HC Deb 24 April 1865 vol 178 cc959-95

SUPPLY considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £212,800, Administration of the Army.


said: There cannot be any question of much greater importance than the organization of the War Office—that Department on the working of which the efficiency of all the military establishments depends; and I think the noble Lord the Under Secretary for "War will now acknowledge the propriety of having postponed this Vote until the Members of the House should have had the opportunity of considering the Report which he has placed on the table. The noble Lord himself also has now had the opportunity of better understanding the feeling with which the proposals have been received by the War Office. The noble Lord said the proposals were received with universal satisfaction throughout the Office, but he has since, I believe, been requested in a somewhat irregular manner—by means of a round-robin, to withdraw the statement he then made. In fact, that Report was received with the greatest possible alarm by the War Department. The first thing which strikes one on the subject is the absence of any information as to the cause which created the necessity for the appointment of the Committee. We have not been favoured with the instructions to the Committee, nor with a copy of Sir Edward Lugard's letter to the Treasury, although a paragraph of it is given which renders it difficult to understand whether the Committee was appointed in consequence of any defects in the working of the Office or from a laudable desire to promote economical reductions in the establishment. One almost supposes that there must have been something vicious in the working of the office from one paragraph in the Report. The Report states that the present system docs not enable the Secretary of State to regulate promotions according to the actual requirements of the service. But that is contradicted by Sir Edward Lugard, who was not only a member of the Committee, but also a permanent Under Secretary of State knowing the working of the Office better than any of the members of the Committee. The difference between the Committee and Sir Edward Lugard is, whether selection for promotion should be merely from the branches or be extended over the whole Department, and that is a most important question, which ought to be considered not with reference to the interests of individuals alone, but with a view to the benefit of the service generally. I agree with Sir Edward Lugard that with the exception of the duties of the heads of branches and some of the seniors, there is nothing which a clerk of intelligence and ability could not in a short time acquire, and that it would be an advantage if gentlemen were acquainted with the duties of the Office generally, and not merely with the routine of the particular branch to which they may belong. I would have the promotion general over the whole Office—one advantage of which would be that it would operate as a general stimulus in all the branches. I think, also, it would be less galling to be passed over by a gentleman in another branch than by one in the same room. Indeed, if the system of promotion in the branches were continued, the effect would be little short of making promotion a mere question of seniority, because those who have the promotions in their hands would not like to pass over a gentleman except in a case of such inability as would make it improper that he should remain in the department at all. However a system of promotion in the branches may be applicable to the War Office after several years from the time of its formation, I hold that such a system would have been perfectly impossible at first. The War Department was originally composed of gentlemen from the Colonial Office, the Secretary at War's Office, and the Ordnance Department, and it would have been perfectly impossible to classify the business in the several branches, so as to give to each gentleman the duties which he was best fitted to perform. Another objection to the division proposed in this Report is that it would soon have the effect of defeating the object in view when the War Departments were consolidated—namely, that of having all under one head. I know that some persons would rather see the ordnance and other branches separate departments, but I am not one of those. I think that Lord Dalhousie's plan of having all the branches which at present constitute the War Department under one head, who is responsible for the working of the whole, is a good one, although my experience at the War Office showed me that a great deal remained to be done in order to give effect to that system. Much difficulty in this respect has resulted from the changes of Secretaries of State, of whom there have been five in ten years. The Parliamentary Under Secretaries have also been changed, there having been six or seven within the same period, and there have even been changes in the permanent Under Secretaries, those who do not go out with the Government. When I was in the War Office, Sir Benamin Hawes, Mr. Godley, and Sir Henry Storks held office in that Department, and I think it would have been impossible to find three men of greater ability, and I had the great advantage of their assistance whenever I required it. Unfortunately, two of those gentlemen, Sir Benjamin Hawes and Mr. Godley, have since been removed by death, and Sir Henry Storks, from his superior merits, has been promoted to the performance of higher duties. I do not say that those who succeeded them are inferior to those gentlemen; but I think it unfortunate that changes in the permanent staff should take place before the system is established. It is impossible to get the system into proper working order if those engaged in carrying it out are perpetually being changed. A great advantage possessed by the War Department over the Admiralty is that those who carry on the duties of the Office do not change with the Government; I found no difficulty to arise from having Under Secretaries of different politics to those professed by myself, or had any reason to know what their politics were. We had all I trust but one object which was to make the Department as efficient as possible. As to any self-constituted committee directing the Secretary of State in respect to the way in which the business of the Office should be performed, that is a thing which I should not suffer were I at the head of the Department. I must observe that, so far from finding any want of zeal and ability on the part of the officers, every paper which came to me was covered with minutes; and so much ability was shown that it was often very difficult to decide which of their several opinions was the best. As I remarked before the Organization Committee, I am of opinion that the Department ought to be worked downwards instead of upwards. I found the best results to follow from the simple arrangement of a weekly meeting between His Royal Highness the Commander in-Chief and his staff and the Secretary and Under Secretaries of the War Department. At those conferences questions were often settled which otherwise would have led to a protracted correspondence, and the decision on which must have been delayed a long time if the communications on the subject had been confined to writing. My opinion always has been, and still is, that the business should be divided between the Under Secretaries of State, and that everything requiring opinion and decision should be referred to them in the first instance. They would apply to the branches for information if necessary, but if it were a mere matter of routine it would at once be sent to the branches and settled. Finally, of course, everything should be brought under the notice of the Secretary of State. I am sure that mode of doing business would lead to a great saving of time. The division and classification of the business appears to me to be the grand point on which the whole efficient organization of the Department depends. It is pointed out in these Reports that certain portions of the business of the Office would be as well done by mere clerks as by gentlemen who had passed a civil service examination. But a question then arises as to the point at which the line of distinction between duties requiring superior education and the routine duties of a mere clerk should be drawn. The majority of the Committee state, "That it is the nature of the work done, and not the ability of the person who performs it, which ought to command promotion and remuneration;" but that appears to be quite contrary to the principle on which the civil service examinations have been established. I think, however, that it would be a great advantage if in those examinations the questions had more direct reference to the duties to be performed in the particular office. It is a great hardship to a man who knows the business of an office well, and is in every respect qualified for the position, to be passed over by a man less efficient in the office, merely because the latter could do that which the office would never require of him. When I was at the War Office I acted upon the system of having the clerks appointed as temporary clerks in the first instance, and those who met the approbation of the heads of the branches were allowed to compete for the permanent positions. But I know a case in which thirty-three temporary clerks went up to compete for eleven vacancies, and one of the best clerks in the office who passed nearly the highest in everything required by the office was rejected on account of his Latin. It is scarcely reasonable to expect from such a man much zeal when he went back to his old em- ployment. Neither can you expect great zeal from men of superior education when you tell them their business might be as well done by ordinary men. According to your view you ought not to have first-class clerks and. second-class clerks, but first-class business and second-class business. But that is not my idea. My idea is that the War Office in time of peace ought to be reduced to the lowest possible strength consistent with the performance of the work, but that it ought to contain in itself—at all events, among the higher classes of its clerks—gentlemen capable of performing any duty of the Office. When I was at the War Office I knew several such gentlemen there. Something beyond the ability to discharge mere routine duties constitutes the value of the civil servant of the State. A man may be able to perform his own ordinary duties, and yet not be the proper person to put at the head of a branch. I think, therefore, that the promotion should be general, and not confined to branches. I think you should look to the Department as a whole, and not regard it as a collection of separate branches. If a sudden emergency should arise which would make it necessary for you to order an army to go abroad all your arrangements must depend on the War Department. You cannot move without the War Department, and unless you can put the whole strength of the Office into one branch, if necessary, all the evils that arose under the old system of separate establishments will return the moment the Department is put to the test. I would impress upon the Government that the question with which we are now dealing ought not to be settled without the most ample information and the fullest consideration, because there is nothing so unpopular in a. Department as constant changes and uncertainty as to the means by which promotion is to be obtained. The great fault of the Report presented to the House is that it proposes that promotion should be confined to branches. As regards the interests of those gentlemen who would be affected by the changes proposed, there are many hon. Members who are better acquainted with them than I am. If mere economy be the object of these Reports I do not think that it was worth while to attempt a saving at so great a disadvantage. Nominally, the saving is £10,000, but that Estimate has already been reduced to £7,000, because there are several items not included, and that saving must be still further diminished on account of the retiring superannuations and annuities which will be granted to these gentlemen. I am certain that no system can possibly work well if it be unpopular with those by whom it is to be carried out, and this one is universally unpopular with the clerks who remain in the Office, and will probably lead to utter despair on the part of some of those discarded. No policy can be worse than that which allows a large body of very useful and meritorious men to leave the public service under the impression that they have not received what, they were entitled to, and for that reason I hope that the case of the temporary clerks dismissed upon the present occasion will be re-considered, that that of the permanent clerks also will be further inquired into, and that the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for War will be able to inform the House that full consideration has been given to the change in the system of promotion in the office of the Department before it is carried into effect.


said, he thought that those Members of the House who had been able to look at the Reports on the table, must feel that the House was fully justified in requesting that the discussion on the Vote might be postponed until the Reports were before them. As a general rule he was quite willing to acknowledge that it was undesirable that the House of Commons should interfere with the discretion of the Government and of heads of Departments in the administration of the departments under their care. Generally speaking the House of Commons had not sufficient knowledge to deal with these questions; but, in the present instance, there were several points which rendered it important that the House of Commons should take into its consideration the new organization of the War Department, and that some explanations upon the subject should be given. One of the questions which ought to be considered was the economical result of the alterations. He had not yet had time to examine into the question very carefully, but it appeared to him that the apparent saving of £10,000 would be materially reduced, and would probably altogether disappear when the counter-charges, not in the Estimate, were set down. First among these countercharges were the superannuations. He perceived that something like £6,500 had been awarded to a number of gentlemen since the preparation of the Estimate before the House. Those gentlemen were clerks, some of them of a comparatively advanced age, but for the most part young men. The majority were not much more than forty, some fifty, and some even still younger. He would ask the Government whether this £6,500 represented the whole of the superannuations caused by these changes, because he had heard that even since the drawing up of the Report some other cases had been submitted to the Treasury, and one of these cases was stated to be that of the librarian. The probability, therefore, was that something like £1,000 a year more would be added to the superannuation allowances. Then there was the fact that a great many of the persons to be employed would be officers or soldiers who would, at the same time, be drawing allowances from their regiments. To know the value of these changes, therefore, on the score of economy, the House ought to be informed what expenses would be incurred in this direction. There was another and an important point upon which the House ought to exercise its judgment. One of the Reports related to the Accountant General's Department, and proposed the creation of a new office, to be filled by a gentleman called the Auditor General. The House of Commons ought to view with great jealousy the system of auditing in public departments. The question was a difficult one, and they ought to be certain that the system proposed would best prevent the misappropriation of public money. Of course, the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for War would understand that he did not refer to the misappropriation of public money by individuals, but to the employment of public money in a different direction from that for which it was voted by Parliament. The House should bear in mind that there were two kinds of auditing. There was the audit of an independent department, which was more independent than that of the office itself; and there was the audit within the department, which had the advantage that it was conducted by men who knew something of the service, and could say whether the expenditure was right or not. He assumed that the creation of the new office—that of the Auditor General—was not intended in any way to weaken the control which the Audit Board exercised over the War Department. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been in his place he should have asked the right hon. Gentleman whether with, these contemplated changes within the Department, it was intended to strengthen or in any way to alter the functions of the Audit Board. Perhaps, however, the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for War would be able to give the House some explanation upon that point. The Accountant General appeared to be the officer mainly instrumental in the preparation of the Estimates, and it was undesirable that the auditing of the Estimates should be separated from the Department where those Estimates were prepared, because it would be much more easily seen whether the expenditure of public money had been in conformity with the purposes for which the money was voted by Parliament. By this means, too, if any misappropriation of public money occurred, owing to a defective preparation of the Estimates, a recurrence of those defects would be the more easily guarded against for the future. He believed, therefore, that it would be inexpedient to separate the auditing from the Department of the Accountant General. He must confess that he was startled the other day by something he had heard in connection with the temporary clerks and their retirement, and he would mention it because he should be glad to hear some explanation upon the subject. It was stated that the retiring gratuities allowed to these gentlemen were not as large as the gratuities awarded on certain other occasions, and especially in the case of certain officers superannuated last year on the change which took place with respect to our establishment in the Ionian Islands. He understood that an application for a certain amount of gratuity was made at the time to the War Department, and that it was stated that the matter ought to go to the Treasury and then that it could not be referred to the Treasury, because the money had been already voted and spent, and therefore they must deal with the matter on their own authority. He thought they ought to take care that there was no department that might feel itself able to ignore any irregularity of that kind. The circumstance of there existing a special audit department in the War Office would have the effect of rendering the Board of Audit somewhat less anxious with regard to the production of the accounts, and if the War Office were subject to that which naturally attached to an executive department—namely, an anxiety to grant favourable terms to its own servants—a danger might arise of a wasteful and improper application of funds, which ought to be checked by a proper system of audit. This was a point upon which the House ought to have some assurance. They ought to be told that this proposed change in the accounts of the departments was not likely to weaken the securities for the proper application of the public money. There was another point upon which he wished to make some observations, and that was with regard to the substitution of branch for office promotion. This was a question which the House ought to consider with extreme jealousy. It might be fairly said that Members of the House of Commons were not the proper judges as to the constitution of an office or the best mode of promoting the clerks, and the House might also be told that this matter had been reported upon by a Committee of eminent public servants, and that members should not be so presumptuous as to criticize the recommendations of that Report. He had, however, served on Committees in former years for the re-organization of a great number of public establishments, and his experience was this—that while the Committees were able to suggest plans which were accepted by the Government, and were to a certain extent acted upon, objections after a year or two were raised on the part of the officers as to the change which had taken place, and this led to subsequent alterations and considerable confusion. Every alteration did harm. He did not mean to say that they might not do good; but the changes unsettled the minds of the civil servants, and induced them to agitate for arrangements more beneficial to themselves. Almost every alteration was sure to be accompanied by a good deal of suffering to officers, and additions of expense which could not be avoided. He could instance several departments—that of the Post Office, for instance—in which changes had been made in consequence of recommendations of Committees. These had been afterwards set aside and large sums of money expended in compensation to persons sustaining injury, and the result had been great confusion in the Department. Clerks had come to him from various offices to state the disadvantages which had accrued to them from the adoption of some plans and the rejection of others. The House ought, therefore, to look very closely into the principles of the Report now before them, especially after the manner in which it had been adopted by the Committee. The Members constituting the Committee were, first, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Arbuthnot, who were connected with the Treasury but had nothing to do with the administration of the "War Office, except so far as they had been called on to give their advice, which was proper enough. Then there was the noble Lord the political Under Secretary (the Marquess of Hartington), who had the conduct of the Department, and most ably did he fulfil his duties. There would come a time, however, when another would succeed him who might hold different opinions in this matter. Besides these Members there were Captain Galton and Sir Edward Lugard, two permanent officers of the War Office. Sir Edward Lugard took one view, and the captain took another. The noble Marquess took the side of Captain Galton, and a majority was thereby obtained in favour of the Report. If, at some future day, a new Secretary of State in the Department should be inclined to take the view of Sir Edward Lugard and several other officers of high standing in the Department, the House might be called upon to reverse the decision of the Committee. That decision appeared to him to rest upon an assumption which he regarded as entirely false—that the system of amalgamated office promotion had been tried and failed, and that it ought to be exchanged for a system of branch promotion. The present system of promotion in the office, as he had gathered from the Report, appeared to be one of the most absurd that could be invented. When a vacancy occurred among the first-class clerks, say of the barrack department, a clerk was not promoted in that department to the vacancy, but after inquiry as to who was the best second-class clerk, perhaps in the store department, the authorities gave him the rank of first-class clerk, and kept him still in the same department, while they gave the duties of the vacant first-class clerkship in the barracks to one whom they did not promote, and whose pay they did not increase. It was one of the most wonderful systems that could be conceived. The promotion in work was given to one man, while the promotion of rank was given to another. If this were really the present system, the Committee were certainly right in finding fault with it, and they ought to have proposed that the man most worthy to succeed to the vacant office should receive the appointment, undertake the duties and, draw the pay. If the officer was not fit for the office, however meritorious he might be in other respects, he was not the man to select for promotion. It was by no means to be assumed that the man who had experience in the barrack department must necessarily be the man to succeed to the vacancy. If the offices were managed properly, there were no such technical and exclusive acquirements necessary for the discharge of the duties of one branch as would make it impossible for an intelligent man to perform them if he had been fairly treated from the first and allowed to acquire a general knowledge of the work of the department. It was absurd to suppose that a man of ability would not be fit to be promoted from one branch to another, and nothing could be more advantageous to the office than changes of this sort. There were two different systems under either of which the public offices might be manned. One was the system of mere branch officers, in which case all that was required was to take in young men just able to perform the lowest duties, and confine them to their own branch. The other was to introduce young men of intelligence and give them experience in two or three or more departments, and then promote them according to merit. If the first of these principles was adopted, and they took young men to be brought up as mere machines, they were wrong in taking into the service young men of ability and ambition. The system of competitive examination was unsuited to such a system. But if they adopted the other principle, what could be more reasonable than that when a young man of ability entered the office, and was put forward to serve as a junior in one branch, he should then be removed to another, and thus afford the opportunity of selection from men of varied experience. The result would be that the new blood would be continually coming in, and faults might be discovered in one branch by those who had been accustomed to the duties of another. In that way a more efficient and healthy establishment could be secured than under the system of branch promotion. But there was one condition which ought to be attached to such a system to enable it to work, and that was, the mechanical work should be separated from the other and given to a class of men distinct from the ordinary class of clerks. The proposal to employ non-commissioned officers and soldiers to perform mechanical duties was, he thought, a step in the right direction, as it would have the double advantage of employing persons who could not look for promotion in the department, and of enabling each department to vary its amount of mechanical assistants from time to time, without doing injustice' to any one, as the soldiers could be sent back to their military duties, and could not be turned out upon the world as the discharged temporary clerks had been. He was sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had left the House, as he had wished to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to another subject. Some years ago a Committee was appointed, of which he was a member, to consider the whole question relating to copying and subordinate clerks, and that Committee recommended a scheme which, he believed, would have been found advantageous to the public service. The proposal was to establish a copying office, the clerks employed in which should only look for a moderate amount of remuneration, and from which office the wants of other departments should be supplied. Thus, if the War Office wanted fifty copying clerks, that number would be sent; and if at a future time it was found that only thirty were wanted, then the remaining twenty could be sent back to the Copying Office, where they would be available for the requirements of other departments. He alluded to that proposal because he thought the idea of employing soldiers as copying clerks was a step in the right direction. If a great part of the mechanical duties in the offices could be well performed by soldiers, the junior clerks could be to a considerable extent employed in learning the business of those offices, and in qualifying themselves for promotion. At the same time, he thought very great care should be taken to employ soldiers only for work which they were fit to perform, and he very much doubted the expediency of employing soldiers in any examinations of accounts. He observed that the Director of the Store Department seemed to object to some alterations proposed in his Department, but he did not know whether the objections had any relation to the employment of soldiers. There was one other point upon which he wished to say a few words, although his right hon. and gallant Friend (General Peel) had already referred to the subject. He alluded to the case of the unfortunate temporary clerks who had been discharged. He felt that with respect to gentlemen in that position it was a most delicate matter for the House of Commons to interfere with the discretion of the Government as to their retention or dismissal. When a Department of the Government dealt with a large body of its servants in any way which led these gentlemen to consider themselves aggrieved, there was too great a tendency on the part of such persons to appeal to Members of Parliament to undertake the advocacy of their claims. He had had many such requests made to him, but he had always declined to interfere. In the case of these dismissed temporary clerks, however, he did wish to ask some questions. In the first place, he thought the manner in which they had been dealt with was hardly equitable, because they were now treated as temporary clerks, while of late years they had been dealt with in a manner that led them to believe they were something more. When there was a real temporary pressure, such as occurred during the Crimean war, and when there was reason to believe that such pressure would only last for two or three years, it would be unreasonable to allow the Department to enlarge its staff and to burden the country with a larger number of permanent officers than would ultimately be required. Nothing could be more reasonable than that a Secretary of State should be at liberty to employ temporarily a number of gentlemen, offering them certain salaries during the period of their employment, upon the understanding that their services might be dispensed with upon three months' notice. If the gentlemen to whom he now referred had been so dealt with immediately after the close of the Crimean war they would have had no ground for complaint. It might, indeed, be asked why should these gentlemen now complain, when they had been permitted to do work and to receive pay for nine or ten years, instead of having been discharged after being employed for only two or three years? It must, however, be borne in mind that when the emergency which led to their original employment had passed away and their services were still retained, these gentlemen had reason to believe that they were in a different position to mere temporary clerks. It appeared that it was from among these gentlemen that the clerks on the permanent establishment were usually selected, and of late gentle- men were never appointed to the establishment in the first instance, but were made temporary clerks, from which they might afterwards become permanent officers. That practice seemed to give the temporary clerks a certain status. The Committee on Army Organization, in 1860, took notice of the large number of temporary clerks, and recommended the discontinuance of the system of temporary appointments. Since that time, however, other temporary clerks had been appointed. In 1862 a Minute was passed which appeared to him to have deluded the gentlemen whose case he was considering. It appeared from that Minute that the clerks on the permanent establishment were selected from these so-called temporary clerks, who were divided into two classes for that purpose, and they had, besides, a system of advancing salaries, at the rate, some of £5 and some of £10 per annum, up to a maximum in certain cases of £250. Those gentlemen naturally regarded that arrangement as an indication on the part of the Department to recognize them as a class of officers whose services were to be retained. Of course that arrangement would not give any individual clerk a ground of complaint if he were dismissed for misconduct, nor even if it were deemed proper to reduce the establishment in consequence of a diminution in the amount of work to be done. But when it was proposed to substitute an arrangement that would not be less expensive than that which it was to replace, and which was described by those who recommended it as an experiment, when they were proposed to be superseded in favour of another and a new class, then he thought these gentlemen had some reasons for complaint of the manner in which they had been dealt with. When they contrasted their own treatment with that of other gentlemen upon the establishment they could not think but that they had been hardly dealt with. In the Returns which had been laid before Parliament he found that among the permanent clerks whose services had been dispensed with was a gentleman—Mr. Wilson—a third-class clerk, now aged thirty, who had been ten years in the service, and whose salary at the time of the reduction of the establishment was £190. The pension allotted to that gentleman was £47 10s. a year, which represented a larger amount than he would have been entitled to receive under the Superanuation Act if he had retired from ill-health. The gentleman's services had been dispensed with on account of a reduction in the establishment. That gentleman was only thirty years of age now, and would probably have little difficulty in obtaining private employment, or if the Government chose they might again employ him. For his ten years' service he would receive nearly £50 a year for the rest of his life, or, according to probability, a total amount of £2,000. The temporary clerks were men of forty or fifty years of age, who had, many of them, been employed nine, ten, and eleven years, and the whole amount of gratuity to all those gentlemen was £2,000, or about as much as would be paid to the gentlemen who had only served ten years. He did not find fault with the amount awarded to that gentleman, except as an indication that every change induced fresh expense. The temporary clerks, men of forty or fifty years of age, who had served the Department so long, were placed in a difficulty, because at their ages they could not readily obtain employment in private business, and they complained of hardship, because their expectations of permanent retention had been encouraged by the continuance of their employment in the public service after the original pressure upon the Department had passed away. It would be very reasonable that these gentlemen should come forward and ask to be treated with a little more liberality. There were instances, too, of great inequality in the mode in which these gentlemen were dealt with as compared with one another. For instance, one gentleman, Mr. Hodgson, fifty-four years of age, after eleven years of service, only received a retiring allowance of £103, while another gentleman of twenty-five years of age, after a service of one year and four months, had a retiring allowance of £26 5s.; that was, for one-tenth of Mr. Hodgson's service he got a quarter of his allowance. Of course, £26 5s. would be a great deal more valuable to a gentleman of twenty-five years, who might reasonably hope to obtain other employment, than £103 would be to a gentleman of fifty-four years. He did not mean to say that there had been any favouritism shown, but the principle which had been followed of giving a month's pay in respect of three year's service certainly had worked most unfairly with respect to some of the clerks. Looking to the spirit of the Superannuation Act, the noble Marquess would see that there was as much reason why an additional allowance should be made to these gentlemen as to the permanent clerks. They only received one month's pay in respect of three years service; but if they had been permanent clerks they would have had one month for each year; and an addition on account of being dispensed with for the convenience of the Office. Therefore, considering that they were dispensed with in order to allow an experiment to be carried out which might not be successful, they had a right to complain of the treatment. He wished to ask the noble Marquess whether this system of temporary clerks was to be continued, as there was nothing in the Report which would lead any one to suppose that it was to be abandoned. If so, was it to be continued on the footing of the Minute of 1862; and he should like to hear the noble Marquess's opinion as to the effect which this mode of dealing with these gentlemen would have on the good feeling and right spirit of the Office generally. He wished also to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he thought it would be possible to take into his consideration a plan which would get rid of all the difficulties attending temporary clerks by establishing a copying office for the use of the whole public service. He made these remarks because he had some experience of these Committees and of the manner in which their recommendations had been set aside after a great deal of dissatisfaction and expense, and because he was much dissatisfied with the main principle of these recommendations, and felt convinced that before many years, if they were acted on, there would be a re-action against them and a modification of them. As these changes were said to be made for the sake of inspiriting and invigorating the Department generally, they had a right to enter more minutely than might otherwise have been necessary into the manner in which they were likely to operate on the feelings of the clerks. The Report pointed out that the Office at present was not worked with the energy with which it ought it to be, but he did not believe that this was the way to infuse a right spirit into it. Some arrangement, such as that of a general office of subordinate clerks, from which the higher ranks could be filled by promotion, would, it appeared to him, have the best tendency to promote the zeal and energy of the different departments. He wished, therefore, to ask the noble Marquess whether he did not think that the change in the Accountant General's office would not weaken the check of the Audit Board; whether any measures were likely to be taken to improve the control of the Audit Office over the War Department; and whether he thought the separation of the audit in the War Office from the Accountant General's Department a measure likely to conduce to economy?


said, he thought that the prospect opened out to well conducted soldiers and non-commissioned officers by this scheme would attract a better class of men into the army, and would improve its general standing and morality. He therefore cordially thanked the noble Marquess for the share which he had taken in it.


I will take the opportunity first of referring to a statement made by me on a previous occasion, of which I have been reminded by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (General Peel), as to the effect produced on the War Office by the publication of this Report. I do not think I used the words quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, that "the Report had been received with entire satisfaction in the War Office." On the contrary, I said there was great excitement in the War Office, more with reference to the result of this debate than the Report of the Committee, and that as far as I knew the Report had been well received in the War Office. I am quite willing now to admit that I have reason to believe that statement was not correct, and that the clerks in the War Office, I am sorry to say, look upon the Report with considerable suspicion, and believe that it will be extremely injurious to their prospects. I should be most willing to correct any mistake I might have made, but the extreme irregularity of the manner in which the incorrectness of the statement referred to was brought under my notice prevents me from saying more on this occasion, and from taking any additional notice of the statements, there made. But although I am willing to admit that the feeling of the War Office is contrary to the recommendations of this Committee, still, much as I may regret that circumstance, it does not make any difference to my mind in the soundness of the views expressed in that Report. Criticisms have been passed both in and out of this House on that Report, on the manner in which the questions touched on in it are discussed, and on the manner in which the recommendations it makes are set forth. It is quite possible that if the Report had been intended to be published it would have been expressed in a different manner—that it would have gone into a much fuller explanation of various points. But it must be borne in mind that the Report was not drawn up for the information of the House of Commons or the public, but for the guidance of the Secretary of State, by whom the Committee was appointed, who, of course, was intimately acquainted with the position of the Office and the circumstances which led to the appointment of the Committee. I had no objection to lay the Report on the table; but it never occurred to me, or any Member of the Committee, that the Report was to be published, and it is possible, therefore, that to persons not intimately conversant with the interior arrangement of the War Office it is not so clear as it might have been. The right hon. Gentleman complains that no explanation was given of the reasons for the appointment of this Committee, and that the instructions to it have not been laid on the table. Several reasons induced Lord de Grey to come to the opinion that improvements might be made in the working of the War Office. In the first place, ever since 1856, in spite of all the efforts of successive Secretaries of State, a continual increase had been going on in the number of the clerks in the War Office, and in spite of that increase the work was not performed any more rapidly or regularly. The work frequently fell into arrear, even when there was no extraordinary pressure, and the business was not attended to with the desired promptitude and ability. Besides these general reasons for making certain inquiries into the working of the office, probably it is within the knowledge of a considerable number of hon. Gentlemen that during the course of last year circumstances occurred which more specifically drew attention to its organization. At that time certain irregularities were discovered to have existed in the Office for a considerable time, which showed that in some parts of the Office there was a very serious want of proper supervision. Upon looking at the constitution of the establishment, it appeared that while some of its branches were en- tirely without the supervision necessary to preserve proper discipline, in others the porportion of superior clerks was so large that their services as supervisors were almost thrown away. These were the principal reasons which led to the appointment of the Committee whose Report is now under discussion. The hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote) complains that the instructions given to the Committee have not been laid upon the table of the House. But as far as I recollect those instructions were of a very general nature, and allowed the Committee a considerable latitude in the prosecution of their investigations. The principal point in this Report which has been referred to, and the only one on which any difference of opinion was entertained in the Committee itself, is the recommendation that the promotions in the War Office should no longer be divided into two classes, but should be from a much greater number of branches. The principle contained in this recommendation is not by any means a new one. At the re-organization of the War Office, in 1856, the promotions were extended throughout the whole Office indiscriminately, but upon the recommendation of a Committee, which sat later to inquire into the working of the account branch, it was separated from the other departments so far as regards promotion. The opinions we have received upon the subject tend to show that this subdivision of promotion, so far as it has gone, has been productive of very good results. The Committee, whose Report has just been laid upon the table, examined very carefully, not only the heads of the different departments, but also other gentlemen whose opinions were of value upon the subject, as to what would be the probable effect of extending the principle further, and the evidence received was almost unanimously in favour of the course proposed to be adopted. Not only is the principle known already in the War Office, but it is the principle adopted in the Admiralty, and which, so far as the organization of the Office itself is concerned, is found to work well. In fact, in the Admiralty the office was sub-divided for the purpose of promotion into very much smaller divisions than are recommended in this Report. It appears to me, and I think every other person who has taken the trouble to look into the subject will agree with me on the point, that the reasons for the proposed subdivision are very strong indeed. The hon. Member for Stamford (Sir Stafford Nothcote) admitted that the principle at present regulating promotion at the War Office is one which cannot be defended. It cannot be right that when a vacancy occurs in a particular branch, a gentleman in such branch should be promoted to perform the duties of the higher office so vacated without receiving an increase of pay, while in another branch a gentlemen received an increase of pay without obtaining any promotion in point of rank. This certainly was not the intention of Lord Panmure, when he directed that upon any vacancy occurring in any branch of such a nature as to cause a promotion, the head of the branch in which such vacancy occurred was to recommend to the permanent Under Secretary of State the gentleman whom he thought most fit to fill the vacant office. This is shown by the fact that neither Lord Panmure himself, nor any succeeding Secretary of State for War, has observed this regulation. On this point the Committee say— We do not question the motives by which those who are responsible for the selection of clerks for promotion have been governed. We have no doubt that they have been iufluenced solely by a desire to carry out the regulations in the manner best calculated to reconcile the claims of individuals with the requirements of the public service; but it appears to us that anomalies of the character to which we have referred are inseparable from a system which attempts to give promotion as the reward of general merit by selection from a wide range of Departments, the duties of which vary in character, and many of which have little in common beyond the circumstance of their being subject to the authority of the Secretary of State for War. It is because we found it impossible to carry out the regulations of Lord Panmure that we have recommended the system of branch promotion which has already been found to work satisfactorily. The right hon. and gallant Member (General Peel) says he does not attach much weight to the opinions of the heads of the different branches; but, if you are not to take the opinions of those gentlemen, it would be exceedingly difficult to effect any improvement in the Office. Those gentlemen are responsible to the Secretary of State for the manner in which the work of the Office is performed, and they must know better than other persons the system of promotion under which they would be able most efficiently to perform it. It is quite possible that in some cases heads of departments may take up erroneous views upon particular points, but where we find that they concur in their opinions, I think we should give those opinions considerable weight in coming to a decision upon the subject. The reason for the extraordinary system at present in operation being adopted was, no doubt, this:—When a vacancy has occurred in any particular branch in which no one appeared to be deserving of immediate promotion, and when a clerk in another branch did deserve promotion, the head of the Department in which the vacancy occurred might, undoubtedly, have selected a clerk from another branch; but it has been found in practice that the heads of the Departments would rather conduct the business of their office with the men they had before, and even with a reduced staff than bring into it to perform responsible duties a man unacquainted with them, and who, before he was of much service, must go through a sort of apprenticeship. It is all very well to talk of teaching the young clerks the work of all the various branches; but it often takes a great part of a man's official life to enable him to thoroughly master one branch alone. No doubt, something might be done in that direction by making young clerks serve first in one office and then in another, but a thorough knowledge of the duties required cannot be obtained by devoting time to more than one or two branches. It would be quite unreasonable to expect that a man who has been employed' for a certain number of years in the medical office should go as a second or third class clerk into the Works Department, where he would have to enter upon duties of a completely different character from that which he has been previously occupied with, and for which his former occupation to a great extent unfits him. Reference has been made to the anticipated economical results from the change recommended; but I must state that the recommendations of the Committee were not made with the view of effecting an immediate saving upon this Vote; our principal object being to increase the efficiency of the Office, and any economy which may result from the changes will be only a secondary consideration. However, an immediate saving will result from the alterations proposed, the amount of which we hope will increase in the course of years, as the heads of Departments, in consequence of the increased efficiency of their respective branches, will be able to dispense with a considerable number of the clerks at present employed in them. In no instance, or hardly in any, have we recommended the reduction of the number of persons employed in any branch, but it is hoped that in several instances it will in the future be* found possible to effect such a diminution. When re-organization was still under consideration, and it was therefore impossible to state accurately what would be the cost of the War Office during the present year, we asked for a sum less by £10,000 than that voted last year, and I believe that if the arrangements which we have recommended are carried out the saving which will be effected will exceed that amount. According to a statement, which I am sorry I have not at hand, the saving resulting from the immediate adoption will this year be about £7,000, and in a few years, even with the existing establishment, it will reach £15,000 a year. If the number of clerks employed in several branches are reduced, as it is anticipated will be the case, the saving will, of course, be considerably increased. The hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford (Sir Stafford Northcote) asked me what were our reasons for recommending the subdivision of the Accountant General's branch of the War Office. One of our principal reasons was this:—As the hon Baronet is probably aware, the irregularities to which I have already referred occurred in the Accountant General's branch. When we looked into its organization we found that that branch was too large to be effectively superintended by a single individual, and it appeared to us that any arrangement by which 240 clerks should no longer be placed under the personal supervision of one gentleman would of itself be an improvement. We also thought that it would he advantageous to separate the duties connected with the keeping of accounts and the preparation of Estimates from those of their examination by the Board of Audit. The Committee had no desire to procure any alteration of the functions of the Board of Audit with reference to the expenditure of the funds voted by Parliament, and, as far as I am aware, the duties of that Board remain exactly as they were. The only division is a division of the duties performed in the Accountant General's branch. The hon. Baronet is, no doubt, aware that a large part of the work of that branch is the examination and checking of accounts. The accounts of the paymaster of every regiment, of the controller of army expen- diture, and of every person who is authorized to spend money on the part of the War Department at any station whatever come to the Accountant General's office to be minutely checked and compared with the vouchers. That is very different business from the settlement of claims, or the discussion of questions of the pay and allowances of officers, or from keeping the accounts which have to be presented to Parliament, or preparing the Estimates. It, therefore, seemed to us that the business of this branch naturally separated itself into the two divisions which we have recommended should be established—namely, the Chief Accountant's and the Chief Auditor's branches. Lord De Grey immediately accepted our recommendation, and it would be still more satisfactory to him if the audit duties could be entirely removed from the War Office. It is, no doubt, wrong in principle that the same persons should have the power of allowing a payment, and also that of auditing the accounts, and if any arrangement could be devised by which the audit and examination of accounts should be removed from the War Office, I am sure that no one would be more pleased than should we at the office and the Secretary of State himself. That subject was discussed by the Committee, but it appeared that the same documents which are required for the examination of the accounts are afterwards needed for the preparation of those which have to be presented to Parliament, and that therefore it did not seem possible to place the two descriptions of clerks under different roofs, and it would be impossible entirely to separate the audit from the War Office. Another recommendation of the Committee was that a lower class of clerks should be employed in some branches of the Office. Such a suggestion has frequently been made in this House, and I am sure that every one will agree with me that it is one which may with advantage be carried out, at least to a certain extent. In the first place, the effect upon the Office itself will be good. It will diminish the number of temporary clerks; and, as the number of the third class will be reduced in proportion to the number of the upper classes, it will improve the prospects of promotion of clerks who enter the office in future. It will also be of advantage to the army that soldiers should have a prospect of obtaining one of these appointments on their retirement from the service. Hon. Members will see that the Committee have not made any very definite recommendation with reference to the employment of this class of clerks, thinking it better that the principle should be left for gradual introduction as opportunities presented themselves. Some heads of Departments are already employing them. The Director of Stores is gradually increasing the number employed in his branch, and other heads of Departments think that they may be employed with advantage, but it is not a change that they are willing to adopt very rapidly. The best and safest way is to employ one or two at first to find out for what sort of work they are fitted, and gradually to extend the number as may be convenient. The Committee will see that we have recommended that in some branches there should be no establishment clerks—as, for instance, the branch of the Director of "Works and the Barrack Department. The work of the latter Department will be done entirely by barrack masters and barrack clerks. Barrack clerks, as the Committee are aware, are all of them men who have been in the army, and therefore the experiment will be pretty extensively tried in that branch; and, if it answers there, there can be no reason why it should not be extended to some other Departments. The only other subject to which I need allude is the dismissal of temporary clerks. I cannot admit that anything has ever happened in the War Office which has given these gentlemen any right to suppose that the conditions upon which they entered the Office had been altered. It is quite true that many of them have been retained for a much longer period than they could possibly have anticipated when they entered the Office; but they must always have had distinctly in view the possibility, not to say the probability, of the termination of their service. That this has been so is shown by the fact that temporary clerks have always used the greatest possible exertions to get themselves placed upon the permanent establishment. It certainly is the fact that in many cases temporary clerks have become permanent; but none of those recently dismissed could have anticipated such a result, because they were too old to be admitted to the establishment. I quite admit that the position of those clerks is very much to be regretted, and that the employment of such a class is a practice which it is not desirable to encourage. The reason why so many temporary clerks have been retained up to this time has been that the authorities at the War Office have never since its reorganization been convinced that alterations such as those now recommended might not be necessary; and therefore it has not been thought desirable to increase to the full requirements of the Department the establishment the reduction of which would necessarily be attended with more difficulties than would that of the number of temporary clerks. The hon. Baronet inquires whether it is intended to continue the system of employing temporary clerks. Now, as I have stated already, we hope the effect of the recommendations which we have made will be to enable us to reduce in many cases the number of clerks employed, and it would therefore be unwise to diminish the number of those we hare a right to dismiss without burdening the country with pensions. I cannot, I may add, admit that those clerks have been treated harshly, because, not only have the terms been kept with them under which they entered the public service, but they have received a larger amount of gratuity than that to which they were absolutely entitled under the terms on which they entered the Office. I very much regret that they should be thrown on the world without any certain means of subsistence; but it nevertheless appears to me to be perfectly clear that if a man makes a bargain with the State he can have no just cause of complaint if that bargain be kept. If it is not open to the Government to act upon the engagements into which they enter under those circumstances, I cannot see what is the object of making temporary engagements at all. The hon. Baronet says that these men have been dismissed solely for the purpose of trying an experiment; and it certainly is an experiment to this extent, that we propose to try something which is novel; but I do not know to what passage in the Report of the Committee he refers when he speaks in those terms. All their recommendations have been carefully considered, and our intention is that the arrangement to which he alludes shall be a permanent one. There are some other points which have been raised in the course of this discussion to which I have omitted to reply, but I think I have alluded to all the prominent topics which have been mentioned. I very much regret that these recommendations should be looked upon unfavourably in the Office. I believe that the clerks very much miscalculated the effect they are likely to pro- duce. I do not believe the effect of the arrangements in question will be to injure the prospects of the clerks in the "War Office, but rather to cause promotion in the Office to be distributed more equally and fairly than has hitherto been the case.


I wish to say a few words in reply to one or two questions which have been put by my hon. Friend opposite. My hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote) referring to the Audit Office, asked whether it was proposed that its functions should be extended. Now, as he is aware, a new appointment has been recently made to the chair of that office, and it is the hope and intention of the Government that the jurisdiction of the Board may be extended, and their hands strengthened in the execution of their important duties in the spirit of the recommendations made by the Committee on Public Moneys on the subject. It would be premature to enter into details which are of a highly technical and departmental character. I shall not, therefore, go beyond the general declaration that it is intended to give as much strength as possible to the Audit Office for the performance of its duties, and to make the circle of those duties as wide as possible. My hon. Friend has also asked whether we have any plan in view for the formation of a general copying-office for the purpose of discharging those mechanical duties which are connected with the higher work of the political departments of the State. In replying to that question, I may be allowed to observe that I think my noble Friend has succeeded in showing that no hardship has been inflicted in the particular case which has formed the main subject of this discussion. At the same time I should be disposed to admit that there is unavoidable inconvenience attaching to the system of employing temporary clerks; because if I understand the case which my hon. Friend opposite has sought to make out, it comes to this, that there has been so much anxiety on the part of the War Office to improve the condition of those gentlemen where they could do it, by adopting them into the establishment, and by recognizing claims in some degree outside their position as temporary clerks, that the course now taken is open to objection on the ground that the more kind the authorities were, the more unkind they were, or at least seemed to be. I do not, therefore, hesitate to say that there is great force and justice in the view of my hon. Friend, with regard to the general expediency of establishing a copying-office, in which duties of a mechanical character might be performed. I am not, however, in a position to inform him that we have made any progress towards the execution of that design. No one knows better than my hon. Friend, who has had the greatest experience and has exhibited the greatest zeal in dealing with such questions, what important changes the adoption of a principle of that kind would involve in the present organization of our public departments, and in many privileges and usages which were highly valued, and that it might prove a complete failure in connection with the administration of those departments. It is, in point of fact, only under a very favourable concurrence of circumstances that such a plan could, in my opinion, be carried into effect. In principle I fully and cordially concur with my hon. Friend; in practise I shall be always ready to promote his view to the utmost of my power; but I am unable at present to see any combination of circumstances so favourable as would warrant the Government in stating that they could hold out any prospect of being able to accomplish this result.


said, he could not clearly understand from the speech of the noble Marquess what it was the Government actually proposed to do, whether they intended to follow the rule laid down by Lord Panmure or not, which rule was to receive recommendations from the heads of each branch of the War Department whenever a vacancy causing promotion occurred, and promote according to merit, but this rule had not been followed even by Lord Panmure himself. A Report of a Committee which had sat on the organization of the War Office had been laid on the table of the House, and the majority had recommended that promotion, as a rule, should go in the separate branches of the Department, but the Commissioners did not agree, and Sir Edward Lugard protested against it. No doubt in the smaller branches there would be some hardship to clerks in it from the lesser chances of promotion, but in the larger this objection would not affect them, and in fact promotion was now separate in the Medical branch, in the Accountant General's branch, and he believed in the Fortification branch. A clerk who was ac- quainted with the business of his own branch might be quite ignorant of the one to which he was promoted, and as they were at present promoted indifferently the "War Department authorities made the promotion, but kept the clerk in his own branch. Thus they had secured several higher class clerks in one department while another was conducted by subordinate officers. This was absurd. Some rule of promotion should be observed, and even were the rule of branch promotion adopted they could retain the power of promoting extraorninary merit and qualification. But the Secretaries of State had often made appointments with singular indifference to the claims of the best candidates. As to the consolidation of the War Office regulations, we had often pressed it on the War Department, but he thought that could be better done by a board of officers than by a person whose experience could furnish him with no qualification for the office. There were several important recommendations on which the noble Lord had not touched. A considerable check upon the expenditure in colonial stations formerly existed in the fact that it was under the control of what were called respective officers, they were the chief ordnance officers on the station, to whom the accounts were submitted previous to their being forwarded to the Government. Their Report as to the expediency of any proposed outlay formed a considerable check on extravagance. A very large number of cash transactions had lately been transferred to the Commissariat, and the Report stated that though the department might be able to perform the duty in time of peace, in time of war it would be impossible that the Commissariat could continue to conduct those transactions which were perfectly inconsistent with their proper duties. The noble Lord had not alluded to this branch of the subject. He hoped, also, he would be able to state what the intentions of the Government were as to Paymasters. Paymasters formerly were elected from officers who had seen service, but recently these positions had been conferred very often upon civilians. He hoped the noble Lord would be able to assure the House that in future pay-masterships would be given only to military men, to whom they ought properly to belong. The revision of the different orders and regulations of the army as to finance and discipline was, as he had stated, most desirable. There was now a mass of orders from the time, he believed, of Anne, which had become a confused mass which few could understand. It was known that one order cancelled the other, or part of another, then another re-enacted it, and nothing was more difficult for an officer to know than the rules by which his duty was to be carried on, but to revise these orders into a code required great knowledge and experience. They referred to every possible requirement of an army, as to material and discipline, as to duties on land and on board ship, embarkation of troops, promotion, and every conceivable position of cavalry, infantry, and artillery. One officer, however experienced, would shrink from such a task, and it should have been intrusted to a board from each branch, assisted by an experienced Paymaster and army agent, but this task was committed not even to a soldier but to a civilian, the successful author of a novel. He might be a very respectable gentleman, but clearly the appointment was not made for the benefit of the public service. This attempt at revision or codification of the orders for the army as now made was laughed at by the officers, because it was intrusted to a person who was totally unfit for such a task. He did not know exactly by whom the affairs of the militia were administered, but evidently they were not in good hands, for the militia regiment which he had the honour to command remained unprovided with bedding, money, and a great many other requisites many days after the time appointed by the regulations had elapsed. He thought there ought to be some definite rule with regard to the retirement of barrack masters, who at present were generally appointed late in life, and having no allowance to retire upon remained in the public service till they were much too old for the proper performance of the duties of that office. No rule of retirement, civil or military, applied to these officers, many of whom were distinguished and had served their country faithfully. With regard to the temporary clerks, he thought that it was unfair to treat persons who had spent ten years of their lives in the service of the public in the light of temporary servants. The saving which the noble Marquess expected to effect was apparent, he thought, rather than real, as would appear on a comparison of items in the accounts.


said, he was very happy to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer say what he had done as to the unsatisfactory arrangement with the temporary clerks, for nothing could be more absurd, to say nothing of its injustice, than that they should have two sets of clerks in the public service, performing the same duties, the one class being termed established clerks and the other temporary clerks; though many of the latter class were retained almost for life, while others had served some for twelve years, some for ten, some for eight, and so on down to one year; some of them being between forty and fifty years of age, and having families dependent upon them, and who, believing themselves fixed in their positions, were suddenly thrown upon the world. He had received a letter of complaint that morning from a gentleman thus circumstanced, who was forty-three years of age. All men of experience knew how difficult it was to find occupation for young men of twenty; but in the other case it he-came almost impossible. The Government contended that these gentlemen had had justice done to them by receiving gratuities of £100 on leaving the service. It was true that they might be beyond the letter of the Superannuation Act, but equitably and morally their claims ought to be fairly considered, and he believed the House would have supported any moderate proposition for meeting the just demands of a number of gentlemen, thirty-two in number, thus circumstanced. He regretted that that system should have been adopted, and he trusted that hereafter those who served the public efficiently would be considered as permanently appointed—thereby avoiding the ridiculous distinction of one set of men being viewed as permanent clerks, and another set of men as temporary clerks, when the services rendered by both were precisely identical.


said he agreed in what his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Dunne) had stated with regard to what are called the respective officers, but he did not perceive any intention on the part of the Government to do away with them. They were useful in curtailing expenditure, and he hoped they would not be interfered with or abolished. He agreed with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Malins) that the temporary clerks were very hardly dealt with. The complaint was not so much that they had been removed, as that the gratuity given to them on their removal was insufficient. The Committee and the noble Marquess appeared to be of opinion that the number of clerks was too large for the service to be performed. A diminution in the number being thus necessary, the question was in what class the reduction ought to be made. It must have been felt that whenever a reduction did take place it would be among the temporary clerks taken on during the Crimean war. The fact was they ought to have been weeded out before now. The noble Marquess did not say that the work at the War Office was well done. If so, and if there were inefficient men, let them be removed. The true remedy was to institute an effective supervision of the staff, to see that no more clerks were employed than were actually required, and to take care that these were efficient and well paid. The work at present was not done with accuracy. There was an error, for example, in page 9 of the Estimates, of £443,000 in the addition of the sum total of the first column, and which it was presumed was prepared in the Office of the Accountant General's Department, and this was in a document laid before the House of Commons. The noble Marquess must be aware that the question of promotion was a difficult one, and it presented only a choice of evils. Some one had recommended that the clerks should be two years in each branch of the Department, but there were no fewer than fifteen branches in the War Office, and it would take a man thirty years to go the round of the whole of them. To promote a man from the medical branch, in which he was efficient, to the works' branch, of which he knew nothing, would be absurd. The best system of promotion was a branch promotion; and then, whatever evils occurred, the men would at least know the work they were called upon to do. If some of the branches were too small, they might be put into groups like Railway Bills before a Committee of the House. Nothing could be more absurd than to advance a man from one department with which he was thoroughly acquainted to fill a vacancy in another department of the details of which he was utterly ignorant. No promotion ought to be made at all if an efficient man could not be obtained in the service to fill the vacancy. The public service was the first thing to be attended to, and promotion to the public servants the next. It was stated that the clerks at the War Office were dissatisfied, and had sent in a representation to the Secretary of State for War. As this was a public document, he confessed he should like to see it, that the House might know what complaints were made. The work of the Department would never be properly done without an efficient supervision. There were 240 clerks in the Department of the Accountant General, and how could they be supervised by one man? The noble Marquess proposed, with a view to economy, to introduce soldiers as clerks in the War Department. This would be very useful under due regulations. No one had a higher opinion of military men than he had, but he advised caution, for the arrangement would be productive of much good or much mischief. If the War Office took the best men from the regiments to employ them as clerks they would cripple the efficiency of the regiments. There was a great want of good orderly clerks and paymaster's clerks—as every one who had the honour of commanding a regiment well knew—and in many cases they could be very ill-spared. But if the War Office gave employment to retired soldiers and pensioners great benefit would be conferred on the service by the encouragement to good conduct which it would produce. With this exception, he should deprecate a large drain from the military service for civil work, and would rather say, "Let the soldier keep to his musket and the clerk to his pen." He hoped that the noble Marquess would re-consider the question of promotion, and that such a plan would be adopted as would do justice to all without outraging the feelings of honourable and worthy men in the service.


said, there was another question besides those of promotion and the temporary clerks—namely, whether the attempt which the War Office was making to effect a reform in the Department should meet with obstruction or support in the House. It was clear that the noble Lord at the head of the War Office was anxious to have the work of his Office done in the best possible way. The noble Lord on finding that the existing arrangements of the War Office did not work well, caused an investigation to be made, which resulted in a Report drawn up by competent men. And upon the recommendations contained in such Report the noble Lord acted. It would not be possible in any but a public Department that a large business should be conducted as it was in the War Office. For what was it that was wanted? In the first place, that people who were fitted for the work should be put to do it, and in the second, that they should be properly paid. But the arrangements of the War Office were not calculated to carry either of these principles into effect. Was it not an extraordinary thing that when there was a vacancy in one department there should be a promotion in another? If, for instance, in his own business a man engaged in the selling department were to die or to be removed and he were to put in his place somebody from the book keeper's department it would be thought a very injudicious thing. Well, the War Office did not do exactly that, but they put a man to do higher work, for which he was not paid, and they paid a man in another department for work he did not do. The principle laid down as to promotion was found to be so extraordinary and unbusinesslike that even the heads of the departments in the War Office were themselves often compelled to deviate from it, and did not take persons from one department to fill vacancies in another that was wholly different. With regard to the temporary clerks it was impossible not to feel for them much pity, but the War Office were not to keep persons whom they did not want. Therefore the whole question was whether the gentlemen so employed were entitled to a pension or not. He did not wish to prejudice the Committee against a proposal to grant those clerks a pension should the Government wish to grant it, but it should not be forgotten that the word "temporary" seemed to exclude any right of that kind. The whole question turned upon this—whether they had ever been induced to believe that they had ceased to be temporary clerks. He was inclined to think that they had not, and he had come to that conclusion not merely from having read the Report, but from one or two cases which he had known, in which the persons laboured very hard to get themselves removed from the temporary to the permanent establishment. The thanks of the Committee were due to the noble Lord at the head of the War Department for the exertions he had made to reform it.


said, his object in rising was to prove that the modus operandi in the proposed reformation in the War Department could not be satisfactory because it was not just. The Secretary of State had very properly determined to reduce the number of clerks in the War Office, and he applied to the Treasury to know what they would do. The Treasury, instead of saying that they desired to know who were willing to quit the Office under the Superanuation Act, issued a Minute authorizing the Secretary of State to grant at his discretion to clerks who wished to retire, and who had served twenty years, a bonus calculated on a service of ten years, and to those who had served fifteen, a bonus for seven year's service, and so on in proportion. "When that became known, many if not most of the best clerks wished to avail themselves of the terms; and no wonder they did, because the bonus was of such a magnitude as to serve as a premium upon retirement—a thing which was hardly compatible with the good of the public service. The Government were, of course, very unwilling to accept the resignation of their best men, and by some means or other it was made known in the Department that it would be convenient if every officer who did not obtain the approval of his superior should retire. Accordingly, the resignations of many had been sent in and accepted. But with regard to those who had done their duty efficiently the Government would neither accept their resignations nor make their status better by increasing their chances of promotion. It was a painful thing for a man to feel that when he had done his duty he should be refused an advantage which had been given to those whom it was acknowledged had not done so. He trusted that this matter would be re-considered, and that those who were really efficient would obtain better remuneration.


said, he did not participate in that feeling of gratitude towards the noble Marquess for his endeavours on this question which the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) said he thought the Committee should experience. Neither did he believe the clerks of the War Office were at all grateful for the treatment they had met with from the Government. There were two portions of the Department to which the Report did not refer—namely, the highest and the lowest. He wished to call the attention of the Committee to the enormous sum of £5,739 for messengers, and the additional item of £992 for boys to do the work for them. That was not quite in accordance with the economy of which so much was heard from the opposite Benches, and which was so rigidly enforced towards the service. For instance, a memorandum had been issued inquiring whether any reduction in the allowance of soft soap for cleaning the harness for field batteries, and which was now fixed at three-quarters of a pound per horse per month, and of one penny per horse per month for veterinary medicines, could be judiciously recommended. When military men saw such petty economy practised in their case, it was no wonder they should look with jealousy at the enormous sums granted for the civil part of the service. He trusted the noble Marquess would look out for old soldiers who for smaller pay would do the work which was now done by boys. It was pretty well known that the great duty of the boys was to do the work for the messengers who were too fat and too lazy to do it.


said, that the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Dunne) had referred to a great many points incidentally mentioned in the Report as bearing on the administration of the War Office. Into the regulations of the Commissariat and the; intended arrangements in the barrack department he would not enter, because they did not affect the administration of the War Office. But the consolidation of the finance regulations did affect it, and on this subject the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Dunne) would have done better to postpone his ridicule until he had seen the consolidation and knew what was its result. As to the statement that no good could be done except by a board of officers, he quite agreed that if new regulations were to be framed for the payment of officers and men, it might be necessary that, if officers were not employed to frame them, they should be consulted on the subject. But here there was no question of framing now regulations; the only thing to be done was to arrange and modify regulations already in existence, so that they might be easily understood by all who might refer to them. On a former occasion he had stated the reasons which led the Government to think that this consolidation would be better done by a civilian accustomed to such work than by any officer, and he felt convinced that the army would not follow the example of the hon. and gallant Member, and prematurely ridicule a work which they had not yet had an opportunity of seeing. As to the remarks of the hon. Member (Mr. Angerstein), the proposal of the Treasury was by no means a general invitation to the gentlemen in the "War Office to retire upon certain terms; it was simply an intimation that as a reduction had to be made in the establishment, the authorities would be prepared to entertain applications for retirement by such gentlemen as might be recommended by the Secretary of State. It was quite obvious that those applications could only be entertained to a limited extent. Earl de Grey was quite aware that the task of selection would be a difficult and a delicate one, and he therefore appointed a sub-committee of officials in the War Office to consider whose services might be best dispensed with, and whose services it would be impossible conveniently to dispense with. This committee went carefully into the subject, and in every case their recommendations were carried out; so that there was no exercise of private influence, and, so far as he could see, no hardship or injustice had been done. Some remarks had been made as to the number of messengers in the War Office. The attention of Earl de Grey had been called to the subject, and the result was that no new messengers had been appointed, and it might be found possible, in the course of time, to make some further reduction. It was an error to suppose that the boys in the office were kept to do the messengers' work; these boys were in reality employed in carrying papers from one part of the office to the other, which did not form part of the messengers' work.


disclaimed any feeling of hostility towards, or any wish to cast ridicule upon, the gentleman employed to consolidate these regulations, but he believed the feeling of the army to be, that that gentleman was not qualified for the work which required a knowledge of military details only possessed by officers.

Vote agreed to.