HC Deb 15 February 1870 vol 199 cc390-405

, in moving for leave to bring in a Bill for making further provision relating to the management of certain Departments of the War Office, said: I hope, although the House has been very much interested in the speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), it will have a disposition to listen to the very short statement I propose to make with reference to this Bill. I ask them for their aid in effecting what Her Majesty's Government believe to be a very necessary and desirable improvement in the administration of the military Department of the country. I am sure it will be the opinion of the House that this is a measure which it is desirable to take in a complete and thorough manner, upon systematic principles, and with a definite object; and I think however we may do justice to the mode in which previous changes have been effected in a period of war and difficulty, the House will agree with me that it is wise to avail ourselves of a period of profound peace for the purpose of those further improvements which are now contemplated. Sir, the essential requisite of all improvement appears to me to be that we should lay the foundation of sufficient Parliamentary power and sufficient Parliamentary responsibility. Acting upon this principle, I shall discuss the subject very briefly to-night under three divisions. I shall say a few words upon the government of the Army—first, as regards its personnel. in the second place, as regards its matériel;, and last, but not least, as regards the question of finance, which is essential to every alteration in the administration of the Army. I would ask the House for a moment to remember what was the state of the Army before the Crimean War. At that time the government of the Army was vested in the Colonial Secretary, who exercised, however, over its affairs, except in the colonies, rather a formal than an actual influence and control. The command, the discipline, the appointments, and the promotion of the Army were vested in the Commander-in- Chief, who was subject to financial control in the person of an officer, now no longer existing with a separate office—the Secretary at War. The personnel of the Artillery and the Engineers, the matériel both of the Army and the Navy, and the care of the Barracks and Fortifications, were at that time vested in the Board of Ordnance, and the Commissariat rested with the Treasury. On the occurrence of a great European war, it was found necessary to put an end to this dispersion of the different functions connected with the Army, and the first step taken was the appointment of a Secretary of State for War, in whom all these duties were centred. And, Sir, I apprehend that the appointment of my noble Friend the late Duke of Newcastle to that office may be regarded as the declaration by the Crown and by Parliament of the principle of undivided responsibility in the person of the Secretary of State for War. I hold that the principle of undivided responsibility was established then, that it continues now, and that it is the basis and foundation of any changes in the administrative system and the government of the Army. Well, this part of the question being clearly established by that appointment, no further organic change was at the moment made. For a time the Board of Ordnance still continued, and the Secretary at War also still continued; but, in the year 1855, the Board of Ordnance was put an end to, and the office of the Secretary at War was united with that of the Secretary of State for War. And here, I may say, I am not surprised that offices so great as those of the Master General and the Board of Ordnance and that of the Secretary at War were not, found compatible with the undivided responsibility of the Secretary of State. But I think, after sixteen years' experience, all those who know anything of the conduct of the War Department will agree with me that, although it may not be desirable to revive either the old Board of Ordnance or the office of the Secretary at War, yet it is absolutely necessary to the efficient conduct of business in the War Department, and to the due responsibility of that Department to this House for the expenditure it incurs, that there should be Parliamentary representatives both of the Store and the Ordnance Departments and also of those details of financial administration which property belonged in former times to the Secretary at War; while anybody who has filled the Office I have now the honour to hold will, I am sure, bear me out in saying that the Secretary of State requires additional assistance if, with the vast mass of business of an important nature which he has to consider and determine upon, he is to be able to give the answers that this House expects, and justly expects, upon the details of financial administration. I say then—and this is the point for which I now contend—that some additional Parliamentary representation, both of the Store Department and the Finance Department, is essential to any real reconstruction and improvement of the War Department. So much has been said on former occasions with regard to the functions of the Secretary of State, and to the vexed question of dual government, that I will, with the permission of the House, enter into a short explanation on that subject. I ventured to say on a former occasion, and I now repeat, that I hold there is not in principle any dual government of the Army; that upon the Secretary of State, the person who for the time being has been intrusted by Her Majesty's pleasure with the seals of office, and upon him alone, rests the sole responsibility for everything that is done and for everything that is left undone, and that there is not in principle and in theory—I am not now speaking of the practical result—any dual government of the Army. There are matters—namely, command, discipline, appointments, and promotion—which are mainly left to the person who for the time being is the General Commanding-in-Chief—the office which his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge now holds. With respect to command, it naturally belongs, not to a civilian, but to a soldier. With respect to discipline the same remark applies. But, Sir, does that exonerate the Secretary of State from his responsibility? Not at all. There was formerly, as the House is aware, a limitation of the patent; but even while that limitation continued in force the Committee of this House, of which the late Sir James Graham was the Chairman, expressly examined into the subject. And what was the result? Lord Panmure, who filled with great ability the office of Secretary of State for War, told the Committee—"The authority of the Se- cretary of State, I apprehend, is paramount at all times." Again, Lord Panmure was asked "whether the Commander-in-Chief would resist the interference of the Secretary of State in any question of military discipline?" His Lordship answered— That no such difference over existed between himself and the Commander-in-Chief, and he did not think that any Secretary of State for War would interfere gratuitously with the discipline of the Army, as exercised by the Commander-in-Chief. But his Lordship added— That if there were anything in the conduct of the Commander-in-Chief which required the interference of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State has not only the right, but it is his bounden duty to interfere. I am quite sure my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir John Pakington), and anybody who has held the seals of the Secretary of State for War, if asked the same question, would hold the same doctrine and give the same answer. General Peel said—"The responsibility of the Secretary of State is only equalled by his power." The late Lord Herbert, then Secretary of State, and other witnesses of great authority, gave the same answer; and the Committee state that, "notwithstanding the reservations in the patent, his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief admits the supreme control of the Secretary of State over the Army." Now, Sir, I have felt it my duty, in justice quite as much to his Royal Highness the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief as for any other reason, to make this statement, because it is right that there should be no mistake and no misunderstanding on the subject; and again I assert there is not in principle a dual government of the Army. But with reference to command and discipline, the Committee over which the late Sir James Graham presided said—and I think they were right in saying—that it is not desirable there should be any doubt with regard to the functions that are proper to be discharged by a soldier exercising those functions under the authority of the Secretary of State. With respect to command, it is necessarily in all ordinary cases the function not of a civilian, but of a soldier. But out of military command more general questions may arise. I have already quoted Lord Panmure to show that if any question arose as to the mode in which the duties of that command were discharged it would be in- cumbent on the Secretary of State to interfere. Suppose any more general questions arose out of command—political, financial, or general questions, any questions, in short, which are not strictly confined to the military duties of the soldier—they would all come under the review of the Secretary of State. The same with regard to discipline. As to promotion and appointments the case is this—All appointments, of every kind, are approved by the Secretary of State before they are made by the Commander-in-Chief. If they are small appointments they are not brought under the personal notice of the Secretary of State, for the hours of the day would not be long enough to allow of that; but they are revised in his office and returned by the Under Secretary with his formal approval. Every appointment of any importance on which it is desirable there should be personal communication, is always personally considered with the Secretary of State before it is made, but it is made by the Commander-in-Chief. The control of the Secretary of State over promotion and appointment is complete. Sir James Graham's Committee said— 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 and 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. Your 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, I think, is also doctrine which the House will be disposed to sustain. The limitation of the patent—a subject to which the Committee gave much consideration—ceased to exist. No Secretary of State since the late Lord Herbert's time has been restricted by the limitation of the patent; and all succeeding Secretaries of State for War have held their office upon the terms under which it is now held. I will next say a few words with reference to a document laid on the table last Session, in answer to a Motion made by an hon. Member of this House (Mr. O'Reilly). I do not hold that document to be one of any continuing obligation. It was drawn up by the late Sir George Lewis, who obtained for it the Queen's Sign Manual, and countersigned but he never took any further step with respect to it, nor even communicated it to his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief. During the time of three Secretaries—Earl de Grey, the Marquess of Hartington, and General Peel—that document was never seen in the office. While my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir John Pakington) was Secretary, it was casually found among the papers of Sir George Lewis, but my right hon. Friend took no step in reference to it. When I entered the office I found it in existence; I showed it unofficially to the Duke of Cambridge, but I made no official use of it, and it was laid upon the table of this House under the circumstances to which I have referred. I have communicated to His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief that, in the judgment of Her Majesty's Government, the document is not one of continuing obligation, and that being the case, the principle of undivided responsibility has remained in full force. There is, in reality, no dual government. With respect to the reserved forces, in which my noble Friend opposite (Lord Elcho) takes such an interest, I propose that measures should be adopted which will bring them into closer connection with the regular military force. I intend, with the sanction of my Colleagues, to propose such a division of labour, as we think will be desirable in the military Department. With regard to the second Department, that of matériel, I must do my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir John Pakington) the justice to say that the Control Department which took its rise from difficulties and disasters into which we were plunged during the Crimean War has worked in a very useful manner. The first step taken in reference to the establishment of such a Department was the evidence taken and report made by Sir James Graham's Committee; the next was the letter written on the subject by direction of Earl de Grey; the next was the appointment of the Committee presided over by Lord Strathnairn; and the final step was the adoption of the plan by my right hon. Friend opposite, at the time when Sir Henry Storks was appointed Controller-in-Chief. I give to my right hon. Friend the credit which is his due. I ask no credit for myself but that which may attach to my having cordially and to the best of my ability supported the system. But I am bound to say that I think so important a Department ought to be directly represented in the House of Commons. The Estimates for which this Department is responsible amount to nearly five millions of money, and while the Secretary of State for War ought not to desire to relieve himself of the responsibilities of his office, yet, I think, a division of labour is as important as united responsibility. Therefore, I propose to revive the office of Clerk of the Ordnance. I suppose that the proper mode of prescribing the duties to be performed by him will be by an Order in Council; but, speaking generally, commissariat, transport, barracks, clothing stores, munitions of war, and the manufacturing departments, would all be under his immediate supervision, and he would be able to give Parliament detailed information on these matters from his own personal knowledge. There remains the question of finance. No doubt the Secretary of State for War will always be responsible to this House for every question of finance connected with the Army; but the War Department, as a whole, is one in which details of finance are of great importance, and the individual who minutely manages all those details should have a seat in the House, in order that he might be able to answer the questions which are constantly put on points under his immediate control. The Act of 1855 abolished the office of Clerk of the Ordnance and that of Surveyor General of the Ordnance. We propose by this Bill to revive the office of Clerk of the Ordnance, and to create an office to be called that of "Financial Secretary of the War Department;" and we propose that both these offices should be held by persons having seats in this House. There will be three divisions—"Military," "Ordnance," and "Finance," and I feel a strong hope that when the division has been fairly and fully carried out the military administration of the country will be placed on a footing that may be expected to prove permanent and satisfactory. I have said that in theory there has been no dual government in this administration; but I never have contended, and I will not now contend, that there can ever be a complete unity in the administration till all the offices are in one building. Now, although we generally find that there is more difficulty in fixing on a site and choosing a place for our public buildings than in almost anything else we are called upon to do, I hope that in this case the difficulty will be surmounted. My right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Ayrton) is having a plan prepared for a building to accommodate all the branches of the War administration; and I shall be much surprised if he should not be able to present the House with one that will prove satisfactory. But even before we are all placed in one building I have arranged that all the correspondence between the two offices shall be at an end—that a common registry shall be established,—and His Royal Highness will use the council room of the War Office for any business, especially of the reserve forces, which he may have occasion to transact there. The correspondence coming from a distance is sufficiently heavy. Each day the two branches of military Department receive about 2,500 letters, of which 1,500 are sufficiently important to be registered. I have, however, the satisfaction of saying that during the year 1869 there was a falling off in the War Office correspondence to the number of 30,000 letters. This was mainly due to the introduction of the Control Department. I may again say that all the Departments will be under the undivided authority of the Secretary of State. The details of this arrangement were carefully considered by an able and laborious Committee which sat during the Recess. Lest anyone should suppose that from the transaction of so much business this will be an unreasonable amount of Parliamentary strength, let me ask hon. Members to contrast the state of things when I first entered Parliament, as compared with the duty now cast upon a single individual. The assistance given to the Secretary of State ought to be regular and not irregular, and though my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Vivian) has given me his valuable assistance, yet he has no constitutional place in the War Office. I say, therefore, that as far as official position is concerned I stand almost alone to represent the War Department in this House. When I entered Parliament some years ago there were responsible for the War Department Lord Derby and his Under Secretary, Mr. Hope; Sir Henry Hardinge, Secretary at War; Colonel Peel, and Colonel Boldero. My right hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty (Mr. Childers) has the assistance of my hon. and gallant Friend (Lord John Hay), the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) as his Financial Secretary, and the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) as his Civil Lord. It is not for me to magnify my Office; but, considering the duties thrown upon the War Department by the regular and reserved forces, by supply, munitions of war, fortifications, barracks, the manufacturing Departments, the education of the Army, and cognate subjects, it would be neither judicious, wise, nor practicable to begin the re-organization of the military Department without first coming to Parliament and asking for an equal amount of strength to that given to the Board of Admiralty, although the amount we seek is far less than that given to the War Department when I first entered Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for leave to bring in a Bill to make further provision relating to the management of certain Departments of the War Office.


I have listened with the greatest interest and attention to the speech of my right hon. Friend opposite. His practical proposal is to introduce a Bill by way of effecting certain changes which he proposes in the constitution of the War Office, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not think I am saying more than is fair or prudent under the circumstances, when I say I trust he will excuse me if I reserve any distinct opinion with respect to his proposals until I see the Bill which he wishes to introduce to the House. I would only say, that I fully recognize the ground upon which my right hon. Friend proposes to introduce this Bill, and that I shall be ready, as I am sure my Friends will be, to give it a fair and favourable consideration. I am happy, too, to say that in parts of the speech of my right hon. Friend I entirely concur. He dwelt very much upon the fact that under the constitution of the War Office, as it has existed for the last sixteen years, there has been, and there is, no dual government in principle. Indeed, I am not sure that I should not myself go further upon this point than my right hon. Friend, and with, all due deference to the opinion of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White), who seems to know more about the War Office than those who have served in it, I beg to say that I, having held the office of Secretary of State for about two years, have not found practically any dual government. I must further express my opinion that my right hon. Friend only did justice to His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief in the remarks he has made this evening. This is no new question. It was introduced last year by the hon. Member for Brighton himself, and I stated then that during the time I held office, I had no reason to doubt theoretically and practically the subordination of the Commander-in-Chief. It is only due to His Royal Highness to say that my right hon. Friend has acknowledged that there is no one who has more entirely recognized his subordination to the Secretary of State than the Commander-in-Chief has done; and he has done this not only theoretically, but practically. The next point upon which the right hon. Gentleman spoke—and here again I am disposed entirely to concur with him—was as to the necessity that exists for a Minister charged with the arduous duties of Secretary for War to have assistance in this House. Nobody, perhaps, ought to have had better opportunities of knowing with respect to the necessity of this assistance than myself, for it was my fortune to be transferred at once from the Admiralty to the War Office; and when I was First Lord of the Admiralty I was one of five officials representing that Department in this House; whilst, when I was transferred to the office of Secretary of State for War, in 1867, I found myself entirely alone. The present situation of the Secretary for War is, as the right hon. Gentleman has stated, one of the results of the changes that were effected in 1855, when the previous indefensible system in force at the War Office was put an end to. The system that prevailed in that Department before 1855 broke down, as everybody who had any knowledge of the subject foresaw it must do, whenever it was put to the practical test of carrying on a war; but, unfortunately, the change was not made until the breakdown had been discovered by experience, and then in the face of a war going on at the time. Of necessity then it was made with precipitation, and I have always been of opinion that it was carried too far. The Ordnance Department, for instance, ought not, I think, to have been made a mere branch of the office of Secretary for War. My right hon. Friend proposes to revive the office of Clerk of the Ordnance. I shall express no opinion upon that subject, however, until I have had an opportunity of considering the Bill. I was very much struck last Session by the most peculiar arrangement, as I then thought it, by which my right hon. Friend, feeling, as I did, the impossibility almost of a single Minister carrying on the duties of the War Office single-handed, transferred a Lord of the Treasury to the War Department. I prophecied last year that that arrangement could not be maintained, and I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has come to the same conclusion, and has decided that the Secretary of State for War should receive the assistance of Colleagues in his own Department, to which he is not only entitled, but without which I do not believe any Gentleman holding this arduous office can carry on the business connected with it. My right hon. Friend proceeded to express great confidence that an early period the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Commissioner of the Board of Works (Mr. Ayrton) would provide him with plans for a new office. I can pronounce no opinion upon that subject. I can only hope that the right hon. Gentleman may be successful in this part of his scheme.


said, he rose in consequence of the personal reference which had been made to him by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington), and hence he could not forbear remarking that when he found a pleasant unanimity existing between the front-benches on both sides of the House, the experience of many years had always induced him to look upon the subject of that unanimity with a vast amount of suspicion. He believed the best votes he had ever given were adverse ones to measures in favour of which the occupants of both front-benches went into the same lobby. He thought that the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) would effect a notable improvement in the existing system at the Horse Guards and in the War Office. Seeing that the Government was pledged to bring forward a considerable measure of military reform, he must confess his disappointment that the Secretary of War did not propose to go still further in the direction he (Mr. White) had recommended last Session. In his humble judgment, a comprehensive scheme, which should embrace a thorough re-organization of our military administration, was not only a national requirement, but an Imperial necessity. The time was long past to tolerate, without protest, any mere patchwork, piecemeal legislation, bit-by-bit reforms, mere cobbling of old abuses to serve the turn of present or expectant placemen. What was required was that the Army should be popularized. It should not be, as it now was, a mere dub for the aristocratic and the rich, but should be converted into a truly national service. The business or profession of a soldier should be made to be an occupation to be worked at, not played with merely, and the military career should be raised to such a condition that it should be sought for, not shunned by, deserving people.


said, he hoped the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White) would permit him to express the pleasure with which he had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cardwell). The hon. Member had got the wild idea into his head that the Secretary for War was under the control of the Royal Prince, and he appeared to be unable to get rid of it. Questions had been asked in order to prove to him that he was wrong, and he had been told by many that his hobby was misplaced. The observations of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, coupled with the statements made by His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief himself, should have convinced the hon. Member that his bugbear was without foundation. But, in his opinion, the cause of this bugbear was really a geographical question of bricks and mortar, and could not be traced to divided authority. Possibly the bugbear would cease to exist when the Secretary of State and Commander-in-Chief controlled the Army from one office and under one roof. It had also caused him much satisfaction to hear that the building was to be constructed under the direction of the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Ayrton). They had no doubt heard a statement from him that he was not a market gardener, nor an architect, nor an engineer; but within one week of the meeting of Parliament his hon. Friend had found out that he must be something more than a check clerk, and that he must know something of art, as all the public buildings of the metropolis were under his control. He was also glad of this measure, because it would do justice to his hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Vivian), who occupied the anomalous position of a Bashi Bazouk in the House as a War Lord of the Treasury; he would now be relieved from his position of Bashi Bazouk and become a regular soldier. The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White), who took large views of this question, scouted these "fiddling" reforms and demanded something great; but it was evident from his reference to aristocracies crowding the Army that he was thinking of the purchase system, the abolition of which, however, would somewhat interfere with his craving for economy. The principles of division of labour and unity of responsibility laid down by the Secretary for War would be found in the end to be a great reform, though perhaps its comprehensiveness was not discerned by the hon. Member for Brighton. Experience had proved the absolute necessity of controlling officers of State by a single head, and he was convinced that the measure of his right hon. Friend would not only be productive of efficiency but economy also. Whatever the result of the measure as regards the Army, it would prove eminently satisfactory to one hon. Member, though of course impossible to surmise at present who he might be.


said, he did not agree either with the Bill or with the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White). He thought that in so far as they organized the War Department they were running contrary to the instincts of the country, which was opposed to a standing army. A standing army was regarded by the country as enormously expensive, dangerous to its liberties, and an element of weakness, as leading the people to trust their defence to mercenaries, which a standing army was. ["No, no!"] The Volunteer force, as far as it had been allowed to be developed by professional jealousy, had shown that it was enough, with those scientific corps that he would not object to maintain, for the complete defence of the country.


said, he did not object to the Bill, as he considered that the military Departments should be represented in this House by a responsible Minister of the Crown; but he hoped it was not intended to take the patronage entirely out of the hands of the Commander-in-Chief; for if that were done a defect in the Navy which most people deplored would be copied in the Army. If supreme control in patronage were placed in the hands of a Secretary of State, political services would often be rewarded to the neglect of military skill.


said, he did not agree with the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) that the people of England wished to abolish the standing army, but they wished it to be an efficient army. He wished to ask if it was intended to provide a system of control over the contracts in the Army of the same nature as existed in the Navy. The Army was a spending department as much as the Navy, and it ought to be as effectually controlled. In the Navy the whole of the contracts had been placed in the hands of the Secretary to the Admiralty, which had resulted in the saving of several thousands a-year. He wished to know whether it would not be possible to introduce a similar system of control into Army expenditure.


trusted that the gentlemen who might be appointed to supervise the new Departments of Stores and Finance would be chosen for their special qualifications to fill those offices. Hitherto it had been the practice to appoint military officers to vacant departments; but he was unable to see why a military officer was specially qualified to undertake the purchase of cloth.


received with satisfaction the statement that the dual government of the Army had ceased to exist. Even if, as was now stated, there had been a mistaken impression as to the fact of the existence of the dual government, the removal of that impression was highly desirable, for undoubtedly it had existed among numberless persons out-of-doors and also in the Army. The concentration of the Departments in a single building would also be advantageous, for until that was done dual government would not really have been got rid of. As to the abolition of the purchase system, he quite admitted that it would be impossible to carry this out all at once, but it could be done gradually. Sooner or later the question must be faced, and he was quite prepared to point out the manner in which it ought to be approached.


said, he understood the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) to say that he contemplated some considerable additions to the War Office. In the event of these being found necessary, he wished to know whether it was intended to extend the present building in Pall Mall, or to take into consideration the Report of the Treasury Commission, which recommended that the Army and Navy Departments should be brought into immediate juxtaposition with the other public offices.


It was not my desire to convey to the House that any actual plan as to building had been determined upon, for on this point I am not in a position to speak with certainty. What I did say was that I was very sensible of the practical convenience and advantage that would result from the Departments being housed under one roof; and no effort on my part shall be spared to bring about that result as soon as possible. The arrangement which has been made to terminate all correspondence between the two offices, and to treat the whole correspondence as inter-official, is, I take it, a conclusive proof of the spirit in which we are acting. In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert), I would say that one of the first things I did after coming into office was to appoint a Committee to consider the question of contracts, as to which I feel great interest and am most desirous to prevent abuses. Finding that our friends at the Admiralty were exerting themselves with great zeal on the subject, I have instructed our director of contracts to keep in constant communication with them. Accordingly, we each have the fullest information of what is going on in the other branch of the service; and if either Department can get anything at a cheaper rate the other has the benefit of it. As to what the hon. Member for Dover (Major Dickson) said about political patronage, my opinion entirely agrees with his; and I quoted the opinion expressed by the Committee, which is also my own opinion, that political patronage, if introduced into the Army, would be the greatest possible mischief, and nothing shall induce me to be a party to anything of the kind. With regard to the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White) I do not know really what he wants me to state. My object was that we should begin at the beginning, and for that purpose that we should ask Parliament to give us the aid of a certain number of Parliamentary officials in re-organizing the Departments. Till that is done, if the House consents to the proposal, it would be useless to make any further statement. But when these appointments are made every possible despatch will be used in pushing forward the improvements contemplated; and I am persuaded we are beginning at the right end.

Motion agreed to. Bill for making further provision relating to the management of certain Departments of the War Office, ordered to be brought in by Mr. CARDWELL and Captain VIVIAN. Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 30.]