§ MR. STAPLETON
rose to call attention to the difficulty of selecting Officers for regimental promotion through the Horse Guards in such a manner as to give general satisfaction, and to the advantage which might be derived from the examination of Lieutenants and Captains in the order in which they might offer themselves, with a view to their promotion from lists so constituted. He heartily supported Her Majesty's Government in their endeavour to abolish the system of purchase in the Army; but he was afraid that, if the system of promotion by selection were adopted in its place, a greater evil would be created than that which it was sought to get 289 rid of. Very strong objections existed throughout the country to the adoption of the system of promotion by selection, as calculated to induce young officers to depend rather upon the favour of their superiors, and even upon influence brought to bear upon Ministers, than upon rendering themselves fit for promotion. Sir John Burgoyne, in his letter, which had recently been published, expressed his opinion that it was a fallacy to suppose that the best men in the Army would be selected for promotion, and he added that the performance of regimental duties in time of peace afforded no criterion for estimating the qualities of an officer, so as to justify the supersession of the senior officer by the junior. The right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) had also shown that the system of selection would not work well, arguing from his experience in the Admiralty. He (Mr. Stapleton) would go further in his opinion; selection in the Navy had not caused the best men to come to the top. He could not, otherwise, account for the fact that there had been fewer men who had attained distinction in the Navy than in the Army; although the education of midshipmen had been cared for when that of ensigns was not. They had, no doubt, been passed over in consequence of a system of favouritism. They had been told that they should follow the system of the Austrian, French, and Prussian Armies. The Austrian Army, however, had suffered two defeats, and the Government was employed re-organizing it. As to the French Army he would say nothing. In Colonel Stofell's report on the Prussian Army, which appeared lately in The Times, it was stated that—In order to appreciate properly the advantages offered to Staff officers, it must be remembered that promotion in the Prussian Army is by seniority. The King has the power to promote an officer at pleasure, but he seldom makes use of this prerogative, and, as the proportion of officers so promoted does not exceed a thirtieth or a fortieth of the whole, it may be said that promotion goes by seniority.In the face of that, it could not be said that promotion in the Prussian Army was by selection. He was not advocating a system of mere seniority, because they must have a principle of promotion that would enable young men to rise over the heads of those older than themselves. The plan he proposed might be described 290 as seniority tempered by examination, or selection guided by examination. And here he would again refer to the Prussian Army. Colonel Stofell, in his report, went on to say—Officers, however, on the general Staff of the Army gain, on the average, from seven to eight years' advantage.And how did they get on the general Staff? Colonel Stofell said—Every lieutenant, to whatever arm of the service he might belong, can, after he has served three years with his regiment, present himself for entrance to the War Academy in Berlin. This is a school of higher military instruction, unequalled by any in Europe, not only in regard to the merits of its teachers, but also in respect of the nature and extent of the studies.He begged the House to observe that there was no selection here; that every lieutenant was at liberty to present himself. Colonel Stofell also described the programme of the studies pursued in that institution, and then proceeded—After a searching examination, for which, on the average, about 120 present themselves, 40 lieutenants enter this Academy yearly, all with a greater or less desire to qualify for the Staff. The course of study lasts three years, commencing on the 1st of October. The first year's course lasts nine months, after which the officers return for three months (the 1st of July to the 1st of October) to their respective regiments, to take part in the autumn manœuvres… … After three years all the lieutenants are sent back to their regiments without any final examination or class list. The professors and the director of the Academy report to General von Moltke those who have shown themselves to be the most able and zealous. Twelve of these are chosen, taking care that among them are officers of each of the three arms (Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery), and in the course of the year following their departure from the Academy each one is sent for six or nine months to a regiment of another branch of the service.There, it might be said, there was something like selection; yet the selection was not arbitrary, but was guided by careful examinations. After those gentlemen were actually sent to the Army, they had to make reports on what they had seen. Their names were concealed under seal, and their further promotion depended on the result of the considerations of those reports. Now, in our Army we already had the system of examination. Every subaltern underwent an examination before he became captain; and if they wished to promote the ablest officers without exciting jealousies let officers' names be placed on a list for promotion according to the order in which they passed an 291 examination, which ought to be rendered as comprehensive as possible. It should include things military and things general. It should even include what Professor Huxley described as physical instruction. Each officer should be allowed to tender himself for examination as soon as he considered himself ready. He did not say, however, the examination should be a severe one, except in the higher grades. There were as many captains as lieutenants, therefore the first examination might be one which all could pass in time. The abler men would have this advantage—that they would get on quicker because they would be sooner ready. But as the number of field officers was less than that of captain, the second examination should be made severer, so as only to let through as many as were required. This examination might include field operations, for which the camps of instruction would afford an opportunity. The hon. Member also quoted the opinion of Sir John Burgoyne that the alleged necessity of preventing a recurrence to the system of purchase by private arrangements between officers could not justify the adoption of the system of selection proposed by the Government. He agreed with several Members of that House, as well as with Sir John Burgoyne, in thinking that the bonus system, as it was called, was not so great an evil as the Government supposed. He also thought that there were other provisions in the Government scheme of Army Reform—as the enforcement of the five years' rule in the case of field officers—majors as well as colonels—which would prevent the possibility of its growing up in an aggravated form. Officers would not give large sums to buy out superior officers, who must retire anyhow in a few years.
§ COLONEL SYKES
, speaking from many years' experience, and from circumstances which had come to his own knowledge, held that the system of purchase was injurious both to the individual officer and to the public interests. A man might spend a fortune before arriving at the rank of major or lieutenant-colonel, and having probably a family to provide for would be obliged to quit the Army by the chance of death, when he would lose every shilling he had invested, at the very time when, from his experience in different parts of the world, and his military qualifications, his 292 services would be most valuable to the country. He therefore entirely approved that portion of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme which dealt with the abolition of purchase; but his opinion was very different with regard to the principle of selection for promotion. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for War said they would not be able to get on without selected officers; but did his right hon. Friend mean that he would have to select a subaltern from some other regiment when a subaltern's vacancy occurred, or when a captain's occurred, that he would have to select a captain from some other regiment, and the same with regard to the other officers? That would be entirely subversive of regimental organization and of discipline. Let his right hon. Friend look to the Indian Armies. Not one of the 5,000 officers in the Armies of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay rose by selection; each rose in his regiment. They entered in the regiment as ensigns, and were promoted to be captains, from captains they became majors, and the whole majors and lieutenant-colonels were thrown into seniority tests in their respective armies, and were promoted by seniority. Why should not the same principle be adopted in England? It had worked well in India for 67 years, and he himself had risen in that manner in his own regiment without favouritism. The system had produced men of ability in India, and history recited hundreds of illustrations. The present Commander-in-Chief in India was one of those very men, and had been educated at the East India Company's Military Seminary at Addiscombe. Unfortunately, since the destruction of the Indian Army by its conversion into Irregulars, a system of selection had prevailed; that was to say, the 22 officers who had formerly belonged to a regiment, and who had risen as he (Colonel Sykes) rose, were now reduced to six officers, and they were selected, and, unhappily, were not necessarily appointed to the regiments in which they had risen. And what did the men in the ranks say in consequence? They said—"Our father and mother are gone, and officers are put to command us whom we have never heard of before, whom we do not know, and with whom we have no sympathy whatever." Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that a regimental system could be obtained in regiments in which officers were fre- 293 quently changed? How could officers become acquainted with their men—how could any sympathy exist between them and the men, with whom they did not stay more than three or four years? The system of selection had caused great dissatisfaction among European officers in India, and disgust amongst the Native troops; and he (Colonel Sykes) trusted, in case the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War applied the principle to the British Army at large, sufficient securities against favouritism should be provided.
§ MR. G. B. GREGORY
could not but say that the principle of selection, as applied to the officers of the Army, was open to very great objection, and notwithstanding all that was said in the course of the debate last week, he had not heard anything fall from Her Majesty's Government which removed that objection. If the system of purchase was abolished, what was there to fall back upon? It must be the principle of seniority; and if that was to be the principle of promotion, the great question again arose—"What are we to pay ten millions of public money for?" He acknowledged that the principle of purchase was an anomalous one, and that it might be desirable to get rid of it. But there was another matter about which he had very grave doubts, and that was with respect to over-regulation prices. If they were to admit the principle of seniority—and he believed they would be compelled to admit it—he could see no reason whatever for getting rid of over-regulation prices. By getting rid of the purchase system they would give to the War Office, or Secretary of State, or Horse Guards, greater power of stopping improper promotion in regiments, which was a very proper thing, as no young man not thoroughly qualified ought to rise to higher posts in his regiment; but in dealing with over-regulation prices, he thought it would be desirable that Her Majesty's Government should consider the suggestions which had been thrown out by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) in the course of the debate; and there was, in his opinion, another practical difficulty in connection with that subject. Do what they would, they would not be able to get rid of over-regulation prices, which he believed existed, in some shape or other, in branches of the service in which there was no 294 purchase system. He most earnestly entreated the Government to re-consider the subject.
MR. M. T. BASS
expressed a hope that Government would not proceed with the manufacture of the Martini-Henry rifle without giving Parliament an opportunity of considering its merits or defects.
§ SIR HENRY STORKS
stated that the Committee which had been deputed to consider and Report upon the merits of breech-loading rifles had protracted its sitting over a long period in order that the inquiry might be prosecuted to the utmost. Their Report had been, at the instance of the Secretary of State for War, referred to the Council of Ordnance, which would probably meet in the course of the week to consider and advise his right hon. Friend upon the subject; but, as he had previously stated, every opportunity would be given to Parliament to express its opinion on the decision arrived at. The Martini-Henry rifle had been adopted, and the necessary steps would be taken to bring that arm into the service.
SIR JOHN HAY
gathered from what had been said that no investigation on other arms not already reported on would be made. Unfortunately, the Committee, to whose Report reference had been made, was appointed before the Westley-Richards-Henry, which he had used himself with much satisfaction, had been issued. The Soper, also, had not been before the Committee; he wished to know, therefore, whether those two arms would be examined by the Committee, or whether it was a foregone conclusion that the Martini-Henry was to be the arm of the service, notwithstanding many hon. Members believed other arms were superior to it.
§ LORD ELCHO
, as a Member of the Committee, said, he would reserve anything he had to say upon the subject until the Report was before the House, and hoped his hon. and gallant Friend would do the same.
said, that the character of the discussion had now drifted into one upon the value of arms. The question was, whether the present was a fitting opportunity for going into a discussion upon the question raised by his hon. and gallant Friend? He (Viscount Bury) thought that the Motion of his hon. Friend (Mr. Stapleton), if adopted, 295 would strike at the very root of the regimental system. He wished to guard himself against the view of its being supposed that he sympathized with his hon. and gallant Friend.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, that if the principle of selection was to be adopted, he thought they might borrow a hint from the sister service, where it was required that a record of experience and observation should be kept. He thought that, if a similar rule were adopted in the military service, it would prove very valuable.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
inquired why it was that the recruits in the Irish Militia had not been supplied with the breech-loader?
§ MR. CARDWELL
, in reply to the last question, stated that though great efforts had been made by the Government for the supply of the most effective weapons, they had not yet been able to overtake the arrears. The Artillery were trained to the use of big guns, and therefore the preference had been shown to those whose weapon was the rifle; but he was in hopes that before long they would be supplied with the breechloader—but such was the power of invention, that scarcely had they spent a large sum of money upon one implement before they were called upon to incur a fresh expenditure. The Report of the Committee which had been referred to was about to be printed, and would soon be in the hands of hon. Members, who would have full opportunity of considering it before being asked to vote money for the Martini-Henry rifle. As regarded the Motion of the hon. Member for Berwick (Mr. Stapleton), if he understood him rightly, his proposal would break up the regimental system altogether; it would apparently combine all the disadvantages of other systems without securing the best man for the first place. The system which prevailed in Prussia was that of seniority tempered by selection. He contended that any system of selection might be described as a system of seniority tempered by selection, because in all cases there would be an unwillingness to pass anyone over who would be entitled to promotion by seniority except for very good and sufficient reasons. While, therefore, in every branch of the service they felt bound to insist upon promotion by selection in order that merit might be rewarded, 296 and also that the growth of a new system of purchase might be prevented, that system of selection was intended to be exercised with a due regard to regimental considerations, and those considerations would naturally prevail more frequently in the lower than in the higher ranks of the service, inasmuch as in the higher ranks conspicuous merit would be more easily recognized. He was very much discouraged from going back to the old Indian system, as desired by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes), because the Royal Commission upon Purchase, which had gone into that question at great length, had expressed a very decided opinion against its adoption. He had no doubt that the excellent suggestion made by the hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) would receive attention at the hands of the eminent men who were now preparing the rules by which the system of selection should be guided. He believed they would be able to establish such a system of selection in the British Army as would give great satisfaction to those who believed that their merit would secure their selection for promotion.
§ COLONEL SYKES
desired to know whether promotions to the rank of major would be made regimentally or not?
§ MR. CARDWELL
repeated that due regard would be paid to regimental considerations; but that promotion by selection would be adopted throughout the service.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
, in appealing to the right hon. Gentleman not to press the Army Estimates that evening—the largest which had been proposed since the Battle of Waterloo—would move the adjournment of the debate, with a view to putting himself in Order. It was highly desirable that these Estimates should be discussed generally before the House went into Committee of Supply, and as the forms of the House would preclude his taking the sense of the House that evening upon the Motion which he had placed on the Paper, he would ask the Government to postpone the subject, in deference to the wishes of many in that House, and the feeling, as he believed, of the great majority in the country.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Mundella.)
§ MR. CARDWELL
desired in every possible way to consult the convenience of hon. Members; but something also was due to the public service. The Mutiny Bill must shortly be passed, and financial matters required consideration, so that he feared he could not consent to the adjournment of the debate.
§ COLONEL NORTH
desired to learn whether his right hon. Friend purposed making a statement on going into Committee on the Estimates.
§ MR. CANDLISH
trusted that the Government would give an opportunity for the full discussion of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). If the Government assented to the adjournment the night would not be lost, for there were several important measures—the Scotch Education Bill among them—on the Paper for that evening.
§ COLONEL SYKES
would inquire whether the hon. Member for Sheffield would not be able to bring his Motion forward when the numbers came to be proposed in Committee.
said, that was no doubt the case; but it would not be equally satisfactory to Gentlemen who, having a subject of great importance to urge upon the attention of the House, would rather make the declaration of their sentiments in a manner which would seem consistent with the Motion they were supporting. It was, however, necessary that the Mutiny Bill should be passed, and that on Thursday at the latest Votes should be taken on these Estimates. Nothing could be more invidious than an attempt on the part of the Government to limit a debate on the question of public expenditure. If they went on that night they would have two nights available; but if they postponed the further consideration of the Army Estimates till Thursday, they would be 298 in the position of being compelled to press for a Vote. If, therefore, they felt that indulgence would be shown them on Thursday they would be ready to accede to the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. HUNT
was somewhat surprised at the announcement just made by the right hon. Gentleman, when he remembered what recently took place with reference to the Army Regulation Bill. His right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said he wished to address the House on the subject; but the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government took the very unusual course of trying to close the debate that night, and the reason he gave was that the interests of the public service would not allow a longer time for the discussion. [Mr. GLADSTONE said, that was on the question of an Amendment.] The right hon. Gentleman said it was necessary to pursue the subject, and that, if the necessary progress were not made, it would be necessary to have a Morning Sitting on Saturday. But now they were told that it was not necessary to take their Votes that night, but that they might be taken on Thursday. It might be that the Division which had been taken that evening had added force to the remonstrance from below the Gangway to which the right hon. Gentleman had yielded.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
regretted to find the Government giving way upon such an important question to so small a minority, because when they should find themselves deserted by his friends below the Gangway they would, no doubt, look for support from the Opposition side of the House in furtherance of the Public Business.
What I stated explicitly to the House was, that this was the latest night on which it would be practicable for us to take the Civil Supplementary Estimates, and that Thursday night was the night on which it would be necessary to take the Army Estimates.
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, that when he moved the adjournment of the debate last week it was distinctly intimated on the part of the Government that pressure was necessary to get through with the business. Hon. Members had come down prepared to discuss the Army Estimates, and it was unfair to them 299 that these should now be postponed merely at the instance of the hon. Member for Sheffield, who could make any observations which he desired to offer just as well that evening as on a future occasion.
§ LORD GARLIES
wished to know whether the suggestion which had been thrown out as proceeding with the Scotch Education Bill was to be acted upon. In the absence of the majority of the Scotch Members, he should certainly oppose any such proceeding.
MAJOR GENERAL SIR PERCY HERBERT
should like to know from the Secretary for War, Whether, in the event of the Estimates coming on upon Thursday, he would undertake not to ask for more than the first Vote, which was really the only one of importance?
§ MR. CARDWELL
The first Vote is, of course, the most important. There are, however, several smaller Votes, if the House was willing to go into them afterwards, which might be taken with advantage.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
pressed for a distinct answer to the question whether the Scotch Education Bill was to be taken. Not a quarter of an hour ago he had been assured by the Lord Advocate that there was not a chance of its coming on. He wished, therefore, to know whether it was to be taken, and, if so, at what hour, that hon. Gentlemen might be in their places.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he hoped the Government would not force on the Scotch Education Bill in the absence of many Gentlemen who took a strong interest in the question. Everybody supposed that the Military Estimates would have occupied at least until 12 o'clock; and, in the absence of Scotch Members, it was impossible that justice could be done to the education question.
§ MR. G. BENTINCK
said, that as nobody upon the Government Benches seemed prepared to address the House, perhaps he might be allowed to do so. A good deal had been heard of dual government in the Army; but now they had attained to dual government of the House of Commons. On a former occasion he had asserted that the real power and actual government of the country was to be found below the Gangway, on the Ministerial side, and now they had a literally good proof of the accuracy of this statement. For the 300 last few days hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House had been making ineffectual appeals to the Government for liberty to express their opinions on one of the most important questions that could engage the attention of Parliament; but every possible obstacle had been thrown in their way. The moment, however, that a similar request proceeded from below the Gangway the Government at once gave way, and the whole Business of the House was thrown into confusion. In future, whenever he wished to put a Question in the House as to the conduct of Public Business, he should address himself, not to the Government Bench, but to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, that the reason the opinions of Gentlemen below the Gangway obtained so much weight was because they represented the views of the advanced section of the Liberal party, which often became the dominant public opinion in the country. He thought it would have been a most unfortunate thing if the Government had persisted in bringing on the Army Estimates, involving a large expenditure of public money without an opportunity being afforded to representatives of large constituencies of making known the feelings of those whom they represented.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he thought it desirable the House should have an opportunity of pronouncing an opinion on the proposal for such a large expenditure on our Army. Looking at the state of countries on the Continent, it appeared to him that the Government were going to legislate in a state of panic. They had at one time inconsiderably reduced our forces, and now they proposed to proceed in another direction by increasing our Army without any valid reason whatever.
§ MR. LEATHAM
said, he was not in the House when the arrangement was come to between the hon: Member for Sheffield and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. Had he been he should certainly have protested against it, as he himself had a Motion upon the Paper on going into Committee of Supply.
§ MR. DALGLISH
joined in the hope which had been already expressed, that in the absence of other Scotch Members the Scotch Education Bill would not be forced on.
believed that the concession made by the Government to the hon. Member for Sheffield would facilitate the discussion upon Thursday night. He himself should now be willing to stop till any hour on that night to enable the Government to obtain such Votes as they required.
§ MR. M. CHAMBERS
said, the House would hereafter be placed in a great difficulty by the qualified concession made by the Prime Minister. The Gentlemen who were now anxious for postponement were the very Gentlemen who contended that the subject ought to be thoroughly discussed. An hon. Member had just declared his willingness to stay till any hour in the morning rather than put the Government to any inconvenience. It was not the Government, however, who would be put to inconvenience, but the private Members, who would have to choose between suppressing their own views altogether or putting them forward in an incomplete and unsatisfactory manner. Hon. Gentlemen who were opposed to an increase of our forces might bring the subject forward when the Army Estimates came on for discussion.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he wished, in order to prevent any misapprehension, to state that many Members below the Gangway were determined that the Vote for increasing the Army by 20,000 men should be fully discussed. They strongly objected to that increase.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I regret that the Government have so unexpectedly arrived at this decision, because I feel anxious that the Business of the House should be proceeded with. It seems to me that decision is inconsistent with the declaration made on a previous occasion with reference to another debate. Of course, different interpretations may be placed on that declaration; but there are certain rules to which both sides of the House have agreed, and which we ought to observe, so far as possible, for the sake of public convenience. I confess I cannot understand why, because a Division has been taken by an hon. Gentleman below the Gangway—and I do not doubt at all the propriety of his Division to-night—we should be totally regardless of the rules we have laid 302 down for the conduct of the Business of this House. If another hon. Gentleman finds himself prevented in consequence of that Division from taking the opinion of the House, I do not see why an exception should be made in his favour by the Leader of this House. I want to know in what case and in what instance an hon. Gentleman may not rise and make his appeal to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, who has the supreme control of the conduct of the Business of the House, with the same force and right as the hon. Member for Sheffield? If so, what is the use of all our rules? No doubt the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield was very interesting and important; but he was precluded from asking the opinion of the House upon it by the rules which have been established for our convenience. The question he meant to have brought forward could have been brought forward by another hon. Gentleman on a distinct Vote in Committee of Supply, when we should have had a complete opportunity of discussing the subject. I must enter my protest against the course of proceeding adopted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The right hon. Gentleman is a great purist in matters of this kind. No person weighs the value of the time of this House with such scrupulous exactitude as the right hon. Gentleman. To-day we have returned to the House, after the labours of the past week, with our energies invigorated, and in expectation of doing a good stroke of business, when we find that, in deference to the morbid sensibility of the hon. Member for Sheffield, who, no doubt, takes a leading part in the affairs of this House and of this country, leads him to make this extravagant yet successful appeal to the consideration of the Government, although his experience in this House scarcely warrants him in doing so. Really, what chance have we of carrying on the business of the country, and of making in the course of the Session that progress which no one so much desires as the First Minister, if we proceed in this way? Here is a night wasted in the most capricious manner. We might have gone into Committee and had the question of the diminution of the cost of the Army brought forward by the hon. Member for Hudders- 303 field (Mr. Leatham), so that the whole subject might have been amply discussed this evening. I am totally at a loss to comprehend the sort of coma in which, after ten minutes' absence, I find the House of Commons. It seems to me to be symptomatic of a dangerous state of things. We have before us a Session of business requiring such an amount of energy that we almost look at it with a feeling of despair. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will re-consider the matter, and after a confidential communication with his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield we shall regain our common sense, and proceed with the business of the country.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I will take the liberty of reminding the House that the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield is one of which the appropriateness under existing circumstances cannot be denied by anybody. We are unfortunately, and I say it with regret, asking for a very large increase of the Estimates. Now, so long as we have Motions on going into Committee of Supply, I doubt whether there can be found any more legitimate subject for bringing before the House by those who dissent from such an increase. The hon. Member's Motion, I apprehend, could not be made in Committee of Supply at all. It is, therefore, most reasonable on his part to make an appeal to the Government; and it would be most unreasonable on ours if we availed ourselves of a technical difficulty to prevent him from bringing the subject forward. It is, no doubt, very clever for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) to allude only to the hon. Member for Sheffield; but, in point of fact, a large number of Members of this House are desirous to express their opinions on the Motion. I can imagine no question which they have a better right to discuss, and the Government are bound to facilitate the discussion by every means in their power. We should have liked very much indeed to go on with the Estimates; but it would not be right, when a large number of Members wish to raise a question which it is their duty to decide, as to whether there shall be an increase in the military strength of the nation, to take advantage of a technical difficulty in order to shut them out from the debate. We are confident we can 304 rely on the moderation and good sense of hon. Members, and we feel assured that, if the Government meet their wishes, they will not let the public service suffer by preventing the Votes from being taken when the proper time arrives.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
pointed out that there was no absolute necessity for passing the Vote for Men on Thursday. That could not be done till the last Vote for the Navy had been taken.
§ MR. ORR-EWING
said, he hoped the Lord Advocate would give the House an assurance that the Scotch Education Bill would not be brought on to-night?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, every hon. Member had the same means he himself possessed of calculating the probability of the Bill getting into Committee before Easter. He should certainly lose no opportunity of pressing it forward; but he would not bring it on this evening after 11 o'clock. If to-night, or on any other night, a chance should arise of bringing it forward, he should make a point of being in his place, in order to take the measure into Committee. He was authorized to say that his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government had never expressed himself to any other effect than this.
§ MR. M'LAREN
protested against the Scotch Bill being forced on when hon. Members from that country had not had an opportunity of expressing their opinions upon the second reading. If it had been an Irish Bill provision would have been at once made for it; but everything connected with Scotland was shunted to make way for something that was considered more important. This was the state of things, when the people of Scotland paid at the rate of double the amount of taxation which the people in Ireland paid.
§ MR. GORDON
said, he felt it his duty to do what he could to protect those hon. Members who had not had an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon the second reading, though he felt that he owed no apology for having occupied so long a time on the previous occasion. It was not his fault that the Government had limited the time for the discussion in order to deal with Irish matters. It was then stated that further opportunity for debate on the Bill would occur on the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair in order that the House might go 305 into Committee, and he, as well as, he had no doubt, many other Scotch Members, would avail himself of that opportunity, inasmuch as the Bill wore a different aspect from that which he had supposed, it now appearing that borough schools were not to obtain any advance of money under its provisions, notwithstanding the great things which it was said by the Lord Advocate would be done for them. He strongly, however, protested against proceeding with the Bill at a moment when there were scarcely a dozen Scotch Members in the House.
§ MR. BAXTER
suggested that, as several hon. Members seemed disposed to speak on the Motion that the Speaker leave the Chair, those Scotch Members who were present might proceed to do so at once, and the Committee might be deferred.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
contended that to proceed with the Bill would be to break the spirit of the engagements into which the Government had entered with respect to it. Many hon. Gentlemen had understood the Lord Advocate to say that there was no chance of its being brought on that evening.
§ MR. C. DALRYMPLE
said, that the reason why the Scotch Members were not present was, that the Government had informed them, a few nights ago, that several Bills of great importance must be advanced a stage before the Scotch Education Bill was taken.
explained that he did not state the order in which several great and important subjects were to be taken, but he specially limited himself to speaking of those great subjects; and said that as to the others, they must take them as they could.
§ MR. C. DALRYMPLE
said, that the impression remained upon the minds of Scotch Members that this measure was of very secondary importance to that of the Ballot, which stood for a second reading, and to the Licensing Bill, which had not yet been brought forward.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he thought it perfectly monstrous that the Government should take advantage of their own laches in the conduct of the Business of the House, and press on a measure which everyone had been led to suppose would not be taken that night. But if the Scotch Education Bill was not to be discussed, he should like to 306 know what business was to be proceeded with, in order that hon. Members might be made aware whether there was a chance of any Bill on the Notice Paper in which they took an interest being urged forward, so that they might go home if there was no such prospect?
§ MR. CRAUFURD
wished to ask the Lord Advocate whether he had not distinctly stated to him that the Bill would not come on that evening?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
replied that he had said to at least some 20 Members that if an opportunity offered he should bring on the Bill. Being asked whether he thought there was any chance of its coming on that evening, his answer, he believed, was that he really thought there was none.
§ COLONEL SYKES
expressed his astonishment that the learned Lord Advocate should endeavour to entrap the House into the consideration of the Scotch Education Bill at the present time, when Scotch Members had not expected it to come on. He hoped that faith would be kept with them.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he did not altogether agree with those who seemed anxious to prevent the Scotch Education Bill coming on for discussion. Those Scotch Members who were absent from their places must take the consequences of their non-attendance.
§ MR. M'LAGAN
strongly disapproved of any Member of the Government breaking faith with them. He had been told that there was not the slightest chance of the Scotch Bill coming on to-night, and he was surprised that the Government should now propose to take it.
§ MAJOR WALKER
said, that the Lord Advocate had assured him that there was not the remotest probability of that Bill being entered upon to-night, and he (Major Walker) repeated this to every hon. Member who asked him the question.
§ LORD ELCHO
asked whether the Government would, after those statements, venture to persevere with the Scotch Education Bill on the present occasion? If so, he would protest against the mode of carrying on Business.
§ MR. SPEAKER
explained that the Question before the House was that he now leave the Chair, for the purpose of going into Committee of Supply. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) moved that the debate be adjourned, 307 for the purpose of entering into an explanation as to the business before them. That matter having now been settled, the question was whether the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield should be withdrawn. After that there would still be the Question that he do now leave the Chair.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," again proposed.
§ MR. ANDERSON
called attention to the fact that the reductions made last year on highly paid offices on the Horse Guards' Staff had been nearly all restored in this year's Estimates.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he found that the salary of the Commander-in-Chief, which had been reduced from £4,432 to £4,000, had been raised in the Estimates of this year to £4,444; that of the Private Secretary, which had been reduced from £365 to £300, was again raised to £365; that of the Inspector General, which had been £1,000 was raised to £1,365; that of the Quartermaster General remained unchanged, but that of the Military Secretary, which had been reduced from £2,243 to £1,500 a-year, was again raised, to £2,000. He hoped, before going into the great question of the Army Estimates, that they would have some explanation of this circumstance.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that these Votes would come before the Committee on the Army Estimates, and he hoped his hon. Friend would wait for an explanation till that occasion. He thought it would then be explained that the increase was rather nominal than real.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present—
§ MR. HUNT
took the opportunity of offering a suggestion to the Government which he thought would have the effect of expediting Public Business. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government professed the other night a great desire to find an early night for 308 the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) to bring his Vote of Censure on the Government in connection with the Conference: would it not be possible to enable the hon. Baronet to bring on his Motion to-night?
§ Question put, and agreed to.