§ Order for Second Reading read.
In moving the second reading of this Bill it will not be necessary for me to detain the House for more than a very few minutes, because I have already stated fully, in dealing with the Bill connected with Lord Alcester, that portion of the case which relates to precedents. My statement was, indeed, impugned; but I wish to say that my hon. Friend gave no ground whatever for impugning it. The case which ho quoted of Lord Clyde forms no precedent whatever for our present proceedings, because that was an Indian grant, and was covered by Indian practice. Then, again, with regard to Lord Lyons, this is the first time that I have heard his case cited as a precedent, and I know of no ground upon which it ought to be so cited. I am not aware that any Peerage was ever given to Lord Lyons for special services. Lord Lyons received a Peerage, and a well-earned Peerage, for distinguished services in 691 the Navy and in the Civil Service of this country; but I am not aware of anything in the case of Lord Lyons which has the smallest bearing upon the case now before us. The case, therefore, stands as one of following a uniform precedent in respect of pensions involving an hereditary element, although I stated distinctly to the House that the practice has been changed, inasmuch as these pensions, which were originally given as perpetual pensions, have been recently contracted to two lives. The case of Lord Wolseley, in every substantial particular, is analogous to that which we have just decided in the case of Lord Alcester. I can, indeed, draw no distinction between the merits of these two distinguished Officers. The only thing is that the services of Lord Wolseley, from their nature, are still more fresh in the mind of the House and of the country at large than those of Lord Alcester. I know there may be those who say that really the action at Tel-el-Kebir was one at which hon. Gentlemen oven in this House are ready to sneer. The particulars of that action appear to be considered of very small significance, because there was only a limited loss of life on our part. But to whom was it due, under Providence, that this limited loss of life on our side occurred? It was due to the consummate judgment and the strong humanity of Lord Wolseley, which made him lay down those admirable plans he had thought out to the most minute particular. They were laid out in such a way that the attack was made by night instead of by day, and the result was that the killed and wounded were counted by units; when, had the attack been made by day, they would probably have been counted by hundreds and thousands, in which case, perhaps, there would have been some disposition in some quarters to admit the signal services of Lord Wolseley. It was that humanity of Lord Wolseley, combined with his conspicuous skill and daring, which, in my opinion, rendered it a matter of the greatest satisfaction to the House already to acknowledge his services by a Vote of Thanks, in which we expressed our estimate of those services in terms not wanting in warmth, or in form or force. Certainly, it might have been, in some respects, very satisfactory if the objections which have been taken 692 to-night had been raised when the Vote of Thanks was brought forward. I do not know on what grounds, consistent with the dignity of this Assembly, we can in a Vote of Thanks, which costs nothing but the paper on which it is printed, describe in glowing terms the services rendered to the country by such men as Lord Alcester and Lord Wolseley, and then reserve the occasion of serious opposition until the time when the Government does no more than proceed to what at all times has been considered the natural consequence of such a Vote of Thanks to such Commanders— namely, when they ask the House of Commons to confer on those who have had the chief responsibility a solid and substantial mark of the public gratitude. At this late hour of the night I will no longer detain the House; but I do put it to the House—and I should have done so before, when I formally addressed it, had I supposed that so many hours would have been devoted to a controversial discussion of the subject —I do put it to the House that the act it is now invited to do is no more than the just consequence, I might almost say the necessary complement, of the Vote that was taken—without division, and with something, I think, approaching perfect unanimity—which expressed, in a specific form of words, our gratitude to those distinguished Commanders which we are now asked to express in another form in the shape of the grant of an annuity. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. BROADHURST
After the lengthened debate which has taken place on a Motion similar to the present in reference to Lord Alcester, it is not my intention to detain the House for any length of time in moving the Amendment which has been placed on the Paper in my name. That Amendment is that—In the opinion of this House, the services of Lord Wolseley during our Military operations in Egypt were not of such a character as to satisfy this House as to the desirability of assenting to the proposal submitted to it in this Bill.I think that after the speech which has just been made by the Prime Minister, 693 when formal Votes of Thanks are moved in this House in future, we shall have to take a much firmer, and a much more determined, stand in opposition to them, if this is to be regarded as our rule of procedure upon such questions. We did not make a very strenuous opposition to the Vote of Thanks to Lord Alcester and Lord Wolseley, because we supposed that it was a formal matter, in regard to which it would have been discourteous to have offered any considerable amount of opposition. But if it necessarily follows that, having agreed to a Vote of Thanks for the services rendered by our Naval and Military Commanders, that Vote of Thanks is to be followed by Peerages and hereditary pensions, and that then we are not to be in a position to object to such honours and emoluments, our action in the future must be very different, indeed, from what it has been on this occasion. It is not my desire to enter at ail into the question of the policy of the War, because that subject has been discussed already by the different speakers who have addressed the House to-night. I may say that I voted with the Government on the occasion when they asked for the support of this House, and for a Vote of Credit in connection with the Expedition to Egypt. To-night we have an entirely different issue before us; and I think we might fairly, without condemning the policy of the War, or even questioning that policy, make a stand in opposition to the renewal of arrangements which the country almost unanimously condemns. What we protest against to-night is the lavish recognition of past services performed. I am not inclined, in the least, to question the value of these services, or to undervalue the thanks which are due to Lord Wolseley for the very expeditious manner in which he discharged the duties imposed upon him by the Government and by Parliament; but what I do think is, that they were not of a sufficiently onerous character to warrant the House in voting the largo sum of money which we are called upon to grant to-night. In the first place, as we have been just reminded, Parliament almost unanimously passed Votes of Thanks to those two Officers for the way in which they did their duty. Now, that, in my opinion, is no mean reward to be accorded to soldiers and sailors for the nature of the work in which they have 694 been engaged. But then there was a proposal to confer Peerages upon the Commanders. Now, had the proposal to grant Peerages been unaccompanied by financial provisions, I am sure that there would have been no great dispute in this House with regard to it. We know that Peerages are held to be the very highest prizes in this country; and many men would contend with most enormous difficulties if they could be assured that upon achieving success they would be endowed with a Peerage. But in addition to all the honours conferred upon these two Officers their pay is by no means of a meagre character. I am informed that the pay of the Commander-in-Chief, while in Egypt, amounted to something like £4,500 per year, in addition to the War allowances, which were of the most liberal and lavish description, during the time he was employed in field operations. Again, in his present position, if I am correctly informed, as Adjutant General of the Forces, Lord Wolseley has a salary of £2,700 a-year; and, even his half-pay as a General, if he should ever come to that position, would amount to £800 a-year. All this, with the proposed annuity of £2,000 a-year, if added to what he would have when he again became Commander-in-Chief, would amount to some £6,000 or £7,000; and in any case it would be from £4,000 to £5,000 a-year, which, I contend, is a very handsome allowance, and ought to be quite sufficient, without additional pensions to himself and one heir. The whole question turns upon the granting of pensions; and I would advise Her Majesty's Government, who are at present in Office, and I would advise hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the opposite Benches, who are anxiously awaiting their return to Office, to remark the character of the two divisions which have already taken place to-night. We have had marching into the Lobby, in opposition to the principle contained in these Bills, the Representatives of our greatest and most crowded constituencies; and there can be no question or doubt whatever that, in so doing, they were no more than fulfilling the desires of those who were returning them to Parliament. This question of pensions is daily becoming more obnoxious. There is not only a dislike amongst what is called the Democracy, or the Advanced Radi- 695 calism of the labouring classes, but that dislike is participated in by the middle classes—the struggling shopkeeper, the small manufacturer, and those who have to pay heavy local rates and boar the burden of heavy Imperial taxation. These men, who are struggling for a living, are beginning to inquire why they should have saddled upon them and their children's children, in opposition to their own wishes and their own desires, these serious burdens. There is one particular feature about this revival of pensions which strikes the labouring classes most strongly; and that is that pensions, as a rule, are given to those who destroy, and are never bestowed upon the benefactors of the country, who create its wealth. You reward your soldiers and your sailors; but you have men, even within this House itself, who are far more deserving, in a material sense, of the thanks, the honours, and the rewards of the nation, than any of the great Commanders who have been sent into foreign lands. They, as a rule, escaped without recognition, and without a Vote of Thanks. ["Name!"] An hon. Member calls out "Shame!" [Cries of "No; name!"] Sir, if I had to think of a name at a moment's notice, I would mention that of the hon. Member for the West Hiding of Yorkshire (Mr. Isaac Holden), who, by the fertility of his brains and his inventive genius, has added more to the wealth of the country than all your soldiers and your sailors put together. I promised not to detain the House for any length, and I have only now to move the Amendment which has been placed in my name upon the Paper. In doing so, I feel that I am discharging one of the most important duties that I owe to the taxpayers of this country.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the services of Lord Wolseley during our Military operations in Egypt were not of such a character as to satisfy this House as to the desirability of assenting to the proposal submitted to it in this Bill,"— (Mr. Broadhurst,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."696
§ MR. LEWIS
I should not have ventured to rise on the present occasion if it had not been for the extraordinary argument that has just been used by the Prime Minister. What I understood him to say to the House was that a Vote of Thanks passed by this House was not practically worth more than the paper it was written upon, unless it was followed by the grant of a pension, or, to put it, perhaps, more strictly, that it would not cost more than the paper it was written upon.
§ MR. LEWIS
I understood that to be the case, and I think it raises a point which I wish the country to understand thoroughly. The view of the right hon. Gentleman comes to this—that as regards two out of some 20 persons named in the Vote of Thanks they are deserving of pensions; whereas the residue of the 20—all those who composed the rank and file—are not worthy of estimation, because the Vote of Thanks to them is not to be followed by a pension. Therefore, General Adye, General Willis, Sir Evelyn Wood, and other distinguished officers who served in the Campaign, and the rank and file of the Army, must go away with cold comfort, and rest satisfied with a Vote of Thanks, which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister tells us is worth nothing at all. I am sorry to detain the House, but I do not intend to do so at any length. Nevertheless, I think there are one or two points which have not been brought before us as clearly and as distinctly as they ought to have been. Now, what is the real cause of our opposition to-night? We have been compelled, on this occasion, to pursue the extraordinary course of discussing the policy and the conduct of the Egyptian War indirectly and incidentally. The necessity for this arose from the fact that we have been at war and we have not been at war. If we had been at war in the ordinary sense of the term there would have been a Treaty of Peace; but no Treaty has yet been placed before the House of Commons for its acceptance. Such a Treaty would properly and naturally have formed the subject of a Constitutional debate. But in consequence of the extraordinary position in which the Government have placed the country and this Assembly, 697 we have been returning thanks, not to those who have been conducting the war on behalf of the country, but to those who have been conducting what are called "military and naval operations." I think it is a most painful thing to know that in these cases the rank and file—those who have to hear the real hardships of the Campaign — are left out in the lurch. One of the questions placed on the Paper to-night had reference to some trumpery decoration of the soldiers who were engaged in the Transvaal War. It is a remarkable fact that the soldiers who were engaged in that war have not yet got their decorations, and cannot get them; and yet the House is asked to endorse the present proposal of the Government with the utmost celerity. I think the House has not been dealt fairly with. The Peerage in this case precedes the pension; and we are told by the Prime Minister that if we grant an hereditary Peerage we must necessarily accompany it with an hereditary pension. Now, the House is not concerned in the policy which dictates the grant of pensions, unless such a grant is followed by a call upon the taxpayers. We are told by the Prime Minister that the Government, having advised Her Majesty to ennoble these two officers, must, of necessity, ask Parliament to confer upon them pensions, which are to last for two generations. It has been said by the right hon. Gentleman that this is a question which must be covered by precedent. Well, I want to know are all the distinctions conferred on Military and Naval Commanders to be stereotyped? Is there to be no difference between a man who wins a small battle and a great one? Is it to be purely a kind of crystallized system? The men who suppressed the Indian Mutiny—the men who won the Crimean War—were comparatively unrewarded, if we take into consideration the distinctions conferred upon those who were engaged in defeating these wretched Egyptians last August. I have been looking at the records of the Crimean War. Was there any man ennobled in connection with it for any of the great services that were performed? I think I am correct in saying that there was not one. Lord Raglan died before the war was brought to a completion, and there were several Generals in command after Lord Raglan died; 698 but I am not aware of any distinction or of any pension that was bestowed upon any Commander at the close of the Crimean War. Then, again, what was the case in the Indian Mutiny, in which the whole power of England was called into play for the purpose of saving our great Indian Empire? We know that Lord Clyde was ennobled; but was Parliament asked to grant a pension equivalent to that which is now asked for Lord Alcester and Lord Wolseley? Not a bit of it. It was simply a pension for life; and the right hon. Gentleman, in admitting that fact, simply remarked that it was a burden which fell upon the Indian Exchequer. All I have to say is, so much the worse. We should bear in mind what was the character of the operations, and what resources, skill, energy, courage, and power of the individual were called into play in vindication of the authority and position of the Army of England. I have frequently heard that this was a wonderful campaign indeed, especially the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, because Lord Wolseley had prophesied the day on which that fortification would be captured. Now, that proves to me the direct contrary, because it shows that it was not a military, but a geographical victory, which enabled Lord Wolseley, five or six weeks beforehand, to put his pen to paper and describe the march of his troops with tolerable accuracy. There is nothing in it indicative of the uncertainties of war; but it is simply the marching of so many soldiers so many miles. Let the House look at one or two other examples. What was done in the case of Sir William Fenwick Williams, who made that wonderful defence of Kars, and who, besides being created a Baronet, had a pension of £1,000 for his own life? Then, again, there was the case of Sir Henry Have-lock, whose widow had a pension of £1,000 a-year granted to her for her own life, with the remainder to her son. Therefore, so far as precedent is concerned, there is a remarkable want of it to justify the conduct of the Government in this matter. In these two great military events of a war which lasted for years, and which are within the memory of those who are not past middle life—namely, the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny—the precedent goes entirely the other way. Both of these dis- 699 tinguished campaigns were passed over without any considerable honours and pensions being bestowed in regard to them; and, indeed, the wars I have mentioned were brought to an end without any exceptional honours and pensions being bestowed upon any of the Commanders who were successful in bringing them to a close. On a former occasion I made reference to Sir Frederick Roberts; and the case of Sir Frederick Roberts has already been referred to this evening. It seems to me that the observations which have boon made by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and, in another sense, by the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ash-mead-Bartlett), are perfectly correct and legitimate. If ever there was a man who displayed the greatest courage, the greatest skill, and the greatest discretion in the disposal and use of the materials he had at his command, it was in the case of Sir Frederick Roberts, whoso famous march from Cabul to Candahar was one which has made a mark in history that will never be forgotten so long as the military history of England is remembered. But Sir Frederick Roberts had the misfortune not to represent the political opinions or the policy of Her Majesty's Government. In his history, in his original proceedings, and in his course as a soldier, especially in reference to this very event—the march to Candahar—ho was carrying out incidentally a policy which was not gratifying to Her Majesty's Government; and, accordingly, it was found, when it came to be a question of distributing prizes to those who were engaged in this celebrated march, that there was no precedent established of a pension of £2,000 a-year for two lives. But there was a pension of £1,000 compulsorily commuted in the case of a young man for a fixed sum of £12,500. Those hon. Members who are acquainted with contemporary history know that that reward followed after an electioneering announcement of the Prime Minister himself, in which he denounced, in a most hostile spirit, what he called the outrages committed by Sir Frederick Roberts.
§ MR. LEWIS
I believe I am not misquoting the right hon. Gentleman when I say that, in the middle of the Liver- 700 pool Election, on the 2nd of February, 1880, referring to the War in Afghanistan, ho used these words—We have shivered the country into fragments; we have hanged men ignominiously as rebels—how many has not yet been told—for no other crime than that of defending their country; we have burned villages, and driven women and children to starve in the cold of winter.That was a statement made by the Prime Minister on the 2nd of February, 1880, before Sir Frederick Roberts had an opportunity of giving a contradiction to the charges which had been made against him. The contradiction came two days later, when Sir Frederick Roberts reported—No one executed unless convicted of attack upon Residency; no soldier shot for fighting against us.
Will the hon. Member state what he is quoting from? I am not aware of any authorized report.
§ MR. LEWIS
It is not usual to require an authorized report of a letter. What I have been quoting is an extract from a letter of the right hon. Gentleman to a certain Mr. William Bath-bone, not unknown in Liverpool, who at that time was conducting the candidature of a noble Lord who is perfectly well known to the right hon. Gentleman.
Will the hon. Member kindly give me the means of making a reference to that letter, so that I may bo able to see what it is?
§ MR. LEWIS
If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the public papers published about that time he will discover the letter in full. But the matter did not end there. Members of the present Government were doubly implicated in the attack upon Sir Frederick Roberts; and I find that a newly-fledged Member of the Cabinet, the President of the Local Government Board, on the 13th of January, also wrote a letter, in which he said he 701Was amazed at the reported action of our authorities at Cabul in hanging private soldiers for fighting against usat the Battle of Charasiab, adding that—If no one else does, I will call the attention of Parliament to the matter.Following up that threat, on the 2nd of February, the same day as the letter of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was written to Mr. Rathbone, the President of the Local Government Board made a speech, in which ho said—Our proceedings at Cabul demand inquiry, and strong expression of opinion on the part of the House in reference to the outrages which took place at the Battle of Charasiab.It was in connection with the Liverpool Election, in order to make capital out of them, that these charges were flung by right hon. Gentlemen now connected with the Government at the heads of their political opponents; and before Sir Frederick Roberts had an opportunity of denying them, which he did two days later, these unfortunate charges were made against him. I confess I do not wonder that when it came to be a question of conferring dignity and honours upon a man who is said on the highest authority—namely, that of two prospective Cabinet Ministers—to have hanged soldiers for no other crime than that of defending their country—I do not wonder, when it came to be a question of conferring dignities upon that man, that he fared somewhat unfortunately; but I do wonder that in the case of a proved, determined, and skilful soldier like Sir Frederick Roberts, who did a deed of glory as amazing as it was satisfactory to England's credit and the feeling of the country—I do wonder that when the country had an opportunity of remedying the reproach they had been casting against his character, Her Majesty's Government did not seize the opportunity of heaping upon Sir Frederick Roberts honour, dignity, and pension. ["Oh!"] I am not surprised that certain hon. Gentlemen sitting behind the Front Benches on the other side of the House should be so anxious to prevent these things from coming out; but they are very much mistaken if they suppose that the country will not hear of them. This Egyptian Expedition has been called a war. It was no war at all. It was con- 702 ducted in such a way that there has been no opportunity of discussing it when it was brought to a conclusion; and hon. Members who felt strongly on the question, and who had been deprived of a legitimate opportunity of discussing it, had a right to take this incidental opportunity of discussing it. I come now to my last point, and I venture to repeat what I said a few days ago—namely, that the necessity of conferring these Peerages upon the two Commanders was simply because the House has been led into the dilemma of having, as the right hon. Gentleman said, and as other speakers in the previous debate said, either to grant pensions to them or to cast a slur upon them. We must recollect that the proceedings in connection with the War in Egypt were taken by Her Majesty's Government at a very peculiar crisis in their history. The uniform of the British soldier had been dragged in the dirt in the Transvaal; we had to expiate the defeat of Majuba Hill somewhere; and I believe it was thought most desirable that the exhausted strength, authority, and power of Her Majesty's Government should be recuperated, refreshed, and invigorated upon Egyptian soil. When the troops came back from Egypt, why was it that we had a Sunday parade? It was in order that the whole population might glorify Her Majesty's Government and the troop3 concerned in the war. Why did we have that extraordinary exhibition of the Indian troops brought here in defiance of all the principles which have been professed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite when the Conservative Party were in power? How was it that they were paraded in all their grandeur and glory through the streets and public places of the Metropolis? It was simply to add to the prestige of Her Majesty's Government. How was it that the crowning of the edifice of the Egyptian Campaign was to be found in creating two new Peerages? It was to magnify the Government, and to make out that the loss of dignity England sustained in the Transvaal had been repaired by the operations in Egypt. I believe that the people of England fully understand this, and that by the light which this debate has thrown upon certain matters, many hon. Members sitting below the Gangway are beginning to see that after all there may be some 703 little inconsistency in the anti-Jingoism of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister when in Opposition, and his profound and profligate Jingoism since he has been in power. I ask the House to take an impartial view of the matter; and if we are, in a case like this, to exhaust, as we are exhausting, the power of granting the honours and dignities of the country, what is to be done hereafter? The right hon. Gentleman told us that this was the limit of pensions that would, in future, be granted. Therefore, we can go no higher; and if we can get no higher, how are we to be able to confer proper honours and distinctions upon those Generals and Admirals who may bring about hereafter some great naval or military victory worthy of the great name of the country? If anyone thinks, in the taking of Tel-el-Kebir, and in sending the ships into the Suez Canal, we had a display of the highest naval and military art, combined with eminent civil services in connection with these operations, then I admit that these pensions are well earned; but they might be doubled, and still supported by the same arguments. For my own part, I am unable to understand what honours or amount of pensions would have to be conferred in the event of another Crimean War or Indian Mutiny taking place. For these reasons, I cordially oppose the second reading of the Bill.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, the hon. Member who has just sat down has complained of the inconvenient position in which the House has been placed by the course taken by Her Majesty's Government; and he says that although he has been studying precedents, he can find no precedent for that course. Now, I think there is a precedent which he might have recollected, and which might have given some satisfaction to the hon. Member, as showing that, at all events, we have only been following in the footsteps of the Government of which he is a supporter. The hon. Gentleman complains also of the inconvenience to which the House has been put owing to this war not having been a war of a regular character, and not having been terminated by Treaty. He says that there has been no Treaty laid upon the Table at the end of the war, and, therefore, that the House has not been able to discuss the policy of 704 Her Majesty's Government except indirectly, as on the present occasion. Now, I think that there was a precisely similar case to the present which occurred during the administration of the Conservative Government—namely, the case of the Abyssinian War. I am not aware of any Treaty when the Abyssinian War was concluded; at least, I am not aware of any Treaty having been laid upon the Table of the House at the close of that war. But, notwithstanding the absence of a Treaty, by which that war was concluded, a Conservative Government, following the precedent we are following, proposed a Vote of Thanks in this House, and followed it up by the proposal of a pension for two lives to the gallant Officer who conducted that Expedition. The hon. Member complains that we are treating the House unfairly, because, in the present instance, the Peerages which have been conferred preceded the Vote of Thanks and the proposal for pensions. Now, that is precisely the course which the Conservatives took after the Abyssinian War.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The hon. Member, as I understood, complained that the Peerages were granted before the House was called upon to discuss the matter, and that now the House is asked to grant pensions for the support of those Peerages. That was precisely the course taken by Mr. Disraeli in the case of the pension to Lord Napier of Magdala. Mr. Disraeli came down to the House and announced that Her Majesty had been pleased to confer a Peerage upon Lord Napier of Magdala, and he proposed precisely the same grant as that now proposed by us. Nothing can be more unpleasant, and nothing more painful to the feelings of the gallant Officers concerned, than that the House should be invited, as it has boon by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis), and I am sorry to say by other hon. Members who have spoken this evening, to go into a minute and critical discussion upon the respective merits of the services in respect of which these honours are conferred. But, Sir, if we are compelled to compare the amount of the danger and difficulty incurred, and the amount of skill employed, I venture to say that the late 705 operations in Egypt do compare, in every possible respect in which they can be compared, favourably with those for which the House thought it right, without a word of objection from us, to confer similar honours and rewards upon Lord Napier of Magdala. The hon. Member for Londonderry seems to think he has a good case against the Government in respect of the treatment accorded to Sir Frederick Roberts for his services in India and Afghanistan. I have already said, and I consider that it is unfortunate to have to compare, in that way, the merits of gallant officers who have always done their best in the discharge of their duty to their country. But that comparison has been forced upon us; and it is necessary, as the case of Sir Frederick Roberts has been referred to, although nothing can be more distasteful to myself, for me to say one word, not in depreciation of his services, but as to the circumstances of his employment, and as to the precedents under which honours and rewards were conferred upon him. Sir Frederick Roberts, it must be remembered, at the time when his famous exploit was performed in Afghanistan, was not in supreme command of the forces in that country. Reference has been made to the services rendered by Sir Frederick Roberts in the first advance to Cabul. Well, Sir, with that, although it was one of the operations of the campaign, the present Government had nothing whatever to do. That campaign, which ended with the Treaty of Gandamak, was supposed to have concluded the war in Afghanistan, and the honours and rewards in respect to it were decided on and given by the late Government, and that matter with regard to the Afghan War was completely disposed of before the present Government came into Office. We had to do with the military operations which followed the murder of Major Cavagnari, with the second advance to Cabul, the advance of General Stewart, and the march of General Roberts from Cabul to Candahar. I do not deny that General Roberts and his Army held their position with great skill and success; but, at the same time, I maintain that that was not an operation of a character for which, according to precedent, it has been usual to grant honours and rewards of an exceptional character. What we had to do with was 706 the great achievement of Sir Frederick Roberts, in marching to the relief of Candahar from Cabul. I have said that, at that time, he was not in chief command of the Army in Afghanistan. That position was occupied by Sir Donald Stewart; from the moment when he had marched from Candahar to Cabul, he, being the senior officer, assumed the chief command. That march of General Stewart's is one which, for some reason or other, is very seldom mentioned in this House, and to which hon. Members opposite apparently attach comparatively little importance, I say, however, that the march of Sir Donald Stewart from Candahar to Cabul was one of quite as great difficulty as that of Sir Frederick Roberts. ["No!"] The hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) says "No!" but I say it was one of far greater difficulty, for the fact is that, during the march, General Stewart had to fight almost every inch of the way; he was attacked almost daily; and, on one occasion, ho fought one of the principal battles of the war, for which a clasp was given. I am not depreciating the merits of Sir Frederick Roberts; but, as a matter of fact, he had not to fight at all between Cabul and Candahar; and it was only on his arrival at Candahar that he fought the successful battle which effected the relief of that place. Nor is the merit of that great military undertaking solely and entirely due to Sir Frederick Roberts. General Stewart took a great part of the responsibility, and he therefore deserved a great part of the credit attaching to it. General Stewart was in a position at Cabul by no means secure; and I remember that every day in this House, the critical position of General Stewart was referred to, and urged upon the Government, yet he, at that time, with his Army and his own reputation at stake, did not hesitate, for the rapid relief of Candahar, to divest himself of, and to place at the disposal of Sir Frederick Roberts, 10,000 of the very flower of his Army, in order that the movement might be rapidly effected. I think, therefore, both in respect of position, and in respect of relative responsibility and credit in that action, that no one acquainted with the facts can deny that it would have been absolutely impossible, from a military point of view, to have conferred any honour 707 upon Sir Frederick Roberts for that brilliant operation, without at the same time conferring a similar honour upon General Stewart. When the Government had to consider what honours should be conferred upon those gallant officers for their undoubtedly great services in the campaign, they naturally had to turn to the precedents with which Indian history supplied us. We found, not to go back to very ancient prededents, that General Sir William Nott received an annuity of £1,000 for life; that Sir George Pollock, who was in chief command of the Army which performed a very similar service, and which had avenged the great disaster at Cabul in the first Afghan War, also received an annuity of £1,000; Sir Archibald Wilson, the same; Sir James Outram, whose achievements are known to all, the same; and we did not think that, in the great merits of those two officers, there was anything so exceptional as to make it desirable to create a new precedent, and to give a larger sum from the Revenue of India than had been considered adequate in the case of the distinguished officers whom I have just referred to. No doubt, there have been cases in which higher honours and larger rewards have been conferred upon Indian officers; but they have been conferred for operations of a totally different character. Lord Hardinge and Lord Gough, for the military operations which ended in the conquest and annexation of the Punjab, received Peerages and larger grants for life, which were supplemented by grants to their successors; but these were for operations upon a far larger scale and of a very different character to those we are at present dealing with. Lord Clyde—Sir Colin Campbell—who might be said to have saved India, was supposed to have been recompensed by the grant from the Revenue of India of £2,000 a-year. How, then, can it be said that, in advising Her Majesty to bestow upon Sir Frederick Roberts the Grand Cross of the Bath, a Baronetcy, and an annuity of £1,000, and also in promoting him to the office of Commander-in-Chief at Madras, the Government were, in the slightest degree, actuated by any political animosity or desire to disparage the great services of one who, though differing from them in political views, had rendered the country such signal services? 708 Sir, I am quite certain that nothing could be more personally distasteful to these officers than that their merits and achievements should be brought forward in this House, not for the purpose of well-merited praise, but for the purpose of political reproach. In these matters we must be guided to a certain extent by precedent. In the disposition of military honours and rewards, we must have regard to what has been the ordinary practice of the country. I am quite willing to admit that the rewards given out of the Imperial Revenues, as in the cases of Lord Napier of Magdala, Lord Wolseley, and Lord Alcester, are on a larger scale than those usually conferred on officers in the Indian Army; but I am not prepared to say that there is not good reason for that distinction. In the Indian Military Service, officers are paid at a much higher rate, the opportunities for distinction are far more frequent, and the great military posts obtainable in India are more numerous than those which are open to officers in the English Service. There is, therefore, some reason why a different scale should be adopted in the two cases; and I am not aware that any reason existed why Her Majesty's Government, in the case of Sir Donald Stewart or in that of Sir Frederick Roberts, should have departed from the practice which has generally been maintained. Sir, I am disposed to differ from some hon. Gentlemen who have spoken from this side of the House, when they inform us that pensions of the kind under consideration are extremely unpopular with the country at large. I am not at all fearful that the country will look with disfavour upon these grants; I entirely deny that these rewards are given for incurring so much danger and responsibility. We have plenty of courage and gallantry in our Army and Navy; what we desire to see in those Services is courage combined with the highest intellectual ability. We want not only brave men, but able men. We do not, as has been said to-night, pay our Army and Navy at a very high rate; and, therefore, surely it is desirable that rewards of this character, open to the ambition of able men, should be accessible to the officers in our Naval and Military Services. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst), who moved the Amendment, has said there are men in this House who, in the arts 709 of peace, have deserved more of their country than any soldier or sailor has done. But I would point out that the arts of peace are much more likely to bring their reward at the cost of far less personal sacrifice than that which is required by our Military and Naval Services. But it is not the hope of pecuniary reward that tempts men into the Army and Navy. Strange as it may seem to some hon. Members, a seat in the House of Lords is an object of desire to many officers, and the possibility of obtaining it does, no doubt, make them anxious to master their Profession, and to render service to their country in case of need. Sir, I think it would be bad policy if the House were to refuse these honours; and I trust that, having made a protest against the present grant, hon. Members will be content to allow the second reading of the Bill to be taken by a unanimous vote.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
Sir, I do not think it fair, either upon this side of the House or upon that, to attack, through individuals, that which is really the policy of the Government. Whether that policy is right or wrong, I consider it ought to be attacked, if necessary, in other ways, and I shall therefore vote with the Government. Having said that, I think I may refer to a question which has not been touched upon in the course of these debates—namely, the question relating to the whole system of granting Naval and Military pensions. It seems to me that precedents, when they come to be looked into, notwithstanding what has been said this evening with regard to them, are found very often to fail; and that there is very little else, sometimes, than rule-of-thumb, to regulate the honours and rewards conferred upon Military and Naval officers. There seems to be an uncertainty and inequality about the matter, which is, at the same time, open to another grave defect, which I may call the political aspect of the question. As far as I can understand, the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) grounds his defence of what has been done in the case of Sir Frederick Roberts, upon the fact that he was not in chief command of the Army at the time of his march to Candahar. The noble Lord, I think, said also, that Sir Donald Stewart was quite as deserving, or more so, of reward than Sir Frederick Roberts, which 710 seems to me equivalent to saying that the reward in one case was not sufficiently large. It seems to me that, judging by former precedents, it was customary, before the commencement of the present century, to grant very much larger pensions than it is at present for Naval and Military services. I find, on reference, that Lords Duncan, Camper-down, St. Vincent, Amhurst, and others, were granted pensions of as much as £3,000 a-year, of which £2,000 was charged on the English Consolidated Fund and £1,000 on the Irish Consolidated Fund. These pensions were granted before the commencement of the present century; but, since then, it has been the custom—I think the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said the usual custom—to grant the sum of £2,000 a-year in perpetuity, as in the case of Lord Hill and others. But it was then also the custom to make grants of pensions of three lives, as in the cases of Lords Combermere, Seaton, Keane, Gough, and Raglan, there being only one exception as to amount—namely, that made in the case of Lord Hardinge, which has been referred to; but Lord Hardinge's case was not quite similar to this, because his was a case of special services, and he had a pension of £3,000 a-year granted him for three lives. Then we come to more recently granted pensions, one of £2,000 a-year to Lord Napier of Magdala, and one of £1,000 a-year to Sir Henry Havelock. But there are, as the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) did not mention, but as hon. Members may, on reference, ascertain, cases of distinguished and illustrious Commanders being promoted to the Peerage without receiving any pensions at all. Those cases form precedents which the Prime Minister did not mention; but I will mention three noble and distinguished Generals who were promoted to the Peerage, but who never received any grant of public money in the form of a pension. Those three illustrious and distinguished Commanders were Lord Strathnairn, Lord Sandhurst, and Lord Airey.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
They were promoted for their Military services— Lord Strathnairn, I recollect, for special services in India—and all, because they 711 were distinguished Generals; at all events, I cannot conceive for what other reason they were promoted. None of them received any grant of public money in the shape of a pension, and, therefore, I say, in the face of those three precedents, the Prime Minister's contention falls to the ground. Lord Strathnairn was promoted for special services. I recollect the circumstances perfectly well. He was raised to the Peerage after distinguishing himself in India, and no pension was granted to him. I have shown, therefore, that when you come to precedents in these matters, your precedents fall to the ground, and that there is really no precedent. The only precedent is the determination of the Prime Minister of the day, and if ho thinks it right to come to this House, and ask for a grant of public money for a distinguished Commander, it is perfectly within his right to do so; and I hold, though I do not advocate it in this instance, that this House has a perfect right to refuse a grant of public money for a distinguished Commander, although it may be supported in certain instances by precedents that have been named. It seems to mo that in the case of Lord Wolseley, either the grant is too little, as I have shown, because there are many distinguished Commanders who have received pensions for three lives of £3,000 a-year, and some pensions of £2,000 a-year in perpetuity; or else it is too much, when you come to compare it with what was given to Sir Frederick Roberts and to others, and when we bear in mind that there are noble Lords who received no pension—one noble Lord I have specially named—who received no pension at all, but who performed very distinguished services in India—namely, Lord Strathnairn.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
Whether he was created a Peer in 1858 or 1866 matters very little. He was raised to the Peerage for distinguished services in India. If he was not raised to the Peerage for special services, I do not know for what ho was elevated. But now I want to dwell upon another matter. 712 A great deal has been said with regard to a certain speech at the Mansion House two or three years ago. I happened to be present, and I distinctly recollect hearing a very able and eloquent speech by Sir Frederick Roberts. Everyone who was present knows perfectly well the views he advocated. Everyone knows that he was directly opposed to the short-service system, which a great many in this House, and out of it, still think is not perfect. I distinctly remember watching the face of the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Childers), who happened to be then Secretary of State for War; and the impression left on my mind was that that speech was not agreeable to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ THE CHANCELLOE OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
Perhaps the noble Lord will remember what I said directly afterwards. I entirely agreed with Sir Frederick Roberts except in one particular.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
Yes, I recollect that; but I also recollect, with regard to after-dinner speeches, that, however much you may agree or disagree with what has been said before, it is generally necessary to say something very pleasant of the distinguished person who has spoken before you. I cannot recollect precisely the speech which my right hon. Friend made; but I have no doubt it was a very able speech, and that he did justice to Sir Frederick Roberts' great merits. Nevertheless, I am quite certain that the right hon. Gentleman totally disagreed with the views of Sir Frederick Roberts.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
The noble Lord is entirely mistaken. I agreed with him entirely, except upon one point.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
I am only speaking of this one point—namely, the question of short service. I have no other means of judging, and, of course, I accept the right hon. Gentleman's statement, and I hope, if he is in such complete accord with Sir Frederick Roberts, he will carry out those views. I do not wish to be severe on the right hon. Gentleman; but I must say that there is a very strong feeling in the Army, and out of it, that Sir Frederick Roberts was very severely treated. I have heard it stated over and over again; and that that was the reason he received the re- 713 ward afterwards accorded to him. There is an impression to that effect, though I am willing to believe it is a false impression. I am perfectly willing to give so much credit to the noble Marquess, and to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but it is the misfortune of these political speeches, that they are misunderstood in the Army. Ten or 12 years ago, on the discussion of the Army Bill in 1871, there was the same state of things, and the contention then was, that by changing the system at that time, political considerations would have a much greater effect upon the officers than they had previously had. I wish to call attention to one more speech, more recently made at the Mansion House — namely, on November 9th, 1882. I am quite certain that speech gave a false impression at the time, though I entirely acquit the right hon. Gentleman of any desire to say or do anything but what was agreeable at the moment. If the speech, however, had the same effect on other minds as it had on mine, it must have surprised many; but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman was ironical. I do not think he was. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer compared Sir Garnet Wolseley with the great General Wolfe, and the victory at Tel-el-Kebir with the victory on the Heights of Abraham; and then he said—In one respect, Tel-el-Kebir differs from Quebec. At Quebec, Wolfe fell. Of him the historian says—'To all the fervour of spirit the liberality of sentiment, and the enlarged views of the hero, he united the presence of mind and military skill which constitute the great commander.' Wolfe fell, but our great commander, to whom the description of Wolfe well applies, has happily been preserved to us. Long may we hope to promote by his example and his exertions the efficiency and the honour of the British Army.I do not wish to say anything unpolite or uncivil to the right hon. Gentleman; but we have heard a great deal about bombast, and if that is not bombast, I do not know what is. To compare Sir Garnet Wolseley to the great General Wolfe fighting against French veteran troops under the Marquess de Montcalm, is to do little honour to Sir Garnet Wolseley. I say it is unkind to Sir Garnet Wolseley, because it gives a false impression. The Army read these things, and very likely the Army and the public value them at their proper 714 weight. I think it is very unfortunate, because the result is that we find that Sir Garnet Wolseley feels himself obliged—and I do not blame him—to say as pretty and as agreeable things to the right hon. Gentleman in other places; and the suspicion does get into the public mind and into the mind of the Army, that all these speeches at the Mansion House and elsewhere, are actuated by other than mere military motives. We all recollect what happened at the commencement of the Egyptian War. The matter was brought forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Ayrshire (Colonel Alexander), and he was called to task at the time for using rather strong language. I do not say that his language was stronger than his feelings; but, at all events, there is no doubt that he did make use of expressions which were found fault with at the time. The facts which were mentioned at the time, were these. There were four or five officers appointed to the Staff of the Army in Egypt. It would be invidious to name them, but two were in high command; and it was well known what their political views were. Now, I have no doubt the Government used their responsibility in a proper way; I do not for a moment say they did not; but it was unfortunate, and when these things are coupled with speeches made at the Mansion House and elsewhere, can anybody be surprised or wonder that the Army do draw deductions from the promotions, and say "So-and-so is the luckiest man that ever lived. He has been made a Peer and has been given £2,000 a-year?" I do not say Lord Wolseley has not deserved everything that he has got; but I say the manner in which the promotion has been made by the Government has not been fortunate. I am quite certain it is open to criticism, and to criticism which I, for one, am very sorry to see applied to any act of the Executive Government. I call again upon the Government to seriously consider the question of pensions. I should be very glad if a Committee of the House were appointed to inquire into the whole matter, and if it could be laid down, in the future, that under circumstances where an illustrious General was to receive a Baronetcy or a I Peerage, the elevation should be accom- 715 panied by a certain sum of money for certain duties. If that rule existed, many debates and much jealousy and ill-feeling would be avoided. I will not pretend to say what the result of that Committee would be; but of the advisability of the appointment of a Committee, lam quite persuaded. I sincerely hope the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, who I know is actuated by fair sentiments in the matter, will give it his serious consideration, because I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the way in which promotions have been given of late have caused very great discontent and very much jealousy, many officers naturally fancying that they have been overlooked. I feel it my duty to mention these matters, and I hope I have not said anything to wound the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer or of the Prime Minister. I believe that both those right hon. Gentlemen wished to act fairly in the matter. They have, however, said that, in coming down to the House and asking for pensions to the distinguished Commanders, Lords Alcester and Wolseley, they were acting according to precedent. I am afraid that people who are independent of all Parties and of all political considerations, will unquestionably come to the conclusion, after looking into the matter, that, after all, politics are much higher in the scale of Ministerial consideration than precedent.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, he did not propose to enter upon the controversial questions raised by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Eustace Cecil), but desired to make a few remarks upon the main issue which seemed to be rendered necessary by the observations which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister a short time ago. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to assume that all those who supported the Vote of Credit, and all those who joined in the Vote of Thanks to the Army and Navy, were bound to support the proposed pensions. The right hon. Gentleman also seemed to think, no doubt, owing to the silence of many hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House, that it was a little inconsistent in them to oppose the Vote, and that they did so because they had changed their minds about the policy of the Egyptian Expedition. He (Mr. 716 Bryce) had heard, with the greatest regret, the speeches of his hon. Friends the Members for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) and Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), and he thought it right to say that ho believed that those speeches entirely misrepresented the feeling of many sitting near him. The hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle did his best, by attacking the whole policy of the Government in Egypt, to spoil a good case. He (Mr. Bryce) and many of his hon. Friends did not regard this as a question in which the policy of the Egyptian Expedition was involved. They would think it most unjust if they visited any disapproval of the war they might feel—supposing that they did feel such disapproval—upon the distinguished Officers who were the subject of this debate. They felt those Officers had served their country well, and they desired to take every means in their power of showing their recognition of the services they rendered. But they must take the proposal as it came to them. It was a proposal to grant pensions for two lives, or, in other words, to impose a war charge upon those who were to come after us; and, therefore, they felt bound to offer it the most strenous opposition. He believed that no proposal which had been made to Parliament of late had excited more general disapprobation and dislike amongst the working classes of the country. If the proposition had been one to make a grant of money, or even to give a pension for one life, much less opposition would have been offered to it. The House must take it as they found it. The only argument that had been adduced in its favour was that it was according to precedent; he should prefer to call it a survival from the bad customs of a less enlightened time when the military spirit indulged itself at the expense of sound finance. The sooner we set up precedent the other way, the better it would be for the interest of the country and the more consonant to its feelings.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, that, in all such matters as the present, they should discard politics, though he could not help feeling that the insufficient remuneration of Sir Frederick Roberts was due to the fact that his views were at variance with those of the Government. The noble Lord (Lord Eustace Cecil) had cited the 717 instance of Lords Strathnairn, Airey, and Sandhurst, and had tried to draw a comparison between the Peerages given to those noble Lords and that given to Lord Wolseley. The Peerage was awarded to Lord Sandhurst, not for any particular battle he fought, but for a long life of devotion and service to his country, closing with the appointment of Commander-in-Chief in India. It had been asserted that that noble Lord would never had received a Peerage if it had not been that the Government of the day wished him to carry the Non-Purchase Bill through the House of Lords. He (Mr. Onslow) did not know whether that was true or not; but he was sure there was no Liberal Lord who deserved a Peerage more than Lord Sandhurst. Lord Strathnairn did not receive his Peerage for any particular battle he fought, but for general services to the country, especially during the Indian Mutiny; and the same was the case with Lord Airey. Reference had been made to his lamented Friend, Lord Lawrence. He believed there was no one who deserved more the good will of his country and a pension for himself, his son, and his son's son, than Lord Lawrence. He should be sorry to think that any Ministry—Conservative or Liberal— would, for one moment, when a question arose of awarding to Generals and Admirals the honours and distinctions they might have gained, take into consideration the politics of the individual. The noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) had said that there ought to be some distinction between the rewards given to Indian officers and those given to English officers. The noble Marquess contended that it was courage coupled with ability that ought to be rewarded. He (Mr. Onslow) quite agreed with the noble Marquess; and, in doing so, maintained that the courage and ability which Sir Frederick Roberts displayed had not been sufficiently remunerated compared with the sum of money it was now proposed to vote to Lord Wolseley. He should, however, be sorry to vote against this particular grant. He should be sorry to show by his vote that he did not believe Lord Wolseley had deserved well of his country; and if he voted against the Bill, that no, doubt, would be the interpretation placed upon his action. The noble 718 Marquess had said, also, that Sir Frederick Roberts was not in command of the Army in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, however, Sir Frederick Roberts, when he marched from Cabul to Candahar, was practically in command. General Primrose, who was superior in service, was in Afghanistan; but General Roberts, on arriving at Candahar, superseded him, and at the time of his famous march was virtually in chief command. In voting with the Government on this occasion, he and others wished it to be understood that they considered Lord Wolseley had been rewarded rather too highly in comparison with some of those officers who had received rewards before him. They did not wish to disparage in any way the services Lord Wolseley had rendered to his country, and, therefore, many hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Conservative side of the House would vote with Her Majesty's Government.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided;—Ayes 178; Noes 55: Majority 123.—(Div. List, No. 67.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.