HC Deb 07 March 1878 vol 238 cc943-8

Report [4th March.]

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [6th March],"That the said Resolutions be read a second time."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.

Question put, and agreed to.

First Resolution read a first time.

On Question "That the Resolution be read a second time,"


called attention to a matter of some importance, to which he had referred when Vote I was passing through Committee. It was, he said, a question connected with the pay and allowances for recruits and hospitals. In the Estimates of 1876–7, at page 16, under the head of Special Allowances, a sum appeared of £13,190; and, two Sessions ago, the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. A. Moore) asked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to give some explanation respecting that item. The right hon. Gentleman's reply was that, if the hon. Member would move for Returns on the subject, he would be very willing to grant them. In compliance with that intimation, the hon. Member did move for Returns. One was granted, and it gave a partial explanation of the item of £13,190. The hon. Member for Clonmel was naturally dissatisfied at the scanty nature of the information contained in that Return, and accordingly moved for a further Return. In the first the item of £11,179 was not explained, and in the second it was represented as being partly for hospital services and partly for recruiting and miscellaneous services. Of that sum of £11,179, it appeared that only £6,260 was supplied for hospital services, the remainder being put down in the Return as the average profits accruing to field officers and captains. These average profits would appear to be £6,278 for field officers and captains. Of the sum of £11,179, no portion seemed to have been spent for recruiting services. Under the head of Extra Pay, he found the sum of £6,910; but, in the Estimates of the present year, he was unable to discover any mention of the particular item of £13,190, which appeared in the Estimates of 1876–7. Before the Return, moved for by the hon. Member for Clonmel, was granted, that item of £13,190 was put under the head of Special Allowances. When the first Return was granted, only a portion of that sum was accounted for, and the remainder was put down as an allowance of £158 to each company. The subsequent Return explained that the balance of £11,179 was devoted to hospital and recruiting services; but only a portion—namely, £6,260—had been devoted to hospital services, and none to recruiting services. The item of £ 13,190 had disappeared from the Estimates of the present year; and he did not know where it was to be found. He had asked the right hon. Gentleman to tell him where it was, and to point it out, or to say whether the £6,910 was the item in question, and what had become of the rest of the £13,190, which had appeared in the Estimates of 1876–7, but not in the Estimates of 1878–9. For his own part, he was disposed to think that a portion of it was contained in the item of 6,910, for Extra Pay; because it was just what the captains of companies, the field officers, and staff sergeants received. If that was the case, he would like to know what had become of the balance? He moved that the Vote of £4,690,269 be reduced by the sum of £6,910. That was on Vote 1.


explained that the matter to which the hon. Member had directed attention came under Vote 21.

Question put, and agreed to.

Second Resolution read a first time.

On Question, "That the Resolution be read a second time,"

Amendment proposed, to leave out"£4,572,000,"in order to insert"£4,565,090,"—(Mr. Parnell,)—instead thereof.

Question proposed,"That£4,572,000"stand part of proposed Resolution."


The question of the Stock Purse of the Foot Guards was originally raised by the hon. Member for Clonmel in 1876, and as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Parnell) has stated, I gave him the Return for which he asked. That Return explained how the money was distributed. The fact is, that the Stock Purse was as old as the reign of Charles II., when there was no standing Army; and it was originated by the officers of the Guards, who took charge of their own affairs, and paid various expenses, receiving certain profits on the supplies. Up to the time of the Crimean War that system continued. After the Crimean War, what had been an uncertain allowance was made a permanent allowance, dealing with the different subjects which had come under the head of the Stock Purse, such as recruiting services, hospital services, and the like. It was a certain sum paid to the officers in lieu of the profits they had received on supplies. A Committee sat in the War Office on the subject; and, after that inquiry, the Motion made in the House in 1876 was brought forward; and last year, the distribution to which I have just referred was not continued. This year, £6,910 is, I understand, the payment which was given to the captains. It is the payment which they have always had before. It was allotted to them, subsequent to the Crimean War, as a regular payment. The other items have now been distributed under the different heads to which they properly belong; not given separately, but mixed up with the other heads. That, I understand, is the arrangement which has been made; certainly, I know it was the one intended to be made. I am bound to say that I could not follow the hon. Member in his references; be- cause the Memorandum he sent me contained the intimation that he was going to object to extra pay with respect to the Foot Guards. I have referred to the items of that pay, but I may not have looked at them with great care. I think my explanation will be sufficient, as showing that the £158 per company has been distributed over several items; whilst, with regard to these extra payments to captains, they are to be divisible amongst them. If you make the calculation, as, I believe the hon. Member has done, you will find that the former practice of keeping the items separate has been discontinued, and that they are found distributed under the various headings to which they respectively belong.


said, the accounts showed that, up to the years 1876 and 1877, inclusive, a very large sum of £6,000 had been voted, under the head of hospital expenses, recruiting expenses, and miscellaneous expenses— a sum which did not go for those purposes, but which formed part of the pay, or rather of the perquisite, of the officers of the Guards. Therefore, up to that period, neither the public nor the House were aware of the object to which that sum was devoted. It was now, for the first time, presented to the House in its true aspect as a sum of money payable to the officers of the Guards. A question remained to be discussed upon it that was deserving of the consideration of those who had regard for economy. That would be evident to anyone who recalled what had been said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the present Secretary to the Treasury (Colonel Stanley) when this matter was brought before the House by the hon. Member for Clonmel. The hon. and gallant Gentleman then admitted that this sum was paid to the officers of the Guards, and was included under a head which did not suggest any payment to the officers of the Guards; and he said, also, he believed it was not in accordance with the feeling of those officers that there should be an inquiry into the Stock Purse expenses; that such an inquiry had been contemplated for some time past, but the question up to the time at which he spoke was not rife for investigation. As an inquiry had since taken place, those who had regard for economy, and those who looked with suspicion upon a Vote granted for one purpose and devoted to another, would like to know the conclusions which had been come to, and the grounds on which those conclusions had been based. The Secretary to the Treasury seemed very doubtful as to whether these payments could not be sustained; because he used these words—"Whether these allowances were right or wrong, they were payments which had been made from time immemorial." So that all that he, holding high office at the time in the War Department could say was, that prescription was the argument on which he relied in behalf of these payments. A reason had now been made out for asking why these payments were made, and for asking the House to consider whether they should continue. With reference to the sum of £11,079, which had appeared in the former Estimates, it could not be found in the present Estimates, nor did the right hon. Gentleman, by any explanation, enable hon. Members to trace it there. It was a sum which was supposed to have been spent in recruiting. When he looked at the Return, to ascertain how the money was actually expended, and turned to the items for recruiting, he found that of that sum of £11,079, only £145 had been disbursed by the Guards in recruiting. On the other side, amongst the Receipts, he found under the head of "Ready money" paid to men discharged by purchase out of the taxes of the country into the pockets of the Guards' Department—or, in other words, into the Regimental Stock Purse—a sum, in excess, amounting to £713. That was to say, £11,000 was given to them, amongst other matters, for purposes of recruiting; they spent £145 on certain recruiting purposes; and then they were recouped for that expenditure of £145 with £713, taken out of the public funds. That certainly was a strange anomaly; but there was a stranger one still. The Return moved for by the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. A. Moore), showed that all the expenses of recruiting in these regiments of Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, and Scots Guards were not borne out of that £11,000, not even by the £745 voted from another portion of the public funds, and passed into the Stock Purse; but voted under another head altogether, and brought out of the amount of £6,500. That was to say, the country had to pay, according to the Return, £6,500 for recruiting in the Guards, and £145 out of the £11,000 besides. What had become of the £11,000 was hard to say. It was under some extraordinary fiction that £743 was recouped to the Guards from the Stock Purse Fund. If this was not a case for an inquiry, he had never heard of one. He had said nothing about the hospitals. He would not go into details on that part of the question; but it certainly seemed to him a strange circumstance that, although large sums had been voted for the Stock Purse Funds, out of which the officers of the Guards were supposed to defray all their hospital expenses, still some of the most sacred obligations which they could contract were left undischarged by those officers. A Roman Catholic clergyman, whose duty, as a pastor in Westminster, it was to attend all the hospitals of the Guards, told him only the other day that he himself had been in almost constant attendance there; that Roman Catholic clergymen paid frequent visits; that they had to attend the funerals of Catholic soldiers who died in these hospitals; and yet they received no remuneration whatever for discharging those duties. Whether it was in good taste for gentlemen who had the control of these funds to allow such services to be unrequited, he left them to decide. If it was true that the Guards, and not the War Office, had the control of the hospitals and the other institutions attached to these regiments, he certainly should look not to the War Department, but to the Guards themselves, to defray these expenses out of the funds at their disposal.


though not satisfied with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Resolution agreed to.

Subsequent Resolutions agreed to.

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