§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ MR. CARDWELL
It is impossible, Sir, to introduce the Army Estimates without some reference to figures, and some remarks on details which are necessarily dry and tedious; but I will endeavour to spare your patience as much as possible, and only to refer either to figures or details when I think you will wish to hear them in order to the understanding of what I desire to lay before you. I shall begin by assuming, and shall not labour to argue, that you are of the same opinion now that you were last year—that you do think that an Army is necessary for the defence of this country, and that you do desire "to combine together in one harmonious whole" all the forces to which, under the Votes of Parliament, you contribute. I shall also assume that you still adhere to the cardinal principles you established last Session—that you intend our service to be not a compulsory but a voluntary service, that you are satisfied with the abolition of purchase ["No, no!"]—well, the satisfaction, if not unanimous, is at least very general—and that you are satisfied also with the transfer of power from the Lords Lieutenant of counties to the responsible Minister of the Crown. It will be, I dare say, in your recollection that the Royal Commission upon Recruiting, which reported in 1867, found these peculiarities in our position. They said that we existed from hand to mouth, with no forecast for the future—that an Army of Reserve had been attempted to be constructed, but had proved a decided failure; and that not the least cause of the unpopularity of service in the Army was the circumstance that a soldier was compelled to spend at least two-thirds of his time on foreign service. The first measure which we took when we came into office was to reduce the number of the regiments of the British Army serving in foreign parts. The Estimates now on the Table propose to have an equal number of battalions at home and abroad. The next step that we took in 1870 was to introduce a system of short service, without which it is impossible that any real Reserve can exist. And last year we abolished the system of purchase, intending in the course of the present year to lay before you what we hope will be a satisfactory scheme, for the 880 purpose of uniting and combining together all the forces to which we contribute out of the Votes of Parliament.
I will first, before proceeding any further, state the changes which the present Estimates exhibit. The total Estimate for last year was £15,851,700; the total Estimate for this year is £14,824,500, being a saving of £1,027,200. If you take the net amount last year—that is to say, £14,697,700, and deduct the net amount this year, or £13,582,000, you will find that the reduction is £1,115,700. The difference is due to a more accurate valuation of the non-effective services between us and the India Office, giving, therefore, an advantage on the net estimate over the gross estimate in favour of the British Treasury. There is, however, no substantial reduction in men or matériel. As regards matériel, I stated last year that there would probably be a reduction to only about the amount that there actually is, on account of our being then engaged largely in arming the auxiliary forces with breech-loaders, getting up a store of sea torpedoes, altering siege and field artillery, and various other matters which my right hon. and gallant Friend the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks) will explain when the particular Vote comes on. The reduction in money would have been greater than it is if it were not for a circumstance which may, perhaps, be satisfactory to the Committee as illustrating the general state of prosperity of the country, but which, of course, operated in increasing our Estimates—I mean the very high price of everything that we have to purchase for the use of our Army. Provisions, iron, fuel, clothing, in short, everything that we are called upon to buy, costs a very much higher price than before. Besides, in the Store Vote are included armaments of various kinds—the cost of which will cease when the works are fully armed—as well as several great works, such as those of Bermuda, which will terminate in a few years. The total numbers for 1872–3 are 133,649 men as compared with 135,047 in 1871–2, or 1,398 fewer. The number is not materially altered; but there is a slight reduction on account of the re-distribution of the forces, giving us at home seven battalions of Guards and 18 battalions of the Line first for service, consisting each of 820 men; 18 battalions of 700 men next for service, and 35 of 520, 881 being very nearly that number of 500 which we have often heard spoken of as the proper number for a battalion on the peace establishment. The present Estimates add 500 to the Army Service Corps, and 336 to the Army Hospital Corps, which has been re-organized in conformity with the recommendations we have received. Two Madras regiments, numbering 1,760 men, have been returned to the India Company; and Hong Kong and Singapore will be garrisoned exclusively by troops on the British establishment. We have, therefore, I may say a far larger effective force at home than it had ever been our practice to retain in time of peace; but that these forces are not maintained at a larger cost than is now incurred is due to the policy of concentration which we have pursued, in bringing home troops from the colonies and using them for the defence of this country. I am sure that it will be agreeable to the Committee to know that that policy, while it will be found to be conducted with generosity and liberality as regards the terms on which we have withdrawn from individual colonies, has been accompanied on the part of the colonies by a spirit of self-reliance and a readiness to enter into measures for their own defence, which is both highly creditable to them and highly satisfactory to those who regard the strength and power of the Empire. Canada, for instance, has a force on foot in time of peace of 44,000 men, armed with Sniders and well equipped, and last year 37,000 of them were out in camps of exercise.
I will now pass on to speak of the question of enlistment, not the least important point in dealing with the Army Estimates, because it touches the first of the three cardinal principles which I consider to have been established last year. You were determined that you would not resort to compulsory service, but that you would have voluntary service, and you are naturally anxious to know how it has worked during the year past. The Army Reserve, which my right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) last year called "a ridiculous little force with a pompous appellation," only mustered about 1,000 men when we first took it in hand; but now numbers a few more than 7,000, and we propose in the Estimates of the present year to raise it to 10,000. That, however, is entirely exclusive, of course, of 882 the new system of enlistment for short service, because no person enlisted for short service has gone into the Reserve. There were 2,000 men who passed from the Army into the Reserve last year; but that is quite a different matter from men enlisting for six years and then passing into the Reserve. The number of these men now in the Army is 13,497. The Committee will not be surprised to hear that of late recruiting has rather fallen off. It would be strange if it were otherwise, when the town is placarded with announcements of wages of 3s. 6d. a-day and railway fare for those who would go to the place where the employment was offered. If that circumstance did not produce some effect on recruiting it would, as I have said, be singular. But I am about to lay before you, as usual, the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, and I think you will read it without any feelings of discouragement, or any notion that you are likely under the voluntary system to want recruits for your Army. You will find that there is a remarkable adaptation of the supply to our demand. As I have said, 2,000 men passed during the year from the Army into the Reserve; but the numbers that entered the service during the year were 23,568, the largest number since 1861, with one exception, the year 1870, when, on the outbreak of the German War, there was naturally some excitement, and then you got a few more—namely, 24,594. All the establishments are filled up, or nearly so, with the exception of the Artillery, and I desire those who are constantly saying that short service discourages recruits to take notice that we have not failed in recruiting for the infantry, to which short service applies, and that the only force not filled up is the Artillery—a force to which short service has not yet been made applicable. However, the fact I have mentioned does not show that we cannot get men even for the Artillery. It is due to the circumstance that we made an unusual addition to the Artillery last year, and that we have only yet raised a portion of the men for whom we obtained the sanction of Parliament. We readily obtained drivers; but the strength of a gunner is a peculiar qualification, and gunners can be obtained less rapidly than men belonging to the other branches of the service. We have, however, enlisted a considerable number, and I have no doubt that, in the course of 883 the present year, the whole number will be easily obtained. Last year many hon. Members were nervous about our recruits. They said these recruits were a very poor lot; were very young; would die like flies; and I do not know what besides. I could then only give my opinion to the contrary; very naturally gentlemen preferred their own opinions to mine; and therefore I was left in a minority among those who spoke upon the subject. We have now, however, the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, who speaks most favourably of the recruits, and says they give promise of making good effective soldiers. The reports of the commanding officers as to them are most favourable. Their average age is above 19; it seems that in the Autumn Manœuvres there was no perceptible difference between them and the older soldiers in undergoing labours which certainly were not inconsiderable, and that where there was any difference it was not to their disadvantage; and the number invalided was very small, less than 14 per 1,000, a number which bears favourable comparison with civil life. I will not pursue the remarks of the Inspector General, but his Report is not a one-sided Report; he points out what he considers subjects of discouragement as well as those which are more encouraging; and I shall lay his Report upon the Table, commending it to your careful attention.
The Militia, for which 139,000 men were provided last year, has not yet reached that number. The number in the last Return placed before me was 112,028, so that 26,972 are now wanting. To my mind, however, this deficiency is not a source of any discouragement. In the first place, you will find by-and-by, if you listen to what I lay before you, that we shall propose new measures with regard to recruiting both for the Line and the Militia, which, I trust, will prove satisfactory. In the second place, the number was of course not fully made up in Ireland; because the Irish Militia, as everybody knows, had not been trained for several years, and you could not expect that in the first year of training the numbers would be complete; but enrolments have gone on rapidly, and the reports are very satisfactory. Then, again, the Militia in England and Ireland, which in 1869 only gave to the Army 2,226 men, has in this year—and here is a most encouraging fact—given 8,194 men, 884 of whom 6,836 are from Great Britain, and 1,358 from Ireland. Then there is another reason why the number is not completed; and it is a reason which I am sure the House will approve. I declined to give encouragement to recruiting in the winter, which is usually the best time for recruiting, because it would have entailed the necessity of putting men into billets. I think there is nothing more objectionable, on every ground, than the system of billeting. I did not think it was worth while, for the purpose of making a better show at the close of the year in recruiting for the Militia, to resort to this system. In one case, I believe, it was allowed; but generally I set myself against the practice. The time for enrolling is just before training, and the enrolments are going on very well. Over 8,000 Militia were enrolled in January, and I do not doubt that the numbers reported by the commanding officers will be made up. I am happy to say that nothing can be more gratifying than the reports from Ireland with regard to the Irish Militia. They speak of the strength of the force, of the great anxiety of the men to learn their duties, and of the success of the training. They state that not a single case of Fenianism has occurred; that the men are particularly quiet and orderly; and that the Lord Lieutenant has personally inspected 22 regiments, and has thereby given the force great encouragement. I may mention another circumstance. Three years ago the great difficulty with regard to the Militia was that you could not obtain subaltern officers. There was then a deficiency of 487 subalterns. Now the contrary is the case, and upon the whole the balance shows 36 supernumerary subalterns. I attribute this fact not exclusively to the small concessions made in providing a little less meanly for officers in the Militia, but much more to the announcement that satisfactory conduct for two years in the Militia will be the passport for a limited number of officers to commissions in the Line. Both for the advantage of the Army, and also for the convenience of the public purse, we now propose to allow a limited, but not a small number of captains of the regular Army who have served 12 years to go, if they please, on half-pay for 10 years upon condition of their joining the Militia of the county to which they belong. I am assured, by officers of the highest ex 885 perience and knowledge of the service, that this is a concession likely to be exceedingly acceptable to many gentlemen who wish to marry and settle in their respective counties; and as they cease at the end of 10 years to have any further claim upon the public purse, the arrangement will be an economical one. In the event of the embodiment of the Militia, they will be eligible for retransfer to the Line, in which case they will count their Militia service towards pension, retirement, or promotion. But if we live—as I hope we shall live—in times of peace, and it is not necessary to embody the Militia, these officers will at the expiration of the 10 years cease to have any claim upon the public in the shape of half-pay or retiring pension. As to Militia officers, we propose to require that they shall qualify by examination for promotion to the rank of captain and field officer, and that commanding officers shall be superannuated at the age of 60, and other officers at the age of 55, always excepting those—and I hope they will be numerous—whom the general officer commanding may recommend on the ground of special fitness to be continued notwithstanding their age. The schools of instruction which were established a little more than a year and a half ago have been very popular, both with the Militia and the Volunteers. Several Friends of mine in this House, who have attended those schools, have described to me what occurred there, and I gather that the instruction given is very satisfactory. At any rate, 270 Militia and 503 Volunteer officers have received certificates from these schools, and the total number of Volunteer officers and non-commissioned officers who have obtained certificates of proficiency to December 1 was 10,630. The Volunteers show an increase of 1,948 efficients upon the year, and 3,960 extra-efficients. The Yeomanry have been reconstituted under the new regulations. Two single troops and one small regiment have been disbanded; six regiments have raised additional troops; and the establishment is now rather more than 2,400 below the number. The first-class Army Reserve is, by the last Returns, 7,165, and the Militia Reserve 28,303—making a total of 35,468 men liable to serve abroad. We have therefore attained what had not been attained in 1867—we have to some extent a real Reserve. 886 The number of men I have mentioned will raise the whole of our battalions at home to 1,000 strong if an emergency were to arise. The second-class Army Reserve men and the enrolled Pensioners make up a total of 25,400. I stated last year that they were 30,000, and the statement would be quite accurate if I repeated it now; because, though I do not intend to take a Vote for more than 25,000, inasmuch as only 25,000 men have joined the second-class Army Reserve, a Return, laid on the Table a short time ago, shows that a considerably larger number of pensioners are liable to come out upon proclamation, and would be well able to serve the country in garrison. The whole upshot, therefore, is that we have close upon 300,000 men, if you reckon Regulars, Militia, Yeomanry, and Army Reserves and Pensioners. If you add the Volunteers, it will give the number as 467,000, while the number liable for service abroad will be 146,500. That is the numerical account I have to give of the present state of the different forces. I have said that the first of the cardinal principles you laid down last year was that our Army should be raised by means of voluntary enlistment, and I think I have shown you that there is no reason to apprehend that the spirit of this country is not adequate to supply by such means our military requirements.
I will now pass on to the next question, and say a few words on the subject of purchase. Some hon. Gentlemen were in the beginning of November in very pleasant places, occupying themselves with very agreeable pursuits. It was, however, the duty of some other persons to be in the gloomy regions of Pall Mall, and at the end of October and beginning of November I happened to be one of those persons; and with regard to the effect of abolition of purchase, you may imagine that that gloom must have been almost insupportable by me, when rumours met me every day of the great exodus that was taking place from the British Army; that the officers and the Consolidated Fund were disappearing together, and that we should hear no more of either. But let me tell you what is the actual state of things. It is quite true that a large number of purchases were made just before the termination of the old system. It would, indeed, be singular 887 if it were otherwise. It is also true that immediately afterwards there was rather a large number of sales. I presume that some who desired to sell, not having made their market under the old system, found it convenient to have recourse to the Purchase Commissioners. However that was, I have the satisfaction of informing the Committee—and I commend what I am about to say to the notice of those Gentlemen who are always making dismal predictions about the enormous extent to which they say I understated the cost of the abolition of purchase—that I understand a very considerable part of the money voted this year will be repaid into the Exchequer; while, with respect to the next year, I have the comforting assurance that instead of the actuarial calculation which I laid on the Table, amounting to £1,160,000, the Army Purchase Commissioners are sending demands to the Treasury for only £853,000, being 25 per cent less than the calculation which I have just mentioned, though, of course, I cannot say positively that the amount will be sufficient, for no subject is more uncertain than these calculations connected with purchase; but it is the estimate which the Army Purchase Commissioners, with experience before them, have thought it right to propose. I may add that my right hon. and gallant Friend sitting beside me (Sir Henry Storks) tells me that while the system of purchase continued a great number of officers were anxious to enter as probationers into the Control Department, and that since purchase was abolished—I do not say it is cause and effect—a great number of those gentlemen have expressed a desire to return to their places in the Army, and to forego the advantages of the Control Department. The Warrant, I may add, which was issued in October, and by which the Army was to be governed in the abolition of purchase, was framed strictly on the principle which I mentioned in the House last year. That is, the principle of seniority, tempered by selection. It was not intended to give undue preference; but that every appointment and promotion should be given to thoroughly competent men. The separate grade of cornet and ensign is to be abolished, and the sub-lieutenant was appointed to be a probationer only, and if at the end of three years he is not qualified to be a lieutenant, he will 888 retire into private life, without having any claim whatever on the Treasury. We are obliged to wait for two years before we can introduce the new mode of entering the Army, and this is the explanation of the delay. In 1870 we made a considerable reduction in the number of the officers of the Army. There were, therefore, fewer vacancies to be filled up for some years to come. There was, at the time, a large number of candidates on the list of the Commander-in-Chief. They were all examined in an examination so far competitive that they were placed in the order of merit by the examiner, and those who passed will all receive their commissions in the order in which they passed, provided they are within the limit of age. Many have been at Sandhurst in the interval, and I mention this merely to show the necessity for some delay before we can begin with the new system. The sub-lieutenant, then, must qualify to be a lieutenant within three years, or else retire into private life and cease to be an officer of the Army. The lieutenant is to be either appointed from the sub-lieutenants or from the Militia, if he is recommended by the commanding officer, and that recommendation is approved by the general officer. In that case, he will have to pass the same professional examination which is required of non-commissioned officers when they receive commissions in the Army, and the same in general subjects as our Indian cadets. Lieutenants must, within five years, pass a qualifying examination for captaincies, or be removed; and captains must pass a qualifying examination for majors. Majors are appointed for five years, eligible for re-appointment; and lieutenant-colonels for five years, also eligible for re-appointment. In order to preserve the regimental system wherever a vacancy arises from a cause not purchaseable, it is primâ facie to go in the regiment except in the case of the lieutenant-colonel. Thus there is a test of merit from the first commission to the highest regimental place—the command of the regiment. I do not know whether I shall hear that these arrangements give any dissatisfaction to those whom they affect. I do not expect that that will be found to be the case. Now, if a young man ought not to be excluded from the Army by being obliged to purchase, neither, on the 889 other hand, ought he to he, it seems to me, excluded from it because the course of life in the Army is so extravagant, that he would find himself unable to meet the expense. We have, therefore, directed our attention to the question of expenditure. We have made provision, as regards the sub-lieutenant, that his clothing shall not be of an expensive, but of a simple kind, and that, if he is in the cavalry, he shall not have to purchase an expensive charger, but that his horse shall be provided for him at the public cost. With respect to bands and messes, a larger question arises. Nothing is more difficult than to enforce a sumptuary law. It is very easy to lay down such a law, but it is very difficult to enforce it. We have thought it our duty to make an attempt to do so. I have, therefore, placed on the Estimates a very small sum for reducing the amount hitherto paid by officers to Kneller Hall, and a larger sum for the purpose of relieving subalterns from any contributions whatever to bands. It is, I may add, the intention of the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief to issue regulations with regard to the expenses of bands and messes, which I think will be found to be efficacious. The reason why I am of that opinion is, that it is not intended that they shall be merely laws engraven on pillars, to be observed or neglected by the passer-by as he happens to like, but that it shall be obligatory on the commanding officer of the battalion to take care that these regulations are enforced. It was, I may add, impossible for us to issue our Warrant at the end of October without taking into consideration what was to be the future position of the Guards. The Warrant, however, did not touch that question; and, as it was reserved, I will now state what are the intentions of the Government with respect to the future position of the Guards. We considered the question from two points of view, as it concerned the splendour and dignity of the Crown, and as it affected the welfare of the Army. With respect to the first point, I am sure that no one will desire that we should interfere. With regard to the second, it will probably accord with the feeling of the House that exceptional privileges shall no longer be maintained, and that a system of equality shall prevail throughout the Army. The way in 890 which we propose to carry into effect this principle is this:—In the Household Cavalry there is at present only one officer holding exceptional rank—that of major and lieutenant-colonel. He is an officer who, by Court arrangements, is placed in immediate attendance on the Sovereign; and, if I am correctly informed, the post is almost invariably given to an officer who, by seniority, would be entitled to the higher of the two ranks. With his position, therefore, it is not proposed to interfere. With regard to the Foot Guards, all privileges are to be abolished, as far as those are concerned who enter after the 26th of August, 1871, excepting that the brevet rank of colonel will be given to the commanding officer of the battalion, in consequence of his being in immediate attendance upon the Queen. Exchanges with lieutenant-colonels of the Line are not allowed to captains and lieutenant-colonels of the Guards, nor is promotion to the command of a battalion of the Line to be given to any but mounted officers, who stand in the same position as majors, and who, like other majors, must qualify for promotion. All who entered after the 26th of August, 1871, are to be on the same footing as those who entered the other branches of the Army. I should say also that the colonels of the Guards will be allowed to choose their own nominees for sub-lieutenancies, subject, however, to the same competitive examinations as those imposed upon candidates for that position in other branches of the service. The general promotion in the regiment will be the same as in the Army generally, and will be regulated by the Warrant of the 30th of October. Then I come to the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers, and in their case it has long been evident that something must be done to secure better promotion. A Select Committee, presided over, I believe, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), took up this question a few years ago, and recommended a system of retirement for these corps. But if a better system of retirement was needed before the abolition of purchase, there could be no doubt that it was still more necessary now, because if you place these two distinguished corps at a disadvantage with regard to promotion, as compared with the other branches of the Army, men would not be so willing to 891 enter those corps; but when entry into the whole Army is equally free to all, it is manifest that if you expose them to disadvantage as compared with the others you will find you will have no Artillery and no Engineers. That being the case, we have taken the subject into consideration. In 1870 I made a reduction in the number of subalterns, with a view particularly to the question of retirement, because it must be evident to every one that when you have to provide retirement for a certain number of men, the more you bring in at the bottom the more you have to find retirement for at the top. I diminished, to a certain extent, the number of subalterns with an express view of the question of retirement; and I asked Mr. Vivian, whose absence I much regret, to look into the question with the Accountant General for the purpose of reviewing the subject and of considering the best mode of providing for the Artillery and Engineers. They did so, and reported that it would be far better to pay men for staying in the Army than to pay them for going out. If you invite men to retire voluntarily at an early period, though the annual payment in the case of a young man would be small, it would amount to a large sum if capitalized, and you would probably run the risk of losing those only whose services were valuable in the market, and of retaining those with whom you might not have been unwilling to part. We have given the subject very careful consideration. Last year I asked the Committee to vote, and they did vote, a sum of £5,000, to be expended in exceptional retirements. That was because there was an exceptional pressure at a particular place in the list, due to the large number of cadets who entered the service immediately after the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. I do not mean to say that an exceptional remedy may not be the best mode of meeting an exceptional case; but I concur with the Government actuary and Mr. Vivian that it is better in a seniority service to proportion your ranks than to pay men annuities. It is more economical and more satisfactory; but how is this to be done with respect to the Artillery? Now, what is the Artillery? Is the command of a battery of artillery a post not worthy to be occupied by a field officer? In France and Russia, I un- 892 derstand, the command of a battery in the field is assigned to a field officer; and though in Prussia it is placed under a captain, yet a captain there is a mounted officer. We think that the command of a battery in the field—looking to the immense importance of artillery in the warfare of the present day, and looking at the Order recently issued by the Commander-in-Chief, that artillery is to act more independently for the future—we think that the command of a battery may very properly be assigned to a field officer. Having, by the expenditure of the £5,000 voted us for that purpose last year, and by the introduction of a certain number of lieutenant-colonels of Artillery into the Reserve forces, brought the state of promotion in the Artillery into a more satisfactory condition, we now propose to establish the rank of major in the Artillery with a pay and position similar to that of major in the Line. The Deputy Adjutant General of Artillery is satisfied that the number of officers and the proportion of officers in the battery, if the officers are present, are sufficient; but if they are brought away for Staff or other purposes, the number is insufficient. Therefore, we propose that all officers employed in other services than those of their battery shall be supernumerary. This promotion will for the moment bring the Artillery up to what my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir John Pakington) would call his standard period; but the question whether the promotion will remain in a satisfactory state, must depend upon how we deal with those above the rank of majors—namely, the lieutenant-colonels and colonels—and to this I shall again have to refer when I come to speak of the Reserve forces. I cannot say that these alterations will be immediately carried into effect—or within the course of two years—for it will depend considerably on the consideration whether the immediate application of the principle would give the captains of the Royal Artillery an undue advantage over any portion of the officers of the Line. An additional charge in the Estimates this year of £14,800 has been included to provide for the elevation of the captains of Artillery to the rank of major. The £42,000 which is now assigned to retirements in the Royal Artillery is no longer to be disposed of in annuities of £600—a system which was 893 highly improvident as regards the public, and to which we intend to put an end. It is probable that hereafter annuities of £600 will have to be given to officers after 40 years' service; but it is evident that officers of 30 years' service are taking more than their share of the public money when they retire on annuities of £600; and we propose that, so far as the £42,400 is concerned, it shall be given, as the corresponding sum in the Line is given, to officers of 30 years' service, retiring on the pay of their respective ranks. We had some discussion last year about the brigade system, and I was asked to look into the brigade system of the Royal Artillery. I am not, however, prepared at present to state the result of the inquiries which have been made in that respect. The Adjutant General, assisted by the Director of Artillery and the Deputy Adjutant General of Artillery, has collected authentic information on the subject. I have not yet received his Report; but I am told that the opinion which has been arrived at is not favourable to the simple abandonment of the present system, and to leaving the arrangement to consist simply of units of batteries. As soon as I receive the Report I will lay it on the Table of the House. That is what I have to state in reference to the Royal Artillery. In the case of the Royal Engineers the matter is much simpler. No question arises there as to whether a battery is a field officer's command or a captain's command. The nature of the service of the Royal Engineers admits of proportioning your ranks so that you may give what promotion you desire. We propose, therefore, to give them a promotion equivalent to that which I have spoken of with regard to the Royal Artillery; and, for that purpose, a sum involving a total increase this year of £9,200 has been included in the Estimates.
Now, Sir, I come to consider the larger question, which is really the interesting question of the time. How are we to unite and bind together the various forces to which Parliament contributes? I have shown you that we have brought home a larger number of troops; that we have increased the Militia; that we have introduced short service; and that we have begun to establish a Reserve, The question is, how 894 to combine the whole of these various forces into the best system of military defence? It is a question very different from that which they have had to solve in Prussia. We can have neither the same tactical combination, the same permanent residence, nor the same local equipment. We have to deal with a voluntary enlistment, with a migratory population, with a fluctuating labour market, and with a large amount of foreign service, which, as I have shown, occupies one-half the battalions of the Line; while the position of our garrisons in the southern parts of the country renders it necessary that the larger portion of our Army should be assembled there. The object we have in view is simplicity of arrangement; but it is evident that this simplicity can only be attained by degrees; for we have to unite a number of systems, each in its own nature complicated, and we are compelled to do that, not by clearing away everything and beginning from the foundation—for we cannot rudely displace existing interests—but by combining different bodies in such a way as to form them into one harmonious whole. It would be comparatively easy for an architect to pull down everything and build again from his own design; but it is a very different undertaking to deal with a number of buildings of different styles of architecture, to leave them all partially standing, and yet to produce an edifice which shall not be inharmonious, and which shall be suitable for its purpose. An Order in Council has been passed, under the Act of last Session, by which on the 31st of March the powers of the Lords Lieutenant will cease, and the management of the Reserve Forces will be vested in the Ministers of the Crown. I have always said that localization was the object which we should seek to attain, and the question is what localization means as applied to ourselves. It is evident that it does not mean literally and exactly the same thing as it does when applied to Prussia. Our people do not always live in the same place, but migrate in search of labour. Our troops do not remain in their own country, they go to India and the colonies; and when they take part in a war they are moved by railway not to the seat of war, but only to the place where they have to go on board ship, and then are carried by vessels to some other country, where 895 they have to disembark and find a new base of operations. With us, therefore, localization means identification with a locality for the purposes of recruiting, of training, of connecting Regulars with auxiliaries, and of connecting the Reserves with those who are actually under the standards. We believe that the principle of localization, wisely carried into effect, will attract to the standards classes which do not now join them; will spread abroad a knowledge of the advantages which are offered by service in the Army; and will associate the Army with ties of family and kindred. It will induce men from the Militia to join the Army, and it will destroy competition in recruiting between the Army and the Militia. All these advantages, we believe, it will combine; and we desire to establish a local connection with regard both to officers and men. The sole object of any military system in time of peace must be to provide for a state of war, and the test of any peace organization must be its power—first, to place in the field immediately on the outbreak of war in the highest state of efficiency as large a force as is possibly compatible with the peace military expenditure; and, secondly, when we have placed that force on foot, to maintain it undiminished in numbers and efficiency throughout the continuance of hostilities. Sir, the principles on which we propose to localize the Army were stated by me just 12 months ago with as much clearness as I could hope to state them if I repeated them now. In the interval, I have communicated on the subject with His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, and I shall lay on the Table a Memorandum by him of the mode in which, after much consideration, he thinks it is best to carry out those principles. The details of the question were referred to a Committee most competent to consider the subject, at the head of which was placed General M'Dougall, who has had so much to do in organizing the defensive force of Canada. The principle is the local connection of the Army under a general officer commanding the military district. The Committee are probably aware that the tactical unit is a battalion of eight companies. In our service every battalion contains 10 companies; it is, therefore, obvious that if you associate two 896 battalions together you have out of 20 companies two battalions of a tactical strength of eight companies, and four companies which you can make into a third battalion or a depôt. Many of our regiments are suitably formed already—that is to say, they possess second battalions, and the men are enlisted to serve, not in either battalion, but in the regiment. There are other regiments, however, consisting of only one battalion, and these battalions are altogether separate entities, and have no inter-communication with each other. The essential idea expressed in the Memorandum on organization by His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief is that of territorial districts, each to contain two Line battalions, two Militia Infantry battalions, and a certain quota of Volunteers, formed into an administrative brigade, the whole to rest on the brigade depôt or centre. I have shown you that there is an equality in the number of the battalions at home with those abroad, and it is intended that of two Line battalions united in one brigade one shall be always abroad and one always at home. The two Militia regiments will be associated with them in the same brigade. At the head of the whole will be placed a lieutenant-colonel of the Regular Army acting as brigadier, and commanding-in-chief not only the Regulars and Militia, but also the Volunteers of the district. The permanent Staff of the two Militia regiments will be associated with the local depôt, and eventually, when the present interests cease, the new permanent Staff will be appointed from the battalion which constitutes the depôt, so that if they are unsatisfactory they can be sent back to their regiments, and they will always be in the highest state of military training and efficiency. They will be an addition to the Staff of the local centres. All recruits, both for the Line and the Militia, will be trained at the local centres, and the whole of the recruiting will be under the supreme direction of the lieutenant-colonel who commands the depôt. The Army Reserve men and Pensioners resident in any brigade district will be attached to the depôt centre for the purposes of payment, training, and discipline. It is proposed to store all the infantry, Militia, and Army Reserve arms, clothing, 897 &c., at the depôt centre; and, as a general rule, to train the infantry Militia battalions under canvas at their respective depôt centres, which will be their natural head quarters. All Line and Militia recruits will, immediately on being raised, be sent to the brigade depôt for their recruit training. Nothing in these proposals is to be interpreted as diminishing in any manner the control hitherto exercised by Militia commanding officers over their respective regiments during the non-training periods of the year. The head-quarters of the regiments will, by this scheme, simply be transferred from one place to another. I shall lay upon the Table a complete account of the organization, and I shall be disappointed if you do not think it has been ably drawn up by the Committee over which General McDougall has presided. The proposal is, that there should be a convenient number of districts taken in reference to the strength of the Militia, and we have come to the conclusion that 66 will be a convenient number. In Scotland we propose that there shall be nine for 18 battalions. In Ireland there are at present only seven battalions connected with the country by name and local association, but the number is obviously insufficient. Therefore, we propose to add nine to the existing seven, so as to make the number 16, and to give them eight military districts. The remaining 49 districts will be in England. The Committee is, of course, aware that, under the Act of last year, the law of quotas has been abolished, and that we have the power of raising the Militia without reference to the quota. Now we find that, considering the altered population, the old quota is not in due proportion, and therefore, to a limited extent, a larger number will be drawn from Scotland and a smaller number from Ireland. It will be remarked that there are 71 battalions of the Line in this country, and that we only propose to have 66 local centres. The difference is accounted for by this circumstance—that the Rifles and the 60th we intend to leave with their own separate organization, and then, like the Guards, they will be outside this arrangement, which embraces the whole of the other battalions of the Army. The result of the system, when brought into complete operation, will be that, in all the districts of Great Britain and Ireland, one Line battalion 898 will be always abroad and the other battalion always at home. The object sought to be attained by this arrangement is, that the battalion at home may serve as a feeder for the supply of casualties in the twin battalion of the same district serving abroad. This arrangement is comparatively simple as regards the double battalion regiments. The men are enlisted not for the battalion but for the regiment, and the officers are exchangeable between the two battalions; but as regards the regiments which consist of only one battalion, there are difficulties in linking the two battalions together. First, as regards the men now enlisted we cannot make any alteration without the consent of each individual soldier; but we propose to enlist in future not for the battalion, but for the brigade, and to establish a common interest between the two regiments. With regard to the officers the case is different. It might, perhaps, be more agreeable to them to remain on the separate roll, or, on the other hand, it might conduce to their convenience to make them interchangeable. This subject, however, is so fully discussed in the Report I shall lay before you that I need not dwell on it further. In the arrangement which I shall lay before you, these things have been considered—the connection of each regiment with any other regiment, the connection of both with any particular locality, the having one always abroad, and one always at home, and the desirableness of disturbing the roster as little as possible. The arrangement which the Committee have recommended will not disturb the roster to any inconvenient degree, for it provides that no regiment shall be sent abroad till it has been six years at home. It has also been considered that some districts will furnish more than their quota and some less; and, therefore, although the principle of localization will pervade the system, it will not be a principle wholly without exception, because a regiment will be allowed to recruit at its headquarters, under certain regulations. It has also been found to conduce to the efficiency of the Army that regiments should not be drawn exclusively from one portion of the country, but that there should be an admixture in battalions of English, Irish, and Scotch. Now, it is quite possible, while preserving in the main all the ad- 899 vantages of a local system, to lay down regulations by which you will obtain the desirable admixture of natives of each of the three parts of the United Kingdom. And here let me state what the effect will be, as you will find it developed in each of the 66 districts. In each district there will be a depôt battalion and two Militia battalions, in such a state of preparation that the Line battalion of the brigade at home could be put at once upon a war footing, while at least one other Militia battalion would be ready for immediate embodiment, and the depôt would remain in a state to raise and train recruits, and to furnish the required reliefs. You will find all these matters referred to in minute detail in the Papers which I shall lay upon the Table. I have as yet spoken only of the Line and the Militia; but everybody knows that there is another force not less important—I mean the corps of Artillery. "We have already drawn from the Royal Artillery 10 lieutenant colonels, and trained them specially at Shoeburyness, who have been sent to 10 districts for the purpose of instructing the Militia Artillery and the Volunteer Artillery in the latest improvements in the science. We have already divided the country into Line districts, and we propose to divide it again into Artillery districts, which will be either coterminous with or included within the general officer's command. Scotland, for instance, which is under one general officer's command, will be subdivided into two districts, and so will the Northern and Western districts. All the Artillery in any general officer's command will, subject to the supreme control of the general officer, be under the colonel of the Royal Artillery commanding in that district. A lieutenant colonel of the Royal Artillery will be appointed for the Militia and Volunteers. The adjutants will be supernumerary captains of the Royal Artillery, while the permanent Staff will consist of non-commissioned officers of the Royal Artillery, who, as I said before, can, if they fail in their duty, be sent back to their regiment, and others of better character put into their places. The Militia Artillery regiments are to train whenever the means exist. The recruiting for the Royal Artillery will be under the direction of the lieutenant colonel. It may, however, be asked—As your great object is to prevent competition in recruiting, 900 and to cause all recruiting, both for the Regular Army and for the auxiliary forces, to be carried on under the same administration and control, how can you consistently have two kinds of recruiting going on simultaneously in the same district? The answer is, that a very small number in proportion of Artillery recruits will be required, and that the authority of the general officer commanding the district will prescribe the number to be recruited. For the Militia Artillery, recruiting will be conducted according to one of two alternative plans, which are described with great particularity in the Report. I think I ought not to occupy your time by detailing the differences between these plans; but one difference is, that, according to one of them, the permanent Staff will be at the brigade head-quarters, while, according to the other, it will be at the infantry local centre. The probability is, that one plan will be found more economical in some cases and the other in others, and there is no reason why there should be absolute uniformity of system. With regard to the cavalry, the same powers of combining the two forces do not exist. The cavalry is a comparatively small force, and the Yeomanry more properly belong to the organization of the Volunteers than to the organization of the Militia. Then the privates in the Yeomanry are not men who are likely to enlist in the cavalry. The connection, therefore, between the cavalry and the Yeomanry will be limited to this—that the adjutant of the Yeomanry will be a supernumerary officer of a cavalry regiment, and that the permanent Staff should also consist of non-commissioned officers of cavalry regiments. The object of this is to have none but efficient men, and if it should be found that an adjutant or sergeant is inefficient he can be sent back to his regiment and a more efficient officer put in his place. We also propose that a certain number of cavalry officers should be allowed to go on half-pay and join a Yeomanry regiment in their own county, and that both officers and men should be encouraged to train at the schools of the cavalry. I do not know whether I have succeeded in conveying to the Committee a general outline of the scheme we propose; but it is intended to unite the spontaneity and all the other advantages of the auxiliary forces with the highest possible 901 amount of training that the Regular Army can furnish to any other body of men. It is intended to associate every regiment and battalion of the Army with some particular district of the country, in order that the ties of kindred and of locality may bring into the Army a better class of men and a greater number than now present themselves; that the Militia may be willing to furnish recruits for the Army; and that by these and other means you may not only promote the general advantage of the Army, but also, particularly, that you may attain that object which last year you had so much in view—namely, that only men of a certain age and of fixed constitution should go out to discharge the duties of soldiers abroad. In order to get rid of billeting, which I hold to be an evil of the first magnitude, the Militia regiments will be trained, either at certain larger stations of which I will speak by-and-by, or at their depôt centres, where they will be partially under canvas, because the buildings will not hold them all. They will be put under an experienced officer of rank and in immediate connection with the organization of the Regulars, and when the training is over the camp may be left standing that the Volunteers of the district may have the use of it. Our object is, as far as possible, to make the drill more continuous, and to bring the training of the Volunteers within a limited portion of the year, in order that that training may gradually assume more and more the character of the training of the Regulars. The Volunteers of a local district will, as I have said, be associated with the brigade—that is to say, they will all be subject to the supreme command of a general officer; they will be under the lieutenant colonel who commands the local centre, but their internal organization will remain. There will be no double commissions after the 1st of April, 1873, so that an officer holding commissions in two different corps must elect in which he will remain. I do not mean to say we may not permit an officer to remain as an honorary officer; but I mean that as a substantive officer he must belong to one corps only. No officer or non-commissioned officer will be allowed to remain who does not qualify, nor be permitted to draw the capitation grant without attending drill as often as a private. Indeed, he ought to attend it 902 rather oftener for the sake of conveying instruction. No one will be allowed to continue a rifleman without going to the target, except he has become a marksman; then, of course, it is not necessary that he should be required to go any more than is necessary for maintaining the efficiency he has acquired. We propose that officers of Volunteers shall always be encouraged to train at the local centre of the brigade to which they belong. We propose that Volunteers shall attend once a year for brigade instruction when called upon to do so by the general officer commanding; that they shall receive a small allowance for doing so; and that on such occasion not less than half the enrolled strength of each corps must attend, in default of which the corps will lose the capitation grant for the current year. By these and similar arrangements we propose to give the Volunteers a definite place in our defensive organization, and ample opportunity of brigading with the Regulars and with the Militia. With regard to the Artillery Volunteers, I have already stated that they are to be placed under lieutenant colonels of Royal Artillery. We propose gradually to discontinue the brigade system as regards the Volunteer Artillery. Whatever advantages it may or may not have in the Royal Artillery, I think it will be found that the battery is the natural unit of the Volunteer Artillery, and it would be better to increase the number of lieutenant colonels of the Royal Artillery superintending and training the Volunteer Artillery than to maintain permanently the cumbrous administration of the brigade system. We do not intend to issue any more field guns. We propose to withdraw the field guns gradually as other means of training are provided, and especially those 40-pounders of which we have heard so much, and which, under the new organization, will be moved from place to place for the purpose of giving batteries successive opportunities of practising the science they profess. By these and similar arrangements the Volunteers will be closely united with the Regulars and the Militia, and they will be trained together; and in a short time I hope it may be said of them that they have none but qualified officers; that they are all practised riflemen; that the regulations are strictly enforced; and that 903 inefficient officers or corps have been got rid of. The lieutenant colonels of the Regular Army will be responsible for their efficiency, as well as for the efficiency of the corps under their immediate command. These measures will evidently at first sight involve some additional cost, because you have got to provide for 67 colonels who will be new, and at least 10 colonels of Royal Artillery; but the saving effected on the general arrangement, which will be shown in the Report, will exhibit a reduction on the whole, and show that, instead of an increase, there will be economy. I believe it to be quite true what Earl Grey stated before one of the Royal Commissions—that the expenditure upon the permanent Staff of the Reserve Forces is the most wasteful of all the expenditure of the country. I believe that if you introduce an efficient system of combining all these auxiliary forces in their several localities with the branches of the Regular Army to which they belong, giving them all a common interest and a common pride in the success of the local brigade, you will not only make an enormous stride in the way of efficiency, but you will find that you will promote economy at the same time. A noble Lord opposite (Lord George Hamilton) asked me a Question the other evening about the storehouses of the auxiliary forces, which are now chargeable on the counties, and I promised to give him an answer to-night. Last year, when the noble Lord brought forward a clause which I felt it my duty at that time to oppose, I opposed it rather upon temporary grounds; but I did not dispute the substantial justice of his demand. He says—Now that you have taken away from the county authorities the control of the auxiliary forces, do you intend to continue the responsibilities of the counties for the charge of providing storehouses? I have already alluded to the subject of billeting, which has been found to be bad in a moral point of view, to be extremely bad as regards discipline, and to be a great hardship upon those who are compelled to receive the men. I think, therefore, on this occasion it ought to be got rid of. I think, under our present system—if it can be called a system—we have had no strategical view in the disposition of our barracks, recruiting has been imperfect, there has 904 been no connection between the Regulars and the auxiliary forces, there has been competition in recruiting, there has been jealousy between them, the districts have not been coterminous, there has been no unity of system or organization, and there has been no fixed responsibility. And for all these defects we ought to try to find a remedy. The noble Lord asks me, in substance, do I mean to release the counties from the obligation, such as it is, which presses upon them? I answer the noble Lord that, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, his demand is just. I think the responsibility ought to rest not upon local funds, but upon the general funds of the country. I am prepared, therefore, to say at once, if the Committee will support me, we shall release the counties from any obligation on the subject. In any district where the county buildings are suitable for our purpose I propose that we shall purchase them, of course, at a reasonable price; in districts where they are not suitable we shall place them at the disposal of the county, to sell them to their own advantage, and build for ourselves, once for all, the local centres necessary to our scheme. I do not think we ought to do it out of the yearly Estimates. It appears to me that a transfer of this kind from the local rates to the public funds ought not to be met out of the Revenue of the year. It appears to me that it is a permanent improvement of the freehold we enjoy. I am not able at present to lay before you a complete and detailed account; but I have an estimate which I shall lay before you, and which I am told by a competent authority is a liberal one, to the effect that the maximum cost will be £3,500,000. We shall have to find 66 centres; 26 will be new stations, and we shall have to convert 40 that are now occupied by the Regulars, and at which storehouses will be required. There will have to be land for parade ground at each centre, to be used not only by the Regulars who belong to the centre, but also by the Militia battalions of the district, and when not required by them, it will be available for the Volunteers. There will be some compensating arrangements for barracks taken. We propose, particularly in populous parts of the country—in Staffordshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and in Essex, for the metro- 905 polis —to build training barracks where the Militia regiments may be trained successively during that portion of the year when they can conveniently go out for training, and which shall be occupied by the Regular troops during the winter. We propose to have reserve store establishments for local supply, with a view to decentralization; where a general officer, for instance, when he requires camp equipage, may send for it instead of writing to the War Office. We propose to establish in the North of England a training and tactical station where all arms of the service—artillery, infantry, and cavalry—whether of the regular or auxiliary forces, may have the opportunity of training; and, finally, we propose to have a metropolitan exercise and practice ground for the numerous metropolitan corps. If the Committee are pleased to sanction these arrangements, I am assured the whole expense will not exceed £3,500,000, which will not be placed on the taxes of the year, but be met by Terminable Annuities. The outline I have thus presented means simply this—it means that all the forces you employ and pay should be effective in the greatest possible degree; it means that you shall have what the country has never had before—a system; and that, instead of drifting without any proper or settled plan, you shall have at least an account of all the moneys you vote. Time would fail mo to go into other subjects; nor, indeed, is there any other subject worthy to occupy your attention in comparison with this. You may have at home a regular force more effective in point of numbers than at any former period of our history; you may have auxiliary forces full of loyalty and full of zeal; but if you do not give those auxiliary forces the full benefit of that high training which can alone be found in the Regular Army, you are wasting your money—you are expending your energies for no useful purpose; and, what is worse, you are relying upon a delusive system, and preparing for yourselves a day of retribution. The object of these proposals is—not to encourage you to a great expenditure, for I believe you will find them in the end not fruitful of expenditure, but of real economy—what I ask you to do is to take care you get money's worth for your money; and that whether it is the Regular Army, 906 whether it is the Militia, or whether it is the Volunteers, you should turn the whole to the best account, and combine them, as I stated last year, in one harmonious whole for the defence and assurance of the country.
I do not wish to sit down without saying a few words on the subject of education of the Army, because I feel that we have really done great things to promote the education of the Army. My predecessor, whom I see opposite, appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the state of education of the Army. I think it will be found that we have carried into effect in substance nearly all the recommendations of that Commission. Circumstances have been materially altered since they reported. They were hampered by the existence of the purchase system, and wishing to recommend that every man should enter the Army by merit, they were prevented from giving the recommendations they would have given under present circumstances. But this I wish to say—that I believe education in the Army is actively supported by the Army itself. I have read with interest the lecture delivered at the Royal United Service Institution by Colonel Middleton. He there says that when the obligation on officers to attend garrison instructors was not compulsorily retrospective, the officers have made it so, and since the last half-yearly inspection 450 officers have attended the garrison instructors, most of them voluntarily. I cannot help alluding to a circumstance in regard to military education, which I think of considerable interest—I mean the introduction into the British Army of that game called Kriegspiel, so well known in the Prussian Army. My gallant Friend General Eyre presented to me a complete set of the maps; it was immediately introduced, and, I am happy to say, it has proved both agreeable and instructive. Another mode of instruction has been introduced—I speak of the military manœuvres. It may seem strange that it should be reserved for the year 1871 to introduce into this country that system of military manœuvre which has been practised in Germany for 50 years. It used to be thought impossible to apply that system to a country so little military in its habits as our own. We did not know when we first brought in the Bill whether we should meet any opposition 907 from the landed interest. We brought in the Bill and we met with no opposition, except a little desire to have it in one place rather than in another. Then when we got into the country we could not tell what demands would he made for damage done—why, all the elaborate clauses, all the provisions which were made for a Court of Arbitration—all the arrangements taking care that the public should not suffer were useless. When we got down there we found everybody delighted—the officers were delighted, the soldiers were delighted, the country gentlemen were delighted, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington) was as much delighted as anybody else. I only mention this to show that we accomplished the object for the very moderate sum we had proposed in the Estimates of last year. You will not hear of any Supplementary Estimate for the purpose of liquidating the charges incurred at the Autumn Manœuvres. I believe I am correct in stating that the claims for damage done are under £1,000. I think we are much indebted to Lord Onslow, and other landed proprietors, who were good enough to assist in promoting the manœuvres. We shall renew the proposals this year; we take a Vote in the Estimates for the purpose; I cannot at the present moment name the place. The Topographical department have been engaged in examining several places, and in a short time I suppose I shall be able to announce the decision to the House. I am anxious to do so as soon as possible, because I know it would be convenient for Militia and Yeomanry regiments to be able to make their arrangements. We had the good fortune to have present last year a great number of distinguished foreign officers, and I have every reason to believe that the complimentary expressions they used were not merely the result of their politeness, but they were really gratified by what they saw. The number of men assembled was, I understand, quite as large as is usual at similar Continental manœuvres. I regret very much that the Yeomanry, with the exception of the Hampshire corps, could not attend—owing, I believe, to the lateness of the harvest; but, whatever place may be selected this year, I hope a large portion of the auxiliary forces will assemble with the Regular 908 Army. I had intended to say something about stores and forts; but I have already trespassed so long on your indulgence that I must leave that to my right hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Henry Storks), on a future occasion when the Vote for that purpose is taken. I only wish, in conclusion, to advert to one circumstance which occurred in the course of the year which affords me very great satisfaction, and which conduces extremely to the good government and welfare of the Army. The House will recollect that an important Committee was appointed relative to the business of the War Office, which was presided over by Lord Northbrook, and I cannot mention his name without expressing my regret at his approaching removal, while I heartily congratulate the country on his promotion to the high office, the duties of which he is so well qualified to discharge to the public advantage and to his own honour. Owing to the Report of that noble Lord's Committee, and the kindness of the House in permitting me to carry the Bill, which enabled a better division to be made of the duties and labours of the War Department; and, owing to the union of the principal offices under one roof, there has arisen a convenience and a facility in the transaction of business which, I am sure, everybody who knows anything about it must be delighted to witness. And I hope that, when the new buildings shall have been completed, we may be able to accommodate not only all the principal offices, but even those outlying departments which are now placed at the Horse Guards, because we cannot find room for them in the present building. I know that decentralization is very justly a favourite topic in this House; and if I tell you that in the last three years we have diminished our average daily correspondence from 1,500 registered letters to 900, I think you will admit that we are making some progress in the mode of conducting the business of the Army. I believe I speak the sentiments of others as well as my own in saying this; and I can only say that I trust this change will be a source of great benefit and advantage to the community. Sir, I now confide to the Committee these proposals. I am very conscious bow imperfectly I have brought them before the Committee. I sincerely trust, however, that when the Committee see 909 them in a more ample form in the Memorandum of the Commander-in-Chief and the Report of General M'Dougall, they will see reason to approve and accept them. They do not commit you to extravagant proposals at a future time; but they do accomplish this—that for what you spend you shall have a return; that you shall combine the different forces, for which you require the public money, in one system, devised for one purpose, and devoted to one end and object; and that, instead of a vast variety of disorganized and conflicting arrangements, you will have the strength of this country combined in a form which, I think, will secure it not only against danger, but against the apprehension of danger. We stated last year that we should endeavour to secure you not only against danger, but against constantly recurring panics; and I trust that you will find we have faithfully redeemed the promise we then made.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 133,649, all ranks (including an average number of 6,185, all ranks, to be employed with the Depôts in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland of Regiments serving in Her Majesty's Indian Possessions), be maintained for the service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, from the 1st day of April 1872 to the 31st day of March 1873, inclusive.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that hon. Members on his side of the House were sincerely desirous last year of supporting the Government in their plans for the re-organization of the Army, provided they could approve them, and they were now ready to give the fullest and fairest consideration to the proposals just explained by the right hon. Gentleman, which he trusted would not give rise to so much difference as the proposal to abolish purchase. But whatever should be the ultimate view Which the House might take of the plan proposed by the Government, the propositions embraced such a great mass of details, and touched so deeply the future constitution and welfare of the Army, that he was sure he expressed the sentiment of everyone who heard him when he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to allow the House a reasonable time for considering the proposals, and he therefore trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would now allow the debate to be adjourned, without calling on the Com- 910 mittee to agree to the amount of force to be maintained, for the adoption of that Vote would be tantamount to passing the whole of the Estimates. He would avoid saying at present anything likely to lead to debate, though there were some points which he had expected the right hon. Gentleman to refer to; but as the right hon. Gentleman adverted to the manœuvres of last year, he wished to observe that he believed that with respect to them the feeling of satisfaction and delight was general. He believed that they were very beneficial to the Army, and was therefore glad to hear that they were to be renewed in the present year.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that if it were agreeable to the Committee he would move that the Chairman report Progress, with the view of taking the discussion on Monday.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he thought the discussion on the proposals should be adjourned until hon. Members had had time to consider them. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) had expressed his apprehension that he had imperfectly explained the propositions; but he must say that nothing could be more clear than the right hon. Gentleman's statement, and there were many matters of which he spoke, especially that relating to local organization, which persons who took an interest in the Army must approve. But out of the 29 proposals of the right hon. Gentleman, only two of them were such as could not have been carried out without the abolition of purchase. That entirely confirmed the view taken by himself and his hon. Friends in the fierce contests of last Session.
§ MAJOR ANSON
expressed a hope that, before the discussion was resumed, the Minute of the Commander-in-Chief and the proceedings of the Committee presided over by General M'Dougall, which had been referred to, would be laid before the House.
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
took exception to the very large expenditure proposed in the present year for the Army, and said that out of the House a very strong feeling prevailed that the defences of the country were founded on the wrong principle of keeping up a large expensive Army. The country was coming to the conclusion that no nation could be regarded as secure unless its people took some part in the military 911 organization. One Member of the Government last year expressed the opinion that the war between France and Germany had rung the knell of standing Armies, and that it was perfectly clear no standing Army could hope to keep the field against a body of men organized for their own defence. He and those who agreed with him, however, had never asked for anything like the German system of conscription; they had never believed the requirements of the country needed it. Some such system as the Swiss seemed best adapted to our wants. Certainly the people of the country must themselves devote a certain amount of time to preparation for defensive warfare if our system were to be trusted. The whole secret of the success attending the German siege of Paris was to be found in the fact that the people of France had not been trained to arms; had they been so the German line of communication would have been broken through, and the position of the German Army would have become dangerous in the extreme. The French, however, trusted to their standing Army, and without it they were helpless. He was convinced that at the next Election the voters in the large towns would express themselves very plainly in protest against our enormous military Estimates. This year's would be £1,000,000 in excess of last year's. He was not surprised that the Autumn Manœuvres should have been viewed with satisfaction by our foreign visitors, for they must have seen how expensive and yet how inefficient our system was; but he was afraid that Englishmen had little reason to participate in that satisfaction. In conclusion, he acknowledged that several of the changes suggested by the right hon. Gentleman would be improvements.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
said, that the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. A. Herbert's) eulogy of the Swiss system was rather less interesting than it would otherwise have been, owing to the fact that the Swiss were now busily engaged in altering and amending it. He hoped that the Government would defer the further discussion of these proposals to a later date than next Monday, because two days were not sufficient to master the Minute of the Commander-in-Chief and the Report of the Committee. He also wished to ask, whether lieutenants of Militia before the 1st of November would be re- 912 quired to pass a general as well as a professional examination before they would be admitted into the Army; and whether officers of the Line would be promoted to commands in the Guards, or officers of the Guards to promotion in the Line?
expressed the great satisfaction with which he had listened to the Secretary of State for War's very complete statement, and asked whether, in the case of promotion in the Guards, he had understood the right hon Gentleman to say that officers were to be brought in from other regiments and promoted into the Guards, or, whether such promotion was to be regimental?
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War for his very clear statement; and although he would refrain at present from passing any opinion on its details, he was sure it would commend itself to the country as a whole, because it was the very scheme the country had been asking for, and gave some hope that in future we should be able to find men when wanted, and find them able to do the work required of them. He was glad the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Auberon Herbert) had made the statement he had, because he was convinced the voice of the country would be against him, as it had shown itself upon two previous occasions in reference to two other matters upon which the hon. Member held erroneous opinions. He trusted the House would be put into possession of the promised Papers before the scheme was discussed.
§ MR. EASTWICK
asked that the debate be adjourned beyond Monday, and suggested that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War should require our military attachés at foreign Courts to draw up Reports on the subject of compulsory service; and, in the case of those countries in which it had been adopted, to state the reasons which had led to its adoption. He doubted whether the feeling against it in England was so strong as the right hon. Gentleman supposed.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, he hoped there was no truth in the rumour that the advanced Artillery class was to be abandoned. He was told that there were at present very few candidates for admission into the class; but he thought this only showed that the inducements 913 offered were insufficient. This was no time when the higher scientific training of our offices should be diminished or discouraged. He regretted to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War confirm the statement in the Royal Warrant—that it would be two years before any commissions were thrown open to competition. He certainly thought that the commencement of the new system would be synchronous with the abandonment of the old; whereas, it now seemed that, as far as new commissions were concerned, we had at present the advantages of neither system. As regarded the commissions to be granted to candidates from the Universities, he thought the number should be limited, and could not consider Responsions a sufficient test. He should have preferred to see such commissions confined to those who have taken honours. Lastly, it was stated in the Royal Warrant that the open competition for commissions would be taken on the standard recommended by the Royal Commission on Education. The present system, which had been adopted, after much consideration, two years ago, was, however, an improvement on that recommended by the Commission, and, if altered at all, he hoped it would be by giving more weight to mathematics and other branches of science, rather than by attaching still greater importance to Latin and Greek. It was very desirable that the country should know as soon as possible what the new system of competitive examination was to be, and what would be the relative proportion of marks given for different subjects. While anxious for information on these points, he could not refrain from congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on the very able and interesting statement he had made.
§ MR. WHEELHOUSE
remarked that civilians had a greater interest in this question than was commonly imagined. He therefore trusted that the full discussion of the subject would be fixed for a date somewhat later than Monday next, and that the important Report, to which allusion had been made, would be produced beforehand.
§ MR. HOLMS
also appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to give the House a little more time, especially as the localization 914 of troops included all the questions of the Reserves, Control, &c. At the same time he must admit that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman contained the very essence of all military reform, though he (Mr. Holms) would find it necessary to disagree with some features of the scheme by-and-by.
§ MR. RYLANDS
, although he did not agree with the hon. Member for Nottingham's (Mr. Auberon Herbert's) view of military arrangements, thought the public out-of-doors took a deep interest in the amount of expenditure the House sanctioned. All the plans of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, admitting that they would prove as successful as he expected, were only additional reasons why they should keep down the number of men voted for the Regular Army to a minimum. It was depreciating the Militia and the Volunteers to ask the House to vote more men for the Regular Army than they had, when those auxiliary forces either did not exist at all, or existed only in an inefficient state. In his opinion the number of men ought to be reduced, and the total expenditure on their war force confined to what was thought sufficient two years ago.
§ LORD ELCHO
asked for the production of the reports as well of English as of foreign officers, relative to the manœuvres, before the House was called upon to vote the money for the several forces.
§ SIR HENRY HOARE
dissented from the view taken by the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands), and hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would not consent to reduce the number of men that he had proposed that night. Without in the least disparaging either the Militia or the Volunteers, they were bound to have a certain number of drilled troops on whom they could depend in order to maintain their Regular Army, and this was certainly not a moment, nor were we in a position, in which we could safely afford to disregard the possibility of European complications arising. As the representative of a populous constituency (Chelsea), he would be no party to sweeping reductions in our military forces, and he believed that the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman would give general satisfaction throughout the country.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he hoped that the discussion upon the Army Estimates would not be taken before Thursday next. He desired to know whether, in connection with the majors in the Artillery, it was proposed to do away with first lieutenants?
§ MR. CARDWELL
, in fixing a day for the discussion to be taken, had only in view the convenience of the House. Thursday not being at his disposal, he supposed he had better fix the discussion for next Monday week. In answer to various questions, the right hon. Gentleman said that Militia lieutenants transferred to the Line would be subject to the same general examination as Queen's cadets, and to the same professional examination as non-commissioned officers promoted. From what he had heard about the present system of Responsions at Oxford, he thought he would require a further test. Captains and lieutenant colonels in the Guards would not be allowed to exchange with lieutenant colonels of the Line, and only mounted officers would stand for promotion on a footing with majors in the Line. Exchanges between the two branches he did not think would often occur. With reference to the Autumn Manœuvres, he thought he had already said that he would lay upon the Table of the House the Reports of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, of the Control department, and of the Executive Commission. It would not be in conformity with usage, neither would it be right, to lay upon the Table the Reports of commanding officers relative to recruiting; but that of the Inspector General in connection with that subject would be laid upon the Table.
§ SIR HEDWORTH WILLIAMSON
, in referring to the great diminution in the Estimates under the head of sums expended for the purchase of horses for the Royal Artillery, wished to know why it was that the artillery was not properly horsed? He had himself seen three batteries of artillery which ought to have been able to horse 18 guns unable to turn out more than eight in consequence of the want of horses.
§ SIR HENRY STORKS
explained that there were at present 275 horses wanting to complete the full number of the Royal Artillery, but that number would be purchased before the 1st of April. 916 During the present month 140 had been purchased.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.