§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
EARL DE GREY AND RIPON
, in moving the second reading of the Fortifications (Provision for Expenses) Bill, said, he would not trouble their Lordships with any general argument in favour of the scheme of defensive works already adopted by the Government and submitted to Parliament. Their Lordships would remember that a Commission, composed of officers of high standing and professional reputation and great scientific attainments, was appointed at the end of 1859. They made an investigation on the spot of the existing defences of the country, and reported their recommendations to Her Majesty's 797 Government. That Report received the most careful consideration from the Government. In 1860 the plan proposed by the Government was laid before Parliament, and received the sanction of the other House of Parliament by large and repeated majorities. The Bill passed their Lordships' House with almost perfect unanimity. Parliament, having thus adopted and sanctioned this plan, it seemed to him that it would neither be wise nor desirable to stop in mid career the undertakings commenced under that sanction, unless it could be shown that any circumstances had taken place during the last two years which proved either that they were inadequate or unsuited to the purpose; or that, on the other hand, the danger against which it was intended to provide had already passed away. The proposal of the Government at the time of which he spoke involved the construction of extensive fortifications for the defence of the principal forts and arsenals. The sum of £2,000,000 was voted on account, to enable the Government to commence the works. That sum would be, in a few months, entirely expended, and it was therefore necessary to come to Parliament and ask for a further sum towards carrying on the works, but, of course, within the total amount submitted to Parliament in 1860. In order to carry out the defences agreed upon, land had been purchased for the erection of works, and rights of clearance had been obtained over other adjacent lands, which were necessary to keep them free from obstruction. The land having been obtained, the works were commenced without delay. At Portsmouth the forts included in the plan had all been commenced; at Portsdown the works had made considerable progress; and at Spithead the foundations had been commenced, but the construction of the forts had for the present been suspended. At Plymouth the works of the sea defences had been commenced and advanced, and land had been acquired for the defences at the northeastern position, though the works had not been commenced. At Pembroke the fortifications had been proceeded with so far as the plans had been determined upon. At Portland new works were in course of construction. Land had also been provided for the site of the forts for the defence of the Thames and Medway. The new works for the protection of Chatham and Sheerness had not made so much 798 progress; but with these exceptions the various works were in different stages of progress. The sum for the present year which it was proposed to raise by this Bill was £1,200,000, which would be devoted to the carrying-on of those works which had received the sanction of Parliament. Considering the necessity for adequate supervision by the Engineer officers and the great demand upon the services of that corps at present, it was impossible to proceed with all the works at the same time or in the same degree, and therefore it was not proposed to take any money this year for the construction of a portion of the defences of Chatham, or of the intended central arsenal. These proposals were postponed, though not abandoned. At Spithead, also, the Government had determined not to proceed with the forts at present, although the suspension of these works involved the loss of the best period of the year, and had led to the expenditure of a sum of money which would otherwise have been saved. Pending, however, the experiments which were going on, the Government had thought it better not to continue the erection of these forts, and they did not propose to recommence them until they had had an opportunity of obtaining the opinion of Parliament in another Session. Under these circumstances, he did not anticipate that their Lordships would refuse to pass this Bill. The money to be raised under the Bill was for the purpose of carrying on works already proposed and sanctioned by Parliament, and which, in the judgment of Her Majesty's Government, were still as necessary for the defence of the country and the security of our ports and arsenals as they were considered to be in 1860. He knew of nothing that had since occurred which was calculated to alter the views previously expressed by their Lordships or the other House of Parliament. He therefore moved the second reading of the Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
— My Lords, I approve the general object of this Bill, and I do not object to the manner in which it is proposed to raise the funds for carrying into effect the plans of the Government. The object I understand to be to extend and improve the works of defence around our dockyards and arsenals, so as to adapt their means of defence to the improvements which have taken place in the means of attack. I quite admit that it is only 799 reasonable that the cost of these permanent works should be diffused over a certain number of years, in order that those who may hereafter derive the benefit may pay a portion of the expense. As regards the details of the measure, I am not in a position, nor are your Lordships, I think, in a position to form any judgment. Unless we were to go to the localities themselves, with the plan in our hands, accompanied by the Engineers who recommend the works, and what I should like still more, by other Engineers of whom we might make inquiries, it would be impossible to form a correct judgment of the efficiency of the plans proposed, or of the accuracy of the estimate of the intended expenditure. I must, indeed, express a hope that the Government have not acted on the sole opinion of the Engineer officers employed. I trust that some one of them possessed of common sense has brought his common sense to bear upon the scheme, especially to test the general propriety of the plan, the apparent sufficiency of the estimates, and the general fitness of the details; and in the hope and expectation that Her Majesty's Government have well considered the propriety of what has been done, I am content to leave the responsibility of the details with them. But, my Lords, I cannot approve the manner in which these works are being carried on by the Government, I see by the schedule that sixty different works have been undertaken, and that of these sixty, only seven are to be completed within the year. I observe that only £500 are required to complete the lines at Devonport; and yet for this small sum those works are left unfinished and exposed. There is either a breach which an enemy might take advantage of, or the whole extent of the works is in an unfinished state, so that the enemy might walk over them. I think, my Lords, that is a great defect. There is a still greater defect in respect to the more important works at Stokes Bay. A sum of £9,000 would completely finish the works, which protect Portsmouth at that most exposed point. Yet nothing is to be done this year with that object. It is a fact that a sum of £30,500, in addition to the £1,200,000 now asked for, would give the Government the means to complete no less than eight additional works within the year. I object altogether to a system of proceeding by which works, which are of urgent national necessity, instead of being expedited, have 800 their completion deferred for five or six years. The improvements in artillery, the great improvements in steam ships of war, and now the construction of iron ships, render it absolutely necessary that we should proceed without delay, by employing all the energies and resources of the country in removing the danger to which we are subject ed in consequence of those great changes. If the sea were to make a breach in a sea wall, no one interested in the lands about to be inundated would be considered to have made a judicious arrangement if he had determined on repairing the breach by works extending over five or six years—he would apply all his energies to removing the danger at once. In the case of a fire, no one would be considered wise who delayed taking the necessary measures for the safety of his premises, and who should content himself with throwing buckets of water upon the conflagration, instead of turning a stream upon it to put it out. My Lords, if there is no urgent and pressing danger to the country, there is no ground for this Bill; but if there is—and no doubt there is—urgent ground for this Bill, then all the energies of the country ought to be called into requisition for the purpose of completing these works and fortifications, and so at once meeting the danger. And now, my Lords, with regard to iron ships. I am quite astonished that the Government should be satisfied to allow the work of constructing iron ships to remain in the position in which it is. Superiority in iron ships now involves the superiority on sea, because no wooden ship can meet an iron ship. No ship can with impunity meet another ship, if that other ship can with impunity throw shells upon her deck. Before the invention of iron ships, the throwing of shells by two ships would have been fatal to both. Now, if a wooden ship and an iron ship meet, it will be fatal to the wooden ship only. Therefore it is essential that we should have a superiority in iron ships, in order to recover our superiority at sea, which temporarily we have lost, and on the maintenance of which depends, I may say, our existence as an independent Power. I believe it to be the fact that France has more iron ships than we have. If that be so, it is incontestable that the superiority at sea has passed from us to France. To recover that superiority it is essential that we should become, not only equal to France, but superior to France in the number and strength of our iron ships. It must be remembered that 801 in consequence of the extent of our colonies, and the number of our ships trading in all parts of the world, we have a much greater demand on our navy than France has on hers; and, therefore, although in wooden ships we may be superior to France, our wooden ships are not as available for concentrated action as those of France. Again, France has now much greater facilities than we have for suddenly manning her ships in time of war; and therefore on the sudden breaking out of hostilities she would have a very great advantage over us. And, my Lords, it is not only iron ships that we require. We also require to a very great extent new and much more extensive docks and basins for the purpose of repairing ships of war in times of hostility. I read the other day with very great interest, and I hope advantage, a pamphlet on the subject by Captain Den-man. I advise all your Lordships to read it, and I have no doubt it will attract the attention of the noble Duke at the head of the Admiralty. I do trust, my Lords, that the Government will feel the necessity of providing more extensive docks and basins without further delay, and will take into immediate consideration the means of providing them. When I was for a very few months in the office now held by the noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset), I asked whether some means could not be devised by scientific gentlemen and machinists for applying the power of the steam-engine to the excavating of earth and the carrying of it away. I saw the importance of improvements in this direction, owing to the enormous cost of works of the character to which I am now endeavouring to direct the attention of the Government. It is the enormous cost of the works necessary in the construction of docks and basins which deters Her Majesty's Government from doing that which is absolutely essential to give efficiency to our navy in time of war. The forts at Spithead, of which we heard so much some time ago, do not appear in this Schedule. I do not accuse Her Majesty's Government of having thrown them over without sufficient reason. I know that they made a "a strategic movement" with regard to those fortifications. I share with them in the regret with which they must have abandoned that portion of the scheme. I remember the time when 300 or 400 sail of merchantmen were waiting for convoy at that place; and, should a similar emergency arise, the persons 802 interested in those ships will most earnestly desire to have the protection of forts at Spithead. If Spithead should ever become a field of battle, as it is very probable that it will, those forts would be of very great advantage. Within the circle of their fire, those forts would practically make a lee shore to an enemy's fleet, and give a clear channel to ours. They would give us the command of one-third of the field. If in a game of chess black was confined to three-fourths of the board, while white could move his pieces over the whole board, it will be admitted that white would have a good chance of winning. That is precisely the case of the forts at Spithead. The opposition to those forts was made on the ground that iron ships would afford us better protection; but we have given over the forts, and we have not heard of the iron ships. The patriotic Gentlemen who were anxious to have iron ships in preference to forts must feel disappointed when they find, that though the latter have been given up in the case of Spithead, there is no additional grant asked for what they proposed as a substitute. With respect to Portsmouth, I beg your Lordships to bear in mind that its importance is not confined to its possessing a very great dockyard. It is the most important point for an enemy to take possession of as a tête-du-pont in case of war, with a view to prosecuting measures of serious invasion. Therefore on that ground, as much as because it is a very great dockyard, I am most anxious it should receive every protection from fortifications and works which it is possible to give it. Then, again, as regards railways and steam— railways and steam have produced a complete change in the whole character of warfare. They give an inestimable advantage to the Power that takes the initiative. In cases of unsuspected and sudden attack they give a power of concentration which in war is invaluable, and which, if possessed by an enemy in former times, when only sailing ships were in existence, would have given a very different turn to affairs. Under these circumstances it is of the greatest importance that the measures suggested by Her Majesty's Government should receive the careful consideration of your Lordships. Under any circumstances I should be of that opinion; but I will entreat your Lordships to consider the novel and very unfavourable position in which we should be placed at this time should we be compelled to enter into 803 a contest with France. In former wars— in the last two wars almost invariably— we had an alliance with one or more of the great military Powers of the Continent. To a great extent that caused a diversion in our favour, and divided the thoughts of our great enemy whenever he may have desired to attempt an invasion of this country on a great scale. We now know, that had it not been for the war with Austria in 1805, which made it necessary for the Emperor otherwise to employ troops who were to have sailed from Boulogne, an attempt would have been made against us. In 1809 Austria drew out of Spain a large force, and greatly contributed to our success in that country. There was always some Power which came to our assistance. It would be otherwise now. If we engaged in a war with France, we should be absolutely alone. It would be impossible for Austria, debilitated as she now is, whatever her ancient spirit, to engage in any but a defensive war. Russia is at present excluded from taking a part in the affairs of Europe by the state of Poland; and, besides, I deeply regret to observe, she is occupied at home by combinations, by conspiracies, which have taken the most odious form, for the parties are endeavouring to achieve their objects by incendiarism. The generous feeling of the Emperor, which caused him to desire the emancipation of the serfs, and induced him to produce a measure for that object perhaps not perfectly matured, has led to so great a social revolution that it is idle to suppose that under any circumstances Russia can move to our support. Prussia and the Zollverein remain; their condition is different, but he must be a sanguine man who would hope anything from Prussia. A sense of their own interests being endangered by our fall might, indeed, lead these Powers at last to come forward but they would never move in time to prevent a disaster, although they might possibly contribute to redeem it. Therefore, almost for the first time, we shall be left wholly alone in a contest with France. France has greatly increased in strength since the last European war. She has a vast population, united under the Government of the Emperor. She has a revenue which is equal, if not at present superior, to our own, and, in consequence of the cheapness of provisions and other advantages, it will produce much greater results. But would France be 804 alone? Would not the difficulties of England afford an opportunity for other nations to join against her? Can any one doubt, if the present conflict across the Atlantic were to terminate at a time when we were engaged in war with France, that the French fleet would be joined by the American? Filled with resentment for a non-existent hostility to them—the most false and unreasonable notion that ever was entertained, for at the commencement of the contest no people could have felt more kindly than we did towards the whole American nation—and with this exasperated feeling propagated and extended by all the efforts of their press, we cannot doubt that on any favourable opportunity we shall have to encounter the hostility of America as well as that of France. I have no doubt on this subject; and I offer the consideration to your Lordships as one of the greatest gravity. What is the present force of France? She had at the commencement of this year 447,000 troops under arms. It was intended to reduce that force to 400,000; but within a few days a further Vote has been asked for, in consequence of the effectives exceeding the number of the establishment; and there can be no doubt, that in consequence of the demands of the Mexican war it will be impossible for France to carry out the contemplated reduction. About 100,000 of the French army are employed in Algeria and the East and West Indies, and there remain at home 300,000. Of these, without the slightest danger, 200,000 can serve beyond the limits of their own country; and on their passing the frontier 200,000 soldiers of the reserve, equally fit for war, can be brought forward in the course of three weeks in augmentation of the depôts of the existing battalions. The force within the boundaries of France is thus raised again to 300,000, in addition to the National Guards, who number 265,000. This, my Lords, is the force with which France threatens—permanently threatens Europe. What is the force which we have to oppose to it? I will not talk of numbers, but of battalions, which are intelligible, and which of course would have artillery and cavalry attached to them. In all England we have, if I mistake not, forty-three battalions; and if every one of these was full to its proper complement, and if we abandoned Ireland, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Chatham, Dover, and every one of these forts which we have created, and brought every man 805 we have as a regular soldier to the defence of London, we could not by possibility muster more than 43,000 regular infantry. That is a very dangerous state of things, even upon paper; but we know that in point of fact not more than 30,000 men could be brought into the field. Then we have in addition 60,000 militia, effective and drilled. We ought to have a great many more; and if, in agricultural districts, country gentlemen would exert themselves, we should have double that number. It is to my noble Friend below me (the Earl of Derby) that we owe even the present state of the militia, for before his time nothing had been done to render that force efficient. We have also 15,000 yeomanry—excellent men, but not efficient for war; and, lastly, we have, I will not pretend to say what number of Volunteers; but we have altogether a force of irregulars estimated at 200,000. These battalions, however, except a few in the neighbourhood of London and other places, are not at present in a state in which any general could venture to put them in the field. More drill and discipline, and a little more money applied by the Government to good purposes where so much is thrown away upon bad, would give us the effective services of that large body of men, and place us in a state of the most absolute security from foreign invasion. With a desire for that absolute security I combine, as far as may be consistent, the strongest wish for stringent economy in all the departments of the State. But economy we have not heard of for many years. I recollect very well, when the late Lord Grey formed his Government, one of his pledges to the country was to reform the expenditure; and he thoroughly performed his promise, The Duke of Wellington was an economical Minister; Sir Robert Peel was likewise economical; but I never heard that the noble Lord at the head of the present Government added economy to his other claims on the confidence of the people. The result is, that in all directions new charges have grown up, the amount of which in the aggregate is enormous; and it is these immense charges on the revenue which make the public so unwilling to lay out money for defensive purposes of the most essential value. Even as regards the army, I cannot help thinking we ought to consider whether it is absolutely necessary that we should have by far the dearest army in the world. I know that about one-half of its cost—all that relates to the 806 pay of officers and soldiers, and to half pay and pensions—cannot be reduced; but, as regards the other half—the cost of the army departments—amounting to £6,500,000, we ought to see if an efficient economy cannot be practised. I will only take one point in illustration of my meaning. Attached to the army, small as it is, in different parts of the world, there are no less than 3,000 persons, military and civilians, employed for the purposes of conducting the several departmental services. In the single office of my noble Friend the Under Secretary of State there are no less than 500 employés—a number which appears enormous. I know that with that office, most unfortunately, various other offices have been consolidated, and I can only suppose that into it have been carried the undiminished staffs of all these others. The magnitude and variety of the duties devolving upon the Department render it almost impossible to exercise any very efficient supervision over its internal administration. I have looked through the salaries, and I do not see that a single man receives more than the services which he performs, if they are really necessary, fairly deserve. But I do question the necessity of such a large number of officials, and in that direction I think economy may fairly be introduced. I wish a reduction in the numbers, not in the salaries. We have also a vast educational army. At the beginning of the Session Her Majesty's Ministers endeavoured to reduce its costliness; but strong reasons were given for its maintenance. It at present consists of upwards of 35,000 persons, stalwart men and strong-minded women; and about 4,000, or rather more, may, it appears, be expected to be annually added to that number. That educational army alone absorbs a sum which would place in a state of the most perfect efficiency the whole of those 200,000 irregulars, whose discipline is now exceedingly imperfect. I do think that this is a consideration which ought to be weighed by Her Majesty's Government. If we could give to ourselves entire security from the foreigner by our internal strength, we should be enabled to exercise an influence which we cannot now possess for establishing real peace upon the continent of Europe. We have had no real peace since the Revolution of 1848. We have had an armed truce broken by two great wars. There has been from that period to the present in the minds of all men 807 great uneasiness, and a distrust of the future which has greatly impaired our enjoyment of the present. All States, I believe, without exception, have been compelled, or have thought themselves compelled, to incur great debts for the purpose of enabling them to maintain their security by arms. At the present moment Austria is to the last degree crippled by the debt which she has contracted with that object. Russia is coming into similar difficulties. Even France, which appeared so strong and so powerful in finance as well as in war, has heard of the approach of financial difficulty; and that financial difficulty has been met by an acknowledgment of error on the part of the Government, and by a very material change in the constitutional dealing by the Parliament with the public expenditure of the country. My Lords, that is a very exceptional and very dangerous mode of meeting a financial difficulty. It cannot be so met a second time. Your Lordships know well that financial dificulties are almost invariably the forerunners of political change. My Lords, we have now, owing to the Mexican war and the demands which that war makes upon the force of France, a respite of one year. I do trust that that time will be employed by the Emperor and others in salutary reflection. All Europe requires rest, and France alone can give it; France can give it, not by an oratorical declaration that "the empire is peace," but by substantial proof that peace is the object of the French empire; by the reduction of dangerous and threatening establishments that she may obtain, and we may obtain, the best fruit and most perfect guarantee of peace. I can hardly think that that feeling can be absent from the mind of the Emperor himself. He owes more to his people than any Sovereign in history ever owed before. They adopted him as the representative of a great name; they gave him their affection and confidence before they had an opportunity of knowing him; they have supported him throughout, giving him their men and granting him their money, and I do trust that he will feel that he will best show his gratitude to them and best promote their interests, not by raising vain notions of the repetition of conquests which have disappeared, and vain ideas of ambition; but by making them, as they may easily be made, the foremost in the race of social improvement, and the benefactors, as they have so long been the scourges, of mankind.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
My Lords, I should not have followed the noble Earl in this debate had he not alluded more especially to the Department over which I have the honour to preside. He has compared the expenditure under the present Government with the expenditure under the Governments of Earl Grey and the Duke of Wellington. If the noble Earl really wishes to go into that question, I will undertake to prove to the satisfaction of your Lordships that the apparent economy of those days arose chiefly from the smaller cost of the army and navy. The real fact is that changes in construction and in armaments have imposed upon us the necessity for a very much larger expenditure. Compare for a moment a vessel armour-plated and steam-propelled, as we have them now, with the sailing vessels which were models in 1832 or 1833. It is evident that the great changes that have taken place must have led to greatly increased expense. Everybody knows that vessels cost three or four times as much now as they did then, and that increase applies not only to their original construction, but also to their maintenance and repair. It is, therefore, quite idle to compare the expenditure upon the navy of the present day with the cost of the navy in the days of sailing vessels. The noble Earl has pointed to the fact that the army and navy of this country cost more proportionally than those of other countries. It is quite true that our navy costs more in proportion than that of France. Not long ago, when the last Returns of the expenditure on the French navy were received, I had an accurate calculation made of the comparative cost of ships of about the same size in our navy and in theirs, and it was found, that while the wages paid on board one of our 90-gun ships amount to £28,000 a year, the sum paid on the same account on board a French vessel of a similar class is under £19,000. But is our navy overpaid? On the contrary, everybody maintains that our sailors are not overpaid; and so little is it thought that the pay of our officers is excessive that there is at this moment before the House of Commons a notice of a Motion to obtain an increase of their remuneration; and only a year or two ago a pressure, in which the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me in office (Sir John Pakington) took part, was put upon the Government to secure a similar object. Therefore you cannot expect to make any Baying by re- 809 ducing the pay of your officers or seamen, or by diminishing the cost of your vessels. Then says the noble Earl, "it is your officials which absorb the money;" and he points to the War Office. It is quite true that both the Admiralty and the War Office are very large departments. An immense number of clerks are required in both of them; but I quite agree with the noble Earl that those gentlemen are by no means overpaid. They give their whole lives to the service, rising to emoluments which are but very small; and if it was not for the honour of serving the Crown, instead of being engaged in commercial houses, I believe that an adequate supply of able men would not be found to meet the wants of our public offices. Why do we employ so many clerks? I will tell you. It is required that there should be the means of giving accurate information on all matters connected with the navy, in any and every form which Members of Parliament may desire, and also accurate returns of every detail of our expenditure. Only about a year ago we at the Admiralty were very much pressed to give a balance-sheet like a mercantile account, showing every single item of expenditure upon the navy. There is no doubt that it can be done; but it involves the labour of an immense number of clerks, and of many men of high position in the Department; and if such a return is to be prepared, the country that requires it must pay for it. Then, as to the cost of building. Considering the great strength of our ships, I do not think that any money is thrown away upon them. We have tried building by contract as well as in the yards, so that the relative expenditure might be ascertained, and I do not think that we could build them much cheaper than we do. The noble Earl says that we ought to have a great many more iron ships. Upon that subject I have often addressed your Lordships, and have shown the difficulties which attend any advance in the rate at which we are building iron ships. We have, at the present moment, building at least ten or twelve different kinds of iron-plated ships—different sizes and different forms of vessels—in order that we may arrive at one which will be a good vessel without being a very costly one. We have also attempted to reduce the size of our vessels; and if we succeed in that respect, it will go far to meet the difficulty suggested by the noble Earl as to docks and 810 basins. If we can reduce the size and draught of water of our ships, we shall clearly avoid the great expenditure on those works, which will be necessary if we continue to build vessels of the present large size. Many naval men think that smaller vessels will be as effective, and for many purposes more effective, than large ones. Others undoubtedly think that our largest vessels are only just large enough, and ought not to be diminished in size. These are questions which you can only solve by experiment; and that experiment we are making. The noble Earl asked, "Why, when you stop your forts, do you not replace them by ordering more iron ships?" I think that, as a rule, supplemental Estimates for adding to the strength of the navy are objectionable, because they produce a feeling not only in this but in other countries which it is undesirable to excite. Last year I did come to Parliament and asked for more money for iron ships; but when I got it I was not able to spend it, because the contractors could not produce iron plates at the rate at which they were required. The consequence was, that although Parliament gave me all the money I sought, I was unable to expend it in the year, because the iron plates were either not prepared or were found to be so unsuitable that they had to be returned. Under those circumstances, as we were continually trying new contractors, in order to learn whether they could produce the sort of plate which we wanted, and as it was doubtful whether we could get it immediately, I did not think it advisable to ask Parliament for more money for that purpose. The labour of the dockyards is, however, now applied to the construction of iron-plated vessels, which competent naval judges assure me will be very powerful and effective. The noble Earl said he would like to visit the various fortifications, accompanied by the Engineers who planned them, and by another Engineer qualified to criticise them. For my own part, I never found two Engineers in a Select Committee who were not prepared at a moment's notice to express diametrically opposite opinions on almost any question; and I have no doubt that if the noble Earl made the tour in question in the company of two Engineers, he would have very different views as to the works. Taking a deep interest in this question, I have myself visited the various forts along with the Engineer officers who have charge of them, and I can bear testimony to the 811 energy and zeal with which they are carrying out the plans intrusted to them. The alterations which have taken place in the mode of attack rendered it indispensably necessary to make corresponding alterations in the mode of defence. Any one who has seen the old defences of Portsmouth, and compares them with the modern means of attack, will admit that it was necessary that they should be altered, and that is really what is being done there. In other places the works are required to defend the entrance to harbours, and I believe that these fortifications are the cheapest mode of defence that under the circumstances of modern warfare can be adopted.
§ THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
My Lords, I am sorry to prolong this discussion, but I think it would be unbecoming if I did not add a few words to what has already been said. I do not intend, in any respect, to enter on those political questions which the noble Earl has treated so ably and eloquently. I shall confine my remarks to those portions of the subject which are of a purely military character. I entirely agree with what my noble Friend has said as to our present force. It is a well-known and unquestionable fact that the force at home is really very insignificant for a great country like this. The Government are not, however, to be blamed on that account, for it is equally well known that there is a great indisposition, perhaps not unnaturally, throughout the country to add to our military expenditure. Now, it is perfectly impossible to maintain a large, even a moderately large force, unless the country is prepared to spend more money. Of course, every item of our military as well as of our other establishments—the smallest equally with the largest—should be subjected to the most searching economy. I am perfectly sure, that if any expenditure can be pointed out which is capable of reduction without mischievous consequences, neither the Government nor myself will for an instant shrink from applying ourselves to diminish it. But I am bound to say that having gone carefully over the Estimates for successive years, it appears to me impossible to reduce the cost of the service without impairing its efficiency. Of late years a good deal of additional expenditure has been incurred which has not been called for by us, but which has been demanded by the country, although I admit its value and am glad that it has been granted. I rejoice at these great and necessary im- 812 provements; but still they add considerably to the expenditure. Look at the sanitary arrangements in the barracks, for instance. The outlay for barracks is now double or treble what it was some years back. It has been much the same with other parts of the service. When I first entered the army, there was no Military Train; there were no proper Military Hospital Corps; there was no Commissariat Corps. Heavy expenses have been created by these and other improvements; but then they have greatly augmented the efficiency of the service, and have enabled us to send ont our armaments in a manner which has excited general satisfaction. If you were to strike off the expenditure for these objects, it would very much lessen the value of the establishments. If the noble Earl will look into these things, he will find that it is much easier to say there is extravagance than to point out exactly where it prevails. My noble Friend has complained of the large number of clerks in the War Office. I believe it would be found on inquiry that a third, if not a half, of these clerks are engaged in Returns connected with questions arising in the other House of Parliament, involving in many instances an enormous amount of detail. I do not object to that, but it is right to mention it on the present occasion. I quite agree with my noble Friend as to the amount of forces at our disposal. My noble Friend says that the infantry and artillery at home are much below the amount he would like to see. It is quite true that the infantry are much below what I desire, on the ground of humanity only. I should like to see an increase in the infantry, not merely in order to keep a greater force at home, but to insure the more regular relief of regiments on foreign service. I have endeavoured to make it a rule that every regiment should have a third of its time at home and two-thirds abroad. I do not think that either House can consider that an extravagant regulation; but we have never arrived at that point since I have had the honour of holding my present position. We have never had one-third of the infantry at home and two-thirds abroad, but, on the contrary, we have always been very much below that standard. The consequence is that in our arrangements for relief we are extremely hampered. It is not at all easy to find a regiment that has been the proper period at home to justify its being again sent abroad. I should be glad, therefore, if it were pos- 813 sible, to have an increase of troops, if it were only to obviate that difficulty. Considering the greatly-increased facilities for moving troops which now exist, and the number of troops which we have at hand to resist an invasion should it come, I must say that the subject now before your Lordships deserves the most serious and the most attentive consideration. I have always believed that any invasion of our shores will be sudden and unexpected, and that is the reason why I have always so strongly advocated the construction of forts. If we had a large force at hand to cope with the enemy, I would not think of shutting up valuable troops in forts. The proper course would be to take the field against the enemy. But when we find that our available force is composed largely of irregulars, with but a small nucleus of regulars, then I say that forts alone could give adequate support to troops so circumstanced, however excellent might be their disposition, and however devoted their loyalty, and however desirous of doing their duty. It would be unfair to them to take them into the field, unless we have the means of supporting them by forts. It is on that ground that I support the present measure. Taking all things into account, the Government have perhaps acted prudently in postponing the Spithead forts. I see, however, many reasons to regret that decision. I see no reason for changing the opinion I have before expressed. I believe that ultimately these forts must be constructed, and I apprehend that the delay will only lead to increased expense for no useful purpose. Next year we shall not be a whit better able to judge of this matter than we are now. As to the other works, I agree with my noble Friend that it would be better to throw all our strength on the most important works, if it could be done. But we are unable to keep a large body of men constantly employed at one place, because we have not sufficient accommodation for them and because the work requires consolidation. We are therefore obliged to do as much as we can at all the works instead of keeping the entire strength of the men employed on any one place. I have thought it right, upon the whole, to make these observations, and I can only say again, that I am sure no subject can be brought before the House of greater importance than that which has been so ably handled and elucidated by the noble Earl. I hope and trust, that while we are anxious for the economy which all parties 814 naturally desire, we shall not lose sight of the fact that we cannot attain efficiency unless we spend money upon such objects and for such purposes as are essential to the interests of a great and powerful nation.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
My Lords, the result which is obtained by wise measures of prevention is often used as an argument to prove that those measures are useless. I am not, therefore, astonished that there are many persons who say that any fear of war is idle and that we are incurring useless expenditure and that Her Majesty's Government have found many opponents to the Bill now before your Lordships. But, as far as I am concerned, I rejoice that they have brought in this Bill, although it is considerably docked from what Her Majesty's Ministers were prepared to recommend; and I rejoice because it not only insures the safety of the country, but saves the country and Parliament from the discredit of having abandoned a course which only two years ago they determined to pursue. I observed with considerable apprehension that persons who, two years ago, were impressed with the necessity of these defences, and satisfied with the mode of raising the money, had changed their opinions. If these altered views had generally prevailed, there can be no doubt that Parliament would have discredited itself, that England would have been held up to other nations as one which did not know its own mind and alternated between fever fits of panic and sordid economy, and that this country would have lost the high character which at present it enjoys, that whatever is thoroughly considered will resolutely be carried into effect. There is a class of objectors who declare that there is no danger whatever, and that invasion is all but impossible. They say that everything is smiling about us, that the Emperor of the French has been ten years on the throne without attacking us, and that what never has been done never will be done. But, while I thoroughly believe that the present Emperor has never harboured a thought of attacking this country, the Emperor is not immortal, and may be succeeded by another with different views and a different policy. It is not the Emperor of the French whom we have to fear; but we must remember that the same country over which he rules, and over which his predecessors have ruled, contains a people fickle in purpose, yet war- 815 like in character, who often and often have urged their Sovereigns to war with this country. It may happen again, and we must be prepared against a nation having such dispositions. If we are securing ourselves, it is not against the Emperor, but against the greatest military nation in the world. It has been said that not only is there no danger of invasion, but that invasion has never been threatened of late years; and they go so far as to say that the First Napoleon never intended really to invade England. There are numerous papers and documents which show that the idea of no invasion being intended is a complete delusion; and history proves that not only was the intention present in the mind of the First Napoleon, but that his military mind comprehended the means that would be necessary down to the smallest details. It was almost a chance which saved this country from invasion, and the anger of the First Napoleon, coupled with his treatment of Admiral Villeneuve, shows how he had set his heart upon it. But in the 10th volume of Napoleon's Correspondence, which has just been published in Paris, there is a letter which puts the question beyond the possibility of a doubt, and supports in every particular the arguments of the noble Duke opposite as to the use of these fortifications. On the 28th of June, 1805, Napoleon writes to Marshal Berthier on the preparations for invading England—Keep your eyes" (he says, in his laconic style) "on everything. Master all the details as to provisions, brandy, shoes, and everything concerning the landing. Put on board a great quantity of artillery tools. You know there is always a deficiency in campaigning. I shall have to lay siege to Dover Castle, Chatham, and perhaps Portsmouth. Talk it over with Marescol, General of Engineers. It is possible to land troops enough perhaps to besiege the three places at the same time. We must have no 'ifs,' or 'buts,' or 'fors.' All my chances are calculated beforehand. Let tools of every sort be shipped, and take care that nothing is wanted.This was written in 1805, just before the battle of Trafalgar saved us from the danger, and here we have the opinion of the greatest master of war we know of in our time—first, that he could ship troops; secondly, that he could land troops; and, thirdly, that he could besiege three of outmost important posts, including Dover. Another objection urged against this Bill is that we should trust to our navy alone. If that is not answered by the letter which I have read, let us look at what is going on in France. The Emperor, a man of 816 practical knowledge, who is the first inventor of armour-plated vessels, and has changed the whole artillery of the French army, with the means at his command of referring for advice to the best military Engineers of the age, has fortified every harbour and every river's mouth in the Channel, and has not abandoned the ancient principles of fortification in his great inland fortresses. He has fortified Lille at an immense expense, as I have seen with my own eyes, Grenoble, and other places. Another objection to our following this example is, that with so many fortresses, we should be locking up our forces in them and diminishing the available strength of the army. There is no argument in that term. An army must be quartered somewhere or other—if not in a fortress, in a barrack; but if they were quartered in a barrack, they would certainly not be protected in the same way as in a fortress. In the last war, with half our present population, we had 600,000 men under arms to protect the empire in different places, and surely the spirit of Englishmen has not so much deteriorated, that if another war should take place, we should have any difficulty in raising an equal, if not a greater number of men. It is said that the proposed system of fortifications will require about 5,000 guns, and that it is impossible we could find men enough to serve them and at the same time to keep an army of the requisite strength in the field. I deny that altogether. Guns in position behind walls may be served by men at the end of a month's training. Certainly, men could not go into the field and act as artillerymen for field batteries in that time, but a month's training is sufficient to make men excellent marksmen behind walls. Supposing each gun to require ten men, we should have very little difficulty in finding 50,000 artillerymen to work them on an emergency. I have seen a gentleman who never fired a cannon in his life, though he was an excellent rifleman, beat a whole troop of the Royal Horse Artillery after a very short training. It is by no means so difficult to learn to serve such guns as to learn the movements in the field. With regard to what has been said of the relative superiority of forts and ships, I am convinced that if we go on increasing the size of ship guns and the size of fort guns, the relative position of ships and forts must remain the same. Looking to the gradual progress of fortifications and artillery up to this time, 817 there can be no doubt that their relative position is exactly the same as when the Norman towers were assailed by bows and arrows and catapults. Of course the maximum of artillery force must sooner be reached in a ship than in a fort, because a ship has a double object to discharge— it has to act as a locomotive as well as to serve as a means of attack. Some most extraordinary statements have been made on the question by gentlemen for whose talent I entertain a sincere respect. Sir Morton Peto, for instance, in a letter to The Times, has argued in a most strange way that a fort is much inferior to a ship, because a ship, as it moves about, cannot be easily hit; whereas a fort, being a stationary object, can be hit much more easily. He quite forgot, that if the basis from which you fire is movable, your aim is destroyed much more than if standing still you fire at a moving object; and if Sir Morton were to try to fire at a hare sitting while he himself was running at full speed, he would find it much more difficult to hit her than if he fired at her running while he was standing still. This is a matter of great importance, and, small as the Bill is, it is with great pleasure that I see it come up from the House of Commons. Those who opposed it can scarcely have considered its magnitude and importance; and it certainly is a prostitution of the word economy when it is used to defeat a measure intended for the defence of the honour, and even the existence, of the country.
said, he took it for granted that the Government had considered this matter in all its bearings, but he was greatly afraid that when these forts were erected we should find we had only done half our work; because unless we provided men to man them they would be of little or no use. According to the blue-books those forts would require 62,000 men to occupy them; and there were few periods in English history in which we had found ourselves strong enough to put 62,000 men into our fortifications, and at the same time to keep an army in the field sufficiently strong to repel invasion. He understood that the whole of our present available force at home was about 70,000 men, of whom 20,000 belonged to the depôt battalions, which left us with just 50,000 men whom we could employ in operations. How many of these could we spare to garrison our fortifications in case of invasion? He regretted to hear, too, that the Militia mus- 818 tered only 62,000 men; if it had been complete on its establishment, as he had supposed it to be, it ought to number some 130,000 men. It became, therefore, a most serious question for the Government to consider in what way men were to be found for the manning of these forts when they were erected. Our regular army was scattered all over the world, and any attack which might be made on us would be so sudden that we should not have time to recall any of our forces on foreign stations. If ever an invasion did take place, the first trial of strength would be in a naval battle; and if we were successful in that, not a man of the enemy's force ought to land on these shores. If we lost it, or if by any chance an enemy should succeed in landing on our shores, then the issue would depend on our land forces and on the general spirit of our people. At any rate, we ought to be prepared to resist an attack both by land and sea. In conclusion, he hoped that serious attention would be given to the observations of the illustrious Duke, which were well deserving the consideration of the Government and of the House.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I think the noble Viscount who has just sat down was quite right when he said that forts are of no use unless we have men to defend them, and that the forts for which we are now called on to raise a part of the money that will be required to complete them would make it necessary to have an army of 62,000 men for their defence. My Lords, I must say that the noble Viscount has, in my opinion, under-estimated the number of men that would be necessary; if I am rightly informed, it would be considerably more. My noble Friend has justly asked, "Whence are the men to be obtained? How can you ever expect to have men enough to keep all these forts, and have at the same time an army in the field?" That question appears to me to contain in a few words an argument which is decisive against this whole scheme of fortifications. If you had unlimited means in men and money, if you did not fear to lay too great a burden upon the country, you might make the nation more secure than it now is by multiplying fortifications and raising men to garrison them. But such an army you never can and never will have; and, in the absence of so large an army, these fortifications will be rather an incumbrance than otherwise. My Lords, we must consider what are the cir- 819 cumstances of the country. When you look to the nature of the Government, to the manner in which the population are occupied, and, in short, to the whole state of things taken together, you may be quite certain that it will be practically impossible ever to keep up a very large standing army in this country; and I, for one, hope and trust it will ever be impossible. What, then, my Lords, will be our true policy? First of all, above everything, to take care that our means of naval defence are as efficient as possible. That is our main and first reliance, and to that our particular attention ought to be directed. What is the next point? To have an army not very large in number, but in as perfect a condition as possible, and placed in such a central position that by well-devised arrangements you can throw it at a few hours' notice upon any point of the coast that may be attacked. In these days of railways such arrangements are quite feasible. I have been informed by a very distinguished officer that he himself, under the directions of the late Lord Hardinge, communicated with the different railway companies, and they informed him that they could convey from 30,000 to 40,000 men, if we had them, from Aldershott, for instance, to almost any point of the coast that might be attacked, within six hours. Well, then, my Lords, I say that the real policy of this country is to adopt the most perfect means that can be devised for completing our facilities of communication by railway, electric telegraph, and other arrangements, so as to be able to concentrate upon any point all our disposable force at the shortest possible notice. If you can do that, you are safe, for no enemy can venture to set foot on the shore of this country unless he can land about 100,000 men. Now, I remain of the same opinion as I formerly entertained—that in these days of steam, and with the power which that gives your fleet of going among unarmed transports, the probability of throwing 100,000 men on any point of the coast is of the most distant kind; and if you exert yourself properly, it is an absolute impossibility. That seems to me a strong argument against the general policy of a system of extensive fortifications. In these fortifications you will lock up 20,000 or 30,000 men; I must say "lock up," in spite of the argument of the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury), because if you leave the forts unmanned they may be laid hold of 820 by the enemy, who may maintain himself there when he may not be able to keep the open field. Well, your troops will be locked up in these forts, instead of being placed in the most central position, where their services may be most required. And here, my Lords, I cannot help observing that those who are most in favour of this system have all advocated it on the assumption that we are to have our army largely augmented.
§ THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
I beg the noble Earl's pardon—he is quite in error in supposing that I have taken any such line of argument. On the contrary, I said that the reason I thought fortifications essential was because our available regular force was so small we ought to have the means of supplying some auxiliary to that force. I accepted the fortifications on account of the small force which we have now, and which I did not anticipate would be increased.
§ EARL GREY
I beg pardon, but I think the great burden of the illustrious Duke's argument was that a much larger force ought to be kept up in this country. But even from the statement now made it is quite clear that the fortifications cannot be manned and an army kept in a central situation at the same time. I do not wish, however, to dwell longer on this point or to debate over again the general question of fortifications, because I have already expressed my opinion on that subject in the discussion which was raised by my noble Friend below mo. I only desire to say, for my own part, that, though I will not put your Lordships to the trouble of dividing, I shall myself say "Not Content" to the Bill before us. I object to it, first, because it provides for a loan in time of peace, and because, notwithstanding what fell from the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) I think that loans in time of peace are altogether objectionable, unless they are to meet some great and pressing emergency, which in this case is not alleged. I also object to the mode of raising the loan, because, if we are to have a loan at all, it ought not to be raised by terminable annuities. The only ground which you can allege in favour of terminable annuities is the security which they afford for early payment; but that security is just as futile as the security that was formerly taken of borrowing more money than was actually wanted in order to form a sinking fund. You really cannot make any impression on 821 your debt unless by future Parliaments having the foresight and firmness to keep a fair margin of income over expenditure, If that is done, the debt will be reduced; but if you are paying terminable annuities, and at the same time exceeding your income, and having deficits such as we have had for the last two or three years, what are we to expect? You will not be improving your circumstances at all. In fact, it is only an attempt to tie up the hands of future Parliaments. It may be a sop to the conscience of Parliament. The House of Commons may be aware that it is acting improperly in sanctioning a loan in time of peace, and it may wish to get rid of the responsibility by adopting this form of loan. But the real objection is not got rid of, and the only effect is that you pay more to the lenders than you would do by raising the money on the old system. My Lords, I ask you to reject this Bill, because it is not proved that the money to be raised under it is to be spent in the best way. I am persuaded that there are other better modes. For instance, I saw it lately asserted that the best mode of obtaining security for London is to have railroads carried on all round the town, so that you may have the means of bringing together for its defence a large force of artillery and the mass of your army. I am not prepared, in the present circumstances of the country, to sanction a measure which would involve a large expenditure without adequate results. It seems to me, after having most carefully read the evidence given before the Defence Commission, and also pamphlets published by several officers of the army and navy, and after seeing what are the opinions of those who are the best judges, that the preponderance of argument is with those who are opposed to the forts. More than this —what weighs with me is the evidence which the Report bears upon the face of it, that it has not been framed with due consideration or in such a manner as to command the confidence and respect of the country. Only yesterday some inconsistencies were pointed out to me by an officer who was well able to form an opinion on the subject. I will not enter into detail; but if there is one thing more than another which is calculated to throw doubt upon that Report it is that it is not consistent with itself. I will give your Lordships one instance. You are completing very extensive works, as the Under Secretary of State has told us, at Portsdown Hill, 822 which are stated to be necessary, from the increased range of modern artillery, to keep an enemy at a greater distance from your arsenals, and therefore these works are erected at a distance of between 8,000 and 9,000 yards from the dockyard which is to be protected. If that is right at Portsmouth, common sense — which the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) has truly told us is so valuable a quality—surely teaches us that the same principle is equally applicable at Plymouth. But what is the case? The works which are, I believe, not yet begun, but which are about to be commenced at Plymouth, according to the plan of the Commissioners, instead of being 8,000 or 9,000 yards from the dockyard, are only from 4,000 to 5,000 yards; while at Pembroke they are only 3,000 yards. I can only say that the whole of this plan cannot be right, and I believe it to be also true that there is no difficulty either at Plymouth or Pembroke in placing the defences at the same distance from the point to be protected as at Portsmouth. I will only advert to one more point in regard to the plan of the Commissioners, and I mention it in order that it may be explained by the Under Secretary of State. Your Lordships will observe that in the schedule of this Bill a sum of £87,000 is taken for the construction of mortar batteries at St. Helen's and at Puckpool in the Isle of Wight. These mortar batteries are intended to protect the anchorage of Spithead, by firing on vessels that are running into that road. I suppose this proceeds on the consideration that iron-sided vessels will be found practically invulnerable at a great distance, but that a shell falling on the deck of any vessel will infallibly destroy it. I do not doubt that it would, but it reminds me of what children are told—"You will catch that bird if you put a little salt on its tail." It is true, that if you could put a little salt on a bird's tail, you would be able to catch it; and so, no doubt, the shell would destroy the ship if you could drop it on the deck. But it would be about as easy to drop a shell on the deck of a vessel a mile off, running in at full steam, and probably under a cloud of smoke, as it would be to put salt on a bird's tale. I am assured by a very competent authority that this is the scheme, but it is so inexpressibly absurd that I can hardly imagine it to be true. My Lords, I adhere to the opinions I formerly expressed on this fortification scheme; and although I am as anxious as any one 823 that this country should be placed in as complete a state of security as possible, I cannot vote in favour of this Bill. Allusion has been made to the expenses of our army and navy. It is fair to remember that the armies of foreign nations cost far more than our own, because conscription is virtually a tax of a most onerous description. It is a poll tax on the whole of the population. Every man who serves in that army at less than the market rate of his labour is a contributor to that tax. We, on the contrary, do not compel men in this country to serve for less than the value of their labour, and, going into the market and obtaining men without compulsion, we must pay what their services are honestly worth. I do not therefore believe that the pay of our soldiers is higher than it ought to be. I am not so well satisfied that the expenses of our army are not greater than need be, especially in the item of barrack accommodation. There is a building now rising near Battersea Park which is to contain 1,000 men. The cost of those barracks is estimated at £160,000—that is to say, we are to spend £160 for every soldier to be lodged in them. Now, your Lordships are aware that you can build a most excellent cottage with several rooms, and accommodation for an agricultural labourer and his family for £100. While I admit that soldiers require some things that agricultural labourers do not want, yet the reverse is also the case in other matters, and on all ordinary principles it is much cheaper to erect a building for a large number of men than for a family. I cannot understand therefore why these expenses should be so high. I am also of opinion that we are going on a wrong principle in always keeping our army in a state of readiness for taking the field on foreign service. I am anxious that our troops should always be ready for home defence, but I do not desire to see our arrangements so complete as to enable us to send at the shortest notice any portion of our army abroad that may be desired. When the illustrious Duke therefore tells us that the military train, among other things, involves us in a very large expense, I say that, if so, it is because these branches of the army are kept up in the state in which they would be required for foreign service. I maintain, on the contrary, that everything that is not required for home defence should be kept on the lowest scale of expense. If you really wish to reduce the expenses of 824 your army, you ought to reduce the expenses connected with its service abroad. I think you might, without increased expense, do much to put yourself in a state of defence at home, and then, by avoiding unnecessary and expensive wars, like those in New Zealand and China, you might considerably diminish the ordinary expenses of the army. I cannot help thinking that those who urge at the same time an increase in our fortifications and in our army are recommending two things which are very inconsistent with each other.
§ EARL RUSSELL
In the course of the speech which he has just addressed to your Lordships my noble Friend urged very strongly that you must greatly increase your army in order to garrison those forts which it is proposed to erect. My Lords, I think that objection has already been sufficiently disposed of by the illustrious Duke who has spoken in this debate, and who observed with reason that because of your small army there was the greater necessity for fortifications as auxiliary to our military force. The noble Viscount who spoke on the other side said that 62,000 men would be required to garrison those works in time of war; but, my Lords, that is not a number which you would require, or which any Secretary of State would propose, to place in the forts in a time of peace. The noble Viscount knows what was the state of things during the last war. I remember well that four-fifths of the garrison of Dover, a large garrison, was composed of Militia; and those Militiamen were, I believe, in as perfect a state of efficiency for the defence of a country as any regular troops could have been. Militia are not, of course, in the same state of efficiency in time of peace; but I believe, that if war were to break out, and there was any apprehension of invasion, before any enemy could land on these shores we should have a militia force and a reserve force fully equal to manning our garrisons. Therefore I concur with the illustrious Duke, that the smallness of your army affords no argument whatever against the proposed forts, but is, on the contrary, a very strong argument in their favour. My noble Friend (Earl Grey) said, that the first element of our defence is a strong navy. No doubt our permanent means of defence must always be in the strength of our navy; but then, in order to maintain our navy in an efficient state of defence, the protection of our dockyards and arsenals is an absolute 825 necessity. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury) has read what was very pertinent to the subject, a letter from the first Emperor Napoleon, written during the great war when he was meditating a descent on this country, and which pointed out that one of the first measures he would take would be an attack on Portsmouth. In considering the propriety of relying on your navy, it must be borne in mind that ships continually require to be repaired and refitted. Imagine an enemy attacking Portsmouth, and having the advantage of meeting none but old and dilapidated walls, which would be altogether unable to meet an attack such as one conducted in accordance with the science of modern warfare would be— where then would be our reliance on our navy? Instead of being a defence and a reliance, the navy would be crippled and ineffective, and a source of weakness rather than of strength. If you rely on your navy as a defence, you must not allow your dockyards and arsenals to be exposed to destruction. My Lords, I cannot but think that among your means of defence, relying as we always must upon our navy, it is essential that you should give us the means of protecting your naval dockyards and arsenals. If this must be one of your first objects—and if you admit, as every one must, that the art of war has changed and has become more scientific and expensive, you must meet the science and expenditure of other countries by the science and expenditure of your own. My noble Friend (Earl Grey) has objected to the mode in which it is proposed to provide for the expense of these fortifications by means of terminable annuities, considering that they ought to be paid for from time to time as the expense is incurred. But, my Lords, if those works are not to be completed for a number of years, it seems fair that the expense should be divided among those who are to have the benefit of them, the more especially as the works themselves are to be permanent. When we are providing for the army or the navy for the services of the year, it is undoubtedly right that the charge should be defrayed out of the revenue of the year; but when we are providing for the permanent means of defending the country, it is equally proper that the charge should be spread over a series of years. As regards the objection that the loan will be a perpetual one —that it will never be paid off—I would 826 remind your Lordships that within the last two years no less than £2,000,000 of terminable annuities have been paid off. When these annuities fell in, the Government had this amount in hand which they might have appropriated in relieving the people from taxation, or in adding to the naval and military expenditure of the country. The Legislature determined to discharge those annuities, and they have disappeared entirely from your debt. Therefore I cannot think that my noble Friend is sound on that point. My noble Friend who spoke early in this debate (the Earl of Ellen-borough) called attention to other subjects on which I wish to say a few words. In pointing out the great danger that might arise from foreign invasion, he stated, much to my surprise, that if France became aggressive, no Power in the world would be the ally of this country in assisting her to defend herself against an attack. I believe the case is very different. I believe the policy of the Emperor Napoleon, during the ten years of his rule, has not been hostile to the independence of nations. Both the wars which he has undertaken— the war in the Crimea and the war in Italy, have been favourable, not hostile to the independence of nations. But certainly I do believe, that if his policy were to be changed, there is at this moment, to a greater extent than I ever remember, a love of national independence among the nations of Europe. Look abroad where we will, there never was a time when throughout Europe national power was more decidedly developing itself—when the people of Europe more valued their national independence, and when they were more disposed to resist any great plan of conquest such as that devised by Louis XIV., or that carried out by Napoleon I. The present Emperor does not appear to adopt such a policy. I am far from saying that no danger may arise; but I do not think there is that danger which my noble Friend seems to apprehend. With regard to the Ministry, I am at a loss to know to what point a defence of the present Government is to be addressed. One whole sitting was taken up with a debate on the extravagance of the Government with respect to the army and navy; and to-night we are told that we have not armed enough—that our navy is not equal to the navy of France, and that our army is very inferior in numbers to what it ought to be. In answer to these charges I can only say that it is for the 827 Government of the day to propose the measures they think best under all the circumstances. It is very obvious, that if, on the one hand, you diminish your armaments too much in order to make great reductions in the expenditure, you are likely by so doing to embolden the war party in foreign countries, and you neglect the duty of defending what is intrusted to your protection; but, on the other hand, if your armaments are maintained at too high a standard you create a jealousy abroad, you produce great discontent in the country itself, you make the people complain, you give rise to a demand for excessive or imprudent reduction, and you thereby incur the very peril against which you are desirous of guarding. The course of the Government must be to steer between those two opposite dangers, and it is for the country and the Houses of Parliament to consider whether the present Government have done wisely or not — whether, on the one hand, we have proposed excessive armaments, or, on the other, recommended injudicious and dangerous reductions. My belief is, that we have not fallen into either extreme, and that the course which we are pursuing is the right one. My Lords, there is one point which ought not to be lost sight of in considering the position of any country, and of this country in particular, as regards its means of defence. It is this—that you never can be strong against a foreign Power—you never can successfully resist a foreign enemy—unless your people are united heart and soul in the defence—unless they feel that the Government and the Legislature are doing them justice; and, in this country, unless they feel loyalty towards the Throne and satisfaction with respect to the legislation of Parliament. And, my Lords, looking at the legislation of the last thirty years, and looking at the high character of the present Sovereign, I believe there never was a time when the people were more persuaded that their interests are cared for by Parliament, that the Government is conducted with a view to the benefit of the people at large, and that there never was a time when there existed more affection towards the Throne. These are, of themselves, great elements of defence. When there is this feeling among the people, depend on it, that if there was any danger of war, there would arise up from the earth armed men in a much shorter time than any one can now imagine. In 828 common with all your Lordships, I have been delighted to see that spirit which has produced the great force of Volunteers; and that great force you may rest assured, if there was any chance of invasion, would be in a very short time a most efficient regular army. The Government has attended to these things. It is by attending to these things—by making prudent, but not excessive preparations for defence—by sympathizing with other countries in their desire for independence, and at the same time improving our own institutions in conformity with the progress of the age —by attending to all just complaints—by promoting freedom of trade and commerce, and upholding liberty of discussion, that you best maintain a spirit of independence among your own people, and fit them for defending themselves against any foreign foe. The noble Earl (the Earl of Ellen-borough) has spoken of the expense to which Parliament goes in providing education for the people. I believe that by educating the people you make them the more capable of appreciating our institutions. If Parliament pursues the wise course it has for some years acted on, I believe that no war can come upon us which will not be encountered with the spirit of Englishmen, loyally devoted to the Throne and sincerely attached to the institutions of their country.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.