HC Deb 06 March 1865 vol 177 cc1118-9

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for India, When it was determined to re-employ Native Artillery in India, which by a Return just issued amounts to 2,052 men; and how many of the 68,336 European Troops in India are Artillery; and whether he proposes to maintain the disproportionate strength of 68,336 Europeans as against 274,713 Native Troops, Native Police, and other Native organized levies?


, in reply, said, his hon. Friend seemed to be under some misapprehension as to the re-employment of Native Artillery in India. Certain portions of the Native Artillery had never been discontinued. [Mr. VANSITTART: Not since the mutiny?] No. The Commission which sat in this country recommended that the artillery attached to the army in India should consist of Europeans, exceptions, however, being made in the case of particular stations where it was inexpedient to employ Europeans. Hence, as a rule, wherever troops were quartered the artillery consisted of Europeans; but in places where exposure to a very hot sun rendered it dangerous for white troops to be placed the duty was discharged by a Native force. Those Indian artillerymen, however, were only in charge of two or three guns at any one point, and were scattered about in very small numbers all over the country. The course adopted with regard to them was, therefore, entirely in accordance with the recommendations of the Indian Commission, which determined that a large special force of Native Artillery should no longer be maintained. The European artillery at present in India numbered between 12,000 and 13,000 men. The hon. Member appeared to think the aggregate European force disproportioned to the Native levies. The fact was that it was larger in proportion than at any previous period. Before the mutiny the Native army consisted of 265,000 men, and it has since been reduced to 114,000 men. So far from the of- ficers on the spot considering that too large a force, the Commander-in-Chief in India lately reported that the Native army in Bengal was overworked, and that he would rather increase than diminish its numbers. The police, also, had not been increased to any very great extent, and remembering that in old days about 40,000 of them were armed exactly like soldiers, whereas in future they were to be a purely civil force, he did not consider them as a source of any danger. Orders had been issued as to the arms they were to possess, and the muskets which some of them carried were to be withdrawn.