HC Deb 11 March 1869 vol 194 cc1094-111

said, the question of the administration of our Army was, in his humble judgment not a mere military or professional matter, because every Member of that House who was in favour of economy in the great public Departments must be deeply interested in the subject which he was about to bring under their notice. Having regard to the magnitude of the annual Votes for army purposes—the largest in the aggregate which were passed in Committee of Supply—a very heavy responsibility devolved upon hon. Members, as the guardians of the public purse, and they ought to take proper care that the monies which were voted should be frugally and judiciously expended. It would be difficult to overrate the social, political, and economical importance of this question, involving as it did the maintenance or the abolition of the present effete and vicious system of army administration. He would premise that he should not treat this subject in a personal or offensive manner. What he was about to say would not have special reference to individuals, but would be equally applicable if the head of the Horse Guards were an officer sprang from the ranks of the people, instead of being, as he was, an amiable and popular Prince of the Blood Royal. When, on a former occasion, the subject of Horse Guards' management was brought before the House, Mr. Bernal Osborne remarked that the Horse Guards was such an Augean stable of corruption that it could never be cleansed unless the Serpentine were made to flow through it. Now, he begged to assure the House that he should not give utterance to a remark so rude, and, perhaps, so true. Prior to the Crimean War the administration of the army was divided into five distinct heads or departments, independent more or less of one another. Every one of them possessed some of the attributes of a Minister of War, but none of them were endowed with adequate powers to perform their duties properly and efficiently. In the years 1854 and 1855 these separate departments were consolidated, or rather merged, into the new Office of the Secretary of State for War, and it would be remembered that the great change then effected was the result of a panic feeling created by that hideous collapse of our military administration during the Crimean War, when, indeed, the military prestige of this country would have been irreparably injured but for the gallantry and devotedness of the officers and men who were engaged in that disastrous war. Having regard to the relative duties which then and now subsisted between the Secretary of State for War and the Horse Guards, he confessed that, considering the Secretary of State was not endowed with the power possessed by the First Lord of the Admiralty, he thought that that change was, in a financial point of view, a national calamity, because such an appointment fostered and encouraged the normal tendency to extravagance in the Horse Guards, while it also tended to sustain an obnoxious system of dual government and of divided responsibility, which he believed to be detrimental to the best interests of the army and of the country. Eminent authorities, however, who sometimes created and sometimes governed public opinion, now asserted that it was altogether a mistake to suppose that there was dual government or divided responsibility in the administration of the army, and that it was owing to the accident of two branches of the same great Department being in different localities that so inveterate a delusion had been engendered and perpetuated. As assertions of this kind were made by authorities which commanded respect, he felt it would be a piece of foolish obstruction and ridiculous pertinacity on his part to persevere with the Motion of which he had given notice unless he were able fully to justify it. Hence he was compelled to inquire into his own belief as to the existence of a dual go- vernment and a divided responsibility in the administration of our army. He went into the Library, and the first thing he laid his hand upon was "the Official Handbook," from which he found that the Commander-in-Chief was the supreme executive military authority, having entire control and personal superintendence of the military force of this country, and of matpers referring to its interior economy and discipline. Now that definition of the position of Commander-in-Chief was quite sufficient, in his opinion, to show that there were two authorities in the adminstration of the army. He found also a War Office Circular of 1867, No. 76, commencing with the words—"The Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, in conjunction with the Secretary of State for War, &c," and another, No. 854, for the year 1864, with the words—" The annexed regulations have been approved of by His Royal Highness the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief and the Secretary of State for War, &c.;" while there was a third relating to barrack cookery utensils, with the words—"The Secretary of State for War has decided, with the concurrence of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief," clearly taking for granted the existence of a divided authority. But; supposing such evidence of the duality which he maintained existed in our military administration were not deemed conclusive, he would refer, in support of his opinion on the subject, to a debate which occurred about ten years ago, in which the Secretary for War of the day (General Peel) said— He could not assent to the proposition that the different offices should be placed under the control of one responsible Minister of State. At present, the command, discipline, and patronage of the army were controlled by the Crown through the Commander-in-Chief."—[3 Hansard, cl. 1339.] General Peel, on the same occasion, added— He was aware that there was no person directly responsible to the House for the manner in which the duties of the Commander-in-Chief are performed. He was only responsible to the Crown."—[Ibid., 1340.] He found that Earl Russell, who was then in that House, demurred to the doctrine of General Peel, declaring that it could not be the case in this country that the Commander-in-Chief should have absolute and irresponsible control. The late Lord Herbert, on the same occasion, said that the Commander-in- Chief was completely under the control of the Secretary of State; while the late Duke of Newcastle, on a subsequent occasion, gave it as his opinion that neither General Peel nor Lord Herbert was right, contending that the position of Commander-in-Chief involved the Secretary of State for War in legal, though not in moral, responsibilities. It was hardly wonderful, with such conflicting authorities before them, that the public should be in a state of obfuscation as to the true position in which the Commander-in-Chief stood in relation to the Secretary of State. For his own part, he must confess that, having given some attention to the matter, he had returned to his former conviction, which was that there was a dual government and a divided responsibility in the, management of our military affairs, a state of things which he believed to be most mischievous and detrimental to the best interests of the public service. If he were to seek for an illustration of the justice of that view, he might find it in the Abyssinian Expedition; for in the directions and orders which had issued from the Horse Guards and the War Department in reference to that expedition there was the most lamentable evidence of mismanagement and of contemptuous and reckless disregard not only of economy but of common sense, as was abundantly proved by the enormous amount of the expenditure incurred. He knew there was a class of men whom it delighted to maintain that the flowers placed on Nero's tomb were deserved, and that our own Henry VIII. was the most kind hearted and benevolent of English Sovereigns, and he would leave it to casuists such as those to prove that no dual government existed in the army. The nature of the present system was well described in an able article which had recently appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette, from the pen of a gentleman than whom there was no one more competent to pronounce an opinion on the subject. The writer to whom he referred said— The cumbrous and superannuated mode of doing business in the War Department is illustrated by the very simplest piece of patronage, if it can be called patronage, in connection with the management of the army—the appointment of a young man who is found qualified for a commission by purchase. After all preliminaries are complied with, the money lodged, and the regiment selected, the youth's name must go through the following zigzag journeys before he can bloom into a real ensign:—1. From the Horse Guards to the War Office for approval; 2. From the War Office to the Horse Guards approved; 3. From the Horse Guards to Her Majesty for her sanction; 4. From Her Majesty to the Horse Guards sanctioning; 5. From the Horse Guards to the War Office; 6. From the War Office to the Gazette. When this is the case respecting a matter about which there can be no dispute or doubt; when the merits and qualification of the individual have been previously settled, we may guess how it is with questions upon which controversy may arise or further information be needed. He found, he might, add, from the Report of the Commitee on Military Organization, that the money value of the commissions which had been given away at the Horse Guards between the 1st of January. 1853, and the 30th of October, 1859, was no less than £1,271,250, and he also learned from the same source, that the Duke of Cambridge—when examined before the Committee as to the patronage which he exercised—said that the patronage was exercised on principles which rested in the breast of the Commander-in-Chief for the time being. Lord Herbert also stated that the Secretary for War had no voice in the selection for first commissions, and he had seen it mentioned that the money value of the first commissions which had been given away since His Royal Highness had been at the Horse Guards might be estimated at more than £2,000,000. It was not surprising, he might add, that the hon. and gallant Member for Truro (Captain Vivian), with that ardent love for his profession and that zealous desire I to promote the interests of his country which distinguished him, should have; turned his attention to the subject; and the hon. and gallant Gentleman accordingly, on the 1st of June, 1858, moved the following Resolution, which he (Mr. White) at that time supported:— That although the recent consolidation of the different Departments of Ordnance, Commissariat, and Secretary at War has to a certain extent improved the general administration of Military Affairs, a divided responsibility still exists; and that, in order to promote greater efficiency, the Departments of the Horse Guards and War Office should be placed under the control of one responsible Minister."—[3Hansard, cl. 1336.] There divided or paired in favour of that Resolution 157 Members, of whom seven were now in the Upper House, and fifty remained still in the House of Commons. Among the seven Peers were Lord Russell, the Duke of Sutherland, Lord De Grey, and Lord Athlum- ney, and eight of those Commoners now sat on the Treasury Bench—namely, the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Bright), the Attorney-General (Sir Robert Collier), the Under Secretary for India (Mr. Grant Duff), both the Secretaries of the Treasury (Mr. Glyn and Mr. Ayrton), the Secretary of the Admiralty (Mr. Baxter), the Military Lord of the Treasury (Captain Vivian), and one of the Lords of the Admiralty (Lord John Hay). Though the Resolution was affirmed, the Government did not bring in any administrative measure to carry it into effect, nor did they take any means to rescind the Resolution. Lord Russell, the late Mr. Ellice, and Mr. Horsman urged most strongly that it was incompatible with the dignity of the House of Commons not to take some notice of it, and owing to the pressure put upon the Government, a Select Committee was appointed in the following year. That was the memorable Committee known as the Military Organization Committee, whose Report was a text-book of information upon the relations between the Secretary of State and the Horse Guards. A very strong Committee was selected, and presided over by Sir James Graham, and half-a-dozen of the most conspicuous Members now in the House served upon it; but as the Mover meanwhile had lost his election, the Committee had not the benefit of his assistance. As often happened in such cases, the Report was a compromise, and the scheme of Lord (then Mr. Sydney) Herbert was avowedly recommended, "because it had the merit of reducing change to a minimum." After an attentive perusal and study of the Report, he was constrained to say that the verdict did not appear to him to be in strict conformity with the evidence; but as illustrating the normal and persistent obstructiveness of the Horse Guards to all improvement, he might mention that more than eight years elapsed before any one of the recommendations of the Committee were carried into effect. It was well known that successive Secretaries for War had striven to improve the organization of the army, but some influence too powerful to be overcome had been in operation, and for eight years nothing was done. At last, thanks to the pertinacity and zeal of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington), one of the recommendations of the Committee was adopted, and so almost superhuman was that effort deemed that it was made manifest in the most conspicuous manner possible. The country and the world were told of that mighty feat through the medium of the Queen's Speech at the end of last Session— By the Appointment of a Controller-in-Chief in the War Office a considerable Reform in Army Administration has been commenced, which, by combining at home and abroad the various Departments of Military Supply under One Authority, will conduce to greater Economy and Efficiency both in Peace and War. The present wretched condition of our army administration might, he thought, be inferred from a recent correspondence with the Treasury respecting this new reform. Sir Edward Lugard, the Under Secretary for War, for example, said— It will probably lead by degrees to extensive re-organization and amalgamation, both of the War Office and the civil departments of the army, tending to a considerable reduction of public expenditure. Knowing the potent, and as he believed pernicious, influence that was exercised at the Horse Guards, and believing also that true economy was identical with true efficiency, he despaired of any great advantage accruing to the public even from the appointment of so energetic an officer as Sir Henry Storks. So far as he could make out, while Sir Henry Storks was appointed to control the military expenditure, and was alleged to be responsible to the War Office, he was yet divested of all real control, seeing that he was not allowed to report formally to the War Office without the sanction of his chief at the Horse Guards. Be this as it may however, he found this under Sir Henry's own hand—and the House might thence deduce what was the present condition of things when he recommended that there should be a new audit, and that it should be independent of the War Office. And Sir Henry Storks, speaking of the greatest spending Department of the State, actually thought it necessary in this year of grace to lay it down as essential to the efficient conduct of the Department, "that the responsibilities of the heads of Departments should be denned," and, further— That it is essential that the audit should be made on completed transactions, and that every charge should be judged of by the sufficiency of the proofs adduced in support of it. What other principles of audit than these had ruled up to this time, he (Mr. White) must leave the Secretary of State to discover. No better evidence could be furnished to his mind of the necessity of the recommendation with which he should conclude than the excessive costliness of our military system. He found that the total cost of our regular army, comprising 127,336 men, was £12,795,000, or in round, numbers £100 per head per annum. The French army, according: to the Budget of 1870, numbered 400,000 men, and their estimated cost was £14,920,000, or only £37 6s. 8d. per man. No doubt he would be met by the plea that in France there was a conscription, while here we had voluntary enlistment, so that no just comparison could be made between the cost per soldier in the two countries. He would not now examine that point, but no such objection could be made to his contrasting the annual charge for the central administration in each army; and while the cost of this in England for 127,336 men was £220,079, irrespective of superannuations, amounting to £132,000 more, its cost in France was but £80,000. Thus the proportion per man for the cost of the central administration was £1 8s., and in France only 5s., so that we paid nearly six times as much as the French did for this branch of the service. Six years ago the Marquess of Salisbury (then Lord Robert Cecil) made an exhaustive speech in illustration of the expensiveness of our military establishments, observing that the figures he adduced indicated a most disgraceful state of things. In spite of small parings the same observation was strictly applicable to the existing state of the War Department; the present Estimates being quite as extravagant as those which provoked the denunciation of the Marquess of Salisbury in 1863. He had yet to learn why the superfluous office of full colonel should be kept up. Of course he would save the rights of the present incumbents; but he saw no reason why vacancies should be filled up, because that post was nothing more nor less than a sinecure, for a full colonel often never saw the regiment from which he drew his extra pay. If the Secretary for War turned his attention to that point, he might realize a saving of £100,000 a year without affecting in the smallest degree the real efficiency of the army. If it should be urged that the Resolution he was about to move would interfere with the Prerogative of the Crown, he would observe that the object of the modern use of such an argument was not to vindicate the just authority of the Sovereign but to screen the abuses of the servants of the Crown. The late Lord Herbert, when asked whether he saw any constitutional objection to the subordination of the Commander-in-Chief to a civil officer in England, replied that he saw a constitutional necessity for it, and that, in a Parliamentary form of Government, that subordination was right. He had strong authority for what he was urging on this point, for Lord Grey, who had done so much to improve the condition of the army, stated before the Military Organization Commitee— The whole notion of there being anything un-constitutional in bringing the army more under the Ministry of the day seems to me to arise from; confusion between powers exercised by the responsible Ministers of the Crown and powers exercised by Parliamentary Committees, or some mode of that kind. Undoubtedly it was very unconstitutional in the Long Parliament that all powers of the State should be assumed by Committees of the House of Commons, but that power over the army should be exercised by a responsible servant of the Crown seems to me to be an absolutely essential principle of our Constitution. He found that the present head of the; Horse Guards had filled that office during the last thirteen years, during which period there had been eight different Secretaries of State for War. Now, he must say, with all respect, that however; amiable the occupant of that post might be, there was such a thing as an official holding his office too long. The country would have made but little political progress during the last thirteen years if the same Premier had held Office for the whole of that period. Persons well qualified to judge declared that even the Duke of Wellington was far too long at the head of the army, though he was only eleven years in that position. The late Duke, however, obstinately objected to many improvements in army organization, and any weapon but Brown Bess, with which he won his victories, was strongly repugnant to his feelings. Had the Russian War occurred during His Grace's tenure of Office the result might have been extremely disastrous from the want of the Minié rifle, which did such wonders at the battle of Inkerman. When, by a wholesome regulation the duration, of a Staff appointment was limited to five years, he saw no reason why the head of the Staff should have a longer tenure of office. He understood it was in conformity with a private arrangement made with Lord Palmerston in 1861 that the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief and his subordinates at the Horse Guards have so long retained their offices beyond the "Regulation" term of five years. What, he believed, that the House and the country wanted, was that the chiefs of Departments should be directly responsible to Parliament for the acts done in their Departments; and the present position of things in regard to the administration of the army was not creditable to the House or to the country. He need not remind the House how many Parliamentary Committees, Royal Commissions, Departmental inquiries, and official investigations there had been with respect to the army during the last few years, and the results had been almost profitless, as the diverting schemes of Queen Whim's officers and abstractors, chronicled by Rabelais. Talk of a grievance! Who that knows a military officer does not know a grievance? He held an officer of the army to be the incarnation of a grievance. With respect to the mutual relations between the Horse Guards and the War Office, the Duke of Wellington said the best rule was mutual good temper and forbearance on both sides. That might do in the days of the Duke of Wellington, when economy was considered and practised; but now, alas! economy was not only not practised, but was positively despised, and about double the amount was now to be voted for the army than sufficed when the Duke was Commander-in-Chief. Public attention having been called to the subject, the remedy for every grievance was declared to be the placing of both Departments under one roof. That, he believed, was the opinion of the Committee, the House, and the Secretary for War; but there was not the slightest hope that the opinion would ever be acted on. He spoke thus confidently because, on the 12th of May last year, the Commander-in-Chief having attended the Treasury Commission appointed to consider the arrangements for the accommodation of public Departments, had indicated to him by the noble Lord, then First Commissioner of Works (Lord John Manners), the feeling of the public as to the desirability of bringing the War Office and Horse Guards under one roof. His Royal Highness answered that he did not see the slightest advantage in doing so, and when told that the Royal Commission on Military Organization (presided over by the late Sir James Graham) recommended that the War Office and the Horse Guards should be under the same roof, and that General Peel was for that union, His Royal Highness replied— With all respect, I dissent entirely from that view. The duties in the War Office and our duties in the Horse Guards are so distinct that there is no necessity for our being under the same roof; not the slightest.… I think, besides, as we are a traditional country, that the removal of the Horse Guards would be something like removing a Royal Palace—St. James's Palace, for instance—or any other long-established building or institution, and I think it would be a most unpopular idea. I cannot think it would be desirable to do away with the present entrance to St. James's Park, and I do not believe that the inhabitants of London would like to be without those two sentries who have been there from time out of mind. To the admiration of the nurserymaids of London no doubt. Well, however, as the matter now stood, if the Secretary of State be the supreme effective Chief of the War Department—which like his predecessors he claims to be in theory, but which neither he nor his predecessors have ever dared to be in practice—he must be held responsible accordingly for all official abuses and all the corruption in the Department which might be brought under the cognizance of the House; especially would he (Mr. White) hold him censurable for having made so scanty a reduction as £1,250,000 upon the vast outlay of £15,500,000. Still, if the right hon. Gentleman had full control, as he should have, over the army expenditure, it would be an insult to his financial sagacity to imagine that he could not have easily made such reductions as would have relieved the country of, at least, 2d. of the income tax, or the whole of the tea duty, amounting to £2,800,000. He concluded by moving that— In order to promote greater economy and efficiency, the Departments of the Horse Guards and the War Office should be placed under the control of one responsible Minister.


seconded the motion.

Amendment proposed,

To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in order to promote greater economy and efficiency, the Departments of the Horse Guards and the War Office should be placed under the control of one responsible Minister,"—(Mr. White,)

—instead thereof.

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


The question which we are now going to decide is whether we shall continue the discussion upon the large question raised by my hon, Friend, or whether it will rather be the pleasure of the House to go into Committee of Supply and discuss the Army Estimates. Now, my hon. Friend, in his interesting speech, has not confined his observations entirety to the subject of his Motion, but has made remarks which have direct reference to the Estimates. I have, therefore, risen immediately to ask him whether he will not consent that you, Sir, leave the Chair, and that we now proceed to: the general Business? I must say, however, that before the House determines that an establishment ought to be under the control of one responsible Minister, it should be quite sure the state of things desired does not already exist, and as far as I am capable of understanding the situation that state of things docs exist. But my hon. Friend appeals to a former Resolution of this House, moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Truro (Captain Vivian). and he says that, because that Resolution was carried, it is an encouragement and an inducement for him to move it again. But surely he must see that if the House of Commons had been very earnest about that Resolution it would have insisted upon its being carried into; effect. The House, however, re-considered its decision and referred the question to a most influential Committee; upon that Committee served my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Truro, and at its head was perhaps the most weighty name among independent Members of Parliament at that time—the late Sir James Graham. That Committee considered the question under peculiar circumstances; the Patent if the Secretary of State then contained a reservation which it does not now con- tain, yet they decided that even with that reservation it did not prevent the Secretary of State from interference in every matter it was desirable there should be interference. My hon. Friend says the discipline and command of the army is in the hands of the Commander-in-Chief, and not in the hands of the Secretary of State. But I believe the House will be of opinion that it is desirable the command and discipline of the army should be in the hands of an experienced soldier. At any rate, that was the opinion of the Committee, whose Report says, speaking of the Secretary of State— Nor does he interfere in any way with the ordinary routine administration of the discipline of the army. That is left to the military authorities, aided by the legal knowledge of a Parliamentary officer,—namely, the Judge Advocate. And what is the view the committee take of the expediency of that state of things with regard to its effect upon the feelings of the army and its discipline? The Committee says— The army is thus enabled to feel assured that the patronage of the army, as regards first commissions and the ordinary promotions and appointments, other than those which are self-regulated by purchase or seniority, will not be distributed with a view to political objects, or to the necessities of successive Governments. Nor will the discipline of the army, as daily administered, vary in its character with each change in the Civil Department. Tour Committee think that the introduction of any system which shall shake this reliance on the part of the army would be prejudicial to the efficiency of the service, by introducing doubt and dissatisfaction where confidence should exist. That was the opinion of that celebrated Committee—that was the opinion of the then House of Commons, pledged as it was to a different conclusion—and that, I believe, will be the opinion of the present House of Commons and of the country. My hon. Friend spoke in terms of kindliness and respect of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief; but he added that he thought His Royal Highness had held that office too long. I have quoted what was said by the Committee. My hon. Friend said there had been eight Secretaries of State, while there had been only one Commander-in-Chief. I have read what the Committee think, and I should like to ask the House what they think would be the state of affairs if, in that period of time, during which there have been eight Secretaries of State, there had also been eight Commanders-in-Chief. It is my opinion that the army is satisfied with the Commander-in-Chief, and that it would not be agreeable to the army if the view of my hon. Friend should be acted upon. I believe that the present state of things insures full responsibility on the part of the Secretary of State. I will never shelter myself in this House from any observations that may be made by any Gentlemen who may find fault with the administration of the army, by saying that the Secretary of State is not responsible. With these few remarks, I hope my hon. Friend will kindly permit us to pass to what was intended to be the business of the evening—namely, the discussion of the Estimates.


said, he regretted that it should fall to a civilian, who could not be expected to have full information upon military matters, to support the Resolution. There were men of distinction and of great ability and knowledge whom he had heard, express opinions upon this question favourable to the Resolution, but who were now, from the fact of holding Office in the Government, precluded from speaking with that power and energy which he had often heard them display on the subject of army administration. His hon. Friend who had brought forward this Motion and himself were far from desiring to say anything in the least degree derogatory to the distinguished individual the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief; but it was one thing to speak of an individual, another of a system. It had been said that while there had been eight Secretaries of State for War the country happily had only one Commander-in-Chief; but he did not know that that was an advantage after all. For instance, when naval matters were under consideration in that House, the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone), who had so long and so ably taken part in those discussions, and other naval Gentlemen freely expressed the opinions of the profession with respect to a proper system of naval administration. Now, why was it that naval officers so often brought the administration of naval affairs under review? The reason was, because the First Lord of the Admiralty was not a fixture. These hon. Gentlemen were in no terror of the First Lord; they were not afraid to put forth what they regarded as naval grievances. That was not the case with the army. There was not a civilian in that House who brought forward questions relating to the army of his own mere Motion, but was induced to do so by Gentlemen who knew that it was not for them to move in the matter. It was very generally believed that not only was there a dual administration of the army, but that a triumvirate presided over it, and that there was a military Secretary almost as potential as the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief. They had been told by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) that the supremacy of the Secretary of State was recognized by the country. If nothing else came of the discussion, his hon. Friend had done good service by eliciting that observation. He was told, however, that there was no appeal to the Secretary of State from the decisions of the Commander-in-Chief, and therefore the supremacy was not complete. It was a theory of the British Constitution that the Sovereign could do no wrong—and why? Because every act of the Sovereign was the act of a recognized Minister. But with regard to the patronage of the whole army it was all in the hands of one individual, who, in that respect, they were told, was not responsible to the Secretary of State for War, and, therefore, not to the country. It was well to speak out on this subject. People felt about it, and the House of Commons was the place to express that opinion. He believed that, were military patronage entrusted to a responsible Minister, public opinion was strong enough to prevent its being abused to a base and unworthy purpose. Why should that patronage be vested in any individual who was not responsible to the Minister of the Crown? He. held that the agitation of this question was useful, and that the country owed a debt of gratitude to the hon. Gentleman who had brought it forward. The other day the Abyssinian Expedition had formed the subject of discussion, and there was one little item of that large amount for which the War Office was responsible; he referred to the purchase of mules. Why was not the expenditure for that object reviewed in that House? Because it would take a fortnight or more to get an answer, such was the circuitous mode in which business was carried on. After the experience of the great war between Austria and Prussia everyone would admit the great merits of the Prussian system But in Prussia there was a recognized Minister for War for military administration, and a Field-Marshal, however distinguished, if not Minister of War at the time, was his subordinate, and the practice was the same in Paris and at Vienna. There was not a Member of that House who would not be delighted to see one who had distinguished himself in action, as His Royal Highness had done, commanding in a military capacity. It was one thing to command the army, and another thing to have the whole patronage and all the minutiæ of administration under his control. In India, that distinguished officer General Mansfield held a position in regard to the Governor General somewhat correlative to that of the Commander-in-Chief to the Secretary of State for War. But General Mansfield was subject in every respect, except in his military capacity, to the Governor General. He, for one, felt that the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief ought to bear the same relation to the responsible Minister for the time being. He should vote with his hon. Friend if he went to a division.


In the hope that the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White) will yield to the appeal made to him by the Secretary of State for War, and allow us to proceed without unnecessary delay to the consideration of the Army Estimates, I will not delay the House by entering at any length into this question. But having lately had the honour of holding the same position my right hon. Friend now tills, I feel bound to support and confirm what has fallen from him both on this and a former occasion with respect to the relative positions of the Secretary of State for War and the Commander-in-Chief, which he has stated with the greatest possible accuracy. I think the House will agree with, me that it is most desirable that discussions of this kind should come to an end. The Motion of the hon. Gentleman says that "the Departments of the Horse Guards and the War Office should be placed under the control of one responsible Minister;" but that is exactly the present state of affairs. We have frequently heard the phrase "divided responsibility." There is no divided re- sponsibility. If you refer to the opinion of Lord Panmure, the first Secretary of State under the new system, as expressed in the House of Lords very soon after its introduction, you will find that this very question then arose in the House of Lords, when Lord Panmure, in the presence of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, laid it down in the most distinct terms that the Secretary of State for War is responsible for every part of the administration of the army. I see the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) who preceded me at the War Office, in his place, and I would appeal to him, and also to my right hon. Friend who succeeded me (Mr. Cardwell), whether there ever was a public officer who entertained a more correct appreciation of his own position and his own duties than His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief. I appeal to them also whether they can recollect any occasion on which His Royal Highness has not readily acknowledged the superior authority of the Secretary of State and deferred to his opinion. I hope, Sir, that this question will not be constantly recurring, and that these mis-statements will not be repeated. It is evident that the hon. Member for Brighton has either received very erroneous information, or labours under very great misconception as to the real state of affairs. The hon. Gentleman referred to the change which I felt it my duty to introduce into the War Office in respect to the control department, and how did he express himself in regard to that measure of mine? He said it was a superhuman effort, and that it was done in spite of the potent and pernicious influence of the Horse Guards. There never was a greater delusion. I introduced that change with the full consent of my Colleagues in the Government, who agreed with me as to its expediency; and as to "the pernicious influence" of the Horse Guards, nothing of the sort occurred. The hon. Member for Brighton proceeded gravely to make the most extraordinary statement that. Sir Henry Storks, the Controller-in-Chief, is unable to communicate with the War Office without the sanction of the Horse Guards. Sir, I hope the House will accept this as some proof of the necessity of caution in believing the statements that are made, and I hope also that the hon. Member for Brighton will accept it as a proof of the necessity of a little greater care, on his part, before venturing to make these statements to the House of Commons. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I mean no disrespect to him when I say that a more utterly nonsensical statement was never made. Sir Henry Storks is himself a high officer in the War Office; he sits there and is in daily communication with the Secretary of State for "War. If he requires the sanction of the Horse Guards to hold these conversations and constant communications, all I can say is that that rule must have been introduced since I left the War Department.


said, he was entirely in the hands of the House, and would consent to withdraw his Motion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

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