§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
rose to move the addition of the clause regarding enlistment, which stood upon the Notice Paper in his name. He wished the House to declare by statute—That no person hereafter enlisted as a soldier in any regiment of cavalry or infantry of the Line shall be called upon to serve Her Majesty out of the United Kingdom until he shall have attained the age of twenty years.He should have preferred moving the insertion of these words as an addition to the 6th clause of the Bill, which, from the outset, had engaged the attention of every thoughtful man, because it was the only one of the 36 clauses proposed by the Government which had relation to the great body of the Army. Questions concerning the rights and wrongs of the officers had engaged the attention of the House in the first instance. Naturally so; for the officers had been truly said to be the heart and spirit of the Army. But when these had had full consideration, it was only reasonable that some thought should be taken deliberately and seriously for the condition, capacity, and character of the rank and file. The 6th clause, however, having been withdrawn, nothing remained for him but to raise the question in the manner he now proposed. He would, in the spirit of candid and earnest remonstrance, ask Ministers to 226 consider the position in which they stood. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War developing the plans of the Government with respect to Army reform was not addressed to the House upon a Motion for leave to bring in a Bill, but when moving the Army Estimates, which exceeded those of last year by £2,800,000. The Ministerial project of military reorganization, as then expounded, was the consideration offered for this vast increase of national burdens. The Government had drawn upon their confidence, and the House had accepted the Bill. No division took place on the second reading. Modifications of detail were left open for discussion, as well as periods of payment, and the ways and means whence the funds should be drawn. All these questions had been debated, and nearly every point had been ruled in favour of the Government. The whole patronage of the Army was about to be transferred to them from the neutral trusteeship in a Commander-in-Chief established by Mr. Pitt, at the instance and with the sanction of Mr. Fox, and which had subsisted for well nigh 80 years. The property qualification for commissions was to be abolished without stipulation or condition of any kind, and the Government claimed that the whole power of selection should be henceforth placed at their disposal. The direction and control of the Militia, which in one shape or other had for centuries belonged to local authority—wisely, as Bacon, Pym, Somers, Walpole, Fox, and Russell thought—was henceforth to be concentrated in the hands of the Executive. The Government had not only made sure of the money immediately required, but they proposed to commit Parliament to an expenditure in future years of many millions. A material part of the consideration held forth, to us for all this transfer of power and concession of supplies was the promise that we should have not only a better Army than we had now, but an Army so complete and so reliable that, not merely danger, but any misgiving as to danger from invasion should once and for ever be extinguished. The character of the Army was to be uplifted, the constitution of the Army was to be consolidated, and the complement of Regular troops was to be completed for a force of about 200,000 men. When Ministers offered 227 to provide this great array, the House supposed they spoke of men. The House agreed to the price, but took for granted that the goods would be of standard weight, and the article up to sample. Would it be wise, decorous, or just, to seem to withhold any part of the consideration by tendering which the Government had obtained such unprecedented grants of power, patronage, and pay? Having made the transfer, it was their duty, as guardians of the property and lives of the people, to stipulate for something on their behalf; and, in his opinion, it would be a great and valuable consideration if they could say that the greatest blot on our military system, in a national point of view, was wiped out for over, and that the lives of the youth of the nation should in future be safe from a system which had been branded with every term of obloquy and reprobation. He would consider the matter in a military point of view, a medical point of view, and in a social point of view. Some guarantee for a better system of enlistment; some security that the condition of the private soldier should be improved, was surely no unfitting stipulation for the House of Commons to make on behalf of the people. The question of recruiting, so far from being a subordinate or incidental portion of the general question, was, he contended, that which went to the very quick of Army reform. But Ministers having withdrawn their only enlistment clause, there remained no other course for Parliament to adopt than that which he respectfully submitted to the Committee — namely, the addition of a new clause, forbidding in future the sending of youths at an immature ago to serve as soldiers abroad. The evils of our enlistment system confessedly were not new. In a letter of the Duke of Wellington, in 1811, to an honoured kinsman of his (Sir Henry Torrens), who then held the post of Military Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, there were these words—"The Government have never taken a comprehensive view of the subject of recruiting." Those words, 60 years old, might have been repeated with truth every day since then. When they were obliged suddenly to send an Army to the Crimea the adequacy of our system of enlistment was put to the proof, and its failure did not depend upon the ipse dixit of a civilian like himself, for they had the 228 opinions of the highest military authorities on the subject. Lord Hardinge, before the Sebastopol Committee in 1855, accounted for his inability as Commander-in-Chief to give more support to Lord Raglan in the Crimea, in terms not to be forgotten. He said—Our peace establishment had been allowed to run so low that, after making the first effort, and sending out 25,000 men, we could do nothing more than forward young recruits. We made them pretty perfect in drill in a couple of months; but instead of sending out bone and muscle, they were, he might say, only gristle. When we came, in November and December, in the face of the winter, to send out these raw recruits, it was impossible to expect them to resist hard work and the inclemency of the weather so well as other and more seasoned men.Lord Raglan, when informed by the Duke of Newcastle that he had 2,000 recruits ready to send to him, replied that—Those last sent were so young and unformed that they fell victims to disease, and were swept away like flies.Sir De Lacy Evans, at the same time, wrote that the draughts sent to him were composed of men quite too young to bear the strain of the winter encampment and of the work of the trenches. Most of the distinguished men who held command in the Crimean struggle had passed away; but one remained whose jealousy for the honour of the country he had served so well, whose sympathy for the rank and file he had so often led in danger, and whose clear and calm discernment in all that related to military discipline had not been dimmed by years. Two days after the Notice of this Motion was given, Sir John Burgoyne wrote to him, saying—Your principle of preventing the employment of youths under 20 years of age on foreign service is both important and just.He proceeded to point out the difficulty, which arose from the fact that inexperienced youths were more easily induced to enlist than men above 20 years, who knew the world, and who knew their own minds. But, far from shrinking from the difficulty, Sir John Burgoyne went on to show how it might be met successfully by letting enlistment be placed under a regulation that the recruit should not be called to serve abroad until he was 21—Each regiment should always have a battalion at home in which would be these youths in a state of progress with others older in the service. 229 Such battalions would form valuable reserves from which to draught for the foreign.Another friend of his, Sir Anthony Stransham, who had filled the post of Inspector General of Marines, had like-wise favoured him with his judgment in this matter—I am clearly of opinion that the best article is always the cheapest. The boy soldier is not the useful article; 20 is the earliest age when the physique of the man is fully developed. Therefore, to obtain the most efficient article at the most economical cost, take the recruit at a more mature age, and so avoid the inevitable breakdown of the present race of recruits. It will be found better and cheaper to bid high for a sounder article. The prohibition of foreign service by boy-soldiers is of the first importance, and fixing the age at 20 is only a fair proposal.He (Mr. Torrens) entirely concurred in the soundness of this opinion. He believed that parsimony in the choice of either men or munitions of war was a miserable and delusive economy. He believed that we lost shamefully a great deal of what we tried to save shabbily; and that even as a question of annual expenditure, it was bad financial policy to enlist weak boys instead of strongmen. What would be thought of a Minister who came to Parliament with estimates framed for other items on the unworthy principle of trying to find the worst species of article, and defending its purchase because it was the lowest in price? Who would venture to justify the buying of sabres that would snap, and bayonets that would bend, merely because they were cheap? And the rule ought to be essentially the same against imperfect weapons and imperfect men. He had another letter from a distinguished general officer, Sir Charles Daubeney, with whom he had not the honour of being acquainted; and which, though addressed to a mutual friend, he had permission to read—I have had 30 consecutive years of regimental experience in all climates, hot, temperate, and cold, in quarters and in the field, and I am undoubtedly of opinion that no soldier is properly efficient until he is 20 years of age, and that he should not be taken away from his dopôt or training establishment until he has attained that age, and until he is fit to take his place in the ranks as a fighting soldier—that is to say, able to march 15 or 20 miles a-day, carrying, at the same time, the full equipment which every soldier must carry during a campaign, and fight a battle afterwards if necessary, and do this for weeks consecutively, in all weathers, roads or no roads, and frequently on short rations, without knocking up. Boys of 18 or 19 cannot do it. It is gross cruelty to require them to attempt it, and it is a fraud on the 230 public to call them soldiers and lead the nation to believe that they have an efficient Army, when so large a portion of it is composed of youths hardly able to carry themselves for a 10 hours' march, much less able to go forth equipped as a soldier must be … Such boys soon break down under the trial—they choke the hospitals, ruin their half-formed constitutions, and endanger the safety of an Army in the field not only by becoming non-effective at the precise moment when their services are most urgently wanted, but by hampering the resources of a general at a time when all his energies ought to be concentrated on some particular movement of the enemy … It costs more to feed, carry and take care of one sick soldier than it does to maintain three healthy ones in the best possible fighting condition.The late President of the College of Surgeons, Mr. Guthrie, who early in life had had great experience in the Peninsula, and who, as a writer on surgery, was of European fame, felt himself bound, in season and out of season, to press upon every Minister for War the hideous and hateful evils of premature enlistment. He failed to move the Department; and its neglect of his warnings and admonitions hurt him deeply. But he took a noble revenge. He never ceased to urge upon his pupils the duty of exposing the mischief and misery of that system, and of diffusing a knowledge of its danger and its shame. And there was now scarcely a man of character in the profession who would stand up and defend it. Professor Parkes, a member of the Medical Council of Education, who had had great experience in camp and hospital in India and the Crimea, in the latest edition of his well-known work on practical hygiene, thus speaks of the danger and loss of immature enlistment—"The age of 17 or 18 is too low. The youngest recruit should be 20 or 21." Dr. Parkes illustrated his views by appealing to the acknowledged fact that the process of ossification had not even begun to be completed at the age of 18. And that especially as regarded the ribs, spine, and limbs, the epiphyses were not united to the shaft of the bones till a much later period. These views were fully borne out by many other eminent medical authorities. Dr. Lyons, who reported to Government on the diseases of the Army in the Crimean camp, writes—The immature youths of 18 to 20 succumbed at once to the hardships of campaigning, or perished after operations performed for wounds. When examined after death the ends of the long 231 bones of the legs and arms still showed the cartilaginous state incompletely knit.Sir George Ballinghall, for many years Regius Professor of Surgery in Edinburgh, in a work of high authority laid down broadly the principle for which he was contending; and he might also cite the testimony of Dr. Beatson, of Netley, Dr. Muir, Inspector General of Hospitals at Calcutta, and Dr. Mouat, who had had great experience as a medical man in the barracks and the prisons of India to the same effect. In truth, he had sought in vain for any one dissentient of scientific or practical repute from the doctrine so many distinguished authorities had laid down. The Report of the Royal Commission in 1863, appointed to inquire into the health of the Army in India, of which Lord Derby was chairman, Sir Ranald Martin, Dr. Farr, Dr. Sutherland, and other eminent persons were members, recommended distinctly that no more recruits be sent to India, until they had completed their drill and had reached the age of 21. Eight years had come and gone since that advice was tendered to the Government, but it had not been taken. If we are asked to leave the matter to the War Department, we point to the fact and say, you have had the discretion and you have not used it; you have known the truth and you have not given heed to it. Official eyes you have had, but they seemed to see not; official ears you have had, but they seemed to hear not. What avails exposure or expostulation? Routine left to itself revolved on its own axis, and, obeying the law of its nature, moved round and round in the orbit of blunder. Three years later you had another Commission—that of Recruiting—presided over by another ex-Secretary of State. In their Report, which bore the signatures of Lord Dalhousie, the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), and many other persons of weight and character, the objections to early enlistment as stated by Sir James Gibson were embodied, and the means by which the ignorant and undiscerning were inveigled into entering a service for which they were physically unfit, was branded with reproach. The Report of 1866 stated that in 1844 the average of the rank and file under age was 25 per cent, and that in 1864 it was 22½ per cent; but, instead of 232 continuing to mend our ways, we seem to have retrograded, and of late to be rapidly getting from bad to worse. A Return upon the Table showed that in the 54th Regiment the proportion was actually about 50 per cent, and if he was not inaccurately informed, he feared it would be found that other regiments now under orders for India, as regarded their component elements, were in no better plight. Was it not high time, then, for Parliament to interpose? Among the military maxims of Napoleon, the following was to be found:—"The first quality of a soldier is the ability to support fatigue and privation; physical courage is only the second." It might be said that this was the philosophy of Napoleon, but not his practice. Well, it was, indeed, true that in the period when too much triumph had made him dream that he had surmounted the ordinary liabilities of fortune, he did impress into his ranks youths who, when confronted with unlocked for resistance, proved wholly wanting; but the great things in his wonderful career were not accomplished by such means. It was with the Army which he had spent two whole years in organizing and training at Boulogne that he suddenly invaded South Germany and won Austerlitz. And when, after Moscow and Leipsic, he stood at bay against Confederate Europe in arms, an Empire, crown, and life all hung in the balance; and when a subservient Senate voted him for the campaign of 1814 280,000 men, M. Thiers describes in remarkable language his reluctance to call into the field the large proportion of these who were under age. He preferred to rely upon the military classes of 1811, 1812, and 1813, which had already furnished him such numerous contingents, at the risk of provoking an unpopularity he could ill afford, sooner than summon to the battle-field youths who were under age. Again, in 1815, on his return from Waterloo, he was urged to arm the youth of Paris. There was a graphic description by another French historian of his pacing alone the garden walks of the Elysée, and hearing the shouts of the populace, bidding him not despair, and offering to enlist in defence of the capital. But he refused, as we know, every suggestion of the kind. We had seen too recently what had come of the opposite course. Had anyone read the wise and courageous speech in the 233 French Assembly of General Trochu without being convinced of the insensate folly of resorting to immature and undisciplined crowds in order to confront a drilled and adult Army. In Prussia it was a standing rule of her organization not to admit recruits under 20 years of age. The same rule obtained in Austria and Switzerland; and in Russia, where manhood was of tardier growth, the limit of admission was fixed at 21. Thus we had a concurrence of opinion and of practice which it would be idle to affect to disregard protecting the years of adolescence, and pointing out the duty which lay on us, as the supreme guardians of our people, not to permit them to be tempted or drawn into undertaking work to which they were unequal, and injuring rather than strengthening the defensive force of the country. Let them glance for a moment at the experience of the United States, and see what was done and what was thought of those things there. He had the work of Dr. Hammond, Surgeon General to the Army, which consisted of a number of Papers prepared by him for the Sanitary Commission of the Union. He says—"The recruit should be a full grown man, and not a boy. The most eligible age being from 20 to 25 years." In America, the Army was small in time of peace, but it was highly paid compared with ours. He had the opportunity recently of learning, from one who had served three years in the ranks, what, the soldiers' condition and remuneration were. By law the age is not limited to 20 years; but in practice the great majority have arrived at the age of manhood before they are accepted as recruits. No difficulty is experienced in filling up vacancies in the ranks when they occurred; and why? Because the men were entitled to receive their pay without stoppages for the price of their food. Before the war the pay was at the rate of 12s. a-week. It was now nominally higher; but perhaps it might be taken as not really worth more, on account of the difference in the currency. The keep of the soldier cost the Government more, because the cost of living generally was higher than with us. But whatever it cost, the soldier had the pay earned without deductions upon that account, and hence it was that the service was not unpopular, and that even in a country where wages are so high and the openings for adventure 234 much more numerous than here, adults were never wanting to enter the ranks. The Secretary for War had said that organization was the business of the Executive, and that it was not necessary, therefore, for Parliament to deliberate on many of the most important subjects which he had to decide. But the House of Commons would not easily be schooled into forgetting its oldest traditions. How its will was to be carried into effect was the proper function of the Executive; but what it would have carried into effect Parliament alone must judge. Let it not be said that the Horse Guards alone could decide on matters of discipline, and the War Office alone on matters of cost. Whenever such pretensions were raised they ought to be smitten down. The House of Commons were the guardians of the properties and lives of a nation, and that sacred trust they cannot delegate and will not devolve on Ministers, however worthy or able. He was of the Parliament of 1865, and voted with Ids gallant Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Otway) against the protests of the War Office and the Horse Guards, that corporal punishment should cease. They were told that discipline could not be maintained and that they must take the responsibility of mutiny and desertion. They were not seared by those throats, but voted the inhibition. Three days afterwards the Secretary for War and other right hon. Gentlemen who sat near him came down to the House and reversed their vote. But what happened? Why that the following Session his hon. Friend and himself came again, and by that time the impossibility had thawed into a possibility; and a General Election being at hand, they found a number of hon. Gentlemen convertible whom they could never convert before. Why was this? Because public opinion was with them, and public opinion was with them now. Public opinion would not allow them to go on, to use General Daubeney,'s words, "year after year shipping multitudes of children to the tropics to their inevitable destruction," for no better reason than that it had been the practice, it was still the practice, and that it would be less trouble to let the practice continue. The practical question then was, what could be done? He had not the presumption to offer a suggestion of his own; but he was deeply impressed by the concurrence 235 of opinion on the part of men who possessed great experience in favour of one or other of two methods, each of which had its advantages, and each of which, he was confidently assured, would secure, if cordially and energetically tried, the great end they all had in view. Sir John Burgoyne thought that each regiment should have a home battalion, consisting of young men who had their elementary duties of drill and discipline to learn, with whom should be associated a certain proportion of veterans, and from which, when they had reached the age of 21, they might be draughted with safety into the battalion liable for service abroad. There were obvious benefits connected with this distribution and arrangement which it was hardly necessary to point out. The youth of 19, instead of waiting or idling until he had reached the appointed time of eligibility for soldiership, would be, as now, admissible to wear his country's uniform; to learn what could not be learnt without continuous attention by any man, in any region of the world; and to look forward at no distant day to be called, not out of his regiment, but to join his elder companions, who should have a few months preceded him on active service abroad. He would, in short, be in a state of progress, bodily and mental; and a current of sympathy and ambition would be set up in the regiment from the day the recruit entered the training battalion to the day he entered the active battalion; and therein he would have tangibly before him the hope of recompense and return before he was outworn to take his place in the Reserve. There was another plan, which was recommended by the high authority of Lord Sandhurst. He would allow youths to be enlisted in the Militia, which, in some respects, would be identical with the home battalion, from which the corresponding regiment would draw its recruits when they reached the age of 20 years, and into which, after the six years' term with the colours, men would return to be enrolled as an efficient portion of the Reserve. There were differences of detail between the two schemes into which he would not enter; and it was very possible that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War might say that he could suggest a third which was neither one or the other, but which, in his opinion, would be something better 236 than either. Then by all means let them have it. So that it accomplished the saving them the national reproach and peril of the present annual holocaust, the House of Commons would not be very hard to please about its nomenclature or configuration. His right hon. Friend could not, and would not, he was sure, say that what was desired could not be done; for he had already announced that he was disposed to move in the direction they required, and that, in some way or other unexplained, he was willing to try whether he could restrain the practice of sending children in uniforms to our tropical outposts. But let him not deceive himself with the notion that this great question, once raised, would ever be allowed to rest again, until the people of this country had got security for the total abolition of this reckless and ruinous malpractice. Were he an enemy of the right hon. Gentleman, what could he say more bitter against him than that, having the power and knowing the fact, he had allowed the evil to go on up to this time without any attempt to extinguish it? He would not do him such injustice, because he thoroughly believed that until Parliament interposed with a high hand its interdict, no Secretary of State would ever be able, even though he were willing, to bring this evil system to an end. It was very like what occurred regarding the abolition of slavery. Year after year the demand was made, the evil admitted, and benevolent promises given by Secretary after Secretary of State, that orders would be issued to lessen the mischief, and gradually to work the cure. But slavery would have gone on until this day, if the House of Commons had not resolved that it should be abolished once and for ever. He repeated what he had already said, and should never cease to say, until the truth was admitted and inscribed in the Statute Book—that we should get the proper men if we paid the proper price for them. Putting aside all considerations of health and availability for ordinary duty, and putting aside all considerations of cost and sickness, was it conceivable that we should be contented to rely on such materials for our Army, on whose conduct our existence as a nation must depend? Would they insure their houses or their lives with a company the half of whom they knew to be worth next to 237 nothing? It could hardly be doubted that the current of public opinion had set in strongly and steadily in favour of a thorough change in this primary and essential element of military organization; and he trusted that the feeling of the House would be in unison with the feeling of the public at large, and that we might place the Army, as regarded the rank and file, gradually, but permanently, cautiously but irreversibly, upon a different and a better footing than that whereon it hitherto had stood. He thought the time had come when, if they wished to have a national Army, the stupidity and inexperience of youth, and the recklessness of ragamuffinry crimped in public houses, should give way to the intelligent, loyal, useful, sound-hearted, and able-bodied men, who might be drawn from all sections of the industrious community. Let them, in this respect, be admonished by what Prussia, Switzerland, America, and France in her better days—days which he trusted would soon return again, had wisely and deliberately done. Let them trust the defence of the country to an Army which would be worthy of the nation, in sympathy with, and part and parcel of that ancient commonwealth for whose existence it was the pledge and guard. Then, indeed, they might care very little for the threats of foreign Powers; for with their Fleet for the first line of defence, and their Army for the second, their safety would be secured. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Clause.
(Recruit to be twenty years of age.)
No person enlisted as a soldier in any regiment of cavalry or of the line shall be called upon to serve Her Majesty out of the United Kingdom until he shall have attained the age of twenty years.—(Mr. M'Cullagh Torrens.)
§ MR. HOLMS
said, he rose for the purpose of supporting the clause of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens); but as it limited only the age at which men should be enlisted for service out of the United Kingdom, he had ventured to add an Amendment, the effect of which was to limit the age of soldiers for home service to 19 years. He regarded this Amendment as a natural and necessary corollary to the clause of his hon. and learned Friend; and he was convinced that if enlistment was allowed to go on, 238 under 20 years for foreign, and 19 years for home service, the Army would decline in power and strength, and they would have few deserving the name of men fit to go forth and do battle. But, both as regarded the proposition of his hon. and learned Friend and his own Amendment, it appeared to him that it was essentially necessary they should consider two points—two points which he thought ought to be placed before the Committee and the country fully and clearly. The first of the points was with respect to the present system of enlistment; and upon that he would venture to make to the House a few statements which might be novel, and would, he thought, be useful on that occasion. The second and all-important point was, how they could best obtain an Indian and colonial Army, perfectly distinct and separate on the one hand, and a home Army perfectly distinct and separate on the other, and yet both be blended together, maintaining that harmony of working which was necessary in a complete military organization. Now, as regarded the first important question to which he had alluded, he would wish to draw the attention of the House to some facts bearing on the more prominent features of the present system of recruiting. But before dealing with that portion of his subject, he wished to point out some facts in relation to another department, which, he was sorry to say, was also important—namely, the running-away department. They had in their recruiting system three departments: first, the department proper for recruiting, under the Horse Guards; secondly, this running-away department, under the War Office; and, thirdly, the department for discharging men, which is conducted by a Board of Commissioners at Chelsea, As regarded the running-away department, he found that whilst in the years 1867 and 1868 no less than 68,000 presented themselves for enlistment, of that number 18,000 were required to fill the places of those who had run away from the Army, and from recruits before final approval. Reducing it still more clearly, out of this total of 68,000 men, 42,360 passed and were accepted, but during the same period 14,250 ran away, or, in other words, deserted the Army; so that, in reality, every third man enlisted was required to make up the deficiency caused by desertion. 239 Well, it appeared to him that, taking this circumstance into consideration, and having regard also to the fact that out of 6,000 men who annually deserted, 2,400 were recovered, and out of that number 146 had deserted twice, and 4 three times, how would it be possible to conduct any business in that country, where they had so many people determined not to serve them? But, worse than that, he found, in 1869, that whilst the number of recruits that passed as worthy to serve Her Majesty amounted to 11,089, they discharged that year 2,793 men as bad characters—men that they did not like; and that 4,122 ran away because they did not like them, we that they had nearly 7,000 to supply by fresh recruiting. That, in his opinion, made the service a complete sham. It was like trying; to fill a bucket with a hole in its bottom: they would lose nearly as much as they gathered; and they were spending a great deal of money for nothing. He would venture to point out to the House those details, because it appeared to him that they were a good deal in the habit of discussing great principles alone; but details were to great principles precisely what pence were to pounds. He ought also to allude to the expense connected with the recovery of these men—£6 5s. per man, besides the time lost by the imprisonment. Well, it appeared to him not a little remarkable that this state of things could possibly exist, and he had made some inquiry himself with the view of solving the difficulty. He visited one of the recruiting depôts—a depôt the most important in this country, seeing that out of the 14,000 approved men who passed last year, over 7,000 passed through this particular depôt. That depôt was St. George's Barracks, behind the National Gallery, and he found there one apartment—a large apartment, very clean and well lighted no doubt—a dormitory. It was abundantly supplied with air—that was to say, there appeared to be an ample space per man, but the beds were of the most filthy and abominable description; and that was the place where recruits were first introduced. But that was passable compared with some other things that he saw there. When he went down to the day-room he found it was well lighted, but there was nothing in it except some tables and forms. The men were all hanging about; their 240 clothes would be of first-rate service to a farmer for scaring away the crows; but here men had no newspaper, nor anything for them to read; nothing whatever to form the least inducement to them to stay even within the walls of this barrack. Then, he went to see the canteen—a small room comparatively, 19 feet long and 19 feet wide, but only 9 feet high; and although it was a glorious noon-day in March, this place was lighted with gas. It was divided in the centre, through which a kind of counter ran; behind it were several people supplying the recruits, and the other side was crammed full by men. He asked himself after seeing that—Is it any wonder that out of the number of recruits that come here, some, at least, should desire to run away? A little common sense would alter this; it was not a matter of statutory law; the difficulty lay elsewhere. This place was under the guardianship of the War Office, and he held that a place in such a state was not a credit to the War Office, nor any department connected with military affairs. But he said—as a Christian nation, would they believe it—that these men were asked not only to spend week-days, but Sundays there, and there was not a Bible nor any book, of a religious or any other description, to look at? They had plenty of churches near, but these men might or might not go to church, and it was not creditable to the nation that they should leave them in that condition, and he felt ashamed that it was so. He was glad to see that already, since his visit, a change had taken place, some officers having provided a few pictures, and some small books to read; but what he would ask was, whether, when men found they regarded them as lightly as that, it was consistent with common sense to expect that they would serve them faithfully? Well, he regarded that question of age as being of vast importance, and it was the groundwork of the clause of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Finsbury, as well as of his (Mr. Holms') Amendment. It appeared to him that it was essentially necessary that they should thoroughly and clearly understand the position of their recruiting system, both in relation to age and occupation, during, say, the past 10 years. Now, he found that for a period of nine years—from the years 1860 to 241 1868, inclusive—they had 182,500 recruits, and out of that number 69,500 were rejected. These men were—if the House would allow him he would give the ages, because it might be an advantage to be saved the trouble of obtaining them—under 17 years of age, 4,706; over 17 and not 18, 13,635; over 18 and not 19, 40,441; over 19 and not 20, 31,246; over 20 and not 21, 23,552; over 21 and not 22, 16,854; over 22 and not 23, 14,185; over 23 and not 24, 10,986; over 24 and not 25, 10,049; and over 25, 10,610. As to the occupation of these men, he found, roundly, that 105,000 belonged to the labouring class; of mechanics and artizans, 62,000; of shopmen, 14,000; and of professional men, 1,400. He had next to refer to the important point of rejection, and he begged the House to permit him to say this, that he spoke as an employer of labour, and looked upon it as a labour question—a question of some moment to them, seeing that they, as a nation, were progressing so steadily year by year, in the employment of men and women. From the years 1832 to 1841 the recruits rejected were at the rate of 298 per 1,000; from 1842 to 1851, 335 per 1,000 — he regretted that he could not continue to quote the figures uniformly, but from 1860 to 1867, the rejections were 385 per 1,000, being an enormous increase. The reason why he fixed upon 19 years as the minimum age for men intended for home service was because he found that the number of rejections was far greater in proportion with young men than with men of more mature years. He had been furnished with a paper for January, and he found that out of 1,016 men enlisted, the percentage of rejections under 19 was 27; from 19 to 20, 24½ per cent; from 20 to 23—the age at which the Prussians take men, and wisely as he thought—a little under 19 per cent, showing that men of younger years were less fit for service. He would like to make another statement which had made an impression upon his mind, and that was as regarded the age of the men of their Army in 1868. In that year they seemed to have had 70,000 men on home service, only 12,800 of whom were less than 20 years old; whilst in India they had 46,000, 2,250 of whom were below 20. That was a contrast compared with the state of the 54th Regiment, which went out to India a 242 short time since, and more than one-half of which was declared to be composed of men under 20, And now he would pass on to the next and all-important subject—and until they had solved the difficulty he did not see how they could hope to obtain recruits with facility—he alluded to the problem—How were they to have an Army for India and the colonies which should be separate and distinct from the Army for home service, and yet be blended with it? But before speaking upon that, he was obliged to point out difficulties which had been forcibly adverted to by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War—namely, first, that it would not do to have an Army in India and the colonies perfectly distinct from that for home service, because then the Indian Army would become a class; secondly, that it was necessary to have the men serve the Queen elsewhere, if required; and, thirdly, that the officers should be permitted to have home as well as Indian service. Speaking as a business man he thought those difficulties might be overcome, and in this manner—in the place of existing regulations, they should have in their regiments three battalions, one of which should be for service for India and the colonies. Six years would, perhaps, be the appropriate period of enlistment, as medical men had declared that five years was sufficiently long for a man to serve in India, the remaining twelvemonths being set apart for going out and returning. The other two battalions should be for home service; they should be enlisted for any period of time they might consider appropriate, and, perhaps, it would not be longer than three years. They would then have one battalion continuously for India and two battalions for home service, and the officers might still exchange and interchange just as they pleased. Now, if his Amendment were carried, limiting the age for home service to 19, soldiers could remain with their battalions in the United Kingdom for a year, and then, if they chose, volunteer for India. That could not, in his humble judgment, interfere in any way with the system of short service; and as to India, they had never had any difficulty in obtaining men to go there. Now he came to the last two questions he had to ask: the first was—What did they want; and the second—How might they 243 obtain what they want? It appeared that they wanted 85,000 men for India and the colonies. At present, they had 62,000 men in India, and 25,000 in the colonies; but by the policy initiated by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, the number for the colonies would be reduced. Then they wanted for home service a standing-Army of 70,000 men, and a Reserve Army of 100,000. If they had Armies of that extent, and of the age his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Finsbury desired, as well as being well trained and disciplined, they would have a force sufficiently powerful for their requirements—larger than at present by 60,000 men; and, from its composition, greatly cheaper. Their Army would be composed of men from 19 to 28 years of age. And he would beg here to make a remark which he thought was essentially necessary at that moment. It was this—that there appeared to be a great deal of misunderstanding as to what the Prussian Army really was—and it was that Army which was specially recommended to their notice. He had seen it stated that the battles lately won by Prussia had been won by men between 20 and 23, but he ventured to say it was no such thing. The real Prussian Army — the Army sent to the field of battle, consisted of men from 20 to 28. Many men said they had seen the regiments at drill, and that the soldiers were of the former age. That was true in time of peace; but let the tocsin of war be sounded, and then they would see an Army composed of men from 20 to 28; and that was the kind of Army they would have to encounter were a misunderstanding to be created with Prussia. Speaking of our Reserves, he was one of those who were greatly in favour of having a Reserve as early as possible, because upon that alone could they found their hopes of efficiency and economy. It was a matter of grave consideration in that country, what their Reserve was to be after they had got it. Did they call it a Reserve when they gave a man a ticket as a Reserve man? What he called a Reserve was men upon whom they could depend in time of need, and upon whom they could lay their hand at any time; and until they had a system of that character, they would not have anything deserving the name of a Reserve. Now he came to the question, 244 How to obtain it?—and he had to speak still as an employer of labour, that being in one aspect a great labour question. First of all, they must treat the men better when they got them. When they introduced them, let the recruiting depôt be of that character that when they went forth themselves they would be their best recruiting sergeants, and that was the only rational way by which they could obtain men worth having. But they must also raise the price. Without an hour's hesitation, they must give 1s.. 6d. instead of 1s.. 2d. per day; and moreover, as regarded their Reserves, in place of 4d. give them 6d., and only keep them six years, and then they would get such a number of men, and pass them so quickly through into civil life again, that a foreign foe landing in this country would find that it had got in the midst of an hornet's nest. Well, then, having raised their wages, and treated them in a better way, carry out what the Government had already commenced, make the profession something more honourable by giving the men, after they were discharged, Civil Service employment. Do not give them Post Office or such like occupation until they had passed through the Reserve; but if they did so, then Army men would become equally as valuable a corps as the Commissionaires had done, and people in private life would be glad to employ them. If the profession became more honourable, and they accepted them in their service, they would give them a name and standing which would enable them to be well employed afterwards. Now, they must not forgot that they were in a changed position to what they used to be. Since 1855—since the stamp duty had been taken off the Press—the veil had been lifted that used to stand between different classes of men; that veil had been lifted up never to be interposed again. They now saw and knew everything, and unless they offered good terms they would not come to serve them; and he hoped they would allow little delay to take place, when common sense pointed out that the market was not in such a state that they could easily obtain men. As regarded the officers in charge of recruits, it appeared to him that they would be still called upon to do that duty which they had not done thoroughly in the past. He spoke with the greatest friendliness 245 of officers of the British Army, for he felt grateful to them for the kindness with which they had treated him; but he would venture to say that they might expect from them that there would be better manufacturers of soldiers in the future. He trusted the day was gone by for discussing whether a man could be made a good soldier in three years. They had seen that the Prussians could win victories, although their men only received that period of training, and there was not the slightest reason why the same should not be the case in England. But in a moral sense, and for the welfare of the nation, he was inclined to think it was all-important they should not keep men away from their trade and calling for more than three years. A broken bone, if set quickly, again united and was as strong as ever; but if long kept apart, to reunite it became impossible. So it was with a man, if they kept him away from his trade or calling for, say, three years, he would probably resume work with aptitude and readiness; but if he did not resume within a reasonable time, he never became so good a tradesman as he was before. And now he ought not to occupy the attention of the House for a longer period, he had only one word more to say, and that was that he sincerely trusted that that discussion tonight would have for its effect the introduction of a very comprehensive scheme, such as the country would appreciate. The Duke of Wellington once said—" I am aware that it is intolerable for the British Parliament to consider in time of peace what is necessary in time of war." He hoped those words would be of use and warning to them, and that they would take care, after the terrible events that had recently darkened Europe, to set their House thoroughly in order. The Amendment of which he had given Notice was—And no person shall be enlisted as a soldier for home service who is under nineteen years of age;but he understood that he had not the power to move it at the present time.
§ VISCOUNT MAHON
said, he approved of the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), and hoped the Government would be disposed to meet the Committee in that matter, because it was stated in "another place" that the 246 subject of recruiting for India had been taken into consideration by them, and that they proposed to offer a bounty of one guinea to each man over the age of 22 years who volunteered to go out there. For another reason he trusted that the Government would accede to the reasonable demand of the Amendment, because soldiers under 20 years of age were not physically able to bear the fatigue of foreign service, and were frequently after a short period of service sent home invalided. From an able analysis by Lieutenant G. Talbot, of the Prussian dragoons, it appeared that the average age at which men entered the Prussian service was 20½ years, and that a great proportion of them were, in certain cases, allowed to remain away another year. Taking that into consideration, he thought it need not be said that there was any great difficulty about this matter, for the Government would find on going into the subject that they could easily find a supply of men 20 years old to serve in the Army. The result of recruiting in London he found was not adequate to our requirements, numbering as they did only 15 a month since the 1st of January last, of whom many did not join their regiments. The easiest mode of increasing the strength of our Army would be to obtain volunteers from the Militia, the commanding officers of which force ought to be prohibited from detaining men who were willing to join the Regular forces. According to the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, this leave had sometimes been withheld. It was a good thing to abolish bounty, but to abolish pensions was a very different affair, for they would find that really serviceable men would not enlist unless the prospect of a small pension were held out to them.
§ SIR HENRY STORKS
said, the proposition of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) was one of great interest and of very great importance. The Government entirely concurred in the principle laid down by his hon. and learned Friend, and they would have supported him if he had brought forward his proposition in the form of an Address, praying that, as far as practicable, troops should not be sent abroad under 20 years of age: but when his hon. and learned Friend wished by statutory 247 enactment to oblige the Government not to send troops abroad under that age, the question assumed a very different shape. His hon. and learned Friend, in introducing this subject, had touched upon one of the most difficult problems connected with military administration. That problem was rendered more difficult of solution in this country by two causes—first, compulsory service or conscription for the Regular Army was impossible; and, secondly, very peculiar and varied services were required from the British Army. As to the system of conscription, or compulsory service, he believed there was no hon. Member, or at least very few, on either side of the House, who did not concur with him (Sir Henry Storks) in the opinion that it would be positively impossible; but while saying that, he knew that the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire and some few others thought that if it could be made use of, it would be found of great service as a keystone for organization. [Lord ELCHO: For home service.] As a soldier, he should be but too glad to be able to go into the labour market and fill up the ranks of the Army with the most efficient men he could get; but when he considered the habits, feelings, and nature of Englishmen, he did not think it possible to carry out such a system. He doubted very much whether even if the Legislature passed a law to establish compulsory service, the Government would be able to carry such a law into effect. Then, as regarded the services that were required from the British Army, he held that there was no Army in the world from which services so varied and so distant, and duties of such great importance were demanded. He did not think he could better illustrate the sort of services required from the British Army than by referring to the last regiment in which he had the honour to serve. That regiment came home from India in 1836, after a service of more than 20 years. They came home a skeleton regiment, the greater number of the men having volunteered to remain in India. Those who came home were discharged as inefficient, and in the course of the summer of 1836 the regiment was recruited. The regiment in 1840 went to the Mediterranean, after having had 11 moves, to say nothing of the moves of detachments in the United Kingdom, principally in Ireland. The 248 regiment was in the Mediterranean till 1845, having served in the Ionian Islands and Gibraltar. In 1846 they went to Jamaica; in 1848 they went to Halifax, Nova Scotia; in 1851 they returned to England; and in 1854 they joined the Army in the Crimea, for the Crimean Expedition. In July, 1856, they returned to England after the Crimean War was at an end. In August, 1857, they embarked for India, and were there still. That was a specimen of the ordinary service required from a regiment of the Line. But by the wise policy of Her Majesty's Government foreign stations were reduced, and services so excessive were not perhaps now demanded from the Army. Bad stations in the West Indies had been abolished, and our troops had been entirely withdrawn from the Australian colonies. A Return for 1862 showed that in that year we had 47 regiments of Infantry in the colonies and 56 in India; whereas in 1871 there were only 22 in the colonies and 50 in India, making in all 72 abroad. In fact, only stations of position were now kept up. The Indian service, too, had been very much modified—first, by facility of communication, and, secondly, by the introduction of railways in India. Troops instead of going round the Cape now went by the Suez Canal and the Red Sea at the best season of the year, and when they arrived in India they were sent, as far as practicable, by means of railroads to their stations. Such a circumstance could not happen now as that related lately, of a body of 137 men landing in India, only 30 of whom joined the regiment at its station. It was not so much their youth that unfitted men for the Indian service, as their not having the requisite physique resulting from good feeding and training, and regular habits. In fact, no one should be sent to India until his constitution had been entirely proved. No doubt, it would be very desirable to enlist no men but sound men, fully developed in a physical point of view; but he held that in this country that was a thing almost impossible. Such a thing could be done in a country where there was conscription, and they could go to the labour market and take such men as they required; but in a country where they had voluntary enlistment they had really to take the men more or less as they could get them. The real difficulty was to 249 catch men for the purpose of joining the Army about 20 years of age, for they were then generally engaged in some trade or calling, and were not very eligible for recruits. It had been suggested that they should offer bettor terms when they went to the labour market for men. If that was to be done by bounty, be doubted whether it would have the desired effect, for everybody knew that the system of bounty had been a fertile source of fraud and desertion. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War had abolished the system of bounty, and he was happy to say that its abolition had been attended with most excellent results. With regard to extra pay, he believed there was no hon. Gentleman of the military profession in that House who would not be of opinion that if extra pay were given to soldiers it must be done with great caution. Extra pay had not been attended with the good results that had been anticipated. There was another proposal, which had been warmly advocated some time age by a friend of his, the late Mr. Godley—namely, to pay a man a shilling a-day, and put by another shilling a-day, so as to form a fund to be given to him on his discharge. But all who had anything to do with soldiers would agree with him that all dealings with them should be ready-money transactions. There was no class who were more suspicious, or who would be more cautious in entering into any engagement in which the pay was deferred. All the statistics with regard to recruiting were highly favourable. In time of peace there was no doubt that a young Army was an advantage. General Edwards had reported that the improvement in the physique of the recruits a short time after joining their regiments was wonderful, and officers were generally agreed on that point. The Returns for one year showed that there was an improvement in the average height of one inch; when measured across the chest, of two inches; in weight, of 10 lbs. With regard to the 60th Rifles, one battalion, the 4th, had been recruited in London, and the colonel had expressed himself perfectly satisfied with his regiment. The 54th had been also alluded to. He had lately an officer of that regiment in his rooms, who stated that he had no fault whatever to find with his recruits. [Colonel 250 STUART KNOX: Did he say they were fit to go to India?] The officer stated the regiment had been medically inspected and approved. If the system of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War were in operation, allowing six years with the colours and six with the Reserves, and giving 25 per cent of old soldiers, in an emergency the Reserves would be ready to fill up the ranks of the Army, and there would be no need to go to the recruiting market. Let them take, for example, the augmentation of last year. Under the existing system they had to go to the recruiting market to raise the 20,000 they wanted; but if they had the Reserve, the Government would consider whether it was desirable to increase the Army by 20,000, or whether it would not be better to watch the course of events. Supposing that scheme were carried out, he would compare what would be the condition of the Army then with what it was at another period—for instance, 1866. In 1866 the infantry of the Army was constituted as regarded ages as follows per 1,000 men:—There were under 18 years of ago 17.8; from 18 to 20, 114.6: from 20 to 25, 275.2; from 25 to 30, 356.2; and above 30, 236.2. Under the proposed system, when the Reserves would be called out for service, 1,000 infantry would consist of 145 from 18 to 20 years of ago; of 278 from 20 to 25, of 464 from 25 to 30, and of 113 above 30. The Committee would not fail to observe that by the proposed system the numbered men above 30 years of age was only 113; while by the existing system the number of men above 30 years of age was 236. Allusion had been made to a General Order issued some time ago, as to which he would give a few explanations. The cause of that General Order was this — the peace establishment of many regiments being quite full, the Adjutant General reported that recruiting must be partially stopped. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War was very unwilling to check recruiting, and to obviate the difficulty which had arisen, a General Order was issued inviting men of not loss than three years' service to go into the Reserve, in order to keep the numbers within the limit of the establishment. That General Order had been laid on the Table in "another place," and would be produced in that House, 251 if it had not been laid on the Table already. The result had been that 22 sergeants, 186 corporals, and 2,462 out of 64,000 infantry had offered to join the Reserve. His right hon. Friend had since arranged that all the volunteers joining the first Army of Reserve, exclusive of bandsmen, should be allowed to do so at once. Measures had been taken to complete the regiments under orders for India and the Indian depôts, and men in all respects fit for Indian service, not under 22 years of age, were to be permitted to volunteer, with an allowance of a guinea. Care had also been taken not to send recruits to India under the ago of 20; such recruits were to be transferred to the other battalions of their regiments if they were at home; and if being enlisted for general service under the powers given by the Act they would be transferred to other battalions, care would be taken to explain to them why the transfer had been made. He would venture to urge that it would be very questionable policy to tie the hands of the Government by legislative enactments, prohibiting under any circumstances the employment of Her Majesty's troops under 20 years of age out of the United Kingdom. Such a legislative enactment would be very hard even on the country. There were many men under 20 years of age who would be perfectly fit to serve abroad, probably more fit than many above 20. But the great thing was to insure that these men received a perfect medical inspection, and that none should be allowed to go to India or abroad unless pronounced to be fit by the proper medical authorities. It would be impossible to agree to the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend as it stood; but Her Majesty's Government would have readily concurred if he had moved, or would concur if he would still move, an Address praying that, as far as practicable, no recruits should be sent abroad under 20 years of age.
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, that Her Majesty's Government had at last opened their eyes to the bad policy of enlisting very young soldiers, but they were indebted for that to the speech of a noble and gallant Lord "elsewhere" (Lord Sandhurst), who said that if their Armies were to consist of youths under 21 years of age, they were simply organizing defeat. Now, there was, he 252 believed, no soldier who would not assent to that statement, and the noble and gallant Lord deserved, in his opinion, the thanks of the Army for having called attention to the subject. He would beg to point out to the Committee a very important omission from the statements made by the noble Lord the Under Secretary for War in the other House. The noble Lord had stated that the greatest care was taken that young men before they enlisted should have pointed out to them the advantages and disadvantages of the service they were about to enter. This, no doubt, was correct—but nothing was said about the stations to which they might be sent. This was a point of the greatest importance for a young man to know. He had that morning received a letter from a most distinguished officer, in which the writer stated that it was very sad to see the recruits who had lately gone out to India, a great many of them being under the age of 20, which meant that they were only 18 or 19. It was true that the Commander-in-Chief had given directions that everything possible was to be done for the men; but there was no accommodation at the hill stations for the number of boys who were sent out. He would simply observe, in conclusion, that it was impossible to tell how many hundreds of the young men who were to be embarked for India next September, under the auspices of the Government, would be marched, not to the hills, but to their graves. He (Colonel North) was sure that the speech of the noble Lord in "another place," to which he had referred, would receive consideration and attention, and he hoped it would not be lost on Her Majesty's Government, who he thought ought to have been aroused to the danger of the situation from the diffiulties experienced during the Crimean War, arising in a great measure from the youthful age and consequent insufficient stamina of the reinforcements sent out to keep up the strength of the effective force in the field.
§ MAJOR DICKSON
said, that although last year he was unable to impress his views upon the House, they were now held by no less an authority than The Times, which, in an article inserted last month, after enlarging upon the mischief to a standing Army by too rapidly passing men through its ranks, said— 253A Reserve Army is of great importance, but an active Army is of more importance still, and we should hope to see it always ranked first by our military authorities.These were the principles he had always ventured to impress upon the House. The system of enlisting boys for short service was slowly but surely destroying the efficiency of the active Army of this country, and, if pursued, must, sooner or later, bring disaster to our arms and disgrace to the country. One evil was the want of adult soldiers of full ago to send to India. He could imagine nothing more likely or even more certain to bring disaster to our arms than to send mere untrained, undisciplined boys to defend the territory of India. These youths would not only fall by numbers from the effects of climate, but would be unable to hold their own against the Sikhs, the Afghans, the Ghoorkas, and other hill tribes, who would look upon Englishmen as degenerating. Such a feeling would result in a loss of prestige, followed by a loss of territory. It was incredible that any Secretary of State or Commander-in-Chief should think of sending to India regiments composed of more youths. But if even the clause now proposed were accepted, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would find it difficult, if not impossible, to carry it into effect. If boys were enlisted from 16 to 18 for active service, and then passed into the Reserve in three, or even six years' time, our active Army must be composed of mere youths, not yet physically developed, who had not had time to acquire habits of unquestioning discipline. Where was the Secretary of State to obtain men of the full age of 20 to maintain an Army of 60,000 men in India? If the Bill had really been one to re-organize the Army, amalgamating the Militia and the Regulars, there would have been no difficulty in getting rid of these young soldiers: but now he would have to transfer those youths to other regiments against their will and against the will of those regiments. Recent examples in France must show how dangerous it was to trust the honour or the territory of a country to young, untrained soldiers. Yet the right hon. Gentleman was doing that very thing. By the Short Enlistment Act the active Army would be composed of raw youths, with a doubtful Reserve behind—doubtful 254 because one-third of them would probably not be forthcoming when wanted. It was our old soldiers who gave the English Army its high character in the Peninsular and in India. If the troops engaged in the Crimea had been composed of the more striplings who were now in the ranks, we could not have boasted of the Alma; and Inkerman, instead of being a word of pride to Englishmen, would have been a disgrace and a reproach. He was disappointed that this Bill was not made more than in name an Army Regulation Bill. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would re-consider the Act of last Session, and that next year he would take the whole question of Army recruiting into his consideration, so that we might have an Army, which, if we were suddenly attacked, might maintain its high character and the honour of the country.
§ SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL
said, he thought that the restriction involved in the proposed clause might be exceedingly embarrassing in case of war. If recruits were taken at 18 years of age and well fed until they were 20 years old, they would then be fitter for foreign service than if they were kept at home and badly fed until they were of the age of 20. He thought it would be well for the hon. and learned Member for Finsbury to accept the advice of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Surveyor General of Ordnance and withdraw his clause.
§ MR. OSBORNE
I confess it seems to me that the way in which this now clause has been met is satisfactory in some respects, but not altogether. The clause of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), amid the weary waste of words that we have listened to in these debates, is to my mind the first gleam of anything like the re-organization of the Army that I have seen. It is the first intimation that any hon. Member has given that the rank and file is the most material part of the Army—its bone and sinew; in fact, that all consideration of its claims and requirements has hitherto been postponed to the wranglings over the pecuniary interests of the officers. For my own part, I confess that I am delighted to get away from that subject at all events; but I must say that I am equally disappointed with the speech made to-night—the official speech, redolent 255 of tape of the reddest description—that has been delivered by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Surveyor General of Ordnance. What did he say? If a noble Lord in "another place"—who was sent to that "other place" in order to support this Bill—if he viewed with feelings of blank dismay the recruiting system for the rank and file of the British Army—what, I should like to know, will his feelings be, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury bench? Was there, in that speech, any indication of a policy — of any better policy for the future, in order to put the Army on a more satisfactory footing? As far as I could discover, there was nothing but a recurrence to the old pigeon-holes of the Horse Guards; and although the right hon. Gentleman concurred in the alteration now proposed, he still defended the old system of recruiting. I did expect—and I have not yet abandoned the hope—that when the military man had failed the civilian Minister of War would give us his idea as to the degree of success that has been readied under the present system of recruiting. It is not sufficient to show to the House that the voluntary system gives us mere numbers. It does do that; but that is no criterion of what the Army is. What we require is a system that gives us not more numerical quantity on paper, but quality in the field. Does our present system do that? Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir Henry Storks), in those few words of his, given us any idea that the Government or the Horse Guards is in a position to comprehend the difficulties and the drawbacks incident to our present system of recruiting? I heard the speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman with blank dismay. How is our recruiting at present managed? We have seen lately a good many changes in the Orders of the Horse Guards on the subject. First, the service was for three years, now it is for six; the truth being that we are slowly forming a problematical Reserve at the expense of the standing Army. It is obvious that that is so, because the greater the demand for recruits, of course the greater will be the number of youths or "starvelings," as they have been called, that fill the ranks of your Army. The effect of this policy is already evident. Only the other day you fixed 256 upon three years as the time of service; but already you are obliged to double that period. [Mr. CARDWEIL dissented.] Does not the right hon. Gentleman admit that? [Mr. CARDWELL: No.] The right hon. Gentleman gives no sign. I maintain that the fact is incontrovertible, that the present system of recruiting and of passing the men through the Army is exposing the country to the most frightful peril should war break out. You are continually imitating what you call the Prussian system in details, but you entirely forgot one thing—that the keystone of that system is compulsory service, and it is of no sort of use imitating this slight detail of three years' service unless you take the Prussian system in toto. Now, I think a great deal may be said for that system; but we are told that in England it is an impossibility. Of course, if the Government declares a tiling to be "impossible," it will be thought to be so. Now, I have no love for compulsory service; but this I will say—that if the present system of recruiting is maintained, and if a great European crisis happens, you will be compelled to come to compulsory service. We have heard something to-night of the Crimean Army, and how it broke down; but is my hon. Friend (Mr. Torrens) aware that the first Army, before it left our shores was in so unsatisfactory a condition that a great portion of it was weeded out and kept as a Reserve; that it did not sail until it had undergone complete medical inspection; and that a great portion of the men were withdrawn? And why was that? The present system of recruiting was the cause. Now, we have heard something of the pay of the soldier, and it has been said from the Treasury bench that that is not the way to popularize the Army. I think, and have always thought, that if you want to get good men you must give them good pay, and if you want to popularize the Army, the first step is to increase the pay of the soldier. We know that the wages of mechanics and skilled and unskilled labour of all kinds have been advancing for 20 years; whereas the pay of the soldier has advanced very slightly indeed—2d. per day has been, I think, the extreme advance within the last 10 years. How can you expect to got in this country the proper sort of men—"marvellous proper men," as they used to be called in the old phrase— 257 unless you pay them fairly?—the fact being that you now draft into your Army the sweepings of the streets of our towns and all the drunken and idle follows of the country, or a great proportion of them. Will anyone pretend that the Army is now a popular institution? If a widow has a son who joins the ranks, docs she not look upon him as utterly lost? When you talk of the treatment of the soldier, listen to the evidence of Colonel Cameron — one of the colonels quoted by the Treasury bench—who gives the case of one Samuel Corrigan, who served in three campaigns, was wounded severely several times, had the Turkish medal, had three clasps, and at last, on his retirement from the service, was allowed by his grateful country the sum of 6d. a-day to live on. Yet, when such are the rewards you hold out to gallantry and bravery, and the moral discipline and control requisite in a thorough soldier, you expect, nevertheless, that good and competent men will crowd into your ranks. Is it possible to popularize the Army on such pay? The only fault I find with the clause of my hon. and learned Friend is that it does not go far enough, because it only includes the regiments of the Line, and omits the Guards, the Engineers, and the Artillery. When I am told that the imposition of a restriction of this character in an Act of Parliament would embarrass the Government in case of war, I answer that nothing can be easier than to put in a clause giving discretionary powers to the Executive in cases of emergency; but it is beyond dispute that if we are to have a national Army we must destroy the present system of recruiting and substitute a better one. I really am surprised that hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury bench should pay so little attention to the Reports of their own officers. If ever there was a Report that ought to have opened the eyes of the Horse Guards it is that of Major Edwards for 1868–9, the Governor of the Military Prison of Fort Clarence. He states in that Report, that—While the pot-house system of recruiting is necessary, the lowest classes have to be inveigled info the ranks, and men of loose, unstable habits must, to a large extent, constitute the Army.And he gives the following extraordinary statistics:—In 1868, 25,600 convictions took place before Courts Martial; 8,762 soldiers were imprisoned in military 258 prisons, and 1,774 were branded for desertion. Out of the average strength of 78,264 Regular soldiers in the United Kingdom in that year, 70,270 were treated in hospital, more than two-thirds of whom were treated for diseases contracted by youth, ignorance, and bad conduct. That was the state of the Army in 1868; and compare the statistics with those of the metropolitan police force in the same year, when out of about 8,000 men only 16 were charged with offences, and only two were imprisoned. If the metropolitan police were recruited as our Army is recruited, we should not be safe in our beds. I am disappointed at the way in which the Motion has been met, for it has been damned with faint praise. I know nothing of what the Government intend to do; but I think I know as much as they do themselves. Something-has been said about the Army in India. I was one of the minority who always regretted that the local Army in India was destroyed. That was done in one of those panics to which we are too often subjected. It is impossible to keep up a proper supply of recruits in India under the present system, and without the adjunct of some local Army. When we are talking about recruiting in India, can there be a greater argument in favour of the present Motion than the Report of the Sanitary Commission on the state of the Army in India, which was presented to the War Office on July 8, 1870? Dr. Logan, the Director General of the Army Medical Department, says—I am fully of opinion that soldiers should not embark for service in India under 20 years of age, and that even immature men of 20 should be kept over to a later age.Dr. Beatson, Inspector General of Hospitals in India, says—One frequent cause of the high ratio of sickness and mortality among European troops in India is the large number of boys or growing lads sent out to fill the ranks.He mentions four regiments in India—the 92nd, the 1st battalion of the 6th, the 85th, and the 2nd battalion of the 60th—and says—Nearly one-fourth of the aggregate number consisted of lads under 20 years of age.This has been going on for some time, and it is only when the hon. and learned Member stops in and holds a pistol at the head of the Government that they say—"Do not make a statutory provision 259 in the matter, but leave it to our discretion." Now, I have so little faith in the discretion of the present War Minister and his associates that I am not satisfied to leave the matter to their discretion. I believe they are well-meaning men; but the whole thing has got into such a muddle and a mess with the British Army—which is always in a rickety state—that if there were clouds on the Continent, the country would not submit to see the men now in office continue to rule the destinies of the country. The Royal Commission to which I have referred recommended that no recruit should be sent out until he was 21 years of age, or until he had completed his drill at home; but no steps were taken for carrying out that purpose, and now, in the month of June, 1871, the Government are so incapable of initiating the thing themselves, that they allow a private Member to bring it forward, and so endeavour to introduce this matter into a defunct Bill. I was going to say something else, but I remembered de mortuis, &c. It seems as if the Prussian estimate of the British Army is about to become true; it admits of but one solution—that of obliteration. As far as the recruiting system went I should be too happy if there was obliteration. I am confident that if you are to have a national Army and are to popularize it, it is not by so-called measures of reform, but by taking a broad, constitutional, just view of the constitution, wants, and condition, of the British soldier—not by trailing the red herring of the abolition of purchase, not by a Bill meant to catch the constituencies, but which I think has been a brutum fulmen even for that purpose.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, he rejoiced to hear the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne), because it had really done much to place fairly before the House and the country the important question which was incidentally raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens). He quite agreed that it would have been better if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Surveyor General of Ordnance had made a clearer and more distinct statement upon this question of enlistment and recruiting, which was now occupying the attention of the country. This was not a party question, and should be fairly 260 and impartially debated, and he hoped they would have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Department that measures would be taken to secure a more efficient system of recruiting and enlistment than they now possessed. He had strenuously opposed the system of short enlistment brought forward last year, because he believed it would not add to our credit, or to the force of the country. He believed it would be found inefficient, and have the effect of weakening the Army, instead of strengthening it. The platform of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Department was short enlistment and a large number of men in the Reserves. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Financial Secretary of the War Office stated that in 10 or 12 years they would have as many as 170,000 men in the Reserves. Now, it had been proved by the documents issued from the War Office that the system of very short enlistment generally failed, and what the Army complained of was, that they never know on what terms men were to be enlisted. Every day, if not oftener, alterations were made, and during the last few years there had been so many alterations that the market was perfectly bewildered by the different orders. How could they get good men under such a system? The Secretary of State ought to lay down some distinct and definite plan, saying how long a man should be enlisted for—7, 14, or 21 years. But when he said that a man should go six years into the Army and six years into the Reserve, he would signally fail in getting good men. If a man entered at 18 and left at 24, he was not likely to obtain the same class of employment as if he entered at 18 and left at 30 or 35, when he would be fit for some good employment, and not go back to the trade he had left. He would put an allegory to the right hon. Gentleman. Suppose the right hon. Gentleman, after one of the social gatherings at Oxford, when the conviviality was over, to retire from the room, and on reaching the street to see a flutter of ribbons, not from a bonnet, but from the cap of a recruiting sergeant. If he asked how things were going on, and if the Short Enlistment Act was taking with the young men, the answer would most probably be—"Not if I knows it," meaning that it was not the sort of enlistment under which a 261 man would engage. His hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury said no recruit should go to India or the colonies till he was 20 years of age; but the word "shall" might give rise to some difficulty. The most judicious mode of dealing with that question would be to move an Address to Her Majesty, praying that no soldier under 20 years of ago should be sent out of the country; but that course should only be adopted on the distinct understanding that the Government would allow such a Motion to pass. The Government would have won for themselves greater confidence if they had refrained from sending abroad men of immature age. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms) had an Amendment upon the Paper, to the effect that no man should be enlisted before he was 19 years of age; but the objection to that proposal was, that they must take the men when they could get them, and that it was easier to enlist men of 18 years of age than men of 19. If the men who were enlisted at 18 years of age, or even younger, were taken proper care of, were well fed, and not overladen with heavy knapsacks, they would make better soldiers eventually than the older men, who had probably led a disreputable and dissipated life, and only enlisted because they could get no other description of employment. The soldiers so trained would have got through the drudgery of their work at an early age, and by the time that they were 20 years of age they would have become practical soldiers, well acquainted with their professional duties, and proud of the service. There was one very important point that he approached with much pain, and that was, that if men were to be discharged at the age of 21, after only three years' drill, they would be filling their large towns with a mass of trained men who would become a very formidable element in the event of any disturbance arising. During the Chartist, and other disturbances, he had had the opportunity of seeing what men did on such occasions, and knew that if there were amongst them men who could organize them, they would be a more formidable and more dangerous mass to contend against. If, therefore, the short-service system were to be adopted, the recruits must be obtained from a higher class of society than that from which they were derived at present, and they must be paid on a 262 higher scale. While admitting that a partial fusion of the Militia with the Line might be of advantage, he would point out the danger which would arise out of localizing the different regiments in particular districts—a course that would in all probability result in the men being demoralized to a certain extent by the hospitality they were likely to receive from their friends residing in the neighbourhood. He could see no objection to the Militia doing the recruiting work for the regiments when the Regular troops were abroad, and to a closer relation being established between the two forces. He should like to hear the opinion of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief and of the officers in command of regiments upon the subject of short enlistment, which he thought would be adverse to that system. While admitting the excellence of British soldiers, he thought that they could be improved by the fuller knowledge of their duties which they would acquire under a long-service system. He lamented that the right hon. Gentleman had been led to tamper with the existing regimental system, which had hitherto answered so admirably, in favour of a system of selection which had failed; but still he trusted that, under any circumstances, the new regimental system, whatever it might be, would never fail the country in time of need. Under these circumstances, he was most anxious that the House should be put in full possession of the intentions of the Government on this point, in order that the country might be able to judge of the efficacy of the proposed plan, and as to whether it afforded them the security which had been promised them in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he had been much struck during the course of these debates with the almost universal condemnation that had been pronounced upon the constitution of the British Army. That constitution was the same now, both with regard to thephysique and ages of the men, as it had been during the Peninsular and the Crimean Campaigns, when our Armies had fought admirably and victoriously—a tolerably strong proof that their organization was not very greatly in fault. What had failed daring the Crimean War was departmental mismanagement at home, 263 owing to which the supplies of stores fell short, shot and shell were placed upon packages of medicines, boots and shoes were sent to Balaclava, but were never landed, and hay was collected at one place in the Bosphorus and the machines for pressing it at another. With respect to bounty to recruits, he entirely concurred in its abolition. Bounty meant nothing more than a premium to desert. When a man got his money he went off to some other district to join a new regiment and he repeated that process. That accounted for desertions. As far as related to the age of recruits, during his long period of service in India, thousands of young cadets joined, whose ages varied from 10 to 18, and how little the climate affected them the slowness of promotion bore testimony. There was no doubt that it would be safer not to send recruits abroad before they reached the age of 20; but to embarrass the Government by inserting in the Bill the clause proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Finsbury would be an act of the highest impolicy. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would adopt the suggestion of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Surveyor General of the Ordnance.
§ SIR CHARLES WINGFIELD
said, he thought it was of the highest political importance that our solders in India should be of a good and imposing physique. Our military strength in India rested not merely on numbers, but also on the great physical power and endurance of the British soldier. The impression of the people of India as to our military strength would be very much weakened if the regiments we sent to India were largely composed of such puny, weakly beings as he had seen collected at a recruiting depôt not far from the House. He recollected that when the East India Company in 1858 sent levies of raw boys to India to form new regiments of infantry and cavalry, they were so diminutive and ill-shaped that Natives called them "dumpies," and said it was not with such soldiers that we fought on the Sutlej, and that with such soldiers they should like to have a contest with us again.
, said, the question was, whether the proposition not to send out of this country soldiers under 20 years of age could be combined with a system of voluntary service. He implored 264 the Committee to pause before they adopted a clause which would prevent the Government from sending out of the country under any circumstances men under 20 years of age. Not only would such a clause shackle the Government, but it would not accomplish the object which his hon. and learned Friend had in view, because in a dozen ways the law about the age of a man would be evaded. Take the case of a pressing demand for recruits for India. They knew very well how recruiting was conducted. The recruiting sergeant, under pressure, would get men of less than 20 years of age. What they wanted was a system whereby they would be sure that the men they sent out of the country were physically capable of performing the duties they had to perform in India, and that was not to be attained by a test of age, but by a test of physical capacity and experience.
§ Clause negatived.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he must deny that the opponents of the Bill had shown a want of appreciation for the greatness of the question involved in the Bill. He would be the last man to criticize with hostility any proposal of the Government to give to the country a real Army of Reserve, but he contended that the scheme of the Government would simply supply a Reserve of very young instead of experienced men. Hitherto they had been always deficient in a supply of men whenever an emergency arose, and the result was that they were compelled to have recourse to foreign mercenaries. At no time had they ever put in line more than 40,000 men, and their system had invariably failed and broken down whenever the test of war was applied to it. In 1855, with an established strength of 185,000, they had only 143,000 serving; in 1856, with an established strength of 205,000, only 155,000 were serving; and in 1858, with an established strength of 169,000, only 147,000 were serving. These were circumstances which justified the Government in seriously considering the propriety of forming an Army of Reserve, although their experience, as evidenced from the attempt of 1847, had not been satisfactory in its results. He did not object to the proposal that no soldier should be sent out of the country before he was 20 years of age, but he would hesitate before he gave his assent 265 to a proposition that no recruit should be accepted before he was 20. He thoroughly repudiated the idea that he was in favour of conscription as stated by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Surveyor General of the Ordnance. All he believed was, that there should be a system of conscription for home service, for he was convinced that without it they would not be able to reorganize their military system. There should be compulsory service without substitutes of any kind. Lord Sandhurst in "another place" had denounced the regulations issued by the Secretary of State for War, and he (Lord Elcho) held in his hand a letter from the commander of the regiment now under orders for India, in which it was stated that if the Reserve scheme was carried out the regiments would be little better than recruiting depôts. The Government thought they could do away with pensions, and that they would find men willing to come and serve them for three years for 14d. a-day, and then go into the Reserve. Hitherto the recruiting system had been based upon the system of pensions, which he believed was sound. But if pensions were abandoned, they should have recourse to increase of pay.
§ LORD ELCHO
That no soldier shall be permitted to enter the Reserve force until he shall have completed his twenty-third year.
I understood the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire rose to move the insertion after Clause 10 of the clause which stands in his name on the Notice Paper. The proper time for the noble Lord to move his Motion is after the new clauses on the Paper have been disposed of.
§ SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL
, on rising to move the insertion of a new clause to fix the terms of enlistment, said, he wished to elicit from the Government a statement of their views as to the mode in which the strength and discipline of the Army were to be maintained in the future. In his opinion the three years' scheme had signally failed, and the only possible plan would be to constitute the Militia the foundation of the Army; indeed, the Militia would be sufficient for all practical purposes if England had not to look after India and her 266 colonies. That being his view, the next point to be considered was, how nearly they could approach the best arrangement for a thoroughly efficient Militia viewed in a theoretical point of view, and at the same time establish a system which should be consistent with the wishes and habits of the people of this country. Theoretically, the best system would be that of enforcing three years' compulsory service, as was the case in Prussia; but as such a system would in this country be simply impracticable, he proposed that balloting should only be resorted to in order to complete the annual quota provided by Parliament for the general Militia, in cases where such quota could not be completed by voluntary enlistment. At the same time, he must express his personal opinion that by means of voluntary enlistment the necessary number of men would be raised. Taking, then, the Militia as the nucleus of the Army both for home and foreign service, it was important that the whole of the men should pass through one uniform training, and that the instructors should be competent to afford the necessary training in a space of time sufficiently short not to unfit the men for returning to their ordinary occupations in civil life. This object would be met by providing that the enlistment should be for a term of one year's service in the general Militia, this to be supplemented by five years' service in the regular Militia, of 14 days in each year, and 10 years in the First Militia Reserve, of 14 days in every second year. As he had said, the protection of India and the colonies alone necessitated a standing Army of long-service men, and he therefore proposed that men to serve in the Army should, after a year's service in the general Militia, be allowed voluntarily to enlist to serve for 12 years in the Army. Then, to meet the various necessities that must arise on a sudden declaration of war, he proposed that after this 12 years' term of service had been completed the men should remain for a further similar period in the First Army Reserve, to be called out in the event of war to complete their respective regiments from a peace to a war establishment. And as an inducement to men to enter the Reserve he desired that there should be held out to them, after 12 years' service, the certain prospect 267 of obtaining such service in some one of the civil departments of the Government as should enable them to live. He hoped that Government would cease to treat the Militia unfairly, but would give them such chances and opportunities of embodiment as would enable them to show their true quality; and that if they rejected this scheme of Army organization, they would at least give some small intimation of what they were going to put forward as their basis. On the whole, he must say that as this country was not, in his opinion, so well prepared now to take the field as at the time of the Crimean War, the Government were bound to discontinue their appearance of trifling with the subject, and should at once put into motion measures which would perfect Army organization in the future. The hon. and gallant Member then moved the insertion of a new clause enacting the several particulars described in his speech.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he agreed with many of the principles laid down by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwich (Sir William Russell), but did not think the House would consent to so wide a departure from the established institutions of the country as the proposition involved. The House, he believed, was prepared to follow a plan which, proceeding upon the existing institutions of the country, would combine together the Army, the Militia, and the other forces, whereas, if he understood rightly, his hon. and gallant Friend proposed to reduce very largely the amount of their infantry force, and substitute for it what he called a general Militia. That would be a body of 50,000 men, who were intended to form a general training school for all the Militia and the Regular forces of the country. It was proposed that through that body should be passed all the men serving either in the Army or the Militia; that they should have the choice of serving in either, but at the end of one year should pass onward to the one or the other; that that force should be raised by voluntary enlistment if that would do, and if not by compulsory service; and that it should be officered by officers of the Regular Army. He thought the principle which the House would prefer was rather the opposite one of making the Army a model for the Militia and Reserve forces, 268 as adopted originally by Mr. Pitt and followed since. Besides that objection which he had stated, there were many practical difficulties in the way of carrying out his hon. and gallant Friend's scheme. He doubted whether anybody would voluntarily enlist without knowing whether he would eventually go into the Army or the Militia; and if a large majority of those who enlisted wished to serve in the Militia, there could be no reliance on recruits for the Army. Therefore they might go to a large expense without having any security as to what proportion of the body, for the maintenance of which it had been incurred, would enter the Army. Thus, in case of emergency, instead of having the 50,000 men divided into regiments who could be supplemented from the Preserves, they would have only a large body of recruits of less than 12 months' service. Besides, there would be a lack of local interest, and the officers being taken from the Army, the Militia officers would feel that they had been passed over. Upon the whole, then, he hoped that his hon. and gallant Friend would be satisfied with the plan the Government had proposed, which was that they should recruit for the Army separately from the Militia, and that arrangements should be made with regard to associating supernumeraries from regiments of the Line with the Militia, so that a military feeling and principle might be infused into all the defensive forces of the country. The regiments being localized and recruiting in their own districts, and the Militia training with the Regular Army, he thought the object which his hon. and gallant Friend had in view would be accomplished without making a violent change.
§ MR. M. CHAMBERS
said, he was not convinced that the Amendment was wrong, because they ought to maintain in the future, as they had done in the past, a good Militia as a feeder to the Army; in fact, in past times it had always been termed the "nursery of the Army." He could remember the Fast Kent Militia furnishing a large number of volunteers for actual service, and nine-tenths of the Staffordshire Militia volunteering to join a battalion of the Guards in Holland. The Militia ought to be placed upon the same footing that it was in those times; but to do this efficiently they must avoid compulsory 269 service. The speech of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms) was one of the most practical speeches on the subject that he had ever heard from a man who did not belong to the Army. Let the rustics know that they would be well off, and they would never have any need of compulsion to make men enter their Army. The Militia ought to be made a great nursery for the Army, and that could be done by making the service attractive. The men should receive good pay; and it was not for only three or four weeks that they should be called out. To call them out for such a short time was not merely absurd, but worse—it was corrupting these unhappy ragged young men. Then what sort of regimentals were served out to them? Did hon. Gentlemen ever see a Militiaman with his regimentals on? Of all the exhibitions that a smart military man could see, the most grotesque was a Militiaman who had recently got on his regimentals. The authorities began by giving them a worse and coarser cloth of a dirty brickdust colour, so that they always appeared as though they had been parading or exercising in a brickfield, and the consequence was that no Militiaman was over proud of his regimentals. That might appear a small matter, but it was in reality of no trifling importance so far as the feelings of those men were concerned. Besides giving the Militiaman good pay, they should let him see that by joining the Army his pay would be adequate, his position and prospects improved, and that after a certain period of service he would get a pension; then they would find the Militia would become of service to the country. But, so far as he had observed, there was no scheme for pension in the plan of the Government. It was quite inconsistent with their Constitution, except in very great emergencies, to compel anyone, however humble, to serve in a military force. The instant they said they would have a Ballot, that instant some persons would have a right to reply—"Very well; but everyone, high or low, rich or poor, must be exposed to it, and no man shall purchase a substitute." That was the test that would try the sincerity of the great persons who said—"We must resort to the Ballot."
said, he must regret that this should have been the 270 first night on which an opportunity was given of really debating the question of Army organization. The longer the country considered the question the more confident did he feel that it would come to the conclusion that the Estimates for the Army would be increased when purchase was done away with. It would, in his opinion, have been far more satisfactory if the Government had come down to the House and laid before it a system of re-organization comprehensive as a whole, and which, further, would have had the effect of reducing the Estimates to a certain amount. Before the country had done with the system of purchase it would find that it would have to pay double the £8,000,000 which had been named as the cost of its abolition. The Government, he might add, had spoken of the question of re-organization as a matter the detail of which would be settled in the future. To that mode of proceeding he, for one, altogether demurred. The question of re-organization must, he contended, be dealt with in the first instance as a matter of principle, and it was impossible to consider details until the question of principle was decided; the views generally held divided themselves into three parts—first, those adopted in the War Office Bill of last year—practically to leave things as they were; secondly, the views of those who said the Militia, as a body, ought to be increased in efficiency; and thirdly, the view that he thought would recommend itself most strongly to the country, which was that every soldier should be a soldier in fact as well as in name, and he could be that only by passing through the ranks of the Regular Army. It was said, however, that to attain that object was extremely difficult, as it amounted to applying the Prussian system to this country without conscription. In his opinion it was possible to do so, and for this reason that they were fortunately blessed with so much wealth, that they could afford to pay money for the services of men such as no other nation could. The true course to take would be to give such attractions to the Army as would enable them to obtain men fit for the service, and as soon as that was done the introduction of the Prussian system—by which he meant passing all the men through the ranks of the Regular Army—might be accepted without recourse to conscription. As to the system of short service, 271 it had not been fairly tried. The proper and cheapest way for the Government to proceed was, in his opinion, to trust for their defensive powers to a defensive force which would cost £15 a-man, rather than to a Regular Army which would cost;£50 a-man. That he was, however, aware would involve a separate Army for India. He could not look upon the time which had been spent in discussing the Bill as wasted, and there was, he thought, a very strong relationship between the questions of purchase and re-organization. The principle of the abolition of purchase he accepted on the understanding that a comprehensive plan of re-organization would be introduced next Session. Indeed, he considered the Government were pledged to bring in then a real scheme of Army reform.
said, he very much regretted that such a great question as that should have been brought forward in the middle of the dinner hour. He could not say that he went as far as his hon. and gallant Friend the Monitor for Norwich (Sir William Russell) who had brought forward this Motion; but at the same time he thought that there was in this scheme the germs of what might be productive of great good to the country. He thought they were all agreed on the point that our military system would be the better for some re-organization. He had already recommended a scheme on this subject, and although he had received no support for it on his or the other side of the House, he was still vain enough to think not the less of it on that account. The misfortune of their military system now was, that there was too heterogeneous a scheme proposed by the Government for its regulation, and which failed to repair the great mistake committed in reducing the Army two years ago, before they had the nucleus of a Reserve force. The elements of their military system at present were, in his mind, sufficient — namely, the Regulars, the Militia, and the Volunteers. Now, he thought that the Militia force should not only be the nursery of the Line, but it should also be the receptacle of the Line, after the men had given a certain service in the latter. That was his former proposition, and, although it had not met with the support of the Committee, he was happy to see by an article in one of the leading 272 journals of that morning that it now received some favour. ["Agreed, agreed!] As the Government had thought proper to withdraw the enlistment portion of their scheme, he regretted that they did not bring forward some clauses having for their object to take advantage of the service of the men who had served for a certain time in the Army by embodying them in the Militia. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) had accused the party on the Opposition side of the House for the course they had taken against this Bill, and expressed his regret that they had not taken a similar course to that they had followed in respect to the Irish Church and the Irish Land Bills. He (Lord Garlies) would tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that the reason why they had not acted in a similar manner during the discussions upon the two measures alluded to was because the Government had kept nothing back when proposing their Irish Church and the Irish Land schemes. If the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not played the parts of Ananias and Sapphira in their Army Bill, they would not have received the persistent opposition which they encountered to their present proposal. As for himself (Lord Garlies) he should ever glory in the part which he had been allowed to take in respect to this Bill; and if an appeal were to be now made to the country he should with confidence rely for the continued support of his constituents on the persistent and uncompromising opposition which he had given to this measure of Her Majesty's Government.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he wished to call attention to the somewhat peculiar position in which the Committee stood at that moment. The Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Norwich had special reference to the question of enlistment. He (Sir John Pakington) hoped he should not be considered out of Order if he asked the hon. and learned Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) what course he intended to take in respect to his Amendment. The hon. and learned Member had brought forward a question of primary importance in regard to the organization of the Army. But, important as it was, the Government had given up 273 one-half of their Bill, including the enlistment part, and still called their measure an Army Organization Bill.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he wished to interrupt the right hon. Baronet, in order to remind him of the correct designation of the Bill. It was an Army Regulation Bill.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he was willing to adopt that designation, and to call it an Army Regulation Bill. But the most important subject connected with the measure was that of enlistment. Upon that particular subject there were originally clauses introduced into the Bill by the Government; but all those they had subsequently withdrawn, and as the Bill now stood, there was not one word in it touching upon that great question of how the Army was to be constituted, and how it was to be recruited. Under these circumstances the hon. and learned Member for Finsbury stepped in with his Amendment in order to supply this extraordinary defect in the Bill — that Amendment laying down a principle as to how the enlistment for their Army was to be regulated hereafter. In the course of the discussion which took place the plans of the Government were criticized with much severity. But the Secretary for War made no reply. The discussion closed without any explanation on the part of the Government, except that contained in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Surveyor General of the Ordnance, who seemed to intimate the consent of the Government to the principle brought forward by a private Member, with a view to supply the deficiency in the Bill of the Government. Under these circumstances he hoped the hon. and gallant Member for Norwich would excuse him (Sir John Pakington) if he passed by for a moment his clause, for the purpose of asking the hon. and learned Member for Finsbury after what had passed on this important subject, and after the suggestion thrown out by the Surveyor General of the Ordnance, what course he intended to take under the peculiar circumstances of the question in reference to the Amendment which he had brought forward?
said, he must remind the right hon. Baronet that the question before the Committee then was the Amendment proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Norwich, and 274 not the proposed clause of the hon. and learned Member for Finsbury.
§ MAJOR WALKER
said, he was quite willing to admit that the proposal to amalgamate the Militia with the Regular Army appeared at first sight to be one of great advantage. But on looking further into the proposal, there arose great difficulties in connection with it. The proposal of the hon. and gallant Member for Norwich (Sir William Russell) was one fraught with much difficulty, for this reason—the amount of the population who would be found willing to devote itself to active military life was very limited. The supply of recruits was not materially influenced at first by pecuniary considerations. He did not therefore think that the proposal would materially increase the number of recruits. He had advocated a reform of our system regarding the Reserve forces; but with all its defects he thought it was a powerful engine for maintaining the supplies for our Regular Army. The The real strength of the Militia service had never yet been tested though it had been shown, during the Crimean and Indian Campaigns, how strong and useful a force it might become. The Volunteers, beyond doubt, had thrown it into the shade, from which he believed that it was now emerging, probably in consequence of the countenance and support of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War.
§ SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL
said, that he had no desire to press the clause, as his principal object had been to bring the subject under the attention of the House. He hoped that by next Session the Government would be prepared to act on sound principles with regard to the subject.
§ Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that he should not now propose the clause that stood in his name; but on the Report he should propose as an Amendment, that no soldier should be allowed to enter the Reserve force until he had completed his twenty-third year.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON moved to insert a new Clause—(Militia places for arms, &c., not to be provided by justices of the peace.) He considered that as the Government had severed the connection between the Lords Lieutenant of counties and the Militia, it was 275 fair that it should bear the burden of the expense of the military stores, which purpose he thought his proposition would effect, and thereby remove an element of discord from between the Justices of the Peace and the War Office. In the county of Middlesex the annual cost of the Militia storehouses was £2,000, and in Lancashire it was £1,383. It was desirable that all storehouses and barracks should be under one authority—namely, the War Office. Without further detaining the Committee he begged to move the clause of which he had given Notice.
§ New Clause (Militia places for arms, &c. not to be provided by justices of the peace,)—(Lord George Hamilton,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ MR. F. STANLEY
said, he should support the clause, which, he hoped, would receive the favourable consideration of the Government. At present, depôts of arms and stores were scattered over various parts of the country, and that would occasion much practical inconvenience if a concentration of troops should become necessary.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that the point involved in the clause was pecuniarily a small one, yet it was well worthy of consideration; but in the present position of the whole question of local rating, he thought it undesirable to touch upon the mere fringe of it that was involved in the present proposal, and he hoped that the noble Lord would not object to allow it to stand over till the subject, as a whole, came to be considered by Parliament. He was not arguing against the proposal, but only reserved it for perfectly free and fair discussion at a future time.
§ SIR MASSEY LOPES
said, he thought that they would never be in a stronger position to discuss this question than now, and he hoped that the clause of the noble Lord would be consented to by the House. The grievance of the Militia storehouses was that the burden of their maintenance was most unjust, and one that pressed heavily on the local rates, as the numerous Petitions that had been presented to Parliament proved. In Devonshire they had paid as much as £23,000 in the last 10 years for Militia storehouses, and at the rate of £1,000 per annum for the last three years. The Militia was to be a national force, and 276 for that reason he trusted that the noble Lord would persevere with the clause.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he knew of no part of that Bill which better illustrated the embarrassing position in which the House was placed by the Bill than the very reasonable proposal which this clause contained. They had heard a great deal in the course of those discussions of the merits of the Prussian system, and they had been half given to understand that the Government had some idea of introducing that system to some extent into their new system for this country. Now, what was the primary characteristic of the Prussian system? That it was localized throughout. Whereas, the consequence of the proposals of the Government would be that the local connection of the Militia in its Staff and its elementary organization would be destroyed. If they passed through a Prussian district they would find that some one or other corps of the Prussian Array was raised specially from that district, and if they entered any of the principal towns or villages they would find the name of the corps, or of the regiment, with its Reserves of these posted up conspicuously; the officers of the corps were connected with the locality; each detachment in its respective locality had its own local commander over it, whether it was drawn into the active Army, or whether it formed a part of the Reserve. The great strength of the Prussian system consisted in this—that every locality had its own central military point, to which each branch of the local service could resort; whether it was to form part of the active Army or of the Reserves, the Landwehr or the Landsturm, all of which were locally connected with each other. Now, by that Bill of the Government, by thus severing the connection between the Militia and the Lords Lieutenant, who at present appointed the officers, they were asked to destroy the local influences which connected the Militia regiments with the several counties; throughout the whole of that measure the Government showed no regard whatever for locality in the arrangements, whether for the Militia or for the Regular Army; whilst, as he had said, localism was the very essence of the Prussian system, which had answered so well, and in praise of which they had heard so much in the course of those debates. If they 277 would have a centralized administration, they ought to draw the funds for its maintenance from the central source—the public Revenue. The further they proceeded in carrying out the system of centralization, the less should the burden rest upon local taxation. He was quite confident that the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes) represented the deliberate judgment of the ratepayers in what he had said. In the several counties they were all willing to assist in the provision of forces for the defence of the country; all were praying that the Government and Parliament, while respecting the local connection of the Militia, would take steps to improve and render efficient the discipline of that force; all were ready to contribute to that object; and he believed that nothing would be better calculated to improve the organization and spirit of the Army generally, than to attach to each particular county the regiment which bore its name for recruiting purposes, in the same manner as was done in Prussia, Nothing could be better than the establishment in England of the same relations between the Regular Army, the Militia, and the counties, on the same principle that in Prussia there existed a connection between each active regiment, each regiment of the Lundwehr and of Landsturm with their particular district. Our ancient system was, in fact, analogous to that of Prussia; but if they were determined to break it up, if they were resolved, instead of imitating the German system, which had been so marvellously successful in the late war, to imitate the French, or create a mongrel system of their own, they could not be surprised if the counties—if the ratepayers of the counties—called upon them to undertake the expense of the system. Like the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon, then, he objected to the period of suspense which was suggested; if the Government were about to take out of the hands of the counties, and out of the hands of the Lords Lieutenant of counties, all control over the Militia, he was unwilling that any period should intervene during which, having deprived the Lords Lieutenant of counties of such control, the Government should continue to dip their fingers into the county purse. That appeared to him to be an attempt to disguise the amount of taxation, 278 which by means of Imperial or local taxation the people of this country, and especially the owners of real property, were called upon to bear. He regretted, then, the course which the Government were pursuing, by the adoption of that system of centralization, without, as he considered, any corresponding advantage to discipline; and of that he was confident, that if the counties, through their Lords Lieutenant and Justices of the Peace, were to be deprived of all control over, and all share in providing for the defence of the country, they had a just claim to be relieved from the burden which the proposal of the Government would entail upon them.
MAJOR GENERAL SIR PERCY HERBERT
said, there was a strong feeling that the Regular troops should be amalgamated to some extent with the Militia, and for that purpose barracks in every county would be necessary for the purpose of training the recruits of the Militia, and of getting rid of the odious system of billeting in publichouses. If that was admitted, it was discouraging to find that Her Majesty's Government, when the question of building barracks for the Militia was under consideration, proposed to defer the whole matter until they had legislated on the intricate subject of local taxation. He asked the Committee what chance there was of such legislation, and whether they did not think it trifling with the subject of Army regulation?
said, he hoped the Government would assent to the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton). The expenditure had during several years very much increased, and had given rise to much dissatisfaction, both in counties and in boroughs, because the counties first laid out the money, and then called on the cities and boroughs to contribute their quota, they having no voice in the matter. That was not a pleasant state of things. It was more than likely that the new arrangements would involve an increased expenditure. The county rates were levied on one species of property alone; but the general defence of the country rendered it a fair matter that this expenditure should be discharged out of the national funds, more especially when it was remembered that the charge was likely to increase. We had put the counties to vast expense for 279 lunatic asylums and gaols. There were few counties that were not in debt for those purposes and for Militia barracks. He trusted that the Government would give this matter a favourable consideration, which would go far to remove some of the unpopularity of the measure.
said, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had not shown any indisposition to "look this question in the face," nor did he speak on the supposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), that the question of local taxation would be indefinitely postponed. On the contrary, that was one of the questions to which Parliament was anxious to apply itself at a very early period; though, if the subject of local taxation were to be postponed for any length of time, it might be very fair to demand that this question should be dealt with by itself in a special measure. The Government objected to the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), because it was not germane to the purpose of the Bill; but beyond that they had to consider whether this clause was sufficient for the purpose for which it was intended. To him it appeared that the clause did not deal adequately with the subject, for the contention of the noble Lord was that the change for the Militia buildings should be transferred from the counties to the Consolidated Fund; yet that was not sufficiently met by the provisions of the clause, which absolved the Justices of the Peace from any obligation to provide buildings, but was ambiguous on the subject of maintaining existing ones, while it provided that those buildings should remain liable to the mortgage charges which had already been contracted. The clause, to be effectual, ought to provide for the transfer of the mortgage charges; but that could not be done by a stroke of the pen, and it was not in the power of the noble Lord to establish such a charge on the Consolidated Fund. That was a subject which would require much consideration; and, therefore, the Government thought the clause was premature in principle, as well as inadequate to carry out the object in view. The wiser course would be to refrain from introducing the clause into this Bill, reserving the 280 right to have it dealt with in a special measure, after there had been an opportunity for considering the question of local taxation.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he thought the clause was not premature in principle, for it having already been decided to remove all power over the Militia to the Crown, the demand to transfer the expense to the national funds was a necessary and a just corollary. With respect to the objection of the Premier that the clause did not go far enough, he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that if this clause were read a second time it would be competent to the Government to amend or add to it with a view to carry out its principle. He could not concur in the argument that his noble Friend ought to withdraw this clause, because the Government promised that in a future Session there should be a measure for altering the law of local taxation. Were the Committee so well satisfied with the general principles of the measure which the Government had already brought forward on that subject, that they would be willing to postpone the question now before them until a remote period, when some uncertain legislation might be attempted? This proposal was not the more fringe of local taxation, but related to the military expenditure of the country, and he hoped the Committee would take a legitimate opportunity to carry into effect a change which was rendered just and necessary by a previous clause in the Bill. For that reason he hoped his noble Friend would press his Motion to a division.
said, he should support the clause, holding that, as the Militia was about to be amalgamated with the Regular force, it was only just that this charge should be met out of Imperial resources, and that this was the proper time for dealing with the matter.
§ MR. BRISTOWE
said, that although he agreed in its principle, he thought the clause would be singularly out of place in that Bill as it now stood.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, he had not brought forward the clause with any wish to prejudge the question of local taxation, but because the subject of Militia storehouses was one legitimately connected with an Army Regulation Bill. In answer to the observations of the Prime Minister, he might say that 281 his object in drawing the clause was to relieve Justices of the Peace of the obligation to provide Militia storehouses; and that accomplished, he would leave it to the Secretary of State, to whose functions it would properly belong, to make such other arrangements as might be necessary. By his clause no existing mortgage would be thrown on the Consolidated Fund.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he must oppose the clause, as it would throw unexpectedly charges upon the Consolidated Fund which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to provide for.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, he thought if the Government were going to undertake the expenditure of the money, they ought to be responsible for providing it, and was of opinion that they ought to accept the clause. He hoped, however, they would not do so, because there would be an additional ground of complaint whenever the subject of local taxation came under discussion.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 171; Noes 176: Majority 2.
asked whether the Prime Minister would, after that division, persist in his opposition to the clause?
asked whether the hon. and gallant Member was aware that he was in a minority, and that the clause was beyond his control?
said, the reason he had given was conclusive against that course, and he believed the hon. and gallant Gentleman would himself think so.
said, he hoped that the Government would take the matter into consideration and put it fairly at rest. This particular clause might not be altogether satisfactory, but the division indicated the feeling of the House upon the spirit of the clause pretty clearly.
said, he could not give any pledge with respect to the present Bill, but he was perfectly willing to consider the matter.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Thursday.