§ SUPPLY—considered in. Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I shall endeavour to occupy as little as possible of the time of the Committee, as I can hardly hope to secure its attention after the protracted discussions we have already had. I shall, therefore, compress, as much as possible, the remarks which it is my duty to make to the Committee. I shall first refer to the financial aspect of these Estimates. The Estimates of the present year, including the Supplementary Estimates lately voted, show a reduction of £14,700; but, as compared with the original Estimates presented to the Committee last year, they show an increase of £,326,200. The Estimates of the present year include some war charges, such as the arrears for the Egyptian Expedition of 1882, and some charges for the expedition to Suakin. Omitting these, and including only the ordinary items for which the Votes were insufficient, being principally the items of deferred pay and pensions, it would appear that, instead of a saving of £44,700, the Estimates show an increase of £179,300. Omitting, further, a sum of £49,300 in respect of the Indian non - effective charges, the Estimates show an excess of £49,300 over last year. I will state the principal heads of increase in detail. Partial provision is made for the pay of additional men. That accounts for an additional sum of £45,000; good-conduct pay £5,000; deferred pay—after deducting the portion of the increased charge payable by India—.£20,000; increase of Reserve Forces £65,000; for the Militia and Volunteers, £9,700; for pensions, £15,700; and decrease of Ceylon contribution, £20,000. Altogether, the prin- 102 cipal heads of increase amount to £180,400. The chief decreases are the reductions of charge for the carriage of troops by railway, £35,000; miscellaneous charges, £32,600; and a reduced charge for stores, supplies, and clothing, amounting to £63,500; making a total of £131,100. I shall speak somewhat later of the proposed increase of men With regard to the other items, the charge for good-conduct pay has been caused partly by the extended service of the men adopted last year; and partly by an increased charge for outfit allowances, which has resulted from the larger number of commissions, principally Quartermasters' commissions, now given to noncommissioned officers on promotion from the ranks. In the amount of deferred pay there is a large increase. It has, during the last two years, exceeded the amount estimated in 1 876, when deferred pay was first granted; but the ultimate amount will probably not exceed the maximum of the original Estimate then made, except as to non-commissioned officers during their service after re-engagement, who were not at first included. As, however, a large number of men take their discharge on the completion of their 12th year of service, the maximum charge will be reached more rapidly than had been, expected. The pension charge, disregarding the reduced sum taken for Indian repayments, shows an addition required of £15,700 above the original and supplementary Estimate for 1883–4. The supplementary sum of £50,000 recently voted for out-pensions raises the charge for them in 1883–4 to the same amount as is included in the Estimates for the present year, and therefore the full amount for the two years will be practically the same; but there is, nevertheless, an excess of £50,000 over what was thought sufficient a year ago. This has been, as the Committee are aware, a very heavy and an increasing charge; but there is some reason to hope that the maximum of that charge is now very nearly, if not altogether, reached. There is a charge of £20,000, in addition, which will fall upon the Army Estimates in respect of a diminished contribution from the Island of Ceylon. That Colony is almost the only Colony which for some years has paid the full cost of its military expenditure. Of late years the Revenue of the Colony has very materially fallen off and, owing to a 103 very strong appeal having been made to the Treasury and the War Office, a temporary reduction of £20,000 in the contribution has been assented to, pending the revision of the permanent charge to be made on the Island. It is hoped that, whatever charge may be fixed upon in the future, the Island will be able to pay the full amount. The explanation of the charge for Indian Non-Effective Services is, I am afraid, of a somewhat difficult and technical character. For many years past the payment by the Indian Government has represented the capital value of the Indian proportion of the pensions, and this sum has been appropriated as Revenue. This system might have been maintained, and the Whole sum receivable from India have been appropriated in aid of the Votes, as in previous years; but the Government, having had their attention called to the subject, have thought it right to put an end to the system of appropriating capital in aid of Revenue. The measures intended to be taken will be more fully explained to Parliament when the scheme, creating a fund by means of contributions of the past, and the re-vote of money hitherto applied in aid of Revenue in excess of annual charge, comes under our notice. The immediate effect on the Army Estimates will be to increase the stun voted by the sum of £130,000. Coming now to the general statement of the state of the Army, I had to explain last year that there was a very considerable deficiency in numbers, both at home and in India, and I had also to admit that a great difficulty had been found in making up the drafts for establishments abroad, and especially in India. That deficiency was due to two causes. In the first place, an abnormal number of discharges took place in 1883, from the fact that a very large number of long-service men enlisted in 1870, and a very large number of short-service men enlisted in 1876; and both these classes were together taking their discharges last year. The second cause of the deficiency was the check placed on recruiting in. July, 1881, by the experiment which was tried of raising the age for enlistment from 18 to 19. Our return to the age of 18 has been much commented upon in the discussion to-night; but I may remind the Committee that the increase of age 104 was a measure never before attempted with regard to recruiting by any system. At the same time, a more strict medical examination of recruits had been enforced, and various minor alterations in the recruiting system had been adopted, which probably have had for the time the effect of checking recruiting. Early in 1882 there was, unfortunately, a great drain of men, which was not fully anticipated or provided for. The opportunity was thought a favourable one for endeavouring to obtain the necessary number of recruits at a somewhat more advanced age, and for otherwise raising the standard. The result of these combined circumstances was that there was a deficiency in recruiting; and a very large deficiency under the numbers authorized upon the establishment. Measures were taken last year with the object, in the first place, of providing more recruits; and, in the second place, of reducing the outflow from the ranks, especially in India. The standard was not absolutely reduced; but special permission was given to enlist men between the ages of 18 and 19. between 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 4 inches in height, and between 33inches and 34 inches in chest measurement, if, in the opinion of the medical officer and the military recruiting officer, such men were likely to make eligible soldiers. At the same time, the terms of service were made more elastic; although the actual terms of enlistment were not altered, except in the Guards. In the Guards the original engagement now is for three years with the Colours, with the power of extending their service to seven or 12 years, and at 12 years of re-engaging and serving for 21 years. As I have already explained, that was tried without any risk; since, except in case of war, the Guards have no foreign service. In the Line, the same permission has been granted to all men on the expiration of their service with the Colours to extend their service to 12 years; and, if of good character, they have again the opertion of re-engagement and serving for 21 years. A sum of 120 rupees is offered in India to men so re-engaging, provided they have a sufficient length of service to give. A good deal of observation has been made upon that; but I should like to point out to the Committee that I consider this practice of giving a 105 bounty to a man for extension of service is a very different thing-, indeed, from reverting to the old system of inducing recruits to enlist by offering a bounty. The result of offering a large bounty to the recruits to enlist at home was that you tempted men who had no real or natural inclination to enlist at all. with the effect that a large number of recruits enlisted merely for the sake of the bounty; served but for a very short time; and, having got the bounty, subsequently deserted, and so robbed the country, not only of a certain amount of pay, but also, in sonic cases, of a large bounty. Now, the measure of offering a bounty to men actually serving in India who are entitled to their discharge, and who would cost the Government of India a considerable sum of money to take home and replace, is a very different operation indeed; and one which appears to me perfectly legitimate, both in regard to the soldier and to the Government themselves. Well, Sir, at home a bounty of £2 has always been offered to men on embarkation for foreign service who were willing to re-engage for a certain period of service abroad. The bounty has been extended to men who are willing to re-engage, so as to give at least five years' service abroad. It is now given to all men of more than three, and less than seven years' service, if they extend their service to 12 years with the Colours. The result of these measures has been that the largest number of recruits ever enlisted was enlisted last year—namely, 33,096. The new system has been in operation only eight months. It it had been in operation for a whole 3'ear the number would probably have been about 37,000. In 1882 the number was 23,802; and, as compared with the year 1882, the difference of 9,300 probably represents the number of men between the ages of 18 and 19, and between the heights of 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 4 inches, who, as I have stated, were likely, in the opinion of the commanding officers and the medical officers, to make efficient and useful soldiers. I do not think I need trouble the Committee with the number of recruits for each arm of the Service; but I can give it if required. In the Cavalry no difficulty whatever has been experienced in keeping the Force up to the strength required in order to supply the larger number of vacancies caused by 106 short service in the Army. The system which was introduced last 3'ear in the Guards has succeeded very well. The Guards were last year nearly 1,000 below the Establishment; now they are only 100 below the Establishment. The Infantry of the Line reached the lowest point in July, 1883, when they were 8,717 below the Establishment. On the 1st of January of this Year they were 5,812 below the Establishment, and now they are about 5,347 below it.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I am coming to the Artillery. There is a small increase in the number of recruits. In 1882, 3,982 were enlisted, and in 1883, 4,022. The deficiency in July, 1883, was 1,221; now it is about 1,012. That deficiency, which is certainly to be regretted, is entirely among the gunners. The measures which I have described had the effect of inducing 6,335 men to state in India and to take the bounty offered to them. Of these, only 1,000 would have come home this year; and, therefore, it is only to the extent of 1,000 that we have gained by this measure. I believe that the number of men who would have taken their discharges, but who have extended their service in the ensuing year, will be nearer 2,000. The total waste of the Army in the last year is given in the Appendix to the Return of the Inspector General of Recruiting.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
There is a total deficiency, in all arms ml all ranks, of 2,195. I was proceeding to state what was the waste of the Army in 1883. The gross numbers were 47,433; but from these numbers ought to be deducted 8,500 men, who at the beginning of the year had been demobilized, and about 4,000 who would have gone into the Reserve about the end of 1882. but were retained under the Colours when the Reserve was called out. Exclusive of these, there went into the Reserve 10,940 in the last year. That was, of course, not waste in the true sense of the word. 6,496 men were discharged from long service, after 18 or 21 years' service. The discharges on this account will, in future years, somewhat decrease. 1,707 men died, being 107 the smallest number during the last 20 years. 3,374 invalids were discharged, also the smallest number during the last 20 years. 3,618 took their discharge by purchase; and 818 were freed from service by indulgence. There is some increase under that head. Men are now able, in a certain time, to obtain their discharge on payment of £10; and I think it is not unsatisfactory that a class of men exists who are able to pay that sum for their discharge, instead of deserting, as formerly was the case, if they did not find service in the Army to their taste. 1,059 men have been discharged for misconduct; and this is the lowest figure since 1871. Before that date the statistics were not so compiled that numbers can be compared. I do not think I need mention the miscellaneous sources of waste; but the net desertions have amounted to 2,550. That is the smallest number since 1870, with the exception of the years 1875 and 1879. The period for which a soldier is struck off the roll as a deserter has been reduced from two months to 21 days. There is, I am happy to say, a steady decrease in the number of desertions, and that decrease in the past year is noticeable when the very large number of recruits enlisted is taken into account, because it has always been found that the largest number of desertions takes place in the first year of the soldier's service. In 1883 the net loss by desertions was only 6.8 per cent of the total number of recruits; in 1882 the loss was 11 per cent, and the average for the last 20 years has been 13 per cent. There is, therefore, I think, a considerable and very satisfactory reduction in the rate of desertions from the Army. Now, Sir, I think I have already pointed out that, although the new Regulations were only in force for eight months of last year, they have more than kept down the normal depletion going on during the same period. The Estimate for 1884–5 is that 30,700 recruits will be required to replace 12,000 men entering into the Reserve, and 18.000 who will leave the Army from other causes. That will require recruiting "at the rate of 600 per week. Up till now we have been recruiting at the rate of 800 per week. We cannot expect that that rate will be maintained throughout the whole year; but we may fairly expect that the requirements of the year will 108 be fully met, and that, in addition, a balance will be maintained which will nearly, if not altogether, replace the deficiency that has taken place. It is further to be noted that We are now discharging into the Reserve men who had given six years' service with the Colours. The men who enlisted in 1881 and subsequent years will serve for seven years with the Colours; and, consequently, the number which we shall lose annually will be smaller than at present. Our recruiting requirements, of course, will diminish in proportion to the number of men who extend for longer service in the Army; but, notwithstanding this, I admit that the number of recruits that will be required in the present and future years is still very large. It is necessary to relax no effort to establish the popularity of the Service throughout the country, and to remove—this is a most important point—any of the causes which can be removed, and which tend to make the service of the Army unpopular. The attention of the Military Authorities is still devoted to this subject; and although much has been done, something still remains to be done to make the condition of the soldier's service—especially on his first enlistment—more popular and loss irksome than it has hitherto been found. As to the sources from which the recruits during the year have been drawn, the Militia has supplied 12,450 men. That fact I have seen adverted to as simply a destruction of the Militia for the benefit of the Army. I do not think it can be regarded at all in that light. The Militia has always been looked upon as a legitimate source for recruiting the Army; and it is satisfactory to see so large a number of men passing through the Militia to the Army, because it tends to establish and give effect to a system which we are now attempting to organize in our Army—that is to say, the territorial system—and to establish more closely the union and connection between the Militia and the Line battalions, which will, practically, form one territorial regiment. Fifty-one per cent of those recruits who came from the Militia enlisted for the Line battalions of their own regiments; and there were also 1,392 recruits who enlisted in the past year from a source which, I think, is extremely satisfactory—from the Volunteers. I think it says much for the increasing popularity of the 109 Service that men should he found in increasing numbers coming forward to enlist from a force like that—namely, the Volunteers. The remainder of the recruits enlisted from the civil population. Fifteen districts supplied over 80 per cent, 43 (including those 15) districts over 50 per cent, and 19 districts less than 50 per cent of the numbers required for their respective territorial regiments. In 50 out of the 62 regimental districts the commanding officers report that the regiments connected with the districts are becoming more and more locally identified with those districts. Now, Sir, I think I have shown that the result of the measures taken to increase the quantity of recruits may fairly be considered satisfactory. Quality, of course, is a still more important consideration than quantity. With reference to the question as to how the medical officers and the recruiting officers are discharging with judgment the discretion they possess of enlisting the men we need, and who come up to the authorized standards, I may say that the rejection of men subjecting themselves to examination was last year 399 per 1,000 men against 424 per 1,000 in 1882. That is not a large decrease, and does not tend to show that the commanding officers have been lax in the discharge of their duty. There are about 10,000 specially enlisted men, of whom about 7,000 are between 18 and 19 years of age. Formerly, 33 inches was the standard of chest measurement required for a recruit. If he came up to that standard, and was not in other respects physically unfit—if he had no physical defect—the recruiting officer would have been bound to take him. Now the standard remains as before; but the medical officer has a discretion to take a man below the standard if he thinks he is likely to make a good soldier. The General Officers commanding have, in some instances, no doubt, complained of the youth of the recruits they have inspected, but their Reports have not been unfavourable upon the whole; and the whole of the recruits, with the exception of 200 or 300 whose cases are being thoroughly investigated, have been inspected. The Reports of the commanding officers at the depôts show that in 29 districts they considered the recruits good; in 29 fair; in four they wore con- 110 sidered doubtful; and in 15 unfavourable. There can be no doubt, as I have previously said, that we are at present enlisting a younger class of men, and in some respects a class of men of somewhat inferior physique to those of some years ago. But it does not at all follow that men of between 18 and 19 are less fit or less qualified to become good soldiers than older men. It is necessary that we should obtain recruits at the ages at which they will come; and, how-over much we may desire to obtain older men, it is not under a voluntary system of enlistment practically possible to obtain them after these ages. I very much doubt whether we could obtain many more, unless we were prepared to pay a great deal more. The age of 18 or 19 is precisely the age at which the recruit is to be obtained, for he has not yet made up his mind as to his future occupation or profession in life; and if you wait yon will very likely find he has adopted some other occupation, and if you want him then you will not be able to get him. Sir, I said I would give the Committee some figures as to the service of the Army at home and abroad. I thoroughly admit, and I have assorted, that no one could have any reasonable doubt that in our short-service system a large proportion of the Army serving at home is, and must be, composed of young troops. The figures which I shall give to the Committee refer only to the Infantry of the Line. There were, on the 1st of January, 43,745 men of the Line serving at home. Of these, 18,404 were of under one year's service; but those figures do not represent all, or even mainly, men who are not fit for active service. The Return does not show the number of trained recruits; but the number of wilder one year's service is, as I have stated, 18,404. Then there were at home of short-service men 15,373 of over one year's service; and the remainder of the Infantry serving at homo was composed of 4,091 long-service men, and 5,877 re-engaged men of short service. But with regard to that portion of the Army which serves abroad, we shall find that it shows a very different state of things; and what I think we have to complain of is, that the critics of the Army in this House, and in the country generally, seem to ignore altogether the condition of the Army abroad, and to turn all their attention to the Army at 111 home, which I say must always, to a great extent, be composed of recruits. With regard, then, to our Army abroad, there were, on the 1st of January, 53,696 Infantry of the Line in India and abroad, of whom 1,832 were under one year's service, and 36,308 over one year's service—short-service men—the remainder being composed of 10,372 long-service men, and 5,184 re-engaged men. I have given the figures showing the service of the men who were engaged in the recent actions in the Soudan. Everybody admits that those soldiers were as good and as efficient specimens of British Infantry as the Army has produced up to the present time. But they were the very recruits—precisely the same men—who have been complained of and cavilled at and abused in this House, and it is in exactly the same way that the recruits enlisted under the recent system are depreciated. I say that complaints are constantly made of the inefficiency, and what is described as the miserable character, of the recruits who are being enlisted, but who invariably, when active service is required of them, do perfectly well. I have here an Actuarial Report made the other day upon the proportion of men fully and partly trained under a long-service and short-service system respectively. I will not trouble the Committee with all the details; but the result arrived at is, that with equal Establishments, in the 47 weakest battalions at homo the proportion during peace of untrained, or only partly trained, men would be 32 per cent in the long-service Army, and 65½ per cent under the short-service system. In time of war, however, the Reserve would, under the short-service system, be called out—say, 46,000 thoroughly trained soldiers; and then the proportion, if these men were divided equally amongst the battalions at home, would fall in the weak battalions from 65½ to 31 per cent of untrained, or only partly trained, soldiers; while under the long-service system it would be either impossible to fill up the Establishment at all, or, if it were filled up, the percentage of untrained or partly-trained men would at once be raised to 68. Therefore, this system of short service, although it gives us an Army at home which is, during ordinary times, largely composed of recruits, yet gives 112 us an Army abroad whose weakest battalions are composed of men who are not partly trained, but who are all in. The very prime of life and fully-trained; soldiers. As to the Establishment of; the present and next year, the effective strength, on the 1st of July, 1883—at which date about the lowest point of; last year was reached—was 154,530 rank and file; and on the 1st of January in the present year it was 108,029, or 7,357 below the increased Establishment of last year. But, as I endeavoured; to explain last year, our Establishments are maximum Establishments, and we cannot go beyond them; and, consequently, owing to the drain which takes place in the winter months, when the drafts go out to India, the Army must be at the latter part of that time, and for some time afterwards, considerably below its Establishment; because, although recruiting is tolerably constant throughout the year, the deficiency can only be made good by a very gradual process. We added, last year, 2,600 men to the Establishment, for the purpose of raising the strength of the lowest battalions from 450 to 520; but, as I explained at the time, we did not ask the House to vote any additional money for that increase of Establishment, because, on the facts which I put forward, we considered it impossible that the Army could, on an average, throughout the year, be up to the Establishment nominally voted by Parliament. Well, Sir, in the present year I shall have to ask the Committee to sanction an Establishment somewhat increased on that of last year, owing to the disturbance of normal arrangements consequent upon the occupation of Egypt. The normal distribution is 50 battalions in India, 19 in the Colonies, and 72 at home. I am not referring to those battalions which have; been specially sent to undertake operations in the Soudan, and which, perhaps, may return before long; but before those additional battalions were sent, there were six battalions in Egypt, which, under normal circumstances, ought to be at home, and there is also half a battalion which, under the same circumstances, would be at Malta. We have, therefore, to provide, during the continuance of this occupation, for 75 battalions abroad and 66 at home. One of these battalions abroad is a single bat- 113 talion regiment. Under ordinary arrangements, every battalion abroad ought to be fed by its depôt and by the corresponding battalion at home; but there are now four regiments which have both their battalions abroad, and which have to be fed entirely from the homo depôt. The demand on the depôt is thus doubled, while the supply is reduced, through the absence of the home battalion. We propose to meet this difficulty, in the first place, by withdrawing one battalion from the garrison at Halifax. This is a plan which has boon long under consideration. The garrison is, I believe, normally fixed at two battalions, one of which will be withdrawn. The next step we propose to take is to increase the depôts of those regiments which have both battalions abroad. Two of these will be increased to 300, and one to 600; While the depôt of the single battalion regiment will be raised from 50 to 200 rank and file. The foreign battalion of the remaining regiment will be sent home shortly, and it is therefore unnecessary to make for it any special provision. We also propose to make an addition to the regimental Establishment at home. Last year the occupation of Egypt was considered to be a temporary and provisional one, and the battalions there were considered as still forming part of the First Army Corps, and no special measures were taken to replace them. Now, however, that the necessity for the occupation of Egypt appears likely to be somewhat prolonged, it is proposed to place the battalions in Egypt on the ordinary Colonial Establishment of 800 strong, and to raise a corresponding number of battalions at home to take their place in the First Army Corps. The total increase that will be necessary for these purposes is 2,400 men. There will inevitably be a deficiency, and probably a considerable deficiency, upon this increased Establishment during some period of the year; but if the Committee grant the increased Establishment which we ask, it will enable us to recruit up to a higher maximum, in order to make more satisfactory and certain provision for the drafts that will be required by battalions abroad. The Reserve—including the Reserve moil who were serving with the Colours—numbered on the 1st of January, 1883, 114 29,022, as against 34,589 on the 1st of January in the present year; and it will probably exceed 40,000 in the course of the your, besides the supplementary Reserve of 2,500 men approved by Parliament last year. The Militia Reserve was 31,000 at the last training, which is its full strength There will, accordingly, in the course of the present year, be an available Reserve of 66,000 men. I have already referred to the deficiency in the Artillery. Some changes in organization have been made for the purpose of increasing the Establishment. Recruits, it is said, are deterred from enlisting into the Artillery by the frequent changes from battery to battery, which make it almost impossible for a man to have any settled home in that branch of the Service. In the first place, he enlists in the local Artillery depôt; from that he joins a home service battery, and he is sent thence in a draft to supply the requirements of a foreign service battery. It is now proposed to form four Field Artillery depôts—one in Ireland and three in England—to which recruits will be sent from the local Artillery depôt, and from which foreign drafts will be supplied. The additional depôts will require an establishment of 20 officers and 1,400 men; but no additional expenditure will be proposed. Since the reduction of Horse Artillery in India, the proportion of that arm maintained in this country has been in excess of the authorized proportion to other arms. It has been for some time under consideration to make some reduction in that arm; and it has now been decided to reduce two batteries. It is also intended to reduce three four-gun field batteries, which have been used only as training depôts, a service which can be more efficiently accomplished by the "establishment of depôts, which will be professedly training depôts, and not service batteries. The service batteries will also, by this measure, be made much more efficient, because, except in rare and exceptional circumstances, they will not have to furnish drafts for the batteries abroad. In the Infantry, as I mentioned last year, a system of musketry instruction by officers of the regiment has been adopted. The Musketry Instructors have been abolished; and the companies are now 115 not only instructed in drill, but also in musketry, by their own officers. That change, I believe, has been well received both by regimental officers and commanding officers, and the result has boon fully approved by the General Officers commanding districts. It is necessary to say a word or two as to the unusual demand for officers in the year 1883. The demand for the Indian Staff Corps, usually satisfied with less than 100 officers, was, in 1883, 166; and there has also boon a large number of officers required for service in the Egyptian Army. The abnormal vacancies number about 80, while, at the same time, the supply of officers has lessened, the numbers in the Royal Military College and in the Militia having been reduced in previous years, in order to allow for the absorption of officers rendered supernumerary by the measures of July, 1881. The admissions from Sandhurst and from the Militia were reduced by 60 in each case. The College at Sandhurst is, I believe now full; but the course of preparation there takes one year, and only a reduced number of cadets are ready for commissions. In order to moot this exceptional demand for officers, we have had recourse to the only means open to us, and have increased the number of commissions to be granted to officers of the Militia from 80 to 131. There does not appear to be any objection to this course; because the Reports of the Examinations for the Militia are very favourable. Twenty commissions have also been granted to cadets of one term only at Sandhurst, on the report of their fitness by the authorities of that Institution. There are still several vacancies in the Cavalry and Infantry; but I believe that the full number of about 300 will be obtained from Sandhurst in the course of the present year. Certain changes have been made with regard to the entrance examinations at Sandhurst, and they have been made with two objects—first, to secure a sufficient number of candidates for the Cavalry; and, secondly, to check cramming—I will not say altogether, but to check what appear to us to be its most objectionable features. Candidates, on entering, will put down their names on separate lists for Infantry, or Cavalry, or both; so that a man may secure a commission, by a somewhat 116 smaller number of marks than would otherwise have been the case with regard to the Infantry examination. It is found, or be believed, that there are two subjects most capable of being crammed for—English literature and natural science. An alteration has now been made, and in future more weight will be given to modern languages and mathematics, which are subjects which must be thoroughly taught. I believe my hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) has some suggestion to make, when the proper time arrives, in regard to the change in reference to awarding marks for natural science. The examinations for promotion I have already referred to, and it is not necessary that I should refer to the question again. As to the Militia, in 1883 the number of recruits for Militia was 35,524, being 9,000 in excess of the number recruited in 1882. The enlistment of 5,808 of the men recruited was duo to the fact that recruiting has been re-opened in Ireland. The re-engagements in the Militia amount to 9,171. That is satisfactory, as showing the popularity of the Force. The drain on them is very great, 12,450 Militiamen have joined the Regular Army from that Force in the year. The Militia Reserve amounted to 31,246 at the last training. It is now at about its authorized strength. The question of Militia enlistments is complicated, but a uniform system has now been adopted; and though it is objected to by some commanding officers, the former system did not work advantageously, and the present system is, on the whole, I believed, satisfactory. As I have said, the subject is one of a complicated character, and I think I had better postpone any statement in regard to it until we come to the Militia Vote. The Reports which we have received from the Yeomanry are extremely favourable; though it is a little below its establishment—a fact which may be due to the recent agricultural depression. The efficiency of the Force is highly satisfactory, and very much greater than many people may be inclined to believe. The inspecting officer of the Northern District, who has just loft his regiment in India, where he had been accustomed to smart Cavalry regiments, has recorded his satisfaction and astonishment at finding the efficiency of the Yeomanry so far 117 exceeding his anticipations. He says that in a very short time it would be made a most valuable and trustworthy body. I had hoped it might have been possible for me to announce some measures for improving the efficiency of the Yeomanry; but I will not enter into any details until we come to the Yeomanry Vote. The Volunteers have made satisfactory progress, both as regards their number and efficiency. The total enrolled numbers are 209,305, being an increase of 2,029 over the previous year. The efficients are 202,428, showing an increase of 3,054. The officers and noncommissioned officers who are classed as efficient are 17,928, being an increase of 307. 485 have passed a tactical examination. There has recently been another tactical examination which a large number of officers have passed. A good deal of interest has been excited in the Volunteer Force by the delay in the issue of the Martini-Henry rifle. The cause of the delay has been the uncertainty about the weapon with which the Infantry of the Line and Militia is to be armed in future. The Committee will be aware that the Martini-Henry has for some time been under the consideration of a special Committee; and it is hoped that its Report will shortly be received. If, as I anticipate, the Committee to which I have referred is able to make a Report within a comparatively short time, it will be, I believe, in favour of a modification of the present arm. Until that Report is made I do not think it will be in our power, in the present year, to make any considerable issue of Martini-Henry rifles and ammunition to the Volunteer Corps. The Militia is already armed with the Martini-Henry rifle; and if we were to manufacture the present Martini-Henry for issue to the Volunteers, we might probably find that a subsequent change of arms would materially increase our stock of arms beyond what is absolutely necessary. It is hoped that in a very short time a decision will have been arrived at. In saying this, I am bound to say also that, in my view, the process must be gradual, and the Vote for small arms will remain nearly the same as last year. I hope that by the time we arrive at the Volunteer Vote it may be in my power to make a statement more in detail. The next point to which I wish to refer is the Army 118 Hospital Corps. Last year a Committee, presided over by Lord Morley, reported that the members of the Corps to which I refer were very inefficiently trained as cooks and nurses; and in consequence schools of cookery have been established at Aldershot, Netley, and the Herbert Hospital, in order that the members of the Corps may have training in largo hospitals before they are detailed for duty in the small station hospitals. I hope that before long we shall have men in the Army Hospital Corps who will themselves be competent to act as instructors, and be able to give the necessary training, not only in the schools, but in the Army hospitals generally. A further cause of the inadequacy of the present body is that the Establishment is only just sufficient for the wants of the existing hospitals. The consequence has been that recruits, after a short course of training at Aldershot, have had to be sent to act as attendants on the sick without experience in ward duties. The Service requires much more; and it is quite insufficient to send nurses to the small station hospitals without giving them an opportunity of going through the ward training of a large hospital. It is proposed, in the present Estimates, to add 200 men to the Army Hospital Corps. We hope that addition will enable us to give to the men of that Corps a certain period of training in one of the large hospitals before they undertake their duties in smaller station hospitals, where they cannot obtain so much experience. With regard to the Army Medical Department, we propose to make such an alteration in the Regulations as will enable us to call upon officers, as in other branches of the Service, to prove by examination their fitness for promotion to the rank of surgeon-major. It is thought that as now regimental officers are obliged to show their fitness for promotion by undergoing an examination, it is only right and just that the fitness of the medical officers should also be tested by examination in professional subjects with which they ought to be well acquainted, before being promoted to the higher ranks of the Service. It is also intended to take such steps as shall put an end to the present relations, which are somewhat anomalous, between the Army Medical Department and the Army Hospital 119 Corps. The subject is referred to in the Report of the Committee, and I will not go further into detail upon it. I do not I know if it is possible to make any considerable alteration in the organization; but it is desired that the Army Medical Department and the Army Hospital Corps should form one service only, and that the officers of the Army Medical Department should stand to the men of the Army Hospital Corps in exactly the same relation as the Commissariat and Transport Staff stand in relation to the men of the Commissariat and Transport Corps. Some slight alterations in existing arrangements may be necessary in order to bring about the reform to which I am referring; but I hope no real difficulty will be found to exist in the way of bringing the two branches of the Service into unity, which does not exist at present in a perfectly satisfactory form. With regard to the supply of heavy guns for the Navy, fair progress has been made in the present year. During the present and the past two years we have been undergoing a double transition; first, from the muzzle-loader to the breech-loader; and, in the next place, in the material, from wrought iron to steel. Twenty years ago another transition took place, which was of an exactly opposite character. Twenty years ago we reverted from the breech -loader, the more complicated gun, to the muzzle-loader, or more simple gun, retaining the same material of manufacture. At that time the largest guns in the Service were of 7 tons weight, firing 30 lbs. of powder. In the change from the muzzle-loader to the breech-loader the guns are of 40 tons weight, firing 400 lbs. of powder. The Committee may, therefore, imagine what has been the difficulty; and the necessity there has been for hesitation and caution in undergoing such a transition under such circumstances. The main difficulty has been to obtain sufficiently large steel-forgings for these immense weapons. There are in France and Germany several firms which have been able to supply steel-forgings of the size, and also of the quality, required for these guns; but up to the present time the demand has been a new one to the English trade and there has been great difficulty in obtaining from the English trade steel forgings of the size and quality required. We hare supplied, or in a few days shall 120 have supplied, to the Navy 10 guns of 43 tons and 12-inch bore; 18 of 18 tons and 9-inch bore; 8 of 18 tons and 8-inch bore; 171 of 4 tons and 6-inch bore; besides 190 smaller guns of 2 tons and under, making a total of nearly 400 new breech-loading guns. Those first in hand were of mixed steel and wrought iron, while the later guns are entirely of steel, There has been some advantage in the delay in the adoption of the new pattern of breech-loading ordnance. We have had the advantage of the experience gained by the French and other Powers; and it is believed that we have now obtained a system of breech-loading guns of a simple and efficient character. In addition to the guns I have enumerated, there are in hand, under construction for the Navy, 3 guns of 110 tons, 4 of 63 tons, and 3 of 43 tons, besides a very largo number of smaller guns in various stages of progress. At the same time, there are under construction for the Land Service 10 guns of 43 tons, 4 of 26 tons, and other guns of smaller size. [Mr. W.H. SMITH: Are the 110-ton guns steel guns?] All such gnus now being constructed are of steel, and they are being constructed at Elswick. The power of the individual guns in the British Service is believed to be rather more than equal weight for weight to those in the Service of any other country, either France or Italy. This result has been obtained by the special dimensions of the chamber and the bore, which allow the largest charge of powder to be consumed, and which also enable the fullest effect to be given to the recent improvements in the manufacture of gunpowder for the largest guns. The 110-ton guns will be the most powerful guns in the world; but although this progress is being made we are confronted with a new difficulty. The improvements in the armour-plating which is opposed to these guns have been commensurate with, if not greater than, the improvements in the power of the guns. Armour plates are now constructed either faced with steel or altogether composed of steel, and plates are being now manufactured which cannot be pierced by any guns in existence in the world. It is doubtful, at the present moment, in what direction the attack will have to be developed in order to meet the increased power of defence. It. is possible that even still heavier guns 121 will be required, although it is doubtful whether we have not now nearly reached the limit in the size of the guns. On the other hand, the necessary power may have to be sought for in increased velocity given to the projectile of the same size. I have now only to say a few words about, the field guns. The breech-loading 12-pounder gun has been undergoing a long series of experiments. That is believed to be the most powerful weapon of its class in the world. The Ordnance Committee have been conducting trials of these guns, and they are believed to be thoroughly satisfied as to the gun itself; but further experiments are to be made with respect to carriage. Until the guns have had a further practical trial we do not propose to enter on any large manufacture. We propose to arm three batteries with these guns in the course of the present year; and if they answer our expectations we propose to re-arm the Field Artillery with them. The 13-pounder muzzle-loading guns, which the Field Artillery now have, are considered to be superior to the French, German, or Italian guns. As the House decided some time ago to appoint a Committee to inquire into the Commissariat and Transport organization, it will be hardly necessary that I should say anything upon that subject now. I should like, however, to mention that before the appointment of that Committee by the House, a Military Departmental Committee had been appointed by the War Office to investigate some questions of the same kind. I think there is no reason why these two Committees should not pursue their inquiries side by side; but until we come to a later period of the discussion on these Votes it will be as well to defer further observations on the question. I should not like, however, to pass by the subject of stores and supply without referring, in one or two words, to the great credit that is duo to the General Officers and Staff in Egypt, and to the Departmental Officers, for the manner in which, in the recent operations in Egypt, their arrangements were carried out. The telegram instructing the General Officers to organize the transport was only received in Cairo on the 12th of February. On the 18th of February the whole Expeditionary Force—consisting of troops, horses, baggage animals, and stores—was despatched from Cairo. The Naval 122 Transport met them at Suez; and the whole force—a compact and efficient force—was disembarked at the base of operations without difficulty. Some difficulty was experienced at first in the supply of camels, and a still greater difficulty in getting drivers; but a body of 330 men was finally obtained, partly from the drivers of the Egyptian Army, and partly from Natives, of whom there were 150 in the 330. The total strength of the force was about 4,082 men, with 731 horses, 780 camels, and 619 mules; and I think the promptitude with which that force was got together was very creditable to the Departments concerned. That they were able to accomplish it was due to the fact that the reserve of supplies and equipment had been fully maintained; and immediately after the despatch of that force steps were taken to fill up the supplies in Egypt. The only other subject upon which I wish to say a few words is Vote 13, for Fortifications. The defences of the Naval ports are practically complete. There may be some changes in their armament; but they will involve no serious question of construction of works. In connection with this subject, it has been suggested from time to time that Volunteers might be made use of for the protection of our mercantile harbours. That suggestion has been coldly received, on the ground that specially trained men were required; but a remarkable and successful experiment has lately been concluded with the assistance of, and principally at the instigation of, the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr. C. M. Palmer), and it has been shown by the experiment on the Tyne last year that this work could be done by Volunteers, with the assistance of a few engineers. The officer in charge of that experiment reported that after a short training of some 50 Volunteers of Durham the work could be done by the Volunteers themselves, and they could be left to look after the protection of their own waters. It is very much to be hoped that the example which has been sot by the hon. Member for North Durham, and the success which attended his efforts, will be imitated in other directions, and that the services of the Volunteer engineers will be utilized in this very important Government service. There is nothing further that requires special 123 attention in this Vote. Two important works are about to be commenced—one a barracks in Dublin, where the sanitary condition of the barracks is bad; and, secondly, a new general hospital at Malta. We hope to be able to make a commencement in both of those works in the course of the present year. Sir, I have only now to thank the Committee for the patience with which they have listened to me at this extremely inconvenient hour of the evening (1.20 A.M.). I trust it will not be considered necessary to resume the discussion after the Statement which I have now boon permitted to make, as there will be opportunities on the other Votes for asking explanations which I fully admit the Committee are entitled to receive, and which I shall be most willing to offer. I trust it may be found possible to agree to this Vote immediately.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 140,314, 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 1885.
I only rise for the purpose of saying a single word. I listened with great attention to the interesting statement of the noble Marquess; and, looking at the importance of that statement, I think he can hardly desire that, at this hour of the night, we should proceed further with the discussion. Naturally, on the first night of the Army Estimates many questions of great interest arise. Upon many of these the noble Marquess has touched; but there still remain others of importance to be dealt with; and it must be remembered, when we are told that we shall have opportunities of discussing general questions affecting the Army on other Votes, that the same tiling was said on a previous occasion, and that we were not so able to discuss general matters. No one can blame the noble Marquess; but the fact remains the same, that the second opportunity we had of discussing Army matters last year was a Saturday in August.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Colonel Stanley.)124
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
It is absolutely necessary that we should take this first Vote. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members say "No, no;" but it is absolutely necessary, in order that the Ways and Means Act should be passed in time, that one Vote in the Army Estimates should be taken now. Unless it is taken now, I do not know when it can be taken before the end of the financial year. To-morrow the House meets, by general agreement, at 2 o'clock, to discuss the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Bill; and, of course, it is impossible to hope to continue the discussion of the Vote at a reasonable hour at the Night Sitting. Wednesday does not belong to us, and on Thursday we have the Navy Estimates. I hope that the understanding which has been arrived at in past years, to the effect that the second debate shall be taken, not in August, but at some reasonable time, may be come to to-night on the same terms as in previous Sessions, which were that on the second Vote the whole question of Army organization, and kindred matters may be discussed. I repeat, that it is absolutely necessary, in order to make proper provision for Army expenditure before the end of the financial year, that one Vote should be taken in the Army Estimates and one in the Navy Estimates this week. As I say, the course I suggest was agreed to last year, the second discussion taking place, not as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Stanley) says, in August, but early in the Session.
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the position in which they were placed. The noble Marquess had made an important statement, not only on matters which could be discussed on the second Vote, but on other branches of the Estimates. He had made a most important statement as to the Militia, and had asked the Committee to defer the discussion upon it until they came to the Vote itself; but he (Earl Percy) should like to ask when the Militia and Volunteer Votes were likely to be taken if the Committee agreed to the course proposed? The Chancellor of the Exchequer told them it was absolutely necessary that they should pass one Vote to-night; therefore, it came to this—that the Government, knowing how vital it was that the Estimates should be 125 taken, had deliberately wasted two nights on the. discussion of the Representation of the People Bill. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, they had employed two nights in the discussion of that Bill, which, measure might very well have been put off in the interests of the Army Estimates, to allow opportunities for the general discussion of matters other than those which could be dealt with on the second Vote. He trusted the Committee would not pass the Vote before them without a pledge from the Government that not only the second Vote, but that all the important Votes in the Army Estimates would be taken on some specified early day. There was no greater right possessed by the House of Commons, and none that it behoved them more to cherish, than that of thoroughly examining and discussing the Estimates.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, the first Vote for Men, which the noble Marquess wished them to take to-night, was for the sum of £4,500,000. The Government had had some weeks—since the beginning of the Session, in fact—to arrange this work; but now, at half-past 1, on the first occasion they had had the Army Estimates before them, they were told it was absolutely necessary the Committee should pass the first Vote. It seemed to him that the functions of the Committee were becoming little better than a farce. The Committee sat for the purpose of properly considering and examining the Estimates; but what proper criticism could there be at that hour of the morning, seeing that the noble Marquess had only just resumed his seat? The Committee had hardly had time to realize the proposals of the noble Marquess and the changes which were to be introduced into the military system. The Vote with regard to the Medical Department, and some Votes affecting other Departments, were very important; and probably the Government would be able in the future to find time for their discussion; but the whole of the Army organizations came under this first Vote, and there wore many things covered by it which could not be properly discussed on the second Vote. The next Vote was for Divine Service, and what a farce it would be to discuss the details of military organization on such a Vote as that for the Chaplaincy Department. He would suggest to the Chancellor of the 126 Exchequer the desirability of his taking to-night, not £-4,500,000 without discussion, but some reasonable sum on account. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head. He (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) had expected that he would do so; but he had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman would find his suggestion a not altogether unreasonable one, if hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House would show something like determination and resolution in insisting on adequate discussion before these enormous Votes were passed.
THE MARQUESS or HARTINGTON
Perhaps the Committee will allow mo to point out that, practically, at all events of recent years, the first Vote in the Army Estimates has been granted to the Government merely as a Vote on Account, the general discussion having been postponed to another occasion. Last year, at all events, the Committee had nothing to complain of in our complying with the demands made for opportunities for full discussion of the Army Estimates. The Estimates were moved on the 12th of March; they were again discussed for a whole night on the 24th of March; and they were a third time discussed on the 4th of June. [Mr. ARTHUR O'CONNOR: No; on the 18th of August.] Yes; on the I8th of August. But the Votes never had an opportunity of being passed at an early date, although there were early discussions. I quite admit what was said by the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor), that the next Vote in the Estimates does not afford the best opportunity for the discussion of all those important matters which may have to be considered the next time the Estimates are discussed; but it would be quite possible for the next Vote taken to be one upon which we could take a general discussion.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
ventured to hope that the Committee would not take as the first Vote the Vote either for men or for money. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that there was no necessity for obtaining the grant for men to-night, and the Mutiny Act could not be brought in before April.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
What I said was that the Statute at present regu- 127 lating the Army ceases to operate towards the end of April. The measure will be brought in considerably before that time.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, that, as he understood it, the Mutiny Bill could not be brought in until a late period in April, and they wore now only at the 17th of March. If they were to grant £4,500,000 to the Government, they know perfectly well that the Government had power to spread that sum over the whole of the Army Estimates, and to render it the equivalent of a Vote on Account. But the Committee had not received any intimation from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a Vote on Account was likely to be taken. It seemed to him (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) that if they gave the Government Vote 11—the Clothing Vote—£711,082, that Vote might be discussed to-night; and they would then have, on a future occasion, a fair opportunity for discussing the whole question of the men, and all those matters which the noble Marquess had dealt with in his statement. As he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) understood it, all that the Government actually required was that there should be a sum voted this month, so as to enable them to pay any money that might be wanted in the month commencing with the 1st proximo. The condition of the Institution at Pimlico itself required a careful consideration. He ventured, at any rate, to hope that hon. Friends whom he saw sitting there that night would not allow the Vote before them to pass; because, although they had had some discussion, they knew perfectly well what the exigencies of the Government would be, and that they would have the Representation of the People Bill and other Bills perpetually pushed forward, thus relegating all these Estimates to the end of the Session, when there would be no adequate opportunity for that thorough discussion which the Committee were entitled to insist upon.
said, he should like to ask the noble Marquess if he could give any pledge that a Vote which interested the House very much, and which was only taken last year, on the 18th of August—namely, the Volunteer Vote—would be taken before that date this Session? Or would the noble Marquess give an assurance that when the Volunteer ques- 128 tion and other matters were alluded to, hon. Members would not be ruled out of Order?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that no one wished to embarrass the financial arrangements of the Government; but what objection could there be to continuing tins discussion on Thursday, and taking the Naval Vote on Monday? Would that be too late for the passing of the Consolidated Fund Bill?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
Yes; that arrangement would throw us too late. I gave the House, the other night, the different stages at which the Bill would have to be taken day by day. If the Navy Estimates were not taken this day week, it would not be possible for the Royal Assent to be obtained to the Consolidated Fund Bill next week.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
would suggest that the naval discussion should be taken on the Committee stage of the Bill, which would probably be on Tuesday. The Bill might be read a third time on Wednesday, and it would still be possible to pass the Bill and obtain the Royal Assent next week. A similar course had been adopted before.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
I looked very carefully into that matter, and I found that it would not be possible to carry out the suggestion, even by sitting on Saturday. It is my duty, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to inform myself on matters of this kind; and I can assure the Committee it is absolutely necessary that one Army Vote should be taken tonight. With regard to what has been suggested as to the second Vote, I think we ought to give the same undertaking which we gave last year, which was that between Easter and Whitsuntide there would be an evening given for the discussion of the Army Estimates. Tonight, as the Committee knows, we did not reach the noble Marquess's statement until nearly midnight. It is possible to interpose questions relating to the Army before the Speaker leaves the Chair; and I must say that during the last year or two that practice has been carried to an extreme point, because it has been late before the Estimates could be proposed. For 15 or 20 years of my life in this House, it used to be the practice to have the speech introducing the Army or Navy Estimates no later than half- 129 past 5 or 6 o'clock; even that, in former days, was considered a very late hour. Now, however, we have got into the habit of taking the Minister's statement' late at night. I remember on one occasion, When the House granted me its indulgence, rising to propose the Army Estimates between 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was very fond of laying down the law on these subjects; but, if his memory served him right, it had frequently been the practice to take two stages of a Money Bill on one day in this House, and two stages in the House of Lords.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
Let me, at once, say that we do propose to take two stages in one day in the House of Lords; but I think financial authorities sitting by the side of the right hon. Gentleman will be able to convince him that we have never taken two stages of a Money Bill on the same day in this House.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that he had been anxious to make arrangements for the convenience of the House; but would it not have been as easy for the right hon. Gentleman to have made those arrangements last week as this week? Then, the right hon. Gentleman said that in years gone by it had been the custom to allow the Speaker to leave the Chair at an early hour when the Estimates were proposed, and to allow the first Vote to be taken without difficulty; but the right hon. Gentleman must remember that in those days opportunities for discussing mutters on the Motion that the Speaker do leave the Chair were much more numerous than they were at the present moment.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
We have taken the Army Estimates on the very first night after the conclusion of the Supplementary Estimates. We took the Supplementary Estimates at the earliest possible moment, and we have taken the Army Estimates on the first occasion open to us. No one has been more anxious than I and my Colleagues to expedite these matters.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
asked whose fault it was that this was the first 130 night on winch the Army Estimates could be taken?—it certainly was not the fault of hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House. He would submit to the Committee whether it was not the fact that what the Government wanted was a sum of money? It did not matter what the Vote was on the Paper, so long as the Government obtained the money they wanted. It was desirable that it should not be a contentious Tote. As the hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had said, the Clothing Vote would probably not cause much discussion. However, there might be some discussion on it; and it would, therefore, be better to take the money on a Vote which would not be debated—some non-effective Vote. There were several Votes of that kind sufficiently large to give the Government, when passed, a sum large enough to enable them to meet all their pecuniary necessities. There was Vote 95, for instance, which amounted to £1,250,000, and the Vote for Out Pensions, which amounted to £2,000,000. Any of these Votes would suit the purpose of the Government as well as Vote 1; and he objected to taking Vote 1 under the pretence that they were to discuss it on another Vote. He was anxious to move the reduction of this Vote; but if the discussion were taken on another item he would not be able to do it. It would be futile to give him an occasion for discussion when it would be impossible to submit a proposal for the reduction of the Vote. He would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he could possibly get out of that difficulty?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I would ask the Committee to consider in what position we stand in reference to Business at this moment. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down asks whose fault it is that we are in the pre-: sent position? I do not desire to lay the fault on anyone; but, in justification of the Government, I would ask the Committee to remember that the House has sat now for five weeks. As regards Government Business, how has our time been expended? We gave up time to those subjects to which we were obliged to give it up. First of all, we gave up a great deal of time to the Address; and it must be remembered that in the old 131 days it never took more than two nights to dispose of that. How many nights has it occupied this year? The next Business we had to deal with was the Supplementary Estimates. [An hon. MEMBER: No; the Vote of Censure."] Yes; we had to dispose of the Vote of Censure and the Address, and then we came to the Supplementary Estimates. When I first came into the House it was unusual for the Supplementary Estimates to occupy many nights; and I venture to say that anyone who has sat here for 15 years will confirm that statement. I want to know, out of these five weeks which the House has sat, how many days has the Government been able to give to the Legislative Business of the year? I want to know that, because it is a question which may be asked in the country. The noble Earl the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) says—"Oh; you ought not to have introduced the Representation of the People Bill." But I should like to ask him if he remembers any single Session in which, five weeks from the commencement, the Government have not introduced a single Bill? What have we given up to the Legislative Business of the country? Why, during the first five weeks of the Session we have taken the first reading of the principal measure we have to propose; and that is said to be an inordinate and improper proportion of the time of the Government to devote to Legislative Business, when the necessity for providing time for the discussion of the Estimates is considered. I venture to say it is a most singular—I do not say an unexampled, but a rare instance when the Government are not allowed to introduce a Bill and have it read a first time on the night of its introduction. This Session two nights have boon occupied with the introduction of the principal Government Bill, not through any desire of ours, but through the desire of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who wished to have two nights for the discussion. How, then, can it be fairly said that it is our fault that the Estimates have come on so late? As I have said, five weeks of the Session have now elapsed—[An hon. MEMBERS: No; six.] Well, six weeks today have elapsed since the House met, raid hon. Members know how we are 132 situated as to Business. I want to know—and I think everybody wants to know—how the Business of the country is going to be done? If it is rendered impossible to dispose of the Address under a fortnight; if it is made impossible for us to get the Supplementary Estimates without so much delay; and if it is made impossible for us to get Votes in Supply for the principal Departments of the State, how, I ask, is the Business of the country going to be done? What are we to do if we cannot get further than the first reading of a single measure in the first six weeks of the Session? It cannot be reasonably said that it is our fault that this Vote comes so late. It comes on the first day that the Government, by a reasonable disposal of the time of the House, could propose it. That being so, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer having said that it is essential, in order to properly conduct the Business of the Ways and Means Act, and with reference also to the ultimate passing of the Mutiny Act, that this Vote should be passed to-night, we ask the Committee to take the course that it has taken on several occasions—that is to say, to pass the Vote for Men, and to take the full discussion subsequently. That course has been taken on several previous occasions, and I ask why it is to be departed from now? What reason is there that that which has been done in former years should not be done now? There is none; therefore I think the request the Government makes is a reasonable one. Hon. Gentlemen may say that the time occupied by Government Business in the first six weeks of the Session has not been properly so occupied. I will not discuss that now, or quarrel with the proposition; but if there was no means of preventing the Vote coming on as it has come on, I hope the Committee will dispose of it as it has disposed of it on former occasions. Different courses have been suggested, to some of which objection has been stated; but what I ask is, why should we take a different course to that which has been followed on former occasions?
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I do not know that there is much advantage to be gained at the present moment from going into a discussion as to whose 133 fault it is that the first six weeks of the Session have been spent as they have been. If we did go into a discussion of that question I think we on this side might have something to say upon it. I do not wish to take tip the time of the Committee by going into that, which really does not bear upon the question which is immediately before us. That question is, what we are to do with the Vote that has been proposed by the Government? With regard to that question, I suppose the immediate question we have to deal with is that with regard to the number of men. It is important that we should take the Tote for the Men as the foundation of the Army or Munity Bill, or whatever it is; called; and I apprehend that there will bono objection to taking it. But the question then arises, whether it is necessary, for that purpose, that we should pass a Vote for £4,250,000? "What is the object of our taking that large Tote at the present moment? It is in the nature of a Vote on Account for the whole of the Army Estimates; and if it is taken at this time to give the Government complete command of such money as is necessary to carry on the whole of the Army Services—not the particular Service for which it is voted, but the whole of the Army Services—for a considerable time, say three or four months, the difficulty may arise, which has arisen on former occasions, of getting a fair opportunity for discussing this important Vote. All the other Votes hinge on it, and yet it may be deferred to a very late period of the Session. What I would suggest is this. Of course, it is necessary that a Vote should be given on account for the Army Services, then let that Vote be given as a Vote on Account, and do not let it be £4,250,000, but, say, £2,000,000, which would enable the Government to carry on the service of the Army for a considerable time, though not for such a time as would enable them to postpone indefinitely the consideration of the Army Estimates. If that course were taken, I believe that all inconveniences would be got rid of. It would be a novel step, of course. [Ministerial cheers.] Yes; but hon. Members opposite must remember that now, since the New Rules came into force, we have been obliged to carry on our Business under novel conditions. 134 As a matter of fact, what the Government want is not this £4,250,000 for the particular pay of the men, but they want it for the whole of the Army Services of every kind and sort. It is a Vote on Account, and let us take it as such, and make it one of a reasonable amount.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
The right hon. Gentleman has said, truly enough, that to take a sum on account, in the manner he suggests, would be a novel course; but he did not add that the taking of such a Vote is not proposed now for the first time. It is a proposal which has been often made, and which he himself has resisted as firmly as anyone. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has also resisted these Votes on Account, and on this plain ground—that if you once take a Vote on Account, except in cases were the Government is about to dissolve, after a Vote of Censure, you set a very dangerous precedent. In other years it might be said—"Oh; if it is inconvenient to take the Army Estimates, postpone them—it is not necessary that the Minister should now make his statement; postpone it, and take a Vote on Account." In this way you might have a Vote on Account in March, another one later on, and the Minister's important statement might be postponed to the end of the Session. That is what has been stated over and over again; and that is my recollection of the objections urged against taking Votes on Account under circumstances like the present. What was the pledge I gave just now? Why, I stated that if the Committee would pass the first Vote we would do as we did last year—namely, set aside a full day for the consideration of the Army Estimates on another Vote. That shows that we are disposed to deal in perfect good faith with the Committee. As to the amount of money that will be wanted, I understand that during the first two months of thy year—that is to say, in April and May—£3,000,000 will be required. I have undertaken that the second Vote shall be taken before the Whitsuntide Recess.
said, the right hon. Gentleman did not quite see the objection hon. Members felt. It was this—that whether there were any 135 agreement as to the discussion of the subject before the Committee or not, it was not possible, on subsequent Votes, to be in Order in discussing a great many questions that are se on the first Vote. The demand the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary thought they were so unreasonable in making was this—that they should not be called upon, at 3 o'clock in the morning, to vote, without discussion, a sum of money which carried with it the substance of the Army Estimates. He (Colon el Stanley) thought the only course open to them was to place on record their objection to the Vote being taken under the circumstances; and, with that view, he regretted that he must challenge a Division on the Motion to report Progress, leaving it to the Committee to take the course which appeared best.
§ MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDER
said, he was present during the whole of the Sitting of Saturday the 18th of August last year. On that day the House met at noon, and was occupied until 7 o'clock in the evening with the postponed Irish Votes, at which hour they entered upon the discussion of 19 out of 25 Votes on the Army Estimates—that was to say, out of 25 Votes there remained 19 for discussion on Saturday the 18th of August. At about 2 o'clock on Sunday morning the deadlock was so great that in order to get the Committee out of it he took the most unconstitutional course of offering to allow the whole of the remaining Votes to be taken without discussion, on condition that the discussion thereon should be taken on the following Monday on Report. The Prime Minister, much to his surprise, jumped at the proposal. That course was adopted; the whole of the remaining Votes were taken, and a most unsatisfactory discussion took place on Monday the 20th of August on the Report. He regarded that course of procedure with respect to the Army Estimates as most unsatisfactory, and one which ought not to be followed this year.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, that hon. Members could not have failed to notice that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had omitted to meet the point which he had raised. His point was, that if an hon. Member desired to move a reduction of Vote 1 he could not 136 do so on Vote 2, or any other Vote. It would be simply out of Order to move it on those Votes, and the Motion could not be put from the Chair, Now, if an hon. Member wished to move the reduction of the present Vote, what opportunity would he have for so doing? He remembered an occasion on which he himself was successful in forcing the Government to submit to a reduction of a Vote, and perhaps on another occasion he might be able to do the same thing.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he had a Motion to make for the reduction of the number of men, and if the Vote was entered upon at 2 o'clock in the morning, he should take quite as much interest in it as he should at 6 o'clock in the evening.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 70; Noes 120: Majority 50.—(Div. List, No. 43.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, the Committee had gone through the ordinary course on the Army Estimates that evening. The Committee had listened to a large number of speeches from Gentlemen opposite of a not very practical kind. Those speeches had been confined to suggestions for the increase of expenditure. Some hon. Members wished that the Army should be increased by 60,000 men, and there had been a long discussion as to the colour to be worn in Her Majesty's Service. He was not surprised at these proposals, because he found that 168 Members in that House were more or less connected with the Army or Navy, and those Gentlemen were naturally anxious to carry out their views. He did not blame them; he only blamed the House for leaving the discussion entirely in the hands of those Gentlemen. Approaching the question from a different point of view, he considered that in connection with the English Army there was an enormous amount of waste and extravagance, and that the Army itself had in it too great a number of men. It appeared from statistics laid before the Royal United Service Institute in 1876, that the cost of the English Army per head was almost double that of the German Army, and that the average pay of 137 all ranks, privates included, was much greater in the English than in the German Army. Notwithstanding that, the soldier was no bettor off in England than in Germany, the reason being that the Army was at present conducted not so much for the benefit of the soldiers as for the benefit of the officers. A I colonel in the Guards, for instance, received £800 per annum, and he (Mr. Labouchere) believed that persons could I be found equally efficient who would perform the duties for a much loss sum. He wanted to call attention to these absurdities. At the age of 45 a colonel retired on a pension of £300or £400 a-year, and at the age of 42 a captain retired on a pension of £200 or £300 a-year. In almost every town in the country a number of retired colonels and captains were to be found who were living on the money of the public. It mattered not what Government was in Office—Liberal or Conservative—they were both equally to blame fur throwing on the country men in the prime of life who could serve the country perfectly well without a pension. For his own part, he would say nothing of the efficiency of the Army; but he had often heard Gentlemen connected with the Army explaining in that House that it was worth absolutely nothing. If that were the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite, he should be happy to move a much larger reduction of these worthless soldiers than he had intended. But his main object in moving the reduction of the number of men was that he thought Her Majesty's Government had far too many soldiers at their disposal. The country had been involved in wars during the last 300 or 400 years; and he did not be have there was a single war related in history which could be shown to have been of the slightest service to them. Those large wars were generally caused by their meddling and muddling on the Continent; but, besides them, there had been many small wars, the most recent examples being the wars in India and Africa. Notwithstanding the slang phrase of 20 years ago, that England could not afford a small war, we had had a good number of small wars. Since the present Ministry came into power there had been the Zulu War, the Transvaal War, the Egyptian War, and at that moment they were engaged in the Soudan War—the work of these 138 friends of peace. He had, of course, speaking politically, a very poor opinion of the Tories; but he did not think they ought to be blamed for what had happened in the Soudan. He did not believed they even know that disturbanees in the Soudan existed. However that might be, he considered that the Government had too many soldiers. They had had soldiers in Egypt for the last 18 months; and if the Government had not had so many soldiers their troops would probably not have been sent there. No one could pretend to say why their troops were in Egypt; and although Her Majesty's Government wore desirous and anxious to afford the House ail the information in their power, they had been unable to say why the troops were there, because they did not know themselves, the only reason was that they had so many men for whom they thought it necessary to find employment; and if the present state of things were to continue they would shortly have to find some other region where barbarians would have to be killed, or something done in the interest of commerce, or of their Manchester friends. This year the increase of the Army was from 137,632 to 140,314 men; in other words, 3,682 men. Deducting from that number the one or two small reductions in the Cavalry and Commissariat branches, there remained an increase of 2,687 men, and by that number he begged to move the reduction of the Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 137,627, 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 1885."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), who moved the reduction of the Vote, had described the speeches made by hon. Members in the course of the evening on the subject of the Army as of a highly unpractical character. He did not know whether the hon. Member thought his own speech a practical one; but, as far as he (Mr. Balfour) could understand it, his speech was composed of some casual statistics, mixed up with the echoes of a number of speeches delivered by hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House against the Government 139 of which the hon. Member was, or was supposed by his constituents to be, a supporter. His object in rising, however, was not to continue the discussion initiated by the hon. Member, but to suggest-to the Government that they might, perhaps, with advantage close the debate that evening, on the understanding that no objection should be raised on that side of the House to the Vote for Men and Money, provided that Tier Majesty's Government gave a day before Easter for the discussion of questions connected with the Army. That appeared to him to be a reasonable compromise; and in order that the Government might discuss it, he begged to move that Progress be reported.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he might state at once that the proposal of the hon. Member (Mr. A. J. Balfour) would not be a satisfactory one to the Government. He did not remember a Session of Parliament in which a second discussion on the Army Estimates had taken place before Easter; but, apart from the absence of precedent, the circumstances referred to by his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department had not made it easier for the Government to find an additional day for a continued discussion of a subject such as this. It appeared to him that the proposal of the Government was a reasonable one, and the only one which it was possible for them to make. He could not but think that the proposal of the hon. Member was one which would be absolutely fatal to any chance of proceeding before Easter with the main legislative proposal of the Government; and on that ground, if on no other. Her Majesty's Government were not in a position to accede to it.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 63; Noes 115: Majority 52.—(Div. List, No. 44.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, I quite agree with the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. J. A. Balfour; that the speech in which the hon. Member for 140 Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) introduced his Motion was not one of a practical character. The greater part of that speech was a comment upon what the hon. Member considered to be the enormous extravagance that went on in connection with the Army. That is a point, however, which has nothing to do with the Motion before the Committee; it rather has to do with the number of men who would remain, were the reduction proposed by the hon. Member to be sanctioned by Parliament. The only sentence of the hon. Member that appeared to me to be at all in the nature of an argument in support of his Motion was his statement that the Government had at their disposal a great deal too many soldiers, and that their having so many was the cause of the wars in which the country had been engaged. Considering the armaments of foreign nations, one would have thought that it would be the very last accusation brought against our Army, that it was too large. The additional number of men which I have asked the Committee to sanction is entirely the consequence of the prolonged occupation of Egypt, which has cast upon the British Army duties external to its ordinary duties. For these reasons, I trust the Committee will support Her Majesty's Government in their moderate and reasonable proposal.
That a number of Land Force?, not exceeding 137,627, nil ranks, he 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 1885.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 11; Noes 152: Majority 141.—(Div. List, No. 45.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £4,230,000, Pay and Allowances.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS- BEACH
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised that a day between Easter and Whitsuntide should be devoted to a discussion of these Estimates. He did not wish to weary the Committee except by way of protest against this improper mode of voting money without discussion. He wished to ask that not only a day between Easter and Whitsuntide should be given for this purpose, but that two days should be given, or such fur- 141 ther time as might be necessary, to the fair discussion of those Estimates. Whitsuntide was later this year than it was last year. Last year these Estimates were not discussed until the 18th of August. That was much too late in the Session; and he hoped Tier Majesty's Government would engage that the discussion should not be put off to so late a period again.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I do not think it is possible to give a further pledge than we have given—namely, that we will undertake that there is a day between Easter and Whitsuntide for the discussion of the Estimates. There is nothing so exceptional in the present Session—no such extraordinary an amount of time—as to enable the Government to be more profuse and liberal in regard to its time than any other Government has been. We have had a very practical discussion the whole of this evening; and if hon. Members would endeavour to restrict their observations we might now make considerable further progress. With regard to the right hon. Baronet's remarks as to the discussion last year, no doubt the 18th of August was somewhat later than is desirable; still, the discussion was a very full one, and several questions were discussed at considerable length. Of course, I do not mean to say that is not later than any Government would desire to bring on important Estimates; but we had had several days' previous discussion on the Army Estimates, and the whole Vote was taken just as fully as the first Vote.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, the Estimates last year were not actually discussed until the 18th of August.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, the discussions were in May, June, and July, and the last was on August 18th.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, no doubt there were discussions on some of the Votes in those months, but 19 were actually postponed till the 18th of August; and although, as the noble Marquess had said, there was a full discussion then, it was a discussion by but a few Members. So far as he could see, it appeared to be the intention of the Government to give only one day before Whitsuntide; and he would put it to right hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they thought one day sufficient 142 for the proper discussion of the Army Estimates? Year after year the proper discussion of these Votes was postponed, and it was likely to be again postponed this year, unless a strong protest was made on this side of the House. The Government had got tonight the Vote for Men. They had been called a Jingo Government; and he thought they would probably say to themselves that, having got the men, they would get the ships and get the money too. Considering the way in which they had got the men. and the money, and the ships in past years without proper discussion, they ought not to be allowed to do it again.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
asked hon. Members who were interested in the question at this moment to consider the position of one who rose at this time of the night to move a reduction of the Vote. If he could speak a great deal more effectually than he was able to do, he feared he should have little chance of convincing anybody of the unreasonableness of this Vote; but, if time permitted, he could show that there might be a considerable curtailment, in expenses without any reduction of efficiency; but it would be absurd, at that hour, to go into that. But. with regard to one point, he had listened to the speech of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War with interest and attention, with the hope of discovering the intentions of the Government with regard to a very important Department of their military administration—namely, the Pay Department. He observed that there were considerable changes in the figures relating to officers of different ranks in that Department, although the noble Marquess and the Financial Secretary had recently stated that several changes in the existing system recommended had not been adopted. The noble Marquess, however, passed over this subject entirely. This Department was a very important one, and was second to none in the importance of the duties and responsibilities thrown upon its officers. Pretty well half the Army Estimates went through their hands; but this was not the only Department of their Army administration which was not represented at the War Office. The Commissariat, Ordnance, Stores, Medical and Clerical Departments were represented at head-quarters; but there was no 143 representative to protect the interests of this Department. But although he thought that was a subject which deseryed considerable attention at the hands of the Army authorities, he felt that this was not an hour at which he could hope to secure any concession, or even secure any consideration, for the deserving officers whose claims he wished to bring forward. In order, however, to show how much might be said upon this Vote if it was closely examined, he would state that he was prepared to move, if the opportunity were more favourable, the reduction of the Vote by one entire item—namely, the amount for the Riding Establishment of the Artillery. That was a perfectly useless institution. It cost a great deal of money; it had done little or no good for 25 years; and it kept 50 gunners and drivers in practical idleness. It was organized, he believed, in 1859, when the Artillery was re-organized. It then became a very ornamental institution. Each brigade of Artillery they reorganized received a riding master, and recruits for the Artillery, instead of going to the regular riding establishment, received their lessons in the brigade to which they belonged; and he supposed that any Artilleryman might be enlisted and serve until he had gained a pension without ever using the riding establishment at Woolwich. But, at the same time, a General Order was issued directing that non-commissioned officers, though not drivers, should be sent by each brigade to Woolwich; but oven that limited use of the riding establishment was put a stop to by His Royal Highness, who was at that time, as now, the Commander-in-Chief. That was on the ground that there was a Cavalry depôt at Maidstone, where all the riding that was required could be taught to Artillerymen as well as to anyone else. Then, again, the officer commanding the riding establishment received an allowance £120 a-year for teaching a regiment of Artillery and a company of gentlemen cadets to ride; and it was proposed in there-organization of the Artillery to contribute this sum to the various brigades. But there was a Major Henry, a Crimean veteran, who lost his arm at the Alma, who was then in command; and principally out of consideration to him, and to do him a good turn, this allowance was turned 144 into a command allowance. It was not intended that it should be continued beyond his length of service; but it had been continued up to the present time. The commander, therefore, received£120 a-year, though he had practically nothing to do. A lieutenant colonel in command of an Infantry regiment received only a guinea a-week. It would be difficult to say what were the duties of he gunners, 60 drivers, and four combatant officers at Woolwich—it would be difficult to say why all the necessary equitation could not be taught at the depôt brigade of the Artillery. The Vote of£6,653 for Pay was a useless expenditure of money; but that represented a very small amount of the total cost of those riding establishments. How much the establishments really cost he could not make out; but it must be a great deal more than this £6,653. The Vote might be reduced by many small items; but, as he said before, it was perfectly useless then to move a reduction, or to expect the Committee to entertain any of the considerations he had put before them with regard to the character of the Vote, he would, therefore, abstain from moving anything?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he had never had his attention called to the riding establishment, and the Committee would easily understand the difficulty experienced by a Minister in making himself acquainted with all the minutiœ of a Department. He was afraid he could not give the hon. Member any details at the present moment; but he would promise him that he would make further inquiries, and give information at a later period.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he was obliged to the noble Marquess for that assurance, and should rest satisfied with it. He had no doubt that when the matter was inquired into it would be found that the expenditure he had called attention to was perfectly unjustifiable. He was convinced that it would be seen that this charge was made for the pay of men who were of no earthly use whatever, except to draw their pay. He should look forward to a reduction of the Vote next year.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the Clock.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.