HC Deb 15 March 1883 vol 277 cc573-91

in rising to call attention to certain inequalities and defects of administration affecting the Corps of Royal Marines; and to move— That the Military and Naval value of the Corps of Royal Marines deserves to be adequately represented on the Board of Admiralty, so that the just claims of the Corps may be recognised, and defects in its administration remedied; and that it he referred to a Select Committee of this House to inquire into and report upon the best mode of effecting the above objects, said, no apology was needed to the House for occupying its attention with the grievances of this body, which was an arm of the Service of daily increasing importance to the country. It had had a curious and chequered history; but there could be no doubt that it was now a force of the highest value. In case of war, such a force was considered absolutely necessary by those best skilled in military and naval matters; but, unfortunately, it occupied a position where it was difficult to obtain an appreciation of what was its due. For this reason, he proposed a Committee of Inquiry, one of the first duties of which would be to suggest a remedy for the block and finality of promotion among the officers of Marines. There was no real employment for officers of this Corps above the grade of lieutenant-colonel, and the lieutenant-colonels themselves were engaged in work considerably beneath the dignity of those occupying a corresponding rank in the Army. In the Royal Artillery it took, on the average, 28 years to become lieutenant-colonel, 24 to become major, and 15 for a captain. In the Royal Engineers the parallel figures were 30, 23, and 16; but in the Royal Marine Artillery and Infantry the service for these ranks was longer than the longest time he had mentioned. Comparing the officers of the Royal Marines with those of the Line, the Line had greater advantages, because it had the employment on the Stall and half-pay promotion, both of which were at present closed to Marine officers. On board ship, too, the Marine officer was, as far as the command of his men was concerned, often under a great disadvantage, both personally and in the exercise of discipline, owing to his having, in some instances, to refer to the senior executive officer, perhaps greatly junior to himself, under the captain of the ship, though, it was true, some captains did delegate some of their powers over the Marines to the officers of that body. Again, when active operations upon land, which were the avenue to distinction and reward, took place, what was the position of the Marine officer? The Admiral had in his hands the distinction to be gained, and he naturally leaned towards the blue-jackets. In Ashantee, Colonel Festing, who was in command of the Marines, was on shore for a couple of months, and won praise on all hands; but, as soon as reinforcements arrived, the Marines were returned on board ship, and 400 blue-jackets were sent on shore. And the same thing happened in Abyssinia, Zululand, and the war against the Boers. Another anomaly existed with regard to discipline. When the Marines were on board ship, they were under the Naval Discipline Act; but as soon as they stepped on shore, a difficulty arose as to whether they were subject to those provisions, or whether they came under the Army Regulations. This question cropped up lately at Port Said, and the rumour went that, some time after the bombardment of Alexandria, the Commander of the troops on shore refused to have the Marines unless they were put under the Army Regulations; and, after some 48 hours' delay in telegraphing home, the difficulty was removed by the Admiral giving way. But the Marine officer on shore had often this to contend with—that when it was necessary to inflict punishment, or to repress any acts of his men, he had to wait for an officer from the ship—one far junior to himself it might be—to come with the necessary powers to decide the matter. These examples showed that friction arose in the management of the force, and it was this friction which he wished to see prevented. Who ever heard of an officer of the Marines getting a G.C.B.? Yet he apprehended that some of them had shown by their services that they merited such a distinction, quite as much as their more fortunate brethren of the Army and the Navy. Whenever wore the Marines included in a Vote of Thanks by Parliament for a single victory? There might be an isolated case; but it was a fact that they were omitted from the Vote of Thanks which was passed on the conclusion of the Egyptian Campaign, and the only reason given was that there was not an officer of sufficient rank in the Service to justify the Vote being extended to them. Bearing in mind the largo contingent of Marines that wa3 sent to Egypt, he put it to the House whether there ought not, in common justice, to have been a recognition of their merits by a General Officer being placed at their head? The question had been asked, why this had not been done; and the reply was—"We do not think it necessary." Who were the "we?" The First Lord of the Admiralty, and several other gentlemen who represented exclusively the Navy interests; and the injustice was particularly hard on the Marines, too, in this way—that, because there was no officer of general rank among them, they were not given a special Vote of Thanks for their services. The hon. and learned Member then drew attention to the difference in pay of the Marines and the Line in regard to officers and men alike, and said the distinction was most unfair and unjustifiable. The officers of the Marines were composed of men of equal station and worthiness, and yet were paid in a very disproportionate manner. Tie admitted that during the last two or three years, several matters in regard to this valuable Corps had been set right; but they were remedies long delayed, and their concession was no reason why the Marines should not seek to get other grievances redressed. Having pointed out that the conditions of promotion in the Marines were unfair in comparison with those in the Line, and that there was also an invidious distinction in regard to pensions, he said that in the Line a soldier received another advantage in deferred pay, which was denied to the Marine. It might be said that the Marine received more money in the shape of rations when at sea on board ship than another soldier, and so he ought; but when he was on shore a portion of money was deducted in respect of rations, which reduced his pay below that of a Linesman. The officers of the Marines, too, were denied the privilege of Greenwich Hospital pensions, and the patronage of the Horse Guards was never distributed among general officers of that Corps. Considering their numbers and the position they occupied in relation to our national defences, he thought they should be treated in a more satisfactory manner. He was told that in regard to the pensions of widows of officers of Marines killed in action, or in circumstances which, under the Regulations of the Army, would entitle them to a pension, such claims had been lately denied by the Admiralty in the case of a lady whose husband had been killed at Tel-el-Kebir, though recently, just before, Admiralty Regulations had been issued stating that the Army Regulations were to be followed. Some years ago the same demand for inquiry was made on behalf of the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers, as he was now making for the Royal Marines; and the Government of the day agreed to the appointment of a Select Committee, whereby an improved state of things was brought about. He trusted the Secretary to the Admiralty would adopt a similar course on the present occasion. There was no doubt that, as far as the rank and file were concerned, the Marines had been a very popular Corps for enlistment; but there was a danger in straining that popularity by the perpetuation of injustice and anomalies. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving Ins Resolution.


in seconding the Resolution, said, that before he knew the hon. and learned Member for Stockport had given Notice of his Motion he had put down a somewhat similar Motion himself. It might be in the recollection of the House that a short time ago he had asked a Question of the Secretary to the Admiralty on the subject of the Marine Forces. The answer he received was not satisfactory to that Force. Since that time they had had considerable correspondence with Gentlemen interested in the question; and so strongly had it been represented to him that something must be done, and done quickly, in the direction pointed out by the Resolution, that he was induced to give Notice of the Motion, in the hope that the Secretary to the Admiralty might see his way to think better of the answer he had then given; or, if that was not possible, to give him an opportunity to explain fully to the House his reasons for not acceding to what appeared to be a very fair and a very just demand. The question had been discussed before several times; Questions had been asked with reference to the Marine Force, and vague promises from time to time had been given; but, so far as he could make out, the practical benefits that had been derived by the Marines were nil. If this Motion were granted it could do no possible harm to anyone; whilst it would be the means of conferring a great boon on a most deserving class of men. As at present constituted, the Board of Admiralty consisted of the First Lord of the Admiralty, three Naval Lords, and one or two Civil Lords, and the First Naval Lord was the personage who had charge of the administration of the Marino Force. Besides that, there was a Deputy Adjutant General, who might or might not be consulted; but as he had no voice in the administration, he did not see how this gentleman was in a position to be of any great service to the Marines. It appeared to him to be a truism that, however friendly a Naval officer might be with the Force, naturally his first sympathy was in favour of his own Service. He had no doubt the reason why the Marine Force insisted on direct representation on the Board of Admiralty was because they felt that the anomaly that now existed would in that case be remedied. When they took into consideration the fact that the Marine Force represented one-third of the fighting force of the Navy, and that while the 26,000 men of the Navy were represented on the Board of Admiralty by three Naval Lords, the 13,000 Marines had no direct representation on the Board whatever, he thought a strong primâ facie case was made out for a Committee to inquire into the subject. With regard to their position under the Naval Discipline Act, they complained, with justice, that they had no particular status when on board ship. They had no right to demand immediate communication with the captain of the ship, and they also complained that they had no power to award the slightest punishment to their own men. During the late Egyptian War a force of Marines was lauded, 1,200 strong, and com- manded by three superior officers. Not one of these officers could administer the smallest punishment, and when on outpost duty irregularities occurred on the part of the men, the colonel commanding had to send for a captain of the Royal Navy to come on shore to administer the punishment. He could not imagine a position more degrading to the officers, more likely to destroy esprit de corps, or to prevent due respect from the men to the officers. He quoted from a lecture recently delivered by a distinguished officer of the Royal Marine Artillery emphasizing the anomalies under which the Marines were when placed under the Navy Discipline Act, which conclusively proved that while the education of the Marine officer was a most expensive one under the present system, we were deliberately and recklessly throwing away the advantage which the State had a right to expect from this superior education. He could not but feel that the manner in which the Marines had hitherto been treated had greatly impeded the development and prosperity of the Corps. If the Corps had one of its officers on the Board who could have spoken authoritatively on matters connected with the Force, what he complained of would have been impossible. One of his correspondents had suggested one of three courses which were as follows:—1. That when with the Navy the Marines should have the same privileges, relative ranks, and pay as the Navy. 2. That they should be turned over to the War Office and lent for Naval service, being placed on the same footing as an Army officer for all things. 3. That, failing either of these, the Corps should be wiped out. Now, he (Viscount Lewisham) need say no more to show that when such a proposition as the third one could be seriously made, how deep-seated was the grievance. He had met the Marines in different parts of the world, both afloat and ashore, and had no hesitation in saying that they were superior, in physique and general efficiency, to the Marines of any other nation in the world, and that they would bear comparison with the smartest regiment in Her Majesty's Service. When they considered that there was no quarter of the world in which the blood of their Marines had not been shed, and that there was hardly a battle in which Eng- land had been engaged in which they had not taken a distinguished part, he thought the House should unanimously agree to the Motion of the hon. and learned Member.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Military and Naval value of the Corps of Royal Marines deserves to be adequately represented on the Board of Admiralty, so that the just claims of the Corps may he recognised, and defects in its administration remedied; and that it be referred to a Select Committee of this House to inquire into and report upon the best mode of effecting the above objects,"—(Mr. Hopwood,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that, having been employed o7n service in China, in which the Marines formed an important part of the Force, he was bound to state that a finer body of men than the Royal Marines could not be found. During his own experience, some changes in the organization and composition of this Corps had been made which had not boon beneficial, at least, to the officers of the Marines, while some had been so; but it was necessary that other changes should be carried out. The fact could not be gainsaid, that Naval officers by merely being in command of a few Blue-jackets on shore, thereby took command of Marines as well, was a great defect. He remembered the case of Captain Ellis, who had been a Marine officer at Trafalgar, but who, on landing, fell under the command of Naval officers who were not born till many years after that action. No doubt, care must be observed in making changes, for they must consider the Marines as part of the Naval Force of the country, and they must not allow any changes to be made which would interfere with that Force as a whole. He thought that this question would not now have been raised if Naval officers showed more consideration when officers of Marines went on shore; but that the latter should have the command of an Army Force would, in his opinion, hardly be fair to the Army officers.


said, he thought a case had been made out for inquiry by a Committee. This House had inquired at various times into the position of different branches of the Service; and a Committee, over which the Chancellor of the Exchequer presided, rendered very good service in that way 12 or 15 years ago. He thought the time had now come when such an inquiry might be again made with great advantage. As regarded the Naval Discipline Act, the captain mutt be held entirely responsible for discipline on board ship, and this duty could not be delegated to any other person. Especially in these days, when this House criticized with great propriety any undue severity, it would never do to delegate to any other than the captain such a responsibility. The Marines should be regarded as part of the Navy, and they must disabuse their minds of any idea that the Navy could ever be conducted without a Force like the Marines. There were some points raised by the hon. and learned Member for Stockport which he thought might fairly be accepted by the House, or at least inquired into by a Committee. He himself had made the very proposal which the noble Viscount (Viscount Lewisham) had proposed, with reference to a Marine officer at the Board of Admiralty. No doubt, when the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was at the Admiralty, a change was made reducing considerably the number of the members of the Board; but public opinion changed again, and the Board was largely increased. If it was to be understood that the Board of Admiralty was to contain within it representatives of all the branches of the Service, then it was necessary that the Marines, who were one-third of the whole force of the Navy, should also be represented at head-quarters in the same manner. He entirely agreed with the hon. and learned Member, that when Royal Marines were tried by court martial, one or more members of the court should be Marine officers. If the number of the Marines was to be increased, the questions of their pay and pensions might very fairly and properly be submitted to a Committee for inquiry. If the hon. and learned Member carried his Motion to a division, he should certainly divide with him.


said, it was generally admitted that sergeants of Marines made the best officers of that rank in the Auxiliary Forces; but they were treated with great injustice, as re- garded pension and pay, when compared with non-commissioned officers of the Army serving in the same capacity. He trusted these inequalities would be removed, and justice done to this admirable Corps.


said, he thought that the House was much indebted to the hon. and learned Member for Stockport for bringing this question so prominently before them, for there was no body of men who had served their country more ably and faithfully than the Royal Marines. He was sorry, however, to have to say that, whether Conservatives or Liberals were in Office, but little attention was paid by the Administration for the time being to the wants, the requirements, and the necessities of this branch of Her Majesty's Forces. He did not understand that it was the wish of the hon. and learned Member who had brought this question forward that the Royal Marines should be taken away from the Navy, or that the captain in command of a ship should not have full power over every man on board it; but the Royal Marines wanted someone in whom they could trust to be placed on the Board of Admiralty. The Force now consisted of a fighting body of men numbering about 13,000, and they had every right to demand that one of their number, who occupied a superior rank, should be placed upon that Board. The Royal Marines had behaved admirably in Egypt; yet in consequence of the red-tapeism, which required that all Reports relating to them should be addressed home, not through their own commanding officer, but through the Naval officer in command, no mention of their gallant conduct had been made in Lord Wolseley's despatches. This was a practice that he thought should at once be done away with. If the officer who was in command of the Marines was to make his Report directly to the General it would be sent home with the other Reports. Another point to which he desired to draw attention was that all punishments of the Marines had to be referred to the Admiral or other Naval officer in command, and that, consequently, when Marines were landed, and the Admiral did not give any orders for placing them under the Army Discipline Act, the men were actually under no Discipline Act whatever, and could not be punished for the offences they might commit. This state of affairs had actually occurred in the Crimea, when the Marines who were landed were under no such Act for at least a fortnight. In his opinion, when Marines were landed, they should be under the command of their own officers, who should always give the executive words of command. If a Marine officer of high rank were placed upon the Board of Admiralty, the question of pay and other grievances would be looked into, and thus satisfaction would be given to as fine a body of fighting men as could be found in the whole world. He hoped the Committee would be granted.


as one who had taken great interest in Naval affairs, thanked the hon. and learned Member who had moved this Resolution. Recent events had shown that the Marines were in the present what they had always been in the past, and that as Infantry soldiers or as Artillerymen they were without rivals. In Egypt they did good service at Alexandria with the armour-clad train, and in a number of other engagements; while as police at Port Said they had succeeded admirably. Yet there was no body of men who had suffered so much from uncertainty as to their condition, and from anomalies and hardships. If the Secretary to the Admiralty granted this Committee, where all their grievances might be thrashed out, he was sure that the Marines would be willing to abide by their Report. He was not going to press on the Government that the Royal Marines should be represented on the Board of Admiralty by a general officer, because he believed that a small Board was more useful and effective than a large one; but the very fact that he was unwilling to press that claim made him the more anxious to urge the granting of a Committee to determine what should be the future condition of one of the noblest branches of the Service. It was not a matter of surprise that the Marines should wish to have a more direct representation on the Board. If they had had it, there would not have been what he called last year that insenrate reduction of 600 officers and men, who six months afterwards would have rendered such invaluable service.


supported the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Stockport. He urged last year that a general officer should be ap- pointed to serve on the Board of Admiralty. At present matters connected with the Royal Marines were under the supervision of the Senior Naval Lord; but he had a great many things connected with the Navy to supervise, and the interests of the Marines would be more effectually looked after if they had an officer of their own to attend to them. Another grievance was that officers of the Royal Marines were debarred from holding staff appointments, though eligible for entering the Staff College, like officers of the Army. When they had passed through a two years' course of severe instruction, there was nothing whatever open to them. When officers of Marines had passed from the grade of colonel, when they became colonels commandant, they had nothing to look forward to. In Egypt the authorities, both Military and Naval, made great use of the Marines, who were sent to the front at Alexandria and at Tel-el-Kebir, because they were old soldiers—as the Marines were allowed to engage for 12 years, whereas in the Army men were not allowed to engage for more than seven or eight. The Royal Marine Artillery did good service also in some of the minor engagements when the Royal Artillery were put out of action. He humbly asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, as he had done two years ago, to allow the Committee to be appointed.


said, that although some observations had been made by hon. Members in the course of the debate with which he could not entirely agree, his feelings and opinions were altogether in harmony with all that had been said in praise of that gallant Force, the Marines. There was not a word that could be used too strong to describe the gratitude which the country owed to the officers and men of that Force. Apart from their daily and constant duties on board ship, in time of peace, they had often served so well in an extremity, and had been employed with advantage on so many occasions, that he thought there would be a general agreement amongst hon. Members that there was no Force more deserving of the confidence of the country. Therefore, speaking for himself and his Colleagues, he approached the subject with every disposition to do justice to the claims of the officers and men. His hon. and learned Friend who brought forward the Motion did not appear to be aware of the important steps which the present Board of Admiralty had taken within the last two years with a view to redressing what appeared to be the grievances and inequalities from which the Marines suffered. Without entering fully into the question of the increase of pay granted to them, he might state that the money advantage of the changes of last year was represented by the sum of £24,000. As to the promotion of the officers, of course, it was difficult to equalize the rates of promotion in the different branches of the Service; but a good deal had been done to improve the position of the officers of Marines. They had been given the right of promotion from the rank of lieutenant to that of captain after 12 years' service, and at the present moment the senior lieutenant of the Corps had only 9½ years' service. Besides, it must be borne in mind that young Marine officers on appointment obtained at once the full rights of officers, and counted their service for promotion and retirement from the day of their appointment; while their brother in arms in another branch of the Service had to go either to Sandhurst or Woolwich, and spend a year, or two years, in undergoing a costly education, before he received his commission. Going higher than the rank of lieutenant, he might say that a Warrant had been prepared, and would very shortly be issued, granting to captains of Marines a brevet majority after 21 years' service, and to majors a brevet lieutenant-colonelcy after 28 years' service, or after seven years' service in the rank of major. Some delay had occurred in the preparation of the Warrant; but no injustice would be done to the Marines, because it would date from the time when similar advantages were given to the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers. Other things had been done into which he need not enter in detail; but he had been furnished with a statement showing the comparative state of promotion in the three Corps—Artillery, Engineers, and Marines. The Return showed that the junior lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Artillery was born in 1837; of the Royal Engineers in 1838; of the Royal Marine Artillery in 1836; and of the Royal Marine Light Infantry in 1837. The junior major of the Royal Artillery was born in 1843; of the Engineers in 1841; of the Marine Artillery in 1842; and of the Marine Light Infantry in 1844. The junior captain of the Royal Artillery was born in 1854; of the Engineers in 1850; of the Marine Artillery in 1852; and of the Marine Light Infantry in 1849. This Return, therefore, showed, not, of course, that the rate of promotion was exactly the same in the different Corps, but that it was not in a hopeless condition in the Marines. Something had also been done expressly in order to avoid stagnation, Marine officers being allowed optional retirement on gratuities after 12 years' service. With respect to field officers, whose number his hon. and learned Friend said had been reduced, he found that in 1863 there were in the Artillery no majors, 27 captains, and 56 lieutenants. In 1883 there were 14 majors, 32 captains, and 39 lieutenants. In the Infantry in 1863 there were no majors, 124 captains, and 234 lieutenants; and in 1883 there were 43 majors, 71 captains, and 108 lieutenants. That showed that the state of promotion was very much better now than it was 20 years ago. With respect to pensions, he could only say it was intended that the Marines, both officers and men, should receive their full share of military pensions. Hon. Members said they ought to receive Staff appointments, and, above all, that they ought to be allowed to go on to the generals' list for a share of general officers' commands in connection with the Army. From the Admiralty point of view they had no objection to that, and should be glad to see it done; and he understood from the late Secretary of State for War that before he left Office steps were ordered to betaken for the keeping of some sort of record or register of the qualifications of Marine officers who might be candidates for Staff appointments; because if such a record were not kept His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge would not have the means of selecting a Marine officer for such an appointment. He could only repeat that he was most anxious that Marine officers should have their full share of these appointments. As to the appointment of a general officer of Marines in Egypt that had been so much talked about, he might observe that the force of Marines at Telel-Kebir and in the other land opera- tions was no more than a battalion, and that for that reason alone no major-general could have been appointed to command them. The questions of discipline which had been brought forward were well worthy of consideration. As the right hon. and gallant Admiral opposite (Sir John Hay) had said, the captain of a ship was necessarily responsible for the discipline of the ship, and nothing could be done to invalidate his authority; but in the case of Marines on shore, especially when, though co-operating with a Military force, they were not placed under the Army Discipline Act, there was undoubtedly good ground for making a change. It was a matter that had been under the consideration of the Admiralty for some time before the Egyptian operations, and it was intended to introduce a clause dealing with it in the Naval Discipline Bill of the present year. It had been proposed to give the Marines a direct representative on the Board of Admiralty; but there were many conclusive reasons against that step. As things were, the Marines were perfectly well represented by the Deputy Adjutant General, and, besides, the Board was not intended to be a representative body. If the Marines were represented at the Board, other interests and classes in the Service might also claim to be represented, and the members of the Board would gradually recognize the dangerous principle that each of them represented a particular class. The principal objection was, that the Board was primarily consultative in its character and not administrative. The idea of an indignity being cast on the Corps of Royal Marines by their being represented only by a Deputy Adjutant General under an officer of high distinction, such as a Naval Lord always was, was surely dissipated when they considered that the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers were represented by Deputy Adjutants General. The Royal Artillery was a Corps consisting of between 22,000 and 23,000 men; it was a much larger Corps than the Royal Marines; and it had only a Deputy Adjutant General under an Adjutant General of the Army. Another consideration he would press was that the Board of Admiralty had really very little to do with personal questions. The Admiralty differed from many other Departments in the Public Service in this—that the bulk of the business was not so much personal as material. The business which the Board had to determine was connected rather with the great work of maintaining the Navy in its proper condition, and it had not to do with mere questions of promotion and pay. Therefore, on these grounds, the idea of an officer of Marines being placed at the Board of Admiralty ought to be rejected. According to the terms of the Motion it was to be declared desirable to appoint a general officer to represent the Marines on the Board, and the question how this should be done was to be inquired into by a Committee. The Government were little disposed to assent to the appointment of a Committee on the subject, because there was always danger in the House interfering with the administration of a great Service such as this. The hon. and learned Member had brought forward the Motion in a speech full of martial ardour. His one cry was that money should be spent to relieve the alleged grievances of this Corps. He, who had always been thought to be an advocate of peace and economy, was now moving for a Committee to see how a warlike Service could be rewarded by having additional money spent upon it. The Government were quite pro-pared to spend it if it were necessary. The steps already taken were an earnest of their willingness, and if they were not sufficient they would see what more could be done. He asked the House not to appoint the Committee, but to leave the matter to the Government, who recognized the strong opinion which prevailed, to discover whether it was necessary to do anything more. If they did not do what was necessary, then the House could call them to account.


said, that the hon. Member, in his concluding remarks, had recognized the strong feeling that prevailed in both the House and the country in favour of the Royal Marine Corps, who had, at all times, done their duty and proved themselves to be an admirable and a useful Corps. It was fortunate that two or three hours had been devoted to the discussion of the grievances of this Corps, because it enabled justice to be done to their merits, and secured full consideration for the claims presented. No Military body deserved better than this Corps had done; but the argument the hon. Gentleman had used would weigh with him in declining to assent to the appointment of the Committee. The hon. Gentleman had gone fairly and frankly through the several statements made, in order to urge the House to grant the Committee; but his objection appeared to be fatal, that it was to inquire into and report the best mode of effecting an object which the Motion assumed was a foregone conclusion. It was not for the House to make the affirmation contained in the Resolution. He agreed with his hon. Friend, that it would not be to the advantage of the Service, or of the country, that the Corps of Royal Marines should be represented in the terms of this Resolution at the Board of Admiralty. Certainly, no officer sitting at that Board was understood to represent any portion of the Service; each was appointed because of his services, and of his general qualifications to assist in the administration of the Navy; and, undoubtedly, the duties were of the character which had been indicated. Some advantages, he hoped, might result from the discussion. He regretted very much that opportunity was not taken to employ a general officer when the Marines were sent out. It was said that they amounted only to a battalion, and that it was impossible to appoint a general officer to command a battalion; but if they were to be brigaded with the troops of the Line, looking at the great services they had rendered, why for the occasion might they not have been commanded by a general officer? It could not be denied that there was a certain amount of grievance in this direction. Officers who had served well and gallantly during a long period, and who had arrived at a time of life when they might reasonably expect to have the opportunity of showing whether they had qualities of a higher character than had yet been called for, were denied the opportunity when it seemed to occur. On a future occasion, no doubt, a remedy would be found for this admitted grievance. There were officers of the Royal Marines, of all grades, who had shown great capacity; and he saw no reason, simply because these officers had arrived at the rank of colonel or major-general, that they should be denied the opportunity of serving if the Army had need of their services. Undoubtedly, the Marines existed for services in the Fleet. In time of emergency, they were of great use on land as soldiers, but, still, we must regard Marines first and foremost as sailors, who were bound to servo on ships. He thought some improvement might be made in the Naval Discipline Act, so that there should be no question as to the discipline to which Marines would be subjected when they were landed; but he would not anticipate discussion on that subject. After the discussion which had taken place, he trusted the hon. and learned Gentleman would not ask the House to divide, as there were many hon. Members, and he was one of the number, who would exceedingly regret having to go into the Lobby against what appeared, at all events, to be the interests of the Service. If grievances existed, they would be desirous to do everything in their power to remedy them; but he felt sure that a Committee of that House would not be the best means of effecting an improvement in the condition of the officers and men of the Royal Marines.


joined in the appeal just made to his hon. and learned Friend not to divide the House on his Motion, as by so doing he would make many Members go into the Lobby against the Royal Marines, of whom they were the warmest admirers. The Board of Admiralty was in no sense a representative body; and although he would be very glad to see a Marine, and more especially an Engineer officer, added to it, such addition would not be for the purpose of direct representation.


said, he could not understand why officers of the Marines should not be eligible to every command and every honour that could be conferred upon the Line, the Artillery and the Engineers. His hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty had stated that the strength of the Marines in Egypt was too small for the formation of a brigade; but in the course of the discussion he had heard that the Marines numbered about 1,200 men.


intimated that his remarks had reference to the Marines at Tel-el-Kebir.


remarked, that he was speaking not of them only, but of the Marines employed during that campaign. If there were 1,200 men, there were virtually two battalions, and those constituted a brigade. They possessed no body of troops which had shown their loyalty and bravery in every part of the world more distinctly than the Royal Marines. The thanks of the Royal Marines were due to the hon. and learned Member for bringing forward this Motion, which it was his intention to support. He served with the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Committee of 1867, which did great service to the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers, and he could see no reason why a Committee should not be granted to go into the case of the Royal Marines.


said, he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would not divide the House. If the Motion, were pressed he should deem it his duty to vote against it. If they were to grant this Committee they would be, in reality, damaging the cause which they were all so anxious to promote. Such a Committee could not be nominated until after Easter; by the time its Report was presented the Session would be considerably advanced; and, meanwhile, the Admiralty would be deterred from taking those steps which the Secretary to the Board stated that they intended to take on behalf of the Corps.


also trusted that the Motion would be withdrawn. The discussion had had the good effect of drawing from the Secretary to the Admiralty a more satisfactory statement than those answers in courteous but peculiar language, which appeared to be common to the Front Bench when it was desired to give a question the go by. He believed the hon. Member was quite correct in saying that the scheme of promotion decided upon had not yet been made public. He desired to state one or two reasons why general officers of Marines should be employed where Marines were brigaded with Regular troops. If this had been done in Egypt, one inconvenience would have been avoided. In one action General Graham was absolutely unaware that the Royal Marines possessed men who were trained as field-gunners, and he kept the Royal Horse Artillery at work, while there were 400 Marine Artillery at hand, who would have been fully capable of relieving them at a time when they were practically exhausted. If there had been, a general officer of Marines in command during that campaign, such a loss of force would have been almost impossible. At another time, a general officer was astonished when he was informed that the Royal Marines could have furnished him with a staff of telegraphists.


said, he should have been glad to yield to the appeals of his hon. Friends, but he had to consider the wishes of others in this matter, and he considered it for the interest of the public to press his Motion to a division.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 60; Noes 39: Majority 21.—(Div. List, No. 36.)

Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."