§ LORD ELCHO
said, that since the Secretary of State for War bad brought forward the Army Estimates two important debates had occurred in "another place." One was the result of a Motion by Lord Monck, the other arose upon the Motion for the second reading of the Militia Bill. The facts and figures brought forward upon these occasions would materially serve him in supporting the Motion he had placed upon the Paper, to the effect that it was most desirable we should have a thoroughly efficient Army of Reserve. The Secretary for War had stated various sound principles upon which an Army of Reserve should be based—namely, shortening the period of enlistment, shortening the time of foreign and of home 1500 service, and reducing each regiment to a peace standard, but preserving the cadres of the regiment that it might be increased to its full strength on the outbreak of war. But his right hon. Friend was entirely silent as to whether he had any foundation for a new system of Army Reserve, and although he had saved £1,000,000 by a reduction of 11,000 men, and the stopping of the manufacture of warlike stores, he had not said anything to show he had the means of filling up the vacancies thus created, nor that he had an Army of Reserve. Upon this ground he proposed to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice, and justified his doing so at this stage because experience had shown him that when once the House was in Committee it was impossible to raise a satisfactory debate upon a general principle. Unless his right hon. Friend had prepared any definite plan for an Army of Reserve he recommended him to refrain from committing himself in the course of this debate, but to withhold his opinion until he had well considered the advice which would be tendered to Mm by hon. Members. His right hon. Friend had discharged his difficult task with marvellous knowledge, having been called upon to make his statement upon very short notice. There had been great changes made of late years in the administration of the War Office; and it was rumored at one time that the War Office was in a state of war. He believed, however, that the various departments had been got into harmonious working. This double task remained to be performed—the formation of an Army of Reserve and the binding into an harmonious and homogeneous whole the present disjointed Army Reserve, which they had to shape from the Militia, the Volunteers, and the Regular Army. He believed that if these various forces were welded into one homogeneous whole their actual numbers would be sufficient. They amounted, taken together, to between 400.000 and 500,000 men. He believed that to be enough, although unquestionably with 500, 000 men homogeneously welded, as they now were not, we should be greatly in arrear of those vast armies arrayed on the Continent. The sum total of the forces of the five great Powers, France. Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Italy, amounted to something like 1501 5,500,000 of armed men that might at at any moment be called into the field, and were thoroughly organized. Now, what to him. at least was rather an aggravation with, respect to the disorganization in which our military forces were was that he believed the principle of our military system, to be perfectly sound, that we required no new law, that it was simply a question of administration of principles which were found existing in our statute book, and which had existed in this country from all time. He wished now to confine his remarks to the principle rather than to go into questions of detail. If we looked into the warlike history of this country, we found three great principles. There was, first, a Regular Army, paid, voluntarily enlisted for home defence or for foreign service, as the case might require. The second principle was the principle of home defence. We there found a paid Militia raised eompulsorily—he was speaking of principle and theory—for homo defence, with the power, which had often been most beneficially exercised, of volunteering for colonial or foreign service, as the case might be. The third, was the principle of voluntary service unpaid, which was to be found in what was commonly called our Volunteer force, and which had always been held to be an exemption from the second principle—namely, compulsory service for home defence. He believed these three principles to be perfectly sound, and that, by their simple application, without recourse to a new law, we might have our whole forces in such a properly organized state that we should not be open to the remark of a Prussian officer on Sir Hope Grant's Staff at the Dover Review, who said, "You have excellent stuff, but no organization." He would begin with the home Army. At one time the greatest possible jealousy existed with regard to the Regular Army, because it was an excrescence, not a regular growth; the foundation of the English system being that every man was liable to military service, and that we were, in fact, an armed nation. That had been shown in an excellent compendium drawn up by Mr. Clode, solicitor to the War Office, who, speaking of our constitutional defence, said—Independently of the Navy, the defence of the realm has mainly rested, both in theory and in fact, upon the people acting as armed citizens 1502 under and in support of the authority of the Grown, against foreign enemies or invasion, or against traitors or insurrection. Our national security has hitherto rested upon this solid basis, that the people as a race, brave, enduring and loyal, are able and willing at all times to defend themselves and their country though the world be in arms against them.Now it should not be lost sight of that we were an armed nation, and so late as 1673 the House of Commons resolved—That the continuing any standing forces in the nation other than the Militia is a great grievance and vexation to the people,—and he found in this book of Mr. dodo's that it was always the object of Parliament to fix the Army, in time of peace, at the lowest possible standard. Thus, in 1707. at the time of the Union with Scotland, the Army was fixed at 8,000 men. In 1711, at a time of war, it was raised to 201,000, a great many of whom were foreigners. In 1713, in a time of peace, the Secretary for War was ordered to lay before the House an estimate for 8.000 men, just as the Army existed in 1707. Anterior to 1792, as a rule, Ministers were obliged to reduce the Army to a peace establishment immediately that its actual services in war were no longer needed. Thus, in 1763, when we were at peace, the Army was reduced from 105,173 men to 45,942. He mentioned that merely as a matter of history to show that tills course of action rested on the principle that we were an armed nation, and that every man was liable to serve. The gallant deeds of our Army were emblazoned in the history of the world and on the colours of our regiments, and it was an admitted fact that the regimental service was, perhaps, the most perfect that could anywhere be found. He last year quoted the authority of Mr. Ellice on this subject, who said "that the English soldier was the best pawn on the chess-board of the military world." When we looked back to the history of this Army one would suppose there could be no difficulty in getting a ready supply of men. the House would hardly credit this great fact that from 1800 up to the present time, exclusive of such Acts as Militia Suspension Acts, Ballot Suspension Acts, and Mutiny Bills, there had been between sixty and seventy various Acts of Parliament affecting either the Army, the Militia, or the Volunteers. How had this Army in the main been kept up in time of war? By enormous bounties. 1503 and that, too, when we had the ballot and the Militia. The cause was simply this, that, concurrently with the ballot and the Militia, we had a system of substitutes, and we had, competing against one another, the Militia giving £60, £70, £100 for substitutes, and the Army giving large sums in bounties to induce soldiers to take their place in the Line. In 1803 the bounty was £5 5s., the levy money £6 6s., or £11 11s. in all. A little later the bounty was £7 12s. 6d., the levy money £10 10s., making together £18 2s." 6d. In 1807 £14 14s. was given as bounty for unlimited and £10 10s. for limited service; and in 1809, during the height of the Peninsular War, the bounty was £16 16s., and the levy money £23 17s. 6d., so that in that year we paid £40 13s. 6d. in order to get a man into the ranks, with all the other expenses coming after. During; the Crimean War the bounty was £6 and £8, the levy money £7 and £9, and the Militia had £1 more. But how did the system work? Did this reckless expenditure in the purchase of men, with the enormous debt which it kept up, give a certain and reliable force? Nothing of the kind. This country never had a force of which the Secretary for War could say—" Hero is a certain number of men whom I can lay my hand on and transfer at once to the Regular Army." In 1854 the established strength was 124.801, there were actually serving only 122,464, or a deficiency of 2,337 that was in the beginning of the Crimean War. As the war went on the established strength was raised. In 1855 it was 189,956, but there were serving only 143,298, or a deficiency of no less than 46,658. Therefore, though that House voted 189,000 men, we could not get within 46,000 of that number. In 1856 the established strength was 205,808, the actual strength 155,406—that is there was a deficiency of 50,402. In 1857, when after the Crimean War things had righted themselves, there appeared to have been—though lie did not know the reason why—an excess of men serving over those who wire voted, the established strength was 114,518 while 149,538 actually served. In 1858, at the time of the Indian Mutiny, the established strength was 169,413, and there were actually serving 147,532, being a deficiency of 21,881. That showed conclusively that whatever our system 1504 had hitherto been, as far as supplying fighting men for the Army went, it had signally failed, and failed at the very time when it was most needed. In time of peace we had something like the established strength, but when war came there was a deficiency, which, however, we had a certain means of supplying. Now, what was wanted was an efficient Army Reserve; and he held that this Reserve should be a force in itself; that it should be wholly separate from any Reserve which might be got from the Militia; and that there should be a Reserve of the Army itself. When he expressed his regret at the absence of General Peel from the House at all times, but especially in a debate on the Army, which that gallant Gentleman understood, perhaps, better than any- body else, there was no one who would not join with him in that expression. He did not wish in any way to criticize what had been done by General Peel in that respect. His intentions were excellent; but he knew that General Peel himself did not regard what he had pro- posed as going to the root of the matter. According to General Peel's plan the Reserve was divided into two classes, the first of which was not to exceed 20,000 men, who were to be liable to permanent service in the United Kingdom, or elsewhere, and were to consist of men who had served in any regular corps, and whose past service did not exceed the first term of enlistment. Well, three months ago the total number of men that they had of that first class, who were to number 20,000, was only 1.000. The second class, which was not to exceed 30,000, and to be liable to serve only in the United Kingdom, was to consist of the enrolled pensioners, out-pensioners of Chelsea and Greenwich Hospitals, and persons who had served in any of the regular forces for not less than the full period of the first term of enlistment, that being twelve years. Of that latter class, three months ago they had 22,000. Of these men, 3,800 had served their first period, and had gone into the Reserve; and the remaining 18,200 came under the other categories of out-pensioners, marines, &c, who were generally from forty to sixty years of age. So that our Army of Reserve about three months ago amounted to a total of about 23,000 men made up as he had described. That that 1505 was a satisfactory state of things no one would for a moment maintain. The result was that Secretaries of State for War, Members of that House connected with the Army, and officers out-of-doors, were all puzzling their brains to discover some satisfactory system of enlistment which would give them a certain and reliable Army Reserve of such numbers as would admit of their reducing the strength of their regiments in time of peace, and as would enable the Secretary of State for War, in case of emergency, by pulling a bell, at once to order a certain number of men to fill up the cadres of their regiments. He recollected that on one occasion, when it was said in proof of the pacific intentions of the Emperor of the French, that he had sent 120,000 men away from the Army, a French gentleman replied—"That is only a matter of fourteen days," in which time he could get them all back again. He had read a great many pamphlets upon the subject, and he had talked with a good many persons who understood it; and he thought that the soundest system was that proposed two years ago by the Quarter master General Sir Hope Grant. The principle on which that system rested was short periods of service, combined, however, with a longer period of enlistment than at present. At present the; soldier enlisted for twelve years; he had no pension at the end of that time; but if he chose to re-engage and serve for another nine years, at the end of twenty-one years he was entitled to a pension of 8d. per day. The proposal of Sir Hope Grant was that they should enlist men for twenty-one years at the outset, dividing the twenty-one years into three periods of service, say of seven years each; that the men should serve the first seven years with their regiments at home and abroad, and that they should after that go into the first class of the Army Reserve. They would then have earned a certain sum as lie-serve pay, not as pension—a distinction which it was necessary to bear in mind—and that sum might be 2d., 3d., or 4d. per day, or whatever amount might be fixed upon. They would then be liable, in the event of war or public necessity, to be sent to their regiments for the next seven years. At the end of that term, or after fourteen years, they would receive a further portion of Reserve pay other than the 2d., 3d., or 4d; and then 1506 they would enter on the third stage of their service for another seven years—making up the entire twenty-one years—and become liable to service at homo only in the second Reserve. Now, supposing they now engaged 10,000 men per annum on those terms to feed their Army. At the end of the first seven years, making allowance for deaths, they would have 68,000 instead of the whole 70,000, entitled to receive a certain sum as Reserve pay. They would be liable, whenever required, to go abroad or serve at home; and, in the meantime, it was to be hoped they would be practising some trade or other occupation. Those men would be drilled annually for a fortnight, a month, or whatever other period might be deemed best. His own opinion was that they would be best drilled with the Regular Army, and this plan would not require that there should be any additional Staff. By-and-by he hoped the country would be divided into districts; and they could fill up their skeleton regiments with those men in proper proportions; and then they would be doing, in time of peace, exactly what they would have to do in time of war, and thus be acquiring efficiency for war. At the end of fourteen years the 68,000 would have further decreased by deaths to 63,000, according to the calculation furnished to him, and, supposing at the end of fourteen years they gave them the eight-penny pension, they would then be receiving pensions as was now done after twenty-one years' service. He knew there were objections taken to that on the score of cost. But it rested with the nation to say whether it would adopt the principle of enlisting men for twenty-one years, breaking up that term into three such periods as he had described; and then they could have what number of troops they chose, more or less, for their established strength, according to the exigencies of the State or the requirements of proper economy. Recruiting could be stopped if they had more men than they wanted. Once they had established an Army Reserve and. offered to re-enlist a certain number of men on the terms to which he had referred, his impression was, from all he could hear, that there would be no difficulty in getting plenty of them. As regarded the cost, he said the cost rested with themselves—it would be what they 1507 chose to make it. As to the question of pension, he asked the House to bear in mind the distinction between Reserve pay and pension. A Reserve pay of 6d. would go as far as 1s. did now. He knew that there were gentlemen at the War Office who were dead against pensions, and who thought that men should be enlisted for three years: and that when they were wanted they would return to the Army. He himself, however, was a very strong advocate for pensions. What they had to do was to make the service attractive, otherwise they could not hope to compete in the labour market with private employers. The advantages they had to hold out to the recruit were that they clothed him, comfortably housed him, taught him—as it was to be hoped they would do—a trade, led him. well, amused him more or less, and gave him a canteen where he could get better beer for his money than he could obtain elsewhere. Those were the inducements which with their 4d. a day they had to offer the labouring man. But when the push came, as happened during the Crimean War. how stood the case as between the soldier and the man employed in their Army "Works Corps? They might have had two brothers in the Crimea, one of them being a soldier, liable to be shot, in receipt of 1s. a day and his working pay with its deductions; while the other brother might have gone out in the Army Works Corps to construct a railway or the like, for which he would receive, without being liable to be shot. 6s. per day if he were an ordinary labourer, and 7s. and upwards. if he were anything of a skilled artizan. He regarded a pension ns a benefit society for the soldier on the security of the State. The whole tendency of the nation was in the direction of benefit societies, as was evidenced by the large number of people who joined the Freemasons', the Foresters', the Odd Fellows', and the numerous societies whose rules were certified by Mr. Tidd Pratt. The men on service in India might be retained two or even three years longer if necessary, which would make the term of service ten years, which until lately was the period of enlistment. His impression was that men would readily come forward to join if this country would follow the example of France, and open up the Civil Service 1508 to the common soldiers. He trusted the Government would give employment in the War Office and other Departments of the State to deserving soldiers who enlisted under this system at the end of their first period of service. If all these inducements were held out he believed it would even be necessary to restrict the number of recruits, so anxious would men be to enlist under this system. At all events, the plan might be tried. If it succeeded it would be a very good thing: if it failed we should be no worse off than we were before. In the present position of the question of Army Reserves we ought to proceed tentatively, and to try various schemes. In the event of failure we could revert to the present system of twelve years' enlistment. The plan he was advocating would not interfere in any way with the Reserve scheme proposed by General Peel. He now came to the Militia, which was regarded as the only constitutional force; of the country. Many people were of opinion that this force was not so highly thought of now as it was a few years ago. He doubted very much, however, whether such were really the case, his impression being that all who had applied themselves to the consideration of this question held that this constitutional force, which originated in the old Trained Bands, was the only force in the shape of an Army Reserve that we had ever had, and he himself thought that by means of the Militia we might establish an efficient Army Reserve at the present day. In point of fact, the Militia was the backbone of our military system, occupying as it did a middle place between the Regular Army and the Volunteers. Hitherto it had been made to serve two purposes, one of which had defeated the other. It had been made a filter through which men wore to pass into the Army, and therefore he maintained that the Army ought to have a Reserve system of its own. The effect of this filtering was that if a large number of men were sent into the Army, the Militia became pro tanto inefficient. It might indeed be said that this system worked well in time of peace; but, in times of difficulty, when it was necessary to send the Army abroad, we should be sorry to have the Militia full of raw recruits, instead of being a real Army of Defence for the country. Therefore the present system ap- 1509 peared to him a wrong one. Yet this filter system had not even been thoroughly successful in attaining the object aimed at. Under General Peel's Militia Reserve Act 20,000 men might be enlisted to serve for five years, and would be liable to be transferred to the Regular Army. These men received a bounty, and a regulation was laid down that no married man should be permitted to join this Army Reserve. In reference to this he might incidentally remark that, under Sir Hope Grant's system, all questions as to the marriage of soldiers were, at the expiration of the first septennial period of service, got rid of altogether. Under the existing system married men were not permitted in the Militia, and if they married after joining that force they were dismissed from it. But it was found that a great many men about to get married enlisted for the sake of the bounty, and were turned out when they got married. Thus each of those men obtained the £l bounty without rendering any equivalent service to the country. Well, the total number enlisted last year under General Peel's Act was 2,000; and on the 9th of June. 1869, fifty-one regiments had given to the Regular Army 4,269 men. whereas they should have given 6,942, so that there was a deficiency of 2,673. Forty-five regiments, however, had not yet sent in their reports. He knew of one regiment which only gave twenty-six men, and of those some, he believed, had not attested. As far, then, as the Militia Reserve had gone, it had not answered the expectations entertained respecting it. No doubt there were in the House officers whose opinion must carry great weight, who would express their belief that the system was a sound one, and that the necessary number of men would be obtained for the Army; but he was acquainted with other officers of Militia regiments who took a totally different view of the matter. Another system of Reserve had been proposed by Lord Norreys, under which, instead of men being filtered into the Army through the ranks of the Militia, whole Militia regiments would volunteer into the Army. It was well known that in the Crimean War—and the same was the case in the Peninsular "War, the Irish Rebellion, and the Indian Mutiny—when the nation was short of men in the Army, the patriotic Militia regi- 1510 ments were asked whether they would undertake to go abroad on garrison duty, and he believed they had invariably consented to do so. Lord Norreys, however, proposed that, instead of asking each regiment separately to go abroad, the Secretary of State should apply to the regiments of Militia to know which of them would be willing to be inscribed on a roster for a certain number of years, during which they would be liable to be sent on garrison duty in the colonies and on foreign service. A colonel of a Surrey corps of Volunteers had told him he believed that every Militia regiment would respond in the affirmative to such an appeal, and. further, that officers would not ask the Government for any honorary rank in respect of foreign service. He would now quote a passage with regard to the Buckinghamshire Militia—In June, 1798, the regiment volunteered with the colonel, the Marquess of Buckingham, to serve in Ireland, that country being; it this period in a state of rebellion. The regiment embarked at Liverpool for Dublin, and arrived on the 2nd of July following. Their reception by the public authorities was highly complimentary to the regiment, it being the first English Militia regiment that had landed in Ireland; other regiments soon after followed their example. In the spring of 1799 the regiment returned to England, and in the same year a volunteering to the Line took place from all Militia regiments, and on this occasion the Royal [Sucks King's Own Regiment furnished 400 men, including sergeants, corporals, privates, with the regulated proportion of officers, all of whom joined the 4th, or King's Own, Regiment of Infantry. The regiment afterwards furnished yearly (principally to the 14th, or Buckinghamshire, Regiment of Foot) its full quota of men during the war. In the year 1301 the regiment, with their noble colonel, then Earl Temple, volunteered to serve in Spain during the period the French Armies invaded that country. The Ministry did not avail themselves of this offer; but the proposal met the highest consideration from the Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of York, for the gallantry thus displayed by the corps. The regiment, in 1814. again served in Ireland, as then by law established. During this period the intention of Government to form provisional battalions of Militia gave another opportunity to call forth the gallantry of the regiment. The First Provisional Battalion of Militia, composed of the Royal Bucks King's Own Regiment, and commanded by their noble colonel, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, who embarked with the battalion in 1813 for Bordeaux, served in France under his Grace the Duke of Wellington. during the lime the Allied Armies were in possession of that country. On leaving, each officer of the First Provisional Battalion of Militia was presented with the Fleur de his by Louis XVIII.The country would be obliged to have recourse to that system again if she was 1511 engaged in war; and there were many persons who doomed it desirable that we should have some such system in. time of peace. We might rest assured that, in calculating the strength of this country for war purposes, any foreign power would consider it a great element of strength with us. if they knew that in addition to our Regular Army we had 20,000 or;30.000 Militiamen, who could at a moment be wrought into the Lines of our Regular Army for service at homo or abroad. The Militia, he might add, represented the, liability of every man to personal service; and in theory it was one of the principles of' the military system that. this Militia was raised and paid by compulsion—that was by the ballot. Now, he know that the word "ballot" sent n cold shiver through many persons. But why if we had the ballot for the Militia, should we not have it for every other service? Why was not our Army raised by the principle of conscription? if this country were not an island, divided, separated from our Continental neighbours by that ditch of twenty-one miles of water, no man could doubt but that we should have to follow the examples of France, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland, maintaining the strength of our Army by means of the conscription. Far be it from him to undervalue the services of our navy, which was our first line of defence; but, in these days of steam and iron-clads, the strength of that Navy as compared with the Navy of France; was a mailer well worthy of attention. He found that the English iron-clad fleet, broadside and turret, afloat and building, amounted to thirty-four, of which six were turretships. We had besides five floating batteries; but of those only one was in England and serviceable to the State. That, gave for the English facet a total of thirty-nine. The French had afloat. or en chartin, in stock, of the largest class of vessels, two; frigates, fifteen afloat and four in stock; corvettes, nine afloat and one in stock: gardes cótex. four afloat and three in stock; making in all thirty-eight, while they had in addition fifteen batteries flottantes, giving a total of fifty-three. Thus much for the ships. He came in the nest place to the manning, and he found that our Naval Reserve, which had lately been out at sea under the command of his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, consisted 1512 of Coastguards, 7,225; Naval Reserve, 16,036: Coast Volunteers, 3,681; or, in all 26,942 men. That was the Reserve which we could lay our hands upon; but the French had got a conscription, and they could send every fisherman whom they pleased, or landsman if they chose, on board their ships. It would be seen, therefore, that not only had France more ships but better means of manning them than we had; so that our security against attack was not so perfect as it was in old days, and he thought that in seeking that the principle of the ballot in connection with our home defence should be recognized and established he was not asking anything very unreasonable. A great authority upon the subject, the late Sir James Graham, who was Chairman of the Army Organization Committee in 1860, said,—The force of the Militia at this moment is 70,000 men, their quota being 120,000, and the ballot has fallen into desuetude. In the event of war the Queen's Army, the Marines, and the Militia must be largely and suddenly augmented. It is a grave question whether reliance can be safely placed in such an emergency, however large may be the bounty, on voluntary enlistment only. If volunteering failed, the danger to the State would be imminent, but the existing legal machinery for bringing the ballot into operation is cumbrous in the extreme, and if in peace no provision be made for such an extremity much precious time would be lost at the critical juncture, and the danger might be great.That opinion he believed to be perfectly sound, and all he wanted was that the principle which it recommended should he adopted, and that the necessary machinery for giving it effect should in rime of peace be put in working order. Unless we were prepared to say that we should get rid of the ballot and go into the market and could give £00 or £100 a piece for our men, we must act in accordance with the advice of Sir James Graham. We had plenty of men now, trade was dull, and we had the command of the market to a certain extent; but what security was there that, if we should happen to be at war with France and another great Power combined with her to-morrow, we should not find ourselves exactly in the same position as in 1858, and on the previous occasions to which he had referred? The Government, he maintained, would fail to discharge their duty unless they oiled the machinery at their disposal. England might be divided into convenient districts for the purpose of raising men, 1513 and the other necessary steps might be taken to see how the system for which he was contending would work. We had at present 120,000 or 130,000 Militiamen. The Secretary of State might raise 60,000 men out of the 200,000 men who came of age every year. Let them test this principle of the ballot, then, by raising, say 25,000 men at the rate of 5,000 a year, spreading the demand over five years. By this system only one man in furry every year out of the 200,000 would be called upon to act. It would not be necessary to drill or train them. The five years might be reduced to three years if necessary. Only let them be enrolled by ballot, and let there be no substitute. Under such an arrangement there would be always a sufficient number of men available; for service without the necessity of inflicting hardships on any of the men, unless in the event of war breaking out. They would then have their machinery in working order for putting the men in training, and it would have the effect, as he believed, of binding up harmoniously the whole forces of the Empire. It; was impossible to get at the Volunteers by Mutiny Acts; and the only way of doing it was by the old constitutional principle, upon which the Volunteer force had always existed, that of being a Volunteer force and exempted from the general conscription. What was the early history of Volunteers? That. Force was to be traced in every national emergency. He wished to speak of the Volunteers, not as a Volunteer, but as a Member of Parliament and a citizen. There was present in that House an hon. and gallant Friend of his (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) who represented the oldest force in the country, because he represented the London Artillery Company, and that company represented the old Train Bands of the time of Henry VIII.; but if we looked to the history of the Volunteer Force in our own day were found that it had had three phases. It was exactly ten years and a month since General Peel, who was then Secretary for War, sanctioned the formation of this Force. The first phase of its history was that in which it was exposed to ridicule. He remembered Lord Palmerston cracking jokes at its expense. The next phase of its history was that in which 24,000 or 25,000 Volunteers marched past Her Majesty in Hyde Park. 1514 The Duke of Wellington said that if a General marched 5,000 men into Hyde Park he would not be able to march them out again; but the 24,000 or 25,000 Volunteers marched out of Hyde Park in an hour and twenty minutes. After that day in Hyde Park the Volunteers received praise from all directions. Phase No. 3 was the latest in the history—it was that of criticism of the Volunteers, which criticism, he maintained, was as unjust and as unfounded as the exaggerated praise which they received some time ago. The public had been told that the Volunteers were an undisciplined, disorganized, and almost useless body—that they would be of no value whatever except behind stone walls. The last Re-view at Dover was selected as a proof of their inefficiency; but in his opinion that Review was one of the strongest proofs of their efficiency that could by possibility have been afforded. On one of the severest days he had ever known, men who had been dismissed, after having been drenched with snow and saltwater, re-assembled within a very short lime at the call of his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief and went through the operations of a field-day. But in speaking of the movements of that day military correspondents had dipped their iron pens in gall. What had the Saturday Review said on this criticism? This was an extract from its I article—It is so easy to run down any large organization like the Volunteers. The method is obvious. Pick out a fault committed by an individual—if he is a Volunteer so much the better, but, if not, a General Officer straight from Aldershot, or a Dover rough will do, if only he happens to have been present in the same field with the Volunteers. Having dwelt on the enormity of the error, slide easily in the next paragraph from the singular to the plural, and wind up by attributing the fault to the whole body of Volunteers as their habitual practice. Having done this, sigh over their want of discipline and training, and tell them that if they do not speedily improve they ought to be abolished altogether, or at least compelled in future to pay the whole instead of half of their expenses.But there were other soldiers at the Dover Review besides those who penned the hostile criticisms, and soldiers of greater experience in the field than those from whom those criticisms had come. They had expressed a very different opinion of the behaviour of the Volunteers, so that he did not think the Force had lost any think by the attack. What was the meaning of that attack? It had arisen 1515 from an apprehension that the existence of the Volunteer Force might bring about reduced Estimates. It was right to say that from the Commander-in-Chief, and the Army generally the Volunteers had received every assistance, and that the best feeling existed between the Regular Forces and the Volunteer?. Except with the most infinitesimal section of the Army there was a desire on the part of military men that the Volunteers should exist and flourish, and that the whole of the Forces of the Empire should be bound up together by measures taken by the Government. He had merely pointed it out to show Parliament and the people that they ought not to be led away with the idea that the Volunteers were an undisciplined, disorganized, and useless body, and he was astonished to find their discipline was so good. For ten years 170,000 men had served in the manner they had without any inducement except patriotic motives, and under no restraint other than when under drill. There might have been a few instances of want of discipline, such as at Windsor last year, which caused a feeling of shame and indignation; and when the Force as a body wished that the per cant limb should be cut off, the battalion company were struck out of the Army List, though subsequently re-instated, no doubt upon good reasons shown. There was another instance at Dover of want of discipline on the part of an officer, and every possible interest was being used to prevent his being struck off the roll; but he (Lord Elcho) hoped no personal, private, or political interest would prevail, but that he would he struck out. lie had applied to General. M'Murdo and Colonel Erskine. both of whom had been Inspectors of Volunteers, for their opinion of the Force, and he had put to them five questions, which were shortly these—First, with reference to discipline; secondly, whether in their opinion it was desirable that the Volunteer Force, should be placed under the Mutiny Act in time of peace; thirdly, whether they were only fit for garrison duty; fourthly, with regard to the number of drills for recruits and efficient; and, fifthly, whether they thought that simplification of drill would increase the efficiency of the Force. As to discipline General M'Murdo said the Volunteers were amenable to discipline, and that he had never seen troops so easily recalled to a sense of their duty, or 1516 who would accept more cheerfully any amount of inconvenience the service required of them. On the same point Colonel Erskine said he had found throughout an earnest desire to conform to the requirements of discipline; and that when from time to time a failure in this respect might have occurred it was generally attributable to a want of ac-quittance with the rules and customs of military service, and not to a disregard of what was known to be right. Both General MMurdo and Colonel Erskine were opposed to the Volunteers being placed under the Mutiny Act. They thought the present law sufficient, and that no change should be made until the powers at present vested in the Crown had been exercised with as much stringency as circumstances might require. Here, he might observe, that the Volunteers themselves liked discipline. The officers did exercise their powers of enforcing discipline, and he did not know what additional powers were wanted. General M'Murdo, in his letter, said—"I asked General Garibaldi how he maintained discipline among his troops? and he replied—'By dismissal;'" and he added, that if any insubordination arose it was owing to a want of courage on the part of the commanding officer. In reply to the third question, whether the Volunteers were only fit for the garrisons of fortresses? General M'Murdo said—''God forbid that such pernicious doctrine should ever prevail;" and Colonel Erskine said—"With the additional training which they would receive the Volunteers would be fit for the field." With reference to the question of the efficiency of the present drill, General M'Murdo said there was no change of opinion as to the sufficiency of the present drill, while Colonel Erskine thought that recruit drill might be increased. Upon the question of the simplification of the drill, both agreed as to the necessity of simplifying the drill in order to secure efficiency. General M'Murdo said—"A simplification of drill would tend to increase the efficiency of the Line, as well as that of the Re-serves;" while Colonel Erskine replied—"I have no hesitation in answering in the affirmative. I consider it very desirable that the drill of all Arms should be restricted to what is absolutely required to qualify soldiers for actual service." There was a Committee sitting 1517 at the Horse Guards at the present time to consider this subject, and he trusted that they would devise some system by which the drill of all Arms should be restricted to what was required to qualify the soldiers for actual service. By all means let the soldiers be drilled so that they might stand as steady as a rock, or execute manŒuvres with facility; but the present system was a mere cat's cradle, and a complete puzzle. The drill ought to be so simple that it would be utterly impossible to club a regiment. It had been asked what services the Volunteers were likely to render in the field; but had they not finished the New Zealand war? Colonel D'Arcy. the Governor of Gambia, on the West Coast of Africa, stated that the Volunteers had saved that colony by their gallantry, and that one of them had received the Victoria Cross. These were instances of what the Volunteers could do, and proved that they were not likely to run away when they saw the enemy, as it had been insinuated they would do by some persons. It was evident therefore that the Volunteers would form a very important element of our national defence. He would then touch upon the present position of that Force, and. in the first place, he would refer to the Capitation Grant. It had been his duly, some short time since, to wait, with a deputation, upon the Secretary of State for War, in order to urge upon that right hon. Gentleman the necessity of increasing the amount of the Capitation Grant, and he had reason to believe that the question was being taken into consideration, because he, in common with other Volunteer officers, had received a circular, asking for details respecting the expenditure of the Volunteer regiments. He was satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman was so fully convinced of the necessity for keeping up this Force that he would do his utmost to forward its real interests. He believed that, independently of the Capitation Grant, much might be done to promote the efficiency of the Force by means of proper organization. A great deal had been accomplished by dividing the country into military districts, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would stick to that system. Under its operation the Army and its Reserves, the Militia and the Volunteers, were brought into intimate communication. Should the 1518 right hon. Gentleman desire to increase the amount of the grant given to the Volunteers, the additional money could not be applied better than by appropriating it towards their travelling expenses, which would enable them to brigade with the Regular troops and the Militia. He would humbly warn the right hon. Gentleman against unduly diminishing the Army Staff. In every military district a Staff adequate in the event of war breaking out should be kept up. The Prussian system, under which, when a General took the field, he knew, and was known by all his Staff was an admirable one, and the advantages resulting from it, when a force of 100,000 or 200,000 was placed in the field at the commencement of a war, might be easily conceived. Another point he wished to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman was the necessity for keeping up large reviews, which, even if they did not greatly conduce to the efficiency of the Volunteers, were of vast service to the Staff in teaching them their duties practically. In the course of his observations he had been anxious not to urge his own personal views upon the House, but to confine himself to laying before them the opinions of those who were regarded as being high authorities upon these matters. He was particularly desirous to guard against its being supposed that lie was in favour of what were called "bloated armaments." No man in the House could regret more than he did the fact that on the Continent of Europe nearly 5,500,000 men were taken away from peaceful labour to be trained in the art of war. But in this country we had organized a system which rendered it unnecessary to take men away from their peaceful avocations. It was in the interest of peace that he was desirous of seeing this country strong, and of seeing the Reserve Forces well organized and well welded together with the Regular Army. This country should be in such a position as not to be touchy or quarrelsome, but prepared in the event of war to defend itself against every possible foe.BewareOf entrance to a quarrel; but, being in,Bear it that the oppose may beware of thee.This country had already obtained a full measure of glory, and there was no desire on our part to meddle with Continental affairs; but, in the future, times 1519 might come when, however anxious we might be to remain at peace, and to pursue our ordinary commercial affairs, interest and honour might require us to take part in some foreign war. There wore such things as treaty obligations; and self-interest might compel us to interfere with respect to Belgium and Egypt. As far as Belgium was concerned, there was a personal guarantee on the Part of this nation; and if any attempt were made to endanger our line of communication with India, we must be prepared to strike a blow in its defence. Let them rely upon it that the best system of home defence was to be prepared to strike a blow elsewhere; and if we had a disposable force of 50,000 men ready to be sent to any part of the world, that would have a considerable effort in preserving peace, because the odds would certainly not be against that Power which was supported by 50,000 or 100,000 English soldiers. He must conclude by thanking the House for the patience with which they had listened to him, and by expressing a hope that at the next Dover Review our military organization would be so improved as to put it out of the power of any Prussian or other foreign officer to say—"Your material is excellent, but you have no organization." The noble Lord concluded by moving his Resolution.
§ MR. AKROYD
, in seconding the Motion, observed that, in a commercial point of view and as an insurance against invasion, we ought to have an ample and efficient Army of Reserve. Nothing could be more desirable or prudent than to insure this nation against the probability of attack by a foreign enemy. But insurance was useless unless confidence were felt in the validity of the insurance, and therefore an Army of Reserve must be both efficient and adequate for its purpose. France, Russia, and Prussia were each capable of bringing 1,000,000 soldiers into the field. Hence the Army of defence ought to bear suitable proportion to the Army of attack, and should number not less than 500,000 men. In our extensive system of railway communication we enjoyed great facilities of concentration for purposes of defence, but, on the other hand, there was a source of weakness in the sister isle. Till Ireland became thoroughly loyal it would always be necessary to set aside a certain force to keep the discon- 1520 tented spirits of that country in check. It was said that the British Channel was capable of being bridged over by the facility of steam transit. But our collective Army should be sufficiently numerous to act as a deterrent. The Army should not exist on paper only. There must be a large Army of Reserve, ready to take the field at short notice. How was that Army of Reserve to be constructed? We had a considerable difficulty in the maintenance of a largo standing Army. Every British soldier cost something like £90 a year; and supposing the mechanic who became a soldier earned 30s. or 40s. a week in his ordinary employment, those weekly earnings must be added to the amount received by him as a soldier in order to ascertain the soldier's cost to the country. The combination of the Volunteer system with that of the Militia he looked upon as highly advantageous. Among the lower class of the agricultural population there were always plenty who could spare a month in the year for Militia purposes, answering to them the purpose of a holiday. Those, on. the other hand, who laboured in connection with machinery could not be spared for any corresponding period, and for them the Volunteer Force was especially suited. They were able to drill in the evening, after the close of the day's occupation, and this gave to the country the benefit of their military duties without sustaining personal inconvenience. He did not believe that the adoption of the ballot for the Militia would be unpopular with the bulk of the population. There was no difficulty at present in getting Volunteers from among the working classes; the proportion, indeed, of Volunteers was increasing among them, and diminishing among the middle classes. It must be borne in mind that modern wars were all short, sharp, and decisive, and that, unless the men had been trained beforehand, there was little likelihood that in future any large bodies of men could be trained during the progress of the war itself. Volunteers themselves were quite ready to admit the need for a stricter drill than that to which they had been subjected. They asked nothing better, indeed, than to be considered a portion of the Regular Forces for the defence of the country. The present moment was especially opportune for calling upon the 1521 great body of the people to give more time to the preparation for national protection. The working classes at present were flushed with the consciousness of their newly-acquired privilege as electors, and hence were additionally willing to come forward in defence of the rights which they had gained. The working classes, according to his observation—possibly because they had less to lose—were less selfish than the wealthy in their national feelings, and their great desire was to see their common country glorious and powerful. He believed that if the Government would grasp this question boldly, they would have no difficulty whatever in inducing the country to assent to the principle of ballot for the Militia.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the establishment of a sufficient and reliable Army Reserve is a mutter of urgent need,"—(Lord Elcho,)
§ Question proposed, ''That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
COLONEL, C. H. LINDSAY
was glad that the noble Lord the Member for Hordingtonshire had brought this question before Parliament, for to say the least of it, it is—and has been for some time—one for serious consideration, and the time had arrived when some decided opinion should be expressed by the House upon the anomalous state of the nation as a great military power, which it is supposed to be. So much had been said and written in hard criticism upon our comparatively defenceless condition, and so many hard hits had been given to our military authorities—unjustly, because they are powerless without legislation—that it is, indeed, high time that some immediate remedy should he applied to so undignified a position—a remedy that would be satisfactory to all interests. And now that the problem has been again put forward, it ought to be well discussed, in order to arrive at a sound solution. But as year after year rolls by, and no decision or settlement has been arrived at, he submitted that the House ought to be deeply anxious to discuss the question as a matter of urgent business—and as he apprehended that the House and the Government 1522 must unanimously agree with the Motion of the noble Lord that the establishment of a sufficient and reliable Army Re-serve is a matter of urgent need, he hoped and thought that the Government would be in a position to declare its intentions and produce a clear and distinct scheme, which—after the length of time that the question had been under the consideration of more Governments than one—was due to the country; and would re-assure it that some real and effective organization was ready to be submitted. The question was not the state and efficiency of the British Army, but it was a question of vital importance to it in lime of peace, preparatory to that of war. It referred to one of the most important requirements of a nation—to a something upon which to fall back in time of need; it referred, indeed, to the want of that something—namely, an Army Reserve. without which the nation, the Army, and the Commander-in-Chief himself were in a false and undignified position. He thought the noble Lord had clearly enunciated his views on this great question, and explained much that ought to be cheer-fully endorsed and approved of by the House and the country; and we ought to be grateful to the perseverance which he always evinces on all questions relating to our military resources in every shape. He has, not for the first time, broached this great question in this House, and I am sure it will not be the last, unless something be decided to his satisfaction. The noble Lord asked for a Royal Commission last year. And why did he ask for it? Simply and solely for the purpose of collecting information for legislation, and so strengthening the hands of the Government as to assist in the solution of the difficulties which have seemed to exist. Well, he was requested to withdraw his Motion, which is tantamount to shunting the question for twelve months. Are we going to shunt the question which is again raised for another twelve months? I trow not. For to-night the noble Lord has brought forward a Motion of which he cannot with decency be asked even to alter a single word—for no Member in the House can disagree with it, and therefore the fullest discussion is desirable, and in a co-operative and suggestive spirit. Sir, it is perfectly plain that the object of an Army Reserve, so well ex- 1523 plained by the noble Lord, is to guarantee to the nation in time of peace an extensive machinery for meeting the exigencies of war, in lien of the hitherto contracted, hut non-elastic establishments which exist at present. The Government know this—everyone knows this. But it will require more heads and minds than one to decide upon the best and most effective plan for realizing the object and secure it from failure. He did not think it difficult to devise a practicable plan. But, if it be clogged and fettered by the usual and false economy, it will fail again; and he felt sure that, in a question such as this, the greater the liberality the greater the inducement, and, therefore, the greater the chance of success—which is always economy in the end. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, who has anxiously considered the subject, has already expressed his opinion that a Reserve Force of 40,000 men could be formed, in the first instance, by appealing to the various regiments of Militia to give a quota of men according to their proportionate strength, while continuing to serve in the Militia in time of peace, but ready to join the ranks of the Army in time of war—a scheme which is already in existence, but a very limited and uncertain operation. This is one plan. But there may be many plans upon which to form this Army Reserve in its entirety which may or may not have some merit. And. no doubt, a variety may be put forward in this discussion, which may or may not assist in the solution of this question. He agreed with the noble Lord in the opinion he expressed upon the shorter period of Army service, and that the division of the twenty-one years into three equal parts was the best he had heard or—for, if he understood it, a man will enlist for twenty-one years, during which period the country will have a legal hold upon him. He is to serve for seven years in the Army, and no longer; at the end of which first period he is to join the First Army Reserve for the next seven years, during which period he is to be liable to be called upon to rejoin his regiment if war breaks cut; and at the end of that second period he has to join the Second Army Re-serve for the last seven years, during which he is to be liable, if necessary, to serve at home, but not abroad—so that 1524 any man who enlists in the Army is theoretically a soldier for twenty-one years, but only practically for seven years, until war breaks out, when every Englishman would naturally fight for his country. But whether this be a practicable plan or not, it was clear that it would be preferable to making the. first period of a man's service shorter than the second and third, for many a wavered would be deterred from re-enlisting, and he would be discharged at his own request just at the time when, at considerable expense to the country, he had become a trained soldier. He thought the shorter service system would, if adopted and utilized upon the principle which the noble Lord had enunciated, materially assist the object in view, and secure the permanent services, when necessary, of a formidable and reliable body of trained men, who, until required, would be following their civil employments—whatever they might be. Having said so much, he agreed with the noble Lord in the remarks he had made in reference to the ballot for the Militia, which being in a modified form met with his approval; for it became a matter of serious consideration how the ranks of the Militia should be secured against any unforeseen shortcomings on the part of the young and able-bodied in the country—so that, whenever necessity required, there might be no difficulty or delay in recruiting the ranks of the Militia up to its maximum. He agreed with the noble Lord in the view he has taken of putting the ballot in force, a power which is only suspended until it becomes expedient to exert it. He agreed with him especially because of tin; mild and easy and tentative plan upon which he proposed its application; because, in the first place, no other palatable plan which he saw would gain the desired object at present; and, in the second place, because it seemed to him that the time had arrived—after every idea and scheme that could be devised has been turned over in the minds of more Cabinets than one—to realize a system of expansion and keep it in working order. The time had arrived when the young and able-bodied men throughout the country between twenty and forty should be previously selected by ballot, not to serve, but to be rendered liable to serve in the Militia for a 1525 given period, and then only in time of war, by which means a guarantee would be secured in that quarter which would tend to avert a position into which the country has so often found itself upon the breaking out of war. He considered those various classes of Reserve might,. if properly systemized, be a valuable machinery of expansion for feeding the ranks of the Army when necessary, and he thought the fact of the Army being under considerable reduction at the pre-sent time was a double reason why an Army of Reserve should be effectually organized without delay. And now, with respect to the position of not the least important branch of the Reserve Forces, namely—the Volunteer service—the noble Lord has expressed his opinion so clearly and in such a manner that he was able to endorse it generally, and would, therefore, not weary the House by travelling over the same ground. But he must say, and he would do so with every respect to the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, that we cannot congratulate ourselves as a body upon the encouragement which, after tea years' incessant labour and responsibility, we have received from them; and he thought they had made a great mistake in disregarding the opinions and feelings of commanding officers in this service upon the important question of Supply. Every argument had been used by those who ought to know best what was required, and nothing had been done in the face of those appeals; and, what was still more discouraging, intimations had been given by the Secretary of State that if more assistance be given, more efficiency would be required, which was of itself a reflection that we were not as efficient as we ought to be. He must beg leave to remark that, if the right hon. Gentleman meant that we are to put in more attendance at drills and parades in the course of the year, he never was more in error if he thinks we can get more time out of the Volunteers for drill purposes than we do. And if he means that we are not in a sufficient state of organization, he is indeed ungracious, by making, what the Government have not been able to do, a sine quâ non for our requirements being attended to, and upon which our health and vigour must for the future so much depend. He would say no more, except that he felt sure that if 1526 our requirements are not paid for, m some shape, by the Government or the country—which is the same thing—in that spirit to which we are by the nature of our position entitled, a very marked difference would be found in the interest and spirit of both commanding officers and members of Rifle Corps throughout the country. And there can be no doubt that if the Government wish to keep up the Volunteer service and improve its condition, the exemption to first-class efficiency serving on juries would have a most valuable effect, and would be a most graceful acknowledgment of the services rendered to the country gratuitously. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would consider these views in a liberal and co-operative spirit. He hoped that this discussion would be of service to the great and important object in view.
said, the last three speeches were rather remarkable. A few weeks ago, he should have thought it impossible for any Member of that House to get up and advocate a ballot for the Militia. They had, however, now heard three hon. Members express their approval of the proposal that a modified form of ballot should be advocated. He commended the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) for the courage he had displayed in the treatment of the question, and for having openly avowed opinions which had been long entertained in that House, but which no one had yet dared to assert. He looked upon the Militia as the backbone of our military system, and the development of the Militia as a matter of the most vital importance. It was impossible to produce a Reserve Force, adequate to the requirements of the country, without resorting in some form or other to the ballot. No one could observe with complacency the military position of England at the present moment, looking at the vast, bloated, and over-grown establishments which had sprung up on the other side of the Channel. Far from diminishing, every year added to the numbers which foreign nations could bring into the field, and to the superiority of their equipment, discipline, and organization. Was it so with England? It was well known that at no period of our history had England been able to place 45,000 men in line of battle. Could that, for a moment, compare with the enormous arma- 1527 ments prepared on the other side of the Channel? They had. most of them, read Colonel Baker's able pamphlet on the organization of the. Army, in which it would be found that at one of the Duke of Wellington's great battles, a much smaller number than 45,000 British troops were engaged. [Lord ELCHO: There were only 18,000 British infantry at Waterloo."] Wars had more and more a tendency to become short, sharp, and decisive. War would probably come on us in a hurry; and we should be called on to improvise a force in the field to meet our foes. In the Crimea, by vast expenditure, we were kept from reaping the full extent of the disasters which our disgraceful state of un-preparedness would otherwise have called down upon us; but he did not believe, if similar circumstances were to occur again, that even vast expenditure would do all that was necessary to provide at a short notice anything like the organization which would put us upon a level with our enemies. At sea we might be superior to any one Power, but the result of the steam fleets created all over the world and of 1he armour-plating going on in every direction. Was that the Great Powers were almost on a level with regard to the Navy, and though we might be able to compete with one nation, we could not certainly compete with anything like a combination. We must dismiss that from our minds. We had certainly the protection of the sea frontier, and that would give us something like a fortnight's warning; but the fact was, looking to the state of military affairs on the Continent, we were Comparatively speaking, as defenceless and as unprepared as we wore at the time of the Crimean War. The country could not look with satisfaction on that patent fact. He was told that the military expenditure of England, during the last two or three years, had been as great as the military expenditure of France and Prussia together. And what had we to show for this? We showed a Militia of no practical use as a feeder to the Line, and a Volunteer Force that had no ostensible connection whatever either with the Line or the Militia; we had yet to organize a commissariat and transport service; and, though there was a department of control which he believed was progressing favourably, yet at present very little was known about 1528 it. That state of things ought to be at once put an end to. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, in his able speech, when bringing for-ward the Army Estimates, proposed that the numerical strength of the British Army should be diminished, but that the cadre should be kept up to a state of thorough efficiency. He quite agreed with him. That was the, true policy, although he was not quite clear that he should have parted with a single British soldier. But he. would go further, and say the Army, Militia, and Volunteers should, be welded into one homogeneous whole. and not remain as three distinct services. With ballot for the Militia, allowing those only to be exempted who would serve in the Line or Volunteers, the cadre of all these would be filled, and that without any difficulty. This was the old law—as old as the Anglo-Saxons; and it was the existing law. Let it be put in force, and it would produce an army on a par with that of any nation on the Continent. It was a false notion that the British tax-payer was too cowardly or unpatriotic to sacrifice a little of that independence which was worth nothing to him if he could not keep it against all comers. He was satisfied that if only their leaders would lead them, and would say that for the safety of the country something of that kind should be done, from one end of Great Britain to the other, they would hear but one cry—"Organize us; do what you like with us; only let us stand creet with the self-respect of Englishmen, and know that England can still main- lain its old position in the world." There had been too great hesitation hitherto, He hoped those who followed him would speak out. It was the constant dropping that were away the stone. He said that when ballot for the Militia was established, it would fill all the three, Army, Militia, and Volunteers, for this reason—Of course, when a man entered the Militia he must have a small bounty, which should be conditional on his engaging to accompany his regiment wherever it was ordered: it should be the law that the Militia ought not, in time of war, to be asked to volunteer for foreign service; the condition of the Militia service should be to go wherever they were ordered. An additional bounty to those who had entered the force might be necessary, 1529 but that bounty need not be a very large one, because the chance of being called on in three, five, or seven years for service outside the kingdom would not be great. The Army, of course, must be ready to go to all parts of the world, and must have their bounty as at present. Those who wished to make a profession of arms would go, as now. in very considerable numbers into the Line; and with all the reforms now in progress we should have no difficulty in filling up in time of peace the cadre of the Line. Then, with a balloted Militia, exemptions being given only to the Volunteers, the regiments of the Militia would be full; and as the Line regiments would be only perhaps half their (strength in time of peace, he thought it would be desirable that there should be large camps of instruction, something in the Prussian style, where military manŒuvres on a large scale should be undertaken—tho cadres being filled up from the ranks of the Militia. He thought a regiment of the Line, Militia, and Volunteers should form, as it were, three battalions of the same corps. They should be localized as much as possible, and instructed to act together. This system should be carried out through the whole country. Every man capable 01 bearing-arms being obliged either to go into the Militia, the Army, or Volunteers, there would be no difficulty, because any one would obtain exemption from the Militia ballot by joining the Volunteers: and having the Volunteer regiments full, they would have sufficient command over them to place them under somewhat stricter discipline than at present. At present it was not a recognized duty on the part of the voting men of England to join in the defence of their country, and they had no sufficient hold over the Volunteers. They had to coax them in order to get them to attend to their duties. If the Volunteer force was to be worth anything, it was perfectly obvious that its members must be drilled, and that they must not come out only at their own option. They could not force them now, because they had the option of retiring at the end of fourteen days, and if the personal persuasion exercised over them by the commanding officer was not sufficient to bring them out, and if great dissatisfaction was systematically expressed at their absence from parade, the regiments would dwindle away, and 1530 the parades would become worse and worse. He was not speaking of the good regiments, for some commanding officers had shown extraordinary tact in keeping up their regiments for the last ten years; but it ought not to depend upon the tact of a commanding officer whether the regiment should be kept together or not. If, instead of allowing a man to go for good and all when he had completed the fourteen days' service, they were to let him know that if he left he would be liable to be balloted for the Militia, that would give them a great additional hold upon him. He did not like to speak against the discipline of the Volunteers, for there was not any body of men more willing to be led and to do what was right, and their discipline, considering the limited opportunities they had for acquiring it, was as good as could be expected; and he must say that he never knew an instance of insubordination during the time he was a commanding officer of Volunteers. Nevertheless, discipline was not mere obedience to orders—it was a peculiar frame of mind produced by habit, and an unreasoning sub ordinal ion of one's own will to the orders of the superior officer. That was the discipline which Volunteers had not got, because they had not sufficient training. However, if they were associated with the Line, they would very soon acquire the tone of necessary obedience. At present, however, there was no organization for the Volunteers; and it was only by looking upon the three services of the Line, the Militia, and the Volunteers as one whole that a Reserve Force, worthy of this country, could be established.
said, it appeared to be the general opinion of the House that there should be an Army of Reserve, and, therefore, he could not understand what induced the Government to propose in the Army Estimates a reduction of 11,000 men. He thought his noble Friend who had just spoken (Viscount Bury) had explained the really invaluable qualities of a good soldier. It was the disciplined mind which was his great-value. Civil and military life were entirely different things, and the soldier had to submit to restraints of which the civilian knew nothing. The disasters of the Crimean War wore still remembered, and he feared that if war again broke out to-morrow the country would 1531 again be disgraced in the same way. He (Colonel North) trusted that the trained soldier would not be bound to leave the Army at the end of seven years, or ten years, whatever might be the particular period fixed on. The question of re-engaging a soldier he would leave to the; commanding officer, because a man, although he might have performed his duty very well, might have been a very troublesome soldier, and therefore it would not be desirable to re-engage him. Two Royal Commissions had reported on this subject, and had pointed out that, as war was carried on in these days, there was no time for repairing the consequences of past neglect, and that the vast interests at stake warranted an increased outlay upon the Army. But such recommendations, valuable as they were thought to be at the time, were soon forgotten. He agreed with the Secretary for War that the best plan, under present circumstances, was to keep the cadres of regiments without reducing the regiments. It would be very well to adopt a different course if we had an efficient Reserve, but at present we had only 2,700 men in Reserve, and one general action in time of war would absorb them all.
MR. H. R. BRAND
apologized to the House for intruding himself on the present occasion; but he wished to express his thanks to the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) for having introduced a discussion which would be useful to the Army and to the nation at large. He wished the Resolution of the noble Lord had gone further than it did, and stated that it was impossible to maintain the efficiency of the Reserve unless they maintained the efficiency and increased the popularity of the Army. The efficiency of the Army could not be maintained, in his opinion, if the system adopted at the War Office of reducing the number of men com-posing the Army was to be persevered with; and yet, as economy in the administration of the public services was demanded by the nation, and considering the short period of time which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had had at his command in which to mature his plans, he must confess that the right hon. Gentleman had proposed to carry out the reductions in the Army in such a manner as to impair as little as possible the efficiency of 1532 that service. The subject before the House was not so much the necessity of maintaining a Reserve Force, for on that point all parties wore agreed—but it resolved itself into two questions. First, from what class of men ought the Army to be recruited, and from what quarter ought they to be obtained? With regard to the first question, he would say that it ought to be composed of men in the full vigour of life, for in time of war the severest services might be required from them, and all statistics proved that in such cases the sickness among the voting was trifling as compared with the old. Besides, these men ought to be made amenable to habits of discipline and subordination. Then, with regard to the second question—from what quarter were they to be obtained—ho asked, were they to look for them among the Volunteers? Certainly not. That was not a force from which to recruit the Army of the Line. The Volunteers were a very useful force, and would prove extremely valuable in case of invasion and for the garrisoning of oar forts; but if a Continental war were to break out he did not believe that one in ten of them would care, or indeed would be able to leave his civil career to servo in the Army. Could they, then, be produced from the Militia? His opinion was that such a course would neither be the best nor the most economical. In ordinary circumstances the average number of men received from the Militia into the Army was small, and the reason was sufficiently obvious; for the duties of the Militia hardly interfered at all with their ordinary work, and their pay during their twenty-one days training was equal to 3s. a day. These facts sufficiently proved that the greater number of men enlisting in the Militia would not be equally willing to enlist in the Regular Army, besides which, it must be borne in mind that recruiting for the Militia interfered with recruiting for the Army. Even, however, if you were by encouragement to persuade men to enlist from the Militia into the Line, the advantage to the Army would be doubtful, for it had been stated by officers of experience that Militiamen seldom made good soldiers. They acquired idle habits in the Militia, they brought those habits into the Army, and they seldom made good soldiers. If a man were to join the Regular Army, it would be better 1533 for him and more economical for the country that he should do so at once. Then it was said that after a certain period of service in the Army, a man should serve out the remainder of his time in the. Militia. It appeared to him that that course also was unnecessary. If every regiment in the Army were enlisted from a district or county, and if a depot were always quartered in the chief town of the county, it would be reasonable after, say five years' service, to give a. man unlimited furlough on condition that he remained liable to serve the State up to a certain period and mustered at the depôt once a year. If that system were tried, and if it should be found successful then the Militia would be wholly unnecessary. He believed that if the Army could be rendered a popular service the difficulties of the problem might be solved. Now, what were the causes of the unpopularity of the Army? He would not detain the House by stating more than two or three. One was the long period of service; another was the low rate of pay, with its many deductions; and a third was, though he knew there were differences of opinion, the marking of men with the letter "D." He knew it was argued that it was necessary to keep up this punishment in order to deter men from deserting and then re-enlisting to obtain the bounty. Now, he believed that those were just the men who cared the least for the disgrace, while the punishment deterred the men whose self-respect rendered them most desirable for soldiers. If the bounty was such a temptation, it would be better to abolish it altogether. If the bounty were not given, the men must have a higher rate of pay, and then having served for five years they should have a right to enter into the Reserve. being bound to enter into the active service of the State in case of war. He believed this would make the Army popular, give them a, better class of recruits, and enable them to maintain an efficient Reserve Force. But after these measures were taken another reform would still be wanting—you must give to soldiers of good character and education a chance of obtaining a commission, and you could only do that by making certain modifications in the system of promotion by purchase.
said, the great object of the noble Lord the Member for Had- 1534 dingtonshire (Lord Elcho) appeared to be to establish the ballot for the Militia. The noble Lord said that if we were a Continental State we would be compelled to have recourse to conscription. As it was he supposed the noble Lord could hardly venture to recommend that system and so he confined himself to the ballot. The noble Lord the Member for Berwick (Viscount Bury) appeared to join with him in that sentiment, and the whole object appeared to be to set a mark against every man's name except the Volunteers. [Viscount BURY: I entirely repudiate that sentiment.] He (Colonel Gilpin) alluded to what the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) said about the ballot for the Militia. With regard to the reductions which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had made, perhaps it would have been more prudent if he and his Friends had not talked so much about economy during the last election, because it bound him to make certain reductions; however, he was quite sure that if the right hon. Gentleman believed any of his reductions would tend to impair the efficiency of the Army he would never have made them. He thought the right hon. Gentleman's reductions were judicious, except that one with regard to the Cavalry regiments, by which he made the squadron the unit of the regiment. He had reduced the second captain of the regiment to the position of a mere subaltern. If instead of reducing the men and officers he had reduced about forty horses that were seldom or never mounted, it would have been much better and more economical. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not, for one moment, listen to the proposal which had been made by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire to adopt the ballot in the case of the Militia. To do so would be to render the service very unpopular, although it might be very well to keep the ballot in the background. Let the House see what the Militia had done during the Indian Mutiny and the War in the Crimea without any ballot. In the course of the Crimean War we sent about 22,000 regular troops to the Crimea, and during the same time the Militia had given to the Army 30,000 trained soldiers. In the time of the Indian Mutiny much the same thing took place. He held that the consti- 1535 tutional duty of the Militia was to de-fend our shores in time of war, to garrison our fortresses, and to recruit the Regular troops. The hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. H. R. Brand) said the Army did not get good men from the Militia, that they were of idle habits; but he could tell his hon. Friend that during the Crimean War he sent eighty-six men of his regiment (the Bedford Militia) to the same branch of the service to which his hon. Friend belonged—Her Majesty's Guards. They joined the Grenadier Guards; they went into one, company, and he was informed by the adjutant that there was only one black sheep among them. [Mr. H. R. BRAND: I was speaking from the evidence given before the Military Commission.] He (Colonel Gilpin) had not read the evidence—he was speaking from facts. It was said that the Militia Reserve; had been rather a failure, but it was to be remembered that it had a very recent trial—was only put before the men at their last drill, and was imperfectly understood by them. He had endeavoured to explain it to his own men, but, as he had no official documents he could only do so imperfectly. He suggested that the men ought to be asked to volunteer not during the training only, but all the year round. He gladly admitted that the right hon. Gentleman had done much for the Militia—he hoped he would do still more, but he trusted he would not give his consent to the adoption of the ballot.
§ MR. CARDWELL
I hope it will not be expected of me that L should enter into this discussion in any controversial spirit. I feel the great importance and value of this discussion, and I gladly recognize the spirit in which the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) has brought it forward at a time when it ought to be considered, and he has expressed his own opinions and invited others to express theirs in the most temperate manner. As to the views which he has expressed. I may say that there are many of them in which I not only entirely concur, but with respect to which I think I may appeal to him to bear testimony to the fact that I have already stilted my opinion upon them to the House. I agree with my noble Friend in thinking that our Army should be small in times of peace, but capable of expansion, and that our Reserves should be large. I 1536 agree with him also in the opinion that our Reserves as Army Reserves, should be connected with the Army as independent of those other Reserves whose principal function it is to act with the Army; that is to say, they should, if possible, be rather furlough men for the Army than men who belong at the same time to the Militia and Army. I therefore agree with my noble Friend in thinking that the true basis of Army reform, as bearing upon this question, is that we should establish a shorter service—that is to say, a long enlistment, of which a portion of the service should be only in the Line, and the remainder in the Reserve. I concur, too, in the opinion that, as far as possible, those men who are to constitute a Reserve for the Army should be trained with the Army, and I think my noble Friend justly described the Militia when he said that they constituted the backbone of our defences as connected on one side with the Army and on the other with the Volunteers. I agree, moreover, with him in the opinion that so delicate a. system as the British Army, depending on voluntary recruitment, ought to be dealt with with great caution as well as vigour, and that we must not cease to enlist men under the present system, which has furnished us with a strong and reliable Army, until we have proved a new system for furnishing us with an Army of Reserve, and found how it would answer. I also think with my noble Friend that we should make, as far as we can, our civil patronage subservient to offering greater inducements to men to serve in the Army, and that: we should regard no qualification for receiving civil patronage so great as that a man had rendered services to his country in the Army. There are, however, some other points with respect to which I am not so fortunate in agreeing with my noble Friend. He has cautioned, me not to express myself too strongly as to the merits of any particular detailed plan, and I admit the wisdom of this caution, because it is, it seems to me most desirable that the fairest: opportunity should be afforded of considering any plan which may be proposed. I may, however, observe that I think twenty-one years will be found to be too long a period for a man to commit himself to at the outset as the period of his military service. Not only must, in my opinion, the service be shorter, but 1537 the period of enlistment, otherwise we shall be discouraging a large body of men from joining our standard whom we should be glad to attract to it. Then ray noble Friend is rather strongly in favour of pensions, and I cannot help remarking that in the course of this discussion one or two speakers have said that, if it were not for the question of expense, the whole matter might be easily settled. Now, I am quite sure the House of Commons will not urge the Minister for War to be regardless of the question of expense. You will be able to have, what there are in every other service, two classes—those who go on to become your non-commissioned officers and your valuable soldiers, the pivots and hinges of your Army, and those who serve for a shorter period and pass away into Reserves or into civil life. The former will earn a pension, and the latter will be no charge upon you; and I do hope that one effect of the changes which will be made will be that the large list of pensions will in future be considerably diminished. I must say that the plan suggested by my noble Friend will have great recommendations for me if, when I come to examine the figures, I find I can obtain a Reserve of 131,000 men for the sum named. I must say I suspect the figures will not bear the strict analysis to which they must be subjected before they can be practically proposed in the shape of Estimates.
Then we come to the great question, the plan which the noble Lord proposes, to resort to the ballot. On that point I will venture to offer some observations, indicating that I by no means concur in that proposition. The hon. and gallant Member for Oxfordshire (Colonel North) could not help, in the course of his friendly remarks, giving- me a slight blow on account of the reduction we made in the number of men; but he should have remembered that, though we have a smaller number of men to be charged upon the Estimates, according to the distribution provided by the Estimates we have at home a larger number of men than we have had in any recent year, and we have a larger number of battalions, which is of greater consequence, because, according to the views now generally accepted, a defensive force ought to be counted rather by the number of battalions that are at home than 1538 by the number of men, and instead of a full cadre and a small number of battalions we ought to have an expansive force to be supplied by cheap reserves. No hon. Member can attach greater importance to this subject than the Government have done since they came into Office. I conceive it to be a question of cardinal importance; it is not limited to the question of the Militia Reserve, or of the Army Reserve, or of shorter enlistments, although those are important questions, but it comprehends the whole question of the defence of this country, and therefore it comprehends the maintenance of a force which must be powerful enough for those offensive operations which a serious state of war necessarily involves. It comprehends the Navy, fortifications, garrisons, the defence of commercial harbours by new-inventions, the railway communications of the country, the supply service for large bodies of men, and the complete organization of all auxiliaries. This is no doubt a very long question, and if we look only to its bearing upon the Army and the Reserve, it is even then a very large question, and one that requires great consideration. About ten years ago there was just the same difficulty with regard to Reserves for the Navy that there is now with regard to Reserves for the Army; and my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir John Pakington), who was then First Lord of the Admiralty, appointed a Commission on which I had the honour to serve. At that time it was the opinion of many authorities that recourse must be had to naval conscription as a means of manning the Navy. If the proverb be true that in the multitude of counselors there is safety, every day brought out some new pamphlet containing information as to how we ought to man the Navy, just as now papers of great ability tell us how we should man the Army. Theo Commission was able to bring the suggestions that were offered to a focus, and I had the honour of making a proposal to the Commission. I well remember the difficulty with which at that time it was supposed to be surrounded; but it was adopted by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was then a member, it became law, and it has been put in force. At the time of the Trent outrage, though the emergency was not one which called upon the men 1539 by the conditions of their engagement to serve, they came forward avid volunteered to serve. Some of my friends in this neighbourhood have expressed doubts, continually repealed up to now, as to whether the Royal Naval Reserve is a force; on which reliance can be placed; but I hope the recent cruise has done something to dispel those doubts, and I trust it is now admitted that the difficulty of finding a Reserve for the Navy is at an end.
With regard to the Army, I hope the result of this debate will not be to give to the world the notion that because we do not maintain such an enormous Army as we regret, to see is maintained in other countries on the Continent of Europe—because we are not wasting the strength of our population by employing it in unproductive instead of in productive industry—there is really any difficulty in this country rendering itself secure against a track and the apprehension of attack. When I consider that we have the best possible frontier—the sea; when I consider the defensible size of the country; when I. think of the Navy we possess; when I consider how ready the people of this country are, by voluntary enlistment, to furnish adequate supplies of men for every branch of the military service, and when I consider the wealth and the skill which gives us the superiority over other countries in warlike material, I cannot believe that there is the least doubt of our being able to bring those materials into such a focus as to enable us to maintain our position with dignity and comfort. These things are great in their separate excellence; but are they equally admirable in their combination? There, I believe, is the true source of the evil. Hitherto there has been no complete and efficient organization at all. I believe it is our united object so to weld and consolidate every branch of the service—the Regular Army, the Militia, the Volunteers, and the Reserve Forces, that they may be animated by one spirit and directed by one purpose, and constitute together the great defensive force of our common country. My noble Friend proposes conscription. I must really ask him whether I have rightly understood his proposal. I do not understand he wishes us to resort to the ballot of the former war. I understand him to hint at a plan which is to do injury to nobody, and 1540 which yet is to be so great a deterrent that everyone will become a Volunteer for fear of being caught by the ballot. It appears to me to be rather a difficult proposition to accomplish this. The first question I ask myself is this—Why should we resort to that which, to the English mind, is not an acceptable proposal? We agreed, in considering the question of the manning of the Navy, that the Queen has a right to the service of every one of her subjects, and yet we did not revert to the old method of impressments for the defence of the country. Surely conscription ought to be our last resource. Surely we shall not have it enforced at the time when recruiting for the Regular Army never was so brisk, when we obtain all the Militiamen Parliament enables us to raise, and when the only reason why the Militia Reserve is not so full is that we have so strictly enforced conditions that a number of those who offered themselves have been rejected. As to the Volunteers, it would be an indignity and an injustice to them to say that they require any measure of this kind in order to strengthen and increase their number. What is the case? They complain that the capitation grant is inadequate—that they are giving not only their time and services, but are also compelled to give their money, to the service of the country. Even under this state of things, has there been any decrease in the number of Volunteers? Has there not, on the contrary, been a large and continuous increase? If you can recruit the Army by voluntary enlistment—if you can recruit the Militia by the same means—if the Yeomanry are full and the Volunteers are increasing, why should you talk of bringing into use that weapon which is regarded by every one as the last resort, and it has always been the great boast of England that she has never been compelled to have recourse to it? The noble Lord quoted the opinion expressed by Sir James Graham in 1860, to the effect that the regulation with regard 10 the ballot ought to be made more perfect in times of peace. I do not know whether my noble Friend is aware that in August, 1860, this House passed an Act to amend the laws relating to the ballot for the Militia. I quite agree that the law on that subject, as on all subjects, should be amended if it happens to be imperfect; but I do not think the 1541 remark of Sir James Graham applies to the Act of which I speak, and I am certainly not prepared to give any encouragement to the idea that the Government has any intention, under the present circumstances, to have recourse to any coercive process to enlist the Army. Our system of recruiting is a bounty system, and it appears to me that it may fairly be likened to that system of which we have heard so much in physics—the system of natural selection. It appeals to all the different classes of the community. Those who have a military spirit and desire to devote their lives thoroughly to the service of their country are induced to enter the Regular Army; the gentlemen of the country are invited to be officers, and they come forward gallantly to officer each of the Reserved forces. Many hon. Gentlemen whom I see opposite are conspicuous for exerting themselves as commanding officers of Militia regiments; and the Yeomanry and Volunteers are officered from the same class. When you come to the rank and file you find the agricultural labourer in the Militia, the farmer and farm servant in the Yeomanry; and as to the Volunteers, I believe I am accurate in saying that the large increase in the numbers which has lately occurred has been concurrent with a change in the classes who have joined that Force. I believe it has become much more general, and, as an hon. Friend of mine (Mr. Akroyd) stated earlier in the debate, artizans who cannot conveniently give their time for several weeks together, but are still desirous of joining in the defence of the country, willingly give their time in the evenings to become efficient members of the Volunteer Force. If you thus combine the agricultural and the urban classes by voluntary enlistment, surely there can be no reason to resort to any coercive process which, in the Great War, was found to be so exceedingly injurious, that before the close of the war it had to be given up?
Now, the question we really have to consider is—What shall the Reserves be? because I think we do not sufficiently distinguish between the two objects for which you want a Reserve. You want a Reserve to supply the wants of the Regular Army, and you want a Re-serve to act with the Army. I hope, Sir, in paying respect to every branch of the Reserves we shall not fall into the 1542 mistake of disparaging for one moment the importance of the Regular Army. Depend upon it, in speaking of Reserves you ought to bear in mind that they are Reserves of which you are speaking, and that the tiling to which they are Reserves must, after all, be your chief care. I dare say every hon. Member who hears me will remember a striking passage in that remarkable chapter by Adam Smith on the division of labour in which he refers to the division of labour in military service. He says, if division of labour is necessary for the successful prosecution of any other art, it is not less necessary in that which is the noblest and most complicated of them all, the Army; and almost, as it were, with a prescience of what is going on in our day he speaks of the multiplication of inventions, and the expense of carrying them out, as tending to the necessity for the application of a separate profession to the use of arms. He goes on to say that in ordinary occupations you may rely upon the prudence of the individual to accomplish this object, but it is only the wisdom of the State which can insure it in the military art; and he says some States have not the wisdom when experience shows them they have the necessity. He illustrates his point by saying that the history of the world has been the history of the destruction of less-trained armies by better-trained armies; that Greece and Persia were subjugated to Macedon by the well-trained armies of Philip and Alexander; and the wars of Rome and Carthage, and the wars of the later Roman Empire, all illustrate the same principle. I therefore repeat, in accordance with this doctrine, that, whatever we do with regard to the Reserves, we should always bear in mind that the most efficient state of the Regular Army is, after all, the first point to aim at in military organization. That being so, what do we require for our Reserves? I have already shown you that the Militia is easily recruited, the Yeomanry is full, the Volunteers are increasing. Each of these forces requires separate consideration; but, speaking generally, there is a body of men whom at present we have not attracted to our standard. Now, Sir, for the purpose of obtaining a Reserve for your weak battalions—for the purpose of attracting to the military service a class of men who 1543 are now discouraged from joining it by the length of the period for which they are obliged to serve if they enlist, and for the purpose of diminishing that barrier which now exists, and which makes too broad a separation between the military forces and the other classes of society—it Mould be a very great point gained if a system could be introduced combining enlistment for a longer period with actual service for a shorter period than at present. This would give us men who are willing to place themselves at the disposal of the State for a long period, and be available for Reserves during such part of the time as they were not on actual service at home or abroad. But it would not be necessary to train them with the Militia when they had completed their short period of service, because they would be more perfectly trained than the Militia at the time they retired into the Reserve; it would probably not be necessary to impose upon them the duty of an attendance more onerous in its character than that now imposed on the Volunteers, because the necessities of the case would be complied with if the men were brought up sufficiently often to prevent their forgetting what they had learnt when serving in the Regular Army. In considering this question we naturally turn to examples furnished by other countries, and our attention is particularly directed to Franco and Prussia. In France we find that after five-years' service in the Regular Army the young man expects to return to his native home and devote himself for the rest of his life to civil pursuits; in Prussia the period is even less, it is not more than three years. In the case of Prussia, however, we are met with the fact that conscription is in force, and that they have no Army abroad; while in our case we have only attraction, instead of conscription, and, in addition to this, we have the repellent influence arising from the fact that the Army may be sent at any moment to distant portions of the world. With these difficulties in our way, we are engaged in a problem which, although not insoluble, is evidently very difficult, and demands most careful consideration before a successful issue can be hoped for.
The first great practical question is this—Are we to have a separate enlistment for India, or are we to make the 1544 time of service the basis for the arrangement of a shorter service in the Army? There are two great authorities who recommend a separate enlistment for India, and who say that there should be one body of men enlisted on the ordinary condition for the British Army, and another to serve in India. Now, let me recommend to those who advocate that course the consideration of the following propositions:—First, to enlist a separate army for India would be a complete reversal of a policy which vou have recently and deliberately adopted. In the second place, it would be to establish what you never yet had—not an army for India under the Company, but an army of the Queen separate from the Regular Army. Besides, medical statistics, and the experience of every one who knows India, come to this—that for an ordinary constitution five years' service in such a climate is a sufficient time. I do not say, and I do not mean, that there may not be many men whom the climate suits very well, whom it would be convenient to re-engage, and who might be willing to re-engage, and might go on for a longer period than five years; but I do say I believe it to be an established fact that, for the ordinary constitution of the British soldier, five years' service in India is quite sufficient. Then, in the third place, men so recruited would be very apt to become what is commonly called a caste—to lose their general sympathies with what they had left behind them at home, and to acquire exclusively sympathies with the service to which they had devoted their lives. That appears to me of all feelings in the world the least we ought to encourage in the Army, the most unfavourable to discipline and to loyalty. But then I wish to know why we should deny to the British soldier the benefit of that experience which five years of Indian service gives. Let us hope we shall always have tranquility in the main in India, as well as peace at home; but, even if we are so fortunate, everybody knows that service in India is a much nearer approach to war than service within the four seas of England, and that it is very valuable to the soldier to see the preparations for military operations which he sees in India. I think, therefore, that it is very well worthy of consideration whether we should lose that advantage to the British soldier. 1545 But, above all, I should object that the Queen should have any soldier or sailor whose services she could not command in any time of need. That there should be no limit to a soldier's service in time I hold to be wrong, that there should be a limit in place I venture to think altogether objectionable. Now, it seems to me of the greatest importance to consider these three points before you determine upon a separate enlistment for an army in India. Well, then, if that be so, you come to this—that the first great question with which you have to deal in arranging the period of your shorter service is to ascertain that it is sufficiently long for the relief's to India. Upon that subject I have long been, and still am, in communication with the Indian Government, and what I will now state is this—that I confidently hope to be able to propose a period of service for the Army as short as the period which my noble Friend has pointed to which shall be consistent with Indian service, and also that the Indian service should be such as to be consistent with a shorter service in those regiments which may from time to time have to return. I am not inclined to say more on this subject, nor do I think the House will be inclined to press me to make a statement of plans more confidently, more rapidly, and more hastily than I have been able to mature and see my way to. All I can is that, from the first hour we entered upon Office, so far as my abilities have served me, we have lost no time and no opportunity in promoting this object. I have been in constant communication with His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, with my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, and others upon the subject, and I confidently hope that during the Recess Her Majesty's Government collectively may have before them a plan which they may be able to consider and adopt, and that by the opening of the next Session of Parliament I may have the honour to propose it to the House. Beyond that I am not prepared to say anything, and the time is not ripe, and I do not wish, to make hasty statements, and to come to precipitate conclusions on questions of this extreme importance. Anxious as I am for shorter service, believing as I do that shorter service is really at the root of all Army reform, nevertheless, I am as conscious as anybody can be of the im- 1546 mense importance of retaining in your Army that most valuable member of it—the old soldier. There is in Prussia, I believe, loss desire to encourage him than there used to be. The desire there, I believe, is to encourage the re-engagement of non-commissioned officers only; so I am informed. In France, on the contrary, in the time of the First Napoleon, there was the greatest possible desire to carry on, for a long period, the service of the soldier. But that desire in France is not now so great, I am told. The old soldier, in the language of the Duke of Wellington, "was the heart and soul, and courage, and strength of the regiments." But, he said, combined with the young soldier, the two together would achieve any conquest. I believe that the true principle is to have a just admixture of the old soldier and the recruit, and we are seeking to attain such an admixture as will constitute the most efficient Army we can have. To the old soldier we may apply the words that were used with regard to Banquo—'Tis much he dares,And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour.I think it would be indeed a suicidal policy if, in the pursuit of what I believe to be so great an advantage—shorter service—we were to omit to preserve to the British Army what has always been its proud characteristic—namely, the confidence which a man has in the man who stands beside him, and which gives our soldiers that solidity for which they are proverbial among the nations of the earth. I believe if, by introducing too large a proportion of new soldiers you omit to recognise the superior qualities of the old, you may commit a grave and serious mistake; but, having so guarded myself, my desire and that of the Government will be to endeavour to make the new period of service as short as we can consistently with general efficiency and economy in the service. But that is not the only subject that has attracted our attention. This great subject divides itself into many branches, and the successful conclusion of it must embrace and comprehend them all. The first point is that we should divide the country into manageable districts, within each of which there may be a staff ready to take in hand at a moment of emergency, not merely the Regular Army, but the Regular Army combined with the Militia, the 1547 Yeomanry, and the Volunteers; in short, every force that receives the payment of the House of Commons, and enjoys the commission of its Sovereign. There must also be an improvement in each Reserve separately.
With regard to the Militia, I am much indebted to my hon. Friend opposite (Colonel Gilpin) who says that we have done something already, and we shall he glad, I am sure, if other things are pointed out to us, to act in the same spirit. What we have done at present is this—we have taken power to place the Militia under general officers, and have largely, in comparison with what has been done in former times, brigaded them with the Army during the present year. The time, however, has been short, and the arrangements have not been complete; the early period at which Whitsuntide fell this year has rather interfered. We have, however, done something to brigade the Militia and the Regular Army together, and in future we shall do more. We desire to improve the position of the officers in the Militia, and to establish some efficient rules with respect to their appointment, promotion, and education. We have the greatest desire to preserve and even to increase and intensify the local feeling which animates the men. We have not the smallest wish to take away from any of the local authorities or local gentlemen any share—if there be such—of patronage or influence; but, on the other hand, we feel assured that no Lord Lieutenant, and no country gentleman would wish that we should be debarred from laying down the strictest rules. For instance, I may just notice, in passing, that we have recently known more clearly, perhaps, than before—but I believe that our predecessors knew it also—that there has been a system of purchase in this Reserve Force. [Lord ELCHO: With regard to adjutancies.] I had them in my mind. Well, if by increased strictness of rule we can prevent a manifest abuse of that kind. I trust no feeling of local patronage Mould interfere. Then the examination and education of Militia officers are questions that will and do engage our attention. But as the Commission upon the Education of Officers in the Army is just now about to report, it would naturally be desirable that we should wait to see what the Commissioners recommend 1548 for the Army before we proceed to lay down rides for the Militia.
Then there is a very difficult subject which I am almost afraid to name, but I am considering, as well as I can, what is to go on in reference to the billeting of the Militia. I hope I may not be under-stood as entering into any engagement about the matter, because I am not in a state of information which would justify me in doing so; but this I say, that I am making the best inquiry I can into the subject, and shall endeavour to deal with it to the best of my power for the purpose of getting rid, as far as practicable, of the evils connected with it. Then, with regard to giving better arms to the Militia, the limited means at my disposal have not enabled me to do much; and I see opposite a gallant and distinguished Militia Officer (Major Walker), who would have been glad if I had distributed breech-loaders more generally to that force. But still I think I have shown him that, considering the limited number at our disposal, we have been desirous to go as far as we could in that direction. With respect to the Yeomanry, about which an hon. Friend of mine (Sir Henry Hoare) proposes to raise a controversy, all I can say at present is this—that the Yeomanry are armed with the worst possible weapon—a weapon which is entirely useless, and which, looking at the modern state of things, I might almost term ridiculous. I suppose, however, that it is not their fault, but rather ours. Well, I have given directions that this may be remedied as speedily as possible. The Yeomanry are not likely, in my opinion, to take the field as a regular cavalry against an invading enemy. But when you consider the exceeding smallness of your present cavalry force, when you consider the number of outpost duties and escorts which must be provided for if you mean to have such a force at all, it is quite clear that your present amount of regular cavalry is not sufficient for all those purposes. It is equally clear that those duties must be scattered over a very large surface of the country; that, in short, every part of the country must be prepared with its own means of escort and outpost service. It is also quite clear that those who would perform such service most efficiently are those who are well acquainted with the highways and by ways of the country, and aware of the 1549 means of accomplishing it most quickly and successfully. With regard to actual conflict, I think it will be the opinion of everybody who knows the force that it would be more useful as mounted rifle-men than as cavalry, and as mounted riflemen I believe that many of the Yeomanry would prove very efficient. They are the only surviving portion of the old Volunteer Force; and I hope that, in examining the whole of our Reserve Force in concert with the distinguished men by whom the Yeomanry are commanded, we may be able to make them not only efficient mounted riflemen, but efficient cavalry for the purposes to which I have just referred—namely, for escorts, outpost duty, and so forth.
Now I come to the Force in which my noble Friend is so honourably distinguished—the Volunteers. What I hope we shall succeed in doing in regard to them is this:—I assure my noble Friend that I have no desire in any way to contradict the opinions expressed by him, and, as I understand, by those high authorities, General M'Murdo and Colonel Erskine, as to putting the Volunteers in time of peace under obligations essentially onerous, and likely to deter them from remaining connected with the Force. But the noble Lord the Member for Berwick (Viscount Bury), I believe, said there is no organization of the Volunteers. I am not sure that I should have been able to go quite as far as that; but, as the noble Lord himself has said it, I shall accept the statement. I quite concur in everything that has been said in praise of the Volunteers, and I do not say this now for the first time. I have felt it warmly ever since the original institution of the Force, and at that period I expressed a hope that it would not be limited—as it was then, when no capitation grant was made to the Force—to the higher classes of society. I then felt sure that the time must come when it would include, and be recruited from, every portion of the community. I am extremely glad to see that day has arrived. But I must repeat that there are four conditions to be fulfilled in regard to the Volunteers which I ventured to lay down once before—namely, there must not be in any one district more corps than are wanted; there must be a greater proportion of what are called "extra efficient" to the whole body of Volunteers; there must be some organi- 1550 zation by which we can know that the officers are not merely respected for their agreeable and social qualities, but that they possess some peculiar fitness for the commands which they hold; and, lastly, if we are asked to propose an additional Vote, we ought to be able to satisfy Parliament that the additional Vote we propose has in itself a direct tendency to promote efficiency. I will not now enter at greater length into that part of the case, because, as my noble Friend has stated, he has received a circular which has been issued from the War Office. That circular is only part of an examination which is going on there to see what the real state of the case is as to the necessary expenditure of the Volunteers; and when next month arrives, bringing with it the great event at Wimbledon, I hope, with the assistance of my noble Friend and other leaders of the Force who may meet me in the Recess, to be able to establish rides which will be reasonable and right for the public on the one side, and not unacceptable to the Volunteers on the other.
In regard to the Pensioners—in describing whose appearance one might fancy that my noble Friend had old Edie Ochiltree in his eye—I would take leave to mention an anecdote. Happening myself to be at Plymouth the other day, the general officer commanding there told me he was going to inspect the Pensioners on the next morning, and asked me whether I should like to see them. Early next morning I walked to the ground and found Sir Charles Slaveley inspecting some 400 of the Pensioners. They were covered with medals, and were as upright, and, as far as I could judge, as young as my noble Friend or myself. They were provided with breech-loaders which they had just received; and Sir Charles Stately remarked to me that a force more admirably calculated for the defence of those great works at Plymouth—by which we were surrounded—it was impossible to imagine. I do not know whether they or my noble Friend, or myself, could go through all the hardships of a campaign. On that I do not profess to give an opinion; but I do believe that, as a Reserve for the defence of this country, you have in those Pensioners as admirable a force as you could desire.
Another very important point which I 1551 must notice is this:—If you are to have this organization, and to have it distributed through manageable districts, you must have not only the men, but the requisite Staff. Now, I cannot come down and ask the House to give money for an increased Staff unless I can present a satisfactory account of the Staff which already exists; and when I say that we have now in the War Department a Staff for the Militia, a Staff for the Yeomanry, a Staff for the Volunteers, a Staff for the Pensioners, and a Staff for the Recruiting. I cannot help asking myself—Is it not possible, by some re-arrangement and re-distribution, to effect some economy that would be useful? Well, we are also engaged on that task—of course, no simple or easy one. By these various means—and I must say that we are receiving the greatest assistance from His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief—we hope to bring these measures into a form in which they can best undergo the collective consideration of the Government and be afterwards submitted to Parliament. I trust that when finished they will fulfil the conditions which Sir John Burgoyne laid down in a recent letter, and which I venture to say I anticipated in my speech introducing the Estimates—namely, that we should have in time of peace a small Army, but one capable of expansion, and a Reserve Force at once large and ready to be added to the Army in time of war.
In conclusion, let me briefly recapitulate what these arrangements involve. They involve, first, a larger number of battalions at home; next, that the cadres of regiments should be retained with reduced numbers; that there, should be proper Reserves to fill up the regiments when needed: that the position of officers of the Militia should be improved; that there should be proper rules for their appointment and education; that the quotas of the Militia should be revised, and that the force should be trained in a greater degree by Army officers. Then there is the proposal for brigading the Volunteers and Militia with the Army. We also intend to revise the Yeomanry so as to make it effective, to re-organize the Volunteer Force, and to re-divide the country into manageable districts, in order that there may be a 1552 system of military drill and discipline throughout all the services into which the Force is to be divided. Then the Staffs to which I have referred will require to be re-arranged, and we shall have to propose a shorter term of enlistment. Lastly, we shall have to make new arrangements respecting the supply services. If this task is to be done in. such a manner that the result will be an Army available not only for homo but also for foreign since, and if it is to be done with reasonable regard to the demands which we shall have to make in future years upon the liberality of Parliament. I trust I have shown it is one which cannot be thrown off in an easy manner in the course of a few days or weeks; but, on the contrary, one which is deserving of the gravest and most laborious attention, and which requires the utmost exertions before it can be put into form, so as to be fit to be presented to the House. I only hope the result may be that the forces this country possesses will become so compacted and united, that whoever may be responsible, when any emergency arises, for the home defence of the country will be able to bring the whole Force at once into a state of activity. If my noble Friend will excuse me, I shall decline to follow him into those points concerning foreign affairs which, he touched upon in his peroration; but I may say that I cordially and entirely sympathize with the opinion he expressed—that in time of emergency we ought to be ready to act with vigour, and that in time of peace we ought to be able to enjoy, with security and dignity, the blessings of peace.
§ COLONEL WILSON-PATTEN
said, it was not his intention to follow his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War through the main topics on which he had dwelt in the course of his speech. He would confine his observations almost entirely to that branch of the service with which he was most intimately acquainted—the Militia. Though he did not agree in all points with the right hon. Gentleman, he had listened to his speech with great pleasure. He was sure that the House and the country would be glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to go into the whole question raised by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), in order to attain the ob- 1553 ject they all had in view—the establish- men of a powerful Army and Reserve. He thanked the noble Lord for having brought the question forward, although he could not say that he agreed either with the: noble Lord or with the noble Lord the Member for Berwick (Viscount Bury) in the disparaging estimate they had formed of the country's defences, He certainly could not agree with the noble Lord the Member for Haddington-shire, that the country was now in as undefended a state as it was during the time of the Crimean War. The Army generally was, in all its branches., in a more efficient state than it was in the time of the Crimean War. The same remark was applicable to the Militia. Both noble Lords seemed to ignore the fact that we had now a force of 160,000 Volunteers, which was not then the case, and he regretted that they should give it to be understood by the public that they took that view of our defences which they had expressed that evening. The subject which the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire had brought forward was, he at the same time admitted, one which was deserving the best attention of the Government and of Parliament. A great deal might, he thought, be done to render the Militia more efficient, and he should like to know whether the Government intended to give up that part of the Army Reserve drawn from the Militia, as recommended by General Peel. He should regret that any such step as that should be taken, for whatever merits a strictly defined Army Reserve might possess, a force of 26,000 men drawn from the Militia at the small animal cost of £25,000 was very valuable, and he did not think it would be easy to secure the services of an equal number of men at so cheap a rate. He would, in the next place, suggest that the reason why the Reserve from, the Militia had not been found to be so large as might have been expected was due to one or two causes which his right hon. Friend might find it possible to remove. When the men came to look at the terms of enlistment they found that some of them were such as to discourage them from joining the Re- serve, and to render their enlistment liable to abuse. He alluded especially to the regulations under which men were prevented from getting married. Some of the finest men whom, he had seen come 1554 forward to enrol themselves in the Reserve had been rejected on the ground that they had got wives, while the services of every man who was not married at the time of his enlistment, but who married within a year from that time, were lost. Now, that he looked upon as an impolitic regulation. What an Army of Reserve meant was an Army that would not be called upon except in times of war; and when a crisis of that nature arose it certainly was not the custom to refuse to enlist men simply because they were married. Were this principle carried out some of the best men who could be obtained would be rejected. He was persuaded that if the restriction with respect to marriage were removed, the enlistment for the Army of Reserve would receive a great impetus. The Secretary of State for War had calculated a good deal upon what was to result from the introduction of the ballot. He (Colonel Wilson-Patten) was entirely opposed, with his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bedfordshire (Colonel Gilpin), to its introduction, into our Militia, as suggested. That force was kept up by means of volunteering, and he could not see how the ballot method could be adopted successfully. Those who advocated tin's change seemed to have forgotten what was the effect of the ballot during the late general war. Towards the close of that contest, an universal remonstrance was made against the system by almost every general officer in the kingdom, and it was finally abandoned on account of its proving so detrimental to recruiting for the general Army. His own opinion was, that no system could be devised which would be so unfair, so unsatisfactory, and, he might even add, so iniquitous. In some cases it was immaterial whether men entered the Militia or not, but in others it was positive ruin to men to be obliged to go out for a month's training in the course of the year. They were obliged to give up occupations on which their livelihood depended. If the service of the country required the ballot, of course it ought to be adopted, because everything must give way to the service of the country; but he could not understand why the ballot system should be thought necessary when the requisite number of men were now secured by the voluntary system. An objection had been raised to the process of filtering, as it were, the 1555 men through the Militia into the Regular Army. He might refer to his own experience upon the point. At the time of the Crimean War he had the honour of commanding' a. Militia regiment, and at that time the theory of his right hon. Friend was strongly in vogue—that the Militia should be kepi intact: but it could not be acted upon. When recruits were, wanted for the Regular Army, and they could not be found elsewhere an onslaught was made upon the Militia regiments, which were decimated and left in a. very inefficient state. True, 35,000 men were in that way furnished to the Army: but that, with one or two untoward circumstances, had the effect of rendering the Militia for a time inadequate for its purpose. He was anxious that in future the Militia should be prepared for a similar emergency: he desired that those who served in that force should know what was expected of them. so that there might not be a repetition of the onslaught to which he had alluded. He believed that much might be done by a relaxation of some of the regulations by which recruiting for the Army Reserve was now restricted. No doubt the new regulations which his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War had already made would be beneficial to the officers of Militia regiments, and he tendered his thanks to his right hon. Friend; but he thought that more might be done in that way. and he hoped the subject would continue to engage his right hon. Friend's attention. The Militia regiments were generally officered by the sons of the principal resident country gentlemen: but very often those young gentlemen did not reside in the county to which their regiments belonged, but in counties at perhaps the other end of England. To join their regiments was often attended with heavy expense. He thought, therefore, that it; might be well to allow Militia officers something in the way of travelling expenses from their bonâ fide residences when they wore obliged to travel distances in the discharge of their duty. Then, with regard to adjutants, he might suggest that the retiring pensions were so small as not to be an inducement to those officers to retire, even when it was very desirable that they should do so. Many of them could not afford to retire on the pension now allowed to them. He thought it would be desirable to give the present, adjutants a larger retiring 1556 pension. The existing scale might be continued for adjutants joining hero-after, who might be appointed with a limitation as to length of service. the sale of adjutantcies which was now carried on must be detrimental to the efficiency of the regiments. Before sitting down he wished to make a few remarks upon a point relating to the general Army. He had had the honour of serving on the Army Recruiting Commission, and he knew that the evidence taken by it showed that the system of short service in the Army was beneficial. It made the Army more popular with the class from which recruits were had; but he ventured to warn his right hon. Friend against going too far in that direction. It was stated, and stated truly, that a great body of the Prussian troops engaged at the battle of Sadowa were men of only three or four years' standing; but it must be remembered that the Prussian Army was raised by conscription, so that in Prussia there was a very wide area from which to take troops. No doubt this was a particularly favourable season for recruiting, and he was glad his right hon. Friend had taken advantage of it to get rid of men of bad character: but, taking one season with another, he did not believe the area from which we got recruits for the Army would be sufficient to supply us with the requisite number of men if we made the service too short. We must recruit our Army out of a small portion of the community, and. therefore, if we made the service too short we should find it difficult to keep up an Army of 150,000. He had heard the speech of his right hon. Friend with much pleasure, and though hon. Members might differ from him (Mr. Cardwell) in respect of some parts of it, he believed general satisfaction Mould be experienced by the House at the earnestness displayed by his right hon. Friend.
§ MR. T. HUGHES
said, he had for some years been of opinion that the ballot system would work well in establishing a good Army of Reserve. He had taken considerable pains to ascertain what the opinions were of those classes to whom the proposed ballot would principally apply, and he had come to the conclusion that the system would not be objectionable to those persons. At the present moment there might be no need for the ballot system; but it was quite 1557 impossible for anybody to come to any other conclusion than that when the pre- sent depression of trade wore off, and the industry of the country recovered its tone, industrial pursuits more lucrative than service in the Army would have the effect of keeping men from enlisting Indeed, his belief was that they could not keep up the necessary number of soldiers without establishing some such arrangement as that suggested by the noble Lord who introduced the question. He thought the proposal of the noble Lord very good and moderate, and he did not think it would at all prove unpopular. He believed that the dread of the ballot had been entirely re-moved, and that no ill-feeling against the service would be produced by the introduction of the system. An important element in connection with the question was the spirit which had been introduced by the development of rifle shooting as a national sport. He thought that, this practice put a power in the hands of every Secretary of State which was capable of being worked well, but which had never as yet been properly appreciated. If he had understood the proposals of the noble Lord correctly, it was not intended to introduce into the services anything in the nature of compulsion. Everyman might choose his own service, while the principle would be distinctly recognized that he was bound to serve in some way, and to make himself competent to serve. For instance, men could, if they liked, escape the ballot by becoming efficient Volunteers. The ballot would consequently have a good effect on the Volunteer service. Complaints had been made of the want of discipline among Volunteer corps. The great remedy for that want of discipline was the weapon of dismissal. If they succeeded in making dismissal a penalty they would soon improve the efficiency of the men and increase their number. When efficient service in the Volunteer Force would free a man from the ballot, an inducement would be offered that would have the effect of materially improving the effective force of the Volunteer service. With respect to the Capitation Grant to the Volunteers which had been referred to, it seemed to him that the present system was calculated to produce bad effects. As long as a commanding officer received £1 a head dimply for every man 1558 he brought into the ranks, the proper discipline of the Force was out of the question, and the Force would not work satisfactorily. Inefficient and rich officers would simply keep up numbers by excessive expenditure. He would recommend that, in place of increasing the Capitation Grant, the commanding officers should be required to give in a certified account of the sums expended on head-quarters, ranges, travelling expenses, care of arms, and, perhaps, also bands; and that the Government should repay the exact disbursements under those heads. The charge for butts, in particular, was found by the London corps to be exceedingly onerous: and he thought it would be good policy on the part of the Government to provide two or three large ranges for the metropolis, to which none but members of the military services should be allowed access. He could not sit down without joining with the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him in thanking the noble Lord who had introduced the subject, and expressing the pleasure with which he had listened to much of the speech of the Secretary of State for War, and the statements he had made respecting the intention of the Government.
COLONEL LOYD LINDSAY
said, he regretted he had not had an opportunity of addressing the House upon this subject at an earlier period of the debate. Representing as lie did a corps which the noble Lord the Member for Haddington-shire (Lord Elcho) had described as: being the most distinguished, and which was certainly the most ancient, corps of the Reserve forces of this country, he felt bound to address a few observations to the House before the subject was disposed of. His corps was formed even before the days of Henry VIII.; it took part under arms against the Spanish Armada, it was reviewed by Queen Elizabeth, it took part in the civil wars, and had numbered among its officers Prince Rupert, Prince Charles, and many other renowned military captains, and even down to the present day it, furnished an admirably efficient force of horse, foot, and artillery, without costing the State a single farthing—it was to the Honourable Artillery Company of London that he was referring. The question raised by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire turned very much on the subject of enlistment. He agreed 1559 with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and with hon. Members who had spoken previously, that the popularity of enlistment by ballot had gained ground very much in this country. It was no longer considered the hardship that it once was. When men could take their turn in the Volunteer service, and by that means become exempt from the Militia ballot, the hardship had to a great extent diminished. It was said to be a hardship to the humbler class. But it appeared to him that thy whole burden of' maintaining the Militia fell on them, and surely it would be no grievance to that class to say that other portions of the community should also take their share in the defence of the country. People were not asked to go out of this country, but only to take on themselves the duty of obtaining a knowledge of the use of arms, so that if the kingdom were attacked they might be able to fight in its defence. Though the Law of Ballot was on the statute book, yet it had been, so long hung up that it was become quite rusty: and when they wanted to use it they would find they could not draw the sword from the scabbard, and if they kept it on the statute book they should use it. There was no more hardship in balloting a man to learn the use of arms to defend his country than there was in compelling a man to educate his children, as many hon. Gentlemen were now prepared to do. Besides, it was the only way in which we could diminish the great expense, that was so constantly complained of. Constant wails about expense were entirely out of place. we must either make the ballot compulsory, or pay a proper sum to those who undertook the defence of the country. It was idle to compare the cost of foreign with that of English soldiers, because, as every-one know, in Prance, Prussia, and even in Switzerland, soldiers were enlisted by ballot. It was useless, therefore, to say that the English soldier cost £100. while the French soldier cost only £40; the conditions were so different. It appeared to him that there was not sufficient military character about the Militia. Its ranks were no doubt filled with soldiers; but commissioned officers were not to be had for it. He should be glad to see the Militia made a real Reserve, and its regiments constituted as second battalions of the regiments of the Line. If they looked into the Army List they would 1560 find every regiment was named after a county from which it was originally enlisted, but now the regiments had no connection with the counties. He had looked out in the Army List for battalions of the Line which bore the names of the following counties:—Oxfordshire, Berkshire. Bucks, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, and Rut-landshire. He had selected these counties because they lay geographically contiguous and had railway communication which intersected them. These counties had regiments of Militia and Volunteers. Oxfordshire had about 800 Volunteers and 1.000 Militia: Berkshire about the same number: Bucks, 400 Volunteers and 700 Militia, and so on, making altogether a force of 11,500 Volunteers and Militia. Why should not the regiments of the Line which were named after those counties be associated with their regiments of Militia and Volunteers? Take, for example, the 66th Regiment. It bore the name of the Berkshire; Regiment of the Line. Its depot was at the Curragh at present. Take, again, the 48th Northamptonshire Regiment. Its depot was at Colchester. It should be at Northampton, where there are admirable barracks, and where they would be very welcome. Why should not the Militia of Northampton be a second battalion and recruiting battalion to this 48th Regiment? He believed they were to have sixty-one regiments at home, and it would be well to let the Line regiments go to the counties from which they were named, and have between them and the Militia regiments belonging to those counties a mutual interchange of officers. It would be well to have the adjutants of Militia and Volunteer regiments appointed from the Line regiments named from the counties to which the Militia and Volunteers belong. Their quartermasters should also be chosen from the Line regiments. The Staff Serjeants of the Militia were not so serviceable a body as they ought to be. For eleven months of the year they had nothing to do, and for one month they were very much overworked; and it would be much better for them that they should be "brushed up" occasionally by being sent back to the Line. The Staff of the Militia cost, he believed, something like £220,000 a year, and yet they were employed only one month of the year: the rest of the year they were 1561 doing nothing, or harm to themselves, he should be glad to see the Line regiments sending down a number of young sergeants to drill the Militia. If they would make the Militia second battalions, and recruiting battalions for the Line, which would be an easy thing to do, they could have a more efficient staff of sergeants than they had at present to drill their Militia. The counties he had named were situated in a group, and he was glad to hear the right hon. Gentlemen announce his intention to re-organize the military districts, in order that greater facilities might be given for the organization of the Reserved Forces. A letter had been read from the General in command of the Manchester district, stating that he had a large force under his command, but that if he wanted suddenly to call it out, he had no organization to enable him to do so. The system ought to be so arranged that at the first whisper of alarm every man belonging to every regiment should be able to go to his appointed post like a ship's crew when beat to quarters. The recruiting for the Militia should be of a very simple character, and he entirely disagreed with the plan of giving men two bounties for doing something which it was impossible they could do. They could not be both Militia and Army men. We had at pro-sent a miserable Reserve, and it would be found to be unsatisfactory the moment it was called upon. Instead of a miserable Reserve, we ought to have a very powerful and strong Reserve. The standing Army of this country must, as it seemed, be a small Army, but it should be efficient according to its numbers, and capable of rapid expansion. The only Reserve we could look to was the Militia, and he thought that this Force should engage for general service for the five years. He did not believe that Militia- men supposed for one moment they were never to serve their country abroad. On the contrary, he was persuaded that those who entered the Militia would be as ready to undertake to engage in foreign service as to remain at home, Our present Reserve was quite insufficient, and if it wore not increased we should find ourselves at the outbreak in the same difficulty in which we had been placed during the Crimean War, when every sort of trickery and rascality had to be resorted to for the purpose of ob- 1562 taining recruits. At length Parliament was obliged to raise the pay of the soldier, and 6d. a day was added to his pay, with the best results. Few persons realized the rapidity with which soldiers were used up in service in the field, not alone from wounds and death inflicted by the enemy, but from sickness and casualties. In the regiment with which he served in the Crimea 1,200 men were sent out within seventeen months to recruit it from home, and at the end of that time the regiment was no stronger than when it went out. The period of enlistment had been a short time ago increased from ten to twelve years, and now the Secretary of State proposed to shorten that period. But it appeared to him Colonol Loyd Lindsay) that such a measure ought only to be carried into effect very gradually, or rather, that it ought not to be adopted at all. In the French Army the Government applied the large sums of money received from, theremplaÇants in buying back the old soldiers. They thus retained the best class of soldiers, who were transferred to the carps délite, and these corps délite wore always brought to the front at moments of emergency. We had no corps d'élite; our regiments were taken as they stood: but all the French Generals who had made a name as soldiers had commanded one of those corps d'élite, and had distinguished themselves in this capacity. It was a great advantage to retain the old soldiers in an Army, and if the Government reduced the term of enlistment from twelve years to five they would make a great mistake which it would be impossible to go back from.
MR, HUSSEY VIVIAN
said, he was one of those who looked with great alarm at the expenditure incurred by this country for its military service. It appeared to him that a sum approaching £l3,000,000 was an amount which it was almost wicked to spend on the military branch of our public service. He was ready to vote any sum that might be really required for the defence of the country: but his firm conviction was that we were subjecting ourselves for that object to an unnecessarily large expenditure. He believed that we might have a very large and efficient Reserve, and at the same time immensely reduce the expenditure on our military service; and it was because he felt convinced that the establishment of an efficient Reserve 1563 would enable us to effect that reduction of expenditure, that he very strongly supported such a proposal. We had a standing Army of about 127,000 men. exclusive of the Army of India, and we had a Militia Force of some 134,000 men. Now he found that the direct Votes involved in the maintenance of the standing Army, including the non-effective branch, amounted to £10,929,000; while the Votes under the same head for the Militia amounted to only £1,041,000. That was clearly an enormous disproportion between the cost of the two forces. He did not propose for a moment to abolish the standing Army; but he proposed greatly to increase our Militia, and sensibly to reduce the standing Army; and he had no doubt that if that were done the country would be placed in a better defensive position than it held at present, and many millions of money Mould be saved. The question arose whether the Militia could or could not be considered an effective force, and the answer to that question must depend very much on the nature of the organization of that branch of our military service. They would do much to make the Militia efficient if they insisted that every Militiaman should be well drilled once for all: and they should take care that every Militia officer should be fully qualified for the discharge of his duties. The question really came to this, whether they could so train their Militiamen as to form them into efficient soldiers. He did not pretend to be a soldier; but he had raised a Volunteer regiment, and he had commanded it for ten years, and he believed he knew something of what constituted a private soldier. His impression was that the training required to make a man a private soldier need only extend over a limited period. He agreed with those who thought that a high state of discipline could not be attainable during a limited period of training; but if the Militia were called upon to face an enemy he had no doubt that they would soon imbibe the same sentiments of discipline, as their brethren in the standing Army. If they could, within a limited period, cause the Militiaman to become an efficient soldier, they would attain the great object of establishing an efficient Reserve. The most important, perhaps, of all those questions was that which related to the officers. He was 1564 fully sensible that the great weakness of the Volunteer Force lay in the officers. As far as his experience went he had learnt to value rather lightly the training of private soldiers: but he valued very highly the training of officers, lie was convinced they had a stratum from which they might draw officers which they had never before reached, He meant the stratum from which they drew their Volunteer Force—their middle classes, their clerks, and others, to whom a certain moderate payment might be a matter of great importance. He believed that by offering to those men a sum of some £30 or £40 a year they could obtain a large number of most efficient Militia officers. There were, besides, a number of officers who had retired from, the Regular Army, and who found themselves totally unlit for the business of civil life, who would be very glad to engage in the new service. One of the most curel positions in this country was that of officers who, after a few years of service, retired without being qualified to enter any other profession. They all knew, when any paltry office became. vacant—such, for instance, as that of the command of a county police—[A laugh]—he meant paltry in point of remuneration—what numbers of persons applied for it. That office had not long-since become vacant in the county he had the honour to represent, and he was perfectly astonished on examining the testimonials of the different applicants at the high character and the long and meritorious services of many of those gentlemen. He believed that if commands in the Militia were thrown open to retired Army officers most effective candidates would present themselves for those commands, and an enormous benefit would be secured for our national force. A force of that kind would, he thought, be a better one than any other. Every Englishman when he drew his first breath incurred a Liability to defend his country. As to the ballot, so long as they were able to fill up their ranks without the ballot he would be the last man to have recourse to it; if, however, the necessity of the country required a certain number of Militiamen, and if they could not raise such numbers without the ballot he should not hesitate to resort to it. But the Militia should be purely a defensive force. As to the Reserve, it should not be an Army 1565 Reserve, but a Reserve for defensive purposes. The Volunteer Force was a most important Force of defence; but it was not so reliable a Force as could be desired. If an emergency arose the Volunteer Force would no doubt be consolidated and respond to the call of the country; but it would take considerable time to organize it so as to make it thoroughly effective. At present there was no organization which would en- able them to take the field for twenty-four hours, for they had no great coats, no tents, and no commissariat arrangements. His belief was that if the House agreed to increase the Militia force to some 300,000 or 400,000 men, the country would be placed beyond the possibility of invasion, and the standing Army might be so far reduced as to save about £47000,000 per annum.
§ MAJOR WALKER
maintained that the adoption of the system of the ballot would be most dangerous for the popularity of the Militia service, and would £111 the ranks with men who had no love of soldiering in them. It would also inflict a blow on the efficiency of the force, for by the ballot men of every social class would be drawn into the service, and the higher the class the greater would the burden be felt, so that ultimately the terms of service would have to be assimilated to those of a National Guard. It was the wish of the country that the Militia should be made less local, and should be more connected with the Army, and believing that those results could not be attained by a system based on conscription, he trusted that the Government would pause before adopting the ballot. The demand for the ballot arose from a misconception that the Militia system, based on a voluntary enlistment, was more or less a failure. [Lord ELCHO: In war.] The Militia, as now constituted, were not called out for training before 1852, and yet that force supplied 35,000 men to the Line during the Crimean War. Therefore the country had no reason to be ashamed of what the Militia had done. Since that period the Militia force had increased both in numbers and efficiency, and what was now wanted for it was not revolution, but reform, and he was glad to hear the Secretary for War state that some important points, connected with an improved organization of the Militia, were now receiving atten- 1566 tion. He also rejoiced to learn that it was intended to exact stricter tests as to the education and efficiency of officers. With respect to the men, it was important that the period for the preliminary training of the recruits should be extended; for the preliminary training constituted the most important period of their education, as they were then more open to receive instruction than at any other period. He, therefore, trusted that the preliminary training would, as soon as possible, be extended from fourteen days to twenty-eight. It was also most desirable that the training of what were called Volunteer non-commissioned officers should be increased. As to the Staff sergeants of Militia, they were, from his own experience, a most able, trustworthy, intelligent, and hard-working body of men, and through their exertions the Militia recruits were brought on very rapidly. It was said that they were only employed one month in a year, but that was not the ease, for they were placed in a strict course of drill for some time before the annual training, and the actual work which the training involved occupied six weeks, so that altogether they were engaged not less than three months in the year. He did not say that they might not, be still further utilized, and he had suggested on the establishment of the Volunteer force that the Volunteers might be drilled by Militia staff sergeants. He believed that, if the Militia were fairly dealt with, it might be made not indeed a force which, a keen-eyed adjutant Mould pronounce faultless, but a force thoroughly military in its instincts and constitution, perfectly ready to undertake the garrison duty of the country in time of war, thoroughly able to manœuvre in conjunction with the Regular Army—a force, in fact, to which any General might apply the words of the present Commander-in-Chief when, after reviewing twelve battalions of Militia, he called the mounted officers to the front, and in frank, soldier-like phrase said—"I should be proud to command such a force on any service; and, gentlemen, I am quite sure we should not be licked."
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he thought that with our increasing population there would be no difficulty in filling up our numbers in the Army. There was no disinclination on the part of the men to enter the Militia, but there was a diffi- 1567 culty in filling up the lower grades of officers. No Army could be efficient which was not accustomed to camp life, and we should, therefore, do what our neighbours did, and camp three-fourths of our whole Army out for three months in the year. In this way the French soldier was taught how to take care of himself in certain positions, and learnt that which it was quite impossible for him to learn except under canvas.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, be- fore the debate closed, he hoped the House would allow him to add a very few words to what had been already stated. We lived in a time of great surprises; but, he confessed, he had seldom been more surprised than at hearing noble Lords and hon. Members on both sides of the House, and those who ranked high in the Liberal party, coming forward in the course of this discussion and declaring their unqualified de- sire at once to adopt the ballot in the Militia. He was glad to hear from the Secretary of State for Way, that he. at any rate, did not sanction that principle, and it was really hard to understand upon what ground his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) and other hon. Members had urged it. He would not go over the ground so ably taken by the Secretary of State for War, by reminding the House how rapidly new men now entered the Militia and the Regular Army: but he should have thought that if there was a time at which the ballot was not necessary, it was this. He apprehended the House would agree with him, that we ought to retain the ballot box on the statute book, but that it must be hung up in our armoury, as being one of the most important arms that we must reserve for times of emergency. He entirely agreed with his right hon. Friend that it ought to be our last resource, and that we ought not to think of strengthening our national force by the ballot, except under obvious and admitted cases of extreme necessity. He joined, most willingly, in what had been stated on all sides, as to the spirit in which his noble Friend, whatever Government might be in power, had pressed this subject with admirable perseverance on the consideration of Parliament, and had reminded them, with truth, that it was in time of peace that we ought to make our preparations, and organize our Re- 1568 serves. In addition to the necessity of the ballot, his noble Friend had urged two things—first, the necessity of organizing an Army of Reserve: and, next, that we should do well to adopt the system recommended by Sir Hope Grant—a long enlistment, with a comparatively short active service; so that there might be a margin available for service in the Reserve. He had listened with unqualified satisfaction to the testimony borne by almost every Member who had spoken, to the great importance and value of our old constitutional force—the Militia. Passing to the speech of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, he was sorry to be obliged to characterize it as a speech of fair promises and little performance. That such was the ease he was, he must confess, somewhat surprised, because a considerable interval of time had elapsed since his right him. Friend had moved the Army Estimates—when the several subjects which had been discussed that evening had been entered into at length. lie had, under these circumstances, come down to the House in the full hope that he would have heard from the right hon. Gentleman to what extent he intended to organize the Army Reserve, and what the plan of the Government was with respect to that most important subject. The question was not a now one. It had been before the country for several years: and during the tenure of Office of the late Government, important steps had been taken by his right hon. and gallant Friend, General Peel—who, he regretted to say, was not among them on the present occasion—with the view to the adoption of a Reserve system. The steps which General Peel took consisted mainly of two parts; the one being an arrangement for constituting a Reserve force by means of Volunteers from the Militia regiments. By some hon. Members, objections were made to that mode of strengthening our Reserve; but he, for one, saw no good reason why it should not be persevered in, for he looked upon it as a most valuable way of increasing our Reserve force. The other portion of the plan, which had reference do twelve years' service, might perhaps, better be abandoned, if a more efficient scheme could be devised. he came, in the next place, to that part of the statement of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War which related to 1569 a system of limited service combined with a system of Army Reserve. On that point he hoped the House would have from the right hon. Gentleman a more distinct statement as to what the intentions of the Government really were; for, as yet, it had only been told that in a future Session of Parliament they would probably be informed as to what the extent was to be of the diminished period of service. He was glad, he might add, to hear what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, as to the custom which had grown up in the Militia and Volunteers of purchasing adjutantcies, and he trusted the subject would not be lost sight of by the Government.
said, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had fairly characterized the speech of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War when he spoke of it as a speech of fair promises but very little performance. The right hon. Gentleman contended, that there was no justification for his right hon. Friend not having given fuller information to the House as to what the Government proposed to do with respect to the creation of a Reserved Force, because the question was one which had long occupied the attention of the country. The right hon. Gentleman himself had, however, been nearly two years Secretary for War, and what, he should like to know, had he done in the matter during that time? Absolutely nothing, On the other hand, his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War had taken the first preliminary step to any reform of the Army—namely, bringing home a larger number of regiments than had ever been in this country before he had already brigaded the Militia force; he had improved the condition of the Militia officers to a certain ex-tent, and all the Militia officers who had taken part in this debate had congratulated his right hon. Friend on what he had already done. The right hon. Baronet asked whether his right hon. Friend intended to abandon the Militia Reserve. So far from abandoning it, his right hon. Friend expected this year to gel from that Reserve Force about 8,000 men, in spite of the very rigid regulation against taking married men into the Militia. It was a question whether in future years that regulation should be maintained. The object of 1570 that regulation was, in the event of a man being called out to serve, to prevent his leaving a wife and children behind chargeable on the parish. His right hon. Friend had told the House that the shortest enlistment, consistent with foreign service, would be adopted. It was impossible, without very careful examination, to make any great alteration on the subject of enlistment. His right hon. Friend, he thought, would have been liable to great complaint on the part of the House if he had come down with some crude and ill-digested plan for the purpose of gratifying the right hon. Baronet. He had acted in a more statesmanlike manner. He had told the House the exact position of affairs, and stated that at the beginning of next Session he hoped to be able to submit the scheme of the Government.
, in the absence of the noble Lord (Lord Elcho), said, the noble Lord had requested him to say that, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, he did not wish to put the House to the trouble of dividing.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.