Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [6th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the expenditure necessary for the national defences and the other demands on the Exchequer do not at present justify any Vote of Public Money for the extinction of Purchase in the Army,"—(Colonel Loyd Lindsay,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
, promising not to trespass long on the attention of the House, concurred with several previous speakers in expressing regret that the debate had dwindled down to the dimensions of a squabble on the question of purchase. It would, he thought, be more in accordance with the dignity of a great subject that it should have been discussed in a larger sense; but he could not, nevertheless, blame his hon. and gallant Friend the Mover of the Amendment (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) for having given the discussion a narrower direction because the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, in introducing the Bill, and all those who had spoken on behalf of the Government had acknowledged that it was not so much a measure of Army organization as one for the abolition of purchase. That seemed to him, he must confess, a somewhat unfortunate state of things; but taking matters as he found them, he should at once proceed to deal with the principle of the Bill, promising that his remarks should be brief, and that he would not, on the fourth night of the debate, seek to fortify his opinions by quotations or statistics, as had been freely done already, when no sooner had one authority been brought forward in support of the views held on one side than 58 another equally weighty had been adduced in opposition to it. The first night of the debate had been occupied by his hon. and gallant Friend the Mover of the Amendment, and by those who followed him, in dealing with the question of purchase, and when on the second night his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) spoke, he thought the discussion would have been lifted out of the narrow rut in which it had been running, and that the question would be broadly argued on its merits. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman on the Treasury Bench (Captain Vivian) who answered the noble Lord had, with some dexterity, brought the matter back into the narrow groove in which it had been travelling and prevented the House from taking a broad view of the question. The same course was taken by another hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke on the same side (Sir Henry Storks), and he (Viscount Bury) was somewhat amused on hearing that gallant officer refer to his own rapid rise in a profession of which he was so great an ornament as a reason against the purchase system. The right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) seemed to have missed a point which he might have raised, for he might have followed the lead which the noble Lord gave him, but he also went back into the narrow groove. In the course of the debate a great variety of opinions had been expressed, and almost everyone who had spoken on the opposite side of the House had addressed some remonstrance or advice to what they called hon. Members sitting "below the Gangway." Now, below the Gangway there was probably as great a diversity of opinion as there was in any other part of the House; they were far from being a homogeneous whole; and it would be much better if they would signify the exact sections of opinion to which they referred, and not class them together. The Amendment which had been so long under consideration had not been discussed in the same way that it was discussed out-of-doors. Hon. Members did not speak out their minds, or tell the whole truth about it. Every hon. Member knew how an Amendment of that kind was concocted. They all knew that the obvious way of disposing of the second reading of a great Bill was to meet it with a direct negative. An 59 Amendment had sometimes this advantage, that it might catch a few stray votes, which would not be given for the direct rejection of the Bill. His hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) was one of the most single-minded and straightforward men in the world, and no doubt believed that his Amendment, and no other, was the proper mode of meeting the Bill. But he (Viscount Bury) did not think that Amendments embodying mere abstract opinions often succeeded, because it was generally felt that, however true the abstract proposition might be, it was merely advanced as a piece of Parliamentary tactics, and it would be more straightforward to come to a direct vote upon the second reading of the Bill. He did not think the Amendment was sufficiently wide, and some hon. Gentlemen who agreed with him would not be able to vote for it. The Amendment of the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) being somewhat wider, might have got a few more supporters; but even that would have been injudicious, and it would be much better to give a direct vote upon the second reading of the Bill. He now came to the subject more immediately before the House—the question which had been proposed by the Government, or rather not as proposed by the Government, because it was too narrow; but the real issue which was before the country. What was our position? We found ourselves at a great crisis of our history in a somewhat defenceless position. Our Army would have been unable to take the field at any time during the late great struggle, and, although there were periods when we might almost momentarily have expected to be dragged into a struggle, it was obvious to independent observers that our tone was moderated, that the dispatches of the Foreign Office were couched in somewhat more guarded tones than they would have been if the Government had felt that there was behind them a nation in arms, or a sufficient armed force for England to have taken her old wonted place in the Councils of Europe. It was not only on the Continent of Europe that we had felt England's prestige somewhat diminished. Across the Atlantic, the Americans, our allies in name, were anything but friendly in the mode in which they treated us. They were constantly seeking occasions against us, and he could 60 not but think that one of these fine days their words would turn into acts, and we should find ourselves opposed to America, she being probably allied with some European nation. ["No, no!"] That was a matter of opinion on which every hon. Member had a right to speak. That might not be the case; but, on the contrary, he thought that many hon. Members might live to see that this was not so impossible. There was a great rapprochement between Russia and America, which had shown itself in many ways. But he would not press that argument further. He had used it as a mere illustration, to show that it was necessary to be prepared, not only for Europe, but for America, and he had instanced America for this reason, that if we had any dispute with that country our fleet would be drawn away, and would be, at all events, less available for the defence of our shores. Then we should have to fall back, not on the Navy, our first line of defence, but on the Army, which, as at present constituted, was altogether unfitted to bear the strain that would be laid upon it, and he wished to consider whether it would be made any better by the present Bill. It seemed to him that the Government were the only persons in the country who did not see that a great emergency existed, and they treated the matter as if we had years before us to prepare to meet it. Now, if anything could be distinctly proved by the late war, it was that no time would, be given for preparation. Prussia, within a fortnight after the declaration of hostilities, had 500,000 men in arms, and within another fortnight she had another 500,000 to back up those already in the field. She poured across the French frontier, in countless profusion, munitions of war, men, material, guns, and everything which we had not got. There was no time after an emergency arose for preparation. And what was the Government Bill but a declaration of what would be done in case of emergency? It had been stated that there was machinery for the Ballot for the Militia in case of emergency. Why, in case of an emergency, with the enemy actually at our gates, were we for the first time going to put into operation the great machinery of the Ballot—a Ballot with exemptions—and a second Ballot which had never been tried before, the 61 creaking wheels of which would hamper us in every direction? The Bill did not place us in the position in which we ought to stand. Within a fortnight after the declaration of war we ought to be able, not only to put a large force in the field, but to supplement that force by a constant stream of Reserves. Reserves were, above all, the things we wanted, together with munitions of war; yet the Bill hardly touched the fringe of that question. France trusted, as an opposition to Prussia, to her military organization—trusted to her means of raising men after the war had begun—and what befel that country? If we adopted the plan of the Government in its entirety, we should present a feeble caricature of the French system, which had so utterly and lamentably failed. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in introducing the Bill, stated the question most fully and fairly, and his (Viscount Bury's) only complaint was that the Bill had very little relation to his able and exhaustive speech. The right hon. Gentleman said that we had a standing Army, with its historical associations and glorious memory, recruited by free enlistment; a Militia, the theory of which was conscription, but the practice voluntary enlistment; and the Volunteers; and the combination of these different institutions into one whole was the desire of the House of Commons and of the English nation. He cordially endorsed the cheers which followed that remark. That was a fair and right statement of the question. But did the Bill carry it out? The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that he had to declare the views of the Government on the great question which underlaid all the details of military administration, and must be settled, by Parliament before any Department would undertake, in a complete manner, the work of detailed organization. The right hon. Gentleman had explained that to mean that they must first get rid of the purchase system. The right hon. Gentleman said that the object he had in view was, first, to raise an Army of Reserve by short service in the ranks. No doubt that was a capital proposal, which the House would cordially assist in carrying out. Everybody agreed that short service in the ranks in the present state of public opinion, and in the present state of military science, was the best 62 thing to have; but could not that be got without first getting rid of the purchase system? There was surely no connection between the manner in which officers received their promotion in the Army and the term of enlistment for which the men were chosen. The Secretary for War then referred to the Militia; but there was no doubt that that force might be increased on its present footing, or under any other system, to any required extent without first of all doing away with the purchase system. As to the organization of the Volunteers, that had nothing on earth to do with the purchase system. Though the right hon. Gentleman said that the organization of that force was one of the chief objects of the Bill, yet, neither in his speech nor in his Bill, was there to be found the slightest hint of what was intended to be done for the organization of the Volunteers. The right hon. Gentleman said the Volunteers were at present inefficient, and in that he (Viscount Bury) concurred; but they asked for nothing better than to be re-organized and put under a much sterner discipline. The Volunteers at present were almost entirely useless, not from their own default, but from the default of those who ought to organize them, and they could easily be converted into a very cheap and valuable addition to our standing Army, though that result would not be brought about under the present Bill. The Judge Advocate General (Mr. Davison) had told them that the abolition of purchase was the soul of the Bill, and he (Viscount Bury) would ask, if they took that soul away, what remained behind? The right hon. Gentleman's next point was to combine the whole service under general officers and colonels of the Staff; but that could certainly be done without abolishing the purchase system, with which it had nothing on earth to do. But in his next point the right hon. Gentleman did seem to have some little show of reason, for he proposed to fuse together the Regular and the Reserve forces of the country by appointing regular officers to commissions in the Reserves, and giving the Militia officers commissions as subalterns in the Line, and he argued correctly that that could not be done without abolishing the purchase system. But was it worth while to pay £10,000,000, or more, in order that young lieutenants might be exchanged from the Militia into the Line 63 or vice versâ? And, besides, the consent of those officers would have to be obtained to these exchanges. The Bill of the Government proposed to estimate the present value of an officer's commission, and to pay to the officer that value when he retired from the service. But suppose an officer did not retire for 10 years, and during the course of that time was detailed for service in the Militia, how could he be dealt with if he refused to go? Suppose that officer said, "I entered the Army on certain definite terms; you have altered those terms without my consent. I have paid my money, not to my brother officers, but to the Government, by their order, and into the hands of their agent. You retain that money, and so long as you do that, you cannot alter the conditions upon which I entered the service. You cannot change my position without my consent, and I refuse to go into the Militia." Any court-martial would honourably acquit an officer charged with disobedience who had such a defence as that to offer. Such exchanges, then, could not be brought about unless, in addition to the abolition of purchase, as proposed by the Bill, the Government were prepared to pay down at once the amount at which each officer's commission was valued; but it was hardly worth while to go to such an enormous extent, in order to procure such infinitesimal results. But was there nothing more in the Government scheme than the abolition of purchase? They were constantly told that the system of purchase stood in the way of all Army reform; and that the system must be abolished before anything else could be done; and when the question was asked, "In the way of what reform?" the answer invariably was "the amalgamation of the Militia with the Line." But that was excessively vague and shadowlike. When the right hon. Gentleman came into office he was announced as a reformer in the direction of economy. He did reform, and he did economize, and did his work well; but when circumstances changed, it was said the right hon. Gentleman would soon show that he was quite as well able to spend money as to economize. It was too true that the day of economy had now gone by, and it remained for those who never had raised the standard of undue economy to complain of the extravagance of the Government 64 measures, and to say that the country could not afford the enormous outlay which had been imposed on it by the Estimates of this year, superadded to the large annual expenditure to be incurred in future years by this abolition of purchase. Were large Reserves to be obtained by the Government scheme? He could see nothing, as he read the Bill, but the prospect, at the end of some eight or ten years, of passing men through a short service, and so gradually building up a Reserve. What was wanted was something which should be ready now; but if an emergency arose to-morrow, as he believed it might arise, the country would not be able to meet it. What the Government had gone upon in this measure was the chance that no emergency would arise, and that things would go on in the future as they had done in the past, so as to give time to bring up the system. No doubt at some future day the Government scheme might become of great value to the country; but for the present it fell short of the exigencies of the position. It did not provide large Reserves, nor did it organize the commissariat, and everyone knew that the first thing that broke down with the British Army when in the field was its commissariat. It took a vast expenditure of money and time, and the lives of many soldiers, to get up a good commissariat department as was shown during the Crimean War. Then there were no provisions for the organization of the transport medical services, and if an emergency arose, and the medical service was conducted on a large scale as it had recently been conducted on a small scale in the military ambulance which had been sent out from this country to France, all he could say was that the result would not be happy for this country. Would this scheme give a better instructed or more active Staff? There was nothing in the Bill to show that it would. Or would it give a Reserve of artillery? It would certainly raise the field guns to 300, which was a very small proportion of the guns they ought to have. It was not even large enough for the 100,000 men of the Regular Army—the first line of defence; but was nothing to be done for the Militia until the emergency arose? If they retained the Volunteers they must organize them and supply them with artillery too. Were they going to do away with what 65 was called the back-bone of the Regular Army—the Militia? If they intended to retain and improve it, it could not surely be the intention of the Government to leave it without a single gun. Besides, a great many of the Militia were artillery Militia—were they to be left without organization and without artillery? They had been told that their whole field force amounted to 400,000 men; but of these not more than 100,000 were Regulars, and for these only there was organization. The rest were as if actually non-existent—as if they had never been raised. There were various other points with reference to the want of organization on which he might enlarge. There were no means of distributing the munitions of war. That was one of the things of which, before an emergency arose, very great care should be taken; and if they abolished purchase they would be no nearer to it. During this debate a great deal of detail had been submitted to the House with reference to purchase, but the purchase system itself had never been explained. The experts who had spoken seemed to forget that there were many in that House who did not know the A B C of it. A great deal of ignorance prevailed on the subject, which had not in the least been dispelled by the brilliant campaign of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan); indeed, the subject had rather been involved in the mist of words, and, he did not hesitate to say, of inaccurate representations made by that hon. Gentleman. But it was not till they got into Committee, where they could sift all his words and test all his figures, that they could get to the bottom of this matter. It seemed to be supposed by a great many people that the purchase system was an arrangement between an officer who wished to leave the Army and another who wished to succeed to his grade, whereby the one received and the other paid a certain sum of money. But that was not at all a correct representation of the fact. Both the officers had to deal, not with each other, but with the Government. Government informed the incoming officer that if he would deposit a certain sum of money to their credit in the hands of the Government agent, he should have the position he required, while they informed the outgoing officer that he should 66 be permitted to retire, and on his retirement should receive from them a a certain sum. He did not complicate the matter with regulation or extra-regulation prices, because these were matters between officers, and not between the Government and officers; but the whole had been so sedulously mixed up together and enveloped in so much mist, that those who were only superficially acquainted with the subject would have some difficulty in disentangling them. A great deal had been said by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) about the £500,000 a-year which was spent on pensions to general officers, honorary colonels, &c., and the hon. Gentleman had said that expenditure on that account would be altogether got rid of by abolishing the purchase system, as there would then be no half-pay officers, no generals of Staff, and no honorary colonels. But the hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten that most of those who entered the service did so because they wished to adopt it as a profession, and eventually to secure some of its prizes. The pay of the lower ranks of officers in the Army was ridiculously small—in fact it was no pay at all; but the officers naturally looked, to receiving richer rewards as they advanced in promotion; and if the prizes of the profession were taken away the pay in the lower ranks would have to be doubled, or even trebled; and thus, though £500,000 a-year would be saved in pensions, a much larger sum would be spent in increased pay. Was it, then, desirable, or was it not, to abolish the purchase system? There could be no doubt that the purchase system had given the country certain advantages. Among the rest, it had given to our Army the best regimental system in the world, and it was generally admitted that if the purchase system were abolished the regimental system would have to go also. It had caused a flow of promotion which might be got in some other way, but this Bill gave no information upon that point. Why, then, get rid of the purchase system? There was only the old and hackneyed answer that it "stood in the way of all Army reform." The hon. Member for the Border Burghs, indeed, said he wanted a national Army. What did he mean by a national Army? Did he mean an Army to be officered entirely by compe- 67 titive examination? He drew a fine picture of young men, first in the cricket-field and also in Greek grammar, hurrying up to present themselves for examination, and so get their commission in the Army; but if he and the Government for which he spoke intended to abolish all the prizes of the military profession, they would find, unless they increased the pay of the young officers, those who were represented as ready to present themselves, brimful of learning, to compete for commissions in the national Army would not display so very much alacrity. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that the Army, as at present constituted, was of too aristocratic a character; but it had been indisputably shown that that was not the case. The British Army represented very fairly the general body not of the aristocratic only, but of all the educated classes of the country, and it was absolutely essential that the gentlemanlike tone that now animated the officers of the Army should be maintained. To eliminate what the hon. Member for the Border Burghs called the "aristocratic class," and to draw the officers of the Army solely from the class from which the average vestryman was drawn, would narrow the range of choice, and be a very undesirable thing. Whether the purchase system were abolished or not, the officers of the Army ought to be maintained in the same position of high respect which they now held. If the purchase system was abolished, the Army could not be officered by seniority; but it must be done by selection. He had said he would not trouble the House with any authorities; but the senior officer of our Army (Sir John Burgoyne) had written a letter within the last few days which had not yet been quoted: and he thought it was only due to the almost paternal authority of that gallant veteran to mention it in the House. He said, with reference to selection—To suppose that, whenever a vacancy occurs, the best man in the Army can possibly be selected to fill it is quite a fallacy. Regimental duties during peace time afford no criterion by which the qualifications of officers can be estimated so absolutely as to justify the supersession of a senior officer by another junior to him in the service.Again, with reference to the regimental Reports, upon which the right hon. Gentleman said the Commander-in-Chief would mostly depend for his information 68 with respect to the capabilities of officers, Sir John Burgoyne said they would—In nearly all cases note, in respect of probably four-fifths of the officers, 'understands his duties, regular and attentive to them, and well qualified for promotion.'Sir John Burgoyne concluded a most temperate resumé of the subject by saying that selection would be either a lottery or an abuse. That was the opinion of our oldest officer; and what was the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief, of whom the hon. Member for the Border Burghs wished to get rid for entertaining it? It was that the system of selection was impossible. Surely importance should be attached to such statements. But they were told that selection had worked admirably in the Prussian and Austrian armies. It did not exist in the Prussian Army, although it was often assumed that it did. It did exist in the Austrian Army, and he could tell the House that its operation was not uniformly satisfactory. It not unfrequently happened that when an officer was promoted out of one regiment into another, over the heads of officers junior to himself, as soon as he reached the regiment to which he was attached, the officers over whose heads he had passed were in the habit of calling him out and fighting him, and if the persons superseded were numerous, it may easily be supposed that the prospect of a succession of duels had generally the effect of getting rid of the intruder. We were possibly more peaceable in this country; but human nature was much the same all over the world. The happiness with which our regimental system had worked would certainly be endangered by the same feeling which induced Austrians to make war upon one another. It might be convenient to the Government to adopt the plan as offering a cheap scheme of retiring allowance. They might appoint an officer to an Irish regiment, for instance, and, no doubt, in a short time several death vacancies would be at the disposal of the Government, and the burdens of the country would be materially reduced. But he could not think promotion by selection, under such conditions, would be very popular. When the right hon. Gentleman wanted to promote an officer he would send for him, take him into his sanctum, tell him that he had better make some provision for his widow 69 should anything unforeseen occur, and then announce to him that he was to be promoted to the 151st Regiment over the heads of half-a-dozen gentlemen all distinguished by their efficiency with the small sword. To speak seriously, such promotion would introduce a very great degree of ill-feeling into the ranks of the British Army; it would destroy the home feeling with which officers now regarded the regiments they belonged to, and it would make officers hate each other with a degree of bitterness we had very little idea of. Such a state of things, contrasted with the present regimental system and its family-like ties, would be most disastrous to the British Army. It was not only proposed to abolish the present system by a stroke of the pen, but it was to be done in a most unjust manner. Payment to an officer of the money he was entitled to receive was deferred. A lieutenant, whose commission had cost £700, might serve 10 years and become a colonel; but if he then retired he would only receive £700, and must give up his half-pay or retiring allowance, which would probably amount to a great deal more than the interest of that sum. Therefore the officer would most likely prefer to forfeit his £700, which would thus be left in the hands of the Government. That was not just on the part of the Government, and it was not fair to an officer. If they wanted to get rid of the purchase system, let them abolish it at once, fairly and openly. The Volunteers had not been referred to during the debate, except in a slighting and disparaging manner. He did not wish to thrust the services of the Volunteers before the country; but he would say that when they entered the force they thought they were doing, and he believed they were at that time doing, good service. Now that we were to have an Army Re-organization Bill, and the Government were going to put our defences on a satisfactory footing, it seemed that they did not want the Volunteers any more. But why did not the right hon. Gentleman say so? The right hon. Gentleman said that he wanted to organize the Volunteers, and he certainly put them under the Mutiny Act; but, while rightly holding that they were useless as they were, he refrained from organizing them, and the inference was that the Volunteers had better withdraw from the service as 70 soon as they could. Neither the Controller General, nor the Financial Secretary, spoke of the Volunteers as part of our defensive forces, except in a very cursory manner. But if the Government wished to maintain these men, and make them a valuable force, they must organize them; and he undertook to state that if they were told what was required of them the Volunteers would submit cheerfully and willingly. But when the Government merely told them they were of no use, and that they ought to be something which they were not, and which they could not become unless those in authority took them in hand, an injustice was done to a body of men who would be valuable to the country at its need; and, further, a mistake was committed. Placing the Volunteers under the? Mutiny Act, and not at the same time giving to those in authority the power of calling out their men, was simply a mockery and a sham. He could not order his regiment to go to the Easter Volunteer Review at Brighton; if he did the men need not go if they choose not to do so; and, as a further inducement not to go, they were now told that if they went they would be put under the Mutiny Act. He thought it would be far more in accordance with the known straightforwardness of the right hon. Gentleman if he had said—"I do not think that, under present circumstances, the Volunteers are required." They would take their dismissal well. It would, at any rate, have been far more handsome to have adopted that plan with regard to men who had given a good deal of time, money, and thought to the matter, than to have pursued a purely negative and somewhat insulting course. He would say a word as to the vote which it would be necessary to give on this occasion. They had been furnished by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs with his hustings cry, and that had been backed up, on the authority of the Government, by a threat which he thought, for the dignity of the House, had better have been withheld. They were told that if the Government was defeated a Dissolution would ensue. The hon. Member for the Border Burghs, obviously speaking with the approval of the Government, had told them what the hustings cry would be in the event of a Dissolution. His intention was to raise a completely false issue on the sub- 71 ject of the purchase system. The cry was to be that the friends in that House of aristocratic officers in the Army had thrust out this Bill in order to keep up the Army as an aristocratic preserve. He trusted Her Majesty's Government would see the necessity of repudiating both the threat and the cry. It was injudicious to use either of them; it was also inconsistent with the dignity of the House; and he did not think it would tend to conciliate votes in a Division. Unless Her Majesty's Government adopted the course he suggested, he, for one, should have no hesitation in meeting his constituents, and he should have no difficulty in putting the matter not on a false, but on a true issue. He should tell his constituents that he could not vote for an expenditure of public money of which neither the extent nor the object was known. He would tell them further, that at a great crisis of our history a Bill had been brought before the House which failed to appreciate the magnitude of the interests involved, and which did not provide either for the safety of this country or her immunity from possible disaster.
§ MR. OSBORNE
Sir, after four nights debate I cannot hope to add any novelties or bring any fresh facts into this discussion; but I trust I may be allowed to occupy the attention of the House for a short space of time, and I beg the House to remember that I am a man of my word, and that I do not act as some other hon. Members do, and commence my speech with an intimation that I shall only occupy a short time, and then speak for one hour and 20 minutes. Therefore, I trust I shall be allowed to intrude upon the patience of the House for a short time, seeing that I have given some attention to this question, and I think the House will agree with me in coming to the conclusion that a question of greater magnitude has seldom been submitted to the British Government. It is a question of such magnitude that I cannot understand its being discussed or debated on party grounds. For my own part I abjure all party views in considering a measure for placing the country in a state of proper security. And I go further; I acquit Her Majesty's Government altogether, in the proposals they have made, of being influenced by any other motive than honest and proper motives. I do not believe 72 that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War intends this Bill to be what is called a "sop" to the Democratic interest. I believe his proposals are made in good faith; and that, however mistaken he may be, he is honest in his intentions—in fact, that he is full of good intentions—but, unfortunately, these are the very things which we know this and "another place" are paved with. Now I, like many speakers who have preceded me, cannot but find fault with the very limited range which this debate has taken; but whose fault is it that it is not more extended? It is the fault of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Berkshire (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) who has brought forward what I may call this "nibbling" Amendment to a great question, which has restricted the range of this discussion, which has prejudged the question, and which has placed us in this predicament, that, whichever way we may vote upon it, we shall be voting upon a false issue. I want the House to follow me while I endeavour to give some idea of what this question really is. In the first place, this Bill gives us no real guide, if we require a guide, to the question before the House. In order fully to comprehend that question we must look to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, in introducing the Army Estimates on the 16th of last month. In what terms did the right hon. Gentleman lay down the intentions of the Government on that occasion. They are very short and I will read them. The right hon. Gentleman said—It is the opinion of the Government that, if we are to deal at all with a question of this magnitude and importance, we ought not to deal with it in a superficial and partial manner, but ought to take a broad and comprehensive review of the subject, and endeavour to lay the deep foundations of a system which may render danger or the apprehension of danger in the future altogether unknown."—[3 Hansard, cciv. 328.]That was the description of this Bill. What is its performance? We know what this Bill is. Here we are, after a fortnight, still discussing one clause. We are floundering in the morass of abolition of purchase, and we can get no further. And whose fault is that? Why the right hon. Gentleman's. After giving us a promise that we were to be placed in a position of permanent security, he brings in this Bill, which is entitled the Army Regulation Bill. Of 73 what does this Bill consist? It consists of three parts. The first part provides for the abolition of purchase, and we have heard of nothing else than the abolition of purchase during the past week. The second part provides for short enlistment, and is merely a continuation of the Act of last Session; and the third part deals with the auxiliary forces, a subject on which I shall have a word or two to say by-and-by. There is nothing that is clear in the Bill except one thing—it is most clear that we shall have an enlarged expenditure, ill-defined Estimates, and no prospect of permanent security. Now, Sir, the Army Department in this House—I am speaking, of course, of the Treasury Benches—is at present stronger than I have ever known it to be before, for it actually consists of four officers connected with the Secretary for War. In the first place, there is the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War himself; then there is the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Financial Secretary (Captain Vivian); the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Surveyor General of the Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks); and the Judge Advocate General (Mr. Davison), who we saw the other night was put forward in the foremost rank. What a noble army of Martyrs! In the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, on the 16th of last month, permanent security was the cry. But on the first night of this debate that illusion was most effectually dispelled by the speech of the Judge Advocate General. What did he tell us? He said—"It is not permanent security; it is not security at all? The pith of this Bill is the abolition of purchase." Well and good. Then the Financial Secretary—who, I think, is himself an argument in favour of the purchase system—addresses us in a most clever speech. But did he give us any detailed account of the financial results likely to flow from this measure? On the contrary, he ran right round the Bill, and quizzed the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), but added nothing to our information upon the subject. Nothing but a jump in the dark is suggested, and we are called upon to vote £8,000,000, for what purpose we really do not know. I am sure no man can be more delighted than I am to see the Surveyor General in what I think is his proper place—on the Treasury Bench; and I did expect 74 that when he came forward—the officer who, I suppose, has had more to do with this Bill than anyone else—he would have given us some detailed plan of Army organization, and would have told us what is to be put in the place of the purchase system. He did nothing of the sort. All he did was to refer, in the most graceful manner, to the Army of the past; almost in the language of another gallant general—"Begone, brave Army; don't kick up a row." But I should think that, in taking leave of this Army of the past—in whose records are inscribed the triumphs of British history—he would have told us something of the organization of the Army of the future. Not a word on that point, however, fell from him. But he read to us extracts from letters relating to the subject. Are hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench so hard up for arguments that they are compelled to quote letters to support their views? Every Member knows how, in every debate, he is pestered with letters. If I were to read some of the letters I have received—but which I have not in my pocket, because I left them at home lest I should be tempted to read them—they would completely answer the arguments contained in those which were read by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Surveyor General. I say that we are floundering in the morass of the abolition of purchase. Of course, this subject having been put at the head and front of the battle, it is impossible for us to pass it over. For myself I have no particular prejudice in favour of the purchase system. I have no particular admiration for its history or origin. I know that its origin is neither remote nor reputable. Its associations with Charles II., and his favourite the Duke of Buckingham, are not likely to make it very popular on account of its antiquity. The origin of the purchase system occurred in times when we had only a standing Army of 5,000 men. It is true that, in the year 1695, the Mutiny Act attempted to strike a blow at it; but, as time went on, it was found to be totally impossible to make any provision for officers disabled by old age or wounds, and, therefore, by the Act of Queen Anne, in the year 1711, every officer was allowed, after 20 years' service, to sell his commission. What for? Not for the reasons which have been stated; 75 but to enable provision to be made for disabled officers, without calling upon the country to pay it. Before we are called upon to abolish a system which I have no objection whatever to see abolished, I should wish you to tell me what you are going to put in its place. Instead of hearing something to the purpose, we have listened to nothing but vague declamation about national armies and professional officers. I should wish this question to be looked at from a civilian, as well as well as from a military, point of view. As a Member of the House of Commons, I am not so particularly fond either of large standing armies or of professional officers. We have seen something of them, and we have always the Prussian view of the question brought before us. It was the same at the time of the proposal for balloting for the Militia being brought forward in 1792; the same fever existed then as now for imitating everything that was Prussian in military matters. But look at Prussia as she is now. Do you wish this country to resemble her? At the present moment she is neither more nor less than a military despotism. The officers of the Prussian Army, which we are now so much admiring, are nothing more or less than a separate class whose instincts are all for war, and who look on a state of peace with aversion. Sir, I do not wish to see our Army Prussianized, especially in regard to that one distinct class. But is there nothing to be said on this matter from another point of view? The Surveyor General of the Ordnance says that we must now have professional officers. Very good, Sir, but have we had no previous experience in this country as to that? And, bad as the purchase system may be, does it not give you some ground of security against the supremacy of the class of mercenaries of whom we have seen something in our history before now? I am not speaking from the military point of view; but, in its civil aspect, I say the purchase system gives you a guarantee against the supremacy of a mere military class. With respect, then, to professional officers, I think the House of Commons ought a little to remember the history of this country. What was the Army of 1644? Why, the very beau ideal of that which the Surveyor General of the Ordnance wishes to introduce. The Army of 1644 had no purchase system, the officers were 76 selected by the Commander-in-Chief on the approval of this House, and how did it behave? The right hon. Gentleman the Surveyor General of the Ordnance has told us something about vested interests meeting him everywhere in connection with our present Army. Well, what was the conduct of that Army which had no purchase, no vested interests, and which was appointed by selection? Why, their notion of their vested interests was so strong that they objected altogether to any Vote of this House for their reduction, and the word "agitator," now so rife—I do not see the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) present—was taken from the practice of that Army, for they elected two persons out of every regiment, called "agitators," to resist any reduction of their numbers by this House, and to offer scorn and defiance to the free institutions of the country. That was a specimen of your non-purchase Army; nor was it the only specimen. What do you think of your professional soldier who one fine morning came down to this House? He was an officer without purchase—a selected officer, who weeded that House of Commons of 1648 of all the philosophical economists, and some of the professors, and eventually, Sir, turned one of your predecessors out of that Chair. Colonel Pride was one of those men in whom the Surveyor General of the Ordnance would have delighted; he knew his profession—he was a professional soldier; he had no scruples, although he had some regard for vested interests. That was not all. We remember this Parliamentary Army on an after occasion. Who was it that came down to this House with 300 well-drilled men, and said, Sir, "Take away that bauble?" Why, a lieutenant-general of selection; and aided by those 300 men, commanded by professional officers, he shut up this House, put the key in his pocket, and extinguished the British Constitution. Well, these are a civilian's views probably; but before we are so eager to rush into the system of professional officers and large standing armies let us consider a little. Professional officers may be all very well in their place when war is actually occurring; but I should be very sorry to see a state of things when we should have an enormous standing Army in this country, and nothing but professional mercenaries 77 having the command of that Army. "Well," but says the Surveyor General of the Ordnance, "here I have a letter;" and really I was so carried away by his manner, that I thought there was matter in it. Nothing could have been better than his manner; it was the Governor of Corfu all over; but I must say the matter disappointed me when he read that letter from Colonel Cameron. Colonel Cameron is a distinguished officer, but not more so than 50 others, and I could quote two names that would, I think, even balance that authority. Here is the opinion of an officer—The description of gentlemen of whom the officers in the Army are composed make, from their education, manners, and habits, the best officers in the world. To compose the officers of a lower class would cause the Army to deteriorate.That was the opinion of the Duke of Wellington, who, forsooth, is now sneered at by hon. and right hon. GentlemenThat never set a squadron in the field,Nor the division of a battle knowMore than a spinster.Well, I have another equally great authority—a great civilian authority. What does he say?It was only when the Army was unconnected altogether with those whose property gave them an interest in the welfare of the country, was commanded by military adventurers, that it could ever become formidable to the liberties of the nation.That was the opinion of Lord Palmerston. I quote these two authorities—the Duke of Wellington and Lord Palmerston—against Colonel Cameron.Under which King, Bezonian? Speak, or die.So far for some of the civilian considerations about purchase. I, unfortunately, have sufficient experience of this House, and of the Treasury Bench, to know that when such a Motion as this is brought forward for the abolition of purchase, any particular institution, be it purchase or any other, and in such a Parliament as we have got together—I do not say a scratch Parliament—I am certain that institution is doomed. I am not going to impede the abolition of purchase. I disagree with this Amendment altogether, because, wisely or unwisely, purchase, I repeat, is doomed. Therefore I have made up my mind that it will go; but if it does, one thing should follow. You are bound at once to abolish it; and, among other reasons, for one given by the Financial Secretary—namely, that it would be impossible to have officers 78 from the Militia without purchase acting with officers who have purchased. The Financial Secretary laid that down very strongly, and I agree with him. If, then, you abolish purchase you come to this, that it must be abolished at once. It is impossible that you can have the two systems standing side by side; you cannot have one officer coming in, who has not purchased, and another officer commanding, or alongside of him, who has purchased. If you spread the abolition of purchase over a series of years, and keep the two systems existing together, you may conciliate the taxpayer, but you will destroy the discipline of the Army. You must, therefore, pay off all these men at once. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will have no difficulty in doing it. We know his acuteness in managing figures, and his great resources. I leave it to him; but I say, let him pay off these officers at once and have done with it. Another thing I would say is—"Do not meddle with what is called the present bonus system." Why should you meddle with it at all? You have tried by all sorts of Acts of Parliament and regulations to control it; but you have failed. You cannot do it. I perfectly agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) on that point. It has been sought to make this proposal out to be an economical one. But how? Why, this Bill, under the pretext of being a Bill of liberality, is only a "sham." I give the hon. Member for the Border Burghs every credit for the excellent speech he made the other night; indeed, he explained the measure more fully than we have yet had it explained to us by anyone else, although he does not happen to sit on the Treasury Bench. But he forgot one thing—namely, that in spreading this process over a number of years the Government is looking out for a great many windfalls; for every colonel who becomes a major-general is to forfeit the sum of £4,500; and the value of the commission of every purchase officer who dies on service is to go to the Government. That, I say, is not a measure of liberality towards the Army at all. I think, if the officers of the Army were wise, they would close with the offer of the Government; but then do not let the Government attempt to spread the operation over a number of years, but let them, for the sake of the 79 discipline of the Army, and for their own sakes, pay off all this money at once, repealing the Act of Parliament referred to by the hon. Member for Warrington, and allowing the thing to take its course. So much for the purchase system. I am sorry to have dwelt so long upon it; but it was really necessary to do so, as we are discussing the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Colonel the Member for Berkshire, who, I hope, will take my advice and get his Amendment out of the way. His Amendment, Sir, only props up a bad system: this Bill can only be passed by means of his Amendment; because no man of common or ordinary sagacity, who examines this question for himself, can for a moment suppose that this Bill would ever be listened to—that it would not be taken away as the mace is taken away from the Table of this House—but for this clause about the abolition of purchase. In all other respects the measure is disjointed and incoherent; and, though it displays good intentions, I cannot compliment its framers on their capacity. As yet we have heard nothing, and are without any guidance as to what sort of men are to be appointed to the Army, or by what kind of process they are to be promoted. We hear, indeed, of promotion by seniority; but everybody is of opinion that promotion by seniority means nothing more nor less than stagnation. Then we hear of selection. What did the Secretary for War say about selection on February 16. The Secretary for War is one of those men whom you know is really earnest when he appears to be so, and when he is earnest every one of his words requires to be weighed. Now, what did he say? He said—"Selection is one of those problems in life the most difficult in solution." And there he left it. I thought that it was a quotation from "Rochefoucauld" at first, but I have not been able to find it there. Well, it is one of those "problems," and how does he solve it? The Surveyor General of Ordnance did not say much about it; but he said—"Look at the Austrian Army, and the French Army." I am not so well acquainted with the Austrian Army as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman; I do not know if the Austrian officers acted on the principle of Sir Lucius O'Trigger; but I do know that a more unfortunate instance could not have been produced with regard 80 to the principle of selection. Look at their first campaign against the Prussians. Did the right hon. and gallant Gentleman refer to one Field Marshal Giuilai, an officer of selection, who led the Austrian Army into such difficulties and defeats? Does he remember a gallant officer of selection whose ancestor, Clam Gallas, in the Thirty Years' War, committed the same mistakes as he in the late war? Of the principle of selection as practised in the French Army I know little or nothing; but we have recently seen what that has led to. In fact, Sir, selection is really a difficult problem, even in civil life. I have actually heard your judgments in the way of selection impugned in this House. There are great Parliamentary difficulties, no doubt, in the way of selection. What does selection mean? I was sorry to hear my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs, who was made for better things, attack the Commander-in-Chief for his opinion about selection. Of course it would not do, after the dictum of the Secretary for War that it is of all problems in life, the most difficult of solution. But what should we have if this selection were carried out? Is there no such thing as Parliamentary interest or favour? What have I seen in this House when the principle of selection and rejection have both been carried out? Have I not seen officers worrying Members of this House, and canvassing them to bring forward their cases? Hon. Gentlemen will remember when that much respected and departed Member of this House, Mr. Darby Griffith, brought forward that eternal case of Colonel Dawkins, he actually got a Division. If you have this principle of selection and rejection practised on a large scale, think what a number of Petitions we shall have. Imagine the hon. Member for the Border Burghs coming down armed with statistics, and thundering at his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War, who thinks that selection is one of the most difficult problems in life. Selection, as has been well said by Field Marshal Sir John Burgoyne, must necessarily end in being either a lottery or an abuse. Selection is only possible in a despotic country. Now, we have heard the non-purchase corps alluded to, and I was surprised to hear the Financial Secretary to the War Office account for the list of officers in 81 the Artillery corps by saying it was an abnormal state of things arising from the influx of officers during the Crimean War. Directly those officers are absorbed he assures us promotion in the Artillery corps will be fairly satisfactory. If the hon. and gallant Member will look in the pigeon-holes of the office he will find this flux is no new complaint. So far back as 1823 there was such a block in the Artillery corps that the Duke of Wellington actually gave leave to 27 lieutenant-colonels, three majors, and seven captains, to sell their commissions; and the Financial Secretary's gallant father, who was Master General of the Ordnance, brought in a Report about the Artillery in the year 1840—a normal period, as to the ages of the officers in Artillery corps, which is worthy of remark in this abnormal period. I trust I am not tedious in touching on these details; it is really necessary to answer these statements, because there are many hon. Gentlemen near me thirsting for information, who are crammed with ideas from speeches about a profession to which they have not given their early attention, and who really should be accurately informed. Now, what did this Report state? It tells us that in 1840 the 20 senior colonels in the Artillery corps were aged from 60 to 58, and had served from 46 to 44 years. Would any hon. Gentlemen in business think the position of colonel, with its emoluments, a sufficient reward for 46 years' service? The 10 senior lieutenant-colonels were 58, and had served 41 years. The 33 senior captains were 50 years of age, and had served 35 years. The 45 second captains were from 45 to 48 years of age, and had served for 30 years. The 18 first lieutenants were from 40 to 38 years of age, with from 20 to 16 years' service. That was the state of the Artillery in 1840—a normal time. But what is their state now? Questions were asked of the actuaries, in the Committee on this subject by the Financial Secretary to the War Office, as to what would be the normal state of promotion in the Artillery corps, and the answers were that lieutenant-colonels would be colonels after 42 years' service; captains would require 35 years before they made a move, and lieutenants 16 years. You will find that in a Parliamentary Paper of this Session, chap. 205. My wonder is that you ever get anybody into the 82 non-purchase corps on these terms, and my firm conviction is that unless you increase the pay you will not get officers in the future to enter the service. The Estimates are at present totally undefined, and you may intend some of the money to go for this purpose. The only approximate estimate of the cost of the proposed system has been made by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs, and he is not the proper person to furnish the House with information which should be supplied from the Treasury Bench. What is to be the expenditure of this country for the future? I have my doubts as to what is in the womb of time, as expounded by the Secretary for War. From that speech of the right hon. Gentleman, which entirely took me in, and took half the world in, I thought we were going to have one of the greatest measures it is possible to conceive. That was a great and a lucid speech, well reasoned and admirably delivered, and what did the right hon. Gentleman say? The right hon. Gentleman asked a question which deserves the attention of all those Gentlemen who profess to look after the public purse, but who make a great fuss and do very little. The right hon. Gentleman asked—"What will you do about retirement? It is impossible to say with accuracy what will be required for that purpose. No one but a prophet can tell that. Parliament must meet it." Parliament is an assembly of prophets. "Are you prepared, as a Parliament, to deal with this question of retirement?" I ask my Friends, the political economists and professors I see bristling around me, are you prepared to deal with this question of retirement? Are you satisfied with the Estimates that have been laid upon the Table of the House as to the probable cost of this new military scheme? We all know very well that £8,000,000 represents but a fraction of what it will actually cost. You talk about dealing with that class of men, the professional officers; but will you get them without increasing the pay? Do you suppose that the present pay will allure military men, who think they have genius, into your service? And do you suppose that when the wages of labour are rising throughout the country you will get private soldiers to serve you for the present pay? Is anybody so blind and fatuous as to believe that these Esti- 83 mates represent in any way the cost which the country will be called upon to bear for this new scheme? Well, so much for retirement. Now, how are we to grant commissions? I have never been a great admirer of that Chinese puzzle, the competitive system; but in the Army it is impossible to find by competition men who are fitted for officers; for these are qualities, at which many of my hon. Friends around me may stare, that are of great consequence and value in an officer. A quick eye, and power to ride across country, such as is possessed by my hon. Friend the gallant Member for Tipperary (Colonel White)—a good horseman—these are all things to be looked to. Mark you, in the Prussian Army they will not have a man who cannot ride. These are things to be looked to, particularly as by the Bill nine men out of ten can never rise beyond the rank of captain. You want men who can go through regular routine duty; you do not want genius. You want good, strong, able-bodied men who can ride across country. Such a man is likely to be a good officer. Is there any authority for this competitive system which is about to be introduced into the Army? I have heard Lord Grey quoted on this question, and what was the noble Lord's answer, before the Commission of 1856, as to examinations, and particularly as to competitive examinations for officers? He said—You test nothing but the acquirements of a man by examination. What you want in an officer, far more than acquirements, is that he should possess certain moral qualities, such as courage, high spirit, energy, the feeling of a gentleman, and the power of thinking and acting for himself. These cannot be tested by examination.He goes on to say—The system of cramming weakens the powers of the mind. The consequence is that, in the opinion of eminent Frenchmen, there is a very serious increase of brain disease among the young.That has been exemplified very fully in the French Army, where there is a competitive examination for officers. I do not think we ought to go to France for a system of obtaining officers, although you have gone there for a system of transport and supply. What was Sir George Lewis's opinion of the competitive system? It is so terse that I may be allowed to quote it, and it will come home, I am sure, to hon. Gentlemen around me, who have all read sufficient 84 of the history of this country to know who Sir George Lewis was. He aid of competitive examination—Look to the points and paces of the steed, but do not rest the choice of a coach horse on the issue of a race, for the simple reason that we do not want racers in harness.So much for competitive examination, a system which would have plucked Marl-borough, puzzled Wolfe, and probably turned back Wellington. I will now say a few words about the artillery, because I desire to go through the Bill succinctly. We are told that we have, or that we an have, an Army of 400,000 men—that is, we have a Regular Army of 112,000, we have 139,000 Militiamen, and we have the Volunteers, but we have only artillery for the 112,000 men. But I say, we do not want an Army of 400,000 men. Why put that in the foreground? and if you do, why should you deceive hon. Gentlemen when you know you have not artillery, which is most necessary for an Army? How have all the recent great actions between the French and the Prussians been gained? Not only by the efficiency of the Prussian men, but also by the superiority of their artillery. What is the state of our artillery service? I asked a Question a few days ago about new batteries of bronze guns. We were told the other day that bronze guns were not to be made, because there had been some failure in the casting. I have taken some trouble to inform myself on this subject, and I say that, in the opinion of all the scientific men of the present day, bronze is not the metal of which a gun would be made by anyone who had any experience as a civil or military engineer. The metal of which I believe the gun of the future will be made, is the Whitworth metal; but Mr. Whitworth, who is a scientific engineer, has not a chance. Again, you are going back to the old system of muzzle-loaders; but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at this moment there is a breechloader invented, of the most simple construction, which, in my heart and conscience, I believe will be the gun of the future. The right hon. Gentleman takes credit for his 35-ton gun, which is not yet proved, and for his 16-pounders, only two of which are in existence; but I want to know how he proposes to increase the field artillery? He said we have added to our field artillery; but the 85 Surveyor General of Ordnance wholly omitted any allusion to that most important branch of the service, and did not mention the state of the artillery at all. After he had taken a farewell of the Army he seemed so overcome that he gave up all the rest. How is it proposed to constitute the field artillery? Is it to be done at the expense of the garrison artillery? but all who have any knowledge of the service know that a garrison artilleryman is a very highly instructed man, and when you make enormous guns you require a highly scientific man to work them. The garrison artillerymen at Plymouth are now employed in mounting and dismounting those large guns. The garrison artillerymen require to be highly scientific men; they require a knowledge and a speciality entirely of itself; but it is proposed to take away all such men and make them into field artillerymen. What is proposed as regards the horse artillery? It is proposed to take five batteries of horse artillery from the Indian Army and to add an additional battery. That question of the Indian Army is a question which looms very darkly. I want to know how, with a system of short enlistment, you propose to keep up that Indian Army. I am not content with this Bill, which is an Army Regulation Bill for our home establishment, for I want to know how the Army of the future in India is to be created. I have shown you what are the horse and field artillery; now, what are your Reserve batteries? I believe the right hon. Gentleman proposes 12 batteries of six guns each. That will give him 72 guns. He has the guns and carriages; but where are the gunners and drivers to come from? They cannot be provided in a day. The whole question of artillery is shunted aside, and there is no provision for retirement, which I think is one of the most important things the House of Commons can consider. So much for the horse, the foot, and the dragoons. As to the cavalry, I shall not rightly understand what the right hon. Gentleman intends to do until the House goes into Committee on the Bill. We now come to the auxiliary forces and the question of Reserve, and I would ask any hon. Gentleman who is at all conversant with the Militia—"Is there anything in this Bill which tends to make that force a Reserve for the Army?" It 86 is true that the third part of the Bill deals with what are called the auxiliary forces. It provides that Lords Lieutenant are not to make nominations; at least, not publicly. You have certain field officers on the Staff who are to supervise certain districts. That will end in being a job for certain field officers. Then you have an extension of drill, which is very well as far as it goes, but it will not make a soldier or even a Militiaman efficient. Has any hon. Member looked at those question which were put to the commanding officers of Militia regiments? Question No. 5 asks—"What will be the effect of this increased system of drill?" Half the officers in England and Wales reply that it will be against recruiting for Militia, and a large proportion of the officers of Militia regiments in Scotland and Ireland say the same thing. I say, as for a Reserve, we have no Reserve. The right hon. Gentleman only proposes to take money for 9,000 men as a first-class Reserve, and yet this is called a Bill for placing the country in a state of security. We have heard something of camps of instruction, and if you are to make the Militia at all effective you must send them to camps of instruction, You might just as well attempt to make an Admiral at Virginia Water as to make a Militiaman at all efficient without sending him to a camp of instruction. I see no proposition to send Militiamen to camps of instruction in the Bill. The sensible thing would be to embody each regiment of Militia for six months once in every five years, and that would embody one-tenth of the Militia at the same cost as the Regular Army. Without going as far as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert), who would not only sweep away the Army of the past, but everything in the future, except in the shape of a policeman, I think it would be wiser to rely much more upon the Militia and to bring it to the fore much more than you are doing by this Bill. What does "Army regulation" mean? This Bill is nothing more nor less than a Bill for the abolition of purchase; but what Army re-organization really means is having an efficient practical military officer in the Cabinet. While you have a man, however able, moved about to so many Offices, knowing the business of everyone—and that seems to be the prince- 87 ple on which Government is now conducted—while you have a mere civilian at the head, what can you expect? In my opinion one of the greatest mistakes that was ever made by this House was the abolition of the Ordnance Department. Up to 1828 the Master General of the Ordnance was always a distinguished officer, and generally in the Cabinet. You abolished that post contrary to the advice of the Duke of Wellington and Sir James Graham, as you were then beginning what was called an "Army consolidation" scheme. If you are to have Army re-organization, you ought to have a military man in the Cabinet, though I do not want him to interfere in other questions. I know that Army reformers have now a difficulty of getting into Parliament. Contagious diseases keep them out. Let us, however, see what has happened. In 15 years you have had seven different Secretaries of State at War, and of those seven only two have been men connected with the Army. What has been the consequence? You have gone on from blunder to blunder; you have gone on with your civil administration, always getting into scrapes, from the time of the famous green coffee being sent to the troops in the Crimea. Who was it that sent that green coffee to the troops? A military man? No; a civilian at the Treasury. ["Name!"] I do not name him; I do not know who it was. "Oh, no, we never mention him!" At any rate it is the civilian administration of your Army that always breaks down, not your military or your regimental system. Only see what has happened in this attempted consolidation at the War Office. During the last 12 years there have been 17 Royal Commissions, 18 Select Committees, 19 Committees of officers in the War Office, besides 35 Committees of other officers, to consider the re-organization of the Department. What can be more ridiculous? It is because I deprecate what the Surveyor General of the Ordnance called spasmodic efforts at Army Reform; it is because I believe this Bill not to be a Bill of efficient economy or efficient defence; more than all, it is because I believe the Bill will not place this country in a state of permanent security, that I shall not vote for the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Berkshire (Colonel Loyd Lindsay), but shall support a direct 88 Motion, that this Bill be not read a second time.
said, there was no man on the Opposition side of the House who would not have given his best assistance to the Government in the attempt to promote a Bill for the real re-organization of the Army. But the measure they had introduced was one of so extraordinary a character, that without supporting the interests of one class of officers, but acting simply in the public interests, he thought it could not possibly be allowed to pass. Her Majesty's Government had told the House plainly and distinctly that the whole front of this Bill was to do away with the purchase system in the Army at large, and to amalgamate the field, Militia, and Volunteer forces. Well, he supposed they would do away with the purchase system, and he had consequently to ask how they meant to officer the Militia and Volunteers. To the questions which had been put from the Conservative side of the House there had been no reply from the Treasury Bench. Questions had been asked and asked again, in a bonâ fide spirit, as to the cost of abolition coupled with that of retirement, and if Members could only find out what the Treasury Bench thought, they would be able to make up their minds on the subject. But Her Majesty's Government would not say what they meant to do, and it was evident they were determined to carry the Bill by the mere strength of votes. If Government would not say what they knew or meant to do, it fell to the lot of independent Members to come forward and give what information they were able to furnish. The Secretary for War had stated that he could not state what would be the expense of his scheme; but there were records in the War Office which would have enabled him to state very exactly what the expenditure would be. There were very good data for stating the effect of his scheme from the Army Estimates; there was, first of all, the Vote for the Marines; another way of testing it was with reference to the Ordnance corps, and there was a further calculation that could be made from the Estimates placed before the House from the India Office. Well, he had to ask what Her Majesty's Government was going to give in exchange for the very large sums the country was asked to pay in connection with this 89 scheme. There had been no answer whatever to this; but they were told that, if it was agreed to, the military forces of the country would be put in the most perfect order. What was the case, however? Not only were the forces not placed in order, but they were placed in no order whatever. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War not only coolly disposed of the whole thing, but stated further, with reference to the artillery, that he had got a proportion of something like 336 guns for his 112,000 men. He (Colonel Jervis) called the attention of the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks) and the Financial Secretary (Captain Vivian) to this fact. But was it the fact that we had got artillery for that number of men? A certain number of guns and a certain number of waggons could be turned out, but these guns and waggons did not improve by being in the field; they were quite as good in store. What we wanted in a campaign was a number of experienced gunners and drivers. Now, at present, they had neither gunners nor drivers to man more than four guns out of the six in every battery. The right hon. and gallant officer the Surveyor General was smiling, but he would give him facts; and he thought it was no laughing matter for the country to be in this state. Did he suppose that the French and Prussian authorities did not know thororougly the exact state in which the ordnance was? Did he suppose that by coming to that House, and throwing dust in the eyes of the English people, they would succeed in throwing dust in the eyes of France or Prussia? He would not say a word about the 72 guns which the Secretary of State for War had said belonged to the depôt, but would simply refer to those batteries that made up his total of 336 guns. It was absurd for the Government to say that they had 336 guns ready for service, when they had not gunners or drivers for a much smaller force. The state in which the artillery was might be shown by the fact that, if a force of artillery were required to march from Aldershot to a station at no great distance, it would be found necessary to break up three batteries to make a single battery. The House had been told that the country was to be divided into districts, in each of which about 20,000 Volunteers, Militia, and 90 Regulars were to be formed into bodies in order to be drilled and paraded, and to receive instructions. In point of fact, however, there was no part of the country where accommodation could be found for so large a number of men. Indeed, it was clearly enough shown by a Return presented to Parliament in June, 1867, on the Motion of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. O'Reilly Dease) that, in the whole country there was not barrack accommodation for more than 130,000 then, and that in no part of England where troops could be assembled together, with the exception of Aldershot, Plymouth, and Portsmouth, was there barrack accommodation for more than 5,000 men. This deficiency of accommodation must be well known to the authorities at the War Office; but he had looked in vain for any indication in the Estimates that the Government really intended to carry out this portion of the scheme. It was not proposed to take a single farthing for the purpose of providing the necessary accommodation, even in huts, in any one of the seven districts into which England was to be divided. He had always objected to the abolition of the purchase system unless a satisfactory scheme could be devised for the payment and retirement of officers. Now, there was one clause in the Bill to which he wished to draw the particular attention of the Financial Secretary, and of the officers belonging to purchase corps. A body of Commissioners were about to be created, who were to take into consideration the various claims brought under their notice, including claims in respect of extra purchase money. He wished to know whether the Commissioners were to act on the principle which had been applied to the East Indian officers? If the Government intended to act upon a similar principle in both cases, the Government seemed to be holding out hopes which they never intended to fulfil. He desired to hear what was the intention of the Government in this matter. In Clause 4 an attempt was made to legalize a most illegal act which had been done by the India Office, and under which the interests of the officers had been wofully sacrificed. Was the offer of the Government to be a bonâ fide one, or was it to be clogged with clauses enabling the Commissioners to overthrow the just 91 expectations of the officers? The Surveyor General of the Ordnance might, perhaps, think he was raising a mere shadow of an objection; but he remembered that when, not very many years ago, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) moved the insertion of a clause in a Bill with a view to obtain the recognition of a certain body of men, the then Secretary of State for India put on a look of blank astonishment and assured the House that they might have trusted to his honour. The clause was inserted, however; but the very next day despatches were sent to India to render nugatory the very clause to which the Secretary of State had been a party. Within his memory a difficulty arose with regard to exchanges between officers in the Militia and the Regular Army, which might and probably would occur again if this Bill became law. The Tipperary Artillery Militia and the Royal Artillery had been quartered together, and the greatest harmony prevailed; but when a few years ago a proposal was made to transfer certain officers from the Militia to the Regular force, it called into immediate existence feelings of bitter hatred and thorough disgust on both sides, from the senior officer down to the drummer-boy, which would not, he believed, have abated by the present time if the proposal had been carried into effect. They had heard so much about the principle of selection, the making of confidential reports as to the character, efficiency, and so forth, of officers, that he should have liked a little more information on the point than had been vouchsafed by the Secretary of State. Perhaps, however, the right hon. Gentleman was no better informed than was one of his predecessors, who, though learned in many other respects, had to have the difference between muzzle-loading and breech - loading guns elaborately explained to him, and, by way of returning the compliment, told his informant that bayonets were so called from the fact that they were first made at Bayonne. If the Secretary of State did not possess the information, the Surveyor of Ordnance might and ought to have informed the House that confidential reports, giving the most minute details regarding the efficiency and personal character of officers, were regularly made and acted upon by the Commander-in- 92 Chief when considering cases of promotion under the present system. The only reason he could imagine for the Government withholding this information was that they wished to do nothing which would render the rejection of the system of selection probable. What would be the working of the system? The Secretary of State said that when an officer was passed over he would take the hint and retire from the service. Perhaps so; but if purchase was abolished, what would he have to retire upon? He would, when he thought himself harshly treated, have to submit tamely or to leave the service, and give up all its advantages without any recompense whatever. He should like a frank answer on the part of Her Majesty's Government to the question whether it was intended to adopt this system, or to place officers who were passed over on half-pay, or, in fact, how they intended to deal with this very difficult branch of the subject. Half-pay was given as a reward for past and a retainer for future services, and he, for one, could never sanction so great a violation of the principle on which half-pay was based as a proposal to place on the half-pay list officers whom the Commander-in-Chief considered unfit to serve the Crown on active service. He did not believe any hon. Member in the House would oppose any plan of real Army re-organization; but they could not consent to accept the plan of a Government, Members of which avowed that they did not understand the question. He held that the conduct of the Government in this matter was most unjust. In the first place the Government insulted men who had been 20 years in the military service, and he would now ask what the Government was going to do? With reference to this matter he should recommend the Financial Secretary of the War Department to read over the debate which had taken place on a kindred subject in 1796. Further, he had to say that, on the part of his constituents, he complained of the conduct of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had denied that there was an intention of creating anything but a voluntary Militia. The Under Secretary for War (Lord Northbrook), who had spoken in "another place," made an objection against conscription, and yet he (Colonel Jervis) 93 found in this Bill clause upon clause to enforce conscription, not by consent of Parliament, but during the Recess, whenever the Privy Council might hold that an emergency had arisen. Last year the First Lord of the Treasury brought forward a Bill enabling Parliament to be called together, in case of necessity, within seven days. He thought this obviated any necessity for such a power being placed in the hands of the Privy Council. He had, therefore, given Notice of his intention to move, in Committee, the omission of this provision. He did not do this with a view of prejudging the question of balloting for the Militia, but because he objected to the Government having the power of enforcing the Ballot in this free country, when opportunity was given for Parliament being called together within so short a period. On the whole he should vote against the measure at its present stage, on the broad ground that the Government had given no satisfactory assurances as to what they intended doing after their sweeping proposals had been accepted by Parliament.
SIR TOLLEMACHE SINCLAIR
said, that, whatever else was done, care should be taken that, either by agreeing to the Bill in its entirety, or by introducing into it Amendments as further consideration showed to be necessary, such a system of retirement should be framed as would prevent promotion being materially slower in the future than it is at present. The Bill would confer immense financial advantages on officers now holding commissions in the service. An ensign would receive £17 10s. on being appointed lieutenant, a lieutenant would receive £80 on gaining his company, a captain would get £125 on attaining his majority, and a major would receive £140 when he became lieutenant-colonel. With regard to the officers who might enter the service hereafter, ensigns would gain £22 10s., lieutenants £40, captains £125, majors £250, and lieutenant-colonels £400. In addition to the advantages which officers would reap from the Government Bill, there was this further immense advantage which had been overlooked in the debate—that henceforth married officers would be relieved from the necessity of insuring their lives to secure an amount of provision to their widows and families. The Government, by relieving married officers from that 94 necessity, would practically almost double their pay. It was said that the purchase system was an advantage to non-purchase officers. So far from its being an advantage to them he believed it retarded their promotion. But even if it could be proved to be an advantage to them, he believed they would rather have their promotion somewhat retarded than see rich junior officers repeatedly jump over their heads. He had been a non-purchase officer, and he knew something of the mortifications, the anxieties, and the disappointments of non-purchase officers. However conscious of military ability a non-purchase officer might be, however attached he might be to his profession, however anxious to continue to serve his country, he had only the cruel alternative before him of giving up his profession or sacrificing his family if he was a married man. Under the present system we were deprived of the services not only of very poor men, who had never been able to purchase any commission, but also of the services of men of moderate means. We were deprived of the services of Von Moltkes and Von Blumenthals, in order that some rich men might obtain the means of destroying regiments and losing battles. He thought that purchase should be abolished at once instead of spreading the payment over 20 or 30 years. He had no doubt, from inquiries he had made, that officers in the Army would gladly accept immediate payment of the regulation price, and would renounce all claim to the over-regulation price. He believed that would be the fairest to the officers, and the most economical to the country. An hon. Member estimated the cost of abolishing the purchase system at £11,000,000; but the Government were of opinion that by spreading the payment over 20 years it might be reduced to £8,000,000. How was it to be so reduced? By depriving a colonel of the Army of his commission, by depriving an officer who retired on full-pay of his commission, by depriving a widow and orphans of the commission of an officer who died but was not killed in battle. He did not think it right to deprive any of these persons of a vested right which they ought to possess. The Government, instead of paying the over-regulation price and depriving those persons of their rights, should, on the contrary, pay them their due. Under the 95 present system when an officer was killed in battle his widow was paid not the over-regulation price but the regulation price only. He thought that the living officer did not deserve so much consideration as the widow and children of a man who had poured out his heart's blood for his country. He thought in this respect that they ought to imitate the practice observed in the Prussian Army—namely, that the widow of an officer who was killed in battle should have a pension, in addition to other advantages. He proposed to raise the £8,000,000 for the abolition of the purchase system in Terminable Annuities at 5 per cent for 35 years. That process would cost about £400,000 a-year; but he understood the plan of the Government would cost £500,000 a-year. Therefore, by adopting his proposal a saving of £100,000 a-year to the country would be effected, and the officers would gain £160,000 because they would be able to make profit to that amount by investing their money. A captain who received £1,800 for his commission, if he could remain six years and a-half in the service, would be recouped the entire amount of the over-regulation price. The fault of the present system was, that a poor officer, who could not pay regulation price, was compelled to allow other officers to leap over his head. The great grievance of the Bill was this—that when a major left his regiment the senior captain, if not selected, would be degraded in the opinion of his brother officers, and even of the soldiers of his company. He had a strong feeling for an officer in such a position, who might have served his country with ability and distinction, but might not be up to a certain ideal standard of perfection. In the Indian service, as he understood, the custom was to take the lieutenant-colonel not from the major of the regiment, but from the roster of majors. He would propose that the same system should be adopted with respect to the majority—that there should be a roster of captains, and that the major should be chosen from the roster, the principle of selection being carried out to the fullest extent. If it were understood that the senior captain of the regiment was ineligible as major, his feelings would be spared, and he would not be humiliated either in his own opinion or in that of the officers of his regiment. With regard 96 to the Ballot, if we were under the necessity of adopting it, he would say that while, on the one hand, many men were not qualified to serve their country in the Militia, and the taking of an employer of 1,000 hands from his business might be attended with the very worst consequences, as it might throw great numbers of people out of employment, the French system, on the other hand, was most unfair, because the price of exemption was the same for the rich man and the poor man. The result was that the small fish were caught, while the large fish broke through the net. What he would suggest was that a tenth of the income should be the price of exemption in each case, that a labouring man who might be supposed to earn £40 a-year should pay £4, while the man who had £10,000 a-year should pay £1,000. In that way we should have a system which would be satisfactory to the country and to all parties.
§ LORD GEORGE MANNERS
observed that there were few Members who had had the honour of a seat in the House as long as he had, who had occupied so little of the public time, and partly on that account, and partly because he felt most strongly the vast importance of the question before the House, he ventured to ask the attention of the House for a few moments whilst he endeavoured briefly to state the reasons which would govern his vote. He should endeavour to divest himself of all professional or party feeling whilst considering this subject, although he had served for 25 years on full pay in the Army. If, in the first instance, he dealt with the purchase system, it was not because he thought it a point of the first importance—in that respect he agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) that its importance was of a secondary nature—but because it was more immediately referred to in the Amendment before the House, and occupied the first and largest place in the scheme of the Government. He was not there to advocate the theory of purchase. If we were about for the first time to construct our military system, it would not enter into his mind, or the mind of any man, to devise the system of purchase. But that was not our case. We found ourselves in this position: we had to ask ourselves the question whether we should abolish a system which had existed for 97 200 years—which had "grown with our growth and strengthened with our strength"—under which our great military successes had been achieved, and this country had grown to such a pitch of greatness as to make it—let hon. Gentlemen opposite say what they would—the envy of the world. He did not intend to ask the House to go with him into any details with regard to regulation, or over-regulation. Whatever was the right thing let us do it. The country was rich enough; and even if she should make herself poor to do the right thing, let it be done. But he did not feel that he would be justified in calling on his constituents to bear a heavy burden for the abolition of the purchase system, until they had fuller information from the Government not only as to what would be the cost, immediate and prospective, but also upon what system the higher grades of our Army were for the future to be filled, and upon what plan the intended retirements should be effected; or, as it was put the other night by the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), how a man was to get into the Army, and how he was to get out of it. We had been dimly told that the future appointment of officers to the higher grades in our battalions was to be by some system of selection; and his right hon. and gallant Friend the Surveyor General of the Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks) the other night told the House that he did not see any difficulty in carrying it out. That was reassuring, and it was time the House should be reassured. It was the first reassuring word upon the question that had been heard in that House. But it was not so long since they had been told by the Secretary of State, in introducing the Army Estimates, that the question of selection was one of the most difficult problems with which a man could be confronted, and they knew that His Royal Highness the General Commanding-in-Chief some years ago expressed an opinion that it was altogether impracticable; and though His Royal Highness, prompted by that devotion to the public service which was one of his characteristics, had since seen fit to modify that opinion, it was, he believed, a matter of perfect notoriety that that distinguished Officer looked upon the proposed system with very great disfavour. 98 Now, when it was a question of adopting a system of this sort, it might be useful to see what its results had been where it had been applied. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich, who had filled with distinction the two important offices of First Lord of the Admiralty and Secretary of State for War, warned the House the other night, from his experience at the Admiralty, against adopting any system of selection in the Army. There was a passage in one of the Duke of Wellington's despatches which might have some little bearing on this matter. He would quote it from memory; but he had read the passage so often that he should probably quote it correctly. The passage occurred in a despatch to Lord Bathurst, Secretary of State for War, within seven days after the Battle of Waterloo. The Duke said—I suppose I am commanding, always excepting my old Spanish infantry, the worst troops—the worst equipped and with the worst Staff—that ever were got together.What was the lesson to be drawn from that? It was that the Duke's old Spanish infantry, as he called them, trained and disciplined on the regimental system, had won the Battle of Waterloo. The Duke said that the Army was "the worst equipped." Who could have equipped that Army but officers chosen by selection? And he had the worst Staff. How was that Staff appointed? By selection. Then the Duke went onto say that"—,"evidently a Staff officer of high rank, "knows no more of his duty than a child, and I am obliged to do it for him." How had that officer of high rank been appointed? By selection. Indeed, hon. Gentlemen, in looking back into history, would find innumerable instances in which the right man had not been chosen, and in which disgrace had been warded off only by the tenacity, courage, and discipline of our troops. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Berkshire (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) had referred, in glowing terms, the other night to the great feat of arms at Balaklava, and it struck him that something like that which the French would call a "sensation" had pervaded the ranks of hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Benches opposite, as they thought of the errors which might be committed under our present military system. What had passed through his 99 own mind, however, was how it could have happened that an officer could have been appointed to an important post who could give so fatal an order as one which might have compromised our whole Army; for he was, he thought, justified in saying that the blame did not lay with Lord Raglan. Taking all these things into consideration, the House would no doubt feel that a system of selection ought to be looked upon with great suspicion. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert) had the other night sketched a scheme of selection under which officers would be chosen by a Board of general officers; but how, he would ask, could such a Board examine into the merits of a major stationed at Bermuda or Hong Kong? Falstaff complained that when he sent to a mercer's for 22 yards of satin he sent him back nothing but "security." Well, he (Lord George Manners) complained that the Government, when the country demanded security, had given it nothing but selection; and he would say with Falstaff that "he would as soon put ratsbane in his mouth" as selection. As to the question of retirement, he would merely say that the House was entirely in the dark with respect to the cost of the Government proposal. With regard to entrances into the Army, it was stated that first commissions were to be put up to competition, so that the services of the best brains in the country might be enlisted. He was the last man to underrate the value of brains. But how, he should like to know, could it be expected that the best brains in the country would be secured for the service for a payment of 5s. 3d. a-day—the wages of a journeyman carpenter—out of which the officer would have to pay for his uniform, and contribute largely to the maintenance of the regimental band. Again, how was a really efficient officer to be obtained for the cavalry for 8s. a-day, out of which he would have to furnish himself with two chargers, and be subject to a deduction for their keep? It was quite clear, he thought, the House had a right to much fuller information as to the ultimate cost of the Government proposals before giving to them its assent. He wished, in the next place, to say a few words on the remaining parts of the Bill. He was grievously disappointed at the security which it 100 provided for the country. What, in his opinion, was required was an immediate Reserve; and that he saw no chance of obtaining, for it would be many years before any considerable Reserve would be available under the Government scheme. We did not stand in need, he believed, of any considerable increase in the Army generally; but a considerable increase of the Artillery was demanded, while it was highly expedient that the Militia should be placed on a better footing. For that purpose he would be prepared to have recourse to the Ballot, though not such a Ballot as had been sketched by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, for it would be intolerable to take from a gigantic mercantile institution, for example, a man of 35 years of age who might be its whole moving power. What he should like to see done was to have a fixed number decided on for the Militia, and that every man who arrived at the age of 19 should be liable to be balloted for, and that without any, except the most necessary, exemptions. One of the grounds of exemption might be that a man was an efficient Volunteer, and he saw no good reason why—if the Education Bill of last year was properly utilized—a youth of 19 should not be in a position to take himself out of the operation of the Ballot by being an efficient Volunteer. The Militia, too, in his opinion, ought never to be allowed to assemble in the county towns for training; but, the country being divided into military districts, should be sent away six months from the 1st of October for training in camp. By that means we should not only have the advantage of securing a great number of trained men who would be ready on the shortest notice for the defence of the country, but we should relieve the labour market at a season at which employment was obtained with the greatest difficulty. He had himself boys who were growing up to manhood, and he should wish for them nothing better than that, at that time of life, they should receive six months' training, under good instruction, for it would, he believed, conduce both to their physical and moral advantage.
§ MR. RODEN
complained that the discussion had been too exclusively confined to the question of the abolition of purchase. He was surprised that the Representatives of the Army had not at once accepted the offer of the Govern- 101 ment, seeing that the over-regulation price was to be paid, though he could well understand that the country might raise objections to the recognition of an illegal payment. The offer of the Government was, he considered, a most liberal one. If not closed with now the opportunity would never occur again, but it would happen to the officers, as it had happened to the owners of rotten boroughs, who, having refused Parliament's liberal offer of compensation, ultimately got no compensation at all. He considered that the Bill was a manly and statesmanlike attempt to remedy the inefficiency of our Array, and though £8,000,000 was a large sum to fall on the heavily-burdened ratepayers of the country, they would pay it rather than permit our forces to remain in an unsatisfactory condition. Purchase had been extolled by the noble Lord opposite (Lord George Manners) because it gave the command in the Army to men who were "officers and gentlemen." Well, he agreed that two-thirds of the officers who sprung from wealthy middle-class families—men whose fathers, having made their money in business, bought a commission for their sons for the sake of the social rank it conferred. The young men joined the Army with the intention not to remain in it, or to study it, or to make it the serious business of their lives—but as an agreeable social distinction, from which they retired after a few years, and their place was filled by men of the same stamp. The purchase system, therefore, could scarcely be recommended as calculated to attract the best class of officers, or to spread the true professional feeling through the ranks. He had been amazed to hear the Balaklava Charge adduced as an example of the military proficiency cultivated by the purchase system. The conduct of the troops was, indeed, beyond all praise; they went to certain death in the path of duty; but what could be said for the officer—the General Nobody—who gave the order for four unsupported squadrons of cavalry to take guns in position, which were flanked right and left by batteries? It had been argued that the system of selection was impracticable in the Army. Why it should be was not quite so clear, nor had he heard any sufficient reason given for the singular fact that in no other institution but the English Army was the system 102 of purchase found to be the only one that put the right man in the right place. Let the House imagine, for a moment, the result that would follow on the introduction of purchase in civil and commercial life. How many firms would continue to flourish if they allowed the posts of the greatest responsibility to be monopolized by the men with the heaviest purses? The firm of which he was a partner employed a number of men equal to the tenth part of the British Army; and it would be easy to name half-a-dozen Members around him whose united staff of employés was equal to the whole British Army. It was their object—indeed, the very condition of success—to promote the most competent men, and it was done in the only feasible manner—by judicious selection. Why should that be impossible in the Army which was not only possible, but indispensable, in all the other pursuits of life? The truth was that purchase was a radically bad system, and the honours and distinctions of our Army had been achieved—not because of it, but in spite of it. He highly approved the proposals of the Government for re-organizing the Army, especially those which would bring the Militia into closer connection with the Army, and which took the nomination of officers out of the hands of Lords Lieutenant, but he could not give his assent to their scheme for the Volunteers. It was a most important force, but it had never been properly treated. Seeing that the Reports upon the effective Volunteers had been uniformly so creditable to the force, the present pittance of 30s. or 35s. per man was a grant totally insufficient. Sixpence a-week to keep a military body in anything like order was entirely out of the question. He should advocate, as the representative of a large commercial and manufacturing city (Stoke-upon-Trent), a liberal grant, which, after all, would be a very small sum in comparison to the number of men it would make effective. In his opinion, the Volunteers should either be kept up effectively or let go altogether. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was kind enough to remark favourably on the Artillery Volunteers and their practice at Shoeburyness. They were under martial law for a week; but they practised under great disadvantages. A couple of detachments from his (Mr. Roden's) own corps were there, 103 and for the first time saw an Armstrong gun. Now, the Volunteers ought to be supplied with arms, whatever these might happen to be. He did not know how long it took the flying squadron to fly from Aldershot to Wimbledon, or whether the Commissariat was complete; but it was unreasonable to expect even the London Volunteers to attend on that occasion, when the Government would not pay their fares down. The Volunteers, as the nucleus of our real Preserve, deserved more consideration. When the late War broke out many of the citizen Army who had retired came forward and offered to rejoin, so that, had necessity required, their numbers might have been doubled. He was opposed to the Ballot for the Militia, or, indeed, forced service of any kind. If they wanted men for their Army, they ought to make it worth the while of both officers and men to enter the service. The proportion of guns to men had been talked about, and the proportion of one gun to every 300 men had been mentioned. He, however, could only find one gun for every 1,000 men, and these were miserably insufficient. Even with the additions now proposed we should have less guns than were taken from the French Army at Sedan, and far less than were captured at Paris. When stagnation was said to prevail in the Artillery, he maintained that there were not too many officers in that arm of the service; what was wanted was to put these officers to work and give them guns. The Militia Artillery were without guns, but it would be worth while to pay them for going out six weeks. The Ministerial plan seemed to omit one important point—the training of boys at school. He could not see why boys at school should not be taught the use of firearms as well as Latin and Greek. If our public schools set the example by teaching drill, it would be followed in our parish schools, and our population would be early accustomed, like that of Switzerland, to military drill and the use of the rifle. He, for one, gave the Government great credit for meeting this question in a straightforward manner, and for their courage in proposing so large an outlay. He should support the Bill, and would, gladly vote to abolish the system of purchase in the Army.
LORD CLAUD JOHN HAMILTON
said, that the House had now been engaged 104 for four hours and a-half in the discussion of a measure which had been characterized as statesmanlike and comprehensive by the hon. Gentleman who had preceded him, and who was the first Gentleman who had been able to say a word in favour of the proposal of the Government. It was true the hon. Member for Caithness (Sir Tollemache Sinclair) had said a few words in its favour; but his support was so dubious that it had the effect of driving the whole of Her Majesty's Government out of the House. He was delighted to hear from the speeches of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) and the noble Lord (Viscount Bury) that the nakedness of the measure had been revealed in its proper light. The Bill was a destructive, not a constructive, measure. It pulled down much, but it built up very little. And yet for this Parliament was asked to burden the taxpayers of this country with the enormous sum of £8,000,000. Now, he wished to know whether, after the House voted that sum, the Government measure would place the Army by this time next year, or even in 10 years, in a more effective position to defend the shores of this country or to assume the offensive in a foreign country? The Secretary for War said it was necessary to vote this large sum in order to carry out his future proposals with regard to the organization of the Army; but it had been asked over and over again what were those proposals, and to that question no answer had been given. The fact was, the Government had not made up their minds with respect to the ultimate organization of the Army, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War seemed perplexed with the difficulty of his situation, and could lay no plan on the Table. And yet he asked the House to vote away £8,000,000 absolutely in the dark—to stultify itself by voting this large sum in order to carry out a scheme which did not exist even in his own imagination. Before asking for so large a sum he ought to have placed his scheme before the House, stating what increase he intended to propose in the artillery, in the Commissariat Department, in the Medical Department and, above all, in the Land Transport Corps. Until he had laid a statesmanlike scheme before the House he could not, with any degree of fairness, ask it to come to a decision with 105 regard to the abolition of the system of purchase. He himself had no reason to object to the system; but if the Government could prove to the House the necessity of its abolition with a view to the efficiency of the Army, he, as a patriotic man, would sink his own feelings, and support the Government in any proposal for the organization of the forces. The hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Roden) had stated that it seemed to him an extraordinary thing that the officers of the Army did not accept a proposal which was so advantageous in a pecuniary point of view. Now, although they might have some regard for their pecuniary interests, they had a higher regard for the honour and welfare of the country, and they knew that the abominable system of selection which was to follow would strike at the root of the efficiency of the Army. One argument advanced by the Government against the purchase system was that it prevented officers of small means from rising to the top of their profession so soon as they might do. But this argument was founded upon the assumption that all the officers were poor. The names of Clyde and Havelock had been mentioned as sufficient to condemn the system of purchase. Although the purchase system had sometimes retarded the promotion of a poor officer, in others it had been effectual in his speedy promotion. He would mention one remarkable case. They had all heard of the success of the Red River Expedition, and the gallant officer, Sir G. Wolseley, who commanded it, had received that praise to which he was so justly entitled. Now, how did Sir G. Wolseley obtain his promotion? He entered as an ensign in the 90th Foot in March, 1852. In May, 1853, he became lieutenant; in January, 1855, he became captain; in March, 1858, he became major; in April, 1859, lieutenant-colonel; and in June, 1860, colonel; and in the whole of that promotion, rising with surprising rapidity to almost the head of his profession, he did not spend one farthing. The right hon. and gallant Officer the Surveyor General, in his eagerness to get up a case the other night against the system which had done him so much service, said he had purchased over four lieutenants and four captains; but if he had not done so his career never would, in all probability, have run on as it had 106 done. The country would have been deprived of his services at Corfu and Malta, and that House would probably never have had the benefit of his presence. That certainly was a most unfortunate argument in favour of the abolition of the purchase system. A great deal had been said about the regimental system, and that system was one on which the efficiency of the Army greatly depended, and it was in consequence of the favour with which he regarded that system that he was so adverse to the scheme of the Government. No civilian could really understand the benefits of the regimental system. The kindly social relations extending from officers to men—the almost brotherly love which existed among the officers of a regiment, tending to leaven the whole regiment throughout with that wonderful esprit de corps which had become the admiration of Europe—apply to that state of things the proposed system of selection, and the whole of this mutual confidence between officers would be changed to mutual distrust; and contention, heart-burning, angry rivalries, ill-feeling, would undermine the morale of the regiment, and in time prove destructive to the regimental system itself. It would reduce all the regiments of the Army to one uniform level, degrading their officers into paid machines without esprit de corps, each endeavouring to make the most money he could out of the service. With respect to the system of general promotion, he could imagine nothing more likely to upset the efficiency of the Army. How could they expect a young officer to take the interest he did in his regiment, to gain the friendship of all the officers, to look after the health and happiness of the men, when he knew that by law he would be for ever precluded from commanding that regiment? Whatever might be done, he trusted that for the sake of the welfare of the Army and the country the system of general Army promotion above the rank of captain would never receive the sanction of Parliament. He did not stand up as an out-and-out defender of the officers of the Army, for complaints of inefficiency had sometimes been made on good grounds; but he contended that the purchase system had nothing to do with the efficiency of the Army. The officers always did what was expected of them. The great fault 107 was that no more was expected from them. If more was required of them they would be ready to do it. This is a subject the House ought to consider. How did a young man enter the Army? He got his name on the list of the Commander-in-Chief, and went to Chelsea—for what—to be examined. He might as well be examined for B.A. Not one of the subjects of his examination had any reference to his future profession. He might pass in Latin, do a little Greek, a little more in mathematics, and might, if he was not up to quadratic equations, perhaps be fortunate enough to obtain sufficient marks in one or two propositions of Euclid with which he was familiar. Figures were given to him to draw. In his own case he had two cows given him to draw, the examiner probably imagining that he might be attached to the Commissariat. But then came the worst part of the matter. The young man would retire to the country, and in the course of two or three weeks see his name in the columns of The Times as having passed his examination. He might have to wait for months, and sometimes for a couple of years, before obtaining his commission, and all this delay occurred just at the time when idleness in a young man rendered him most liable to temptation. On receiving his appointment he was allowed two months or so for leave-taking and making preparations. Now, if at the moment of passing his examination he were sent to some college, or were attached to some regiment as a cadet, he would acquire experience in his profession and become subject to habits of discipline, and very often become a less dissipated young man before he joined his regiment. Then with regard to efficiency. When a young officer joined perhaps he was sent to Christchurch or Chichester, or some distant place in the country, where he had to remain for some two years, seeing no military evolutions beyond those which took place in confined barrack-squares, and the only movement of the troops which he saw was when they marched along a road, for if they attempted to enter a field they would be prosecuted by the farmer as trespassers. What was required was practical instruction for officers, and, above all, a considerable increase of the Staff. It would be necessary before we could have a practical Staff in the country that we should 108 largely increase it even during the time of peace. When he reached that point of the Bill which alluded to the Militia, he read it with regret and with extreme disappointment. There was a growing feeling throughout the country that the Militia should form the backbone of our future national forces. What did the Bill propose? That the Militia, which in England was efficient, but in Ireland was not, should be brought up to the highest standard of efficiency. And by what? By a 14 days' extra drill. How the Minister could come down to the House with so monstrous a proposal was astounding. The Irish Militia were to consist of from 30,000 to 40,000 men; but they had not enrolled recruits or been out for training for six years. His own regiment would be called out on the 1st of June. He had in that regiment 200 or 250 old soldiers and about 300 recruits, and the old soldiers for want of drill would be little better than recruits. How were they to be made efficient? By 14 days' extra drill. It would be found that in most cases in England, and in more in Ireland, the Militia regiments had no barracks, not even for the permanent Staff; but until the Militia were housed in barracks of some sort, they would never get the regiments up to a proper state of efficiency. He now came to the most monstrous proposition of the Government—that the different counties should bear the expense of building their own Militia barracks. So that, in addition to all the usual taxes, and in addition to the expense of education, the counties were to be saddled with the burden of erecting barracks for holding the Militia in proportion to the exertions which they made in obtaining men for Her Majesty's Service. But the majority of the counties where there were no barracks were the poorest counties. Not only, then, would they be inflicting a fine on the localities for exerting themselves in raising the men, but they would saddle the poorest counties with the heaviest cost. This was a most undignified proceeding; it was, in a great scheme of national defence, saying to the counties who furnished the men—"You shall also find the barracks for those men." There was a general feeling on both sides of the House in favour of the proposal of the Government with respect to the patronage of Lords Lieu- 109 tenant; but it would, perhaps, be not altogether wise to disconnect them from the county regiments. He thought they should have nothing to do with promotion, but it would be well that they should be allowed to initiate first appointments, and that the Secretary of State should make them on their recommendation; otherwise they would be entirely deprived of interest in Militia regiments. This Bill, he maintained, was a fraud and a sham. It was merely a purchase Bill, altogether burking the question of the national defences of the country, and entirely evading the cost of retirement which would become necessary if the Bill were carried. The Government had no other scheme. This question of the defenceless state of the country had followed as a natural corollary of the bad government of Ireland. The Government came into office with an avowed determination to govern Ireland by concessions, and to maintain the independence and honour of this country by a miserable system of economy. They had passed two measures for Ireland; both had failed in their object, and the Government were obliged to delegate the government of that country to a Committee of the House, which included the Leader of the Opposition. Under this pretence of passing a comprehensive scheme of Army re-organization, the Government asked them to give effect to a measure which was so ridiculously extravagant and so extravagantly ridiculous that he trusted, if it were not thrown out on the second reading, it would be stamped out in Committee.
§ MAJOR ANSON
claimed to express a disinterested opinion on this question. He would confine himself to the only portion of the Bill that contained comprehensive principles, and that was the question of the abolition of purchase in the Army. It so happened that a year or two ago, when the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) took office under the present Government, he (Major Anson) set to work to see whether he could not himself bring forward a measure to abolish purchase in the Army, and after the most careful consideration he came to the conclusion that the only excuse that any hon. Member could have for bringing forward such a measure was in the interest of the purchase officers themselves. He instituted the inquiry for his own satisfaction, because 110 he felt that any system of promotion in the standing Army which was open to constant attacks in the House and in the country at large was in itself a very bad thing, and that it ought, if possible, to be done away with; but the conclusion he arrived at was that the public could not benefit by any change. At the same time, he thought it was possible that a Minister might take it into his head to bring forward a scheme for the abolition of purchase; and he (Major Anson) made up his mind that if such a case occurred while he was in the House he would deal with the measure in a cordial spirit, and, if possible, support it. But there were certain points which such Minister ought to attend to as well as the abolition of purchase. In the first place, he ought to have laid before the House a complete scheme for the re-organization of the Army; in the second place, he ought to have laid before them a complete scheme of retirement in the Army; thirdly, he ought to have dealt with the whole question of honorary colonelcies and the generals' list, setting before the House the exact position in which our general officers are placed; in the fourth place, the whole question of the half-pay and full-pay list, in the first of which especially alterations were required, should have distinctly been laid before the House; fifthly, there would be another point which the Secretary of State should have dealt with—the question of supersession over the English officers by the officers of the Indian Staff corps; while, in the sixth place, the whole question of the pay of the officers of the Army should have been considered, for a poorer class could not be introduced without doubling the pay of the junior ranks; in the seventh place, there were the home Staff appointments and the brevet rank; and lastly, there should have been a general scheme of re-organization, which was entirely omitted from the Government measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had not touched one of these points; he had dealt with the whole question in a most unstatesmanlike manner; and if this Bill were to pass in its present form the combatant portion of our Army would be in the same hopeless state of disorganization as the non-combatant portion of our Army had always been. He proposed, first of all, to take the arguments 111 which had been put forward by the Government as an excuse for the course which they had taken; and the first person to whom he must refer was the Judge Advocate General (Mr. Davison) who introduced a point which it was absolutely necessary to refer to, because the right hon. and learned Member had, unintentionally he was sure, misled the House. He said they had better deal with the question now, because if they did the scheme would cost £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 sterling, the payment of which would be spread over many years, while if the passing of the measure were delayed it would cost double, or it might be, treble that sum. No doubt the Judge Advocate General had very little knowledge on the subject; what he had he had in all probability derived by being coached by some gentleman in his office; and, at all events, he had no grounds for making such a statement. As to the over-regulation price, the right hon. and learned Gentleman asserted that it had been rising. It was no such thing. On the contrary, ever since before the Crimean War the tendency, if there had been any tendency to change at all, had been in the direction of a fall. The right hon. and learned Gentleman fell into a mistake when he said that after the Royal Commission of last year there would be no protection to officers; in future, it would make no difference at all. The regulation and the over-regulation prices had fixed themselves by a long custom in the Army at the exact sum that ensured a promotion at the same time that the money did not fall too heavily on the officers wishing to purchase, and it would be impossible for the sum required for the abolition of purchase to increase in eight or ten years hence. In a great many speeches the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) had used the argument that if it had not been for the opposition of the Duke of Cambridge and the Horse Guards to the proposal of 1857 we should have been able to get rid of purchase for £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 less than it would cost to do so now. That was an extraordinary blunder for anyone to have fallen into, for the actual sum paid out of the pockets of purchase officers in 1857 and in 1870 showed a difference, making certain deductions in respect of the price of cavalry commissions, of only £400,000. It was impossible 112 to criticize the Government scheme for the amalgamation of the Regular Army and of the Reserve forces, because they had not stated what it was to be. If officers were to be taken from the Regular Army and attached to Reserve forces, officers who were paid all the year round would occupy the places of others who had been paid only six weeks in the year. He asked a Question some time ago as to what was to be the scheme of retirement; and the answer that he received was that as officers were to be transferred from the Line to the Militia, it was impossible to announce what the scheme of retirement was to be. Did this mean that when a man was worn out in the Regular Army, perhaps as a captain of 25 years' standing, he was to be drafted into the Militia to train soldiers of the Reserved forces—those men who required to be officered by the most energetic men? The country would not stand such a scheme as that. He came next to a point which had been very largely used by the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks), and that was, that purchase stood in the way of any scheme of Army reform. He had been 12 years in the House, and had watched military affairs carefully, and, though he had not had any official experience, he gave a flat denial to the statement of the Surveyor General. If purchase had stood in the way of any alteration in the organization of the Army, it would have stood in the way of reducing the strength of regiments and the number of officers. Purchase had never stood in the way of that, and if it did not stand in the way of that, it would not stand in the way of anything. No difficulty had been experienced in putting the officers of the Indian service, the Military Train, or the West Indian regiments on half-pay, and therefore it was unfair to assert that the purchase system stood in the way of any necessary reforms in the Army being effected. He then came to the most important argument which had been used by the Government—namely, that money was the only road to advancement in the British Army, that the purchase system was unjust to the non-purchase officers of the Army, and that, by means of longer purses, rich and incompetent men were able to purchase over the heads of poor and intelligent 113 men. Seeing that this argument was supported and illustrated by the hon. and gallant Member for Truro (Captain Vivian) he was afraid he must trouble the House to listen to a few extracts from observations of that hon. and gallant Member, with the view of showing the manner in which this purchase question was argued by many persons. In speaking upon this subject the other night the hon. and gallant Member said that—He desired to see purchase abolished, not because a man with money and the necessary qualifications could not get on, but because no man, whatever might be his qualifications, could get on without money.But when the hon. and gallant Member was out of office—that was to say, before he had attained to the dignity of sitting on the Treasury Bench, his argument was very different. In 1868 the hon. and gallant Member said—That money had a subordinate influence in promotion, at least to the higher ranks, because there were at present three requirements for promotion—seniority, efficiency, and, lastly, money."—[3 Hansard, cxcii. 534.]But by some extraordinary influence—he was at a loss to understand what evil spirit could have been at his elbow—the hon. and gallant Gentleman was induced to illustrate his argument by reference to the career of two great men, Lord Clyde and Sir Henry Havelock, both of whose names had been bandied about during this discussion most freely. The other night the hon. and gallant Gentleman instanced the cases of Lord Clyde and Sir Henry Havelock, who, he stated, had been passed over dozens and dozens of times because they could not purchase their promotion and that, no doubt, in the bloom of their youth they would have been in the highest grades of the service on account of their great military talent. But in 1868 the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the cases of those gallant officers as being two cases in favour of the purchase system. He then said—He believed that Lord Clyde was induced to remain in the military profession by being able to purchase over the heads of three of his seniors."—[Ibid.]And what did he say of Sir Henry Havelock? He said—It was said that Sir Henry Havelock was crushed down by the purchase system; and that if it had not been for the siege of Lucknow he would never have risen in his profession. But Sir Henry Havelock exchanged twice out of his 114 regiments in order to get money under the purchase system, and he would have commanded a regiment long before he did if he had remained in his regiment. It was hard to attribute such things to a purchase system when they were acts done by a man himself in furtherance of his own views and objects in life."—[Ibid. 535.]This was the manner in which people who were now, for some reason or another, anxious to abolish the purchase system dealt with this question.
explained that when he used the language referred to by the hon. and gallant Member, he was moving a Resolution to the effect that purchase in the Army should be abolished except as far as related to the subordinate grades in the Army.
§ MAJOR ANSON
said, he did not think that the force of his remarks was in any way weakened by that circumstance. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had adverted to the careers of these two well-known officers as instances in favour of the purchase system in 1868, and had used them as instances in favour of the abolition of that system in 1871. He was anxious, however, to set the House and the country right with regard to the career of Lord Clyde, which was the most remarkable instance of good fortune that had ever occurred in the British Army. Lord Clyde obtained his commission on the 28th of May, 1808, without purchase; on the 29th of June of the same year he obtained his lieutenancy without purchase; on the 9th of November, 1813, five years afterwards, he obtained his company without purchase; in 1825 he purchased his majority; in 1832 he purchased his lieutenant-colonelcy; and thus, at a time when the promotion in the British Army was slower than it had ever been known, either before or since, Lord Clyde rose to the top of the regimental system and obtained the command of his regiment in 24 years. It was not until he became lieutenant-colonel that his career was stopped—that was to say, not until the system of selection came into operation. When it came to a question of selecting this great man for promotion nobody took any notice of him. While he was upon this subject, he would read an extract from a letter which he held in his hand from one of the greatest friends of Lord Clyde, who should be nameless. It was to this effect—That although Lord Clyde was opposed to the purchase system to a certain extent, still he could 115 never see his way clearly to anything better. In order to illustrate his argument he would refer to certain facts that strongly supported the view he took of this subject. Referring to the Army List of last year he found that the number of the infantry battalions of the Line was 134. Of the 134 colonels commanding those battalions, only 44 had purchased their commissions from captaincies to majorities, 89 of them having obtained their majorities without purchase. Of the same officers, 57 had succeeded to the command of their regiments by purchase, while 75 had obtained their commands without purchase. There were twice as many colonels commanding battalions last year who had never purchased a single step as there were colonels who had purchased all their steps. Another remarkable fact was that out of the 4,900 officers in these 134 battalions there were only 10 who had been purchased over by colonels commanding their respective battalions. So much for the alleged gross injustice of the purchase system. Doubtless cases of hardship did arise under the purchase system; but all he wished to show was that they were the exception, and not the rule. Searching a little further into the Army List he found that in a two-battalion regiment the senior major had seen 16 years' service, and that junior to him were a major of 30, another of 28, another of 24 years' service, a captain of 24, another of 18, another of 25, another of 22, another of 18, another of 17, and another of 22 years' service. That was certainly a case of some hardship; but the most remarkable point of the matter was that the major of 16 years' service had never purchased a single step, while his juniors had purchased theirs. It had been asserted that when the purchase system was abolished poor men would enter the Army; but he denied that such would be the result of the Government scheme. At the present time, when a man had been in the Army 24 years, even without purchasing a single step, he could obtain £7,500 for his commission, which was far more than he would get under this Bill. They little understood the working of the purchase system if they thought that by doing away with it, without largely increasing the pay—aye, without doubling the pay in the lower grades—they would introduce poor men as commissioned officers into the Army. He had dealt 116 with all the arguments brought forward by the Government, and he distinctly said that, so far as he could see, there was nothing in them. He had never yet seen a real argument for the abolition of purchase that could not be answered. That being so, he was led to consider what had induced the Government to take up that proposal; and he could not but think it was envy of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan). The Government had stolen the clothes of that hon. Member; but how had the hon. Gentleman got resolutions passed at all his meetings? Why, he promised them, if they abolished purchase, that after paying all expenses he would save the country about £500,000 a-year. How had the hon. Member for the Border Burghs arrived at such a conclusion? Why, he first dealt with the question of the honorary colonelcies, and said that by doing away with them they would save £160,000 a-year. That might be very true; but then the honorary colonelcies were the only rewards to which those men had to look forward; and, if they were done away with, they must increase the pay of all the lower ranks. At the present moment the officers of our Army served the country for nothing at all. Take the case of a cornet in a cavalry regiment. After he had paid for his horses, his saddlery, his accoutrements, the shoeing and grooming of his horses, his uniform, and every requisite which he was called upon and obliged to pay for, he had not a sixpence left out of his pay. The case was very much the same with the infantry officer. Therefore, if they cut off the cost of the reward held out at the top of the scale, they must put it on again at the bottom; and, instead of saving £160,000 by getting rid of the honorary colonelcies, they would have to spend something like £500,000 in the shape of increased pay and attendances for the lower ranks of officers. In the next place, the hon. Member (Mr. Trevelyan) had dealt with the half-pay list—a matter that bore very closely on the very large subject involved in the question of purchase—and at Birmingham the hon. Gentleman stated that on the half-pay list they spent £365,000 every year, or at the rate of £1,000 per day, an expenditure which the hon. Member attributed to the purchase system, declaring that the half-pay list was used partly to compensate 117 officers who had suffered from purchase, and partly to enable officers to be promoted who could not afford to purchase. That was what the hon. Gentleman had been telling the people of this country to expect if they swept away purchase. But what were the real facts of the case? In the first place, according to last year's Estimates, our half-pay list was not £365,000, but £345,000, though that was not a very important discrepancy; but out of the latter amount the sum that went to purchase officers of the combatant branch of the profession was only £165,000, while £180,000 went to non-combatant officers, or to the Medical, the Commissiarat, and the Control Departments. The proportion of combatant officers of the Army to non-combatant officers was as 7 to 1. If purchase and combatant officers were placed on the half-pay list in the same proportion as non-combatant officers, the number on the half-pay list, instead of being 1,250, would be 5,250; and the expense, instead of being £165,000, would amount to not less than £1,294,000 a-year. That was the best criterion he could give the House of the future expense that would be entailed on the country by abolishing the system of purchase. Again, the hon. Member for the Border Burghs always appealed to the Indian Army, saying there was no half-pay list in the Indian Army, while in the English Army there was. The hon. Gentleman, however, forgot to tell them that while on the full-pay retired list of the English Army, including the honorary colonels, there were only about 400 officers, the full-pay list of Indian officers comprised about 2,000. This was sufficient to show how utterly erroneous the hon. Gentleman's figures were, and these were only a sample of the inaccuracies from first to last in every figure he had dealt with. But, further, what was the origin of the half-pay list which the hon. Member said applied simply and solely for the advantage of the purchase officers of the country? At the close of the Great War at the commencement of this century they had to reduce their Army by something like 150,000 or 200,000 men, he forgot which. What was the result? Why, to place 10,000 officers on the half-pay list, at a cost of £1,000,000 a-year; and all their efforts from that day to this had been employed in trying to 118 reduce that large half-pay list. In 1822 they had 10,000 officers on the half-pay list; in 1823, 8,670; in 1828, 6,650; in 1854, 2,699; in 1861, 1,690; and in 1870, 1,250. Although between 1854 and 1870 no fewer than 512 officers were forced to retire in consequence of reductions and bad health, yet there was a decrease within that period of 1,449 officers on the half-pay list. The whole of our half-pay list was almost entirely due, in the first place, to the reduction of our military forces after those forces had been placed abnormally on a war footing and then reduced to a small standing Army; and, in the second place, to the economical fits of various Administrations, under which officers had been reduced from full to half-pay, in order that the difference might be saved. When an officer went on half-pay after 25 years' service, as he was permitted to do, he received 10s. 6d. a-day. What had the Government done in the last 10 years? They had sold the commissions of 66 lieutenant-colonels commanding regiments who had gone on half-pay; the Government had invariably sold the whole of those commissions, and had thereby received the sum of £270,000—in other words, those 66 officers had paid half the amount of the retirements of the non-purchase corps. Between the years 1861 and 1868 the Government had taken out of the pockets of the officers of the Army who were now serving them, and whom they wished to do out of the regulation value of their commissions under this Bill—[Mr. CARDWELL: No, no!]—a sum of not less than £750,000, which had been applied to the reduction of the half-pay list, to buy out the officers of the Ordnance Corps, to pay the difference in the value of cavalry commissions as altered by the Government some time ago. In fact, the whole expense of reducing the half-pay list, in recurring, after war, to the state in which they were before war, had been borne by the purchase officers of the Army. He thought he had now completely shown the recklessness and the utter inaccuracy of the statements made by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs on that question. The conduct of that hon. Gentleman he regarded as entirely unjustifiable in that respect; but, at the same time, there was, he must admit, one plea that might be urged in his behalf. The hon. Member might 119 say to them, as was once said by another person—"If I talk somewhat wildly on this subject, excuse me; I have it from my father." The hon. Gentleman had apologized to the House for repeating himself; but he was under a mistake. He had not repeated himself; he had only repeated the same ideas and figures which were brought forward in 1857, and which, when investigated by a Committee in 1858 and 1859, were shown to be utterly worthless. He (Major Anson) had lately asked, in reference to the figures which had been recently placed before the House showing the annual expense up to the year 1906, whether those figures were based upon the supposition that when all the lieutenant-colonels and majors had left their present rank by selling out or dying in the service, and their places were taken by the present captains, those captains who were thus promoted would sell out in the same ratio as their predecessors. He had been told that these figures had been based upon that assumption, whereupon he had declared that they were not worth the paper on which they were written, because at present it required a sum or bribe of £7,500 to get a lieutenant-colonel, and a bribe of £5,000 to get a major to leave the service. Was it to be supposed a captain, whose commission was valued at only £2,000, would sell when he became a major or lieutenant-colonel, and would then only receive £2,000 instead of £5,000 or £7,500 as now. Of course not, unless it was for £7,000. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, or whoever had drawn up this Bill, had overreached himself. He had thought to trade on the pockets of the officers of the Army for 30 years; but he would do nothing of the sort. The Government might say—"If the officers do not sell we shall be the gainers, as we shall not have to buy them out;" but, on the other hand, they would have to give them full-pay retirements at a cost of £350,000 or £400,000 a-year. The £8,000,000 supposed to represent the cost of the abolition of purchase did not represent anything like the real cost, and was simply deceptive to the House and to the country. Without meaning anything offensive, he felt bound to say that there never was a Bill which was a greater fraud upon the House than this Bill, and he warned the House, and asked them to consider this question 120 most seriously, and to insist on the possession of fuller information before they dealt with it. If they did away with purchase, what would they lose? and here he must briefly touch upon the regimental system. The question was sometimes asked—"What was the regimental system?" Lord Clyde, when asked by the late Mr. Edward Ellice before the Royal Commission of 1857, whether an English regiment was not the best machine which could possibly be put into the hands of a general officer, replied in very simple language—"I do most unaffectedly say so." But this Bill would do away with that regimental system and adopt the system of selection. The Judge Advocate General (Mr. Davison) had asked, in reference to the system of selection—"Have the officers of the Army no confidence in their superiors?" and as the right hon. and learned Gentleman had only lately come in contact with the office he held, he (Major Anson) was not much surprised at the question; but he might tell him that the officers of the Army had not only no confidence in the War Office administration, but they had not the slightest respect for it. That was the opinion of every professional man who had any knowledge of his profession—no soldier could have a doubt about it. He believed that if this state of things went on, and this country found itself plunged into war, we should meet with much greater disasters than had overwhelmed our friends the French. But it was all very well to talk of selection: what was a man to be selected for? His brilliant qualities? His special knowledge? Suppose that selection were the order of the day, and that by some happy accident the Government had hit upon the right man, with a thorough knowledge of his profession, both theoretically and practically, and had taken him from his own regiment, where he was known, in order to give him the command of another regiment over the heads of three or four other men. The man would go a perfect soldier to command his new regiment; but those officers over whose heads he had passed would have some feeling of antagonism towards him, and they would have the sympathies of all the other officers, of all the non-commissioned officers, and of all the men of the regiment. From some slight want of social tact the new 121 commandant might fail to overcome the natural prejudices raised against him, and his services as commander of the regiment would not only be lost, but the regiment would be disorganized and destroyed. For the sake of one officer 30 others would be destroyed and the regiment ruined. He did not say that that would be a common case; but it might happen, and he declared distinctly that the system of selection was an impossibility. The universal advice of all the men of eminence in the military profession—of all the men who thoroughly understood their business—was—"Do not have selection. It cannot work in any regimental system—it is incompatible with it, and with all the other institutions of the country." It was incompatible with the institutions of the country, and what had these men done that their opinion should be ignored, and that in the face of their opinion that of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs should be adopted. It was simply and absolutely incomprehensible. He should remind the House that all this time they had had a system of selection in the Army which did not interfere with the regimental system. There was selection by brevet rank, by which officers who had been passed over, or who had been unlucky under the regimental system, got brevet rank for distinguished services in the field, and, as he had known himself, a major of a regiment had commanded a brigade of his own regiment of which his own colonel was the commander. If officers were not efficient under the present system the fault was with those who had the control of that Department, and if they were inefficient make them efficient, for there was nothing in the purchase system to prevent their turning out officers just as efficient as were to be found under any system in the world. Before passing to another part of the subject he desired to refer to the quotation of a letter from an officer in favour of the Government scheme by the Surveyor General of the Ordnance. At the time he thought that an unconstitutional proceeding. Had any officer written to the newspapers, criticizing the Government proposal, he would have been, in all probability, cashiered; at all events, he would have been severely reprimanded. And it was a most unfair proceeding on the part of the right hon. 122 Gentleman, to quote the words of an officer on one side of a question when the words of officers on the other side of the question were not permitted to come to the light. He had not the slightest doubt, however, that the gallant officer, whose words were quoted, would be well rewarded for his zeal under the new system of selection. But he could tell the right hon. Gentleman that he had, during the last few weeks, received between 700 and 800 letters from officers in the Army criticizing very freely and fairly the proposal of the Government, as regarded the abolition of purchase, and from them he found that nothing the Government had done did they feel more indignant about than the reading of that letter, and authorizing him to counteract the opinion expressed therein. The price which the Government would pay for the abolition of purchase would be the loss of all control over the officers of the Army. The single characteristic of the British Army, which had been the envy of all foreign Governments, was that power of control which the Government had over the Army and its non-political character. The history of every foreign standing Army was to be found, not only in the annals of its country's wars, but in its political history as well. The British Army, for the last 150 years, at least, had never been found connected with the political history of the country. Another class of men would be created as officers. No greater mistake was ever made by a general officer than when Sir Charles Napier said—"The best officer you can have is a needy gentleman." That might be true for a Minister like Bismarck, or for anyone whose policy was one of aggression; but it was not true as regarded the standing Army of a constitutional country. In a country governed like Great Britain there ought to be such a complete control over officers that they need never be dreaded. In dealing with the manner and mode in which the Government proposed to do away with the purchase system he would not enter into details, because they could better be discussed when the Bill got into Committee, and in reference to which he had given Notice of some Amendments; but he could not sit down without saying, on behalf of the officers, that it was most unjust to them. The only men to whom the Bill was just were those who were going to leave the 123 service, and those men were offered a bribe in the shape of over-regulation price to tempt them out of the service by slow degrees, a plan which would injure all who remained. The only fair and possible way of abolishing purchase was to pay the valuation of the commission at once, for unless that were done there could be no control over the officers. The Government could not interfere with regimental promotion in any form or shape unless they returned the price of the commissions; for a captain who had paid his £1,800 did not expect to remain a captain all his life—as he might do under this Bill—but hoped to rise by the ordinary current of regimental promotion to the object of his ambition, the lieutenant-colonelcy of his regiment. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would carefully consider these matters before the House went into Committee on the Bill, because whatever good he might expect to obtain by the abolition of purchase he would fail to obtain any from it unless he acted justly.
§ MR. CARDWELL
Sir, two subjects have occupied the attention of the House during this long debate, and in a very unequal proportion. One is the sufficiency of the scheme which has been proposed on the part of Her Majesty's Government; the other, and that which has occupied by far the larger part of our deliberation, is the question of purchase. The hon. and gallant Member for Berkshire (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) has not framed his Motion in that frank and bold spirit which we all know to be his characteristic. How has he framed it? He does not meet the Bill upon the second reading by a negative, nor does he bring forward a Motion which amounts to a negative; but he invites us to postpone its consideration to a more convenient season, and to put off the time at which we shall abolish purchase in the Army. My hon. and gallant Friend can scarcely expect us, who desire to abolish purchase, to take counsel as to the convenience of the opportunity from a Gentleman who is almost the only one in this debate who has said the system works admirably, and who advocates its continuance without the smallest exception or diminution of what he says in its praise. We all know that the blow never falls in the right place on a boy who is being flogged; and we know also 124 that the right time will never come for abolishing purchase when the hon. Gentleman does not wish purchase to be abolished at all. I do not think the House will sit at the feet of my noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) upon the subject of economy. They have read, no doubt, a book that has been in all our hands, and in which the views of the noble Lord upon the subject of military organization are fully detailed and explained. They also know the proposals that he made during the Recess, and the lamentations which this book contains over that which never had occurred—the cutting down of the Estimates from £5,000,000 to the paltry increase of £2,000,000. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office explained to the House the other evening that plan of Army organization which, meditating much, the noble Lord selected among many and various schemes as that which, upon the whole, must be absolutely the best, and that scheme, when computed by actuaries, amounted to a scheme for creating a Reserve, of which these were the characteristics—In the first place, you were not to get a single Reserve man for seven years; and, secondly, you were to pay him the smallest sum while he was most efficient, and in the inverse proportion to his efficiency was the payment to rise. Ultimately the Reserve was to cost a sum of more than £12,000,000, being half as much again as the Votes upon which the pay and provisions of the whole Army are now charged, and a larger sum than the net estimated expenditure for the whole Army in the year 1870–1. I think, then, we shall not accept the counsel either of the hon. and gallant Member for Berkshire, as to the time at which we shall make this change, or of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire, as to the best and wisest course we can take for combining efficiency and economy. With regard to the proposal immediately before the House, the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me in Office (Sir John Pakington) accepted with satisfaction our return to the amount of Estimates which he had proposed to the House; but he characterized the present scheme for the abolition of purchase as the most wanton and wasteful scheme that had ever been proposed by any Ministry. No doubt some hon. Members think purchase is a 125 good thing, and, indeed, my right hon. Friend spoke of it so highly that I should have thought he would have been willing to give £8,000,000 to get it, if we had not already got it. Those who approve purchase think, doubtless, that it is a wanton and a wasteful thing to spend so large a sum of money in getting rid of it; but to those who think it is an exceedingly bad thing, and that you can have no sound or real reform of the system until you have abolished it, to spend only half the sum that you spend every year upon the Army Estimates in a period extending over 25 years, it does not appear wanton and wasteful, but rather a wise, judicious, and prudent arrangement. My right hon. Friend congratulated us on having come back pretty nearly to the number of men and the amount of Estimates which he himself had proposed; but let me be permitted to say that these Estimates are attended by a very different result, so far as the object we have in view is concerned, which is to place this country in a state of perfect security and independence. [Laughter.] It is easy to meet my observation with a laugh; but, perhaps, the House will be kind enough to listen to what I have to say. The money which you are now asked to vote will, I trust, not be a permanent expenditure, for much of it is due to the arming of your forts, to the introduction of torpedoes, and to the arrangements about the change of small arms, which are matters of the present time, and must have come on now, whatever had been your arrangements with regard to your general military system. You added at the end of the last Session of Parliament 20,000 men to your Regular Army, and it will every year be in the discretion of the Crown and Parliament to consider how many of those men we shall maintain. But as you increase your Reserves, which is one of your great objects, you will, without impairing your power, be able to diminish your present numbers. Then, what was the policy which we undertook, and upon which we stand? It was a policy of concentration, of combination, and of short service. It was a policy not of employing your money, as it used to be employed, in paying colonial corps—the Canadian Rifles, or the Cape Rifles, or the West Indian Regiments, but of employing all your resources to a legitimate and proper object—the maintenance of troops for the 126 Imperial purposes of this country. What was the result? It was that in 1868 you had 53 battalions in this country, with 87,500 men, and 50,000 men in the Colonies. In 1870 you had 89,000 men for home service in 75 battalions, and the Estimates had been reduced by more than £2,000,000. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: How many were there in the Colonies?] I have not the precise figures; but less than 25,000, I think. Certainly, I am taking credit for the reduction. In the present year the Estimates have been reduced by £2,158,000; the reduction in the first seven Votes—those relating to the pay and provisions of men—being to the extent of £1,418,000. In the coming year you have 108,000 men at home, against 87,500 provided in the former Estimates, or more than 20,000 more, and the Votes for pay and provisions of the men have been reduced by £293,000. My right hon. Friend said he was not satisfied with the Militia, and asked me to explain how the Estimates corresponded with my statement. Well, it would be easy to do that. The Volunteers are 129,000; the permanent Staff 5,000, making 134,000; and the remaining 5,000 are recruits, who do not appear in the list, and who are enlisted under the arrangements I have explained. That gives a total of 139,000 men. On the Reserve forces there is an increase of £524,000, but that raises the Militia from 86,000 to 139,000, being an addition of 53,000. Longer training is provided, and 10,000 are added to the Militia Reserves for the Army. The result is an addition of more than 20,000 to the Regular forces, or, including the Army Reserves and Pensioners, more than 90,000 additional men; and, taking in the Volunteers, there is a total increase of 106,000. At the same time we provide for longer training, camps of instruction and brigading; and, in a matter affecting the Admiralty, I am glad to say there is a saving in the Transport Vote of £221,000. Therefore, I think I can give a clear and satisfactory answer to the question put by my right hon. Friend. I have been sorry to hear it said in the course of this debate that we have not been sufficiently considerate to the Volunteers. Now, Sir, I am one of those who attach the greatest value to the Volunteer force. I have always regarded as a noble spectacle the way in which these men have left 127 their own pursuits and amusements to devote themselves to the service of the country. We have, accordingly, added largely to the grants for training the Volunteers, and have provided camps of instruction, training for the officers, and brigading the Volunteers with the Regular troops. My right hon. Friend desired me to make some statement with regard to the artillery. Now, a great deal has been said about the insufficiency of the artillery; and, in the course of the debate to-night, we have been told that we have only altered the artillery by removing garrison gunners and turning them into field gunners. This is an entire mistake. Out of the 20,000 men voted at the end of last Session, we have added 5,254 to the artillery forces. The noble Lord (Lord Elcho), in the course of his criticism the other night, referred to the Prussian proportion of artillery to men, and said I had comforted the House with erroneous information upon the proportion of the artillery to the men. Now, the statement I made was, that 180 guns was the proportion for 60,000 men; and that statement is precisely accurate. The Prussian proportion is less than that; but, according to Colonel Hamley's Operations of War, 180 guns are the proper proportion for 60,000 men. Lord Hardinge and Sir Hew Ross, after the Crimean War, recommended that the artillery should consist of 148 guns, to be expanded in case of war to 222. Our artillery now is to consist of 336 guns, to be expanded to 408; and that, according to the Prussian proportion, is sufficient for an Army of 150,000 men. Having thus raised the Militia to this large force, and having used to the best of my power the Reserves which have been provided for us, the next thing to be considered was—what is the real and true Reserve upon which we ought to rely for the safety and defence of the country? And universal opinion now, I believe, admits that this is to be found in the system of short service. We contested the point a good deal last Session. I had not, in the battle then waged here, the advantage of the support of my noble Friend; and almost every soldier in the House was against the establishment of short service. We did establish that system; but, in the course of the contest, I was almost compelled to promise that, if the Bill passed, I would only apply it in the 128 first instance to the infantry, and would only apply it to the extent of six years and six. I have inserted the clauses again in the present Bill, because I thought that, after the late campaign, there could be no doubt that everybody would admit that—for which I have always contended since I have had the honour of saying anything upon military subjects—that upon military grounds, upon economical grounds, and, above all, upon moral and social grounds, short service lies at the root of Army reform. We carried our measure last Session, and we have begun to act upon it. I hope the House will pass the clauses in this Bill which propose to extend it, in order that we may be subject to no misunderstanding and no limitations, and may carry it forward until we make it an efficient source of our Imperial strength and safety. I have had a calculation made upon this basis. Of course you must always, in a voluntary system, make your first consideration the question whether men will be willing to join your standards. On that assumption I must speak, because we are dealing entirely with a voluntary enlistment. It has been said that we have not been very successful in recruiting for short service. I do not boast of our success in it; but I do not think you ought to be disheartened about it. You will recollect it was not applied to the whole 20,000 men, but only to those who were to go into the infantry, and it was only applied also upon the scale of six years and six. Moreover, those who conducted the recruiting must naturally be supposed, like all other men, to be devoted to the old system they were familiar with, and were much more likely to persuade men coming to recruit to go upon the old system rather than the new. We had, therefore, every discouragement in our way. But the recruiting for short service amounted at last to one-fifth of the whole number who were recruited for the infantry; and in Scotland, where people have the credit of considering what is to their advantage in new proposals affecting them, the success of the system was the greatest. I should state that the numbers of the Army, according to the new scale, being nearly full, instructions have been given at the Horse Guards, first, to offer to all well-conducted men, within proper limits, who desire to avail themselves of it, the op- 129 portunity of leaving the Army and going into the Reserve; and, secondly, to favour, to the utmost of their power, short-service rather than long-service recruiting. I have had a calculation made of what will be the result. If the recruits are willing to come, and if we take one-fourth of the Army to be for long service, including non-commissioned officers, and suppose that we recruit in the artillery, cavalry, and engineers for eight years and four—that is, eight year with the colours and four in the Reserves; in the infantry for India and the Colonies for six years and six; and in the infantry at home for three years and nine, the result will be that, if we get 32,000 recruits on the present strength of the Army, it will give us a first Army Reserve of 178,000 strong, and will besides ultimately place among the people at large more than 400,000 trained men under 51 years of age not receiving either pay or pension; and this will be accomplished at a cost for the Reserve of £1,266,000. The number of pensioners under 51 years of age will be 13,493, at a cost of £882,000. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: In what time will this result be attained?] It will take 12 years to accomplish this. But, observe, it will not take 12 years to begin it. [A laugh.] The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) may laugh; but he must remember that it would take seven years to begin his scheme, and by that time the plan now before the House would produce 81,811 men. We have already raised to the best of our power the Reserves which were enacted by our predecessors, and have offered the Reserve to the well-conducted men in the Army. Let anybody consider, then, what an enormous addition to the real strength of the country this system of Reserves, founded upon short service may prove; and what an addition, also, will be made to the moral strength of the country when you break down the barrier between the standing Army and the general population, by giving young men an opportunity of serving in the Army, and then, after having taught them habits of discipline and the practice of a trade, allowing them to return to the society from which they came, but ready to become soldiers again when they are wanted. In time of peace the Army will feed the Reserve, and in time of war the Reserve will feed the Army. Well, Sir, having got numerous 130 cadres at home; having ou rexisting Reserves turned to the best account; having begun our new short-service system; having raised the Militia to 139,000 men; having localized the regiments of the Line in order to connect them by local influence with the members of the auxiliary forces; having put the whole under general officers commanding in the various districts; and having given them a Staff able adequately to perform the duty of command; and having given a special Staff for the Royal Artillery, in order that the technical instruction of the Artillery, Militia, and Volunteers may be carried to the highest possible point, the next question which arises is—"How are we to organize the large forces which will thus be placed at our disposal?" And here we must remember that we have to deal not with a compulsory, but with a voluntary system. Unlike some foreign countries, we do not possess absolute and coercive power. We can only adapt the voluntary institutions which we find, combine them, and turn them to the best account. And now I come to a remark which I wish to make in regard to a great number of speeches that I have heard in the course of this debate. One hon. Gentleman gets up and says—"Such a thing is a point of the greatest importance, and I do not find it within the four corners of the Bill;" and he is followed by other hon. Gentlemen, who say that something else is of the greatest importance, although no notice is taken of it in the Bill. Such critics have never asked themselves—"What is the object of a Bill?" Organization is not a matter for a Bill. Organization is a matter for the action of the Executive Government. It is carried on by Royal Warrant, by regulations sanctioned by the Sovereign, and by various acts of the Executive Government, approved and sanctioned by Parliament when submitted to it in the Estimates. What, then, is the object of a Bill? It is to confer power and to remove obstructions. If there are powers which we require in order to enable us to enter upon the task of organization, it is for us to ask for them, and it is for you to determine whether you will confer them or not. If there are arrangements or provisions which impede the course of organization and render it difficult or impossible, it is for us to bring those obstructions under 131 your notice, and ask you to remove them; and it is for you to determine whether the request is reasonable, and whether you will comply with it. Now, is there anything in which the Bill fails, regarded from that point of view? One of my critics, and, I think, the most severe of them, the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), said—"We want an Army, small indeed, but capable of being rapidly expanded; a larger Militia Reserve; other Reserves; older recruits; the Volunteers, the Militia, and the Regulars brigaded together; no competition in recruiting between the Regulars and the Militia; increased training for Militia recruits; more officers for the Militia; brigading of Volunteers; better training of Volunteer officers; a hold on the Volunteers; and an increase of the Artillery." Now, I venture to say there is no one of those wants which have been overlooked in the scheme and provisions of the Government. But they are not all in the Bill. Those only are in the Bill which require legislation. Those which are matters of Executive action we shall, with your sanction and authority, proceed to execute, without troubling you with the details of them, within the four corners of the Bill. There is one other point for which we have provided, and which the noble Lord does not approve—namely, as to what is to be done on the occurrence of an emergency. To my great surprise, my noble Friend, who has told us that the keystone of any system of efficient defence is pensions and the Ballot—which I venture to paraphrase by saying injustice and extravagance—objects to the modest provision made in the Bill for enabling the Ballot to be resorted to on occasions of emergency. All I can say is that the authority of Sir James Graham's Committee—the most important Committee this House ever appointed to inquire into this subject—has with me greater authority than the opinion of my noble Friend. They said—If volunteering failed, the danger to the State would be imminent; but the existing legal machinery for bringing Ballot into operation is cumbrous in the extreme; and if in peace no provision be made for such an extremity, much precious time would be lost at the critical juncture, and the danger might be great.It is to carry out that recommendation that these provisions are contained in the Bill. Now, as to this organization 132 upon which you are invited to enter—what is it to be? Our forces are small; they are very various in their character; they are all voluntary; and you have to deal with them as with men whose inclinations you must consult. Organization must, therefore, be a matter in some degree tentative. It must be a matter of growth and of experience. I am challenged, and I accept the challenge, to combine in the closest possible manner the Regular Army with the Militia and the rest of the Reserve forces. How is this to be accomplished? You cannot touch a battalion of the Line without coming into contact with the subject of purchase; and you cannot touch a battalion of Militia without coming into contact with the question of the control exercised by the Lords Lieutenant of the counties. Therefore it is that both these subjects are contained in the Bill. I have been told, I think, by the last speaker, that there is no difficulty in dealing with the Army, notwithstanding the system of purchase; and I am surprised that my right hon. Friend who preceded me in office, and who knows the difficulty of dealing with questions of this kind, should be so strong an advocate for the continuation of purchase. You can put on half-pay, he says, the lieutenant colonel of an Indian regiment. You can do it, and it has been done; but what is the consequence? The loss of a large sum of money to an unoffending individual, continual complaints, a constant sense of injury—and, on the part of those who administer the system, a feeling which is not very agreeable, nor very easy to describe. It has happened to me already, more than once, to have to take measures, necessary on public grounds, but entailing pecuniary loss to officers concerned; and all I can say is, that there is no stronger argument against the system. You cannot touch any battalion in the Regular service, nor the position of any officer, by a change in your regulations, without doing one of two things. If you make any increase you add to the burden of the purchase system, which the public, if it ever puts an end to the purchase system, will have to bear; while, if you make a reduction, you inflict an undeserved and serious pecuniary injury on the officers. This applies to every part and every branch of the system; and you cannot make any 133 change, short of the abolition of the system, without coming into contact with one or other of those two objections. I appeal to the House, if that is not a very great impediment to carrying into effect such an organization clause? Then that brings us at once to the question of how we are to organize. There are two or three points which here call for notice. I have been challenged to give individual instances. It is very difficult to give such instances, because the changes must necessarily be the result of experience—but let me ask one or two questions. Do you wish to increase the number of double battalions with a view to the Indian branch of the Army, and to short terms of service—a point which I regard as possessing the greatest possible importance? If you do so wish, you will be met immediately by difficulties arising from the purchase question. When the short terms of service to which I have alluded has furnished the country with a great Reserve, according to the Prussian system, do you wish so to alter the constitution of the Reserve battalions as to bring a vast number of men into those battalions; because, if you do, you will be met again at once by the question of purchase? Do you wish to unite closely the Militia and the Regular forces? If you do, one of the first things you will have to do will be to give subaltern officers of the Militia commissions in the Line without purchase, and how can this be done if there remain any conditions in reference to the purchase system? In addition to this, let me state that we have now an insufficient number of non-purchase commissions to meet even the requirements of the Royal Commission on Military Education. I am rejoiced to know that the mention of the plan to give commissions without purchase to Militia subalterns has already produced beneficial results by giving us a goodly number of candidates for the posts of subalterns in the Militia, which we wanted more than anything else in regard to that particular branch of the service. If I rightly understood what fell from my right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) the other night, he said he had been informed that two Lords Lieutenant of counties had informed him that they had already received applications from 20 to 30 candidates for subaltern positions in the Militia. Could anything be a more gratifying proof of its 134 success than that, when our statement has scarcely been a month out, it should have produced so salutary and decided an effect? [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON here made a remark, which was inaudible in the Gallery.] I do not think so at all. I think the Lords Lieutenant of counties may be perfectly well trusted to recommend any young men for commissions in Militia regiments, where, having been proved, and being recommended by the colonel of the Staff, who is brigadier for efficient service in the Militia, they may be passed on, receiving commissions in the Line. If anything could be a test sufficient to secure merit, as distinguished from favour and patronage, this strikes me as being the plan. My right hon. Friend has asked how the cadets are to be appointed, to which I answer by asking, how can the Commander-in-Chief have more difficulty in appointing a cadet, who will not receive his commission until he has been prepared and approved in a regiment, than he has now when there is no preparation at all required? The proposition is to my mind so self-evident that it requires no further argument. That brings me to the consideration of the purchase question, and what is the description given of the Government proposal with regard to that? My right hon. Friend described it as "a mischievous crotchet, a costly project, and a sop to democracy," and added that "there is no argument at all in its favour." That, of course, is a matter of opinion: one might say, perhaps, that there is no argument on the other side; but the cardinal question is, will the abolition of purchase add to the professional training of the officers of the Army? ["No, no!"] Very well, then, let us discuss that question. So far from thinking that there is no argument in favour of the abolition of purchase, to me it appears that to mention purchase is to condemn it. It is not known in any other country; it would not be tolerated in any other service; and it is not admitted in the Artillery, the Engineers, the Marines, or the Navy. If my right hon. Friend, who had in his hand the Report of the Duke of Somerset's Commission, had looked over its pages, he would have found scattered through them these descriptions of the system of purchase in the Army—Vicious in principle, repugnant to the public sentiments of the present day, equally inconsistent 135 with the honour of the military profession and the policy of the British Empire, and irreconcilable with justice.Then, having recommended the abolition of purchase in its cardinal and most important point—namely, the lieutenant colonelcies of regiments, the Report concludes by expressing the hope of the Commissioners that the partial application of the change which they have recommended will so far reconcile the British Army to the adoption of the system that it may not be necessary to continue purchase at all. Now, Sir, we have waited 14 years, and during the whole of that time we have made no advance towards the abolition of purchase. A noble Friend the other night did me the honour to refer to me as having voted with my right hon. Friend Mr. Sidney Herbert against a Motion for the immediate abolition of purchase which was made in this House in the year 1860. I have not had time to refer to the records; but I have no doubt as to the truth of my noble Friend's statement. I was one of a Cabinet who adopted the recommendation of the Royal Commission, and I wish it had been carried into effect in 1860, for if it had I have no doubt that by this time the change which the Commission anticipated would have been made, and the officers would have been reconciled to selection in place of purchase. But, having waited 14 years, I think we have waited long enough—that we should not wait another 14 years or decide upon a partial amendment of the system, but take the present opportunity of saying that we will abolish the system at once and for ever. The first question, as I have stated, is whether the abolition of purchase will increase the professional efficiency of the service? Before entering upon a reply to that question let me say that I cordially concur, as do all hon. Members who hear me speak, in the praise which has been given to our present officers in the course of the present debate. They have done everything that has ever been demanded of them, and have shown heroism and gallantry which have never been surpassed, in any service; but we are living in times which are very different indeed from those days gone by, and if there is one lesson which we have learned from the history of the late campaign it is this—that the secret of Prussian success has been more owing to the professional education of the officers 136 than to any other cause to which it can be ascribed. Neither gallantry nor heroism will avail much without professional training in these days, when arms of precision shoot down soldiers in war at immense distances. One hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke of the charge at Balaklava as an exploit which will be ever remembered as one of the brightest pages of British gallantry and courage; but let me tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman and the House that in these days of scientific weapons, and professional training, we cannot afford to have many repetitions of the Balaklava Charge. Sir Charles Trevelyan spoke with force and truth when he said, in his evidence before the Royal Commission, that a professional Army and a purchase Army were antagonistic ideas, and that if we want young men to enter the Army for the purpose of pursuing it as a profession, and carrying skill and training to their highest point, we must abolish purchase. What said the Commission in reference to this? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke from this Bench (Sir Henry Storks) was entitled, as a distinguished soldier, to speak on this subject of his own knowledge. But that is not the case with a civilian like myself, and I will therefore quote the words contained in the Report of the Commission. They said—Under such regulations there is little inducement for officers to acquire proficiency in the science of war, or to study the military progress of other nations. An officer who performs his routine duties, and who keeps a sum of money available to purchase his promotion as opportunities offer, may look forward with confidence to the attainment of high military rank, while the subaltern who has not the means to buy advancement may serve during all the best years of his life in distant stations and in deadly climates, yet he must be prepared to see his juniors pass over him, for he will find that knowledge of military science and attention to regimental duties do not avail him unless he is able to buy the rank to which his qualifications entitle him.That is the language of the Royal Commission, and I will not attempt by any words of my own to add force to the words I have quoted. My noble Friend opposite (Lord Elcho) said he wanted for the whole of the Army officers such as were to be found in the Artillery and Engineers; but what, I would ask, have either of those distinguished branches of the service to do with purchase? What the Government wants to secure is that there should be an open career for young 137 men, and that any parent may send his son into the Army with the clear prospect that if he deserves it he will rise in rank, entirely apart from any reference to the pecuniary means of his parent. We have been told by some hon. Members that the result of the abolition of purchase would cause a different class of men to enter the Army. That was not the language of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Shropshire (Major General Sir Percy Herbert) who frankly expressed his opinion that the effect of the Bill, if passed, would not be to make any change in the general character and status of the men who would enter the Army as officers. My impression is that if we pass this Bill into a law, its effect will be to attract to the Army the aristocracy of merit and professional talent, which is after all the true aristocracy. It is a libel upon the old aristocracy of this country to say that they are ever behindhand in any race which is run in an open arena, and in which ability and industry are the only qualities which can insure success. We wish to get rid of that habitual and open violation of the law which has prevailed from the time of Queen Anne to the present moment. It has been said to-night that we ought to be content with abolishing regulation prices, and a distinguished soldier has said that if we abolished regulation prices, and permitted over-regulation prices to continue, all the evils of the present system would be got rid of. That was not the language of Sir Henry Hardinge. That was not the language of Lord Palmerston when the certificate was abolished. Sir Henry Hardinge said—It was introduced to remedy a great evil—namely, the constant traffic in commissions, by which the officers of the Army had been seriously injured.And Lord Palmerston said—If commissions were allowed to be sold it was obviously necessary to limit the price that was to be paid for them; for if not, and if every officer were permitted to bid according to his means and to his desire for promotion, abuses would take place beyond all calculation.Well, I am afraid that has been the result of allowing this system to go on, and it would be one of the great advantages that we should obtain by this change that the law would be observed in the Army as well as in all other professions in the kingdom, and that we 138 should have no longer an open and habitual violation of it. Now, who will be injured when the change is made? Will the non-purchase officers be injured? Whenever this question is brought forward, I observe that some of the advocates of purchase find out that the very people whom we think we are going to benefit are the people who will be most injured by a change. Lord Clyde has been frequently mentioned in this debate; and it has been said that he owed his own advancement to the purchase system. I think, then, it will be conceded to me that Lord Clyde was, at least, a very dispassionate witness as to the effect of the purchase system. He was not prejudiced against it. I have lying before me two cases which Lord Clyde brought before the Royal Commission. The first case, he said, had been brought to his notice by General Pennefather. It was that of an officer in the 55th Regiment—This officer," said Lord Clyde, "had been promoted for service in the field, and he had obtained his brevet majority. He led the assault at Ching Kiang-foo, and though he became brevet lieutenant colonel, and was in command of the 55th Regiment in the field in the presence of the enemy, a young captain who had just come out purchased over his head and took the command of the regiment, and he was obliged to descend to the command of a company. This poor fellow was killed leading his company against the Redan, his name was Lieutenant Colonel Cuddy. The young officer was very young; and, in this case, a man of experience, who was fitted for his position for that particular occasion, and had proved himself a bold and intrepid soldier, was superseded in his command by one who, I dare say, was equally so, but who did not possess his experience.Well, then, Lord Clyde was asked this question—You purchased to avoid being passed over by somebody else; if you had not purchased, you would have been passed over?Lord Clyde's answer was—Most assuredly. The officer next below me was a man whom I would bow to as possessing every quality that a man ought to possess—possessing abilities as high as any man I have ever known. He could not purchase. It was in 1825 that I bought my majority, and in 1847 I passed through Cawnpore and found him just promoted to be a major in that regiment, having in the meantime been to Australia. Finally, he left the service; he remained in the service till he got this majority; he did sell out—he had some little income to maintain himself; but all hope was gone, and all that interest which it is so necessary for a man to take in his profession.These are two out of many cases. I have quoted them because they were quoted 139 by Lord Clyde, and it has been stated to-night that Lord Clyde, at least, was not one who had any right to be prejudiced against the purchase system. Well, then, let me ask, if this is the consequence of the purchase system to non-purchase officers, what is it to purchase officers? We have been told to-night that it was an argument in favour of the system that frequently an officer who has paid nothing for his commission receives a large sum of money on selling out—that is to say, he puts somebody else's money into his pocket. ["No, no!"] It appears to me to be a system which contrives to put other people's money into people's pockets. I have nothing to say in favour of the reserve fund. I have always treated it as affected with a trust for those who paid it. But my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berkshire told us the other night that the very best officers forfeit their money because they want to get on and become general officers and obtain higher promotion. What an argument in favour of the system, if it is meant that the best officer forfeits his money to somebody else, who, I presume, is not the best officer! Upon that point an hon. and gallant Friend of mine, who spoke on the last night of the debate, rated so severely my right hon. Friend who sits beside me (Sir Henry Storks) for having read a letter from a very distinguished officer at Aldershot that I do not know whether I should be justified in what I am going to say next; but as my hon. and gallant Friend quoted a letter written by Sir John Burgoyne, which appeared in The Times, may I take the liberty of referring to Sir William Mansfield, and to a letter of Sir Sydney Cotton which appeared in The Times this morning? I suppose many hon. and gallant Gentlemen have read it; and I hope the House will weigh it well. Well, then, what is the present system to purchase officers? It is a system of lottery. It is only to be compared with those evil days when the Government raised money by lottery. We are now exposed to a system of uncertainty, and everyone is invited to speculate upon obtaining some advantage, either of promotion or of sale, at the expense of others. What is the system to the deserving non-commissioned officer? The Royal Commission reported that, under the existing system, there was very doubtful advantage to him 140 in being promoted. A non-commissioned officer has volunteered to write to me. I do not know whether I have his letter before me; but the substance of it is this—I hope you will proceed with the Bill for the abolition of purchase; it is madness for a non-commissioned officer to accept a commission in the Line, and the consequence is that he is purchased over by a lad just fresh from school with money in his hands. Is it for the advantage of parents who wish to bring up their children for the Army that they should purchase commissions for them? A distinguished officer in the Army said to me—"I have four boys, and when you have carried your Bill I shall make them all go into the Army; but as things are now, only one of them can go into the Army." I am told that the Bill is defective in some of its arrangements. My hon. Friend the Member for Bewdley (Major Anson) says the calculations of the actuaries cannot be relied upon, because the inducement to retire will gradually diminish, and the process will not be so rapid as that which is assumed in the calculation. My answer is plain. The calculation was intended to establish the maximum, and in proportion as the retirement is less rapid, the ultimate cost will be diminished. Then we are told that there is an injustice in the limit which has been imposed by the Bill on the number of officers who may sell within the year. This may be considered in Committee. The intention of the Bill is, and the result will be, as far as lies in my power, that no officer shall be a sufferer by this Bill. I wish that the arrangement should be a full and complete indemnity, and nothing more. Then, as to the consequences that are to result from the principle of selection. This is the only country in which there is no selection. An hon. Friend near me referred to the example of the Austrian Army, and said the system of selection there had not been productive of good effects, as was shown when the Army of Austria came into collision with that of Prussia; selection also exists in the Army of Prussia. [An hon. MEMBER: Not as a rule.] Such is the fact, though I do not wish to trouble the House at unnecessary length on the subject. In the case of the Militia the selection is in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant; selection is also the rule in the 141 case of non-commissioned officers. What does Lord Clyde say on the subject of selection? This question was put to him—If, instead of the system of promotion by purchase, a system of promotion by selection were adopted, it would be equally the case that many excellent officers would be passed over?—No doubt; but there is this difference in that which caused them to be passed over—it is a very different principle. The one is by the possession of a little money, whereas, by selection, there may be unfairness in it sometimes; but one has a right to expect that men in a high station, who would select the officers, would select proper and fitting men for the service.Then he is asked—Do you think that the feelings of an officer would be more wounded by another officer of less merit but of greater influence being put over his head, than if he passed over his head by purchase?—It is to be presumed that the officer so selected is one of merit. Of course, when you are passed over at any time, human nature is such that men may not like it; but still I think that the principle of selection would give less pain and less cause for regret and displeasure on the part of the individual—to the man who could not purchase—than finding his junior stepping over his head by possessing a little more money than he had.Now, I have read the sentiments of Lord Clyde, expressed by himself, against those contained in the letter produced by the hon. Gentleman, addressed by Lord Clyde to a private friend. But what does the Commission say as to the moral to be drawn for the benefit of the public by the principle of selection. They say, if you do not select your officers from the lower ranks, how will you select them if you want them for higher command, and they close by saying that this country commences a war under a disadvantage in respect to foreign States, where officers of higher rank are subject to the principle of selection. Thus, whether we are guided by the example of other countries—whether you regard the practice of civil occupations or pursuits—whether you take the authority of the highest officers in foreign States, or the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners, you are equally brought to the conclusion that not money, not seniority, but selection on the ground of merit is the proper way in which promotion should be carried out. But then we are told that it will break down the regimental system, and my noble friend the Member for Haddingtonshire says that purchase is the life-blood of our regimental system. Now, how can purchase be the life-blood of our regimental 142 system? Is there no regimental system; no esprit de corps in the non-purchase regiments? Is there none in the Artillery and Engineers? Why, the noble Lord stated a few minutes before that what we wanted was officers like those of the Artillery and Engineers. Where, then, is their life-blood to be found? They must be nothing more than defunct or galvanized bodies. Is there no esprit de corps; no life-blood in the regiments of Prussia? Will my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) say there is not? There are many non-purchase regiments in the Army—is there no regimental system among them? Is there no life-blood, no esprit de corps among the Marines, none in the Navy? We had a description the other night by an hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite of what the regimental system is. He said—"We are all members of one family; we all spend our lives together; we all desire to be commanders not of any regiment but of our own." Well, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Truro (Captain Vivian) pulled that delusion to pieces by showing how small a proportion of regiments are commanded by men who have been officers in them. I believe my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Shropshire (Major General Sir Percy Herbert) himself commanded a regiment in which he had not spent the earlier part of his life, and I never heard that that regiment had been ruined or suffered by his command. What did the Royal Commission recommend? The one thing which they did recommend was that the command of regiments should no longer be the subject of purchase. They were rather cold and impartial in their other recommendations; but this at least they stated clearly—Here the evil consequences of the purchase system are direct and manifest, and when it is remembered how far the issue of a battle may depend upon the efficiency and skilful handling of every regiment engaged, it is difficult to overestimate the possible mischief resulting from the system.Now, that is the very head and front of the regimental system, and that is the opinion of the Royal Commissioners respecting it. If you have an unworthy man who has risen by purchase to the command of a regiment, it may happen that the lives of the men may be sacrificed through the incompetency of the commander, and that the loss of a battle 143 may be hazarded. But it is not intended under the new arrangements in any way to interfere with the regimental system. On the contrary, it is recommended to exercise the principle of selection, from the highest grades to the lowest, with a due regard to regimental considerations. Let me ask you what does purchase sometimes do for this regimental system? According to my hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary, it gives a commanding officer, who barters the discipline of his regiment for flowers presented to his wife. What are exchanges? What is their bearing on the regimental system? Lord Clyde, in an extract I have before me, describes what occurred to him when he went out to China. He said, in reply to a question by the Chairman of the Commission—I had one of the nicest corps of officers when I was ordered out to China; all those men embarked with their regiment, but as soon as that service was over, and they had to remain in a climate like that of China, most of them immediately exchanged, and I lost all my young friends whom I so much loved.That is what the purchase system does for the regimental system. Then we are charged with not having provided a plan of retirement. To that I will give the best answer that, to my mind, can now be given. No doubt it would be very agreeable to me if I could come down with a plan of retirement ready cut and dry, and tell you what it is to be. Nothing is wanted to induce me to do so, except the information which would render it justifiable for me to lay that statement before you. But it is a matter of opinion upon which no people can agree. Some think, as I have already said, that if you abolish purchase, as many young men will enter the Army intending to remain only a short time and then to leave it as they do now. I am not of that opinion. I think the purchase system does to that extent stimulate retirement. But then, on the other hand, we have an intention of employing Army officers in command of the auxiliary forces. I do not know to what extent we shall be able to carry that intention out; but to whatever extent we do it, to that extent it will facilitate promotion. No man can say with certainty what will be the result; but this, at any rate, we can say—that employment in the Reserve forces, and the application of the five years' rule to the higher commands, 144 will both tend to stimulate promotion; and of this, at least, officers may be certain, that a reasonable rapidity of promotion, such as is necessary for the benefit of the service, is a vital consideration, and must be always provided by the Crown and by Parliament. And when I say a reasonable rapidity, I mean some such rapidity as exists under the present system. On the other hand, if we cannot tell what the scheme of retirement will be, neither can we say what the sum will be that will be obtainable out of our present resources to meet it. The pay of the colonels and of the general officers, and the half-pay amount to more than £500,000 a-year, and all that will have to pass under review when the time for the consideration of these points arrives. The pension list amounts now to £1,300,000 a-year. Under the present law it is rapidly increasing. I am not one of those who think this pension list one of the ornaments of our service. On the contrary, it is one of the recommendations—though not the greatest—of the system of short service—that it will materially diminish the pension list. I shall be very much surprised—though I may not live long enough to see it—if the result of the changes is, on the whole, to increase our expenditure. On the contrary, I believe that it will lead to a great decrease; but I am not able to tell you the figures. [Mr. OSBORNE: Hear!] My hon. Friend is great at figures of rhetoric; but the figures I speak of are figures of arithmetic. I should be glad to give them to the House if I could; but I would be very unwilling to bring forward anything not founded on a substantial basis. I am certainly in the expectation that the expenditure in the non-effective list will be diminished in consequence of these proposals. Moreover, I not only believe that so large a number of officers will not enter the Army for the purpose of merely spending a few years in it, but I sincerely and earnestly hope that that will be the result; because I am convinced that, with our modern arms of precision, and with the high point to which skill is now carried in every branch of the military profession, the only safety of this country lies in the highest possible degree of professional skill in our officers. I say, also, that if you are to rely in a greater degree on our auxiliary forces and on our Reserves, that are 145 trained for a time, and for a time only, in the ranks, and the more highly you carry these artificial systems, both of preparing the men and the material of war, the more necessary it is that the officers who are to manage these artificial and complicated systems should have attained the highest degree of professional fitness. If, then, these changes should lead to there being a less natural flow of promotion through the Army, and consequently to a greater necessity for providing increased retirement, I believe it will prove, upon the whole, for your pecuniary advantage, and that you will gain more than you will lose. There is one more argument which I wish to address to the House before I sit down. My noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire quoted, with great approbation the other evening, the opinion of Sir Lintorn Simmons, who is at the head of the great institution through which young men enter the scientific corps. Now, Sir Lintorn Simmons is an old friend of mine, and he has sent me some observations about our present retirement system. He says—By a Return, page 112, Appendix H H, of the Report of Captain Vivian's Committee on the retirement of officers of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, it appears that of 1,000 officers entering purchase regiments (Guards excepted), 442 sell before attaining the rank of captain, or, as appears from Appendix E E, page 111, before averaging 8.3 years of service, and 185 more before averaging 17.3 years. This is a strong argument to prove that the purchase system stimulates promotion; but what does it represent in the way of blasted careers and ruin to young men? At the outside, one-tenth of the 1,000, or say 100 out of the 442, who sell as subalterns are men of wealth and expectations, who enter the service to pass a few years in it before taking up with some other career in civil life; but the majority of the remainder are, I firmly believe, for the most part men who have acquired extravagant habits, and have been compelled to realize their commissions to pay their debts. The system of money-lending and exchanges is fast breaking down our much-boasted regimental system. To such an extent is money-lending now carried that an old officer told me a few days ago that within a few months of his son getting his commission in the Line, he (the son) had received between 60 and 70 letters from money lenders offering to advance money. This shows how profitable the business must be, and the extent to which it is carried, and the only security, in the majority of cases, that can be given is the value of the commission.I now come to the question whether, if we are to abolish purchase, we ought, in the language of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berkshire, to 146 postpone it, or to abolish it at once? I venture to suggest that if we are to abolish it at all now is the time to do so. I hope I have shown that my right hon. Friend (Sir Henry Storks) and I are not far wrong when we told you that the existence of the purchase system is an obstacle which meets us in every form and at every turn on the proposal of every change. It will be the old story of the Sibylline books, for depend upon it the longer you delay the larger will be the demand made upon you. There is another consideration which I would especially address to my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir John Pakington). He was the man who set the stone rolling with respect to cornet and ensign. He knows that it is more than he would have ventured, under the circumstances of last year, to ask Parliament to vote the over-regulation money. It was necessary, after what passed last year, to have an inquiry into the over-regulation money. That inquiry was conducted by men of the greatest eminence—many of them Members of this House. They gave no opinion on the subject of the abolition of purchase, for that was not referred to them. But they did express an opinion about the recognition which has been given to over-regulation prices. That opinion was unanimous, and was strongly in favour of recognition. Fortified by the Report of the Commissioners recognizing over-regulation, as well as regulation prices, does he not see that he has taken a very narrow and imperfect view of a very wide question when he suggests that I might have abolished the rank of cornet and ensign by paying the over-regulation price in that case only? If over-regulation prices are to be recognized in the case of cornets and ensigns they must be recognized throughout the whole Army? What, then, are we to do? Are we to enforce the law which stands on the statute book notwithstanding the Report of the Commission? It would be impossible to take that course. Are we to allow the law to remain, and to wink at its violation? To do that is equally impossible. Are we, then, to repeal the law? I have quoted the opinions of Sir Henry Hardinge and Lord Palmerston, that if you put the commissions up to auction the longest purse gets the commission. We therefore recommend to you to deal with the question in the only way in which we think 147 it can be dealt with satisfactorily, and that is to abolish purchase altogether. You have a small Army. It is a most efficient Army. You give your soldiers higher pay than those of any other country; you give them greater advantages and comforts—most justly and properly. You are proud of having the only Volunteer Army almost in the world; you equip it with the best weapons; and we now ask you to take a step by which you will place it under the command not only of the most gallant and the most heroic officers in the world, but also of men whose professional training shall be the closest and the most direct, and make them most fit to lead to victory the noblest Army in the world.
§ COLONEL NORTH moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Colonel North.)
I am sorry it is my duty to oppose this Motion. I believe that we have reached a point when we are very near coming to a Division on this Bill. For my own part, I am so well satisfied with the statements I have heard on this side of the House, from my right hon. Friend and others, that I shall refrain from troubling the House further. But I stated in the earlier part of the evening the position of Public Business. We are coming to the 1st of April, and that being the first day of the financial year, suggests considerations connected with the public service. It is absolutely necessary to take Votes in Supply connected with supplementary Estimates for the current year, and I am informed they cannot be postponed beyond Monday next. On Thursday the Army Estimates must be proposed, and immediately afterwards the Navy Estimates must follow. Therefore, the alternative we have is trusting for the finishing of this debate to such fragments of other evenings as may be found, if it is the pleasure of the House to adjourn it now. But I do not believe it is the pleasure of the House to do so. I believe, however, the House will be contented, or at least will respectfully listen to anything further that may be advanced; but to the adjournment it is my duty to object.
§ MR. G. BENTINCK
It has been my fate to be present at so many remarkable 148 proceedings on the part of the right hon. Gentleman that I had almost ceased to be surprised at them. But I confess I am surprised at the course he has now taken, because, in the first place, if he is the Leader of the House he is the first man who ought to defend and protect its rights and privileges; and I can imagine nothing more unjustifiable than an attempt on the part of the Leader of this House to stifle its privileges. The right hon. Gentleman could hardly have reflected upon the purport of what he has said. He must be aware that the line which he has proposed is unconstitutional as regards this House generally, and offensive to a great number in it. It is unconstitutional, because it is an attempt to stifle the freedom of debate, and it is offensive to a large number of Members who are anxious to address the House on this question, and who have not yet had an opportunity of speaking. His proceeding is so unusual that I think he has been studying modern history, and that he is disposed to take a leaf out of Count Bismarck's book, because the proceedings he now attempts to carry out are much more extraordinary than any of those of that statesman in such matters. He trusted the House would assert its privileges.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he was always anxious to co-operate with the Government whenever the indispensable business of the country was in arrear; but until the right hon. Gentleman rose he was not aware this was a party debate, for it had been principally carried on by distinguished Members sitting on the Ministerial side of the House. He was not about to give a party vote; he should, however, like to state his reasons for the vote he proposed to give, and there were many others in a similar position; but it was certainly not convenient to prolong the debate beyond the hour at which they had arrived. He could not sit down without bearing his tribute of respect to those who had taken part in the discussion. He had certainly never listened to a more instructive debate, and he was sure the progress of the measure in Committee would be much facilitated by the fair and comprehensive manner in which it had been treated up to the present time.
§ Question put:—The House divided:—Ayes 187; Noes 284: Majority 97.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ After some discussion—
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Robert Fowler:)—Question put:—The House divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 256: Majority 109.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. RUSSELL GURNEY
said, he thought that the difficulty in which the House found itself might be got over if the discussion were resumed at a Morning Sitting to be appointed for that purpose.
said, he would be glad to accept this way out of the difficulty, and added that, in addition to the difficulties of finance, he must say that the Easter holidays were in very considerable danger. Would the House act on the suggestion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman?
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
protested against the proposition for a Morning Sitting at this period of the Session, in order to force a minority to submission. The right hon. Gentleman had done such things before, but still the practice was altogether novel; and if the minority were not to be allowed to convince the majority by argument, the House would soon cease to be a deliberative assembly.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
trusted those hon. Members who had Notices upon the Paper for to-morrow would consent to postpone their Motions until a future day.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that the Government would consent to the adjournment if it were understood to be until 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
§ Debate arising.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Sir James Elphinstone:)—Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be adjourned till this day, at Two of the clock."—(Mr. Russell Gurney.)150
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
complained of the inconvenience which would arise from altering the hour of sitting without due Notice.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government never acted upon any public principle except what was to his own advantage for the time being. He had been requested by the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Motion which stood on the Paper relating to Maritime Law. That Motion had also relation to what ought to have been before the Conference, and if it was adopted by the House it would, in a great measure, do away with Army reform. He gave Notice that he would bring it forward in Committee of Supply on Monday.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
observed that the Government had consented to the adjournment of the debate under the impression that it would be resumed at 2 o'clock To-morrow afternoon. The best plan, under the circumstances, would be for the Motions fixed for To-morrow to be postponed and the debate resumed at 2 o'clock.
§ LORD ELCHO
appealed to the Speaker, whether it was competent for any hon. Member to move, without giving previous Notice, that the House should meet at 2 o'clock?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the debate had been adjourned, and the only question now before them was the hour to which it should be adjourned. The House had on several occasions decided that for the general convenience of the House the hour at which they should again meet should be 2 o'clock.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
then moved that the debate on the Motion "That the Debate be adjourned till this day, at Two of the clock," be now adjourned.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir Michael Hicks-Beach:)—The House divided:—Ayes 104; Noes 238: Majority 134.
§ Question again proposed, "That the Debate be adjourned till this day, at Two of the clock."
§ Question again proposed, "That the Debate be adjourned till this day, at Two of the clock."
§ Debate arising.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Earl Percy:)—The House divided:—Ayes 92; Noes 208: Majority 116.
§ Question again proposed, "That the Debate be adjourned till this day, at Two of the clock."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Lord Garlies.)
§ MR. C. FORSTER
suggested that the Motion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Russell Gurney) for the adjournment until 2 o'clock this day (Friday) be withdrawn, on the understanding that the debate on the second reading of the Bill be resumed on Saturday.
§ Question put:—The House divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 190: Majority 110.
§ Question again proposed, "That the Debate be adjourned till this day, at Two of the clock."
agreed to the withdrawal of the Motion, giving Notice that on to-morrow he would move that the House should meet at 12 o'clock on Saturday.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.