HC Deb 27 February 1873 vol 214 cc1056-94

(In the Committee.)

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 Depôts 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, he had no intention of entering into the Army Estimates, but he wished to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the position in which the Committee was placed with regard to these Estimates. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had persuaded the House to agree to a Resolution that on Monday no Notices could be made on the Motion to go into Committee of Supply, in order that hon. Members might know with certainty when the Estimates were coming on, and those who took an interest in the questions likely to come on would be able to be in their places. They had an example that night of the beautiful way in which the Government were working the new Rule. Supply, instead of being put down as the first Order of the Day, when there would have been some certainty as to when the Army Estimates would come on, was placed after the Railway and Canal Bill. There was a powerful railway interest in the House, and the belief was that the debate on the Bill might occupy a considerable time. Let them look at the state of the front Opposition Bench. It did not possess even one inhabitant, and lie knew that his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Faking-ton) was not coming down till between 8 and 9 o'clock. Even those Gentlemen on the other side of the House who had got Motions on the Paper for the reduction of the Vote were not in their place to propose them.


said, that the noble Lord in his observation had quite forgotten one little circumstance, and that was that the Resolution with regard to Supply applied to Monday, and that this was Thursday.


said, it was within his knowledge that his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich could not return to-night until half-past 9 or 10 o'clock. It was desirable that Gentlemen who took an interest in these Estimates and had served high offices, as his right hon. Friend had done, should be present at these discussions. There was however hardly any Gentleman now in the House who took an interest in Army matters, and it would be desirable that the Votes should be deferred until they could be present. A discussion in the present state of the House was certain to be desultory, and was not all likely to be profitable.


said, He knew quite well that the Resolution lately adopted applied only to Monday. His point was that hon. Members had been induced to give up their right to make Motions on going into Supply, on the ground that there would be certainty when the Estimates would come on, and that that night there was no certainty on the subject.


said, that the noble Lord was mistaken in saying that the House had given up its right to make Motions generally on Supply. It had given up its right for one day of the week only, and had retained it for the others. That was one of the nights on which the House retained its right.


said, he wished to put a question with reference to the Shropshire Militia. There were two regiments given in the Return which had just been issued; but, as far as he knew, only one was in existence. He should like to know whether the population of the county had so far increased as to warrant two regiments being allocated to it? In the case of necessity the Militia would be balloted for, and he did not think that Shropshire should be required to raise more than its quota.


said, that the population of the district was stated in the Schedule, and the Appendix to the Army Estimates showed the brigade organization in the state it would assume when it was finally completed.


said, that although he might not agree with all the proposed arrangements of the Secretary of State for War, lie was anxious to give him credit for having at heart the interests and honour of the service, with due consideration for the interests of the taxpayer. Confining himself to the service to which he belonged, he wished to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to two recommendations—one made by the Royal Commission, and the other by the Select Committee of last Session, of which he had been a Member. The first recommended that a longer time should be allowed for the drill of recruits. That had been adopted by the Government, and, as it appeared, with excellent advantage. Soldiering could not be learned by instinct, but by practice and experience. The greater opportunity there was for drill, the better would be the discipline of the regiment. The other recommendation, that the Militia should be enlisted for six years instead of five, was best for the Militia and economical for the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War told the Committee on Monday how many Militia officers had gone to school to the Regular Army for instruction, the result being to give confidence to themselves and to inspire it in others. In 1871, when the right hon. Gentleman unfolded his great scheme of Army reorganization, he found that the ranks of the Militia officers were in an attenuated condition, and that they were discouraged by the want of prospective advantages. The right hon. Gentleman, in order to induce officers to join the Militia, promised that Militia officers who availed themselves of the advantages to be afforded them, and who gave satisfactory proofs of efficiency, should receive commissions without purchase in the Line. A large number of officers flocked accordingly to the Militia standards, and went to considerable expense and trouble in fitting themselves out, and had attended the Schools of Instruction. What was their dismay, however, when they found that they were not likely to obtain their commissions because an educational examination was likely to be added to that in military instruction. It appeared to him to be rather hard on those officers that they should now be called upon to fulfil a condition of which they did not know when they joined the Militia. Something was wanted more than cramming for examination in order to make a good officer. He was told that the object of this examination was to show whether these officers had the education of gentlemen; but so long as they were recommended by the Lord Lieutenant of the county and the colonel of the regiment, they would take care to inquire into their antecedents, and to see that they had received the education of gentlemen. They would not give the right hon. Gentleman officers of the Tribe school, or like that celebrated foreman of a jury, of whom they had heard that night, who could neither read nor write. Rules for the guidance and emoluments of the service should be carefully con- sidered, and when once adopted they should be faithfully adhered to. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had done many things for the Militia, which was under considerable obligations to him, and it was to be hoped he would not now deprive the officers of what they thought was not only a benefit to the service, but a matter of justice to themselves.


said, the examination provided by the regulations issued more than a year ago was not a competitive but a qualifying examination, and was so simple that no one who had received the education of a gentleman could fail to pass it. Therefore, no hardship whatever was inflicted. So careful, indeed, had he been of the interests of those who might be induced to enter the Militia in consequence of what he said, that the age for entering the Army was extended a year lest anyone should be shut out. As he stated on Monday, every regiment of six companies was to have a commission.


said, he did not know the extent of the examination. All He knew was that it was not mentioned in the first instance.


said, it was instituted when the general arrangements were made more than a year ago.


said, he would only trouble the House for a few minutes, considering the state of the benches before and around him. It seemed to him that the statement made the other day by the right hon. Gentleman aimed rather at economy than efficiency. He could not understand, if the short-service Reserves were not to come into play earlier than 1876, how it was that we were to reduce the number of men this year by 8,000. If the nation required 8,000 men more last year than we required in the present year, the rational mode of proceeding was that we should not reduce the number of men till we had a sufficient number of Reserves, which he supposed we could not have till 1876. He thought the number of deserters had been a little exaggerated. It had been stated that 23,000 men would be necessary to keep up our establishment, and then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that in 1872 there had been a falling-off of recruits to the number of 4,006 men. He would like to hear the matter placed more lucidly before the Committee. He did not think that the halfpenny a-day which was to be presented to the soldier, by the gift of a free ration, would be a sufficient inducement to recruits to join. It might be a penny a-day or a penny farthing; but that could never be a sufficient inducement for the sort of men which it was desirable to see in the Army to join the ranks. Almost equally important was the dearth of horses. He would have been glad if his right hon. Friend had given some idea of the expense of horses, and how he would make out the dearth of horses for the Cavalry and Artillery. He drew attention to the subject on the last occasion of the Army Estimates being discussed; still the deficiency was as large as ever and he doubted whether an Army could ever be efficient without a good supply of those very necessary beasts of burden. In Prussia on the peace establishment of 1872 there were 312,868 men and 75,000 horses. This would give one horse to every four men, whilst in England to 462,000 men there were 15,120 horses, or one horse to 30 men. Besides which, he was told on good authority that the Prussians had a most efficient body of Reserves and reserve horses, which at any moment could be called into the field. But the fact remained the same, that the Prussians had one horse to every four men, and we had one horse to every 30 men. Then, as to guns, England had something like 180 guns. According to the German statistics there were three guns to 1,000 men, and therefore we ought to have 1,380 guns.


The number of guns we used to have was 180; but during the last few years they have been raised to 336, besides those at the depôt.


maintained that that was not a sufficient number. If we followed German authorities upon this matter our guns ought to be 1,300 or 1,400 in number, instead of 336, which was totally inadequate. Then, as to the purchase system as applicable to officers who remained in the Army. The hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Colonel Anson), who had formerly advocated their case so ably and successfully, was unfortunately confined to his room by sickness. It was not his intention to go into all the intricacies of the question which was thoroughly discussed in 1871, but he would remark that his right hon. Friend had stated on one occasion that no officer would be placed in a worse position than he occupied before.


In respect of the commission which he then held.


went on to say that, rightly or wrongly, officers who had purchased their commissions supposed that in purchasing their first commission they had also obtained all the privileges which a commission would have given them under the former system, including the privilege of rapid promotion. They also supposed that after 20 years' service they would have the right, whatever position they might hold, of selling out and receiving the full value of their commissions. That, however, was not the case. In many instances great hardship had been inflicted. They never entered the service with the idea that they would be subject to the loss which unfortunately their families had to endure in consequence of their altered position, and they looked to some form of compensation being granted to them, in consequence of the very different position in which they found themselves. It ought to be remembered that officers were really in the hands, he would not say of an irresponsible Commission, but of a Commission which acted almost in the dark. Nobody knew in what way the money was apportioned when a commission was sold. Every one expected to get what he had paid for his commissions. But it often happened that an officer received much less than he had aright to expect, and then he naturally felt that in his case there had been a breach of contract. It would be well if the Secretary for War could say something on this head to comfort a very large body of officers in the service. He did not say that the officers should receive all they asked for, but they expected a little more to be done for them than had been done, and they would be satisfied if a Committee or a Commission were appointed to inquire into their claims. Unless something were done, these grievances would go on for 10 or 20 years, just as those of Indian officers had done. There was a wide-spread feeling of dissatisfaction; but no one wished officers to feel that they had been unfairly dealt with. There was one thing which he was glad to hear from his right hon. Friend, and that was, that he would facilitate the exchange of offi- cers between India and home. This would be a very great boon if properly and fairly carried out. If an officer in India, or in the tropics, experienced no difficulty in getting home by application to the proper authorities, a great hardship would be removed. The change with regard to rations was a step in the right direction, and he sincerely hoped that when his right hon. Friend spoke of rations he included the evening meal.


I stated distinctly at the time that it was 4½d., and everybody knows that is a bread and meat ration. There could be no possibility of misunderstanding.


was quite aware the right hon. Gentleman did state the exact amount, but still he hoped it was possible there might be some mistake about it, and that something more was intended than was actually expressed. Feelings of disappointment had been expressed that a little more than bread and meat was not included, and he would ask whether the ration could not be raised from ¾lb. to 1lb of meat? He was told that that was what the soldier usually got in the field, and he was quite certain it would be a good thing for recruits of 17 or 18, who were growing youths, if they could have rather more meat than they now had. A quarter of a pound of meat more a-clay was a very small boon to ask for, and it would be gladly received by the privates in the British Army. It was a pity that some arrangement was not made by which a portion of the pay of the soldier could be saved for him until he had completed his six years' term of service, when the possession of a small sum of money would enable him to engage in some trade, which would be far better than that he should spend the money, as he too often did, in the canteen. While the statement of the right hon. Gentleman did not go as far as could be wished in some respects, in others it had commanded the approval of those who took a warm interest in the Army.


said, that the system of purchasing horses was one which involved expenditure which did not produce any proper return. Colonels of cavalry regiments who were allowed to purchase horses often competed with each other in the same market, and thus raised the cost to the public; and the same remark applied to the Artillery, Army Service Corps, and the Autumn Manœuvres. The prices paid confirmed this view as to the actual competition. The prices paid for horses for the Cavalry, which ranged from £35 to £42 were higher than those paid by any large civil establishment. The head of the Ordnance department paid £42 per head for horses for the Autumn Manœuvres. From a letter, dated 21st February, which was published in The Times, it appears that the highest price of horses purchased by the General Omnibus Company was £32 17s. 6d., while the average for regimental purposes was £42, showing a difference of nearly £10. The War Office having by circular recommended Volunteer colonels not to take immediate steps for equipping recruits, because a change of uniform was under consideration, he should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would state when the decision on that subject was likely to be announced. The falling-off in the numbers of the Volunteers was due to two or three causes, and one of them was the want of a good and efficient staff of non-commissioned officers to drill the Volunteers. The fact was that officers in the Regulars did not send to the Volunteers non- commissioned officers who were worth much, but naturally retained the best for themselves. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would find some way of meeting the difficulty that had arisen through a number of Volunteer officers having been compelled to resign their commissions in consequence of their being unable to fulfil all the requirements now exacted from them. He also suggested that those non-commissioned officers who had obtained commissions in the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces, and who were in receipt of Chelsea pensions, should have them transferred from the Chelsea Pensioners' department to the War Office Department, where the pensions of commissioned officers were now paid, in order that they might be able to get their pensions commuted under the Commutation Act of 1869. In regard to the general policy of the Government, he regretted that the provisions to concentrate our troops chiefly at home bad not been more completely carried out. The policy of the Government was shown by two despatches from Earl Granville to Sir P. E. Wodehouse, Governor at the Cape of Good Hope, dated December the 9th, 1869, and May 23rd, 1870. In the first despatch, Earl Granville wrote— Meanwhile Her Majesty's Government have come to the conclusion that British troops cannot be retained in the colony for colonial purposes, and should be gradually withdrawn, with the probable exception of a single regiment, to be left in the colony for the present, with reference to the importance of Simon's Bay for Imperial purposes. And in the second his Lordship said— It is impossible for me to hold out any hopes that Tier Majesty's Government will sanction any further delay in the removal of the troops beyond that which has been already determined upon, and I therefore earnestly hope that the Cape Parliament will address themselves seriously to the task of placing the finances on a proper footing, and making further provision for the defence of the colony. At the present moment there were more than 2,000 men at the Cape, 1,800 in the Canadian Dominion, 10,000 more at the Mediterranean stations, and a considerable number in the West Indies —though the latter were, he believed, mostly coloured troops. He was convinced that it would be at once sound policy and true economy to reduce the number at many of these stations, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be able to hold out some promise on the subject. Now that the Treaty of Washington had removed all fear of disagreement with America, he saw no use in our maintaining the large force we now had in the Canadian Dominion.


remarked that the total force we had in Canada at the present time was 1,869 men, and they were not in Canada, as the term was usually understood. They were the garrison of Halifax.


said, that Nova Scotia and Bermuda were included under the head of the Canadian Dominion in the Return he was quoting, and there were stationed there 3,938 men. They had in the Mediterranean, Gibraltar, and Malta nearly 10,000 men, and also a large force of men in the West Indies. By withdrawing men from these distant stations they might effect large reductions in the Army without impairing its efficiency.


regarded the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in introducing the Estimates, as a remarkable instance of the optimism which characterized all his utterances in connection with the Department over which he presided. During his tenure of office, the Army had always appeared to be more efficient on the day on which the Estimates were introduced than on any other day in the year. He then referred to some points connected with the Artillery. The Motion that he had brought forward in 1871 had been withdrawn, on the distinct promise given by the Government that an inquiry should take place. It was true that one had been held, and. that the Report had appeared, but he could not say it was a very valuable production. The unsatisfactory character of the Report was principally owing to the fact that the Committee consisted of War Office and Horse Guards' officials who were too much occupied in their own business to be able to devote sufficient time to the proper conduct of such an inquiry, and whose position deterred officers from coming forward, and being so open in their evidence as they would be, had the Committee consisted of altogether independent and disinterested persons. The Artillery officers were grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he had done for them; but they had been led by him to expect more than they had received. It was true that, to remedy the stagnation in the corps the right hon. Gentleman had made the first captains in the Artillery and Engineers, majors; but it lead been promised that they should have the same pay and position as the majors of the Line, whereas they only received 14s. 6d. a-day instead of 16s., and no forage allowance, which placed them in a much worse position than majors in the Line. In fact, he knew of many cases in which the extra rank had proved an annoyance and a mortification rather than a benefit. He would not touch on the worst grievance of all—that in relation to majors in India—because he was sure that before long that matter would be brought before the House by some hon. Member interested in Indian military matters. The right hon. Gentleman promised the Artillery last year that he would make officers not doing duty supernumeraries. It was an excellent step, and had been partially carried out. A certain number of officers were placed on the supernumerary list, but then there came a sudden stop. He hoped that the plan would be carried out in its entirety as soon as possible. He wished to say a word in regard to desertions from the Army. The Return he had moved for last Session on the subject was not yet ready, but the right hon. Gentleman admitted that the number of desertions was between 5,000 and 6,000. That, he feared, only was the number of deserters, not of desertions. There was a wide difference between the two; for he himself knew of cases in which men had deserted three or four times. He held in his hand the particulars of one case in which a man had been four times discharged with ignominy from the Army in the course of a year and a-half; and of another in which a lad had enlisted in three regiments in one month One great reason of these desertions was, no doubt, the facility with which they were effected now that marking had been abolished. But there were also other reasons. He believed that more men, in proportion, deserted from the Artillery and the Cavalry than from the Line, the reason being that in those branches of the service the stoppages for keeping up the kit were necessarily much heavier than in the Infantry, on account of the heavier work done by the men. Another reason was, that the duties that fell on the men of the Artillery and Cavalry were excessive, and a recruit, after two or three weeks' drill, found himself loaded with work which he did not understand, and which was more than he could get through in the time, and hence he caught a disgust for the service. As regarded the Artillery, the conclusion he arrived at was that either the establishment of men was too small, or the amount of material and the number of horses to be looked after was too large. One last word about the Autumn Manœuvres. They were certainly of use, especially as a means of popularising the Army with the country; but they were no test, in his opinion, of our power to put 'an army in the field, if a sudden emergency befel us. They were, in fact, a test of the capacity of the contractors rather than of the Control. Last year he had asked for a Commission to inquire into our Supply and Transport services, but he was denied it; yet he felt sure that he might well have gone further, and asked for an inquiry into the means we possess of putting a British Army into the field on short notice. The fact was, we really had no organization for that purpose at all—absolutely none. That was not merely his own opinion, but he had been told it by some of the very highest authorities in the country in such matters, and he believed that if the Government would look facts in the face, and appoint such a Commission, they would be acting in a patriotic manner, which would be appreciated by the country.


observed that it was not true that the promise given by the Secretary of State for War, on the consideration of the scheme for the reorganization of the Army, that commissions should be given to those subalterns in the Militia who showed capabilities for service in the Army, had not been fulfilled; and, as far as his experience went, the Militia officers were anything but discontented with their present position. He thought it was enough if one officer in each Militia regiment of six companies obtained a commission in the Regular Army, as was this year to be the case. During peace we did not want to make Militia regiments mere schools for the Regular Army, although, if in time of war we were ever short of officers, we should find plenty able and willing to volunteer their services to the great advantage of the country. But Militia colonels would be sorry to find that it was an uniform rule in peace that their best subalterns were annually drafted off into Regular regiments. If we were to have a Militia at all, it ought to be kept up in an efficient state. He should like to see Militiamen clothed as well as Regular soldiers, and he hoped that the distinctions in this respect between the differ-rent branches of our Forces might be removed. At the Autumn Manœuvres the threadbare uniforms of the Militia exposed the men to much obloquy, and they suffered great inconvenience from their packs, which were much heavier than those of the Line. One Militia regiment had to start on a march of 18 miles, without having previously partaken even of bread and a cup of tea, but they did their work well and willingly. He believed that from contact with the Regulars the Militia derived great advantage; they thereby became better acquainted with their work, and an esprit de corps grew up among them, which gave them a pride in obtaining the greatest possible pitch of efficiency, and put an end to the notion, still too prevalent amongst them, that their business was simply to screw as much as possible out of the country with the least possible trouble to themselves. The Militia was a very cheap force, and if properly treated would be found during war a valuable auxiliary to the Regular Army. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman intended to link together Militia battalions in the same way as he linked battalions of the Line, and to make promotions go through the two regiments in the same manner?


thanked the right: hon. Gentleman for many changes he had made, especially with regard to the hospital stoppages, which, together with stoppages for barrack damages, produced great discontent in the service. As to desertion, he regretted that his right hon. Friend had not spoken more strongly with regard to what was now a positive disgrace to the service. He foretold it. There never was a greater farce than the abolition of branding, the result of which was that men now deserted with impunity. What inducement had they to remain in the service? In former days the soldier might look forward to a pension, but he had no such prospect now, unless he was a long-service man. Another great cause of desertion was the system of general service, by which a man was liable at any time within the first 15 months to be taken from the regiment in which he had made friends and to be sent elsewhere. No doubt it was a great advantage to have general-service men, but it was not a pleasant thing for such men to feel that they were liable to be taken elsewhere at any moment. The truth was, that in many such cases a man was inclined to desert. When a man enlisted for general service, and not for a particular regiment, the regiment to which he was first appointed should be considered his home, and He should not be liable to be moved from it without his own consent. Then as regarded the question of recruiting. From 1861 to 1871 the Army was dissolving itself. There were desertions of about 4,000 men a-year, and a Royal Commission sat upon the subject. In 1867 General Peel occupied the position of Secretary of State for War, and he had to face that difficulty, and also to meet the fact that there were 28,000 men who might claim their discharge in the following year. General Peel asked for an extra 2d. a-day, and what was the result? Why, that 26,000 out of the 28,000 determined to remain. They were men worth having, for they wore in the prime of life, though they had been 10 years in the service. In 1868 his right hon. Friend (Mr. Cardwell) came down with the flag of retrenchment, and in 15 months 23,000 of these soldiers disappeared—[Mr. CARDWELL: No.] — 206 non-commissioned officers, and 1,606 privates of the Royal Artillery were scattered to the winds. His right hon. Friend had had many discussions with him on this subject; but after deducting time-expired men, men unfit for service, men of bad character, and others, he could not bring down the numbers to less than 15,000 efficient men discharged. He had no hesitation in saying that, in recruiting one branch of the service — the Artillery—from the ranks of another the right hon. Gentleman had been following a precedent which had ended in the utter destruction of the French Army. The stipulation that the Volunteers should be of a high standard as regards stature and girth took from each regiment some of the finest men, to the great dissatisfaction of the officers. With respect to the numbers proposed for the Army of Reserve, the proposal seemed utterly inadequate for the necessities of the case. Would the number of men proposed be forthcoming, or would they not? Then, as to soldiers on furlough. He objected to a reduction in pay being made when a man was on furlough, for if there was a time when a soldier ought to have his full money it was when he was paying a visit to his friends in the country. It was understood last year, from the right hon. Gentleman, that the majors of Artillery were to be placed on a footing of equality with the majors in the Line, but this had not been done, since the former only received 14s. 6d. per day, while the latter had 16s. Moreover, the majors of Artillery in India had a special grievance, and many of them had been shamefully treated. Although he regretted the course which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had adopted on these and seine other points, he quite admitted that, in many respects, his policy was entitled to great praise.


said, there were two or three matters which had excited very great public attention, on which he desired information. With regard to the recruiting for the Army, it had been stated that the recruiting had gone on very well at one time; then it appeared that young men were reluctant in coming forward to join the Army; but afterwards everyone was pleased to hear that a new military spirit had entered into the hearts of our youths, and that recruiting had become successful. In fact, the public were made to believe that as many men as were required were obtained for all branches of the military service. That was pleasant, but then came the unhappy sequel, and it must be mortifying to all to hear of the extraordinary number of desertions, which had attracted not only the attention of military men, but of those who were not concerned or connected with military affairs. He desired to be informed as to the number of desertions, because statements were made of the enormous proportion of the new recruits who deserted from time to time. He also asked for the exact number of actual deserters who had never been brought back to their regiments. He knew that statistics were very distasteful, and an assertion being made that there were 10,400 who had deserted, immediately a man full of figures got up and said "You are totally wrong, there were only 10,399. It was truly observed that there was a great difference between desertions and deserters, because one man might enlist in three or four regiments and desert from each, and would therefore be reckoned as several desertions, although but one deserter. All that was very dangerous to the service. It was complained that the same exertions and the same stringent means were not now used for bringing back deserters as had been employed in former times, and he also wished information on that point. If that was so, there was danger lest the laxity should encourage others both to enlist and desert. To have a large number of desertions was not only a melancholy thing in itself, but was very injurious to the service. When young men saw John Smith or Joseph Jones living comfortably in a country town or village after having deserted several times, they would naturally say— "Oh, let us enlist and amuse ourselves for some time, and if it suits us to continue soldiers we will stay, and if it does not we will desert, and there will be no punishment and no disgrace in doing so," and there would thus be a vast number of volunteer recruits and deserters. Another question was, what inducement was held out to young men to go into the Army at all? He did not speak now of those which Sergeant Kite offered to every recruit—namely, that he would be sure to win a pair of epaulets or a Field Marshal's baton. The first inducement held out by the recruiting serjeant, as a rule, was the ancient allurement— "You will be taken uncommonly good care of." What a difference there was however when the recruit had joined his regiment. He found that he was not comfortable, and one of the first things He discovered when there was a bounty was that having been told he would have so much money, when the settlement of the account came about, he found that instead of £5 or £10, he got 3s. 6d. or £1. There were certain stoppages which were kept off him, but now, the bounty being abolished, perhaps the stoppages were discontinued. His right hon. Friend had used an ambiguous expression with reference to stoppages. The soldier, he said, was to have a clear ls. a-day. What did that mean? Did it mean that the soldier was to have a clear ls. a-day which he might put in his pocket to do what he liked with? There were still stoppages for clothing and accoutrements. When men were supplied with boots or other articles out of store, they were charged with them in their accounts; was that system to be continued? He wished to say a few words about the Camp at Aldershot. Aldershot in summer was one field of dust, and in winter of black mud—most destructive to the clothing and accoutrements of officers and men. In marching to Aldershot both officers and men were patterns of neatness and cleanliness, justly admired—as they passed through a country town especially—by the other sex for the smartness and gaiety of their dress; but when they returned from Aldershot they presented a very different picture. They were generally obliged to get some new clothing and accoutrements before they could show themselves on parade elsewhere. When the ordinary allowance of clothing and accoutrements would not serve for the time spent and the mischief done at Aldershot, he wished to ask whether there would be any rule by which the men would be relieved of stoppages on that account? Such things prejudiced the service, for they influenced the number of recruits, and affected also the number of desertions. Again, with reference to examinations, while he was an advocate for good education, he thought they might, with regard to officers, raise the standard too high, and thus reject sonic of the most spirited and eligible candidates. He wanted to know what was the course of examination which a Militia officer must undergo before he could get a commission in the Regular Army?


said, he thought that it would be advisable to have some other means for Militia officers entering the Regular Army than that of passing through a competitive examination. It would be a gain to the Regular Army if, instead of having for young officers youths fresh from the crammers, they were to have a body of young men fully grounded in the elements of their profession. He thought, also, that there should be some better means of educating the officers who chose to remain in the Militia, for it was most desirable that the Militia should have thoroughly efficient officers. A battalion of Militia had a very much smaller proportion of officers, especially of the junior rank, than a battalion of the Line, though the latter had a much smaller number of men. This was attributable to the abolition of Militia ensigns eight years ago, on account of the impossibility of filling up the junior ranks; but that difficulty —thanks to the Secretary of State for War—having passed away, the proper quota ought to be restored. The Militia were entitled to send one officer from the Militia to the Line for every 100 men of the Militia service who, when called upon, joined the Regulars, which would transfer 300 Militia subalterns to the Line; but a long embodiment necessarily led to the retirement of some Militia officers, whose places were filled by the junior rank, and in case of war there was a danger of the Militia being denuded of subalterns. He hoped therefore that something would be done to increase the number of officers in the Militia; but if the number of these could not be increased, greater efforts should be made to increase their efficiency. The right hon. Gentleman had wisely extended the Militia recruits' preliminary drill to three months, but the officer on his appointment had simply the option of 28 days in the Line or going to a School of Instruction, with a limited power of attending the School of Musketry. On the other hand, a young officer going into the Line had to pass a severe competitive examination; then he did a year's duty with his regiment, after which he was sent to Sandhurst for instruction, and, still further, he had after all this, various classes of instruction open to him. This kind of instruction was not afforded to the Militia officer. It had been said that the new system of having military centres would remedy this; but he had not much hope of these military centres being efficient schools for the higher education of Militia officers. The schools open to Line officers should be thrown open to Militia officers, and he believed such an opportunity would be gratefully embraced. He would not say anything as to the policy of abolishing the old Militia Staff, because it was true wisdom to accept facts and make the best of them, but He should be ungrateful if he did not say a word in behalf of a body of men of whom he had seen a great deal. There was an idea that they were broken-down idlers, but speaking of his own Staff lie did not believe there were more deserving, respectable, or hardworking men in Her Majesty's service. To these men was due in a great measure the efficiency of the Militia battalions last year, of which the Secretary of State for War had spoken, for long habit had taught them a marvellous power of working up raw material in a short time. Some of the best non-commissioned officers had never served in the Line, and as they were unfit for other business, and had no claim at present to pensions, He trusted that at the end of their five years' engagement they would receive the earnest and generous consideration of the Secretary of State for War. He hoped the new body would be as efficient as the old, but he doubted whether any regiment of the Line would be able to provide an entire cadre of non-commissioned officers for a battalion of Militia. He observed that the number of sergeants had been reduced, and saw no mention of a sergeant-major or sergeant-instructor of musketry. Under the old system they had an instructor of musketry to every regiment, but under the new arrangement it seemed there was only to be one sergeant-instructor for the whole depôt, and he would have to devote his whole time to two battalions, each stronger than those of the Line, and to the whole of the recruits for the two battalions. He thought it impossible in that manner to impart efficient musketry instruction, and hoped that no consideration of small economies would prevent the Staff from being maintained on a proper footing. With regard to the employment of the Militia at the last Autumn Manœuvres, opinions had already been expressed by high authorities, but inquiries had inspired him with some doubt as to whether it was desirable that the Militia should be taken to those great manœuvres. They were very instructive to general and staff officers, and also to colonels commanding regiments, and to some extent to field officers and adjutants, but every military man would agree that the amount to be learned by the private soldier was small indeed; and he was afraid that many would also agree with him in thinking that a good deal was often unlearned by them. There was no doubt that a regiment of the Line was often a good deal shaken in the precision of its drill by going through a course of manœuvres of this kind; but it must be still more detrimental to a Militia regiment, and they ought previously to have more careful training in smaller bodies by brigades. He should, however, be sorry to see the short time of the Militia devoted to the more flash performances of the Autumn Manœuvres. They might be much better employed in gaining a thorough grounding in drill and discipline, for it was every day becoming a more important element in our military system whether the Militia should or should not be efficient.


in rising to move to reduce the number of men by 10,000, said, that during the discussion of the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt) the other night, the Prime Minister said it was impossible to have a Committee on the question of the expenditure of the Army and Navy, because it would be of no use, and for this reason—that it was a question of national policy, and therefore one to be settled by the House itself. It was in consequence of that remark of the right hon. Gentleman that he thought it right to bring forward the Motion he was about to submit to the House. Now, what was our present military establishment, positively and relatively? In 1868 the number of men voted was 137,000; in 1869, the number was 127,000; in 1870, 115,000; in 1871, 134,000; in 1872, 133,000; and in 1873 it is, in round numbers, 125,000, not including 3,900 included in the gross aggregate, but to come out of another part of the Force. In 1869, when the number was 127,000, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Department said— "With such a force I venture to think this country may be considered perfectly safe both from attack and from menace." So strongly did the Government feel the truth of that remark that in the next year they reduced the Force by more than 10,000 men, leaving the entire number about 115,000. Now, however, the gross number of the Army at home and in the colonies was 128,968, and in India 62,924, making a total of 191,892. But they had at home, in addition, of effective Militia, 129,000; of Yeomanry, 13,000; of First and Second Class Reserves, 35,000; and of efficient Volunteers, 160,750, making 337,750, or, with the Regular Army, the grand total of 466,718. That seemed to him to be a very great, if not an enormous force, considering the position in which the affairs of the country now stood. Before he proceeded further he should like to read a few words from an article which appeared last week in the leading journal, and which appeared to him to bear out the view he was submitting to the House. It said— Not only is the number of Regular troops stationed in this island far greater than formerly, but the Auxiliary and Reserve Forces are called into active and available existence. The process, it is true, has not yet reached a very advanced stage, but it must not be forgotten that whereas the Duke of Wellington asked for 100,000 Militia to place the country in a state of defence, we have now more than that number, besides a Regular Force of 50,000 troops. We have at this moment much more than 50,000. Nor," continues the article, "is it to be said that the conditions or possibility of invasion or war would in these days be different. Nothing has yet been done to render a maritime expedition easier or more practicable than before, and the difficulties in the way of passing an army across the Channel in the face of our Fleet are as great as ever. Nor, as far as we can calculate, would the invading force be more numerous than it might have been in 1848. These were very striking words considering the quarter from whence they came, and evidenced a feeling that the time had arrived when, having regard to the present state of affairs in Europe, the question should be considered whether our military forces were not more than were required for the security of the country. What was our position now as compared with that in which we were placed in 1870, when, on an unfortunate afternoon, a rather excited House voted 20,000 additional troops? A gigantic war was then being waged—now peace prevails. Instead of regarding France as our enemy, we are negotiating a Treaty of Commerce with her. In 1870 a great cloud hung over our relations with America. Now, that question is settled, and we have paid a very high price for having it settled. Again last autumn there arose fears as to Russian designs in Central Asia. If he might judge by the Correspondence before the House on the subject, that scare had been got rid of; and even if it had not been, we had about 63,000 English troops in India —a very considerable force for us to maintain. But it was said—"There is Germany. What may she not be going to do?" Well, if they were going to keep pace with Germany in military matters, they ought at once to vote 6d. additional income tax, and double the strength of the Army. We had no cause for anxiety now. Let us contrast our position with what it was in 1802, or just after the Peace of Amiens, when the position of England was really one of more serious danger than it has ever since been. The then Secretary of State for War told the House of Commons that the total force of the Empire, including regiments serving in India, and the colonies, was 128,000 men, almost the same number as the right hon. Gentleman now had in England and the colonies alone. The populalation then was less than it now was; but the danger was infinitely greater. There were now 40,000 more troops at home than England had at a time when Napoleon was just on the point of creating that invading force which afterwards, on the heights of Boulogne, produced so much alarm throughout the country. But we were told that the Army must not be reduced because the influence and the honour of the Empire must be maintained. Could our honour and influence depend upon our having 10,000 troops more or less? Whenever our Army made an impression in Europe it was not by reason of the vast numbers of our troops, but on account of the great genius of the men we had at the time to command them. Now, as to the legitimate influence argument. We were in a most peculiar position from the insularity of our kingdom. As Coleridge had said at a dangerous period of our history— Ocean, 'mid his uproar wild, Speaks safety to his island child. We were protected by a bulwark far stronger than any chain of fortifications in the world. Then, too, as we had lately seen, great armaments might entirely fail; while the influence of America was great, though she now had practically neither army nor navy. We depended upon the courage of our people and the resources of our country, and not upon our relative armaments. But we must choose our policy—choose either to be strong in the consciousness of our own strength without meddling with other people, or double our armaments and add enormously to our income tax. All he asked the Government was to go back to the position they took up in 1870, and to the number of men we then had. He would remind the Committee of what the late Sir Robert Peel said long ago. That great statesman said that no amount of money could raise this nation to the standard of a great military Power, because it was not in our nature to be such, but it was in our nature to be a great naval Power. True courage was shown in confessing that we desired peace, and did not desire more than the armaments which were absolutely necessary for our security. If we were conscious of our strength, we should not be anxious to parade great military forces before the eyes of the world. Besides, the idea of anybody attacking us was simply absurd, while no one in England wanted to attack any other nation. We should never secure economy in this country unless we reduced the Military Estimates. Our Civil Service Estimates must increase, no matter what Committees sat to investigate them; but great economy might be effected by reducing the Regular Army, even though the Reserve were strengthened. The right hon. Gentleman might reply that there were difficulties in the way; but reductions had gone on continuously down to 1870, spite of difficulties, and why not revert to that point? We were in far less danger of attack than at that period, and both for reasons of policy and of finance, he thought some reduction loudly called for. Believing that such a reduction might be safely made, and that it would be a great thing if this country, with its boundless resources, would set an example to Europe, he begged to move that the number of our Land Forces be reduced by 10,000 men.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 118,968, 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."—(Mr. William Fowler.)


said, that nearly the whole of the arguments of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler) had been demolished the other night by the Secretary of State for War, especially that relating to the panic. Hon. Members must well remember being brought down one hot day in July to vote an extra 20,000 men on the outbreak of war between France and Germany, and he would ask the hon. Member for Cambridge whether, if he were able now to reduce the Army by 10,000 men before the Secretary of state was able to obtain his Army of Reserve, they might not have—looking at the state of the Continent—to vote either next year or the year after a greatly increased number of men. The present Government came into office as avowed economists, but circumstances had beaten them on that point; and credit ought to be given to that (the Opposition) side of the House, who had kept up those stores of supply and ammunition which a former Liberal Government had allowed to get too low. It was now, as ever, a wise and prudent policy to be prepared for war, even when you were pursuing a policy of peace. What were they now cavilling at? Did they really wish to have perfect security in the country? Was the insurance that hon. Gentlemen paid for peace so high at present that they could not afford to pay it? Were they not making larger fortunes and carrying on a greater commerce than ever, and was it not more necessary than heretofore to be able to meet every casualty and danger? But why were they perpetually to hear the cuckoo cry, "Diminish! Diminish! Diminish!" and from some hon. Members who would be the first to declare that we were unprepared for war, and in a crisis of danger would advise us to go to arbitration or to take some other foolish step in order to maintain the peace of this country? The right hon. Gentleman's proposal was simply this—" Give me time to decrease the Regular Army and allow me to pass a certain number of men over to the reserved list, so that I can command their services at any moment." Now, that was a fallacious proposal, and he was prepared to prove it to be such. Well, the Government proposed to reduce the Army by 8,410 men. But what was the Reserve? Only 7,900 men, on whom the Government had to rely to fill up the vacancies and casualties in the active Army in case of war. The right hon. Gentleman said he had got 31,000 Militia Reserve. That was true; but if he fell back upon that Reserve he would reduce his Militia strength to 98,000 instead of 129,000, the Militia Force that he had got upon paper. The right hon. Gentleman, when he first took office, said he was against the Militia Reserve, because a man could not do two things and serve in two capacities.


That is not quite what I said. What I said was, that if you had a sufficient Army Reserve, I should not be enthusiastic for a Militia Reserve, upon the ground that what you gain to the Army you lose to the Militia. But I did not say that under the then circumstances—and I do not say under the now circumstances—I am against a Militia Reserve. On the contrary; under these circumstances I think it extremely valuable.


said, the right hon. Gentleman of course referred to a Militia Reserve that was available. But when they had only 7,900 men in the Army Reserve and were reducing the Militia Reserve, what became of that enormous host which the hon. Member for Cambridge had paraded before the Committee? He wanted to know in what part of the Army the hon. Member proposed to make his reduction? Was it in the Infantry? Why the battalions were already attenuated to 520 men. Had the hon. Gentleman ever been to Aldershot or anywhere else? Had he seen the number of men on guard, in hospital, as officers' servants, and artificers, and in other capacities? Would he reduce the scientific branches of the Army—the Engineers or the Artillery, which the Government had taken so much trouble to increase—or the Cavalry which were the eyes and ears of the Army? It was very easy to say—"Let us reduce the Army by 10,000 men," but he would like the hon. Gentleman to show the Committee how the reduction was to be made. He asserted that no clear case had been made out for the reduction. The House and the country did not wish to have a recurrence of these panics, and looking at the increased population and the means of the people, he maintained that they were not overtaxed to provide for the defence of the country. He would now turn to the present state of the Army. The statement of the right lion. Gentleman the other evening was very plausible and pleasant — it tinged everything couleur de rose, and if they could only accept his views, they ought to be a happy family indeed. The right hon. Gentleman had undoubtedly done many admirable things since he had been in office; but it was also true that in some things he had failed. How, for instance, did he account for the enormous amount of desertions from the Army which had occurred during the last two years? Through the energy of an hon. Gentleman who sat below the gangway a Return had been ordered of all the desertions since April 16, 1871, when the practice of marking with the letters "D." and "B. C." on deserters was abolished in the Army. Had the desertions increased or not since this branding had been done away with? He had obtained some very curious facts on the subject, and if this debate had been adjourned for another day or two he could have added to them considerably. There was one gallant regiment —a Cavalry one, and a most distinguished one—numbering not 547 men but only 447 men, from which the number of desertions since April 16, 1871, was no less than 116. That regiment was second to none for its discipline. The number of men who had fraudulently enlisted was 19. How many desertions did the Committee think had occurred in the same regiment in the two years previous to April 1871? Only 23. The moral obviously was, that men knew they could now desert with impunity. A friend of his, an officer, went the other day into a military prison in Dublin, where he saw a man who had been dismissed in ignominy from his own regiment. In reply to a question as to what brought him there, the man said— "I cannot keep out of trouble; I enlisted again, and here I am." There was no means of ascertaining that that man had been dismissed in ignominy from another regiment. It must be patent to everybody that the right hon. Gentleman must take some steps to put a stop to the frightful number of desertions now occurring. If he were to propose that the practice of marking deserters should be revived he would certainly be howled at by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, who would say it was the height of cruelty and a most improper thing to do. He would however suggest that soldiers who were known as deserters, or who had been dismissed with ignominy from their regiments, should be placed for a term of years under police supervision in the same manner as convicted criminals were. At all events, he entreated the right hon. Gentleman to take some determined step with a view to preventing the number of desertions, which were a perfect disgrace to the service. With regard to the discussion on Monday night, he referred to the statement of the Secretary of State for War, that his sheet anchor had failed, because a late Report showed that the mortality in India was not at the rate of 2 per cent per annum. The right hon. Gentleman candidly admitted that he left out the cholera year; but he maintained that every year of service in India ought to have been taken into account.


I said that for 10 years the mortality did not equal 2½ per cent among the troops in India, whereas the statement which the hon. Gentleman made was that it was 3¼ per cent. I also said that the last year for which there were complete Returns — namely, the year 1871, it was below 2 per cent, being, in fact, 18.73 per 1,000. I added that we had not yet received complete Returns for 1872, but I remarked that if we had, it would probably be found that the mortality had been greater, inasmuch as there had been an epidemic. In the 10 years' average every year was included, whether an epidemic prevailed or not.


said, that as epidemics broke out periodically in India they ought to be taken into account. But even if the mortality was reduced to the figure mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, it by no means followed that it might not be still further diminished by the adoption of his proposal. With respect to the regiment he alluded to the other night, he was now in a position to state that 17 officers died and. 409 men, and that the number of the regiment when it left for India was 1,061. The numbers invalided home or to the Hills were — Officers, 60; non-commissioned officers and men, 912, or more than 6 per cent per annum of the whole. These figures spoke for themselves, and, indeed, he believed that if the mortality and sickness of all the regiments were accurately ascertained, the estimate he had given would be found to be under rather than over the mark. His opinion was that the 12 years' service in India was a great deal too long. The right hon. Gentleman however only proposed to keep the head-quarters of the regiment there for so long a period. He was surprised at hearing the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardine (Sir George Balfour) say that it was the men and not the officers who cared about staying, because under the short-service system the officers would be kept there and not the men. While on this point he would ask the right hon. Gentleman how long he intended to keep regiments in the colonies, whether, in the case of the linked battalions, he intended that they were to serve five or six years in the colonies, and then 12 years in India? He also wished to say that anyone who had ever seen troops from India landed in this country would be distressed at their condition. Often they reached England in the depth of winter, and the consequence was that many died and. many more suffered terribly. Why could not arrangements be made for their passing a few months at Malta or Gibraltar on their way home, in order to become acclimatised to our rough climate? As he understood it, the exchanges in the linked battalions were to be amongst sub-lieutenants and lieutenants only. Now, there could be no difficulty about exchanges where there were two battalions of a regiment; but there would be a great difficulty in exchanges with regiments of different colours, facings, and traditions. It was a matter of vast importance to the Army when it was remembered that every officer thought his regiment the best. The Report that had been placed that morning in the hands of hon. Members was carefully drawn. It contained very valuable suggestions; and if the Secretary of State for War adhered to many of them and adopted them he would have done more to establish a connection between the Army, Militia, and Volunteers than any of his predecessors had attempted to do. The Report stated that if each regiment was to retain its distinctive number, traditions, colours, and facings, the public should bear the cost of change of officers' uniforms, except when it took place on promotion or on the application of the officer so transferred. That was a step in the right direction, because in exchanging them from one battalion to another, and from one uniform to another, it would be a great hardship to put them to the expense of their now uniforms. He wished to know whether it was intended, after linking the battalions together, to do away with all the linked battalions, and make them two battalions of one regiment. There were regiments who thought no other regiment was like their own, and it would be a shock to them to be told that yellow would have to give place to blue, and blue to bright green. No greater boon could have been given to the soldier than his receiving his pay in full without deductions for rations; but according to a letter in the morning papers, deductions were to be made for groceries, but, as lie understood the right hon. Gentleman's statement, 4½d. a-day only was to be deducted for bread and meat, and that the grocery would still have to be paid for as well as all necessary repairs to boots and shoes, so that these deductions would have to be made from the shilling the soldier was to receive. Now, as there was nothing a private soldier hated so much as not knowing what he was about, it was necessary that the right hon. Gentleman should make a clear explanation on this point. The Autumn Manœuvres had been most popular with the officers of the Army, and he warned the Secretary of State for War, not from any false economy or from any wish to slightly curtail the expense to have manœuvres on a small scale held simultaneously at several places. The great object of these Manæuvres were to test everything, especially the Control department, and to instruct general officers how to move large bodies of men. Great discontent prevailed with regard to clothing on such occasions, and he wanted the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether he could not make some allowance towards the clothing of the men when out on duty of that kind. The Army ought to be obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for many suggestions that he had made; and if he had only the heart and the pluck to carry out what he wished to do, about which circumstances made him waver—if he went boldly on and carried out the principles he had enunciated, he would then deserve the thanks of the Army.


said, he felt that a great responsibility now rested on the House in relation to this question. He bad remarked that the Secretary of State for War in his able statements always asked whether it was the opinion or the pleasure of the House that such and such a step should be taken. They ought therefore carefully to inquire into all the statements that were made to them. He understood his hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge to desire not to get rid of 10,000 men, but that they should be transferred to the Reserve. For himself, he had no sympathy with those who came forward to ask at one time that 10,000 or 20,000 men should be struck off, and at another time that 10,000 or 20,000 men should be added. They ought to act on a more business-like system, and, if possible, to have a good Reserve. He believed it was in the power of the Administration to pass those 10,000 men into the Reserve if they chose to do so; and in doing it they would not only confer a boon on the 10,000 men, but save an enormous sum of money to the country. Even if they paid them £20 per man, they would effect a large saving by the arrangement. They had 57,000 men over 30 years of age. Why in the name of common sense, humanity, or morality, did they not allow 10,000 of them to go to their homes, taking good security that they would come back to them in time of need? That was the only road to true economy. If that 10,000 men were permitted to go into the Reserve, an encouragement would be held out to men in the Army not to desert, but rather to wait for this honourable and profitable mode of returning to their homes. What was the object which the House had in view in 1870 in reorganizing the Army at all? Everybody was then agreed that our Army was not efficient and that its cost was very extravagant; and it was expected that by-and-by they would have lower rather than higher Estimates. He would compare the present Estimates with those of the 10 previous years, first, in what was called the rough and ready way, that was to divide the amount of the Estimates by the men of the Regular Army; second, to deduct the cost for the Reserves and divide the remainder by the numbers of the Regular Army; and, further, to make the same comparisons by leaving out the extra Exchequer receipts. From 1863–4 to 1866–7, four years of the Palmerston and Russell Administrations, the cost per man of the Regulars, divided in the old rough and ready manner, was £1013s. 10d. From 1867–8 to 1868–9, during the Derby and Disraeli Administration, it was £111 5s. per man, and during the four years of the present Administration it was £109 15s. 6d. per man, and in the present Estimates it was £116 18s. 6d. per man. Without the Reserves the cost was for the same periods £87 12s. 4d., £100 11s. 7d., £90 5s. 10d., and in the present Estimates £99 7s. 6d. per man. Without the Exchequer receipts the cost was £95 7s., £99 10s. 2d., £100 9s. 3d., and this year £105 19s. per man, and excluding the Reserves £8110s., £89 4s. 5d., £80 1s., and this year £88 18s., so that this was the highest year during the period of 10 years lie had named. Very conflicting statements had been made with reference to desertions. The right hon. Gentleman stated that 5,861 men had deserted, of whom 1,855 had rejoined; or, in other words, they had been apprehended. But how did that compare with the last 10 years? In the past 10 years there had been 33,578 desertions, of which number 19,729 did not rejoin, were apprehended and tried, being an average of 58 per cent; but towards the end of the 10 years the apprehensions gradually diminished to 48 per cent, a state of things most discreditable to the Army. He found from The Police Gazette that in 1872, 8,471 men were advertised as deserters, of whom 818 were recruits who had not been finally approved of. Deducting this number, he found that 7,653 deserters had escaped. The reason why there was a difference between his figures and those of the Seeretary of State for War was this—that when a man had been away five days he was reported to the War Office and his name and description were sent to The Police Gazette; but if he rejoined within 21 days he was not regarded by the regiment as a deserter and tried by court-martial, but he was looked upon as a sort of prodigal son, and was dealt with in a summary manner. He considered desertion the most deplorable feature in our military system. The evidence of dissatisfaction was that there were more than 7,000 men who did not desire to stay with their regiments, and therefore left them. He had seen recently a statement in the newspapers showing how soldiers found a new way of getting out of the Army. An artilleryman was brought up to the police-court at Woolwich charged with stealing a pound of tobacco. His defence was that he had been under stoppages for some months for some misconduct. Mr. Maude, the magistrate, said that the last 20 or 30 soldiers who had been charged with theft before him had no object but to escape from the Army, being mostly young men who had enlisted before they well knew their own minds on the matter. His opinion was that the soldiers must be better paid and better treated. With respect to the system of short service being in any way a cause of desertion he would state that out of the 7,653 who deserted, 2,954 belonged to the Cavalry and Artillery, which were long-service and pension branches, being 39 per cent of those two branches, whilst those branches wore only 29 per cent of the whole Army. It was clear, therefore, that desertion was not to be attributed to short service and absence of pensions, but entirely the reverse. Of two Cavalry regiments, numbering 994 men, in the course of the last two years 294 had deserted. If those regiments which were supposed to serve for 12 years, had been left alone, in six years and four months there would not have been a couple of men left. In comparing this state of things with the Metropolitan Police Force, consisting of 9,700 men, he found that only five had deserted in 1871, while no fewer than 4,772 recruits offered themselves during the same period, being throe times the number required. He thought the day would come when they would not be content with having fewer men presenting themselves for the Army than for the Metropolitan Police Force. He felt much dissatisfied with the state of recruiting during the last year, and especially in connection with the circumstance, that in November a War Office order was issued permitting recruiting sergeants to take youths from 17 to 19 years of age. So long as the limit of age was as low as that they were getting boys and not men. In 1872 the number of men recruited for the Militia was 30,154, when a large number was required for the Regular Army, which had to take the refuse after the Militia had been recruited. The right hon. Gentleman in speaking of the Reserves, said there were 7,993 No. 1 Reserves and 31,522 Militia Reserves; but really there was no difference between the latter and ordinary Militiamen, except that they received £1 a-year more pay; but that did not make them any fitter to be sent out of the country. Since that Reserve had been established, £20,000 or £30,000 a-year had been spent upon it, and if £30,000 were granted this year, it would make a total of £150,000 in six years. But many of these men had grown old in the service, and if we were engaged in war abroad no one would think of sending them out. There were 443 of them over the age of 35, and 2,005 between 30 and 35. During the Crimean War, when the Militia were called out, there were 61,500 men, and within one month 19,000 volunteered to go to the Crimea. There was no Reserve then, and the Government did not pay the extra pound, and he did not see why they should do it now. He did not like nominal Reserves who were only plain Militiamen. The House had imposed upon it a grave responsibility, but why should they have so much discussion about questions of detailed information which ought to be clearly furnished by those in authority. The House, being responsible for the Army Estimates, was not by the present system in a position to judge of them except so far as the money went. They ought to be able to judge both of the quantity and quality of the article they were pay- ing for, and he would suggest that every year they should have, as an Appendix to the Estimates, a plain statement showing the real number of men on the 1st of January in each year, and the ages of the men, showing how many were under 20 and how many were over 30 years of ago; the Return also to include the number on the 31st October preceding, in India. There also ought to be a statement of the number of men and officers who turned out at the last training of the Militia, and the number of recruits of the last year, and their ages. There should also be a Return of the number of deserters, of soldiers in each branch of the service, and of recruits; and an explanation of the extra Exchequer receipts. These receipts were put down at £1,185,000 in this year's Estimates; why should there not be a detailed statement of that amount put before the House next year, when the Estimates were considered? Then, instead of a medical Report for 1870, as they had now only presented in 1873, they might be supplied with a few simple facts relating to the medical condition of the Army in 1872, such as the number of men continually in hospital, the number of deaths, &c.; while, with regard to crime, a short summary of the military prisons' Report might state the number of men sentenced to long periods of imprisonment. All these particulars would enable the House to judge of the quality as well as of the quantity of our men in the Army.


thought the House and the country were greatly indebted to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War for the manner in which he had carried out his scheme of Army re-organization. Nor did he by any means despair that the officers of the Army themselves would in course of time be brought to feel that the Government in proposing that scheme were actuated by no desire of inflicting injustice upon their interests, as individuals or collectively. The fact, he might add, that there had in one year been more than 4,000 desertions from the Army was very startling; but it was one which was comparatively satisfactory when it was taken into account that these desertions had in some quarters been set down at as high a figure as 8,000. The Secretary of State for War had quoted a remark made by General M`Dougall's Committee, to the effect that the number of desertions might be accounted for by the reaction consequent on the undue excitement of the Franco-German War, while the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down sought to show that they were a sign that the Army was unpopular throughout the country. It should, however, be borne in mind that there were a great many men who deserted from one regiment—the Rifle Brigade, for instance—into another regiment, while he agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex in thinking that if, in the case of habitual desertions, some system of supervision were established, desertions would be fewer, and the country would be put, in that respect, to less expense. The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman would, he believed, prove to be the best for preventing desertions—it was an increase of pay in the Army. By opening out to the men in the First Class Army Reserve the chance of getting good civil employment, their position would become better than it was under the old system, even with the prospect of a pension after 21 years' service. As to recruiting, he should like to know what was the real age at which recruits were enlisted? He had heard that a great number of young men now joined the Army between the ages of 16 and 17; and if that were so, we should in the course of a very short time have an Army composed entirely of young boys. The question of enlistment was too large a one to discuss at that hour, but the right hon. Gentleman would, in his opinion, have perfected his system with greater ease if he had not attempted to reconcile the irreconcilable, by seeking to garrison India and to form an Army of Reserve at home under the same system, and endeavouring to keep the Militia side by side with the Regular Army and in competition with it. There might, possibly, be good reasons why we should not keep the Indian Army distinct; but there could be no such reason why a Militia establishment should be kept up side by side with the Regular Army. Nothing, indeed, could be plainer than that it was the opinion of General M`Dougall's Committee that the Militia was not a force to be relied on for foreign service. It was said that the regular Staff of the Militia being merged in the local depots, recruiting was carried on side by side with the Re- gular Army, and that the Militia officers were anxious to pass their men on to it. But those officers were animated by an esprit de corps as well as the Regulars, and passed their worst men instead of the best, and the system, at all events, was a very expensive mode of-recruiting the Regular Army. He hoped when the scheme was perfected the Militia would be gradually reduced to zero, leaving solely the Regular Army and the Reserves to be relied upon. He would now say a few words with regard to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler). That Motion was of a very grave and serious character. Looking to the general impatience of taxation—to the demands for the repeal of the income tax and the malt tax, and to the scramble for Imperial grants for local taxation—there was a great inclination on the part of hon. Members to make it comfortable all round to their constituents, and vote for a reduction of the establishments. If it were only a question of economy, he would be inclined to go into the lobby with his hon. Friend; but the real question was, what was necessary for the defence of the country and the maintenance of its interests in every part of the globe. These Estimates were not prepared with the view of putting this country in a position to compete with continental armies. The hon. Member for Cambridge was wrong in comparing the Estimates of this year with the expenditure in the early part of the century. Since the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny, Parliament had deliberately adopted a different policy, and that was the difficulty which the hon. Member had to face. In 1818 they had about 120,000 men of all ranks, including India, and in 1853 they had only increased to 150,000. But from that time —the year preceding the outbreak of the Crimean War—till 1870 they had between 180,000 and 200,000 men on their establishments, including India. He might mention that Lord Sandhurst, in the evidence which he gave before the Select Committee last year on the Euphrates Valley Railway scheme, had expressed his firm opinion that, with the view of making the Government of India capable of coping with any sudden emergency in that country, the number of British troops garrisoned in India should never be reduced below the figure of 70,000 men. They had at present 63,000 men in India, and 95,000 men at home, and it was now proposed to reduce the home establishment by 10,000. The mere fact that they had withdrawn troops from the colonies was no reason for reducing their force, for when they had considerable bodies of troops in the colonies they were available for service in every part of the globe. With regard to the state of Europe, he would only recall to the hon. Gentleman that before the war of 1870 the Foreign Office stated that never was the political horizon more peaceful. They knew how correct that opinion was, and he would remind them also that a few weeks ago the country was excessively anxious as to its relations with Russia. Their Infantry was now much the same as in 1870; the increase was in their trained forces—the Artillery and the Engineers; and he would ask any hon. Member whether he would vote for a reduction of these branches of the service. That economy was very questionable which spent time and trouble in adapting an elaborate machine to its purposes, and then threw it away as useless because they must incur expenditure in keeping it in repair. Considering that they had only got a Reserve of 7,000 men, he did not think they had a man too many in the Army.


said, he thought that the reduction in the Army of India from 70,000 to 63,000 men was due not to military, but financial reasons.


remarked that the saving on the Army Estimates, on which the right hon. Gentleman congratulated himself, was counterbalanced by the increased expenditure on our naval force. A few years ago the Secretary of State for War boasted that he had saved upwards of £2,000,000 on the Army Estimates, as compared with the previous Administration, and he asked whether that reduction of expenditure was attended by a diminution of efficiency. Before the right hon. Gentleman sat down he clearly proved his case that the efficiency of the Army had not been diminished. The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion told the House that the Army was adequate for all purposes, and he spoke of the evil of having a large number of troops unemployed at home. On the breaking out of the Franco- German War a force of 135,000 was asked for, and that force was provided for in the Estimates for the following year. He (Mr. Pease) and many others protested against so large a force, and the Prime Minister explained that the then state of things required that we should have a large Army. The Estimates for 1871–72, it was said, were only transition Estimates; but it would now appear that the transition was to go on while generations of men were passing away. In his opinion there was a discrepancy between the Estimates presented by the Government now and those presented in 1870. The Government had given the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt) a Committee to inquire into the civil expenditure of the country; but the hon. and learned Member must have felt that when he asked for bread he had received, if not a stone, a crust, from which he would get very little nourishment. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) said the increase in the price of various articles had raised his Estimates by £500,000. He gave him credit for that, but He warned him two years ago that he must prepare for an increase of Estimates owing to the rise in the cost of labour and the cost of articles. Of what avail were the reorganization of the Army and the abolition of purchase, if the expenditure on the Army was not to be reduced? What was the use of a policy of arbitration, if it was to be kept up by a policy of large military expenditure? That recruiting had been almost a failure he attributed mainly to the high price of labour and the low wages paid in the Army. A large Army in time of peace was a great evil, and he would gladly vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridge.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Pease.)

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Question again proposed, That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 118,968, 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."—(Mr. William Fowler.)


moved that the Chairman should report Progress.


said, he would not oppose the Motion.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Sir John Pakington.)

The Committee divided: —Ayes 159; Noes 33: Majority 126.

House resumed

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.