HC Deb 25 July 1873 vol 217 cc1028-58

in rising to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to be graciously pleased to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the mode in which European Officers are supplied to the Native Army of India, and to the promotion, pay, pensions, and retiring allowances of such officers, said, that although the subject was a military one, no one could take an interest in Indian affairs without feeling that the efficiency of our Native Army was a subject of prime importance to the future of our Indian Empire. Tranquillity now prevailed in India, but tranquillity there was different from tranquillity in England. In India there were always turbulent tribes on our frontier to watch, and dependent States that were liable to disturbing influences; and although he admitted that good government was the best guarantee for peace, yet good government in India was impossible unless there was behind it a reliable amount of physical force, and that physical force must in a. great measure depend upon the Native Army. Again, there was no portion of Indian finance more important than military finance, and no portion of military finance more important than that which related to the European officers of the Native Army. He would exclude all reference to the Artillery in India, which was substantially part of the Royal Artillery. The officering of the Artillery was essentially different from the officering of the Line, to which his Motion would be confined. The House was aware that there prevailed in India what was called the Irregular, as well as the Regular system. The difference between the two systems was this—the Regular regiments were organized very much like our Line regiments, and had a nominal complement of 25 officers. The regiments of the Irregular system had a complement of three European officers, selected from the Regular Army. The duties which the officers of the Regular regiments were called upon to perform, besides their own immediate regimental duties, were numerous. The Army Staff, the military departments, the Commissariat, and the Pay Office were all supplied from the officers of the Regular Army, borne on the effective strength of their regiments, besides the numerous diplomatic, judicial, and police executive duties, which were in many cases performed by officers borne on the regimental strength of the Army. The result of that system was, that instead of there being 25 officers with the Regular regiments the number amounted to about 8 to 12. Upon the policy and effect of the system he would say nothing, except that it had an inevitable tendency to interfere with the military spirit of the officers, and induced them to seek other than military employment with their regiments. There was no subject which had been the theme of more interesting essays and despatches. Forty years ago Lord Metcalfe wrote some most able despatches, and it was curious to see how they applied to the subject now agitating the public mind. The evils were frequently admitted, and before the Mutiny the Directors had authorized an inquiry as to how officers could best be provided to perform detached and State duties. Then came the Great event of 1857. Almost the whole of the Bengal Army revolted and disappeared. The Bombay Army generally remained faithful. One regiment of Madras Cavalry showed signs of disaffection, and was disbanded; but almost all contingents, except the Hyderabad Contingent, followed the example of the Bengal Army. In 1858 the government of India was transferred from the Company to the Crown, and by 21 & 22 Vict. c. 106, s. 56, the advantages with regard to pay, promotion, &c., were secured to the officers on their being transferred to the Crown. Just before the Act passed, a Royal Commission was issued for the purpose of examining generally as to the character of the Army it was desirable to maintain after tranquillity should be restored. That Commission, presided over by General Peel, made their Report on the 7th of March, 1850. The whole matter was referred to India for discussion. All the greatest authorities military and administrative, were consulted by Lord Canning, and the most elaborate replies, filling a large blue book, were given in answer to queries circulated by Government. Lord Canning called for a Report from the Military Finance Committee, consisting of Colonel Jameson, General Balfour, and General Burn, and in the following year they sent in their Report. Lord Canning wrote and elaborate Minute, and sent home Sir Henry Durand to confer with the authorities; but here he must take care to assure the House in justice to Lord Canning, that he did not suggest or approve of the scheme which was afterwards carried out. General Norman, who was at home at the time, was consulted by Sir Charles Wood. General Norman was an officer of very great administrative talents, and was as distinguished in the field as he was in the council chamber. A General Order was issued on the 10th of April, 1861, by the Governor General, framed in pursuance of Royal Warrants and directions conveyed to him in dispatches by the Secretary of State. By that Order, the amalgamation of the two armies was effected, and the terms of the amalgamation and of the organization of the Native Armies were elaborately set forth. The Native regiments, both Cavalry and Infantry, were to be officered on the Irregular system; and, by a principle of selection, there were to be seven European officers to each regiment. All regimental appointments were to be Staff appointments, to be made form a body then constituted, called to Staff Crops. All existing officers of the Indian Army were to be retained on full pay, and assured promotion, whether there was employment for them or not, or whether qualified or not. Here they were called upon to deal with men, many of whom were unwilling and unqualified to enter the Staff Corps, and who had important but undefined rights guaranteed to them, independent of any Regulation which might be framed. They had to deal not only with regimental officers, but with those who were performing Staff duties, police duties, and all other duties. Whether it would have been wiser to have then cut the Gordian knot, and separated the Civil officers who were nominally regimental officers from those who were purely military, he could not say. But the clause guaranteeing existing rights made that very difficult; and, considering the great work which had been done in days of old by the class of men called military civilians, it was not surprising that the Government thought it advisable, on the whole, to retain a system by which military men could be retained for civil employment. The rules, therefore, establishing the Staff Corps were framed, not only for the purpose of establishing a permanent body, to be recruited in future on certain principles, and of regulating the pay, pension, and promotion for the future, but also for the purpose of admitting the old officers into the Staff Corps, who under the Parliamentary guarantee had already statutory rights which could not be interfered with. And besides these, they had the officers on the General List, who had been admitted after the outbreak of the Mutiny, on condition that they would serve where their services were required. The permanent and general rules of the Staff Corps were these—First, admission to the Staff Corps was to be through the Imperial Army, based, in the first instance, on selection, and open to all officers under the rank of captain. But no person was to be selected who was not qualified by a certain amount of service in India and by examination tests; nor without service of a year in a Native regiment. Nor could any officer enter the Staff Corps permanently without having passed a probationary period in that branch of the service for which he might be selected, whether civil or military. Then promotion in the Staff Corps was governed by length of service. 1. Officers after 12 years' service, of which four must have been in the Staff Corps, were to become captains. 2. Officers after 20 years' service, of which six must have been in the Staff Corps, were to become majors. 3. Officers after 26 years' service, of which eight must have been in the Staff Corps, were to become lieutenant-colonels. The pay of the several ranks was laid down; but besides that pay, it was also laid down that every officer would receive, in addition, such a sum as would make his total pay up to the sum assigned by the Government of India to the particular office which he held. A pension list was also laid down for the future; also it was laid down that a certain proportion of the senior officers of the Staff Corps were to receive colonels' allowances in the proportion of one for every 30 officers in the Staff Corps. The colonels' allowances amounted to about £1,200 a-year. All the old officers in civil and military employment who were borne on the cadres of their own regiments, were to be provided for. Rules therefore were made for them. It was decided to admit, in 1861, all the officers in the British and Native Armies below the rank of colonel then on Staff employ in India who were duly qualified; and Staff employment included all civil and political employments of every description, and also employments in the Irregular Corps; but the option of joining the Staff Corps was open only to those who were considered fit for the Staff Corps. Under these rules, therefore, it will be seen that some of the regimental officers might and did join the Staff Corps, while others, who did not, constituted what is called the local officers. Changes were very soon found necessary—I will explain the reason why. I have already said, promotion in the Staff Corps was and is regulated by length of service; the promotion of the local officers, who did not join the Staff Corps, by seniority. The two systems clashed. The system of promotion by length of service interfered with the rights and privileges of the old officers, guaranteed by Act of Parliament. The result, therefore, was that, so far as regimental officers were concerned, great irregularity of promotion occurred, and some officers were superseded by their juniors. Great discontent, great irregularity was the result; and the grievances of many of the officers were brought to the notice of the authorities. A Royal Commission was therefore appointed, which was presided over by Lord Cranworth. In consequence of the Report of that Commission, an Address to the Crown was moved for, in 1865, as to the grievances of officers, and a Commission was appointed, presided over by General Aitchison. Then took place a change, which the admirers of the Staff Corps said had spoiled the whole system. The Staff Corps was thrown open to the whole of the Indian Army. All limits as to the number of colonels' allowances were removed, and two additional pensions of £000 and £750 a-year were added to the pension list. The result of that Order was, that in one year the number of officers leaped from 1,485 to 2,197. There was no doubt that the Staff Corps' system possessed some advantages. The position of the regimental officers in India belonging to the Staff Corps had been very much improved. Under the new system, every officer must be a colonel in 26 years, and if he commanded a regiment his salary was £1,700. Under the old system, he would probably, if a regimental officer, be still a captain drawing about a third of that sum. There could be no doubt, also, that the officers were very much improved, and for efficiency, they could compare favourably with any service in the world; and though some were superseded by their juniors in regimental command, yet, at the same time, the position of the officers as a whole was incomparably better than it was before 1861. As it was necessary to provide in 1861 for all the officers of the Indian Army, many of whom were unfit for important employment, and as it was necessary, also, to continue to recruit the Staff Corps in order to obtain young and efficient officers, it followed that a great number of unemployed officers must remain on hand as a dead weight. That was one of the most serious sources of embarrassment at the present day. On that subject General Norman said that under a new system, requiring vigour and judgment, many officers who had become unemployed through the Mutiny were not now thought fit for employment, and yet a Government like that of India would be loth to treat them with harshness. The question of those unemployed officers required immediate attention. As to the excess of field officers, in 1862 we had about 4,000 altogether to provide for; while in 1873, we had altogether in the Staff Corps and local body on full pay 3,216, 400 being unemployed. Field officers being allowed to attain that rank after a specified time of service, the number far exceeded the requirements of the service. In 1862 there were 568 lieutenant-colonels and majors; in 1873 there were 1,334; and there was no reason to suppose this proportion would decrease at present. In fact, calculations had shown that in a few years the number of field officers would be double that of captains and subalterns. In 1862, 4,167 officers cost £1,800,866; in 1873, 3,216 officers cost £2,050,000; so that the staff of officers in 1873 cost£200,000 more than in 1862, although the numbers had been decreased by 20 per cent. Financially, there was no probability that the expense would not go on increasing. Supposing things to remain as at present, the officers drawing colonels allowances' in 1873 were 64, their pay being £72,000, while in 1892 there would be 513, costing £577,000. As remarked by General Broome, military history presented no instance of an Army so constituted, or of one so costly; and not only was a further increase in the proportion of field officers inevitable, but under the rule granting the colonels' allowances to lieutenant colonels of 12 years' standing, a large and steadily augmenting proportion of field officers would be in receipt of that allowance. That the present system of officering the Indian Army would bear the strain of war was doubted by men of the highest authority, and in Abyssinia it completely broke down. Eleven officers were posted to each regiment instead of seven, and the Madras Army was largely indented upon for subalterns to make up that complement. Lord Sandhurst had been obliged to represent that the three Presidencies had been simply drained to supply Lord Napier's wants, some British regiments having been emptied of their officers in a manner almost unexampled, and most injurious to the interests of the service. Lord Sandhurst added that had the war lasted, all future demands for officers, which from the nature of the service would have been considerable, must have been supplied from England, Indian resources having come to an end while if in the service now proceeding in the Hazara District, 30 or 40 officers were put hors de combat—a likely enough contingency whether from sickness or wounds, he should not know where to find the men to replace them, and the Native regiments might easily come to be devoid of good officers. There were defects in the Staff Corps' system which nobody could deny. In the first place, every step of advancement was liable to separate the officer from his regiment; and, further, it could not be denied that a system of selection led to jealousies and heart buntings. The view he was expressing was supported by many eminent authorities, and, among others, by Sir Henry Durand— 1st. That regarded as a system of military organization, the Staff Corps, constituted as it was at first, and modified as it has since been, was a mistake and proves a failure. 2nd. That regarded as a system of ancillary civil organization and administration, it is full of anomalies, inelastic and teeming with sources of embarrassment and difficulty. 3rd. That strive as we may to bolster up and improve the Staff Corps system thus constituted, it cannot last, and that consequently it is only a question of more or less time given to temporary shifts and expedients ere a thorough reorganization will be forced upon Government. That event may take place, either in prudence before or else after a signal collapse under the strain of war; but it is to my mind absolutely inevitable. Shifts and expedients may delay, but they cannot dispense with the unavoidable and pending necessity for a radical reform. Looking at that question as a financial one, he regarded it as one which might damage altogether the finances of our Indian Empire. Those finances had during the last few years shown a steady progress, and it would be a great calamity if anything should occur to prevent the continuation of that progress and improvement. He believed it was not too late to devise measures to prevent that increase in our military expenditure which he believed to be desirable. No stone, therefore, ought to be left unturned, and no pains spared to accomplish that great object. He believed the proposal he was about to make was a prudent one. The Government of India had at its command able and experienced men who understood the Staff Corps system; but they were all men who had given opinions on the system, and he thought it would be a great assistance to have the opinion of men who would bring fresh minds to the subject, and give their opinion without prejudice or foregone conclusion. The ultimate decision would, of course, rest with the Secretary of State, and upon this subject he wished to say a few words. The proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs. (Mr. Trevelyan) proposed to leave everything as it was at present. He believed that if that course was taken the proposal of the Government, if indeed any were made, would lack the authority and weight which they would have had if made upon the authority of a Royal Commission; and so strongly did he feel that, that he should certainly take the opinion of the House on his proposal, unless he was assured by his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India that steps were being taken in order to effect reforms in a direction which would in his opinion contribute to the future welfare and the general interest of our Indian Empire. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given notice.


in seconding the Motion, said, that the question was one of vast importance, and ought to be fully discussed. He was sorry that the forms of the House would prevent the second Amendment, of which Notice had been given by his noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), from being put, for he thought the claims of the officers of the late Indian Army for compensation for the loss of regimental bonus ought to be abolished. The Amendment of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) proposed to leave the matter to the Government of India; but he thought it would be well to entrust the inquiry to eminent men who would be able to give their whole attention to the subject, because, although he fully acknowledged the great talents of those who were now connected with the Government of India, he thought their time was too fully occupied to undertake an investigation of this sort. As a Member of the Committee which was sitting on the question of Indian finance, he was fully alive to the importance of reducing the expenditure of the Indian Government as much as possible; but at the same time, full justice ought to be done to those gallant men who were the successors of those who had won India for us. It was most important, in any reductions which might be made, that efficiency should be combined with economy, and we should not therefore send out more officers than were absolutely necessary to maintain the efficiency of the service. A point, also, well worth ascertaining was whether a Native Army was specially necessary for the interests of India, and whether it should or not be maintained.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the cud of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to be graciously pleased to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the mode in which European Officers are supplied to the Native Army of India, and to the promotion, pay, pensions, and retiring allowances of such officers,"—(Mr. Bourke,) —instead thereof.

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


who had given Notice of his intention to move the following Resolution as an Amendment to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Bourke)— That, while immediate and earnest attention should be given to the mode in which European Officers are supplied to the Native Army of India, and to the position and emoluments of those Officers, the responsibility of ascertaining and proposing such steps as should be taken for the reform of the present system ought, in the opinion of this House, to be left to the authorities entrusted with the Government of India,"— said, that Amendment was not of a hostile character to the Motion which had just been made. That discussion could not do anything but good, and his object was the same as that of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, though he (Mr. Trevelyan) differed as to the appropriate remedies which were necessary in our Indian military system. Speaking roughly, our Indian Army consisted of 65,000 European troops, with a Native Army of 130,000 men, the latter being composed almost entirely of Cavalry and Infantry, for since the Mutiny the Artillery had been almost entirely European. Thus the 3,300 officers, with whose grievances we had so much to do, and of whose defective organization we had heard so much, belonged exclusively to what in England was called the Line. The conditions of service of these officers were absolutely unprecedented in the history of any civilized nation. He used the words "civilized nation" advisedly, because it really required a high state of civilization to invent a system so cumbrous, and one so utterly wanting in all the essential attributes of military effici- ency and financial economy as that on which our Indian Army was at present officered. A system so monstrous never was devised, was never even foreseen as a whole by any human intellect, nor did the responsibility of the system rest with any single Minister. It reached its present position by gradual growth under one Minister after another, and under circumstances of great and special difficulty. The old Indian Army consisted of 275,000 men, comprising 155 regiments of Infantry and 21 of Cavalry, besides 37 Irregular regiments. During the Mutiny that vast Force underwent an entire change. Excepting 12 Regular regiments, the old Bengal Army melted away, and in the crisis of the Mutiny was replaced by numbers of corps of Punjabees, Ghoorkas, and loyal sepoys, raised by the exertions of individual officers. The suppression of the Mutiny left us with an immense amorphous force of officers without regiments, and regiments with the merest handful of officers, and it was not till May, 1861, that some order was evolved from this military chaos. The whole Force was broken up, the Indian Army in all the Presidencies being reduced to about 140 regiments; and at the same time an important change occurred—the transformation of the Army from a Regular to an Irregular Force. Of the grievances of the officers of that Force much had been heard. He begged the House to keep the two questions of the grievances of the officers and the organization of our Indian Army, quite separate. He did not wish to depreciate the importance of the question, or to disparage the claims of so splendid a service; but those grievances concerned mere individual interests and financial considerations, whereas the organization of our Indian Army was a question upon which, to our shame, we had heard little, though it concerned the very existence of our Indian Empire. The regiments of the old Indian Army had a full complement of 25 officers, who were attached to their regiments in the same manner and on the same terms as the officers in the English regiments, indeed, in some respects, far more closely. Exchanges had not been allowed for 35 years. The regimental system, of which so much was heard in 1870, existed in all its integrity. Each officer had definite duties, commanding a company or a troop, and though many of the more able and fortunate were withdrawn for Staff employment, enough remained to officer every portion of the regiment. Side by side with that system existed also 35 or 40 Irregular regiments which had been raised by officers of great ability; they picked their own subalterns from the entire body of the Indian Army, and the consequence was, that they got the very best men for officers. In the Cavalry the soldiers owned their own horses, and were of a much higher stamp than ordinary soldiers, and they had the greatest confidence in their leaders. The success of those special corps inspired the Government with the idea of forming the whole Army upon their model; and thenceforward each regiment, instead of being commanded by a regular hierarchy of colonel, major, captain, and lieutenant, with special duties, was to be officered by six or seven officers—a commandant, two wing officers, two wing subalterns, a quarter-master, and an adjutant. When the Army was attempted to be constituted upon this plan, the essential vice of the system was that it was worked by picked officers. Formerly we had 4,000 officers out of whom to choose for 37 regiments; but by turning the whole Army into an Irregular force, we did not, unfortunately, turn all the officers into men like Nicholson and Chamberlain, Jacob Pane and Probyn. The ease was still more important when we came to the rank and file. The old Irregular regiments were made out of warlike races on the North-West frontier, and they required constant fighting on the frontier to keep up their warlike spirit, for the great characteristic of half-civilized races was that when they ceased fighting among themselves their warlike spirit died out rapidly; and most fortunate for us that was. There were large portions of India from which we still drew sepoys, where there was no more natural taste for a military life than there was among the Syrians or Egyptians under the Roman Empire; for instance, the inhabitants of Aladras, and to a great extent of Bahar and Bombay, were not natural soldiers, and required perpetual drilling and the constant supervision of European officers to make them efficient at all, and even then it was doubtful whether they were worth much. We could not change the nature of a population by a stroke of the pen, and it was the very fanaticism of theory to imagine that by dressing a fat old Madras ressaldar in a turban and jack-boots you could turn him into a dashing partisan, like one of Probyn's Punjabees. In fact, with regard to the Madras Cavalry, the absurdity of the notion was so egregious, that the transformation of them into Irregular Horse had been indefinitely postponed. The plain thing to be done was not to continue in that unfortunate and ruinously expensive course of keeping up a large force drawn from an unwarlike population; but we ought to disband, or largely to diminish that force, and replace it by a much smaller number of real fighting men, drawn from the warlike population of the North-West Provinces, and officered on a proper system. That was the more necessary from the large increase that was going on in the Indian police. The police in India now numbered from 130,000 to 150,000 or 160,000 men, and the expense of keeping it up had been increasing by something like 500,000 of rupees during the last six years. If that were done, where would be the necessity for appointing a Commission? The appointment of a Commission would convey an indirect censure on the Indian Government, which had proved itself to a high degree capable of facing the difficulties which must be surmounted before India was provided with a reasonably cheap and an entirely effective force. In 1869, the Home Government called upon the Indian Government to make a searching and general revisal of military expenditure in all its branches; and the Indian Government, under Lord Mayo, instituted that inquiry, and sent home recommendations for large reductions in the Madras and Bombay Armies, but they stated that the Bengal Army could not be reduced with any safety to the Empire. In an evil hour the Secretary for India wrote that it was impossible to take this plan into consideration, because, in breaking up regiments, they did not dispose of the officers, or relieve the state of their military pay, and that there should be some general system of gradual reduction in all portions of the Empire equally. That despatch, dated the 27th of January, 1870, was a confession that an excess of military force was kept up in India, not for the sake of the efficiency of the Army, but for the sake of the officers. On that consideration Her Majesty's Government recommended that the reduction should be made not in Madras, where the Army was comparatively useless, nor in Bombay, but that it should be equally carried out in all the Presidencies, including that in which our military force was only just equal to the demand. It was all very well to say that they wanted a Commission; but the men actually concerned in the matter said they did not need any inquiry, that the House was already in possession of all the information necessary for its purpose, and that further inquiry would not be necessary for at least two years more. The present Viceroy brought to bear on the question a familiarity with military organization acquired during an altogether exceptional period of activity in our War Department. It was beyond doubt that it was possible to make our Native Army a far more formidable fighting machine at a far less cost to the taxpayers of India. That was a task by which the present Viceroy might be well satisfied if he could illustrate his tenure of office; and that task, seconded as he would be by the assistance of the ablest officers that could be secured, without aid or hindrance from a Royal Commission, he was well able to perform. Then as to the alleged enormous expense of the Staff Corps, to which his hon. and learned Friend alluded, and as to which he failed to suggest any remedy. He (Mr. Trevelyan) doubted whether a Royal Commission would have more wisdom or discernment in connection with that subject than his hon. and learned Friend himself. The evil of the system was, officers had been promoted, not according to the requirements of the service, but with a small decreasing number of exceptions according to a General List, on which they rose according to the length of time during which each officer had served in a particular grade. Of course, at the foundation of the Staff Corps it was intended that the rapidity of regimental promotion should only represent the average rapidity of regimental promotion. The result showed the danger of departing from a healthy system. The only justifiable system of promotion was according to the exact requirements of the public service. The consequence of departing from that system was, that the pressure of private interests became so strong that the period of passing from rank to rank was unduly shortened. The moment the Government attempted to solve the question by substituting for the Parliamentary guarantee the right of admittance to a privileged corps, it was morally certain that no peace would be had until every officer obtained the same advantages. In fact, it would have been far better to have swallowed the whole thing at once, and to have admitted all officers to the Staff Corps; and whatever might be the ultimate burden, whether half a million or a million, it would be the greatest sum ever drawn from a subject-nation not for Imperial purposes, but to subsidize individual interests. It was absolutely essential that the Government should, without delay and without the possibility of giving rise to any future controversy, lay down clearly and for ever the terms on which all officers not belonging to the old Indian Army who had joined the Staff Corps since 1860, and who were joining it now, should serve. The experience of the past told us how dangerous it was to leave open these questions of promotion and pension. The whole story of Indian military organization during the last 12 years had taught us that in dealing with public servants during a great change in the conditions of their service, it was absolutely necessary that pecuniary compensation should be exactly proportioned to pecuniary loss. The present Government, in their Bill of 1870, adopted a sound policy, directly opposed to that which had brought the finances of the Indian Army into such inextricable confusion. The Government would be assisted in their task by the heads of the civil and military Departments in India, and to their combined efforts, warned as they would be by this discussion, and by the disclosures made before the Select Committee upstairs, he should leave the re-organization of our Native Army with more confidence than he should feel in those of any Commission, however well selected.


thought the hon. and learned Member for King's Lynn had shown good ground for the gravest consideration of the state of the Indian Army by Her Majesty's Government. It was essential, in the mode of appointing the Army, that they should have content, and not discontent, in all the grades, from the highest to the lowest; and it was the more necessary because the question could not be decided by the vote of the House on that occasion, but would have to be left to the discretion of the Indian Government, and of the Home Government. He (Lord Elcho) had intended to move as an Amendment to the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend, an addition to the effect that the claims made by a large number of officers of the late Indian Army for compensation for the loss of their regimental bonus should be also referred to that Royal Commission. But he was precluded from moving the addition by the Forms of the House, and, as no Commission was likely to be appointed, all he could do was to urge upon the Government the necessity of dealing with the two questions together, as he did not think they could be kept separate or distinct. The question should be considered by some impartial tribunal either here or in India. A system of regimental bonus for the purpose of accelerating promotion had existed in the Indian Army, and was finally sanctioned by the Government, in order to induce contentment amongst the officers, upon which feeling depended the efficiency of that Army. Lord Derby, when Secretary of State for India, said that the privileges of the officers would be reserved; and, in 1860, Sir Charles Wood repeated the same assurance. Could any case be stronger? There were—the title, from the East India Company, of 1837, the Parliamentary guarantee of 1858, the statement then that it was a Parliamentary guarantee, a confirmation of this two years later, and another statement at that time by the Secretary of State of what was intended. Yet, in spite of this, the claims of the officers were disregarded when, in 1861, the introduction of the system of Staff Corps destroyed the regimental system, and no compensation was given. The result being an appeal from Caesar on the Treasury bench to Cesar in the House of Commons, on a Motion made by the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Colonel Jervis), in May, 1865, when the House decided by a large majority that the matter should be considered by the Government, and the claim of the officers dealt with in the sense of those guarantees. No further action was taken until Lord Cranborne (the present Marquess of Salisbury), as Secretary of State, directed that the question should be considered, subject to deduction for any benefit the officers might have derived from their subscriptions. As Colonel Sykes afterwards said, the generous-minded Lord Salisbury must have acted upon the sordid advice of subordinates, in offering compensation with one hand and taking it away with the other. Claims of £250, £420, and £4,421 were reduced to nothing; and, to quote Colonel Sykes again, the claims of the officers were met with meanness and heartlessness. That that was the opinion of the House of Commons was shown by a Resolution it adopted at the time, directing a further consideration of the subject. Since then, in answer to the Address on the subject, the Duke of Argyll sent to the different Presidencies in India instructions to see whether Lord Cranborne's despatch had been put into operation, with a due regard to the interests of the officers. He might mention -that the officers absolutely repudiated that despatch in regard to the way in which it proposed to deal with their claims. In the Presidency of Bengal it was held that the interests of the officers had been well considered; but from that opinion Lord Napier, the Commander-in-Chief, evidently dissented, because his name was not appended to the document; and the Presidencies of Bombay and Madras were very strongly opposed to the opinion of the Madras Presidency. That was the position of this matter in the year 1870. He now came to the year 1871, when upon the Bill for the re-organization of the Army, we were called upon to consider the analogy between the bonus system in India and the purchase system in this country. That analogy was this—that both were intended to secure more rapid promotion and enable younger men to get to the heads of regiments; but the difference was this—that the bonus system and the purchase system were both forbidden nominally by law, and although in England there was a semblance of standing by the law, things were allowed to go on to such an extent that a Royal Commission reported that Parliament could not avoid dealing with the question. The House then felt it necessary to deal with over-regulation as well as regulation prices, and pay officers in full, on their retirement, under the Bill of 1870. The East India Company acted more fairly; because instead of winking at it, they considered it was necessary, and said they did not intend to make any alteration, as the officers were entitled to it when they left the Army. The principle of the Bill having been carried, the fights in Committee were upon the way of giving effect to the abolition of purchase; the majorities of the Government were reduced from 120 to 16; and the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Charles Wingfield) got an Amendment put into the Bill of 1871 for the benefit, not of all the officers who had served in India, but only for a section of them—namely, the Infantry regiments of the Line; and within the last week the same hon. Gentleman had been assured by the Secretary of State that the Engineers and Artillery would be placed on a similar footing. In conclusion, he maintained that the officers who complained had a strong and good case, resting on a Parliamentary guarantee, and on the statements made in that and the other House by Ministers responsible for the government of India; and he did hope, whether by a Royal Commission, or whether by the Government themselves, that the matter would be considered fairly and generously as regarded the officers. He believed that distrust and. discontent existed, arising from a sense of injustice; and he did not think it was wise in any Government, however strong, to ignore the prevalence of feelings of that kind among such a body. It had been wittily said, that the difference between a man with a strong will and one with a weak will was, that the former said, "I will," and the latter, "I won't;" and it would be not only a gracious act, but a sign of strength, if the Government yielded to the reasonable request of the officers, whether of the English or the Indian service, and he trusted they would bear in mind what His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief had said in "another place," a few days ago, about the discontent in the Army, and the expediency of steps being taken to satisfy the officers that their complaints would be heard.


said, at that late hour of the night, and in view of other hon. Members addressing the House, on the present important question, he would endeavour to condense his remarks in the briefest possible way. That was the more practicable, seeing that the hon. and learned Member for King's Lynn had placed before the House a remarkably clear exposition of the former and present system of officering the Army of India. He could not refrain from expressing to the hon. and learned Member his best thanks for the labour he had devoted in order to make the question quite clear to the House and to the country. He would only add that the regimental system of India, which had the sanction of Pitt and Dundas in the last century, and had borne the strain of war for a long period, was changed in 1861 by Sir Charles Wood, contrary to the wishes of the Indian Government. It was also introduced at a most unfavourable time, when the finances of India were in an embarrassed state, owing to the expenditure to quell the Mutiny of the Bengal Army. It distracted attention from the great question of financial reform, and it came on the country when all were labouring to aid the hon. Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing) to free India from the serious embarrassments which then weighed upon that country. That change was made in spite of advice and warning, and with nothing whatever to guide the Secretary of State in introducing such vast changes as were made by Sir Charles Wood in the entire constitution and organization of the Indian Army. It was based upon the plea of economy; whereas it had involved India in an unlimited expenditure, and they now saw its results in discontent and dissatisfaction, and with great distrust as to its efficiency in war, as the hon. and learned Member had so clearly pointed out. As one who had had long experience of Native troops, as an adjutant of a Native battalion of India, and from having served in the field both with Europeans and with sepoys, he maintained that though an admirer of the Native Forces, yet the efficiency of the Native Army of India depended entirely on the number and efficiency of European officers; that unless the white faces were well to the front, leading on the men, and setting them an example, it would be found some day that a failure would happen to us, and some great disaster prove the inefficiency of the present organization. There ought to be a searching inquiry made, and the Secretary of State who introduced those changes ought to be required to explain his reasons for doing so, and to be held responsible for the bad results of his administration. With regard to the principle of selection, which was the most prominent feature in the Staff Corps system, he would ask what selection could they have from a body of officers even now quite insufficient in number for the duties which had to be performed? The strongest objection to the organization which Sir Charles Wood destroyed was the selection of regimental officers from regimental duties for Staff employ, leaving a residuum with the regiments. But that was even now the practice. At present, they had many battalions with not fewer than five field officers, and, in some instances, three of these were full colonels. They had also many regiments without any subalterns, but all consisting of captains and field officers. They could not expect old officers to go and do the work which should be done by subalterns. Where were they to select from, and who were to be the selectors? Instead of selection, they would come to an absolute system of seniority. Indeed, so difficult was it now to pass over old but respectable officers, that commands of battalions were, as shown by the list, entrusted to the senior colonels in the service, thus proving that seniority, and not selection, was in force. That result had been long foreseen, for the Duke of Cambridge had stated in evidence, that selection would be fatal, and that all they could do was to have a veto on the rise of officers. He hoped that defective system would be put an end to, for it was causing the greatest discontent and dissatisfaction in India. The second question before the House was the Resolution regarding the bonus payments of the old India Army; and, having considerable experience of the practice of paying old officers to retire from active service, he must add that he entirely agreed with all that had been said by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire with regard to the bonus system. These contributions were begun at the distinct instigation and encouragement of the Indian Government, at home and abroad, and, in proof, he would refer to the despatch of the 25th April, 1829, from the Government of India, pointing out the necessity for accelerating the promotion of the European officers of the Indian Army. That document was obtained from the India Office, on the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Colonel Jervis), who, 10 years ago, earnestly laboured on behalf of the Indian officers, and had his advice been then taken, many of the difficulties now felt would have been prevented. The despatch from India advised the Home Government to establish a fund for the purpose of accelerating promotion by buying out old officers. That despatch was from Lord William Bentinck, the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in India, one of the greatest of economists. The principle it advocated was approved of by a despatch from the Board of Control in 1832, conveying to the Directors of the East India Company the approval of the Government of England for retiring funds being formed in the Indian Army. That system, as at first proposed, was a subscription on the part of regimental officers, combined with a subscription on the part of the Government, by which the retirement of old officers should be accelerated. The Court of Directors distinctly authorized the formation of these funds. They encouraged officers to subscribe as he could positively assert from his own experience, for soon after his arrival in India he was actively engaged, in conjunction with a comrade now not far distant, in the management of one of those subscriptions to the regimental fund. They were then young subalterns amenable to a committee of seven officers, and would have been immediately reported and restrained by their superior officers, and by the commandant of the regiment, had they been infringing the orders of Government. But, on the contrary, the superior officers themselves joined in the management of the fund, and the collection of subscriptions was carried on publicly, with the full knowledge of all the high authorities, and with the sanction of Government, who facilitated the collections through the Accountant General; and the system thus practically recognized continued in force throughout all his term of service, until it was put an end to by the change in the organization of the service which was made in 1861. That change was made by the Secretary of State for India of his own accord, without the approval of the Government of India, and as it was made for the good of the service, as asserted at the time, it was only just that compensation should be given to officers who had paid their money without any chance of obtaining value for it, or of having it returned to them owing to these changes. Those payments had effected great good. They enabled many old and formerly good officers to retire at a time when they felt a difficulty in continuing in active employment. Without that purchased retirement, the Government would have expended much larger sums to effect those promotions of officers which the efficiency of the service demanded. It was, therefore, most ungrateful for the Government to refuse the payment of compensation, now that the officers could no longer help themselves. He had himself paid upwards of £2,000, for which his promotion had been accelerated by six months. That was all the advantage he got by it, and, yet, if afterwards he had applied for the payment of the bonus on retirement, he would have had the amount of the pay for the six months' acceleration of rank deducted from the bonus; and that, notwithstanding he had been upwards of 18 years in the rank of subaltern, and 32 years in the rank of subaltern and captain. That was the course ordered by Lord Cranborne's despatch of 8th August. 1866; but it was not consistent with justice. It was, moreover, in marked contrast with the liberality of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who, only a few evenings since, announced to the House that any officer of the Home Army could, when desirous of leaving the Army, walk down to the the Purchase Commissioners, and there obtain, without any deduction, a cheque for the full value of his commission. There was, indeed, a marked difference between that and the treatment of the India bonuses under Lord Cranborne's despatch. He hoped the question would, at length, be fairly considered. He entreated the Government to put an end to the discontent which prevailed, and appoint an independent arbitration to decide, in order that justice might be done to the officers whatever might be the consequences.


said, with a view to shorten this discussion, and fix attention upon the issue they had to de- cide, he would pass over the early history of the bonus question, which had been so often before Parliament, and come at once to January, 1861. There existed in the old Army of the Company, which became at that date the Indian Army of the Crown, a practice of subscribing in each regiment to buy out officers who retired, for the purpose of accelerating promotion, before reaching the rank of lieutenant-colonel. That practice was in most regiments irregular and spasmodic—sometimes followed, sometimes not. It had been pronounced illegal by the Courts of Law, but was, nevertheless, after being winked at for some years, permitted by the Government. Still, it was a perfectly private arrangement, nothing like our authorized system of purchase ever having existed in the Company's Army. The amalgamation of the Indian Army of the Crown with its Western Army made the continuance of the bonus system almost useless, and indeed to a great extent impracticable, and those who had maintained it began very naturally to cast about for some method of getting compensation. First they tried to have its cessation represented as a breach of the Parliamentary guarantee, and accordingly they took measures to have it considered by Lord Cranworth's Commission, which reported in 1863. That Commission, however, reported that it was no breach of the Parliamentary guarantee, and that Parliament had never guaranteed that bonus system in any shape or form. A second Commission was appointed under the presidency of Sir John Aitchison, with reference to the Parliamentary guarantee, and that Commission reported in 1865; but again that Commission treated the bonus system as altogether outside that Parliamentary guarantee, and did not even notice it. The argument from the Parliamentary guarantee was than abandoned, and the question of equity as between a State and some of its servants. The principle of Lord Cranborne's settlement was this—he gave up the contest as to the legality or illegality of the bonus system. He said —"I will recognize your bonus system; and I will do more. The arrangements consequent on a great State exigency having had the incidental effect of making your bonus system unworkable, I will take care that each of you shall have returned to him the money which he subscribed under the bonus system, after setting off the money which he received in consequence of the arrangements which led to the sweeping away of the bonus system. You shall, in short, lose nothing, and the State—that is, the Indian taxpayer—shall lose everything which is necessary to shield you from loss." Lord Cranborne's concessions were announced by himself on the 6th day of August, 1866, and were received with every appearance of acquiescence and satisfaction. His despatch to the Government of India embodying his concessions was laid upon the Table. Not a word was said against it. It was not till long afterwards that any symptoms of dissatisfaction arose, when the committees in India, composed, be it remembered, of persons who naturally sympathized with the complaining officers, were found not to give to the complaining officers such large sums as they had expected. Then it was that recourse was had once more to the old agitation. But it was said that Lord Cranborne had no right to deduct the money advantages gained by promotion from the sums advanced by the various officers under the bonus system. If he had not a right so to do, why did not the persons who had then charge of the case of the officers object at the time? The answer was obvious. They saw the equity of the arrangement. The money was paid by the various officers for the express purpose of obtaining rapid promotion, and if they got rapid promotion they got what they paid for. Promotion, and rapid promotion, was what the Indian officer sighed for, and what he meant to buy by his bonus payments. Authorities on all sides of politics were against the demands now made. The House of Commons of 1866, a long and unbroken succession of Secretaries of State and of Viceroys, with their respective Councils, were to be put in the one scale, as against a single Governor of Bombay on the other. Parliament having deliberately created the Indian Council for the express purpose of guarding the India Treasury, was the House of Commons, yielding to pressure against which the Council was guarded. going to pass a Resolution in the very teeth of the Indian Council, which would be inoperative unless the sum of £600,000 should be straightway taken out of the Indian Treasury and given to various claimants whom the Council, in spite of their natural sympathies with men along with many of whom they had lived all their lives, believed to have no just claim whatever upon the Indian Treasury. He could not believe a proceeding so unjust and impolitic as the re-opening of this question by referring it to a Royal Commission would find favour with the House. With regard to the present organization of the Indian Army, it was the result of very extraordinary and terrible events, the suddenness of which hardly allowed the country or its rulers to consider what should be done with the calmness and deliberation appropriate to great affairs. Possibly what was done was the best that could have been done under all the circumstances. Very possibly it was, but he would not say that as modified by what had been done since, it was the final outcome of human sagacity. The mode in which European officers were supplied to the Native Army of India, and to certain civil and political offices and Departments deserved careful scrutiny, and it, or indeed all the matters referred to in his hon. and learned Friend's Motion, might be susceptible of improvement. Many unjust strictures as well as some just ones had been directed against the Staff Corps, which had been held responsible for things which formed no part of it as originally devised, and would form no part of it, if it were to exist till the end of the century. The unhappy plethora of field officers formed no part of the original Staff Corps organization, but was the result of a Resolution carried in that House against Sir Charles Wood and the then Government of India; and the adoption of' this Resolution would repeat one of the worst mistakes over made in Indian government. The act which produced this plethora was taken by the late Conservative Government; but neither it nor any other Government could, under the circumstances, have done otherwise. Its consequences, however, would cease as soon as the officers of the old local Army then allowed to join the Staff Corps had died out, which in the nature of things would happen before the end of the century. The number of field officers, indeed, would reach its maximum in about four years, and by 1891 or so, the Staff Corps, if it existed, would be constituted as originally intended. The anticipations of enormously increased colonels' allowances were the result partly of miscalculations, but largely of a desire that such miscalculations should be correct; many officers in India being anxious, as there happily seemed no' prospect of active service, to get a good round sum from the Government in compensation for their prospective allowances, and to bid India adieu. The last figures put before him showed that while in 1861 the officers' pay and colonels' allowances amounted to £2,046,993, and in 1871 to £2,128,095, in 1881 the sum would be £2,180,510, and in 1801 only £1,914,859. Obviously, therefore, the writers who predicted a terrible burden to the Indian taxpayer from colonels' allowances had forgotten to set off the diminished amount of pay to effective officers and retiring pensions. He might go on to point out that in many other ways the Staff Corps had had scant justice done to it by half-informed opinion. Nevertheless, he did not come down tonight to defend it as a perfect machine, or even to assert that it would be a permanent institution. The tenor of advices from India was such as to lead the Government to believe that the present Viceroy was going to take up the whole subject of our military organization, and to examine it impartially, precisely in the way in which the hon. and learned Member for King's Lynn desired that it should be examined by a Royal Commission. He had telegraphed to this country, begging the Government in the very strongest way not to complicate his position by agreeing to the appointment of a Royal Commission, and his hon. and learned Friend would doubtless be unwilling to increase the Viceroy's difficulties. If Lord Northbrook and the Home Government, in whatever hands that Government might be, failed to place the local military service in India on such a footing as might be acceptable to his hon. and learned Friend, then it would be time enough to move for a Royal Commission. He trusted his hon. and learned Friend would feel that he had done enough by calling public attention to the subject in a very able speech, and by eliciting from him (Mr. Grant Duff), as the representative of the Government of India here and in India, the fact that the Government was prepared to—nay, he might say, had actually begun to, take the large subject which he had laid before them into its consideration.


being the only Member of that House who had served on the Council with Lord Canning in India at the time when the change was introduced, felt it due to that Nobleman's memory to bear testimony to the fact that he was in no degree responsible for that measure. The changes which led to the deplorable results described by the hon. and learned Member for King's Lynn were forced in successive steps upon Lord Canning's Government by influences at home. Under the old system, prior to the establishment of the Staff Corps, we had an Indian Army, separate from that of the Queen, the supply of its officers being kept up by the nomination of cadets, who were generally the sons of country gentlemen who had been connected with India. On the amalgamation of the Armies that system was recklessly destroyed. There never, in his opinion, was a greater want of political wisdom shown than in the measures which were adopted in consequence of the transfer of the East Indian Service to the Crown. The Staff Corps was regarded at the time as a means of recruiting our Indian officers from the Queen's officers who chanced at the time to be serving in India. The assimilation of the services, however, was to lead to the necessity of establishing a most expensive Staff Corps with very great prizes, and to the general adoption of the Irregular instead of the Regular system. The testimony of all military men, however, who were connected with India was, that, in order to make the Native regiments efficient for actual warfare the first condition was that they should have a large complement of European officers. Even the Madras regiments, which had been so much decried, had on many occasions done good service, when they were led to action by European officers whom they respected, and who set them a gallant example. When, however, these were converted into Irregular regiments they were worth nothing; therefore, in his judgment, it was impossible to reconcile efficiency with economy so long as the Irregular system was made the starting point. While he perceived the magnitude of the evil, he hailed with great satisfaction the pledge of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State that the Staff Corps should not be a permanent institution. He hoped, however, the authorities who would have to consider the matter, would be prepared to go a good deal further, and that if they were satisfied the system founded contrary to the advice of Lord Canning in 1861 was a failure, they would be prepared to sweep it away, giving of course a liberal compensation to all vested interests. As regarded compensation to officers, he wished to vindicate the memory of Lord Canning, and also his Advisers, from all responsibility for what had since occurred. He could say that had his hands been as free to deal with the Indian Army as he had been to deal with the Indian Navy, none of this discontent would have occurred. It had been too much the custom to appoint officers who had names from birth, rather than from merit to high and efficient positions, thereby destroying that emulation which was necessary in the Army. More than that the Government had resorted to a system of economy, which was not consistent with efficiency. His experience in India proved to him that the most economical way in which the grievances in question could have been dealt with, was by the adoption of the policy to which the Secretary for War had recourse in abolishing Purchase—namely, the giving of a just and liberal compensation to all who had vested interests. They had had a body of officers for an Army of 250,000 men, but from the effects of the Mutiny and the financial exigences of the war, that number was reduced to 130,000. The difficulties which necessarily resulted would have been best met by the adoption, not of half measures, but of a liberal policy, for the most fruitful source of extravagance was ill-timed parsimony. He believed that that like other serious evils, had arisen from the united wisdom of the Governor and his Council in India being controlled and over-ruled by the Government at Home. He had more confidence in Lord Northbrook getting out of the difficulty than in a Royal Commission dealing with the matter; and therefore he could not vote for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member, although he cordially agreed in all he had said, and trusted that after the assurance of the Under Se- cretary of State, he would not go to a division.


hoped his hon. and learned Friend who had brought the question forward would be content with the discussion that had taken place, and would not press his Motion to a division, especially when he considered that it had taken so satisfactory a direction. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that India had suffered to a considerable extent from the way in which this country had interfered with the Indian Government. What had been the weakness of the present Army system of India was, that there had been too great a desire to make it as a whole into an Irregular Army, and the adoption of that course had led to considerable difficulties. A mistake was made at first, so far as the officers were concerned, in not looking the matter boldly in the face, and compensating those officers who were not required, and parting with them on satisfactory terms both to themselves and to the Government. He hoped the Government would still deal boldly and liberally in the matter, and that they would place the system on a footing which would be perfectly satisfactory and sound. He did not think the Staff corps as at present organized could be maintained without alteration but Lord Northbrook, whose service in India had given the highest promise of a useful and valuable Viceroyalty, could be safely entrusted to deal with the matter. He fully concurred in the opinion that it was most injudicious to interfere in Indian affairs by the action of Parliament or of Royal Commissions in matters which could not possibly be so well understood at home. The position of the Indian Army was very different from that of our home Army. He also thought it very unadvisable that the House should much discuss the claims of any particular class of Indian officers on the Indian Treasury; and holding that view, he dissented from the views put forward by the noble Lord the Member for Haddington. Two Commissions respecting them had decided against them, and Lord Cranborne's proposals were fully accepted by the House, and had been as fully carried out; and that being so, he did not think it would be right to affirm, in any way, that any officers should receive more money than had been awarded to them by the responsible officers—especially when the money to be paid for the purpose was to come out of the hands of people not represented in that House. He hoped the Motion would not be pressed, but that a satisfactory conclusion would be arrived at by the ordinary Government machinery for the purpose.


said, he hoped the House would not accept the views of the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon as being shared by those who sat behind him. There was a wide difference between the officers in the English Army who could have their position and mode of service changed at any moment, and the officers of the Indian Army who had been taken over from the East India Company, and with whom the British Government had on many occasions broken faith in the most glaring manner. The fact that that was being done was perfectly well known to the Native populations, who not unnaturally asked themselves whether they were not likely to share the fate of the Army which was charged with the maintenance of the Empire. It would have a bad effect upon them, which was very impolitic, when it was considered that the amount of money at stake was really very small. The Government had paid large sums of money to English officers in respect of purely illegal transactions, whilst they refused that small consideration to the Indian officers, who had right on their side.


would be glad if the Government could see their way to modify their policy with regard to the claims of the Indian officers. He would be prepared to support a substantial proposition to compensate those officers who had suffered loss by the abolition of the bonus system.


thought it a scandal that officers should be promoted, not according to the requirements of the service, but by seniority, without any reference to their particular merits or usefulness. There could be no doubt that the Indian Army was less efficient than it was in former times. He was one of those who thought that it was only in cases of extreme urgency that the House should take upon itself the grave responsibility of interfering between the Government of India in India, and itself, and he also concurred in the opinion expressed—that no man could be more fitted to take up this question than Lord Northbrook. He was afraid that the Indian Office at Home had been smitten with an apathy on this subject, and thought that they should be now aroused to the necessity of greater activity. He joined cordially with those who had preceded him, in thinking that the question should not be allowed to sleep, and that before another Session of Parliament they would receive an assurance to that effect.


understanding that the subject was now being considered by the Government, begged leave to withdraw his Motion. ["No, no!"]

Question put, and agreed to.