HC Deb 11 July 1873 vol 217 cc229-63

in rising to call attention to the military policy of the Government, more especially as regarded the new Volunteer Regulations, and their effect upon the numbers and efficiency of the force, and to move, That it is expedient that inquiry should be made into the present state of the Volunteer force, and into the causes that have led to the resignations of over 2.000 officers' commissions, which are still vacant. said, that he was fully sensible of the bold though, to his mind, necessary position which he had taken up by committing himself to the words of the Motion. But he made it with the conviction, right or wrong, that he was fulfilling a duty which he should, as an old soldier and. a Volunteer commanding officer be neglecting if he did not make it. There were two distinct questions embodied in the Motion—the one was the policy of the Government with respect to the Army and the Reserve forces; and the other was its policy with respect to the great Auxiliary or Volunteer force of the country. It was his intention, beyond offering a few brief remarks, to leave the Army question to his noble Friend the Member for Had-dingtonshire, and to address himself to the Volunteer question as his special subject. He asserted that the condition of the Army was by no means satisfactory—for reasons which he would briefly give. A great and bold re-organization scheme had, no doubt, been inaugurated, and was on its trial, and, as one would suppose, it should, in justice to its promoters, and on principle, be patiently and considerately watched and criticized. But military opinion had decided that it was far too sweeping, too revolutionary, and too hazardous, in the violent and rapid changes of system which it had effected, to be acceptable as a safe or wise policy, especially as it had been pressed on in direct opposition to a large majority of the leading military men of the day. Lot them look at the conse- quences which were already the result of that policy—results which were fraught with considerable risk to the efficiency of the Army as a fighting body. In the first place, there was great discontent amongst the officers of the Army consequent upon the abolition of the purchase system and its unpalatable results, together with various other ill-judged innovations of a jarring nature—a discontent which had placed them in an unfair and undignified position, as officers who were under the discipline of the Mutiny Act, so much so that more than 2,000 had found it expedient to memorialize the Commander-in-Chief against the invidious and financially unjust position in which they found themselves placed; by which means they had placed His Royal Highness in an embarrassing position, as the friend of the Army and the officers who were serving in it. In the second place, the recruiting for the Army was in a deplorable plight, consequent on the service having ceased to be a bonâ fide profession for the soldier, owing to the short service system now in operation, which had all the bitters of the engagement, but none of the sweets, and which, therefore, offered no inducement worth having for any man to enlist, added to which, the high price of the labour market stood prominently forward in its competition against the military service of the country, upon the present system; the result of which was that, as a rule, the most inferior specimens of human physique were gradually taking the place of those able-bodied soldiers of the old régime who were the glory and pride of England. And in the third place, the capacity and power of the control department, which was the mainspring of the great military machinery of the nation, and which was responsible for the health and condition of the Army, was not making that progress in its efficiency so as to command confidence in the minds of military men who were working under it. His argument was, therefore, that the Army of England was in an unsatisfactory condition, notwithstanding that 15 or 16 millions of money were annually expended upon it. He would now pass on to that part of the Motion which related to the Volunteer Service. He said that was also an important subject, touching, as it would do, the position and character of a great national institution; and although the view which he might take would no doubt invite strong criticism, for which he was prepared, it should not be the less interesting to the minds of those hon. Members who had been for some years identified with the great cause of national defence—a cause which was still, he thought, entitled to the respect and anxious consideration of the country. Now, it was not his intention to make a factious attack on the policy which Her Majesty's Government had thought proper to adopt with respect to the Volunteer Service of the country, nor to charge the nation with any intentional apathy as to its present and future position; nor did he intend to travel in detail over that once interesting ground upon which the starting-post of national training to arms was fixed in 1859—his intention was to criticize the result which that policy had had upon the Volunteer Service generally, as well as upon the present position and condition of the commissioned officers, which, for reasons which he would give, seemed to have become in the first instance irksome and difficult, and in the second instance invidious, discouraging, and therefore discontented; and he did so, not from any party feeling in the matter—far from it; but as a timely warning from one who was deeply interested in, and anxious for, the welfare of what had been so often described to be one of the most remarkable institutions of modern times. It was also his intention to suggest the antidote to the mistaken treatment which had been administered to the Volunteer Service, and which had already sown the seeds of discomfiture and prospective dissolution. Now, with respect to the position of the officers, it might be in the recollection of the House that he asked for a Return a few weeks ago of the number of vacant commissions at that particular time, and he did so in order to compare it with the Return which the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire had previously called for, and received. The noble Lord's Return exhibited no less than 2,233 vacant commissions, and the Return furnished at his (Colonel Lindsay's request, exhibited—not a decrease, as one would have hoped—but an increase of five up to the 1st of May, and he had reason to believe that there was a grand approximate total of over 2,300 up to the present time. Now, to anyone who had served as a regimental officer in the Army, and who knew, and was able to appreciate, the great importance that company officers were to the healthy condition and discipline of their men, such a Return as that to which he had alluded was, to say the least of it, somewhat alarming in its relation to the Volunteer Service, and it was one which obviously demanded the serious attention of Her Majesty's Government. There was no disputing the fact that there had been, and still was, a singular want of attraction in the once-coveted officers' commissions in the Volunteer Service, and especially since the new Regulations were brought into operation, and which had been periodically supplemented by increased stringencies; and when he asked himself, as a commanding officer, what were the causes of the retirement of so ninny of the officers, and why so many commissions were going a-begging, his answer could only be an echo of that opinion which he had so often expressed in and out of the House, and it was this —in the first place, he said it was a disregard, unintentional no doubt, of that independent and patriotic element peculiar to a voluntary undertaking, which created, characterized, and maintained in vigour the Volunteer movement in its early days, and which, from the nature of its constitution, was not calculated to thrive under any undue military pressure in time of peace; and in the second place, owing to what seemed to him to be a want of judgment in dealing with a Service which, though loyal and patriotic in the highest degree, was unable, from its very composition, to comply satisfactorily with the demands that were now made upon it. Now, in his opinion, there were numerous causes which had had, and still had, a deterrent effect upon that most important branch of regimental machinery—the commissioned officers, who, be it remembered, were holding Queen's commissions, and therefore in the same position as the officers of the Regular Army, the Militia, and the Yeomanry. He would mention three causes by way of example—1st, the unequal position and status which Volunteer officers now held in comparison with the Militia and Yeomanry; 2ndly, the system of examination for the officers; and 3rdly, the hard-and-fast line which had been drawn in respect to the attendance of Volun- teers at battalion and company drill. Now with respect to the first cause, he was, he confessed, not surprised at the dissatisfaction which was felt by those officers at the manner in which their position and privileges as "Queen's officers" had been, and still were, ignored, but which were granted to the Militia and Yeomanry officers; and it was the more apparent now that those three services were by Royal Warrant consolidated and placed in one and the same schedule. He alluded, for instance, to the officers of the Volunteer Service being denied the privilege of presentation at Court, being Queen's officers, when the officers of the other services were granted that privilege. He did not imagine that many would take advantage of what from their present position should be their privilege, as holding Queen's commissions, when their social position, as they were aware, would not otherwise frank them. The right hon. Gentleman had, he knew not why, except to complete his "harmonious whole," converted all Volunteer officers' commissions into Queen's, and as soon as he did so, he stultified his appointments by class legislation, which was impala-table to officers holding Queen's commissions. Then, again, let him point out how the relative position and status of Volunteer officers had been rendered invidious and unjust in other ways:—for instance, with respect to honorary rank on retirement after a given number of years; for, according to Clause 30 of the Circular, dated April 21, 1873, field officers, captains, and lieutenants of the Militia were to be granted that privilege on a sliding scale, but no allusion whatever was made even to commanding officers of Volunteers and other officers. He wished, therefore, to know, had the right hon. Gentleman no such acknowledgment to offer to those who had been for years devoting themselves to the responsible duties they had undertaken? Were they to be allowed to retire from their respective commands and be forgotten as if they had never existed? He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would afford some information upon the subject. With respect to the second cause for discouragement—namely, the system of examinations for the officers—he would read the 43rd paragraph of Clause 9 of the Circular of 28th May, 1872, which was as follows:— Every officer, on first appointment to a commission or on promotion, will be required, within one year of his appointment or promotion, to be examined for a certificate of proficiency for the rank to which he is appointed or promoted. Every officer now serving—with the exception of lieutenant-colonels, appointed as such before the 1st January, 1871, and favourably reported upon by the Inspecting Officer—who is not in possession of such certificate, will be required to obtain it previous to the day of inspection in 1874. Officers who fail in obtaining certificates must again be examined within six months, and in the event of a second failure will be called upon to resign. Now, he happened to know that the doubt and uncertainty which hung over a Volunteer officer's head as soon as he had been selected, with care and some difficulty, for a commission, as to whether he would be able to retain it or not, pending the examination he had to pass, according to the above Regulation, had a deterrent effect. He alluded to the probationary period of 12 months or so, by which time he must pass through what he might call the toll-bar of an unnecessary form of probation. Now he did not, by any means, object to the examination of Volunteer officers, but he did to the compulsory system and form upon which it was conducted. He objected to the system because, with men of business—from which class, as a rule, they must be drawn—it was harassing, comparatively useless, and technical, requiring as it did, a knowledge which, except in isolated instances, could only be superficial, owing to the want of practice; and it was endeavouring to make bonâ fide civilians into quasi- soldiers, and to gain an end which was out of all proportion to the means. It might be all very well to say that there was nothing in the character of the examinations that should be alarming to the most moderate capacity. That was not, and must not be, the question. It was the principle of forcing men, who had other and more important occupations to attend to, through an unnecessary ordeal. And all for what? In order that the right hon. Gentleman might bring every man who bore arms—Volunteers included—within the magic circle of his ''harmonious whole," which, in the case of Volunteers, was contrary to the object and intention of their existence. He (Colonel Lindsay) did not object to regimental examinations, which would be quite sufficient for the purpose; but he did object to the system which placed an aspiring young officer in a false position for a considerable time after he had been "gazetted." It was, as it were, putting the cart before the horse, by giving him his commission, and then trying him for the life of it. It would be almost better to examine him when a candidate, and confirm the appointment according to merit. He thought that there was only one course to adopt, and that was that every Volunteer, on receiving his commission, should be required at once to attach himself to a regiment of the Regular Army for at least a month, or to the Militia when out for training, receiving a certificate from the commanding officer and adjutant that he had regularly attended the necessary drills, which would be amply sufficient for the purpose, considering that when he returned to his regiment he had his own commanding officer, adjutant, and sergeant-instructor to assist his memory when necessary. Now these things had not been rendered more pleasant by two special Circulars which had been issued last month, which appeared only to add to the stringency —for one dated May 27 directed that all sub-lieutenants appointed since May 31 were to receive "probationary commissions" which were to last for two years—and the second discouraged the appointment of officers from the lower ranks by the commanding officer, for the select men were only "probationary" until they had passed a certain examination. Now, he said these were additional instances of arbitrary control, and consequent causes for discontent and discouragement. The right hon. Gentleman must not be led away by the zeal that was displayed last year, when 11,582 officers and sergeants went in and passed their examinations in a creditable manner. It, no doubt, exhibited a healthy spirit; but it was an effort not likely to be kept up by men of business. Then, the third cause for discontent applied to the men as well as the officers. It was that hard-and-fast line which had been drawn through the battalion and company-drill system; the effect of which would be to punish the majority present for the absence of the minority, which was contrary to the spirit of the Volunteer Service. It was not the actual figure of the line, which was moderate enough, but it was the imposition of any figure at all, and the penalties that accompanied it, as being arbitrary and unnecessary. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman was not aware how unpalatable such a rule was to men of business who were serving the country gratuitously. He objected also to the rule, because it tended to the abandonment of that continuous and independent system of drill which was so peculiarly convenient to men of business, who could only get away from their employments at uncertain times. And now, having stated what he considered to be some of the principal causes of so many vacant commissions in the Volunteer Service, he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman for a remedy. He asked him for an opinion, and he respectfully submitted that upon that opinion would probably depend the future condition of the Service, as well as the position of many of the commanding officers who were not prepared or inclined to continue upon a system which was depriving the Service of its officers—that was, of officers who should be men of influence and example and who would not accept commissions upon the present terms of the War Office. If the right hon. Gentleman knew how many considerations were necessary in the selection and training of the officers to a sufficient average of efficiency, and if he knew how much the establishment of a company was kept up by the local influence, popularity, and activity of the officers, he would not have used his official screw-driver so freely, and he would surely have paid more deference to the experience and knowledge of those commanding officers before he trod upon ground which was rapidly becoming what he might call the quicksands of the Volunteer movement. There were other causes for discontent amongst the rank and file as well as the officers, but with which he would not trouble the House beyond two or three passing allusions—causes which could be so easily removed, and with advantage to the service. For instance, why should attendance at reviews be excluded for the qualification from efficiency, when everyone knew that there was just as much instruction to be gained as at brigade-drill—and certainly a great deal more than at those ridiculous exhibitions in Hyde Park, which were rendered valueless by the previous and undisturbed occupation of the necessary ground by the British public, who would willingly be guided by any instructions that were authoritatively given to them? Such an exclusion from efficiency qualification was directly opposed to the opinion of General Ellice, whose Report the right hon. Gentleman had decided to stand by, in answer to a Question lately put to him by the noble Lord the Member for Had-dingtonshire. And these were General Ellice's words— That all concentrations of Volunteers, under competent officers, should be encouraged; merely marching in large bodies, and taking up position imparts useful information. That extraordinary decision had broken down the Easter Monday Reviews, and done infinite mischief to the Metropolitan Volunteers. It had also broken clown the Whit-Monday Review, and very nearly broken down the Wimbledon Review, which had ceased to be popular among the Volunteers, and would cease to take place, unless some inducement was given them to attend. Then, again, why should attendance at the Autumn Manœeuvres of last year have been rendered all but impossible to Volunteers by a sine quâ non of a fortnight's or 16 days' presence for every man, instead of a week at a time, with proper relief; as was the case in 1871, when no less than 5,000 men were able to take advantage of the instruction of which many more would have gladly availed themselves had they been allowed? It was true a concession had been made that year by reducing the compulsory attendance to eight days, and they were obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for returning to the arrangements of 1871; but they could put no reliance upon such an arrangement being a fixed one, from the experience they had had. Then, again, why should another sine quâ non, as to efficiency, of firing 10 rounds of blank ammunition be imposed, the accidental non-performance of which might disqualify a man who had drilled to the mark, and fired through his class, with that exception? It sounded a small matter, but it was a hard-and-fast line, and therefore harassing to men of business, who would willingly conform if they could. And, why should the £1 efficient be abolished which had worked so well in the early days of the movement? It had told hardly upon many valuable men and supporters of their corps, who were constant at their drill, but whose occupations prevented them from going to the butts every year, and. the consequence was that they had been obliged to leave the Service. And let him ask, why should the adjutants, who were the commanding officers' right-hand and confidential men, be appointed by the War Office, and not as they used to be, upon the selection and recommendation of the commanding officers? Such a regulation was an interference with the commanding officers' necessary privilege, and highly distasteful; for it must be borne in mind that smartness and a thorough knowledge of drill were by no means the only attributes or qualifications necessary for such important appointments. And while he was upon the subject of the adjutants, he was glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman had decided that the adjutants who were appointed previous to 1871 were to receive a step of rank on retirement; the adjutant of the Inns of Court Volunteers, who retired last year, after having served since the formation of the corps, having been given the honorary rank of major, with permission to wear the uniform. They felt, however, that the scale of retiring allowances was a wretched one, being scarcely in excess of the wages of a daily labourer; also that it should be based on length of service, irrespective of ago and other causes. Then the case of the contingent allowance was, naturally, a sore subject with the adjutants; an allowance that had been issued to them for 13 years as a supplement to their inadequate pay; and it had been discontinued without any warning or compensation. Now, as that allowance was granted in 1861 to cover contingent expenses in connection with War Office correspondence, at the rate of £4 per company, and at the same time to give a balance to the adjutant as an addition to his means, the withdrawal of it was unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman, and was unjust to a body of officers whose services were far more valuable than their pay and allowances. Then the medical attendance upon the adjutant was a farce which he endeavoured to expose last year, for no medical man in private practice would accept the consideration of 2d. per week, except out of generosity; so that the adjutants had virtually to pay for their medical advice, which was hard, considering that by the 40th clause of the last Circular, they lost all their allowance and half their pay if they were on the sick-list beyond six months. He believed that the noble Lord the Member for Berwick (Viscount Bury) had made several communications on the subject to the right hon. Gentleman without receiving any reply up to that moment. He hoped, however, that he would take the case of the adjutants into his consideration. In his (Colonel Lindsay's) opinion it would have been better to have left what was well alone, and abided by the recommendations of the Royal Commission, which were fully confirmed and accepted as far back as 1863. The hon. and gallant Member proceeded to read extracts from speeches of the Marquess of Hartington, Lord Palmerston, and the present Prime Minister, speaking in terms of the highest praise of the patriotic spirit which had given rise to the Volunteer movement, and of the spirit, energy, and discipline of the force—and then proceeded—Well, that being the undeniable opinion of these statesmen, he (Colonel Lindsay) would repeat his remark, '' Leave well alone," and give the Service a helping hand over the stile, instead of throwing obstacles in the path that led to it—obstacles such as were contained in the numerous Circulars or Codes of Regulations, which since 1870 embraced no less than 77 clauses and 317 paragraphs, with reference solely to the unfortunate Volunteer Service upon which they were imposed. If the force was worth maintaining, let it be maintained with an ungrudging hand. If it was not, abolish it with Parliamentary dignity, until the country required its services. But it must be borne in mind that away would go all those clinging and depending particles and off springs which had rendered the movement so remarkable, significant, and sound. But in the meantime it would be an unwise policy to throw cold water upon the fire of patriotism and extinguish it, for, when once out, not even the fascinating crack of the rifle, which was now resounding from morning till night at Wimbledon, would be able to rekindle it. If, therefore, it was expedient to preserve the movement, what had worked so well should be left alone. But it was only driving a willing horse to death by endeavouring to play the false game of making professional civilians into soldiers. He might be told that that was all very fine, but the Volunteers drew a capitation grant from the country, and that the country must have a quid pro quo; it must, in short, have the pound of flesh. He sincerely trusted that no such ungenerous sentiment might be flung in the faces of men who were not only serving their country gratuitously, but who, from the fact of their being in existence, had engaged to be the first to sacrifice their lives in defence of their country whenever she might be invaded, and which was, in all conscience, a sufficient quid pro quo. He now approached what he considered a very questionable policy on the part of Her Majesty's Government, and one which might have a prejudicial effect upon the interests of the Army. He alluded to the announcement contained in the heading of the last Auxiliary and Reserve Forces Circular of April 21st, 1873—namely— That it is deemed expedient that the several corps of Rifle Volunteers should be attached to and form part of the Army in the 'United Kingdom. Now, that was the dangerous policy, against the chances of which the Commander-in-Chief himself and many other important personages had, some years back, declared their opinion; and now it had been adopted by the present Government—the effect of which would be to place the Army and the Volunteers in a false position with each other. It would act as a deception as far as the public and the Army were concerned, and it would be prejudicial to the Volunteer Service; the public, because it would tend to mislead the country as to the real and available strength of the Army; the Army, because of the following remarkable condition, or limitation attached to the Order, which was as follows:— That no persons belonging to the Volunteers shall be required to serve in other manner than that in which he might have been required to serve, or shall be liable to any greater punishment than that to which he might have been subjected if this Order had not been made, which appeared to him to be nothing more or less than what is called in military phraseology an "As you were!" and therefore a nullification, or stultification of the Order, which by Act of Parliament was impossible; and it would be prejudicial to the Volunteer Service, because it would tend to disturb the character of the movement, and impose upon it obligations, which were never intended for an unembodied force, whose character was purely voluntary. He objected to that policy, because it morally gave a fictitious or paper credit to the Army in the eyes of the public, of some 160,000 men more than it actually possessed, or could rely upon for any purpose, but the actual defence of the country against foreign invasion, and he objected to it because it trod upon the interests of the Army by affording the peace-at-any-price party and the taxpayer a plausible excuse to keep down its numerical strength, by reckoning the Volunteers being an armed force, as a convenient though shadowy substitute for any deficiencies that might, and undoubtedly would, be found in the muster-roll of the Army. It trod also upon the interests of the Army, because there was no doubt that if the Volunteers were disbanded the strength of the Army would have to be increased as well as the pay of the soldier. But as long as it existed as a plausible portion of the Army, which that Order deceptively made it out to be, the House of Commons would be very both to vote a penny more in that direction. That being so, it would have been better if the Volunteer Service had never existed, and the sooner it was abolished the better. Now, to briefly sum up his argument; ten years had elapsed since the Royal Commission recommended the Capitation Grant, and for six years it had been doled out with a grudging feeling, and every obstacle had been thrown in the way of its cheerful payment. Conflicting and unpalatable Regulations had been imposed during the last three years. Volunteer officers' commissions had been converted into Queen's, as in the Army, but their privileges and position were denied them; and now that purchase had been abolished, there could with justice be no difference between them, except that the Army was paid, and the Volunteers were not; and as a climax, the Volunteers were announced to form a part of the Army! which was a pretentious fiction, because it could not be a substantial fact—and this was the result of 14 years hard labour upon the treadmill a national defence. Was it, therefore, to be wondered at that discontent pervaded the Service? If he sat down then, the right hon. Gentleman would naturally say that he had made all sorts of complaints, but had offered no suggestions for future guidance. He could not act in that way. But he would make the following suggestions, and then sit down. He would say, let the Volunteers work out their own efficiency as they used to in 1862–3, and for several years after, when it was declared, by those distinguished persons whose opinions he had quoted, to be amply sufficient for the object in view. Let the standard of efficiency be tested by reasonable results, and not by arbitrary rules. Let the annual inspection be the test of regimental efficiency, and be reasonably and impartially conducted by Staff officers employed for that purpose, and not by this officer, and that officer, simply because he held a certain rank. Let the Volunteer Service have its own Inspector General, especially appointed to look after it, as was formerly the case, and which worked so well; for it was impossible for any man to embrace the necessary management of a special Service, like the Volunteers, in conjunction with other Services, which were totally distinct in every sense of the word. He believed if any officer could do the work of two or three, it was his own brother, the Inspector General. But as he was confined to his official cell all day, and every day, and unable to travel, he was helpless. The visits of the Inspector General were events which were popular, and made much of, which did good, and kept up esprit and interest. Well, that was given up, and everything had become flat. Then, he said, let every Volunteer who had been a first-class efficient for three years in succession be qualified for the Capitation Grant during the remainder of his service, provided that he attended the annual inspection and one brigade drill, one battalion drill, and one company drill during the year. Let the hard-and-fast line with its impossible penalties, be abandoned. Let the Boards of Examination be optional, and not compulsory; and let efficient Volunteers have distinctive privileges as citizens under arms for the defence of their country. Upon that system he, for one, would be ready and willing to bear his share as a commanding officer; but unless the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to slacken the reins, which he had drawn so tight, he confessed that he did not see his way. But if he was anxious, as he believed he was, for the prosperity of the Volunteer Service, let him bear in mind that the healthy and contented condition of the officers was paramountly necessary to efficiency and discipline, and that as long as they continued to hold Queen's commissions they could only be measured by one gauge, and that was by the standard to which they had been raised as Queen's officers, which knew no difference between an officer and a gentleman, and with all the privileges of a gentleman as long as he behaved as one. In conclusion, he maintained that every Government had a responsible duty to perform with respect to that exceptional service as long as it was acceptable to the nation who demanded and therefore created it; and as it was handed over to the guardianship of the present Government as a national charge, when it came into office, it should bear in mind that there were too many important elements, the vitality of which must depend upon the healthy and contented condition and magnitude of the Service, to be lightly or unadvisedly treated by a policy which was obviously unsuited to its character and object. In the first place, the science and art of rifle-shooting was the offspring of the Volunteer movement; and the National Rifle Association, with its gigantic plant and machinery, depended solely upon the condition of the Volunteer Service; and he questioned whether, on reflection, the nation would be willing to part with or risk its present high position by any mistaken policy towards the parent institution; and, in the second place, the opportunity which the Volunteer Service afforded for the continuous training to arms of men who would otherwise not be trained at all, was an important element not to be thrown away, which also depended upon the maintenance of the Service and its admirably organized machinery. He therefore respectfully warned Her Majesty's Government and the right hon. Gentleman who represented it at the War Office, that, in the event of the Volunteer Service breaking down and fading away, the responsibility must rest with the Government that took charge of it in a prosperous and contented state, and not with the commanding officers, who had always fulfilled the trust that was placed in them, and done their best to carry out the original object and intention of the movement, and who, in its early days, received the confidence of the leading statesmen of the country. He had now stated his opinion as to the causes of discontent, and he had suggested the remedies which would remove them, and in doing so, his object had been to record his opinion upon the policy of the Government, and to stem the current of apathy which that mistaken policy had created, and which appeared to have set in throughout the country—an apathy which was calculated to wipe away the foot-prints of a great national cause, which at one time were pointed in the right direction, but which might yet be brought back to the path upon which they started, and which had at one time gained the admiration of Europe and the approval of an anxious and grateful country.


in seconding the Resolution, complimented the hon. and gallant Member on the great public service he had done in bringing the subject before the House. He was glad that the form of the hon. and gallant Member's Motion would enable him to call their attention to the general military policy of Her Majesty's Government. There were two kinds of military policy—a successful and an unsuccessful one. A successful military policy meant safety at home, and the integrity, honour, and independence of the Empire at large; and to these all other considerations were absolutely secondary. Germany afforded an instance of a successful, and France of an unsuccessful, military policy; and the question we had to consider was, whether our military policy most resembled that of Germany or of France. We had to inquire whether our Secretary of State for War most resembled a Bismarck or an Ollivier, and our Commander-in-Chief a Von Moltke or a Lebœeuf. He fully admitted the excellent intentions of the Secretary of State for War, who was most anxious to combine efficiency with economy; and he begged to thank him for strengthening the Artillery and for having established a system of Manoœuvres. He would now give shortly what he believed to be the official view of the policy of the Government. If they were to rely on the dicta of official persons, the Army was at present in a most efficient condition; and that the new organization had been carried out in the most economical manner, and upon a right principle. Certainly the Artillery had been rendered a most efficient and superior Force, but the officials went further, and stated that when the present Government came into power, the Army was the slave of the officers; that they therefore had to purchase it hack, and that that had been done in a spirit of justice and generosity. They contended that the officers were not adequately educated for military purposes, and that in future they would be highly trained like the Prussian officers. They stated that the Reserves did not exist, that pensions which were most expensive had been abolished, and that they had established a satisfactory system of short service without pensions. They maintained further, to use the words of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War, that the Estimates were based on "moderation and efficiency." Thus much with regard to the Army. As regarded the Auxiliary Forces, the official view was that they were in a satisfactory and reliable condition, and that a "harmonious whole" had been created out of the various branches of the Services, and an efficient system of local organization called into existence. That was, he thought, a fair statement of the official view on the subject of Army Reform. He came, in the next place, to the non-official view—that of men who were practical soldiers and who were not in office. They contended that it was quite needless to abolish purchase, and that in abolishing it the Government had acted harshly and ungenerously towards the officers. They added that the officers were the only sound part of our military system, and that it was in reference to the Reserves and the men that the great difficulty arose. They said that the purchase money had been wasted; and that while that was done, the esprit de corps, which was so strong in the British Army, had been to a great extent destroyed. They further observed that the result of the policy which had been pursued was that great discontent and dissatisfaction prevailed in all ranks; that the opinions of practical military men wore ignored; that the system of short service and no pensions had turned out to be a failure; that the general system of enlistment was hated by the soldier; and that the recruiting was not in a satisfactory state. They added that the Army was at pre- sent in a thoroughly unsatisfactory condition, and that as far as efficiency was concerned, it was in a better position 20 years ago. They stated in reference to the Militia, that it was insufficiently trained; that the Yeomanry as a cavalry fit to meet cavalry was comparatively worthless; and that the Volunteers as they were—and he cordially agreed with them—were almost useless. They asserted that the harmonious whole, which was said to be established, was a matter rather of name than of reality, and that our military system generally rested on no sound foundation. Those were the two sets of views in the country, and in dealing with them it became necessary to appeal to facts, for the question was one, he admitted, into which politics ought not to be allowed to enter, and such was not only his opinion, but that of the officers of the Army with whom he had come in contact. The facts, however, were not easily got at. Even Parliamentary Returns—though he wished to make no accusation whatever on that ground against his right hon. Friend—were not always to he relied on. As an instance of the difficulty of ascertaining facts, he might mention, as he had mentioned before, that it was said the divisional generals had reported unfavourably of the Control department at the late Autumn Manœuvres, and that the Report which was presented, bearing the signature of the Commander-in-Chief, was not the original, but an amended Report, and did not give the view which had been first formed by His Royal Highness on the subject. That was a very grave matter, if it was true that the real opinions of the commanding officers could not be got at; and, if not true, the impression was one which ought as soon as possible to be removed. But to come to the facts; was it or was it not true, he should like to know, that discontent prevailed throughout the Army, both with regard to officers and men, and that the system of short service and recruiting was not working well? He ventured to say that very great discontent existed among the officers of the Army owing to the way in which they had been treated. That could hardly be disputed by anyone who looked into the Return which had been moved for by the Duke of Richmond in "another place." The first form of Petition which the officers had thought of was deemed to be informal, and subsequently, with the full sanction of the Commander-in-Chief, another mode of procedure was suggested. The result was, that 2,245 officers had signed a Memorial for the redress of their grievances, and he was informed that the total number would have been 2,840 if the names of those on leave, holding Staff appointments, or who could not for other reasons sign it, were taken into account. The strongest point of the case, however, was that the Memorial was accompanied by a letter from Sir Hope Grant, who urged the necessity of an investigation by means of a Royal Commission, in order to enable the officers to state their grievances. General Greathed, too, pointed out a point on which the officers did not touch, and that was that they were removed from one regiment to another regardless of their wishes. Those facts showed that if they said they had abolished purchase generously and justly, at all events they had not done it to the satisfaction of the officers and all he asked was that an opportunity should be given the officers of stating their grievances before an impartial tribunal. He regretted that there was not at that moment addressing the House instead of himself on that point an officer infinitely better qualified to speak upon it—namely, his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lich-field (Colonel Anson)—an officer to whom in a great measure the public was indebted for the position in which that public question now stood, and one who by his energy, ability, tact, and judgment had brought it about that in the leading journal of that morning there was an article stating that that question could not be left where it Gras, and that the Government were bound to issue an inquiry into it. He only hoped when such a Motion was made, it would be conceded, and that as regarded the officers there would be no ground left for that festering discontent which was so injurious to an Army. Another matter as to the position of the officers was the uncertainty they felt with regard to the system of promotion and retirement. He had himself asked the right hon. Gentleman in the early part of the Session whether he had prepared the scheme of promotion and retirement which he promised in 1871, and which he told them was being elaborated by able and eminent officers. The perpetual burden of the song of those who opposed the right hon. Gentleman's Bill was—"Before you sweep away what exists, tell us what you mean to put in its place. What is your system of retirement to be?" And they never could get an answer to that question. On referring to the record of their debates in 1871, he found that the right hon. Gentleman said that the matter was still being considered by some of the most eminent officers of the Army, mentioning Lord Sandhurst as one of them. Again, the right hon. Gentleman, alluding to an excellent suggestion made by the hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) as to junior officers, said— It would receive attention at the hands of eminent men then preparing the rule by which the system of selection should be guided."— [3 Hansard, ccv. 296.]


explained that when he was questioned on a former occasion about a scheme, he understood a scheme of retirement was meant. The quotations now being made by the noble Lord referred to rules of promotion—a totally different matter.


thought it unfortunate there should be such a discrepancy between the right hon. Gentleman's impression and his own. He and those who had acted with him wished to stop the progress of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill until the Government laid on the Table the very scheme of promotion and retirement which those eminent men were at that moment elaborating. But he now passed from the question of the officers to that of the men. Dissatisfaction existed also among the sergeants, non-commissioned officers, and the lower ranks of the Army, because, seeing the way in which the upper ranks were treated, they thought that bad treatment might descend to their level likewise. He did not say that that distrust was justified, but it existed. The colonel of a regiment at Edinburgh asked his coachman, an old soldier, why men of 15 years' service were leaving the regiment, and the answer he received was, that they were disgusted with what was being done, and were afraid—such was the chopping and changing going on with reference to enlistment and to pensions—that they might have their pensions diminished or taken away. Of course, that might be a wrong impression, but it induced the men to leave. Again, men on furlough found they did not benefit by the increased pay through the loss of rations. Further, the men complained of having to enlist for general service during the first 15 months of their service, instead of to join a particular regiment. The result of all that was that, instead of getting a thoroughly sound system of Reserves and admirable recruits, he found that desertions had gone on steadily increasing from 3,171 in 1870 to 4,553 in 1871, and 5,861 in 1872; and so far from the Army being 2,000 men over its strength, as stated in "another place" by the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for War, it was in reality reduced by 8,000 soldiers. He would now turn to the recruiting and the Reserves, and see the class of men they got. According to a Return on the Table they had during the last 2½ years obtained the following recruits:—Between the ages of 17 and 18, 2,804; between the ages of 18 and 19, 10,093; at 19 years of age, 8,561; and at 21 years of age and over it, 11,632, making a total of 33,090. In the Prussian Service, out of that total only those who were of the age of 20 and upwards, or 11,632, would be deemed fit to be put in the ranks. It was a startling fact, therefore, that of the 33,093, no fewer than 21,958 would be considered unfit, under the Prussian system, to bear arms. Again, of the 13,000 recruits secured annually, only a little over 4,000 were able-bodied men according to the Prussian standard. They had now about 90,000 infantry of the Line, but so long as the system of six years' service continued, 15,000 men, or one-sixth of the whole, would be under 20 years of age, or not worth paying for. More than that, by a decision of that House, no soldier under 20 years of age was eligible to go to India. The result, therefore was, that these 15,000 men borne on the Homo Establishment included not only the United Kingdom, but the garrisoning of Gibraltar, Malta, the Mauritius, Halifax, and, he believed, ports in China. With respect to the Reserves, a noble Duke in "another place" said that they could not be judged of until the year 1876. The noble Duke might have gone further and said that they could not judge of the result of the six years' service system until 1882. In that year, however—taking the casualties at 8 per cent—it would require an annual recruiting at the rate of 13,000 men to give a Reserve of 39,000 men. So much for the state of the Army with reference to the question of Reserves, as shown by the Parliamentary Papers. What, now, was its actual condition? On Monday last a review was held at Aldershot, and it was an occasion on which England, as he might say, put its best leg foremost—the Heir of All the Russias being present. He hoped to have found some one at Aldershot who would say something good for the Army, but he sought such a person in vain. What was the field-state of the regiments on that occasion? There were on parade 9,409 men; in the ranks, 5,392; and the casualties, as they were called, including dismounted cavalry soldiers, were 3,893. The three brigades consisted of 15 regiments, and the average strength of each was 417, including affiliated companies, the actual average strength being only 359. What was the state of the companies as they marched past? In the 1st brigade the files were 26, 19, 26, 25, and 25; in the 3rd, 32, 24, 22, 25, and 25; while in the 2nd brigade they were 21, 21, 17, 13, and 21. If we had an ample and satisfactory system of recruiting that state of things would not be so very unsatisfactory; but, as matters were, no more unsatisfactory condition of the Army could well be conceived than the facts he had stated showed. The regiments were in that condition that if we were suddenly called upon to go to war we should have to denude one regiment for the benefit of another, and they were doing in the Army what had been protested against by the officers of Militia regiments—the volunteering from one regiment to another, as the Militia were allowed to volunteer into the Line. Our cavalry regiments were in the same unsatisfactory state as the infantry. On the occasion he had referred to there were only 1,161 horses in the field, giving an average for four regiments of 290 for each regiment. In fact, greater skeletons of regiments, both of cavalry and infantry, he never saw; though the depots were called in to furnish supports; and all that arose from the shabby manner in which the soldier was dealt with. It was not surprising that, under existing circumstances, there should be frequent changes in the terms of recruiting, nor did he wonder that in May last a longer term of service and the inducement of a pension were offered. He agreed with the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Seely) in what he stated on a former occasion as to the danger of letting loose, after a few years of service, a number of men trained to arms who had to seek the means of livelihood, and, he would add, who entertained feelings of dislike to the State who had had the best years of their life, and then allowed them to pass away unprovided for to any extent or degree. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Derbyshire (Major Wilmot) had told him that such was the effect of the present system, that if he were ordered on service he would rather have six of his old companies as they existed in 1853 than eight companies as they now were. But he might be told the Militia was in a satisfactory condition, and he might be referred to the figures of the Militia as they stood on the Estimates. The strength of the Militia of all ranks was there stated to be 135,234, a very imposing figure, but from which a tenth must be deducted for officers, permanent Staff, and noncommissioned officers. The Militia, however, was short of its establishment by 17,807, so that there were only 117,427 of all ranks enrolled. The Army Reserve of the First Class numbered 7,000 regular soldiers. The Militia Reserve was 31,522; but they were not extra to the Militia Force, and to get at the Militia Force that was available these 31,522 men must be deducted, who did not belong to the Militia, but were only trained with that Force. That left for the Militia of all ranks about 85,905 men. The figures looked well upon Paper, but they were delusive, for instead of 117,427 men being trained that year, only 103,000 were trained, and if the Militia Reserves were deducted from that there would be only 72,000 remaining. The Militia infantry trained this year amounted to 74,957; but the infantry belonging to the Army Militia Reserve numbered 19,118, which left only 55,839 as the actual infantry Militia Force of this country at the present moment. To make the Militia an efficient and reliable Force it was necessary, in the opinion of competent military men, that they should be trained for one year continuously in the ranks, instead of for the present limited period. Would the officials of the War Office, in like manner, say that the Yeomanry were in a satisfactory condition as cavalry? Could they contend, for example, against an equal number of foreign cavalry? He feared that some time would elapse before their desired conversion into mounted rifles could be effected. As to the Volunteers, he had been a member of that Force for 14 years, and he could say for them, that at great personal inconvenience they did their duty as well as they could, and endeavoured to make themselves as efficient as possible. In 1860, when the Force was instituted, it was believed that it could be made so far efficient that when there was any danger of war, it could in the time afforded for preparation make itself thoroughly efficient and reliable—reliable in the sense that if trained to arms, and given a certain amount of organization and discipline, it might have been useful in the event of a foreign invasion. But since 1860 we had learnt some lessons. The events of 1866 and 1870 had shown that with the great Continental Powers it was only a word and a blow. Their military organization was so perfect that they did not want any time for making preparations, and therefore if war came upon us we should have no time to spare for the preparations of our Volunteers. That statement was as applicable to France as to Germany under the new French military system. Well, he asked any of his brother officers whom he saw around him, whether they felt that their regiments were in that position, as regarded efficiency and discipline, that they would be prepared at a fortnight's notice to meet such troops as would be brought against them, if the Volunteers had to tight for the defence of their native land? Having entered into this service in the hope of making his country strong, he had seriously asked himself whether under the circumstances he was justified in remaining in the Force and countenancing an untruth, seeing that the Force was now not what it professed to be, and was not to be trusted to meet in the field the Armies to which he had referred. He was bound to say that he did not regret the fact that there were 2,000 commissions vacant, or that there were 11,000 fewer efficient Volunteers this year than last, and he should even be glad to see a greater decrease next year, because he believed that such an evidence that the Force was slipping through our fingers was necessary in order to open the eyes of the Government and of the nation to the utter hollowness of the military policy which now prevailed in the country. He did not like the idea of leaving a service with which he had long been bound up, and he therefore believed that the Government ought to do all that lay in their power to restore confidence in all branches of the Service, and to do away with the distrust and uncertainty which so greatly tended to diminish recruiting, and they should also endeavour to get the opinions of practical soldiers outside the War Office upon our defensive Forces. The Government, too, should take courage, and instead of beating about the bush, and adopting one expedient after the other, should take the only sound basis upon which an economical military-policy could rest, and that was to impose a military conscription, which was the basis of the military policy of every State in Europe except our own. It should also be borne in mind that, though by a voluntary system of enlistment, coupled with high pay in a deferred form by way of pensions, it was possible at great expense, and if the demand for labour was not great, to keep up an Army at a certain strength, it was not possible to do it by a voluntary system and low pay and no pensions; and such a system, though it might be cheap, was certainly not economical. With regard to a remedy for the existing state of things, the first thing the Government should do was to get the House to pass a Resolution, adopting for the whole Army the principle of enlistment now applied to the Indian Army, to do away with six years' enlistments, and not allow men to enter the Service until they were 20 years of age. He held that every Englishman was bound by the conditions of his existence as a citizen of a free State to be ready to come forward when called upon to take his place not in the Army for foreign service, but in the ranks of the Militia for home defence. That might be an unpopular doctrine with some people, but he held that it was a sound doctrine, and that it was the principle which really existed in the military system, but which the Government had not the courage to apply. That very question of ballot for the Militia was considered at the War Office in 1871. Two Papers were prepared there, and practical men who wore in the confidence of the War Office at that time hoped that the ballot would be adopted, believing as they did that it was the only remedy, and the only sound basis on which our military system could rest. But, instead of applying that principle, the Government resorted to that miserable apology for Army organization—the abolition of purchase. When the Army Bill was introduced it was in two parts—one being for the abolition of purchase and the other being to render the ballot for the Militia more efficient, and to reorganize the system of conscription or ballot for home defence. It would have been well if the Government had then tried that measure, because he really believed, instead of being a harsh system, it might be equally, justly, and mildly applied to all. The right hon. Gentleman, when the Abolition of Purchase Bill was brought forward, said the ballot had failed. But the fact was that it failed only because it had been improperly applied. The right hon. Gentleman also said that Parliament had decided against the ballot for the Militia. For his part, he was not aware that the question had ever been fairly put before Parliament. Whatever might be the opinion of the civilian part of the nation, he felt persuaded that were the best authorities in military matters consulted they would declare unanimously in favour of conscription for the purposes of home defence. Lord Sandhurst had already done so. It was the duty of the Government fairly to test the question. They were not justified in saying that the nation repudiated the first duty of an Englishman—namely, to stand forward, if necessary, in defence of hearth and home, and if they were to put the question to the nation in a practical form, accompanied by the statement that they would not undertake the responsibility of governing the country unless those powers necessary for its safety were given to them, he believed the answer would be one of which this nation might be proud, and that the obligation would be gladly accepted. If the present system had to be tried by the hot hand of war, it would shrivel and collapse, and then the responsibility would rest on the Government for not having had the courage to come forward and propose it.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is expedient that inquiry should be made into the present state of the Volunteer Force, and into the causes that have led to the resignations of over 2,000 Officers' Commissions, which are still vacant,"—(Colonel Charles Lindsay,)

—instead thereof.

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


said, he had listened for one hour and a-half to the noble Lord's speech, which was one which he hardly expected to have heard made on the Motion before the House; but he could scarcely say it came upon him without notice, as he thought he had heard all the arguments frequently before, and had on each occasion endeavoured to reply to them. The noble Lord seemed to have found a policy on which an aspiring Minister might go to the country, and believed in universal conscription without the liberty of procuring substitutes, and that the only persons to be exempted from it should be the Volunteers, and that was to be only for home defence. The policy of the noble Lord would, if carried into effect, leave India, which all who had studied the subject regarded as being our principal military difficulty, and all our foreign possessions, without any reliance upon this great country. He ventured to predict that any Ministry who went to the country upon such a policy as that would meet with no effectual support. The noble Lord admitted that in some respects the Government had improved our Military Forces; that they had doubled the force of our field artillery, and had done something towards increasing the efficiency of the cavalry. It must then be a gratification to the noble Lord to hear that the Government had within the last year made large additions to the supply of horses, and that that branch of the Service was now in a higher state of efficiency than it had been for many years before. The noble Lord had said that the Militia was not in a fit state to immediately compete with the veteran warriors of Germany. That might be so, but he could assure the House that the increase in the amount of training that was given to Militia recruits during the last few years had effected an immense improvement in that great constitutional defensive Force. The noble Lord had complained that the Yeomanry were not equal to highly-trained cavalry; but was he prepared to contend that the Force had not considerably improved under the recent Regulations during the last three or four years? The noble Lord should recollect that Rome was not built in a day, and he should give the Government some credit for the steps they had taken in the Spring to increase the efficiency of that force by appointing Cavalry Colonels to inspect the various Yeomanry regiments throughout the country. The noble Lord, speaking of the Volunteers, had characterized them as being totally useless. For his part, long before he expected to have anything to do with our military Forces, he had expressed in the House the utmost admiration and respect for the patriotic spirit which had given rise to, and had maintained, the Volunteer force in this country. He did not apprehend for a moment that without the Regular Army the Volunteers would be efficient in the field. It would be wrong to entertain such an expectation; but to speak of the Force as being totally useless was an assertion that the facts would not support. He believed that the Volunteer Force was of the greatest value; and he was told by competent military authorities, that with the notice that from our insular position we were certain to have before an enemy could land on these shores, the Volunteer Force could be rendered a most important and efficient addition to the Regular Army before we were attacked. The noble Lord admitted that the Government were acting on the right principle with regard to this Force—all he complained of was that they did not go far enough. The noble Lord had based his policy on three principles—in the first place he wished for conscription for the Militia—that was to say for that conscription which Lord Castlereagh had found to be useless—and he desired to exempt from this conscription the Volunteers—an exception which, when adopted during the great Peninsular War, had led Mr. Windham to taunt Mr. Addington with not only not having raised a defensive Force, but to have rendered the formation of it impossible, as he had driven 400,000 who would have otherwise been available for militia service to seek refuge in the Volunteer Force. The noble Lord's next principle was, that pensions should be offered as an inducement to enlist; but in the present state of feeling of the country it would be absurd to seek to burden it with an enormous pension list. In making these observations he (Mr. Cardwell) did not speak in the interest of economy, but of defence; and he said that man was not a true friend of the country who built its defensive system up on so costly a foundation. The third great principle of the noble Lord was that purchase in the Army should not have been abolished. He had heard with astonishment the noble Lord say that night of that Army which had served so nobly-before Sebastopol and during the Indian Mutiny, that its only sound part was that system which related to officers, and which had been abolished in 1871.


explained that what he had said was, that the system of purchase was one of the soundest parts in our military system, and that it was a waste of public money to do away with it. In doing so, he quoted the dicta of men of military experience, and had expressed no opinion of his own.


was glad to hear the noble Lord disclaim what he had understood him to say; but it was evident that the noble Lord had heard more about the alleged discontent in the Army which had been produced in consequence of the abolition of purchase than he (Mr. Cardwell) had, and it was evident that the noble Lord believed in its existence more firmly than he did. It was quite true that 2,215 officers had signed a Memorial, which would undergo most respectful examination, and would be carefully considered. On that subject he would at present say no more. He knew, however, that sales of commissions in the Army were not going on with that extraordinary rapidity which would result if there were any deep-seated discontent among the officers, when they had only to take the trouble of walking down to Victoria Street in order to get a cheque for the price of their commissions, plus their over-regulation value. The noble Lord had been very eloquent on the paltry character of our Reserves. About four or five years ago the number of our Reserves amounted to some 3.000 or 4,000, whereas we had now 7,000 men in the First Class Army Reserve, more than. 30,000 in the Militia Reserve, and nearly 20,000 men serving in the Army who were under the condition to join the Reserve at the expiration of their period of service. He thought that those figures might afford some comfort to the noble Lord, seeing the short time the present system had been in operation. The noble Lord had asked whether the Commander-in-Chief resembled the great General of Prussia or another foreign General—of whom he did not speak with the highest respect—and whether the Government were pursuing the military policy of Germany or that of France? The noble Lord said last year that the foundation of any good military system must be local, and that that was the Prussian system after Jena, which was so effective at Sadowa. In his (Mr. Cardwell's opinion, the duty of Her Majesty's Government was not servilely to follow any system. The utmost to which they could aspire was to establish a system conformable to the habits, institutions, and wishes of the country. The noble Lord had spoken very disparagingly of the recruits. It was hardly patriotic thus to disparage one's own countrymen in the ranks, and the noble Lord would do well to attach less weight to what he picked up from the outside authorities to which he had referred, and which was not borne out by the Reports of the departments directly concerned. The hon. and gallant Member for Abingdon (Colonel Lindsay) rather surprised him when in hortatory language he expressed his regret that the Secretary at War had not "let well alone." One would suppose that when the present Government came into office the state of the 'Volunteer Force was entirely satisfactory—but what was the exact state of the ease? The first thing that happened when he was appointed to the War Office was, that a large deputation waited upon him. It was headed by his noble-Friend, and comprised several Members of both Houses of Parliament. They had previously visited his predecessor in office, not to represent that the Volunteer Force was in a satisfactory position, but that it could not continuo to exist without a very largo increase of the Capitation Grant. His right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) had refused that request; but instead of imitating that conduct, and "letting well alone," the Government considered that application. They appointed a Committee to inquire into the average expense of the Volunteer Force, and the Committee having reported that it would require 35s. to sustain that Force, the Government decided to make that the Capitation Grant; only, instead of giving the money per capite over the whole body, they determined to give it in a larger sum to those officers who would qualify themselves for commands. It must also be remembered that in the year 1868 there were 1,553 vacant commissions, so that the number which the House was now discussing was not over 2,000, but the difference between 1,553 and the number specified. Well, as he had said the Government had determined to increase the grant, not by spreading it throughout the whole of the ranks, but by giving it for increased efficiency to the officers, and they had added more than £50,000 a-year to the Vote given by Parliament to the Volunteer Forces. The Government thought it reasonable that a man who sought to command his fellow-men in arms should be qualified by military knowledge to lead them to victory and not to defeat. Surely, his hon. and gallant Friend must admit that the present Government had done a great deal better by the Volunteers, than if it had let them alone. The Government instituted schools, and he was assured by the highest authority—the Inspector General of the Auxiliary Forces—that, although there was a great diminution in the number of officers, there never was a time when there was so great a number of qualified officers in these Forces as at the present moment. They could not have gone to a school, unless the present Government had established one; and the result of the new arrangements was, that 11,582 officers and sergeants had obtained the additional grant by qualifications of special proficiency. Besides those advantages, the War Office had made up the camp allowance; they had armed the Volunteers with the breech-loaders; and they had furnished the Artillery Volunteers with 40-pounders and 60-pounders. It had been said that the examinations had a deterrent effect, and his hon. and gallant Friend added that two death-warrants had been issued in the shape of two camp Orders, one specifying the number required for special brigade drill, and the other for the annual inspection. His hon. and gallant Friend declared that these were intolerable conditions, but he would be pleased to hear on the high authority of his gallant Relative the Inspector General of the Auxiliary Forces that, generally speaking, the first camp Order had been complied with, and that there was no report of failure. With respect to the second Order, by which two-thirds of a corps were required to be present at the general inspection, at present the cases were extremely rare in which the inspection was postponed, because two-thirds were not present. When his hon. and gallant Friend saw that his gloomy prognostications had failed, he hoped he would feel satisfied that in prescribing examinations which he himself admitted were moderate, the Government had made the Force far more efficient and better than ever it was before. As to the unequal status of the officers with regard to presentations at Court, he was sure that the patriots who had devoted themselves with so much self-sacrifice to the service of their country would not have been discouraged even if there had been any fair ground of complaint, but there was no such inequality of status. All that had been done was, that it was considered that the men who devoted themselves in this way to the service of their country were entitled to hold their commissions, not from a subject, but direct from the Sovereign, and that was the only change which had been made. Next it was objected that they had required a certain fixed number of men to be present for battalion or company drill. He spoke in the presence of experienced Volunteer officers, who knew exactly what the state of the Force had been; and he asked, could there be anything more ridiculous, not to say more foolish, in every way than for an adjutant to go from his headquarters to visit his outlying corps, and to find only two or three men there to meet him? That was an evil which called for a remedy, and it would not have been letting well, but letting ill, alone to have failed to provide for it. He denied altogether that any injury had been done to the Force by that regulation. His hon. and gallant Friend had touched upon some other minor points, with which he would not occupy the House at any length. His hon. and gallant Friend said that by the Regulations issued from the War Office, the Brighton Review was stopped. But they did nothing of the kind; and for his own part all he knew of it was what he saw in the newspapers, and from that he thought it was chiefly owing to the increased fares which were proposed to be in force during the occasion. As to the complaint that they had last year required the Volunteers who attended the Autumn Manoœuvres to attend 15 days; was that, he asked, unfriendly as regarded the Volunteers? He assured his hon. and gallant Friend that the motive of that arrangement was to enable the Volunteers, in the presence of distinguished foreign visitors, and of that vast assembly of their own countrymen who went to witness the Manoœuvres, to go through the operation with credit. And it was the opinion of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief that if the Volunteers were to stand by the side of the Regular soldiers and the Militia in a spectacle of that kind, it was desirable that they should have at least a week's military training. But this year, when the operations were to be on a different scale, they would be permitted to go for eight days only. Surely that would not be very hard upon the Volunteers? With respect to the position of the the adjutants, the Government had done nothing to injure them; on the contrary, it had given them honorary rank. He supposed that his hon. and gallant Friend would be satisfied with the discussion which he had raised. His hon. and gallant Friend had appealed to him to state his opinions and feelings with regard to the Volunteers. He had expressed them so often that he had scarcely anything to add to what he had previously said; but there was no man in this country who took a deeper interest in the origination of that movement—no man who entertained a higher sense of the value of that great Force, or a greater respect for the patriotic motives which induced them to sacrifice their time and labour to that service than he did. He sincerely hoped his hon. and gallant Friend would continue to devote himself to the cause he had served so long and so well. He rejoiced to know that the great meeting at Wimbledon was never better attended than in the present year. He trusted that the success of the Volunteer Force would be proportionate to the merits of those who conducted it; and he assured his hon. and gallant Friend that no effort should be wanting on his part, as long as he had any responsibility in the matter, to promote by every means in his power the objects which they all had at heart.


in explanation, denied he had said that the Volunteers were a useless Force.


maintained that the officers of the Army were discontented, and were only waiting to see what the Secretary of State would do. The moment the officers found their complaints were not listened to, the right hon. Gentleman might depend upon it that he would hear of a great many more sales.


said, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had not answered the question that had been raised. He told them Government had done many good things for the Volunteers, but he had not told them anything about the causes which had led to the resignation of the commissions of so many officers. They had a large Force without officers. That he looked upon as the most unsatisfactory aspect of the question. The right hon. Gentleman said there was only a difference of some 500 in the number of the officers now as compared with the time when he came into office, and he spoke of that as if it were nothing. That question had been dealt with in a perfunctory manner by the Government, and he hoped it would not be lost sight of by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Abingdon (Colonel Lindsay). He hoped that if the Volunteer Force was to be continued, it would be well officered and well led.


said, he should be sorry if it were thought the Volunteers generally concurred in the idea that the changes which had been made had been detrimental to the Force. Having devoted 14 years to that movement, his experience had been that every call made upon the Volunteers to become more efficient was welcome to them. As to officers, he had never found any difficulty in obtaining an adequate supply of admirably qualified offi- cers. The difficulty was not to find officers, but as in the Army, to find men. He wanted to see the Volunteers not less, but still more amalgamated with the Army, and the more they proceeded in that direction, the better it would be for them. What it was desirable to do was, to get rid of skeleton regiments without officers and if the right hon. Gentleman would insist on a proper education of the officers, he would do great good.


considered that of the three points stated by the hon. and gallant Member for Abingdon, as those upon which the Volunteers were dissatisfied, two of them had no foundation in fact. On the contrary, there was great satisfaction amongst the officers that they derived their commissions from the Queen. He considered that the changes made had given satisfaction generally to the Volunteers throughout the country, and he should therefore vote against the Motion.


said, although not satisfied with the explanations of the right hon. Gentleman, he would not trouble the House to divide.

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

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," proposed.