§ House in Committee of Supply.
§ Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.
1. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £387,285, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge of the Miscellaneous Charges of Her Majesty's Land Forces at Home and Abroad, exclusive of India, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1861, inclusive:
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he hoped the Secretary for War would give the House some information as to the system of providing chargers for the officers of cavalry regiments. Formerly, each officer found his horse on his own responsibility; but under the new system the horse was provided by the Government, the officer paying a fixed price for it. It appeared, however, that the chargers were furnished from the ordinary service horses of the regiment. He thought that a superior class of animals was required for officers, and should be separately contracted for at a higher rate. The miserable deduction from the forage allowance of officers ought not to be continued.
said, he would beg leave to make a few remarks with reference to the depôt battalions. He was able to say from experience and study that there was but one opinion prevailing with regard to the depôt system. It was truly said that it was the most vicious and demoralising system that could be adopted. They brought together simultaneously a number of young officers and raw recruits in the same barracks, and it was difficult to bring them under control. Belonging to different regiments, unaccustomed to discipline, and destitute of any esprit de corps, these young men, both officers and privates, inevitably acquired habits which proved in after life seriously detrimental to themselves and the service. He had been told by many commanding officers that they looked with alarm to any young officer who came from a depôt battalion, because they said, and with justice, that he was not amenable to the same control and discipline as one who came fresh to his own regiment. There was every reason to believe that the authorities viewed with 1917 doubt and suspicion the policy of the system. He had no hesitation himself in saying that it was the worst and the most expensive which could possibly be imagined. Of course it was not easy to change it suddenly, but as it was not beneficial to the service he hoped that the Vote would not appear again in the Estimates.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished to call the attention of the House to two or throe items in the Vote which this year presented a very large increase. Thus the charge for hospitals was £148,018 this year, against £90,714 last, and deducting the stoppages of pay, the net figures were £45,663 against £5,515. That was an extraordinary difference, and required explanation. So, again, the charge on account of deserters was last year only £3,000, whereas it was now double that sum—a fact which afforded striking evidence of the vast increase that had taken place in the number of desertions. The charge for subsistence of men in civil gaols and military prisons was £12,000 this year against £8,000 last. On page 12 there was an item of £5,321, "Repayment to the Indian Government for the force maintained at Labuan." He had hoped that that settlement had been abandoned. It was formed by a private individual, Sir James Brooke, for his own advantage; and who, finding the speculation an unprofitable one, had endeavoured to get the Government to take it off his hands and pay him a certain sum for it. But the settlement was of no use whatever, and two years ago the Government distinctly stated not only that they had determined to abandon it altogether, but that the Vote then taken was the last that would be asked for on account of it.
§ An HON. MEMBER here remarked that such important Votes ought not to be discussed in the presence of so few Members, and moved that the Committee be counted. Notice, however, being taken that there were forty Members present, the debate was resumed.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, that there was a growing feeling that the system of depôt battalions was not satisfactory, and that impression was felt not only by junior officers, for some of the most experienced officers in the service were opposed to it. Indeed in such a congregation—for they could not be called regiments—it was impossible to have that morale and esprit de corps which were especially necessary at the commence- 1918 ment of the career of a young officer. He did not blame the Government for having adopted the system, because the circumstances of our army were very different from those of other armies, as there were generally three-fourths of the troops serving out of the kingdom, and there was a great difficulty to know what to do with new levies of officers and men. He did not know whether it was expensive, but any system which did not produce a good morale could not be economical. He believed that a commanding officer, a major, and an adjutant were appointed to these battalions, and that they were efficient, but the task imposed upon them was extremely difficult. If the system were found not to succeed he hoped the Government would see the necessity of devising some new arrangement. Nothing like the system of depôts was known in foreign services. In the French army each regiment had three or four battalions, and the field officers were certainly arranged on a much more economical system than ours. There was but one lieutenant-colonel to each regiment; the other field officers wore chefs de bataillon or chefs d'escadron. Some mistakes had been made in the debate of last night as to the number of troops in this country. The number of actual troops of the Line disposable for battle did not much exceed 30,000, but there were about 20,000 recruits in the depôt battalions. If these were so disposed that there would be only a certain proportion of young soldiers and young officers in each battalion, the amount of the disposable force would be very greatly increased. He knew it was a serious operation to change an existing system; but he earnestly hoped that the Secretary for War would seriously consider the expediency of making some alteration in the system of depôt battalions.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
said, he agreed very much in what had been said with regard to the depôt battalions. He had served a great deal with depôts, and he thought the system a very bad one. It brought a great many young officers together without the control of old officers. To establish second battalions might no doubt at first involve a little more expense, but; he did not believe that the system would be found more costly in the long run. The French plan was to have three battalions belonging to each regiment always ready for service, and a fourth, always less numerous than the 1919 others, to serve as a depôt and to feed the rest. The same system prevailed in the Prussian army, and he did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman could do better than to follow the example. There are several points in the Estimate which required explanation. He found that the charge for the depôt battalions had increased from £32,317 for last year to £35,807 this year; and lower down in the Vote there was a further increase for miscellaneous depôots, &c, from £4,185 to £5,797. He found that the levy money in 1860–1 was £42,000, and in 1859–60, £69,000; and yet the charge for marching allowance and cost of conveying recruits, escorts, &c, was £6,000 for the smaller sum, and only £4,000 for the larger. He supposed the increase in the levy money was to be accounted for by an augmentation in the bounty. The total charge for the recruiting staff for the current year was £22,241 against £18,660 last year. Last year the total charge for the purchase of horses was £75,830, this year it was to be £105,030. The cost of remounts in this country was higher than in any other country in the world. It appeared from a Return which he had obtained some time back that the amount voted during the last five years for remounts for the cavalry was no less than £1,054,804, which was an enormous sum. To be sure, in consequence of the Crimean war, the expense in 1856 was £742,688. The following year, 1857–8, it was reduced to £32,978. In 1858–9 it rose again to £98,278. In 1859–60 it was £75,830. In 1860–61 it was £105,030; these items making together the amount he had stated. Now he believed in no foreign army did a horse last for so short a time as in England, and yet nowhere was there better stabling, better forage, or a higher breed of horses. He was surprised that the hon. Member for Lambeth had not perceived that the discrepancy in the hospital charges did not arise from any extravagance, but solely from, causes over which the War Office had no control. He found that last year the estimate for the subsistence and expense on routes of deserters and their escorts, and rewards for the apprehension of deserters, was £3,000, while this year the Estimate was £6,000. Thus it would be seen that the estimate in respect of deserters had doubled. He thought that as the army was so much improved in administration this extra expense was unaccountable. It certainly re- 1920 quired some explanation how it was that, with improved training, improved camps, and a better state of the army generally, they had this large sum in the Vote.
§ Notice taken that Forty Members were not present:—House counted, and Forty Members being found present—
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
proceeded to say that a great increase was likewise observable in the item for subsistence of men in confinement, which for the year 1860–61 amounted to £12,000 as compared with £8,000 in 1859–60. He also found that for the movement of troops last year £129,000 was required, while this year £138,000 was asked for. Now this increase was hardly justifiable. Perhaps the items were in themselves small, but they altogether amounted to a large sum—[Mr. WILLIAMS: Hear, hear!]—and they ought to receive the careful attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War. Under the next head he found that this year for religious books and the carriage thereof the cost would be £3,000, while last year it was only £2,000. Now, unless the army increased very rapidly, this charge ought not to appear in the Votes; and if the right hon. Gentleman had spoken to the Chaplain-General, some steps might be taken to diminish or to put an end to it. The whole cost for five years for moving the troops had been £165,000, and for religious books for the same period it was upwards of £11,000.
said, he wished to draw attention to the question of provisional depôt battalions, not so much as regarded their organization, or their discipline and drill, but as regarded their organization for colonial purposes. These battalions were necessarily mixed up with the system of colonial service. There were some 80,000 men in India, and two-thirds of the army served in the Colonies. The consequence was, that the whole system of reliefs, deranged by the Crimean war and the Indian mutiny, was totally altered, and it would be difficult to keep up, under the present system of organization, the system of relief necessary. With reference to recruiting, although the state might be able to raise sufficient recruits to keep up the efficiency of the army, the great question was, whether they would be able to get the best description of persons. He believed that it would not be so, and that the service had not arrived at that position whereby they would be enabled to get the best of the working classes into the ranks. 1921 It appeared to him that the length of the colonial service had a great deal to do with the general popularity of the service, and that the service in India and in the Colonies was much too long, and the fact would force itself more strongly upon the Government every day that it was impossible to maintain the depôt provisional battalions as at present constituted. On the question of re-enlistment, they all knew the value of old as compared with young soldiers, and it deserved consideration whether some slight addition might not be made with advantage to the pay of old soldiers who were willing to re-enlist. Indian depôt battalions could never, he maintained, be regarded as a force available for the defence of this country. They might number 10,000 or 15,000 men upon paper, but the larger number of these were now about to embark for India, and their places would be filled by raw recruits, whom it would be necessary to instruct. Allowance must at all times be made in the Military Estimates for troops who were actually at sea, and for invalids returning from abroad. Now, what was required in order to give security to the country was, that the number of regiments at home should be adequate to her defence.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, the great source of expense in regard to the army of India was, its transit across the ocean, and the expense would be much greater in future years. Every man sent out to India cost the Government £100 before he was ready to take the field, and the longer therefore that he could be kept there the better. He did not see what practical good could follow from these discussions of the Estimates hour after hour. In consequence of lump sums being inserted, they must trust to the statements of the Secretary for War, for they had no details which were sufficiently full to enable them to judge for themselves, and they certainly had not the means of drawing comparisons between the past and present years. For instance, for the purchase of horses last year £23,000 was required, and this year the Government asked for £38,000, but there was nothing to show what number of horses had been bought. The number ought to be given, "so many horses at such a cost." So as regarded the Staff of the depôt battalions, the Estimates had risen from £32,000 last year, to £35,000. The number of lieutenant-colonels, majors, and adjutants was given for this year, but not 1922 for last, so that it was impossible to institute a comparison. Had the increase taken place in superior officers or in instructors of drill? With respect to hospital expenses, the sum for medicines and treatment of the sick amounted to £44,663. Some explanation as to the increase that had taken place ought to be given, although it was admittedly an item of expense in which less hesitation ought to be shown than in any other. As regarded the administration of martial law, there was a total charge of £4,305 for the Judge Advocate General and his department. The Judge Advocate General had £2,000, and his deputy 1,200 per annum. Were the duties of this department of the army so extensive as to require the services of both of these officers at this cost? Then, as regarded the cost of military prisons, while the cost last year was £50,299, the cost for the ensuing year would be £58,312. Did this mean to imply that there was an increase in the number of military prisons, or a great increase in the number of the prisoners? As regarded the movement of troops, the estimate for those at home last year was £75,000, this year £80,000; land and water carriage in the Colonies, £53,000, this year £64,000; the total being £144,000 for the ensuing as compared with £128,000 last year. Under the head of regimental agency the increase was as £25,000 to £27,500, and the allowances to agents for postages and stationery £1,200 as compared with £1,000. The House ought to have the fullest means of forming their opinion with respect to the propriety of these Estimates, which were increasing from year to year, without the means being afforded of verifying the necessity for the increase.
observed, that he had been for a long time quite opposed to the depôt battalions; but that, having had several opportunities of seeing how they worked, and having heard the speech of an illustrious personage (the Duke of Cambridge) in "another place," who had very clearly pointed out that the proportion of officers and men fit for duty exceeded under the present system that which was furnished by the old four company depôts—he had been led to change his opinion on the point. It was said, indeed, that the present depôts were a bad school for young men; but it was but justice to the officers in command to state that he had perceived a great improvement had taken place in that respect, although it was, per- 1923 haps, desirable that some further modifications should be made with respect to the junior officers. He wished, in the next place, briefly to advert to the extraordinary increase in the item set down in the Estimates for the purchase of horses. Now, while there was so large an addition made to the horses for the Cavalry of the Line, he did not see that there was any corresponding increase in the number of men. He found from a calculation which he had made, founded upon the Estimate, that those for the Household Cavalry would last about eight years, and those for the Cavalry of the Line about six years. The horses for the Artillery would, by the same calculation last four years, and those for the Military Train from three to four years. He might also be permitted for a moment to advert to the boon of allowing the service to make choice of its own chargers. The system of officers selecting their chargers from the ranks certainly did not carry with it all the advantages that might be supposed. He had seen nearly every regiment in the service, and he could not say they rode that class of horses he could wish them to ride. One half the regiment were generally mounted on what were technically called "screws." He thought it would be a greater boon to give cavalry officers forage for their horses without charging them the drawback than the option of taking horses from the ranks. Again, the Vote of £148,000 to defray the expenses of the removal of troops at home, for the last two years, was unnecessarily large. He thought that under that head a great saving might be effected, and a great deal of money was unnecessarily thrown away, and he wished the hon. Member for Lambeth would bring it to a substantial issue, in order to see whether some of these items could not be reduced. He certainly was not for reducing the efficiency of the army, but he was sure if the money were properly applied they might have a far more efficient army.
said, that with reference to the charges on account of the military establishments in the Colonies, both the Colonies and the country should understand that neither the House nor the Government had expressed any opinion in regard to the question of the defence of the Colonies which formed the subject of discussion on the previous evening. In that discussion many of the Colonies had placed to their charge establishments for 1924 the cost of which they should not be at all held liable. He would take the case of Tasmania as an example. Until lately, Tasmania was a convict station. In 1853 it cost, as such, £184,000, and entailed a military expenditure of £64,000 for troops. In 1854, by the decrease in the number of the convicts, the cost of the convict establishment was reduced to £154,000, and that led to a reduction of the military expenditure to £47,000, but in neither case could this colony be charged with the expenditure. The case of Western Australia was the same. In 1853 the military expenditure was £73,000; in 1854 it was reduced to £57,000. It had likewise been decreasing since with the decrease in the number of convicts, and he had no doubt that circumstances would be found in regard to the other colonies which would also exonerate them. He hoped that the Secretary at War would fulfil the promise he made the House last year, in having an annual return supplied, setting forth the sanitary condition of the British troops in their several quarters.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he would endeavour to answer the questions, as far as he could, in the order in which they had been put to him. With respect to the question raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Devizes (Mr. D. Griffith), he had no doubt that the experiment of providing officers' horses from the ranks, by way of diminishing their expenses, would on trial be advantageous; but still some modifications in details might be required, and a suggestion had been made that a higher class of horses should be bought, with a view to be taken at a higher price by cavalry officers. The hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Sir E. Smith) had moved for a return, which had not yet been printed, of the cost of cavalry horses in this country. Some surprise had been elicited by there being an increase of the charge for cavalry horses this year as compared with last. But it should be recollected, in the first place, that they had two regiments of cavalry coming home from India which it was necessary to remount; and the estimate for horses must vary every year. When the Estimates were framed it was pretty well known what was the deficiency in horses. That, of course, must be replaced; at the same time, there was the ordinary charge for replacing cavalry horses every year, and by combining these two they got the probable expense, of course fluctuating in 1925 amount. With regard to the condition of the horses, it was true that they lasted longer in some regiments than in others. In the Military Train especially, the horses were used up more rapidly than in any other portion of the service, because they did an enormous amount of labour. They were used in the arsenals, and performed a great deal of heavy work, and he had no doubt that those horses were used up to a much greater extent than horses which were not subjected to the same amount of labour. It was also quite true that our horses cost more than in foreign armies, and, according to the gallant Officer, did not last so long. They could, however, always purchase horses abroad cheaper than in England. The article, perhaps, was not so good; but it was cheaper. On the other hand, he believed all classes in this country, civil as well as military, used up their horses sooner than people abroad. We drove at a greater pace; our horses were capable of going at a greater pace; they could do more, and more was got out of them; the consequence was that they were sooner used up. These facts, combined, accounted for that difference which he should expect à priori to exist with reference to the charge for horses, though I am unable to speak as to the fact. With respect to a question put by his hon. Friend (Mr. Williams) as to a considerable increase in hospital expenses, it was said that was a sign of a greater degree of sickness in the army. He stated on a previous occasion that there had been a marked improvement in the health of the army, and that the amount of mortality and sickness had decreased. During the last two or three years there had been great improvements effected in the construction and accommodation of hospitals. These alterations were excellent in themselves, and tended to increase the efficiency of the army; but they all cost money. He had been asked to explain die cause of the increased charge for escorts to deserters. These Estimates were certainly very difficult to frame. The Estimates for future years had to be calculated according to the degree with which in practice the actual expenditure exceeded or fell short of the Vote taken the year before. In 1858–9, the year before last, there were 7,547 men lost to the service by desertion. In the year 1859–60, the number fell to 4,652. There was every reason to believe that that diminution would be maintained in the present year; but it was necessary in 1926 framing the Estimate to take an average of previous years. The increased charge for imprisonments was duo to the same cause; they, had to correct the Estimate of the coming year by the expenditure of the one preceding. With regard to the movement of troops, all military officers held it to be of great disadvantage to allow troops to remain very long quartered in the same place. It led them to enter into too intimate relations with the civil population, and contracted what was the despair of all who had to do with the army—namely, marriages. The soldier who married with permission and his wife either lived in a barrack-room with many other men—a system hardly compatible with decency, or the country had to build separate quarters for married soldiers and their families, which certainly enhanced their comfort and their cost too. These separate quarters had already been provided at Portsmouth, and the same course was being steadily pursued at other places. Next year he hoped to see the arrangement extended to Woolwich. Considering that the men entered the service at eighteen and could leave at twenty-eight, he could not see that there was an}' great necessity for their getting married at all; but if they did so it certainly added materially to the expense of the army. This year, however, he had made a reduction in the Vote for the removal of troops, because it had been found on examination that the expenditure under this head was usually in excess of the Vote, and care had been taken to secure accuracy in the present Estimates, although it might nominally appear high in amount. The pay of a Lieutenant-General had been struck off at Malta. That fact was accounted for in this way:—There had lately been at Malta a Governor, Sir Gaspard le Marchant; and a Lieutenant General in command of the forces, General Pennefather. It was thought better that the plan of placing the civil and military Government in the hands of one person, which was found to work well at Gibraltar, might be adopted at Malta, and the united functions had accordingly been entrusted to Sir Gaspard le Marchant and General Pennefather had received other employment in England. It had been asked why the stockpurse of the Guards remained identically at the same sum. The reason was that the Guards themselves remained at identically the same number. Some complaint had been made that these Estimates were not minute 1927 enough in their details. He thought many of them were already extremely minute, and, indeed, it was often asked, "What is a man to do with all this enormous mass of figures?" He believed as a matter of fact, that the Estimates would be more generally intelligible if given in less detail. To use a vulgar phrase, far more Members were "choked" by the present mass of details than were starved by their insufficiency. There were very few of the proposals made night after night with regard to the army which, if adopted, would not involve an increased expenditure; and if he were to yield, as the representative of the Government, to all the suggestions made to him with respect to these Estimates, he believed that balancing the cost from some with the saving from others, the pecuniary gain to the country would be nil. Different branches of the army had been put upon a better and higher footing; but each branch thought itself injured because others had had a particular grievance removed while its own case had not been dealt with. Thus, the expense of the army increased to an extent that was very dangerous, because if they were to have a very costly army they must make up their minds to have a very small one. He frankly avowed that he thought it most important to keep down our military expenditure as far as possible. A question had been put to him with regard to the sanitary Reports. A director of the medical department of the army had been appointed, who devoted his attention to such subjects and to the sanitary satisfies of the service. A sanitary Report had been drawn up, and the moment it was ready it would be laid upon the table. He hoped also to be able to produce before the close of the Session another most important document—the Report of the Barrack Commission, which was now in draught, and which would exhibit, in the greatest detail, the state of the various barracks in the United Kingdom. The question as to depôt battalions had been discussed by hon. Gentlemen in a very fair spirit. Of course on such a subject he could not speak with any authority. He had had no experience of it, but some of the points in dispute were perfectly obvious. The pamphlet that had been published anonymously, but with the sanction of a gallant Officer opposite, and which was attributed to a high authority that none had greater respect for than he had, itself admitted that for effecting relief depôt battalions were of great advan- 1928 tage. Four company depôots existed when he was himself first officially connected with the army. The feeling against them was then as strong as that now entertained against depôt battalions. It was said they were only a refuge for officers who shrank from colonial duties, that they fostered idleness, laxity, and a want of discipline. But distance "lends enchantment to the view," and now four company depôts were much praised and set up in contrast to the modern depôt battalions. He had heard the discussion on this subject in "another place" to which allusion had been made, and he thought the best of the argument certainly lay with the Commander in Chief. If they divided the regiments into two battalions, and made one whole battalion the depôt for the other, they got a better organization for the other battalions. And, again, if they divided the regiments into three, they would get two battalions that would be very good. But let them not imagine that that change would not be costly, because, if they divided a regiment from two into three battalions, they must have a still larger Staff with an increased proportion of field officers. That alteration would probably add from £20,000 to £50,000 to their expenditure. What was our position as regarded a foreign war? We had a great Colonial Empire, and also the part of the Empire at home to defend, leading to one-third of our men being at home, and two-thirds abroad. But if war broke out, it was to their fleet that they must look for the defence of the Colonies, while it was to the interest of the country to have some of their best battalions at home. Under the two battalion system, however, if the battalion at home was always to be the feeder of the battalion abroad, we should have little but raw levies at home; while all our seasoned troops would be in the Colonies. When the Guards went to Canada, one battalion remained at home to feed the other, and very effectually it fed it; but what was the result as to that battalion? Out of 640 men only 400 were fit for duty. A second battalion at home would be the depôt for the other, and the men in it could never be as well seasoned as those who formed the battalion on foreign service. It was true that there were a good many young officers at these depôt battalions, but that evil had been diminished by an order of the Commander in Chief, and it must be remembered that neither the captains nor lieutenants were young officers. For these reasons it ap- 1929 peared to him that there was not sufficient evidence upon which to condemn the depôt battalion system; and he should be sorry to see it abandoned for the system of second battalions, which, as far as he was informed, would be more costly and less efficient. The gallant Officer the Member for Wesminster (Sir De Lacy Evans) complained that we had too many field officers, and instanced the French system as being more economical in this respect. The fact, however, was that in the French army there were more field officers compared with the number of men than there were in ours. In our army there were three field officers to a regiment of 1,077 men, while in that of Franco there were six in a regiment of 1,920 men; thus, in the French army there was one field officer to every 320 men, while in ours there was only one field officer to every 359 men. He should be sorry to see any great reduction in the number of field officers, because one great hardship arising from the constitution of armies was the small proportion of employment which you had for officers of the upper grades. In each regiment there were 10 or 12 ensigns, and 10 or 12 lieutenants, who became 12 captains, and then had to be reduced somehow or other into two majors and a lieutenant-colonel.
§ COLONEL STUART
said, he hoped the Secretary at War would be able to inform the Committee that it was likely some arrangement would be soon made by which soldiers undergoing sentences would be placed under military discipline, instead of being made the associates of thieves and other abandoned characters in a common prison.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, there was one item in the Vote to which he felt compelled to take exception, namely, that of £5,321 for repayment to the Indian Government for the force maintained at Labuan. Sir James Brooke had taken possession of that district upon speculation for his own advantage, and for some time held it unconnected with the Government. Finding, however, that it was not a profitable speculation, he had endeavoured to induce the Government to take to it. A long discussion had taken place on the subject a few years ago, and it was then stated by Government that they expected that would be the last time the House would be called upon to vote the amount. He should therefore move that the Vote be reduced by the amount of that item.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, the station was useful as a coal depôt, and might become of considerable importance in carrying on the operations against China. The amount was £429 less than last year, and it was required for the payment of expenses already incurred.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that the idea of sending vessels to Labuan for coal was ridiculous, and he trusted the House would not throw money away on a station which was of no earthly use.
Whereupon Motion made, and Question put,—
That the item of £5,321, for repayment to the Indian Government for tile Force maintained at Labuan, be omitted from the proposed Vote.
§ The Committee divided.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
was appointed one of the Tellers for the Ayes, but no Member appearing to be a second Teller for the Ayes, the Chairman declared the Noes had it.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2). £220,000 to complete the sum for the Embodied Militia,
said, that at present the Militia was in a most unsatisfactory state. No regiment knew what was to become of it. The system of twenty-eight days' drill was a perfect farce. The men were not forthcoming when they were wanted. If the Militia were put on a proper footing, they might have a great reduction in the expense of the army, coupled with greater efficiency. Unless he received an intimation that the Militia was to be placed under a better system of organization he should move a reduction of the Votes.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he had had some experience of the working of the organization of the Militia, and he had come to an opposite conclusion to that at which his hon. and gallant Friend had arrived. It was complained that some regiments were disbanded, while others were kept in training, but that was a matter which must be regulated by consideration for the public advantage. He believed that that the Militia force were at all times prepared to do their duty, whether embodied or disembodied.
§ COLONEL SMYTH
said, he should support the Vote, believing it to be necessary that the Militia should be embodied, in order that they might acquire a knowledge of the duties they were required to perform. For that purpose, however, he 1931 would recommend that the drills in the first year should be prolonged to eight or ten weeks. The training of soldiers was in the present day more scientific than it used to he, and it was impossible to make a man properly march, move about, and use the delicate weapon now placed in the soldier's hand in twenty-eight days.
perfectly concurred with what had been stated by his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War on a former occasion. He did not think that the Militia should be embodied in a time of peace; they should be kept as an army of reserve in time of war and embodied only on occasions of great emergency. Twenty-one or twenty-eight days' training was not sufficient to make the Militia good troops; but if in the first year they were sent to camps of instruction for three or four months, then twenty-eight days in the year would be sufficient afterwards to keep up the knowledge of what they had learnt. The hon. and gallant Member for Limerick (Colonel Dickson) complained of the want of notice to regiments of their intended disembodiment. He was of opinion that if the Government gave them a longer notice than usual of their disembodiment it would be impossible to keep up the necessary discipline. He thought that the advantages of a good Militia could not be overrated, and that the time would soon come when this question of an efficient Militia would become one of the most serious consideration.
explained. All he intended to say was this, that if three or four regiments were embodied they could reckon with security upon a greater number of the Militia being always ready when called upon. Under the present system officers did not know that they had men to command, and the men did not know that they had officers to command them. Scarcely half the number came up last year for training as was expected. He had himself to disembody upwards of 1,000 men three months go, and he was convinced that only about half the number would come up if called upon the next day. His own regiment was perhaps the only regiment in the south of Ireland that did not show strong symptoms of mutiny. Much dissatisfaction was felt at the system that took men suddenly from their homos and as suddenly dismissed them. He thought that three months' good drill in one year would suffice for three years. He was anxious to 1932 see the Militia placed upon a more satisfactory footing than it was at present.
§ MAJOR PARKER
said, he wished to urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War the propriety and importance of altering the present system, so as to prevent the loss and inconvenience to the men themselves of calling them out, in the agricultural districts particularly, at seasons of the year when they were receiving good wages for their labour, and when their services were of the utmost value to the farmer. If that could be avoided no doubt a greater number of men would be induced to enlist.
§ LORD FERMOY
thought there was only one safe and sound principle to act upon in the disembodiment of the Militia, namely, to take them in the same rotation as that in which they were called out. He could not agree with the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Colonel opposite, that the Militia should be called out for drill during three or four months. It would be impossible to keep artisans and other men of fixed habits three or four months from their homes. The best system of national defence was the Volunteer system. He thought the Government were quite wrong in not sanctioning the introduction of the Volunteer system into Ireland. A large body of men could be picked out by any one who understood the country, and would prove most loyal.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
said, he thought economy would be promoted by appointing retired paymasters officers of Militia.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
said, the question was, how best to provide an army of reserve in case of invasion, it being on all hands admitted that the number of regular troops was, and must be, small. Now, having been for many years employed in the training of troops, he was quite convinced that twenty-one or twenty-eight days were quite insufficient to effect this object. In that time a man learnt next to nothing, and went back as little of a soldier as when he left home. If, however, you first of all made a militiaman thoroughly master of his business by training him for five or six months, no further drill would be necessary for two or three years. When men were harassed by being called out for twenty-eight days' training year after year, their regular habits were disturbed, and, after all, they were not made good soldiers.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he thought scant 1933 justice had been done to the only constitutional force in this country—the Militia. He believed that militiamen had the same physique and the same "pluck" as soldiers of the Line; and, as an old adjutant, he could say that a shorter time was required to enable a man to go through the regular parade drill than was generally supposed. The chief point was to give them confidence and train them in the use of the musket. This was of far greater importance than merely teaching them the goose step. It should be remembered that the battles of the French Republic were all won by men who had not been drilled at all, but who, though only recruits, beat the highly-drilled Austrians. Too much reliance, therefore, ought not to be placed on mere mechanism. If men possessed enthusiasm they would do anything, and he did not, therefore, under-estimate the Militia, as it appeared to be under-estimated in that House.
§ COLONEL STUART
complained of the disappointment felt by young officers who had raised the proper proportion of men for the Militia, in the hope of getting a commission. When men were much wanted, hopes were held out that commissions would be granted; but after the number of men required had been raised it was found that commissions were not easily got. He suggested that a certain number of commissions should be set aside to be given to young Militia officers under certain conditions. He also thought that some steps should be taken for the more effectual punishment of de-sorters from Militia regiments, and that the time they were away from the regiment should be deducted from their period of service. Complaints were also made in the large agricultural counties that the Militia were called out at an inconvenient period of the year, and that insufficient means were taken to advertise the place and the time at which the men were to be drilled.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he wished to ask what number of men they were to have for the £300,000 to be voted. He quite concurred in the expediency of calling out the Militia at a convenient period of the year. Inattention to this matter discouraged the labourers and fanners to such a degree that they refused to enlist after the expiry of their term.
said, the statements brought forward in the course of the debate had been so curious and conflicting as 1934 to leave doubts whether we had a Militia at all, and whether the men referred to were real men or only appeared on paper. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War would excuse him for asking what his whole number should be on paper, how many of all ranks were embodied, and how many had enlisted in the course of the last twelve months into the Line.
said, that with reference to a statement made by the hon. and gallant Colonel opposite (Colonel Dickson) he wished to observe that though a Militia regiment in the south of Ireland mutinied in a moral point of view, yet they did not realty mutiny. The men were exasperated at the harsh manner in which they were treated by the authorities, and the uncertainty of the regulations. He alluded particularly to the North Tipperary Regiment, which was the only regiment in which any symptoms of insubordination had been shown.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), that the discussion had not shown any great amount of unanimity on the part of those who had engaged in it as to the manner in which the Militia should be constituted. He would, however, remind the Committee that the Vote before them was for the embodied Militia, while they had been discussing He disembodied. He had prepared Returns showing the number of men who had deserted to the Line and how many had joined the Line with the consent of their officers, which Returns would give full information as to the embodied Militia. The number of Militia last year was 70,000, of whom 25,000 were embodied, and the remainder, 45,000, disembodied. He also thought that the object of the force had been mistaken by those who sought to make the Militia as efficient as men of the Line. It was neither the desire nor the intention of the, Government to make the Militia as efficient as the Line, for, if they did, the men would be unfitted for Militia service. He could not approve of the suggestion that militiamen should be taken out of their counties for three or four months for the purpose of being drilled. The employers of labour would feel greatly aggrieved if that course were adopted. It had been stated by a gallant Officer opposite (Colonel Stuart) that much inconvenience arose from the time of the year at which the Militia were called out. 1935 The Commission reported that it would be a great advantage if the regiments could all be called out as nearly as possible at the same time, and they were told that the best time for doing so would be the month of May, before the hay harvest commenced, when the men could be best spared. This could not perhaps be universally adhered to, as the hay harvest was found to be later as they went north. In the northern counties the month of June would probably be the most convenient season, and in Scotland still later. If the regiments were called out in winter, as had been suggested, the short days and bad weather would prevent their having the same facilities for training that they had in May. The gallant Officer opposite had also suggested that it would be of advantage to give commissions without purchase to Militia officers who brought a certain number of men over to the Line. He must say, however, that he hoped they would soon be able to discontinue, to a great extent, the embodied Militia. The return of soldiers from India and other places would, he hoped, enable them to do this. The best thing they could do for the Militia was to let them alone—to follow the old constitutional system of never calling them out, except on great emergencies. Those who served in embodied regiments were a class of men who liked the service, but preferred the five years of the Militia to the ten of the Line. These men would go into the Line. On the other hand, if a regiment of Militia when disembodied was filled with men of fixed habits well known in their counties, they might be depended upon in circumstances of danger, but if they were to be made permanent soldiers they would have nothing to do with the Militia. The original design of the Militia, that they should be a disembodied force, only trained annually for service, was that which ought to be adhered to. The question, therefore, put to him about recruiting for the Militia fell to the ground. When the ill-treatment of the Militia was asserted, he agreed with hon. Gentleman who declared that the Militia were ill-used, but did not agree with them as to the manner in which they were ill-used. It must be heartrending to those Lieutenant-colonels who prided themselves on the efficiency and appearance of their regiments to see their best men taken from them for the Line. With regard to the notice given to officers of the disembodiment of their Militia, he agreed with the 1936 right hon. Gentleman (General Peel). Some officers asked for an early notice, but others, on the contrary, deprecated a too early announcement of their disembodiment, for they said it unsettled their men, and rendered them disinclined to perform their duties.
said, he wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman that he had not answered the question of the hon. Member for Sussex (Mr. Dodson) as to the number of the Militia the Vote would provide. Unless the Militia were disembodied immediately, it was doubtful whether the Government would have the money to pay the men voted by Parliament. The object of calling out the Militia was to represent the Line, and to make up for them, and as soon as the regiments arrived from India the whole of the Militia regiments must be disembodied. The Government had not taken money for more than the troops that had been voted by Parliament. He had heard for the first time that night that three or four Irish regiments had been in a state of mutiny, and he had been very much surprised at the statement.
§ COLONEL HERBERT
said, he thought it desirable that the attention of Parliament should be directed to the small force of troops now in the United Kingdom. Striking out the depôts there were only thirty-three regiments of the Line at home. Adding to them the seven battalions of Foot Guards, we could not turn out more than 28,000 or 29,000 men, which was not a sufficient force to act as a nucleus for the defence of our shores. The embodied Militia mustered about 17,000 men. Was there any prospect of receiving 17,000 regular troops to supply their place at the end of the financial year? Two regiments of infantry were on their way from India. [Mr. SIDNEY HERBERT: Six of infantry and two of cavalry.] Yes, two regiments of infantry were actually on their way, and four more were expected. They might muster altogether 4,000 men. The China war was now an accepted fact, and there was no chance of those regiments that had been suspended in mid air coming home. Those six regiments were the only troops upon which we could rely to reinforce our home army and to supply the loss of 17,000 embodied Militia. This was a point well deserving attention, and he hoped that the Secretary for War would state what were the views of the Government on this point.
said, there was an 1937 old saying that, if they wanted to roast an Irishman, they could always get another Irishman to turn the spit. He did not think that his observations should have called forth such a host of antagonists. He would not be guilty of the bad taste of making any comparison between his own and other regiments. That was a matter to be judged of by the superior officer. He did not say that his regiment was the only regiment that was not in a state of mutiny, but he said that his own regiment was the only regiment in the south of Ireland at that time disembodied that did not show symptoms of discontent, or break out into a state of mutiny. That occurred in 1856, at the close of the Crimean war, when the Militia had great reason to complain of the way in which they were treated by the Government. It was actually proposed to send the men out of the barrack-yards without clothes.
said that, when he was Secretary of War, he had never heard of any case of mutiny on the disembodiment of the Irish Militia regiments.
explained, that he was not talking of the time when the gallant General was Secretary of War.
§ COLONEL HERBERT
said, he recollected that in 1856, when the regiments were disembodied, a promise was made that they should receive 14s. each man; but that an order was subsequently issued stating instead of 14s. they were to have 4s. then, and 10s. at a later period, and that every man went away stating that the treatment was bad, and that faith had not been kept with them. That caused great difficulty in the way of recruiting for the Line, and he hoped no such practice would again be followed.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
remarked that he could not understand the discrepancies between the statements of the gallant Officers and the number of men voted by the House. Last year, for instance, 136,906 men were voted, and that, allowing 40,000 as being on Colonial Service, there ought to be 97,000 men in the United Kingdom. The late Secretary for War (General Peel) stated on the previous evening that, though the whole numbers were not on paper, they were actually raised; but the gallant Officer who had just spoken asserted that there were in the country only 33 battalions, numbering less than 33,000 men. He wanted to know what really was the strength of the home force. This year they had voted 145,000 men, and yet they 1938 were told the defences of the country were insufficient. If there were only 33,000 men in the country, he must say he thought that force was insufficient for the defence of our shores.
§ COLONEL HERBERT
said, what he had said was that there were at the present moment in the United Kingdom only 33 regular battalions of the Line, or 40 with the addition of the Foot Guards. There were 18,000 men in the depôts belonging to Indian regiments, including invalids who had come homo, recruits not yet trained, and recruits who, having been trained, wore on the eve of departure. The depôts of regiments at home or in the Colonies amounted to about 12,000. The Artillery force at home amounted to 14,000, the Cavalry to 10,000, and the Militia to 17,000. The total, therefore, was about 70,000 or 71,000. Rut what he wished to press on the attention of the House was that the depôts wore not available to meet the enemy. They were not fit to bear the shock of battle. The idea that they formed a force which the country could rely on as the nucleus of our home defences, if we were seriously attacked, was an utter delusion and imposition, although he was sorry to say it had met with encouragement in high quarters. The only infantry troops that could be put forward to meet a foreign army were the regular battalions, which, including the Foot Guards, were only 40 in number, and could not turn out more than 30,000 men. With a proper force of regular battalions, and a large contingent of Militia, the officers of the British army would be perfectly ready to meet the troops of any other country; but the reputation of our arms and the safety of our country were not secure as long as the force that could fairly be called on to meet the foe was confined to some 40 battalions, which did not number 1,000 men
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
held that if the depôt battalions were perfectly useless, as the gallant Officer had just told them, they were throwing away money in paying for them.
repeated what he had stated on the previous evening, that the number of men proposed to be voted for the whole army was 228,854, including the force on the East India establishment, and that not only was every man raised, but the force in existence at this moment was actually in excess of that number. He 1939 made that statement on the authority of the War Office Returns.
said, he included in his calculation the depôts of regiments. He admitted they were not as efficient as the regular battalions, but that could not be avoided in a large army.
§ COLONEL HERBERT
said, that he questioned, not the accuracy of the figures, but the soundness of the conclusions of the late and present Secretary for War he repeated that in including in their Estimate not only the depôts of regiments at home, but those of regiments on Indian and Colonial service, with such an overwhelming proportion of recruits and so largo a number of invalids, they gave a very false idea of the strength of the army available for the defence of the country.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £34,000 to complete the sum for the Volunteer Corps.
§ SIR WILLIAM MILES
said, he regretted the absence of the hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel) who had given notice of an Amendment on this Vote. In the meantime he wished to say a few words as to the condition of the Yeomanry force. It was impossible to imagine that a force could be efficient which was only called out once in three years, for the horses required to be kept in training, as well as the men. At the last muster of his men he had eighty recruits out of a regiment of 380, and of these eighty, thirty were mounted on two-year old horses. No doubt, the intelligence and zeal of these men enabled them to become efficient in an extraordinarily short space of time, but still the want of being called out threw great difficulties in their way. He had hoped that the Government would have placed in the hands of the Yeomanry the improved breech-loading rifle, with a range of 800 yards, and he believed that if they were provided with such a weapon they would make a most efficient mounted rifle corps. With the common smooth-bore carbine, which they now used, having the ridiculous range of eighty or 100 yards only, he had seen excellent practice made, and with a superior weapon he had no doubt they would turn out excellent marksmen. In 1803 the total number of Volunteers, Artillery, Riflemen, Cavalry, Yeomanry, and Infantry, was no less than 319,000, At the present 1940 time there were 14,000 enrolled Yeomanry and 130,000 Riflemen. They were not under the same war pressure as in 1807, and he had no doubt of the success of the present volunteer movement, seeing what had already been done. He had no doubt that, as hitherto, the Rifle corps and the Yeomanry would continue to co-operate without the slightest approach to jealousy. He hoped, however, that the embodied Yeomanry corps would be placed upon such a footing that they might not disgrace themselves when called upon to act for the common defence of the country. The regiment of Yeomanry which he had the honour to command had been called out in aid of the civil power since 1804, seven times as a regiment, and sixty-nine times in divisions, squadrons, or troops. He supposed that other regiments had been called out as frequently, and he therefore thought the Yeomanry had done good service.
said, the Government were, by every means in their power, endeavouring to forward the volunteer movement, and he entirely agreed that they could not forward or foster it too much; but, while doing so, they were completely putting an extinguisher, for the present at least, upon the Yeomanry Cavalry. If the country was in such a state as to require the aid of the volunteers, he thought they ought at such a time to take every means in their power to make the other forces as efficient as possible. He should press upon the right hon. Gentleman the necessity of properly arming the Yeomanry if they were to continue them. They would become a most efficient force if armed with the breech-loading rifle, for the practice he had seen with that weapon at 800 yards was perfectly marvellous. He was sorry the Government did not intend to call them out, and if they would not take the matter into consideration and postpone the Vote he should feel bound to divide upon it.
§ MR. SELWYN
said, he wished to repeat a suggestion he made last year with a view to increasing the efficiency of the Volunteer Rifle corps. He had then called attention to the great difficulty experienced by the Volunteers in obtaining proper practice grounds. The difficulty still existed, but it could be lessened or obviated without the expenditure of a single shilling of public money. It was found impossible to form an efficient Rifle corps except in a populous neighbourhood. For a proper prac- 1941 tice ground a long range was required in the immediate vicinity of the place where the corps was raised. But rights of way and the number of proprietors rendered it difficult to obtain such a practice ground, and he would suggest that a short Act should be passed, giving, at all events, permissive powers to Rifle corps to acquire land, and embodying the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, at the same time providing that the inspector of Volunteers or the Secretary of State and also some local authority should first agree on the necessity of the acquisition of the ground, and on its proper selection. If there were any objection to compulsory powers, there could be none to permissive powers being given, and the very fact of there being these powers would put a stop to many of the vexatious claims which were now raised. That course had been pursued in respect to other undertakings, such as docks, railways, and canals, and the importance of Rifle corps was sufficiently acknowledged to authorize its being adopted for the purpose to which he had alluded. He agreed, however, with the Secretary of State, that it would be unadvisable to make any grant of public money for the purpose, as it would lead to the exaggeration of these claims and a waste of the public revenue. He hoped, too, that greater facilities would be given for enabling members of Volunteer corps to go through a course of training in the Government schools of musketry.
§ SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL
said, he had commanded a regiment of cavalry during the Indian mutiny, and they had used Sharpe's breech-loading rifles, but they wore found to be totally useless. He did not, therefore, think that the efficiency of any corps would be increased by being-supplied with those weapons.
said, everybody knew those rifles had signally failed, but Westley Richards' breech-loading rifle was as efficient an arm as could be desired.
§ MR. DEEDES
said, it was notorious that the arms with which the Yeomanry had been supplied were perfectly useless, for it was only by knowing the particular points of each weapon and making allowance for it, that anything like precision of aim was attainable. The Government had supplied the volunteer Riflemen with the most efficient weapon that could be had, and the Yeomanry ought to be treated in the same manner. One of the effects of not calling out the Yeomanry this year would be that the recruits who had joined 1942 since the last training would not get the benefit of exemption from the horse duty.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman, under the advice of what military authority the addition of 200 foot riflemen had been made I to the Wiltshire Yeomanry Cavalry, and to what fund in the Estimates had the expenses of their equipment been charged? This mixture of forces had always been condemned by the highest military authorities, and it had given great dissatisfaction in Wiltshire.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
I do not at all object to the question put to me by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Devizes (Mr. D. Griffith). His impression, I think, is that some addition has been made to the corps of Wiltshire Yeomanry beyond its quota, and that some exceptional favour has been shown to it. That is not the case, because the establishment of the corps is 583, officers and men. They have 400 effectives of privates and non-commissioned officers, so that there is a considerable margin within which these men may be recruited, without passing the prescribed establishment. This plan of attaching to a cavalry regiment a certain number of men armed with rifles was suggested by the colonel of the regiment, and was submitted to Sir J. Scarlett, at that time in command at Portsmouth, who reviewed the regiment last year. It is not for me to say whether he considered the regiment to be in a high state of efficiency or not, but he was a good deal taken with this plan of Lord Aylesbury's, and he expressed his opinion that it deserved a trial. Application was made to the Commander-in-Chief for permission to try the experiment, and the Commander-in-Chief replied that it would be well worth while to make it in case the corps desired to do so. That is the whole history of the transaction; but there has been no excess, and no charge incurred by the Government. The next question is as to the horse duty. I think, if my hon. Friend (Mr. Deedes) will look at the last paragraph of Lord Grey's letter he will find it stated that the intention of the Government is, that the Yeomanry shall be allowed the duty for the year 1861, ending the 5th April, 1862, although they are not to be called out for duty. They were exempted last year because they were called out for training the year before, and they will be exempted this year. I stated last evening that the Government had no intention of 1943 discontinuing the services of the Yeomanry—they entertain too high a sense of the value of a force which time has shown to be efficient, and which in successive years has kept up to pretty nearly the same strength, so that we may always depend on having 14,000 or 15,000 men. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Knox) has spoken of my sincerity in encouraging the volunteer movement. I have certainly done my best to give the Volunteers what encouragement lay in my power, and I am well rewarded by seeing them attain to such numbers and such a degree of efficiency as could not have been anticipated by any person when the movement first commenced. Still I do not think there is any reason why the Yeomanry should be sacrificed. We do not want to exchange old lamps for new; I have great faith that the new lamps will burn long and brightly, but I know that the old ones also have burnt continuously and well. The suggestion of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Selwyn) well deserves consideration. I very much objected to the proposal which was made, that Government should give aid to the 500 or 1,000 corps already in existence in the purchase of rifle ranges. In many cases these can be procured on the sea coast, at no great cost; but in the neighbourhood of large towns the matter is by no means so easy, and it is wonderful what an increased value attaches to land once it has been looked at by a Government surveyor. I have calculated that it would cost something like a million to procure ranges for all the different corps, and certainly the appearance in the Estimates for the year of a million for this purpose would not have increased the admiration of the public for the gratuitous service which forms so large a portion of the merit of the volunteer system. I hope the explanation which I have given may be satisfactory to the officers of Yeomanry corps. I shall be very glad to issue improved arms to them, but as yet the cavalry of the Line are not fully armed. Great difficulty has been found in procuring breech-loading carbines of the best construction; and certainly the experience which we have had in the case of Sharpe's carbine has shown how necessary it is not merely to trust to the ordinary trials at butts, but that the weapon shall undergo the test of actual service. We hope that Mr. Westley Richards may be more successful, and we have sent some to China to be tested.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, that, as an old Yeomanry officer, he was glad to hear the statement just made by the Secretary of State for War, but he would at the same time venture to call his attention to the competion at present taking place between the Yeomanry Corps and the new mounted Volunteer Rifles. He had always believed that the efficiency of the Yeomanry could be improved by a better system of inspection, tending to develope the peculiar qualities and merits of the force. In the towns there could be no collision between the Yeomanry and the Volunteers, but in the country the new corps must come into competition with the Yeomanry—first, as to their officers, who would be drawn from exactly the same class; and next as to the men. In the one case these would be required to find themselves in everything, and to sacrifice a considerable amount of valuable time, while in the other accoutrements and weapons would be found them, they would be freed from horse duty, and would likewise receive pay during the period they were called out for service. At the very time that the two forces were thus brought into competition, the Government, by not calling out the Yeomanry, created an impression that it was their wish to favour the new Mounted Rifleman, The ratio of armed men was now 15 in 1,000 of the general population, and was rapidly increasing, while a few years ago it had only been 10 in 1,000. It was, therefore, obvious that in future the volunteer element must be largely relied upon, and it became important to lay down at the outset some clear and consistent plan of action.
§ MR. KNIGHT
said, there was a strong feeling that the Volunteers had not been liberally dealt with, for only £15,000 had been voted towards the maintenance of that force, in lieu of the £35,000 usually devoted to the Yeomanry, which this year were not to be called out. Government gave £20,000 less than usual, though it had 120,000 additional men under arms for the protection of the country. The Volunteers did not ask for pay when they were called out, but if the Government intended that the corps should be continued they ought at least to be provided with that instruction and organization which he had understood was promised. They were, he might add, when they had first sprung into existence, on good terms with all other corps, although perhaps some little jea- 1945 lousy between them and the Militia and Yeomanry might since have arisen.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that as one who was an earnest Volunteer, he wished to protest against the supposition that any ill-feeling towards either the Yeomanry or the Militia existed on the part of that body. For his own part he greatly regretted the disbandment of some of the Militia regiments, and the fact that the Yeomanry were not called out, inasmuch as he had no doubt that such conduct was likely to lead to feelings of irritation. The only hope and wish of the Volunteer Rifles was to be a useful auxiliary force to the other branches of the service—the regular Army and the Militia. He might further observe that he should wish to see his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War directing his attention to the expediency of making a combined force of the Yeomanry and Volunteers—the former being constituted mounted rifles. He should, he might add, be sorry that the impression should go forth that the breech-loader was a failure, the fact being that he could state from his own experience, that that of Mr. W. Richards had proved most successful with respect to accuracy of range and facility of loading. He should, before he sat down, wish to call the attention of the Committee to a letter on the subject of Volunteer Corps emanating from a high military authority, who was supposed to be unfavourable to their organization. He meant Sir John Burgoyne, who, in the letter to which he referred, stated that nothing could be more unjust than to include him among the "professional old bigots" who despised the volunteer movement, from which, on the contrary, he anticipated great things. He saw at the same time, however, many-grave disadvantages under which they laboured, and he believed that his desire to lessen those disadvantages, and place the force in the best position, had given some grounds for believing that he wished to crush it. He did not, however, at all wish to support the notion that when we had say 300,000 Volunteers, we should have no necessity for any other force, because they by their bravery and skill would be enabled to hover round and destroy any enemy. Now, he (Lord Elcho) had not the slightest desire to see the Volunteers supersede the regular army, and it was, he confessed, with something like dismay that he had heard it stated by an hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite that we had in this country only 30,000 regular troops 1946 upon which to rely in case of need. ["Infantry."] Yes, Infantry, inclusive of the Guards. [Mr. OSBORNE: But not the Marines.] Be that as it might, he could not allow the present opportunity to pass without expressing his thanks to his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War for the zeal and kindness which he had invariably exhibited in the cause of the Volunteer corps, and also to his noble Friend who held the office of Under Secretary in the War Department, to whose hands the management of matters connected with those corps had been committed, and who, in the discharge of his duties in that capacity, had shown the utmost tact and judgment, as well as anxiety for the success of the movement—he might add, the utmost freedom from anything like red-tapeism.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished to know the reason for the charge of £3 a man for contingent and clothing charges for 14,000 Yeomanry, when it was said that they were not to be called out this year. There were other items swelling the total amount to £88,000. It seemed extraordinary to expend this amount on a body of men who were not to be called out. On the other hand, there was only £15,000 for 133,000 Volunteers. That was a manifestation of loyalty the like of which had never been seen in any country.
§ MR. BASS
explained that the £3 a man formed a fund out of which the general expenses of the Yeomanry corps were defrayed, and out of which sufficient was saved to find new clothing when it was required. He quite agreed that a change in the training of the Yeomen was desirable—less importance should be given to movements in line, and more to discipline and personal efficiency in the use of arms.
deprecated the calling out of Rifle corps in aid of the civil power, as had in one instance been done. The object of those corps was simply national defence.
§ SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL
said, the only use of carbines in the hands of cavalry was for purposes of alarm. The objection to breech-loaders was that the men would fire away all their ammunition in live minutes. Besides, in trotting the powder would shake out of the piece, and it would then be very difficult to extract the bullet, and to make the weapon again efficient.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he would merely observe there was a danger of troops firing 1947 away their ammunition too fast with breech-loaders.
MR. H. B. JOHNSTONE
said, he would declare in the face of all the world that the Army Estimates were already too small, and he thought the Secretary for War deserved the thanks of the House for the way in which he had endeavoured to meet the wants of the country.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
explained that in the case which had occurred at Hamilton, the police had requested two companies of Volunteers to come to their assistance, which they did, and the Sheriff tendered them his thanks on the following day.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, that with regard to the occurrence at Hamilton, he wished to observe that the Volunteers were by Act of Parliament exempted from the liability to be called out to put down riot and disturbance. On this occasion the Volunteers had gone out of their own good will, and they deserved great credit for what they had done.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported on Monday next.
§ Committee to sit again on Monday next.
§ House adjourned at half after Twelve o'clock till Monday next.