HC Deb 24 February 1873 vol 214 cc838-55

rose to call the attention of the House to the length of Service of Regiments in India, and to move, "That, in the opinion of this House, such service ought to be shortened." An appeal had been made to him on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to forego the privilege of now addressing the House in order to allow the House to go into Committee of Supply so as to enable him to make his statement on the Army Estimates. He must remind the right hon. Gentleman that he (Colonel Barttelot) was but a very humble Member of the House, and was bound to conform himself to its Rules; whereas the right hon. Gentleman was at liberty to address it on all occasions. He thought he was perfectly justified, on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply, to bring forward what he believed to be a great and crying grievance. If this question did not involve the life and health of many of our soldiers in India —if it were merely a money question, or anything of that kind, he might well have deferred to the wishes of the right hon. Gentleman; but as the health and. well-being of our Army were concerned, he must say that he was the last person who would shrink from bringing forward their grievances. It might be in the recollection of many hon. Members that on the 13th instant he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was his intention to shorten the time of service of regiments in India in consequence of his short-service system. The answer was a very simple one—no; but that, whilst the rank and file were to have short service, it had been arranged with the Indian Government that the officers and non-commissioned officers should remain in India for 12 years. That was an extraordinary statement, because now the service was only 10 years in the Infantry, though it was true that in the Cavalry it was 12 years. Many of his friends understood the matter in a different way; they said that the Secretary for War was going to alter his proceedings in reference to short periods of enlistment, and that the men were to go to India for 12 years. He (Colonel Barttelot) said no, because such an arrangement would destroy the Reserve at home, because it would deprive it of nearly half the men who should have gone into it. He must take it that the men were to be relieved on the short-service system in India; and he should wish to make some observations in reference to the expense, and also to express his fear that the esprit de corps of the regiments would not be improved by the regulations made. He would further ask, could it be just that the officers and non-commissioned officers should remain in India for 12 years, whilst the men were only to serve there for six years? Lastly, he should have to advert to the consequences to the health and the lives of the troops serving in India. Now as to the expense. They all knew that the expense of conveying troops to and from India was very great; but he thought that he could show that under a system of shorter service this expense would not be greater. His (Colonel Barttelot's) proposition was that no regiment should serve in India longer than five years. We had now 62,965 men in India. It would take about 12,600 men per annum to relieve them in five years. He proposed that the right hon. Gentleman should alter for the Indian service the term of enlistment. Why should not men be enlisted in this country to serve for a certain period here first, and then go to India for five years with their regiments and return with their regiments? If we increased the men 10 per cent above the number required to go to India, there would be no occasion for reliefs to go to India while their regiment was there. They would naturally decrease while they were in India, and when they came home they would be able to go into the Army of Reserve. He had authority for saying that it would only take 12,600 men to relieve the Indian regiments, they serving there for only five years. He held in his hand a Return asked for by his late lamented Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), whose loss was regretted equally on both sides of the House. It was a Return of Navy Transports, which was ordered on the 23rd of May, 1871. A later Return had not yet been presented, although it was moved for in April last year. The Return which he held in his hand showed that in the year 1867–8 18,410 persons were conveyed to India and back; in 1868–9, 18,141; and in 1869–70, 25,439; making an average of more than 20,000 troops—including women and children—conveyed during the year. That would, anyone would say, be amply sufficient to relieve the Army in five years. He thought the expense of so relieving the Army would not be greater than it was under the present system. It must be recollected that we did not now sail round the Cape. We had the Suez Canal, and the expense of carrying troops to India was only £19 4s. per head, including officers, whilst for privates alone it was little more than £14 per head. His hon. Friend the late Member for Liverpool had said that the Mercantile Marine were prepared to do that service at a far less sum than the Government transports cost. In former times it used to be calculated that to take a man to India and place him there cost £50. Under the proposed system he would take the women and children at 1,400, instead of at the present figure of 3,000. If they sent out younger men, there would be fewer of them who would be married. It was the old soldiers, as a rule, who were married; and, as he had said, there would be fewer women and children, and anybody who had seen those classes of persons in India would think that a great advantage. There was a pamphlet which had been published by an hon. and gallant Officer who was also a distinguished soldier, who calculated by a five years' service in India they would save on conveyance of troops, in depots in this country, and under the head of women and children, and women's quarters in India, in all £314,600 per annum; and it seemed that the writer had rather understated than overstated the amount. His (Colonel Barttelot's) scheme for the relief of the regiments in India would effect a saving of £40,600 as compared with the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. That he believed in no way overstated the case, so that there was a large margin to cover any additional expense which might be incurred by more frequent transports. But even if the short-service system advocated caused additional expense, that expense could not be placed in competition for one moment with the health and lives of the soldiers. It should not be forgotten, in considering this matter, that as men were enlisted sometimes at 17 and were not sent to India until they were 20, three years out of the six would be gone before their Indian service commenced. That being so, how often would troops have to be relieved in India under the present circumstances? The esprit de corps of the regiment would be fostered also by the system he proposed. Those having personal experience of the Army knew perfectly well what was meant by a regiment in good heart, a regiment whose officers knew their men and whose men knew their officers—a regiment prepared at all points, anxious to be led before the enemy, and inspired by a desire for distinction. Such regiments might be preserved if they went out bodily to India with all their officers and men intact, and remained there for five years. He would appeal to the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks) upon this point, for he, at least, knew what the value of esprit de corps was. How different would be the case of a regiment with its officers remaining out there for one period and the men for another, and the men being sent out in driblets to be absorbed there into the body which had already acquired the indolent habits which were consequent upon serving in a tropical climate. How preferable would it be for the whole body to go out together fresh for their work. In the first five years of a soldier's life in India he was far fitter to do his duty than he would be afterwards. It could hardly be said that it would be better either for officers or men to remain in India for a longer period than five years. The statistics showed clearly that the longer a man remained in India the worse it was for his health. Those diseases that permanently disabled a man did not come on suddenly, but they did come on as years passed by, and every year, after a certain time, was most detrimental to health. The writer of the pamphlet to which he had already referred said that under the present system the proportion of troops invalided was about 5 per cent per annum, whilst under the five years' system it was estimated that it would be only 3 per cent. Now, would it not be a great thing if they could save so large a percentage of men sent home invalided? The number of men saved by such a decrease would be 1,250 per annum, and surely that was worthy of their consideration. The death-rate the same writer fixed at 2 per cent, instead of 3¼. Would it not be worth while to try a system which there was good reason to believe would save 1 per cent of the lives of our soldiers in India, or 620 men per annum? Much sympathy was exhibited on the occasion of shipwrecks of any magnitude; but hero was a loss of life which was positively appalling when it was known that a change of system might prevent it, without causing any counterbalancing hardship, expense, or inconvenience. But the evil as regards the men was small when compared with the position of the officers. If five years' service was proved to be as much as an Englishman could stand in India without detriment to his health, what could be said of the case of the officers, who were bound to serve there for 12 years, while the men were in some cases able to return home in three, or, at the most, six years. The writer of the pamphlet from which he had quoted estimated that there would be a reduction of 22 per cent in the regiments upon short service, so that a regiment that went out 810 strong would return 624 strong, and this seemed to be a very fair estimate. He (Colonel Barttelot) doubted whether, under the present system, the regiments were ever so strong as that during their last year's service in India. The ill-effects of the long-service system were forcibly shown by some statistics respecting the stay of the 38th Regiment in India, which he would gladly place at the disposal of any hon. Members who desired to examine them more closely. In order to keep up the strength of the regiment no fewer than 73 officers were sent out to it between 1857 and 1871, when the regiment returned home. The strengths of the regiment in 1857 was 1,061, of whom 45 were officers. During the time it was in India the regiment was increased by 1,351. Between 1857 and 1871 it decreased by 1,781, and in the latter year embarked for England 647 men, 69 women, and 85 children. One officer and 78 men, or about 7 per cent of the number who went out, were all who left this country and returned with the regiment to England. This was a fair sample of what happened in other regiments, for he was recently told that the number of men who returned to England in the 3rd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, which was absent for 15 years in India, would not average 7 per cent of the men who went out. As to the sanitary effect of the scheme he proposed, most people believed that young soldiers died off more quickly than older men in tropical climates. But the Army Medical Blue Book of 1870, confirmed as it was by other medical reports, showed that in India soldiers died at the following rates:—Under 20 years, less than 1 per cent; from 20 to 30 years, less than 2 per cent; from 30 to 35 years, 3 per cent; from 35 to 40 years, 4½ per cent; and over the age of 40, 7 per cent. Thus it seemed that the longer men remained in India the more liable they were to disease; that there was no advantage in keeping old soldiers in India; and that the average of health decreased every year, while mortality and invaliding increased. Now, if by the system he proposed—namely, the five years' system—the death-rate could be decreased by 1 per cent, and the invaliding by 2 per cent, they would certainly have done something not unworthy of the House of Commons. He knew there was a difficulty with the right hon. Gentleman opposite—one arising between the War Office and the India Office. That difficulty developed itself in redtapism, with which those establishments were eaten up. He hoped that they would soon see much less redtapism than at present existed in those Departments. He thought he had shown that his system would not cost more than that of the right hon. Gentleman; that the existing system was bad for the esprit de corps, and for the regimental system at home and abroad; that it was a gross injustice to officers and non-commissioned officers; and that on sanitary grounds they ought not to be kept in India one day longer than was necessary for the welfare of the country. He would appeal to those hon. Members below the gangway who came down there night after night for the purpose of abolishing flogging and branding in the Army, and he would ask them whether they would not also do something for those good soldiers who had served their country long and faithfully in the distant clime of India. He would appeal to those who had wives and children, and ask them whether they would like to keep those gallant men one day longer in a tropical climate than was absolutely necessary. He would appeal to the British House of Commons, and pray them to remember what that Army had done for this country, and he believed were prepared, if necessary, to do again for that very country of which they were just talking, to remember what the Army of the present day had done in the case of the Indian Mutiny. He would appeal, in fact, to all men who had the interest of the British soldier at heart, and he believed that that appeal he should not now make in vain. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by moving his Resolution.


rose to second the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend. He divided the subject into three heads —cost, sanitary considerations, and efficiency; the last of which, he maintained, was of the greatest importance. He believed that if he could prove that the sanitary condition of the Army and its efficiency would be improved, that the House would not shrink from a greater cost; but it was his belief that a positive economy might be effected. He had moved for a Return which would show the strength of all regiments in India at the time of their departure for that country, and during every year to the present time; the number invalided year by year, and the draughts sent out to replace them. This Return would show that, in the latter half of the service of regiments in India, by far the greater proportion of invalids were sent home; and that year by year the numbers of invalids increased. The right hon. Gentleman had introduced a system of short enlistment; and he wished to know how that system would work with long service in India. But first, he wanted to know whether short enlistment was a reality or a sham; whether it was such a success in the promise of providing an adequate reserve—not a miserable 30,000 or 40,000 men, but numbers to fill up our battalions to a war strength, and keep them up to that strength in war—as to justify the deterioration in the quality of the soldier, which, with short service in the ranks, was more or less inevitable? If it did promise such success, and it was determined to carry out the system, how would it work with long service of regiments in India? With reliefs every 12 years it might be necessary to renew a great portion of regiments three times in that period. A recruit enlisted at 18, but was not to be sent to India until 20; and, consequently, he had only four years out of his engagement to serve there. His place was filled by another recruit, and again at the end of the eighth year by a third. This, however, applied only to the rank and file. How about the non-commissioned officers and officers? That these latter should be called upon to serve in India for 12 years, while the rank and file were constantly changing, was manifestly wrong. He appealed to the House, not on behalf of the rich officers or of those in high positions, but of the poor men—the class of men that the Secretary of State had often expressed his wish to encourage to join and remain in the service—who could not afford to go to England on six months leave, or even to the Hills; but were compelled to swelter year after year in the plains. He knew of many such instances. The possibility of exchanging was much diminished, for men would not often exchange to India without some money compensation. There was another point to which lie felt bound to allude, however delicate the subject might be. The State was a gainer by the death of every officer—directly as regarded those who had purchased, indirectly as to those who had not bought their commissions—because deaths and invaliding made a flow of promotion, which otherwise would have to be stimulated by money retirements. Although no Government could be influenced by such a motive, it should be doubly careful that it could never be said that the State was careful to preserve the lives of those in whom it had interest—the soldiers—while it was not so careful of those by whose sickness or death it had to gain. But short enlistment was not universal in the Line, and did not exist in the Cavalry and Artillery. Cavalry did not have the benefit of hill stations; and he considered it a great hardship that their service in India had not only not been reduced, but actually increased from 10 to 12 years. Almost all authorities agreed in recommending short service, especially Lord Hardinge—than whom no one had greater experience: Sir Henry Durand, Sir David Wood, Lord Mayo—whose loss they felt day by day—advocated what seemed most feasible—relief by battalions instead of by draughts. That was the plan he (Captain Talbot) recommended—sending out battalions up to a full strength of 1,000 or even 1,200 men, and letting it decrease to, say, two-thirds of that number, and then relieving it by another battalion. He had only heard two objections—that they would have "young regiments" and unequal battalions. Young regiments! What had they now? What was the 65th Regiment, of which the right hon. Gentleman told the House two years ago that two-thirds of the men were under 20 years of age? As to unequal battalions, he maintained that if they were composed of men of under six years' service in India they would keep their average strength, under hardships and exposure, far more than would battalions composed of men of 10 or 12 years in India. That was what was required—not a mere nominal equality of strength, but a strength that could be relied upon when called to take the field. He would say nothing upon the reduction of expense in depôts, and in the very great saving by a reduction of women and children—his hon. and gallant Friend had touched on those points. But lie would say one word as to the expensive mode of conducting reliefs. The Transport Committee recommended the Government to rely "more and more upon the Mercantile Marine;" instead of which they had established a great and expensive system of relief by troop-ship. The cost per head was 19 each way; while by employing ships that carried freight the amount would be reduced by one-half. He admitted the value of having some troop-ships, and the great comfort to the men; but he doubted the expediency, on economical grounds, of conducting the whole system of relief by them. Local allowances might be reduced: he saw no reason why, if a short service only was required, they should be greater than in Ceylon or in other Eastern climates. So much for economical considerations; now for those of life and health. All medical authorities agreed that, as a general rule, the longer men stayed in India the greater was the deterioration in health and strength. The Royal Sanitary Commission of 1859 was not asked to consider the question of short service; but the evidence taken by it was conclusive as to its advisability. It reported that the mean time of service in India was 8.6 years—that 11 recruits were annually required for 100 men. The Report of the Commission of Organisation of the Army in India gave a Return showing that the rate of exhaustion was 10 per cent annually. In evidence before the Transport Committee, Colonel Gordon stated that men were practically changed twice in 10 years. There was testimony to the same effect by Sir David Wood, who advocated regimental reliefs quinquennially, who was satisfied that much of the present sickness and inefficiency in the Army was connected with a defective system of relief. But the annual Army Medical Report of 1870 gave figures that were quite conclusive to his mind. In the 10 years, 1860–69, the admissions to hospital were 1,591 per 1,000; constantly non-effective, 62 per 1,000; deaths, 27 per 1,000; discharged as invalids, 18 per 1,000; total deaths and discharged as invalids, 45 per 1,000. In healthy districts in England among men of soldiers' ages the death-rate was 8 per 1,000—in unhealthy trades and districts, 12 per 1,000. There was a table showing the ratio of deaths to age in India—Under 20 years of age, 8 per 1,000; under 25, 17 per 1,000; under 30, 19 per 1,000; under 35, 30 per 1,000; under 40, 44 per 1,000; under 45, 68 per 1,000. It was admitted that the effect of climate was far greater upon men dispirited and discouraged, which was often the case, who looked forward to years in India with the knowledge that they could not get home except as invalids—engendering a wish, which was often father to the disease, that they might become invalids. Then he arrived at the most important point—the effect upon the efficiency of the Army. This long service in India had a deterrent effect in obtaining recruits —it prevented men reenlisting. It induced all who could get the money to purchase their discharge. It was a cause of much desertion. A few years ago, when a distinguished regiment was under orders for India—a regiment second to none in esprit de corps and in devotion to its colonel—every man approaching the completion of his first engagement, and others, who applied to purchase their discharge, were appealed to by the colonel not to leave the regiment. With hardly an exception they refused; stating that they would have been glad to go out with the regiment for a few years, but the prospect of 10 years—which would complete their total service in the Army—was too much for them. Was that conducive to the efficiency or popularity of the service? It was impossible to deny that a regiment arriving in India with the knowledge that in six years it would be at home again—not as driblets of invalids, but as they went out—a regiment—would be in a far more satisfactory condition than one depressed with the knowledge that one by one—as invalids or time-expired men—they were to come home; and that at the end of the service the regiment would hardly have a man who went out with it. What was the encouragement to officers or non-commissioned officers to keep up the drill, discipline, and appearance to the high standard expected and obtained in England? The appearance and condition of regiments on their return proved this—they required years often to recover from the habits contracted in, and inseparable from, a military life in the tropics. The late Sir James Graham, in one of the last public acts of his life, expressed his opinion before the Transport Committee— That it was a military question of the greatest importance: though, of course, the more frequent the reliefs, relatively may be the expense: but as regards the morale and efficiency of the British Army, I am persuaded that these regimental reliefs must be frequent. Sir David Wood, in evidence before the same Committee, observed a remarkable contrast between draughts and entire battalions. The former invariably arrived at Allahabad—where he was Commandant during and after the Mutiny—disorganised and sickly; and many were soon sent back to the hospitals. On the other hand, battalions arrived, for the most part, in good health and discipline, went to the front, and. their men were not seen again. He admitted the difficulty of arranging a new system of reliefs, which must be done gradually; and he also acknowledged the great benefits and. reforms that had been effected in the condition of the soldier, especially with regard to hill sanitaria; but a great deal remained to be done. Some might say that this was not a question for the House of Commons, but it was so of all others; for, while every consideration pointed to the advisability of shortened service, the authorities were afraid to recommend it on the score of expense. It required pressure from the House of Commons. If the right hon. Gentleman thought the evidence incomplete, let him give a Committee or a Royal Commission. No inquiry had been made for years, and evidence accumulated year by year. While they indulged in the luxury of somewhat romantic philanthropy all over the world, from Fiji to Zanzibar, it did seem somewhat inconsistent that they annually sacrificed perhaps double the number of lives that were necessary. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would give a satisfactory reply to the case made by his hon. and gallant Friend; but, if not, he should not cease to urge this subject upon the attention of the House—not in any spirit of obstinacy, but from a firm conviction that the course of policy he had pointed out was one founded upon principles of humanity and expediency, tending alike to the efficiency of the Army, and to the advantage of the nation.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the term of Service of Regiments in India ought to be shortened," —(Colonel Berttelot,)

—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


It is quite true that I assured the hon. and gallant Member who introduced this subject that he would have an equally good opportunity of bringing it forward on another occasion; but it was not for the convenience of myself, but because thought the whole House would be desirous of proceeding at once to the statement of the Army Estimates and the consideration of the general question. The hon. and gallant Member may rest assured that lie does not differ from Her Majesty's Government in his estimate of this question as far as it is a question of the health, life, and comfort of the soldier. He has stated very justly that that ought to be the governing and principal consideration. The hon. and gallant Member stated, if I understood him correctly, that the mortality at present in India is 31 per cent, and that he proposes a plan by which he will reduce it to 2 per cent. Well, if I can show the hon. and gallant Member by the latest Returns I have received that he is entirely mistaken in his facts—that the mortality has been less than 2½ per cent during the last 10 years, and that during the last year of which I have any record it has been less than 2 per cent—less than the amount to which he proposes to reduce it—then I hope he will not be disinclined to admit that his sheet-anchor has failed him, and that the great argument—one I shall certainly never dispute—from the mortality of the troops has entirely failed him. Sir, I hold in my hand a Return, which was signed by the Director General of the Army Medical Department on Saturday. It is headed— "Table showing the sickness, mortality, and invaliding per 1,000 of mean strength of the European troops serving in India during the ten years, 1862–71"—a period later than the statistics to which the hon. and gallant Member referred. The year 1872 was an exceptional year, when the high ratio of deaths compared with that of 1871 was the result of epidemic cholera in Bengal, which in the ten months, January to October, caused 529 out of 860 deaths reported. But the table I hold in my hand says that there died, per 1,000 of mean strength, upon the average of 10 years—1862–1871–24.44, which the House will perceive is less than 2½ per cent, and in last year—for the tendency is rather to improve—in 1871, the ratio was 18.73—that is less than 2 per cent, the amount to which the hon. and gallant Member proposes to reduce it. I have not yet the Returns for 1872. I have said that I believe if I had they would be disturbed by an epidemic; but I quote the last Returns in my possession. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who seconded the Motion (Captain Talbot) discussed a little the Purchase question, and also the question of the Army Reserves. I hope he will not consider it discourteous on my part if I now decline to follow him, being anxious that the House should go with as little delay as possible into Committee on the Estimates, when I shall have an opportunity of answering the question the hon. and gallant Member has put as to the Reserves. The hon. and gallant Member who introduced the Motion put the case of the 38th Regiment, which, he said, had been 14 years in India. [Colonel BARTTELOT: More than 14 years.] Well, then, in fixing 12 as the future period for the residuum of the head quarters in India, I am introducing no innovation. The hon. and gallant Member referred to statistics of the sickness and mortality of the Army in India, and he dwelt upon what he called the excessive expense of the troopships. Now, it was evident that if a large proportion of the men were sent home, a smaller proportion would remain in India with the head quarters. What had been actually the case in this respect? The Director General says— The table shows a marked increase in the proportions of men sent home as invalids from India during the last eight years compared with the previous periods, but unaccompanied by any increase in the proportion discharged the service, after their arrival in England. The increase has arisen from the greater facilities afforded for sending men home by the troopships, and the result of it has been the saving of many men to the service who would otherwise have probably died. The proportion sent home has been one-third more than formerly. The proportion finally discharged has been rather under that of previous periods if 1870 be omitted, when it was increased by the results of the epidemic fever in the 21st Regiment at Kurrachee. The improvement in the health of the Army may be estimated from the following comparison of the sickness and mortality of the European troops (exclusive of those in the service of the Honourable East India Company) from 1838 to 1856 inclusive, with that of the period 1862–71. From 1838 to 1856, the ratio per 1,000 of mean strength admitted into hospital was 1,991, while there died, exclusive of those killed in action, 66.90. From 1862 to 1871 the ratio per 1,000 was 151.24, and the death-rate, exclusive of those killed in action, was 24.44. It is not true, then, that by any arrangement we have made we have increased the mortality in the Army. The truth is all the arrangements have tended exactly in the opposite direction. What have those arrangements been? In the first place, we have introduced short service; and, in the second place, we have introduced the system of linking battalions together, in order that some might serve in India and some at home. I shall, when the House is in Committee, have the opportunity of explaining the system under which officers appointed in future would be enabled to exchange without losing their places on the rota. There is no sort of difficulty in finding officers to go to India, for the service is a popular one. The effect will be this—An officer is no longer obliged to leave the service if unfit to serve in India; but he returns home, takes his place in the sister battalion for which he might very well be competent; while another takes his place in India to whom service there is agreeable. By this self-acting process the climate suits itself to the constitution of the individual. In addition to this reduction in the sickness and mortality, there has been a great reduction in the proportion constantly non-effective from sickness. This was shown in the Report of the Royal Commission on the sanitary state of the Army in India to have been 84 per 1,000 of the strength prior to 1860, while in 1870 it was only 58 per 1,000. The House must not be led away by the notion that this is a question of long or short service in India. It is a question, not of length of service of men, but simply of the head quarters of the regiment. I put it to the House whether I have left the hon. and gallant Gentleman's statistics standing, or have overthrown them? If I have overthrown them as regards health, how can he expect me to go through those statistics of finance which he read from the same pamphlet? I do not know who was the author of the pamphlet, and I decline to accept those statements at demand. These are questions of Indian finance, which do not fall under my administration. All I can say is, if the hon. and. gallant Gentleman will convince either the India Office or the Committee of this House which is about to discuss Indian military expenditure that his statistics are accurate, they will be very happy to accept and act upon them. As far as the Government is concerned, we have arranged with the India Office that the head quarters of a regiment shall remain in India 12 years; that the men who have enlisted for a short service will never, unless they choose, serve more than six years, and that the officers will have an opportunity of exchanging, and no difficulty in so doing. The non-commissioned officers and men will have the opportunity of volunteering for another term of service. I submit that I have answered the hon. and gallant Gentleman as far as health is concerned; and I venture to differ altogether from his statements on finance, which, however, he will have an opportunity of substantiating. I have shown that, instead of lengthening the continuance even of the head quarters of regiments, we have reduced and made certain that which was uncertain. I have in my hand statements showing that regiments have remained upwards of 17 years. We have reduced it to a fixed system, by which the head quarters will be regularly relieved at the end of 12 years, and by which neither officers nor men will be compelled to continue for any period injurious to their health and strength.


said, the Secretary of State for War had wished to put aside the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend in order that the House should have an opportunity of hearing the official statement with regard to the Army Estimates; but surely the life and health of the officers and men who served in India were matters of equal, if not of more importance than the statement referred to. Now, he had himself served in India, and had seen some officers and men sicken and die, while others who could afford to pay for exchanges were able to return home. It was absurd to say that exchanges could still be made as heretofore. Neither the Controller General nor himself would ever have gone to a bad climate if they could have helped it. It was unjust to send to India for 12 years officers who had paid for their commissions. It was true that under the old system a regiment sometimes in the interests of the country remained 15 or 20 years; but this did not rebut the general rule that infantry regiments stayed 10 and cavalry 12 years. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman, who had unintentionally made the officers suffer sufficiently in other ways by his arrangements, would reconsider the question before he practically lengthened the term of service in India.


maintained that the right hon. Gentleman had failed to show the compatibility of short enlistment, and an Army of Reserve with long service abroad. He was anxious for a strong Reserve; but a third of the Army would be in India, and on the long-service system he would lose a third of his Reserves. He was always adverse to the short-service system, because he did not believe that a sufficient number of men could be obtained in order to efficiently carry it out. The Police Gazette would lead to the inference that, though recruits were obtained, they could not keep the men, in consequence of desertions being so numerous. They were told that recruits not only came in, but that they found their depôts without the escort of the sergeant; but, in reality, they had not done so. Men would not devote the best years of their life to the Army unless with a retiring allowance to look forward to, and it was this which under the old system induced men to serve 20 years in India.


questioned the advantage of keeping head quarters stationary, which were numerically small, and of letting the bulk of the men move. Unless the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War could show that the mortality and sickness of the troops could not be reduced, his hon. and gallant Friend's (Colonel Barttelot's) statistics would practically pass uncontradicted. He was at a loss to understand how, with the short service of the men, they could carry out with advantage the long-service period of the regiment. He did not see how with affiliated battalions the system could work otherwise than awkward; because if both were abroad, the system adopted for keeping up the strength must be broken through. His hon. and gallant Friend deserved great credit for bringing the subject forward.


said, he wished to keep distinct the question of the officers and that of the men. With the latter Indian service had always been exceedingly popular. The Royal Commission of 1859 distinctly reported that the Artillery and Indian services were very popular, and the Commission of 1866, of which he was a Member, also reported that recruits for India could always be obtained. While during the Crimean War the force for that service could never be raised above two-thirds of the establishment, yet during the Indian Mutiny men flocked to the regiments, raising the force in a very short time to the full complement. The House should remember that no regiment is ever ordered home from India without the men being called upon to volunteer to remain behind, and it was notorious that from one-third to one-half of the soldiers invariably offered to do so. The service, in fact, was popular, because nowhere were private soldiers better cared for than they were in India. Among other things, they had splendid barracks, which had been built at an expense of not less than from £250 to £400 per head. It was but just to acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, having reduced the number of companies in India from 520 to 400, and the number of troops of cavalry from 77 to 54, thus enabling nearly 500 officers to come home, had done essential service to both officers and soldiers, as well as to the finances.


said, as this was a most important question, affecting the welfare and efficiency of the British Army, he could not be surprised that his hon. and gallant Friend should have felt a desire to bring it before the House in a separate and distinct form, rather than have it mixed up with the general statement about to be made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. The subject was so mixed up with the question of short service, and, above all, with the new question of linked battalions—as to which he looked forward with interest to the statements about to be made by the right hon. Gentleman—that he hoped his hon. and gallant Friend would not think it necessary to divide the House on his Motion. However desirous they all were of hearing the statement of the Minister for War, he could not but think that his hon. and gallant Friend deserved credit for bringing the subject involved in his Motion under the consideration of the House.


after the appeal from his right hon. Friend, said, he would consent to withdraw his Motion; but on the understanding that he would bring the question on again should the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War not be satisfactory as to the linked battalions, and other matters.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

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