HC Deb 04 March 1875 vol 222 cc1204-73

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Gathorne Hardy.)


in rising to move— That this House is of opinion that Regimental Exchanges may be properly allowed under official control; but that any legislation permitting a public officer to pay a sum of money by way of profit or bonus to another officer in respect of a bargain for the exchange of their offices would be injurious to the public service, said, he doubted if many Members of that House would object to a moderate system of regimental exchanges under adequate official control. Most of them would be in favour of such a system, provided they could be certain that it would be equal in its bearings upon all officers in Her Majesty's service; but what he feared with regard to the Bill before them was that while it would effect exchanges in many cases, it would make them dependent on money payments and on a system of bonuses, and that, therefore, officers who were unable to pay bonuses would not be placed in the same situation as regarded exchanges as their more wealthy brethren in arms. In fact, the principle of the Bill was not to facilitate exchanges, but, as was most apparent from the debate the other night, to sanction the sale and the purchase of the difference in value between various commissions and appointments. The House would perceive it was clearly laid down that there was something to sell: it was not the exchange only that was to be made, but it was to be a money question. That argument had not been met on the other side of the House; and it was to bring his adversaries to close quarters on this matter that he now proposed his Resolution. Hitherto, the argument had been that this was a Bill which, for the first time, systematized and legalized the traffic in appointments to commissions; and the answer to that was that exchanges were so beneficial. It was said—"Here is a Bill which, for the first time since 1809, goes against the system laid down in that Act," and the answer again was, that exchanges were so beneficial; and when it was urged that it was a Bill to bring back the spirit and the power of the purse, which had been dethroned and exorcised, the same answer was given. The principle of the Bill was to enable money payments and bonuses to be passed; but to listen to the language of the Secretary of State for War, one would think this was a Bill to enable him to pay less attention to exchanges than had been done in times past. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the inconvenience of knowing of these money payments, and proposed to remedy that inconvenience by making them legal in the future. What was the origin of the Bill?—that was not to be forgotten in this discussion. The Bill originated in the demand of officers for compensation. It was not the spontaneous act of the Government; it had been wrung from them by the officers. The right hon. Gentleman himself told them that he brought forward the Bill in consequence of the recommendation of the Royal Commission. Although he was at the head of the Army, the right hon. Gentleman shielded himself behind the authority of the Commission. What grievance was it intended to remedy? How did the Commissioners treat the question themselves? Did they look upon it as a question of convenience to the officers, and to enable the military authorities to pay less attention to these exchanges in the future than formerly? They looked upon it simply as a pecuniary matter. In their Report they said—"the prohibition of the practice of exchanges has seriously affected the poorer officers." Then, if so, hon. Members opposite must admit that it was a money exchange. Indeed, the Report grounded its recommendation on the averment—"that it would enable officers of slender means to serve in India or elsewhere for a consideration," but not a word about relieving the War Office from the necessity of con- sidering, on military grounds, whether or not exchanges should take place. But the Commissioners took evidence, and he (Mr. Goschen) would be content to rest his claim upon the House to reject the Bill upon the evidence of the officers in its favour. What was that evidence? The memorial of Captain Rickards was to this effect— I declare that I did pay in respect of an exchange from the 6th Regiment of Dragoon Guards to the King's Dragoon Guards a sum of £750, and I say I paid such sum of £750 for such exchange in full faith and confidence that I should receive the same again by an exchange to some regiment in India, and that the sum of £750 was advanced to me in such faith and confidence, I engaging to exchange to India in order to repay the same. By the abolition of Purchase I am unable to carry out this engagement, and my memorial prayeth that, in calculating the value of my commission, the sum of £750 may be added to the sums which I have paid for my promotion, and be allowed when I retire from the service. Captain Spottiswoode, of the 21st Hussars, said— My power of exchanging to the Infantry, and thereby receiving a considerable sum of money, has been taken away. Prior to the 1st of November captains in my regiment have been offered £1,500 to £1,700 to exchange. Now we can get nothing but our expenses. Here was Captain Gonne's case— Under the old system I could have raised about £2,500 by an exchange as a major to India." He was asked, "Was that a thing which could be obtained merely by going into the market and asking for it?" His answer was, "I have never known anyone search for it in vain. I could have borrowed £2,500 upon the certainty of being able to repay it by an exchange. Colonel Legh, Grenadier Guards, explained that he had paid £2,500 for exchange into the Guards, and complained that he was debarred from recouping himself of that sum by the sale of the value of it. Captain Backhouse said— I also had a right to exchange if I thought proper, receiving or paying money according to the part of the world in which my regiment was situated. Colonel Burnaby complained "of the non-existence of that same freedom of exchange which previously existed, coupled with the custom of selling the intrinsic value of the prestige of commissions in the more privileged regiments, such as the Guards, Household Cavalry, Heavy Cavalry not quartered in India, and Light Cavalry inter se, and as compared with the Infantry of the Line; or, in the event of officers having purchased such an exchange, their inability now to sell it, and thus recoup themselves." Sir Percy Herbert asked this Question—"You have the right and privilege, which I believe was never disputed, to exchange from one regiment to another? "Captain Campbell answered—" I have." It was, in point of fact, the money question—compensation for a money right—that was brought before the Commission; therefore, he dismissed from his mind the idea that the Commission simply intended to relieve the Secretary for War from the necessity of controlling exchanges. Another point was that forced upon the Commission was this. The officers complained that the poorer officers had lost the means of eking out their pay by bonuses—again a money question. Major Goldsworthy said— I do not see how a poor man is to get on at all in the Service if exchanges are to be prohibited, because that was the only way which enabled poor men to get on. That, he thought, would be news to the country; and if the country believed it—as the Commissioners and the Government apparently believed it—he maintained that other means ought to be taken to enable poor men to get on in Her Majesty's Army rather than that their pay should be supplemented by bonuses from their brother officers in arms. Again, it was perfectly possible under that system to assign the actual money value of the different ranks. Colonel Bray said— Exchanges in every rank vary; there was a certain market price; it altered according to the number of regiments in India and the number at home, and according to whether there was war or peace. The market varied, and poor men were obliged to watch the market. He did not know whether those words grated on the ears of the House; but, to his mind, they were inexpressibly sad. Could they not fancy the poor officer watching the ups and downs of the market, scanning the lists of regiments to see how many sons of fortune were in them who were likely to buy his services, and saying to himself—" So many regiments are ordered home from the Colonies, the market will fall; so many regiments are ordered out to India, the market will rise." That was not a state of things with which the country would be satis- fied. The Secretary of State for War stood behind the Commission as behind a shield. Would he, then, deal with the evidence in the same way as the Commission did? Did he recognize that grievance of the poorer officers; and if exchanges were in future to be regulated on military grounds alone, how could it be said that that Bill was founded on the evidence and the Report of the Commission, or that it would meet the grievance of the poorer officers? But the fact was this, whatever the views of the right hon. Gentleman might be, the officers would say that the Bill would be ultimately worked through the military authorities; that, notwithstanding every possible regulation which might be made, those transactions would be recognized, to a certain extent, the same way as before; that the Secretary of State for War was not a man to create a grievance when he intended to redress it; that he must have meant that that traffic in the market should go on, and surely would not by his regulations so curtail it that they could not get the compensation they sought. The House had to look at that question not from the money point of view only—the sole light in which the Commissioners regarded it; and he did not blame them for not taking into consideration matters that were not referred to them, although he did regret that if they saw their way by any money payment or other arrangement to meet that grievance, they did not bring the matter so clearly before the public that it should be known where the shoe pinched. What, he asked, would be the effect of the measure upon the Army generally? There was very little about that in the evidence, but there seemed to be three points urged—namely, that it would help promotion; that it would secure on occasions in England the presence of an efficient officer who might not otherwise be there; and, lastly, that it was important on considerations of health. With regard to the second point, it might be said, with equal truth, it might secure the absence of officers from England who would otherwise be here, but who for a money bonus had gone where the Commander-in-Chief did not intend them to go. As to health, the argument put forward, at first sight, made a considerable impression on one; but that impression was weakened when they remembered that it was only on the condition of the sick officer having money enough to pay his passage home that he would be able to avail himself of those exchanges. If there were no other argument against the Bill but this one, the Liberal Party could never assent to it. The argument should be put in this form: there were two officers in India who were both desirous of coming home, the one being rich and the other poor. Under a natural system of exchanges, it would be equally open to the poor officer to come home as the rich; but, under the bonus system, a market was created where the poor man could sell, but where he could never buy—a market where the export trade was always of the poor, and the import trade was always of the rich. Call this a Bill for facilitating exchanges! He called it a Bill for prohibiting exchanges for poor men. As to the argument about promotion, it must be obvious that the system of exchanges would facilitate promotion only by means of shuffling the cards. The poor man would probably go into a regiment where promotion was slow, and it would often happen that a senior captain would be at the bottom of the list of captains—a state of things which was not conducive to the efficiency or contentment of the service; and was it not clear that the more this Bill would tend to stimulate promotion, the greater would be the danger of a practical recurrence to the purchase system, which they had spent £7,000,000 to abolish? It was certainly not on the ground that it would facilitate promotion that such a measure ought to be passed. These were the three arguments put forward as to the benefit to the Army; but it seemed to him the weight of evidence was on the other side, and that it might be shown that the system was detrimental to the Army at large. As regarded the evidence, indeed, it was perhaps not unnatural that they had much testimony from those who wished to sell, but little from those who wished to buy. Still, in the same way as the sellers claimed the privilege to sell, those who bought became impressed with the idea that they actually had a right to buy. It was clear that there was on the part of many officers a distinct notion that they had a right to move or not move or to alter their movements at their own discre- tion, tempered only by the length of their purse. There were officers who held that they had a right to select the country in which they were to serve the Queen, and the argument had culminated in the celebrated letter in which Major Arbuthnot maintained that it would be a breach of the liberty of the subject to prohibit an officer from buying a substitute to perform the duties which he had himself been appointed to perform. Major Arbuthnot had gone farther, and appeared to think an officer justified in resigning his commission if he could not find a substitute, even without suggesting urgent private affairs or bad health. He would ask the Secretary of State for War whether there were many officers in Her Majesty's service who would resign their commissions if they were not allowed to find substitutes to go where they themselves had been ordered. But perhaps he had better not ask the question; better draw a veil over that part of the subject. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. and gallant Gentlemen might think he was speaking but as a mere prejudiced civilian; he was glad to think that if it was a prejudice it was very largely shared in by the country. And if it was a prejudice on his part, it was a prejudice which had been deepened by his connection with the sister service. The privilege claimed for the Army officers had never been set up on behalf of the Navy officers. The motto of the Navy was "Go, and he goeth." Naval officers went wherever they were ordered, under whatever circumstances, whatever might be the service or irksomeness, without question or parley, or exchange, or barter—without for a moment thinking of the balance at their bankers, or the length of their purses. That was the state of affairs in the Navy. He did not wish to draw a contrast between the two services. The officers of both services were made of the same stuff. The officers of the Army were actuated by the same spirit of devotion as their naval brethren; they were as zealous for the honour of the profession to which they belonged, and in time of war they were equally ready to go to whatever part of the globe to which they might be ordered. Nay, more, that self-same purse which was emptied to buy off in time of peace was always equally ready to spend its treasure to buy in, in time of war, Those were no fancy soldiers, such who, scattering to the winds the warnings of health, and the breaking through the spell of domestic remonstrance, carried to the Gold Coast their spontaneous services to face the deadliest climate of the world, and paid with their young and noble lives the price of their soldierly alacrity. And if, in time of peace, on peace service, though peace service was often more irksome than service in the field, British officers still thought they might buy ease at home and pleasant quarters for a money payment; if others thought they might still carry their services to market, or barter a popular appintment for a post abroad and a purse of gold; it was not the fault of the officers themselves, as high-spirited a body of men as ever officered an Army. It was the fault of the system, of that fatal system of purchase, which they fondly hoped they had exorcised for ever, but which had so eaten into the heart and core of the British Army, that it was still thought right and becoming, and worthy of the Army and the State that the length of the purse, and not the orders of the Commander-in-Chief should determine the whereabouts of the officers of the Queen. For his own part, he objected to substitute the power of the purse for the fiat of the Commander-in-Chief, to substitute a market where service could be bought and sold for the rules, regulations, and commands of the service, and to sanction barter openly in one of the great professions of the State. Having said so much with respect to the rich officer, he would only say a word with respect to the poor one. This Bill purported to be introduced to benefit the condition of poor officers; but see how under its influence a poor man might be crushed out of the service. Suppose his regiment was in India, or in one of their unhealthy colonies, and he lost his health, or became disabled by sickness, and was unable to get money to enable him to come home: he must resign his commission or leave the Army, and this Bill raised the price against the poor man and prevented him from availing himself of a natural exchange. There was another argument against the Bill that had not yet been brought forward upon which he desired to make a remark. Suppose a rich man exchanged with a poor man, and the poor man were sent abroad. Suppose, further, that shortly after this bargain had been completed war broke out, and an expedition was fitted out in England against the enemy, the man who had exchanged and remained in England might be appointed in connection with the expedition, and he would get promotion and honour, whereas the poor man who had gone abroad would lose all, and have no chance whatever. Would he not naturally complain that he had first lost all the pleasures of peace and then all the glories of war? Would he not curse the system of exchanges and his bad luck? Would he not exclaim—surely the English Army is no place for poor men! He, in common with his hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), regretted that they must speak as they did of richer and poorer officers; but they spoke as the evidence had spoken—that evidence which contained the words that without exchanges the poorer officers could not get on at all. To him it seemed that the Army was not for rich or poor men—not for the rich that they might remain at home in the garrison towns, and not for the poor, that they should be placed in a worse position than those who were rich, but it was an Army in which the rich and the poor should take their fair share in the varied service that fell to the lot of the Army in the vast dominions of the Queen. An hon. Gentleman had the other evening spoken of the effect of the Bill on the efficiency of the Army, but they had heard little on this head. He would like to put some questions with regard to it. Would the system proposed tend to create two classes of officers—one which would be able to purchase what he would call homeward exchanges and the other the outward exchanges? Would such a system be for the public benefit? Would it not tend to accumulate at home officers of less experience than those who went abroad? Was it desirable, looking at the professional spirit of the Army, that officers should be allowed to exempt themselves for many years, if not for the whole of their lives, from serving in India or on foreign service, which was admittedly the best school they could have in which to learn the practical part of their profession? In reference to the regimental system, he would merely say that it appeared extraordinary that the colonels of most regiments should not agree with the views of Lord Clyde in that celebrated passage in which he spoke with regret of the young officers who left him when the active service of the field was over. He should have thought that the colonels would have wished to keep their officers together when their regiments were abroad—this would appear to be but common sense; but the House had been told that the laws of human nature and of common sense did not apply to military matters. What would be the effect of this system upon selection and promotion? The House would remember that one of the objects for which purchase in the Army was abolished was to enable selection to be exercised among Field Officers, and that that principle had been embodied in the Royal Warrant. Parliament expected that that principle would be carried out, and it was in that expectation that it had consented to pay £7,000,000 to set the Army free. He believed that Parliament would assume that the Royal Warrant was being acted upon, and that it was the rule of the service. Of course, the system of seniority still existed to a considerable extent, but seniority tempered with selection. Before he referred to the case of the Field Officers, he would advert for a moment to the more humble subject of first commissions. It was well known that colonels in the Guards retained their privilege of nominating for first commissions in their regiments, on the condition that they should make their selection from among those who had been successful in their competitive examinations. Now, he wanted to ask whether, when this Bill had passed, those fortunate young officers who had been thus selected would be able to sell the prestige of their regiments for a sum of money? The right hon. Gentleman had read a letter in which the ecstacy of a tailor who had had his bill paid in consequence of an officer having received a sum of money for exchanging had been depicted, and he read it with such cheerful unction as showed a thorough sympathy on his part with the fortunate tailor and afforded marked evidence that the system of exchanges was not a question of convenience, but of money. The Commander-in-Chief also had the power of appointing to regiments from a certain list, Would the favours of the Commander-in-Chief be open to be carried into the market for sale? The evidence showed that prestige was carried into the market, and if it should be allowed under this Bill, cash would be thus obtained for the benefit of tradesmen. He contended that that would be a state of things which the public would not sanction. Then, again, were the Field Officers who were appointed by selection to be permitted to sell their appointments? He wondered whether the Government would accept the Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bath (Captain Hayter), for it was clear that a system of selection and one of exchanges for money bonuses would be incompatible—they could not co-exist, and it was their duty to strengthen the hands of the Commander-in-Chief by refusing their assent to any measure which would indirectly bring principles opposed to the system of selection to bear upon him. Then as to the system of promotion. It was said in the Course of the former debate that promotion would no longer be bought, but that the prospects of it would be bought. That was very well expressed. It might be expressed differently. Exchange would be from one regiment to another, and though a man would not be able to attain his point directly he would do so by tacking. They would buy promotion through a system of zig-zags. Officers perfectly well understood that that might be done. For instance, there were eight captains in a regiment. Now, suppose three of thorn at the bottom to have money and to wish to buy out some of those above them who were possessed of only slender means. A purse would be made for the purpose of dealing with them, and they would say, Where was the harm? Now, Parliament had refused its sanction to payments of money bonuses; but if this Bill should be passed officers would take a different view of the matter and say that it enabled them to enter into these transactions, and that the present Minister for War would not take any notice of them. They would not perhaps buy out the captain at the top of the list, but they would buy out some, and thus assist their own promotion, and by that course they would get back to the purchase system through this new system of exchange. Work the Bill as they would, he maintained that there was no answer to this part of the case—namely, that through promotion and these exchanges, men would be able to assist their own advancement in the Army; and if they should be allowed to buy promotion this Bill would bring back to a certain extent vested interests. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War might deny that. He, no doubt, believed that no vested interests would grow up. They did not grow up in a day. It would, however, require strong argument to show that they would not grow up in time. Why, it was through a claim of vested interests that this very question had come before the Commission. The officers would say that the system had been sanctioned and encouraged by Parliament; that a large majority of the House of Commons had declared that exchanges ought not to be illegal; and that they knew from experience that even over-regulation prices had been treated as vested interests. The law of human nature would show that officers who for a long series of years were encouraged and allowed to indulge in this traffic would come to regard it as giving them a vested interest as arising out of it. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief had stated in evidence that there had been great difficulty in checking the payment of over-regulation prices; and if the history of that system were studied, it would be seen how easily vested interests sprung up. On the other hand, they had the declaration of the Secretary for War that exchanges would in future be dealt with only on military grounds. But how were those military grounds to be combined with the claims of the officers? Did the right hon. Gentleman mean that military grounds were to decide whether an exchange should be made or not, or that the exchange might be made unless there were military grounds against it? were exchanges to be allowed where military grounds could be pleaded in favour of them, or where there was no objection to them on military grounds?—because the one case was very different from the other. Was it, he asked, consistent with human nature to think that an officer who had paid a large sum of money for the privilege of remaining at home would not regard it as a grievance to be ordered abroad within a month or two of that transaction? He would, of course, so look upon it. ["No, no!"] The right hon. Gentleman said "No," and he thought he caught the words from an hon. Member, "It has been done over and over again." But how often did the War Office know that sums of money had been paid under such circumstances? [Mr. GATHORNE HARDY: They never knew it.] They did not know it officially. But would they not know it as a matter of fact? Would they make a regulation against War Office officials frequenting a military club? Did they not know, as private individuals and as a matter of common conversation, that such sums had been paid? Did the right hon. Gentleman, in contradistinction to the evidence given before the Duke of Somerset's Commission, to the effect that it was necessary to wink at the payment of over-regulation prices, mean to say that such things were not known at the War Office? He should congratulate his right hon. Friend very much on his sturdiness if he secured that not only in his own time, but in the future, vested interests would not arise from that system which the Bill would legalize; for they should remember that they were not legislating for a limited period. He would ask the House to consider what the effect of allowing the payment of bonuses for privileges would be likely to be on the efficiency of the Army, and on that point he would not repeat the arguments so ably put forward by his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe). It was sought to be justified on the ground that it would allow officers of slender means to eke out their incomes. Why would not the same ground apply to the Navy as well as to the Army? The answer sought to be given was that naval officers were appointed to ships for three or four years only; whereas officers of the Army went abroad for longer periods. He was not at all sure that three or four years in a ship was not equivalent to a much longer period ashore in India. But even if it were not so, the right hon. Gentleman could not rest the argument upon the ground of hardship in the case of the Army, because service abroad was equally hard in the case of officers who could pay and of those who could not afford to pay. He must always remember in his argument that some officers were poor and some rich, and why would not that argument apply equally to officers in the Navy? Suppose that a poor naval officer said to a rich officer in the same service—"I am appointed to a good ship bound for a healthy station—you are appointed to a bad ship going to an unhealthy station. I am in debt, you are not, pay me a few hundred pounds and I will take your bad ship and go to your bad station." They would ask themselves why they should not have official sanction for such an exchange. And to whom would they go to ratify it? To the First Lord of the Admiralty, and with the knowledge that the First Lord was one of the three Commissioners who had sanctioned that very proceeding in the case of the Army. And how could the right hon. Gentleman, who was both kind and logical, refuse to grant to the Navy that which he had recommended for the Army? But the right hon. Gentleman had stated that he would not allow the passing of a £10 note in the case of the naval service; and yet he was a part of the shield behind which Her Majesty's Government sought to shelter themselves, because they fell back upon the authority of the Commission, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member. Had it, he asked, struck the House that they had not heard what the views of Her Majesty's Government were with regard to all the other recommendations of the Commissioners, or why they had selected one point only for legislation? The Army Estimates had not been introduced, and all the House knew therefore was that the Government had exercised their discretion with regard to this one point of exchanges. The Government had referred the other recommendation of the Commissioners to another Commission. Why had they not referred this also, which was a question of compensation and was not a question of administration? For his part, he was surprised that the Government had sheltered themselves as they had done behind the Commission at all; but how they could do so without recognizing the authority of the Commission with respect to the other matters referred to them he could not understand. He did not blame the Government or impugn the motives with which they had introduced this Bill. The Secretary for War, no doubt, believed that the Bill would be a boon to the Army, and that it would cost the country nothing. The purchase system cost the country nothing till it was abolished, and then it cost £7,000,000, and he maintained that if they allowed the system of payment for exchanges to be re-established, although it would cost them nothing at the present time, it was impossible to say what it would cost them hereafter. The House, for these reasons, ought not to depart from the principles of the Act of 1809, and ought not to repeal the Army Brokerage Act. His Resolution declared that the operation of the Act would be "injurious to the public service." He would also declare that it would be injurious to our national credit. What would foreign nations say when they saw us harking back to the state of things which was put an end to four years ago when Parliament abolished purchase? They would say—" Four years ago you wanted to reform your Army. You made a gigantic effort. You found vested interests blocked the way of every reform. You bought up those vested interests. It cost the country a cruel sacrifice. It cost the Army a Cruel wrench. But so engraven in the minds of English officers is the idea that they are entitled to carry into the market the prestige of their regiments and the value of their commissions, that after abolishing one market you are now consenting to set up another. Oh! nation of free-traders, must you have free-trade even in your exchanges." He did not believe that the Liberal Party would be participes criminis when such a charge as this was laid. He could assure hon. Members opposite that he and those around him opposed this measure in no spirit of mortification that their work was about to be undone, and in no spirit of antagonism to the Army, whose reputation was equally dear to both sides of the House. They opposed it on the broad principle that to legalize barter in public offices was contrary to public policy, contrary to the expectation of the country, and injurious to the honour and credit of the public service. That broad principle was embodied in the Resolution which he now submitted to the House. It would be somewhat extraordinary if in the year 1875 a majority of the House of Commons should say "No" to such a Resolution; but, however that might be, he was well assured that, in the opinion of the nation, the "Ayes" would have it. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.


in rising to second the Amendment, said *: I rise to ask the patience of this House for a short time while I put before it, as briefly as possible, the grounds on which I feel compelled—having the highest interests of the Army in view—most unhesitatingly to oppose the passing of this Bill. There never probably was a Bill laid before this House which was pregnant with such grave and wide consequences, while appearing to contain so little. There has seldom been a Bill the future operation and effect of which could so little be gathered from that which it shows on its innocent surface. What apparently can be more unobjectionable than a proposition that officers should be allowed freely to exchange with each other, so that each individual, suiting his own convenience as to the climate and the circumstances under which he will serve, the whole Army should be contented, and the service benefited? And let me say, Sir, at the outset, that I have no objection whatever to exchanges as such. I think that exchanges, under proper limitations, are beneficial both to the officer and to the State. I go still further. If it can be shown that the present scale of "necessary expenses "is too low—if it can be shown that it has unduly hindered exchanges, then by all means let it be revised. I am decidedly in favour of every facility for exchange consistent with the best interests of the service. But I have the strongest possible objection to the re-introduction of purchase—under any colouring, or in whatever shape. And, Sir, as soon as you begin to examine this Bill in detail—as soon as you begin to forecast how it will work—then the cloven foot of purchase peeps out again, so that I have no hesitation in designating it as one of the most questionable, dangerous, and retrograde measures ever brought before this House. I give the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Secretary of State for War full credit for the excellence and the purity of his intentions. I place implicit confidence in his integrity, as everyone in this House who knows his frank and honourable character will do. But he has been misled in this matter. He little knows the dangerous inevitable effects of what he is introducing, and, what is more, he cannot guard against them. I say—without fear of contradiction—that if it pass in its present shape, it will re-introduce purchase in one of its worst forms. It will reverse all the beneficial legislation of four years ago, and it will cause all the money which this House has voted, and the country has spent, for improving the administration of promotion to be as much and as wantonly wasted as if it were deliberately thrown into the sea. Sir, I had hoped when this Bill was withdrawn at the end of last Session that on its re-introduction this year the Secretary of State for War would have so modified it as to deprive it of its worst feature—its power of making exchange for which money is paid, the means of buying promotion. I ventured to make a proposition to the right hon. Gentleman for a modification in that sense, which appears to have entirely escaped his memory, but which I shall now have the opportunity of moving as an Amendment. Had the Bill re-appeared in that improved shape, confining its action solely to exchanges, and giving this House and the country that which it has a right to—a guarantee that it should never be made the means of re-introducing purchase, I should have been prepared to give it a certain amount of support. As it stands now—containing no such guarantee, but, on the contrary, containing provisions which will, as I will presently show, be inevitably used for the purpose of restoring purchase—I have no option, in the best interests of the country, in the highest interests of the poorer officers of the Army, but to give it, by every means in my power, an unqualified opposition. There is one point I should like to clear up. It has been implied, rather than directly stated, in the course of this debate, that this power of exchange will be made by officers the means of avoiding active service. Sir, that is an assertion to which I cannot even lend the tacit acquiescence of silence. I repudiate the insinuation with the contempt it deserves. Such a case never has occurred amongst the officers of the British Army, and I will venture to say it never will while British officers are—what they have ever been—the true leaders of their men. But to return to this Bill. I said, Sir, that it would re-introduce purchase. But, Sir, before touching on that point, I would, first object to this Bill that it is wholly unnecessary. Anyone reading this Bill, and listening to the speech with which it has been ushered in, would naturally suppose that exchanges between officers had been prohibited when purchase was abolished, and that they have never since been allowed. But what is really the case? Exchanges between officers never have been prohibited; they never have been suspended for a moment; they take place daily, to the great advantage, as I freely admit, both of individual officers and of the service. The only limitation that has been made—and this, be it marked, is what this Bill is intended to reverse—is that, instead of officers being permitted, as previously to 1871, to give and receive sums of money without limit, for these exchanges now, and since 1871, every officer wishing to exchange is very properly obliged to submit to the Military Secretary a statement of the sum proposed to be paid, of the items that compose the total, and then only what are deemed the necessary expenses of the exchange are sanctioned. And, Sir, this practice of proper supervision and limitation of the sums to be paid for exchanges is what this Bill proposes to put an end to. The right hon. Gentleman said he thought it a "pernicious thing "to recognize these payments of money. But, then, what does he propose to do? Does he propose to put a stop to these payments? On the contrary, he proposes to recognize them on the largest possible scale. For his Bill will remove all legal restriction whatever upon them, a legal restriction that has existed for three centuries, and will leave officers free to pay just whatever they please, on the sole condition that he hears nothing about it. Depend upon it, Sir, the officers of the Army will gladly take him at his word. They will pay just what they please, and he will certainly never hear anything about it. But they will re-introduce purchase in the process. They desire nothing better than this tacit recognition; and they will not be slow to profit by it. Sir, this is not a Bill to permit exchanges, for exchanges are daily permitted, and have never been prohibited. It should properly be called a Bill to permit officers to make money by exchanging their duties, and I have yet to learn that that is a traffic which the public opinion of this country, when rightly informed as to its results, will either approve or tolerate. I have said that my first objection to this Bill is that there is no necessity for it, and as one example is worth a dozen assertions, I would recall to the memory of hon. Members a letter that has recently appeared in The Times newspaper on this subject. An officer of Artillery—an ex-Member of this House (Major Arbuthnot) who lately sat for Hereford, writes to endeavour to induce the public to prejudge this case in favour of this Bill, by telling a pathetic tale of how, finding himself at one and the same time thrown out of Parliament and under orders to proceed to Rangoon, he was under the necessity of either finding an exchange or going on foreign service. I offer Major Arbuthnot my respectful sympathies on this combination of misfortunes. But I may remark, in passing, that foreign service is not altogether so unusual and exceptional an incident in a military career as to be considered as a hardship by soldiers—at least, the working officers of the service have not been in the habit of so regarding it. Then Major Arbuthnot goes on to tell us of the difficulty he had in obtaining that exchange, because, as he says, of the stringent rules in force; and then he relates how at last he found an officer at Rangoon, who was willing to remain there for "a consideration," and finally how he was permitted to make the exchange, and both parties to the arrangement were equally pleased. I congratulate Major Arbuthnot upon the happy termination to his difficulties. I am sure the House must feel much indebted to him for taking us all into his confidence with such charming frankness. But there is just one little matter connected with this case which he omitted to tell us—no doubt in the hurry of writing—and as that is a point somewhat material to the discussion now before us, I am glad to be able to supply the omission. Major Arbuthnot forgot to tell us what he was allowed to pay for that exchange. Will this House believe, after all this outcry about the stringency of rules, and the hardship of money not being allowed to pass, that in this very instance, and under existing regulations, Major Arbuthnot was allowed to pay £400 for that exchange to the officer who replaced him? And when I tell the House, moreover, that that large sum was paid solely for I the passage to Rangoon of that officer's wife, family, and servants, whom he had left behind, then, I think, many hon. Members will be disposed to agree with me that the existing regulations, on which so liberal an interpretation is allowed to be put in practice, are almost sufficient to answer all the reasonable demands, both of individual officers and of the public service, in the matter of exchange. I say with confidence, that if, as I have shown, the present regulations have so wide a margin that under them not only can an officer be allowed to be indemnified by his successor for all the expenses incidental to a change of country—such as cost of new uniform, of horses, and of passage out to his new station—but that, when the occasion requires it, he may receive instead a large sum of money for the passage of his wife, family, and servants, as was done in this case of Major Arbuthnot's, then, I say, there has been no case made out of proved necessity for any great further relaxation of the rules, and no argument produced in favour of the introduction of this dangerous and doubtful measure. But, Sir, even if there is not sufficient facility already for an officer to choose the climate he will serve in, there is another easy remedy for that without resorting to so extreme and retrograde a measure as exchange by purchase. Let the Government carry out the system of linked battalions in its integrity as regards the officers, as they have already done as regards the men, and that will entirely do away with any necessity for this Bill. As the House knows, the 141 battalions of the Infantry of the Line, are now grouped in couples, called linked battalions, and intended, I believe, eventually to form one regiment. One battalion of each couple is at home, the other abroad. If proper advantage is taken of this system exchanges will rarely, if ever, be necessary. For where it is desirable, as it often is, from long service in tropical climates, ill-health or any other cause, that an officer should have a temporary change of station, it will be in the power of the authorities to transfer him to do duty with the home battalion; and as this could be done without altering his regimental standing by simply arranging a list of the relative ranks of the officers in both the battalions, it would be done at much greater advantage to the individual than the present mode of exchange; for he would not by such a transfer go down to the bottom of his rank. Then the transfer being made by authority for reasons which the authorities approve, the next senior officer for foreign service would proceed out as a matter of course: and no officer could complain of a system by which he was sure to be benefited in his turn. The same principle is applicable to the Artillery, as three new brigades are about to be formed. And this principle has the advantages of having precedent in its favour, for it has worked well for many years past, in the transfers between the depôt and the service companies of regiments. The right hon. Gentleman has said in his speech he desires to regulate those exchanges for the future, partly on "military grounds," from which pecuniary or private considerations shall entirely be excluded. Sir, that is a most laudable desire. Therefore let me respectfully commend to his consideration the mode of exchange which I have just sketched out, which can be carried out entirely on "military grounds," and without costing either officer concerned one single penny or deranging his regimental standing. Sir, I said that this Bill would be made the means of reintroducing the purchase of promotion, and I will proceed to prove it. In the lower ranks, in the grades of lieutenant and captain, it will only do so to a minor extent; because in those ranks as each officer exchanging has to go to the bottom of a somewhat long list of his rank, the process of making up a purse to get promotion by getting men to exchange out of a regiment will be a rather slow one. It will, however, I have no doubt, be done even in those grades, as it was in the Indian Army. But in the higher and more responsible grade of major—a rank, be it remembered, that is next in succession to the command of a regiment—a grade, be it remarked, that since the abolition of purchase is intended to be bestowed by selection—this Bill will immediately and inevitably re-introduce a direct means of buying promotion. For instance, a rich man is now the junior major of a regiment in India. He is there very much against his will. He has a lieutenant-colonel and a major over him, both of whom are compara- tively poor men. They like the high pay of India. Neither of them intends to move—or "give a step" as it is called—for the next 10 years. Our rich young major sees no chance of promotion. He is bored to death, he hates the country, he hates the Natives, he has no alleviation to his hard lot except driving away the mosquitoes by night and anathematizing the Radicals who "have abolished purchase and ruined the Army" by day. But, let this Bill once pass, and you revive that bored and languid major at once to new energy, from the tame pursuit of cursing the Radicals to the far more exciting pursuit of promotion by purchase. He will at once see his way—I use the vernacular of the Army—to "getting out of this beastly country, sir," and buying promotion at one stroke. He will get a medical certificate, of that easy and convenient shape, that "a change of air to England will be highly beneficial to him." He will look for an exchange to a regiment in England, and he will wisely choose one in which the lieutenant-colonel is within 18 months or two years of completing his time for retirement. Then, once exchanged—for which he will pay £800 or £1,000—he will begin to work upon the major senior to him, who alone stands between him and the lieutenant-colonel, the "falling in" of which I have said is a certainty in two years. He will represent in glowing colours the advantage of the higher pay of India. He will offer that major £1,000 or £1,500 to exchange out of his way, and in 10 months, by having paid £2,500, he will command his new regiment. Take another instance: An officer is junior major of a regiment of two battalions in India. He has, therefore, throe majors and two lieutenant-colonels over him, or five field officers. As soon as this Bill passes, he will be at liberty, by paying a fancy sum of money, to exchange to a regiment of only one battalion at home. That at once reduces the number of field officers senior to him from five to two. In other words, he buys three steps of promotion at one operation of so-called exchange. But still further. If he makes a wise selection he will chose, as before, a regiment in which the lieutenant-colonel is within a short time—say two years, 18 months, or a year—of his time for retiring. In that case his one operation of exchange reduces the number of those senior to him at one stroke from five to one. That is, practically, he buys four steps of promotion at one payment. And he buys, moreover, the chance of at any moment succeeding to the lieutenant colonelcy by a death vacancy, and it would be well worth his while paying for this bargain from £1,500 to £2,000, as was formerly constantly done. But take yet another case—that of a lieutenant-colonel, who is under the new rule, by which the command of a regiment is only to be held for five years. He has served four out of his five years. Then he will be positively overwhelmed with money offers to exchange into another regiment by majors who want, and can afford to buy, promotion. It will be well worth while to give him £1,000 to exchange, and to give their own lieutenant-colonel, who has four or five years to serve, another £1,000 to exchange with him, for it is certain that in 12 months he will give a step in the new regiment to which he goes, and this is always worth paying for. Will anybody tell me that this is not buying promotion? But I shall be told, of course, that there is a fallacy running through my argument, because promotion is now ruled by selection, and that, therefore, it would not be worth any man's while to buy such a chance as I have pictured, because, after having paid the money, he would have no certainty of succeeding to the vacancy. To that, I answer, that though as a matter of supposition or theory, since the abolition of purchase promotion is supposed to go by selection, this is only a matter of theory. I should not exaggerate if I said that, in practice, selection is a pure delusion, a fiction. It does not exist as regards any practical effect on the promotion of the Army. I will give the House a few figures to show what selection amounts to. Sir, I hold in my hand a Return carefully prepared, and by it I find that from the 1st of November, 1871—the date when purchase was abolished—to the 31st December, 1874, out of 149 vacancies that have occurred in the Infantry of the Line in the rank of field officer, only 20 have been filled in the slightest degree otherwise than by strict regimental succession. But this is not the whole case. Of these 20 even, there were but three that could be called instances of selection. For the other 17 officers were of such senior standing in the Army that there was no question of selection at all in their being chosen, for, even under the old purchase system, their seniority would have given them a claim to be thus brought in. The effect, then, during the last three years of a system of so-called selection has been simply to retain to those officers who had purchased up early in their career a continuation of the unfair advantages of the purchase system, even after that system had been condemned and attempted to be abolished by the country. And it is very easy to account for this—it is a matter in which the Commander-in-Chief can scarcely help himself. There is an opinion very prevalent and very popular in the Army, that until every officer has been paid down his regulation money—as long, in fact, as the State retains any portion of that money—every officer has a vested right to succeed to the vacancies that occur in his own regiment. I am not prepared to say that that mode of paying the regulation money down would not have been the best way of satisfying the claims of the officers. I am decidedly of opinion that it would have more satisfactorily solved the question, and undoubtedly it would have done so more speedily, and thus have got rid of all this protracted uncertainty and discontent. Nor am I in a position to say whether the authorities who administer the promotion of the Army do share that opinion of the officers, that they have a vested right of succession to regimental vacancies. But this I am certain of—that judging from facts in black and white, judging by their acts in the last three years, until you satisfy that opinion of the officers as to their claims, promotion by selection will continue to be, as it is at present—a mere delusion and a sham, a mere name used to throw dust in the eyes of the public; and that the intentions of the country as to rooting out the effects of purchase from the Army never will be carried out. And my main objection to the Bill is that not only does it perpetuate those supposed vested interests, at a time when they were gradually beginning to disappear, but it will do worse; by allowing money to be paid for exchanges it will create a new class of vested interests, similar to, and quite as difficult to deal with, as the original ones of the purchase system. For I maintain confidently that when you have allowed an officer, as this Bill will do, to pay £2,000—or oven £2,500—first for a favourable exchange in the rank of major from one regiment to another, and for then removing the major senior to him out of his way, it will be almost impossible—nay, I say perfectly impossible—morally to resist his claim to succeed to the command of the regiment. Who can deny that this is, and will be made, a direct means of purchasing promotion—by shortening, perhaps, by several years, the time that would otherwise elapse in passing from the rank of major to that of lieutenant-colonel? Sir, we are told that this Bill is introduced in the interest of the poor officer. To me it is a marvel how any true friend of the Army can permit himself to be deluded by such specious but transparent reasoning. I will put one consideration to those who think money exchanges would benefit the poor man. We have at least nominally abolished purchase. The country has come to see at last that the profession of arms is one requiring from those who would aspire to attain to eminence in it, not only special qualities of a high order, but the exclusive devotion of a lifetime of study and application. The next inevitable reform consequent on this discovery will be that the country, while rightly expecting a higher professional standard from its officers, will see that it is just and equitable that a highly-educated profession should be better paid. But if we have exchanges by purchase, this demand for higher pay can never be made, or if made, can always be evaded. Once let us have a system of money exchanges, and the poor officer can never complain of the insufficiency of his pay to enable him to live at home, for the obvious and ready reply to him will be—" If you cannot live in England, it is your own fault; why not exchange to India or the Colonies with some richer man, and put a few hundreds in your pocket at the same time?" I say that those are no true friends of the Army, or of the poor officer, who would thus re-open the door to enable the State to do that which it has always done under a purchase system—evade its just obligation to pay its officers properly by eking out the insufficient income of the poor officer—not from the public purse—but by forced contributions out of the pockets of his richer comrade. But, Sir, I have not yet done with the evils of exchange for money. One immediate effect of them—and I beg the House to ponder this well—will be to divide the Army into two classes, having separate interests—the rich officers and the poor ones. What will be the result? Why, that the poor men, consulting not their inclination but their necessity, will he all serving abroad in distant unhealthy climates, bartering their health and their lives against money, and the rich men will all be congregated in the near and pleasant Mediterranean stations, or in still closer and pleasanter proximity to Pall Mall and the clubs. At first sight this appears all that could be wished. The poor man fills his poor purse to the benefit of his family; the rich man finds military life made less irksome and pleasanter to him. But, Sir, what will be the effect on the efficiency of the Army—the nation's property, the nation's defence—in time of need? What will be the effect on the free career for talent which purchase was abolished to obtain? I have no hesitation in saying it will be most injurious, if not destructive. Immediately this division into classes takes place, then, as during the purchase system, all the benefits, honours, and distinctions of the service will come, as a matter of inevitable certainty, to the rich man; all the knocks, all the hardships, all the drudgery, to the poor one. It will be asked, how so? Just in this way. The rich man being always at or near home, near the centre of news and of interest, near the centre from which any foreign expedition must start, while avoiding all the wear and tear of foreign service in peace time, will be at the right spot for early asking for, and early grasping, all the loaves and fishes, all the increased opportunities of Staff employment, all the increased chances of distinction that war affords. But the poor man, in his distant colony, or in remoter India, after enduring all the hardships of climate, and of exile, and of monotonous toil in time of peace, will have the additional bitterness of forced exclusion from all the prizes of the profession in time of war, and will be left eating his heart out in compulsory inaction, while his more fortunate comrade—simply because he is the richer man—is on the spot to reap all the honours and rewards of war. Is not this a monstrous injustice? Sir, if I speak warmly, it is because I say that which I know from my own bitter experience—my own, and that of my father before me. Others may forget; but I, as a son, cannot be expected to forget those long years of patient waiting in which my father, a student of war from his youth—whose capacity had been acknowledged by every General under whom he had served for 40 years—was debarred by such regulations as those I am now combatting; debarred, not from the opportunities of personal distinction, for that he never coveted for himself, but from that chance for which every impulse of his great heart beat—the opportunity of usefully serving his country in some great emergency. Sir, that opportunity came to him at last, but it came to him in advanced ago, when his feet were already standing on the threshold of his grave; too late for the achievement of personal renown, not too late, I thank God, for the interests of his country. But, be it recollected, Sir, that but for the fortuitous circumstance that that great revolt occurred in the very country in which, by his poverty, his lot had been fixed; but for the suddenness with which the dreadful crisis followed on the heels of the first outbreak, oven that opportunity would have been denied to him. Had there boon more time, the usual rule would have been carried out. Some favourite of fortune, some veteran of Windsor and of St. James's Park, would have been sent out to supersede him in the command, and alter a long life of patient service he would have descended to the grave unhonoured and unknown, without once having found scope for his talents on a larger scale. That example, Sir, should be a warning to England for all future time not to deprive herself wilfully of one-half of the richest inheritance she possesses—that capacity and ability that are to be found in all classes of her officers—in rich and poor alike—by imposing such conditions of service on her Army as practically restrict the chances of distinction in great European wars to the privileged few—such rules as practically make the prizes of the profession the exclusive appanage and property of the rich. Nobody will convince me that that is a desirable state of things to restore, or a salutary condition for our Army. To be divided into two broad sections or castes—by force, not of capacity and talent, but of interest and of money. Once reintroduce the money element, and you cannot avoid, however good your intentions may be, giving the rich man an undue advantage over his poorer comrade. If you pass this Bill, within six months you will have purchase in full force again, just as before 1871; and all the money paid by this country in hopes of its abolition will be utterly and wantonly wasted. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government said the other day, in resisting my Motion for the adjournment of this debate, that he was sceptical whether any fresh arguments could be adduced that would be "interesting." Sir, I venture to differ from the right hon. Gentleman. I venture to think that when this subject is properly understood—when it is seen to be what it really is—not a mere minor question whether officers shall or shall not be allowed to exchange freely, but a question involving the great and grave issue whether seven millions of money shall be spent for the purpose for which the nation has intended it, or shall, by an adroit manœuvre, be used to consolidate and perpetuate that very system of purchase which they were voted to abolish, then, I think, the question will assume for the taxpayers of England an "interest" far exceeding that of even any glowing romance that ever fell from his brilliant pen. I have trespassed on the patience of this House much longer than I intended; but this is a matter of vital importance to the interests—aye, to the very existence—of a nation, and no one is so qualified to speak on it as those who have practical knowledge of its working. Therefore, I trust the House will pardon me, in conclusion, one personal allusion I am about to make to my own experience. I have now had the honour to serve Her Majesty for 29 years, in peace and in war, in almost every part of the globe. During that time, first as a regimental officer, then for some years on the Regimental Staff, subsequently in both departments of the General Staff of the Army, I have had opportunities, seldom surpassed, of knowing the merits and defects of every part of our system. I only mention this for the purpose of saying that which I heartily rejoice to be able to say—that at no time within my recollection, not even under the stimulus of actual war, has there been such a wide-spread, rapid, and at the same time solid advance made in professional knowledge and improvement among all ranks of our officers as during the last three years. The progress is more like the work of a generation than of three short years. From the oldest to the youngest, every officer is now earnestly doing his best to qualify himself for success in the noble profession to which he belongs—to fit himself for the coveted opportunity of being useful to his country in time of need. To what is this advance attributable? To the fact that you decided three years ago—wisely, but not one moment before it was necessary—to root out and sweep away for the future the baneful withering influence of the purse, and to substitute for it the juster, the nobler standard of professional excellence and merit. I implore this House not to check or to hinder this great and wholesome progress. Do not again divert the attention of your officers from their professional duties—to the ignoble gambling for shares in the promotion Stock Exchange. Do not, even for the supposed sake of some considerable advantage to individuals, again open the door to the jobbery and corruption, the unworthy underhand dealing to which our officers were, till four years ago, compelled—most reluctantly compelled—to demean themselves. It was no fault of theirs, mind. The officers did not establish purchase. It is even doubtful whether they in any way benefited by it. It was forced upon them. It was a bad legacy, like many other evils that we have gradually extirpated from our Constitution, an evil legacy from the base times of the Stuarts. Then do not force it on us again. I say it advisedly, it is better that the country should pay any sum that might be necessary out of the public purse to facilitate exchanges, than that this demoralizing and dangerous traffic between officers should be re-opened. Sir, I have shown earlier in my arguments that the desirable—nay, laudable—objects that the Secretary of State for War has in view—the greater facility for exchange—can be better accomplished by other and less dangerous means. I beg this House to resist this temporary pressure in favour of this retrograde change, revived and exaggerated by the unwise re-introduction of this Bill. Keep, instead, to the regulations now in force—relax them still further where it may be found to be necessary, and in six months any feeling on this subject will have passed away. The officers will accommodate themselves, as they always honourably and cheerfully do, to any decision that is manifestly in the interests of the public. And I will guarantee that your Army, raised by your wise determination to that true dignity of a profession, of a career open to rich and poor alike, kept by your sound judgment still unsullied from any trace of an ignoble and mercenary traffic, will reward the country, which has been so wisely jealous of its best interests, by increased results of efficiency and usefulness which shall eclipse, if that be possible, oven its own rich historic record of honour and patriotism in the past.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House is of opinion that Regimental Exchanges may he properly allowed under official control; But that any legislation permitting a public officer to pay a sum of money by way of profit or bonus to another officer in respect of a bargain for the exchange of their offices would he injurious to the public service,"—(Mr. Goschen,)

—instead thereof.

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


said, he was unavoidably absent when the subject was under discussion on a former occasion, but having since studied the speeches that were then delivered he was at a loss, and he was still so, to understand why a measure so simple and so just should have aroused the opposition that had been manifested in the House. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Department in introducing the Bill distinctly disclaimed having, in the slightest degree, any wish or intention to interfere with the new "system and of going back to the old system of purchase, and said that, if it were possible to do so, he would be no party to it. The right hon. Gentleman further said that he considered the new system irrevocable, and that he was prepared to stand by it loyally and firmly. The Bill had come before the House recommended by the highest authorities connected with the administration of the Army, who considered that it was for the interest of the Army that exchanges should be permitted; fortified by the opinion of the Commission, of which the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty was a Member; and 99 out of every 100 officers considered it was a proposal in the shape of an act of justice which, in the interests of the Army, ought to be conceded. One was therefore at a loss to understand why it should meet with so much opposition, and which was to be repeated upon every possible occasion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), and the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just spoken had certainly treated the question in a manner different from that previously adopted; but, though they both opposed the measure, the speech of the hon. and gallant Member had conclusively answered and demolished the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman whoso Motion he seconded. He could only suggest as an explanation of the opposition to the Bill that as the Session grew older hon. Gentlemen opposite saw that the Government were in a position to introduce measures which commended themselves to the general acceptance of the country, and dealt with some acknowledged want or reformed some known evil connected with the social and universal life of the country. The Opposition were therefore in this peculiar position, that night after night they were obliged to accept these measures and express their approval of them; and therefore, unless they could find something to urge upon the country, their occupation was gone, because, their mission being to curse, night after night they were called upon to bless. The fact was, as one hon. Member opposite had said to him—one, too, whose opinion was held in high estimation by his Colleagues—" This Bill, at any rate, is the best horse we have in the stable; it is not a very good one, but we intend to run him on every occasion as long as he has got a leg to stand upon." That was the reason why this question had been treated as a Party question, and that was why there was to be such a continued battle about it. It was, at any rate, the duty of hon. Members on his side of the House to show that there was no foundation for the assertion that the present Government was a reactionary Government, or that its intention by this Bill was covertly to re-establish the system of purchase. They must show that justice to the officers required that facilities for exchange should be increased. If this measure would lead to the re-establishment of the system of purchase, he would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that before the new system was introduced the system by which exchanges could be made in consideration of money payments was more frequently followed in the non-purchase services than in regiments of the Line. In three years—from October, 1868, to October, 1871—there were 138 exchanges in the Royal Artillery, and only 260 in all the other regiments of the Army. Those figures showed that effecting exchanges for a money consideration was perfectly consistent with a system that entirely forbade purchase commissions, and also that in regiments, such as the Royal Artillery, where promotion was slow, it was there a natural consequence that a system of exchanges should exist. But, said the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City, one of the great dangers of the Bill would be that it would lead to a system by which purses would be made in order to induce officers to retire. He believed that what the right hon. Gentleman meant by that was that in the case of an exchange being proposed between an officer at home and a senior captain, for instance, those who were under the senior captain would make a purse and induce him to effect an exchange because they would gain a step by so doing. He (Sir Seymour Fitzgerald) defied any officer of the Army to say, either from his own experience or from any amount of inquiry that he might make, that there was a single instance of such a proceeding. And even if such a thing was possible, it was just as possible under the existing system as it would be under the system to be established by the Bill of his right hon. Friend. Exchange under the Bill would be subject to strict regulations, and it was obvious that no such transaction as that the right hon. Member for the City supposed would be sanctioned directly or indirectly. With regard to the objection of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) that the Bill dealt only with the facilities which were to be given for exchanges among the officers alone—


said, he did not himself use that argument. It had been used by some one else, and on its being replied to by the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (General Shute), he interposed a question to him on the subject.


The argument was, at any rate, distinctly dealt with by several hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. His answer to it was this—If a private in a regiment was ordered to India, before he could go he was examined by a medical inspector, and unless the inspection was satisfactory, the doctor immediately said to the private—" Stand aside; you are to remain in depôt." But how with an officer? Even if he was ill he was called upon to go, and unless he could get his exchange he had to leave the service. When the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Office said that these exchanges were to be made simply upon military considerations he meant that, as far as the money part of the transaction was concerned, the War Office had nothing to do with it; but that, with regard to the position of any officer after such exchange, the authorities held themselves free to act solely on considerations of military fitness. Both the last speakers had represented the Bill as interfering with selection. Now, he confessed his inability to understand this, because he understood "selection "to mean that the officer next in seniority would not necessarily be appointed when a vacancy occurred in the command of a regiment, but that an officer would be appointed who possessed all the requisite qualifications for so responsible a position. Selection did not mean that a particular officer was the best man for a particular locality in India or elsewhere. Therefore, if one lieutenant-colonel sought an exchange with another lieutenant-colonel, one officer would be as good as the other, inasmuch as both had been selected for the responsible post of commander of a regiment. The present Bill could not re-introduce purchase in any shape or form; but he wished to point out that the existing system did not afford that proper liberty of exchange which was necessary for the well-being of the Army. Consequently, in justice to the officers, this Bill ought to be passed. Hon. Gentlemen opposite treated this as a question which must necessarily arise between the rich officer and the poor officer; but he entirely repudiated any such grouping, because there was no greater mistake than to suppose that the power of exchange was only sought by those two classes of men. He believed that exchanges had been constantly made between men of most moderate means, and that, in some cases, the exchange money was paid by the officer who could least afford it. The opponents of this measure erred in supposing that no exchange ever was made except because a rich man wanted to avoid a particular service which a poor man would be willing for a pecuniary consideration to accept; and the right hon. Member for the City (Mr. Goschen) spoke with great indignation of a letter which had recently appeared, in which an officer had said the circumstances were such that if he had no power of exchange, he would be obliged to resign his commission. It must constantly happen in the many changes of military life and in private relations that men, for reasons perfectly satisfactory, and without having anything to do with military considerations, were obliged to stay at home. An officer might be unable to undertake foreign service because he had a sick wife or sick children; because he himself had only just recovered from an illness; or because he had aged parents whom he might never see again if he wont away to distant climes. Was it fair to say to a man in such a position—" You must not in any way hold out any inducement in order to get an exchange, and if you do not get an exchange you must leave the service? "For it should be remembered that an exchange without some inducement was only possible when it was just as important for one officer to remain at home as it was for another officer to go abroad. In other cases the balance could only be equalized by a pecuniary payment. One of the evils of the present system was, that the number of exchanges under it did not equal the demand. In the two years before the establishment of the system 157 exchanges took place, and in the two years succeeding only 97, so that in those last two years there were about 60 per cent of those who probably would have exchanged if the opportunity had been afforded them. The exchanges now effected were precisely those which the authorities ought to encourage—namely, with men who liked Indian life, and who were inclined to stay in India for the sake of the higher pay. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) said the principle on which this Bill proceeded was that a poor officer might eke out his emoluments by the receipt of a bonus. In reality, the Bill was framed as much in the interest of the poor as of the rich officers; but, after all, the House ought to endeavour to promote, not the interests of any class of officers, but the well-being of the Army. At present an officer might be compelled to retire from a service in which be desired to continue, or else go to a distant country with a feeling that he had been unjustly treated. It might be true, as had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, that several witnesses had said that they had in past times paid large sums of money for their exchanges, and that they looked forward to recoup themselves under the old system. But to make good such losses was not, he would beg to remind him, the object of the Bill. If such a case were to come under the notice of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for "War to-morrow, he would justly point out that he had nothing whatever to do with anything but the military considerations involved in those transactions. He would, in conclusion, simply express a hope that the House would that evening give its sanction to the measure, and by a majority so decisive that they should be relieved of the menace held out to them of having this fight fought over and over again so long as the measure was before Parliament. He was quite sure the country would see that there was no danger of the revival of purchase, and that it was desirable that they should give contentment and satisfaction to their officers, and he was sure that this Bill would do more than anything else to restore good feeling and contentment.


said, that it struck him as somewhat remarkable that the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Sunderland, with, as he had reminded the House that night, a varied service of 29 years, had been able to point to but a single instance of the evils which it was contended had resulted from the former system of exchanges. That single instance many would be inclined to think was a peculiar and well-defined example of the good which might and often did accrue under the old system to officers more fortunate in possessing gallantry and ability than worldly means. The noble and brave father of the Member for Sunderland had—owing to the very circumstances which prolonged his stay in India—been afforded opportunities of serving his country in a high position—opportunities which it was needless to say he had nobly turned to the best account. True, he had died sooner than his compatriots would have wished; but he died on the scene of his glory, and under any circumstances it would have been hard to have attributed his premature death to the former system of exchanges, although it might on the other hand, be fairly argued that it was the fixing of his lot in India, of which the hon. Baronet had complained, that gave him the opportunity of reaping his harvest of renown. But able and experienced as was the hon. and gallant Baronet, it seemed that his mind had become saturated with the evils of the former Purchase system, until he looked at everything connected with the Army—oven at exchanges, through a medium which gave a particular tint to all his views. As for himself (Captain Nolan) his experience in service was not indeed so long as that of the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland, but he thought that the fact of his having always belonged to a non-Purchase corps gave him some advantages in attempting to calculate what would be the probable course of events in the Infantry and Cavalry, now that their working was changed from a Purchase to a non-Purchase system, over those possessed by the hon. and gallant Baronet. Now, first as to the argument of the Member for Sunderland, that promotion would be purchased under the exchange system. There were in the Artillery and Engineers over 2,000 officers, and while in the last 8 or 10 years hundreds of exchanges had been made in those corps, it was a fact beyond all contention that not one single stop of promotion had been gained in either corps through exchanges. Again take the case of double battalions—and exclusive of the Guards (who no more required a system of exchanges than did German or Austrian officers)—the Army reckoned 58 of such battalions—was it not unlikely, nay, impossible that a captain could in these, as had been suggested, make arrangements with the 19 captains who would be over his head, so as to purchase promotion? The same argument applied of course, with increased force to the subalterns of such battalions. But take even single battalions, was it likely that an officer could, in exchanging, negotiate with the nine captains which even there he would have to clear out of his path to secure his own promotion, and that, too, in defiance of every regulation. With the Cavalry, where sometimes there were as few as seven captains to a regiment, these difficulties, insuperable in the previous cases, became less, but still could only be vanquished if we supposed that there was no Secretary for War, or that the person occupying that position steadily insisted on keeping his eyes shut. It was, perhaps, conceivable that promotion could be thus purchased by majors and colonels of the Cavalry and Infantry—not, remember, of the Artillery and Engineers. But were the interests of over 10,000 officers to be sacrificed because a rule generally advantageous might, if great laxity prevailed at the War Office, be open to abuse by a special class of 600 or 700 officers? Was it not the proper course to pass the general rule for the great majority of cases, and to take special precautions to prevent the realization of abuses in the exceptional instances? The right hon. Gentleman who had spoken first to-night had said that vested interests would accrue under a system of exchange. Now, the only instance in which he specially advocated exchanges, or in which officers cared much, or at least vitally, about them, was when there was a change of stations, as from England to India, or to some distant colony; and these were instances in which, he contended, it was impossible that vested interests could accrue, for hon. Members must bear in mind that a regiment served for five years at home and for 10 abroad, and it had been specially pointed out to them by the right hon. Gentleman that time was necessary for the growth of a vested interest. How, then, could a vested interest spring up in an exchange which during five years was constantly sinking in value, and which at the end of that time would have reached its minimum? But would not, in fact, an officer paying for an exchange, be purchasing a necessarily perishable commodity, in which it was impossible from the very nature of things that vested interests could arise. With regard to other remarks that fell from the right hon. Gentleman, he thought that officers would deem it—and with justice—hard that such attacks should come from the right hon. Gentleman? Whom did the right hon. Gentleman represent here? Who but the greatest body of traders that the world had ever seen?—traders, who in the interests of their commerce, had insisted on the Navy conquering almost every important maritime fortress on the globe, and had since called on the Army to garrison and retain these ports. But not content with this, these same traders had banded themselves into a Company, and conquered a territory of 200,000,000 population, which they again called on our Army to hold for them—while they sent here a right hon. Gentleman to prevent the officers of that Army from alleviating the heavy burthen which such a task entailed. The right hon. Gentleman had denounced the commercial notions of officers, but he should have remembered that if they exchanged their scanty hundreds, it was to lighten the toil necessarily incurred in procuring for the right hon. Gentleman's constituents the faculty of amassing their tens of of millions—and yet to this the right hon. Gentleman objected, on the ground of high principle. There was another point:—Hon. Gentlemen who last year had shown no interest in the private soldier or the non-commissioned officer, said now—" Why not allow the private and the non-commissioned officer also to exchange?" Well, he hoped hon. Members would remember this when the question of the non-commissioned officers came on, as he hoped it would come on, this Session; but it was a fact that at present, most privates could almost choose where they would serve as between England and India, or the Colonies. A soldier enlisted for only six years, and he could choose either a regiment going to India, in which he could spend all that six years, or one just returned, in which he would be sure of five years' home service. Officers had no corresponding power, and except by exchange could not in any way select their stations. The right hon. Member for the City of London alluded to the Lord Clyde argument, which he said had never been answered. Now Lord Clyde was a man of tolerably strong prejudices; he stuck to one regiment, going wherever he was ordered, and doing good service. An argument was drawn from Lord Clyde's career that an officer might become a good general by sticking to one regiment. But there was a greater man than Lord Clyde—the Duke of Wellington—who changed his regiment no fewer than six times before he became colonel. Therefore, it was within the bounds of possibility that a man might become a good general, even though he changed his regiments. Other specific instances had been brought forward, for example, that of Major Arbuthnot had been mentioned. Now the case of Major Arbuthnot was almost a typical one, as showing that it was not foreign service which the officer wished to escape, but rather the time at which such service was to be home. Major Arbuthnot had certainly of late obtained relief from foreign service by an exchange, but what were the true facts in his military life? Why, that he had twice been on foreign and active service during his previous career; that in one at least of these instances he had volunteered and had been promoted for good conduct in the field. Again early in the discussion, the hon. Member for the Border Burghs had pointed out the imaginary evils which might result to the service from an exchange between a specially efficient colonel, stationed on the North-west frontier of India, and a colonel stationed in, and just good enough for, a Cathedral town in England. Well, in 1815 colonels had been suddenly summonned from Cathedral towns to face a great master of war in Belgium. But let that pass. Suppose the Cathedral colonel inefficient—it would under any regulations for exchange be perfectly within the scope of the Secretary of State for War, to prohibit such an exchange on pure military grounds, which this Bill did not purport to affect. He would however give a converse case to that of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs to show that the present prohibition of money passing beyond a certain figure in exchanges, was, sometimes, actually injurious to the service only premising that while the case of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs was imaginary, his was an actual one. A Cavalry colonel, known to be an extremely good soldier, fit not only for a Cathedral town, but for a campaign in any part of Europe, had been ordered to India. He had no special acquaintance with that country, and he had reasons for wishing to remain at home, so he applied to another Cavalry colonel, who was perhaps a little too much of a Hindoo, but who did not wish particularly to exchange. However, he said he would, if the War Office would allow him pretty liberal costs—not only the expenses of his journey and the outfit of his bungalow, but also the price of his horses. But the Secretary of State for War would not consent. And yet it would be a very difficult thing for any Secretary of State for War to determine what would be the cost of an exchange or an outfit. Sir Charles Napier had said that the outfit of an officer ought to be a piece of soap and two towels, but officers might have a different opinion. It should not be forgotten that the English Army was in a totally different position from that of any other Army in the world. Not 1 per cent of the Prussian or Austrian Armies were out of the country; and in Germany, officers might remain in a garrison town for 20 years, except for the 18 months they were on active service. Now the keenest men about exchanges were the officers of the Artillery and Engineers, because they were liable to be sent abroad twice as often as other officers. The latter had to go out with their regiments, but officers of the Artillery had to go abroad with their batteries and also whenever they were promoted. He hoped this Motion would not be pressed to a division. The proper course would be for those who had objections to the Bill to endeavour to modify and improve it in Committee.


said, he was not surprised at the Motions of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) and the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) to reject the Bill on the second reading; but he was surprised at the part which had been taken by the hon. and gallant Member for Bath (Captain Hayter) with refer- ence to it, which was of so much importance to his brother soldiers, the more so as he belonged to a branch of the service who were not affected by this Bill, as their duties about the Sovereign confined their stations to London and Windsor, and occasionally to Dublin—he meant the Brigade of Guards—who were always ready and willing to go on foreign service, and who were sure to uphold the honour and glory of the country where-ever they went. But he was still more surprised at the part which had been taken in opposition to the Bill by the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock). He had followed with great interest and delight the glorious career of the hon. and gallant Baronet's father; but he could not help thinking that if that distinguished officer were now alive he would not have approved the course taken to-night by the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland. If there was any officer of the service who had obtained more by the system of exchanges than another, it was the late Sir Henry Havelock—and it was fortunate, both for his country and himself, that he was able to make them, as it enabled him to remain in India, which afterwards became the scene of his glory and his success. With regard to the speech made the other evening by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs, he must say he had drawn very largely on his imagination and stated as positive facts what required a little more consideration. For instance, the hon. Member stated that out of the whole Army 50 battalions were stationed in India, and only four or five were stationed at distant and unhealthy climates. [Mr. TREVELYAN: Where they did not get a large increase of pay.] There were two in China, three at the Cape of Good Hope—[Mr. TREVELYAN: I do not call that an unhealthy climate]—in Ceylon, Bermuda, Jamaica, the West African Settlements, the Gold Coast, Gibraltar, and Malta. There were no less than 24 battalions of the Army stationed in these parts, and yet the hon. Member for the Border Burghs said there were but four or five. Then the hon. Member said that if they passed this Bill commissions in the Army would be sold and bartered, and officers would be constantly changing from regiments in which promotion was slow to regiments in which promotion was rapid, Lord Clyde himself had exchanged on four different occasions. The hon. and gallant Member quoted from the speech made against the Bill by the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), who suggested that the ease of the poor officer should be met by an increase of pay, instead of in the manner sanctioned by this measure. A friend of his, struck by the sudden fit of liberality which had come over that hon. Member, remarked that the hon. Gentleman surely could not be the late Financial Secretary of the War Office, who had had an opportunity for several years of increasing the pay of the officers, but had not signalized himself by any such achievement. The opinion of the Duke of Cambridge was, that exchanges were freely permitted when individually desirable, and when they were beneficial to the public service. Sir Charles Yorke, for many years Military Secretary, considered exchanges to be personally and publicly advantageous; and Sir Richard Airey said they were of great advantage to the public and to individuals. In fact, exchanges were of great convenience to the rich officer, and to the poor officer of the greatest pecuniary importance, for a sub-lieutenant in the Army did not now get the pay of a journeyman carpenter. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) said the other night that in opposing the Bill he would be supported by the whole Liberal Party, led by their new Chief. He doubted that statement, knowing as he did that the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) had been Secretary of State for War, and must well understand the real nature of that measure. He could not understand why this should be made a Party question, for the Liberals had just as many relatives in the Army as their political opponents. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) the other night, in his eloquent peroration, declared that one of the three things which ought not to be bought or sold was the honour of a soldier. Well, it was the first time he (Colonel North) ever knew that the right hon. Gentleman took an interest in the honour and glory of our officers, and certainly during the period that he was Chancellor of Exchequer there was more injury done to the Army than at any previous time. The of purchase, having been done away with, would never again be restored, although if the measure abolishing it had to come on again he would offer it the same determined opposition as he did before. He sincerely hoped that the Bill would pass, for both the rich and the poor officers were entirely agreed as to its desirability.


observed, that the Secretary of State for War, when introducing the Bill, said that he would not have brought it forward if he had not been quite sure that it had nothing to do, directly or indirectly, with the question of the re-introduction of Purchase; but he differed entirely from the right hon. Gentleman upon that point. He believed that this Bill did re-introduce the system of purchase, and it would be a most difficult thing for the War Office to frame regulations which would prevent its re-introduction. A junior officer would find it a convenient mode of getting rid of his seniors—to ask them to exchange instead of buying them out as formerly. Officers who joined the Guards previous to the abolition of Purchase, and who had obtained the rank of captain and lieutenant colonel, were unable to exchange with officers of the same rank in the Line. Consequently, they were debarred from exchanging altogether; whereas the junior officers in the Guards would find themselves, after the passing of this Bill, in this position—that the value of their commissions would be increased not from any question of purchase, but because of the social advantages of the service, and the pleasanter conditions in which they were placed. The same argument would hold good with respect to commissions in the Cavalry and commissions in the Line. Officers would choose to exchange from the less favoured to the more favoured regiments; and, if so, would they not pay money for it? Therefore, it could not be said of a Bill which would have the effect of stamping commissions with a value which they had not before, that it would not have a great tendency to purchase. He maintained that it would. It was true that the amount of money passed under the new system would be as nothing compared with the amount which passed under the old system, but the principle would be the same. There were special circumstances in the re-introduction of purchase which would tend to its extension, and, at the same time, it was likely to prove a source of practical embarrassment to the War Office. Foreign Governments recognized the principle of exchange in connection with their armies, but they did not permit payments between the officers. The thing was unknown in foreign service. The Secretary of State for War shook his head; but, for his own part, he was not aware of any instance of the kind. He was free to admit that there were circumstances which rendered the condition of officers different from those which obtained in other branches of the service and also in other Armies abroad; but that difference, he maintained, was not such as to warrant the re-introduction of a system which, at any rate, a large number of Members considered to be fraught with such important and disastrous consequences so far as the principle was concerned. The whole of the arguments in favour of this Bill had turned on the word "convenience." If it were true that the convenience of the Army would be consulted, and that the change would tend to the interests of the State, he should have been happy to give his vote in favour of the Bill. He was willing to admit that the convenience of officers might be consulted to a certain extent, but it became a question of degree. The Secretary of State for War had alluded to the number of regimental exchanges that had taken place in the two years previous to the abolition of purchase, stating the number to be 159, as against 97 in the two subsequent years. These were regimental exchanges, and to these would have to be added a number of others, though the regimental were the more numerous. According to that statement the number of officers whose convenience would be consulted by the passing of the measure was insignificant. The inducements to officers to exchange divided themselves into two classes. One was represented by officers who exchanged for some reason connected with their health, or because they disliked their regiment and wished to serve elsewhere. To that class of exchange, Members could not reasonably object on either side of the House. The provisions of the War Office were such that not only was there no veto placed on such exchanges, but the War Office went further and said that any reasonable amount of money paid for such exchanges was legitimate. But there was a second class of inducements to exchange. There were pecuniary reasons. A great deal had been said about the abstract question of justice as between the richer and the poorer officers. He believed that exchanges of that kind, when sanctioned, were perfectly consistent with honourable feeling; but it was a great question whether sanction ought to be given to the principle that was involved. There was one class of pecuniary reasons which was of a somewhat peculiar character. It reversed the ordinary current where the rich man paid the poor man, because the poor officer would in this case pay the rich, expecting to recoup himself by the emoluments of service in India. But he put it to the House whether it was desirable that speculative exchanges of that kind should be encouraged? His own belief was that it was not desirable, and that money paid for such exchanges would be likely to prove anything but satisfactory to those who paid it. When we had de-ducted the number of officers who would exchange in that manner, and when it was taken into consideration that there was a considerable proportion of exchanges which were not objected to on either side of the House, there was really a very small residuum of exchanges which would be affected by this Bill; and looking to the small amount of convenience which officers would derive from it, he maintained that it was not to be compared with the disadvantage that would accrue to the public service by the introduction of a system which, at any rate, a large number of the Members on the Opposition side of the House regarded as immoral in principle and unsatisfactory in its working. He did not wish to say anything on the sentimental aspect of the question, to which the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) had done full justice. He felt perfectly certain that whether the system of purchase were or were not the law of this country, English officers would always be found to do their duty honourably and straightforwardly whatever the circumstances under which they might be called upon. But there were practical considerations which suggested themselves in the consideration of this Bill. It was not, in his opinion, a desirable course of legislation to stimulate exchanges, Apart from what had been said about officers running away from their regiments, whether in presence of an enemy or of sickness, there was no doubt that officers and men had greater mutual confidence and esteem if they knew each other and were associated with each other in every-day life; and on that consideration alone a system which had for its effect to stimulate exchanges was not one to commend itself to ordinary judgment. He should like to know what the Secretary of State for War would say in reply to this—how officers on half-pay for meritorious services were to be placed on an equality with other officers who, after the passing of this Bill, could exchange. The last argument he would use against the Bill was not the least important. Lord Cardwell used to point out to this House how it was that Purchase stood in the way of Army reform, and how it was that he was tripped up on this question of Purchase in everything he did for the good of the Army. It was complained of at the time that the House was called to pay £8,000,000 to redeem the Army from pawn; and, for his own part, he thought it would have been far better that the scheme of organization should have come in first and should have led up to the necessity for the abolition of Purchase. That was his view at the time; but he consoled himself with the idea that he should be able to justify his vote in favour of abolition by saying that he had helped to redeem the Army from pawn in such a sense that Purchase could not come back again, and that the way was clear for a comprehensive scheme of Army reform. Since the passing of the measure for the Abolition of Purchase he had been somewhat disappointed; because, instead of the Army having been welded into an harmonious whole, as they had been promised it should be, nothing had been done beyond the establishment of a certain fanciful connection between the Preserves and the Regular Forces. The re-organization of the Army was not a question to be determined according to Party politics, and he should have been equally ready to accept any good scheme of Army reform from right hon. Gentlemen opposite as from those who sat before him. He regretted, however, to find that the first important step that the right hon. Gentleman had taken in the matter was to return to the purchase system which the country had paid £8,000,000 to get rid of. If this measure became law, it would prove a complete bar to all future Army reform, and he regretted extremely that it had been introduced, and it would tend to resuscitate in the Army ideas that could never be realized. He was sure that the vote of that House to-night in favour of this Bill would have to be undone by future legislation.


reminded hon. Members opposite as a proof that the system of exchanges would not conduce to the re-establishment of Purchase, that that system had been in force from time immemorial in the Artillery and the Engineers, in which the Purchase system had never been adopted. Being desirous of obtaining information from practical men on this subject he had put certain questions to the manager of Messrs. Cox and Company, who had been in their establishment upwards of 50 years, and who was in constant communication with officers of all ranks. The statement of that gentleman was to the effect that he saw no possible way in which exchanges could re-introduce the Purchase system'—the two subjects being quite distinct; that he regarded the question of exchanges as essentially one affecting the poorer class of officers; there being always four or five times as many men anxious to exchange as there were men who wished to offer a money equivalent; that under the old system the poorer officers were always anxious to exchange in order to enable them to obtain the funds for supporting and educating their families, that many restrictions used to be put upon exchanges on the part of the military authorities; and that in no case had he known a man who had exchanged into a home regiment who had been permitted to exchange again when that regiment was ordered abroad. He had 1,200 accounts under his charge, and, in his opinion, the whole Army was dissatisfied with the present condition of affairs as regarded exchanges, and looked forward with satisfaction to the passing of this Bill. If this Bill were to be rejected the military authorities had better at once prohibit all officers below the rank of Field Officers from marrying. He (Sir Charles Russell) would remind the House that when an officer wished to exchange he had to go first of all to his colonel, and, if he gave good reasons enough to satisfy him, he then had to apply to the Commander-in-Chief. Now did the hon. Members opposite mean to say that the Commander-in-Chief could not be entrusted to say who ought to exchange and who ought not; because, if so, how was it that they entrusted him to say who was fit for promotion, which was a much more important matter than exchanges? A good deal had been said as to the convenience of officers being the sole matter considered, and it had been asserted that when once a pecuniary consideration had passed, almost exclusive regard was paid to the wishes of the officers concerned. Well, on that subject he might be allowed to say that he had once exchanged. He was under orders for foreign service, but being ill at the time he applied to the authorities for leave to exchange, and did exchange with an officer junior to himself in the regiment. Before he sailed news reached England of our difficulties with Madagascar, and the draft of the regiment was ordered to be augmented. He was, as he had said, very ill at the time and obliged to keep his bed; but, notwithstanding that fact, he could not touch the hearts of the authorities. The service, and not the convenience of officers was the one thing to be considered, and he actually sailed in the same ship, with the officer with whom he had exchanged. He had the curiosity to examine some Returns on this subject which took place from 1866 to 1873, and found that during all that time only one exchange took place in every year. If there was any desire on the part of certain officers to take advantage of their wealth or position, the vigilance of the authorities was sufficient to check and control any such desire if it existed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) stated the other day that officers were degraded by such exchanges. He, for one, did not feel at all degraded by the fact that his father had paid £100 to an officer who was willing to exchange with him. The right hon. Gentleman asked what would be thought of a Judge who wished to exchange from the Court of Queen's Bench to the Court of Common Pleas—but as the Judges complained of the heated atmosphere and want of ventilation of those Courts the exchange would merely be from one bad smell to another. He would mention a more apposite ex- change. Suppose a County Court Judge in Northumberland, with a sickly wife, desired on account of her health to exchange to Devonshire, and paid a sum of money on account of the difference in value of house property, but did so with the sanction of the Lord Chancellor, could such an exchange be objected to, or would the Judge be degraded on account of it? Would a clergyman be degraded who exchanged from a country parish to a wider sphere of usefulness in London, or from London to the country on account of the state of his health. He could not think so, and how, he asked, was an officer of the Army degraded when, for sufficient reason, and with the sanction of the authorities, he exchanged? Did the House really believe, said an officer to him in a letter the other day, that Lord Penzance, Lord Justice James, and Mr. Hunt would have reported in favour of the system if they had not thought it necessary? The opposition to it was a party one, and was calculated to shake the confidence of the Army in those on both sides of the House who had to administer the affairs of the nation. He rejoiced that this Bill would pass into law, because it was a fulfilment of promises which the Conservative Party made so freely at the General Election, promises which were fully and practically endorsed by the country—namely, that no profession should any longer be needlessly harassed.


said, he was not astonished that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Westminster (Sir Charles Russell) should have introduced the high authority in favour of the Bill of the principal clerk of Messrs. Cox, the Army agents, because they might depend upon it that when the Bill passed into law, Messrs. Cox and Co. would be the most influential authorities on the subject of the British Army. The Secretary of State himself and the Commander-in-Chief would have to bow their heads in deference to the accomplished clerk of Messrs. Cox, the Army agents; and those 1,200 accounts which his hon. and gallant Friend had paraded before the House would no doubt be largely increased by the exchanges to be negotiated by them under that Bill. He would not have taken part in the debate were it not that he had had some practical experience of the operation of ex- changes upon regiments in Her Majesty's Service. It had happened to him, in his professional capacity, some years ago to be concerned in an inquiry into the condition of one of the most famous and celebrated regiments in the service of the Queen, which was placed in the unfortunate position of being called back from India very shortly after it had been sent there, in order that it might be tried, he might almost say, at the bar of public opinion rather than by general court-martial, which was the instrument of that inquiry, by the order of the Commander-in-Chief; and he had no hesitation in saying that the unhappy condition of that regiment was produced principally by the operation of exchanges. He would state, not a theoretical case, but the practical result of the system of exchanges at a recent period, authorized by military authorities both of England and India. The regiment in question was ordered to India at the height of the Indian Mutiny. Shortly before it left its colonels retired, not by exchange, but on half-pay. Within three years of the time the regiment went to India, it had three separate colonels; and it lost its major, five captains, two lieutenants, its doctor, and its paymaster, through the system of exchanges. What was the result of these exchanges sanctioned by the military authorities? At a period when the regiment required the moral support of its officers more than at any other time, it was left to itself by the mass of them, and they were replaced by strangers to the regiment. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were great admirers of the regimental esprit de corps. If selection were introduced it was considered a bad thing, because it destroyed the esprit de corps; but if it were destroyed by money, that was all right. What an outcry there would have been if a famous regiment had lost its colonel and its officers by the principle of selection; but when the same effect was produced by pecuniary considerations, under the sanction of the military authorities, it was all right, and was an admirable system. What happened with regard to the regiment in question? The officers quarrelled with each other, and some of them caballed with the non-commissioned officers. ["No, no!"] At all events, that was the sentence of the Commander-in-Chief, who removed them from the regiment. The colonel, who was brought home to be tried, and who had exchanged into the regiment, was acquitted, but the other officers, who had also exchanged, were removed from the regiment, and that was the result of a system which by this Bill the Government were wishing to encourage and promote. Memorandum after Memorandum was launched at that regiment after it went to India—a regiment which up to that time had never had an aspersion cast upon it by the military authorities. That was his answer to the hon. and gallant Gentleman when he said how could they suppose that mischiefs would happen under the control of the military authorities. He gave that as a practical answer to the challenge put forth by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. It was very remarkable that these circumstances occurred immediately after His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief had given evidence before the Duke of Somerset's Commission, in 1857, when His Royal Highness said it was entirely in the power of the military authorities to control exchanges, and they would be so controlled. It was proved, however, that the military authorities were unable to control these exchanges as soon as pecuniary considerations were introduced into the matter. The recollection of that case would cause him to vote against the Bill. The great and only argument really adduced in favour of the Bill was the recommendation of the Commissioners. Now, he had a great respect for the eminent men who formed that Commission; but when it was alleged that their Report ought to be conclusive, he must adopt a legal phrase and say that there never was a finding more out of the Order of Reference. The question they had to consider was what compensation should be made for the abolition of Purchase; and if they had recommended that Purchase should be restored, they would not more have exceeded their authority than by recommending the sanction of exchanges. Their Report brought a considerable amount of pressure to bear upon the Secretary of State for War; but the House must examine this matter for itself. He looked for the case in favour of the Bill in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy). He made a distinction between exchanges and sale. But barter where money passed was just as much a sale as in any other case. But then they were asked to pass this Bill for the sake of the asthmatic officers. He hoped that asthma did not prevail so extensively in the British Army that it was necessary to have a Bill for the sake of the asthmatic officers. Then there was the great tailors'-bill argument. That was of more extended application. This was a Bill, according to the right hon. Member, to take young gentlemen who had lived a little too fast out of pawn and make them available for the service of the country. It seemed to him that this was a better argument for post-obits than for exchanges; and for himself he was unwilling to see Her Majesty's Army turned into a court for the recovery of small debts for even the most respectable tradesman. But that was not the real object of the Bill. The real object was described by the hon. and gallant Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), who said he must protest against the attempt to run down fancy officers. The hon. and gallant Member said— It was expedient that country gentlemen having county influence, and others having independent fortunes, should be encouraged to enter the Army for a short time for the sake of benefiting themselves by its discipline. It was not that the Empire should be defended, but that country gentleman should be benefited by discipline.


explained that what he had said was that the country gentlemen would be benefited by discipline, with the object of taking the command of regiments of Militia and Volunteers.


said, he had these words on his notes, and was coming to them if the hon. and gallant Member had not interrupted him. His object was, not that the country gentlemen should go and serve their Queen and country in any part of the world, but that they should become good officers for the Militia and Volunteers. That reminded him of the famous jest made by William Pitt in 1803 on the passing of the Militia Bill of 1803—that certain corps seemed likely to act up to the tradition that they were "never to leave the country except in case of actual invasion." That was why it was to be reserved for country gentlemen to benefit by Army discipline. There was the true old Tory ring about that candid statement of the object of the Bill. We had only lately emerged from the time when the theory pervaded the public service that every Department was kept up for the purpose of benefiting country gentlemen of great county influence. The Tory Party had received an education which had much improved it, and under a wiser system we had abolished privileges of this kind in every other part of our public service and social life, and it was in the Army alone that they were proposed to be restored. They once said that if Purchase was abolished no English gentleman would ever enter the Army. ["Oh!"] Well, at all events, it was said it would discourage them from entering the Army, but it had not done so; and it showed that the estimate of the spirit of English gentlemen on his side the House was much greater than that of the present Government. That was the true history of the Bill. The hon. and gallant Member for Christ-church (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) had let the cat out of the bag, and that was why the Bill was so enthusiastically supported on the other side of the House. The hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir Charles Russell) said, that the Bill was demanded by the Army. He dared to say it was. The House had heard that it was convenient to every branch of officers, and no doubt every profession liked to have its business conducted in accordance with its own convenience. On the part of the legal profession, he protested against the sales and exchanges so kindly recommended by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. Indeed, these things could not be defended by gentlemen of high character and feeling, unless their opinions had been warped by the long-established system of money Purchase. The old borough mangers were not worse than others; they could not understand what possible objection there was to selling a seat in this House; in like manner the old sinecurists could not understand why a man should not have £5,000 a-year for doing nothing; and it was not until some time after these things had been abolished that everybody came to understand how bad they were. The most remarkable feature of the debate was that nearly all the Gentlemen who supported the Bill were in favour of the Purchase system, and the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford-shire (Colonel North) said he hoped to see it restored. The Secretary of State for War did not say so; he said he did not wish to restore Purchase; he said he should be dishonest if he attempted to restore it; but after the arguments that had been used, especially after the weighty statement of the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Have-lock), the House and the country had a right to expect from the Secretary of State for War a more solid explanation of the manner by which we were to be assured that Purchase was not to be restored. The hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir Charles Russell) could not understand how it was possible to restore Purchase; but the possibility could easily be explained. Suppose there was a junior captain of a regiment in India, or of a regiment in England just about to go to India, and there was a regiment, a favourite regiment, which had just come home. The junior captain knew the probabilities were that, in a short time, exchanges would occur in that regiment, and that if he entered it, he would have a greater chance of rising in it than he would have of rising in a regiment differently circumstanced, and if he entered it by purchase it was purchased promotion. What was to prevent the same gentleman, without its being known, communicating with a friend in India, and by private negotiation purchasing another step? Indeed, he might go on purchasing stop after step; Mr. Cox would man-ago it for him admirably; and, under cover of this system of exchange, he might purchase his way to the top captaincy, exactly as if the system of Purchase still existed. What was to prevent a man who know the colonel of a particular regiment paying a large sum for-an exchange into it, on the chance of promotion. True, he would not be certain of it; but ceteribus paribus, as a good man, he would have the chance of the next step, and that would be purchasing promotion just as much as if Purchase existed. The power of exchange would give a money value to a commission when it was granted. A lady might ask for a commission for her son to enable him to pay his tailor's and other bills; and she might obtain a commission in an expensive regiment, which might be exchanged for money immediately. That would be giving money just as much as if it were given in cash. Nothing would prevent these things, for nothing would be known about them; and the right hon. Gentleman said he did not know anything about them. One good man would exchange with another, and whether £1,000 or £2,000 had passed nobody would know. He took it for granted that the officers of the Guards who gave evidence before the Commission represented the opinions of the Guards. If they did not, it was odd that those who entertained opposite opinions did not give evidence; and every one of the witnesses claimed a vested right in sale and exchange, not subject to military circumstances at all. Their language was express on the subject; they said they had a right to recoup themselves by exchange, and that exchange was the certain resource of the officer in the Guards or Cavalry in time of need. What became of military discretion when this claim was made? This Bill was to give this right of exchange, and to attach a value of £2,000 or £3,000 to a commission. It was not denied that exchanges ought to be permitted; but the question was, why they should be made for money? Was money necessary? That was the real question. It was not alleged that any exchanges which were desirable on military grounds had been prevented by the present system. The system of one officer paying another officer's cost of transit was a bad one; he would rather see the cost borne by the country. The Secretary for War gave three instances when exchanges ought to take place; first, when an officer found himself in a regiment he did not like; secondly, when an officer wished to serve in a regiment in which his father had served before him; and, thirdly, when an officer wished to go to a regiment where he had friends, or which represented his nationality. But all that they did for the private soldier, without any money passing, and could they not do it for officers in the same way? If the passage of money was unnecessary, did it not do harm? Did the "fancy officer" do no harm to the British Army? The Report of the Duke of Somerset's Commission, to which the first three names attached were those of Somerset, Stanley (Lord Derby), and Sidney Herbert, said— The system attracts to the service idle young men who, having money at their disposal, regard the Army as a fashionable pastime for a few years of leisure, and bring with them habits of excess and dissipation injurious to discipline and embarrassing to their fellow-officers, who are often forced to leave the regiment where such extravagant modes of living prevail. That was their opinion of the "fancy officer." He made it difficult for the poor man to remain in a regiment; and this was the poor man's argument against exchange. As the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock) said, the system of exchange furnished a return flow-pipe, for poor men who made room for rich men. When the "Battle of Dorking" came, he should be sorry to think the British Army was divided into two classes. In the old days there were regiments called the "Die Hards;" he should be sorry to think there would be regiments called the "Living Invalids." He should be sorry to think that when that battle came to be fought, the security of great Britain depended mainly on soldiers who had not studied the science of their profession in the best schools—that of foreign service, whether in India or elsewhere. An hon. and gallant gentleman (Captain Nolan) said, that the English Army was in a different position from that of any other country. Now, there was another Army—which was on our Indian frontier, or near it—which served in climes quite as trying, and in places quite as inhospitable, and under skies quite as severe as our own—he meant the Russian Army on the shores of the Caspian. It was, however, only the English Army that asked for that which the Russian Army would feel ashamed of if it were a part of their system—exchanges for money value. Such exchanges, he might add, were never permitted in our old Indian Army, and General Vivian, an old Indian officer, in gividence before the Commission, stated that on account of the superiority of some stations in that country to others, to have allowed them would have created great heart-burnings in the Army. Why, then, was it sought to make exchanges universal in the English Army on the same ground? Again, let him ask what sort of officers we got abroad by the system of exchanges? He knew there was a theory, which was to some extent a favourite one with many hon. Members in that House, that the sort of young gentleman who wanted to pay his tailor's bill was the best man that could be procured for the Army; but Sir Colin Campbell, the late Lord Clyde, when asked what sort of men exchange gave, and whether he thought frequent exchanges would produce a bad effect, said that, in his opinion, they did injury to the service, though they might be a benefit to the individual. Those men who went out to India merely in order to get increase of pay he did not regard as the best sort of officers. Such was the opinion of one who was himself a distinguished soldier; and, indeed, of purchased substitutes every army in the world had shown itself anxious to get rid. He had the good fortune to have heard a great speech which had been some time ago made by General Trochu on the organization of the French Army, and a great part of it was taken up with a statement of the injury which was done to the Army by the system of purchased substitutes. Anyone who read the Report of the Commission could not fail to be struck, he might add, by the evidence of Colonel Bray as to the way in which poor officers were obliged to "watch the market." He confessed that that sort of huckstering tone reminded him of a passage with which hon. Members were familiar in Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo, going to the unfortunate Apothecary, said— Art thou so bare, and full of wretchedness, And fear'st to die? Then the Apothecary replied— My poverty, but not my will, consents. Romeo. "I pay thy poverty, and not thy will. And then, being a fine gentleman, he bade him a courteous farewell. Now, that was, he confessed, a sort of language and spirit which he should be sorry to see introduced into the British Army. For his own part, he strongly objected to it. Nee cauponantes bellum, seel belligerantes. The House had heard a great deal of the ad captandum argument of the poor man, and poor men, no doubt, very often found it very desirable to get money by going out to India; but there was a poor man whom the Bill did not help, but whom it would destroy. He referred to the poor man in India who wanted to get home. Now, if once the proposed system of exchanges were established, no officer unless he was rich could come back from India, so that the very man who was most entitled to consideration would be absolutely excluded from the advantages which it was proposed to confer. That was his answer to the poor man's argument. Beyond that the Bill would, he contended, interfere with the disponibilité of the British officer; although, of course, he would have no absolute right to refuse to go wherever he might be ordered. But he wished the House to take a larger view of the question than the mere convenience of a few individuals. He should like to ask what would be the probable effect of the proposed system on the great mass of private soldiers in the Army? ["Oh, oh!"] That was surely a question which they would not be ashamed to discuss, for it affected the most important branch of the Army. The private soldiers of our Army were, he was thankful to say, not what they were. [Laughter.] He did not know why hon. Members laughed. There was no class which had more improved in recent years in character and intelligence, and it was for that reason he asked what they were likely to think of the measure before the House? They were men who did not take for granted as they did 40 or 50 years ago that persons of rank and wealth and station should be placed in exceptional positions. They reflected on such things, and the House was bound therefore to consider the effect of a measure like the present upon their minds. It was said, indeed, that exchanges were never effected in the presence of battle or war; but was heroism confined, he would ask, to facing the bullets or the sword? Was there not as much fortitude and courage required to face the swamp and the hospital? ["No, no!"] The hon. Gentleman who cried "No, no" must be one of those soldiers described by the hon. and gallant Member for Christ-church; but did they not think that want of fortitude of the two descriptions he had mentioned exercised also a depressing, discouraging, and a demoralizing influence on the discipline of the Army? When the men went to battle with their lives in their hands day after day, what would they think of their officers dropping away one by one under the institution of this exchange system? Well, he knew of a regiment in which three colonels, one major, and five captains left it in three years, and what would the men think if such a system as that was practised under the encouragement of a Parliamentary measure like this, which enabled officers to return to their pleasant homos while they, the men, were left in the jungle and the desert to die? Such a system would be void of that which they had heard described as esprit de corps in the Army. These were considerations which, if they did not recommend themselves to hon. Gentlemen opposite, he at all events regarded as worthy of the serious attention of the House. The men to whom he referred left their regiments, not because they were disabled or invalided, but because, in the language of the Commission, they were "more blessed with this world's goods than the men whom they replaced." ["Divide!"] If hon. Gentlemen opposite thought they would stifle discussion, they were mistaken. But if the men had an unfavourable opinion of the officers who left them, what would they think of the officers who came to them—officers who came to them, not because they specially preferred the service, but because they were paid for it; officers who came to them, not for love, but for money? And if that was the effect upon the regiments abroad, what would be the effect upon the regiments at home? Of the new officer all the regiment would know was that he was a man who had paid a sum of money to come to them in order to avoid hardships elsewhere which he did not like to endure. [Murmurs.] Well, was that true or not? ["No, no!"] Was it true that an officer paid money in order to exchange a disagreeable life for an easy one? And if these were facts, they might depend upon it the private soldier would know them. But what would a regiment say of the man who left them? They would say—" He was a man whom we knew and liked, and whom we would have followed anywhere; but he has been bought away from us." And thus, by the double operation of the system, two regiments were demoralized. These were the reasons why hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House opposed this Bill, probably—perhaps certainly—in vain. The Ministry had, no doubt, a majority; but no hon. Gentleman ought to know better than those who sat opposite that majorities were ephemeral. On his side of the House they thought they had settled the ques- tion two or three years ago. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side had, however, the power to disturb the settlement, and also, he was sorry to say, the will to disturb it. If they did, the Opposition must submit to it; but submission was not acquiescence; and they would not cease to protest against a system which they were convinced was injurious to the military spirit of the British Army. They knew—and there were sagacious men on the Conservative benches who knew—that the tide of public opinion on this subject was already on the turn in their favour. And they would appeal to the enlightened judgment and the deliberate conviction of the nation upon a course which they believed to be injurious to it. They had been accused of dealing with this as a Party question. The hon. and gallant Member for "Westminster (Sir Charles Russell) had said this Bill was in redemption of the pledges of the Conservative Party at the hustings, and that looked like treating it as a Party question. The hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (General Shute) had said that it was one of the main causes which gained the Conservative Party a majority at the last Election. That surely looked like making the Army the subject of a Party question on the Conservative side of the House. If by saying that the Opposition had treated this as a Party question hon. Gentlemen opposite meant that they had used it in order to embarrass the Government or harass the Army, they made an accusation against them which was unjust. When they dealt with the question, he did not recollect that they ever directed against their opponents such imputations. They thought the Conservatives were mistaken; but they never ventured to say they were unpatriotic. In one sense, indeed, this was a Party question. The differences of parties were in some respects strongly marked, and they depended on the antagonism of great principles. If that were not so, Parliamentary contests would be a mere ignoble scramble for place. There was a distinction of Party in matters of principle, and the Bill raised it in its strongest and most decisive form. The Conservatives were the party who, historically, had been defenders of exclusive privileges, the upholders of traditional monopolies. The principles which the Liberal Party upheld were opposed to all those things. Century by century, and year by year, the Liberal Party had fought these questions, and, thank God, they had fought them successfully. They had struggled against exclusive privileges and traditional monopolies, and especially against the most ignoble of all privileges, the most unjust of all monopolies—those which were purchased by money. They had sought equality—not the social equality which Revolutionists dreamt of, but equality before the law, the equality of all classes and ranks in the service of the nation and of the Crown. It was because this Bill militated against those principles that he and his hon. Friends were irreconcilably opposed to it. It was because it tended to establish a monopoly and the privileges of wealth that they would vote against it. They opposed the Bill, not because they respected the Army less than did the Conservatives, but because they thought their own view of that which was conducive to its interest and its honour was higher and better than theirs. They resisted this measure because they were sincerely convinced that it was unsound in its principles, and that in its results it would be injurious to that noble profession upon which, in no small degree, depended the reputation of the English name and the fortunes of the English Empire.


This question has been discussed for two nights—too much, I think—in the light of whether Purchase or non-Purchase is the better system, and whether the Bill has a tendency to return to the arrangements which were abolished two or three years ago. I would rather consider the Bill in this light—Is it a measure which tends to increase the efficiency of the British Army? Now, Sir, I think that before we can come to a right conclusion on that head, we must place before us the changed position of the British officer which since that measure to the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) has just referred, was passed. The British officer, before the measure for the abolition of Purchase was passed, was in this situation—that he had, as it were, a mortgage on his commission. In case he was called upon for any particular service, which, for various reasons, he might not wish to pursue or accomplish, he had to recollect that, if he asserted his independence and followed his own will, he might incur, and indeed would of necessity incur, great pecuniary loss. But what is the position of the British officer now? It is one of complete independence, and I myself do not lament it; because, notwithstanding the numerous imputations and allusions made by hon. Gentlemen opposite to the opinions of this Bench, I never opposed the Abolition of Purchase. Well, the British officer, if he is ordered to service which he does not approve—if he finds military arrangements made which do not suit his convenience, or which may seriously injure interests which are most dear to him—he can at once throw up his commission, and follow the bent of his mind. The necessary consequence is, that it is your duty and your interest in every way to study the convenience of the British officer, and I have been surprised to hear this point alluded to in sneering tones by some hon. Members opposite. It is the interest of this country that we should, in every possible way, do all we can to induce him to retain his position in the service. Well, that being the ease, you have to consider your system of exchanges. It is only by the system of exchanges that you can effect this result. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed us has made a very able and elaborate speech—an admirable answer to the discussions of a few days back—and a complete attack upon the whole system of exchanges. But that is not the question before the House. It is not the question I am intending to enter into. It is not a question on which two-thirds of the hon. Gentlemen opposite can sympathize with the hon. and learned Member for Oxford. I conclude there is a very general opinion in the House at present that the system of exchanges must be maintained; that it must be encouraged and stimulated; and that upon a judicious system of exchanges the well-officering of our Army, and the consequent comfort and condition of our troops, mainly depends. How are you to obtain a system of exchanges of such a character, and which shall be enlarged in its application so as to accommodate itself to what probably will be an increased number of applicants? It is impossible for you to lay it down as a mere abstract rule that if two persons want to exchange, an arrangement can be made by a mere ex- ercise of the will. The exchange depends upon arriving at some equality in the condition of the persons exchanging. It is impossible that you can find two persons—as was so well put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Sir Seymour Fitzgerald) in his very able speech—whoso conditions are identical when the exchange is to be effected. There will be difference of age, of health, of domestic circumstances, and of taste; all of which must be considered before you can bring about an arrangement. Some element must be introduced which will make approximation possible; and in what way can this be done except by a money test—a principle which is already sanctioned in our legislation on this question. Are you going to say to the officers exchanging—"You shall give so much money and you shall not give more?" Either the money payment must be approved, or the contrary course must be taken; and to say that money may be paid, but only within certain limits, appears to me to be attempting arrangements which are not proper subjects for legislation. I think the House will agree with me that it is unnecessary to enter into any vindication of our system of exchanges, and, that being so, what are the objections to this Bill? I have heard from the hon. and learned Member for Oxford, and from several other hon. Members, very elaborate descriptions of the circumstances which they have hold up to public reprobation; but there are none of the consequences to which those hon. Gentlemen refer which could not be accomplished under the present law. Therefore, the question which the House has to decide is, whether this measure which certainly will assist and stimulate exchanges—every hon. Gentleman opposite is agreed upon that, and imputes it as a fault to the Bill—is a wise and politic proposal. I cannot say that I have heard any arguments in opposition to the Bill throughout this discussion. I have heard a great deal of abstract reasoning; but I have heard no practical argument upon the subject. It is said that the measure will produce a vested interest of which we cannot rid ourselves. I maintain, on the other hand, that it cannot produce a vested interest, because it does not acknowledge the existence of any pecuniary element. We know nothing of any sum of money pass- ing. When Purchase existed you did recognize a money payment to a certain extent, and there was the nucleus of a vested interest, and a foundation upon which you could build a vested interest. But in the proposition now brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War there is no foundation upon which a vested interest can be made. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford made it a charge against this measure that it would lead to a recurrence to the system of Purchase. What satisfactory reason has been advanced to prove that assertion? I know from experience that the system of exchanges has long existed and been largely practised in corps and regiments in which Purchase has had no existence. Therefore, I cannot see that the grave assumption, which has been the father of most of the arguments and objections to this Bill, has any foundation whatever. As for the rich-and-poor argument, it is no argument at all, but simply a loose assertion which must be left to the decision and experience of hon. Members on both sides of the House. My experience of such matters may be limited; but it does not at all justify the assumption of hon. Members opposite that this is a measure which must in its action reduce the officers of the British Army into two corps of rich and poor. The arguments brought against the measure have been mere assumptions. There has been no appeal to experience—no evidence founded on facts. The question has been argued throughout upon abstract assumptions; and therefore I cannot at all bow to the weight of the objections that have been made to the Bill great objections have been taken, much declamation has been used, and very powerful appeals have been made which have either amused or alarmed us. What has been the subject of these appeals? They were invectives against the system of exchanges itself, which is acknowledged by all to be a material part of our military system. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Oxford mentioned the case of a foreign Army in connection with a remark which had been made as to the peculiar character of the English Army. The hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned a foreign Army as not being inferior in its character and in the difficulties and hardships which it had to experience to the British troops. I am far from denying that the Russian troops deserve the eulogy which the hon. and learned Gentleman bestowed upon them; but there is no similarity between the position of the Russian Army and the English Army. That of the English is most peculiar; there is none like it in the world. If you take the variety of climates and countries—the great distances which our troops have to explore—the various parts of the world, different in all the conditions upon which health and life exist, they have to work; if you remember that in Asia, Africa, and America, and in every part of the globe, the British Army has its duty to perform, and often a great deal to accomplish; if you recall to your recollection that it is only a detached portion of the Russian Army which is confined to the severe and inhospitable climate of the Caucasus—where they have no doubt great difficulties to encounter, and where they exercise and show some of those qualities which elevate human nature—I say that, recollecting all these things, to compare the Russian Army with the British as to variety of duty is one of those flourishes of rhetoric of which the hon. and learned Member for Oxford has such a store. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have defended themselves in the course of the debate from the imputation of Party motives; but I am not aware that any such motives were ever imputed to them. They have availed themselves of the opportunity for debate, and have given to the discussion an air of importance which the magnitude of the question involved neither necessitated nor justified. I am afraid this resenting of imputations which were never made must arise from the pricking of their own consciences in the case of hon. Members opposite. On the whole, however, I think the discussion has been a not unprofitable one, and that it has filled the House and brought hon. Members to the fulfilment of important duties which would perhaps have been neglected if a subject of this character had not arisen. But I cannot agree that because hon. Gentlemen opposite have seized an opportunity which, if they are successful, will materially diminish the convenience which we wish to secure for the officers of the British Army, and damage the position of the Army generally, they are in taking such a course vindicating the principle of civil liberty or following the great tradition of which, they are so proud. The measure is not a great one. I wish it were greater than it is; but I believe that, at any rate, it is sound and safe. No protracted discussions can change the character of the measure. It is completely understood by the House and the country, which is represented by hon. Members of this House who are about to vote on the Bill. You recognize the system of exchanges as part of your military machinery, and we have brought forward a measure which adapts your system of exchanges—that important part of your military machinery—to the changed circumstances of your Army. That is the whole question, and, convinced that it is the whole question—convinced that the House believes that it is the whole question—I am not frightened by all these bursts of artificial eloquence. I am not daunted by the pretence that a great Constitutional Party has suddenly unfurled the glorious flag of civil liberty; and I call upon the House to give its verdict now, and distinctly, upon this question—will you support, for the sake of the nation, the interests of the Army?

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 282; Noes 186: Majority 96.

Adderley, rt. hon. Sir C. Bright, E.
Agnew, R. V. Broadley, W. H. H.
Allen, Major Bruce, hon. T.
Allsopp, C. Buckley, Sir E.
Archdale, W. H. Bulwer, J. R.
Arkwright, A. P. Burrell, Sir P.
Arkwright, F. Buxton, Sir R. J.
Arkwright, R. Callender, W. R.
Ashbury, J. L. Cameron, D.
Assheton, R. Campbell, C.
Astley, Sir. J. D. Cartwright, F.
Baggallay, Sir. R. Cave, rt. hon. S.
Bagge, Sir W. Cawley, C. E.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.
Balfour, A. T. Chaine, J.
Barrington, Viscount Chaplin, Colonel E.
Bates, E. Chaplin, H.
Bathurst, A. A. Chapman, J.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Charley, W. T.
Beach, W. W. B. Christie, W. L.
Benett-Stanford, V. F. Churchill, Lord R.
Bentinck, G. C. Clifton, T. H.
Beresford, Lord C. Clive, hon. Col. G. W.
Beresford, Colonel M. Close, M. C.
Birley, H. Clowes, S. W.
Boord, T. W. Cobbett, J. M.
Bourke, hon. R. Cobbold, J. P.
Bourne, Colonel Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B.
Coope, O. E. Hervey, Lord F.
Corbett, Colonel Hick, J.
Cordes, T. Hodgson, W. N
Corry, hon. H. W. L. Hogg, Sir J. M.
Corry, J. P. Holford, J. P. G.
Cotton, Alderman Holker, Sir J.
Cross, rt. hon. R. A. Holland, Sir H. T.
Cubitt, G. Holmesdale, Viscount
Cuninghain, Sir W Holt, J. M.
Cust, H. C. Home, Captain
Dalkeith, Earl of Hood, Captain hon. A. W. A. N.
Dalrymple, C.
Davenport, W. B. Hope, A. J. B. B.
Deakin, J. H. Hubbard, J. G.
Denison, C. B. Hunt, rt. hon. G. W.
Denison, W. E. Jenkinson, Sir G. S.
Dickson, Major A. G. Johnson, J. G.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Johnstone, H.
Dyott, Colonel R. Johnstone, Sir F.
Eaton, H. W. Jolliffe, hon. S.
Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W. Jones, J.
Kavanagh, A. Mac M.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Egerton, hon. W. Knight, F. W.
Elcho, Lord Knightley, Sir R.
Elliot, Sir G. Knowles, T.
Elliot, G. Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H. Learmonth, A.
Emlyn, Viscount Lee, Major V.
Eslington, Lord Legard, Sir C.
Estcourt, G. B. Legh, W. J.
Ewing, A. O. Leigh, Lt.-Col. E.
Fellowes, E. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Fielden, J. Leslie, J.
Finch, G. H. Lewis, C. E.
FitzGerald, rt. hn. Sir S. Lewis, O.
Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W. Lloyd, S.
Lloyd, T. E.
Folkestone, Viscount Lopes, H. C.
Forsyth, W. Lopes, Sir M.
Fraser, Sir W. A. Lorne, Marquess of
Ereshfield, C. K. Lowther, hon. W.
Galway, Viscount Lowther, J.
Gardner, J. T. Agg- Macartney, J. W. E.
Gardner, E. Richardson Maclver, D.
Mahon, Viscount
Garnier, J. C. Majendie, L. A.
Gibson, E. Makins, Colonel
Goddard, A. L. Malcolm, J. W.
Goldney, G. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Gooch, Sir D. March, Earl of
Gordon, rt. hon. E. S. Starten, A. G.
Gordon, W. Mcrewether, C. G.
Gore, W. R. O. Mills, A.
Gorst, J. E. Mills, Sir C. H.
Grantham, W. Monckton, F.
Grecnall, G. Monekton, hon. G.
Greene, E. Montgomorie, R.
Gregory, G. B. Montgomery, Sir G. G.
Hall, A. W. Morgan, hon. F.
Halsey, T. E. Morgan, hon. Major
Hamilton, I. T. Mowbray, rt. hn. J. R.
Hamilton, Lord G. Muncaster, Lord
Hamilton, Marquess of Naghtcn, A. R.
Hamilton, hon. R. B. Novill, C. W.
Hamond, C. F. Noville-Grenville, R.
Hanbury, R. W. Nowdegate, C. N.
Hardcastle, E. Newport, Viscount
Hardy, rt. hon. G. Nolan, Captain
Hardy, J. S. North, Colonel
Harvey, Sir R. B. Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Hay, rt. hon. Sir J. C. D.
Heath, R. O'Clery, K.
O'Gorman, P. Smith, W. H.
O'Neill, hon. E. Smollett, P. B.
Onslow, D. Somerset, Lord H. R. C.
Paget, R. H. Stanhope, hon. E.
Palk, Sir L. Stanhope, W. T. W. S.
Parker, Lt.-Col. W. Stanley, hon. E.
Peek, Sir H. W. Starkey, L. R.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Steere, L.
Pell, A. Stewart, M. J.
Pelly, Sir H. C. Storer, G.
Pemberton, E. L. Sturt, H. G.
Peploe, Major Sykes, C.
Percy, Earl Talbot, J. G.
Phipps, P. Tennant, R.
Prunket, hon. D. R. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Plunkett, hon. R. Tollemache, W. F.
Polhill-Turner, Capt. Torr, J.
Powell, W. Tremayne, J.
Price, Captain Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-
Puleston, J. H. Turner, C.
Raikes, H. C. Turnor, E.
Read, C. S. Vance, J.
Rendlesham, Lord Verner, E. W.
Repton, G. W. Wait, W. K.
Ridley, M. W. Walker, T. E.
Ripley, H. W. Wallace, Sir R.
Ritchie, C. T. Walpole, hon. F.
Rodwell, B. B. H. Walsh, hon. A.
Round, J. Waterhouse, S.
Russell, Sir C. Watney, J.
Ryder, G. R. Welby, W. E.
Salt, T. Wellosley, Captain
Sanderson, T. K. Wethered, T. O.
Sandon, Viscount Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G. Whitelaw, A.
Scott, M. D. Wilmot, Sir H.
Scourfield, J. H. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H J. Wyndham, hon. P.
Yarmouth, Earl of
Shirley, S. E. Yorke, hon. E.
Shute, General Yorke, J. R.
Sidebottom, T. H.
Simonds, W. B. TELLERS.
Smith, A. Dyke, W. H
Smith, S. G. Winn, R.
Acland, Sir T. D. Carington, hn. Col. W.
Amory, Sir J. H. Carter, R. M.
Anderson, G. Cartwright, W. C
Ashley, hon. E. M. Cave, T.
Backhouse, E. Cavendish, Lord F. C.
Balfour, Sir G. Chadwick, D.
Barclay, A. C. Chambers, Sir T.
Barclay, J. W. Childers, rt. hon. H.
Bass, A. Cholmeley, Sir H.
Bazley, Sir T. Clarke, J. C.
Beaumont, Major F. Clifford, C. C.
Beaumont, W. B. Cole, H. T.
Biddulph, M. Collins, E.
Bolckow, H. W. F. Conyngham, Lord F.
Brassey, H. A. Corbett, J.
Brassey, T. Cotes, C. C.
Briggs", W. E. Cowan, J.
Broeidehurst, W. C. Cowen, J.
Brogden, A. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Brown, A. H. Crawford, J. S.
Browne, G. E. Cross, J. K.
Cameron, C. Crossley, J.
Camphell-Bannerman H. Dalway, M. R.
Davies, D.
Davies, R. M'Lagan, P.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Maitland, J.
Dillwyn, L. L. Marjoribanks, Sir D. C.
Dixon, G. Marling, S. S.
Dodds, J. Meldon, C. H.
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Mellor, T. W.
Dunbar, J. Monck, Sir A. E.
Dundas, J. C. Monk, C. J.
Earp, T. Morgan, G. O.
Edwards, H. Morley, S.
Egerton, Adm. hon. F. Mure, Colonel
Errington, G. Noel, E.
Esmonde, Sir J. Norwood, C. M.
Evans, T. W. O'Conor, D. M.
Eyton, P. E. O'Keeffe, J.
Fawcett, H. O'Reilly, M.
Ferguson, R. Palmer, C. M.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Pease, J. W.
Fletcher, I. Peel, A. W.
Fordyce, W. D. Pennington, F.
Forster, Sir C. Perkins, Sir F.
Forster, rt. hon. W. E. Philips, R. N.
Foster, W. H. Playfair, rt. hon. L.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Plimsoll, S.
Gladstone, W. H. Price, W. E.
Goldsmid, Sir F. Ramsay, J.
Goldsmid, J. Rashleigh, Sir C.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Rathbone, W.
Gourley, E. T. Reed, E. J.
Gower, hon. E. F. L. Richard, H.
Hankey, T. Richardson, T.
Harcourt, Sir W. V. Robortson, H.
Harrison, C. Rothsehild, N. M. de
Harrison, J. F. Russell, Lord A.
Hartington, Marq. of St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Havelock, Sir H Samuda, J. D'A.
Hayter, A. D. Samuelson, B.
Herbert, H. A. Shaw, R.
Hill, T. R. Sheil, E.
Holland, S. Sheridan, H. B.
Holms, J. Sherlock, Mr. Serjeant
Hopwood, C. H. Sherriff, A. C.
Howard, hn. C. W. G. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
Hughes, W. B. Smith, E.
Ingram, W. J. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Jackson, H. M. Stanton, A. J.
James, Sir H. Stevenson, J. C.
James, W. H. Stuart, Colonel
Jenkins, D. J. Swanston, A.
Johnstone, Sir H. Taylor, P. A.
Kay-Shuttleworth U. J. Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Trevelyan, G. O.
Laing, S. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Laverton, A. Vivian, A. P.
Law, rt. hon. H. Vivian, H. H.
Lawson, Sir W. Walter, J.
Leatham, E. A. Waterlow, Sir S. H.
Leeman, G. Watkin, Sir E. W.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Weguelin, T. M.
Leith, J. F. Whitbread, S.
Lloyd, M. Whitwell, J.
Locke, J. Whitworth, W.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Williams, W.
Lubbock, Sir J. Wilson, C.
Lush, Dr. Wilson, Sir M.
Lusk, Sir A. Yeaman, J.
Macdonald, A. Young, A. W.
Macgregor, D.
Mackintosh, C. F.
M'Arthur, W. TELLERS.
M'Combie, W. Adam, rt. hon. W. P.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Kensington, Lord

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

On Question, "That the Preamble be postponed?"


said, he presumed the Government would not go on with the Bill that night.


said, that as the Bill consisted practically of one clause, on which there had already been two discussions, he hoped the House would now allow it to be proceeded with in Committee.


observed, that there were several points which required further discussion, and he would therefore move that the Chairman report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 159; Noes 267: Majority 108.


said, that, considering that it was now the time—half-past 12—when all the public-houses were closed in London, he begged to move that the Chairman do leave the Chair.


said, he wished to meet the convenience of the House; but if the debate were to go on till the noble Lord and his Friends thought they had answered the arguments in support of the Bill it would last a long time.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


said, he would now consent that the Chairman should report Progress, and on Monday, after the Army Estimates, they would renew their friendly discussions on the Bill.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

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