§ COLONEL SYKES
rose to call attention to the grievances of the Officers of the local Armies of India. Since the Royal Commission reported upon this subject six grievances had been added to those of which the Officers previously had to complain, and the dissatisfaction was now extending to the Native portion of what was formerly the Regular Native Army of India. According to the accounts which he received, what was called "the re-organization" of the Native Army of India had occasioned very considerable disquiet, mistrust, and suspicion. Some explanation of this phrase "re-organization of the Army of India" was necessary to a right understanding of his Question. In early days — about 1757 — the East India Company raised men to defend their factories, and these gradually increased in number till companies grew into battalions, battalions in to brigades, and brigades into armies; but during the whole of that time the officering of those regiments by European gentlemen or adventurers was dependent upon accident, and in the history of the Bengal army they rarely heard of more than ten or twelve officers to each. The 1265 experience of fifty years showed that such a proportion was inadequate to give full efficiency to Native troops, and in 1796 a re-organization took place, by order of the home authorities, under which twenty-four officers were assigned to each regiment. From 1796 to 1856, however, our dominions in India extended so rapidly that officers were withdrawn from the regiments in large numbers to perform what were called staff duties, political, civil, army, staff, &c., and it constantly happened that not more than from ten to fifteen remained to do duty with their regiments. Such a state of things did not escape the attention of the Indian Government, and a letter from the Governor General to the Court of Directors, dated the 5th April, 1856, stated that urgent representations had been made to him of the paucity of European officers, and he recommended the appointment of supernumerary cadets to the Indian Service. That letter was answered by the Court of Directors on the 10th of September, 1856. In their reply they said they need hardly state that the mere appointment of one or more officers to the rank of ensign in addition to those on the establishment of the Native infantry, was not the proper remedy required to meet effectually the exigencies of the Indian Army. From their youth and inexperience, and want of rank, such additional officers would form no adequate substitute for the older and experienced officers withdrawn from regimental duty, and they distinctly stated that the withdrawal of officers to the extent that reduced the numbers to ten or twelve could not be done except with great risk to the discipline of the regiments. They admitted that the want was pressing, and they went on to say that they took that opportunity of expressing their opinion that Native regiments should always have present with them for regimental duty in time of peace thirteen officers—one for command, ten eligible for the command of companies, two eligible for the regimental staff, besides a few young men. The mutiny of the Bengal Army broke out; and then a feeling unhappily sprang up— chiefly amongst those who were ignorant of the character of the Native troops and did not look to their past devotion—for it was by their aid our Indian Empire was chiefly obtained—that the army should be immediately reduced and ultimately put down. That had been done. The reason for that proceeding was stated to be economy; 230,000 Native troops being con- 1266 sidered an overwhelming number. The Bengal army, with the exception of fourteen Regiments, which had remained faithful, disappeared; the Bombay and Madras armies remained faithful with the exception of two regiments, and there was a reduction of between 110,000 and 115,000 men out of the 280,000, at a saving of a million of money. But what had been the result? Why, that the European troops had been doubled. From 40,000 men when the mutiny broke out in Bengal, they increased at one time to 112,000, and there were now seventy-two thousand European troops in India with a reserve force of 9,000 in England, at a cost of £2,000,000 to India. And the practical result of the saving of £1,000,000 by the reduction of the native troops was to increase the cost of the Indian Army £2,000,000 by the additional 40,000 European troops. The Staff Corps also was established, which had ever since been a source of the greatest difficulty and injustice. It was stated that the selection for the Staff took a way the éliteof regiments. But it did nothing of the kind; it took away all the officers who had interest, and in nine cases out of ten the élite remained behind because they had no interest. Personal illustrations were always unsatisfactory; but he knew in his own case that he passed as interpreter in two languages before he was twenty, and yet might have remained all his life with his regiment, but that he was fortunate enough twelve years after he had passed as interpreter in two native languages to obtain private interest that withdrew him from it. Nothing was more deceptive than this phrase "reorganization"; but which the armies at large called "annihilation." At one stroke of the pen Native soldiers who had become veterans in the British service, and whose ancestors had fought gallantly for the Crown, were without reference to their self-respect and soldierly pride converted into Irregulars by an Order dated December 28, 1863, and the number of officers doing duty with those regiments was reduced at one blow from twenty-four to six. The Act of Parliament guaranteed to all officers that their usages and privileges should be maintained, and one of those privileges was that no officer belonging to another regiment should come into their ranks and supersede their regimental rights; but the Act of Parliament had been violated. The General Order of December which recognized the Indian army, affected the position of every officer of every regiment in the local armies. 1267 Three regiments of cavalry in the Bombay army, which carried on their standards the names of the battles in which they had been engaged in Affghanistan, Persia, and elsewhere, were converted into Irregulars; and they now found among them officers who had never before belonged to them, nor had ever served with them. It rested with the Commander-in-Chief to take away the old officers of the regiments, and put them aside entirely in favour of perfect strangers. In the Bombay army there was only one regiment out of three regiments of cavalry and thirty of infantry, in which there had not been an intrusion of that kind into the regiment. There were fifty-six cases of officers posted to regiments who had never served in those regiments before. This was contrary to the usages of the service, contrary to policy, prejudicial to discipline, and how such a course could have been pursued was to him, an officer of half a century's standing, perfectly unintelligible. All these fifty-six officers were occupying the places of the old regimental officers, who had been divorced from their regiments, and who existed only upon paper in what was called the cadre of the regiment, and were strangers to the old Native officers and men. The effect of the working of the Staff Corps had been that the officers, by their promotion in that corps, after fixed periods of service without reference to their regimental standing, when they returned to their regiments superseded officers of older standing in the regiment, and who had been longer in the army. The House would understand the feeling created by these measures among the old Native officers, some of whom had served for fifty years uninterruptedly in their regiments, and also among the Sepoys, many of whom had served for twenty years, and who looked upon their regiments as their homes, and the officers of their regiments as their friends and fathers. The course pursued was undoubtedly dangerous, because it was exciting a feeling of dissatisfaction, distrust, and suspicion that might inflict upon this country injury of a very serious character by loosening the loyal ties, which had formerly existed between the Sepoys and the Government. He would give the House two or three illustrations of the effect of the posting of officers to regiments to which they did not belong. A communication dated January 24, and which he supposed was addressed to the right hon. Baronet (Sir Charles Wood), complained 1268 of a measure which deprived half-a-dozen officers of their rank in their regiments, hindered their prospective advancement, and cancelled or annulled the agreement made by the East India Company, and which had been transferred to and undertaken by the Crown; and the right hon. Baronet was asked whether he would persist in approving a measure which, by sending strangers to regiments to fill the places of old regimental officers, injuriously affected the efficiency of the army. Another communication from India of the same date spoke of a General Order as a most shameful piece of jobbery, and gave an instance of a lieutenant on the General List who had never been posted to a regiment, being made adjutant of a Native regiment, and responsible for the discipline of 800 men, after a residence in India of only three years. The writer stated that Sir Hugh Rose had been warned of the danger of placing boys in command of the Natives, and in posts which men of ten years' standing before the mutiny could hardly hope to attain. The case of Captain Richardson, of the Bombay army, eighteen years in India with his regiment, but now only attached to his own regiment, was another instance in point. It was very hard for such an officer to find an officer of the Staff placed over him. Only on Saturday last he had received by the mail a letter, dated May 11, 1864, reciting the case of Captain Farquharson, of the 2nd Light Cavalry, who was senior squadron officer of the 3rd Cavalry, although he belonged to the 2nd Light Cavalry, and who had been recently appointed to an acting paymastership, which would take him from the 33rd regiment for eighteen months. Captain and Brevet-Major W. A. Dick, who belonged to the 3rd Cavalry, but now second in command of the Scinde Horse, who had been twenty-one years in the service, and who had been with the regiment in Affghanistan, where it had gained so many laurels, applied for permission to rejoin his old regiment. He was refused, and, to everybody's astonishment, an infantry officer and a captain of eight months' standing only, who had never served in the cavalry, was appointed by Sir William Mansfield to fill the vacancy. And another officer of the 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry was equally refused permission to rejoin his regiment, that the stranger infantry officer might be provided for. All the cavalry officers were calling out, and many of them were furious; and well they might be. He had been in the service half a 1269 century, and never in all his experience did he know of an instance such as that. There might he reasons of urgency or expediency of which the public was not aware to justify that extraordinary departure from usage, and that outrage upon the feelings of the officers. He hoped and trusted there were, for Sir William Mansfield's sake; but, in the absence of such reasons, he had no hesitation in saying that that appointment was a scandalous abuse of power, and as such he would leave Sir William Mansfield to justify it. But there was another power given to the Commander-in-Chief with regard to the re-organization of those regiments. They were considered Irregulars, and as not having the rights of regulars at all which involved regimental seniority. The Commander-in-Chief had a right to appoint any one at his pleasure or caprice. In the case of the former Irregular regiments, few in number, it was an act of prudence and policy to select the most active officers and put them into those regiments. But here were the old regular veteran regiments, of the armies of Madras and Bombay, and with regard to them it was a different thing. There was an Order by Sir William Mansfield, contained in the Overland Times, dated from the 28th of February to the 14th of March last, in which the Commander-in-Chief was pleased to intimate that it had been ruled by the Government of India that in all cases the officers appointed to command a regiment under the new system in virtue of his appointment should command a regiment, the second in command should rank next in the corps, and the other officers according to army standing. Well, suppose Sir William Mansfield selected a junior officer and made him commandant, and another second in command, all the senior officers would be compelled to obey their juniors. Was there ever such a subversion of discipline, or of the ordinary rules and usages of an army? He knew his right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Wood) was anxious to promote the welfare of the army, but most unhappily he had been subjected to influences which had subverted his judgment and warped his better feelings, and he had done that which most probably would result in disaster. He had no hesitation in saying that such things never would have taken place under the East India Company, who would not have disgraced themselves by such injustice. He begged to ask, Whether the recent appointment or employment (except in emergent 1270 cases) of Officers of the Indian Armies with regiments to which they do not belong, in supersession of the regimental rights of the officers or usages of those regiments, is not contrary to the spirit of the Act 21 & 22 Vict. c. 106, which guaranteedThat the Military and Naval Forces of the East India Company should be deemed to be the Military and Naval Forces of Her Majesty, and should be under the same obligations to serve Her Majesty as they would have been under to serve the said Company, and should be liable to serve under the same territorial limits only, for the same terms only, and be entitled to the like pay, pensions, allowances, and privileges, and the like advantages as regards promotion and otherwise, as if they had continued in the service of the said Company;And whether such appointments have been approved by the Secretary of State?
§ MR. VANSITTART
said, that there was no doubt, as mentioned by his hon. and gallant Friend, that the Officers of the Indian Army generally had great grounds for complaint. In referring to the Report of the Commissioners and the appendix which had been placed upon the table a few days ago, it could not fail to strike any candid mind that those officers had been superseded in the most grievous manner. The Commissioners in the 42nd paragraph of their Report were constrained to acknowledge it, inasmuch as they said that the Parliamentary assurances had not been adhered it. The injustice complained of might be ascribed entirely to the creation of that new-fangled corps, called the Staff Corps; for by the rules of that body all promotion went to advance officers who had been so fortunate as to be attached to it, to the prejudice of officers who were serving in their own regiments. In fact, persons had been appointed to the command of regiments they had never heard of. Instances had been brought to his notice of officers belonging to the Madras Presidency having been sent over to the Bengal Presidency to supersede officers who had never left their regiments. But this injustice was not entirely confined to the Military Service—it extended even to the Civil Service of India, because civilians serving in the Punjab and out-provinces having obtained furloughs to return to Europe in order to recruit their shattered health found upon coming back that their appointments had been conferred upon striplings who commanded sufficient interest, and had been fortunate enough to be attached to the Staff. They were thus thrown for promotion upon the 1271 North West Provinces. He had received a letter from an eminent authority, who was thoroughly conversant with all the circumstances of the case, who stated that promotion in the North West Provinces had been most materially retarded by all the civilians who had taken furloughs in the Punjab and North "West Provinces having been superseded by military men. Under these circumstances it appeared to him a matter of no surprise that a feeling of great dissatisfaction and indignation prevailed in India, and it was high time that it should be remedied. The remedy was a simple one; he would at once abolish this highly favoured Staff Corps, which had been so hastily established by the Secretary of State for India, and which had been the means of crushing many a noble spirit, and creating such unspeakable woe and misery.
§ MR. TORRENS
said, that when the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India introduced his Bill for the amalgamation of the Royal and Indian armies, he did not seem to have sufficiently considered the difficulties attending that step, and the detailed provisions which were required, and that circumstance was a sufficient justification for the opposition offered by some hon. Members. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) in consequence took steps to secure for the Indian army all the privileges which they had previously enjoyed; and those who opposed the Bill were only induced to withdraw their opposition on the distinct pledge of that House and the Government, that the rights and privileges of the officers of the Indian army should be respected. It is now three years since that pledge was given, and how had that pledge been kept? He was sorry to say for the sake of the honour of the House that it had been broken; and he entreated the right hon. Gentleman, for the sake of the honour of the House and for his own, to redeem the pledge that was given, and in reliance on which opposition to the Bill was withdrawn.
trusted that there would be no delay in placing before Parliament the warrant on which Sir "William Mansfield had acted; but before that warrant was before the House, he would carefully avoid any allusion to cases to which the hon. Gentleman who introduced the subject had alluded. He would wish to point out, however, that it was four, not three, years since the pledge referred to was given. It was given on the 3rd of 1272 July, 1860; and although he had consented to postpone his Motion for a Committee pending the Report of the Commission—and it reported in October last—yet nothing had since been done in the matter, except the issue of an Order in the Bengal Presidency, which had made matters ten times worse.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
was understood to say that he did not think it desirable at present to go into all the questions referred to by the hon. and gallant Member behind him (Colonel Sykes). He regretted much that the warrant to which allusion had just been made was not on the table of the House; but it was not his fault— he had done his best to get it completed. The preparation of it had received from the noble Lord the Secretary for War, and from the Commander-in-Chief, as well as from himself, considerable attention and pains, and they had endeavoured by every means to reconcile the claims and wishes of both classes of officers, and he hoped the result would be satisfactory to the House. The principle had been agreed upon some time ago, but a variety of modifications had been proposed; but it took more trouble and pains to come to a fair conclusion than could be supposed. The warrant had now been completed, and he hoped that in two or three days it would have received the sign manual. Before it was signed he could not, of course, in accordance with the ordinary practice, lay it upon the table. He did not quite understand what had fallen from the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Vansittart) relative to the Civil Service. Of course, when an officer came home on leave he ipso facto vacated his office, and it became necessary to appoint another to the vacancy; and when the former returned to India he must wait till some other appointment was open to him.
§ MR. VANSITTART
said, what he wanted to convey, and what he believed he did convey, was, that all the civil appointments in Oude and the Punjab, when a civil officer returned to England to recruit his shattered health, were filched away from them and given to the officers of the Staff Corps.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
would say to the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, as he would to the hon. and gallant Member who had introduced this subject, that it was exceedingly inconvenient that, on a question of this general kind, particular cases like those which had been referred to should be cited without notice. Had the 1273 hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) previously furnished him with names of the officers whose cases he intended to refer to, he might have been able to inquire into them, and offer some explanation to the House. From what he had seen of Indian affairs, he believed that the appointments were given, not by favour or interest, but to the best men; and seeing the way the service had been performed at all times in India, the hon. and gallant Member was not justified in saying that unfit men had been appointed to the different posts. He deprecated the sweeping assertion that Sir William Mansfield had been guilty of a scandalous perversion of authority, for had unfit persons been appointed, the duties of the offices could not have been performed in the satisfactory manner in which they had been. All that he could do on the present occasion was, to deal with the general question. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Sykes) said that it was not true that the best men were taken for Staff employments; that the best men were kept with the regiments, and that those taken for Staff employments were chosen by favour. But when complaints were formerly made of the want of discipline in the regiments, many persons attributed it to the practice of taking the best men from the regiments for the Staff employments, and stated that the practice was so dangerous that it was a wonder there was any discipline left at all. The universal testimony given of the inconveniences of that practice was one of the strongest motives why he (Sir Charles Wood) had taken part in the institution of a Staff Corps in order to provide a body of officers for the regiments organized on what was called the Irregular system, and for Staff employments of different kinds without having recourse to a practice, so universally condemned, of taking officers from their regiments. The hon. and gallant Member complained that the Native army was being considerably reduced; but if there was one point on which no difference of opinion, he thought, was entertained, it was this— namely, that to provide for the safety of the English rule and of English subjects in India, it was advisable to increase the English garrison there, and to reduce the Native army.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, no doubt the English troops were more expensive than the Native ones, but the difference of expense was by no means one that could 1274 be set against the safety of our Indian possessions. There had been a great reduction in the number of officers in the different regiments. There was not that feeling of confidence and attachment to their officers in these regiments which the hon. and gallant Officer said would be destroyed by the new system, for the mutiny had proved that in the old regiments the officers were not, as was supposed, acquainted with the feelings of their men. All the regiments which were raised during the mutiny were framed on the Irregular system, which not only required fewer officers, but gave opportunity of employing Native officers in higher grades. It secured an efficient body of troops, at a much less expense. The House should bear in mind that India was mainly saved to England by these Irregular Native troops, who formed a great part of the force which took Delhi; and therefore efficiency as well as economy had been furthered. What had been done had not been done on English or Imperial grounds, but on Indian grounds, and with the sanction and advice of the present Viceroy of India, Sir John Lawrence (the highest authority we could have on Indian matters), and of a majority of the Council of India. Then came the question, how were those Irregular regiments to be officered. That could only be done by the creation of a Staff Corps. That was the best, if not the only mode of providing the requisite number of officers. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen had stated that officers had been superseded in their own regiments by officers of the Staff Corps; but he (Sir Charles Wood) was not aware of the existence of a single case of the kind. [Colonel SYKES: There are many cases.] If there were, they had occurred in direct opposition to the positive orders which had been issued by the Government. The hon. and gallant Member complained of officers being sent to command regiments in supersession of what he seemed to think were the regimental rights of the officers of that regiment. But suppose that in one regiment all the officers had elected to join the Staff Corps except the six senior captains, and in another all had gone except the six junior subalterns, would the hon and gallant Member say that the six captains ought to be left to do all the subaltern duties in one regiment, and the six subalterns to do all the captains' duties in the other; or would he not rather leave three captains and three subalterns in each regiment. Certainly he did not admit that 1275 such an arrangement would be at all derogatory to any regimental rights. In making these arrangements the Government had had no object in view but the good of the service generally, and he was sure that the Commander-in-Chief, in all he had done, had endeavoured to do that which was for the benefit of the general body of officers.
SIR MINTO FARQUHAR
said, that when the subjects of the transfer to the Crown and the re-organization of the Indian army were before the House he was present and took a humble part in the debates. Throughout the speeches that were made on these occasions, those holding high positions in the Government said that it was but fair and right that full consideration should be given to the claims of the Indian army. The right hon. Baronet was then warned of the difficulties which must attend the amalgamation of the Indian with the Royal Army. Those difficulties had arisen; and the right hon. Gentleman, notwithstanding his cleverness and his desire to do justice, had been unable to contend with them. Upon that occasion a full pledge was given to the officers of the Indian army, that all their rights and privileges should be. faithfully preserved to them. The right hon. Gentleman had been saying that he had to take care that no injustice was done to the officers of the Royal army. Now he (Sir Minto Farquhar) would be the last person to sanction the slightest injustice to the Royal army—indeed he had a son in that army—but why did the right hon. Gentleman mix up the two armies? He ought to have known that if no injustice was to be done to the Royal army, how difficult it would be to carry out his promises to the Indian army. The petitions sent to this country from officers in the Indian army were not a single petition, or half-a-dozen, or twenty, but absolutely hundreds—officers who felt that the pledge made to them had not been carried out. The hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Captain Jervis) and himself in 1862 asked for a Committee to investigate the subject-matter of these petitions. The right hon. Gentleman, after taking a month to consider the subject, said he did not think it would be advantageous to the service to have such a Committee. Thereupon his gallant Friend immediately placed a notice on the paper, that he would move the appointment of a Committee himself; and when, after having the circumstances put before them, the pressure of the House was about to be put on the right hon. Gentleman, he came forward and proposed 1276 to meet the case by a Royal Commission. He thanked the right hon. Baronet for that Commission—but what did that Commission prove? "Why, that in many cases the pledge of the House had not been fully and entirely carried out. When the right hon. Baronet was asked to lay the details of his amalgamation scheme, before he carried it out, on the table, his reply was, "You must leave the details to the discretion of the Executive." Again, there was the question of the warrant. That was sent out to India, and carried out without the House having any previous opportunity of expressing an opinion upon it. The Royal Commission stated cases in which the promise had not been fulfilled. Then, who established the Staff Corps? Why, the right hon. Baronet. He was frequently told that if he did establish it, as proposed by him, he would to a certainty do an injustice to other officers. He (Sir Minto Farquhar) must remind the right hon. Baronet that it had always been argued that the amalgamation of the two armies was brought forward by Government as an Imperial measure for Imperial purposes; and that, having been admitted by Parliament, Parliament was in honour bound to insist that the promises made and guaranteed to the officers of the late Indian army should be completely fulfilled.