HC Deb 24 February 1873 vol 214 cc855-84

(In the Committee.)


Sir, the gracious Speech from the Throne has already informed the Committee that the Estimates which, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, it is now my duty to submit to you have been Framed with a view to the efficiency and moderation of our establishments, under circumstances of inconvenience entailed by variations of an exceptional nature in the prices of some important commodities. I hope I shall be able to show you that these Estimates have been prepared in such a manner as to secure that efficiency and moderation, and I am sure I shall show you that we have incurred considerable difficulty owing to abnormal fluctuations in the prices of important stores. Sir, the total amount of the present Estimate is £14,416,400. The saving upon the Estimates of last year is £408,100 to be added to the saving on those of the previous year of £1,027,000. But, Sir, in making this comparative statement of expenditure, I wish to prefer a claim to be allowed to add, in reference to the saving I have already mentioned, this consideration—namely, that my right hon. and gallant Friend who sits beside me (Sir Henry Storks) has been compelled to include in the Estimates which have been prepared under his immediate control a sum of no less than £400,000 on account of the fluctuations in the prices of fuel, provisions, and clothing, and various other articles for which he has undertaken to provide. That does not include the additional cost which may fairly be charged upon the Vote for Works and Buildings. That is not quite so easy to estimate; but the estimate given to me is £50,000. The Committee will observe, therefore, that the amount which might have been saved if prices had remained in their normal condition —had we had to deal with them under the circumstances which existed two years ago—would have been double that which is stated on the face of the Estimates. These, however, may be but occasional charges, and future years may bring us back to the ordinary state of prices. But in the course of what I shall have to lay before you, it will be my duty to propose a sum of £55,000, which will be in the nature of an advantage to the soldier in the arrangement of his pay, and that, if you provide it, will be a permanent charge. My right hon. Friend at the head of the Government stated the other evening that he believed the saving in the Estimates for the two great services—the Navy and the Army—would amount to £500,000 sterling. My right hon. Friend was within the mark. I do not know, of course, what the effect upon the Navy may have been; but I have shown you a sum equal to that stated by my right hon. Friend in this Estimate alone which it is my duty to introduce to the Committee. If you admit that the claim I have made is just, and if, in making a comparison with former years, you permit me to add those sums to the other savings I have mentioned, then we ought to have credit for retrenchment to the amount of £1,940,000 in the two years, or, in round numbers, of £2,000,000. I hope, Sir, that will satisfy those who are most desirous of retrenchment of expenditure, that those Estimates have not been prepared without a careful regard for that important object.

I now wish to make a comparison with a year which I believe was the lowest in point of expenditure of any year since the Crimean War—namely, the first year in which I had the honour of holding my present office. I have before me a statement of what turned out to be the ultimate net expenditure of that year, and it was a peculiar one; because, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kincardine (Sir George Balfour) knows, there were many and important questions before us at that period which could not be settled owing to the anomalous state of invention at that time in respect of the armaments on which our Army depends. The total net expenditure was £11, 972,100—omitting, of course, arrears of Abyssinian expenditure—and the net expenditure in the Estimates I have now to lay before you is £13,231,400, leaving, in round numbers, a difference of £1,250,000. I have already accounted for £500,000 by the rise in the scale of prices, which it was impossible to foresee or avoid; and with regard to the £750,000, that amount has been more than absorbed in those additions which have been made to the more highly trained and costly services—the Artillery, Cavalry, and Engineers, and to the Militia—which I think I may say the whole House and the whole country insisted should be placed in a condition of adequate efficiency. Such is a comparison of the Estimates I now lay before the Committee with those of that year, which I believe was the lowest in point of expenditure of any which has occurred since the Crimean War. But you must bear in mind that to compare an Estimate with the actual amount expended is a very disadvantageous comparison; for in every year which has happened since I have had the honour of being in office the actual expenditure has fallen considerably short of the Estimate which was laid on the Table.

Now, Sir, an hon. Friend of mine (Mr. W. Fowler) has given Notice of a Motion to reduce the number of men proposed by Her Majesty's Government by 10,000. I am glad to see my hon. Friend in his place, as I very much doubt whether he clearly understands what that reduction would actually mean. In consequence of the new arrangement with respect to the brigades at home, it has been necessary to state upon the first page of the Estimates, as belonging to the Army, 3,964 officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, to be added as the brigade depots are completed. I do not know whether my hon. Friend has seen a note which occurs at the end of the next page, and which says that as those officers and non-commissioned officers—of which latter there were to be 3,170—were gradually added, a reduction would be effected in the permanent Staff of the Militia and Auxiliary Forces more than sufficient to compensate for the increase. I understand my hon. Friend to-night intends to move the reduction of our forces on account of the 20,000 men added to our Army on the outbreak of the German War. Now, I will proceed to state to my hon. Friend how that matter stands. If my hon. Friend will refer to the Estimates of last year as well as to these he will find that since the addition of those 20,000 men was made the British establishment proper has been reduced by 8,989 men, the colonial establishment by 1,102, and that two Madras regiments which were at that time voted upon our Estimates and were employed in China, Japan, and the Straits Settlements, numbering 1,760 men, have since been returned to India. Therefore, out of the addition of 20,000 men there remain now but 8,179, and that number is more than accounted for by the addition which the House and the country thought proper to make to the Artillery, the Engineers, the Cavalry, the Army Service Corps, and the Army Hospital Corps. In making re-arrangements of the service the principle has been to retain all those forces which require long preparation, and for which Reserves are not prepared, and to reduce those which need less preparation, and for which Reserves are actually prepared. Accordingly the Guards, which on the outbreak of the German War were raised to 850 rank and file, we have now reduced to 750, the number at which they stood before. The 70 infantry battalions at home have been reduced to 520 rank and file, with the exception of the 10 first ordered for foreign service. Those in the colonies or garrisons abroad are reduced to 600, except in China, the Straits Settlements, Ceylon, the Cape, and the West Indies, which remain at 820 rank and file. Such are the arrangements with regard to the Army at home and abroad.

Now, I have been asked this evening about the state of our Reserves, and upon this subject there appears to be some confusion. Some people seem to suppose that the reserve of men enlisted for short service is already in existence; but short service was only introduced in 1870, and it was for six years. Consequently, that system will not begin to come into operation by adding men to the Reserve till 1876. Having, however, said that, let me say that the Army Reserve, which was very small four years ago, has been raised in the meantime by various other methods to 7,393 men, while the Militia Reserves at the last training amounted to 31,522 men, making a total of men liable to service at home or abroad of 38,915. I mention this to show that if we have reduced our battalions it cannot be charged against us that we have not adequate Reserves should emergencies arise. In addition to these we have 23,804 second-class Reserve men and pensioners, and all these three classes are independent of the provision which we have made for the continuous outflow of men from the ranks to the Reserve in future years. Of men in the latter class we have over 18,000 in the battalions. Considering, therefore, that the strength not of our rank and file, but of our regular establishment of all arms and ranks, is only 125,000—considering the manifold duties we have to perform and the obligations we are under to our colonies, I think I may confidently appeal to my hon. Friend not to press the Amendment of which he has given Notice. That being the number of our Regular forces, the Estimates provide besides for 129,000 Militia, 13,000 Yeomanry, 160,750 Volunteers, 10,000 Army Reserve, 25,000 Second Army Reserve, making a total of 462,750, of whom there are at home, in the regimental establishments available for service, 436,838. Now, what are the means of obtaining the men whom we are to train for these forces? [Cheers.] Those cheers of suspicion and distrust I shall at once proceed to meet to the best of my ability. A great deal has been said upon the subjects of recruiting and desertion. I will simply and plainly lay before the Committee the actual state of the case. The question of a Reserve must always depend upon the strength of the establishment maintained, and the rapidity with which you pass your men through the various services into the Reserve. It is very desirable we should first know the number of recruits it is in our power to obtain, because if we exceed that number it follows that we shall be disappointed in the practical result of our calculations. Now, 23,000 recruits a year will maintain our establishment at the strength presented in our Estimates, and at the same time give us the Reserves we require, if passed in proper proportion through terms of long and short service. The actual state of things is this:—In 1870 we obtained rather more than 23,000 recruits. In the following year we had 23,165, and in 1872 the number fell to 17,371, and the suspicion and distrust were certainly in some degree justified, because that was 1,408 below the casualties of the year. Different people will judge of that differently. Those who hear me all know what was the disturbance of the labour market in the year just expired, and if they supposed that it would have no effect on the recruiting market they were more sanguine than the circumstances justified. The actual result was that during certain months of the year recruiting was very much interfered with, but that towards the closing months exactly the opposite was the case. These things depend on great economical considerations which affect the labour market. During the three last months in 1872 there were 5,146 recruits, as against 4,543 in the previous year, when recruiting was brisk; and in the last month, January, we obtained 2,004 recruits, being the largest number obtained since March, 1871. So that, although there are some discouraging circumstances, yet the experience of the later months of the year led to more gratifying conclusions. In the present month of February we did not press forward recruiting, because our establishments were 4,235 in excess of the number we now ask you to provide for in the Estimates, and there is, you see, no difficulty at present in keeping up our strength. Well, you will ask what is the quality—the physique—of your troops? [Colonel NORTH: Hear, hear!] My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxfordshire is one of those who think that this quality is not good. [Colonel NORTH: Hear, hear!] I should have thought that after what has passed during the last two years he would have changed his opinion on that subject. I have laid on the Table—and it will be in the hands of Members, I hope, to-morrow—the Report of the Inspector General of the Recruiting Department. You will find in that Report that the number of recruits who failed on trial last year was less than 14 per 1,000, which, in his opinion, is remarkably small, and shows that great attention is paid to the medical examination of recruits. You will also find that the commanding officers in almost all cases approved the recruits sent to them. The principal medical officers, after the usual monthly examinations, generally expressed the same opinion, and reported favourably; and if those recruits are to be tested by the appearance they presented in the Military Manoeuvres of last autumn, a person must be fastidious indeed who was not satisfied with every branch of the British Army on that occasion. But then it is said that many of the recruits deserted before they joined their regiments. If hon. Members read this Report they will find that whereas the Royal Commission of 1860 stated that in 1859 5,000 recruits deserted before joining their regiments, the number in 1872 was less than 800. It is very much to be regretted that there should be 800 desertions, but that is a considerable improvement over 1859. When it is also recollected that recruits are no longer sent by escort to their regiments, that a railway ticket is given to them, and that they are left to find their own way unattended to their regiments, the Committee will, I think, be of opinion that there has been no such great deterioration since the year 1859. But then everyone is very much alarmed at the dismal accounts given of recent desertions. Far be it from me to extenuate the evil, or to represent that it is not discreditable. There has been, no doubt, a considerable percentage of desertions; but there is no reason for exaggerating the amount. Whether there are fewer desertions in our Army than in the Army of any other country, looking to our institutions and the freedom we enjoy, is a matter on which I shall give no opinion. You must judge for yourselves; but I will state what I believe to be an accurate account of recent desertions. I have seen it stated that the number of desertions has been greater than on any former occasion, and that the proportion of deserters to recruits has been greatly on the increase. The number is certainly to be regretted. In 1872 the desertions were 5,861; but the number who rejoined was 1,855, leaving a balance of 4,006. That is a large number it is true, but far short of the alleged number of 8,000. Neither is the mode of stating the number of desertions by the proportion of recruits anything but the most fallacious of rules. I believe the real truth to be that when a great excitement breaks out there is a great disposition to enlist, and that when the excitement subsides, not only is there no disposition to enlist, but there is a disposition to desert. Whenever there is a sudden and great increase in the Army by enlistment, there will be after an interval a corresponding amount of desertions. In the last months of 1870 and in the earliest months of 1871 there were raised in eight months about 30,000 recruits. The consequence has been that in 1871 the desertions were chiefly, and in the greatest proportion, among the soldiers under one year's service. In 1872 the greatest proportion were under two years' service. The conclusion I venture to lay down is that the greater number of desertions take place in the regiments having the largest number of recruits and within a short time after any great and abnormal enlistment. In almost all cases those regiments which had the greatest number of enlistments had also the greatest number of desertions. If you look to the last occasions, when there were sudden and great increases in the Army—namely, the periods of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny—it will be found that at first there was a great number of enlistments, and that at a later period there was a great number of desertions. According to the rule I have seen laid down, in 1859 the desertions were 22 per cent to the recruit; in 1860, 19 per cent; in 1861, 41 per cent; and in 1862 exactly the same as in 1872—namely, 32 per cent. What I say is, that this rule of proportion is a misleading guide, and the true rule is that when you have an extraordinary addition to the Army, if zeal begins to cool, and if it falls out that there is at the same time an extraordinary demand for labour at high wages, there will be a great proportion of desertions, and more particularly in regiments which are quartered in districts whore labour is especially in demand and wages are extraordinarily high.

I will now explain what has been done in regard to the Militia. The whole number of Militia taken is 129,000 men. That is 10,000 short of the full number that it is proposed ultimately to raise. Considering that the Irish Militia has been allowed to fall so very far short of its number when it was not called out, and considering the great demand for labour in England, we may congratulate ourselves that in 1872 30,154 recruits were enrolled in the Militia, and that no less than 4,392 men were furnished to the Army and Marines by the Militia. We have resorted, as the Committee are aware, to a much longer training of recruits for the Militia. The Inspector General assures me in his Reports that they show a very decided improvement. The Committee are also aware that three years ago we introduced the practice of encouraging Militia officers to join the Regular forces and go to Military Schools for the purpose of improving their drill. The Inspector General tells me that the number of officers who have done so is now 630, of whom he says 432 went to these schools in the year 1872. He also informs me the result is that the officers show an increased interest in their duties; that increased confidence is felt by the officers themselves, and inspired by them in those whom they command, and that several officers who were reported incompetent have been requested to send in their resignations. We have done our best to carry into effect the policy which the Committee has always approved, and for which brigade depots are to be instituted, and have done away, as far as was in our power, with the practice of billeting. Indeed, of the whole Militia force in the United Kingdom only 19,251 have been billeted during the year. A great stimulus has been given to Militia officers by offering them commissions in the Army, the result being that whereas on the 1st of January, 1871, there were only 849 subalterns in the Militia, the number rose to 1,303 on the 1st of January, 1873. Perhaps the Committee will here permit me to refer to the appearance of the Militia at the Autumn Manœuvres at Salisbury. So much was said to me—and with so much warmth—by distinguished foreign officers about the appearance of the Militia on that occasion, that I think I should be wanting in my duty if I attributed it merely to courtesy or politeness, or if I failed to convey their opinion to the House. I have laid upon the Table the Report of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, in which you will find these words— The regiments of Militia that were out at these Manœuvres were composed of very fine bodies of men. They were county regiments from the three portions of the United Kingdom, and they looked well, and performed their duty admirably as far as it could be expected from the shortness of their training. At the same time, there is much required to perfect the Militia; but this, as many other improvements, can only be acquired after time and experience, which is now being gained annually. I need not say much about the Yeomanry, because the improvement which has been effected in that force since the Regulations of 1870 were issued, has, I believe, been already admitted by the Committee. What I have to say of them now is that under the new arrangement they will be placed under the command of lieutenant-colonels of the regular cavalry force, and from that arrangement, coupled with the increasing disposition of the force to act as mounted rifles and practice the now mode of mounted warfare, the Inspector General expects the greatest benefit. At the Military Manœuvres we called out 204 of the Army Reserve. We have not considered it necessary as yet —nor, indeed, have we very well been able—to train the Army Reserve in a regular manner, because local arrangements are required before that can be done. But a small body of the Army Reserve were called out to attend the Military Manœuvres, and their behaviour is thus spoken of by the Commander-in-Chief in the Report which I have laid upon the Table of the House— A small proportion of Army Reserve men were called upon to volunteer to supplement some of the regiments on a low establishment. Nothing could exceed the soldierlike bearing and good conduct of these men. On future occasions I should like to see a larger number, if possible, brought into the field. It is valuable to keep up the efficiency of the men by a short continuous course of training, and it is of great advantage to increase the weaker battalions by so acceptable an addition of trained soldiers. In the course of time it is to be hoped that a large number of Army Reserve men may be induced annually to join for the period of the Manœuvres. Now I come to the Volunteers, and I do not know whether the statistics I shall read about them will be deemed encouraging or not; but the facts are these:—Iii the year just expired there was a reduction in the enrolled Volunteers of 14,434; in the efficient Volunteers of 11,989; and in the extra efficients of 4,242, as compared with the previous year 1871. The proportion of non-efficients to the general force was 30 per cent in 1863; 10 per cent in 1871; and only 9 per cent in 1872. The proportion of non-extra-efficients was 65 per cent in 1863; 24 per cent in 1871; and in 1872 it was only 21 per cent. As the Committee is aware, the certificate of the proficiency of officers did not exist in 1863—it was instituted in 1870, and in 1871 no fewer than 10,638 officers and non-commissioned officers in the Volunteer force had obtained certificates of proficiency, and had earned increased capitation grants for their respective corps. In 1872 the number had increased to 11,580. I think the Committee will agree with me that the falling off in the number of the Volunteers is more than compensated by these proofs of efficiency. The inspections have been carefully conducted, and I am informed that both officers and men have been fairly tested, and that much the larger proportion of them are in a satisfactory state. When it has been otherwise, defects have been pointed out, and some officers have been called upon to resign. The Camps of Instruction were new in 1870, and the number trained at them in that year was 10,492. In 1871 the number had increased to 12,936, and in 1872 it had again risen to 16,300. Of the Volunteers, 3,400 were out at the Autumn Manœuvres, and of these 1,800 were there for the whole of the 12 days; and I may say, without fear of contradiction, that their conduct and appearance attracted the commendation of every soldier who witnessed them. The Camp of Artillery Volunteers at Shoeburyness has elicited the most favourable notice, and as a Report on the subject has lately been laid on the Table, I need not further refer to it. I wish to say, in passing away from the subject of the Volunteers, that the new and stricter rules which the Committee supported the Government in prescribing last year, have been favourably accepted by that body. No doubt the Volunteers have diminished in number; but they have improved in efficiency. In applying the new rules to the Volunteers, we have done for that force what the vine-dresser does for the vine— Inutilesque falce ramos amputans Feliciores inserit. I believe that by increasing the efficiency of the regulations you are laying the foundation for an ultimate increase in the number of the Volunteers; because I do not think it an attribute of the English character that it will go through all the privation and trouble which that gallant body has done for so many years, to their own honour and the advantage of the country, without wishing to approximate gradually to the efficiency of the Regular Army.

I trust the Committee will bear with me while I state what will be the result of that scheme of localization which met with your favour in the last Session of Parliament. In the first place, let us bear in mind the principle on which that scheme was founded. It was founded on the principle that, in the words of Mr. Pitt, in 1803— The Army must be the rallying point. The Army must furnish example, must afford instruction, must give us the principles on which that national system of defence must be formed, and by which the Volunteer forces of this country, though in a military view inferior to a regular army, would, fighting on their own soil for everything dear to individuals and important to a State, be invincible. The Act was passed on the 10th of August, 1872, and I have now laid on the Table the final Report of General MacDougall's Committee containing the whole of the scheme, complete in its general arrangements founded on the county organization. In England, there will be 50 infantry districts, in Scotland 8, and in Ireland 8, making 66 altogether. Of artillery districts, there will be eight in England, two in Scotland, and two in Ireland. In Great Britain—for there are no Yeomanry or mounted Volunteers in Ireland—there will be two cavalry districts. The composition of the brigade of an infantry sub-district will be, as a rule, two Line battalions, two Militia battalions, a brigade depôt, the Rifle Volunteer Corps, and the infantry of the Army Reserve. Of the two Line battalions, one will usually be abroad; the other at some one of the home stations. In the eight Irish sub-districts three or more Militia battalions will be associated with the two Line battalions of any sub-district, according to the number of counties composing the same. The composition of an Artillery sub-district will be—the Royal Artillery brigades and batteries therein stationed, and, under the Artillery colonel, Artillery Militia regiments, Artillery Volunteer Corps, and Artillerymen of the Army Reserve. The composition of a Cavalry district will be—the Cavalry regiments therein stationed, and, under the Cavalry Colonel, Yeomanry Cavalry, Light Horse Volunteers, Mounted Rifle Volunteers, and Cavalry Army Reserve men. Thus, the general officers commands would comprise several sub-districts, and the supreme authority of the Commander-in-Chief would be distributed through the general officers commanding to the officers in command of the several sub-districts.

I now approach a subject which has always been a difficulty in these arrangements, and which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Lancashire (Captain Stanley) has always taken a particular interest in—namely, the precise position of the linked battalions. Where there are two battalions in one regiment the arrangements will be comparatively simple. But in regard to the case where two separate battalions are to be linked together for the purposes of this arrangement, it has been the object of the highest military authorities, of the Commander-in-Chief, and those by whom he is surrounded, to assist us in accomplishing the closest union without interfering with the traditions and esprit de corps, about which we heard so much in the early part of the evening, and which I beg to say, although I am only a civilian, I have a sufficient knowledge of the world, I hope, to appreciate, and would be the last to do anything to injure. The recommendation on this subject is as follows:— The battalions which shall be linked together to form the Line portion of an Administrative Brigade under the new organization shall, so far as regards the Sub-Lieutenants appointed, and the soldiers enlisted, after the date of the order so linking such battalions, constitute one corps for all military purposes, including promotion. And from the date of such order all appointments of Sub-Lieutenants to Line battalions, and all enlistments for Line service, shall be for the brigade of which two or more Line battalions form a component part, instead of being, as heretofore, for particular regiments. And the Sub-Lieutenants who may be appointed to, and the soldiers who may be enlisted for, the Line portion of any such brigade shall, for reliefs, for all duties at home and abroad, and for every military purpose whatsoever, and in whatever ranks they may thereafter respectively hold, be interchangeable between the several battalions of their brigade, and shall be liable to serve in either of the Line battalions thereof, or, during war or times of emergency, in either of the Militia battalions thereof, indifferently, without regard to the particular battalion to which they may have been first posted. That, I think, draws very closely together the linked battalions, and will give great facilities to those officers who wish to go to or come home from India without breaking their connection with their corps, or going to the bottom of the list. As I have been asked the question, I may say, without trespassing further than I ought, that the duties of a sub-district will comprise the following services:—The colonel will have charge of the training of recruits both for the Line and the Infantry Militia; training of Infantry Militia; training of Rifle Volunteer Corps; registry, payment, and training of Army Reserve and enrolled Pensioners; inspections; recruiting; care of arms and stores, and military instruction of officers of the Auxiliary forces. The Artillery colonel will have charge of the training of Artillery Militia recruits; training of Artillery Militia regiments; training of Artillery Volunteers; training of Artillery, Army Reserve men, and enrolled Pensioners, when ordered out; inspections; recruiting, and instruction of Militia and Volunteer officers. In like manner the cavalry colonel will be responsible for the training of Yeomanry recruits; training of Yeomanry regiments; training of Light Horse and Mounted Rifle Volunteers; training of Cavalry, Army Reserve men, and enrolled Pensioners, when ordered out; inspections; cavalry instruction, and recruiting. I have seen it said that there is no visible sign of that organization of the Army which was aimed at by the late Act. It was passed on the last day of last Session; organizations of this kind do not grow in a day, and sometimes the more haste that is made the less satisfactory is the result. I think when I tell you that the very next Army List, which will appear in March, will contain all the arrangements for the organization of the British Army, you will agree with me that those who have been engaged in making those preparations have not been slothful or inactive during the period which has elapsed since the Act was passed. It has been a work of great labour, for great consideration had to be given to questions of personnel—on account of local connection and the desirableness of disturbing the roster as little as possible—and to questions of place, which involved local inquiry. We had to consider the convenience of the service and of localities, the prices of land, and the salubrity of situations. All the localities, so far as the Committee are concerned, have been determined upon in the Report, which has been laid upon the Table. All the regulations for the Infantry, the Artillery, and the Cavalry have been drawn up, and are ready to be issued. In 18 places buildings are ready, and almost immediately arrangements will be made for using them; in other places buildings have to be erected. In the meantime the colonel commanding a brigade sub-district will be invested with the command of all the Infantry of the Auxiliary and Reserve forces thereof. He will direct as he may think fit the employment of the officers and non-commissioned officers of the depot, as well as of the officers and noncommissioned officers who may be appointed as Adjutants and Sergeants of the Militia battalions of the brigade; or as adjutants and sergeant-instructors of Volunteers of the brigade sub-district. In directing the employment of this Staff upon duties not immediately connected with the training and instruction of the Militia and Volunteers, he will be careful to place under the immediate orders of the officers commanding Militia and Volunteer battalions such Staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the duties connected with those corps during the periods they are not under training or instruction. The object will be to enable the adjutants to proceed with that instruction which they are so well qualified to give, while in every respect they treat with due consideration all the commanding officers of the various corps. An hon. and gallant Member (Captain Talbot) asked me a Question on the subject of a Reserve for the Cavalry and Artillery, to which I promised to give an answer now. He will have gathered from the statements I have made that we have not introduced as yet any new system of enlistment for those services, and the reason is, not that the subject has been forgotten, but that a year in which the labour-market was most abnormally disturbed, and a year in which we were in a transition state, passing from an old system to a new one, was not, in our opinion, a year in which it would be prudent to introduce changes that we could avoid. Recruiting has hitherto been carried on upon a general system under local Staff officers. We are proposing to establish a new, and, we hope, a more efficient, system of recruiting; but it would have been a fatal mistake to displace the old machinery before we had erected the new, and we thought it highly inexpedient, therefore, to initiate any change at present in the terms of enlistment; but when we have passed under the new system we shall propose to adapt short service to the exigencies of the Reserve for the Cavalry and Artillery as well as of the service generally. With regard to buildings, there was appointed a Committee consisting of the Inspector General of Fortifications, the Quartermaster General, General M'Dougall, the Director General of the Army Medical Department, Dr. Sutherland, and Colonel Ewart. The result has been that arrangements are in progress for purchases, or inquiries are being made' in all the places where it is proposed to establish brigade depôts; and arrangements are being made for a training-ground at Wormwood Scrubs, available for Regulars and Volunteers; for tactical exercise grounds at Lichfield and Lanark; for a great tactical station in Yorkshire; and for store depôts. Thus a scheme is already in operation—or it will be by the 1st of April—by which, when it is completely established, every colonel will be able, on receiving orders, to assemble, with all their personal equipment, all the forces under his command; and every general officer will be able, on receiving orders from head-quarters, to assemble not only with their personal equipment, but with their camp equipment, all the forces under the general officer's command, and that without having recourse to head-quarters in London. I have seen comments on the supposed desire of the War Office for close centralization; but I can assure the Committee that the feeling there is quite the opposite. We have quite enough legitimate labour without being so foolish as to wish to concentrate in the War Office, business which can be more efficiently transacted by others. One other thing, and that by no means the least important, remains to be mentioned. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Buckingham (Sir Harry Verney) asked last Session whether we proposed to have a "Chief of the Staff." The answer I gave, at the request of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, was that he considered the duties of such an officer belonged to himself, by virtue of the office he held. In Germany, as is well known, the Sovereign takes the field in person, and the officer who is principally responsible for the preparations is known as the "Chief of the Staff." In England the case is otherwise, and the Commander-in-Chief regards those duties as belonging to himself. They are very important, and such as General Moltke has become illustrious by having performed for Germany. They require what has never been provided in this country—a special organization. They involve an accurate knowledge of the preparations of other countries and of our own, and the possible application of those preparations to every circumstance that may arise. It is known in Germany as a special branch of military science, and is called, I believe, Logisticks; but it means, not any interference with generalship, but the careful preparation of those measures which may enable generals to act best according to the exigencies of the case, and so as to prevent those mistakes which at the outset of any operations are so fatal and so difficult to retrieve. It involves the question of stores, of railway communication, of telegraphs, of local resources of every kind, including transport; and in this country it would involve matters connected with the Navy in so far as naval measures might bear upon military operations. And all this not only in a general sense, but in its detailed application to ever-varying circumstances. This is what has been carried out in Germany, and on a smaller scale with success in Canada, where, the colony having been constantly threatened with Fenian invasion, every preparation was made to meet it; all the supplies and all the transport being in readiness. Thus the Canadian Militia were saved the inconvenience and cost of being kept perpetually under arms, and could be summoned by telegraph in a few hours when their services were really required. Now, we certainly have in this country a Topographical Department consisting of scientific officers, under that most excellent officer, Captain Wilson. We have in our system—as my right hon. Friend who preceded me in office knows—various statistical branches in various parts of the Administration; but nothing like a connected Intelligence Department has ever existed in this country. It has appeared to us that it is quite possible to create it without any large additional expense by attaching to His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief a general officer who shall not be overwhelmed by daily executive duties, but whose function it shall be to be responsible to the Commander-in-Chief and to the Executive Government for the proper conduct of what may constitute a real Intelligence Department, so that, under all the varying circumstances of the country, whenever the Commander-in-Chief shall be called upon to solve any problem or consider any circumstances which may be of more than usual importance, he shall know where to lay his hand on information connected with any branch of the service, whether it concerns fortifications—whether it relates to any strategical matter—whether it relates to organization or to equipment—in short, whatever the matter may be the Commander-in-Chief or the Executive Government may require, the Intelligence Department is to furnish the necessary information upon it at any moment. For this purpose I have inserted in the Estimates the modest sum of £1,200—the salary of a Deputy Adjutant General—who will be immediately attached to His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, and whose first task it will be to overlook the topographical and all the various Statistical Departments, to propose any additions which may appear to be necessary, and to combine the whole into one efficient Intelligence Department. By this means I believe that both efficiency and economy will be promoted. That detailed system of local government of the Army which may suit a country like Prussia cannot altogether be applied to a country like England, with its great amount of foreign service and its various peculiarities; but as far as the creation of a complete Intelligence Department goes, we may do much to make our system under the new arrangements as efficient as the more local system of some other countries. This is a proposal to which, though small in itself as regards expense, I hope the Committee will agree with me in attaching the highest value and importance.

I must now turn for a few moments to some other subjects. The Purchase system was referred to in the earlier part of the evening. The Commission for dealing with Purchase in the Army has now been in operation for about a year and five months. The sum of money which, according to the actuarial calculation, they would have expended by this time is £1,584,000. We voted for this purpose in the first year £600,000, and in the next £840,000, making together £1,440,000. They have received in repayments from India £38,000, making altogether £1,478,000. Now, the amount actually expended is £1,226,800, and they will require to the 31st of March £85,000 more, making together £1,311,800, or £272,200 less than the actuarial calculation, and £166,500 less than the Votes. I mention these circumstances, because it is supposed that there has been a great disposition to retire by the sale of commissions. I have shown you how much less the sum is than that which I stated when the Bill was under consideration. There was at one time, before the new system came into operation, a great number of sales, but now it has fallen to the average. There has been some talk of the presentation of Petitions for an alteration of the system which was adopted; but as those Petitions were abandoned on the first signification of the disapproval of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, I do not think it necessary to say a word regarding them, except this—that the Government has shown, and that Parliament has shown, no indisposition to consider any cases which fall within the equity of the Act, although they might not be within its letter. Thus half-pay officers have been allowed to retire without any regard to the limit mentioned in the Act; many vested interests have been admitted, and we have stated our intention to include in the Vote a sum on account of the Indian Artillery and Engineers. The effect of the system we have followed is that many old and deserving officers have been promoted who had been often purchased over; many reduced officers have been provided for by military promotion; many supernumeraries have been absorbed; and a large reduction has been effected in the half-pay list. I am happy to say that when The Army List for March comes out a large number of colonels who were placed on half-pay, and who must have remained, many of them, for a long time on half-pay, will appear as having been restored to full pay in command of the new brigade depots. The arrangements have been especially favourable to those officers who had risen from the ranks.

With regard to first commissions, the number of those who passed in 1871 has been provided for. Notice has been given of the first competitive examination in May next, and in the Militia the first appointments will be made after the present training. The intention is that every regiment of six companies or upwards shall have at once one commission, provided, of course, there is an officer who is properly recommended. Various alterations are proposed in the Regulations with respect to retirement and to half-pay, which, at this hour, I will not mention, because the Committee will have an opportunity of seeing them; but they will all tend to make the position of officers of the Army in some respects more satisfactory.

There are one or two other points to be mentioned before I sit down. Last year arrangements were made to meet the long outstanding claim for promotion in the Royal Artillery and Engineers, a subject which was urged upon me as one of peculiar interest and difficulty. I hope we may say we have overcome that difficulty satisfactorily, and that promotions will correspond as nearly as could be expected with the arrangements for the other branches of the service. I wish to make a statement with regard to the medical service of the Army. The surgeons, like the Artillery and Engineers, have been complaining not of an actual, but of an immediately prospective stagnation of promotion. Large numbers of medical men were appointed about the time of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny, and while their professional brethren in the Indian service were receiving promotion after 12 years' service, they were looking forward to stagnation, even those who had had 15 years' service. We propose that there should be reduced numbers in battalions and larger numbers on the Staff, by developing the system of station hospitals, which must prevail in case of war, and is strongly recommended by the highest medical authority in time of peace. Fewer officers will thus be attached to the regiments, and more will be upon the Staff. This will lead to great improvement in the future medical arrangements. We do not propose to retain the title of assistant-surgeon, but to have only surgeons and surgeons-major, and the ranks above them; and another portion of the plan will be such as, while there is great objection to making it an absolute condition, will enable a surgeon to look confidently forward to becoming a surgeon-major after 15 years' service, and in India will give him local rank after 12 years. This, I have reason to believe, will give great satisfaction.

I am now obliged to ask the patient attention of the Committee with respect to a change which I think an important one. It is the question of the stoppage for rations, which is now taken from the pay of the soldiers. This stoppage is exceedingly unpopular with the soldier; and another circumstance makes me very desirous of getting rid of it. I am not satisfied with the arrangements which at present subsist in the Department for making payments on behalf of the service. We have at the present moment four systems of pay under the War Office—the regimental system, the Control system, a system of paying through Staff officers of Pensioners, and payments made through adjutants of the Auxiliary forces. The Financial Secretary has paid great attention to this subject—no man being more competent to deal with it—and he is of opinion that great reform and considerable economy might be secured by a better system of pay. He is accordingly presiding over a Committee which has been appointed, consisting of those in the War Office and the Treasury most competent to deal with the subject, for the purpose of considering whether we cannot improve the system. Now, it would be an immense convenience in making that change if we could get rid of all the troublesome stoppages, more; especially of the minute fractions, the farthings, and all the minute discussions which have to be held; and I observe that regimental officers here are familiar with them. I believe it would be very popular with the Army, and would tend to the convenience of the Department, if we could get rid of this. Formerly the soldier paid for his rations whatever, was the actual price up to 6d.; but in 1854 a fixed sum of 4½d. was adopted, and so it remains now. At the present moment, the rations costing us nearly 7d., the soldier pays us 4½d. only. Some years ago the Prince Regent gave an allowance of wine to the officers, and at the same time 1d. a-day beer money to the soldier when at home. In 1867 the re-engagement penny was introduced; but in 1870 it was abolished, on the adoption of short service. In abolishing it, however, we took the precaution of arranging with the Treasury that we reserved to ourselves, on a suitable opportunity, the determining how to benefit the soldier in some other way. The pay at present of the private soldier is 1s. 2d. a-day, with the addition of 1d. in this country for beer money, and the stoppage being 4½d., his net pay is 10½d. Now, I was extremely unwilling to do away with the stoppage if it made the pay of any soldier less than a clear shilling a-day. I propose, therefore, to pay every man not less than a shilling a-day, besides his ration of meat and bread. I believe this will be very acceptable to the Army, and I do not think the Committee, in its generosity, will refuse to sanction the arrangement. We hope not only to get rid of the stoppage, but of the minute fractions, which are very troublesome. I have stated the principle of the plan, and I will pass over the details. Of course the change will not give an equal advantage to everybody. It will give everybody, I believe, through the whole Army, some advantage—most certainly none will be put to any disadvantage; but the greatest advantage will be given to the privates of infantry regiments, whose pay will at once be raised from 10½d. to 1s. The hospital stoppage, which is now 10d., will be reduced to 8d., so as to leave, as before, the clear 4d. for the soldier, but not beer money. We make one exception to this rule, which I am sure the Committee will agree in thinking it to be just to the public and beneficial to the soldier. Where it is reported upon medical authority that the soldier is in hospital from causes for which his own conduct is responsible, we intend to stop his whole pay, and not merely a portion of it. The whole cost of this change per annum would be £197,000 on the present establishment; but the re-engagement money counts for £70,000, the arrangement I have mentioned about the hospital for £11,000, the rations on furlough for £6,000, these items making £87,000, and leaving a clear addition to the Estimates for the year of £110,000. The arrangement will apply to the Militia as well as to the Line; but we have not thought it necessary to increase the expenditure to any considerable amount for the Militia. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Surveyor-General of Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks) inquired last year into the system of clothing the Militia, in which inquiry he was assisted by several eminent Militia officers, and they proposed that the clothing by a new arrangement should extend over six years instead of five. It is intended to give effect to the Report of that Committee, and we propose to alter the period of the engagement of the Militia from five years to six. The consequence will be that we can make this arrangement about stoppage without involving any additional cost in the whole as regards the Militia. Of course, when Militiamen and the Line are brigaded together, they will receive the same treatment. It would be impossible to obtain the sanction of Parliament, and make the arrangements necessary for this change so as to carry it into effect before the time for Militia training. It will not, therefore, come into effect till the 1st of October, and the cost for the present year will be £55,000, and in subsequent years £110,000. That is an arrangement to which I attach considerable importance, and which I believe will be very satisfactory to the soldier.

I ought not entirely to pass over the question of Stores, though my right lion. and gallant Friend (Sir Henry Storks) will on future occasions speak more fully upon it. Many questions have been pending about rifles, great guns, field guns, howitzers, siege guns, powder for great guns, gun-cotton, and many other articles, and, in short, almost every kind of armament. These matters are now settled. I have further to state that we have ordered 14 35-ton guns for the Navy, which are to be completed before the end of the year 1872–3; 18 of the same weight for the land works, which are to be completed in 1873–4, and 18 25-ton guns, which are to be completed in the same year. I may state that the 35-ton gun is a most powerful weapon, that it has pierced 18½ inches of iron backed by teak, and that its accuracy up to 4,000 yards is excellent. We have given considerable attention to the manufacture of torpedoes, and have experimented largely on gun-cotton—an explosive material the nature of which is but little understood at present. In conducting some experiments at the sea-side with this substance we discovered that it could be fired by detonation when wet, while in that state it is unaffected by mere fire, and I need not say that this is a discovery of the greatest importance. Further experiments will be carried on in order that the full consequences of the discovery may be tested.

The Committee is aware that for some time considerable anxiety has been expressed with regard to the state of our graveyards in the Crimea. Last autumn we sent General Adye and Colonel Gordon to the Crimea to inspect the state of those graveyards. They were received with the greatest attention by the Russian authorities, and they visited all the cemeteries at Sebastopol, at Kertch, and at the Alma, which they found suffering from the effects of time, but not, as a rule, from desecration. I have laid the Report of those gentlemen on the Table of the House. They propose that we should repair and maintain a few of the chief cemeteries and to cover the others with turf to a depth that will render it impossible to desecrate them. The cost of doing this is estimated at about £5,000. These gentlemen also visited the cemeteries in the Bosphorus, which were well cared for and in good order; and those at Smyrna, which were in bad repair. The Report has been communicated to the Treasury and to the Foreign Office, but Her Majesty's Government have not yet taken any action on the subject.

I wish also to refer to a subject that has excited a good deal of interest, and with regard to which I received several communications during the autumn. I refer to the 40th section of the Mutiny Act. I propose, in laying the Mutiny Act on the table, to leave out the obnoxious provision, but to substitute for it a clause to provide against either oppression or the collusive exercise of power to which the soldier when absent on duty would be specially liable, and to provide by stoppage from pay for cases in which the liability is established.

I have now nearly arrived at my conclusion; but I cannot sit down without observing that we have now had two years of the Autumn Manœuvres, and that they have produced the happiest effect on the discipline and spirit of the Army. The first year, when they took place at Aldershot, the cost for compensation of damages done to the district was only £1,200; but last year, owing to the more extended field, and the more valuable description of the land occupied, the expenses were heavier, but I believe we shall be able to pay everything out of the ordinary Estimates of the year. I also believe that, as far as the claims of compensation are concerned, we shall be able to settle them all without in any case resorting to the Court of Arbitration provided by the Act. The whole sum, I think, will not exceed from £5,000 to £6,000. His Royal Highness and the distinguished soldiers who surrounded him took the greatest interest in the late Manœuvres. The country was greatly pleased at the conduct of the troops, and the Army was equally gratified with the reception it met with at all hands. I must remind the Committee that there are very few districts where these Manœuvres can be held. I did at one time desire that they might be held in Ireland in turn with this country and Scotland; but I found that when held on such a large scale as was the case last year it was impossible to hold them in the thickly populated parts of either Ireland, Scotland, or the North of England. We have made a proposal in the Estimates for having Manœuvres this autumn; but whether they will be on the same scale as last year, or whether the same number of men will be divided so as to give Ireland, Dartmoor, and the North of England an opportunity of seeing the Manœuvres gone through by smaller bodies of men, has not been determined. I believe this system of exercising large bodies of men to be a great advance upon the old system, and to tend largely to increase the usefulness of the force. No one who witnessed the sight at Beacon Hill, near Amesbury, will ever forget the magnificent effect of the splendid scone at the Autumn Manœuvres of 1872. His Royal Highness, in a Report which I have laid on the Table, and which will be in the hands of hon. Members in a few days, says— This fine military display took place, after one day of entire rest for the troops, on Thursday, the 12th. The ground was admirably adapted for so imposing a military spectacle. The spectators, of whom there were vast numbers from distant parts and from the immediate neighbourhood, had ample means of seeing the force displayed to its best advantage. The day was splendid, a bright sunshiny autumn day, and the smartness and efficiency of the several corps reflected the greatest credit upon the zeal of all concerned. In conclusion, I may say to those who, like the hon. Member for Cambridge, object to large establishments, that in numbers the Army will compare favourably even with the model year 1850–1, when the regimental establishment consisted of 113,491, as against 123,110, of which it will consist during the ensuing year, for the difference scarcely exceeds the number which has been added to provide depots for the regiments in India, for which India pays. In preparing the Estimates it has been the most sincere desire of Her Majesty's Government to be as economical as is consistent with the efficiency of the service, and to see that the people of this country get the full value for their money. For myself, I yield to no member of the Peace Society in my desire for Peace, and my abhorrence of war. But I have never observed that either in public or in private life the way to ensure peace is to be unprepared to assert your own just rights. To the maintenance of peace two things are necessary—one is that you. shall yourself show by your conduct that you desire to live on terms of peace with your neighbour, and the other is that you should make other people equally desirous of living on peaceable relations with you; things which you can only accomplish, either as an individual or as a nation, by showing that you are conscious of your own responsibility and. that you respect your own position. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Vote for 128,968 men.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 128,968, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and for Depots for the training of Recruits for service at Home and Abroad, including Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, from the 1st day of April 1873 to the 31st day of March 1874, inclusive.


said, the statement just made by the right hon. Gentleman was by no means so startling as one of the statements he had made on a similar occasion. Nevertheless, it was of the deepest interest and importance, and he was quite sure the feeling of the Committee was that the fairest consideration should be given to it. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not object to an adjournment of the debate. The right hon. Gentleman had intimated that the Report of the Inspector General on Recruiting would be placed on the Table to-morrow morning.


remarked that he had not exactly promised that the Report should be placed on the Table at that time.


said, that at any rate it was not before the House at present, and before proceeding with the discussion it was desirable that it should be in the hands of hon. Members. The plan for the appointment of a Chief of the Staff was a new proposal, and so was the proposal with respect to stoppages. He moved that the Chairman do now report Progress.


said, he had no wish except to meet the convenience of the House. The first Order of the Day on Thursday was the Railway and Canal Traffic Bill. He should propose to put down the adjourned discussion on the Army Estimates as the second Order, and he hoped that there would be then time to take the discussion.


said, he hoped that the request of the right hon. Baronet that the debate should be adjourned would be consented to, as it was impossible to deal off-hand with all the matters to which the Secretary for War had referred.


said, there stood on the list an important national question—the Juries Bill; and he and those who, like himself, had determined to resist the progress of the measure to the utmost, had been told that the discussion on the Army Estimates would last the whole evening. If it were brought on that night, many of its opponents would necessarily be absent, and he therefore trusted that if the Motion for reporting Progress was agreed to, it would be understood that the Juries Bill would also be postponed.


said, he was very glad the Secretary for War did not intend to press the Army Estimates to-night. He thought a later day than Thursday should be fixed foil the discussion of these Estimates.


said, that he was glad the discussion was to be adjourned; but it must be understood that the House was not pledged to come to a vote on Thursday night, if there was not then sufficient time for a complete debate.


said, his right hon. Friend was aware that a great number of his constituents being licensed victuallers, and, he believed, also inhabitants of Wiltshire, had suffered loss through the movements of troops in connection with the Autumn Manœuvres. He therefore hoped his right hon. Friend would, when they came to discuss the matter, consent to provide out of the compensation money for such losses, and insert a larger allowance for billets in the Mutiny Act.


said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider the necessity of totally abolishing the existing system of billet.


said, the Government were bound consistently with the views they recently propounded as to the conduct of the Business of the House to fix a time when these Estimates would be resumed as the first Order of the Day. He wished to know whether the Government intended to take any steps with regard to the clothing of Volunteer regiments, and also whether the scheme for the retirement and promotion of officers, which they were promised two years ago, had yet been prepared and would soon be laid on the Table?


asked when the Report of General Adye with regard to the graveyards in the Crimea would be in the hands of hon. Members, and whether the Government intended to act upon it?


said, he had laid the Report of General Adye on the Table of the House, and it would soon be in the hands of hon. Members.


asked whether there would be any reduction in the pay to the soldier on furlough?


said, there would be a small reduction, but it would only amount on the year to £6,000. With regard to billets, the question was under consideration. The Government were not adopting any compulsory steps with regard to the uniforms of the Volunteers.


said, that at present the soldier on furlough received his full pay, less beer money. Would he now receive 1s., instead of 1s. 2d.?


said, that was the intention.


asked whether the right hon. Gentleman meant to propose any Vote for carrying out the recommendations of General Adye?


replied that these recommendations had not yet been considered by the Government, though they had been communicated to the Treasury and the War Office. He could not name a day for the Estimates. Probably a positive answer would be given tomorrow.


asked what would be the position of Militia surgeons?


said, it was not intended to discontinue Militia surgeons when Militia regiments were out of training. At present, however, a large part of the remuneration of a Militia surgeon was derived from the inspection of recruits; but, under the new system, it was intended that all recruits should be inspected by the Army medical officers. There would be an Army surgeon at each brigade depôt.


warned the Committee of the consequence of putting off the discussion on this Vote. The result would be that there would be an accumulation of Business at the end of the Session which would then have to be got through "helter skelter," in the manner which had drawn down upon the House the condemnation of the Judges of the land.


asked whether the non-commissioned officers of the staff Militia under the new system would become entitled to pensions?


said, that they would retain all their present rights as long as they remained on the Staff.

Motion, "That the Chairman do report Progress," agreed to.

House resumed.