HC Deb 09 July 1868 vol 193 cc922-48

rose to put a Question to the Secretary of State for War, respecting the proposed position and duties of the Controller-in-Chief, and to move a Resolution thereon. In consequence of the disasters arising out of the defective military organization during the Crimean War inquiries were made into the state of various War Departments. A vast chaos seemed to exist, Departments being without heads, and beads without control. That came out most clearly in the Committee of 1860 on Organization, and Lord Herbert recommended that they should most seriously consider the importance of introducing the French Intendance system. Lord De Grey, when at the head of the War Office, very properly brought forward the question, and recommended that the Administrative Departments of the War Office, which were under a dozen different heads, should be brought under the control of one chief. They could not over-estimate the importance of such a position. In fact, the officer in that position would bonâ fide have the control of four-fifths of the whole army expenditure; and it might well be thought that the Secretary of State would regard him as his right-hand man, his chief adviser. Such certainly was the idea of Lord Strathnairn'sCommittee—such also seemed to be the opinion of the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) himself when ho wrote his letter in December; but between that date and the 29th of June a very extraordinary change of feeling seemed to have come over the Treasury. It seemed then to have been thought that the Controller-in-Chief was by far too important a personage—that, in fact, they were creating a new and great power in the War Office—a sort of control over the Secretary of State. Having secured one of the greatest men in the country, Sir Henry Storks—who years ago was Under Secre- tary for War, and had filled the most important positions—having got him to arrange the whole scheme as perfectly as it could be done, they appeared to turn round upon him and say they did not want him any more ["Hear, hear!" and "No, no!"] The letter from the Treasury of the 29th of June stated that, having re-considered the whole matter, their Lordships were of opinion that the Controller-in-Chief should not have the rank of permanent Secretary of State, that he should have a salary of £1,500 a year, and that he should he either a military man or civilian, as circumstances should determine. Whether the Controller was a military man or not, he would say this, unless he was to be master over the Department it would be bettor not to have him at all. Their Lordships, it appeared, were also of opinion that the functions of the Controller-in-Chief should be kept entirely distinct from those of the Financial Department. If that was the case he said again, better not have such an officer. Then it was added, "all expenditure proposed by him should be referred to the Financial Department." Now, he wanted to know what were the duties of a Controller-in-Chief if they were not financial duties; and whether it was not absurd, after selecting a man like Sir Henry Storks to look after the expenditure of £13,000,000, that they should then appoint another high official to look after him? There could be no question that the action of the Secretary of State was very much cramped by the extreme difficulty of getting the heads of Departments to coalesce, because although each was anxious and willing to give the Secretary of State all the assistance in his power, they entertained considerable jealousy of each other. Lord Strathnairn's Committee was composed of some of the ablest men connected with the service, and they recommended unanimously that the Chief Controller should have the entire control of the finances under the Secretary of State. The Marquess of Hartington had stated that it was the general opinion of the War Office that the only way to economize was to bring the various Departments under one head. Earl de Grey and Ripon was equally strong on the point—namely, that there should only be one head to communicate with the Secretary of State; and Sir Charles Trevelyan was strongly in favour of one system of control. If the Controller had to submit the Estimates in the first instance to the Financial Secretary, it was obvious that he must possess some kind of control over them; whereas the only real financial authorities were the First Lord of the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Secretaries of State, and it was for them, and them only, to sanction what Estimates should be submitted to Parliament. If the Secretary of State for War was to have a financial as well as a military wet-nurse he was not in the position in which he ought to be. Having had twenty years' experience of the War Office, he asserted that it was in the most complete confusion that it had been in for years. After a long and careful inquiry, the War Office had been empowered to seek the assistance of any man they pleased to assist in its re-organization; and that ought to be done. If it were not, he warned the right hon. Baronet that a new Parliament would insist on such a searching inquiry as had never taken place before. He hoped that the right hon. Baronet would have strength of mind to carry into effect the well-considered changes which he had determined, after eight months' consideration of the subject, to adopt. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by moving his Resolution.


, in seconding the Motion, said, he agreed with the remark of the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Major Jervis) that for the last ten or twelve years the War Department had been remarkable for confusion, extravagance, and blundering. It had been with some feeling of relief that those interested in the subject looked forward to the Report of the Committee presided over by Lord Strathnairn, as they saw in it germs of future change, which would alter not only the regulation of this Department, but also those of other important branches of the administration of the army. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, by showing a determination to carry the recommendations contained in that Report into effect, had earned the gratitude and the approbation of all parties. There was a general desire on the part of the country that the army should be more economically and more efficiently administered. While, the present administration of the War Office might appear ludicrous to lookers-on it was death to the army. The spirit of self-immolation upon which the right hon. Gentleman had relied for effecting improvements in the administration of the War Department was not likely to show itself in any marked manner, because every clerk in the Department was sure to be willing to admit that changes should be effected in every Department but his own, which, in his opinion, would require to be extended, instead of being reduced. It was on the 1st January that Sir Henry Storks had been appointed Controller-in-Chief, to introduce the proposed reforms. He had been told (hat he was to alter the weak, inefficient administration of the Civil Department of the army, and to try and revise the organization of the War Office itself. Sir Henry Storks had shown the greatest aptitude for the post to which he had been appointed, and, in fact, the only objection that could be urged against his appointment was that he was a soldier, lie thoroughly believed that Sir Henry Storks, Sir Edward Lugard, and other officers of high military rank would perform their duty to the Secretary of State without betraying that duty for their own personal advancement. The theory at the War Office was that they could not serve God and Mammon—that they could not serve the War Office without a breach of allegiance to the Horse Guards. It was true that the interests of the War Office were antagonistic to those of the Horse Guards; the sooner they were reconciled the better it would be for the country. He was certain that a man like Sir Henry Storks would never accept any office under the Secretary of State and neglect that duty for his own advancement. He could not believe that the interest of military men and those of the administration of the army were antagonistic. Sir Henry Storks had been in office for six months, and it was right the House should know what had been done in these Departments, and what the obstacles were which he had to encounter. The right hon. Gentleman had placed on the table of the House a full account of the proposed changes; but, without wearying the House with details, he might describe them as a greater concentration of responsibility, and a better division of labour, as opposed to the present system of a great concentration of labour in one office and a greater division of responsibility among various Departments. The effect of those changes out-of-doors would be to place the various Supply Departments under one responsible chief, who would be answerable to the officer in command as far as discipline was concerned, but who would be answerable to the Secretary of State for War through the Controller-in-Chief of his departmental administration. At present there were four departmental officers at Malta and Gibraltar—namely, the Surveyor General, the Purveyor of Stores, the Commissary General, and Barrack Master; but it was proposed to place one officer over these four Departments. The result of such a change would necessarily lead to economy of time and money, and be a material check upon expenditure. To prove that this would be the case he need only point to the fact that at present the correspondence of these four Departments was carried on quite independently of one another. But it was objected by the Treasury that the Control Department would interfere with the present constitutional financial control. For his own part, he did not see how the Controller-in-Chief could appropriate one farthing from one purpose to another. He certainly had no objection to the details of the Estimates being submitted to the Finance Department for the purpose of having their accuracy tested; but he objected, and objected very strongly, to any manipulation. He had no objection to a Financial Secretary arranging the figures and performing similar duties; but if he were once permitted to manipulate the details—to say that too much was being spent in this direction and too much in another, it would be utterly impossible that they could secure the services of any one who could keep these large Departments in a state of efficiency, because this could not be done unless they placed sufficient confidence in the officer they selected, and gave him an uncontrolled command. Without in any way desiring to detract from the merits of Sir Robert Napier, it was to the adoption of this principle that the success of the Abyssinian Expedition was in a great measure attributable. There, perhaps, was some danger in putting two men into the same position at the War Office, and he therefore thought that the Controller-in-Chief should be the superior. If the Financial Secretary was upon the some footing it might lead to dispute and to discussion. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Department would persist in a policy to which he was strongly inclined, and that he would seize the opportunity which was now offered, and which might not speedily recur, and carry out that policy undeterred by those who sought to thwart him from motives of obstinacy or self-interest.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Controller in Chief should be an Under Secretary of State; and that the audit of the War Office accounts should be entirely independent of the War Office,"—(Colonel Jervis,)

—instead thereof.

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


remarked that confusion had not always existed in the War Department; it began in 1852 and 1854, through the proceedings of the then Secretary of State for War and his successors, who pulled the whole system to pieces, and, as children over a puzzle, had pulled the Department to pieces, and had been unable to put it in any sort of shape since. He was glad to find the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) had begun to try his hand at putting this Department in order, because, if for no other reason, his action in the matter acknowledged the necessity of speedy reform; and the nearer he approached the system of the old Ordnance Department, which the Duke of Wellington and so many other high authorities had said was the best in the world, the more perfect he would make it. It was said that the framing of the Estimates and the Department to which this responsibility was to be entrusted, was now a subject of discussion, but as to the framing of the Estimates, nothing, it seemed to him, could be more plain. Whatever system was in vogue, the Cabinet must always decide on the amount of money to be spent on the army, and the heads of Departments, whatever their office, would be obliged to keep their expenditure within that limit. But when the sum was decided, the Executive should alone frame the application and be responsible for the expenditure. In his opinion it would be easy to form a Department which should work harmoniously under one or more heads. He approved the proposal to keep the Audit Department entirely separate from others, and trusted special attention would be given to surpluses of Votes and transfers in future. This year many sums had been transferred from one Department to another, but no account of them had been rendered to Parliament. For instance, the House voted a sum for the Training of the Irish Militia; the Government of that country had determined not to call them out, and the sum voted for that purpose must have been saved, but neither the amount nor the purpose to which it was transferred had been stated. He hoped this oversight would be remedied before the end of the Session. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would proceed to frame a system which would relieve the War Office from the complaints of which they heard so frequently. The Committee over which Lord Strathnairn presided had recommended a re-organization of the War Department, and it was understood that a distinguished organizer, Major General Storks, was to be placed at its head; but it was now said some unseen influence had been exerted within the Office to alter this wise determination, and it was to place the new Controller in a position which the Major General could not accept. If he was to be the head of this Department, he should have the application of whatever sums might be allotted by the Cabinet for warlike purposes without control from any subordinate, and be accountable for that application. It was clear something must be done, if we wished to decrease the expense and incompetence of former Secretaries for War.


complimented the Mover and Seconder of the Resolution for the manner in which they had introduced the subject. He was surprised at the delay of the Government. The Secretary of State had promised that the system should be tried on the 1st of April in Ireland, and it could have been tried under most advantageous circumstances under Lord Strathnairn, who was not only Chairman of the Committee, but Commander-in-Chief in Ireland as well; but it seemed as if the authorities had had their nightcaps on ever since. At length, however, we had a scheme produced by two most able men—Sir Henry Storks and General Balfour; but the whole thing seemed to be regarded by the Treasury from a pounds, shillings, and pence point of view. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: A very important matter.] He had no doubt of that; but contended that pounds, shillings, and pence should not be allowed to interfere with the efficiency of the army and the proper administration of its Departments. The Crimean War had shown what expense was entailed by niggardliness in time of peace. He was surprised that they should expect the Controller-in-Chief to be subordinate to the Financial Secretary. Now, the Minute proposed that the new official who should advise the Secretary of State for War should be either a military man or a civilian; but, excepting Lord Dalhousie and the right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), every Secretary for War had been a civilian; and what would happen if future civilian Secretaries should have civilian advisers on military matters? In his opinion, the military adviser of the Secretary of State should under no circumstances be a civilian, Then the Controller-in-Chief was to be without the rank of Under Secretary of State and have £1,500 a year. But was Sir Henry Storks to be set aside in order that somebody else might be put over him? [Lord ELCHO: Hear, hear; and "No, no !" from the Treasury Bench.] Did the Secretary for War and the Chancellor of the Exchequer suppose Sir Henry Storks would submit to such treatment? The Government might say there was no desire to get rid of him; but, if the Minute meant anything, it meant, "We will get anyone we can to take the post, and we will treat Sir Henry Storks as an occasional waiter." [Lord ELCHO: Hear.] Sir Robert Napier, as had been said, owed much of his success to the absoluteness of his control. What he wanted he ordered, and what he ordered he got; but the Treasury set out with two Kings of Brentford, and all ho had to say was, Heaven help them from confusion ! He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept the scheme of Sir Henry Storks; that Sir Henry Storks would not be set aside in order that some other person might carry out hiss scheme.


, though under no obligation to defend the recommendations of the Treasury, was bound to say he was much obliged to the Government for the part they had taken in the matter, and consequently disagreed with every hot). Member who had as yet spoken on the subject. If the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Major Jervis) had correctly described the duties of the Controller, his Motion would follow as a necessary consequence. If they gave a man the control of an expenditure of £13,000,000, and decided that he should be really independent and nobody should have a right to call in question his action, in what respect would his powers differ from those of the Secretary of State, except that the latter would be responsible to that House, and the Controller would be responsible to nobody? Although he entirely disagreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich, both as to the duties and the position of the Controller-in-Chief, he was not sorry that the hon. and gallant Gentleman had raised the question in that manner, because his Motion raised with tolerable distinctness a question which the House would sooner or later have to consider—namely, whether there was to be a real financial control, independently of all the spending and executive departments of the army, whether those departments were attached to the Horse Guards or to the War Office itself. It seemed to him that the official Correspondence which the Government had laid on the table was not very complete, and he understood it had been admitted earlier that evening that ft Letter containing the Royal Warrant by which that Department had been already constituted had been inadvertently omitted from the Papers presented to the House.


said, he was not conscious until that evening of that omission, and he was quite willing to supply it.


said, he thought it very important to have the Letter, not only as showing the views of the Secretary for War, but also in order that any just criticisms might be passed upon the document. It had been the prevailing opinion out of doors—whether with or without sufficient foundation he did not know—that it had been the intention of the War Office to establish a new Department, with such powers and authority that the financial control of which he had spoken would be, if not altogether destroyed, at least very seriously weakened. If any such proposal as that made by the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich were adopted, the financial control would be entirely done away with. But, even short of the re-organization recommended by that hon. and gallant Member, a system might be adopted which, although not entirely doing away with that control, would yet very seriously impair it. Whatever fault might have attached to the War Office—and it had enjoyed the distinction of being about the best abused Office in the king—dom—there had always existed control of a civilian character perfectly independent of the military element. As Sir Charles Trevelyan's letter in The times of that day showed, there had existed a sort of outpost of the Treasury to control the expenditure of the army. The Board of Ordnance had officers whose duty it was to keep a watch over that expenditure. Ever since the constitution of the present War Office there had always been some control of that sort, which was at one time more powerful, and at another less so. Every Minister, he believed, who had filled the office of Secretary of State for War had held the opinion that there should be such a financial control as that. It was evident from his correspondence with the Treasury that the late Lord Herbert held that opinion; and it had also been shared by that noble Lord's official successors. In the contemplated re-organization of the army was there anything which made it less necessary than it had heretofore been to maintain a separate financial control over the Executive Departments? In his opinion the answer to that question should be given in the negative. He thought too much fuss—if he might be allowed the phrase—had been made about that contemplated re-organization. It had been written and. talked of as a very large affair indeed. It was, no doubt, an important matter, and, if properly carried out, would be very useful. But he did not think the projected changes were of the magnitude that had been supposed. On what was the necessity for them founded? On inquiry it was found that the supply of food to the army, the supply of hospital stores, of warlike stores, and of stores for barrack accommodation—it was found that the supply of all those articles for the army was the duty of different departments within the War Office itself, and the duly of different departments at every station and with every army. It appealed also that the local head of each of those different departments had to correspond directly with the head of his own department at home, and that although there might be great similarity in the duties of each of those departments; a great deal might be done and a saving effected for the public by a proper correspondence among themselves, and by a knowledge on the part of one department of what was going on in another, they all corresponded separately with their own chiefs at home, and there was a greater subdivision of duties than was at all necessary for the public service. It appeared, moreover, that there was no Department charged with the duty of providing transport for each of those different services. Well, the obvious remedy that occurred to the late Lord Herbert seven or eight years ago was that all those departments should be merged into one and combined under one head. That idea was approved by the Treasury, and circumstances only prevented it being carried out before. It was revived by Lord de Grey, and was subsequently matured by the Committee which was presided over by Lord Strathnairn. But although the Supply Department was n great and powerful Department there was no necessity for making it all-powerful or practically supreme in the War Office, which had many other duties to perform. The War Office had also to provide arms for the army, either by contract or through the Government manufacturing establishments. It was necessary there should be distinct Departments for that and for other duties, and although the Supply Department might possibly be the largest und most important, he did not see why it should necessarily be raised to a rank altogether superior to the other departments which likewise performed duties under the War Office, lie had admitted that the Controller-in-Chief should be a person of great power and authority at the War Office; but he saw no good reason why he should be more than the head of any of those other departments which he had mentioned, or why he should be exempted from all criticism. No one proposed that the Director of Works should be authorized to frame what Estimates he pleased, without having his acts called into question by any other authority. Nobody proposed that the Director of Ordnance should he authorized to spend in the manufacturing departments whatever sums ho might think fit for the purpose of adding to the buildings or plant of those establishments without being subject to the control of the Secretary of State. And if such propositions were not made with regard to other departments he could not conceive on what ground another department of an analogous character was to be left entirely without financial control. In the letter to which he had already referred, and which appeared in The Times of that morning, Sir Charles Trevelyan stated that it appeared to be deliberately intended to create a new dualism at the War Office. With the greatest respect, however, for the source from which that statement emanated, he must be allowed to express a doubt as to its correctness. Nothing of the sort was, so far as he could see, intended; and, in his opinion, it was the Secretary of State alone who would be the responsible Minis- ter, not only for efficiency, but also for economy. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: Hear, hear !] But how was it proposed that the Secretary of State alone should be thus responsible to the House of Commons if the means were taken away from him of knowing how economy was to be obtained? The Chief Controller would advise him in reference to everything connected with the supply of stores, &c, for the army, the Director of Ordnance with respect to anything connected with the manufacturing Department and the supply of new arms, and the Director of Works as to works; but how was he to be advised as to the expediency of making reductions unless the financial head of the Department were placed in a position to know what was going on, to make his recommendations, and, if necessary, to secure that they should be acted upon? All that was proposed was that the head of the Financial Department should be made aware constantly of what was going on; that the Estimates should pass through his hands in order that he might know in what particulars it might be desirable to increase or diminish them; and that if he thought he could point out any respects in which retrenchment might easily be effected, his opinion should go before the Secretary of State with adequate power and authority. The Secretary of State would in that way have, on the one hand, the views of the person representing the question of efficiency, while, on the other hand, the economical view would be presented to him by his financial adviser. It was all very well to say that the two things must go together; but everybody was aware that the question often arose as to whether a certain expenditure would conduce to efficiency, or whether the extra efficiency which it would secure was worth the outlay which it was proposed to incur. But then it was suggested that each department might frame its own Estimate, and be responsible to the Secretary of State not only for efficiency, but economy. Now, it was very easy to make the head of a department responsible for efficiency; but how he could be made responsible for the economy of his department if all power of interference were taken away from the Financial Department, he was at a loss to understand. The Secretary of State could not, without assistance, make himself acquainted with all the details of economy, and it was only by such aid as was afforded by inquiry made by the Accountant Gene- ral's Department that it was possible to know whether his Department was conducted economically or not. The proposed regulations would, he hoped, be submitted to further revision, and if necessary be further corrected; for, as the Treasury Letter was dated the 29th, and the revised Regulations had been sent back the next day, it was possible that they might not in all respects carry out the principles which the Treasury had laid down. He must express his gratitude to the Treasury for the line they had taken, and he hoped the Secretary of State would concur in the Regulations laid down by the Treasury. In what he had said he hoped not a single word had fallen from him which might be regarded as disrespectful in the slightest degree to the present Controller-in-Chief. He was fully sensible of the high reputation which Sir Henry Storks so deservedly enjoyed, and the re-organization of the Department could not be entrusted to abler hands; but he was at the same time of opinion that it was not desirable that any Department of the War Office should be raised to that pitch of superior power over every other for which some hon. Members contended.


said, that although many questions of importance had been brought before Parliament in the present Session, the question of the proper control of our Army Department was the most important administrative question of the day, inasmuch as it dealt with an expenditure of £13,000,000. He was, afraid, however, that the good which it was hoped would arise from the appointment of a Chief Controller was in great danger of being obviated, seeing the views which were entertained on the subject by the occupants of the Treasury and the front Opposition Benches. His noble Friend the late Secretary for War (the Marquess of Hartington), for instance, had got up, and, after nearly every previous speaker had expressed himself strongly against the existing as well as against the proposed system, as laid down in the Papers which had been placed on the table, argued in favour of a check being maintained by the Treasury over the Controller—a view in which he was apparently supported by his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Chiklers), who cheered him at the close of his speech. The House, nevertheless, would do well, he thought, to pause before it accepted the I dicta of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen I who were, or who had been in Office, and to take the matter, in a great measure, into its own hands. No doubt, to judge by the appearance of its Benches during the discussion, the subject was one in which the House of Commons seemed to take very little interest. The five Benches on the Opposition side below the Gangway, which were usually occupied by hon. Gentlemen who, when they should address their constituents, would be likely to lay the greatest stress upon the necessity of peace, retrenchment, and reform, had been left during the progress of this discussion without a single Member, though within the last half-hour the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) had re-appeared; but it was a great mistake to imagine that the question would ho regarded with equal apathy out-of-doors, or that Secretaries of State in esse or in posse would be allowed to have, in dealing with it, entirely their own wav. Knowing the unsatisfactory state of things, he brought the subject before the House a short time ago, thinking that a Commission of Inquiry should be appointed, and he expected to be told that a Commission was unnecessary, as the attention of the War Office and two able officers was already engaged on the matter. His right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington), however, did not give that answer, and perhaps he was right in not doing so.; for it did not seem that the organization of the War Department was proceeding with that success and harmony which would justify the hope of a good result, and it was a question whether there was any Controller at the War Office at all. Military organization meant a sufficient supply of men, with means for renewing the supply; a sufficient supply of material with ready means of renewal; and an organization in time of peace so economically conducted that those supplies of men and material could be efficiently brought to bear, in time of war, in any direction and at the shortest notice. Now, as regards men, the state of things was that 40,000 men could not be brought together in line in this country. But his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War stated that in time the country would have n Reserve of 50,000 men. The present Reserve was 15,000 men, and, according to the progress at which matters advanced, it might be thirty or forty years before this Reserve of 50,000 men was formed. Moreover, the officers of the Militia, from which source the Reserve was expected to be derived, were divided in opinion as to whether the men could be obtained from that force. In re- spect to material there were, no doubt, abundant supplies and stores. Many people thought that the supplies were over abundant, and that great waste prevailed. Only recently an hon. and gallant Member (Major Anson) brought the whole question of stores before the House, and the result was that the Secretary for War accepted a practical revolution in the mode of conducting the War Department with respect to stores, and an impression had gone forth that a most salutary change was likely to be introduced in the mode of keeping the War Office accounts with regard to stores. On a former occasion he endeavoured to show that there existed no organization for economically and efficiently working up the men and material; and no answer was given to his statement. They had not had a foreign army landing on the shores of this country; but there had been something like an insurrection in Ireland, and in. March, 1867, Lord Strathnairn wrote to the effect that the action of the military Departments under his command during the Fenian insurrection made him sensible of the want of a superior military officer to act as Controller, in order to insure the efficient execution of his orders. When it was understood that the Secretary for Wav had determined to act on the Report of Lord Strathnairn's Committee, and to appoint a Controller General, with another distinguished officer as an assistant, it was supposed that order was likely to come out of chaos, and that, instead of the military Departments of this country being the most extravagant and inefficient of any in the world, they would, by the supervision of Sir Henry Storks, assisted by that able officer, General Balfour, be brought under proper control. All these hopes, however, were fated to be dashed. Instead of a Controller, they had something like the two Kings of Brentford, and those two officers j were wholly powerless to carry out the system which they thought absolutely necessary. He could not understand how the Secretary of State, who was responsible for the efficiency of the army, could consent to submit to such a control in the matter of finances as the Treasury proposed to establish. The Treasury ought only to have the power of simply auditing j accounts, and seeing that they were properly kept and checked. The Secretary of State for War, who was responsible for the efficiency of the army, should be subject only to the control of the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exche- quer, who should hare the power of saying he could not give so much money in a particular year. The Secretary of State for War would, therefore, still be responsible even if this control-in-chief were carried out. When they all hoped that everything was going on smoothly, the Controller-in-Chief was checkmated by the Treasury. The arrangement, as laid down in the last Treasury Minute, had been accepted by the right hon. Baronet; but had it been accepted by Sir Henry Storks? Sir Henry Storks and General Balfour were the very best men that could be selected to bring order out of a chaotic Department; but did they approve that arrangement? He said deliberately they did not. He believed the resignation of Sir Henry Storks was written out, and only held back at the request of the Secretary of State for War; and General Balfour, when he (Lord Elcho) saw him lately, said to him, "I do not think we can stay here, because it is impossible we can assent to the system proposed to be established." His answer to the General was that ho hoped he would resign, as it was only by such a step that they would have any hope of the plan recommended by Lord Strathnairn being adopted. But if they did resign, whatever Secretaries of State in esse or posse might say, the country, the Press, and the House of Commons would insist on a better administration. If Sir Henry Storks and General Balfour had had their will on the 1st of April last a perfect system of control would have been in active operation—nolin this country but in Ireland. To begin with he would give the House an opportunity of testing their opinions on this project in the most practical way. On the next Supply day he should move— That it is the opinion of this House that the system of control and army supply proposed to be introduced into Ireland on the 1st of April last, at set forth in the letter of the 6th of March, 1868, addressed to the Treasury, be forthwith put into operation. That would afford a clear test whether the House would stand by the Controller General as regarded the new system which it was proposed to establish, and he hoped the House would back him in bringing the Motion forward.


agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) in regretting that the attendance in the House should be sc thin on an occasion when a question of such great importance to the interest of the country was being discussed. He attributed the non-attendance of hon. Members at that period of the evening to the fact that most of them were under the impression that the subject would not come on for discussion until Vote 18 was proposed in Committee of Supply, and he himself was rather surprised that the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Major Jervis) should have brought the matter on unexpectedly. He further expressed his regret that hon. Members should come down to that House and make speeches on subjects of this importance, and then run away without stopping to hear the answer which the Minister had to make to their remarks. He begged the House to consider the position in which he stood at that moment. With the exception of his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire, not a single Member who had addressed the House on this subject that evening was present to hear what he had to say in answer to the statements that had been made. The hon. and gallant Member for Harwich commenced the discussion by finding fault with Her Majesty's Government for the course they had taken upon this subject, and he now looked round I in vain for that hon. Member. He had listened to the various speeches that had been delivered with an interest proportionate to the question before them, and he had observed with pleasure that the great characteristic of the debate had been an entire absence of party feeling. It was not a party subject, but one affecting their finances and defences, and which every one ought to regard with anxiety as being connected with the best interests of the country. Another characteristic of the debate was the extraordinary amount of misrepresentation that had distinguished the majority of the speeches, and none more remarkably so than the speech of his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire; and he (Sir John Pakington) hoped before he concluded his observations that he should be able to show him that his alarms had really no foundation. Another speech singularly remarkable for its misapprehension was the speech of the hon. and gallant Officer the Member for Harwich who opened the debate. As the subject had been discussed without party feeling, he wished it to be considered without prejudice or misunderstanding; and therefore the best course he could adopt was to take seriatim the remarks that had been made by the various speakers, and to offer such observations in reply as they seemed to him to require. In the first place the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich had stated that he (Sir John Pakington) had asked Sir Henry Storks to accept the office of Controller-in-Chief as a financial and not as a military man. Sir Henry Storks was asked to undertake this important office partly because he had discharged with honour to himself his military duties wherever he had been engaged, but also, and to a great extent, no doubt, because of the very great change which it was hoped he would introduce into the expenditure of the country. For his own part he believed that he had been most fortunate in the selection of Sir Henry Storks, and he hoped and fully anticipitated that he would have the good fortune to see him for a long time to come in the office he now held. The next extraordinary misapprehension and mis-statement of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Harwich who, he regretted had not returned to his seat, was that having selected Sir Henry Storks on account of his high character and distinguished abilities, and a confidence that he more than almost any other man was the man to discharge those difficult duties, he had now turned round upon him and declared that the Government did not want him any more. He could not understand how any hon. Gentleman having such long experience of Parliament as his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Harwich could use such wild, unfounded, and unjustifiable language. There was not a shadow or pretence of a foundation for it, and he was only sorry that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was not now present the he might tell him so to his face. He had not the slightest complaint to make of the calm and dispassionate manner in which his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Truro (Captain Vivian) had spoken, though he leant somewhat heavily upon the War Office, which he imagined to be a mass of confusion, extravagance, and blundering. The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) stated with great truth that whatever the merits or demerits of that Department, it was undoubtedly the best abused under Her Majesty's Government. That there had been difficulties since its first establishment everybody must know, and no one better than the noble Lord who had been first Under Secretary and then Secretary of State for War. His own personal experience led him to believe that, on the whole perhaps, it was not the most parsimonious Office he had ever acted in; but great alterations and improvements had been effected, and he was simple enough to believe that it would hereafter work much more harmoniously. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Truro seemed to apprehend that they would not fulfil their promise of reform with reference to that Department; but he must tell his hon. and gallant Friend that his belief was that they would effect the reform which they had held out, and his confident belief was that if the House would only take a fair, dispassionate, and unprejudiced view of "what had been done, they would find in them at least the germ of great reforms for the better working and administration of the army. His hon. and gallant Friend then adverted to Sir Henry Storks being a military man and the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) also made some remarks in that direction, and complained of the military element being so strong as it now was at the Board. He was aware that the subject had attracted attention out of doors, and that some very unfair comments had been made upon it. But with regard to Sir Henry Storks being a military man he ventured to remind the House that one of the reasons for his appointment was that he was a military man. His selection was further made in deference to the recommendation of Lord Strathnairn's Committee, which, rightly or wrongly, laid it down that, whatever course might be taken afterwards, the first Controller-in-Chief ought to be a military man. The Committee thought, and rightly thought, that a military man would be the most competent person to start that great change. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Truro said the Controller ought to be absolute; but he ventured to think that was a doctrine wholly at variance with constitutional principle. If any one were to be absolute in a Department, it must be the responsible Secretary of State, and to him all the officers in their several stations ought be subordinate. He never could agree that the Secretary of State was not absolute. In their system of government he must work in harmony with the Cabinet, and although he ought to be supreme in his own Department, he must, of course, be subjected to those checks and limits which the Constitution imposed on the whole of their system of government. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Colonel North) spoke in terms he was sorry to hear him use, and which he hardly expected to hear from him, but against which he entirely protested from its utter extravagance, that Sir Henry Storks had been reduced to a subordinate. The noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) had approached the subject, he was glad to say,' in a singularly calm and temperate manner, and in the greater part of the speech of the noble Lord lie most thoroughly concurred. With regard to the Letter, the omission of which had been commented upon, the occurrence was purely accidental, and there was no objection whatever to its production. As regarded the dates of the Regulations these almost spoke for themselves; for; evidently they had been the subject of very careful revision long before the day upon which they bore date. The noble Lord the Member for Hadditigtonshire laid great stress upon the improved management of stores, and referred to the adoption by the Government of the greater portion of the plan proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major Anson). He might add that it was after conference with Sir Henry Storks that lie had accepted this portion of the plan; and, even if the hon. and gallant Member had not brought forward his proposals, they would have been carried out in substance by the authorities. He would ask the House to consider the nature of the objections which had been urged in the course of this debate to the proposals of the Government—chiefly by the lion, and gallant Member for Harwich, whom he was glad now to see in his place. Hon. Members seemed to think that the great objects for which the Controller-in-Chief was appointed had been abandoned; that he had been deprived of all the power which he ought to possess, and that an element of financial control had been introduced into the Administration. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire complained of the extravagance of the present system. But that was precisely one of the reasons why the Government had adopted this great change, in the hope of introducing economy. The noble Lord went on to say that the hopes which had boon entertained and the prospects which had been held out were all dashed to the ground by the Papers which had been laid upon the table, and that instead of the Controller-in-Chief performing the functions for which he was appointed the Controller was himself to be controlled. He challenged his noble Friend, who bad laid down these opinions without the slightest argument or proof in their support, to point out to him in what part of these Papers there was anything to show that Sir Henry Storks had been interfered with or subjected to undue control. Now, in answer to what had fallen from his hon. and gallant Friends the Members for Harwich and Oxfordshire, he might say that Sir Henry Storks was strongly of opinion that the Controller-in-Chief ought not to be an Under Secretary of State. Sir Henry Storks also fully admitted that constitutionally whoever held the office of Controller-in-Chief must be and ought to be subjected to financial control and check. Now, a great deal had been said about the Estimates, and the hon. and gallant Member for Truro had alluded to the impolicy of taking out of the hands of the Controller-in-Chief the preparation of the Estimates of his Department. But no such proposal had been made. The word employed in these Estimates was not to "prepare" but to "compile" the Estimates, as the following passage would show:— Their Lordships think it should be the duty of the Finance Department to compile the Estimates of all army expenditure, as hitherto. The Estimates had always been prepared by the different Departments to which they related, and it was not now intended to alter the present system in that respect. Unless, therefore, it was laid down—a principle that the noble Lord distinctly avoided—that the Controller-in-Chief was to be, as the hon. and gallant Member for Truro said, absolute in the War Office, unless he was to have higher authority than even the Secretary of State himself—["No, no!'']—it was impossible to allow him to prepare Estimates which were to be subject to no financial examination whatever, because it was clearly laid down in these Papers that the financial officer should not upon his own authority be at liberty to veto any proposal. The whole power, beyond preparing the Estimates of his own Department, would be in the hands of the Secretary of State alone, and the financial officer would have no more than the power which the financial officer ought to have of examining the financial results and the financial effects of the plans brought forward in the particular department. In following the speeches of hon. Members he had been struck with their declamatory nature—["No, no !"]—with the sort of general objections urged against these Papers, those objections being unsupported by anything like argument. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Colonel North), for instance, had compared the position of Sir Henry Storks to that of a waiter.


said, he had not stated that the position of Sir Henry Storks was like that of a waiter. What he had said was that his position resembled that in which the two kings of Brentford found themselves—that there was another on an equality with himself, and that it was utterly impossible that such distinguished officers as Sir Henry Storks could he induced to submit to such a position.


If the hon. and gallant Gentleman maintained that the Controller-in-Chief was in that position, all he could say was that that was not his opinion. His hon. and gallant Friend laboured under a great misapprehension, and he, for one, would not have been a party to those Regulations if he had thought for one moment that they would have affected the high, distinguished, and powerful position which the Controller-in-Chief, whether that Controller-in-Chief were Sir Henry Storks or any one else, did and ought to occupy to enable him to carry out the important duties intrusted to him; but he could not help feeling that the view taken by his hon. Friend behind him was one which tended unduly to exaggerate the position in which the Controller-in-Chief ought constantly to be placed. When, however, ho was asked if Sir Henry Storks had not written out his resignation, and whether that resignation had only been withdrawn at his earnest request, nil he could say was that this was the first he had heard of it, and he did not believe that Sir Henry Storks would at this moment abandon the very important duty which he had undertaken, and which now appeared likely to be soon brought to a successful completion. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) had remarked that it had been intended to introduce this system into Ireland on the 1st of April, and that that had not yet been done. That was so, but it arose from the fact that before they could attempt to introduce and bring into actual operation this great and mighty change it was necessary to consult the Treasury. There had been a good deal of correspondence on the subject, and he could not think that it was a matter for great surprise that in so great and important a change as this the Departments of the State interested should have time for con-6ideration. When, however, his noble Friend (Lord Elcho) said that on the Army Estimates again coming before the House he should move that this introduction should be made forthwith, he could only tell him that on the previous day Sir Henry Storks had said to him, "I suppose when the debates in the House of Commons are over it will be introduced immediately." It would, he could assure his noble Friend, be introduced as soon as it was constitutionally possible to do so. He would, in conclusion, ask the House calmly to consider whether they ought not rather to look at the great magnitude of the change they were now seeking to introduce, than be too apt, as some of his hon. Friends had been, to find fault with comparatively minute and petty details of the scheme. It had been no easy matter to take five different departments, hitherto under five separate heads, and place them under one person; and though such a change would, he fully believed, tend to greater efficiency and economy, it was impossible to carry out such a scheme without some of the details being exposed, with more or less justice, to the criticisms of these who felt an interest in the subject. The great object, however, was to start the scheme, and if the House would now give it their sanction, as he trusted they would, a great improvement would in his belief have been effected in our system of administration.


said, it was disheartening to one who, like himself, thought the proposed change would be conducive to good administration, to find that speeches on the subject had been delivered to an audience consisting at one time of only thirteen Members, nine of whom were soldiers, two officials, and two independent civilians. But however disheartening this might be, he would venture to offer a few words on the subject. And in doing so he was speaking under considerable disadvantage, because, in one sense, this was essentially a question of detail, and some of the most important Papers were really not placed before the House. The Royal Warrant of the 28th of April was the subject of a long Paper by the Treasury, and that important Letter was by accident omitted to be published. The other Papers did not touch some of the questions raised by the Treasury; and it was very embarrassing not to have the real facts before them, but to have to dig them out from letters which only answered the express proposal and to go back to Lord Strathnairn's Committee, and by that process to know what was the real controversy. One part of the omission had been amusingly made up by the noble Lord (Lord Elcho), who told the House of a conversation he had had with Members of the Government, in which lie informed them the best thing they could do was to resign. This was like his noble Friend's story in the Reform debates of 1866, when ho described his own proposal to resign with the right hon. Member for Calne on Lord Aberdeen's Reform Bill. His noble Friend appeared very fond of these harmless resigning conspiracies. Having, however, a sincere respect for the two gentlemen, he trusted that they would persevere, in which case they could not fail to render the country very important service. In this case he did not look forward to the disastrous consequences apprehended by the noble Lord. He had a right to take some interest in this subject, because the original appointment of Lord Strathnairn's Committee was made on the recommendation of the Treasury when he was Secretary. A proposal of the War Office of a limited kind came before the Treasury; but, instead of carrying out the inquiry in detail in a particular part of the country, the Treasury, feeling the deep importance of going to the root of the matter, saw that the application of the principle in question must go a great deal further, and bring up the whole question of there-organization of the army. Accordingly, on the 6th of January, 1866, he wrote a letter to the War Office, the result of which was the appointment of Lord Strathnairn's Committee. But the Instructions to that Committee, dated the 29th of June, 1866, distinctly referred only to the arrangements in regard to stores, military train, and transport. The great object of the Committee was to inquire to what extent a combination of the non-combatant Departments in regard to the matters referred to them could be carried out. But the proposal to swallow up, in the new Controller's Department, all the financial check now exercised by an office, subordinate to the Secretary of State for that purpose, was made by the eminent military officers on the Commission, unasked. With regard to the details of the financial control system as now suggested by the Treasury he confessed he could not understand the precise difference between the two parties. Of course he did not treat as party to the controversy his noble Friend (Lord Elcho) whose ideas of financial regulation were probably shared by no one, in or out of the House. It was impossible to argue with with anyone who imagined seriously that the Treasury was simply an Office for auditing the Public Accounts. As to the noble Lord's scheme, if they wanted to have financial confusion, extravagance, and bankruptcy, the best way of securing it was to leave everything to the Departments, and say that the Treasury should have no control over the expenditure. No one who had any knowledge of the administration of our finances would deny that it was absolutely necessary that the expenditure of the various Departments should be checked by financial officers independent of administrative officers. The House would entirely throw away its power over its public Departments if it acceded to the views of the noble Lord. As to the control over the military expenditure, and to the confusion being due to the existence of too many checks, he would remind the House that during the Peninsular War there was a greater civilian check over the War Office expenditure than there had been since, and that the Minister who exercised that check, Lord Palmerston, was a civilian, not a Secretary of State, or even a Member of the Cabinet. Whatever faults existed in our army administration at that period, the check on the expenditure was certainly satisfactory, and nobody would then have thought of laying down the doctrine of undivided control of the military expenditure which had been advanced to-night. As to the arrangements of France and India, they pointed in a direction quite opposite to the conclusions of those who resisted a proper check on military expenditure. In France the War Office was divided into several Departments, and the Department of Finance was perfectly distinct from that of Administration, and embraced almost exactly the duties which were proposed to be assigned to the Financial Under Secretary. With regard to India, he had before him the valuable evidence given before Lord Strathnairn's Committee by General Balfour, to whom, with General Jameson, the present efficient organization of the Indian army was so largely owing. At first there was a Military Finance Commission, and this resulted in a Military Financial Department; General Balfour being at the head of it. Its functions were to examine into all sources of military expenditure, and control all permanent and contingent military expenses; while at the same time it was not to interfere with the functions of the local governments, of the established military authorities, or the executive heads of the several branches of the service. The Military Finance Commission and Military Finance Department were expressly founded on the principle that they were not to have executive or administrative functions, their sole duty being to examine, check, and control the expenditure and the arrangements made by the responsible military officers. If India, therefore, was an example, and General Balfour an authority, we ought to follow the system which had there succeeded so admirably, und have a control exercised over the expenditure entirely distinct from the executive control. He did not wish to enter into the important question whether the proposal now made by the War Office and the Treasury could be deemed a final one, and whether it would set at rest all the disadvantages under which the War Office laboured. He was inclined to think that the War Office would require further and gradual improvements before it was brought into an efficient stale. He entirely agreed with Sir Charles Trevelyan that the financial duties of the War Office were too great to be entrusted to an Assistant Under Secretary; and that as now proposed the nominal Under Secretaries would soon have nothing to do. All this pointed to questions as to the Horse Guards, which lie should not now touch. As to the question of audit, he would warn hon. Members against supposing that an external audit was a very simple matter. It was quite impossible that everything could be audited by a department outside the Military Department. There must be a certain amount of detailed audit inside as well as an independent audit outside, and our policy ought to be to draw the line between the two at the proper point. He believed it was not so drawn now, for the simple appropriation audit to which the Controller and Auditor General was now confined was not sufficient, and it must be carried much further with respect to voucher and authority. Still he was sure that the entire audit of military accounts could not be carried out efficiently and cheaply by a department outside the War Office, and he trusted, therefore, that the House would pause before adopting such a Resolution. On the whole he would repeat that the relations between the War Office and the Commander-in-Chief were of a very delicate nature, and if the present organization1 of the former was too violently interfered with without dealing with the Horse Guards we might bring upon ourselves much greater difficulties than those now confronting us. Many people looked forward to the time when we might have a simple and uniform system, under which all the executive functions of the War Office and the Horse Guards would be concentrated, and, those functions being so concentrated, there would be no difficulty in organizing a simple financial check upon them. The decision come to by the War Office and Treasury was, on the whole, the best that could be come to under the circumstances, having regard to its being beyond doubt only a make-shift, in view of far more important changes.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.