HC Deb 16 March 1875 vol 222 cc1889-927

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 2 (Authorized exchanges exempted from Army Brokerage Acts).


, in rising to move, at the end of the Clause, to add— Provided, That the provisions of this Act shall not apply to any officer who has entered Her Majesty's service on any day subsequent to the 1st day of November, 1871, said: Sir, I have trespassed so largely and so recently on the kind indulgence of hon. Members that I feel bound to preface my remarks to-night by promising that they shall be brief; that they shall relate to a new and a special matter; and that in making those remarks I will not lose sight of the distinction which within these walls always is—or, at any rate, always should be—observed between a speech on the second reading of a Bill and a speech made when that Bill has passed into Committee. We are no longer concerned with the general controversy as to whether exchanges of commissions involving the payment of a sum of money representing the difference in the market value of those commissions should or should not be permitted in the British Army. That controversy is over and done with, and to recur to it would be to adopt a proceeding which hon. Gentlemen opposite might justly resent as vexatious. Our business at the present moment is not to protest against exchanges of this nature being permitted, but to define the limits within which their operation should be confined; and I hope to be able to show that the limit laid down in the Amendment which I have placed on the Paper in consonant with reason, distinctly indicated by the circumstances which have given rise to the introduction of this Bill, and strictly in accordance both with the claims of the public and with the private interests of the officers. In the course of the debates upon this Bill there have been many subjects on which opinions have differed; but there is one subject on which there has been no dispute whatever—one statement which Members of the Government have uniformly made with exultation, and which we have uniformly admitted with regret—the statement that this measure is based upon a recommendation contained in the Report of a Royal Commission, and, what is more, of a Royal Commission appointed by the late Ministry. The First Lord of the Admiralty, speaking on the second reading, represented me as having questioned the right of himself and his brother Commissioners to make that recommendation. I did not interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, as not wishing to exercise the invidious privilege of correcting a speaker in possession of the House; but, as a matter of fact, whatever my thoughts on the subject might be, I never disputed the right of himself and his Colleagues to recommend anything that bore in any degree—and the question of exchanges bears in a very high degree—upon the pecuniary grievances of officers. But what I did say then, and what now I emphatically repeat, was, that the Commissioners were appointed to inquire into pecuniary grievances, and into pecuniary grievances alone; and that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, responsible as he is to Parliament and the nation for the discipline and spirit of the Army, was not justified in sheltering himself behind the dictum of Commissioners who, in their capacity of Commissioners, are no more authorities on the question of Army government and administration than are the Commissioners of Lunacy or the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. But the right hon. Gentleman has chosen so to shelter himself, and the House of Commons by enormous and repeated majorities has approved his course. He has told us that he holds before him as a shield the Report of the Commission; and with regard to the officers who were already in our Army before 1871, that Report must now be acknowledged to have been a very efficient protection; but in dealing with the case of their juniors I will undertake to show, if the Committee will give meits attention for not very many minutes, that this redoubtable shield is one which the feeblest weapons of logic can pierce; or, to drop a metaphor which has already served too long a turn, I assert that, for the purpose of making an alteration in the existing system of exchanges with regard to officers who have been appointed since Purchase was abolished in November, 1871, the Report of the Commission affords no reason, excuse, or justification whatsoever. For under what circumstances was that Commission appointed, and for what end? A great multitude of officers had memoralized the Commander-in-Chief on the subject of the changes for the worse that had been effected in their position by the Royal Warrant of 1871. The Duke of Richmond brought these memorials to the notice of the House of Lords, and a debate ensued in which every speech, and every word of every speech, was directed exclusively to the discontent which existed among the officers who had memorialized the Horse Guards, everyone of whom had been in the Army previous to the time when Purchase was abolished. The Duke of Richmond moved an Address to the Crown, praying Her Majesty to issue a Royal Commission to inquire into the allegations of officers in Her Majesty's Army as to the grievances which they state that they suffer consequent on the abolition of Purchase, and this Address, in spite of the opposition of the late Government, was carried by a majority of nearly three to one. The answer to that Address was the appointment of the Commission presided over by Lord Penzance. The terms of Reference of the Commissioners are as explicit and as clearly defined as those of any Commissioners whoever were nominated. They are expressly charged to examine into and report on the complaints of officers who were in the Army before November, 1871, and of those officers alone. Among those complaints, one very frequently insisted on was, the loss of the privilege of exchanging for money. Officers were permitted to appear before the Commission who explained very clearly and in great, but not unnecessary detail, how they had paid large sums of money, under the express or implied sanction of the State, to purchase commissions, in the full expectation that they would be able to recoup themselves by effecting a profitable exchange. But the Royal Warrant of 1871 deprived them of that resource. One gentleman estimated his loss from this source at £2,500 on a single bargain, and another at £2,200, spread over his whole career. A third had actually bought an exchange for £750, "in full faith and confidence, "to use his own words," that I should receive the same again by an exchange to some regiment in India." Sir, these are hard cases; very hard cases indeed; and if, in order to meet these cases, the Commissioners had recommended that the privilege of exchanging for money should be restored to those officers who had entered the Army in the full belief that to the end of their term of service they would be allowed to exchange for whatever sum they could obtain, I should have said that, though they had overstepped the letter, they had not violated the spirit of their terms of Reference. But now we are asked to extend the effect of their recommendation to a fresh class of officers—to those young men who have entered the Army voluntarily, and with their eyes open, under the new set of conditions laid down by the Royal Warrant of 1871; one of which conditions is, that exchanges shall not henceforward be bought and sold at their market price—a class of officers about whose status, if there be any force and meaning in the English language, in which the terms of Reference are written, the Commissioners had no instructions to inquire, and no authority to pronounce. Sir, if the Committee does not accept this Amendment, we violate the terms of an express contract, under which the Crown engaged the services of all the young men who have entered the Army since November, 1871, and in so doing we commit an injustice to the nation, and a still greater injustice to the officers. It is an injustice to the nation, because we are allowing a number of its servants to settle among themselves the locality of their service by private arrangement, and, what is worse, by private bargain; because we are striking out one of the most important provisions from the ruling clause of the Royal Warrant—a clause which has cost the taxpayer hard upon £1,000,000 a line. And this in the case of men who have not, and do not profess to have, the shadow of a ground of complaint; who entered the Service with no more notion that they would, at any future time, be allowed to barter their commissions, than the officers in our Departments at Whitehall believe that at some future time they will be allowed to barter their clerkships. And if you extend the operation of this Bill to recently-appointed officers, you will give rise to an abuse which appears to me to be the most flagrant with which the discipline, and I will venture to say the honour, of the Service was ever threatened. Officers complained before the Commission that they were unable to sell "the intrinsic value of the prestige of commissions in the more privileged regiments;" and there was no reason why they should not so complain, for acting strictly according to the old rules of their profession they had purchased that prestige for large sums of money. An officer who has given £8,000 or £9,000 for a commission of major in the Guards, when he might have bought a majority in the Line for little more than half the money, suffers under a grievance which is great in my eyes, and enormous in his own, unless he is allowed at will to exchange that commission, and receive the £3,000 or £4,000 of difference. But we have changed all this. An officer now receives a commission in the brigade of Guards by favour, and not by purchase; and henceforward if a gentleman who, without expending a farthing, has been honoured with the privilege of guarding Her Majesty's person is to sell that privilege, not to pay his tailor's bill—for Beau Brummell himself would hardly in the course of 10 years run up a tailor's bill within one half of the amount—but in order to purchase the freehold of a house in Onslow Square, or to make a settlement on his wife, all I can say is, that Mr. Cox's head clerk himself would call such a transaction a scandal to the Army and an outrage on the Crown. If we do not take care what we are about we shall violate the terms under which all our younger officers have given us the benefit of their services, and shall violate them to their immense disadvantage. The great majority of these gentlemen have obtained their commissions by their own industry and ability; not by private interest, or by having money at their command. Many of them belong to the class which Sir Charles Napier described as providing the best officers in the world, the class of gentlemen who have their bread to earn. They joined our Army on the express understanding, that if their health would not allow them to support the influences of a tropical climate they should, on application to the military authorities, have their claims to exchange with an officer in a battalion at home fairly and equitably considered. But, if this Bill passes without the addition of the words that I have placed upon the Paper, the less wealthy among them will find all the exchanges bought up by their richer comrades; and they will have absolutely no choice but to ask for sick leave, and, when that sick leave is out, to retire on half-pay, because they cannot live in the climate to which their regiment is attached on account of their health; or, it may be, in consequence of the very wounds which they have received in defence of a nation whose Representatives have had so little regard for the terms of the agreements which they make with the officers whom they employ. And, again, what will be the effect upon the mind of these officers when they become the victims of a transaction similar to that described by the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock) in his admirable speech; where a major or a colonel in their own regiment, whose five years are nearly out, and for whose vacancy they were anxiously looking, is suddenly, in consequence of an exchange, transferred to another and luckier, because wealthier, regiment, and replaced by an officer who has still four of his five years to run, and who blocks the prospect of advancement which had once been so fair. Already these gentlemen are overweighted in the race of promotion. They find themselves passed at every step by officers who enter through the Militia, and who begin their Army career in a higher rank than themselves. But if you give to these officers from the Militia, who for the most part belong to a wealthy class, the additional facilities for rapid promotion which this Bill affords to men of means, you intensify into a gross injustice that which is at present a serious inequality. These gentlemen chose their profession under the belief that they would be encouraged to devote their entire attention to their studies, to their drill, to the welfare of their men, and to the administrative work of their regiment. In the Royal Warrant of 1871, they had an absolute pledge that the cares and occupations of a military career would be exclusively of this honourable and interesting nature. And now we come to tell them, with all the authority of Parliament, that their business will henceforward be to watch the market, to calculate like so many actuaries the chances of promotion in a battalion at the Mauritius as opposed to a battalion at Aldershot, and to worry themselves with speculations whether or not it is worth their while to sell the prestige of a famous and ancient regiment, to which they have perhaps been appointed as a reward for proficiency in military knowledge, or transferred as an acknowledgment for distinguished service in the field. It is to rescue them from such a prospect as this, so contrary to the anticipations which at the time when they donned their uniforms these officers had reason to entertain, that I earnestly entreat the Committee and the Government favourably to consider the Amendment that is now before them. And I venture humbly to express a hope that those Gentlemen from the Sister Isle who sit around me will not on this occasion resort to a neutrality which both sides of the House alike lament, but will record their votes either for or against a proposal of such high import to the future well-being of that Army, the past history of which is the common pride of every one of the Three Kingdoms. And, Sir, we must not too readily come to the conclusion that the wishes of these, the younger officers of our Army, are in favour of this Bill. It will be said that they have not proclaimed their objections to it; but no one who knows the British Army, with its spirit of strict and graduated discipline, and its deeply-rooted respect for seniority, could possibly expect that officers, the oldest of whom is of three years' standing, should indulge in any manifestations against a measure which is popular with the majority of his seniors among company officers, with a great majority of field officers and generals, and which is ardently promoted by those who are in the confidence of the Commander-in-Chief, and by the Secretary of State for War. It is not in Memorials and Petitions, and letters to the newspapers, that you must look for the opinions of these young men. You have an indirect, but most significant test of their feeling in the matter. If the abolition of the purchase of exchanges had, indeed, made the Service less attractive to men of birth and high spirit, hon. Members who have sons or nephews would not have been obliged to resort to statistics in order to ascertain that the Army was less popular than of yore. But as it is, every avenue to military service, whether through the Militia, the Universities, or the open list, is crowded with a throng of candidates exactly of the same class as we have always been proud to see at the head of our soldiers, who prove, by their numbers and their eagerness, how highly they appreciate a service, one of the first conditions of which still is that exchanges can no longer be bought or sold. It so happens, Sir, that, from circumstances to which it is unnecessary to allude, I have a pretty extensive acquaintance among the junior, and, without unduly boasting, I may say, the rising officers of our Army; and I know, as well as perhaps most other hon. Gentlemen know, the objects on which their hearts are set. They wish to have the rules of retirement definitely laid down on a regular and not too illiberal scale. They wish to be able to look forward to a certain pension when they leave the Army, and while they are in the Army to a reasonable flow of promotion. They wish to have their obligatory and customary expenses decreased and their pay increased, until they may be able to earn, by the devotion of their lives, a modest, but a secure subsistence. By the abolition of Purchase, the late Secretary of State made the Army a profession in which men must work. It is for the present Secretary of State to make it a profession in which men can live. And let him undo that lamentable General Order, by which those prizes in the Army which had been solemnly promised to officers who had passed the Staff College were wantonly taken away, just as they were rising to the rank at which they could enjoy them. Let him give once more a fair field to merit, and no favour to wealth or patronage, and he will do much more to win the gratitude of the gentlemen in whose behalf this Amendment is moved than if he includes them wholesale in a measure whose justification is the Report of a Commission which, as I have shown by arguments that I believe to be absolutely unanswerable, has no more to do with the officers appointed to our Army during the last three years than with the lieutenants in the Prussian Guard. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.

Amendment proposed, At the end of the Clause, to add the words "Provided, That the provisions of this Act shall not apply to any officer who has entered Her Majesty's service on any day subsequent to the first day of November 1871."—(Mr. Trevelyan.)


considered that the Amendment rested upon a basis which was entirely fallacious. The hon. Member asked the House by this Amendment to decide that the free exchanges permitted by the Bill were a necessary evil, which ought to be restricted as much as possible, and ought not to be allowed at all whenever they could be prevented. But the principle of this Bill was the very reverse. Its object was to facilitate free exchanges. The hon. Member (Mr. Trevelyan) wanted the House to draw a hard-and-fast line at a certain year, and to say it would allow this necessary evil up to 1871; but that as regarded officers who had entered the service since that time, and in future, no free exchanges should be permitted. If the Members on the Ministerial side of the House accepted that Amendment they would stultify themselves. Exchanges were permitted by the law as it at present stood, and money was also allowed to pass. In the year 1871, when the late Government abolished Purchase, they were so satisfied that the system of exchanges should continue that they made special regulations recognizing it, and also for allowing money to pass. Three-fourths of the arguments on the other side were based upon the ground that this Bill ought not to pass, because thereby officers would be enabled to escape foreign service. Now, he held in his hand a Return relative to exchanges during the last few years, which was in more than one respect significant. Since exchanges had been regulated by the late Government there had been 106 exchanges in regiments of the Line, 75 of which were effected in order to escape going to India, which showed that the officer now escaped going to India, and did not face the jungle and the malaria. In the Artillery, which was a non-purchase corps, there had been 129 exchanges within the last seven years, 71 of which had been effected to escape foreign service. In the Engineers only 17 had exchanged, 14 of which were effected to escape foreign service. These figures proved that the declamation against this Bill on the ground that under it there would be exchanges injurious to the service and derogatory to the character of the British officer was all moonshine, because the very thing was happening under existing regulations. The same remark applied to money. Money was allowed to pass under the regulations of the late Government just as it was to be allowed under the present Bill. But the War Secretary very wisely and very judiciously declared he would not take any cognizance of these money transactions. His position in the matter was simply this—that exchanges must be regulated by military considerations, and military considerations alone. That was surely not a point to be controverted by hon. Gentlemen opposite. He must credit the Leaders of the Opposition with sincerity of purpose—else, having achieved unpopularity with the British electors, they could not be so determined to alienate the affections of British officers. He believed there were no military officers on the front Opposition bench; but he could not think that right hon. Gentlemen would run their heads against a wall unless impelled by countervailing considerations. They must be constrained by the highest and purest motives to increase their unpopularity in standing forth as the opponents of the wishes of the officers of the whole British Army. He should certainly vote against the Amendment.


said, the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Forsyth) had taunted the Leaders of the Opposition with not being military officers, and he presumed that taunt would not have been levelled at them if the hon. and learned Member had not acquired his knowledge in the corps of Volunteers over which a peculiar potentate was popularly supposed to preside. Whatever might be the merits of the hon. and learned Member from a military point of view, he had not done justice to his other profession of the law, because he had done that which lawyers seldom did—he had carefully avoided touching in the most remote manner upon the question now before the Committee. The question was not that of exchange, but it was the passing of money—whether money was to pass or not, and whether money should pass as an inducement to effect these exchanges. How, then, could the hon. and learned Member think he had proved his point by adducing a large number of instances of exchange which had been effected without this consideration? The points made against them by hon. Gentlemen opposite might be stated in a very few words. They said—" You appointed a Commission to inquire into the grievances of the Army "—occasioned by the abolition of Purchase—" and you are bound by what your Commission reports. It is the same as if you had done it yourselves; we take it from you and carry it out." Now, was that a fair statement of the case? He thought it was not. The late Government did appoint a Commission to look into the grievances occasioned by Purchase, and there was some force in the argument so far as it applied to what had been done by the Commission, with the view of remedying the hardships occasioned by the abolition of Purchase. For the purposes of this discussion he admitted the argument, and was ready to concede what the Commission recommended in that sense. But the Commission being appointed for one purpose went beyond what was entrusted to them, and made recommendations which were not apparently intended to remedy the evils of purchase at all, but merely to please the Army by letting them traffic in exchanges, and there he thought they strained the matter too far. Let them look at the matter plainly, and as men of the world. Why, this officers' grievance question had come as a god-send to right hon. Gentlemen opposite. They were looking out for something to do to please the Army, and they got hold of this aberration of the Commission and jumped upon it with both feet, receiving it like manna or dew from Heaven, so welcome was it to them. For the purposes of this Motion he was ready to be bound by the Commissioners so far as their authority extended; but when the Commissioners went beyond the scope of their inquiry, it was open to right hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that they chose to follow them in that erratic course, but not that the founders of the Commission were responsible for it. The chief thing which struck him in connection with the question before the Committee was the extreme hardship and unfairness that would be imposed upon young officers who had joined the service since the abolition of Purchase. When the latter fact was accomplished the country practically said to these young officers,—"We are going to introduce a new kind of service; by diligence and studious devotion to your profession you may rise in it without any pecuniary means whatever; the element of money is banished, and you may look forward to anything that is to be got in your profession." That was the sort of temptation and prospect we had held out to them if they would look at their profession as gentlemen ought to look at it, as a noble pursuit to be followed as a matter of duty and honour, and if they would not look at everything simply in the light of the amount of money to be got out of it. He really did not envy the feelings of any man who preferred to educate our young officers in the old school of the Army, subject as it was to all its low and mean pecuniary considerations, instead of inculcating upon them the nobility of a service free from such degrading influences. Another point upon which he desired to lay stress was this. He could not conceive how a system of promotion by merit could be reconciled with the principle of the Bill which the House was asked by Her Majesty's Government to pass. When a man was promoted for merit he did not perhaps gain much in material advantages, but had conferred upon him a high and distinguished honour, and this distinction was a means of delivering the Army from mere pecuniary fetters. But how would such a system work when a young man was placed in such a distinguished position and was then afterwards allowed to sell it? Surely the two systems of selection and purchase could not work together. If they favoured the system of promotion by merit they must give up these pecuniary transactions; but if they maintained the latter they must abandon the former. He was concerned to see that the whole argument had changed since they had first begun to discuss the Bill. Then the House was told that it was only desired to legalize these exchanges in order to promote the convenience of officers, who by reason of ill health, large families, or other causes, found it necessary to change their places of residence. As the discussion had advanced it had turned upon considerations more and more mean and sordid, and it was now clear that the only point upon which officers and their friends were thoroughly agreed was that they had in their commissions vendible commodities, and that they did not mean to be deprived of the power of disposing of them. During the past few days he had been engaged in a Committee upstairs inquiring as to certain matters affecting the Stock Exchange, and he found it difficult to distinguish between the proceedings in the Committee on this Bill and those in the other Committee to which he referred as far as their tone was concerned. He had in the course of the debate heard declarations which were anything but re-assuring. The Secretary of State for War had been very difficult to be "drawn" in reference to the matter. The declaration of the Secretary of State merely amounted to this—that the Guards were not entitled to sell the intrinsic value of their corps. But that was just the very point that was doubted. It was asserted by the Opposition, that an officer might look over the roll of such a regiment's achievements inscribed upon its colours, from Blenheim to Waterloo, and Waterloo to Inkermann, and then consider how much money he could get for an exchange. That was the thing called prestige. A band of brave, gallant, and noble men had served their country in every part of the world; they had shed their blood, and brought upon themselves immortal honour; and it was left for another set of men to make money out of these exploits of their predecessors by selling their positions. That point had been made abundantly clear by the admissions of the Secretary of State for War himself. Another serious blot in the Bill was that which his right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) endeavoured to meet by moving an Amendment to the effect that a number of officers in a regiment should not be allowed to make up a purse to be presented to a senior officer in order that he might, by retiring from the regiment, give them each a step. The Secretary of State for War, in opposition to this Amendment, held that the state, of things against which it was proposed to guard would not arise, but this statement did not get over the fact that what had happened in the past was likely to occur again.


rose to Order. The right hon. Gentleman was in Committee making a speech which would have alone been appropriate on the Motion for the second reading of the Bill.


ruled that the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly in Order.


said, it was clear that the hon. and learned Gentleman who interrupted him did not understand the question, which was, whether Parliament should or should not exclude from the operation of the present Bill certain officers who were not affected in any way by the abolition of Purchase. This was an entirely new question, and its discussion necessitated the examination of certain general considerations connected with the measure. Under the existing law, transactions such as those referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract were punishable by expulsion from the Service, and the Secretary of State for War proposed to legalize such proceedings, meeting the objections made on the score that it would re-enact Purchase with the observation that the state of things so strongly feared would not arise. Let them not force this iniquity upon young men, who were free from the system of Purchase, who never had anything to do with it, and who, unless the House insisted upon breaking down this salutary bulwark, would never have anything to do with it. He was told that the promotions for merit in the Army amounted to some 2 per cent—so small an amount that, as a mathematician would say, it might be neglected altogether; and therefore, after paying an enormous sum to get rid of Purchase, we had not got what we paid for, and meant to have, we had got not a service of promotion, but a service of seniority, and now this vagary of the Commission was taken advantage of in order to bring back in its full effect and integrity the system of buying officers out by bonus and by contributions. Although we had got a seniority service, that service was encumbered and disgraced by a great many of the incidents of the Purchase system. How long it would be before we came to Purchase pure and simple no one could say; if things remained in the present train come it would; so he thought they were justified in asking the Secretary for War to have a little mercy upon the young officers who had been trained up to look to other and better things, and not to insist upon bringing back upon them all the old incidents of buying, selling, dealing, trucking, and huckstering in commissions.


opposed the Amendment, remarking that it seemed to have been assumed as a fact that the present system of exchanges in the Army was satisfactory. He, on the other hand, thought it utterly indefensible. It was a thoroughly weak system, and acted unjustly. Under it the middle-class man with £100 or £200 at his banker's, might be relieved from the competition of the richer man bidding against him; but the really poor man might be left to rot in India or to submit to any misfortune that might happen. It seemed to him that there were only two courses to be adopted—either they must allow unrestricted exchanges, or prohibit them altogether, leaving any arrangement of the kind which might be absolutely necessary to be made by means of a payment by the War Office, and not by the officer. The latter plan would involve a charge upon the country which hon. Gentlemen opposite were not likely to approve, while it would also greatly interfere with the convenience of the officers, and, for his own part, he should support the Bill.


remarked that it was too late for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to bring forward such arguments against the Bill as they now advanced, considering the manner in which they dealt with this question when they were in power. Did they say that exchanges were beneficial to the service, and that therefore they ought to be made at the expense of the country? No; their economy prevented them from taking this course, and they threw the cost of an exchange on one of the parties making the exchange, reserving a right to limit the amount given. The whole of their objections to the Bill and their reasons for supporting the Amendment, arose from their opinion that an exchange for 5s. was a moral transaction, but that one for which 7s. 6d. was paid must be condemned.


deprecated legislation in favour of the rich only, adding that no money would ever be required to induce British officers to encounter danger.


Mr. Raikes—I have not, Sir, been eager to take a part in the discussions on this Bill; on the contrary, I have been exceedingly desirous to avoid it. I have a great dread of reactionary measures in general, and I was in hopes that the experience of last year upon another measure would have conveyed a warning to the minds of Her Majesty's Government. But on this occasion my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) has given us an opportunity, for which I, for one, feel much indebted to him, of meeting the Government and doing all we can to procure what would be, upon the whole, a not unreasonable, and what would almost promise to be a reasonable, settlement of this question. Sir, I must here refer to words I have heard. A sentiment has been expressed by a Gentleman who has had the benefit, I think, of a few months' experience in this House, and who announced, on the part of the majority of this House, that they were determined to carry through this Bill exactly as it stood. Well, Sir, I trust the very last thing for which a Liberal Opposition will be known in future times will be a resort to factious resistance; and there cannot be the smallest doubt of the power of the majority to carry out their threat, and, as the field of discussion is a limited field, of their power to carry out their threat within a very moderate time. But a settlement such as this, in so far as it is a settlement at all, is a settlement due to the humour of the day. It is founded, not upon an appeal to the general reason, but upon the possession of a majority, which, as it came into existence upon a certain occasion, may upon some other occasion in the future cease to exist. So far as all reasonable concessions are intended and are desired, in order to meet the grievances of individuals, there is every disposition on our part to be parties to them, even if we do not take the same view of those grievances as has been taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite. But this I must say, that if, after the enormous sacrifices the country has been called upon to make with a view to the abolition of Purchase, practices are to be introduced which rest upon essentially the same foundation, which differ in principle though not in name from Purchase, which the Secretary for War disapproves, and the re-introduction of which I feel perfectly confident he will do his best to resist, and practices which, as we believe, will infallibly draw after them, probably by a series of changes, according to the insidious nature of the motives you are now asked to bring into action all that is essentially contained in the system of Purchase—I must say, for one, it is impossible to regard such a settlement as that as a permanent settlement; and those who avail themselves of the majority of the moment for the purpose of pushing on a measure so remarkable in distinct, although only partial, derogation of the great measure of 1871, must not be surprised if, at some future time, the measure with which they measure is meted out to them. I am not going to refer, in the name of boon and privilege, to that which I believe it to be, the bane and mischief of the future of the officers of the Army; but hon. Members must not be surprised if, upon public grounds, it shall be hereafter disavowed and withdrawn, even as upon grounds, I think not public, it is commended to this House. I give the fullest credit to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War for his intentions in this matter. I give him the same credit as I gave to those from whom I may have differed in opinion, and who were my Colleagues in the service of the Crown. It is not, however, integrity and uprightness of intention which will suffice to counteract and neutralize the subtle, vigilant, incessant action of those personal motives besetting him in every form and at every point which we are now going to set in motion. Well, Sir, what did the right hon. Gentleman tell us? I wish to show how completely my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs meets the reasonable—the not unreasonable—demands of this case. The right hon. Gentleman has stated it is behind the shield of the Commission he seeks shelter. Now, how far does the shield of the Commission avail him? For what purpose was the Commission appointed? It was appointed to inquire into grievances, and into grievances entirely of a personal and pecuniary character. So far as the Commission recommends to us measures affecting the future policy of this country with respect to the Army, the Commission consists of three respectable, amiable, and distinguished individuals, and it consists of nothing more; because as soon as it goes into a question of future policy, it is acting entirely beyond the grounds on which it was appointed to act; and it is impossible to quote the authority of this or any Commission, except for the purpose to which it was instructed by the Crown to direct its attention. What was that purpose? It was the relief of officers from what were considered their pecuniary or their personal grievances; and all the Commissioners have said with respect to the policy of the case is this—that they are not satisfied that there will be any detriment to the Service from the re-introduction of exchanges in the manner of Purchase. That may be all very well; but it is not the question they were appointed to settle. That was not the question which the Commissioners were appointed to inquire into, and any one sitting here is as much entitled to give a judgment, and with as much authority, as these Commissioners, respecting what is detrimental to the Service. I have a great respect for the Commissioners, within the lines in which they were appointed to act. They were appointed to consider the relief and advantage of officers who were in the service at the time the Warrant for the Abolition of Purchase was issued, and who had formed certain expectations founded on long-continued practice—expectations which it has always been the habit of Parliament, even in its greatest energy of reform, to respect, and which I trust it always will be the habit of Parliament to respect. The Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs, accordingly meets the whole of the purpose for which the Commission was appointed. He grants to every officer who had obtained his commission before the 1st of November, 1871, all that is asked for in this Bill. I must say I was in hopes that upon this ground we should have been met. I am sorry to see the nature of the policy which has been pursued on the other side of the House. In every shape in which mitigation of this Bill could be suggested, it has been or it is intended to be opposed. The Government were asked to exclude field officers from the provisions of the Bill. This has been refused. Then the Government were asked to prohibit by statute what is called the making of purses—that is to say, to prohibit it by the only means which can be effectual. That, too, has been refused. The Government were also asked to limit these transactions within the pecuniary amount of £500, and we had an expectation of arguing that question under a shield—to use a favourite word—and under the authority of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Loyd-Lindsay), who proved last night to be somewhat less gallant than he has been on all previous occasions; but we were obliged to argue that matter on the shield of our own responsibility. That also was refused. Another proposal will be made for giving publicity to these transactions. I have a strong opinion on the subject; but I am afraid that that also is to be refused. And now my hon. Friend comes forward with this proposition and says—"Take for your officers who have a grievance everything that they demand." And if I may form a judgment from the voices which have been heard on the Government side of the House I conclude that this also is to be refused. I must here point out, as I did some eight or nine months ago, when speaking on another subject, that this is not the way to secure the stability of legislation, and that proposals so conceived and so pushed, without mitigation, with no justification practically of the grounds on which they are made, are not according to the habits, the temper in which Parliament usually acts, or according to the principles and modes of action by which the legislation of this country has become so famous. Let it be remembered how serious are the difficulties which will be set in operation by this Bill. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Eye (Mr. J. S. Hardy) who has spoken this evening in that manner which always pleases the House, and with a talent which all are glad to acknowledge, says with truth that it will be a difficult thing for the Secretary of State to determine between what regiments exchange shall be allowed, and between what regiments it shall not be allowed—whether the credit and fame of a regiment be such that an officer shall be allowed to part with it, or whether it be such that he may not be allowed to part with it. Is not that the very strongest reason which can possibly be conceived against a measure which allows you to bring into the field motives not in themselves legitimate—motives which will create desire for such things—motives which do not now exist, and which will place the Secretary of State in difficulties he is not placed in, and need not be placed in now? But the right hon. Gentleman has felt that he was obliged to make his choice between them. After the pressure of the questions addressed to the right hon. Gentleman last night we now clearly understand, as far as negatives can make a thing clear, that although he has told us exchanges are not to be free, the circumstance that the credit and reputation of a particular regiment enter into the price to be paid is not to be a reason for refusing an exchange. If I am wrong I hope I shall be contradicted at once; but I have no doubt I am right. Indeed, it was impossible to listen to the right hon. Gentleman last night, and not to perceive that he felt the difficulty which the hon. Member for Rye has now explained to us, and that he would not undertake to lay down distinctions in principle between one regiment and another. Consequently, those regiments which are famous, and which in other respects possess the greatest advantages, are to have those advantages, whether they consist in fame and glory or not, put up to sale whenever the process of exchange can be made conducive to the transaction of such a sale. The hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. Forsyth) says all these evils already exist, and that at the present moment exchanges are made for the purpose of avoiding service in India. But nobody denies for a moment that there may be perfectly legitimate causes for desiring to avoid service in India. Causes of health, of family, and many other personal considerations may give a just personal ground for desiring to avoid service in India. And the merits of the present system is, that it affords that degree of scope and enables the Secretary of State for War and the military authorities to meet these reasonable demands. But is it because there are sometimes just reasons for wishing to avoid service in India that we are to recognize those reasons which are unjust? What we contend to be an unjust reason is this—that the possession of wealth ought not to be a ground for the avoidance of irksome service. Let us well understand what is this question. Nobody supposes that any officer in the British Army will ever be misled by any amount of money, or by any secondary motive whatever, in a case where honour or where danger is in question. It is not a question of dangerous service; it is not a question of flinching from the calls of honour; it is a question of the avoidance of irksome service. But that service is the greatest difficulty of a standing Army in time of peace, and most of all the difficulty of a standing Army like ours, which has to serve all over the world; and the difficulty is greatly aggravated by the constant and rapid growth of wealth in the country, and the incessantly more and more luxurious habits of society. It is idle to tell me that young men, whether in the Army or not, entertain considerable repugnance to the undertaking of irksome service if they can avoid it, and we contend that they ought not to be enabled to avoid it by means of wealth. We are not, however, urging this objection against those who have claims growing out of former expectations. Look at the evidence adduced before the Commission, and at the Report of the Commissioners. Everything they have heard and everything they have said carries up the question to this very point—that it is proposed to allow men by force of money to obtain the privilege of relief from irksome service. Now, it has been shown over and over again how hardly this will operate on those men who now, having legitimate reasons for desiring to exchange home from India or elsewhere, and having now nothing to bar their arriving at such exchanges, will be debarred in future by the competition of the wealth they do not possess. But, Sir, apart from hardship to individuals, I ask the House of Commons whether, at this time of day, it is wise, whether it is patriotic, I would almost say whether it is decent, that we should be busying ourselves with legislation to place wealth in a position of advantage as compared with talent, with character, and with service? Is, then, wealth so poor and so oppressed a thing; is it a commodity so little in request that it is totally destitute of the means of getting fair play for itself in the different ranks of life? Is this an age which is honourably distinguished for its indifference to the mere claims of wealth? I love not excessive privilege, whether for wealth or for anything else; but if privilege were to be introduced in favour of rank, birth, and ancient name and family, I should infinitely prefer it to the invidious, I must say the odious, task of deliberately and with our eyes open making for the service of the Queen Regulations, so that, by means of wealth apart from merit and service, a particular officer is to have an advantage over another in choosing the place where he shall serve. All this is most serious matter. These discussions, I think, need not be greatly prolonged, yet I very greatly doubt whether the question can end with discussions of a Bill conceived in such a spirit as this. The right hon. Gentleman referred to one point which I must notice. Of course, I am sorry to be compelled to touch upon topics of a general character; but as the question is whether officers of the future shall be included in the Bill, it is necessary for me to touch briefly on the leading points of the measure. If the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War were omnipotent in the case, I should not be in the slightest degree afraid of leaving the honour of the service of the country in his hands; but he has said very frankly, that by declaration he proposes to take what he thinks is a security against the practice of what is called making purses. My right hon. Friend near me proposed to deal effectually with this question by making it penal on the part of officers to concur in any arrangement contravening the law now in existence. The right hon. Gentleman rejected this suggestion, and proposes in lieu of it to proceed by way of declaration. Now, a man's declaration is only valuable with reference to what is done by himself. For example, an exchange is going to be made between two officers, A and B, who are to make a certain declaration. Such a declaration may be perfectly good as far as A and B are concerned; but this is not the point at issue. The allegation is that C, D, E, and a number of other officers will have direct inducements in many of these cases to subscribe money and enter into what will be peculiarly a pecuniary transaction, and the right hon. Gentleman proposes to prevent that proceeding, not by asking these officers—which, indeed, might be absurd—whether they have done so, but by asking A and B what C, D, E, and half the other letters of the Alphabet have been about. This seems like an unquestionable leaving open of the door for the introduction of the process of Purchase. There is no doubt about the nature of the objects the Commissioners have had in view. It is quite evident to those who read this portion of the Report that the adjustment of matters of pecuniary and personal grievance has been that to which they had addressed their minds. I greatly regret that they did not take into view the distinction between the officer of the past and the officer of the future. But as they have not done so, and as when they were called upon to make recommendations they made a declaration deeply involving the policy of the future, I maintain that the claim of the right hon. Gentleman to be covered by their authority entirely fails, and that the whole measure remains open to the force of these remarks which have been made from this side of the House in so many forms and with so much weight and clearness—that this is a measure tending to give undue advantage to the possession of wealth as compared with other and far higher claims upon the notice and attention of authority. Such a measure has no claim upon our respect and attention, and can promise no good either for the present or for the future of that gallant service whose honour and distinction we are always so desirous of maintaining.


I rejoice, in common, I am quite sure, with the whole Committee, in hearing again the eloquent voice and the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us; and before proceeding to remark upon those arguments, I must be allowed to thank him for his courtesy towards myself, and the fairness with which he admitted that I had no intention to bring about the evils we all so greatly deplore. Passing from this personal matter, I think, from what we have heard during this debate, it might be supposed we were forcing this Bill upon the House in some unheard-of manner; whereas, in the case of no Bill ever brought before the House of the same length and importance, have there been opportunities for such full discussion. The right hon. Gentleman says we have used our majority in opposing the various Amendments which have been proposed from the opposite side of the House? Why did we do so? Because these Amendments were every one of them in flat contradiction to the Bill I had brought forward. They were strenuously directed against the main object for which this Bill has been introduced, and against the definite terms which were introduced to meet the difficulties which were the cause of complaint. In my first statement I forestalled the objections upon many of the subjects since alluded to, and I said then, as distinctly as I said last night, that my object was that exchanges should be as free as they were in former times, though then they were illegal; that I would render that legal which was formerly illegal; but, as regards money transactions, I should make no inquiry at all. I said this at first; I repeated it afterwards. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), rather in the catechizing manner of a schoolmaster than that of one Member of Parliament addressing another, put a question to me in a leading form, which, if answered in the same form would have rendered me liable to misconstruction of the grossest kind, while I had really answered the question frequently in the course of these debates in a general and true form. Was it never the case in former days that all the Amendments proposed on our side of the House were rejected by an overwhelming majority? Have there not been occasions when attempts were made, not by the ordinary constitutional means, but by that force which can never be exercised constitutionally in this House, by observing perfect silence, and by refusing to discuss the arguments urged on one side, and hasten on the adoption of a particular measure? No one can say that speakers have been wanted on this side of the House to meet the arguments addressed to us on the other side. Much has been said by the right hon. Gentleman about what I said about our being under the shield of the Royal Commission. Now, nobody knows better than the right hon. Gentleman that a shield is not a complete protection to the body, and that it is not supposed to render unnecessary every other kind of armour. It is true I have adopted the arguments of the Commissioners, and believe that the system they have recommended would be beneficial to the exchangers, and not disadvantageous, but in many cases even beneficial to the service. But I have not only advanced under this shield, I have also in my defence used such weapons as I had a right to use, and have relied upon other arguments, as well as upon the authority of the Commission. We had been told that no great authority is due to the Commission, though they may have reported that this system would be beneficial to the Service. I should have thought men like Lord Penzance, Lord Justice James, and my right hon. Friend (Mr. Hunt) were peculiarly qualified to sit on such a Commission. They had sat on other Commissions which had considered the question, and Lord Justice James had himself been in the service. All the Commissioners were, in fact, well acquainted with it; and how was it that my Predecessor, Lord Cardwell, selected them for the purpose? At least we can claim the authority which is due to them, and I ask no more. The right hon. Gentleman says that abuse must necessarily arise from the existence of declarations. Now, the whole of our present system rests upon declarations. With respect to the Artillery and the double battalions, the Act of 49 Geo. III. does not apply, and therefore you must prosecute, not under that statute, but under the declarations. And what are these declarations? Do you suppose we shall allow them to be violated as the law was allowed to be violated in former times? Do you think we shall allow an officer to make false declarations, to violate honour and truth, and that he will not be prosecuted as he would have been under the statute of Geo. III.? The right hon. Gentleman says the declaration may be good as regards the two officers who exchange, but that other officers may be concerned by making up a purse to bring about the exchange. But does not the right hon. Gentleman see how the purse will be used? It must be made for the purpose of being paid to A or B, or else it is of no use at all. I say, therefore, if A can come forward and say—"I have received no money from my juniors in the regiment to exchange," and if B can say—" I am not cognizant of any money passing in this transaction, except the money paid by myself," such a declaration will be just as efficacious as the declaration made in the present instance. Is it not remarkable that the right hon. Gentleman should now support a proposal which would divide the Army into two classes of officers, and should tell us that this would not be an unreasonable solution of the question? What! Not an unreasonable solution of the question if it leads to the evil consequences which the right hon. Gentleman apprehends, and if we are putting the great majority of the Army into a position in which abuses must spring up which will bring back Purchase? Now, if this thing were not right in itself—if it were not as right for both parts of the Army as it is for one part—I should not advocate it; and I do not envy the feelings of hon. Members opposite who, having opposed every part of this Bill at every stage as a thing so horrible in itself that they would never assent to it, now say it would not be an unreasonable solution of the question to divide the officers of the Army into two classes. I pass now from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and come to the right hon. Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe). What shall I say of the way in which that right hon. Gentleman has spoken of men who availed themselves of this system of exchanges in former days? He spoke of bartering and huckstering and trafficking in the prestige of a regiment. Let the right hon. Gentleman turn to the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock), and ask him who had huckstered and bartered and trafficked in the prestige of their regiment. Who are the brokers, and traffickers, and tricksters to whom the right hon. Gentleman referred? I think I see another hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite who in his time has been an exchanger, and who no doubt has paid or been paid for exchanging. Is he one of the barterers and tricksters—[An hon. MEMBER: Hucksters!]—whom the right hon. Gentleman is so anxious to exclude from the Army? I must leave those who make such charges to settle the matter with this gallant and distinguished profession, and to justify the taunts and sneers which are levelled against it in so unceremonious a manner. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to represent that among the officers of the Army there was no sense of faith, or truth, or honour; that they were ready to part with the honour of their regiments. Let the right hon. Gentleman settle that with the Army and with the Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman has intimated that there were officers in the Army who sought to excuse themselves from participation in irksome and dangerous duty by resorting to money payments. An argument on the other side was founded upon the assumption that there was a right on the part of the officers to exchange, and that we were going to make it an absolute right, without any control whatever. What I said to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) was—"You know as well as I do there is no such 'right.' "I avoided the trap which seemed to be laid that I might fall into an expression used by the right hon. Gentleman, and afterwards find it perverted into an expression to be used against myself. We have heard a great deal during the debate of money which would pass in these transactions, and the supposed degrading element of money has been much dwelt upon. From which side of the House did these expressions proceed? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) began his speech with money, the middle of it was money, and the conclusion money. It was from that side of the House, not from this, that these constant controversies about money arose. I ask, in what do we differ from our Predecessors? What was the ground upon which Lord Cardwell sanctioned exchanges in the future? Upon the ground of personal convenience. Yet this is the thing which has been condemned over and over again by the right hon. Gentleman. It was on the ground of personal convenience that exchanges have been made; it is on that ground that they are to be continued. Now, I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) with the greatest pleasure, because it was a speech addressed calmly and coolly to our understanding and our reason, and did not fall under the head of appeals to that prejudice and passion which have been so characteristic of the speeches from the other side. The hon. Member for the Border Burghs seemed to say I had a very pleasant task before me—the task left me by my Predecessor. He says that my Predecessor made the officers' profession a profession of work, and that it will be for me to teach them how to live. I would like to know what particular act of my Predecessor has made the profession a profession of work more than it was a profession of work before. I would like to know what is that particular thing done by my Predecessor, on which the hon. Member for the Border Burghs can lay his finger, which has exalted the profession of arms from the slough of idleness and uselessness to the noble position of a profession of work. I say that no distinction of that kind can be made between the Army as it was before and as it is now. But as for the other point, I quite admit there are many difficulties in the way of making officers live by their profession, and I must say it is not from below the Gangway opposite that I look for assistance whereby they may be enabled to live. There has been no great desire hitherto on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite to pay British officers excessively; but I am sure the hon. Member for the Border Burghs will be glad that they should be paid, not an excessive, but a reasonable remuneration. When the hon. Gentleman tells me that I shall have to reduce their expenses and increase their pay, I hope if I live long enough I may be able to do something in that way; but I should tremble if I were to depend for my success on what was done by my Predecessor, for if my Predecessor has left me that work to do he has left me nothing wherewith to do it. Then there is another argument, and one of wider scope, which has been used by the hon. Gentleman. He says that by this Bill we have violated the understanding on which officers have entered the service under the Royal Warrant of 1871. Well, is it to be contended that Royal Warrants are not to be changed, no matter what may be the pressure of circumstances? And, if they are to be changed, is it to be admitted that this is to be done without giving officers any compensation? If the hon. Member means that, he broaches a very dangerous doctrine, because the moment you touch a Royal Warrant you touch a question of contract under which every officer in the Army entered. And now I have to say I am not prepared to accept this Amendment. I am not prepared to divide the officers of the Army into two classes—one class enjoying a freedom of exchange from which the other shall be debarred. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) would debar from exchange all those officers who have come in since 1871. Well, that is an intelligible proposition. I have always said so. On the other hand, I assume that the hon. Member for the Border Burghs means them to come in under the present system of exchanges—that is, under the Warrant made since they came in. I have been told to distinguish between the condition of things under the existing Warrant and that which I am about to produce; but I cannot consent to make so invidious a distinction. It is perfectly true the rich man has an advantage, because a large sum may have to be paid; but in cases where there are children and governesses to be taken into account I do not see how that is to be avoided. But when the right hon. Gentleman opposite speaks with contempt of the declarations which may be made hereafter he throws considerable doubt on the declarations made at present. For my part, I am not inclined to throw doubt on those declarations. I trust in the integrity and honour of British officers. I am aware of the responsibility I undertake, but I will say this—trusting as I do to the integrity and honour of the British officer, if I find that integrity and that honour violated, I will then be as severe as I am now disposed to be generous.


I am not disposed to prolong the debate on this Amendment after the very eloquent speeches of my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Gladstone), and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. G. Hardy); but there were one or two things stated by the Secretary for War which I cannot altogether pass over. The right hon. Gentleman stated at the beginning of his speech that every Amendment proposed from this side of the House was hostile to the principle of the measure. The right hon. Gentleman must have forgotten the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), which was not in the slightest degree hostile to the principle of the Bill, or to the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to administer it. The object of my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract was merely to give a legislative condemnation to the practice which the right hon. Gentleman himself denounces —that of subscribing and making purses to enable senior officers to exchange. That Amendment cannot be described as in opposition to the principle of the Bill. Then the right hon. Gentleman stated that Lord Penzance, Lord Justice James, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hunt) had been employed on other Commissions connected with the Army, and were good authorities upon Army matters. I can hardly concur in the opinion that, however good authorities they may be on Army matters, they are the best men for settling the future policy of the Army. I do not think that a Commission composed of a couple of lawyers and a county Member is the best Commission we could have for such a purpose. The Commission should have included some one who had been connected with the administration of the Army; but this Commission was of a purely judicial character; and it never seems to have occurred to my noble Friend (Lord Cardwell), when he appointed those Commissioners, that they would do nothing else than report whether, if the officers' grievances were well founded, compensation ought to be awarded to them. I do think the Commission did somewhat exceed the scope of their instructions when, finding it not desirable to award any pecuniary compensation on account of exchanges, they took it upon themselves to recommend that payment for exchanges should be restored. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the declaration of officers was the only thing on which we had now to rely. That is very dangerous ground to proceed upon. I would be the last person to say a word that would be offensive to any officer. But we know that declarations of the most stringent kind could not be enforced during the existence of the purchase system, and, notwithstanding those declarations, that over-regulation prices had grown up was a matter of perfect notoriety. We know, and the right hon. Gentleman knows, these things, and yet he proposes to rely on declarations. No doubt, to a great extent we rely on declarations at this moment. I do not wish—and I do not know any one on this side who wishes—to contend that the present is a perfect system. If the right hon. Gentleman can recommend any improvement let him do so by all means. What is the declaration which an officer is required to make? Is it that he has not done something condemned by law? But what the right hon. Gentleman is going to substitute is that he has not done something contrary to the Regulations the right hon. Gentleman is going to lay down. My right hon Friend the Member for Pontefract did attempt to make illegal this practice of subscribing a bonus, and making up a purse to enable senior officers to exchange. But is there no difference between requiring an officer to declare he has paid nothing whatever except certain sums specified in the Schedule, and making it illegal to do so? Parliament tells the officer up to this time that his position is not to be obtained by any pecuniary compensation whatever. In future you are going to tell him that on certain conditions his position may be bought. You are now about to do what our Predecessors attempted when they laid down the regulation system, and over-regulation prices were the result. It is true, as has been stated, that General Havelock and other distinguished officers were obliged to sell their commissions—but what compelled them to do so? It was the purchase system; that purchase system which hon. Gentlemen opposite did so much to oppose the abolition of. It was impossible for a poor officer under that system to get on at all, except by the practice of exchanging for money; and, naturally, officers who wished to rise in their profession would take every chance that was left open to them to do so. But is it not a very different thing that an officer who has obtained by good fortune a commission in a privileged regiment of great prestige should barter the prestige of that regiment for a sum of money? I do not think that the conduct of officers in past time was deserving of the indignation of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The right hon. Gentleman, referring to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), says that it began with money, continued with money, and ended with money; and the same charge was made last night against my right hon. Friend by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir Charles Russell). But Sir, is it our fault or the fault of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that a word is brought into this discussion that some of us regard as lying at the very root of the matter. The right hon. Gentleman opposite does not get rid of the money consideration by saying that he will not know anything about it. He does not, he cannot, deny that it is a question of money. The right hon. Gentleman seems to suppose that because he does not wish or intend to know anything about the sums of money which will pass between officers, he can by that easy process get rid of this as a question of money altogether. We have listened to speeches in which sordid considerations for exchanges was referred to; but we have also read the Report of the Commissioners and the evidence of gallant officers who were examined, and we find that the beginning of their evidence was money, the continuation of it was money, and the ending of it was money. And, Sir, if we find that pecuniary considerations occupy so large a space in the minds of gallant officers, to meet whose grievance the Bill was introduced, is it our fault, or is it the fault of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that we have been obliged to call the attention of the House to the pecuniary consideration which the right hon. Gentleman thinks he can dispose of so readily? With respect to the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) I have not heard from the right hon. Gentleman any reason for refusing to accept it. The right hon. Gentleman says he thinks the measure right in itself, and equally applicable to one class of officers as another. We, on the other hand, think that the Bill is not right in itself, and, that although there may be some degree of palliation for it in the case of officers who entered under the Purchase system, who paid large sums for the position they hold, and who have been deprived of certain pecuniary privileges, we hold that there is no shadow of reason for re-establishing the system in the case of officers who entered the Army without any pecuniary intervention at all. The right hon. Gentleman has shown no ground for extending this system. Has any officer been examined by the Commissioners who has entered the Army since the abolition of Purchase; or have the officers themselves proved that there is any difficulty in effecting the necessary exchanges; is there any scrap of evidence that they themselves wish to have the system extended? Even if there were any such evidence I would ask what claim have the officers for any such provision? It was admitted last night that the privilege of possessing a commission in one regiment would show a distinct pecuniary value as compared with a commission in another regiment. Appointments are made to the Guards and to other distinguished regiments by the favour of the Commander-in-Chief, or of the colonels of those regiments; and it cannot be denied that, under these circumstances, the commissions of these officers, as compared with those of other officers, will possess a pecuniary value. The right hon. Gentleman says that no officer is entitled to exchange from those regiments; but he has not stated that he will impose any difficulty whatever in the way of such exchanges; and the result of the Bill will be that a young officer appointed to a certain regiment by the favour of the Commander-in-Chief, or of the colonel, will on the day that he obtains his commission become possessed of a valuable commodity, for which he has paid nothing, but with which he may part for a pecuniary consideration. The right hon. Gentleman was extremely indignant last night because we ventured to doubt whether this Bill would not restore Purchase. Well, I say that the effect of the Bill will be, contrary to the wish of the right hon. Gentleman, to restore something very like it; and not only that, but it will actually establish a new purchase system. I maintain that no answer has yet been given to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) on the first night of the debate, in which he challenged hon. Gentlemen opposite to show a distinction in principle between buying a commission for a sum of money and exchanging in consideration of a sum of money. That is the system you are establishing, and that, not in the case of officers who entered the service under the old system of Purchase, but who joined the Army under totally different conditions, and who have no claim whatever to benefit in a pecuniary sense by the system which this Bill will set up.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 168; Noes 259: Majority 91.

Acland, Sir T. D. Harcourt, Sir W. V.
Adam, rt. hon. W. P. Harrison, C.
Anderson, G. Harrison, J. F.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Hartington, Marq. of
Backhouse, E. Havelock, Sir H.
Balfour, Sir G. Herschell, F.
Barclay, A. C. Hill, T. R.
Barclay, J. W. Hodgson, K. D.
Bass, M. T. Holms, J.
Bazley, Sir T. Holms, W.
Beaumont, Major F. Howard, hn. C. W. G.
Beaumont, W. B. Ingram, W. J.
Biddulph, M. Jackson, H. M.
Bolckow, H. W. F. James, Sir H.
Brassey, T. James, W. H.
Briggs, W. E. Jenkins, D. J.
Bright, rt. hon. J. Johnstone, Sir H.
Bristowe, S. B. Kay-Shuttleworth. U. J.
Brogden, A.
Brown, A. H. Kensington, Lord
Burt, T. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Cameron, C. Knatchbull-Hugessen. rt. hon. E.
Campbell-Bannerman, H.
Laing, S.
Carter, R. M. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
Cartwright, W. C. Lawson, Sir W.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Leatham, E. A.
Cavendish, Lord G. Leeman, G.
Chadwick, D. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Chambers, Sir T. Leith, J. F.
Childers, rt. hon. H. Locke, J.
Clarke, J. C. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Clifford, C. C. Lubbock, Sir J.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Lusk, Sir A.
Collins, E. Macdonald, A.
Conyngham, Lord F. Macgregor, D.
Corbett, J. Mackintosh, C. F.
Cowan, J. M'Arthur, A.
Cowen, J. M'Kenna, Sir J. N.
Cowper, hon. H. F. M'Lagan, P.
Cross, J. K. Maitland, J.
Dalway, M. R. Marjoribanks, Sir D. C.
Davies, D. Marling, S. S.
Davies, R. Massey, rt. hon. W. N.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Monk, Sir A. E.
Dillwyn, L. L. Monk, C. J.
Dixon, G. Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.
Dodds, J. Moore, A.
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Morley, S.
Dunbar, T. Muntz, P. H.
Dundas, J. C. Noel, E.
Earp, T. Norwood, C. M.
Egerton, Adm. hon. F. O'Conor, D. M.
Errington, G. O'Conor Don, The
Evans, T. W. Palmer, C. M.
Eyton, P. E. Pease, J. W.
Fawcett, H. Peel, A. W.
Ferguson, R. Pender, J.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Pennington, F.
Fletcher, I. Perkins, Sir F.
Fordyce, W. D. Philips, R. N.
Forster, Sir C. Playfair, rt. hon. L.
Forster, rt. hon. W. E. Price, W. E.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Ramsay, J.
Gladstone, W. H. Rashleigh, Sir C.
Goldsmid, J. Rathbone, W.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Reed, E. J.
Gourley, E. T. Richard, H.
Gower, hon. E. F. L. Robertson, H.
Grieve, J. J. Russell, Lord A.
Hankey, T. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Samuelson, B. Tracy, hon. C. E. D. Hanbury-
Shaw, R.
Sheil, E. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Sheridan, H. B. Vivian, A. P.
Sherriff, A. C. Vivian, H. H.
Simon, Mr. Serjeant Walter, J.
Smith, E. Watkin, Sir E. W.
Stansfeld, rt. hon. J. Weguelin, T. M.
Stanton, A. J. Whitbread, S.
Stevenson, J. C. Whitwell, J.
Stuart, Colonel Williams, W.
Swanston, A. Wilson, Sir M.
Taylor, D. Yeaman, J.
Taylor, P. A. Young, A. W.
Temple, rt. hon. W. Cowper- TELLERS.
Hayter, A. D.
Tillett, J. H. Trevelyan, G. O.
Adderley, rt. hon. Sir C. Dalkeith, Earl of
Agnew, R. V. Dalrymple, C.
Alexander, Colonel Davenport, W. B.
Allsopp, H. Deakin, J. H.
Anstruther, Sir W. Denison, W. E.
Archdale, W. H. Dickson, Major A. G.
Arkwright, A. P. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Arkwright, F. Douglas, Sir G.
Arkwright, R. Duff, R. W.
Ashbury, J. L. Eaton, H. W.
Assheton, R. Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.
Baggallay, Sir R.
Bagge, Sir W. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Balfour, A. J. Egerton, hon. W.
Barrington, Viscount Elcho, Lord
Bates, E. Elliot, Sir G.
Bateson, Sir T. Elliot, G.
Bathurst, A. A. Elphinstone. Sir J. D. H.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Emlyn, Viscount
Bective, Earl of Eslington, Lord
Benett-Stanford, V. F. Estcourt, G. B.
Bentinck, G. C. Ewing, A. O.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Fellowes, E.
Beresford, Lord C. Fielden, J.
Beresford, Colonel M. FitzGerald, rt. hn. Sir S.
Boord, T. W. Floyer, J.
Bourne, Colonel Forester, C. T. W.
Bousfield, Major Forsyth, W.
Bright, R. Freshfield, C. K.
Brise, Colonel R. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Broadley, W. H. H. Gardner, J. T. Agg-
Bruce, hon. T. Garnier, J. C.
Burrell, Sir P. Goddard, A. L.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Goldney, G.
Callender, W. R. Gooch, Sir D.
Cameron, D. Gordon, rt. hon. E. S.
Campbell, C. Gordon, W.
Cartwright, F. Gore, J. R. O.
Cave, rt. hon. S. Gore, W. R. O.
Cawley, C. E. Gorst, J. E.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Greenall, G.
Chapman, J. Gregory, G. B.
Churchill, Lord R. Hall, A. W.
Clive, hon. Col. G. W. Halsey, T. F.
Cobbold, J. P. Hamilton, I. T.
Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B. Hamilton, Lord G.
Cordes, T. Hamilton, Marquess of
Corry, hon. H. W. L. Hamond, C. F.
Corry, J. P. Hanbury, R. W.
Cross, rt. hon. R. A. Hardcastle, E.
Cubitt, G. Hardy, rt. hon. G.
Cuninghame, Sir W. Hardy, J. S.
Cust, H. C. Hay, rt. hon. Sir J. C. D.
Heath, R. Paget, R. H.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Palk, Sir L.
Hermon, E. Pateshall, E.
Hervey, Lord A. H. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hervey, Lord F. Pell, A.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Pelly, Sir H. C.
Hill, A. S. Pemberton, E. L.
Hodgson, W. N. Peploe, Major
Hogg Sir J. M. Percy, Earl
Holford, J. P. G. Phipps, P.
Holker, Sir J. Pim, Captain B.
Holland, Sir H. T. Plunket, hon. D. R.
Holmesdale, Viscount Polhill-Turner, Capt.
Holt, J. M. Powell, W.
Home, Captain Praed, C. T.
Hood, Captain hon. A. W. A. N. Praed, H. B.
Price, Captain
Hope, A. J. B. B. Puleston, J. H.
Hunt, rt. hon. G. W. Read, C. S.
Isaac, S. Rendlesham, Lord
Jervis, Colonel Ridley, M. W.
Johnson, J. G. Ripley, H. W.
Johnstone, H. Ritchie, C. T.
Jolliffe, hon. S. Rodwell, B. B. H.
Jones, J. Roebuck, J. A.
Karslake, Sir J. Russell, Sir C.
Kavanagh, A. Mac M. Ryder, G. R.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Sackville, S. G. S.
Kingscote, Colonel Samuda, J. D'A.
Knight, F. W. Sanderson, T. K.
Knowles, T. Sandford, G. M. W.
Lacon, Sir E. H. K. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Learmonth, A. Scott, Lord H.
Legard, Sir C. Scott, M. D.
Legh, W. J. Scourfield, J. H.
Leigh, Lt.-Col. E. Selwin-Ibbetson, S: H. J.
Lennox, Lord H. G.
Leslie, J. Shute, General
Lewis, C. E. Sidebottom, T. H.
Lewis, O. Smith, F. C.
Lindsay, Col. R. L. Smith, S. G.
Lloyd, S. Smith, W. H.
Lloyd, T. E. Smollett, P. B.
Lopes, Sir M. Somerset, Lord H. R. C.
Lorne, Marquess of Spinks, Mr. Serjeant
Lowther, hon. W. Stanhope, hon. E.
Lowther, J. Stanhope, W. T. W. S.
Macartney, J. W. E. Stanley, hon. F.
Maclver, D. Starkey, L. R.
Mahon, Viscount Steere, L.
Majendie, L. A. Stewart, M. J.
Makins, Colonel Storer, G.
Malcolm, J. W. Sykes, C.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Taylor, rt. hon. Col.
March, Earl of Tennant, R.
Marten, A. G. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Mills, Sir C. H. Tollemache, W. F.
Montgomerie, R. Torr, J.
Montgomery, Sir G. G. Tremayne, J.
Morgan, hon. F. Turner, C.
Mowbray, rt. hn. J. R. Twells, P.
Naghten, A. R. Vance, J.
Nevill, C. W. Verner, E. W.
Newdegate, C. N. Wait, W. K.
Newport, Viscount Wallace, Sir R.
Nolan, Captain Walpole, hon. F.
North, Colonel Walsh, hon. A.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H. Waterhouse, S.
Watney, J.
O'Byrne, W. R. Welby, W. E.
0'Gorman, P. Wellesley, Captain
O'Neill, hon. E. Wells, E.
Onslow, D. Wethered, T. O.
Whalley, G. H. Wyndham, hon. P.
Wheelhouse, W. S. J. Wynn, C. W. W.
Whitelaw, A. Yarmouth, Earl of
Wilmot, Sir H. Yorke, hon. E.
Wilmot, Sir J. E. TELLERS.
Wolff, Sir H. D. Dyke, W. H.
Woodd, B. T. Winn, R.

Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (Definition of Army Brokerage Acts), agreed to.


rose to move the following new Clause:— (Terms of every agreement for exchange to he reported to Secretary of State.) No exchange shall he made in pursuance of this Act unless the terms of the agreement entered into between or on behalf of the officers making such exchange he reported to the Secretary of State for War before the same he authorised. The hon. Member said that, in rising to make that Motion, he was not without hope that, even at the eleventh hour, the Government would assent to it, so that at least the country would feel that these transactions should take place in the light of day. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would take good care that no harm should be done to the officers of the regiment into which the exchange took place; but he did not, apparently, intend to look very much to the terms of the exchanges. The Bill was not a little measure. Purchase had been extinguished, and the House should be very careful how it allowed either the old system, or one like it, to grow up again. If there was any doubt whatever as to the large sums to which officers of the Guards would be entitled on the passing of this Bill, it was to be supplied in many quarters. Colonel Bateson stated that as much as £20,000 had been offered for a commission in the Life-Guards. It was certain that the four Heavy Cavalry regiments which did not go to India would acquire thereby an immense pecuniary advantage, and it was absurd that they should be allowed this to the exclusion of other regiments. If the right hon. Gentleman would accept his Amendment, it would remove much of the apprehension that was now felt, and would meet many of the Amendments which had been offered on this side of the House. He was sure that without it the whole system would crop up again, and in every mess-room exchanges would again become the universal topic of conversation, as Purchase was some time ago. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would meet them half-way, and accept a Motion which would do away with a great deal of the distrust which was now felt at the operation of the Bill.

New Clause (Mr. Hayter,) brought up, and read the first time.


said, that if the hon. and gallant Member thought that he could accept this clause he must have formed an extraordinary opinion of those debates. He stated at the outset of these discussions that he neither could nor would know anything of the money which might pass between officers exchanging. The proposal would compel him at the outset to become acquainted with the terms on which every exchange was proposed to be affected. The question had been discussed over and over again in the course of the debate, and were he to acquiesce in the Amendment he might as well drop the Bill altogether.


supported the Amendment, and denied that the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) had cast any slur upon the officers of the British Army. The Secretary for War seemed to hope, by shutting his eyes to money payments, to modify in some way the transactions which would take place under this Bill. He regretted the Amendment had not been accepted, because he was sure that the Regulations which it was proposed to frame in regard to exchanges, if they were to be of any effect at all, would have to be framed in something like the spirit of the Amendment.


said, that if he supported the principle of this clause, he hoped he would not be subjected to such reflections as the Secretary for War had made in his speech, and which he believed that the right hon. Gentleman would be sorry for after. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had discussed the question from a money point of view more than any other hon. Member who had taken part in the debate, and that money formed the beginning, middle, and ending of his speech. The joke was a very good one on the part of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir Charles Russell), but it was hardly worthy of repetition by the Secretary of State for War. What was the fact? The beginning of his (Mr. Goschen's) speech was composed of extracts from the Commission, the middle of it was devoted to the Report of the Commission, and the end to the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, together with his views upon it. He thought, therefore, that the Secretary for War was hardly justified in making such a remark. The Committee might entirely rely on the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he would be uninfluenced by the amount of money which passed; but what Members on the Liberal benches were very anxious about was, that they should be informed how the system worked. A short time after it was put in operation they would ask under what circumstances exchanges had been sanctioned, and for such information as they thought the House of Commons was entitled to ask for. For these reasons, he would support the Amendment of the Member for Bath.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 158; Noes 254: Majority 96.

Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the third time upon Thursday.


said, he was not aware that there would be any further discussion on the third reading; but he presumed the right hon. Gentleman would take it at an hour when, if necessary, discussion would be practicable.


said, it would be placed second to the Artizans Dwellings Bill; but if there were any opposition, he would not bring it on at so late an hour that it could not be properly discussed.