HL Deb 22 February 1861 vol 161 cc763-81

in rising to call the Attention of the House to the Proposal for forming a Brigade of Royal Artillery out of the Tipperary Regiment of Militia Artillery, said—My Lords, I have often had occasion to address this House since I had the honour of a seat in it, and I have always experienced from your Lordships the greatest kindness and forbearance. I cannot doubt, therefore, that I shall experience the same kindness when I rise on the present occasion to make an explanation on a subject on which I feel deeply interested, and which has already attracted a considerable degree of public notice; and that your Lordships will allow me to take advantage of the seat which I have the honour to possess in your Lordships' House to explain the part I took in the matter, and to show that I, at all events, am not to blame for what has taken place. In making the statement I am about to do, I beg to explain that I have no wish to resort to any invidious reflection on the Government, or on the noble Lord who is at the head of the War Department. My only object is to set myself right in the eyes of your Lordships and of the public as to my conduct in the matter. For several years it has been my pride and happiness lo command one of the Militia Regiments of the county of Tipperary. I was appointed to the command in the year 1849, when the Militia was not organized, and when it was not expected that the active services of this body would be required. Some years afterwards, however, when the disasters occurred at the commencement of the Crimean war, the services of the Militia were very generally brought into requisition, and, as I held the Commission of Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment, I took the command of the Tipperary Artillery Militia, and remained with it until its disembodiment in 1856. In 1858 the services of the Regiment were again required. It was embodied for active service in the month of October of that year, and from that time to the present day it has continued upon active service. It would ill become me to speak at any length of the efficiency of the corps; but, I may be permitted to state that all the General Officers of the districts where it has served have been unanimous in their praise of the discipline and good conduct of the men. I have pride in stating that the regiment has served under the command of Major-General Eden, Lieutenant-General Maunsell, Lieutenant-General Scarlett, and Major-General Eyre, and that one and all have borne testimony to the efficiency and good conduct of the regiment. We have also had the honour of being inspected by his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, who has also borne his testimony to the efficiency of the corps. I take no credit to myself for the high state of discipline and good conduct of the men;—it is due to the way in which the other officers of the regiment exerted themselves, as well as to the exemplary conduct of the men all the time of their embodiment. I was certainly fortunate in having such a fine material for soldiers to work upon, for I believe in physical appearance no class of men in the world can equal the peasantry of Tipperary, or rival them in the singular aptitude they have always shown in mastering the details of military evolutions. I need hardly add that the sobriety and general good conduct of the men was quite equal to the rest of their good qualities. In the latter part of the year 1859 a rumour prevailed that it was the intention of the Government to make a large addition to the Royal Artillery—to the extent, it was said, of three brigades. Perhaps I may mention, for the information of such of your Lordships as are not familiar with these phrases, especially as the term itself is new, that a brigade of the Royal Artillery is equal to a battalion, and consists of eight batteries or companies. I need hardly add that, if such were the intentions of Government, it would be a great convenience to them to obtain at once the services of a complete brigade without going through the trouble and labour of recruiting, or of training the men when they bad got them. Under this impression I took the liberty of addressing a letter to his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, suggesting that such a brigade might be raised by the transfer of the services of the Tipperary Artillery to the regular army. I thought, and still think, that if that arrangement had been carried out the claims of the officers of the regiment should not be overlooked. The officers, by their exertions and by their influence in the country, had attracted the men from their homes to join the regiment; by their diligence and attention to their duties they had greatly contributed to the efficiency and discipline of the regiment; and I thought, therefore, that it was fair and just if the services of the men were required, and if the men were transferred in large numbers to the Royal Artillery, the claims of the officers to the favourable notice of the Government should also be fully considered. I, therefore, proposed that a certain number of commissions in the infantry of the Line—not in the Royal Artillery, I beg your Lordships to remark —should be granted to the officers of the regiment in consideration of the men being transferred to the Royal Artillery. Fur several weeks my letter was under the consideration of the noble Lord at the head of the War Department; but, at the end of a month, I received a letter stating that the offer could not be accepted. This was in the month of January, 1860. Having received this reply I dismissed all thought of renewing my application to the Government. I continued in the discharge of my duties in the regiment, but made no further application of any kind, either to the illustrious Duke or to the noble Lord at the head of the War Department. But in the month of September last intelligence arrived of the commencement of the war, which is still unfortunately raging In New Zealand. The first news of that event was not encouraging. It appeared that Her Majesty's forces, acting in conjunction with the local Volunteers, had met with a severe check; and it was reported that it was the intention of the Government to send out considerable reinforcements. At that time the officers of the regiment conceived a notion that Government might accept the services of the regiment on a plan somewhat similar to that which was adopted with some of the German regiments at the end of the Crimean war, and they asked me to make their wishes known to the proper authorities. It did not, I confess, appear to me at all likely that the noble Lord would listen to such a proposal; but I felt it was due to the officers, who expressed an earnest wish that I should forward their request. I did so, not through any private channel, but in the usual official course. I forwarded it to my immediate commander Major-General Eyre, who communicated it, to his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, from whom it was sent to the War Office. I forwarded at the same time a letter addressed to me by the majer who was second in command, suggesting that, if the proposal for military colonization should be deemed impracticable, it would be easy to obtain the services of the officers and men as a battalion of the Line for general service. Your Lordships will observe that, in all these communications with the War Office, of which I was the medium, no proposition was made that any of the officers of the regiment should be introduced to the Royal Artillery. Such a notion, till I heard it from the War Office, never entered my head. I was aware of the peculiar services of that corps, of their scientific education, of the examination through which they had to pass, and the laborious study they had to undergo; and I was aware that the officers of the Tipperary Artillery had not gone through that course of education, and that they could not be placed on a par with the officers of the Royal Artillery. I certainly, therefore, never proposed, nor thought of proposing, any such arrangement to the Government. After the proposition of the officers was made to the noble Lord I was given to understand that he had under his consideration a plan for the transfer of a portion of the Tipperary Regiment to the Royal Artillery, and of forming them into a new brigade, and that it was intended at the same time to grant to the officers commissions in the Royal Artillery. I first heard of that proposition, not from the noble Lord himself, but from a Gentleman in the War Office. I stated at once that I thought that was a most extraordinary arrangement—that such an arrangement had never entered my head; but at the same time I felt that I was not the proper judge of its propriety, and that the Secretary of State, having the assistance of his Staff at the War Office, had the best means of forming an opinion, and would be best acquainted with the feelings and prejudices of the Royal Artillery. I therefore accepted the proposal when it was made to me. The first time I heard of the plan was on the 25th of October, but I had no communication with the noble Lord till the 11th of November, when, being in London with another officer of the regiment, I wrote to the noble Lord to say that I was informed he had such a plan in contemplation, and expressed my willingness to wait on him and give him information as to details. I accordingly had an interview with him on the following day accompanied by Major Massy. The noble Lord did not finally decide till the 30th, so that the noble Lord will do me the justice to say I did not press him to any hasty decision. I remained perfectly quiet till he had officially determined on his plan. Up to the time when I received information from the noble Lord that he had finally decided the plan should be carried out, though I mentioned the matter privately to two of the officers, I considered it my duty not to to communicate it to the regiment. But when I was informed that the plan was fully decided on, it was necessary that both officers and men should be made acquainted with it; because, my Lords, it was a question whether 600 men could or could not be prevailed upon to join the Royal Artillery—your Lordships are aware that that could not be done without the consent of each individual man, nor without the hearty goodwill of both the commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the regiment. One of the advantages held out to the officers, both commissioned and noncommissioned, was that in having their services transferred to the Royal Artillery they were to retain their rank. I assembled the officers and noncommissioned officers, and told them in plain language the offer that I had been authorized to make to them, and they expressed their willingness to accept it. Every preparation was made, a number of officers and men who were absent on leave were recalled; and so certain was I that the noble Lord would carry out the general plan, with all its details, that I had absolutely the lace and buttons of the Royal Artillery pattern ready to be fitted on the tunics of the men. I waited for the order day after day. No order came; until, at the end of the month, I received a letter from the War Minister informing me that the plan was abandoned. These circumstances, as your Lordships will admit, placed me in a most painful position. Having held the command of the regiment for many years, and having never during that time broken a promise, expressed or implied, to either officers or men, I felt greatly humiliated when I had to communicate this result to the regiment. Could I, holding Her Majesty's commission, tell them that Her Majesty's Minister had broken his word to them? It was impossible. I could not tell the men they had been ill-treated. I was obliged to keep silence. With regard to the plan proposed by the noble Lord, it is no part of my duty to defend it. No doubt the noble Lord the Secretary for War will state the grounds upon which he thought it expedient to adopt; it and the grounds upon which he, afterwards, thought it more expedient to abandon it. Some persons might regard the arrangement as a feasible one; others might entertain a contrary opinion. It is an intricate question, and one on which there is much diversity of opinion. But, as the commander of the regiment in question, my duty was a subordinate one. On the one hand I was anxious to secure to Her Majesty the benefit of the services of the men under my command; and, on the other hand, it was my duty to protect the fair and just interests of the officers. Allow me to repeat that the notion of transferring into the Royal Artillery, Militia officers who had not been fully educated in their profession, and who had not gone through the competitive course for Artillery officers, never entered my head. I did not propose such a transfer, nor did I know anything about it until it was proposed by the Secretary for War. Of course it was not in my province to raise objections. I might have had my own opinion as to the feasibility of the plan; but it was clearly my duty, as the commander of the regiment, to assist the Government in carrying out their project. I can only say that I regret extremely its withdrawal. It would, perhaps, have been far better if the proposal bad never been made; but, having once been made, it was most unfortunate that it was not carried out. Military men have commented on the fact that the Secretary for War, having duly considered the subject and consulted with those best able to advise him, had made up his mind to a certain course, and this determination had been communicated to the officers and men of the Militia regiment; but the officers of the Royal Artillery had power enough to induce him to reverse his decision and abandon the scheme. The precedent is rather a dangerous one. The Royal Artillery form a large body of men, mustering something over 20,000, and its numbers will be materially increased by the addition of the late East India Company's force. In the course of a few years it may become highly necessary to remodel this force, and whenever the time comes I hope the noble Lord will have sufficient firmness to carry out any plan which he may think best for the interests of the service in spite of the adverse opinions of Artillery officers. It is not fitting that any body of officers should be able to upset the decision of a Minister of the Crown. I hope such a thing will never occur again, and that when the noble Lord next proposes a plan he will not allow his opinions to be overborne in this way.


My Lords, I certainly have no cause of complaint against the noble Earl either for bringing forward this subject, or for the terms and the tone of the speech which he has just made. When I thought it my duty to abandon the scheme for converting the Tipperary Militia Artillery into a brigade of Royal Artillery, I wrote to the noble Earl frankly stating the difficulties in the way, and telling him that I regretted to have to take upon public grounds a course of which he and the officers under his command might have reason to complain. I do not know that it is very necessary to go back to the question which the noble Earl has raised as to who originated this plan; but I must say, that I heard just now with surprise, and for the first time, that the noble Earl had never contemplated that his officers should receive commissions in the Royal Artillery. In his letter to me, written in 1859, the noble Earl said that his men would join under certain conditions, adding that the two field officers, four captains, four first and four second lieutenants should receive commissions of equal rank "in the regular service." I say, upon my honour, that until I heard him speak this evening it never once occurred to me that this passage in his letter did not apply to the Royal Artillery. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, read it the same way, for he communi- cated to me his doubts whether it was right to grant Artillery commissions to Militia officers, inasmuch as it might create discontent among the regular officers of the Artillery. I have no doubt, now, the noble Earl meant commissions in the Line, but I hope I may be held blameless for believing that he referred to the transfer of his officers to the Royal Artillery. At the time we wanted an additional Artillery brigade. This year the Militia Artillery is, or is about to be, entirely disembodied. To replace the 3,000 or 4,000 artillerymen whom we were thus about to lose, it was necessary to take measures to fill up the gap, and when the noble Earl suggested that his men should be sent out as military settlers to New Zealand, it occurred to me that his first proposal would be the more convenient one. In conversation, two or three plans were mentioned. I said, "We have sufficient battalions of the Line; it is not necessary to add to them. On the other hand, I do not think that in sending military settlers to the Cape of Good Hope, we have been so successful as to encourage a repetition of that experiment." That, therefore, fell to the ground. But it was necessary to raise a new brigade of Artillery, and it seemed to me well to accept for that purpose a regiment which had a deserved reputation. The noble Earl has not overstated by one iota the merits of his regiment. The Commander-in-Chief spoke of it as a remarkably fine body of men, and their conduct has been admirable. Of the men themselves, I can speak in the highest terms of commendation. When I was at Chatham, I asked General Eyre whether the small number of entries in the defaulters-book, showed good conduct on the part of the men, or whether there existed a lax system of discipline. The reply was that the men were really as well behaved as they seemed to be from the book; and they were provident as well as sober and steady, for they had as large a sum in the savings'-bank as any regiment in the service. It was not, therefore, to be wondered at that I was anxious to lay my hands, if I could, upon 600 capitally trained gunners. We raise our Army by voluntary enlistment, and we are able to do so now with greater facility than at any previous period. I believe, at the present moment the English Army is complete—a most unusual thing. When we had to raise 12,000 men, I recollect that we did so with great difficulty, but now we raise 24,000 with much more ease. There exists at present greater willingness on the part of labouring men to join the service; but, at the same time, though you thus get excellent material, you do not enlist regularly drilled soldiers. Here, however, was an opportunity of getting ready made soldiers, and of thus saving some time and expense. I must say, I think that the course which I pursued is one which under circumstances of pressure and emergency, would be a sound one. It ought not to be made a rule. The Artillery officers were afraid lest this should be drawn into a precedent for the appointment over their heads of men who had not gone through the scientific training exacted from themselves. But, let me state what it was that I think justified my proposal. Is it true that a great number of Militia officers would have come in over the heads of the officers of the Royal Artillery? I believe, the number who would have thus come in was one field-officer, one major, two first captains, and four second captains, and seven subalterns. That, I believe, is about the number that would have come in, I should be sorry to dispute the accuracy of the noble Lord's recollection of what passed at his interview with me; but, I suppose, no two men ever preserve precisely the same recollection of a conversation, and this is another illustration of it. I must admit, that in the conversations we had, I found the noble Earl a most zealous advocate of the interests of the Militia, and, I think, in the interview we had, he got the better of me. He stated that, in carrying out the proposal, we must not part the officers from the men, and that there was one officer in particular who must be kept with them—the adjutant. Now, this does not look like his contemplating transferring the officers of the Militia to the Line, for the men, it is clear, were to go into the brigade of Artillery. The plan was arranged on the basis that one field-officer should come into the Artillery, and the other officers I have mentioned, each in a grade lower than he held in the Militia. Another question between us was, whether the officers should undergo an examination. I maintained that for officers of the Royal Artillery it was impossible to dispense with an examination; the question was, what kind of examination it should be. There is the ordinary examination for Militia officers leaving it to go into the Line. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief decided that all officers entering the Line from the Militia must undergo an examination, and that it should be the same examination that a subaltern officer of the Line undergoes when he passes for the rank of captain. I proposed that, matatis mutandis, that the same examination held on Artillery subjects, should be passed by the Tipperary officers. The noble Earl objected to this, that it was not the ordinary Militia examination; but, without being exacting, I felt that it was not for me to lower the standard of the examination for the Royal Artillery. On that I took my stand. Some of the objections made to the plan we proposed were unreasonable, and had there been a prospect of war, I should not have hesitated to carry the plan out; but many of the officers of the Royal Artillery have served with great distinction, and were likely to object to others being placed over their heads without any emergency to justify it. The Royal Artillery is a peculiar body of men. The officers are highly educated men, and have gone through a long course of scientific study. I believe there is not a finer corps of Artillery in the world. But—it is, perhaps, natural in a body of such acquirements—they have something close and exclusive among them. I do not think there would have been any resistance to the plan founded on perfectly just principles. Officers have been introduced into other regiments per saltum on more occasions than one; but, in those cases, the course of promotion was not affected beyond those regiments. It would not have been so in the case of the Royal Artillery. In that corps men are promoted in one brigade by deaths in another, and in the course of events it might have happened that Artillery officers of long service might have found themselves commanded by the officers from the Militia. There was a great deal of dissatisfaction in the Artillery on the announcement of the plan, as being unjust to them; and I thought it my duty not to persist in a course that created such dissatisfaction in a large and valuable body of men. The noble Earl says I ought to explain why I did not go on with the plan. I can only say that I found I had made a blunder, and, having done so, I thought it better to acknowledge it, than to go on and thereby injure the public service. The Artillery officers thought the admission of the Militia would become a system. That was not likely. It would be a most extravagant course to pursue to embody Militia Artil- lery regiments, in order to receive them into the regular Artillery corps — almost as bad as the Chinese plan of burning a house to roast a pig. But the fact is, this was an isolated case. The regiment was about to be disembodied, and I was anxious to secure these men for the public service. I found that I had been in error —that an objection had been raised which was founded in justice. I consulted others — I took military advice; and after discussing the whole question, I determined to write to the noble Earl and frankly state the course which I felt bound to pursue. I stated that I felt greatly annoyed at the course events had taken, and especially at finding that the officers were likely to be disappointed of that which it was supposed I had held out to them. In answer to my letter the noble Earl wrote to me, saying, that while holding his commission it was impossible for him to give vent to his feelings in adequate terms, but that he intended to resign his commission, and then he would take an opportunity of expressing his opinion of my motives and conduct, and of bringing the matter before your Lordships' House. I hope the noble Earl did not consider me discourteous in not answering his letter; but, knowing the consequences which sometimes follow a correspondence conducted under feelings of irritation at a supposed wrong — and here I frankly admit there had been a real wrong —I thought it better to communicate with the major of the regiment. If anything could increase my vexation at being compelled to disappoint the officers of that Militia regiment it would be the admirable manner in which they bore that disappointment. They behaved like gentlemen, and I felt that I owed them every reparation in my power. I asked His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief whether, under the circumstances, he did not think it would be fair to offer to those officers commissions in the Line. To this His Royal Highness assented. Some officers have accepted the offer, and are about to be appointed. I have given appointments to one or two; and if this cannot be received exactly as compensation, still, I hope, it will be received as evidence that I had no bad feeling towards the officers of the regiment in acting as I have done. Indeed, the idea of my being actuated by ill-feeling is childish. In the whole transaction I studied the interest of the public service, and not especially that of the Tipperary Militia; but I felt that I had unwillingly injured the officers of that regiment, and I was most desirous of giving the utmost reparation in my power. Commissions as subalterns in the Royal Artillery were also offered to some of these officers, but, up to this time, there have been no applications—which is not surprising, considering what has taken place. As to the men, I still hope that many of them who entered the regiment while it was embodied in the hope of permanent service, may be inclined to enter the ranks of the Royal Artillery, where they will meet with a hearty welcome. I have now stated what were my motives and intentions in this matter. I regret that they have resulted in failure, because it would have been, I believe, for the public benefit; but at the same time I hold that in dealing with officers it is important to respect their feelings—even their prejudices if you will—and that we ought not in our proceedings, if we can help it, or without paramount reasons, to wound their feelings with respect to any privileges they may enjoy. I have now said all that bears upon the case, as far as it has been raised by my noble Friend, and I thank your Lordships for the patience with which you have listened to me upon what is a dry, and may appear to some, a small subject, but which is not small if it irritates the feelings of any persons in Her Majesty's service, or inflicts hardships upon officers so efficient, so patriotic, as the officers of the Tipperary Militia; and I should regret to leave any impression upon their minds that I had been wilfully the means of inflicting a disappointment upon them.


—My I Lords, it is my duty, in the official position which I hold, to bear my share of the responsibility for the proceedings which have led to this discussion; for, although the actual negotiations were between the noble Earl and the Secretary of State, I took part in them afterwards. It is a mistake to suppose that I ever opposed the arrangement suggested, and I am quite willing to bear my share of responsibility for what was done. I will, therefore, state why, as a military man, I consented that the regiment in question should be received into the Royal Artillery. The noble Earl made a proposal at the end of 1859 that this regiment should be received into the Royal Artillery. I may say here that I was astonished, as my noble Friend was, when I beard for the first time tonight that the noble Earl did not intend ail the officers should be transferred to the Royal Artillery. I confess that after having read his letter several times I had come to the same conclusion as the Secretary of State, for the noble Earl distinctly stated that he wished the regiment to be called the Brigade of Tipperary Artillery. He also stated the number of officers whom he wished to be turned over to the regular army; and certainly until this time I had understood him to mean that the officers should go with the men. But, however, after what the noble Earl has said to-night it seems that we were mistaken in that opinion. I will now proceed to state why I did not object to the arrangement in question. At the time when we first heard of this proposal the time was fast approaching when all the Militia regiments would be disembodied. Among the Militia regiments that would be so disembodied were six or seven Artillery regiments, and the reason why I requested the Secretary of State to retain the services of Artillery rather than Infantry Militia was that, with the large number of guns we are mounting in all directions, and the heavy duties which they are called upon to perform, we have really not a sufficient force of Artillery at home to perform those duties. However, as the time was approaching when these six or seven regiments, comprising 3,000 or 4,000 men, would be disembodied, it became a serious subject of consideration how their places could be supplied; for, although the Secretary of State had added to the Royal Artillery, still there was a great inadequacy for the amount of duties to be performed. On the 1st of April all the Militia regiments will cease to be embodied. There is now an Artillery Militia regiment in Ireland, and we have Dot the means of sending out another regiment to replace it, in addition to the difficulty there will be in finding garrisons for all the forts. It might be said that if these regiments were disembodied we could raise additional men with the greatest facility; but the question is not merely that of raising the men, it is necessary that at a certain date we should have complete batteries to replace them. When I came to read the Report which, in justice to the noble Earl, to his regiment, to the Secretary of State, and to myself I must quote, I found that this regiment was in such excellent order as to be fit for immediate introduction into the regular Artillery, and I made up my mind that if this body of men, in such order and discipline, could be brought into the regular Artillery at once it would be of great advantage to the public service. Therefore, although I would be the last person to sanction the introduction of a system which might hereafter act prejudicially, of permitting officers of the Militia to enter the Royal Artillery, which should be kept as a scientific corps, still it was a choice of evils; and I would have preferred the introduction into the Royal Artillery of three or four second captains and a few subalterns at the bottom of the list to risking the loss to the public service of 600 or 700 trained men who could have been sent to any part of the United Kingdom, and who would at once have formed a complete, efficient, and well-organized brigade. I will now read the last Report of Major-General Eyre, upon which I chiefly dwell as a justification of our entertaining this arrangement. This is a singularly fine and efficient body of men. There is not an indifferent looking recruit in the ranks. The quiet orderly conduct of the men up to the present time cannot be too favourably reported upon. There has been no serious crime in the regiment, and the cheerful, ready manner in which the men obeyed their officers' orders and conform to their wishes in all cases is most excellent. In all respects they appear to be a contented and well conditioned body, and it is evident that the officers take considerable interest in the men. The books are well kept. There is a large amount in the savings bank, which the officers seem to think will be made use offer emigration to the United States when the regiment is disembodied. In that case there can be no doubt that the loss of such a body of men would be a misfortune. General Eyre, I need hardly observe, is one of the most conscientious and correct officers in the service, and any statement coming from him is not a mere complimentary statement, but one that could safely be acted upon. Such, then, being the statement which he made as to the admirable condition of this corps, and feeling that it would be a serious disadvantage to lose the services of these 600 men, especially as we wanted complete batteries in various parts of the United Kingdom, I thought it would be so beneficial to the public service to continue these men in an embodied state that I did not hesitate to give my most cordial approval to the proposal of my noble Friend the Secretary of State. My noble Friend the Secretary of State has frankly admitted that he thinks he made one mistake with respect to the introduction of a lieutenant-colonel and captain; and I am myself of opinion that if he had not made that mistake we should not have heard all the complaints which have since been made. The Secretary of State had my concurrence in not bringing this arrangement to a conclusion, because I think a certain amount of injustice might have been done, though certainly not because the officers of the Royal Artillery complained of the results to them if the plan should be carried into effect. As a rule, I should be sorry to see officers introduced into the Royal Artillery who have not gone through all the professional training which it was essential to keep up; but it was a choice of evils whether we should lose the services of this valuable corps, or whether we should introduce two or three second captains and subalterns; and at this moment I am still of opinion that no real injustice would have been done to the Royal Artillery if those two or three second captains had been so introduced. As a military man, my Lords, I had a wish not to reject the offer which came from the noble Earl. I concur in what my noble Friend has said as to the excellent conduct of the officers of the Tipperary Militia Artillery. Nothing could exceed the admirable temper and good taste with which they bore that disappointment which I, for one, regret that they should have had to sustain.


as one who had for some time been connected with the Royal Artillery, wished to make one or two remarks on the question before their Lordships. He could nut refrain from expressing his opinion after the statements to which he had just listened, that injustice — and great injustice, too—would have been done to the Royal Artillery if a single second captain or subaltern of the Tipperary Militia had been allowed to pass over officers who had gone through a high scientific training, and obtained their commissions by a severe examination. But he would ask whether it would not have been possible to retain the services of this most valuable regiment without such a bargain as that which was proposed? The Government had the power of offering a bounty which they could increase if necessary; and he saw no reason why the Government should not have proposed to give a greater bounty to these men who were so well trained, than was usually given to raw recruits on entering the Queen's service. It would have been perfectly competent for the Government to have made such an offer, because it was well known that the amount of the bounty paid on enlistment was increased or diminished according to the difficulty of obtaining men, or to the exigencies of the public service. It had been asked how this case could be a precedent. Comparisons were odious; but he must say there were various other Militia Artillery regiments in different parts of the country who were also in a very efficient state; and the officers of those corps would already have a like claim for commissions in the Royal Artillery; nor could he see how such claims could be resisted if rank was given to the officers of the Tipperary regiment. Indeed, he believed, if the whole truth of the matter could be elicited that the applications from those other regiments for like favour had more effect in promoting the carrying out of the proposed arrangement than any protest from officers. He sin cerely rejoiced that the Government had declined to accede to the proposal that had been made to them, and had abandoned their intention to do that which would have inflicted an injustice upon the officers of the Royal Artillery.


— The illustrious Duke has satisfied me, both that Her Majesty's Government were quite right in entertaining the proposal for transferring this regiment to the Royal Artillery, and also that they were quite wrong in abandoning it. The illustrious Duke convinced me that there exists that case of emergency in which the noble Lord the Secretary of State said he would not have hesitated to sanction this proposal. In the present state of Europe, with the known preparations for warfare by sea as well as by land, now made on the part of France, willingly to sacrifice, not only this regiment, but the other Militia Artillery regiments spoken of by the noble Lord opposite—willingly to sacrifice 3,000 or 4,000 trained Artillerymen at such a moment, seems to me, my Lords, absolute infatuation. If, therefore, it is not now too late, I hope the noble Lord the Secretary of State will yet be induced to reconsider and change his determination. It appears to me that at the close of this negotiation the decision at which Her Majesty's Government arrived was one in which the public interests were less regarded than the professional prejudices of a very distinguished corps. I feel very deeply on this subject, because I have at all times, when I have had the opportunity, endeavoured to press upon your Lordships the want of sufficient preparation on the part of this country. We are now called upon to give up the services of 600 artillerymen who have received the highest character that I ever recollect being bestowed upon any regi- ment at any period. They consist, it appears, of eight companies, and we are told that each company serves a battery of artillery. We are, therefore, to lose the services of forty-eight guns on the field of battle, which might be decisive of the fate of London, or of this country, in order to exclude from the Royal Artillery one field officer. My Lords, I have no recollection of any occasion on which small views were to so great an extent allowed to overrule great public objects. I do hope that, if the noble Lord continues to exercise his power over our military department, he will take the same just view of the public interest as he took in the first instance in this matter, and that he will exhibit greater firmness than he has shown on this occasion in maintaining his own correct opinion of what is necessary for the public service.


My Lords, I cannot concur with the noble Earl who has just sat down, in thinking that the error committed by the Government in this matter was in abandoning the measure on which they had resolved. I dare say there would have been considerable temporary convenience in retaining the services of this Militia regiment; but I believe that that temporary convenience would have been dearly purchased by giving a just ground of dissatisfaction to such a body of officers as those belonging to the Royal Artillery. I think my noble Friend the Secretary of State was quite right in candidly acknowledging the mistake into which he had been led, and in at once determining to give up the plan the moment he felt satisfied that an injustice would be done by it. But it seems to me that what has taken place in this instance affords a striking proof of the truth of what I have more than once endeavoured to impress on your Lordships— that whatever permanently embodied force this country maintains ought to be invariably connected with the regular army, and the regular army only. I wish to call your Lordships' attention to the inconvenience that has arisen from departing from the original scheme of the Militia. When the Militia Act passed in 1852 it was declared, and Parliament, by introducing a clause to that effect, confirmed the engagement that the Militia was never to be permanently embodied, except in the actual apprehension of invasion. On the faith of that, both officers and men entered into the corps. Most unfortunately, when the Russian war broke out this plan was departed from, and a large number of Militia regiments were permanently embodied. You passed an Act to alter the terms on which those regiments were raised. You were compelled, in ordinary justice, to allow all the men who wished to retire from the regiments. But this did not obviate the inconvenience, or correct the injustice of what had been done, because though many of the privates did avail themselves of the power of retiring from the service, the officers did not, feeling that it would be a reproach to them if at such a time they had availed themselves of the privilege. But what has been the effect? The permanent embodying of the Militia at that time has driven from the great majority of regiments that class of persons of whom they used chiefly to be composed —I mean country gentlemen, and others who had some other occupation, which prevented them from devoting themselves permanently to the service—the very persons whom it was desirable should remain in the Militia—and to substitute for them gentlemen of no local connections and no other pursuits in life to prevent them from devoting the whole of their time to the service. By embodying Militia regiments, instead of augmenting the numbers of your regular army, you get necessarily an inferior class of officers. All gentlemen who really desire to take up the military life as a profession, and pursue it earnestly, prefer going into the regular service; the consequence is that you are driven to officer your Militia with those who cannot obtain commissions in the regular service; and they must to a certain extent be inferior to the officers of the regular army. By this means, therefore, of embodying permanently a force not connected with the regular army, you are obliged to maintain regiments as expensive as the regular army, but less efficient, and which, when all the expense has been incurred, produce such difficulty as that which has now occurred. It is also extremely unjust both to the officers and the men to require them to serve in this way; for it is, in fact, asking them to take their place in a permanently embodied force, preventing them turning their attention to other occupations; and then in five or six years turning them adrift. The system is essentially vicious. The Militia ought to be, without doubt, a reserve force, ready for great emergencies, and it should con- sist of officers and men who are prevented from going into the regular army from some cause or other. After all, I am certain that neither the Commander-in-Chief nor my noble Friend the Secretary of State will differ from me when I say that let your Militia be as good as it can be, still our real dependence must be on the regular army.


said, he regretted extremely that the Secretary of State for War, and also the illustrious Duke should have misunderstood his letter of September. He must admit that the letter was carelessly worded, and might very fairly bear the interpretation the had put upon it. The next point of difference was with respect to the examination. What he proposed was that it should be the same examination which the officers of Militia went through upon entering the Line; and that examination, it was true, was not a very difficult one. On the other hand, however, the proposition of Lord Herbert was that the officers should be examined in artillery by a board composed of officers of the Royal Artillery. He (the Earl of Donoughmore) suggested that such a board would not be an impartial tribunal; and besides, it would have required a preparation of years successfully to pass through it. He was quite willing that there should be an examination upon such subjects as it was the duty of officers to know, but it would have been absurd to have them examined on subjects they knew nothing about, and that by a board of officers who must be extremely hostile to them. The noble Lord opposite had expressed a hope that the men would join other regiments; and he (the Earl of Donoughmore) would put no difficulty in the way; but the noble Lord must know little of the esprit de corps which actuated a body of men like this if he expected any large proportion of them to do so. He thanked the noble Lord the Secretary for War for the very courteous terms in which he had spoken of the regiment, and he also returned his thanks to the illustrious Duke for the expressions which he had been pleased to use.