HC Deb 10 June 1869 vol 196 cc1573-8

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £952,700, Militia and Inspection of Reserve Forces.


called attention to the exceptional position of the quarter masters of Militia. who were, he said, as deserving a class of men as any in the whole Army. To have risen from the ranks to the position of an officer and a gentleman without any interest or private means was in itself a proof that for very many years a man must have devoted himself assiduously to the duties of his profession, and have maintained an uniform good character. Militia quartermasters, however, though their duties lasted for a considerable portion of the year, were only entitled to fourteen days' full pay beyond the training, while the rest of the Staff were paid during the whole year. They wore in a worse position than the adjutant, an officer of similar rank, who received 1s. a day and the pay of a servant; and were worse off even than the sergeant or drummer of the permanent Staff as regarded lodging money. The peculiar hardship of their case, however, lay in the matter of pensions, being excluded from those to which, had they remained in the position of sergeants, they would have been entitled. His right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) investigated the matter, and had stated distinctly that had he remained at the War Office he should have proposed to grant pensions to these officers. From the year 1817 to 1829 pensions were actually attached to the quartermasters' position, and at the present moment four quartermasters, appointed before the year 1829, were actually in receipt of these allowances. In 1829, however, the Militia fell to some extent into abeyance, and no quartermasters were appointed; so that when, in 1852, that service was recognized the clause relating to these officers was not re-enacted. Remembering the responsible duties which quartermasters of Militia had to discharge, the fact that they were appointed late in life, and that it was desirable to make the place, to some small extent, a prize for meritorious soldiers, the pensions, he thought, might well be granted. But he rested his sug- gestion mainly upon the interests of the service, which required that men ought not to be tempted to hold out longer than they were actually efficient, and he trusted the Government would meet the point in a fair and liberal spirit.


protested against the wild and extraordinary theories which had been advanced about: balloting for the Militia. It would be a bad day for England if the time ever came when Englishmen had not sum- dent love of country to defend their homes without being forced to do so. As regarded barrack accommodation for the Militia, in some places it was miserably deficient. The head-quarters of his regiment in Fifeshire had been condemned over and over again. So miserably off, indeed, were they for a shod or any description of cover, that upon one pouring wet day when the regiment assembled they had actually to change their civilian for their military clothing in the streets. A little further north bare legs would not have mattered so much, but Fife-shire was a more civilized region.


said, no body of men were more deserving of pensions than the Militia quartermasters. He was sure the country had no wish to deprive them of advantages enjoyed by the; other members of the Militia Staff.


said, any person conversant with the circumstances of the case must know the immense amount of responsible work that was thrown upon quartermasters of Militia when the stores and accoutrements of the regiment were being given in. Such responsible officers were fully entitled to pensions. He suggested that barrack accommodation should be provided for the recruits as they were enrolled; estimating that accommodation of this kind to the extent of about 5 per cent of the whole strength of the regiment would be sufficient. The adjutant and staff would thereby be dealing with the men in manageable numbers, and a bettor foundation could be laid for the future progress of there- emits than when all the regiment was mustered together. It appeared, also, that some of the men of Militia. regiments had no great coats, and that some had great coats which were useless. He thought that they should all be provided with serviceable great coats.


said, there was great necessity for circumspection in in- creasing non-effective Votes. When the Militia was re-constituted, in 1853, it was determined to restore the quartermasters, but not to provide them with pension; and, in 1858, a Commission considered the case of the quartermasters and disposed of it by saving that their pay and allowances were sufficient. Moreover, it was now a serious question whether the employment of quartermasters should be continued at all, and until that question was decided one way or the other he could not give any promise on that subject. With regard to barracks, he would do his best to see that they were utilized, as he had no intention of proposing their abolition. As to the great coats, it would cost a considerable sum to provide great coats for all the Militia, and as they were only out for a few days in the hotter season of the year great coats were perhaps not absolutely needed.


ex-pressed himself dissatisfied with the answer of the Secretary of State in regard to pensions to quartermasters, and said he should feel it his duty to bring the matter before the House again.


said, that military gentlemen appeared to think the nation was made for the Army, instead of the Army being made for the nation, and he complained that the interests of the tax-payers were not sufficiently regarded.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £89,300, Yeomanry Cavalry.


objected to the Vote, as the Yeomanry were not a body fit to take service along with regular troops. He suggested that the amount of the Vote be transferred to increase the capitation grant of Volunteers. An infantry soldier required six months in order to be turned out efficient, and more time would be required for a cavalry soldier. Now. the Yeomanry had only five days' drill and discipline, and he had seen men ignoring the fact that they had a right hand and loft hand, and the horses might be seen careering round the field, the riders perfectly incapable of controlling them. They were an improper force to be called out at any time in support of the civil power, and their lamentable appearance, in 1819, must be deplored by every Member of that House, Under any circumstances, calling this force out was likely to set class against class. He moved for the reduction of the Estimates by the amount of £89,300.


having the honour to command a Yeomanry force, wished to remind the hon. Baronet that at Peterloo the Yeomanry merely obeyed orders, and it should be remembered, that a cavalry force was much more efficient in. suppressing a riot than infantry; and, not many years ago, in Bolton, a riot occurred, and the Yeomanry were ordered to clear the streets. It was done, and the only action that took place was between a collier and a Yeomanry captain, which resulted only in a wound to the nose of the collier. But the mob immediately disappeared. The troops were drilled by the serjeant-majors at their own quarters, and the inspecting officers had always expressed their admiration of the willingness of the men to learn their drill. he did not mean to say that Yeomanry were fit to act alongside cavalry of the Line, but he felt certain they would be able to do so in a very short time. If invasion were to happen no doubt it would be found necessary to secure the service of a body of irregular cavalry, and it would be a fortunate thing to secure the prompt services of a body of men such as these 17,000 men would prove.


said, he understood that the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Hoare) did not make much progress in the regiment of Yeomanry to which he belonged—and that it was now in a very different state of efficiency from what it was when the hon. Baronet hold a commission in it. He thought that a body of men like the Yeomanry would be of the utmost value if through any event they should be called upon to act in conjunction with the Volunteer Rifle Force, and he had no doubt they would prove most valuable coadjutors.


, as a Yeomanry officer, did not think the force was in the condition it ought to be; but he thought the re-marks of the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Hoare were not in all respects correct. He expressed his thanks to the Secretary of State for War for having grappled, with this subject. The late Sir E. Wetherall had said that no force could be more valuable in a country like this than a mounted ride force.


said, he supposed the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Henry Hoare) had been enjoying himself more comfortably in the earlier part of the evening than he would have been in listening to his statement. He had, in that statement, explained the principles on which the Government proposed to proceed in reference to our Reserved Forces. The cost of our Yeomanry, man for man, was not large as com- pared with the Regular Cavalry, and he believed that the Vote was a reasonable one.

(2.) Motion made, and Question put, That a sum, not exceeding £89,300, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of the Yeomanry Cavalry, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1869 to the 31st Way of March 1870, inclusive.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 117: Noes 27: Majority 90.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) £411.000, Volunteer Corps.

(4.) £81,200, Army Reserve Force.

(5.) £64,479, Greenwich Hospital and Schools.


said, that the governorship of Greenwich Hospital had always been looked forward to as a prize among the most distinguished naval men, and he must enter his protest against its being abolished. The Navy rejoiced in the appointment of the new Governor, Sir Houston Stewart, but it was a matter of regret that the emoluments should have been so reduced. He hoped his right hon. Friend would reconsider the subject.


said, he thought that the salary of £1,200 attached to the office was sufficient, as it was equal to the highest prizes in the Navy.


said, that the great prize which was offered by the appointment to the most distinguished officer in the Navy was the sum of £100 per annum, by which, sum the salary attached to the office exceeded his former income. If he were permitted to retain his half-pay and his good-service pension it would have been a real prize to have offered.

Vote agreed to.

(6.) £14,093, Advances and Expenses of Carey Street Site for New Law Courts.


said, he hoped the question of the site of the new Law Courts would not be postponed until Members had left town and the decision was practically left to the Treasury Benches.


assured the right hon. Gentleman that full opportunity would be given for the discussion.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock; Committee to sit again To-morrow.