HC Deb 14 March 1887 vol 312 cc199-209

The whole expenditure of the Army may be divided into three heads, the cost of the "personnel," of general administration, and of supply. The subjoined table attempts to show the total amount under each head.

ARMY ESTIMATES, 1886–87, recalculated, showing approximately the Cost of the Personnel of the Regular and Auxiliary forces as distinguished from the remaining Expenditure.

1. Charges for Personnel.
Estimated annual cost of Regimental Warrant Officers, non-commissioned officers) and men, including Pay, Good Conduct Pay, Deferred Pay, Engineer and Departmental Pay, Clothing, Rations, Fuel and Light, Transport, Equipment, Ammunition, Barracks, Barrack Stores, with cost of Medical Attendance and Medicines, Chaplains, Prison Staff, Schools and Libraries, and Regimental Paymasters 7,201,000
136,350 men. Average cost, £52 4/5 per head.
136,350 Officers. Average cost, £52 4/5 per head. 1,374,000
4,934Officers. Average, £278½ per head
Total effective cost of "personnel" of the Army 8,575,000
Total non-effective cost of "personnel" of the Army 2,770,300
(Average rate per head, effective and non-effective, £80 3/10 all ranks). 11,345,300
3. Supply Charges.
Purchase of Horses (14,151) and Forage at £25 a-year 464,210
Veterinary Department
Wages, &c. (Vote 9) 345,510.
Rents and Water (except £34,00) (Vote: 10) 88,000
Transport of Stores £68,000 (Vote 10) 198,000
Transport &c, Egypt (excess) £130,000
Warlike Stores, Vote 12.— £2,569,000 2,076,650
Less amount estimated for Barrack Stores £140,000
Less amount estimated for Equipment 150,000
Less amount estimated for Auxiliary Forces 202,350
Works and Buildings, Vote 13.— 925,800 488,800
Less amount estimated for Barracks 437,000
Maintenance of Local Force at Suakin (Vote 1) 58,000
Total Supply Charges 3,719,170
ESTIMATES, 1886–7.
All ranks.
Regular Army, enrolled 141,284
Reserve 56,900
Militia 119,356
Yeomanry 11,540
Volunteers, efficient 218,207
Total of all forces 547,337
Personnel of above forces £14,065,450
Administrative Departments 1,341,680
Supply services £3,719,170
Less Navy 1,000,000
Less Indian, Colonial, and Egyptian contributions included in appropriations in aid of Vote 1 908,000
Add small sums not included in foregoing figures 14,900
Total agreeing with Net Estimates for 1886–7, viz., £18,233,200 less £1,000,000 for Navy £17,233,200

These tables show pretty clearly that, assuming the maintenance of the existing establishment of the Army on the present scale, any substantial reduction of expenditure must be effected either in the cost of administration or in the charge for works, armaments, and stores.

Vote 12 (Stores).

And indeed it is sufficiently notorious that reductions of Army expenditure, while maintaining our existing establishment, have largely been effected in past years by drawing upon our reserve of stores. There have been occasions when considerations of economy have reduced this to a dangerously small amount. But indiscriminate reductions, effected for such an object, are neither safe nor altogether honest, and I hope that the time may soon come when the necessary reserve of stores will be authoritatively fixed in all branches, and rigidly maintained in all circumstances. It is, however, to be observed that the expenditure in Vote 12 comprises not only the sums necessary for the maintenance of our armaments and our reserve of stores, but also large sums which are now being annually voted to strengthen the defences of the country all round. The estimate for the supply, manufacture, and repair of warlike stores (Vote 12)—that is, for the manufacturing departments of the Army—amounts next year to £2,943,500. Of this £1,707,000 is required for Navy armaments. The system under which the Army Votes at present bear the charge for naval armaments has the effect of preventing the true charge for the respective services from being understood by the public, but it is intended next year to make arrangements for separating this expenditure.

The following table illustrates the normal and special expenditure under this Vote.—

(A.) (B.) (C.)
Head of Service. Ordinary normal expenditure. Sepcial Services in addition to A. Total amount required to complete Special Services mentioned in B. No. of years of complete C.
£ £ £
Maintenance of armaments and practice, including equipments, transport, ambulances, &c. 200,000
Gunpowder 50,000
Field Artillery 20,000 80,000 248, 000 (4) 3
Rifles 100,000 125,000(2) 1,190,000(5) 3
Ammunition 120,000 80, 000 240,000 (6) 2
Carbines, pistols, and swords 20,000 40,000 50,000 1
Barrack stores 80,000
Accoutrements 40,000 20,000 50,000 2
Harness 21,000 10,000
Machinery 30,000 31,500
Minor items 242,500 (1) 35,888 (3)
Coaling stations, armament of 126,680 358,310 2
Total 923,500 549,068 2,136,310
Total, normal (A) 923,500
Total, special (B) 549,068
Naval requirements to be transferred next year to Navy Estimates 1,707,561
Total 3,180,129(7)
Appropriation in aid 236,629
Total 2,943,500(7)


  1. (1.) Includes establishments, experimental services, camp equipments, War Department vessels, &c.
  2. (2.) Less than previously proposed owing to delays of patterns hindering manufacture. 25,000 magazine rifles only.
  3. (3.) Includes vessels, and miscellaneous.
  4. (4.) For 31 batteries to complete 60, to be armed with B.L. armament.
  5. (5.) Includes 375,000 magazine rifles.
  6. (6.) To get up to 60,000,000 reserve of .4 cartridges.
  7. (7.) Repayments not included, as they are added to items of Vote and deducted en bloc.

N.B.—The purpose of this statement is to show broadly the appropriations of money to certain general heads of Service. These appropriations will not be traced in the Estimates which are necessarily prepared under the head of Wages, Materials, Contract Supplies, &c.

Vote 13, which deals with works, buildings, and repairs, may be analyzed in a somewhat similar form.

VOTE 13.
Total of Vote £862,300.
Vote for 1887–8 Required to complete Remarks.
For Maintenance— £ £
Ordinary and current repairs 353,190
For new works (under £1,000, to be completed in this year) 117,589
For works in progress (begun before 1887–8)-
Barracks 111,249 315,065
Fortifications and Ordnance Store buildings 61,227 200,407 Of this, £133,000 is for submarine mining works at military and mercantile ports.
Manufacturing establishments 40,500 4,110
New works (over £1,000 to be begun this year)-
Barracks 29,700 46,120
Fortifications and Ordnance Store buildings 38,957 60,705*
Manufacturing establishments 12,750 27,850
For coaling stations 77,200 201,210
Total 842,302 855,467
Salaries and miscellaneous Engineer services 125,802 Annual charges, subheads A to K, of Vote 13.
Total 968,104
Less appropriations in aid 105,864
Total 862,300 855,467

*Of the £60,705, the following items are each of £5,000 and upwards, viz.:—

York-New Ordnance Store Establishment £15,500
Portsdown Hill-maintenance of revetments 11,000
Woolwich Arsenal-means for lifting and landing guns up to 240 tons 10,200
Fort Augusta-new powder magazine 5,000

The object of this analysis of these Votes will now be clear. I am anxious to bring prominently forward the fact that the manufacturing and engineering departments necessarily enter into contract engagements extending over several years, and that a sudden curtailment of Estimates may often mean not only the stoppage of a particular work, but the loss of a large part of the money already expended, or it may involve a breach of faith. Take, for instance, the expendi- ture upon our coaling stations, which is, and ought to be, regulated by the General Scheme laid down in 1884, accepted by the Treasury, and at that time submitted to Parliament. Upon the faith of that scheme we have induced some of our Colonies to vote, and to expend large sums of money, on the understanding that, if they would undertake the cost of the works, the Imperial Parliament would find the armaments. In more than one case the Colony has kept its part of the bargain, while the Imperial Government has not obtained the necessary funds to do so. In all these cases the faith of Parliament is deeply pledged, and, quite independently of the great interests involved, we are bound in honour to provide the necessary funds at least upon the scale laid down in 1884.

Or take the large expenditure occasioned by the introduction of the new rifle and of the now field gun. It has long been admitted that the rearmament of our forces in these respects is a matter of urgent necessity. The above table shows the large sums required to accomplish this result. As soon as a step of this sort has been decided upon by the military authorities, a comparatively small Vote is proposed to Parliament for the expenditure during that financial year; but the House becomes practically pledged to continue similar votes from year to year until the whole sum has been provided. To suspend it for a single year is to cause great waste of public money, or to inflict losses upon the trade only to be satisfied by pecuniary compensation. The system, indeed, has great disadvantages; and it is well worthy of consideration whether some scheme could not be devised which would on the one hand guarantee proper Parliamentary control at the initiation of such expenditure, and at the same time secure the completion of the works or of the armament without being exposed to the fluctations of Parliamentary opinion. In the time of Lord Cardwell, whose Army Estimates have often been taken as a standard by economists, some part of this expenditure was outside the control of Parliament and not shown in the Army Estimates, and was from time to time borrowed under the head of "Defence and Localization Works." Works of precisely the same character, but in these modern days of far greater cost, cause the large increase in Votes 12 and 13. Perhaps I may be allowed to give an illustration of this increase of cost. The Commission on the Defences of the United Kingdom in their Report of 1860, which proposed works at the cost of 11 millions sterling, thus dealt with the armaments:— Upon a general estimate we are led to believe that the works herein proposed will require for armament not less than 2,500 pieces of artillery, in addition to any that are now mounted, or already demanded for works which have been sanctioned previous to this report. Taking them at an average of £200 each, on the supposition that a portion of them will be rifled ordnance, the estimated expense under this head will be £500,000.

It is scarcely necessary to observe that the sum then named as the average price of the guns required, is now about the cost of a single shot from one of our big guns.