§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Secretary Cardwell.)406
§ COLONEL ANSON
, in rising to move—That in any scheme for the abolition of Purchase in the Army the State as well as the Officers must forego the advantages hitherto derived from that system, and in order to give the State that unrestricted power over the Officers of the Army which it is desirable it should possess, and also in justice to the Officers of the Army themselves, the regulation value of their Commissions shall be at once returned to them,said, that objection had been taken to the form of his Resolution, and regret expressed by some hon. Members that he had not dealt with the Bill in a larger manner than his Resolution permitted. If he had had to deal with a Resolution on the second reading of the Bill, he should certainly have moved one to the effect that the Bill should be read the second time that day six months; but when they reached the stage of Committee, other considerations had to be taken into view. So great were the principles and interests involved in the measure, that it would be almost impossible to deal with the Bill as a whole, and it seemed to him that when the Secretary of State drew it up, he could have hardly understood the vastness of the interests it involved, and he thought it was a pity the right hon. Gentleman had not adopted the suggestion he had thrown out very early in the Session—that the Bill should be divided into two parts—the one relating to purchase, and the other embracing the remaining portions of the measure. The principal part of the Bill was the question of the abolition of purchase; and it was a curious fact that although they had had many Motions brought before the House as to the advisability of abolishing purchase, they had never yet had any discussion whatever on the mode in which it ought to be abolished, or on the interests involved as regarded the officers. Now, they had to consider not only the interests of the officers, but the discipline of the Army, which had always been the pride of this country, for one of the best features of our Army was the marvellous morale which had always existed among the officers and the extraordinary discipline of the service—matters which would be materially affected by that Bill. The Government Bill professed to do away with purchase in the Army, and he would admit that its proposals were fair, so far as officers intending to leave the service within the next few years were concerned; but it was grossly unjust to those officers who wished to remain in 407 the Army, and to whom they must look for the maintenance of the future discipline of the Army and the education of its officers. No alteration was proposed to be made by the Bill in regard to the position of the officers remaining in the service, and the scheme was, in fact, neither more nor less than a scheme of retirement. Hitherto officers had enjoyed a peculiar system of promotion, the effect of which had been that, after they had made themselves efficient, their promotion was perfectly independent of all exterior influence—either political, aristocratic, or other influence; and in this consisted the real secret why the purchase system had been so popular; yet the Government proposed to substitute for this system one of selection, which, however attractive it might be in theory, was utterly impracticable—a system antagonistic to the instincts of a soldier, and consequently hateful to him. Beyond, this, moreover, the Government proposed to interfere with other powers which officers had hitherto enjoyed—the power of exchanging, for instance. Now, this had proved of the utmost value to officers who, as in the English Army, were liable to serve in every quarter of the globe and in every variety of climate, and it was one of the points in which the Government Bill would unjustly interfere with the professional prospects and social life of officers in the Army. This was not proposed to be done in the non-purchase corps only, but also in that branch of the Army which had been described from the Treasury benches as being mortgaged to the officers for £8,000,000 sterling. He (Colonel Anson) must venture to think that the Prime Minister was altogether wrong in supposing, as he affirmed he did, in his speech on the second reading of the Bill, that the property which officers held in their commissions acted as a bar to Army reform; and that, notwithstanding the feeling of property, officers were always ready not only to submit to, but to assist in promoting real reforms in the service; but passing on to touch upon the pecuniary interest involved in the measure before the House, he should consider first the responsibility of the Government with regard to the purchase system, and explain what that system really was. Last winter several speeches on the subject were made by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), and the result of those deliverances 408 was simply to mislead the country upon the whole question, and to leave it in a far greater state of ignorance than it was before. The effect of the speeches upon the minds of the hearers of the hon. Gentleman was to lead them to suppose that, under the purchase system, whenever a vacancy occurred in a regiment, or an officer wished to leave the service, his commission was put up and sold to the highest bidder, than which nothing could be a more exaggerated view. Again, in The Edinburgh Review of January last, there appeared an article on the same subject, generally supposed to have been inspired by Lord Sandhurst, but containing no single word that was founded upon the slightest shadow of truth, in its description of the practical working of the purchase system. These were two illustrations of the way in which people were misled on this question, and he never could understand the object people had in view in acting as they did in this manner, until he heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in the debate on the second reading of this Bill, from which it appeared there was a reluctance to explain the principles of the Bill, or what the purchase system really was. That speech showed him that the object of those who took the line of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs and the writer in The Edinburgh Review was to place, if possible, the whole responsibility of the purchase system—whatever was bad or immoral in it—upon the shoulders of the officers, and so to relieve the Government from the responsibility of retaining what they hoped to persuade the country was an abuse, in the creating of which Parliament had had no hand. The Prime Minister had stated that the mortgage of £8,000,000 to the officers in the Army had originated by the incoming officers paying to the outgoing officers the worth of their places; but there could scarcely be a greater misapprehension of the case, or a more complete begging of the question. With regard to over-regulation prices, the simple passing of money from officer to officer had nothing immoral in it, beyond the mere fact of the State having nominally forbidden it, and if he had to deal with only one class of officers, he should be able to repudiate all desire to receive the over-regulation money provided they were at once paid the regulation price; but unfortunately there 409 were two classes of officers—those in the infantry and those in the cavalry—and by no fault of the present men, the over-regulation prices in the cavalry were far larger than in the infantry. It might have been thought, that when the question of regulation prices was disposed of, an appeal might be made to the generosity of the House of Commons to make some compensation to officers as regarded over-regulation money, or they might be dealt with according to the proposal of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz), which was the most statesmanlike that had yet been made. With respect, however, to regulation prices, which was the more important subject, as affecting the interests of all those officers who were to remain in the service, and upon whom the future efficiency of the Army would depend, the Prime Minister had endeavoured to make out that they stood in exactly the same relation as over-regulation prices—as transactions between officer and officer. It would be his duty to completely upset that theory of the right hon. Gentleman, because on that point much depended. What were regulation prices? One of the first duties of the State towards a standing Army was to insure the efficiency of the officers, and not the least important matter was to secure men in the prime of life, who could undergo the fatigue of military duty in any climate. In this country, and in this country alone, had they succeeded in obtaining such officers, and they had done it at a cost of £1,200,000 a-year; yet year after year had the Government come down to the House of Commons and asked for £300,000 only, in order to provide for the expense. How was this accomplished? The Government went to the officers of the Army and said—"If you like to subscribe for what the State ought to provide, you shall be allowed to go over the head of all the seniors in your regiment." That was an arrangement between the Government and the officers in the Army, and the officers in the Army could not say it to their fellow-officers; and that fact alone, he considered, fixed the responsibility of the transaction upon the Government. As his case, however, would be a poor one if it had to rest on that point alone, he would strengthen it by referring to another—namely, that of allowing officers who had not purchased 410 their commissions to sell them at the regulation prices. That was first permitted by a Royal Warrant of Queen Anne in 1711, and since then the system had been gradually extending. That was the first instance on record he could trace of the Government taking these purchases in their own hands, and since that time they had, year by year, taken more to the system, until, in 1766, Lord Barrington wrote an able letter protesting against its continuance; in 1823 and in 1833 the matter was the subject of discussion; and in 1839 a Royal Commission, which was presided over by the Duke of Wellington, went very fully into the subject, and decided against Lord Barrington's letter, and in favour of allowing non-purchase officers to sell their commissions. In 1838 or 1839 there arose the custom of allowing non-purchase officers to sell for £100 per annum, if on foreign service; and £50 per annum, if on home service. But this could not be a transaction between one officer and another officer, for the Government said to the non-purchase officer—"If you like to leave the service, we will give you £100 a-year for foreign, and £50 for home service;" and then they went to the officers who wanted to purchase and bargained with them, or, in other words, they bought of one officer at one price, and they sold to another at a different price; thus, the whole transaction was not between officer and officer, but between the Government and one officer, and then the Government and another officer. The first time that the Government began to make a profit out of the purchase system of the Army was in the year 1795. In that year, in order to provide for certain expenses, there was established the Half-pay Fund, which now existed under the name of the Reserve Fund, and by a Return which had been issued that day, it was shown that since 1840 that fund had amounted to £1,712,829, but, as far as he could trace — without having official documents at command—the profits of the purchase system had been £3,000,000 sterling since 1795. The system of making a profit out of the purchase and sale of commissions was never fully developed until 1854, when there was in office the first of a long succession of amiable Secretaries for War, not the least amiable of whom was the present right hon. head of the Department. 411 Well, what was done by Mr. Sidney Herbert, when the Crimean War broke out? The English Army was a small one; when war broke out it had to be rapidly increased, and, at the conclusion of hostilities, it had to be speedily diminished. Instead of providing transports for the soldiers, or making commissariat arrangements to keep them alive in the Crimea, Mr. Sidney Herbert was engaged in preparing a scheme for the reduction of the expenses at the close of the war, and with that view commissions were sold by the Government to the amount of £45,000. He himself had to pay, while serving in the Crimea, £1,100 to the Government, not to an officer, for his company, although he might have been shot the next day. Shortly after the Crimean War, great difficulty was experienced in providing officers for the cavalry regiments, and the Government, arriving at the conclusion that that difficulty was occasioned by the regulation prices being too high, determined to reduce it at a cost of between £300,000 and £400,000; but did the Government come to the House of Commons for the money? No; they made the purchase officers of the Army bear the expense not only of that, but of the other reforms effected in the Military Train, in the corps of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, in the corps of the Beefeaters, in the Royal Artillery, and in the Engineers. And lastly, although not least, an Under Secretary for War—not a Parliamentary Secretary, however—a captain in the Engineers, holding an appointment of £1,500 per annum in the Civil Service, and, therefore, unable to draw his half-pay, wishing to receive the sum of £1,800 for his commission, three wretched subalterns in a purchase corps were made to pay it. In order to raise funds necessary for these various reforms, death vacancies, which in fairness ought to have fallen to the chance of the non-purchase officers, had been sold by the Government, as well as full-pay retirements, and the commissions of 66 colonels commanding regiments, who had gone on half-pay during the last nine years, had been sold by the Government for £276,000. And this was what was called by the Prime Minister as being merely stewards in the transactions that occurred between the officers—if the Government took the part of a steward in 412 the matter at all it was that of an unjust steward. He need scarcely remind the House that the purchase officers of the Army were not fools—they were perfectly aware of the vast profit that the Government made out of the existing system, for the immoral part of which, at all events, the Government was wholly responsible. The purchase officers had borne in silence all the abuse that had been heaped upon them during the agitation that had arisen during the past winter with regard to this question, in consequence of the excellent discipline that was always maintained in the ranks of the Army; but when the Prime Minister came down to the House and endeavoured to shift the responsibility in the matter from the shoulders of the Government on to those of the officers, the last straw was added to the weight upon the camel's back, and they felt bound to come forward in their own defence.
I deny that the Government ever attempted to throw the responsibility on the officers.
§ COLONEL ANSON
said, that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that in the transactions between officers and officers the Government merely acted as a steward, was equivalent to throwing the responsibility for the system upon the officers. The Bill of the Government did not deprive the officers of what was called vested interests in the regulation value of their commissions, and, therefore, it was a hypocritical Bill, not doing that which it professed to perform; moreover, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Department had said that an unpaid service was the dearest, and that the system of traffic in a generous service ought to cease, and yet he proposed by his Bill to sell the rank of major-general, and to trade upon the lives of the officers. The fact was, that the Government refuted their own arguments by their Bill, for in dealing with the pecuniary injustice to the officers which would result from this Bill, he would point out, in the first place, how this measure would affect purchasing officers. When a purchasing officer paid various sums at different times for his commissions, he regarded all those payments as forming part of one large transaction, by which he hoped, on the faith of the agreement he entered into with the Government, to eventually 413 attain the object of his ambition—the command of his regiment; if such was the case, was he entitled to no compensation, when the agreement he had entered into in that hope was put an end to? Take the case of the wretched ensign who had just paid £450 for his commission—was he to be told that unless he retired at once he was to lose the whole of that amount, and that the value of his commission would be confiscated, in addition to his hopes for the future being destroyed? The case of a non-purchase officer was nearly as bad, because he had entered the service on the faith of a definite understanding that he was to receive £100 per annum for foreign, and £50 per annum for home service, and that at the end of 20 years he was to receive the full value of his commission, should he wish to sell, and now the Government told him that he was no longer to serve upon those terms, but upon others which were materially different. The Government said to him—"The value of your commission shall no longer be cumulative; we will not pay you what you have already earned; but we will take the chance of your dying." There never was a greater breach of faith on the part of any Government than in repudiating the payment of the £100 a-year, and the £50 a-year, without compromising the matter, and, at all events, paying down what the officer had already earned. Many of these men had allowed themselves to be purchased over, because they would not put themselves to personal inconvenience; and because they preferred waiting a few years longer and having the power of selling their commissions for full value, on the faith of the Royal Warrant; but by the new scheme they were deprived of their future chance of selling. There were very few men who went into the Army with the intention of purchasing all their commissions, and many poor men, with wives and families, had borrowed the money, in order to purchase their one commission, in the hope of recouping themselves by the sale of their commission on the attainment of a higher rank. This prospect was now destroyed, and it was a gross injustice to those men. The discontent the Bill had created among the officers of the Army had been very serious; and, if the Bill were carried in its present form, the discontent existing now was nothing to the discontent which 414 would exist 10 years hence, when officers, the value of whose commissions the Government had retained, would be serving side by side with officers who had come in under the new system. Fortunately, up to the present time the punishment of officers was almost unknown; but a case might arise in which two officers serving side by side might be tried for the same offence, dismissed the service, and disgraced, and one would lose the value of his commission, and the other would suffer no such loss. Again, how were they going to adapt the system of selection in future? Suppose, for example, that in a particular regiment the senior captain had purchased over the heads of three or four other captains, and had paid his £1,800, whereas the captains beneath him had paid nothing, under the system of selection at the will of the Secretary of State for War the position of these officers might be reversed, and the senior captain might see one of those beneath him promoted over his head; but was it not certain that such an occurrence would breed infinite jealousies and heart-burnings, tending to the utter extinction of the existing discipline and morale of the Army? Again, in regard to selection between our present and future officers, how would they be able to select officers to go over the heads of the present officers, if they were not going to return the money value of their commissions? Lastly, supposing war was to break out, and they had their Army half officered under the old system and half under the new, what would be the result? It was impossible to believe that there could be good feeling between officers serving side by side on the field on totally different terms. The Surveyor General of Ordnance had admitted in a speech he had made that officers on active service did not enter the field without thinking of the risk they ran in connection with the price of their commissions—that these vested interests presented themselves at every turn, and that no reform could be effected until the difficulty was removed. What was the meaning of that, but that the difficulty to be removed was the thought of risk present to the mind of the officer when he entered the field? As an officer of some experience in active service, quite equal, he thought, to that of the right hon. Gentleman, although he was greatly his (Colonel Anson's) superior 415 in rank, he must enter his most emphatic protest against such language, for he had never known an officer's pecuniary interest in his commission have the slightest effect upon the manner in which he discharged his duty; but he feared that the opinions expressed by the Government would also be the opinions of officers in future; and it must be remembered they ran risks from exposure and disease equal to, or greater than the dangers of actual hostilities. He had got nearly to the end of all that he had to say, and he thought he had shown that, under the proposed mode of abolishing purchase, great sentimental grievances would arise; and that the only rational, honest, straightforward, and sensible way of dealing with purchase was to get rid of the responsibility of regulation prices, and to put them down at once. His proposal was the foundation of almost every other Amendment on the Notice Paper, including those that stood in the names of the late Judge Advocate, of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz), the hon. Member for Caithness (Sir Tollemache Sinclair), the hon. and gallant Member for Norwich (Sir William Russell), and the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir George Jenkinson). The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, made a poetical quotation, to the effect that officers of the Army were not "covetous of gold;" but he had not that confidence in his cause which would enable him to say with Henry V.—Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,That he which hath no stomach to this fight,Let him depart; his passport shall be made,And crowns for convoys put into his purse.No; the right hon. Gentleman knew that the scheme he proposed was so unjust that he had to put in a limitation clause; and unless he had done so the officers would have departed, and the Consolidated Fund would have disappeared. The right hon. Gentleman had since seen the error of his way, and consequently by the withdrawal of this limitation clause the whole of his calculation of the cost of his scheme fell to the ground. He (Colonel Anson) believed, indeed, that if the Bill passed in its present form, half the officers of the Army would retire. No control over the expenditure consequent upon the Bill would be possible; and if 416 there should be a large amount of retirement, the taxation to meet the cost of abolition would all fall upon the ratepayers of the next two or three years, although the country would not receive any benefit for the next 25 years; whereas, if the Government decided to pay down the regulation price of the commissions, the exact amount could be ascertained, and distributed equally and justly over a space of 20, or 30, or 40 years. Besides that, we should get rid of what the Government condemned as a vicious system. He had trespassed so long upon the attention of the House, that he would abstain from touching upon some other points that he had intended to refer to; but there was one argument that had been made use of which required a moment's observation. It was said that the officers of the Army had no legal claim to the price of their commissions. He frankly admitted it; the officers had no legal position: and if the Secretary of State for War chose to deprive an officer of his pay, he had no legal ground of action whatever to recover it; but surely that fact ought to make the Government and the House all the more careful to deal with the subject in an equitable manner. He most sincerely hoped that they would have no threats from the Government, such as they had uttered in reference to other Motions this Session. The whole subject was one that ought not to have been approached, except after the most careful consideration both on the part of the Government and of the House. He trusted, therefore, that they would hear no threats of abandoning the Bill, and none of the character dropped the other night by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs, who threatened that if the officers refused the terms now offered, they would get worse ones next year. He would only say that he did not consider that hon. Gentleman to be the exponent of justice on the part of the nation; and for himself, he certainly should not diverge one jot from the line he had marked out for himself, on account of any threats from the hon. Member. He hoped that the Government would deal with this matter in a liberal spirit; because not only the pecuniary interests of the officers, but the character and tone of the Army were at stake, and he was quite satisfied now to leave the whole question in the hands of the House of 417 Commons. The hon. and gallant Gentleman concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
, in seconding the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend, said, he thought that the House would agree with him that a more clear and lucid statement had never been heard there than that which his hon. and gallant Friend had just given them. His hon. and gallant Friend had gone so minutely and so clearly into the details of this most complicated subject, that if he had spoken at even greater length the House would have been repaid for listening to him, as many hon. Gentlemen, up to a very late period, had little knowledge, if any, of the purchase question; and he would venture to echo the hope his hon. and gallant Friend had expressed, that the subject would be considered exclusively on its merits, and in no party spirit; for it affected far too deeply the interests and efficiency of the officers and the Army, to be made the occasion either of party action or bigoted feeling. Now, in regard to the over-regulation price, he gladly admitted that there was a wide difference between that and the regulation price; but, nevertheless, he was not prepared to admit that, in justice to the officers, it ought to be withheld, seeing that the Government had recognized their right to receive it, and a Royal Commission had reported that it could not be ignored. In such a case, the sense of justice of the House of Commons would tell them that the officers who, as a body of men, had, on all occasions, proved themselves worthy of the confidence of the country, ought not to be deprived of that which they had a fair right to receive. The abolition of purchase was now proposed, not in the interest of the officers, but of the public at large; and, for his own part, he would like to have seen the whole of the money paid down; but as that could not be done, let them at least pay the regulation price which had been exacted by the State from every officer before he received his commission. The plan of the Government, he must say, was singularly injudicious and unjust in another respect. The officer who decided to retire could be paid down; but upon the officer who preferred to remain—and who, in the majority of cases, would by that mere act prove himself attached to his profession 418 and hopeful of rising in it—upon him would fall the whole injustice perpetrated by the Bill; and suppose he went abroad and died, would the officers beneath him be benefited? Not at all; for the price of the commission was to go into the pockets of the State, to pay for that scheme of retirement of which they had as yet heard nothing. Surely, in bare justice, the officer had the right to expect that, if he died, the price of his commission would be paid to his relatives, instead of being absorbed for the benefit of the State. It had been said that it would be unjust, if they were to return to an officer the money which he had paid in purchasing over the heads of other officers; but a more fallacious statement could hardly be imagined. Suppose, for example, that Major A had purchased over Captain B, would he have obtained the superior post unless he had been a man of good character and fit for the position? Certainly not. Was it not a fact, also, that Captain B had risen to that position by this very purchase system? How, then, could it be argued that Major A ought to be placed on the same footing as Captain B? Now, he wished to point out that the Bill must be considered as a whole, and especially in regard to its effect upon the future position of our Army. If a war was to break out 10 years hence, their Army would be commanded by a large number of officers who had not purchased, and by a larger number that had. What sort of feeling could exist between them? Would the officers who had to face the perils of the battle-field, with the whole price of their commissions round their necks, feel no discontent when they compared their position with that of the officers who had absolutely no pecuniary interests at stake? It was well known that officers were very loth to make a parade of their grievances; but he could assure the House that in every regiment and in every mess-room the injustice of the Government Bill was keenly felt, and that feeling would gather force as time rolled on. Then, again, the question of selection was so mixed up with that of purchase that they could not be separated. Let the Secretary of War look back a moment, and see how the principle of selection had worked. Was there a single instance in regard of an officer commanding a regiment having 419 failed to do his duty in the face of the enemy? But were there not many cases of the higher officers having not failed in their duty, but failed to do it to complete satisfaction? When promotion went by selection, the men who stood the best chance of favourable notice were those who were on the Staff, or under the eye of the general; while many a poor commanding officer of great capability had no witness to see or to report his deeds of successful skill and valour. Now, in regard to selection, he would only mention one instance, and that one had been afforded him by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) himself. He was not going to say a word against the individual whom the right hon. Gentleman had thought fit to promote; but he only wished to show how easy it was, when a man had the opportunity of doing a special service, to promote him over the heads of his fellows. He would take the case of a certain gentleman in the War Office, who had been of the utmost use to the right hon. Gentleman, who was, in War Office parlance, called an ensign, or one of the third class of clerks. He was promoted to be lieutenant-colonel—namely, a superior over the heads of all the other clerks in the War Office, simply because he had been of service to the right hon. Gentleman. In saying what he had said, he believed that gentleman to be a man of great ability and experience, and merely mentioned the circumstance to show that it was easy to see the merits of one man who was close at home, and not to see the merits of another who was at a distance. Therefore he submitted that the system of selection might be carried to such an extent as to be very prejudicial to the service. Now, he would, go back for one moment to the Crimean War. Before that war the strength of a regiment was something like 850 men; but when the war broke out the regiment was raised to 1,000, or 10 companies of 100 men each. There was one particular regiment—the 2nd battalion of the Rifle Brigade—which went out to the Crimea, and it received 150 volunteers from the 1st battalion of the Rifle Brigade, many of them being old and disciplined soldiers. What happened? The regiment was discontented at having 15 per cent of a different regiment placed amongst the 850. He now came to what happened in July last. The right hon. Gentleman 420 made a statement, after the celebrated "Flying Column" had been to Wimbledon, to the effect that the Army was never in a more efficient state than it was at that moment. Now, he believed that if the right hon. Gentleman had spoken in August he never would have made that statement at all, for what occurred immediately afterwards? He came down to the House and asked for an increase of 20,000 men, and an expenditure of £2,000,000 for that purpose and for the Navy. The object was to make the regiments, which were 500 strong instead of 850, up to the fighting quantity. Now, what would happen in the course of five years if we were called upon to go to war? We should have officers in regiments who had still got the purchase money hanging round their necks; we should have the system of selection in force; and we should have regiments 500 strong. But composed of what? Why, of lads from 17 to 20, totally unfit to do their duty before an enemy. And how were the regiments to be made up to 1,000? The right hon. Gentleman hoped to get them from the Reserve; and by that means we should have 500 men, drawn from all parts, sent down to different regiments. He had no fear of any invasion of this country, but we might have to send an Army to Canada or to India; and in what position should we be if we had to send out, without warning, men under 20 years of age, and Reserve men, who knew nothing of the officers commanding them, and under a colonel, perhaps, just selected? It had been said that the Prussian system was perfect; no doubt it was. But could we carry it out? Conscription was repudiated; but unless we had that or longer enlistment, we must signally fail. How did Prussia act? She brought her men together, they knew each other and their officers, and were formed into one homogeneous mass, which the right hon. Gentleman had not attempted to do in the case of our Army. Would our case be at all the same? The Reserve men he might think of getting would probably be married, or men with lucrative appointments, who would try to evade their obligations when they knew they were about to be sent to distant parts of the globe. The whole question was one of so serious a nature that he had ventured to bring it briefly before the House, as 421 he thought it demanded, and would, he hoped, receive the fullest consideration. Early in the Session the right hon. Gentleman made a speech which was well thought of both by the House and the country, and if he had carried that speech into practice there would have been nothing to complain of; but the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman failed in any way to correspond with the sentiments of that speech, and it would not, if passed, weld into one homogeneous whole the Army of which they were all so proud, but which was still capable of improvement in some particulars. He had two situations to choose from—the rock and the sand. He had chosen to build on the sand; and it was to be hoped that when the wind should blow and the waves should rise, it would be to drive the right hon. Gentleman from the post which he now occupied, and not end in the ruin of the Army and the humiliation of the nation.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in any scheme for the abolition of Purchase in the Army the State as well as the Officers must forego the advantages hitherto derived from that system, and in order to give the State that unrestricted power over the Officers of the Army which it is desirable it should possess, and also in justice to the Officers of the Army themselves, the regulation value of their Commissions shall be at once returned to them,"—(Colonel Anson,)
said, no one in that House, or out of it, had a greater right to speak for the officers of the British Army than was possessed by the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Colonel Anson), who had gained the right by distinguished service both in peace and war, and had proved himself a gallant soldier and an able and accomplished officer; if, therefore, he should combat the views of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, he should do so with great diffidence, as the subject was one involving great technical complications. It was not his duty to follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman into the question of the abolition of purchase, for that question had already been fully debated, and had been unanimously determined. ["No, no!"] He said he had a right to assume that to be the case; because, although individual Members might have raised their voices 422 against the proposals, not one had challenged a division on the second reading of the Bill, which was agreed to without a division. He would not enter into the history of purchase, for the House had only to deal with the question as it existed; and having decided on the abolition of purchase, the question was how to carry it out with equity both to the officers and to the State. He was glad to hear the hon. and gallant Gentleman admit that the officers had no legal rights in relation to their commissions, because a good deal of indignation had, both in that House and out of it, been heaped upon the present scheme, on account of its interference with certain alleged rights of property. Now, on several occasions, and under many circumstances, what had been called the rights of officers had been interfered with when the interests of the State required it; but the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley had never raised his voice on behalf of the officers at the time the changes were made. This was the case when, in 1854, the professional rights of certain colonels were interfered with; it was the case in 1858, when what was called the Distinguished Service Warrant was issued; and it was the case again in 1862, when alterations were made in certain allowances made to officers serving at home and abroad. Although the officers of the Army had no legal right when the Government contemplated such a change as that proposed by the Bill, the Government was desirous of insuring that the interests of officers of the Army should not be unfairly interfered with; and it was the duty of the Government to conceive such a measure in a fair and generous spirit, and he believed he could show that this Bill was so conceived. The question which the House had now to deal with was simply this—not that of organization, but that of compensation. There were two propositions before the House—that of the Government, and that of the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley; and he wished to explain the effect of these propositions, both on the officers of the Army and on the public. In carrying out the abolition of purchase it was necessary to consider what were the pecuniary interests of the officers. They were four. In the first place, there was the regulation price; and it did not matter, for the present purpose, whether 423 the commission had been obtained from an officer or direct from the Government; nor did it matter whether the Reserve Fund had been well or ill-applied. The second point was the £100 and £50 for foreign and home service; the third matter for consideration was the over-regulation price which had been paid; and the fourth, the interest which might have been obtained in the over-regulation price in respect of commissions obtained for regulation price, or without any payment. In weighing the position of any officer of the Army with regard to this Bill, it was important to consider what his position would have been had it never been introduced. To obtain the regulation and over-regulation money, an officer would have had to retire absolutely from the Army, and he would not have received it one moment before retirement. If he desired to retain his connection with the Army so as to go again upon active service if occasion offered, he would obtain only the over-regulation price, and he could not obtain the regulation price without going on full pay again and leaving the service. That was the precise position of officers of the Army, provided things went smoothly; but contingencies occasionally arose to interfere with this course of things. If the officer next below that one desiring to sell out announced his intention of "sticking to the regulations," as the phrase went, the officer desiring to sell out would be obliged either to remain in the service against his will, to sell at the regulation price and lose the over-regulation money, or to exchange into another regiment, where his proposals would be more acceptable, and sell out for regulation and over-regulation money. The next contingency that might arise was that of war. In case of war, as was notorious, the over-regulation price was very much depreciated in value, if it did not become entirely worthless. The third contingency was that of climate; and here, also, the over-regulation price went down, for instance, on a regiment being ordered to the East or West Indies. These were the various contingencies under which officers might suffer. Now, what had the Government done with regard to these precarious interests? Why, the Government proposed to convert these precarious interests into a guaranteed interest, based on the good faith of Parliament 424 and the country. The Government said to the officers of purchase corps—"Instead of leaving you in doubt as to what your commission maybe worth, we tell you that in future you may sell, whether there be war or not, and no matter in what part of the world your regiment may be, at the full price, including over-regulation money, and you may sell at your own time and without the trouble of exchanging." The Government also promised under the Bill to secure everything a man could get under the Warrant granting £100 and £50 for foreign and home service; and more than that, to count an officer's time of service in this respect after the passing of the Bill. For instance, a lieutenant, having purchased his commission before the passing of the Bill, and having had 12 years' foreign service, on becoming a captain would get £1,200 for his commission, instead of £700. In the same way, a captain who had purchased his commission on the passing of this Bill, and had served only 12 years, would be entitled to only £1,200; but, if he put in six years more of foreign service, the Bill proposed to give him his full money, £1,800. It was also proposed that a Commission should be appointed to appraise the full value of every officer's commission and over-regulation, and pay that, irrespective of all contingencies. Under these circumstances, how could it be maintained that the Bill had been conceived in a spirit of gross injustice? He defied the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Colonel Anson) to prove that it had been conceived in any other than a spirit of generosity to the Army; or, that the banking account of any officer would be affected by the Bill injuriously. The Bill would be most beneficial to officers of every rank in the Army, who might be placed in three categories: the lieutenant-colonel, who was at the head of the purchase officers; other officers, who could purchase their commissions; and those officers who could not purchase their commissions. To the lieutenant-colonel the Bill gave everything he could have obtained had no Bill been introduced; but it would be given to him exactly when he desired it, and without any rebate, on account of contingencies at present likely to affect his position unfavourably. To the next class the Bill said—"If you are pro- 425 fessionally fit you shall succeed your superior officer at about the time you would otherwise have done, and you shall have promotion without paying for it." And to the non-purchase officer, the Bill said—"Whereas the vacancies by which you might have obtained promotion were few and far between, henceforth poverty shall be no barrier to you, provided you are professionally fit for the position open to you." The Bill, in fact, proposed that the country should do for non-purchase officers what a good and considerate guardian would wish to do for his ward. One hon. Member had stated that the Bill would be unprofitable to the Army; but if it had been announced some months ago, in bare words, that purchase was to be abolished, the first feeling would have been one of alarm, and the question with them then would have been—"What should we lose?" But now it would seem that the question had changed, and the hon. and gallant Member on their behalf would be disposed to say—"What can we make?" ["No!"] That was, in effect, what his arguments and his Amendment came to. They were told that that Bill was causing great discontent among the officers of the Army; but why was that? Because certain gentlemen—perhaps not actuated by such disinterested motives as the hon. and gallant Member—were agitating the Army. Some weeks ago the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley asked the Secretary of State for War whether officers of the Army might communicate with Members of Parliament, and criticize the Bill on points affecting their pecuniary interests and future prospects in their profession; and the Secretary of State for War replied that he trusted the hon. and gallant Member would give no countenance to anything that would prejudice the good order and military discipline of the service; and that it was quite possible for any officer to communicate with a Member of that House on the subject of the Bill without incurring the reproach of being party to any such breach of discipline. Upon that the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley sent a circular round to the officers of the Army generally, a copy of which he held in his hand. [Colonel ANSON: Is it not marked private?] It is; and if the hon. and gallant Member objected, he would not read the circular. 426 [Colonel ANSON: I do not object.] The circular was as follows:—
§ "Dudley House, Park Lane, March 3.
§ "Sir,—There is considerable discussion going on just now as to whether the officers in the Army would, in the event of purchase being abolished, willingly accept the regulation value of their commissions, to be paid on the day appointed for purchase to cease, waiving all future rights to sell, and all claims to over-regulation money. Would you kindly inform me whether such a compromise would meet with your approval, or whether you would prefer the Government scheme, taking your chance of being able to sell and leave the service on some future day, receiving the present value of your commission, with any over-regulation price you may have paid?—I remain, yours faithfully,
§ "A. ANSON."
§ "P.S.—I have the sanction of the Duke of Cambridge and Secretary of State for War for communicating with officers on this subject. It is most important that the feelings of officers should be ascertained.
§ "A. A."
§ On that document he (Captain Vivian) had only one or two observations to make. He entirely acquitted the hon. and gallant Member of any such intention; but most persons on reading that circular would infer that its author was the authorized agent of the Secretary of State in sending it round. Moreover, the circular did not state the case of the Government quite fairly, because it said the officers were to take their chance of getting any over-regulation money they might have paid for their commissions; whereas the actual proposal of the Government was to pay to the officer the customary over-regulation price, whether he had paid it or not. The hon. and gallant Member further said the officers of the Army approved his scheme, and preferred it to that of the Government. Well, the hon. and gallant Member's proposal, in simple words, was this—Whereas the Government would pay the officers £2,000 at some future day, would they not rather prefer to take £1,000 now? He was not surprised at officers accepting such an offer, for they all knew the fascinations of ready money to many men, whether rich or poor, and even rich men sometimes felt that fascination most strongly. That was not the first time that crisp banknotes had been flaunted in the face of officers of the Army. ["Oh, oh!"] He acquitted the hon. and gallant Member of any such intention; but the officers of the Army had been and were tempted by offers to forego prospective interests for the sake of immediate and present 427 pecuniary advantages. When, however, Government were proposing their scheme that was not the way in which they could go to the officers of the Army; they could not go and try to barter with them for their pecuniary interests. The Government said that if the House and the country were prepared to accept such a great change as that, they must also be prepared to pay every farthing to which the officers were entitled; and could not deprive them of the large sums they had invested in their commissions. The hon. and gallant Member had especially referred to officers of the cavalry and the Guards as being affected by this proposal.
§ COLONEL ANSON
said, it might save the hon. and gallant Gentleman some trouble if he stated that he sent out his circular for his own information, and because he was anxious for a compromise. He had understood that Members of the Government held that if there was to be a compromise it must come from the officers.
said, he did not know what the hon. and gallant Member had heard attributed to him, nor did he question his right to send the circular round; but he asserted that the circular did not fairly describe the scheme of the Government, and that many men would, no doubt, be willing to sacrifice a large future advantage to obtain a sum of ready money. The hon. and gallant Member knew that his own first proposal was not so popular, because he had changed his front.
§ COLONEL ANSON
said, he had never made a proposal. He had merely asked for the expression of opinion, without pledging himself in any form whatever.
said, he was not alluding to the proposition of the hon. and gallant Member to the officers, but to his proposals to the House; the first of which had been a Motion clearly stating that the sums to be returned to the officers of the Army should be payment of the regulation price; but his second Motion was very different. In his Resolution the hon. and gallant Member said—That in any scheme for the abolition of purchase in the Army the State as well as the Officers must forego the advantages hitherto derived from that system, and in order to give the State that unrestricted power over the Officers of the Army which it is desirable it should possess, and also in justice to the Officers of the Army themselves, 428 the regulation value of their commissions shall be at once returned to them.That did not say that the over-regulation price should not be returned to the officers at some future day, nor that the regulation price to be returnable was to be returned to officers on full-pay only. The effect of the Motion would be that they would pay every officer the regulation price of his commission at once; that they would pay each officer on his leaving the service the over-regulation price; and that they would pay to officers on half-pay the regulation price of their commissions that day. He was anxious to show the House what would be the effect of the proposition of the hon. and gallant Gentleman upon the officers and upon the country as compared with that of the Government proposal. By the latter proposal, whenever an officer desired to obtain the price of his commission, he could only do so by retiring, and thus creating a vacancy which would enable the officers beneath him to advance a step; whereas by that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, the officer would not only get his money, but he would retain his commission, and thus the officers beneath him would not obtain their promotion. And how would the plan of the hon. and gallant Gentleman answer with regard to half-pay officers? Why, if it were adopted, hundreds of officers on half-pay would receive money to which they had not the slightest just claim, while the country would still be saddled with their half-pay. Take the hon. and gallant Gentleman's own case. It was unnecessary for him to say that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was, of course, too high-minded to have brought forward this Motion in his own personal interest, and that he merely referred to his case as an illustration of what might occur with regard to others, without, for a moment, intending to impute any selfish motive to the hon. and gallant Gentleman in drawing the attention of the House to this matter. The value of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's commission was £2,300, which he would at once obtain under the Government scheme if he chose to retire when upon full-pay; but under his own proposal the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not only get his £2,300, to which as being on half-pay he had no right, but the country would have to pay him his half-pay 429 for life in addition. And, further, if the colonels who were upon half-pay were to receive the value of their commissions, why should not the generals over them be entitled to equal consideration: in fact, the hon. and gallant Admiral opposite (Sir John Hay) had given notice of his intention to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, why he was not going to recoup these generals as well as the other officers of the Army the value they had paid for their commissions in the course of their career. Then as to the cost of the respective schemes. The capitalized sum required under the Government scheme to buy up the interests of the officers, including the over-regulation prices, would be £7,214,646; whereas the sum which would be required under the scheme of the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be £12,074,384, being a difference in favour of the Government scheme of £4,859,738. [Major General Sir PERCY HERBERT: What is the basis of that calculation?] That calculation, of course, included the over-regulation as well as the regulation prices, and was based on the supposition that the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was to be carried out; for he (Captain Vivian) considered it was his duty to show what would be the effect of that Motion if adopted. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the scheme of the Government would only benefit those officers who wished to leave the service, and that it would entail hardship upon the working men in the Army. He admitted that those officers who retired from the service would receive exactly the same sum as they would if the Bill were not to be passed; but, on the other hand, the working men in the Army were to be encouraged by making their future promotion dependent upon zeal and ability, and by rendering their poverty no bar to their advancement. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had stated from his own personal knowledge that the Government scheme was unpopular among the officers in the Army; but that view of the case was not supported by the state of the commission market. Although the intentions of the Government on the subject were well known, being made in February, and publicly discussed within a fortnight afterwards, yet he found that the prices for commissions were not only not less, 430 but that they were actually more than they were before the Bill was introduced; and he defied the hon. and gallant Gentleman to prove his statement dependent upon this fact. In one instance the commission of a lieutenant-colonel in a cavalry regiment had fetched the large sum of £15,500, and he knew of two cases where the lieutenant-colonelcies of two infantry regiments fetched £1,200 more than the ordinary over-regulation price. If officers believed that their pecuniary interests were about to be so injuriously affected by the Government measure as was supposed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, it was strange that they should be willing to risk these large sums with their eyes open. He, therefore, asked the House of Commons to resist this Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman: first, because if adopted it would operate unjustly upon the interests of a large number of officers in the service, and, secondly, because it would involve the application of a large sum of public money to purposes to which it ought not to be applied; and he asked them, on the other hand, to accept the proposal of the Government, because he believed that it would prove, as it was intended to be, a wise, an honest, and a generous scheme.
§ VISCOUNT ROYSTON
said, he was unable to give his assent to the opinions which had been urged by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Vivian). In his opinion, the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley was simple and straightforward, for he had never understood that the hon. and gallant Member meant by his statement to imply that the over-regulation money was to be paid at the present moment. The Government scheme, according to the calculation of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Financial Secretary, would involve the cost of £7,214,646 capitalized money; whereas the scheme of the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley would cost £12,074,384, making the Government scheme apparently the cheaper one by about £4,800,000. He thought the figures thus given were calculated to mislead, rather than to enlighten; because the statement seemed to imply that the hon. and gallant Member was demanding the over-regulation money to be paid down at the present moment.
No; I said that the scheme of the hon. and gallant Gentleman would commit the House to pay the regulation money down, and to pay the over-regulation money when the officers left the service.
§ VISCOUNT ROYSTON
The hon. and gallant Gentleman had anyhow argued that point on assumption, because there was not one word of it in the Resolution before the House. He (Viscount Royston) simply wished to clear away the illusion and mystification which the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Vivian) had thrown around the Motion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman's (Colonel Anson's) scheme was simply this—if the Government took the whole onus arising from the abolition of purchase on themselves, they ought to be prepared to pay down the regulation claims at once, and then to start de novo for the future: that was but a fair and just arrangement under the circumstances. The hon. and gallant Member the Financial Secretary, on the second reading of this Bill, said that the system of purchase had invariably stood in the way of any improvement the Government might think it necessary to introduce into the Army. If that was the case, why not at once do away with that system, and pay off every claim of the officers of the Army? He (Viscount Royston) would go the length of saying that the whole sums invested by the officers of the Army should at once be paid by the Government; that he believed to be the feeling, not only to the country generally, but of the officers themselves. He considered that the taunts of the hon. and gallant Member the Financial Secretary were just as flimsy as the bank notes of which he spoke, and unworthy of any Minister of the Crown. Were officers to be taunted, because they simply wished to get their own money back which they had invested? That was a money question from beginning to end, and must be treated as such, and he could not, moreover, agree with the Government, that the abolition of the purchase system would have the effect of renovating and improving the ranks of the Army. The hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke of the proprietary rights of officers, to which he had the greatest objection. Well, by declining to pay the money down, the Government were practically leaving the officers in the possession of those proprietary 432 rights to which they so much objected, He (Viscount Royston) endeavoured to procure the best information he could as to the money cost of the scheme of the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley, and the calculation was, that they would get in 25 years, by the sinking fund, sufficient to pay off the whole amount by £600,000 a-year. A major in the Army who served 18 years—namely, nine years on foreign service and nine years at home, would receive, when he retired, his £900 for the foreign service and £450 for the home, making altogether £1,350. Now, under the old system, he would receive something like £3,000 or £4,000. Further, as to the non-purchase officers, he denied that this measure would prove a boon to them, for under the old system, those officers had always something to look forward to. He thought that the House had reason to complain of the scanty information given by the Bill itself, for they would have been in the dark as to its precise meaning, but for the many supplemental statements made from time to time by the Members of the Government. He did not know, until he had entered the House that day, that the Government had withdrawn their propositions in regard to the limitation of sales. He thought that withdrawal would be a source of great relief to the officers generally; and the Government, in his opinion, had raised a difficulty to themselves, in their proposition, for which there was no necessity. He had entered the Army with the intention of not making it a durable profession, and during his service he had witnessed one of the most extraordinary campaigns in India that had ever taken place; and though he had gained very little by the actual service he had undergone, yet the society of the distinguished officers into which he was thrown had been a great benefit to him. He thought that the advantage of the present system was, that it admitted into the Army gentlemen who had no wish to make it a permanent profession, and he thought the system of short service was a good one both for officers and men. Sir William Napier had expressed an opinion highly favourable to the purchase system, if it were not pushed too far; it had done much to make the British Army one of the best that ever entered the field, and the British officers superior to those of any other Army. In 433 conclusion, the noble Lord expressed his belief that the Government were not likely to maintain the superiority of the British Army by breaking down a system which had been of so much benefit to the country.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he could not support the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Colonel Anson). Two distinct propositions were involved: the paying down at once for regulation prices; and at once or at some future time for over-regulation prices. He admitted that those who had purchased for over-regulation prices had not been guilty of an immoral act; but the fact that, by so doing, they had acted contrary to the law was a sufficient reason why the House of Commons should not condone that violation of the law. He was of opinion that they could not disturb the present system of purchase, without making some immediate arrangement with the officers of the Army which would satisfy them and promote the public interests. It would be, no doubt, a great boon to the officers of the Army to have the price of their commissions paid down, because it would give them a sum of money which in some after time they might not receive. By paying the regulation price at once, they more than compensated them for any loss from not being compensated for over-regulation price. They ought, however, to go into Committee on the Bill, and carefully consider it and the Amendments on the Paper; but, in voting for the measure of the Government, he had not much confidence as to the result. He expressed the opinion entertained by a great number of persons out-of-doors, when he stated there was no confidence that anything that might be done in connection with the Bill would be of a satisfactory character unless they struck at the head of our Army administration, and removed the supreme control from the present Commander-in-Chief. He voted against the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bewdley, because he objected to their dealing with the question of compromise piecemeal. It should be known that, if the money was paid down for regulation prices, it must be on the distinct understanding that no money was to be paid for over-regulation prices. If that compromise was accepted, it would be only reasonable that the money required for 434 regulation prices, to secure what was considered would be a great benefit for the country, should not be raised at once, but should be spread over a number of years by means of Terminable Annuities.
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, the speech delivered that night by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Financial Secretary of the War Department showed how necessary it was that the Government should have given to the House some idea what it was intended to be carried out by the Bill, considering that no one appeared to know what the details of the Bill were. His right hon. and gallant Friend the Surveyor General of Ordnance had spoken of professional officers—he supposed those who did not purchase, and who were more likely to remain in the Army than others; but the manner in which they had been hitherto treated by the Government did not give them any very great encouragement for the future. His right hon. and gallant Friend mentioned, amongst others, the case of Lieutenant Wright, of the 9th Regiment, who had been passed over, he believed, 11 times. Now, it so happened that Lieutenant Wright was one of those officers he did all he could to befriend; but he utterly failed, and he was bound, to say that up to that moment, this officer had met with every possible discouragement; not only that, but some four years ago he brought before the House the case of five officers, and moved to the effect that no money consideration should interfere with their prospects; for those officers had the mortification of being purchased over several times. He was glad his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bewdley had called in question the term "highest bidder," so that the minds of some persons might be disabused of the idea that commissions in the Army were bought like a horse at Tattersall's. That expression was not in accordance with fact; for instead of selling to the highest bidder, an officer disposed of his commission to the first who was prepared to purchase it. He rejoiced, also, to find that the question of limitation had been completely set aside, and that an officer would be at liberty to do what he pleased, as he had hitherto been. As to the Motion before the House, he hoped the Government would meet the views of his hon. and gallant Friend, for it was 435 only fair that the payment should be made at once, and that every officer should be on the same level one with another. Unless that were done great dissatisfaction would be the result. He wished to say a few words about the block of promotion in the scientific corps of the Army. There were 620 subalterns in the Royal Artillery; of these 15 were of 14 years' service, 18 of 13 years' service, 46 of 12 years' service, and 68 of 11 years' service; last year there were five subalterns out of the 620 promoted to companies in the Royal Artillery, and four this year. He had sat on a Committee, which had recommended certain things to be done for the officers of the Artillery and the Engineers, and the officers were perfectly satisfied with what the Committee recommended; but it had not been carried out, because it was said to be so expensive. Now, the Artillery and Engineers were supposed to be about one-eighth of the whole Army; and if the country could not afford to do common justice to the officers of the scientific corps, how was a block of that kind ever to be removed when the remaining seven-eighths of the Army was placed in a similar position? Then again, in corroboration of what he had stated, a Royal Commission, composed of all parties, had reported on the subject of over-purchase, to the effect that it had existed so long, and had been recognized by so many Governments, that to ignore it was utterly impossible. He should, therefore, support the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bewdley.
§ MR. M. CHAMBERS
said, he took exception to the terms of the Motion, which, to his mind, were not explicit enough; and, in regard to over-regulation prices, he would say that there was a great moral question connected with their consideration. For many years whenever an officer sold his commission he and the purchaser had to sign a statement declaring, on their honour, that they did not receive nor give above the regulation price; yet it was notorious that commissions and even promotions were bought and sold even in violation of even the Army regulations, and it was difficult to understand how this practice could be reconciled with that strict sense of honour for which the military profession were remarkable. Now, if we wished to learn a lesson—a 436 lesson of caution in altering our system of appointment and promotion—we might look to the French and to the Prussian Armies. The Prussian officers, it appeared, were not particularly distinguished for their good breeding towards foreigners, and he had heard that in the last dreadful campaign, the French officers were afraid of their soldiers, and the soldiers despised and disobeyed their officers, and that there was a fearful state of insubordination, such as had never hitherto been known. There was no similar instance to be met with amongst British troops, even in the Peninsular War, where they were exposed, more than once, to the greatest hardships and sufferings in retreats calculated to disorganize any but a well disciplined force. The Motion proposed that forthwith, as soon as the Legislature said that purchase should be abolished, the officers should receive the regulation price which they had paid for their commission or their promotion. Now, every officer who entered the Army with honourable expectations knew that he would be exposed to all the perils of war and disease belonging to a soldier's life, and that consequently his money might be suddenly sacrificed, by his death in battle, or by his perishing from sickness; and the same thing occurred when he purchased his promotion. For instance when he purchased his lieutenant-colonelcy, he knew that he might be called into actual warfare, or ordered into a dangerous or unhealthy climate, and that this would give a chance of promotion to the juniors in rank. Supposing that every officer who had purchased had his money returned to him, what a magnificent speculation that would be? Every officer would be playing on velvet, and might say—"I have got my promotion by purchase; now give me my money back." But what would be the position of the non-purchase officers? The old officers, instead of retiring, would remain in the Army and thereby stop promotion, and so the bargain would be a good one for the purchasing officer—a very bad one for the State. But the real question was this—whether the officers who had purchased should be paid, not only the regulation price, but the extra sum given; but it was impossible to know at present the amount of this extra money; and he believed that when it had been ascertained, the sum 437 would be far larger than had been anticipated. He hoped that hon. Members would not divide on this preliminary Motion, which did not pledge the House to give no more than the regulation price, for he thought it would be a pity to do so.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, the Bill declared that every officer who wished to remain should have paid to him as much as he could possibly get from the Government if the Bill had not passed. The 3rd section of the Bill said that where officers were permitted to retire they should be entitled to receive a sum equal to the price of their promotion as if this Bill had not passed. He did not consider that it would be just to repay to the officers the amount of their commissions, seeing that there were thousands of young men who would be anxious to hold the position; and seeing also that the officers would continue to receive all the benefit of the social and other advantages which a commission in the Army conferred. It was also clear to him, in regard to the purchase money, that the Government really had received nothing. In 1833, the Duke of Wellington, in a letter to the Royal Commission that sat on the subject, wrote that—The great advantage of giving permission to sell was this—that, in the sale of their commissions younger and, perhaps, better qualified men were able to enter the service.And, in a subsequent passage, the Duke of Wellington said that under the existing system an officer had but little hope of promotion, except by purchasing it. Those two passages were highly significant, and, to his mind, were a sufficient answer to meet all that the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Anson) had said. He could not see that the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be for the advantage either of the Army or of the officers; but thought that if the Government undertook to pay to officers on their retirement all that they could justly require in a monetary point of view, they would have done all that could be reasonably demanded of them.
§ MR. O'REILLY
said, that the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had brought on the Motion was, in effect, a complete answer to all the arguments that used to be brought forward when the propriety of abolishing purchase was submitted to the House. 438 The hon. and gallant Gentleman had distributed among hon. Members of the House a statement of the "injury that would accrue to the officers of the Army" if the Government scheme was carried. It would, it was stated, deprive officers of the present independent regimental system of promotion; it would deprive them of the right of exchange—he had never heard it spoken of as a "right" before—and it would also interfere with their expectations. He objected to these "rights" claimed by advocates on the side of the officers in the course of the present debate, and denied that Parliament was bound in any way to guard against interfering with speculations upon which officers might have entered in regard to the disposition of their commissions. The kind of right claimed was aptly illustrated by one of the Amendments placed on the Paper, to provide for the payment of compensation to officers, if, previously to the 1st of January in the present year, they may have had money left them by will or under settlement to enable them to purchase their steps in promotion. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bewdley carefully avoided saying anything in his Amendment about over-regulation prices; but his intention probably was that the over-regulation prices should remain payable at a subsequent period, either by the Government or by anybody who was willing to give them. The course of promotion was to remain substantially as it was before, and therefore it would, be as well worth while, in the future as in the past, to pay the over-regulation price in order to get promotion. The course proposed by the Government was, in his judgment, not only just but generous. It was to repay to the officers all they had paid, at the same epoch at which they might realize it now; and whereas they were now subject to four contingencies leading to the total loss of their money, they would henceforth be left liable only to the danger of loss by death. It was unwise for officers to prolong the discussion; if this measure failed, they would be offered mere justice.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, the officers of the Army had higher motives than their own pecuniary interest in the view they took upon this matter, and opposed the Bill because they considered that it was against the interests of the 439 service and of the country. It seemed from the statement of the Financial Secretary for War (Captain Vivian) that there was a document in the War Office showing that the value of commissions was £12,000,000, and that this was the sum Government really intended to hand over to the Army. He protested against this wanton expenditure altogether; but if the purchase system was to be abolished Parliament was bound to do justice to the British officer. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir Henry Storks), who was brought into Parliament to pass this measure, had previously shown himself an angel of destruction, having been originally employed to destroy the connection between the Ionian Islands and this country, he was then sent to Jamaica when it was thought necessary to destroy Governor Eyre; and now, after various encounters with the women of England, he had landed in the pocket-borough of Ripon, ready to destroy anything, even the profession to which he belonged. He believed that this Bill would be the means of destroying the regimental system of the Army.
§ COLONEL WILMOT
said, although he did not advocate the purchase system as a system, and was sensible of its defects, he was yet conscious that under it our Army had gone on from one series of triumphs to another, which had not been equalled by any other Army in the world, and he should be sorry to see the good fellowship which existed in our Army destroyed—a result which must follow from the abolition of purchase, if the regulation money was not paid down at once. As one of the oldest regimental officers in the House, he should like to know what would be the position of officers who had purchased, when they found themselves side by side with officers who had been appointed without purchase. He would have been disposed to support the abolition of purchase on three conditions—first, that every officer received what he was entitled to, and no such ill-feeling was left in his mind as would be left under the proposals of the Government; second, that they should be made aware of what would be not only the immediate, but the eventual cost of the system of retirement; and, third, if it had been indicated to them what was to take the place of purchase, and what was to be the system of amalgamation 440 between the Line and their Reserve forces which rendered the abolition of purchase necessary. These conditions, however, were not fulfilled in the scheme of the Government; they had had nothing put before them to induce them to lay out that enormous sum of money; and, if a division took place, he should feel it his duty to go into the same Lobby with the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley.
§ MR. CARDWELL
Sir, it seems to me that it is now nearly time to bring this discussion to a close; I shall, therefore, limit my attention to the question immediately before the House, which relates to the amount of compensation officers may be entitled to. The hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Colonel Anson), in the course of his interesting speech, addressed a great many remarks to the House, which I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) would have been very cogent in favour of the abolition of purchase if we had been discussing the purchase system; but it has happily been agreed to-night that we shall not go at large into the discussion of the purchase question, therefore I shall not follow my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bewdley into those parts of his speech that would have told on my side, in which he described many of the evils of the purchase system, and particularly dwelt on the abuses in the management of the Reserve Fund. The greater the abuses in the management of the Reserve Fund, the stronger the argument for terminating the system of which the Reserve Fund is only an adjunct and a supplementary part, and I think, therefore, the arguments of my hon. and gallant Friend on the system of purchase and the Reserve Fund, are arguments, not against, but in favour of this Bill, and have little to do with his Motion. Giving us the history of the system of purchase, my hon. and gallant Friend says that the Government, and not the officers of the Army, have been responsible for the introduction of that system; in saying that, I do not know whether he has taken the pains to read the evidence appended to the Report of the Royal Commission which sat last year; but if he has, he will have seen that from the very first the Government have struggled with all their might against the introduction of the system 441 of purchase; and the whole history is given in the document that lies before me as to the mode in which that system was introduced. My hon. and gallant Friend says his next objection is, that a pecuniary loss will be entailed on the officers by the arrangements made in the Bill; now, if there is such a loss entailed on any officer in respect of his present rights, I shall, upon that being shown to me, admit that that is an imperfection in the Bill which ought to be redressed. I will proceed to state with brevity, my arguments against the Resolution before us. Now, what do we propose to do? Let it be understood, if there is injustice in any part of the purchase system, as I believe there is, it is no part of the duty of the Government to put their hand into the Consolidated Fund to remedy that injustice; our object is to remove that system, with all its defects and injustice, at once and for ever; and, because we desire to do that, we desire to give an ample and complete indemnity for every officer whom it may affect, but we do not wish to do more; therefore, all the arguments drawn from any injustice which may belong to the purchase system are not arguments against the Bill, but, on the contrary, in its favour. What course do we propose to take in regard to indemnifying officers? We abolish purchase at once and for ever. It has been stated in the course of the debate that if the Bill passes purchase will continue for 20 or 25 years; but that is an entire mistake, for purchase will be abolished from the day the Bill comes into operation. From that day every claim will be ascertained, and compensation for it provided, consequently all the evils attributed to the purchase system will come to an end, and the difficulties in the work of organization, which are introduced by having interests that you cannot value to deal with, will terminate also. In future, you will not have a single interest that is not valued, and for which compensation has not been provided. The hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley admits that the Bill is liberal and generous towards those officers who retire from the service, but says it is unjust towards those officers who remain. But, what is the argument on which all the alleged benefits of the purchase system are founded? Why, that it induces officers to retire. That is the one sheet-anchor 442 in favour of the purchase system. Well, but if we are liberal and generous to those who retire, what part of our duty is it to find compensation, which the purchase system never found, for those officers who remain? At present there is no clear distinction between a purchase officer and a non-purchase officer. My hon. and gallant Friend said that very few working officers are either wholly purchase or wholly non-purchase officers; that the man who is a purchase officer to-day, is a non-purchase officer for, perhaps, his next commission tomorrow. But what becomes of the argument of my hon. and gallant Friend that when a man purchases his first commission he purchases the right to purchase all the rest, that it is part of one transaction, and he is deprived of his just rights if you cut him short at that period? My hon. and gallant Friend himself has shown that there is not that distinction between a purchase and a non-purchase officer, and that they all stand together. When purchase is abolished, what is the pecuniary injury inflicted on a purchase officer. For what did he give his purchase-money? Why, that he might obtain a priority of promotion—that he might supersede his seniors in the service, and gain a step which he could gain by no other means than by that expenditure of money. He has had his advantage. Are you going to give the officer what he has purchased, and also to return him the purchase money he has paid for it? We do not desire to improve the position of the officer—that is not our object, and we take no credit for such an intention; but in a great settlement of this kind some points naturally arise in which the balance of advantage inclines to one side or the other, and in all such cases we have made the balance turn in favour of the officer. And what has been the result of our determination upon the position of the officer? We have secured him the full value of his commission, including the over-regulation prices; although, as it stands now, that value might be reduced considerably in the event of a war being declared, of his regiment being sent to an unhealthy climate, or of the officer below him refusing to give him more than the regulation price, and instead of his having to look about for a purchaser we have provided him with the most certain of 443 all purchasers in the form of the Consolidated Fund. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, how is it possible to say that we have inflicted any pecuniary loss upon the purchasing officer? Then, how is the non-purchasing officer affected by the measure. He will be entitled to claim the full value of all the service he has earned within the limits of his present commission. [Major General Sir PERCY HERBERT: Which clause of the Bill gives him the right?] I do not recollect exactly which clause contains the provision, but I think it is the 3rd. I am, however, glad to find by the question, that I am right in my supposition that the provisions of this Bill have not been thoroughly understood by those who oppose it on behalf of the officers. The non-purchase officer will be left with all the pecuniary rights which he has acquired by service, and for which he has not paid a shilling; he will have a fair start given to him in the way of promotion, pay, and rank, and he will be secured against supersession, which we have been told is the greatest grievance that can be inflicted upon him. So much for the respective positions of the purchase and the non-purchase officers under this Bill. The operation of the measure is not limited by the regulation price, but by the full over-regulation price, and the officer will receive the latter at the time and under the circumstances when he would have received it from an ordinary purchaser, if we had not introduced this Bill. But what does the hon. and gallant Gentleman propose by his scheme? He says, "Pay the regulation price down." The hon. and gallant Gentleman who last spoke (Colonel Wilmot) says, that it will be a great hardship for an officer who has paid for his commission to serve side by side with an officer who has obtained his commission without purchase. Under these circumstances, if they are correct, I can only wonder that the Army is not discontented now. But now I ask the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Anson), if he has not kept us in the dark as to whether he intends by his proposal, that the over-regulation prices are to be paid as well as the regulation price? The hon. and gallant Member who seconded the Motion (Colonel Barttelot) did not disguise that such was the view he took of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's proposal. 444 Some hon. Gentlemen have suggested the possibility of a compromise being effected; but we do not ask for a compromise. We do not know who, on the part of the Army, is able to speak the language of compromise; and we do not know who would undertake that what would be agreeable to one portion of the Army, say the infantry, would be agreeable to another portion of the Army, say the cavalry. We have nothing to do with compromise in any way; our business is to do justice, and justice we are determined to do; and by the proof that we are doing justice we desire to stand. If the proposal of the hon. and gallant Gentleman goes to the extent that the over-regulation price is to be paid as well as the regulation price, then, as has been shown earlier in the evening, he is asking for nothing less than a grant of £5,000,000 from the Consolidated Fund. Thus, besides receiving everything that he has paid for, the officer is to get all his money back again, and is to receive £5,000,000 out of the pocket of the British taxpayer. Then, whereas, by the scheme of the Government, we shall insure rapid and continuous promotion, if we take the plan of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, we shall stop promotion, because those officers who have received their purchase money back will not be in a hurry to leave the service to make room for others. Then, look at the position of the half-pay officer, who in some cases would have a present made him out of the pocket of the taxpayer of £4,500. [Colonel ANSON dissented.] All I can say is, that is the proposal contained in the Motion. But if the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not intend that the over-regulation prices are to be paid at all, what becomes of the Commission of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Morpeth, and what will those officers in the cavalry and in the Guards say, to whom the over-regulation money is of such great importance, and to whom this so-called compromise will be nothing more nor less than an absolute injustice? And, if this plan should be adopted, what rule of promotion is it proposed that we should adopt? Are we to adopt the system of selection as the rule of promotion, or are we to be thrown back upon the bare and naked system of seniority? I believe it is the intention of the House, as has 445 been shown by its decision, that selection is to be the general rule, and that merit is to be the passport to advancement. The Royal Commission said that if you make seniority the rule, it would produce disastrous results, and that you must rely upon selection as the rule; I believe that to be the intention of the House; and, if that be done, how can it be harmonized with a system of over-regulation prices? If the Government are to select officers, over-regulation price will of itself die out, and the day after selection becomes the rule over-regulation prices are gone. Have you done justice to those officers to whom over-regulation is the principal portion of what they expect to receive? Look to the history of what has passed about over-regulation prices. I hear arguments used glibly in this House as if there was no evil in the system of over-regulation prices. Hon. Members frequently speak as if they imagined that the reglation price was something paid to the Government, and over-regulation price a sum of money paid to the retiring officer. The regulation price is not paid to the Government, although it is paid under regulations laid down by the Government. [Major General Sir PERCY HERBERT: To the Government agent.] We are speaking now not of a matter of fact, but of a matter of opinion; and my opinion is not that of the hon. and gallant Officer. My opinion is that the Government, so far as it interferes at all, interferes in a supplementary and subordinate part of the purchase system, and that the regulation money is paid to the retiring officer. The great efforts of Governments from the time of Queen Anne down to the present, has been to check the evils which the system of over-regulation has introduced. I am only repeating what has been said by the highest authority, when I say that if you abolish regulation and leave over-regulation you will have paid your £8,000,000, and you will not have attained your end; you will have incurred the burden, and the system you desire to extinguish will remain in full force. If you permit the thing to be sold at all, it will fetch its value in the market; if it is worth regulation and over-regulation now, when you have compensated for regulation and left over-regulation, the price of over-regulation will rise to the amount that regulation and over-regulation 446 were before. You will have sacrificed your money and you will not have accomplished your object. I submit, then, my hon. and gallant Friend has entirely failed to make out the grounds for his Motion. The scheme which we invite the House to adopt is complete in equity; it throws the balance in favour of the officer wherever it is necessary to throw the balance on either side; it accomplishes, immediately, the abolition of the purchase system; it puts a present and fixed value upon the pecuniary right, and provides a compensation which he will receive at the time and under the circumstances when he would have received it if this Bill had not passed.
MAJOR GENERAL SIR PERCY HERBERT
said, he admired the courage of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War in using an expression about the House being left in the dark by the hon. and gallant Officer who moved the Resolution, for the Government never left the House more completely and intentionally in the dark on any question that it submitted to Parliament, seeing they had no information as to what the scheme of the Government would cost, or what the nature of it might be. Non-regulation prices were paid by one officer to another as private transactions; but regulation money was paid under orders; there was an official letter to say where an officer must lodge the money, and a Government agent was required to say he had lodged it; and, in a large number of cases, the officer succeeded did not receive the money. The Prime Minister, the other night, said the Government received the money only in exceptional cases, and that it would be idle to detain the House by speaking of these minute exceptions; but a Return distributed to-day showed that since 1841, these minute exceptions made up a total of £1,712,829, which had been paid to and spent by the Government, principally in diminution of the Army Estimates. He denied the assumption that officers would receive under the Bill as much as they would receive if it had never passed at all, for the Bill stereotyped things as they were, and prevented officers rising into positions in which they would be entitled to more, for the 3rd clause said that an officer who, but for this Act would have been permitted to retire by 447 the sale of his commission, should be entitled to receive not the value of his commission, but a sum equal to the estimated price at which the commission held by him would have been saleable if the Bill had not passed. The change made by the Bill in the terms of service would be a great injustice to the officers of the Army, and to illustrate that injustice, he might mention the case of a lieutenant-colonel who, after having served for a period of 20 years, would be entitled to receive the sum of £4,500 for the several commissions he had purchased; but under this Bill he would only get £2,000. If a firm of merchants who had encouraged clerks to enter their service, and to pay money for promotion, on the understanding that they were to have a retiring allowance equal to half their salaries after 25 years' service, should deem it proper to change that system for their own benefit, they would be regarded as the meanest people in the world if they did not return the money which had been paid. His hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Goldney), to his astonishment, quoted the Duke of Wellington in support of the Bill; but if the hon. Gentleman had read a little further on, he would have found that the Duke of Wellington said, it was obvious that in calculating the remuneration to which any officer was entitled, the interest of the sum he had paid ought to be taken into account, and that, in point of fact, promotion by purchase was a saving of expense to the public, and highly beneficial to the service, as younger and more qualified men entered the Army, and relieved the State from the necessity of making provision for officers who were worn out by prolonged service. How, he would ask, was the promotion proposed by the Bill to be carried on? Not one word had been said about that. No one who took a dispassionate view of the case could fail to perceive that a material change would be introduced into the terms of service. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir Henry Storks) put forward a preposterous claim the other day, when he said that he could have obtained his full purchase-money and still have retained his rank. His words were—When I was a lieutenant, I purchased over four lieutenants and became a captain; when I was a captain, I purchased over four captains 448 and became a major. Now, according to the theory laid down in the course of this discussion, I ought, under these circumstances, to get all my purchase-money back and still retain my commission, pay, allowances, prestige, and everything."—[3 Hansard, cciv. 1738.]
§ SIR HENRY STORKS
, interposing, explained that that was when he held the grade of major, and not when he became a general officer.
MAJOR GENERAL SIR PERCY HERBERT
thought the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had introduced no such stipulation in his argument.
§ SIR HENRY STORKS
said, his argument applied only to the position he occupied when he purchased over the heads of four captains and became a major. He asked what those four captains would have thought, if he had been repaid his money and been allowed still to retain his rank of major?
MAJOR GENERAL SIR PERCY HERBERT
, while accepting the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's explanation, said he thought the words used by him conveyed a different impression. With respect to the general question of retirement he thought this was a most unjust and ungenerous Bill, and the details of the scheme, he believed, had been kept dark by the Government, because they thought the House might be frightened by them. He thought he had proved that certain Members of the Government displayed some little want of knowledge, when they argued that the Government did not receive the regulation money, for the purpose of diminishing their liability to meet claims for half-pay from which they could not have escaped otherwise. He asked the House, in conclusion, to hesitate before refusing to consider the just claims of 6,000 officers who had certainly not received any very great reward for their military services, who had always done their duty gallantly, and had never been niggardly of their blood whenever their country's service had called upon them to expend it. Under these circumstances, considering the technical character of the subject, and that the defence of the officers was thrown on hon. Members less practised in debate than those who sat on the Government bench, he trusted to the generous feeling of the House to hesitate before they did so great an injustice to the officers as to ask them not to pass the Resolution.
said, he trusted that all who took an interest in this question would agree with him, that it was a matter of intense gratification that such a Motion had been brought forward by the hon. and gallant Member, whose extraordinary energy, whose devotion to the subject which he had undertaken to study, and whose thorough knowledge of details must make any opinion coming from him worthy of the attention and respect of the House; but, at the same time, he thought it would have been better, if he had so worded his Motion, that he need not have laid himself open to the suspicion which had been expressed frequently outside the House as well as within its walls—that he would have thrown over, so to speak, over-regulation money, because he, for one, and those who stood on the same platform, insisted that over-regulation money must be considered as a sine qua non in the same ratio as regulation. The platform on which he stood was regulation money down, and over-regulation upon retirement. He did not ask this as a boon; he did not ask it as an act of generosity on the part of the Government, but he claimed it as an act of bare justice to the English Army. He had endeavoured to turn over the facts and arguments in his mind, and the conclusion to which he had been irresistibly drawn was, that by no other means could they hope to act with justice unless they recognized the terms of the Motion then before the House; in no other way could they avoid the conclusion of a flagrant breach of contract; in no other way could they, with any shadow of fairness, venture to ignore the claims of seniority, and to substitute a system of indiscriminate selection and rejection. Nay, more, he asserted that if in anyone instance of applying that system of rejection to any individual officer who entered the Army under the purchase system, unless they previously annulled the whole of the contract which they made with him, they could not, without breach of faith so flagrant as almost to deserve the term dishonourable, deal with him according to this principle of selection and rejection. He had spoken of contract, and he said there was a direct compact between the officers of the Army and the State. When he entered the Army, under the purchase system, he entered into a direct bargain, with the State; on 450 the one hand, he agreed to give a ready and obedient service at all times and under all circumstances, and he paid a sum of money down which was required of him by the State, and without which he would, not have obtained his commission; and, on the other hand, the State undertook, if he did not forfeit his position by any disgraceful act or gross in-competency, that when he came by seniority and service to be the first on the list for promotion, he should receive that promotion. That bargain still remained, and he could not alter its terms; but if it were for the good of the country that the Government chose to alter part of that bargain, he was justified by every principle of equity to demand that they should annul the whole and start on a new footing. When a bargain was made between two private individuals, and one of them chose to repudiate one-half of the bargain—that half which most affected himself—he was called, and with some shadow of truth, dishonest and dishonourable. He had yet to learn, why it was that the State should not be under the same terms which affected private individuals. It would be grossly unjust to apply a system of selection and rejection to an officer who came into the Army under the purchase system, unless they previously annulled the contract between him and the State; in saying that, he must affirm it, was the argument of one of those who sat on the Ministerial bench, for his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Truro (Captain Vivian), for instance, on the 9th of March, said it was proposed that officers of the Militia should, under certain conditions, get commissions in the Line; and he would like to know how it would be possible to take officers under the non-purchase system and place them side by side with officers each of whom had paid £450 for his commission? That was precisely what he said. Then, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government made a speech, which had been already quoted to-night, asking how it was possible, when the offices were their own property, that they should be subject to that unrestricted handling, with regard to which it was necessary for the Government to have unrestricted power? He trusted that Ministers, for the sake of common consistency, would be persuaded to re-consider this point, and not have to eat their own words. But there were 451 arguments which had not been touched upon. Take, for instance, the case of two officers who had arrived at the grade of captain in the Army—a non-purchase captain and a purchase captain. In a money point of view how did they stand? The non-purchase captain received a pay of £240 per annum; the purchase captain received nominally £240; but having paid £2,000 to arrive at that rank, he, in fact, received £240 minus £80, the interest at 4 per cent on the outlay. While the non-purchase captain received £240, the purchase captain received £160. Again, there was the difficulty that when the "purchase" captain died, his widow would lose the value of the commission; the widow of the "non-purchase" captain nothing. Was it so very unusual a request, that the Government should pay down on the nail a portion of the sum that would have to be paid? Was England, in 1871, so much poorer than she was in 1833, when she voted £20,000,000 to abolish the slave trade? All that the Government was asked to do now was to put down a quarter of that sum, to compensate a body of public servants who had certainly some claims on the lenient consideration of the House. He had supported the Government all through the divisions on the Budget, partly from his natural desire to vote with his Friends, and partly, because he was resolved that, as far as he was concerned, the Government, when they came to deal with this question, should not be able to plead poverty; but if this Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend were agreed to, he would consent to acknowledge that purchase was to be abolished; but if it were not agreed to, he would join with that party—and it was neither few nor weak—which was resolved to oppose the Bill clause by clause, step by step, and by every means which the forms of the House placed in their power.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 250; Noes 187: Majority 63.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Major Arbuthnot.)452
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman, not having been long a Member of the House, was, perhaps, not aware that when an Amendment like the one just disposed of had been rejected, it was usual for the Speaker to leave the Chair at once, and for the House to go into Committee.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 178; Noes 243: Majority 65.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Colonel Jervis.)
said, he could not agree to the Motion. The Bill had been most amply discussed, five nights having been spent upon it—a debate almost unexampled upon a subject not political; the second reading had been taken without a division; and, in fact, nothing now remained to be said about it. Nothing could be more flat and unprofitable than to attempt to keep up a discussion when the subject had been so thoroughly exhausted.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, if no division was taken on the second reading, it was owing to peculiar circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that a large party in the House felt the greatest possible objection to the Bill. To-night the debate had been entirely confined to the discussion of the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bewdley, with reference only to the pecuniary interests of officers, and there were many Members who still desired to have a fair discussion of the general principles of the Bill.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, the second reading had been discussed for five nights, and nobody could say that those who were opposed to the Bill had not had ample opportunity for expressing their opinions. The reason why there was no division on the second reading was best known to the right hon. Gentleman opposite; but it was probably owing to the excellent adviced received from the Leader of his party. He trusted they might be allowed to proceed with the real business before them.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he would suggest that opponents of the Bill could attain their object by resisting it clause by clause in Committee.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 127; Noes 223: Majority 96.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
, amid cries of "Oh, oh!" and considerable excitement, moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Colonel Stuart Knox.)
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 105; Noes 207: Majority 102.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Colonel Corbett.)
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 99; Noes 189: Majority 90.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir William Bagge.)
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 98; Noes 178: Majority 80.
said, he was always ready, individually, to go through with a contest of this kind; but in consideration for others who were concerned in the divisions—as the Speaker and the officers of the House—he would agree to a Motion for the adjournment of the debate.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn,"—(Sir William Verner,)—put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Debate arising.
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday.