HC Deb 09 March 1876 vol 227 cc1771-4

rose to move— That, while recognizing the necessity for increased expenditure on the Army, in consequence of the largely increased inducements of the labour market, this House is of opinion that it is inexpedient to provide for the Militia Service, without having before the House a detailed statement of the mode of application of the largely increased sum for deferred pay and increased pay, and of its total amount for the present and for future years; and that no mea-sure for increasing the efficiency of the Army is complete that does not include an improvement of the Militia Reserve and the diminution of the present competition between the Line and the Militia for the same class of men. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said, he was not unfavourable to the principle of deferred pay.


intimated that the hon. and gallant Member could not now move the Amendment, the House having voted that the words "That I now leave the Chair" stand part of the Question.


said, he would defer his remarks; but he wished to express an opinion that instead of voting so large an amount of deferred pay, it would have been wiser to proceed by tentative steps. The Army Estimates were increased this year by £600,000, and it appeared that this increased item for deferred pay would, in 21 years, amount to £500,000 a-year. He should have preferred a return to the system of bounties, objectionable as it was in some respects, until it was seen whether this largo increase of expenditure was necessary, although in principle he was favourable both to deferred pay and increased pay.


denied that the pay of the soldier had been increased. Formerly he was enlisted with the prospect of a pension, which was equivalent to 1s. 10d. a week distributed over his weekly pay. The Secretary for War proposed to give rather less than 1s. 2d.—less because deferred—which was Sinless than we formerly gave. He denied that the 4d. given to the Reserve was any increase of pay, because it no more than fairly balanced the contingent liability to be called out for service.


said, that with regard to the Marines a Question had already been asked by the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) as to I whether, in consequence of this addition to the soldiers' pay, a similar addition would be made to the pay of the Marines, when the First Lord of the Admiralty stated that nothing had been settled in regard to the subject. He thought he might assume that the Secretary for War had since then been in communication with the First Lord on the matter. With regard to India, he understood that an increase would also be given to the soldiers there, and he desired to have an accurate statement of the effect of that increase on the Indian finances. It would have been better if the information as to the effect on our own finances which had been furnished that morning had been supplied before the Vote was taken. If, instead of proposing deferred pay, the Secretary for War had proposed an immediate increase of 2d., the proposal would have excited more attention than it did now, when only £19,000 was added to the Estimates, although the increase of liability amounted to £320,000 a-year. He acquitted the right hon. Gentleman of any idea of lightening the present Estimates, because he proposed deferred pay on its own merits; but when a measure involved a large liability and an accruing charge, the fullest information ought to be furnished as to the effect upon the finances both of India and England from year to year.


cordially supported the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sunderland, and urged that the information which he asked for as regarded the application of the large additions to the pay of the non-commissioned officers and soldiers should be furnished, even though the Resolution could not be put. It was only right that time should be afforded for Members to study the details. Large increases had of late years been made to the pay of the soldier, particularly by General Peel and subse quently by Lord Cardwell, without any visible good, in inducing men to enlist. With regard to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, he also cordially deprecated unnecessary increase of the military expenditure of India, which, year after year, had occurred. It was desirable that the House should have the full details of the measures of the right hon. Gentleman placed before them, both with regard to the Army in India as well as at home. The additions made by General Peel to the pay of the Army at home had increased the military expenditure in India, as was reported, by one-third of a million, without the slightest good being effected. Since then the charges for bounty and kit on soldiers extending their service to India had been continued, adding thereby most uselessly to the military charges of India.


said, he thought he had some reason for surprise at the course which had been taken on this subject. With regard to deferred pay, he had stated the sum total in the first instance. It was rather over than understated; and with respect to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschon), that they should vote the whole sum as it arose, there never was any such financial proceeding. They might as well in the matter of buildings insist on taking at once the whole sum that would be spent in future years. The normal amount of expenditure would not arise for many years, and a great many things might occur to modify it. This was a very outside Estimate. The House had not been at all left in the dark. He had told them the whole sum that would be required; therefore, there could be no delusion with respect to it. There had been two nights' debate practically on the first Vote, and now the same discussion was revived. He made no complaint. He invited discussion at the first; he only wanted the House to understand that he had kept nothing back. With respect to India, when he came into office he found it difficult to arrive at any accurate conclusion as to the cost of different branches of the Army, and he admitted that this year he did not pretend to do more than give a rough estimate. There was no doubt, however, that India would have to pay a considerable sum in consequence of the deferred pay. The Reserve would not affect India. It was kept for our own purposes, and would therefore be paid by this country alone. As to the question of the pay of the Marines, this was hardly a proper question to address to the Secretary for War, who had no control whatever over the Marines. The great increase of pay which had been talked of would probably turn out a very moderate increase; but so essential did he deem this proposal to be, on the eve of the time when there must be a large increase in the number of recruits, that he should have found it necessary to make the proposal even if it had cost much more. The cost might be great, but the necessity was great. He had made the proposal in as moderate a form as possible, had made it as openly as possible, and did not think there was fair ground for the criticisms which had been made on this point.


said, that the increased pay involved, almost inevitably, a similar step as regarded the Navy, and there ought to have been a statement from the responsible head of the Navy. He complained, too, that the Treasury, to whom the subject would be referred in the ordinary course of business, did not seem to have inquired what was proposed with regard to the Marines. The Navy Estimates contained no provision for increased pay to the Marines, though the invariable practice had been that the pay of this corps should be the same as the pay of the Army. As to India, though it was admitted that the charge would throw increased burdens upon that country, we had no information what the amount of those burdens would be. The statement placed on the Table should have shown the total increase, and then the charge to both countries. As it was, though the increase was only £19,000 for the year, the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman would ultimately entail upon the country and India a total burden of something like £600,000 or £700,000 a-year. Such an increased charge might be necessary or unnecessary, but it required more careful consideration than had hitherto been given to it.

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