HC Deb 17 February 1860 vol 156 cc1275-317

House in Committee of Supply,

Mr. MASSEY in the chair.

(1,) £143,362 Land Forces (exclusive of Men employed in India).


Before I commence the statement which it is now my duty to make to the Committee, I will answer a question which was put to me by the hon. Baronet (Sir H. Willoughby), and I will answer it very shortly, because we shall soon have an opportunity of going into detail upon the subject to which it refers. He asks me whether any sum will be required to defray the expenses of the China expedition beyond the £850,000 for which a Vote of Credit is taken this year. First, let me say that I think the amount of force which is destined for this service has been greatly exaggerated. I apprehend that the General Order which we have seen will not be carried out to the extent which was contemplated at the time it was issued, when the Indian Government had not heard from home; and it must also be borne in mind that part of the Native troops mentioned in that order are not ad- ditions to the force in China, but are going out to relieve the three battalions which have hitherto been stationed at Hong Kong and Canton. With regard to the payment, I have, in the Estimates which I am about to submit to the House, included the pay and allowances of the European troops. There are two Votes of Credit which together will amount to between £1,300,000 and £1,400,000, of the first of which £600,000 will be applicable to the army, and the occasion on which they are discussed will he the best opportunity for going into the question whether or not they are likely to meet all the necessities of the expedition. [Sir H. WILLOUGHBY: Will there be any charge upon the Indian revenue?] The immediate charge will fall on the East Indian revenue, and we shall have to account to them at a subsequent period. To the questions which were asked me by an hon. Gentleman opposite with regard to the militia I will not now reply, as it will be more convenient to announce the views of the Government with regard to the embodied militia when I am staling the amount of force which we are about to take. The hon. Gentleman behind me (Mr. W. Williams) says that I am taking an unfair advantage in bringing forward these Estimates at so early a period after the Votes have been circulated. There was some delay in the printing which I regret, but for which I am not responsible, which delayed the circulation of the Votes; but I think that, looking at the state of public business in the House, and considering the necessity there was for the financial statement being made unusually early, the Committee will feel that it is for their convenience, and for that of the public service, that the Naval and Military Estimates should be brought forward as soon as possible. It is true, I believe, that these are the largest Estimates which have ever been proposed in time of peace. They are not, perhaps, so largo as they look, but I frankly admit that they are enormous Estimates. Let me make an accurate comparison between these Estimates and those of last year. There is a difference in the amount to be received in the way of deductions. Last year my right hon. and gallant Friend opposite (General Peel) received from the East India Company £700,000. I shall receive only £450,000, which leaves me in a deficiency, so far as that goes, of £250,000. The Estimates for the present year amount to £14,842,275, as con- trusted with 12,859,297 in last year, showing a net increase of £1,982,978. The House naturally will wish to know what are the causes of this enormous increase. In considering the manner in which the sums that Parliament might vote upon these Estimates would be expended with the greatest advantage to the country, I had to determine whether it would be by the maintenance of an increased standing army, by the continued embodiment of the militia, or by laying in stores of those new arms and implements of war which the advance of science has introduced, which the neighbouring countries of Europe are rapidly adopting, and which we ourselves could not neglect without serious injury to the relative power and safety of this country. The object, then, is to expend a given sum in the manner that will be most likely permanently to increase the strength of the nation. I will not employ the whole increase in men, because when the money is paid at the end of the year, you are not more advanced in contributing towards the permanent strength of the country. You will not be the stronger in respect of arms or material of which you ought to have a large stock for the future, irrespective of your immediate requirements. Then comes the consideration as to the kind of stores and armaments of which we should lay in this stock. That in which we have been most deficient is small arms and rifled guns, which are necessary not only for the land but also for the sea service, and you will see in the Vote for stores of this kind an enormous Estimate—something short of a million—for rifled guns for the navy. And I do not think it possible—looking to the rapidity with which armaments of this description are being made abroad and the enormous strength which is thus added to the navies of those nations—that we can for one moment pretermit the manufacture of the best possible weapons. That is one reason for devoting so large a sum to a single item; a sum so large as apparently to account for the difference between the two Estimates—I say apparently, because my gallant Friend likewise took a large Vote for small arms last year. How necessary it is to hasten on the making of those rifled guns has been shown by their effects on the plains of Italy; and on board ships they may be of a value and importance which no one yet can sufficiently understand. I come now to consider what has been done with regard to the standing forces, The gallant Officer (Colonel Dickson), by combining the sum of £300,000 for the embodied militia with another Vote, has made a calculation, and says he is at a loss to understand the meaning of the Estimates. In the discussion the other night I tried to explain the manner in which these Votes were constituted, and I then alluded to what I think an error in form—which in future years it may be possible to remedy—according to which a distinction is taken between the Vote for the embodied militia and that for the line, though both, in point of fact, are for the same thing; both are battalions of infantry, performing exactly the same duty. In the mind of every Secretary of State for War the intention has always existed, to a greater or less extent, of disembodying some portion of the militia; he plays them off against the diminution or increase of the regulars, and between the two he maintains a force of average amount. In order to ascertain what we propose under this head, you must place together Votes 2, 3, and 4; and you will then find that we have got £4,846,843 last year, as against £5,498,428 in the present. I proceed upon the assumption that we are going to have a large disembodiment of militia; and I have placed upon these Estimates, the pay of the troops in China. If by some good fortune the troops engaged in what I agree in thinking a moat unfortunate and calamitous war should soon be enabled to return, they will come home to England without disturbing my Estimate, because they are already borne upon it. Let me now say why it is that the Government think it is better to maintain a force of regulars and to disembody the militia. The gallant Officer opposite (General Peel) expressed, I think in March last, his intention, to some extent, of disembodying the militia, and wrote a circular expressing that very proper decision; but circumstances occurred which led him afterwards to take a Vote for its continuance. To maintain an embodied militia in time of peace, however, is not according to a proper system—it ought to be a reserve, on which you can draw in case of war, or fear of war. I must express my entire dissent from the idea which has been advanced tonight, and which is very popular, that all the militia ought in turn to be embodied— according to some for a very short period, in the opinion of others for some little time longer—and then on the disembodiment of each regiment, that it should remain without further training for a very lengthened period. I cannot conceive anything more likely to be attended with all the evils and mischief of constant disembodiment, without the acquirement of any efficiency in return. I quite agree with the gallant Colonel (Colonel Dickson) that unless the regiments are embodied for a very long period the system presses with great hardship on the officers; but these frequent disembodiments after short intervals of service would affect them still more seriously. On every ground, I conceive the embodiment of militia in time of peace to be a wrong principle. You will say, then, why is it done? I certainly cannot afford to throw blame upon any person, for I was the first to embody the militia. But at that time we were engaged in the war with Russia; there was no dread of invasion, and the efficiency of the militia was not an object of consideration, but it was of the utmost importance, at all hazards and without any consideration of expense, to open a fresh channel for recruiting for the line. It may be said, and with truth, that this was a very expensive process—that the men received two bounties often without any increased efficiency, but still you got the men, and in cases of emergency you must have recourse to unusual proceedings, and you cannot stand upon rules. I believe the embodiment of militia was just tifiable under the circumstances, and that the same reasons held good when the Indian mutiny broke out. But recollect that in recruiting the line from the militia you are destroying the regiments of the latter as fast as they are rendered efficient by their officers. I can imagine nothing more heart-breaking to militia officers who take pride in their respective corps than to have all their best men draughted away; and I think the country has never appreciated the value of their services during the war, when, without a murmur, they suffered— what was sufficient to excite irritation in the mind of any man — the enlargement of the line at the expense of the force with which they themselves were connected. There is another objection to the continued embodiment of the militia, which is, I think, of a serious character. So long as a militia regiment is raised and trained in its own county, and does not go beyond its limits, and so long as the men have an assurance that they will never be embodied except in war a wholly superior class are to be found in its ranks. But as soon as a regiment is permanently embodied, the class of men who come in are those who want permanent service, and, in point of fact, exactly the same as those who are enlisted in the army; so that you are establishing a competition against yourself—you are narrowing and injuring the great recruiting ground for the army. For all these reasons, the Government have felt satisfied that the embodied militia ought to be dispensed with as soon as possible; but they feel, at the same time, that much hardship is entailed on the officers and men of the disbanded regiments, who enlisted for the sake of permanent service, and not from any feeling of local attachment to a particular corps. However much I object to volunteering from the militia into the line—which is very like cutting off one end of a blanket and adding it to the other—I feel that in such a case some consideration is due. There will be found a considerable increase in the force we propose to take this year. It will amount to 20,000 men. I do not mean in comparison with those now borne, but with those voted last year. We have raised two new battalions at home of field artillery to replace those who went from here to China. It is the intention of the Government, looking to the deficiency of artillery in this country, and to the improbability of any artillery being sent to us from India —because the melting away of the Native artillery and the losses of the local artillery render it hopeless to expect that the Indian Government can spare us any considerable force of this kind—it is the intention of the Government, I say, that some increase shall be made to this force, and they propose to add a brigade of garrison artillery and a brigade of field artillery, a brigade of artillery corresponding to a battalion of the Line. We also propose to make an addition to a small extent to the force of engineers. The reasons of the Government for this increase may be very shortly stated. We have at home one broken half battalion of engineers, but we have a very great increase in the works which require the superintendence of the engineers. We have found too this year, as we did last, that the scientific and skilled labourer of the sappers is not only very valuable, but also very economical. During the strike this year which took place at Woolwich when the works would have been stopped, they were carried on by soldiers at a less cost than the labour of the workmen. There is this additional reason, that the number of engineers is not sufficient to give a fair relief to those who are engaged in different works abroad; officers of the Engineers, too, are in such request on account of their attainments and skill, that nothing but a strong exercise of authority on the part of the Commander-in-Chief can keep them out of civil and upon military duties. The Government have therefore thought that they could not do better than make an augmentation of half a company to the present companies of Engineers. That will give us an additional force of two brigades of Artillery and a battalion and a half of Engineers. We propose to take the rest of the proposed augmentation in the manner in which it may be most easily reduced when the additional forces come home to us, and in a manner, too, which does not increase the number of officers. We propose to increase the strength of our battalions of infantry by raising the companies from 80 to 100 men. This is the mode by which the army may be most easily reduced, for after all we have got an army amply sufficient if we only see that it is properly distributed. If the prosperity and peace of India continue to be maintained, we shall, when the China expedition has accomplished its objects, obtain additional regiments thence. If we get them before, an equal amount of the proposed augmentation must be dispensed with. Therefore, if we were to propose to raise additional battalions at home we should have to disband those battalions, which is one of the most painful things a man can have to do. You have a number of officers who go upon half-pay, and who lose what they have learnt. All promotion is stopped, and for these and other reasons we think it better to proceed by raising men and adding them to the present infantry battalions, rather than increase the number of officers. When the troops now in India and China come home the numbers may be reduced, and by the cessation of recruiting you can bring down your establishments to the extent to which they are augmented by the arrival of troops from abroad. I ought here to mention a smaller matter—an old force which is rendering valuable service—the Invalid Artillery. They occupy stations upon the coast. They are selected for their good conduct from the regiments of artillery, they are composed of the best men, they are a not very expensive force, and are commanded by a major who entered the service as a private soldier in the artillery and who is a distinguished officer. This force is doing good service, for such is the demand for their assistance in train- ing the militia and volunteer artillery that all the officers and non-commissioned officers are thus employed. I am glad the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams) is not now in the House, for he might have complained of the great amount of the increase we propose. Well, but is the force so very large that we propose to maintain, or is this whole army of 240,000 so very much disproportioned to the wealth and population of the British empire? I have looked to see what is the proportion of soldiers to the population, not only in this but in other countries. I have taken the numbers of our army two or three years ago, at the conclusion of the war, as a fair average test. Thus, in England, with a population of 28,000,000, you have an army of 220,000, being a force in proportion to your population of one to 128 persons. In France, with a population of 36,000,000, you have an army of 378,000 men, which, mind you, is the number taken from the Estimates, that hardly ever agree with the number actually borne on the army. That is one in 95. In Russia, with a population of 65,000,000, the army numbers 900,000, which is one in 72. In Austria, with a population of 40,000,000, there is an army of 587,000, or one in 68. In Prussia, with a population of 17,000,000, there is an army of 211,000, or one in 80. In Spain, with a population of 17,000,000, there is an army of 142,000, or one in 119. That comparison, it will be seen, puts England the lowest by a great deal in proportion of troops to the population; but that is not a fair statement of the case. The English army is not only the army of England, it is also the army of India, the army of Australia, the army of North America, of the West Indies, of the Cape of Good Hope, and other dependencies. And, therefore, in point of fact, to put the comparison fairly, you ought to see what number of troops you have got, and compare that number with the population of the whole Empire. If the comparison is made in that way we shall find that the army of England, as compared with (he population, is as one to 246, which is a proportion unknown to any other part of the world. Another question is well worth looking at. It is a very common notion, both in this House and the country, that the English army is very dear, in consequence of the great proportion of officers to the number of men. The English army, I do not deny, is a very expensive army. Our style of living is ex- pensive, our army partakes of the national characteristic, and both officers and men are higher paid than any others. But is the proportion of officers to the number of men so much larger in England than in other countries? In the infantry the number of officers to a company is in England three, in France three, in Austria four, in Prussia six, in Sardinia four. It is true that these companies become in the continental armies much larger at certain times, and then they are so unwieldy that the former proportion of officers is insufficient. In England there are 23 soldiers to each officer, in Prance 22, in Austria 26, in Prussia 19, in Sardinia 19. With the exception of Austria, England is at the head of the list in regard to the number of men to each officer. In cavalry the number of officers to a squadron is in England six, in Franco seven, in Austria six, in Prussia five, in Sardinia five. The number of men to each cavalry officer is in England 18, in France 13, in Austria 22, in Prussia 15, in Sardinia 17. In artillery the number of officers to a battery is in England six, in France four, in Austria four, in Prussia six, in Sardinia three. The number of men to each artillery officer is in England 36, in France 30, in Austria 29, in Prussia 19, in Sardinia 32. On the whole, therefore, these returns show that there is no excess of officers in the English army as compared with the army of any other countries. Now, Sir, I have mentioned the reasons why the Government think the militia should be disembodied. The augmentation which the Government now propose to make in the regular army will to some degree supply the place of the militia. The House, however, will recollect that without looking at the return force from China we shall have a very great diminution of the gross amount of troops by the exchange of 20,000 militia against the 6,000 or 7,000 proposed additions to our regiments. When we talk of disembodying the militia we do not altogether part with the whole of our force. You have the disembodied militia behind, which will, I hope, in the course of a few years be in a better state of organization, and which adds to the sense of security, as a means of augmenting your force upon any emergency. Deducting the Indian depôts, which are not paid for by us, we shall have, on the 1st of April, 87,722, and with the Indian depôts 100,701 men in our establishment, including the augmentation. With the dis- embodied militia I wish to deal according to circumstances. I hope I shall be able to dispense with almost all of it. Next year, in March, the Act expires under which, contrary to constitutional practice, the embodied militia is kept up in time of peace, and I am anxious to effect the disbanding within the year, because I doubt the practical effect of passing another Act to continue the service for a short period. If that were done, I doubt whether we should ever bring the peasantry to believe that in future the militia is to be a disembodied force. As to the regular army, I shall have to propose a change to which, though it may seem a small matter, I attach some importance. As the term of enlistment has been altered to ten years, I think it will be good policy to make some change in the period at which good-conduct pay shall commence. The extra pay earned by good conduct now commences at the end of five years' service, and there is a further increase at the expiration of every successive five years. A recruit joining the army feels, however good his conduct may be, that some years must elapse before it begins to affect his pay. It is obviously important to hold out every inducement to good conduct; I therefore propose to shorten the first period at which the extra pay begins, and give the first penny at the end of three years, with another penny a day at the end of five years more, and so on as now. This change, I think, will also form an inducement for men to remain in the service after the expiration of their first ten years' service. It is scarcely necessary for me to make any allusion to the number of field-guns. The change we are making in the artillery will substitute Armstrong guns for all the old brass field pieces. There need be no alarm about the twelve Armstrong guns sent to China, as before many months elapse we shall have obtained a sufficient number of guns for all our field batteries. The gun-carriages can be made to answer for the new guns with trifling alterations. Let me say, in passing, that these new guns were sent to China that they might be tested in the most complete manner by ascertaining how they worked in the field. If they have any defects we shall be sure to hear of them, and we shall obtain a much better report of any deficiencies than we should get from any trials at Shoeburyness or on Woolwich Common. I shall hare now to enter on a mass of details as to how the army is commanded, how it is armed, fed, clothed, and paid, and what is its state as to health. The first question is how it is commanded, and it arises on a Vote that has always excited much attention, jealousy, and complaint in this House—the Vote for the Staff. I do not wish to overrate the services of the Staff, and I know how very much depends on the regimental officers. But recollect this—if you destroy the Staff you destroy the brains of the army, and leave it nothing but limbs. At the commencement of the Russian war many complaints were made of the inefficiency of the Staff: how should it have been efficient when before that war it was never employed in the field nor anywhere else? No Staff officer had had any practice, and yet they were expected to do, for the first time in their lives, what they had never learnt, and to do it under the most trying and difficult circumstances. Such expectations deserved to meet—as they did meet—disappointment. Since that war every Government has wisely endeavoured to remedy this defect in our military system by employing officers of the Staff in places where they may learn as much of the art of war as can be learnt during peace. Let me state here that the Government has lately made two changes in the Staff of the army. The first change is in the constitution of the permanent Staff at head-quarters—the Horse Guards. We found, on looking back for a long period of years, that two officers had held the appointments of Quartermaster-General and Adjutant-General, one for forty, the other for twenty years. It seemed quite obvious that a system which left two men for such enormous periods of time almost at the head of the army, could not work well. They could know nothing of modern service, and must have existed only on the traditions, and been influenced by the feelings and practice of the time when they served in it. It must surely be a great disadvantage that the best Staff officers should not have an opportunity in turn of seeing the administration of the army from above, of seeing what no man can see who is not at the centre—how the army is governed, on what principles it is governed, and by what machinery it is moved. On the other side, it must surely be a great advantage to the Commander-in-Chief to have several officers passing through his office, that, by the change, he may know who are the best administrators; and be enabled to put his hand on men on whom he can rely in time of need. The newly established regu- lation, therefore, is that the Staff at headquarters shall be governed by the same rule as the rest of the Staff of the army, and hold their appointments for five years only. The Commander-in-Chief has cordially cooperated in that measure; he agreed entirely with the view the Government took of the matter; and I am glad to think that a change has been made likely to prove so beneficial to the army. At the same time, that there may be no mistake, I must mention that two conditions are attached to this change, which, I think, are only just and equitable. One is, that all the Staff officers should not be changed or leave at the same time, so that the Commander-in-Chief would be left with a Staff all unacquainted with the business of his office. It is desirable that the officers should quit at intervals as others are appointed. We also wish to give the Commander-in-Chief time to find Staff appointments elsewhere for those officers who had accepted appointments on the Home Staff, on the understanding that their employment was for life. In making changes of this description it is wise to be liberal, as it facilitates other changes of a similar character. Again, with regard to officers holding the command of brigades at out-stations, it has hitherto been the practice to give it to colonels with the temporary rank of major-general. The result was that the Commander-in-Chief was a good deal restricted in his choice of officers for this command. It is now proposed that brigades shall be commanded by colonels, not with the rank of major-generals, but of brigadiers. This rule will reduce the emoluments in some, but I hope not an undue degree, but it will give the Commander-in-Chief a wider selection of officers, and enable him to get younger men for commands,—always a good thing. The exceptions to the rule would be in such places as Malta and Gibraltar, where the chief in command is also the Governor, and much occupied by civil duties. One Major-General will also be preserved at Aldershot and one at the Curragh in case of the absence of the officer in command of the division. These two changes, I, hope will have a good effect on the whole Staff of the army, as it would enable the officers on it to see the working of the system at head-quarters, and give the Commander-in-Chief the power of placing younger men upon it. Last autumn there was a very general impression in this country that the French army had got some peculiar bayonet exercise which gave them a great superiority over every one else. There was the use of the sword-bayonet in those troupes d'élite which fought all through the Italian campaign; and it is perfectly true that a great deal more attention was paid in other countries than in England to the physical development of the soldier. I applied to the Commander-in-Chief to select an officer to go to Paris, and likewise to Berlin to see these exercises. He brought back a report on their nature and adaptability to our service. Colonel Hamilton, of the Guards, a very intelligent officer, was selected for the duty, and he discharged it with great ability. Well, Sir, it is doubtful whether there is any superiority in the sword-bayonet over the old bayonet, and the French officers themselves say they did not know till they read it in the English papers that there was any supposed advantage. They say it was topheavy and very apt to injure the musket to which it was fixed, and in the war there was a very large party who preferred the old to the new bayonet. But it is quite true that the French—I suppose for the same reason that their cookery is better than ours, because their material is not so good — not having the same sinew and stature, devote more care to the physical development of the soldier, and attach more importance to regular gymnastic exercises under the superintendence of regimental and even medical officers. No doubt the system must be greatly strengthened and the general health improved by such exercises. Nobody in the streets can help observing how much better a man in the cavalry walks than an infantry man. He is better set up, looks more active, strong, and muscular; and no doubt the great variety of his exercise, and especially his sword exercise, must contribute very much to produce that result. I see some dissent from an infantry officer opposite; but I do not speak from my own observation alone, I have heard many military officers make the same remark. Colonel Hamilton visited those places, and we mean to act on the report which he brought back. You will find that in these Estimates we take money for the erection of buildings, gymnasia, in which these exercises may be practised at one or two of our principal stations. The camp at Aldershot is a rather sore subject with a friend of mine behind, but after all it has been one of the most useful institutions for an army we have seen of late years. It has been useful not only for the purpose of exercising the troops, but in a different way in trying inventions. There have been in the course of five years no less than 150 different inventions tested there by use, and these tests have been of great advantage to the service, because they prevent you embarking, on à priori expectations, in some new form of material which may turn out on practical use to be insufficient. We have got among other inventions tested with success one in which the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire took particular interest. Again there has been at Aldershot less desertion than in the British army anywhere else; there has been a great diminution of it; there has been less crime at Aldershot, less disease. The returns of the mortality are so low that to me, having for a long time now been engaged in observations on this point, they almost appear fabulous. At the same time I am bound, on the other hand, to admit that the troops there being young, youth accounts a good deal for the small rate of mortality; but still I have no doubt, next to the healthiness of the situation, the main reason has been the amount of exercise in the open air which the troops undergo there. They have tried there with great success the sending out of flying camps—baking their own bread, cooking for themselves, and conducting all the operations that would take place in a regular campaign. I will not go further into detail on that point. With reference to the commissariat, I will read to the Committee an extract of a letter from Mr. Warriner, dated January 25, 1860, after lecturing at Aldershot. He says:— I visited the commissariat, and I have great pleasure in saying that the beef contains at least 25 per cent more nourishment than that which I usually see supplied to the troops in London and its vicinity, and that the mode of distribution for the prevention of fraud is exceedingly good. The bread is likewise 20 per cent better, that is, four Aldershot loaves are equal to five London ones. I believe there are few places in the kingdom where such good bread can be obtained as that produced by the commissariat at Aldershot. There is a change which has been introduced into the mode of rationing the troops which I hope will lay the foundation of very extensive and valuable improvements to the advantage and comfort of the soldier. The troops at Aldershot and two or three other stations—in the Mediterranean garrison and at the Cape of Good Hope—receive from the commissariat, not only bread and meat rations for a stoppage from their pay of 4½d. a day, but an additional quantity of bread and groceries, consisting of tea, coffee, sugar, pepper, and salt, at an additional stoppage of 1½d., and the effect has been excellent, because the commissariat, buying on a large scale, can supply the men for the same money with a larger quantity, or, if not a larger quantity, a superior quality of tea, coffee, and sugar, and, though the men looked at it at first with suspicion, the reports from all the camps are now fully confirmatory of the wisdom of the change. I hope to extend it further. I think it will ultimately be found of enormous advantage to the army, and having one rate of stoppage all over the world, leaving a net pay due to the soldier. In addition to the extension of flying camps, the brigades have been employed in the construction of field works, digging wells, embarking and disembarking in boats, getting carriages on the railway, and other works. The staff at the same time in each district has been employed by the Commander-in-Chief in making accurate surveys of the locality, and these surveys, with their notes sent in to the Commander-in-Chief, are placed in the Topographical Department, and may become of great value at some future time. With regard to clothing, I am happy to say there has been a great diminution of complaints, in consequence of the improvements initiated by my gallant Friend opposite (General Peel). Under the mode of clothing which formerly existed there were great complaints, not only of the material, but of the workmanship. I will read to the Committee an extract from the letter of the commanding officer of the 43rd Foot, He says— I have, however, the honour to state, for your information, that since I have been in the 43rd Light Infantry—upwards of twenty-two years—I do not remember having seen so good material supplied for the use of the privates, and the alterations required have been much fewer than in previous years. The sergeants' clothing appears to be very good, and that for the staff sergeants appears somewhat better than usual. The clothing, however, is not well made on our system. There is an advantage in a certain degree of competition; it kept everybody up to the mark. There was a new establishment in Pimlico, conducted by Colonel Hudson, where the clothing was made cheaper and better than anywhere else. There is an establishment at Woolwich where the Artillery clothing is made. Still there was a very great deal done by contract, each being a check on the other. It is certainly very difficult to deal with this question of contract, and I was very-much struck by a statement made the other day, that in France they had done away with the system of open tenders. During the Italian campaign it was found that a vast number of shoes had been sent out there, not made of bad leather, but not made of leather at all, but of pasteboard, so that the foot went through it in two days. Then comes the question, how the troops are armed? I believe, upon the whole, that they are the best armed troops of any nation in the world; but that is no reason why their weapons should not be improved if possible. I will say a few words on this subject, because since the volunteer rifle movement hon. Gentlemen have had their attention much turned to it At Hay the, General Hay, a most distinguished officer, and an excellent judge, prefers the Whitworth rifle to all others, and he is right; but it cost £10, instead of £2 17s 6d., the price of the Enfield. When you deal with an army that, of course, implies an enormous outlay, and the question of expense becomes important. You are bound to show that a rifle that costs three times as much as another, is three times as efficacious, and will kill three times as many men. But I am afraid the distinction between the two classes of weapons is not so great as that. To equip an army of 100,000 men with the Whitworth rifle would require a million of money, and for the whole of the army it would require a supply of nearly five times that amount; so that it would be impossible for any Government to face such an expenditure as that. One officer with whom I conversed on the subject, observed that nobody could doubt that a chronometer was a better thing than a watch; but who would think of carrying a chronometer in his pocket when a watch would answer his purpose; and the risk of loss, or damage was not so great? But there is another question that has been raised here, and that is as to what is the right bore for the rifle. In 1858 a few En-fields were made experimentally with the bore reduced to half an inch, and this was found to carry the same description of ball much further than with the larger bore, and even to make a good show with the Whitworth. This leads one to suppose that the question of (he bore is much more important than has generally been supposed. No doubt, the great fault of the Enfield rifle is the weakness of the barrel, and a charge, with the bayonet driven home, would not improve the weapon for purposes of shooting. With a reduced bore, however, the same weight of barrel may give greater strength. As the question of the bore is felt to be exceedingly important the Government have appointed a committee of officers to inquire, and to test with accuracy the different sizes. What we want is the decision of practical men, who will devote their energies for a short time to the consideration of the subject. You may perhaps say, "How will you be able to effect a change when you have got so very large a stock on hand of rifles of the existing bore?" My answer is, that the introduction of two ammunitions is not a thing so inconvenient as not to be got over. We have peculiar facilities for changes of that description. Our troops are scattered all over the world, in India, the Colonies, and Great Britain, and you may divide your ammunition in the same way. There is no reason why the ammunition should be mixed. If it were mixed, no doubt inconvenience would be felt; but, supposing the committee of officers I have referred to should come to the conclusion that it would be wiser in future to work with the smaller bore, the inconvenience would be got over. Admitting some inconvenience, however, that is no reason why we should go on working with an inferior weapon if a better one can be found. Passing from this topic let me proceed to one in which I have always taken a deep interest—the health of the army. The mortality of the troops abroad is, generally speaking, greater than the mortality at home, because abroad there come into play the injurious effects of climate and other onuses, which tell against the health of the soldiers. But even abroad there is a great improvement in the health of the troops, except in India, where during the war they suffered much exposure, which caused consequent debility and death. I turn, however, to the mortality at home, about which there has been so much discussion in this House and elsewhere, it being much more possible to attend to the health of the soldier at home by judicious interference on the part of the authorities than it is abroad. I should add that I have a strong reason for not dwelling on the mortality abroad, and that is, unless you take long averages you cannot come to a satisfactory conclusion regarding it. Take, for example, the case of the West Indies. You may have for a time a low state of mortality among the troops there. Then there comes a terrible epidemic that decimates your regiments, and unless you take one of these epidemic years into the average your calculations will be unsatisfactory. In England, with more supervision and better climate, the sanitary state of the army was not so variable. I find, taking the average of the fifteen years previous to 1856, and comparing the mortality then with that of the last year, that we have the following results:—The mortality of the Household Cavalry, which was ten per 1,000 in the former period, is now 8.24; cavalry of the Line, former average 13.3, now 7.92; Royal Artillery, former average 14.4, now 8.09; Royal Engineers, former average 11.2, now 7.19; Foot Guards, former average 19 and a fraction, now 7.74; Infantry of the Line, former average 17.9, now 8.05. In the depôt battalions the average is higher than in the others, being for last year 1228. Let me guard the House against a too strict deduction from those figures. I have no doubt that the improved health of the troops is to a considerable extent owing to their being dressed better, fed and housed better; but it must be remembered that the army is a great deal younger now than it was previous to the Crimean war. At the termination of that war many old men left the army, and their places were supplied by younger lives, and probably the improved health of the army is principally owing to the diminished ages of the men, though it is satisfactory to think that a part of the improvement has been caused by our sanitary reforms. This is proved by the fact that in the case of the Household Cavalry, which were neither in India nor the Crimea, and therefore never exposed to the causes that rendered it necessary to supply the places of old men with young, the mortality has fallen from ten to 8.24 in 1,000, now eight per 1,000 is the average mortality of the healthiest class in the country—the agricultural labourers; if we can bring the mortality in the army to be no greater than that among agricultural labourers we shall remove frour it the stigma of being an unhealthy profession, and make it more popular than it now is. At Aldershot the rates of mortality have been as low as five and a fraction, or excluding casualties, 4.6 per 1,000, which certainly is a very low rate indeed. I now pass on to the subject of volunteer corps. There are many gentlemen present who will quarrel with me for having this year taken no Vote for the training of yeomanry corps. My reason is, that at a time when the Estimates were becoming so large thought I ought to reduce everything that could he reduced without prejudice or injury to the public interests; and, as these corps have been out regularly and been brought to a high state of efficiency, I thought it better to omit the Vote for their training this year. It will be observed that I have introduced a sum for the payment of adjutants for training rifle and artillery corps. It is important to give as regular and as military an organization as we can to those bodies. It is impossible to over-estimate the value of the feeling these corps have displayed. There are great difficulties, however, in their way. I see one in particular with regard to which I think it is wise to raise a warning voice— namely, the ambition on the part of volunteer corps to excel in point of numbers, to make their corps as large as they can, irrespective of their permanence. I have seen it asserted that those corps should be composed of all classes; that people should stand in them shoulder to shoulder, irrespective of rank. Nobody can object to that. Certainly the Government would never in any way oppose such an arrangement. But there is something to look to beyond that. The question is, will such corps be permanent? I believe that corps, left to extraneous support, will not stand the test of time. You will sometimes find two or three gentlemen put their hands in their pockets, and in the excitement of the moment associate themselves to equip men who are not able to equip themselves. Now, I believe it will be found that there is a great defect in corps where all the men are not able to equip themselves. When the first excitement dies away, the zeal of those who have contributed to the funds will vanish, their subscriptions will diminish, and the numbers of the corps will diminish too. On the other hand, when a man finds his own outfit, Government providing him of course, with arms, he will naturally become fond of the corps to which he belongs, and of the exercises of the soldier; and the corps supplied with such men will be a permanent one. I may refer to another error which ought to be avoided. The money subscribed is frequently not expended in a way that is advantageous. Sometimes it is laid out on uniforms that are too expensive, sometimes on bands, and in other ways not beneficial for the corps. There is a doctrine which I see often put forward— namely, that solidity is not a thing which is required in troops, and that loose order is at once the most effective and the most easily acquired. Now, speaking in the presence of military men, I apprehend that the duty of irregular troops is more difficult both to learn and to do well than that of regular troops. When persons talk of loose order they think it means less drill; but, on the contrary, it implies more drill. A man can stand with his shoulder against the shoulder of his neighbour, and may be kept in that way from straying out of his place. But when men have to act separately, when they have to take advantage of the ground, to have an instinct, not only of what the enemy but of what their own comrades are doing; when they are not all attempting to maintain the same regularity of proceedings, but each has to he master of himself and of the position in which he is individually placed, depend upon it a much more thorough knowledge of military matters is required than is necessary for going through the ordinary movements of an infantry corps. Therefore, those who take an interest in these corps will do wisely in insisting as much as possible on every kind of drill. The drill need not be complicated or difficult, but it ought to be systematic, and the men should be made perfectly acquainted with the movements they do learn. It is sometimes said, if the volunteers can shoot well, that is enough. But there is one great instance to the contrary which I think almost settles the whole question. I have always heard from the highest military authorities, not connected with this country, that the best skirmishers in the world are the French tirailleurs. Yet this preeminence of theirs is combined with the character of being the worst shots. They know how to cover themselves, how to get out of the way of the enemy's fire, and how to act against him with effect; and Russian and Austrian officers assure us they are about the very best skirmishers in the world. If that, then, be the case, I only hope that the appointments we have made of inspectors with that experienced and energetic officer, Colonel McMurdough at their head, will be of great assistance to these volunteer corps. I now come to the manufacturing department, and the Votes for the wages of labour and cost of materials. I will shortly state what has been done in this respect. At Woolwich, the old Royal Gun Factory has been closed. I bad great hesitation in taking that step; among other reasons, because of the very able and distinguished officer at the head of that esta- blishment, Colonel Eardley Wilmot, for whom I have a high regard. But no considerations of private feeling or of disadvantage to any individual can weigh for an instant against the interests of the public service; and it seemed to me that the Royal factory at Woolwich, to cast guns that can be cast elsewhere just as well, and possibly, for aught I know, just as cheap, was a mistake. On the other hand, we have been anxious to press forward as rapidly as we could the creation of the matériel which must be manufactured by the Government, because we cannot get it from any private firm. We have thought it best to go to the trade for what the trade can make, and to confine ourselves to producing what the trade cannot produce. We have, therefore, enlarged the factory, and obtained additional machinery to a large amount; and we hope by this means, and by the aid of Sir W. Armstrong's works at Elswick, to have, between the 1st of January last and the end of the next financial year, something not very far short of 3,000 rifled guns. We are also anxious, as soon as possible, to issue Arm-strong guns for the navy, and we hope soon to be able to place a considerable number on board of Her Majesty's ships. The last gun made by Sir W. Armstrong and sent to be tried, was a 12-pounder. The following was the result:—Forty consecutive rounds were fired from the new 12-pounder field gun of 8 cwt., with the minimum charge of 11 lb. 8oz. of slow powder. Experiment shows that we have been wrong for some time in using powder of so quick a detonating nature for artillery practice, and especially for rifled cannon, which require slower powder than that suited to other arms. At seven degrees of elevation in five rounds, the range being from 2,465 to 2,495 yards, the difference in the range was 65 yards, and the greatest difference in width three yards. Then at eight degrees of elevation, the range reaching 2,797 yards, with 60 yards of difference between the five shots, and only one yard of difference in the width. Again, at nine degrees of elevation the range comes up to 3,000 yards and upwards, with 85 yards difference between the five shots, and three yards as the greatest difference in the width. In point of fact, almost all of these shots but three or four would have struck within a 9-feet target. The rapidity and accuracy with which small objects are hit at a great distance in the practice made at Shoeburyness, is something marvellous. We have to day an account in the newspapers of the success of a gun, in which I have long taken a great interest, and with respect to which I have been in constant communication with Mr. Whitworth, The effect of that gun seems excellent. People may be much excited if they see it surpass Sir W. Armstrong's weapon. It has not, in fact, yet surpassed Sir W. Armstrong's gun, which may, however, shoot a little short. But recollect that Sir W. Armstrong has not yet made a gun with a view to the special object of range. He has always made shell guns, and a very great range is got by a small bore. Sir W. Armstrong has never yet tried firing at an enormous distance alone, but has sought to send a shell that will do the greatest destruction to the enemy; and he observed to me a few days ago, speaking of the Whitworth gun, "That gun will, no doubt, beat mine in range, if it is made for range; but I can make one for range also, and you will then see whether my gun is equal to Mr. Whitworth's." And that is perfectly fair. But we have this assurance, that Sir W. Armstrong's gun has now been tested for a long time; we know its durability. There is one of his guns now at Shoeburyness that the expert ments were first made with. Some guns have burst after 200 rounds have been fired with them; but this gun has fired more than 2,000 rounds; and if you put your finger to the rifling, you will find it just as sharp and perfect as when it left the factory. Then you have the test of lightness and durability. The durability of the Whitworth gun has, of course, yet to be proved, though the material should guarantee that quality. There is great alarm lest Sir W. Armstrong's gun is beaten, and people ask, "What are you to do in that case with all his guns?" But we have Mr. Whitworth's testimony that the Armstrong gun is undoubtedly of the right construction; and the difference between them lies not in the make, but in the manner of rifling them. The question is rather one of the shape of the rifling and of the projectile, than a question of construction; and whichever of the rival inventions is the better we are perfectly safe. We have got a weapon which has not been surpassed, if indeed it has been equalled, and which, moreover, is capable of being adapted to the new process. But Sir W. Armstrong is not the man to be daunted by a difficulty, and there is no doubt that, whatever happens, we shall have from him the best and most admirable weapon that can be made. May I be allowed, on behalf of a valuable public servant, to contradict, as I have been asked to do, a statement which has gone forth respecting the Armstrong guns sent to China? It has been said that the wood of which the carriages were made was so rotten that the screws fell out. Now, these carriages were duly made of the best teak which the carriage factory at Woolwich could produce. I will not speak of the evidence of the men, hut the captain of the ship, who had no interest in the matter, said there was no sign of decay-about the limber; that the whole weight of the limber pressed upon an iron bar, which was not meant to bear it; and of course it gave way. I may state, as we are now on the subject of arms, that the Enfield rifle is now in the hands of all our regular troops, and of all the embodied militia. It is also available for all the disembodied militia, a considerable number of whom have applied for it, and for volunteer corps. It is available, too, for all pensioners the moment they apply for it, and likewise for the Irish Constabulary, should application be made for it from that quarter. The Enfield is now produced at the rate of 2,000 muskets a week, so that we shall have a good stock on hand, and therefore we stand very well on these points. I go back to the subject of Woolwich, because it involves a very important question. Attention has been called to the fact that it is the only great arsenal and depôt we have; and it has been urged that not only should Woolwich be fortified, but that another depôt should be established. I have no doubt we might select some central place for stores, but I do not wish to see another arsenal made. We have already the arsenal of Sir William Armstrong at Elswick; that of Mr. Whitworth at Manchester; we have another on the Mersey, another at Birmingham, and also those of Low Moor and Gospel Oak. There is, in fact, no country in the world so rich in arsenals as England. So great is our repute in this respect, that foreign Governments — the French, the Austrian, and the Russian Governments—all send over here to have munitions of war of all kinds constructed, including rifled guns. Many persons, indeed, have felt greatly alarmed at those proceedings. They say, in fact, that we in England are making weapons that may some day be turned against ourselves. Now, I, for one, do not share in that feeling. In the first place, those foreign Governments, in sending to this country for their munitions of war, are in reality giving practice, skill, and perfection to our arsenals, and not to their own; and the result would be, if a war were to arise, that they would be without the means of augmenting their matériel, and we should stop into their shoes and find ourselves immensely benefited by the facilities they have afforded us in this respect. My view is, that we want a central depôt, but not an additional arsenal. The great mass of the items in the large Vote for Miscellaneous Stores have reference to other munitions of war, including shot and shell. In former years the manufacture of stores in the manufacturing departments at Woolwich for supply to meet outstanding demands, for home and foreign service, were two, three, and even four years in arrear, but by the great exertions which have been made during the past year, these arrears will be all, or nearly all, cleared off, and the demand of the year 1860–61 alone to be met. The amounts are very large, but they make provision for all the different materials that are necessary for the construction of our rifles at Enfield and great guns at Woolwich. I pass over all the Votes in which there are reductions, with the remark that wherever I could fairly make a reduction I have done so. Those reductions have not been large, but I have honestly done my best in that respect. Perhaps I had better say here that Vote 12, for fortifications, has been inserted in a lump sum; but when I come to the Vote I shall only ask the Committee to agree to a small sum on account. Vote 14 is for barracks, and there is one item of it to which I attach some importance—namely, that which provides for a new range at Fleetwood, with the view to the establishment of a school of musketry for the north of England similar to that which exists for the south at Hay the. The great increase in the resort to Hythe of the members of volunteer corps and the militia for practice has rendered that place, as a school of musketry, altogether unequal to the demands upon it; and therefore it is in contemplation to establish another in the north of England, which will be the means of saving a great deal of expense now incurred in moving troops from the northern parts of England and from Scotland to Hythe for the purpose of musketry practice. The Vote also includes a considerable extension of the practice ground at Shoeburyness and a new range at Graves- end for the use of the troops. We have also made provision for gas-works, and for the erection of a gymnasium at Aldershot; for the erection of a new hospital at Woolwich, which is much required, and which will give an increase in the barrack accommodation at that place; and for an experiment which is about to be tried at Colchester, as to whether or not we cannot build huts of brick of a more durable character than the wooden huts now in use, and yet cheaper than barracks The calculations for this purpose look very well on paper, and I have every confidence in the judgment of Captain Galton, who has undertaken the erection of the huts. It is also in contemplation to increase the barrack accommodation at Nottingham and York, with the view to lessen the inconvenience of troops being broken up and scattered in detachments, a system which is now generally condemned. Provision is also made for the erection of new barracks at Chelsea, and when they are erected, the Portman Street Barracks will no longer be the opprobrium of the metropolis. It is also the intention of the Government, in the case of small, inconvenient, and unhealthy barracks, which are often surrounded by buildings of a worse character, to sell those barracks,— an arrangement by which there can be no doubt the country will derive great advantage on the score of economy, as well as of the increased health and comfort o-the troops. I have come now to the end of everything which appears to require explanation. On the Royal Military College I make no observation, because the plans for its improvement and organization, though they may be expected when carried out to have a beneficial effect on that institution, came in too late to receive due consideration. The Votes for the non-effective service require no comment, as they show a slight decrease. In conclusion, these Estimates, I am conscious, are of enormous magnitude, but I trust the Committee will believe that the Government have done their utmost to relieve as far as possible the burden which they entail on the public consistently with a due regard to the efficiency which the country requires. The time in which we live, however, in some degree accounts for the large increase. We are now in a transition period, involving the employment of the most expensive matériel; I have endeavoured as far as possible to make these Estimates suitable to this transition-time; and, while conscious of their weight and burden, I firmly believe there is such a determination in this country to see its defences put on a safe and sound footing that the Committee will not hesitate to Vote the necessary Supplies, and what is more, that the community at large will approve the conduct of their representatives. Motion made, and Question proposed,— That a sum, not exceeding £4,499,636, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge of the Pay and Allowances of Her Majesty's Land Forces at Home and Abroad, exclusive of India, which will come in the course of payment from the 1st day of April 1860, to the 31st day of March 1861, inclusive.


expressed his opinion that before the Vote was granted time ought to be given for the consideration of these enormous Estimates. He had intended to move a reduction of this Vote, but, as he did not expect to receive any great amount of support, he should not waste time by proposing any Amendment.


said, that he had been much gratified by the general statement of the right hon. Gentleman, and he felt assured that the Committee would cheerfully vote the amount asked for, inasmuch as the carrying out of the proposed works would render the national defences far more secure than they had hitherto been, although they might regret that such an immense expenditure was necessary, at a time when the Government assured them that arrangements were in progress which would lead to a settlement of European affairs upon a more peaceful basis. He was glad to find that the increase of the army was to be in rank and file, and not in officers. The right hon. Gentleman had instituted a comparison between the number of officers in the English and in foreign armies, but it must be borne in mind that so many officers were not required in the English army, because we possessed such an excellent body of non-commissioned officers. There was, however, one class of officers which predominated in the British army, as compared with Continental armies; he meant the class of field officers. The English army was the only army in which a battalion was called a regiment. In foreign armies several battalions were included in a regiment, and the consequence was a large increase in the field officers as compared with foreign armies. He rose, however, for the purpose of saying a few words on the subject of the militia. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have mistaken what fell from him earlier in the evening on that subject. What he asked the right hon. Gentleman was, whether it was his intention to embody from time to time regiments of militia? It never occurred to him that a militia should be a sort of supplementary army. On the contrary, it should be retained, except upon emergencies, as a local force. He hoped, however, attention would be paid to filling up the regiments of militia, for at present commanding officers were refused permission to strike off absentees, so that the establishment in most regiments was thirty or forty per cent below the number borne upon the books. He would also ask whether it was intended to arm the militia with rifles before issuing them to the volunteer corps.


They are armed with them, or they can be had upon application.


He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that great difficulty was found in getting new and improved rifles. It was true that the militia were promised rifles, but they were of the pattern of 1853, and not the new and improved pattern which was to be supplied to the volunteer corps. He thought that the militia being of a more permanent character than the volunteers, they ought to be furnished in the first place with arms of the best description. He knew in his own regiment they were promised rifles, but they had not got them. It was only by supplying the militia with good rifles, so that they could go through a course of good musketry drill, that they could attain their full efficiency. Another point to which he wished to called attention was a remark which had fallen from an hon. Member on the subject of the Staff. He earnestly hoped that the Staff would be made as efficient as the other branches of the service, so as to be worthy of the army itself. He could not, however, allow the kind of slur which had been passed upon the old Staff to pass unnoticed. He considered that when the British army was in the trenches before Sebastopol, taking into account the limited number of men at its disposal, it was a wonder how that Staff had accomplished so much as it did, and the censure lavished upon it was wholly undeserved. He would only add that he felt great satisfaction at the promises held out of increased barrack accommodation, which would considerably improve the heath of the men, a subject in which no one took more interest than the officers themselves.


said, he wished to know when the Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of the national defences would be laid before Parliament, and when the country would be made acquainted with the determination of the Government consequent upon that Report. He understood that it was intended to recommend that a sum of £10,000,000 should he expended upon the improvement of our defences, and therefore it was a question of great importance.


said, he did not think the Commissioners would thank him if he were to publish nakedly the proposals they had made, without giving the House and the country the advantage of knowing the arguments and opinions by which they were supported. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he only received the signed and complete Report on Saturday last, and it was impossible for any department to have a more important and grave subject of consideration. Not only defensive, but financial questions were involved, and the best military science was required to decide as to the proportions to be maintained between works and men. It was altogether a subject of great interest, and, while conscious of the great desire which the right hon. Gentleman felt to press his own views, he (Mr. S. Herbert) must ask him not to urge upon the Government to bring forward a premature and crude scheme, but to allow time for a deliberate and careful investigation; so that when they laid a proposal before the House, they might do so with the greatest weight and authority. [Mr. HORSMAN:— When shall we have the Report?] He thought nothing would be more unsatisfactory than to throw the Report upon the table without at the same time giving some indication of the views of the Government and the military authorities. In answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir J. Fergusson), he could only say that the pattern of 1853 was the class of the arms now in use. As fast as the rifles came in, the War Office issued them, always keeping, of course, a sufficient stock on hand. The volunteers were promised a short rifle in substitution of the long one whenever enough were in store; but some corps had come to the conclusion, which he thought was a sound one, that the long Enfield was a more accurate and better weapon. As to the militia regiments, some of them had already got the rifles, and no time would be lost in sending down arms when applied for. He admitted that the state of the disembodied militia was very alarming, the nominal force being greatly above that actually available. The reason why commanding officers were not allowed to strike off the names of absentees was that this, it was found, only added to the number of fradulent enlistments and desertions. He trusted, however, that by adopting some portions of the Report of the Commission of last year this evil might in some degree be rectified, though he did not pretend that it could be altogether cured. Some legislation would probably be required on this subject, and he should shortly state in detail the proposals of the Government.


said, he had listened attentively to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, and could not refrain from availing himself of that opportunity of entering a very respectful, but most earnest protest against the enormous extravagance of our national expenditure, and more particularly with reference to the established instruments of our national defences. Year by year these Estimates increase with so little apparent hope of diminution, that within a short period the effective of the British army had more than doubled, and yet when any attempt is made to introduce or recommend an improved supervision of our public expenditure, as was the case the other night with the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Wise) it is sure to be met with a cold supercilious sneer, which even the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other evening condescended to endorse. It is true the Bill, as the French would say, is tres bein dorée with exquisite refinement, and our senses are lulled into forgetfulness by the eloquent appeals which are addressed to us; but it wont do any longer—we want something more than eloquence to induce us year by year to go on voting these immense sums of money which not only affect the rich and wealthy, but which tend to tax the poor man's food, and without reason and justice enhance the burthens we all must share. Therefore, it was, that although he was as anxious as any man in the House, whether military or civilian, to see the comfort of the army, as well as its discipline, placed upon the most efficient footing; yet he thought the time had come when the House should determine not only to protest, but to act in this matter with that spirit and decision which the circumstances of the case absolutely require. Eloquence alone wont do. The House has now had the opportunity of considering the three financial statements which have been so recently submitted to it, namely, the financial statement, the Navy Estimates, and now the Army Estimates; and with reference to the first of these three, if anything could induce the House, even were it otherwise disposed, to vote all the provisions of the Budget, it was the eloquence and power with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer tickled our imaginations and insinuated himself into our pockets. Then, again, as regards the Navy Estimates, if anything could persuade the House to accept without a murmur the official statement of the Secretary for the Admiralty, it was the straightforward frankness and professional skill and ability with which my noble Friend (Lord Clarence Paget) handled his subject. And now, if anything could induce us to forget our sufferings and burdens, and accord a willing approval to every item of these Army Estimates, it is the clear and interesting statement, and the grace with which the right hon. Gentleman has detailed the wants and requirements of the service. But these are the financial field-days of Parliament; it is not very difficult to dress up a statement in gaudy attire, calculated to make us look upon it for the time being with kindness and sympathy even to applaud the performance; but, alas, this is soon over; the stern realities of life soon bring us to our senses, and here we are, at peace with all the world, with a deficit of near £10,000,000 to meet our current expenditure, and with Estimates for the army and navy amounting together to nearly £30,000,000. Perhaps the House would allow him to state one or two facts on this subject. The Army Estimates of 1859–60 showed a decrease in comparison with 1858–9 of £9,695; whereas in the present year (one of peace, be it remembered) Parliament was called upon to vote an increase of £1,982,000. Last year the Navy Estimates showed an increase of £961,810 in comparison with 1858–9; whereas this year there was a net increase over those of 1859–60 of £1,025,000. This was a most serious and almost an appalling state of things. Can we any longer tolerate such an abuse of extravagant expenditure? The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to an estimate of population as bearing on this question, but nothing could be more falla- cious than any such test. He had taken some pains to ascertain the sums spent by the Powers of Europe upon their national defences, from which it would appear that France and England were consuming about one-half of their national revenue; Russia, one-third; Austria, as every one knows, is entirely crippled, and in a state of financial bankruptcy; Prussia, about one quarter of her revenue; Belgium, one-third; Sardinia, at least 40 per cent of her resources; Holland, one-fifth; Switzerland, one-tenth; and as to Spain, it was almost impossible to form any estimate of the expenditure of her organization, when we know she took about three months to go about fifteen miles. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the French Budget. Now in the Budget of 1861 the effective of the French army, like that of the year previous, was 392,000 men, and 83,000 horses. Her total military expenditure amounted to £13,800,000, about £260,000 more than the Freuch Budget for the previous year, while the English Army Estimates were £14,842,000 without the militia, showing an excess over the French Estimates of £1,042,000. This proved the extravagance of our expenditure. The French army contained 56,000 men and 58,000 horses more than the effective of the British army, and yet we spent £1,042,000 more than our neighbours. In 1835–6, the effective of the British army was 80,000 men; in 1850, 99,000; while this year the number was 143,000 men, exclusive of India. Now, it was very remarkable that in 1850 the British soldier cost at the rate of £41 per man, whereas in the present year, taking the whole of the charges for the land force and the number of rank and file, the cost was about £46 per man—£5 more than in 1850. This surely was a fact which required the attention of his right hon. Friend. Notwithstanding our present costly armaments, the Report of the Committee of Public Safety, just alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman), declared that £10,000,000, if not £20,000,000 would be required to place the country in an efficient state of defence. Now, after the enormous sums of money annually granted by Parliament, it was too bad to come down in a time of peace and ask for such enormous additions to the Estimates. It was constantly affirmed that up to 1850 the state of the country was most satisfactory, and never in a better state of defence. We voted 14 to 16 millions a year, and it was all well; but all of a sudden afterwards they have been constantly told, up and to the present time, that all was wrong, that the country was absolutely undefended, and although Parliament had, in consequence, voted money without grudging, and although we have a larger regular force than ever, yet still we are not only unprepared but absolutely unprotected. He must say that they ought to give credit to those to whom credit was due for the defenceless condition in which the country was stated to be, and the country, at this important crisis of its political history, had a right to demand some explanation of those who for the last fourteen years had, almost without interruption, held political power in this country. He said that they were at peace with all the world; but, at all events, he was correct in saying that they were at peace with all Europe. He would not look to China — they had been asked not to mention that subject—but, though he did not allude to it, the House must feel the confident assurance that as long as the present President of the Board of Trade was in the Cabinet, there could not be any fear of a war with China. He knew that the right hon. Member for Ashton was no longer the Member for Birmingham, and no longer sat in those cheap seats below the gangway, but occupied a more luxurious and dignified position on the Treasury Bench; but still he was quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman considered all the emoluments and patronage of his office as mere dirt in comparison with the maintenance of his political morality. It was impossible, then, so long as the right hon. Gentleman was in the Cabinet, considering the powerful way in which he attacked in this House the noble Member for Tiverton on precisely a similar subject, that there could be any serious disturbance with China. While they were at peace with all the world they were voting away £30,000,000 for warlike purposes. He believed, indeed, that there had been some little uneasiness with respect to France, perhaps more so than for the last ten or twenty years. He recollected that a very few months ago the whole country was seized with panic and rang with rumours of invasion and attack, which even Ministers of State and the Minister for War condescended to promote. Now in common with so many people of all classes and all parties in the country, quite irrespective of polities, he entirely disapproved of the system of getting up excitement n the country by means of these rumours of attack; and if really any danger existed, surely the Government ought to have duly warned the country instead of endeavouring to shunt upon the shoulders of the people a responsibility which properly belonged to them in their capacity of Ministers, and he believed that those Ministers were worthy of the gravest censure, who, with groundless and inconsiderate zeal had promoted these panics of invasion and attack which, to say the least, were quite unbecoming the dignity and character of our country. He would just ask the House to turn over to Vote No. 5, which had been so lightly touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman. There was a great deal more than met the eye in that Vote. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War said he would not take a Vote this year for that old-established force, the Yeomanry, though he was obliged to take £68,000 for the purpose of adjutants' forage, and so on; but let the House consider that these Volunteer Corps would cost the country ten times more than £68,000. Here was a lot of country attorneys and easy-going provincials costing the country a great deal of money, with a loose way of drill, as he had no doubt it was. He had the utmost contempt for that, for he liked smartness in a soldier. In 1804, when the Volunteer Corps were enrolled, they cost the country £1,000,000; and Mr. Pitt obtained soon afterwards £500,000 more for them. Let the House take care that the same thing did not occur now; for if support were given to these Volunteer Corps, the House might find that they were costing the country a great deal more than they were worth. It would be a fine thing to sec these gallant young men come forward if there were danger, but there was no danger. The other day he met a stout young friend of his, who was a volunteer rifleman. He told his friend that he was too stout; but his friend replied that it was capital fun. "Capital fun!" he exclaimed, and mentioned to his friend that he had been in Switzerland, and had seen the volunteer riflemen there crawling along on their bellies by the hedgesides for miles, and that he recollected being out during the war of the Sonderbund with a corps of volunteers who passed the whole night in the trees. Nevertheless, his young friend rejoined that it was capital fun— that they had their afternoon parade and patriotic lunch, and were going to have a ball, in full dress uniform, for the ladies, an expensive band, a dinner, and in fact all kinds of conviviality quite unsuited to the rigid habitudes of the army. Now, if there existed any danger he would ask the Committee to increase the regular army and navy, for he concurred in the opinion of the noble Lord the late Commander-in-Chief in Scotland (Viscount Melville), that they could not trust to these men. He honoured him for the manly and fearless way in which he had expressed his opinion. He observed that that noble Lord was no longer the Commander-in-Chief in Scotland, but he hoped that his resignation had nothing to do with the expressions he had used with regard to the volunteer force. One reason in his (Sir R. Peel's) mind for preferring an increase in the army and navy to these Volunteer Corps was based upon grounds the very reverse to what Earl Grey said somewhere in the country. The noble Earl stated that the reason he supported this volunteer force was, because it was an anti-military movement. Such an idea was quite unworthy the noble Earl's position and the office he formerly held, and it was precisely because he (Sir Robert Peel) looked upon the movement as an anti-military one that he so thoroughly disapproved of it. But was there any necessity at the present moment for these Volunteer Corps? What did the Earl of Derby say in 1852 when asked whether he would countenance them? The noble Lord said — and this was a manly way of looking at the matter instead of humbugging about it—"that his Government was not prepared to give aid to the formation of Volunteer Rifle Corps, and he (Lord Derby) conceived that the conclusion which had been come to by the (then) late Government (that of Lord John Russell) not to give aid to rifle corps, was a sound and reasonable decision. Were the circumstances of the country different now? He imagined they were not; but at any rate there was the old established force of the country — the militia, with which the institution of the country had been familiar since the days of Charles II., and which might be increased, if need be, instead of being disembodied. This question of national defences had always been one of great difficulty with Ministers. He well recollected that in 1852 the noble Member for the City of London brought in a Militia Bill, and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton came down with his Amendment, and without the slightest desire to displace the noble Member for London, nevertheless ousted that noble Member from office on this very question of national defences. It seemed to be different now. The Government had thought right to give full swing to the Volunteer Rifle movement, and here we are at the present moment under the influence of the provisions of the Act of the 44th Geo III., c. 54. He hoped the Committee would allow him to read — he would not, using the language of the hon. Member for Birmingham, say the "rubbishing trash," but—the extravagant talk uttered throughout the country for the purpose of keeping alive the fever in favour of the Rifle Corps movement. At Melton Mowbray the chairman of a meeting said —"The time has come when every Englishman will be found employing his leisure hours, whether in town or country, in practising with his rifle." Another gentleman proposed a fox-hunting corps, on the ground that the French dragoons or cuirassiers would not be able to follow them. There was a meeting at Stock-well, at a place called the Swan—an inn, he supposed—in which a gentleman, called in the newspaper report Mr. D. Seymour— he hoped not his hon. Friend the Member for Poole—expressed the opinion that the volunteer movement was a sort of millennium. Heaven forbid that it should last quite as long as that! Mr. Seymour delivered his oration at the beginning of December, and he calculated that at that time there were 400,000 volunteers in the country, and that in a few days the number would reach 1,000,000. Surely the Minister for War did not mean to spend £10 upon each man in so vast a host. Upon the same day there was a meeting of the Pimlico Fencibles. The chairman, more moderate than the millennium gentleman, thought the enrolled volunteers then numbered 150,000, while The Times of the same date had no doubt that in the aggregate they were more than double what they had been three months before, when the number was calculated at 22,000. An hon. Friend of his towards the close of the year made a most amusing speech at a place called Eye. The poet had well said— Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise; for the enthusiastic rifleman, addressing the Suffolk yokels and bumpkins, made their hair stand on end by stating that there were hundreds of thousands of troops on the other side of the Channel waiting to come across. Really, when such extravagant language was used to excite a national zeal for Volunteer Corps, the sooner a stop was put to it the better. Schools were turned to strange purposes now-a-days, and he was not surprised that a rifle meeting had been held in St. Peter's School, Pimlico. One of the speakers, waxing very eloquent indeed, declared that he hoped to see the day when every man in England, like the Swiss, would have a rifle hung behind his door. [Cheers.] No doubt, there were a great many riflemen in Switzerland, but those who cheered should recollect that we paid upwards of £30,000,000 for our army and navy. For his own part, he should like to see the stalwart youth of England turning their attention to some legitimate and useful pursuit, instead of hankering after firearms and knickerbockers. But the climax was still to come. At the same meeting in Pimlico, a Mr. Penman informed his auditors that in 1797 a body of 1,400 French troops landed in Pembrokeshire, but were immediately dispersed by the red petticoats of the Welsh women seen on a distant hill. He must say that Mr. Denman did not offer a very flattering suggestion to the gallant Pimlico Fencibles. "But," continued the orator — uttering an anachronism which the Pimlico fencibles failed to observe—"Mr. Fox declared that England did not recover from the effects of that descent for twenty years." It was certainly high time to "show up" meetings at which such speeches were made. Perhaps the Committee would derive a little amusement from the names of some of the rifle corps. The leaders of the movement, judging from their absurd nomenclature, seemed to have gone mad. It was a fact. Certain gentlemen, who had evidently been reading Carlyle's Life of Frederick the Great, were advertising daily in The Times on behalf of a corps, to be called the Six Foot Guards. There were corps composed of the stokers and pokers of the railways. He had already mentioned the Pimlico Fencibles, but what did the Committee think of the Westminster Volunteers of St, John the Evangelist? What in the world St. John the Evangelist had to do with rifle corps he could not for the life of him understand. It was really too bad that so venerable a name should be associated with a band of idle striplings playing at soldiers. There was the Volunteer Corps of the Aldermen and Corporation of London, and last, but not least, there was the Rifle Corps of the Inns of Court. He admired the patriotism of lawyers, but nothing could well be more absurd than the idea of a lot of barristers from the Inns of Court bundling out of chambers with the view of meeting the Cuirassiers of the Imperial Guard in deadly conflict. Serjeant Parry seemed to be an active member of the corps. No doubt that distinguished legal luminary would earn a grade, and become Sergeant-Major Parry. The Serjeant was kept in countenance by Dr. Ball of the Divorce Court or Ecclesiastical Court—a capital name for a soldier—Counsellor Butt, and his old friend of the time of the French Conspiracy Bill, Lawyer Bodkin. These gentlemen, and many more of the same kidney, leaving the study of Coke and Blackstone, were devoting their days and nights to Plutarch's Lives, Cœsar's Commentaries, and The Rifle, How to use it. How heavy lawyers expected to be able to crawl along hedges upon their bellies and climb up trees, he could not comprehend, and he hoped they would not be very much offended if he applied to them the somewhat apt quotation"In medio tutissimus ibis," which, being literally translated, meant "You are a good deal safer in the Middle Temple." It appeared that some of the riflemen had attained great proficiency in shooting; and the other day General Hay, addressing a body of Rifle Volunteers, told them that the French troops as compared with them were mere skirmishers, complimented them upon the accuracy of their shooting, and told them they were really becoming too expert. At Hythe the first prize was carried off by a genuine Cockney. Upon being asked how he had acquired his extraordinary skill and precision, "Oh!" said he, as reported in the columns of The Court Journal, I live in London, and have had considerable practice in shooting at the cats of my Brompton neighbours. "It was not, perhaps, of much consequence in the depth of winter, but no man could tell what a scene London would present at the height of the season. Everybody would be shooting at his neighbour's cat; there would be the stokers of the Railway Rifles poking at the funnels of the North Western, and we should have the Finsbury Filibusters fluking over Cripple-gate. He trusted, however, that before that time a stop would be put to the volunteer movement. In order to get up the excitement, one gentleman said," Let us get up a Rifle Derby by subscribing £10,000. Switzerland does it; why should it not be done here? You have the Epsom Derby and Lord Derby's Toxopholite. Why not have a Rifle Day at Epsom with Dorling's correct card of the volunteer sportsmen?" But this was not the way to deal with this subject. If there was danger to this country, why did not the Government come forward and say so, and instead of the Minister of War subscribing £10 to the movement, let him give his official salary of £5,000 at once, as one instalment, and call on the country; and they would find the movement general in defence of the institutions of old England, He had followed this movement from its commencement; and if there were any danger of attack the Royal Family, who had the greatest interest of all in the welfare and stability of the country, would be amongst the first to come forward and back up the movement. At present the Royal Family had not patronized it beyond giving their names to a patriotic ball; whereas if danger threatened, the Sovereign of these realms, as of old, would rally the public feeling and exhibit a spirit which would vibrate with one unanimous impulse throughout the length and breadth of England; he believed they would exhibit a spirit that would indeed animate the country. He entirely disapproved of the Vote; and he hoped that when the time came for it to be considered the House would make a gallant stand against this dribbling away of the resources of the country. He had no doubt that in case of attack these men might be very useful. And let it be understood that, in speaking of these volunteers and the collection of large bodies of inhabitants armed for purposes of defence, it is the system and the time of its application that the country appeared to disapprove of, and not, of course, that individual patriotism and zeal which, if necessity required, and indeed under any circumstances, was worthy of the warmest public commendation; but we can never make regular soldiers of the volunteers under the system of loose drill which the Minister of War recommends; and to his (Sir Robert Peel's) mind, it would be infinitely preferable to increase the standing army, enormous though its present proportions are, and to enrol men who, by the force of discipline, would be able to become familiar with the strategy of military tactics, and who would be ten times better able to execute the operations of their general, than we can ever hope to expect from a junction of the Railway Rifles with the Finsbury Filibusters. Therefore he entirely disapproved of this movement, got up under false rumours and the influence of panic. He was prepared to increase the resources of the country and its means of defence; but he believed that the army and the navy, animated by the character of their officers, and by the spirit of patriotism and zeal of the men, were sufficient for all emergencies, for all reasonable purposes of defence, protection, and safety. He wished Gentlemen would get up and induce the Government to reduce these Estimates, and give the House some assurances as regards the future. He believed that he spoke the sentiments of the House, and of the people out of doors, when he said the country was willing to drain themselves to any extent for the defence of the land and for the maintenance and the discipline of the army and navy; but he believed that the resources of the country were being squandered, and he boldly stood up in his place to protest against what he believed to be a most extravagant expenditure of the public money.


said, that as a military man he entirely differed from the hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) as to the value of the volunteer movement. The rifle corps, though the hon. Baronet might please to call them Pimlico Fencibles and Finsbury Filibusters, were all volunteers, whilst the French army, though all conscripts, were an actual charge upon the revenues of the State. One question which he wished to put to the right hon. Gentleman was, whether he had turned his attention to the deficient constitution of the line regiments? At present the establishment consisted of 950 men in 12 companies; but this was a very extravagant number in time of peace, and quite inefficient in war. Considering the large proportion of officers to this small number of men, this was a very extravagant establishment for the army.


said, he could not but thank the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Department for the care he had taken of the volunteer movement. He was silly enough to take a very great interest in the affair from the commencement. The hon. Baronet was a yeomanry officer. [Sir ROBERT PEEL: I was once.] He thought the ire of the hon. Baronet might have been turned upon him, for sometimes he had to bear reproaches for his having doubted the efficiency of the yeomanry.


I am so entirely I of the hon. Gentleman's opinion that I left the corps in consequence.


said, he thought the volunteers were very properly disciplined, and if they took pains with themselves they would prove as useful a corps as any from their greater attention to drill, and their practice of the weapons of the day. They went through their evolutions with great spirit, and a more efficient and useful body of men could not be found in any country. He further thought the volunteer movement, useful as being a constitutional movement, tending to put down large standing armies. They might now look for a reduction of the army establishment in time of peace, but this could not be done unless the people were accustomed to the use of arms. They tend to put down those periodical panics arising from fear of an invasion which were the disgrace of the money market and the country. The hon. Baronet had said that this movement had not been encouraged by the Royal Family. But was not the hon. Baronet aware that a Royal Duke was a colonel of one of the London corps? Surely there was some encouragement in this; or let him look at the Levee, intended for the reception of volunteer officers alone. This alone would prove that Her Majesty looked with favourable eyes upon the movement. For himself, he thought that every one who wished well to his country would wish well to the Rifle Volunteers.


said, he entirely agreed with his gallant Friend (Colonel Herbert) as to the expediency of increasing the strength of our infantry regiments. The Staff was much under number, and it would be impossible to keep regiments efficient in the field unless their numerical strength was augmented. When the army went out to the Crimea they were 1,000 strong, but they left nothing behind—no depôt; and it was only by extraordinary exertions that men could be got together in sufficient numbers to be sent out to replace the casualties. As to barrack accommodation, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War when the promised barracks in London, the site for which he believed was fixed, would be built? He also wished to know whether the Vote formerly taken for barracks, and not expended, was to be brought forward again, or diverted from that object to make up deficiencies in other matters. As to the volunteer force he would have liked to see it continue self-supporting, as at first proposed, and he hoped the Secretary of State for War would resist the pressure brought to bear on him to pay sergeants of companies, and incur several other incidental expenses in connection with these corps. He regretted that the yeomanry were to be set aside for the new volunteer force; and thought it would have been well to arm them with the breech-loading carbine, and make them as efficient as possible.


remarked that he could not say that there was no extravagance in the Estimates. He saw several items which he was sure might be reduced without any diminution of the efficiency of the service. He would suggest that it would be a convenient course if the right hon. Gentleman would take the Vote for the number of men that night, and postpone the other Votes to a future occasion.


said, he wished to ask when the disembodied Militia were to be called out for training this year?


said, he had stated already that they would be called out nearly at the same time, but that allowance would have to be made for the different times of harvest in the several districts.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £4,499,636 Pay and Money Allowances to Land Forces (excluding the army of India).


asked whether the Adjutant-General and Quartermaster-General of the Army were not considered as the personal Staff of Her Majesty, and whether under those circumstances they were liable to be removed in the same manner as other officers? The Staff of the army had been referred to as having proved a failure during the last war, but the opinion of the French and Sardinian armies in the Crimea was that the British Staff was excessively efficient.


observed, that the education of the staff officers in the French service was much superior to that formerly given to the Staff of our army. Even the soldiers were taught to make their own clothing and shoes, and this materially lessened the cost of the French army. They were also taught to build their own dwellings. He was glad to hear that there was a prospect of improvement in the English army in these respects.


said, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not proceed any further with Votes of so much importance at that time of the night. Out of the fifteen millions-and-a-half to which the whole military Estimates amounted, less than five millions were for officers, men, and horses. The remainder offered a wide field for economy, and the Votes ought to be carefully considered. He (Colonel Dickson) did not think that there was a person in England who might he more emphatically termed, "the right man in the right place," than the adjutant-general of the army; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider his plan of changing officers so often that they really had not time to learn their duties.


said, he also must appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to proceed with this large Vote to-night.


said, the adjutant-general and the quartermaster-general held their appointments under an instrument somewhat different from an ordinary commission; but there could be no question as to the power of the Queen to say whether she preferred to change them or not. If anybody supposed that he had meant to speak of the Staff in the Crimea as inefficient, he had not succeeded in conveying what he really intended to say. What he wished to state was that the Staff in the Crimea were not at first so efficient as the country had expected them to be, forgetting that they had had neither experience nor instruction. They soon, however, taught themselves in the best of all possible schools—that of actual service.


said, that if the Crimean Staff were not efficient, it was the fault of those who had selected them, for there were plenty of officers in the service that had both knowledge and experience. There were many questions raised in this very Vote, which the House ought to have the opportunity of discussing. There were, for instance, the depôt battalions, which were very costly, and which every officer would join in condemning. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not press the Vote that night.


expressed a hope that the Committee would allow the Estimates to he proceeded with.


said, he could not permit £4,500,000 of the public money to be thus dealt with at near one o'clock in the morning.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again," put and agreed to.

House resumed.

Committee report progress, and that they had agreed to a Resolution.

Resolution to be reported on Monday next.

Committee to sit again on Monday next.