§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I rise in pursuance of the notice I have given, to move for the production of certain papers, which, if granted by Her Majesty's Government, will show what changes, if any, have been made in the arrangements of the department of the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, and in the transaction of business connected with the Army, in consequence of the war in which the country is now involved. In pursuance of the intention I declared when I gave notice of this Motion, I shall, in making it, take the liberty of laying before your Lordships the reasons that induce me to believe that changes much greater than any which seem to be at present contemplated, are urgently required.
My Lords, I have no doubt that your Lordships are aware that so long ago as the year 1831 or 1832, a Commission was appointed by the Crown to inquire into the existing arrangements for the administration of military affairs.
That Commission, which was presided over by a noble Friend of mine not now present (the Duke of Richmond), had made some progress in its labours, but had not completed them when it was dissolved in consequence of changes in the Government.
Under the Administration of Lord Melbourne the inquiry which had been thus interrupted was resumed by a new Commission, composed of five Members of Lord Melbourne's Cabinet, including Lord John Russell and Lord Palmerston), and of my noble Friend Lord Stafford. In consequence of my holding at that time the office of Secretary at War, I had the honour of being named Chairman of this Commission, which, after a long and careful inquiry, unanimously agreed to a Re- 607 port, expressing a strong opinion of the necessity of an extensive change in the constitution of the public departments to which the management of the Army is entrusted. This Report was presented to Parliament in 1837, but notwithstanding its recommendations, from that time to this nothing has been done on the subject by successive Governments. I do not mean to blame them for having failed to do what was recommended, because there were obstacles to any effective reform, which hitherto it would have been difficult to surmount. It was contemplated, shortly after the date of that Report, to bring forward a measure carrying into effect most of its recommendations; but it was found that great resistance would be made to the proposed measure, and, at the same time, there was no reason to believe that it would receive adequate support from public opinion, which was not alive to the necessity of the intended reform. Hence the plan which was in agitation was naturally dropped; for, I believe that measures of improvement to which powerful interests are opposed, never can be pushed forward by any Administration till they are supported, or, indeed, almost stimulated into doing so, by public opinion. I think that it is rather the business of the Government in this country to follow than to lead public opinion in these matters, and that what is required is, that the public should understand the evil in order that they may call for the remedy. My Lords, it is with this view and with no wish to embarrass the Government that I now bring this question forward. I am persuaded that if the magnitude of the evil I am about to bring before your Lordships were once thoroughly understood by the public; if it were understood how the practical management of affairs in the army is year after year injured and impeded by the existing arrangements—I say, if this were once thoroughly comprehended, I have no doubt that, whatever might be the Government at the moment in power, that Government would be compelled to undertake, and would be able to effect every necessary reform. I must add, that the urgency of the question, when the country is entering upon an arduous war, is my reason for now bringing it forward.
I do not doubt that your Lordships are acquainted with the general character of the existing arrangements for the administration of military affairs; but at the same time it is perhaps desirable that I should 608 make a very short statement of what these arrangements are. My Lords, these important duties are divided amongst a great number of entirely independent departments. The Commander in Chief has the command of the troops—except of the Artillery and Engineers, which are not directly under his orders—but he has no authority whatever to adopt measures involving any increase of expense without the consent of other Departments of the Government. On the other hand, it is the duty of the Secretary at War to submit to Parliament the estimates for the Army, and to see that the money voted is duly applied to the intended objects. He is always expected to answer in Parliament all complaints which are made as to the misapplication of that money or the mismanagement of the service for which it was intended to provide. But, while he has this duty, he has no right, officially and properly, to interfere in the slightest degree in any one of the measures of the Commander in Chief, even those which most materially in their consequences affect the expenditure of the Army, unless they involve some immediate outlay. No money is required for carrying into effect the measures of the Commander in Chief. The Secretary at War, according to the theory of the service, has no right to interfere. Then, again, the Master General of the Ordnance has personally the command of the Artillery and Engineers. Without the assistance of any board, he performs, with respect to those two corps, the duties which, with regard to the rest of the Army, appertain to the Commander in Chief. In conjunction with the Board of Ordnance, the Master General has a very great variety of duties to perform, connected not only with the Ordnance and Engineer corps, but also with the general management of the Army: because, when I said the Secretary at War submitted to Parliament the estimates to provide for the expenditure of the Army, I ought to have said that it is only a small part of the expenditure of the Army that is so provided for; all that relates to the barracks, the arms, the provisions, and to the stores that are required, all these great departments do not come under the cognisance of the Secretary at War. The Master General and the Board of Ordnance have to attend to the barracks, the fortifications, and some of the arms; but nothing can be more capricious than the rule; for instance, the Board of Ordnance provides the cavalry 609 with carbines, not with swords. [A NOBLE LORD here made a remark.] Yes:—The noble Lord is quite right: I remember it is only the sergeants' swords of the infantry that the Board of Ordnance do not supply. Then again, the Ordnance provides part of the clothing of the troops, but only part of the clothing; it provides the great-coats, whilst trousers and coatees are supplied by the colonels of the regiments. Lastly, the Board of Treasury, in addition to having a general control over all matters relating to expenditure, keeps directly in its own hands all that relates to that important branch of military arrangements which consists in providing the troops with provisions, at least on foreign stations. The Ordnance have the duty of supplying provisions for the troops in this country. I believe, at any rate until lately, it was so. Now, all these various and independent authorities are, according to the theory of the army arrangements, kept in their places, and their mutual co-operation and concert are secured, by the paramount authority of the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. All these offices, with one exception, are subordinate to the Secretary of State; but with regard to the supply of provisions to the troops he has no authority. The Board of Treasury are not under the orders of the Secretary of State, and all he can do is to signify recommendations without express directions. This is the theory of the arrangement, that all these independent authorities are made to act harmoniously together by the paramount authority of the Secretary of State. To a certain extent, perhaps, the practice formerly corresponded with the theory; but for nearly fifty years that theory has been, in a great measure, practically set aside. In the present state of affairs it is physically impossible that a Minister who is charged with the superintendence of all the complicated arrangements and all the details of our various colonial possessions can give a due superintendence to the affairs of the Army. Now, my Lords, I think this very slight sketch of the existing arrangements is quite sufficient to prove that it is absolutely impossible to expect that there can, under such a system, be that unity of purpose and vigour of management which, in the conduct of military affairs, is absolutely necessary and indispensable; and I will take the liberty of reading to your Lordships what was the opinion expressed by the Commissioners in 1837, in a report which was unanimously 610 agreed to and signed by them all. They say:—Various duties, which all have reference to one common object, and in the discharge of which it is highly important that there should exist the most complete unity of purpose, are entrusted to authorities, not merely separate and distinct front each other, but mutually independent, and only connected together by their common subordination to the supreme authority of the Government. Under this system, however anxious those who conduct the several departments may be to keep up a good intelligence with each other, we believe it to be impossible that a want of due concert and vigour in their various measures should fail to exist; and accordingly we are much deceived if the practical results of the absence of a more concentrated authority are not to be traced in conflicts of opinion, diversities of system, and delays exceedingly injurious to the public service.Such was the opinion expressed by the Commissioners; and your Lordships will observe that in the passage I have read (though, for obvious reasons, they did not enter into details), they have pretty clearly intimated their opinion that the views they attribute to our system of military administration have been seriously felt in practice. I am afraid it will be my duty to do what the Commissioners have omitted, and to point out to you some of the evils to which they only alluded, because this subject cannot be understood by your Lordships unless you are able to trace by practical examples the mismanagement which has arisen in the affairs of the army from the system which I have described. My Lords, I know it is an ungracious and repulsive task—a task I would gladly have declined, if I did not conceive it my duty to undertake it—to point out the errors committed during a long series of years by the Governments of this country; but unless I did so you could not feel the urgency of the necessity for a change. In bringing this mismanagement before you, I can assure you I am only embarrassed by the overabundance of my materials. I shall select very few out of a whole host of examples I might bring forward, and I shall impartially select these from certain cases which have occurred under all the various Administrations except the two last, of which I do not pretend to know so much. I shall take them, I say, from various Administrations, not excluding those with which I have myself been connected; and in bringing forward these cases of mismanagement, I must further, at the outset, beg to be understood as meaning to throw no blame on individuals. It is not individuals, but the system, that I condemn; and I am 611 persuaded that under the system now existing the most able and the most conscientious public servants would fail to prevent those errors and those cases of mismanagement which it is my business to detail to your Lordships. I must add, that I am convinced that those to whom the management of the military departments had been entrusted, have generally been men of great merit; but this very circumstance—that, in spite of your having such able public servants employed, these errors have existed, is what, in my judgment, most tends to make this matter assume so serious a character.
My Lords, in trying to compress as far as possible what I have got to say, I have, of course, selected those very few examples of mismanagement which I propose to bring forward from what appears to me the most striking cases. Now, it seems to me that if there is one subject more than another of paramount importance in military administration during peace, it is that there should be the greatest attention to all that relates to the health and lives of the troops. Independently of considerations of humanity, independently of the gratitude we owe the brave men who risk their lives for our country—independently of those higher considerations, if we take it merely as a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, the life and health of the soldier are of the highest possible importance. No soldier dies, or is invalided, in the army, especially on foreign stations, without imposing very considerable expense on the country. The House will see, without my insisting further upon it, the extreme importance of this subject, and your Lordships will allow me to show you how it has been attended to. When I had the honour of holding office as Secretary at War, I caused a careful examination to be made of the reports and statistics of the medical department of the army. Two most able and meritorious officers—Colonel Tullock and Dr. Marshall—were employed to conduct this inquiry. They did so with extreme ability and diligence, and the results of their investigations were ultimately laid before Parliament. Those results were of the most frightful description—so frightful indeed that it has always been to me a matter of surprise that while the attention of Parliament can easily be attracted to what appears to me such minor matters, the shocking details contained in these reports should have obtained so little of the 612 notice and attention of the Legislature. I will not detain your Lordships with many instances, but I am anxious to call your attention to the facts ascertained by the gentlemen to whom I have alluded with reference to the Jamaica and the West India Islands. On inquiring into what had been the mortality in these commands since the termination of the war, they found the following frightful results:—In Jamaica one-seventh of the whole force was cut off annually by disease, in addition to those who were invalided. That was the first result obtained. Taking the whole mortality of the twenty years ending in 1837, it appears that during that time there perished of the British force in Jamaica 6,700 men—6,700 English white soldiers—for the return did not include the coloured troops—had fallen victims to the climate of Jamaica. The average force of white troops in that island for the twenty years, from 1817 to 1837 inclusive, was 2,578; the average number of deaths annually was 350, or 130 in every thousand. Now, my Lords, it may give you some idea of what the extent of the mortality in that island really was if I compare it with the loss which was occasioned by the battle of Waterloo, the greatest battle of modern times. The loss occurring among those regiments which stood the whole brunt of the engagement, and excluding the others, some of which were only slightly engaged, and others not at all, was 100 men per 1,000; and that number included, not only those who were killed on the field, but who died subsequently of their wounds; so that it would appear that one single year's service in Jamaica was more deadly—that there was nearly one-third greater risk of loss of life to the soldier who took a year's service in Jamaica than there was of loss of life to the soldier who actually took a share in the terrible Battle of Waterloo. My Lords, I may be told that this is the inevitable result of the climate. If it were so, it would be a frightful thing; but I say it is not the inevitable result of the climate; for, after the investigation to which I have alluded had been made, various measures were immediately set on foot to counteract the frightful evils that were ascertained to exist; and in a very few years—if not immediately within the next four years—that mortality was reduced from 130 to 93 in the thousand—a saving of nearly one-third in the average annual number of the 613 troops. But the improvement did not stop there; for within the last ten years, instead of the deaths being 130 in the thousand, the average number has been only thirty-four. Now, what do these facts show? Why, that if the same precautions, which experience has proved are perfectly practicable and perfectly easy, had been adopted during the twenty years immediately succeeding the peace, instead of losing 6,700 British soldiers, we should have lost only 1,753, if the mortality had been in the same ratio as it has been in the average of the last ten years; that is to say, you would have saved the lives of 4,947 soldiers in twenty years; so that the lives of nearly 5,000 British soldiers have been thrown away through the neglect of taking proper and practicable precautions in the island of Jamaica during the twenty years succeeding the peace; and, in fact, they have been as much sacrificed through want of management as if they had been drawn out in front of their barracks, and shot upon the spot. My Lords, you may say this is not a very agreeable subject, and I will not trouble you with many details. The West India command was not so bad as the Jamaica; but even in the West India command the mortality among the troops has been, by the use of the most ordinary precautions, reduced from eighty-five to forty-five in the thousand. Nearly one half of the lives that used to be sacrificed were sacrificed through neglect; and I have no hesitation in saying that it is my firm conviction that the remaining mortality of forty-five in the thousand is a larger mortality than ought to take place if the various branches of the military service were managed upon a sound system, and treated with that care and intelligence that they ought to be. I have said this mortality might have been prevented by the most ordinary precautions, and it is necessary that I should prove to your Lordships the accuracy of what I state. We all know that one of the chief causes which leads to the prevalance of disease among large bodies of men is the want of good diet; and when the investigations were commenced into the state of the health of the troops in the year 1835, what, do your Lordships think, was discovered? Why, I find that, for a long series of years, medical officer after medical officer had reported that it was most injurious to the health of the troops to feed them upon salt provisions—every medical officer that went to the 614 West Indies had been giving this description of evidence—and what yet was done? Absolutely nothing; and at that moment your soldiers were every week receiving salt provisions for five days, and it was only on the two remaining days that they were allowed fresh meat. Now, my Lords, does it require a medical man to know that in a tropical climate like that of Jamaica it could not be healthy to give this vast quantity of salt provisions to men? Is not the fact perfectly palpable and obvious to the very meanest capacity? It is no part of the duty of the Secretary of War to interfere in anything relating to the victualling of the troops; yet when the existence of such facts came to my knowledge, when I found that such a frightful mortality was going on, and that the medical officers had repeatedly reported that so much salt food had the most injurious effect upon the health of the troops as actually to produce what I looked upon as a public calamity, I at once, without considering whether it was my business to interfere or not, commenced a correspondence with the Treasury upon the subject. That correspondence was laid before the House of Commons, I having moved for it myself in the year 1840; and it would be worth the while of any of your Lordships to look at the paper itself, which affords a most instructive example of the effects of the present system of transacting business. The correspondence was far too voluminous to admit of my attempting to give even a summary of it, and it will be sufficient for my purpose to call your attention to the dates of some of the most important letters. My first letter to the Treasury, pointing out the great evils I have described, and recommending a change in the rations issued to the troops, was dated the 30th of January, 1836. There were references and re-references, first to one party and then to another, until at last I almost despaired of seeing anything accomplished at all. But, following up my official correspondence from day to day, and almost from hour to hour, and, not content with my official correspondence, writing private letter after private letter, until, I believe, if your Lordships were to look, you would see a mountain of letters in my handwriting upon the subject, I received the final answer from the Treasury in a letter dated the 28th of January, 1837, which informed me that orders would be given—of course there would be some further delay before they could be 615 carried into effect—to the Commissariat Department to remedy the evil. There was, therefore, a whole year, with the exception of two days only, consumed in considering whether the troops in the tropical climate of Jamaica and the West Indies, who were shown to be suffering dreadfully in consequence of the salt diet they were subjected to, should continue to receive five days' salt provisions weekly, in spite of the unanimous opinion of the medical officers, who had been employed on the station for a long series of years, as to its injurious effect upon the health of the men. I think, my Lords, you will admit that that is a pretty strong case, but it does not stop there. My letter to the Treasury recommended reforms in this respect generally in all tropical climates; but when the final answer came, after all the references and re-references and consultations of every possible description, it said that I had made out my case with regard to Jamaica and the West Indies, and that their Lordships would direct that fresh provisions should be given every day in Jamaica and five days in the week in the West Indies, but that before they granted it elsewhere they would institute further inquiries. Well, my Lords, I was compelled to leave the case at that time in the hands of the Treasury; but of course I never doubted that further inquiry would be made, and that the matter would be properly followed up. But what happened? It came out incidentally—for the War Office has not necessarily any information on these subjects—it came out incidentally, at the beginning of the year 1838, that five days' salt provisions in the week were still being supplied to the troops stationed in a place where the climate is of the same character as that of the West Indies, although, technically speaking, it is within the North American command—I mean the island of Bermuda. Now, Bermuda certainly is not within the tropics, but it is a climate which partakes very much of a tropical character, and in which the health of the troops requires very great attention. As soon, therefore, as I became aware of the fact that the practice of supplying the troops with five days' salt provisions in the week was continued in that island, I wrote to the Treasury upon the subject. My letter was dated in May, 1838; and on the 6th of September an answer was returned, to the effect that their Lordships had heard no complaint upon the subject. Upon that 616 I caused a very elaborate investigation to be instituted into the reports of the medical officers, with a view of ascertaining how the matter actually stood, and whether it was necessary or not to make that improvement, which I confess it seemed to me that common sense required. When that investigation was concluded, a rejoinder was sent to the Treasury, which not only pointed out and proved the prejudicial effect which the practice of supplying salt provisions to the extent to which it had been persevered in had had upon the troops, but which showed that the convicts also stationed at Bermuda, who had fresh meat five days in the week, were enjoying excellent health. We were actually giving to these convicts at Bermuda five days' fresh provisions in the week, while our soldiers, quartered in the same island at the same time, who were unstained by crime, were condemned to salt provisions for five days out of every seven, and were thus less cared for than the convicts they were appointed to guard. And this had been going on for years, and although complaint after complaint had been made by the medical officers of the Army, they had never been attended with any satisfactory result. Well, the rejoinder containing these facts was sent in in November, 1838; and upon that there ensued a very long correspondence, and your Lordships probably will hardly believe that that correspondence was only brought to a close, and that orders for this most necessary improvement were only issued on the 21st October, 1840—just two years after the subject was first broached. Now, my Lords, there is another remarkable fact connected with the subject which I may notice; and it is this—that when this reform was introduced, which was attended with all the benefit, and more than all the benefit, which had been anticipated to the health of the troops, it was found to possess also this other advantage, that after some little time, when the contractors were able to arrange for the supply of fresh meat, it was found that there was actually some slight saving of expense to the Commissariat Department—that the substitution of fresh meat for salt provisions was, in fact, a cheaper arrangement, so that there was actually a saving to the nation by giving our troops wholesome instead of unwholesome food.
My Lords, you may perhaps think that while this service is entrusted to the Treasury Department, though there may have 617 been mistakes as regards the health of the troops, the business must at all events have been conducted with great regard to economy. I am sorry to say that that has not been the case, as I shall be able to show to your Lordships. For a short time the plan was adopted of having the supply of provisions to the troops on foreign stations voted by Parliament as part of the Army Estimates. After a short time that plan was discontinued—for what reason I know not; but while it was in operation, and when I was Secretary at War, the attention of one of the officers of the department was called to the extraordinary fact, that more than one half of the cost of the bread supplied to the troops stationed at Gibraltar would have been saved if the flour for the manufacture of that bread had been got at Malta. The actual cost of the bread in that year was 7,800l.; the saving, if the flour had been procured at Malta, after paying the freight from that place to Gibraltar, would have been 3,500l. Well, my Lords, that led to an investigation, and the result was so very curious, that your Lordships would hardly believe what turned out to be the manner in which the flour consumed by our troops at Gibraltar had been procured. That flour was got from America; and in tracing the matter out these extraordinary circumstances were brought to light:—In that year, owing to a bad harvest, corn and flour in America were very dear. At the same time, your Lordships will recollect that we had had two or three good harvests in this country, and that under the law which then existed there was a large accumulation of foreign corn in the bonded warehouses in this country. In that year there was a large quantity of Black Sea corn removed from the bonded warehouses in this country and exported to America; and it turned out that the flour supplied to the troops at Gibraltar had been manufactured from this identical Black Sea corn. It had passed by Gibraltar in the first instance—had been brought to this country and lodged in the bonded warehouses here—had twice crossed the Atlantic—and, at last, had been brought back to Gibraltar, for the purpose of supplying the troops stationed at that place. My Lords, that is a very curious fact; but the explanation of it is this:—Some years before, when New York was the cheapest market from which flour could be gut for Gibraltar, an order had been issued by the Treasury that the supplies required should 618 be procured from that place; but circumstances changed—the prices in the different markets altogether altered. But although the Admiralty altered their arrangements, and supplied the Navy with flour got upon the spot, with respect to the troops the old beaten track was followed, and when it became twice as expensive to procure flour from America as to purchase it at Malta, it continued to be procured from America, as if this change of circumstances had never taken place. Well, my Lords, I say is not this the natural result of the present system? Any man who knows the enormous extent of the business of the Treasury, and the manner in which it presses on the higher officers of that department, must know that it is utterly impossible that those higher officers can give any attention to the details of the Commissariat management. I do not blame them for it. On the contrary, I know that the business of that department could not go on with any degree of satisfaction if they were to give their attention to details; for, if they did, they must necessarily neglect the higher and more important duties they have to perform in relation to the country. The consequence is that the arrangement of those details falls into the hands of a class of persons well meaning, excellent, and conscientious, as I entirely admit them to be, but, like all persons in public departments, apt to fall into routine habits, if there be not a constant superintendence over their conduct from above. It is not in human nature—it cannot be expected, that the subordinate Members of a great public department, if they are not watched over and superintended by the superiors of that department, will give that constant and active attention which is essential to a really good administration. My Lords, I might go much further with reference to this subject of rations; but I think I have mentioned enough, and I will only add that I believe during the whole time the Emperor Napoleon was at St. Helena, although we had a considerable garrison there, not a single day's fresh provisions was issued to the troops of which that garrison were composed, except on Christmas-day and upon one or two festivals, and that in consequence of this state of things a high rate of mortality prevailed among the men, while not a single officer died a natural death, the only death of an officer having been that of one who was accidentally drowned. But I have said enough upon this subject, and 619 I will proceed to the question of quarters, a question as regards the health of our troops, not less important than that of food.
My Lords, will your Lordships believe that while this terrible mortality of which I have spoken was going on in Jamaica and in the West Indies, we were allowing to our troops just eighteen inches of space per man for sleeping room; and the soldiers were so crowded in their barracks that there was no room for them in beds, and it was necessary to place them in hammockssuch—was the mismanagement with respect to quarters at that time. After a time, there was an improvement in respect to the space allowed to each soldier, but in other respects, I regret to say, that the lodging of the troops continued to be most unsatisfactorily provided for. Of this it is right that I should give some examples; and I will, in the first place, bring before your Lordships certain facts with respect to the principal barracks in the Island of Trinidad—one of the colonies which has suffered very particularly from the system, the evils of which I am now endeavouring to point out. The Orange-grove Barracks in Trinidad were reported by the medical officers in the year 1822, to be in so bad a condition, that it was ordered that no expense of any magnitude should be incurred in their repair; and in 1823, other medical officers, Drs. Lamont and Blair, reported of the same barracks, that the mortality in them was great, because the men were obliged to reside in barrack-rooms constantly wet, owing to the rain coming in. "If slaves in this island," it was said, "were so badly lodged, the protector of slaves would consider it his duty to prosecute the proprietor of the estate to which they belonged." What do you think, my Lords, of keeping British soldiers barracks so bad that a slave-owner would be liable to prosecution if he kept his slaves in such ruinous places? This was in the year 1823. In the year 1824 there was some slight improvement; but it was certainly not effectual, because in 1825, Dr. Hacket, another medical officer, in his report, called attention to the evils which existed at that time. He says—Never was I so astonished or amazed, in truth, so perfectly astounded, as in beholding what is called a barrack or an hospital, such as this country presents.In 1827 there was a still stronger report 620 from Dr. Hartle, Deputy inspector General of Hospitals, who said—These Orange-grove barracks are disgraceful.In 1832 Surgeon Savery reports:—All the barracks occupied by the corps as barracks are old, but are kept air and water tight, except the barrack at Orange-grove, which has been allowed to go unrepaired for some time, and is now in a most disgraceful state.In 1833 the same officer reports—The barracks at Orange-grove were suffered to remain in the most shameful state for some time, until by frequent representations of their insalubrity, they were repaired in July and August last.That is, my Lords, those barracks having been condemned as unfit to be inhabited by the troops, the only result of that condemnation was, that the Government ceased to repair them, and for eleven years kept the British soldiers, year after year, in a place of which the medical officers had reported that the mortality there was great, because the barracks were so wet that the men could not be kept dry in their beds. Perhaps I may be told that the cause of the evils I have now described is not mismanagement, but the reluctance of Parliament to vote the money required for the proper accommodation of the troops. This I cannot admit—having sat for nearly twenty years in the House of Commons, I can remember no instance in which a Vote shown to be required for the comfort of the troops was rejected, and I find that it has sometimes happened that, even after money has been voted for objects of great urgency for the health of the troops, its application to those objects has been delayed. For instance, in the island of St. Vincent, the military hospital was utterly inadequate for the requirements of the troops. An estimate for building a new hospital was laid before Parliament; the money was voted, but the new hospital was not finished for nine years after the erection had been sanctioned, and for a long time after the foundations of it had been laid, it was allowed to remain without any progress being made with the work, while the troops were suffering most severely from the want of it. Even then the accommodation it was intended to afford was greatly inadequate. In the same manner, at Antigua, while there were the greatest complaints of the inadequacy of the hospital accommodation, obvious and easy means of meeting the difficulty without incurring any serious expense were neglect- 621 ed. The medical officer, in reporting the distressing consequences which must result from the want of accommodation if sickness should break out, adds:—The abolition of the general detachment hospital, formerly at English Harbour, is much to be regretted. During the last few days those useful buildings, consisting of two large pavilions, extensive offices, staff-surgeon's house, and attached building, were sold in lots by a positive order of the Board of Ordnance. I understand the total amount arising from the sale was but 300l., although above 5,000l. was the sum originally expended.But, my Lords, I have some other facts which illustrate the working of this system. In the year 1825, between 700 and 800 European soldiers were sent to Sierra Leone. Five years before, it had been reported that there were no barracks there fit for the reception of European troops; yet these men arrived before the new barracks intended to receive them were prepared, and had consequently to await their completion, exposed to all the inclemency of that dreadful climate. My Lords, the result is thus described in the report which was made upon the subject:—The scene which ensued baffles all description. The unfortunate men gladly crowded into the rooms as fast as they could be covered in, though the plaster was still wet. Fever of the very worst type was soon generated in such a situation, and before many days had elapsed almost every one was attacked by it. The officers sought refuge in huts, which even the natives had abandoned; the sick, the dead, and the dying were crowded together, and before the end of that year two-thirds of the force were in their graves.My Lords, that is not all. In order to relieve the great pressure at Sierra Leone, 200 of these unhappy men, for whom no accommodation could be found, were sent to the Gambia. But even at the Gambia accommodation could only be provided for 108 out of the 200, and the rest were kept afloat until room could be found for them. My Lords, they had not long to wait, for in the course of three months eighty-seven, out of the 108 first landed, died, and their places in the barracks were supplied by those who had been kept on board ship. In the course of three months more seventy-three other deaths occurred; so that within six months, 160 soldiers out of this 200, who had been sent from Sierra Leone to Gambia, perished for want of accommodation. The garrison at Sierra Leone being still over-crowded, 200 more men were sent to the Gambia, and before they could be withdrawn, ninety-nine of their number perished. The troops at Sierra Leone 622 afterwards became more healthy, for which the following reason is assigned by the principal medical officer in his report for 1827:—I am inclined to attribute much of the exemption of the troops from sickness to their being better quartered and less crowded in their barracks than formerly. In saying they are better quartered, I mean that the barracks are now seasoned and are become from age a more fit place of residence.[The noble Earl here referred to the mortality which had occurred among the troops, native and English, stationed at Hong Kong]. My Lords, I assure you these are not isolated cases. They are examples, and examples only, of the results of a general system. I do not blame, as I have said before, those who have had the management of the particular departments—on the contrary, I am convinced that if a good selection of persons to manage these departments could have prevented the evil, the evil would not have occured. My Lords, from 1819 to 1827 the Master-General of the Ordnance was the Duke of Wellington, and the Clerk of the Ordnance was the noble Viscount (Viscount Hardinge) who sits on the bench near me. It was during that very time that the troops were kept in the barracks at Trinidad which had been condemned, and had not been repaired. It was during the time that the Duke of Wellington was Master-General of the Ordnance, and my noble and gallant Friend, if he will allow me so to call him, was Clerk of the Ordnance, that between 700 and 800 soldiers were sent out to Sierra Leone, where there were no barracks to receive them. This my Lords, was but the natural consequence of a system which separates the authority which directs where the troops are to go from the authority whose duty it is to see that they are properly lodged when they arrive at their destination. If the Duke of Wellington had had both departments under his control, and had been responsible not only for sending out the troops, but for providing proper barrack accommodation in the places to which they were sent, does any man for a moment believe these horrors would have occurred? My Lords, from the year 1828 to the year 1830 the same things were going on. In Trinidad, and at various other places, condemned barracks were being occupied under a vague notion of repairs which were never executed, and were ultimately abandoned. Let us, see, then, how the various departments were occupied at that time. The Duke of Wellington was first Lord of the 623 Treasury; Lord Beresford, who had given the highest proof of administrative as well as professional ability, was Master General of the Ordnance; Sir George Murray was Secretary for War and the Colonies; the noble Viscount near me (Viscount Hardinge) was Secretary at War; and Colonel Stuart, a most distinguished military officer, was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and was the person who had charge, in that capacity, of all these matters, so far as the Treasury was concerned. Now, my Lords, it can very seldom happen that all these great offices connected with these several departments can be filled at the same time by men not only of the highest character and ability as civilians, but also as soldiers of European reputation. Yet we see that all this combination of talent and experience, under the existing arrangement of military business, could not prevent the abuses and evils which I have described to your Lordships. All those evils continued unchanged under the Government of the Duke of Wellington as they had done under the preceding Government, and as they afterwards did under the Government which followed—for I claim no exemption for a Government in the reputation of which I take a deep interest—under all these Administrations the troops in the West Indies continued to die at the frightful rate I have described, from improper rations and the want of barrack accommodation.
Now, my Lords, the great importance of the facts I have mentioned is even less in the things themselves, than in the indications they give of the nature of the general system of our military administration. From what I have observed myself, I have not the least doubt that, in all that relates to the clothing and equipment of the troops—to their training and discipline, to the training of the officers, and to the general organisation of the service, especially in respect to the description of arms issued to the troops—I have no doubt myself that in all these matters there has been a great absence of that vigour which there ought to be in the management of an army. But in time of peace these evils of the system do not exhibit themselves very obviously. All you can say at such time is, that there is an absence of improvement; and it is impossible to prove a negative in the same way that you can prove positive mismanagement in those matters which admit of being fairly tested. Now, my Lords, I dare say I shall be met by the argument 624 that my view of the subject cannot be correct, and that the evils I have described cannot be so great, because the British army, after all, has been successful. Noble Lords may point to the glory and the triumphs of the last great war in which we were engaged, and may ask, "Is it possible that an army, mismanaged as you have described, can have gained all this glory, and achieved all these triumphs?" I do not think, if your Lordships look into the matter, that that argument will hold good. On the contrary, I believe that an investigation into the history of the war will tend to make out my case, instead of the reverse. Look at all the early years of the war, and see what a melancholy record it is of misdirected effort. Our soldiers were as brave as they have ever been—blood and treasure were spent in reckless profusion—yet how little were the results that were obtained? My Lords, many books have been published lately which throw much light upon this subject, and in my opinion they establish beyond all doubt the fact that the same things were going on in the war which have been going on since, with unfortunately more disastrous consequences than have resulted from them during peace. I would refer your Lordships to the Diary of Sir Harry Calvert, and still more to that most authentic history of the Peninsular War contained in the Duke of Wellington's own Despatches, and I will undertake to say that no unprejudiced man can read these books without the strongest conviction of the magnitude of the evils arising from the present system of military administration; nothing is more striking in the Duke's Despatches than the evidence they afford of the very great degree to which his difficulties were aggravated by mismanagement at home. My Lords, it is a significant fact which I remember to have seen mentioned, if not in the Despatches, undoubtedly in other works, that from this country, so famous for its manufactures, the swords supplied to our cavalry were of so miserable a description, that they were glad to throw them away and to take the swords of the enemy for their own use, wherever they had an opportunity of doing so. My Lords, I know that in the Peninsular War we triumphed; but we triumphed notwithstanding mismanagement at home, and entirely owing to the efforts of that great man to whom the conduct of the war was entrusted. Few persons at the time these great events were in progress were aware how entirely 625 everything dependeded on the personal energy of the Duke of Wellington, and I know that some very competent judges have declared that it was not until his Despatches were published, and they were thus enabled to understand not only how it had been supported, but how much his efforts had been thwarted by the mismanagement of the Government at home, that they appreciated the real merit and value of his services. I say, therefore, that the late war, so far from contradicting, proves the truth of my case; and I have a paper in my hand which still further supports my argument. My Lords, when I was Secretary at War, and while Lord Melbourne's Government were considering the propriety of taking some steps on the Report of 1837, my lamented Friend, Sir Willoughby Gordon, furnished we with a confidential Report, drawn up by him in the year 1810. I do not accurately remember what had led to his writing this Report, but I believe it had been prepared for the use of the Government of the day, and finding many years after that another administration, of which I was a member, was occupied in considering the subject to which his report related, Sir W. Gordon furnished me with a copy of it. This was only one out of many instances in which I was indebted to the personal kindness of that excellent man; than whom—as I am sure all those who were acquainted with him will testify—there never was a more able or conscientious public servant. During the greater part of the war he held a position of great responsibility at the Horse Guards; he was entirely in the confidence of the Duke of York, he knew all that was going on, and he had the best means of forming a judgment on the subject. Now, my Lords, in the Report which he handed me, after describing the various offices in which there have been some partial, but no essential changes, he proceeds as follows:—Such is the outline of the duties of the several great officers of the State above mentioned in the management of the military affairs of the empire. Each, to a certain extent, is independent of the other; but it is evident that no efficient military measure of any magnitude can be carried into effect without the concurrence and united efforts of all. Hence has arisen that confusion and clashing of office so apparent in all our great operations—that jealousy between the heads of each office—that delay and continual procrastination in our offensive measures—and, above all, that publicity which has ever attended, and must ever attend, our most secret military enterprises as long as the direction of them continues as at 626 present. The Master General, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary at War, the Paymaster General, are all independent of each other. The Secretary of State is paramount of all, and it is only through his office that either of the above four officers can obtain from each other what they may reciprocally require for the despatch of any great military measure. If the foregoing premises are correct—as in substance, if not to the very letter, they will certainly be found to be—it follows as a direct conclusion that these obstructions to the public service can only be removed by the power of all the separate offices being placed under one general and controlling head. The placing of any one of these offices in commission (for instance, that of the Commander in Chief) would not tend to facilitate the public business, or in any manner relieve the difficulties which have been stated, because his office forms but a branch of the administration of military affairs; and, perhaps, by lessening the unity of direction in that single office, isolated from the others, the evil would be rather augmented than diminished. If, however, any advantageous change could be made in the management of this mass of business, the first step towards the attainment of this object would be to place the powers of each of the following officers, namely, the Secretary of State for War, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary at War, the Master General of the Ordnance, and the Paymaster General, into one great office, each officer transacting his own department business like the Ordnance Board, but the whole conferring together and acting under the presiding influence of a Principal Secretary of State. From this arrangement the principal executive offices would undergo little or no change. The business of the undermentioned offices would be exactly the same as at present, namely, the Commander in Chief's Office, the War Office, the Ordnance Office, the Paymaster General, the Adjutant General, the Quartermaster General, the Commissariat, the Medical Board. The whole of the object of this proposition has been to consolidate the business relating exclusively to the military affairs of this country, which is now done by several departments, into one department, where it could best be conducted, with equal power as to skill and information, and with greater accuracy, despatch, and unity of system, and, consequently, at less expense. The principle has only been laid down in the foregoing observations, but if that be well considered, and resolved upon, the details will not be difficult to manage.My Lords, this opinion, written confidentially for the information, I believe, of the Government of that day, in the very height of that great contest in the Peninsula, by one of the officers who had the best means of forming a judgment on the subject, is a document, I think, entitled to the greatest weight. I can, from my own experience, corroborate Sir Willoughby Gordon's opinion as to the difficulty which arises in all military matters from the present arrangement. It is quite true that while I had the honour to hold the office of Secretary at War I had no very great experience of it, for there was 627 nothing like war to any considerable extent. But I was Secretary at War when it became necessary to send large reinforcements to Canada in 1837 and 1838, and I was Secretary of State during the late and the previous Kafir war, when we had to send reinforcements to the Cape; and I can assure your Lordships that on all these occasions, in the one capacity and in the other, I became painfully sensible of the extreme difficulty and inconvenience which result from the present constitution of those departments. Now we are engaged in a far greater war those difficulties will be increased tenfold. Those of your Lordships who have listened to the statement I have made must feel with me that it is utterly impossible for the Secretary of State, charged with the management of our Colonies, to devote his attention to military affairs in such a manner as to keep the different independent departments, which must concur in every arrangement, in such harmonious co-operation with each other as to give vigour and effect to any measures adopted. And, my Lords, I will say this, that if the noble Duke now at the head of the Colonial Department did not open a single colonial despatch—if he were to put aside altogether, or entrust to other persons the whole of the civil business of the office, even then his office does not contain the information, it does not afford him the assistance, which are indispensable in properly conducting this all-important branch of the service. It is essential, in my opinion, that the details of the expenditure of the Army should be managed and should be considered in the same place, under the same roof, and under the same superintendence, as the general measures relating to the employment of the Army. The separation of the authority which has to prepare the estimates and to control the expense of the Army, from that which has to decide what troops are to be employed on any given service, and in what manner any demands for military force which may arise are to be met, must necessarily be attended with great inconvenience. None but those who are conversant with the financial part of the subject can judge how any required service may be performed both with efficiency and economy; for the expense of sending the same amount of force to a given place may often be increased or diminished by the more or less judicious manner in which it is organised, and the circumstances on which the propriety of adopting one management rather than an- 628 other, are often only fully known in the department to which the control of military expenditure is entrusted. In illustration of this, I may mention what occurred upon an occasion to which I have already referred—I mean the Canadian insurrection. When that insurrection broke out, and reinforcements were called for, the arrangement as to the troops to be sent out having been made between the Secretary of State and the Commander in Chief, was communicated to me, who, as Secretary at War, would have to prepare the estimates. I saw at once that it involved a much larger increase in the estimates than was at all necessary; and that by sending out a brigade of Guards instead of regiments of the line, and adding to the strength of the regiments already in Canada, instead of sending out fresh regiments, the required increase of force where it was wanted might be provided for with much less interference with the regular relief of regiments serving abroad than would otherwise have been inevitable. As at that time the pressure of the Colonial service was such, that it was a question whether an augmentation of the army, which was not otherwise wanted, would not be necessary in order to furnish reliefs for the regiments abroad, it is obvious that the alteration in the mode of furnishing the force for Canada, virtually diminished the demand for an increase of the Army. Of course my suggestion was adopted, but not until there had been a great deal of private and official correspondence. Had the business rested in one department, the matter might have been settled in a quarter of an hour by any capable person. In time of war we have not time for this cumbersome and ineffective mode of conducting the public business—promptitude and dispatch are of the first importance in every operation.
I am told that an additional Under Secretary of State has been appointed to assist the Secretary of State; but whilst I have no reason to doubt that a good selection has been made by Her Majesty's Government, I am sure if the best officer in the service were appointed the measure must be altogether inadequate to meet the difficulty. I have no doubt the appointment of this additional Under Secretary of State may mitigate the evil, but I am quite sure that he cannot remove it. It is my strong conviction that the present arrangement ought not to continue—that it is absolutely necessary to adopt some effectual 629 arrangements for improving the organisation of the departments connected with the administration of the Army—and it is for this reason I have brought the subject before your Lordships. I feel, perhaps, more strongly upon it than most persons, because for more than twelve years, as Secretary or Under Secretary of State, or Secretary at War, I have had opportunities of seeing and lamenting the evils I have described. I can only say it is utterly impossible to describe to your Lordships the painful manner in which these things used to weigh upon my mind as Secretary at War. I entertained the conviction then that reforms and improvements were necessary which it was out of my power to carry, but which could have been accomplished with the greatest ease had it not been that the cumbrous organisation of the departments most effectually defeated all attempts to introduce them. Every little step that was attained was attained at the cost of I know not how much correspondence and delay, and the difficulties to be encountered in endeavouring to correct abuses are so irksome that too often the struggle to introduce improvements has been abandoned in despair, and even zealous reformers have been forced to acquiesce in the opinion that it is better to let things alone. Such is the real excuse to be offered for every different Government, which has allowed the old routine to continue. I say it with sincerity, that the officers of these departments are not to blame. It is the system which is to blame; and while that system continues we shall never get rid of the inconveniences which arise from it. That the evil is capable of remedy—that without any serious delay, an effectual re-organisation of these departments is perfectly practicable, I have not the slightest hesitation in asserting. Various plans have been proposed by which it can be done. I believe any one of these would be a vast improvement on the arrangements which now exist. I care comparatively little which of these you adopt; at the same time I am bound to say I have a decided preference for one. I believe, in the administration of the Army, we ought to take as our model (but with some corrections and improvements) the system now in force for the administration of the Navy. I believe all the various business now entrusted to many different and independent departments of the State, should be placed under one Board presided over by a Cabi- 630 net Minister of the same rank as the First Lord of the Admiralty. I know it has been objected that Boards are very ineffective and cumbrous pieces of machinery for the transaction of business. If the whole business of the department is to be transacted by a Board as a Board, and if the opinion of each member is to have equal weight, I quite agree that that objection is sound; but the First Lord of the Admiralty is always considered practically responsible for the whole conduct of the department, and the junior members are regarded as subordinates, whose duty it is, in all ordinary cases, to defer to his opinion; and if at the same time there is a distribution of business among several members of the Board, in such a manner as to obtain the advantages of division of labour and unity of purpose, combined with the superintendence of one head, I believe great advantages arise from that arrangement:—and this among others—that the professional members of the Board of Admiralty, though it is their duty, and though they do most properly defer in all ordinary cases to the opinion of the First Lord, are yet not bound to concur in anything which they consider detrimental to the service to which they belong. Their presence at the Board is a most valuable security to their brother officers that the interests of the profession shall not be neglected; and thus, without interfering with the necessary vigour and unity of purpose in the conduct of the department, which can only be obtained by its obeying the impulse, and acting under the direction of a single mind, you have an effective responsibility of the Government to Parliament, and, at the same time, that qualified responsibility to the opinion of the service which I believe ought to exist in the management of the Navy. It seems to me in the Army you want precisely the same thing. You want that union of professional and non-professional minds, that responsibility to Parliament which is necessary on behalf of the Government, and also the means of assuring the profession that their interests will not suffer. The scheme of having a fourth Secretary of State to whom the department of the Army is to be entrusted, does not seem to me so proper an arrangement; and I may illustrate my reason for thinking so by reference to the Admiralty. The proper business of the department, whatever it may be, to which the Army may be entrusted, would be to create a useful in- 631 strument to be employed by the Government. With the purposes to which it is to be turned, the department should have nothing to do. In this respect the department having the control of the Army ought to be placed precisely on the same footing as the Admiralty. It is the duty of the Admiralty to provide an efficient Navy for all the services for which it may be required; but that being provided, it is for the Government to prescribe to the Admiralty the service on which it shall be employed; and this is done by one of the Secretaries of State, who, as the organ of the Government, signifies to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, the Queen's commands as to the services to be performed by Her Majesty's ships. if disturbances were threatened in any part of the United Kingdom, as we have sometimes known from strikes among the seamen, or from some similar cause, so that the presence of a ship of war were considered necessary, the Secretary for the Home Department would signify the Queen's commands that one or more of Her Majesty's ships should proceed to the point of danger to assist in preserving the peace. Sometimes it is some foreign Power refusing to make reparation for wrongs done to a British subject, and then the Secretary for Foreign Affairs signifies the necessary orders for instituting a blockade, or adopting some other mode of coercion. Sometimes, one of our colonies has to be defended, and then it is the Secretary for the Colonies who signifies the Queen's commands for the required service. So it now is with regard to the Army, and so it ought to continue to be under any new system of administration. If additional troops are required in the manufacturing districts, the Home Secretary, under the present arrangement, would send the proper orders to the Commander in Chief; if a new Army Department were instituted, he would send the same orders to that department; if troops were required in the colonies, it would be the Colonial Secretary; and if for foreign service, the Foreign Secretary who ought to give the orders; and it seems to me that, as is now the case with regard to the Admiralty and to the Commander in Chief, the three Secretaries of State ought to be able to signify the Queen's commands to the department, whatever it may be, that is entrusted with the general organisation and care of the Army, that department confining its labours to providing 632 an efficient military force for any purpose which may be required, in providing which there will be plenty of work upon its hands. But one Secretary of State can hardly signify the Queen's commands to another Minister of the same rank; therefore, if a board be objectionable, and the department be entrusted to a single Minister, I think it should not be a fourth Secretary of State, but the Secretary at War, with the functions of his office altered and enlarged, with under secretaries whose duties would be very much the same as those of the junior members of a Board, and it seems to me it would be better that they should be called a Board, though I do not think it very material by what name they may be called. I hare stated thus much of my own views, and I have given a very slight sketch of the alterations I should recommend, and the grounds on which I should do so, because I felt it would be scarcely proper, having insisted on the necessity of change, if I had failed to point out some mode by which it might be accomplished. Still, I know this is not the proper time for discussing different plans, and I, therefore, purposely avoid going further into the consideration of the comparative merits of the various measures which have been suggested. All I want to do now is to call your Lordships' attention to the fact that some considerable change is indispensably necessary. It is not improbable that Her Majesty's Government may hit on a far better scheme than I have ever thought of; but that in some way or other this matter ought to be taken in hand without delay I am perfectly convinced, because I am persuaded this war will not last many weeks without our feeling most seriously the ill effects of the present system. My Lords, I cannot help fearing that we are beginning to feel those effects very seriously already. I am not my Lords one of those who listen to the gossip of clubs, or the idle stories which circulate out of doors, and I have no doubt that the tales which have reached my ears of contradictory orders having been given, of instructions being issued one day and recalled the next, of want of firmness and want of some settled purpose apparently in those who are guiding the administration of affairs at the present conjuncture—I have no doubt these tales for the most part are the idle fancies of those who see part only of what is going on, and are ignorant of the reasons. I am anxious to give Her Ma- 633 jesty's Government full credit for having had good reasons for this measure, which I do not at present understand, and I am willing to hope that they have done all that is possible under the circumstances; but still, making all due allowance of this kind, I cannot help believing we are already feeling the effects of the system. One of the mistakes alleged to have been made is not very important in itself, but most important as indicating what is going on. It has reached my ears—and I am afraid I cannot doubt that it is true, that a Highland regiment received instructions to furnish volunteers to the first regiments ordered on duty to the East, and within three weeks of having furnished 100 volunteers in obedience to that order—for there is no difficulty in obtaining volunteers among brave British soldiers where it is a question of fighting—that regiment itself was ordered for the same service, and was ordered to make up those 100 men which it had parted with, besides some additional men. I can only say, if such is the fact, it is impossible to conceive a grosser instance of mismanagement. Every man who has the slightest acquaintance with military transactions must know that 100 men taken from their own regiment and sent into a new one, are of infinitely less use than they would have been if left with their comrades and officers whom they know, and that a regiment, which has so parted with 100 men, is not easily brought to the same state of efficiency as if it had retained its own men. Well, but, my Lords, in three weeks had there been any change of circumstances? I can see none. There may have been a change of plans, I grant, and that is precisely what I fear. I fear that, without any real change of circumstances, under the present arrangements, you will have frequent changes of plans, and if one thing is more fatal than another to efficiency in the conduct of military operations it is unnecessary changes of plans. I will not pursue the matter further, but I will repeat what I have already told your Lordships, that I believe we are already feeling the ill effects of the present system.
There is one more topic on which I think it necessary to make a few remarks before I conclude. There is an objection which applies equally to every one of these proposed modes of alteration—whether it be the creation of a Board, or the appointment of a Fourth Secretary of State—which is urged on such very high autho- 634 rity—such commanding authority I may say—that it is absolutely necessary I should offer a few words upon it. It is the common aim of every one of the plans proposed for improving our military administration to concentrate the powers now divided, and thus give the Government more perfect and complete control over the administration of the Army. But it has been urged as an objection to any plan of this kind, that the effect of giving to the Government more complete control over the management of the Army would be to give control to Parliament, and especially to the house of Commons, and it is alleged that this would be unconstitutional, inasmuch as it would involve an invasion of the Royal prerogative. It is said that the Crown ought to have the sole and exclusive command of the Army, and that anything which should admit of the interference of the House of Commons with that command would be in the highest degree dangerous. I have stated as well as I can the objection I have heard, but that objection seems so unsound, I might almost say so incomprehensible, that I do not feel perfectly confident I have stated it correctly; but such is the manner in which I understand it. Upon this subject I will remark that, it is quite true the Crown ought to have the sole and exclusive command of the Army; but the Crown ought equally to have the full and exclusive command over every other branch of the Executive Government; and if either House of Parliament were to attempt to take any branch of the executive power out of the hands of the responsible servants of the Crown—if Committees were appointed to execute administrative duties, as in the time of the Great Rebellion—that, I say, would be a very dangerous invasion of the Royal prerogative, and a departure from the principles of the constitution. But there is no distinction, that I am aware of, between the military and any other branch of the executive authority of the Crown; and if the rule I have mentioned holds good in all cases, there is also another rule which holds equally good, and that is, that none of the powers of the Crown are to be exercised except by the hands of some responsible Minister, and that Parliament is perfectly free to tender advice to the Crown as to the manner in which any powers vested in the Crown should be exercised. This I hold to be no less undoubtedly consistent with the constitution than that the Crown should have the com- 635 mand of the Army and every other branch of the Executive Government. If there is anything further intended, I wish your Lordships to consider what would be the result. Is it really meant that the Crown should exercise, with regard to the Army, some personal power, different from that which it exercises in any other branch of the Executive Administration? Is this contended for? Then, what follows? Some person must be responsible for the manner in which this power is used; and would it be convenient in a war—possibly, a disastrous war—that the Crown should be held personally responsible, without the shelter of its servants, for any mistakes in the conduct of that war? It seems to me such a proposition cannot be supported for a moment. Shall I be told that it is not the Crown personally whose power is to be maintained, but the power of the Commander in Chief—that the Commander in Chief ought not to be brought into too close connexion with Parliament? If that be so, there seems to me to be an end to the objection of the invasion of the rights of the Crown. The only question is, whether the Crown shall exercise power through one servant or through another; and it certainly appears to me neither convenient for the public service nor very safe for the Commander in Chief himself that he should have the sort of independence which some persons contend for. I say it would not be very convenient for the public service. How can the Government, being responsible to Parliament for the amount of the estimates, and for the economy with which the public service is conducted, be irresponsible for the manner in which the most public money is expended upon the Army? If responsibility to Parliament means anything, it implies a responsibility that the greatest possible amount of efficiency shall be obtained for a given outlay; but if they have no control over the organisation and administration of the Army, how can the Government be held responsible for its efficiency? And, again, with regard to the Commander in Chief, would it be very safe for him, in case of any disasters occurring, that he should be held solely and personally responsible—that he should be supposed to be independent of the Government of the day—that they should not be bound to adopt his proceedings and to defend him from the attacks to which he may be exposed in Parliament? I think, no man, having any experience or knowledge of the world, would consent to hold the office of 636 Commander in Chief upon such terms. But if the Government is to be responsible, it must have the power. Power and responsibility are inseparable—they must go together; and you cannot make the Government responsible for the way in which affairs are managed if you do not give to it the effective power of enforcing the management of these affairs according to its judgment. I can support my opinion on that subject by an authority the weight of which, I am sure, will be acknowledged by every one of your Lordships. Some months ago, in reading over my father's correspondence, I met with a letter addressed to him by Lord Grenville, dated the 12th of January, 1812, written in contemplation of an overture which there was at that time reason to expect would be made to him and my father to conic into office. In this letter, which I must say struck me as being altogether a most admirable one, Lord Grenville states his views upon various points which would require to be considered if he were called upon to form an Administration, and in doing so, on the subject of the Army, he expresses the following opinion:—As to the Duke of York's situation, and the management of the Army, delicate as the subject is, I do not see how we can consent that the new reign should, by our advice, be established on the same footing as the former—that of keeping the military administration distinct and independent of the civil government. It is a bad principle, even under an absolute monarchy. It is totally incompatible with the principle of a limited Crown.Considering Lord Grenville's abilities, his constitutional knowledge, and the high offices he had held during the war, I think that opinion from him is almost conclusive. I wish I could give your Lordships the answer to that letter, but I am not in possession of it. This, however, I may say with perfect certainty—it must have been in entire concurrence with the opinion of Lord Grenville. I hope I have sufficiently disposed of the constitutional objection; and I am sure that the argument cannot be admitted for one moment that Her Majesty's Government for the time being are not to be held responsible for the management of the Army. But this is not a mere matter of opinion—it is a matter of fact; and I ask your Lordships, whenever any difficulty has arisen, when anything has gone wrong in any branch of military arrangements, has not the Government of the day been compelled to hold itself responsible to the country? Was not the 637 Government of the day held responsible for the planning, the officering and conducting of the unfortunate expedition to Walcheren? We all know that they were; and I may refer to many instances of a more trifling nature to show that whenever the smallest difficulty occurs the military authorities must come to the civil Government, and lean on its authority and responsibility; but the inconvenience of the present system is that they do not come at the right time; and when military authorities act independently of the civil Government, it is impossible to administer important affairs with the necessary vigour and energy. When I held the office of Secretary at War there were many things in which I was called on to interfere which, according to the theory which is held as to the distribution of authority between the different departments, were quite out of the circle of my proper duties. We are always told that the Secretary at War has nothing whatever to do with the discipline of the Army, and many gentlemen treat it almost as an impertinence for him to express an opinion on the subject. But when a difficulty arises on a question of discipline, who is the person to whom the military authorities immediately have recourse? The Secretary at War. I may mention several instances. Whilst I held the office there was much discussion as to the practice of the troops wearing side-arms. Several unfortunate cases had occurred of wounds inflicted by soldiers with their bayonets during affrays at public-houses. The subject was discussed more than once in the House of Commons, and at first there was very great reluctance on the part of the military authorities, in which I participated, to make any change in the long practice of the Army. But at length I was satisfied the change ought to take place, and accordingly, with the concurrence of my Colleagues, having made my opinion known to the Commander in Chief, a general order was issued to carry it into effect, the draft of which was previously submitted to my consideration and approval. With regard, again, to the important subject of corporal punishment, all know how much anxiety was felt on the subject. For several years it was very much discussed in Parliament, and Motions were annually made and supported by large minorities on occasion of the introduction of the Mutiny Bill for entirely dispensing with it. It was my duty to look into that question, and I was satis- 638 fied it was not safe altogether to deprive the officers of the Army of the power of inflicting corporal punishment; but I was equally satisfied that the power must be greatly restricted, and that that which was left of it must be exercised in much greater moderation than hitherto. I was convinced this could be accomplished by introducing other modes of punishment, and also by providing what had been hitherto neglected—the means of rewarding the good soldier as well as punishing the bad. I communicated with the Commander in Chief, and a very protracted correspondence took place. The Commander in Chief's opinion was not, in the first instance, by any means favourable to the measures I recommended, but, very wisely and very properly, he ultimately acquiesced. The result was, the good conduct warrant, as it was called, was issued, and the power of military punishment was greatly restricted. That has been carried still further, and the result has proved most advantageous to the Army. All know that the good-conduct warrant has worked extremely well, and the diminution of corporal punishment has been most beneficial, the discipline of the Army having improved under it. There was another case, a very important case, upon which a difficulty arose—as to the reappointment to full-pay of an officer who had been reduced to half-pay, and upon which I was called upon to interfere. Certainly, that did not fall within the natural functions of the Secretary at War, and yet the restoration of that officer could not take place until it had been ascertained from me—after having been pressed upon the subject more than I liked—that the Government was prepared to support it. These instances prove that it is totally impossible to separate, as some persons contend, the military from the civil administration of the country, and that the Government, which is responsible for the general conduct of affairs, must have control over those by whom the authority of the Crown over the Army is exercised. I believe that I have now concluded all the observations necessary to make. If, in doing so, I have taken up too much of your Lordships' time, my apology must be found in the deep conviction I entertain, that the present is a time when the question has risen to an importance which it never attained before. I am persuaded that all that is necessary to insure the accomplishment of the reform I advocate, is to make the country understand the 639 necessity for it, and I believe that, from the accident of my having held different offices in the State for several years, I have had more experience in connection with this question than has fallen to the lot of most men, and better means of judging of the working of this system which I call upon the Government to change. I beg to move an Address for the following papers, to the production of which I conceive there can be no objection:—Copies of any correspondence between the different Departments of Her Majesty's Government with respect to any Additions which have been made to the Department of the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies; and also with regard to any Changes which have been made in the Transaction of Business relating to the Administration of the Army.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
My Lords, before I proceed to make a few comments on the speech of the noble Earl, I believe it is almost unnecessary for me to say that, on the part of the Government, there is no objection to the production of the papers for which he has moved. I can assure the noble Earl that I am very sincerely sensible of the truth of his last remark—that he possesses greater experience, certainly than any other civilian, of the subjects of which he has treated; and I am equally sensible that I am very incompetent to reply to him, because I am aware that my experience is very slight indeed, and only in one of the departments in which the noble Earl has gathered his knowledge. I am not about to attempt to controvert the statements the noble Earl has made, still less will I attempt to deny that there are faults in the system under which the Army is governed. Faults, I apprehend, may be found in every system and every department of Government. We see daily and yearly changes effected which I believe are improvements in all those departments, and it would be strange, indeed, if the department of the Army was the only one in which changes could not be introduced with advantage. I say, therefore, I am not about, on behalf of the Government, to deny the necessity for any change, or to attempt to establish the fact that the administration of the Army is blameless. But really—I say it with all deference—I do not think the noble Earl has established his case in the multitude of instances he has introduced. The noble Earl has not proved that Government abuses have occurred within a very few years, and that those abuses have not been 640 taken in hand by the department more especially entrusted with its management. He has not shown that those abuses are of recent date. On the contrary, almost all those cases, harrowing in themselves and painful to listen to, of the great mortality of regiments quartered in unhealthy climates, are of remote date, and so far from establishing that the system has been at fault by those instances, he has proved that abuses under the present system can be, and have been, remedied. I am not saying at present whether the system is good or bad; but I wish to point out that these instances, with which the Commander in Chief is more conversant than I am, can no more be considered condemnatory of the administration of the Army than can the instances which my Lord Shaftesbury periodically introduces to this House as illustrations of the sanitary state of the country, be considered to prove the maladministration of the Home Office and the necessity of change in that department. The noble Earl quoted, in the first instance, the frightful mortality for a period of twenty years, ending thirty years ago, in Jamaica. That abuse has been remedied. It should also be borne in mind that that mortality took place at a time when medical science had not advanced to its present state of perfection, and when the medical department of the Army was greatly neglected. Moreover, as far as the instance of Jamaica was concerned, the great mortality occurred when barracks did not exist in the healthy parts of that island, and before the unhealthiness of the former stations had been established. The attention of the Government was immediately directed to that great mortality, and the evil was remedied as soon as possible; so that, as the noble Earl himself acknowledged, the number of deaths was reduced from 130 in 1,000 to something like 30 in 1,000. Surely the noble Earl does not mean to say that that fact is condemnatory of the present system? But, my Lords, I would ask, how is it possible to provide against such disastrous calamities in an unhealthy climate like that of Jamaica? Only last year, in the comparatively healthy island of Bermuda, a far greater mortality took place than that to which the noble Earl has referred as having occurred some forty years ago. Has there been any mismanagement or any want of inquiry into that mortality? Quite the reverse. I can assure the noble Earl that, upon hearing of that distressing 641 calamity, I immediately took measures, in conjunction with the Treasury, for making the most complete and thorough inquiry into that disaster, for remedying it in the present and for correcting it in the future, so far as human power and ingenuity can deal with an epidemic of which medical science at present really knows nothing. Again, the noble Earl has referred to what took place at Hong-Kong; but surely the noble Earl does not mean to assert that, because there has been a great sacrifice of life at Hong-Kong, it could have been obviated by some other system. [Earl GREY: Hear, hear!] That is not my experience. I have now been fifteen months in the office which the noble Earl formerly held, and I can safely say that the greatest possible attention has been paid to that case; but the noble Earl must know perfectly well that when, for a great imperial object, it is considered necessary that a garrison should be established in any particular part of the world, it is inconsistent with the duty of those who are entrusted with the Government of the country to withdraw that garrison without adopting every means in their power for preventing the necessity for its removal. As regards the garrison of Hong-Kong, one of the first steps I took, finding the Cingalese were the most unhealthy of all, was to withdraw them from that place; and to that measure the existing system offers no impediments and the thing was done at once. As regards the English regiments quartered there, I found steps in preparation for sending an hospital-ship to Hong-Kong, in order to assist in restoring the health of the troops, so that we might be enabled to retain a garrison there; and would it, I ask, have been consistent with my duty to withdraw that force until every attempt had been made to reduce the mortality? It was with the deepest regret that I heard, post after post, of the sickness which prevailed in that regiment. We tried the hospital-ship, but unfortunately the experiment has not been successful. What has been the consequence? In conjunction with my noble Friend the Commander in Chief I have decided to bring that regiment home. Have we met with any obstacle, any impediment to that proceeding? None whatever. The moment it was ascertained that the regiment could not remain in Hong-Kong without a great sacrifice of health and life, it was resolved to withdraw it. 642 The noble Earl referred to another case, which I confess I listened to with some pain, because it did appear to me to impute blame to that great man who is gone, and whose memory we must all cherish with reverence and respect, not merely for his great military achievements, but for the concern he ever showed for the health and happiness of the soldiers—I refer to the case of Sierra Leone. Unless I am greatly mistaken, that was a case in which some soldiers were sent out to the unhealthy coast of Africa before barracks had been erected. Now, will the noble Earl say that in any great emergency—in a case in which the honour and dignity of the country are concerned—we are not to run such risks, or to send soldiers to an unhealthy district, even though it may not at the time be provided with barracks for their accommodation? I will not go further into the case, upon which the noble Earl dwelt so long as being connected with the health of the Army, and by which he endeavoured to establish the position that the whole of these evils might have been avoided if some other system had prevailed at the different times to which he has referred. [Earl GREY: Hear, hear!] The noble Earl has alluded to his correspondence with the Treasury in 1836, and he seems to complain that the very judicious and desirable amendments which he suggested were not carried out till one year after he had recommended them. Now, let me ask the noble Earl this question—in the alterations which he now proposes, does he intend to supersede, with respect to the administration of the Army, that control as regards financial matters which the Treasury exercises over all the other departments of the public service? If he has that intention, cadit quœstio—I have no longer a right to argue with him; but if he does not mean to withdraw that control from the Treasury, then, I say, the case which he has brought forward of his correspondence in 1836, has nothing to do with the question. I will admit at once that, as regards those delays to which the noble Earl has referred, the Treasury is a great obstacle, and even that it acts sometimes capriciously, but, generally speaking, from an honest desire to prevent undue expenditure of the public money. It is impossible to deny that great mismanagement prevailed during the last war; and the noble Earl has said that that mismanagement was entirely attributable to 643 the system which then prevailed, and which to a certain extent, though not entirely, prevails at the present moment. To substantiate that position the noble Earl quoted the opinion of Sir Willoughby Gordon, a very eminent military authority, undoubtedly; but I think nobody who has read the history of those times—nobody who has read the despatches of the Duke of Wellington himself—nobody who is acquainted with the affairs of the Army, and with the last war, can doubt that the evil was much more deeply rooted than the system to which the noble Earl has referred, and that any mismanagement which took place was not attributable to that system, but would have been just as likely to have occurred if the system which the noble Earl recommends had been established during the whole of the last war. I readily admit that there are great theoretical objections to the present administration of the Army; but I must say that if we look, not to the theoretical objections, but to the practical working of the system, except in some few isolated instances, I do not think we shall find the abuses so great, or the evils so alarming, as the noble Earl has attempted to represent. The noble Earl, about the close of his speech, combated an argument which he said had been put forward against his proposition, namely, that the proposed change ought to be avoided, because it would be requisite to take the administration of the Army out of the hands of the Crown and to place it in the hands of Parliament; and he contended that, both theoretically and practically, the Government is responsible for the administration of the Army. I apprehend it is perfectly unnecessary to argue that case. I do not think any man can doubt the position of the noble Earl. When objections are raised to placing the administration of the Army in the hands of the Secretary at War, it is not because there is a desire to prevent the Government being responsible for the management of the Army, in the same way as it is responsible for the administration of all the affairs of the country; but it is because the Secretary at War, as at present constituted, is particularly and especially, if I may say so of any man holding an office under the Crown, the servant of the House of Commons. The Secretary at War must always be a Member of the House of Commons. I apprehend the Secretary at War cannot occupy a seat in your Lordships' House. 644 The Secretary at War is particularly an officer of the House of Commons, and it is his business, on behalf of the House of Commons, as the guardians of the public purse, to take care that the expenses of the Army are put under proper control; and I contend that a Minister who has this duty to perform is not the proper officer to be entrusted with the responsibility of the executive of the Army. I think there is a broad distinction between handing over to an officer of the House of Commons the executive duties connected with the administration of the Army, and maintaining that the Government is not responsible for that administration. Whilst upon this subject of the position of the Secretary at War, I must say that I believe the important duty with which he is now entrusted, namely, the economical administration of the Army, would be entirely frustrated if you were to throw upon him executive functions. If you throw upon the War Minister duties which you attach to the Commander in Chief, I apprehend he will be induced to look at no other object but that of the greatest efficiency of the service over which he is placed, unchecked by economical considerations and uncontrolled by the Treasury—a system which could not fail to lead to extravagance. The noble Earl did not dwell at any great length upon a portion of this subject on which great stress was laid on a former occasion, namely, that department which is at present in the hands of my noble Friend Lord Raglan. The noble Earl did not detain your Lordships long upon the measure which has been proposed with regard to that department, although he touched upon it slightly more than once; but as others who are to follow on this occasion—especially my noble Friend behind me (Lord Panmure), who has paid great attention to the subject, and who, next to the noble Earl, has probably had the greatest experience—are likely to refer to it, I would venture to make one or two observations upon that point, feeling, as I do, that the amalgamation, or consolidation, or—as it is called by one person who has written on the subject—"accumulation" advocated by the noble Earl, and which I apprehend would go to the entire abolition of the office of Master General of the Ordnance, would be an impracticable and undesirable measure. There never was a moment at which it was more manifest that the Ord- 645 nance is as essential as a naval as it is as a military department.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
The noble Earl says, he believes it is even more essential as a naval department. I am not sure that he is not right; and although this office is looked upon as a military office, a sort of adjunct to the Horse Guards, so far is that from being the case, that if the military functions of the Master General of the Ordnance were to be devolved on the Commander in Chief, it would be absolutely necessary to annex to the department of the Admiralty an office which should have the control of the ordnance of the Navy. On referring back, so far as I could find time to do so, since the noble Earl gave notice of this Motion, to the various Reports and suggestions which have been made upon this subject, I have been very much surprised at the conflicting nature of all those recommendations. In 1834, a Committee of the House of Commons sat upon this subject. In 1837, the Commission to which the noble Earl has referred was appointed. In 1849, a Committee of the House of Commons was again appointed, and was presided over, most ably and beneficially to the public, by a noble friend of mine, Lord Seymour. Every one of those Committees and Commissions have made recommendations not only not similar the one to the other, but in many respects entirely opposite to one another. I gather from these and other sources four definite and distinct plans which have been proposed in regard to the Ordnance Department. One is, that the Ordnance Department should be entirely abolished and incorporated with the Commandership in Chief at the Horse Guards. The second is to divide the civil and military duties of the department, leaving to the Master General of the Ordnance the military duties, and transferring the civil duties to the Secretary at War. The third plan that has been proposed is that what I may call the personnel and matériel of the Ordnance should be divided—that the whole of the men of the artillery force should be united under the administration of the Horse Guards, and that the management of the great guns and the arms should still be retained in the hands of a separate department, whether you may call it the Ordnance Department or not. The fourth plan, which certainly is one affecting very 646 little alteration, but which I believe to be more likely to be beneficial than any of the others, is that the Ordnance Department should be kept as it stands, with the exception of placing it on the same footing as the Army, so far as the supervision and checking the accounts is concerned. Now, my Lords, I was struck with the significant cheer which proceeded from my noble friend behind me (Lord Panmure) when the noble Earl touched upon the subject of the Commissariat. I have already observed that the peculiar duty appertaining to the Secretary at War is a valid reason why executive duties should not be put upon him. I think, in justice to that argument, I must admit that it is hardly proper to entrust the Commissariat to the Treasury. The Treasury, undoubtedly, is a department which has a control over the expenditure of every branch of the public service; but this, I believe, is the only instance in which executive duties devolve upon it. Well, I say at once, that that is a fair question to raise, and that it is worthy of consideration whether any more effective arrangement could be adopted; but at the same time I am sure my noble Friend behind me is not ignorant of the fact that this is a subject upon which the Duke of Wellington—and to his opinions we ought to bow in such matters—felt very strongly, and I have myself seen in the handwriting of the Duke of Wellington the strongest possible assertion of his conviction that it was most desirable that the Commissariat should remain in the hands of the Treasury. But I believe my noble Friend, and the noble Earl also, would wish the Commissariat to be abolished altogether. That, at any rate, I understand to be the opinion of my noble Friend. I cannot concur in that view. I must say, however much a Commissariat may be wanted in a time of peace, in a time of war it is absolutely essential, if wars are to be conducted by this country upon that honourable principle upon which we have hitherto conducted them—namely, not to live upon the country in which we are waging war, but to pay for everything we take. ["Hear, hear!"] My noble Friend seems to agree with me that a Commissariat is necessary in a time of war. Will he maintain that upon war suddenly breaking out, and it being necessary to send a large force to a foreign country, you could establish that force, and organise a Commissariat, so as to enable it to execute great operations, if you had not the requi- 647 site machinery constantly in operation? I say it is not possible; and although I am not prepared to show or to assert that there may not have been some abuses in the Commissariat, or that greater reductions might not have been made in the expenses of that department, yet I think it is of the utmost importance that a Commissariat should be maintained. Let me also remind your Lordships that whatever we may think of war, this country is really very seldom free from some military undertaking or other. We are in possession of between forty and fifty colonies; there is a war in one or another of these colonies in the course almost of every year, and for these wars a Commissariat has been found to be absolutely necessary. Will my noble Friend, or the noble Earl, maintain that in the last years of the Kafir war, heavy though the expenses were, our operations could have been carried on so economically as they were if we had not had an organised and efficient commissariat? I can only speak from the experience of the last fifteen months, but I say most sincerely that I should look with much less confidence than I do to the departure of that force which is about to be despatched to the East if it were not possible to send with that army, I believe, as capable, as intelligent, and as able a body of Commissariat officers as ever accompanied an army into the field. And here let me make this remark, One of the very first steps which I felt it my duty to take, upon the determination of the Government to send a force to the East, was to send for the officers of the Commissariat Department, feeling that one of the first essentials was to put that department on the best possible footing. They were told that their services would be required abroad. A large number of them have already repaired to the scene of operations, and are now engaged in making the necessary arrangements for the troops. Now, I have no hesitation in saying that if we had had to run about the town and to search for gentlemen capable and willing to undertake this duty, many days, probably many weeks, would have elapsed; and, after all, we should not have had the certainty which we now have, from past experience, of the efficiency of the officers who have gone to the East. The noble Earl has spoken of the want of promptitude and harmony which prevails in the administration of the Army. As regards promptitude, I must again repeat that all the instances 648 he has given of delay are attributable to that which attaches to all the departments of the Government, namely, the control of the Treasury, and that unless you abolish the control of the Treasury you cannot get rid of that which causes delay. As regards harmony, I will only say that the noble Earl has been unfortunate in his experience; I cannot, from my own, corroborate the statement of the noble Earl. With respect to promptitude, I may mention that, in the evidence which was given by my noble Friend behind me before the Commission of 1849, he stated, in answer to questions put to him by Sir James Graham, that all matters touching the arrangement and distribution of troops are rapidly and easily disposed of by means of communications between the Home Secretary and the Commander in Chief, and that, in fact, the business could not be done more promptly. Well, these are occasions on which the Treasury does not interfere, and my noble Friend testifies to the promptitude and readiness with which the affair is managed. With regard to harmony, again, I repeat that my experience, short as it may be—though at the present moment it is acquired under very trying circumstances for all departments—does not corroborate the views of the noble Earl. I can only say, and I say it with the greatest sincerity, that having for the last two months been engaged with the whole of the military and naval departments—having had daily, almost hourly communications, verbally in the first instance, and subsequently in writing, with my noble Friend the Commander in Chief, with my noble Friend the Master General of the Ordnance, with my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, with the heads of the Commissariat Department, and, as an important element in the matter, with my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, and those of his department who are more immediately connected with transports—there never has been the slightest want of harmony amongst us—there never has been the slightest difference of opinion—and there never has been the slightest hesitation, after the instructions to carry out the directions of the Government have been received. I agree with the noble Earl that one of the best tests of the working of any system is a time of pressure like the present; and, however, under circumstances such as the noble Earl has referred to, there may have been delays and differences as to the neces- 649 sity of expenditure under certain heads, or as to the mode of expenditure—however much these complaints may have existed in more favourable circumstances as regards the peace of the country, I hold that a time of pressure like the present is the best test of a system in point of vigour and efficiency; and I say the experience of the last two or three months does not lead to the belief that any very great evil is to be apprehended in consequence of the present system. I admit that there may be improvements, but what I want to prove is, that the existing system is not so radically and essentially vicious as the noble Earl wished to represent. I can refer to high authority upon this point, for it was stated by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough) not long ago, that the expedition to Turkey was one of the greatest undertakings, in a military point of view, in which this country has ever been engaged; and even he, with his experience in India of the large scale upon which military operations are conducted there, seemed to shrink from its magnitude, and to apprehend its failure on that account. I hope the anticipations of the noble Earl will not be in any respect realised; but, assuming his estimate of the magnitude of the operations to be correct, I have a right to say that, under these circumstances, and at this time, the fact of having sent a large body of men to the East in better condition, in more admirable order, and with greater expedition than we had formerly any idea of, either in this or in any other country, does reflect the highest credit upon the efficiency of every department engaged in the undertaking. Have the wants of that force failed to be supplied? Certainly not. Watchful eyes are upon every department, and the slightest mistake would be communicated to the press. Has such been the case? It is quite the contrary. I believe that such careful preparations never were made before, whether I look to the food which has been provided for the men, to the arrangements for their comfort and convenience, or even to the indulgences, in the shape of beverages and matters of minor importance, which have been supplied to them. Every one of these matters has been not merely under the consideration of the particular departments to which it respectively belonged, but when the noble Earl says there is not sufficient supervision and central control, all I can say is, that I have myself personally interfered in many of these arrangements in a 650 way which some of the departments might possibly consider to be interfering with their rights and prerogatives, but I am bound to add, that up to the present time there has not been any punctilio raised whatever—on the contrary, that every order has been executed with no desire but to do that which was best for the public service. When the noble Earl says that, without listening to the gossip of the clubs, he has heard stories of contradictory orders which would have been obviated by a different system of administration, I can assure him that in this instance, as in many others, the gossip of the clubs is in error. No contradictory orders have been issued, and if any slight mistakes have been made, they are of such a nature as might have been committed by the most aristocratic head of the Army in any country and under any form of administration. I do not mean to maintain that the system may not be amended, but I do maintain that any such dislocation of the system as that advocated by the noble Earl would be most dangerous. It is impossible not to feel that the existing experience and routine of all the offices would be completely upset, and that for weeks, probably for months, at the most critical moment of our preparations for war, you would have each department uncertain what were its peculiar functions; you would have the head of each department uncertain in what position he stood; and instead of giving increased efficiency to one department or system, I believe you would entirely destroy the efficiency of all. The noble Earl has said that his experience of what occurred in 1846, when troops had to be sent to Canada, and in 1850, when there was a war at the Cape, led him equally to the same conclusion, because he asserted there was always a lengthened correspondence to be carried on between the departments before anything could be done. There, again, I am sorry to be obliged to say that my own experience does not corroborate that of the noble Earl. We are now engaged in a much more important contest than that at the Cape, and yet there is no lengthened correspondence between the departments. Every important matter is generally settled in a conference between myself and the different departments concerned in it, and when we have arrived at conclusions, they are committed to writing, and a proper record is kept of every order, so that due responsibility may be maintained. I be- 651 lieve that system, of settling all important questions by means of personal communication, will be found, under all circumstances, to be the only mode of obtaining expedition, under whatever administration the military force may exist. The noble Earl has said that it is perfectly impossible for the Minister for the Colonies to carry on the functions of the Secretary of War. I say, unfeignedly, I am deeply sensible of my own unfitness for either department, more especially for the war department—a deficiency which must attach, to a great extent, to almost all civilians. At the same time, I believe it is of material importance that a civilian should exercise the functions which the Secretary of War now exercises; and, therefore, I do not think I am arrogating to myself any personal merit—quite the reverse—when I say that I cannot concur in the view expressed by the noble Earl. Nor did the noble Earl himself entertain that opinion four short years ago; for I find that when he was under examination before the Commission of the House of Commons, on the 9th July, 1850, he stated, in answer to a question by Mr. Vernon Smith, that he believed the evil would be remedied in a time of war in the way in which it was practically remedied during the last war, namely, by the civil business being little thought of, and by the Secretary of War devoting his whole attention to the military portion of his duties; which, the noble Earl added, would virtually have the effect of uniting all these departments under one head, which was the state of things in the last war. The noble Earl, with his great knowledge and foresight, exactly anticipated the very event which has occurred, except that undoubtedly, as yet, I have not discovered any diminution of the colonial work. The noble Earl may find that the opinions which he has this night expressed are at variance with his former opinions, to which I have alluded. But these opinions are so distinct that I think I have a perfect right to quote them, as the noble Earl could not have given them without due consideration and a conviction of the accuracy of his statements. I cannot concur with the opinion of the noble Earl in the great and radical change which he proposes in a department connected with the carrying on of the war; and as to placing the administration of the Army under a Board, and taking it out of the hands of the Commander in Chief and the Master General of the Ordnance, I, for one, should be 652 very sorry to be in any way responsible for the consequences of such an arrangement. My Lords, I speak without having any experience of these changes, some of which I do not mean to say are not necessary, but I am arguing against the extent of the changes proposed, and the time at which they are to be made. Having, as I say, no experience in these changes, let me look to the Board of Admiralty. Twenty years ago was this Board reformed, and, I believe, most ably and efficiently were those measures of reform introduced by the right hon. Baronet now again at the head of that department. But for this reform such efficiency would never have been seen as we have lately witnessed in the preparation of our fleets; but I speak not without knowledge when I state that the alterations in the Board of Admiralty could not have been effected in a time of war without the entire derangement of the service. I have heard those engaged in that service say that for two years after these measures had been introduced everything was disorganised, for neither men nor things had fallen into their right places; and it was very generally believed that if any great emergency had then arisen, great difficulties would have been felt in meeting it. It is such an arrangement as this that is contemplated by the noble Earl; and, even had he proved it to be necessary, which I utterly deny, still, I say, it could not be effected under present circumstances. I will now, my Lords, refer to the three heads under which the noble Earl has classed his suggestions. The first proposal is, that there shall be a fourth Secretary of State. As the noble Earl has not gone into this at any length, I do not know that it is necessary for me now to enlarge upon it. The noble Earl's second proposal is to throw upon the Secretary at War functions which attach to the Secretary of State for the Colonies with reference to the military department. This, again, the noble Earl has not advocated at any length, and I have endeavoured to show the grave objections—the noble Earl will forgive the expression, though I do not wish to invite the spectre which he conjured up, when I say—to this unconstitutional arrangement. The third proposal is the constitution of a Board, which the noble Earl says he would have similar to the Board of Admiralty. He then proceeded to discuss the objections to, and advantages of such a Board. Although, my Lords, I am fully sensible of the ob- 653 jections, I cannot say that I am so certain as to the advantages that would result from such a Board. I believe that a Board, properly so called, would, without mitigating the evils complained of, merely be the means of cloaking and avoiding the responsibility which should attach to the head of a department. This I consider an inherent vice of such an arrangement, and no modification can get rid of it. We have obtained, by general consent, and the noble Earl consented to it by his cheers, that a civilian ought to be responsible for the administration of the Army. He must therefore be at the head of his Board. And the noble Earl says, following the example of the Board of Admiralty, he would have professional men occupying a junior position under this head. In what position should we then be? Are we to have a civilian at the head of the Board, and, instead of having such men as the Duke of Wellington at the Horse Guards and Sir G. Murray at the Board of Ordnance, are we to have lieutenant-colonels and captains of the army to sit as junior lords at the Horse Guards and to perform all functions and to be the sole military advisers of the civil head of the Board? No person who has maturely considered the subject would think, however reprehensible some of the present arrangements may be, that such a proposal could be any improvement on the existing system. The noble Earl forgot one portion of his case in advocating, and rightly, the responsibility of the person who occupies my office; he did not touch upon the question of patronage. What would he do with the patronage of the Army? Does he propose that it shall devolve on the civil head of this Board, who is a political officer? I, for one, must resist such a proposal; and I believe that if a mode could be adopted by which the honourable feeling of the Army could be corrupted—if it be corruptible—it would be by the introduction of such a system. Would the patronage devolve on the junior lords? That would be impossible. I say, my Lords, you ought to watch this question of patronage, and to introduce, if possible, safeguards for its integrity, instead of placing it in jeopardy—instead of placing it in the hands of the civil head of such a Board. I would not, under any consideration, have the patronage of the Army devolve upon me; for even were the appointments made under the best professional advice, with due regard to the rights of individuals and the 654 interests of the service, still I say it is reasonable to believe that disappointed candidates, their friends and the world at large, would imagine that I was actuated by political and party feelings. I therefore consider that to introduce such an element of discord as this into the administration of the Army would be more detrimental than the system which now prevails, and I should deprecate any steps being taken towards such a measure. My Lords, however inefficiently I have replied to the very elaborate speech of one, on these matters, of the most experienced Members of this House—I am bound to say, on behalf of the Government, that though not repudiating alterations, much less improvements, we do deprecate any attempt to make, at this juncture, extensive changes in the existing system, and still more do I deprecate an attempt to dislocate the important joints of a machinery which, if put out of gear, cannot readily be replaced, and may lead, at the present time of war, to most disastrous consequences.
§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
said, he wished to take the earliest opportunity of denying that the disastrous consequences referred to by the noble Earl in connection with inefficient barrack accommodation at Trinidad and Sierra Leone took place at the time when the barracks were under the management of the late Duke of Wellington. The English and Irish barracks were transferred about the time referred to by the noble Earl to the Ordnance Department with most beneficial results; but it was not until two years afterwards that the colonial barracks were brought under the management of the Duke of Wellington, who was then the Master General of the Ordnance. They were prior to that time under the Treasury and Colonial Departments; and as the Legislative Assemblies paid towards their maintenance, they were frequently in an inefficient state. Even had the colonial barracks been brought under the control of the Board of Ordnance at the same time as the English and Irish barracks, it would have been impossible for any department immediately to have remedied all the existing abuses in connection with their management. One of the first improvements introduced by the late Duke was that of giving to every soldier a single iron bedstead, instead of compelling them, as before, to sleep together two in each bed. No man, indeed, ever took greater pains than did the late Duke of Wellington to make the accom- 655 modation and comforts of the soldiers as perfect as possible. If the noble Earl had communicated with him on this matter, he would have explained it to him; but as it was now thirty years since these transactions took place, and the noble Earl had made an accusation, he deemed it right to take this the earliest opportunity of correcting his statement. As regards the general question of the present discussion, it would not become him to advocate the privileges and functions of the Commander in Chief as against any civil officer whom the Government might please to appoint. He did not pretend to discuss this matter; but, as far as his experience went, in recent years he had never felt any of the inconveniences mentioned by the noble Earl (Earl Grey) when he was Secretary at War, and he could only say that last year, when he was Master General of the Ordnance, he felt that there were certain wants in the artillery department, and he applied to his noble Friend, then in office, explained to him the deficiency of the service, and this met with an immediate response. When the Ordnance Estimates were prepared, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department felt, as he believed every Secretary of State for the Home Department feels, that the charge of the security of the country devolves upon him, and the security of the Colonies upon the noble Duke who held the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the whole question of the estimates and the defence of the country was discussed at the Home Office, with the right hon. the Secretary at War, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department, the noble Duke the Secretary for the Colonies, and himself (Viscount Hardinge). They met three or four times, and discussed the whole subject, and a better or more perfect mode of doing so could scarcely be devised. The same course was adopted last year. There was no novelty in such a step, for it was one adopted in the time of Lord Liverpool. He should certainly be sorry to see any Secretary at War entrusted with the discharge of those duties now performed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. As for the practical working of the present system, he had seen, when unlawful meetings were taking place in this country, the Commander in Chief go to the office of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and after a 656 consultation of a few minutes return and give the necessary order for the troops to march; and by the next morning, owing to the facilities of the railway and telegraph, the troops had been enabled to reach the town where their services were wanted. Their Lordships might remember the time of the Chartists attempting to march through London, and how upon that occasion every arrangement was made which could possibly secure the public tranquillity. These arrangements were made with a precision and quietness which struck everybody as most remarkable. He would ask their Lordships if they thought that the then Home Secretary of State (Sir George Grey), whom every one must treat with respect and confidence, or any Secretary at War, or fourth Secretary of State interposing at the head of the Army, would have been of any use under such circumstances? If they stripped the Secretary of State for the Home Department of the power he now had over the security and safety of this country, they would in his (Viscount Hardinge's) opinion, weaken instead of strengthen the Executive? During the last two months he had transacted business with his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, of a most important nature, in connection with the movements and preparations of the troops, and he had never met with the slightest difficulty, or experienced any of those "squabbles" with the noble Duke which the noble Earl had referred to as of frequent occurrence. Everything had been transacted in the utmost harmony and union. With respect to the Ordnance Department, there were, no doubt, many things which called for alteration and improvement; but the result of the lengthened inquiry of the Committee of the House of Commons was to show that the utmost care and attention were necessary in any attempt to effect improvements in that department. He should always feel it a pleasure to be present at discussions of this nature, and to state his opinion of the practical working of any system which might be adopted; but he could not pretend to enter into any constitutional questions as to the rights or wishes of the Commander in Chief. He would, however, most confidently state that if they attempted to limit too much the authority and power of the Commander in Chief as regarded the management of the troops, they would shake his authority in such a manner as to produce great difficulties in the event 657 of his having to carry on a war. In conclusion, the noble Viscount stated that he never saw a finer body of men than those who were last year encamped at Chobham, remarkable in every good quality which could form the soldier. These troops, under the instructions of his noble Friend the Duke of Newcastle, had been sent to Turkey, and in his (Viscount Hardinge's) opinion, the whole of the forces sent out had embarked with an alacrity, a readiness, and a discipline which did them the greatest possible honour. So far as regarded his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, he felt it a pleasure to state that he had never known less alterations made in the orders when once issued, than had been made during the last two months; and it also afforded him great satisfaction to state that from no Secretary of State had he ever received more satisfactory assistance than from the noble Duke who now filled the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
It is very irksome to me, my Lords, to say much on the present subject, but I do not think I should be acting rightly unless I expressed my obligations to the noble Earl (Earl Grey) for having brought this question under your Lordships' notice. It is with the deepest concern I see the state of your Lordships' House, both now and from the commencement of this discussion, because it shows how very little your Lordships as yet appreciate the extreme difficulty of the position in which we are placed, and the necessity of devising all the means which our best consideration may suggest to us of carrying the war in which we are engaged to a fortunate conclusion. The question which has been brought before your Lordships by the noble Earl involves the lives of thousands, the efficiency of the Army, the greatest interests of the State, and the honour of the country; and I must say that, if your Lordships have not upon this occasion been prepared to come to its consideration in such numbers as those in which you usually assemble for the consideration of other less important matters, it will be necessary, at a very early period after the recess, that the whole question of the naval and military preparations of the country, of the position in which we now stand at the commencement of this great war, and of the means by which our military and naval forces are to be directed, should be brought directly under the consideration of your Lordships. I think it 658 right to express my entire concurrence with the noble Earl in the opinion which he declared, that the military should be entirely subordinate to the civil authority. I believe that to be perfectly constitutional in principle and essential to the good conduct of all public affairs; and I must say, that while I join with others in rejoicing that what is called the patronage of the Army is separated from the Government, and in nourishing the wish that, to a very great extent, what is called the patronage of the Navy were likewise separated from the Government; yet, looking to the circumstances which have been brought under my consideration, I do think that there is a very great distinction between what is called technically the "patronage of the Horse Guards"—that is, the appointment to regiments, beginning with the first commissions—matters which are altogether things of patronage—and the appointment to divisional and brigade commands and situations in the Quartermaster General and Adjutant General's departments. These are matters which affect the efficiency of the Army in the field for which my noble Friend opposite is at present responsible; and I say that he ought to have—I know not whether he have, but he ought to have—every one of those recommendations of the Horse Guards brought to him for his consideration and approval, before they are submitted to Her Majesty. Agreeing, however, with the noble Earl in the opinion that the military should be entirely subordinate to the civil authority, I must, at the same time, confess that I do not agree in the suggestion which he has offered for particular alterations in the management of military affairs, which he thinks would be most conducive to the public service. I confess, my Lords, that I am adverse to all Boards. They appear to me to be but an excuse for the want of responsibility. The only real security for good conduct on the part of a public officer is the sense of sole and entire responsibility for everything that is done; but if you impose upon him—as I think you should for the public benefit—that feeling of sole and entire responsibility, it is but just that you should give him also full and complete power to carry his wishes into effect; otherwise you treat him ill, and place him in a position in which he cannot carry out what he believes to be necessary for the benefit and welfare of the country. My experience of the Admiralty was extremely short, and it was experience 659 obtained under the most adverse circumstances, for I only entered upon the administration of that department as the representative of an expiring Government—a position in which no one who has had the misfortune to be placed would ever desire to stand again. But, I must say, from the short experience which I did have, that it is, without exception, the most inefficient, and the most utterly incapable of doing good service to the public which at any time has come under my notice. I do not think that I could by possibility, even if I bad received—as I did not receive—the full support of the head of the Government, have effected that which I felt it right to do for the public service, trammelled as I was by the arrangements of that department; and I recollect very well when the Act to which the noble Earl alluded, which was passed at the suggestion of the present First Lord of the Admiralty, was carried through Parliament, bearing the opinion of persons who were then thoroughly acquainted with the practical administration of the Admiralty, that it might do very well in time of peace, but that it would be found to break down in time of war. Our experience as yet has not been sufficient to enable us to come to any judgment upon that subject. My noble Friend has mentioned—what I can perfectly understand—the unwillingness of the Duke of Wellington to separate the Commissariat from the Treasury, under the impression that it was necessary that that department should be placed under the direction of the Treasury, which held the public purse. That was only in conformity with all the opinions of the noble Duke, who, military man as be was, was more constitutional in the general bent of his mind and in all his opinions, and more desirous of placing the civil over the military authority here and everywhere, than perhaps any public man with whom I have acted. And really, when I consider this matter in all its bearings, I cannot but feel that, in point of fact, by far the most convenient arrangement for the public would be that the general direction of the war should rest with the First Lord of the Treasury himself. There may be circumstances which may render it inconvenient at the present time for my noble Friend now at the head of the Treasury to undertake that duty; for knowing as I do that no man does well the thing he hates, I cannot but apprehend, whatever may be his general abilities, directed as they would be, un- 660 doubtedly, for the first time, to the consideration of anything relating to war, that it is just possible that that war would not be successfully conducted to a speedy issue. But if that be our unfortunate position—I think it unfortunate, because I know from history that the only occasion on which great successes were achieved suddenly after sustaining great reverses, was an occasion on which the Prime Minister was himself the War Minister, and carried the country to victory in every part of the globe—if that be our unfortunate position, I firmly believe that there is no other arrangement which will give real security to us that all the departments will cordially co-operate with that department which directs the military operations. I believe, also, that there are no other arrangements which will secure that despatch which is absolutely essential to the success of military operations; and more than that, I believe that there is no other arrangement which with the same effect secures secrecy, which, above all things, is necessary to the success of such operations. Undoubtedly, if we consider what we see day after day in the public newspapers, and believe that what we read there is true, we must come to the conclusion that secrecy there is not in any department of the Government, and that the enemy knows as much as we do ourselves of everything that we have done or intended to do in this affair. I venture to suggest to my noble Friend, if, as Secretary of State, he is to conduct this war, that secrecy is one of the most important securities which he can give us for victory; and I will also venture to suggest to him, as we have been talking of the Admiralty—and really we have been talking of these departments almost as if they were independent States, and not under the general direction, as they should be, of the Prime Minister—that of all the departments, that in which, unfortunately, secrecy appears least to exist is the department of the Admiralty. I certainly should have directed my attention to that subject had I remained longer in that office than I did; but I felt that my time was very short, and that I had no means of effecting the alterations and reforms which I desired, and felt it absolutely essential should be effected. It would be idle to go further at the present time into the condition of this question. I will only, in a few words, say that I entertain a very strong opinion—perhaps a stronger one than is generally entertained by noble Lords—of the great- 661 ness of the struggle in which we are engaged, and of its probable duration. I think that the people of this country will be called on to make very great sacrifices. I think that at the present moment they are carried forward by a very unanimous and a very generous feeling in favour of a weak State oppressed by a powerful neighbour. We cannot trust, however, that under the pressure of great public suffering that generous feeling will continue to induce the people of this country to concur in the prosecution of the war with the vigour with which it ought to be carried on. It is a war of far-sighted policy—it is a statesman's war—but that is not a war which the people of this country will generally understand; and the Government must surely see, that unless it be well conducted, unless it present from time to time, and very rapidly, examples of success, of great achievements effected, and of a decided progress towards the prostration of the enemy, it will be perfectly impossible for any Government or for any Parliament reasonably to hope to carry the people with them in the prolonged prosecution of the war. I do, therefore, most earnestly recommend to the consideration of the Government that that is the manner in which this war ought to be conducted. I am perfectly convinced that it is impossible to conduct it with success, with departments, at present, perhaps, co-operating, but which may soon conflict, under circumstances such as have been described by the noble Earl. I am convinced that there is no mode by which it can be conducted except upon the principle of undivided responsibility and almost undivided power; and that, without that power pervading all departments, and compelling all to co-operate in the views which are held by the Government, for the prosecution of the war, it is perfectly impossible that in a war—remembering that in this war there is no royal road to victory—a war of which no man can venture to predict the termination, which has many chances in favour of the enemy, and but few, perhaps, in favour of ourselves—in which I think we can succeed, but in which we can succeed only by great sacrifices, by great exertions, by directing all our efforts to the same uniform end, and by looking forward, not merely to the end of the campaign, or to the end of the Session, but from year to year, until the enemy is beaten down—I say that, unless we take that view of the war, and unless we now (not waiting, as my noble 662 Friend supposes, for some distant period when all these calamities may have been incurred) look at the whole extent of our perils, difficulties, and necessities, and prepare our means for the purpose of effecting a success which is to be effected by giving a right direction to the war, as much as by providing the means for carrying it on—I feel satisfied that whatever may be the abilities of the Government for conducting the Administration in peace—abilities which were possessed to the greatest extent by their predecessor, Mr. Pitt, who, with all his administrative talents in time of peace, failed most lamentably as a War Minister (for nothing can be more unlikely, perhaps, than that a man who is great in peace should therefore, and of necessity, be great in war)—I feel convinced, I say, unless they do that, whatever may be their present strength in Parliament and in the country, that the country will not bear defeat, that it will not bear mismanagement, and that a Government which mismanages a war will be put out by the indignation of the naval and military services, and by the general disappointment and dissatisfaction of the people.
§ LORD PANMURE
said, he had long been of opinion that the administration of the affairs of the Army, whatever they might think of the matter in that House, would be taken by the public into their own hands, and that, sooner or later, we should see a Minister responsible for the military affairs of the country, and all the pecuniary charges of the department defrayed in one vote by the House of Commons. He had no desire to arrive at such changes as these by any sudden and inconvenient step; but he thought that the time had arrived when it behoved the Government to consider—and they did not seem indifferent to it—how the change might be effected, gradually, safely, and at the proper time, before it was effected suddenly and with a rough hand. He thought that the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) had talked somewhat lightly of the character of such a Board as the noble Earl (Earl Grey) had proposed; and he saw no reason why it should not be composed of officers of high standing and valour, and be placed upon the some footing as the Board of Amiralty. Be that as it might, however, and whether they established a Board or a Minister of War, he agreed with his noble Friend below him (the Earl of Ellenborough), that under no circumstances of administration should the 663 patronage of the Army be taken out of the hands of the Commander in Chief. He was not aware whence the noble Duke had derived his authority when he stated that he (Lord Panmure) had proposed utterly and entirely to abolish the department of the Commissariat. Such a scheme had never entered into his head; and all that he had ever urged upon that point was, that the Commissariat ought to be under the direction of the Secretary at War—that it was wrong to have separated the management of the Commissariat from that department—and that it would be beneficial to the Army to restore it to the control of the Secretary at War. His opinion was that the Commissariat in times of peace was not necessary to train a Commissariat for times of war. Further, he distinctly contended that the duties which the officers of the Commissariat had to perform during a period of war were not only different from those which he had to discharge in a time of peace, but absolutely those duties were not to be learned during a time of peace. He was of that opinion still. He had heard, however, that the Commissariat was not to be restricted to the simple duty of providing for the Army abroad, but that it was intended also to establish one for this country. Such an attempt had been made in Ireland a few years ago, when he was Secretary at War, and he never rested until he had put it down, for he found that the Ordnance contractors for the Army supplied them as economically and far better than they could be supplied by any Commissariat. He, therefore, wished to ask his noble Friend below him whether such a proposal had the sanction and concurrence of the Master General of the Ordnance?—for he believed that the Master General of the Ordnance and himself were of the same opinion—that if the troops in this country were to be supplied by contract, they could not be better supplied than by the Ordnance contracts; but that if they were not to be supplied by contract, the plan which had been tried, of allowing them to supply themselves, had succeeded admirably, both in Ireland and in the case of the Guards in London; and, some two hours before his noble Friend (Lord Raglan) had left the House, he told him (Lord Panmure) that the Duke of Wellington himself had made propositions to Mr. Huskisson, in which, so far from advocating the necessity of keeping up a Commissariat for the Colonies, or even for 664 the military stations in the Mediterranean, he suggested that the troops should be permitted to purchase their provisions for themselves. The Duke of Wellington's faith in the utility of a Commissariat was not so firm and strong as to enable any one to quote his authority for the maintenance of that department. But he (Lord Panmure) had no objection to maintain that department as a sort of nucleus to which they could refer in time of war, in order to get persons who, if they had not been accustomed to gather in great supplies for large bodies of men, had been accustomed to manage business of that description on a smaller scale; but whenever a Commissariat did exist, it was his unhesitating opinion that it was essential it should be under the direction of the Secretary at War. What was the result of the Treasury managing this matter? Under the present circumstances the ordinary expenditure was made by an officer of the Commissariat, and the Treasury was obliged to send both to the Secretary at War and the Commissariat Office to have that expenditure explained. If they inquired into the work done at the Treasury, he believed they would find there was quite enough to do in that department, without their being burdened with the control of a large and increasing department like the Commissariat. The Treasury had lately taken upon themselves a duty which would prove somewhat onerous, and which, in his opinion, would demand more time and attention on the part of the Treasury than they would be able to give. Some years ago a proposition was made in the House of Commons that the whole gross revenue of the country should be paid into the Treasury, without any deduction being made for the administration of the different departments and the collection of the revenue. The Government had proceeded to carry that recommendation into effect; and one of the first results was that they were obliged to take from the Paymaster General's office one of the very best men in that department, and give him another appointment in the Treasury, in order to carry the new system into effect. He was quite sure that the department, of which his noble Friend below him (the Earl of Aberdeen) was the head, would find that they had quite enough to do, without burdening themselves with the increasing department of the Commissariat, which properly belonged to another branch of the Administration. Whatever system 665 might be adopted, he hoped and trusted that steps would be taken to avoid those complaints which were made in the last war by the Duke of Wellington, who, while conducting the war abroad, constantly complained that his hands were paralysed by the conduct of the departments at home. He believed that if there had been one responsible Minister for carrying on the military administration in this country, such complaints never would have occurred. The Duke of Wellington was a very energetic man, and could act in the face of all difficulties. He had the heart to face anything, and a courage that would conduct him through what would have baffled other men. They were not likely soon to have such another man as the Duke of Wellington at the head of our Army; and he was quite sure that nothing could be more injurious, or tend more to destroy the self-reliance of a commander on foreign service, so much as the knowledge that there were half a dozen departments at home controlling his operations abroad, when he ought to be looking to one responsible Minister invested with authority to advise him, and who would stand by him in carrying that advice into execution. That was his firm opinion, and he believed the further they discussed this question the more convinced they would be that it was a sound one.
§ EARL GREY
, in reply, said, the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) had thought fit to read a portion of his (Earl Grey's) evidence given before the Committee of the House of Commons in 1850 in reference to this question, and to quote certain of his answers which seemed to imply that he did not consider the change he now proposed as at all necessary at that time. He must say, in answer to that statement, that he was sorry the noble Duke had not thought fit to read a few lines more of his evidence on that occasion, and one or two more of the answers he returned to the questions addressed to him, for, had he done so, it would have been made perfectly clear to their Lordships that the opinion he then stated to the Committee was precisely the same which he had that night expressed, that he was then as much convinced of the necessity of this change as he was now; but at that time there were professional objections to it so strong, that he felt, until public opinion was aroused upon the subject, that those objections could not be overruled. Nor did he see that, in a time of peace, it was one of those questions 666 which could be expected to exercise much pressure on public opinion; but he always foresaw that when a time of war arrived, the subject would be, in some way or other, forced upon the consideration of the Government. With respect to a remark which fell from the noble Lord near him (Viscount Hardinge), which seemed to infer that he (Earl Grey) had imputed blame to him—so far from intending anything disrespectful towards him or the Duke of Wellington, he (Earl Grey) expressly said he did not blame individuals in reference to the existing arrangements, for that the exertions of the best public servants must miscarry under such a system. He confessed all that he had heard in the course of this debate had given him very great satisfaction, because he was persuaded that, after the objections they had heard to the proposed alteration, the country would not be long satisfied with the present state of things. The noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) did not attempt to deal with the question of principle, but merely touched upon five or six unimportant points of detail. The noble Duke argued that all the particular evils and cases of mismanagement which he (Earl Grey) had pointed out had been corrected, and, therefore, that no change of system was necessary. No doubt the errors that had attracted attention had been corrected, but his objection to the existing system was that the abuses under it went on from year to year, without being detected, and because they were not detected, they were not corrected. What was the case with respect to the barracks in the Bahamas? It was not that the thing was unknown, for the medical officer had been reporting year after year in reference to the greatness of the evil; but year after year those reports had been put by, because they related to matters which belonged to another department; and until he (Earl Grey) had them dug out of the old rubbish, not one single step had been taken to redress the evils which they so undeniably pointed out. What he asserted was that we were continually detecting and remedying abuses, but allowed the system to continue the same, and that therefore the source of all these evils continued in existence. He thought, too, that in answering him on the particular cases of abuse to which he had adverted, the noble Duke had incidentally given rather a curious proof that under the existing system the Secretary of State for War and Colonies could not pos- 667 sibly give sufficient attention to all his duties. With reference to his (Earl Grey's) observations on the calamitous results of sending troops to Sierra Leone in 1825, when there were no barracks ready to receive them, the noble Duke had remarked that he believed that was the year in which Sir C. Macarthy was defeated and killed, and had asked whether he (Earl Grey) would contend that when such an emergency arose troops ought not to be sent until barracks could be provided for them? If the noble Duke's attention had not been absorbed by his duties as Minister for war, he would hardly have fallen into the mistake of supposing that the defeat of Sir C. Macarthy had anything to do with sending troops to Sierra Leone, for Sir C. Macarthy was defeated by the Ashantees, in the vicinity of Cape Coast Castle, at some hundreds of miles from Sierra Leone, and from the prevailing winds the communication between the two places, before steam navigation was introduced, was so slow and so difficult that there was scarcely any intercourse between them. The noble Duke boasted of the harmony which prevailed in the department over which he presided, and of the admirable manner in which all the arrangements for sending out the expeditionary force to the East had been conducted, he (Earl Grey) hoped that everything had been as well managed as the noble Duke had stated, and that this would be shown by the result; but the noble Duke should remember that the time for boasting was not when the harness was put on, but when it was taken off.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
I made no boast whatever of anything in which I was personally engaged. What I spoke of was the zealous co-operation that had always been shown by the different departments for the public service.
§ EARL GREY
The noble Duke may not call it boasting, but at all events he talked very much of the efficient and expeditious manner in which the arrangements for equipping and sending out the force ordered to the East had been completed, owing to the harmony which prevailed in the different departments. [The Duke of NEWCASTLE: Hear, hear!] Now, with regard to the statement that the present constitution of the Army departments had led to no difficulty or delay in making the recent military arrangements, he confessed that it would have been more satisfactory to him if, in eulogising generally all that has 668 been done, the noble Duke had been able to say that he (Earl Grey) had been misinformed) as to the only specific instance of reported mismanagement in this business to which he had adverted. He alluded to the great error which had been committed in crippling one of the Highland regiments by calling upon it to furnish volunteers for another, and then three weeks afterwards ordering the regiment of which the efficiency had thus been impaired to join the expeditionary force. The noble Duke had not denied that this blunder had been committed, and it was impossible for the House to feel sure that there might not have been others of the same kind. Then, again, with regard to the somewhat invidious manner in which the noble Duke had insisted on the harmony which now prevailed among the departments as if this had not been the case formerly, he must remind the noble Duke that he (Earl Grey) did not say himself one word with regard to differences of opinion and jealousies in the different departments, though he had quoted the report of Sir W. Gordon, made in 1810, from which it appeared that they were at that time complained of. At the same time he (Earl Grey) could not avoid observing that he regretted to hear the noble Duke say so much of the absence of all discussions between the departments, for he was quite sure, from his own experience, that the absence of such discussions implied the absence of attempts to introduce improvements into the public service, that there was nothing more easy than to avoid controversy if you were content to allow things in the departments to follow the beaten track. If their Lordships were content to do that—if they were content to go on year after year precisely in the way in which they had gone before, not attempting to discover errors or to suggest improvements which were necessary or desirable—he had not the slightest doubt that the public business might be conducted with that extreme harmony to which reference had been made by the noble Duke. At the same time he (Earl Grey) thought it right to say, in consequence of what had fallen from the noble Duke that in his own experience, far from having any complaint to make, he had uniformly found, among the heads of departments particularly, the most extreme desire to promote the public service, and to cooperate with each other in the most friendly spirit. But while this had always been the case, it was not the less true that 669 when improvements were proposed and changes in the existing practice, though the different departments were all co-operating in the most friendly spirit, they were necessarily compelled to consult those under them. That led to references and to re-references, and trifling differences of opinion, sometimes on matters of mere detail, which occasioned delay and difficulty in carrying on the public service. With respect to the question that had arisen in regard to the Commissariat, their Lordships must recollect that, although the Treasury might manage the Commissariat Department during a time of peace, the circumstances would be widely different in war. The noble Duke had admitted that there was no constitutional objection to the change of system which he (Earl Grey) had recommended; but he said there might be some difficulty in increasing the authority of the Secretary at War, because he was necessarily a Member of the House of Commons, and could not sit in their Lordship's House. This was no doubt true at present, when the principal duty of the Secretary at War was to move the Army Estimates in the House of Commons; but, if that department were re-constituted, care should be taken that the Minister should be capable of taking a seat in that House, and he might of course be represented in the other house in the same way in which the noble Duke the Secretary for the Colonies was now represented there. There could, however, be no doubt that the interference of the House of Commons with regard to the army had been productive of the greatest advantage, and they all knew how very much the condition of the soldier had been improved within the last half century. All the great improvements of the army had originated with the civil servants of the Crown, and those civil servants had generally been put in motion by the House of Commons. He could quote a hundred instances of great and necessary reforms which were due to the manner in which abuses had been brought forward in the House of Commons, and to which the civil Government had been obliged to attend. Instead, therefore, of believing that the House of Commons had interfered too much with the administration of the army, he only regretted that the attention of that House, as well as of their Lordships, had not been more constantly and more systematically directed to the subject.
§ On Question, agreed to.