§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ 1. £1,551,100, Retired Pay, Half-Pay, and other Non-Effective Charges for Officers, &c.
§ * (4.10.) GENERAL FRASER (Lambeth, N.)
In again bringing forward the present unfortunate position of the purchase officers of Her Majesty's Army, and in appealing for the appointment of a Royal Commission by Her Most Gracious Majesty to inquire into their alleged grievances, I would put stress on the actual fact that there is not, and that there has never been, the slightest desire to re-open the question of the abolition of the purchase system. The Secretary of State for War, in his reply to the deputation on March 3rd, 1891, of Service Members of this House, gave as the reason for the Government not granting a Royal Commission to inquire into the alleged grievances of the purchase officers of the Army, that—The proposal made by the deputation was 'that Government should re-open the whole question of purchases.'The deputation had made no sort of proposal, directly or indirectly, to re-open the whole or any part whatever of the question of purchase, and simply appealed for an inquiry into the present position of the purchase officers, as affected by Royal Warrants since the abolition of Purchase. Mr. Stanhope said that—What the Government had to do now was to carry out the conclusions Parliament had arrived at, and to give purchase officers what Parliament had said should be given to them, 1442 and not what Parliament had said they ought not to have.The purchase officers, through the deputation, simply claimed to be able to show before an impartial inquiry that—what the Parliament had said should be given to them has not been given them—that the conclusions that the Parliament arrived at have not been carried out—and that they do not ask to have what the Parliament said they ought not to have. On the abolition of purchase by a Royal Warrant in 1871, the following conclusions were arrived at:—H.R.H. the Commander-in-Chief, in debate, on July 14th, 1871, said—The Secretary of State for War has declared most distinctly that he intends that the flow of promotion shall be maintained at its present rate. That is the essential point. It is essential that that How shall be kept up. Let there be no mistake about that; upon that the efficiency of the British Army depends.In spite of the promises that the flow of promotion should be kept up, and that purchase officers should not suffer, Ave find, by the Army List, of January, 1891, that promotion to the General Officers' List is almost at a standstill; and that full Colonels, who have held unremunerative commissions for years, at the sacrifice of sums such as £3,200 and £4,500, are relegated to retirement when they approach remunerative grades. We find that, in January, there were 540 full Colonels on the Active List of the Army, and that of that number no less than 347 are purchase officers, with all the rights guaranteed to them by honourable pledges; but in consequence of the wholesale reduction of the Generals' establishment, and the age clause, the bulk of them will be retired. These are the very officers who His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief spoke of before Lord Penzance's Royal Commission as being entitled to, and having a right to, promotion. A very small percentage of them can hope to obtain that promotion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), then Prime Minister, in the House of Commons, on July 20th, 1871, gave these assurances—One thing it is my duty to state, on the part of the Government, and that is—that come what may—we shall use the best means in our power, mindful of the honourable pledges we have given to secure to the hands of Parliament 1443 just and liberal terms for the officers of the Army.Again—The principle is, in the first place, to give to the officers what they are equitably and legally entitled to; and, in the second, whenever a doubt exists as to the amount they could properly claim, to rule that doubt in their favour.Again—He would not ask the House to abolish purchase without paying over-regulation prices, for we believe such a course to be opposed to honour and justice.And yet, in spite of these honourable pledges, purchase officers have been and are being compulsorily retired on the same pensions as non-purchase officers, without receiving one farthing of the over-regulation price of their commissions. Further, purchase officers compulsorily retired from the command of regiments have to remain for five years on half-pay of £200 a year for Infantry, and £220 a year for Cavalry—whilst the non-purchase officer may retire at once on £420 a year: to gain which advantage the purchase officer is called on to pay his over-regulation money back to the Government. Earl Granville, on July 29th, 1871, assured the House of Lords in those words—We wish to do everything in our power, that we believe to be just, towards the officers of Her Majesty's Service, and we look to your Lordships' public spirit and sense of justice to co-operate with us in doing that which every Member of the House who spoke, expressed the strongest anxiety, namely, to insure justice to the officers.Further, when questioned by General Viscount Melville, Lord Granville declared that—The security of the officers will be excellent.And added—I rather regret, indeed, that doubt should be expressed in this House as to the likelihood of the House of Commons tampering with a Parliamentary security thus.Mr. Cardwell, Secretary of State for War, gave these honourable pledges on April 1st, 1871, in the HOUSE of Commons, that—The principle of the Bill is not properly described as being one of compensation. It is rather a complete indemnification given to every officer for their fair pecuniary claims.Again, on May 6th—The business of Parliament is to give complete indemnification, neither more nor less, to those affected by what it was doing.1444 Also—It is impossible in minute arrangements to do perfect and accurate justice in every case, then the balance will be cast in favour of the officer.Again, on June 9th—The object is to give the person interested what he really would have received if the Bill had not passed.The chief causes of the grievances from which the officers allege that they suffer are the following:—"The reduction of the Generals' establishment" from 275 to 68 for the purchase corps, namely, the Cavalry and the Infantry, contrary to the strong recommendation of that Commission, thereby causing stagnation and holding back officers from promotion till they are caught by the age clauses and compulsorily retired. The issue of ever-changing Royal Warrants, the uncertainty consequent thereon causing anxiety, unrest, and distrust. Compulsory retirement at an early age. The abrupt alteration and redaction of the age clauses. The uncertain periods allowed for tenure of command of battalions, varying from six years to seven months, contrary to the recommendation of the Royal Commission. Compulsory retirement from service for enforced non-employment. Compulsory continuance of service for five years on half-pay of £220 a year, for purchase officers who have their purchase money in the hands of the Government, whilst the non-purchase officers, who have no commission money at stake, are permitted at once to retire on a pension of £420. The gain to the State of the enforced commission money of purchase officers who did in the Service. That the claim for the over-regulation money of the officers who were Lieutenants on the abolition of purchase is ignored, in certain cases. The claims of the Depôt Battalion officers, who were compulsorily placed on half-pay, for over-regulation money, or for an opportunity of proving their alleged rights to such commission money before an independent tribunal. The fact that the War Office has repealed in certain cases the reward of £100 for distinguished and meritorious service granted by Her Majesty, and has reduced the sum to £60 in other cases. The ignoring of most important recommendations of Lord Penzance's Royal Commission, The scheme of selection 1445 to the establishment of general officers, by which officers of the highest distinction and great experience, Companions of the Bath, and passed Staff College men, are passed over without reason being given, at a loss of promotion, pay, and pension. The fact that there is no appeal from the decision of the War Office, or of the Army Purchase Commissioners, who are officials of that Department. With regard to the position of full Colonels on the Active List no blow has been more severe from the War Office to the purchase officer than the deprivation of attaining the rank of substantive General. For this rank and the honours to be won in the Service he has staked his life and his fortune, "the age clauses" and "ever-changing Warrants" bringing destruction to his prospects. The New Warrant of February, 1890, blasts the hopes of numerous officers of high repute, who have been induced by honourable pledges and the preambles of Royal Warrants to aspire to the grade of general officers. Many of these officers were field officers when purchase was abolished, and they have left in the hands of Government sums varying from £3,200 to £4,500 without interest during these past 19 years. A number of these will be compulsorily retired, caught by the age clauses of previous ever-changing Warrants, which have already caused such havoc amongst most distinguished officers. The establishment of general officers was fixed by Royal Warrant of December, 1870, as 275 for the purchase corps, namely, the Cavalry and the Infantry. The continuance of this number was confirmed by the very strong recommendation of Lord Penzince's Royal Commission Report in 1876, five years after the abolition by Loyal Warrant of the purchase system. It reported that, in fixing that number, that promotion to the rank of Major General was intended not only to provide a list from which officers fitted for command could be taken, but also as a reward for good and faithful service, and reported that—This double purpose of the establishment was recognised and much insisted upon in the Report to your Majesty, made under the Commission on Promotion in the Army, issued in 1854, to which we crave leave to refer, and, hearing it in mind, we do not think that we should be justified in recommending the ap- 1446 plication of compulsory retirement to the rank of Colonel.His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief said in evidence that—The great bulk of the officers who entered the Army a few years back were entitled to look forward as a certainty to the amount of promotion which 275 would give," "a promotion which many officers have a right to look to.And, further, His Royal Highness added—The qualifying grade is that of Colonel, then, of course, the promotion goes on regularly from that point.The Royal Commission also reported that—It was directed in framing the means of securing rapidity of promotion to do so with justice to officers of all ranks in those corps which were under the purchase system.Also—These officers have been assured that, in some way or other, the previous rate of promotion should be maintained.What is to become of these officers? The great majority of them must of necessity be relegated to the Retired Dist. The Army List of January, 1891, shows that there is another class of officers who have suffered grievously, namely, some 1,300 Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels on the Retired List—many of them experienced Commanders and distinguished officers in the prime of life, who have claims and rights to promotion as strong as the Colonels still on the Active List—Companions of the Order of the Bath, Aides-de-Camp to the Queen—they have been ruthlessly put aside on the same pension as non-purchase officers, caught by the action of ever-changing Warrants, and the non-employment and shifting age clauses; their enforced regulation purchase money—sums such as £4,500 and £3,200—retained by the State for all time. Large numbers of these officers have been retired without any compensation for loss of the promotion to which they were entitled, and others have been granted such sums as £5 12s. and £8 17s. a year. I beg leave to give instances:—Lieutenant Colonel and Hon. Major General T. Maunsell, C.B., late 13th Light Infantry, was, on September 10th, 1881, compulsorily retired as a Colonel, the Warrant of 1878, in which he had trusted, being substituted by the Warrant of 1881–2, which retired him at the age of 59 instead of 63, 1447 thereby taking away his right to serve till 63, and entirely ruining his prospects of being promoted to the Generals' establishment, also of obtaining further employment, and of obtaining the emoluments of a general officer, contrary to the regulations when he entered the Service. This officer had to leave in the Service his regulation money, namely, £4,500, never to be recovered by his family. He had commanded regiments for close on nine years, and a regimental district for four years. Major General T. Maunsell, C.B.'s, war services were as follow:—He served in the 32nd Light Infantry throughout the Punjaub Campaign of 1848 and 1849, and was present at the first and second siege operations before Mooltan, including the attack on the enemy's position in front of the advanced trenches on the 12th of September, 1848, (slightly grazed by a bullet), the action of Soorjkoond, storm and capture of the city (where he was personally engaged at one time with two Sikhs, one of whom he killed), and surrender of the Fortress; afterwards present at the surrender of the Fort and Garrison of Chiniote, and at the battte of Goojerat (medal and two clasps); was severely wounded at Mooltan on the 21st January, 1849, by a splinter of shell on the left shoulder and arm at the second siege. Served the Eastern Campaign of 1854, and up to the 20th February, 1855, in the 28th Regiment, including the Battles of Alma and Inkerman, and Siege of Sebastopol, during which time he commanded the Volunteer Sharpshooters of the 3rd Division for 76 days (for which most perilous service he volunteered), until severely wounded (bullet through left arm, bone broken), on the 30th December, for which service he was honourably mentioned in Division Orders of 3rd January, 1855. Joined his regiment again in the Crimea (his wound and health being restored), and served with it there until (after the war) the regiment embarked for Malta (medal and three claps, Sardinian and Turkish medals, and 5th class of the Order of the Medjidie), promoted Brevet Major on the 2nd November, 1855. Served in India (Bombay Presidency) during the latter part of the Mutiny in 1858–9. Nominated a Companion of the Bath on the 29th May, 1875. Commanded the 28th Regiment when a 1448 detachment of the Regiment was employed with the Okamunndel Field Force, at the storming and capture of the Fort of Begt, and at the siege and occupation of Dwarka. This officer, after 42 years' service, has a pension of £420 a year—the same as officers who have seen no active service, and with half his length of service, and at a loss of no commission money. This officer's commission money at 3 per cent. interest would amount to £6,740. He was a substantive Lieutenant Colonel in 1867. In its generosity the War Office, with the sanction of the Secretary of State for War awarded Lieutenant Colonel and Hon. Major General T. Maunsell compensation for "being debarred from succeeding to the Establishment of General Officers," amounting to the munificent sum of £5 12s. per annum. No compensation has been awarded for any other losses. In the House of Commons, on Friday, 24th June, 1881, the right hon. Gentleman, who was then Secretary of State for War (Mr. Childers), said—It has been suggested that a great many officers of the rank of Colonel have elected to remain in the Army since the abolition of Purchase, because they would hare certain prospects of getting what is known as the honorary command of a regiment, and thus obtaining £1,000 a year. We have been exceedingly careful not to diminish these prospects. Every Colonel in that position as defined by the Warrant, who was Lieutenant Colonel in 1877, and who, under the operation of the new system is to retire at any earlier ago than he is compelled to do now every Colonel so retiring will be entitled to receive a pension which is calculated as precisely identical with his present prospect of havin), £450 a year (the correct sum was £456 5s.g and succeeding in due time to £1,000 a year;, that calculation he will be entitled to have actuarially made, and that amount he will be entitled to receive.Hon. Major General Maunsell, C.B., comes exactly within this ruling, and yet only the pittance of £5 12s. has been awarded to him, and his pension of £420. C. A. B. Gordon—Hon. Major General—a purchase Lieutenant Colonel, has sunk for ever £4,500, regulation price of his commission, for which the Government is responsible. Commanded l–60th Rifles, 1871 and 1877; total service, 39 years in India, Crimea (mentioned in Despatches), Canada, Malta, and Home. Two sieges of Mooltan, battle of Goojerat. Granted compensation, £8 17s. per annum, for loss of 1449 appointment. No compensation for loss of prospects of promotion. We may be sure that Lord Salisbury had not in his mind any idea of £5 12s. or £8 17s. as compensation for such services when, on July 17th, 1871, he said—I am confident that under no petty feelings of spite would the House deny to individuals one tittle of the compensation to which they are justly entitled.H. Marshall—Colonel—a Purchase Major at £3,200; compulsorily retired by the age clause, he at the time being the Senior Colonel on the Active List—he would have been promoted to the Establishment of General Officers long before had it not been for the reduction of the List. Pension awarded £420, and compensation for loss of promotion £78—total £498 per annum—less than the unemployed pay of a Major General. Served in the Crimea, 1855–6, and in Afghanistan, 1879; commanded 9th Lancers five years and a Regimental District five years. Leaves in the hands of Government £3,200. Had Colonel Marshall been promoted when Senior Colonel to the General Officers' Establishment he could have voluntarily retired on £660 a year instead of £498. Colonel C. P. Hill—a Major of January, 1871—served in the Crimea from August, 1855 to July, 1856, present at the assault on the Redan; served in India during the Mutiny 1858; was retired at the age of 55, compulsorily, on £420 a year. Left in the hands of Government £3,200 lost for ever: no compensation, or even honorary rank. The right hon. the Secretary for War, in 1885, acknowledged that the Purchase Majors had been overlooked with regard to the extension of time, and regretted that the oversight could not then be rectified. Since Colonel Hill's retirement, in August last, two Colonels, his juniors, have been promoted to the Establishment of General Officers, yet he was refused any compensation for loss of promotion. Hon. Major General R. C. Stewart, C.B., late Lieutenant Colonel (half pay) 2nd Foot, accepted a staff appointment in India, with the rank of Brigadier General, in 1880, at immense personal expense. He, as a Colonel, was eligible for and had a right to promotion to Major General till the ago of 63, under the Warrant of 1878, and to complete his appointment—otherwise he 1450 would not have accepted it—(see Warrant of 1878) and also the prospects of further employment if he attained the rank of Major General. However, the Warrants of 1881 and 1882 forced him to retirement at 59, and to relinquish forthwith his appointment. By this most arbitrary Warrant he lost high pay, had to break up his home in India at heavy loss 15 months before the time promised, and was debarred from succeeding to the rank of General Officer. This officer is at a loss of £3,200, left in the hands of the Government, and receives a pension of £420 per annum, and for the loss of his Indian appointment, which was worth £2,200 per annum, he receives £126 per annum-Till this Warrant of 1882 this officer had the prospect and right of promotion and £700 a year, and so on. Hon. Major General R. C. Stewart, C.B., served 26 years in India, and held many staff appointments, was Adjutant General of the Madras Army in 1872. He was suddenly deprived of his appointment and compulsorily retired, literally "removed from the parade ground before troops under his command." Up to this time he had never been on the sick list, except for wounds received in action. He received no compensation for loss of promotion. This officer claims that one clause of the Warrant of 1882 orders him to be cast, while another decrees that he shall be compensated for the losses he suffers thereby, and have a just equivalent; that if one clause is binding, so should the other be, and that though he has been cast, the just equivalent has been withheld. The issue of complex and conflicting Royal Warrants has been disastrous to officers. I would ask leave to give a few instances: The Warrant of 1881 decrees "an officer retiring on retired pay may be granted honorary promotion to the rank next higher than that held by him." The Warrant of 1887, rescinded this promotion to all officers who retired after January 1st, 1888. Colonel A. Twynam, C.B., writes—I have fallen, like many other Colonels" between two stools! I could have retired voluntary in 1887, on the same rate of retired pay as I now receive, namely, £420 per annum with the rank of Major General, but I wished to hold on to the service, and was rewarded by being turned out in May, 1890, without the rank of Major General, while four of my regi- 1451 mental brother officers, junior to me, are now on the retired list with the rank of Major General. I shall also see Colonels junior to me being retired on £500 per annum.The Warrant of 1878 decrees that an officer who attained the rank of Major before October 1st, 1877, must retire at the age of 58 years. The Warrant of 1881 decrees that a Major shall retire at the age of 48 years. If he held that rank before October, 1877, he must retire at the age of 50 years. The Warrant of 1884 decrees that a Major, on completing seven years' service, shall be removed from his regiment, and may be promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel on half-pay. The Warrant of 1887 omits this clause, and decrees that a Major must be retired at 48 years of age (unless he was a Captain on the 1st October, 1871—when he is retired at the age of 50 years). Captain L, a Purchase Lieutenant, in 1881, was induced to remain in the service by the Warrant of that year, which decreed that Majors should be removed from regiments on completion of seven years' service in that rank, whereby he would obtain his promotion; however, in 1887, a new Warrant decreed that this seven years' rule was abandoned. By this Warrant of 1887, the senior Major held on, and L. lost the promotion which the Warrant of 1881 had for six years guaranteed to him, and he has to wait for another five years to obtain the promotion on which he had been led to reckon. The Warrant of 1877 decrees that a Captain who had not attained the regimental rank of Major before October 1st, 1877, must retire at the age of 55 years. The Warrant of 1881 decreed that a Captain, on completing 40 years of age, unless selected for promotion to Major, on half-pay, shall be retired. A Captain who obtained this rank before November 1st, 1871, could remain till 42 years of age. The Warrant of 1887 decrees the age to be 45 years, or after five years continuous non-employment. The ever-changing Warrants have produced other effects. Major A.—The Warrant of 1881 stated that Majors would be retired on completion of seven years service in that rank. Major E, on the promise contained therein, waited on in his regiment, but in 1887 another Warrant was issued amending former Warrant, by which the Senior Major 1452 holds on and Major E. loses the command of the regiment, and has to wait for another five years. Major B.—a Purchase Captain—the system of amalgamation stopped his promotion, when at last it came to his turn, on the amalgamated list, for promotion, the Warrant of 1887, doing away with 2nd Lieut. Colonels, intervened and he was left second in command as a Major; 124 officers, juniors as Captains and Majors, have superseded him, 64 of them being non-purchase Captains. Majors C. and D.—were gazetted by purchase to a Battalion of Infantry, before the abolition of purchase. Eight years afterwards another Ensign H. was gazetted without purchase, who a year later went as a probationer to the Indian Staff Corps; he left that service two years afterwards, and as there was no vacancy in the battalion he was posted to the linked battalion; promotion was rapid in that battalion and he quickly got his company—F. and G. being still Lieutenants on the amalgamation in 1881. The officers of the two battalions came on one list, bringing H. into the regiment senior to the two Lieutenants who were years his senior in the Army. They have therefore been superseded through the action of ever-changing Warrants—It is impossible, in minute arrangements, to do proper and accurate justice in every case; then the balance will be cast in favour of the Officers.Those were the solemn words of the Minister of War, the right Hon. E. Cardwell, on the 1st of April, 1871. Major W., who joined a regiment in 1863, promoted Lieutenant June, 1867, was passed over by a Captain of less service, being brought into the regiment from half-pay early in 1876, although he had been nine years Adjutant, and was senior Subaltern of both battalions. In the same year he was promoted to a company. By this supercession he lost his majority in January, 1883, and was compulsorily placed on half-pay at the age of 40 years, kept on half-pay more than 14 months, and when appointed to another regiment, the senior Captain of that regiment was given a majority senior to him in the same Gazette, although six years junior in the Service. Major W. will be compulsorily retired in 1891—the service on half-pay is not 1453 allowed to reckon, although this officer was employed the whole time as Adjutant of Auxiliary Forces. Colonel E, C.B., joined the Rifle Brigade in August, 1854; served all this winter in the Crimea; was severely wounded on the 18th of June, 1855, when in charge of the woolsack party of the Light Division, for which duty he volunteered; was in the trenches all the winter, and commanded 163 men at the Quarries, 7th and 8th June. Served throughout the campaign in India, which ended in the capture of Lucknow, in 1858; in the Trans-Gogra Campaign, 1858–9, mentioned in Despatches; appointed Brigade Major, Calcutta; Assistant Military Secretary in Canada, and commanded a Regimental District. Is a Purchase Lieutenant Colonel, the Government retaining £4,500, the regulation price of his commission, in their hands for ever. This officer was a Purchase Lieutenant Colonel when purchase was abolished. We find in the Warrant of 1878 this most remarkable authoritative decree:—A Lieutenant Colonel appointed before November 1st, 1878, shall retire on attaining the age of 60 years. He shall 'retain his right' to succeed in his turn to the establishment of General Officer.This has not been carried out. The Warrant of 1882 decreed that if an officer retires as a Colonel, his annuity shall be reduced to £60 a year, contrary to the recommendation of Lord Penzance's Royal Commission. In the case of a Departmental Officer, the tenure of the annuity is for life. With regard to compulsory continuance of service on half-pay for Purchase Officers. The Warrant of June, 1881, decrees that a Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel,After being unemployed for five years continuously, shall be retired, and that he may retire during these five years, provided he has not received any sum of the over-regulation value of his commission on being placed on half-pay.By this decree a Purchase Officer is called on to sacrifice £2,000, £3,000 or more, to be allowed to go on retired pay, at the same rate as a Non-Purchase Officer (namely, £420 a year) who has sacrificed nothing. If he declines he must remain on £200 or £220 a year, and at a loss of the regulation price of his commission, which is, under either choice and any circum- 1454 stances, lost to him. The following are instances: Colonel W. Balfe, a Purchase Captain of Cavalry, was placed on compulsory half-pay, from command of a regiment, of only £220 a year for five years, leaving in the hands of the Government £1,800, whereas, had he been a Non-Purchase Officer he might have retired at once on £420 a year with the honorary rank of Major General. When his five years on this pittance was over, after 30 years' service, he was retired on £420 a year, losing for ever his £1,800 and not obtaining the rank of Honorary Major General, as, during his enforced five years on short half-pay, the Warrant of 1887 abolished this poor privilege. So conflicting are the Warrants issued, that actually Colonel Kinchant, a purchase Cornet, who joined the Service and the very same regiment in which Colonel W. Balfe was at the time a Captain, and who ultimately succeeded Colonel Balfe (on that officer being compulsorily retired after two years of command, retired voluntarily after two years in command of the regiment, at once receiving £420 a year, with the honorary rank of Major General, leaving in the hands of the Government only £450. Colonel Balfe had 30 years' service, Major General Kin-chant 20. The rule that purchase officers who did within six weeks of their application to retire from the Service is felt to be most cruel. Lord Penzance's Royal Commission reported that—It certainly is not well that the State should have a pecuniary interest in the death of its military officers, and it is still less to be desired that officers proceeding to an unhealthy climate and the perils of foreign serviae should carry this thought in their minds.The following is the wording of the cruel Warrant:—Royal Warrant, 1884.—Pay and Non-Effective Pay.—Conditions of Retirement (Voluntary).—Horse Guards, War Office, S.W.—94-II. An officer applying for permission to sell his commission shall, if serving with a regiment, be required to produce a certificate from the medical officer doing duty with the regiment, or, if not so serving, from a military medical officer on full pay, or half pay, shall not under the rank of Surgeon Major, in which certificate such medical officer shall certify, in his own handwriting, that he has carefully examined the applicant, and that he is in a good state of health. Should the officer not be in good health, the examining medical officer shall substitute for this certificate a 1455 brief description of the disease or disability, adding his opinion as whether it does or does not threaten early death; and in such a case a period of six weeks from the date of the application to sell must expire before it can be taken into consideration.This oppressive regulation deprives an officer in many cases of the only means of leaving money to his wife and children after years of service in all climates. I would mention the case of an officer serving in India who was ordered by the authorities at the Horse Guards to send in his papers. He complied with the order, and some weeks afterwards he died; then the authorities refused to pay to his relatives the over-regulation value of his commission—£3,200—although they were fully entitled thereto by regulation. The regulation is, that an officer who voluntarily retires must live for six weeks after applying to retire, for his family to claim from Government his purchase money. This officer did not voluntarily retire, and lived beyond the six weeks. The Royal Warrant of May 1st, 1878, Clause 17, says—An officer may hold such good service annuity until he shall be appointed Colonel of a regiment of Cavalry or Infantry, or a Colonel Commandant in the Royal Artillery or Royal Engineers, or until he shall quit the Army.Lord Penzance's Commission recommended that general officers placed on a Retired List should retain their rank and their emoluments. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, in his evidence before the Commission, stated—I think good service pensions is a thing apart from the retirement pay," "I think it should stand alone.Also—I do not think you ought to give a man a good service pension after he had retired; if he has got it already he keeps it, but I would not otherwise give it to him.In spite of this, officers who have got it when they are retired do not keep it; in other cases it is reduced to £60. Certain purchase officers allege that their claims for the over-regulation money which they have paid—though recognised by honourable pledges on the abolition of purchase—have been ignored. For instance, Lieutenant Colonel A. J. H. Daubeny, a purchase Ensign and Lieutenant, compulsorily retired as a Major, alleges that the Government have retained the whole of his purchase 1456 money, regulation and over-regulation, and that he received no compensation; and there are officers who have been compulsorily placed on temporary half-pay on the reduction of the Depôt Battalions, and were caught in this position on the abolition of purchase, and they claim that they were most unjustly deprived of some £5,300 over-regulation money. One of these officers, Colonel T. H. Clarkson, commanding a regimental district, with 33 years' service, was caught on half-pay from a Depôt Battalion on the abolition of purchase, and has been out of £5,200 for 20 years, though passed over under the new system of selection to the Generals' establishment. He was recently given one year of grace to enable him to obtain the step to that establishment by seniority! During this year Colonel Clarkson has died from disease contracted on duty, and his widow, left in poor circumstances, has a pension of £100 a year, and loses the whole of the £5,200, which sum the public gain.
§ *GENERAL FRASER
The purchase officers submit that they have held unremunerative commissions since the abolition of purchase—with a view of obtaining promotion to General's rank, and being recouped for the loss of their enforced purchase money. But that when near their reward for their long services, they are cast adrift by the reduction of the Generals' establishment to 68 for the purchase corps, namely, the Cavalry and Infantry—by the system of selection—and by the ever-changing Warrants, which continually add to their misfortunes. Let me say the purchase officers have ever recognised the absolute control over promotion which has always resided in the Crown, but claim protection of their vested interests. A purchase officer was enforced by the State to stake his money as part of a general transaction, which would not be completed till he obtained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, which would lead to his promotion to the general officers' establishment. Pecuniary compensation is of secondary value to those who put their profession before money matters, as proved by the large sum, such as £4,500 and even 1457 £8,500 still at stake in individual commissions. Any idea that claims for compensation and pension would be made at the expense of the private soldier is preposterous, in the face of the Parliamentary Return of May 4th, 1871, No. 209, by which it appears that between 1841 and 1871 the sum of £1,712,000 was paid into the Reserve Fund, the whole of which money came out of the officers' pockets, and which was applied to various objects, to the advantage of the taxpayer. The object of all late Warrants appears to be to lower the expenditure at the sacrifice of the officers, contrary to all honourable pledges. It must be borne in mind that before the abolition of purchase the country was warned that the expenditure would be "vast, indefinite, and unfathomable," in the words of the Right Hon. B. Disraeli; surely the purchase officer should not suffer. His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, on November 3rd, 1873, gave evidence before the Royal Commissioners that in August, 1854, 50 first commissions were sold, and in January, 1855, 50 first commissions were sold by the Government; that the payments to Government in 1867 amounted to as much as £159,990; and that the whole of the money came out of the officers' pockets, and was expended in buying up half-pay commissions and retiring pensions for the non-purchase corps, whoso officers had never contributed a tittle to the fund, and the purchasing up of the rights of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, &c., &c. The Secretary of State for War has said that Colonels arriving at the top of the Colonels' List have reached that position earlier than they would have done under the purchase system; if so, that flow of promotion is the result of the purchase officers' destruction and the consequence of compulsory retirement, the age clause, non-employment clause, and the system of selection. Lord Penzance's Royal Commission reported in 1876 thatIt was directed in framing the means of securing rapidity of promotion to do so with justice to officers of all ranks in those corps which were under the Purchase System,alsoThese officers have been assured that, in some way or other, the previous rate of promotion should be maintained.1458 With regard to selection of Colonels to the General Officer's Establishment, no officer objects to the principle of selection—i.e., the promoting one officer of exceptional ability, whenever it may please Her Majesty to do so; but what they feel acutely is the passing an officer over by his junior one day and promoting him a few months afterwards. Surely an officer cannot have become more fitted for promotion to higher ranks by this public affront to his self-esteem. It appears by the ruling of one of Her Majesty's Judges that, though he is a servant of the Crown, he has no legal rights whatever as against the Crown, as in the case of the Civil Servants of the Crown, not even the ordinary servant's right for breach of contract. Formerly the Army was in reality the King's Army. Officers, believing him to be the fountain of honour, required no contract, knowing that they would not be otherwise than fairly dealt with. The Sovereign could at anytime dispense with their services; but this power was never exercised, except in consequence of dishonourable conduct. Officers were directly under the Crown. Now they find themselves under an ever-changing War Minister, who has gradually encroached on the prerogative of the Crown, with disastrous consequences to the officers. In answer to the deputation of Service Members of Parliament, on March 3rd, 1891, the Secretary of State for War gave no sort of contradiction to the assertion that a large number of Purchase Officers allege that they have grievances for which they seek redress. In 1837 a Royal Commission was issued to inquire into alleged grievances of the Royal Marines. In 1858 a Royal Commission was issued to inquire into alleged grievances of the officers of the East India Company's Service transferred to the English Army. In 1874 a Royal Commission was issued to inquire into alleged grievances of the Purchase Officers. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury said in the House of Commons in 1871—The merchants, as well of Liverpool as of other places, he ventured to assert, invariably felt it right to consult the feelings and prejudices—if they could be termed prejudices—or, more properly, the public opinion of those who 1459 served under them. They felt it of the first importance to carry with them the good feeling of the officers who managed their affairs.In humbly appealing for the grant by Her Most Gracious Majesty of a Royal Commission to inquire into their alleged grievances, the officers of the Army—having devoted their lives to the service of the country, in exile in all climates, taking part in all campaigns, many crippled by wounds and broken in health—may surely claim the same consideration as those employés who serve the merchants of England in the maintenance of a trade, which, without the sacrifice necessary in a sailor's and a soldier's life, must utterly collapse. There are still many hundreds of purchase officers who feel themselves aggrieved, as proved by scores and scores of letters I have received from all parts of the world. They look with confidence to their Queen, to the Houses of Parliament, to their countrymen, and to those who, with great ability and energy, so vigorously stood by them in the long Debates on the abolition of purchase, to whom they are ever grateful; they seek for simple justice, and for an inquiry, by the grant, by Her Most Gracious Majesty, of a "Royal Commission," so that their present position may be judged "without partiality, favour, or affection."
§ (5.5.) MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
As a civilian who represents many hundreds of officers in the Camp of Aldershot, I venture to say a few words on the subject of pensions, without going so fully into it as my hon. and gallant Friend has done. I think there is a real grievance in the fact that many of the officers do not know what they are really entitled to. This results from the frequent changes in the Royal Warrants. In the year 1877 a Colonel had to retire or be promoted under the age of 63; but within four years a new Royal Warrant was issued, which decreed that he must retire at the age of 55. Thus a man who went into the Service on certain conditions found at the end of his time that he must either leave the Service if he were not promoted, or lose his pension. This affects a large number of officers, not only of the rank of Colonel, but among the Majors and Captains. The gallant General has told us how in 1460 the Warrant of 1877 a Captain had to attain to the rank of Major or retire under the age of 55, and then a new Royal Warrant was issued saying that he must be promoted or retire under the age of 40. In other walks of life a man knows what to expect; but in the Army he cannot tell what is going to happen to him, because a Royal Warrant may be issued which suddenly places him in a much worse position than he was in a few years previously, I think it would be only fair, if these Warrants are to be issued, that they should not be made retrospective. There is one other question I should like to refer to, and it relates to the officers who have earned pensions by long service, but who, if they take civil employment under the Government, lose their pensions altogether. I consider, and I think every fair-minded man would consider, that if a man has served his country for a certain number of years and earned a pension, that pension ought to be paid to him whether he afterwards serves the country in some other capacity or not. It is well-known that many engineers refuse to take Government employment, because they find they can get from the great companies better pay than the Government will give them, and can draw their pensions in old age. There are many cases in which a man who retires is offered civil employment at, say, £1,000 a year, but in order to accept it has to give up a pension of, say, £450 a year. This, I think, is very unfair. My right hon. Friend the Secretary for War has always given his best attention to the practical cases brought to his notice, but it is impossible for any one man to attend to a multitude of cases, and I think that if he would consent to appoint a Committee or Commission to go fully into the matter, the result would be to do away with a great cause of injustice, and I am sure he would earn the gratitude of all the soldiers in the Service.
§ COLONEL EYRE (Lincolnshire, Gainsborough)
I am certain I am speaking the feelings of all the officers both outside and inside this House when I say they are deeply grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend (General Fraser) for the time and trouble he has devoted to this very difficult question. The 1461 question resolves itself into this: promises were made at the time of the abolition of purchase, and has anything been done between that time and this which may adversely affect those promises? I am aware that the Secretary for War is not responsible for all the Warrants that have been issued; but there can be no doubt that unless the answer he gives is very complete the statements made by the hon. and gallant Member are conclusive. I can imagine no more dangerous position for any Secretary of State or any official of the Government to take up than to say that the promises made by previous Governments may be upset by another Government. I will content myself with these few remarks, because I know every hon. Member on this side is anxious to hear the reply of the Secretary for War.
§ (5.10.) MR. HANBURY (Preston)
Everybody, I am sure, will sympathise with the general object of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (General Eraser), because everybody will be anxious that officers who give up not only their services, but if necessary their lives to the country should be amply rewarded, while, on the other hand, everybody would be sorry if it could be supposed that there had been any breach of covenant between the Government and those officers. But when I come to consider the actual proposals of the hon. and gallant Gentleman I am bound (o differ from him on two points. In the first place, I am always opposed to granting Royal Commissions or Committees of Inquiry into matters of this kind. We have a War Office of enormous size, which surely ought to be able to deal with such matters. In the next place, I am always unwilling to take responsibility off the shoulders of the Minister who is alone responsible to this House—the Secretary for War. As I listened to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman I was struck by the fact that he appeared to assume that in considering the size of the generals' list, which, after all, is the point upon which the whole question turns, we were to consider, not the general interests of the country alone, not the number of officers the country requires in its Army, but what is called the flow of promotion. I entirely deny that. The whole consideration ought to be to keep as many officers 1462 as the country requires, and no more or less. When I come to consider the special questions raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I think everybody will be willing to admit that there must be some hard cases. But I take it there were hard cases also under the purchase system, and there would be hard cases whatever system you had. I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman quite did justice to the fact that a great many of these purchase officers have benefited since the abolition of purchase by themselves getting higher commissions without paying any money whatever; and when he talks of the large sums purchase officers have invested I would point out that there are two sides to that question. Under the old system, when an officer died he sacrificed the whole of the purchase money, and when a man reached the grade of general he then and there forfeited all right to the repayment of his purchase money. Further, a man who retired on full pay after 30 years' service sacrificed all claim to repayment. With regard to the generals' list, I cannot see that there has been any such great reduction as is maintained. I find, for instance, that in the year when purchase was abolished there was one single establishment of 385 generals. At the present time there are, no doubt, two lists. There are 140 on the active list, which is to be reduced to 100, while on the non-effective list there are no fewer than 282. Adding the 282 to the 100 you have a list of 382, or only three less than the number when purchase was abolished. I understand that under the purchase system a man did not reach the £1,000 a year of the honorary colonelcies until after about 45 years' service, and that the great bulk of the men on the generals' list were on half-pay at about £450 a year. At present the retired pay of a major-general is from £600 to £700 a year, of a lieutenant-general from £750 to £850, and of a full general from £900 to £1,000, while the half-pay of those on the active list is respectively £500, £650, and £800. Therefore, in the matter of pay, as well as pension, I really cannot see that a great grievance is suffered at the present time. I know there are not so many posts open to the general officers, but that is the result, not of the abolition of purchase, but of the general policy of the 1463 country in withdrawing our troops from a great number of stations to which generals were formerly appointed. The hon. and gallant Gentleman complained that purchase officers on half-pay were not allowed to retire on pensions unless they refunded the over-regulation money they received. In the first place, I say it was extremely liberal of the country to pay over-regulation price at all; and, in the next place, this money is only refunded in certain instances. The hon. and gallant Gentleman gave us some cases of ridiculously small sums paid to officers. I am bound to say one must admit that they appear to be very small sums indeed, but it must be recollected that they are in addition to the ordinary pay of, for cavalry, £450, and, for infantry, £420. If the sums these officers received were small, so were their chances of promotion or employment. I believe the whole thing has been worked out in the most minute actuarial calculations, and the Warrant has been interpreted in a most favourable sense to the officers. It is important to consider the rate of Promotion since the abolition of purchase. Of course, that is a very difficult thing to calculate, and I do not vouch for the figures I am going to give. In one of the Service papers—I think it was the Broad Arrow—there was not so long ago a statement which throws a great deal of light on this matter. If the figures are accurate, it places the matter in a different light from that sometimes represented. I find that under the purchase system the colonels averaged 14 years before they became generals; now they average 10 years. I find that men became lieutenant-colonels after 23 years and 6 months, majors after 18 years and 11 months, and captains after 9 years. But since the abolition of purchase the rate of promotion has been much more rapid. Lieutenant-colonels, I know, only become so after 25 years and 9 months, as against 23 years and 6 mouths; but officers become majors after 17 years and 11 months, and captains after 8 years. So that the rate of promotion seems to be rather accelerated since the abolition of purchase. Then it does seem a grievance—sentimental if you like, but none the less real—that the non-purchase officers and the purchase officers grow up side by side under 1464 exactly similar conditions, receiving exactly the same amount of pay. After all, it is only the parallel of the labourer and his pay, and the same thing may happen under any system. But when I pass from this special point to the general question of this non-effective list, then I think we get to different ground altogether. It is to me astounding and appalling that, out of a total of £17,000,000 on the Estimates, something like £3,500,000 have to go on the Non Effective Vote, which I am afraid is growing. I look with great distrust on this Non-Effective Vote, and you may depend upon it that if it goes on in creasing there will be a cry throughout the country for an alteration of the pre sent system altogether. I think the present system wants alteration in this direction. I do not agree with the idea that seems too predominant in the minds of officers of the Army and outsiders, that we ought to keep up the "flow of promotion." We are not bound to do anything of the sort. What we are bound to do is to see that we have a sufficient number of officers, and, far more, to see that promotion involves only promoting the efficient men and keeping down the inefficient. That is why we have to keep down the non effective list. I go so far as to say that even the present generals' list is almost ridiculous in a small Army like ours. I was going to say I believe we have got too many officers in the Army altogether. Passing from the generals, I take the Staff officers. There are some of these officers who are paid out of the Army Votes whose salaries ought not to come out of these Votes at all. There are the aides-de-camp to the Queen, for instance, whose salaries ought to come out of the Civil List. The number of these Staff officers is out of all proportion to the strength of our Army. In Germany——
§ MR. HANBURY
I bow to your decision, Sir; but what I was trying to show was that this enormous non-effective list is due to the fact that we have got too many officers and no regular system of promotion amongst them. If I am to be limited to saying that this non-effective list is too high, without 1465 showing how it can be reduced, it seems to me idle to discuss the non-effective list at all. My point is that the list should be reduced. I say we have too many Staff officers. In the German Army there is only one Staff officer to one general in every brigade, and to generals of higher rank more in proportion; but in our Army we have actually an average of three Staff officers and a half to every general in our enormous list. That is out of all proportion, and these men are by no means overworked, though the War Office manufactures employment for them such as does not exist in connection with the Staff in Germany. But I go to ordinary officers, and what do I find? I find that in France there is I Staff officer in 33, in Austria 1 in 40, in Prussia 1 in 49, and in England 1 in 28.
§ MR. HANBURY
Very well, Sir, I will not continue the discussion on that line. I will only say that this enormous list will continue unless you have a better system of weeding out the non-effectives. When you have got good men keep them, and do not turn them out as soon as you do. That is the proper way to deal with the non-effective list, and to save money which can be spent on more profitable objects. I am not one of those who would advocate dealing out pensions in a niggardly fashion to those who have been willing to risk their lives in the service of their country: but I say that if you would make sure that you have no drones in your Army, but all working bees, it will be to your advantage to pay your officers better than you do. For this reason I desire to see the officers of the Army composed, not of rich men, but of all kinds of men. Make the Army a profession. You drive men out of the Force at too early an age. Some of them, no doubt, are inefficient, but you drive out officers who have still plenty of strength and ability—men who would be a credit to the Service. I say that we shall never do away with this enormous non-effective list until we more and more determine to make our Army, though small, thoroughly efficient.
§ (5.35.) COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
I should like to assure the Secretary of State for War that the action taken by the officers in 1466 this matter is not in the least directed against himself, either personally or in his official capacity. All of us who know anything about the Army have good reason to be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the many real reforms he has introduced to the benefit of the Army generally, the condition of the barracks, and regimental economy. But a very large body of men consider that they have real, legitimate grievances upon which they want to be heard. The most proper mode of meeting the case would be to grant some form of inquiry which would either put an end to the feeling of grievance or stamp with official authority whatever there may be of reality in the matter. The feeling of the House and the country must be that as long as there are cases of hardship they are worthy of a temperate and moderate sort of redress, which is all that soldiers ask for. I would like to lay a little stress upon one case which has been alluded to. An officer who did not voluntarily seek to retire from the Service was ordered to send in his papers, and they were sent in in strict obedience to the orders he received. On July 3, in a certain year, he received orders to retire from the Service. In my opinion, the bargain with that officer was struck on the day on which he was ordered to send in his papers, but he died before all the details, which were protracted in some office, could be carried out, and his family were deprived of £3,075 which he ought to have received. Exception was taken by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down to the appointment of a Royal Commission; but we ask for a Royal Commission because we think it the most satisfactory way of arriving at a practical conclusion. But if the right hon. Gentleman cannot appoint a Royal Commission he might grant some sort of appellate tribunal to which the officers can go with confidence, and whose decision would be final. I do not wish to relieve the Secretary of State of any part of the responsibility he ought to bear, but as our complaints are against him we would prefer a tribunal outside the exact sphere of the Official Department of which he is the chief. I regretted to hear the hon. Gentleman who preceded me say that the country was acting very generously in accepting the payment of over-regulation money at 1467 all. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian said that if anything else was done it would be a course opposed to honour and justice.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
I do not wish to enter into personal contention with the hon. Member. Officers are not lawyers; if they were they might be more formidable to the Secretary of State. They do not profess to be able to unravel Warrants one after another. The right hon. Gentleman will be doing a generous act if he takes into consideration the question of an appellate tribunal, and if he makes a complete codification of the Warrants, so that officers may know where they are.
§ *(5.50.) THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has told the Committee that officers are not lawyers, and I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that it is not the intention of the Government to reply to the arguments addressed to them in any pettifogging spirit. Their desire is to deal broadly with the question of the purchase officers, and I think the first step towards mitigating the grievances referred to is that they should be thoroughly ventilated in Parliament. It is obvious that a subject so complicated, and involving so many questions of public faith, cannot properly be discussed in the Press. It is the faith of Parliament that is in question, and therefore the House of Commons is the proper tribunal for discussing it. The hon. and gallant Member for North Lambeth did not merely invite us to consider the promises which have been made and how they have been carried out, but entered into various arguments affecting the purchase system as it, once existed. He addressed himself, not to the carrying out of the settlement of 1871, but to the settlement itself. The hon. and gallant Member called attention to a case which some hon. Members might think a hard one. This was the case of the officer who chanced to die either while in the Army or while still on active service, and who lost the whole of his purchase money. I do not defend that arrangement, but I say it was part of the purchase system, and, in 1468 carrying out the arrangements abolishing purchase, it is part of the bargain made with the officers.
§ *GENERAL FRASER
In the old days, when an officer died his brother officers got the advantage, but now the State gets the advantage.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
That is immaterial, or in either case his relatives lost the money, and that the point is whether we are following out the practice of the purchase system in so treating the money of the officers who died in the Service, and I say that unquestionably we are following out that system. If there is to be a Royal Commission on that point, there must also be a Royal Commission to consider whether the settlement of 1871 was a just one. The same remark applies to the question of regulation money, because, if that subject is to be re-opened, we must also re-open the case of every officer appointed to be a general officer since 1871. Something has been said in a tone of complaint as to the purchase officer not being so well off as the non-purchase officer. I quote from the Report of Lord Penzance, in which it is stated that the true contrast to be made is not between their position and that of other officers, but between their position before and after the passing of the Act. Under the purchase system an officer upon his going to half-pay as a colonel received his over-regulation money, and if he passed out of the Army he received his regulation money and over-regulation money as well. The same course is followed at the present time, except that he receives a pension instead of over-regulation money. If he became a general officer under the purchase system he received his over-regulation money, but no regulation money. It is the same now, and the officer receives emoluments which are more than equivalent to what he received before. The two broad questions to be discussed are these—has the rate of promotion promised at the time of the abolition of purchase been maintained, and have the purchase officers suffered in pocket by the transactions which have since taken place? In 1871 there were 96 majors who had served more than 23 years and six months; the number of majors is now 177. The number of captains in 1871 who served 18 years 11 months was 134; the number 1469 on January 1, 1891, was 28. The number of lieutenants with more than nine years' service in 1871 was 507; the number now was 79. The total number of officers who served beyond the average period in 1871 was 737; the number now is 284. No one can therefore say that after the enormous expenditure incurred for the purpose of quickening promotion in the lower ranks of the Army our efforts have not been productive of good. Every promise made has been more than carried out, and some might even be disposed to think that we have, perhaps, gone a little too far in that direction. Speaking with reference to the general officers, the hon. and gallant Member said that 275 was to be the establishment of the cavalry and infantry generals in 1871, and that now we have reduced the establishment to 68, and he has reminded us that this is done in the face of a pledge that if there was a doubt, that doubt should be given in favour of the officers. I accept his view, and am prepared to show that the Government have acted upon it. In the old days an officer, however old or incapable to serve, having once attained to the rank of general officer, remained on the establishment until he died, thus blocking the way to promotion. There are now two lists—the active and retired lists. Lord Penzance recommended, in a Report which may be called the Charter of the Liberties of the purchase officer, that general officers should be retired at 70, in order to make promotion. But we have gone far beyond this. Generals and lieutenant-generals retire at the ago of 67, major-generals at 62. Out of 279 officers on the list in the old days 131 were only getting £456 a year, and 148 were honorary colonels, getting £1,000. Now, 534 general officers have been retired since 1877 on pensions between £600 and £1,000; and in February this year the number of men who were drawing £456 and over had risen to 339, as against 279 in 1871. There are thus, at this moment, 60 purchase officers paid as generals who could not have reached the generals establishment under the purchase system. Again, how do we stand as to rank? On the British list, when purchase was abolished, there were 328 officers with the title of major-general, lieutenant-general, or general. Leaving out officers 1470 holding the honorary rank, the number at this moment has risen to 528; and if we take into consideration the officers holding honorary rank, it will be found that, including the Indian Army, we have about 220,000 soldiers of all ranks with the colours, and that there are 2,050 generals, or nearly one general to every 100 soldiers in the Army. I do not think, in face of facts like these, that the House of Commons would consider the War Office to have been niggardly in the distribution of rank. The question is: Have the changes which I have indicated been accompanied by great hardship to individual purchase officers? I will deal with a few of the cases cited by my hon. and gallant Friend. I will take first the case of Major-General Maunsell. He was retired in the year 1881 at the age of 59, and receives £425 a year. But under the Warrant of 1870, under which purchase was abolished, Major-General Maunsell would not have become major-general till 1892, and for 11 years would have received £200 instead of £425. And he would not have been able to get £1,000 a year until 1899, when he would be 76 years of age. Take the case of Major-General Stewart. He would not have become a general officer till 1893, at the age of 67 years, and in 1899 he would have got his £1,000 a year. Yet he is now receiving £546, or £346 more per year than he would have got under the old purchase system. The difference between the point of view of my hon. and gallant Friend and that of the Government lies in one fact. The hon. and gallant Gentleman compares the position of officers with what it would have been under the Warrant which has cleared away many officers who stood in front of them. I, on the other hand, compare their position with what they might in 1870 have expected it to be if purchase had not been abolished, and I think it is only fair to argue the matter from that point. It is often said that the Government have pocketed the money of the purchase officers. This is an absolutely mistaken idea. The cost of the abolition of purchase to the country, in the payment of over-regulation money, has been £6,104,000 up to March last. The assets which the Government had in hand for repayments when purchase was abolished 1471 were £40. Therefore the Government have not pocketed the money. It went to the expense of bringing into the Army men who did not purchase, and consequently no money was provided for the pocket of the officers who were going out, and the Government has had to find the necessary funds instead of the non - purchase officers. Reference has been made to the short commands of battalions. It is difficult for me to deal with that matter on this Vote, but I should like to point out that the House has time after time manifested its opinion in favour of selection in order to get the best men to fill appointments. This system is inseparable from the necessity of passing over certain officers, and from retiring some officers at a time when they would wish to continue in active service. Provided that no pecuniary loss is inflicted on the officers thus retired at a comparatively early age, I do not think the House will be inclined to blame the War Department on this account, though the House is aware that we have raised the age of compulsory retirements for captains and for colonels. Several speakers have touched on the changes in the Warrants. I confess that I sympathise with those officers who have been the victims of successive changes. But the difficulty has really been that it is impossible to foresee the operation of the Warrants in the first instance; and seeing that by acting on the recommendation of Lord Penzance's Commission, we were turning half the officers of the Army out of the Service at the age of 40 and giving them pensions of. £200 a year, it became absolutely necessary to alter the Warrant. In other cases also Warrants have been altered because they have acted in a quite unexpected manner. It is asked why the Warrants should be made retrospective, by which I understand they should not affect officers now serving. If they deal with the officers in service they must be retrospective in this sense. The War Office has been urged again and again in this Debate not to allow Colonels to be retired just when they are nearing their promotion to the rank of Major-General. But if the War Office gave way on this point, every single officer below Colonels' rank would 1472 be prejudicially affected, because his promotion would be stopped. How are we to apply such a change to one class of officers without affecting the other? It should also be remembered that in asking the Government to appoint a Commission, hon. Members are asking that questions which affect not only men now in the Army, but men who have been retired for years, should be reopened. How is it possible to grant such a request when to do so would excite the wildest hopes and expectations of those who have retired for some time? A great deal has been said with regard to those Colonels who, after receiving their over-regulation money, are debarred from leaving the Army with retired pay till 55 years of age. It is quite true that under the Warrants the purchase officers are not so well off in this respect as the non-purchase officers. But the purchase officers are getting what I may call their pound of flesh, for they have always been obliged to go on half-pay at £200 a year. Lord Penzance's Commission advised that in such cases an officer should not be allowed to-exchange his half-pay for a pension of £450 until he had reached the age of 55 years. This is a very difficult question, however, which the Government will be willing to consider, for it is one of those where it may be possible to improve the position of one rank of officers without injuring others. But this question also affects everyone who has gone on half-pay as a colonel since 1871; and I doubt whether the House of Commons would grant the largo sum necessary to meet such a liability without insisting on economy in some other direction. For that reason the Government deprecate any upsetting of the settlement of purchase, or any reference to a Commission of questions decided and principles accepted for the last 20 years. There undoubtedly are grievances and cases of hardship; but were there none under the purchase system? There were continual cases of individual hardship, and that is inevitable in the working of a great scheme like this. I beg my hon. and gallant Friend to rest assured that the War Office are anxious to take a broad, fair, and just view of the position. Already the rate of promotion has been enormously increased, and, generally 1473 speaking, the pledges given on the abolition of purchase have been fairly carried out. There may be questions of a smaller character which it may be possible to consider; but, having regard to the general mass of the evidence, I hope that the Committee will support the Government in declaring that no case has been made out for any general re-consideration of the terms of retirement, or for any expectation on the part of officers who have long left the Service that their cases would be favourably re-considered at the expense of the country.
*(6.15.) COLONEL BLUNDLLLS.W., lnce) (Lancashire,
I wish to say a few words on the question of general principle. The point for the Committee to consider is: has the purchase officer a locus standi. I contend that he has. The service was a life service when he entered it, and the abolition of purchase seriously affected his position. When purchase was abolished scarcely anyone understood what was being done; indeed, I believe that only one man—a partner in the firm of Messrs. Cox—really understood it. But now the House and the country is beginning to appreciate, by the growth of the non-effective charges, what the purchase system was, i.e., the officers found their own retirements. All these unfortunate difficulties have arisen owing to the incomplete way in which the abolition of purchase was carried out. If the measure had gone through the Parliamentary mill they might have been avoided, but the Government of the day found itself in an impasse, and the Royal prerogative was called in, and one result has been that in many regiments the subaltern who did not purchase received more nett pay than his captain or his colonel who did purchase. Such a thing as that could not occur in any other profession. What would be thought of the case of a curate who received more than his rector? Another point is that the Commissioners who have to decide these questions are not au independent Court, but merely a branch of the War Office; and the War Minister has the sole right of interpreting the Warrant. It is all very well, when private money is not involved, for the War Office, after a case has been under discussion, to rule 1474 itself in the right and direct that the correspondence shall cease; but when, as in the case of purchase officers, sums of £4,000 or £5,000 of private money-are involved, the War Minister, who represents the public, ought not to act both as judge and jury. There surely ought to be some Court of Appeal. And now with regard to pensions. We have heard of officers having, £5 a year added to their pensions because they did not get on the General Officers' List. What is the position of a retired officer? An officer without an occupation is like a barrister stripped of his gown—what he feels the loss of, is not prospective pay but his occupation. Therefore "compensation" is a wrong word to apply to the trifling addition to his pension. Reference has been made to the large number of Generals, and to the process of selecting them but I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War is aiming at the impossible in acting on the principle of selection he has laid down. If he shrinks from passing over one officer by another he will find himself putting round men into square holes. To return to Purchase Officers, they have a right, in my opinion, to have their cases considered, and to have it ascertained if the promises made to them have been broken. Probably the promises made to them when purchase was abolished were rash, but having been made they should be kept. They should have a right if they wish to be placed on a supernumerary list of generals, when they would have been promoted under the old system, because, as we know, in country places rank often secures for a man of small means consideration which he would not otherwise receive. The War Office has shown an utter want of knowledge of human nature in dealing with these matters. I appeal to it now to investigate this matter and have it settled once and for ever. It has been an incubus on the Army for 20 years. If the answer of the War Office is so good as it is represented to be by the Under Secretary, why should the War Office be afraid to submit the case to a Commission?
§ (6.24.) GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
I think that the statement of the Financial Secretary of the War Office has really substantiated the case put forward to-night 1475 on behalf of purchase officers, I do not deny for a moment that the non-effective list is heavy—heavier than it ought to be, owing to the action of the War Office under successive officers and the way in which purchase has been abolished. If the simple plan had been adopted of paying back to the officers their purchase money it would have cost less in the long run. Lord Penzance's Commission reported that the officers had a substantial grievance, and recommended a remedy for it. I do not want to go behind that Report. I only ask the War Office to carry out the recommendations of the Commission. No doubt the rate of promotion has been accelerated, but this has been effected at the expense of certain purchase officers, not only causing them pecuniary loss but destroying their careers. Certain officers who are not entitled to the rank have been forced on and made Major Generals, while other officers who are entitled have been kept back. In season and out of season we in this House have urged the claims of officers on the Minister for War. I fully admit that the present Secretary for War has done a great deal to keep down the non-effective list, and has saved the country several hundred thousand pounds. The greatest confidence is felt in him that in individual cases brought to his notice he will act justly, but it is impossible for him to look into many cases. Discontent undoubtedly exists among the officers. It is not enough to tell them that on the whole the policy of the Government towards them has been liberal and beneficent. That is no consolation to men who consider that they have been wronged, and Her Majesty's Government ought to assent to a Commission which will fully inquire into the whole subject. I do not want to go into details, but there is the case of that unfortunate widow whose husband died broken-hearted on being ordered by the Government to send in his papers. I know him when he was in the Service; he did his work well. I may be told that under the purchase system an officer often lost his money. True, but it was lost to comrades, and everybody took his chance of that. In this case it is lost to the Government, which is the gainer by the death of the officer. I speak and feel as a soldier, and while I 1476 give the Secretary for War full credit for saving the country over £300,000 a year by what he has done in altering the age of compulsory retirement, I do press upon him the justice of granting the inquiry we are now asking for. No change ought to be made until it has been well considered. Officers ought to have a certain career before them. I hope the speech made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Fareham Division will be taken to heart by the Secretary of State for War, and that the right hon. Gentleman will try to let officers know what their career may be. It is very wrong that officers should be the only people in the country who have no appeal. The people who settle all the matters are the War Office, or the clerks at the War Office, and there is no appeal from them. You may go to the Secretary of State, but he has many other things to attend to. You cannot appeal to Her Majesty, because Her Majesty is represented by the Secretary of State. You cannot appeal to Her Majesty's Courts; indeed, there can be no revision of any kind. I trust measures will be taken to do away with this scandal. I appeal to the Secretary of State to give these matters his most earnest consideration, and to do what he can to remove the discontent which exists.
(6.31.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN&c.) (Stirling,
The subject under discussion is one which consists of two parts, one large and the other small: There is the largo question of promotion and retirement from the Army and of the principles which have governed promotion and retirement from the Army, and the principles which should govern the creation of the non-effective list. That is a subject the importance of which can hardly be exaggerated. There is the smaller subject, which, I think, was more directly the object of the hon. and gallant Member who introduced the discussion, namely, the grievances of certain purchase officers who are still serving in the Army. Perhaps I maybe allowed to make a remark expressive of my surprise that so much prominence has been given to the case of the purchase officers. I understand that certain hon. and gallant Members of this House have formed themselves into a Committee to watch over the interests of 1477 the Services. One would naturally have expected that as a result of their deliberations they would have thought it right to call the attention of the House to great questions like Army organisation, the strength of the Fleet, the safety of the coaling stations, or the merits of new weapons. But no; after grave consultation they have determined to draw attention to the grievances of certain purchase officers. I do not wish to make light of those grievances, and I hope that they will be dealt with as they deserve, but I think that hon. and gallant Members might have found a subject of greater importance to the country to bring forward. After all, the number of purchase officers to whose cases attention has been drawn is not large. If the grievances of these officers are to be dealt with specially and to be inquired into by a Royal Commission, or in some other unusual way, what are we to say to all the purchase officers who have retired from the Army during the last 20 years on the very conditions to which the complaining officers now object? The fact is that this proposal for a Royal Commission is made 20 years too late. It was understood 20 years ago that the purchase officer and the non-purchase officer were to serve together on equal terms, and that the promise made as to an adequate flow of promotion would be kept. That promise has been fully kept, for the flow of promotion since the abolition of purchase has not only been maintained at its former level, but the rate has been actually exceeded, in many cases considerably exceeded. To decide how the pledge given to the purchase officers might best be fulfilled, the Royal Commission presided over by Lord Penzance, was appointed, and its recommendations were adopted. When we are told that a great many warrants introducing changes have been issued, I would point out that there has not been one of those warrants, at least within my knowledge of them, that was not issued for the purpose of modifying some of the harsher provisions of the first regulations adopted in consequence of the Report of Lord Penzance's Commission. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Ince Division (Colonel Blundell) speaks of the whole treatment of the purchase officers as being under the control of the War 1478 Office, and he says that the officers have no choice but to accept the decisions given by the Purchase Commissioners, whom he regards as being, in some sense, subordinate to the War Office. He is entirely wrong. The Purchase Commissioners are perfectly independent of the War Office. And when my hon. and gallant Friend complains, and I join with him in complaining, of a system which bribes officient officers out of the service, I dislike it quite as much as he does. But when he says those bribes were held out by the War Office, I would remind him that the War Office is not actually the parent of all evil, for they are only carrying out in this respect the recommendations of Lord Penzance's Commission, which was just such a Commission as my hon. and gallant Friend now wishes to see appointed to deal with the few cases he has in mind. These officers are always apt to forget that the very grievances they complain of often arise from the benefits they themselves have derived from the policy of purchase. Promotion has been quickened to such a degree that these officers reach the head of the list sooner than they would have done in other circumstances, and then they make it a grievance that they are subjected to the established provisions relating to retirement. With reference to promotion, we should endeavour to avoid all those hard-and-fast rules which in many cases act so variously. In the lower ranks the ago for compulsory retirement should be put as high as possible in order that it might not work injuriously; and then hon. and gallant Gentlemen must be prepared for the necessary consequence, that promotion must be by selection, and that selection must be rigid—I would almost say unmerciful. Again, when officers arrive at a certain rank, if found not so deserving of promotion as others, no artificial inducements to continue in the Service should be held out to them. The non-effective list is a prodigious one, though the right hon. Gentleman has done something to reduce it. I trust that after this unfortunate period of transition from purchase to non-purchase has passed we shall be able to lay down some rules by which the non-effective vote may he modified to some extent. But if there is anything less likely than another to 1479 lead to such a result it is a reference to a Royal Commission. It would be much better to leave questions of this kind in the hands of the responsible Minister. I do not wish to impugn the authority of Lord Penzance's Commission, which did the best it could, but I believe it did an immense amount of harm, because it laid down general principles such as a responsible Minister could hardly have accepted, and which it has been the business of responsible Ministers since in many respects to modify. I was glad to understand that the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to yield to the desire for the appointment of a Royal Commission, but I believe that both the right hon. Gentleman himself and those connected with him will stretch every point that can be stretched to take the most lenient view possible of each case which may be brought before them. The officers of the Army, I venture to say, would be much better advised to trust to the right hon. Gentleman than to attempt to force on him a reference to a Royal Commission which would give results that would be satisfactory neither to themselves nor to the service to which they belong.
(6.52.) SIR G. CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,
I understood this vote was put forward to give an opportunity of ventilating the grievances of purchase officers, and, therefore, I gave way when the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite rose. At the same time I share the feeling of the right hon. Member who has just spoken, that in these days, when so many questions of enormous importance have to be postponed for want of time, it is hardly worth while detaining the House with a question like this. My observation of these service questions is that change must affect officers, both ways, for good and for evil, and that, while there is a great disposition on the part of officers to accept the good, they are not at all inclined to accept the evil. I rise, however, to ask a question on another matter in which the interests of the public are concerned more than the interests of individual officers. We have, as has been said, an enormous non-effective list. I share the opinion expressed by several speakers, that great imprudences have been committed. Officers have been retired in the prime of life, and an immense burden has been 1480 entailed on the country. The greater part of £2,000,000 is charged for allowances to regimental officers, the greater number of whom have been retired in the prime of life. I want to ask the Secretary of State whether any progress has been made in utilising the services of these officers for the Volunteers, and especially for the Militia, upon the efficiency of which so much depends. I have been told, in answer to inquiries in this House, that these retired officers are liable to serve when their services are required by Her Majesty, but when I have put a further question as to whether in our previous history an occasion has ever arisen when their services have been availed of, the answer I have received has been in the negative. Well, this being so, and seeing that there are an insufficient number of officers for the Auxiliary Forces—the Militia and Volunteers—I would ask whether something could not be done to facilitate, and, if necessary, compel the employment of these retired officers in the Auxiliary Forces. Science has practically bridged the seas, and we are not now so much of an island as we used to be. Our very life may depend on our Auxiliary Forces, so that it is essential to have them well officered.
§ (6.58.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle
It may be right that I should now refer for a few moments to the subject which has occupied the attention of the Committee to-night, and express an opinion on the proposition made by my hon. and gallant Friend. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has spoken of the various changes which have been made in the warrants, and pointed out with great force that a number of those warrants have been issued to mitigate the hardships of officers. There is no man who is so little desirous of changing warrants as a Secretary of State. When a particular grievance is brought to his notice, and he finds there is something in it, a Secretary of State may in a weak moment issue a Warrant to deal with that grievance; but while he tries to deal with one grievance the danger is that he may create another. I listened with sympathy to the appeal made to me by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hammersmith, 1481 because my hon. and gallant Friend has so often supported me in the changes I have endeavoured to make, and in my efforts to steer between extreme propositions on the one side and the other. I assure my hon. and gallant Friend that it is with the greatest pain that I find myself unable to meet the cases constantly brought forward by purchase officers—cases in which they are reduced to a state of destitution—and if it were possible for me, with due regard to my responsible position, I would gladly help them. My hon. and gallant Friend said it was a very difficult thing for the Secretary of State, who has a great deal to do, to attend to all the various cases which may be brought before him. Of the cases which have been mentioned tonight a great number have been investigated personally by myself, and in deciding that there is nothing in those claims which will justify the Government in making any further concessions I accept the full responsibility. I have always said that if any case, or class of cases, should be brought before me, I should not only be glad to investigate it for myself, but should be willing to refer it to some tribunal of the House of Commons for investigation, with a limited reference I cannot for a moment think of reopening the whole of the purchase question, or consent to allow any such question as that to be referred to a. Royal Commission for investigation. I say this mainly because to do so would be to give rise to false hopes, and lead officers to suppose that they were likely to get a great deal from the Government, when I am satisfied that there is no chance of their getting it. The main foundation of the case of the hon. and gallant Member was this—has the promises of the Government with regard to the now of promotion been kept or not? This is a point which has been distinctly promised by succeeding Governments, and the present Government have accepted that view also. It has been proved by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary that the flow of promotion has been kept up in the ranks of the Army, and it is impossible for anyone looking dispassionately at the facts to arrive at a different conclusion. The General Officers' List has been reduced, first of all by my predecessor and last year by myself. The reduction last year was made on 1482 the recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons which sat under the presidency of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. The Committee reported unanimously, after hearing the evidence of the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Wolseley, and others. The Commander-in-Chief, speaking with a full sense of responsibility, told us that there might fairly be a diminution in the General Officers' List, and he urged that certain safeguards should be taken to prevent that reduction creating hardship. That reduction in the list was not made at once. It was postponed in the first place for 18 months, and even after that time the reduction was gradual. As a compensation, colonels who might lose thereby a chance of promotion had their position improved by being enabled to retire at the higher rate of £500 a year, and in consequence of the representations made by my hon. and gallant Friend and others I dealt also with the case of these officers who were field officers at the time of the abolition of purchase. I have given an undertaking to take means to prevent any officers who were field officers at the time of the abolition of purchase from being placed in a worse position as regards the chance of promotion to general officers than they were before the issue of the Warrant, diminishing the list of general officers. More than that we cannot be expected to do; and in making that concession the War Office have dealt with the one remaining point where it might be said that officers who had attained a certain rank at the time of the abolition of purchase were liable to suffer. The hon. and gallant Member has also spoken of the hardship caused by the principle of selection. I am sure that the introduction of the principle of selection has been a principle cordially approved by the House. No man can get beyond the rank of lieutenant colonel until after close investigation by a committee of officers, so as to secure that the officer is in every way a fit man for the position. If it is found that the man is not fit, then they tell him so, and thus prevent him from hanging about for a number of years in the vain hope of having his expectations realised. The same course is followed with respect to the appointment from colonel to major 1483 general; and thereby we insure that the bulk of general officers in the Array shall be men of the highest qualifications and thoroughly fit to take command. I admit that cases of hardship will always arise in such an organisation as that of the Army, however much we may strive to prevent their occurrence, and I acknowledge that the case of the officer who died after sending in his Papers was a hard one, especially for the family. I felt it to be a hard case at the time, and if it had been possible to remedy it I should have been glad to do so. Bat it was impossible for me to do so in this particular case without opening the door to other claims. As to the employment of retired officers in the Militia or Volunteers, I may say that the War Office have no right to claim that the services of those officers should be placed at the disposal of those branches of the Service. Every inducement is offered to the officers of the Regular Army to undertake service of this nature, and there are some officers who have been kind enough to allow their services to be made thus available. In this connection I may refer to a general officer who is a Member of this House. Such officers are rendering a very great service to the country, and personally I am deeply indebted to them for the good work they are performing; and anything I or the War Office authorities can do to induce officers to give help in this way will be cheerfully done. I am afraid, however, that I cannot tell the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy that any considerable progress has been made in this respect up to the present time.
§ *(7.10.) GENERAL FRASER
I desire to say but a very few words in reply. The right hon. Gentleman the (Member for the Stirling Burghs has spoken very lightly of this claim of the purchase officers, and I think I may commend to his attention the words used by Sidney Herbert when Secretary of State for War—This great machine, the English Army, is too delicate to be lightly handled; it is Dot a tiling to play with. The value and reputation of an Army does not depend merely on its numerical force, but on the spirit by which it is animated, and we must not deal lightly with anything that concerns it.Undoubtedly, the subject I have brought forward does very deeply concern the Army—the content or discontent of its 1484 officers. The Secretary of State has spoken of the flow of promotion; but let me remark that flow of promotion is produced by the sacrifice of purchase officers, who get to a high position, and then are turned off. I know the pay of a general is higher than in the old purchase days, but that is no benefit to those who cannot reach that position, and who leave widows and families un-provided for. The right hon. Gentleman has not given an answer to the question in regard to lieutenants and captains who have not received their over-regulation money, to which they have a claim as a matter of justice.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 2. £1,380,800, Pensions and other Non-Effective Charges for Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, Men, and others.
§ (7.12.) MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
We have been listening for a considerable time this evening to the complaints and grievances of officers of the Army, and I now have to make a few observations upon a grievance connected with the men of the Army. I should greatly have preferred that this question should have been in the hands of some hon. and gallant Gentlemen who has served in the Army, who would know the subject much better than I do, and who would avoid some of the mistakes I may fall into from lack of knowledge of the technicalities of the profession. I hope, however, to have the sympathy and support of hon. and gallant Gentlemen in the complaint I have to present, for I am sure they would not wish it to be said, as it could not be said with truth, that while they are zealous for the interests of officers they are indifferent to the grievances of the men. The case I have to submit is one to which I called attention last year, but, as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War will recollect, it was brought on at 3 o'clock in the morning, when I am sure neither he or I did justice to the subject. I make that confession for myself, and I think that the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman were hardly adequate. The complaint I have to make has been pressed upon me mainly from Scotland and my own constituency, but it comes also from all 1485 parts of the country, and chiefly from the large towns—I mean the case of those remaining veterans—of those who served in the Crimea and through the Indian Mutiny, and who are now living in destitution, mostly in our great towns. This is the specifically limited case I wish to submit to the Committee, and the proposition or suggestion I wish to make to the Committee and the War Office is that while I admit, entirely these men have no legal claim to a pension, and possibly not even a moral claim, while I make no contention on that ground, the proposition I submit is that a certain allowance—call it a compassionate allowance—should be devised to meet this case. Of course, I allow that the Secretary for War must lay down stringent rules and conditions under which such relief should be given, but I do suggest, and I invite hon. Members to support me, that subject to all reasonable restrictions the Government ought to sanction a compassionate allowance to the men who fought for their country in these two campaigns. I believe there is a precedent for the course I suggest. I believe there was an allowance outside the regular pension list for veterans of the French War. I think it was called the Peninsular and Waterloo allowance, but the right hon. Gentleman will know more about it than I do. I believe it was a compassionate allowance made, not a pension to which men could make any claim. It is for the publicad vantage I make the proposition, as well as for the relief of these needy veterans. It is not creditable to the country that there should be in different parts of the country numbers of men who have rendered meritorious service to the country, who faced great dangers, and underwent great privations, I may say who saved their country in a time of peril, and who now, in their old age, should be living in poverty and destitution. I know that in my own constituency public feeling is greatly shocked, and would applaud a proposal to assist these men, who, through some accident, are not entitled to pensions. It is a disadvantage to the Army that such a spectacle should be presented in towns where recruiting is carried on. How can young men be tempted to enter the Army when they know—when they see before them—men who served the 1486 country well in the past, now ending their days in poverty and destitution, without the smallest State assistance? I believe it would be a gratification to public feeling if the Government would consent to make such an allowance. This is in all its essentials the proposition I have to submit. Again, I say, I am not claiming that these men have been unjustly passed over by the War Office or the authorities who administer the pension system. I have no doubt that, upon the whole, the War Office administers the pension system with strict regard to legal rights, though, perhaps, I may recall to the right hon. Gentleman a case to which I drew his attention some little time ago, where the strict enforcement of rules went beyond the bounds of legality, and in regard to which the Department afterwards acknowledged they were in the wrong; but I do not allege that, as a whole, they have done more than to enforce the strict letter of the law. But for the old soldiers who served in these campaigns I speak of I ask for a concession to public feeling beyond the legal demands. I have here a great mass of information supplied to me from all parts of the country, but I will not trouble the Committee with detailed references. There is a similarity among these cases, some of the men have very small pensions, others none at all, and I will submit the particulars of any or all of these oases to the right hon. Gentleman for his consideration. Most of the men, I find, served for 10 years; they are what are called "short time" men. I presume the fact is, they entered the Service under the condition that if they left at the end of 10 years they would not be entitled to a pension. It may be said these men are in their position of having no pension through their own voluntary action, and no doubt that is so. Young and hopeful, they thought they could do better outside the Army, after their term of service, but they have been unfortunate in the struggle for life, and the claim they now make is not based upon any contention that they are wrongfully deprived of pension due simply; they ask that their services may be taken into consideration with their present position, with the view of receiving a compassionate allowance. Here is an instance of a man who served at Alma, Balaclava, and the siege of Sebas- 1487 topol, who was not a day from his regiment, who endured great privations in the winters of 1854–55. and returned to England in 1856; in June, 1857, he was ordered to China, then to Calcutta, took part in the capture of Cawnpore, the relief of Lucknow, and 12 other general engagements. He claimed his discharge in 1867. There are many more such instances. The terms of service vary from 10 to 16 years. Nearly all the men have decorations of some kind. The age varies from 56 to 66, and there is a good deal of loyalty in all these statements—a willingness to respond again to the call should duty require their services. In most cases the men are living as best they can in large towns; and in respect to these cases from Dundee, I may say the information has been collected by a constituent of mine, Mr. Martin, who has devoted a considerable amount of time to the verification of the particulars in each case. In other towns similar information has been collected by an association, formed for the purpose, and a large mass of information has been transmitted to me, no doubt with the hope that specific cases might find their way into the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. Dismissing all thought of legal claim, and subject to all restrictions of age or length of service or other conditions it may be necessary to impose, I now ask the right hon. Gentleman that this suggestion that a compassionate allowance should be granted in the most necessitous cases should have his serious and, as I am sure it will have, his sympathetic consideration.
§ (7.30.) MR. E. STANHOPE
Nothing could be better than the spirit in which the hon. Member has brought forward this matter, and in what he has said he has had a large amount of sympathy from every Member of the House. The real difficulty is to know how to deal with the cases he has put forward. The hon. Member's principle is that some sort of compassionate allowance should be given to deserving men who have served in the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. The question is, how are we going to apply that principle, and what length we intend to go? Are we going to commit the country to give a pension in every case whether a man has earned it or not, whether he has taken part in these transactions, or has 1488 merely formed part of the Army, and has served possibly at a distance from active operations? Are we going to apply it to the very large number of men who were in the Army for only three years? Would it be fair to provide pensions in those cases considering the enormous expense to which it would put the Exchequer? My hon. Friend the Under Secretary and myself caused a very careful investigation to be made by an actuary into this matter, and, from the best information we could get, we found that the total cost of providing pensions for all the men whom we calculated have been in these campaigns and are now living would amount to £1,000,000—even on the understanding that we were to limit the pensions to men over 70 years of age. If we were to go much lower—and in the case of many of the men mentioned by the hon. Member opposite, the age is from 60 to 65—the cost would be very much greater.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
For these men only. Therefore the Committee will see we are discussing a question of enormous importance, and one that can only be approached with the greatest possible caution. At the same time, my hon. Friend and myself have been very much impressed during the last few years with certain cases of very great hardship which have arisen amongst the se men, and accordingly we propose to make a tentative step towards dealing with these cases of extreme hardship. There are some cases of very deserving men—men now approaching the end of their lives, who have, through no fault of their own, been brought to a state of destitution. We accordingly will propose next year that power shall be given to the Secretary of State for the time being to deal with a very limited number of really deserving cases in each year—say 100. Of course, we should not by that step be able to make a very great impression on the large number of men in this position, but at any rate we should show that we do appreciate their services, and that the State was prepared to do what it reasonably could be expected to do towards meeting the cases of really deserving men. I hope the hon. Member will see from what I have 1489 said that the subject is engaging the attention of the Department, and that we feel the force of his arguments.
§ MR. HANBURY
May I ask whether it would not be possible this year to do what is proposed? If a Bill were introduced this Session it might be passed very rapidly.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I thank the hon. Member for the suggestion. I will consider whether that can be done.
§ *(7.36.) MR. MATHER (Lancashire, S. E., Gorton)
I think the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to my hon. Friend, so far as it goes, is eminently satisfactory, but I would strongly urge on the right hon. Gentleman to have some courage in facing the matter, and to trust it to the House of Commons for settlement. I believe that if he were to come to the House of Commons and propose a substantial addition to the Estimates in order to deal with the most deserving cases the House would respond to his appeal generously. It is a question of money, no doubt, but when we remember the services rendered to the country by these veterans in times of emergency, and the inducements that were held out to them in their youth to join the Army, I think all will agree that when they find themselves reduced to a state of the greatest poverty in their old age their case is one of extreme hardship. I can myself testify to there being a large number of these unfortunate men in the manufacturing districts of Lancashire. They are always endeavouring to get work—any kind of work—to eke out their miserable livelihood. If I were to describe their actual condition it would harrow the feelings of the Committee. Many of them are suffering terrible hardships, and I cannot help feeling that if the House of Commons were only appealed to it would readily grant the funds necessary to ameliorate the condition of these men.
§ *COLONEL BLUNDELL
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider the practicability of introducing into the Army a system of insurance against old age. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will give his attention to the whole question involved in the Patriotic Fund.
*(7.41.) SIR J. COLOMB&c.) (Tower Hamlets, Bow,
I would ask the Secretary for War to deal as promptly as possible with these men. For my own part, I am not a bit frightened at hearing that it would cost £1,000,000 to sufficiently provide for those who bore the burdens and brunt of these two campaigns, and who now in their declining years are entitled to commiseration in their distress. I think we ought to be generous to those who have fought in these two great campaigns. I am confident that the House of Commons and the feeling of all classes in England would support the Government if they dealt with this matter in a statesmanlike and generous spirit. The country is not doing its duty rightly and fairly towards these men, and I hope, as I say, the Government will deal with this question promptly and in a manner worthy of England and of England's Empire.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I heartily sympathise with the hon. Member opposite who has brought this matter forward, and who has put his case so well. He has very properly pointed out that the grievances of the purchase officers have been well ventilated in the House, but the private soldiers are not so lucky. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War said he did not know how to meet the hon. Member, but I would, in the most deferential manner, suggest how he could meet him—by largely increasing the grant to the Society for the Relief of Deserving Discharged Soldiers. That Society is not germane to this vote, and I do not intend to dilate on it. I am sure, however, that that would be a practical way of meeting the appeal of the hon. Member.
§ (7.44.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid.)
There are many Irish soldiers who have served Great Britain and Ireland well in various campaigns, and I therefore would join in the appeal of the hon. Member. We have seen officer after officer succeeding each other in the Debate on the grievances of the purchase officers, but the claims of the private soldiers, have been entirely overlooked hitherto. I think the claims of these men well deserve our attention, and that it is the duty of the Government to turn a willing ear to them, not 1491 for electioneering purposes, but with a view to dealing with these unfortunate men in a benevolent spirit.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I will look into the regulations of the Patriotic Fund, and see what can be done in the matter with regard to it.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I confess I am astonished by the magnitude of the figure mentioned by the Secretary of State for War as being necessary to carry out the scheme I have in view. The right hon. Gentleman says the pensioning of the Crimean and Indian veterans will take £1,000,000 per annum.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
It may commence at £30,000 per annum, but the sum received would rapidly rise to £100,000 per annum, as the recipients reached the necessary age.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
The capital sum is £1,000,000. That means to this country an expenditure of less than £30,000 per annum. I am very much relieved to find that I had misapprehended the figure, which I thought was a monstrous one. That reduces the question to one of infinitesimal magnitude, and now I have no hesitation in pressing the suggestion of one of the right hon. Gentleman's supporters below the Gangway, that the matter should be taken in hand immediately and dealt with this year. The Secretary of State for War assumes that I am asking for consideration for the cases of men serving only, perhaps, two or three years. All the cases I have mentioned, and I believe all the cases that have been submitted to me, are cases of men who have served at least 10 years. That would very considerably limit the amount necessary to carry out the reform. Those who have requested me to bring this matter before the House appear to have no notion of such a limit as that of two or three years' service, and appear to be quite contented with a limit of 10 or 12 years' service. I thank the right hon. Gentleman, in the name of the luckless beings for whom I have spoken, for the sympathetic way in which he has spoken of them, and I also thank 1492 the House and hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite, who, I believe, have supported me honestly and without any ulterior motive.
§ *SIR J. COLOMB
I would ask at what rate the pensions are calculated in forming the estimate given by the Secretary for War?
§ (7.51.) MR. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
I quite agree with those who believe that these grants should be given to these veterans, and I would suggest that we should have a sum of, say, £10,000 voted for the purpose. I do not think it would be convenient to say that the grant should be confined to men who served in the Crimea and in India.
§ *SIR F. FITZWYGRAM (Hants, Fareham)
I must say it seems to me that if this is to be a reward for war Service, length of service ought to be immaterial.
§ *MR. LENG (Dundee)
I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say he will make some inquiry as to the possibility of applying certain portions of the Patriotic Fund for the relief of deserving soldiers without pensions and now sick and infirm. There is another fund to which I directed the right hon. Gentleman's attention some time ago—the soldiers' unclaimed prize money—amounting to £100,000, and which is steadily increasing. All I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman is, that he might very fairly apply the interest on that money to the most necessitous and deserving cases. I think that is a practical suggestion, and I again bring it before the right hon. Gentleman. The danger is that that fund will go on accumulating, and then that some day we shall find it stated in the Estimates that the Treasury have issued a Warrant to transfer a largo portion of it to the Exchequer. That money really belongs to the private soldiers or their friends, and there can be no more legitimate application of it than in relief of the Crimean and Indian veterans.
§ *(7.57.) MR. BRODRICK
We quite recognise that the Unclaimed Prize Funds are the property of the Army, and they are used for the veterans 1493 at the Chelsea Hospital. They are entirely administered by the Commissioners of Chelsea Hospital, and, except as Commissioners, neither the Secretary of State nor myself have any control over the fund. The Commissioners are most jealous of any proposal to take the funds away or use them for any purpose other than that to which they are now applied. They think it better not to mix that fund up with this question of pensions. If they were to do so that fund would only stave oft' the necessity of a grant for a couple of years, and I think what is done should be done in the Votes and with the sanction of Parliament.
§ (7.58.) MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I wish to call attention to the case of an old soldier named John Wren, who left the Army after serving 20 years 178 days, and I would ask whether, under the special circumstances of the case, the War Office will not allow this man his pension as if he had served 21 years?
§ *MR. BRODRICK
I will promise to look carefully into the case, which has already been under consideration.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 3. £160,100, Superannuation and other Allowances and Gratuities.
4. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £716,700 be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Royal Engineer Superintending Staff, and Expenditure for Royal Engineer Works, Buildings, and Repairs, at Home and Abroad (including purchases), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1892.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
What I have already said is that a Sanitary Commission was established not very long since. That Commission is a very active and useful body, and every plan for the construction of works connected with the barracks is referred to them, before a building is proceeded with, and, if necessary, there is a medical officer who may be consulted.
§ MR. HANBURY
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if all the plans are 1494 kept, because it is essential that they should be referred to when necessary, and I believe it has been found that in the case even of many of our new buildings no plans of the drains or other parts of the structure can be got at.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
Yes, Sir; they will certainly be kept, and anyone departing from the plans approved by the Sanitary Commissioner will incur a very grave responsibility.
§ ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what progress has been made with the works for the defence of the various coaling stations, such as those at Hong Kong, Jamaica, Malta, the Straits Settlements, and other parts of the world? Any information which the right hon. Gentleman is able to furnish in relation to these coaling stations would be particularly interesting to the country.
§ (8.5.) MR. JEFFREYS
I should like to know what my right hon. Friend proposes to do in the way of building at Aldershot in the course of the ensuing year. This information does not appear in the Estimates. It is, I may say, ve satisfactory to all who are interested in the welfare of our soldiers to see what excellent barracks have been erected during the last few months, and I wish to know if it is intended by the War Department to erect any more buildings there in the coming year?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
Yes, Sir. It is intended to finish the buildings at Aldershot as soon as possible. The next contract that will be put out will be for barracks for the 5th Battalion at South Camp. The matter has not been dealt with in the Estimates, because the work is being done under the Barracks Act. With regard to the defences of the coaling stations, I think I may say that substantially all the main works will be completed during the coming year. The guns are ready, but in some cases the colonists have not yet begun or completed the works necessary for placing the guns in position.
§ *SIR F. FITZWYGRAM
There is only one point on which I desire to make an observation, and that is with regard to the neglect which takes place in reference to the proper custody of the 1495 building plans. My experience is that the plans get lost, and if ever it becomes necessary to examine the drains the greatest confusion prevails as to how they can be got at. One case occurs to me. A new Government House was built for the General at Portsmouth. The General and all his family fell ill. Drains all wrong—drains all re - laid at great expense. Two years later the Duke of Connaught was sent there, but before he took up his residence Her Majesty sent experts to examine into the drainage, the result being that every drain about the place had to be taken up at great expense, and the whole drainage re-arranged. A worse case occurred at Portsdown Hill, a situation in which it would have been thought that no amount of ingenuity could have made the drainage go wrong; but, as a matter of fact, more than once or twice during the last two or three years they have had to move the troops on account of the typhoid fever which broke out there.
§ (8.12.) MR. E. STANHOPE
No doubt a good many mistakes have been made in matters such as those referred to by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I do not think that these mistakes are likely to be repeated in the future. We are endeavouring to take the most reasonable and prudent course we can adopt in order to put the whole sanitary system of these buildings in good order, and we have taken care that some officer shall always remain at any of the works under construction during the whole period the work is going on.
§ SIR WILLIAM PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can give us any information in reference to the sanitary condition of the Richmond Barracks?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
There is no doubt that the sanitary condition of those barracks has not been all that could be desired, but I hope the result of the works now being carried on there will be to place those barracks in a thoroughly satisfactory condition.
§ DR. TANNER
I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the drainage of the Ballincollig Barracks, which are situated in the midst of the constitu- 1496 ency I represent. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman how he intends to carry out the works there. Are they to be done by contract? I want to know also whom he is going to employ, and to suggest that he will get as good work done by the people of the district as by importing labour from a distance. I may also point out that nothing has been done in connection with the Cork Barracks this year. The right hon. Gentleman may recollect that a great number of typhoid fever cases have occurred at that station, and I must express my surprise at such a result in the case of buildings so well situated with regard to drainage and water supply. In such a position there ought to be no such thing as typhoid or typhus fever. The Cork Barracks were always extremely healthy until of late years, and as far as I can see nothing is being done with regard to the drainage of the buildings. Unless something is done, and done soon, you are likely to have a worse state of things in those barracks than ever. The Government have a large sum of money with which to improve our barracks, and I think they ought to spend a portion of it on the barracks at Cork. I may also refer to the sanitary condition of the camp at the Curragh. There is no doubt that the sanitary condition there is in an indescribable state, especially as regards the officers' quarters. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to assure the House that the necessary works shall be proceeded with at the three military stations I have mentioned.
§ (8.20.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I am afraid I cannot answer the question of the hon. Member with regard to the works at Ballincollig, but I give him the assurance that I will make inquiry. With regard to the Cork Barracks, I am not aware whether the workpeople are there at present or not; but the Government are anxious to begin as soon as they can, and that is why they have put this Vote forward. We cannot proceed until the necessary money has been voted by the House. With regard to the Curragh, I am glad to say the plans for the general re-construction of the Curragh Camp are practically ready, but there must be some little delay in order that the plans in all their details shall be thoroughly examined by the proper authorities.
§ MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)
I wish to call attention to the omission from this Vote of any sum to pay for the additional barrack accommodation required at Singapore. My contention is that means ought to have been provided in this Vote for that purpose, and that the absence of any such provision is a breach more or less of the arrangement come to between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Singapore, whereby the two Governments agreed that the cost of the works should be defrayed between them. I submit that this matter ought to have been dealt with in this Vote. It is quite true that the colony is willing at the present moment to provide the extra barrack accommodation, but the colony holds——
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I rise to order. There is no money taken in this Vote for the purpose mentioned, and the hon. Member is not in order in discussing it, although he would be in order in discussing it on some other Vote. He cannot move an addition to this Vote for the purpose referred to, and, therefore, I say he is not in order.
§ MR. DE LISLE
But my contention is that the absence of means for this purpose in the present Vote is a breach of faith on the part of the Government.
The question of providing money for the barracks at Singapore can hardly be taken on this Vote, and, therefore, the hon. Member is not in order in raising the question. He can, however, raise it upon another Vote.
§ MR. DE LISLE
I hope I may be allowed to complain that the necessary barrack accommodation has not been found at Singapore, and I say that this arises from the fact that the agreement under which Her Majesty's Government undertook to divide the cost with the Singapore Government has been broken. The colony feels very strongly on this point, owing to the fact that the order sent out was against the conscientious views entertained by the Governor and his Council.
§ (8.30.) MR.MORTON (Peterborough)
I should like to know whether the particulars of this Vote are to be found 1498 anywhere. We ought to be made acquainted with the manner in which this money is expended.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
It has only been customary to particularise in cases when the expenditure amounts to £1,000 or more. It would, in fact, be difficult to give the items in detail, because a general sum is fixed upon to cover a large number of services, and it may or may not be spent.
§ DR. TANNER
It is most extraordinary that, although the country was last year called upon to pay a large sum for the purpose of providing barracks, and although many Members of this House expostulated against the outlay, we are now called upon to pay as much under this Vote as in previous years.
§ (8.33.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I think I can explain the matter to the hon. Member without the necessity of further argument. When I brought in the Barrack Act last Session I clearly explained that we were not including in it a considerable number of sanitary works which we thought ought to be provided for in the ordinary Estimates.
§ DR. TANNER
I quite admit the importance of properly dealing with sanitary matters, but I wish to emphasise the fact that in spite of the large sums we specially voted last year the Estimate now under discussion is £17,166 in excess of the amount voted under this particular head. And yet the sanitary condition of several of the barracks in Ireland is still most deplorable. I could name at least three barracks in Dublin which are in a disgraceful condition. So are the barracks at Cork, as well as the new ones at Fermoy. If these matters are to be dealt with at all they should be thoroughly treated. It appears to me that the Government, knowing that their occupancy of Office will not last much longer, are anxious to saddle their successors with a heavy debt. I think the country is, practically speaking, being robbed in this matter, and that the House is not doing its duty, for it does not see that the money voted for these works is properly expended. The prime object with which hon. Members are sent here is to secure the proper administration of public funds; they have to 1499 see that the public money is not squandered, and I hope that in the future these Votes will be more closely scrutinised. (8.40.)
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ (9.15.) MR. MORTON
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War seems to think that this is a very small affair. It cannot be a very small affair when £470,266 is involved, and when the Vote is £25,000 greater than it was last year. I think the Government should tell us how this large sum of money is to be spent. I have received no answer to my question as to whether these works are to be put out to public tender or not. I do not know much about generals and colonels; but I do profess to know something about works, and I know that unless one is very careful there is a good deal of extravagance and waste in the case of public works.
§ MR. MORTON
I am speaking now of the items under sub-heads O to T, Parts 2 and 3. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say the money is going to be spent on barracks, fortifications, and the like. Although the works may cost a little under £1,000 each, there is no reason why we should not have the same information about thorn as we received concerning works which cost over £1,000 each.
§ (9.20.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I shall be very glad to give the hon. Member all the information I can. Works will be put out to public tender when they are of such a character as to require that course to be adopted. The details of the works occurring under Part 2 have boon brought to my notice, but I do not ask the Committee to apply the money precisely to those objects. When you have got barracks, ordnance store buildings, and fortifications in all parts of the world, some service of an urgent character may arise. We take a general estimate under Parts 2 and 3 of repairing likely to occur, but of course we retain a discretion to deal at once with some specially urgent service when it arises.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
The only substantial increase is with regard to fortifications, and that arises from the fact that there are greater works to be done this year than last.
§ MR. MORTON
I notice that under subhead T Part 3 the increase for barracks is £12,000, whereas that for fortifications is only £9,717. In Part 2 the increase is not for fortifications, but for barracks, namely, £5,314.
§ (9.23.) MR. DE LISLE
On page 67 of this Vote there is an item of £3,272 to complete the fortifications at Singapore. This year £1,800 is required, and I propose to move a reduction of the Vote by that amount in order to call attention to——
§ MR. MORTON
I rise to a point of order. I wish to ask for information in regard to an item on page 63. If we go to page 67 shall I not be precluded from raising the question I desire?
§ MR. DE LISLE
The Colony of Singapore are of opinion that this House has gone back from the agreement made in 1884, whereby the colony undertook to provide one-half of the actual cost of the whole military defence, and in addition, the entire cost of the barracks required.
I have told the hon. Gentleman he cannot discuss that question on this Vote, and he cannot do it by a side wind, by seizing hold of the fact that a certain sum is to be spent on fortifications at Singapore.
It is out of order to discuss whether that which is out of order now will be in order on the Report stage.
§ MR. MORTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to explain the foot-note which says that military labour will be utilised as much as possible in carrying out these works? If it means that the soldiers will be paid extra for this work I shall be very glad.
The hon. Member may do that. There can be no discussion on it, and it would be rather unusual to move a reduction without giving any reason. Mr. Morton.
§ (9.27.) MR. MORTON
In Subhead 3 there is a sum for old materials. I should like to know whether these materials are put up for tender so that the highest price may be got for them. I have known cases where these things have been sold perhaps to favourites who have not given the highest price for them. Then there is an item of £6,000 for damages to barrack and hospital buildings. I confess I cannot quite understand what that may be for. The next item is for rent for War Department, lands, buildings, and so on, and I should like to know why we get considerably less than we did last year for rent?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
As regards the last point, in dealing with the properties we have to deal with for War Office purposes in different parts of the world, and it may happen that in some years we require to rent less than in others for housing our troops. That is the case in the present year. As to the damages to barracks and hospital buildings, naturally enough we take the same sum this year as we did last year.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
If the hon. Member will be kind enough to go to Aldershot he may possibly see a little boy throwing' a series of stones on to the roofs of the huts and breaking some of the tiles. He will find also if he goes through the world that there are a good many little boys and other people who damage the property of the War Office. These are, of course, small matters, and it is obvious to anybody who looks at the matter from a common-sense point 1502 of view that there must be damage of some description.
§ (9.30.) MR. MORTON
I must take exception to any sarcastic remonstrance against my inquiries. Inquiry is one of the functions we have to discharge in Committee. How is it possible else that we can in any way check departmental expenditure?
§ MR. WEBSTER
On the point of order, Sir, may I direct your attention to the item of £29,000, on page 67, for defences at Hong Kong. I should like to ask, is it not competent for us to call attention to the fact that the Imperial Government entered into an arrangement with the colony, undertaking responsibilities for the defence of the colony on consideration of the colony finding a proportion of the expenditure? Crown Colonies as well as self-governing colonies are jealous of the principle of self-taxation. Out of this arose the loss of our American Colonies. I ask, Sir, whether it would be in order to raise a discussion on this point upon this Vote?
§ (9.33.) DR. TANNER
In the matter of disused or partially-used barracks I would ask, why are they allowed to fall into a condition which involves such a heavy expenditure? There are barracks in the City of Cork and in other parts of Ireland which are only occasionally used for Militia training. In Carlow there are largo barracks that are so neglected that they are not fit for occupation. Twenty-five years ago they were used as Cavalry barracks; and if troops were permanently stationed there, and the barracks were kept in a proper state of repair, we should not be called upon to provide this heavy expenditure for barracks. To take Carlow as an instance, why not have a regiment permanently stationed there P It is a very healthy place, it has delightful surroundings, and when years ago we had a Cavalry regiment stationed there it was of great benefit to the locality. We have these places on our hands; surely we should do something with them or give them up. This half-hearted inaction only leads to the expenditure of large sums of money such as we foolishly assented to last year.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
As to the question of disused or partially-used barracks, it has engaged our attention frequently. The War Office has carefully considered whether it would not be worth while to get rid of some of them, but it has ultimately been decided that that would be a very unwise course. Unfortunately, we may require them at some future time. ["No, no," from Dr. TANNER.] Well, I hope not, and, personally, I think we might get rid of some of them, but at any rate we could not get as much for them as would make it worth while to sell, and, that being so, it is wiser to keep them.
§ MR. DE LISLE
I rise to move a reduction of the Vote by £1,800 in reference to the item on page 67, grants to the Straits Settlements. I wish to stop the progress of the works and fortifications there until the colonists have received some explanation of what they regard as the breach of faith on the part of the Colonial Office. I submit I am in order in moving this reduction, and I do so for the single purpose of eliciting an explanation which I certainly think the colonists are entitled to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £714,900, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. De Lisle.)
§ (9.41.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I shall have no objection to accept the Amendment, because, as I contend, if there has been any breach of engagement it is the colonists, and not Her Majesty's Government, who have broken the agreement.
§ MR. DE LISLE
I certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the colonists have not kept to the agreement. The colonists maintain that they have kept their part of the agreement, but the Colonial Office have not kept their part. I know the circumstances from being private secretary to a relative who was Governor of the colony, and I know that there was a long 1504 delay in providing the guns for the fortifications——
I have already told the hon. Member that the question of the grievances of the colonists cannot be discussed upon this Vote. He may make a Motion to cut off this expenditure by the Imperial Government, and I have put that Motion, but he cannot proceed to discuss grievances of the colonists under this Vote.
§ MR. DE LISLE
Under the circumstances, I will not take the responsibility of withdrawing this sum from the colony, though I wish the circumstances explained, and I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again put, and agreed to.
§ 5. £292,800, Medical Establishment Pay, &c.
§ (9.45.) DR. TANNER
I have a few remarks to make in connection with this Vote, and I had hoped that certain Members specially acquainted with the subject would have been here this evening to support me in calling the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the administration of the Army Medical Department. At the outset I take occasion to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on certain concessions he has made, concessions which I learn from friends and acquaintances in the Service are entirely to their satisfaction. But though the right hon. Gentleman has done a good deal, yet muck remains still to be done. As a medical man, and having some acquaintance with the subject, I must say that a great deal remains to be done in connection with this Department. If medical gentlemen entering the Army are to be kept au fait as regards their profession, certain advantages ought to be provided for them, in order to enable them to keep up to the mark, and I desire to recall to the mind of the Secretary for War the suggestion of the Committee of last year upon this subject. I have had the satisfaction of gaining from the First Lord of the Admiralty an important concession as regards medical men in the Naval Service, and surely what is good for the one Service should be good for the other. It is the opinion among medical authori- 1505 ties that it would he of the greatest benefit to the medical men engaged, and to the Service, if gentlemen in this Department were allowed certain periods during their term of service during which they might perfect their studies at any recognised institution for the purpose. This proposition has the support of no less an authority than Sir Andrew Clark. It will entail no large expenditure, and, indeed, will ultimately bring about a saving of expenditure. I may mention, as likely to have an influence with the War Office, that this custom obtains in Germany, and in my early days I can remember officers in uniform attending medical lectures in Berlin. The same thing is done in France, and, I believe, in the United States. I hope the Secretary for War will seriously consider this matter. Medical officers are retired at rather an early age, and a great portion of their services are practically lost to the State. I think if this suggestion were adopted it would place the gentlemen in the Army Medical Service on higher ground; they would become acquainted with the advances in modern medical science, to the great advantage of officers and men coming under their care. The matter has an increased importance from the extension of the term of foreign service. The practice of their profession in tropical climates and under insanitary conditions adds considerably to the risks they undergo, and I regret that there have been remarks, and even from the right hon. Gentleman himself, tending to depreciate the risks members of the profession undergo. When the right hon. Gentleman attempts to minimise the conditions under which medical officers serve, I think he does wrong to a class of men who do their duty under very trying circumstances. There is another point I wish to call attention to, that is the appointment to positions at home of half-pay officers. You find gentlemen returning from service abroad, suffering perhaps from the effects of climate, and having in view appointment to positions at home which their experience and services admirably qualify them to fill, and, to their great disappointment, they find that the posts they looked forward to are filled by half-pay officers at home. As regards the rank and file, I have already congratulated the right hon. Gentleman 1506 upon what he has done, and I hope he will take further steps in the same direction. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take into his serious consideration the suggestion offered by the Committee of last year as to the formation of a Royal Medical Corps, placing them on exactly the same footing as the Royal Engineers. There are a great many points that could be raised in connection with this matter. Doctors in the Army have not only to practise their profession, they have to drill their men, and on active service it has nut infrequently happened that the men have done gallant service. I need only allude to the names of Surgeon Major Reynolds and Surgeon Major Cronan V.C., as instances of good service in positions of peril. Further, in the same direction, I may mention Mr. Stanley's testimony to the services of Mr. Parkes as showing that doctors are capable of other duties than the noble one of taking care of the ailments of poor human nature. I may say that there are 460 Irish Medical Officers in the Army. I have, therefore, every reason to impress on the right hon. Gentleman the complaints and requirements of these gentlemen. I would ask him whether something cannot be done in connection with the question of Sanitary Boards. The subject of sick leave was brought before the House last year, and I do not think a satisfactory answer was then given. If I am wrong of course I hope the right hon. Gentleman will set me right.
§ *(10.2.) SIR W. GUYER HUNTER (Hackney, Central)
I regret very much the absence of the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson), who has taken a very active part in the endeavours that have been made to remove the grievances of the Army Medical Department. I believe he intended to be in his place. Before he left the House only two or three hours ago he told me the officers of the Department were extremely grateful to the Secretary for War for having given them compound titles and placed their leave on the same footing as that of other members of the Service. The hon. Member is more competent to speak on the subject than I am, as he was formerly an officer in the Army Medical Service. I think, however, it would be well if the right 1507 hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War; could see his way to modify the new title of the Brigade Surgeon. There is still the question of leave for studying in medical schools. I believe a great deal of the difficulty is now got over by medical officers spending a portion of their time in the medical schools. I have known medical officers who, coming home on leave, have spent a great deal of their time in this way, thus gaining an increased knowledge of medical science. There are many opportunities of a valuable character, which, if a medical officer avails himself of them, will render it less necessary for him to ask for leave in order to study in some special hospital in this country. In India there are numerous opportunities, which are not exceeded in this country, of obtaining information, scientific and practical, in every branch of the medical profession. I wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the concessions he has granted to the Army Medical Department, and I trust he will on a future occasion see his way to remedying certain grievances which still remain un-redressed.
§ (10.6.) MR. E STANHOPE
I have to thank the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he has spoken of the concessions I have been able, consistently with my duty, to make to the demands of the officers of the Army Medical Department. I am sure the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson), had he been here, would have said much the same thing, for although he has always taken a very strong line I have always found him open to conviction. The discussion which has taken place on the subject has been painful to me in many respects, and I am glad that some of the points that have been raised have been satisfactorily solved. I rejoice to find that the conformed titles have been accepted as generally satisfactory to the Service, as I desire to work as harmoniously as I can with the medical branch of the profession. I can assure the hon. Member for Cork (Dr. Tanner) that the same sick leave is given to medical officers as to other officers. The hon. Member has suggested that additional facilities should be given to medical officers for the purposes of study. I shall be very 1508 glad to consider this and the other points the hon. Member has brought to my notice, and if I can meet the wishes of the medical service any further I shall be happy to do so.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I am considering that question now, and I hope the hon. Member will allow me to postpone my answer.
§ DR. TANNER
I shall be happy to let the right hon. Gentleman postpone it. The present regulations are, however, very absurd. As to the remarks of the hon. Member for Hackney (Sir W. Guyer Hunter) I may say that if more opportunities were afforded to medical men in the Army for scientific study they would, without doubt, make use of them for the benefit of themselves and of the medical profession. I have only in these matters tried to do the best I possibly can for the profession.
§ *(10.10.) SIR W. GUYER HUNTER
I think the hon. Gentlemen must have misunderstood the nature of my remarks, or else I expressed myself badly. While admitting that under certain conditions Medical Officers had been allowed to visit the medical schools here, I said at the same time that in India there were numerous opportunities in the hospitals of acquiring scientific knowledge. I did not in the least discourage the giving of facilities for study in the medical schools or hospitals in the Metropolis or the other large towns of this country.
§ DR. TANNER
In connection with the item for the cost of medicines, I would ask whether the Department still contracts with the Apothecaries' Hall and Messrs. Savory and Moore?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I do not think I should be in order in answering that question as this Vote applies solely to the Medical Staff.
§ DR. TANNER
The Vote is for Medical Staff and Payments, and the cost of medicines comes under sub-head E. It is £1,000 less than last year.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I may say that another firm was invited to tender, and we obtained a tender from a firm other than that we previously contracted with. The principal Medical Officer of the Army reported to us that the new firm was thoroughly reliable, 1509 and we, therefore, have not kept the contract in the hands of one firm, but whether or not the now arrangement will prove satisfactory I cannot at present say.
§ (10.14.) DR. TANNER
There was reason to believe for many years that the War Office were acting on a wrong principle in this matter, and that it would be better to throw open the contract to all vendors of medicines in the United Kingdom. I still think that the contract should be entirely open—for we might be able to get certain classes of medicines better from abroad than we can buy them at home. If I am not mistaken, Messrs. Savory & Co. used to have the entire contract, and I think the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State will bear me out that we were told that it would be better to take the medicines in small quantities at a time, instead of getting them in in bulk. I would point out that it would be more satisfactory to lay in your stock of medicines year by year in the same way as your general hospital does. The London Hospitals act in that way. The fact that the old system was unsatisfactory is, I think, sufficiently demonstrated by the circumstances that this year there is a decrease of £1,000 in the Medicine Vote. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will in this, as in other matters, go in and try to do better, so that better medicines may be obtained for suffering soldiers, so that the money of the public may be saved, and the Army contractors may have a fair deal all round. The right hon. Gentleman has already admitted one new firm into this bargain, but I hope he will try and throw it still more open.
§ MR. MORTON
I see under sub-head "A" a reference to the appendix which states that medical officers have the option of employing a servant from the Medical Staff Corps, or taking the money in lieu of a servant. Does this mean that if a medical officer chooses to do without a servant he can still draw the money?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
No. It means that a medical officer can either have a servant from the Medical Staff Corps, or can employ and pay out of the Vote a servant who does not belong to that corps.
§ MR. MORTON
Then, I see that the amount allowed is 1s. a day, which seems to me to be a very small sum to give a servant. I should like some information as to how a doctor can be expected to get a servant who would be likely to be of any use to him for 1s. a day. As to the other matter, I should have thought that it would have been better to have insisted upon medical officers taking their servants from the Medical Staff Corps than allowing them to take them from where they like. I should have thought the Medical Staff Corps' servants would be of more assistance to a medical officer than a person taken from outside at 1s. a day.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
It is obvious that the whole time of a servant will not be obtained for 1s. a day. Only such services as are required will be obtained.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 6. £540,000, Militia Pay and Allowances.
§ *(10.18.) VISCOUNT WOLMER (Hants, Petersfield)
On this Vote I should like to ask one or two questions. In the first place, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he has a grain of comfort to give the Committee on the subject of the recruiting for the Militia? At the beginning of this year the Militia were short of their establishment by no less than 23,000 men and several hundred officers. I think it very possible that the right hon. Gentleman may say that really the time will come for solving the question of recruiting in the Militia when he has solved it in the Army. But in the meantime the Committee will feel anxious to know whether the right hon. Gentleman has any information to give on the matter. In this connection I should like to throw out a suggestion for the consideration of the Government. I think that no one who has looked into the matter can deny that the terms offered to militiamen are good, and it is not easy to see why the ranks are not filled. Has it ever occurred to the Military Authorities to train the Militia in the winter? It could not be done in all cases, but I think there must be cases at present where regiments are 1511 short of their establishment for the reason that the time when the Militia are called out for training is the time when the men are in full work. On the other hand, many of the men are out of employment in the winter and could be easily persuaded to join the Militia during that season. I know that in many parts of the country the weather in winter is uncertain, and that it would be difficult to drill men at that period, but altogether I think the suggestion I make is well worthy of consideration. I wish also to know what steps have been taken to carry out the recommendations of Lord Harris's Committee last year. That Committee went into the matters referred to them with great care, and a large number of its recommendations if carried out would tend largely to increase the efficiency of the Militia so far as it at present exists. It seems to me that the recommendations which should be particularly adopted are those in regard to training in brigade drill and musketry. It is a great mistake to apply too rigid a rule in recruiting the Militia; the circumstances of different regiments are so different. Why not accept the local adaptations which experience has shown to be necessary? In some cases it would be an advantage to revert once more to the 10s. bounty system, and in other cases to revert to the payment of "bringing" money. Under the bringing money system in some districts militiamen already in the battalion succeeded in inducing their friends to join, and in that way the strength was kept up, whereas now that the system has been done away with the recruiting has been entirely destroyed. The Militia are taken from such different classes, and are under such different circumstances in different parts of the country, that it is absurd to apply one rigid rule to the Force all over the country. When the right hon. Gentleman is looking into this important matter I would ask him to consider whether it is wise to tie down all regiments to the same rules.
§ (10.27.) MAJOR RASCH
I regret that the Secretary of State has been able to do so little for the Militia beyond taking the "M" from the collar and giving them a blue shirt, especially when we remember that this is the 1512 Force which stands behind the first Army Corps. There are two or three points to which the attention of the right hon. Gentleman should be directed in connection with this Force. One is that the inspection should be more strictly carried out; another is that the condition of the non - commissioned officers should be improved; another is that more musketry training should be given: and another is that the Militia regiments should take their turn at being encamped and brigaded with the regular troops. Everyone who is familiar with the Militia is aware of the fact that the inspection is always more or less of a holiday to the Force. The inspection begins with a parade; then there is a march past, and lunch; the General compliments the Colonel, the Colonel thanks the officers, and the officers felicitate the men on the success of the inspection. I know a case that occurred not long ago where the General commanding the district did not find out that the men were under canvas, and that the officers were living a mile away in houses. Then, as to the permanent staff, that is composed of sergeants who come to the Militia from the line in order as a rule to have an easy time of it. They are good nun as a rule, but the work they have to do is very considerable. They have to look after 120 boys, and to go through accounts that would puzzle a Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the result is far from satisfactory. The whole thing is a question of money. If you paid the men better you would get a better class of non-commissioned officers. As to sending the men under canvas to brigade with the troops, the system that has hitherto been adopted has been to send the same regiments out year after year. Why should not the regiments take it in turns? Thousands of men are counted several times over. A man may be out with an Essex regiment in one month, with a Sussex regiment later, then with a Scotch regiment, and then with a Welsh regiment. I am convinced that if the right hon. Gentleman does not look seriously into the condition of the Militia he will find that in counting upon the estimated Militia force he is trusting to a bruised reed.
(10.31.) COLONEL GUNTERW.R., Barkstone Ash) (Yorkshire,
I think the great falling off in Militia recruiting is due to the change of circumstances. In old days the Colonel of a Militia regiment was responsible, but now he has nothing to do with recruiting; it is in the hands of the Depôt Colonel of the District, very often a Cavalry Officer, and men are taken from anywhere. In old days when the Colonel was responsible he took a pride in his regiment, and knew the people among whom he found his recruits. I know that my own regiment was several times put before the General Officer 1,000 strong. But that regiment has been transferred from the West to the North Riding of Yorkshire, and I see in the present year it only numbers 500. The Colonel has no responsibility, and recruiting is carried on in a district with which the regiment has really no connection. I quite agree with the noble Lord that the men have much influence in bringing in other men. The "bringing in" money, small as it was, was an encouragement to recruiting, and the 10s. given to a man on enlistment was also an inducement to enlist, and the recruits were drawn from among known residents, and the Colonel was tolerably sure of his men coming out. But the whole system of Militia recruiting is now in a state of chaos, and requires change. Men are taken for enlistment in the Line, their chest measurement is deficient, and then they are taken into the Militia in the hope that by a few months' training they may develop, and the Militia is simply made a feeder for Line regiments.
§ (10.36.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I was rather amused to find that my hon. and gallant Friend rising to reply ended by agreeing with the noble Lord opposite.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
We have been taunted with having done nothing for the Militia, but in truth, much has been done in the last two or three years. We appointed a Committee of Militia Officers to consider what ought to be done, and this Committee made many recommendations, and nearly all of these have been carried out. We have allowed 1514 recruiting in certain cases in excess of the establishments, we have agreed to the recommendations as to conditions of discharge; we have agreed to the recommendations that old line non-commissioned officers should be raised to the permanent Staff, retain their rank, and receive an annual bounty of £3; in musketry training we have sanctioned the extension of 80 rounds-to the recruit class, and musketry drill with the company; the Commanding-Officer of the district has been instructed to visit the depôt during training after enlistment. We have provided in the Estimates for a large expenditure for Militia drill under canvas. The recommendation that Militia battalions should train in town with Regular troops is one I should be very glad to carry out; but it is very difficult to do so. There is a strong desire among the men to drill among their friends at Headquarters, and orders to drill with Regular troops give rise to much dissatisfaction. In principle I agree with the suggestion, and should be glad to carry it out. Among other recommendations we have adopted is the issue of flannel shirts. We are giving increased opportunities to Militia officers to attend at Woolwich and Hythe. Speaking generally, I may say we have done our best to carry out the recommendations of the Committee, and where we have fallen short of those recommendations, we shall do our utmost to carry them out in the future.
§ (10.45.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
The right hon. Gentleman has given us an answer on a good many minor points, important matters of detail no doubt, but he has not touched the main question raised by the noble Lord (Viscount Wolmer) and others. The Force it seems to me is in a very unsatisfactory state as to numbers and efficiency, and the deficiency of officers is a very serious question. On a previous Vote, I discussed the possibility of inducing retired officers to serve in the Auxiliary Forces. The right hon. Gentleman told me in reply, that he was very willing to encourage officers to join the Militia Service, but that the inducements held out had not been attended with success.
The hon. Member should have continued the discussion on 1515 that Vote. He cannot re-open the question on this Vote.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I was about to ask how the supply of officers for the Militia could be provided, and to suggest inducements to retired officers to join the Force, but I accept your warning, Sir, and on another occasion must be less modest, and take full advantage of an opportunity for discussion. It is most necessary that something should be done to remedy the defective condition of the Militia Force, and especially as regards officers. My own impression is, that it is not so much money that is the difficulty. We could well afford to spend another £1,000,000 on the Force, but the bottom of the difficulty is that under the present régime the War Office is dominated by the influence of the Horse Guards, and everything is sacrificed to the First-class Army Reserve. I have a strong suspicion that this Reserve may, on an emergency, fall far short of our requirements, and I would insist upon the importance of keeping up the Militia Reserve to its required strength by an infusion of men from the Regular Army to give strength and military cohesion to that Force.
§ (10.50.) MR. WEBSTER
The Militia Force is undoubtedly in a most unsatisfactory state. I think it was a false economy that abolished the small bounty given to men when they brought in recruits from among their companions in farm and factory. It would be wise to recur to the system which did greatly assist our recuiting system. I think our Militia Force is already sufficiently expensive, and I am far from wishing to spend another million upon it. I think we ought to get better results from our present expenditure. A vast amount is spent on the permanent staff, which would be sufficient for a far larger number of men. There is much to be done to encourage recruiting for the Militia. In old times officers knew their men and men their officers, but now the Militia is but a feeder for the Army. Men enter the Militia for a short time, and then by quick transition pass into the Regular Army. No doubt it is a good thing to have a good Army Reserve, but it is a 1516 great mistake not to keep up this old Constitutional Force to its proper strength.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman omitted to answer the question as to the time for drilling. Has any consideration been given to the point whether it is not desirable so to arrange the periods of training that they may come when the pressure of employment is less?
§ (10.56.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I should have mentioned that point. The War Office has considered the question of the best time for calling out the Militia. It has been suggested that the whole force should be called out at one time, in order that it might be seen whether any of the men had joined more than one battalion. This scheme, however, was found to be utterly impracticable, and it was found necessary to call out each battalion at the time most convenient to the men and their employers. It would not be a very popular plan to call the Militia out during the winter, unless we could find better quarters for them than those now available.
§ MR. MORTON
I observe an item of £1,600 for allowances for clerks of lieutenancy. I do not remember that we have ever had any explanation of this?
§ *MR. BRODRICK
The amount is paid because the duties are discharged under Act of Parliament. The item, however, is in course of disappearing, and four years ago we passed an Act to prevent payments of the kind from being made under new appointments.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
I cannot say, of course, when vacancies may occur, but as they do the fees will expire.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 7.£74,400, Yeomanry Cavalry, Pay and Allowances.
8. Motion made, and Question pro posed,
That a sum, not exceeding £761,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Capitation Grants and Miscellaneous Charges of Volunteer Corps, including Pay, &c, of the Permanent Staff, which will come
in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1892.
§ (11.3.) COLONEL HILL (Bristol, S.)
I wish to make a few remarks as to the Volunteers. The Memorandum of the Secretary of State for War mentions the falling-off of 3,000 men during the last year. That is attributed to the increased stringency of the regulations as to efficiency. I do not think that is the true reason, for the Volunteers have always shown themselves willing to comply with all the demands which have been made upon them in the direction of increased efficiency. The same document touches upon the great deficiency of officers, which, in my opinion, is the real cause. Why is it that gentlemen willing to become Volunteer officers do not come forward? I think it is because they fail to realise that the Volunteers are a real necessity for the defence of the country. I was told by the Royal Artillery officers at Plymouth, where I took a large party of Volunteer gunners, that most of the defences of that important arsenal will have to be intrusted to the Auxiliary Forces, and largely to the Volunteers, under the plan of mobilisation now in existence. To render our shores safe from invasion, and to prevent the recurrence of scarcely less disastrous panics, a force is needful, and there is really nothing between a Volunteer force such as we have and conscription. The cause of the deficiency of officers is not to be found in the cost which has to be incurred, though officers naturally object to paying purely military expenses. We naturally say, "If the force is valuable, the Government should pay all these expenses." The cost of outfit in a well-managed corps should not exceed £30 or £40, and the annual expenses should not be more than £10. There are thousands of young men in the country to whom such sums would be a mere trifle. While I gratefully acknowledge the great interest the Secretary of State for War has shown in the Volunteers, I fear there must exist in the War Office a malignant spirit who takes a pleasure in frustrating the benevolent designs of of my right hon. Friend. For example, in going into camp with the Regular Forces the Volunteers formerly went on these conditions:—Our train fare was 1518 paid, the officers' chargers were taken down free, the luggage was taken to the camp free, rations were given free, forage was given to the horses free, and we got 12s. per man. Then we were told that, as the Secretary of State wished to encourage the Volunteers, the allowance would be raised to 16s. per man. We got our 16s., but we were charged 6s. for rations, which is a loss of 2s. to begin with; the chargers are no longer taken down free, no forage is provided, we have to pay for taking the luggage to camp, and we are absolutely charged the difference between first and third class faros for the officers, the malignant individual evidently thinking third class good enough for Volunteer officers. Surely this is hardly the way to popularise the Service. Again, we were told that a new arrangement of travelling allowances would be made involving more money, but the malignant person so arranged it, that for my regiment we can only get 2s. in place of 5s. If we could only get rid of the evil spirit to which I have referred, the Volunteers might do very well with the financial arrangements which the Secretary of State for War has made for us. By way of improving the existing state of affairs, I suggest that the Volunteers should be treated like the Regulars as far as possible, and should be clothed in the same way. An effort should also be made to bind the Volunteers more closely to the Army, especially through the officers. If a certain number of commissions were given among the subaltern officers, it would have the most excellent effect, and it would be an immense advantage if officers who have served in the Regular Army could be induced, say, by the allowance of quarter pay, to accept commissions in the Volunteers. Further, I suggest that Volunteer officers should be exempt from serving on juries, as some recognition of the sacrifice of time. If the Secretary of State would adopt, the suggestions I have had the honour to make, so as to bind the Volunteers more closely to the Regular Forces, there would be no difficulty in obtaining officers. The Volunteers would flourish, and do their best to fulfil the duties for which they had been called into existence. I beg leave to thank the Committee for 1519 having listened to these observations, which I have thought it my duty to make.
§ (11.18.) MR. E. STANHOPE
There are two features in connection with the Volunteer Force—the falling - off in the supply of officers, and the decrease in the amount of local subscriptions. It is a very hard thing that a Volunteer officer should be called upon to incur large expense on account of his corps in consequence of the falling-off of local subscriptions. Anything I can do towards increasing the supply of officers I will readily do, only I think we ought to receive very cautiously the proposal to provide more money. Looking to the considerable sum already voted under this head, we ought to hesitate a good deal before we assume further charges on behalf of officers of the Volunteer Force, unless it were found absolutely necessary. It is to be borne in mind that the State furnishes assistance to Volunteer officers in the way of learning their work, and whatever is done the officers must be called upon to contribute something out of their own pockets to maintain themselves in the position of officers of their corps. With regard to the fitness of the Volunteers for taking a prominent part in the defence of the country, I hope very shortly now to lay on the Table a scheme for the re-organisation of garrison artillery, under which it will be found that provision is made for the fullest employment of Militia Artillery and Volunteer Artillery, and that they will have a definite place assigned to them in the defence of the country. I believe that the work will be well done, and we shall be able to give to the Volunteers that part in the defence of the country which we all know the Volunteers want to take and can take very well. With regard to the suggestion that commissions in the Army should be given to Volunteer officers, it is one which is well worthy of consideration; but the Volunteer Force differs in some respects from the Militia, in which this is done, and I am not sure that I can entertain a proposal for increasing too much the means of entering the Army.
§ (11.23.) MR. MORTON
I do not object to these Army Votes, and am quite willing that this money should be voted, but I think at the same time it is right that more money should be spent upon our Volunteers. The cost of the Volunteers is stated to be £214,000 per annum, as against £16,000,000, which is the cost of our Army. I think that at least £5,000,000 of the latter sum is wasted, and that it would be much better if some portion of that money were spent upon the Volunteers, as being by far the cheaper force. It is generally understood, both inside and outside this House, that there is some sort of influence at work—some parsons think it is on the part of the Commander-in-Chief, while others attribute it to the War Department; but how much is to be attached to either I do not know—against the Volunteer Force. We know that there are many people in this country who object to the Volunteer Force because it is not the kind of Force they like. Those are the sort of people who would wish to establish an Army such as those we see on the Continent, where the men are compelled to serve; and it is possible there is something of this sort in the mind of the Commander-in-Chief and the heads of the War Department. At any rate, it is evident they do not like the Volunteer Force, and probably the reason is because it is not completely under their control, like the Regular Army. I think that if we are to have an Auxiliary Force at all that Force ought to be properly paid. I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War to suggest that the people of the rich towns ought to subscribe to the expense of the Volunteer Force. Now, Sir, I think that is a ridiculous view to take. Suppose I were to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman himself should do his work without salary. Would he think that that was a proper proposal? I should not think so myself. I do not find that anyone in the country objects to a proper Vote for the support of the Volunteers, and it seems to me absurd to expect that the better-off class of people in the towns should put their hands into their pockets for the purpose of maintaining a military force. While the country allows the Volunteer Force to exist it is its duty to see that 1521 it is put to no expense. If the Volunteer Force were better supported we might in time be enabled to get rid of the more expensive portion of our Army. I do not wish to say a word against our soldiers. It is the non-effective portion of the Army which is overpaid. If you reduce that expense you will have sufficient to support the Volunteers. I have only made these remarks because I am anxious to see that Force supported, and I am quite prepared to vote any reasonable sum that may be proposed for the purpose of maintaining the Volunteer Force in an efficient condition.
§ (11.28.) DR. TANNER
I agree with my hon. Friend that the Government ought to take suitable steps to make our Volunteer Force as effective as the Landstürm in Germany. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that if it be intended to increase the efficiency of the Volunteer Force the best course would be to provide that body with suitable officers who have had previous experience in the Regular Army. We have heard precisely the same argument advanced in the case of the Militia. Although we have had a Conservative Government in power for some years, the Militia remains as it was, and in the Volunteers there is a large falling off in officers and men, despite the fact that last year you increased the Capitation Grant. Such a state of things ought not to be allowed to continue. As a matter of fact, the Volunteers are not satisfied. Why is it? Simply owing to the fact that they are not treated as a practical force—as soldiers. I have seen some of the best troops in Europe, and I must say that some of the Volunteer regiments, notably some of the London regiments, are quite equal to many of those troops. You have a fine body of men in the Volunteers, why not try to do something practical with them? Instead of indulging in high falutin, why do not hon. Members opposite favour us with some practical suggestions? In respect of one matter, I feel it my duty to move a reduction of the Vote. It is a matter in which I feel an injustice is done my country. The Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant tells us that Ireland was never more peaceable, and that the Irish people are only too fond 1522 of the system he has inaugurated. If all the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman are justifiable, why not allow us to have a Volunteer Force? It is a standing injustice——
§ DR. TANNER
I recollect that just after I entered the House in 1885 a Debate took place on this Vote in respect of the absence of a Volunteer force in Ireland. I do not intend to detain the Committee long, but I desire to give my reasons for moving a reduction of the Vote. I am not opposed to the Volunteer movement; on the contrary, I would do everything I could to ensure its success. But the Irish are treated in this matter as if they are inferior people. In view of the statements which have been made by Members of Her Majesty's Government, I call upon the Government to extend the Volunteer system to Ireland. I feel perfectly certain that in Ireland there could be established and maintained a Volunteer Force without any application being made to the public for subscriptions. In former days we had Volunteers, and Ireland was very properly proud of them, and Great Britain had every reason to be proud of them, too. I beg to move a reduction of the Vote by £1,000 in order to give the Government an opportunity of informing us why the Irish people are not permitted to raise a Volunteer Force.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £760,000, be granted for the said Service."—(Dr. Tanner.)
§ *(11.36.) MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)
I rise to support the suggestion that service for a certain period in the Volunteers should qualify for commissions in the Army, in the same way as service in the Militia. I am sure the change would be much appreciated, and would tend to raise the prestige of the Volunteer Force. The Volunteer Force is essentially a middle-class institution, whereas the Militia is very largely officered by the younger sons of the aristocracy and squirearchy, and, therefore, is a some- 1523 what aristocratic force. I think the same facilities should be afforded to the middle-class to obtain commissions in the Army through the instrumentality of the Volunteer Force as are afforded to the aristocracy to obtain Army commissions through the instrumentality of the Militia. I understand the right hon. Gentleman has promised to give the suggestion his careful consideration. I assure him that no attraction he can offer to suitable young men to become officers in the Volunteers can be greater than that of putting the Volunteer Force on the same footing in this matter as the Militia.
(11.40.) MR. LLOYD-GEORGE&c.) (Carnarvon,
I should like the Secretary of State for War to state the reason why sanction was refused last year to the formation of a Volunteer corps at Festiniog, Merionethshire? Merionethshire is a splendid recruiting ground, and there is a great feeling in favour of the formation of a Volunteer corps there. I shall certainly support the Amendment of my hon. Friend unless I get some satisfactory answer from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
It was thought that in the event of the mobilisation of the Volunteers it would be difficult to assign a convenient place to a Merionethshire corps. The authorities thought it best to increase the corps in neighbouring districts. Further consideration is, however, being given to the matter.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
There is a corps at Port Madoc, ten miles from Festiniog, and the facilities of access are much greater in the case of Festiniog than in that of Port Madoc. Festiniog itself would be a splendid recruiting ground.
§ (11.43.) MR. MORTON
The hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) can hardly expect us to reduce the money to be given to the English and Scotch Volunteers because he does not think we have done justice to Ireland. I do not know that Wales is much better than Ireland, for we know that the people will not pay their tithe to what they call a foreign and alien Church. But I would like the Secretary of State 1524 to give us some information as to the malign and bad influence which is said to be at work in regard to the Volunteer Force. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be frank in the matter, and tell us whether there really is some bad influence at work—whether it springs from the Commander-in-Chief or someone else in the War Office.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
There is no bad and malign work at work at all. I have not found anybody at the War Office who is at all opposed to the Volunteers. It is possible that in the early days of the existence of the Force there may have existed in the minds of some people some jealousy of the Volunteers, but if there was that jealousy it has long passed away. Certainly I never found anything at the War Office, except a desire to try and promote the interests of the Force. The Commander-in-Chief always speaks in the highest terms of praise of the Volunteers, and always endeavours to do the best he can for the Force. If there is any malign influence at work it does not come near me, and I do not think it exits.
§ (11.46.) MR. DILLWYN (Swansea, Town)
I have been connected with the Volunteer Force ever since its formation, and I have been in constant communication with the War Office in regard to Volunteer affairs. I certainly have never noticed any disposition at the War Office to thwart the Force; but, on the other hand, I have always found the greatest readiness to meet me whenever it has been possible on their part. I think it is due to say this of an Office from which I have received the greatest courtesy.
§ DR. TANNER
I do not wish to persevere with my Amendment, but I should like some expression of opinion from the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the point I raised. If Ireland is such a garden of roses as the Chief Secretary would have us believe it is, cannot the same facilities be afforded for the formation of Volunteer Corps as are afforded in England, Scotland, and Wales?
§ (11.48.) MR. E. STANHOPE
I assure the hon. Gentleman it was not from any want of courtesy I did not reply to him. Up to the present time I have not received any representation from the Chief 1525 Secretary on the subject to which the hon. Gentleman refers. If I do I shall be glad to consider it with my colleagues, and I have no doubt it will be dealt with in a manner satisfactory to the House generally.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £631,700, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Transport and Remounts, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1892.
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Lloyd-George,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.