HC Deb 23 June 1868 vol 192 cc1942-73

rose to move the following Resolution— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into and report upon our Military Organization, in so far as it relates to the establishment of a sufficient and economical Army of Reserve, and the means it offers of speedy and efficient expansion to meet the requirements of war, more especially for home defence, The noble Lord said that he offered no apology for bringing the subject before the House, because he considered it to be one of very great importance; but he hoped that the imperfect manner in which it would be brought forward would not prevent it from receiving from the House and the country that attention which it merited. At present all Europe was engaged in re-organizing its military power in the most efficient and economical manner. Prussia set the example; Austria was not slow to follow in the footsteps of her successful rival, examining the cause of the Prussian successes, and placing her army on a sounder footing: France, the jealous neighbour and rival of Prussia, had likewise endeavoured to trace this cause, and nearly the whole of the winter had been, employed by the French Chamber in discussing the amendment of the military law. Whether those nations were thus engaged for defensive or for aggressive purposes he did not pretend to say. Unquestionably, if they looked at the language used in the French Chamber as to the necessity that France should maintain her legitimate influence in Europe, and should therefore have a large standing army, the impression left on one's mind was that the French people intended, as the phrase was, that no gun should be fired in Europe without the consent of the Tuileries. One could not help feeling that the re-organization of the French army might lead to aggressive tendencies on the part of that people. But England, too, had of late years been re-organizing her military forces. No one could pretend that in so doing we were actuated by any aggressive intentions. We were satisfied with our legitimate influence in Europe; we had no frontiers to rectify; and our re-organization was solely in the interests of peace and for national defence. No complaint then could be made by any other Power of our attempts at re-organization, and he believed that such a re-organization was much needed. Remembering that our Estimates were £15,000,000, and remembering on the other hand what we had to show for that expenditure, he wag inclined to think that our military machine was not as efficient as it might be or as economical as it ought to be. In this belief he asked for a Royal Commission, because he maintained that whatever might be the industry and ability of the right hon. Gentlemen or noble Lords who had held, or might in future hold, Office as Secretary of State for War, it was not possible that they, with their multifarious Parliamentary and departmental duties, could take this machine to pieces, oil it, change some of its parts, and put it properly together again. He did not believe that we required any new laws, but simply proper, judicious, courageous changes in existing laws and our existing system. These changes, however, were such that possibly no Minister might have the courage to propose, and no Parliament the courage to adopt them, unless fortified by the opinion of a Royal Commission of independent and able men, and it was on this ground that he proposed the appointment of such a body. Having premised thus much, he would now state in detail the grounds on which he made this Motion, taking the standard of foreign armies as that by which to judge our own military organization. The main ground lay in the amount of our Estimates, and the small number of men we had to show for the money. In the debate in the French Chamber it was stated that at the present day Russia was capable of bringing into the field 1,600,000 men; Austria, 1,200,000; and Italy, 900,000. Passing by these Powers, however, he would take the standard of other Powers nearer home. In France, as all knew, the system was one of conscription. At the age of twenty every male became liable to serve, but only a certain proportion of the whole population was taken. The males arriving at maturity annually in France were 230,000 out of a population of 39,000,000. The number taken in France depended upon the annual contingent fixed by the Government—a contingent which since 1818 had varied from 40,000 in time of peace to 140,000 during the Crimean war. This had given a minimum force of 400,000 men, and a maximum of somewhere about 600,000 men, with a reserve of 200,000. Probably there ought to be rather more; but out of the thirty-seven communes of France there was one which did not produce the number required, and it was not made up from the other districts. This was under the old system. The new one would give 800,000 men in the First Class and Reserve, and 400,000 National Garde Mobile, making altogether 1,200,000 men. Now, what was the cost of the French army? M. Jules Simon calculated that 400,000 soldiers in France cost 360,000,000f., equal to £14,400,000. As to Prussia, she showed more than any other nation in the world the power that was obtained by successful military organization resting upon a national basis. The Prussian system called on every man of twenty to serve, unless he were exempted for some cause, and the exemptions were not numerous. The result of this system was that though, after Jena, Prussia was bound down by the Peace of Tilsit to have no more than 42,000 men, when war broke out in 1813 she appeared in the field with an army of 132,000 men and 200 guns, while after the battle of Dresden she had 250,000 men and 400 guns. This was with a population of 5,000,000; and in 1866, with a population of 20,000,000, within three weeks of the breaking out of war, Prussia appeared in the field with 400,000 men in their first line, and 900 guns, with reserves which, taken with the first line, amounted altogether to 717,000 men. What was now the position of Prussia, or rather of Northern Germany, as a military power? Her forces were so organized that 1,360,000 men could be brought into the field; and the proportion of young men who came to maturity at twenty in Prussia was much greater than in France. In this country we had a population of about 30,000,000. The number of men voted this year by Parliament, was 203,157, and the reserves numbered 329,000, making a total of 532,157. Deducting from a total of £15,455,400, the cost of the army serving in India, and the cost of the Indian depot in England, and taking the cost of transport for the army from the Navy Estimates, and of stores for the Navy from the Army Estimates, and deducting also, from the total named £1,250,000 for pensions, so as to give a fair standard of comparison with foreign armies, he arrived at the conclusion that the 128,000 men in our regular army cost £11,310,400, while in France the estimated cost of 400,000 men was £14,000,000; and in Prussia, according to Colonel Reilly, 217,000 men cost £6,545,944. The House would readily perceive the great difference there was between the English and the foreign Estimates. It appeared that, man for man, our soldiers cost—a Regular £90, a Militiaman £11 10s., a Yeomanry soldier £6 or £7, and a Volunteer £3 10s. This calculation was based on the Estimate of £15,455,400 for the whole army; and, making the deductions and allowances he had enumerated, he arrived at £11,310,400 as the cost of our 128,000 Regulars. Coming to organization, every one knew that in France that was complete. The army was composed of great divisions, each complete in itself. The Invalides was being converted into an arsenal in the centre of Paris, with equipment for; 200,000 men; and such was the power of contraction and expansion that 100,000 men could be summoned to the ranks and sent back again in a fortnight. There were, therefore, complete efficiency, and complete power of expansion; but the power of expansion and contraction was greater in Prussia than in any other country. Within three weeks of the breaking out of the war in 1866 Prussia put on the field 400,000 men and 900 guns, ready in every respect; and these men as we knew, marched from Berlin to the gates of Vienna. That efficiency in time of war was, after all, the result of steady preparation and organization in time of peace. But the Prussians in time of peace practised war, for being at Cologne with; Lord Clyde in 1803, he found the operations of war going on. They saw about: 50,000 or 60,000 men under arms, and divided into two bodies, each body being in itself complete with the general and staff ready for a campaign. The manœuvres of the troops extended over a fortnight, and they did not know on the one day where they were to meet the next morning. On one occasion he was near a regiment when the bugle sounded to stop work for the day, and he inquired, "Where are you going to sleep?" from an officer, who pointed to the ground, and said, "There." In war material, transport, commissariat, medical department, and stores of every description, each division was complete, and each had the same officers and staff in time of peace that it would command in time of war. He remembered reading accounts of the compain in 1866, in which occurred the names of the officers he had seen at Cologne in 1863. Colonel Reilly, from whose book he had drawn much information, described Prussian organization in these terms— The Prussian army rests upon system where the whole nation is accustomed to anus, and moderately disciplined, and where, in time of peace, all means are taken to instruct the staff, and keep up the departments forming the machinery of the army complete in all details; and opportunities are given to all of gaining such knowledge of their professional duties that when war comes the army and its departments can be expanded with confidence in their efficiency. Was our state of preparation, as regards military organization, at all comparable with that of Prussia or France; Was our organization such that when war came, "the army and its departments can be expanded with confidence in their efficiency?" Unquestionably, in England there had been very great improvement in the state of our military organization. Before the Crimean War we had a small available army, but we had no Militia and no Volunteers, and but twelve guns equipped. It was really astonishing that the nation should have been allowed to fall asleep as it were, and to remain in the defenceless condition it was. Now, we were armed, but were we sufficiently organized? He did not pretend to say that much had not been done, and that we were not in an improved position; but would anyone say that our military organization was satisfactory, that our departmental find staff arrangements were all that could be desired; and that our transport, commissariat, medical stores, and camp equipage were sufficient for the army, including the Reserves? Much had been said lately as to the organization of our Volunteers, which was described by a high military authority as a sham; but he contended that it was not more a sham than the organization of our Militia or Yeomanry, because the organization of the array was supposed to be sufficient, as regarded staff and departmental arrangements, for the Militia and the Yeomanry as well as the Volunteers. To give the House an idea how utterly inadequate the staff alone was, although it was larger in proportion than that of any other army for the purpose it pretended to serve, he might mention that the staff requisite for the Volunteers alone would number 700. This was the calculation made by Colonel Erekine before he left the War Office; and would any man pretend to say that the staff of the army was sufficient for all that was required if we were suddenly called upon to put ourselves in a state of defence? Would any one say that the commissariat, transport, camp equipage, and other departments, which were quite as essential as men to the army, were capable of immediate and ready expansion within three weeks or a month? Whenever war came it would come suddenly, and the advantage would be with nations that were so prepared. Would anyone say that within a month our staff and departmental arrangements could be put in all respects upon such a footing as it would be necessary to guarantee in case of war? It was on these grounds he asked for— A Royal Commission to inquire into and report upon our Military Organization, in so far as it relates to the establishment of a sufficient and economical Army of Reserve, and the means it offers of a speedy and efficient expansion to meet the requirements of war, more especially for home defence. He wanted to know whether it was the opinion of his right hon. Friend that our present system offered the means of such an expansion. He (Lord Elcho) did not believe any answer on this subject could be satisfactory which was not preceded by a searching inquiry. But to return to the question of the men. He confessed himself he did not trust our system of recruiting which was at present in force; still less did he trust to our Reserve system. He asked whether this latter system worked as well as the House would wish—as they would all wish? He was inclined to think that a good deal more was required. Now, he distrusted our system of recruiting, because he did not think it would bear the strain of the requirements which war would bring. What had occurred when the Crimean War broke out? We were then 27,000,000 or 28,000,000 of people. Our present system of recruiting was in force; and yet the Secretary of State for War was obliged to come down to the House of Commons with what he called a "Foreign Enlistment Bill." We, with our 28,000,000 of people were so remarkably organized, or rather disorganized, that we had to go to the people of other countries and ask them to fight cur battles. Parliament felt then as it felt now that such a thing was not creditable to this country. What was the result of that Bill? Two foreign legions were proposed. One, the Italian, failed; the other, the German, made very excellent soldiers. We were at that time obliged to ask the Militia regiments for extraordinary service. A Militia regiment—that commanded by the right hon. and gallant Gentlemen the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Wilson-Patten)—did duty in Malta and Gibraltar.; More than that, we had to avail ourselves of the services of a regiment from one of the colonies; and Lord Hardinge, though most unwillingly, allowed Colonel Somerset who had sold out to come in again because he brought with him three regiments. But let the House look at what was the state of our army at the close of the Crimean War, notwithstanding all those adventitious aids. On the 1st of April, 1856, the numbers stood thus—voted, 219,308; serving, 180,464; deficiency, 38,844. He would now call attention to our systems of organization. When we were at war abroad he believed that England had never brought more than 45,000 men in line; and we had from the Commission on Recruiting the belief expressed that the utmost possible force of regular troops we could have in line at home was 40,000. Compare that with the state of things in the time of Elizabeth. At that period, with a population of 3,000,000, no fewer than 177,000 men could have been put in the field, all thoroughly organized, and with so complete a transport that they carried even the necessary horseshoes and nails. Our system of recruiting which had failed in war had failed in peace also; because the Royal Commission appointed on this subject a year or two ago made sundry re-comendations, which resulted in the scheme of his right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), by which an increase of 2d. a day was given to both the army and the Militia. Concurrently with that increase there had been an increase in the recruiting for the army and the Militia. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: Hear!] His right hon. Friend cheered him; but he did not think he could be prepared to assert that the whole of that good result was due to the Government. Unquestionably the increase of pay had had its effect; but concurrently with the increase in recruiting there had been a period of distress and stagnation of trade. The class from which recruits came was affected by that state of circumstances, and, therefore, one could not say how much of the increase in the recruiting was due to the increase of 2d. in the pay, and how much to the stagnation in trade. His right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon before he left Office proposed what he called a scheme of Army Reserve, and that proposal was being carried out by his successor in Office, the present Secretary of State for War. He observed that the right hon. and gallant General (General Peel) shook his head; and no doubt he would be able to show in what respects his scheme was not being carried out. The impression entertained by himself and others was, however, that the present Secretary for War was endeavouring to give effect to the plan of his right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon. He was not going to enter into details on this subject; but he believed he was correct in stating that the intention of his right hon. and gallant Friend was to have in reserve 50,000 men, who, in case of emergency, should be at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief. His right hon. and gallant Friend did not, perhaps, think that a sufficient Army of Reserve; but when he entered Office he found none at all, because the system of Reserve attempted by Lord Herbert had proved a signal failure. The Army of Reserve under that system had become a standing joke. But how, at the present moment, stood our Army of Reserve, which was to have amounted to 50,000? It consisted of two branches—of men who had retired from the army without having completed their full term of service and of men who had served in the Militia. At the present moment we had of the former 2,900 and of the latter 2,006, giving a total of 4,906 for our whole Army of Reserve. He thought it very questionable whether this system of a Militia Army of Reserve would work as well as they all wished it might work. The Militia Army of Reserve depended entirely on the feeling with regard to it existing in the Militia, He had been told on the previous day by a Militia officer the impression abroad was that in bringing this Motion before the House he wished to set aside the Militia and to bring the Volunteers more prominently forward. He presumed, therefore, that such an impression existed somewhere, but he must say for himself that he regarded the Militia as the backbone of our military system. He thought that every effort ought to be made to strengthen the Militia and bind it up with the army and the Volunteers. But, unquestionably there did exist on the part of the Militia a feeling that of late years the public laid less I stress on the value of their assistance, and that they received less consideration than they deserved. As one of the public he must say he did not believe that to be the case. The difference of feeling arose from this, that the Militia were drilled at Aldershot or in the country away from London and other large towns, and did not therefore appear so prominently before the public, and that consequently they could not draw a comparison of the nature of their services as they could if they were brought: together in large bodies like the Volunteers, who were collected in large towns, and who came prominently before the public. So far, therefore, as the Militia were concerned they were under a false impression with reference to the opinion of the public. He spoke not as a Volunteer, but as one of. The public, when he said that the Militia were the backbone of our military system. ["Hear!"] The cheers of hon. Members indicated that such was the feeling of the House of Commons. The Militia officer to whom he had just alluded, and who had been introduced to him as a gentleman who had given great attention to the question, assured him as the result of communications with his brother officers that the Militia Reserve system was not looked upon favourably by Militia officers. It appeared that out of three regiments of Militia which had just completed their drill—the 1st Surrey, the Oxfordshire, and the Hampshire—only eight men offered themselves for the Army of Reserve. These belonged to the 1st Surrey, and only three of them were attested. The Oxfordshire regiment did not produce a single recruit, neither did the Hampshire; and the reason assigned for this remarkable circumstance was that the men did not like to serve without their officers; the men asked were their officers going too, and when they found such was not the case, they determined to stop where they were. In the course of conversation the other day respecting the present Motion, Lord Norreys, who commanded a Berkshire battalion, expressed an opinion that this Act would not work, and, having been requested to do so, put his views upon paper in the following shape:— I do not think the Militia has prestige enough to attract desirable men as officers. I also think that the Army Reserve Act will increase the difficulty of getting subalterns; as it is most unpopular among the officers, who feel slighted at being required to command men liable for active service themselves, and not being allowed to accompany them. I consider that it has increased the feeling among them that they are but drill sergeants for the army. To improve the efficiency of the force I think it will be necessary to give it prestige; and, believing as I do that but few men will be induced to join the Army Reserve individually—though if asked by regiments to volunteer on the same terms to serve with their officers they would do so—I would suggest that instead of asking a percentage of men of each regiment to volunteer on these terms, the same percentage of regiments selected from those most efficient should be asked to volunteer on the same terms, to serve under their officers with the regular army in case of war; that these regiments should be very strictly inspected every year; that all members of the permanent staff not thoroughly efficient be draughted; that all officers be required to satisfy the inspecting officer of their thorough knowledge of their duties; and that their annual period of training be extended to fifty-six days, it being clearly understood that no Militia officer serving in the field has any claim to any army appointment when his regiment returns to a disembodied state. An esprit de corps would in my opinion be thus established that would attract desirable men as officers to the Militia, and give the force a prestige it has not got. I fear that if many men were to join the Army Reserve on the terms now offered many of the best officers and those taking the greatest pains with and interest in their companies will leave the Militia, and I am sure that it will be impossible, by increasing the pay of Militia officers, to replace the gentlemen of the respective counties, who are invariably the best officers, and who work very hard not for the pay, but for the interest of their regiments. Little is known to those who have not experienced it of the drudgery that company officers of Militia regiments go through, and of the personal attention they give to every detail affecting their men, and there is no denying that they have not sufficient encouragement. A gentleman, with means of knowledge, to whom he read this letter yesterday said that, as far as he knew, it expressed the opinions of the Militia officers. The system here proposed, if adopted, would not only make the Militia feeders, but actually second battalions of the regular army. He asked this same gentleman whether there was any other plan which suggested itself to his mind for giving prestige and efficiency to the Militia; and he replied that what was wanted was some sufficient inducement to the officers to work hard and I learn their duty. There was no reason, for instance, why honorary army rank should not be given to all Militia officers who would undertake to attach themselves to a regiment of the Line for three months, and obtain a certificate of competency, which rank they should be allowed to retain on retiring after ten years' service. This honorary rank, while it would not derogate in any way from the status of the Regulars, would materially enhance the position of Militia officers in their own estimation. Upon the whole, therefore, looking at the question as it affected the army, at the present number of departures and re-enlistments, and at the poor state of the existing Reserve there was abundant ground, he contended, for the issue of a Commission. But, again, there was another branch of the service—the Volunteers. Upon the Volunteer Vote it had been his duty to call the attention of the Secretary of State for War to the fact that committees of officers representing the force from all parts of the kingdom had come to the conclusion that the Parliamentary Capitation Grant was insufficient to keep up the force at its present strength. His right hon. Friend, in reply, said he had consulted other officers, who seemed to be of a different opinion, and the hon. Member for Devonshire expressed his opinion that he thought it sufficient. But surely where so strong an opinion was entertained and expressed upon one side and on the other, it would not be prudent to risk the falling away of so valuable a force merely for want of inquiring which opinion was right and which was wrong. The precedent of an inquiry was set in 1863, and there had been something like a pledge that the matter should be further investigated. Last year he had put before the House his view that the only sure foundation for the Militia was to rest it upon the ancient usage of the country—namely, liability to service for home defence, and, if such a Commission as he recommended were appointed, that question, he hoped, would not fail to receive attention. But he did not ask the House to go into that matter now. He had, in fact, to offer his apologies for the length to which his remarks had extended. But, believing that our military organization was not in a satisfactory state, either as regarded its present condition or its power of expansion in case of need, he felt com- pelled to bring the subject before the House. He asked for inquiry, because inquiry ought to precede and would be necessary to justify the action, which eventually might have to be taken upon this head. In the opinion of many who had studied the subject such inquiry was wanted, and, if granted, would meet with the sanction and approval of the country. There was a very strong and a growing-feeling that, for the enormous expenditure of £15,000,000 annually, we had not our money's worth. Could it be alleged that inquiries such as he proposed were uncommon in this country? Why, in the debate in the French Chambers, M. Thiers, speaking upon the Army Bill, said— Why do you bring in the Bill at once? Why do you not, preparatory to legislating on this question, institute one of those grand inquiries which they issue in England under similar circumstances? He hoped the Secretary of State would recommend Her Majesty to issue one of these "grand inquiries;" and, in any event, that the right hon. Gentleman would not pledge the Government against a further consideration of the matter, but would keep in his own hands, at least while he retained Office, the power of issuing such a Commission. The time for inquiry was singularly favourable. The Government could not take action practically in the matter, for they could not elaborate any scheme with the certainty of being able to lay it themselves before the next Parliament; and if a change of Government followed the dissolution time must be lost before the new Minister for War could settle into his place. His object therefore in the present Motion was that the interval preceding the assembling for business purposes of the new Parliament should be occupied in an inquiry conducted by able and independent men, so that time which would otherwise be lost might be turned to account, and valuable information collected and planed at the disposal of whoever might be the Secretary for War. Time pressed; while England considered what was to be done other countries were at work. He therefore hoped his right hon. Friend would recommend Her Majesty to appoint the Commission he asked for, on the principle that the machine of war was made effective only by careful preparation in time of peace. It was not by resting satisfied with a system of recruiting which the Commission described as "a hand to mouth policy" that Prussia paved the way to Sadona, or that France was preparing for second Jena.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into and report upon our Military Organisation, in so far as it relates to the establishment of a sufficient and economical Army of Reserve, and the means it offers of speedy and efficient expansion to meet the requirements of war, more especially for home defence."—(Lord Elcho.)


said, no more important question could be introduced to the House than that brought forward in the very able speech of his noble Friend. He quite I agreed that no time could be more appropriate than the present for the consideration of the matter; because we were not suffering from one of those hot or cold fits which generally regulated our military operations—now through panic, driving the country into extravagances, and then, from a false feeling of security, leading to the neglect of the commonest measures of defence. Now was the time to consider the whole question dispassionately, because the present policy of the Foreign Office—which he hoped would be the policy of the future—to a great extent secured us immunity from foreign quarrels. But when Continental Powers were arming themselves to the teeth the security arising from non-intervention was not to be trusted in alone. The question of an Army Reserve was referred to the Royal Commission of two years ago, which sat under circumstances much resembling those of to-day, for no immediate cause for action had then arisen. The Commissioners, reporting on that subject, said— We find that it opens up a very large question, the decision of which rests rather with statesmen and Cabinets than with a Commission such as that of which we are members. That was his opinion also. He strongly deprecated the growing tendency to transfer responsibility from Ministers to Royal Commissions. The Report went on— The military history of this country, even up to the date of the last great war in which we were engaged, shows that it has been our practice during periods of peace to reduce all our military establishments to the lowest possible point which the relief of our troops serving in the colonies would admit. Our arsenals were dismantled, and nothing but the most ordinary work performed in them. In fact, it may be said that we were content to exist from hand to mouth with no forecast of the future. No preparations for a state of war were thought of, and the consequence has been that when war occurred everything had to be done in a hurry at the most lavish expense. Men were enrolled and sent half-trained into the field, matériel manufactured, transport provided, and accommodation for the sick and wounded devised and organized. Hitherto we have had time, owing to the procrastinated character of war, to extricate ourselves from the consequences of our remissness, and by much expenditure and incredible exertion we have escaped its lamentable effects. Recent events however have taught us that we must not rely in future on having time for preparation. Wars will be sudden in their commencement and short in their duration, and woe to that country which is unprepared to defend itself against any contingency that may arise or combination that may be formed against it. Remarking that at present the army was barely sufficient for the protection of "our Indian territories and our extended colonial possessions," the Commissioners proceeded to say— Under these circumstances we must look more to our army. We think its present strength is barely sufficient for a period of peace, and the question is how we can most readily and speedily increase it through the means of a Reserve force, consisting of men who have already received their training in its ranks, but may have fallen back into the ordinary duties and callings of civil life? He was Secretary of State for War at the time that Report was presented. But previously his attention and that of his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief had been called to the necessity of a Reserve, to raise the army from a state of peace to a state of war. They not only agreed to place their own views on paper, in order to be enabled to compare them, but they asked distinguished officers to send in their views of the Army of Reserve; and they found that the belief was general of the necessity of having a Reserve which would enable them to raise the army in time of peace to what was required of it in time of war. He could not place the case of our necessities better before the House than by reading an extract from a very admirable letter addressed to him by his Royal Highness on the subject, as follows:— During peace it should be our object to keep up our cadres of regiments, battalions, and batteries, though the actual rank and file may be of diminished strength, provided we have the certainty that our organization is such that it is capable of easy and certain expansion. At present we have no such certainty; and, indeed, we may fairly say that our expansion means are nil. How, then, is this force to be created? I am anxious that we should have the means of bringing up every regiment, battalion, and battery to a war footing, by the formation of some Reserve force of 40,000 men. This would, as far as my estimate goes, give 1,000 men per battalion of infantry, 600 or 700 men for each regiment of cavalry, and an average of 270 men for each battery of artillery exclusive of those in India, leaving a further margin for the other accessories for an army to take the field. What we must endeavour to ascertain is how this force could be obtained at once and with the least amount of cost to the State. After suggesting several methods by which a Reserve force could be augmented by men discharged, or on furlough from the regular army, his Royal Highness went on to say— These methods would not, however, at once give anything like the number of men required by my calculation, and I therefore think that, in the first instance, at least, a strong appeal ought to be made to the Militia, calling upon every regiment to give a quota of men according to their proportionate strength, who, while continuing to serve in the Militia during peace, are ready to join the army at once in war, not alone for the purpose of home defence, but also with a view to make up the strength of regiments, battalions, and batteries serving abroad. Without that Reserve he thought our military organization the worst in the world. He would never have consented to reduce establishments to the lowest figure without an Army Reserve enabling us at once to raise them to a war footing. Confining himself to the regiments of the Line, he found we had 141 battalions with establishments varying from 950 to 600, and our present effective strength amounted to about 109,990 men; 31,000 men would therefore be required to make up the strength of each battalion to 1,000. Of the 141 battalions 48 were at present in England, and of these the establishments of no less than 34 were reduced to 600, and consequently able to produce in the field only about 400 perfectly efficient men each. He had said our military organization was defective, and for this reason—In the Militia officers were scarce; in the Line they were superabundant. In the Militia establishments were, as a rule, much larger than those of the Line, and, of course, the great thing would be to have the power to transfer men from the Militia to the Line as necessity required it. In May last, seven regiments of Militia were quartered at Aldershot, and he found from a memorandum, kindly furnished him by Sir James Scarlett, that the field state when the seven regiments of Militia were on two days brigaded with seven regiments of the Line was in effect this—The seven regiments of Militia, on the 18th of May, had in the field 108 officers and 4,022 men; on the 20th of May, they had 110 officers and 4,165 men; on the 18th, the seven regiments of the Line had 159 officers and 2,771 men; and on the 20th, 154 officers and 2,690 men. The average number of men to each Militia regiment would be 600, and they would have 16 officers, including the staff, while the regiments of the Line would, on the average, each consist of 400 men and 24 officers. What, therefore, they should endeavour to do was to obtain a transfer of men from the Militia to the Line. In the Line there was one officer to 17 men; whereas in the Militia, where neither officers nor men were in the state of efficiency of the men of the Line, there was one officer only to 37 men. Now, the plan which he proposed was, he must say, different in many respects from that which was now to be carried out. What he proposed was, that the first Army of Reserve should be attached to the Militia, whereas the; second Army of Reserve should be attached; to the Pensioners. He did not know whether his plan was the better of the two, but it certainly was simpler. He had implored the officers of the Militia to encourage the formation of this Army of Reserve. In taking men from the Militia to form; this Army of Reserve he had contemplated filling their places, but men had been enlisted before the transfer to the Army of Reserve had been effected. He did not wish by his plan to interfere with the men as long as they were with the Militia. What he wanted was to know they were there, and to be able to lay his hand on them whenever they might be required. But the new regulation was, that the men should be drilled fifty-six days in the year with regiments of the Line. The officers did not like that, and the men thought it; was an inducement for them to enlist in the army in time of peace. His object and intention had been to attach the first Reserve entirely to the Militia, and in the; body so created he believed we should have found a very valuable auxiliary force. He objected to the present plan on several grounds. Suppose a man had served in the first class Reserve during his first period of service, he had then a right to go into the second class of Reserve; but to be entitled to a pension he would he obliged to enlist during the second period for a term of twenty-two years. He could not help thinking that the Militia had been treated very unfairly in this matter. In the first place he objected to this Reserve being called a Militia Reserve. It was a Militia Army Reserve; and the men who withdrew from the Militia and entered the Reserve were entitled to the same advantages as those who entered the Reserve from the Line, inasmuch as both were subjected to the same liabilities. But this was not the ease, especially with regard to pension; and he could not help thinking that with the one class as with the other two years should be permitted to count as one. Those who entered from the Militia should, as well as those who entered from the Line, be exempted from service on juries, and the performance of duties of a similar character. He did not attribute the slightest blame to his right hon. Friend; but it certainly was unfortunate that these instructions should have been issued at a time when some of the Militia regiments had completed their training, and when the expiration of the training in other cases was close at hand. But the great question they had to consider was how to provide the Militia with officers. This could not be done unless some greater inducements than now existed were offered. He had before warned the House, and he now warned them again, not to allow the Army of Reserve to be attached to the Pensioners. If they did they would soon have applications made for an increase in the number of staff officers, and it would be better that the money required for that purpose should be expended in encouraging officers to join the Militia. If that were done it would not be difficult to induce them to join the Army of Reserve.


contended that it was fallacious to institute a comparison, as was often done, between the army of this country and those on the Continent. In France and in Prussia, for instance, every man was liable to serve; but the system in practice there could not be carried out here, because it was not popular. Recruits were now enlisted by the Pensioners, and at the head-quarters of the regiments, but a good deal of jealousy existed between the two, the Pensioners believing, and with some reason, that recruiting through them was not received with so much favour as recruiting at head-quarters. He believed that a much larger number of men would enlist from the Militia into the Army of Reserve if they knew that they were not liable to removal from the country except in time of war. During the last war they; had recruiting for the Line and for the; Militia going on at the same time; and now, while moving a large body from the Militia into the Line, they would have all the men who remained in the Militia besides. He therefore thought the plan would be largely successful. There ought to be some stronger inducement held out to officers to enter the Militia. Commissions might advantageously be given to subaltern officers in the Militia, as was done during the war. Such men would be worth a dozen of those who passed through some foolish competitive examination. There was, he believed, no difficulty as to captains and field officers. Compared with the staff at the end of the last war, the present staff of the British Army was larger and was much greater than was necessary. The Militia force in Ireland might be said not to exist. It had been the policy of the Government not to call it out for the last three years. The Irish Militia was on paper, and there was a Vote every year for the staff and the training; but at the end of every Session they were obliged to provide for the application of the sum so voted to some other purpose. They neither drilled the Irish Militia nor allowed them to recruit; but he believed many of them would be ready to accept the offer made by the gallant General (General Peel) when he was Secretary of State for War. Some means, ought, therefore, to be taken to recruit the Militia in Ireland. The noble Lord said they ought to transfer regiments from the Militia to the Line; but that was utterly impossible—it was absurd. They must proceed in another way—by offering inducements to the Militia. The noble Lord proposed a Commission; that, however, was not necessary on the score of information. Every military man knew perfectly well the state of the recruiting service, and that the Militia was not as efficient as it ought to be. The Volunteer force was a most useful one, and tended to keep up the military spirit in the country. But to put them on an equality with the Line was quite out of the question. He hoped the Volunteer movement would succeed; but to suppose that they would supply the army with recruits was chimerical.


said, he was glad to observe the attention which the House was paying to this subject. He had listened with great pleasure to the speech of his right hon. and gallant Friend (General Peel), from which they had gained so much information. The question was how they would stand if they were suddenly engaged in war. Suppose three of the great military Powers combined against England, and several attacks were made on different parts of the coast at once. Suppose some 25,000 men landed, what infinite mischief would they do in a short time. To furnish an army capable of resisting such attacks, he recommended that a few regiments should be embodied for short service. They would get a very superior class of men, who might be drilled and become perfectly good soldiers in four or five years. A large body of these would pass through the army rapidly, and they would naturally be the Army of Reserve. There was a spirit of adventure in the English people which, if properly directed, would make us one of the first military countries in the world. A great deal of good might also be effected by having the youth of the country properly drilled at school. In the short service regiments which he had suggested, men should not be allowed to remain for a longer period than was necessary to perfect them in drill and to make them good soldiers.


said, it had been suggested that there was some reluctance on the part of Militia officers to allow their men to enter the Army of Reserve; but he thought that was a mistaken supposition, because there was a general feeling among those officers that it was their first duty to do all they could to induce their men to join that force. When his own regiment a few days ago was asked to join the Army of Reserve, 149 men stepped out of the ranks at once to signify their willingness to do so, and he had no doubt that a great many more were also prepared to join. The fact that 2,000 of the Militia had joined the Army of Reserve within a week showed, as he believed, that the movement, instead of being a failure, was a great success; and he thought that by the means which had been adopted a most efficient Army of Reserve would be formed.


said, there could be no doubt that we stood in need of an efficient Army of Reserve. The recruiting, however, for the regular army had been most successful of late years, seeing that the deficiency of 5,000 in the force in 1865 had been reduced to 900 in the present year. The question of an Army of Reserve was one not of military, but of Imperial policy, and together with the question of our colonial policy, it should be con- sidered by Parliament itself rather than; by a Military Commission. It was impossible that we could go on providing 50,000 men for our colonies besides our Indian force. He was glad to hear that the last regiment was about to be withdrawn from New Zealand, and that Sir Henry Storks had expressed an opinion that the troops might be withdrawn from the Cape. The amount of men we kept in Canada was simply an object of attack for the United States. In the event of a change in our colonial military system being adopted the question of the Army of Reserve would be placed upon an entirely new footing, because the men for the regular army might then be enlisted for five years only, and might then pass into the Army of Reserve. He was thankful to the right hon. and gallant General (General Peel) for his expressions of opinion; and the House and the country would be obligedto the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) for introducing the subject.


said, he objected to the period of the annual service of the Militia being extended from one month to two months. It was difficult to find men of position and means who would sacrifice even one month to hard work and it would be impossible to induce them to sacrifice two months for that purpose.


said, that the whole of the Reserved force had been placed under the command of one general officer but unfortunately that officer found himself in this position, that the troops he had to command were also under the command of every Lord Lieutenant, of every county, in the country. It was impossible that one man should be able to command the Militia, the Yeomanry, the Volunteers, and what was more especially called the Army of Reserve, while he found himself so hampered in his command. Let them take, as an illustration, what had occurred at Windsor the other day. Some 25,000 Volunteers had to be brought to Windsor, and they were supposed to be under the control of the officer who had the command of the Reserve forces. But that officer had no more to do with them than he (Major Jervis) had. When general of fleers went down to take the command of brigades and divisions they did not know what to do, and 25,000 men had been brought together without the slightest attention being paid to the commissariat for the time being. Did they call that placing an officer in command of the re- serve forces of the kingdom? Until they gave the officer in command the full authority to which he was entitled it was idle to talk of having appointed a general officer to take charge of the Reserve. The Reserve forces might be divided into two bodies—the one whose duty it would be to fill up the gaps in the service in the time of foreign war, the other to act in case of invasion. The two things were totally distinct. For the first duty they must have men ready to go to any part of the globe; but until they paid them as much as they would earn in any other calling it was idle to talk of having such men at all. It was a mere question of wages. Then, with regard to the other portion of the reserves, there must be a proper organization of the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteers. When a regiment had a first-rate colonel they would follow him anywhere; but when the men did not like their officers they would not follow. Consequently, if a war broke out there would be a force which, when wanted, they would not have at command. Now, he wished the Secretary of State to look the matter full in the face, and to consider how he could get the Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers—which, if officered properly, would be one of the finest armies in the world—properly organized, for last Saturday had proved that at present the Volunteers were little better than an undisciplined rabble. Until they put the officer in command of the Reserve forces in the position which he ought to hold, they were only misleading the country by saying that they had a Reserve upon which they could rely.


said, he quite agreed with those Gentlemen who had recognized the great importance of the subject which his noble Friend had brought before the House, and he admitted that his noble Friend, entertaining the views which he did, was entitled to great credit for the steps he had taken, and the able statement he had laid before the House. But, though the Notice of his noble Friend referred entirely to the formation of an Army of Reserve, he had entered into statements with regard to the cost of the British Army which it was impossible to pass over without notice. It was much to be lamented that—inadvertently he was sure, on the part of his noble Friend, but constantly on the part of speakers in that House and writers in the; public Press—the cost of the British Army was stated to be upwards of £15,000,000. Now, that was not true; and it was most undesirable that exaggerated statements of that kind should become current in the country. His noble Friend had begun his speech with the broad statement that £15,000,000 was the cost of the British Army, and had concluded with the same statement. It was true that in the intervening portions of his speech his noble Friend, in deference to some disclaimers on his part, had alluded to certain deductions from that expenditure; but it was so important that no delusion should prevail on that subject that he hoped the House would allow him to state what the figures really were. No doubt, the gross amount in the first column of the Estimates was £15,400,000, but from that they must deduct, not merely £500,000 for re-payments into the Exchequer, but £1,568,000 hard cash which went to defray the expenses of the army. Then came upwards of £2,087,000 for the cost of the non-Effective force. Then there were large deductions on account of what the War Office did for the navy in various ways, the result being that from the total of £15,400,000 they must begin by deducting upwards of £4,000,000. His noble Friend very properly deducted the cost of the Army Reserves, which was another £1,500,000; so that, in point of fact, the actual cost of the effective standing army to the British taxpayer, instead of being £15,400,000, was only £9,900,000. He had endeavoured, when moving the Estimates, to do away with any misapprehension which might have existed; but after what had passed that night he had thought proper to revert to the subject. He now came to the remaining part of the speech of his noble Friend, and he wanted to know what his noble Friend's real motive was? The House must have observed that the Motion brought forward by his noble Friend that night was entirely different from the Notice which he had given some months ago. His noble Friend then gave Notice that he would move for a Royal Commission to inquire into the state of our Reserve Forces. That Notice had stood for a considerable time on the Paper; but after the Easter holidays he renewed his Motion in an altered form. His noble Friend's first Notice was the same as that which he had brought forward that night, bat with this very important and significant addition— And to consider, keeping these objects in view, whether it may be necessary or desirable to enforce the ballot for the Militia.; and if so, in what way this may be done so as to effect the desired end, and at the same time press most lightly on the country. Now, he could not help thinking that, although his noble Friend had suppressed that part of his original Notice, the real object he had in view was conscription in some shape or other. He could not resist the conviction that his noble Friend believed that our voluntary system was not sufficient for the defence of the country, and that something like a compulsory system was required. Now, he would ask his noble Friend and the House whether the present state of the defences of the country was such as to make it desirable to hold out to the public for a single moment, that the Government or the House of Commons were of opinion that the voluntary system had so far broken down that the defence of the country could not be maintained without having recourse to conscription? He believed such a course to be wholly unnecessary and uncalled for, and that the history of the country and the spirit of the people had proved it to be so. If ever there was a moment when it was eminently unnecessary, eminently uncalled for, eminently impolitic to make the public mind entertain such an idea, it was the present, when it was impossible to deny the fact, whatever the reason might be, that the voluntary system was more successful than it had ever been before. He doubted whether our regular forces and Reserves had ever been more efficient or the ranks better filled than they now were under the voluntary system. His noble Friend had dwelt long upon the Prussian system, and asked whether we were in as good a position as Prussia was. Did he think it desirable that we should adopt the Prussian system? For military purposes that system was no doubt most effective; and no army in Europe was more perfect than that of Prussia. But every citizen there was bound to devote a portion of his life to service as a soldier. The Prussian people were accustomed to that system; but what would be said of any Government or Parliament in this country which tried to introduce it? Then look at the position of Prussia, surrounded by three of the greatest military Powers in the world—France, Austria, and Russia, while she herself was a great nation, anxious to maintain her position and conscious that she could do so only by means of a powerful army. Was Prussia an example to England in this particular? In his opinion, there was nothing which rendered it desirable to assimilate our system to that of Prussia. He quite agreed with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (General Peel) that the state of Europe at this moment, and for some few years past, had been such as to make it desirable that the English Government should take all reasonable precautions to insure this country against the possible contingencies of war. On the other hand, England had no aggressive policy; her sole object was to preserve her independence. Our position with regard to Reserve forces was this—First, we had that noble Volunteer force, in the formation of which no one had taken a more distinguished part than his noble Friend. He had heard with regard to the Volunteers the remarks, not complimentary, but frank and straightforward, of his hon. and gallant Friend (Major Jervis). From all he had heard, with all his admiration for the Volunteer force, he believed that the occurrences of Saturday showed that that force had not reached perfection in its discipline. Far be it from him to disparage the Volunteers; but it was clear that if they were to be again reviewed by Her Majesty, or brought together from any circumstances; in bodies of more than 20,000, they should be so trained as to act with honour to themselves, and their conduct should be as creditable after the review as before. He understood his hon. and gallant Friend to say that they were left on Saturday without any commander. [Major JERVIS: I said without any commissariat.] As to commissariat, he believed the Volunteers; took pretty good care of their own; and as to the commander, the officer who was at the head of the Reserve forces considered himself responsible for bringing them on the ground, and there they were under the command of a general officer of great experience. At all events, before they were collected in such large bodies again, it would be desirable that some new arrangements should be made. However, it was a noble force; and when his noble Friend said in his Resolution that he wished to have an Army of Reserve, "and the means it offers of speedy and efficient expansion to meet the requirements of war, more especially for home defence," he would appeal to him, above all men, to say whether the whole history of this Volunteer, force did not prove its power of expansion; and the military character of the English people? That great force was called into existence almost by magic. At the commencement of this century we had a Volunteer army of 500,000 men; and so now, if we were threatened by invasion, the Volunteer force, which was now something under 200,000, would soon increase to 500,000. We had got the nucleus, we had got regiments, we had got officers, and the force might be expanded to almost any extent which the necessities of the country required. With regard to the ballot, we did not want new laws on that subject. True, the ballot was suspended on account of the facility with which our ranks were filled. But if necessary Her Majesty had any day the power, by Order in Council, of putting the ballot in force again. It was therefore unnecessary to hare a Royal Commission or to institute any inquiry under the idea that compulsory service bad become necessary in this country. The next item in our Reserve was that fine old constitutional force, the Militia, which, he could not help thinking, did not always command the respect and good feeling to which it was entitled. In his opinion this House could do nothing wiser and more prudent, with a view to increase its means of defence, than give every possible support and encouragement to the Militia. The paucity of officers was, indeed, a subject of regret. Setting aside the Irish Militia, there should be in England 3,053 Militia officers, and in Scotland 432. In 1867 there were present—in England, 1,625 officers, in Scotland 234; altogether 1,859; and there were absent 263. Thus there were shown to be 1,363 vacancies in the officers of the Militia force. These vacancies seriously impaired the efficiency of the force; and he was most anxious to take any course which could be suggested with a view to increase the number of officers. No doubt the majority of these vacancies were in. the lower ranks; but still the efficiency of this fine force suffered materially. The Militia in training last year numbered 64,219 compared with 70,913 this year. The quota having been reduced, it had been necessary to make up the reduced quota before attempting to make up the full quota; only 20,000 men wore wanted to make up the full quota of the English and Scotch Militia; recruiting proceeded satisfactorily, 7,000 men having been enlisted last year; and so ready were the peasants of the country to enlist that he had every hope that within a comparatively short space of time the full strength of the Militia would be arrived at. Taking the number at 70,000 for England and Scotland, or 20,000 below what it ought to be, and at 20,000 for Ireland, or 10,000 below what it ought to be, reckoning 14,000 Pensioners and 16,185 Yeomanry and Cavalry, and putting down Mr. Sidney Herbert's Army of Reserve at 3,000, our actual Reserve force amounted to 311,000, without any of those additions that would result from the plan of the right hon. and gallant Member (General Peel). It would not answer any practical purpose to enter into a controversy respecting the regulations, for if there was any difference between those of the right hon. and gallant General and those he had issued, it was rather the result of misunderstanding than of intentional divergence; and it was quite premature on the part of his noble Friend to suggest that the plan had failed, for, as far as he was able to judge, it was successful. He admitted that the regulations were promulgated later than he could have desired, the delay being occasioned by the fortunate transfer of the command of the Reserve force to General Lindsay, whose opinion he wished to have; and it was owing to this circumstance that the regulations were not issued until, in some cases, the period of training was drawing to a close. The number enrolled as yet might be small; but he was confident that in the future they might expect to enrol the proportion of one-fourth contemplated by the right hon. and gallant General. In speaking of the first class of the Army Reserve he imagined his noble Friend meant those who had the option of commuting their service on joining the Reserve. The regulations were being promulgated, and he should be glad if that portion of the plan contributed any large number to the Reserved force, but he was not sanguine it would do so. With regard to the second class, those who joined the Reserve under certain conditions after the first period of their service—he had heard of a considerable number doing so already, and he was sanguine that from that source the Reserve force would receive great accessions of strength. Under these circumstances, and after these explanations, he had to ask the House whether his noble Friend had made out a case for a Royal Commission? The ulterior object seemed to be to persuade the country of the necessity for something like conscription, but that was wholly uncalled for; for the ranks of the Militia and of the regular army were readily recruited by the voluntary system, which it was hoped would be rendered still more efficient by measures recently adopted. As there was fair and reasonable hope that the strength of the army would be maintained, and that of the Militia made up, there was no necessity for further inquiry of the nature proposed, and if the noble Lord divided the House, he should be obliged to oppose the Motion.


, as an old soldier, thought the remarks that had been made with reference to the events of Saturday last pressed rather hardly on the Volunteer force. He saw battalion after battalion move off the field in a manner that would have done credit to a disciplined force, although many of the men left home at two or three o'clock in the morning, and had been under arms four or five hours in a burning sun; and it would probably be found that the irregularities were caused by small corps that were not attached to battalions, or were not under proper command. He thought a plan might be adopted to bring together all these corps that were either in themselves small or were under officers who had had no experience: and he was sure they would do better, with more practice, under the command of General Lindsay, animated as they were by the desire to discharge their duty; but you could not make a soldier in a day. He must say it excited his own admiration on Saturday to see the manner in which battalion after battalion left the field.


said, he desired to confirm what had just fallen from the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel North). He had heard the strongest opinions expressed in reference to the disaster of Saturday last by Volunteer officers, and he had been requested to express on their behalf the most earnest desire that the matter should be seriously investigated. It might, perhaps, turn out that the report—which was only a report as yet—was true, that the disaster—for he could call it nothing else—was wholly occasioned by the fact that some of the Volunteer officers did not remain with their men, and left them to find their way to the station as they could. He had more than once seen bodies of 2,000 or 3,000 Volunteers maintain a perfect discipline under circumstances of great trial, when the officers remained at their post; and he believed that the private habits of the great majority of the men were such that, if properly commanded, they would endure great privations rather; than disgrace themselves and their uniform. He hoped the matter would be investigated and the facts ascertained. As a Volunteer, he was anxious that the truth should be stated with reference to the Volunteers; but he did not think it was necessary to call them "an undisciplined rabble," unless it was clear that they deserved such an appellation. The Volunteers were perfectly willing to be taught by military men; but there was not the slightest use in having them lectured by the men whose service had consisted in marching round barrack yards and seeing rations served out three times a day. Volunteers were merely civilians, and they knew it; but if the military authorities wished to make them efficient as Volunteers, that was not to be done by putting them through the goose step and things of that sort. Neither Volunteers nor Militiamen could be expected to do what was accomplished by men who were at drill 365 days in the year. Again, there was no use in having the Volunteers disciplined by worn-out soldiers. Young military officers, with a career before them, ought to be sent to instruct the Volunteers. As for the review of Saturday, he did not see why the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) and the men whom he commanded should have been kept in a meadow for three hours. Who had organized that review? The Volunteers had gone down to do honour to their Queen; and it was not very surprising that after nearly twenty-four hours of hunger and thirst some of them should have run after a little water. With regard to another branch of the Question before the House, he thought the heads of the army ought to consider whether it might not be well to adopt the Continental system of gentlemen cadets in the case of young gentlemen who could not go on at Chelsea.


was understood to ask whether the Militia was up to the number stated in the reduced Vote?


replied to the hon. and gallant Member for Great Marlow (Colonel 'Williams) in the affirmative.


as a member of a country corps of Volunteers, wished to express an opinion that a lesson might be learnt from the occurrence of Saturday. That occurrence was attributable to the fault of the officers. It also proved that the men attended to their officers in matters of discipline, and were prepared to do what their officers told them. This country had got a magnificent force of Volunteers, for which we were grateful; but there was still a great defect in the Volunteer organization. He believed that would not be remedied till in that House or elsewhere persons spoke out distinctly on the subject. The Volunteer force was not sufficiently officered. Any number of men were got to come forward and serve in the ranks; but there was not a sufficient number of men of education found to come forward and officer the corps. That was the difficulty under which the Volunteers laboured. He extremely regretted the disaster—he would add national disgrace—["No, no!"]—of what occurred last Saturday. It was to a certain extent a disgrace. He repeated that it was all owing to the want of officers who had the respect of their corps, and he hoped that what had happened would induce the gentlemen of England to come forward and take the command of this noble body of men.


fully concurred in what had been said as to the necessity of holding out additional inducements to the officers of the Militia and Volunteers. He had the honour to command a regiment of Militia, and it went through its period of training not less creditably than other corps; but he had not one single officer whom he could rely upon to perform, such a needful operation as paying a company. Unless something were done in the, direction indicated by the Motion of the noble Lord, the day would come when the commanding officer, the major, and the adjutant would be the only persons left to represent a regiment of Militia.


said, he would avail himself of the privilege of a reply which the courtesy of the House conferred to refer to one or two points alluded to in the debate. It was with a good deal of pain and surprise that he heard what occurred on Saturday night described by the hon. Member, who defended the Volunteers, as a "great disaster," and by another hon. Member as a national disgrace. "Now, it only showed, when a hare was once started, how apt men were to run riot after it. He absolutely and entirely denied that what occurred on Saturday night could be, or ought to be, so characterized. He would assume that what had been said about an "undisciplined rabble" applied to the whole of the force at Windsor. That consisted of 26,000 men. The total Volunteer force amounted to over 150,000. Were they going to tar them all with the same brush for the misdeeds of only a portion? But was the misconduct general? Since the debate began he asked a gallant Colonel of Volunteers, the hon. Member for Abingdon (Colonel Lindsay), "What station did you go by?" "Windsor," was his reply. "Did you see anything wrong—any signs of insubordination?" "No," said the hon. and gallant Gentleman, "every man was out of the station by eleven o'clock." It was his misfortune to travel—not by the Great Western—to leave London last and to come back last. He went to Datchet station, and the South-Western exactly took two hours and twenty minutes to convey him there from Waterloo. After the review was over, they were inspected, and left the ground about nine o'clock, arriving within a certain distance of the bridge at ten. There he found a scene of the greatest confusion, and there the regiment which he commanded was kept from ten till two o'clock, when it was at length embarked in the railway, and arrived in London at, he thought, a quarter-past four. He could only speak as to what he saw. He saw more than one regiment standing there in perfect formation, and behaving with perfect order and discipline—very far, indeed, from being an "undisciplined rabble." Injustice to his own men he ought to state that not a single man left the ranks on that occasion; they stayed there patiently from ten o'clock till two in the morning. Undoubtedly there were a certain number of men who had left their ranks—stragglers from different corps. But what was the cause of that? He did not attribute it to the men, but to the fact that a certain number of the officers were not with their regiments. That was the point. But though there was a failure here, the other station, as he had shown, was cleared at an early hour; and of those at Datchet a very large portion maintained their ranks unbroken, and kept perfect discipline. Therefore, he repudiated on the part of the Volunteer force, and he hoped the country would accept that repudiation as the truth, the idea that what occurred at Datchet pontoon bridge showed that they were an "undisciplined rabble," and not to be trusted. But what was it caused this jamb at the bridge? He had told them that he him- self took two hours and twenty minutes to come twenty miles by the South-Western. The Volunteers had nothing to do with the arrangements for conveyance either to Windsor or back. They were entirely, he believed, organized by the War Office and the railway company. [" No!"] Well, he believed, the General who commanded the Reserve was under the War Office, and it was entirely to that Department that the control belonged. The Horse Guards had nothing to do with it; they commanded while the force was in the field, but their command ceased as soon as the review was at an end. The trains came up promiscuously to take away the Volunteers, and it was not known till the train came in whether it was one to take up men for St. Helen's near Liverpool, for Dover—for there was a Dover corps there—or one of the metropolitan regiments. He was confirmed in that statement by the orders which came across the bridge. "What is wanted?" "A metropolitan corps," and a metropolitan corps was accordingly marched across. But it sometimes happened that a mistake occurred—that a St. Helen's corps got into a metropolitan train, or vice versâ, with, this additional element of confusion thrown in, that stragglers from other regiments who had left their ranks from the cause which he had stated, and other stragglers who were ferried across by boats plying for hire upon the river, also got into the trains and had to be turned out. And then the delay was very naturally caused, which led to some corps being delayed upon the bank till the advanced hour that he had already mentioned. But, he again said, do not let the House or the public run away with the idea that the whole Volunteer force was to blame, or that it behaved as an undisciplined rabble. Such misconduct as there might have been affected only a small portion of that portion of the force which was at Windsor upon Saturday last. He could point to the services of the last nine years, to meetings of 20,000 to 30,000 Volunteers, who had been conveyed to Portsmouth, to Dover, to Brighton, who had been gathered together at Edinburgh, and would be gathered again there on the 4th of next month—he could point to all those things to show that the Volunteer force was not undisciplined. He asked hon. and gallant Gentlemen connected with the regular service, if officers of the army who ought to be at their places did not remain there would they maintain in the different regiments the perfect discipline which they now saw exhibited? The feeling of the Volunteer force was very strong upon the question, and it was their earnest desire and intention to bring home to those officers who neglected their duty upon that occasion the consequences of that neglect. The noble Lord expressed his perfect satisfaction with the tone of the debate, which had convinced him still more strongly of the absolute necessity, sooner or later, of an inquiry such as his Motion advocated. The late and the present Secretary for War both objected to the proposed Commission; but, their grounds for doing so formed in reality the strongest reasons in favour of that proposal. He did not shrink from the question of personal liability to service for home defence, and had freely expressed his opinion upon it, but it formed no part of his present proposals; it was not, however, as suggested, a Prussian or French theory, but one based upon our history in all former times, and expressly referred to in the Preamble of an Act passed in the reign of George III. Great; stress had been laid upon the numerical, strength of the different services at present. He admitted that they were well up to the mark. But army organization meant something more than the mere enrolment of a number of men, however large; it meant the same number of men worked up and banded together by proper and efficient military departments, and this it had been the object of his Motion; to insure. His conviction was that a satisfactory state of things could be brought; about by instituting a searching inquiry such as he had suggested; but, as the Secretary of State for War and his predecessor had both objected to the course' he proposed, he would not press for a division.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.