HL Deb 03 August 1855 vol 139 cc1716-39

My Lords, I have now to move that this Bill, to give effect to a Convention between Her Majesty and the Emperor of the French, entered into for the purpose of guaranteeing a loan to he raised by the Turkish Government be now read a second time. This Bill, my Lords, has given rise to much discussion elsewhere, and objections have been raised against it which I must take the liberty of stating are, in my opinion, entirely unfounded. It is not my intention, on the present occasion, to enter into any lengthened defence of the Bill before your Lordships; but I hope in a few words to be able to show to you that it is neither an imprudent nor an unnecessary Bill, and that Her Majesty's Government in entering into the Convention referred to have done nothing more than act in perfect accordance with the general feeling of the country, which has been so frequently expressed in this and the other House of Parliament with respect to the present war—namely, that it should be carried on with the utmost vigour. England and France have made great efforts and great sacrifices in a war which they consider to be just and necessary, and which has been forced upon them by the ambitious policy and aggressive designs of Russia. Turkey upon her part, whose independence and integrity are not only threatened, but whose very existence as a nation is at stake, has also made a gallant stand against her enemy and has given proofs of vitality, and at the same time of devoted patriotism, which have astonished even those who had felt the greatest confidence in her power. But those efforts, by which Turkey has been enabled to collect together and to maintain in the field an army of upwards of 180,000 men, have been attended with its inevitable results, and Turkey, like England and France, but not sooner than they, has found it impossible, out of her ordinary revenue, to provide sufficient funds for the great struggle in which she is engaged, and the constantly increasing demand upon her resources. The Turkish Government have therefore decided upon doing that which, except upon one occasion, they have never done before, namely, to raise money from foreign sources. In that instance, the Turkish Government acted in a manner which reflects the highest credit and honour upon them. They did not appeal to the generosity of their allies—they asked neither for loan nor subsidy; and although well aware that it would involve a great pecuniary sacrifice, they determined to raise the additional resource upon their own credit; all that the Turkish Government asked of England and France was to certify, upon official information to be derived from Constantinople, that the agents sent to this country by the Sultan's Government were authorised to raise the loan. The Turkish Government proposed to raise a loan of 5,000,000l. The terms upon which a former loan of 3,000,000l. was raised, gave the Turkish Government, after deductions for commission and other charges, a net sum of only about 2,400,000l. and after the repayment of advances made by the French Government, Turkey received only 1,800,000l. When this sum was expended it became necessary to raise the remainder of the loan; but we found upon inquiry that it would be impossible to raise it upon terms at all adequate to meet the necessities of Turkey; and it is in order to enable the Turkish Government to become a more efficient ally for ourselves, to fortify her garrisons, and to keep her arsenals and dockyards well stored, that the French and English Governments have agreed to the Convention to which it is the object of this Bill to give effect. These were the considerations which actuated Her Majesty's Government to make the proposal which has been embodied in the Convention when the Turkish proposition was laid before them. It was not simply out of sympathy to Turkey for the efforts she had gallantly made in her own defence, nor because her cause was our cause; but we ourselves had to consider that while England and France with their armies and fleets were fighting the battles of Turkey it was necessary that she also should bear an efficient part in the contest herself, and that we could not afford that Turkey should remain paralysed by our side, useless, and even the cause of danger to us, as she would be if she could not effectually protect her frontiers and guard her fortresses from the want of an organised army. This army she could not organise and support by herself for want of means, and Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the Emperor of the French accordingly thought that it would not only be an ungenerous, but an unwise and short-sighted policy, to refuse to Turkey the benefit of their credit, by means of which she could obtain money upon advantageous terms. I know that many objections have been taken to the mode of proceeding which has been adopted. Some persons have thought that we should give no pecuniary assistance to Turkey, and that if we did give assistance it should be in the form of a direct subsidy; and a good deal of ingenuity has been displayed to point out the quarrels which would inevitably arise between England and France from the mode of guarantee adopted; and indeed, it is clear from these discussions, that whatever course Her Majesty's Government had taken fault would have been found with it in one quarter or the other. I do not mean to deny that the more preferable and simple method would have been that which Her Majesty's Government originally proposed, to the effect that each of the Powers should guarantee one half of the loan. But the French Government having represented the various reasons which they had for a joint guarantee, Her Majesty's Government thought it not right, nor friendly, nor necessary to insist upon their original proposition. The liability of both the Powers is therefore joint, and I am afraid I must say that some of the objections which are taken to this form appear to me to be founded upon doubts of the honour and good faith of France, and some remarks were made depreciatory of the probable conduct of the French Government in respect to their share of this loan. But upon the question of any doubt as to the honour and good faith of the French Government I consider it unnecessary to make any remark, and still more so when I recollect, and your Lordships also will recollect, that for more than two years, upon all the great questions which have agitated the public mind, which have involved the highest European interests, as well as the vital interests of England, we have cordially and implicitly placed confidence in, and have had reason to rely upon, the honour and confidence of the French Government. I am almost ashamed even to allude to the quibbles which it has been stated the Government of France might make use of in order to evade her share of the responsibility attaching to this guarantee. I trust your Lordships will be of opinion that this Convention furnishes ample security for the repayment of half the loan, should the liability ever fall on us in consequence of the failure of Turkey to meet her obligations. It is proposed, in order to make the obligations of the two countries more clear, that the bonds shall be signed by Commissioners from the Governments of England and France, and that these bonds shall recite the laws by which each Government has been empowered to guarantee the loan. The contingency of the fulfilment of the guarantee falling upon England and France will not, however, I believe, occur. No one will deny that the Turkish Government and people have always been actuated in their financial engagements by a high sense of honour, and that she has faithfully performed all the national obligations into which she has entered; and it must also be remembered that the Turkish Government, unlike most European Governments, has no foreign debt, except that which has recently been contracted in this country. It has also no interior debt, with the exception of the paper money which circulates only in Constantinople, and the liabilities for which do not, I believe, exceed 500,000l. The revenue hypothecated for the payment of the interest on the loan is also amply sufficient for the purpose. The Egyptian tribute amounts to 280,000l.; that is to be sent direct to this country. Of this tribute, 210,000l. are already pledged to the payment of the loan recently contracted, leaving 70,000l. available for the new loan. The net produce of the Customs of Smyrna and Samsoon amount to 180,000l., and those of Syria, after making all deductions, to 100,000l.; this, with the balance of the Egyptian tribute, makes a sum of 350,000l. which is fully sufficient for the purposes of this Convention. Of course your Lordships would desire to be assured that the proceeds of the loan would be applied exclusively to the purposes of the war, though, no doubt, you would be of opinion that it would not be desirable that anything on that subject should appear on the face of the Convention. It will be satisfactory, however, to your Lordships to know that the Turkish Government take precisely the same view as Her Majesty's Government of the absolute necessity of the whole proceeds of this loan being applied solely and exclusively to war purposes, and are perfectly willing to accept from England and France assistance for regulating and controlling the military expenditure of the sum now about to be raised.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


My Lords, I learn for the first time from the speech of the noble Earl that any person objecting to this Bill has impugned the good faith and honour of the French Government. I was not aware that any argument against the Bill upon that ground had been adduced by any one.


I merely said, that some of the objections raised to the form of the guarantee appeared to point to such an opinion.


This is the first time I have heard that the smallest doubt of the honour and good faith of the French Government had been entertained by any one. I entirely dissent from the opinion of the noble Earl, and contend that the opposition which the Bill encountered in another place originated in a spirit of friendliness towards France, and in a desire to maintain intact, and in full force, the good understanding existing between the two countries. I believe there were those among the opponents of the Bill who are avowedly against giving Turkey assistance for the purposes of war, but there were none among the opponents of the Bill who desired to cast any suspicion on the good faith of the French Government. My Lords, for myself, I have no doubt of the honour and good faith of the present Government of France, and I will say that no one can feel more strongly than myself the necessity of giving financial assistance to Turkey in this war. I do not feel or express this opinion now for the first time; for it is sixteen months since I privately suggested to the Duke of Newcastle that pecuniary aid should be given to Turkey, especially for the purpose of putting in movement troops in the neighbourhood of Erzeroum. I felt that there was no object more important for this country than the giving of pecuniary assistance to Turkey to enable her to utilize her own resources and to put her army into a condition to oc- cupy the field, and to defend her fortresses. I am not hostile to the principle of subsidies. On the contrary, I think that the principle of subsidies is unobjectionable, and it is to the occasional misapplication of the principle that just objection is taken. What, then, is the principle of subsidies? The principle, as I understand it, is, that it is expedient for us to put in motion by giving pecuniary assistance, a very much larger force, composed of the natives of the country with whom we are allied, and a much more effective force, than by the same pecuniary means we could employ of our own. In that principle I see nothing objectionable. I am old enough to recollect when armies in Europe were maintained by means of subsidies, in 1814 and 1815, and without such aid it would have been impossible to obtain the assistance of those troops to effect the great objects which were required to he attained. I can recollect those subsidies being questioned in respect to their policy; but it is a matter of great doubt whether the objections taken were well founded; and it seems to me to be beyond doubt that the emancipation of Europe was owing in a great measure to the subsidies granted towards the conclusion of the last war. With regard to Turkey, it appears to me that it was not only desirable from the first to give financial assistance to that country, but that it is especially important to do so at the present moment; for it is impossible not to feel that we are placed now altogether in a different position by the recent defection of Austria. It is of the greatest possible importance that we should enable Turkey to form a disciplined army. It is of the greatest possible importance that we should enable her to fortify the Bosphorus and Constantinople. To that object I attach the highest importance. In making another Sebastopol of Constantinople we should afford a much greater security for the independence of Turkey against Russian aggression than any that could be provided by any probable settlement of the third point. If, in addition to fortifying the Bosphorus and Constantinople, we place at the disposal of the Turkish Government a numerous and well disciplined and well equipped Turkish army, the Turkish question is settled, and we need not be under any apprehension with respect to Turkey from Russian aggression. I feel satisfied in my own mind that if there be a chance of the resuscitation of the Turkish Empire, it is through the army, and the army alone, that that object is to be accomplished. It is very well to talk of civil reforms in Turkey; but the great reform required for Turkey is military reform. Create a soldiery, establish the dignity of the military character, and, depend upon it, you then would have a greater security than you have ever had yet, and such as you can never otherwise obtain, for the institution of good civil government in Turkey. There is this great difference between a subsidy and a loan—that, though both give equal support for the present, a loan has an effect upon the future. Now, what we should do is, not to give Turkey protection for the present only, but to impart to her intrinsic strength to enable her to protect herself for the future. The present loan, however, is not the only loan which will be required; other loans must follow, and if continual assistance is to be given to Turkey on the same principle, if every year another and another portion of her revenue is to be severed from her—if we go on constantly anticipating her resources, we may no doubt by the expenditure of great sums strengthen her for the present, but in the same proportion we weaken her for the future—we create for her, and for Europe and ourselves, new difficulties and dangers; and therefore it is that I greatly prefer a subsidy to a loan; because the former is a direct, obvious, and intelligible proceeding, and because I cannot entertain the hope that Turkey will be able permanently to defray the interest of this loan. There is this great advantage, too, in a subsidy, that when you give money you may see to its application, and though I do not mean to cast any doubts on the intentions of the Turkish Government, yet, whatever may be their promises, they are surrounded by persons so actuated by a spirit of avarice and peculation, that, to suppose this sum would be really and honestly applied without peculation to the purposes of the war alone, is to suppose a thing almost beyond hope. Seeing, then, the difficulties and objections attending on the particular mode in which it is proposed to give this pecuniary assistance to Turkey, I undoubtedly, if I had been a Member of the House of Commons, should have voted in the minority on the Bill, and I should have done so without the slightest apprehension of disturbing the good understanding existing between England and France, for I should have placed reliance on the good sense of the Emperor of the French. I know he is as well acquainted with the peculiar working of our constitution as we are ourselves, and perhaps better than some of us, and he would clearly have understood that the opposition to the measure was not founded on any hostility to the continuance or vigorous prosecution of the war, but on a ground of which he must have felt the weight and importance himself—namely, the possibility in future times of the arrangement creating difficulties between this country and France. It is not only a good understanding with the present French Government that we have to consider. This loan must remain in operation, even if the sinking fund be regularly paid, for forty years. We have to provide for all that time at least; and in the course of the last forty years there have been in France four dynasties and one republic. In the last twenty-eight years there have been in this country thirteen Governments (to ten of which, by the by, Lord Palmerston has belonged), and I do not know how many more there may be before the next three years are over. There may be, then, some ground for apprehension, when we are exposed to the chance of such a variety of Governments, that there may not always be the same conformity of views in reference to acting under this treaty. If I wished to divide two dear friends or brothers, I could not devise a more certain mode of doing so than by inducing them to become joint guarantees of a loan raised by a man not likely to pay. During the course of their lifetime disputes would most probably arise, and though their brotherly friendship and devotion to each other might prevent differences, what security is there that in the case of their sons or grandsons the disputes arising from such a guarantee would be conducted without rancour and bitterness. I do not like the terms in which this treaty is framed, and, above all, I do not like the special reference to the branch of the revenues of Egypt and Syria; I would rather that the security should depend on the general revenue of Turkey, than that reference should be made to the specific revenue of these two countries. But this treaty points to a peculiar security:—now, every one knows that Egypt is a country the very mention of which excites feelings of jealousy of a peculiar character, not with Frenchmen only, but with Englishmen also; I, therefore, deeply regret the mention of that country in the treaty. But this is a separate as well as a joint guarantee; and let us see what may be the result of such a compact. If it be a separate as well as a joint obligation, there must be also separate as well as joint rights. If Turkey should fail in paying, it is not the two countries only conjointly that can serve her with a summons to pay or threaten her with measures of compulsion; but each State reserves to herself a separate right of action. If Turkey fails, we should pay the interest in the first instance, and then France will honestly repay us—of that I have no doubt;—but France might then go to Turkey, and say, "I am injured by your defalcation, and I desire that you shall repay me, or, if not, I shall take care to secure the revenues of Egypt and Syria, and shall begin by taking possession of one or both countries for the purpose of controlling the payment of these revenues." That is a contingency which may not and will not occur now, but then we are legislating for at least forty years to come. Already I look with dread to this arrangement, which is only a precedent for other arrangements that must be adopted in subsequent years—arrangements that may involve Turkey in future weakness, and may lead to serious disagreements on the most tender and delicate points between this country and France. My Lords, I have already stated that I thought the defection of Austria made the case very much stronger for assisting Turkey at the present moment, and I must shortly detain your Lordships to consider some questions relative to the policy and conduct of Austria, that I think of no little interest. My Lords, it is very remarkable that from the commencement of the difficulties between Turkey and Russia, from the commencement of the interference of the allies between these two Powers, there has been a constant tendency to approximation between the relations of Austria and the allies up to the signature of the treaty of the 2nd of December; but from that period, or shortly subsequent to the 2nd of December, there has been a similar tendency to divergence between the relations of Austria and those of the allies. So great a change must have had some cause; and what was that cause? When Austria signed the treaty of the 2nd of December, she was perfectly well acquainted with all the difficulties which surrounded the British and French arms in the Crimea. She knew of Balaklava and Inkerman—of the hurricane of the 14th November and of the horrors which would attend a winter in the Crimea—she knew well when the treaty of December was signed that our military affairs in the Crimea were at the very worst. From that moment till now they have been, generally speaking, improving—although, as I shall show your Lordships, that improvement has not been so great as the country had a right to expect; yet, during that period, there has been a constant increase of the divergence of Austria from the cause of the allies. From the moment when we had a right to expect that Austria would have been one at heart with us, from that moment we experienced a contrary feeling. That cannot have arisen from any discovery Austria may have made of her financial difficulties. Count Buol knew as well on the 2nd of December the financial difficulties of the Austrian empire as he did subsequently; he knew also the amount of its army, and that that army must be maintained at the same point for a considerable period; and it was under a knowledge of these things that the treaty of the 2nd of December was signed. There has been no change of Government in Austria; there has been no change in the Foreign Minister of this country, and there is no reason to suppose that the noble Lord opposite has not, since the 2nd of December, conducted the affairs of the Foreign Office with the same ability and zeal that have distinguished his tenure of office throughout. Financial considerations cannot, therefore, have been the reason of the change in the policy of Austria. What, then, was the cause of this change? Is it that Austria thought she had obtained all that was necessary for her own interests and those of the German States associated with her, in the concession by Russia of the first and second points at the Conferences at Vienna? If so, the decision at which they have arrived must have been founded on the most shallow grounds, which it is possible to conceive. Of this I am satisfied, that till the Principalities are made perfectly neutral States, Germany has not obtained all the advantages which she could obtain from a diplomatic settlement of the question; and I am certain also, that until a narrow strip of territory upon the north bank of the Danube be separated from Russia, she will not have obtained the security for herself and for German interests which is indispensably necessary for her safety and future prosperity. But, my Lords, cannot these statesmen, who are always talking and writing, but never acting, see that it was really the third point which was required to be conceded in order to secure the other two. I trust that these Governments will at some time, and that before long, recover something of that understanding for which the great German Empire was once famed, and feel something of that military ardour which animated them in former times, and not allow themselves to be surrounded, like a fly in the toils of the spider, disgraced while it is devoured. I have already alluded to the improved condition of our army; I cannot help stating my conviction, that the state of our army is not yet satisfactory. There has been a pulling down and subsequent reconstruction of our War Department. Without knowing the minute details of this alteration, I think it would have been, much wiser, during the war, to have confined ourselves to giving the Secretary at War absolute authority over subordinate departments, to apply a remedy where obvious abuses existed, and to have rested satisfied with that without proceeding to make extensive and material alterations in several departments of the army. This is the course which has always been adopted in India with great success. The Governor General there has the entire army in his own hands. I will call the attention of the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Canning) the future Governor General of India, to this as a matter well worthy of his serious attention. The head of the Government in India has entire power and authority in all matters relating to war. His order runs through all the departments, and is implicitly obeyed. This has been found perfectly sufficient. No one thinks of opposing him—the order of the Governor General being issued in the name of the State—and the manner in which those wars has been conducted has invariably been conducive to success. There appear to me to be many difficulties connected with the new arrangements in the War Department. The Secretary for War has now accumulated on his shoulders all the duties of the Secretary at War, the Commissary General, and the Master General of the Ordnance. Then, as to the Clerk of the Ordnance, it is idle to suppose that Mr. Monsell, or any probable Clerk of the Ordnance who is is not a military man, can rightly control all the military science and art that come within his province. It is contrary to rea- son to suppose that Mr. F. Peel, clever though he may be for what I know, is a person to whom the Secretary for War can apply for advice in any great military operation. The Under-Secretary ship of the War Department is held by a civilian. Wherever the Secretary for War looks there is no one military man, except the Commander in Chief, and he is an opposition rather than a concurrent authority, to whom to apply for an official and confidential opinion on any military operation. There have been great deficiencies, too, in respect to the conduct of the war in many respects, and not the least of these has been the neglect of proper means for the recruiting of the army. By the economical, but niggardly, course which has been adopted by the Government, the services of thousands of men from the militia have been practically lost to the country. The noble Lord (Lord Panmure), at a very early period, issued a notice to the militia which, under the circumstances, could not be avoided, but he accompanied it with so niggardly a proposition to the men to reattest that he has probably lost many thousands of militiamen by that one unfortunate act of bad economy. I see that a Vote of 139,000l. has been taken for disembodied militia. What is the use of a militia at the present moment unless it is embodied? Mr. Sidney Herbert said, with the most perfect truth, that until militia regiments were embodied there was no probability of any great number of recruits being obtained from them, and the more useful recruits are certainly obtained from regiments embodied than from regiments in a disembodied state. We have to-day a Bill upon the table to suspend the ballot of the militia, but no means of applying fiscal coercion, which has been found effective in former times, are adopted. We have the original bounty adhered to, and the consequence is, that the ranks of the militia are not nearly full. What has the noble Lord done with respect to the regular army? He came down here one evening and announced, as if the thought had suddenly struck him, his determination to give a prospective shilling, which was to be put into a savings' bank, and handed over, with accumulations, to the soldier when he retired from the service, and we were led to believe that at an early period there would be a proclamation of Her Majesty to make it known to the army. But a few days afterwards, having communicated the matter, I suppose, to his colleagues, who possibly were of a different opinion, he came down to the House, he threw over altogether the prospective shilling, and he gave a present sixpence— that is, he said he would, but up to the present time I have not seen any official notification that even the sixpence will be given; and I know no paymaster will pay sixpence on a speech of the noble Lord. It must be something more effective than a speech of the noble Lord to justify even that small outlay, and I apprehend, up to the present moment the sixpence has not been officially granted. That is a very serious thing. There is a great difference between an offer and a promise. It was an offer to the militiaman—it was a promise to the troops in the Crimea. The prospective shilling and the present sixpence were equally promised to the troops in the Crimea, but I understand nothing has been done officially to fulfil that promise—no vote certainly has been taken for it in the House of Commons. There are other things of importance besides the question of finding men for the ranks of the army. The questions of greater importance are, where the army shall be placed, how it shall be equipped, when it shall be moved, and where it shall be moved? I have, from the very first, earnestly, but fruitlessly, endeavoured to impress upon Her Majesty's Government and the House the necessity of attending to the war in Asia. When news arrived last year of the defeat of the Turks, in front of Kars, General Williams was sent out, and he has now with him three officers, and but three officers. That, I believe, is the only assistance which has been given in Asia; and those officers are obliged to work all day, overlooking the fortifications, and to go out all night to the outposts, because there are no persons on whom they can rely for the performance of those important duties. I say that is a great neglect. It is a neglect of the interests of Turkey and of the allies, for you may depend upon it, if once Russia is in possession of Erzeroum she will hold that place, and Turkey in Asia and Persia also will be at her command, and she will have gained as much as she will have lost if you should capture Sebastopol. Moreover, my Lords, there was a Turkish army in the Principalities in an effective state, with ample cavalry and means of moving, under the command of Omar Pacha. That army detained upon the Pruth a large Russian army. We transported that army into the Crimea, where it is almost utterly useless. It cannot move, and all armies that cannot move are useless and worse than useless—they are but idle garrisons. Of that great army 35,000 men are at Eupatoria, watched by 2,000 cavalry. Even if they had the means of moving they would not be as efficient as where they were before, and would not occupy a force half so large as if they were placed on the Pruth. Observe, my Lords, the serious consequence of the defection of Austria. The Pruth would give us a most convenient line of operations if we could rely on the friendship of Austria, but this defection of Austria deprives us of that advantage. And now, what is the condition of the army before Sebastopol? All that the noble Lord does is to send in detachments, one after another, all the raw recruits that he can raise, to add to the number of troops in front of Sebastopol. The army in front of Sebastopol at the present moment, if it took the field, and had the means of movement, would beat any army which Russia or all the Powers of Europe could bring against it; there is nothing that could resist an army of 170,000 men so composed as that is; and it would be capable, whence once in the field, of obtaining the assistance of the 35,000 Turks at Eupatoria. There are 200,000 men, or a larger army than was ever engaged in any battle, not merely in the memory of man, but, unless we believe the extravagant legends of antiquity, than in any battle even of antiquity—there are 200,000 of the finest and bravest troops, stimulated to the highest pitch by national rivalry, utterly lost where they are. They are unable to move. They are shut up in front of Sebastopol. From six weeks to six weeks there is a bombardment, followed, I regret to say, generally, by some fatal assault. The progress made is little, and no one at the present moment can reasonably look forward to anything but the continuance of that army in the Crimea during another winter, re infectâ, and that, too, at the end of sixteen months' operations, and an enormous expenditure of blood and treasure. I look with apprehension at these things as affecting our military reputation and the prospects of the war, and as affecting, at no great distance of time, the public feeling in this country, and the position of all men engaged in the management of public affairs. When we meet in November we may possibly again see the noble Lords opposite occupying those benches; but un- less there be a very material change in our military prospects at that time, you—the Members of the Government—may depend upon it that the very first operation of the House of Commons will be to put you out, as it put out Lord Aberdeen. But by whom will you be succeeded? Up to the present time the people of this country have shown the most admirable spirit, the most admirable constancy, in bearing the necessary burdens and sufferings imposed by this war upon them. Their conduct has been far beyond hope, and is beyond all praise. But it is unreasonable to expect from the people of this country perseverance under continued and unmerited disappointment; and we may confidently predict that the successors of the noble Lords opposite will not be men selected in the hope that they can carry on the war better, but men to make a peace, which, after an ill-conducted war, must be insecure, and may be disgraceful.


My Lords, after the speech of the noble Earl, and the reference he has made to the army before Sebastopol—remarks for which I must say I was scarcely prepared—I feel bound, in one or two sentences to notice the observations which have fallen from the noble Earl. I will not follow the noble Earl in what he has said of the policy of the particular measure to which he first addressed himself. In many of these remarks I entirely concur; but there are some from which I must take the liberty of differing, and particularly that in which the noble Earl stated that he had learned to-night for the first time that, in discussing this matter in another place, doubts had been thrown upon the good faith of France. The noble Earl stated that, although some improvement had taken place in the condition of the army before Sebastopol since last November, yet that it was not in so satisfactory a condition as he could wish it to be, either in respect to the state of the army or with respect to its position. The noble Earl has also stated that the militia has been improperly managed. He complains that there is a Bill on the table for suspending the compulsory powers of raising the militia, and he says, that by the niggardly course pursued by me in re-attesting the militia many thousands have been lost to the ranks. It is quite true that, owing to the unfortunate discussions in this House, many of the militia—I will not say many thousands, but some thousands—were lost for a time to the service of the country. But the services of these men are not entirely lost, for they are still bound to serve for fifty-six days next year, and they are, therefore, still available for the ranks of the Queen's army; and many of them, notwithstanding that they have now repaired to their homes, will, I hope, be induced to join the Queen's service in the course of that time. With regard to the recruiting for the Queen's army, I may be permitted to say that, considering the state of wages and of employment in this country, the spirit of the youth is beyond all praise in joining the Queen's service. Recruiting for the Queen's army is now going on at the rate of 60,000 men per annum—a number far exceeding anything to which we attained in the last war, and attained, too, without any compulsory enlistment whatever, the ballot for the militia never having been yet put into force. For myself, I should be very sorry to see the ballot put into force. I think that such a measure, instead of giving vigour to the desire of the youth of this country to engage in the service of the Queen, would have had a directly contrary effect. I would rather encourage the voluntary efforts of the country by all the means in our power than resort to compulsory means of enlistment either for the army or navy. But the position of the army before Sebastopol is not what the noble Earl has stated. The noble Earl says he has, on former occasions, urged the inexpediency of placing our army where it is. That, of course, is matter of opinion, but I think that the army of France and of England being where it is, it would be inconsistent with the honour of England and of France, if, before that fortress has yielded to their arms, they were to leave their position. It requires a very strong army to conduct that siege, and another strong army to conduct those external field operations which the noble Earl has pointed out. It requires, above all, great caution and great prudence in moving an army in the Crimea, where, if you have all the means of land transport, the circumstances of the locality with regard to the supply of water and forage render it extremely difficult to procure these indispensable articles; but, although the means of transport of the army are in a greatly improved condition, I very much doubt whether, upon the whole, on the system observed in these modern days of carrying the number of comforts that are expected to be carried with troops, we should ever be able to move a large army, with the means of sustaining, not only the army itself, but the very great company which attends it, by means of its transport corps. These are questions of doubt, and it may be of difficulty. Be this as it may, however, if it should be resolved that that army shall take the field, I am confident that we shall be able to move it with far less difficulty than we could have done some time ago, and that we can certainly move it with far more convenience both to itself and the public service than in any former time. My Lords, in reference to the position of affairs in Asia, I must say that I regret this as much as the noble Earl. But Turkey is in that quarter able to maintain herself against her enemy, and I should have some hesitation, considering the difficulties to which I should expose Her Majesty's troops, in placing them in that part of Asia where the Russian troops now are. The noble Earl has threatened Her Majesty's Ministers in the month of November with a visitation of public opinion. Whenever that visitation of public opinion shall come I shall endeavour to meet it, feeling certain in my own conscience that I have done all that lies in me in protecting the forces of Her Majesty in the arduous services in which they are engaged, by looking forward to secure that, if they are fated to remain another winter on the shores of the Crimea, they shall escape many of those difficulties which were unavoidably incidental to the first winter spent in camp, by collecting as far as possible all the supplies which the army may require, such as food for the men, forage for the horses, and other provisions of every kind. I shall, therefore, be prepared to meet that visitation of public opinion, if it should come, with the full consciousness of having done all that I am able to do at present. But, my Lords, the noble Earl has said that in the administration of the War Department, Her Majesty's Government has thrown too much upon the Secretary of State for War, and he points out that this has been an improper period at which to remodel that War Department. To a certain extent the noble Earl is no doubt right, but in other respects the opposite course would have been not less objectionable. It is beyond all doubt that, in so far as those departments are concerned to which we had to look for the supply of the great military stores that might be required, they were in a very faulty and inefficient condition. I must say that the details of deficiencies in the military stores might have been alarming had I not been able to place in the department of the Ordnance men by whom all difficulties have been cleared away, and by whose skill and industry I can state, without contradiction, this country has been placed in a position to supply all the materials of war in a manner that removes all anxiety I might have felt on that head. It may be difficult and arduous to conduct two such departments as those of War and the Ordnance together, but I feel that in all the departments of the Ordnance I have military men under me upon whose skill, ability, and industry I can rely, and from whom I can derive all the information I require. When I state that in matters regarding fortification I can refer to Sir J. Burgoyne, that in matters relative to artillery I can refer to General Cator, and that I have also the benefit of the services of other officers of distinction, I think I am justified in carrying on the Administration of the department in full reliance upon those who are under me. It is quite evident that the reform of the military departments must be a work of time; but I believe that if, in consequence of the influence of any change in public opinion, it should be my fate to hand over to the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) the War Department of this country, I should leave him sufficient information for his guidance upon all matters of detail, both with regard to the financial Administration of the army, and to the Administration of those departments which provide the material of the army, and which furnish supplies by means of the Commissariat. With regard to the extra allowance to which the noble Earl referred, I may state that no proclamation is required to give effect to it; that field allowance can be granted simply by means of a Royal warrant, giving to the men, that which, under a Royal warrant, officers now enjoy. The warrant will be submitted to Her Majesty for signature in a day or two, and will take effect from the 1st of July. It will be announced to the army after it has received the signature of Her Majesty, and I know it will be accepted by them, and I believe it will also be regarded by the public, as a fair recognition of the services of those brave men in the field, and as a just reward for the willingness and courage with which they have suffered the hardships and encountered the dangers to which they have been exposed.


said, there was one feature in the debates on this subject to which he could not help adverting. There had been a disposition on the part of the Government, both in their Lordships' House, and in another place, to throw upon some party (it was not clear upon whom) of those who were opposed to them the odium of an exhibition of want of confidence in the faith and honour of our great ally. A more serious imputation could hardly be thrown out, and it was one which he (the Earl of Hardwicke), upon the part of those with whom he acted, repudiated in the strongest possible way. Of all nations upon earth, the French were, perhaps, the most chivalrous, and the least likely to palter with good faith and honour. But in all monetary transactions between man and man, or between nation and nation, it was not a matter of honour, but of business; and it was usual, setting all considerations of that kind aside, to treat it as a matter of business so far as regarded the securities or guarantees to be given on the one side or the other for the fulfilment of their engagements, and it was on that ground only that the mode in which the agreement with France was entered into that had been questioned, and it should be recollected that the measure involved this country in pecuniary liabilities which might last for forty years. The noble Earl (the Earl of Ellen-borough) had spoken of the condition of the army and the manner in which the war was conducted, and had said much in which he (the Earl of Hardwicke) heartily concurred, and which, therefore, it was unnecessary to repeat. The noble Earl had very truly said, that in which he (the Earl of Hardwicke) particularly agreed, that it was a great misfortune we should have attempted to take Sebastopol at Sebastopol. We should have taken Sebastopol by taking the Crimea—the one would have been the necessary consequence of the other. But, as it was, he (the Earl of Hardwicke) had given his best attention to the war; and especially that portion of it in which, as a naval man, he might naturally be expected most to understand—its maritime operations; and he must say, as he had asserted from the outset, that there had been in those operations a want of that activity and earnestness which might have been expected from a great maritime Power. He knew that as to the officers in the command of the fleets, or of the ships which composed them, there was no fault to be found either with their knowledge, their courage, or their skill; and, therefore, he was obliged to conclude that the mode in which the operations had been conducted must be attributed to orders received from some other quarters; and that the commanders had not been free to conduct the war in the way in which they thought fit. ["Oh, oh!"] The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) cries "Oh, oh!" Does the noble Duke feel the force of my remarks? I believe they are founded on truth, and I assure your Lordships that they are not made from party spirit. Why, the other day there was an expedition to the Sea of Azoff, which he (the Earl of Hardwicke) had often suggested, and 16,000 men were detached to take Kertch, an operation which was conducted with the greatest vigour and with perfect success. But no sooner had we knocked our man down than we set him up again! The operations seemed to have been all at once brought to a dead stand-still; the expedition returned to Sebastopol, and no more was heard of any expedition to the Sea of Azoff. [Viscount CANNING: It was all done.] The noble Lord the Postmaster General says it was all done. My Lords, I say it was not all done. There is a great deal more to be done there. Why did not the gunboats and launches enter that sea in which it was believed that there was a considerable Russian flotilla. But nothing had been heard of any further operations, and the troops were brought back to Sebastopol. It would have been, again, a great advantage for a naval force to have moved about the Russian coasts, creating diversions at Odessa or Kaffa. He could not understand why the fleet, which had the means of embarking and disembarking large bodies of men, was allowed to remain inactive before Sebastopol instead of at least distracting the attention of the enemy by menacing and molesting his coasts. Time had been given to the enemy to put Odessa in a position to resist any attack, and not even a reconnaissance had been made of Nicholaieff and its ship-building yards. Not long ago something was heard of our ships having shelled Sebastopol at night, but nothing more had been done in that way, yet it was a service which could be performed very easily by our fleet at night; and 13-inch mortars could be used at sea with more effect than on land. We might have employed our old colliers in this service, and sent a hundred of them, each with a 13-inch mortar, to shell the town at night. Such were some of the shortcomings of our naval service in the Black Sea. In the Baltic he (the Earl of Hardwicke) had never thought that any great maritime operations could be attempted with success against the principal strongholds of Russia? But after having fitted out (or talked of fitting out) a considerable flotilla of gunboats and large mortar-boats, with a view to attacks upon the Russian fortresses, we have not yet heard even of the common guerilla warfare against various points on the enemy's coasts for which such a force was adapted. The people of this country were led to expect great things in the Baltic. The Government had dismissed their admirals, too—dismissed them one day, and decorated them the next—and had appointed a new set of commanders; for what purpose? The public believed that a change of commanders meant a change of measures, and that great things were to be done. But whatever might be done in the next month, up to this time nothing had been done. Under these circumstances the Government must expect people to be discontented. The public had been led to expect a great deal, and had been disappointed. Were they to continue to be disappointed? Well as they had hitherto behaved, if they were to continue to be disappointed it could not be expected that they would cheerfully continue to pay taxes and support a Government whose measures only resulted in failure. Hopes had been raised by large and expensive armaments; not long since some iron-sided batteries, which were to grind the Russian fortresses to powder, had been fitted out at great expense; but they had proved utter failures as sea-going vessels, quite dangerous to manage, and the utmost that could be hoped now was that they might reach the Baltic Sea. A large sum had been expended, public expectations had been raised to a high pitch, and they had been disppointed. It would have been better had the Government taken some distinct course, and not expended large sums of public money on vessels which only rendered us ridiculous. Let our naval operations be conduted on some distinct and consistent plan, for which our ships should be adapted. If a blockade was all that was intended, and we were only to fight the Russian fleet when it quitted its strongholds, our expeditions should be fitted expressly for that object, instead of wasting our money upon showy armaments that were really worthless. Such a system the country could understand and appreciate. In the Baltic it might be advisable to confine ourselves to blockading the enemy's larger ports, and carrying on a guerilla warfare upon his coasts. But in the Black Sea our navy might do much. In those waters there appeared to have been some unaccountable drag placed upon our commanders, rendering our fleet a mere blockading force before Sebastopol, and almost entirely useless for maritime operations.


My Lords, I for one have never doubted the perfect honesty with which the noble Earl who has just spoken always addresses the House; but, while I admit that it is not unnatural that he should embrace every opportunity of discussing our naval operations, and that the noble Earl near him (the Earl of Ellen-borough) should do the same with regard to the army, yet I must remind your Lordships that the Bill now before you has simply for its object to render some financial assistance to our ally, the Sultan of Turkey. I confess that I hardly think much good is derived from these desultory discussions of our military operations in this House. In the first place, they involve many points into which it is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to enter. The noble Earl asks a series of questions, why certain things were not done, and why others were done. To some of these questions I have a perfect answer, but that answer it would not be prudent to give; to others I have not the least idea what reply should be made, except that I have a firm conviction that good reasons exist for the course that has been pursued, and that it is not any want of energy, courage, or foresight, that prevents Admirals Dundas and Sir Edmund Lyons from taking the particular measures referred to. When, however, the noble Earl (the Earl of Hardwicke) darkly alludes to certain mysterious impediments, which he thinks have been thrown in the way of these gallant commanders doing what he himself boasts that he warned us could not be done—such as the running of our ships up against stone walls—and further contradicts himself by telling us that, although there are particular things which it is impossible for our fleet to perform, yet that it is ready to attempt anything, and that there is nothing on earth which it is not capable of executing. I really put it to my noble Friend whether he will assert that he believes there is anything either in the views entertained by the Government, or in the instructions which they give that hinders our Admirals from undertaking plans that they themselves deem advisable. I shall not say one word more as to our military operations; but, my Lords, I have heard to-night with heartfelt satisfaction the noble Earl's cordial disclaimer of any intention, in the arguments used by any party opposed to this Bill, to east the slightest reflection on the honour either of the Emperor of the French or of the French nation. The topics urged in another place, evidently pointing to difficulties in the way of France fulfilling its engagements through any change of Government, or other circumstances, certainly led me into an error in this respect; and I therefore accept the present disclaimer with sincere pleasure. I cannot, however, quite agree with the noble Earl when, speaking for the party with which he is connected, he says that they contented themselves with merely questioning the form of the guarantee proposed to be undertaken in behalf of Turkey. When that party came down to vote in the other House a few nights ago, somewhat suddenly, and only by the defection of some of its Members saved the Government from being placed in a minority, they certainly adopted a singular mode of attesting their desire to strengthen the Government for the vigorous prosecution of the war. Disavowing the sentiments of the peace advocates, and also those of the Gentlemen who had lately joined that party, the body who made large professions of their anxiety to stimulate the Government into making greater exertions than they had yet done, nevertheless participated in a vote involving imminent risk to Turkey as regarded the raising of the loan, and also calculated to endanger our alliance with France. The noble Earl says the Emperor of the French knows the working of our Constitution better than we do ourselves, and perfectly understands the meaning of this vote. I cannot allow that that is any justification for the course that was taken. If the Emperor has studied the practice of our Constitution, he will have learnt that when the nation has intrusted the Government of this country into the hands of certain men, in a great crisis, and when the House of Commons, by repeated decisions, has expressed its unwillingness to dismiss the Ministers from their places, he has a right to expect that he shall not be thrown over upon every arrangement which he may make with us—that he shall not be left in the lurch by that Executive which is supposed to have the confidence of the country; and that, by means which I am sure the noble Earl himself will not entirely sanction, the power of that Executive in carrying on the war with energy shall not be weakened by those who at the same time profess themselves eager for a vigorous prosecution of the contest.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Monday next.

House adjourned to Monday next.