HC Deb 16 March 1866 vol 182 cc423-40

said, he rose to make the Motion on this subject which stood in his name, namely— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to appoint a Royal Commission, consisting of Military and Civilian Members, to inquire into the present constitution, system of education, and discipline of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, as well as into the general treatment of the gentlemen Cadets, as also into the rules and regulations under which candidates are admitted into those Colleges. A Royal Commission had not long ago inquired into the state of our Public Schools, and, although the results of its labours had not been all that might have been desired, still considerable benefits would accrue from them not only to the public schools themselves, but to the country at large. But, if it had been necessary to remedy the acknowledged evils of our public school system by issuing a Commission of Inquiry, surely it was not less needful to issue a Commission of Inquiry into our Military Colleges, upon whose good management depended the efficiency of those scientific branches of the army which the altered condition of warfare and the improvement of military science were daily rendering more important. That such an investigation was requisite was manifest from the fact that frequent outbreaks had taken place, and a feeling of insubordination had exhibited itself among the cadets at Woolwich and Sandhurst during the last few years. To understand the present state of matters it was necessary to revert for a moment to the past history of these two Colleges. The Royal Academy at Woolwich was founded in 1741. It then had only 35 cadets, who were entirely maintained and educated at the expense of the Government. In 1764 the pay of a gentleman cadet was half-a-crown a day, and this served to defray all the expenses of their living. During the American and Peninsular wars the number admitted to the Academy was increased and diminished according to the exigencies of the State. The College at Sandhurst, founded in 1803, owed its origin to the very defective state of education then existing in the unscientific branches of the army, and the very great difficulty of obtaining competent officers to command our regiments; and there, as at Woolwich, the practice also prevailed of defraying the expenses of maintaining and educating the cadets by Government grants. Before 1831 there was no regular annual payment for the cadets. They were, in fact, recipients of the Government's charity, and their condition was very different from what it had since become. Now, as a rule, annual payments were exacted from them, and they had come very much to occupy the position of students in other ordinary educational establishments. Passing over the interval between 1831 and 1855—not because there had been no grounds of complaint during that period, but because they had not obtained that prominence which had unfortunately belonged to them within the last few years—they came to the years 1855, 1856, and 1857, which were very remarkable in our military annals. The Crimean War was then brought to a close, and the Indian Mutiny had broken out. There were several so-called improvements—he would not use the word "reforms," because that had, perhaps, at present, a doubtful and ambiguous meaning—introduced at that time in every military department of the State, and among others the system of competitive examinations. Without discussing the merits or demerits of that system, it was a singular fact, and one worthy of note, that very shortly after the establishment of the system of competitive examination very marked symptoms of discontent began to show themselves among the cadets, both at Woolwich and Sandhurst. In 1860 there were serious disturbances at Woolwich. If he had been rightly informed, the guns in front of the Academy were loaded by the cadets with loaves of bread and fired at the Lieutenant Governor's windows; while at Sandhurst the cadets farmed themselves into a body and marched off to an earthwork situated in the College grounds and there took refuge for the space of some two hours. That secession of the Plebs to the Sacred Mount—if it might be so termed—was mainly put down by the judiciousness of the Governor, who seems to have displayed a temporizing policy resembling that of the celebrated Menenius Agrippa. In 1863 there were fresh disturbances in both of the Colleges. At Woolwich the outbreak arose, he believed, from the unpopularity of one of the subaltern officers; and the result of it was that some of the cadets took their practice swords and threw them into the bottom of the reservoir in the grounds of the Academy; one of the practice guns in front of the College being again surreptitiously fired off—a custom which appeared to take place on every succeeding anniversary of the great outbreak of 1860, as if to call the attention of the authorities to the existing state of things. Only last autumn there was again some practical joking at the expense of a corporal, which resulted In several cadets being rusticated or sent away, and which excited a great deal of scandal in the public newspapers at the time. Not that that in itself was a circumstance of very great moment, but when taken into consideration with other matters which he had already touched upon, it showed that a very serious feeling of insubordination and discontent continued to prevail among the cadets. Then came the very natural question, what was the origin and cause of all these disturbances? Grievances, they knew, were of two kinds; those that were imaginary and those that were real; and under the first head might be found some military and even political grievances He thought, however, he should be able to show that that was not the case with the cadets at the Military Colleges, but that, on the contrary, they had some real foundation for the feeling that had led to those outbreaks. Students were not in the habit of quarrelling with their bread and butter, or of living in a chronic state of insubordination, unless they had some good cause for it. There was no doubt that the origin of that state of things was that, whereas the age of admission at Woolwich was formerly from fourteen to sixteen, and at Sandhurst from thirteen to fifteen, it had been suddenly altered, and the cadets were admitted to both Colleges at from sixteen to nineteen years of age, and in the case of gentlemen who had been to the Universities even up to twenty-two and twenty-three. So that these Colleges for boys were losing their character and becoming Colleges for men. The case of a graduate who had passed his examination at a University and been admitted as a gentleman cadet in one of the Military Colleges would best illustrate his argument. Most hon. Members knew what College life in a University was. The graduate enjoyed a large amount of liberty and many privileges. He had a room to himself, luxuriously furnished, and a servant to wait upon him; and, provided he attended the appointed prayers and lectures, and returned to his room at a certain hour in the evening, nobody could interfere with him. He could amuse himself according to his tastes, entertain his friends, and, in fact, do almost whatever he pleased. Every house was open to him, except, perhaps, public and gambling houses, and places of a similar character. When, however, the youth entered the Military College, although in no way controlled by the Articles of War or the Mutiny Act, he was at once subjected to a discipline very severe—discipline, he might almost say, of a Spartan character. He had to share a room with three or four other cadets of like age, while his dormitory, instead of having a carpet laid upon the floor, was scattered with sand, and the furniture was of the commonest kind. His cupboard, too, in which he put his goods and chattels, was not inaptly termed a birdcage. The very convicts in the nearest prison were, to a certain extent, better off, seeing that they at least had privacy in their cells. Every morning the cadet was compelled to brush his own clothes and perform other menial duties. Wine and spirits were forbidden him, he not being allowed even to partake of those light wines with which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been so much identified. It was necessary for the House to recollect while he was making these statements that he was talking of young men nineteen years of age. Each cadet was allowed for his diet 2s. per day, which was disbursed by the College authorities; but at Sandhurst the food was much better than that supplied at Woolwich. The superiority I in this respect at the former place was i due to the industry and admirable management of the quartermaster; but at Woolwich the food was not only inferior in i quality, but scanty in quantity. Hon. Members who had been in the habit of paying 5s. or 6s. a day for their dinners would, perhaps, be able to imagine, he trusted that they might not realize, what luxury 2s. per diem would provide at Woolwich. Besides more than six hours' study each day, the cadet had to undergo drill for an hour and a half, and therefore he had few hours for leisure. He was at I all times compelled to wear his uniform, and unless he had on a good-conduct stripe could not quit the College and go beyond a distance of two miles. He was expected, too, to be in his rooms at ten o'clock, and the lights were extinguished at half past ten. These facts showed that the condition of the cadet was hard enough; but this was not all. The cadet was at the heck of subaltern officers, who could punish him for the most trivial irregularities. When he was sick he was not permitted to have attendance in his own room, like an Undergraduate at the University or a schoolboy at Eton or Harrow. He was placed in the common hospital, and treated like a private soldier, neither better nor worse. It was not necessary to go into the question of the length and severity of the studies at the Military Colleges, although it would be a fit subject for a Royal Commission to inquire into. He, however, called the attention of the House to the preliminary examination which every candidate was obliged to pass before he was permitted to enter Woolwich. According to the new regulations of the Council of Military Education every candidate was obliged to obtain 2,500 marks, 700 of which must be for pure mathematics. He held in his hand a syllabus of the differential and integral calculus which every candidate was obliged to pass before obtaining admission into the Academy, hut, as it was a subject of a somewhat abstruse character, he would not trouble hon. Members by reading it. It might suffice to say that he submitted several of the questions asked at the last July examination at Woolwich to a gentleman of great mathematical attainments, who was a tutor at one of the large Colleges at Cambridge, and his reply was, "It is quite impossible that young men of the age you speak of could answer these questions; it would require some of our best men, at least two or three years older, to do justice to them." There was another matter into which it was necessary that a Royal Commission should inquire and report upon. He had long—having regard to economy, to the interests of the country, and to the interests of the cadets—doubted the advantage of having two Military Colleges, believing that one would adequately supply all the necessary wants of the Army. This was not an original scheme of his, but it had been approved by very high military authorities, and had received the sanction of more than one War Minister. It was, in fact, brought before the House some years ago, and had it not been mixed up with the subject of competitive examinations, he believed the House of Commons would also have given its approval to the scheme. It was a matter, however, which required further consideration. The College of Marlow was founded at a time when military education was very defective, when a destructive war was raging which threatened our national existence, and when there was a great scarcity of competent officers. The circumstances of the present day, however, were very different from those at the time of the establishment of the College at Marlow. The country was not at war. There was now a Council of Military Education, which required every candidate for admission to the army to undergo a week's examination at the least. The necessity, therefore, for having a special College for the unscientific branches of the army no longer existed. He recommended that the two Colleges should be amalgamated. In that way—and this was an additional reason for the change—a great saving of public money would be effected. The Army Estimates for the present year showed that Woolwich cost about £9,000 more than it brought into the Exchequer, and Sandhurst £17,000. Now, were one College to be substituted for the two, £26,000 might be saved, and the 400 cadets now on the muster rolls of the two Colleges would be as well educated, and certainly better treated, for the money. The executive officers and professors at both Colleges were out of all proportion to the number of cadets. At Sandhurst, for instance, there were sixteen executive officers and twenty-nine professors to 222 cadets, or, in other words, there was one professor or executive officer to every five cadets. At Woolwich, however, it was even worse, for there there were fourteen executive officers and thirty-four professors to 180 cadets, or one professor or executive officer to every four cadets. He had made inquiries at the public schools and Universities, and found that in those establishments one master or tutor was held to be competent to educate and look after from twenty to twenty-five undergraduates or schoolboys. At Harrow there was one master to twenty-two boys, and the Public School Commission were of opinion that one master was quite competent to look after and educate some thirty boys. What was the inference to be drawn from these facts? Why, that there were too many professors employed, or else that the cadets at Wool- wich and Sandhurst were so unmanageable and so stupid that they required five times the number of tutors and masters which was necessary in the case of our Universities and public schools. He would not enter into the question whether one College would answer the wants of the country in other respects than those which he had mentioned; whether, for instance, officers passing through it with a uniform system of education would be equally tit for the Artillery and Engineers as for the infantry Upon that point he would simply observe that Addiscombe, in the days of the old East India Company, was able to supply officers for every branch of the service, while during the late Civil War in America West Point furnished a sufficient number of skilled officers to the large armies which were engaged in that contest. Surely, then, one College would meet the requirements of our small army, more especially as the majority of officers were admitted by means of direct examination. Lastly, he was of opinion that if a single College were substituted for the two now in existence many anomalies of which we at present had to complain would be removed. The system of competitive examination, for example, was enforced at Woolwich, while that enforced at Sandhurst was the system of examination by selection. There were Queen's and Indian cadets at Sandhurst, but none at Woolwich, The time of residence at Woolwich was something like two years, whereas at Sandhurst it was only one year, a period hardly sufficient to enable the cadets to learn the discipline or profit by the education afforded by that establishment. Those, then, were the reasons which induced him to ask the Government to appoint a Commission to inquire into the education and discipline of our Military Colleges. It had often been said, and he thought with some justice, of both Woolwich and Sandhurst, that they were neither barracks, schools, nor colleges, but institutions combining the faults of all three. He was most anxious, then, that there should be one College founded on the best system which could be devised, where the cadets, men in age, might be treated like men, in a manner similar to their brothers and cousins at the Universities, where in short they should be treated as officers with a certain amount of liberty, but under some control, rather than as schoolboys at Dotheboy's Hall or private soldiers having no liberty at all. When that was done, and not till then, we should hear no more of those disgraceful occurrences which had been so long a scandal to the army and the country, and which had brought so much discredit on the system under which they had been perpetrated. The noble Lord concluded by moving an Address.


said, the question had been placed so well before the House by his noble Friend, that he felt assured the Secretary for War could scarcely refuse to accede to the proposal made. In most of the remarks which had fallen from the noble Lord he entirely concurred, but he did not quite agree with him in thinking that men before entering the army were at all the worse for a little roughing. Many Gentlemen opposite no doubt recollected the time when at Eton they had to brush not only their own, but the boots and clothes of other persons; nor were they to be regarded as worse members of society on that account. Before he sat down he wished to express a hope that the noble Marquess at the head of the War Office (the Marquess of Hartington) would inform the House whether it was true that the Government had deemed it right to reduce, under certain circumstances, the amount of provisions for the cadets at Woolwich? The question was one of importance, because growing lads required not only good food but a sufficient quantity of it. He was reminded by an hon. Friend sitting below him that a few years ago horses which had become unserviceable for the artillery were used as food for the cadets. That, no doubt, was an exaggeration; but he should like to learn from the noble Marquess whether the food of the cadets had been reduced, and, if so, whether he thought it right that those young men should be put on short commons?

Amendment proposed. To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to appoint a Royal Commission, consisting of Military and Civilian Members, to inquire into the present constitution, system of education, and discipline of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, as well as into the general treatment, of the gentlemen Cadets, as also into the rules and regulations under which candidates are admitted into those Colleges,"—(Lord Eustace Cecil,) —instead thereof.


said, that as one who felt a deep interest in the subject under discussion, he thanked the noble Lord for the manner in which he had introduced it to the House. In consequence of the notice that had been given by the noble Lord in reference to this subject he had deemed it his duty to spend a day at Sandhurst. The question, however, was not, he thought, so simple as the clear and able statement of the noble Lord would make it appear. It had been investigated by two Commissions and one Committee of that House, and the point was whether Sandhurst and Woolwich were so managed as to provide the professional knowledge requisite for an officer in the army, without discouraging the liberal education suitable to an English gentleman? How those two requirements were to be combined was a matter which it was not easy to decide. He could not help thinking that it was extremely difficult to learn any business except by experience in that business itself. The views which he entertained on the subject he derived from no less an authority than one of the most distinguished officers of our army, the late Field Marshal Lord Seaton. No officer ought, he thought, to be raised to the post of captain without distinct professional knowledge beyond an acquaintance with the ordinary regimental duties, but he thought that knowledge ought to be acquired after joining the service, and a good liberal education was the best preparation before entering the army. The important subjects involved in the question had not been neglected by the Council of Military Education. The Commander-in-Chief had given to them his best attention, and if the present Military Colleges were not all that the army required, it was not for want of due consideration. Having visited Sandhurst so lately, be could state, with respect to the birdcages and other hardships to which it was said the cadets were exposed, that he believed them to belong to a bygone state of things, although there was little doubt that formerly the boys were treated with an amount of restriction and espionage which did not, in his opinion, furnish the best mode of forming the characters of English officers. He understood that many alterations were in progress, and was glad to find that the responsibility with respect to Sandhurst rested on two officers, who were fully competent to the discharge of the duties required of them, for in addition to their military acquirements, they had received the advantages of a public school education. The cadets were governed by a code of honour, which was administered by officers in the army, who treated them as gentlemen and friends. His opinion was that young men intended for the army should be encouraged to profit by a liberal education, and that having received that, they should be further encouraged to acquire the science and knowledge of their profession after they had entered the service; but he much doubted the use of teaching men their drill at College. The great Lawrence in India said that any dolt could learn his drill in six weeks, but the higher qualifications for an officer required time and experience. However much young men might be taught about drill at College, when they joined their regiments they would have to learn their duties over again. Of Woolwich he could not speak from personal experience, but he had been told by a very distinguished officer that the standard of trust and confidence in the cadets there too had been a good deal altered for the worse of late. He ought to add that he had been informed by the father of a young officer who had entered the corps of Engineers with great distinction, that he had spoken of Woolwich as a miserable place, his great objection to it being that while there his word as a man of honour was not trusted. This was a subject which deserved the attention of Government. He trusted that the noble Marquess, who had now succeeded to a post of the highest importance, for which he had exhibited great qualifications, would not be turned aside from sifting the whole question of military education.


said, he desired to call attention to one point relating to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. The competitive system of examination pursued there for entrance had attracted to the annual competition some of the best taught young men in all the great schools of England, and when they found that out of 150 persons who were examined only seventeen or eighteen passed, that was sufficient to show that the test was very severe. A great hardship connected with the first examination was that, though they were then put through their classics and various other branches of a liberal education, in the great schools for their proficiency in which they derived a great proportion of their marks, the same subjects were of no use to them in the half-yearly examinations which followed, and that would sometimes involve the suspension of a cadet for six months, or his expulsion from the College. It was a great hardship that the subjects which ruled the admission of a cadet to the College should so totally differ from those which were required afterwards that those subjects which led to his admission should not contribute in any degree to his future success. Another matter that he desired to call attention to was the hardship sustained through the small number of commissions without purchase which were set apart for cadets at the Military Academy at Sandhurst. Owing to some alterations in the service, the authorities were unable to give nearly so many of those commissions without purchase as the cadets had had reason to expect. In the case of a poor man—who had obtained a large number of marks for learning and good conduct—that might lead either to his having to abandon his career or to very great difficulty in his obtaining the money necessary to enable him to purchase his commission. He thought the Government ought to keep faith with the cadets, and ought to make such arrangements as would give a sufficient number of commissions to meet the promises held out. With respect to the discipline at Woolwich and Sandhurst, it had been his fortune during the last few years to gain some knowledge of that, and he did not think that that discipline was too strict. On the contrary, he believed it was attended with this great advantage, that the cadets should learn to obey before they came to rule. If there was a fault in the discipline of those establishments, it was not that it was too strict, but that it was not uniform. If young men were subjected during a week to a system of rigid discipline, and then were; given two days' leave of absence and allowed to run all over London without any control, it was not likely that they would submit without impatience to the discipline which awaited them on their return. As to the question whether the military academies should be united, no doubt that would be an economical step, but he did not believe it was an undesirable thing that officers should have to pass through a Military College. Turning to the practice of other nations, he found that in France, in Prussia, and in nearly every country in Europe where a disciplined force was maintained, persons desiring to enter the army were obliged to submit themselves to the special education provided for them at military academies, and he thought the House would do wrong to discourage a course of instruction which had so far been attended with the best possible results. There were points connected with the two institutions adverted to well worthy of the attention of the Secretary for War, but the object should be not to weaken them but to make them more uniform and efficient. Above all, let those who entered them feel that the conditions on which they did so would be fulfilled.


Sir, I am sure that the subject brought forward by the noble Lord in a manner so able and creditable to himself will be admitted to be one of great interest and importance. Still I do not think it desirable that the House should agree to an Address for a Commission of Inquiry. The noble Lord is probably not aware that not further back than 1857 there was a Commission, though not a Royal Commission, appointed by Lord Panmure, to inquire into the whole subject of military education. That Commission consisted of Colonel Yolland, of the Engineers; Colonel Swift, of the Artillery, and the Rev Mr. Lake the Commissioners then investigated the whole subject, travelled over the whole of Europe, made themselves acquainted with the various plans of military education in Europe, and investigated the system at that time in force at Woolwich, with reference more especially to the scientific branches of the army. They made a very full and able Report, and I am prepared to lay the Report on the table or to place an adequate number of copies of it in the Library of the House. The system of the Military Academy at Woolwich was materially changed shortly after the appearance of that Report, and the new system at present in force there was almost entirely based on the recommendations of the Commission. Various modifications were also made in consequence of the suggestions of the Council of Military Education, and the result, as far as the scientific branches of the army are concerned, are admitted, I believe, to be eminently satisfactory. I did not understand the noble Lord to say that the system at present in force left anything to be desired in a scientific point of view, but he called attention to complaints on the part of cadets of their treatment, and to disturbances which have taken place. Those disturbances have not been frequent, and it is some time since any disturbance of a serious nature has occurred, either at the Academy or the College. Whenever disturbances have taken place, and have been brought to the notice of the Commander-in-Chief, he has always had them thoroughly investigated by officers entirely unconnected with the College or the Academy, and the cadets have been invited freely to come forward and state their grounds of complaint. Some modifications of the system have in consequence been made, but it has generally been reported that there were no real grounds for complaint. It appears to me that the question raised is simply this, whether we are to continue to adopt at the Military College and Academy any system of strict military discipline at all. I do not think that in the army any difference of opinion exists on this subject. I do not think it is desirable to allow the cadets the same amount of liberty which is enjoyed at the Universities in this country. I agree with the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayrshire (Sir James Fergusson) that it is desirable that those who are to be placed in command of others should first be taught by a tolerably severe system what it is to obey. In the next place, it must be remembered that the instruction given at these institutions is not intended merely for the benefit of the cadets themselves, to take or to refuse—it is a national object that is contemplated in requiring them to make the best use of their time, that they should not leave without having acquired the knowledge which they came there to acquire. These institutions were kept up at considerable expense to the country, and the House would, not be willing that the cadets should be left to the exercise of their own inclinations, as men are left at Oxford and Cambridge—that it should be entirely optional whether they should make use of the opportunities which are placed in their way, and if they choose to neglect them altogether. Another point referred to was the severity of the examinations for admissions to the Academy and the College. Now, the general scheme of the examination was recommended by the Commission to which I have referred; and, although it is possible that in some instances questions of a more difficult and abstruse nature than may appear necessary were put into the examination paper, it does not follow that it is expected they should all be answered. Those who are acquainted with the system of examination know very well that it is not uncommon to put down questions which it is not supposed many of the candidates will be able to answer; but there may be some of unusual attainments who are able to answer them, and who thereby will greatly improve their position in the Academy. That would not deter candidates from competing, and will not tend to make any undue proportion of them unsuccessful. Another point is, whether it is necessary to have these Colleges at all, but I will not enter into that at all, because I think the advantage of having them is sufficiently obvious. Another subject adverted to is, whether it be advisable to have both the Academy and College. This subject was fully considered by the Commission to which I have referred. The proposal of Lord Herbert for the amalgamation of the two institutions did not originate in any mere view of the saving that might be effected. His plan, which was rejected by the House, was, no doubt, that military education should be begun and carried on in the same institution; but supposing a cadet to show either unusual talent or peculiar aptitude for the higher scientific branches of the army, he should after a certain time be transferred and have the opportunity of pursuing them. I will express no opinion as to whether it is desirable that the whole scheme of military education should be contained in one institution—it is a difficult question, but I may say that the inquiries show that the present system has worked very well upon the whole. For myself, I cannot say that I think it would be desirable that any change should at present be made in the present system. No sufficient cause has yet been shown why it should be altered. I have now only to say a single word in reply to the hon. and gallant Officer (Major Knox) who has asked me a question as to the alterations which have been made in the rations of the military academy at Woolwich. All that has happened is this: Finding on inquiry a short time ago that the system of providing rations at Woolwich and Sandhurst was different, and that the provisioning of the cadets at Woolwich appeared to be conducted in a very wasteful manner, it was thought advisable to assimilate the system at Woolwich to that at Sandhurst. The cadets have as much food as it is possible for them to eat, and if there is any deficiency in this respect it would be immediately brought to the attention of the Horse Guards or the War Office by the authorities at Sandhurst. The hon. and gallant Officer, therefore, need be under no apprehension if he has any relative there that he is in danger of being starved. No complaint has been made of the quality of the food given. Another point was referred to by the hon. and gallant Officer the Member for Ayrshire—namely, that there had not been provided for the cadets at Sandhurst so large a supply of commissions, without purchase, as had been anticipated. But the number of cadets at Sandhurst has not been raised to the full establishment, and the proportion of commissions is not very far below the proportion anticipated. The want is entirely owing to exceptional circumstances. It has arisen from the amalgamation of the Indian with the Imperial army, and the necessity of giving, without purchase, a considerable number of commissions to officers in the Indian service. But these are now nearly provided for, and a number of commissions henceforward will be at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief for the cadets at Sandhurst. I feel that not only the House but the Government and the authorities of the War Office are much indebted to the noble Lord for bringing this subject before their attention; but I do not think it would be advisable to agree to the Address which he has moved. I believe the Council on Military Education is fully competent to investigate the matter. The subject of discipline is not, indeed, under the immediate cognizance of the Council; the Commander-in-Chief is responsible; but I am quite sure that no disturbance or complaint was ever made that did not receive careful and immediate attention. I do not think it would be desirable altogether to abandon the principle of keeping up strict military discipline; it is quite possible, however, that some particulars, not very vital, may be annoying, and alterations might be made. The subject, I am sure, will be carefully dealt with by the Commander-in-Chief and his advisers; and I do not think it advisable that the House should take any step in the matter.


There can, Sir, be no difference of opinion either as to the importance of this subject, or the merits of the speech by which it was introduced. My noble Friend (Lord Eustace Cecil) wishes us to see the Report of the Commission, and I must, say I was rather surprised to hear what fell from the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War on that subject. The Commission was appointed by Lord Panmure, not only to make inquiry with reference to our own army, but also with reference to the other armies of Europe. It was on that Report that he decided to have only one College; and when I came into office in 1858, the Estimates had been prepared. It was then stated that the cadets at Woolwich should afterwards be removed to Sandhurst. An appeal was made to me that the candidates preparing for Woolwich would then be too old for Sandhurst, and measures were taken to enable them to appear at Sandhurst. What was my surprise when I brought forward the Estimates; the very Government that had prepared them turned round and voted against them. It is said that Lord Herbert was of opinion that there should be only one Military College, where those who distinguished themselves most should be selected for the Artillery and Engineers, and afterwards go to Woolwich; but it was only to the arsenal that was intended. With respect to the statement that the College of Sandhurst was entirely paid for by the public up to 1831, I may say, having been there myself in 1814 and 1815, the cadets then paid their own expenses. With regard to the cadets at Sandhurst, the great advantage was that they were able to hold their commissions and continue their studies at the same time. There is no doubt some ground for the complaints of the noble Lord (Lord Eustace Cecil); but if the cadets at Woolwich and Sandhurst had all the comforts he had described while they were, undergraduates they would find themselves ten times worse off afterwards. No doubt the noble Marquess is perfectly right in saying that the competitive examinations and the altered ages at which the students are admitted are causes of the insubordination complained of. The competitive examinations are now so high that youths, instead of going direct from the public schools, go to cramming schools, where the discipline is nothing like what it is at Woolwich and Sandhurst, and that no doubt makes them afterwards unwilling to submit to closer discipline. I am convinced that there is great advantage in all officers going through a preliminary residence at a Military College—not merely in order to learn their drill, for that, I allow, is a secondary consideration; but the advantage consists in learning the character of the man before he gets his commission. When he has once obtained his commission it is a very difficult matter to get rid of him without going before a court martial, whereas, if by a previous knowledge of him you find that a person is likely to make a good officer he will then obtain his commission, but if you find him unpromising he will not have it. Another reason why the examination for admission into Sandhurst is of a high character is that people go there to compete for the commissions which are given without purchase. The cause of the number of candidates falling off is, as I pointed out the other day, because too many commissions are sold, and a sufficient proportion of them is not offered for competition. Were it only for this reason I should vote for a Commission of Inquiry into these schools, but if my noble Friend likes to wait till we see the Report of Lord Panmure's Commission he can do so. I am convinced, however, it was Lord Panmure's intention to have only one College, and it was undoubtedly my own intention to, but I was out-voted by the people who brought in the Estimates.


said, he thought no one acquainted with the present condition and the past history of these Colleges could doubt that very great reform was needed. The question, moreover, whether there should be one or two Military Colleges, was of great importance. The right hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken, than whom there was no higher authority, had expressed his opinion in favour of a single College, and that opinion had been backed by other high authorities; but he (Captain Vivian), for reasons which it was unnecessary to go into on that occasion, humbly ventured to offer an opposite opinion. The Council of Education was not the body to decide a matter of this nature. A question of such importance could only be properly considered by a Royal Commission. The Secretary of State for War objected to the Motion which had been so ably brought forward by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Eustace Cecil), on the ground that a Commission was in existence that had been appointed by Lord Panmure; but he knew very well that great alteration had been made at Woolwich and Sandhurst not only with regard to the education of the cadets, but also as to the period of life at which persons were admitted, and this step alone had materially affected the administration of those Colleges. He hoped on these and many other grounds that his noble Friend would consent to the appointment of a Royal Commission, and he was persuaded that it would be attended with great benefit to the service.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 152; Noes 132: Majority 20.