said Volunteers, about whom we have heard so much—and really we hardly know some of our acquaintances in them in their strange dresses—will not be sufficient. "It cannot be forgotten," they say, "that however efficient Militia and Volunteers may be they can only be de pended on to meet emergencies as they 519 arise." Therefore, all those fleets, all these fortifications, and all this increase of the army is not to meet emergencies that may arise; hut they are to be for the ordinary defence of the country. I suppose, then, that the Volunteers and the Militia are to come in when the great emergencies turn up. Then they say further that they cannot conclude their observations without drawing attention to a subject not included in the instructions to the Commissioners, and they advert to the possession of the Channel Islands, and "the seas surrounding them"—mark the absurdity of this language—as a naval station, which they consider to be so material to the command of the British Channel as to form an important element in any general scheme of defence for the United Kingdom. See the absurdity of this language! I ask again, when we are invited to consider these things, where are you inviting us to go? But if there be needed any absolute proof of that particular quality which I ascribe to these seven Gentlemen, I have it in the letter which they wrote, no doubt with an immense official seal, and with a great parade of authority, to Lord Overstone. Lord Overstone has been reputed to be an authority upon certain things. He is believed to be a man of prodigious wealth, and I fear he is like many men who, having got rich, as they get older become extremely timid—especially if they were never very robust. This is the question which they asked Lord Overstone. I have no doubt most Members have read it, but still it cannot be read too often—which is a thing you cannot say of everything that is written. They say, "We ask your Lordship's views." Now, if Lord Overstone had not been a Lord, and if he had not been a millionaire, it is quite clear they would not have asked his opinion at all. Yet every man knows perfectly well that the fact of a man being a Lord, and of being a millionaire, makes him no authority whatever upon the great question of national defences. "We ask your Lordship's views of the immediate effects upon the commercial and monetary affairs of the country that would follow the landing of an invading army?" And they add, "Especially would such a state of things be compatible with a continuance of the ordinary operations of the Stock Exchange or of commerce generally?"—I take it the Bears would have the best of it—"Would not a wide-spread collapse and suspension result? Would the evils of 520 such a state of things be so intolerable that the people would force the Government to pence at almost any cost of honour, or wealth, or future greatness?" Now, what is the answer of Lord Overstone? He says with a simplicity that is absolutely charming—he says, "Money would be withdrawn from the savings banks, from country banks," and then the shop peeps out, for he says, "and from all parties holding money at call." He says further—and here he shows some discretion—"It is useless to discuss what will occur, or what can be done after London has fallen into the hands of an invading foe." I am thankful I am not a Lord or a millionaire. These gentlemen might have asked me these questions, and possibly I might have been tempted to make such an exhibition of myself as Lord Overstone has made in these answers; but I am thankful not to be in so distinguished a position as to be asked to give an opinion upon such questions. I want, however, to ask the Committee this: The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sidney Herbert) speaks as if he thought these were not questions that could he debated, it is so obvious that what the Government asks us to do is the right thing to do. I would ask, is there any other thing in the world you could be asked to do that you would undertake to do upon counsel such as that I have just read? It seems to me like some dozens of doctors coming in to discuss what shall be done about the health of a man of whom there is no pretence to say he is ill; yet the doctors, every one, must insist upon writing a separate prescription for him. I think the man, not being sick, having only an imaginary complaint upon him, would be quite justified in driving the doctors to the door; and I should say, as with regard to these men, that nothing can he more confused than the counsel that is now offered to us. They do not tell us we shall have any greater security, after we have done all they wish, than we have already. Every man among them says, "If you do not do what I propose, you will have no security," yet nine-tenths of all the things they propose to you to do will not make you secure. After all you will have no greater security than you have, and you will have no diminution of panic, yet you will have interminable expense. That is certain and indisputable. Having asked the Committee to follow me through our advisers' advice as to what we ought to do, I will ask them now to look at what has been 521 done—because we are not now considering a state of things wherein nothing has been done for the defence of the country, or wherein nobody has paid any taxes for that purpose. All the accumulated wealth of the country is not left in the pockets of the people. That is not our state. Now, if we go back for twenty-five year? we shall find we have trebled our military expenses during that period. In 1835 our naval and military expenditure was £12,000,000; in 1353, it was £15,000,000 or £16,000.000, and in 1860 we have voted about £30,000,000. But is that enormous charge any pledge of security? Not the least. Neither in 1835, nor at any other period since that time, has there ever been any of that feeling of insecurity which has existed of late. It is clear, then, that the addition of £16,000,000 of annual expenditure upon the army and navy has not done one single thing towards bringing us any nearer to security, or towards satisfying the pressure of the services upon the Exchequer of the country. The noble Lord quoted the authority of the Duke of Wellington. The Duke of Wellington did a great deal for his order during has life, and somebody persuaded him to leave them a legacy, when he died, in the shape of a letter, which, if he had been twenty years younger, he never would have written. I would rather trust what the Duke of Wellington did in 1835, when be was younger, than at the period when he wrote that letter. What did he do? He brought in these moderate Estimates—he was not afraid of popular opinion, and he and Sir Robert Peel brought in those Estimates because they believed them to be sufficient for the public service. But if you want to know the change that took place in the Duke of Wellington's mind, come down to 1851, a little after the time when he wrote that letter; and what did lie do then? That was the year of the Great Exhibition. The Duke of Wellington at that time, as everybody knows who knew anything about him, had become what many of us will become when we arrive at that time of life—he had become more nervous and more irritable than when he was younger. He fancied the country was running into great perils at the time of the Great Exhibition. He had a vision of that class of Frenchmen of whom the noble Lord has seen something lately. He had a vision of Frenchmen—refugees, I suppose; be thought that everybody who was discontented upon the Continent would come here, not to see 522 I the Exhibition but for the purpose of dethroning the Queen, turning the House of I Lords into the Thames, and overturning everything that Englishmen hold in estimation. And what did the Duke, under such influences, advise? Why, that as many troops as could he got there should be drawn round London; and I believe that 30,000 men were collected, gradually and quietly, so as not to alarm those Frenchmen, who knew nothing at all about it, in order that they might be ready to save the Queen and the Court when the went to open the Exhibition. That is a fact. I say, therefore, that I am not bound, and I will not be bound, to take the opinions of the Duke of Wellington, or any other person, when I see such inconsistencies in him, and when he was at a time of life and surrounded by circumstances which must have great influence upon the soundness and clearness of his judgment. The noble Lord in his speech—and I find great fault with that speech, because I am sorry to say it has contributed very much to create false impressions in the public mind—mis-stated facts; for he said, "We know that the utmost exertions have been made, and are still making, to create a navy in France equal, or very nearly equal, to our own. I suppose the noble Lord spoke then without knowledge; at all events, I am quite sure he said that which he cannot know to be true. These are the facts, and they are not disguised by the French Government. The English Government will not allow foreigners, nor even Englishmen, to go over their dockyards to see what is going on; but in France there is the utmost frankness and freedom in this respect. And what are the facts? It is within the last three years that these disturbances and alarms have so much increased; yet in 1858 the number of men in the French navy was only 30,000, while in the English navy it was 59,000, or nearly double. In 1860 the number of men in the French navy was 30,500 men; but the number of men in the English navy had been increased to 84,000 men. In the last three years, therefore, you have added 25,000 men to your navy, or a number nearly equal to the whole cumber of men in the French navy. Is there any one in the House who will deny these facts? Then, in 1857, it is notorious that the French Government adopted a scheme which they published to the world; it was, that they would make certain changes by which they anticipated that in fourteen years they 523 would have 40 line of battle ships—15 of the first and 25 of the second class. That is the scheme they are now proceeding with, and there is no disposition whatever to conceal it. But there is another proof of it. What is expended upon the French navy? Their budget shows an expenditure upon it of £5,600,000. It is quite possible that, in particular years, they may go beyond the budget; if you like, then, add £1,000,000 to it, and call it £6,600,000. But, if you do, the sum docs not amount to nearly one-half of what you spend upon your navy. Is the country which builds ships at greater cost, which puts engines in then; at an excessive cost, which has not half the means of producing these instruments of war that we have—I say is it possible that France can have a navy, as the noble Lord says, "nearly equal to ours," when their expenditure is only £6,000,000 against ours, which is between £14,000.000 and £15,000,000? If that be so, then the enormous expense of our navy as compared with that of France is one of the most disgraceful circumstances the country has to complain of, and the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty, and the Board connected with him ought to be driven from their offices and somebody put in their places who will spend the money of English taxpayers more economically, and with better results. We have had some examinations with regard to Cherbourg. The panic that once prevailed about that place is now passing away. A friend of mine has sent me a copy of a very important publication upon these matters—a copy of the Army and Navy Gazette. He has marked several passages in it. Some correspondent of the paper has been over to Cherbourg; and he was allowed to see everything. There was no objection to his going everywhere; and what he says is this:—At present, as far as we can judge, Cherbourg-occupies a position of defence rather than of aggression. There is indeed very little appearance of active preparation in the arsenal; nothing to indicate an intention of immediate action in war.He says, speaking of a particular fortification:—One solitary mason was visible near the crane, and a small sloop was lying alongside the little quay of the fort, but no other sign of life could be seen. The Digue stretching away towards the right with its long line of barbette guns seemed equally lifeless.Then he describes the facility with which everything was shewn to him; and he saw 524 that frigate La Normandie, which has frightened several Admirals in this country, but which is not in a state of completion, and is not very likely to be so.'What is the name of that vessel?' said we to our gendarme. 'That is La Normandie,' said he. She is to be covered with a cuirass of steel plates which will resist cannon shot.' 'Is this one of the frigates blindees of which we have heard so much? ''Ah, yes, it is.' 'But she is not ready?' 'No; but La Gloire is very nearly completed at Brest or Toulon.'No doubt if we went to Brest or Toulon we should find La Gloire in the same unfinished state, and if we remarked upon it, should be told "Ah! she is not completed, but La, Normandie is at Cherbourg." I should not be surprised if my hon. Friend below (Admiral Napier) should say this was the sort of argument always used. But, as this correspondent says, everything is lifeless. Everything is quiet; but when you go to Cherbourg, they tell you it is different at Brest or Toulon; and when you go to Brest or Toulon they tell you it is very different at Cherbourg. Go to Cherbourg, or Brest, or Toulon, and you will see what you will see. Yet, this is the sort of argument we arc always met with. It is precisely the same sort of delusion as that of a person who always imagines he is going to be poisoned. I know a case where a gentleman imagines that at any hotel he enters they want to give him bread that is poisoned. One day he went to that beautiful hotel at Derby. "Did you not observe," said he, "the bread they gave me?" "No." "What did you not observe it was poisoned?" "No" "Why, wherever I go I find the bread they give me is always poisoned." So it is with the Gentlemen who argue this question. The ships and the men are everywhere with them, ready to come over upon us, though nobody can ever find them in the condition they are described to he in. It is no use to argue with them. The idea has got into their heads just as it got into the head of that unfortunate lunatic; and we find ourselves just as unable to eradicate up the one case as in the other. Then I am told, "No matter—all sorts of madness except that which is incurable comes to an end;" and I am to suppose that the madness of Parliament and of the noble Lord and his Colleague* will come to an end. It is not worth while to try to persuade men who are determined to believe they are right. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary 525 of War has just thrown a reproach upon the people on this question in such a way that I am prepared to denounce it as not only hypocrisy, but as a crime. He says, "Do not the people pay the taxes readily? Are they not therefore in favour of all this expenditure? "Why, who has been more instrumental than the right hon. Gentleman in creating this feeling? If the people believed they were about to be eaten up by another people coming from the other side of the Channel, and that £2,000,000—only £2,000,000—would save them from the consequences, is it likely they would contest the Vote? But I say that the fact that they do believe so is to be attributed to what I will call the contemptible cowardice of Cabinet Ministers in this country. Among all the people I have known, I have never seen more of that quality displayed than I have among those who have filled Cabinet offices. ["Oh!"] Yes, I Bay they will follow a cry that they know to be utterly baseless, they will squander money in obeying it, and they will never find courage to tell the people the real truth of the matter. Who is to blame? I am not going to divide the blame between the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his Colleagues, and the noble Lord and his Colleagues. They are both much in the same boat; they are both very much tarred by the same stick. But what did the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues do last year when they were in office? The Italian war occurred. Austria for years had been stupid; Sardinia for years had been restless and ambitious; and everybody saw that a collision would come between the two Powers. The collision took place. France interfered, and marched into Lotn-bardy. The French policy was the policy of England; but England did not choose to go to war or to interfere. Most wisely this was her choice. But I will undertake to say that the vast majority of the people of England were of opinion—and we know the Government are of opinion—that it would be very desirable the Austrians should be on the other side the Alps, and Italy free from every foreign Government. It was, therefore, the policy of England that the French Government entered Italy to carry out. But what did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire and his Colleagues? Why, they took the best steps they could to create alarm through the country; they said it was necessary to ho prepared for any emergency; nobody knew what was about to 526 happen; the active Monarch who had marched a great army into Italy might be expected immediately afterwards to march a great army into England. ["Hear!"] I hear some one cheers that. It is difficult to conceive any alarm more absurd than that. It is not very likely that even French soldiers, much as they can do, can be in two places at once. Every man in Europe felt that, except certain people in England, the fact of the French troops being engaged in Italy made it infinitely less likely they could possibly contemplate coming over to England; and yet the moment the war began all kind of alarm was created. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Paking-ton) took great credit for—I was going to say the profligacy, but I will say the profuseness—with which he expended the money of the country in increasing the navy, which was, I suppose, to keep back soldiers who were then probably on their march southward across the Alps. But the French were triumphant, and the policy of England was successful in Italy. There was no hostility to this country, and yet England armed, and still arms, and from that time to this she has been continually arming—and any excuse has been held to be sufficient to hoodwink the people and make them content with the extra taxes that have been imposed upon them. Then we had had a change of Government, and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton came in. He always does come in. Very soon after the noble Lord came in, we had a debate in this House to which I have already referred. It was opened by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and he was followed by the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. I took the liberty of addressing the House after them, with a speech in which I recommended them to enter into commercial arrangements with France. Now, I will just give the House an extract from the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government upon that occasion, and also an extract from the speech of his colleague, the Foreign Secretary, and then I ask the Committee whether it is fair that great interests should be trifled with by gross inconsistencies of this nature. The noble Lord at the head of the Government on that occasion said this:—I feel assured that nobody can fairly refuse to acknowledge that the Emperor of the French has been the faithful and true ally of England, both 527 in times of peace and of war, and that we have every reason to regard him as a monarch who feels personally, and upon system, desirous to cement and perpetuate the alliance which subsists between his country and our own."—[3 Hansard, vol. clv. 811.]What did the neble Lord, the Foreign Secretary, his colleague, say:—I feel with my hon. Friend (Mr. Bright) that there is something dangerous, not in the present disposition of the Emperor of the French, or in the present disposition of the French people towards this country, but in the constant endeavours made to excite in the people of this country jealousy or alarm, as to some deep plot laid against our peace and security. That fear is readily imbibed. The people are urged to prepare to defend themselves when there is no cause, and I must say that, bad as are wars of ambition, wars of panic are equally bad. I believe that whatever reproaches may be cast upon the Emperor of the French as to the various questions of his domestic and foreign policy, yet that as regards this country—and I have often repeated it—ho has been a faithful ally to us; and I believe also that upon any great question which may arise, Ins wish is to obtain the concurrence and approbation of the people of this country…What must he the effect, then, of this continual invective and declamation to the people of this country to 'arm,' as arm as if an invasion were certainly to be expected? "—[3 Hansard, vol. clv. 204.]Now, I do not blame the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) for having exhorted the people to arm, or by anything that he has said for creating and exasperating, if I may so speak, the excitement that has been occasioned; but I say the whole speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government the other night was a speech exactly of that character that would require the observations and the condemnation which the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) gave in the paragraph I have just read. And what can be more extraordinary than the course of the Government upon that occasion? Both the noble Lords upon that occasion objected to my proposition of a commercial treaty. Well, immediately afterwards—very wisely—they made a commercial treaty. But, at the same time, after declaring with unanimous consent their confidence in the good intentions, not only of the French people, but of the French Emperor, yet from that time up to this they have been doing all they could to arm against him, as if he were an enemy. Things go by contraries. They did that which they condemned in the case of the treaty. Very wisely they have taken a policy in regard to that question wholly in opposition to that which could be anticipated from the observations they made in 528 I those speeches. What have they done: during the autumn and winter? I am not going to quibble with the Committee for a moment as to whether there should be a fort more or a fort less, I am speaking now upon the great policy the Government are pursuing—a policy which they are constantly asking Parliament to unite with them in. What has been their policy during the autumn and winter? Very soon after they came into office that unfortunate transaction happened in China. They immediately entered into partnership with the French Emperor for the purpose of restoring, I think they call it, the prestige of the English arms in the Chinese waters. They invite the French Emperor to send a largo force to the East. Why, I should have thought it was the object of I the English Government—having, as they; say, great interests in the East, partly political and partly commercial—not to invite any of the European nations to send forces into that quarter of the world. But they invited the French Emperor to send forces to the East; they joined their negotiator to his; they sent an hon. Friend of I mine, a Member of this House, to Paris for the purpose of negotiating a great I treaty of amity, and at the same time they arm with the greatest vigilance and the greatest energy against the very man with whom they are on such intimate alliance in the East, and with whom they are negotiating a treaty of amity at home. I say nothing can be more grossly inconsistent, more hypocritical, and insulting, at once to the people of England and to the people of France. Let us take a short and impartial review of the transactions which have taken place between this country and France within the last few years; and I tell the Committee frankly that I use the same (language, and I feel the same sentiments as I should if it was not a Bonaparte but Louis Philippe who was at this moment upon the throne of France. When the Republic was overthrown, the news was received almost with acclamation by many Members of this House, and especially by Gentlemen sitting on the opposite side. The noble Lord at the head of the Government rushed with hot haste to congratulate the Emperor of the French, then the President of the Republic, upon what had taken place. He applauded it, he supported it, and he gave all the support that could be given from this country to that act and that policy. In 1853 the Government broke with Russia, and dissolved an 529 alliance of long duration. We entered into a new alliance with France, and for purposes connected with what was called the Eastern question. In 1854 war was declared against Russia in alliance with France. I recollect the noble Lord at the head of the Government at that time telling us what wonderful harmony existed between the Government of France and the Government of England. He used this expression—"In point of fact, there is but one Government and one Cabinet," and so united were they, that some people said the union was too hot to last. In 1856 there came the termination of the war—a war which the noble Lord and his colleagues had dragged the Emperor of the French into—and out of which the Emperor of the French dragged them. That, I believe is not denied. ["Oh, oh!" "Hear, hear!"] Well, I understand hon. Gentlemen opposite, and many others, thought the peace was made too soon. I want to show how closely we have been allied, and, therefore, how false must be our conduct in our alliance, or in our armaments. In the autumn of 1B56 we had a joint quarrel with Naples, and both France and England withdrew their Ministers from that Court. In 1857 we had the China war again, and were united in operations there. In 1859 we had the Italian war, and the opinion here was almost entirely against Austria, and the English policy was supported in Italy by French arms. Now we come to the Peace of Villafranca, and English policy has ever since prevailed in Italy. It must be obvious to everybody that the course which the Emperor marked out for himself at that peace has not been followed, and that the policy of the noble Lord at the bead of the Foreign Office has been followed in Italy; and State after State, Parma, Modena, Tuscany, and the Legations have been added to Sardinia, contrary to the opinion and wish of the Emperor of the French. Well, that does not show that the Emperor of the French was hostile to this country, but rather that he endeavoured in everything he could to meet the views of the English Government, and to carry out a policy in accordance, to a largo extent, with the policy of England. I will not go into the question of Savoy, which the Government endeavoured to make a great question, but which all Europe was unanimous in deciding upon to be a very small question; but, big or little, the English Government knew the conditions on which Savoy was to be annexed 530 to France. They insisted on certain conditions—on the annexation of certain States to Sardinia—and they thought they could prevail upon the Emperor to give up the annexation of Savoy. But it was folly to expect, after a monarch had carried on a war, and had been successful in it, that he should surrender every portion of his policy. He allowed you to make the annexations to Sardinia; but he did not allow you to frighten him from the annexation of a petty province to his empire. Well, now, we have this question of Syria, in regard to which the noble Lord gave us the other day what I think was a very frank and proper explanation—so far as we know anything about it, and it led to this conclusion, that the Emperor of the French had behaved with the greatest possible moderation and frankness towards the English Government. [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: Hear, hear.] The noble Lord assents to that. The first thing he did when the idea of the necessity of intervention presented itself to his mind, was to ask the counsel and the concurrence of the Government of England. That does not show any hostility or treachery, or any anxiety to aggrandize himself, or to take a position isolated and independent in the affairs of Europe. Then, I say, that being so, it would be but fair that we should act as if we thought there was in his conduct that which was sincere and honourable to this country. And, now, Sir, we have got stronger proof in that very commercial treaty, of which some persons still affect to think lightly, but which all those connected with the commerce of France and England believe to be the most important measure of peace and commerce which has ever taken place between those two nations. That treaty has its friends and its foes; but the foes of that treaty, in my opinion, if they understand its provisions and its probable effect, are the foes of peace, and the foes of the two nations between whom that treaty has been negotiated. I say that those who write in this City, apparently to embroil the two nations, who are not Bonapartists certainly, but more likely Orleanists, constantly attack the treaty, although there is not a single deputation from all the trades in England which have been before that Joint Commission which has not returned not only satisfied, but delighted with the opening prospects of trade in all its branches between the two countries. I said I should make an observation upon the noble Lord's speech, but it will 531 be very short. I say the noble Lord might himself have brought forward this very proposition—a proposition I entirely condemn'—-but lie might have brought it forward in a manner much less injurious than that which he adopted. I do not believe that the Gentlemen sitting with him can approve of that language, and I am sure that the great body of the Members in this House do not. I have never heard from any person outside the House but one opinion, namely, of regret that the noble Lord Should have used language which was calculated to create panic in England, and create excitement and distrust, and, it might be, passion in France. Now, I shall ask the House one question before I sit down, and that is whether this expenditure that we are now discussing is to be without limit, and whether the House, contrary to the opinion of nil other men who have ever sat as representatives of a nation, is of opinion that it does not matter in the least how much money we throw away in military establishments every year. How has this change come about? It all came about since the year 1853, when the floodgates of passion were opened, and from that time to the present the Exchequer has been open, and every man, it appears, has been allowed to put his hand into it, and spend just as much money as he likes. Up to that time it was boasted that the reign of Queen Victoria was to be a reign of peace. We were told that—No war, or battle's sound, Was heard the world around; The idle spear and shield were high up hung.But since then the Court seems to have its chief occupation in connection with military affairs—reviews in Hyde Park,—reviews at Aldershot,—shooting matches on Wimbledon Common—all these are occupations which for a long time have been foreign to the English Court, and for which I believe in my conscience there is not a particle of justification at the moment at which I am speaking. The people are stimulated to arm, the Cabinet is constantly devising new modes of expenditure, and all this appears to be based upon the ignorance of the people, the clamours of the services, and the want of courage in the Cabinet to speak the real truth to the nation. There was a great Minister of Queen Elizabeth's who once declared—and with great truth—that England would never be undone except by a Parliament; and I fear the course we are taking, in our utter negligence with regard to matters to which I have alluded, and with 532 reference to our expenditure, is tending to that which we understand by the undoing of a nation. You are told at this moment, after £30,000,000 have been voted for the service of the country, that you are not safe. You are told that in another year—not in case of war, but in a time of peace—you will see the Votes still higher. You have voted this year for all the services of the Government and for the payment of the interest of the debt, a sum exceeding £73,000,000 sterling. My hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams) has devoted much time in calling the attention of the House to this extravagance, but altogether, I am sorry to say, without effect. But suppose you were to place all this taxation upon the persons who have £100 a year and more—that is, upon the income tax payers—it would actually absorb and extract about one-third of the whole income of all the people of the United Kingdom; because if 1d. gives £1,000,000 of income tax, £73,000,000 would require 73 pence in the pound, or 6s. 1d. of income tax; and, therefore, within a little, it would be one-third of the whole income, and consequently of the whole property of the population of this kingdom having an income of £100 a year and upwards, which you take from them and give to somebody else, and which you put into this Exchequer, of which the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Oxford, is supposed to hold the key—but which I believe is being rifled from day to day, and from Session to Session, against his will, and he has no power probably to withstand it. An hon. Gentleman says—"Why does he hold the key? "No doubt there are Gentlemen who would wish to hold the key themselves. I should be very glad to see him surrender the key if anybody with a firmer hand would lay hold of it in his place. But there is a country where Englishmen live and where this expenditure does not take place. I have lately read a speech of wonderful power delivered by Mr. Everett in the United States, a speech which was in answer to a speech made in "another place" attacking the American institutions. Mr. Everett stated that their next coming census was expected to show a population in the United States of about 32,000,000 of souls. That is more than the census of next year will show for the population of the United Kingdom; and yet this very year the expenses of the whole Government at Washington, including the Government of the 533 thirty-three separate States, will not amount to more than the sum of £12,000,000 sterling. Now, it may he necessary or it may not—we will leave that out of the question for the moment—but I ask every Gentleman here, who has the slightest knowledge on of any mortal thing connected with legislation, or government, or the social condition of a people, whether it is possible that you can continue to raise from the people of this country £60,000,000 sterling per annum of taxes more than an equal population is called upon to pay for its Government and its policy in the United States, and that we can go on with safety to our institutions, or that the people can hear the strain of that enormous pressure? France may be our enemy. I do not believe she is. There may be enemies abroad; but I find nobody who can point them out. I can, however, point out an enemy at home, and that is this insane and wicked policy, which requires that you should abstract from the labour and the industry of the people of England this enormous, incredible, and ruinous sum from year to: year. What is the result in every other country? If somebody had told the Minister of Louis XIV. that his extravagance would end in disaster to France, he should answer them, as I shall be answered, "The country is rich enough—the glory of France is worth more than your sordid considerations of pounds, shillings, and pence—France must keep a great position in Europe—there is no burden which France will not easily by its elasticity raise itself under and support." But do we not know that in another generation his family became exiles, the aristocracy of his country was overthrown; another branch of his family has been exiled, and the kingdom which he did so much to ruin has been subjected to sixty years of anarchy and recurring revolution? This is the story history tells of other countries as well as of Prance; and if we pursue the same course I fear the history which will be written in the future of our time will be exactly like that which has been written of France and of other countries. You will have an exiled Royal family—you will have an overthrown aristocracy—and you will have a period of recurring revolution; and there is no path so straight, so downward, so slippery, so easily travelled to all these misfortunes as the path which we are now following, year after year adding to these enormous expenses until the time will come when there will be some change throughout the country, 534 when men will open their eyes, will ask who has deceived them, defrauded them, pillaged them. And then you will have to pay the penalty which ail men in the upper classes of society in every country have had to pay when they have not maintained the rights of the great body of the people in this particular, and when they have not fulfilled the duties which devolved upon them as the governing classes of the country. It is because I hate this policy—because I condemn this expenditure—because I see that it will load to more expenditure and to the wider prevalence of this policy—it is on these accounts that I oppose with all my heart the Resolution of the noble Lord; and in doing that I feel the strongest conviction in my conscience that I am doing my duty not less to the people, of whom I am one, than to the monarchy under which I live.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
had listened attentively to the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, and regretted that the hon. Member had not thought fit to explain very clearly what was the proposition that he wished to establish? The long and able speech of the hon. Member would have been appropriate if the House had been asked to vote money to prepare an expedition against Franco; but was quite out of place when delivered upon a proposition to vote £2,000,000 for the defence of our own arsenals. The hon. Gentleman had condemned both the policy and the expenditure proposed. He spoke of the expenditure as extravagant; but his chief objection to the Vote did not appear to rest on economic grounds, for the chief part of his speech was directed against the policy of it. What was the policy? That, while we maintained good relations with our neighbours across the Channel, we should place ourselves in a position of independence as regarded France. That was the policy which the hon. Gentleman evidently opposed; and therefore the object of his speech must be considered to be, that England should not be independent so far as her relations with France might affect her independence. No one who voted for these defensive preparations could be accused of entertaining a desire for hostilities with France. The Emperor of the French had written a letter stating that he was desirous to maintain amicable relations with this country. He was quite ready to believe that such was the case. But in another part of that letter the Emperor admitted that with regard to the expedition 535 to the East, he had bowed to the public opinion of France. There had been periods when the public opinion of France was such as to render defensive preparations on the part of this country highly desirable, what security had this country that such periods would not recur. The Emperor pleaded that his pacific intentions would in such cases be barren. He (Mr. Newdegate) had not forgotten that the hon. Member for Birmingham had called him to account for saying that he thought the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) was inspired with undue deference for the present Government of France, and that he lightly valued the free institutions of this country. This reached the ears of the hon. Member for Rochdale, who returned from Paris and had sat for three weeks in that House. During that time he (Mr. Newdegate) waited to see the hon. Member for Rochdale rise in his place and deny these allegations; but he never rose. He had desired him (Mr. Newdegate), in a letter, to withdraw the allegations he had advanced, but the hon. Member never had the manliness to rise in the House and deny the truth of these allegations. He (Mr. Newdegate) did not understand the object of the hon. Member for Birmingham in denouncing the policy of these defensive preparations, unless it originated in a desire that England should not be in a position to maintain her independence of France. He appealed to any Member of the Committee to say what was the object of that speech. What was the reason of this opposition of the hon. Member for Birmingham to this policy of the Government, but that be was jealous that England should stand in a position of independence, in a position in which her alliance with France might be an honour and not a disgrace to her. The hon. Member seemed to be offended at our maintaining the inviolability of our shores, and that the House was endeavouring to excite the people against the Government; on that score, he (Mr. Newdegate) believed that the Government were only discharging a solemn duty in the appeal they now made to the House. The hon. Member for Birmingham spoke of the late Duke of Wellington in the same terms as were used by the hon. Member for Rochdale, in his letters of 1853. He declared the warnings of the late Duke of Wellington as to the unprotected state of the coast as the "emanations of a broken mind." Then he had spoken of the Commissioners, consisting as they did of the most eminent men in their profession, as 536 an "aggregate of lunatics." Such were the assertions to which he was driven in order to cover the object of his speech, which he (Mr. Newdegate) again asserted to be, if it was not a mere idle display to delude the public, must be a desire to prevent England taking the menus essential to her independent position in Europe as compared with the growing influence of France. This opinion the hon. Member might disclaim whenever he thought fit to return to his seat. The hon. Member seemed offended because the House were adopting a measure to maintain the inviolability of their shores, and the hon. Member endeavoured to excite the people against the Government, which he (Mr. Newdegate) firmly believed had only discharged a solemn duty in the appeal which they now made to the Committee.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
said, he did not concur in the Amendment, but at the same time he could not concur wholly with the Resolution originally proposed. His objections were two-fold. He believed, in the first place, that some of the works recommended were not really required; and in the next lie thought the cost of every work should be estimated not only by the original cost of construction, but by what was, in fact, far more important, the subsequent cost of manning it. Any one reading the Report with impartiality and attention might, he thought, arrive at the conclusion that the Commissioners had made out a sufficient case for the sea defences to protect the dockyards, but that no such case had been made out for the land defences, (which were only to be of use after an enemy had landed); except, perhaps, in the one instance of Portsmouth, on account of its peculiar importance. It was evident from the paper or "detail" laid on the table last Friday that the Government themselves did not concur with the Commissioners to the extent of about two-thirds of the land defences, and he would therefore suggest the propriety of their reconsidering the case of the remaining one-third, which involved an expenditure of about a million and a half of money. It was clear from their Report that the Commissioners had approached the subject with an exaggerated fear of invasion. The hon. Member for Birmingham, in many of whose remarks he did not agree, had made some criticisms which appeared to him to be very just, upon the exaggerated language of the Report. In one paragraph it was actually stated 537 that if our fleet lost for a time the command of the channel, our insular position would be a positive disadvantage for the purpose of defence. This, if it meant anything, was equivalent to an assertion that if the command of the Channel were temporarily lost, it would be rational, with a view to the defence of England, to desire that Dovor should be joined to Calais, and that the shores of Hants and Dorsetshire should, not politically, but physically, be annexed to those of Normandy. Now, he asked whether it was possible not to be struck with the absurdity of that proposition. The idea, too, that France or any other nation would invade us for such a secondary object as the destruction of Plymouth or Pembroke dockyard was one which could scarcely be entertained. Why, if they failed, their landed force would be destroyed, and if they succeeded they would have achieved nothing decisive. The Commissioners had also greatly underrated the importance of railways and telegraphs, which would be found most valuable auxiliaries in the case of invasion. The works recommended by the Commissioners could not, according to their own calculation, be manned by a force of less than 60,000 or 70,000. The Defence Committee at the Horse Guards were of opinion that of the "a considerable proportion" must be regular troops. If a considerable proportion meant one half, the Commissioners' recommendations would involve an addition to the regular army of at least 30,000 men: and the less extensive works proposed be the Government to be executed, an addition of at least 15,000 men. And this, as about £85 a man (the sum estimated in the Report itself) would occasion an annual expense of £1,000,000, which represented an additional capital sum of £30,000,000 sterling. He did not urge these arguments against the execution of any work that might be required for the defence of the country, whatever the cost; but lie did hope the House would again and again consider whether the landward defences which the Commissioners had recommended, except, perhaps, those at Portsmouth were necessary.
§ LOHD ROBERT MONTAGU
would not follow the hon. Member for Bristol in likening the noble Viscount to Lycurgus, nor the laws which the noble Viscount proposes to the severe decrees of Lycurgus. He would not even liken the noble Viscount to Cupid; although there might be better grounds for likening him to that 538 "laughing god of joyous wit." Nor yet would he imitate the hon. Member for Birmingham, in reading long extracts from letters and pamphlets which detailed various schemes of individuals, but proved nothing against the scheme of defence conceived by the Commission. Above all, he would not follow the hon. Member for Birmingham in sneering at a Government which he once supported, at Cabinet Ministers merely because they were Cabinet Ministers, or at Lord Overstone because he was a Lord and a millionnaire. Lord Over-stone was a millionnaire because he possessed great abilities, and a Lord because those abilities were acknowledged by the country. This reminded him of a circumstance which occurred during the canvass of an hon. Member. The candidate asked a man for his vote; which the elector promised to give, if the candidate would engage to sweep away the House of Lords. The candidate answered with great tact, "I fear I shall not be able to do that, but I will tell you what I will do, I will get you made a Peer." So the elector was satisfied, and no longer desired the abolition of the House of Peers. And, similarly, if the hon. Member had a chance of being made a Peer, he would never sneer at Lords or millionnaires. The question before the House was not whether there was a probability of an invasion, but whether there was a possibility of one; for if there was a possibility it behaved the Government to provide against it, however remote the contingency might be. Even if invasion were impossible, the Government ought to follow the course they were now taking, for the country was subject to frequent panics, which are a kind of slavery; a country is not free unless secure; there could be no freedom without security, and therefore it is the duty of the Government to provide for our security. The defences should be in proportion to the magnitude of interests at stake, and not according to the immineney of the danger or greatness of the peril. It is the duty of Government to regard our remoter interests, and not pander to the passions of the moment, and court men to their destruction. But the hon. Member for Birmingham was not a good judge of the probability even. The noble Lord at the head of the Government surely had information which the hon. Member could not possess, and it was for him to judge of the probability of an invasion, and not for the hon. Member for Birmingham to 539 dispute his judgment. And on this point even, well-known facts are against the assertions of the hon. Member for Birmingham. There was a statement in the official Moniteur of January 6, 1859, that "there is nothing in the diplomatic relations of France and Austria to cause any fear." And then in the despatch of February 18 (in the "affairs of Italy") France says that she has made no preparations for war. On March 3, the Due de Malakoff denied upon his honour the rumours of armaments in France. On March 19, France proposed a Congress of Powers. On April 8, France declared that she had not added a man to her army, and that she had not armed. On the 15th of April she declared that her army was on a peace footing. But on the 26th, just eleven days afterwards, intelligence was given that an immense army had been thrown into Lombardy. Did the hon. Member for Birmingham, on that occasion, give credit to the assertions of the Emperor? Then he must have learned not to be cajoled again. Or did he then not believe the Emperor's declarations? Why should he believe them any more at the present time r If the statements made by France prior to the Italian war were falsified, what right had the hon. Member for Birmingham to believe a letter from the Emperor recently published in The Times? The Emperor stated at Bordeaux that the Empire was peace, but immediately afterwards raised the question of the Holy Places, which ended in the Crimean war against Russia. Now, in his Idées Napoléoniennes, he declared that,In order that universal peace might be established and consolidated, Russia in the East and England in the West must either be convinced by argument, or subdued by victory.If directly after his statement at Bordeaux he went to war with Russia in the East, what was to prevent him going to war with England now, even after his letter in The Times? But, in the same book he continues:—England cannot be convinced, and is not subdued; she has fleets to menace our coasts, and gold to turn the balance of treaties.And, again, after declaring that "the East can receive its regeneration at the hands of France alone," he says,Soon the day will come when to govern thee, my France, it must be understood that thy rále is to put (in the name of civilization) the sword of Brennus into all the treaties.It was impossible to attach much weight 540 to the letter which had appeared in The Times. The first Napoleon in 1800 wrote a letter to King George, in which he said:—Is then the war which ravages the four quarters of the globe to be eternal? Can we not, by some means or another, come to an understanding? … Why should we sacrifice the interests of commerce and prosperity to a vainglorious idea," &c.The present Emperor was following in the footsteps of his uncle; and if Napoleon I., shortly after writing his letter to King George, sent many thousand stalwart souls to Hades before their time, what was to prevent Napoleon III. from doing the same? But as an invasion is by no means proved to be an improbability, we may fairly suppose a case. I will not enlarge upon the dismay and consternation which would be created in London by the intelligence that the French had landed upon our shores. But I will suppose that the Government, seeing the lamentable state of things, induce the French to retire, by signing a treaty most dishonourable to this country. Or assume even the best possible case; assume that the French are constrained to retreat by the result of a sanguinary combat. The noble Viscount comes here again to meet this Parliament,—no! not this Parliament, but the shattered and mangled remains of it; for if the enemy once landed, many an hon. Member would join the Volunteers in the fight; he would go out but not return. And how would the noble Viscount excuse himself? Would he say that he foresaw the danger, but had not the heart to lay new taxes on a nation already so heavily burdened? Should we not be astonished at his desiring economy rather than safety, and looking for a small saving to the neglect of a great danger? Should we not say that the Judas who bore the bag had betrayed his trust? Or, perhaps, he would throw the blame on us, and say that he knew that if he made such an unacceptable proposition, he would be met by a successful Amendment. Should we not answer that we never were niggardly and parsimonious, that we never were guilty of such mean economy, but were always accused of being too prodigal, too liberal, too profuse in expenditure. And why should he assume that we would now, for the first time, be so thrifty? Should we not say he was a traitor, and fit to be impeached, if he did not propose a Vote for the defences of the country? 541 and how then can we refuse to support him when he does bring the proposition forward? But, Sir, I am glad of this crisis, because it brings into relief the point of difference between the only distinct parties in this House. Now, the hon. Member for Birmingham rested his whole argument on the ground of expense; he complained of the great expenditure necessary for these defences; he wished to get rid of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, because of the expense of our foreign policy; he approved of Volunteers because they cost us nothing; he spoke of all the money we should have to spend. Some people look on trade as their end and aim, to which arts, and knowledge, and intelligence should minister, and regard civilization merely as the condition most favourable to the accumulation of wealth. They think that the only office of Government is to protect the persons of those who trade and the property which they trade with; but that it is not in the province of Government to inquire even into the numerical proportion of religious sects, and that "the State should have nothing to do with education or religion." For this reason a national Church is opposed to their "theory of government;" and defences being a waste of capital, and soldiers being unproductive labourers, are contrary to "the interests of trade." But a Trench Commercial Treaty is regarded as equal to a permanent peace with France; as long as shuttles shall fly and locomotives shall scream, they hold that there never shall be war with France. Ulysses has given sweet wine to the men of one idea, in order that he thus might blind them. This is a very material point of view—to care for only what can be measured with a two-foot rule, and weighed, and valued, and booked in a ledger and added in an account. The hon. Member for Birmingham regarded "material interests" when he said "Perish Savoy and its 10,000 inhabitants," because it consists of barren mountain-slopes, and is unprofitable to trade with. He regards material interests when he grinds factory slaves in accordance with Adam Smith and political economy. But the Emperor laughs at these trading notions, and calls us a nation of shopkeepers, because he thinks we listen to the hon. Member. And he said that he had a hold over this country in the person of a Member of this House (as the hon. Member for Bridgwater stated the other night). But 542 we do not hold such doctrines; we hold that the State and the Church are realities, and that to preserve them from oven a chance of danger, it would be well to risk both our wealth and our lives; we do not join the hon. Member for Birmingham in desiring an apotheosis of free trade, and a fool's paradise of commerce.
said, he would take up the time of the Committee with only a few observations. He gathered from the speech of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) that it was of the highest importance that our arsenals and dockyards should be preserved from sudden attack. Now, he should have thought it to be the duty of the Government, before they led the House and the country into such a vast expenditure as that contemplated, to have first inquired to what extent these public establishments ought now to be maintained. If there was any portion of the Governmental expenditure in respect to which the people entertained the gravest suspicion of misappropriation, it was the vast amount of money expended in the dockyards; and they had been confirmed in this opinion by the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty, who had shown that £5,000,000 had been disposed of in a way that could not be accounted for. Now, was it desirable that the present vast expenditure in the dockyards should be maintained? In early times, when capital was scarce, and there were not those appliances which now existed, they might have been necessary; but they had since come to be looked upon as mere patronage preserves. He believed that they did not get for every pound expended even fifteen shillings' worth of work done. The time was rapidly approaching, if it had not arrived, when it would be better, instead of spending large sums upon defending their arsenals, to ask if the money was not wasted in the performance of the work done. He contended that, despite what took place with reference to the gunboats, vessels could be better and more cheaply built at the private yards, and the time would come when the ships for the navy would not be built at Portsmouth, Plymouth, or Chatham, but on the Humber, the Clyde, the Tyne, the Thames, at Cork, at the Isle of Wight, or other suitable places, where they would not be exposed to the same wide-spread devastation in the case of attack to which they were now liable in our dockyards. They talked of invasion; and, in looking at the 543 consequences, he was one of those who did not think it would be such an unmitigated evil if an invasion by the French did occur; for it would knit together the various classes throughout the country by a bond of union which had never yet been witnessed. He believed that the courage and valour of the working classes would be so shown, that they would testify so much true love of their Sovereign and their country, that no Ministry, of whatever party in the House, would desire to withhold from them the suffrage they had so long sought and been denied. A French invasion would thus prove the best Reform Bill they could have. To use the expression of a French writer, M. de Monta-lembert, he had just come from taking a bath of liberty at Brighton, and he could truly say of that constituency that no class would defend their country more ardently than the working classes. The ground had been so well gone over by the hon. Member for Birmingham, that he need not say much he had intended to urge; but he could not but regret with him the tone and temper of the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government on this occasion. A great change had come over him with reference to the Emperor of the French. He (Mr. White) had been accustomed, when he was in the House before, to hear from the noble Lord the most humiliating adulation of the French Emperor on every opportunity. He (Mr. "White) never indulged in it, and would not do so now; but, at the same time, he would do him justice in the difficult circumstances in which he was placed. With reference to the remarks made as to reorganizing and increasing the navy, he would quote an historical case. Every one knew that since the drawn battle between the navies of the two countries off TJshant, the history of the French navy had been one series of disaster. Lord Dundonald had written a very able work, in which they would find some curious instances of the state of the navy of France. During the last war, the writer said, he was in the habit of anchoring within half a mile of Marseilles, and going on shore to get water on the French coast, and occasionally smashing a telegraph or demolishing a custom-house. It certainly, under such circumstances, became the dignity of the French nation to restore their fleet to such a state that it should be able to preserve its coasts from such indignities as those to which they have been exposed in 544 former wars. As to going to war with Franco being probable or improbable, he recollected not long ago when both England and France had a most confident belief they would shortly be at war, Lord Malmesbury's Austrian bias was very apparent, that he believed had the Ministry of that day remained in power a little longer, and not been, as they fortunately were, expelled from office, there would have been a war with France. He could have wished that the noble Lord would have been as candid in his remarks (for he did tell them, in moving the Vote, that these works were rendered necessary from the apprehension of the designs of their immediate neighbour, and that there was no use in disguising the feet), and had said what had worked this great change in his opinions with regard to France. With respect to the fortifications on the Continent that had been alluded to, all experience went to show that reliance could best be placed in the public spirit of the country, and not in armed works. The great Federal strong-holds did not prevent Napoleon from conquering Germany, and the name of Ulm was associated with the most humiliating capitulation in the annals of war; the Prussian fortresses did not prevent Prussia from being conquered after the battle of Jena; and on the invasion of France, after the battle of Leipsic, had Napoleon's soldiers been in the field, instead of shut up in German fortresses, the result would have been different. In fact, all history showed that a nation's best reliance was in the spirit of the people and not on works of brick and stone. With reference to the Volunteer corps (and he was a Volunteer)—he had great sympathy with them; they were animated with the proper feelings of Englishmen, and would not be found ignoble antagonists in the case of an invasion, when fighting in defence of their country and institutions. The history of Switzerland and the Tyrol and what was done by volunteers at New Orleans proved, that when a nation had the will to fight it could always find plenty of means, and no people would fight so bravely and unflinchingly as those who were called on to do battle for their homes and institutions. He did not think he should have been so fortunate as to have caught the eye of the Chairman in a debate so important as this, or he should have come down fortified—by evidence, strengthened by testimonials, as to the wasteful expenditure that had taken 545 place on the coast with which he was now connected, namely, the south coast. He had had representations made to him on the subject, from which it appeared that the money had been most wastefully spent there in erecting useless works. He would not, as there were other Gentlemen anxious to address the House, trespass upon them further.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he came into Parliament in 1841, at a time when the English and French Governments were at variance. He had just returned from the Mediterranean, and it struck him then, not having seen a French fleet for some years, that there was a wonderful improvement in it; it was in good order, well-manned, looking well, highly commanded, and highly officered. He looked round and compared the British fleet, which he found inferior in point of numbers, size, and manning, and it struck him that was not the state of things that ought to exist. He felt alarmed; he pointed this out to the Admiralty, and showed that the French navy was going on improving fast, and that there was a difficulty in getting men for the English navy. They wished to increase the fleet to twenty sail of the line, which the French had done easily, and they found it almost impossible; and four or six sail of the line were at Spithead nine months waiting for men, whilst the ships' companies were all inferior, and short in complement. So hard were they up that they got the ships from Lisbon brought homo to make use of the men in them. He did his best to alarm the people, and point out the danger they were in, for the purpose of getting the fleet manned. He believed he succeeded, although lie was condemned on all sides as a traitor to his country for the course he took in vilifying the ravy. The fleet was subsequently made equal to the French; hut when the Eastern Question was settled, he believed it was reduced to twelve sail of the line. While France had twenty this country had only seventeen, and if France had sent her fleet to attack England without warning, there could not be the slightest doubt she would have thrown any number of people on the English shore she thought fit. The fleet on its return from the Mediterranean was gradually reduced to twelve sail of the line; then the Tahiti difficulty arose, but Sir Robert Peel managing to settle that question this country escaped again. With regard to the effect of steam, it had been said that it had made blockading im- 546 possible; but on the contrary, he believed that steam had made for the first time blockading effectual, for with a steam fleet it would be impossible for the ships blockaded to escape without the knowledge of the blockading squadron, as they had done in former times, when they landed in Ireland, and when the great portion of the fleet escaped from Brest unknown to those who were watching them. If they had a proper navy, what in the world were all those fortifications for? Were they to prevent the fleet from coming out? They certainly would not prevent its going to sea. The French never could attack this country so long as they kept a proper fleet and a good look out. It had been pointed out how easy it was to attack us if we had not a proper naval force. The French never contemplated invading England by sending boats across the Channel; when it was attempted, it was by pretending to send the fleet to Egypt, instead of which it went to the West Indies, and returned, expecting to be joined by other forces, and then to take England by surprise; but in this they were defeated by the activity of the officers of the English fleet. And what were we to do whilst these fortifications were building? Would the French wait three years before they went to war, whilst we built our fortifications? Already five very strong redoubts had been built at Portsmouth, and it was proposed now to build fortifications on Portsdown Hill to command the redoubts, which were now found to be of no use. The mistake had been made of building the batteries at Portsmouth too low, and they were now compelled to build others to overlook them. Would the Emperor of the French or any invader come where there were fortifications or where there were none? Of course, if they came at all, they would come to a place where there were no fortifications. The fortification of Dover was a freak of the Duke of Wellington; but it was of no use whatever fortifying it as a harbour of refuge. The same thing might be said of Alderney, and every other place mentioned in the Report. The Commissioners ought I to be brought to trial for high treason, seeing they had pointed out to the Emperor of the French all the possible places at which he might land an army. Reference had been made to Sweaborg, but Sweaborg was destroyed because a proper description of ships had been sent out to assail the place; and he ventured to say that Cronstadt could have been destroyed in 547 the same way if a right class of vessels bad only been sent out by Government to attack it. The late Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte seriously intended to invade England, and would have done it if he could have had forty-eight hours for the purpose of crossing the Channel. The only sure way to prevent invasion was to have always at hand a superior fleet to the French or any other nation. Whenever an English and a French ship now met in battle one of them was certain to be destroyed, and the other, perhaps, three-fourths destroyed. It was, therefore, necessary to have a fleet far superior to any other nation, for we must have ships to take the place of those that would be inevitably destroyed in the very first battle. if war broke out, and the French sent twenty ships of the line to sea, and if Sir Thomas Fremantle ordered a general chase, in half an hour the ten blockships that were at Spithead the other day—which he said were all wrong, but which the Secretary to the Admiralty would swear were all right—would all be left behind out of sight. The Admiralty must have a very considerable additional number of ships. Let the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty go to Greenwich Hospital, and carry out the Report of the Committee. Let him ameliorate the condition of the seamen and petty officers, and if necessary increase their pay, and then he would get plenty of seamen. He might then put the £2.000,000 in his pocket, and distribute it among the navy, for it would not be needed for the fortifications. England would never be invaded until France and Russia joined together. We should then have time to fortify ourselves; for the present, let the Government increase the fleet, and man it as they ought, and then they need not ask for this money for fortifications.
said, the hon. Member for Birmingham had adverted to the naval and military expenditure of England and France of late years, and had compared the naval expenditure of France with that of England. The lion. Member, no doubt, supposed that a French estimate might safely be taken as a criterion of French expenditure. It was, however, his lot about a year and a-half ago to be a member of a Committee appointed by Lord Derby for the purpose of obtaining full information as to the relative naval preparations and expenditure of England and France, and he would state, in respect of the latter, the 548 result of their investigation. Their inquiries commenced from the financial year 1852–3 and came down to the financial year 1857–8. During those five years the French navy Estimates were £19,800,000, while the expenditure had amounted to £31,600,000. That was to say, the French expenditure was £11,800,000 more than the estimates. During the same period the estimates for the English navy were, of course, for obvious reasons, larger than those of France, and it included the years of the Russian war, during which a considerable portion of the transport service of France was carried on by English vessels. The English estimates for naval expenditure during those years amounted to £60,500,000, while the expenditure was only £59,000,000; so that while the actual expenditure in England was £1,500,000 under the estimates the expenditure of France was £11,800,000 above the estimates. The hon. Member would now, he thought, be convinced that French estimates wore not a safe criterion whereby to judge of French expenditure. The English dockyard estimates for the same years was £16,000,000 and the expenditure £17,500,000. The French estimate was £7,600,000, and the expenditure £13,390,000, So that, comparing the real expenditure, and not the estimates, the dockyard expenditure of England was only one-fifth more than that of France. In France the workmen were paid on an average 1s. 6d., while the average in England was twice as much; and, in almost every other item, the cost of construction and of repairs was much greater in England than in France; so that the expenditure in the English dockyards would not appear to be anything but extravagant. The hon. Member accused his right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) of having committed an almost criminal act in having brought forward increased estimates for the dockyards, and he attributed to his having done so the increased preparations of France. He (Mr. Corry), however, believed that the provision made by his right hon. Friend, so far from being excessive, was only an instalment of what was required, and that we must go on increasing our naval preparations before this country would be in a position to meet the exigencies of a great maritime war. The most erroneous opinions existed among all classes on the subject, owing, probably, to the great length of time—forty-five years—since the conclusion of the peace with France, 549 which had caused the present generation to forget what great efforts were required to protect our shores and defend British interests in every part of the world in time of war. Even the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty appeared to underrate the proportion which our navy should bear to that of France, because in introducing the Navy Estimates in the present Session he expressed his approval of a suggestion made by the lion. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) that an arrangement should be come to between the Governments of France and England as to the strength of their relative navies, and that ours should be one-third larger than theirs. At an early part of the Session the hon. Member for Boston had given notice of his intention to ask whether there had been any negotiations with the view of regulating the strength of the navies of England and France according to their colonial and commercial necessities. That Question had never been put, and a suspicion had crossed his mind that perhaps some such arrangement as this had been contemplated as part of the price of the Commercial Treaty. He trusted, however, that no minister of this country would ever consent to anything so derogating to the dignity of the country as to place us in the position of being dictated to by any other Power as to what naval force we should maintain; but, certainly, if the strength of the fleets of the countries was to be fixed according to the plan suggested by the proposed question of the hon. Member for Boston, the English fleet, instead of being one-third, ought to be four-fifths stronger than that of France. The latter country had no colony worth a single effort to protect except Algeria, and that was situated exactly opposite to Toulon, her principal naval arsenal; while her trade was absolutely insignificent compared with that of England. In 1851 (when the last official return was made) the mercantile marine of France gave employment to only 38,500 men; while by the last returns of the Registrar General the mercantile marine of the United Kingdom gave employment to 177,800 men, and the colonial trade (which would, in time of war, require quite as much protection from ships of war) employed 66,800; giving a total of 244,600 seamen in the English trade, against 38,000 in the French trade. In English vessels the average was one man to 19 tons, while in French ones it was one to 11 tons, and therefore the difference of 550 tonnage would be still greater than that of men. In 1850 France had only 800 ships employed in the foreign trade, while we had 8,400. So that England had to protect ten foreign-going ships when the French had to protect one. If the noble. Lord consulted our naval history, he would find that down to the year 1845 we had always possessed a great deal more than one-third more ships than the French. In 1787 we had 252 line-of-battle ships and frigates, while France had only 121; in 1795 we had 319, and France 149; and even in 1845 we had 232 and France 96. Therefore down to 1845 we had a superiority in ships of the line and frigates as compared with those of France of more than two to one. At present our superiority was not more than that of four to three. This reduction had not been the result of a well-considered policy, hut of an accident—the application of the screw propeller to ships of war, most of the French ships being newer and therefore more fit for con version than ours were. In 1858 the French were equal to us in ships of the line and greatly superior in frigates. It was true that that state of things had been to a certain extent remedied under the late Government; but much more remained to be done. Another point which ought not to be lost sight of was, that while France could retain nearly all her ships of the larger classes at home the necessities of our colonial pos sessions and our commerce required that the larger portion of our fleet should be sent to foreign stations. In the year 1760, during the Seven Years' War, we had 57 line-of-battle ships and frigates at home, and 157 abroad; in 1783, after the American War, we had 79 at home and 143 abroad; in 1799 we had 82 at home and 170 abroad; and in 1809 we had 77 at home and 108 abroad. Thus in the years which he had mentioned only about one third of our line-of-battle ships and frigates bad been available for home defence, and a much smaller proportion would be available now, because both our trade and our colonies had enormously increased since the periods to which he had referred; yet the Com missioners whose Report was now under the consideration of the House said that, owing to the facilities for attack which had been afforded by the introduction of steam, a larger proportion of the fleet would be required for the defence of our shores than at former times. At the present moment, according to a statement of the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty while in- 551 troducing the Navy Estimates, France had 95 steam line-of-battle ships and frigates built, building, and converting, and Russia 44, whereas England had only 127, or 12 fewer than France and Russia combined. Such a thing as an alliance between the two great military Powers—France and Russia—was possible, and it was possible that it might be conceived in a spirit of hostility to England; and he thought that the safety of the country required that we should maintain a naval force, available for home defence, at least equal to that which France and Russia could bring against us. The Navy of England, so far from having been increased to extravagant dimensions, was still small in comparison with the navy of former times. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would continue the reconstruction of our navy until it was restored to its proper superiority over the navy of France. He entirely approved the policy of strengthening the defences of our dockyards. We must look mainly to the navy for the defence of our shores, and it was, therefore, most important to provide for the defence of those establishments in which the navy was constructed, and the security of which was essential to the maintenance of the efficiency of our fleets.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
Knowing the very laudable endeavours which the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has always made to maintain our navy in a proper position, and knowing the forward part he took in that direction when in office, I am not surprised that he should have called our attention chiefly to naval affairs; but I regret that during the whole course of his speech, able and satisfactory as it was, he made no allusion whatever to the subject immediately before us—the Report and plan recommended by the Commissioners for the defence of the kingdom. Every person must be aware of the vast importance of this question, I am inclined to regret that it is in a manner somewhat prejudged by the House, and that many hon. Members arc intent upon coming to a vote without entering into any inquiry as to the Report of the Commissioners or as to the circumstances under which it is presented to our notice. We have a right to ask why the Report and recommendations of the Commissioners have been brought forward at the fag-end of the Session: because if it be true, as stated by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, that to put this country in a proper state of security it is absolutely necessary to carry 552 out the recommendations of the Commissioners, we ought to know why the Report as been suffered to lie dormant for six months. That is not an immaterial question to leave unanswered. How stand the facts of the case? On the 10th of February the Chancellor of the Exchequer submitted his financial proposals. What were those financial proposals? It will be recollected that £2,000,000 of terminable annuities fell in this year. What did the Chancellor 1 of the Exchequer propose to do with those annuities? Did we hear one whisper of the terminable annuities which arc now to be raised for the defences of the country? No, Sir; the Chancellor of the Exchequer seized upon the £2,000,000 of annuities which fell in to make good the loss expected to arise from the repeal of the paper duties. The right hon. Gentleman likewise increased the income tax. All this might have been very well had he not been aware that the Ministry were about to call upon the House to vote £2,000,000 in terminable annuities for the defences of the country. Was he aware of that fact? The Report, of the Commissioners is dated the 7th of February. On the 10th the Budget was brought forward. Not a word was said about the Report of the Commissioners; but now, at the fag-end of the Session, the noble Lord asks the House to commence an indefinite expenditure by voting on account £2,000,000 in terminable annuities. I say, Sir, the House and the country have been entrapped into former votes by the proceedings the Government have taken, and I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer is bound to tell us why he suppressed the facts on the 10th of February. The Secretary for War has studiously avoided coming to this point; the noble Lord has given no explanation upon it; but I hope, however indifferent the House may be on other subjects it will not be content to vote £2,000,000 without some explanation of so extraordinary a proceeding. The noble Lord, in his speech the other night, made some startling if not alarming statements. He told us that the horizon was clouded and betokened the possibility of a coming tempest, and he pointed distinctly to our neighbours across the Channel. I ask the noble Lord, if the danger is so imminent, if the horizon is so clouded, if there is a storm approaching, why is he satisfied with a Vote of £2,000,000 on account for our defences? Why does not the noble Lord at once complete the defences which he thinks abso- 553 lutely necessary for the security of the country? He proposes to do no such thing. He merely asks for £2,000,000 on account to commence various works in different parts of the country, some of which may be necessary, but the alleged necessity of the whole of which ought to be made a subject of inquiry by the House. I had always supposed, previous to the speech of the noble Lord, that we were on friendly, if not cordial, terms with France. At the commencement of the Session I gave my humble support to a Commercial Treaty with France, under the idea that I was promoting good and substantial relations with that country. The noble Lord has told us that we should not speak of that treaty with levity; lint his actions are inconsistent with his words, for the Resolution before us is the oddest sequel imaginable to a Commercial Treaty. After taking off all the duties on French manufactures, we are asked to vote nominally £9,000,000, though I believe it will ultimately be nearer £20.000, for the construction of defences to keep out our friends and customers. Why, Sir, if this was not an expensive amusement, it would be the most ludicrous proceeding ever proposed to a deliberative assembly. The noble Lord alluded in his speech to the great army and navy of France. I deny that the army of France at this moment is large in proportion to the situation of that country as a military Fewer. Look at the large armies of Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Moreover, it must be well known to the noble Lord, who possesses peculiar information, that the French have reduced their army since the Italian campaign. It is also well known that the navy of France was fixed by a Commission in 1855. If the French are spending money on their navy, it is only natural that they should reconstruct their fleet under the change which steam has introduced; hut I deny that the present state of the army and navy of France forms any excuse for the speech of the noble Lord. The same accusations which we make against France are brought against us by the French. I hold in my hand a French pamphlet, published by authority. "France," it says, "desires to be strong, because influence in the world can only be obtained at that price." Is not that the very statement made to-night by the Secretary for War—that we desire to be strong because we wish to have influence in the world? "For three years," it continues— 554She has not added in any manner to her ordinary resources. Can England say as much? For three years England has increased her war budget by 80,000, OOOf. or 25 per cent. She has increased her army by 75,000 men, or 30 per cent. During the same space of time she has augmented her budget for the navy by 115,000,OOOf. or 35 per cent, her naval effective by 30,000 men, or 30 per cent; she has doubled her fleet, and by the end of the present year she will have tripled it. Have not the nations of Europe the right to feel disquietude at such armaments.I read this to show that the same arguments are used in Franco against us as the noble Lord at the head of the Government brings against France. In speaking on this question I feel myself in a peculiar position; because I do not entirely agree with the Amendment which has been moved, and I do not entirely agree with, though I respect, the views of the bon. Member for Birmingham. I do not object to making the seaboard strong, securing the seaboard of the dockyards and the arsenals, or making an additional dockyard at Cork, because that was proposed at the time of the Union, and I think the improvement of that harbour would be most useful for Imperial purposes. The Secretary for War has talked of the French landing troops in Ireland; but I do not find in the Report of the Commission any plan for defending Ireland, and the other night Ireland was refused Volunteers. Are the people of Ireland to be left totally undefended, and is all the money for fortifications, with the exception of £120,000 for Cork, to he spent upon works in this country? I do not, however, object to these seaboard defences, nor do I object to the removal of our arsenal from Woolwich; but when the Commissioners report about Cannock Chase, I would ask hon. Gentlemen not to be in too great a hurry to sink their money there. There are situations much better adapted for the purpose than Cannock Chase. I repeat I do not object to the seaboard defences, if judiciously planned and well executed; but I do object to this proposed enormous outlay on land fortifications. The proposition to erect these large "fortifications—such, for instance, as those at Portsdown—making places small Gibraltars, though I doubt whether they will in practice be found to be so, is what I think objectionable. There is a great difference of opinion as to the efficiency of these works. The Secretary for War stated that when, generations hence, people observed that the country had not been invaded, it might be answered that the reason was because these enor- 555 mous land fortresses had been raised; but when the right hon. Gentleman talks of new fortifications, let me tell him that this is the oldest system in the world, which in the wars of the French Republic was found to be useless. The noble Lord at the head of the Government told us to observe what foreign nations did in the way of fortifications, particularly France and Russia. Now, I hope that if this House takes any account of what is done on this subject in France, it will be to avoid and not to imitate. What is the case with respect to the fortifications round Paris, for which the French Chambers voted so much money? They are perfectly useless for the purpose for which they were constructed—nominally for the defence of the country, but really for the coercion of the people. With respect to Cherbourg, I find engineering officers saying that the money spent upon it was thrown away, and that it was not impregnable with the new system of artillery. In the last volume of Thiers' Le consulat et Empire it is suggested that the reason why the great Emperor lost Paris was that all his land forces were locked up in Belgian and Rhenish fortresses, and while he was trying to get his forces into the field the Allies marched upon Paris. Let that be a comment on the argument of the Secretary for War. I will now refer to the constitution of the Commission. I want to know why an officer, probably the ablest engineer in Europe, and at the head of the Engineering Department. having the confidence not only of the Government but of the people of this country, was not first consulted with respect of the constitution of this Commission, There is but one engineer officer who has seen any service on the Commission,—Sir Harry Jones. There are other men on the Commission, respectable and able, no doubt, some of whom have seen service in the navy; but they are not the men who represent the opinions of the Engineer service at large. But why was not Sir John Burgoyne placed on the Commission? He commanded the Engineers at the siege of St. Sebastian, and at Sebastopol he put his finger on the vital point in the Russian lines. His evidence was never quoted by the Secretary for War. I gay, too, that you have had no sufficient examination of Artillery officers. Why was not Sir Howard Douglas, whoso book is a manual in all nations on the service of artillery, examined before the Commission? His is, probably, the first Artillery opinion in the 556 world. No Artillery officer was examined on the most vital of all points—the range of these new guns. Sir William Armstrong, the only person examined on the point, says that 8,000 yards is the whole range ho can allow; but I am told there are great disputes as to the range of the guns. I will not enter upon the sad want of self-reliance exhibited by the Commissioner in calling Lord Overstone to state his opinion as to what would be the feeling in the London money market if the French should come to London. That is most ridiculous, and entirely destroyed any confidence I might have felt in the Report of the Commissioners. I object to the Report of the Commissioners on two grounds,—first, because I think the plan of defence vague, fragmentary, and incomplete; and, next, because I think the estimate of expense is utterly loose and very inaccurate. Major-General Williams, who has seen a great deal of service, wrote a letter to the Secretary for War; and what is his opinion of the plan of the Commissioners? He wrote as follows:—With great regret I differ widely from the Commissioners in their appreciation of the proposed fortifications round our dockyards, &c. It is readily granted whatever additional works may be requisite to defend approaches to our seaports by sea should be constructed forthwith; but the enormous expenditure proposed for their defence by land may be safely excluded from consideration, and a portion of the money to be swallowed up in their unprofitable fortification devoted to more important and pressing wants. I emphatically declare this is not a country for fortresses; we want, not brick and mortar, but brain and muscle. The issue is of too great magnitude to be decided by any seven gentlemen, however eminent.So I say. This issue is by far too important and too momentous to be decided by seven gentlemen, whose idea of the sack of London is so limited that they are obliged to call in Lord Overstone to assist their conception. I have quoted the opinion of a distinguished officer of Engineers, who has served all over the world. My hon. Friend (Mr. Bright) has alluded very casually to the pamphlet of Captain Brialmont, whoso Life of the Duke of Wellington is, I think, a model of good history. Now, M. Brialmont is, probably, one of the ablest men in any foreign army. He holds a high position on the staff of the Belgian army, and I believe is very much consulted now upon the fortification of Antwerp. He has written a criticism on the Report which we are now discussing, and it is written in 557 a most friendly spirit towards this country, because he says the independence and the security of England are too precious a pledge for all free States to be neglected. But ho objects altogether to the plan of the Commissioners. It is drawn up, he Bays, in violation of one of the first principles of military tactics,—"Never rely for security on your first line of defence." He accordingly assumes, as the basis of his recommendations, that we have lost the command of the Channel, and have ceased for all military purposes to be an island. Captain Brialmont says, first of all, that we shall never get soldiers to man the fortifications without the conscription. I am quite of his opinion. I believe that if we enter upon the construction of these land defences, we shall come in time to the conscription, and I shall not be much surprised in the course of a few more Sessions to find the noble Lord and the right lion. Gentleman demanding the conscription as essential to the national security. Captain Brialmont then says you must have a strategical pivot ten miles from London, an intrenched camp at Croydon, three great military bridges across the Thames, at Kingston, Tilbury Fort, and Woolwich, and a fort at Guildford. This plan, I know, has been submitted to great military authorities, and I say if you really want a great scheme of land defence take M. Brialmont's plan, and do not throw money away on those masonry works, which, by the time you are called on for the fourth instalment, you will find have been superseded by new inventions, so that you will have buried your money in fortifications of no use except to impoverish the taxpayers of this country. I come now to perhaps the highest evidence of all, and I am surprised that in the teeth of it the Government should come down and ask for £9,000,000 of money. Do I say £9,000,000? I believe that sum will be but a feather in the scale, and that if you once begin this system of land fortifications at least £10,000.000 more will be required to make it effective. What did Sir John Burgoyne say on this subject? When examined before the Commission, he was asked his opinion as to the fortifications of Portsmouth and Portsdown Hill. Hon. Members will recollect that this is germane to the subject, because five forts are now projected instead of eight, which were to have been built on Portsdown Hill. Sir John's reply is:—My difficulty about occupying Portsdown Hill 558 is the vast extent of the place; I cannot see what chance you would ever have of finding a garrison equal to covering such an extent of defences.…It must be defended by an army."
Then he is asked whether he recommends the construction of these forts; and here is the opinion of the first military engineer of the day, our Inspector General of Fortifications, on the point:—"I do not," he says, "recommend that the forts at Ports-down Hill should be built at present." And yet the noble Lord and the War Secretary declare these forts to be absolutely necessary! I know the House is bent on building them too; but at any rate I will offer my humble protest. I am convinced that the time will come when they will regret it, and that an attentive reading of the evidence would lead them to the conclusion that these Land Fortifications are questionable at best. A word now on the subject of our dockyards. I object very much to making our dockyards also naval arsenals. I cannot understand why a great many of our stores, such as timber, iron, and other things, might not be moved to more defencible I positions, for it is well known that our dockyards were not selected as places of defence, but as ports. It is proposed to lay out £100,000 this year on the defences of Sheerness; but it is well known that Sheerness is one of the worst possible situations for a dockyard. Captain Sullivan, a highly distinguished surveying officer, who was examined before the Committee, says:—It would be hardly worth the number of forts which would have to be built to make Sheerness secure; it was a most shameful thing ever placing the dockyard where it is; it is well known it was put there for a political job, to sell the land of a man there.I find, in fact, that the construction of the dockyard there took place in this way:—There was a borough called Queen borough, which returned two Members to Parliament, and the patron of the place—we will not mention his name, but he was probably a millionnaire—insisted that the dockyard should be established at Sheerness. It is notorious that the yard is on the wrong side of the river. Now, why should £100,000 be applied to the defence of such a place?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
That sum is not applicable to the defences of Sheerness, but to the defences at the mouth of the Medway. Sheerness was reported by the Commission to be so difficult of defence that it is not to he fortified at all.
§ MR. OSBORNE
The right lion. Gentleman confesses that the money would be thrown away, and why not take this £100,000 and devote it towards placing the dockyard on its proper site in the Isle of Grain? For these reasons I cannot support any Vote for the erection of fortifications on Portsdown Hill or of any of those land defences. I repeat also that I object to the Estimate before the Committee as loose and inaccurate. When you have got these fortifications you will have no men to garrison them. The Estimate of the Commissioners is that the new works will require 68,000 men. But that is quite beneath the mark. Sir John Burgoyne says it will take not less than 20,000 men for Portsmouth and Portsdown Hill alone. I believe 100,000 men will be required to garrison these places, if built. "Oh, but," says the right hon. Gentleman "we will do this with Volunteers." Now, I have a high opinion of Volunteers, but, with our improved artillery, especially with the Armstrong gun, which is so delicate a weapon, you will require trained gunners. We have heard something from the Secretary of War about the economy of fortifications; he said bricks and mortar were cheaper than human blood. That may be so in one sense; but my argument is that bricks and mortar also entail a great cost of human blood in the sense that they entail a great increase of men—increased garrisons. Here is the opinion of M. Brialmont upon this point:—For this to be correct it would be necessary that an army should have no other object but to defend the arsenals, which is inadmissible. The more the importance of fortifications is increased, the more soldiers will be required to guard them; therefore by the plans of the Commissioners, the effective army, already insufficient, would be still further diminished.We are asked to spend £2,000,000 as an instalment, but not a word has been said by the noble Lord, or the Secretary for War, about the cost of increased garrisons that will be necessary. What does Sir John Burgoyne say to permanent works? He says.—My objection to establishing permanent works at great expense is that, after you have built them, you will be forced to abandon them for want of troops.I say the House is not justified in coming to an immediate conclusion and to vote all this money when you have Estimates so inaccurate before you. I have heard a 560 novel doctrine broached here from the Treasury Bench—that you can no longer trust to your navy. I have heard the epithet of un-English applied to many things, but this seems to me to be above all un-English. If steam and railways facilitate attack they also facilitate defence. I should have been glad if the right hon. Gentleman had pointed out some plan by which railways could be made to converge to the same point for the purposes of defence, instead of laying out money on fortifications all round the coast. But what is the evidence given before the Commission as to our naval defences? Here are three Admirals. Sir Richard Dundas, who conducted the bombordment of Sweaborg, and who is a most distinguished officer, says:—I can scarcely imagine any mode of fortification by which approaches to Spithead by the eastern entrance could be secured against attack in the absence of naval means of defence.The hon. Member for Chatham (Sir F. Smith) can tell us what was the opinion of Sir Baldwin Walker, when examined before the Gunboat Committee. He said that you could make Spithead untenable by an enemy with 200 gunboats. Admiral Bowles says:—In my opinion, so long as the present force of gunboats is kept efficient at Portsmouth it would be perfectly possible, under protection of the batteries, to render Spithead wholly untenable by an enemy; while increasing range and power of artillery will afford us advantages far beyond any we have hitherts possessed.Sir Thomas Maitland, at the head of the gunnery at Portsmouth, says:—A point which requires serious consideration is whether this large sum might not be more profitably laid out in building ships, if you can insure being masters of the Channel. I see no necessity, as far as security goes, for fortifying Spit-head. I would first put the navy in such a position as to secure the command of the Channel.Is the House, in the face of such evidence, justified in coming to a vote for the erection of these extensive fortifications on Portsdown Hill? I do not think the House would be justified in expending all the money that is asked for by the noble Lord. Some reference has been made by the hon. Member for Birmingham to the celebrated letter of the Duke of Wellington in 1847. I do not go with him in underrating the opinions of the Duke. I believe that letter was quite correct at the time, and the Duke was justified in writing it. But what did he recommend? Was it to erect fortifica- 561 tions at Portsmouth? No; he recommended that you should embody 150,000 Militia, and he asked for £400,000 for an increase to the regular army. But now the noble Lord says the country is in immediate danger; but how can you reconcile that with the proceedings of the Secretary for War? He has weakened the defences of the country by disembodying since the 1st of January 23 regiments of Militia, and five more are on the eve of disembodiment. And yet the Government say the country is not in a state of security. A more inconsistent statement was never made by Prime Minister or Secretary for War. When the Duke of Wellington wrote his letter he asked for no fortifications; but what was then the state of the country and one means of defence? In 1847 we had no Militia, no batteries, no Volunteers. What is the state of the country in 1860? Even although 28 regiments of Militia have been disembodied, we have some Militia, we have a magnificent body of Volunteers. and we have altogether 323,259 men available for defence. The noble Lord told us about a solitary gun that was kept at Sheerness to fire salutes; but I find that the number of guns in coast batteries is 1,362, and including the dockyards there are 3,000 mounted, which number before the year expires will be increased to 4,000. But then there is another consideration. Can you find men for all those guns? These are very loose estimates. They calculate £200 a gun; but they omit all account of the cost of ammunition, which is immense. I say, upon these high authorities, that the plan is bad and the estimate is inaccurate. What was the state of the army and navy when the Duke of Wellington wrote his famous letter? Really, security is becoming so expensive here that we shall have to consider whether we ought not to go elsewhere for safety. In 1847 the Army and Navy Estimates amounted to £11,213,190, and in 1860 they are £24,793,746, an increase of no less than £13,580,556, without including the Vote for the China expedition. If after that enormous outlay the country is not safe, I really think there must be something very "rotten in the state of Denmark." I was very sorry to hear the speech of the noble Lord the other night. I think it was not a peaceful speech. I think it inaugurated a policy of suspicion, which can never be a preservative of peace. Without being a parasite of the Emperor of the French, I must say-that I think the Emperor's letter is a suffi- 562 cient answer to that speech. I believe the assurances of the Emperor. I know it is the fashion to treat the Emperor as a man devoid of common honesty; but I believe him; and why? Because it is not his interest to quarrel with this country We have not done justice to France. We have been content to give our barren sympathies to Italian independence; but France has given her blood and treasure for that cause. ["Oh."] It is the strong right arm of France that has built up the Italian kingdom, and we are not justified in throwing suspicion upon France. What was the conduct of France during that terrible mutiny, when our Indian Empire was trembling in the balance? She not only gave her sympathies to us, but she offered a free passage to our troops through her territories. If ever we were in danger from France, then was the time. We fought together in the Crimea; we have sent out an expedition to China together. I mention these matters as facts, without giving any opinion as to their policy; but I say we are not justified in casting aspersions and raising prejudices against France. If the Commercial Treaty is worth anything, this scheme of fortification stands in irreconcilable contrast. I am in this difficulty, that I cannot vote for the Amendment, because I think some expenditure is necessary on the seaboard defences. I cannot go so far as the lion. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay) in protesting against any expenditure whatever on fortifications, but I protest against going into so large an expenditure as is proposed on the authority of a Commission whose authority has been so seriously impugned. I cannot support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland, but, should any Amendment be moved requiring further information on the subject, I am prepared to give it my support.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
wished to give an explanation on one or two matters bearing on the constitution of the Commission. The hon. Member for Liskeard complained that Sir Howard Douglas was not on the Commission. Now, Sir Howard Douglas was the first man asked to become one of the Commissionrs, but he declined on account of his great age, which would prevent him from examining the different localities, but he promised to examine the Report and the recommendations, and he had done so after reading the evidence much more carefully than the hon. Member appeared to have done. It was chiefly on 563 his advice that the Government now acted in making the propositions they now made. [Mr. OSBORNE: Where is it?] He was sure his lion. Friend did not mean to doubt the accuracy of the statement he had now made. It was by the advice of Sir Howard Douglas among others that the Government had selected the sea defences, and diminished the amount of land defences recommended by the Report of the Commission. Then, as to Sir John Burgoyne not being on the Commission, that was accounted for by his official connection with the Government. If Sir John Burgoyne had been on the Commission, the probability was that his hon. Friend would have taunted the Government with acting upon the opinion of their own men. He (Mr. Sidney Herbert) preferred to have the independent opinion of Sir John Burgoyne, sitting at his right hand, and giving the benefit of his advice rather than putting him on the Commission. If the hon. Gentleman had read the evidence carefully he would have seen that, though Sir John Burgoyne did not approve of the recommendation of the Commissioners as to the fortifying of Portsdown Hill, yet, in the Appendix, there was a letter from that gallant officer in favour of the construction of the detatched forts which the Government proposed to erect. With regard to the question raised as to Sheer-ness, he had already stated that Sheer-ness was not to be fortified; and, he must say, that to remove the dockyard from Sheerness to the Isle of Grain would be altogether indefensible. His hon. Friend quoted the opinion of Sir Thomas Maitland and Admiral Bowles in favour of gunboats as an efficient protection to Portsmouth. No doubt; but we required gunboats for other places than Portsmouth. The gunboats were required to protect a very wide range, as all the vessels of our navy were. We required our navy not only at home but in the Colonies. Our fleet was, in fact, scattered everywhere, and that was one of the reasons why additional fortifications were called for.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
denied that he would have complained if Sir John Burgoyne had been on the Commission. In point of fact the official element was present in the person of Colonel Lefroy.
§ MR. HORSMAN
The hon. Member for Liskeard and the hon. Member for Birmingham have, in their remarks on the Resolution of the Government, carefully avoided the question before us,—whether 564 the arsenals of the country are in that state of perfect security in which they ought to be, and, if they are not, whether they ought not to ho placed in a state of security by an expenditure such as that now proposed. The first question to be asked is, whether the country is in a state of security; and if it can be shown that it is not, then we have to consider how that security is to be attained, looking upon the question of cost as a very subordinate consideration. The expenditure is only to be limited by the necessity that is shown to exist. The Commission originated last year in a suggestion made by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans). The Secretary for War promised that the members of it should be carefully selected; and as to the complaint that Sir John Burgoyne was not placed on the Commission, I may state that it was one of the suggestions pressed on the Secretary of State in that debate—that the official element should be excluded, so that its decisions should not be open to the charge of partiality. I am bound to say that the Secretary for War faithfully and honourably fulfilled the pledge he then gave, and I believe that no Commission was ever more carefully selected, or reflected more credit on the Government by which it was appointed. It has been attempted to be shown to-night that the Commission has made recommendations of a loose and vague character; but the fact is lost sight of that they had to limit their Report to one point, namely, the defence of our arsenals and dockyards. I am disposed to rest the further proceedings of Parliament on the speech of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), and I think that speech was of the greater importance, because, from the very circumstance to which exception has been taken to-night, we must remember that the noble Lord cannot be accused of unfriendliness to the Government of Franco or of being readily alarmed with regard to the defence of England. Yet the noble Lord came down to the House with the Report of the Commission, and made it an occasion for expressing in the House his feelings and opinions as to the situation of the country. It was a military question, but it was not left in the hands of the Secretary for War. It was partly a financial question, but it was not left with the Minister of Finance. The First Minister of the Crown came down himself to the House, and made it a European question. He showed the condition of our 565 defences, and the dangers to which we are exposed. He pointed out the evils that must accrue to us from a hostile force landing on our coast; and described to us the calamities that must ensue from Bristol or Liverpool being attacked, or from an enemy marching upon London, That speech was one of the most serious and alarming we ever heard delivered by a Minister of the Crown in the time of peace. Contrasts have been raised between the speech of the noble Lord now and the opinions he expressed last year. I regard with great satisfaction that contrast. I am glad to hear what I believe to be the language of truth substituted for what last year appeared to be the language of conventional complacency and courtesy. I believe that the speech of the noble Lord this year shows his deep sense of the responsibility under which he feels himself to lie. The noble Lord, laying aside official reserve, told us that there was no use in disguising the fact that the Power against which he asked the House to take precautions was our nearest neighbour, Prance; and, most important of all, he gave the House to understand that the Government had received information, remonstrances, and warnings, which threw an amount of responsibility upon any Ministers that neglected them, to which the present were not willing to expose themselves. I ask the House whether the noble Lord, with all his inducements to reserve, and with all the means of information at his command, would have made such a statement except under a sense of imperious necessity? Such a declaration, then, throws upon us a still greater responsibility if we refuse to adopt the Resolution. I, for one, only regret it does not go further. I think throe years ought to be the utmost limit, and that if the necessity is urgent, the move speedily the works are finished the better. I do not think any Commission could be more carefully nominated. I cannot help thinking that the opinions of naval and military men have been treated with too little respect on this occasion. If a naval or military man differs from the hon. Member for Birmingham he is said to he. a lunatic. The Commissioners Report is said to be twaddle. A Secretary of State is accused of hypocrisy by the lion. Member, and the noble Lord and his Cabinet are taunted with cowardice. Public feeling is in favour of this vote, and thereupon the public are said to be struck with insanity. This is an easy way of disposing of the 566 opinions of those who differ from the hon. Gentleman; I would, however, beg to remind him that impartiality does not exist exclusively among those who have no means of information beyond that which is open to all the Members of this House. But I do not think the defence of our coasts ought alone to engross the attention of the Cabinet. Nothing so much surprises foreigners and those who reside in our colonial possessions as the careless, indifferent, and reckless way in which we exist as to our security from notorious external dangers. We seem to forget that there are great moral as well as material considerations involved in our security. We talk of the safety of England, hut they ask whether the safety of England has a mere local significance? They say that the safety of England in the estimation of every reflecting person in Europe, is the preservation of all that is valuable to the peace and progress of mankind. They know that the commerce of England covers every sea, any that the security of England means the security of the only moderating and tranquillizing Power that exists in Europe. They know that if England should vanish out of existence the whole of the Continent of Europe would probably pass under the dominion of despotism. If England fell, how long would the nationality of Belgium endure? How long would the independence of Germany remain? How long would Italian unity be anything but a dream? No; the moral influence of England abroad is irresistible in exact proportion to her impregnability at home. Our greatness does not consist merely in our wealth, our commerce, our institutions, or our military renown, but in those tributary elements that constitute a gigantic moral force, of which freedom is the animating principle and peace the holy mission. There is not a friend to freedom of thought who does not turn to England as its supporter. There is not a friend to peace who does not bless England for the power she wields and the example she sets. Every man who is the friend of his species, looks upon England as the great depository of political truth, her safety as their pride, and the peril of England as their despair. With such considerations while I value the safety of England as regards the security of our coasts. I value it also for the responsibilities and duties imposed upon us in our relations to humanity at large; and the latter consideration is of such paramount importance that it should not be overlooked in a dis- 567 cussion such a3 that in which we are now engaged.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
said, that Sir Howard Douglas had informed him that he gave his general adhesion to the Report of the Commissioners, and to the scheme which had been submitted by the Government to the House; and he (Sir Frederic Smith) felt very unwilling to criticise any portion of a proposal which was supported by so eminent an authority. He had to add that, as far as the defence of our seaboard was concerned, he was himself a decided supporter of that proposal. But, before he proceeded to discuss its details, be should be glad to know whether his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War meant to carry into effect so much only of the scheme as could be completed for a sum of £5,000,000, or whether what the Government now asked for was part of a larger sum of £10,000,000 or £12,000,000?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, that the estimated cost of the whole of the works to which the Government had asked the House to give its assent during the present Session was only £5,000,000. It would be for the House, on a future occasion, to decide whether they would embark in any undertaking which would require a farther outlay. This year it is pledged to nothing except the works which are included in the return which has been laid before the House.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
In point of fact, the House is to understand that it is the intention of the Government to carry out in their entirety the recommendations of the Commission.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
I have stated that at several points to the landward the Government propose to execute a less amount of works than are proposed by the Commissioners. The House is now only asked to pledge itself to the particular works mentioned in the return, which will cost £5,000,000.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
was quite satisfied with the explanation. His right hon. Friend had shown great judgment in omitting some of the works, and the adoption of that course had removed many of the objections which he had entertained to the scheme. He was, however, prepared to show that our military force was not large enough to man the works originally proposed by the Commissioners, and give us an army in the field, which was of more importance than they were. If an enemy came to this country it would be to insult 568 us by marching on and occupying the capital, and, if possible, to subjugate us. The Duke of Wellington expected that invaders would come by the narrow Channel, and in his celebrated letter to Sir George Murray be recommended that works should be constructed at Brighton and on that part of the coast; adding that we must have an army in the field, as it would be there and not in the fortifications that the battle must be fought. He should be the last man in the House to recommend that we should not defend our seaboard, and he hoped that the works for that purpose would be commenced immediately and prosecuted without a day's delay; but be hoped that there would be no expenditure upon Portsdown Hill, the lines on which would be seven miles in extent, longer, indeed, than those of Sebastopol. The whole circuit of the defences of Portsmouth, including those proposed at Portsdown Hill and in front of Gosport, would be almost equal in extent to the lines of Torres Vedras. If there was an army of 20,000 men allotted to defend the Portsmouth District, 5,000 would be required for the Isle of Wight; Sir John Burgoyne said that 12,000 men would be required for Portsdown Hill, and there would, therefore, be only 3,000 men left for Gosport lines and Portsmouth. The lines on Portsdown Hill would be not only useless but mischievous; because, if we could not defend them and were driven from them, they would form a strong position for the enemy. He did not see bow an enemy was to attack the land side of Portsmouth. The works which his right hon. Friend proposed to erect would shut him out from Southsea, round to Langston harbour, and round to the Gosport side, from the Needles, and from St. Helen's, He must either land to the eastward of Langston harbour, or to the westward of Southampton, in Christchurch Bay. An army landing at either of these places, however, would have to make a long march with its flank so exposed that with a hostile force in the field it would not at-tempt it. He was also informed, upon high authority, that even if the lines on Ports-down Hill were erected points could he found under cover from which the dockyard could be bombarded. You ought to have a force of 100,000 men in the field for the defence of the country and the Metropolis, and if a hostile army attempted to besiege Portsmouth or occupy Portsdown Hill its rear would be exposed and it would be annihilated. An invading army would have 569 to bring with it artillery, ammunition, and all its provisions, and under such circumstances it could not make the march from Christchurch Bay, without being exposed to serious loss, if not complete defeat. In the year 1803 the country was well mapped out. The Horse Guards knew every stack, every hedge, every pond, and anything which could support either a horse or a man. There was not a line from the coast to the Metropolis that was not mapped, and an arrangement made for its defence. No doubt, his right hon. Friend had done, or would do, the same tiling, and if unfortunately we should be invaded it would only be necessary to send officers to particular spots with orders what to do, and the enemy would find very difficult to march to London. The idea of defending London by fortifications was perfectly absurd, and he was very glad that the Government had entertained no project of that kind. He took it for granted that the Commissioners had carried out their instructions, and he therefore hoped that his right hon. Friend had received from them a confidential Report showing how London was to be protected, and where battles were to be fought. Under all circumstances, the line of march upon London must be within a very narrow space, and, with 100,000 men in the field, our Yeomanry and our Volunteers, who would be most valuable auxiliaries to the redcoats, we ought to be able to arrest the progress of the enemy. But we must keep our army in the field of strength sufficient to meet them at any one of three or four points which they might attack. We could not obtain artillerymen to man the works which were recommended, because it was idle to say that a gunner could be made in a month. He could not conceive how the Commissioners, who were men of experience, could have accepted such a fiction. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) stated that the Government had not put upon the Commission any men who held official positions. In this he was in error. There were on the Commission the Governor of Sandhurst, the Governor of Addiscombe, the officer of Artillery from the War Office, and an Admiral from the Channel fleet. The only unofficial person was Mr. Ferguson, who was a very proper person to be on the Commission. He did not object to the individuals, but he thought that men of higher position and greater experience might have been selected. Lord Seaton might have been appointed upon the Com- 570 mission, and it would also in his opinion have been a great advantage if his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War, who possessed more knowledge of the army than any other civilian whom he had ever met, had been a member of it. He thought that the Portsdown Hill works should be omitted from the Estimates, and that no fortifications near London should be attempted; the left bank of the Medway should not be left entirely out of consideration, but that part of the project of the Commissioners required careful revision. He quite approved of the works proposed to be erected on the East of Chatham, which indeed were suggested to him some years ago by his lamented Friend Sir William Peel.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I am not going to repeat what I stated the other evening; but I hope the House will allow me to make some few remarks upon what has been said by hon. Members in the course of this debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol (Mr. H. Berkeley) was exceedingly eloquent in denouncing what he called the un-English notion of fortifications. But if I recollect rightly, when we have objected to the Ballot, which he has so frequently advocated, as un-English, my hon. Friend remarks upon the low ground we have taken in the argument. But I beg leave to remind him that there is nothing so English as the notion of fortifications. In times when hostilities were carried on between different parties and families the whole country was studded with fortresses. There was no country residence which was not. fortified against attack. I suppose my hon. Friend has heard of Berkeley Castle? I never had the pleasure of seeing it, but, if I am not misinformed, it was a place of strength in times past. In fact, England, Ireland, and Scotland are full of places which, when internal disturbances prevailed, were fortified against attack. In consequence of the progress of society those places are now nothing but the residences of great nobles. Our danger is not now within; it is without; and therefore the same system of fortification which was applied to residences within the realm is now to be applied to places of importance to secure them against attack from abroad. That the principle of fortification is engraven on the mind of every Englishman was proved by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White) who told us that if he had intended to take part in the debate 571 he would have "fortified" himself with better arguments than those which he advanced this evening. The hon. Member, moreover, seems to have some other notions which are rather remarkable; because I think he intimated that it would be a better arrangement if our dockyards could be placed in a more inland situation.
The first joke was a rather good one, because it happened to be founded on fact, but the second has no foundation whatever.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon; perhaps he only meant what was afterwards repeated by the hon. Member for Liskeard, that our stores of naval timber should be removed further inland—a suggestion, by-the-by, which would not tend to expedite the construction of our ships. The arguments of the hon. Member will not, however, have much sway in the decision of the House on this question. The hon. Member for Birmingham was exceedingly eloquent in supporting the Amendment; but, as far as I could collect his argument from his speech, he rather dwelt upon a variety of schemes which we have not adopted than endeavoured to show that the plan which we have adopted is undeserving the attention of the House. He enumerated a great number of schemes which he denounced as absurd and totally unfit for adoption. I concur in the criticisms he made upon those plans; but they have nothing to do with the proposal of the Government, which is entirely different from the schemes he denounced as absurd, less expensive, and much better adapted for the object in view. The hon. Member likewise denounced as insane all those who differ from him in opinion upon this question—the Government, the House, and the public. He reminds me a little of the man who said a difference of opinion had arisen between him and the rest of the world; he thought the rest of the world were all mad; they voted him mad, and having a majority against him, they shut him up in a madhouse. The hon. Member in like manner thinks everybody wrong except himself; he thinks the whole nation has gone wild in insanity; but I trust the majority will be as great against him as it was against the unfortunate individual who was put into a madhouse. It has been paid that it is vain to attempt to fortify, and the hon. Member for Brighton charged me with having misled the House with respect to the character of certain 572 works on the Continent. He referred in a particular manner—or if he did not somebody else did—to the fortifications of Paris. I beg to say that those fortifications of Paris are not deserving the condemnation which has been frequently pronounced upon them; because I imagine, if they had existed in 1814 and 1815, Paris would not have been occupied so easily by a foreign force. It is true that the Emperor Napoleon was deprived of the co-operation of a large body of troops which had been left behind in distant positions; but that was the very reason why he would have been placed in a much better position if Paris had been fortified as it is now. There was a National Guard of 80,000 men belonging to Paris, and that National Guard, joined to the troops which he had with him, would have enabled him to make a stand in the capital until the rest of the army had come up to his assistance. The hon. Member for Brighton also said there was no advantage in the fortifications of Ulm, Coblentz, Posen, and Warsaw, because all those places were successively occupied by French troops twenty or thirty years before the fortifications were made. Again, the hon. Member for Liskeard has inveighed strongly and justly against the attempt to defend London and the whole line of the coasts by fortifications. But I beg leave to remind him that our proposal is not to line the coast with fortifications to prevent a landing, or to encircle London with detached forts. Our object is to protect certain points of great importance which are the cradle of our navy, and without which we should lose our maritime power—a power which everybody who has spoken to-night admits it is essential we should maintain. But the hon. and gallant Admiral the Member for Southwark (Sir Charles Napier), with the partiality of a sailor, says, "Double or triple your fleet, and I will undertake no enemy shall land." I am not surprised that the hon. and gallant Member should speak lightly of fortifications, because he has a way of his own of dealing with them. I remember hearing an anecdote of him, which he will, perhaps, allow me to mention. It redounds to his credit, and I have, therefore, no hesitation in relating it. A military friend of mine, unfortunately now no more, once told me that he met the hon. and gallant Admiral on the northern frontier of Portugal, mounted on a mule, and followed by a marine with a musket on each shoulder. The hon. and 573 gallant Admiral, my friend said, looked more like Robinson Crusoe than anything else. He stopped my friend, and said, "You are a soldier, tell me how you take a fortress." My friend began to explain how approaches and zigzags were made, and all that sort of thing; but the gallant Admiral interrupted him, and exclaimed, "That won't do for me; it would require too much time; I am going to take Valencia, and I mean to take it with a letter." He did take it with a letter, for he wrote to the commanding officer that if he did not surrender at discretion he would soon compel him, and such was the fame which the gallant Admiral had acquired by his various operations, and such the terror of his name, that the Governor of Valencia at once agreed to surrender. I am not surprised, therefore, that the hon. and gallant Member should undervalue the strength of fortifications; but, nevertheless, I think the history of war shows that they do enable an inferior force to hold out for a certain time against a superior force; and time in war is a great deal, sometimes everything. We want to protect our dockyards and certain other important points from being taken by a coup de main. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke last approves generally the outline and most of the details of our plan. The principal point to which he objects is the proposed works at Portsdown Hill. That is a matter, no doubt, upon which there may fairly be a difference of opinion; but it is an unquestionable fact that with the improved artillery, an enemy posted on Ports-down Hill could effectually bombard the dockyard of Portsmouth. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, however, says the enemy could not get there; but I am very much disposed to dispute the soundness of that opinion, because although it may be a long way from Christchurch, it is not from Chichester, and an enemy landing on that part of the coast a little to the eastward of Portsmouth would be enabled after a short march to secure possession of Ports-down Hill, and obtain the command over the adjacent dockyard. It is further contended that the construction of the proposed works would involve an immense addition to our regular army. Sow, I maintain that such would not be the case in time of peace; but that, upon the contrary, a saving of the public money would, if our proposal were carried into operation, be effected. These works would, for instance, afford barrack accommodation for 574 our troops, an object for which we must; otherwise provide at a considerable cost; while if, upon the other hand, we unfortunately should happen to be engaged in war, we should naturally be obliged greatly to increase the number of men under arms, to add to the regular troops, and to call out the Militia; so that, under those circumstances, the necessarily augmented amount of your military force would furnish you with the means of manning your fortifications, as well as of keeping up the requisite number of men in the field. The gallant Officer to whom I have already alluded, however, contends that we cannot make gunners in a month; and I am aware that gentlemen belonging to the military profession are, generally speaking, of opinion that it takes a long time to form a soldier. We have, nevertheless, seen the contrary unmistakably proved by the progress made by the Militia and Volunteers; and as it is with those services so it is also with the Artillery; for I know from my own experience that some regiments of Militia Artillery have even during the brief period of twenty-eight days, during which they have been called out for training, acquired considerable skill and handiness in the use of the guns. I am now referring to the Devonshire Artillery, whoso practice was said to be equal to that of the Royal Army. I may add, that no person knows better than the hon. and gallant Officer, when he talks of the number of artillerymen which would be required to man the proposed works, that one or two skilful gunners are sufficient to serve each gun—it being, of course, desirable that there should be a second to take the place of his comrade in the event of any casualty which may arise—and that the others whose services would be needed would be only those who are commonly termed "handspike men." The number of gunners necessary for the service of these guns must not be calculated by the number of men required for the service of each gun. I repeat, then, that in time of peace it would not be necessary to make any addition to your regular army as the result of the erection of these works; while in time of war you might man them by placing behind them troops competent to their defence, although perhaps less perfect in their training than your picked soldiers. I may add that if you should not possess the works of this description necessary to defend your dockyards, you would be compelled, as is well stated 575 by the Commissioners, to keep up a larger number of men than would otherwise be required for the purpose of defending these very places which we now ask you to enable us to fortify. There is, I may further observe, a great difference between laying out money on fortifications and expending it in making an addition to the number of our troops. It has been said to us in the course of this discussion, "Increase the army and we will vote any number of men for the purpose which you may deem requisite." Like Lycurgus and the Spartans, some hon. Gentlemen want men instead of stone walls. But it should be borne in mind by those who advocate this view that if we expend a certain sum of money in any particular year in raising an additional number of men, we shall not in consequence be stronger to defend ourselves in the next or any succeeding year, unless we go on annually renewing the original outlay. If, however, we expend our money on the erection of fortifications which will enable us to dispense with a greatly increased military force, we shall be furnished with the means of protecting our shores without repeating the original expenditure so long as those works endure. In an economical point of view, therefore, the course which we propose appears to me to be that which is best entitled to the sanction and approbation of the House. Now, I have been accused of changing my opinions on this subject, and acting on the present occasion in direct opposition to the views to which I formerly gave expression. The fact is, however, that my opinions on this particular point have undergone no variation, inasmuch as for a great number of years past I have entertained a strong conviction that it was absolutely necessary to defend by means of fortifications our dockyards and the more vulnerable parts of our coasts. Indeed, as I had the honour of stating in this House on a former occasion, I have during the last ten years laboured incessantly to lay the foundation of the proposals which we now make. But it is said that in submitting such a scheme to the notice of the House it would seem as if we did not place much faith in the operation of the Commercial Treaty, and attached little value to the friendly intentions which may be manifested and expressed in our regard by the Ruler of France and the French Government. Now, let me remind the House that the Commission on whose Report our proposal is 576 based was appointed more than twelve months ago, long before the Commercial Treaty was thought of, and that it is therefore wholly unconnected with that instrument. I may further observe that, although the treaty may furnish us with a fair prospect of maintaining more intimate relations with France even than those upon which we now stand with that country, yet that circumstance affords, in our opinion, no sufficient ground why we should abandon intentions founded on long deliberation, guided by reasons which are to our minds conclusive, and on which we believe it to be our absolute duty to act. I, for one, sincerely hope and trust that pacific relations between England and France may continue for a long time uninterrupted; but I am nevertheless convinced and the conviction is one which is based on plain common sense, which is independent of naval or military knowledge, and the soundness of which must strike the most uncultivated mind—that the only way to secure the country against attack is to be strong enough to defend ourselves; for those who possess that strength are, of all people in the world, the most likely to remain at peace with those between whom and them any intercourse exists. That being so, I would claim the vote of the hon. Member for Birmingham on his own principles. He who is a lover of peace ought, I contend, to support a measure which is calculated to render the enjoyment of that blessing more permanent and secure; for he may depend upon it that if there be one thing which more than another tends to endanger the continuance of peace, it is when a wealthy nation like England—the object of a natural rivalry and jealousy in the case of other Powers—leaves herself open to attack and insult without having the means of repelling the one or avenging the other. I cannot, under these circumstances, persuade myself that the House will not consent to this Resolution by a large majority. You have only to look without these walls to see how the feeling of the country on the subject of making adequate provision for our defence has manifested itself in the great Volunteer movement. They who have thrown themselves into that movement with the approbation of their fellow-citizens expect that the House of Commons will exhibit a spirit in unison with that which they themselves have displayed; and I feel assured that no greater disappointment or mortification could be in- 577 flicted on the country—that nothing tending to bring down more universal or severe reprobation on the House itself could occur, than that you should reject the Motion which is now under your consideration, and which, if carried, would enable us to make at a very moderate expense, comparatively speaking, a very great addition to our means of defence.
§ SIR MORTON PETO,
who rose to speak amid loud cries for a division, was understood to say that he felt the Committee were not in a position to deal with this question, on the ground that they had not sufficient information before them. The Report which had been presented to the House would, on a careful perusal, show that it did not touch the question in all its bearings; and consequently the Committee would not be justified in coming to a conclusion at present. He objected to the land defences, which were recommended in the Report. If the Committee were to ask him for proofs and instances, he would point to the siege of Sebastopol The Committee would recollect that when the united armies approached that great fortress, the south side was unprotected; and he would ask whether they did not see earthworks carried out, which kept the united strength of England and France at bay for some months. He would ask the Committee to consider that if an hostile force were to land and march on London, we must necessarily adopt the same means of defending ourselves. Englishmen would show the same practical mode of defending themselves, as the Russians did at Sebastopol; and there would be plenty of time to carry out earthworks. He would ask, Whether the Government were justified in coming to the House, and asking for this Vote; which in case of danger would be obtained at any moment. ["Divide!"] They were spending £1,500,000 of money in sheathing vessels of war, and they were recasting the whole of our artillery; and if these fortifications were proceeded with, other alterations must take place. The Government were not justified in proposing this enormous expenditure without giving further time for consideration, and he felt that they had not sufficient time. ["Divide, divide!"] He would not attempt to go into other questions, because he saw the impatience of the Committee to come to a division. But he would again say that he felt the importance of the subject, and that the Government were not justified in hurrying it on. He 578 should be compelled to vote against the Motion. ["Divide, divide!"]
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Resolution."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 268; Noes 39: Majority 229.
§ MR. BRIGHT
I wish to put a question to the noble Lord at the head of she Government. On looking over the Report of the Defences Commission, I find that they really give no reasonable excuse for the expenditure of the money which is proposed to be laid out at Dovor and Portland. They say that if there were not some fortifications there already, there would be no use in erecting others; and I believe that the idea of fortifying Dovor, arises only from an old superstition. There seems to be no particular interest to protect there; and probably the noble Lord, notwithstanding a vote of the House, will take into consideration whether it may not be desirable to save the £335,000, which it is proposed to expend at this point. With regard to Portland, the Commissioners have nothing better to say. There are no establishments there, and it is not intended to create any; I cannot understand, therefore, why this £630,000 should be spent when no reason whatever is given for it. I see in the Resolution that Cannock Chase is not mentioned. In the Report of the Commission it is referred to, but no estimate is given; and it appears to me that the House ought not to determine what is to be done until they have further information. If it is intended to remove the works from the manufactory at Woolwich to Cannock Chase, that is one course. But if things are to remain as they are at Woolwich, and you are to form an entirely new establishment at Cannock Chase, that is a proposal to which the House might not be prepared to agree. Not a word has been said in this House as to what is intended to be done at Cannock Chase, or as to the amount which is to be spent. No doubt, some persons are anxious that these plans should be pressed forward, because we are told that two or three noble families are likely to have large additions made to their fortunes. ["Oh, oh!"] This statement may be unpleasant to hon. Gentlemen opposite; but it is a fact. According to the forms of the House, I am not at liberty to move the Amendment with reference to these Resolutions, which I should wish to propose respecting Dovor and Portland, whereby a saving of a million might be effected. I 579 merely make the suggestion; and, as I presume a Bill will have to be introduced in reference to this matter, perhaps the Government will further consider the subject, and try to be a little more economical than they seem hitherto to have been.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
With regard to Dovor, it is quite true that if there were no works and no harbour, it would be a question whether the more topographical position of Dovor would or would not lead you to construct defensive works there. At the same time Dovor is the nearest point to Franco, and consequently the most readily reached; and in that sense it becomes a point of strategical importance. You have had in all times, according to the mode of warfare for the time being, works of defence at Dovor; of late years you have made a harbour, intended, it is true, mainly for the mercantile navy; but having that harbour and having those works, it can hardly be a question whether you ought not to take such measures as would prevent an enemy from taking possession of it for the purpose of landing the infantry, cavalry, and artillery necessary for carrying on an invasion upon a large scale. Dovor on one side and Portsmouth on the other, with a central position at Aldershot, present a triangle which is important for the defence of London, and therefore I do not think we ought to abstain from completing the works at Dovor. With regard to Portland, the same consideration arises and we are only taking the money requisite for completing works already sanctioned. There is no intention of making any great naval establishment there; we are only taking measures to prevent that important harbour from being used to land a hostile force. In the Resolution there is no mention of Cannock Chase. The Report simply alludes to it as one of some six or seven places suggested—and my own opinion is that perhaps it would be the best—for the purposes of a central arsenal. It has long been felt that it was very inexpedient to have all our military stores collected at Woolwich, a place which it was impossible to fortify sufficiently except at an enormous expense, but which, if taken, would deprive our army of the means of carrying on operations. It has, consequently, long been thought a matter of great importance to have somewhere, in a central position, a collection of stores which, even if Woolwich were taken, would afford a sufficient supply to the army. The Resolution sim- 580 ply affirms that it is expedient that there should be a central arsenal.
§ MR. BRIGHT
The noble Lord has not exactly answered the question I put to him. Within the last two or three years an enormous increase of the establishment at Woolwich has taken place; vast sums have been expended, the number of persons employed has been largely added to, and the stores kept have greatly multiplied. What I think the House has a right to know is, whether it is intended to transfer a portion of these from Woolwich to the new establishment, or whether there is to be a great arsenal wholly independent of, and superadded to, that which now exists at Woolwich. Because if you are going to establish another Woolwich at Cannock Chase, or elsewhere, it becomes a very serious question how much you are to expend upon such a plan. The House might be willing to sanction the spending of £500,000 where they would refuse to incur an outlay of £5,000,000. The noble Lord in a supplemental Estimate has taken £150,000 for the purchase of land for this internal arsenal. I think, according to the custom of this House, he had no right to take a step involving such serious consequences without telling the House particularly what he intended to do, and what was likely to be the cost of the undertaking. The noble Lord will probably recollect that some years ago a Vote of £40,000 was taken for a dock at Keyham. Afterwards a Committee was appointed and engaged in inquiries relative to the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, and they said that if Keyham Dock had then to be begun they would not recommend the expenditure of one shilling upon it, but as £900,000 had already been spent there, the House had better vote the money to finish it. In the same way we may begin with an expenditure of £150,000 upon this central arsenal, and we do not know how many millions of outlay we may be led into. I protest against any such expenditure being begun by the Executive in the absense of full information upon which hon. Members may form an opinion. Perhaps the House is not likely to take my advice on the subject, but I think it ought not to be committed to a course of expenditure which it cannot retrace, without being furnished with the proper information by the Executive.
§ MR. MONSELL
believed that, although he could not move an Amendment upon the Resolution, he should not be out of 581 order in moving an addition to it. The opinion of a majority of the House seemed to be that although the sea defences recommended by the Commission should be constructed, it would be inexpedient to begin the land defences at Portsmouth and Plymouth without further information. That remark applied particularly to the proposed fortifications on Portsdown Hill, inasmuch as the only evidence taken by the Commission on that subject was against their construction, and not one person had spoken in favour of them. The Committee would also remark, that although Artillery officers were so well able to speak on a question of fortifications, there was only one Artillery officer on the Commission, and although three were called as witnesses, none were examined upon the essential points of the inquiry. The question of floating batteries had been very differently treated, for it had been referred to a Commission of naval men who were most competent to pronounce an opinion on the subject. But upon questions with which Artillery officers were best acquainted they were not consulted at all. Under these circumstances, the addition which he proposed seemed so reasonable a one that he hoped the Government would accede to it without a division.
Another Amendment proposed, at the end of the proposed Resolution, to add the words
That in the absence of sufficient engineering and artillery information, it is not expedient to incur any extraordinary expenditure on the construction of permanent works on Portsdown Hill.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
thought that the Committee must trust to the responsibility of the Government in respect to those works, and he could not support the addition, because the House seemed to be almost unanimously of opinion that our arsenals should be protected. The House would certainly act very hastily if, without further consideration, they proposed at once to lop off an essential portion of the works which had been recommended by Government, no doubt on the highest authority. With respect to another matter to which the hon. Member for Birmingham had adverted—namely, the question of the establishment which it was proposed to erect in Cannock Chase, that was an entirely different matter. No doubt they ought to defend the seaboard and the arsenals of our navy; but whether in a constitutional point of view it was desirable to establish a strong fortress in the centre of this coun- 582 try was very doubtful, such a proposal would, he (Mr. Newdegate) had no doubt have been condemned by the highest authority when constitutional authority was more a matter of consideration than it was at present. There was no longer any fear of having a larger standing army in this country than we might require for our protection; but still he hoped that the Committee would pause before any fortress was erected in the centre of England, because there was certainly something un-English in the idea. London must have been taken before such a fortress would be of service against foreign invasion. He (Mr. Newdegate) quite concurred in the opinion that all our warlike material, and means of creating it, ought not to be concentrated in one or two exposed positions on the seaboard. He was one of those who voted in the Committee on small arms, that the establishment at Enfield ought not to be removed to Woolwich, but he could not conceive a more favourable place then Weedon for the formation of a large establishment for stores, &c. He therefore hoped the Government would consider that there might be great objections to a central fortress, which would not apply in any case to the defence of our coast. The erection of a central fortress would, indeed, be something to which they were not accustomed in this country, and might be regarded as a menace to the people.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
asked the Secretary for War whether it was the intention of the Government, before proceeding with a central arsenal, to give the House ample details, and enable them to express an opinion after full deliberation.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, he spoke on this question as a disinterested person, seeing that it was not proposed to extend these fortifications to Ireland, and in that country they had no arsenals to defend, no Volunteers, and hardly any trade to protect. The last remnant of their trade was suddenly swept away by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day, when he raised the spirit duties; and next Monday the right hon. Gentleman proposed to go further in the same direction by his course on the paper duties. Then as to Church and State, they had very little State, and the Church they had they did not care much about. He agreed in the propriety of protecting our naval arsenals, but the construction of a central arsenal was a different question. If, indeed, that arsenal 583 were situated between the sea-board and the Metropolis—if it would mask London and would enable us to mass troops there and send them to confront an invader, there might be some reason in the establishment of such a fortress. But common sense would suggest that Cannock Chase could be of no service for the protection of London, and the Government ought seriously to consider whether they would carry out this portion of the scheme. The proper way to defend the country was to avail themselves of the lines of railway and the telegraph, so as to pour the troops down to any place that was attacked. If hon. Members would take the map of the last Bradshaw, they would see that there was not a port which could be attacked to which a railway did not go. So far as regarded any of the assailable sea-boards of England. It was very different, however, as to some of the Irish ports. He considered the increase of the military estimates from £12,000,000 in 1835 £32,000,000 now, showed an unpardonable squandering of public money, and he thought a Commission to inquire into the subject, but upon which no naval or military man ought to be allowed to sit, would be useful.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, the Government could not agree to the exception proposed by the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell). It was said there was no information in regard to Portsdown-hill; but there was the evidence of the Commissioners themselves, of the Duke of Cambridge, of Sir John Burgoyne. [Mr. B. OSBORNE: No.] Yes. The fact was, Sir John Burgoyne had given two opinions—one when he doubted the willingness of the Volunteers to undergo training; but since he had seen the actual progress of that movement he had honestly retracted his former opinion. There was the evidence of Captain Wiseman, R.N., Colonel Dickson, Colonel Smyth, R.A., Captain Wrottesley, and others, who recommended the fortification of Portsdown-hill. With respect to Cannock Chase nothing had as yet been done. There was cheapness of land, and communication by canal and railway; but the exact site was not determined upon. As the Government had resolved not to fortify Woolwich it was thought right not to leave all the stores for the army and navy in one place, and that therefore a reserve depot should be formed elsewhere.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had not given an answer to 584 his question, or to that of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. The question he (Mr. Bright) put was, whether the noble Lord at the head of the Government would furnish the House with information as to what they proposed to do, and as to the expenditure likely to be incurred, before the House was committed to the Vote of £150,000 for the purchase of land for the central arsenal. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire asked whether this was to be a great fortification. They know Staffordshire was not far from Lancashire and Yorkshire; it was near one of the most densely populated parts of the kingdom, and there might be good constitutional reasons why they should not have a fortress there. If they had works for the purpose of casting cannon, of manufacturing stores, it might not be absolutely necessary to have anything in the shape of a great fortification, because if any enemy were to come from any foreign country—and he (Mr. Bright) could not find where he was to come from—surely the whole thing would be very near an end by the time he reached that part of the kingdom. Was the fortress then to be a great fortress against an enemy or against political events which might happen in this country? If the noble Lord would not give such information, he should move that Mr. Massey leave the Chair. He was persuaded they were not fulfilling their duty as Ministers in concealing anything of that kind, and he was sure the House would be supported by public opinion if they were to resist further proceedings until they should receive that information.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he had no desire to conceal anything. It had long been remarked, by every one who had turned his attention to the subject, that it was inconvenient and dangerous to have only one great depot for all the military and naval stores to defend which would require an expenditure which the Government could not venture to recommend; and therefore it was thought judicious to establish another depot for reserve stores, in case of any accident occurring at Woolwich. It was not decided what spot should be selected; and therefore it was impossible to say what kind of establishment would be formed; but there was no intention to create a great inland fortress for political purposes.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, he should support the Motion of the hon. 585 Member for Limerick. The hon. Member for Warwickshire had left the responsibility to the Government; but he (Mr. Osborne) felt he, as a Member of Parliament, had a responsibility in voting the people's money. That money was now asked for to construct works at Portsdown-hill, contrary to the evidence given before the Commission; and, after the remarkable speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Sir Frederic Smith), an Engineer officer of fifty years' experience, who had stated that those works were unnecessary. The witnesses quoted by the Secretary for War at the last moment appeared to be contemplating a bombardment of Portsmouth, 8.000 yards distant from Portsdown-hill; and when the House was told that the nearest point at which an enemy's force could be landed was in Christchurch Bay, forty miles distant, he would ask whether such a force would be allowed to proceed without interruption. This evidence of Sir Howard Douglas had never been brought forward before; and altogether the Report on this point was most insufficient. Most certainly, therefore, he should vote for his right hon. Friend's Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, the hon. Gentleman had totally forgotten that an enemy might land just as well at Chichester as at Christchurch. If the enemy would sit down quietly for three weeks before Portsmouth while earthworks were being raised, and raise earthworks for himself, as was done at Sebastopol, no doubt that would be all very well; but probably the enemy would not think that the wisest course to adopt.
said, that though he was strongly opposed to the works at Portsdown-hill, he maintained that the responsibility ought to rest with the Government, who had the opportunity of taking the best possible advice on the subject. When the project for fortifying Paris was first started, Marshal Soult was for defending it by entrenched camps at some distance from the city, as he had a strong objection to surrounding any large town with fortifications; but he was overruled by the Ministry, and in his speech to the Senate he waived his own opinion, and stated that the country must leave the responsibility to the Government, who alone had the means of obtaining the best advice on the subject. In the same way on the present occasion the country must rely on the Government taking that course which the best autho- 586 rities thought most advantageous. Any objections which he might have had to the Government scheme had been removed by the speech of the Secretary for War; and if the advice of Sir Howard Douglas had been made public sooner, it would no doubt have removed the objections which were felt by many professional men. The removal of the stores in the Woolwich Arsenal to a central point where they would be less liable to attack was a point of the utmost importance. At present Woolwich was entirely undefended. With 100 men he would undertake to destroy it any day. It was only surrounded by a brick wall, and was full of combustible matter. The point to which the stores were to be removed was also a mere matter of opinion which must be left to the Government. He was sorry to hear the hon. Member for Birmingham stigmatize the Gentlemen who had made this Report, and who had done their best to be serviceable to the country, as a set of lunatics. If there was any lunacy in the matter it was the idea that the removal of the Arsenal to the centre of the county was meant to intimidate the people. He had some diffidence in giving his opinion on this subject, for he was but an Artillery officer, and, according to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, an Artilleryman might be made in a month—so that his opinion could not be of much value. Still, the noble Lord must "remember that there was as much difference between a trained and untrained Artilleryman as between a. boy shooting at a sparrow on the wall and a sportsman bringing down a woodcock on the wing. The object of a trained Artilleryman was to hit something, which was a very different thing from loading a gun and popping away all day long. No doubt the noble Lord only meant his observation as a joke; but it had been repeated out of doors, and that sort of joking was not very agreeable to a number of men who, to the utmost of their power, had qualified themselves to do their duty to their country.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 37; Noes 165: Majority 128.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he did not want to worry the Government at every stage of the Bill, but he was entitled to ask whether the Government knew their own minds on the matter of the central arsenal. The sum of £150,000 would purchase 4,000 acres of land if it were particularly 587 cheap, and that represented almost a province. Would the Government furnish them with a plan, and toll them whether it was to be a fortress or a series of great factories? He hoped the Government would not refrain from giving information similar to that which was afforded on the smallest Estimate. If they had no plan they could put it off to the next Session, when the matter could be fairly brought before them and fairly discussed. He did not want to be an obstacle to the plan of the Government, but he must insist on more information than the noble Lord had given.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
could assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government were disposed to give every information in their power. He thought he had stated very plainly that several places had been suggested—among others the borders of the Mersey, but that was open to the objection that it was almost as exposed to attack as Woolwich itself. What the Government wanted the Committee to do was to give power to purchase land, so that they might begin, if necessary, to make arrangements for a central depot. There was no intention to make a fortress, and this Resolution gave them no means to make a fortress. When the plans were formed, and further outlay was required, the Government would give full explanations to Parliament as to the nature and extent of these plans.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he was not objecting to Cannock Chase or to the Mersey. It was not a question of site, but of the ultimate object of the establishment.
§ VISOCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, the ultimate object was to have a great depot of stores. If any manufactories were transferred it would be a diminution pro tanto of the expense of Woolwich; but, as far as they had yet gone, their object was to have the great depot of stores now at Woolwich transferred to a point less accessible.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
asked, whether the £2,000,000 would be appropriated to the various objects in the Bill?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, an estimate would be laid on the table showing how the money would be appropriated.
§ MR. HUBBARD
expressed his regret that the Government had united in one Vote the money to be raised and the mode in which it was to be raised. He would not, however, oppose that part of the Resolution now, but would take another opportunity of expressing his opinion on that subject afterwards.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at a Quarter after Two o'clock.