§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) £53,800, Divine Service.600
§ (2.) £37,200, Administration of Military Law.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War whether he had not received any representations from certain military prisons, or from the medical officers attached to them, respecting the evil effects of oakum picking, to which the soldiers were subjected; and also whether, in one prison, the roof was so bad that the rain came through?
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, the military prison referred to was being repaired. He had not received any complaints regarding oakum picking; but he would inquire into the matter.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, that, on the last occasion that the Estimates were before them, he referred to a matter which was of some interest, and in regard to which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War did not vouchsafe an answer—he meant the difference in the Estimates with regard to Appropriations in Aid and Exchequer Extra Receipts. In former years Exchequer Extra Receipts were paid into the Exchequer; but hereafter they would be appropriated in aid of the Vote. The Committee would understand the difference in the Estimate if he instanced a round sum, say £100. In former years, if a Vote was for £100, and the Exchequer Extra Receipts were expected to amount to £5, the £5 was paid into the Exchequer, and the Vote was limited to the £100. If more than £5 was realized, the larger sum so realized, whatever it might be, was also paid into the Exchequer; but, under the present system, if the amount realized by Exchequer Extra Receipts should exceed the Estimate in the first instance, the amount placed at the disposal of the Department would be greater than was sanctioned by Parliament. If on an examination of the accounts it was found that the money had gone, it could not be refunded. What he had stated as a possible case—namely, an excess over the anticipated receipts, was very likely to turn out, in point of fact, the rule, because, in almost every year, the amount realized by Exchequer Receipts was very much greater than was at first anticipated. For instance, the Appropriation Account for 1880–1 showed that the Appropriation in Aid exceeded the 601 Estimates by £113,000. The Appropriation Account for the year previous—namely, 1879–80, showed that the Appropriations in Aid brought in £189,000 in excess of the Estimates. In 1878–9 the Appropriations in Aid realized £271,495 more than they were estimated to bring in. He believed it was proposed to extend the system. At present the consent of the Treasury was required to appropriate, in aid of the Vote which had been exceeded, any surplus which there might be; but hereafter it would not be necessary for the Department to apply to the Treasury for its consent to appropriate to the Vote a very much larger sum than was submitted to Parliament in the first instance. Well, of course, that arrangement would suit the Department very well, because it placed at its disposal a larger sum than Parliament voted; but it did not suit their established ideas with regard to the check Parliament ought to have on Departmental expenditure. One of the results of the alteration was that the Department would be tempted to under-estimate, and the temptation was one which it would be very difficult to resist. The Department would be tempted to under-estimate the amount realizable under Exchequer Extra Receipts, and, by thus underestimating, it would certainly have at its disposal very much larger sums than it represented to Parliament would be necessary. Then, again, there would be a danger if the Department would anticipate its possible receipts by getting rid of the stores before the date which, under other circumstances, it would sell them. He did not think the Committee ought to consent to the change of system until it was assured that some steps would be taken to guard against the material being reduced in order to increase the available cash. He might mention the fact that in one of the Military Yards it was discovered that £6,000 worth of coal had been lying there for a long time, and had not been included in the stock-taking. If the new system was good for the Army and the Navy he supposed it would be also good for the Civil Service; but, as a matter of fact, it was not applied to the Civil Service, and the Government had not explained to them why they proposed to adopt one system to one class of Estimates and another system to another class of Estimates.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he thought that the new system would be found most advantageous. As the hon. Member had correctly explained, the extra receipts would be taken in aid of the Votes, so that the Votes would be very much less under certain heads than they were under the former system, and he ventured to believe that greater economy would be pursued. The subject had been well considered, not only by the Government and the Auditor General, but by the Committee on Public Accounts; and it had been arranged that when the extra receipts on any particular Vote exceeded the estimated extra receipts, the excess should be paid into the Exchequer. He thought the system would be found to work satisfactorily.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, there were every year a large number of fraudulent enlistments which had never been found out. That was one of the serious offences which he had often mentioned in the House. He had pressed very strongly upon the right hon. Gentleman the necessity for taking some steps to prevent it. They knew perfectly well that marking in any shape was very repugnant to the feelings of many people; but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether it ought not to be resorted to in the case of a crime which was so detrimental to the interests of the Army.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he believed that the steps now being taken would do much to prevent fraudulent enlistment. They must look to the improved character of the soldier and to his good treatment as additional safeguards against fraud in this respect. Already there was a diminution in the number of fraudulent enlistments.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, the right hon. Gentleman would find, on reference to the Report of the Inspector General of Military Prisons, that there was a most extraordinary discrepancy in the rates of mortality among the prisoners. In Limerick, for instance, the death rate was 4.08; in Dublin it was 8.09; in Millbank it was 11.03; in Cork it was 16.09; in Gleneorse it was 18.00; and in Gosport it rose to 23.09, or five times higher than that in the Limerick Prison. When they came to inquire into the case of Gosport, they found that the conveniences and the arrangements were 603 very different to those in other military-prisons. The medical officer had suggested that the low temperature of the cells during winter was conducive to illness, and that the punishment awarded to military prisoners was not judicious. He (Mr. A. O'Connor) hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether oakum picking could not be abolished.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, they were adopting the system of centralization with respect to military prisoners, and he hoped they would be able to avoid complaint in future.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, it was the practice in military prisons to accept contracts from outsiders when any work was required to be done. He could not see why the work could not be done by the prisoners themselves.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he thought it would be better to employ the prisoners, where possible, in preference to contracts. He would look into the matter.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £300,800, Medical Establishment.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
asked whether it was not in contemplation to abolish the useless office of Governor and Commandant of Netley Hospital, and thereby relieve the Army Medical Department of a longstanding grievance? The existence of the office had long been the cause of a great deal of friction and discontent, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to its abolition.
§ SIR ROBERT LOYD LINDSAY
said he wished to make a remark or two in reference to the Army Hospital Corps. He was afraid that the Army Hospital Corps was not working as satisfactorily as they could desire. Last year he expressed some doubts whether this branch of the Service would work satistorily; and he asked his right hon. Friend to consider whether it would not be possible, although in the main he approved of the short-service system in regard to other branches of the Service, to adopt a different principle in regard to this Corps. He had felt it his duty to suggest certain doubts, and he must say that those doubts were still strongly impressed upon his mind. The duties which were required from the Army Hospital Corps were of so peculiar a character that he thought they took this branch of the Service out of the character which applied to other branches of the 604 Army. He also, he thought, made a remark upon the fact that the Army Hospital Corps were now under the command of medical officers, instead of being under the command of their own officers; and he was afraid that that system was not working quite as satisfactorily as it had been hoped it would. He held in his hands letters of a confidential nature, which contained the most serious charges against the members of the Army Hospital Corps in connection with the recent war in South Africa. They charged upon these men the most tyrannical behaviour, and accused them of the most absolute indifference to the care of the sick intrusted to them, and the charges were substantiated by evidence in regard to the perfectly genuine character of which he could not for a moment entertain a doubt. He wished to put a question to his right hon. Friend in regard to this matter, and to ask him if he was in possession of the Report of an inquiry instituted by General Leicester Smyth, commanding at Natal, into the conduct of the Army Hospital Corps while serving in the field? If he was, he (Sir Robert Loyd Lindsay) would ask him to lay it before the House and to look into the question. He would not ask him to lay it before the House, but would ask him to inquire into the nature of the charges which had been brought against the Army Hospital Corps; and he was quite satisfied, if the right hon. Gentleman had the matter brought under his notice, that he would take proper steps for remedying the evils complained of. He would suggest to his right hon. Friend that a larger number of female nurses should be employed, both in the hospitals at home and abroad. He was quite aware that lady nurses were not popular with medical men; that they were sometimes difficult to manage, and that it was said they were quarrelsome. He was speaking of female nurses who were ladies in social position. He thought they always ought to be ladies; and although the employment of female nurses occupying that position were not popular with the medical officers, it should, nevertheless, be remembered that their sympathies were always on the right side. They were always with the poor, weak, and sick soldier; and although there might be certain disadvantages in employing them, yet, on a full consideration of the case, he felt 605 quite satisfied that those disadvantages were more than compensated by the great advantages which would be gained by the soldier in having a larger number of female nurses employed both at home and abroad. As his right hon. Friend knew, the National Aid Society was quite willing to place itself in cooperation with the War Office in the training of nurses, and there still remained a large surplus of the fund raised during the Franco-German War. A large portion of that surplus income was being devoted to the training of nurses, and this year the Society would be able to send out nurses who had been thoroughly trained at Woolwich and other hospitals, many of them having had three years' complete training. These nurses were all available, and could be utilized in the military hospitals if it were the pleasure of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War so to determine. He believed that their employment would be greatly to the advantage of the soldier, and he hoped the subject would receive the attention of his right hon. Friend.
SIR HENRY FLETCHER
said, he would not press for an answer at the present moment; but he should like, before the Army Estimates were disposed of, to be informed whether it was not possible to place the captains and lieutenants of the Army Hospital Corps on a footing of equality in reference to increase of pay?
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he would answer first the question which had been put to him by the hon. Member sitting behind him (Dr. Farquharson). The hon. Gentleman had correctly stated what he (Mr. Childers) had done at the Admiralty as to the management of naval hospitals. Netley, however, was not only a hospital, but a depôt for time-expired men from abroad, and the arrangements as to the latter were under consideration. He did not think the Committee would expect him to say more at present. In regard to the charges against the Army Hospital Corps, referred to by his hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Sir Robert Loyd Lindsay), he was aware of the inquiry conducted by General Leicester Smyth in South Africa; but it had not yet been brought formally under his notice. He (Mr. Childers) was sorry to say that he had received complaints as to 606 the state of the Medical Department during the last few months of the South African War, which, as far as they went, were primâ facie evidence of a state of things not entirely satisfactory. But he had purposely abstained from taking any steps in the matter until the new Director General—Dr. Crauford—was thoroughly in his seat, and able to deal with the question. That officer, whose ability was well known, would, no doubt, act with decision in the matter. It was his (Mr. Childers's) intention to consult Dr. Crauford, both in respect to what had actually taken place in South Africa, and also as to the manner in which the evidence from South Africa bore upon the general question of the arrangements of the Army Hospital Corps, especially in reference to the points to which his hon. and gallant Friend had alluded, and the services of the persons who had been employed. He did not think that any evidence pointed at present to a reversal of the arrangements for which his right hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Colonel Stanley) was responsible; but if the result of fuller investigation satisfied him that a change was necessary, he should be prepared, after consultation with the Commander-in-Chief, to carry it out. He entirely concurred with what his hon. and gallant Friend had said as to the valuable services rendered by female nurses; but while he admitted the extremely valuable assistance rendered by lady nurses, there might be circumstances under which the arrangements for nurses in field hospitals were not always so easily carried out as they would be in the case of stationary hospitals, where the duties of the doctors and their subordinates were clearly defined and well known. Even there, however, where the respective duties were well known, it was sometimes difficult to adjust those of the medical officers and the nurses. He need only refer to the controversies which had recently raged in reference to hospital management in London; and if such difficulties arose in connection with the hospitals of a great town, they were likely to be much greater in the case of military hospitals in the field. The subject was one full of interest, and his own mind was thoroughly impartial on the question.
§ Vote agreed to.607
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £492,000, he granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Pay and Allowances of a Force of Militia, not exceeding 138,274, including 28,000 Militia Reserve, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1883.
said, the first point he wished to call the attention of the Committee to, in connection with this Vote, was a question upon which he had already been in correspondence with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers)—namely, the Order which was issued last year with regard to retired Militia officers, and the decision not to give them a step in honorary rank. Returns had been laid on the Table of the House showing the number of Militia officers who had been compulsorily retired according to the Order to which he referred. Under the old system it was the rule that Captains of Militia—and it was of the Captains that he specially wished to speak—were retired at the age of 60, unless they were specially recommended by their commanding officers for an extension of service. It was, therefore, with some surprise that Militia officers saw an Order suddenly issued from the War Office making it compulsory upon them to retire at the age of 50, without permitting them to obtain a step of honorary rank unless they had served for 20 years. Under the old Regulations these officers had every prospect of being allowed to serve for two or three or four years, in order to complete the 20 years necessary to enable them to secure honorary rank. By this compulsory retirement they were absolutely deprived of that privilege. They were sometimes told that when this sort of case was brought to the notice of the Government they would involve too large a disturbance of the existing system to be entertained. He therefore desired to point out to the Committee that the only officers who were affected by the new Regulation would be six Captains and perhaps some six Majors. It was, however, to the Captains that he specially wished to refer, because he did not think that the Majors would be retired under the same disadvantageous circumstances. Six Captains of Militia would be entirely deprived of what they were otherwise entitled to have; and he wished to ask the right hon. Gen- 608 tleman the Secretary of State for War to inform the Committee what was the reason why the War Office could not extend to these six gentlemen the rank and privileges they wished to obtain? In some cases the Order would work with extreme harshness. In one instance, in connection with the 3rd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, the total service of the Captain had been 19 years and nine months, so that he would only have lost his right of obtaining honorary rank by three months. In another case the officer had served 18 years and six months, and in another 18 years and eight months. Those Captains would undoubtedly, but for the new Regulation, have acquired their honorary rank; and he could not understand why the War Office should refuse to consent to the proposal he had had the honour to bring forward, giving them the small boon they asked for. He did not wish to trouble the Committee by going into the policy of the retirement of these officers. At the same time, it certainly seemed to him to be of a very doubtful character. These Militia officers, except in the contingency of a great emergency—to which he scarcely desired to look forward—were capable of rendering very efficient service, and their age would by no means unfit them for the services they were required to perform. But without having regard to the policy of the Regulation, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to tell the Committee why it was that the War Office refused to give the boon for which these officers asked. There was another branch of the scheme of compulsory retirement of the right hon. Gentleman to which he wished to call attention. By the same Warrant to which he had referred Lieutenant Colonels above 62 years of age were retired; but in their case an exception was made, and it was an exception in favour of those who, on the 1st of September last year, were above 60. Officers in that position were allowed to serve until they reached the age of 67; and the result would be that the next in command of a Militia regiment would, in some cases, lose the promotion which otherwise he would have every reason to expect he would obtain. He might mention the case of a Lieutenant Colonel of the 4th Battalion of the 56th Regiment, who could never become com- 609 mander of the regiment, as the Colonel now commanding was 61, and before he became 67 the officer in question would have to retire under the Warrant. It was felt to be a hardship that while, on the one hand, certain officers were retired just as they were becoming entitled to a step in honorary rank, on the other, officers should be deprived of all hope of promotion by the relaxation of the rule in favour of other officers. There was one other point in regard to double battalions which he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would give some hope of receiving revision—namely, the necessity which existed of allowing an Adjutant to each battalion. In many cases only one Adjutant was allowed, and one battalion was compelled, during the non-training period, to do without the services of an officer holding that rank, being required to do duty under the command of the Colonel belonging to another regiment. Certainly the system did not tend to bring about a good understanding between the two Colonels and the Staff placed under the command of a particular Adjutant and Colonel. As the new system of bringing officers from the Army into the Militia as Adjutants, and of changing them every five years, was principally justified on the ground that it would give promotion to officers in the Regular regiments of the Line, he confessed he could not see why the principle should not be extended a little more, and each battalion be placed upon the same footing. All who were acquainted with military matters would, he thought, agree with him that the only satisfactory principle upon which double battalions could be worked was that the Lieutenant Colonel of each should be responsible for the officers of his own regiment. There was another matter to which he had often called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, and which he could not help referring to at the present moment—namely, the hardship which had been occasioned to Militia officers by the change of uniform. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give the Committee some satisfactory assurance upon the subject. Personally, he must avail himself of the opportunity of protesting against giving the allowance in a most arbitrary way to some regiments, while refusing it entirely to 610 others. He had objected altogether to the change of uniform, and he had been met by the reply that it had been done at the wish of the Militia officers. All he could say was that, from what he had heard from many parts of the country, the wish must have been expressed by officers who were in a decided minority. Whether a few might desire a change or not, the general feeling of Militia officers was very strongly against it. The right hon. Gentleman had given an allowance to the officers of certain regiments who had changed their uniforms from green to red, or from red to green; and he believed the right hon. Gentleman had also given it to officers who had changed to kilted regiments. But the right hon. Gentleman ought to remember that in the case of many other regiments the uniform was quite as expensive as in those to which the allowance had been given. For instance, in the Artillery regiments it was notorious that the uniform was quite as expensive as the uniform in any other branch of the Service. He was informed that a Captain of Artillery could not make the change under an outlay of £40. Certainly that was the case in the Militia regiment he had the honour to command. It had been changed from a light Infantry regiment into a Fusilier regiment, and the officers had been compelled to change everything except the mere cloth which composed the tunic. They had changed their lace, their facings, their horse furniture, and, besides that, they had changed their head dress from the ordinary helmet to the Fusilier bearskin, a most expensive kind of head dress. Uniforms did not wear out all at once, and it was a hardship to call upon officers to make the sweeping changes he had alluded to without receiving an allowance for the heavy additional cost thrown upon them. He thought it was a very serious grievance, and one which he knew had had the effect of inducing more than one officer to leave the Militia. At any rate, it was one which was certainly not calculated to make the Service popular. A change had lately been made in the recruiting of the Militia, and he should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman some account of the effect it had had upon the Service. It was rather disappointing to find in the Estimates, after so much had been done to promote re- 611 cruiting, that the results had not been more satisfactory. While the establishment of the Militia numbered 131,000, the number in training in 1881 was only 87,000. He must therefore say that, in view of the very serious changes which had been made during the past year in the Regulations for the recruiting of the Militia, it ought to be satisfactorily shown what grounds the Government had for hoping that this last change would be beneficial. As the period for recruiting this year had practically expired, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell the Committee what the result had been. No money was now paid on enrolment, as used to be the case; but the recruits were drilled at once for two months together with the Line recruits in the regimental districts, and at the end of those two months the recruit received £1 if a full month had elapsed before the date of his discharge. If he went through the full training, he received £2 instead of £1, but he got nothing upon enrolment; and if he enlisted within the period of training, so as to do his recruit drill after the training, he received nothing additional, as he did under the old Regulations. The new system was certainly a very curious one, and one which he confessed he was unable to see the reason for. He was, therefore, extremely anxious to learn whether it had answered. He was sorry to have detained the Committee at such great length; but he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give an answer to the questions he had put, because this was the only opportunity the Committee would have of learning what the views of the War Office really were.
§ MR. DIXON-HARTLAND
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would be able to give the Committee some assurance in regard to one of the points brought forward by the noble Lord the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy)—namely, in regard to the case of the Captains who had been obliged to retire from the Militia without obtaining a step of honorary rank. One of the cases instanced by the noble Lord was a case of extreme hardship—that of an officer in the West Yorkshire Regiment, who had not only completed his 20 years of service within three months, but had actually completed his 20 periods of 612 training. He had, therefore, practically rendered all the service the country required him to render, and if he lost his honorary rank it would be solely in consequence of the accident that three months had not expired of the period that was necessary to complete 20 years' service. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give an assurance that something would be done to prevent the extreme injustice which in the case of these officers would be perpetrated by depriving them of their claim to honorary rank.
§ LORD ALGERNON PERCY
said, he hoped the Committee would grant him their indulgence for a few moments while he endeavoured to bring forward as shortly as possible some of the grievances which pressed upon the non-commissioned officers of the Militia. They performed the same duties as the noncommissioned officers of the Line at the Depôt; but, nevertheless, they found themselves in a much inferior position in reference to pay and allowances. The Militia Sergeant Major was subordinate in every respect to the Depôt Sergeant Major, and yet the duties performed by each were in every respect the same. They had been soldiers in the same regiment; perhaps they had served in the same battalion, and they did duty together. The Sergeant Major of Militia must originally have been a senior noncommissioned officer; and now he found himself in a subordinate position, as to pay and allowances, to a man who might have served in the same regiment with him as a private when he was a Sergeant. He thought all the officers connected with this branch of the Service would agree with him that the Sergeant Major of the regiment had great and difficult duties to perform, and that those duties were far more arduous than those of the Sergeant Major of the Brigade Depôt. But in the amount of pay there was a very marked difference between the two. The Militia Sergeant Major received 3s. 2d. per diem, with no rations, and fuel allowance the same as a private; whereas the Depôt Sergeant Major received 3s. 9d. per day, free rations, and the fuel of Staff Sergeants—equal to twice that of a private. Since July, 1881, the Depôt Sergeant Major had become a Warrant Officer, and received a pay of 5s. a-day, with free rations, and fuel equal to three times 613 that of a private. The Sergeants of Militia did exactly the same duty as the Depôt Sergeants, such as guards and pickets, and drilling the recruits four hours daily all the year round—a most fatiguing and arduous duty. They were also required to clean the arms and accoutrements belonging to the Militia, and their pay was inferior to that of the Sergeants of the Line. In the Militia these non-commissioned officers received 1s. 9d. per diem, and 3d. a-day in lieu of rations, making a total of 2s. a-day; and if they were doing duty with the depôt they received 3d. a-day more, making 2s. 3d. per diem. The case of the single Sergeant was much worse, because he was compelled to join the Sergeants' mess. He only received the 1s. 9d. a-day and 3d. in lieu of rations he had just mentioned, and he had to pay 8d. to the mess for ration commissariat, and 6d. per diem for extras, leaving only a balance of 10d. or, if doing duty with the Brigade Depôt, 1s. 1d.; whereas the Line Sergeant received 2s. 4d. per diem as pay, and free rations and 6d. a-day extra, leaving 1s. 1d. Thus the Militia Sergeant was always 9d. a-day worse off than the Line Sergeant, who was associated with him in duty, but actually had a less amount of duty to perform. With regard to the Colour Sergeant, he also was placed in a much worse position than he was before. He was allowed to draw 6d. a-day during preliminary drill and training; but he now lost that sum, except during the time of actual training. He (Lord Algernon Percy) wished, also, to point out to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War that during the whole of the year the Colour Sergeant was responsible for the accoutrements and clothing of the men quite as much as during the preliminary drill. He also lost, by the new system of drilling recruits, the free rations he was formerly allowed during the 56 days' preliminary drill, as he was now only allowed to draw them during the period of training. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman might be in a position to inform the Committee that some steps would be taken to lessen these grievances. He would submit that these non-commissioned officers were those with whom the recruits on first joining were most brought into contact; and any discontent and dissatisfaction among them must have a bad effect upon the recruits, and a bad 614 effect also upon the recruiting in the Militia itself.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
ventured to express a hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would pay some attention to the Memorial which had been sent to him with regard to giving a step in honorary rank to the Captains of Militia who had been compulsorily retired. In one case to which reference had already been made, a Captain in the 3rd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment had served 19 years and nine months. Surely, when an officer had served for such a length of time, the least he could be allowed to do was to remain with the regiment three months longer, in order that he might be entitled to receive that honorary rank which these gentlemen so much prized. He trusted that the case would receive the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. He had been carefully studying the Returns, and he found that last year there were only 87,346 men in England and Scotland out with the Militia last year for training, although the proper number of the English and Scotch Militia was 99,970, exclusive of 30,828 Irish Militia, which had not been called out. The total number liable to be called out was 130,000; and instead of that number, only 87,346 had actually been called out, including 28,000 Militia Reserves, leaving 59,346 absolutely belonging to the Militia who were not called upon to serve in the Reserve. He mentioned this fact, because he believed that the right hon. Gentleman was doing all he could to unite the Militia and the Line together. The right hon. Gentleman had altered the system of Militia recruits. They were now called out for their 60 days' training at their regimental districts and drilled with the regimental depôts of the regiments to which they formed the third and fourth battalions, and he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) believed that that system was doing good work. He believed that it was rendering the Militia recruits more likely to enlist into the Army, and more fond of soldiering than they had been. On the whole, he believed the plan was working well; but if it worked well, and they had 28,000 men in the Militia Reserve, and they wished to unite the Force as far as possible with the Line Battalions, they might depend upon it, as he 615 had said in that House and in the Committee over and over again, the best thing they could do was to make the whole of the Militia the Reserve for the Army. He ventured to think that the question was one of those which deserved the serious attention of the right hon. Gentleman. If any case of necessity arose, he would find that the best source from which to fill up the ranks of the Army.
§ MR. DALRYMPLE
said, that, as alterations were proposed to be made in the uniforms of some of the Militia regiments, in consequence of their forming battalions of territorial regiments, he desired to say a few words on the subject. The noble Lord the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) had already drawn attention to the unpopularity and expensive character of the proposed alterations, and he wished to add some remarks upon the inappropriateness of some of them. He was not one of those who were in the habit of saying that all changes made in respect of the Militia were bad; nor did he start with the statement that they were made without reason, although he was bound to say that the reason for them was sometimes difficult of discovery. Some of the Scotch Militia regiments, which had no posssible connection with the Highlands, were suddenly called upon to wear trews. There might be nothing startling in that announcement to some minds; but with regard to the regiment to which he belonged, he was certain that at one time, if anyone had appeared in trews he would have run the risk of being hanged. The prospect of having to wear so fantastic a garment at an advanced period of life caused him, he confessed, considerable uneasiness; but he should even now be reconciled to this change, if he could hear any good reason for it, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be able to furnish this. The noble Lord the Member for Westminster (Lord Algernon Percy) had done good service in bringing forward the question relating to non-commissioned officers; and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman, who, he knew, was always ready to do justice to this class of officers, would turn his attention to the case which had been referred to by the noble Lord.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
desired to call the attention of the right hon. Gen- 616 tleman the Secretary of State for War to the position of the few surviving Adjutants, who, in 1875, were offered, and declined, a scale of retirement which was accepted willingly by a large majority of officers under the old system. Retirement was offered at the rate of 10s. a-day after 15 years' service. Now, those Adjutants who at the time did not accept the scale would, if they retired now, only receive 7s. a-day. He wished to urge on the right hon. Gentleman that it would be in the interest of the Service, in the interest of the public, and in the interest of the comparatively few officers to whom he referred, if they were allowed to retire at the present time upon the scale of 1875; and he was prepared to show that if that course were followed there would be no additional expense to the country, because, under the existing system, the old Militia Adjutants were not available, under the terms of their appointments, for the duties of brigade depôts, and, therefore, the double appointment of Militia Regimental Adjutant and Brigade Adjutant would be saved by allowing these officers to retire under the terms of the Royal Warrant of 1875, and appointing Line Captains on the five years term, who would be available for both duties. In each of these cases the following daily saving would be effected to the public:—Adjutant's forage allowance, 1s. 9d.; stabling, 9d.; and lodgings, 2s. 3d.—in all, 4s. 9d. per day; from which, if the extra pension of 3s. per day under the Warrant of 1875 were deducted, there would result a net saving of 1s. 9d. per day. That, as he had before pointed out, would apply to the case of each of the officers he had referred to. It was not solely for the purpose of urging the desirability of effecting this small saving that he ventured to call the attention of the right hon. Gentlemen to this subject, but because he regarded the alteration suggested by him as conducive to the interests of the Service which he had so much at heart. He believed it was not in the interest of the Service that these offices should be retained any longer unwillingly at a time when they had new duties thrust upon them. On the other hand, he believed that great benefit would accrue to the Service if younger officers were appointed under more general terms.
§ MR. CHILDERS
I will first endeavour to answer the question put to me 617 by the noble Earl (Earl Percy) with reference to the arrangements in connection with the retirement of Militia officers. The noble Earl did not assume that the Government could have left things as they were formerly, because it has obviously become necessary to lay down a clear rule as to the age at which Militia officers should be compelled to retire. The noble Earl considered that an officer who is compelled to retire at the age of 60 ought to be allowed a step of honorary rank on retirement, when he had so nearly served the necessary 20 years. As a matter of good nature and good feeling, I must say I should be glad, in the case of a gentleman who had served within two or three months of the prescribed time, to recommend him for a step of honorary rank. The case in question has some remarkable circumstances connected with it; but would it be safe to relax the rule? We have laid down for the whole of the Auxiliary Forces the rule that a step of honorary rank cannot be granted, unless for 20 years' service. But, supposing it was held that because some gentlemen of 17, 18, or 19 years' service were good officers, they should be made exceptions to the rule, was that to be applied to the whole of the Auxiliary Forces, and was it to rest with the Secretary of State for War to decide whether in each case the exception should be made? I am bound to say that this would be a discretion which I do not think could be accepted by the Secretary of State. I will, however, look into the cases of the officers alluded to by the noble Earl. I believe there have been cases in which the end of the next training has been taken as the time for concluding an officer's service, and that might be the case in the present instance. However, I cannot pledge myself in any way, because I know nothing of the circumstances. As to the proper age for these retirements, we have had to deal with these officers under two distinct categories—namely, those who have already attained the intended maximum age, and those who have not, the former being supposed to have a certain vested interest. It was always customary to make some distinction of that kind, and I do not think it at all an unfair one. With regard to the changes of uniform and the allowances in connection with them which have been suggested, I would point out to the noble Earl that in former years there have been 618 many cases of change in the uniforms of Militia regiments of a far more expensive character than those which are now intended, for which no allowance whatever has been made. We have, however, laid down, after full consideration, that certain allowance should be made in cases where the change is of an expensive kind, and, having applied that rule to the whole Service, I do not feel we should be justified now in making any alteration. I am aware that it is the case that some commanding officers have encouraged their officers to alter their uniforms at once, notwithstanding that the instructions from the War Office were that the change should not take place until the uniforms were worn out. The position is this—that no allowance will be made unless the changes are compulsory, and they will not be compulsory until it becomes necessary to have new uniforms. I am, therefore, in this matter obliged to adhere to the decision already arrived at. I was glad to receive from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) his approbation of the arrangements we have made for training the Militia recruits in their own districts, and I can assure him that I am extremely anxious to do all in my power to bind together the Militia and Line battalions. The hon. Member for Wigton (Sir Herbert Maxwell) has drawn my attention to the present position of Adjutants who did not accept the terms of retirement offered to them in 1875. We are looking forward to the carrying out to the full of the system under which the Adjutants of Militia regiments will be in the same position with regard to term of service as officers of this rank are in the Line regiments with which the Militia battalions are connected. I shall be glad, therefore, to see the time when the old Adjutants of Militia have been worked out, and the whole Force placed upon the same footing; but in the cases to which the hon. Member has alluded, I must say that we cannot re-open the offer made to officers in 1875. They had at that time a fair opportunity of taking the rate of retirement offered to them; but they elected not to do so, and it would be extremely inconvenient that, this election having been offered and refused, this matter should be re-opened some years afterwards on the ground that better terms had been since offered to others. I was also asked by the 619 noble Lord the Member for Westminster (Lord Algernon Percy) a question with regard to the pay of Sergeant Majors and other non-commissioned officers, as compared with the rate of pay of similar ranks in the Line regiments employed in regimental depôts. To that question the answer is plain. Where the non-commissioned officer is serving on a Line engagement the rate of pay is the same; where he is not serving on a Line engagement, but merely happens to have been a private or non-commissioned officer of a Line regiment, his pay would be the Militia rate of pay, and not the Army rate. That has been the case always; and I think a great injustice would follow if a non-commissioned officer of the Militia, not serving on a Line engagement, and not having the same experience as noncommissioned officers of the Line, were not to receive the same pay as men of the corresponding rank in the Line. There are, doubtless, one or two adjustments which it may be possible to make as to the pay of non-commissioned officers of Militia. I think the case to which the noble Lord has called attention deserves consideration; but I cannot depart from the general rule, and in that respect I regret my inability to agree to the noble Lord's proposal. The hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Bartellot) says he would like to see Militia regiments consisting entirely of Militia Reserve men. That, as the hon. and gallant Member has said, is indeed a large question. In principle I confess I should not be sorry to see something like it carried into effect; but we have of late already made such large changes, that I should hesitate to adopt at once a plan of such magnitude, and which would require for its development a considerable change in the Constitutional character of the Militia, who would then always be liable to serve abroad. Still I am of opinion that the nearer you bind the Militia and the Line together, and the more you cause the Militia to believe that they are the support and reserve of the Line, the better. The hon. Member for Bute (Mr. Dalrymple) has referred to his advanced age, and objected to wear trews. I have never heard until now that the hon. Gentleman classed himself amongst the senior Members of the House, nor do I think that anyone looking at him would be inclined to 620 do so; but I think it would be a misfortune if we were to go back from the principle that the Militia battalions of territorial regiments should wear the same uniform as the regiments of the Line with which they are connected. Of course, when we laid down that principle, we were aware that in some cases there would be objections; but these objections, I think, have to be weighed against the advantages of the system and the satisfaction which has been felt by the great body of Militia officers at the assimilation of dress. I hope, therefore, the hon. Member will regard this as a sufficient reason for the change; that he will long remain connected with his regiment, and that he will no longer feel the inappropriateness of wearing trews. I believe I have now replied to all the questions which have been put to me, and I trust that my answers have been satisfactory to hon. Members.
said, he could entirely endorse what had fallen from his right hon. Friend opposite as to the expediency of uniting, as far as possible, the general character of the uniforms as worn by men of the different battalions comprising one territorial regiment. If he ventured again to refer to this point, it was because this change had been spoken of as one which the authorities had proposed merely for the sake of the change, without any sufficient or sound reason. That, however, was not the case; for in 1876 the Committee, over which he had the honour to preside, amongst other recommendations, recommended that the uniforms of the battalions of territorial regiments should be, as far as possible, assimilated. In making that recommendation, the Committee proceeded mainly on this consideration. It was felt to be desirable to draw together the Militia and Line battalions of the regiment, or brigade, as it was then called, so that the Militia Reserve men, with as little delay and inconvenience as possible, in the event of their being called out, should be able to take their places in the Line, and be at once embodied in the depôt of their regiments. The Committee foresaw in 1876, and pointed out, what would be the inconvenience of a Militia regiment wearing, say, a green uniform, having to go as reserve to a Line regiment dressed in red. The confusion, under such circumstances, would undoubtedly be very great, as was pointed 621 out by the Committee; and two years afterwards all the difficulties apprehended were found to take place in actual practice. Therefore, he thought his right hon. Friend was right in pressing forward a change which underlay, to a great extent, the whole principle of organization, that Reserve men should, as far as possible, be able to go at once to the Line battalions of which, on paper, they formed the reserve at the time he had mentioned. Although as everyone, and nobody more readily than the Secretary of State for War, would admit, there were inconveniences connected with the alteration of uniform, these were, as he ventured to think, minor considerations as compared with the great object of drawing together the Militia and Line regiments, and making Militia regiments, in greater or less degree, an efficient reserve to the Line regiments to which they were attached. He believed it to be the general feeling that the closer the connection between these two branches of the Service could be drawn the better; but, at the same time, it was obvious that, in a voluntary system of service in the Line and in the Militia, it would be desirable to feel the way, so to speak, and not to make violent changes. The changes indicated by the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) were of a kind that, under a voluntary system like ours, must, he thought, be proceeded with very carefully and tentatively. They must also be considered with relation to the large increase of the Standing Army which would result from them; and upon that point he was bound to express his opinion that the House would not be likely to disregard certain principles which had weight with the great body of Members. With regard to the suggestion which had been so well urged by the noble Lord the Member for Westminster (Lord Algernon Percy) and by other hon. Members, for remedying the discrepancies which existed in the scale of allowances to the various members of the Militia Staff, he thought if the right hon. Gentleman could regard these with favour, he would be doing a great deal to bring about that uniformity in the two branches of the Service which was so very desirable. He frankly admitted that economical and other reasons prevented the change being made during the time he had the honour to fill the Office now held by the 622 right hon. Gentleman; but, at the same time, the principle was never lost sight of, that though it might be wise at present to recognize the two systems of what he might call the old Militia engagement and the new Line engagement, it was, nevertheless, desirable as far as possible, to press forward the time when, speaking as a general principle, those who were side by side and performed similar duties should receive similar pay and allowances. It was only a question of time. They could not suddenly place upon the older men all these new duties, nor was it right that the older men should receive the same pay as those who were called upon to do more extensive work. All these changes must be effected by degrees. He hoped that this Committee and subsequent Committees in other years, would always approach the Vote on the general principle that it was desirable to draw together the bonds that united the Militia and the Line. It would be to the advantage of both arms of the Service that they should approach the Vote in this spirit. In the Militia they might have a thoroughly good and trusty Reserve of the Line battalions of the Army, by drawing together the lines that united the two bodies; and this would be found to conduce to that harmony which it was the intention of Viscount Cardwell to bring about in his scheme of 1870 and 1871.
§ EARL PERCY
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had mistaken the scope of his (Earl Percy's) remarks as to change of uniform. He had not referred to the change of uniform of the men, as he was aware that there were cogent reasons for that change; but what he had alluded to was the change in the uniform of the officers, which stood on different grounds. He did not wish to say anything more on the subject, as he knew it was useless; and he would merely ask what change of uniform as expensive, or more expensive than that, had occurred in recent times in the Militia? He had been in the Militia for nearly 20 years, and during the whole of that period no change so expensive to the officers had been made. No doubt, there had been changes in the head dress or in the coat; but he had never known anything like this. The only change approaching it was the silver lace uniform 623 for Court dress; but that change was not compulsory. The right hon. Gentleman had said he understood he (Earl Percy) did not take any exception, as a matter of policy, to the retirement of Captains. He did not think he had said that. He had said his belief was that an elastic system, whereby they could keep a Captain beyond the specified time if he was sufficiently recommended, was better than drawing a hard-and-fast line. Some men were far more fit for service at 55 or 60 than many at a much younger age. But he did not wish to raise the question of the policy of the proposal at the present time, and he only said this to guard himself from misunderstanding. The right hon. Gentleman had said the instance he (Earl Percy) had mentioned must have been an exceptional one, as the Captains he had referred to must have entered the Service at the age of 41. He had just been going over the evidence, and, so far from its being an exceptional case, he had found other cases where officers had joined the Militia at the ages of 47, 49, and 53. He, therefore, hardly thought the right hon. Gentleman was correct when he said the case was an exceptional one. When the right hon. Gentleman said he thought it expedient that the War Office should have a discretionary power, he rather mistook what he (Earl Percy) was pleading for, and what these officers asked. He was not asking that in the future any exception should be made. He asked that those who were over the age for retirement when the Order came out—and they might be counted on one's fingers—might receive that step in honorary rank which they would have been able to obtain if it had not been for this sudden cutting-off of their hopes of promotion. He wished this to be retrospective. He should like the right hon. Gentleman to say what the reason was that induced the Government to make that change in the bounty which was offered to the Militia—why, in certain cases 30s. was given to a Militiaman, and in others £2 was given to him, although he had performed exactly the same amount of service?
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he just wished to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to a subject he had promised last year to take into his very serious consideration, and that was 624 the very important subject of the punishment of the Militia. At present there were no cells at the depôt centres where Militiamen under punishment could be placed, or certainly not enough, and the men were accordingly sent to prison. This practice ought to be stopped, and cells should be provided at the depôt centres for the confinement of Militiamen. The right hon. Gentleman, as he had stated, had promised last year that he would take the subject into his serious consideration. No doubt it would cause expense to provide these cells; but such expense would be worth incurring for the good of the Service.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, that before the right hon. Gentleman answered on the question of retirement, he should like to make a suggestion to him, founded on the discussions which had occurred in reference to retirement in the Navy. A boon had been granted to Foot Guards' Captains, with regard to whose position they had had discussions in the House 20 years ago. The rule which had been adopted had been this—that officers who had served a certain time had, on retirement, received a step in rank without any increase of pay. Such a system would be of great advantage in the Militia, and it would be a source of satisfaction to the officers concerned and their friends, without involving any additional cost to the country. It was true that some years ago, when there were no Volunteers, it was a question whether a person who had fairly obtained his rank, partly by purchase and partly by other means, should be allowed a step on retirement; but now the case was different. Every man who was discontented was a bad recruiting officer in his own district; and it was essential, where they wanted to induce men to enter the Service, that there should be no centres of disaffection, as there would be if they allowed men on retirement to remain Captains when they should be Majors. It would cost nothing to make a retiring Captain a Major, and it would give a great deal of satisfaction. The officer who, in his own district, was called upon at a dinner to return thanks for the Army, would be much better satisfied to hear himself called "Major Smith" than merely "Captain Smith." If the Regulations were made more elastic in this respect, it would be an advantage; and it would 625 not only give satisfaction to the individuals concerned and their friends, but would give encouragement to others, to whom these officers were known, to join the Reserve Forces or the Line. There was one other question to which he wished to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, which touched him (Sir John Hay) himself excessively. He did not wear them, but his hon. and gallant Friends the Members for Bute (Mr. Dalrymple) and Wigton (Sir Herbert Maxwell) were both Captains in Militia regiments which had been condemned to wear the trews. He must say he viewed that change with the greatest alarm. It had not only injured his hon. and gallant Friends, but had created a considerable amount of discontent in the South-Western counties of Scotland, where the inhabitants were generally most loyal. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the necessity for this change was in consequence of the fact—which he fully recognized—that it was necessary that the battalions to which his hon. and gallant Friends belonged should be assimilated to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of that distinguished regiment which belonged to their part of Scotland. A battalion of that regiment a few years ago embarked on board a line-of-battle ship he had had the honour of commanding—the Hannibal—in the Black Sea. The men did not at that time wear the trews, but black or dark coloured continuations, which he was sure would be satisfactory to his hon. and gallant Friends. What was required was that the 1st and 2nd Battalions—which were the distinguished battalions of the old 21st Regiment, now the Royal Scots—should go back to the "continuation," which, it was considered, would be more becoming to all four battalions. They had had nothing to do with the kilt, and the trews, so far as he knew, were only a modest continuation of that dress. In that part of Scotland they knew nothing but the black and white plaid. He trusted that his hon. and gallant Friends would soon find themselves dressed in a garment which would be much more becoming and much more satisfactory.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
said, he wished to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a point of more importance than the question of the particular pattern selected for the nether garments of the regiment he served in. 626 It was a question to which he had drawn the right hon. Gentleman's attention last year—namely, the subject of musketry instruction in the Militia. It was a subject which must be considered of preeminent importance, because no Force in these days of arms of precision was of the slightest use without, in some degree more or less perfect, being able to use those arms. He had ventured last year to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman three courses, or modes, by which he thought the present system might be improved. One was to discontinue musketry instruction to disembodied Militia altogether; the second was to have alternative trainings devoted to musketry instruction and field exercises; and the third was to have seperate companies of Militia during the non-training seasons under instruction in musketry at the regimental headquarters. The right hon. Gentleman had said these three courses were under the consideration of the Commission appointed to inquire into the system of musketry instruction. He (Sir Herbert Maxwell) trusted, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give the Committee information as to the recommendations of the Commission with reference to some amelioration of the present system. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman, having been 17 years in the Militia, that the money spent at present in instructing Militiamen in musketry was absolutely thrown away. The system of musketry instruction was a farce. There were two minor points on which he would venture to ask information—one was, why the Channel Islands Militia was this year, for the first time, included in the Establishment; and the other was, why the Militia Reserve did not appear, with regard to numbers in training, as they did in 1881? The right hon. Gentleman would pardon him for asking so many questions, perhaps; but it must not be forgotten that this was the only opportunity those who were interested in the Service had of bringing them on.
SIR HENRY FLETCHER
said, he rose, though not as a Militiaman, to supplement the appeal of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Wigton (Sir Herbert Maxwell) with regard to musketry instruction, not only in the Militia, but in the Regular Army also. This appeared to him to be a great and 627 a very grave question. The only musketry instruction the men had was in firing a certain number of rounds per annum; and he, as one who for years had taken the deepest interest in everything connected with the Service, certainly thought that musketry instruction should be given in a manner very different to that which had been adopted up to the present moment. He would carry the Committee back 28 years, if they would allow him, when the regiment in which he had the honour to serve was supplied with the old Brown Bess, which only carried, perhaps, 100 yards. Since then many changes had been made, and many advantages had accrued to the Service. He would, however, impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the necessity of allowing a much larger percentage of rounds to be handed over to the various regiments, in order that they might render themselves more perfect in musketry practice than they were able to do at the present moment. He thought as much ammunition as possible should be allowed to Colonels of regiments for the use of their men.
§ MR. ROUND
said, the right hon. Gentleman had stated just now, in reply to a noble Lord (Lord Algernon Percy), that he intended to consider the question of allowances in respect of non-commissioned officers in the Militia. He (Mr. Round) did not know whether the allowances alluded to were lodging allowances or not; but he should like to hear this, as no greater lodging allowance was now made to a sergeant major than to a drummer boy, and he thought this should be remedied. A new system of drilling Militia recruits had just come into force, and the old plan of bringing up all the recruits together for two months' training before the assembling of the regiment had been abolished. As to the present mode, he did not wish to cast doubts upon its success; but he had had some years' experience of the old one, and he was bound to say he thought it preferable to the new plan. Till now recruits commenced drill under their own officers and non-commissioned officers; they knew each other, and got accustomed to drilling together. It was of great advantage to all concerned when the regiment came up for drill, if the recruits were familiar with their non-commissioned officers. He hoped, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman would 628 not be afraid of going back to the old system if it was found that the new one was not a success. The next point he wished to mention was the small number of non-commissioned officers who were present at drill during the annual training of their regiments. There was often no more than two non-commissioned officers to every 40 rank and file; the deductions made in respect of canteen duty, guard duty, hospital duty, and other special services, left a very small number indeed to go out for drill. Sometimes there was only one non-commissioned officer of the permanent staff to a company of 80 men. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would give some attention to this point, for he assured him that if he could add to the number of non-commissioned officers attending the training it would be greatly to the advantage of the Militia.
§ MR. CHILDERS
was greatly obliged to hon. and gallant Members who had had experience in the Militia for the suggestions they had made. He was not aware that there was a paucity in the number of non-commissioned officers in any battalion; but he would take care to inquire into the matter. As to the rates of allowance he had spoken of, he wished to say that many of them were very antiquated; but they were revising all these rates. He agreed with his hon. and gallant Friends opposite that it would be desirable to expedite, as far as they could, the time when the Militia would have all their non-commissioned officers taken on their Line engagements, and when the non-commissioned officers of the Line and Militia would be on the same footing. Of course, it would be rash for them to put the whole of the non-commissioned officers of the Militia not serving on Line engagements on the same footing as noncommissioned officers of the Line. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Percy) had asked him whether he remembered a change of uniform having occurred lately where no allowance was made.
§ MR. CHILDERS
Yes. He could inform the noble Earl of several cases; he had mentioned them, but could give each individual case if necessary. He had mentioned the case of change from the ordinary uniform to the Highland dress, and there had been changes in 629 regard to the Artillery dress far more expensive than that the noble Earl referred to. He was not aware—although he had made inquiries to ascertain whether such had taken place—that any applications for allowances had been made in these cases.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that, undoubtedly, that was the case in several instances. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir John Hay) had referred to the question of trews, and had spoken of it as not only affecting the comfort and convenience of such officers as the hon. and gallant Members for Wigton (Sir Herbert Maxwell) and Bute (Mr. Dalrymple), but as having become really an alarming matter. Well, he had never been under the impression that the 21st Regiment, which, he believed, had always had pipers, wished to disown their connection with the kilt. The change had been made, and, it seemed to him, with good reason; and what had been suggested to-night with regard to disloyalty he could never imagine as existing in Scotland at all. As to the question of providing cells for the punishment of Militiamen at the depôts, the hon. and gallant Member (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) was quite right. The matter had been mentioned last year, and at this very moment an investigation into the circumstances was proceeding. It was undoubtedly desirable that these cells should be provided at some depôts. The hon. and gallant Member for Wigton (Sir Herbert Maxwell) had asked him why the Militia of Jersey and Guernsey were included. If the hon. and gallant Member would look at the Votes he would see that the item formerly came under Vote 15, and that it had been merely transferred from there to the present Vote, to which it more properly belonged than to the head of "Miscellaneous" items. The hon. and gallant Member had also asked what it was proposed to do to improve musketry instruction; and this question had also been pressed upon them by hon. Members in other quarters. He had already stated that they had not yet completed all the arrangements it was proposed to carry out to improve the musketry instruction of the Army. The matter had been reported 630 upon by a Departmental Committee, whose Report was now under the consideration of the Commander-in-Chief and his Staff. He might say that a very large increase in the number of rounds to be fired in the Line and in the Militia would undoubtedly be one of the changes carried out. In the present Estimates a sufficient sum for the increase had been provided; but the precise details had not yet been settled.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he wished to call attention to the Antrim Militia. The right hon. Gentleman would remember that on a former occasion attention had been called to the want of discipline in that regiment, and to the fact that material changes had been brought about by the retirement of the Colonel. The want of discipline was not confined to the Colonel alone, and the effect of his retirement had been that all the other officers had had a step of promotion. He had asked the right hon. Gentleman a question as to the discipline of this regiment last year, and had received an answer to the effect that the discipline was all that could be desired. It was very strange that at the time when the discipline of this regiment was alleged to be so perfect the regiment had no practical existence; and, if he was rightly informed, 50 or 60 members of the force had substantial stoppages made from their pay as a punishment for drunkenness; and there were more courts martial in the year 1880–1, when the regiment was embodied, than the average number. He was also informed that the gentleman who was made Colonel of the regiment was an Englishman, and had not a very high idea of strict discipline. It was alleged in the newspapers that in June, 1880, he had acted contrary to the proper rules of the Service; and instead of his being promoted, he ought to been reprimanded. Then, again, Major Johnstone, who had got the second position in the regiment, was alleged to have sent recommendations to the Commander-in-Chief in Dublin, recommending certain officers for promotion without having consulted his commanding officer. On these subjects he should be glad of information. He would like to know whether the statement that this regiment, which had been embodied within the last two years, was in a satisfactory state, and whether the right hon. Gentleman would allow a certain proportion of its present officers to fill up 631 their places with men against whom no such charges could be made?
§ SIR JAMES M'GAREL-HOGG
said, he happened to live in the county of which the hon. Member spoke; and he must say, as an officer, that he had never heard anything more unjust or unfair than the statements which the hon. Member had made on the strength of newspaper reports. The hon. Member said somebody said so and so; and by name he mentioned, and tried to take away the character of a body of honourable officers in Her Majesty's Service. He did not think it was fair to make such charges without a tittle of evidence; and if the hon. Member had anything to say against those officers, he ought to prove his statements, and not go to newspaper correspondents. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give an answer commensurate with the charges made.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he thought it was quite as justifiable for his hon. Friend to make charges on the strength of newspaper reports as for the hon. and gallant Member to reprove him on a matter that he knew nothing about. Why should not Irish Members be as competent to judge of matters brought under their notice as any newspaper editor? Why should the House of Commons be supposed to be sacred to criminals and offenders, while every newspaper editor considered himself competent to comment upon every matter from whatever source his information came? The statements which his hon. Friend quoted were not denied, and it was his duty to bring them forward; but the hon. and gallant Baronet seemed to think it his duty to get up and denounce the hon. Member for doing what every editor believed himself competent to do. The Irish Members, if the necessity arose, were entitled, in their capacity as Members, to comment upon these matters, and he did not think his hon. Friend had done anything beyond what any hon. Member might do; and he protested against Irish Members, who were in the exercise of their functions and called attention to the Militia or other branches of the Service being attacked, and even insulted, by other Members who had no concern in the matter.
§ THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL (Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN)
said, that the proceedings of all these courts martial came before him; but this was the first 632 time he had ever heard of any such proceedings as those to which the hon. Member had alluded, and until he had better authority to go on than newspaper reports he should respectfully decline to believe what had been stated.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he had stated that the discipline of the Antrim Militia was practically in a vicious state. The Colonel of the regiment had retired, and other officers who were mixed up in the matters on account of which the Colonel retired had been promoted. The Department, instead of giving promotion to gentlemen who were notoriously ill-conducted, should have reprimanded them for their conduct; and he reminded the House that last year, in reply to a question, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the discipline was satisfactory, although, as a matter of fact, the regiment had not been then embodied. He thought he was fully entitled to act as he had acted, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General knew nothing whatever about the subject, and an answer from him was not entitled to any consideration.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, the hon. Member for Cavan had brought that question forward the year before last, and also last year. He himself had made full inquiry into the matter, and he told the House distinctly what were the cases in which the Department had not been satisfied with regard to the Antrim Militia. Since then, the condition of the regiment had been satisfactory; and when the hon. Member for Cavan said that it was notoriously in an unsatisfactory state, he must, with all deference, distinctly contradict him. The promotions which had been referred to had taken place only after due and proper inquiry had been made by the military authorities.
§ MR. HEALY
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would have any objection to issuing a Return with regard to the Militia and the Yeomanry regiments called out in Ireland since 1880, showing the number of men and the amounts of money paid since that year, which was the year when the Liberal Government took Office? He should be glad to know what trust the Government put in Militia regiments in Ireland.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he presumed the hon. Member was aware that in 1881–2 the Militia in Ireland had not been called out. He had stated that in moving his Estimates in both years.
§ MR. BIGGAR
referred again to the Antrim Militia, and stated that although the right hon. Gentleman said the condition of that regiment was satisfactory, he found that upwards of 50 soldiers had had stoppages made in their pay for drunkenness during training. That gave a very different idea from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman; and he was perfectly convinced that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong absolutely in his information, and that his own statements as to the condition of the men and the officers was correct.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he thought it was possible that some of the men had in the year 1880 taken too much whiskey; but that did not prove that the Antrim Militia was not in a satisfactory state. He could only repeat his statement that the Militia was in a satisfactory condition.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would consider the question of continuing the Staff of the Irish Militia on its present footing; and whether he had decided to call out the Militia for training during the period when the Coercion Bill just brought in would be in force in Ireland?
§ MR. CHILDERS
replied, that the Militia would not be called out this year for training; and what would happen next year would have to be considered at the proper time.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he had received a letter with regard to the Militia Staff in Armagh, which stated that at the depôt centre there were two sets of officers, one connected with the Line, and another with the Militia. Seeing that there was no embodied Militia in Ireland, he thought it was preposterous that a full Staff of Militia should continue to be kept up when their services were perfectly useless. The letter stated that the Adjutant of Militia at the head-quarters drew full pay, and that another officer was getting extra allowances. If that was so, it seemed to him that there was a waste of power at the depôt centres; and he thought some means ought to be adopted for sending the Sergeants and other officers connected with the Militia to the regiments.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that if any reduction was necessary it would have to be in the Staff of the Militia; and he was not disposed, without further inquiry, to discharge a part of the Militia, when it was hoped, very shortly, that the Militia might be again called out in Ireland.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, the suggestion his correspondent made was that the Militia officers should be kept at the depôt centre, and that the others should be sent to their regiments. He did not think there was the slightest use in keeping up a permanent Staff in connection with the Militia. It would be easy to form a new Staff if it was at any time considered desirable to have Militia regiments in Ireland; but, so far as he could see, the Militia caused an entire waste of money. They had not the slightest appearance of soldiers, and the time they had for drill was so short that it was impossible they could get any benefit from being embodied as they at present were in Ireland.
MR. DE LA POER BERESFORD
said, he lived in Armagh, and he knew something about the Militia; but it struck him that neither the hon. Member nor his correspondent knew what they were talking about. The Armagh regiment was one of the best and strongest regiments in the Irish Militia. The men were essentially fine men, and well officered; and one of the regiments last year was nearly 400 strong. That regiment was effective, and fully equal to any regiment of Militia in Her Majesty's Service.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ (5.) £69,000, Yeomanry Cavalry.
inquired whether the right hon. Gentleman had considered the desirability of making some arrangement in succeeding years by which Yeomanry Cavalry should receive some small allowance by way of payment for the extra drills, of which there were about three that were compulsory? The ordinary payment for a Yeoman on duty was 7s. a-day. The great difficulty was to get men to come up for these extra drills; and in 1879, when there was no permanent duty, some few drills were paid for by the Government, and then there was no difficulty of that kind. All those extra drills were attended; and he wished to ask whether, in future 635 years, the Yeomanry might hope for some small allowance to Yeomen for attendance at these extra drills? This year the charge for the payment of Yeomanry was £5,000 less than last year; and he was sure a very much less sum than that would be of great value in enabling the Yeomanry officers to get their men together for the purposes of the Service.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he rejoiced that his hon. Friend, whose reputation as a Yeomanry officer was so well known, had taken part in this debate; and any suggestion from him should receive the best consideration. The position of the Department in respect to the Yeomanry was that there had not been, for a good many years, any inquiry affecting the Yeomanry, and various points for consideration had accumulated; but the Adjutant General and other officers were at present making an inquiry into the several questions affecting the Yeomanry; but he could not state details, because no conclusion had been arrived at. Among the various questions, he would take care that the suggestion of his hon. Friend was considered.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;
§ Committee to sit again upon Monday next.