§ MR. J. HOLMS
, in rising to call attention to the state of our Military Forces; and to move—That, in the opinion of this House, the present condition of the British Army is most unsatisfactory, and its cost extravagant; that our present practice of retaining men in barracks for Home Service longer than is necessary to make them efficient and thorough soldiers is vicious and immoral; and that, having regard to the efficient defence of the Country, it is inexpedient to maintain two rival paid forces in the United Kingdom,said, that the present unsatisfactory condition of the Army, and the probable announcement of another great scheme of Army Organization being made to Parliament, had induced him to submit to the House two plain and simple propositions which indicated a definite policy in relation to our Military Forces, that would, in his opinion, bring our Army into harmony with our present requirements and modern ideas. The discussion of them, moreover, would, he thought, promote a due appreciation of any measure which Her Majesty's Government might have to submit. The two 930 propositions to which he would call attention were such as the people at large would perfectly understand. He had submitted them to various large constituencies throughout the country, every one of which gave them a unanimous and most hearty support. These propositions were, that our present practice of retaining men in barracks for Home Service longer than was necessary to make them efficient and thorough soldiers was vicious and immoral; and that, having regard to the efficient defence of the country, it was inexpedient to maintain two rival paid Forces in the United Kingdom. He would first advert to the second point before dealing with the other. In spite of all the money we might expend upon our Military Forces, the inefficiency and waste which we at present witnessed would continue until, like reasonable people, we put an end to that unseemly rivalry which was carried on with almost unexampled vigour between the recruiting sergeants of the Militia and the recruiting sergeants of the Line. At the present moment the Army was starving for men, and in India, unfortunately, the Army was recruited by too many boys, yet the recruiting sergeants of the Militia were encouraged to enlist every possible man in the country, and they had the advantage of offering an extra bounty of 10s. to every recruit they obtained, whilst the recruiting sergeants for the Line could offer no bounty. He did not impute blame to the men or the officers of the Militia, but he complained of the system, which was at once demoralizing and costly. He believed that many hon. Members of the House were not acquainted with the exact state of the Militia. Speaking of the relative conditions of our Army and our Militia, he maintained that if the former was discontented and wanting in discipline, it was superior in both respects to the latter. With regard to recruiting and training, some doubt had been thrown on his figures out-of-doors, but the objections to them had been made in so general a way, that he had no opportunity of correcting them if they were erroneous, which, however, he did not admit. Still, in dealing with a question so large and so full of detail, it was almost impossible for any man, however careful, not at times to be misled; and, if the figures he adduced could be shown to be inaccurate, he would be glad to be corrected. 931 Those which he was about to quote were derived from official sources. In. November, 1870, certain questions were Bent to the commanding officers of Militia in the United Kingdom, with the view of securing accurate information, and one of them related to the number of recruits they then obtained annually. He took the average in Great Britain only during the three or four years previous to 1870, because the recruiting and training in Ireland were in those years both irregular. Previous to 1870, then, in Great Britain the average number of those recruits was 16,290 each year. The number of privates who came up for training, according to the War Office Returns in March, 1870, was 69,995. Taking the four years after 1870—namely, 1871–2–3–4, the number of recruits obtained on the average was 21,030; and the number of privates who attended training in 1874 was 63,857. Therefore, while the recruits obtained after 1870 were 4,700 more than they were before 1870, the number of men who came up for training was 6,000 fewer as compared with previous years. In 1872, the measure for the localization of the Forces was passed with a clear understanding that it was expressly to benefit the Militia. The desertions from the Militia, taking the years 1869 and 1874, showed a marked and extraordinary increase. The figures he would use were for the United Kingdom. The number of deserters advertized for in 1869 was 3,836; in 1874 it was 10,500; and that number was not diminishing, for in 1875 it was 10,800. Of the 63,857 men who appeared for training in 1874, 22,000 were from the Militia Reserve—a force not quite so shifting as the Hegular Militia, being engaged for five years at an annual retaining fee. So that 42,000 was the whole outcome of the 21,000 recruits they obtained annually for the Militia. When they remembered that so large a proportion of the Militia officers as three-fourths were amateurs, unacquainted with military affairs, how could it be expected that the men to be led and instructed by them should have the same confidence in them as in officers who had been made well acquainted with military training? No doubt, some of the men who joined the Militia would not join the Regular Army, but the great mass would do so, for it should be remembered that during the Crimean War 71,000 men volunteered from the Militia for the 932 Regular Army, and, further, during the only time this century when recruiting for the Militia ceased—in 1807, under Mr. Wyndham's Act—the result was highly satisfactory. The Duke of Cambridge stated in June, 1866, before the Royal Commission on Recruiting, that the moment they recruited for the Militia as they did for the Line, there was no doubt that the Militia interfered to a great extent with the Army, because many a man who now enlisted for the Militia would go into the Army. The Militia, then, was not a "feeder" for the Army, but exactly the reverse. He now came to his second proposition—namely, that the present practice of retaining men in barracks longer than was required to make them efficient soldiers was vicious and immoral. We now kept Infantry soldiers at least six years in barracks, and the Cavalry and Artillery eight years. We took recruits from 15 and upwards, when they were incapable of hard drill until they had been fed and nursed for two or three years. The late Lord Raglan had expressed a very strong opinion upon the subject. They were paying for the feeding and clothing of these recruits for six or eight years, when, under a sound system, they need only keep them two years in barracks. If they got a good recruit at 20, he ought to make a good soldier in less than two years; but the fact was, as he had said, that they kept him there for six or eight years instead of two, a system productive of idleness and mischief, it being patent to all that a long barrack life was pernicious. The best trained troops in Europe were not kept more than two years in barracks, and would any one say that it was necessary for the defence of the country that they should have soldiers trained better than the best troops in Europe? Was it necessary to have such men to fight the Maories in New Zealand, the Ashanteos in West Africa, or the Kaffirs at the Cape? It might be said that the British officer could not turn out a good soldier in two years with the present material, and perhaps he could not: but with good material why could he not do so as quickly and as well as the Prussian officer now did? He had lately received two letters from military men on this question. One of them, who had served eight years, partly in India, said he had long been of opinion that our Army was 933 a very costly and exceedingly antiquated machine, and on the whole he was pretty sure that 14 months of continuous training at high pressure would make an Englishman a thorough Infantry soldier as to the drill and the use of his weapon; while the Cavalry and the Artillery would require a somewhat longer training. He (Mr. Holms), however, did not think that quite so high pressure was necessary. The other correspondent, who had been connected with the Army in the Crimea, said officers took little or no part in the real teaching of the men—which in Prussia was considered of great importance—their time being mostly taken up with a number of trivial duties which had nothing to do with their proper business of fighting. Now, he had no doubt English officers, if we gave them the opportunity and the materials, would turn out as many and as good soldiers as any other officers in Europe. He was not arguing on a mere theory; the superiority of the Prussian system of administration was practically demonstrated. For every 10,000 men that Prussia obtained annually, she had at the end of seven years an accumulated force of 60,000 between 20 and 27 years of age, and at the end of 12 years 90,000 between 20 and 32 years of age; and during the whole of that time there were never more than from 18,000 to 20,000 privates in barracks at once. The principle of the Prussian system was accumulation, while that of ours was dispersion. The Prussians taking 100,000 recruits a-year, or just double the number of men per year that we raised for the Army and the Militia, were able to bring 940,000 into the field in the Franco-German War. In the four years—1871–2–3 and 4—we had obtained 197,000 men. He ventured to say that only three-fourths of that number, taken under a proper system of administration, would have given us a much larger and better Force than we now had. In Prussia, where conscription prevailed, everything possible was done to reduce the evils of barrack life, and why in England should we not make similar efforts in that direction? Our system in respect of morality was as barbarous as it could well be. The House ought to regard the interests of the private soldier a little more than it did. We should hear in that House any number of propositions for the social improvement of the 934 people, and that it was a sacred duty of the State to do all it could to advance the moral well-being of society; but attention ought to be directed to the moral condition of our Army, which was hourly corrupting our people, and was a standing reproach to the country. We were at the present moment keeping 80,000 or 90,000 men in enforced celibacy in barracks, while by letting our men go home at the end of two years we need never have more than 40,000 or 50,000 men in barracks at one time. As to the demoralizing effects of long subjection to the present barrack system with respect to married soldiers, they had ample evidence in the letters which had appeared in the newspapers, including letters from officers at Aldershot and other military stations. They saw the actual operation of the system, and when three or four married families had to use and live in one common room, without any separation, it was impossible that even the commonest decencies of life could be observed—the result must be of a depraving character. A major, writing from Aldershot, gave his experience on this point, and said the whole of the scandal might be removed by giving each married non-commissioned officer and his wife and family separate lodgings at 3s. 6d. a-week. The Secretary of State for War, while interposing in the matter, had admitted the evils of the present system, but did not indicate any clear remedy for them in this civilized and Christian country. The present Government was expressly pledged to promote the social and moral progress of the people, and that progress, he would remind them, depended even more upon moral than upon material conditions. With regard to the short service he advocated, he would, no doubt, be told that it was incompatible with our Indian and foreign requirements; but the more that objection was examined, the more fallacious it would be found to be. Both as regarded going out and coming home, the truth was that the present system was most hurtful both to the Home and the Foreign Service. Battalions going to India were frequently composed of men who were too young or too old to go there, and many of the men who came home from India were so enervated as to be incapable of the hard work that was required of them in this 935 country. Under our present system of neither short nor long service, every now and then it would be found that a battalion had a great number of men whose term of service was within a year or two of being run out, and that it would not pay to send them to India, so that a large proportion of the whole must be kept at home. What we should do was, to give up the practice of sending men abroad in time of peace and give the men their choice of Home or Foreign service. This course would greatly improve the character of the recruits offering, and would not in the least degree interfere with the service. If there was not the liability to be sent abroad at any moment, many would enlist under the short reserve period he proposed, and pass into the Reserve if they did not feel fitted for, or desirous of, service abroad. Many would also, who wished for adventurous life, volunteer for foreign service, and the result would be that soldiers would be found ready to go abroad to India, or the Colonies, without forcing unwilling or unfit men. Sir John Burgoyne in 1869 said—One great difficulty in enlistment for a short period is that it is quite incompatible with the East India and Colonial service, but, perhaps, it might be met by enlisting men expressly for that service. Such a system would perhaps also tend to induce many a valuable recruit to enter the service.Many working men, indeed, had told him that, no matter what price was offered, they would have nothing to do with military service so long as they were subject to be sent anywhere in time of peace. He had been told that one half of the desertions arose from the circumstance of there being no choice of service, and at the present time there was a man suffering imprisonment with hard labour who deserted because his regiment was not going to India. He enlisted for the purpose of going to India; he was not permitted to exchange, and so he deserted from his own regiment, but re-enlisted, and was sent to a regiment that was about to go to India, but he was apprehended as a deserter, and was suffering hard labour really because he wished to choose his service, thus showing that the theory and practice of exchanges were not understood in the case of the common soldier. On the other hand, men were sent to India who did not wish 936 to go. He recently received a letter from one of his constituents, who complained that his son, having been enlisted at the age of 14 years and 11 months, was about to be sent to India at the age of 15 years and 8 months, and that he had vainly tried to obtain his discharge. The recruiting sergeant, according to the boy, had told him not to give his proper age. It was true that this was a one-sided statement, and that from inquiries he had made at the War Office it appeared the sergeant denied the boy's story; but the case illustrated the evil side of the present system of foreign service. He had had some correspondence with the War Office on the matter, and they said they would get this youth back from India. The father offered to pay £30 to get his son off, but this was refused, it being said that the lad could be bought off in India. The father of this lad had another son in the Army, who was enlisted at the age of 14, and taken out to India under 17. "But," said the letter he had from the boy's father, "I need not trouble you about him, as his health is so broken down that he is coming home." In 1871 an opinion was expressed by that House, on the Motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), that no soldier should be sent to India under 20 years of age, "if practicable," the two latter words being added at the suggestion of the Minister for War; but, as he had shown, very young men were still sent out, and some who were unwilling to go. Previous to our taking over India, out of 20,000 soldiers sent between 18S0 and 1858, only four were under 18 years of age, and these four were discovered to be band boys for the Governor of Bombay. This was a question of great importance to India as well as to ourselves. The Army in India cost no less than £16,000,000 a-year, and he contended that it stood more in need of reform than our Army at home. It was time to think not only how a reduction of expenditure could be made, but how our ranks could be better filled, and he regretted to learn from some remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War the other day, that the time was yet far distant when that might be expected. If they did not choose to look at the condition of the Army in India, he could assure the House that the people of India 937 were looking at and speaking and writing about it, in proof of which he would quote from an article in The Bombay Gazette of October 25 last year, stating that the interests of military and civil wire-pullers in England were opposed to the formation of a local Army for India, the result being that India had boys for soldiers, who were buried by thousands, when she ought to have men. That showed the subject was not escaping notice in India. He was not in favour of a local army; but unless some reforms were instituted he, for one, was prepared to vote for it in preference to the present system. What, however, he said was that there should be a choice of service. He thought the present system was eminently dishonest towards India. If India was to be recruited for by our War Office, we ought to give up recruiting for the Militia; or, if not, allow India to recruit for herself. He believed the Indian and Colonial Military Service might be made the most attractive the world ever saw by giving the soldiers some change, as was given, for example, to telegraph clerks. A gentleman connected with a Telegraph Company informed him that it had been found that five years in India was as much as could be imposed on a clerk having regard to his health, and that clerks were changed from India to Gibraltar, Malta, and Ceylon, thus giving them a choice of service which made it attractive to them. As to the Indian Army, its position had been greatly changed since the Mutiny. Before that, the proportion of English troops to the Native Army was 42,000, as against 268,000; whereas now there were 60,000 English to 120,000 Native soldiers. The question arose, how they were to get their men? They should get them much in the same way as Cromwell got his men. His army was composed upon what he called "his new model." Cromwell said—"I want good soldiers and good men—honest, sober Christians, who expect to be used like men." Cromwell gave fair pay, but placed treatment and terms before everything. They might raise their pay as much as they liked; until they changed their treatment and their terms, it was all no use. In Cromwell's time the agricultural labourer was paid 4s. a-week, and the artizan 6s. a-week; Cromwell offered 7s., and he had the choice. They had had many changes in the 938 Army lately, and he thought it had become worse and worse. They should begin by securing better men by changing the whole system, and by increased pay, and if they carried out the plan he proposed, they would not have so many men in barracks as they had at present. As to the cost of obtaining men, any hon. Member could calculate it for himself; but if they had 40,000 or 50,000 less men in barracks, the saving in food, clothing, and pay would be considerable. There would be a saving of £1,200,000 in the abolition of the Militia, and there would be a great reduction in the cost of hospitals and prisons, and in the amount paid in pensions. Taking into account all these reductions on the existing expenditure, if they gave to the soldier pay equal to what they paid the police or the commoner class of railway servants, he believed they would have a large profit on the present system. He wished, in the next place, to say a few words with respect to the Amendment which the hon. and gallant General opposite (General Shute) was about to propose. From its wording one might suppose that our barracks were most admirable schools of discipline and morality, and that "sweetness and light" at once descended on any bad character who might enter them. Facts, however, he thought, proved, that such an idea was delusive; for at the very moment the hon. and gallant Member was handing in his Notice of Amendment the Inspector General of Military Prisons was giving in his Report for 1874. It appeared from this Report that whilst the average number of our Army at home was 93,000, there were during 1874 no fewer than 9,114 sentences by courts martial, and minor punishments by commanding officers to the amount of 162,484. If reform did not come after all these punishments it was very remarkable; but it would appear there were still some incorrigible characters in the Army, although he found by the Report that in six years 10,525 men had been discharged as bad characters; under these circumstances, it could, in his opinion, hardly be fairly contested that the barracks of the United Kingdom were good schools of morality and discipline. The hon. and gallant General, he might add, went on to state that the fact of our having varied forces tended to utilize for military 939 service a larger proportion of the population than would otherwise be found available, but he had entirely left out of sight the Reserve, which was the force to which the nations of Europe were mainly looking to year after year. He was quite prepared to agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman if the Militia were left out of the List, and the reserve put in their place. In conclusion, he could only thank the House for the patience it had shown in listening to him, and would move the Resolution which stood upon the Paper in his name.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words" in the opinion of this House, the present condition of the British Army is most unsatisfactory, and its cost extravagant; that our present practice of retaining men in barracks for Home Service longer than is necessary to make them efficient and thorough soldiers is vicious and immoral; and that, having regard to the efficient defence of the Country, it is inexpedient to maintain two rival paid forces in the United kingdom,"—(Mr. John Holms,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ GENERAI SHUTE
, who had the following Amendment on the Paper, which the Forms of the House prevented him from moving—namely,That, in the opinion of this House, the admirable regimental discipline carried out in the barracks of the United Kingdom has tended to reform the intemperate and immoral habits of any bad characters who may have been occasionally recruited for the Army; and that in this country, where military service is entirely voluntary, the fact of having varied descriptions of force, such as the Regular Army, Militia, Volunteers, and Yeomanry Cavalry, tends to utilise for military service a larger portion of the population than would be otherwise available,said, that so far as he could understand from the speech of the hon. Gentleman, his desires were to see maintained a very small and expensive, and, therefore, as he argued, a very good, Army. He (General Shute) thought, however, that he should be able to show that any additional money which the country might be disposed to incur in that direction could be better laid out than in the way which had been suggested by the hon. Gentleman, who proposed to dispense with the oldest and most constitutional force we had, and that which was the very basis of our military system 940 —the Militia. That was a policy which, he felt assured, the House would never sanction; for although the Militia in some degree interfered with the recruiting market, yet in cases of emergency the Army was fed from that force. It was said that Wellington in his last campaign in Belgium fought with young men, and fought well. It was true it was a young Army as regarded soldiers, but not as to men; because they were drawn from the Militia, and in a great measure Waterloo was won by Militia soldiers. Into the question of recruiting he would not on the present occasion enter, because he thought the Resolution was premature; and, besides, he hoped to hear the views of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War upon it when he brought forward the Army Estimates. He had given Notice of the Amendment which, by the Forms of the House, he was precluded from moving, chiefly because he did not think it advisable that the extreme terms of the Resolution which had just been laid before the House should remain unchallenged. In that Resolution it was implied that our barracks were schools of vice and immorality, but in making such a statement he could, as an old commanding officer, assure the hon. Member that he was entirely in error. If barrack discipline was in the state the hon. Member for Hackney described, the prejudice of parents against their children enlisting would be fully justified, and police magistrates would be only discharging their duty in reprimanding young men for enlisting, and the owners of concert halls and theatres would do right in preventing non-commissioned officers from occupying reserved seats in their places of amusement. There was no subject in which the commanding officer of a regiment was more interested than in the recruiting of his men and their after conduct. They were not only taught their duty as soldiers, but everything was done to improve their social character, and in a great many cases these endeavours were attended with success. It was too much the fashion of those who had never served in the Regular Army to think that when recruits were brought up before the commanding officer for trivial offences, they were sworn at and punished; but so far from that being the case, it was the invariable rule at first for the colonel to advise 941 them and endeavour to get them out of their bad ways by persuasion and advice before punishing them. He himself remembered when as the result of various alterations which were made at the time, he found that he had, in his regiment 120 new men who kept bad hours, and who frequented music-halls and public-houses. He found the reason was that they were led away by their old boon companions in Manchester, where the regiment was quartered, and he therefore sent them in small batches as they were dismissed their drills to Northampton, where a squadron of the regiment was stationed, exchanging them as far as possible with older soldiers who had been enlisted in the South of England, and the result of the change was that so good an effect was produced upon them, that others appealed to him to be sent there out of the way of temptation, and they from being-very loose characters had become thoroughly reformed and good soldiers, and therefore he had some doubts as to the success of the localization system recommended by a Committee of clever men, but although it was a regimental matter, not one of them had commanded a regiment. Indeed, a regiment ought, he contended, to be a school of social reform as well as of military discipline. As to the Prussian soldiers, he denied that they had ever been more highly disciplined than the English. He had been at the Prussian Manœuvres three times, and had narrowly watched them, and he must emphatically deny that the discipline was in any way superior to that of the old and present Armies of England. They were, however, very fine men, and were able to march and work well. How long did the hon. Member opposite think it took to make an efficient soldier? The hon. Gentleman was right as regarded drill. Drill, especially foot drill, was, with some intelligent men, a matter of a few weeks, but discipline was a matter of habit, and was not to be acquired in a day. Moreover, discipline was less easily acquired in a free country like England than it was in a despotic country, where the inhabitants were comparatively slaves. In proof of what he said concerning discipline he might refer to the Circular lately issued by the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief. That Circular, if justifiable, would never have been necessary in the old days of our 942 long service soldiers. The petty insubordination of which he warned the House last Session had been entirely consequent on youth in the Army. He did not, however, mean to say that he did not advocate short service in some way—except for the Cavalry—because the great desideratum was an effective reserve, and this we could not have without short service. As regarded recruiting, he hoped no theories would induce the House to part with our Militia. We ought rather to endeavour to utilize the various forces we possessed. The Militia might interfere with the recruiting market; but, in an emergency, the Militia would feed the Army. There was an immense number of men who would serve in the Militia, but who would not serve in the Line, and who would therefore be lost to the country for military service in case the Militia were abolished. Again, there were many Volunteers who would not serve in the Militia or in the Line, and it was desirable to retain their services in a military capacity; while, with regard to the Yeomanry Cavalry, there was not a man among them who would serve except as a mounted yeoman. Many people depreciated the Yeomanry Cavalry; but if the recommendations of the Committee of last Session were attended to, it would become a most admirable Force of rifle light Cavalry. The system of short service would cause us to require a vastly increased number of recruits, and therefore the Service ought to be rendered more attractive. In the case of the Army as he had said on a former occasion we must be prepared, either in purse or person, to pay largely, and if the latter course was adopted it must be by a revised Ballot Act, in which the rich and the poor man must be equally treated. With respect to the employment of more money, he would repeat the following suggestions which he made in the House last Session. Increased pay would at first only increase temptation, and the Government would still be outbid in the market by the great employers of labour. Then there must be no uncertainties, for these the men especially detested. A man must not merely have a really free kit and a free ration, but as he became a more practised soldier he must have a considerable increase of pay from year to year, and this had better be re- 943 served pay. This would be done on the principle of paying for skilled labour. Non-commissioned officers should have a decided increase of pay, and a further annual increase up to. 12 years' service. Then more fuel and more light should be allowed for barrack rooms, so that the men might have warmth combined with ventilation. When men or noncommissioned officers were allowed to go on furlough they should have full pay, and ration money while absent, and a warrant to go and return free of expense. At present many soldiers returned to their friends as paupers, instead of being examples of the advantages of military service, and from not having money to pay their way back remained absent without leave, and perhaps finally deserted. Another of his suggestions was, that every man who had faithfully served the queen should at the age of 65 receive a pension of not less than 1s. a-day, receiving it one year earlier for every year he had served with credit in the Army, so that if he had served five years he would get it at 60, and so on; for nothing had a more discouraging effect on enlistment than the fact of men who had been soldiers and who were past work being reduced to the workhouse. Last, not least, if we wanted to get recruits of 20 or 21 years of age, the Army must be made a stepping-stone to civil employment. With reference to the choice of quarters, he would suggest that the men should be at liberty to choose their battalions, instead of being obliged to enlist in linked battalions, and thus not knowing whether they would be required to go abroad or serve at home. Desertion was a fraud on the public, and in the United Kingdom it ought to be treated chiefly by the civil magistrate. Soldiers ought no longer to march handcuffed deserters about the country. If, however, the power of the purse should fail, then we must come to the person. Supposing that England were the most despotic country in the world we could not adopt conscription. No doubt it was the duty of every man in case of necessity to defend his hearth and home, but you could not say that he must go to India or garrison our Colonies. However, in case of necessity, we might ballot for the Militia under a revised Ballot Act, the present one being cumbrous, useless, and most unjust. If 944 the Militia did not give its quota to the Line, a Ballot should be taken; but this, of course, would only be done in time of actual warfare. At present, a substitute was easily procured by a rich man, whereas a poor man had no power to obtain one. The true principle was, that he who possessed most wealth should contribute most in some form or other to the defence of the country. In conclusion, for the sake of recruiting if not from higher motives, he would appeal to hon. Members not to speak in disparaging terms of an Army which, in cases of emergency, had ever served the country gallantly and well.
§ SIR RIOHARD GILPIN
said, that a large number of men who entered the Militia had never any intention of going into the Regular Service. There were also men who joined the Volunteers without any view of entering the Army, but who took a liking to soldiering and afterwards went into the Line. The hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Hackney had been stumping the country as a great military reformer; but when he undertook to enlighten public opinion he should be careful as to his language and accurate as to his facts. The hon. Gentleman had declared that the Militia was a gigantic sham and a toy for country gentlemen. Now, the Duke of Wellington, speaking upon the Militia Bill in the other House, testified to the value of Militia regiments in the Great War, and declared that they were as fit for service and in as high a state of discipline as any he ever saw in his life, even among Her Majesty's troops. The Duke of Wellington had Militia regiments volunteering bodily for the field. During the Crimean War, from January 1, 1854, to December 31, 1858, the number of volunteers from the Militia into the Regular Service was nearly 40,000, while several Militia regiments volunteered for foreign service, and thus released our Mediterranean garrisons for service in the field. No man did more to convert the raw material of the Militia into the manufactured article than General Knollys, and when examined before the Royal Commission respecting the general efficiency of the Militia regiments as to drill and conduct in camp, he stated that they were in as high a state of efficiency as it was possible for Militia regiments to be, and were as good as 945 they could be both as to efficieney and conduct. This was the service which the hon. Gentleman called a gigantic sham, while the officers, he said, were military amateurs. Now, when men did not know much of a profession, they were called quacks. He did not use the word offensively or apply it to the hon. Member alone, but to others who fancied they know a great deal about a Service to which they had never belonged, and about which they really knew little. Within the last few years, whether for good or for evil, our Service had been revolutionized, and, having spent a large sum upon the alteration, we were compelled to give it a fair trial. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would consider only what was most for the advantage of the Service, and would not adopt the nostrums of these gentlemen, for if he did he would certainly destroy the patient.
§ MR. PEASE
said, he wished to comment on the assertion of the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (General Shute) that regimental discipline had tended to reform the immoral habits of many bad characters. For his own part, he saw nothing in the Returns which had been placed in their hands within the last few days which bore out that allegation. That Return showed that on an average, there were 186,000 men in the Army, of these 161,000 men were rank and file. That was the average during the year 1874; of this number there were men of whom any country might be proud. The Returns showed that the men who had good-conduct badges or medals were no fewer than 88,227 men, leaving 72,000 rank and file who had not received good conduct badges, or medals, or gratuities. What was the condition of the rank and file of those 72,000 men? He perfectly agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton, who said that the officers for many years past had been devoting a great deal of time to their men, and that the Army and the country had a great deal to thank the officers for in supplying the wants and necessities of the men, and adding to the comforts of their families. But what he was going to say was this—that in spite of all this there were 72,000 men who were not classed as good-conduct men. Of the 72,000 men, 19,900 had been before a Court-martial; 11,000 946 men, or 16 per cent had been actually in prison; and they had had 1,800 degraded from the ranks. Therefore, 27 per cent of these 72,000 men had been tried before a Court-martial, and they had had in this state of the Army 11,000 imprisoned, or 16 per cent. Then, again, of these 72,000 men they had 24,000 of them fined for being drunk, or 44 per cent; and 49,700 fines for being drunk had been levied on 24,000 men, or, on the average, each man was fined twice for being drunk in the course of the year. It therefore appeared that one-third of the non good-conduct men had been fined for being drunk. Then they had got 255,000 minor offences, but many of these were very trivial, and he was sorry that they should have appeared in the Returns to give an exaggerated idea of the want of discipline. In 1871, there were 35,000 men fined for being drunk; in 1872, there were 26,000 men; in 1873, there were 23,000 men; and in 1874, there were 24,000 men. He did not see how the House could go with his hon. and gallant Friend in saying that the morals could be improved by barrack life. Of the 17,000 men who joined in 1872, 4,500 had deserted, or 19 per cent; in 1873, 33 per cent deserted; and in 1874, 27 per cent. Out of the 30,000 men who had enisted during 1874, only 20,000 men had passed into the lines. That showed the class of recruits, when one-third of the men who offered themselves for enlistment were wanting in those physical qualities to fit them for entrance into the ranks. Then, out of the 30,000 men 2,500 had paid "smart" money, or one guinea, in order that they might get away from the Army, into which they had been entrapped or led into unawares by the persuasions of recruiting officers. His hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) was perfectly justified when he said that the condition of the Army was most unsatisfactory. What was the reason of this condition of the Army? He had endeavoured once or twice to urge that they were keeping up large armies in time of peace, when there was no inducement to men to join, as a man must join the Army for two reasons—for patriotism or for a living. In time of peace patriotism could not be the inducement. If they expected a man to join for the sake of a living, then the pay was quite insufficient. But the 947 country was not prepared to keep a large and extravagant Army, and they were driven to the necessity of getting men for the national defence, or to be sent abroad who were not such as could be relied upon. They recruited from a low class of the population, and when they got them they were put into barracks, and those barracks were the centre, not of virtue and innocence, but of immorality and crime. The statements in the Blue Book showed that the condition of these men was most deplorable, and hon. Members could see every night as they left the House of Commons that the barracks were far from being a place where men were likely to improve their morals. With regard to that branch of the Service which the hon. and gallant Member for Bedfordshire (Sir Richard Gilpin) had so often taken up the cudgels for—namely, the Militia, he had to say that so far as the majority of the Militia regiments were concerned, that he believed that they suffered most from being let loose in towns. He knew that there were some very distinguished exceptions; but in many places where they went to the time of their being quartered there was a time which the decent inhabitants looked forward to with dread, and the breaking up of the regiments made the place "a perfect hell upon earth." This was a phrase he had heard made use of many times in reference to the Militia, or he should not have used it. The Army was in an unsatisfactory condition, and no hon. Member could assert the contrary with any truth. He knew that his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War was desirous of freeing the Army from these faults and, vices, but they knew the difficulties with which he had to deal. His own opinion was, that the system must be utterly wrong which produced such a state of things. He laid these facts and figures before the House in the hope that they might lead to something being done in this matter to produce a more satisfactory state of things.
§ SIR WALTER BARTTELOT
said, that both the House and the country were indebted to the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) for having brought this Motion forward at the present time. He did not concur in the suggestion which had been made that the hon. Member should have waited 948 until after the Army Estimates had been introduced; because, had he done so, he would not have had the same fair opportunity of stating his opinions on the subject, which he conscientiously believed to be correct ones. He could not say that he concurred in the statement of the hon. Member that the people throughout the country adopted his views; it was the general rule that meetings passed all the resolutions which were submitted to them. He was bound to tell the hon. Member that he had failed to make out his case in two material points—in the first place, he had failed to show that the Army, although perhaps not exactly in the condition it ought to be in, imperatively needed the particular changes in its constitution proposed by him; and, secondly, he failed to show that the country was prepared to abolish the old constitutional force of the Militia, which had rendered such service in times gone by. The hon. Member relied mainly on two points—that to keep men for home service in barracks longer than was necessary was a bad and immoral principle, and that it was inexpedient to maintain two rival Forces in the United Kingdom. But when the hon. Member attacked our present Army system, he should remember that that system was just now in a transition state, and we must wait to see what effect those reforms so lately introduced would have upon our system. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, had, with the fairness that distinguished him, endeavoured to carry into effect the new system introduced by his Predecessor, and he believed that the right hon. Gentleman was even going a step beyond the lines that had been laid down for his guidance. For his own part, although he had originally opposed many of the proposals which had been carried out, he felt bound to bow to the decision of the majority, and he should now do his best to facilitate the reforms so determined upon being carried out in the Army. The right hon. Gentleman, acting upon a similar principle, was doing much to ameliorate and to better the condition of the Army. If he rightly understood the new Army Estimates, the right hon. Gentleman was going to increase the pay of the noncommissioned officers, who were the main support of the Army, and to give deferred pay to the men, so that when 949 they loft the service they would have a little money wherewith to start in life. The hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) had, in the first place, demanded increased pay for the men, and had then proceeded to complain of the increase of drunkenness in the Army. The conclusion at which he (Sir Walter Barttelot) had arrived was that, while it was desirable that the pay of the soldier should be increased, it would be most mischievous to give him increased pay while he was soldiering, and therefore the best form in which he could receive it was in that of deferred pay. The right hon. Gentleman was moving on in these lines, and therefore he must to a certain extent be satisfying the hon. Member for Hackney. Another and a very important proposal which the right hon. Gentleman was going to bring forward was to increase the force of the regiments ready to embark for foreign service. He would ask the hon. Member for Hackney, who was so anxious to have a very small number of men in our barracks, what would happen if the men who formed the Army of Reserve were not forthcoming in the hour of danger and emergency, if we had not a certain number of regiments ready to go to any part of the world at a moment's notice. The hon. Member for Hackney was most anxious that we should have an Army formed of a superior class of men, who would be free from the restrictions that were imposed upon soldiers. On that subject he could do no better than refer the hon. Member to the letters written by Archdeacon Wright, one of the Chaplains to the Forces, setting forth the grievances of the soldiers, which were well worth the serious consideration of the Secretary for War. The hon. Member thought men should not be enlisted unless they were of a certain ago—20 he believed was the hon. Member's favourite age; and a very distinguished authority—a gallant Lord who had seen much service and had written a most able article in a Review"—said that men should not be enlisted until they were 21; that they should learn a trade first, and then go into the Army; and, having served their proper time in the Army, should then return to their trade. That was a point which he (Sir Walter Barttelot) wished to be argued in the House of Commons, because that was a place in which opinions could be expressed as to the 950 effect of such a proposal. He served 14 or 15 years in the Army, and he knew well what class of recruits came during that time. He had turned his attention for the many years he had been in that House to Army matters, and he ventured to assert that if we said no man should be received in the Army till he was 21, we should signally fail to get any recruits whatever. His firm belief was, that when a man was once established in a business or a trade he would not give up that trade or business for the small pay and allowances that were got in the Army. Could it be thought that a man who had been his own master till he came of ago would be able to learn that discipline which was so essential and which had never failed in the Army in whatever situation it was placed? He hoped that the Resolution to which the House had come, that soldiers should not be sent to India until they were at least 20 years of age, would be strictly carried out; but in this country younger men must be accepted, or the House must be prepared to pay for the Army an amount which the country would never sanction. The hon. Member said that a man should be at liberty to choose whether he would serve in India or in England, and that the men should be able to exchange from one regiment to another, just as the officers did. He (Sir Walter Barttelot) had not the slightest objection to such choice being given; but he had every objection to a soldier, after he had joined one battalion, and went to a place and found he disliked it, being at liberty to got himself transferred to some other place which he thought he might like better. To go beyond giving a man his choice to serve at home or abroad would be detrimontal to the interests of the Army. We heard some time ago of dual government in the Army. That was discussed in the House, which was not content till it had established the Secretary of State for War as supreme with, regard to the Army at home. Why should not the Secretary of State for War be supreme also with regard to the Indian Army, instead of having to refer everything to the Secretary of State for India, when often between the two authorities great injustice was done to the soldier? Nor had he altered his opinion that it would be better in the interests of the Army that troops should be sent to India for five or six years, instead of being 951 kept there so long as 12 years. That arrangement would preserve the esprit de corps of the Army in India, and it could be more easily carried out, now that we had got the Suez Canal. As to the present condition of the Army, he observed, by a recent Return, that it was only 425 below its Establishment strength, taking all the services. The Cavalry were 474 above their Establishment strength, the Infantry of the Line 928 above, the Artillery 1,000 below, and the Foot Guards 400 below their Establishment strength; notwithstanding the difficulty of recruiting, especially for the Foot Guards and the Artillery, occasioned by the use of large guns, which required taller and bigger men than formerly to handle them. With reference to the Militia, if that Force were abolished one of the main sources of recruiting would be abolished with it. There were a class of men that would not in the first instance go into the Army, but would go into the Militia. The Returns from the Depot Centres showed how largely the Army was recruited from the Militia. From one of the Depot Centres between June, 1873—when it was established—and December, 1875, 661 recruits were passed. 423 of those men were enlisted on the spot, and 238 came from the Militia. That showed that the Militia was doing its work with regard to the recruiting of the Army. He did not agree with what fell from his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brighton (General Shute) about the Ballot. "We were not prepared for the Ballot. The noble and gallant Lord who wished to send men to India, at the age of 21 was in favour of the Ballot. He (Sir Walter Barttelot) was bound to say that, unless some extraordinary circumstance arose, he believed that neither that House nor the country would in any way support the Ballot. In case of necessity, our soldiers should be liable to serve at home or abroad. He exceedingly regretted not to see in his place a noble Lord who strongly advocated the Ballot for the Militia. But in advocating that he said, "Let the Volunteers no longer receive anything from the State." The noble Lord knew perfectly well that if we had the Ballot for the Militia, and continued to pay the expenses of the Volunteers, it would be as in the olden times—every one would go into the Volunteers. That would not do. He wished to make a 952 remark with regard to the return to this country of men in the Indian service. The country had recently manifested great interest on behalf of slaves, but it was not equally excited in the interest of men who had served it in all parts of the world. It was discreditable to this country that the reliefs from India were so badly treated. Some of them absolutely died from the way in which they were dealt with when they arrived at home. They had heard lately of the chain of military posts which we possessed in Malta, Gibraltar, and elsewhere, and he thought that if men coming from a hot climate were stationed for a time in those places, something might be done to prevent their catching those diseases which they now often suffered from when they came homo. He was sure the Secretary of State for War would not neglect a matter of that kind, when the interests of the English soldier were at stake. He would only add that he was satisfied the right hon. Gentleman would do his best, as he was bound to do, not to increase the expenditure on the Army, for that expenditure, as they knew, was extremely heavy, although it was an insurance and the price this rich country paid for that which was the greatest blessing in the world—an Army voluntarily enlisted; and also to see that our Army, though costly, was yet effective, and ready to be used whenever necessary. Prussia—to which the hon. Member for Hackney had referred—was suffering from the loss of strength she had sustained and from the emigration resulting from that compulsory service which her sons would not stand; and he asked this free country whether it was not worth while paying any amount of money to keep ourselves out of such a difficulty as that.
§ CAPTAIN W. E. PRICE
said, that in none of his speeches and writings on the subject had the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) alluded to the Landwehr in the Prussian Army, although he had described at some length the German military system generally. The hon. Member seemed to have forgotten that the Landwehr was not a Reserve at all, but an auxiliary force like our Militia. The Militia was well suited to the country, and recent experience had shown the value of a military system, combining an Army, a Reserve, a Militia, and Auxiliary Forces, and he 953 believed that it would be a great mistake to attempt to upset it, and to substitute for it merely a local Army, instead of endeavouring to improve it as much, as possible. He knew that many men joined the Militia because, as they said, it was the cheapest method of getting change of air and healthy exercise. He admitted that it was not as perfect as it might be, but it could be made so easily and cheaply.
§ COLONEL EGERTON LEIGH
said, the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) had not thrown much light on the subject before the House. What the hon. Member's proposals were likely to produce was a maximum of expense and a minimum of efficiency. If his plans were adopted, the effect would be that they would either have no Army at all, or an Army so costly that everybody would cry out against it. The scheme of the hon. Member, who had studied the subject as a civilian, and not as a soldier looked at it, reminded one of the old saying that old maids' children and bachelors' wives were perfection. He (Colonel Leigh) was entirely opposed to the Ballot. Our Army was the only one in Europe that was kept up entirely by voluntary enlistment, and the introduction of the Ballot would be utterly opposed to English feeling. The French proverb "You cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs "was applicable to the point. If you wanted soldiers, you must pay for them. Good pay would make the Army attractive. If we were attacked the chances were we should have something better than the Ballot—namely, the universal rising of an enormous number of men who knew something about military duties from having been in the Army, the Militia, and the Volunteers. One admirable measure that loomed very near was an increase of the pay of the non-commissioned officers—a most deserving class of men, who were now very inadequately rewarded. He would go further, and add pensions to those non-commissioned officers who had served a certain number of years. With regard to the Militiamen, they supplied many to the Regular Army, and many of them volunteered for the Crimean War, and fought well there. He hoped that body would not be destroyed, but that it would be improved. He remembered an old Militia- 954 man coming to re-enlist, who, in answer to his question why he wished to join again, said soldiering was good for his health, and that he did not get drunk more than once a month while in the service. He would admit, however, that some men joined who did not show a taste for the occupation. It was quite news to him that boys were sent to India. The old plan he remembered was, that every man underwent inspection by the surgeon, and unless he was found quite sound in wind and fit for a hot climate, he was not allowed to go to India. Barracks in India had been put in wrong places, and due care had not been taken of the health of the troops. He had seen the Army improved in regard to officers, men, and every arrangement since he joined as a boy, although when he then joined things were thought to be perfect. They were still improving in every sort of way; and, whatever Government was in, the head of the Army never neglected it. If a mistake was made it arose from chance, not from wilfulness. As to the suggestion that regiments should be brought homo from India complete in five years, it should be remembered that many men got accustomed to India and their constitutions adapted to its climate; and such men were worth a dozen soldiers whom they might send out. The hon. Member for Hackney asked why the Government of the country kept up so large a standing Army, and the answer was, we could not do otherwise. Our business was to look carefully at every expense incurred for the Army, but never to treat it with a sparing hand. If we did, the fault would recoil upon ourselves, for it must be remembered that we did not possess the appliances which Continental countries did for raising their enormous Armies. With a great country like India depending upon us, there must necessarily be a large draw upon our resources of men, but that should be willingly met in order to keep up our connection with that great and glorious possession.
§ SIR HENRY HAVELOCK
said, he was glad his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) had brought forward the question at an early period of the Session, before the Government introduced the Army Estimates. At the same time, he should be compelled to divide against the Motion, because he 955 could not assent to the proposition that our system was vicious and immoral, or to the suggestion that, having regard to the efficient defence of the country, it was inexpedient to maintain two rival paid Forces in the United Kingdom. His hon. Friend had disclaimed all military knowledge; but he was at all events master of that part of the military art which consisted in changing his ground, for there was a considerable difference between the speeches he had delivered in the country and the moderate statement he had made to the House. In many particulars, however, his arguments were still open to question, and he should endeavour to bring his hon. Friend back to the question. His hon. Friend compared our military system with that of Prussia, but any comparison between the two was impossible, for it must be remembered that conscription was resorted to in that country, whereas our Army was filled by voluntary enlistment. Then, as to the question of amount, his hon. Friend said that the Prussian Army was maintained at one-eighth of the cost of ours, but he did not tell them of the keep and pay of the Prussian as compared with the British soldier. This was a subject which had long occupied his (Sir Henry Havelock'e) attention, and he had also been making recent inquiries on the subject—indeed, he was as well acquainted with the details of their system as of our own. The cost of the keep of the Prussian soldier was 4 a-day, as compared with 1s. 6d. a-day on the part of the British soldier. Beyond that, our soldiers received plentiful rations, which might perhaps in some respects be improved, but which, at all events, were sufficient to keep them in vigour. The Prussian soldier had an allowance of only one meal a-day, and that comprised no more than two-thirds of what was given to our men. For the rest of his food the Prussian soldier was maintained principally by the contributions of his friends, and that was an indirect tax on the country of which it was difficult to calculate the amount. It was true that his hon. Friend had addressed audiences in the country which had shown themselves favourable to him; but they were totally incapable of forming an opinion upon the facts brought under their notice. The hon. Gentleman compared disadvantageously the position of our Army now with what it was in 956 1870. His (Sir Henry Havelock's) observation led him to a totally different result. The supply of men was not so great as he should like it to be, but in other respects the position of our Army was decidedly better than it had been. We had more battalions at home, and they were in some respects stronger. We had a Reserve of 35,000 men. As to our Artillery it had been not less than doubled—he might almost say that it had increased two-thirds. There was a diminution of crime and of desertion, and in every respect there had been material and great improvement. In comparison with that, the Prussian Army had lost an enormous number of men by desertion in one year, many of whom had never returned. Again, the hon. Member's comparisons between the Prussian Reserve and our own were fallacious. If the Prussian authorities paid for their Reserves what we had to pay for ours, the cost to them would be something more than £8,000,000 a-year. As to the competition in recruiting between the Militia and the Line, no doubt they did compete, but not to the extent represented. One-half or two-thirds of the men in the Militia were earning good wages, and went out for training as a sort of holiday, but they could not devise any means which would bring these men into the Regular Army. There were consequently about one-third of the men in the Militia who might be induced to transfer their services to the Line. That idea had already been put in practice, and met with considerable success. He therefore thought it would be a most injudicious thing to interfere with the existing Militia, unless they were prepared with something to take its place. He could not concur in the statement that the Militia was a useless toy. When the Militia were embodied some of them were almost equal to the Line. There was scarcely a perceptible difference between the men of the Militia and of the Line when they were brigaded together. Between 1805 and 1815 the Militia contributed 110,000 men to the Line; during the Crimean War they had contributed 71,000 men; and they' had since contributed a fair quota. The Militia had an important function to discharge in time of war, besides supplying recruits to the Regular Army, for if emergencies arose our highly-instructed Regular Army would be ready to be transferred abroad or to 957 the Colonies, and then the Militia would to a great extent come into their place. He could find no confirmation of the statement which the hon. Member for Hackney had advanced in his book, that the function of the Militia was practically gone, because the Volunteers were fit to take their place. The Volunteer Gazette, the best authority, perhaps, that could be quoted on the subject, did not take that view of the fitness of the Volunteers to replace the Militia, but had pronounced a different opinion. "We had some 160,000 Volunteers, of whom he wished to speak with every term of respect and admiration, but that Force would not enable the Militia to be dispensed with. The Militia supplied a most important intermediate force between the Regular Army and the Volunteers. He gave his hon. Friend credit for his wish to reduce expenses as far as possible, and he had contended that if his suggestions were followed, there would be a great diminution of expense. But he (Sir Henry Havelock) could not assent to some of the views put forward by his hon. Friend, such, for instance, as the proposal to reduce the standing Army at home to 68,000 men, and if they came to examine the way in which it was proposed that these should be distributed, they would come to some remarkable results. One result would be that the battalions would be so reduced that when the attempt should be made to enlarge them, the far greater portion of the men would be entirely new to the work. Neither could he agree with the hon. Member in the apprehensions with which he looked upon the condition of the Army in India, his own information having led him to an entirely different conclusion. He should prefer that our Forces in England and in India were a little more equally balanced, but the hon. Member had spoken of a state of things which had now ceased to exist. He could not concur in the Motion of his hon. Friend. If his hon. Friend could convince any considerable portion of the House that the results would be realized which he anticipated from the measures he proposed, he should be prepared to give them his cordial support, but having subjected them to the most thorough investigation, he could not in the slightest degree follow his hon. Friend.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, the hon. and gallant Member for Mid-Cheshire 958 (Colonel Egerton Leigh) had spoken of bachelors' wives and old maids' children, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman seemed to forget that we had a civilian at the head of the Army now, and so long as that was the case no one could fairly object to civilians' criticism. Indeed, the Army itself might now, in the hon. Member's sense, be regarded as an old maid's child, seeing that it had a civilian at the head of it. An institution was never greatly reformed from within except after free criticism from without, and the Army was no exception to that. As a rule, the greatest reforms in the Army had come either from civilians or from civilian criticism. He had boon glad to hear the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot) speak so strongly and so decidedly against balloting for the Militia, and so far he had exactly expressed the feeling of the country on that point. The country was not ripe for the Militia Ballot, for the country knew that when that system was in force it never was a fair and proper thing. In fact, in the old days, when we had Ballot for the Militia, those who could escaped, and nine-tenths of the men who served were substitutes. It was, therefore, a Ballot—not for those who were to serve, but for those who were to escape paying for a substitute. It was practically taxation by Ballot, and for a return of that system he was sure the country was not ready. The hon. and gallant Baronet had said further that to abolish the Militia would take away a great field for recruiting, and had shown that the Militia was such a field at present; but it did not follow that the case would remain the same under his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney's scheme, which gave a totally different inducement to men to recruit. Still he (Mr. Anderson) did not advocate the abolition of the Militia. He did not even think that the abolition of the Militia was necessary for his hon. Friend's scheme. He thought that scheme would be very perfect and complete without it. At the same time, he had some fault to find with the Militia. He thought it was not a very efficient Force. It was only drilled for one month in the year, and worse than that, it was never taught to shoot at all. There was no pretence made to teach the Militia to shoot, and what was the use of the 959 soldier who could not use his rifle? [Sir RICHARD GILPIN said, the Militia went through a course of musketry instruction every year.] He could produce some proof of what he had stated, for in the Army Estimates which had just been laid upon the Table, he found that the numbers of the Volunteers were 169,000 men, and the numbers of the Militia were 140,000 men; so that there was not a very great difference in point of numbers between the two services; and yet, while the amount expended for small arms ammunition for the Militia was just £5,913, the amount expended for small arms ammunition for the Volunteers was £51,374, or nearly 10 times as much for a Force which was only stronger by 20,000 men. That showed the difference between an Army that was taught to shoot and an Army that was not taught to shoot. There was one other fault he had to find with the Militia, and that was, that it was made a sort of back-door for the admission of incapable officers into the Army. That, he thought, was one of the worst features about our selection of officers for the Army—that men who entirely failed to pass examinations and thus to earn commissions in the regular way would by this sort of back-door means gain commissions in the Army which they were known to be utterly incapable of earning in the regular way. Still, he would prefer to see the Militia reformed to seeing it abolished. As to the questions of recruiting and desertion, the getting of suitable men instead of boys was simply a matter of money and inducements. While we paid only the price for boys we would only get boys. Under the scheme proposed by his hon. Friend, we should get a different class of men, and if the inducements were greater, we should not have the immense amount of desertion which we had at present. There was not the same amount of desertion from the police force, because the men were well paid; and it was only by paying men well, and making them comfortable, that we could get rid of so much desertion. No doubt, there were certain bad men who went about from regiment to regiment re-enlisting, and getting their kits over and over again. They used to be called "bounty jumpers" in the old days of bounty, and certainly the practice ought to be checked. He remembered that 960 he was one of those who very strongly advocated the abolition of branding or marking deserters. The reason why he did so was that branding affixed an indelible mark of disgrace for an offence which was not a criminal offence; but a suggestion had been made which might greatly tend to check the practice of desertion, and that was, that instead of affixing a brand of disgrace, a brand of honour should be used instead. He understood that a man on entering the Army was always vaccinated. Would it not be possible to make the vaccination mark in the form of a broad arrow?—and that would not be a mark of disgrace, but it would show that the man had been in the Service, and therefore serve the same end of preventing repeated desertion. As to reducing the length of time that men were to be kept in barracks, he heartily concurred with his hon. Friend's view. He thought that if we kept a much smaller number of men in barracks than 80,000 or 100,000, and passed them more quickly into the Reserve, we could well afford to give them much larger pay when on active service—a pay which would make them comfortable and happy. Then, we could pass them into the Reserve, and by that means, in a few years, we should have created a good Reserve. No doubt, our Indian requirements were an obstacle in the way of short service; but he agreed with his hon. Friend that there should be special volunteering for India; and then, when a man volunteered to go to India, his six years should date from the time he volunteered. That would save the expense of bringing him back after a very short service abroad.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, that so far as the first part of the Resolution was concerned, which pronounced the state of the Army unsatisfactory, he was by no means disposed to take an unreasonably optimist view of our Army, and if the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War deemed it his duty to introduce any reforms with a view to its improvement, he could assure him his proposals would meet from him with no undue amount of criticism. He must, however, observe that the Returns which had been laid before Parliament showed that in almost every respect there was an improvement; or, at all events, that the position of the Army was being maintained, 961 whether they looked at the number of recruits, their age, size, conduct, or their health. In every respect there was no symptom of that deterioration of which one heard so much out-of-doors. As to the cost of the Army, there was no doubt that a large amount of money was spent upon it; but it was difficult to find a standard by which to judge that expense. To compare it on that head with the Prussian Army was to institute a comparison which was entirely illusory, considering the difference between the composition of the two armies, and the manner in which they were raised, nor was it easy to prove that, under all the circumstances of the case, our military expenditure was extravagant. But the Resolution, proceeding from generals to particulars, said that their present system of detaining men in barracks for home service for a much longer period than was necessary to make them efficient as soldiers was vicious and immoral. If his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney had put that in a more general form, and had merely asked them to agree with him in stating their opinion that it was undesirable to detain men longer in barracks than was necessary to make them efficient and than was required by the nature of our varied service, then he for one would have been ready to agree with him, and one of the objects of short service, as now applied, was to obviate the evils of a lengthened residence in barracks. He thought that his hon. and gallant Friend opposite (General Shute) did not mean to stand by his Amendment, that long residence in barracks was good for the men. There was a general agreement that a system of short service was the best adapted to this country—a system under which men served a certain number of years in the Army and then passed to the reserve to spend the rest of their service in it. It was, however, difficult to say what one meant by short service, because "short" was a relative term, and what to one man was short to another was long. Hence arose much difference of opinion, and the point about which it existed was what portion of service a man should spend with the colours, and what portion in the Reserve. He had found amongst the best friends of the short-service system very various views on this point, and even his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, who 962 was never without confidence in the opinions which he entertained, at one time thought it would take three years to make an efficient soldier; but now he seemed to think that 18 months would be sufficient. The difficulty was this—that if we retained men only a short time with the colours we should have a large reserve, but its discipline would be defective; and in this country, where men were somewhat free in their habits, a little longer time might be necessary than in other countries, for although, drill might be learned in a few months, it took much longer to acquire those habits of obedience and discipline upon which the efficiency of a soldier depended. On the other hand, if we kept them too long with the colours, we should have either no Reserve or one that would be inadequate. We had, therefore, to discover, from experience, what term of service was most attractive to recruits, gave the best Reserve, and combined the minimum of active service with the maximum of efficiency. He would not attempt to lay down an iron rule on the subject, but perhaps the system we now had would be found to meet the requirements of the case as nearly as possible. We enlisted men for six years' service in the active Army, and six in the Reserve, but this division of their total term of service was not rigidly adhered to. The Inspector General of Recruiting thus described the present practice in his Report of January, 1874—Men enlisted for 'Short Service' may, at the expiration of three years' service in the ranks, with their own free consent, and with the approval of their Commanding Officer, he permitted to pass at once into the 1st Class of the Reserve, and there complete the unexpired portion of their engagement in that force.And conversely, those men who have proved themselves to he good and efficient soldiers, or likely to become valuable non-commissioned officers, may, after three years' Army service, he allowed, with the consent of their Commanding Officers, to continue and complete the unexpired portion of their engagement of 12 years in Army service, and thus become qualified for re-engagement and eventually for pension on the completion of 21 years' service.By the operation of this system those men who have entered the Army, and have found the active duties of a soldier's life distasteful, or who have seen openings in civil life more congenial to them, who wish to marry young, or who from any other cause are disinclined to go on serving, may, after a comparatively short service in the ranks, be released from their Army engagement, but they will leave their corps trained as soldiers, fit for duty if called 963 upon, and ready to serve their country on the occasion of any emergency.On the other hand, those who show an aptitude for a military career may have their wishes gratified, completing their full term of service uninterruptedly.….It seemed to him that with a voluntary Army like ours, and in a country like ours, where they could not take hold of a man and thrust him into any arm of the service they chose and on any terms they chose, this system was best calculated to make service in the Army palatable and acceptable to the people. These considerations were sufficiently strong in themselves; but when they came to regard the foreign possessions of the country, especially the requirements of India, it was obvious they could not have applied to the whole Army any period of service shorter than six years. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), who on this subject could speak with authority, knew very well that whatever extension might be desired in the opposite direction—in increasing the term of service of the men who had to serve in India—no term shorter than six years could be applicable to India. If they had a shorter service, they would be driven to support a local army in India, or to a system such as that advocated by the hon. Member for Hackney. But the system of his hon. Friend, while it had many disadvantages in itself, would be inapplicable to the complicated framework of any Army such as ours. It struck him as singular that in the scheme advocated in the pamphlet of his hon. Friend the service of the whole of our Indian and Colonial Army was to be a long one. The consequence would be that in the Reserve we should have none but home-service men. It certainly did not seem desirable that our reserve should contain only men who had seen nothing but peaceable service at home, and that they should be destitute of that varied experience which would be acquired in Indian and Colonial service. A great deal had been said about the prospect of getting a better class of men provided the men were not kept so long in barracks. Now he was very desirous to have the best class of men we could in the Service, but he did not mean by this that we should go out of the class from which we at present recruited. If we went into the skilled labour market and competed with the wages of artizans, we should make a signal failure. In 964 the first place, not being able to pay them sufficiently, we should not get the men; and in the second place we should have a smaller number to take our recruits from. Besides, if we drew skilled artizans largely into the Army, the country would be placed at a disadvantage in being robbed, to an unnecessary and wasteful degree, of its mechanical skill. On the other hand, there would always be found a certain number of the artizan class who, from a spirit of enterprize, would join the Army, and from whom our non-commissioned officers would be drawn. The last part of his hon. Friend's Resolution was that, "having regard to the efficient defence of the country, it is inexpedient to maintain two rival paid Forces in the United Kingdom." He did not agree in this with his hon. Friend. His belief was that the degree of competition for recruits between the Militia and the Army was not so great as had been stated, and that it would rapidly diminish. In the first place, a great number of Militia regiments were composed of artizans from the towns, colliers, and people of that class, who were willing to go out with the Militia for a change. He did not know whether there were any officers of the Ayrshire Militia present; but if there were, they would bear him out in saying that in Ayrshire, for example, the Militia was as fine a body as they could wish to see, and composed almost entirely of colliers and weavers, who would earn at their work large wages. These men joined the Militia that they might have an occasional holiday, just as hon. Members went to the Highlands and elsewhere at certain seasons for their pleasure. But those were not men who in any case would enlist in the Army. Then a large number of men passed from the Militia into the Line. The last Return he had seen put it at 5,000. The number was increasing, and a man who went into the Army after a year or two in the Militia was a better man than if we had got him for the Army at first. It must also be remembered that the recruiting both for Line and Militia was now under the charge of the Commanding Officer of the Brigade District, and it was his duty to see that there was no undue conflict between them. He trusted his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney would have the general sympathy of the House, 965 not only with his effort to improve the state of the Army, but also with, respect to one or two of those things he had brought before them. He (Mr. Camp-bell-Bannerman) could not, however, accept the terms in which his Resolution was put, and trusted that very few hon. Members would be willing to commit themselves to so rash an opinion.
§ SIR WILLIAM FRASER
said, that some years ago, if a man "went for a soldier," he usually came back the worse for it, but he absolutely denied that this was the case at present. The old-fashioned idea on this subject had a detrimental effect on recruiting for the Army. A soldier, being for many years under strict surveillance, became thoroughly disciplined; he was well fed, his health was cared for, and he was removed from the temptations to crime caused by want. He had a sufficiency provided for him, he associated for the most part with respectable persons, and was kept from social degradation. With the improvements which had been made of late years, and those to be made in future, the position of a soldier would become one to be envied; and he regretted that the advantages of a soldier's life were not better known among the class from whom our Army was recruited. If they were, there would be far less difficulty than at present in getting recruits, though, of course, at a time when the price of labour was rising throughout the country, there must be a difficulty in attracting men to the Service. Numerous civil employments were open to men who had served in the Army. His two brothers had commanded regiments, and he knew that there was a difficulty in preventing good men from purchasing their discharge, because there were so many temptations open to them in civil employments. The railway companies and mercantile firms afforded endless means of employment for soldiers who had behaved well while they were in the Service. These being the real facts, it was greatly to be deplored that an opinion should prevail among the classes from whom the Army was recruited that, when once they put on a red coat, they become a sort of Pariahs, and were shunned by the rest of the world. The truth was that a man had an opportunity of raising himself in the social scale by putting on a red coat and shouldering a rifle.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he should not have intruded himself into this debate but for the interest he felt for India, and he was afraid a great injustice might be done to our position in that country. The situation was this—this country had accepted the principle that they must change the old system of their Army, and instead of maintaining a fixed standing Army, that they must have a short-service Army with large Re-serves behind. Looking at the attitude of Continental nations, he had very little doubt that was the right view; but they must remember that in this respect England's position was entirely different from that of Continental States, inasmuch as she had to supply not only her own needs, but also those of India. It seemed to him that this question of short service was drifting in a direction which would be detrimental to the interests of India, and the question of providing troops for India ought to be taken into consideration in discussing the short-service system; for otherwise we might ultimately discover that we had established a system well adapted for home purposes, but not applicable to India. The short-service system was not at present thoroughly settled, and consequently there was considerable difficulty in ascertaining what was the system actually in force in this country. He had ascertained that practically the conditional three years' service regulation was a dead letter. They must, therefore, assume that the ordinary service for which a man enlisted was six years, and he confessed he looked upon six years as an unhappy medium to be fixed upon. It was too long to be called a short service for home, while it was far too short to be of any good as applied to India. He would ask whether they believed that any man who did not wish to make the Army his profession would enlist upon the present condition, when he had before him not only the six years' service, but probably that he would have to take a turn of service in India? It was totally out of the question to talk of giving a short-service system a fair trial with the prospect of serving in India staring the men in the face. Under the 12 years' system of enlistment a soldier, on the average, spent under six years in India; under the six years' system, the average time spent in India would probably be less than 967 three years. They must have two systems—one under which men would be enlisted for short service who did not look to the Army as a profession, but to qualify themselves as soldiers to retire to the Reserve, and then obtain certain pay and advantages as Reserve soldiers, becoming armed citizens, ready to come to the country's call when needed; and the other system that which had hitherto prevailed of inviting men to undertake service in the Army as a profession, and to devote the best period of their lives to it. What he wished particularly to impress upon the Secretary of State was that not only would the Indian Army cost more than it now did under short service, but that it would be infinitely less efficient than it now was. While in India he had seen a good deal of service with troops, and he had been immensely impressed with the difference between seasoned regiments and new regiments. The former were far better and more efficient soldiers, and were also experienced in the ways of the country, knowing how to make themselves comfortable. He feared that under the six years' system there could not be an efficient Army in India. The regiments there would consist of comparatively young and unacclimated men; and this would be a great evil. The Indian Army was not always stationed in the hot plains. Under the present system half the European soldiers were in the hills, in a climate quite as good as our own. What he thought they ought to do was to shorten the period of six years for enlistment for home service, and lengthen the period of enlistment to at least eight or ten years or more for India. Civilians were now required to pass eight years in India before they were entitled to a furlough; and until recently they were required to pass 10 years. The same time would not be too long for soldiers, with the proviso, of course, that any man whose health broke down should be sent home. The Indian Army must be composed of men who made the Army their profession; and he hoped that the Secretary of State for War would speedily settle the question of military service in India.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
said, he should not have objected strongly to the proposal of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) but for the unfortunate fact that it described the present practice of re- 968 taining men in barracks for home service longer than was necessary to make them efficient and thorough soldiers as being "vicious" and "immoral." He objected to these words as casting an undeserved slur upon officers who were Members of that House, and upon soldiers of all ranks who were beyond its walls. The speech in which the hon. Member had brought forward his Motion undoubtedly took the sting out of the words; but, at the same time, he hoped that a vote of the House would not be asked upon a proposal in which they were contained. In the chances of war he believed that the advantages would rest with the soldiers of a free nation; but the difficulty was that a free people could scarcely be induced in times of peace to prepare its Reserves, so as to be ready to take the field when war broke out; and he considered that the hon. Member had done an immense amount of good during the Recess in calling the attention and enlisting the interest of the country in the state of the Army. He might be very well contented with the interesting debate he had raised, and the admirable and valuable speeches that had been made on both sides of the House. The hon. Member in his speech urged the importance of adopting the short service system, and expressed an opinion that, on the whole, it would be advantageous to render still shorter the period of service with the colours and to lengthen the time which men would spend in the Reserve. It was not because men had been 12 or 14 years in the Army that, therefore, they were well disciplined. They began to think of pension about that time, and, therefore became, as it were, bound up with the Army. There was no reason why a man at the end of six years, or even of three, should not be thoroughly well disciplined; and it should he borne in mind that with a three years' service they could secure three times as large a Reserve as under a six years' service. Some time since the Secretary of State for War stated that, practically, we had a three year's service, as a man could, with the leave of his commanding officer, enter the Reserve at the end of three years. He should like to be informed to what extent that was made available, as the result of his inquiries led him to believe that, practically, that three years' rule was a dead letter. One difficulty 969 which stood in the way should not be lost sight of—namely, the drafting of troops to India. The local Army there to a certain extent had failed, and they had tried a substitute of interchange-ability between the Homo and the Indian Army. A man's service was shortened by this system, but there was a simple solution of the difficulty—namely, that a man should to a great extent be allowed to choose where he would serve. Not that he should be allowed to select, say, between Plymouth and Portsmouth, but that he should be allowed to go to India when he liked and for a certain fixed period. Such men should not be allowed to return home, if the regiments which they joined were coming homo, unless they had completed the term which they had agreed to, but should for the residue of that term be required to exchange into another regiment. He trusted that our home military system would not be subordinated to that of India, as the result might prove to be fatal to this country in the event of our Fleet collapsing.
§ CAPTAIN MILNE HOME
said, he considered that the question before the House was of the greatest possible interest to those who, like himself, might be called junior officers. The hon. Member who so ably introduced it (Mr. J. Holms) asked the House to say that the present condition of the British Army was most unsatisfactory; and he attributed the fact to the detention of the men in barracks, and to the vice and immorality which prevailed there. The remedy the hon. Gentleman suggested was short service and the abolition of the Militia. They must all admit that the condition of the Army was unsatisfactory. It could not be satisfactory to see battalions going abroad, having had to fill up their ranks with volunteers. The fact that Her Majesty's regiments of Guards were 100 short of their battalion strength was not satisfactory; neither were the facts that the Army was short of troops, and that recruiting was much below the desired mark. The great question was—was that state of things to be remedied in the manner suggested by the hon. Member? The proposition put forward by the hon. Member was that the practice of retaining men in barracks longer than was necessary was vicious and immoral. Was it the hon. Member's opinion that 970 if a recruit remained two years in barracks he became vicious and immoral; but that if he left before that time, he would be free from vice and virtuous. The hon. Member ought to be pretty sure of his case before he made an assertion which ought not to have been put forward without the most convincing proofs. Did the hon. Member mean to say that the soldiers of whom the Duke of Cambridge had publicly stated that he would go anywhere, and against any enemy with them, were deteriorated by vice and immorality? It was preposterous to say so. The assertion was sufficiently answered by the statement of the late Chaplain General, who, in his letter to the various Army Chaplains, spoke highly, after 62 years' experience, of the excellent qualities of our soldiers. One great omission in the scheme of the hon. Member for Hackney was that he had not said a word about the noncommissioned officers, who had been justly described as the backbone of the Army. If the men were only to remain two or three years in the Service where were the non-commissioned officers to come from? Even if they remained in the Service, still if the Army was to have nothing but short service men the task of the non-commissioned officers would be harder as time went on, and it would be more difficult to keep the Service in a proper state. From the speech the hon. Gentleman delivered at the meeting of the Social Science Association, it appeared that he had also forgotten another class—the old soldiers. Prom his experience as a troop officer, he (Captain Milne Home) could say that the old soldiers were the men to be trusted in barracks and in manœuvres, and the rendered valuable service in assisting the noncommissioned officers to teach the younger soldiers their duty. A system of entirely short service would be, therefore, a total mistake. The soldiers, no doubt, liked change. Hon. Members knew that it was the same in domestic service, and that servants would leave them for no reason whatever. In the same way many young men did not like to be bound down for six or ten years. Let them, therefore, combine the two, long service and short, if they pleased, by all means. The last assertion in the hon. Member's Resolution condemned the maintenance of two rival Forces, the Militia and the Line.
971 The hon. Member considered that to be one of the causes of the unsatisfactory state of the British Army, and suggested that if they abolished the Militia and introduced a Reserve of a somewhat fancy description they would be all right. He (Captain Milne Home) thought, however, they had heard enough that evening to show that the Militia was a most valuable Force, and one which the hon. Members sitting on that (the Ministerial) side of the House were by no means disposed to give up, because it was a remnant of the ancient feudal system, under which the owners of the soil were bound to protect the land they occupied. He had no wish to intrude any crotchets as to what ought to be done with the Army; but one thing was quite clear, and they would hear more about it when the Estimates came on for discussion—that in order to do away with desertion, and bring the recruits in greater numbers, they must receive not only additional pay, but other advantages. The Government must not give with one hand and take away with the other, but the soldiers must have a sufficiency of good food and something to look forward to—he would not say a pension, but perhaps deferred pay, so that if a soldier remained in the Service a certain" number of years, he might have something to look forward to which might set him up in trade or assist him to gain his own living. If that were done, desertion would decrease. The late Government began, to use a popular phrase, at the "wrong end of the stick." They abolished Purchase, but left their Successors to pay for it; whereas, instead of appropriating £8,000,000 for the officers, they would have done much better if they had begun by improving the condition of the private soldier. For these reasons, he should support the Amendment.
said, that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms) laboured under this disadvantage—that it had been introduced before hon. Members knew what was the nature of the scheme of Army reform which the Secretary of State for War was about to introduce. There were, however, many portions of it which would recommend themselves to hon. Members on both sides of the House. He concurred with the hon. Member for Hackney that the condition 972 of the Army was unsatisfactory and its cost extravagant. They had now expended £8,000,000 in getting rid of Purchase, and he thought Parliament stood pledged to go fully into the question of Army reform. To show that the cost of the Army was extravagant, it was unnecessary to do more than point to the fact that it was admitted on all hands that only one-third the amount voted went in the shape of direct pay to the Army, the remaining two-thirds going to pay the non-effective services. He believed our Force was as strong in numbers as was necessary, and that a great economy might be effected by reducing the expenditure on the non-effective services. As to the terms of the Resolution, he would have preferred that it should have spoken of retaining men in barracks longer than was necessary to make them soldiers as being "inexpedient," instead of "vicious or immoral." As the returns showed that 20,640 men were enlisted last year, that there were 24,560 men fined for drunkenness, and that the number of fines were 49,733, either the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (General Shute) must have under-estimated the number of bad characters in the Army, or else the "admirable regimental discipline carried out in the barracks" which he referred to must have failed to achieve the results he would credit it with. Prom a common-sense point of view, two systems of recruiting must be antagonistic. The Militia did not readily blend itself with the Army, because the circumstances of the two Forces were very different; we could have efficiency without simplicity of organization, and simplicity was incompatible with recruiting for two services. To make the Militia truly and properly efficient was the true key to Army reform; that led up to the principle of short service, and if we adopted it in its entirety we should have such a number of men passing so rapidly through the Militia that we should soon be unable to obtain them, unless we turned the tide of the Militia recruiting into the ranks of the Regular Army. And why should we not do so? We could not expect a Militiaman to be so efficient as a man who had passed through the ranks; and the noble Lord the late Secretary of State for War (Viscount Cardwell) could find no answer to the argument for 973 making the Militia efficient by passing men through the Army into the Militia. The noble Lord said we could not get men without conscription, but that he (Major Beaumont) denied. Considering the smallness of the pay of a soldier, it was rather surprising that the services of so many men could be obtained. The great question was the sufficiency of the pay we chose to offer. The pay of soldiers was small compared with that of civilians, and we could readily get men if, instead of enlisting them for six years and offering 4d. a-day as Reserve pay, we enlisted them for three years' service and £12 a-year Reserve pay for 20 years. That would alter the circumstances of recruiting very materially, and remove any difficulty in the way of getting men; and he protested against the arguments which coupled conscription with short service. A great responsibility rested on any Administration which had to deal with the question of Army reform. The late Government, as far as the officers were concerned, took the Army out of pawn, and enunciated the principle of short service, which he wished had been carried further. The localization measure was a recruiting scheme, and that had been followed by the present Government's mobilization scheme, in which there was nothing either very valuable or much the reverse. It was easy to mobilize men if only you had them. He should be glad to support any scheme which would carry economy and efficiency still further.
said, he fully concurred in the absolute necessity of giving an increase of pay to our soldiers; if it were given many existing difficulties would disappear, and he hoped the proposal shortly to be made would substantially do what was required by offering greater inducements to good men to enlist. He wont a long way with the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) in what he said with regard to the barrack system. He had always felt the considerable difficulty of locking up 400 or 500 men at 10 o'clock on a summer's night in barracks and, as it were, subjecting them to prison discipline. If they could raise the character of the men enlisted, they might at once be able to economize in various directions, and also do away with a great deal of that strict discipline which commanding officers now felt so painfully 974 necessary. But while he said that he must also say a word on behalf of the class of men who were now enlisted. Even the drunkard, when brought into the Army, under the strict discipline which was imposed on him, did very good service. Though he had been a hard drinker, he became a hard-working man; he was not selfish, and, above all, he was not what soldiers call a lawyer. With regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Hackney, he might, with all diffidence, say—and he hoped the hon. Member would take the remark as it was given, in good part—it was very different from the speeches he had made in the country, and he would gain considerably in the estimation of those who wished him well if, when he made statements on this subject to those who were not acquainted with it, he spoke to them in the same tone he had preserved in that House. The remarks which the hon. Member had made with regard to the Militia had rather a tendency to ruffle the feelings of those who knew what the Militia was, who had served with it, and had great respect for it. The hon. Member spoke of it as a toy in the hands of country gentlemen, and a mere sham. He entirely differed from the hon. Member. He admitted that it was not so efficient as it might be, and it ought to be made more efficient. What was wanted was an Army capable of rapid expansion and contraction, and the Militia was in that respect a most valuable auxiliary to the Army. For the amount of cost we paid for the Militia its services were very efficient indeed, and he should be glad to see more expansion given to it. So far from seeing it extinguished, it was to it we must look in a great measure for the Reserves which we required. He remembered when no fewer than 10 regiments of Militia, acting as Reserves, occupied the forts in the Mediterranean, and were ready to come to their assistance in the Crimea. He hoped, therefore, the Militia would not be forgotten. They had already done good service, and in the future might do still more.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, he was much obliged to the hen. and gallant Officer who had just spoken for what he had said with reference to the Militia. The Militia was a most constitutional and economical Force, and one which, from ancient usage, recommended itself as a 975 valuable auxiliary to the Regular Army. Everybody who knew the Militia was aware that at least two-thirds of the men were those who would never join the Army, because they had entered merely for the sake of pastime and recreation. There were, however, many Militiamen who did volunteer for the Line, and became some of the best soldiers we had. In the French War they garrisoned our forts, while our troops were in the Peninsula; in 1815, when there was a sudden demand for men, a large number of the Militia volunteered to fill the gaps in the regiments, without whom the battle of Waterloo might not have been won; and in 1855 regiment after regiment went to Malta and Gibraltar. There were several regiments of the Militia at Aldershot in 1859, and they acquitted themselves so well there that an officer who had smelt a deal of powder had declared to him that if he had not known they were Militia he should certainly have taken them for men of the Line. Therefore, as a nursery for the Army he hoped the Militia would never be given up. With regard to the Resolution, he entirely disapproved it. He protested against the action of his hon. Friend with respect to this matter. People at a distance formed the most extraordinary notions of our Army, thinking that it consisted only of a pack of boys good for nothing. Did the hon. Gentleman reflect upon the consequences which might arise from foreign Powers thinking our Army useless? Why, the power of this country was enormous, and we were perfectly competent to maintain our rights. It had been said that there was immorality in barracks. No doubt there was; but, taking a large number of young men of any rank, he asserted that the soldier was just as moral a man as any other of the same class of life. Then his hon. Friend said that the best trained soldiers in Europe were those of Prussia, and that two years' service was sufficient. But what was the use of holding up the Prussian Army to us as a model, when the Prussian military system was founded on conscription, and every one knew that conscription could not be carried out in this country? Besides, it was not the men of two years' service that did the fighting in the late war. They were sent into garrisons, and the first Reserve was called out first, and then the second 976 Reserve, and these were the men who had gone through their whole training. Then it would hardly be believed that the desertions from the German Army amounted to 100,000 in a year, while those from our own Army were about 4,500. As far as he was concerned, he was not the least afraid to put his trust in the Militia and Volunteers if they were ever called upon to do their duty. The noble Lord the late Secretary of State for War (Viscount Cardwell), when in that House, proposed a certain system, which had been carried out frankly and honourably by the right han. Gentleman the present Secretary for War, who wished to give it a fair trial. Let us think carefully before we adopted anything, try it thoroughly before we changed it, and if it did not work favourably let us alter it. But it would never do to be chopping and changing. With respect to a painful letter about four or five married men and their wives living in one room he wished to say a word. When the depôt system was proposed by the noble Lord, he said he would insure that at the depôts married men should have separate quarters. He felt sure the right hon. Gentleman would do the same. He could not agree either with the Resolution or the Amendment, and the best thing that could be done would be that both should be withdrawn.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he could not agree with a good many of the remarks which had been made that evening with respect to the course taken by the hon. Member for Hackney. No doubt, the hon. Gentleman addressed the House to-night in a very different tone from what he had adopted in the country. But he took particular exception to the course followed by the hon. Member in one particular, which seemed to be the very worst kind of precedent, and calculated to bring discussion about the Army altogether into disrepute. The hon. Member called together political parties in two places, and addressed his remarks about the Army, not to the public in general, but to partizans of his own particular views. Such a proceeding as that seemed calculated to reduce questions of vital national importance to the level of mere Party squabbles, and tended to introduce complications and difficulties which it would be far better to avoid. The hon. Member had justified himself on the ground that the 977 Conservatives had made the Militia a Party question, and that they had encouraged it simply for the purpose of securing places for the county families and obtaining for themselves county influence. A more extraordinary charge, or one less justified by the facts, he had never heard in the whole course of his life. He was sorry to say that the course which he thought it just to adopt with respect to Adjutants and others was not in accordance with the wishes of some of his Friends in the Militia; but that was what he thought the right course to make the Militia of use to the country, and he carried it into effect without regard to those feelings to which the hon. Member for Hackney had referred. When the hon. Member spoke of the Militia, he should remember that the same course had been taken by his own Friends, and it had never been made a Party question hitherto. The hon. Member was, he believed, the only man who, addressing himself to a public audience, had said the Army and Militia were made a Party question. He must also take exception to the language used by the hon. Member with respect both to the Army and to the Militia. In the volume published by the hon. Member, no doubt with great deliberation, were these words, which appeared to be utterly un-English—We could not find to-day, from all the crowds of men that we could muster in these islands, 00,000 who could he regarded, either as to age or training, equal to the soldiers of Prussia.Now, he protested against a statement of that kind. And if the hon. Member, even upon the footing on which he wished to place the Army, would look at the Re-turns for 1874 he would find that on the 1st of January, 1875, there were in the Army at home 13,906 men under 20 years of age; but that between the ages of 20 and 35 years, there were 59,975 men, or, in round numbers, 60,000. Would the hon. Member venture to assert that out of that 60,000 men we could not find 50,000 between 20 and 35 competent to meet any Army in the world? [Mr. HOLMS: I bog pardon, I said between 20 and 32, the ages in the German Army.] He would give the hon. Member the benefit of the three years, though, from experience, he did not think a difference of three years of age would make the men incompetent to fight. But taking them at 32 years of age, he still believed that 50,000 men would be found, and 978 that only in home battalions. He made these remarks because he wished the question to be thoroughly discussed, and discussed in a manner not calculated either to give offence to the Army at home or to give encouragement to enemies abroad. The hen. Member who had just sat down had spoken in terms much more consonant with his own feelings upon this question. He (Mr. Hardy) was not prepared to say that the Army was in a most unsatisfactory state, nor was he at all disposed to say that the Army was maintained at an extravagant cost. He would not now enter into the special question of the cost, because it would be his duty to address himself to it on any early occasion. Any one asking the House to sanction expenditure for the Army must do so on the understanding that he was asking money for something worth the cost, and if the House was of opinion that what they got for the money was not sufficient, they would, of course, express that opinion by their votes. Hon. Members in all parts of the House had spoken as if some great measure of Army reform and organization were necessary. He would not go into the question of Purchase, because the debate had not turned on that subject, it having only been casually adverted to by the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock), although he feared that the House would find that promotion and retirement must be purchased at a much more extravagant cost in future than they had been in former days. The hon. and gallant Member said it was their business to turn and twist the material they had got into new shapes. He knew, however, that the Army and the country desired that the Army should have an understanding that they were proceeding on some intelligible basis, which was not to be altered without occasion—which was not to be altered without full notice, and that the conditions upon which they had agreed to serve their country would be observed to the letter, and would not be violated except for purposes of improvement or making such additions to the Army as might be necessary. He had been blamed because he had not hastily and without due consideration made great changes in the Army; but the more he considered what had been done the more he was convinced that it was his duty to give a trial of the fairest 979 and most ample kind to the system set on foot deliberately by Parliament, and on which vast sums of money were being expended; and until that system bad been fully tried he was not inclined to change. But in any case the present would be about the most inopportune moment for attempting to make any change in the system, because we had just arrived at the time fixed by his Predecessor for the Reserve to come into full operation. It was true that during the present year the Reserve would not be large, but next year we should probably have as many thousands of men in that force as we had hundreds this year. Could he, therefore, under those circumstances, do anything so absurd and so contrary to common sense as to adopt the revolutionary system advocated by the hon. Member for Hackney, and so throw everything into chaos and confusion just at the very moment when the new system was expected to come into operation? It was clear that for many years there had been a sort of uncertainty in the minds of both officers and men with regard to their position, and he was most anxious to disabuse them of that idea, and to satisfy them that, so far as he was concerned, the conditions which had been made with them would be kept. In the present condition of the Army he admitted that there were certain things which were unsatisfactory, and which, as in all human institutions, could be brought to greater perfection. Indeed, he was far from saying that the Army was in anything like a state of perfection. Still, notwithstanding there had been a diminution of the numbers of men recruited, the force, as a whole, was only 425 below its Establishment on the 1st of February last. He admitted that, with regard to the Guards and the Artillery, things were not in a very satisfactory condition, the Guards being 399, and the Artillery, taking the two branches, nearly 1,100, below their proper numbers. The Cavalry and the Infantry of the Line, however, were engaging supernumeraries, the former being 474 and the latter 928 above their Establishments. The desertions in the Army were about 1,000 fewer than in the year before, and when hon. Members wished to ascertain the proportions of desertion, they should compare the number of desertions, not with the number of recruits, but with 980 that of the whole Army, because it was an error to suppose that desertion occurred among recruits alone. On comparing the desertions of one year with another, the curious fact would be discovered that, whereas the desertions among the class called skilled labourers who had enlisted was 58 per cent. desertion among the unskilled labourers amounted to only 34 per cent. The Chaplain to the Forces (Archdeacon Wright), in commenting upon that fact, explained that difference of 24 per cent between the two classes of deserters by supposing that the former were in the habit of earning wages which were so much above the average that it was impossible that they could be content for any lengthened period with the pay of a soldier, although circumstances had induced them to enter the Force for a time; and it was only by offering them a large money payment and other privileges that they could be got to remain in the Army. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) had revived the suggestion that there should be some mode of marking everybody in the Army, both officers and men; and he (Mr. Hardy) thought there was a great deal in that proposal to commend it to the favourable consideration of the House. No man ought to be ashamed of belonging to the British Army, and he did not think any man need be ashamed of a tattoo, or any other mark not of a disgraceful character. He was confident that no one would object to such an expedient as might be absolutely necessary in order to check, not merely desertion here and there, but that abominable kind of desertion by which a man was continually selling his goods, enlisting in other corps, and carrying disaffection and treachery wherever he went. In his opinion, that was an offence that ought to he punished with the utmost severity. He was not disposed to agree with the remark uttered by an hon. and gallant Member that desertion ought to be looked upon as a crime of a not very serious description. The hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) had spoken of the contrast between good-conduct rewards and the stripes which men received for good conduct, and the number of men who had not received them. But those under two years' service could not receive them, so that the comparison was not unfavourable, especially when it was 981 remembered that these stripes were taken away for slight causes, which would not be considered offences in civil life, and were purely military. He hoped, therefore, the House would not suppose that these 88,000 men who had been mentioned reflected discredit upon the Service. Of course, those offences which had to be dealt with by district or general Courts-martial were of a serious kind, and he wished they could be diminished, as well as the fines for drunkenness. Attempts were being made to find the men pleasant occupations in the evening, and steps were being taken with regard to regimental canteens. They would be very useful, because they would supply the requirements of the men, and in the canteens there would be far more watchfulness over the conduct of the men than there could be in places to which they resorted outside. With respect to height and chest measurements and physical qualities generally, he believed the comparison with former years would be favourable. One morning, without giving any notice, he went to the recruiting establishment in London, having been told by the "man in the street" that he should find men of a very inferior character. He was, therefore, surprised to find men, some of whom were extremely well-dressed, who were of considerable height and development of chest. There were very few whom he should have said were below the mark. They were quick and intelligent, able to spell their names with great rapidity, and to give an account of them selves readily. They were anxious to have their religions recorded, and were evidently aware of the character of the position on which they were about to enter. The Cavalry were a very remarkable class, and there were some whom he should not have expected to see at all. He was struck with the appearance of one young man. The officer in command—one of the most skilful of the recruiting officers—told the man he could hardly be 18, but the recruit replied that he was that age, and could bring his register to prove it. He was perfectly well-dressed, resembling a clerk, and well developed. The recruiting officer enlisted him, and believed he would make a good Cavalry soldier. He (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) mentioned these things to show that we must not allow oar prejudices 982 or statements made at random to make us believe that everything was going wrong. As to the complaint that men misrepresented their ages, that could not be prevented by fixing the ages at 20 instead of 18, for a man wanting to enlist would represent himself in such a way as to get enlisted. His attention had been called by the hon. Member for Hackney to the case of a boy of 14 who enlisted in the 14th Hussars. That recruit had been enlisted 10 months without any remonstrance from his father or family; but when the regiment was called upon to go to India, his father represented to the hon. Member for Hackney that the boy was only 14 years and 10 months old. He (Mr. Hardy) inquired who was the medical officer that could have passed a boy of 14 years and 10 months as a man of 18, and he was informed that he was one of the most careful and scrutinizing surgeons in the Army. The fact was, that the boy was of unusual physical development. He was a boy who would make a most capital soldier. All the officers became fond of him, and they were anxious that he should go with them. Having been only 10 months in the Army he could not then go to India. Afterwards, he was carefully examined by a medical man, who was of opinion that he had a constitution which was peculiarly fitted for the climate of India, and he went out. Having found out the boy's age he (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) sent word out that if the boy expressed the least wish to come back, he should be returned but intimating that those who made false attestations about their age were liable to be dealt with by the regulations of the Service. A statement made by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) last year had directed his attention to this especial subject. The subject was one which he had considered, and on which he had communicated with eminent Indian medical officers, and it required to be dealt with only after great consideration. The matter was one, however, on which he felt that he ought not to move hastily, because if he did so he thought he should be acting in derogation of the statement he had made that the system which had been inaugurated by his Predecessor should receive a fair trial; and therefore he thought that security ought to be given that men who had served in the 983 ranks should come back to take their places in the Reserve. He could not assent to the idea that the claims of such men should be forgotten, and that they should be treated on their return from such a responsible and dangerous service in a distant country as if they were used-up; on the contrary, he should wish that they might get an adequate return for their services. He did not agree with the hon. Member in his idea that soldiers should serve in India for eight or 12 years, for he thought that if they could get five or six years' service from the English soldier in India that was as much as they could expect from him, and it was far better that he should return from such a trying service before his strength was exhausted and his capacity to serve his country elsewhere greatly lessened or destroyed. He hoped that statement would prove satisfactory to the hon. Member who had raised this question, and that it would show him at least that he (Mr. Hardy) had not failed to give the subject the attention he had promised. As to the allegation of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot), he (Mr. Hardy) was not prepared to accept the statement as to the degree of misery which had been occasioned owing to the reliefs from India coming back at the wrong time. He was told the other day that a number of these men were going about, in such weather as then prevailed, without their greatcoats. In order to ascertain the truth he had made special inquiries at Woolwich, and the report which he received tended to show the inaccuracy of the statements that had been circulated. It was found that the men's clothes had been lined with serge, that means had been taken to render the men more warm and comfortable; and he believed there was no general officer in the service who was more particular than was the officer in command at Woolwich to see that the men were provided with warm coats and clothing appropriate to their necessities. There was another point which had been raised in the discussion by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Brighton (General Shute) as to the Ballot. As to one thing he thought everybody would agree, and that was that the present system of Ballot under the Act of Parliament now in force was one which was wholly inconsistent with the 984 present condition of things, and not in accordance with public opinion. He believed the people of this country would not approve of a system which admitted of a substitute. Besides, a great deal might have to be done before the Ballot could be brought into use, and before you could use the Ballot effectually much would require to be effected. He thought it incumbent that, at a very early period, the Ballot law should be brought into a state more consistent with the circumstances of the times in which they were living, and which would enable them, in cases of emergency, to fill up the Militia, and empower them to furnish that supply which was found to be necessary for the services of the country. There was another point which had been mentioned and to which he wished to advert, and that had reference to the men who returned to the Reserve. It was said that you ought to supply such persons with special appointments in the Civil Service. That had been very much urged by the Press and by public writers of various descriptions, and he really thought that a great deal of this feeling arose from the total ignorance as to the several employments for which such persons would be fitted. With respect to the one Department of the Post Office, he believed that an offer had been made of 2,000 places, but of this number not more than about 200 were taken. In dealing with the case of their military men it struck him very much that those who spoke of them as not fit to come back to their old employments did not scruple to consider that they might be fitted for some other occupation, which seemed rather inconsistent; because if after a few years' cessation of his labours a man was not fitted to support himself by the trade to which he had been brought up, it did seem rather a strange thing to put such a man into a position with the duties of which he was entirely unacquainted. The subject, however, required a great deal of consideration, and he had thought that the time might come when a Committee of that House might very properly give attention to the question, whether there were appointments which would be suitable for such men, and whether if they were offered to them, soldiers would be found ready to take them. He thought it would be right to put the question in such a way that both the soldiers themselves and the public also might really 985 understand what was meant. It was of no use saying that there were 120,000 appointments which were open to soldiers, and to which they could be appointed if they desired it, because if you were to divide this by 10 you might come nearer to the truth. He was quite sure that the country was under a misapprehension as to these special appointments; and it would be unfortunate that these men should think themselves competent for positions for which they had not shown themselves particularly fitted. He was not aware that he had neglected to meet anything that had been said by any hon. Member. He had endeavoured, as far as possible, to notice the questions which had been put forward by hon. Gentlemen, and he now came to the Resolution of the hon. Member for Hackney. The hon. Gentleman seemed pleased with the great and satisfactory results of the meetings which he had addressed in the country, which passed unanimous resolutions in his favour. He feared that those resolutions, practically, were carried because the hon. Gentleman went in the room to address assemblies that were favourable to him, and that the persons composing those meetings did not know very much about the Army, and probably they might have been as ready to vote for the abolition of the Army as to support the hon. Gentleman in the new scheme which he had propounded, and which would go far to disturb the present condition of things. The hon. Member for Hackney said they ought to abolish the Militia in order to strengthen the Army. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz), as well as many hon. Gentlemen on his own side of the House, had spoken a good, an honest, and a true word on behalf of the Militia, which had been very much depreciated by those who probably did not know much about it. Seeing the constant attacks that were made upon it, he thought it desirable that he should have an independent and unbiased military opinion to assist him in the matter, and he therefore wrote to a gallant officer who had seen a great deal of the Militia—General Herbert, who, although unconnected with it, had had it under his command at Aldershot—and asked him for his independent opinion. General Herbert replied in a letter, which he would not read, but it stated that the marching quality of the force 986 was very remarkable, and that the men were for the time of their training in very excellent order; and then he went on to mention certain regiments, to the number of 10, deserving of high praise. He (MT. Hardy) would not mention the names of those regiments; but perhaps he might be allowed to refer to that which was under the command of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bedfordshire (Sir Richard Gilpin), which was one of the best in the country. General Herbert also mentioned two regiments, and there were many others, no doubt, which, in a short time—say two months—might stand in the field along with any in the Service. There was the authority of General Herbert, then, that with two months' training and manœuvring, the Militiamen would be ready to stand with their comrades in the field. That was the way in which such a high and unprejudiced authority spoke of a Force which had been so much run down. General Herbert had also taken great pains to inquire into the class of men who took service in the Militia, and he said that he quite disagreed with those who said that those men would enlist for the Regular Army if the Militia did not exist; that some of them might do so, but that the majority were of a different class from those who entered the Line, and would never bear arms either in the Volunteers or the Rogulars; and that in the country he knew there were many people who did not object to their sons joining the Militia, but who would not hear of their enlisting in the Army. That quite agreed with what had been said by the hon. Member for Birmingham. No doubt it would be a very desirable thing if every recruit for the Army could be trained for two or three years in the Militia; but, unfortunately, it could not be done. Of course, he would rather have the partially manufactured article to work upon than the raw material; and if they could get men to serve in the Militia for three years and then go into the Army it would be a great gain, for which they might be willing to pay something extra; but it was impracticable. He must be forgiven for saying that it depended more upon the Colonels of the Militia regiments what number of men they could secure for the Army rather than upon anything else. In some regiments the Colonels gave 400 or 500 men to the 987 Army; whereas in others, they could squeeze out but infinitesimal driblets, not liking to diminish the numbers of their regiments. He could quite understand that Colonels of Militia looked on their regiments with pride, and wished to bring them up nearer and nearer to the standard of the Regular Forces; but he would like them to regard them as if they were the nurseries of soldiers for the Army, and he was sure that the gaps which might thus be created in their corps would be filled up, because it would be shown that the Colonels thoroughly knew their business, were appreciated by the men who served under them, and understood both the Auxiliary Force and the Regular Service to which it was joined. He would not now further detain the House. It would be his lot to address it again next week on the Army Estimates, and on many subjects connected with the Army, which he hoped would improve its position. He trusted that the hon. Member for Hackney would be content with the discussion he had raised, without pressing a Resolution that was not supported by anybody but himself in all particulars. It would be a pity that it should appear, by dividing the House, as if there was any difference between them about an object on which he wished to rely on the help of the hon. Member for Hackney, though disagreeing with him in many particulars, as well as on the help of hon. Gentlemen on his own side.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
thought they ought to approach the question entirely free from Party spirit. It was not in any way a Party question, and in dealing with it he hoped that defects in the Army, which were of old growth, would soon be removed, and the Service brought into a state of efficiency. He was sure the hon. Member for Hackney did not intend to cast any reflections on the morality of the Army or of its officers. The words to which objections had been raised were merely intended to indicate defects in the military system which were inherent in the mode in which their Army was organized and located, and which necessarily deprived the Army of the class of recruits which were needed for our military efficiency. He also cordially agreed with that hon. Member that as long as they allowed the Militia to compete with the Regular Army for recruits there was a 988 danger that the latter force would be deprived of the men who were so much needed. The past history of their recruiting proved how difficult it was to obtain recruits in sufficient numbers to maintain both Army and Militia up to their establishment, and in spite of all their improvements in the soldier's position, yet the two forces were considerably below their fixed strength. The present difficulties would be greatly increased as soon as the vacancies occasioned by the transfer of the men of short service to the Reserves came into operation. In case of war they must then expect to have their recruiting difficulties greatly increased. In proof thereof, he might refer to the extreme difficulty that had been experienced in raising the Regular Army above the standard of the peace establishment at the time of the Crimean War, and also at the period of the Indian Mutiny, and that difficulty was one well deserving their serious attention. At present the Militia had a great many paper men on its rolls, as was evidenced by the large proportion who absented themselves from training, as also by the numbers of all ranks, including officers, who were wanting to complete, absent with leave, and otherwise inefficient. When they deducted these, and also the men who were liable to be called to join the Army, then the Militia Force dwindled down to a very low condition.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had endorsed the view that in the course of two months' training some regiments of Militia would be fit for active service. He (Mr. Parnell) wished to know if any of those efficient regiments referred to by General Herbert were in Ireland? He believed that, as a matter of fact, many of the men there were thoroughly unfriendly to, and wanting in confidence in, their officers, and otherwise dissatisfied. The year 1798 had been referred to, when English Militia regiments were of so much use to England. If he referred to Irish regiments of the same period, he would find that Lord Cornwallis said they could not be trusted. Could they be trusted to-day? In anything he (Mr. Parnell) had now to say he did not wish to be understood as reflecting in the slightest degree on the good intentions of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy). 989 Like many other English statesmen who had acted with the best intentions as regarded Ireland, he might be disappointed. He (Mr. Parnell) wished to refer to a reply sent from the War Office to a request from the Catholic Union of Ireland that Roman Catholic soldiers might be allowed to attend mass on certain holidays. The right hon. Gentleman gave a very proper reply, that the commanding officer should afford every facility for the attendance of soldiers at Divine service on the holidays referred to. But what was the result? Owing to ignorance on the part of the commanding officers of the intentions of the Secretary for War, hardly any Militiamen were allowed to attend Divine service on those days. The Rev. Mr. Behan, of the parish of Navan, and chaplain of the Meath Militia, having complained of this, he was met by the excuse that the rules of the service did not permit of such attendance. He (Mr. Parnell) should be sorry to say anything to arouse religious animosities, or make a handle of religion for political purposes; but he thought that Militia regiments consisting of Irish Catholics ought to be allowed by their commanding officers to fulfil their religious duties as their conscience dictated. In the present day, however, no Militia regiment was allowed to do so. Employers in Ireland did not prevent their employés from attending mass on holidays, and why should this permission be denied to Militiamen? As a Protestant he threw out these remarks, in the hope that Irish Catholics in future would be permitted to attend mass on holidays.
§ MR. J. HOLMS
said, that after the speech of the Secretary of State for War, and the debate which had taken place, he was, with the leave of the House, ready to withdraw the Resolution.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.