§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
(1.) Question [March 4] again 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.
Whereupon Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 113,649, 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."—(Mr. Holms.)
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that when, a week ago, he moved that the Chairman should report Progress, he did so, because of the late hour to which the debate was prolonged, 1763 and because he thought it was desirable that the scheme of the Government for the reorganization of the Army should be thoroughly discussed. It was true that the immediate question before the House was that raised by the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms), for the reduction of the Army by 20,000 men; but he could scarcely believe that his hon. Friend would press his Motion to a division, having had the opportunity of making a clear and able speech, as to many parts of which—especially as to the necessity of having efficient soldiers, if we had any at all—there would be a general concurrence. He (Lord Elcho) himself had suggested last Session a reduction of 10,000 men, increasing, at the same time, the Militia Reserve and the artillery; but he was met by the argument that the principle of the Government in dealing with the question was to establish a system of Reserve; and the way to obtain that Reserve in the speediest manner possible was to keep up our force temporarily, so as to get more men into the Reserve. That reply carried conviction to his mind, and he believed it would be easier and cheaper in the end to adopt such an arrangement. On this occasion it was the general scheme of the Government rather than the Motion of his hon. Friend to which he should address himself. The principle of the scheme must necessarily commend itself to every person who had turned his mind at all to the question, for the principle was localization; and whoever had spoken, written, or lectured of late agreed that the foundation of any sound military system must be a local system, whether you called it one of centres, divisions, or anything else. That was the Prussian system, established after Jena, and which had proved so effective at Sadowa and in the recent campaign. The nucleus of it previously existed in our own Army; and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War might, perhaps, have found another example while acting as Chief Secretary for Ireland, because if you took out the word "depôt" centre and substituted "head" centre, you found a similar system existing in Ireland. The plan, therefore, was not original; but he gave his right hon. Friend the credit of perceiving that the very root of military re-organization was the establishment of 1764 local centres, round which all the component parts of the system might be grouped. He therefore gave his right hon. Friend credit not only for grappling with this question, but for courage in now proposing, after the increased expenditure of last year, and in the face of letters written in The Times, from below the gangway, before the Session began, upon the necessity of reducing expenditure, an increased grant of money for the purpose of carrying out this system of localization. Certain questions, however, ought to be asked before the Committee were perfectly satisfied that we had got all we wanted, and that our military organization rested on a sure, safe, and satisfactory basis. They had to inquire—first, whether, admitting the localization scheme to be generally sound, all the component parts of that scheme were well cemented together; and, secondly, whether this scheme might not have been laid on the Table of the House last year, or, indeed, any time since 1857, when the Volunteer Force was first called into existence. First, as to the Army, what you wanted was sufficient physique and a sufficient supply of men. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting in support of his views as being entirely satisfactory in both those respects; but his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Anson) quoted the same Report to confute the views of the right hon. Gentleman. If the present system succeeded, no one would be more glad than he should be. That system was founded upon the abolition of the pension system, the Government trusting to get recruits by inducements of short service—six years with the Regulars, then for a certain time to enter the Reserve, after which all connection with the Government was to be at an end. The Inspector General of Recruiting said that the supply of men for the Army had not been quite sufficient, and that, as to physique, the Artillery, in which men of considerably greater stamina were necessary, was short by 1,783 men.
§ MR. CARDWELL
What he says is, that having recently made a large addition to the Artillery, and peculiar physical qualifications being necessary in that corps, we have not yet been able to procure the whole number of men required.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that was, in substance, what he had stated. As to ordinary recruits for the Line, he had received general statements that they were not possessed of the requisite stamina; and seeing was believing, for he had himself observed the weakly condition of many of the men in some regiments. However, the point as to recruiting for the Army had been thoroughly discussed by his hon. and gallant Friend, and he should now proceed to the question of the pension. The Inspector General said that recruits still inquired what pensions they would get, while they saw the majority of discharged soldiers enjoying such retiring allowances, and he also said there had not yet been sufficient time to judge whether short service, with a limited number of men serving on pensions, would be popular; but it might be fairly surmised that those conditions would not be sufficient to meet the increasing demand in the face of the constant rise in the rate of wages in the labour market. His right hon. Friend had answered a Question earlier in the evening as to the First Class Reserve, and he (Lord Elcho) would like to know how many of the 7,165 men in that Reserve were men who had a pension in prospect, and would, therefore, forfeit it if they did not come up?
§ MR. CARDWELL
My belief is, that the larger proportion of these men are not looking forward to a pension.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, in that case the scheme was likely to work more satisfactorily than the Inspector General himself seemed to think. Unquestionably, however, it was a great risk. The Inspector General said that to meet the increase of wages and the demand for labour you would have to increase the inducements to recruits, and he (Lord Elcho) believed that these inducements must be increased, and that thus a considerable sum would be spent, perhaps coming near to the cost of the pensions, while we should have no hold upon these men. The pensions acted as a kind of caution money, or rather as a sort of benefit society; it was an inducement to men to remain faithful to their colours, and we then had a body of men who could be trusted. At present, looking at the Report of their own officer, it was, in his opinion, very doubtful whether the scheme of the Government would in the respects he had just mentioned be successful. 1766 Having said so much for the Army, he came, in the next place, to the Militia, and he had always been shy of saying anything which would be likely to derogate from the value of that force. He had always maintained that it constituted the mainstay of our Army for the purposes of national defence, and that the Volunteers were an entirely secondary arm of our military strength. That being so, he hoped that he should not give pain to any Militia officer who might be present by any remarks he might make on the subject; but he must say that, having seen the Autumn Manœuvres, the Militia regiments which took part in them were of a character that led him to the conclusion—and he thought everyone else who witnessed them must be of the same opinion—that if we relied on them as our chief weapon of defence we were leaning on a broken reed. That was, indeed, the impression of every one who saw those regiments. The men were badly clothed, and inferior in physique, many of them being mere boys, unequal to any severe exertion. They marched past as if they were merely anxious to get it over as soon as possible, and, compared with the Regular troops, they presented anything but the appearance of a satisfactory Reserve Force. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, in referring to the Militia, spoke of considerable modifications as being desirable in order to render them an efficient defensive force, adding that unless they were kept out for training for more than a month they could not be properly drilled. His Royal Highness went on to say that physically the men left much to be desired; that most of them were very young and hardly equal to severe exertion; and that they wanted smartness in dress and equipment. Now, so far as he could understand, there was only a sum of £6,000 taken in the Estimates for additional drill for the Militia, and he very much doubted whether for that sum they would get such an amount of training as would make them a thoroughly efficient force, capable of meeting face to face in line such troops as those of France or Prussia. The Militia, therefore, required, in his opinion, much looking after, and the Government, he thought, had made no such provision wich respect to them as would meet the requirements of the case. The Yeomanry also appeared 1767 at the Autumn Manœuvres, and of that force he might say that, as a social institution, nothing could be more valuable. It was, however, necessary that the system of drill should be changed, and that something like the principle which was acted upon in the case of the Hampshire Horse, which, although only 30 or 40 in number, furnished an instance of the most perfect system of training for irregular cavalry in the world, should be adopted. Although if such a change was made some of the men might leave the force, he felt satisfied that there would be afterwards a greater accession of strength. But to say that 14,000 or 16,000 Yeomanry were required to perform the services of the telegraph from village to village, seemed to him to be to call upon them to do a duty for which they were not intended; and he begged, therefore, to call the attention of his right hon. Friend at the head of the War Office to that branch of military organization. He came, in the next place, to the Volunteers, some 30,000 or 40,000 of whom were artillery. His right hon. Friend had stated that he did not mean to issue any more field guns to the Artillery Volunteers, and that was tantamount to telling them they might die out. Now, if they were encouraged, a most valuable artillery force might be secured, for it was the opinion of many of the Volunteer artillery officers, that if additional money were allowed for horsing the guns, the present force might be made very efficient at a comparatively cheap rate—say, £100 a-gun. But a most important branch of field artillery was the big gun horsed by agricultural horses, and worked by waggoners in smock-frocks. When the question was discussed two years ago, the desirability of increasing that branch was strongly urged on the Government by no less a person than His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief. It required, he might add, nothing but organization to carry out the system which had been so admirably worked by Mr. Darby, who was formerly a Member of that House. He had not, however, heard that anything had been done in that direction, although nothing could, in his opinion, form so great an element of national strength as an agricultural artillery such as that of which he was speaking. But it was in dealing with the mass of the Volunteers 1768 that he came to the weak part of the scheme of the Government. He should like to know what position his right hon. Friend meant the Volunteer Force to hold in the defensive system of the country. He supposed that neither they nor the Militia were merely intended to be placed behind fortifications; but there was no Volunteer officer who would maintain that the Volunteers, constituted and trained as they were now, could with safety be placed opposite a Prussian Line, trained to perfection as the latter force now was. The question was, whether any means could be adopted for improving the Militia, and of giving to the Volunteers that training which they ought to have if they were to be introduced as a defensive force in the field before an invader. He believed they could not render the Volunteers efficient, or keep up the number and physique of the Militia without some system of compulsion. The scheme of the Government, as far as it went, was, he believed, sound in principle, but was wanting in that cement which was necessary to bind the whole together. He knew that the view which he held on the point was in many quarters—on both sides of the House—unpopular; but wherever he had spoken recently—at Halifax, Liverpool, and in Westminster Hall—he had been cheered to the echo when he stated that, whatever system we might have on paper, unless we resorted in some form or the other to the old English principle of universal liability for the purposes of home defence, we should be relying on a rope of sand, that our system would continue rotten and hollow, and would stand in need of perpetual tinkering. But be the scheme of the Government bad or good, why, he should like to know, had it not been laid on the Table of the House, instead of in 1872, in 1871 or any year since 1857, when the Volunteer Force came into existence? He ventured to say it could have been. He did not wish to revive the discussion on the question of purchase. All he wished to say was, that the abolition of the purchase system was not necessary for the scheme of this year. But before he touched that he wished to supply an omission in his remarks on the general scheme. He meant on the question of Control. They had had Control tested to a certain extent in the Autumn Manœuvres in Hampshire and Surrey. Now, what did 1769 His Royal Highness say with regard to Control? He said that the main difficulties which presented themselves were with regard to transport, and in some extent to supply. He spoke of the zeal and activity of all the officers employed in the Control department, but thought that those officers had more duties thrown upon them than they could by possibility carry out. He said that the manœuvres of the troops were curtailed within narrower limits from the difficulty of getting to the depôts from which supplies had to be obtained. He recommended the adoption of regimental transport. That was the Report of His Royal Highness. On the other side, there was a Report signed by Deputy Controller Robinson, in which he found fault, not with his own department, but with the military part of the service, and he pointed out the want of proper organization. He went on to a grave question for the consideration of the Government and the House. He (Lord Elcho), in calling attention to this matter before, maintained that in this hierarchy they must have a Control officer absolute in his subordination to the general in command, and further subordinate to the chief of his Staff. But that was not the view of Deputy Controller Robinson, for he suggested that the position of the Control officers on the Staff of the general officer commanding required more recognition. He further suggested that there should be two officers who should have direct personal communication with the general commanding. It was manifest that the system of Mr. Deputy Controller Robinson was not a sound one, and that instead of having two officers of subordinate authority, they ought to have an officer subordinate to the chief of the Staff. He hoped that this important subject of the Control department would be well considered. A question further arose relating to the separation of the supply of provisions for the troops and the supply of food for the guns—namely, the powder, shot, and shell; and he was inclined to believe that instead of making the new arrangement, it would have been better to return to the old plan of having a Master General of the Ordnance, and let him have a seat in the Cabinet. With regard to another point which had not been touched upon, the question of promotion or retirement, the 1770 House had heard nothing of what the scheme of promotion or retirement was to be. On this subject Parliamentary influence, which should have been carefully guarded against, showed signs of springing up. For the first time in the 30 years during which he had sat in Parliament, within the last two months he had received a letter stating that a near relation of the writer was major in a certain regiment, and expressing a hope that, as the colonelcy was about to become vacant, he would speak a favourable word in the proper quarter. He was perfectly certain that that was not a solitary instance, and that other hon. Members had received similar letters; and, if so, it only showed the danger of this change of system, and the possibility of its turning out not seniority tempered by selection, but seniority distempered by selection. But to resume. He saw nothing in the new scheme of Army organization which, in addition to the provision requiring Militia commissions to be no longer signed by Lords Lieutenant, the change in reference to the Militia quota, and placing the Volunteers under the Mutiny Act, would have prevented it from being submitted to Parliament in 1871 instead of 1872; and, in fact, looking at all the elements of the scheme, he said advisedly that it could have been done in 1871 as well as in 1872. He challenged contradiction when he said that the whole scheme could have been submitted to the House without the abolition of purchase. Last year Captain Vivian, the great military authority in the House, admitted that they could carry out all the reforms they wanted without the abolition of purchase; but he added that in that case it would be hard to the officers. But as regarded these hardships, that had never been allowed to stand in the way of changes made in previous years. When the 12 companies of regiments wore reduced to 10, no less than 1,500 officers were made supernumeraries, and also when the military force was reduced after a war, there would operate hardship on officers; but that had never been allowed to stand in the way of Army reform up to the present time. All these changes might have been effected without the Bill of last year, and that was the justification of those who resisted the measure of last year. But for having done so, they had been roundly rated by Members of the Government 1771 during the Recess. His right hon. Friend the Prime Minister—he forgot whether in his seaside speech or in his address at Greenwich—he (Lord Elcho) read both with great admiration—but in one of those speeches the right hon. Gentleman rated all those who said they were in favour of military organization for urging their views on the Government, and he even went so far as to class these objectors with "cattle plague and smallpox"—somewhat strong language, coming from a Prime Minister. But it was not so much of the language of his right hon. Friend he complained, as of that used by one of the Dii Minores of the Treasury Bench. In a very carefully written, elaborately polished speech, spoken during the Recess, a Member of the Government used these words—After a resistance to which the future historian will point as showing how deeply the mercenary taint had dyed the very soul of a certain portion of the Army, down went the Purchase System, with its attendant abominations.These words came from what he might call the Oracle of Elgin. They were spoken at one of those annual meetings which took place, where the oracular utterances were published to the world; and they were told, with the sereneness of self-satisfied dogmatism, what was "the whole duty of Parliamentary manhood." The only objection to these manifestations was that they were somewhat contradictory. As one of those who had fought this battle last year, he might answer with the tu quoque—"See how the official taint had dyed the very soul of a dweller on the Treasury Bench, who could not believe that resistance to a Government measure could arise from anything but a mercenary taint." He begged to tell the hon. Gentleman that there were hon. Members in that House who would act independently—men who were prepared to exercise the right of free private judgment, which, as the representative of a Presbyterian constituency, the hon. Gentleman ought to respect—men who would not be prepared at all times and seasons to believe in the infallibility of Ministers and the immaculate conception of their measures. Such might be a school boy tu quoque; but it was not his reply. His reply was this—let hon. Members look at the arguments used last year, let them study the scheme of the Government calmly and narrowly, and he thought they would 1772 say, what many of them thought, that the Government last year threw away a great opportunity of placing the military organization of the country on a firm and reliable economical basis. They preferred to make political capital out of the European crisis, and the national sentiment, yielding to a blatant, hollow cry, and endeavouring to silence a discontented follower, who was proving himself, in the language of the ring, to be somewhat of an ugly customer. And they did this by passing a measure through an almost unheard-of exercise of the Prerogative, which so far from being necessary for the measure he had shown to the House was not necessary for it, or indeed for any effective measure of military organization.
said, he had listened with so much pleasure to the greater part of his noble Friend's speech, that he would not follow him into that part of it in which he had shown exceeding ingenuity in converting what purported to be an approval of the scheme into something like a party attack. He did not think it necessary to go back on the events of last year, or to decide whether or not the changes now proposed might not have been carried into effect without the abolition of purchase; he was so strong an opponent last year of the abolition of purchase that it was natural for him, with the noble Lord, to entertain the opinion that they might. But, without any consultation with the noble Lord, he certainly had hit on the two points his noble Friend had most prominently brought forward—namely, the omissions in the Government scheme as regarded recruiting and the Volunteers. When his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War brought in the Army Estimates, and made his very admirable and lucid speech, he at once stated the extreme pleasure with which he had listened to it, and that the details of the scheme, so far as they went, could hardly be improved. He trusted, however, that his right hon. Friend would not rest contented with what he proposed to effect, and that at some future time he would favour the country with a supplementary measure. But with regard to recruiting he believed they would feel the want of men more and more, and ultimately, that they would find it impossible to replace the men who would pass from the ranks into the Army Reserve. 1773 They were going into the free labour market and bidding against others for the employment of recruits. We supposed that the population recognized the disadvantages of the French and Prussian systems to such a degree that it was better to put up with the inconvenience which we considered inevitable, and to have a much more expensive though less efficient Army, with the knowledge that all our soldiers were volunteers, and that we resorted to nothing but voluntary enlistment. We had been obliged at various times to give high bounties in order to fill our ranks; but high bounties had not entirely succeeded, and now, having entirely done away with bounties, and omitted to improve the condition of the recruit, he doubted whether they would be able to recruit at all. He referred to the Report of General Edwards for the purpose of showing that even now the supply of recruits fell short of the number required, and that as the hours of labour diminished and the demand for hands increased the deficiency of recruits would be felt still more than at present. The estimate of General Edwards was that 10 per cent of the whole establishment was required for recruits; and he went on to say, that as the long service men passed into the Reserve, that proportion would increase from 10 to 15 per cent; and that when the six years' service men passed into the Reserve in 1876, the proportion required for recruits would rise from 10 to 15 per cent. He (Viscount Bury) believed it would increase even to 20 per cent. The Inspector General's Report, in fact, appeared to him to be a kind of apologetic document, in which he insisted to his official chief that the recruiting scheme would be likely to break down under the stress of the further demands which the British Army would make upon it from time to time. The Army must be kept up to its present establishment. Although they might form an efficient Army of Reserve, it appeared to him that its formation would be at the expense of their first line of defence, which would be a very serious mistake. To pursue such a course would be to imitate the conduct of a man who, though having hitherto lived up to his income, should decide to form a reserve fund, and for that purpose should put aside half of his income for his children; of course, he 1774 would discover that he must either go into debt or reduce his establishment. There was another objection to the short enlistment plan—namely, as it affected the Indian Army. It was impossible that the Indian Government could consent to send home their regiments oftener than once in 10 years; and if the men whose three, five, or six years' service had expired were to be allowed to go home in driblets, it would become necessary to reconstruct their whole Indian Army, or to make some special agreement with the men serving in that country. It was supposed that after six years' service the soldiers would be available for the Reserve Force; but what would be really the case? The man who had joined at 17 or 18 years of age would after six years have forgotten whatever trade he might have been acquainted with previously; his ties with civil life would be severed; and on being again placed on his own resources, though he might nominally be still available for the Reserve, in fact the necessity of earning his own livelihood would but too often either drive him to the colonies or elsewhere. The Inspector General had, in one of the paragraphs of his Report, observed that under the short-service system the Army might be found to offer attractions to that class of young men who now preferred to lead a doubtful life of irregular industry, not seldom resulting in the receipt of parish relief, rather than to apply themselves to a regular course of life; but surely at this time, when they were trying to raise the standard of the Army by offering the prospect of commissions to men in the ranks, and various other ways, it was a mistake to suppose that men of that uncertain and shifty character were worth attracting. On the contrary, the object should be to secure such men as formed the rank and file of the Prussian Army, men taken from the whole population, and who made the Army to be respected because they were themselves respectable men. He must also observe that it had never yet been fully discussed—though the point seemed to be taken for granted—why there should not be compulsory service for the Militia. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) had dwelt last year upon the horrors of conscription, and the hardships of tearing men away from their hearths, and their 1775 homes, and their regular pursuits, in order to compel them to serve for three years. But what was there between that inflammatory appeal and the liability to serve one month every year in the Militia? The opportunity of taking a little healthful exercise was the extent of such a grievance. What would be the effect of calling upon everybody to serve in the Militia? It would fill up the ranks to overflowing with respectable and efficient men, and in case of emergency there would be a well-drilled population. The War Office would then have a real hold over the Volunteer Force, because they could then give an exemption from the Militia to those who could produce a certificate of efficiency in the Volunteers. Whenever a public speaker had occasion to address a meeting and to contend that every citizen was bound to give a certain amount of his time to the defence of our common country, the sentiment was always greeted with cheers. That was his own experience, as well as that of his noble Friend. After every such meeting one man after another came up to him and said that this brief service, compulsory upon all, was the one thing wanted for the defence of the country. The Volunteers had only been referred to in three paragraphs of the Inspector General's Report, and in all those cases the references were of the most slighting and unsatisfactory character. One of the proposals in that Report was that the Volunteers should store their arms in depôt centres; and if this were carried out, the Volunteers in Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, where there were no depôt centres, would have to walk into the middle of the adjoining counties to store their arms after drill, a course that might be found rather inconvenient in practice. It was small matters of this kind that showed the animus of the Government with regard to the Volunteer Force. Another proposition was that the Volunteers should be permitted to make use of the tents vacated by the Militia in order to make themselves as efficient as they could. This would put the Volunteer Force in the position of the dog at Hengler's Circus, whose duty it was, after all the other dogs had gone through their clever tricks, to go behind his master's back and perform an imitation of them as well as he could without any applause or encouragement. The Volunteers in like manner, at the conclusion 1776 of the Militia training, would have to go through their work to the best of their ability, without any one looking after them or instructing them. The time had now arrived when it might be asked whether this force was being fairly treated. In his opinion, the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman was tantamount to doing away with the Volunteer Force altogether. What were the Volunteers accused of? They were accused of not being steady at their drill, of not being disciplined, and of not being ready when called upon at any moment. It was true that the Force was composed of as fine, or of finer, materials than the Line; that its members were willing and even anxious to render themselves efficient and disciplined; and that they numbered 170,000 effective troops. In his view our Army was not so large that we could afford to allow a Force like that to melt into thin air, the more especially as the Volunteer Force was likely more and more to assimilate itself to the Regular Army, and the Regular Army, by a converse process, to assimilate itself with the Volunteers. In comparing the cost of the two Forces, it would be found that whereas every soldier in the Line cost the public from £90 to £100 annually, the Volunteer only cost 30s. Admitting and, indeed, affirming that one was not so good as the other, he asked the House to compare the difference between the cost of the two Forces, and see what they got for their money. The average Linesman was not a man of very high intelligence; sometimes he was a needy scamp; his physical strength was not great; his standard height, as the House would remember last year upon the occasion of calling out the extra 20,000 men, having been reduced from 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 4 inches, and his age when enlisted, nominally 19, was more frequently 17. The Volunteer was a finer man in point of physique, he was better nourished and better educated. The high state of discipline of the British Army under the present system was beyond dispute; but under a short system of service that discipline which was only to be acquired by long years of service would rather deteriorate than improve; whereas, on the other hand, the discipline of the Volunteers under officers more fully acquainted with their duty, and with increased facilities for training, would greatly improve. 1777 If the drill of the Volunteers was not better, whose fault was that? Why, it was the fault of the Government. The fault he found with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was that it gave no hope of opportunities or encouragement being afforded to the Volunteers for organizing or disciplining themselves. From the Volunteer officer the Government could demand any amount of efficiency they chose. When the officers of the Force were required to go to training schools, they had gladly availed themselves of the permission to attend them; and by a very slight alteration in their position, officers from the Regular Army would be induced to become Volunteer officers. In fact, if they were called upon to do more in the direction of making themselves more efficient soldiers, it would be cheerfully done; of that there could be no doubt. If there was to be a welding together of all the forces in this country into one harmonious whole, Volunteer officers, equally with the Militia, should be interchangeable with the officers of the Regular Army. At the present moment the Volunteers seemed to be entirely dissociated from the Regular Army, and wholly disregarded in the scheme which had been laid before the country. He believed that that was not good either in reference to the Army or in reference to the Volunteers, and he hoped that the Secretary of State for War would reconsider that portion of his scheme.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
said, they were asked to sanction an expenditure equal to £18,500,000, which did not include one farthing of the cost of the abolition of purchase. In that House, they had had various proposals for the reconstruction of the Navy or for the reorganization of the Army. He had no enthusiasm for any of those schemes, because after they had been sanctioned he had never found that any of the Departments was less exacting in their demands on the public purse, or that the alarmists had less alarm, or that the country was admitted to be more secure. When commercial men spoke of reorganizing their private establishments, they meant to obtain greater efficiency at less expense; but he never heard in that House of the reorganization of their public establishments without a desire being shown at the same time to increase expenditure. Most of the hon. Gentlemen who had 1778 taken part in that debate had entered into the details of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State's scheme; but he thought that something ought to be said as to the general conduct of the Government in relation to military establishments and expenditure, and the House ought to have some information on the question of policy, as that alone determined our military necessities. He himself and others had been simple enough to believe that when the present Government was formed it was a Government of Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform. It came into power amid the loudest professions of economy and peace, amid the most earnest denunciations of the immoral and extravagant expenditure of the Government which preceded it. So common was the belief that they were to have a policy of nonintervention, and therefore were to keep their military establishments at the defensive point, that he remembered seeing a letter from a distinguished American, who knew this country well, to a friend of his, in which the writer congratulated his friend that at last we had a Government which was largely based on the principles of Mr. Cobden, and which would be economical in regard to public expenditure; and he added that as long as the Government maintained such a policy it would be powerful, and that the moment it departed from that policy it would lose its authority. He might go further back than the autumn of 1868 for the economical professions of the present occupants of the Treasury Bench. In 1862, when France was in the zenith of her power and flushed with recent victory, possessing, after ourselves, the strongest fleet in the world, an earnest attempt was made in that House to diminish our military expenditure by the present President of the Local Government Board, assisted by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, and by the hon. Members for Montrose and Oldham (Mr. Baxter and Mr. Hibbert). He could imagine what the hon. Member for Montrose, if he were sitting on an unofficial bench, would have said to the House that night; and he could not help the thinking that hon. Member looked with contempt on Gentlemen below gangway for taking that change of policy so meekly. Other Members of the Treasury Bench also were economists. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of 1779 the Exchequer was always endeavouring to secure minor economies for the country, and he honoured him for those attempts; but when he remembered that that right hon. Gentleman was a powerful Member of the Government which brought in the present Estimates, he could not but think that he was penny-wise and pound-foolish, and that he strained at gnats and swallowed camels. The speech made by the hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. Grant Duff) had already been referred to that evening. The hon. Member for Elgin, no doubt extremely uneasy at the forgetfulness of the Government in that matter of expenditure, delivered an able address to his constituents on the teachings of Richard Cobden. The men who now sat on the Treasury bench had individually great scruples in regard to the taxation of the people; but, collectively, they were fast becoming—indeed, he believed they had already become—a spendthrift Government. And the misfortune was, that that vast expenditure was not incurred in a direction that was of any good to any human being, but went to strengthen what at the present moment was in almost every country in Europe the greatest possible curse. If the contradiction between the separate units of the Treasury bench and the aggregate were a general law, he should have much consolation on that question, because they were to have some day—he did not desire to see it immediately—a Government formed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and, as he had never heard an hon. Member on the front bench opposite express any opinion whatever in favour of economy, and as, individually, they invariably assisted the Ministerial front bench in every extravagant proposition which it made, he hoped that when they had them collectively as a Government they would be found to be a very economical Government indeed. The present Government—and he said it with pain—had changed their front on that question; and he denied that the country had followed them. They had had a good many elections within the last 12 or 18 months, and, as everybody in that House knew, the Liberal party had lost almost every one of them. That was set down by many of them to the Education Act and to the Licensing Bill of last year; and he did not deny that the Education Act and the Licensing Bill had done something to 1780 weaken the Liberal party. But the first great shock to the Liberal electors in the borough constituencies of England was given when the Government, by its arrangements with regard to Belgium, deliberately opened a door by which this country might, in certain eventualities, be engaged in a vast Continental war. And when, in consequence of the adoption of that policy, an additional force was raised, and an additional expenditure incurred; and when, moreover, that remarkable Budget was introduced, which ultimately ended in an increase of the income tax, he was prepared to assert that these measures fully, as much as anything else, made them lose those elections. Of course, men who spoke as he did were always charged with being for peace at any price; but he was not, and never had been, desirous of seeing this country defenceless; he wished to have reasonable establishments for our defence. Great authorities with both sides of the House had declared that the country might be safely and well governed with a reduction of many millions on the national expenditure. The people had been educated to look in that direction, and educated, too, by the present Prime Minister and other Members of his Government as much, and perhaps more, than by any other men in the country. They had been taught to think it was not impossible that the tea and sugar duties might be abolished. If that were done, they would add to the temperance of the nation, improve the condition of the poor, and greatly increase the commerce of the country. Again, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer well knew, there was a large party desirous of the abolition of the income tax—an impost levied, he believed, with great cruelty and injustice, men being in many cases not only robbed, but insulted. He wanted, therefore, to know, before entering into that scheme, what was the necessity for those vast military preparations, and that enormous expenditure. £18,500,000 was a large sum, and although it had been stated that £3,500,000 would not come out of the revenue of the year, no one would be so foolish as to suppose that the sum did not come out of the pockets of the taxpayer. The Government should give a reason for this large military expenditure and for a permanently increased Army. Had they fears of an invasion? 1781 If so, they should state the ground of those fears, and whence they apprehended invasion. He had been told that 500 big ships would be needed to land 100,000 men on these shores, and what country possessed 500 big ships? If the Government did not fear invasion, the only cause for an increasing Army must be the contemplation of some aggressive policy. Which of the two reasons had influenced the Government? The £3,500,000 was set apart to provide barracks all over the country; but past experience gave no security that the Estimate would not be exceeded, and was it to be presumed that further cause for extravagant expenditure would not be found as soon as this had come to an end? The favourite excuse for this expenditure was that we were about to weld into one harmonious whole something little short of half a million of men. He contended, however, that this result would be better described by saying that it was intended to convert the people into a military nation, by departing from the policy we had hitherto adopted of being satisfied with defensive armaments, to tread the path which had been followed with so much calamity by Continental people. This was a grave change, and formed so signal a departure from the professions of the Government that, rather than carry it out, they should abide by the ordinary constitutional practice of leaving such work to the Opposition. If this had been done, there would have been a true opposition to the Government instead of a sort of conspiracy between the two front benches to saddle the country with a great expenditure. Where was this policy to stop? Some 18 months or two years ago 20,000 men were added to the Army as a consequence of temporary excitement. The excitement had subsided; but the 20,000 men remained attached to the Army. In the course of two or three years a new cause of excitement would spring up, and the Government would ask for another 20,000 men. Nor was there any reason to suppose any limit could be fixed to these additions to the permanent Army. He cared as much for the honour of the country as any man, though it was true he took a different standard for estimating questions of national honour from that adopted by some. There were millions of poor on the Continent groaning 1782 beneath the weight of excessive armaments, and he was anxious that this country, by example and precept, should take such a course as would assist them in their efforts to shake off the burden. It could not be too often stated that, as far as this country was concerned, our expenditure amounted to £15 per family, and yet many families did not earn £15 in half a-year. He had noticed that agricultural labourers had begun to mount the platform, and complain of being underpaid; but, curious to relate, those who represented the districts where the lowest wages were paid were the most active in promoting extravagance in Parliament. If the Government knew and saw as much of their constituencies as they did of Pall Mall; if they saw as much of the poverty, destitution, and toil of those for whom they acted as they did of the luxury, ostentation, and extravagance of the wealthy portion of London, they would yield less complacently to imbecile cries for increased military forces and devote more attention to the condition of the people. They heard from time to time of what the party owed to the Government; he had always given the reasonable degree of allegiance required of him; but if the party owed something to the Government the Government owed something to the party. At least the Government should be faithful in its official career to the professions by means of which it achieved power. In conclusion, he protested against this country being made a military nation. No advantage had ever accrued to any nation for having taken that line, and, although the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms) would not wholly meet the difficulty, still it was a protest, and he would support him in making it.
§ MAJOR ARBUTHNOT
said, he should have thought, however opinions might differ as to the necessity of making the country secure, or as to the best mode of doing this, there would, at least, have been unanimity on one point—namely, that it was inadvisable to reduce the Regular Forces at the present conjuncture of affairs. He agreed with the hon. Mover and Seconder of the Amendment that it was desirable to reduce the number of the permanent forces to the lowest possible point consistently with the providing foreign reliefs; but, at the same time, he maintained that the 1783 Reserves should be increased alike in numbers and efficiency. However, be would leave these points for the present and deal with the Government scheme. In doing so, he divided it into two parts—dealing, first, with the general principles involved in the policy of the Government, and secondly with the effect of carrying out that policy on the component parts of the service. He was specially gratified at being able to swell the general chorus of congratulation which had met the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War on having at last taken the advice of military men, and introduced a scheme which only required to be well carried out to become a great one: he would not detract from the scheme on the ground that it came a year too late, or that it could have been carried out without the abolition of purchase. The scheme was commendable because it afforded a substantial basis upon which to work, also because it contrasted most favourably with our previous military legislation, which had been of too fragmentary, or patchwork a character. The infantry forces were to be organized into brigades, and some hope might be entertained that the organization might be extended to the division, and the corps d'armée. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not rest contented until he had established and formed corps d'armée throughout the country, complete in every arm, in transport, in commissariat, and in all the paraphernalia of war. Under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman both the Volunteers and the Militia would be brought into closer contact with the Regulars, and would have greater opportunities of learning their profession than had hitherto been the case, while the scheme had to him this further recommendation—that, in his opinion, it could be as easily carried out under a system of compulsory as of voluntary service. The best point of all in the entire scheme was, perhaps, the determination which the right hon. Gentleman had shown to get the matter out of hand at once, by the buying of barracks and parade grounds, and the building of barracks where they were found to be necessary. He called this the best point, because without it the remainder of the scheme could not be carried into effect. Having thus expressed his general approval 1784 of the scheme, he trusted if he criticized some parts of the right hon. Gentleman's policy he should not be suspected of doing so in a carping or party spirit. One of the points to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded was the question of recruiting. He (Mr. Cardwell), in his opening speech, took it for granted that the House and the country were still in favour of voluntary service, and that the number of men required would be obtained under that system. The first of these points he readily admitted; but on the second he was not so credulous. He believed we should have to resort to compulsory service. He knew that was an unpopular sentiment, because that system was supposed to be synonymous with the conscription carried out in France. But it need not necessarily mean anything of the kind. He believed that a compulsory system might be carried out, so as to amount to little more than having one's name on the register, and a few days' drill in the year; and if we were ever to have a Reserve, he believed we should come to that. On the subject of Reserve the right hon. Gentleman had not spoken with quite so much confidence. He himself had no faith in the present Army or Militia Reserves, on the grounds that there was no certainty, as the police reports showed, of the 4d. per diem men being present when wanted, and because the Militia Reserve men were not sufficiently drilled. We could only get a Reserve Force in one of two ways, or, rather, by a combination of both. One was to carry out a scheme similar to that proposed last year by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire, making it compulsory that every man who aspired to fill one of the subordinate civil appointments should have served a certain number of years in the Army to qualify him. The other plan was to make the Militia what it was not now, but what it ought to be—the real Reserve of the Army. That would not be the case until Militiamen were enrolled liable to general service in case of war, and were, by hook or by crook, put through six months' consecutive drill in their first year. There certainly might be a supplementary mode, such as the establishment of schools in central districts. He would now say a few words on points to which the right hon Gentleman had not referred. 1785 If we were to have an Army, it would be of little use unless we were able to move and supply it. He did not think we had sufficient means of doing so at present; but as he intended to bring that subject before the House in another form, he would not trouble the Committee with any remarks on the subject at present. Another point to which he wished to refer was the appointment of officers and their subsequent promotion. They had only heard in general terms the various modes of ingress. He thought the House ought to know something more of the class of officers we should have in the Army under the new system. He wished to ascertain the probable proportion of each class, and the character of our future officers. What they had heard last year from the Treasury Bench about every soldier carrying a Field Marshal's baton in his knapsack was either mere clap-trap, or it implied that the Army was to be to a large extent officered from the non-commissioned class, and he thought it was but fitting that the right hon. Gentleman should state what his intentions upon this point were. Personally, he was afraid that the Army might be officered from three incongruous classes, classes which never could amalgamate—the highly educated, the comparatively educated, and the comparatively uneducated—a state of things most undesirable, and which he believed had greatly conduced to the disasters experienced by the French in the late war. With regard to the subsequent promotion, too, it was desirable that the right hon. Gentleman should give the House and the Army some idea of what was meant by seniority tempered by selection; whether an officer's total length of service, or length of service in one particular rank, was considered as qualification for promotion. The memorable Gazette of the 13th of last month—the first under the new system—recorded the appointment of six officers to lieutenant-colonelcies of regiments, and in some of these regiments the posts had been vacant for more than two months. Having received several communications on the subject, he addressed a Question to the right hon. Gentleman, and obtained just as much information as was usually afforded by him when no real information was intended to be given. He then took the 1786 not unusual course of giving Notice that he should repeat his Question, the result being that the right hon. Gentleman, with some warmth, said that he did not intend to satisfy his (Major Arbuthnot's) curiosity as to what had passed in relation to the subject between His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief and himself, but that the names of the officers promoted had been recommended by the Commander-in-Chief, approved by himself, and sent for the sanction of Her Majesty, adding that if he (Major Arbuthnot) would put the facts together he would find there had been no unnecessary delay. He failed to see the logical consistency of the right hon. Gentleman's reply. He begged to say he had no curiosity whatever on the subject. He had merely asked the cause of a delay detrimental to the service, which had never occurred under the old system. He would, however, place some facts before the Committee, and ask it to judge whether the unnecessary delay he complained of had not occurred. The first vacancy arose on the 9th of December, and the last on the 14th of the following February; but the whole of them was gazetted on the 13th of February, or the day on which the last regiment became vacant. If, therefore, it was possible to fill up a vacancy on the day on which it occurred, there must surely have been delay—unnecessary delay, he thought—in not appointing to a regiment vacant on the 9th of December until the 13th of the following February. He would state the true reason for this delay, and he challenged the right hon. Gentleman to deny his accuracy. The December vacancies were such that the Commander-in-Chief at once recommended the majors of the regiments for promotion; but the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War wished to carry out his principle of selection, and therefore said to himself—"We will wait until a vacancy occurs in which we can carry out selection, and then all will go smoothly." In each subsequent case, however, the next senior officer had even stronger claim for promotion. At last Parliament was about to meet, so the vacancies had to be filled up, and the principle of selection vindicated, so a victim was chosen in the person of an officer who had seen 27 years' service, had been severely wounded in action, and had received the thanks of 1787 the Government of India for services rendered. The system upon which these promotions were to proceed had not been clearly and distinctly laid down, and, therefore, the country had no protection against a system of promotion which was detrimental to the service. He must again raise his protest against the system of selection, and ask the War Minister to substitute rejection as an infinitely preferable mode of conducting promotion, and one to which no one could object. Under the old system he had known officers to be rejected for promotion on the ground of incompetency, and he had also known the principle of rejection to be carried out in consequence of the youth of the officers who stood, as far as seniority in the regiment was concerned, at the head of the list. That was so in the case of the 11th Hussars. The lieutenant-colonelcy became vacant, but on account of the youthfulness of the officers next in seniority, the major of the 10th Hussars was promoted, and the step went throughout the regiment which he left, but no complaint was made. He also hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to adopting some system, as he must recollect that he had abolished one which gave the necessary flow of promotion without cost to the taxpayers, which would, without prejudice to the discipline of the Army, render the service, to some extent, self-supporting as to its non-effective service. Now, with regard to the branch of the service to which he himself belonged. It was a great satisfaction to him to be able to assure the right hon. Gentleman that his course of action on two points in regard to the Royal Artillery had been most gratefully received by the officers, whether benefited by it or not. The right hon. Gentleman had given a good reason for making the first captains majors, on account of the position which they held; and even if that boon was not so complete as it appeared on first announcement, artillery officers did not wish to make unreasonable complaints. With regard to placing officers on the supernumerary list, he thought it would prove to be good for the officers by giving a certain permeation of steps to the juniors, and also for the service. With respect to the abolition of the Warrant, which gave a retiring pension of £600 a-year to certain officers in the 1788 Artillery, there were a few officers who would be greatly disappointed, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would let them down as easily as possible, as he could do so without any material cost to the country. There were but five or six who would retire, and he should have thought as vacancies occurred the right hon. Gentleman might have allowed them £450 out of the £600, making up the residue by special Vote. If that were done, a great deal of soreness and irritation would be put an end to; the amount of money disposable for the promotion of the rest of the corps would not be reduced, and the increased burden upon the country would be infinitesimal. With regard to the organization of the Artillery, he last year moved for a Select Committee to inquire into the general state of that branch of the service, and only withdrew his Motion on receiving an assurance that the inquiry should be carried out; but if he had known the limited nature of the inquiry to be made, he assured the right hon. Gentleman that his Motion would not have been withdrawn. He must, in passing, protest against the appointment as Members of such Committees of officers who, being heads of departments, had already quite as much business on their hands as they could hope satisfactorily to attend to. The Report, he believed, was to be limited to one portion of the question—namely, the brigade system. He trusted that the tenour of the remarks which had fallen from him and from other hon. Members who were more or less connected with the Army would have convinced the right hon. Gentleman that they felt disposed to support him cordially whenever he introduced any scheme which, in their judgment, was for the benefit of the Army and of the country; and that their opposition to the proposal made last year was due to strong convictions, and could not be justly attributed to professional prejudices or anything approaching to a spirit of partizanship.
§ EARL PERCY
said, he wished to touch upon one or two points in connection with the Reserve Forces. There were many points on which the scheme would be very beneficial, especially as it affected the Volunteers; but, at the same time, there were many other points, especially in connection with the Militia, which would not be so very beneficial. He 1789 would invite the Committee to consider for a moment what would be the position in which the field officers of Militia regiments would be placed under the new system. He believed that no corps commanded by gentlemen in the position in which the commanding officers of Militia regiments would be placed by the operation of this scheme, would ever be in a really healthy state of efficiency. In the first place, the commanding officers would, for the future, be under the control of the lieutenant-colonels of the depôts, and they would be subject on all occasions—he did not use the word invidiously—to the constant interference of the brigadier. They were told that it was not the intention of the promoters of the scheme that the brigadier should interfere during the non-training period of the year with the exercise of the duties of the commanding officer; but they were told, at the same time, that the whole of the recruiting was to be in the hands of the lieutenant-colonels of the depôt, to which the permanent Staff was to be attached, and he confessed that he failed entirely to understand what was left for the commanding officer of a Militia regiment to do, except to perform the duty of furnishing a few formal returns, and making up the accounts. He hoped, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman would state what would be the actual effect of placing the lieutenant-colonel of a depôt in the position he would hold under the new scheme with reference to the commanding officers of the Militia. But that was not all, for it was to be regretted that the choice which a commanding officer of Militia had been hitherto able to exercise in the selection of his permanent Staff would henceforth be restricted. Hitherto the permanent Staff had been chosen from any regiment containing efficient officers who desired to join the Militia; but in future the adjutants and the sergeant would have to be selected from the particular regiment with which the Militia regiment happened to be linked. It was possible that at the moment an adjutant was required there might be no officer in that particular regiment who was at all qualified for the work, while in another regiment there might be an officer eminently qualified and anxious to undertake it; but yet, because the latter did not happen to belong to the regiment to which the Militia regiment 1790 was to be attached, he would not be able to have the post. The same thing applied to the sergeants with this difference—that in future the sergeant-majors and quartermaster-sergeants would be only colour-sergeants, instead of belonging, as had generally been the case hitherto, to a higher class of men. He should be glad also to be informed how a good result in the sending of sergeants to the depôt was to be ensured. It would be the natural feeling of the colonel of a Line regiment to keep the best sergeants for his own use in his own regiment, and he would send—he (Earl Percy) did not like to say the worst, but, at all events, the least best sergeants to be attached to the Militia. Then what power would the commanding officer have over his personal Staff? Would he be able to punish a sergeant for a dereliction of duty? He would, no doubt, be able to send him back to the depôt; but then it would rest with the lieutenant-colonel of the depôt to enforce the punishment, and he might not agree with the commanding officer. Such a state of things would very much hamper the commanding officer of a Militia regiment in the exercise of his functions. Then as to drill. Hitherto it had been the practice to take the men to places distant from the large towns to which they belonged when they had to undergo their annual training. The men were then taken entirely away from their old haunts and temptations; they got fresh air and change of scene; and so beneficial was that considered to be, that he knew for a fact that many artizans willingly sacrificed their wages for the month of training in order to get the advantages he had spoken of, and which they considered worth the sacrifice. Under the new system, however, these men would be exposed to all the temptations to which they were now exposed in large towns, and it would be much harder to keep them under strict discipline. Another point which deserved consideration was this—the intention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War was not, he supposed, to change the character of the Militia, or to eliminate what he might call the civilian class of officers, but only to increase the efficiency of the force. But all Militia officers were to be subjected to a very strict qualifying examination for promotion; and he might remind the Committee 1791 that it was possible to mate those qualifications so onerous that gentlemen who had other pursuits, and who had to devote their attention to other claims, would not be able to fulfil them. Then there was to be placed in the Militia a class of gentlemen wholly different from the class hitherto placed there—a class of gentlemen who would join the Militia as a stepping-stone to obtaining commissions in the Army; and that would keep out the country gentlemen. It was also proposed in the new scheme to give commissions to half-pay captains, so as to stop as far as possible all hope of promotion on the part of subalterns who joined. No subaltern joined the Militia without a hope of promotion, and he believed that a great risk would be run by leaving the Militia to be officered by half-pay captains and subalterns who wished to pass into the Regular Army. Then, what was to be the condition of the present adjutants and permanent Staff? After the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman last year that the condition of the adjutants should not be altered, he took it for granted that there was no intention to remove them; but when he remembered that many of the present adjutants were in the Army long before the lieutenant-colonels now placed in command, he could not help thinking that they would feel it a very hard thing indeed if they were expected to serve under their juniors, to do more duty than they had done hitherto, and to be without the smallest hope of promotion. If such officers did not resign, it would be owing to the fact they were generally poor men, who could not afford to give up their appointments, however disagreeable these appointments might be made. The same remark applied to the course adopted with regard to the sergeants of the permanent Staff, who were a very deserving class of men, and whose position ought not to be made worse by changes over which they had no control. At the same time, though he had indulged in the criticisms he had, yet he approved of many of the principles embodied in the proposed change, especially that one which removed the Militia out of billets and placed them under canvas; but he hoped there would be an ample supply of tents served out to the men who were to be placed under canvas, for the Militiaman was not quite so well up to all 1792 the "dodges" as the trained soldier, and would not make himself comfortable in the same way. In the 45th paragraph of the Report there was, he thought, an unfair accusation against the colonels of Militia regiments, that hitherto they had been in the habit of discouraging their men from enlisting into the Regular Army. He could not affirm that there had never been an instance in which men had been prevented from joining the Line from the Militia; but it was certainly not the general practice, and any such accusations made against the colonels of Militia regiments was hardly fair. As to the Volunteers, he thought it was a good plan that the sergeants attached to the depôts should, when the Militia were not training, act as Volunteer instructors; but there would be this difficulty—that during the summer months, when the Volunteers most required their instructors, they would be engaged with the Militia during the annual training. It might, therefore, be possible that the Volunteers would suffer from the arrangement. A fear had also been expressed that the instructors of the Volunteers, being also employed as recruiting sergeants for the Line, might induce Volunteers to join the Army as privates. He could not believe that was the intention of the Government, and should be glad to hear it expressly disclaimed, or a panic might be created among the friends of the Volunteers. The scheme, as a whole, would be beneficial to the Volunteers, as also, he hoped, to the Militia; but much would depend on the elasticity allowed to it, and he should like some information on that head.
§ MR. STAPLETON
thought it important to consider the effect of the scheme of localization on Ireland. That country had been our most fertile recruiting ground, while its internal state had been such that in all our wars, down to, though exclusive of, the War with Russia, it had neutralized a very considerable force. He was not an alarmist; but in speaking of armaments it was necessary to contemplate the possibility of war. Without war, armaments would be needless. We might be at war with nations to whom Ireland would present the most vulnerable point. Though confident as to the effect of recent legislation, he could not forget that dissatisfaction and a desire for more or less decided separation 1793 still existed in Ireland side by side with a feeling of sympathy with two foreign nations—the United States and France. Dissatisfaction might die away, but this feeling was in its nature permanent. In the United States it would endure as long as a large number of Irish or their immediate descendants were to be found there. In France it would endure as long as France held herself forth as the champion of Roman Catholicism. Now, if we were at war with one or both of those countries, and if they effected a landing in Ireland, they would find, under this scheme, a number of centres—namely, the depôts of the Regular Army, with the Militia and Reserves grouped round them. It was important, in case of such a contingency, to know whether the officers would be taken from the localities or from other parts of the country. As long as the higher classes were attached to England, they would use what influence they possessed in favour of the English connection. But then the Government did not contemplate taking officers from the same districts as their men. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) had told him, in reply to a Question, that this could not be the rule except in the case of those who came from the Militia. In the event of an enemy landing with whom the people sympathized, there would be no power present able to withstand the tendency to revolt. To be sure, the Militia had local officers, but Militia officers possessed little military skill—they would have no influence over the Reserves or the depôts; even over their own men their influence would be but small owing to the shortness of the training. His hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms) had asked whether the battalions on home service would be quartered in their own districts. The answer was unsatisfactory, The Minister said they would be sent where the exigencies of the service required. He wanted to know whether, in the absence of any emergency requiring their presence elsewhere, a preference would be given in choosing their quarters to the districts in which they were raised, or to the neighbourhood of such districts? In other words, he wanted to know whether they were to have an Irish Army quartered in Ireland? It was clear from the comment of The Times subsequent to 1794 the right hon. Gentleman's answer to the hon. Member for Hackney that The Times believed that the home battalions would be quartered in their own districts. The popularity which the scheme had obtained rested on this supposition. Localization offered an enemy landing in Ireland a chance which he did not now possess; it gave him so many centres round which his adherents might rally. He wanted to know whether these small centres were necessary to the scheme. It appeared to him that they were rather excrescences. The Government had found that an English regiment contained two companies above the number that went to make a battalion, and when they had hit on the idea of twin regiments they found that they had four more than went to make a brigade. It was with these supernumerary companies they had formed the depôts. He thought he had shown they were a serious danger in Ireland; it had not been shown they would be of any advantage in England. Troops were always found to deteriorate when quartered in small numbers in outlying districts. It was suggested that their presence would improve the auxilary forces amongst whom they were located. He thought they would suffer from contact with these less disciplined forces. This scheme had a tendency to localize the peasant's mind, already localized enough. They would not get English recruits for regiments localized in Ireland, or Somersetshire recruits for regiments localized in Northumberland. The measure was borrowed from a country in which the conscription existed. It was assumed that men would be found in proportion to the population; no account was taken of the different rate of wages in different parts of the country. He thought the matter required re-consideration before they committed themselves to so large an expenditure as £3,300,000.
§ MR. EASTWICK
said, the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms) was introduced in a speech which showed so much knowledge of the subject that his Amendment deserved respectful consideration even by those who, like himself, were not disposed to assent to it; but his hon. Friend's speech had been subjected to very severe criticism in some quarters. It had been criticized with especial sharpness by the hon. Member for the 1795 Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell). The hon. Member's appearance by the side of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War—he was speaking of him only as a civilian replacing at the War Office a gallant and experienced officer, when there were so many other gallant and distinguished officers in the House available for the post—had certainly not impressed him with a very exalted idea of the way in which Her Majesty's Government meant to work their new principle of selection. But to let that pass, he thought the hon. Member had mistaken and misrepresented the hon. Member for Hackney. He accused him of building up an argument founded on a fallacious analogy, and of forgetting that the Prussian system was based on compulsory enlistment. His hon. Friend was little likely to be so forgetful, for he studied the Prussian system in Prussia itself; and as to the fallacious analogy, all he said was that we might advantageously adopt some things from the Prussian system, such as the localization of corps d'armée, not the whole system pur et simple. So far from that, it appeared to him that the weak part of his speech, as of other speeches he had heard in this debate, was the notion that there was no reason why we should adopt compulsory enlistment because other nations had; and that in war, there might be any number of right systems, all differing from one another, and all good, because best suited to the circumstances of the countries which had adopted them. That seemed to him (Mr. Eastwick) as absurd as to say there might be any number of best weapons, as the needle-gun for Prussia, the Chassepôt for France, the Martini-Henry rifle for England, and bows and arrows for the Tartars. There could be only one right and best system; and that was the one against which other systems—when they came into collision with it—were shattered to atoms, as the French system was when it came into contact with the Prussian. But the English flattered themselves that their system would stand the shock better; and until a war happened between this country and Germany, and the Germans obtained a fleet—either their own, or belonging to some ally which could cope with ours—that opinion might safely be maintained, for its truth could not be tested. But if we 1796 were not partial judges in our own case, we should see the absurdity of believing that our worst men, physically and intellectually, could triumph over the very élite of a nation of the same stock as ourselves, and numerically far stronger. He was not going to dwell on that point, or to attempt to argue out what many persons, whose opinion was entitled to great weight, behoved—namely, that the Prussian system was economically, morally, and, from a military point of view, far better than our own. He merely wished to show one point in which our system was very inferior, and that was recruiting, as proved by a witness in whom the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had complete confidence—he meant the Inspector General of Recruits. The Report of the Inspector General was, as the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley said, an elaborate apology for the total failure of our present system of recruiting. Though the right hon. Gentleman had told them, what they should never have guessed from the Report, that other establishments were filled up, there was the fact which could not be slurred over or denied, that in that most important arm—the Artillery, no less than 1,783 gunners were wanting, and 26,972 men in the Militia. But it was not so much the deficiency in the numbers of our recruits as their inferior character which was so deplorable. In the first place, the standard had been lowered to 5 feet 4 inches—[Mr. CARDWELL: It is 5 feet 5 inches now]—and then he heard a poor account of their physique generally. How many, he should like to know, could read or write—how many had a good previous character—how many were the sons of respectable, hard-working parents—the backbone of the nation—and not the sweepings of the streets? If anyone wished to form a just opinion of our recruiting system, let him look at the stature of hon. Gentlemen in that House, and then say if it was not a painful—almost a ludicrously painful thing to see 650 educated gentlemen, of heights ranging from 5 feet 7 inches to 6 feet 7 inches, calmly speculating on the perfect safety of this realm, if they could only get a sufficient number of ignorant mannikins of 5 feet 4 inches to defend it, if needs be, against the giants of Rugen and Pomerania. But he wished now to say a word to 1797 the representatives of the Peace party—the hon. Members opposite, below the gangway, who had peace ever in their mouths, but knew very well how to carry on a guerilla warfare of their own. Having decided for themselves that the policy of the country should be a defensive, or rather a defenceless policy, they said to the Government—"Tell us your policy, and we will tell you what should be the strength of the Army." But, in the first place, the Government had no eternal tenure of office. He fancied he saw the hectic of decay on its cheek already. But it mattered not what Government was in, the nation would decide on peace or war, and it was truly said in an American paper quoted in The Times of the 7th, that "the English and the Americans are equally susceptible of wild and passionate waves of feeling or anger." Anyone who remembered with what passionate vehemence the nation plunged into the war with Russia, would have little confidence in the peaceful intentions of any Government. He would remind hon. Members, too, of a fact which had become patent since the war—namely, that a gigantic camp had been founded in the centre of Europe, which, as Baron Stoffel had warned them, by the constitution of Germany could never be reduced, but must ever receive fresh accessions of strength. England was the richest country in the world; and, in face of the fact he had just mentioned, he hoped that hon. Members would not insist on slumbering, as it were, in an imaginary garden of the Hesperides while an infant Hercules was growing up beside them, who some day or other would rob them of its golden fruit. He now came back to the Amendment, which he opposed on two grounds. First, because if 20,000 men were to be passed at once into the Reserve we should not be able for years to come to restore the Line to its present strength. Last year we obtained 23,190 recruits—not 23,198, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman, owing to an error in addition in the Report—a greater number than enlisted in any year for the last 10 years, except 1870, and even that number fell short by nearly 2,000 of what we wanted. To make up, therefore, for the transfer of 20,000 men to the Reserve, in addition to the usual casualties, we should require next year 1798 about 45,000 recruits, and such a number we could not possibly obtain, except by compulsory enlistment. That was an objection which would have no weight with his hon. Friend, because he wished to reduce the strength of the Line; but to him (Mr. Eastwick) it was a fatal objection, for so far from desiring to reduce the Regular Army by a single soldier, he would increase it. The next ground on which he should vote against the Amendment was on the score of expense. Soldiers were as alive to their own interests as hon. Members could possibly be to those of the country; and certainly the proposition to pass 20,000 men all at once into the Reserve would immediately excite expectations which it would be difficult, or rather impossible, for us to satisfy, and even if we could satisfy them, the precedent would be one of most pernicious tendency. He was, therefore, altogether in favour of waiting for men to transfer themselves to the Reserve in the usual way, and decidedly opposed to stimulating the transfer by any exceptional measures. But though he differed from his hon. Friend as to his Amendment, he agreed with him on two points, as to changing the Militia into a real Reserve, and as to more economical arrangements, and on both those points he dissented from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, and took exception to his new scheme, though he had made some beneficial changes, especially in matters of detail. As regarded the first point, the right hon. Gentleman, while apparently working for the amalgamation of the Line and the Militia by locating them together, was in reality establishing a permanent separation between them, so long as he allowed recruiting to go on for both, with the advantage to the Militia of the enrolment money, instead of recruiting only for the Line, and filling up the vacancies in the Militia by transferring to it soldiers from the Regular Army. Nay, more, the separation would be widened by doubling every battalion of Militia, and giving to the double battalions something of the consistency of a brigade. With regard to the economy of the new arrangements, he could not see in the Estimates before the Committee, or in the Papers which had just been circulated, or in the speech of the right hon. 1799 Gentleman, any signs of an attempt, worthy the name, at reducing expenditure. On the contrary, there were evident tokens, and, in some places, positive declarations of increased expense. Thus, in the first place, £3,500,000 were to be expended in the purchase of land and on buildings required for the new depôts. Then there were sombre indications of the rising cost of recruiting throughout the Report of the Inspector General. "We were told, for instance, that "the time is not far distant when present inducements to voluntary enlistment will be found to be insufficient," that "short service, without claim to pension, may become distasteful," and "the Report wound up with the ominous announcement that—It may fairly be surmised that the present inducements to enlist will not hereafter be sufficient to meet the demand, in face of the constantly rising rate of wages in the labour market.Above all, there was the formidable fact that the right hon. Gentleman had entirely passed over—and so formidable was its aspect that he did not wonder at his trying to evade it—that as soon as the majority of officers who came in by purchase had retired, a fund would have to be established for quickening promotion, unless, indeed, a short period of service should be fixed for each rank, but that would be a still more costly measure. Then, as regarded the Artillery, though nothing could be more just or, in other respects, more desirable than the promotion of captains commanding batteries to the rank of major, still one result of that measure would be that those officers would be less inclined to retire, and so the stagnation in the ranks of their juniors would be increased, which could only be met by a retiring fund. Besides that, this promotion would entail a corresponding promotion in the Engineer corps, and, sooner or later, in the Line, and to meet this additional expense the six-gun batteries ought to be changed to batteries with eight guns. That would be economy, because the same forges, artificers, carts and tools, and other things for a six-gun battery would do for one with eight guns. He would now mention some changes which seemed desirable in other respects, and which would certainly have the effect of reducing the Estimates without lowering the numbers or the efficiency of the 1800 Army. But he would, in the first place, ask that the Army Estimates should not be unnaturally swollen by importing into them gigantic items, which belonged to other departments, or which might fairly be reduced by a better system of account. There was, for instance, the sum of £636,601, which would be found at p. 46 under the head of Sea Service, for ordnance, projectiles, and gunpowder supplied to the Navy. He might be told that there was a sum of £156,700 for transport of troops at p. 133 of the Navy Estimates, which might be taken as a set-off. But he thought each sum should be charged in the department for which it was expended, and the Army Estimates would thereby be considerably the gainer by a reduction in amount. Besides, notwithstanding the confidence they might have in the economical instincts of a First Lord, who would believe that he would be as careful in indenting for supplies which were to be charged for in other departments as he would be if they were to be charged for in his own? There was also at p. 46 the sum of £40,000 for torpedoes, and at p. 48 £10,000 this year, and £100,000 last year, for engineering expenses in connection with torpedoes, including submarine cables, expenses which belonged rather to the Admiralty than the Army, though the work thus charged for was superintended by officers of the Royal Engineers. Then there was nearly a quarter of a million—namely, £242,579—for new works of fortifications and control buildings, and a very large sum for new barracks, which might be considerably reduced if the total amount required for such new works were raised by Terminable Annuities, and the payment spread over a number of years. But to come to matters of more importance. A very beneficial change was to be effected by localizing the regiments of the Line, and giving them all double battalions, one, however, of which was always to be in India or in the colonies, and associating with them two Militia battalions and a depôt. But, after all, that could hardly be called a brigade, for there would be only one battalion and the depôt on the spot throughout the year, and yet there would be as much expense connected with these centres as if the force stationed at them were much larger. Why incur unnecessary expense by scattering the Army at home over 66 stations, and 1801 why lose the advantage of grouping together a force which would amount to a division of a respectable corps d'armée? And in this new arrangement no thought whatever had been given to the finances of India, which must suffer immensely by having so many battalions assigned to that country, all subject to periodical relief, and to incessant changes of bodies of soldiers who would be leaving in increased numbers in consequence of the short-service system. He heard that there were to be 50 battalions in India, and that four were to be brought home every year, giving a 13 years' service for each, and that it was hoped that expense would be lessened by the men reengaging. But all that was matter of conjecture only, and the Revenue of India could ill support such a charge. He would ask that the nine Indian battalions should be again localized in India, and that 13 other local European battalions should be added to them, to be affiliated to regiments in England, but not to be withdrawn from India. At present, there were, exclusive of the Guards, 141 battalions of infantry, and if the nine Indian battalions be deducted there would remain 132. He would suggest that these 132 battalions should be formed into 22 regiments of six battalions each, or of seven battalions, reckoning the 22 local battalions in India. Of these seven battalions, two would always be absent in India, and one in the colonies, leaving four battalions of each regiment at the depôt centre. The Guards, too, should be formed into a single regiment of seven battalions, and should not be called upon to furnish a battalion for service abroad, either in India or in the colonies. Such a scheme would be quite in accordance with the ideas of one of the greatest generals that ever lived—the first Napoleon—who recommended regiments of even eight battalions each for the French Army. Thus there would be 23 depôt centres in all, of which 16 might be in England, four in Scotland, and three in Ireland, and to each two, three, four, five, or six battalions of Militia might be attached, according to the strength of the Reserve thought desirable. Whatever the decision might be, however, he contended that recruiting for the Militia ought to cease, and that vacancies in it should be filled up by the transfer of soldiers from the Line. At present, it 1802 was clear that the Militia was not the sort of Reserve we wanted. He was far from denying the zeal of the officers or men; but he wanted to fall back upon troops even better than those of the Line. Now, as matters at present stood it was impossible that the Militia should be so good as the Line. The Commander-in-Chief, in his Report on the Autumn Manœuvres, said—The Militia is the force which, perhaps, showed to less advantage than any other portion of the troops concentrated, and yet no body of men worked harder, and there are none for whom more allowance ought to be made.His Royal Highness added—There is no doubt that a prolonged drill for the recruits of Militia will produce a great improvement; but even this prolonged training is hardly sufficient to keep up the force as it ought to be maintained.If that were true as regarded drill, what was to be said as to discipline, a plant of much slower growth, and indeed requiring years to come to maturity? Of the Militia officers the Report said—They worked as hard as men could do, but they were much too few; in some battalions hardly more than one officer to a company, and the greater portion more or less unaccustomed to military duties.Now, might not that deficiency of officers be to some extent cured by transferring to the Militia officers from the half-pay list? The Estimates should distinguish between those on half-pay who might be called on to serve, and the pensioned from whom no further service could be required. At present these two classes were mixed up so that it was impossible to distinguish between them. He thought that economies might be effected by re-establishing the local European Army in India, by reducing the number of depôts, and by transferring some officers from the half-pay list to the Militia. But there was a still greater economy, and he was astonished the right hon. Gentleman had overlooked it. In the Professional Papers of the Royal Engineers for 1870, Captain Percy Smith showed that each soldier cost £47 0s. 9½d. for his pay, food, clothing, pension, lodging-money, fuel, and light; and no less than £35 4s. 4d. for the officers placed over him. Now, no reduction could be made in the items under the first head; but it was possible to reduce the cost of officers, and that was the only reduction that could be made in 1803 the cost of the Army, unless compulsory enlistment were adopted. Now, he held in his hand a scheme, with the details of which he would not trouble the House, for amalgamating the seven battalions of Foot Guards into one regiment, which would be equally applicable to the Rifles or to any seven battalions of the Line. At present these battalions contained when at home 10 companies, with a fraction more than 3 officers and 82 men to a company, and by reducing the companies to 4, with 180 privates and 5 officers each—a number not too great for a mounted captain to manage—a saving might be effected in each regiment of 7 battalions of 69 officers and 96 sergeants. If this reduction of companies were carried out through every battalion in the Army there would be a saving of upwards of 1,462 officers, 2,785 sergeants, and 3,534 rank and file. By this measure, therefore, which was only bringing the English system into accordance with the German system, which was thoroughly tested during the late war, a saving would be effected equal to any of the reductions which had been proposed. This formation would approximate to the proportion of officers to men recommended by Marshal Marmont in his Esprit des Institutions Militaires— namely, 1 to 40. If the right hon. Gentleman objected to the change as too great to be made at once, he would remind him that the concentration of cadres in the United Kingdom was one of the great features of his first speech of March 11, 1869, when he spoke of withdrawing troops from the colonies, and that concentration might be carried much further than at present. There were 70 battalions abroad with 560 companies, and 55,190 rank and file, and on the scale proposed by Lord Hardinge that number of rank and file could be furnished by 442 companies, instead of 560, thus reducing the number of companies abroad by 118, and the number of battalions, at 8 companies a battalion, to 55 instead of 70, and increasing the number at home from 71 to 86. The 41,000 rank and file in India would be supplied by 41 battalions instead of 50 as at present, which would be a saving of 9 battalions and 72 companies. In the same way the 14,190 rank and file in the colonies would be supplied by 14 battalions with 112 companies, instead of 20 battalions with 160 companies. 1804 He would not weary the Committee with any more figures, but thought these sufficiently indicated the way in which economies ought to be made, and he hoped some hon. Member of greater standing and influence than himself would take up this question, and press it home.
§ MR. O'REILLY
thought that after what had been said of Irish discontent and disaffection, a few remarks from one who knew Ireland well might not be amiss. He did not deny that there was discontent and some disaffection there; but discontent with existing legislation and a wish to remedy it was one thing, while disaffection to the institutions of the country was a very different thing, and existed to a very small extent indeed. The revolutionary spirit affected some portion of the population in Ireland just as it had affected some portion of the population in England; but the great mass of the population in Ireland was free from it. If all classes in Ireland were disloyal, and if Irish officers and soldiers were universally untrustworthy, the difficulty would be insurmountable, and they would not only have to consider the question of establishing depôt centres in Ireland, but of doing away altogether with Irish regiments. Nay, there were 1,000,000 Irishmen in England in the very districts in which they were putting their depôt centres, and the Militia regiments there were largely recruited from this Irish population, who were found just as trustworthy as any inhabitants of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It had been stated that in all previous wars Ireland had neutralized a large portion of our Army. But in our great wars with France, Ireland, though much more discontented and dangerous than she was at present, was almost entirely denuded of troops. The same thing happened in the Crimean War, when nearly the whole of the Irish Militia were embodied, and the greater portion served in Ireland with perfect safety to the Empire. In 1866 great efforts were made by foreign emissaries, aided by large supplies of foreign money, to sow disaffection in Ireland; but he could state of his own knowledge—and there were Members of the Government who could confirm him—that, notwithstanding all the efforts made, a comparatively insignificant portion of the Irish Militia, who were specially sought to be 1805 tampered with, were seduced from their allegiance. One very remarkable fact that was not generally known was, that the foreign organization which existed in Dublin in 1866, for the purpose of exciting a rebellion in Ireland, paid £60 a-day to men in that city to hold themselves in readiness to rise at any moment, and that such men were almost entirely persons taken over from England, and were not natives of Ireland. Having in view how slight had been the disloyalty in Ireland during the present century, and the services of Irishmen, both in the Regular Army and in the Militia, he conceived that their would be no danger in accepting the change in the organization which had been proposed by the Secretary of State for War, because he was convinced that the immense majority of the Irish people were as firmly determined and as fully prepared to uphold the institutions of our common country, and all the rights in the Realm, from the Crown down to the meanest subject, against any attack, from whatever quarter it might come, as the people of any other portion of the British Empire. At the present moment, moreover, there was no fear whatever of disloyalty and disaffection spreading in Ireland, and the right hon. Gentleman would be quite as safe in dealing with the Army there as in any part of Her Majesty's dominions.
said, he had formerly called attention to the anomalies and irregularities which prevailed in the transport service, and particularly in the matter of sea transport, and he had instanced the case of a regiment being sent from the South of England to the South of Ireland by way of Dublin. He did not think that any amount of hardship could make our soldiers disaffected; but unnecessary hardship would produce discontent, and therefore anomalies in transport deserved attention. If the Report on Recruiting were not, as it had been described to be, a blaze of apology, a disagreeable flickering of apology pervaded it. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) that the military necessities of the country were dictated by the policy of the Government. If we changed the Government once a week, the causes that led to wars would remain undiminished. Military necessity was caused as much by the class who complained of it as by the policy of the Government. A rich 1806 and commercial country would excite the cupidity of neighbours, and must have commercial relations with others that would result in disagreeable complications, and often bring them to the verge of war. Our present difficulty with America was due to commercial causes, and not to the policy of the Government. A country that would participate in the advantages of commerce, and export munitions of war, must take the good and the bad together. We insured our houses, and we must insure our commerce, for no gain beyond that of the sense of security. If the hon. Members below the gangway, who advocated peace and retrenchment, came into power to-morrow, they would find that the maintenance of our defensive system was a matter not of policy, but of circumstances and of necessity. The Members of the Government were to be blamed only for creating expectations of economy which they were unable to fulfil in office. As Lamartine said—"It is from the resistance realities oppose to chimeras that spring all the convulsions and spasms of society." Therefore it was wise to create a reasonable standard of expectation, to avoid fluctuating between security and alarm, and to be prepared for contingencies. Twenty-one years ago they had a magnificent installation of universal peace throughout the world, by the interchange of commodities. They saw written in large letters—"Peace on earth, and goodwill towards all men;" but the fact had been the reverse, for during the intervening time, there had been as many wars as there were in the 40 years previous. Every country in Europe and America had during that 20 years been engaged in war, and therefore it was that he dissented from the doctrine that the military necessities of the country were caused by the policy of the Government. If they were, there was a very easy remedy.
§ MR. PEASE
said, that when he found the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire and Her Majesty's Government almost in perfect accord, he began to wonder on which side had happened the marvellous conversion that the House had witnessed. And when he also found the Members of the Opposition advocating the policy of the Government with regard to war instruments, he began to doubt if he correctly read the Prime Minister's celebrated Lancashire speeches, in which he stated, in effect, that high 1807 Estimates always came from the opposite side of the House to which he happened to sit. He would not follow the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms) through the various reasons given for the proposed reduction of the Estimates, but he wished particularly to call attention to the vast amount of expenditure placed on the country in a time of profound peace; to the alteration of policy, as shown by the course the Government were now pursuing; and to the effect these large enrolments of men must have on the supply of labour in this country. During the last year of the late Administration the Army and Navy Estimates were £26,000,000 and odd, and during the present Administration the first Estimates for the Army and Navy were £23,900,000; the next Estimates were £22,000,000; the third, £25,000,000; and now they were £24,000,000. In addition, the House was told that the Government were about to spend £3,500,000 on building barracks, in order to localize the various portions of the Army. A large sum must also be voted to do away with purchase in the Army, and to transfer the discipline and management of the Army to men who would make the Force more effective than at present. He therefore complained that in time of peace they were keeping up large establishments at the cost of the taxpayers. He was told that these barracks were to be built out of Terminable Annuities, and the only meaning of that was that the taxes required by the policy of the day, and which ought to be paid at once, would be placed on another generation, and, moreover, they ignored the fact that they were already provided with barrack accommodation for 124,000 men. The system of local barracks would cause great disappointment. The Army must be recruited where labour was cheapest, but in building barracks all over the country they ignored that fact. For instance, if put up in the North of England, they would be competing with a district where men were receiving 19s. a-week for field and garden labour; and what advantages could they offer to counterbalance that? Not only that, but that very northern district was now, to a great extent, competing with the southern districts of the country in order to procure the services of artizans and others, in consequence of the scarcity of workmen. He found that the right hon. Gentleman the Member 1808 for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) a few days ago pronounced a very decisive verdict on the conduct of the Government, stating that he did not believe in Governments which could not govern without taking £70,000,000 from the people; expressing a hope that the time would come when no such Governments would be allowed to exist, and adding that he would vote for such a reduction as would enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer to abolish the income tax, or reduce those taxes which added greatly to the price of tea, sugar, and coffee. Another statesman, speaking of the policy of incurring great expenditure for making an efficient Army, said that the result of his experience was that when there was a disposition to spend money it was invariably discovered that the services were inefficient, and when the money was spent, it was declared that the establishments were efficient. Then came another authority, who pronounced the services not efficient, and more money was spent, and they were then declared to be efficient; but some one else afterwards said that they were not efficient, and thus a rapid augmentation of the public charge was brought about. Those were the words of the present Prime Minister, and it seemed as if the right hon. Gentleman was predicting his own future conduct in allowing the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to bring forward such large Estimates as the present. It was idle to talk of this money being paid as an insurance premium. Why, the money they were now being asked to spend was equal to the whole of the interest of the debt of 20 years of war accumulated at the beginning of the century. Why was the House called on to vote such large war Estimates, and from what quarter was danger apprehended? They had been told that there was danger from Germany, but he could not see when that danger was likely to arise. Would it be when the Prince who was married to a Princess of the Royal House of England came to be Emperor of Germany? Was it to arise under his reign? Then, again, no danger needed to be feared from France, for that country had recently suffered too severely to occasion any alarm; and not only that, even if she had the power it was not likely she would molest us, seeing that we had to the best of our ability succoured her in her distress. The hon. Gentleman who had 1809 just sat down said that a dark cloud lowered from the direction of America. But America had only an Army of from 25,000 to 30,000 men dispersed through every State in the Union, and had not many ships fit to cross the Atlantic; and, whatever might be the termination of the present disputes, the common sense and Christian feeling of the people of America and of this country would prevent war between the two nations. He would ask the House what would be the effect on the labour market of large numbers of men leaving the occupations of peaceful industry in order to join the ranks of the Army? He asked the right hon. Gentleman how he expected, with a steadily increasing demand for labour, to recruit the Army for the wages he proposed to give. There was another point to which he wished to call attention. There was, unhappily, among us a substratum deeply imbued with the doctrines of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke), and from that substratum they would be obliged to recruit the Army. He should be the last to breathe one word against the loyalty of the British Army. In all times they had been unexceptionally loyal—even amidst the greatest temptations they had been emphatically loyal. But he asked whether, with a large Army in time of peace, drawn from that substratum, the institutions they most prized and revered would be safe. There were very large demands upon the National Exchequer for the education of the people, in which they all took so much interest, and for sanitary purposes, and looking to those demands, which must be met, he thought the right hon. Gentlemen would do well to ponder where he could save, not where he could spend most. He believed this question seriously affected the position of the Government. The War Budget of last year was certainly the weakest ever brought before the House. How did it end? By the imposition of an additional 2d. on the income tax; but every small shopkeeper had felt the imposition in his pocket, and asked what it was for—what was to be gained by this increased expenditure. Was it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to carry out his scheme without so many men? He believed that a feeling of discontent was growing up on this subject, under which no Administration would be safe; and the Government, 1810 whose entire policy almost he had supported, were laying up a store of troublfor themselves, not only in regard to the country, but also in reference to their own Administration; and he therefore entreated them, before it was too late, to reconsider proposals which, if carried out, would entail so extravagant an expenditure of the public money.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he wished to make a few observations on the very important proposal submitted by the Government, and in doing so he regretted that they were now discussing three different subjects at the same moment, all of equal importance; for they were discussing what he admitted was most important in relation to the view presented by the hon. Member for South Durham—they were discussing matters as to the quantity of men which many hon. Gentlemen were disposed to complain of as being unduly large; and, in addition to that, they had a most important plan submitted by his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Cardwell), and that, in fact, consisted of two very different parts—the administrative portion, relating to the mode in which the business of the Army was to be conducted, and the proposal for what was called localization. Now, with regard to the first portion of this subject—namely, the number of men proposed in the Vote of the present year—he, for one, was not disposed to take any exception to it. The Government had, in fact, last year and this year, proposed, within a fraction, the same number of men it had been his duty to propose to Parliament when he last held office. He had proposed that number under a full conviction that it was not larger than was required for the military purposes of this great Empire; and he entertained that opinion still. It would, therefore, be quite out of the question for him to think of offering any opposition to the number of men the Government had proposed to Parliament. But, on the other portions of the plan of his right hon. Friend, he wished to offer a few observations, and here he must say he could not recede from any portion of what had fallen from him last Session on the subject of abolishing purchase in the Army. Several hon. Members who spoke during the debate, and who shared with him the opinion he held last year, had stated that purchase having been done away with, the subject was at an end, and the less said 1811 about it the better; but he could not concur in that observation. They had not done with purchase in this most important respect—they had not paid for it. There remained the annual charge to which the hon. Member for South Durham had referred, and which pressed heavily on the taxpayer. There remained also, and he said this in no offensive spirit to his right hon. Friend—there remained the unfulfilled promises as to what was to be the substitute for purchase. With regard to the expense of abolishing purchase, his right hon. Friend had in his opening speech taken credit for the fact that in the present year the expense would be considerably less than he had estimated last year. Last year he said the cost would amount to between £1,100,000 and £1,200,000, and he now said we should get off this year for £850,000 on account of the abolition of purchase last year. Now, was that an expenditure of which they had not a right to complain? Could they show for it value received? He maintained the opinion he expressed last year, that a more wanton piece of extravagance never was committed by any Government. He agreed with what had been said by his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire; there was no part of the plan now submitted to them which could not have been carried out without the abolition of purchase. If he was wrong in that statement, let it be shown that he was wrong. He was perfectly willing to submit to correction, or listen to explanation. It was an extravagant expenditure, unnecessary to the carrying out of any portion of the scheme now submitted, and a very dangerous experiment for the Army. These views he still retained—he did not recede from a single word he uttered last year. He therefore altogether repudiated the charges made against them during the Recess of the manner in which this opposition had been conducted. He must say, having listened to the extract read by his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire from the speech delivered by the Under Secretary for India, it was not becoming in any Gentleman a Member of the Government, or a Member of that House, to indulge in language most offensive to the Army, most offensive to those who were discharging their duty in this House. That language appeared to him to be utterly unjustifiable. He would 1812 now call attention to the unfulfilled offers—he could hardly call them promises—respecting the substitute for the system of purchase. One of the most serious questions connected with the abolition of purchase was as to what was to be the system of promotion in the Army; and, above all, what safeguards the country was to possess with reference to the method of selection. One of the chief subjects of complaint, especially among the military Members of that House, was the breaking up of the regimental system. From the Warrant issued in the beginning of November, he inferred that what his right hon. Friend more than once stated in the course of the debates last year—namely, that the system of promotion was to be a system of seniority tempered by selection. But he also inferred from the Warrant and his right hon. Friend's speeches, that the system was to be so managed in the interior of each regiment, that promotion would go by seniority up to the rank of major, and that the rank of lieutenant colonel was to be determined by selection. It was only right, however, for him to mention, in order to invite an explanation on the subject, that since coming into the House he had been told of three instances in which promotion in the Army had been carried out in a manner wholly inconsistent with that plan. In The Gazette of Friday last there appeared three promotions in cavalry regiments, two of them in light cavalry regiments, and the third in the Household Brigade. The lieutenants in these regiments were promoted to the rank of captain without their knowledge and without their consent in the case of the two light cavalry regiments, and in the third case with the knowledge but without the consent of the officer promoted. That was complained of by the officers concerned as an exercise of arbitrary and tyrannical power. He mentioned the eases as showing the necessity of some system upon which the Army might be able to rely, as to the manner in which the promises made on the abolition of purchase were to be carried out. He should not have mentioned these cases if he had not been authorized to do so; and if it were not that the officers themselves thus gazetted against their inclination and without their knowledge, instead of considering the promotion as an advantage or an honour, complained of it as 1813 a breach of faith. It was a serious matter, because they were now just at the commencement of the new system, and it would never do to have the Army exposed to the exercise of such capricious powers. Another point was this—that it was not consistent with the feelings of the Army, that when an officer had lived for years in a regiment, when he had formed attachments for the men of it, when he knew them and was known by them, and when he had risen to the position of commanding it, he should be transferred to the command of another regiment of which he had no knowledge. Such a course was attended with the greatest possible inconvenience, and he deeply regretted that the Government should be compelled to resort to it in consequence of the abolition of purchase. There was another matter which he deeply regretted in regard to the new regulations. He alluded to the safeguard which the Government proposed for the purpose of mitigating the complicated evils of selection, and certainly some explanation ought to be given of what the officers regarded as a system of espionage. The new regulations provided that, in order to aid the commanding officers in forming their judgment, the captain should report fully on the subaltern officers, and that the major should report on the captain, adding any remarks he might wish to make with regard to the subaltern. The regulations went on to say—These reports will be strictly confidential and privileged documents, and in no case will they be made public.The impression left on the mind of every person with whom he had conversed on the subject was, that no one with the feelings of a gentleman could serve in the Army if such a system of espionage and secret reports were established. He therefore appealed to his right hon. Friend to state how he proposed to remove from the system the obvious objections to it. His right hon. Friend had referred to the subject of messes and bands, and it was a relief to hear that they were not to be altogether abolished, as had been rumoured in certain quarters. He was glad, however, that the expense of messes was to be reduced, and would suggest a reform similar to that introduced with success in the Navy, by which every regiment might be provided with permanent fixed furniture, and be thus 1814 saved from the inconvenience of carrying their mess traps about with them. There was one change proposed, as he understood, in respect of officers of Artillery which was regarded as a breach of faith. He alluded to the retiring pension of £600 a-year after 30 years' service, and the proposal to make the period 40 years. He did not offer any opinion as to whether the change was undesirable, but he hoped it would be so carried out as regarded the officers who were now looking forward to the retirement in question, that there would not be any ground for an allegation of breach of faith. He now turned to that very important portion of the plan of his right hon. Friend—namely, the localization of the Army. That proposal had met with a considerable degree of approbation from every quarter of the House, and he was happy to say that he would not form any exception to that rule. The Government, in his opinion, deserved great credit for their plan, and he could not doubt that the principle on which it was based was thoroughly good. He would suggest to his right hon. Friend to leave nothing undone that would tend to make the plan as good as it could be made. One portion of it was the linking together of regiments and battalions. So far as the linking together of battalions was concerned no objections could be offered, but he regarded the proposal to link regiments together with doubt and apprehension. He ventured to advise his right hon. Friend to consider well the suggestions which had that evening been made on both sides of the House on that subject, and to take care that in every brigade district there should be, not two regiments, but two battalions of the same regiment. Most of the hon. Members who had spoken in the course of the debate had said a good deal upon the subject of recruiting, and he could not close his remarks without stating that he did not take as sanguine a view as his right hon. Friend did upon the matter. His right hon. Friend had told the House not to be under any apprehension on the subject; that we had raised so many men during the year, and that we were doing well with regard to it, notwithstanding the fact that the Artillery was 1,700 men below the mark. That might sound very well as a general statement, but, for his own part, he could not help regarding this question with some 1815 anxiety. While far from wishing that we should adopt a system of compulsory service, as was advocated by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire, and in favour of maintaining voluntary service as long as possible, although he should be sorry to see compulsory service as regarded the Militia wiped out of the statute book, he was afraid that unless a better system of recruiting was organized, we should be forced to resort to it. He doubted whether the six years' service system would work successfully. The men were enlisted nominally at 19 years of age, but more frequently at 18, or even 17 years.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
was afraid that his right hon. Friend was speaking from the statements made by the recruits themselves, which were rarely to be relied upon; but even assuming that they enlisted at 19 years of age they would leave the service when they were 25 years old, in the prime of life, with a pay of £7 per annum for the six years they remained in the Reserve, having lost their chance of success in any civil pursuits, and at the end of that period they would be cast upon the world without a pension. Looking at the Papers before the House relating to recruiting, he found that the Government had already found themselves obliged to relax their recruiting system.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
understood that there had been some relaxation on the subject of pensions in consequence of the publication of a General Order, under which a soldier would be permitted to serve the whole 12 years in the Army, with the additional privilege of being re-engaged at the expiration of that time for the remainder of 21 years, when he was to be entitled to a pension.
§ MR. CARDWELL
explained that he had made a statement to the same effect in 1870, and that some misunderstanding having occurred with respect to the matter, the terms had been re-stated in order to remove any misapprehension that might have been entertained with reference to them.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, it was at all events a new regulation, and he was glad the door was opened to a longer 1816 service than six years. It was a qualification, so far as it went, and an important one, of the rigid enforcement of six years' service only.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that it was not understood so, at least on that side of the House. He regretted that the statement had not gone further and defined the extent to which re-engagements of that character would be permitted to take place. He was, however, glad to see that a soldier might by some means or another arrive at a pension for his service in the Army, because he was assured that the soldier did not at all relish the idea of being turned adrift on the world without a pension, and he thought the whole subject of recruiting ought to be reconsidered by the Government with a view to its being placed on a satisfactory basis. He did not quite understand how the recruiting for the Militia and the recruiting for the Line were to be distinguished. He also wished to ask for an explanation as to the mode in which their Militia regiments were to be commanded. He found it stated in the Report that the functions of the lieutenant colonel commanding in the district would embrace the immediate command of the depôt, and the command and inspection of all the Infantry and Reserve Forces. He did not intend to give any premature opinion whether those regulations were good or bad; but it was a serious matter to propose that henceforth colonels of Militia were no longer to have the command of the regiments of which they were supposed to be the commanding officers, and he thought some further information on that point was required. Another part of the scheme on which he wished to have some explanation was with reference to the proposal that after 12 years' service it should be open to captains of infantry regiments to go on half-pay for 10 years on condition of serving in a Militia regiment. How, he asked, were such officers to obtain the command of companies in the Militia, as he supposed the supply of officers in that force would be kept up. He altogether approved of the change by which the appointment of officers in the Militia was transferred from the Lords Lieutenant of counties to the Minister of the Crown. It was one which, had he remained in office, he should have himself proposed. 1817 He was sure his right hon. Friend would not suppose that he spoke in any hostile sense, but that he was really desirous of obtaining explanations on portions of that important plan which seemed to require further elucidation.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, he must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the general approbation with which his scheme had been received upon both sides of the House; but at the same time, he felt that nobody was less competent than he was to offer an opinion on any question of military details; but the matter to which he desired briefly to address himself was one of a very different character. It was a question which underlaid all questions of detail—namely, the principle on which our military expenditure was founded. The more excellent the right hon. Gentleman's plan was, the stronger the argument it afforded for the position which he (Mr. V. Harcourt) now desired to maintain, because the better organized their Army was, the less numerous it need be, and the less expensive it ought to be. A great deal of the tendency to an increase in our armaments had been due to the general sense throughout the country of the grave defects existing in them, and he entirely agreed with the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for South Durham last year—that if the quality of the officers was to be improved, and if the organization of the Army was also to be improved, surely the foundation was laid of a diminished force and a decreased expenditure, surely the time had arrived when it was incumbent on them to consider the reasons for a state of things which was not better, but worse than that once described by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire as "bloated armaments;" and in spite of all the criticisms that were generally made, he thought that was not a question to be determined by nibbling at small details, but by reference to large and general principles. They had before them this remarkable fact—and it was one which neither the House of Commons nor the English people could overlook—that during the period of 40 years, extending from the Peace of 1815 down to the Crimean War, the force maintained in England averaged in round numbers 50,000 men, more or less, or some 40,000 infantry, 8,000 cavalry, and 5,000 artillery and engineers. 1818 Now, the force they were asked at present to maintain in this country at the expense of the English people was exactly double that number, or 100,000 men. It was most important to inquire why 100,000 men should be needed in 1872, when 50,000 sufficed from 1815 down to 1852? If good reasons could be shown for that increase of force, he should be the first to vote the money required for it with cheerfulness. It was sometimes urged that to apply the standard of comparison was not a proper mode of examining that question. No doubt comparisons might be fallacious, unless they allowed for different states of circumstances; but when they were judging of magnitude, whether of time, space, or anything else, it was only by means of comparison that they could form any conception of it whatever. Therefore, making corrections for any difference in the state of circumstances, they were entitled to apply the standard of comparison to a question like the present. He would found himself with regard to that point on an authority who would be listened to with respect—a man whom most of them remembered, and whom all who remembered revered—a man who brought down to their times the recollections of ancient statesmanship and presented to their admiration the mitis sapientia Lœli. He alluded to the late Lord Lansdowne. In 1816, after the Peace of Vienna, in the greatest discussion which ever occurred in the English Parliament on those questions, it fell to the lot of the late Lord Lansdowne, supported by two great men who certainly did not belong to the Peace Society, and who were not indifferent either to the greatness or the honour of England—he meant the Marquess of Wellesley and Lord Granville—to oppose the military establishments proposed by the Government of that day. Lord Lansdowne on that occasion compared the proposed establishments with those of former periods—and perhaps there never was a time in which the argument as to a difference of circumstances might have been more strongly urged, for the whole state of Europe had been revolutionized by the course of events between 1793 and 1815. Lord Lansdowne, however, protested against the supposition that in proving the Estimates before the House to be improper and excessive, he was bound to produce others that were 1819 more consistent with economy; and said that no noble Lord could undertake to do that without official information; but that it was perfectly competent for their Lordships to declare the Estimates before them to be extravagant and excessive, and to call on the Government to revise them, but that he might compare them with former Estimates. Under the shelter of that great authority, he ventured to found his argument on a basis of comparison, and to ask for what the Army was wanted. This was a very proper question to be asked by the Representatives of the taxpayers upon the Vote of Men in Committee of Supply. He did not wish to be considered as a disciple of the peace-at-any-price party, for although war was, of all arbitrations, the most unjust, it was impossible to deny that it was a resource to which, under some circumstances, nations must be driven. But when he asked what it was for which we wanted an Army, there were many purposes for which Armies had been employed in England as well as elsewhere. One of the great objects for which Armies had been employed in former times had been to sustain what was termed European influences; and the first question he would ask of Her Majesty's Government was, whether these 100,000 men and these £15,000,000 or £18,000,000 of money were to any extent to be appropriated to such a purpose as that? It was not necessary now, as in former times, to protest against the doctrine of the balance of power, which, after having been established at the cost of infinite treasure and blood, had toppled over as soon as the work was completed; but there was something yet to be guarded against. He had recently read a remarkable work by M. Benedetti, the celebrated French Ambassador at Berlin, which formed one of the most deplorable revelations of modern times. It revealed a state of things which was the negation of all law and justice; it lifted a veil and exposed what had been the foreign policy of the Continent for something like 10 years past; read by the light of M. Benedetti's work, the game of foreign policy played upon the tables of Europe was a game played with marked cards and loaded dice; and the less England engaged in that game of speculation the better for her fortunes and reputation. The work recalled to him some 1820 words employed by Mr. Wilberforce in the days preceding the rupture of the Peace of Amiens, when he said that the people of this country were too honest to have much to do with continental connections, because we always fulfilled our engagements, while they were almost always faithless to theirs, and because it was a part of the general system of the Continent to pay no attention to political engagements when it was the least inconvenient to them. This was as true now as ever it was, and he protested against keeping 15,000 more men in the country than was the case formerly, if they were designed to support the fortunes and reputation of England upon the gambling table of continental foreign policy. He was not unaware of that other continental consideration known as our continental obligations, which depended upon treaties of guarantee. He would be the last to advocate the repudiation of any obligation which had already been contracted, no matter what its character; but with reference to guarantees in general it seemed to him that they embodied all the vices in an aggravated form which belonged to the law of entail and mortmain. He entirely denied the right of one generation to pledge the fortune, the reputation, and, it might be, the very existence of its successors by obligations of which it could by no possibility be a judge as to the power of that posterity to fulfil. He denied that any generation had the right to tie in perpetual mortmain the reputation of its posterity. A generation could judge what was necessary for itself; and if it incurred debts for a positive advantage to itself and to posterity, posterity should bear its part of those debts; but it was not right in addition to saddling posterity with debt, to deprive it of the right of self-preservation, and leave to it the deplorable dilemma whether it would accept dishonour or destruction. In that respect treaties of guarantee were vicious; but with respect to the fulfilment of treaty obligations, he did not ask merely whether it was politic, but whether it was possible, because men were more likely to agree upon the question of possibility than upon that of policy. To what did the change proposed by the Government point? On the Continent there were Armies with which for magnitude it was impossible for England to 1821 cope; it was as impossible for England to be a military Power on the Continent as it would be for Switzerland to become a naval Power. Had England decided to take a part in the late struggle, what position would she have occupied? She would have sent a corps d'armée and would have occupied a position similar to that of Saxony. Was it desirable that England should assume such a position? In the case of the Belgian Treaty, we might have had to meet the combined Armies of Germany and France—perhaps, 1,000,000 of men. "Were we going to provide for such a contingency as that by an increased Army of 20,000 men? It was said that for the defence of Belgium we might garrison Antwerp. We might as well talk of defending France by garrisoning Brest or Cherbourg. Unless we could move in the plains of Brussels, or occupy Liege, very little good would be done. In the case of the Black Sea Treaty made after the Crimean War, we retired with decorum, if not with dignity; and these two instances, in some degreee, tested our position when we had to confront continental questions. Now, without desiring either to retire altogether from influence in Europe—certainly not from those European obligations which we were bound to fulfil—we should make it honestly understood in Europe, what in our hearts we knew to be the truth, and in the case of the Black Sea Treaty had acknowledged, that in Europe England is not a military, but a naval Power. Until this fact was faced we could not discuss the question of our military establishments and national taxation on a sound and reasonable basis. What, then, it might be asked, did we want? We wanted an Army for the defence of the English Empire; and he, for one, would never consent that a foot of the Empire should ever be surrendered. The British Empire was distributed over various parts of the habitable globe, and that was one important element in the consideration of our armaments. First of all, there was our great Indian Empire. Now, however originally acquired, the English dominion in India was, he believed, an unmixed blessing to that part of the human race, and he would certainly not surrender it. But there was no evidence of a necessity for increasing the Indian Army. Everything of late tended to 1822 diminish the demand upon our forces there. The voyage was shortened, our men were more available, and the demand in India was not for more, but for fewer troops. Then we had great posts of advantage in Malta and Gibraltar, besides which there was the question of Egypt in connection with India. But as to the Mediterranean, either we commanded the seas or we did not. If we commanded the seas, the Mediterranean was ours; if we did not command the seas, no military force we might possess would ever enable us to hold our present footing there. Our posts in the Mediterranean being, therefore, a naval question, he regretted that the old practice was reversed, and that though the Navy was our first line of defence, and we ought first to settle our naval force, we were beginning with the Army Estimates. As to our colonies, no man more desired to see them maintained than he did. But the Government had withdrawn our troops from the colonies, wisely resolving that the great gift of self-government should be accompanied by the great duty of self-defence. The colonies, therefore, did not require more troops. If any English colony were exposed to danger arising out of any quarrel of the Mother Country, he hoped that no Englishman was so base as not to resolve upon defending it. But it should be remembered that the danger to which Canada was exposed was from a country which had hardly any Army and no Navy at all. As to the defence of our own shores, whatever might be said by inconsiderate persons out-of-doors, he was sure that in an Assembly of English Gentlemen no man, whatever his opinions, would be taunted with indifference either to the honour or the safety of his country. The object of all was the same; they differed only as to the means. But when the force of troops at home, which used to be 50,000, was now found to be double that number, the question was whether the danger had doubled too. To that they should have a definite reply. They were told that great events had taken place in Europe, and no doubt that was so. The battle of Sadowa was a great event; it occurred in 1866, but in 1868 they went to the hustings with the cry of military retrenchment. What had they learned from Sedan that they did not know from Sadowa? Sadowa taught us that Prussia 1823 and North Germany had a great and organized Army, which prostrated the military power of Austra in six weeks. But we did not on that account rush into frantic expenditure on our Army. On the contrary, as he before observed, the Liberal candidates went to the hustings in 1868 declaring that our military expenditure was a great deal too large, and under instructions to protest against the doctrine of efficiency. France never had less than 300,000 or 400,000 men when we had but 50,000 men at home, and yet the Governments of those days were perfectly well content to defend our shores and maintain our European position with those 50,000 men. What was changed? No doubt Germany was now a great military Power; but the strength of a chain was that of its weakest link, and the weak link of Germany was that naval weakness which prevented her from coming here at all. It did not matter whether she had 1,000,000, 2,000,000, or 20,000,000 of soldiers if she had no ships to bring them in. He should be laughed at if he said that a country with 10,000 soldiers might conquer one with 100,000; but Germany had five iron-clads against our 50. Why decline to apply to our own naval strength the process of reasoning which we applied to the military strength of other nations? The first principle of the art of war was that an invading Army must keep its communications open. If in the late war the French could, with a force of 50,000 men, have cut off the communications of the advancing Prussian Army, the campaign would have been at an end. These things were perfectly understood by Prussia, and the favourite subject of ridicule in Berlin then was the silly invasion-panic prevailing in England. Prussia had a fleet of five iron-clads, yet there were people in England who supposed that with this naval strength and her communications cut off, she was going to land a great Army on English soil. One of the greatest European military authorities who had read The Battle of Dorking had recently expressed an opinion that an event such as there referred to was impossible, because there was no Power in Europe, except England, which could even embark 50,000 men. Moreover, even if Russia and Prussia were to combine, there was no shipping in the North Sea equal to the 1824 task. In the Crimean War, France, England, and Turkey—the three greatest naval Powers in Europe—were only able to embark, and that imperfectly, 60,000 men, notwithstanding that they used their ships of war as transports. What, then, was the meaning of these panics? Some people seemed to live, to flourish in alarms, and never to be happy unless they were frightened, and those were the people who, with the experience of the Crimea before them, talked glibly of 100,000 men being on some fine morning landed upon the shores of England—a kind of talk which struck him as being the height of delusion. Peace establishments were said to be the fundamental policy of the country, and he wished to ask Her Majesty's Government if they recognized such a thing as a peace establishment, and if they did, what they understood by the phrase? They had been told that the Army was to be ready for every European complication, and invasion, not by one nation, but by several. But that was surely a war establishment, and he wished to be told the grounds of the increase which doubled the numbers of our men. This question was a large one, and was really the keystone of the whole, because, once taken, this downward step could not be retraced. They heard a great deal outside about abolishing the income tax and decreasing the taxes paid upon articles of food; but those who spoke on these questions and desired to see them settled might rely upon it that if the House of Commons passed this Vote no such abolition or reduction was likely to be made. Mr. Cobden once said, and very truly, that Mr. Gladstone was the best Chancellor of the Exchequer that England ever had, but that he was also the most extravagant one; that he had been a master in the adjustment of the burdens of the country; that having found the burden tied round the animal's knees, fastened to its tail, and blinding its eyes, had removed it most ingeniously to the softest pad upon the animal's shoulders, but the beast was carrying the burden still, and carrying a great deal more than it did before. "And," added Mr. Cobden, "before all this beautiful process was commenced, we never had a Government that extracted from the people £10,000,000 of income tax in time of peace." And that was the Government which now ruled the destinies of 1825 England. They all recognized the genius of Mr. Gladstone, but it simply gilded the pill, and did not in any way alter the cathartic quality of the medicine. They were entitled to ask if it was true, that while from the time of the Peace of 1815, down to the Crimean War the English Army stood on the same footing of 50,000 men, and the expenditure did not vary by more than £1,000,000 or £2,000,000, the expenditure had since 1853, when the brilliant financial career of the right hon. Gentleman commenced, grown to £70,000,000, or a permanent addition of £20,000,000 a-year to the national expenditure. He did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman sympathized with that increase; and, in extenuation, he (Mr. V. Harcourt) must admit that a considerable portion of it was incurred while Lord Palmerston was in power. In 1862, the right hon. Gentleman said that if the people of this country were only pleased to conduct their affairs for £60,000,000 a-year instead of £70,000,000, the income tax might be removed. Now, he (Mr. V. Harcourt) maintained that the people were so pleased at the present time to conduct their affairs, and they had a right to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he still held the opinion he expressed in 1862. If so, would the right hon. Gentleman only tell them how they could attain that desirable object, and would the House take the question into its deliberation, and give it a fair and impartial consideration, such as was consistent with the security of the Empire, and the prosperity of the people.
thought the speech to which the Committee had just listened was the most inconsistent deliverance ever heard in that House. The hon. and learned Gentleman while anxious to chant "Rule Britannia" all over the world was desirous to do so at a very cheap rate. He was for reducing the Army, but at the same time maintaining England's power in all parts of the globe. He should like to ask the Liberal Members who were about to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms), whether they were prepared, and whether in their opinion the English people were prepared, to give up all our foreign possessions? Were we prepared to abandon the Bahamas, Bermuda, our Mediterranean, or our Indian possessions? Considering 1826 our obligations with respect to the Continent, was the great Liberal party prepared to see the annexation of Belgium, Switzerland, and Denmark? If not, there ought to be an end to that unmeaning cry for the reduction of our Army. To say, as the hon. and learned Member for Oxford had done, that economies were to be effected by carrying out large principles, and not by nibbling at details, was convenient in a speech which had occupied an hour in delivery, and yet contained no more than might be put down on half a sheet of notepaper; but, if hon. Members were anxious for economy, let them make up their minds to have compulsory service, which, of course, was much cheaper than service obtained voluntarily in the open market, which he, for one, should regret to see superseded until we were obliged to resort to compulsion. Although they had not yet failed in obtaining men by going fairly into the open market and bidding for them, yet he agreed with the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms) that the pay of the soldier must be increased, because the price of labour was rising; and he thought no one would deny that we were bound to give the men the same price as other persons would. The inquiry of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford as to why we had 100,000 men now, whereas, formerly, we had only 50,000, he would answer by reminding the hon. and learned Member that not more than two years ago we were told by our Foreign Minister that affairs were never more quiet than they were then, and yet within a month of that declaration 1,000,000 of men were engaged in one of the most frightful contests ever known, and that within 1,000 miles of our own shores; and in the face of such facts there was nothing extravagant in our being able to put 100,000 men in the field. Even the hon. and learned Member for Oxford spoke of the Continental Powers as playing with marked cards and loaded dice; and was it not our duty to be prepared to defend ourselves against Powers to whom such a description would apply? He would now turn to what he believed to be one of the most important features of the recommendations of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he intended to continue the Autumn 1827 Manœuvres. He (Colonel Loyd-Lindsay) himself thought they had been a very great advantage, and was happy to see that the right hon. Gentleman was able to appreciate the friendly pressure which had been put upon him by hon. Members on both sides of the House, when he showed signs of wishing to withdraw the Autumn Manœuvres. He (Colonel Loyd Lindsay) thought they ought to be continued, and regretted that so few hon. Members of Parliament had been present to witness, perhaps, the most magnificent sight that had ever been seen in England. He thought the decision which had been come to to hold the manœuvres at Aldershot was a mistake. Notwithstanding friendly criticism, it was quite clear that the ground was unsuited to them, and they partook more of the character of field days than of the extended manœuvres which were set forth as part of the plan. The troops were under separate commands in bodies separated from each other by cultivated lands, and the consequence was that generals were subjected to unfair comment and criticism in regard to the mode in which they moved the troops. It was useful to remind the authorities of the War Office that, after all the preparations we made, we were not able to move our Army a distance of more than 10 miles from its base of operations; and the remark made by a Liberal Duke, that we had an Army that could not march, had not yet been disproved. In confirmation of the opinion that it was a mistake to go to Aldershot, he could quote passages from the Report of the Commander-in-Chief describing the four days of manœuvres, from which it appeared that on three of the four days the ground was unsuited to the purpose. As that was, perhaps, the only opportunity there would be of calling attention to the Report, he would refer to what the Commander-in-Chief said of the Militia which took part in the manœuvres, and it was in effect that the physique of the men left much to be desired, and that they were incapable of sustained exertion. Now, as it was essential that the Militia should be equipped and become in every respect equal to the Regular Army, he must, by way of apology, state that the Militia at Aldershot on that occasion were simply metropolitan corps, and were in no way fair representatives of the Militia Force of the country; they 1828 had not any of the advantages of the Militia; they had no county or local connection; the men were drawn from the floating population of London; they were unknown to their officers; and, altogether, he should be glad to see these London corps struck out of the list of the Militia. The London regiments of Militia were of no value; their physique was unworthy of soldiers, and they stopped away when they found attendance inconvenient. He should move, at the proper time, that they be struck out of the Estimates, and, if successful, he should relieve the service from a set of regiments which were a disgrace to it; while, if he failed, it would, at least, be a warning to them to rub themselves up a little, so as to present a better appearance if they went out under canvas again. As to the cavalry, the Commander-in-Chief had pointed out their deficient knowledge of some of their most important duties—namely, watching the enemy's movements, gathering information, and transmitting it to superior authority in the rear; or, in short, acting as the eyes and ears of an Army in the field. His Royal Highness imputed the deficiency to want of practice; but what seemed to him to be required was something else than that assigned—it was that their equipment should be simplified, and that lightness and rapidity should be studied rather than weight and heavy charging power. He believed they were greatly overloaded, and as it was seldom a Commander-in-Chief had the courage to point out the deficiencies of a service, it was important that notice should be taken of his comments. As to the Yeomanry, His Royal Highness recommended that their equipment should be simplified, and that they should be trained to use their carbines or short rifles dismounted. They would thus, from their knowledge of the country, be of service in convoying supplies, gathering information, and in keeping up communications. At present, the Yeomanry were servile imitators of the worst faults of the cavalry, and though he should be sorry to see any force disbanded no corps could be better spared, but he hoped to see great reforms promptly instituted. With regard to the Volunteers, the manœuvres had, he hoped, set at rest the disagreeable dispute constantly raised hitherto, whether they were of any value. There was but 1829 one opinion as to their efficiency on this occasion—the Duke of Cambridge's views concurring with all others on this point, and that was, that when the occasion arose, they would prove an exceedingly valuable body of men. They might not, indeed, have so nice an appreciation of discipline as was observable among the Regular troops, but no troops were readier to obey their officers and attend to all essential points. That was displayed on one occasion when the Control department failed to supply fuel for cooking the rations, though there were Scotch firs of no value in the centre of the camp which would easily have supplied the deficiency, not a branch of them was touched.
said, the scheme of the Government not only met the exigencies of the case, but gave, for the first time, a substantial plan of Army re-organization, and there were many points in it of which he entirely approved. At the same time, he thought the sub-division of the country into 66 military districts was too minute. Half that number of districts would have been a better arrangement. As to the question of economy in connection with military administration, he thought our expenditure on the Army was excessive, seeing that within the memory of hon. Members of the House, the Army Estimates had risen from £6,000,000 to £18,000,000. He was aware that a portion of the latter sum was only a transitory expense, but the fact remained that a Liberal Government had brought forward Army Estimates amounting to £18,000,000. He should not be satisfied till the ordinary Estimates were reduced by £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, and he did not see why the cost of the Army should not be brought down to about £12,000,000. It would not become him, as a soldier, to say that the proposed expenditure should be reduced by £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 without saying how it could be done. In his opinion the Army could not be administered economically, unless the Government would act on the principle of passing men from the ranks of the Regular Army to the Reserves, and trusting to our Reserves rather than to the Regular Army for our defence. The way in which short service and Reserves had been dealt with by the Government had not given the system a fair chance. As to 1830 the Reserves, in the sense in which he and his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms), and some of the best military authorities understood that word, a reserve was not a man who received a miserable 4d. a-day, but a man who got £10 or £12 a-year. He believed it was only by acting on that principle that we could really get economy. A soldier cost £50 a-year, and by passing him into the Reserve and paying him £10 a-year, a saving of £40 a-year would be effected. That system applied only to the 20,000 men under discussion would save nearly £1,000,000; but if applied on a larger scale, say, to 40,000 or 50,000 men, would effect a saving of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, and our defensive power would not be weakened by so doing. There was nothing in the scheme before the House which prevented that being done. He wished to know what economy the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War proposed to effect by his scheme. If he reduced the expenditure £1,000,000 this year, did he hope to continue reducing the expenditure every year? He intended to vote with the hon. Member for Hackney, because he believed in the principle of this country being mainly defended by its Reserves, those Reserves being made efficient by being passed from the Regular Army.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he thought it was the pleasure of the Committee to bring this long discussion to a close. He had nothing but gratification to express at the manner in which the Committee had received the proposals that he had made, and he felt that a duty was cast upon him at that moment not to trespass at any great length upon their time. He would, therefore, endeavour to reply only to the more salient parts of what had been said, and he trusted that those whose friendly criticisms and useful suggestions he could not notice would be so good as to feel that they had not been overlooked or forgotten, but that he was not able, under the pressure of time, to reply to them. First, he was quite sure he should not occupy the time of the Committee profitably, if he entered at length into the subject which had just been mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Berkshire (Colonel Loyd-Lindsay)—namely the military manœuvres of last year. He only referred to them for this— 1831 he could not permit that hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that he (Mr. Cardwell) showed any disposition to retire from them, without giving him a very courteous, but, at the same time, a very emphatic contradiction. On the contrary, he claimed the merit of having introduced the manœuvres into this country for the first time, and he rejoiced to hear the hon. and gallant Gentleman say they presented the most magnificent spectacle he ever saw in this country. So far from showing any disposition to retire from the manœuvres, he believed they were a most important step in advance in the real military training and organization of the country. His hon. and learned Friend and Colleague (Mr. V. Harcourt) had called upon him to tell him what in his opinion was a peace establishment. The question was easily answered. A peace establishment in his opinion was an Army first-rate in quality, not large in numbers, having its Reserves prepared and capable of ready and rapid expansion. He hoped to be able to show, even in the few remarks he should now offer, that the plan which was before the Committee did propose an Army of the kind. His hon. and learned Friend and Colleague said, in the beginning of his argument, that everything must be judged by comparison, and he even quoted Lord Lansdowne as an authority for a proposition, which he (Mr. Cardwell) should have thought might have passed muster without authority; and then he went on to ask why should we have a larger force in this country than we had in the year 1850? and in the very next sentence, having mentioned the sudden growth of enormous military Powers, he told the Committee that he would not part with any portion of our influence on the Continent of Europe; that he would not consent to forego the discharge of anyone of our Treaty obligations; that he would not part with any portion of the extended Empire of this country, where the flag of Britain floated, any retirement from our power, or from our Empire. If those were the views which were entertained; if we were to maintain our influence among nations, perform our obligations, protect our colonies; and if everything was to be in proportion to the numbers of the time at which he spoke, then this House and the people of this country must be of opinion that in the presence 1832 of enormous military Monarchies, an Army something on the scale of that which was proposed for this great country of England was not disproportionate or absurd. He did not yield to his hon. and learned Friend and Colleague, or to any man in that House, in his desire for peace and in his abhorrence of everything which tended to war; but his belief was that, in maintaining a just security for ourselves, in showing that we were prepared to resist attack, come from whatever quarter it might, we were not creating a tendency to war, but taking securities for peace; and he felt sure it was our duty to owe our safety not to the forbearance, or, possibly, to the contempt of others, but to our own strength and spirit. Doctrines like these did not commit us to extravagant expenditure. On the contrary, they committed us to this—that we should take care that whatever our expenditure, it was so applied as to combine our forces to the greatest advantage. His hon. and gallant Friend who had spoken last (Captain Beaumont) said that they had taken off £1,000,000 this year, and he hoped they would take off another £1,000,000 next year, and so on for many successive years. He did not know where his hon. and gallant Friend intended to stop. His own hope and belief was, that we were introducing a system of efficiency, consistent with economy. His right hon. Friend who sat opposite (Sir John Pakington) began his remarks by referring to the purchase question. He (Mr. Cardwell) was rather surprised to hear his right hon. Friend repeat the strong and emphatic declarations he made last year in favour of purchase. The purchase system was a breach of the statute law, and lately we had heard a great deal about breaches of the statute law. He was surprised therefore to hear his right hon. Friend regret the purchase system, for he (Mr. Cardwell) thought no one ought to regret the termination of a system, the further continuance of which was only possible by the grossest violations of the statute. Then his right hon. Friend went on to say that there was nothing in all that was proposed which might not have been equally well accomplished if the purchase system had remained. Was it really possible that anyone could have supposed such a thing, and, above all, his right hon. Friend? Attempts 1833 were made at both ends to put an end to that system, and at both ends they failed. Fourteen years ago the Royal Commission, who examined into the purchase question, pointed out that, whether we had purchase or not in the lower branches of the Army, there was one place so conspicuous in importance, the filling up of which by an incompetent officer might be so fatal to the Army or to the Empire, that it was absolutely necessary as regarded that, that purchase should be removed, and that was the command of battalions. For 14 years that Report lay on the Table, and for 14 years no attempt was made to remedy the mischief, and why? The purchase system rendered it impossible. Then let them look at the other end. His right hon. Friend himself was the man who recommended to his Sovereign the abolition of the rank of cornet and ensign—a very small beginning and a very trivial step. But when it fell to him (Mr. Cardwell) to endeavour to carry that recommendation into effect, his right hon. Friend knew perfectly well how entirely impossible of accomplishment he found it. And what was the difficulty? The difficulty was the purchase system. This House would not listen to the step being taken until we had first disposed of the purchase system. And now, what were we doing? We had abolished the rank of cornet and ensign, and had made the sub-lieutenant a probationary step. The sub-lieutenant was to leave the Army in three years, if he did not qualify for the next step. The lieutenancy was a probationary step. The captain was to have permission to pass on half-pay into the Militia on certain conditions. The major was to be appointed for five years, and the lieutenant colonel for five years. None of these steps could have been taken without abolishing the purchase system. Last year his right hon. Friend said—"You can reduce the second lieutenant of a regiment coming home from India, and if so, what else is there you cannot do?" Yes, in theory there was nothing. In theory the purchase right was nothing, the right of the Sovereign was everything. His noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire said that there had been hardships upon the officers. But it was the object of the Government and of Parliament to accomplish these changes without inflicting hardships 1834 on the officers. It might have been possible to do all which had been done in theory; but in equity and in practice it was impossible. But had we not now thrown the Army open to competitive examination, and as a reward for service in the Militia? Was it possible to do either without abolishing purchase? His right hon. Friend asked—"Was there no unfulfilled promise as to the way in which promotion should be given?" And he went on to remind the Government that they promised that although promotion to the command of the battalion should be by selection, yet throughout the regiment it should always be regimentally. In self-defence, therefore, he was obliged to do that which was never agreeable—namely, to read a passage from his own speech. On the 16th February last year he said—Speaking generally, promotion from subaltern to captain would be regimental, and, speaking generally, promotion from captain to major and from major to lieutenant colonel would be Army promotion."—[3 Hansard, cciv., 346]the object being to sift out defective officers until they attained the highest possible standard of military excellence. Now, these were not words corresponding to the impression which his right hon. Friend was under in addressing the Committee. He (Mr. Cardwell) promised last year that the changes should not be so as to affect officers of average intellect, or calculated unduly to elevate juniors far above their seniors, except in cases of very extraordinary merit. But at the same time he expressly said that there was one important question which they had to keep in view, and that was, that if they did not maintain the right of selection at all parts of the system they would, in abolishing one system of purchase, be merely laying the foundation for another. His right hon. Friend had asked him a Question with regard to what he held to be a very great grievance—namely, that three gentlemen had been recently promoted to other regiments than their own, against their inclinations, and without having been consulted.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
What I said was, that the gentlemen alluded to were not consulted, and had no knowledge of their promotion until it was effected, and that they did not like it.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, as he had no Notice of the Question, he could only 1835 say that it was entirely unknown to him whether the gentlemen in question were aware of their promotion before they received it, or whether they were gratified at receiving it or not. But he held in his hand a Return of a large number of promotions, and he found that of six lieutenant colonelcies vacant, five were regimental promotions, and one was by selection. Of 11 majorities all were filled up regimentally. Of 17 companies, two were absorbed by supernumerary captains, two filled by selection, and 13 by regimental promotion. That Return was prepared a few days ago, and related to promotions since the 1st of November. As far as information had reached him these promotions had not created any feeling either of alarm or indignation; his confident belief was, that they had created exactly the opposite feeling. But, at all events, no one could say that there was in them anything like a breach of faith. Then there was the great question of espionage, and his right hon. Friend said that the Government introduced this system, for the first time, conjointly with the appearance of the Royal Warrant, and which system was represented as degrading to the service, and, he believed, entirely new to our or to any other service. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: I merely spoke of what I had heard from military men.] He did not suppose that his right hon. Friend would make any charge which he did not believe to be true. Now, what was the fact? Confidential reports had been always practised in the Army. Why, when his right hon. Friend was Secretary of State for War confidential reports were made; and if his right hon. Friend would do him the favour to look at some made in his time, he would find that at least the system was not new. [Here, amid some laughter, the right hon. Gentleman handed a paper across the Table to Sir John Pakington.] But his right hon. Friend read from the General Order; for in pursuance of an engagement which he (Mr. Cardwell) had made last year, His Royal Highness the Commander in Chief had issued a General Order, in which he said that the reports should be strictly confidential, and that they were in no case to be made public. It was added that whenever an officer felt that he had been disadvantageously reported upon he should be officially informed by 1836 the Military Secretary of the particulars of that report; but if it was not regarded as entirely disqualifying an officer for further promotion he should be made acquainted with the reasons, that he should be cautioned, and that when a more favourable report was made his claims should be reconsidered. The truth was a security was thereby furnished to an officer that he should not be passed by without a full and complete report. But when it was found that the Order to which he referred had been misunderstood, an amended Order was issued.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
(handing back the document which had been passed to him by the right hon. Gentleman): The document which the right hon. Gentleman speaks of has no reference whatever to that which I stated.
§ SIR HENRY STORKS
When the right hon. Gentleman himself held the office of Secretary of State for War, confidential reports were made by the general officer at every half-yearly inspection. The reports which my right hon. Friend (Mr. Cardwell) handed across the Table were the confidential reports of the Department.
§ MR. CARDWELL
The next point about which his right hon. Friend had asked was the allowance of £600 a-year to the Artillery officers. Now, in conceding a very large advantage in the way of promotion to the officers of Artillery and Engineers the Goverment felt themselves bound, in pursuance of what had been recommended by the Committee of the House of Commons, and afterwards by the Departmental Committee, which was presided over by Captain Vivian, to terminate that part of the arrangement which permitted a limited allowance given on retirement to be disposed of to officers of 30 years' service in sums of £600, and had thought it right to give effect to the arrangement that officers of Artillery and Engineers only after 30 years' service should retire on the full pay of their rank. His right hon. Friend had also asked him to give some explanation with respect to recruiting and the six years' service. Here he was between two fires. The hon. Mover of the Amendment was of opinion that he (Mr. Cardwell) had not gone far enough in the case of short service recruiting—that he had not done enough, but that greater economy might be obtained 1837 by pushing it still further; and his hon. Friend the Member for South Durham, and his right hon. Friend opposite, were very much alarmed that recruiting was in an unsatisfactory state, which was said to be attributed to short-service recruiting. One would imagine that the plan he had submitted to the Committee was based upon the assumption that our recruiting was perfect and satisfactory, whereas every one knew it had for its object greater facilities for recruiting men it was desirable to bring into the service. The result, however, had been that the recruiting had been larger in the last two years than it had been in any year since 1861, having amounted in one year to over 24,000, and in another to over 23,000 men; and it was no small thing to obtain in one year by volunteer recruiting 23,000 or 24,000 recruits, and if such a number could be continuously obtained, they could introduce short service and make the system successful. It was further urged that they were not good recruits; but the Inspector General of Recruiting has stated that the standard was 5 feet 5 inches; that greater attention had been paid to chest measures, and that a better and more careful medical examination prevailed; and the result was, that the reports of the physique of the men were most favourable. One hon. Member had stated that he had received a letter from a commanding officer, which stated that it had taken him a good deal of time to get 20 good recruits; but after carefully going into the matter with the Inspector General of Recruiting, all he could say was that such letters did not reach the War Office; but on the contrary, he laid before the House official authority, which showed that the recruits were such as he had described them. So far from the introduction of short service being a failure, the Returns showed that the recruiting for the Line was in excess of the establishment, the only instance in which recruiting had not come to the establishment was in the Royal Artillery, whore the short-service system had not yet been applied; and which he looked upon as satisfactory proof that the short-service system had not failed, and had not proved incompatible with the objects which they had in view. Again, his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire complained that we had no 1838 compulsory service. He, and those who thought with him, said that we did not by forcing men into the Militia enable ourselves to give a certificate of service to the Volunteers as an exemption from the Militia. Well, in the beginning of the present century Mr. Wyndham, replying to Mr. Addington as to the system of voluntary service for the Militia, said the right hon. Gentleman had not only not furnished us with an Army, but had rendered the furnishing of an Army impossible, inasmuch as he had driven 400,000 men into the Volunteers. But he need not argue at any length against the system of compulsion in that Committee. It was a system which was not tolerated in the Navy; it was not possible in the Army, and it was not wanted for the Militia. His belief was, that if that House were to establish such a system, it would be impossible to carry it into effect. He did not wish to mince his words on the subject. It was a beautiful system in theory, for those who were captivated by the example of Prussia and other countries to recommend the advantages of compulsory service; but it was a far nobler spectacle to him to see this country raising readily the number of men necessary for her defence by means of voluntary service, and sure he was that we never should be induced to resort to the compulsory system, for it was our glory that we had never yet been found unable to defend ourselves under the voluntary system. His noble Friend the Member for Berwick (Viscount Bury), he might add, seemed to think that the Government had done nothing for the Volunteers. Others said that a great deal too much had been done for them, but he was not of that opinion. No one held the Volunteers in higher estimation than he did. It was, however, admitted, for the first time by the present Government, that the whole of the necessary expenses of Volunteers should be met by means of a Vote of that House. The capitation grant had been raised to 35s., training schools for officers had been established, and money provided for in the Estimates for the purpose, and now it was proposed to unite the Volunteers in local brigades with the Regulars and the Militia, to give them the use of camp and drill grounds, and they had been furnished with the best arms in the shape of breech-loaders. That might be doing nothing, but he could 1839 not concur in that view, and he should be glad if the desire of the Government to do something for the Volunteers had been more readily acknowledged. Then his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bewdley (Major Anson) commented on that part of the scheme which consisted in the linking of various regiments together. Other Members of high authority had said they wished this plan to be more vigorously pursued and the regiments to be more closely united; and he was glad that these remarks had been made. In dealing with questions of this magnitude and difficulty, the Committee would feel that it would be culpable on the part of the Government, if they were regardless of the susceptibilities of the regiments and of the feelings of officers; and it was in deference to them that the Government had abstained from pushing the scheme further than was proposed in the statement laid before the Committee. The men who had been enlisted for one regiment could not be required to serve in different regiments without their consent, but it was proposed in future to enlist men for the brigade and not for the regiment; and the closer the susceptibilities of the service and the feelings of the officers would permit the battalions to be drawn together, the more perfect he should consider the scheme to be, and the more gratified he should feel with the conclusion at which the Government were able to arrive. There seemed to be some perplexity as to the position of commanding officers of Militia regiments under the scheme; but he could not understand how the perplexity arose. A colonel of Militia would command his own battalion, and the colonel at the local centre would command the whole brigade, and would be the superior officer. During the months when the Militia was not called out, and when the permanent Staff and the adjutant were attached to the local centre, they would be employed in recruiting both for the Militia and the Line; for it was desired, above all things, to prevent rivalry in recruiting. Whether a man was to enlist for the Line or for the Militia would be left to his own inclination and choice, and would depend upon whether he desired to enlist for home or for foreign service. He hoped that one result would be that the wall of separation would be broken down, and that when a man who had had a year's training in the Militia 1840 found he had an aptitude for military service, and desired to pass on into the Line he would do so. Thus, we should solve the difficulty of obtaining older men for foreign service in regiments abroad. With regard to captains it was intended to allow a limited number of them in the Regular Army to go on half-pay for a short period, in order that they might serve in the Militia for 10 years; and although the contrary had been affirmed in the course of the debate that evening, he was assured by officers of experience and knowledge of the service that this was one of the most acceptable offers that could be made. It must be remembered that some of the subalterns of the Militia would have the prospect of obtaining commissions in the Line, and the two services would be more closely drawn together than before. He had been asked about the proposed arrangements for Ireland. Ireland had only seven battalions of its own, but the number would be more than doubled, and there would be eight centres for Ireland, and with two artillery centres, ten. The proportion of recruiting in Ireland itself was not so large as this proportion of centres, and therefore he hoped it would be considered that justice had been done to Ireland. In several instances in which a place had been chosen for a local centre, other places in the neighbourhood had preferred claims, and all that could be done was carefully to examine these claims in the hope of arriving at a legitimate conclusion. It had also been said with regard to linking different corps, that in some cases regiments were thrown together under the scheme in an ill-assorted manner. All he could say on that point was, that he had made the best arrangement in his power at present; but he was prepared to give the various suggestions which had been offered his most careful consideration, with the view of arriving at a completely satisfactory arrangement. Some hon. Gentlemen complained that the taxpayer was about to be burdened with a very heavy charge, if the House agreed to grant £3,500,000 for building barracks. He did not think the money would be wasted, if its expenditure in that direction got rid of the system of billeting which was so injurious to the public service; whether they looked at that system from its moral point of view, its bearing upon discipline, 1841 and the oppression which fell upon the persons who had to billet the men. It must be remembered there was a charge on the Estimates of £113,000 for the lodging of the men of the Militia; and although it might not be possible to save the whole of that charge, £50,000 a-year might be saved. To come to the immediate question and the objections of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms), we were now engaged in recruiting without bounty and without claim to pension; and if the hon. Member had had some experience of the difficulty of introducing this system at all he would not have taken the position he did. With regard to useless officials the number employed in the Department had been very largely reduced; and the number of letters had been reduced from 1,500 to 900 a-day. As to the Army being over-officered, in two years the number of officers had been reduced by more than 1,200. As to taking 20,000 men out of the Army and putting them in the Reserve—the men had not been enlisted upon that condition; and it was impossible to suppose that anything like that number would be willing to pass out of the Army into the Reserve. We were now passing from an Army recruited for long service with pensions to an Army recruited for short service without pensions; we had now recruited 14,000 men on the latter terms, and if we stopped this recruiting at once, we should put an end to the plan by which we were seeking to obtain our Reserve. It could scarcely be considered economical to make a wholesale reduction now. There were some reductions in the Vote as it stood; and surely it was better to pass that Vote now, and to rely on the future increase of the Reserve placing us in a different position. Against the policy of dispensing with the Militia, as wished by his hon. Friend, he must utter his decided protest; he agreed with the Royal Commissioners, that the Militia was our great constitutional Reserve. The Duke of Wellington, in the last speech he made in Parliament, said he had never seen better disciplined troops than our Militia, and that Militia Forces could be improved until they were everything we could desire. Improvement was what the Government desired to effect; the Report of the last year's training was very satisfactory, and more was hoped from the brigading of the Militia with the Regulars. 1842 Nothing could be more ungenerous than to point, as the hon. Member for Berkshire (Colonel Loyd-Lindsay) had done, to the few regiments that were brigaded with the Regulars last autumn, and so to disparage the whole Militia. That was not the spirit in which the Commander-in-Chief had spoken of them in his Report. He firmly believed that the Militia of this country, if properly handled and treated, would constitute a firm and safe reliance for the nation. He had now explained nearly all the important points upon which questions had been put to him, and had, in fact, shown that in the interests of true economy it would be better not to agree to the diminution of force proposed by the hon. Member for Hackney, and that the Committee, having in view the formation of a Reserve by passing the men through the Regular Army, in order that they might be rendered suitable and reliable subjects for that Reserve, should agree to the Vote submitted by the Government.
said, that the gross expenditure for the Army was proposed to be £14,800,000; and if they voted the number of men asked for, the country would be virtually pledged to that expenditure in time of peace, and as he could not agree to the propriety of such an expenditure, he should vote for the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 63; Noes 234: Majority 171.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ COLONEL C. H. LINDSAY
informed the Chairman that he had found his way into the wrong Lobby, and voted with the Ayes, whereas he had intended to vote for the Government. He wished to make this explanation, in order that the matter might be put right by the public Press.
said, the vote of the hon. and Gallant Member would be reckoned in the Lobby in which he had voted.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 123,649, 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."—(Mr. Muntz.)
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 67; Noes 216: Majority 149.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £5,238,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Pay, Allowances, and other Charges of Her Majesty's Land Forces at Home and Abroad, exclusive of India, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1872 to the 31st day of March 1873, inclusive.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £15,736, for Agency, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Lea.)
defended the Vote as one which was customary, and most expedient; for, if the Vote were not agreed to, the money would have to come out of the officers' salaries. Moreover, it tended to the convenience and comfort of the officers of the Army.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
appealed to the Prime Minister to allow the Committee to report Progress, as there were many matters which were very interesting, and which it was unreasonable to expect the Committee to discuss at that hour of the morning (25 minutes past 1).
trusted that, after the very full discussion they had had, the Government would be allowed to take this Vote.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, the amount could not be got rid of all at once. The case had been in discussion all the evening, and he objected to Progress being reported. He reminded the Committee that this item had been reduced from £37,000 to £15,000.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Colonel Barttelot,)—put, and negatived.
§ Question put, "That the Item of £15,736, for Agency, be omitted from the proposed Vote."1844
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 43; Noes 87: Majority 44.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.