HC Deb 31 May 1860 vol 158 cc1841-62

said, that many of the questions which had been submitted to the Secretary for War, on the House going into Committee of Supply, were of so important a character that they were far better suited to be submitted as substantial Motions. The enormous amount of the Estimates for the Army, exceeding that of any former year of peace, was creating uneasiness in the country. The people wore inquiring why these prodigious sums were asked for. Every means had been taken to frighten the people into the belief that France intended to invade us, in order to increase the Army Estimates; and, notwithstanding all that had been done, it was still affirmed that we were not in a position to repel an invasion if it should be attempted. A Return lately presented to the House gave the number of our army at 145,000 men, besides 80,000 for India; 40,000 of them were for the defence of the Colonies, and 105,000 for the protection of this country. The number of men at the depôts of the regiments in India, amounted to 15,000. Then there were of Marines on shore 6,000, enrolled pensioners 16,000, embodied Militia 23,700, and disembodied Militia 44,300; which gave us an efficient force of 210,000 men. Some gallant Officers had thrown out doubts as to the efficiency of the disembodied Militia; but in every instance after each inspection the most encouraging reports had been made. Moreover, there were of Yeomanry Cavalry 15,000, and 12,000 Irish Constabulary. Then, take the rifles at 130,000, and the total force would be 367,000 fighting men. Now, he would ask any rational man whether, supposing that any enemy were mad enough to attempt an invasion, and that it was possible to effect any landing at all, with our superior navy, whether it was possible that he could land a force that would be equal to one-third of what we could send against him? Then with regard to the Colonies. A Report was lately presented to the House in which it was stated that the military cost of the Colonies was £3,590,000; and we had to provide them with bishops and other church dignitaries, and all manner of things beside, so that he had found, by putting the Parliamentary Returns together, a total amount of £4,877,000 in one year, 1856–7. This was not the system practised by other countries. Look at the Dutch. They had only a few colonies; but, instead of costing the mother country anything, they remitted for Imperial purposes £2,600,000 a year. The colonies of Spain remitted £1,150,000 to that country after paying all their own expenses. It had been suggested that a Committee should be appointed to inquire upon this subject, and the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) had stated that great misrepresentations and discrepancies had taken place in the statements of the amounts contributed by the Colonies towards the maintenance of the military force; but the House had very little to do with that—what the House had to deal with was the amount which annually went out of the pockets of the people of this country. The sum of £511,000 had been spent by this country on the military force in the Australian colonies, and the Staff of that force cost £17,482. The sum expended by this country for the same purpose in North America was £514,000, and for the Staff £17,745; in the Cape, £830,687, and £28,121 for the Staff, whilst the Staff alone in the Ionian Islands cost £8,465 The Secretary for the Colonies asked whether the House would prefer maintaining this expenditure or abandoning the Colonies? He (Mr. Williams) was not for abandoning the Colonies at all—and depend upon it the Colonies were not for abandoning their connection with this country; but they were of no intrinsic value to us in point of trade. ["Oh, oh!"] The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) seemed to doubt that. Before the establishment of free trade the Colonies were doubtless of great value to this country. We received their produce, and they took our manufactures. But, since the establishment of free trade they sent their produce and also bought their articles in the best market. It was very honourable to this country that it proved the best market for the Colonies still, but the whole trade did not produce a profit equal to an expenditure of £4,800,000. He (Mr. Williams) was much surprised at the defence made by the hon. and gallant General opposite (General Peel) of the present Army Estimates. Hon. Gentlemen opposite and the hon. Gentlemen who sat on the Treasury bench often differed widely upon important public and party questions, but whenever the public money was to be voted there never was any difference between them. When the right hon. Secretary for War got up to defend an extravagance in expenditure never before equalled, the hon. and gallant General, late Secretary for War, stood up and defended him. No doubt it was a source of great satisfaction to the right hon. Gentleman to be so ably defended; but, at the present time, when the question of spending the public money was taken up by the other House of Parliament as well as by the Commons, it was very important to know upon what principle such an expenditure was warranted. The hon. and gallant Officer (General Peel) challenged the House to point out how any reductions could be made in the present military expenditure. He (Mr. Williams) would point to former years. He would refer to the year when England was governed by two of the greatest men produced in our times—Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington—when the Army Estimates were £11,200,000 less than the Estimates of the present year; and even in 1852, the year before preparations for the Russian war, the amount voted for military purposes was £8,500,000 less than the present Votes. The same, or a similar result was shown by a comparison with other years about that time, and he would ask what there was in the condition of the country to justify the House in voting those enormous sums of money? He had often thought and said that the country ought to be more thankful to the Government than to the House of Commons that a much larger Vote of expenditure was not required. The hon. Member for Tavistock (Sir J. Trelawny) had called attention to the Foot Guards. It appeared that in the three regiments the officers were sometimes eight months in the year absent from duty; and he was not surprised at it. The regiments numbered 6,300 men and 261 officers, the cost being £206,362. In five regiments of the Line, consisting of 100 men more, there were only 228 officers, or thirty-three less than in the regiments of Foot Guards. The difference in the cost of those 228 officers, and of the officers of the Foot Guards, was £42,800. The entire regiments of Foot Guards cost £11,470 more for clothing than the five regiments of the Line; making a total difference of £54,310 in favour of the five regiments. Why should this distinction be made? The Foot Guards did not perform duties nearly so arduous as the other regiments, and they were not sent to the Colonies. He believed they occasionally marched from St. James's to the Tower—and sometimes they went by a more modern mode of conveyance to Windsor. The cost of clothing the Life Guards was £3 7s. 2d. more than that of the ordinary cavalry soldier. He did not object to that, because the Guards were in attendance upon Her Majesty: the only fault he found was that they were much too numerous, and in that opinion he was sustained by the present First Lord of the Admiralty (the Duke of Somerset) who when a Member of that House had stated that one-third of the number would he sufficient for attendance upon her Majesty. But why the cost of clothing the Foot Guards should be £1 16s. 5d. more than that in any other regiment, he was at a loss to say. The army was well clothed, and the highest encomiums had boon passed upon the various descriptions of clothing with which the soldiers were furnished; but that would not justify so great a difference between one regiment and another. On the whole, he must say that the military and naval expenditure of the country was much in excess of what it ought to be, and he should have more to say on the subject in Committee.


wished to obtain from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) a specific answer to one particular question of great importance to the army—namely, what course he intended to pursue with regard to the purchase system? In the debate on the purchase system the right hon. Gentleman was understood to state that purchase was to cease at the rank of major, and from that point the system of selection would be adopted. What was that system of selection? He said broadly and distinctly in that House that selection meant nothing more or less than jobbery. Nothing was more invidious than that any officer who rose by purchase to the rank of major in the army should suddenly find himself without any security whatever that his interests would be protected. Supposing an officer not connected with people of influence in England to be in the West Indies when his superior died—everybody here would know that there was a vacancy in the regiment long before the major in the West Indies, and the Minister would be subjected to every kind of pressure. Court influence, political influence, and all the rest of it, would be applied; and there was very little chance indeed for the major in the colonies, who had no influence hero. They had seen enough of this at the Admiralty. The consequence very frequently was that many valuable officers would retire from the army in disgust; for they would very naturally ask, what was the use of purchasing successive steps up to the rank of major if, when they arrived at that point from whence they could look forward to promotion without purchase, they found that they were sacrificed to those who had more influence than they? He thought a specific and distinct explanation ought to be given by the right hon. Gentleman on this point. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to make a distinct avowal of the principle on which he meant to proceed, for the army was very anxious on the subject. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams), he (Colonel Knox) would not enter at length into a controversy upon the points raised by the hon. Member, but would content himself with saying that he had fallen into many inaccuracies in the course of his observations.


in answer I to the hon. Member for Lambeth who asked I what made it necessary to spend so much more money now for the army than during the Government of the Duke of Wellington and Sir R. Peel, would beg to inform him that at that time there was not a Napoleon Bonaparte on the throne of France, nor had France then an army of 600,000 men. For the same reason the money now spent on the navy must be much greater than during the period alluded to, for they had it on the authority of eminent officials—of the present Secretary of State for India (Sir C. Wood) and of the present Secretary of the Admiralty (Lord C. Paget)—that France could man her fleet when England could not man hers, These things he I thought, proved the necessity for a more efficient army and a larger navy. A friend of his who had just come from France had asked a gentleman high in the naval department of that country whether the statements made in that House relative to the condition of the French navy were correct, and the answer he received was that as regards the ships they were very nearly correct, but that as regards the personnel they were very far understated. He had also been told by two gentlemen who had been at Toulon that there were seven years' store of every description in that place, and I that the French could send out from it twenty sail-of-the line and 30,000 men in less than a fortnight. Therefore he said that, instead of the forces of this country being too large, they were a great deal too small; and he called attention to the fact that at the present moment the number of sailors for the British fleet was 7,000 below the Vote of the House of Commons.


expressed his regret that the present Military Estimates had not been deferred until the Secretary for India had made his statement for India, because the number of men for India must, to a certain extent, regulate the expense of the establishments at home. With regard to the depôts, he should be glad to know whether the expense was paid partly out of the Indian and partly out of the Im- perial revenue?—as there was nothing in the Estimates to show how the matter stood. With regard to fortifications, the money was asked for in a lump, without explanation; but the country had a right to know how the money was to be applied. The sum for this purpose in the Estimates had no connection with the large amount of about £11,000,000 which it was said would be proposed in consequence of the recommendations of the Defence Commissioners. He hoped, however, that such an estimate as that would not be brought forward. There were several items in the Estimates above the amount proposed last year. He thought some of them should be reduced, as there was no justification in many instances for the increase.


remarked that, on a former occasion, in answer to a question from him, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sidney Herbert) undertook to lay upon the table the Report of the Committee on the Defences of the Country before Whitsuntide; but that promise had not been kept. He did not wish to interfere between the right hon. Gentleman and the House; but he desired to know why the promise which he understood to have been given had not been observed. Of all questions the most important was that relating to the defence of the country, and he did not think it was right to allow the subject to dwindle into a matter of secondary importance, to be brought on at the fag-end of the Session. The subject, in his opinion, was of far more importance than the Reform Bill or the Wine Duties, which they had been discussing for such a lengthened period. He might misunderstand the feeling of the country, but he thought it was a question in which all ranks of the people were interested, and he warned the right hon. Gentleman and the Government that this question was not to be trifled with. Many questions might be postponed and undoubtedly must be; but the question of the National Defences could not be postponed. The course the Government might take with reference to the Defences of the Country must, in a great measure, depend upon the number of men voted for the service of the country. He thought the Government were open to censure for having delayed bringing this subject before Parliament. In finance the small margin taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer had already dwindled to nothing, and but for the happy circumstance of another branch of the Legislature having interfered he believed the coun- try would have been exposed to imminent bankruptcy. They were now at war not with Commissioner Yah, but with the whole Chinese Empire. The great question was how the defence of the country was to be provided for, and how the expenses were to be met. If they proceeded by way of loan, that might be a reasonable proceeding; but if so they would have to make provision for that loan. If large defensive works were intended, gallant Officers on all sides of the House had told them that fortifications were absolutely dangerous, unless they could be efficiently manned. He knew that the Government were now under heavy contracts for the purchase of land for defensive works at Plymouth and Devonport, and therefore it was absolutely necessary that the matter should at once be brought under the consideration of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman had promised to state the details of the steps intended to be taken, and also to lay upon the table the Report of the Commissioners; but if that was not done at once, there would be no time for the House to consider the subject fully as it deserved.


said, he wished to refer to what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Chatham (Sir F. Smith) in reference to the 12th Vote in the Estimates, namely, the Vote for the Fortifications, £645,355. Now there were no details whatever given in the Votes as to how the money was to be expended. He wished to ask whether it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, when the Committee arrived at that stage of the Votes, to give them the particular items composing the gross sum. Now, he was one of those who were of opinion that all the money expended upon the fortifications at Alderney would be a complete waste of money. For this reason, if ever the contingency, which all had in their minds, although no one liked to name it—a war with France—should arise, we should have to find men to man these works. He thought we should find we had been constructing harbours which would be more useful to our enemy than to ourselves. They would prove useless either as harbours for the purposes of war or mercantile operations, and every shilling expended on them would be thrown away. Unless the Vote was placed in such a shape before the Committee as would enable them to deal with the items separately, it would be perfectly impossible to sanction the whole sum. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would inform them how they could deal separately with the items.


In answer to the last two speakers, I venture to say, in spite of the hard words of the hon. Gentleman opposite, that I have not in any way shirked or evaded my duty. I have given every attention to the subject, which is one of immense importance; and I think no Gentleman will consider the Government ought to have laid the Report of the Commissioners on the table without at the same time being prepared to state the course they proposed to adopt. The Report is, I believe, so far advanced in printing that I shall be able to lay it on the table next week, but it would not be right to do so until I could state the course we propose to take with regard to the recommendations contained in it.

In answer to the Question of the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), I may say that I never intended to ask the House to vote a lump sum without knowing the items of which it is composed. I inserted a lump sum because when we were about to deal with the Report of Commissioners which contemplated works on a large scale, it was necessary for mo to put a Vote in the Estimates which might be necessary if any action were taken upon the Report, but which must he altered in its proportion and distribution according to subsequent decision. I proposed a Vote, but I do not think the House ever anticipated that I should ask them to grant it until all the details were explained. The details shall be given before the House is asked to pass any Vote upon the subject. The questions raised have been so numerous that I hardly know where to begin. It will perhaps be more satisfactory if I take them in the order they were put to me and answer them seriatim. I think the hon. and gallant Member for Beverley (Major Edwards) began by asking whether I could produce the Correspondence that had taken place as to the Yeomanry not being called out for training this year; and another hon. Gentleman (Mr. Deedes) said there was great alarm in the regiment he commanded lest the Government should intend to do away with that constitutional force altogether, and that the men were falling away in consequence. The omission to call out the Yeomanry is not without precedent. It has occurred several times within my recollection, and no further back than 1857. The Yeomanry, however, have gone on and flourished since that time, and I should be sorry that any step taken by the Government, as this has been, under pressure, should lead to the impression that they undervalue the services of the force, or that it is not intended to call them out again. It is my opinion that the Yeomanry is a most valuable force. It may be a matter of consideration whether improvements in its organization might not be introduced, but the Government has a high opinion of the value of the Yeomanry corps, and would not desire at all to discourage them. This year has been one of great pressure, and considering the great increase of expense that has been put upon it, I have thought it right to avail myself of every resource which would enable me to meet the necessary expenditure for the permanent defence of the country.

The hon. Baronet the Member for Tavistock (Sir J. Trelawny), has referred to exchanges of officers from the Guards to regiments of the Line. I know that of late years the Guards have been very severely dealt with by the different warrants regulating promotion, and no one is more responsible for that than myself; for I felt it my duty on former occasions to deal, for the general good of the service, with great severity towards the Guards. But just look at the difference which the warrant of 1854 has made. Before that time the Guards, having always a step, or even two steps, in army rank in advance of the Line, and in attaining by brevets the rank of major-general, did occupy a position in the list of major-generals quite disproportioned to their number. But the warrant of 1854 did away with that. It is true they can exchange into the Line; but how seldom do you find that done unless under very exceptional reasons? A lieutenant-colonel of the Line is qualifying to become a full colonel; but if he exchanges with a lieutenant-colonel of the Guards he is qualifying for nothing until he become a mounted officer. That has made a very great difference with regard to these exchanges, and the hon. and gallant Officer opposite has written an able pamphlet in which he complains of the effect of the change which has taken place. I feel, therefore, that when speaking of this ancient corps, many of whose special privileges have been taken from them during the last few years, and when I recollect that I have been the instrument of doing things that have pressed hardly upon them, I am bound to say something in their be- half, when I hear statements like those of the hon. Member for Lambeth with respect to them. The hon. Member spoke of the great advantages possessed by the Guards, and seemed to deride their services, as if they consisted of little else than marching from the Tower to Windsor and from Windsor to the Tower. The hon. Member, in so speaking, was utterly forgetful of the duties which they have to discharge. Whenever there is an important service to be performed, an expedition to be undertaken, requiring courage, experience, and ability, we uniformly go to the Guards, as a corps which we are sure to find in the finest state of discipline and efficiency, and always ready for any service they may be called upon to undertake.

I hope the different Members who have spoken to-night will excuse me if I make a short statement in answer to the numerous questions that have been put to me. I was asked by the hon. Baronet (Sir John Trelawny) whether or not aides-de-camp were subjected to examination. I have to reply that, not only are they subjected to examination, but to one of some importance, and which exceeds in extent that of almost any other country in the world. They are examined, not on military matters only, but in languages and other accomplishments. I find that in Prussia, for example, which is the most examining country in Europe, and where there is an almost pedantic adherence to theoretical tests, there is no examination for aides-de-camp. It is, however, strictly carried out with us, and I believe it is attended with very great advantages; and I believe Prussia is about to follow our example. A gallant Officer opposite spoke of the expense of the disembodied Militia; but he also said that, after all, if it was found to be of service for recruiting the army, he did not see how it could be abolished without detriment to the public service. There used to be a vast amount of men in this department on paper, who were maintained in this position because it was said that if that number of men no longer existed the difference would be filled up by men who would only enlist to abscond. But this paper force no longer exists. All these paper men had now been struck off. I do not know it officially, as the Returns have not yet been sent in; but I have reason to believe that all the men have been struck off who do not really exist, and who have either deserted or gone over to the Line, and those only are included in the Returns who form part of the effective force of the various regiments. I have also just sent out a circular to the colonels of disembodied Militia, announcing that the Commander-in-Chief had issued the most stringent regulations against recruiting parties attempting to induce disembodied militiamen to leave the Militia to join the Line—because I think there is no more use in asking a militiaman to go to the Line than there would be to ask a man to leave one regiment for another. The officers of the Militia, when they know that they are protected from that invasion, will have recourse to a class of men not very valuable for the Line but valuable for the Militia—men of fixed habits and whose characters are known. In this matter I think that not only the House but the public out of doors are run away with by the comparison which they make between an embodied and disembodied regiment. It is said that twenty-eight days' drill will not make an efficient soldier. No one says it will. If you want to make an efficient soldier, pay him all the year round. But if you want a reserve that will not cost much, and which by further training can be made efficient men, then I say the system of twenty-eight days' drill will, as near as possible, combine the two objects of cheapness on the one side and a certain advance towards efficiency on the other. The hon. Member for Lambeth complains that the two sides of the House uniformly support each other when the Estimates come to be considered, and that the economy of the service cannot in consequence be secured; for, whatever difference of opinion there may be on other questions, they are always, he says, sure to combine to maintain the Estimates. Now, I think I can explain this by saying that on other questions we are more or less regulated by party feelings; but that no one can shut his eyes to the necessity that exists of having this country at all times in such a state of defence as to make it secure against the aggressions of an enemy. The right hon. Gentleman (General Peel) has referred to the system of reliefs, of which he complained. All I can say is, that, though the rules which have been laid down for reliefs are adhered to as closely as possible, there are often disturbing causes at work that prevent them being regularly carried out. Thus, the Indian war, the Russian war, and the Indian mutiny very materially disturbed the arrangements that had been made, and at one time during the Russian war we had not more than 24,000 troops in England. This arose because, with a small establishment, we were attempting to carry on a great war. We are told of those times when, during the administration of Wellington and Peel, the military and naval expenditure of the country was so much less than at present, the Army Estimates being £11,000,000 less than now; but we must recollect that this great reduction took place when the whole face of Europe was exceedingly pacific; and we must also recollect that for that state of things we are now paying, for it was the lowering of our stores, and the reduction of our armaments in those times that have imposed on us now the heavy burdens we are called to bear. We have been for years at the War Office striving to retrieve this error, for we were deficient in stores in every part of the world, and it is an error that I trust we shall not fall into again. I think we are bound to look most closely to every item of our vast expenditure; but I confess that I find great difficulty in carrying out this object, in consequence of the claims that are constantly put in now by one class of officers and now by another, all of which would go to increase greatly our military expenditure. The Secretary for War, however, is bound to recollect that we have got the most expensive and most highly paid army in Europe, and that every time the cost of that army is increased the effect is to diminish its numbers.

A question has been put to me about the Land Transport Corps. I had thought that the question of the Land Transport Corps was long since settled, and I confess I was somewhat alarmed when I was charged with not having kept good faith with the persons making the claims now urged. An hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Locke) spoke of their being promised 6s. a day, and that the agreement was that they were to be taken for two years; but that agreement, it turned out, was only to be carried into effect provided their services were required. Then the hon. Member for Greenwich (Alderman Salomons) got up with a gigantic placard in his hand, and I confess I was somewhat alarmed again, thinking it almost impossible but that some recruiting zealot, regardless of truth, had made some promise of a three months' gratuity on service for two years. Not a bit. The placard agreed with the attestation. The Government had adhered to their bargain, and there was not a shadow of a case of grievance on the part of these men. Lord Panmure appointed a board of officers to consider their complaints. They refused to acknowledge the authority of a deputation or a Committee that had taken up the matter, for these men had got into the lawyers' hands—but they heard every individual, and they settled their claims satisfactorily.

I now come to the question which my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Lindsay) brought under the notice of the House relative to the officers who in 1826 accepted unattached rank on half-pay, the Government having thought it necessary to relieve the list. My predecessor in office thought that the ease on the part of these officers was a good one, and he referred it to the Treasury, who refused the claim. I am therefore impartial in the matter. There was a doubt thrown upon the interpretation of the General Order, but I think, upon the whole, that the Treasury was right. No one would have made so improvident a proposal as that these officers should be promoted by steps of unattached rank remaining on half-pay, and should have at the same time, not only the advantages of half-pay, not only the advantages of full-pay, but advantages which a full pay officer would not have. Two years before the issue of the Order of 1826, a rule was established requiring six years' service as field officer before a man could become a major-general. These officers thought it a hardship that they should go upon half-pay and lose 4s. 6d. a day for so many years. But they got their steps in promotion, I they were freed from foreign service, and; they rose in rank to be brevet officers. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says they had not married and did not intend to marry; but that was their misfortune—if they had, their widows would have been entitled to the advantages afforded by the Order. What was the object of the rule? A man was to serve six years as a field officer, because the experience of a field officer's rank is necessary to make a General officer. Even if a man had been serving under the burning sun of India, he would nevertheless be ineligible to the pay of major-general unless he had served six years' as a field officer. If, therefore, the officers who availed themselves of the Order of 1826 enjoyed a dispensation from the six years' service as field officers, they would not only have all the advantages of half-pay and full-pay, but another advantage which officers on full-pay did not possess—exemption from service in unwholesome climates. This would be a solution of the problem that has puzzled so many people—how to eat your cake and have it. They would gain a step in rank, they would be receiving their half-pay at home, and at the end of the period they would be in as good a position as an officer who had been under a grilling sun in the East or West Indies, or had served in the most unhealthy climate. Although a doubt has been expressed on the words of the General Order, I think the Treasury upon the whole came to a wise and just decision in the case of these officers. With regard to the question of the compulsory retirement of medical men at 55, the warrant gives them great advantages in a higher half-pay. There is, too, this to be said, that, although the rule may be said to be an arbitrary one, it is not only advantageous to the soldier, but to the medical profession, as it entails more rapid promotion in the regiment, and gives the soldier the benefit of the services of men in the vigour of their age. I now come to the question raised by my hon. Friend (Mr. Childers), who says we have been doing a great injustice unwittingly to some of the Colonies. There are in the Estimates all the sums that the different Colonies pay in aid of the military expenses of the colony, and which are paid under arrangement into the Exchequer. The particular colony of Victoria, which is, I admit, one of the most liberal, does not appear on that page, because the sum is paid into the Exchequer either as colonial allowances, or to cover the whole pay and allowances. When the regiments are serving in India the payment is left blank, because the Indian Government undertakes the payment. When a regiment in Australia is paid entirely by the Australian Government, it ought to stand with that explanation against it; but there is this difficulty in the way:—We make our Estimates for the year to come three or four months before the Estimates are agreed to. We ought to know beforehand what the colony intends to do. The colony at different times, cither from local financial difficulties or other causes has taken different views, and we, of course, are not aware whether by a vote they may not decline to advance this money. If, however, we could come to a clear and definite arrangement for a payment extending over a certain period the difficulty would be got rid of. I, for one, should be glad to see a colony so public spirited receive full credit for its liberality on the Estimates.

I will not now enter upon the subject of colonial defences introduced by the right hon. Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley)—a subject of all others requiring the most careful, deliberate, and delicate handling. It would be taken very ill in the Colonies if the Government, without consulting them and giving them an opportunity of pointing out any exceptional circumstances, were to announce that they were going to apply a Procrustean rule to them as to the payment by them of the expenses of colonial defences. We have the advantage of the labours of the Committee on the subject, and the very clear and able rule they have laid down, and, on the other hand, we have the exceptions taken by one of the Committee to some of the opinions in the Report. If the world were ruled by logic the arguments might be very good, but men have feelings and passions which must be taken into consideration, and upon no subject is it more necessary to act with care and caution than upon one so largely appealing to the interests, feelings, and hopes of the different Colonies that compose our colonial empire.

I come now to the question of the Ordnance Corps. I must say that a great deal of the argument of my hon. and gallant Friend I thought extremely sound; but I cannot help suspecting that he, as an Artillery officer, did not examine both sides of the question. The Artillery and Engineer officers are a peculiar body, and have almost a monopoly of a vast number of places and appointments to which they are fully entitled by their attainments, but from which field officers of the Line are excluded. They are a seniority corps, without purchase and without selection; and the result is that unless you have men of very advanced age in the upper ranks, and unless there is a great augmentation to the Corps, promotion is slow. The average age of the full Generals of Artillery was, I believe, lately 84 years. The average age of sixteen officers commanding brigades, answering to the colonels of regiments, was 78; and of sixteen unattached officers, 71 years. The three supernumeraries are, I believe, all employed. The same observation, of course, applies to the Engineers. The pay of Artillery officers is very high. A brigade of Artillery, which answers to a battalion of the Line, has a colonel, who is generally on leave, another colonel in com- mand, and four lieutenant colonels. The officers of Artillery enjoy an entire monopoly of the Staff of their own corps. It would not do to make an officer of the Line Adjutant General of Artillery; but the Staff appointments of the Line are open to officers of Artillery. Now, these are all decided advantages. The number of Artillery officers employed in other departments not strictly military is very largo; and I own that, in my opinion, it is only what they are fairly entitled to from their superior attainments. There are twenty-nine officers of Artillery on the Staff, including Colonel Bingham, Colonel Wodehouse, Colonel Dickson, &c. Colonel Wilford is Governor of the Cadet Company; Colonel Tulloch, Royal gun-carriage department; Colonel Askwith, gunpowder manufactory; Colonels St. George and Rowan, and Lieu-tenant-Colonels Campbell, Younghusbaud, and Smythe, War Department; and so on, to the number of forty altogether, in civil employment. All these things must ha taken into consideration as a makeweight against the lesser employment of the Staff of Artillery officers in other capacities. I think that officers of that corps placed in command in districts where the artillery amount to 4,000 or 5,000 men have a fair claim to consideration, and I believe this matter is now under the consideration of the Commander in Chief.

As the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Conolly) who complained of the scandalous outrage committed on his proprietary rights as the owner of a large fishery, has postponed his Motion, I need not go into the question now. His argument is that when the War Department purchase a property, they do so for military purposes alone, and therefore acquire only the right of firing guns or whatever it may be, without any manorial rights. I cannot admit that such is the case. I hold that when the War Department buys land, it buys everything belonging to it, the same as any other purchaser; and I do not see why the public should be robbed of those particular rights, when they pay for them.


And pay a great deal move than anybody else.


A great deal more, no doubt; and therefore I do not see why we should give up any of our rights.

I come now to the speech of the gallant officer the Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans). He said, with great truth, that in a Committee upstairs after we had discussed the subject of the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the appointment of officers of high rank, when he asked whether or not I was responsible for the appointment of General Grey to be colonel of a regiment, I replied that I should prefer to have that question addressed to me in the House of Commons. I thought that if a transaction of that sort was to be publicly questioned, it ought to be done where it could be publicly defended. The gallant Officer began by reading extracts from the evidence given by Lord Fitzroy Somerset, to the effect that the colonelcies of regiments were given to three classes of officers—first to those who had distinguished themselves in war; second, to those who had performed colonial services; and, third, to those who had not been so fortunate as to have been engaged in war or colonial service, but who had commanded efficiently and respectably at home. The gallant Officer supposed that General Grey's appointment came under the last head. That is a mistake; it did not come under the last head. I have seen it stated in the public prints that General Grey was an officer who had never been out of Hyde Park; and, by way of cumulating all his offences, that he was a Gaurdsman. General Grey never was a Guardsman. He has been in the Line all his life. He was attached to the 43rd regiment, and was twice on colonial service with it; he was colonel of the 71st Regiment, and was in Canada with it. He commanded it for nine years. During the whole time General Grey was in the army there were only two occasions when there was a foreign expedition of any kind—one was to Portugal and the other to Canada, when the rebellion had broken out; and he happened to take part in both. I wish to destroy entirely the notion that General Grey has been a stranger to service out of Hyde Park. He comes under the category of having served in the Colonies. Lord FitzRoy Somerset laid down correctly the rules which had hitherto prevailed in disposing of these colonelcies. They are not given according to strict seniority. Officers are occasionally passed over by those who are their juniors. That was General Grey's case. He was passed over three or four times, and once by a very excellent officer, who had seen no foreign war service—General Breton, who is now in Mauritius. It is said there are officers, senior to General Grey, who can point to long and distinguished service. General Bell's name has been mentioned; but on referring to the Army List I find he is considerably the junior of General Grey. There are officers who have served in the Peninsula, but they have done nothing since. What has any one to say against General Grey? Officer after officer has been appointed with less service than he can show. In answer to the question addressed to me on this point, I may say that the Secretary of State is responsible for these appointments, but that he acts on the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief. The Duke of Cambridge said to me, "I think General Grey's services are such that he ought not to be passed over any longer; I think nothing could be more wrong than to make him colonel of a regiment on the ground that he has a place at Court." No one can deny that. "But," he added, "it would he most unjust to refuse him the place if he has otherwise a title to it, because he has an office at Court." I asked his Royal Highness whether, if General Grey were General Smith, with no place at Court, and unconnected with any known family, but with some colonial service to point to, he would be entitled to the place, and the answer was that he would have got the appointment before this. Therefore, merely because a man happens to possess a place at Court, and there may be an outcry in the public prints about his getting any other place, it would be a shabby, cowardly thing not to give him a post of this sort when it falls vacant, and he has otherwise a fair claim to it. Once lay down the rule that a man who has a place at Court is not to receive the reward to which he is otherwise entitled for service in the army, and what will be the result? Her Majesty has surrounded her children with officers of distincion. The Prince of Wales is attended by General Bruce and Major Teesdale, Prince Alfred by Colonel Cowell, Prince Arthur by Major Elphinstone. Well, once make it the rule that the moment a man accepts a Court place, a black mark shall he set against his name, that his past service shall not count, that he shall be debarred from receiving the legitimate honours of his profession, and you exclude from the places which it is the interest of the country to have filled by the best men, the very officers whom you would yourselves select, as the best persons to discharge the duties. Nothing could be more unjust than to lay down such a rule. The gallant Officer who brought this matter forward said I spoke to him so confidently he supposed I had a good case. I believe I have a good case, and I repeat it would have been a mean, shabby, and cowardly thing to have refused an officer, on account of name, position, or connection, that reward to which, in the ordinary course of service, he was fairly entitled. It has been said that Sir John Inglis has been recommended to the colonelcy of a regiment out of his turn. I own that such a step may be taken exception to; but as the gallant officer had returned from India with broken health, and as this was the regiment with which he defended Lucknow, both the Duke of Cambridge and myself were of opinion that it would be a just and graceful act to offer him, although out of his turn, the command of the regiment with which he had been so honourably associated. I will not now make any further observations, but after this long discussion I trust the House will allow me to take, at any rate, the first Vote. The difference in the number of men is very small, about 2,000. The discussion may be taken on the next Vote for the pay, and we shall then have taken one step in considering these Estimates.


The question raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster involves a principle of much greater importance than the mere merit of an individual or the propriety of a single appointment; and I think the House would do well to express, though not in a formal manner, their opinion on this point. I will not at all enter into the merits of the individual whose name has been introduced into this discussion. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War has given a sufficient answer to the charge that the promotion of General Grey has been made in the case of an individual not entitled by his services to that mark of recognition by the Crown. This question ought to be argued with reference to the mere case of the individual. I certainly should have no prejudice in favour of General Grey. My earliest recollection of the gallant Officer is associated with my having stood three contested elections against General Grey, in all of which that gallant Officer vanquished me, and that at a time of life when defeat does not lead to those amiable results which at a more advanced period are possibly experienced. But the point to which I wish to allude is ibis—is it to be laid down as a rule that because an officer has an appointment at Court, he therefore is to be looked upon as a soldier not entitled to promotion, or to the fair prizes of the profession to which he belongs? It is not merely the practice of our own Court, or our own Princes, that those immediately in attendance on them should be military men. In Europe, during some centuries, such has been the custom. It is a fact that the Households of Sovereigns and of Princes near the Throne are invariably formed of members of the military profession. Then are we to lay it down as a principle that, because a soldier accepts office in the Household of our Sovereign or of a Prince near the Throne, he is no longer to be entitled to promotion or preferment in his profession? If so, the consequence must be that you must have in the Royal Households a very inferior class of military men. It is not for the interest of the country that our Sovereigns and the Princes of their families should be surrounded by military parasites; but rather that they should be surrounded by men of station, of independent feeling, of high qualities, and with a sense of responsibility. So long as the system prevails—and I confess I see no good reason why it should cease to prevail—it is a matter of importance to the public interest that the Officers in the Royal Household should be men of the highest class, and that it should not he considered because they accept appointments in the Royal Household they are therefore to be deprived of all future promotion in their profession. The public interest in this matter undoubtedly is, that the individuals who occupy this position should be men of station—men who by their cultivation and general feelings would exercise a beneficial influence on the sentiments of those with whom they are brought in contact. The gallant General whoso name has been introduced into this question is one who fulfils those conditions. He is the son of an eminent statesman, is himself distinguished, and I believe it will be acknowledged by all that he has performed the duties of his office at Court in a manner that has entitled him to respect.


rose to say one word on behalf of his old Friend and brother officer, General Sir John Inglis, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) that it was a graceful compliment to the gallant Officer to make him colonel of the regiment which he commanded at Lucknow; but the House should understand that it was little more than a compliment, for in accepting the regiment he resigned his good service pension of £200 a year, which would now be conferred on some other officer.

Motion agreed to.