HC Deb 26 February 1867 vol 185 cc1032-64

said, that after the military events of last year no apology seemed to be required for bringing under the notice of the House the duties performed by the British army in India and the colonies. The Indian and colonial duties of the British army were very different from the duties performed by the armies of other nations, and were the main reason why it was more expensive and less fit for the purposes of war than the army of any other country. Our Empire was composed of a larger number of different races—many of whom were of a warlike character—than any other Empire in the world. We were also more scattered than any other nation. It was often said on the discussion of these questions that the British army was an army of defence, and not of aggression. He did not object to the term "army of defence," but only to the spirit in which it was used. The army had many duties to perform other than the defence of this country. In the first place, the defence of Canada and the North American colonies must mainly depend upon the British army, although, no doubt, they would receive a loyal and gallant assistance from the militia and population of Canada in the defence of a frontier of 1,000 miles in extent. The maintenance of our maritime supremacy must also depend upon our garrisoning with a sufficient force such places as Malta, Gibraltar, Halifax, Bermuda, the Mauritius, and other places which it was necessary to garrison for the refuge and provisioning of our fleets. The British army was also necessary for the defence of commercial communities, such as China, the Straits settlements, the West Indies, and colonies like New Zealand, the Cape of Good Hope, Australia, &c. In those places, in case of a war with a great maritime Power, so far from—as was the general impression—our being able to bring reinforcements from those colonies to the mother country, we should, on the contrary, be obliged to send reinforcements from the mother country to those colonies and military dependencies. That would entail an enormous amount of duty on our army in time of war. In the late Russian war it was very different, because we were able to shut up the fleets of that country in their own harbours; but in the event of any future war with a great maritime Power we should find circumstances greatly changed. He now came to the case of India. The duties to be discharged there by the British army were even more onerous than in the case of the colonies, and the importance of them could hardly be exaggerated. Years ago, when we were consolidating our power in that country, a large Native army was absolutely necessary. We had little or no fear of mutiny or disaffection in its ranks—in the first place, because we kept it actively employed, and next, because we kept alive the feelings of hatred and animosity among the different races and castes. But when the Punjab had been annexed, and a period of peace came, the Native army sank into a state of idleness. The English army had been greatly reduced; the Native army had gradually begun to feel its power, and the Government of India felt its power also. The consequence was that the bonds of discipline gradually relaxed in the Native army, which finding itself in possession of all the great fortified places and artillery of the country, felt that it only had to stretch out its hand and snatch the power from us. During the Crimean war rumours of disaster to our arms began to be spread about in India, and the result was that the lethargy which overtook the administration there after the consolidation of our power was rudely broken upon by the great Mutiny of 1857. A great many persons had tried to explain the causes of that mutiny, which he thought was, perhaps, the most natural occurrence that had ever taken place in the history of the world. They had been told by various authorities that the real cause of the mutiny was the injustice of our rule in India, our denial to the Native Princes of the right of adoption, our interference with their religious feelings and customs, the land question, and, last but not least, our policy of annexation. If these authorities were right in their conjectures, the Native army would have been backed up by a popular rising or by the Native Princes. But, on the contrary, with the exception of a very few small districts and a few robber chiefs, there was no popular rising of any kind. Others, again, had attributed the mutiny to the issue of greased cartridges to the troops, which so insulted their feelings that they thought it necessary to rise, because they feared they were to be forcibly converted to Christianity. If that had been the real cause, the population would have broken out into rebellion, too; because, if the army were convinced that it was intended to convert them by force to Christianity, they certainly would have had the support of the people. The Returns he held in his hand were quite sufficient alone, without going into anything else, to account for the mutiny of the Bengal Army. It appeared from the Adjutant General's Returns for 1857 of the numerical proportions and local distribution of the Native army and the British troops respectively in Bengal and the North Western Provinces of India in that year, that an enormous disparity then existed between the strength of the two forces. In the seven divisions, from Calcutta to Peshawur, we had 195,000 Native troops and 17,000 British troops. In the Lahore, Scinde, and Peshawur division, there were 12,000 British troops to 70,000 of the Natives. In the Meerut, Cawnpore, Presidency, and Dinapore division, there were 5,000 British troops to upwards of 90,000 of the Natives; and in the Cawnpore division there were 35,000 Native troops to only 1,500 British soldiers. Those figures were quite enough to explain the cause of the mutiny. His object in reverting to the time of that outbreak was to impress on the House the real danger they had to fear in India. Until this country had accomplished its mission in India, until we had educated and civilized its inhabitants—which it was our duty to do without reference to the consequences to us—until we had taught them to govern themselves, there was no fear of any danger to our Empire from anything except the Native army which we had raised, trained, armed, and disciplined ourselves. No doubt things had greatly changed 'since 1857. At present we had a very much smaller Native army in India than we had then, and on the other hand a much larger force of Europeans. At this moment there was not the slightest danger of a rising in the Native army there. But we ought to look at the position we must hold in that country in case of war, and of any great strain being put upon our military power at home. At present we had to maintain an army of 65,000 men in India in order to keep that country quiet, and overawe, as it were, the small force of Native troops which we had now. But in time of war we should be obliged to draw largely from that force of Europeans. In the present day, when communication between Europe and India had become so rapid, and in India itself was being so quickly developed, India would vibrato much more to the occurrences in Europe than she had hitherto done; and those who possessed in that country the power to disturb us there would be more likely to take advantage of their opportunity than they over were before. The duties the British army was liable to perform in time of war were not small. Moreover, the enormous amount of foreign duty it had to perform at all times was a serious drawback to it during peace. There was a curious circumstance to begin with connected with the British army, and that was that the influence of age upon the mortality of the soldier increased from the time he entered it, while in most other armies it decreased up to some ten or twelve years' service. The last Army Sanitary Report furnished an illustration of this. He need hardly point out to the House that the great amount of tropical service performed in India, China, the Mauritius, and other places, must have a very serious effect on the physical condition of our soldiers in case they had to undertake a hard campaign in Europe. It was utterly impossible to expect these men to compete in marching with foreign troops who spent their lives in their own climates. That was a very important matter when they thought of the enormous amount of foreign work which our soldiers had to undergo. But it had also a very serious effect upon recruiting for the army; for it was absurd to say that our soldiers liked the idea of being banished to an unhealthy climate, where the chances were almost ten to one in favour of their being either ruined in constitution or dying. It likewise had a very bad effect in preventing a better class of men from entering the army—a most important consideration in the present day, when they were applying science to the art of war at the rapid rate they were now doing. Another point, though he did not like to say much about it, was this—that a great number of officers were sent, during the best years of their life, to out-of-the-way places, where they had nothing whatever to interest them. They were not so likely to get a large proportion of good officers, if they were to be so long banished, as they were now, from the centres of civilization. In the first place, therefore, it must be felt that it was desirable to do something to diminish the immense amount of foreign service undergone by our army in time of peace, and, in the next place, to diminish the duties it would have to perform in time of war, so as to be enabled to reduce with some safety, and utilize elsewhere, the enormous European force now locked up in India. The way to do that would be by utilizing the Native army in India, and by putting it for foreign service upon the rota with the English army for colonies and places where the climate and the duties to be performed were suitable to the constitutions and mode of life of such Native troops. He would refer to those colonies in which Native troops might with advantage be employed. He would first touch upon China, because we were able, from having employed Native troops, to form an opinion as to the advisability of using them generally. During the fourteen years from 1850 to 1864 the loss in China was, of European troops, 1,300 dead, 2,500 invalided, out of an annual average force of 1,300 men. The whole force had been sacrificed three times over in fourteen years. This was a scandalous waste of our soldiers for no purpose whatever. In the three years preceding 1864 Native troops from India had been employed in the most beneficial way. The mortality in China of white troops was 57 per 1,000, whilst that of black troops was only 23. The proportion of white troops invalided was 57, whilst that of the black troops was only 27. The proportion of white troops constantly sick was 74, whilst that of the black troops was only 49. The influence of age on the mortality ran up, in the case of Europeans, in twenty years, from 40 to 118; whilst in the case of the black troops it decreased from 31 to 28. These statistics clearly established the inference that black were, so far as health was concerned, more useful than European troops in China. When the black troops were withdrawn an epidemic set in among the Europeans, because they had to perform duties which were previously performed by the former; that course having been taken without the opinion of a single officer who had served in China having been asked as to the propriety of the stop. The result was that the white troops had been so reduced by the epidemic as to have been rendered perfectly useless. There were, however, two objections made to the non-employment of European and the employment of black troops in China. The persons whose wishes seemed for the most part to be consulted on the matter were the Chinese merchants, and they seemed to be of opinion that they would not be safe if left to the protection simply of Native soldiers. His answer was that there was hardly a Chinese merchant at Hong Kong who had not, in all probability, two-thirds of his capital at Shanghai, where there were no European soldiers at all, and not even an English fleet. The same might be said of Singapore, where the population was infinitely worse than that of Hong Kong. But if it is absolutely indispensable to employ some Europeans there, their numbers might be so small as to enable the authorities to take such care of them as to obviate the effects of the climate. In case of a foreign attack on our Chinese settlements, their defences must entirely depend on naval defence. It was true that the Government had raised local corps for service in China and Singapore; but in case of war in China, Japan, or the Malayan peninsular, we should have to fall back on the Indian army as we did in 1860, and your forces ought to be always adapted, in time of peace, to the duties they would be called on to perform in time of war. Passing from China to New Zealand, where wre still kept up a regiment of European troops—the only object being that they should help the colonists in their bush-fighting—he maintained that such work would be done quite as efficiently by a regiment of Native troops from India, As to Australia he should never dream of sending black troops among an Anglo-Saxon population; but he did not see why we should keep there and at New Zealand 4,000 soldiers, at an expense of £127,600, when there was no reason why we should spend a single sixpence for the purpose. Taking, in the next place, the Mauritius, the House would find, from the evidence which had been taken before the Select Committee on the Military Expenditure for the Colonies, which sat in 1861, that Sir John Burgoyne stated, in answer to the question how many men it would take to defend the fortifications erected there at a cost of £200,000, that 6,000 men at least would be required. Was it likely that we should at any time send out such a force from this country to garrison the Mauritius? The money spent on these fortifications had been literally thrown into the sea. The only way in which they could be garrisoned would be by the employment of Native troops from India, who might defend the fortifications in the event of any sudden and temporary attack. Again, at the Cape we still kept a largo force for the purpose of protecting the frontier; but that duty also, could be performed most efficiently by Native Indian troops. Other reasons were assigned for having a large force at the Cape, one being that we by that means provided a sort of army of reserve for India; but we ought never so to reduce the European force in that country, or the Native troops so increase, as to make it a matter of vital importance for us to be able to secure the service of two regiments from the Cape. It should be borne in mind that we were every day getting practically nearer to India than the Cape itself, and that it would be easier to despatch troops from home in the event of their being required than from the Cape. The idea, however, prevailed that it was desirable to keep up in the colony a force of European troops, so that we might be able to draw upon it in the event of pressure here in time of war; but it would be just as well, considering what a future maritime war would be, to maintain a large station in the Arctic regions with that object as at the Cape of Good Hope, as it would be doubtful whether any large body of troops from there would ever be allowed to reach this country. He came next to the West Indies, where we spent something like £300,000 in providing a mere police. We had there a large black force, and a large European force to guard them, and it was desirable that some alteration in that state of things should be introduced, for it was a system useless in time of war, and therefore expensive in time of peace. He did not see why troops should not be brought from India. As to Malta and Gibraltar, it would be well that we should be in a position to reinforce those great garrisons from our Eastern Empire as well as from the West. The duties which were there to be discharged were admirably adapted to Native troops, who could fight well behind stone walls. The state of those great fortresses showing what power this country had for keeping the highway between England and India, would have a very considerable effect on the impressionable mind of the Native army in India. In the last campaign in China, in 1860, our gallant allies, the French, not having the enormous resources of a country like India to turn to, were not to be compared in efficiency to the British troops. A very favourable effect as to the power of England was thus produced on the minds of the Indian troops. Having pointed out the way in which the duties of the British army might be lessened, the military power of this country consolidated and strengthened in time of war, and this country relieved from serious anxiety in respect to India, he would now proceed to consider the various objections which might be urged to the plan. It might be said that it would lead to an increase of the number of British troops at home; but he thought that the saving effected by the employment of Native troops as he suggested would enable the country to increase to a certain extent the number of troops at home. One great object should be to keep our troops at home for half their time, and this could only be done by curtailing the duties they were now called upon to perform. It might be said that it would not be safe to employ the Indian troops in the colonies; for if there were fears of their mutinying in India it might also be dreaded that they would mutiny in the colonies. There was a great difference, however, in the circumstances of the two cases. In India the Native troops lived in the midst of a sympathizing population, and had an opportunity to mutiny; but if sent from their own country to isolated stations there would be no chance of mutiny, for they would know that the only means by which they could hope to return again to India would be by the employment of British ships for the purpose. It might be objected, perhaps, by the colonies that it was not desirable for them to have Indian troops; but the fact was that those troops were better behaved than European troops. They seldom, or never, gave way to drunkenness, and, consequently, instances of crime were comparatively few among them. It might be objected that his proposition amounted to a proposal for the employment of mercenaries. At the time of the Crimean War, when this country was hardly pressed for troops, search was made in the back slums of Europe in order to make up that wretched force called the Foreign Legion. It would have been much better to have had recourse to those races which were subject to the rule of England than to have gone a begging for soldiers in the cities of Europe. There were other objections to the plan he proposed, connected with the difficulty of recruiting in India for this purpose, and the amount of pay and pensions to be granted; but these were matters which might be left for the consideration of the Select Committee. He believed that the plan he had sketched would, if adopted, lead to a very great saving in the military expenditure for colonial purposes, and be the cause of an enormous increase of strength to the country in time of war. He likewise thought that it would tend to remove a great source of anxiety in India, and give this country far greater power and control over the Native Indian army. In 1856 and 1857, before the great Mutiny broke out, there were certain regiments which showed symptoms of disaffection. The authorities, not having the courage to punish them severely, caused them to be paraded and addressed on the enormity of their offence. Then they were disbanded, the discharged soldiers being allowed to return to their own districts, there to sow the seeds of discontent. Should it be argued that if Indian troops were wanted in case of war in Egypt or elsewhere we could always obtain them, his answer would be that no system would be efficient in time of war that was not carefully organized in time of peace, and that in matters of this sort we ought not to trust to the chapter of accidents. Under his plan, in case disaffection appeared in any regiment, the disaffected troops might be marched down to Calcutta and embarked for duty in some other region. Should it be objected that it would not be advisable to withdraw Native Indian troops to the colonies, as their services might be required in other parts—in Egypt, for instance, he replied that it was impossible to have any efficient system unless it was previously organized in time of peace. In the case of a European war our colonies must mainly depend on naval defences, and the nature of the troops employed would be a matter of very little importance. He deeply felt the importance of the subject, and his object was to draw attention to our military system in the colonies and in India, which contained the greatest seeds of danger to ourselves and those who were dependent upon us.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the duties performed by the British Army in India and the Colonies; and also to inquire how far it might be desirable to employ certain portions of Her Majesty's Native Indian Army in our Colonial and Military Dependencies."—(Major Anson.)


said, he had an Amendment to propose, which would not clash with the proposition of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but rather enlarge the scope of the inquiry. He proposed to add to the Motion the following words: "or, to organize a force of Asiatic troops for general service in suitable climates." Three objections had been urged to the employment of Native troops. First, that the distinction of caste and religion prevented their employment out of their own country. Secondly, an interference with the Indian army, as to pay, and rate of service. Thirdly, that it would be interfering with the control of Parliament, over the whole force employed. If we wished to employ Indian troops in our other colonies, we might either take the whole Indian army, as it existed, and put it upon the general Establishment, or we might take a branch of that army, and deal with it in that way, or we might organize another special Asiatic force. The words he proposed to add to the Motion would only extend the scope of the inquiry. It was surprising that the subject had never been brought forward before, for he did not believe there had ever been another instance where a country had spread forth its Empire, from one small centre, over a great part of the world, and held its foreign possessions by troops recruited from the home soil only. France, with its comparatively small African territory, had organized African troops. When Spain conquered so large a portion of Europe, did she hold these possessions by Spanish troops only? No. She had her Walloon Guards and troops of every country subject to her arms. And when Rome had Empire over the entire circuit of the known globe, did she ever think of recruiting her legions from the Roman soil alone? No, she took advantage of the military capacity of every people to supply what the limited soil of Italy could not afford. There was a difficulty, and it increased, in recruiting for the small army which we maintain. The drain upon our population for European troops was enormous. In May last we had 203,568 European soldiers under arms; 80,999 of them being in Great Britain, distributed in this manner:—There were 6,195 men in our household troops, 58,000 in complete regiments and battalions, and 22,800 in depots and detachments. He might here urge that we had had an unnecessary number of depots, and that a true economy might be found in diminishing the number of our European troops abroad and the number of our depots at home. In India we had 51 battalions of European infantry, and 11 regiments of cavalry, containing 63,600 men; in our two great garrisons in the Mediterranean we had 11,300 troops; at the Cape and St. Helena, 4,300; in New Zealand and Australia, 5,700; in China and Japan, 2,275; in Ceylon (exclusive of local corps), 980; in the Mauritius, 1,800; in Canada, Nova Scotia, and our North American provinces, 12,300; in the West Indies, 3,000; and on passage, 5,000. In addition to these, having found our home troops insufficient for the colonial service, we had, on emergency, and to stop a gap in time of danger, here and there, organized local corps, and of these there were in the West India regiments, 3,000 men; in the Ceylon Rifles, 1,200 men; of Canadian rifles, 1,200 men; and of Cape rifles, 500 men. He doubted whether it was conceivable to imagine a worse system of supplying troops for colonial service than that of raising local corps in the manner now adopted. It was admitted that our army possessed great advantages in the variety of service it saw, and its chance of active service in every part of the globe. On the other hand, a colonial corps remained in one place, it could never meet any enemy but a local one, and the officers, deprived of the prospect of a distinguished career, must settle down to perpetual expatriation from their country, and the command of a corps, in which they could never rise, beyond the rank of lieutenant-colonel. It was almost impossible that such a corps could attain distinction in military service; and yet such a corps was to be organized for China, and officered by officers on the half-pay list. Could men, who had the prospect of spending their lives in China, be expected to enter, heart and soul, into their military duties? It was impossible that a corps, thus irremovable, should attain to a state of satisfactory efficiency. "We had, on all stations, home and foreign, of European troops, altogether 197,000 men to deal with. Of these, we had at home 40 battalions, leaving out depôts; and, in India and the colonies, or on passage, 100 battalions; the practical result being that we condemned our troops to ten years abroad, in unhealthful climates, for five at home; and even these terms, with them, we did not keep. The House might conceive what a check it was to recruiting, to have such prolonged service in such climates. He suggested that a force of Asiatic troops should be raised for employment in our colonies—for instance, three out of eleven battalions of troops employed at our Mediterranean stations might be composed of Asiatic soldiers, and probably eight more battalions might be substituted for a similar number of battalions of Europeans in our Asiatic colonies. We had a number of colonies stretching together in one long line on the map, from the Cape to the top of Japan. Next the Cape was the Mauritius; then our possessions (at present nearly ungarrisoned) in the Red Sea; then (leaving out our Indian possessions) Ceylon, Singapore, Borneo, Australia, and New Zealand, China and Japan. We might economize our troops to the greatest possible extent, and meet the difficulty of recruiting by rendering service less distant and onerous. There were two immense elements of management, of increasing force every day, which we might very well employ for such a purpose—the telegraph and our improved means of steam transport. If hon. Gentlemen would look to the Report of the Committee of last year on Indian Communications, they would see that the submarine telegraph would soon extend throughout the whole line of our possessions in the East to which he had referred, and practically all those possessions would become one vast military position. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, in his evidence before the Commission on Re- cruiting, said that he was most favourable to the employment of Asiatic troops, but that there must always be a backbone of European troops to support this system. But where was this backbone to be placed? Singapore was a good central point for the whole China seas; it was a healthful place besides, and any number of troops desirable might be retained there. Was it not plain that the way to use our troops with most economy and efficiency was to reserve the European portion for the backbone of our strength, to keep them in healthful places, and to supplement them by Asiatic troops in the more distant stations, the telegraph and steam transport giving efficiency to the system? Take, therefore, Singapore as a central point, particularly healthy for Europeans, where we had at present only some two companies of Europeans, with six of the Ceylon Rifles. Measuring distances by the days occupied in steaming, the distance from Shanghai was only about twelve and a half days; Japan, thirteen; and Ceylon, ten. By means of the telegraph and the now Indian transports, in course of construction, troops could be moved as far oven as Japan certainly in less time than a month. On the other side, the distance from Point de Galle to Suez was sixteen days, and on to the Cape twenty-six days. Make this line the backbone of colonial defence supplied with Asiatic troops, and we should likewise be strengthened by keeping in practice our main defence—the navy, which suffered from the want of movement, and of employment on different stations. Was it not time to look at this question in a large and comprehensive spirit, and to organize our forces on a system which might be applied to the general advantage of the Empire? When the war in China first broke out troops were borrowed from the Indian establishment. That was felt to be wrong, and successive Secretaries for War appeared to think it unconstitutional. He believed the first to say so was the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and so it went on until the beginning of last year, when one Secretary for War took courage and sent Europeans to China, and the fatal result was seen in the destruction of two battalions of European troops. What successive Secretaries of State were to be blamed for, was endeavouring to tide over the difficulty and to live from hand to mouth, thinking, perhaps, that the system would go on without breaking down as long as they should remain in office. He was not in favour of removing the responsibility from the Advisors of the Crown as to the proper way of dealing with the question.

Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words, "or to organize a force of Asiatic Troops for general service in suitable climates."—(Mr. O'Reilly.)


said, he thought the House was much indebted to the hon. and gallant Member (Major Anson) for bringing forward the question; for the opinion of an officer who had seen so much service, and was so well acquainted with the manners and customs of the Natives of India, was entitled to great weight. Considering our voluntary system of enlistment, the increasing demand for labour, and the advancing rate of wages, it was high time to inquire whether the population of this country were able to boar the annual drain which was required for the defence of India and our colonies. England owned her position as a first-class Power mainly to her dominion in the East, her vast dependencies, and her increasing commerce; and if in any extremity we were unable to defend our possessions and protect our commerce, she would necessarily sink to the rank of a second or even third-rate Power. It was sometimes argued that our ancestors having been able to dispense with extraneous aid in upholding our national honour, we ought to do the same. But from the time of Lord Clive to the Mutiny of 1857 we had held India by the employment of Native troops. In 1857 we had in India no less than 235,000 Native soldiers, the European forces numbering only 22,000 Queen's troops, and 14,000 Company's troops. At the close of the Crimean war also we were obliged to raise a foreign legion, though he believed that had that legion been brought into active service its exploits would not have justified the outlay which had been expended upon it. Even if our ancestors found themselves able to protect the national honour without recourse to foreign troops, it must be remembered that the value of labour had very much increased, that emigration was on an extensive scale, and that armies were of much greater size and magnitude than formerly. The experience of 1857 showed how essential it was to the very existence of our Indian Empire to employ almost entirely a European force in that country. He believed we had now 65,000 European troops there, and, in his opinion, not one of these could be spared. Last Session, in recommending the employment of the Sikhs, he expressed an opinion that the annual casualties in our Anglo-Indian army amounted, in time of peace, to 10 per cent. He had been since furnished with Returns by the Adjutant General which showed that in 1865, out of a force of 66,039 men, 1,667 died, 568 were discharged, 5,166 were invalided, or their time had expired, and they declined to re-enlist; making a total of 7,401, or rather more than 11 per cent. He was informed at the Horse Guards that 1865 was an average year, so that it was necessary to send to India about 7,000 men annually to reinforce our army there. If we succeeded in making the army more popular, by an increase of pay or by improving the position of the soldier, we should doubtless be able to meet that claim. The question, however, naturally suggested itself whether we could maintain such an Indian army in the event of our becoming involved in a great European war; and it appeared to him that our experience in the Crimean war proved that that question must be answered in the negative. During that war we had only 22,000 soldiers of the Royal army in India, and yet we found it necessary to withdraw some of those men for service in the Crimea. But he feared that if such an operation were effected on any large scale it would be regarded in that country as a sign of weakness on our parts, and might become the signal for a new revolt. If that were so, it became the duty of the Government and of that House to see how far we might be able to meet any exigency that might arise; and upon that point there were two things, he thought, which they ought most carefully to consider. The first of these was the organization of our militia, with a view to render that force an efficient auxiliary to the army. Now the militia might, no doubt, be re-organized so as to constitute a well-defined army of reserve; and this, he felt sure, had already received the attention of the Government. Next came the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member to utilize the warlike tribes of India, which up to 1857 formed a large and valuable auxiliary to our army. He believed that Sikh regiments, properly armed, and commanded by officers thoroughly acquainted with the language and customs of their men, would be second to no troops in the world, and that they might be very advantageously employed in China, New Zealand, Australia, the Mauritius, and the Cape. It had been objected that their peculiar ideas of marriage and other social institutions might lead to evil results, and this objection would be of some weight if it were intended to bring Sikh regiments to this country. He never expected, however, to see a regiment of Sikhs mounting guard at St. James', or a regiment of Beloochees defending Chester Castle, though he thought that if a number of the non-commissioned officers were brought over to study at the School of Musketry at Hythe, they would carry back such accounts of the grandeur and magnitude of England as would have a very beneficial effect on their regiments. This course had been adopted with regard to West India regiments, and he had never heard of any bad results from it. He would briefly enumerate some of the advantages which would accrue from the employment of Native troops for general service. It would enable us to relieve our home regiments in some of the most unhealthful stations in the world, where British regiments were too often decimated by the climate. It would also give English troops a longer period of home service. Previous to the Crimean war our regiments had six or seven years of home service. That would go a long way towards solving the difficulty of obtaining recruits for the army. If, unfortunately, the Natives of India should again be found in arms against the Sovereign, a larger number of European troops would be available to send to that country. If, on the other hand, a European war should break out, we should have an army of reserve that might be increased to any extent, and composed of soldiers second to none in the world. There might be many difficulties in the way, and they could only be surmounted by carefully investigating the subject. He should be very glad if the hon. and gallant Gentleman could obtain the Committee. He felt that if the Government would at once take some steps in this direction to place the defences of the country in a good position, and to adopt the best precautions to avert disaster, we should, at a moment of danger, difficulty, and extremity, meet that danger without fear and with success, and above all, the British army would be found in a position to maintain the ancient honour and glory of the country.


said, he wished to offer a few practical remarks on the subject before the House. During the Affghan war, he had abundant opportunities of witnessing the conduct and capabilities of the Native troops when out of their own country. The result was to show that the Natives of India, under the privations of a severe climate, became almost disorganized. He did not wish to derogate in any way from their military qualities; but if they were employed in many of the countries that had been mentioned, he felt convinced they would disappoint the expectations that had been formed of them. In some of our colonies, where the climate was similar to that of India—such as the Mauritius and China—they might prove very valuable troops as auxiliaries. But he should be sorry to garrison New Zealand, for instance, with Native troops from India; because he believed that the Maories were hardly inferior to Europeans as fighting men, and it would not be fair to rest the defence of the colony exclusively upon Native Indian troops. He did not believe cither that the Natives of India would stand the climate of the Cape or Australia. It was also to be remembered that the Natives of India had a great objection to leaving their own country. They were understood to be enlisted for local service, and it was impossible to send them out of India except as volunteers. No doubt their military spirit had induced them to volunteer to serve in the war in China; but he doubted whether they would be so ready to serve as garrison troops in foreign stations. It might be possible to alter the terms of enlistment so as to make them available for service abroad, but this could not be carried to a very great extent among the ordinary material of the Indian army, however it might succeed among the Sikhs. There were, however, certain evils and dangers in the constitution of a large Sikh army that should not be overlooked. The Indian Mutiny had been attributed to a want of discipline inherent in Native forces; but he could not agree with those who asserted that the system of ruling India by a Native army had thus been tried, and had broken down. It was the injudicious and vicious organization of that army that had broken down. The proof was that in hardly any case did a regiment revolt which was judiciously organized. The mutiny was, in a great degree, the result of a mistaken feeling of military pride in the Bengal officers, who wished to have their regiments composed exclusively of fine tall high-caste men. The Bengal army was very much composed of fine high-caste men, the Natives of Oude and the North Western Provinces, and thus a spirit of independence was generated which defied control. In those Bombay and Madras regiments which were composed of different classes, hardly a single instance of military revolt had occurred. He believed that if the Bengal army had been similarly organized, they would never have had an Indian mutiny; and he still looked forward to the time when the amalgamation and equipoise of various races in the Indian army would render it perfectly amenable to the control of European officers, and when we should, in a great measure, be relieved from that drain on our English military resources which our tenure of India at present imposed upon us. But he should deprecate the creation of a very large Sikh army for the same reasons which led him to deprecate the restoration of the Bengal army on its former footing. The agglomeration of members of the same race and creed in an Eastern army was apt to engender among them a feeling of independence and insubordination; and it thus became to the ruling power an inevitable element of danger. It must also be borne in mind that if Native regiments were taken away from India to garrison our colonies, the place of these Native troops must be supplied by others. The Native army of India was no larger at present than was necessary. Any loss must, therefore, be compensated by fresh levies, and no diminution could be made in the corresponding number of European troops. They might, however, look forward, perhaps, to the time when, under a more judicious organization of the Native army, and by the increased facility of transport, owing to the numerous railways that would intersect India in all directions, it might be possible very much to diminish the great drain upon our resources arising from I having to maintain nearly 70,000 Europeans as a permanent garrison in that country.


Sir, I do not rise for the purpose of opposing the appointment of the Committee for which my hon. and gallant Friend moved in a speech of very great ability, and marked by a degree of professional knowledge which must, of course, give great weight to his opinion. If this were a mere military question, I should very much doubt the propriety of referring it to a Select Committee of the House of Commons. I agree with those who think that a Committee of this House is not the best tribunal for arriving at a sound conclusion upon purely military subjects. But there are sanitary questions and also questions of expense connected with this subject, which make it perfectly right that the House, if it thinks proper, should appoint a Committee to inquire into it. It will be very easy for a Committee to ascertain what are the present duties—the matter included in the first part of his Motion—of the British army. But when they come to decide upon which, and what proportion, of those duties can be done by other troops, I think they will find that they have a much more difficult task before them. I beg to warn my hon. and gallant Friend that he must not confine himself merely to military witnesses. I venture to say that he might obtain any number of military witnesses, who would give very different opinions as to the propriety of employing Native troops instead of British. I think what we have heard from the hon. Member who has just sat down was very different from what we heard from those who preceded him. My hon. and gallant Friend must be perfectly aware that no Report of a Committee of the House of Commons would relieve either the Governor General or the Government of India from the responsibility of calling upon the House to supply the number of British troops which they thought necessary for the safety of that country. The best security we can have that they will not call for more British troops than they deem absolutely indispensable is the circumstance of the great drain it occasions upon the finances of India. At the present moment the force of British troops in that country is reduced below what many of the highest authorities—Lord Clyde, Lord Strathnairn, Sir William Napier, Sir Hope Grant, and others—have thought necessary. My hon. and gallant Friend must recollect, when he goes into the Committee on this question, that the wishes and views of the Governors and the inhabitants of the various colonies to which he proposes to send Indian instead of British troops, must be consulted. "We are now throwing on the colonies, as far as we can, the expense of maintaining the troops they have; and if they are to pay they will hardly be satisfied if you merely send them a Native regiment. I could read to you reports from several Colonial Governors in which they positively refuse to have only Native troops. Within the last few months it was proposed to move the British troops stationed at Demerara on account of the sickness there, and the colonial authorities and the colonists declared that if you took away the British troops they would rather you would withdraw the black troops also. I do not gather, either from my hon, and gallant Friend who brought forward this Motion, or from the hon. Gentleman who spoke with so much ability in seconding it, whether they propose that these Native troops should be in addition to or in substitution of European and British troops—whether they propose to raise the force of Native and reduce a certain number of British regiments, or whether they are to be an addition to our establishment. The adoption of the one plan rather than the other would make a most material differ-once as to the expense to be entailed on the country. The hon. Member who spoke last told us that out of all the colonies we have there are only two, Mauritius and China, for which Native Indian troops would be suitable. With regard to my experience as to the case of four companies of a Ceylon regiment sent to China, I may say that the sickness among the Native troops there at the present moment is quite as great, if not greater, than among the European troops. The subject is one which may fairly be inquired into by the Committee; but I should much object to Indian troops doing duty in place of British at Gibraltar, Malta, New Zealand, Australia, or similar healthful colonies. If you take the whole of the forty-two English regiments now in the colonies, the number for which you could properly substitute Native and Indian troops, are nine regiments only. The plan, therefore, of my hon. and gallant Friend (Major Anson) would have very little effect in reducing the requirements made upon the British army generally. There is the greatest possible advantage in having British troops in our colonies. Those colonies are so echeloned, so placed towards one another, that by having British troops the greatest confidence is given to them. I will not say that India, during the mutiny was absolutely saved by the British troops that were sent thither from the Cape, from China, and Ceylon; but with- out any communication with this country those troops were at once despatched from the colonies to India; and if they had been garrisoned by Indian troops, what might have been the state of things then? We are, as I before said, throwing on the colonies the expense of their garrisons; but if you, for your own Imperial purposes, were to send them Indian, in lieu of British troops, the colonists would naturally object to pay. At this moment we have taken away one regiment from the Cape, and given notice to the authorities there that gradually they must expect that England will only supply them with one regiment, and that everything they require beyond that must be paid for by the colony. They would naturally object to being supplied with Native troops. Again, we are now taking troops over for the first time to the Straits Settlements, and they are to pay £60,000 towards the expenses of our troops in that region, but then it is a condition that they should have the wing of a European regiment. So, again, with Ceylon, Australia, and New Zealand, which pay so much per head for the British troops they have. If you were going to have a large standing army in this country I could imagine that it might be very useful indeed to have such a system as that suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend; but of this I am perfectly certain, that this country will never agree to have a very large standing army of British troops, except in time of war. I believe that as we throw these expenses on the colonies they will naturally seek to reduce, as much as they can, the number of regiments they require. I will not anticipate what I have to say to the House with regard to the formation of an army of reserve, or as to the mode by which it is proposed that we should keep up the recruiting of the army. But I have no hesitation in saying that, with our large and increasing population, we ought to have no difficulty in getting the number of men necessary to maintain the army at the point which is required. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion referred to the regiment which we are about to raise for service in Hong Kong. We are doing exactly in that case what he wishes; that is to say, we are about to supplement with Native troops where the climate is unhealthy for British troops. We have applied to the Secretary of State for India to advise upon to the best method of arranging as to this regiment. But I should myself prefer the proposal of the hon. Member who seconded the Motion, and I think if we are to have Native troops raised for general service that it would be much better that we should raise them for ourselves, perfectly independent of any engagement with the Indian Government. Supposing you greatly increase the number of Native troops as a supplement to the British army, the question arises as to how you are to officer these troops. It would be necessary that their officers should have a certain knowledge of their language, and should be able to command the respect of their men. The hon. Gentleman opposite said I objected on constitutional grounds to the employment of the Native troops during the Chinese war.


I only said I understood the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to object to their continuance in China.


My objection to their continuance there certainly was a constitutional one. That is one of the objections which I think would apply to the employment of a great number of Native troops. There were at one time no fewer than 12,000 to 16,000 Indian troops employed in China that were never voted by Parliament; and they might have been 20,000 or 30,000, as far as Parliament was concerned. To that I certainly object, for I contend that the number of Indian troops so employed should be set down in the Estimates. But I must again come back to the question whether the proposal of the hon. and gallant Gentleman would lead to an addition to the British army, or whether he desires that it should be reduced, substituting Natives. That, I think, is the main point to be decided. So long as we can raise the troops ourselves—and we shall, I hope, have no difficulty in doing so—it is in my opinion better that we should adhere to the present system, because the Native regiments—and I have no wish to decry them—everybody will admit must be inferior to our own. "With regard to India, my noble Friend (Viscount Cranbourne) will be better able to speak as to what would be the effect of reducing the British army there. It is not my intention to oppose the appointment of a Committee; but unless the hon. and gallant Gentleman confines the inquiry to some particular and definite object, I do not see what good can result from their labours. He may very easily find out what the nature of the employment of British troops is abroad; but he will have great difficulty in ascertaining exactly the extent to which Native regiments can be employed as he suggests.


said, he congratulated the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had brought forward the Motion on the success he had met with. No one need be surprised at the introduction of such a matter after the experience of the past. The House would remember that it was only in the last Session of Parliament that a Committee was appointed to inquire into the mortality which had taken place among our troops in China. That mortality had resulted in the decimation of almost two European regiments at Hong Kong and elsewhere, and the evidence taken before the Committee went to prove, beyond a doubt, that the European soldier was not fitted for the climate. The point was accordingly raised, as a matter of course, for consideration whether we could not substitute Native troops for the British soldiers in such countries. His hon. and gallant Friend had had great military experience in India, and he had turned his attention to the subject whether it would not prove advantageous to employ Asiatic troops in certain of our Eastern dependencies. The right hon. and gallant Member the Secretary of State for War (General Peel) said, that we had no more troops in India at the present moment than were absolutely required. He (Captain Vivian) did not mean to dispute that; but he wished to call the attention of the House to the fact that at this moment we had 30,000 more troops in India than we had during the Indian Mutiny. At the time of the outbreak there was a large Sepoy army drilled and organized by us which no longer existed. There was not now a single gun belonging to the army, and he did not believe that if the Sepoys were inclined to revolt to-morrow they would be able to collect a force of 10,000 men. What, then, was our large force in India required for? It was partly in order to enable us to keep under our control the Sikhs, who were the most warlike of all Asiatic troops. These Sikhs were soldiers that had fought against us and proved their valour on many a hard-fought field—men who were almost born soldiers, and who were admitted by all who knew anything of them to be about the most warlike nation in the world. On the other hand, no one disputed that when these Sikhs were taken away from their own country and their own traditions, and water put between them and their native land, they were as faithful and good troops as could be employed. He would, with the permission of the House, read an extract from a letter he had received from Sir Charles Wyndham—an officer of experience in India. In that communication Sir Charles said— With regard to the Sikh nation, from my knowledge, I am certain you might rely upon their courage and fidelity when employed at a large distance from their own country. Now, the question which his hon. and gallant Friend proposed for the consideration of the Committee was simply to inquire whether we might not with advantage employ those troops, instead of Europeans, in certain military dependencies. The right hon. and gallant Member the Secretary of State for "War asked whether it was meant to substitute the Natives for European troops. The answer to that would be that if in certain colonies or dependencies we could with safety substitute Native for British troops it would be our duty to do so, even though it should be one regiment only. In this country we were paying more than any other nation in the world for our army. We were paying something like £14,000,000 a year, and yet we had less to show for the money than any other nation. It was therefore one of our first duties to reduce, when we could do so with safety, the number of our troops. If we were to have an European crisis to-morrow, what force could we bring into the field to defend ourselves at home in exchange for our £14,000,000 a year? The fact would not be disputed that we could only bring something like 50,000 into the field for European purposes, for we had in India, and on the high seas, something like 80,000. If therefore it could be proved that for the protection of India or our colonies we were able to substitute a force for the British which would equally serve the purpose, and by that means be enabled to reduce our own army, we should at once do so. The first duty of the Executive was to reduce our army as much as possible. He held that it was absurd to talk about a reserve force if we were not to reduce our standing army. The hon. Baronet the Member for Frome (Sir Henry Rawlinson) said, among other things, that his experience of the Affghan war proved the Native troops under severe trials became disorganized. That also was a question for the consideration of the Committee. He quite agreed with the hon. Baronet that if it was the nature of the Native trooops to become disorganized under severe trials they should only be employed in climates which agreed with them, and where there would be no danger of disorganization from such a cause. China was one of these, and therefore it was open for consideration whether they might not be employed there. The right hon. and gallant Member the Secretary of State for War said that the colonies, having to pay for the troops, would not be satisfied with Native troops, and as an illustration he instanced the case of Bermuda, where, when it was proposed to remove the English troops, the authorities asked that the blacks should also be removed. But it should be borne in mind that it was a very different thing to place negro troops over a negro population, and to send troops belonging to the Sikh nation to China. His hon. and gallant Friend had, in introducing the subject, so completely exhausted it, that he would not trouble the House with any further remarks.


said, that as this was a question which specially related to India, and as he must naturally take a warm interest in all that related to that country, perhaps the House would bear with him while he made a few observations on this question. He believed that the Native interests of India required the presence of a European force there. Without going into the question of the mutiny, he might state that he believed the European force in that country, in the opinion of all military men, ought not to be reduced much below 60,000 men. With the improved communications of the present day, and with a command of the railways and telegraphs, a smaller force might possibly suffice; but in so reducing the amount a certain danger would be incurred, and looking upon the question as one of insurance it would be unwise to go much below the limit he had stated. His fear was that, on an emergency, India would be denuded of her European troops to supply the colonies or the army at home. The question was not one of money, but of men; and the point for consideration was really how we could best economize men in other quarters of the globe, so as to render them available for service, either in India or at home, in case of need. He had been rather surprised at the argument of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (General Peel), who seemed to imply that the wishes of the colonists were to be final in this matter. The question was not one for a Governor nor yet for the people of a colony to decide; if they did not like to accept such troops as we could give them, why, let them protect themselves. European regiments might be more acceptable on account of the society which they introduced into a colony, but it would never do to leave it optional with the colonists to say, "You must keep one of your costly regiments here." He would confine himself to the case of India. Having been in India at the time the troops returned from service in China, and having had special facilities of communication with military men, he could declare that in India we possessed a reserve of naturally warlike populations, who might be drawn upon largely for reinforcements. Some of the Native regiments which had served in China distinguished themselves highly, and displayed qualities rendering them fully equal to any auxiliary forces which served with the great armies of Europe—to the Cossacks, for instance, in the Russian levies, and the Turcos and other Native African troops, enlisted pretty largely in the service of the French Empire. He agreed with what had been said as to the military qualities of the Sikhs. It would be a dangerous mistake, however, to look to the Sikhs alone for our levies—so martial a race might be tempted to take advantage of their position. They might be tempted to say to the Europeans, "We are almost as good as you are, and we are numerically stronger, and we shall therefore take advantage of the situation." This argument, however, would not apply to Sikh regiments scattered in garrisons over distant colonies. But besides the Sikhs, there were the Ghoorkas, the Belooches, and the Pathans, descendants of the Native Affghans, as white in colour as the men of Southern Europe, being derived from mountainous races. The high authority (Sir Henry Rawlinson) who had spoken that evening of Native troops in Affghanistan being disorganized by the severity of the climate, must have had in his mind the army of Bengal, the old Brahmin Sepoys of the plains of Oude, of whom the army was at that time composed, who, coming from a tropical climate, were ill-fitted for exposure to a severe climate. But during the Chinese campaigns some Native regiments from the mountainous races, who were exposed in their native hills to every degree of cold, remained behind at Tien- tsin, and were exposed during the winter to a degree of cold greater than any which troops would suffer in garrisoning any town in England. Making a proper selection of regiments, so far as such climates as China, up to Shanghae, or the Strait settlements, even the northern parts of Australia, or the settlements towards Torres Straits, or, nearer home, such as those of Malta or even Gibraltar were concerned, he was satisfied that there was nothing to prevent the employment in those places of such troops as might be raised in India. With regard to the indisposition of the Natives to serve across the sea, this might be true of the high class Sepoys of whom the Bengal army was formerly composed; but there was a considerable number of Natives who had no objection whatever to cross the sea, as was instanced in the case of the Madras army, regiments of which had been in the habit of crossing the sea to the Burmese coast and to Singapore. "With regard to the Sikhs who had served in China, they were delighted with what they had seen of the British troops during that campaign, and having had a good opportunity of contrasting the French and British armies, they were so strongly impressed with the superiority of the latter that they evinced the most ardent desire to go and serve under the British flag in any quarter of the world to which they might be sent. In fact, a native officer, the second in command of one of the Sikh regiments, had asked him (Mr. Laing) whether Paris would not he a splendid city for loot, and whether it was not true that the Cossacks had once been there. There was an evident desire on the part of that officer to serve under the British flag in an European war, so that he might have a chance of marching into and assisting in the loot of one of the great capitals. He concurred in the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Anson) as to the desirability of sending a Native regiment upon foreign service instead of breaking it up; and he believed that, just before the Indian mutiny, if one of the regiments in which disaffection first showed itself had been sent to a foreign station the Mutiny might have been averted. What was now proposed had, in fact, been carried out to a considerable extent already. Aden, a fortress almost equal in importance to Gibraltar, one of the great stages on the high road between England and India, was garrisoned mainly by Native troops, with some European artillery. Yet the station slept in perfect tranquillity under its guards, and in matters of police there was less difficulty with a Native than with a European regiment. The same might be said of Singapore, of Rangoon, and of places along the Burmese coast. So far from mutinying, isolated Native regiments on foreign stations had little disposition to show such a temper, for they knew themselves to be in the power of England, and their only chance of getting home again lay in the ships which she provided. The presence of a few European artillery usually sufficed to keep them steady to their allegiance, and our European contingent might be described as the backbone of our colonial forces. The real difficulty, as pointed out by the Secretary for War, consisted in officering these regiments, for, however efficient the Native regiments might be for service in India or abroad, their efficiency entirely depended on the class of officers in command of them. The ordinary run of officers could not be taken, as in the case of European regiments, for then there would be the risk of appointing officers ignorant of the language and habits of the men over whom they were placed. There must be European officers especially trained for the purpose, and acquainted with the manners and prejudices of the men, or other wise the officers might provoke a mutiny by some apparently trivial act, which a student fresh from Sandhurst could see no harm in. Under the measure for the amalgamation of the Indian army, the means of supplying this class of officers had been got rid of to a very great extent, though at present things went on very well, be cause there was a reserve of officers left by the old system. There were 4,000 of them that had been so available. But how were they to get on for the future. The great difficulty of employing Native regiments abroad was that the Indian officers of the old army could not be asked to accompany them to the Mauritius or to Malta, for a lower scale of pay than they received for Indian service; and, if the Indian scale were granted to them, what must be the feelings of the other European officers serving alongside of them? That was the great difficulty, for otherwise, by the employment of Indian troops, great relief might be given to the European forces scattered over the colonies, the necessity of sending so many British troops abroad would be diminished, and increased security for India would be acquired by having a larger available British force to draw upon. The difficulty he had just adverted to not only applied to Indian regiments sent abroad, but still more strongly to those which remained in India. The question was how to supply a class of officers having qualities like those possessed by the officers of the old Indian army. The measure adopted some years ago for breaking up the staff of the Indian army, and doing away with the local European force and the separate establishment of Addiscombe for the training of European officers, was a mistake, and if that had to be done again, no one with the experience since acquired would advocate such a measure. The forces might have been so united as to be under one Commander-in-Chief. Both might have been held to be under one Commander-in-Chief; but a separate force of 30,000 or 40,000 men, with their officers, might have been kept for the separate service of India. However, when a step such as that was taken, it was difficult to retrace it; but he invited the right hon. Secretary for War to consider the question, because he regarded it as the most important and the most difficult in the future of India. He thought the House ought to feel exceedingly indebted to the hon. and gallant Member (Major Anson) for the manner in which he had brought the subject under its notice.


said, he quite concurred in thinking that the House was very much indebted to the hon. and gallant Member (Major Anson) who brought forward the Motion, and he believed that the proposed inquiry would be very valuable. He only hoped that the hon. and gallant Member would exercise some discretion as to the subjects to be investigated, for by wandering into a multiplicity of topics the whole value of a thorough investigation might be lost. He trusted that the hon. and gallant Member would not be induced to go into the question of the amalgamation of the Indian army. He quite concurred with the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) as to the difficulty which had arisen from the measure passed a few years ago, though he did not say that it was a mistake, because it would, perhaps, have been impossible to avoid greater difficulties still, if the old system had been stood by. It was right that the operation of that measure should be most carefully watched to see whether a remedy might be provided for the evils it occasioned; but he should be sorry if the value of the in- vestigation now proposed were lost by mixing it up with so enormous a question. Another question which had been raised, not strictly germane to the subject, was whether the army in India was not too large. The hon. and gallant Member for Truro (Captain Vivian) observed that the British force was increased since the mutiny to nearly double its former amount, and argued that the Native army having been reduced, so large a British force was unnecessary to watch them. It must, however, be borne in mind that before the mutiny the Native troops were drawn from the provinces of Behar and Bengal, and that now they were drawn from the hill tribes, so that if there were any element of danger in the Native Indian army, it was much intensified by the more martial character of the force. With regard to the selection of the men, there arose this difficulty—that if men of the most docile races were chosen, they were of a feeble constitution, and incapable of being removed from the climate and food to which they were accustomed; and if men of the hardier races were selected, then a class was obtained which could be moved about and made little difficulty as to food, but they were more dangerous to deal with, and the precaution which the hon. Member for Wick alluded to, of keeping European troops and artillery in the neighbourhood of any such large Native force, could not be abandoned. With regard to the objection raised against the employment of Native troops out of India, on the ground of the difficulty of inducing them to leave that country, the hon. Member for Wick thought that objection refuted by the experience of the campaign in China. Having discussed this subject with some authorities on Indian matters, he knew that the feeling which dwelt in their mind was that the Native troops could not be induced to leave India in any large number unless there were a prospect of "loot." The hon. Member for Wick was struck with the enthusiasm of a Native at the prospect of "looting" Paris. That was a picture of the minds of those men; and, no doubt, if they were told that Paris was to be "looted," an enormous number of them might be got to go there. But it would be impossible to induce them to volunteer for the dull unhealthy duty of a garrison town. But really he supposed in this, as in everything of the kind, this was very much a matter of money; the difference between the cost of an European and a Native soldier, was as between £110 and £40, and they would have to pay these troops about double if they used them for their colonial service; and in doing this they diminished the motive for adopting this principle. It was not because there was a difficulty in getting European soldiers, but because they were so costly that this proposal was made. He suggested these as points for consideration by the Committee. Very great difference of opinion, no doubt, existed upon the subject; but they had a very large amount of experience to guide them, and the subject was one eminently fitted for Parliamentary inquiry. He trusted, however, that the Committee would not be content with oral evidence alone; but that its members would listen to the suggestions of some of the higher authorities of India who could not be brought from their posts to give evidence. In that way the Committee would be able to collect very valuable information, and perhaps be the means of introducing very useful reforms into the military service of the British Crown.


said, he thought the speech of the Secretary of State for War, with which he heartily agreed, was eminently fitted to stand as an argument against the Motion for a Committee. While he did not wish to oppose the Motion, he certainly thought it would have been better if the Secretary of State had imposed some limit to the proposed inquiry. Presuming that the policy indicated by the Motion could be adopted by an English Parliament, he doubted whether the many subjects which would have to be discussed by the Committee were such as should properly be considered by them. Even the Mover and Seconder of the Motion for a Committee had said that the change, if carried out, would be extremely complicated; and that, whether it were carried out or not should depend very much upon the balance of advantages and difficulties with which the change would be accompanied. It appeared, then, to him very strange that a Committee of the House should be appointed to inquire into the advisability of a change, the principle of which had not been sanctioned by the House, and which he believed the House on further discussion would not approve. He entirely dissented from the policy which the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major Anson) and his friends advocated. Not to dwell upon the minor points raised by the Secretary for War, such as the disinclination of the colonies to receive garrisons of this kind, he had heard no satisfactory answer to the query as to what it was proposed to do with the British troops now employed in colonial service. It was evident that if the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield were carried out our military establishments must either be reduced in proportion as they were added to by the enlistment of Native troops, or else the Estimates must bear the whole additional cost of the enlistment of Indian troops. It had been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Truro (Captain Vivian) that it would be the duty of any Government to propose a reduction of the army whenever a battalion could be dispensed with, and he concurred in that view; but the proposal now made was to substitute a battalion of Indian troops for a battalion of British troops. He had heard no satisfactory argument in favour of the principle of the proposal. He believed that the force scattered over the colonies was not so effective for Imperial purposes as the same number of men would be if concentrated at home; still it was not altogether useless. The proposal now made was to substitute a force which might or might not be as efficient as Europeans for colonial purposes, but who certainly could not be equally efficient in any great Imperial emergency. For these reasons he regretted that before the subject had received more complete investigation and before Parliament had expressed any opinion as to the policy of such a change, the Secretary of State should have consented to the appointment of a Committee which would waste considerable time and could lead to no practical results.


said, that touching this question of amalgamation, he felt it was due to the old Indian service to remind the House that it was not only in the recent services in China that these armies were usefully employed, but under Abercrombie in Egypt; and in their services in Java they distinguished themselves to the great satisfaction of those in authority. Although it was very questionable how far Native troops, under present circumstances, could be employed out of Asia, he thought to employ those troops who had shown a mutinous disposition in India to uphold the British flag in other parts would be most injurious to the discipline of the troops in India, and to the honour and welfare of this country.


said, he thought questions connected with the withdrawal of troops, or the substitution of one kind of troops for another, should be left entirely to the Executive. He also thought the objections to his scheme were such as to show how useful the proposed inquiry would be; and he was extremely glad the Secretary of State for War had given his consent to the proposition he had made.

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Select Committee appointed "To inquire into the duties performed by the British Army in India and the Colonies; and also to inquire how-far it might be desirable to employ certain portions of Her Majesty's Native Indian Army in our Colonial and Military Dependencies, or to organize a force of Asiatic Troops for general service in suitable climates."

And, on March 6, Select Committee nominated as follows:—Viscount CRANBOURNE, Mr. CHILDERS, Sir JAMES FERQUSSON, The Marquess of HARTINGTON, Captain HAYTER, Mr. OLIPHANT, Sir HENRY RAWLINSON, Sir WILLIAM RUSSELL, Captain VIVIAN, Viscount HAMILTON, Mr. LAING, Lord WILLIAM HAY, Colonel NORTH, and Major ANSON:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.