HC Deb 07 March 1867 vol 185 cc1448-510

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

139,163 Land Forces (including 9,778 all ranks, to be employed with the Depôts in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland of Regiments serving in Her Majesty's Indian Possessions).


Sir, as it is a matter of public convenience that the number of men re- quired for the army should be voted as early as posssible, I shall, before sitting down, and after explaining the causes of the difference between the Estimates of the present and the coming year, conclude by moving the Vote for the Number of Men required. Although the Estimates which are now under consideration exceed those of the present year by no less a sum than £412,200—although they exceed the actual expenditure of 1865–6 by £637,467—although my favourite Estimate of £100 per man falls far short of what is required to cover the expenditure of the next year, for that £100 must be raised to £106—still I trust that, if the House will grant me its attention, I shall be able to show that the paragraph in the Speech from the Throne, which stated that the Estimates were "framed with due attention to economy and the requirements of the public service," was perfectly accurate, and that the excess to which I have alluded has arisen from circumstances over which we have had no control. I was most anxious, naturally, to reduce the Estimates of the forthcoming year as much as possible, in order to meet the extra expenditure which the House will be called upon to sanction in the Supplementary Vote for carrying out the purposes for which the Royal Commission on Recruiting was appointed, including an army of reserve. I will venture to say that no person in my position was ever called upon in time of peace, without any intention of increasing the number of men, to frame the Army Estimates under such disadvantageous circumstances. Those circumstances arose, in the first place, from the necessity of providing for Leap year. That is a perfectly unavoidable circumstance, and that alone gives an increase to the Estimates of £24,700. I then found that my predecessor had granted a warrant, which had been approved by the Treasury, to increase the pay of the medical officers of the army. I highly approve that warrant; but still it adds to the Estimates the sum of £18,000. I also found that the late Government had come to an arrangement to take over the Straits Settlements. Now, this is a new feature altogether in the Estimates, and the whole military expenditure falls, for the first time, upon the Army Estimates of the present year, instead of, as formerly, upon the Indian Government. This entails the necessity of providing garrisons of nearly 1,200 men, consisting of two batteries of artillery, a wing of a European regiment, and eight companies of Ceylon Rifles. It is perfectly true that the Straits Settlements pays a sum of £60,000, but that goes to the Treasury, and this item appears, for the first time, in these Estimates. There is also another alteration made with regard to the troops in Ceylon and Australia. Formerly it was customary to introduce into the Estimates only the absolute pay of the troops in Ceylon—that colony paid the commissariat and barrack expenses; but, in consequence of the new arrangements, made before I came into office, by the payment of a capitation rate which goes direct into the Treasury, all the commissariat and barrack expenses in Ceylon and allowances in Australia are transferred to the Army Estimates, and appear for the first time in those for the forthcoming year. The total cost of the new arrangements with regard to the Straits Settlements, Ceylon, and Australia, is £128,000, to be added to the Estimates we have to provide for. Then comes an increase—at which no hon. Gentleman will feel surprised—the increase owing to the increased price of provisions and forage. That alone adds £92,700 to the sum to be provided for next year. Next comes an item, which I view with great alarm, not so much on account of its magnitude as on its bearing upon the whole Estimates. I allude to the additional sum required for the recruiting of the army during the next year. There will be, during next year, no fewer than 21,300 men entitled to their discharge at the expiration of their ten years' service. This, in addition to the common average requirements of the year, arising from deaths, desertion, and sickness, renders it necessary to provide for 32,600 recruits during the next financial year, against 18,100 during the present year. A great many of the men who are entitled to their discharge will, I hope, re-enlist; but whether they do so or not, the expense is the same, as they are as much entitled to their bounty and their free kit on re-enlistment as if they were entering the army for the first time. There will, therefore, under that head be an additional charge of £69,000. There is next another charge for which I shall have to provide—an item of £79,100 for clothing, on account of biennial and quadrennial charges which fall due within this unfortunate year. This is to provide for certain extra issues of clothing which do not actually take place until the 1st of April, 1868, as they are not due until 1868–9. Their proper place would therefore seem to be in the Estimates for 1868–9, and I think that in future a much better arrangement might be made, and that the expense of these biennial issues, instead of falling upon one year, ought to be divided between two years. Then there is an additional charge of £20,000, on account of furlough pay of officers on leave from India. This is one of those items supposed to be covered by the capitation rate, in accordance with the agreement entered into with the Indian Government. That arrangement, the principle of which I could never understand, was made in 1860. The first year the furlough pay appeared in the Estimates it was fixed at £30,000. It has since risen up to £130,000, and I am obliged this year to take £150,000. For the first three years the Indian Government were, I believe, great losers by the capitation rate; but the state of things has changed, and we may, in framing the present Estimates, I think, calculate on having the loss fall upon us to the extent of £100,000. It has, unfortunately, been decided that any readjustment of the matter should be based on the average of five years, so that if that re-adjustment were to take place now we should gain nothing by it. There is another increase in the Estimates for the present year arising out of the increased demand for guns on the part of the navy. The sum provided for that purpose amounts to £675,000, while the sum provided in the Navy Estimates for the army expenditure is only £405,000; so that the army is, under these circumstances, a loser to the extent of £270,000.

I think I have stated sufficient to show the causes of the increase, and I think I am justified in saying that when the accounts come to be made up it will be found that the Estimates for next year form no excess on the expenditure for the present year. I come to that conclusion because we have now, for the first time, the opportunity of comparing the Estimates for the coming year with the actual expenditure of the past. I have always said it was a most fallacious thing to compare Estimates with Estimates; but this year we have the opportunity of comparing next year's Estimates with the absolute expenditure of 1865–6, as well as with the Estimates for 1866–7. Taking the first seven Votes it will be seen that their amount depends entirely on the number of men. The number of men for next year is exactly the same as for this, yet the sum I am obliged to ask for on account of those seven Votes is £402,800 more. The question then arises, which Estimate is right? I would ask you to decide that question by comparing, with the actual expenditure for 1865–6, under the head of those Votes, that of which I estimate the expenditure for the ensuing year. In 1865–6 the total number of men provided for in the Estimates was 143,773; although the number voted was only 142,477. You will perceive that some of the staff, although provided for, were not included in the numbers voted, which I contend they ought to be, and are for next year, as they are subject to the provisions of the Mutiny Act. Well, for the 143,773 men provided for in 1865–6, the estimated cost was £8,141,702, or at the rate of £56 12s. 0d. per man. The absolute number, however, borne during the year fell short of the number provided for by nearly 2,000, and yet the expenditure for the decreased number amounted to £8,440,471, or £300,000 more than had been estimated for the greater number, the cost per man being £59 9s. instead of £56 12s. In the Estimates for the present year the number of men is 139,300, at a cost of £7,864,500, which is at the rate of £56 9s. per man. [Colonel SYKES: Including the first seven Votes?] Yes, including the first seven Votes. So far, I may add, from there being any reason to suppose that we shall have a less number of men during the present year than was estimated, for we find, that at the end of the first nine months, we were absolutely in excess of our establishment to an average extent of 477 men, instead of being 2,000 below it; and if a supplementary Estimate should ever be called for, I must decline to be responsible for it. During the first three months, before the reliefs went out to India, there was an average excess of no less than 2,500; but that has been gradually decreasing, and at the end of the year the numbers will probably correspond. The number of men we ask for for the year 1867–8 is 139,163, and the amount required for that number is £8,267,300, being an average of £59 8s. per man, which almost exactly corresponds with the actual expenditure of 1865–6.

I think I have now said sufficient to account for the apparent excess of the Estimates of next year over those of this, and the Committee will have the means of judging which of them are the more likely to be correct.

When once you have settled the number of men, the only other two Votes which it will be neceesary to examine for the purpose of comparison are the 12th and 13th, the Votes for Manufacture and Stores. If you look to the absolute expenditure under those heads for 1865–6, as given in the papers now before you, you will find that the whole difference between the Estimates of that year and the actual expenditure is shown on these two Votes. Of the excess in the proposed expenditure for next year, £611,793 will be a charge for the supply of guns to that greater extent, and it is to this Vote, and the Vote for the Volunteers, that the whole of the excess in these Estimates is to be attributed. The Estimates for 1865–6 amounted to £14,348,447, and there was an excess over that to the extent of £358,765, making in all £14,707,212, or very nearly the amount of the Estimates for next year, had it not been for the two Votes I have pointed out. You can, on referring to page 2 of the papers in the hands of the Committee, learn at once the causes of the decrease and increase of the number of men. If I can show that the number of men asked for is no more than the service requires I think it will not be necessary to defend the first seven Votes. The first cause of increase is the necessity of adding twenty men each to the depots of the Indian regiments. The Indian depots constitute one of those sources of expenditure which are supposed to be covered by the capitation grant. It was originally proposed that the depots should consist of only 100 men per regiment, but that number has not been found sufficient to supply the requirements of a regiment 900 strong in India. The Indian Government object to men whose term of service is nearly expired being sent out, as they would have to pay their expenses back, and the consequence is that sometimes 50 men out of the 100 are only waiting for their discharge, and many recruits are sent out too young. When the capitation rate is considered hereafter, the charges for this addition to the depots will fall on the Indian Government, and therefore the change may almost be considered a reduction in the army. Another increase is due to the circumstance that we propose to employ a regiment of Native troops to do duty at Hong Kong instead of British soldiers. There are 656 men about to be raised for that purpose, who will, in point of fact, form to that extent a substitute for English troops. I may also observe that 100 men for the Military Staff Corps are, in reality, no increase, because they are only substitutes for labourers. They are men of good character allowed to leave their regiments, receiving an addition to their pay. I believe the plan answers extremely well, and it is proposed slightly to extend it. Thus there is an increase to the army of 1,724 men; which I propose to meet by making a reduction in the establishments of regiments. I know that many military men object to this arrangement, and would much rather see the regiments kept up to their full number, and if I did not meet the inconvenience of having the establishment of regiments at a low amount by the army of reserve which I am about to propose, I should be as much opposed to the reduction as they are. This intention is to reduce the regiments on their return to this country to 600 men for the first and second years, increasing the number to 680 in the year after, and up to the full number when they go on Colonial or Indian service. I have been obliged to raise the establishments of the Indian regiments to their full strength, because the Indian Government complained that the regiments going to India were not kept up to their full quota of 910 men. It had been hoped and believed that when they got out to India men would volunteer from other regiments out there; but this has not been found to be the case, and therefore it is necessary to raise the establishment of the regiments going to India to 910 men, and thus the number of men to be provided fur is almost equal to what it has been in the present year.

I now come to Votes 12 and 13, relating to Manufactures and Military Stores. Perhaps the House will like to know what is the number of guns proposed to be provided for the money to be voted on account of the Royal Gun Factory. It is proposed during the next year to provide 426 rifled guns. Of these, 12 are to be of the largest size, or 23-ton guns; 41 are to be 12-ton guns; 31 will be 9-ton guns; 12 will be 7-ton guns; and 179 are to be 6½-ton guns. The rest will be composed of 64-poundors, 9-pounders, 7-pounders, and 6-pounders. The present occasion is almost the first in which provision has been made for supplying guns for the fortifications. It was agreed in 1860 that the armaments for the fortifications were to be provided for in the annual Estimate; but up to the present year no provision whatever has been made for the purpose, and most fortunate it is that such was the case. If these guns had been made in 1860 the pattern would have been very inferior and the cost would have been treble. Three years ago the cost of the 23-ton gun was £3,500, and it had gradually come down to £1,800 in the present year. Therefore, delaying the manufacture of these guns had caused a great saving of public money. But still, you cannot conceal from yourselves the fact that the work must be done, and if the present Estimates had not been so unnaturally high this year I should have taken a larger Vote for the purpose.

I now come to a matter of great interest to the House—the question of small arms. I know that there have been a great many Reports, and that much anxiety has been felt as to the success of the Snider conversion, and I think it better to begin from the very first with regard to the conversion of the rifles into breech-loaders. So long back as 1864 it was decided by a Committee that the whole British army should be armed with breech-loaders. Soon after that another Committee decided that, instead of the common Enfield rifle, our muskets should be rifled on the Lancaster principle. The consequence was that there was not a single new rifle manufactured for the last three years. It was then decided that, instead of making new rifles, the Enfield rifle should be converted into a breech-loader. Experiments had been going on for two years, and just before I came into office the pattern and ammunition were decided on. The great events on the Continent occurred between that time and my coming into office. I resolved to carry out what had been decided on, and to arm the whole British army with breech-loaders as soon as possible; and I also decided not tore-open the question, but to go on at once converting the guns into Sniders, and I provided for the conversion of 200,000 in the course of the present year. When I proposed a supplementary Estimate the late Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed an opinion that I was too precipitate; but the fact was that when I came into office the entire number of rifles that had been absolutely converted was only twelve, and they had not been converted by machinery, but by hand. Now, there is a great deal of difference between experiments carried on by hand labour under the most favourable cir- cumstances, and those carried on by machinery on an extensive scale. My intention was, as soon as a sufficient number of the converted guns could be procured, to subject them to the only real test—and that was to place them in the hands of the troops. But, unfortunately, just at that time there came from the Governor General of Canada a demand for an instant supply of breech-loading arms. He pointed out the moral effect upon the men coming into contact with troops armed with breechloaders, and called upon us to supply not only the whole of the British troops in Canada, but the whole of the Volunteers. This was a perfect impossibility at the time, as we did not commence delivering the converted rifles till the middle of October. But so determined was I to prevent the British troops from being brought into collision with troops armed with breechloaders, while they had only muzzle-loaders, that I sent an order to America, and purchased 4,000 at £6 each. We went on working at the gun factory day and night—and, I am sorry to say, sometimes on Sundays—but we succeeded in sending out converted Sniders to every British soldier in Canada before the navigation closed. Then there came sudden demands for arms from the garrison at Dublin. In the meantime I sent sixty guns to Hythe for trial, and the first report was that the shooting was more than favourable. Shortly afterwards the head of the Laboratory came to me and said he was sorry to inform me that when the ammunition was made up in millions there was a slight escape of gas, which threw up the breech-loading apparatus. We therefore proceeded to try a new or No. 2 cartridge, which was sent down to Hythe and fired with exactly the same rifles which had shot so well in the first instance. The report that came to us was that the cartridges would hardly hit anything, and scarcely ever hit the target at all. If the fault had been in the gun I would have stopped at once the conversion of the Enfield rifle, for my desire was to place the best arm in the hands of the British soldier; but, apparently, this defect was in the cartridge, and I proceeded at once to discover the cause. The Committee must understand that there are two descriptions of rifle—the short and the long rifle. The short rifle is six-grooved, while the long rifle is the common Enfield, with only three-grooves. With the six-grooved rifle the No. 2 cartridges shot beautifully; which made it appear that the previous failure had been the fault of the three-groove arm. But it was ultimately discovered that it was in consequence of the ball being a little longer than it had been before, and that by reducing its length it would shoot extremely well. We come back now to the question of the breech-loading rifle. I do not say you will ever attain any great superiority in accuracy of shooting with any breech-loading rifle over the muzzle-loader; the advantage you gain is not in accuracy, but in rapidity of firing. I am happy to say, from the last accounts I have received, that I have not the slightest doubt that in the Enfield rifle converted into the Snider you have as good, if not a better, weapon than any other country possesses. No later than yesterday I received a letter from my noble Friend, Lord Strathnairn, than whom nobody is a better judge, in which he says— I had a field day yesterday—all the troops with Sniders. The rapidity and uninterruptedness of the fire were remarkable—not a check. I had to caution them to fire slowly, to prevent running short of cartridges. This will, I think, prove to the Committee that we are going in the right direction in converting the Enfield into the Snider breech-loaders for the whole British Army. I do not mean to say there may not be an improvement in the cartridge. There is now provision made in the Estimates for the present and next year for the conversion of 350,000 rifles, and there I would recommend conversion to stop. I should not recommend the conversion of any greater number, for this reason:—These are all new arms, which have never been issued, and are perfectly serviceable weapons. If you convert more they will be arms that have been used, and you will have to pay an additional price to make them serviceable. I think it would be far better to wear out the arms now in the hands of all other than the regular forces, and use up the common Enfield rifles. You will have to begin making a new weapon as soon as you have decided on the pattern. You have not made any new rifles for the last three years, and you will have to begin gradually as soon as you have decided on the pattern. If not, the only store of small arms you would have would be those returned in exchange for converted Enfields. Therefore, you must make up your minds to provide a store of new weapons as soon as you decide on the pattern. These are the causes which have occasioned the large sums asked for under these two heads.

I do not know that there is any other Vote on which I need make any explanation, except the great increase in the Vote for Miscellaneous Services. That arises from the increased attention required by the late Act of Parliament to be given in certain naval and military stations for the prevention of contagious diseases. There is also a sum of £13,000 required for equipping a ship for hospital and sanitary purposes at Hong Kong, which, according to the Report of the Chief Medical Officer, was absolutely necessary, although not solely for hospital purposes. Then there is another Vote of £5,000 to the municipality of Gibraltar in aid of works for drainage; and being as it is for sanitary purposes, I am sure the Committee will give it willingly. There is also a large increase in the amount to be given as rewards to inventors; and I will take this opportunity to relieve the minds of hon. Gentlemen, by saying that it merely provides some reward for those from whom the service has derived very great advantage, and is not for inventors generally. One of those gentlemen is Major Palliser, and the other Mr. Frazer, both of whom have been the means of effecting a very great saving to the Government in the cost of guns and shot. I am certain the House will not refuse to reward those services.

I promised that when I brought forward these Estimates I would give an explanation of what I proposed to do with regard to the Report of the Royal Commission on Recruiting. That Commission was mentioned in the speech of the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington), when he introduced the Estimates on the 5th of March in last year. The necessity for the appointment of a Commission arose from the great difficulty which was experienced in procuring recruits for the army, and, in point of fact, the question then was, and now is, whether the British army should be allowed to collapse—whether it should be reduced to the strength of your recruiting powers, or whether your recruiting powers should be raised to that point which should meet the wants of the Service? Are we to endeavour to raise the recruits we want, or are we to be obliged, not as a matter of policy, but from necessity, to have recourse to that expedient which was proposed by the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Major Anson) of employing Native instead of British troops abroad? The points submitted to the Commission were the deficiency of troops during the last two years, and the remedies required to obviate that deficiency; and they were also required to Report on the formation of a reserve force, and with regard to the organization of the recruiting service. I will advert very shortly to the recommendations made by the Royal Commissioners. Their first recommendation was with regard to the organization of the recruiting service. They pointed out that the recruiting system was entirely under the Adjutant General, who has so much to do that he cannot give adequate attention to the subject, and they recommended the appointment of an Inspector of Recruiting, who would be able to give his undivided attention to it, and I have carried out their wishes by approving of the appointment of an officer to have entire charge of that service. I do not think it necessary to go into details which will not be settled until that officer, who has been selected with great care and attention, should be able to point out what arrangements would be necessary to improve the recruiting for the army. I am sure it must be some gratification to those who served on the Commission to know that I believe the very fact of the Commission being appointed has had a most salutary effect. I think in October last it first became known that the Commission had made proposals for improving the condition of the British soldier, and from that moment the recruiting improved. The average number of recruits raised during the last five years ending December, 1865, was 12,449. During the twelve months ending December, 1866, we have raised 15,277; in the preceding ten months ending in January we raised 13,193, and if we go on at the same rate for the next two months, we shall have raised 16,119 during the twelve months, instead of 12,449. This is very satisfactory. The quarter ending lost December is the first since June, 1862, in which the casualties did not exceed the addition to the army by recruiting. The net increase over the casualties was 388. In the month of January, 1867, we have also progressed, the net increase having been 546. Therefore, we have great reason to hope that an increased number of men are coming forward. The Commissioners made another recommendation, which I strongly and highly approve, and which ought to be carried out as far as possible—it is the recommendation that men should be enlisted for general service instead of for particular regiments—always, of course, giving recruits the selection of regiments for which they may have a preference. The soldier enlisted for general service is a far more useful man than one enlisted for a particular regiment; and this would enable you to prevent men being sent too young to India. Depôts will be formed to receive them; and from them you can select those of a certain age for foreign service, permitting the younger recruits to join those regiments that have just come home. That is one of the recommendations to which I attach very great importance. There are recommendations respecting the system of medical examination which are under consideration, and will, I have no doubt, be carried out. There is a recommendation as to a military training establishment for boys, similar to the training ships for the navy; which, I have no doubt, is very desirable; but I am sorry to say it was a question of money. Besides the expense of buildings and establishments, the average cost for each boy would be £30 a year, which would amount to a large sum. I do not therefore propose to adopt that recommendation. Then comes the recommendation about localizing the regiments. But a connection cannot be forced between a regiment and any particular locality—that must spring up of itself. I may mention as an instance of this that, although the Bedfordshire regiment and the Bedfordshire militia, which is so ably commanded by my hon. Friend behind me (Colonel Gilpin), were at Aldershot for some time together, only one man volunteered from the militia into that regiment during the Crimean war, although a number equal to the whole strength of the regiment volunteered into other regiments. Therefore, I repeat that a connection of that kind must be spontaneous, and cannot be forced. Now I come to the chief recommendations of the Commission, and the expenses which they will entail. The recommendation to increase the reward on enlistment will cost £7,000, and is to be carried out. The Commission recommend that certain articles of clothing which are at present supplied by the soldiers at their own expense, and termed "necessaries," should be provided from the public funds. It was my duty to call for an estimate of the expense that would be entailed by each re- commendation, and I found that the expense of this one would amount to £80,000 a year. Another recommendation was that the soldiers at home should receive an additional quarter of a pound of meat a day; but I cannot help thinking that if that addition he made to the allowance of the soldier at home, it must also be extended to the soldier on foreign service. I did not see how I could come down to this House and propose the increase to the soldiers at home without also proposing that it should be extended to the soldiers who are actually performing military duty abroad. It is perfectly true that the soldier abroad is at present allowed 1¼ lb. of meat per day, but the allowance is made on the ground that 1 lb. of meat abroad is only equal to three quarters of a pound at home; and if you give the soldier at home 1¼ lb. a day you must give the soldier abroad 1¼ lb. a day. With reference to this point, Sir William Power, the Commissary General, who is an excellent authority, expressed his belief that any increase in the meat ration would be the least effectual and at the same time the most costly mode of improving the soldier's condition, and would by no means be as acceptable as an increase of 1d. or 2d. a day. I decided, therefore, instead of these allowances of meat and clothing, to propose an addition of 2d. a day to the pay of the soldier. I am perfectly certain that such an increase will be a greater boon to the soldier than the allowances of meat and clothing would be, especially to the married soldiers, and to those, and I am glad to be able to state that there are many such, who are desirous of laying by a part of their money in the regimental savings banks. Another consideration is that such a course will meet a difficulty which could not have come before the Royal Commissioners, and, indeed, would hardly have been noticed by them. The British soldiers serving with Indian troops, as in China, formerly received an additional 2d. a day. When, however, the Native soldiers were withdrawn and this extra payment was considered, it was determined not to withdraw it from the troops already in China, who, having been in the habit of receiving it, might consider the withdrawal a great hardship, but to make no increase in the pay of regiments who might be afterwards sent to that country; and consequently a difference exists in the pay of soldiers engaged on the same service, which will be got rid of by the adoption of this plan, and giving all the troops an extra 2d. a day. I am perfectly certain every military man will be of opinion that, both as regards the interest of the soldier and the interest of the public, this increase of 2d. a day is preferable to the allowance of meat and clothing, the cost of which would be £80,000 for clothing, £200,000 for ¼ lb. of meat to troops at home, and £115,000 to troops abroad, making £395,000. This additional sum of 2d. a day will involve an additional expenditure of £376,000. Now, the Commissioners recommend that 2d. a day should be given to those who re-engage over and above the then amount of his pay; but I think that an increase of 1d. a day in that direction will be sufficient; that is to say, the long-service man will receive an addition of 3d. a day to his present pay. But, after all, the best inducement that can be held out to him to re-enlist is good treatment during the first period of his service, and an additional 2d. a day during this first enlistment, with an increase of 1d. a day afterwards, will, I think, be sufficient to induce him to re-enlist. The Commission again recommend, with regard to the limited period of enlistment, that there should not, as heretofore, be any difference between the cavalry, artillery, and the line, but that all shall be placed upon the same footing, the first term of service being for twelve years, and the second (if a man chooses to re-engage) for nine years, making altogether twenty-one years, which entitles a man to a pension. The proposition is a wise one, but it will require an Act of Parliament. Then it is recommended that the price of discharges by purchase should be higher than it is now, on account of the increase in the rate of wages. That recommendation certainly does appear as if it intended to point out to the soldier that he had made a bad bargain in enlisting at all; but I shall deal with that point more particularly when I come to the army of reserve. Many people attach more importance to the rate of pensions of the soldier than to the rate of pay. The question with me, however, was how can I lay out the money at my disposal to the best advantage in getting recruits and attracting men to the service? I believe that this result is likely to be better attained by the daily increase of 2d., and the further increase of 1d. a day afterwards, than by an increase in the rate of pensions. [Mr. O'REILLY: Will the 2d. or 3d. a day be carried to the pensions as an increase?] No. It is also proposed to let the soldiers, as far as possible, repair their own barrack damages—a plan by which a great source of annoyance and complaint will be removed. The recommendation with regard to re-engaging men when under orders for foreign service is also provided for by the Estimates which I have laid upon the table of the House. It is, no doubt, a matter of great economy to get the men who are abroad to re-enlist, instead of sending them home to this country. The amount of bounty to be given to men re-enlisting in India, however, is a question for the Indian Government to deal with.

I now come to the reserve force, and the recommendations of the Commissioners with regard to them. The Commissioners state, with great truth, that our real army of reserve is the militia, and that it is in that quarter that we shall eventually have to look for our reserve; and they consider it advisable to raise the militia to its full number—that is to say, to 120,000 men. With regard to the sums provided in the Supplementary Estimates, there is one great advantage—every shilling goes directly into the pocket of the soldier. There are no establishments, no clerks, nothing to intercept it. But, notwithstanding this additional cost of £450,000, it is not proposed to add a single man to your army, but merely to enable you to raise the men that you now want. The question, therefore, is, how are you to form an army of reserve which, if war should become imminent, you might combine with the regular army? Recollect, there are wars of two descriptions in which England may be engaged. She may be engaged in a war with a Power from which there is little or no chance of invasion. Such were the wars within my recollection—the war in the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, and others in which you have been obliged to employ your regular army abroad, and for which you had the greatest difficulty in raising the numbers necessary for your purpose. Everybody recollects what took place in the Crimean War. You had to appeal to the militia to give up every man they could spare, and to raise recruits by means of an extraordinary bounty; and what was the result? Why, the men you raised were by no means so efficient as they should have been. Now, we want a reserve of two kinds—a first and second reserve. We want men who would be ready, at a moment's warning, to fill up the ranks of your regular regiments; I have proposed to reduce the strength of the regiments serving at home as low as 600 men; and if you have a proper reserve, should war threaten to break out, you could at once fill up the ranks to 1,000, and you would not require additional officers, as those are all there already. In the first reserve the condition of service would be that the men should serve abroad; the men of the second reserve would not be called upon to leave the country. Now, how are we to raise this army of reserve? You relied for its formation for the last six years on men who had completed their term of service. That system was pronounced by the Royal Commission to be a perfect failure, and the Royal Commission never came to a more correct conclusion. The first thing I did upon entering office was to suspend the operation of the warrants. It has been suggested that you should attempt to form an army of reserve by making service in the reserve a portion of the original contract of the soldier—that is to say, by making it a condition of enlistment that the men should serve so many years in the regular army and so many in the army of reserve. But I do not think that would answer—for this reason, that when a man, having served in the line, came then to serve in the reserve, he would not be able to live unless he had some employment or you gave him high pay; and when you wanted him perhaps you would not know where to find him. I think, therefore, that instead of making the time to be spent in the reserve a portion of the original service, it should be made a substitution for a portion of that service. The way I would deal with it is this:—When a regiment had completed its period of foreign service and returned home, I would propose that it should not be sent in the first instance into camps or garrisons, but that it should go to some locality with which it had or might wish to form some connection, and where little or no duties would have to be performed the first year. The regiment being about, as I have said, to be reduced to 600—they would come home much stronger—I would give the men long furloughs, and if, at the end of their leave, they came and said that they could find employment, I would commute the rest of their service to service in the reserve. Now, this should be treated not as a matter of right, but of favour—because, if it was a matter of right, some regiments might be completely broken up on account of the number of men who might claim their discharge. Then I would propose that the first reserve should be attached to the militia. I should be very sorry to see another army raised up between the militia and the line, and I think militia officers have the strongest feeling upon this subject. I have always had the strongest inclination to bring the militia forward as much as possible. [Captain VIVIAN: After how many years' service would you allow a man to join the reserve?] I propose that any of these men who could find employment after having completed two-thirds of their first engagement and served five years abroad, should be allowed to commute the rest of their service for service in the first reserve, and that they should be liable to general service in case of war, but for that war only. The Royal Commission has said that for the future wars will probably be of very short duration—perhaps confined to one campaign. When the war was over, therefore, I would allow these men to return to the reserve. I would have them enrolled as regular militiamen, subject to no other duty or liability except that of being called upon to serve if war became imminent. The men who were in the second period of their engagement, and had served two-thirds of their period—that is, men who have been seventeen or eighteen years in the army, I would attach, not to the first reserve, because I desire that it should consist, not of worn-out soldiers, but of men ready to take the field at a moment's notice—say of men who have served about seven years. I would attach the second period of service men to the pensioners, requiring two years' service in the second reserve for one in the army, because they would not be liable to leave this country. I do not anticipate that these two classes would give a large reserve, because I believe that most of the men who would go back to civil life would desire to return to the army; and in that event I would allow them to do so, counting two years' service in the reserve as one in the line. The regiments coming home this year will be about 2,165 in excess of their strength of 600 men per regiment; and probably all these will, if they can find employment, be entitled to join the army of reserve. You will have to discharge that number of men, and the whole of them would be entitled to the boon I have described. But, after all, that would give only a very small-force; however, it would gradually increase. As each regiment came home, the average excess of its numbers would be about 150, and so many might be permitted to commute the rest of their service by service in the reserve. Hon. Gentlemen are aware that a good many officers in the militia do not like to have old soldiers saddled upon them, but I think those serviceable men would be of great use. At all events, officers commanding the militia need not call them out for training unless they wished, for these old soldiers would not require twenty-eight days' drill, but there they would be any time we wanted to lay our hands on them. This, as I have said, will give you but a very small army of reserve; but I would propose to invite the officers of militia regiments to call upon, say one-fourth of their establishments, to volunteer for the first reserve. The Royal Commission recommended that the militia should be raised to their full strength, the quota being 120,000. The present strength of the militia is about 90,000, and the difference between that and 120,000 would constitute the army of reserve. I would invite the officers of militia regiments to ask their men to volunteer for this purpose; but I propose to make no alteration in their term of service in the militia, nor to take them away from their regiments, except in the event of war, in which case they would be called upon to serve with the regular army. As an inducement for them thus to volunteer for the army of reserve, I would double the ordinary militia bounty—that is to say, the militiaman who now gets £6 spread over five years would get £12 spread over five years. I have not the slightest doubt that such a bounty would induce any number of men you want to enlist, and that when men saw they received double bounty for exactly the same duties, there would be a great desire to enlist in this army of reserve. Moreover, every regiment that contributed a certain quota to the army of reserve I would allow to be raised to its full strength, so that you would have the militia regiments exactly in the same state as before, and would have the additional men belonging to the army of reserve. Those men would be liable for service in the regular army only during the duration of war; and I believe there are thousands of militiamen who, while they would object to becoming regular soldiers liable to colonial duty, and to remaining in the army for a long period of service, would have no objection to come forward for a single campaign. From this source, therefore, I expect there would be a considerable addition to the reserve. These men would have the ordinary militia pay; so that the only additional expense would be the extra bounty. But I may be asked how I propose to raise the additional force to the militia under the new system, seeing that it is now considerably below its number? I reply, that I believe the addition of 2d. a day, which will be given to the militia as well as the regular army, and the double bounty to the reserve men, will have the effect desired. The number of men required to place upon a war footing of 1,000 men each, fifty battalions of infantry, and complete the strength of the household troops, cavalry, artillery, &c, would be 37,659; and I believe that while the plan I am now recommending would be by far the cheapest that you could adopt, it would also enable us at once to put our hand upon the number of men we required, who would be ready for service without any delay. My proposal, however, is to limit the army of reserve to one-fourth of the present establishment, and for this reason—I do not wish to break up the militia regiments. When on former occasions such regiments have volunteered for service abroad in time of war they have been almost broken up by allowing men indiscriminately to enlist in the line. I propose, therefore, to restrict the number. I would not take a man from the militia for the first reserve until he had gone through his drill and was able at any time to give efficient service. Then I propose that every 100 men drawn from the militia for the reserve should be accompanied by an officer, who should get a commission in the regular army. I am aware that this is an experiment dependent upon the voluntary action of others; but I recommend it because I do not wish to have recourse to the ballot for the militia, or to any other means than that voluntary enlistment which has supplied our service for so many years. The Royal Commission conclude their Report with an admission that their suggestions will lead to increased expense, and they add that, considering the vast interests at stake, and the immense amount of wealth and property accumulated in the country, as well as in our large cities, they cannot believe that the nation will hesitate to pay what, after all, will but amount to a very trifling rate of insurance. I, too, am certain that the nation will not grudge that expense, and that if, this being the only country in the world where the people are free from military service, we can raise all the force we want on the moderate terms I have mentioned, we may think ourselves well off.

With regard to the second army of reserve, I do not propose to exceed the number of pensioners which there is already power to raise by Act of Parliament. There is at present power to raise 30,000, and the number we now have is only 14,000, and the difference between the two numbers will involve the whole of the second reserve. The pensioners are an admirable force, and are the only body which the civil power has a right to call out in case of disturbances. Nobody objects more than I do to the calling out of the Volunteers for such a purpose, and I hope that that question will be finally set at rest. Pensioners, however, may be called out by the civil authorities. I propose that men who have re-engaged and completed two-thirds of their second engagement should be allowed to commute their remaining term of service for service with the pensioners, receiving the double bounty of militiamen, but serving two years for one to entitle them to a pension, as they would not be liable to be sent abroad. The success of this plan will depend upon the extent to which lords-lieutenant and colonels of militia encourage volunteering to the reserve. I am convinced, however, that this is the plan that must be carried out, and if it cannot be worked in connection with the militia it must be—which I should very much deprecate—carried out without connection with that force. I should strongly deprecate making the army of reserve unconnected with the militia, because the effect would be that a man, on obtaining his discharge from the militia, would instantly go to this army of reserve, instead of remaining in the militia, which the double bounty I propose would induce him to do. What I propose will carry out not, indeed, any direct recommendation of the Royal Commission, but almost all the suggestions they have offered with regard to the army of reserve. They recommended that the Secretary for War should have power to commute the last four or five years' service in the army for service in the reserve, and that an addition should be made to the pensioners, both which I propose to carry out. They recommended, too, the militia as the source to which we must look for an army of reserve. Before coming to this conclusion I wrote to His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief to ask for his opinion, and the recommendations of His Royal Highness were almost identical with what I have proposed. The effect will substantially be this—you will have a militia, consisting of 120,000 men, of which one-third or one-fourth will be an army of reserve, liable in time of war to fill up the ranks of the army, and the only additional expense will be the extra bounty that they will receive. You will have time before coming to a Vote to reflect upon the subject, and to consider whether the propositions I have submitted are advisable to adopt or not. All I can say is, that should the recommendation I have now made of an addition to the pay of the soldiers be carried out by this House, it will be the greatest pleasure to me to think that the last act of my official life will be one which will, I trust and believe be for the benefit of the soldier, and for the advantage of my country. The right hon. and gallant Member concluded by moving— That the number of Land Forces, not exceeding 139,103 men (including 9,778 all ranks, to be employed with the depots in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland of Regiments serving in Her Majesty's Indian Possessions) be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from the 1st day of April 1S07, to the 31st day of March 1808, inclusive."—(The Secretary of State for War.)


Sir, I am quite sure that the Committee will agree with me when I say that the very able, clear, and straightforward statement of the right hon. Gentleman will increase the regret which, affected in no degree by any political differences between us, we all feel that the country is about to lose his services. Sir, I do not understand the right hon. Gentleman to ask the Committee to express any opinion upon the scheme he has just laid before us. I think the Committee will agree with me that it is quite impossible to do so, the more especially as the Estimate now placed before us does not give us any explanation of the details of the plan. That plan not only involves questions of great importance in a financial point of view, but it affects a question of still greater importance—the future military policy of this country. As I understand it, the proposal is that this country shall commence the adoption of something approaching to the Continental system, where a comparatively small number of men are kept in military service, and where a much larger number of men are kept under liability to serve. That is a proposition of great importance, because it makes a great and fundamental change in the constitution of the force which has always been considered the constitutional force of this country—the militia. That force has hitherto been raised simply on the condition of service at home, and the proposal is that a portion of this force shall undertake the liability of serving abroad. It appears to me, as the scheme stands at present, that it very materially interferes with the efficiency of militia when it is first embodied in case of actual war. For these reasons, I would suggest that the Committee should not only abstain from giving any final decision on the scheme to-night, but that, as far as possible, they should abstain from discussing either the principles or the details of the measure. In the first place, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain more fully than he has done why the expenses attending the scheme have been placed before us in the shape of a separate Estimate. I am willing to admit that to the purpose of discussion of the Army Estimates there are some advantages to be obtained by having the scheme of the Government in the shape of a Supplementary Estimate. But a large portion of the expense included in the Supplementary Military Estimates would, as it appears to me, have been more properly embodied in the ordinary Estimates. The 2d. and 3d. per day which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to add to the pay of the troops would, if adopted, come under Vote I of future Estimates, and I want to know whether there is any reason, in addition to the obvious one of convenience of the House, which induces him to lay these Estimates before us in two forms? I wish to know whether the right hon. Gentleman and the Government consider there is any difference in the responsibility they have undertaken in such Estimates; and whether they consider that the House is pledged to the additional expense proposed in the Supplementary Estimate on account of the Report of the Royal Commission; or whether they look upon the two Estimates as merely two portions of one plan? Another question I should like to ask is, as to that portion of the plan in which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to allow men who have served a certain portion of their time to commute the remainder of the service for service in the militia. Does it not occur to the right hon. Gentleman that this proposition, extending, as I understand it, merely to regiments at home—on their return home from foreign service—will materially interfere with the recruiting for regiments at present abroad? If a man enlists for a regiment which has lately gone abroad, he will know that he will have, according to the length of his service, probably the whole or the greater part of his ten years' service in India. If he enlists in a regiment which has nearly completed its term of colonial service, he will soon come home and have the benefit of the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman. I should also like to know whether it is his opinion that the sum of £500,000 which is included in the Supplementary Estimate will probably be the whole cost of the scheme after it has once come into operation? If, as I think he will admit, that £500,000 will not nearly cover the whole of the cost entailed upon the country, I wish to ask him whether he has formed any estimate of the ordinary annual expense of the scheme? I conclude that in order to carry into effect the changes proposed of increasing the period of enlistment from ten to twelve years it will be necessary to introduce a Bill. It will also be necessary to introduce a Bill to enable the right hon. Gentleman to enrol militiamen with liability for foreign service. If I am right in these two conclusions, it appears to me the most convenient form in which we can discuss the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman will be that he or his successor should as soon as possible lay before us the Bill, in order that we may see the machinery by which it is proposed to work it out. At present we have not the scheme before us at all. We have, no doubt, had a very clear and lucid statement from the right hon. Gentleman, but we ought to have all the details of the plan before us. As the right hon. Gentleman referred to the Report of the Recruiting Commission, I wish to say that I have read certain portions of that Report with great satisfaction, as they bear out statements which I frequently made in this House, and which appeared to be received with considerable doubt on the part of several hon. Members. The first has reference to the supply of recruits, and the second to the re-engagement of the ten years' men. Last year the supply of recruits, although short of the demand, was not alarmingly deficient; yet some hon. Gentlemen urged upon the Government to take some active and energetic measures for increasing the supply. Almost the first paragraph of the Report of the Commission states that although the evidence showed that the number of recruits raised had not been sufficient, still, that the deficiency had not been such as to create uneasiness, and could be attributed to causes which might he remedied. I think that this passage of the Report entirely justified the late Government in not acting sooner in the matter, and, when we did act, in only going to the extent of instituting inquiry. With respect to the re-engagement of the time-expiring men, a very large portion of the time spent in discussing the Army Estimates during the last two or three years has been occupied with this question of the re-engagement of ten years' service men. From many Members connected with the army we heard the most alarming statements of the loss which was being caused to it by the discharge of those men who were said to have left in such numbers as greatly to endanger the efficiency of their regiments. Now, though I could not deny that large numbers of men were taking their discharge, I felt it to be my duty to point out that one object of the Limited Enlistment Act undoubtedly was to enable them to do so after they had served for a certain time. I at the same time admitted that it was desirable a considerable number of these men should be retained; and I was, from figures which I had in my possession, able to show that in the artillery and the cavalry a large number of men did actually re-engage, and that the loss to the infantry was not more than 40 or 50 per cent. That statement has been fully borne out by the Report of the Commissioners. They say— In regard to the retention in the army of men after the expiration of their first period of service, referred to in paragraph 4 of the Secretary of State's letter, there can be no doubt that if we look only to the efficiency of the army, and take into consideration the strong opinions which pervade the minds of its officers, it is not desirable that too many of the old and seasoned soldiers should be lost. Nor do we think that such is the case; and, in support of that opinion, we would call attention to a Return marked K 17 in the appendix, which shows the increase and decrease of the army for five years, from 1861 to 1805, from which it appears that while the casualties from all causes amounted to 93.;5 per 1,000, the loss of limited service men was only 14.8 per 1,000, and this would appear to include not only the men who refused to re-engage, but those who, though willing to do so, were from various causes rejected; the table in the margin and the Return in the appendix show also that the age and service of the soldiers composing the cavalry and infantry are not less favourable for military efficiency at the present day than they were in 1846, just prior to the introduction of the Limited Service Act, when enlistment for life was the rule. We would also call attention to a Return in the appendix, showing the decrease of the army for six years, from 1860 to 1865. From this it appears that out of the total number of casualties from all causes, amounting to 125,890 in all arms, the number of soldiers lost to the service under the Limited Service Act was 17,585. By another Return in the appendix it is shown that during the five years ending 1864–5, out of 25,403 soldiers whose time of service had expired 11,343 left the army, while 14,060 remained. They go on to say— In the artillery nearly two-thirds of the men entitled to take their discharge re-engage, and in the engineers about three-fifths. In the cavalry and infantry the proportion of re-engagements is considerably smaller. Now, the conclusion thus arrived at, after full deliberation, entirely confirms, in my opinion, everything which I stated in this House on the subject of the Limited Enlistment Act. I know that there has been a very strong feeling manifested very gene rally throughout the country on this subject. It was contended in the press that the scope of the inquiry was inadequate, and that the investigation of the Commissioners was not sufficiently searching to meet the necessities of the case. I must, however, in justice to the Commissioners, point out one thing which I think ought not to be lost sight of. It must not be forgotten that the feeling which existed in the country when the Commission was appointed was very different from that which now prevails. It was appointed in May or June of last year, and we then had not the experience which we have since derived from the war in Germany. The country would have been satisfied in May or June if we had been able to point out to the House some plan sufficient to supply recruits to our army, organized as it was at the time. We wanted, I believe, nothing more then than that we should have an army maintained at the strength at which it had been kept up for some years—an army sufficient to discharge the duties required of it in India, in the colonies, and at home; and that we should have no difficulty about recruiting it to that strength; while, as regards reserve, it would have asked for nothing more than a well organized militia and Volunteer force. The events of last summer in Germany caused, however, a very great change in the public feeling on the subject, After the war which then took place there were, no doubt, a great many persons who were not satisfied that our army should be that which they would have been contented with earlier in the year, and who desired that we should have not only a sufficient defensive reserve, but also a large reserve, organized on something like the Continental system, by which we could call up a large number of men from the reserve and use them, if necessary, not only for purposes of defence, but of aggression. I need not remind the House of the number of schemes which were put forward during the winter with the object of providing the country with such a reserve. The genera tone of a great many of the writings and speeches in which those schemes were shadowed out was that, taking into account the scale on which war was now carried on in Europe, it was useless for us to think of maintaining our rank among European Powers unless, instead of counting our armies by thousands, we mustered them, as they do, by hundreds of thousands. I must, however, say that I do not believe, great as the excitement in the country was—and it is not, perhaps, yet quite subdued—that it was the wish of any larger portion of the public that any plan should be put into execution which would enable us to organize our army on the scale now adopted on the Continent. The great majority of the country would, in my opinion, have been satisfied, should we at any future time, unfortunately, be called upon to take part in another Continental war, if we were able to do as we have hitherto done—place in the field an army respectable, not from its enormous numbers, but from its composition, materiel, organization, equipment, and discipline, instead of being with Continental nations in sending forth armies mustering 100,000, 200,000, or 300,000 men. I believe I may add that there is one good lesson which may be learnt from the recent war in Germany, and it is one which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would appear to have had in view in preferring his scheme. If that war proves anything it is, I think, the fact—though the conclusions drawn from it may have been in some respects exaggerated—that in the Prussian campaign in Bohemia it was clearly shown that an efficient infantry soldier might be obtained by an amount of drill not exceeding three years. Indeed, a great part of the Prussian army was composed of men who had served in the ranks only one year, and the bulk of it consisted of men who had had only three years' drill. That is a fact which we may turn to account; and I must say that the part of the scheme of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman which I heard with the greatest satisfaction was that in which he explained the means by which the term of service of the British soldier would be practically shortened, if his services were not required, in time of peace. Indeed, I shall be anxious to see whether, in the execution of the scheme, it may not be possible to go still further in that direction than he proposes. I have now said everything which I deem it necessary to say upon this plan, and I would only add a very few remarks with respect to the ordinary Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman has expressed his regret that those Estimates show a considerable increase over those of last year—an increase which he set down at £412,000. He omitted, however, to take into account a sum of £250,000 which was added to the Vote of last year on his own Motion, and which formed no part of the Estimate of the late Government. I am not at all complaining of the magnitude of the sum which he now asks us to vote, but I feel bound to remind him that his Estimates are not £412,000, but £662,000 in excess of those of 1866–7. The increase, I may add, would have been still greater had it not been for a mere matter of account, which enables the right hon. Gentleman to reduce his Estimate. The Committee will perceive that there is an increase for the present year in almost every Vote, except Vote 13, on which there is an apparent reduction of £150,000. The sum which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to spend is, however, really not reduced by that amount. The apparent diminution is attributable to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman expects to be repaid by other services and by the colonies £150,000 in excess of the amount we estimated we should obtain from those repayments last year. I do not wish to dispute the accuracy of his Estimate, but I should like to have some explanation on that point. The Committee will at the same time see that but for this Estimate the actual excess of the Vote proposed for the present year would be £810,000 over that proposed by the late Government. Against the right hon. Gentleman's arguments in favour of that excess I have not a word to say. He contended that the first seven Votes are entirely dependent on the number of men. That is not, however, quite an accurate statement, for it must be observed that some of those Votes include a great many items over which the House has control—such as those relating to depot establishments, recruiting establishments, the purchase of horses, instruction in gunnery, &c. All these are items which are not, perhaps, susceptible of any extensive reduction, but over these the House can exercise a control if it pleases. Over the Commissariat Vote the House, when once it votes the number of men, has little control; but the expenditure in Vote 3 does not depend entirely on the number of men, but on the economical or extravagant manner in which the clothing departments are conducted; and, possibly, by a careful revision, a reduction might be made in that Vote. Vote 4 to a very small extent depends on the number of men, and I know that when I was at the War Office very considerable reductions were annually made in that Vote. Whether those reductions have reached their limit I cannot say; but this I know, that they do not depend on the number of men raised for the army, but to a great extent on the careful supervision of the officer at the head of the department. The same remark applies in a certain extent to Vote 7. There always are, and I believe there always will be, very good reasons discovered every year for some increase in the expenditure, and which when stated as the right hon. Gentleman has stated them, appear to be unanswerable. As I said before, I find no fault with the right hon. Gentleman for the increased expenditure, as it was not in his power to prevent the rise in the price of provisions and clothing; but all I wish to say is that the head of every department must continually have to meet and deal with demands for increased expenditure, and it seems to me to be his duty, while providing all that is absolutely necessary, not to relax in his endeavours to keep down the expenditure in those branches where reductions can be made. I believe that is the only way in which we can expect to get any economy at all. I do not mean to follow the right hon. Gentleman in all his observations; but the fact is, that these are the first Estimates for four or five years past which are not reduced, but very considerably increased. With respect to the particular Vote now before the Committee, I have only to observe that a careful examination of it affords most convincing proof of the truth of the statements made the other night in the discussion on the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major Anson), that the increase of our colonial and Indian establishments merely amounts to a decrease of the British establishment. I entirely approve the proposal for forming a special force for service at Hong Kong, and I believe that preliminary directions for it were given before I left office. That addition is exactly balanced by the reduction which the right hon. Gentleman is compelled to make in the British establishment. The right hon. Gentleman will doubtless recollect that a very interesting discussion took place last year on the subject of musketry practice, and the result was that the Commander-in-Chief appointed a committee to consider whether the system was not carried to a certain degree of excess. It was deemed desirable to ascertain whether some relief might not be given to the men, and some reduction made in the Vote if possible. As the result of this inquiry, it is intended to give up, after six months, the school at! Fleetwood. In that discussion it was I urged by a great many Members that the system of musketry instruction was excessive and might be reduced. I should like to know what has been done in this direction, and whether any other reduction is to be made besides that at Fleetwood. No reduction appears to be made in the Supervisor's Staff. Then, as regards the manufacturing departments, I should like to have minute information furnished respecting the conversion of the Enfield rifles into the Snider pattern. It seems likely to turn out that the right hon. Gentleman was too hasty in making so large an expenditure so suddenly; and so it may be seen that the late Government was right in not proceeding-faster than it did, for many difficulties seem to have been met with which were not anticipated last year when the Supplementary Estimate was moved, and I am not sure that the caution given by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) was not a wise one. I think the process might have been more economical if the right hon. Gentleman had proceeded more slowly. I do not wish to find unnecessary fault with the right hon. Gentleman; but I think we have had proof that in all such matters the greatest deliberation and prudence are necessary. I have now finished the remarks which I desired to make upon the Estimates moved by the right hon. Gentleman; and f will conclude by again ventur- ing to suggest to the Committee that it will be impossible for us to give a decided opinion with reference to all the details of the scheme laid before us until they hare been communicated in their entirety.


tendered his thanks to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for the statement which he had just made to the Committee, Various proposals had been brought forward by previous Governments for increasing the defensive means of the country, and there was a general sense of the importance of their being maintained and perfected, especially when we had regard to the experience of foreign nations, and considered the complicated state of foreign politics, and the present unsatisfactory condition of Ireland. Certainly this was not a time when the defensive resources of this country ought to be diminished. The proposals which had been introduced to the attention of the Committee would involve an increase of expenditure; but the scheme was based on a principle consistent with the constitutional usages of the country. The right hon. Gentleman told them he had done that which was not contemplated by his predecessor: but he (Mr. Newdegate) thought that the right hon. Gentleman was quite justified in the course he had adopted when strong apprehensions were entertained of the invasion of Canada, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman deserved the greatest credit for the manner in which he had proposed to meet the difficulty, and for the promptitude, decision, and efficiency which he had displayed, and by which he had been successful in warding off the danger. He was enabled to speak with confidence on this subject, because he had received communications from friends in Canada who expressed gratitude for the energy of the Secretary at War in having the troops armed with breech-loaders, while the malcontents of the United States imagined that they would be restricted to muzzle-loaders. It was the hope of the Fenians, that by buying up the arms which were being sold at the close of the civil war in the United States that had mainly stimulated the idea of a Fenian raid on Canada; they counted upon finding themselves armed with breech-loaders, while the English soldiers would be armed only with muzzle-loaders. The country owed a deep debt of gratitude to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for having, by extraordinary exertions, placed a breech-loader in the hands of every British soldier in Canada before the communication between the colony and the mother country was interrupted by the ice. He (Mr. Newdegate) desired to pay his tribute to the efficiency which had marked the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in the administration of his most important Department—a Department which was doubly important at the present time. He would not then pronounce any opinion upon the able scheme which the right hon. Gentleman had laid before the country for an army of reserve; but he knew that he spoke the general sense of the country in expressing gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman:—a feeling which was only heightened by regret that the right hon. and gallant General should have left a Department which no other Member of the House was capable of conducting with so much advantage to the State—he believed that such was the feeling pervading the country, and had no doubt that the expression of that feeling would be reiterated on both sides of the House.


agreed with the noble Marquess the late Secretary for War that it would be premature to-night to express any decided opinion on the scheme so ably brought before the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman; but, at the same time, he thought there was sufficient matter in the statement they had heard to enable them to express a proximate opinion till they saw it more in detail. He wished to make one observation on what the noble Marquess had said with regard to the Commission of which he (Mr. O'Reilly) had the honour to be a Member. The noble Marquess said that public opinion had declared that the recommendations of the Commission were inadequate, and that they did not appear to consider the great necessity for urgency in regard to the army of reserve. The noble Marquess had vindicated the Commission for not largely entering on that subject, because, he said, the campaign of last summer had not then taken place. But the more simple vindication of the Commission was that, neither in the Order of Reference nor in the letter of Instructions which the noble Marquess addressed to them, was their attention called to the subject of the army of reserve. The direction of the Commission was— To inquire into the operation of the laws at present in force for raising men to serve in our army, and into the existing system of recruiting for our army, and, after full and careful consideration of these important subjects, to report to us any changes in the existing laws and regulations affecting the raising of men for our army, which would in your judgment facilitate recruiting and to retain in our army a duo number of men who have completed their first period of service. Lord Hartington's Letter of Instruction referred the attention of the Commissioners to the following points. They were to inquire— 1. Whether the deficient number of recruits arose from any defect in the present recruiting arrangements, for the increased number now required in time of peace, from any circumstances which render the military service less attractive than formerly, or from the increased advantages of civil life:—2. What were the remedies for this state of things—whether by localizing regiments, and connecting them with the militia of their respective counties; higher pay, without pension; or higher bounty:—3. Whether the operation of the Limited Enlistment Act has, on the whole, operated beneficially:—5 Whether it is desirable to retain in the Army a larger number of ten years' men than now re-engaged; whether any change should be made in the first or second period of enlistment, and whether a third period should be introduced:—5. Whether it is desirable to retain a hold over those ten years' men who do not remain in the Army either by forming them into a separate Reserve Force, or to incorporate them with the Militia; and whether those plans should be part of their original engagement:—and 6. Whether the system of regimental recruiting should be continued or a system of general enlistment introduced. He ventured to say that every one of the items referred to in the Letter of Instructions had been considered by the Commission, and specific recommendations were given in regard to them. He fully concurred with the noble Marquess that, notwithstanding the excitement in the public mind caused by the campaign of last year, this country had no desire that our military force should enter into competition with the military strength of the nations of the Continent; and that it did not desire to raise such an army as might induce us to engage in Continental wars. What the county did desire was that our army should be thoroughly well organized, including the army of reserve, so as to be thoroughly efficient for the defence of the Empire and its honour whenever it was attacked. The noble Marquess said that one part of the Report of the Commission had given him great satisfaction, because it vindicated what he had said, that the falling off in the number of recruits was not such as to excite alarm, seeing that it had arisen from causes that might be remedied. He was one of those who, four years ago, first drew attention to the fact, and urged on the House the necessity of investigating the causes of the falling off in recruiting. He made a Motion on the subject which the noble Marquess did not then think it necessary to accede to, but which culminated in the Commission of Inquiry. It was not fair to say that our army was very little below the numbers voted for the last five, six, or seven years. The question was, what was the number of recruits we had been able to obtain compared to the number it would ordinarily require to keep up the army? The average strength of the army might be taken at about 200,000; 140,000 on the Votes, and some 60,000 in India. The average annual loss from all causes, not by expiration of service, was 80 per 1,000, which gave 16,800, and if we enlisted men sufficient to supply our wants every year for twelve years' service, 8,000 would be entitled annually to take their discharge. The number of recruits required would therefore be 24,800 every year, while the average number obtained for the last seven years was very little over 15,000. Even taking into account the number of time-expired men who were re-engaged, 60 per cent on 8,000, there was a large deficit, which rendered it most important that means should be found for increasing the number of" recruits. There was another point which the noble Marquess said had given him considerable satisfaction—namely, that the discharges of time-expired men were not so considerable as might have been thought, But they were apt to confound the number of men who ten years ago enlisted with the number who in any year would be entitled to take their discharge. On this subject he had obtained a Return of the number of men entitled to take their discharge two years ago. In those years out of 38,000 men enlisted only 8,000 were in the ranks at the expiration of their first period of service, and entitled to claim their discharge. No doubt that was an exceptional time; but even during peace he believed out of every 1,000 men enlisted only 450 or 500 would be in the ranks at the end of their first period, and in a position to claim their discharge. Even now not more than about 200 would claim it. That fact appeared to him to be the strongest argument in favour of the view of the Commission as to the non-necessity of repealing the Limited Enlistment Act. He wished now to make a few remarks, rather in an interrogatory spirit, on the plan of the right hon. Gentleman for an army of reserve. In the first place, he must say—reserving, of course, the right of modifying his judgment—that he most frankly and cordially concurred in the plan of the right hon. Gentleman. He thought it was fraught with great advantages, Chief among them was this, that it would give the country an army of reserve at the very moment when it was most wanted—that was, at the outbreak of a war. It would also conduce to economy in the Army Estimates, as it would enable them to reduce the regiments in time of peace to an extent that would not involve danger in the case of war. But this plan showed the necessity of other measures, all tending in the direction which he had urged upon the House four or five years ago, and which was also urged by the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major Anson). He was afraid the right hon. Gentleman would never be able to carry out his plan while so many of our regiments were engaged in foreign service. Out of the 132 battalions of infantry (exclusive of the guards) there were never more than from thirty-two to thirty-four at home; and he feared there would not be sufficient to work the system. But the greatest merit of the plan, in his eyes, was its simplicity; it involved no new or strange organization, but rested upon the old groundwork of our army system. He had always looked with doubt and suspicion upon any plan involving a new or strange organization. With the pensioners, Volunteers, militia, and regular army, we had at the present moment organizations sufficiently numerous and varied, and the plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman would tend to link the two great branches of the service more cordially together, a result that was very desirable. There was another point which he looked upon as one of great merit—that of a local connection to be given to the regiments. He had urged this consideration upon the House four years ago; not, indeed, that the connection should necessarily be one with the county whose name the regiment bore, but that it should be such as spring naturally from the circumstances. Perhaps the best mode of carrying it out would be by comities; all he contended for was that it should be encouraged in every possible way. The same point had been pressed upon the Committee by military authorities, such as Lord Strathnairn, Lord William Paulet, Colonel Campbell, and most of the officers connected with the recruiting service. It was stated in evidence before the Committee that some of the second battalions of regiments which had been raised in Lancashire never had any difficulty in raising recruits from that district. A third advantage was that it would bring not only many men from the reserve into the army, but it would induce a number of others to enlist for the period of the war. The advantage of this plan was seen in the late contest in America, when hundreds of thousands of men who never would have enlisted as common soldiers for prolonged service were found to be ready, either from a spirit of patriotism or adventure, to enter for the period of the war. The right hon. Gentleman proposed very properly to allow men on returning from foreign service, when the battalion was above 600 strong, to join the army of reserves, and even when the battalion was below that strength a man might join the army of reserve on procuring a recruit. He would venture to suggest whether it might not also be well, when a regiment was ordered on foreign service, to allow men who had nearly served their time to enter at once into the army of reserve, instead of cumbering their depots with them? With regard to the increase of pay, he thought there was great force in the remark of the right hon. Gentleman, that the men would appreciate it better if they got the 2d. a day direct instead of in the way the Committee proposed. But, as a Commissioner, there were one or two recommendations of the Commission for the benefit of the soldier to which he wished to draw attention. A soldier, they recommended, should be able to get his good-conduct pay in two years actually, and not have to wait until the expiration of the third year before he received it. At present a man might get into the defaulter's book as often as he pleased during the first year, and still get his good-conduct pay at the end of the third year as soon as the man who had never been in the defaulter's book at all. The consequence was that a soldier had no inducement whatever to behave well for the first year. Then they had suggested as important that the good-conduct badge should not be so lightly lost. [General PEEL: That will be attended to.] He was glad to hear it, and he was sure it would be gratifying news to the army at large. Another suggestion was that drills of instruction should, if possible, be diminished in the case of re- engaged men. Lord Strathnairn had emphatically expressed his opinion that this could be done, and that it would be most desirable. Another recommendation was that they should diminish the length of time spent in camps of instruction. On the Continent the camps were only used in the summer months, when instructions were given in the service of a campaign. But he knew of a battery of artillery that had been in Aldershot for four years. He was much gratified to learn from the right hon. Gentleman that in future regiments returning from abroad would not be sent to camps of instruction, but to country quarters. The greatest dissatisfaction had hitherto arisen from the fact that three regiments had been sent to Aldershot. He had only, in conclusion, to express his regret that the right hon. Gentleman was not about to remain in office to carry into effect the admirable scheme he had planned.


begged to express his thanks to the right hon. Gentleman for the able statement he had made that evening, and for the full and ample manner in which he had entered into the Estimates. There was a great deal in which he concurred with the right hon. Gentleman, but there was one point on which he was entirely silent. It appeared to him that if they were to go into the question of army organization it would be impossible to separate it from the still more important question of War Office and Horse Guards organization. As matters stood now, the best possible Minister could not make the system work well. The Secretaryship of State was created in the year 1854, and almost every Department of the State was plundered to make work for it. The Home Office handed over to it the charge of the militia and the Yeomanry; the Colonial Office contributed the military affairs of the colonies; the Ordnance Department gave up to it the stores, the fortifications, and the depots out of India; and the Treasury handed over to it the commissariat. What had happened since then? The work had been more than doubled; it had been indefinitely multiplied. The numbers of the regular army had been largely increased, the forces in India had been augmented, a force of about 150,000 Volunteers added to the responsibilities and duties of the already over tasked Minister. He would not detain the House by entering at length into the subject at present; but would say that he thought the right hon. and gallant Gentle- man had forgotten what was due to himself in his anxiety for the good of the soldier. He trusted that at some future time the important questions connected with the organization of the War Office would be fully considered by the House, and dealt with in a bold and comprehensive manner.


trusted the noble Lord who had last spoken would have an early opportunity of entering fully into the subject to which he had referred; the great attention which he had evidently given to the matter would, he was sure, command for him an attentive House. He might remind the noble Lord that the Motion of which notice had been given by the hon. Member for Invernesshire would open up the whole subject, for discussion. There was certainly much to be said in favour of an inquiry into the subject. The subject is one of great difficulty; and when the noble Lord returns to the subject, I may venture to assure him that he will find a willing audience—an audience sensible of the difficulties of the subject, and sensible, too, that all the changes made at the time were not sufficiently well considered. The extensive changes in the War Office during 1854 and 1855 were necessarily made under circumstances of great pressure and with much haste; and there were many Members in both Houses of Parliament who would be able to speak with authority upon the subject. With reference to the remarks of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), he confessed he could not follow him in his reference to the present state of the Continent or of Ireland. It was paying too great a compliment to the insane persons, as he would almost venture to call them, who had troubled the peace of the sister isle within the last day or two to, let their acts influence us to any extent in considering our military defences; and as to the Continent, he had the satisfactory conviction that our relations with foreign nations were steadily improving from day to day. It might be wise to place the defensive system of the country in a position to meet every emergency; but it would be the greatest mistake in the world to suppose, with the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, that any increase in our forces was proposed to meet dangers likely to arise out of our relations with the Continent. With regard to the limited range of the inquiry made by the Commission to which the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington) had alluded, it had been explained that the Commission did not think that the question of the army reserve came within the scope of its instructions. The matter resolved itself into a question of interpretation, not of the Commission itself, but of a letter addressed by the noble Lord when Secretary of State to the Chairman of the Commission, which contained instructions which might have received a larger interpretation than was put upon them by the Commissioners. Under the third head of instructions contained in that letter the Commissioners are told that— Your inquiry should extend to the operation of the Limited Enlistment Act, and you should report how far that Act has answered the expectations with which it was passed, and whether its operation has or has not, on the whole, been beneficial to the army. He confessed that the words of that letter might, in his judgment, have conveyed to the minds of the Commissioners that which he believed was in the mind of the Government at the time—namely, that they were to be at liberty to consider the whole subject of the reserve as far as it grew out of the time of service in the army, and as far as it was connected with the subject of recruiting. He should never think of blaming the Commissioners for having adopted the prudent and circumspect course of keeping within their instructions rather than to exceed them; but, considering the ability of those who were upon the Commission, it was greatly to be regretted that the country had lost some part of the benefit it would have derived from their inquiry, owing either to the narrowness of their instructions or to the too modest interpretation which they put upon their instructions. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War had adverted with great clearness and force of argument to the question respecting the difference between the kind of advantages offered to the soldiers by the recommendations of the Commission, and the more direct and intelligible advantage in the shape of a small augmentation of their pay that he proposed to offer them. There was another subject immediately connected with this question, which appeared to have dropped out of view in the discussion which had taken place; and he was not sure I whether the matter had been brought under the attention of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. It was, that last year, before the appointment of the Commission, a departmental committee was formed to con- sider the very important question of ration stoppages in the army, by some modification of which it was possible to have conferred very great advantages upon the soldiers—advantages which might not have been less beneficial to them than those which were proposed by the Commission and by the plans of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. That departmental committee drew up a Report for the consideration of the Government, and that Report, if he was not mistaken, was referred to the Commission; but it did not appear to be contained in the volume on the table of the House, neither did it appear from the Report of the Commission to have been under their consideration, notwithstanding that it was obviously a subject of great importance, because it offered a third alternative and method of proceeding distinct from that recommended by either the right hon. Gentleman or the Commission. Not feeling himself a competent judge of the matter he could not trust himself to say whether the alternative proposed by the departmental committee was or was not preferable to that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman or by the Commission; but as the object of the inquiry conducted by that Committee had been the subject of serious thought, he thought it was one that should not have been lost sight of; and therefore he would suggest to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, that unless there was some objection to such a proceeding, of which he was not aware, that Report of the departmental committee should be laid before the House, as it must be calculated to enlarge their information upon a subject of great national importance. He wished also to express to the right hon. Gentleman his anxiety that he should candidly direct his attention to the question of the ultimate charge of the plans which he had proposed. He thought the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, in stating the extra charge which his plan for an army of reserve would entail, had forgotten that, besides the direct charge, there would be a great additional indirect charge involved by the adoption of his plan, inasmuch as by passing a large body of commuting soldiers into the militia, vacancies would be created in the regular army, which could only be filled up by a more rapid and extensive system of recruiting, necessarily involving a considerable expenditure. It would be desirable that some estimate should be given showing the probable amount of the indirect charge, if any, that would result from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's plan if it were adopted. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had himself told the House that the figures before them did not represent the real state of the case as regarded the heavy augmentation that had taken place in the Military Estimates. He could not regret any augmentation in the charges of the army that had been caused by the rise in the price of labour; but it was necessary to ascertain how far the increase in the army expenditure was attributable to that cause. It would also be the duty of the House, when they came to consider the Estimates in Committee, to inquire whether the condition of the soldier could not be improved by other means than by the rough-and-ready one of increasing his pay. He was afraid in these times, when Parliament and the public were disposed to deal liberally with the army, there was a strong disposition to regard a dose of public money as a universal panacea for every difficulty, without considering the advantages that might be obtained from other resources. He was rather disappointed at not hearing from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that it was his intention to compensate the increase of charges in one department by a diminution of the expenses of another department. It might well be that from the vast amount of ordinary work the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had to perform he was unable to make the necessary investigations into the working of the numerous departments under him, and, perhaps, that might form a subject for consideration when a Motion in the nature of the Motion of the hon. Member for Inverness come on for discussion. As compared with last year let the House see how the matter stood. As his noble Friend the Member for North Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington) had pointed out, the real increase of charge was a sum of £810,000 diminished by about £120,000, which his right hon. and gallant Friend expected to get in the shape of an augmentation of extra receipts, but, on the other hand, increased by £500,000 to be proposed as a Supplementary Estimate. So that the fact was there would be an augmentation of nearly £1,200,000 in the Army Estimates of the year. It might be unreasonable, but it was perfectly natural for a Member of the House of Commons to entertain a feeling that some not inconsiderable means of reduction might have been discovered to balance this ex- cess of charge. It was not possible for himself to pretend to offer any material assistance to the House in discovering such means of reduction, and he heartily concurred in the observation of his noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington), that it must happen that every year there would be some one or more head of service coming forward for an increase of public charge. But it was the duly of that House to make such provision as to insure that a steady and careful review of all the establishments should be going on within the departments themselves, so as to obtain, as far as possible, the advantage of compensating by reduction for any necessary augmentation of expense that might take place. It appeared to him a matter deserving the attention of the Government whether some special provision might not be necessary for the inspection of the various branches of our military expenditure, and it was worthy of the serious consideration both of Government and Parliament whether they had sufficiently discharged their duty on this occasion. Undoubtedly, before 1854, whatever might have been the imperfections of our establishments with reference to the gigantic operations required in time of war, there was an organization, both in the Ordnance Department and the Office of the Secretary for War, which was good for the purpose of chocking the military expenditure. He thought the same organization would work equally well in time of peace. His right hon. Friend did not, probably, differ from that opinion, and he only stated what was on record in public documents when he said that the Duke of Wellington, who was no less great as an administrator than as a general, was the real author of the most difficult portion of that organization—namely, that relating to the Ordnance Department. He trusted, therefore, that this matter would receive the serious attention of the Government, for he was convinced that, without imputing blame, the fact that Her Majesty's Government, under the peaceful circumstances of the time, should think themselves obliged to propose so large an additional charge, instead of a reduction, would create disappointment in the country, and impose on the House the duty of determining whether some check should not be provided, and if the business of revision and reduction could not be sufficiently carried out by the ordinary means of departments it would not be necessary to consider whether there should not be some special machinery established for that purpose.


said, he was convinced that the service could not be improved without an increase of expenditure:—but the great question was whether they got an equivalent for what they paid. For his part, he wished to tender his thanks to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War for the lucid statement he had made, and to express his regret, in common with the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, that the services of one who had shown himself so competent to deal with the important question of army organization were likely to be lost—he hoped only for a short time—to the country. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the reserve force must, to a considerable extent, be aided by the militia. He had taken the liberty to say to the late Mr. Sidney Herbert, when bringing in some Bills on the subject, that no matter what measures he introduced, there was no other organized force that he could fall back upon to do garrison duty and fill up the gaps in the army but the militia. The militia had been rather eclipsed of late by that splendid force, the Volunteers; and he remembered hearing the late Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams) say that the militia were no longer necessary now that we had the Volunteers. That, however, was a great mistake. The Volunteers could never perform the same duty as the militia, except if this country should be attacked, and they fought side by side. He remembered the Duke of Wellington, upon the second reading of the Bill under which the present militia was constituted, saying that about 1810 and 1811 no force could be better than the militia for Her Majesty's troops. Some of the militia regiments raised under the ballot volunteered for the Peninsular war. At the time of the Crimean war the original force which embarked for the Crimea was about 25,000 men, and during the progress of hostilities the militia sent some 34,000; and not only that, but they enabled us to send on our troops from Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, and did the garrison duty of this country. And now they would be enabled to do more by the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the reluctance of militia colonels to receive men from the line. For himself, he could say he would be very glad to have such an addition, for they might be made extremely useful as non-commissioned officers, and he would have no fear of being unable to keep them in order. Again, it had been said that some colonels of militia did not like to give their men. But tin's he would say, that if it were pointed out to them as a duty, it would be performed with zeal, and he hoped to the benefit of the country.


said, that as a Member of the Commission appointed to inquire into this subject, he should like to say a few words in reference to it. He thought that much of the criticism which had been passed on the Report of the Royal Commission had arisen from a misapprehension of the scope of the inquiry which was intrusted to them. They had been censured for not having included in their recommendations a plan for forming an army of reserve, and the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) had attributed their not having gone so far on this point as some desired to a change having occurred in public opinion subsequent to their appointment. The censure was most unjust. The fact was, as was shown by the noble Lord's own letter, and by the terms of their appointment, that the scope of their inquiry was limited to the consideration of two questions, how the deficiency in the supply of recruits was to be met, and whether it was desirable to maintain the Limited Enlistment Act or to fall back on the old system of enlistment for life. It was true that they were also directed to consider the means of maintaining a hold over the ten years' men who were disinclined to remain in the army, and whether they should be formed into a reserve, as to which the Commission reported that it was desirable to keep them in the regular army; but the question of forming an army of reserve only arose after the Prussian campaign, and therefore could not have been included within their inquiry. Every Member of the Commission must have been convinced of the extreme desirability not only of enlisting more recruits, but of widening the field from which they were drawn; for the present system, to use the mildest term, was very discreditable, and nobody could read the evidence which had been given on the subject without a sense of shame. The recruits were, in fact, said to be drawn from the very lowest classes. There were two aspects in which the question ought to be regarded—from the soldiers' and from the civilians' point of view. The grievances of the soldier were very small, go small that they might be called irritating sores rather than grievances. But although very small taken separately, yet being endured day by day they caused a worrying sense of irritation which became at last a serious 'grievance. Upon this point he attached greater weight to the evidence of the soldier than to that of the most experienced officers. Great irritation was felt at the different stoppages to which the soldier was subject. There was not a man who did not lay stress upon it; and many of the officers did the same. The men said they never knew when they had got 2d. in their pockets, or what they would have to-morrow, or what they could depend upon. First and foremost was the stoppage for the "shell" or fatigue jacket. There was some foundation for this grievance. They made a man work in a certain coat, and did not allow him to wear one made of a material that would last the longest and be the most serviceable to him; but he was compelled to wear it and keep it in repair, however strongly he might feel that it was not suited to the work he had to do in it. And then, out of a soldier's 2d. or 2½d. a day, they put a stoppage upon him to renew this jacket. There were several other items of stoppage which it would be much wiser to abandon. The meat was certainly complained of by the cavalry and the artillery. These were illustrations of the soldiers' grievances; he felt the pressure of them every day of his life, and it was a mistake to imagine that an increase of 2d. a day in his pay would remove them. He was afraid that after an enormous expense of between £300,000 and £400,000 had been incurred, the grievances would remain where they were before, and the House would still have to redress them. He was rather afraid that the right hon. Gentleman would then have to give 2d. a day and what the Commissioners recommended for stoppages and meat besides. This question of 1d. or 2d. a day additional was, however, in his opinion a very superficial way of looking at the subject. It was necessary to go much further and deeper into it. A very serious question and one which required an answer was, how it came about that there was so great an indisposition on the part of the labouring classes in this country to see their relatives enlisting into the army. How came it that a profession to which the upper classes were proud that their sons should belong, and which they regarded as the highest in the country, should be looked upon by the poorer classes with so much aversion? He could not pretend to answer this question offhand; but it behoved the House to see whether they could not remove some of the causes which made the army unpopular. It was lamentable to reflect upon the class from which the recruits were drawn. One recruiting sergeant said his recruits were always young men who had cither got into trouble or were out of work, or who had come up from the country and failed to obtain employment. Another declared that recruits were the refuse of the population, who fled into the army as a place of refuge. The army was avoided by men of steady character and industrious habits was that a state of things creditable to this country? None of the explanations that were sometimes advanced was adequate to account for it. It could not be, as some thought, because parents did not like to see their sons expatriated? The same objection applied to officers, but the parents of officers made no objection to their sons going abroad with their regiments. Nor did he believe that the state of the labour market was the cause; because where the army competed with the labour market on even terms, it failed to draw recruits. A soldier was better off, in many respects, than an agricultural labourer. He had more meat, was better housed and fed; and the labourer, after twenty years' service, had no pension to fall back upon; yet the agricultural labourer refused to be a soldier. Nor could it be said that the martial ardour of the nation had fallen into decay, or that the prospect of expatriation was distasteful, for the officers of the army showed no dislike to foreign service, and the well-filled ranks of the Volunteers gave no countenance to the suggestion that Englishmen had lost the warlike spirit of their forefathers. He was pleased with much that had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman on this subject; but with nothing more than his remarks on the subject of employing soldiers in industrial occupations. One of the great objections to a soldier's life was its terrible monotony, the eternal round of drill, from one year's end to another. He honoured those officers who worked so hard to find amusement, and to open reading rooms, for their men; but soldiers wanted something besides drill and amusement. They wanted some employment to occupy them. He was sorry, on the other hand, to hear the right hon. Gentleman pass over, with so much brevity, the recommendation of the Recruiting Commissioners for the enlistment of boys. The House would remember that, a few years ago, the navy was worse off than the army now was for recruits. The House was then recommended to adopt a plan by which boys, who were too young to enter the naval service, received a year's training. That plan had been a magnificent success. There was hardly an officer of the navy who did not bear testimony to the wonderful alteration since that system was adopted. The Commissioners recommended a somewhat analogous plan for the army. The right hon. Gentleman had merely remarked, on this recommendation, that the boys would cost £30 a year, and that this would be a very expensive way of getting recruits. Including buildings, the estimate might not be excessive; but the House must remember the difference which a year and a half's training would make in completing the education of the soldier. The lads would be taught to mend their own clothes, to handle a spade, and to do many of those things which a Continental soldier was able to do, but which were now done for our troops by others. He would be introduced into the army a complete soldier, instead of a raw recruit, who had to be taught everything, and be drilled, by slow and tedious process, into soldiers. No comparison could be instituted between a boy who entered at sixteen, and was turned out at seventeen and a half years of age, and who cost £45, and a recruit who was picked up in Charles Street; but he hoped the right hon. and gallant General would give some further consideration to the matter, which was well deserving of the serious attention of the House. The question of inducing men to enter the army was all the more grave, because an army of reserve would increase the necessity for recruits, which there would be still more difficulty in obtaining, as the price of labour rose. The present system of recruiting could not continue, for it was such that the Commission used only a mild term, when they spoke of "inveigling young men into the army." The more the evidence was read, the more necessary would it be to represent to the recruit the real terms of the service, for two men, well qualified to form a correct opinion, declared to the Commission that so great was the mistrust inspired by past deceptions, that the recruiting sergeant would not be believed even if he were able to refer to an authori- tative statement on paper of the terms of the service. It was high time for the War Office to see that recruiting was conducted more satisfactorily.


said, that no apology was needed by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) for speaking as a civilian on a subject so important; and considering the calm and temperate manner in which his remarks had been made, and the good feeling by which they had been characterized, they could not fail to commend themselves to great attention. In a great deal of what had been said by the hon. Member he entirely concurred, and particularly in what he had said about stoppages. He believed there was nothing more annoying to a soldier than to be constantly subject to stoppages, their frequency, and the uncertainty as to their amount, created a bad feeling which it was impossible to over-estimate. On the recommendation of a Royal Commission, over which he (Lord Hotham) presided some years ago, many of these stoppages had been done away with altogether, and the more they could be reduced the better. With respect to the description of persons who were now enlisted in Her Majesty's service, he should be very glad if the improvements which had been suggested could be carried out. The man who could discover a mode of enlisting a better description of men would be a great public benefactor; but although it might not be impossible to make such a discovery, the matter was attended with more difficulties then the hon. Member for Bedford seemed to imagine. He did not intend to enter into any discussion as to whether the Commission had or had not fully carried out its instructions. He was appointed Borne years ago to serve on a Royal Commission, and the first thing he was told was that he must not recommend anything likely to cause an increase of expenditure; and it rarely happened that any Royal Commission so appointed found itself able to go either as far as it desired or those whom it concerned expected. The main point in the discussion had turned on the Supplementary Vote which had been proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. Now, on the point of recruiting, which had formed the principal topic of discussion, he would merely allude to two or three matters on which his right hon. Friend was disposed to follow the recommendations of the Commissioners. First, as to the abrogation of the Ten Year's Enlistment Act. When that Bill was introduced by Lord Dalhousie one of its objects was to enable a man to retire from the service at the end of ten years at such an age and in such a state of health as to enable him to become a good and useful citizen, all the better for the training he had undergone. Whether that object had been attained or not he would not say; but he had always entertained the opinion that enlistment for ten years would not be satisfactory in a military point of view, and the alteration proposed afforded a justification for his having voted in every division against Lord Dalhousie's Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had stated his intention of allowing the enlistment of men for general service instead of enlisting them for particular regiments. Under the present system every man had the right of enlisting into any regiment he might select, and there was no power of removing him into another against his will. Now, while he approved this arrangement, he never could see why that large number of recruits who had no preference for any particular regiment should not be enlisted for general service. The right hon. Gentleman had expressed his readiness to abolish the charge for barrack damages, thus removing a source of much irritation and ill-will. He felt a natural satisfaction at this proposal, and also at that to do away with the Ten Year's Enlistment Act, as both changes had been recommended by the Royal Commission over which he (Lord Hotham) presided. There was one other subject on which he wished to make a remark, and that was the military reserve funds. With the exception of the noble Lord opposite and his right hon. Friend, he believed that no one knew fully the meaning of that subject. It involved the receipt and expenditure of large sums of money, by whom or in what manner no other hon. Member knew than those to whom he alluded. When he called the attention of the House to the subject last year his right hon. Friend said it was one which ought to be inquired into by a Committee. If the Army Estimates had been brought forward this year under ordinary circumstances, he should have stated at length the reasons why he considered some inquiry necessary; but observing the position in which the House was now placed, he would content himself with asking his right hon. Friend whether, during the last eight months he had been at the War Office, he had seen any reason to alter the opinion which he last year expressed?


regretted the loss of the right hon. Gentleman, whom he supposed he must now call the late Secretary of State for War, at this particular moment; for, however great might he the abilities of his successor, it was impossible for him at once to make himself master of all the matters connected with military administration. When considerable reforms were required in that administration it was a misfortune that the right hon. Gentleman should have been removed to make room for a right hon. Gentleman who had all his work to learn. So far as he understood the plan which the right hon. Gentleman had propounded that evening, it contained a great deal that was good. The proposed addition of 2d. daily to the soldier's pay was a necessary consequence of the state of the labour market; but although this was doubtless a great improvement, it did not touch the main difficulty in regard to recruiting. A better class of recruits was required, as well as a larger number of them; for all the evidence adduced before the Royal Commission showed that the men from whom our troops were drawn were chiefly dullards or idlers, or persons who could find no other employment. He should like to know what thought was present in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman when he conceived the plan of giving 20s. to a soldier on furlough who brought home a recruit; but he believed he could pretty well guess what it was. The truth was the army was not popular, and in reality the greatest antagonist of the recruiting sergeant was the soldier on furlough, because he went home and described the irritating sores, as they had been called, from which the soldier suffered, and whose tongue might, perhaps, be to some extent stopped on the subject of his grievances if he were rewarded for obtaining a recruit. But the unpopularity of the army was chiefly-owing to a want of proper regard for the comfort and happiness of the soldier; though even if everything possible were done in this respect, there would still be something wanting to make the army a profession which men in the lower ranks of life would willingly embrace. What they had to do was to take away his real grievances, make his life happier, and show him that entering into the army is not self-banishment—do that and he would be far more likely to bring back recruits than now, even with 20s. or 25s. a piece for them. For his own part, he thought a great error was made when the British and the Indian armies were united, and believed it would be politic to revert to the system of having two armies. There might, for instance, be an army for home service and another for colonial service—the terms for which the men enlisted in each being different. Above all, the present disgraceful system of recruiting ought to be done away with. It was called voluntary enlistment, when the fact was it was a system of kidnapping half-intoxicated youths and those out of work into the service. It was a shame to the country, and the recruiting sergeants themselves were not unfrequently ashamed of the part they had to play. The present scheme was of such magnitude that he felt assured the House would give it the best consideration; but he thought they should forbear expressing any opinion on it at the present moment. But he did not agree with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, that after they passed the seven Votes they could do little to decrease the Estimates. With regard to the Estimates which had been laid before the House he might point out that the expenditure for the administration of the army exceeded by £5,000 the Vote of last year. It was, he thought, of the utmost importance that everything should be done to find, as far as possible, employment for the soldier which would bring him in money; and while, their fore, for the higher duties of the department it might be necessary to secure the services of well paid clerks, there were others which might very advantageously be discharged by private soldiers, who, instead of a fixed salary, would be content to receive 5s. or 6s. a day. In that way a considerable saving might he effected and a benefit conferred on the well-conducted soldier which he would appreciate. An auditor had, he might add, been lately appointed to check the accounts at the War Office, with a view to the establishment of a better system of financial control; but he unfortunately did not appear to have been very successful in the attainment of that object. The system on which our army accounts were conducted was one indeed so complicated as to render it utterly impossible to carry it out with any degree of efficiency in time of war. But without adverting further to that point he would ask his right hon. Friend, in conclusion, for some explanation of what he considered an item of unnecessary expenditure in connection with the A and B troops of Royal Engineers who were an offshoot of the Royal Engineers, and who were maintained in order simply to practice pontooning on special days at Aldershot, and included two officers, thirty non-commissioned officers, 474 men, and 307 horses at a cost of something like £35,000 a year. He could not see that that was a necessary expenditure. He trusted that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite would take these circumstances into his consideration.


thought that the Committee was very much indebted to the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) for his useful remarks, and in none of those remarks was he (Colonel North) more inclined to agree than with those respecting the eternal stoppages—there was nothing more irritating to the soldier. His hon. Friend had mentioned the shell jacket, which was a serious consideration to the soldier. And here he might remark that there was nothing which so much intensified the dislike of soldiers to Aldershot as the constant wear and tear of clothing that occurred there. In garrison towns, too, there were many occasions, such as fires, in which the soldiers exerted themselves most beneficially, but where having injured their clothes they never afterwards received a farthing of compensation. He could not agree with his hon. Friend that soldiers on furlough created great obstacles to recruiting by the accounts they gave of the service; but he believed that great harm was done by the number of disabled soldiers who were scattered over the country, and who, perhaps, having been blinded, or completely broken down by trench work, received only 6d., 9d., or 1s. a day for a period of twelve months, after which they were left entirely to their own resources. He knew many such cases in his own neighbourhood; and he believed that nothing was so detrimental to recruiting than that these men should be left to roam about utterly ruined in health and purse. As to having two armies, a home and a colonial one, he did not see how it was practicable; we wanted to have our army in hand, so as to be able to send it, at short notice, to any part of the world. There was the Trent affair, for example, when we sent 10,000 men to Canada; we could hardly have done that if our army had been permanently cut in two. We had at best but a small army, and we should have it always ready in case of war. He was afraid he could not go the whole length with his noble Friend the Member for the East Riding (Lord Hotham) on the subject of barrack damages, as there were cases in which wilful damage took place and ought to be paid for; but stoppages under that head should be reduced as much as possible. In the case of men in hospital, who might have wives and families starving outside, he thought the stoppage of 10d. a day was monstrously unfair. The noble Lord the late Secretary for War had told them that, for the last few years, the deficiency in recruits had been met by a proportionate reduction of the army. That admission was most important, and the unpleasant inference was that if we persisted in that system the end would be the destruction of our army. In conclusion, he begged to join in the general regret at the retirement of his right hon. and gallant Friend on the Treasury Bench from the post of Minister for War.


said, that if we had a reformed House of Commons, chosen by the great mass of the people, a far more efficient and cheaper method of defending the country would be hit upon than that which had been discovered, either by the Horse Guards or the Royal Commission. The Report of the Recruiting Commission had greatly disappointed him; and when he read the petty palliatives recommended in it—such as those relating to Washing the sheets, barrack damages, and similar petty matters—he felt inclined to ask, what had the War Department, paid so highly for so many years, been about not to have seen to those things without the necessity for a number of able men sitting many days and examining many witnesses in order to produce such a Report? The subject of the military defences of the country should be dealt with in a more comprehensive spirit than had been shown or suggested by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread.) Our army costs the largest sum, and produced the smallest results. It ought to be ascertained how many recruits we really required. Were we not enlisting more than we wanted now? How fat-could we reduce our colonial military expenditure—for we had not tried that yet? Why had not the recommendations of the Committee which sat six years ago been carried out? A great mistake was made six years ago in amalgamating the English and Indian armies. The sooner our steps in that matter were retraced the bet- ter. When the colonial and Indian military expenditure was cut down as far as possible, then we should know the number of recruits that were absolutely wanted. The number of our distant fortresses, such as Gibraltar, Malta, and Bermuda, might be advantageously diminished. We ought to have the smallest possible army in time of peace, but with an establishment of such a nature that we could increase it to any amount in time of war. Why did we not take the same steps to improve our army by comparison with foreign armies that other countries did? From America, for instance, there was an officer dispatched to this country to inquire into the details of our army system, to see if the American system, which had already proved so efficient, could not be benefited thereby. We might gain considerable benefit to our own army system by inquiring into the systems which prevailed in France, Prussia, Switzerland, and Russia. He regretted that the Recruiting Commission had been a mere farce, and had entirely failed in its duty. It did not go into the matter thoroughly; and he was sorry to say that we I now wanted another Committee or Com-mission so constituted as to be able to inquire into the whole subject. It was quite I impossible for private Members of Parliament to inquire into the system pursued in other countries if the Public Departments would not do it. The scheme proposed by the Secretary for War might be a very good scheme; but he only saw that it greatly increased our expenditure, which had been creeping up from year to year, and which was always increasing, no matter whether Whigs or Tories were in office. At present, in our Public Departments it required six people to do the work of one. There were some vested interests so strong that they entirely overruled the will of any Secretary of State, who was placed in the hands of clerks to such an extent that he scarcely had a will of his own. He regretted that the Secretary for War was quitting office, not that he had introduced any great improvements, but because he had a will of his own. He hoped the House would have soon a general, thorough, and efficient debate upon the whole subject, such as was worthy of the House of Commons and of the country.


thought that as the Secretary for War was quitting his office the best thing to be done was to appoint the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Seymour) to the vacancy, when he could put in prac- tice that which he recommended. He did not think it right to pass over in entire silence the attack just made on the Recruiting Commission by the hon. Member, who also referred to the military systems of different Continental countries, and said that ours was inferior to that of every other country. Those systems were, it was true, wholly different from ours—we had no compulsory service such as existed in every other country in Europe; and as for America, to which the hon. Member likewise alluded, the House needed not to be told that the Americans, in the space of three years, spent £600,000,000 in getting up an army, chiefly because they were not, at the time of need, prepared with a properly-organized force. If all these questions were to be investigated again by a new Commission, all he wished was that the hon. Member himself might be made the Chairman of it. With respect to the scheme of the right hon. and gallant General the late Secretary of War, he must say that, with the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), he regretted that the suggestion of the Commission regarding the military training of boys had not met with some attention. All the witnesses who spoke respecting the training of boys for the navy testified to the advantage of that system, and said that, with a slight difference in practice, it might he applied with equal advantage to the army. No subject was brought before the Commission more forcibly than that relating to pensions, and the Commission had been criticized severely for recommending that the pension of a man who had served twenty-one years should only be raised from 8d. to 10d.; and the witnesses had been unanimous in describing the smallness of the pension as one of the greatest obstacles to re-enlisting. The Commission were unanimous in wishing that the soldier should have his pension with the money given to him for good conduct during his service in addition. The Commission did not hold it to be necessary that the rations of all the soldiers in the army should be increased from three-quarters of a pound to 1 lb., but only that the soldiers at home should have it so increased. The evidence on that point was strong. The Commissioners were told that in the Cavalry, the Artillery, and the Sappers and Miners corps, the soldiers were obliged to pay out of their own pocket in order to procure an additional allowance. That statement applied more especially to the Sappers and Miners, whom, it was stated, were obliged to spend in that way every farthing they could spare. The evidence was not so strong with regard to the infantry. Some of the witnesses gave it as their opinion that the infantry ought to have an increase of rations; but there was very general unanimity indeed on the point as regarded the Cavalry, Artillery, and Sappers and Miners, the witnesses stating that an increase was positively necessary, in order to enable the men to perform their arduous duties. For the most part the Commission had to conduct their inquiry in. London; but they were told that, if they wanted to get at the truth, they ought to have some of the private soldiers before them. With that view the Commissioners went to Aldershot and the evidence they received there from the private soldiers was most valuable. More candour and independence could not be found in any witnesses. The Commissioners told them that their names would not be given in the Report, but they would be numbered. This course was taken in order that they might give their evidence with the greatest freedom. It would be seen from the printed evidence that those witnesses attached the greatest importance to what were generally known as "grievances"—to the deductions from the bounty, the shell-jacket question, and the deductions for extra clothing. Every one of them agreed in stating that, in no other quarters in the country, was there such wear and tear of clothing as at Aldershot, or where soldiers were subject to such deductions for clothing as they were there. None of them objected to soldiers being deprived of good-conduct pay for offences, but they were unanimous in suggesting that such deprivation should not take place without the approbation of the commanding officer. One of them said that some time ago, when in detachment, he was deprived of it by a subaltern who had not the same experience as his commanding officer of his former good conduct, and that, in consequence of his knowledge on the point, the latter would have found means of punishing him sufficiently without depriving him of his good-conduct pay. He thought his hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr. Henry Seymour) could neither have read the Report of the Commission nor heard much of the discussion that evening, or he would not have made some of the observations which he had just addressed to the House. The Commission had arrived at the conclusion that the time must come when these stoppages and other grievances complained of in the army must be dealt with; and their recommendations were directed to doing away with some of these grievances. He submitted to the House that the Commission would scarcely have been justified in going into the reserve question more than they had done. The noble Lord the late Secretary of State for War, in moving the Commission, said, that the average annual deficiencies amounted to 4,500, and the number of recruits to 15,000; and the inquiries of the Commission were directed to ascertaining how the army could best be maintained at its requisite strength. He believed their recommendations would not have been found so expensive as his right hon. Friend seemed to think. The Commissioners never had lost sight of the question of expense to the country involved in any suggestions which they might make. He would not express his entire approbation of the scheme of his right hon. Friend, but he approved it generally, and would willingly give it his support.


wished to say, by way of explanation, that, bearing in mind the alteration in public opinion, it was not to be wondered at that at the time the Royal Commission was appointed, special reference was not made in the Instructions to the subject of an army of reserve; but, while he admitted that no Special Instructions on the point were given to the Commission, he could not admit that there was anything in the Instructions to prevent them from entering into that subject if they had thought it right to do so. On the contrary, he could not but think that when the question of period of service was before them, and when their attention was also called to the question whether it would be desirable to obtain a hold over the ten years' men, the question of an army of reserve might fairly have been deemed a fit subject for consideration by the Commission.


thanked the right hon. and gallant General the Secretary of State for War for the boons he proposed to confer on the soldier. He thought these might justly be called necessary boons; and he believed that the knowledge that something in the direction now indicated was going to be done had already had a good effect on men in the army as well as on men thinking of becoming recruits. He was able to bear testimony that recruiting had of late manifestly improved, from the prevailing notion that the condition of the soldier was about to be improved, and he knew of cases in which soldiers entitled to their discharge had held on because they believed that something for their benefit was about to be put in force. The outline of the scheme which had been propounded would do much to popularise the Service; but of the various benefits which the scheme would confer on the soldier, one had not been referred to in the debate—that was the finding him remunerative employment. It was not only proposed to employ the troops, but to permit them to effect barrack repairs, which at present constituted a very heavy and irksome charge. The charge for repairing a barrack was upon the average £50 per month, and this was an important sum if expended amongst the men of a regiment; and if they permitted the soldier to earn that money by his own industrious labour, they would confer on him one of the greatest boons. A gallant General, at present commanding a district in the South of England, had told him that since he had been permitted to employ a certain number of men in useful labour, paying them properly for it, there had not only been a great improvement in the conduct of the men, but the greatest punishment was debarring them from being placed on the list to be so employed. He really believed if the scheme of the right hon. and gallant General were carried out it would do more to ameliorate the condition of the soldier than at the first blush might appear. It was quite a mistake to suppose that the men would spend the additional money they received in drink. From inquiries he had himself made, he found that not more than one-third of the consumption at the canteen was in drink, two-thirds being spent in bread, cheese, and eating. He believed that by usefully and productively employing the men as much would be done to improve their condition as by the additional 2d. a day, which, he was glad to think, was to be given to them. In the French army this system was most successfully carried out, and the men were employed in works useful to themselves and to the nation; indeed, some of the fortifications for Paris had been constructed by the military, at one-third less cost than the lowest estimate. He was sorry, however, to find that a jealousy existed lest the soldiers' labour should be brought into competition with civil la- bour. As an instance, he might state that when Chelsea barracks were building the men connected with the works struck, and as it was very desirable that the edifice should be finished without delay, two companies of soldiers were employed for the purpose. They commenced their labours; but, it being considered that this was putting military and civil labour in competition with each other, the subject was animadverted on in that House, the soldiers were removed, and the strike continued. He thought such a state of matters was to be regretted. In the ranks of the army were to be found men skilled in every conceivable trade, even in that of silvering the backs of mirrors, and he thought it was a pity that such an amount of skilled labour should not be more taken advantage of. If the scheme of the right hon. and gallant General cost the country £500,000, he was satisfied the good it would effect would be cheaply purchased.


said, they had had a long discussion, but not a single word had been uttered about economy until the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Air. Gladstone) rose. The office of an economist in that House was undoubtedly a thankless one; and he could say from experience that nothing short of a miracle could reduce an Estimate. He had been in Parliament ten years, and during the whole of that time the only reduction that had been made in the Estimates as brought forward was a sum of £400 on one of the items connected with the palace of our Ambassador at Constantinople; and on that occasion the Government were taken by surprise and defeated, and an infinitesimal miracle was worked. In 1848 the Army Estimates were £9,723,000; in 1840, £8,881,000; in 1850, £8,900,000; while this year they amounted to £14,700,000. The number of men had been decreased, but the expenditure had increased. The cost for pay and allowances to each man in the British army was £33 15s. 3d.; but it was only £16 for each man in the French army. This related to pay only; but the Estimates showed that the total cost exceeded £100. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had said the increase in the Indian depáts could not be helped; increasing, therefore, the pressure upon the Indian taxpayer. But he (Colonel Sykes) would wish to know why 65,000 were required in India at present when 43.000 had been found sufficient to break the neck of the Mutiny and take Delhi before a single company of reinforcements had arrived from Europe. One reason adduced for the increase in the Estimates was the advance in the price of provisions. This was singular; because last year, owing to the great compulsory slaughter of cattle, the markets were glutted, and meat was lower in price than it was the year before. ["No, no!"] Gentlemen said "No, no!" but he referred them to the Leadenhall Market Reports. If this argument was worth anything, it should also hold good in the case of the navy; but this was not the case to a proportionate extent. With regard to the question of recruiting, his own opinion was that the soldier's first term of service should be twelve years; that he should be allowed to marry after that period to induce him to remain in the army; and that at the end of twenty years he should receive his pension, or get a bonus to enable him to set up in trade. The sons of such soldiers, brought up and educated in their father's regiment, would naturally follow their father's footsteps, and also become soldiers. He would suggest that every recruit on entering the army should be induced to put his bounty money into a savings bank, so that at the expiration of his period of service something might be standing to his account. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that a regiment coming from abroad 900 strong would be reduced to 600, and that the 300 men who were taken off might be induced to enter the reserve. But he seemed to forget that the regiment so reduced must in turn go abroad again, and for this purpose would require to be advanced to its original strength of 900. The one operation would therefore necessarily balance the other.


expressed his satisfaction with the statement which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had made, and his regret that it was the last occasion on which he would make such a statement. He desired to ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he saw his way to adopt the recommendation made last year by a joint Committee from the Treasury, War Office, and Horse Guards, under which the stoppage of pay to the soldiers would be made uniform, whether he was on furlough, in hospital, or on active duty at home or abroad; and also whether uniformity would be adopted in the issuing of rations? The right hon. and gallant Gentle- man omitted to refer to one item of considerable increase—namely, the Vote for half-pay and military allowance to reduced and retired officers of the army. There was a very considerable increase in the amount for the retirement of the officers of the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers. This year it was £55,900, whereas last year it was only £48,000. He wished to know whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had had under his consideration the system of retirement in the artillery and engineers; and whether he would be prepared to enter into any details as to the future system under which such retirement would be regulated? As to the Engineering train, he (Mr. Childers) was inclined to think, so far from its being an expensive corps, it was a very economical one, and that its maintenance on the present small scale was most necessary.


said, the noble Lord opposite the late Secretary for War had asked him why he had separated the Supplementary Estimate from the ordinary Estimates; now he (General Peel) thought the debate that evening afforded the best justification of the course adopted. It was done for the express purpose of placing before the House the new proposition which he had the honour of submitting, and it would be far more convenient to discuss that proposal apart from the ordinary service of the year. If the details connected with this additional 2d. had been mixed up with the ordinary Estimates, they would only have deceived the House instead of affording an opportunity for full consideration. It was quite possible that when the Supplemental Estimate came forward for discussion some better method of applying the money might be suggested in the course of debate, and an opportunity would thus be afforded of doing so. He had been asked why the soldiers were not now employed in the different trades with which they were acquainted. In reply to his hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Captain Vivian) he was happy to say that soldiers were being largely employed as clerks, and the system had been found perfectly successful. He had not appointed a single clerk who was not a soldier, and he was happy to say that they fulfilled their duties very satisfactorily. All the messengers in the lower part of the office were also soldiers. He had listened with the greatest possible attention to all the remarks offered that night, and he was only sorry that he was not in a position to act upon any of them. He believed the employment of the A and B troop of engineers in the way alluded to was both beneficial and economical. Then lest any false impression should exist, he felt bound to say, on the subject of barrack damages, that what the Government proposed was, if possible, to employ soldiers to repair their own barrack damages, not to do away with those damages altogether. He was glad to say, in answer to one question that had been raised, that new musketry instructions had been issued, which would tend greatly to reduce the drill of old practised soldiers. The suggestion made with reference to good-conduct pay was more for the consideration of the Horse Guards than the War Office; but he might say that the Commander-in-Chief had approved the Commissioners' recommendation upon the matter. In regard to the Army Reserved Fund, the Vote appeared to be dying a natural death. He agreed with his noble Friend in thinking that that was a question which deserved the attention of the Government and that House, because it affected very materially the system of purchase in the army. The more commissions they had to give away at Sandhurst the more they would be promoting the interests of the army. The price of the old cavalry commissions, which was higher than that of the infantry commissions, was now put upon the same footing, and the difference paid out of the Reserve Fund, which might render it necessary to retain it. The Commissioners' Report on Recruiting had been subjected to much adverse comment during the debate; but he thought the Commissioners deserved great praise for the way in which they had conducted their inquiries, and also for the value of their suggestions. He had listened, however, with great attention to all the remarks which had been made during the discussion, and promised to impress upon his successor the necessity for considering, and, if possible, carrying out the many suggestions which had been made.


said, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had omitted to answer the question whether the plan he proposed would have the effect of altering the law relating to the militia or the other law for the organization of the army; and, if so, whether the Bill for the plan would be laid before the House before the proposal was considered?


Certainly; any Bill to carry out the recommendations I propose in regard to the reserve force will be laid before the House previous to the subject being discussed.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow;

Committee to sit again To-morrow.