§ SUPPLYConsidered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The Statement which it is my duty to make in moving the 1st Vote will differ considerably from the Statements which have recently been made by my right hon. Friend my Predecessor in Office, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. It has been the duty of my right hon. Friend to explain to the House the nature and scope of very considerable changes which it has been his duty to introduce into the organization of the Army, and to state to the Committee the progress which has been made in solving a great many of the problems which have presented themselves relating to Army organization. The Committee will recollect that not long after the Statement of my right hon. Friend, in March last, the energies of the whole of the War Department were concentrated for several months upon the military operations which have taken place in Egypt, and their attention continued to be absorbed in those affairs until the 222 close of the year. It was only in December that I assumed the Office I now have the honour to hold; and at that time the officials of the War Office, both political and permanent, were anxious to obtain some repose—the political officials after the labours of the Autumn Session, and the permanent officials of the War Department after the heavy labours thrown on them in connection with the Egyptian Expedition. There has, therefore, been very little time for me to devote my attention to any considerable changes in Army organization; and probably there are many matters to which hon. Members may desire to call attention connected with the subject with which I have been able to make myself only imperfectly acquainted. My present duty, consequently, is to lay before the Committee, as clearly as I can, a view of the present condition of the Army, and to detail, I hope at no great length, but as well as I am able, the present state and condition of the Army, and to state what has been accomplished with regard to it since my right hon. Friend made his Statement last year. Turning to the Estimates which have been laid before the Committee, and especially with reference to the Vote I am about to move, a3 to the number of men, hon. Members will observe, with reference to this Vote, that there is an apparent increase in the number of men asked for of 4,727 over that voted last year. A portion of this increase is accounted for by the fact that the permanent staff of the Yeomanry Cavalry and of the Infantry Volunteers is now included in this Vote for the first time. When that permanent staff consisted of pensioners it was not available for general service, and therefore it was not borne upon this Vote; but as it is now available for general service, it has been thought right to show the whole numbers in Vote A. The greater part of the noncommissioned officers now form part of the ordinary Army Establishment, and are available for general service. Of the remainder of the increase 2,600 men are accounted for by there-arrangement of the lower Establishments of Infantry battalions, which it would be more convenient I should refer to by-and-bye. That leaves only 385 men to be accounted for. A considerable portion of the remainder is accounted for by are-arrangement of Establishments of no great im- 223 portance. The only increase of any considerable magnitude to which I need call the attention of the Committee is the proposed increase in the cadres of the Commissariat and Transport Corps. It was found in making the arrangements for the Expedition to Egypt that considerable difficulty existed in providing for even a small amount of transport for the despatch of the advanced portion of the Army Corps, and of providing regimental transport. My right hon. Friend who preceded me proposed to make some effort to remedy this state of affairs; and it is now proposed to retain some 500 animals, horses and mules—a portion of those purchased out of the Egyptian Vote of Credit—as a permanent addition to the Commissariat and Transport Departments in this country. It is intended to minimize, as much as possible, the cost of this addition to our Transport Service by employing these animals in duties at the large military stations, and also, to a certain extent, at the Naval Dockyards, thus effecting a saving in the cost of hired transport in those establishments. It is further proposed to add to the cadres of the Transport Corps officers and non-commissioned officers sufficient for six additional companies, employing a certain number of men from the regiments first for service to be trained and temporarily employed as drivers. This proposal is in accordance with the plan proposed by the Departmental Committee which was appointed by my right hon. Friend to consider this question, and this is the plan which it is now proposed to provide for in the Estimates for the present year. But I have to state to the Committee that considerable objection has been taken to this plan by the military authorities. In the first place, they strongly object to the absorption in temporary services of so large a number of men as 500 in the new Transport Service, and they also greatly prefer a system of regimental transport in time of peace. They undertake to perform the same work by means of a system of regimental transport as the Transport Corps has undertaken to perform, and before the matter can be finally settled I have a great desire to weigh thoroughly the advantages of the two schemes which have been put forward; and, therefore, I feel myself under the necessity of appointing another Committee, composed 224 of military as well as departmental officers, to consider the two schemes, and to see whether that which finds favour in the eyes of the military authorities can be adopted without entailing any greater expense than that put forward by the Departmental Committee. The proposal which will be embraced in the Estimates in regard to this matter is, therefore, not a final one. The Committee will observe that the financial result upon these Estimates shows an increase of £148,000 over those of last year. That amount is almost exactly the amount of the addition caused by providing for the training of the Irish Militia. There are, however, slight variations on both sides of the account, the net result of which, I regret to say, shows a larger increase of public expenditure than the figures I have just mentioned would indicate. The transport arrangements are estimated to cost £23,000 gross, or £9,000 net, the difference between the two sums being met by an estimated saving of £14,000 in hired transport. Of this, however, £8,000 would be a saving on the Navy Vote; so that the arrangements in respect of this matter show an increase of charge on the Army Votes of £17,000. But, on the other hand, the Navy Votes have assumed a very much larger charge. They will in future provide gun-carriages and fittings, electrical and torpedo stores, which have hitherto been provided from the Army Votes; the Army, on the other hand, only taking on themselves from the Admiralty the charge for boats for submarine mining. The not result of these transfers is that the Navy demand is reduced by £115,000, as compared with the corresponding demand last year. That was, however, £247,000 in excess of that for the previous year; and the transfer to which I have referred leaves the Navy charge about £500,000. That is the charge for ordnance and other stores, which is always stated in these Estimates. It is contended, I believe, by the War Department that the Navy charges should considerably exceed this amount; but that is not a matter which I will go into at present. There is, however, I am sorry to say, no reduction whatever on the total charge upon the Exchequer. The £115,000 to which I have just alluded will have to be met from the Navy Votes; and the amount that should have been saved on the Army Votes will, within £20,000, have 225 to be taken for various purposes that have to be provided for. The principal of these are—the supply of prismatic powder for large guns, the store of which, owing to recent experiments, has been kept extremely low; an increase for the small arms ammunition, for the purpose of allowing a larger amount of ammunition to be used in practice than hitherto, for providing torpedo vessels, and for accoutrements, the pattern of which has been recently decided upon. Another item in aid of these Estimates is the contribution of India towards the non-effective charges. This question has been for some time under the consideration of the Treasury, the India Office, and the War Office. In past years it has been the practice to apply in aid of Revenue the capitalized value of the pensions chargeable to India, as the Indian Government preferred to make payment in that form. It has now been decided that the Army Estimates shall have credit for the estimated charge for the pensions for the year. The sum taken last year was considerably short of the charge. The Estimates now have been corrected, and an additional sum of £130,000 is credited to the Army on this account. I may here mention, although it does not largely affect the Vote, that provision has been made to meet the cases of several classes of officers which have been recently brought under the consideration of the War Department, and as to which representations have been made—namely, on behalf of the officers of the Pay Department, the Veterinary Department, and the Quartermaster Sergeant's. In all these cases warrants have been prepared for the sanction of the Treasury, and provision has been made for them in these Estimates. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary will, if necessary, explain the details of what it is proposed to do; and I hope it will be found that the proposals to be made to the Treasury will meet the just claims of these classes of officers, and be in every way satisfactory. The remaining increases of expenditure to which it is necessary to refer are increases over which the War Department have practically no control; they are the unavoidable results of the development of the organization which has been sanctioned by Parliament, and of the warrants which have also been sanctioned in recent years. The growth of the Reserve costs £48,000; for additional Deferred 226 Pay £20,000 has to be provided; and the increases spread over the whole of the Army Departments on account of Leap Year amount to about £31,000.
I come now to the condition of the Army. The Committee will observe that the Inspector General of Recruiting has pointed out in his Report, which is before the House, that in the last year—1882—the waste of the Army has exceeded the increase. This has been due partly to exceptional causes. A very large number of men enlisted in 1870 under the Act of 1867, and these men completed their period of service last year. The normal causes of decrease—namely, deaths, desertions, discharge by purchase, invaliding—remain either stationary, or show a slight improvement. This subject, although I do not wish to go into any details upon it, is so important that there are one or two facts to which it may be desirable to call the attention of the Committee. Looking to the future of the Army, the most important point to be considered is the rate of waste among the young soldiers in the first years of their service. I am happy to say that that waste is not progressing, but that there is a remarkable improvement in this respect. In 1878 the waste of men enlisted in that and two previous years was 270 per 1,000; in 1881, the waste of men in that and two previous years was 208 per 1,000; in 1882, the last year for which we have received a Return, the waste was 146 per 1,000; showing an improvement of 124 per 1,000, or a reduction of nearly one-half of the waste that prevailed in 1878 among our youngest soldiers. It will thus be seen that the improvement which took place between 1878 and 1881 has been continued up to 1882, and that the waste last year was only 146 per 1,000. Coming to recruiting, the Report shows that the numbers have fallen off as compared with the last few years; but the diminution has been entirely confined to the Infantry. Last year we recruited for the Infantry 15,279 men, as compared with 17,681 in lb80, and 19,175 in 1881. The causes to which this falling off is to be attributed are in part the improvement in trade, in part the greater care now taken in enlisting, and the greater strictness of the medical examination. But there are other causes which made last year a somewhat peculiar one. There is no doubt that the mobilization of 10,000 men of the Re- 227 serve had a tendency to check recruiting; because the withdrawal of 10,000 from industrial occupations of course provided a considerable amount of employment for that class of men who would otherwise have been the class to come forward and enlist for the Army. Then, also, the suspension of transfers from the ranks to the Reserve during the last six months of the year put a stop to what is, perhaps, the best advertisement of the Army—that is to say, the return of the men entering the Reserve with their deferred pay, which would amount, in some cases, to £ 18, and which is naturally a considerable inducement to other men to enlist with the prospect of obtaining the same advantage. But there is no doubt that the main cause of the falling-off in recruiting in the past year was the decision taken early last year to raise the lowest standard of age for the recruits. My right hon. Friend raised the limit of age from 18 to 19 years, or to what is termed the physical equivalent of 19; so that no soldier should go out to India, or enter on foreign service, until he had reached 20, and has had one year's service. There is no doubt that this decision has caused a considerable loss in recruits. The age between 18 and 19 is an age at which many young men have not decided upon their permanent and future employment; and many young men are willing to enlist at that time, who, when they are rejected, seek some other form of employment, and, perhaps, will never come forward again for enlistment into the Army. On looking at these two circumstances—the abnormal drain which the Army is undergoing, and the difficulty which has been found in recruiting—the Inspector General has recommended that greater latitude should be given to recruiting officers and medical officers with regard to the age at which recruits may be taken. It is not proposed to revert altogether to a lower standard of age; but these officers, having acquired very considerable experience and being thoroughly to be relied on, may be allowed to have some greater latitude in this respect than that which they now possess, so that they shall not be compelled to reject recruits who appear in all respects likely to make valuable and useful soldiers, even if they do not at the moment of enlistment satisfy the conditions of having reached the age of IP, or its exact physi- 228 cal equivalent. If this measure should not succeed, it will become necessary to consider whether we should not go back to the age of 18; but that would be a retrograde step, and one which I should be most un willing to take unless the necessity for it is most clearly proved. I do not think we can be satisfied that the recruiting capacity of the country has been fully developed. Under the old system of bounty, no attempt was made to work recruiting systematically or scientifically. Bounty has now been discarded altogether, and the present system is a vast machine for obtaining the services of men throughout the country who may be available for the Army. The country is divided into districts under the officers commanding regimental districts. These districts are again sub-divided under non-commissioned officers. No attempt is made to entrap men under any false pretence into the Service; but, on the other hand, every effort is made to make known the advantages and the terms of service widely throughout the country, so that every man who is in a position to offer his services to the country shall know the terms on which he is able to do so, and what are the inducements held out to him. Under this system a great deal—in fact, I may say almost everything—depends on the thorough organization of the system; and although, no doubt, very great progress has been made, there is some reason to doubt whether the officers commanding regimental districts are even yet fully aware how much depends upon the thorough organization and efficiency of the recruiting arrangements of their district. The attention of general officers and of commanding officers of districts will be called anew to this point; and by the adoption of a system of confidential Reports by general officers on officers commanding regimental districts, it is hoped that greater efficiency and greater emulation among them will prevail.
My right hon. Friend last year explained the measures he had taken in order to remedy the defect which had shown itself in former wars of no great magnitude, such as the war in South. Africa. That defect was the difficulty of placing a small force in the field without sending out immature or untrained men, or without resorting to the objectionable system of transfer from battalions at home. With the object of remedying this 229 defect, my right hon. Friend added 3,000 men to the Establishment of the Infantry, and raised the 12 battalions first on the roster for foreign service from 720 to 950. These, with the Brigade of Guards and the six battalions in the Mediterranean garrisons, will form the Infantry of an Army Corps, which will be ready to be despatched, almost at a day's notice, in the event of war. It was estimated that each battalion would give a strength of 800 men, after rejecting all men under 20 and under one year's service. My right hon. Friend explained that this increase from 720 to 950 was necessarily effected by adding a very large number of recruits. He also said that in March there would be a larger number of young soldiers than was desirable. That, however, was a condition of things that would improve every month. In July, time was still required to harden these battalions into a condition to take the field without assistance from the Reserve. But when the Expedition had to be sent to Egypt, although the method had been in operation so short a time, it was only necessary to draft 600 Reserve men for the Home battalions and 900 men for those from Malta and Gibraltar, to bring up the strength of each battalion to 800 men ready to take the field.
The Committee may like to have some information with regard to the Reserve men called out in July. The Reserves then called out were the Reserves of a year and a-half—that is to say, men who had joined the Reserve in the year 1881, and during the first half of 1882. The Reserves of those years should have furnished 11,649. There presented themselves 11,032, or 94 per cent. Ninety-six per cent were satisfactorily accounted for, so that there were only 4 per cent unaccounted for. After deducting those unfit for service, there remained 10.582 who actually joined the Colours. One thousand five hundred joined the Home and Mediterranean battalions; 2,200 were sent out to form depots; and 2,200 were absorbed in the formation of second depots, which were prepared, but not sent out. There volunteered for the Army Hospital Corps and the Transport Corps 460, leaving available for the establishment of a third Division, if it were necessary to send it out, 3,340 men. There still remained available of Reserve men not called out, 17,000 of the First Class Army Reserve, and 27,000 230 of the Militia Reserve. The Committee may wish to know what measures were taken on the demobilization of the Reserve. The course has been adopted of discharging the men on furlough, with. 1s. a-day for pay and 6d. a-day for ration allowance, six weeks before demobilization, so that they, while looking out for fresh employment, may not be left destitute until they can obtain it, but may be able to return home with some money in their pockets. They were discharged, as I say, on a furlough for six weeks, receiving 1s. a-day and 6d. a-day for ration allowance. The amount the men receive on discharge is actually about £4 3s., made up in the following way:—Deferred pay, 2d. a-day; 123 days, £1; furlough pay, six weeks, 1s. 66d. a-day, £3 3s.; in addition to a gratuity of £2, which will be received by those men who actually served in Egypt. The separation allowances of the families of the men on service were also increased, and those allowances were supplemented in cases where it was desired by the men by stoppages from their pay; and I believe considerable satisfaction has been caused by the increased allowances in this respect. A scheme is also under consideration for placing at the disposal of the Commissioners of the Patriotic Fund certain moneys which will enable them to grant pensions to the widows and children of men who lose their lives in or by the Service. Before I leave the Reserves, I will state to the Committee the actual and prospective numbers of the Reserve. The growth of the Reserve has, of course, been affected by the war. On the 1st of January, 1882, it stood at 24,085; during the latter half of the year, of course, the flow of men into the Reserve was altogether checked, and it stood on the 31st of January, 1883, at 19,687. There were, however, at that time about 6,000 men on furlough who were not reckoned as serving in the Reserve, so that the actual number of men in the Reserve at present is probably 25,687. It is calculated to reach, in the course of this year, 31,000. Provision has been made in the present Estimates for a Supplemental Reserve—that is to say, for a Reserve composed of men who have completed their service in the Army Reserve, and who, if they choose, may volunteer for four years more, at 4d. a-day with their usual pay. That Reserve will only be called out after all the other Reserves have 231 been called out. It is, of course, uncertain how many men will avail themselves of this privilege; but provision has been made for enrolling 2,500 men. Thus it may be stated that under the present system, when it has arrived at a fair condition of working order, it will be, in the first place, possible to despatch an Army Corps, or any less body of men, with great rapidity, and without calling in any degree upon the Reserve; and, in the second place, for larger and more protracted operations there will be a Reserve which is already of respectable dimensions, which is increasing, and which is capable of being increased. This Reserve is not only available to a very large percentage of its normal strength, but it is also well drilled and efficient. Some progress has, therefore, been made in rendering our Army capable of satisfying what, undoubtedly, is the first requirement of an Army—namely, the providing for active service at a short notice a body of efficient, well-drilled men. But our Army has a great deal to do besides this. It has to provide trained drafts for an Army, roughly speaking, of 60,000 men in India, and for a force of 25,000 men in the Colonies. It also has to provide the garrisons at home, and, at present, a force of 27,000 men in Ireland; and it cannot be denied that for an Army whose organization is now directed to the formation of an efficient Army Reserve the strain is somewhat severe. At present, as I have already pointed out, it is exposed to an abnormal drain by losing a large number of men who enlisted under the old system, and, at the same time, by beginning to feel the full force of the annual loss arising from the short-service system. The drain which has always been caused by desertion, by premature invaliding, and discharge for misconduct, and other causes, has, although checked, not yet been arrested, as I am in hope it will be. When recruiting has been placed upon a fully organized system, and when the Army is able to compete on perfectly fair terms with other employers of labour, this drain may be expected greatly to diminish. The consequence of these circumstances which I have described is that there is undoubtedly, at the present moment, a difficulty in providing drafts for the Army in India; and that, the battalions at home containing a considerable number of young recruits, not only is the 232 labour imposed upon officers and noncommissioned officers engaged in training them very severe, but there is a difficulty in performing the ordinary garrison duty which they are called upon to perform. The remedy for this difficulty is, in the first place, one which I have already referred to—that is to say, a thorough organization of the recruiting system. Next, the experience gained of the effect of short service shows that some re-arrangement of the Infantry battalions is necessary, in order to avoid the excessive depletion of the ordinary Establishment, consequent upon sending drafts to India. Last year the lowest Establishment voted was 450 rank and file for each battalion; but after sending the drafts to India the actual numbers were much smaller than those voted by Parliament. The only mode of obviating this defect is to allow a corresponding excess for some months before the drafts are sent out; but it is not considered right to exceed the numbers voted by Parliament even temporarily; and, therefore, the proposal now made is to increase the Establishment of the battalions to 520 rank and file—that is to say, they will be permitted to recruit up to that number for a certain number of months before the drafts are sent out. As I have explained, when the drafts are sent out the numbers will fall by a corresponding amount below the Establishment, and the average Establishment will thus remain the same as that last year sanctioned by Parliament—namely, 450. No additional cost will be entailed by this proposal; while under this arrangement the regiments will be able to recruit at a time which is most convenient to them, being allowed to be above their Establishment previous to the drafts being sent to India, and, as must necessarily follow, below their Establishment during the remainder of the year.
It would be convenient that I should here refer to the arrangements for Cavalry organization and the providing of drafts for Cavalry regiments in India. Last year Papers were laid upon the Table of the House which contained a scheme that had been prepared by a Committee appointed by the War Office. Considerable objections were entertained to the proposals of that Committee; and, in addition to this, a number of other schemes of organization were put forward. It is thought better, therefore, to postpone for a time, at all events, 233 the adoption of any large scheme of reorganization of Cavalry, and to adopt a plan which will enable us to meet the present necessity of furnishing a sufficient number of drafts for the Cavalry regiments in India. The plan consists in this—all recruits will be enlisted at the depots for Cavalry regiments in India generally, and sent to such regiments as may require them, care being taken to appoint them, as far as possible, to regiments of their own selection. Under the present system the depot is encumbered with a number of men invalided from India. This will no longer be permitted; but all invalids and men found unfit for duty on arrival will be immediately discharged to pension, while those who are considered tit for further service will be drafted into the Reserve. Under this arrangement, the Cavalry depot will only have on its strength the permanent training staff and the recruits. An addition of 90 men to the depots will be made, to which limit they will be allowed to recruit before sending the drafts to India. Care will be taken that the average numbers of Cavalry at home voted by Parliament will not be exceeded. It is considered that this arrangement will enable the Cavalry depot to send out as many recruits as may be required by the regiments of Cavalry in India; and it has been pointed out that the difficulties which were experienced in sending out Cavalry to Egypt may be met by sending out Cavalry regiments of three instead of four squadrons, one squadron being left at home. The Cavalry brigades would then consist of four instead of three regiments each.
The Militia have now been entirely armed with Martini-Henry rifles, and the only other matter in connection with that branch to which I need refer is as to the system of drilling recruits adopted last year. Under that system the recruits of regiments whose head-quarters are at a regimental depot went through their preliminary drill at once, and instead of receiving 10s. on enrolment, as formerly, received £1 after the preliminary drill, and £ I after the first training, the extra 10s. being given as compensation for the double break in their employment. Recruits for regiments, the head-quarters of which are detached from depots, were to be drilled as before. The advantages of the new system were considered to be that it 234 would encourage recruiting by enabling recruits to drill at a time of the year most convenient to themselves, and, at the same time, would obviate the loss caused by men who fraudulently enlisted taking 10s. on enrolment, and not appearing for the purpose of training. In some respects the system has been successful; but commanding officers have complained that they have lost recruits, and the advantages which resulted from the preliminary drill. It has, therefore, been decided to give I all recruits the option either of being drilled at once on enlistment, or of going through the preliminary drill immediately before the training. It is not intended to go back to the system of giving 10s. on enrolment; but a recruit will now receive one day's pay on enlistment, and £1 10s. after the preliminary drill and training, or £1 after the drill, and the second £l after the training, if separate. The Irish Militia will this year cost £146,000. With regard to the Volunteers, I think it is not necessary to say anything now, except that the Force remains in a state of high efficiency, and that a very considerable number—I believe 500—officers have passed their examination in tactics, and that a very small percentage of those who entered for the examinations have failed, while I believe the number who are preparing for examination has greatly increased. Any other remarks which it may be necessary to make in connection with this branch of the Forces I will reserve until the Vote for the Volunteer Service is reached.
The Egyptian Expedition has called attention to a number of points, and besides those to which I have already referred there have been complaints as to deficiencies alleged to exist in the medical arrangements. Before leaving Office my right hon. Friend enlarged the scope of the Committee which had already been appointed, under the Presidency of Sir Evelyn Wood, to inquire into the organization of the Army Hospital Corps, as tested in the South African Campaign. The Committee continued its labours under the Presidency of Lord Morley, its object being not to inquire into the conduct of individuals, but to investigate the defects and shortcomings of the present system. A full and searching inquiry has been made by the Committee, who have examined a large number of witnesses; 235 and having completed that branch of their labours they are now considering their Report, which will, before very long, be presented; and in the meantime, therefore, I do not think it is desirable to enter upon any discussion of the points which have been the subject of their deliberations. It may, however, be of some interest to the Committee to know what are the actual facts with regard to the mortality in the Egyptian Campaign. From July the 19th to October the 9th, nearly three months, the average daily strength of the Force in Egypt was 13,048; the admissions to hospital were 378 wounded, and 7,212 cases of illness and accident, making a total of 7,590. The deaths which occurred were 93, of which 82 were of men killed in action, and 11 of men who died in consequence of wounds—that is to say, about 3 per cent of those admitted to hospitals for wounds died. The deaths from illness were 71, or 1 per cent of the admissions to hospital under that head. Five men died in consequence of accidents; and out of a total of 4,110 invalids, 37 deaths took place on the passage to England and from Malta. I have not as yet been able to ascertain the number of deaths which have since occurred. The small percentage of those who died from wounds or illness will, I think, remove a great deal of the misapprehension which exists as to the supposed defects in the hospital arrangements.
Some action has also been taken on the Report of another Committee, appointed to inquire into the subject of Musketry Instruction. They have made a great number of recommendations, amongst others that there should be a very considerable increase of ammunition for both troops and Militia attending trainings. This recommendation has been so far adopted, that an increase of the present allowance will be made to the extent, generally speaking, of 50 per cent; and it may be possible to sanction a further increase, as recommended by the Committee, when certain economies which the Committee have suggested have been carried into effect. The Committee recommend that the musketry instruction of the troops should be carried out under the adjutant and company officers; but the question of further increase is, at the same time, dependent upon the existing ranges being improved and extended, 236 so as to afford area for the additional I musketry instruction recommended by the Committee. The Committee state in their Report that—They are aware that, in carrying out their recommendations, a considerable addition to the present range accommodation will be necessary, I especially for the Militia. For the second part of the annual course, the present range accommodation is neither sufficient, nor, from the nature of the ground on which the ranges are (generally speaking) laid out, altogether adapted for the purpose.The Report of the Committee will shortly be laid on the Table, and I shall have a better opportunity of explaining how far we have been able to adopt their proposals, and how far it is thought necessary to postpone their adoption. Another Committee was appointed by my right hon. Friend to inquire into the question of the colour of service uniforms. That Committee has reported; and, as I believe was stated by me the other day, there is no objection to their Report being laid on the Table of the House. I may inform the Committee that they have reported against the red colour, on the ground both of its visibility and unserviceability, and that they recommend a grey or Khakee colour, between which it is difficult to choose. The actual recommendation was in favour of a certain shade of grey; but there is, I believe very little to chose, on the point of visibility, between the two colours, and the only reason why preference was given to grey was the difficulty of applying Khakee dye, which is not a durable colour, to serge. That difficulty, however, I understand, has been overcome, and an experimental beginning will be made in carrying out the recommendation of the Committee. It is, however, a matter in which sentimental considerations are, to a certain extent, involved, and it is by no means certain that either officers or men would willingly change even the service uniform from the colour of red, to which they have been so long accustomed, and which has so many honourable associations belonging to it. The Khakee colour has been for a considerable time used by about one-third of the British Army when serving in India. I believe it is popular with the Army there, and that no feeling exists against it. However, I do not think it at all desirable to force this change upon the Army. The course which we propose to adopt 237 is to issue a certain amount of clothing of the new colour as an experiment. I have omitted to state that the Committee do not recommend any change to be made in the colour of the full-dress uniform. What they recommend is that an undress suit of Khakee colour shall be issued as the service uniform of the Army. We therefore propose to issue to the troops at certain stations abroad an undress uniform of the new colour, and, at the same time, to issue a similar uniform to certain battalions at home, if the commanding officers are willing to try the experiment. It will then be found whether there is any objection to the adoption of the uniform; and if no objection is found to exist, then I think there will be no obstacle in the way of its adoption in the Service.
It will probably not be thought desirable that I should attempt now to enter into details upon the question of ordnance, especially with regard to heavy guns. The subject is so important that it would, I think, be better to reserve discussion on that question until we come to the Vote itself, when I shall be prepared to speak in greater detail. But it may be desirable to state one or two facts in connection with this branch. During the last few years, as the Committee will be aware, the increasing length and size of the guns has caused a complete change of system. The great weight and enormous charges of the new guns now required have caused the War Department to consider the question of constructing guns wholly of steel, and the Ordnance Committee have recommended that the manufacture of wrought iron guns be discontinued, and that all guns in future be made of steel. That, I need hardly say, is a very serious recommendation, the cost, I believe, of constructing large guns substantially of steel being about double that of a gun of steel and wrought iron. The requirements of the Navy had, of course, to be considered in the first place. The great length of the new guns has made it necessary for the War Department to consider the question of substituting the breech-loading for the muzzle-loading system, The Committee on Ordnance began their experiments in 1879 with breech-loading 6-inch guns, and those experiments were so far satisfactory that in the next year, 1880ߝ1, and the following years a very considerable number of breech-loading guns of that type have been manufactured 238 and used in the Navy. In 1880–1, 14 such guns were provided; in 1881–2, 103; in 1882–3, 59; in 1883߯4, 63, making in all 239. The guns manufactured in the two latter years are entirely of steel. The Committee also recommended in 1879 that a more powerful type of guns should be introduced, and experiments were carried out with guns varying from 8-inch and 11½tons to 12-inch and 43-tons. During the years 1881–2 and 1892‱3,189 2-inch 18-ton guns have been ordered and are in process of manufacture, and will be ready for the Navy as soon as the ships for which they are intended are in a position to receive them. At the same time, 4 land service and 11 marine service steel guns of large construction have been taken in hand; they are of 12-inch calibre and 43-tons weight. These guns are now being made, even those of the larger size being constructed wholly of steel. These guns have penetration, at 1,000 yards, of 22.2-inches of iron, and answer the description given of them by my right hon. Friend the present Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, last year, when he said they would pierce anything afloat, except the small band of armour round the centre of a ship, as to which it was extremely doubtful whether it would ever be hit in action at all. The new guns, however, which will be put in hand in the next financial year, to the extent of six for land and three for sea service, will be of steel. Then a still larger construction of guns will be put in hand—namely, 13 5-inch 61-ton guns. These will be of steel, and are progressing pari passu with the ships for which they are intended, the Rodney and the Howe. [Sir JOHN HAY: How many guns?] Four are ordered.
The Committee may like to know, although I do not intend to go into any detail, the figures relating to the Force which was despatched from this country to Egypt. On the 20th of July, definite orders were given for the despatch of troops. The first troops embarked on the 30th of July, and the last on August 11. From the 30th of July to August 11, a period of 12 days, 13,486 men were despatched from this country. At the same time, an additional 10,912 men were sent to Egypt from the Mediterranean, making altogether 24,358 men. That was done within 12 days, or 22 days from the time the order was given. During the same time two months' 239 supplies for a Force estimated at 24,000 troops and 10,000 animals was provided and shipped. In addition, each transport carried on board 14 days' shore rations for men, and 15 days' forage for horses, so that, on landing at any point, they would for a time be independent of local supplies. At the same time, this Department, acting for the Admiralty, foraged the whole of the transports, shipping about 4,700 tons of forage, besides supplying 4,500 tons for the Indian Contingent. Looking to the climate and season of operations, an unusually large supply of medical comforts was shipped, and also disinfectants to meet all possible requirements. No difficulties were experienced in providing supplies. Everything the Force required was with it at Alexandria and Ismailia. On this Expedition regiments embarked for the first time with their transport complete, and with horse-boats on board for landing them. Another of our difficulties in former wars has been the provision of reliable drivers for auxiliary transport—that is, the transport from the base to the advance depot, or other point outside the fighting zone, where the organized military transport takes up the duty. Transport animals more or less efficient can always be procured in time; but drivers are difficult to get at all, and are generally unreliable. On this occasion a corps of 250 drivers was formed at Malta, and another of 500 drivers, under Native and English officers, was drawn from India; 658 mules, complete with drivers who had seen service in Natal, were drawn from that country, and many drivers were engaged with the mules purchased in Italy and in Turkey. The total number of animals purchased was 8,102; of these, 5,642 were mules procured chiefly in Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, and North America. We relied, to a great degree, for the auxiliary transport required on first landing, on mules and drivers to be procured from Turkey; but unfortunate complications arose about their exportation, which gave rise to unexpected delays. The difficulty was met by shipments from Malta and Cyprus. The total tonnage of supplies alone shipped from this country was 21,298 tons in 42 transports. The total tonnage of supplies, stores, and equipment, approximated 50,000tons,inabout 70 transports. Credit has already been given to the Admiralty, with which, of course, the War Office 240 has to work in making these arrangements; and I am happy to say that owing to the arrangements that were made, and the good feeling which existed between the two Departments, the War Office was efficiently and cordially supported by the Admiralty in everyway. It is unnecessary for me to take up the time of the Committee any longer. I have only to thank the Committee for the patience with which they have listened to the Statement I have had to lay before them. I am very far from desiring to exaggerate the results which were accomplished by the Army, or by the War Department in regard to the Egyptian Expedition; but I think it will be some satisfaction to the Committee that on this occasion, at all events, we have been able to present to Parliament a Statement not only of what we hope to be able to perform in the future, by means of the new organization, but to give some account of the actual results of the trial of that organization. I am very far from saying that the re-organization of our Army leaves nothing to be desired; but, at all events, it has been submitted to a practical, although I will not say a very severe, test. Some of the gloomy anticipations which were formed respecting the short-service men and the Reserve men have been proved to be unfounded. So far as the system has been tried it has worked well; and I think we have every reason to be satisfied with the result of the changes of organization which have been made, as tested, at all events, by the Egyptian Campaign. At all events, I am sure it will be a great satisfaction to all of us, whether we approve or disapprove of the recent changes, to acknowledge, as everyone must be willing to do, that in the courage and devotion to the Public Service which animate all ranks of the Army there has been no diminution among our young soldiers. I beg to move the Vote for the Men.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 137,632, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, excluding Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)
Sir, although it has not fallen to the noble Lord to 241 propose Estimates which have in themselves anything that is very new or very startling, I think everyone who has listened to the able speech of the noble Lord will feel that he has discharged his task with that ability which has characterized all his other statements, and with a knowledge of and intimacy with all the details, which, on these subjects—subjects, as they are, of such great practical importance—have evidently been such as to produce a speech of considerable interest. The difficulty which the noble Lord seemed from the very first to be aware of is that it has fallen to his lot to put to the test various changes which have taken place during the last few years in the organization of the Army, of which it was impossible, however carefully they might be considered, to foresee the effect, until the test of actual service was applied to them. I think, therefore, although the noble Lord spoke with due reserve upon certain questions, especially that of recruiting, he is, on the whole, to be congratulated on having shown that the principles, at least, upon which Army re-organization during the last few years has been proceeding have not in themselves been such as to lead to any doubt or distrust of those principles. With regard, however, to recruiting, I wish the noble Lord had been able to give a more satisfactory assurance. I fancy that in the speech of the noble Lord, and quite as much in the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, there seems to be a lurking feeling of doubt as to whether even the causes assigned exhaust all the difficulties which stand in the way of the formation of the Reserve; and I hope the noble Lord, if he does not find that the growth of the Reserve corresponds with his expectations, will not hold himself fettered, either by what has been done in the present or by his immediate Predecessor, from making proposals, if they should become necessary, which may lead to the formation of a truly efficient Reserve. I think, however, that it is matter for congratulation that some of the doubts which were expressed about the effect of short service, and especially in regard to men coming up from the Reserve when called upon to rejoin the Colours, have been undoubtedly disproved, so far as we can tell, on the only two occasions upon which they have been tested. I have not the figures by me, but I think that within an appreci- 242 able distance only 4 per cent of the men were unaccounted for when the Reserves were mobilized in 1878; and it is satisfactory, at least, to notice that the mobilization of the Force in that year did not have that effect which some apprehended—namely, that the men having once come up, there would be greater difficulty in mobilization in the future. So far as we can see, the figure is now stationary, and shows that the Reserve men are fully alive to their engagements. But now the question which the noble Lord touched upon in regard to the difficulty of recruiting is of such a formidable nature that I hope I may be allowed to press for a little further information upon that point. I do not quite gather whether the noble Lord thinks that the decrease in the recruiting is to be principally accounted for by the considerations he had referred to, and which are veiled with more detail in the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting; but it seems to me to bear very materially on the question that the noble Lord, as I understand him, proposes to increase the Establishment of the battalions which are on the lowest Establishment, by the addition, for part of the year, at all events, of 70 men per battalion. It is, perhaps, one of the most difficult questions of Army organization how to so adjust the Establishments within the numbers always voted by Parliament as to render the regiments which are first on the roster for foreign service as efficient as you can possibly make them, while, on the other hand, you do not unduly create the necessity of a large transfer from the battalions on the lowest Establishment, because, as I have always understood, not only amongst the men, but among the officers and non-commissioned officers, nothing tends more to promote indifference or even dislike to the Service than the constantly recurring necessity of parting with good men as soon as they have been made efficient, and getting new men whom in turn they have to bring forward. No doubt in the course of time the lesson will have been learnt, and the Army will understand the necessities of the case; but the homo battalions must be the nurseries, to some extent, of those abroad. It is only in that way that the limited numbers voted by Parliament can be dealt with for the best defence of this great Empire, especially when so large a number 243 of men—some 60,000 men—have to be kept abroad under the conditions of tropical service. I do not know whether I understood the noble Lord rightly that there was some doubt in his own mind as to whether, however desirable it may have been in itself, we have not, considering the circumstances of the country, gone rather too far in exacting the physical test as the equivalent of age which was laid down by my right hon. Friend his Predecessor in Office. I do not know whether the noble Lord intends merely to give discretionary power to regimental officers to take men who do not comply with these tests, or whether, under some general Circular, he will relax the general conditions of the Service. There is another point connected with the re-adjustment of the battalions at the lowest strength which I think it would be well to have explained to the Committee. As I understand, the noble Lord intends to take power to increase the battalions at the lowest strength from 450 to 520 men. Is that to be understood as being an increase of these battalions without taking extra men from the Establishments of the regiments at the highest strength? If so I think it would be well if we could be informed how the money voted is to be brought to correspond with so large an increase of numbers; because, as has always been well-known to those interested in these matters you are always, owing to the fluctuating necessities of the Indian Service, placed in one of two difficulties—either you must have a larger number than you intend to take, or if you vote only the full number of men you must have a larger sum than you know you will actually require, unless you discount the Vote and make allowance for a less number of men than you have asked Parliament to give you power for. I hope the difficulties which are found in keeping up the Army to its full Establishment are only of an abnormal character and will soon disappear. That deferred pay which the noble Lord has recognized as being one of the best recommendations of the Army, when introduced by my noble Friend Lord Cranbrook, had the effect of bringing the Forces, which were much below the standard strength, up to the Establishment, and at one time to a point considerably in excess of the Establishment. It is to be borne in mind, moreover, 244 that not only is there the positive objection to the small battalions being so much below their strength on general grounds, but that it tends to make the Army more unpopular, inasmuch as the turns of duty come round much more frequently, the work is more severe, and what would ordinarily be done very easily has to be done under pressure and sometimes with considerable difficulty. I do not know whether the noble Lord or any of his Colleagues will be able to tell us what has been the minimum number of "nights in bed" for the men on duty, because it is in that way that we shall best see whether the practical effect is such as to be, in all probability, to produce a bad state of things, physically and mentally, in the Army. I am glad to hear that the noble Lord intends to postpone, until there is further information, any idea of reorganizing the Cavalry. At the same time, I hope he will not lose sight of the fact that the efforts which were made during the last year were such as to cause a good deal of heart-burning and dissatisfaction, when men had to be taken in large numbers to other regiments to fill up the ranks of the Cavalry. The noble Lord said, as I understood, that it was proposed in future to send a regiment of Cavalry abroad in three squadrons instead of four. But are we to understand that these three are to be only each of the present strength, and the fourth is to be at home, or that the numbers are to be divided into three squadrons? Surely that would not advance us much on the path of diminishing the peace establishment. The fourth squadron might remain at home; but I think the noble Lord will require to considerably investigate that point before he can accept the fourth squadron as being able to send men and horses out prepared, as they should be, to the other three squadrons, which might be in the field. I agree that it is far better, as the noble Lord suggests, that any discussion on the various medical questions should be postponed until the Report of the Committee on the Medical Service has been presented to Parliament; and I have no doubt, on the other hand, that the noble Lord will agree to take the Medical Vote at such a time as may afford us, having regard to the great interest which is naturally taken in this question, due and sufficient time for discussion. In the same way I understand 245 that the Secretary of State wishes to postpone the discussion on guns until the Vote comes forward; but I hope that if it is understood that we are not to enter in detail into questions which we might have to consider—on ordnance both for field and sea and also for garrison—the Vote will be taken not in the month of August, and that it will also be taken at such an hour of the night as to enable a discussion to take place such as that important question fully justifies. There are questions which I should very much like to ask, but which I feel at this hour, in consideration of all the other questions to be dealt with in the course of the evening, cannot well be put; but I hope we may have an understanding that the subject, if postponed, will be postponed to a reasonable hour on some future day. There is another point on which I do not know whether I understand the noble Lord rightly. As to the Indian pensions, hitherto the capitalized value has been taken; but this year I understand the actual value of the pensions is paid by India. The noble Lord referred to a payment of £135,000, which was taken in addition and beyond the capitalized amount which would be repayable to the Revenue of this country in the present year. I conclude this was taken in accordance with precedent, and that it was taken in diminution of the Vote, and that it will be shown in the Appropriation Account in the ordinary way. The noble Lord has told us that it is intended to increase the transport staff. I am glad to hear that the noble Lord intends to refer the first proposals back to a Committee, who will examine the question whether it would be better to expand the system of regimental transport, or to deal with the increase of the transport staff rather by additions to the Transport Corps itself. There are, no doubt, sound and good arguments to be used for either proposal; but I am quite certain, from what I have heard on the subject, that the general feeling of the Army would be rather inclined to a nucleus, though it might be a small one, of a regimental transport than to an expansion of the Transport Corps itself. The noble Lord may be a little sanguine as to the saving he anticipates in the transport at home; but, at all events, the amount which was taken seemed to fully justify the experiment. A question was asked the other night about a Railway Corps, and I understood the noble 246 Lord to say, in reply, that he proposed to make a commencement of such a Corps, and that he would make some statement in respect to the matter in introducing the Estimates. No doubt, that amongst the many matters he had to deal with this one had escaped the notice of the noble Lord. Any information which the noble Lord can give upon a subject of such great interest will be received with much satisfaction by the Committee. As to the question of shooting in the Army, I am glad no difficulty stands in the way of General Lysons's Report. I believe there was some difficulty found in giving that Report last year; but, possibly, the circumstances are not now the same. With regard to a part of the Report, I believe it was an open secret that the Committee had exceeded their powers. Certainly, any information that can be given with respect to the shooting in the Army will be of very considerable value. I hope the noble Lord will be disposed to consider whether the shooting practice can be made to embrace firing at moving objects; because there is a great and growing feeling amongst those concerned in rifle instruction in the Army that the present system of target-shooting, though contributing to the accuracy of the hand and eye, does not enable a man to handle a rifle in accordance with the conditions under which he would be expected to use it upon active service. The question of ranges, I fear, will prove to be one of the most formidable difficulties which the Secretary of State for War will find before him, when he comes to deal with rifle practice upon an extended scale. There is no doubt that, while, on the one hand, the open spaces available for rifle practice are being gradually appropriated, and rendered unavailable for shooting purposes, on other hand, the power of the weapon now used is so very materially increased that many ranges, perfectly safe two years ago, have now to be disused. I cannot help thinking, therefore, that it would be a far-sighted policy on the part of these concerned in this matter to see whether they cannot, instead of frittering money away—I use the word in no offensive sense—upon a large number of comparatively small and ineffectual ranges, concentrate the rifle practice at certain stations where they can get a large extent of ground; and where, also, they can get a greater 247 variety of conditions under which rifle practice can be carried on. As to the working dress of the Army, the noble Lord spoke with what is only due caution. It has long been recognized that the scarlet colour of the ordinary dress, both in visibility and in durability, is not equal to many other colours which may be proposed; still, it is one to which the Service is deeply attached by old connection, and by sentiment; and, though it may seem a small matter, sentiment is of some importance in a voluntary Service. If it were found that because they wore a grey dress, or from some other cause, the men of the Army were liable to be laughed at and ridiculed, I fear it would have a very detrimental effect upon recruiting. While, on the one hand, that is the case, while it is well to recognize the fact, it is, of course, on the other hand, undoubtedly true that many of the proudest achievements of the Army are those which have been won by troops who have been dressed in the Khakee. If a distinction could be plainly kept up between the working and the ordinary dress, a great deal of the feeling of sentiment would be overcome. I hope the noble Lord will introduce the change with great care; that when it is introduced every effort will be made by those in authority to induce the change to be cordially taken up by all ranks, from the highest to the lowest; that the grounds of such a change may be well defined; and that no feeling of just sentiment which may be entertained for the time in regard to the red coat may be set at nought, or in the least degree slighted. Of course, changes just as great have been made, owing to the necessity of the case, in other Armies as well as our own. The Austrian Army was not less proud of their white coat in past days than we have been of the red; but I believe that stern necessity drove the Austrians to a change. Though a change in dress may be a difficult one to carry out, still it is one to be dealt with on the lines of common sense. I have only one more question to ask, and that has reference to an observation made by the noble Lord. I suppose the amount received for the capitation was taken in diminution of the Estimates; that was shown upon the face of the Papers. I presume, therefore, that the increases, which have now reached the figure of £148,000, would have been 248 still larger if it had not been for the capitation allowances which had been taken from the Egyptian Government, and which will come in aid of the Vote. I imagine there are precedents—in fact, I think there are several for charging the whole of the capitation rate against Vote 1. I only notice this case because it is not well to let any of the points go by when figures are introduced year by year which make it difficult to compare the actual figures of one year with the same items in the previous Estimates. I hope the noble Lord will approach the great questions which he has to consider in the same spirit in which he has spoken of them to-night; for it seems to the Committee that while, on the one hand, the noble Lord recognizes that there is much in organization which remains to be completed and perfected, on the other hand his experience satisfies him that in the main the principles on which organization has been extended are working fairly, and, on the whole, efficiently. It is not fair to make, as some would do, a comparison between the circumstances under which the Estimates of foreign countries are put before their Parliaments, and the circumstances under which the Estimates are put before the English Parliament. We have difficulties peculiar to the organization of our Service; and at any moment emergencies may arise which would compel us, in the interest of common sense, to disregard the most elaborate scheme, and to act as we best could under the circumstances of the moment. It is all very well to draw up arrangements on paper by which battalions succeed one another, by which they generally increase in strength, by which they are brought forward until they form the first corps of the Service; but it is never wise in our Service to disregard the possibility of battalions of weaker strength being required. I hope that if there is any room for a re-adjustment of the numbers an endeavour will be made to avoid, as far as possible, the fluctuations between very high numbers and very low numbers which now exists. No doubt a great deal of the present state of things is due to the Indian Service; and I trust the noble Lord, who can bring to bear special knowledge of the subject, will not lose any opportunity of pressing on the Indian Government to be very careful in the adjustment or readjustment of the numbers of the force 249 they require to be sent out to India so as to obviate, as far as possible, the expansions of one moment and the contractions of another moment which the necessities of the Indian Service have sometimes required, but which have been very inconvenient to the Service at home. The question is one, I know, of difficulty; but still it is one which bears by no means remotely upon the Establishments of the Army and the difficulty of transport of men from one battalion to another, and as such I hope the noble Lord will very carefully consider it. If time permitted, I would like to ask other questions with regard to the Establishment of officers, and with regard to the Establishment of general officers. These questions may, however, be conveniently postponed until the Effective Vote is brought up. There is only one thing I will say in conclusion, and that is with reference to promotion in the Brigade of Guards. I have not had the opportunity of going as carefully into the figures as I would like to do; but it has been urged that at the present moment, when the Establishments generally have been placed upon a certain scale, the Brigade of Guards has been left on a different footing. It is represented that the Establishment of officers in the Guards is such as to press unduly hard upon the younger officers in the matter of promotion, and to render it extremely likely that a larger number of officers in the Guards than in other regiments will have to be retired under the Warrant of 1881. If so, the subject is one which is worthy of the attention of the noble Lord, and I am sure all my hon. Friends acquainted with the circumstances will be ready to give the noble Lord such information as might lie at their command. I will not press for an answer now, but I trust the noble Marquess will give consideration to what is shown to press very hardly upon a very hardworking class of officers who are always willing and able to take their share of the hardships of active service when the opportunity offers, and who of late have, fortunately for themselves, had some opportunities of putting what they have always endeavoured to teach into practice. I do not wish to trespass further upon the time of the Committee. I only repeat that we have heard from the noble Lord a most interesting statement; and I hope that, being, as it is, of 250 a practical nature, it will be dealt with by the Committee in a practical spirit, with a view to the general welfare and progress of the Army.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he thought it would be just as well that the people of England should know that while they were here to vote for the Army this large sum of money, there were present in the House of Commons, at an important part of the speech of the noble Marquess, only 22 Members, and during the time the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the late Secretary of State for War (Colonel Stanley) was delivering his sensible remarks there were only 13 Members in their places. It would be just as well that they should at once, without debate, take the Vote of £17,000,000 for the Army in one lump sum—it would shorten their proceedings and save time, and enable the Government to try and carry through useful measures. At all events, whenever he went to his constituents he should not fail to recommend to them that, judging by the bad attendance, the only instruction they should give to their Member was that they should vote whatever the Minister of a Department required for the service of the year. He was struck by a remark made by the noble Marquess to the effect that this year's Estimates were only £148,000 in excess of some previous Estimate; and he (General Sir George Balfour) was very glad indeed to hear that sum mentioned, because he felt wholly unable to make out that amount by comparing the figures of the present Estimates with the Estimates of former years. This inability to make a comparison was owing to changes which had been made in the compilation of the Accounts; and also, he must say, to a want of clearness in drawing up the statement of those changes. The changes had been brought about by allowing the whole of the receipts which formerly went from the Army Chest to the Civil Chest, and thereby to swell the receipts of the Miscellaneous Civil Estimates, to be taken as an aid in diminution of the military expenditure. The change which had been made was one he had been very much in favour of when he was in the War Office 12 years ago, when he saw much that was objectionable in the then arbitrary mode followed by the Treasury in insisting on accrediting moneys realized by the sale of Army- 251 purchased stores to the Civil Estimates. He had failed to see why the receipts of the Civil Estimates should be swelled at the expense of the military, seeing that the stores so sold had been paid for by Army funds. But he must say that this change, as a system, was now open to the gravest abuse. He sincerely deprecated the mode in which the receipts were at present accounted for, and he was perfectly certain that some day some scandal or other would arise of an objectionable nature. Well, the noble Marquess had said that the present Estimates were in excess of some former Estimates to the extent of £148,000. He (General Sir George Balfour), however, would call attention to the fact that no less than £ 144,000—a new and an unexpected item—was accredited to the Army in diminution of charge in this year's Estimate, as a contribution from the Egyptian Government, and that that sum, therefore, ought to be added to the £148,000 in I order to show the excess over the previous year's Estimate. Further, the whole sum accredited to the Army on account of contributions from the Colonies was I £205,000, making, with the Egyptian contribution, £349,000. Now, comparing that sum accredited to the Army Estimates with the sum accredited in 1882–3, they would find that in that year the sum was only £4,416; therefore, they had no less than £345,000 accredited to the Army Estimates to diminish the apparent charge for 1883–4 more than was accredited in 1882–3. This comparison showed that the present Estimates were wholly erroneous and calculated to deceive. They were wanting in that clearness and fulness which was necessary to enable Members of Parliament to see at one glance the state of the finances. He might also mention that no less than £130,000 extra had this year been paid by India, and was credited this year to the Army Estimates, in diminution of the charge beyond the sum credited in the year 1882–3. In that year the charge paid by India amounted to £1,100,000; but this year it amounted to £1,230,000. But these sums, which were taken in diminution of this year's Estimates, were not all the sums which were so taken. He would mention those credits in the Votes which were liable to the greatest possible abuse—namely,Votes 10, 11, and 12, and were what were called the Store Votes. £414,000 was put down as accredited 252 to Vote 11, against 183,881 in 1881–2. There was nearly £300,000 also accredited to the Army Estimates this year in diminution of charges which were not so accredited two years ago. Then, again, in Vote 12, the enormous sum of £367,846 was accredited, against only £232,000 in the previous year.
I must observe that the lion, and gallant Member is now discussing Votes which are not before the Committee. The Votes to which he is referring will come on later.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he thought he was in Order in referring to these items under the Vote of £17,000,000.
The hon. and gallant Member is incorrect—the Vote is for the number of men; but he is discussing Vote No. 12.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he mentioned these items because the noble Marquess had stated that the Estimates were £148,000 in excess of the previous Estimates. It would be impossible for them to discuss the Estimates if they were not allowed, where they could do so, to show that erroneous statements had been made.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he rose to a point of Order. He wished to point out that heretofore it had always been ruled that on the first Vote any subject in the Votes might be raised, whether it was pertinent to the number of men or not. The subjects the hon. and gallant Member was referring to had been traversed by the noble Marquess; therefore, he maintained, they could be discussed by the Committee. It was open to them, on this Vote, to speak of guns, dynamite, rum, or anything which came up in the Estimates.
That is no doubt the case, so far as my experience goes. The general policy of the Army Estimates may be discussed in the Vote for men; but the hon. and gallant Member is discussing a specific Vote. He refers particularly to Vote 12, which is not before us; therefore, in my opinion, he is not iii Order in discussing items in that Vote until the Vote itself is before the Committee.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, the reason he had referred to a particular Vote was not because he desired to discuss it, but to challenge investigation. His contention was that the Votes were put before the Committee 253 in a manner in which it was impossible for a Member of Parliament to compare the expenditure of one year with that of previous years. He was able to take a particular item, and show the erroneous character of the statement that the Estimates were nearly £148,000 in excess of previous years. However, he had now done with these figures, and he would not further discuss the Chairman's ruling. The noble Marquess had said that £115,000 had been taken from the Army Estimates, on account of the Navy having undertaken to provide their own guns; but he (General Sir George Balfour) would point out that as the torpedoes had also been taken away by the Navy, the charge for them should be taken from the Army Estimates and put upon the Navy Estimates. The noble Marquess had given them some interesting information connected with recruiting, which was one of the most important things to which they could devote attention. The War Office had been exerting itself very much to keep the Army up to its proper numerical strength; but, by the last year's Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, he was sorry to see that they had fallen short of 3,000 or 4,000 men. The remarks of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the late Secretary of State for War on this subject were well worthy of attention. He (General Sir George Balfour) had long wished to see a more national system adopted in connection with recruiting in the Army. The present condition of the Army, owing to the abolition of flogging and its improved system of management and short service, was such that it gave a favourable opportunity for forcing the question of a national system of recruiting upon the attention of the country. We had in Great Britain no fewer than 556,000 farmers holding land; and he could not but think that, in the interests of the people and of the country, something should be done to enable them to keep up the recruiting system. They only wanted every 20 of these farmers to provide one recruit, yielding nearly 30,000; and there could be no doubt if they could get that number of recruits from the agricultural population, the Army would be well supplied with good men. He might also mention what he had often heard stated—namely, that the best system of recruiting ever suggested was that of Mr. Cobbett, to be found in either the 11th or 12th Vol. of The. 254 Register. He had often thought it would be a good thing to reprint, and then to discuss, William Cobbett's proposal, without mentioning the name of the writer, in order by that means to prevent any ill-feeling which might arise in the minds of the Tories. He would, therefore, recommend the War Department to print the proposal and circulate it generally throughout the country. If they did that, he was sure they would find it receive pretty general approval. The noble Marquess gave them some interesting information as to the Establishment of the Army; but he (General Sir George Balfour) was sorry he did not give them more information as to the way the Establishment was maintained in Effectives. They had heard alarming rumours from India that the Army there was 5,000 men below its fixed strength, and he did not know whether that was true. The Returns in the Library showed that the number of men was not below the Establishment; but his view was that those Returns were unsatisfactory in regard to the period they covered, because I the monthly Returns, from which the I strength was taken, were several months old. When the Returns that he had I moved for, covering certain months in the year, made up from all Returns of I the same dates, and giving the whole of the corps in India, were furnished, he I had no doubt that the House would be I able to form a better idea of the state of the Army in India; and he would I urge the War Office to hurry on the preparation of that Return. The large diminution in the number of men in England, owing to the number deficient from bad recruiting, and the probability of a diminution in India, if it were true, was a matter of the gravest importance. He would here mention what he had often and often referred to before, that one of the greatest evils we suffered I under when the Indian Mutiny broke out was our having in India far fewer men than the Establishment required to be kept up. The great disaster which then occurred might have been averted if the large number of men which had been struck off the Home Army Vote on the 1st of January, 1857, had been sent out to India, instead of leaving the Indian Government to face the Mutiny with a diminished number of men. He had always been jealous of any reduction of the War Office allowing any falling-off in the fixed or established num- 255 ber of men for service in India; and he was glad to see that, since the Times newspaper, at his own instigation, took up the subject 10 years ago, the Indian Establishment had been kept fairly complete. According to the Returns which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury had just shown him, it appeared that the whole strength of the fixed Establishment in the Colonies was 26,024 men; but the actual number of Effectives on service was only 22,178, or 4,000 below the Establishment. That was a very wrong thing, and the Committee ought to have some explanation from the Government as to how that falling-off had been allowed to take place. The attention of the War Office should be especially turned to the matter, although he was aware that, in the present divided state of the Department, it would be difficult for the Secretary of State to realize the fact that the deficiency existed. "With regard to another matter—that which he had often desired to see, and which he had often advocated, and which, by the way, now that the Estimates were being brought to a state of perfection, it would be easy to do—was a proper division of the charges made for the Army, under the several branches of Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, and Engineers, so as to show the cost of them. At present the Estimates were now drawn up so as to bring together the whole of the charges for one particular expenditure. This had been, to a large extent, well done. Provisions, for instance, had all been brought together; the charges for ammunition and clothing also brought together: so that it was easy now to see what the expenditure was for the whole of the Service; and what was no w wanted was a statement of the separate cost of the several arms. But he could not enter more fully into these items, owing to the Chairman's ruling. On another point, he should like to have some information as to the number of courts martial which had been held in Egypt. The subject was one very interesting to those Members of Parliament who were military men, and who desired to know how flogging, which was recently abolished, had been compensated for. It would be very instructive to have a Return from the Judge Advocate General detailing the number of courts martial which had been, hold during the Egyptian Campaign, with the punishments, if any, inflicted in each case. There was one 256 omission in the noble Marquess's speech, and that was as to changes in the formation of the Infantry and Cavalry. He was sorry to hear that an addition was to be made to the Cavalry Depot at Canterbury. It was wholly unnecessary and uncalled for. But as it was mainly supported be contributions from India, it was, of course, easy to get the assent of the Treasury. He was in hopes of hearing that the squadron formation, which the late Lord Hampton ordered, but which the Liberal Government unwisely cancelled, would have been restored; and he (Sir George Balfour) could only advise that, with regard to the Cavalry, each regiment should consist of three effective squadrons, with a depot, and that each squadron should consist of 120 or 140 men, and the troop system should be abolished altogether. And, as respected the Infantry, either the number of 141 battalions should be diminished to 100, or that each battalion should consist of six companies. As to the changes effected in regard to naval gun-carriages, he felt that the Navy would benefit by having to look after their own guns as well as carriages; and when the question came up on Vote 12 he should not fail to make some remarks upon it.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he wished to point out that a discrepancy existed in the amount for warlike stores between the statement on page 4, which was £549,100, and that which occurred later on—namely, £528,176; and he hoped some explanation of it would be furnished to the Committee. He observed that the Navy were to be left to make their own gun carriages; and, on referring to the Navy Estimates, he found the amount for this put down at £120,480. In the Army Estimates it was put down at £115,000, so that in the transit from one Office to the other it increased by £5,000; but this was a matter which could not be explained until Thursday evening. He believed the proposed change, by which the Navy would in future make their own gun carriages, was very desirable; but he could not agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman in the suggestion that it would be also desirable that the shot and shell and guns should be made by two different Departments. If the Fleet were to come out of action to refit at Gibraltar or Malta, and could not draw for the same pattern of shot and shell for their 257 guns as the forts had, we should lose the great advantage we had always derived from depots of the kind; and, therefore, he hoped the Government would not go further in the direction of having separate patterns of guns, shot, and shell for military and naval service. He believed it would be better to revive a third Department—the Ordnance Department—by which the manufacture should be carried out under the supervision of the House. The Ordnance Department was abolished during the Crimean War, when the cost of manufacturing ordnance was comparatively slight; but now the supply was so costly that a Department to manufacture both for the Army and Navy would be advantageous to both Services and the House. There was a difference between deciding what was required for the Service and what expenditure was necessary; and the very item he had just pointed to showed how difficult it was for the House to avoid such an increase as that to which he had ventured to call attention. The noble Marquess desired that the details of the Vote for Guns should not be discussed at present; and it would, therefore, be un-courteous on his part to attempt to do so; but he reminded the noble Marquess that the Navy Estimates would be brought forward on Thursday, and unless they were then in possession of some details, however small they might be, with reference to the guns, the Committee would be unable to discuss the question as to what guns would be necessary for the ships about to be built and fitted out. He wished to bring before the notice of the Committee the enormous provision which the French Government were making this year for guns. According to the French Estimates, he found they had increased the manufacture of warlike stores and guns from 6,890,000 francs to above 19,000,000 francs, an increase of 12,000,000 francs. When they looked at the fact that, at the present moment, the French were creating an enormous iron-clad Fleet, for they had laid down 19 new vessels against the four we were completing, and had increased their Naval Estimates by nearly £2,700,000, it was time for them to see whether they were making sufficient provision in the matter of ships, and whether they were doing all that was necessary for the maintenance of the Navy in the matter 258 of artillery also. It was true that the provision made in the French Estimates was not sufficient to push on all these works very rapidly; but the Committee must remember that the French Budget of this year was very nearly double our own—£117,000,000 sterling—and that, at the same time, they were bringing out a loan of 800,000,000 francs—equal to £32,000,000—in addition to the Budget. He confessed that if he were a Frenchman he should like to destroy the military power of Germany and the naval power of England; but as an Englishman he wished to keep up that naval power, and when he saw such preparations being made within such a short distance of our shores, he felt it was necessary for the Government to consider well whether the provision now being made was sufficient for the national defence. He was aware that a question had been raised with regard to four 61-ton guns which were, of course, very expensive; and he was also aware that the French Government had decided not to make guns of over 38 tons; but the Italians were making guns of 100 tons weight. If these guns were worth anything, we ought to have more than four 61-ton guns; if they were not the right guns to have on account of their size, then we ought to have a greater number of smaller guns. The four 61-ton guns did not represent anything like the preparation being made by the Italian Government, who were having 16 100-ton guns constructed. He was glad to hear that the Government were stepping forward in the direction of breech-loading and steel-manufactured guns, and he had been in hope that-the noble Lord would have said something on the subject of projectiles, which were very costly, and not always most successful. It was quite true that the practice at Alexandria was not to be condemned, but the number of shells which did not burst was very considerable; and it was quite evident that for operations of that kind, either the description of shell provided, or the mode of charging them, was not that which gave the best results; but as there was no Representative of the Admiralty at that moment on the Treasury Bench, he would wait until Thursday next to enlarge upon that point. With reference to the question he had ventured to address to the noble 259 Marquess on the subject of the extraordinary discrepancy in three items in this Vote, and one in the Navy Estimates, he trusted the Committee would receive a satisfactory explanation. He would only detain the Committee for a moment to express the hope that hon. Members would look for themselves into the French Estimates which were before them, and they would find how enormous was the increase in the Expenditure of that country. The great object of Franco was to make herself the foremost country in Europe. He trusted we should not allow her to become so, as far as the sea was concerned.
§ COLONEL ALEXANDER
said, the close of a successful war was not altogether a favourable opportunity for criticizing the condition of the Army. Nothing succeeded like success, and it might certainly be said of it that it also covered a multitude of defects. Without disparaging the efforts of anyone who took part in the Egyptian Campaign, where all, from the Commander-in-Chief to the private soldier, nobly did their duty, lie thought they had enough to arrest their attention that evening in the alarming deficiency in the number of recruits as shown by the Report of the Inspector General. Not 18 months had elapsed since Sir John Adye said, at the Guildhall, that we had now got almost more recruits than we knew what to do with; and, although the events of last year might have been supposed to kindle the martial ardour of the population, as was the case in 1870 at the outbreak of the Franco-German War, when the immediate announcement of hostilities was expected; although the late war had been too short to admit of anyone becoming tired of it, and although honours and decorations had been bestowed on all who took part in it with no niggard or sparing hand, they were, nevertheless, confronted with this alarming deficiency in the number of recruits. The Inspector General said we had been getting men since the 1st of January at the rate of 330 per week; but in order to make up the deficiency of last year, as well as to meet the requirements of the present year, we ought to enlist, on an average, weekly all the year round, 440 recruits. Thus there was the very large deficiency shown of 110 recruits per week. To begin with, the present condition, so far as regarded 260 recruiting, of the Brigade of Guards, he found so recently as the 24th of February,—that was to say, little more than a fortnight ago—was as follows. The Grenadier Guards were 240, the Coldstream Guards. 224, and the Scots Guards no less than 335 men below their Establishment, making a total deficiency as regarded the Brigade of Guards to the extent of 849 men. And, as the number composing a battalion amounted to 744 rank and file, it followed that the number of men wanted to complete the Establishment of the Brigade of Guards was actually 110 men more than the strength, of a battalion. That appeared to him to be a very serious state of things; and he thought, so far as the Brigade of Guards was concerned, he could, to a certain extent, account for that deficiency of recruits. Before the year 1881, the Guards were allowed to manage their own recruiting, and he ventured to say that they managed it extremely well. Now, however, they were dependent for their recruits upon the regimental districts from which recruits were sent to the Guards in London. The examination by the medical officer for the Brigade of Guards was extremely strict, and the test was extremely severe, so much so that many recruits sent from the regimental districts were rejected, and the consequence was that the recruiting sergeants in the regimental districts relaxed their efforts, to a certain extent, to obtain recruits for the Brigade of Guards—he did not blame them for doing so—and devoted their energies, for the most part, to obtain recruits for the Line. Certain steps had been taken to remedy this serious deficiency in the Guards; the levy money had been raised from 3s. 6d. to 6s.,while certain special recruiters had been allotted to each regiment of the Brigade. But as this had not succeeded in arresting the alarming decrease in the number of recruits, he hoped the noble Marquess would consider whether it would not be advisable to revert to the former state of things, and allow the Guards once more to manage their own recruiting. With regard to the difficulty of obtaining recruits for the Infantry generally, although he had no doubt the reasons assigned by the Inspector General in his history tended to check the enlistment of recruits, he thought there was another cause which, to a certain extent, accounted for the 261 unwillingness of many men to enlist, and that was their great dislike to enlist for what was known as general service. When a man meant to enlist, he had, as a rule, a fancy for some particular regiment, either because he had friends in that regiment, or it might be because his father had served in it. Such men did not relish the idea of passing to another regiment unconnected with such pleasant associations. This was an element of uncertainty, which made recruiting at present, to a certain extent, unpopular. It was to be anticipated that the step, which he ventured to consider a wise one, taken by the late Secretary of State for War, in raising the general standard of age from 18 to the physical equivalent of 19 years, would, no doubt, for the time being, prejudice the Service as far as the enlistment of recruits was concerned, and he did not think that the right hon. Gentleman must expect otherwise. But that he took the step advisedly, and with a full sense of its importance, the improvement resulting from it conclusively proved. On the 13th of March last year the right hon. Gentleman said—I confess I should have liked to raise, as we almost might have done, the minimum age from 10 to 19½; and I hope we may he able, before long, to raise it to 20 years. That I look upon as one of the most important of all reforms."—(3 Hansard, 811.)At the present time the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War found it impossible to effect that reform, and he did not think they could blame him for refusing to attempt it; at least, they might thank him for not taking what he might call, and what the noble Marquess himself had ventured to call, a retrograde step, by admitting once more recruits at the age of 18. He had been afraid, almost, that the noble Marquess was going to do so, because it was foreshadowed in an article of The Times;and he generally found that what The Timesforeshadowed with regard to the Army turned out to be perfectly correct. The noble Lord had consoled them for the inefficiency of recruits taken at the age of 18 by saying that the inefficiency would very soon disappear; but as they did not allow a man to go on foreign service until he had completed his 20th year, it followed that one-third of the Colour service expired before the so-called inefficiency would disappear; 262 and, as they frequently allowed a man, after the completion of three years' service with the Colours, to convert the remainder of his Colour service into Reserve service, such a man passed away permanently from the Colours just as he obtained his majority, and, in fact, just when he ceased to be a boy, and had developed into a man. No doubt, by reducing the limit again to the age of 18 years, they would obtain a larger number of recruits; but they would, at the same time, increase the proportion of men invalided in the first year of their service; and, in the event of war, they might expect the recurrence of the lamentable events of the Zulu War, as recounted by the witnesses before Lord Airey's Committee. The question was now not so much between long and short service as it was between the enlistment of men and the enlistment of boys. Some day or other the country would find out that it did not answer to enlist boys; that it was, in fact, a mere question of terms; and that, if they wanted a good article, they must go into the market and give the market price for it; in other words, they must do as Sir Lintorn Simmons recommended this month in The Nineteenth Century, when he said—You must increase the attractions of the Service by increasing, at the same time, the deferred pay of the soldier.There was only one alternative, and that was, some form of compulsory service. They must pay for the Army either in purse or person. The alternative was, no doubt, an unpleasant one; but, sooner or later, he was afraid they would have to face it.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, there was a very notable omission from the speech of the noble Marquess—namely, any reference to the bloated numbers and enormous expense of the Army which was being thrust on the country. Up to that time the discussion had been confined to hon. and gallant Members who had dealt with the subject as Army experts. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen seemed to revel either in fighting, or the preparations for fighting, and the laying of increased burdens on the people; but he would rather approach the question from the taxpayers' standpoint, and in that sense he desired to say a few words on the subject before the Committee. In doing so, he could 263 wish he had a more sympathetic House to which to appeal; but, unfortunately, when he remembered the fact that there were nearly 200 officers or ex-officers in the House, he felt that any appeal he could make on the common-place ground of the heavy burdens put upon the shoulders of the people, or the extravagant nature of the Estimates, would not meet with a very hearty response. And yet they had of late heard a great deal on the subject of distress amongst the agricultural interest. He wished there were a number of tenant farmers in the House, so that, having to bear the burden of taxation, they could express their feelings with regard to the present state of the Army Estimates; but there were only half-a-dozen farmers as against 200 landlords. However, although the Motion he was about to make might meet with little or no sympathy in the House, he believed it would receive more out-of-doors. He proposed that the Vote should be reduced by 5,000 men, and it was his intention to take the opinion of the Committee upon that reduction. He wished; to call attention to the fact that, at the present time, when we were at peace with all the world, there was an enormous excess over the number of men voted by the late Conservative Government in the midst of their foreign complications. But he desired to give the noble Marquess credit for a reduction on last year's Estimates in respect of the Force at home. Still, the present Vote, in contrast with that of last year, including the Supplementary Vote of £10,000, showed an increase of 4,727 in the number of men upon the original Estimate; and this fact he considered worthy of the attention of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House. He believed it would not be questioned that the general taxation of the country was felt to be burdensome, and, at the same time, that its expenditure was felt to be extravagant. While this was a matter of dissatisfaction to the taxpayer, it must be remembered that agriculture for many years had been in a state of depression, and that there were many evidences of widespread distress and impoverishment amongst the agricultural interest. But this depression was not confined to agriculture, and it had been keenly felt for some years in manufactures and commerce. The working classes happily 264 had not suffered, in consequence, to anything like the degree they had on previous occasions; and they ought to be especially thankful that Free Trade was in operation, because what our own soil refused to yield was made up for us by foreign countries. There were over 1,000,000 paupers in this country at the present moment, and that was a matter of the deepest concern to every enlightened Englishman; but not only had we this 1,000,000 paupers continually on our hands, but it might be estimated that we had 1,000,000 families in Great Britain and Ireland who were always on the verge of pauperism, struggling day by day to save themselves from becoming dependent on the alms of the public. He was afraid that unless a stand was made by the economists in that House, and those who had made professions in favour of retrenchment and reform, there was little hope of any check or finality in regard to the increased military expenditure of this country. It was manifest that with our more complicated civilization the Civil Service charges could not be reduced, and could not be really kept at a standstill, but must almost inevitably increase. He would like to ask any man who had the welfare of the country at heart whether he would like to see a check put upon judicious expenditure on education? The only other source from which he anticipated any reduction to compensate for the increase which was going on was the spread of education, which might lead to a reduction of the present charges in prisons and pauperism. He submitted that the present was a very inconvenient time to maintain an excessively large standing Army, which seemed to cost per man more and more ever)' year. The British soldier was now costing over £120—a most staggering fact—according to the number of men on the Establishment. Let any working man consider what was the significance of this luxury. The cost of a single soldier would pay the rents, rates, taxes, and school pence of a dozen working men in this country; and he, for one, did not hesitate to say that it was the duty, at any rate, of the Liberal Party to struggle might and main against the increase of this military system in England, in order that our influence in other directions might be more beneficially exercised. He came next to another 265 point, which, of course, could not be addressed to Gentlemen on the other side, but must be of some significance to all on this side of the House, from the Prime Minister to the humblest Member of the Liberal Party. Nothing was plainer than that from Mid Lothian to the smallest borough in the country, every Liberal pledged himself, at the last General Election, to retrenchment and economy if a Liberal majority was returned and a Liberal Government came in. Do not let hon. Gentlemen on the other side, however, make a mistake. Hon. Members on the Liberal side had been discreetly and necessarily silent for two years, for they saw that the present Government had been occupied in paying off the debts of their Predecessors; and it had taken two Sessions and an increase in the taxation of the country to enable the income of the country to meet the expenditure which had been left to them as a legacy by the previous Administration. But matters were now somewhat changed. The Conservative Party could not be altogether blamed for the Egyptian War. He should be sorry to say that there was not the widest distinction between the responsibility and almost the criminality of some of the undertakings of the last Government and the Egyptian Campaign; but he did not hesitate to say that, in his mind, there had been serious misgivings as to the necessity and wisdom of that undertaking. He would not now enter into the question whether that campaign might have been avoided or not; but the most successful military campaign left behind it a crop of troubles, anxiety, and expenditure. That war had cost us in round numbers £4,000,000 sterling. A small portion of that sum was to be fastened on the taxation of India; but the bulk of it would have to be paid for in an honest, straightforward manner out of the Budget for 1882–3. At the same time, the taxpayers of this country must take to heart the fact that, even with a Liberal Government in power, there was no absolute security against these great enterprizes, and the accumulation of increased burdens upon their shoulders, and that the time seemed far distant when even men with the noblest intentions and most honest purpose would enter on the government of this country resolved and able to pursue a policy, of non-intervention, and of amelioration of 266 the condition of the people at home. Now, he wished to point to a third matter, which he submitted was worthy the consideration of every Member of that House. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir John Hay) sought to stimulate the determination on the part of the Government—he supposed to spend more money in guns and ships, and all the material of war—by displaying a large Blue Book, which was understood to reveal the secrets of the French naval and military proceedings. Surely, the old dogma, that to insure peace we must be prepared for war, seemed now to be thoroughly exploded; because, if it were true, Europe at this moment ought to be in a state of profound repose and security. There never was a time when the armaments of Europe were so bloated and so enormous; and who would deny that there never was a moment before when less confidence existed between nations? There was an increase in every direction; and the result must be, he thought, to every Christian humiliating to the last degree. He hoped the Government and those who supported them in power would discourage in every possible way any rivalry of the Continental system of armaments now going on. What were the facts? According to The Financial Reformer for this year, the standing Armies of Europe numbered 3,860,045 men, and the standing Armies with Reserves 12,454,867. What was the expenditure? The total expenditure, including, of course, Great Britain, was £160,000,000 sterling; but that was not by any means the full amount of the burdens which the taxpayers of Europe—the down-trodden people of Europe—were bearing under the system of militaryism in France, in Germany, in Prussia, in Italy, and Great Britain, as things were now going. If there was no answer to be given which would afford a ray of hope we had better give ourselves up to fatalism at once, and spend the resources of the nation, and its science and skill, in increasing our military armaments, and prepare for the great conflict which must ultimately ensue. There was no such feeling on the Continent as security, or a sense of peace. Russia was watched by Germany, Austria, Italy, and France—all alike watching each other with the greatest jealousy, and with constant danger. But what was there also arising on the 267 Continent? What did the Socialism and Nihilism which we saw in Russia, Germany, France, and Spain moan? In his judgment, it was the result of militaryism and extravagant expenditure. It was the bursting out of the feeling of these down-trodden people, and a resolve that if things could not be mended in one way no step was too extravagant for them to take. He ventured to say—and he spoke with confidence—that the great majority of the people of this country would welcome the moderate reduction he proposed. He had made his proposal moderate, because he hoped that next year it would be possible to take another step in the same direction. It might be said that he forgot the obligations under which this country lay in having so much territory and so many Colonies; but he would say to those who were stimulating the war spirit in this country, and who desired renewed interference in the Transvaal, that no greater misfortune could occur for the honour and reputation and dignity of this country, than that we should, again be inveigled into operations in South Africa. It surely could not be said that this country was in need of increased territory.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
asked the Chairman whether the hon. Gentleman was in Order in referring to the question of the Transvaal, seeing that there was already a Motion before the House on that subject?
I understood the hon. Member to be adducing reasons why he considered that the number of men to be voted should be reduced; and, in that case, his remarks are in Order.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he would not trespass on the discussion which was coming on shortly. He only wished to say generally that our emigrants did not select our Colonies, but rather went to America, which had immense territories unoccupied; and it would be a great mistake to seek to augment territories which would be a constant source of danger and expense. Unfortunately, everything in this country tended towards a military spirit and a military system. He would take the case of our Royal Family. The Members of the Royal Family were not supposed to have equipped themselves for the duties of life until they had entered the Army or the Navy, and it was the same with all 268 classes of society. Until the people of this country took the matter into their own hands, and changed the present system, which left it to the small majority that was interested in it, he was afraid we should be the victims of one delusion after another; and, in reality, there would not be much to choose between the policy which the Liberal Government were forced to accept when it came into Office, and the policy of those whom they followed.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 132,632, all ranks, be maintained or the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, excluding Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1884."—(Mr. Illingworth.)
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he had listened with regret, and even with pain, to the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth); and, so far as he could understand the hon. Member's speech, he proposed to reduce the Vote for Men by 5,000, on three grounds. The first ground was the great depression throughout the country. He quite sympathized with the hon. Member in regard to the depression, which he knew affected all classes in the country; and he felt, quite as much as the hon. Member could feel, that anything that Parliament could do to reduce the Expenditure of the country, and to benefit the suffering people, ought to be done. But the question was whether reducing the number of men in the Army would effect that. The hon. Member had not stated in what branches of the Service he would make the reduction; he thought, however, he should be able to show that the Army was not, in reality, as efficient as, perhaps, the hon. Member thought it. The second ground which the hon. Member took—and it was not an unimportant ground—was the enormous Expenditure of the present Government; and he contrasted it—and not very fairly—with the Expenditure of the preceding Government. If the hon. Member would make the contrast fairly, putting out of sight all Party considerations, he would find that the Expenditure of the late Government would contrast most favourably with the present, for he would find that the Expenditure of the present Government had been going on by leaps and bounds, 269 notwithstanding all their professions to the contrary. The third ground—and that a most remarkable ground—was that as before and up to the present moment there never were so many men under arms in Europe, this was the time when this Island—this nation, which had more possessions all over the world and more scattered possessions, than any other nation—should decrease its Army by 5,000 men. Upon none of these grounds could he agree with the hon. Member, except the second; and, looking, as he did, to the efficiency of the Army, he would state as clearly as he could what he believed to be the present condition of that Army. He agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend on his left (Colonel Alexander), who had said it did not do to too closely scrutinize the Army at a moment when it had accomplished such brilliant achievements; but, at the same time, he thought that it was by such Expeditions that we were able to find out what were the failings of the Army, and how they ought to be remedied. He, for one, certainly thanked the Government for the way in which, when they had made up their minds to go to war, and even before they had absolutely determined to go to war, they set to work to prepare an Army to send to Egypt which would do credit to this country; and he would venture to say that the Army did do its duty, from the highest to the lowest, thoroughly and efficiently, and thoroughly deserved the credit which was accorded to it by the Queen and by Parliament, and, in contradiction to what the hon. Member for Bradford had said, by the whole nation. It was all very well to deny it; but there was nothing in the conduct of the Government of which the country had more approved, and nothing that had made the Government for the moment so strong, as the victory at Tel-el-Kebir, and the rapidity with which the Army had been despatched and had conducted itself in Egypt.
said, he had not offered any opinion on the mere military exploits of the Army, for he had as much pride in the English Army as the hon. and gallant Baronet had.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he did not wish to cast any reflection on the hon. Member, who, he was sure, liked to see men do their duty wherever they were placed, and who, he knew, 270 would agree that the Army did do its duty to the heart's content of the country. But, looking at that Army as it was, and looking at the lucid speech of the noble Marquess and the statements he had made, there were three defects in the Army as it was organized and sent to Egypt, which the noble Lord admitted while minimizing them. In the first place, he admitted that the transport and commissariat were not efficient or sufficient, though he hoped before long to place those branches of the Service in a more efficient state. He had no wish to cast any reflection on the noble and gallant General (Lord Wolseley), who commanded that Expedition; but he thought the man who could point with his finger to Tel-el-Kebir, and say that was where the fight should take place before the 15th of September, ought to have been able, with all the appliances at his command, to have had his transport, his commissariat, and his medical staff ready to act with the advanced guard of the Army. It was known to the authorities where the base of the operations was to be, and where the attack would commence; and, surely, when it was so well known where the troops would be, the gallant General ought to have been very careful of those precious lives which we had sent out. A little more trouble, and, perhaps, a little extra expense, would have done all that was necessary; and he would commend that consideration to the noble Marquess, because he had recently been Secretary of State for India, and the commissariat and transport of the Indian Contingent were admirable in every shape and way. The Armies in Afghanistan were never short of provisions and transport—notably the advance from Cabul to Candahar under General Sir Frederick Roberts; and had it not been for our Indian troops in Egypt many of our men would indeed have fared badly. The Indian troops had everything with them; and if the noble Lord would apply the system in India to the Army at home, he would, indeed, do good service. He gave the noble Lord the greatest credit for being independent, and for working without going to the permanent officials, whose only object was to cut down expense. If the noble Lord allowed himself to be led by them, he would take the wrong course, and would starve the Army at 271 a critical moment. He would give, in a different way, an illustration of this. The present Postmaster General had done more to reform the Postal Service, and to show that he had the interests of the country at heart, than almost any of his Predecessors, by acting, after due inquiry, on his own opinion and of his own accord; and if the noble Lord would only do the same with regard to the Army, he would do well for the country, and earn great credit. But it had been said that the Army at Tel-el-Kebir was composed of nothing but young soldiers. He would not go into the despatches; but, looking at the Returns, he found that the total number of men was 10,652, and of those 9,504 were over the age of 21 years, and of those 6,187 were of 24 years of age and upwards; and, therefore, the men who fought at Tel-el-Kebir were well-seasoned soldiers—old soldiers who could do their duty under difficult circumstances, and men to whom alone the country could trust in the future. That Return did not include the Marines, as fine a body of old soldiers as ever existed. The noble Lord had said that he was going back, in a certain way, in the direction of 18 years; but, although at one time he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) thought it unwise to give up the 18 years' limit, he was convinced that, having given up 18 years, the Government ought not to go back to it again, for no man could go into a campaign like the Egyptian Campaign who was not 21 years of age or more. He did not think the noble Lord was quite accurate in his statement as to the numbers of men who were sent to Egypt, although he was quite sure the mistake was quite unintentional. The Report from the Horse Guards, dated March 10, showed that there embarked from this country 18,882 men of all ranks, and from the Mediterranean 7,555. Those were all more or less old soldiers. Then there embarked from India 5,863 men—making a total altogether of 32,303. The Reserves called out numbered 11,649, and of that number 4,363 embarked for Egypt; none went to the Mediterranean; 705 of all ranks proceeded to Cyprus, and subsequently to Egypt—altogether 33,303 men, including the 4,363 Reserve men, sent to Egypt. He wished to point out this. We had an Army at home and in the Colonies of 126,850 men. His 272 hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Alexander) had said that the Foot Guards were 849 below their strength. If they took off from the Army 26,850 for the Colonies and for the under-strength of the Army, they had 100,000 men at home; and out of that 100,000 at home they were able to send only 18,882 to Egypt, having to call upon our Mediterranean Forces to go to Egypt, and having to call out our First Reserve. He was quite ready to admit that the First Army Corps was not so efficient as it might be, or probably would be in the future, yet to find that out of that enormous number of men we were only able to send 18,882 was certainly a most marvellous thing. It might so happen that there would be a complication in the East, when we could not move men from Gibraltar or Malta; and, in that case, where should we find a sufficient number of men to send out as a Division of the Army? He was also informed, on the best authority, that supposing we wanted to send out another Army Corps after our first two Divisions of the Army had been sent out, we should not be able to send out more than 25,000 out of the enormous Army we had at home, and after the enormous expenditure to which we went. They had some practical information on the subject; they had the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting, and they also had the Report of Lord Airey's Committee, which he commended to the attention of every economist on the other side of the House; they had also had, two years ago, a most interesting pamphlet from that gallant officer, Sir Lintorn Simmons, and they had in The Nineteenth Century a review of the present state of waste in the Army, and that review he also commended to every Member of the House. He commended it to their very careful consideration, because it had been thoroughly threshed out, it had been thoroughly thought out, and it had been compiled from the Army Returns that were presented to the House, and had been taken in part from the Report of Lord Airey's Committee. He ventured to extract, from the information above named, certain facts which would be useful to the House; but he must not forget to mention that they had, besides the Army and the First Class Reserves, the Militia Reserve, which consisted of 27,274 men. He was glad to hear the 273 noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) say that it was intended to allow an increased amount of ammunition to the Army. It was a fact to be regretted that our Reserves shot very badly; in short, our Regular Army, so far as reports from Egypt came, shot extremely badly. He would now ask how the Army sent out to Egypt was composed? The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) had talked about the Cavalry; he would presently go into that question. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was Secretary of State for War at the time the Egyptian Expedition was sent out, sent out four regiments to make up a brigade, instead of three whole regiments, each regiment being something like 200 men below its proper strength. It must be remembered that when they were diminishing the number of regiments at home they were diminishing their power of expansion; and they were, in reality, putting the country to far greater expense than if three regiments went out fully equipped and of their full complement. It must also be borne in mind that in the First Army Corps, which ought to be thoroughly efficient, and up to the mark in every respect, each regiment was always called upon to find men for its linked battalion. He would not go at length into that matter; but he must point out that last year the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer stated distinctly that nine-twentieths of the Army were under one year's service. He took the right hon. Gentleman's words down at the time, and he remembered the right hon. Gentleman saying that he hoped that in future that might be rather an exaggeration. The right hon. Gentleman, however, made that statement, and that was what the country had to look at—namely, that nine-twentieths of these men were under one year's service. After what they had seen and heard, could it be doubted that an Army of this kind was not an efficient Army to send into the field? But there was another thing which the Committee ought most carefully to consider. They had heard a great deal of the waste of the Army. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) went into this question; but he did so in a rather perfunctory manner. He simply pointed out what was shown by 274 the Inspector General of Recruiting; but he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would like to take the noble Marquess back to the statement made in the Report of Lord Airey's Committee concerning the real condition of the waste of the Army. In the first eight years after short service, there were 184,110 recruits enlisted; of these 12.3 per 1,000 disappeared before the end of the year in which they were enlisted; 240 per 1,000, or nearly one-fourth, disappeared before the end of the next year, with an average service of about eight months; and 290 per 1,000 before the end of the following year, with an average service of one year. Such was the waste of the British Army—290 per 1,000 from desertion and other causes, with an average service of one year. It was also stated that about 13 per 1,000 would have died, 39 per 1,000 would have been invalided, and 50 per 1,000 had purchased their discharge. He noticed that men fraudulently enlisted had been retained in the regiments into which they had enlisted upon the second occasion, and had not been sent back to the one from which they deserted. Such an arrangement might save expense; but he doubted whether it was to the interest of the Service that it should be carried out. The Annual Statement contained a series of facts that could not be disputed, and the noble Marquess instanced what he considered a more hopeful state of things in 1881–2; but if they looked at the year 1879 they would find that 25,927 recruits were enlisted, and that 6,641, or 256 per 1,000, had gone before the end of the year 1880; in 1880 there were 25,622 enlisted, and there were 6,125, or 239 per 1,000, who had left before the end of the year 1881; and in 1881 there were 26,258 enlisted, and during that year 3,449, or 131 per 1,000, had disappeared before the end of that year. What was the general result of this state of things? It was that the waste continued, and that desertion still existed upon an enormous scale. In eight years the cost of desertions to this country had been the enormous sum of £2,300,000. It might be taken that certainly one-fourth of the recruits who joined the Army wore out of it before the end of the second year, having done no real service, and having cost the country £500,000, or about the sum proposed to be reduced in the Estimates by the hon. Gentleman 275 the Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) in cutting off 5,000 men. This waste he had mentioned went on in subsequent years, but at a less rapid rate; and the £500,000 he had mentioned was a fair estimate of the real cost to the country. There was just another series of figures that he thought it well to bring under the notice of the Committee. This was the only opportunity they had of placing clearly before the Committee and the country a statement of the waste of the Army, and he did not think it would be considered a waste of time. In the first six years of short service, from 1870 to 1875 inclusive, there were 122,281 recruits who joined the Army. At the date of the Return the period for which the men had enlisted had in no case expired; but of long-service men, 64,588 were enlisted, and only 28,800 were serving in January, 1882. Of short-service men there were 57,693 enlisted; but only 7,811 were still serving in the Army, and 22,662 had gone to the Reserve, showing a loss during that time to the Army and the country of 63,608 men, or 529 out of every 1,000 enlisted, and fully accounted for the small numbers in the First Class Army Reserve. Although the noble Marquess said it was not, this year was nearly as bad. The desertions this year were 4,143, though nearly half had been returned to the Army; 3,388 had purchased their discharge; and the total decrease to the Army this year had been 33,032. In 1881 the decrease was 26,258, so that the decrease this year was greater than the decrease of last year by 6,674. They all knew that next year things would be worse, and that there would be nearly 36,000 men required to make up the complement of the Army next year. The great problem was—How were they to get these men; and how was it that men deserted, and that such a large number purchased their discharge? Was the Army unpopular, or what was it that made men desert? Was it the uncertainty of the time they would remain; was it because of the conversations that went on in the barrack-room; or was it because of the unsettled state of the men's minds? He believed that they must not go back to 18 years of age; they must take men who were efficient, and they must be paid as much as was paid to other men in the country. It 276 would be far wiser in the end to pay these men better, and have a better class of men, who would serve to the end of their term without deserting, and, consequently, without all this waste of the Army. The best way to encourage the men would be for the Secretary of State for War to pick out 25 per cent of the best men, who might be allowed to remain on long service, and get pensions, the same as non-commissioned officers did. What was wanted in the Army was the example of old soldiers, who would encourage young men, and show them what they had got to do and the advantages of the Service. They wanted efficient, able, steady, and well-disciplined men; and they would never have a well-disciplined Army unless they had a certain number of old soldiers in it. The question of Mounted Infantry had not been mentioned. Mounted Infantry did excellent service during the late war; and what he would suggest for the consideration of the noble Lord was that in every regiment in the First Army Corps—indeed in every regiment—30 of the best shots, and of the best character, should be picked out and drilled as Mounted Infantry; they should be taught to ride, and some old horses could easily be found for them, and an officer of each regiment who thoroughly understood the work and his duty should be appointed to command them. If this were done, it would be found that when an Army Corps went abroad each regiment would have 30 effective horsemen. He was as much opposed as any man in the House could be to Mounted Infantry becoming Cavalry. What was wanted was a distinct and detached corps from each regiment—men joined together for particular purposes, and serving under an officer with whom they had been accustomed to act. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would be one of the first to acknowledge that Mounted Infantry did good service in Egypt. Now, one word only about the Cavalry. He was delighted when he heard the noble Marquess say it was not intended to interfere with the Cavalry, because he had no hesitation in saying that if it were attempted to deal with the Cavalry in the way that it had been asserted the War Office intended to deal with it, the effect would be most mischievous to the country. As he understood it, the noble Marquess proposed that for the future 277 each regiment in the First Army Corps should be composed of three squadrons, if on active service, and that the fourth squadron of the regiment should be the depot squadron. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would go further and say, increase the Indian regiments by one troop, and have, if necessary, two depots, one at Canterbury, and another in the North. Let the squadrons at the depots recruit for the regiments abroad, and then he was perfectly certain that the officers of the squadrons would take that interest which was not now taken in the depot at Canterbury, because there were, at the present time, neither enough men nor horses belonging to each regiment to take up the time and attention of the officers. He was sorry it had been necessary for him to occupy so much of the time of the Committee. The waste in the Army was very great. We had the men on paper, and the country had not got the Army it ought to have. The present system had not been an absolute success; the Government knew it perfectly well. They knew it as well as the men in the Army. There was no use in disguising the fact, and this was the place and time to lay it bare. The recent Expedition to Egypt had shown what the country could do; but it had also shown the weaknesses of its Army. He implored the noble Marquess to consider how he could get in the Army a class of men who would remain, to consider how the Army could be made thoroughly efficient, and how, in future, instead of being able to send out only one Army Corps, we could send out a second, with thoroughly competent transport, commissiarat, and, above all, medical staffs. He hoped the noble Marquess would not forget that there should be at least one medical officer to every regiment, and that that officer should know every man in the regiment, and should know the constitution and character of every man. He had simply made these observations in the interest of the country and for the welfare of the Army.
§ SIR JOSEPH PEASE
said, he did not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) in his criticisms; but he desired to express the hope that it might be a very long time before we should have to turn out again from this country with that well-equipped Army, of which his hon. and gallant Friend had been speaking. He 278 also rose to say how surprised he was to find that there was still an increase in the Army Estimates, especially when we were told in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech that we were on good terms with all our neighbours. Our troops were returning home, and, so far as he could judge, they were not likely soon to require a large number of fighting men. The noble Lord had come but very lately into Office, and, no doubt, he had got his figures from his Predecessor; but what he asked of his noble Friend was that, before he had been another year in Office, he would look not only at the question of organization, or the proper construction of the Army, but also into the question of how far the large expenses of the Army, as well as those of the Navy, could be reduced in the interest of the taxpayers of the country. He was well aware that constant pressure was brought to bear upon anyone who occupied the place of Chief or Head of the Army from all the military men, not only in the House, but out of it, and that all the suggestions made were such as must necessarily involve great expense. But, since he had had the honour of a seat in the House of Commons, he had witnessed a large number of changes, and every one had been brought forward in the guise of cheapening the cost of the Army to the taxpayer; but, as a matter of fact, there had been a steady advance in the cost to the taxpayer. A few years ago Purchase in the Army was abolished, and then Parliament was told that the country would, under the new system, possess as efficient a body of officers, but at less expense; that the troops would be better handled by the new officers than by men who purchased their commissions. Then they had before them the questions of the localization of the Forces, short service, the creation of Volunteers and Reserves; and, instead of any one of these matters tending to the diminution of the cost of the Army to the country, they had added to the cost. We had a Force of something like 250,000 Volunteers. They, however, seemed to be of no account, though, as far as those who could not take a professional view could judge, many of them disported themselves as if they were efficient soldiers. He was well aware that the country had to provide for Indian exchanges and for other draws on the Army; but it was many years 279 since we withdrew our troops from the Colonies. Those troops were brought home, and when it was said there were now 126,000 at home, there were, at least, 40,000 more than when he first entered the House. They would be told that whilst countries, generally, were in arms, it was unsafe for this country to be anything but very well armed; but that really brought them home to the question which of the Continental nations we were going to fight. One looked round to see whether it was Germany, or France, or Italy, we were about to fight; but he was at a loss to conceive which we should choose as our enemy. At the present moment, emigration was proceeding rapidly in the case of Germany, a country which had one of the largest and finest Armies in the world. In that country, however, penury was stalking about in the streets, people were destitute, and that Army, which was the pride of Germany, looked as if it was going to be its ruin. About this time last year he was in the South of Italy, and on all sides he heard complaints of the large expenses of the Army; the people who rejoiced in a united Italy were now complaining that they were worse off. There were certain aspects of the position of England which certainly did cause the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at any rate, to pause before he advocated a very large expenditure upon the Army. There was one matter which his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) had not touched upon, and that was that they saw daily that there was going to be a very much less income from the Excise duties than hitherto. There was more temperance in the country, and, no doubt, that temperance would ultimately have a great effect on the poor rates. It would be a long time, however, before the real effect was felt, because the drunken habits of the people had left such a large number of persons to be maintained in the workhouses. He asked, where were we to save unless we were to reduce the expenditure upon the Army and Navy? Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to be rather surprised that there should be no saving in the Civil Service Estimates; but he failed to see how any great saving could be effected in this quarter. He agreed with everything the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illing-worth) had said with regard to the posi- 280 tion of trade. He knew of no branches, except one or two, of the trade of the country, which, during the last four or five years, had been reasonably profitable. Agriculture, wool and cotton, coal, and iron trades—all the leading staple trades of the country—were not in a position in which they would furnish a large amount in Income Tax, and the workpeople had not been earning such large wages as fomerly. When they looked at the condition of the country generally, when they looked at the probable position of the Revenue which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to handle, they were by no means gratified at the prospect of these large Army charges. He appealed to his noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington) to look most seriously to the items which came under his manipulation—namely, those of the Army with the view, if possible, of decreasing them. Not many years ago the late Prime Minister, Lord Beaconsfield, made a speech, in which he warned the country as to bloated armaments. We had had a large number of wars from time to time; but he thought that when we considered what the cost of those wars had been, and what wore the results, we must come to the conclusion that they were all wars in which we had better never have engaged. Going no further back than the Crimea, we spent much blood and treasure; and, at the present moment, there was not a man living in the country who would vindicate the justice of that war. That war brought about, in all probability, the Indian Mutiny. We had had wars in Abyssinia and South Africa, and as to the Egyptian War there were many on both sides of the House who considered it might have been avoided. In Egypt we lost many men, and spent much money; but, practically, we had got nothing out of the war, save an increased burden upon the taxpayers of this country. He believed that the keeping up of a large Army was an incentive to war. When anyone had a tool in his hand he was always anxious to use it, and so it was with the Army—the Secretary of State for War and the Commander-in-Chief were always subject to the temptation of trying its efficiency, and thus too ready to use it. True economy pointed to the Army being brought down to the lowest possible figure consistent with the honour 281 and safety of the country; and he should have great pleasure in supporting the Motion made by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth).
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
said, he must congratulate the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) upon his recent speech, and also upon his re-accession to the Office of Secretary of State for War after an absence of 16 or 17 years. He was afraid the noble Marquess would think him a little ironical if he were to wish him joy in his Office. He could not help thinking that if the noble Marquess compared the present state of the Army with that of 17 or 18 years ago he must be filled with regret; and he must hope that in some way or other something might happen which would give him a chance of finding himself in a comfortable post, where he could rest and be thankful. He feared, however, that was not likely to be his noble Friend's fate. When he looked back 18 years, and recollected what the state of the Army was then, he confessed he saw a great many changes, but not quite so many improvements. Eighteen years ago the Army had a great deal of esprit de corps in its regiments, and it was full of old soldiers. At the present time something like half the old regiments had been erased from The Army List and the Army was full of boys. There was no doubt that Lord Cardwell's scheme of Reserve had been a costly one; the abolition of Purchase had brought about a forced retirement of officers, while short service had forced the soldiers back into civil ranks. The result was that the Army, instead of being a great profession, as it was in former days for both officers and men, was now little more than a temporary occupation. Again, if the Committee looked to the state in which the forces now were, they would find that we were not able to send out an Army Corps of even 30,000 without having to trench very largely upon the Mediterranean garrisons and our Forces in India, and without having to call a very large number of Reserve men back to the ranks. And if they were to look for that which they had a right to expect—namely, an efficient Reserve, numbering, as Lord Cardwell told them 12 years ago, 80,000 men, they found that we had not got above 25,000 Reserve men upon whom to fall back. And, lastly, if the events of Europe 282 should necessitate our sending out another Army Corps, he really did not know where we should find one; we should have to go into the highways and byways for men. There was nothing like efficiency in our transport and medical arrangements, or in our Cavalry organization; and they had heard over and over again this evening that which he was afraid was too true—namely, that a great many of our men could not hit a haystack, much less a Boer or an Egyptian. And then the noble Lord was obliged to come down to the House and to ask for the largest sum of money which had been asked for since the Crimean War. He (Lord Eustace Cecil) never recollected such large Estimates. At this moment they were asked to pay £15,640,000; and the question the Committee had to decide, after listening to all that had been said—and he was bound to say the subject had been treated most exhaustively on both sides of the House—was whether the country had got the worth of its money? He believed it had not, and that if at this moment, or within the next year, we were called upon to enter into a European war, we should find ourselves in a very dangerous and difficult position. Much had been said about the extravagence of the Estimates; but he did not think the real increase of the Estimates had been noticed. Seventeen years ago the Estimates amounted to £14,000,000. During the time of Lord Beacons-field's Administration—he believed it was in 1876—the Army Estimates were £13,989,000; but in 1883, only seven years after, the country were called upon for the sum of £15,640,000, or, in round figures, the people were asked for £1,500,000 more. He did not mean to say that prices had not increased in many respects. He knew, from the experience he had had in the War Office, that prices had increased; but he maintained that an increase of more than £1,500.000 in something like six years was a great and stupendous fact. He knew that the Secretary of State for War was always able to explain away the cost of the Army; but he (Lord Eustace Cecil) had very great doubt, from the experience he had had, whether Army expenditure was not capable of retrenchment and reduction. Having said this with regard to the increase of the Estimates, it was very proper to inquire whether we had an efficient Army. He would put the ques- 283 tion of efficiency in the same category as that of economy. He observed that hon. Gentlemen opposite dwelt, and very rightly so, upon the question of economy. He (Lord Eustace Cecil) had not a word to say against that; but hon. Gentlemen must recollect that this was a small Island at the head of a great Empire, and it was absolutely necessary, not only that we should have a sufficient force to keep that Empire together, but to engage in any war in which we ought to take part. Tie would not take the Committee into all the questions which had been dealt with by his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Walter B. Barttelot). The hon. and gallant Baronet referred to the various reforms that had been proposed at different times, and went at some length into the question of waste in the Army. He (Lord Eustace Cecil) confessed that when he read the Inspector General of Recruiting's Report, it seemed to him to have been written with an evident desire to please those who employed him. That Report was too optimistic. There was a great deal of interesting matter in it; but he could not see that the Inspector General of Recruiting was justified in saying, at the end of his Report, as he did—"That, notwithstanding the diminution of recruits, there is every reason to be satisfied." When they found that the recruiting had fallen off 3,890 in the Infantry alone, and when he said, as he did at the beginning of the Report, that whereas recruits had been coming in only something like 330 weekly, at least 440 would be required to make up what was necessary for the year, the present state of things was anything but satisfactory. How many more would be required next year it was almost impossible to predict. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) said that the recruiting capacity of the country was not yet developed. What the noble Marquess meant by that he did not quite know. Possibly the noble Marquess meant to say that recruiting was not sufficiently understood by the classes from whom we drew our recruits. He (Lord Eustace Cecil), however, could not conceive why, in this age of railways, telegraphs, cheap Press, and education, it should take so many years to prove to the people the great advantages of the Army. Language of the kind used by the noble Marquess 284 was heard year after year. Hope dwelt eternally in the Secretary of State for War's breast. The country was always hoping that something would turn up, and that our position would improve; but the only thing that did improve was the size of the Estimates. He did not think that recruiting in this country could be expected, upon the voluntary system, to go beyond a certain point. It was clear that, for some reason or other, we had almost exhausted our resources, and that, unless we were prepared to pay very largely, we should not be able to obtain the number of men we required, even for the very moderate force we now kept up. There was no doubt that a man of 20 years of age was worth any sum of money we could offer him; and he (Lord Eustace Cecil) would go further, and say that it would be better to spend a greater sum of money yearly in obtaining a sufficient number of men of that age than to spend what was now proposed in what had been called, and called rightly, a retrogressive step—namely, in obtaining boys of 18 years of age, who wore perfectly unqualified to do military duty for two or three years after their enlistment. But, supposing we could not get such men, what were we to do? That was a question which the House of Commons ought to decide, and, as far as possible, offer its advice to the Secretary of State for War. He (Lord Eustace Cecil) had his own opinion upon the subject, and had no wish to disguise it. We ought not to depend upon our White population alone, but we ought to extend the use, more than we did, of our coloured troops in tropical and semi-tropical services. He knew the question of the further employment of coloured troops was considered many years ago; but a great many things had happened since then, and he did not know why the question should not be considered again. He was of opinion that when we entered into the Egyptian Expedition, we ought, instead of sending 10,000 or 15,000 White troops and 5,000 or 6,000 Indians, to have sent 5,000 or 6,000 White troops and 10,000 or 15,000 Indians. His idea always had been that if we were at war on the Gold Coast, or at the Cape, or in Egypt, coloured troops should be made far more use of than they had hitherto been; that we should mix them as far as possible with White troops, 285 always holding the White troops in reserve, and in a position that they might, if necessary, do the hard fighting. Again, he had never been able to understand why, in some of our Mediterranean garrisons, we should not have a certain number of coloured troops. There was a strong feeling expressed some years ago on the occasion of Lord Beaconsfield bringing several thousands of the Indian troops to Malta. Only last year they were brought to Egypt; and he could not see that there would be any difficulty in bringing them a little further. He was not, however, for one moment advocating, nor did he wish they should take part in any of our wars in Europe. He would confine them, as far as he could, to tropical and semi-tropical countries, because he felt convinced they would save the White troops immensely. In an article in The Nineteenth Century, Sir Lintorn Simmons recommended, as a remedy for the present state of things, that we should offer at least 4d. a-day more deferred pay. He (Lord Eustace Cecil) looked in vain to see whether the gallant General had made any calculation as to what would be the cost of such a proposal. If 4d. a-day more in deferred pay were offered to each soldier, it would amount, in the aggregate, to no less than £1,500,000 a-year; and he (Lord Eustace Cecil) could not conceive a Secretary of State for War coming down to the House and asking for so large an addition to our already very large Expenditure. He heard the other night, from the noble Marquess, a statement as to what was likely to happen with regard to big guns. That was a question it was impossible to deal with exhaustively at this time, and he hoped the noble Marquess would give the Committee an opportunity of discussing Vote 12 at some reasonable hour on a future day. The fact that guns were to be no longer to be made of wrought iron, but of steel, would produce not only a revolution so far as the guns themselves were concerned, but a revolution which would cost, at the very least, from £6,000,000 to £10,000,000. He remembered that the change made 10 or 15 years ago in our system of heavy ordnance cost an enormous sum of money; and it would be well for the Committee and the country to take into serious consideration the great expenditure suggested. The change would not be confined to big guns. The pattern 286 of our rifles would have to be altered very shortly, and a rumour had got abroad that before very long some adaptation of the magazine gun would be introduced. Whether that was so he was not able to say; but if it was, as he suspected it was, we should then have the re-arming of the whole of our Infantry, and, in due time, the whole of the Militia and Volunteers to provide for. When he said that the Estimates had a tendency to increase, he thought he was fully justified in showing where the expenditure must take place in the future. Unfortunately, they could not put a stop to invention. It went on year after year, nation after nation adopted it, and England could not afford to be behind in the race. Having shown in what ways there was a tendency to increase the Estimates, he maintained there was all the more necessity that every effort should be made to keep down the expenditure in other respects, care always being taken that efficiency should be combined with economy. He was bound to confess that every reform in the Army he had witnessed, whether it was bad or good, had always cost money. In the case of short service, for instance, men were constantly being transferred from one regiment to another; their clothing had to be altered; it was found that deferred pay, besides a certain amount of pension, had to be given to non-commissioned officers and to a certain number of other men—these and other things contributed to make short service far more costly than long service. Whether the abolition of Purchase was right or wrong, it had proved to be one of the most costly reforms. The result of Liberal reforms during the last 18 years had been to load the country with a vast Debt and a vast Expenditure. He did not know that he could add anything to what had been said over and over again, and he was certainly not going to repeat on that occasion what had been said already in reference to the subject of Purchase. There were some figures with regard to enlistment of men which it would be well to bear in mind when it was proposed to return to a lower standard of age for the admission of recruits. He would impress on the noble Lord that every man, according to the Report of Lord Airey's Committee, enlisted at the age of 20 cost the country £57, as against £138, which was the cost of 287 a recruit enlisted at the age of 18. And this he thought was another reason why men should be enlisted at 20 instead of 18 years of age—namely, that at 20 they got a finished article, so to speak, while at 18 they enlisted a boy who was of no use for the first two years of service. He thought the noble Lord, although he might not entirely agree with him, would admit that some of those principles which had been advocated with reference to this matter by able men on that side of the House should be adopted. He hoped, however, there would be no radical changes, but that what was done would be done quietly, after full consideration, and without further increase of expenditure. He was certain, whatever changes might be necessary, that there was no more extravagant method of spending money in Army reform than the radical revolutions brought about during the last 18 years.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he had always great sympathy with the political principles of hon. Gentlemen near him; but with regard to the present Motion before the Committee, he might, perhaps, explain his view of the matter by saying that he had some doubt as to which was the cart and which was the horse. He agreed that it was desirable that we should diminish our aggressive tendencies and also our Army; but the question was whether we ought not to diminish our aggressive tendencies first. Having regard to the experiences of last year, he had some hesitation in backing up his hon. Friend's Motion, although, in many other respects, he coincided with the views he had expressed. It seemed to him that the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) was by no means of a sanguine description. The noble Lord had admitted that there were considerable difficulties and drawbacks existing with regard to our present military position; and it seemed to him that the only remedy suggested was one which did not commend itself to the sense of the House—namely, that we should go back to the enlistment of boys of 18, and not be very particular about the medical and other examinations in which the recruits had to pass before being admitted into the Army. This in the end would be much more expensive, and before the recruits were fit for the duties of soldiers they would have gone 288 through a great portion of their time of service. For these reasons, he felt there wore grave difficulties in the way of the plan indicated by the noble Lord. With regard to the Egyptian Campaign, he believed that the conduct of affairs reflected, in many respects, great credit upon those engaged both in the Department of the Army and in the Department of the Navy. Her Majesty's Government, having undertaken the trade of war, had carried it out with efficiency and extreme economy; the war bill had not been nearly so large as on many other occasions; and this fact, in his opinion, reflected great credit on the Government and the Commander of the Forces. Still, the equipment of the troops sent from this country contrasted very unfavourably with those sent from India. The Indian troops, coming to Egypt with their arrangements completed, marched at once into the field; and he believed that so efficient were those arrangements that they only lost one man otherwise than in battle throughout the Campaign. He denied that the transport arrangements in the Afghan War wore efficient; they broke down as completely as possible at the beginning—but the small force sent from India to Egypt was admirably equipped, and suffered little in consequence as compared with the English force, for whom adequate provision was not made. It seemed likely that our recruiting would seriously fall off unless it could be stimulated by some judicious changes. The general result of the debate that evening appeared to be that there was need of some kind of reform with regard to this matter. As a matter of general policy, he agreed with what had fallen from the noble Lord opposite (Lord Eustace Cecil), that we might greatly reduce the strain upon our White troops by a more extensive employment of troops from India. From our own population alone we could not become a great Military Power; and, although the time might arrive when it would be considered prudent to cease to aspire to too great Possessions all over the world, as long as we held great Possessions abroad he thought we should do well to avail ourselves of the military resources of India. He was sorry to say, however, that, at the present time, the effective part of our Indian Army had been overworked, not only in Cyprus and other places, but in 289 Afghanistan, so much so that we could not at present deplete it of men. Nevertheless, he agreed with the noble Lord the Member for West Essex (Lord Eustace Cecil), that we could employ a certain portion of Indian troops abroad with the good result of relieving the strain upon our own men. Coming to the European Army. For many years he had suggested that we ought to have two distinct classes of soldiers, one class consisting of short-service men who were to serve at home, and the other of long-service men who would serve in India and our other distant Possessions. He admitted, indeed, that the late Secretary of State for War had gone a considerable way in the direction indicated of establishing two classes of soldiers, although, in his opinion, the right hon. Gentleman had not gone far enough. In order to obtain a large number of recruits and a more respectable class of men for the Army, his plan would be, in the first place, to enlist all soldiers for a moderate term of service, and at the end of the first year to send abroad those who were willing to go on a long term of service; these men should be permitted to serve as long as they were fit; the other class of men, who were unwilling to go abroad, should be allowed to remain for home service in the Reserve. He was of opinion that if the matter were placed on that footing, we should get a more efficient and, on the whole, a cheaper Army than could be obtained by the present system. In that view he had placed on the Paper the Motion which stood in his name.
SIR HENRY FLETCHER
said, he could not support the proposal of the hon. Member opposite, because he thought that, instead of reducing the number of men, we ought, under the present circumstances, rather to increase it. He felt some hope, after studying the subject for many years past and from the statement of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, that as a certain portion of the work for the Navy was to be handed over from the War Department, the charge for which had hitherto appeared on these Estimates, that a sum of money might henceforward be devoted to the further increase of the number of men. He could not agree with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) with regard to a short period 290 of service for the Home Forces and a long period of service for the troops employed abroad. He should in a few words devote himself simply to the question of supply for the Army; and, in the first place, he wished to touch briefly upon the subject of recruiting. They had been told that evening, and they had likewise learned from official documents, that the recruiting for the past year had not been satisfactory, and that there was something like a decrease of 4,500 men in this respect. He wished, therefore, to point out what he considered to be one of the reasons why that decrease had taken place. The military authorities during the past year had brought in a different system of payments to recruiting officers. Up to last year recruiting sergeants received a bounty for bringing in recruits of £1; but that had been abolished, and for the Guards the recruiting sergeant now received the sum of 5s.; for the Royal Artillery and Engineers 3s. 6d.; and for the Infantry 2s. 6d. for each recruit. It was not now worth the while of a sergeant of Volunteers or Militia to spend any money in endeavouring to get recruits, seeing that he had to pay a considerable sum before he could get the recruit accepted. There was one matter in the Report of the Inspector General to which he desired to call attention; it had been alluded to by the Secretary of State for War, and with regard to it he thought some explanation should be afforded to the Committee before the number of men was voted. In page 7 of the Inspector General's Report, allusion was made to the provisions with reference to the attestation of recruits in the Army Act of 1881, in which it was clearly laid down that a recruit before he was enlisted or attested must be brought before a medical officer and also before a justice of the peace. The Inspector General suggested, in consequence of the difficulty of getting recruits, that Section 94 of the Army Act of 1881 should be so far modified that commanding; officers should be authorized to attest men within the district they commanded; and he added that this would be of great advantage to the Service as well as to the recruits themselves, because waiting at a police court was often very distastful to respectable men. He asked whether the authorities had any intention of following the sug- 291 gestion of the Inspector General? He was aware that this point was the subject of discussion when the Army Discipline Bill of 1879 was passing through the House, and that it was then decided by the authorities at the War Office that it was not desirable, for good reasons, that the attestation of recruits should be left to commanders of regiments or of depôts. There was another reason why he thought recruiting had not been so successful as was to be desired. They must not, perhaps, take the past year as an example, because there had been a war or a campaign in Egypt, and that, of course, excited certain young men in our villages with military ardour; but he thought they must look back to this—that the great falling off in recruiting was attributable to the territorial system, which was not at all popular throughout the agricultural districts. He spoke with some experience, as one who lived in a large agricultural district where for many years past there had existed a great interest in everything connected with the Army, and where he had in consequence heard, seen, and learned a great deal that related to this subject. The system as it now existed almost forced men to enlist in the territorial regiments. But men had old prejudices and feelings that made them like to enlist in regiments which they themselves knew, or of which they had, perhaps, heard from their fathers. Within the last few weeks a circumstance had occurred from which he knew that the territorial regiment in his own county would suffer much in the matter of recruits. Two men, whom he himself saw, and who had not enlisted in territorial regiments, but in regiments of their own choice, came into a village; one of these was a gallant Hussar, clothed in crimson overalls; the other, who, however, was not a Highlander, wore the kilt and the hose, and both attracted great attention. There was no doubt in his mind that the crimson overalls, and the gallant soldier with the Afghan medal on his breast, who had marched to victory with Sir Frederick Roberts, would attract the men of the village who wanted to become soldiers to enlist, not in the territorial regiment, but in others. But there were further reasons why recruiting had become unpopular. There could be no doubt, from the statement contained in 292 the Army Estimates that the number of men who had purchased their discharge during the past year amounted to over 3,000—there could be no doubt that something must be wrong in the present system of recruiting. This matter had been referred to by previous speakers, and therefore he would not dilate upon it; but there could be no doubt that during the past year £48,000 had been paid by men who, within one year, or less than one year, of their enlistment, had declined to remain soldiers any longer. Another question that he wished to touch upon was that relating to the rejection of men. He noticed in the Inspector General's Report that 272 men had been rejected for being illiterate, and 16 men had been objected to, and not passed, for not being able to write. But was it really a matter of any importance whether recruits for the Army were or were not illiterate—whether they could or could not write? Under the present system a man after he joined the Army was sent to school and to the gymnasium, and a great deal of his time was taken up in that way when he might have been much better occupied in learning the duties of a soldier. The commanding officers of regiments were almost prevented from instructing their officers and men in battalion drill, owing to the immense amount of time which was taken up by the school and the gymnasium. He trusted that the military authorities at the War Office would look most carefully into this matter. Another matter, which grew out of the remarks that had been made by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War, was musketry instruction. He was very glad to hear from the noble Lord that the Government had granted an additional supply of money for the musketry instruction of young soldiers. There could be no doubt that, although we paid a large sum of money for the School of Musketry at Hythe, and for the musketry instructors of the various regiments, the work of musketry instruction had been most fearfully neglected for many years past. It was only necessary to look back to the Zulu War to find that men were sent out from these shores, for active service in the field in a foreign country, who had never gone through a course of musketry. So, again, in the Transvaal War we sent 293 out some men who had only had what was called a short course of musketry, which really meant nothing at all; and in the Egyptian War, which happened only last year, he would not go so far as to say that some of the men who were sent out to Egypt had never fired a shot in their lives, but he would say this, and he said it without fear of contradiction from any right hon. or hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench, that a regiment was sent to the Mediterranean last year, when the Egyptian War was in prospect, which contained 399 men who had never fired a ball-cartridge. He did not bring this fact forward at the time from patriotic motives; but he thought it only right, as an old soldier, that he should now mention it, so that it might be known that men were sent to the Mediterranean, when the campaign was opened, who had never fired and never seen a ball-cartridge. He should be most happy to support the noble Lord in voting any sum of money that might be required for musketry instruction throughout the Army, for that, he thought, was a most prominent and a most important point. He would also like to know whether the first 12 battalions for foreign service at the present time were up to their full strength of 900 men each, because reports were flying about to the effect, not only that the first 12 battalions for foreign service were not up to their full strength, but that battalions which were second and third on the roster, following the first 12 battalions, were not up to their full strength? There was very great difficulty in making up the strength of the battalions which were now short of men. He did not wish to press for an answer on this point now; But perhaps on some other Vote and on some future occasion the Government would be able to give him a reply. The point was, however, one of the utmost importance; for when they had laid it down in the Regulations that the various regiments should be of a certain establishment, it was most requisite that those numbers should be maintained, because he believed it was the fact that when our Forces were sent out to Egypt last year there was a very great difficulty found in bringing the battalions up to their full strength, and the authorities were obliged to call on the Army Reserve. He need not remind hon. Members that 294 when the Army Reserve was instituted, they were told that it would only be called out in case of a national danger, and no national danger existed when the war broke out last year. It was very important that some steps should be taken for keeping the various regiments up to their full strength without calling out the Army Reserve. There was one thing in connection with the troops which he ought to have mentioned before, and which he thought would have a beneficial effect in getting men to enlist, and that was that there should be an increase in the daily rations. A soldier now had a ration of three-quarters of a pound of meat per day, and a certain amount of bread. No doubt, the ration of meat for the dinner meal was quite sufficient; but if a breakfast ration could be added to the daily meat ration, he thought, from what he had heard, as one who mixed and heard a good deal among Army officers, that it would be most beneficial, and would be most thankfully received by the men in the Service. Hon. Members were aware that three-quarters of a pound of meat was not a very large meal when it was the only meal in the course of the day, and those of them who had households of their own and kept up establishments, knew perfectly well that their housemaids and their footmen would turn up their noses if they were only to be allowed to have three-quarters of a pound of meat per day. When hon. Members came to think that there were young men of 19 years of age coming into the Service, and that they might probably have to go back, as had been stated this evening, to a year less in point of age—to the age of 18 years—it was most important that these young men should be properly fed and properly fitted to undertake any campaign for which they might be called upon. Another matter in connection with the statement of the noble Lord concerned the transport. He believed it was the fact that somewhere about 10,000 mules were purchased for the Egyptian Campaign. They were purchased for a very large sum—costing, he believed, something like £30 each. The noble Lord had told them that it was proposed, or, at all events, it had been referred to a Committee, that somewhere about 500 of these animals should be retained for the purposes of service at home, and to form a nucleus in case of 295 any future war. He (Sir Henry Fletcher) thought they ought to know what had become of the remainder. When he said 10,000 mules, he might be wrong in his figures; but, at all events, it was somewhere near that number, and he would like to know what had become of them, and what sum they fetched when they were sold. He believed that a great many of them were brought from South America, and from other parts of the world, and that a great many of them were afterwards brought to Woolwich and sold there for something like £8 each. On this point he thought they ought to have some information. He also wished to bring forward a question in connection with the establishment of general officers in the Army. The general officers' establishment was now a fixed establishment, and he believed he was accurate in stating that for some time past there had been some seven or eight vacancies in that fixed establishment; and he would like to know why those vacancies were not filled up, because it was most important to the senior colonels of the Army that they should be promoted to the rank of general without any unnecessary delay. There was now established a Rule, under which a colonel was placed on half-pay, or was prevented from taking further active service in the Army after a certain age, and if a colonel's promotion were delayed—and he believed he was right in saying that the promotion of several colonels had been delayed during the last few months—some explanation should be given of the reason for that delay. One other question he would like to put in connection with the colonels of the Army. He did not wish on this occasion to mention any names; but some few months ago, on the termination of the Egyptian War, promotion was given to various officers in the Army, and with regard to the colonels, one was promoted over the heads of some five or six others, and he thought he was right in saying distinguished colonels, who were senior to him. He wished to know whether that was to be established as a precedent—that an officer who did not serve in Egypt, and who, as they all knew, had nothing to do with Egypt, was to be promoted over the heads of his senior officers, and that those other officers were to be considered as shunted, 296 and were to be passed over on future occasions? The officers he alluded to were men who had served their Queen and country for years and years; and most of them had been mentioned in despatches and had received distinguished rewards. They had been passed over on this occasion; and he must respectfully ask that some explanation should be given simply as to whether it was to be regarded as an established precedent that the senior colonels were to be passed over, and whether these distinguished colonels, who had been passed over on this occasion, would be prevented in the future from rising to the rank of major general? He thanked the Committee for listening to him so patiently; but, as one who had taken some interest for many years past in everything connected with the Service, he had felt bound to say so much. As he saw his right hon. and learned Friend the Judge Advocate General in his place, he would like to put to him one or two questions, and he did not ask his right hon. and learned Friend to answer thorn now; but, perhaps, when the Votes with which the questions were specially connected, came on, some answer would be given. His right hon. and learned Friend was aware that he (Sir Henry Fletcher) took a great deal of interest last year in the question of fraudulent enlistment in the Army. He would like to know whether fraudulent enlistment had decreased or not? And he also wished to put another question in connection with another subject in which he was also greatly interested—the subject, namely, of the new arrangements for punishment in the field in lieu of flogging. Perhaps his right hon. and learned Friend would be able to offer to the House some few remarks as to the number of courts martial and the number of punishments that were inflicted during the last Egyptian Campaign? He did not ask for the information now; but it would be interesting, he thought, to the House and to the Army generally if it could be given at some time. He also wished to put to his hon. and gallant Friend the Surveyor General of Ordnance just two questions, leaving the hon. and gallant Gentleman to decide for himself whether he would answer them now or on some future occasion. The first was, whether the two-wheeled carts which were sent out to the Egyptian Campaign proved satisfactory 297 or not? because he had been told that those two-wheeled carts, which were sent out at a considerable expense, though they might do very well for the roads in England or Ireland, were totally inadequate to meet the requirements of a passage over the sands of Egypt, and that many of the regiments which had those carts for their regimental transport were unable to get them up to the front. The other question which he wished to put to his hon. and gallant Friend was this. He understood that somewhere about 20,000 bedsteads were sent out to Egypt for the use of the troops, and he wished to know whether those 20,000 bedsteads still remained in Egypt, whether they had been started on their homeward voyage, or whether they had arrived in England? He asked this because it was a known fact, of which he could speak on good testimony, that many soldiers at Aldershot during the past winter had had no iron bedsteads at all to sleep upon, owing to the fact that those bedsteads had been sent out to Egypt. The men at Aldershot therefore had had to sleep upon wooden trestles, and had had to put up with a good many inconveniences and difficulties; and at the present moment a good many of the troops at Aldershot had had served out to them bedsteads which had been taken out of the hospitals in the Aldershot district and the neighbouring districts. He did not press for an answer to these questions now; but when the Votes came before the Committee he hoped the military authorities would endeavour to give him the information for which he sought. There was only one other question that he wished to put, and that was in connection with the troops sent out to the Transvaal. He wished to know whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to grant any medal or any other recognition to the troops who served in the Transvaal—who used their best endeavours as soldiers to do their duty, who fought day and night in the be-leagured cities of the Transvaal, but who had never up to this time received any recognition of their services at all?
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
said, he would only trouble the Committee with a very few words; but one or two points had been raised which he would like to reply to at once. First, with regard to the recruiting in the Guards. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayrshire 298 (Colonel Alexander) had, in his statistics, rather fallen short even of the deficiencies which existed at the present moment in the Guards. The figures were, at the present moment, 333 in the Grenadier Guards; 224 in the Cold-streams; and 352 in the Scots Guards; making a total of 909. All the Reserve men were now demobilized, and no less than 5,700 were discharged in January last. Orders had been given to the sergeants in all the recruiting districts that they should put it to each recruit who was fit physically, whether he was willing to join the Guards or the Artillery; and the sergeants had a direct interest in the matter, because the levy money would be raised to 5s.—from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. in the Artillery, and to 5s. in the Guards. The special recruiters were not abolished, and both systems were now in operation. The average weekly number of recruits for the Guards had increased very largely this year, as compared with the previous two years. From the 1st of January last the average number had been 17 per week, or an average of about 800 for the whole year, while the total number enlisted in 1881 was only 618, and in 1882 it was 656. As to the statements of the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) and the noble Lord the Member for East Essex (Lord Eustace Cecil), they had both of them pointed out that there would be a deficiency of men to go out if a second Army Corps had to be prepared; but they had forgotten the fact which the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War had mentioned, that no less than 17,000 men of the First Class Army Reserve had not been called out. All those men, in addition to 27,000 men in the Militia Reserve, were available, and might have been used.
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
said, that probably they would not all have been called out, and he simply mentioned the fact that they were not called out on the occasion referred to. Then the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex had said something about the youth of the Army, and had pointed out that the men who fought at Tel-el-Kebir were men of long service. But the fact was that no less than 8,042 of the men who fought in the victorious army of Tel-el-Kebir were 299 men of under seven years' service. Our enlistment now was for seven years, but if on active service it was for nine years; therefore we could at any time put an army into the field quite as old as that which fought at Tel-el-Kebir.
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
said, the men were enlisted for 12 years, of which seven years were to be spent with the Colours, and five in the Reserve; but if the men were serving in India the term was prolonged to eight years, and if on active service it could be prolonged to nine years. Another point which had been mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman was a very satisfactory one—that the number of men discharged for misconduct showed a considerable decrease when compared with the Returns for previous years. The number of men discharged for misconduct on the average from 1876 to 1880 was 1883, which number fell to 1,637 in 1881, and to 1,294 in 1882, and, therefore, it had dropped nearly one-third in two years. The number of men discharged as invalids had also fallen very considerably during the past two years. The average for the five years preceding 1881 was 408, out of 27,614, and in 1881 it fell from 408 to 287, and it was still falling, so that the Army had improved with regard both to conduct and physique. Although it was true that some men might be discharged as recruits who would do efficient service, it was satisfactory to know that there was a very considerable improvement both in the health and morale of these men. The hon. and gallant Member for Horsham (Sir Henry Fletcher) had spoken of an addition to the Army Code which would empower officers to attest recruits. The Judge Advocate General would take that matter into his consideration. But the change having been recommended by General Bulwer, there was little doubt but that it would be carried out. It was probable that an alteration might also be made in the matter of musketry instruction. One of the suggestions was that the prizes should be increased, so that all marksmen, and not merely 10 per cent of them, should have prizes. That, no doubt, would do very much to bring about an increase in the number of marksmen. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had 300 also asked a question with regard to the transport animals. He (Sir Arthur Hayter) thought he had mentioued before, that a large number of the mules were sold, and that 120 used as transports had come home. Some were now in Malta, and some, of course, were still with the Army in Egypt. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kincardineshire (General Sir George Balfour) had made some stringent criticisms upon the statement of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War, and had said, that these Estimates were no less than £344,000 in excess of the former Estimates. But his hon. and gallant Friend had omitted to mention that £144,000 of that was due to the exceptional Expedition to Egypt, every shilling of which would be repaid. The calling out of the Irish Militia increased the Estimates by no less a sum than£l 43,000, and the additional day in Leap Year accounted for a further sum of £37,000; so that these two items alone made up £180,000 of the remainder of the increase. He had now only to trouble the Committee with an enumeration of the changes which it was proposed to make in his own Department—the Army Pay Department. There had for some time been some dissatisfaction in that Department, 'because the officers thought there were less well treated than others in the Supplemental Departments of the Army. What was proposed was, that the number of chief paymasters should be increased from 12 to 15; that all officers who joined the Department before June, 1881—all of whom joined as captains—should have the rank of major in five years, while those who joined after that date should have the rank of major in 10 years. After 25 years' service they would be allowed to retire; and if from ill-health or any other cause it was necessary for them to retire before that period, they should have the same retiring allowance as was given to similar ranks of their combatant brethren. Arrangements would also be made by which they would have annual leave of absence by adding to the pay of other officers who would perform their duties for them, they, however, being held responsible for the accuracy of their own accounts. It was also proposed to give them quarters as in other Departments, or an equivalent allowance. The Department would be very much better 301 manned by the formation of a class of Departmental clerks. These men would would be taken from the Pay Offices and turned into clerks, so that the pay officers would have clerks specially instructed. With regard to quartermaster sergeants, their pay would be raised from 3s. 6d. to 4s. a-day, and that would bring them up at once to the maximum rate which all quartermaster sergeants could receive. Veterinary surgeons were to be promoted to the rank of captains after 10 years' service, and their pay increased, while inspecting veterinary surgeons would get the rank of colonel after a certain time.
§ MR. BULWER
said he had listened with great satisfaction to the speech of the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth), who had moved the reduction of this Vote. It was an interesting reminder to the country of the difference between Liberal promises and Liberal performances. It was not the first time he had listened to attacks on the Government on account of their extravagance. A great deal had been heard about the extravagance of the Party to which he belonged when they were in Office; but he generally found that when the Liberals got into Office the most frequent attacks upon them were made by their own supporters. Mr. Cobden, in 1862, told them that the Liberal Government had added £8,000,000 more to the expenses of the country in four years than had the Conservative Party who preceded them. In 1871 the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) prayed to be delivered from the tender mercies of an Economical Government; and now, again, in 1883, he heard the hon. Member for Bradford call the Government to task for increasing the burden of the taxpayers. He did not, however, always agree that our Expenditure was extravagant, for as our Empire and our wants increased so we were bound to meet those wants; therefore, it did not follow that increased Expenditure was extravagance. But the hon. Member had urged this reduction upon the ground that there was great distress in the country; that agricultural interests were depressed, and that the commercial classes were also depressed. What reason was this for reducing the strength of the Army? If the hon. Member were in distress, would he ask the authorities to reduce the police? But 302 we kept our Army on the same principle as the police—for the protection of our country and our dominions. The hon. Baronet the Member for Durham (Sir Joseph Pease) said we must not increase our Army, but we might increase the expenditure on the Civil Service, because, although the agricultural and trading and working classes were distressed, the people still wanted education. But if distress were any argument in favour of reducing the police, it was an equally good argument in favour of cheaper education. Our Civil Service expenditure had increased by about £3,000,000 since the late Government left Office. As regarded the increased Military expenditure, he heard with satisfaction from the noble Lord that the increase proposed would be incurred in supplying the troops with ammunition to teach them how to shoot. Some years ago the Duke of Somerset said we had a Liberal Government, an Army that could not march, and a Navy that could not swim; he was afraid it might be said now that we had an Army that could not shoot. Probably the Committee were not aware of the real condition of our Army in regard to shooting; but they knew what took place at Majuba Hill. That was because our soldiers could not shoot. They also knew what happened at Kassassin. A 40-pounder gun fired 90 rounds at the enemy, and the infantry many thousands, and the whole list of killed and wounded only numbered 40. On another occasion the Egyptian cavalry were within 400 or 500 yards of our soldiers, who fired volleys calmly and quietly by word of command from the battalion commander, and managed to hit one horse. At Tel-el-Kebir the shooting of our soldiers—as General Willis stated publicly a few days since—was "simply infamous," and it was only because the Egyptian soldiers were not able to shoot at all that our attack did not end in a tremendous disaster. Men ought to be taught to shoot before they reached the butts, and he believed no money could be more wasted than in sending men to shoot at butts before they were thoroughly instructed in the use of their arms. Everybody admired the way in which our regular troops shouldered and presented arms, and the skill and precision with which they wheeled like a gate upon its hinges; but what was the 303 use of all that if the men could not shoot? He did not wish to say one word against the excellence of the material of which our troops were made; in fact, he was lost in admiration at the gallantry which even the consciousness of their own incapacity could not cool. The hon. Baronet the Member for Durham (Sir. Joseph Pease) suggested that the existence of a large and efficient Volunteer Force was a reason for reducing the number of our Army; but the hon. Baronet was never under a greater delusion, for he (Mr. Bulwer) believed that if such a notion got abroad among the Volunteers as that their existence would be made the excuse for reducing the Army, the Volunteer Force would vanish. [Ironical cheers.] He (Mr. Bulwer) perfectly understood those cheers; but he would remind those who uttered them that our Volunteers were made of the same flesh and blood as our soldiers, and were animated by the same courage and the same spirit of patriotism, and were as ready to perform the duty which they had undertaken; but that was to defend the country in the time of war, and against invasion, not to take the place of the Army in time of peace.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, he wished to point out that the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) did not propose any reduction. His objection was to any increase of our Army; and the hon. Member for Bath (Sir Arthur Hayter) had not explained why this year, when we were apparently at peace with all the world, a larger number of men was asked for than had ever been voted in this country before. If 132,000 men were sufficient last year, why did we want 137,000 now? As a matter of fact, the right hon. and gallant Member for Lancashire (Colonel Stanley), in the last year of the late Administration, moved for a fraction under 132,000 men; and the highest strength in a time of peace under Lord Beaconsfield's Administration, was, he believed, 133,000. What those who were called Economists wished was not to interfere with the efficiency of the Army, but to know why, in a time of peace, a War Establishment should be maintained, and at what figure the Peace Establishment of this country was to be put? In March, last year, 132,000 men were voted; then hostilities broke out between this country and Egypt in the summer, and this 304 marvellous Expedition, which all men praised, was sent out fully equipped, and won a victory which reflected the greatest credit on the men who organized and commanded it. Did that show that we had not a sufficient Peace Establishment last year? Our Peace Vote had always been sufficient; and he saw no reason, in what was to be anticipated this year, to justify an addition of 5,000 men. The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) had spoken for one of the largest constituencies in England, and the hon. Baronet (Sir Joseph Pease) had spoken for another. Both were working-class constituencies. The feeling in this country in respect to the growing expense of our Army and the Civil Service was gathering strength every day; and, whatever Government was in Office, if they did not reduce these expenses, they would be swept from power. We were spending £5,000,000 more on our Army and Navy than we spent in 1857, after the Crimean War. He and his hon. Friends were making no attack on the Military expenditure of the Government; but what they asked—and they had received no answer from the Treasury Bench—was why, in a time of peace, the Government were increasing the Military Establishment by 5,000?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, I think the Committee will excuse me if I do not, at this time of night, attempt to give an answer to some of the numerous questions put to me during this discussion. Many suggestions have been made, and I hope hon. Members who have addressed the Committee will not suppose that, because specific answers are not given, their suggestions will not be considered. All I want to do is to point out, in reference to what has fallen from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), that I think, though he has not done me the honour of listening to my statements in moving the Estimate, he has somewhat misrepresented the hon. Member for Bradford upon the Motion to reduce the Vote. I endeavoured to explain that the apparent increase in this Estimate is not not really an increase in numbers at all. Part of it is accounted for by the transfer to this Vote of the permanent staff of the Yeomanry Cavalry and Volunteers—1,740 men; and that is no increase either in numbers or in expense. The remaining 2,500 men are accounted 305 for by the new mode in which the Infantry on the lower Establishment are arranged; and that, again, is not a real increase in numbers, and involves no additional pay. What I endeavoured to point out was, that what we have done in the present year is to ask Parliament to sanction the maximum Establishment at which the Army will remain part of the year; while, for the other half, it will be below that figure. The Establishment will remain an average Establishment; and, therefore, there is no real increase in the numbers, and no increase in the expense of the Army under this Vote. I must do the hon. Member for Bradford the justice to say that I do not think he bases his Motion on any such argument. I did not hear him refer to this nominal increase. He moved the reduction as a protest against the amount, and, so far as I heard his arguments, they were such as would have told as strongly in favour of a much smaller or a much larger Establishment. In fact, I thought many of his arguments went in the direction of proving that we did not require any Army at all. I do not think that is the view taken by the hon. Member for Bradford, although I admit that this is a perfectly legitimate opportunity for him to enter a protest against the cost of our Army if he thinks fit. Still, the debate has turned so little on the issue he has raised, that I do not think it is necessary for me now to follow him into the arguments he used. I would only point out this inconsistency—that whereas last year the Committee, at the instance of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers), raised the Army by a number of men, it is now proposed to reduce the number 2,000 below the mark sanctioned last year. I hope the Committee will not accept the proposition of the hon. Member for Bradford.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 36: Noes 114: Majority 78.—(Div. List,' No. 32.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £4,121,300, Pay and Allowances.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, he asked the question, because the Vote 306 in the particular form in which it was suggested to them raised a question of principle which h did not know whether the noble Lord was prepared to discuss at this late hour (1.15 a.m.). The question was a novel one—namely, whether or not a number of men maintained on the English Establishment could be maintained out of the revenues of a foreign Government? That was a question which had never before—certainly not within the last six years—been brought on in the House. If the noble Lord wished to take the Vote now, there were one or two questions which he (Lord George Hamilton) would like to put to him in reference to it. They had heard a good deal about Expenditure to-night. The new form of Accounts in which the Estimates were presented made it difficult to follow or ascertain how much the Estimates were in excess of the Estimates of a few years back. Under the old system the gross Vote appeared and there were deducted certain extra receipts. He understood that, under the present system, the extra receipts were deducted from the gross Estimate, and they had in the Vote only the net Estimate; and the consequence of that he should like to point out to the Committee. The gross Estimate for the last year the late Conservative Government was in Office was £15,500,000, from which was deducted extra receipts £561,000; but now the Estimate was £18,291,000, from which was deducted the enormous sum of £2,685,000 for appropriations in aid. He wished the noble Marquess to tell them what these appropriations in aid were? If they added the appropriations that appeared in the old Accounts and the amount that the Indian revenues brought in, they could easily bring the increase up to £1,600,000. He should like to ask the noble Lord to tell them where the extra amount came from, and whether he could not present an Account to the House giving the Estimates in their old shape? If the Estimates were presented in their old shape, the increase would appear very much larger than the sum here set forth. Whenever the Estimates were so changed as to change the ground of comparison, all effective criticism on the Expenditure was for three or four years effectually counteracted. At this time of night it was too late to go into the various details of this Vote; but there were a 307 number of discrepancies which required explanation. For instance, if the noble Marquess would look at page 5, he would find that there was an apparent decrease of £40,700 and a real increase of £52,200, and if these two were added together they amounted to £92,900; there was then a certain sum paid by Egypt; and if these items were all added up they would be found to amount to £144,000. Now, it was perfectly clear that if this Vote was diminished to the extent of the sum contributed by Egypt, as was stated in the explanation of differences, the real increase would be found to be not £52,000, but £103,000; therefore, there was a discrepancy of £51,000 between the amount in the note of explanation and that for the appropriation in aid. It was no use going into these details at this hour; but he hoped the noble Marquess, if he could not reply now, would, in the course of a day or two, consider the matter and say whether he could lay on the Table the Estimates in their old shape, so that they could see exactly what these appropriations in aid were, and how it was that they amounted this year to the enormous sum of £2,685,000.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
said, that formerly the sums which were voted in these Estimates showed the amounts which were required for Army service only—that was to say, that if the Department did work for other people and obtained repayment for that work, neither the work nor the repayment appeared in the Estimates, and the Estimates only showed the work done for the Department itself. On the other hand, there were certain repayments in the nature of extra receipts, not on account of work done for other parties, but on account of receipts under special arrangements, from India, for instance, in connection with particular Votes with which sales of old stores, and the like, used to appear as extra receipts. The Vote in this respect was taken in gross, but not so far as work done for other Departments was concerned. That work done for other Departments appeared in the Estimates for those other Departments and not in the ordinary Estimates. What was now thought the best method of account was to show in the 1st column, page 5, the whole of the work done of all kinds, whether it was work for which money 308 was to be received in repayment, or work expressed as "service," for which a gross amount was formerly voted and for which the appropriations made appeared as "extra receipts." It was thought better to show first the whole amount, whether or not on repayment, and then to show in the next column the amount received either as extra receipts or received on repayment. The 3rd column showed really the amount which it was expected would be required solely for the services of the Department. In the 4th column they had the amount for 1882–3, which amount compared strictly with the column before it—it was the amount for last year, after deducting the extra receipts, but not after deducting the sums received on account of other services. That was an improvement made this year. Last year the extra receipts were deducted, and the result was shown in column 3, though column 2 was larger. As to what had been said about giving a comparison between the two Estimates, he agreed that it would be a good thing, and he said so on the part of the Treasury, who had just as much interest in trying to check the Estimates as anyone else. He would take care on the part of the Treasury to see that the necessary comparison was made.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he thought it would be a great advantage if they could have two Returns, one which would show a comparison of the Estimate under the old system and the new.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
thought he could undertake to say that the Return would be prepared. It would be difficult to embody one charge,—namely, that for which a charge was formerly made in the Army Estimates, but which was now made in the Navy Estimates. That was a different matter.
§ SIR HENRY HOLLAND
wished to know the amount which would be gained under the new change, by which the Department was enabled to use as appropriations in aid, sums which were formerly paid as extra receipts into the Exchequer? "What amount would the Department have more than they had in former years? That information appeared to him to be wanting in these Accounts.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
said, the account was not made this year but last year, and it affected the Army Estimates, he thought, to the extent of £500,000. But he was speaking from memory.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.