§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
, in moving that the number of Land Forces for the Service of the United Kingdom be 128,994, said: After the interesting discussion to which we have just listened on the subject of the recent war in Ashantee, I am afraid that the somewhat detailed statement which I shall have to offer to the House will be rather distasteful; but, at the same time, those who are interested in the success of our Army such as has been achieved in that 433 country, must be anxious that our Army at home should be maintained in such a condition that whenever expeditions like that to the Gold Coast have to be sent out, our men will be found in a condition to fulfil their duties. With regard to the present condition of our Army I shall have to call the attention of the House to various circumstances affecting it which have occurred during the last few years. During the time the noble Lord my predecessor (Viscount Cardwell) occupied the office I have now the honour to fill—that is to say, during the last four or five years—various great changes were made in the constitution of our Army. Thus in 1870 short service was brought into practice and bounties were abolished, and in 1871 purchase was abolished. I may here state, although it is not a matter connected with the Estimates, that the sum which is required for satisfying the claims of officers on retiring for this year will be £657,000. That sum may appear larger than was expected; but the state of the case is this—formerly a deduction was made on account of the amount repaid by India, but now the Indian repayment will go into the Exchequer; so that the amount will appear in the document which will be next year laid upon the Table. In 1872 the localization of the Army was set on foot, and brigade depôts were formed, with the view of combining the two Armies of Reserve with the Regular Forces. With regard to the abolition of purchase that matter appears as far as fact is concerned to be finally settled; and we must take the question as one that cannot be re-opened; but, nevertheless, there are many subsidiary questions connected with the abolition of purchase which still remain to be determined, and I only wish that those who abolished the system of purchase had been able, while they were in office, to provide for all the different and difficult circumstances which have arisen in consequence, and which I am afraid it will be my painful duty to make arrangements to meet. I do not intend to enter on the present occasion into the matters connected with this question, which are now under the consideration of the Royal Commission, because until the Report of that Commission is before the House, it would be presumptuous and indecorous for me 434 to express an opinion with regard to them. I shall have an opportunity of forming a judgment upon the decision to which the Commission may come on the different points, when they present their Report, and should it then become necessary, in accordance with the judgment I may form, to bring any points connected with the question again before the House, I shall not shrink from doing so, nor from asking its decision upon them. I am satisfied that in dealing with the Estimates I am now about to submit for its approval, the Committee will do me the justice of remembering how short a time they have been before me—it being scarcely a month since I assumed the office I now fill, and there being many other matters besides the preparation of the Estimates which have largely occupied my attention. I am quite sure the Committee will not expect me to give an opinion on the subject so soon after my assumption of office, and I feel that until upon full consideration I determine upon a different policy it is my duty to carry out the proposals of my predecessor (Viscount Cardwell), but which he has been unable to carry into effect, and therefore in substance, and with the exception of a few matters of detail, the Estimates I am about to lay before it are those of that noble Lord, which I believe he had prepared, although he had not actually submitted them to the Cabinet, before he left office. Under these circumstances, without offering either praise or blame, and while fully aware that there are some matters which will require further consideration, I shall submit the Estimates to the Committee as well as I ant able at this time, without pledging myself as to the future limit of expense to the country, in order that it may acquire a knowledge of the present condition of things in connection with the service, reserving for future consideration all great questions which may arise with regard to Retirement, Promotion, the steps necessary to secure greater efficiency in the Reserves, Recruiting, and the Brigade Depôts. I may, however, tell the Committee that it may be requisite for the country to incur some considerable expense for necessary works and buildings, works which from time to time have been put off on the ground of the country having had to incur a large expenditure in con- 435 nection with the Fortifications Loan and with the loan for building the brigade depôts, which seemed to render it expedient to defer all works which were not of pressing urgency. The time has now arrived, however, when the construction of these works and buildings can be no longer delayed, for although many married soldiers' quarters have been built, yet many more are required, and I am certain that the Committee will not grudge the money required for such buildings as married soldiers' quarters, which are calculated to confer such a great benefit upon the Army. With a view to more efficient administration, Lord Cardwell, in bringing forward the Army Estimates in 1870, spoke of the necessity there was for bringing the Horse Guards and the War Office under one roof, and contemplated a building adequate properly to contain them; nothing, however, has been done to bring about that result. For that, I am sorry, although it does not concern myself, and, as it is not likely that new buildings will be raised during my tenure of office, I hope something may soon be done, for I doubt whether there is any other office in which file clerks are more inconveniently and more unhealthily housed. In that year, 1870, Lord Cardwell stated that the then First Commissioner of Works was engaged in preparing a plan for a new building which would accommodate all branches of the War Department; but the plan for such a building was only presented with much timidity last year, was withdrawn at the first sign of opposition, and things remain just as they were in 1870, except that the union of the two offices has taken place under these unfavourable conditions. The sanitary condition of the present building is such that some of the inmates are absolutely unfit for work after they have been engaged in it for a few hours, the atmosphere occasioning severe headache. Of my own apartments I cannot complain, as they are well ventilated and have abundance of room, but I have experienced considerable delay in conducting the business of the office, in consequence of the different branches being so widely separated. Turning to the question of recruiting, I have to state that the number of recruits who joined the Army during 1873 was 17,194, of which 7,340 were long-service men and 9,854 en- 436 gaged for short service. The Report of the Inspector General for Recruiting will shortly be laid upon the Table of the House, but as it has not been submitted, I may shortly state what the present condition of our recruiting is. I have made very careful inquiries into this subject that. I may not be misled, and with the view of removing any misunderstanding with reference to it which may exist, and it appears that the recruiting is what is called adequate for the present numbers of the Army in the present year—that is to say, that the ranks of the Army, with the exception of the Artillery, have been filled by the recruits. Then it will be asked—are the recruits of a character to fit them to become efficient soldiers? I have made inquiries into the subject, and I am assured from all the reports, both from medical and from commanding officers, that the character of the recruits is satisfactory. No doubt, men are recruited younger than was the case formerly; but the fact is that the state of the labour market prevents us from obtaining adult recruits, wages being so high; but, although our present recruits are supposed by some not to possess adequate stamina, by means of steady work and good feeding they become very healthy, and acquire a physique which fits them for the duties they have to perform. In confirmation, I may say that although I was not present at the last Autumn Manœuvres, I am informed that the men engaged there proved themselves to possess ample physical power to enable them to do what was required from them. Now, in the Cavalry and the Infantry there has been a slight increase; the only deficiency is in the gunners of the Artillery, and that is now being supplied. I believe I am right in saying that this period of the year is one of the least favourable to recruiting—that the Array practically stands now at its lowest ebb, that the drafts are going out to India, and that the ranks will soon begin gradually to fill up. On the general state of the recruiting I can, if the Committee wish, show how it has gone on during every month of the year; but that I do not regard as necessary, and perhaps, it will be sufficient for me to say the general results are favourable. While admitting that there is a sufficient number for the present force, the Inspector General looks forward with considerable doubt and apprehension to 437 the period, which is gradually approaching, when greater numbers of the men will he drafted into the Reserve than at present. In the year 1876 this increased drafting will begin. In that year it will not be necessary to provide for such a great number of short-service men as has been generally imagined; but in subsequent years, it will become a question of thousands instead of hundreds, and therefore you will have to provide for recruiting under that new condition of affairs. That is one of the questions which will have to be solved. I do not intend to express any opinion upon it, but. I will repeat what is said by the Inspector General—that the question of pension has always been held as the ultimate resort, in addition to the inducements which are offered at present. You have instituted an absolutely new system of recruiting. You are recruiting at your brigade depôts under the lieutenant colonel commanding, who takes the command of the whole district, and F do not think it would be fair or just to judge by a single year of what can be done under that brigade system. There are certain parts where it is admitted to have failed—in the thinly-populated rural parts of the country and in the sea-coast towns, where the inhabitants rather give their sons to the naval service—but the failure in these parts has been compensated by keeping up our old recruiting establishments in London and Dublin. But for the present, at all events, the House will see that I leave open the question as to what it will be necessary to do hereafter in order to encourage recruiting, and turning from the subject, I come to the question which is very much connected with it—namely, the question of desertion. Now, there can be no doubt that desertion has gone on upon a scale which is extremely unsatisfactory, and I hope that some new conditions which are about to be instituted with respect to recruiting may tend to the diminution of desertions. If not already issued, there will be new terms offered in a Circular which is about to be issued, by which the short-service system of the Infantry will be extended to a certain extent to the Cavalry and Artillery. In Infantry the time is six years with the colours and six with the Reserve. In the Cavalry, it is proposed that it shall be eight years with the colours and four 438 years with the Reserve. These periods were practically settled before I came into office, but they have been fixed after consultation with the military authorities, and there are many reasons which Gentlemen more conversant with the Army than I am can explain, why a longer period of service should be required from a Cavalry than from an Infantry soldier. One reason is that a Cavalry soldier takes a longer time to make, and that, therefore, you ought to have longer use of him than of an Infantry soldier. With respect to the Artillery, it is also proposed to have eight years with the colours and four with the Reserve. In the Engineers and the Army Service Corps, it is proposed that there should be six years with the colours and six with the Reserve. There are also other powers with respect to our soldiers which have not yet been put in force. At the end of three years a man may, with his own consent, and the consent of his commanding officer, be transferred to the Reserve. In that way you may get rid of desertion to some extent, by allowing those who are wearied of the Army to retire. On the other hand, there is a provision that, at the end of three years' service, a man who desires to continue a soldier may enlist for the remaining nine years, and may make his service a long service, In that way you may remove those whom it is least desirable to keep, and you may retain those who are really in earnest, who have volunteered to serve for the nine years, and who are the men whom you would try to attract to the service. [Mr. HOLMS: Does that measure apply to the whole service generally?] I see that the Circular is general in its terms. In future, recruits will be enlisted in the sub-districts cither for the brigade of the sub-district in which they are engaged, or for a brigade belonging to any other sub-district, or for any special corps. We shall thus have recruits for special service and for general service, and it seems to me calculated both to attract and retain recruits that they should be able to join with the bodies of men with whom they desire to serve. With respect to desertion, I find that in the year which has just passed—1873—our net loss by desertion was 3,917 men. That gives a percentage on the recruiting for the whole Army of 33 per cent. but that desertion varied 439 much in different branches of the service. In the Household Cavalry it was 20 per rent; in the Cavalry of the Line, 39 per cent; in the Royal Artillery, 39 per cent; in the Royal Engineers, 24 per cent; in the Foot Guards, 51 per cent; in the, Infantry of the Line, 30 per cent.; in the Army Service Corps—in which, however, the recruits were 26 and the deserters 37–146 per cent (a laugh); and in the Army Hospital Corps, 3 per cent. It has been said that this is scarcely a fair way of estimating the desertions, but it was the only satisfactory way in which you could show what the balance was from the desertion on the one hand, and the recruiting on the other. The gross number of soldiers, with under one year's service, who deserted in the past year was 2,101; with between two and three years' service, 889; and with over two years' service, 2,332. In connection with this part of the subject, I think that what is wanted is some plan which will put a stop to desertion, or which will, at least, make the condition of the Army such that desertion will be reduced as much as is possible, so as to have a body of men on whose services we can rely. I come now to the question of the Militia, and I find that there is not much difference in the recruiting of the Militia between last year and preceding years. Between the trainings of 1872 and 1873, the number of recruits for the Militia amounted to 27,253, and during the same period the quota it gave to the Army was 4,312; but the recruiting for the Militia does not keep that body to its full establishment. In respect to the Militia recruiting there have been great changes. In the first place, the labour market affects the Militia in the same way as it does the Army. Then there is the prospect of objectionable quarters, and I am told that the probability of having to servo under canvas has had a deterrent effect. Then, again, there is the bounty, which, instead of lasting five years as formerly, is now spread over six years. Upon this point I will not dwell, as I do not like to express any opinion upon it; but I doubt whether it is just or fair that the Militia, who expected their bounty to be spread over five years, should now find it spread over six. With regard to the strength of our Army, we have within a few men the same number as we had last year. We have 128,99 men, with the same 440 deduction as before as to the 3,964 men who will be with the brigade depôts. Hon. Members will observe, if they look at the Estimates, and compare them with the Estimates of last year, that we have different regimental arrangements this year. There are two regiments who will go to India from the Colonies, and there will therefore be two fewer regiments in England at a strength of 820, because two regiments of that strength will be found for India elsewhere. There will be thus nine regiments instead of seven, at 820 men, and there will be two instead of four at homo. We have 55 regiments at a minimum of 520, and 15 preparing to go out at a strength of 600 men, and leaving at the same time, 100 men at the depôts. I have seen remarks made upon the peculiarities of the Estimates as they are presented, because there appears to be a great apparent decrease in the pay of men, and a largo increase in the cost of their supplies. It arises, as those who are conversant with military matters know, from the change consequent upon the abolition of stoppage for rations, which was effected by my predecessor. The decrease is mainly in regimental pay; beer money, which amounting to £123,000 is done away with; and the transference of payments to Army accountants, which is a new item. The paymasters were to a great extent included, who used to be included in the first Vote. the Paymasters' department is now called the "Department of Army Accountants," and there is a Vote of £95,639 in the Estimates for the present year which used to appear in Vote No. 1. Whether the Army should be paid by Army accountants or by the ordinary paymasters is a question which requires very grave consideration. The post of paymaster used to be coveted by men who desired to retire from active service. The work is now done by a body of Army accountants, who are to a large extent composed of paymasters. There are, however, about 20 vacancies for paymasters, in addition to about 40 other posts which are not yet filled up. It is intended that the Army accountants should pay for the whole kingdom, and that they should have the control of all the accounts. This may be a prudent and wise economy; but I have not yet had time to give the subject the careful study which it demands, 441 therefore I trust that the Committee will excuse my reserving my opinion upon it. This is perhaps, a good opportunity of explaining what is the real condition of the Estimates throughout. The increased prices of food and supplies add £ 124,000 to the provision and forage item. There is also an increase arising from the additional pay of the men, who used to receive 10½d. a day but now receive 1s. a day net. That causes an increase of £110,000 in the pay of the men. There is then an increase of £19,000 in other regimental pay and allowances. One of those is for "good conduct pay," which I am sure no hon. Member of this House will grudge. It will, however, be a diminishing item as the short-service comes into operation. There is also an increase of £15,700 in the Staff and other charges in Vote 1, and an increase under the head of Divine Service of £1,300, not for chaplains, but under the head of officiating clergymen. There is an increase £9,100 under the head of Education, Miscellaneous Services, and Administration of the Army; of £3,600 under the head of Control Establishments. With other items, the summary for the whole increase of charge on the Army Estimates for 1874–5 is £282,700. There is on the other hand, a reduction under the head of Stores. We find that the supply of stores is so full and efficient that we can dispense with the payment of £ 100,000 under this head. There is also a diminution of £16,700 under the head of Works. There was an item under this head which I must take upon myself the responsibility of having struck out. It was proposed to build barracks for Infantry at Sandhurst in order that the young men might see them manœuvred. It appeared to me, however, that Sandhurst was sufficiently near to Aldershot to bring over not only Cavalry and Artillery, but Infantry when they were required, and to place them under canvas. I therefore struck out the item of £8,000 for building these barracks. There is a diminution of £16,000 in the charge for the Auxiliary Forces, and a decrease of £40,000 for the Autumn Manœuvres, which I will explain at the proper place. There is also a diminution of £4,900 under the items Military Law and Medical Establishments and Services, and a reduction of £35,900 for the Non-effective Services. Those diminutions will reduce the Estimates by 442 £213,500, and they make the net increase £69,200. Practically, the Committee may consider that there is no increase at all, but rather a decrease, if the increase of £124,000 rendered necessary by the higher prices of food is considered. I should like to say a few words here as to the sanitary condition of the Army, and if the Committee will allow me, I will read the Report of the Director General of the Army Medical Department. He says:—The result as to the health of the troops in the United Kingdom during the year has been satisfactory. The ratio of admissions to hospital per 1,000 of the strength was 20 below that for 1372, and although the ratio of deaths was rather higher than during that year, it was 33 below the average of the previous 10 years. It will be observed that the results for the three Indian Presidencies, those of Bengal and Bombay in particular, are more than usually favourable. At Mauritius the ratios of sickness and mortality were high, from the continued prevalence of the malarious fever by which that island has been so severely visited during the last few years.Except in one instance, therefore, it will appear that the condition of the Army is satisfactory the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) has given Notice of an Amendment to reduce this small Army by 10,000 men. I call it a small Army, because it has to supply not only England, but India and the Colonies, and it would be idle to talk of an Army of Reserve if you have not an army sufficiently large through which your Reserve are to pass. It is quite true that we are at peace with all the world; but we never know when wars may break out—whether in Europe, India, or in the Colonies, besides which, the question is, whether this Army of 125,000 men can be considered excessive for a great country like England, so that you can reduce it by 10,000 men? The hon. Member wants to reduce the Vote in the lump, and to leave us to find out how and where to take the number from, and yet keep up the Army in proper condition. Now, this House has gone on improving the education and the scientific branches of the Army, and this is not so much a question of reducing the Infantry as reducing your Scientific Corps and Cavalry. The Committee also know what essential service science is now rendering to our Army, and they are not, I hope, prepared to diminish cither the number or efficiency of the scientific branches of the service, 443 The hon. Member seems to be afraid that we are going to compete with the great Continental armies. He takes the reduction en bloc; but when he speaks of the armies of Continental Europe as ready for action, and prepared for movement in any other country, he should remember that our Army is not one that threatens any human being either on the Continent or any where else; and if we were involved in a war in which it became necessary to send our Army abroad—and I hope no such accident will occur—it must then be regarded merely as the nucleus of the Army which it would be necessary to raise if it had to compete with those on the Continent. I remember that in an amusing speech delivered not long ago in this House, the hon. Member objected to our Army as withdrawing men from peaceful industry at home. As a nation of shopkeepers we have generally been addicted to peaceful industries, and if one is to judge by the vast number of trading associations that are swarming in every direction, and the prospectuses of which leave us no peace in our own homes, I think we need have no fear of disturbing the peaceful industry of the people who are, perhaps, rushing into a great many industries from which they had better abstain. I trust, however, that the Committee will have the good souse to maintain an Army which a Government claiming to be economical—and I do not dispute their title—regarded as not too great for the occasion and for the demands made upon it. I will now say a few words with regard to the education of the officers. I have been asked a Question relating to Sandhurst—not the Staff College, but the Military School there, and I will now say with regard to it, that the position of Sandhurst gives the impression that the Army was made for it and not it for the Army. It was thought proper to do away with the Military School for young men preparing to enter the Army. Some use had to be made of the empty buildings, and it was extraordinary that the plan should have been adopted that young officers should first join their regiments, and afterwards go to school. I speak with the more confidence of the want of knowledge of human nature which this scheme showed, because this system having been instituted by my predecessor, was also given up by him. 444 I have merely completed what was in course of preparation. I will now state frankly to the Committee that what I propose to do with Sandhurst, I do experimentally. We propose that for the future, after the first examination—the successful candidates will go straight to Sandhurst. If they had to join Colonial or Indian regiments, sublieutenants heretofore have not gone to Sandhurst, but to their regiments, and their future studies were there completed under garrison instruction; but if you continue to send young men who have passed their Civil Service examination, and are therefore in a condition to enter the Army, it must be a question whether they should all of them, both English and Indian, go to Sandhurst; but inasmuch as we have had as yet no negotiations with the Indian Government upon that point, I assume that both those for the Colonies and India will, for the present, join their depôts at once. Those who go to Sandhurst, will be placed on an unattached list, and will not be posted to their regiments till after they have been a year at the Military College. But there are some for whom no commissions may be ready. They will go as students to Sandhurst, and probably will have to pay some small sum while they remain uncommissioned. With respect to those now completing the term of their year's service as sublieutenants in the Army, none of them will be sent to Sandhurst. They will be provided with education under the Director General of Military Education, and stops will be taken, as they do not go to Sandhurst, that they have the fullest opportunity of obtaining a satisfactory military education. With regard to Woolwich, a change is about to be made here also. It has been found that in the examination, Latin has been too much exalted, that it has diminished the knowledge of mathematics, which is essential to the education of an engineer. Additional force has, therefore, been given to mathematics, and I trust that a better state of things will be the result. There have been instances where the best mathematicians have been unable to pass successfully in Latin or modern languages, but they have been found of the very first ability as mathematicians, and have risen rapidly to the highest place there. Without a thorough knowledge of mathematics, a man cannot be either a good 445 Engineer or Artillery officer. I pass on from the subject of education to the mode in which the Army will be armed. With reference to the time at which the Army will be supplied with the Martini Henry rifle, which some people have said will be very long, I have got some information which I think will be satisfactory to the Committee. At present, practically, the whole of the Force have the Snider breech-loaders. In a few weeks the whole of the Infantry will, I hope, have the Martini-Henry rifle. By to-morrow there will be 140,000 Martini-Henry rifles in store, and during this year there will be a further number of 10,000 provided. In stock there are 60,000,000 rounds of small-arm ammunition ready for issue. With respect to the question of the sword-bayonet, no absolute decision has been come to, but the old bayonet has been adapted to the Martini-Henry rifle at very small cost—about 2s. each With respect to Horse and Field Artillery, foreigners themselves being judges, our muzzle-loading!) and 16-pounders are said to be equal to any arm in Europe, and the Force will be efficiently armed with them. With respect to gunpowder, we have a very large stock also of pebble powder, and it has been found that common powder can be converted into pebble powder at a very small cost. With respect to these stores, I may say, from the information I have received, and making the statement on the authority of persons perfectly conversant with the subject, they are of a very efficient character, and the Reserves are quite sufficient. With respect to the Autumn Manœuvres, I will state shortly what is proposed to be done. Those who have read the Report of the last Autumn Manœuvres will be aware that His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief has proposed that there should not always be Autumn Manœuvres, but changes in the disposition of troops and training—and there will this year be two separate trainings of from 10,000 to 12,000 men at Aldershot—one in June and another in July. These, of course, will be of a less expensive character than last year, because they will be made with our present transport, and thus save the £40,000 which was spent last year on horses and transport. I come now to the question of the Militia, and let me say that the Reports of Sir Charles Staveley and 446 other officers at the Autumn Manœuvres were very satisfactory with regard to the Militia Force. On the whole, the Inspectors were satisfied with them; and the kind of training the officers received with the Regular Army promised to make them most efficient. The numbers enrolled on the 1st of February, 1874, were 101,464; there is, therefore, a deficiency on the establishment of 27,462 men. I ought to mention that there are 294 officers attending the School of Instruction, and of those who have passed the School of Instruction, who may add P.S. to their names, there are 753 in the Army List. There is a Militia. Reserve of 29,903, with an Army Reserve of 7,619, making a total of 37,522 men available for foreign service if occasion should arise. Last year there were 127 commissions offered to the Militia; of those there were not so many taken up as we had hoped. Thirty-five have been granted, and as there is to be another examination in April next, there will probably be a greater number disposed of. With respect to the examination of officers passing from the Militia into the Army, it was stated by Lord Cardwell to be such as any gentleman of education might undergo; but, unfortunately, some of those gentlemen of education had not passed, and they complained that only two chances were given to the Militia, so that if they failed twice they could not go up again to be examined. In April next, however, as I before observed, by a relaxation of the rule made in the time of my predecessor, there will be a third examination, when we may hope a larger number will be successful. With respect to the Militia, there are now confidential Reports, which tend to make the authorities better acquainted with the character, skill, and conduct of officers than they have been heretofore. These confidential Reports are to be extended, not only to the Militia, but to the other Auxiliary Forces. With respect to what is to be done in the Militia, it is proposed that there shall be two battalions at brigade depots, just as the Line has two battalions forming one regiment; the recruiting being regimental, and the promotion of officers being also regimental. That has not been to a great extent carried into effect; the recruiting in many places has not been sufficient, and it will be necessary to consider some changes in 447 reference to this point. In the present year it is proposed that there should be a reduction in the permanent Staff, which is steadily going on, but it must go on gradually as vacancies occur. It is proposed that there should be only one Adjutant for both battalions, but in the event of the men being called out for training at the same time, another adjutant would be supplied. There will be, of course, in every new battalion a new field officer, and that officer will be taken from the Army, and, if possible, be a resident of the county. Of the same description will be a half of the captains, while the other half will consist of promoted subalterns. There have also been many changes made with regard to quarter-masters, and others are in progress. The question of grouping the regiments has been mentioned, and it must have occurred to those who have looked into the matter that both in Wales and in other parts of the country the bodies of Militia for the different counties are very small—too small, indeed, for real efficiency. But when you come to consider how the grouping of the forces of different counties may be carried out, it is found that a good deal of prejudice and local feeling naturally intervene and cannot fairly be disregarded. It is desirable, if possible, that we should proceed in this matter by gentle, and not by violent means. In Scotland, I believe, the grouping has been carried into effect with very great advantage, and without the jealousy which I am told prevails in some parts of England and Wales, and I am not without hope that by means of further explanations we may be enabled to overcome some of the difficulties which at present stand in the way. With regard to Ireland there is a special objection raised—namely, that there are a great many regiments not only small, but some practically unformed, and, consequently, some steps will have to be taken with regard to them. There will—to allude to another point—be 17 regiments of Militia reduced by two or more companies, because they are unable to maintain their proper strength; but this I hope, like the grouping of regiments, will be done gradually. A word next as to the Army Reserve. This is but a very small body, consisting of somewhere above 7,000 men, part of whom, forming Class A, have entered it for five years, and have no other connection with 448 the Regular Army, except having once been in it; while there are others, composing Class C, who have been transferred from the Regular Army to the Reserve, in order to complete their period of service. This Army Reserve is paid by the country—perhaps not very highly, but still it is a paid body; and this being so, we ought not to have it only coming up to receive its pay, but ought to be able to put our hand upon it when it is required. At present it is quite obvious that there is a great want of means of acting upon this Army Reserve. Suppose they refused to conic forward when called upon in time of war, we might proceed against them as deserters; but suppose that in time of peace the men belonging to Class A neglect their duty, as some of them did, for instance, when they ought to have been going to the Autumn Manœuvres, you really have no means of punishing them, for removal from the Reserve may be no punishment. Then as to these men in Class C, you cannot transfer them back to their regiments, and if you dismiss them from the Reserve, it is only giving them a release which otherwise they would have to pay for by a sum of £20. These are things which call for some further legislation, because it is evident that if this want of control is to be tolerated, the Army Reserve must become a mere fictitious thing. A system by which every man should be compelled to present himself when called upon seems to me to be necessary. In short, the question affecting the Army Reserve is simply one of discipline. With respect to the Yeomanry, there is no increase in the Vote this year, but there is a slight change to be introduced, for in some of the more important cases, instead of a sergeant-major acting as adjutant, there will be a Cavalry captain appointed to the post, and of course the latter must be treated on a somewhat different footing from the former. The figures before me show that the Yeomanry—a body consisting of 15,129 men—has been working pretty efficiently, and now that it is inspected by selected Army Cavalry officers, on a regular system, there is reason to hope that in the future it will be still more efficient. Mounted drill with the Westley-Richards breech-loader, and dismounted drill are being carried on in such a way as to render the Force really effective for the kind of work it would be 449 called upon, in the event of an invasion, to discharge, and although an invasion of this country is an eventuality not so much talked of in these days as it used to be, yet there are Continental critics "ho maintain that it is quite within the bounds of possibility. With respect to the Volunteers, who form the remainder of the Auxiliary forces, there is no doubt, they have been, as to numbers, in a state of backwardness and decadence for several years past. Originally the number of enrolled men—far, however, from efficient men—was 199,000; this year there are only 153,000, but these are efficient, and in paying for them, you are paying for something which is far more worth having than what formerly existed. Although I should be glad to see the numbers of the Volunteers keep up, it is still more important that they should be in a state of efficiency, and I learn from the Reports of the Inspector General that they are more efficient now than they have been for a number of years past, and this is a result with which the Committee has reason to be satisfied, although in numbers there has been a very great and continual falling off. We find also a slight increase in the number of the officers. Last year there were 2,233 officers wanting, while this year there are only 2,164. The Volunteers, however, have a larger proportion of officers than the Regular Army, and, in the country districts especially, it is unavoidably difficult to find men qualified for the duties. In connection with this Force, permit me to say that it is proposed to modify some of the rules with regard to efficiency. It is proposed under the new scheme, which will shortly be out, that whereas for two or three years past, all Volunteers have had to fire five rounds in squads of not less than five files, in future the requirement will be that recruits only should lire five rounds, and this in squads of not less than two files. Secondly, instead of requiring that, exclusive of the permanent Staff, there should be not less than a hundred men present at a battalion drill, not less than 16 of these to be officers and sergeants, the minimum number will in future be 80, of whom not less than 16 must be officers and sergeants. Then, instead of 20 being the minimum number required at a company drill, it will in future be only 16, while the number of officers and sergeants will 450 be reduced from three to two. It has been thought, not only at head-quarters but by the commanding officers and the Inspectors of Volunteers, and by the commanding officers in the brigade districts, that these new provisions will be sufficient to secure efficiency. They will at the same time give great relief to the Volunteer officers and men. There have been some complaints, and it has been under consideration whether some examination cannot be provided for Volunteer officers at the brigade depôts. As no plan has yet been matured, I need not detain the Committee by referring further to the point. Not less than 1,712 officers have passed through the existing Schools of Instruction, and obtained certificates of efficiency, and this, I think, is very satisfactory. Including all the different Forces to which I have referred, the total number of men is about 430,000. With regard to the brigade depôts, I shall say but little, as they are in course of formation rather than formed; and it would be unjust before they have got into working order to express au opinion on the merits of the system. There are to be 70 altogether. The number actually established is 31, of which, however, seven are provisional as to place. Fourteen others will be ready this year, or, at the latest, in 1875. With respect to a tactical station in the North of England, that question was mentioned by my Predecessor and it still remains in abeyance. Negotiations are going on for the purchase of land suitable for the purpose, and I trust they will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. With respect to expenditure, the Treasury has already sanctioned the laying out of £1,093,000, including a sum of £259,119 on contracts for which we are now absolutely liable. I said that the Works had been diminished for some years, or kept as low as possible, on account of the fortifications, and probably the Committee will be glad to know the condition in which the Fortification Loan is. The Fortification Loan was originally £7,460,000, and that was to be raised by instalments. That was in 1860. As everyone knows, great progress has been made since that year, both in defences and in guns, and that involved the necessity of our proceeding with great caution. At this moment upwards of £6,000,000 of the 451 sum voted has been expended upon fortifications, and a balance remains of £759,775. From the Report of the Fortification Commissioners, which will no doubt be published, it appears that the fortifications are of a most efficient character, and that, with the exception of those at Portsmouth and Plymouth, they will be finished within a year. Those at Portsmouth and Plymouth will be finished within two years. At that time, I believe, so carefully has the money been expended, considering the rise of prices, there will be found a small balance of £50,000 or £60,000. That, however, may probably be got rid of by some contingency that may arise. But the Fortification Loan has been expended so far within the limits assigned to it by Parliament. With respect to these fortifications, I may say generally, that so far as the loan is concerned, the sea defences have all been armed as nearly as possible. They have been armed very efficiently, as I believe, with very heavy ordnance, of a character suited to the defence of the fortifications which require them. With respect to the land batteries, practically nothing has been done; but there are in store a largo number of guns which can be converted into rifled guns, and thus be made very well suited for these batteries. With respect to the fortifications mentioned in the Estimates, there are a great number of them as to which I need not go into details, which are given in the Vote; but I may observe that by to-morrow 800 guns of all calibres will have been supplied to those batteries. That, however, would hardly give you an accurate estimate of the condition of things, because 305 more are required to be provided of enormous weight. The 800 guns that have been supplied weigh 11,600 tons, whereas the 305 still to be supplied will weigh 7,300 tons, so that they will be much heavier ordnance than those that have gone before. With respect to the Navy, for which we are manufacturers, the Committee will observe there is a Vote in the Estimates of the expenditure on that account. Of course, there has been considerable outlay in connection with the torpedo, and I am happy to think that there are a great number of torpedoes in store, which will be very admirable defences for seaports and for rivers. By some of these torpedoes we may save the country great expenditure, which 452 might otherwise be necessary; for I believe the torpedo will greatly increase in value, and will probably be the means of preventing a hostile invasion of places which would otherwise be open to attack, and this applies to commercial ports as well as naval arsenals. Now, in order to utilize all these men and all these materials we require a great deal of information. I could not but be struck in the course of the discussion that has occurred to-night with what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) as to dearth of information. Is it not a remarkable thing that though we had been in possession of territories upon the Gold Coast for such a great number of years, there was so little information with respect to the interior of that Coast that in sending out the Ashantee Expedition all sorts of useless things were provided, and all sorts of useful things were omitted? [Mr. CAMPBELL-BAXNERMAN dissented.] I am only repeating what has been said practically to-night—that when Sir Garnet Wolseley was sent out the Government was absolutely without information. In this country we were so absolutely without information as to the interior of the Coast that we could not decide, till we had received instructions from Sir Garnet Wolseley, after his arrival there, what was really required. That is a most unsatisfactory state of things, and I hope that the Intelligence department now connected with the War Office will, in the future, give us instruction that will be satisfactory. Hitherto, we have been supplied with admirable information collected from foreign sources, and have been content with being ignorant of our own country and our own colonies; but I hope that this Intelligence department, by corresponding with officers in every part of this country, by calling their attention to all the strategical points in their district, by obtaining information with regard to roads, canals, railways, and everything connected with their district, and by obtaining similar information with regard to our Colonies and the means of defence at their disposal, will remedy this state of things. It is important that information on these subjects should be accurate and complete, and although it is a small and cheap portion of the War Office at present, I do not doubt that this Committee, or any Committee of 453 this House, will always be ready to supply sufficient means to improve, if necessary, the work of this Intelligence department. I thank the House very much for giving me its attention. I know how deficient a statement I must have made, and that I may have shown a great deal of ignorance, which I own and bewail, upon many details connected with the Army. I trust, however, if it be my fortune to address you upon the subject of the Army another year, that I shall be better prepared to do so. In the meantime, let me ask the Committee to remember that they are dealing with an Army and Auxiliary Forces, all of whom are Volunteers. Let us remember that in dealing with those men that they are not like chessmen that we can place here or there just as we please, but that their feelings, affections, and it may be their prejudices should be carefully respected; that whether they be officers or men they should have confidence in the Government of this country, and feel that they will ever receive from us that just attention which they are entitled to claim at our hands; and without prejudicing any question which may arise hereafter, I say that in dealing with our countrymen who volunteer for this arduous service, justice should be combined with kindness. Above all, it is important that we do not content ourselves with an army upon paper, but be sure when the War Minister brings forward the Estimates, that behind the shadow shown to this House, there is real substance' upon which we can rely, from which we can make drafts on every occasion that may arise, composed of men who will confer honour upon themselves, and do as much credit to the country to which they belong as that body of men and that body of officers to whom the House has just paid a due tribute of thanks. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving a Vote for 128,994 men.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 128,994, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and for Depôts for the training of Recruits for Service at Home and Abroad, including Her Majesty's Indian Possession?, from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1875, inclusive."—(Mr. Secretary Hardy.)
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
, in moving, as an Amendment, the reduction of the Vote by 10,000 men said, he was sure the Committee was very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the able and eloquent way in which he had moved the vote. He (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had ventured to put an Amendment on the Paper, and was glad to have had the benefit of the assertion of the Primo Minister that ovening that the efficiency of an Army did not depend upon its size. This was the most important Vote which came before the House of Commons in the course of the year. It was a Vote involving policy and not confined to details, because when once the number of men was voted, the spirit was out of the whole thing; you must feed, house, and clothe the men. When General Peel was Secretary for War—and an abler never sat in this House—ho used to reckon the expense of every man roughly at £100, so that if the Committee knocked off 10,000 men, as he now proposed, they would save something like a million of money. Perhaps a million was not thought much of in these days of large surpluses; but it would be a great thing for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, especially when he was harassed twice a week by interests clamouring for remissions of taxes. Of far greater importance, however, than the money saving was the policy now at issue. The present Prime Minister had once declared that "expenditure depends on policy." He was right; but would he kindly inform the Committee what was the policy which required us to keep on foot at this time in the United Kingdom, a larger Army than we had ever had since 1810, when we were threatened by a French invasion? Her Majesty had announced that her relations with all foreign Powers continued most friendly, yet we were now asked for 2G more men for the Regular Army than were deemed necessary last year. Certainly, 26 was not a large number; but still it was an increase; and if these, as they had once been told, wore "transition Estimates," the transition was from bad to worse, for an increased expenditure of £09,200 was now proposed over the Estimate of 1870–4. He thought when, as Lord Cardwell had promised, the Army had been "blended into one harmonious whole," the cost of maintaining it would be reduced; but that did 455 not seem to be the case. Would the right hon. Gentleman take the House into his confidence, then, and tell it against whom we wore arming in this extraordinary way? Lord Cardwell had referred to "enormous military Monarchies" abroad, and had appealed to the House whether the Army he proposed for this country was disproportionate in numbers. The right hon. Gentleman the present War Secretary had talked in much the same strain, but would he "condescend to particulars?" Against which of the Continental Monarchies was it necessary to maintain it? Not against Russia, because we had given up by treat all we had previously fought for. He was glad that hon. Gentlemen opposite agreed with him how foolish it had been to fight with Russia. ["No!"] At all events, having relinquished by treaty what we had gained in war, we were not likely to fight with Russia again. Besides, had not an additional bond of union been formed with that country by the Royal Marriage, at which they all rejoiced? As to France, little need be said. Some 12 or 15 years ago, we used to be is constant fear from that quarter; but poor France was now crushed to the earth, and no alarm was felt by anyone as to invasion from her. She had enough to do, he was sorry to say, in preparing against Prussia. With some people in this country Prussia had taken the place of France. There was always some bugbear; but Prussia was as busy in watching France as France was in watching her. The right hon. Gentleman had said something about our liability to little wars, but surely there was no intention of entering into more wars like that against Ashantee? We had just recognized, and very properly recognized, the gallantry shown by our soldiers during that war, but the House did not, by such a Vote, endorse the policy of the war itself. What had we got by it? We had brought back nothing from that country except an old umbrella and a treaty. [Laughter, and "No treaty."] Well, he did not regret that there was no treaty, for he thought a treaty would have been as worthless as the umbrella. We had given up interference in European quarrels, and he felt sure that the new Ministry, with Lord Derby at the Foreign Office, would keep us free from such complications as the late Government had led us into, and that they 456 would not approve such, schemes as had just been propounded in the press by a gallant officer—an army of mounted infantry who could cut their way through Europe. We did not want to cut our way through Europe. Happily, during the late war between France and Prussia we took no part, and did not seek to increase the bloodshed; we only invaded France with assistance and provisions. Moreover, we had lately adopted a system of arbitration in international disputes. No doubt many people thought the arbitration at Geneva resulted rather unsatisfactorily, and in his opinion we had paid more money than we ought to have paid. But he had ten times rather pay many millions than sacrifice the lives of his fellow-countrymen; and, having submitted to arbitration in one case, an able Government like that before him might also bring disputes with other countries under arbitration, if we had any such disputes. That being so, why keep up the present machinery of destruction? The usual answer was—"because we may get into quarrels from which we cannot escape, honourably, without going to war." Of course such a result was possible, but might not the remedy be worse than the disease? Was it not better to run some slight risk than to keep up all this machinery? He should, perhaps, be told that it was un-statesmanlike to adopt such a course. But Sir Robert Peel in 1850 said, in time of peace we must by retrenchment consent to incur some risk. The question was, whether by husbanding our resources we were not ultimately stronger than we were after incurring this perpetual outlay? the present Prime Minister, in 1859, said—Let us terminate this disastrous system of rival expenditure, and mutually agree, with no hypocrisy, but in a manner and under circumstances which can admit of no doubt—by a reduction of armaments—that peace is really our policy. Then, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer may look forward with no apprehension to his next Budget, and England may then actually witness the termination of the income tax."—[3 Hansard, civ. 179.]Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to forget that we had a Navy. His hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) stated two or three years ago—and he still retained the opinion—that our Navy was superior to the united Navies of the world. We really insulted 457 the British Navy by these large levies of forces. Besides, there were the Auxiliary Forces for the defence of this country, and if they were of no use and did not enable us to reduce the strength of the Regular Army, they were nothing better than shams. The Minister for War had asked him why he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had fixed on 10,000 men? Well, he confessed he could assign no reason for fixing on that particular number. All he wished to do by his Motion was to protest against our large Army, and on looking back at the Division lists on this subject for several years, he found it did not much matter whether he proposed a reduction of 10,000 or 20,000 men, for his Motion was always rejected by a large majority. It was evident that this was no party attack. He did not expect, however, to get any recruits from among his Friends on the opposite benches. Indeed, the only Friend he could rely upon on that side of the House was the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Mellor). The Leaders of both the great political parties objected to the maintenance of our "bloated armaments," as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) once termed them, and they would be most happy to carry out their views were they not prevented from doing so by party considerations, by the strong military influence in that House, and by the popular apathy, for he did not mean for a moment to say that this was a popular Motion. Those who sat on his side of the House had always professed the principle of retrenchment, though he was sorry to say they had not always acted upon that principle when in office. The party had recently suffered a great disaster, for they had been shipwrecked; but there were a few survivors of the crew who had saved their lives, and he trusted, their principles also. He hoped they would now oppose this vast expenditure, which, if not proved to be absolutely necessary, must be opposed to the true interests of the nation. In conclusion, the hon. Member moved to reduce the number of men by 10,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 118,994, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ire-laud, and for Depôts for the training of Recruits for Service at Home and Abroad, including Her
Majesty's Indian Possessions, from the 1st, day of April 1874 to the 31sl day of March 1875, inclusive."—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson.)
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
remarked that his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) who had just brought forward his annual Motion for the reduction of the Army with his usual good temper, proposed at a City banquet some time ago the health of the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard). While giving both those hon. Gentlemen credit for good intentions, he could not think their Motions were well-founded, either with regard to the opinions of this country or of foreign nations. His hon. Friend thought the time had come when the lion might lie down with the lamb; but had forgotten that in every nation of Europe, instead of any diminution being made in armaments, statesmen were endeavouring to place in the field a greater number of well-equipped men than had ever been known before in the history of the world. Yet his hon. Friend was now asking us to reduce our small Army by 10,000 men. His hon. Friend admitted that the Crimean War was a great mistake, and he also admitted that, after we had fought to attain a certain object, we had men who could throw that advantage to the winds, and who thought that what we had fought for was not worth maintaining. If his hon. Friend was in earnest in his proposal to reduce the Army, in what branch of the service would the hon. Gentleman make his proposed reduction—in the Cavalry, or the Artillery? He thought the hon. Gentleman would not be disposed to touch either of those branches; and in point of fact he had not shown where he would begin his reduction; it certainly could not be in our attenuated Infantry battalions. The hon. Gentleman had confessed that the country did not want a reduction of the Army, or the petty retrenchments which had been effected by the late Government. The hon. Gentleman also spoke of the great reverse of his party, and that retrenchment might have had something to do with it. He, (Colonel Barttelot) for one, was not opposed to economy; but seeing that the country was in a state of unexampled prosperity, surely they were not paying too high an insurance in keeping up an efficient body of men in the Army to sustain and uphold that 459 prosperity. With regard to Lord Card-well, he had something to say in reference to his conduct respecting the Army, and he should have been glad if he were still a Member of that House, so that he might hear what he (Colonel Barttelot) had to say on that subject. He candidly admitted that Lord Cardwell had done much for the Army. He had done much for the Artillery, an arm of the Service which had stood greatly in need of improvement, and which was now brought into a more creditable position than it had over stood in before. He admitted also that Lord Card well had done much for the Militia, and much to promote the efficiency of the Volunteers. He had done much for the Militia in proposing to abolish the billeting system, an improvement which was now in the course of being carried out; and he would have done everything required had he not in a measure spoilt all by passing an Order that men should serve six years for the same bounty for which they were formerly to serve only five. He ventured to say, also that the regulations made by Lord Cardwell with regard to the Volunteers tended very much to the better discipline and efficiency of that force. And now coming to the Army itself, he should be unwise and untruthful if he were to state that its management was all that could be wished. He would be untruthful if he were to say that the name of Card well was revered in the Army. On the contrary, it was a name from which men turned away. And why? No doubt many things had been done by Lord Cardwell in the best interests of the Army, but in many respects he had signally failed, and for this reason—Lord Cardwell had endeavoured to destroy more or less completely the regimental system, and that esprit de corps which was the very main-stay of our army, and which above all things had carried it through so many successful campaigns. In doing that, Lord Card well had trodden on the prejudices of the Army, and he had done many things in which it was to be hoped the present Secretary for War would not follow him. It was all very well for people to say, why should not a man do as well in one regiment as in another; why should he not be promoted from one regiment to another; why should he not fight as well in one regiment as another? No doubt he would fight as well; but 460 they had only to look to the last campaign to see what esprit de corps had animated everybody from the colonel to the drummer, as if he thought his own regiment the best, and they might, depend on it, anything that injuriously affected that sentiment would injure the efficiency of the Army. His right hon. Friend (the Secretary of State for War) had made an admirable statement that evening, for while he pledged himself to look into everything, he had absolutely committed himself to nothing, except to those things which he believed could be done with advantage. There were some grievances with regard to the abolition of purchase which ought to be remedied. He was not going to re-open that question, for purchase was abolished, and no power could alter that. But in abolishing purchase that House, with a liberality which it meant to be carried to its just and legitimate conclusion, left in the hands of those in authority power quite sufficient to do many things which had not been done. He only hoped the Commission which had been appointed would appreciate the work they had to perform; and while thinking that it would be a great mistake for any right hon. Gentleman to depart at once from all those main lines which had been laid down by Lord Cardwell, without giving them a fair trial, yet he thought that anyone looking into what was intended, without departing from the lines of that policy, might be able to make it work more in harmony with the feelings of the Army and of the country. His right hon. Friend had said, with regard to commissions from the Militia into the Line, that but few officers had been able to pass the requisite examination; that he hoped they would be more successful in future; and that he intended to give them another trial in May, so that they would have three trials. That was perfectly fair. There was, however, a matter to which he (Colonel Barttelot) wished to call attention. Two young men went up for competitive examination, one of whom passed, and passed well, and the other was plucked. The one who passed well in due course got a sub-lieutenancy in a regiment, and the other who had failed passed into the same regiment as a lieutenant from the Militia. Was it fair that a man who could not pass should go in over the head of the other through the Militia? 461 The way to prevent such a grievance arising was, in his judgment, to give officers of the Militia sub-lieutenancies, the same as were given to those who were appointed in the first instance to the Line, and in that way much odium would be avoided. Then as to depôt centres, the great object of those centres was "to unite in one harmonious whole" all the branches of the Service. Moreover, the regiment belonging to the county was at times to be at its depôt centre, so that both officers and men should be well known, and that recruits should take pride and pleasure in joining their county regiments. But up to the present this intention had not been carried out, and where recruits had been got for county regiments, and those regiments for the moment happened to be full, instead of keeping the recruits as supernumeraries they were drafted off into Scotch regiments, and sent to places where they were wanted to fill up vacancies. [Mr. CAMPBELL-BAKKERMAN: Against their will?]. Whether against their will or not he would not say; but at all events, it was against the principle that had been laid down. His right hon. Friend had stated that the recruits coming in were of a fair kind and quite qualified to do their work. But he was informed by commanding officers that most of the recruits were very little over 16 years of age, though no doubt they enlisted as 18. Was it possible that young men of that age could be made fit to go anywhere, and do what a British soldier ought to do? Some time ago 20 years of age was fixed as the minimum at which a soldier should be sent to India, but if men enlisted at 16 stating they were 18, no doubt they were sent to India long before they were 20. With respect to regiments in India, he thought it would be much better to send them in full lighting force, complete in all ranks, for five or six years, and then bring them home again, than our present system of sending them out for 12 years, and filling up the losses caused by death, disease, and other causes, with young and raw recruits. The cost of passage was now so cheap that such a change would add little to our expenditure, while it would keep the Indian Army up to a much higher standard of strength and efficiency. But his right hon. Friend had told them that during the last year 17,000 recruits had 462 entered the Army. Supposing they were all stout, able-bodied men—not lads of 16 years of age—there was an offset to the statement. During the same period the Government had got rid of, or the men themselves had rid the Government of, 20,400 men. Of these 6,000 had deserted, 1,800 had been removed to the Reserve, 3,500 had been granted their discharge to which they were entitled, 2,000, after 21 years' service, had been pensioned off, 1,000 (12 years' service) also discharged, 3,000 had purchased their discharge, 200 had been dismissed with ignominy, 2,000 more had received what was known as free indulgence, and 000 had left the Army under other heads. If the number of the Army was increased at the rate of 17,000 a-year, and diminished at the rate of 20,400, what would its state be in a few years with our present system of short service? But it was said that the men, after serving the short period, passed into the Reserve, of which it was also said that in 1882 we should have 80,000, at a cost of £569,250. He was afraid that that would be, to a large extent, a paper Army, and that when the right hon. Gentleman the then Secretary for War wanted to lay his hands upon them, they would not be found. The only way to secure them was to insist upon their mustering at least eight days in every year for drill and exercise, insisting upon their registering their residence in the district to which they went to live, and further upon a new register if they removed to another. It might be said that this was done already; but he had reason to believe that it was not done effectively, or to any great extent. He would also urge upon his right hon. Friend the importance of dealing liberally with that important body of men, the non-commissioned officers. There could be no truer economy than to pay well the men upon whom the efficiency of the Army so largely depended. He also thought the surgeons in the Army had a grievance. They now had Staff appointments and not regimental ones, which was considered a hardship, as they were liable to be removed at any time from their regiment. He also wished to ask, whether it was true, as was reported, that instead of regimental hospitals it was intended to have one large hospital in each military district, which would be much worse for the men, as neither them- 463 selves nor their constitutions would be known to the surgeons there. With respect to deserters, he did not—as he had been misrepresented to have done last year—wish the system of "marking" to be brought back; but it was certain that since it had been abolished desertion had greatly increased: and, further, that deserters frequently enlisted into other regiments only for the sake of the bounty, in order to desert again. Some means ought to be taken to prevent this, and he thought placing them under the surveillance of the police might be useful. He believed his right hon. Friend was sincerely desirous of increasing the strength and raising the character of our Army, and that he would be willing to listen to any suggestions for that purpose of a practical nature, and therefore he had pointed out where he thought improvements might be made.
§ MR. J. HOLMS
said, the Estimates of the year had been presented to the House under very peculiar circumstances. In the first place, they were presented by the right hon. Gentleman who could not be said to be responsible for them, and they must all admire the spirit and the ability with which he had performed the duty; secondly, they were presented to a House of Commons composed largely of new Members; and, thirdly, they were presented while the Army itself was still in a state of transition. Happily, therefore, they could discuss the question free from all party bias. For himself, he had always felt that there ought to be no party spirit in dealing with the constitution and maintenance of the Army, and with regard to the present occasion he would remark that, having expressed his opinions fearlessly when his political Friends were in office, he should do the same now they were in Opposition. He was afraid that the right hon. Gentleman had given the House a rather rose-coloured version of the state of the Army. The expenditure was about £69,000 more than last year, yet the total strength of the British Establishment, Militia, Yeomanry, and Reserve, was smaller—namely, 291,000, instead of 306,000. Returns for which he had moved, in order to ascertain the actual numbers at an average period of the year, showed that the non-commissioned officers and men of the British Establishment on the 30th November 464 last numbered 112,187, being 5,415 less than the number in the last Estimates. The Militia was only 101,087, instead of 125,224 men the Yeomanry were 3,356 men short; the First Class Reserves, 2,473; and the Second Class Reserves were 1,338 men short, giving a total deficiency of 36,700 men; so that, while 291,000 men were voted, the actual number was only 255,000. As to the quality of the men, only those between 20 and 30 years of age would be accepted by all Europe as efficient soldiers; yet, out of the 90,500 on home service, 32,000 were over that age, and during the year there were 68,000 admissions into hospital, 3,360 men being constantly sick. For his part, he believed that if they acted upon the common-sense principle which was adopted in the Prussian Army—namely, of not keeping any young men in the Army after 22 or 23 years of age—they would get rid of much of that immorality which the present system encouraged so much, and which required the enforcement of the Contagious Diseases Act. ["Oh!" and a laugh.] Hon. Gentlemen seemed to laugh, but had they considered the condition in that respect of the Prussian Army? In the year 1867, a very eminent medical man gave evidence to the effect, that out of a camp of 20,000 only four were withdrawn on account of the disease we encouraged by keeping our soldiers in an enforced state of celibacy. With respect to desertions, he found that up to the 1st of January last they amounted to 7,500. 500 of these were recruits. Of the remaining 7,000, 1,200 had returned to the Army, 1,700 and odd were apprehended, and about 4,000 escaped. These facts showed clearly the amount of discontent which existed in the Army. In the year 1873, 1,914 men were constantly in prison, 2,025 men were discharged from the Army as bad characters, after having been about five years in the service, and 309 were discharged on conviction for felony—that being another and a new road out of the Army. Altogether, no fewer than 12,605 men were from one cause or other taken out of the Army in that year; and there also retired on pensions 4,069, and by purchase 2,981, making a total of 19,655 withdrawn last year. How were they to replace these men? The noble Lord the late Secretary for War (Viscount Card-well) stated in the year 1870 that in 465 order to carry out his plan and maintain the Reserve at the amount necessary they should have 23,000 recruits a-year. Well, in that year 23,000 recruits were obtained, and in the following year that number was exceeded. But in 1872 the number fell off to 17,317, and last year it reached only to 17,194. They were, therefore, recruiting about 6,000 fewer than were required to keep up the proper strength of our Army. He would now turn to that other Army, the Militia, which was most antagonistic to the Regular Army, as regarded recruiting, and which was far more efficient as far as age was concerned, for of its total number only 16,000 were over 30 years old. For that Force, which numbered 101,000, 25,864 recruits were obtained last year, and that number was scarcely sufficient to maintain the Militia as it ought to be kept up. Now, the Regular Army was composed of two-thirds of agricultural recruits and one-third townsmen, and there was this peculiarity as regarded desertion, that the agriculturists furnished only one-third of the deserters, while the townsmen furnished two-thirds. It followed that, beyond all doubt, the agricultural recruits were the best and safest for the Regular Army. With regard to the Reserve Force, the great difficulty was, that they had no hold upon thorn. In 1871, only 600 men were out to drill, and last year very few of the Reserve Force attended the Autumn Manœuvres, and these volunteered to do so. As he had stated, they were recruiting at the rate of 25,000 for the Militia, while for the Army they were obtaining 6,000 men below the required number. Now, in the recent debate on the Army Bill at Berlin, Count von Moltke stated that, though the German Army was smaller than the French, it had the advantage of not including the Militia element. War, he said, carried on by Regular troops was the cheapest, because the shortest. Even Washington, as he pointed out, found the uselessness of Militia, and again and again insisted on the necessity of maintaining a Standing Army. The Militia Force was not regarded as one which would be of value to us in real warfare, and was there not a danger to the country in the fact that there were 10,000 deserters from the Militia and 4,000 from the Regular Army; in all 14,000 partially trained and discontented men 466 escaping in one year into private life? He ventured to suggest that, for a time at least, they ought to stop recruiting for the Militia, so that the Army might have the advantage, temporarily, of all the available and eligible recruits in the Kingdom. They ought also to pass into the Militia from the Army those older soldiers of whom we had so many. The effect, he believed, would be to improve the Militia by the presence of 10,000 old soldiers, and to encourage Militiamen to pass into the Army more quickly than they now did. Above all things, they should pay the men a higher rate on passing into the Militia than into the Reserve. If they paid them £20 a-year instead of 4d. a day as at present, they would in a few years have a Militia mainly composed of men who had passed from the Army, and the saving to the country would be very great. He rejoiced to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, that it was the intention of the Government to allow men of all arms to pass, if they so desired, into the Reserve after three years' service. [Mr. GATHORNE HARDY: With the assent of the commanding officer.] He so understood, and believed the system would be attended with good results. This he would urge upon Her Majesty's Government—that if they wore to prepare for the year 1876, it was essentially necessary that they should cease to recruit for the Militia, otherwise, it would be hopeless for them to think of obtaining anything like the number of men they would require to fill up the gaps in the year 1876 and the following year. It had always been held up as a bugbear in the way, that if they had their Indian and Colonial Armies in connection with their Homo Army, it was impossible to have short enlistment for the Home Army. He demurred to that view. They might still have separate enlistment for the Indian and Colonial Armies, and it would have this advantage—that they could give to those who were—as many were—desirous of going abroad, the option of proceeding to India or the Colonies, and to those who wished to stay at home the opportunity of passing into the Home Army, and thus a great many would be induced to join who did not care to go abroad, and many would join also who did not wish to stay at home. The country was desirous of securing not only economy 467 but efficiency, and he did not think they could have thorough efficiency until the Army was divided into Army Corps. When he first made that suggestion some years ago a Member of the then Government told him that it would be impossible in this country to carry out such a system: but what, he asked the Committee to consider, would have been the result if they had had an Army Corps system in the ease of the late Ashantee War"? Had Sir Garnet Wolsoley been at the head of an Army Corps, he might have selected from it such men of each arm as he thought proper, and the War Department would only have had to provide the requisite transport for the troops. He was satisfied that until our military force was divided into Army Corps, it would never be realty efficient. He had no doubt that the object of his hon. Friend in moving the Amendment was economy; but under present circumstances, he could not vote for it, and trusted that it would not be pressed to a division. The true road to economy with efficiency would be to pass the men through the Regular Army, and till they did that they would not have a reliable Army. He did not understand how they could continue to pay £30,000 for the Reserve Force of the Militia, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would endeavour to do what he could, so that they should not appear in the Estimates at all.
§ COLONEL ALEXANDER
said, he should not abuse the patience of the Committee, if they would listen to him for a short time. Different people had different views as to the number of men of which our Land Forces should consist, but he was afraid that, owing to the great difficulty of recruiting under our present system, we were in danger of not obtaining the number of men the Committee were asked to vote, and consequently, of having what the Secretary for War had so properly deprecated in the course of his speech—a paper Army. He agreed with the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) that our agricultural labourers made the best soldiers; but how were they to be persuaded to enter our Army V If recruiting failed to bring into the Force the requisite number of men, there must be something wrong with the system. The regiment in which he had held a commission for the past quarter of a century 468 was in a very bad condition as regarded its numbers—it being 70 below its proper strength. Although it had 62 recruiting agencies at work about the country, it had only obtained one recruit during the past fortnight, and he was in hospital with the view of his being discharged as being unfit for the Service. But that did not represent the full extent of the evil, for there were at present 67 men in the regiment who were urgently applying for their discharge, and although discharge by purchase was sanctioned by the regulations, yet the commanding officer was compelled, much to his regret, to refuse to these men the privilege to which they were morally entitled, because he was unable to obtain recruits to fill their places. It must be remembered also that whereas the effective strength of a battalion of the Guards was 820 on the 1st of April, 1873, it was now only 750, which for the whole regiment was a reduction in force of 210 men. Nothing was more fatal to recruiting, than the report getting about that men were detained in the Army against their will. He did not see how the rates of pay could be increased, and, indeed, when unskilled labourers could command their 4s. a day in the country, he did not see how the Government could compete successfully in the labour market against ordinary employers. In his opinion it was pension and not pay the men required. It was said that under the present short-service system pensions could not be granted. But our short-service system was copied from the Prussians, and he warned the country against following too servilely the Prussian system. We must adopt cither the system of pensions, or that of conscription, and the country was not as yet prepared to adopt the latter system. If we could not have short service combined with pensions, we were better without the short service. He should recommend that in addition to the fines imposed for drunkenness being distributed among the meritorious soldiers on their quitting the Force, the fines imposed for absence without leave should be applied for a similar purpose. He would like for a moment to refer to a plan, the idea of which he believed originated with Colonel Anderson, of the brigade depôt at Chester. That plan, which he believed to be well worthy the attention of the right hon. Gentleman 469 the Secretary of State for War, was this—to increase the soldier's daily pay by 2d., and to place the amount to his credit in the regimental savings bank, to accumulate at compound interest until his discharge at the end of 21 years' service, the soldier, moreover, to have the privilege of disposing by will, in the event of his death before the completion of his engagement, of the amount standing to his credit at the time of his decease. Again, the system under which medals were distributed for long service and good conduct was not extremely satisfactory. The number of men who fulfilled the conditions entitling them to this reward was almost always largely in excess of the medals available for distribution, and consequently, the task of selection was an extremely invidious one; and as the medals were very properly distributed at a full-dress parade, it was easy to imagine the disappointment occasioned to non-recipients almost, if not equally worthy. That was a point which was well worthy the attention of the Secretary of State for War. There was another way, too, by which we might greatly augment the comfort and welfare of our troops, and at the same time proportionately diminish the attractions of the public-house. He believed it to be absolutely necessary that every soldier should receive 1lb. of good cooked meat daily, supplemented by well-cooked vegetables, for which he now had to pay. While thanking the Committee for the attention they had paid to his observations, he trusted that nothing he had said was inconsistent with the character of a soldier, and that he had in no way disregarded any of the restraints which were very rightly and necessarily imposed by his profession upon its members.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, he had had occasion more than once during the debate to regret the absence of those who were his Colleagues in the War Department of the late Government, and was sorry that the duty of representing Lord Cardwell's policy had not fallen into more effective hands. He especially regretted the absence of the late Secretary for War when the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Colonel Barttelot) was addressing to the House his fervid denunciations of that policy. His hon. and gallant Friend had that evening again accused 470 his noble Friend of trampling on the prejudices of the Army, of doing away with all esprit de corps, and of ruining the system under which the British Army had gained its successes in past years. Now, it was not for him (Mr. Campbell-Baunerman) to sing the praises of Lord Cardwell; but if there were two points for which he was more distinguished than any other they were an impartial and judicial mind, and a laborious attention to the details of every subject with which he had to deal, and we may, therefore, be sure that he had fully considered the value of those prejudices before adopting the policy which he had followed. There was no doubt that there were many officers in the Army who disapproved of the course taken by his noble Friend, but it was equally certain that there were many distinguished officers who thought that what his noble Friend had done had contributed immensely to the increased efficiency of our Forces. His hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), in moving that the number of men be reduced, alluded to what he called the great military establishments now existing in this country, and the warlike policy pursued by the late as well as the present Government. But surely his hon. Friend must call to his mind the vast armies existing on the Continent of Europe; and considering that, besides India, England had possessions in every quarter of the globe, he did not think the Committee would consent to make any reduction at the present moment. It would certainly be impossible to remove 10,000 men from the Infantry—and he supposed his hon. Friend did not suggest they should be taken from any other branch of the service—without serious detriment to the Army. The process of enlisting for brigades instead of battalions had only just been commenced. When that plan had been in operation for some years, and they had a more elastic force, there would be an opportunity for reduction, if the country desired it; but at present such a course, if adopted would prove fatal to the experiment that was being tried. His horn Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) had denounced the Militia, and would abolish that branch of the service as unworthy of their confidence; but he thought his hon. Friend must have badly 471 read the feeling of the House of Commons if he thought that any War Minister could come down to Parliament and propose the abolition of the Militia. His hon. Friend had expressed the opinion that the Ashantee Expedition might have been more easily accomplished if the system of Army Corps had been in existence; but what his hon. Friend had suggested as proper for such an expedition was precisely what had been done under the present organization. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in his very clear statement, had rather taken his noble Friend the late Secretary for War (Lord Card-well) to task for not building a better War Office. There was no doubt that such a building was necessary for the public service, for of all the public departments requiring to be better accommodated, the War Office and the Admiralty were the first that should have received attention; but when, last year, the late Government brought in a Bill to sanction the erection of a new War Office and Admiralty on a suitable site in Spring Gardens, it was received with so little favour that it was withdrawn almost as soon as introduced, the general feeling of the House appearing to be that the Home and Colonial Offices should be finished before the new War Office was taken in hand. The right hon. Gentleman having also referred to the item of £8,000 for building a barrack at Sandhurst, which he had struck out from the Vote, he (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) wished to say that that item had been inserted most reluctantly by the late Government. It was said to be unwise to send young officers to join their regiments for a year, and then to send them to Sandhurst. ["Hear, hear!"] That was, however, the Prussian system, and it was found advantageous to send young men to their regiments to learn the elements of drill, in order that when they went to Sandhurst the time of their highly accomplished instructors should not be taken up in teaching those rudimentary branches. There was, no doubt, a strong feeling against it, but he believed that the unpleasant occurrences at Sandhurst which had attracted attention were the work of a very few young men, who considered that they had a special grievance. It was I said they were too old to go to school; but they were not so old as many young 472 men who went to the University, and who there submitted to discipline quite as strict. The late Government, however, agreed to give way on this point, but they were told by the Educational authorities at the War Office that it was absolutely necessary to have troops at Sandhurst all the year round, not that the young men should see them manœuvre, but in order that they might engage in daily drill with them the present Secretary for War had induced those authorities to agree that it was sufficient to have troops six months under canvas at Sandhurst, instead of all the year round, and he congratulated him on his powers of persuasion. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would adopt the arrangements contemplated by the late Government in regard to the new Paymasters Department. The pay-masterships of regiments had, indeed, been regarded as a means of satisfying the claims of ex-combatant officers; but he believed the right hon. Gentleman would find that they were not the class of the community from which the best trained accountants could be drawn. With regard to the Auxiliary Forces, it was true that recruiting for the Militia had not been very flourishing during the year; but that could be accounted for by the fact that the labour market was in an excited state, and an open winter like the last, which allowed agricultural operations to go on without a check, always interfered with Militia recruiting. There had also, unfortunately, been a misapprehension about the bounty. The right hon. Gentleman said it was hard to change the term of service, and to spread the bounty over six years that was intended for five. The Militia recruit, however, got the benefit of the new ration arrangement, which was greater than the trifling loss under the bounty. [Colonel GILPLN dissented.] He could assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that it was so, for he had gone carefully into the figures, and the balance, though small, was in favour of the recruit; while as to the existing Militiamen, they did not bear the loss of bounty, and yet they would reap the gain of rations, and they, at least, had nothing to complain of. With regard to the Army Reserve, difficulty existed, not as to finding the men, but as to their discipline when called out, and the late Judge Advocate General had drafted clauses on the subject 473 to be introduced into the Army Discipline Bill, of which he was to have given Notice at the beginning of this Session. With reference to the statement as to recruiting brought forward by the hon. and gallant Member for South Ayrshire (Colonel Alexander); he must remind the Committee that the recruiting for the Guards was managed by the Guards themselves, who were, both as to recruiting and as to their hospital system, on a peculiar footing. Whilst he was at the War Office he had made ineffectual efforts to get to the bottom of this subject; and he trusted that his hon. Successor, who he knew had sympathy with the Guards, and at the same time would have due regard to the interest of the public, would take up the question and see if it was not possible to do away with the anomalous system which at present existed. It had been said that the great object of the present Government would be not to have a paper Army. No one had kept this object in view more steadily than his noble Friend Lord Cardwell, whose Localization Bill was the greatest measure in this direction which had been passed for many years. That noble Lord had to stand the brunt of attacks for reducing the number of the Militia and Volunteers, because he took a course which got rid of paper men and men of straw, and at the same time greatly increased the quality of the remainder. He trusted the hon. Baronet would not divide, but would accept the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and be content with having raised a discussion on the subject.
§ MR. BUTLER-JOHNSTONE
said, he presumed this Amendment was made in solemn earnest, for nothing but what was very sober ever proceeded from the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Law-son); but he must confess that his doubts had not been resolved by the speech with which the hon. Baronet had introduced his Amendment. The hon. Baronet said he could not understand the reason for the extraordinary armaments of this country; and he (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) in that must agree with him, for when he looked at the armaments abroad, he must confess the armaments of this country were extraordinary—from the smallness of their extent, and not from the largeness of their 474 scale. The hon. Baronet said he had the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, that night, for saying that a small Army was as efficient as a great one. But the right hon. Gentleman said nothing of the kind. What he said was that deeds of heroism might be performed by a small Army as well as by a great Army; that heroism was not to be measured by the scale of an Army, but no one could for a moment imagine that what was really meant was that the same deeds could be performed by a small Army as by a great one. Then the hon. Baronet said, instead of raising gigantic Armies, we should husband our resources and be prepared to meet our foes; but to talk of a great country like England, with Colonies all over the world, and wealth accumulated such as had never been accumulated before, husbanding her resources with a view to her protection when the emergency arose, would be as sensible as for a banker to put out the money to interest which he should spend in bolts and bars to secure his coffers. What were the armaments abroad? In France the Army Bill gave a Reserve, not of 30,000 or 40,000 men, but in a few years something like 2,000,000 of soldiers. Prussia was also providing for an increase of its military strength, while Austria and Russia were following the example. The hon. Baronet asked, what nation was likely to attack England? Apparently none; but if war broke out on the Continent, was it impossible for us to be involved in the vortex? Even in the last war, it was not without difficulty and some loss of dignity on our part that we had managed to maintain our neutrality. Our present relations with Russia were of a most friendly character, but we could not help remembering as matter of fact that the progress of Russia in Central Asia had already reached a limit beyond which a single step in advance would bring her in collision with tribes bordering on countries it was essential for us to protect from conquest or aggression, and no English Minister would dare neglect that duty; and whether that step forward was over taken depended not on us but on Russia. The hon. Baronet, moreover, in the face of universal conscription in Europe, proposed a reduction of 10,000 men. Such a reduction in case of the French or Prussian Army would 475 be a small matter, but in the case of the Army of England it would be a reduction of something like one-fourth of the Force at home. Besides, the hon. Baronet's proposition was unaccompanied by any suggestion by which the void could be filled up. The people of this country were proud of their Army, small but brave, and instead of such an imprudent proposal, it was matter of great importance to endeavour to devise the means by which our military Force could be brought up to a level with the interests and responsibilities of this great country. He believed the country would be ready, if called on by the Ministry, to sacrifice some portion of the personal liberty of the subject, and it would not be impossible to introduce the Ballot for the Militia. With the Militia Ballot for one year's service, without exemption, he should not mind such a proposal as that of the hon. Baronet; but so long as the only force on which the honour and interests of the country de-pended for security was our gallant Army, he must vote against any such Motion; and he would join in the wish expressed by the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, that it would not be pressed to a division.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he was strongly in favour of reductions in the Army, and of economy in every Department; but he thought it unfair to push the new Government to extremities, especially when it was considered that these Estimates had been prepared by their predecessors. The necessity for increased economy in the Army expenditure was shown by the fact that if there had not been a saving in stores the expenditure of the year would have shown an increase of £250,000. But there was this great objection to the redaction of 10,000 men, proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, that on the existing organization of the Infantry of the Line, on which the reduction would mainly fall, it could not be carried out without rendering the regiments and battalions at home quite inefficient. The number of privates of Infantry being 94,000 in round numbers, and 50,000 being in India and the Colonies, and 7,000 in depôts, there were only 34,000, with 70 battalions, in the United Kingdom, distributed amongst 70 battalions of 560 companies, so that by reducing 10,000, there would remain 476 only 24,000 privates, giving 43 per company and 343 per battalion. But as the hour was late, and the House was anxious to proceed to other business, the hon. and gallant Member stated that he would close his remarks.
said, he did not rise to criticize the Estimates, which had been expounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War with great ability and in the most lucid manner. With regard to the six years' recruiting for the Militia, instead of five, he might state that he had been appointed on the War Office Committee by the late Government who reported in favour of six years—it being thought, on mature consideration, a good thing for the Service, and not injurious to the Militia. In his own county he had no difficulty in getting the men for the six years, although there was some difficulty in getting them to re-enlist. With regard to the depôt system, he was convinced that it would turn out the most expensive absurdity which the country had over adopted the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms), to whom he had often listened with attention, had broached a maxim with reference to the Militia which no Government could adopt, which the Duke of Wellington and Sir John Burgoyne set their countenances against, and which he (Colonel Gilpin) hoped the Committee would not approve of the Militia, though they might not be perfect soldiers, were trained men, and much better than the young recruits of 18 enlisted for the Regular Army. With regard to the abolition of purchase in the Army, although the House had acted with much liberality, yet the money devoted to that purpose had been disposed of in a way which was not satisfactory to the Service. He himself had held that, as soon as the purchase system was abolished, the officers should have received the regulation price of their commissions. He should be glad to hear that they were likely soon to have placed on the Table the Report of the Royal Commission now sitting on that subject.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
said, he thought that £13,000,000 per annum was an enormous sum to spend on the Army, with only about 160,000 men on the war footing, and that we might maintain that amount of force and yet relieve the finances of the country to the extent of 477 £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. He wished to point out that what was wanted was not to increase our peace footing, but to increase the Reserves, a plan carried out by foreign nations, and which should be adopted in this. If every soldier, after three years' service, had the option of passing into the first Reserve, they might have a very large Reserve. He, however, considered it most undesirable, looking at the immense armies of Russia, Germany, Austria, and France, to reduce our small Army, and he could not vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. HALSEY
, as a commanding officer of Yeomanry of long standing, thought that force should be armed with the best available weapon as well as the other branches of the service; whereas the fact was, they were still armed with a rifle which did not contain the ignition in its own cartridge. He also hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would take measures for the establishment of a school for the instruction of Yeomanry officers in order to make them thoroughly efficient.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 45; Noes 256: Majority 211.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £2,434,500, Pay and Allowances, &c. of Land Forces.