HC Deb 31 May 1861 vol 163 cc428-30

said, he wished to call the attention of the House to the Report of the Commissioners of Audit of the Army Expenditure for 1859–60, and to the large difference between the amount voted and the amount expended. For clothing and necessaries the amount expended was £715,000, and the amount voted was only £450,000. Under the head of miscellaneous charges the sum expended was £823,000, whilst £562,000 only was voted. There were a great number of smaller votes of the same kind. From the Audit Report of the expenditure for the year 1859–60, which was only just delivered to the House, it appeared that upwards of £860,000 was expended on the army more than the amount voted by the House. The excess was met by taking £2,000 from the Vote for extraordinary expenses of the Russian war, £500,000 from the Vote for extraordinary expenses of the Chinese war, and £4,000 from the Vote for Civil Contingent- cies. The balance in excess was chargeable against the Vote of Credit for the China war of £312,394. Thus there had been an expenditure of £850,000 upon the army without the authority of that House. He hoped the reasons for such a proceeding would be given, and a promise made that no such surreptitious application of money should occur in future.


said, he hoped, as the hon. Under Secretary had now told them that the principle on which Generals were selected for appointments to regiments was not alone for distinguished services in the field, but that the War Minister admitted the claims of officers who, unfortunate in not having opportunities to serve their country in the field, had yet served abroad in unhealthy climates and in our Colonies; and as he had stated that General Eden had been in the West Indies, he would be prepared also when the question was next raised to state how long he had been in the West Indies, how long he had served in regiments of the Line, and what were the services of these officers senior to him who had not received the honour of a regiment. He thought it much better to look to seniority where an officer was competent than selection, but a statement of facts such as he had indicated would enable the House to judge of the value of the principle of selections made by the War Department, he thought it obvious that officer's serving in parts of the world distant from where war happened to break out should not on that account be deprived of all chances of promotion, but when an officer who had no field-service was promoted over the heads of men not only seniors to him who had seen a great deal. The Minister should give the special reasons which induced him to make such selections, and such it was asserted was the present case. With reference to what had been stated by the hon. Member for Lambeth, it would be in the recollection of the House that when the Estimates were moved last year the right lion, and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) told them the £500,000 taken for the war in China would not be sufficient. The account partially audited of the expense of the different branches of the military service now showed that in five Votes that right hon. and gallant Gentleman's prophecy had been verified.


said, he was glad that an opportunity had arisen for cor- recting the impressions which the comments of the public press were likely to convey with regard to the claims of General Eden to promotion. He (Colonel North) had great pleasure in bearing testimony to the merits of General Eden, whom he had known at Sandhurst, and with whom he joined the army in the same year. His gallant Friend was not a Guard's officer. He had served in the West Indies, and had buried half the 56th regiment at Bermuda. If officers only were to be promoted who had been under fire it was difficult to say what could be done. The gallant General, like others, was obliged to serve where his regiment was ordered. Why the House was annually to be treated to the question of the Guards he could not comprehend. On all occasions the Guards had upheld the honour and glory of the country, and he was utterly at a loss to understand why the Guards were to be talked about as a sort of condemned corps. He thought the appointment of General Eden reflected great credit on His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief. When appointed he left another appointment by which he was the loser of £3,000. It had not been the good fortune of the gallant officer to be sent out to the Crimea, but if he had he would have distinguished himself as well as other officers. The reason of his exchanging into the Guards was that his health had been shattered in the West Indies.


said, he too, wished to bear his testimony to the professional worth of General Eden. He entertained a high opinion of General Eden as an officer in command of a regiment of the Line. He considered that in all his selections of officers to be placed in command of regiments His Royal Highness had exercised the most anxious discrimination, weighing in the most difficult circumstances the claims of one officer with these of another, both in regard to seniority and the nature of their service, and he felt quite sure that the House might entirely rely on every appointment that was made.

Main Question put, and agreed to.