HC Deb 07 June 1867 vol 187 cc1746-65

SUPPLY considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

  1. (1.) £3,722,700, to complete the sum for General Staff and Regimental Pay, Allowances, and Charges.
  2. (2.) £890,000, to complete the sum for Commissariat Establishment, &c.
  3. (3.) £420,000, to complete the sum for Clothing Establishments, &c.
  4. (4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £446,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge of the Barrack Establishment, Services, and Supplies, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1867 to the 31st day of March 1868, inclusive.


said, he objected to an item for the cleansing of cesspools, as, by a little ingenuity and trouble, the expense might have been saved. In this Vote it was proposed to grant £2,000 for the purchase of billiard tables, and to this Vote he entirely objected. If the officers' pay was insufficient—and he confessed that he thought it was a miserable pittance—by all means let it be increased. But he objected to the British taxpayers being called upon to provide them with billiard tables; and if the answer of the Government was not satisfactory, he should move that this sum of £2,000 be omitted from the Vote.


said, the mantle of the late hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams) appeared to have fallen upon the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, though he did not mean by that to complain of the manner in which he criticized the Estimates. The hon. Gentleman first alluded to the cost of the cesspools; but surely he would allow that it was most necessary for public health that these cesspools should be constructed. As regarded billiard tables the House last night decided to grant a sum of £3,000 towards the construction of billiard-rooms, and he hoped that they would not now refuse to grant £2,000 towards the purchase of the tables to furnish those rooms with. It was perfectly true—indeed, no one seemed disposed to deny—that the pay of officers in the army was quite insufficient, and greatly below what their position required. Were it not for the high spirit which animated those who entered the army, it could not be officered on the terms that it now was. The gentlemen who thus served their country were not only poorly paid, but they were subjected to the influence of all kinds of climates. They, therefore, well merited the best consideration that could be shown to them in the shape of providing harmless amusements which would help to lighten their lot, and reconcile them to tedious and onerous duties. Large sums had already been expended with the view of ameliorating the condition of the soldier by providing the means of innocent recreation. All that was now proposed was to do something similar for the officers. Under these circumstances he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion, or if he did, that the House would not agree to it.


said, he had heard some prophecies with regard to the length of time which the present Government would remain in power. He was satisfied that whenever they did get into a scrape, it would arise from the increases they were making in the Estimates. Both the Army and Navy Estimates of this year exhibited a great increase. He believed that officers would repudiate the representation that the supply of billiard tables would constitute an inducement for men to enter the army. The adoption of the item would place the officers of the army in an invidious position. The matter was not of great importance in itself, whether the billiard tables were purchased by the Government or by the officers themselves; but it involved a principle of some magnitude—namely, the introduction of an entirely new expense into the Estimates. These were unquestionably large enough at present. He saw no reason why the public should now be made to pay for billiard tables, seeing that the officers had for many years provided them at their own expense. If the principle were once recognised where were they to stop? Might not arguments as good be advanced for making the country pay for cricket, croquet, or any other popular game? He hoped his hon. Friend would persevere with his Motion. If the Government succeeded in passing the Vote the question of its rejection would be raised year by year, and the matter would create considerable discussion out of doors.


said, He hoped the Government would persevere with the Vote. Although officers had billiard tables of their own in their own quarters, they could not carry them about everywhere they were sent. It was far preferable that they should have them provided in their barracks, than that they should be compelled to obtain the amusement they required at the public billiard-rooms. It would prevent young officers from going to the common billiard tables and there meeting blackguards and low characters, such as were to be found at Portsmouth, Plymouth, and the like towns.


concurred in thinking it desirable to induce officers not to frequent common billiard-rooms. On that account he voted last night in support of the item for barrack billiard-rooms. But it did not follow that Parliament should also furnish the rooms with billiard tables.


said, he thought that if £2,000 were all that was required, there was no necessity for dividing the House. If it was a Vote requiring to be annually supplemented, it would require to be carefully considered.


said, that the matter should be argued upon its own merits, and that the smallness of the officers' pay should not be made an argument for agreeing to the Vote. If the army was really underpaid, the question should be properly debated, but this could be no justification for purchasing billiard tables. He would like to know from the right hon. Baronet whether the regulations applicable to the repair and maintenance of barrack furniture would be applied in the case of these billiard tables, supposing they were granted. If these rules were applied to the tables, he should not object to the Vote. Otherwise he would suggest that the Government should withdraw it for this year.


said, that when he had incidentally mentioned that the pay of officers in the British army was inadequate, he never intended to found any serious argument upon it. He had merely employed it as an illustration to show that the officers were eminently deserving of the indulgence proposed to be given to them by the Government. With regard to the other portion of the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, he apprehended that Parliament having agreed to build billiard-rooms if it sanctioned the procuring of these billiard tables, they would necessarily become part and parcel of ordinary barrack furniture, and would come under the regulations applied to such furniture. The tables would remain at the stations where they were placed, and when a regiment left for new quarters they would be charged a fair sum for any damage that might be done to the tables during the time they had used them.


said, he should support the Vote. He was sure the War Department would not be extravagant in providing amusement for the officers of the British Army. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would turn his attention to the question of retaining as few regiments in camp during the winter months as possible.


said, it was very well to talk of this as a small sum. This was only the beginning of a system which they would never hear the last of, and which would bring discredit on the army itself. He moved the reduction of the Vote by £2,000—the sum proposed for the furniture of the billiard-rooms.


said, he thought it would be rather invidious to withdraw this item to provide for the recreation and amusement of officers, when so much had been done in the shape of recreation rooms and grounds for the soldier.


said, if it were the fact that the provision and repair of billiard tables came within the rules applicable to barrack furniture, he should no longer oppose the voting of the sum asked for that purpose.


said, he was not disposed to vote against the grant of £2,000 for the purpose specified. But if this expenditure was to go on, and the large sum of £60,000 was to be drawn upon in future years, he thought the sense of the Committee should be taken on the Vote.


said, that £2,000 would purchase about twenty-two billiard-tables. That number would not go far among the British Army. He did not know whether it would be necessary to repeat the Vote next year. In all probability it would be in a diminished form. He might remind the Committee that these were not his Estimates. They were drawn up by his right hon. and gallant Friend (General Peel).


said, he had heard quite enough from the right hon. Baronet to induce him to vote with the hon. Alderman.

Motion made, and Question put, That the Item of £2,000, for the Furniture for Billiard Rooms, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Lusk.)

The Committee divided:—Ayes 12; Noes 72: Majority 60.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(5.) £28,000, to complete the sum for Divine Service.

(6.) £14,000, to complete the sum for Administration of Martial Law.


said, he wished to call the attention of the Secretary for War to the fact that repeated applications had been made for a Vote for the erection of a military prison at Aldershot, but without any result.


said, the suggestion was natural, and he would consider it before next year.

Vote agreed to.

(7.) £195,600, to complete the sum for Hospital Establishment, &c.


said, he wished to ask why there had been such a large increase last year in the number of staff surgeons?


said, he would inquire into the matter.


said, he wished to ask the right hon. Baronet, whether his attention had been called to a new ambulance waggon which was very highly spoken of by competent judges The correspondent of The Times at the Paris Exhibition, a gentleman well qualified to express an opinion on the subject, stated that the English show of ambulance requisites was a poor one.


said, he had not seen the ambulance waggon to which the hon. Gentleman referred, but he would give his attention to the matter.


said, that photographs of the new ambulance waggon were published in Colonel Reilly's Report.

Vote agreed to.

(8.) £561,600, to complete the sum for Disembodied Militia.


said, he wished to asked the Secretary of State for War, whether his attention had been called to the defenceless state of the Militia storehouses, and of the large quantity of arms in possession of that force, arising chiefly from so small a proportion of the permanent staff being resident within the said stores in many instances; and whether, if his attention had been so called, he proposed to call upon the county authorities to provide increased accommodation for a larger number of non-commissioned officers and men?


said, that after the occurrence at Chester, the Government had sent an Engineer officer to visit all the Militia establishments throughout the country, and to report on their condition. The inquiry had not yet concluded, but reports had been received from a number of Militia establishments. In several of those places, though the state of the defences was not what it ought to be, it could be remedied at a small expense. But that was not the only question. He was sorry to say there was a larger and more difficult question to be considered—namely, whether the different Militia establishments ought not to be so arranged as to accommodate a larger staff than they could now accommodate. The difficulty in the matter arose from the fact that the Government had not power, under the Militia Act, to oblige counties to provide the necessary accommodation for the Militia Staff. The powers under the Act were only permissive. The question was one which must be considered. He hoped means might be found of providing for the Militia Staffs that accommodation which they ought to have.


said, that if the Government thought the Militia establishments ought to be better defended, there should be a National Vote for the purpose. The expense ought not to be thrown on the counties.


said, he wished to call the attention of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and of the Committee, to improvements which he thought might be introduced into the Militia service. During the past week there had been a meeting of Militia officers, and they had called the attention of his right hon. Friend to alterations which, in their opinion, would increase the efficiency of the service. One of the great defects of the present system was the deficiency of officers, and there were many circumstances which rendered it extremely difficult to obtain subalterns. The Militia had to compete with, the Volunteers. The latter service enabled officers to dispose of their time more freely than they could do in the Militia. It was no wonder, therefore, that many officers preferred to enrol themselves in the Volunteer corps. The officers of the Militia were obliged to attend one month in every year at the headquarters of their regiments to be billeted in inns and public-houses, and to lead a life not altogether agreeable to gentlemen holding their social position. At the same time there was a feeling in favour of the service. He wished to suggest that some little alteration should be made in the allowances to officers, in order to enable them to accommodate themselves at the head-quarters of their regiments in a more convenient manner than they could at present. In his own regiment, the wealthier officers had contributed large sums for establishing a system of barracks; but if any officers could not afford to pay for barrack accommodation, they were billeted in inns and public houses, and put to serious inconvenience. He believed it was the unanimous opinion of the officers of the Militia that a very slight amount of additional accommodation would materially improve that branch of the service. If his right hon. Friend would consent to give a moderate allowance to officers instead of billeting them, the reluctance which now existed to entering the force would in all probability cease. There was another point he wished to submit to the Committee. Since the Militia was embodied many officers had changed their residence, although they still remained attached to their old county Militia, the consequence being that they had to go great distances in order to perform their duties. He thought that the travelling expenses of officers might with great propriety be increased, and that they ought to be paid their railway fares from their bonâ fide residences to the head-quarters of their respective regiments and back again. There was another point to which the attention of his right hon. Friend had already been directed, relative to the obtaining of greater efficiency in the Staff of Militia regiments by inducing non-commissioned officers, more active than pensioners, to join the service. At the present time the great body of the Staffs of Militia was formed of pensioners who had seen twenty years' service. Although they did their duty admirably, there was no denying that it was a great detriment to the service that younger men were not obtained. It was thought that if a system of pensions to the Staff were established younger soldiers and men of greater activity would be induced to join the service. The system of billeting the Militia in towns was creating a considerable sensation in various parts of the country. The billeting of his own regiment had been productive of considerable inconvenience. The corporate body of the town in which it was quartered had suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that the inconvenience might be remedied by the establishment of barracks for the regiment. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would take these various matters into consideration.


said, he attached great weight to the opinion of his hon. and gallant Friend upon this subject, because he was an officer of great experience. He had had the pleasure of receiving a few days ago, and again to-day, very influential deputations of officers commanding Militia regiments. The present great deficiency in the number of Militia officers was an important matter. Owing to various causes, Militia regiments were very short of officers, and he believed nowhere more so than in the county (Lancaster) with which his hon. and gallant Friend was connected. There were few matters to which he attached more importance than the maintenance of our national Militia. He was most desirous to do everything he could to increase the efficiency of that ancient, constitutional, and most valuable force, which was our best Army of Reserve. He could therefore assure his hon. and gallant Friend that he would take into his most serious and most favourable consideration the points which had been urged upon his attention. The Estimates being already prepared, he was afraid he could do nothing at present. He could, without hesitation, promise that he would do everything that was fairly in his power to induce gentlemen of respectability to become officers in our national Militia.

Vote agreed to,

(9.) £60,000, to complete the sum for Yeomanry Cavalry.

(10.) £241,000, to complete the sum for Volunteer Corps.


said, he wished to refer to a Return he moved for in the early part of the Session, which was headed "Volunteer Capitation Grant." That Return was the Report of a Committee of Volunteer officers to the Secretary of State for War. Some years ago it fell to his lot to bring before the House the position of the Volunteer force, which, when first started, was almost self-supporting. The Government, it was true, gave some slight assistance in the form of drill-sergeants and adjutants, but still in the main it was a self-supporting body. Subsequently it appeared that although a large number of men were willing to serve as Volunteers, still the expenses bore so hardly upon them that unless some State assistance were given the force would probably dwindle away. The result of his bringing the matter before the House was that a Royal Commission was appointed, under the presidency of the late Speaker of the House of Commons, the present Lord Eversley. That Commission reported in favour of a Parliamentary grant of money to be paid, not to the Volunteers, but for the use of the regiments, at the rate of so much per head. Having had the honour to form one of that Commission, he might state that the feeling by which they were animated was that the Volunteers should cost the country as little as possible. Accordingly they recommended that the capitation grant should be fixed at £1 per head. That was in 1863. Since then the Volunteer force, instead of falling off, had steadily increased. There was an increase in the Estimate as compared with last year, and that of last year showed an advance upon the preceding year. An increase in the Estimate indicated an increase in the number of Volunteers, and also an increase of efficiency. The Vote was increased by the augmentation of the capitation grant, for Volunteers made efficient, and by the augmentation of the sum paid in extra 10s. grants for efficiency in shooting and other acquirements. The Report upon any great review of Volunteers showed that in the opinion of those who made the inspection the Volunteers were increasing in efficiency. Probably the last official Report published was the most favourable of all. Recently letters had been received from Volunteer officers in different parts of the country, stating that the capitation grant was not sufficient to meet the expenses of the corps, and that unless some further Parliamentary aid was given the probability was that the forces would diminish in numbers, as the capitation was fixed at a sum less than was required to maintain them in efficiency. The subject was brought before a meeting of metropolitan officers, held at the offices of the National Rifle Association, and the following Resolution was adopted:— That, in the opinion of the meeting, it is desirable that a deputation should wait on the Secretary of State for War to draw his attention to the fact that the necessary expenses of Volunteer corps are not at present covered by the Parliamentary grant, which has to be largely supplemented by subscriptions of officers and men, and to state at the same time that a strong feeling is believed to pervade the Volunteer force that those who freely and without pay give their service to the State should be relieved from the necessity of such personal expenditure. The meeting was attended by thirty-six metropolitan officers, and the committee took such steps as appeared to be necessary for bringing the matter before the Secretary of Sate for War. It appeared, however, desirable to apply a test which could leave no doubt as to the necessity of further State assistance being given. Therefore a circular letter was addressed, through the medium of the National Rifle Association, to all the commanders of corps in the country. There were sent out 1,260 circulars, which asked for immediate replies to the question whether the resolution read was concurred in or not? There had been received 655 replies, and only twenty-one expressed a qualified dissent. All the rest declared the necessity for further assistance, and suggested various ways in which it should be given. The great majority of the replies were in favour of an additional capitation grant, to be expended at the discretion of the commanding officers. The numbers of the committee were then increased by the addition of such Volunteer officers as were in town and as could be got to attend. They proceeded to consider the replies they had received. They were unanimous in the recommendation that the addition to the capitation grant should be £1 for efficients. The committee included the Dukes of Sutherland and St. Albans, Earls Spencer and Vane, the Earls of Denbigh, Airlie, Durham, and Londesborough; Viscount Hardinge, Lords Whamcliffe and Suffield; and the following Members of Parliament:—Sir John Simeon, Colonels North, Hastings Russell, Knight, Morrison, Akroyd, Croland, and Fordyce, Majors Vivian and Dillwyn, Captains Bass, Young, and Malcolm, and Sir Hedworth Williamson. In their Report the committee said— The experience of eight years has, however, conclusively shown the insufficiency of the grant, and the consequent heavy personal expenditure entailed on the Volunteers. One captain, in a private letter to the chairman, states that his company has cost him £500, and it is confidently believed that there are very many instances of similar, and, indeed, much larger sums, being expended by officers in support of their corps. The expenditure that is generally entailed upon officers renders it difficult to find men willing to accept commissions. The choice is thus limited, and, unless an additional grant is made, there is in many cases immediate danger of a collapse of a portion of the force. Assuming, then, the facts as stated to be true, the question is, what should be the amount of the additional grant? It appears to the committee that an additional sum of £1 for efficients, retaining the present 10s. for extra efficiency, would suffice; and they would venture to urge that such increased grant should, if possible, be proposed in the current year. If it were thought desirable that the prescribed number of nine drills for efficiency should be increased to twelve, that increase would be gladly assented to by the Volunteer force. One point he wished to press was, that the additional grant, when earned, should be expended at the discretion of the commanding officer, and that he should not be tied down as to the manner of its disbursement. The money was given to promote the efficiency of the regiment, and it was to be assumed that the commanding officer would spend the money in the way most likely to attain, that efficiency. On this point and another the Committee in their Report said— With regard to the money grant, its expenditure, when earned, should be at the discretion of the commanding officer. Its payment should not, it is thought, be kept back, as at present until all the money earned in the previous year has been expended; and it is further the opinion of the Committee that the capitation grant should be paid to the credit of the corps as soon as possible after it has been earned. At present, in all cases a period of not less than six months is allowed to elapse before the money for the past year is received, and in many cases this period extends to twelve months. It seemed to them only just and right that as soon as the money had been earned it should be paid. Sometimes the corps were out of pocket for as long a period as eighteen months. The days were passed when it was necessary to make a speech in favour of the Volunteer movement. The Government relied on the Volunteer force as a means of national defence, and their calculations and Estimates were based on the fact that there was a force of 180,000 Volunteers. As he believed the proposed increase to be a moderate one, he hoped that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War would take it into his favourable consideration. One unfavourable reply had been received from him. The substance of it was that he had received and considered the Report of the Volunteer officers, and that it was too late to comply with its recommendation this year. It was important, if possible, to give at least a portion of the recommended increase this year. Since the Report was made letters had been received by other officers and himself, urging them to press the matter on the Secretary of State for War, and stating that much depended upon an addition being made to the grant in the present year. Several Members of Parliament had spoken to him, and had said, "I hope when the Estimate comes on you will say something urging the Secretary of State for War to do something for us this year." Although the reply already received was unfavourable, it held out a hope that the subject would be considered next year. He trusted it would receive favourable consideration at the earliest possible opportunity.


said, he could endorse all that had fallen from the noble Lord. The Report read embodied the almost unanimous opinion of the Volunteer service of the country. The question was of such vital importance to the service, that he hoped the Secretary for War would at once promise to propose the increased capitation grant in the Estimates for next year. Throughout the country it was felt that the force could not be maintained without an additional grant to meet its expenses. He commanded one ofthe metropolitan corps, the St. George's Rifles, which was one of the well-to-do regiments, being entirely composed of first-class tradesmen of the West End. The result, as regarded the capitation grant in his case, was that in 1863–4 the expenses were £787 10d.; the capitation grant £484. In 1864–5 the expenses were £936; the capitation grant £486. In 1865–6 the expenses were £1,020; the capitation grant £495. The result in the three years was that the expenses were £2,742, and the grant £1,465, so that the excess of expenditure had been £1,278. Yet there had been no lavish expenditure in the corps. Nothing had been spent beyond what they were obliged to spend. How was it possible then to carry on a Volunteer corps, under these circumstances, without an additional grant from the Government? The pressure was harder upon country than upon metropolitan corps. He deprecated the delay which now took place in paying the grant, and the frequent disallowance of items. A great deal of trouble was given, for every voucher had to be looked over and checked. Whenever there was any item which had reference to the band or to shooting—two requisites in reference to the Volunteer force—such items were invariably disallowed. Although they could not hope to have any additional assistance from the Government this year, he hoped that the Secretary for War would consider the matter in reference to it next year. The expenses of bands—without which the Volunteers would have no musters—and the expenses attendant on rifle shooting pressed severely on the various corps. Since the capitation grant, the honorary members, who used to subscribe to his corps, had naturally withdrawn their subscriptions, so that the corps was really a loser by the grant. In asking for an additional grant he did not consider that he asked for any favour. The Volunteer force was a great national institution, and if it was to be maintained in its present efficiency he was justified in asking for further support almost as a right.


said, that the House ought to feel somewhat ashamed to find that Volunteer officers were obliged to make these appeals. The Volunteer force had done more to insure the safety of the country than any measure which had been adopted in England for many years past. The Government should grudge no assistance to those who had given time and money to support it, and who, like the noble Lord (Lord Elcho), had shown the most gallant perseverance in carrying the movement forward and making it popular. He had heard much said about the quantity of Returns required by the Government from Volunteer officers. As their time was valuable it was not desirable that more trouble should be given to them than was necessary. The proposal that Government should give £1 extra for efficients was an extremely moderate one. He felt satisfied the House would willingly give more if it were necessary. He also hoped that the delay complained of in supplying the money would be remedied. In reference to Volunteer reviews, they were to a great extent conducted by regular officers. What they wanted to render the Volunteer movement really efficient was, that there should be a Volunteer Staff to do all the duties that the ordinary Staff now performed. That, of course, could not be done without incurring some expense; but he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would take this subject also into consideration. The Volunteer force should be complete in itself; but it could not be considered complete unless this branch of the service was added to it.


said, that as the commander of a provincial corps, he could corroborate what had been said as to the falling off in the subscriptions of honorary members since the capitation grant was made, and also as to the difficulty in getting money from the War Office, and the round-about way of getting it. They had to produce receipts for the whole expenditure before they could get any portion of the allowance. He suggested that the Government should contribute something towards the expenses of camping out, which he was assured on high authority was a most valuable training for the Volunteers.


said, that the Volunteer Engineers had considerable expenses beyond those which other Volunteers incurred. If their efficiency was to be maintained it was necessary that some extra grant should be made in their favour.


said, that the Volunteer force ought to remain a Volunteer force. If the expenditure on their account went on increasing in this way, they would become by-and-by more expensive than the regular army. Everybody put his hand in his pocket for the Volunteers. It was not only the officers, but everybody else, and especially the railway companies, by carrying the men at cheap rates, who contributed to the Volunteer force. They were, no doubt, a very useful corps; but if the Vote for them went on increasing as it had done, the country would begin to consider whether it would not be advisable to have a certain number of regular troops instead of the Volunteers. The hon. Baronet (Sir Harry Verney) said the Volunteers ought to have a Staff, which would make them a little army in themselves. He differed entirely from the hon. Baronet. Some of the Volunteers received a return for their services to the country. Local tradesmen were highly honoured by being members of a Volunteer corps. One was a captain and another was a colonel, and thus distinction was obtained for what they gave to the country. All the credit of the Volunteers was given to them in anticipation of what they might do in the time of danger, but he would advise them not to raise the feeling of the country against them on a matter of expense.


said, that the system of getting as much as possible from private persons in support of the Volunteer force was a system of riding the willing horse to death, and was no less ungenerous than unjust. Originally persons were willing to contribute sums to their local Volunteer corps in the way of capital. But, however liberal they had been in the first instance, they had by no means intended the corps to be an annual charge upon them. It had been always expected that as soon as the country had shown its appreciation of the idea of establishing such a force, and had firmly established it on the Volunteer principle, the Government should step in and consolidate and support it. If invasion were apprehended, the first force called on would be the Volunteers. Such was their efficiency, and the readiness with which they could be mustered, that they would be under command in less time than the Militia. Yet the Government grant was notoriously inadequate. To endeavour to secure a force of 150,000 at the price of 5,000 of the regular army had an aspect of meanness, and the injudicious economy practised tended to weaken the efficiency of the Volunteers. Would any one say that 5,000 regular troops would be equal to 150,000 or 180,000 disciplined Volunteers in case of an attempted invasion? If the Volunteer force did not exist, the country would require the Government to increase the number of regular troops in the country. Therefore it would be good economy to attend to the representations which had been made in favour of an increase in the allowance to the Volunteers. He knew of many cases where able officers of small means had been obliged to resign their positions simply because they were unable to afford the expensive luxury of being Volunteer officers.


said, that to keep the Volunteer force together there should be some further grant, and that the Secretary for War should take steps to have it paid without making the officers wait so long for it. In his own instance, such was the delay and trouble that he had found it best to give a cheque for the amount, and then wait patiently until he could get re-payment from the Government. If the Volunteer force was to be kept efficient, something more must be done by the Government. He could bear testimony to the readiness with which private persons contributed to the establishment of Volunteer corps at the beginning; but it was in the belief that they would not be called upon to contribute to their maintenance. The country had now an efficient Volunteer force, and if they wanted to keep it together, there should be some further grant by Parliament.


said, he entirely agreed with the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) that it was no longer necessary to make a speech in praise of the Volunteer force, so that his silence in this respect must not be construed into a want of appreciation of a movement which had excited the wonder and admiration of Europe. The memorial which had been introduced by his noble Friend, who had done so much for the Volunteer force, was of a most important character, and deserved the earnest attention of the Government. This it should receive. He hoped he should not be misunderstood when he said that some caution was necessary in the matter for fear the force should lose something of its voluntary character. It should be remembered that the movement was commenced strictly on the volunteer principle. Every Volunteer supplied his own uniform and accoutrements, and to some extent his own arms. It seemed to be only in accordance with the spirit of the country that the force should be maintained by those who joined it. We had now—and long might we retain it—a very powerful Volunteer army, which, counting the whole number enrolled, amounted to 180,000 men. But instead of being, as it was at the commencement, supported strictly on Volunteer principles, it was an army which cost the country, by Vote of the House, £360,000 a year. In addition to this, his hon. and gallant Friend behind him had told the Committee that there were other disbursements falling upon officers with money at their disposal and public spirit to apply it to the requirements of the service. His noble Friend argued, and with great force, that even this grant of £360,000 a year from the national funds was inadequate to maintain the movement at the desired state of efficiency, and he proposed certain additions to the capitation grant. What would be the result in money of those proposals? He believed, and his noble Friend would correct him if his estimate was erroneous, that those proposals could not be carried out at a less cost than £160,000 a year, which would make the total contribution by the State towards the support of the Volunteer force upwards of £500,000 annually. He was by no means prepared to say that this might not be £500,000 well spent. But he was sure his noble Friend would agree that it was impossible for him, as head of the Military Department, to give a promise involving the sanction of such additional expenditure without consulting the other Members of the Government. He said it with regret, but he was obliged to say decidedly, that under all the circumstances of the present moment he should not feel justified in holding out any hope that additional grants could be given for the current year. But before the Estimates for another year were framed, he would consult the other Members of the Government upon the subject, would take the opinion of his Colleagues, and consider with them how far the nature and character of this movement were such as to make it their duty to consent to this additional expenditure. He must guard himself carefully against the supposition that he undervalued or in the slightest degree failed to appreciate the loyalty and spirit of the Volunteer force. But he could not concur with one expression used by his noble Friend, that it was the main resource to which we must trust for the defence of the country. He could not, for a moment, put aside the value of our old Constitutional force, the Militia. The statement of his noble Friend as to the long arrears in the payment of the capitation grant he had heard with regret and with some difficulty in understanding exactly what was meant. It was not creditable to those charged with the management of the fund, it was not creditable to the country, that such complaints should be made with any reasonable grounds. In consequence of questions having more than once been put in the House upon this subject, he had sent for one of the leading officials in the Financial Department of the War Office to know what the facts really were. It was essential to the character of the Government to clear up the matter and to leave no just cause of complaint. The information he then received was not altogether consistent with the statement made by the noble Lord. It was to this effect—Capitation payments were not made until they were demanded by the responsible officers entitled to ask for them. In accordance with the practice of every well-regulated department, investigation took place as soon as the demand for money was made, and before it was paid, with the object of ascertaining the exact state of the accounts, and the balance remaining in the hands of those who were to apply the money. Nobody, he felt sure, could take exception to inquiries such as those, and beyond the time necessary to obtain this information no delay took place, and no delay ought to take place. His noble Friend had alluded to one important paragraph in the memorial in which it was desired by the officers of the Volunteer force that the amount of this capitation grant should be intrusted to the battalion officers, and should be at their exclusive disposal. A proposal of this nature was at present under the consideration of the War Office. Though no final decision had yet been come to, he was disposed to think that a good deal of difficulty and delay would be got rid of by acceding to the suggestion, and by placing the money in the hands of the various commanding officers to be disposed of at their discretion and on their responsibility. At present he would not commit himself to any actual promise on the point, but he was not without hope that it might prove feasible to meet the wishes of the Volunteer officers, and that without delay.


said, there were one or two points upon which he wished to say a word before the Vote passed. His right hon. Friend had talked about the force losing its voluntary character. No doubt his right hon. Friend had rightly said that at first it was imagined that the force might be maintained by voluntary subscriptions, and the hon. and learned Serjeant had stated that everybody was in the habit of putting his hand in his pocket to support the movement. But "everybody" meant very few people indeed, who were getting "small by degrees and beautifully less." The real facts of the case were these:—A certain number of men had taken upon themselves the duty of serving their country, which every Englishman was bound to do. Some put their hands in their pockets to assist them. The men themselves came forward and gave their time and services ungrudgingly. So much for that point. The next point to which he wished to refer was this. His right hon. Friend had said that he had held up the Volunteers as the force upon which the country must especially rely for its defence. If he had said so he certainly did not mean it, nor should a word fall from him derogatory to the Militia. He looked upon the Militia as the backbone of our defence. What he meant was that we had this Volunteer force of 180,000 men. But if we had them not, could we, considering the great armies maintained abroad, be satisfied with 90,000 Militiamen as the whole force, plus the regular army in the country, for the defence of England, Scotland, and Ireland? He thought the answer of his right hon. Friend would be "No." Therefore the right hon. Baronet did rely, in a great degree, on the Volunteer force. It was because of that force that we could do with a regular army so small and with a Militia of only 90,000 men. He wished that the position the Volunteer force took up in this matter should be distinctly understood. They did not ask this grant as a favour or as a right. The ground upon which they came forward was this:—The force existed. It was sanctioned. It had increased in numbers and efficiency. A Committee, the names of whose members were a guarantee of their fitness, had gone searchingly into the question, and had deliberately formed the opinion that unless this grant were given we could not hope to maintain the Volunteer force at its present amount. They did not ask it as a right or a favour. They simply thought it their duty to lay the matter before the House of Commons. It was for the House of Commons to consider whether, as a commercial undertaking, it was worth their while to maintain the Volunteers as a part of the defence of the country.

Vote agreed to.

(11.) £32,000, to complete the sum for Enrolled Pensioners and Army Reserve Force.


said, he took that opportunity to answer a question which had been put to him last night, which he was then not able to answer, with re-ence to the proportion of officers that passed the Staff College, and who received Staff appointments. He was now able to say that, out of 111 officers who had passed the College, 71 had received Staff appointments.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported upon Thursday next; Committee to sit again upon Thursday next.