HL Deb 18 May 1855 vol 138 cc736-63

LORD PANMURE rose, according to notice, to make a statement of a Plan for the Consolidation of the Civil Departments of the Army, and said: My Lords, I have now, with your Lordships' permission, to address myself to a question, or rather to make a statement, most intimately connected with the administration of our military affairs; but I feel that it is impossible to refer to a military subject this day without saying one word in congratulation on the scene we have witnessed this morning on the parade of the Horse Guards. This, my Lords, is the first occasion on which a Sovereign of this country has condescended to distribute honours of this kind, not simply to men of high birth, holding high commissions in the army, but to the humblest soldier in her service who has shed his blood in defence of her Crown and of the country—in defence of her honour and of the honour of the land which gave him birth.

It must have been a gratifying sight to your Lordships to witness so many brave and distinguished men receive these honours at the hands of their Sovereign, and I trust that this will not be a solitary instance of such a glorious scene, and that it will have the effect of inspiriting the youth of this country to come forward and enter into a service in which they, too, may distinguish themselves and receive similar rewards to those which have been bestowed to-day. With these few remarks, I now proceed to make the statement of which I gave notice, in the first instance, for Monday last.

My Lords, I am not sorry that the delay which has unavoidably arisen has taken place, although I was quite prepared to make that statement on Monday. The changes which I am about to submit to your Lordships are not of a character which require the interference of any legislative enactment; but I think it would be only respectful to your Lordships and the country that no material changes should take place in the administration of the army which are not plainly—at least, as plainly as I can state them—laid in detail before your Lordships, with a full explanation as to the manner in which they are to be made, and the effect they will probably produce. In dealing with this subject, I must, in the first place, guard myself by saying that I have no intention whatever of reflecting in the smallest degree, either upon the official character, or upon the official zeal and exertions of any officer connected with the departments with which it is my purpose to deal. My Lords, I deal with the system, and, if I complain of anything, it is of the working of the system; it is not of the officers who have had the conduct of that system, which they could neither alter nor amend. Nor do I propose to find fault with mere routine. I perfectly agree with the noble Earl opposite who spoke the other night (the Earl of Derby), that no public, no official business could be conducted in this country without routine. A well-regulated routine advances public business as much as an ill-regulated routine retards it. Without, therefore, a simple and well-regulated routine in all our official departments, we should have confusion instead of that simplicity which is so desirable, and which is one of the chief objects in the transaction of all business.

My objection to the system on which the Board of Ordnance is conducted is, I am afraid, not confined to myself individually. During the six years in which I had the honour of holding the office of Secretary at War I was accustomed to hear such objections; and I found during that period that the delays which occurred in the Ordnance Department—through no fault whatever of the officers of the Board or of the other officers connected with that department—I say I found that the inconveniences which arose and the delays which occurred in that department were great obstructions to the effective administration of military affairs. Every Commission that has inquired into the administration of the army has made remarks to the same effect. Committees of the House of Commons which have inquired into the army and the Ordnance administration have also come to the same conclusion; and yet, my Lords, no Government has up to this moment undertaken to adopt any system by which the administration of the Ordnance Department might be amended or improved. It appears to me, then, that the general opinion is, that something ought to be done to simplify the civil administration of the army. But a question arises at the outset whether the present is a convenient time for making any large or extensive changes in our military administration. It has been hinted, if even it has not been broadly stated, that during a period of war changes to any extent in the administration of a war department would be likely to prove inconvenient, and to interfere with the conduct of the war. Now, I confess I do not share that opinion. It appears to me that if improvements can be made in any department, more especially in one connected with military administration, there is no time when it is so incumbent on us to make that improvement as the period in which it may be most beneficial and effective. And, having satisfied ourselves that by the changes which we propose, no interruption will occur in the military service, that the supply of all the matériel of war will continue with, perhaps, more speed and more accuracy, while that matériel will be fully as good in quality; having satisfied ourselves that no difficulties will arise out of the various changes which are proposed, Her Majesty's Government have resolved to make those changes with as little delay as possible.

It is proposed, in the first place, to abolish the Master General and the Board of Ordnance altogether. I need hardly inform your Lordships that the Board of Ordnance and the office of Master General is, perhaps, one of the most ancient establishments which exist in this country. I think it dates from the time of Henry VIII., and it has borne in the military establishment of the State a far higher rank and distinction than of late years it has been accustomed to hold. The Master General and members of the Board hold their appointments by letters patent under the Crown; and, therefore, no other step is necessary than for Her Majesty to dictate a revocation of those letters patent, upon which the Master General and the whole Board of Ordnance cease to have any existence. The only question arising out of this proposed change in which Parliament will be required to render assistance is to enable the Secretary of State to hold the lands which are at present vested in the Board of Ordnance, under an Act of Parliament, which will be introduced shortly into the other House. Now, the Master General and the Board being abolished, it becomes necessary to deal with the whole establishment connected with the Ordnance. Your Lordships are aware that this consists of two departments—one relating to matters which are purely military, and the other to matters of purely a civil character. The matters which are purely military are the commands of the Royal Artillery and of the Royal Engineers. These commands it is proposed to vest in the Commander in Chief of the army. I have never yet been able to understand why the Commander in Chief of Her Majesty's troops should not have the chief command as well of the Artillery and Engineers as of the cavalry and infantry. There can be no difficulty in the transfer of the command of the Artillery and Engineers to the Commander in Chief, because in the Artillery there is a Deputy Adjutant General and an Assistant Quartermaster General, entirely and exclusively belonging to that force, who can conduct the military administration of that branch of the service under the Commander in Chief, exactly in the same manner as it was conducted under the Master General of the Ordnance. In the same way, there is a Deputy Adjutant General of Engineers, who, communicating with the Commander in Chief, would convey his orders to that corps precisely as he now conveys to it the orders of the Master General or Lieutenant General of the Ordnance. It would be wrong in me if I omitted this opportunity, while dealing with the military members of the Ordnance, of stating to your Lordships that it is the concurrent opinion of every officer, as well as of every Member of Her Majesty's Government, and of other Governments, who have had to do with Sir Hew Ross and Sir John Burgoyne, in their military capacity, that two officers more meritorious on account of their scientific knowledge, and who have taken greater pains to bring to perfection these branches of the service over which they have presided, never bore Her Majesty's commission. The manner in which the artillery was forwarded to the seat of war conferred upon Sir Hew Ross the highest possible character, and stamped him as an officer of artillery of rare and uncommon merit. The manner, also, in which Sir John Burgoyne has conducted operations as chief of the engineer department is equally well worthy of my humble testimony, and of the approbation of your Lordships and of the country. My Lords, I have felt that I could not touch upon this branch of the subject without making reference to the services of these two distinguished officers, who have been the means of bringing the artillery and engineer departments of the army to their present state of perfection; but now I will pass to the civil branch of the Ordnance Department. The civil branch of that department consists, as your Lordships are aware, of the Master General of the Ordnance, who is not a member of the Board, but who is supreme over the whole department, and who can approve or disapprove the actions of the Board; he can also order, on his own responsibility, the expenditure of any money to carry on the business of the department, but all financial expenditure which he may order must be carried out by the officers of the Board, who have the charge of its monetary or financial details. The next member is the Lieutenant General of the Ordnance, an office which was formerly abolished, and was only renewed upon the departure of the Master General, Lord Raglan, to assume the command of the army in the field; and then come the Surveyor General, the Clerk of the Ordnance, and the Principal Storekeeper. These four officers form the Board of Ordnance. I will now proceed to state to your Lordships what are the duties which these officers are called upon to perform. The duties of the Master General, as stated in the report of a Select Committee, are, in a civil capacity, to take entire control over the whole department. He has the power of doing any act on his own authority which can otherwise, where he does not interfere, be done only by the Board; he can order the expenditure of money for the purpose of the department, but that expenditure must be carried out by the officers of the Board. The Lieutenant General at a time when the Master General is present in this country, has no active office, but in his absence he presides generally over the whole business of the Board. The Surveyor General has no peculiar duties assigned to him, but he is to exercise a supervision over the whole business of the Board and of the department generally. The Clerk of the Ordnance is the financial member of the Board; it is his duty to prepare the Estimates of the money required for the service of the department, and to lay them before Parliament, and generally to control and superintend the expenditure of the whole department. The Principal Storekeeper, as his title implies, has the care of the immense military stores belonging to the Crown—of all the ordnance, carriages, arms, and ammunition, and, in fact, he appears to me to be the officer of the greatest importance and the most indispensable of those attached to the Board of Ordnance. These are the superior officers at present constituting the Board of Ordnance. Now, my Lords, it is proposed, as I have stated, to abolish that Board altogether, and this is the arrangement which we propose to adopt for the future. We propose that the Secretary of State for War shall have the supreme direction of, and be responsible for, the administration of all the business of the department. We propose to place under the Secretary of State, for the purpose of carrying out his views and instructions, a chief civil officer. The duties of that officer will be to receive all orders relating to the civil administration of the army from the Secretary of State, to convey those orders to the heads of the different branches, and to apportion them among the members of the administration. It is further proposed that this officer shall be a Member of the House of Commons, that he shall there be responsible for all matters relating to the civil administration of the army, and that it shall be his duty to move in one combined estimate the whole expenditure of the army, instead of that expenditure being moved as at present in three distinct estimates—one for the Army, another for the Ordnance, and another for the Commissariat:—it is proposed to combine these three estimates in one, so that the House of Commons and the country may see at one view what is the whole military expenditure of the country for the current year, reduced, as I hope it may be in the course of time, to a statement drawn up in a simple form, and easily understood by all. It will further be the duty of this officer, having conveyed the orders which he may receive from the Secretary of State to the different branches of the administration, to see that those orders are regularly carried out, and, for that purpose, each branch will be called on to keep a day-book, and to enter in it the various orders which it may receive. A duplicate will be kept in the office of the Secretary of State, in which he will note the orders issued upon particular days, and, by calling daily or weekly for the production of the day-books of the various branches, he will be able by a comparison with his own, to trace at once the manner in which his orders have been carried out, and to detect where there has been delay or mal-execution, and thus will be able to do that which is now found to be so difficult, that is, to place the saddle on the right horse. These are the chief duties which will appertain to this new officer whom we propose to appoint. I now come to the existing offices in the civil administration of the Ordnance Department. I may say, my Lords, that in dealing with these offices I shall hold when the new arrangements take place—as I shall be responsible for the working of the machinery I am about to explain to your Lordships—I shall hold these offices, however filled at present, to be virtually vacant. Reappointments may take place—no doubt reappointments will take place—but I shall hold myself to be armed with authority to have the best men at the head of those different branches of administration, in order that, however we may succeed, we may at least have the best chance of working it to the best advantage. My Lords, the first office to which I shall refer is the only one, with regard to which I find any difficulty in drawing the line of demarkation between the mi- litary and civil departments, and that is the office of Inspector General of Fortifications. He has the command of the corps of the Royal Engineers. As regards the planning of fortifications and drawing up schemes of defence, the Inspector General of Fortifications will be under the authority of the Commander in Chief; but as regards superintending the building of fortifications, or the erection of works of defence, the purchase of land and the like—that is to say, as far as regards the carrying out of the civil contract—he must of necessity be under the control of the Treasury. I do not anticipate that any practical difficulty will arise from this arrangement, and, indeed, Sir John Burgoyne, who now so unexceptionably fills the office of Inspector of Fortifications, foresees no difficulty in continuing to render his valuable services under the new arrangement which is proposed. The next office to which I will refer—I may state, my Lords, that I am now dealing with a class of officers who must, for the public convenience, have offices in London, and, if possible—and I hope that in a short time it may be so—under the same roof as the Secretary of State—I come now to the Director General of Artillery. At present that officer is appointed by the Master General of the Ordnance. The duty of the Director General will be to advise the Secretary of State for War in all matters connected with the matériel of the artillery department. The Director General decides as to the mode of arming all works which are erected by the Inspector General of Fortifications. He has to keep himself informed as to the number, nature, and condition of all guns, mounted and unmounted, in charge of the artillery in all parts of Her Majesty's dominions. That officer is ex-officio president of what is called the "Scientific Committee," and he superintends the introduction of all changes and improvements in the matériel of the arsenal. His office, therefore, must be close to that of the Secretary of State, because, upon all matters relating to the matériel of the artillery, he must give the Secretary general advice. The next of those high offices is a new one in connection with the Ordnance. Inasmuch as the navy makes great demands for stores upon the Ordnance Department, it has always been thought necessary to have a naval officer connected with the Ordnance for the purpose of giving advice in all matters relating to naval gunnery. At present, how- ever, the officer who holds that appointment is Sir Thomas Hastings. I propose in future to place the naval officer in connection with the Director General of Artillery, and he will be called the Naval Director of Artillery. He will be charged with superintending all the improvements which may be introduced into the naval gunnery of the country. It will be his office officially to make himself acquainted with all questions of armament and with all suggestions that may be made for improvements in those matters. He will also have to make himself generally acquainted with all the different stores which may be under the charge of the Ordnance; and he will be in immediate communication with the Admiralty in reference to them, so that no time may be lost in equipping ships, when the hour arrives for their equipment, with such materials as may be furnished from the Ordnance. It is essentially necessary that that officer should be a member of the Scientific Committee, and he will be ex officio a member accordingly. The next office to which I shall allude is that of the Superintendent of Stores, which is, in my opinion, entirely a civil office. Although those stores may and do consist of articles for the military service—which, infact, they will always do—yet I see no reason against—on the contrary I conceive that great benefit will be derived from—placing at the head of the storekeeper's department one who is thoroughly acquainted with the classification of stores, with the mode of receiving them, with their custody, with the manner of keeping accounts, with the system of issue upon mercantile principles, and who shall also be acquainted with that of which I am afraid many military storekeepers are entirely ignorant—namely, the mode of taking stock upon approved commercial principles. I remember being upon a Committee of the House of Commons when the question was asked, whether we had any thorough and perfect knowledge of the amount of military stores which were in the different storehouses belonging to this country at home and abroad; and the answer was, that there would be extreme difficulty in stating the amount; and, upon the question being put whether it would not be perfectly easy to take stock of the stores, the answer was, that it would be almost impossible. I think that that is a branch of the service which ought to be conducted upon the most approved commercial principles. It will be the duty of the store- keeper to have a thorough knowledge of the mode in which the business of his department is carried on; he will have a great number of deputies under him, and he must from time to time, by personal inspection or otherwise, ascertain the manner in which his deputies at the different stations are conducting his business, and he will be responsible to the Secretary of State for the entire conduct of the store-keeping department of the Ordnance. This is a department of no small importance, and your Lordships may form some estimate of its extent when I state that there are at present no fewer than ninety storekeepers, with salaries varying from 150l. to 800l. per annum. I hope that we may be able very considerably to reduce that number of storekeepers. The next officer is one whose duties are almost entirely distinct from the Board of Ordnance—namely, the Superintendent of Contracts. I do not know with what truth it is asserted, but I have always heard it insinuated, that the contract system of the Ordnance has not hitherto possessed the confidence of the commercial world; and I think that I might, if so disposed, cite instances in which it had not worked well for the purpose. I have heard it stated that under the present system many of the most respectable business firms in the country have declined to enter into competition, and to make tenders when contracts have been put out by the Ordnance for articles which they might have supplied. It is not my intention to inquire how that state of things has arisen; but the remedy seems to be to establish a branch which shall have the superintendence of the whole of the public contracts made for the army or the Ordnance. That is another branch which is purely of a commercial character; and I propose to place at the head of it as good a commercial gentleman as I shall be able to find for that purpose, who has the confidence of the commercial world, and who will be, I hope, emphatically a "right man in a right place." The duty of that officer will be, as I have stated, to make all contracts;—the contracts, for instance, in the clothing department will be made by this officer. He will not interfere with the execution of those contracts, but he will have another duty to perform—namely, that if the contracts shall not be fulfilled, he will have the duty imposed upon him of enforcing its fulfilment, and of taking the measures necessary to effect that object. I now come to another department with which it is absolutely necessary that the Secretary of State should have immediate communication—I mean the officer on whom shall devolve the duty of taking the necessary steps with respect to the clothing of the army. There is no department, in my opinion, in which it is more essentially necessary to take steps to secure a proper administration than in the furnishing of clothing to the army. Until within the last year or two the clothing of the cavalry and infantry was furnished by the respective colonels of regiments. There arose a very general objection to that system; indeed, it was so general that two years ago the Secretary at War relieved the colonels from the duty and responsibility of clothing the regiments, and took that responsibility upon the Government. That may have been a very proper arrangement, but I do not believe that it will be found altogether a profitable one for the public. It certainly will be more convenient for the colonels; but there were many advantages (although there might have been at the same time, also, some disadvantages) in the colonels clothing their regiments, which will not accrue when the clothing is furnished by the Government. On the other hand, there are, no doubt, advantages which will result from the clothing being undertaken by the Government, which did not arise under the old system. In the new arrangement, I propose to constitute a Superintendent of Clothing. The effect of this appointment will be, to do away with a Board which at present exists, namely, what is called the Board of General Officers. They will have no occupation, and they will be of no use to the public after that new system shall be brought into practice. No new patterns of uniform can be adopted, or altered, or in any way deviated from, except by the express command of the Sovereign, signified through the proper authority—and in future that proper authority will be the Secretary of State. In accordance with such command, patterns will be sealed and committed to the custody of the clothing director. He will enter into communication with his two colleagues, the superintendents of stores and contracts, and with the aid of such professional assistance as he may choose to call in, it will be the duty of the clothing director, as the head of this department, to inspect all clothing materials before they are given out to be made up for the purposes of the army; and it will also be his duty to inspect, and be responsible for, all clothing after it has been furnished, to see that it is properly packed, and, where necessary, duly shipped, so that it may be delivered at the proper time to those regiments, both at home and abroad, which are entitled to receive it. It may take some little time to get the duties of this officer into good working order, but I have no doubt that the duties of this officer being efficiently fulfilled, we shall in a very short time arrive at a system of clothing the army which will insure regularity of delivery, and uniformity of pattern throughout the whole army, without at the same time incurring any undue expenditure for the purpose. I hope also we shall be enabled by this means materially to improve the quality of the clothing, and thus remedy an evil which has often been the subject of complaint. That is one matter to which the superintendent of clothing ought immediately to direct his attention, for no man can look at the clothing of our soldiers in this country without being at once struck with the very inferior nature of the material of which it is composed; the consequence is, not only that it is liable to wear out sooner than better clothing would, but it causes the soldier to suffer far more than is necessary from the inclemency of the weather. It appears to me essentially necessary that these officers of departments should sit, if possible, under the same roof with the Secretary of State, with whose transactions he should be acquainted; because, if intimately acquainted with them, having a general eye over their operations through the civil officers with whom he is in communication, he will be enabled to see whether all the duties are properly performed, and he will be enabled without much difficulty, whether in time of war or in time of peace, to carry on the military departments of the army with something like a unity of purpose.

There are, however, certain other departments which, though somewhat of a military character, carry also with them much of a civil nature, inasmuch as they are more or less manufacturing departments. In my opinion, as they are departments of manufacture, they ought to be under the civil control of the Secretary of State, who is responsible to the country that the articles they manufacture are not inferior in quality or pattern, or deficient in quantity for the use and service of the country. My Lords, all these departments will continue to hold the position they do at pre- sent at Woolwich, or Enfield, as the case may be. With regard to Woolwich, the first officer to whom I will direct your Lordships' attention, is an officer who will be called the Superintendent of Ordnance. This officer, in the first place, has charge, and will continue to have charge, of the manufacture of all brass ordnance. He is also charged with seeing that all the guns, shot, and shell received into the service are in an efficient state, are constructed according to the pattern, and adapted to the service for which they are required. He will also have the proof of all ordnance, and will be required to keep a correct account of all ordnance which passes through his hands, of the persons to whom he delivers it, and when it was delivered over to the army. He will be at the head of the branch of the manufacture of ordnance at the Arsenal at Woolwich, and will carry on his operations there, but under a different system to that which has hitherto been pursued. All these departments, my Lords, are entirely under military arrangements, and their officers are amenable to the military authority and subject to military discipline. The officer who has charge of this department is a military officer. I do not mean to remove the charge of these departments from military officers. It is intended to continue in the charge of this and other departments the most efficient officers that are to be found in the ranks of the Royal Artillery; but, in order that they may be enabled to direct their attention entirely to the duties of the departments over which they shall have charge, I propose that they shall be detached from their regiments for a period of five years, and after that, if it is not thought necessary to continue them as the head of those departments over which they have had charge, they shall resume their position in the regiments in the same manner as engineers taken from the Royal Sappers and Miners for civil service are treated at present. While we thus relieve these officers from the immediate control of their commanding officer, we shall at the same time leave them in their proper position in the regiment without loss either of promotion or rank, while it will procure for the civil portion of the War Department the services of officers of the greatest energy to conduct the business of those departments over which they may be placed. The next officer is the Superintendent of the Carriage Department, which is a department now existing. This officer will be charged with the construction for all gun-carriages for the navy as well as army, of waggons for ammunition and land transport, of ambulance for the sick, and all military machines. This includes a large manufacture of ironwork as well as of wood, and the manufactory at Woolwich is of a character which enables the superintendent to carry on the works of both departments. This officer will also have to be detached from his regiment in the same way, for a period of five years during which he is at the head of the department—when he may be changed, though that is not absolutely necessary, and may return to his regiment without loss of promotion or rank in the service. The next officer is the Superintendent of the Laboratory. I confess the term "Laboratory," is a term that is not very well applied in this instance; but I have not been able to arrive at any better designation; therefore I have thought it best to use the old term that has been generally used. This officer will be charged with the preparation of ammunition for every species of arm; likewise of all combustible material—rockets, for instance, blue lights, and things of that description, for both the army and navy. The next officer to whom I shall refer is the Superintendent of Small Arms, who is not confined to Woolwich, as your Lordships are well aware that there is erected, or almost finished, at Enfield, a Government manufactory of small arms, which, though it will not at present supply the army to the extent it may require, will, at all events, enable the Government, in time of peace, to accumulate a sufficient store to supply the army hereafter in time of war. This officer will be charged with the duty of the construction of such small arms as are manufactured by the Government, and with the inspection of all small arms furnished by contract; and will be responsible for their proof, their correspondence with pattern, and that they have been finished and delivered according to the contracts. Your Lordships will perceive that the duties which this officer will have to perform are of a very important character, and it is proposed to place at the head of that department an officer of the Royal Artillery, to be detached in the same way; and I am quite sure that that arrangement will be recognised as the fittest that can be made. There is one other department only to which I have now to advert. It is a very important one, and is now connected with the Royal Laboratory; but I think the duties are so extensive, and performed altogether away from Woolwich, that it will be better to erect it into a separate branch by itself. I mean the superintendence of the gunpowder works and of the manufacture of powder. The officer who will take charge of that department will naturally reside at or near Waltham Abbey, where the Government mills are, and will be their responsible superintendent. He will also be responsible for receiving and proving all gunpowder made by contract for the Government. He will also be responsible for the quality and purity of the saltpetre which is purchased for the manufacture of gunpowder. He will also be responsible for a duty not at present belonging to that department—I mean the re-stoving of gunpowder, which appears to me to be essentially a duty attaching to the officer having charge of the manufacture of gunpowder, but which is at present performed by five different fire-masters. This officer also will be an officer of the Royal Artillery, selected on account of his fitness for the office; and the whole of the five officers I have mentioned will, under the officer at the head of the civil administration, conduct the business of their several departments on the manufacturing principles that are carried out in other departments of manufacture amongst the civil ranks in this country, and I hope with the same economy, regularity, and success.

Now the only other point to which I need refer is a question that has been asked, and may no doubt be asked again, why it is not proposed that this superior officer should be a Member of the House of Commons to represent the Secretary of State when he is not in that House, in the civil department of his office? My answer is simply that the duties of the officer who will have the charge of the civil administration of the army will be so multifarious, that there will be plenty of work for the Under Secretary of State to do, in answering in the absence of his chief for all such points of the political administration of the War Department as he may be responsible for—matters connected with the discipline of the army and with the movement of troops. When I held the office of Secretary at War ninety-nine out of every hundred questions in the House of Commons affected points of military discipline, the movements of troops, and matters of that description, rather than financial matters more immediately connected with the duties of the office. I apprehend, therefore, there will at least at present be room for both these officers, and I do not propose to dispense with the Under Secretary of State in the House of Commons, although we make a new officer, or rather charge an old officer with new duties.

Such, My Lords, is the scheme which, after careful consideration, I have laid before your Lordships. I do not pretend to say that it is perfect, but it will by daily operation work itself into smooth gear. The changes now undertaken must be wrought out under the superintendence of an officer well acquainted with all these branches, whose heart is in the matter, and who has shown himself to be, by the administration of a department, a man of first-rate business qualities, and of first-rate zeal, because I am sure that the employment of such a man will give the fairest chance of success to the new scheme which I have just explained, not ambiguously I hope, to your Lordships. I have said nothing as to the expenditure which may be attendant upon these changes, because I am as yet unable to produce any detailed statement of the expenditure likely to accrue under the new system; but I can assure your Lordships that I have so far ascertained the effects which may be expected as to be able to say I have every reason to believe—indeed I feel convinced—that we shall have a more economical expenditure than under the present system. I am also able to state that I shall not be called upon to ask a single shilling either to pay new officers or to increase the expenditure of the new department. There may be some asperities at the first carrying out of this change, but, as I have already stated to your Lordships, I anticipate no interference with the public service. Had I thought that this change by being made at this time would at all interfere with the conduct of the war in any of its branches, or would affect the supply of material for the army in the least degree, I would not at this time have undertaken to make this change, however much I might have subjected myself or the Government to obloquy for not doing so. I am aware that I have not gone as far as many reformers of military administration would call upon me to go, but I think I have gone sufficiently far, and the subject is one that has been carefully considered. Taking into account the period that has elapsed since the Government was established, it may be said that we are to blame for having delayed those changes so long; but I am convinced of this, that if those changes had been made without taking full time to consider what each of them might produce, and the manner in which they would work, we might only have made what was considered bad still worse than it was before. After the consideration which I and my colleagues have given to the subject, we think we may calculate that they will be found conducive to an approved administration of the civil departments of the army. It will take some time, of course, before the improvements of the new system can show themselves, but in the course of a little time I do trust, my Lords, that that system will be found to be such as will command the approbation of your Lordships and of the country, whose business we are endeavouring to transact with the greatest possible utility and effect.


My Lords, I must say it is extremely satisfactory to find that it is not considered necessary to have recourse to the intervention of Parliament for the purpose of carrying this plan into effect. It is most desirable that the changes which the noble Lord proposes should be made on the authority of the Crown. The noble Lord will then have an opportunity of making any alterations which he may think to be necessary, and those who may succeed him will also have the same power. I trust, also, when the noble Lord reserves to himself the power of displacing all present officers whose duties he may consider can be better performed by other persons, he will not hereafter be surprised if the same power should at some future time be exercised by his successors. The abolition of the office of Master General of the Ordnance, the amalgamation of the office of Secretary at War with that of the Secretary of State for War, and the union of the Commissariat with the War Department, seem to me to be very great and important changes, and I think it would be convenient if the noble Lord would direct that a memorandum shall be prepared and laid upon the table for your Lordships' information, showing the present powers of the several officers whose situations it is proposed to abolish, and the powers intended to be intrusted to the officers by whom they are to be succeeded, so that we may have a tabular view of the entire alterations which are proposed. We are without any information as to the manner in which the Commissariat Department—a department of the greatest importance—is to be administered. I apprehend that at present there is no one in that department between the Minister for War and the Chief Clerk of the Commissariat Department who formerly acted under Sir Charles Trevelyan. It appears to me that there is a difficulty about all these arrangements, and I want to know precisely what is to be the real responsibility of the Minister for War. I know that he will be answerable for his conduct in his place in Parliament; but I want to know to what extent he is to be really responsible. A very conscientious man, placed at the head of the War Department, might think it necessary for him to look into every detail of the Commissariat Department; but if he does that, and endeavours also to acquaint himself with all the details of the office of Secretary at War, and of the office of Ordnance, it is perfectly impossible that he should perform these duties satisfactorily, for he will be overwhelmed with business. If, on the other hand, he considers that he incurs a mere technical responsibility, all the evils of the present division of authority will be practically continued, the business will be conducted most unsatisfactorily, and there will not be that unity of administration which is desirable. In my opinion it is absolutely impossible to carry on the department of the Commissariat without giving it some ostensible head—a person of authority, who shall be responsible in the eye of the public for the administration of the department. No doubt the Minister for War will have the power of giving directions with reference to that department, and on some occasions he may test the accuracy of the statements made to him, and look into the details:—indeed, I consider that no one can possibly conduct the business of the public well unless he occasionally looks into the minutest details of his department, and ascertains the conduct of those who administer it. I question very much the policy of annexing the office of Secretary at War to that of Minister for War. It seems to me to be a violation of principle; because a Minister for War incurs expenditure, and the Secretary at War has hitherto managed the finances of the army, and it has been his duty to control expenditure. Now, to give to the same person the power of directing and of controlling expenditure seems to be a contradiction in principle which can hardly fail to lead to injurious results. It may be quite right that the Secretary for War should have the power of controlling and overruling the Secretary at War, but there is always a very great advantage in having an officer whose duty it is to make representations. Let the Secretary for War strike as he pleases, but let him hear first; and it certainly appears to me that, according to the present proposal, there will be no one to make representations as to the finances of the army. With regard to the Ordnance, I recollect the time when that department was under the control of the Duke of Wellington, and when the present Commander in Chief was Clerk of the Ordnance; and the opinion of the Duke of Wellington at that time was, that no department of the State was so well organised, and that in no other department was business so well conducted. I have no doubt that while the noble Duke and my noble Friend were at that department it was admirably conducted, and I think the principle upon which that Board was framed was to the last degree superior to the principle upon which the Board of Admiralty is framed, because it gave authority to the chief, and there was really no difficulty in transacting the business. I object to the abolition of the office of Master General of the Ordnance upon two grounds, both of which I think are worthy the serious consideration of your Lordships and of the public. In the first place, I object to placing the whole patronage of the army in the hands of one man, so that no gentleman in England will be able to obtain for his son admission to any branch of the military service without going to one individual. I think that would be, practically, a very objectionable arrangement. I think another great practical objection to the change is this:—During the life of the Duke of Wellington it was not at all necessary for any Government to have the Master General of the Ordnance in the Cabinet; the Duke of Wellington was uniformly the honest adviser of all Ministers. But the position of affairs is now very different, and I do think that to take from the Government the power of having an military friend of their own, whatever his authority, in the Cabinet, to advise with confidentially, as has been the case under all circumstances in former times, will result in a very great loss to the public. It is impossible that the Government should not on many occasions have derived great advantage from the assistance of the late Lord Anglesea as a Member of the Cabinet. Is time of war this advice is especially necessary; but now, in what a position will the proposal of the noble Lord place the Government? He proposes to abolish the office of Master General of the Ordnance. The Secretary at War and the Clerk of the Ordnance are civilians; the Minister for War will usually be a civilian:—indeed, it would be a very great advantage to the public if any military man should be in a position to hold the office. We must, however, look to the probability that the Minister for War will generally be a civilian. In the office of the Minister for War—who will direct, not only the movements of the army, but who, under the proposed alterations, is to deal with all the scientific details which are called civil, but which are really military—there will not be, therefore, one military man, nor will the noble Lord have the means of bringing to his side any one military man in whom he has confidence. No doubt military men will most willingly give him their advice on all occasions when they may be asked to do so, but he cannot be in the habit of daily confidential communication with a military man in whom he has confidence, and whose advice might be most valuable in enabling him to conduct satisfactorily the business of his office. I think this will not only be a great loss to the individual Minister, but that it will also be a serious loss to the public. The Admiralty as well as the army has at its head a civilian; this may at times be unavoidable, but I cannot but think that the Minister having the general direction of the war would feel himself much stronger in council if he sat between such a man as Sir William Parker on one side, and such a man as Lord Seaton, or Sir John Musgrave, or Sir Howard Douglas on the other, than he can sitting as he now does between Sir Charles Wood and his own shadow. Many of the alterations which are suggested by the noble Lord may be improvements, but experience only can show whether they are improvements or not. I have thought it right to state those objections which seem to me to apply practically to a material part of the general scheme of the Government; and I hope the noble Lord, if he Can do so, will place upon the table a memorandum showing at one view all the alterations which it is intended to carry into effect.


I quite concur with the noble Earl in the great advantage of having such a memorandum as he suggests prepared and laid before the House; but I would go a little further. My reason for not entering into the discussion of the proposed plan to-night is because I think it quite impossible for any of your Lordships really to understand this scheme, which is one of considerable complication, without having it before you in much greater detail than is the case at present. I agree with the noble Earl that it is very fortunate it is not necessary to carry a measure through Parliament for the purpose of regulating the future administration of the army. I think this may be much better done by the authority of the Crown. I believe my noble Friend, in explaining his scheme, said it would be necessary that Parliament should transfer all the property which is now vested by various Acts of Parliament in the Master General of the Ordnance to the new authorities. I think, however, it is very desirable that the new arrangements should be made by the Crown; but, although they are made by the Crown, I hope they will be embodied in some formal document. I conceive that it is advisable to carry into effect measures of this kind in a very formal mode, and I hope that, either by new letters patent or by Orders in Council, or by some equivalent document of well-known and formal authority, the respective duties of the different officers who are to be appointed under the new arrangement will be clearly defined, and that such document will be laid before Parliament. I took the liberty of mentioning some time ago that, in my opinion, the great mistake made last year, when the offices of Secretary for War and the Colonies were divided, was in not having a minute of this kind prepared by Her Majesty in Council; in which the new arrangements for the transaction of business might have been clearly defined. In the hope that some such document will eventually be laid before Parliament, and that we shall then be able to form a better opinion than we can at present of the plan which has been described to us, I shall forbear on the present occasion from going further into this discussion beyond saying a single word or two. Upon one point I quite concur with the noble Earl opposite. I cannot help fearing that, by the arrangement which is proposed, too great a mass of business of detail will be thrown upon the Secretary of State. No man holds more strongly than I do the necessity of a concentration of authority; but a concentration of authority is perfectly com- patible, under proper arrangements, with the due division of labour, and, as far as I understand the scheme, I do not think it provides for this, or for effecting the desired concentration of authority in a manner calculated to ensure the prompt despatch of business. I continue of the opinion I have formerly expressed, that with regard to business of this kind, involving a great many details, no organisation is so good as that of a Board; but, at the same time, I concur with the noble Earl in thinking that no great department of Government can be properly carried on unless it is completely under the direction of a single mind. Hence there should be a chief of the Board, whose decisions should be accepted by the subordinate members, and who should have authority to carry into effect his own opinions. I believe, practically, every First Lord of the Admiralty, who is competent to perform the duties of the office, is First Lord to that extent, and I cannot give a better illustration of this than by referring to the practice of Lord Spencer in carrying on business at the Board of Admiralty, which has been described in order to condemn it by a high naval authority, but which seems to me to have been perfectly right. Lord Spencer said—"I tell my subordinates that, if they cannot work with me and carry my views into effect, I must have a new Board." In saying this Lord Spencer took a correct view of the subject, and I cannot conceive any other mode of carrying on the business of such a department: for if each member of a Board is to be standing upon his own opinion, it is pefectly obvious the business must come to a deadlock. It by no means follows that, because it is considered the duty of the subordinate members of a Board to yield to their chief, that they may not, and ought not, to exercise a great influence on its proceedings, and act as a check on any improper measures being adopted. In all cases they have a right, and it is their duty, freely to make known their opinions to their chief, and, in extreme cases, to resign if their remonstrances against what they strongly disapprove are not attended to. Although the professed object of this measure is to effect a concentration of authority, I cannot help fearing that, while a great mass of details is thrown upon the Secretary of State, that concentration of authority is not provided for. All through my noble Friend's speech he seemed to lay great stress upon continuing the division between military and civil business and military and civil duties. As it appears to me, he is going to leave the Commander in Chief precisely in his present position. I am persuaded that while this continues—while one person is not responsible, both for the efficiency with which the service is conducted, and for economy—you will not have the machine working well. I believe that this objection to the proposed arrangement might be obviated, in great part at least, by a simple alteration in the position of the Commander in Chief. The alteration I would suggest would be, that those proposals which it is now the duty of the Commander in Chief to submit to the Sovereign in person shall invariably go to the Sovereign through the Minister of War. I believe that a Member of the Cabinet ought to submit to the Crown everything which requires the sanction of the Crown, and that one Member or another of the Cabinet should be responsible for every measure which is so submitted to the Crown. It is an anomaly I only of recent date—it has grown up within the last sixty or seventy years—that many most important measures, adopted by the Government relating to military affairs, are submitted directly to the Sovereign by the Commander in Chief, who is thus converted into a Minister, instead of filling a subordinate position as a military officer.


Perhaps the noble Lord will tell us what he intends shall be the future relations between what is now called the Transport Board and the Minister of War? The transport service was under one of the Lords of the Admiralty; but a Board has recently been constituted. I have a great objection to all Boards, but it appears to me nothing is so anomalous as the position of Captain Milne, a member of the Board of Admiralty, having a qualified authority over the Transport Board. So far as I can judge, the Transport Board will not be placed in connection with the Minister of War, though without the active co-operation of the Transport Board, the Minister of War cannot move a regiment. If the Minister of War is to have control over the movements of the army by sea and by land, I cannot see how the present arrangement can by possibility be consistent with the public service, and I would suggest to the noble Lord to consider the expediency of abolishing this Transport Board.


hoped the noble Lord the Minister for War, if he undertook to lay before the House some fuller memorandum on this subject, would give some clear information as to the financial administration of the army, and more especially that he will explain what were intended to be the financial arrangements, either made or contemplated, in relation to the Commissariat. He alluded to those administrative functions connected with supplying the military chest, in which the Commissariat was entrusted with duties not inferior in importance to those of any other department under the Crown. He was one of the Commissioners who signed the original Report for the reform of the army establishments, recommending the consolidation of these departments; but a reserve was made in the mode of carrying into effect these recommendations with regard to the financial Commissariat duties. Any of their Lordships who had devoted their attention to the subject would know that the Commissariat duties, of a financial character, must be provided for, not only in an efficient manner, with a view to army purposes, but in a constitutional manner, in respect to the relations between the army and the public service, and to a maintenance of the strict principles of the Appropriation Act. He was very glad to find the same distinction was laid down by the noble Earl (Earl Grey) between the actual service of the Commissariat whilst executing its Ministerial operations of transport, supply, and distribution in the field, and the operations of the Commissariat as a great financial branch of administration, whose transactions in a single year had amounted to not less than 9,000,000l. sterling. All these functions, as far as he could collect from the papers before the House, were proposed to be transferred to the Minister of War. He greatly doubted the policy of this course; for, however capable of discharging the duties of Secretary of State for War his noble Friend might be, he could not understand how the proper relative positions between the Treasury and the War Department could subsist under a system which enabled persons named by the Minister of War, and under his command, to draw bills on the Treasury, bills for which the Treasury was compelled to find funds. If this change were made, there ought to be a Chancellor of the Exchequer in the War Department to provide the Ways and Means, where unlimited and uncontrolled powers of expenditure were vested in the War Minister. He was sure if his noble Friend incumbered himself and the department with duties so entirely foreign from its functions as purchasing bullion in one market, raising money on bills in another, and supplying all the resources of the military chest, he would overweight himself, and would create obstacles fatal to the proper discharge of those more relative functions which he was more peculiarly bound to perform. He thought the information before the House was exceedingly incomplete, and he trusted the Government would take care to furnish them with the means to enable them to discuss profitably the mode in which these important alterations were proposed to be carried into effect.


said, he understood the general desire to be to have a Minister at the head of the War Department who should hold, under the Crown, the entire power of conducting the military affairs of the country; but he thought it was rather an anomaly that a Minister, with such duties, should be a civilian. At all events, to make the scheme complete, whoever had the direction, should have the Commander in Chief, the Commissariat, and the Transport Board directly under his orders. The Transport Board was essentially serviceable only in time of war, to a great extent being engaged in arranging the transport of men, provisions, shot, shell, and the various articles requisite for carrying on military operations in a foreign land, and that machine ought to be directly under the control of the Minister of War, like all other departments. To make the machinery complete, all the points of immediate connection, like the wires of the electric telegraph, should be under the control of one central authority. He, therefore, thought that, whatever might be the necessities of the Board of Admiralty in reference to transporting stores connected with that branch of the service, there could be no objection, in order to make the service work with rapidity and vigour, to place the Minister of War in direct communication with the Transport Board, and give him direct authority over that board. In all the departments of the State, the real point of au- thority ought to be the purse in the hands of the heads of departments. The First Lord of the Admiralty and the Minister for War should be separately responsible to Parliament for the expenditure of their particular departments, and not the secretaries. To show the necessity for some such arrangement, he might mention a curious circumstance that occurred in his own profession some years ago. He had seen a Lord of the Admiralty go into the dockyard and give certain orders for which he was entirely responsible, and he had then seen a Secretary of the Admiralty follow a few hours afterwards and counter-order every order that had been given, because the expenditure was in the hand of the Secretary, and not of the head of the department. The real power of a Minister was a power of expenditure, and in his (the Earl of Hardwicke's) opinion that power of expenditure ought to be placed in the power of the superior officers of the Crown, and not of the subordinates.


said, he had only one word to add to what had fallen from the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough). He perfectly agreed with the noble Earl that there were other departments connected with the administration of the army besides those which it was intended to deal with at present which might require arrangement, and to which attention would be directed hereafter. For instance, the Commissariat branch might require alteration. The business of the Commissariat branch was to be conducted by the Secretary of State and the officer who had been chief clerk and conducted the business under the Treasury. He was not sure that it would not be necessary altogether to revise that branch of the public service; but, before advising any such alteration of an old office, the question would require ample consideration, and if it were found for the advantage of the public service to make an alteration, he had no hesitation in saying that an alteration would be immediately effected. Then, again, the Medical Department required considerable attention. Dr. Andrew Smith, upon whom he must say the public had passed somewhat too severe a censure, had now retired from the administration of that department, broken in health, in consequence of the exertions which he had been called upon to make during the last twelve months; and in the appointment of his successor various improvements would be introduced into the administration of the department. There were also other civil departments in which alteration and improvement were required, and to which every attention would be paid. In the speech of the noble Earl, allusion was made to the services of the Master General of the Ordnance, and the noble Earl impressed upon the Government the necessity, in future, of having that high officer in the Cabinet as a military assistant. Now, with the exception of Lord Anglesey, he (Lord Panmure) did not believe that, for the last thirty or forty years, a Master General of the Ordnance had had a seat in the Cabinet. [The Earl of ELLENBOROUGH: The Duke of Wellington.] The Duke of Wellington had certainly possessed a seat in the Cabinet, but not as Master General of the Ordnance; and, happily, for many years past, the occasions had been but rare when the Government required the advice of that officer. At the same time, he quite agreed with the noble Earl that, if a military officer could be found who would be willing to range himself with the political party of the day, and was at the same time capable of conducting the duties of a high military office, it would be of advantage to the public service to place that officer in the closest possible connection with the Government. With reference to what had fallen from his noble Friend (Earl Grey), he felt bound to say that there were several points in which he differed from his noble Friend. His noble Friend went much further in military reform than he did, for he (Lord Panmure) could not believe that it would be at all expedient to place the Commander in Chief, as head of the army, under the control of a civilian. As to the wish expressed by his noble Friend, and also by the noble Earl opposite, that the instructions given to the heads of the different branches of military administration should be distinct and precise, and should be embodied in some document to be laid upon the table of the House, he could not have the smallest objection to accede to that request. It was highly necessary that the public officers should fully understand what their duties were to be; and as soon as possible, the information desired by their Lordships would be laid upon the table.


observed that, since a noble Lord had adverted to the subject of a civilian being First Lord of the Admiralty, he would take the opportunity of stating that he entirely ac- ceded to the opinion expressed in that most interesting and valuable document which Sir George Cockburn had left as a legacy to the country, that it was expedient that the First Lord of the Admiralty should be a member of the naval profession. He must say that he thought the noble Lord opposite, as Secretary of State for the War Department, would stand in a much stronger position in the Cabinet if he had on one side a distinguished officer like Sir William Parker or Sir George Seymour, and on the other such a man as Sir John Burgoyne, Lord Seaton, or Sir Howard Douglas, than he did at present with Sir Charles Wood on one side and his own shadow on the other.


said, he had one remark to make in reference to the Transport Board. The moment the war was concluded, the Transport Board, as at present constituted, would cease to exist. It was wrong, however, to say that the Transport Board was not in communication with the War Office; for, although in more immediate communication with the Admiralty, the head of that Board transacted business with the War Department every week, and he believed that the Board had been so worked that there had been no instance in which the War Department had made demands upon it that had not been speedily supplied.


said, that if a member of the Transport Board communicated with the Secretary for War and took his orders, he should like to know what, in fact, was the authority left to Captain Milne at the Admiralty?


replied, that the head of the Transport Board communicated to the War Department for the purpose of ascertaining the business which was to be transacted. The official business was conducted between the Secretary of State and the Board of Admiralty in the usual manner.

House adjourned to Monday next.