HC Deb 14 December 1888 vol 332 cc240-91

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £304,900, Medical Establishments and Services.

MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

wished to draw attention to the important investigation which had been carried on by the Committee upstairs on the Army and Navy Estimates. The object of postponing several of those Votes until the Autumn Session was to afford an opportunity for considering the evidence given before the Committee. He did not think it would conduce to the convenience of the House, or promote a satisfactory discussion, if the Committee were now to enter upon an examination of these Votes at this late period of the Session, when a thorough and complete discussion was impossible. So far as he was concerned, he should like to arrive at an understanding with the Government that this question should be regarded as open for discussion on the Estimates next year. The Report of the Committee could then be considered with the fulness it deserved. The House might now allow the Estimates to pass with as little delay as possible, so as to bring the Session to an early close. He made that suggestion believing that it would be for the convenience of the House and of the Government, and that it would tend to promote a more satisfactory discussion of the very important evidence given upstairs.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

said, it was probably expected that he should say a word in reply to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. As far as he was concerned, the Committee would naturally expect that he was not able, in all cases, to say what had been done in consequence of the Report of the Committee on the Army Estimates, which sat during last year and the present year. In a good many cases they would have to institute further inquiries, and when the Estimates were presented next year they would be able to show the results of those inquiries, and the effect they had produced on the Army Estimates. In those circumstances he was inclined to think that it would, perhaps, be for the convenience of the Committee if these subjects were discussed next year, when the specific proposals of the Government were before the House. If they were now discussed it was obvious that he would not be able to state the views of the Government.


said, he concurred entirely with the views of the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench, and also with those of the Secretary of State for War. He thought it would be fatal to the re-appointment of the Committee on the Navy and Army Estimates if the result of their examinaion was to lead to even more protracted discussion on the Estimates in Committee than was the case in former days, when such Committees did not sit. The great object of this Committee was to assist the House, and to relieve it; but if, on the other hand, it was found that the Committee only tended to provide material for fresh discussion, then, undoubtedly, the Committee would have greatly failed in its object. The Committee examined with great care most of the Army Votes, and nothing could have exceeded the courtesy of the War Office in affording information, and nothing could have been more excellent than the conciliatory attitude which the War Office took up with regard to the investigation. The Committee had ventured, in various directions, to recommend certain changes, which might or might not be improvements; but the Committee could not expect the Secretary of State for War to decide, within the course of a few months, on the merits of the suggestions made. He thought, therefore, the Committee would do wisely to accept, on the whole, the thorough, exhaustive, and useful examination of the Estimates conducted by the Army Committee, and to wait until next year, in order to see whether the Secretary of State had examined all the recommendations made by the Committee as to discoveries and expenditure, and whether those discoveries and recommendations had led to useful changes in the Public Service. As far as he was concerned, he did not intend to take up the time of the Committee in debating any of the questions which might come up on the Army Estimates. If the First Lord of the Treasury and the Secretary of State for War found themselves in a position to abide by the pledge given that the Army Estimates would be taken at an early period next year, when they could be discussed without pressure, the Committee had then every reason to be satisfied with the position of affairs, and ought to allow the Estimates to go through now without taking up the time of the Committee further.

MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

said, it had fallen to his lot at the meetings of the Committee on the Army and Navy Estimates to take an active part in the proceedings, and a considerable portion of the Report he had prepared himself. Therefore, he felt entitled to speak in support of the view of his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) which had been adopted by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) and Her Majesty's Government. It would be premature, he thought, to discuss now some of the extremely important recommendations of the Committee, important both in the number and extent to which reforms were proposed in Army and Navy administration. The Committee had been practically unanimous in the recommendations they had made. He believed that he had supported every one of them, and certainly, to his mind, they were most valuable. He, therefore, entreated the Committee not to embarrass the Government by urging them to pronounce an opinion upon the recommendations of the Committee now, but to defer the matter until next Session, so as to afford time for a full consideration, and to allow the Government, after further inquiry, an opportunity of dealing with such reforms as were, in their opinion, desirable to be introduced.

MR. PICTON (Leicester)

said, the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington was quite right in saying that there would be small encouragement given to the investigations of such Committees if the only result was to lead to still more protracted debates; but, on the other hand, it would be small encouragement for the re-appointment of such a Committee if the inquiry already entered into brought about no reforms in the Army Estimates. So far as they had hitherto gone, he did not see that any practical result had followed from the appointment of the Committee. At the same time, he was ready to admit that the middle of December would be an unfortunate time to enter into a long discussion on the subject. He would not move the Amendment of which he had given Notice, but would take the earliest available opportunity of doing so next Session. He had no doubt the advice of the noble Lord was that which they ought to follow.

COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)

said, he entirely coincided with the views which had been expressed, and he should confine himself to stating that when the Estimates were discussed in the Spring, he would challenge the administration of the Medical Service on the ground of effi- ciency. The changes which had been made in the Medical Service had been in the right direction; but they had gone too far, and rushed from one extreme to the other.

SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

said, he had an Amendment which he had put off until the present stage at the request of the Secretary of State for War—an Amendment of enormous importance financially, and which he might fairly say was on the lines of the recommendations of the Committee—he referred to the reduction of the list of Generals. Of course, he should not enter into it at that moment, but he wished to mention it to the Committee, because he considered that he should be greatly wanting in his public duty if he were to pass over the earliest opportunity of laying before the House a matter in which, undoubtedly, a considerable amount of economy might be effected. He thought the evidence given to the Committee showed that there had been a very great increase in the number of Army officers, and that it was of the utmost importance to devise some steps for the reduction of the list of Generals. He had, however, been much impressed by what had been said by the noble Lord, and when such economists as the noble Lord and the two right hon. Gentlemen on his right concurred in deprecating a long discussion on the present occasion, he was quite sure that the suggestion was made quite as much in the interests of economy as with a view of consulting the convenience of the House and the time at their disposal. Therefore, he did not propose to move his Amendment, as he did not think it could be discussed properly under two or three hours. But he earnestly trusted that the Secretary of State for War would give his full attention to this important proposed reform, and would, if possible, remember that it was one of those reforms which it was better to do thoroughly and at once than merely to give what might be in a nature of a sop to the economists. He had no reason to think that the right hon. Gentleman was not in full sympathy with the reformers in this matter; and, therefore, he was quite prepared to abstain from bringing forward the question to-day, and to postpone it until next Session, when he should undoubtedly raise it on the first opportunity.


said, he desired to say in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) that he hoped that before the Estimates were next presented he might be able to submit to the House a scheme which would be satisfactory to the right hon. Gentleman.

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W)

said, he had no intention of infringing the honourable understanding which had been arrived at on both sides of the House to postpone the discussion of these Estimates until next year, but he sincerely trusted that next Session they would be afforded an equally favourable opportunity of discussing them. As a rule, when they came down to discuss the Army Medical Vote, they were generally put off until an inconvenient hour—perhaps 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning; or they were squeezed into a corner of the evening, and the discussion cut as short as possible. They had now a most favourable opportunity, with a clear field before them, and yet they were not to have a discussion. He did not intend to say a single word in regard to anything that happened in the Committee upon the Estimates, but he did desire to say a word on a question they had already heard a good deal about—namely, the vexed question of relative rank. It had been discussed a good deal, both inside of the House and out of it, and the first question asked in regard to it was, why relative rank should be abolished at all? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would remember that when he courteously received a deputation on the subject, the question was spoken of as one of sentiment. It was very difficult to explain what was the relative rank which the Army medical officers had lost, and to explain their precise condition of mind upon the subject. He believed that a strong expression of opinion had been sent to the right hon. Gentleman on the part of the medical authorities of the Kingdom, through the British Medical Association. That Association, representing the medical profession throughout the United Kingdom, had endeavoured to ascertain the views of medical men on the question. Out of 1,500 circulars sent round, 900 answers had been received entirely condemnatory of the abolition of relative rank, and giving reasons why it should be restored. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would look into the question, and endeavour to ascertain what the view of the Army medical officers was in regard to it. It might be said that those views might be made known through the Army medical authorities, but that was a very difficult matter to carry out, seeing that the young Army officers stood in a certain amount of awe of their own authorities, being afraid to complain lest they might be regarded as chronically dissatisfied and have a bad mark placed against their name. The Director General of the Army Medical Staff was a thoroughly courteous gentleman, always ready to receive any representations that might be made to him, but young officers, who had justentered the Service, found some difficulty in bearding the lion in his den. Then, again, opinions of this kind were only important when they represented large masses of opinion all over the country. He sincerely trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would take into consideration the question of relative rank, and see if anything could be done to restore it, or to give to the medical officers an equivalent for that which they had lost. He had received a large number of letters from all parts of the world complaining of the abolition. There was only one other point he desired to call attention to, and it was the examination for promotion to the position of brigade surgeon. He thought the severity of the examination might be somewhat modified when it was made to apply to officers of this rank, even if it was not abolished altogether. It was extremely hard that an Army medical officer who went up for examination once, and failed, should not get another chance, and consequently have his prospects of promotion detroyed. A medical officer was constantly called upon to pass an examination under circumstances of great inconvenience; he was called upon suddenly, without any warning, even in India, where he had no books at hand or any opportunity of bringing his mind to bear upon medical studies, and then he was told, if he failed to pass, no matter how difficult the circumstances were, that no other opportunity would be afforded to him. Combatant officers, when they failed to pass an examination, were allowed another chance, and surely the professional knowledge which a medical officer acquired by active service was of more importance and advantage than mere book-learning. The experience he had thus acquired must have rendered him efficient for the position of brigade surgeon. He therefore ventured to ask that the question might be taken into consideration with a view of securing that Army medical officers, who had failed once under unfavourable circumstances, should have a second chance, always assuming that their service had been good in other respects.


suggested that the Army medical officers, on return from foreign service, should have an opportunity of refreshing their knowledge in civil hospitals, so as to make them more competent for the duties they had to perform.

DR. TANNER (Cork Co, Mid)

thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War would do well to solve a difficulty which was alleged to be productive of very bad results in connection with the Army Medical Department. If the Army Medical Department would take a leaf out of the book which they were constantly copying in other respects—namely, the regulations in medical matters connected with German Army administration—they would, he thought, do good service. It was notoriously the fact that a medical officer who had been stationed in South Africa, or upon some hill station in India, when he returned home after a number of years' service, would find that, to a great extent, he had got rusty. He felt bound to complain strongly of the treatment which the Army medical officers of this country received. He admitted that there were magnificent institutions in London and elsewhere, such as the London Hospital and University College Hospital, and why they were not made available for the improvement of the studies of Army medical officers when they returned to England from service abroad, as was the case in Berlin, he was at a loss to understand. There had been a strong expression of opinion on this point by Royal Commissions and men of eminence and high standing in the profession; and yet, in spite of all the advantages lying at their very door, up to the present time nothing had been done. He recollected, while studying at Berlin, that the operative surgery class in particular, and some of the classes engaged in the study of physiology and so forth, were filled with both Army and Naval medical officers. He had brought it under the notice of a Committee on the Naval Estimates on which he had served, and he had directed attention to it in the course of the present Session. He had now got something like a definite assurance from the First Lord of the Admiralty that substantial attention would be paid to the Administrative Medical Department connected with the Service. Surely, what could be done in connection with the Navy could be even more easily done in regard to the Army. He should, therefore, press for some attention to these points, because he, and most of the gentlemen who belonged to the profession, were strongly of opinion that the remedy of the grievances complained of was urgently called for. Many advantages would accrue; the unfortunate patient would be better cared for, and when the medical officer in due course of time resigned his position and trust, he would be found more fitted to enter upon civil practice than he could possibly be if, after having been stationed for many years in India, China, Africa, or other parts of the world, he returned home without enjoying facilities for professional improvement. At present it was constantly alleged that Army medical officers returning to England after service abroad had grown a little rusty; but if the matter were solved in the way he suggested, this would no longer be said, and an Army medical officer would be able to settle down to civil practice and perform valuable work. He trusted that the Secretary of State for War would consult some of the heads of the medical profession and some of the retired medical officers. He did not propose to enter into the question of relative rank, or of the examination which candidates for the position of brigade surgeon major in India were required to pass. But if he abstained from entering into them, he hoped they would receive from the right hon. Gentleman the consideration they deserved. They were questions which excited a deep interest. He should suppose that most members of the medical profession had received a small cartload of pamphlets of all kinds bearing upon them, and year after year the Medical Press was full of letters and statements in regard to them. He could not conceive how it was that the medical officers did not receive the relative rank they were entitled to. When they were going to pitch a camp in time of war, surely its location, from a sanitary point of view, was of the highest importance, and it was necessary to take the opinions of a practical medical man. Whether it was the location of a camp, or the inspection of a prison, or looking after and treating disease—surely a little more consideration ought to be displayed towards gentlemen who were not only medical officers, but men who had been obliged to go through a long and arduous military training before they were able to perform the duties with which they were intrusted. He thought that the case of surgeon major in India was a particularly absurd one. A man was called on to perform very arduous duties, and to travel about the country under a high-sounding title; and yet, practically speaking, he was worse paid than any other officer of similar rank, and was called upon to provide himself with a gorgeous uniform. The expenses entailed upon him by his position steadily diminished his finances, and certainly demanded some little attention on the part of the Government. There was another point which he had considered it his duty to bring under the notice of the Government either last year or the year before—namely, the practice of sending out very young officers to India immediately after they joined the Service. He had pointed out that there was very considerable mortality among young medical officers who, after joining the Service, with no period of probation at all, were sent out to a warm climate, and, being junior medical officers, almost invariably got the worst stations. He had asked the Secretary of State for War if it were intended to open out a new system of medical education in India for the special advantage of the young officers who were sent out there, but he received no answer. If young men were to be sent out to India, it was desirable that they should remain for a considerable time in some healthy locality in order that they might become acclimatized, and fitted for the duties they would be called upon, as medical men, to perform. Of course, the junior medical officers would have to deal with very heavy cases, and to inspect all the places where the sanitary condition was the most unsatisfactory, and it was, therefore, desirable that they should be afforded some period of time for acquiring experience. As to the burning question of the transfer of medical officers to the new medical schools which were to be created in various parts of India, he thought, for his own part, that sufficient attention had not been paid to that subject. If the right hon. Gentleman discredited his statement he would refer him to the columns of The British Medical Journal, where he would find the subject discussed at considerable length. He did not know whether the object was to effect economy, but he failed to understand the principle upon which they were going to create these large schools.


said, the hon. Gentleman was now entering into a question which related more to the Government of India than to the administration of the Army Medical Department.


said, he understood that it was contemplated to transfer the Army medical schools from Netley to India, and the expenditure, which had hitherto been borne under the head of Netley, would now be distributed over a very much larger area. Of course, a portion of the cost would be borne by India, and no doubt it would be irregular on the present Vote to enter into that question. If gentlemen who had hitherto received their education at Netley were to be transferred to India, there would undoubtedly be a very great increase of expenditure, because at Netley all the necessary requirements of a high-class medical education were already provided, whereas in India they would have to be provided at very great expense. In his opinion that expenditure was, for any practicable purpose, unnecessary, especially when, as far as he could find out, there was no fault found with the system of education provided at Netley. Hitherto the school at Netley had been found most satisfactory and workable. So far as the study of those climatic diseases which prevailed in tropical and semi-tropical climates were concerned, they could certainly be studied just as well at Netley as in India. In India, of course, there was the chance of seeing examples in reference to most of the climatic diseases, but that was not the point. He thought it was advisable that the representations which had been made upon these subjects by officers of the Army Medical Department, who had devoted their lives to the study of these matters, should be repeated over and over again. There was certainly a great deal to be said upon them, and, so far as the Army Medical Department was concerned, he did not think that the Secretary for War had paid that attention to it which its importance demanded, or otherwise the matter would not have been passed over without some special expression of opinion from the right hon. Gentleman. He sincerely hoped to obtain some explanation from the Government in regard to the proposal to transfer the medical school from Netley to India; how it was proposed to bring it about, and what interests were expected to be served. He also hoped that some attention would be paid to the remonstrances of the officers of the Medical Department.


said, he had intended to say something about the question raised by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson)—namely, the relative rank of medical officers, but after the expression of opinion on both sides of the House with regard to shortening the debate that day, he thought it would be well to leave the matter over until early next Session, when it could be fully discussed. It would not be respectful to the Committee to say now what would have to be re-said next Session. He had only risen to emphasize the importance of the question. He hoped, at the beginning of next Session, before the Estimates were again discussed, that the Secretary for War would undertake to examine this question carefully, and that the medical officers in the Army would receive that consideration to which they were really entitled.


said, he would endeavour to reply to the various questions which had been put to him in the course of the discussion. He should be glad to have from the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) his exact scheme in writing.


asked, if the right hon. Gentleman referred to the scheme he had suggested in connection with the education of Army medical officers which was adopted on the Continent, especially in Germany, where Army medical men were associated with civilians?


said, the scheme which he desired to have was that to which the hon. Member referred in the early part of his speech. He had not been able to follow the details exactly, but if the hon. Member would submit it in writing he would be glad to see how far any portion of it could be made available. Two or three other questions had been put to him. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir William Crossman) had suggested that these medical officers should have an opportunity of refreshing their knowledge in civil hospitals, so as to make them more competent for the duties they had to do. He should be glad to consider that point, which had not recently been brought before him, although a similar question—namely, the desirability of allowing medical officers an opportunity of refreshing their knowledge by going back to Netley—had been brought before him. The hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson) had raised two questions; first of all the question of the relative rank of soldiers and medical officers. No doubt that was a question which had excited much interest among the officers of the Army Medical Department, and he had had occasion to hear a good deal about it. Some time ago he received a deputation of medical men on this subject. They waited upon him to represent the injuries they thought they had sustained; but he was bound to say that, having heard all their statements, he failed to see where the grievance lay. No doubt the grievance, if it was one at all, was of a sentimental character. He did not disparage the grievance because it was a sentimental one, as sentiment had to be reckoned with. But in reality the main purpose was not so much to obtain substantive rank as to have the additional titles conferred on medical officers of surgeon-captain and surgeon-colonel. At the present moment he was not disposed to go far from the attitude he took up at the time he received the deputation. He had done his best, by an alteration of the Rules, to prevent any misconception upon the matter. With reference to the exami- nation for brigade-surgeon, surgeon-majors who had failed to pass would be qualified by obtaining the Fellowship of any of the Medical Colleges, or the equivalent of a University degree.


asked, whether this Order would be retrospective?


said, he was afraid he could not answer that question. He was not at the moment prepared to say. He would communicate privately with the hon. Member; but he should like to say generally, in regard to this Vote, that there had been some important suggestions made by the Committee on the Army Estimates. Those suggestions he was taking into consideration, and he hoped next year, when the Estimates came on, that he would be able to show how far they had been carried out.


desired to say a word upon the medical question. He did not think the Secretary for War had given a very satisfactory answer as to the question of the relative assumption of military rank by the Army surgeons. What the Army medical officers asked was that the claims of seniority might be considered, and he thought the award of the rank requested would be a very harmless matter. All they desired was that they might be made more closely to represent the majors and colonels in the Army, which were the titles they wanted to assume. He thought such ranks in the Medical Department might be definitely laid down in The Army List. In regard to the question of economy, he was of opinion that at the present moment we were paying an enormous and extravagant sum for pensions. In that direction he should certainly like to see a reduction of the Estimate. He was not in favour of reducing the pay of the Army medical officers, but he thought they should be required to serve for a longer period. By that means a large sum of money might be saved and a great reduction in the Vote effected. All he suggested was that the period of retirement should be deferred until a later day. He had been no party to the understanding arrived at at the beginning of the Sitting, but he had no wish to infringe it. All he wanted to know was whether it was a fact that a surgeon major aged only 44, and getting a salary of £450 a-year for actual work, and being in the enjoyment of good health, was able to retire with a pension of £500 as surgeon major general, with no work at all to do? He did not think that that was an economical administration of the Army Medical Department, and he was of opinion that the only way in which they could effect economy would be by prolonging the term of service. If any difficulty arose as to the titles the Army medical officers were to have, he thought the best way out of the difficulty would be to give them almost any title they pleased. Give them titles that would enable them to rank with military officers, but their pensions should rest upon the question of age, and it was absurd to lay down the principle that a medical officer, when he had been in the Service for five or six years, was entitled to a pension. No doubt they ought to have facilities for retirement, but this was pushing the principle to the extreme. In point of fact they were giving a man £50 a-year for doing nothing, and putting in another man at £450 a-year to do the work. He believed that hundreds of such cases occurred, although, perhaps, not one as strong as that which he had mentioned. He sympathized with the right hon. Gentleman in his desire to carry out reforms, but he must be aware that the process would be a very slow one. At least £10,000 a-year might be saved, without much injury to the medical officers, by deferring the period of pension; and probably the doctors themselves would not object to serve a little longer, as they rarely got much practice after retirement. That, he thought, was the direction in which economy should be pushed. He objected to the principle of sending out young men to serve oncerta in hot stations, and then pensioning them off after a few years' service.

MR. A. E. GATHORNE-HARDY (Sussex, East Grinstead)

said, he had no wish to prolong the discussion, but he thought, as he had only been able to give a modified assent to the recommendations of the Committee upstairs, of which he was a Member, that he ought to state what his views were. The Committee recommended that the regimental system for the medical officers of the Guards should be abolished. Now, he wished to maintain that system, not because he was in favour of any special privileges for the Guards, such as brevet rank and other advantages—for he was altogether in favour of doing away with such privileges—but because he thought the regimental system was the best wherever it could be applied. He believed that in regard to small battalions other than the Guards, it might be impracticable to maintain the regimental system, however desirable it might be, but where, in the case of the Guards, there were a large number of men quartered in the same place, it was quite practicable to maintain the regimental system. He should, therefore, like to see it maintained, not solely for the benefit of the Guards, but because he believed it was a better system in itself. There was another reason why he differed with the Committee in regard to this recommendation, and it was that it was arrived at without calling the Commanding Officer of the Guards before the Committee, or anyone who had any acquaintance with the manner in which the existing system worked. He would repeat that he did not treat the matter as one of privilege for the Guards, for on that question he was quite at one with the Committee, but because he believed that where they were dealing with a large body of men the regimental system was the best. He Lad, therefore, found it impossible to assent to this recommendation of the Committee.


said, that he was unable to enter into the question raised by his hon. Friend now.


said, he had no desire to discuss the question at length. He had only risen for the purpose of entering a protest against the recommendation of the Committee, because the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War had intimated that he intended to deal with the recommendations of the Committee before next Session.

COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)

remarked, that when the matter came regularly before the Committee he should be prepared to state his opinions upon it. The system in the Guards was a brigade, not a regimental system, and was better than the extreme system now existing in the Army.


said, he should like to have an explanation upon an item in the Vote in which there appeared to be a reduction. He altogether differed from his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) that there was too much money spent upon this Department. If they desired to keep the men in the Army in an efficient condition it was absolutely necessary that they should look after their health; to do that they must have doctors; and if they had doctors they must pay them. He saw from Sub-head D that a large reduction had been made in connection with the supply of medicines. He regretted the reduction very much, because he knew, as a matter of fact, that medicines this year were not a bit cheaper than they were last. The price of drugs, as a matter of fact, had rather gone up. Nevertheless, there appeared to have been a reduction of no less than £5,000, and the pay of the Medical Staff had been reduced by £9,260. They might cut down the pay of the doctors, but if they cut down their pay they certainly ought to provide them with good stuff for the purpose of dealing with disease. He should, therefore, like to have some explanation in the reduction of the item for the cost of medicines and surgical instruments. In regard to the surgical instruments with which the Army medical officers were provided, he had heard many complaints in the course of the last two years from medical officers in distant stations in India that sufficient facilities were not afforded them for getting the instruments, when they got out of repair, put in a proper condition.


said, the matter was easily explained. There had been a considerable return of medicines into store from Egypt.


said, that stores of all kinds underwent deterioration if kept long in store in any branch of the Military or Naval Services. Nothing was more prone to deteriorate than drugs. He understood the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to say that the reduction in this item of the Vote was owing to the return of medicines into store from Egypt. Surely there must have been an enormous store of medicines in Egypt in order to effect a reduction of £5,000, and there must have been a considerable amount of deterioration among them? He should certainly like to have a little more light thrown upon the subject. Complaints were constantly made of the bad medicines provided, and he could easily understand how those complaints arose, when he now heard from the hon. Gentleman that so large a reduction in the Estimate had been brought about in consequence of the return into store of medicines from Egypt—medicines, which he presumed, had been in Egypt for a couple of years. Egypt might be a good place for treating diseases of the lungs, but it was not the most desirable place for keeping medicines, which were very apt to deteriorate when kept. It was to his mind a most extraordinary thing that such an immense reduction should have been effected by the return of drugs into store.


said, the hon. Gentleman could hardly be aware that the force in Egypt had been reduced from 15,000 to 8,500; it was quite obvious that that reduction of the strength of forces placed a large supply of drugs at the disposal of the War Office. The hon. Gentleman knew as well as he did that if any of the drugs deteriorated so as not to be fit for use, they would not be served out to the troops.


said, he should like to be informed what the value of the medicines returned from Egypt was, and who they were valued by?


said, he was afraid that the hon. Member required too much. He should be glad to be informed by the hon. Member of any cases in which inferior drugs had been supplied.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £555,000, Militia Pay and Allowances.


said, he thought his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War would admit that the Militia was one of the most important forces we had in this country, and that it was most desirable to maintain it in a state of full efficiency. His right hon. Friend must admit that the Militia was not in the very efficient state in which they would all like to see a force of that kind. He should like to know from the Secretary of State for War whether the Committee of the Cabinet, or the Royal Commission, were considering the state of the Militia and the Militia Reserve as one of the matters before them? They all knew that there had been a large increase in the number of officers, owing to so many having passed into the Line, and, if it were necessary to embody the Militia, there might be considerable difficulty in regard to the efficient officering of this branch of the Service. Without entering into details he would only mention the fact that many of the officers of the Militia were exceedingly good officers, and did their work remarkably well, although they had never been in the Line at all. Some of the officers were certainly not so efficient, and, so far as the men were concerned, there were some 30,000 Militiamen in the Reserve who ought to be as efficient with their rifles as any other part of Her Majesty's Forces. He wished to know whether the desirability of employing the services of retired officers from the Army had been considered.


said, that the Militia cost about £500,000 a-year, and the Secretary for War was naturally anxious to make it as efficient as possible. He should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in his opinion, it was conducive to the efficiency of the Militia to have it commanded by men of 30 or 40 years' service. He did not mean absolute service, but service in command of a regiment. Would it not be desirable, as far as the colonels were concerned, to introduce the short service system into the Militia. It was no longer a half-trained force, the plaything of the country gentleman, and certainly it was not desirable that the commanding officers should be colonels who had been in command of regiments for 30 or 40 years. Under present regulations in the Army, commanding officers were limited to five years' service as such.

MR. GURDON (Norfolk, Mid)

remarked that the Militia barracks at Norwich were a mile and a-half from the town, on a steep hill, and in such a position as was supposed to be detrimental to the interests of the regiment. Negotiations with the War Office had been opened with the view of purchasing a small piece of unoccupied land, but the regiment were told that they must purchase it at their own expense, and that even then it might at some time be required for the use of the Army. He thought there ought to be some guarantee that they would not be turned out at a moment's notice, and thus lose the whole of the money they had spent.


said, that as in a case of emergency we must rely very much upon our Militia, it was of importance that they should be able to shoot. In a debate which took place last July in "another place," various statements were made as to the efficiency of the force.


rose to Order. He wished to know whether it was in Order for the hon. Member to refer to a debate which took place in July last during the present Session, in the House of Lords? If allusions of this kind to debates in the House of Lords were permitted, he was afraid it would be opening a very wide precedent, which might become extremely inconvenient in other cases hereafter.


said, that according to the Standing Order and Rules which appertained to the conduct of debate, any reference to a debate in "another place" during the present Session would be irregular.


said, that the Militia was a feeder of the Line to the extent of something like 13,000 men every year, and, if all necessary deductions were made, the number of the Militia which could be put into the front rank would amount to about 43,000 only. The returns as to Militia shooting showed that more than 5,000 recruits did not shoot at all, and in the battalions there were 7,000 more who did not shoot; so that there would have to be deducted about 12,000 men who did not shoot at all. But assuming that 43,000 could be placed in the front rank, a great proportion of them would be raw lads about 17 years of age. Even they, if they could shoot, would be of some service. The Militia recruits' course was 40 rounds a-year at the range. Of course his military friends would correct him if he were wrong. The trained men's course was the same—40 rounds at distances never exceeding 300 yards, except when advancing on the target from 265 yards to 160. He would ask hon. Members to compare that with the Linesmen's course, because he understood that it was the intention of the Authorities to place the Militia where they would put the Line to oppose the Germans or the French. He maintained that under such circumstances the Militia should not be worse instructed than the Line, but the mode of training was altogether different. The Linesman was trained to shoot in such a way as if he were in the actual presence of the enemy, so as to familiarize him with what he would be likely to meet in actual warfare. But not the slightest pretence was made of teaching the Militiaman the use of his weapon under any such conditions. The recruits of the Line fired about 100 rounds at the range at various distances; the trained men from 150 to 200 rounds at distances varying up to 800 yards, and, where the locality would permit it, up to 1,800 yards—that was exclusive of private practice. What was the result as far as the Militia man was concerned? The hon. Member for Glasgow was a Member of the Select Committee which had been referred to in the course of the debate, and he asked General Fremantle how the Militia shoot. General Fremantle replied that they shoot very badly. Being asked whether he thought a Militiaman could hit a target six feet square, General Fremantle gave this somewhat evasive answer, "1 think it would depend upon circumstances." In reply to a question put by him to the Secretary of State, on this subject, the right hon. Gentleman said that the Military Authorities did not think it desirable that the rounds not expended in body firing should be fired at a head-and-shoulders target, the probability being that the Militiaman would not hit it. As he understood it the object of the men shooting under these circumstances at this description of target was that they should fire at something representing an enemy as he would appear behind a breastwork. If a Militiaman could not hit a man who was stationary the question was could he hit him when in motion up and down? He knew a gentleman who was a crack shot, and who went to Wimbledon and shot at the Pool target, with the result that having fired seven shots in succession he never hit the figure once. What, therefore, could they hope from the practically untrained, and, to some extent, unintelligent Militiaman? Notwithstanding that the range was only a two-section range, that but two men could shoot at a time, and that the course of musketry instruction was rushed through in four days, the opinion of the Authorities was that there was a certain amount of improvement, and that if more facilities were given it would be greater. Having now made the points he intended, he would ask the Secretary of State for War one or two questions. In the first place, was it right to delude the public into the belief that the force was so good that it was not necessary to take any steps to make it more efficient? Was it right to intrust the defence of the country to a force which was unable to use the only weapons of war which were in use in the hands of an Infantry soldier? And was it right to place these men in a position in which they would be certainly opposed to the picked troops of the enemy, and give them no weapon that was necessary to resist an attack under the circumstances? He answered these questions in the negative. What then was the remedy? They would be told that it was difficult to get long ranges. Probably it was, but he did not think that was the only difficulty. At any rate, if it were it must be surmounted. It had been suggested to him that this was simply a question of money; and just as the First Lord of the Admiralty yesterday had spoken of the expenditure of money on guns as an admirable expenditure, because without guns ships were useless, so he said that expenditure on ranges and the various matters calculated to afford instruction to the Militia would be admirable, because no soldier could be of any use unless he was instructed in the use of his weapons. It was a question of widening and extending ranges, of giving a more extended and careful course of instruction in musketry, and of giving to exercise some of the time now devoted to manœoeuvres, with regard to which Lord Wolseley said they were only fit to amuse nursery-maids in Hyde Park; and, further, it was a question of giving up the barrack-square drill, which might give the men a smart appearance, and which he was told was, in the opinion of some officers, the only test of excellence.


said, that they voted £1,426,000 for the Militia, which numbered 100,000 men, and the result was that each Militiaman cost the country £14—a very considerable sum indeed. He thought there were two faults in connection with the Militia System; first, with regard to numbers; and, secondly, that the men could do no shooting. Lord Salisbury, the other day, pointed out that there were in Europe 7,000,000 men under arms, and he would point out that there were only 500,000 British and Irish troops in the country, including the Militia and Volunteers. In point of numbers, therefore, there was a remarkable deficiency in the forces of the country, and a discrepancy between those forces and the Armies of Continental Powers which, he thought, extremely dangerous. He did not see how the deficiency could be made up cheaply, except by adding to the reserves and the Militia. The difference between the number of British troops under arms and the Continental troops actually under arms, was not so great, but it was the Reserves in which foreign powers were so enormously strong, and it was there that the great difference lay as between them and this country. Therefore he thought that the Secretary of State for War should try to increase the number of troops under arms and in reserve. He was obliged to conclude, more from what the Inspector-General left unsaid than from what he did say on the subject of the shooting of the Militia, that they could not shoot at all. And these men, after all, ought to be the main defence of the country. He thought if the Secretary of State would look at the question of the Militia as a whole he would see that it was totally out of gear with the times and the position of the country. The present system was extravagant in the extreme, and that reacted on the shooting. His own opinion was that a man was a good shot if he shot well at 300 yards, and that if he did so at one range he would probably shoot well at all ranges; but for this there must be certain appliances. There must be a range close to the barracks, otherwise the whole day would be taken up in getting to the range and back to the place where they were trained. This was the first thing to be secured, and then he suggested that the Militia should be remodelled. The present system of training was, in his opinion, both expensive and troublesome, and he thought that if the training were concentrated the country would save, not only in training, but in respect of the whole travelling staff. He would like to see schools in certain parts of the country, and the Militia allowed to go up when they liked for three months' drill, and a large number of men would easily he got to attend if they paid; he believed in this way 200,000 instead of 100,000 men would be obtained. This would be a clean sweep of the whole system; but it was of no use to discuss whether the Militia were well trained or not as long as they only fired 40 rounds. That number might with advantage be fired in the first day, and a man would probably require to fire a 100 rounds to make him a decent shot at the first range. To be called upon to pay £1,420,000 for 100,000 men who were bad shots, and only came up for a month's training in the year, showed that the system was thoroughly bad, and ought to be condemned. He did not say that the French, or even the Germans, knew more about these things than we; but, when he saw every country doing the same thing, he felt pretty certain that they were right in what they did, and that if we stood out we should be likely to be in the wrong. In maintaining the Militia at so small a figure they were departing from the old tradition that it should be a numerous force; that fact was of importance when the increase in Continental Armies was considered; and he thought the Secretary of State for War would do well to think over the matter and the suggestions he had made. Finally, he pointed out that it would be cheaper to employ a larger number of sergeants, and keep them at work all the year round.


said, he hoped it would not be considered that because they had remained silent during the discussion that the Militia officers in the House were not very deeply interested in this question, and that because they did not discuss it now they would not do so on a future occasion at great length. There were many subjects which he should like to touch upon, although he abstained from doing so at that period of the Session; but in case something might be done in the Recess he would say that although he agreed that the extension of the Militia would be desirable, he hoped that no plan so detrimental to the regimental system would be adopted as that foreshadowed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite.


said, he was glad that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had addressed an appeal to him on the subject of the Militia, and had spoken of the somewhat comprehensive statement made by him the other day as one from which some misunderstanding might possibly arise. Within the limits assigned to him on that occasion he had not attempted to deal with all the numerous questions connected with the Army and Auxilliary Forces as he should have liked to deal with them. He was compelled to touch on subjects in connection with which great changes were proposed, and, therefore, he had advisedly not spoken of the Militia, because he was not prepared to propose that any great changes should be made with regard to it, although following steadily the lines recently adopted he was able to say that the Militia were improving in many inportant respects. The Militia was a force on which they knew they could, to a large extent, rely in case of need; but they didn't think it should be exposed to the very severe test to which his hon. Friend the Member for Newington (Mr. Cooke) suggested, because undoubtedly they would not think of putting the whole force into the front line in the event of invasion. On the contrary, a large portion of the Militia would be occupied in garrison duty, which he was fully confident they would be well able to perform. The War Office were, of course, alive to the necessity of improving the Militia as far as they could, both in respect of numbers and efficiency, and there was no point of more importance than that dealt with by his hon. Friend the Member for Newington and the hon. and gallant Colonel opposite—namely, the question of shooting. Although he frankly admitted that in the case of the Militia there is a great deal to be desired in this respect, he must also say that on the whole there was an improvement. He could assure the House that the military authorities of the country were fully alive to the importance of further improving, as far as they could, the Militia in the matter of shooting. There were, of course, difficulties in the way which he believed the Committee would recognize. First of all there were practically only 23 working days during which the training went on in the course of the year, and it might be that too large a portion of that time was devoted to work other than shooting, but they would endeavour to utilize the time available to the full, particularly with the idea of improving the latter. More than one hon. Member had referred to great difficulty as to ranges, and the hon. Member for Newington thought that might be overcome by the expenditure of money. But the difficulty was not merely of a pecuniary character. He could assure his hon. Friend that there was a difficulty in this respect in the case of the Regular Forces, and a much greater one in the case of the Militia, and the consequence was they were obliged to take what ranges they could get in the places where the Militia were called out. His hon. Friend would say, "Call out the Militia in places where ranges were available;" but he thought the Committee would know that the moment a suggestion was made as to calling out the Militia at a new place, a howl arose from the representatives of the particular district, and it was almost impossible for the Military Authorities to remove them from the town where they had been accustomed to be called out to another town in the locality. A good deal had been said with regard to the officers. There was no doubt that the Army gained very largely by the number of officers drawn from the ranks of the Militia, and, on the other hand, the Militia was rendered more attractive by the present system under which commissions in the Army were obtainable. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Essex (Major Rasch) suggested that they should apply to the Militia what he called the time limit, and get rid of some of the old officers. There were two sides to that question; for while, on the one hand, when a commanding officer became too old to be efficient it was desirable that he should retire, and a more efficient officer put in his place, on the other hand it was exceedingly difficult in many parts of the country to attract the most efficient officers to occupy the position; and further, it must be borne in mind that a great deal was gained by having men in the Militia of large local influence and popularity. In conclusion, he repeated that the Government were fully alive to the importance of improving the Militia in the general scheme of the defence of the country, and making them thoroughly efficient for the particular duties which that force might be called upon to perform.


said, he could not help smiling when he heard the right hon. Gentleman say that he relied largely upon the Militia in the event of invasion; and he had listened with much interest to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Down (Colonel Waring), who spoke for a section of the Irish people. Having in mind the circumstance that a Militia regiment in North Down once made an attack upon a school teacher, and that whenever a Militia regiment was disbanded a large number of troops had to be imported into the town in consequence of the disgraceful behaviour of the men, he did not think there was much to be expected from the courtesy, at any rate, of the Militia. Anyone who had studied the internal economy of any Irish Militia regiment would have found that the two great desiderata were a good mess and a game of cards afterwards, and that so far as the duties they had to perform in the 23 days of training were concerned, anything like drill was looked upon with horror. These were the men on whom the right hon. Gentleman relied; but if any misfortune should require them to be called upon, he did not think the country would derive much advantage from it. He hoped that in future the bands of the Militia regiments would be required to devote some period of time to study, so as to render the symphonies which they performed less discordant; he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman in the name of harmony to spare the ears of civilians in the districts where the regiments were assembled by calling out the bands of the Regular troops. He observed an increase of £300 under Sub-head B, and of £1,500 under Subhead C, from which one would infer that there would have been an increase in the number of men, and perhaps of officers. But he challenged an explanation of the fact that there was a very great falling off, and also of the circumstance that the expense of the Militia staff was borne on this Vote.

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

asked whether during the Recess, if there was such an interval, the right hon. Gentleman would give his attention to a grave cause of irritation felt by the operation of the compulsory system as to the Militia in the Channel Islands? Such a promise would be very satisfactory.


said, his attention had of late been occupied with the subject to which the hon. Member had just referred, and he should be glad if he could see his way to putting the Militia in the Channel Islands on a more satisfactory footing. He pointed out to the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) that the increased charge of £300 under Sub-head B was for extra payments connected with submarine mining. With regard to the decrease of £2,000 in the amount for annual training, it appeared that upon the average of recent years more money had been taken than was required, and the Department felt justified in diminishing the amount this year, As to the question of Militia bands, the matter would have his attention.

MR. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)

said, he was informed that what was called "bring money" in connection with the Militia had been abolished, and he would be glad to know what had been the effect of that abolition?


said, the change was a very recent one, and he had no information yet on which he could answer the hon. Gentleman's question.


said, in his regiment of 800 men he had, before the abolition of the premium, never more than from five to eight men who did not turn up to be enrolled, but he had since found himself obliged to make arrangements to assist in getting the troops to assemble; and one of the difficulties in the way of that was, no doubt, the taking away of the half-crown for bring money. To make an efficient regiment there must be well-trained non-commissioned officers, and unless these were acquainted with the men the result which they so much desired could not be attained. He considered that the drilling of recruits at depots had been one of the greatest mistakes ever made; it had reduced the Militia by 20 or 30 per cent. and he could point to a large and distinguished regiment in Ayrshire which, once 1,200 strong, was now reduced to 600. In this matter the inclinations of the men must be considered, and they did not like to go into barracks, where they had to carry coals, rake gravel and roll it. If the Militia was to be full and strong, the Militiaman's ignorance of a soldier's life must be taken into account. Again, when men found out that they were well looked after in the Militia they would probably join the Army afterwards; but it was very difficult to get men to do so if they thought they were not going to be put under trained officers and officers belonging to their own counties.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) £76,000, Yeomanry Cavalry.


asked, whether the decrease in the numbers of the Yeomanry in respect of some regiments was due to the fact that it was unpopular with the farmers? His information was that it was unpopular on account of the expense and the obligation to keep horses up to a certain standard. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would pay attention to the suggestion that the staff officers of the different regiments should be blended together so that the expense in that respect might be lessened. The staff of the Militia was very expensive, having regard to the fact that they were only at work eight days. Would it not be possible to employ some of the officers compulsorily retired to do the work? He believed they would gladly undertake it, and would be quite fit after a little rubbing-up at Aldershot.


asked the Secretary of State for War, whether he would consider the desirability of giving half a day's pay to Yeomen when shooting their rounds? The hon. Member for Newington (Mr. Cooke) had spoken of the desirability of looking after the shooting of the Militia, and he made the same appeal on behalf of the Yeomanry. These men made considerable sacrifices in money and time when they attended for training, and they had, in addition, to give some time to shooting, on account of which he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider them entitled to some compensation.


said, he would be glad to consider the point; there was an important difference in their case, inasmuch as they came out for training during so short a period. He did not think it was possible to blend together one or two regiments of the Yeomanry Cavalry; but the whole question of the branch would be considered, and it would be his duty to consider the point which the hon. Gentleman (Dr. Farquharson) had mentioned. No doubt, adjutants might be got with advantage from among the retired officers; but the great thing to aim at was that the officers discharging the duty of adjutants should be thoroughly competent to perform their duties, and should not, by lapse of time, have lost touch with the Regular Army and its requirements. He was afraid it was true that farmers were not joining the Yeomanry in such numbers as formerly; but he hoped that when agricultural depression had passed away the country would have again a large number of farmers joining the Service.

Vote agreed to.

(4.) £442,200, Army Reserve Force (including Enrolled Pensioners).


said, he believed no one in the country—certainly not in the House—was unaware of the great value of Reserve Forces in case of emergency. Lord Cardwell, then Mr. Cardwell, when the Reserve was inaugurated, had stated in that House that, in a certain number of years, there would be 80,000 men in the Reserve. We had, however, only 51,000 or 52,000, and, as things wore at present, he did not see how more men for the Reserve were to be obtained. The two things which militated against them was the enormous waste with regard to recruits and the period of service in India. He hoped his right hon. Friend and the Committee on which he was serving, or the Royal Commission, would inquire into the matter, and see whether something could not be done with regard to lengthening the service for India and shortening the service at Home. He believed that if the latter were curtailed there would be a much larger Reserve. With regard to the important question whether the 52,000 men of the Reserve and the 30,000 men of the Militia were efficient, he ventured to say that his right hon. Friend did not in the least know whether they were effective or not, as there was no medical examination, and it was impossible to conjecture how many men ought to be rejected as unfit to take their place in the Line. No one who had given evidence before the Committee said otherwise than that, with the exception of those discharged within a year, the men were deficient in musketry instruction and drill. Therefore, he maintained that if they were to look to the Reserve as a means of defence, they were bound to see that they were efficient. If necessary, the Reserve must be called out, and he had too high an opinion of employers in this country to believe that they would not give their men the necessary leave of absence. He ventured to say that every man ought to have his arms, accoutrements, and clothing ready at a moment's notice, so that he might go down to the depôt and commence training there and then; and although his right hon. Friend might say that this would be difficult to carry out, yet the safety of the country demanded that the Reserve should be in an effective state. With regard to the Cavalry and Artillery Reserve men, they had the evidence of H. R. H. the Duke of Cambridge and many distinguished officers, including the late Colonel Duncan, whose death was sot only a great loss to that House, but also to that profession of which he was so distinguished a member. All gave evidence that although the Reserves of Cavalry and Artillery were in a certain sense most useful, yet they would not at once be fit to take their place in the ranks; and, therefore, both Cavalry and Artillery should always be kept up to full strength. His right hon. Friend said we had two Army Corps in perfect order. What everyone who had the well-being of the country at heart would like to see was that these two Army Corps should be turned out complete in every respect—Commissariat, Transport, &c., fit to embark at a moment's notice. If they were turned out, as he hoped they would be next year, we should then see whether they were efficient and effective, or whether they required to be made up to full strength by taking men from the Reserve, which he should regard as a most lamentable thing.


said, there were only 49,000 men voted for the Reserve, which was an exceedingly small number, and represented only a quarter of our whole force, whereas on the Continent the Reserve was usually double the strength of the Army. The cost of men in the Reserve was about one-tenth of the cost in the Army, and he believed that by the expenditure of £200,000 the Reserve might be brought up to 500,000 men. The Reserve did not greatly increase the expenditure, and he thought the Authorities ought seriously to consider how it might be increased. Lord Wolseley had given evidence to the effect that the Guards had never been more efficient than they were under the rule of short service, and also said that the shorter the service with the Colours the greater the number of men that would be got. Consequently, if men were allowed to retire after three years, they would get a larger number of men in the Reserve. If a soldier was a good shot, a good soldier, and of good character, he did not approve of retiring him too soon, although, of course, he would get rid of men of bad character as quickly as possible. There were a very large number of men in the Army anxious to go out after a year's service, and he thought that their object should be to get these men for seven years in the Reserve. There must, of course, be a separate system for India. This was a mere question of pay, and if the men were well paid and given a sufficient outfit, there would never be any difficulty in getting men to go to India. But now, in order to have regiments at home, and in order to have less trouble, the Government were keeping down and starving the whole Reserve. The second question started by the hon. and gallant Baronet was the calling out of the Reserves. Of course it would make the Reserves more efficient to call them out, but the question was whether it was worth while to give the men all the pain and annoyance which would be occasioned by that operation. The men could go up there and be drilled for a certain number of days, and in that way their efficiency might be kept up. That, he thought, might be done; and if it was thought that the men did not come up in sufficient numbers for the purposes of drill, pay them a little more. That would have the effect of securing better attendance. He did not say that even under those circumstances they would get all the Reserves to come up for drill; but, at any rate, they would get an appreciably large number. It would be a very unwise thing, however, to put upon the men the unnecessary strain of calling them out. They would not object to being called out through any distaste they had for the military life, but they did not like to lose their work. Did not the hon. and gallant Admiral remember what occurred when the Reserves were last called out? Many letters had been written by the men, declaring that they had lost their employment. Such a condition of things rendered the Service unpopular. Military Authorities were always anxious to call out the Reserve. They declared that they liked to see the men—that they liked to see the regiments look big. Military Authorities did not believe in the existence of the regiments unless they saw the men together; but his (Colonel Nolan's) contention was that it was not necessary to call out the Reserves in order to prove that the force existed, because their past experience showed that 93 or 94 per cent of the men came up. He was in favour of calling out the men voluntarily, but not of calling them out forcibly, which was a part of the policy of keeping up an insufficiently largo Reserve. He believed they would increase the Reserve if they adopted the plan of allowing men to retire into the Reserve as soon as possible, and making the Reserve men as comfortable as circumstances permitted.


said, the questions raised by his hon. and gallant Friend were of great importance. When the hon. and gallant Member had said that they should consider the views of the two bodies who had been engaged in considering the question of our naval defences, he (Mr. E. Stanhope) replied that the matter had received the utmost consideration from his Colleagues and from himself. They had very carefully thought over the suggestions made with respect to both the points to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman had drawn attention. Now, however, he would restrict himself entirely to the question of the Army Reserve. No doubt the hon. and gallant Gentleman was aware that among the items in the evidence on which the Committee of the present year had laid stress, were the strong recommendations made by competent mili- tary authorities that the Army Reserve could not be in a satisfactory state, or, at any rate, that they were not aware that they could be in a satisfactory state unless some proper means were adopted for calling them out. From all the evidence which reached him (Mr. E. Stanhope), he was sure they could rely to a great extent upon the Infantry Reserve. When called out, the Infantry Reserve came up well, and was found to be adequate to the services required of it. It was, however, somewhat different with the Artillery and Cavalry Reserves. Though the hon. and gallant Gentleman had quoted the evidence of their late lamented friend, Colonel Duncan, on the subject, he had not referred to the evidence of a much higher authority, which he might have done with advantage. Lord Wolseley had dissented from the view that the Cavalry and Artillery Reserves were useless, although he had admitted that it might be desirable to test them by calling them out. There were many difficulties in the way of calling out the Reserves. Everyone knew perfectly well that if they were to call out the whole of the Army Reserve at any given period of the year, or, indeed, if they were to call out it every year, they would find that many employers who now took Reserve men into their service would hesitate very much before doing so. If they made a reckless experiment in this way, they would run the risk of discrediting the Reserve and of preventing men from coming into the Army because of the probability that during their period in the Reserve they would have no chance of regular employment. Taking into consideration the evidence which had been brought before them, and the opinions expressed by high military authorities, they had come to the conclusion at the War Office that they ought to proceed carefully and cautiously in experimenting on this question. He proposed to make a suggestion to his Colleagues which would have the effect of increasing the official information about the Reserves, with out incurring the danger which would undoubtedly arise from a frequent calling out of the men.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) £845,600, Clothing Establishments, Services, and Supplies.

SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

said, he had put an Amendment on the Paper to this Vote—an Amendment which he should like to have moved on Vote 1. He did not intend to press the Amendment however, and would, therefore, merely allude to it. Observations had been made upon the subject with which he wished to deal, on the Vote just agreed to. The recommendation he wished to make had been prevented by the establishment of the betwixt and between system six or seven years ago. He thought that they ought to have a real long service and a real short service Army—that they should have a long service Army established in India. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) had told them that they would certainly gain by that system. They would have a large Reserve, for they then would get, as Lord Wolseley had pointed out, a much larger number of men to enlist for short service if they knew they were not liable to be sent to India. However, he did not wish to press that point. He only desired to say a word, with a Radical view of the whole question of our Army defence, which arose on a particular point of the Militia Reserve. The moral he had drawn from the recent Naval Manœuvres was that no Navy which we were likely to have under the present circumstances of this wicked world, would be a sufficient defence, and, without awaiting the arrival of the Millenium, we must increase our land forces at home. He thought it was clear that we could not expect that any reasonable Navy we might have would be able to protect all our different ports and our naval stations in the event of war breaking out. Certainly it could not be done by gunboats or torpedo boats, and panics would be sure to arise as they had in the case of a Scotch town not long ago, which was shelled and bombarded whilst the people were at church. He maintained that they required not so much an increase in our Navy as an increase in the land forces at home, and this was a point upon which he should like to say a few words. His view was that we should have that which we had not now—a defensive force at home, each locality having as strong a body of men as was necessary to defend it from the sudden incursion of an enemy.


I must point out to the hon. Member the fact that he is travelling far outside the Vote now before the Committee.


, on the point of Order, said, it had been an understanding for the last 16 or 17 years that on the Clothing Vote they could go into the general question of military defence. A regular arrangement upon this subject was usually made at the beginning of the year. They were now in the month of December, and they seemed to have forgotten what happened last March, and this showed how inconvenient it was to have such a prolonged Session. He should like to know whether they were not to be allowed to have a general talk on Army matters on the subject of the Clothing Vote.


said, it was an understanding frequently arrived at from Session to Session to allow the first Vote to be taken, and to have a general discussion upon a subsequent Vote. He did not think that such an understanding had been come to this Session, but even if it had it seemed to him that the point the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) was raising was one which he would not be entitled to raise on the present Vote.


said, that the understanding arrived at this year was—that Vote 1 being agreed to, a general discussion should take place upon Vote 12—the Vote for Stores.


said, he thought the understanding was that a discussion should take place upon Vote 11.

CAPTAIN COTTON (Chester, Wirral)

said, he trusted the authorities at the War Office would consider, during the Recess, the desirability of providing better clothing in the matter of appearance and cut of the Royal Artillery. He thought he should be best consulting the convenience of the Committee if be did not enter fully into the question now. If the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War would give him a promise that he would talk the matter over with him, he would not do more than mention the subject in this way.


said, his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War would have great pleasure in going into this question with the hon. and gallant Member. He was fully aware that some questions had been raised as to the clothing of the Artillery, and the matter should certainly be looked into.

Vote agreed to.

(6.) £119,800, Establishments for Military Education.

(7.) £68,600, Miscellaneous Effective Services.

CAPTAIN SELWYN (Cambridge, Wisbeach)

said, he saw that under this Vote there was money asked for for Military Attachés abroad. He should like to draw attention to the fact that we had now two Military Attachés—one in Paris and one in Berlin, who seemed to have been holding their appointments for a considerable time, but whom he believed were shortly to give up their appointments and return to their regiments. He wanted to ask the Government if they thought that officers who were absent from their regiments for a considerable period—for eight or 10 years—and who had lost touch with their regiments, should be brought back to command them? There was a general feeling amongst officers in the Army that if a man was away from his regiment for a protracted period, care should be taken that he should not be suddenly brought back into the important position of commanding officer of his regiment.


said, he was quite aware that officers liked Home Rule inside a regiment, and liked to have an officer whom they knew to command them. But if the Government abolished the present system they would have to abolish Military Attachés altogether. They would not get a good officer to act as Military Attaché if the fact of his accepting such a post was to cut him off from his regiment. They had better do one of two things—namely, if the officers employed as Military Attachés were capable men to keep them in touch with the Service, or else abolish Military Attachés altogether. If they told an officer to whom they offered the post of Military Attaché that he would never have the chance of commanding a regiment, and never have the chance of becoming a General, they would never be able to induce an officer to take the post of Military Attaché.


said, he agreed with the observations of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Galway. He should like to add that it would not be right to allow an officer to be absent from his regiment as Military Attaché, and then to allow him to return to the commanding of a regiment, unless the Commander-in-Chief was fully notified that such officer was quite competent to command his regiment. In the cases mentioned he could assure the Committee that the Commander-in-Chief would not recommend that these officers should be allowed to return to their regiments unless he was thoroughly satisfied of their competency.


said, he should like to know how it was that there was an increase of £620 in the pay of the Military Attachés abroad. Was this in consequence of an increase in the number of Military Attachés? If so, what was the increase, and what was the object of it? And there was another point about which he should like to put a question. There was an increase of £242 under the head "Miscellaneous." It was a very easy thing, when they found that there had been an increase in some small matters, to bring the items together and put them under such a head as this. He was of opinion that the sooner these "Miscellaneous" headings were done away with the better. The country should know for what specific purpose the money had been expended.


said, that increase had arisen from the temporary employment of an officer as Military Attaché in Italy. Great importance was attached to our having a representative in Italy for the purpose of observing the great advance which that country had made in warlike operations and materiel, and in the organization of her army. We had a Military Attaché at Rome for the purpose of giving information on these matters. With regard to the amount under the head "Miscellaneous," he could offer no explanation.


, said he hoped the hon. Gentleman would excuse him for calling attention to the increase under the head of "Miscellaneous." It was the second increase in the Vote. If he might be permitted to say so, in order to save time in future discussions upon these subjects, it would be as well to put an end to left-hand statements across the Table. If they could have an explanation of these increases put in the Estimates themselves there would be no occasion to ask for explanations.

Vote agreed to.

(8.) £257,900, War Office.


said, he wished to draw attention to an important subject which would come properly under this Vote, which came under the head of "Director of Contracts." He had no fault to find in any way with the present Director of Contracts, but only with the policy of the Department. It was only fair to say that the policy of the Director of Contracts was really the policy of the War Office and the Government. Though the Director of Contracts was in charge of the matter, the subject, in one way, was too big for him, and though he (Colonel Nolan) was discussing the point on the salary of this official, he did not wish to bring any personal charge against him. He desired, however, to say that in the matter of contracts there was a great waste of public money. A large amount of war material which was obtained in the Department of the Director of Contracts was purchased by open competition—such things as hay, oats, straw, bread, and meat. These things they procured at the cheapest rate; but there was another large portion of material to follow, amounting to more than £1,000,000 a-year, which was not obtained by open tender. They had obtained the evidence of the Director of Contracts with regard to this system of procuring supplies, and it seemed that in the case of the expenditure of this £1,000,000 they paid for a large number of articles prices very much above the cost of manufacture. These articles were chiefly guns, gun-carriages, material for field batteries, metal, and hundreds of other articles—even such a thing as coke at one time was obtained without open tender. So far as coal and coke were concerned, however, the system had been modified, because it was admitted on all hands to be a scandal that such things as those should not be put to open contract. Now, the moral effect of giving away £1,000,000 without open contract opened the door to a great deal of patronage, and without suggesting any improper conduct on the part of the officials, from the foremen upwards, he wished to say that the sum was far too large to be expended in such a way, for it was possible to distribute it by favour. He did not say that it had been distributed by favour, but there was nothing in the present system to prevent such a distribution. Unfortunately, it was to the interest of the officials in the manufacturing establishments that the present should continue. None of the officials who were appointed heads or subheads of the Department had ever got one penny from this system—certainly not directly, and he did not think they had made anything out of it indirectly. No doubt we were certain to get a good article where there was no open tender, because when we paid 60 or 70 per cent above the cost of manufacture it was obviously to the interest of the person with whom we dealt to supply goods of the best quality. The officers of the Manufacturing Departments, finding the articles of a good quality, did not find it necessary to exercise the same amount of inspection. Therefore, they were perfectly satisfied with the system. They always had the Heads of Departments favourable to the present system. On the other hand, by limiting the number of contractors they prevented some manufacturers who would be willing to supply goods of the best quality at much lower rates from doing business with the Departments. Persons who were not on the list of favoured contractors to whom the Government applied for the material in which they dealt were unable to do business with the Government. It was very difficult to get on the favoured list. His contention was that where they had to purchase a large quantity of material—a quantity exceeding £1,000,000 value a-year—they would always be able to obtain some of it below cost price. The Director General of Artillery had declared in evidence that he would not give much for articles manufactured under cost price, but the price depended upon the market, and it was a fact that they got, even from Sir Joseph Whit worth's manufactory, some articles at a remarkably cheap rate. Besides, every business man knew perfectly well that goods were obtainable at a very cheap rate, if put up to open tender. He did not wish to trespass too long on the time of the Committee, or infringe too much on the understanding entered into at the beginning of the discussion, but there had been a good deal of evidence given on this subject before the Select Committee appointed at the instance of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), and a great many people were under the impression that the prices paid in cases where open tender was not insisted upon, were considerably above what would have to be paid under the open tender system. The evidence of experts was that in many cases they could not be certain, by inspection, of the good or bad quality of certain articles. They said that they could not be sure of the quality of the goods unless they could choose the manufacturer; and, further, that, under certain circumstances, there was no time for inspection, and that they must have a manufacturer whom they could trust. Well, the country was now paying £6,000 or £7,000 a-year more for additional officers in the Inspection Department of the Army; it was not too much to say, in fact, that a new Department had been created. Surely, then, it was now possible to properly inspect and test all warlike material. Inspectors, as a rule, had the right of entering into the factories where the articles purchased were being made, and the right of seeing the process of manufacture, and as to whether the goods supplied to the Government were properly made or not. Well, though he could go into this subject at much greater length, he thought the time had come when the Secretary for War should declare to the Director of Contracts that a very large number of contracts should be put up to open competition. Of course, he did not propose that every article should be tendered for, and whenever the Secretary for War wished to exempt any special article from the ordinary rule of open tender, it was only right that he should obtain such article from a particular manufacturer, but he should have a definite reason for doing this. Of course, such a thing as the Maxim machine gun could not be put up to open competition. If they did put it up to open competition, he doubted if they would get as good an article as they could at present. There were plenty of exemptions to the system he advocated, but they would not amount in value to anything like £1,000,000. It certainly should not be necessary to exempt from open tender such articles as pig-iron, steel, and gun-carriages. Any engineer could turn out a gun-carriage and articles of that kind; but he certainly thought the time had come when the authorities at the War Office should do something in the direction he suggested. They should either adopt a system of open advertisement, or, at all events, modify the present system as far as possible, and put the supply of a large number of articles at present purchased privately on the same footing as hay, oats, bread, and so on.

SIR WILLIAM PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)

said, he had observed on the Notice Paper a Motion to reduce the Vote in the name of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury), who had intended to move a reduction in regard to the Director General of Contracts. Now, he (Sir William Plowden) could not allow this Vote to pass without some comment on the system of contract now in force in the Army Departments. Last year, when he had the honour of being on the Army and Navy Estimates Committee, they came to a point where some information was asked for as to the contracts for shells, and he thought this was an instance which might very properly be brought to the attention of the Committee as illustrating how unsatisfactorily the present system had worked. It was proved that one firm got a contract to supply 7,000 studless shells at £78 per 100, and on the same day, another firm got a contract for the same quality and the same shells at £126 per 100; but that was not all, for the first firm subsequently wrote saying that they had made a mistake, and that the prime cost to them was £112 10s. per 100, and they were paid at that price. Well, there is more than this. There is a book called the Woolwich Vocabulary, published every three years by Government, which gives the prices of the various Magazine stores, calculated by the Woolwich authorities. In this book the outside price of this particular shell is given as £121. Thus not only was this contract given out the same day to two different parties at two very different prices, but we have also the significant fact that one of these prices is absolutely considerably in excess of what the Woolwich Vocabulary gives as the outside cost of production—that is, the No. 2 Balance Sheet price. He (Sir William Plowden) in this matter did not wish to say one word against the Director General of Contracts. He knew nothing about him, but a system which resulted in such facts as this was altogether to be deplored and condemned, and called for amendment as soon as possible. It evidenced one of two things—either that the Director of Contracts was incompetent to discharge the duty he had undertaken, or there was something which had not come out to account for the extraordinary circumstances he had referred to. Other cases similar to the one to which he referred had also been set forth in the Auditor and Controller General's Report on the Army Appropriation Accounts for 1887. And would it be conceived as possible that when the Controller and Auditor General asked for information on these matters, he was at once met by the War Office telling him that he had no business to make such inquiries. They refused to give him the information for which he asked. The Controller and Auditor General said he had a right to ask for the information, but they declined to give it. This official had been quite right in making his application, because he had a Parliamentary function to perform, and it was desirable, if there was anything which could be complained of, that he should bring it under the notice of Parliament in his Annual report. He trusted some explanation would be forthcoming in this matter.


said, arising out of what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan), he should like to ask whether the Government would not think it desirable that the contractors who did not supply stores equal to agreement should be liable to some further penalty than that which at present they were liable to. From the Commissions which had sat to inquire into the character of Army stores, especially that of the Egyptian Campaign, it was shown that the supply of hay and other provisions to Her Majesty's forces did not come up to the proper standard. It was shown that in time of war, when the staff had a great deal to do, and were not able to give the goods sent in a thorough inspection, there was great danger of inferior goods being passed. He therefore thought that contractors who knowingly, or through culpable negligence, allowed goods of an inferior quality to be sent in should be made directly liable to some heavy penalty. At present the only penalty was being placed in the black books of the Government, and it was well known that a firm could easily assume another name and still continue to supply goods to the Government. His observations had reference more particularly to circumstances which transpired in time of war. They could not at such times rely upon having a sufficient body of expert Inspectors to take care that nothing was passed for the supply of the Army which was unfit for use. That was why he thought the contractors should be rendered liable to heavy penalties for supplying articles of bad quality.


said, the Government were anxious to hold all contractors to their engagements to the best of their ability, but when the hon. Member said that contractors who supplied bad goods should be made subject to a heavy penalty, it must be remembered that the penalty the Government at present inflicted for the non-performance, according to the terms of a contract, was a very heavy one, the articles being returned. In this way articles were thrown upon the hands of the contractor, which, in nine cases out of ten, were unsaleable in other quarters. Therefore, the first penalty entailed upon contractors in these cases was a very heavy one, and cost those persons a great deal of money. It had been shown that the goods which had already been rejected had been sent in again, and subsequently passed. That was an important matter, and against such a state of things ample precautions had now been taken. As to contractors dealing under another name, that also was a subject the War Office had directed its eyes upon to the fullest extent. One firm, Messrs. Ross and Co., had been struck off the books of the War Office for infringing the rules in this matter, and he believed they were no longer in business. Everything had been done to prevent goods being brought in under another name. In the case of criminal negligence or a fraud, there was, of course, a legal remedy, and certainly the Government would not scruple to employ it when necessary. As to the remarks of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Sir William Plowden), it was a little difficult to deal with those questions which were of very old standing, and which were not immediately within their recollection. But the hon. Member asked, why a contract had been entered into to supply shells with one firm at £78 per 100, and with Messrs. Armstrong at £126 per 100. This was a very peculiar case. It was the first time that this other firm had competed for the supply of these shells. Only a trial order had been given, and it was found out that the firm had made a total mistake in the price they had quoted for the articles. They subsequently asked that the price should be altered, and the War Office had consented. With regard to the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Galway, the Secretary of State was at one with him as to the desirability of opening up competition wherever it could be done, and they had already done that to a very large extent. He did not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman could have heard the reply which was given to the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) only four or five months ago. With regard to large guns they had, for the first time, called upon every firm who was likely to be able to construct them of the description required, and a large contract had been given to another firm besides Messrs. Armstrong and Messrs. Whitworth. He could not agree with the hon. Member when he spoke of the Inspection Department as a means of decreasing the price. He admitted that a large number of contracts were taken below cost price, but while that was an advantage to the Government in some respects, it also had its dangers, as every businessman would agree. He should not like to take the responsibility of giving out a contract in a case where he knew that the manufacturer had undertaken to supply articles below cost price. The result of accepting contracts below cost price was that a large number of articles were passed into the Service which were not fit for use. The establishment of a more efficient system of inspection had had a tendency to run up prices. For articles for which they formerly paid a sweating price, they were now forced to pay a higher price, and if they got a better article through their inspection, and after due competition, they could not complain of having to pay the cost price and a small percentage over. Having regard to this, they were determined to extend, as far as they could, the system of open contracts. They had increased their list of contractors very largely, and had placed articles on the open list which formerly were purchased privately. That was the course they were pursuing, and would endeavour to pursue as much as possible in the future.


said, he considered the answer of the hon. Member very satisfactory on the whole. He was aware that these reforms could not be effected with a rush. But he thought the hon. Gentleman was wrong in saying that the inspection had a tendency to run up prices. He thought that the absence of inspection, which was due to private purchase and high prices, had a tendency to keep up those prices. His suggestion was that now that they had better inspection they could afford to have open competition.

COLONEL EYRE (Lincolnshire, Gainsborough)

said, he desired to have some information with regard to the pay of shorthand writers in the War Office. He understood that the shorthand writers were paid at the rate of something like two guineas a day, and he understood that they were only employed for some three or four hours during the course of the day.


wished to know whether the Secretary of State for War could give any information as to certain articles having been supplied by foreigners to an English firm. He should also like to know if the War Office would take steps to carry out the plans for employing discharged soldiers in the War Office. If there was a way of putting soldiers in some of these places covered by the item of £6,500, employment would be given to a very meritorious class of men who at the present time needed employment.


assured his hon. and gallant Friend that the War Office were desirous of obtaining the assistance of discharged soldiers. At the present time no messenger was appointed who had not been a soldier. He was person- ally favourable to the appointment of military clerks; and although he was afraid there would not be much additional demand in the War Office, at any rate, for the higher class of clerks, he should be very glad, whenever occasion served, to avail himself of the services of those who had served in the Army. His hon. and gallant Friend had also asked for information respecting the contract lately given to Messrs. Wilkinson. He gave the contract to Messrs. Wilkinson with the sole object of enabling the bayonets to be made in this country. The last contract was, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman knew, carried out at Solingen in Germany; and he (Mr. E. Stanhope) was very anxious that bayonets in future should be made in this country, and accordingly he gave the contract to Messrs. Wilkinson. As to what had happened since, he was dependent upon the statement of Messrs. Wilkinson. That firm assured him, however, that they had done their utmost to obtain English workmen qualified to do the work required. They were gradually obtaining a staff of competent English workmen; and he was confident that, before any long time had elapsed, they would find it possible to obtain in this country all the labour connected with the making of bayonets. So far as regarded the importation of any foreign weapons, instead of providing weapons made in this country, he had no evidence before him to show that Messrs. Wilkinson had not made the bayonets in this country. Certain evidence had been tendered to him, which he was now examining, but so far as the matter went at present he had no evidence to satisfy him that the weapons Messrs. Wilkinson were now furnishing us with had not been made in England. If it should turn out that the weapons had been imported from abroad, and given to us as weapons made in this country, of course he should have to consider what action he should take upon the contract. He was asked by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Colonel Eyre) a question concerning the employment of shorthand writers by the War Department. He was glad to say that they did not often have to avail themselves of the services of professional shorthand writers. However, whenever it was requisite they employed shorthand writers outside at the recognized scale of remuneration. But, fortunately, several clerks in the War Office could write shorthand, and their services as shorthand writers were available without any extra cost to the State.

MR. THEODORE FRY (Darlington)

said, there was one question he desired to ask the Secretary of State for War upon the salary of the Director of Artillery and Stores, and that was with reference to melinite, the explosive now used so much by the French Government. He would like to know whether any experiments with the explosive had been made in this country, and, if so, whether the results of the experiments were likely to lead to the adoption of the explosive by this country.


That subject cannot be dealt with on this Vote.

Vote agreed to.

(9.) £17,200, Rewards for Distinguished Services.

(10.) £74,400, Half Pay.


said, he could not allow this Vote to pass without expressing the very earnest hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would, before next Session, give very careful attention to the evidence given before the Select Committee upon Army Estimates, and would endeavour to do something to lessen the abuse which most Members recognized as existing in the present system, consisting in the employment of a very much larger number of general officers than we could possibly find work for. They had it upon the highest military authority that there were 109 generals for whom no work could be found, and they also had it on good authority that in other Armies no one was promoted to the rank of general officer until there was need for his services in that capacity. It was said that an Army like ours, which was employed in all parts of the world, was obliged to have a large number of generals. He could recognize the force of that argument; but, at the same time, to have 109 generals more than we wanted was rather too large a reserve.


said, he had not a word of complaint to say in regard to the statement of the hon. Gentleman, who had put perfectly correctly before the Committee the issue raised before the Committee on Army Estimates. He had already assured the Committee that the matter was engaging his earnest attention; and, indeed, he believed he should be able to present to the House with the next Estimates a scheme dealing with this question.

Vote agreed to.

(11.) £1,196,200, Retired Pay, &c.


said, that although this Vote was to be discussed fully next year, he wished to say now that, in his opinion, we were on the wrong tack as regarded retired pay. Our system was to give increased retired pay for increased service; while, on the other hand, we were compelling young men to retire because we induced, by increased retiring allowances, older men to stay on. It seemed to him that this system was entirely wrong, and he ventured to suggest another system, exactly the reverse of the present system—namely, a maximum pension to be given at a fixed age, say at 45 years of age, irrespective of rank; but to allow any officer to remain on, irrespective of rank, up to the age of 55, if, in the opinion of the Inspecting General, the officer remained so long efficient, no increase of pension whatever being given for increased length of service. The advantages which he thought would ensue from this scheme were these. In the first place, we would get rid of the very great grievance of compulsory retirement, for it was not good for the Army to have a number of men going about complaining of the result of their military service. Secondly, we should very largely decrease the pension list—he was not an actuary, but it seemed to him certain that if the maximum pension were fixed at £300 a-year, there must be a decrease of the pension list; and, thirdly, we would get rid of the drones, for there were drones in the Army as well as in other services. The effect would be, in his opinion, that men who did not take a real interest in the military profession, who were never likely to get on, never likely to hold high office, would very goon accept the maximum retiring pension of £300; while, on the other hand, we would retain the services of the best men, those who really took an interest in military affairs, for they would be induced to stay on by the prospect of promotion to high place and to the higher pay. There was nothing at all now or novel in this proposal; it had been the system of the Indian Civil Service for very many years past. In that great Civil Service there was a maximum pension after a service of 24 years, but a man could stay on as long as he liked, but he did not receive any higher pension. The result of that system had been that the men who were not likely to hold high office—he did not wish to use any uncivil word—but the inferior men, as a rule, came home, while the best men were retained in the Service by the prospect—in fact, the certainty—of high pay and higher office. The Indian Civil Service, especially in its upper branches, was admitted on all hands to be a very efficient and effective Service, and he believed it derived its main efficiency from the system which had existed for many years past of a maximum retiring pension. In the Indian Local Army exactly the opposite system prevailed. The pension increased by grades every five years, until, after 37 years' service, it reached the enormous sum of £1,150 a-year. The result of that system was that every man determined, however little interest he took in his profession—in fact, the more idle a man was the more he determined, if possible, to stay on, in order to earn every five years a higher pension, and perhaps ultimately, by 37 years' service, to attain the maximum pension of £1,150. The expense to the Exchequer of this system was enormous; while, on the other hand, it led to great and increasing inefficiency in the upper ranks of the Indian Local Army. The upper ranks of that Army were choked by old and inefficient men. He proposed, in regard to our own Army, a system exactly contrary to that, because he believed the system he proposed would largely decrease the cost of pensions, give much greater satisfaction to the retiring officers, and probably largely increase the efficiency of the Service.


said, he could not altogether accept the view the hon. and gallant Gentleman had taken with regard to the Indian Civil Service, but he did accept the hon. and gallant Gentleman's view that the Indian Army Services were shockingly mismanaged. When the hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the Indian Civil Service system was altogether successful, he (Sir George Campbell) was not quite sure of it. He was a little afraid that the system of large pensions drove young men out of the Service; that it was not altogether the inefficient men who left the Service. Some men might think they could do better elsewhere, and might, therefore, be willing to accept the maximum pension of £300. What he wanted to say particularly, however, was that he shared the hon. and gallant Gentleman's view as to the extreme necessity of having an efficient Home Army; and he wished to ascertain whether the Government had done anything to insure the utilization of the services of retired officers to whom the country was paying annually enormous sums? Constant complaints were made of the deficiency among Militia and Volunteer officers, and he had always insisted that, if the nation paid large sums by way of retired allowances to officers, it should be able to insist in practice—he believed it did in theory—that the services of the retired officers should be at the disposal of the country. He was strongly of opinion that in the present state of the world, the silver streak having become somewhat effaced, we required a very strong defensive Army. We ought to get something for our money. If pensions were paid to officers, those officers ought to be still available. He thought there was great danger in commuting pensions, because when an officer had commuted his pension the country had no hold on him.


said, that if officers left the Service at an early age, on a considerable pension, their services were available in case of emergency up to the age of 55. That was a condition under which officers received their pensions, and that was a condition Her Majesty's Government intended to hold them to. He inferred that the hon. Gentleman (Sir George Campbell) would not allow officers to commute their pensions until they had attained the age of 55; that subject had received the attention of the War Office, and they were now in communication with the Treasury in regard to it. They were framing rules against such commutation, and he thought that very shortly they would be in a position to make a statement upon the question. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Fareham (General Sir Frederick FitzWygram) was no doubt aware that this Vote had been the subject of very great study and concern to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had made some extremely valuable suggestions; but, as he was aware, it was not the intention of the Department to leave the Vote in its present condition if they could help it. They were, however, bound to fulfil existing engagements with officers who had already retired. They were desirous of causing no stagnation in promotion in the Army; and his right hon. Friend had proposals before him with the view of preventing and checking the continuous increase of this Vote, and, if possible, of diminishing it substantially as time went on.

Vote agreed to.

(12.) £126,700, Widows' Pensions, &c.

(13.) £14,700, Pensions for Wounds.

(14.) £31,300, Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals.

(15.) £178,300, Superannuation Allowances.

(16.) £44,900, Retired Allowances, &c. to Officers of the Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteer Forces.

(17.) £38,000, Ordnance Factories.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.

Committee to sit again To-morrow.