HC Deb 24 March 1871 vol 205 cc619-38

Resolutions [March 23] reported.

First Resolution read a second time.


rose to move that the number of men be reduced by 10,000. The Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), to reduce the Estimates by the lump sum of £3,000,000, followed the rule of thumb, and thus left it open to the Prime Minister to reply that the hon. Gentleman had failed to show how the proposed reduction could be effected, and though 91 Members voted with him the Motion came to nothing. The hon. Member's proposals were threefold:—in the first place, that we should cut off the honorary colonels; in the next place, that by doing away with Army agency and making paymasters do much of the work of quartermasters we should save £60,000; and, thirdly, that we should remove from the Army all men who were either morally or physically unsound. The Resolution of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) appeared to be of a more practical character; it was that a reduction of 20,000 men should be made. It was more practical, because, as the hon. Gentleman observed, 20,000 men more or less mattered very little; in other words, it was not a point which affected our position in Europe or our security at home. In that he (Lord Elcho) was very much disposed to agree. But what he himself proposed was that we should reduce our Army by 10,000 men in order, paradoxical as it might seem, to improve it and give it greater efficiency. Last year his right hon. Friend (Mr. Cardwell) had proposed to add 20,000 men to the Army, and the artillery had already received 5,200 of that addition. But his right hon. Friend the other night complained that he (Lord Elcho) had accused him of giving erroneous information to the House. What, however, he (Lord Elcho) said was that erroneous figures had been put into his mouth, inasmuch as he had stated that which was not borne out by the facts. His right hon. Friend said last Session that we had artillery enough for 60,000 men; and so we had if we took the proportion of three guns for every 1,000 men, for the number of guns was 180. He denied, however, that the right hon. Gentleman was justified in taking that proportion. According to our Field Equipment Book we had not guns last year, according to the English proportion, for 40,000 men. We could not at the time have found the proper proportion of artillerymen for 180 guns on a war establishment. His right hon. Friend stated to the House this Session that we had 336 field guns, capable of expansion to 408 guns, equivalent to artillery for 150,000 men, and he gave as his ground for making that statement that Colonel Hamley, in some work or other, had given certain proportions of guns to armies, and that the Prussian proportion was of a certain standard. But his right hon. Friend was not justified in basing his argument upon such data; for since last year a Committee had been appointed by the War Office, which had laid down certain proportions of guns to men, and that was not the Prussian proportion of 2.7 to every 1,000 men, but three guns to every 1,000; so that his right hon. Friend, tested by the proportion laid down by his own Committee, had guns not for 150,000 but only for 136,000 men. His right hon. Friend, however, said that he had the means of expanding his 336 guns into 408; but he (Lord Elcho) held in his hand figures to show that we had not men to man these guns. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had, the evening before, stated that hitherto a bad custom had prevailed of reckoning guns for which there were no carriages. [Mr. GLADSTONE: For which carriages were only made the year after.] That was to say that we had no means of using those guns at the moment, inasmuch that the carriages for them were not made until the following year. But what was the Government doing now? It should be borne in mind that, although we could manufacture carriages to almost any extent, we could not deal with soldiers and artillerymen in the way we could manufacture carriages. And had we, he would ask, artillerymen at the present, even taking the depôt garrisons into account, to man 408 guns on the war establishment, even on home service, if necessity should arise for doing so? His impression was that that could not be done even though we were to take the whole of our depôts—which, it should be borne in mind, were required for the purposes of India and of our Colonies. Were we even to starve every other service we should still be under the requisite complement. As he (Lord Elcho) had stated, he thought it would be well, when they heard so many complaints made about the increase of something like £1,000,000 for supplying material of war to our Army, that the House should understand the sort and amount of stores in the way of guns and men which were necessary. We had not in this country artillery for more than 136,000 Regular troops according to our English proportion of men to guns; to man those guns was the utmost we could do, and that by starving other services. But then we had made no provision in the way of field artillery for the Militia—none for the Volunteers. He wished, therefore, to know from the Government whether they were taking even the simplest steps to provide field artillery for our Reserve Forces? Now, there was a very valuable system in existence in this country which he would recommend to the attention of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War. He alluded to a system which had been devised by Mr. Darby, who was formerly Member for Sussex, by means of which agricultural horses and waggoners in their smock frocks were organized to draw 18-pounder guns 30 miles in the course of a day, besides manœuvring over steep ground such as that at Brighton, in a manner which was the admiration of all artillery officers who witnessed the manœuvres at that place. Now, that was a description of force which would cost the country nothing except the guns and ammunition, and if the farmers were willing to use their horses for the purpose, there was no reason why the system should not be established throughout the whole country with the greatest facility. Information on that point might easily be obtained by means of letters addressed to Lords Lieutenant of counties. Now, the number of guns which we should require if we were to have anything like the proportion of guns to men which existed in foreign countries would be about 1,400 or 1,500 guns, and a proportionate number of artillerymen. He held in his hand an extract from a work which had been recently published by the Archduke Albrecht of Austria, who was Generalissimo of the Austrian Army, in which he stated that Germany, including North and South, had for its first line 1,794 guns, and for its second line 54 guns, which gave a total for Germany of 1,848 field guns. In this country we had only 408, all told, and these, he maintained, we were unable to man; and if we were to lose men or guns, we had no means of replacing them. The late war, he would add, had clearly shown that the force which it was most effective and most desirable to keep up was the artillery; and we should, he contended, do all in our power to recover our lost position in that respect, or rather to establish a position which we had never held by keeping an ample supply of artillery to meet an invasion, or in case we should want to send a force abroad. He was anxious that, of the 20,000 men voted by this House last August as an increase of force, 10,000, instead of 5,000, should be given to the artillery. This would add infinitely more to the strength and efficiency of the Army than by giving the 5,000 to the cavalry or infantry; and he would remind the House that 4,800 men were equivalent to manning, on a war establishment, 170 additional guns. He hoped the House would look mainly to the artillery in this re-organization of the Army, and would insist that the field batteries were properly kept up; and that some provision was made, of course in the cheapest form, for the Reserve Forces. His other proposal was to knock off 10,000 from the cavalry and infantry, and strengthen our military system upon something like a principle which should be enduring, and really ensure for us a greater number of men in the end. This proposal might appear paradoxical; but all who were interested in military matters knew that the number of men voted by this House varied from year to year. From below the Gangway constant Motions were made to reduce the number of men, and, if the Division were a close one, or a strong feeling were expressed by the usual supporters of the Government, though it might not affect the Votes of that year, a material influence was exercised over the Estimates of the following year. For example, unless there was reason to believe in 1872 that the peace of Europe would be disturbed, he should be greatly surprised if these 20,000 men found a place in the Estimates after last night's minority of 91. His Parliamentary experience told him that the mere addition of men to the Army rested on no solid foundation; the men put on this year were, if political convenience or necessity required, taken off again next year. We had, therefore, no certain system upon which we could rely. A Return, moved for by the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Sykes), showed the variations in the Estimates from 1815, and the ranges of figures looked like the tables of the heights of mountains, sometimes very low and sometimes very high, proving that successive Governments were guided by no principle in framing their Estimates, except what was supposed to be public opinion for the time being. The Surveyor General would not have the face to stand up and say that 10,000 more men on the year's Estimates would settle the question whether England was or was not safe from invasion. He dared the Surveyor General to say that these 10,000 men, who were neither here nor there, would enable us to fulfil treaty engagements, or go to war with France, or Prussia, or Russia. It would be nonsense to say so. Therefore, it was necessary to have something like a system for the strengthening of the Army. The Secretary of State dwelt much upon the system of short service, and seemed to think that the Government had taken out a patent for the short-service system as an invention which no one had ever heard of before. Well, everybody felt that short service would be a good thing if you could only get the men. The whole question turned upon whether the men would enlist under the short-service system, and then go into the Reserve. He hoped they might; but at present the results were not very satisfactory. The prospect which the right hon. Gentleman had held out of having 178,000 men in 12 years depended entirely on an ugly but very small word in the English language—"if." His right hon. Friend said we would have that number "if the recruits were willing to come." But an hon. Gentleman who last night spoke from behind the Treasury Bench, and who spoke more ad rem than those in front of him, alluding to the First Army Reserve, who alone were liable to foreign service, said he would be inclined to wipe out the Second Class Reserve altogether, and that the men were not coming forward as we might reasonably expect. He (Lord Elcho) would state to the House what the result of the short service had been between 1st July and 1st February. In July, 1870, we had a first-class Army Reserve—it was of it only he spoke—they were the only men that could be used for foreign service; and we had a Second Class Reserve, which was mostly composed of pensioners. What was the state of that Reserve? Now, on July 1st the number of men was 2,397 of the First Class, on the 1st August it was 2,632, and on the 1st February last it was 3,695; so that, according to this Return, instead of their having 9,000 men, as was calculated upon, they would only have about 5,000. Now, why did not men enter the Reserves? Because the inducement was insufficient. The right hon. Gentleman said that Scotchmen, who were generally cautious and knew what was for their own interest, were entering readily upon the short-service system. He had reason to believe, however, upon the best authority, that a large proportion of the men who had thus entered did so under the belief that their service was counting towards pensions, and that in a Highland regiment enlistments were made under this misconception. The Recruiting Inspector said the reason why recruiting was so slow, was that inducements were not held out to men to enter the Army. His right hon. Friend and the Financial Secretary (Captain Vivian) had made merry over something which he (Lord Elcho) had not said in this House, but had written in some letters, reprinted, not by himself, but by a publisher in London. They taunted him with the length of time during which he had intruded upon the House. They did not touch upon anything he had said in that House, but referred to something written in a newspaper in the winter, and sneered at some plan which they called his, and which they had submitted to some actuaries at some office. Now, if the calculations of their actuaries on the plan were no more trustworthy than the calculations on the purchase system, he did not think much of them.


said, he had told the noble Lord that his scheme had been referred to Mr. Finlaison, whom the noble Lord would admit to be an actuary of some reputation.


hoped, then, that the calculation with respect to the purchase system would be referred to the same actuary. But the plan was not his own, but was that of Sir Hope Grant, the Quartermaster General, and with the view of getting men to join it appeared to him a most reasonable plan. The plan rested on the principle than in order to get men by voluntary enlistment, inducements must be hold out, either in the shape of sufficient pay or something like a pension or benefit for the service they went through. A great deal had been said to the effect that under the system of short service a much better class of men would be obtained for 14d. a day, and that they would be glad to give three years' service and then be liable for nine years more to be called on for £6 a-year; but the Recruiting Officer said that it did not appear that the men obtained for short service were of a different class from those enlisted for long service; the men taken appeared indifferent as to the term of service, but the majority of recruits looked forward to eventually obtaining a pension, and enlisted with that prospect before them. That was the case on the showing of the Recruiting Officer, and, therefore, the prospect of getting an Army of Reserve by short enlistments was very uncertain. There was one system of Reserve, and only one, which had been successful—that initiated by General Peel—and that was the Militia Reserve, or, as it should be more properly called, the Army Militia Reserve. That was a system under which men who enlisted into the Reserve received a bounty of £1 a-year, and during the five years of their engagement they were liable, in the event of war, to be mobilized, and sent to join the Army. That system, as regards the number of men, had been a success when everything else had failed. It was limited to 20,000 men, and they had been got. There was in that Reserve something like a system of economy—something like a way of making one shilling go three times further than by any other means. The fault of this Militia Reserve was that the men were too young possibly and too old, and in order to get them the medical examination was reduced; and the doctor who passed recruits into the Reserve got 2s. 6d. for rejecting a man, but 4s. for passing one. That seemed to be offering the doctor a premium for passing into the Army men who were physically unfitted for the service. It appeared to him that the House would do well to consider this question of the Militia Reserve, for he believed the Militia to be the backbone of the military system. This Militia Reserve was first suggested by General Peel, and no man stood higher in the opinion of the House and the country. That gallant Officer went out of office on the Household Suffrage question, and the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) afterwards passed the measure, which originated in the brain of General Peel. It was, however, General Peel's intention that for every man who volunteered for the Army Militia Reserve the officers commanding Militia regiments should be entitled to raise another man, so that the actual strength of the home Militia should not be diminished. The object was to insure a ready supply of men for the Militia Reserve, by not setting the Militia colonels against it, for no officer would like to lose his men. They were told that they had at this moment 139,000 Militia. They had nothing of the kind. Deducting the permanent Staff and the Army Militia Reserve, the Militia would number only about 100,000 men. Now, he ventured to think that, instead of raising these 10,000 additional men for the Regular Army, who might be here in this year and not in the next, let them establish General Peel's measure on an extended basis as he intended it to be, and then let them apply such rules and regulations to the Militia, that they might be sure of having trained and physically trustworthy soldiers. He would not have men in the Militia Reserve under 20 years of age, nor allow them to remain after 34 years of age. If they were admitted after a proper medical examination, 4s. being given for passing them and a like sum for rejecting them, and if they were then properly drilled, a useful body of men would be obtained. While keeping their cadres they would have 30,000, instead of 10,000, to fill up their attenuated regiments. The cost would be less. They would get 30,000 of the Militia Reserve for £100,000 less than 10,000 men of the Regular Army cost. The one would cost £278,000, the other £153,000. That was his paradox, and he hoped he had explained it satisfactorily to the House. Instead of reducing our strength, it would increase our strength. He wanted to add 5,000 men to the Artillery, and would establish something like a system of Reserve which would be found to work well. His object was totally different from that of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), who spoke last night. He wished to see the country strong. He wished to see the military system of this country properly organized on a sound and economical system, that would give the means of filling up the Army in the cheapest way. The Gentleman who spoke last night took a totally different view. The remedy of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) was to spend £3,000,000 not in breech-loaders, but in technical education. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) naturally sneered at everyone opposed to him—he furbished up the old rusty family sword, the swish of which had so often before been heard in this House when it was wielded by a more powerful hand. He said these panics were got up; that the outcry for larger armies was raised by a class in its own interest. ["Hear, hear!"] He wondered hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway were not ashamed of countenancing such statements; in their conscience they could not believe them. These Gentlemen, however, made a profession of sneering at what they called panic-mongers, and were always, both on the hustings and in the House, showing their superior courage by crying—"Who's afraid?" As to the eloquent peroration of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), in which he told them that if England were to disarm "wise men," by whom he supposed he meant Prince Bismarck— Would smile, and angels would descend, by which he concluded he meant a Prussian Army, he (Lord Elcho) could not derive much comfort from it. But as regarded panics, he thought they had most ground of complaint against the Prime Minister himself? What did he say in the speech which he delivered last night? He began by saying that these increased Estimates were owing to two causes—one the state of the world, the other the desire of the country for extensive change of its military system. He must say if that desire existed they had failed to meet it in any satisfactory manner. But he went on to say that these panics were a discredit to this country, little worthy of the masculine character of the people. Now, he (Lord Elcho) maintained that the discredit did not belong to the country, but to those who governed it. We had a military organization, with this frightful expenditure going on for years, which was in such a miserable state that it was a discredit, and rendered panic unavoidable when one looked narrowly into matters. His right hon. Friend the Minister for War made a speech on the 1st of August, in which he said that England never was so strong as she then was; yet, at the same time, he added 20,000 men to the Army; and he also boasted about the artillery, and said we had artillery for 60,000 men—not knowing, although there were those who ought to have informed him, that there was such a thing as the Field Equipment Book, and according to that he should have known there was not field artillery for 60,000 men. But, after saying England never was so strong, he not only added 20,000 men to the Army, but between August and the 1st of February he doubled our artillery. His calculation might have done for Lord Castlereagh's time; but it was out of date now. He repeated, such was the state of our military organization that it was an absolute discredit to those who governed the country, he did not care on what side of the House they sat; and the Prime Minister was not justified in saying that the people of this country were to be blamed for these periodical panics. He begged to move that this Vote be reduced by 10,000 men.

Amendment proposed, to leave out "135,047," in order to insert "125,047,"—(Lord Elcho,)—instead thereof.


said, the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) had taken great, but he thought unnecessary, pains to convince his hon. Friends on this side of the House that his object was very different from theirs. If those hon. Members would follow out the noble Lord's arithmetic, the result would be that they would arrive at very different conclusions from his. The noble Lord had no objection to quote very freely the speeches of those whose conduct he attacked; but he was not always very well pleased himself when his own speeches and letters were quoted against him. Now, he (Mr. Cardwell) thought he remembered passages in those speeches and letters which were quite inconsistent with the proposition with which the noble Lord concluded his speech. The noble Lord now proposed to reduce the numbers of the standing Army; but his great complaint in the autumn and winter was that—"Nothing had occurred within the last two years that could justify the reduction of our Regular Army;" that "the Secretary of State had begun at the wrong end, and the way in which he dealt with our small standing Army cannot be viewed as other than a very great, dangerous, and practical error in the application of a sound principle." That is, because in profound peace they had reduced Colonial regiments, and established the principle of larger numbers of cadres with a smaller number of men in each cadre, and, consequently, had not recruited up to the numbers of the regiments, thereby effecting a great reduction of men, they had begun at the wrong end, and adopted a very dangerous application of a sound principle. Then, speaking of the Regular Army, the noble Lord said—"It should be borne in mind that a force should not be lightly parted with which it takes so much time to raise." Now, the object of the noble Lord was not to save expenditure. It might be very well to say that 30,000 Militiamen would cost a little less than 10,000 of the Regular Army; but when the object of making the change was to effect a large addition to field artillery, and to introduce a large expenditure in the matter of horses, adding that cost, the balance would not be found on the right side. In the framing of the Estimates for this year, in obedience to the wish of the country and of the House, the considerable addition of £524,000 had been made to the expenditure upon the Reserve Forces, as compared with the Estimates for 1868–9; and as compared with the same Estimates, there was a diminution in the cost of the Regulars of £293,000. He (Mr. Cardwell) had made a mistake the other evening in overstating the latter amount. The decrease on the whole Army was 3,449 men, while the increase on the Militia was 53,000, and provision was made for an addition to the Militia Reserve of 10,000 men. He thought that 30,000 men out of the Militia, intended for the Militia Reserve, was as large an amount as it would be judicious to have; it was the amount provided for by the Act of Parliament—namely, one-fourth part of the whole Militia. [Lord ELCHO: Why not alter the law?] No doubt, it was quite easy for the House, if it wished, to alter the law; but it was not desirable to do it. He assumed that the House thought so when it passed the Bill limiting the Militia Reserve to the present number of men. If we add 30,000 men to our present Militia, we must do one of two things—we must either have many of our battalions so numerous that they would be too large to be commanded when the Reserve was with them, or they must be so much diminished when the Reserve was withdrawn from them, as to be too small. The truth was that the House, in adopting the present proposition of Militia Reserve, were guided by a conviction of what was expedient, and not by haphazard suggestions. With great deference to the noble Lord, the men of the Militia Reserve were not the best men it was possible to have; and what we wanted, and what the Government desired to obtain, were men who had had the advantage of a training in the Regular Army. The noble Lord complained of the Financial Secretary (Captain Vivian) criticizing a proposal contained in a published book, and not in any speech; but that was not the first time it had been heard of, for it had been made in the House a year before. It was proposed to him (Mr. Cardwell) to adopt the plan; and he ventured to say, on the spur of the moment, that the plan must necessarily be so costly that it would be impossible to entertain it. When it came to be examined by actuaries, according to the data furnished by the authors of the plan, it was found that the Reserve would have cost half as much again as all the Votes for the pay and provisions of the men in the present Estimates. The proposal, then, was expensive and not very efficient, for it would not give us a single Reserve man for seven years. When such plans as these were proposed, it was well to submit them to criticism, in order to show that they were undesirable as means of adding to the defence of the country. To his great surprise, he had been challenged again on the subject of artillery. Being a civilian, he did not pretend to give the House his opinions on the subject; but what he said he stated on the highest artillery authority. It was quite true there was a Meld Equipment Book in print, that these figures did not correspond with them; but the noble Lord, in one of his letters, had criticized the field equipment laid down, and had said that its proportions were excessive. He (Mr. Cardwell) was himself of that opinion, and had appointed a Committee to revise the book; they were revising it, and arriving at different proportions, and the proportions, which he stated on authority, were literally true.


said, his criticism was based entirely on the "English Field Equipment Book."


said, he declined to be judged by the book; he must be judged by the general practice of our Army, which had continued from the commencement of this century down to the present time. Colonel Hamley, a high military authority, said that a surplus of artillery was worse than useless; that it hampered the movements of a column, destroyed roads, perplexed a general, and embarrassed a retreat; and that an army of 60,000 might well be content with 180 guns. Now, the statement for which he had been subjected to so much criticism was that 180 guns was artillery enough for 60,000 men. The proposed addition of 5,224 men to the artillery and of 2,834 horses was based on the very best military advice, and with it we should have a full artillery equipment for 150,000 men. That was the highest number we could at any time expect to put into the field, and with an effective organization of our artillery Reserves we did not want artillery for garrison duty. To adopt the proposal of the noble Lord would be to defer passing men through the infantry in order to place them in the Reserves; it would not be an economical nor an efficient plan, and he trusted, therefore, that the House would adhere to the Resolution of the Committee, and would not pass the Amendment of the noble Lord.


said, he regretted that a question of so much, importance should be discussed with any semblance of party spirit. The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) had attributed no blame to the Government, but had only stated what was well known, that during the last 15 years £220,000,000 had been spent on the defences of the country for the Army, and yet we were in almost a defenceless position. He agreed that the Estimates were too large for peace and not enough for war. Before going into the question of panic, which was mentioned the other night, he would ask, what had been the cause of the extraordinary change that had taken place in the public mind during the last 12 months? They appeared to have been existing in a fool's paradise, for in reality they had not that means of defence which they imagined. He regretted that the panics which from time to time arose should have been attributed to the Clubs. They seemed to him rather to have arisen from a kind of instinctive feeling that came over the people that they were defenceless—it was a sort of phantom begotten by panic out of misrule. They were distinctly informed in July last, on good authority, when on the point of sending 20,000 men to Belgium—and it was the whole we could have sent—that we had guns for 30,000 men in an efficient state; but the question was, how many guns could have been actually embarked for Antwerp on 48 hours' notice? On every recurrence of these panics we voted men and voted money, and thrown it into the sea in fortifications, and then sank back into our original condition. Then another panic arose, and we went again through the same process. We wanted more and complete organization, and until we had it this country would be subject to constant panics and excessive expenditure. He did not find fault with the Government, but rather with the system at the War Office, which, without increasing our efficiency or our power, had increased our expenditure from £6,000,000 in 1835 to £16,000,000 at the present time; while in 1835 we had 129,000 men, and in 1871 134,000 men. He had no desire to find fault with the increase in the cavalry and artillery; but he did object to the increase in the infantry. Why did we require the 12,650 more infantry that appeared on the Estimates? It was said we had guns for 150,000 men; but, besides them, we had 139,000 Militia and 170,000 Volunteers, who were paraded as a part of the national force. They either meant something or nothing.—if they meant something, they ought to be properly equipped; and if they meant nothing, they ought to be wiped out as useless. If they were to be made available in case of difficulty, how were they to get their guns? 1,000 guns would be wanted if the whole enumerated were called out for service. This being the case, why should more men be enlisted? If the 7,000 who were still required were obtained they would be found good for nothing, because they would be raw recruits. If his right hon. Friend were short of infantry, would it not be more economically, as well as more constitutionally, to embody 15 or 20 battalions of Militia, and send, them to Aldershot for six months to be made into soldiers? He was not sure whether the existing law would sanction the right hon. Gentleman in doing that; but in case it did not, he felt convinced that the House would not hesitate to give him power to do so in case of necessity, for there was a great and wise objection on the part of the country to a constant increase of our standing Army. The First Lord of the Treasury said last night that one year we bought guns, and the next year horses. He presumed that in the following year the right hon. Gentleman would get the harness, and in another year the men; but the proper way would be to get the men and the horses first, and then the guns, yet the present system had existed ever since he had watched the course of public affairs. He, however, saw no reason why we should increase our armed force, and thereby incur an unnecessary expenditure, and he should, therefore, support the Motion of his noble Friend.


said, the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) had made a vigorous and dramatic speech which he looked upon as a revised and corrected repetition of his contributions to current literature, and of his addresses on other occasions. Everyone must recognize the industry and energy with which the noble Lord had applied himself to obtaining information on the important subject to which he had devoted his attention. The noble Lord had told the House that what he called his "facts" were acquired from sources that did not admit of being denied, explained away, or controverted. [Lord ELCHO said, he spoke of the facts, and not of the sources.] He accepted the noble Lord's explanation. With respect to the sources from which the facts were obtained he (Sir Henry Storks) confessed to having had some conversation with the noble Lord on military matters; but evidently the noble Lord had either derived very little information from him, or at all events he had misunderstood that which he wished to convoy. Last September the noble Lord stated that in the Prussian Army the proportion of field artillery was 4.5 per 1,000 men, and on that assertion he based his arguments as to the necessities of this country, holding that these figures could not be denied or controverted. The statement, however, was not correct; but in a recent speech the noble Lord accurately stated the proportion at 2.7 per 1,000 men. Then what became of the argument based on the former assertion?


was sorry to interrupt, but all this discussion was made to turn, not upon what he said in the House, but upon quotations from letters which he had written to the newspapers.


said, he naturally referred to what his noble Friend had written to the newspapers, because it was in those letters that he had persistently held up the War Department to so much reprobation, and he therefore thought himself justified in referring to them. With reference to what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz), no doubt last autumn the Secretary for War stated that we had field artillery sufficient for a force of 60,000 men, giving three guns for every 1,000 men, or rather more than the proportion allowed in Continental armies, and he (Sir Henry Storks) had no hesitation in saying that if it had been necessary to send a force to Belgium that force would have gone perfectly equipped in every respect. With respect to the Royal Artillery of the United Kingdom we had at the beginning of 1870, 10 batteries of horse artillery, 20 field batteries, 12 depôt garrison batteries, 52 garrison batteries, and a Coast Brigade, making 94 batteries, 180 guns, manned and horsed, 13,885 officers and men, and 2,966 horses. It was proposed that the Royal Artillery in the United Kingdom should in the present year consist of 16 batteries of Horse Artillery, 40 field batteries, 12 depôt batteries (two of which were Horse Artillery, three field artillery, and seven garrison artillery), 35 garrison batteries, and the Coast Brigade; making 103 batteries, consisting of 366 field guns, 18,392 officers and men, and 5,800 horses. It would therefore be observed that, instead of a total of 180 field guns, there would be 336 field guns, manned and horsed, exclusive of 30 guns in the depôt; and that the total number of men in the garrison brigades would be somewhat increased and the depôt largely so. The noble Lord remarked, a few nights since, that the alteration made by the Secretary for War in the field artillery consisted of bringing home horses and men from India and converting a certain number of garrison batteries into field batteries, at which, in one of the most sensational parts of his speech, the noble Lord said the House would "shudder." The noble Lord, had he investigated the subject thoroughly, would have found that the gunners of the Royal Artillery, except the Horse Artillery, were interchangeable, that the drivers were trained drivers, and that the gunners, who were dismounted gunners, had nothing to mount but the limbers. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for War had pointed out that when more field guns were wanted the men could be obtained from the garrison batteries, and the garrison batteries could be re-inforced by the Militia and the Volunteer Artillerymen. In view of the large augmentation of the field artillery the cadres had been reduced; but the right hon. Gentleman in reducing those cadres had acted upon the best advice—that of the Director of Artillery and the Adjutant General of Artillery. The present battery establishments of this country were in excess of those maintained in time of peace by the Continental Powers. For instance, the peace establishment of a French field battery was 137 officers and men, 83 horses, and 6 guns, and of a Prussian field battery 112 officers and men, 40 horses, and 4 guns; while that of an English field battery was 149 officers and men, 88 horses, and 6 guns, being only 3 men less that that of a Prussian battery in time of war. But it was said—"You have a force of 300,000 or 400,000 men, and, therefore, taking the proportion of 3 guns per 1,000 men, you ought to have 1,200 guns." He should like to know, however, whether any Continental Power kept such a force of guns on foot on a peace establishment. Every Power, and certainly England above all, should keep on foot a force of artillery sufficient for a manœuvring Army; but a large portion of our forces would necessarily have to be placed in our fortresses, and, therefore, could not be regarded as being in any way a manœuvring Army. The House would agree with him that under these circumstances the right hon. Gentleman had acted wisely in proposing to place our Artillery force on the footing mentioned in the Estimate. He (Sir Henry Storks) had also heard it said that we should have no guns in reserve; but the fact was that we should have equipped, and in store no less than 692 guns. In addition to those guns actually in existence it must be remembered that the gun and carriage factories at Woolwich could turn out field batteries at the rate of two per week, and that, in case of emergency, recourse could be had to the trade. Sir William Armstrong had informed him that at his works one, if not two batteries per week could be produced. If, therefore, four batteries of guns could be turned out every week, looking to the nature of guns, and to the expense incurred in looking after them and keeping them in order, it would simply be extravagance to keep more of them in store than was actually necessary. At the present time we had 80 guns of position which, with their harness, were ready to take the field—40 being at Woolwich and the others being distributed about the country at different places. It had been asked where was the harness and equipment for all these guns? In reply he begged to state that there were in store no less than 5,000 saddles, besides 10,000 sets of harness. Looking at the facility of producing these articles in any quantity, and to their perishable nature, he did not think it would be wise to keep a larger quantity in store. He must say, therefore, that he did not think that the Secretary of State, or the Department with which he was connected, deserved the criticism—should he say the hostile criticism—of the noble Lord—[Lord ELCHO: No.]—then he would say the advice of his candid Friend. He hoped that he had satisfied the House that neither the one nor the other had been as negligent as the noble Lord had represented them to have been.


said, there were differences of opinion as to the manner in which the Army should be rendered efficient, but there was one point on which they all agreed, and that was that this country ought to have a formidable force of artillery. The Government had shown their desire to render the artillery formidable by the augmentations which had already been made. But his complaint was that the augmentations had not been made in the right direction. They wished to effect their purpose by three means. They had withdrawn a certain number of batteries of Horse Artillery from India, and reduced a brigade of garrison artillery—by whose advice it was difficult to say—Certainly it was against the advice of the present Commander-in-Chief in India. He had heard it stated that it was by the advice of a distinguished General who had recently been elevated to the Peerage. But if that was the case, it was contrary to the spirit of the Memorandum which he issued immediately before his departure from the office of Commander-in-Chief in India. However, the thing was done, and the batteries were on their way home. Then, they had created a number of dummy batteries by taking garrison artillerymen and sending them into the field with recruit drivers and non-commissioned officers, who were utterly inexperienced with regard to mounted duties. The garrison gunners and officers were good in their way; they consisted of men who had selected that branch of the service because they had a partiality for it—they were highly intelligent men, who had undergone a great amount of training, but they knew nothing of the duty of mounted soldiers. He wished also to refer to the way in which the batteries of Horse Artillery were reduced. It was most mortifying to the officers of that branch of the service to be so starved for men as they were; and the measure was also breaking the hearts and ruining the morale of the non-commissioned officers and men. He ventured to state that the reductions which had been made in the Royal Artillery with the very best intentions on the part of the Government were very injurious indeed to the interests of the service, and they would be conferring a very great benefit on the officers of the Royal Artillery, and the service generally, if they took some steps to increase the numbers of those branches of the Army, the field batteries and the Royal Horse Artillery.

Question, "That '135,047' stand part of the Resolution," put, and agreed to.

Resolution agreed to.

Subsequent Resolutions agreed to.