§ MR. CHILDERS
In accordance with the understanding arrived at a few days ago, I rise to move, Sir, that you do now leave the Chair. The Notice on the Paper states that I am to propose Votes 5, 8, 18, and 19, in the Army Estimates in Committee of Supply. I put those Votes on the Paper more as a description of the subjects on which the House would desire to discuss the Army question to-day than with any distinct intention of putting them in Committee of Supply, for even if we should reach the point of going into Supply before 7 o'clock, I should not think of putting them in the event of any objection being raised, although, of course, if there were no objection, I should be glad to take one or two Votes. My object in rising now to move that Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair is to afford hon. Members some additional information with respect to the plans of Army Organization which I unfolded to the House nearly four months ago, as to which I laid on the Table a Memorandum on the following day, and another within the last few days. I may say that since the original Memorandum was on the Table, referring as it does to an extremely difficult and intricate subject, a great many suggestions have been made to us, many of them by way of Questions asked by hon. Members in the House, and others in accordance with my particular request, in the shape of notes addressed to me; and I desire to thank hon. Members for the great assistance they have given us in this manner as regards the elaboration of these details. When hon. Members peruse the Revised Memorandum they will see that we have taken advantage of a good deal of the information contained in those suggestions, whether addressed to me in this House or outside, and that, with the assistance of the very competent officers of the War 1229 Office, from the Commander-in-chief down to the junior clerks, we have been able to reach most of the difficulties that stood in our way. I find that a mass of suggested reforms from one end of the Army to the other has been before my Predecessors in Office as well as myself, and no Secretary of State could have deferred dealing with these accumulated questions beyond the present Session. As I explained before, we stand in the position of having unfolded to the House certain great principles, and certain great changes based upon those principles, with regard to the whole question of Army Organization. What I now propose to do, and I shall do it as shortly as I can, is to explain to the House in what respects the Revised Memorandum, and action we propose to take in accordance with it varies, as it does slightly, from the details of the original Memorandum. Now, Sir, I will take first the most important question with which I stated in March last we proposed to deal. I mean the future length of the men's service; and I will explain the changes we contemplate in the plan as originally stated. In the first instance, we propose that the additional year of service which may be required of a soldier should not be, as it is under the present law, obligatory on him either in the event of war or in the event of the regiment being abroad, but that in the contract with the man he should agree to serve for his additional year if the regiment is abroad, and, if the country should be in a state of war, a further year should be obligatory on him by statute. Thus, if a man be serving abroad, and a state of war ensues, he would be liable to serve nine years with the Colours—that is to say, seven normally, one as being abroad, and one on account of war. We also propose that there should be a longer term of Colour service in the case of certain men in the Artillery. Under the original Memorandum there was to be an uniform term of seven or eight years' service; but we now propose, not as a matter of contract, but of voluntary arrangement, that the term should be in the case of a certain portion of the Artillery, especially the Coast Brigade, for an additional five years after the first five years, so that these men may serve with the Colours for 10 years; and that, if a man is asked to 1230 serve for two years more he should be entitled for four years to go into the second-class Army Reserve, with £6 a-year Reserve pay. With respect to the Household Cavalry, we propose to retain the present system. I may-say we have carefully considered, and have had the advantage of the opinion of a large number of military officers on the question, which has excited much interest in certain quarters, whether a private, after 12 years, should, be allowed to re-engage; but after careful consideration and the taking of the advice of many experienced officers, I have arrived at the conclusion that if a private soldier has not, after 12 years' service, become a corporal, it is not worth the while of the State to re-engage him as a private. On the other hand, if he has become a non-commissioned officer in that period we give him the privilege of being re-engaged. In the case of a corporal, the privilege would be subject to the sanction of the commanding officer; but any sergeant will be so entitled, whether his commanding officer wishes it or not, unless his re-engagement is vetoed at the War Office. That is to say, we give to the sergeant what has been so much desired, and, in a less degree, to the corporal also—an assured service of 21 years, with a right to a pension. We have come to this conclusion, having, among other things, regard to the fact that in consequence of his right to pension at the end of his service, a re-engaged soldier costs the State £300 more than one not entitled to pension, and we do not think that a man who has never been thought worthy to be a corporal is worth this difference. The next division of the subject I propose to take is the pecuniary prospect of the soldier. I explained to the House, in originally moving the Estimates, that what we thought the best method of improving the character of the men and making the Army more popular was not so much to increase the pay or emoluments of the private soldier, although, in more than one respect, that is to be done, but to improve the position of the offices they may aspire to—that is to say, to put the non-commissioned officers on a much better footing, whether corporal or sergeant; to raise the character of the status of the leading non-commissioned officer of a regiment, so that he should be elevated above the 1231 other non-commissioned officers and become a warrant officer; to improve his pay, and also to ameliorate the condition of those who have from the noncommissioned or warrant ranks received a commission. We did a good deal in that direction in the original Memorandum; but, if hon. Members will refer to it, they will see we have done still more in the Revised Memorandum. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Alexander), who takes great interest in the status of the quartermasters, will see that we have given them very considerable additional boons by this second Memorandum. We have increased their maximum pay by Is. 6d. per day; we have reduced, the length of time necessary for them to attain to higher rates; and in other respects, including rank on retirement, we have benefited him. In the same way, as to men promoted to lieutenancies from the ranks, we have greatly improved their position and also their prospects when they retire. In answer to a question some time ago, I said that the number of men who could get commissions would be greater than before. Accordingly, we have doubled the number of men who may in a year receive commissions from the ranks; and, if the additional boons granted to men so promoted result in a still better class of men obtaining commissions in this way, I shall be quite prepared still further to increase the annual number. I pass now to the prospects of the officers, and it will be seen that we have done much by the Revised Memorandum, partly by way of explanation, and partly by way of actual improvement. For instance, at the bottom of the scale, the time in which a lieutenant may reach from the lowest the next rate of pay has for the present been reduced from three to two years. Proceeding to the next rank, we have made the prospects of Purchase captains perfectly plain; and I think those who asked me questions on the subject in the House will see that every captain's rights under the Purchase system have been most carefully and completely dealt with. We have added, in many cases, to the pension on compulsory retirement £50 a-year. With respect to captains of Artillery, as to whom the question was very difficult to deal with, we have temporarily raised the age at which they must be compulsorily retired, 1232 so that they will be retired at 42 instead of at 40. With regard to compulsory retirement generally, let me remind the House that the mitigation of its severity was one of the main objects of our arrangements. I showed before to the House that if the state of things which I found in force was permanently continued, we should some day have as many as 4,500 captains retired from that rank at the age of 40, at a cost of something like £900,000 a-year, their services at that early age being entirely lost to the country. Now, there must be a certain amount of compulsory retirement under any conceivable system of efficient Army or Navy; but, instead of this retirement mainly taking effect among captains at the age of 40, we have endeavoured to retain the services of as many officers as possible up to the age of 50, 55, or even more, in the higher ranks. Instead of a large number retiring from, the exigencies of the Services at the early age of 40, a smaller number will now retire at later ages upon terms far more satisfactory to them and to the Public Service. I have shown that another result of this will be that, instead of sending out of the Army at an early age a large number of officers whose places would have to be at once filled up again by cadets, the number of appointments to the Army will be reduced by the retirement taking place so much later. Therefore, there will be two good results—officers, on the average, will remain in the Army a longer time, making their engagements more valuable to them; and we should not require to enter so large a number of young men. As I have stated to the House before, the number of entrants into the Army from this result and from the new regimental organization would be about 50 a-year less than now, resulting ultimately in a total reduction of 500 in the active list of officers; and this, taking the active and retired lists together, would give a reduction to the extent of something like 2,500 officers. I conceive that the economical result is not the most important, considerable as the saving will be; but that where most good will be gained will be in the minimizing the heartburning, if not discontent, which every officer when he gets his company must feel, when he reflects that under the present system the chances are more than equal that he will be 1233 forced out of the Army at the age of 40. But in removing this grievance we have to. systematize retirement at higher ages; and we have mainly to deal with two classes—the senior colonels and the general officers. I will take the general officers first. A great deal has been said in mitigation of the necessity of reducing the number of general officers, to the extent to which we propose to reduce it, and as to the terms upon which retirement from the list is accomplished. About that, what I have to say is this—We have fixed the number of general officers at about double the average number who will be employed in ordinary times, leaving, therefore, ample margin for times of great wars. I do not speak of small wars, which add but slightly to the general's employment. We have brought that number down to what is considered by those who advise me on this subject an efficient number with respect to the requirements of the Service. Then, in deciding what should be the rule and method of retirement, we have applied such a system as acting upon that number we consider will produce a good average flow of promotion. If you make the rules of retirement less easy, you check promotion; and if you make the number of officers larger, you, by increasing the period of non-employment, check efficiency; but by settling, in the first instance, what ought to be the number in the upper ranks, and then deciding what system of retirement will give a good flow of promotion, we solve the double problem. With respect to retirement from these ranks, every general officer will have a right, if he chooses, to remain under the present system for unattached pay or colonelcy of a regiment, or take the new one for half pay and retired pay; but it has been strongly urged that as a great many officers in the rank of colonel have elected to remain in the Army because of the prospect of reaching the list of generals, with these pecuniary advantages we ought to be extremely careful not to compel them to retire on a scale of pensions less than the value of these prospects. This we have scrupulously observed, and every colonel who was lieutenant-colonel in 1877, and who, under the operation of the new system, has to retire at an earlier age than he is compelled to retire at now—will be entitled to receive the pension 1234 actuarially calculated as precisely equivalent to the present prospect of unattached pay, and of succeeding in due time to £1,000 a-year. That calculation he will be entitled to have actuarially made when his pension is settled. On one point I can give the House an interesting figure. I have had a careful calculation made of the present value of his unattached pay and prospective colonelcy of a regiment when an officer becomes a major general, and I find that it is £7,761, whereas under the new system of half pay and retired pay the present value is £7,807. We have, therefore, fully kept up the prospects of these officers. I come now to the fourth branch of the subject—that is, regimental organization. I have, in answer to Questions during the last three months, explained, I think, almost all our further changes. The chief ones are that there will be in the Cavalry as in the Infantry a second lieutenant colonel, and three instead of four majors. We also do not intend to require the adjutant to be a captain, a lieutenant being, in future, equally eligible. I pass now to the new system of territorial regiments. That system is the necessary sequence, in my opinion, of the linked battalions introduced by Lord Cardwell, and was advised by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Stanley) and his powerful Committee. On this subject I think the few changes that have been made in details since March, when I unfolded the original Scheme, will have been found to be satisfactory. We have received from different quarters suggestions as to better combinations of battalions, and in many cases we have been able to carry them out. Even within the last few days I have been able to make arrangements with respect to the battalions connected with Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, and Herefordshire, which I trust will be satisfactory. These are the five principal heads of the change in Army Organization, which I explained in March last. Let me sum up to the House in two or three words what these changes will, I hope, produce. In the first place, I hope that by the combination of two regiments, and by the new system of reliefs, and of facilitating the transfer of men and officers from one battalion to another, as is now the case in the Rifle Brigade or the 60th Rifles, or 1235 the double-battalion regiments, we shall arrive at a more satisfactory understanding with respect to the equal employment of men and officers at home and abroad, with greater facilities for exchanges between home and foreign service. The second advantage is the great reduction of compulsory retirement, which instead of being almost limited to captains at 40, and generals at 70, will be spread over all ranks, but altogether to a much less extent than now. The third, and not the least, is, in my belief, the great improvement in the prospects of the men, due to the higher pay of the non-commissioned ranks, the establishment of regimental warrant officers, and the better prospects of commissioned officers raised from the ranks. I believe much will thus be done to improve the tone of the Army, which will enable us to recruit from sources which we hardly reach now; and mainly, by that means, to reduce the waste of the Army, to reduce desertion, which has already been greatly reduced in comparison with the numbers recruited during the last few years—and to introduce a more satisfactory state of feeling in respect to the general popularity of the Army. I shall myself spare no effort in this direction, and I believe that this is the most important branch of Army Reform to which public attention can be called. We may thus be able to avoid what foreigners tell us is the only method of raising an efficient Army—conscription. Conscription is unpopular in this country, and I believe would altogether break down; but I hope, by improving the prospects of the soldier, to arrive at the same result as is obtained in other countries by conscription. One word, in conclusion, as to the financial result of these changes. I have given the figures before; but I may, perhaps, be allowed to repeat them. We are at this moment burdened, and shall be for some time hence, with the very heavy dead weight which is due to the terms of service previous to 1872, and which we have to bear as well as the charges due to short service itself. It will not be till 21 years have elapsed since that time—that is to say, before 1893—that the dead weight of the Army will begin to diminish; and meanwhile, as I have stated previously, it must considerably increase. I do not mean to say that the aggregate Army 1236 Estimates will increase for 10 years, but only that the automatic increase of the pension list will continue, whatever economies may be made elsewhere. But the effect of the changes we are now making, as compared with what would result from the present rules for pay, pension, and retirement, and regimental organization, will produce, when matters reach their normal condition, a saving in the expense of the personnel of the Army of £780,000 a-year. That saving will be due to the reduced number of officers, the reduced amount of compulsory retirement, and to the short service of privates without pension. The saving in connection with officers will be £250,000 to this country, and £11,000 to India. In connection with the men it will be £445,000 to us and £160,000 to India. On the other hand, the improved pay of the non-commissioned officers, of warrant officers, and of officers promoted from the ranks, will cost us about £60,000, and India about £30,000. The increased charge in connection with the Reserve will be about £20,000 a-year. Including the charge for the Cavalry, and the great saving in reliefs, the aggregate figures show an economy of £680,000 to us and £220,000 to India—amounting, on the whole, to £900,000. I am sorry to say this is a saving which will not be effected until a far distant day; but the slowness of the gain in this respect ought not to dishearten us in carrying out a plan which will tend, as I think my right hon. and gallant Predecessor will admit, greatly to improve the efficiency of the Army both as to officers and men. With these remarks, I beg to move that you, Sir, do now leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Childers.)
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he had listened to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) with great interest, and he begged to thank him, not only for the great courtesy with which he uniformly treated all who had occasion to approach him, but also for the care with which he had carried out many of the suggestions which had been made to him. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman was one of those pleasant statements which, if it could be believed it was a correct esti- 1237 mate of what would happen, would show that in the future the Army would be everything that could be desired; but in the present circumstances under which they were now labouring, much, he thought, would remain to be done before the Army was in the same state of efficiency in which it once was. He held that on the question of the length of service depended the whole future of the English Army; and he said that in face of the fact that many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, and several organs in the Press, were loud and eloquent in their advocacy of the short-service system, especially one leading journal, and it was not difficult to read between the lines who was author of the article. He held that the matter was of so much importance that the House ought to lose no time in considering it, and that they ought to consider it fairly and dispassionately. The right hon. Gentleman admitted by the alterations he had proposed that the short-service system was not satisfactory, and that it ought to be modified; but what he had done in that direction had been done with a hesitating hand, and without, apparently, a full appreciation of the fact that it must necessarily tend to the disadvantage of the Service of the country to shorten the term of service of men in, for instance, the Artillery and Engineers, who had to deal with weapons of precision and with scientific appliances, and he must omit the Cavalry of the Line. The longer they could engage a man for, the better; for it was impossible to make a soldier in a day, and it was absurd to suppose that, having made him a soldier, he could be made available for service if, after being only a short time in the Army, he was drafted into the Reserve, and kept there for an indefinite period without being duly exercised in the use of the arms they would or might have to use. Then, again, with regard to the varied periods of enlistment and service in the Reserve, he thought they were objectionable. The real question was that there were to be two enlistments—one was to be for three years with the Colours and nine years in the Reserve, and the other was to be for seven years with the Colours and five years in the Reserve. [Mr. CHILDERS dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head; but that was be nearly correct that the War Office 1238 were to have the opportunity, if they wished, of passing as many men as they wanted into the Reserve.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, there would be only one enlistment. It would be for seven years at home, or eight if the man was abroad. He took no powers to compel anybody to go into the Reserve, though men would be allowed to go into the Reserve, under certain circumstances, after three or four years.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
replied, that the Scheme, nevertheless, was brought forward with the full intention that as many as possible should go into the Reserve, and even were they to go to India and the Colonies they were to be engaged for seven years.
§ MR. CHILDERS
I stated originally that recruiting for service in India would be absolutely for eight years, and that the additional year would probably be insisted on for service abroad.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, the recruit joining would not know for how long he would have to serve, and that was a mischievous thing in itself. If there was anything which men in this country disliked, it was the uncertainty of the time they had to serve; and he felt sure that, if persisted in, these proposals would prevent recruiting to a large degree.
§ MR. CHILDERS
stated that, under the present law, a man serving abroad might be kept for an additional year, and this liability also existed as to men serving at home in war time. Under the new law the additional year abroad would be a matter of contract, and the liability for the additional year in war time would be in the statute.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, that that was to a certain extent an improvement; but it should be clearly stated in the attestation paper, so that a man might know how long he had to serve. Another and, as he thought, very strong objection to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, was the constant transference of men from depôt centres and from regiment to regiment. In the old days a soldier's regiment was his home, and the result was the esprit de corps which was considered the most glorifying and essential feature in the formation of the 1239 British Army. Now, they were to have three changes in course of the Service. First, a man was to be sent to the depot centre, next to the home battalion, and then transferred to the other battalion in the Colonies or in India. Under this system that which was regarded as essential in our Army, its esprit de corps, and soldierly pride in a regiment, would be done away with. A more mischievous system to the interests of the Army could not be propounded in the House of Commons; and. one of the gravest and greatest objections he had to the scheme was that the commanding officers would only have their regiments for four years, and some only for two years. Commanding officers and men would hardly know each other. He thought the question ought to be boldly faced, because it was not only his opinion, but that of many other men who had looked into the question, that, unless some system other than that of short service were adopted, the personnel of the Army would deteriorate, and an Army such as that which marched under the command of Sir Frederick Roberts from Cabul to Candahar would become an impossibility. Of the three regiments which Sir Frederick Roberts marched from Cabul to Candahar, the average service in two of the regiments—the 60th and 72nd—was seven years per man; and in the third—the 92nd—it was nine years per man, a longer service than would ever be again seen in the British Army. And what did General Roberts say? He said—and his opinion was endorsed by Sir Garnet Wolseley—that no man ought to go into a campaign of that kind unless he had seen three years' service. The old soldiers of the British Army were going, and would soon be all gone. Then the practice of sending small detachments from various regiments, and mixing them all up, destroyed any real regimental feeling, and weakened the power of the troops. This question of short service was a very serious one. Men enlisted for service abroad ought to join the Army for not less than 10 years, and he believed more recruits would be obtained if this were the system adopted, as nothing could be more pitiful than, after a very short period of service, to send a man into the Reserve, with an almost certainty that he could not secure employment, because those who might otherwise employ him had 1240 no sort of certainty as to when he would be recalled to the Army, and they would, therefore, lose his services. Much had already been done to lessen the esprit de corps, and the affection for the country's military service, without which no man was worth being kept in our Army, by the declaration of peace after our re-verso at Laing's Nek. There was also another recent circumstance which would be likely to affect the discipline and the recruiting of the Army. When the highest honour that could be granted to our gallant men—namely, the Thanks of both Houses of Parliament, and when that honour was about to be paid to our Forces in Afghanistan by the House of Commons, they had seen Cabinet Ministers, and other Members of the present Government, walk out of the House, in order to avoid giving their votes in favour of men who had dared everything in the interests of their country. Great dissatisfaction,. he maintained, must be caused among soldiers, and those who looked forward to becoming soldiers, by the knowledge that whatever our troops might do and suffer, there existed a certain class of politicians who would willingly withhold from them the honours which the country wished them to receive. Turning to the subject of the new Territorial Scheme, he argued that, though the Scheme had now been modified to a certain extent, there were still defects in its provisions. It was felt by certain regiments that their interest had not been consulted. He must always urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the necessity of allowing the fighting regiments, which had won well-known and glorious titles, to retain the names under which they had for so many years fought. The Royal Fusiliers, for instance, enjoyed a title which nothing but positive coercion would make them lay aside. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had recognized the fact that Purchase captains deserved more consideration than that which it was originally intended should be shown to them. But were Purchase captains to receive any portion of their purchase money back, or was the State going to put that money into its own pocket? The Government, he held, ought to have the courage to deal with this question manfully, and to return the regulation price paid by these officers for their commissions. In some crack 1241 regiments, in which officers remained for longer periods than were usually spent in less fashionable regiments, there were Purchase officers who would be passed over altogether under the Scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. He knew of one regiment in which there were officers who obtained their companies in 1868, but who would be passed over by Non-purchase officers, who did not get their companies till 1874 or 1875. Another class of officers who had grievances which ought to be redressed consisted of those who, contrary to their own wishes, were placed upon half-pay when their regiments were disbanded. With regard to the rule requiring generals to retire if unemployed for five years, he expressed the opinion that the change would operate unfairly. The House had been solemnly assured by Lord Cardwell that the interest of purchase officers would not be allowed to suffer in consequence of the abolition of the Purchase system. Yet the Government now proposed by this five years' rule to place colonels as well as generals who had purchased their commissions in a far worse position than that which they would have occupied if the system had not been done away with. It was true, as he understood it from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, that colonels would be allowed to retain their distinguished service pensions. But with what justice could it be said that because a general had been fortunate enough to get his promotion early, he was to be mulct of £10 a-year for every year he was under 62, when retired, so that the whole amount did not exceed £100. Then, was he to be allowed nothing for his prospective chance of getting a regiment? Those were matters fairly deserving further consideration. The Government, in fact, were about to take from these officers all opportunity of advancement in the Service, when, according to the terms under which they had entered the Army, they were entitled to expect advancement. The only reasonable course to follow would be to return to these officers the regulation price of their commissions, and he was also of opinion that it would be fair to extend the proposed term of five years to seven years at least. A solemn responsibility rested upon the right hon. Gentleman, and he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) hoped that every consideration 1242 would be given to the defects which had been pointed out, so that the mischievous discontent which prevailed in the Army might be removed, and that the right hon. Gentleman would so use his power as to give justice and fair play to all ranks composing it.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
, in rising, according to Notice, to draw the attention of the House to the injustice to individuals, and the injury to the public service, which the compulsory retirement of efficient officers, in consequence of five years' non-employment, or on account of reaching a limit of age while still in the vigour of life, will cause in1 all cases, but specially in the cases of those officers who, relying on the assurances made by the Government, have paid for their promotion the sums required by the State for that purpose; and to move—That, in the opinion of this House, it is not desirable to carry into effect that part of the new Army scheme, recently laid upon the Table, which authorises the compulsory retirement of efficient officers under 70 years of age, but that increased inducements to voluntary retirement should be substituted therefor, according to the original plan laid down by Lord Cardwell, and sanctioned by Parliament in 1871,said, he thought the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had brought forward this subject (Mr. CHILDERS) was calculated to create misapprehension with regard to the compulsory retirement of commissioned officers of all ranks. The right hon. Gentleman told the House that every general officer would have the right to remain as he was, and that his rights and privileges would be scrupulously retained to him. The House was left to believe by that, that the present rights and privileges of general officers would be retained to them; but that was precisely what the general officers wished. He had letters every day, not only from general officers, but from colonels, captains, and subalterns, complaining of the Scheme of compulsory retirement, which they would be forced to accept without any alternative or choice whatever. The right hon. Gentleman was a great financier, and he (Sir Alexander Gordon) expected that the right hon. Gentleman had been discussing the question solely upon the financial considerations arising out of it. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to ignore the fact that there was something 1243 dearer to the officer than the money consideration, and that was the honour of serving his country in the Service to which he had devoted, and in which he had risked, his life. All that the officers, both old officers and young officers, asked was to be placed on the footing in which the right hon. Gentleman said they were placed by the new Scheme. He would just show, in a few words, how erroneous was the belief that the officers would be placed on that footing. That very morning he had a letter from a lieutenant-general, of which he had the gallant gentleman's permission to make use. And here he might just say that in regard to the mass of communications he had received on this subject, he had permission to use the whole of it; but he did not think it desirable to mention the names of any officers, because, if he did so, the officers in question would never hear the last of it at the Horse Guards and the War Office. In the particular case to which he wished at present to refer, the officer attended the levee of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-chief to ask for relief from the system of which he complained; and he mentioned to His Royal Highness that he was the youngest lieutenant-general but seven in the whole Army. The answer he received from His Royal Highness was—" You are suffering from the rapidity of your promotion." This officer was promoted for distinguished services in the field, and now, though quite a young man, he was forced to retire under this new Scheme. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had stated that special cases would be inquired into and provided for; and the officer in question, acting on this statement, wrote to ask that his case might be inquired into. The following was the reply he received from the Horse Guards:—His Royal Highness is unable to alter the decision which has been arrived at by the Secretary of State in regard to the compulsory retirement of general officers in consequence of the period of non-employment.The gallant officer then wrote to the Secretary of State for War, and the answer he received was—I am directed by the Field Marshal Commanding- in-Chief to acquaint you that the proposed new Warrant is now under consideration; but in carrying out the rules therein laid down it will not be possible to make an exception in favour of any particular officer.1244 That was how the matter stood with regard to this gallant officer. Now, with reference generally to this compulsory retirement of efficient officers of all ranks, he wished to remind the House that the system was begun in 1877 by Mr. Gathorne Hardy, who was then Secretary of State for War, and that right hon. Gentleman proposed that a captain should be retired at the age of 40. Hon. Members would recollect that that proposal was strongly opposed by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr.Trevelyan), who, on August 6, 1877, said—It was too evident that, with our present organization, the only means of making promotion rapid was by retiring officers from the lower ranks, and that was the method adopted in the scheme of the Government. That meant taking a man in the prime of life, and offering him a bribe to deprive the country of his services exactly when he became most valuable Our battalions ought to be organized on another system by which the plan of early retirement would be unnecessary, and which would do away in a great measure with the enormous burden, which this scheme proposed to entail on the country."—[3 Hansard, ccxxxvi. 475–6.]And who, afterwards, speaking at Galashiels, in November last, at a meeting of his constituents, further said that—Because the Horse Guards would not undertake the responsibility of promoting regimental officers by selection, we should, on the 1st January next, be reduced to the miserable expedient of ejecting from the Army, against their will, a number of excellent officers at an age which a man past 40 might be permitted to call the prime of life—breaking their hearts and the back of the English Exchequer.The question at that time, in 1877, went to a division; and he hoped the right hon. and hon. Members who then occupied the Front Opposition Bench would, today, vote in the same way as they did on that occasion in support of the Motion of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Scheme of 1877, as it was worked out, was quite intolerable.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, that the right hon. Gentleman stated that the Scheme, as it was worked out, was quite intolerable. They all knew that the right hon. Gentleman introduced compulsory retirement on account of non-employment into the Navy; and now he was introducing it into the Army. There was, however, a differ- 1245 ence between the two cases. In the case of the Navy 10 years' non-employment were given to admirals and commanders before they were retired, whereas in the Army the period allowed to all ranks was to be only five years. In the Navy there was this further difference, that the officers paid nothing for their advancement in the Service; but in the Army the most of these officers paid £4,500 for their commissions, and they had done so under rules, not made by themselves, but by the State. Yet now it was proposed to take that money away from them without giving any equivalent in return. The fact was, that this Scheme of compulsory retirement was one which threw the whole advantages of the upper ranks in the Army into the hands of a small clique—those who were in the upper classes of society, and who could, by their social and political friends, bring influence to bear at the Horse Guards and the War Office. These were the people who derived benefit from this Scheme, because they were the people who would get employment. The poor officer, on the other hand, who was unable to make his case heard, was driven out of the Army. No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman, surrounded at the War Office by officers who benefited by these rules, found that the system was highly approved of; and, no doubt, the Ministers of the day, surrounded, as they were, by those who would benefit, heard in the same way that the Scheme was an admirable one. During the late Government's term of Office, he once amused himself drawing up a list of the Lennoxes who found employment; and in the same way, if any hon. Member took The Army List and went over it, he would find how advance in the Army was made by men who had friends in Office. Lord Cardwell, in dealing with the subject of Army Reform, opened the door to every man who had ability to get in; but the Scheme now proposed closed that door except to the upper classes and a favoured few. All the changes we had recently made were changes in favour of the monied classes; and it would be interesting to have a Return of the number of poor men who had refused commands, solely because of their inability to bear the expenses that were entailed upon them. The monied men, and those bulked largely in view, were those who 1246 were in these positions. Let them look, as an instance of what he meant, at the I annual Review at Brighton, The men who commanded there were Princes, Dukes, and Lords. They came largely before the public, were naturally largely under the eyes of the Horse Guards, and they obtained the good positions. In the same way, it was mostly monied men who attended the Autumn Manœuvres, and most of the distinctions recently given to the Volunteers went to the monied men. With regard to the exemptions that were given from the non-employment rule, there were also very serious objections to the way that was carried out. He noticed, for example, that Queen's aides-de-camp were not to be exempted from compulsory retirement. These appointments could only be obtained by men who had performed the most distinguished services in the field; and it was hard that an officer who had been selected for that great honour should not have any advantage, but should be relegated as a useless piece of lumber to the retired list. On the other hand, Equerries to the Sovereign and the Prince of Wales were exempted from compulsory retirement, and of this he did not complain; but he did not see why the more civil duty should carry exemption from compulsory retirement with it, while the officer who discharged the more soldierly duty of aide-de-camp to Her Majesty should not be exempted from compulsory retirement. Now, he should like to read what Lord Cardwell said of promotion in the Army. In 1871, Lord Cardwell said—Of this, at least, officers may be certain, that a reasonable rapidity of promotion, such as is necessary for the benefit of the Service, is a vital consideration, and must be always provided by the the Crown and by Parliament. And when I say reasonable rapidity, I mean some such, rapidity as exists under the present system."—[3 Hansard, ccv. 144.]Mr. Gathorne Hardy, in 1877, referred to this passage, and said—That must be taken as the solemn promise of the Government by which, and through which, they carried the abolition of purchase."—[Ibid, ccxxxvi. 507.]All that the Army asked the Government to do was to fulfil the promise which was made by Lord Cardwell, in 1871, and which Mr. Gathorne Hardy, in 1877, said was a solemn promise by 1247 which and through which the Government carried the abolition of Purchase. What did the Secretary of State for War now propose? Instead of the promotion promised, the right hon. Gentleman gave compulsory retirement. Instead of a fish, he gave a stone. Did the right hon. Gentleman think that officers looking for promotion would thank him for compulsory retirement? It was not fulfilling the condition under which these officers remained in the Service. With regard to reducing the number of subalterns, recently, 816 officers had been added to the Army, to take the places of officers who had been "seconded," because it was held that the Army must be kept up to its full establishment of officers which were necessary for the Service; and now, having put the country to the expense of these additional officers, it was proposed by the new Scheme to reduce them by 480. The fact was that the Army, instead of being a real Profession in which a man could enter and hope to obtain promotion, was a gambling transaction, in which a man might rise, or in which he might not. If a man served in a regiment where the officers were happy and contented, and remained in the regiment, the chances were that he would not get promotion; but if the man got into a brandy-drinking regiment, with a detestable officer at the head of it, he would get speedy promotion. He had a letter from an officer in one of the best regiments in the Service, an old Peninsular regiment. This officer drew his attention to the fact that in the 94th there was a captain of 1879 who would be promoted to be major on the 1st of July, but that in this old Peninsular regiment there was a captain of 1868 who would not be promoted. This was a difference of 11 years. A junior was promoted and a senior left; and there were no fewer than 32 captains in the same position. They had heard of the Prussian Army, but the Prussians had not got compulsory retirement. On the contrary, they took very great care of their old officers. There was not an Army in Europe that he knew of that had a system of compulsory retirement. The Prussians adopted another system. They rejected an inefficient officer. Why did not we do the same? He knew the theory was that it was done, It was stated that inefficient officers 1248 were not promoted; but they were, somehow, promoted. The merits and demerits of officers were only known by the Reports of the general officers; and in order to show how officers were rejected or not rejected, he would read a few lines from two Reports which he himself had made many years ago. In one of these Reports he said—There have been 58 desertions in 12 months. Major is not, in my opinion, fit for command. There have been 108 courts martial in six months. The amount of drunkenness exceeds anything I have ever noticed.That was his Report upon the regiment, and this was the reply he received by way of encouragement—His Royal Highness has derived the greatest satisfaction from the perusal of documents so very creditable to the several corps concerned, all of which appear to be in a high state of discipline.In the margin two corps were named—one the regiment he (Sir Alexander Gordon) had reported upon; and the other a portion of the Commissariat Staff. He mentioned that, because he knew the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was a real reformer, and he wished him to take up the question of proper rejection and deal with it. If the right hon. Gentleman did so, there would be happiness and contentment in the Army, and there would be no need for the compulsory retirement of efficient officers. In another Report, he (Sir Alexander Gordon) said—I found the quartermaster's department in the most deplorable confusion. The accounts and books are nearly all wrong, and there is a considerable deficiency of stores. The quarter master admitted that on receiving notice that the regiment was to be inspected by the general officer, he counted over the clothing in store, and then desired the clerk to insert as issues such figures as would leave a balance corresponding with the articles in store. The quarterly account for the repair of accoutrements was all wrong, fictitious and fraudulent. It seems to be entirely in the hands of the quartermaster sergeant. Of all the commanding officers under my orders, Colonel is certainly the worst, both in the field and in office.This Report had reference to a corps which was in Ireland when Sir George Browne held the Command in Chief, and the following was the note he (Sir Alexander Gordon) made on the back of the Report:—After this Report was received by Sir George Browne, he told Colonel -—that it 1249 was impossible for him to remain in command, and that he had better make his arrangements for retiring quietly. The result was that Colonel—was made Inspecting Field Officer of one of the best recruiting districts in England; Quartermaster—obtained the honorary rank of Captain, and was allowed to retire on that rank; and the Quartermaster Sergeant was pensioned, and made a clerk at the War Office.This, as lie had said, occurred long ago; if it had been a recent case, he would not have mentioned it. But it showed, he thought, that undue leniency was exercised when severity ought to have been used. On the other hand, he had often found that undue severity had been used when leniency ought to have been shown, and that officers wore removed for unnecessary causes. His experience extended to two such cases. He had had occasion to obtain the reinstatement of two officers who had been improperly removed from the Army in consequence of improper Reports which had not been investigated in a proper manner. The system of compulsory retirement caused great hardship in many cases; and he would mention one such case. General Shute, when a Member of the House of Commons, was offered the post of Inspector General of Cavalry—a post to which all Cavalry officers aspired. General Shute would have accepted it, but the Minister of War of the day begged him not to take the appointment, and to remain in the House of Commons, where his presence was desired by the Secretary of State for War. General Shute accordingly declined the post, hoping to have his turn some other time. What happened? He had been promoted more rapidly than had been expected; and now General Shute was to be turned out as rubbish and refuse that was of no use in the Army. Dealing with the regimental system, he would point out that Mr. Gathorne Hardy declined to adopt it; and he thought that right hon. Gentleman acted on very good reason in doing so. He (Sir Alexander Gordon) thought the scheme was objectionable in different ways; and, while he said so, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War did not think he was one of those who was opposed to all change. [To show this, the hon. and gallant Gentleman read an extract from a paper he had given to Mr. Cardwell in 1873, pointing out where his scheme of linked batal- 1250 lions would fail.] And it had failed precisely as he had indicated. He printed the paper in the following year.The principle of the amalgamation which the Government seek to obtain by the recent changes would appear to be to destroy the individual interest and traditions of regiments, and henceforth to regard only those of the United Brigade; but the steps taken to carry this principle into effect are not complete. To be effectual, the county names and traditions of individual regiments must in future be merged in the county name and the traditions of the brigade in which they are linked together. The traditions of a regiment are very interesting to the officers in it; but they are of less importance to the country than a good organization, and must yield before the superior advantage of a perfect fusion of two regiments into one brigade, which the Government desire, but which cannot be complete as long as old traditions are fostered, and precedence, &c, retained.He was, perhaps, too much a reformer for his own benefit. The part of the system to which he chiefly objected was the increase that was made to the number of mounted officers. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to double the number of mounted officers—that was to say, instead of three mounted officers there would be six in future; and that was being done while the total number of officers had been reduced 480. Again, why had the second lieutenant-colonels been appointed, seeing they had nothing to do? In his own time second lieutenant-colonels had been reduced, because they had been found to be useless and sometimes mischievous. And why were they going to reduce the number of the very men that were wanted—namely, the subalterns? He only wished further to say that he had hoped when the right hon. Gentleman came into Office, he would have tackled the great reform so much, wanted by persons both in and out of the Army—the placing of the administration of the Army on the same footing as the administration of the Navy, and giving more public access to the different positions in the administration of the Army. No Government had hitherto had the courage to press it; but it was a reform that was much wanted, and he would have been glad if the right hon. Gentleman had seen his way to undertake it. He begged to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
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, it is not desirable to carry into effect that part of the new Army scheme, recently laid upon the Table, which authorises the compulsory retirement of efficient officers under 70 years of age, but that increased inducements to voluntary retirement should he substituted therefor, according to the original plan laid down by Lord Cardwell, and sanctioned by Parliament in 1871,"—(Sir Alexander Gordon,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
SIR ROBERT LOYD-LINDSAY
said, he wished to remind hon. Members that the hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir Alexander Gordon) had condemned the late quite as strongly as he had the present Government in connection with this subject; and from that circumstance he felt that he could safely congratulate the House and the country on the fact that the reform of the Army was not made a Party question. He (Sir Robert Loyd-Lindsay) thought that the right hon. Gentleman had gone as far as he could properly go in the scheme he had submitted, and quite as far as he could go in his concessions to those who had advocated the claims of the Colours in preference to the claims of the Reserve. He had no difficulty whatever in understanding the views and the feelings which officers of the Army held with regard to the maintaining the efficiency of the Colours. It was quite natural that an officer who had taken very great pains with the men under his command, and brought them to a high state of discipline, should view with great reluctance the prospect of seeing them moved off to the unknown limbo of the Reserves; but the Secretary of State had to consider in what way he could supply the place of those whom a war would place hors de combat. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir "Walter B. Barttelot) was therefore tinged with the unfairness of those who argued in favour of long service, and carefully ignored its disadvantages, and he could not agree with his hon. and gallant Friend in the criticisms he had made upon the short-service system. Long service, of course, produced a limited number of fine troops; but the losses incident to a long campaign, such as that in the Crimea, made all its weak points only too evident. When the 1252 Crimean War broke out magnificent regiments of the finest soldiers started for the seat of war. Three months afterwards, when the "shine" had been taken out of them, and many of them were hors de combat, there was no Reserve to fall back upon to fill up their ranks. The consequence was that the highways and hedges had to be searched for recruits—and it would have been well had that been all; but as they had also to go into the back slums of all our great cities for them, boys were sent out who were perfectly unfit for duty, so that Lord Raglan had to beg the authorities at home for Heaven's sake to send out no more of such recruits, because they were clogging the hospitals long before they came in face of the enemy. The long-service system had broken down, and in favour of a short service there appeared to him to be three convincing reasons. With the long-service system they could have no Reserve; there was an enormous non-effective charge upon the Army; and they were embarrassed with a very large number of married soldiers, who needed expensive barracks, and who, though very steady in time of peace, were home-sick in war time. No doubt, commanding officers were very well pleased when they were not on active service to have married soldiers in the ranks, because they were steady and well-behaved; but on active service nothing could be worse. The Warrant said that in India the service would be for eight years, and that for men abroad it might be extended to eight; and then it went on to say that the Secretary of State would not be precluded from extending the term to 12 years. That would be a blow at the Reserve, which had never been very brilliant, but had come out very well when called for. Many officers prophesied that the Reserve which was on paper would never be heard of; but, unluckily for the prophets, at least 95 per cent of the men appeared, and were excellent soldiers. But the prophets were on their legs again. He therefore hoped the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) would do his best to make the Reserve highly efficient. His hon. and gallant Friend said that the employers of labour ought to be looked after. Certainly they ought. He hoped that Railway Companies and others who refused to employ Reserve men would have their names mentioned in the House, and their 1253 unpatriotic conduct denounced. There was one class of Militia colonels during the Crimean War who would not let their men pass into the Line. Other colonels took a more patriotic course, and did better service to the country. He should like to see included under the 13th paragraph, the men of the Army Hospital Corps. His right hon. Friend had permitted a certain portion of artificers, drummers, and buglers to extend their period of service for 21 years, so as to earn pensions. He would appeal to his right hon. Friend to allow the Army Hospital Corps men to go in for pensions. They had to attend to the sick and wounded, and men of 35 and more were better fitted for that duty than younger men. He would make another appeal to his right hon. Friend on behalf of corporals. He knew that, with the leave of their commanding officers, they might serve for pensions; but the soldier on taking the stripes ought to know whether he would be allowed to make the Army his career. He gave his cordial support to the principle of territorial regiments. It was the principle of his right hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Stanley), and was proposed in his Committee. In the germs of that proposal there was the probability of a great success. But he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not included in those territorial regiments the Volunteers where that could be done. With regard to the depot centres, the right hon. Gentleman ought to consider how the scheme, which was a thoroughly good one, might be made to work. Although £3,000,000 had been spent upon it, the plan wanted more money to make it thoroughly efficient. They had the buildings for the depot centres scattered over the country; but hardly one of them was fit to receive a regiment of the Line or of the Militia. Until the counties should, from time to time, see their regiments among them, and hear their bands play in the streets, the territorial system would languish. If the right hon. Gentleman would call to his aid his Financial Secretary (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), who had for six years spoken on military affairs with such authority from the Opposition Benches, perhaps the money might be found.
§ COLONEL ALEXANDER
said, he had to thank the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) for the kind way in which he had taken into consideration the Memo- 1254 randum he (Colonel Alexander) had submitted on the case of the quartermasters, and for the concessions the right hon. Gentleman had made to them; but he must guard himself against being supposed entirely to approve of everything that had been done in that direction. There were two or three points to which he wished to direct attention, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider, even at the 11th hour, whether he could not make some slight modifications in the Memorandum. 1s. 6d. a-day increase was to be given to the quartermasters for 20 years' service upwards, and that seemed a very substantial improvement; but it was only a very slight improvement, and not in any way a substantial one. Of all the quartermasters in the active and Regular Army only five would come under the operation of the concession, and one of those five would be placed on half-pay in three months, and so would immediately forfeit the benefit. Then the rule obliging quartermasters to retire on completing 55 years of age would debar them from hoping to obtain this increase, so that the real increase which remained would be the magnificent sum of 4d. a-day. The right hon. Gentleman would earn the gratitude of the quartermasters if he would consider the advisability of granting this additional 1s. 6d. after 16 years, instead of after 20 years. Of the quartermasters six or eight would be obliged to retire on the 1st of July, and two within three months of that date, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give those unfortunate men a little breathing time, in order that they might obtain new employment. The hardest case would be this—A and B were two quartermasters, aged 55 years. A would complete 10 years' service on June 30th as a quartermaster, and would be allowed to remain three years longer; but B, completing his 10 years on the following day, would be obliged to retire immediately. That was not an equitable arrangement. What special virtue was there in 55 years? If that rule were applied to the Cabinet, he feared the country would lose some of its brightest and most illustrious ornaments immediately, and he was afraid even. the right hon. Gentleman himself (Mr. Childers) would not long survive the application of the rule. Then the maximum retiring allowance for quarter- 1255 masters was fixed at £200 a-year, with a deduction of £10 a-year for every year less than 20 years' service. If that deduction were made, surely there ought to be a corresponding increase of £10 for every year over 20; or if that were impossible, there should be a bonus of at least £50 on retirement. He must confess also that he did not like the rule by which quartermasters might be compulsorily retired after 10 or 15 or 20 years respectively, unless they were recommended for continuance on the ground of efficiency. That would place too much power in the hands of commanding officers; and if a quartermaster was inefficient, he ought immediately to be retired without reference to the period of service. He must also point out that the quartermaster-sergeants were disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman had not seen his way to carry out the recommendations of Lord Airey's Committee and given them, as well as the serjeant-majors, the rank of warrant officers. With regard to the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman generally, he did not believe the rule as to the 19 years' limit for recruits could be practically carried out, for, as a Committee of medical officers had stated, the signs by which age could be fixed were so uncertain that a youth of 18 might appear to be any age between that and 23. In a short-service system it would be better to fix the limit at 20. He deeply regretted that the right hon. Gentleman did not see his way to allow at least a percentage of the men, other than non-commissioned officers, to extend their service for pension, for he was sure every practical soldier would bear him out in the assertion that very beneficial results would accrue from the presence of a certain number of old soldiers of good character in a regiment, and their influence upon the younger men. These old soldiers were the salt of the regiment. In the barrack-room, and in the absence of the married sergeant, they assumed the position of noncommissioned officers. They repressed, to a certain extent, the use of bad language, which had such a baneful effect on men of respectability in deterring them from entering the Service. He attached great importance to the residence of a certain number of pensioners in recruiting districts. He also hoped those men who had completed six years 1256 with the Colours would be allowed to reengage for pensions. It would be a distinct breach of faith, which would be bitterly felt in the various recruiting districts, if they were forced into the Reserve. As to the objection that it would involve considerable expense, he believed the cost would be trivial. He was very glad the non-commissioned officers were to be allowed to re-engage; but he objected to their re-engagement being subject to the veto of the War Secretary. The matter was too small a detail for the Secretary of State to deal with, and he would advise that the re-engagement of a sergeant or a corporal should depend on the commanding officer. Then, with regard to the drummers and buglers, he wanted to know from the right hon. Gentleman why a certain proportion of the drummers and buglers only were to be allowed to extend their service for pensions? That would be an injustice to those who were not granted the privilege; and ho would point out that as they usually entered at 14 years of age, they had not had time to learn a trade, and if they were turned adrift at 25 they would have no means of livelihood. He further deeply regretted that, in time of peace, men who had served three years with the Colours were to be allowed, and even encouraged, to pass into the Reserve. By encouraging these young soldiers to convert their Army into a Reserve Service, they virtually sacrificed the active and Regular Army to the necessities of the so-called Reserve Force, which, perhaps, once or twice in a century might be called out for active service. In addition to that, it must not be forgotten that the calling out of the Reserves had the effect of depriving soldiers of civil employment which they had either gained or resumed on leaving the Army and entering the Reserve. His own view was that, instead of the Government trying by artificial means to increase the strength of the First Class Army Reserve, that magnificent Force, the Militia Reserve, should be utilized, as was recommended some time ago by Sir Henry Havelock-Allen, who was at that time a Member of the House. He agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) in condemning altogether that rule by which officers were compelled to retire after five years' non- 1257 employment, and lie believed the enforcement of that rule would be a frightful source of jobbery and favouritism.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
, who had the following Notice on the Paper:—To move, That the Army Retirement scheme, as embodied in the June Memorandum, entails considerable and unnecessary expense, and that this unnecessary expense is largely owing to the most prominent feature of the scheme, namely, the compulsory retirement of officers whilst they are physically fit for service;said, that while agreeing that the Memorandum of the right hon. Gentleman was good, as far as it went, in reference to the cases of non-commissioned officers, lie thought it did not throw open a sufficient number of commissions to such officers. He also thought that the position of the private soldier was in no way improved. As regarded them, he thought the Secretary of State for War was making two mistakes in totally opposite directions; the fact being that the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman would have the effect of keeping on the bad characters in the Army, and of discharging the good men after shorter service. What should be done was just the contrary of this—the bad men should be got into the Reserve as quickly as possible, and the good men kept on active service as an example to others. As far as the commissioned officers were concerned, he could not help thinking that the present proposal was one which, could only result in giving a new lease of life to the bad system of compulsory retirement of captains at 40 years of age, just when they had become most competent for the discharge of their duties. That system, which was a very bad one, was introduced by the Conservative Government in 1877. He (Major Nolan) objected to it, believing that it would not only inflict hardship on the officers affected, but involve a cost of at least £1,200,000. There was, he would point out, no other Military Service in Europe by which men were retired at the early age of 40, and so strong was his objection to this practice that, although he did not altogether approve of the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon), thinking his own Motion rather preferable to it, he would gladly vote for it, as it contained a strong protest against the system of 1258 retiring officers when they were fit for service.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
said, that he hoped no one would speak for more than a quarter of an hour, or that if he did some one would pull him down by the coat tail. He should confine his observations to one or two subjects connected with that large question. And, first, he would touch on the point of expense, to which he more particularly wished to address himself. As regarded that point, it might have been expected that some hon. Gentleman below the Gangway opposite would have got up and talked about the great extravagance of the Army Estimates; but he (Lord Eustace Cecil) never observed that on a military night, whatever might have been said in election speeches, anyone got up, except the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), to suggest that the Army Estimates were extravagant, although hon. Gentlemen did get up and call for additional expenditure. Since he (Lord Eustace Cecil) had been in Parliament, the Army Estimates had risen from £12,000,000 to £13,000,000, to £15,000,000 or £16,000,000. That was a very portentous fact; but, as regarded it, he did not want to find fault with any particular Administration, and certainly not with the present Secretary of State for War. He knew that his right hon. Friend had a great many difficult questions to settle, and he was bound to say that everything he had done had been marked by courtesy, painstaking, and care, very creditable to a Secretary of State for War. Of course, he could not find fault with his immediate Predecessor (Colonel Stanley), nor with Lord Cranbrook, both of whom succeeded to legacies of embarrassment. But he must say that a great responsibility rested on Lord Cardwells Administration. Almost all the questions that were now causing difficulty arose out of what was done by that noble Lord. He (Lord Eustace Cecil) had opposed Lord Cardwell's scheme at the time, and pointed out what the country was committed to by it. The fact was, that in 10 years it had cost the country £25,500,000, or £3,000,000 a-year. That total sum included purchase of commissions, £8,000,000; brigade depôts, £3,500,000; waste on short service, £3,500,000; and officers' retirement scheme, £10,500,000; 1259 making together £25,500,000 in 10 years. More than 20 years ago the cost of a British soldier was calculated to be £100 a-year; now, as he (Lord Eustace Cecil) had pointed out in a recent speech, the cost per man was £135 a-year. That was a very serious matter; but he knew it was of no use crying over spilt milk. That money had been spent; and all he wanted to do was to ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the Financial Secretary of the War Office to take care that good-money should not be sent after bad. He was afraid that in what they were going to do in future—for the whole of the present scheme was a matter of speculation—a great deal of good money would go after the bad. He did not say that he or anybody in the House could prevent that scheme being carried out. All that they were doing or could do was in the nature of a protest. But it was right that they should record their protest. They, on that side of the House, did not agree in the policy adopted 10 years ago; and although when they were in Office they were bound to give it a fair trial, yet he must say that, in his opinion and that of his Friends, that policy had signally failed in the Zulu War and in the other wars that had since occurred His right hon. Friend the present Secretary for War, in his desire to do that which was most agreeable to the Service and the country, had brought in a scheme which had some good qualities; but, at the same time, many of which he could not speak so well. He would take One point especially—the age of recruits. His hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Alexander) had spoken of the age of recuits, and had said that, in a military sense, it was most important that men of 20 should be enlisted. He (Lord Eustace Cecil) said the same thing in an economical sense. Lord Airey's Commission showed that every man who was enlisted at 19 cost the country £100 for the Cavalry and £96 for the Infantry; whereas, if enlisted at 20, the cost would be only £58 for the Cavalry and £57 for the Infantry. And, as he (Lord Eustace Cecil) had said the other day, if his right hon. Friend would enlist men at 20—and he did not think it would be at all difficult to do so—they would get not only a much cheaper, but also a much better article. Whatever might be the relative 1260 merits of each, he did not think they could do now without some combination of long and short service, because the ordinary British peasant had grown so accustomed to the system of enlisting for short service, that he did not believe they would easily get men to enlist for long service; so that that really settled the question. But in regard to short service, there was no doubt, as he had said, that there had been a very great waste. Lord Airey's Committee estimated its cost at £3,500,000 in 10 years. There was a danger that, in future, they might lose a certain number of men unless they were enlisted at 20 years of age; and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether it would not be possible to limit the recruits to that age. He wished to say a few words on the Non-Effective Vote. That Vote had certainly increased in the last 10 years, owing to the increase in the Out-Pension Vote. All that time the system of short service had been going on, and although Lord Cardwell did not immediately promise a reduction of expenditure in connection with this system, he held out the hope that such would be the case. What was the fact with regard to the Out-Pension Vote? Contrary to Lord Cardwell's anticipations, the Out-Pension Vote had, during the last few years, increased at the rate of £75,000 per annum, giving a total increase of £380,000. He should like if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) could explain how it was, for it was a pregnant fact that the Pension Vote had gone on increasing while we had had short service. As to compulsory retirement, he did not believe promotion would work properly without compulsory retirement. He thought there was nothing whatever to complain of as to the conditions of compulsory retirement in the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MAJOR O'BEIRNE
, in criticizing the details of the scheme, said, that the short-service system had been tried and found wanting. It was a sham. The reason why the Reserves of foreign Armies answered was because they were efficient, in consequence of being called out annually for training, and our Reserves were never called out; whereas, in our case, two months' training was necessary before they were fit to take the field; and, further than that, foreign service was not allowed till after the age of 23. 1261 Besides, they had conscription, and were able thereby to collect the best of the male population all over the country. Ho agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) in what he had said in regard to the position of officers under the new scheme. As to the territorial system, however, he did not think it. would have the effect of destroying esprit de corps; but, at the same time, he held the best plan was that of the Duke of Wellington, who desired always to have the three Nationalities blended in one regiment. He wished to point out that the Reserve at present was useless; because, if we wanted the men, we should have to give them three months' training before they would be fit for active service. He also thought that under the present retirement rules the War Office would become a focus of backstairs influences.
SIR HENRY FLETCHER
said, he deeply regretted that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had not seen his way to allow the re-enlistment of men who had served their time, and who were willing to remain with the Colours. Lord Airey's Report recommended that 25 per cent of the old soldiers, who had completed 12 years' service, should be allowed to reengage, and he thought it would have been very much better for the discipline of the Army if that recommendation had been acceded to. He believed that by retaining a certain number of old soldiers discipline would be maintained in the Army. In a very short time, when the old soldiers had disappeared, the barrack-room would be filled with recruits and with non-commissioned officers about the same age as the recruits. The non-commissioned officers would probably act with too much harshness, or with indiscretion, in the management of the recruits. He thought, also, that it would be better for service in the field if some old soldiers were mixed up with the young ones. Certainly, the old system of long service was more popular with old soldiers than that which had been recently established. Two hundred and nine men, formerly in the Army, but now occupied in various Public Departments—the Police, the Home Office, the Convict Department, and in other responsible positions—were asked their opinions; and 129 expressed their 1262 opinion that they would much prefer the old system, and 61 only were in favour of the new. He also thought it was a most unwise proceeding to retire captains at 40. He was afraid the result of the system would be that they would find a number of those officers become loiterers at clubs and about watering-places, with just means enough to maintain themselves; and, that being so, he did not imagine that parents in the future would be disposed to spend heavy sums in the education of their sons for the Army with such a prospect before them. Nor could he express approval. of the territorial system; the abandonment of the well-known names and titles of regiments being, in his opinion, most dangerous, especially at this critical time, when every other Army in Europe was armed to the teeth. The change would be distasteful to the officers and not liked by the men, and young men would not be induced to join the territorial regiment of their district. He thought it was dangerous to interfere with the traditions of the Army; and though there was no doubt that the old system of linked battalions required amendment, he did not think that there should have been such a clean sweep of the old state of things. He thought men should have the opportunity of choosing their own regiments, and that in many cases they would prefer to be away from home. He would venture, in conclusion, to suggest to the Secretary of State for War whether he could not advise the Queen, before the final abolition of the existing arrangements, to hold a review of her troops under the old system, so that she might see them once more as they had existed hitherto, and that they might have the opportunity of exclaiming—Ave CŖsar, Imperator! morituri te salutant.
§ GENERAL SIR GRORGE BALFOUR
said, that when Lord Cardwell began those changes in their military system, which had ended in so wide a scope, the military expenditure had been brought down to between £12,000,000 and £13,000,000, or less than they had been since the time of the Crimean War. The expenditure, including interest on money spent in buying back the Army, and on outlay for dep ô t centres and other purposes, was now fully £17,000,000; and, as he thought that 1263 one of the most useful inquiries that could be instituted would be as to how this large increase had been applied, and whether the increase of £5,000,000 had been laid out with judgment and success, there would be no cause for regret. The right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for War had made further important changes, and he was of opinion that some of them would be useful, although suggestions had been made in the course of the debate which well deserved his attention, as likely to make these changes work well. He must express his pleasure at finding changes proposed with the view to bringing about increased efficiency; but he deplored the fact that while the Army expenditure was steadily increasing, there had as yet been no corresponding increase in efficiency. The mere formation of a Reserve could not be said to be worth the actual change. Whether the great economies which the right hon. Gentleman stated were to result would be realized, they must wait several years to judge. He was of opinion that, for the sake of the efficiency of the Army, the country was prepared to spend whatever was necessary; and whilst anxious to have all branches of the Service kept up in the highest stage of efficiency, yet he was particularly anxious that something more should be done for the Infantry of the Line. They ought to try to raise that Force up to the most efficient state, so that no soldiers in the world could surpass them. They had only 97,000 privates in the Infantry of the Line, of whom 39,000 were in India, 39,000 at home, and 15,000 in the Colonies. But in those numbers were included lance corporals, bandsmen, clerks, acting drummers, and others so universally borne on the rolls as privates, instead of being shown separately from the soldiers available for guard duties. At least 80 privates in each battalion were inefficient as privates, leaving only 80,000 privates fit for duty out of the 97,000. No one having any knowledge of the calls upon our Army, in every part of the world, would say that such a small Force was sufficient for the widely extended purposes of the nation. Of the total number besides those in India and the Colonies, and with battalions at home, there were only 4,400 maintained in the depôts, 93,000 being actively employed with the Colours. 1264 The strength kept in the depôts had been greatly reduced since last year, and no one acquainted with the wants of the Infantry could for an instant accept the present depot strength as sufficient for the purpose of maintaining the nominal strength of the service battalions. There ought to be in the depôts a strength in privates equal to the numbers annually recruited, say 18,000; also a number of recruits sufficient to cover the strength of lads under 20 years of age, numbering about 7,000; and to cover other differences, at least 5,000 more privates. Say, in all the depôts, at least 30,000 recruits should be kept in excess of the 93,000 men present with battalions, all of whom ought to be efficient in the ranks of privates fit and able to take guard duties. He earnestly impressed upon the Secretary of State for War the importance and urgency of considering the suggestions that had been thrown out, with a view to increase the efficiency of the Infantry, which formed the main body of the Army. That Force should be relieved from all the many guards and other employments, in order that their time should be wholly given up to drills and instruction to fit them for war purposes, so that their small Army might be equal to a larger but less disciplined Force. He thought that as a considerable time must elapse before the effect of the recent changes would be realized, economy at the expense of efficiency would be a great mistake. In particular, the Infantry of the Line ought to be thoroughly efficient. Instead of making the country depend on a Reserve by passing youths through the Army, as in Germany, and making men cease to be soldiers at the very time they had attained to some degree of training, ho thought that some other mode should be followed for procuring a Reserve Force for the country. In 1870, he had suggested that the old local Militia, which was formed under Lord Castlereagh in 1809, should again be called into being. There were then 450,000 of the local Militia, and if the system had been carried on we might now have 1,000,000 men to defend the country, and so leave the Regular Army free for foreign service. With this local Militia, or with the universal training of the population, such as Mr. Wyndham proposed in 1807, there would be a magnificent Reserve kept available, 1265 thus leaving the Line Infantry to be formed and trained in the way best calculated to secure the greatest efficiency. Happily, the right lion, and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Stanley) the late Secretary of State for War had left the Acts of Parliament relating to the local Militia intact when he re-cast the laws relating to the Regular Militia, so that the calling out of the local Militia could be made whenever the nation desired. He thought a reasonable economy might be effected in reducing the number of companies, and consequently of captaincies. It frequently happened that, under the present formation, a captain had not really more than 40 men under his command. Instead of forming the battalions of eight companies, the formation ought to be either a four-company battalion, as in Germany and France, or, as a mean, into six companies, thereby making each company so strong as to need the presence of a captain and at least two subalterns. In this six-company formation, 846 companies would more than suffice for 141 battalions. In the whole of the Infantry, instead of the 1,410 companies now maintained in battalions and in depôts, of whom 1,128 were with battalions, 846, or even 600, companies ought to be kept up. Then the depôts could be supplied with officers and non-commissioned officers specially selected as the fittest for training recruits. But at present, with the short time allowed for this debate, it was not right to press one's views at greater length, seeing that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the late Secretary of State was waiting to speak on affairs in which he had had so prominent a share.
Sir, there are three points in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War on which I desire to offer a few remarks. Within the limited time at my disposal there are various points on which it is almost impossible for me to touch; and I only wish it to be understood that if I abstain from offering criticisms upon them, it is not to be considered as implying anything in derogation of the proposals made, or any want of respect on my part. The main points on which the discussion has turned have been short or long service, organization, and compulsory retirement. On short or long service there have been expressed that variety of opinions not 1266 unlikely to be found in the House. The right hon. Gentleman, who has listened to the debate with such patience, cannot but feel that there is among all sections of the House a very strong feeling that, as far as ho may find it practicable, it is desirable that there shall be left a leaven of old soldiers, whether in the form of non-commissioned officers or privates, and that these should be left in no inconsiderable proportions among those who are serving in the active ranks of the Army. I say nothing of some of the arguments which may be used as to the conditions under which the men are engaged. It is said that Englishmen do not like to engage so as to throw away the best part of their lifetime. There is a great deal of truth in that; and, on the other hand, there is a very great deal to be said in favour of short service. I am not at all sure, looking to the general conditions of labour in this country, that you could get a very large proportion of long-service men, even if you chose to take statutory powers to do so. That being the case, and having been the case for the past few years, by the enlistment provisions of the Army Regulation Act of 1879, we gave to the Secretary of State the widest possible statutory powers to enlist men for long or short service within the terms prescribed by the Act. We consider we have benefited by that provision, and if my right hon. Friend is prepared to go one step further in the Amendment Bill, which I understand will be in our hands in the course of a few days, he will find that any proposals in that direction will meet, at all events, with no hostile reception from these, or any other Benches. To show that I am not expressing only the ideas of the moment, I may quote the Reference I gave to Lord Airey, in which I said—That recruits may be as a class equal to what they were formerly; but battalions composed mainly of young soldiers cannot be expected to exhibit the soldierly qualities of more experience.I do not say it is possible, even if it were desirable, to turn back the wheels of the clock and go back to long service altogether; but I think if my right hon. Friend were able, in view of recent experience, to enlarge his proposals a little, the Service would distinctly be the gainer. I should be glad if non-commisioned officers could have the power to 1267 re-engage without the veto. There may be very good reasons why this veto has been introduced; but I confess I share the apprehensions of many hon. and gallant Friends about me, that it would be felt by the soldier that there is an element of doubt brought in, for he knows that if there is a reference to the "War Office or to the Secretary of State, the question will rarely go to the Secretary of State himself, but will be dealt with in the Office by those who may have preconceived opinions against re-enlistment. Whether the power should not be given to non-commissioned officers is a matter which deserves the careful consideration of my right hon. Friend. On the next point I would refer to, I know there are great differences of opinion among military men; but I think Lord Airey's Committee were guided by very good considerations in recommending that the quartermaster-sergeants, as well as the sergeant-majors, should be made warrant officers. I can well understand the reasons which have led to the conclusion which has been come to, and that it is desirable that the sergeant-major being at the head of the noncommissioned officers, that there should be a broad line of demarcation between him and other non-commissioned officers, and it is possible it may have been thought it would weaken that position if. the quartermaster-sergeant were made a warrant officer; but, on the other hand, I would desire to bring into notice the very great responsibility, financial and general, of the quartermaster-sergeants, and the temptations to which they may be exposed; and I cannot help thinking it would have been well to have improved the position of the quartermaster-sergeant, by making him a warrant officer, and so placing him on a higher level, in which he would be looked up to. As to the sergeant-majors, there can be no difference of opinion, and I am glad my right hon. Friend has done it. With regard to short service, without expressing any strong opinion for oragainst it, I may say there appeared to be great weight in the reasons which were given by the hon. and gallant Member for Berkshire (Sir Robert Loyd-Lindsay), who spoke when the House had been rather led away from the reasons which led to the formation of the Reserve. My hon. and gallant Friend reminded the House that the Reserve system had been 1268 introduced because the long-service system and single enlistment had broken down. There is no doubt whatever about the fact. There was a general feeling that there must be a change of some kind, and short service appeared to be the only method by which an effectual Reserve could be established. With regard to the difficulties which lie in the way of the Reserve, I wish every success to my right hon. Friend in any attempt he may make to induce private employers of labour to co-operate with him as respects his Reserve men. I am very sorry to say that in 1878, when the Reserve men were called out, it was not without difficulty that, believing, as we rightly believed, they would only be out for a short time, when we asked employers of labour to keep their places open for them, that employers acceded to that request. Although the police authorities, Railway Companies, and others, did at last yield to our solicitations, there was not that cordial spirit displayed for the system established, though it is for a national benefit, and a national benefit alone. Much has been said with truth about the hardship of the short service, in respect of its necessitating the constant transference of men from one battalion to the other, and not a little of the blame was thrown on the shoulders of those who favoured the system of linked or double battalions. But I must remind hon. Members that there is no necessary connection whatever between the two. You may have long service, and at the same time you may have a system of linked battalions; you may have short service and single battalions; but the evils which are complained of do not necessarily attach to the combination of these two principles, and they may vary according to the state of the Service. If you wish to avoid frequent transferences, with all their disadvantages, there is only one way, and it is to keep up your battalions at comparatively equal strength. It stands to reason that if a battalion abroad is to be 800 strong, and the corresponding battalion at home is to be 40O, transferences must be more frequent than if each were 600 strong. There is no necessary connection between constant transfer and the system of linked battalions. At the same time, I do not agree that it is possible, under the circumstances in which we are placed, at 1269 all times to keep the battalions at home and abroad precisely equal. That, if anything, was the weak point, and will always remain the weak point, of the system inaugurated by Lord Cardwell in 1871. Nine-tenths of the complaints which are made against the modern system, are made because people do not recollect how much the battalions at home have to perform. They have not only to maintain their efficiency as battalions, but also to discharge the functions of depôts. Everyone knows how unpleasant it is to allow good men to leave one battalion for others; but I hope there is public spirit enough in the Service to make people put aside private feeling and work cordially for the most satisfactory result, although it may not be always visible to them. I am anxious to show that there is no necessary connection between some of the evils of the transfer so much complained of and the system of double battalions. It has never been attempted to be proved that in the case of the Guards, or the Rifle Brigade, or the Artillery, for example, there was ever any difficulty found in recruiting on the ground that the men might be shifted from one battalion to another. At the same time, every effort should be made to save the men being shifted from battalion to battalion; in fact, the system ought to be used, but not abused. At this advanced hour, I must put aside the question as to regimental organization save so far as this—that I would ask my right hon. Friend whether he intends to fill up the additional majors to anything like the double or large company system? What I understand is this—that the appointment of majors now to take place is really more for the purposes of promotion than for any other reason. Practically, they will be so many brevet majorities. The majors will do garrison duty; but elsewhere, except on the inarch, will perform the ordinary duties of captains. But what I venture to ask my right hon. Friend to do, before he goes in the direction of creating larger companies, is to look at the evidence and opinions of officers of great distinction in our Service, who, with singular unanimity, recommended that for our Army the single company of 100 men should be maintained as a formation rather than the larger companies which are to be found in the Armies of foreign Powers. 1270 There is one other point on which I will touch very briefly. There has been, I believe, a complaint made in connection with the formation of territorial regiments that officers of Militia have been put to considerable and unnecessary expense. I did not gather from my right hon. Friend that he was prepared to allow those officers who had to change from silver to gold any allowance in respect to that change. If he does not, I hope my right hon. Friend will emphasize the fact that such officers may continue in their former dress as long as possible; because I know that, in such cases, pressure is brought to bear upon officers to change at once, which they find it very hard to resist. But I hope, under the circumstances, that my right hon. Friend will give a hint in the proper quarter in favour of an allowance being made. The recommendations of my Committee with respect to change of officers referred to the men rather than to the officers, and that in consequence of the difficulty which was being experienced when under the mobilization system the Militia were drafted off to the Line regiments. With respect to compulsory retirement, I would remind the House that when that system was adopted promotion absolutely ceased. To say that there shall be no compulsory retirement at all is no argument at all, but simply a begging of the whole question; for, from the moment when purchase was decided, compulsory retirement was only a matter of time. The officers of the Army laid their grievance before the Secretary of State, and two Commissions were appointed to inquire into the subject, and their Reports led to the step taken by the War Office in 1877. No one could, without regret, witness the necessity for the retirement of officers who desire to remain with their regiments; but it was seen that such retirement was necessary, and that the few should suffer for the many, however worthy the few might be. I must say that the parts of the scheme of my right hon. Friend which I approve least are those which refer to general officers; but I am content just now to ask the old question—"Why can you not let it alone?" There are other points as to which I would wish to say a few words, but time will not allow of of my doing so. I hope my right hon. Friend will continue to give that cordial consideration to the suggestions which. 1271 Lave been thrown out which he has hitherto done, and which, with the great attention he has devoted to the entire subject, has pained for him that meed of approval which has greeted him from all sides.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he was very much obliged to his right lion, and gallant Friend (Colonel Stanley) for the expressions lie had just used, in concluding his remarks, and also to the House for the manner in which the statement he (Mr. Childers) had had to make had been received. He could assure lion. Members that he was much obliged for the suggestions which had been made in the course of the debate. This was a question on which he might hope there were no political differences to affect their deliberations. He trusted the hon. and gallant Member who had moved the Amendment (Sir Alexander Gordon) would withdraw it before 7 o'clock, in order that at that Sitting the debate might be closed, so that the Government might fulfil their engagement with regard to the Evening Sitting. He could not accept the Amendment, because it would pledge the Government to the broad principle that no officer not absolutely inefficient could, under any circumstances, be compulsorily retired under 70 years of age. Such a rule would be fatal to any system of satisfactory promotion. They were bound to go on the lines of the system which, had been adopted after much consideration in the case of the Navy. With respect to the suggestion of his noble Friend opposite (Lord Eustace Cecil), he assured him that ho had not lost sight of the necessity with a shorter list of having additional safeguards in respect of selection, and he could say that in no case could any officer receive a second Staff appointment without the case previously coming under his own personal observation. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had stated that the men of the Reserve were starving all over the country; but his lion, and gallant Friend forgot that that was tested only a few weeks ago, when the Reserve men were called upon to join their regiments if they desired to do so. In answer to that call only 1,000 out of 20,000 men came forward to express their willingness to rejoin. Certainly, the number of men in the condition described could not 1272 have been large. His right hon. and gallant Friend who had just sat down (Colonel Stanley) had asked him whether non-commissioned officers could not be allowed to re-engage without veto or condition? He did not think it would be desirable to do away with the veto. Men, when originally made non-commissioned officers, might have had an excellent character in the Service, and yet be unsuitable ten years afterwards for nine years' further service as non-commissioned officers. Then the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had asked that the claims of quartermaster-sergeants might be considered. The Government had recently been dealing with the case of sergeant-majors, and he could only say that it was wise to take one thing at a time. When the promotion of sergeant-majors to warrant rank had been well tested, he would give the matter his future consideration. He had also been asked whether it was desirable to take advantage of the appointment of four majors per battalion, to introduce the double-company organization, so as to have four in a service battalion? There was a division of opinion on the subject, and he did not think it would be wise at present to meddle with existing arrangements. The time might come for it; but, at present, it was one of the questions on which they were not agreed. Had time allowed, he would gladly have answered other questions. He would, therefore, ask his lion, and gallant Friend at once to withdraw his Amendment.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, that in consequence of the request of his right hon. Friend, but not in consequence of his arguments, he would consent to the withdrawal of his Amendment.
LIEUT. - COLONEL MILNE-HOME
asked, whether Purchase officers after the 1st of July would be entitled at any time to sell the commissions they held on the 1st November, 1871, on the payment of the Government valuation?
§ MR. CHILDERS
Certainly. Once, if not twice, during the present Session there will be an opportunity on the Estimates.
§ Amendment and Motion, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee to sit again this day.
§ And it being ten minutes to Seven of the clock, House suspended its Sitting.
§ House resumed its Sitting at Nine of the clock.