HL Deb 23 April 1869 vol 195 cc1420-62

, in rising to call attention to the present condition of the Military Force of the Kingdom, with a view to suggest means for improving its efficiency, diminishing its cost, and securing more systematic co-operation between the active and reserve branches of the Army, said, that the subject was one of so much importance, whether looked at with regard to the safety of the kingdom or in its financial aspect, that their Lordships would not require an apology from any man, who had devoted time and thought to it, for bringing before them the results of his study and consideration. He would premise that he had no fault to find with the course pursued by the Government, for, as far as they had yet developed any policy on the question, every step they had taken met with his full concurrence; and the fact mentioned by his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War, that they had to decide on the principles on which their Estimates should be framed within the first fortnight of their tenure of Office, was a sufficient reason why they should not have rushed precipitately into larger schemes. No one, however, he was sure, would admit more readily than his right hon. Friend the advantage which a Minister might derive from public attention being directed to the affairs of his Department; and he hoped—should he be so fortunate on the present occasion as to obtain the attention of the House—to elicit from Members, whose acquirements and abilities rendered them high authorities on the subject, observations which might tend to smooth the path and strengthen the hands of his right hon. Friend in the difficult task which lay before him. He (Lord Monck) was no enthusiast for military glory, nor did he desire large armaments for their own sake; his aspirations were of a very moderate character; and he should be quite satisfied if he could convince himself that we had within the country a body of trained men numerically sufficient to protect us from the risk of invasion, and an organization capable of wielding that force. Regarding our military provision in the light of an insurance against the risk of danger, he was desirous, like all insurers, of obtaining the highest degree of security with the smallest rate of premium. Now it could not be denied that a strong impression existed in the public mind that we were paying an extravagant rate of premium, and that the security was of a very inefficient, if not of an entirely illusory, character; and, believing this impression to be in a great measure well-founded, he was anxious that no time should be lost in placing matters on a more satisfactory footing. The adequacy of our military preparations was a compound question, and depended for its solution on the views which might be entertained on two preliminary questions—the likelihood of our being attacked, and the strength of our possible assailants—for were there no probability of our being attacked, the obligation of providing for defence would be reduced to the smallest point; and, were there absolutely no assailants, that obligation would disappear altogether. Most happily we were at present on terms of peace and friendship with all foreign Powers; but it would be imprudent on that account to disregard the fact that, about every six months, we are disturbed by rumours of war impending between some of the great European Powers, into which wars we might be drawn whether we would or not; that Europe was literally bristling with bayonets from one end of it to the other; and that there was a strong tendency, where a highly organized machine adapted to a particular end had been created, to test its efficiency in practice. We knew, on the other hand, that, other things remaining the same, the chances of invasion varied in an inverse ratio with the power of resistance; and he thought we could afford to disregard the speculative, and to apply ourselves to the practical, question—namely, what the forces were which might be brought to attack us, and what powers we possessed for resistance. Now, since any danger of attack could only proceed from one or more of the great military Powers of the Continent, our military preparations must clearly bear some relation to theirs. It would be childish to shrink from this comparison through any motives of a merely sentimental character—especially as such a comparison with reference to strength, efficiency, cost, and system of management would not only enable us to judge of the sufficiency of our arrangements, but of the reasonableness of the price we paid, and might furnish hints for the improvement of our military system. He proposed to select for this purpose the Armies of France and Prussia—because those Powers were our nearest neighbours; the Armies of both had lately been tested by the experience of actual war with eminent success, and their systems embodied principles of organization distinct from each other and our own; while, together with our own, they exhausted the principles applicable to the subject. He wished it to be understood, however, that it was not to the numbers of the force available for our home defence that he objected, but to their quality; for, were he satisfied of their efficiency, he should be content with a smaller force than 400,000 men, the number recently given by his right hon. Friend. In order to make the comparison, he was about to institute a profitable one, these considerations should be borne in mind—first, that the practice adopted by Continental nations of making their Reserve largely consist of trained soldiers enabled them to place in the field at the very commencement of war a very large and efficient army; secondly, that their custom of dividing the country into military districts, each with its general, divisional, and brigade staff complete, enabled them to move their troops immediately on the outbreak of war; thirdly, that the application of steam to locomotion, both by land and water, enabled them rapidly to concentrate their forces on any given point; and, fourthly, that the weapon with which the soldier was now armed made him more of a skilled labourer, rendering instruction in his art more indispensable to his efficiency, and the communication of such instruction less easy; so that mere numbers, unless accompanied by military efficiency, were very little protection in time of war. The figures he was about to quote were derived partly from The Statesman's Manual, and partly from a statement made by Baron Kühn in the Austro-Hungarian Parliament, and reported in The Times of the 15th of January; but he had had an opportunity of comparing them with statistics derived from official sources, and he believed they were, in the main, correct. The standing Army of France, with the colours, was in round numbers, 404,000; the Reserve consisted of 353,000 men, all trained soldiers; and the National Guard Mobile, which, he believed, could not be called out without a special Act of the Legislature, consisted of 550,000 men: making in all 1,307,000. In North Germany, the standing Army, with the colours, consisted of 319,000; the Reserve—all men who had passed through the ranks, and therefore, trained soldiers—of 524,000; and the Landwehr or Militia of 185,000:—together 1,028,000 men. With a smaller population, and. a much smaller expenditure, North Germany, he might remark, had a more effective army even than Prance. Now, supposing we should come into trouble with either of these Powers, we had, according to the statement of the Minister of War, recently made in the other House, a force of 400,000 men; composed of 92,000 regular troops, 100,000 Militia, and 24,000 Reserve and Pensioners, the balance being Yeomanry and Volunteers. The first observation that would strike anyone on reading this statement would be that this was really not an Army in any sense whatever, but was a vast agglomeration of soldiers, more or less—he was afraid rather less than more—trained in the duties of military service, and unconnected by any unity of command, or any systematic organization. There was no military organization higher than that of the regiment, and even that, in the case of a large portion of the force, was very imperfectly carried out. Should there be a threat of invasion to-morrow we should have to extemporize, under the pressure and confusion of the moment, the whole distribution of our force into armies, divisions, and brigades, and to appoint the whole of our general, divisional, and brigade commanders and staffs; so that there would be officers going into action without any knowledge of the troops under their command, and soldiers led by officers of whom they had no knowledge, and in whom consequently, they had no confidence. This, he believed, was no highly coloured picture of what would occur. He did not, however, wish to press this point, for he observed that the defect had not escaped the observation of his right hon. Friend, and he hoped that, in any steps taken to correct it, the great object of securing unity of command over all the military forces of the Queen would not be lost sight of. Turning to details, it was obvious that the 92,000 regular troops included every name borne on the strength of the Army within the British Isles. They included all the recruits at the depots, who could not be regarded as available for immediate service; and when this deduction was made, as well as the further deduction always to be made from the force on paper in ascertaining the effective force in the field, our Regular Army would shrink to very moderate dimensions. Of the residue he would only say that he felt sure that they would prove worthy of the eulogium pronounced by Marshal Bugeaud on British troops—"L'Infantèrie Anglaise est la plus redoutable de l'Europe;" and would exemplify the remark with which it was accompanied—"Heureusement il n'y en a pas beaucoup." The Reserves were so few as to be scarcely worth mentioning; indeed, he believed his right hon. Friend had stated that they were only to be found between the covers of a body of statutes. They would, however, probably perform as good service as could be expected from a force consisting principally of worn-out Pensioners. The next force was the Militia, which his right hon. Friend called the ancient constitutional force of the country, and on which he pronounced a very high panegyric. He (Lord Monck) concurred in every word of his right hon. Friend with regard to that force; and, in any observations he might make, he wished to guard himself against being supposed to utter one word in disparagement of the officers or men of the Militia. In his criticisms it would be to the system and not to the men that he would take exception. He agreed with his right hon. Friend that we must mainly depend on the Militia for the protection of the country; but it required an application of that process of reform, which had been already applied to many of our institutions, to bring it into harmony with the spirit of the age, and to make it sufficient for the requirements of our military service. His right hon. Friend need not, on a recent occasion, have quoted the authority of the great Duke of Wellington to show that the Militia might be made a very available force for defensive purposes, nor did it require the large military experience of the late Lord Seaton to prove that a regiment of Militia, if embodied for six or perhaps twelve months—as he ventured to say was the case with the regiment to which his right hon. Friend's anecdote referred—could be fit to take its place beside a regiment of the Line. What it was important to ascertain was whether the system of instruction applied to the Militia made effective and available soldiers out of the undeniably good materials of which that force was composed? Now, having had some experience in endeavouring to bring into form raw levies of Militia and Volunteers, his deliberate opinion was that it would be difficult for human ingenuity to devise a system of training more wasteful of the public resources, more ineffective in military results, and more injurious and onerous to the men than that now applied to the Militia. As their Lordships were well aware, the system adopted for training the Militia was that the men were called out for twenty-seven days in each of the five years of their period of service, with an addition of fourteen days for recruits in the first year. Now, according to the best information he could obtain, it took six months' continuous training to make a recruit fit to take his place in the ranks of a regiment of the Line. He left it, therefore, to the common sense of their Lordships to decide on the degree of proficiency that could be gained by Militiamen in a period of five months, or rather less, spread over five years, with an interval of twelve months between each period. The time was manifestly too short to give them any really useful military knowledge, while it was long enough to disturb and dislocate their industrial arrangements with their employers. He did not wish to insist much on the point that the Militia were armed with the old muzzle-loading rifle, because, if we had the rifles, it was easy at any time to serve them out to the Militia; but it should be borne in mind that to arm men with new weapons involved an additional delay in training them to the use of them, and that one of the inexorable conditions of the problem was to have troops ready for action at the outset of war. As to the officers, he should be sorry to say a word hurtful to the feelings of so excellent a body of men; but he believed they would themselves be the first to admit that they were not sufficiently instructed in their duties—a circumstance which was no disgrace to them, since he knew of no machinery provided by the country by which they could obtain that instruction. He now came to the Volunteers—a force of which in its proper place he desired to speak, not only with respect, but with admiration. The creation of that force had produced a moral effect, both in England and on the Continent, which it would be difficult to exaggerate, and for which the country owed them a debt of gratitude. They had effectually vindicated the national character from the oft-asserted charge of degeneracy; and no man, who had not himself tried it, could appreciate the irksomeness of the discipline to which they had subjected themselves in order to attain their present state of efficiency. With all these merits, however, he objected to the Volunteers being treated as other than auxiliaries, or to their being reckoned among the standing forces of the country. He objected to it on principle, because it was an attempt to transfer, to the shoulders of those willing to bear the burden, a public duty which should be of universal obligation. The pay of the Soldier and Militiaman represented the contribution towards the public defence of those who did not give their personal service; and the continual applications on behalf of the Volunteers for assistance from the State proved the unsoundness of that mode of treating them; while every contribution from the public purse destroyed the essential characteristics of the force, and rendered them a burden on the public treasury, without giving the Government that control over them which it ought to have over all forces for which it paid. He was about to make a remark which might subject him to some obloquy; it was not a speculative one, but was founded on his own observation, and the subject was far too important to be dealt with merely in complimentary phrases. His experience was that the original voluntary nature of the organization coloured the whole tone and character of the force, and prevented the growth of that feeling of implicit obedience and complete subordination to authority which lay at the foundation of all military efficiency. To his mind the Volunteers were a reproduction in another form of the feudal array of the Middle Ages, and of the voluntary armies which in the early part of the last century used to follow the Highland chiefs to battle—such troops, as history informed us, were never found capable of bearing the strain of a protracted war, and were never efficient when brought into collision with regular troops. Another reason against treating the Volunteers in this manner was that their services would never be required except in the case of actual invasion. Now in such an emergency it was of the utmost importance to keep, in the highest degree of working order, all the public Departments—especially the locomotive, the intelligence, and the supply services of the country; and he believed a large portion of the Volunteers belonged to that class of society who could not be spared under such circumstances from their ordinary vocations, and who would really be performing more efficient service against an invader by discharging their civil functions than if called out for military service. By all means let us, if we would, encourage volunteering as a means of developing the martial spirit of the country, and of creating a very useful auxiliary force in time of war; but we should not reckon them as part of our standing force or as a distinct military organization in substitution for more regular troops. This was the last branch of the military force of the country enumerated by my right hon. Friend. Now, the general estimate he (Lord Monck) had formed of our defensive forces was this—We had a highly efficient but small regular Army, and all our supplementary forces were in such a state, from imperfect organization, training, and armament, that it would be simply madness to expose them to collision with the highly organized, highly trained, and well armed troops which, might be brought against them by foreign nations in large numbers. It was some satisfaction—though he must admit it was not a pleasing one under the circumstances—that one of the most distinguished and experienced officers in the British Army, Sir John Burgoyne, had, within the last few days, published a pamphlet on our defensive force, which he had only seen within the last forty-eight hours; and the conclusion to which that distinguished officer came with regard to the condition of what he (Lord Monck) had called the supplementary force, was precisely the same as that he had announced to their Lordships, Sir John Burgoyne's statement being that they would require embodiment for, at least, a year or two before it would be wise to trust them in collision with an enemy. This being the character of the article we bought, he now turned to the price we paid for it compared with that paid by other nations. In France the military expenditure for last year was £14,953,431, being an average for each soldier of the standing Army with the colours of £37. Including the Reserves, the average cost was less than £20 per man; and including the National Guard Mobile, £11 per man. In North Germany the military expenditure was £10,175,444, giving an average for the standing Army of £33 per man; while, including the Reserves, it was £ 13 per man; and including the Landwehr £10 per man. In this country the estimated net charge, deducting all probable or contemplated receipts by the War Department for the current year, was £12,795,400, giving an average for the regular Army of £100 per man; including the Reserves, £80 per man; and, if all forces were included, of £30 per man. Thus against £37 in France and £33 in North Germany, there was £100 in England; against £20 in France and £13 in North Germany, £80 in England; and against £11 in France and £10 in North Germany, £30 in England. These figures spoke for themselves, and needed no commentary. Of course, the power of conscription gave great advantages in reducing the pecuniary cost of an Army; but, instead of sittting down contented with this excuse for so enormous a disparity, ought we not to consider whether the principles on which our system was based were such as to insure economy; and should we not try, by increasing in every way the moral attractions of the Service, to diminish to the utmost extent the price we had to pay? That pecuniary cost, moreover, was not the only price the country paid for the maintenance of its Army; for there was the pressure on its resources produced by the withdrawal, during a portion of their lives, of a large portion of its able-bodied population from productive industry; and we had also to consider the effects on the Soldier himself and, through him, on society at large, of withdrawing him from his home and relatives for so long a period as was imposed by the conditions of our Service. These influences evidently varied in their intensity according to the system adopted for recruiting and management; and this brought him to a comparison of the different methods pursued in the three Armies which he had been reviewing. The English might be called the long-enlistment system; for, though, of late years, ten years' enlistment had been sanctioned, our policy had always been to encourage re-enlistment; and it had been shown by the illustrious Duke who commanded the Army, in his evidence before Lord Hotham's Commission of 1861, that the period of ten years, while too long to secure to the soldier the moral advantages resulting from restoration to civil life at an early age, was too short to maintain the strength and efficiency of the Army without large annual draughts of recruits. In fact, the English system combined the evils both of the long and short-enlistment system, without securing the advantages supposed to be derived from either. The effect of this system on numbers was that it could not give us the command of a large force. With regard to efficiency, he thought the prevailing opinion was that the efficiency of an Army was not promoted by keeping men in time of peace for long periods of service. The system was necessarily expensive, for a man being kept in the Army during the best portion of his life, he had not only to be paid for that period, but to be provided with some maintenance when he left it; and it pressed heavily on the industry of the country by withdrawing for the best portion of their lives the whole of the men devoted to military service. Its effect, too, on the individual soldier was demoralizing in the extreme by its practice of enforced celibacy, by the monotony and weariness of a soldier's life, and by withdrawing him during the best portion of his life from the influences of home and of the family. The greatest contrast to this was the system of short enlistments, which sought to diminish the pressure of military service by diffusing it over a large mass, and thus equalizing the burden over the whole community. The nearest approach to this system was that of France, where a soldier serves for five years in the regular Army and four years in the Reserve, after which he passes into the National Guard Mobile, becoming practically a Militiaman. This, like the long-service system, drew a "hard and fast" line beyond which it could not reach, the numbers being confined to the men in the ranks; but it was more likely to produce efficient soldiers, and it certainly pressed less severely on the industry of the country and on the habits of individual men. Whatever their merits or demerits in other respects, these were essentially systems of large standing Armies—for the absence of any principle of elasticity, and the impossibility of expanding the force in times of emergency necessitated the keeping up, if efficiency was desired, of a large body of men constantly with the colours. The third system was one of long engagement and short actual service. It was best exemplified in the Prussian military system. A soldier served three years in the Army, four years in the Reserve, nine years in the Landwehr, with liability to be called out for service in the regular Army in time of war, and then, up to fifty years of age, was enrolled in the Landsturm, being only called upon for service in case of invasion. Practically, he was dismissed to civil life at the end of three years' service in the regular Army. This system, when it had been some time in operation, obviously gave the disposal of large numbers of trained men, and by making the Army in time of peace a military school for the population, as also by its expansive powers, enabled the country to keep its standing Army in time of peace at a much lower strength than either England or France. It pressed lightly on industry, for it withdrew men for only a short time from industrial occupations; and, so far from being injurious to the individual, it was calculated to be beneficial, taking men at an early period of life, when they were capable of receiving impressions, and keeping them just long enough to inculcate habits of order, discipline, and regularity, without retaining them so long as to destroy their capacity or taste for civil life. In a country like Prussia, which in time of peace required no foreign service, this system combined all the elements of efficiency and economy, and though not applicable in its entirety to England, it furnished hints for materially improving the condition of our military force. The obstacles to the complete adoption of the Prussian system into our service were principally under three heads—first, our colonial service; secondly, the purchase system; and, thirdly, the necessity of maintaining a European garrison in India. He hoped, however, that the first obstacle would be very soon swept out of our path, and that detached military stations and posts might be provided for without drawing on the ranks of our regular Army. In justice to the colonies, and in order that they might be able to place themselves in a condition of self-defence, they should be explicitly informed that the withdrawal of troops now going on resulted from no spasmodic effort at economy, but from deliberate policy; and that in time of peace they must, under no circumstances, expect to see an Imperial soldier within their limits; while in time of war Imperial troops will be handled and distributed solely with reference to Imperial strategical considerations, and will be sent to a colony in the event only of its becoming the theatre of the decisive contest of a war. All local disturbances in time of peace, and desultory attacks in the nature of a diversion in time of war, must be met, they should be given to understand, by colonial forces. With respect to the second obstacle—the purchase system—he was not about to argue the question, but merely mentioned it because he believed it to be intimately connected with the difficulty of obtaining recruits. There were but two ways of obtaining recruits—compulsion and attraction; the former being the system which had always prevailed on the Continent, while the latter was that which we had hitherto adopted. He should be sorry to see the introduction in this country of a compulsory system; and no one had a right to argue for its necessity, until he showed that all means of rendering the service attractive had been exhausted. Now it was absurd to say that those means had been exhausted, when we maintained a system which practically debarred from all the prizes of the service the great body of men who entered it. The partial discontinuance of the system was recommended more than ten years ago in the Report of a Commission bearing the signatures of Somerset, Stanley, Sydney Herbert, De Lacy Evans, Harry D. Jones, and George Carr Glyn. In arguing this question it was always assumed that the officers of the Army generally were opposed to the abolition of the purchase system. Now, he had taken the trouble to read the evidence taken before the Commission to which he had referred, and he found that such soldiers as Lord Clyde, Sir Duncan M'Dougall, Sir De Lacy Evans, Lord West, Sir James Scarlett, Sir John Franks, and General Spencer, and other distinguished officers, all gave their evidence before the Commission against the continuance of the purchase system; and he was sure that the experience of their Lordships would suggest to them the names of numerous intelligent officers of their acquaintance who were opposed to the continuance of the system. It used to be a stock argument against the abolition of purchase that no scheme had ever been proposed to carry it into effect. That argument, however, was no longer open, because there was laid before the Commission a most able scheme for the abolition of purchase in connection with the general re-organization of the Army. That scheme was elaborated by an hon. Friend of his, whom he thought it was no flattery to call the greatest master of the principles of administrative organization that England possessed—he meant Sir Charles Trevelyan. That scheme was based on the same principles which, chiefly through the instrumentality of his hon. Friend, had then been lately applied to the Civil Service of the country. The experience we then had of that system in regard to the Civil Service was not sufficiently long to render the argument very strong in favour of the scheme of his hon. Friend; but that system had ever since been in operation in respect to the Civil Service, and if he did not know that it was working satisfactorily and efficiently from other sources, he should derive that impression from the fact that the annual attacks upon that system in the House of Commons, which characterized its infancy, had of late years entirely ceased. As he said before, he did not mean to argue this question now; but he might express his opinion that, if service in the ranks were recognized as one of the ordinary modes of obtaining commissions, you would attract to the ranks a class of educated men who were now in vain looking out for a career, who would compose the working officers of the Army and. whose presence in the ranks, while they remained there, would tend to raise the character of the entire force. The third obstacle to the introduction of what he conceived to be sound principles in our military organization was the necessity for maintaining our force in India; and he might as well at once admit that he did not think any application of the short-service system could be made to our Indian service; because no period of service longer than one of from three to five years would secure to the State the economic, or to the individual the social, benefit arising from the short-engagement system; and when you considered the great expense of constant reliefs, and the difficulty of obtaining the number of men for the Indian service, which would be involved in that short system, he feared it would be found impracticable. Another consideration was also worth mentioning. It was notorious that the large mortality among our Indian troops occurred chiefly among the soldiers just arrived from Europe. This mortality arose, not so much from the want of acclimatization as from ignorance, and the consequent neglect of those precautions in respect of exposure and diet, which were found to be so necessary in tropical climates. A system of frequent reliefs would, of course, increase the risk of this mortality, and, therefore, a long period of service, much as he disliked the principle, must be retained in India. From what he had said, then, the following principles might be deduced as those which should regulate our military system:—Any system which laid claim to the character of efficiency ought to give us the command of large bodies of well-trained troops, together with an organization which would consolidate into one body, and animate with one spirit, the whole body of the military forces of Her Majesty. Economy ought to mean the sparing use, not only of the money, but of the time of our population; and the conditions of service should be such as would interfere in the slightest possible degree with the ordinary social and domestic habits of the people. He had detained their Lordships an unreasonable time, but he had been acting the not very agreeable part of censor, and he did not think that any man had a right in public to attack a system—particularly a system of this kind, which was of such immense importance to the welfare of the country —unless he were prepared to undertake the responsibility of suggesting a mode of amending it. With their Lordships' permission he would now conclude by stating the mode in which he thought that a modification of the Prussian system might be applied to our own military forces. He took for the basis our Army, that portion which would be required for foreign service in time of peace, and which would consist principally, if not entirely, of our Indian garrison, and those of the Mediterranean stations on the road to India. He meant to illustrate his plan by a reference to the Infantry of the Line alone, because, though he thought the Cavalry and scientific corps might be dealt with on the same principle, their peculiarities might require some variations of detail. We have now, exclusive of the Guards, 110 regiments of infantry of the Line, including the Rifle Brigade. At 700 men each, these would give 77,000 men. The Infantry garrison of India now absorbed 45,416 men. Sixty-five battalions of 700 men each would give 45,500 men, leaving 45 battalions for the home turn of duty and for the Mediterranean stations. He took the latter service at 9 battalions, or 6,300 men. This would leave 36 battalions for home service, which might, if it were thought right, be reduced during their time in England to 500 men each. This portion of the Army would take its turn of home and foreign duty on the same plan that now prevailed; and its numbers would admit of seven years of European to twelve years of Indian service. To each of these regiments would be attached a. second battalion, bearing, so far as the officers were concerned, the same relations to the first as were now borne by second battalions—that was to say, the officers would receive their promotion interchangeably from one to the other, and would all be liable to their turn of foreign service. Each regiment of the regular Army should be connected with a territorial regimental district of the country, and its second battalion should be permanently quartered in that district. All recruiting should be transacted by the second battalions; all recruits should be enlisted for twenty-one years. At the end of his second year of training, each, recruit should be allowed to elect whether he would join the first battalion for the remainder of his period of engage- ment, or serve it out in. the Militia. In the former case he would, serve for another year with the second battalion, unless required for immediate service in the first. In the latter ease, he would be released from further active service, being, however, still borne on the strength of the second battalion until his place should be supplied by the succession of recruits. After this he would fall back into the Militia of the district, receiving a small annual retaining fee, and being liable to be called out for a short period of training in each year. In the event of war, all Militiamen to be liable to be called out for general service, the liability being deferred as the men advanced in age. The actual strength of the second battalions should be maintained at 400 men, with full cadres of officers and noncommissioned officers, and with trained men borne on their books sufficient to raise them immediately to a strength of 1,000 men. In this way a machinery would be created by means of which, in a few years, we should pass through a course of regular military training a sufficient number of men to give us a large and efficient Militia; the number of men required for foreign service in time of peace would be largely diminished, and the difficulty of obtaining them proportionately decreased; and the system would have the effect of consolidating into one compact body the whole military strength of the country. It would give, in addition, in each regimental district, a permanent military school, to which might be attached for training the officers of the Militia and Volunteers, and by means of which the annual training of the Militia might be made easy to the men. In addition to the regimental divisions the whole United Kingdom should be mapped out into district commands, the officer in charge of which should have the control of all military forces within his district, subject to the central command of the Commander-in-Chief. The effect of the proposed alteration on numbers would be as follows:—Infantry of the Line.—Present strength: India, 45,416; at home and colonies, 68,023–113,439. Proposed strength: India, 65 battalions, 700 men, or 45,500; Mediterranean, 9 battalions, 700 men, or 6,300; at home, 36 battalions, 500 men, or 18,000–69,800. Reduction, 43,639. This would be a real reduction of the men required for foreign service in time of peace; but it would not operate to the full extent as a reduction of the charge for the Army, because it would be almost exactly balanced by the numbers which would be kept in training at the second battalions. A real saving, however, to the extent of about £1,000,000 a year would be produced by the abolition of the whole depot system and recruiting establishments. He had begun his observations by saying that he would offer no apology for bringing the subject before their Lordships; but he felt that a large apology was due for the length of time he had occupied, and he begged heartily to thank their Lordships for the kindness with which they had listened to his remarks. He would only add that he should feel that he was amply repaid for any labour which he had bestowed on the subject which he had brought under their notice, if he should succeed, in the slightest degree, in contributing to the solution of a question which he believed intimately affected the honour of the Crown, the security of the country, and the efficiency-and economy of one of the great branches of our public administration.


My Lords, I feel that my noble Friend who has just addressed your Lordships (Lord Monck) did not require in any degree to use those expressions with which he has concluded his speech, because I am sure none of your Lordships will differ from me when I say that that speech shows that he has considered this subject with very great care, and that in bringing forward the plan which he has laid before the House, and making the criticisms which he has made on the military system of the country, he has been actuated solely by a wish to throw all the light which the information at his command, and the thought which he has bestowed upon it, enables him to do, on a question which at the present moment excites great public interest. I quite concur with my noble Friend in the remarks he has made respecting the manner in which Her Majesty's Government have dealt with the subject he has discussed. He has stated with perfect truth that Her Majesty's Government, on assuming Office, as they did at the beginning of the month of December last, had, in point of fact, within a very few days afterwards to de- cide on the amount and nature of the Estimates for Army Expenditure which they should lay before the other House of Parliament; so that they could hardly have been expected to produce such a scheme as that, for example, which my noble Friend himself has sketched out, entirely altering the whole system of the Army and Reserves of this country. None of your Lordships can feel more deeply than I do the great difficulty of dealing with this question, both on account of the organization, and the nature of the different forces with which we have to deal. I therefore think my noble Friend has only done justice to Her Majesty's Government when he said that he could not expect from them such a comprehensive scheme as he would desire to see produced and submitted to Parliament and the country. But, although no such scheme was or could have been produced by them at that time, a decision was taken by the Government immediately on their assuming Office which, as it appears to me, has laid the soundest foundation for any further measures which may have to be introduced at a future time on this important subject. I allude to the decision which was arrived at by the Cabinet to concentrate in this country a very much larger force than has been at any previous time concentrated in the United Kingdom, by withdrawing several battalions of Infantry from the colonies. This seems to me to be at the root of any improvement in military organization; because the great difficulty which has been experienced both in enlisting men and in the management of the whole of our military forces, has been the necessity of providing reliefs for the Army in India, and the difficulty which has been found on many occasions, by those responsible for the administration of the Army, in giving a sufficient term of home service to regiments which have had to serve for a long period abroad. It is, therefore, I think, of very great consequence that the number of battalions of Infantry of the Line at home should bear a larger proportion to those engaged in service in the colonies and in India than has hitherto been the case. Comparing this year with the last, I may state that there are, or will be, 61 battalions of Infantry of the Line in this country this year, 28 battalions in the colonies, and 52 in India; making a total of 141 battalions. Last year there were 46 battalions at home, 43 in the colonies, and 52 in India; so that the number of battalions at home has been raised from 46 to 61, and that of those abroad diminished from 95 to 80. This is a step which, as I have said before, appears to me to stand at the root of any sound principle of Army organization; because, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War has said, what we require in this country is the complete cadres of regiments at a small strength, and to be able to recruit those cadres in the event of an emergency arising to the full complement they should possess. This leads me at once to the question—the real question at the bottom of my noble Friend's speech—namely, how is this to be done and what system of Reserve should be instituted in this country for the purpose of augmenting the cadres of the Infantry battalions in case of emergency? When my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War assumed Office he found in existence two classes of Reserve intended to effect this object. The first is called the first-class Army Reserve, which was intended to consist of men who had fulfilled the first term of their engagement and who afterwards enlisted for another five years for service in any part of the world. Of these men there were, at the beginning of the year, about 1,000. The other class of Reserve, which is called the Militia Reserve, consists of 2,700 men. They are Militiamen who, in addition to the extension of their Militia engagement, have volunteered to serve with the Army in any part of the world for five years, the two engagements running on pari passû. Now, I must ask your Lordships to bear with me while I endeavour to draw a distinction between the value of those two classes of Reserve. There is no doubt that' on many occasions, the Militia have been of the greatest service to the country in providing recruits for the regular forces; but, upon the other hand, there are several serious objections to depending entirely on a Reserve connected with the Militia. An obvious objection is that while you replenish your cadres of Infantry of the Line you for the time disorganize your Militia regiments by withdrawing men from the one force and putting them into the other. If therefore you depend entirely upon the Militia Reserve to recruit your cadres and you have the misfortune to require the whole forces of this country at home, you will be deficient of the number of men in the Militia regiments which you have added to your Line battalions. There is also another objection. It is of advantage, if possible, to avoid the complicated arrangements which necessarily follow from having men enlisting in the Militia under two parallel enrolments. If the Militia in this country is to be recognized as a Reserve for the regiments of the Line, I should be inclined, for my own part, to agree with the suggestion of my noble Friend, that all Militiamen should be enlisted subject to service in the Line, in time of war, rather than have any division of the force under different engagements. With respect to the other possible Reserve for the Line, it would be secured by expanding what is termed the first-class Army Reserve, as introduced by General Peel when he was Secretary for War, and connecting the first-class Reserve with a system of shorter enlistment in the Army—or, rather, by establishing a system of enlisting men to serve, say for twelve years, in the Army and in the Army Reserve combined, in whatever proportion might be deemed desirable—whether five years in the Army and seven years in the Reserve, or vice versâ. I think that, provided we could be sure that, in a reasonable space of time, it would be possible to carry out such a system as that, the Army Reserve so formed would be far superior in every respect to any other Reserve on which we could rely in this country for recruiting the cadres of the Line regiments. The great difficulty with which we have to contend in this matter arises out of the question whether we should be likely to get men for an enlistment of that kind; and that, of course, is a question which can be determined only by a trial of the system proposed. There are many reasons for believing that it would not be impossible to get the men. There is no doubt that since the addition to the rate of pay in the Army no difficulty has been experienced in obtaining recruits for the service. Considerable alterations have of late been made in consequence of the Report of the Recruiting Commission, and great improvements have been introduced in the mode of recruiting for the Army. General Edwards, who has paid great attention to the subject since he has occupied the position of In- spector General of Recruiting, has had a very considerable number of letters addressed to him from different parts of the country by men of some intelligence and education, requesting to be informed how they should proceed in order to join the Army. As your Lordships may be aware a change was lately made in regard to the sending of recruits about the country. They formerly used to be sent about the country as though they were culprits; but they now go without any guard at all, and it has been found that in no case, or, at least, in hardly any case, have they attempted to leave during their transit by railway or otherwise. It is also notorious that men who enter the Army often desire to leave it before the expiration of the present term of service—every year, indeed, about 2,000 men are prepared to purchase their discharge; and this fact tends to show that if the period of service were abridged we should be likely to obtain a larger number of recruits. My Lords, the great difficulty in the way of adopting a system of short enlistments is that which has been referred to by my noble Friend—namely the necessity of providing a large number of men for service in India. My noble Friend, in the course of his remarks, was obliged to admit that it would be necessary to have a longer term of enlistment for India, and therefore he found there was a great difficulty in joining any plan with respect to India with the scheme which he has explained to your Lordships. With respect, however, to one difficulty which was mentioned by my noble Friend, I am happy to say that I can remove it altogether. My noble Friend stated that the greatest mortality in India occurred among the young soldiers who had just arrived. Now that statement is totally contrary to the recent statistics of the Indian Army. So much, indeed, is it contrary to the statistics, that they show the fact to be diametrically the reverse. I have here an extract from the last annual Report of the Medical Director General of the Army, and it appears that the average annual number of deaths per 1,000 of Her Majesty's troops in India is, among men under 20 years of age, 7.11. Among men between 20 and 24 years of age the average rises to 16.19 in the 1,000; among men between 25 and 30 years old it is 25v64 per 1,000; among men between 30 and 34 years old it is 32.03 per 1,000; among men between 35 and 39 years old it is 42.78 per 1,000; and among men over 40 years of age it is 62.23 per 1,000. And the observation made by the medical authority on this point is that— The rapid increase of mortality with the advance of age is a strong proof of the injurious influence of tropical service on the constitution. It is found, therefore, that the longer a man remains in India the greater chance there is of his death; and, putting aside all questions of humanity, the greater is the expense to the people of India who will have to pay for a recruit to replace him. Now, my Lords, the same observation is correct even with respect to men who remain long in the Army in this country. Sir Charles Trevelyan has pointed out in one of his pamphlets on Army Administration, that, whereas in the case of men under thirty, the average annual rate of mortality among soldiers is less than the average rate of mortality in civil life, yet, the moment you get beyond that age—between thirty and forty and upwards—the average mortality of soldiers is greater than the average mortality of men in civil life. It would appear, therefore, that the Service loses by death a larger proportion of men who are above thirty or thereabouts. In dealing with this question, there is also a very important point to be considered—namely, the cost of the system of re-engaging men in the Army at the expiration of their first engagement, which re-engagement entitles them to pensions. It has been pointed out in an able Paper read before the Royal United Service Institution by Major Leahy, of the Royal Engineers, that, if you re-engage a man, it will be found, on taking into consideration the value of the pension to which he will be entitled, that he costs just twice as much as a recruit. That being the case, my Lords, and there being evidently very great advantages in having a Reserve of trained men who have passed through the Army, instead of a Reserve of men who have only received the training of a Militia regiment, which training must, of course, be of an inferior character to that of four or five years in a Line regiment—this being the case, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State deemed it advisable that, before we adopt the Militia Reserve as the only Reserve for the Army, it should be ascertained whether some scheme cannot be devised whereby a system of shorter enlistments may be introduced, coupled with service in the Army Reserve. My Lords, it is a satisfaction to find that the opinion of my right hon. Friend on this subject has anticipated the strong expression of opinion in. a similar sense which has been since given by the very distinguished officer to whose opinions my noble Friend has alluded, and whose opinions must be ever regarded by your Lordships with respect—Field-Marshal Sir John Burgoyne. He uses the following expression, which summarises the views which my right hon. Friend has expressed on this subject— If the service in the Line could be made more palatable, so as to induce a more numerous and somewhat superior class to enter as soldiers, it would tend to the greater diffusion of a general military capability throughout the community; and this would be much increased if, instead of lengthening the periods of service, they could be much reduced, and if the soldier of sonic few years' regular training were again absorbed among the civil population and available in whatever shape might be thought best for the Reserve force. I think the substantial reasons which can be urged in favour of the establishment of some such system as this render it worthy of consideration by your Lordships and by the country. One other word, my Lords, upon this subject. Sir John Burgoyne speaks of inducements to a superior class of men to enter the Army as soldiers. Now I consider this to be a subject of great interest and importance. The desirability of having our soldiers better instructed and employed in trades of different kinds in the course of their service, is a subject which, I believe, is under the consideration of the illustrious Duke the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief at the present time. There is also another question which excites considerable interest among those who have paid attention to Army administration. It is believed that considerable inducements would be held out to respectable men to enlist in the Army if men who leave the Army with good characters, and who are intelligent, and good writers and accountants, were more made use of in the public offices than they are at the present time. We find that the Sappers can readily obtain employment after leaving the service; and it appears to me quite possible that matters may be so managed that we may hereafter have in the Line regiments men who, in like manner, on leaving the service, will experience no difficulty in obtaining employment in civil capacities. My noble Friend has alluded to the condition of the Militia. As I before remarked, when my right hon. Friend came into Office the attention of the Government was first called to the concentration of the forces at home by means of reducing the battalions in the colonies. My right hon. Friend's attention was next directed to the condition of the Militia, which has been rightly characterized by my noble Friend as the first Reserve in this country. My noble Friend called it "the first constitutional Reserve," and, indeed, the word "constitutional" is constantly used in connection with the Militia. I believe, however, that in this country no one force is more constitutional than another; that the Army is as constitutional a force as the Militia, and the Volunteers are as constitutional a force as either. With respect to the Militia, I think your Lordships will be of the same opinion as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in regretting that the novelty and popularity of that very valuable force the Volunteers should, for a time at least, have apparently detracted from the public estimation in which the Militia was formerly held. Because nobody can draw an invidious comparison between the two forces; they are totally distinct in their character—each has its own functions; and I am sure noble Lords who are connected with the Volunteers will not wish to detract from the merits of the Militia, while those noble Lords who are connected with the Militia will not wish to detract from the merits of the Volunteers. No doubt it was found at the beginning of this year that the Militia was exceedingly deficient in officers, and especially in subaltern officers. Of the establishment of 3,485 officers, which is the Staff of the Militia, there had only been appointed 2,138, and of these only 1,859 were trained last year. My right hon. Friend paid immediate attention to that point, and he took in the Estimates of this year a sum of £20,000, which it may be hoped will remedy some of the matters with respect to which Militia officers have had to complain. In the first place, the pay of regimental officers of Militia, of and above the rank of captain, during training, which had been by some accidental circumstance less than the pay of officers of the Line, has been equalized with that of officers of the Line. The grant to Militia officers of 1s. a day is obviously too small to enable them to pay for the necessary expenses of their mess. That sum has been raised from 1s. to 4s. Officers of Militia also find it very expensive, when put in quarters, to provide themselves with that moderate amount of furniture which is necessary for their comfort in addition to that which they find in barracks; and a small allowance has been given to officers when so situated. Some other changes have also been made. In the first place, officers of Militia have been allowed, with the consent of the Lords Lieutenant of the different counties, to exchange from one regiment to another, which has been represented to be a great advantage to themselves; and likewise, with the concurrence of the illustrious Duke at the head of the Army, the arrangement has been made that a step of honorary rank shall be granted to officers retiring from the Militia after a certain number of years' service; to field officers after twenty-five years' service, of which fifteen have been in the Militia; to captains after twenty years' service, of which fifteen have been in the Militia; and to lieutenants after twenty years' service, of which ten have been in the Militia. In addition to these alterations, none of which require legislative sanction, a Bill has been introduced, and will shortly come before your Lordships, which provides for two important matters connected with the Militia, and for one minor matter. The minor matter is, that it is proposed to do away with the property qualification now required for some ranks of officers. It appeared to my right hon. Friend that, after the property qualification for Members of Parliament had been abolished, it was hardly necessary to insist upon it in respect to Militia officers; and it has been represented as a bar, in some cases, to obtaining good officers to fill up vacancies in the Militia. The two important points are these—In the first place it is proposed to give power to Her Majesty to put the Militia, when out for training, under the command of general officers of Her Majesty's Army. By an accidental omission in our legislation, while the Volunteers can be placed under general officers, no power exists to place the Militia under such command unless they are actually embodied. The third provision included in the Bill is, that when there is a want of junior or subaltern officers in regiments of Militia called out for training, officers of the regular Army may be sent for a time to assist in training those regiments. There are several other questions relating to the Militia of very considerable importance. Perhaps the most important of all relates to the system of billeting; because those who know the Militia are, I think, of opinion that so long as that system is continued, it must be with very great difficulty that commanding officers of Militia regiments are able to keep their men under proper discipline during the time of training, and that it would be of the greatest possible advantage to the Militia if any method of getting rid of that system could be found. There is also, again—as has been pointed out by my noble Friend—the system of instruction for officers of the Militia. I do not know that the officers of the Militia have been complained of as ignorant of their duties: on the contrary, the Reports of the Inspecting Officers, in the course of last year, in regard to the Militia regiments have been favourable; and I can further say, from personal communication with officers upon whom I can depend to give an honest opinion on the subject, that the condition of the Militia is not that which was shadowed forth by my noble Friend. At the same time I am far from asserting that twenty-eight days' training will produce a battalion of Militia perfectly organized, and capable of immediately taking its place with the Infantry of the Line—that would be an exaggeration; but, nevertheless, I think that, if called out for service, the Militia would be found able, as they have been heretofore, to perform any duty that might be required of them. With regard to the efficiency of the Militia, I take the liberty of quoting the following words of a very high authority:— If you begin with the formation of Militia corps under this Act of Parliament they will in time become what their predecessors in the Militia were; and if ever they do become what the former Militia were, you may rely on it they will perform all the services they may be required to perform."—[3 Hansard, cxxii. 731.] On the 15th of June, 1852, that was the opinion expressed by the late Duke of Wellington, when the Bill for the establishment of the present system of Militia was before your Lordships, and I may add that they were nearly the last words spoken by that illustrious man in this House. As to the instruction of the officers of the Militia, it is quite possible that improvements may be introduced into the training and examination of those officers. At the present time there is a Royal Commission inquiring into the system of education in the Army, of which my noble Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Dufferin) is Chairman, and of which I myself have the honour to be a Member. It is obvious that no system of schools of instruction, such as, I believe, has been instituted in Canada, could be introduced in this country with respect to Militia or Volunteer officers, until the question of the instruction, the training and the examination of officers of the Line has been previously decided. The key of the whole education of the Army must be the education of the Regular forces, and the Militia and Reserve forces must follow their lead in that respect. Therefore, until the Commission reports, it would be premature to establish any system for amending the instruction of Militia officers. The main point, I think, in the speech of my noble Friend—and I entirely agree in the observations that he made upon it—was that he wanted some organization in this country which will bring together the military forces, of whatever class they may be, and will, in times of emergency, enable them to act with promptness and with harmony. That is a subject to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State devoted his attention immediately after assuming the Seals of Office. The first thing which my right hon. Friend did with regard to it was to consult with the First Lord of the Admiralty and with his Royal Highness the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief upon the general principles of our defence. And I must here venture to remind my noble Friend that in his admirable speech he made one most important and, I think, essential omission. The word "Navy," I believe, did not once fall from his lips. It seems to me that the whole of his argument—the whole of his comparison in respect to the condition of our forces with those of France and Prussia—might have been sound if this country had been in the position of a Continental Power, with frontiers conterminous with those of other Powers. But when his argument comes to be applied to this island of ours, providentially separated and protected by a great natural defence from any attack from abroad—and not only protected by a great natural defence, but supported by a force in which now, as at all other times, we hold ourselves to be superior to all other nations in the world—the reasoning and the comparison fail—and the position which we occupy is one which renders it unnecessary for us to arm the whole population of the country, as other nations have, unfortunately, been almost obliged to arm their whole population, in consequence of the mutual armaments of their neighbours. My Lords, to resume—After settling and laying down the main principles of our defensive force, my right hon. Friend appointed a sub-Committee, which is now considering what military divisions should be made in this country, and what Staff organization should be established in those divisions for the sake of bringing all the forces of the country together. Now, my Lords, that organization appears to be perfectly indispensable in order that the forces of the country should be put upon a proper footing. At the same time your Lordships will be glad to hear that it is far from improbable that very great improvements in the organization of the Reserve forces may be made, and that there is also room for effecting no little economy when that improved organization is carried out. The noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey), who has often addressed your Lordships with great weight upon questions relating to Army organization and the Reserve forces, has called attention several times to the expense occasioned by maintaining, in connection with the Reserve forces, a permanent Staff for the whole year, who necessarily are employed but for a very short time. Now, the cost of the permanent Staff of the Reserve forces, which I have on this paper, I will venture to read. There are no fewer than 717 officers and 6,391 noncommissioned officers, and the cost of pay and allowances for the Staff is, including clothing, no less than £491,000 per annum.


thought there must be some mistake.


The noble Duke expresses some apprehension that I have fallen into a mistake; but I will give the particulars. There are 15 officers engaged in the inspection of the Reserve forces, at a cost of £8,425 per annum. In the Militia there are 290 officers and 4,776 non-commissioned officers, costing in pay, allowances, and clothing £287,250 per annum. In the Yeomanry there are 35 officers and 328 non-commissioned officers, and their cost is £19,191; and in the Volunteer force there are 291 officers and 1,163 noncommissioned officers, the annual cost being £154,950. Then the cost of the Staff of the Pensioners is about £21,200 per annum, so that the Staff of the Reserve forces alone costs, as I have stated, £491,016 per annum. But that is not all; for, independent of this Staff we have recruiting districts, and the pay, allowances, and clothing of those connected with them amounts to £26,934 per annum. Independently of that again, we have the Staff of the depot battalions, who are, to a great extent, employed in similar duties, and their cost for pay, allowances, and clothing amounts to £36,030. Therefore, my Lords, if you add to the cost of the Staff of the Reserve forces that of the Recruiting Staff and of the Staff of the depot battalions, which might be diminished by a different organization, the total cost per annum is no less than £553,980. I am not, my Lords, at this time going to propose any plan by which this Staff may be consolidated and economy enforced; all that I say is—that, with such figures before us, it certainly appears that, while greater efficiency might be secured, a considerable degree of economy may also be effected. I will now say a few words with respect to the observations which my noble Friend has made in regard to the Volunteers. My Lords, I think there is no officer of Volunteers who would assume, as my noble Friend appears to think they do, that the Volunteers ought to be regarded as part of the standing Army. From all that I have seen and heard among Volunteer officers and from my own feeling as a Volunteer officer of humble position, I do not think that the Volunteers ever supposed that they were part of the standing Army of this country. We are quite content with the position which my noble Friend has given us of being valuable auxiliaries in time of invasion. The consideration of the position of the Volunteers was forced upon my right hon. Friend shortly after he assumed the Seals of Secretary of State. It will be in the recollection of some, at least, of your Lordships that Sir John Pakington, when Secretary of State, received a deputation of Volunteer officers, and communicated to them the decision of the late Government against an increase of the capitation rate to Volunteers. My right hon. Friend shortly after he came to the War Office received a deputation of the Volunteer officers, by whom the same request was made, and to whom the same reply was given. My right hon. Friend said that the view he took of the question was that it would not be right to give broadcast an increase of the capitation rate to the Volunteers; but if an increase was to be given out of the public taxes, such increase must be coupled with a comprehensive review of the whole position of the force; that it would be necessary in the first place that no more separate corps should exist than could be usefully established in any particular locality; that officers and non-commissioned officers should be appointed, not from social or other similar considerations, but because they were able to command men with efficiency; and, lastly, that some better test of efficiency should be afforded than the number of drills which were required, as the force was now constituted, to entitle a Volunteer to the capitation grant; and that more would be necessary than the small increase which was proposed by the Volunteer deputation as a kind of ultimatum. Now, this question of the Volunteers is intimately connected with that of the organization of the whole of the Reserve forces; and, therefore, my right hon. Friend proposes—after the Committee which is now considering the general organization of the Reserve forces has proceeded somewhat further towards the completion of that part of its work, and at the time of the Wimbledon meeting, when many of the Volunteer officers will come to London—to invite some of them to assist him in taking a comprehensive view of the position of the Volunteer force, which appears absolutely essential before Parliament is asked to vote an increase of the grant. I need hardly remind your Lordships that the money paid to the Volunteer force in one year is for services rendered in the year before; and, therefore, that, before the Estimates for next year are laid before Parliament, there will be ample time to mature any measures which may be necessary for the improvement of the force. It appears to the Secretary of State that it might be exceedingly desirable, if any increase is given to the Volunteers, to devote it more to enabling them to unite with the Militia and the Line, in order to train them practically to their duties, in smaller bodies than those which have been collected together at the great reviews. I have already said, my Lords, that I cannot accept the position which my noble Friend (Lord Monck) has taken in the course of his able speech in instituting comparisons between the position of this country, and such countries as France, Prussia, Austria, or Russia stand with respect to defence. I must refer, however, for a few moments, to the comparison which my noble Friend made as regards the cost per man of the Army and Volunteers of France and Prussia, as compared with that of; the Army and Volunteers of this country. When I was in the other House of Parliament, when the Estimates were being discussed, I have constantly heard comparisons made between the cost of the French and English Armies; but I never found any possible point of agreement in which two people who took opposite views could meet. It is utterly impossible, unless you have every particular detail, and work the calculation out from top to bottom, to institute any sound comparison between the Estimates of the two countries. We are told that one English soldier costs £100 per annum; but in that £100 is included pensions of all kinds, the cost of fortifications, and of military experiments of all sorts, and many other matters which may or may not be included in calculations based upon the French Budget, but which require to be carefully considered before such a comparison can be accepted as fair. The fact is, we see our own defects, and our own expenditure is brought especially home to us; but when we come to discuss the expenditure of other nations there may be things which we do not know, but which they do; and therefore I altogether take exception to the comparison which my noble Friend has instituted. But I will take him to one point which will show that he has been hardly fair to this country in his comparison of the cost of the French and English soldier. In making his comparison he calls the Garde Mobile soldiers, but excludes the English Volunteers.


I beg my noble Friend's pardon. I included the Volunteers, the Militia, and every other force.


If my noble Friend included them I am utterly at a loss to know how to make his calculations tally with the Army Estimates; because if all are included we should have 436,000 men—namely, 400,000 at home and 36,000 in the colonies, who also fall on the Army Estimates. But if you divide the Army Estimates, which, I believe, are £10,834,000, for the Effective Services, by that number it does not produce anything like the sum mentioned by my noble Friend. The calculation produces something like £25, instead of the sum the noble Lord mentioned. I cannot profess to go into the details of the calculations which he has made with respect to foreign Armies; but if they are made at all in the same way as his calculations respecting our Army, they may not be so unfavourable to our administration as at first sight they appear. Of course, my Lords, it is self-evident that if you have conscription, you can have a cheaper Army than you can get on the voluntary system. I was sorry to hear my noble Friend shadow forth a system similar to the Prussian. Conscription always bears most hardly on the working classes. As long, therefore, as we can get soldiers by the voluntary system, we should be doing a foolish and unjust thing to throw the burden of our military defence on our poorer fellow-countrymen. If you have a voluntary system the average rate of pay must be equal to the pay of artizans and labourers, and the Army cannot consequently be cheap. Besides this, everything in this country is dearer than on the Continent. I confess I was unable to follow my noble Friend completely; but, as far as I understand it, I must say that any system such as he proposes, which would establish a different system of enlistment for the service at home and service abroad, would involve great, if not insuperable difficulties. His system contains a fault common to many of the systems which have been designed of late with a view to reform our Army organization. One Paper, read by Mr. Cole, which gave rise to a very interesting discussion at the Society of Arts, was based upon the proposal to leave India entirely out of the question; and some other schemes have been designed in forgetful-ness of the fact that we have to provide an Army for India. I trust, by the way, that whatever scheme may be adopted for the organization of the English Army, we shall not revert to the system of having a local European Army in India. When the local Army existed, I was strongly against it, and now that it has been abolished, I deprecate any change which would restore it. I believe it to be an unsound system for the maintenance of the British supremacy in the East. My noble Friend has more than once referred to the views recently expressed by Sir John Burgoyne. But the name of Sir John Burgoyne brings me back to the time when a celebrated letter was written by him, at a period when there was some anxiety, as there is at present, respecting our home defence. It will be some satisfaction to your Lordships to compare the state of those defences then with their condition at present. In 1851, the regular forces numbered some 67,500; of Militia there was only a small permanent Staff of 700 men, and there were 15,500 Pensioners, &c. We had altogether 84,000 of those forces, besides a Yeomanry force of 14,600 men, but no Volunteers. In 1869, we have 92,000 Regular Army, 83,000 Militia, actually trained, independent of those who will be called out for training this year, and 24,000 Pensioners, &c.; giving a total of 200,000 as against 84,000 inl851. If you take the Infantry of the Line, you will find that we had only 43 battalions in 1851 at home; now we have 61: in 1851, we had only 5,000 Artillery; this year we have 18,000: in Volunteers we had only the Yeomanry against 170,000 "efficient" Volunteers. Therefore if we stood alone on the comparison of the Regular and Reserve forces in 1851 and at the present time, we have the satisfaction of knowing that we are in a far superior position to that in which we then were. But, in 1851, as was pointed out by Sir John Burgoyne, we had no system of fortifications. At this time, we have perhaps the most admirable system in the world rapidly advancing to completion. We have also a means of defence which did not exist in 1851—I refer to the floating mines or torpedoes. This species of defence has attracted great attention, and there is no doubt that torpedoes will form a powerful auxiliary for the defence of harbours in the future. Look how the system developed during the progress of the American War. In 1862, there was only one vessel destroyed by them; in 1863, there were two; in 1864, ten; and in 1865, twelve. Twenty-five Federal vessels altogether were destroyed, and nine injured by torpedoes during that war. My Lords, the introduction of steam, so far from being a weakness, has been a great addition of strength to this country; improvements in artillery have been a strength to us; and torpedoes will give additional strength to the defence. The policy of the Secretary of State and the Government is to concentrate the forces in this country; as far as possible to establish such a system of Reserve as to enable the battalions of Infantry to be raised at once in case of necessity to war strength; and, at the same time, to organize such a system of military administration throughout the country as will unite, as far as possible under one command, for purposes of organization and control, all the different forces which now have no connection one with the other, and enable them to be used with the greatest advantage whenever necessity shall arise. I feel sure that my noble Friend will give credit to the Government for having taken up this question, not in a perfunctory spirit, but with the determination to go to the bottom of every portion of our military system, and not to be satisfied until those defects which now exist in certain portions of that system are remedied, and that such an organization is adopted as will enable us to recruit our Army with promptitude when it is desired, and to have all the defensive forces of this country in the most efficient state if, unfortunately, we should be called upon to demand their services.


My Lords, it is not my intention, after the able speeches we have heard from the Under Secretary for War and my noble Friend who introduced the subject (Lord Monck), to take this opportunity of going into the details of a question of such importance and breadth, as there will, no doubt, be other opportunities of discussing it. It will, however, be right for me to say a few words and to warn your Lordships and the country that this grave question is one that ought not to be disposed of hastily, but which ought to be decided after the most serious consideration, after the fullest investigation, and after you have exhausted all the information it is possible to obtain. From the observations made by my noble Friend who introduced this question, I thought he was going to conclude with a proposal for the introduction of conscription into this country—for all his arguments and views were in the direction of conscription; but I do not believe that either your Lordships or the country are at all prepared for such a proposition, and I am certainly the last man who, from a military point of view, would urge the resort to conscription in this country. At the same time I admit that conscription is, of all measures, that which makes military organization most simple and easy. I agree very much with what fell from the noble Lord the Under (Secretary with respect to the unintelligible character of the figures of the noble Lord who introduced the question. I did not understand the noble Lord's figures; but, supposing they are correct, I contend that the whole question is one of conscription, and that the question of expenditure rests entirely upon conscription. If you have conscription, you can force a man to serve you for nothing. What is the question with us? It is entirely one of the labour market. You must go into the labour market and make it worth a man's while to serve you as a soldier in preference to following any trade or profession. This is a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence; and men cannot be got without expense. A man will not come into the Army merely for the pleasure of serving you; he comes for the advantage it is to him. The greater the advantage in money and money's worth, the more easily will you get recruits. This is a question of finance and of comparative expenditure, and on every one of these points it is an absurdity to compare our Army with any other Army which is a conscript Army. The only Army you can compare ours with is one formed like the American Army, only a small portion of which is a standing Army. We must be prepared, under any circumstances, for a considerable outlay, and we must not compare our outlay in these respects with the outlay upon the Armies of France, Russia, or Prussia. Ours is not a conscript Army, and that is really at the bottom of the whole question in that respect; and the same as regards enlistment. If my noble Friend can assure me that we can get men to serve without a pension, I shall be glad to hear it; but, so far as my convictions go at present, they are very strong in the direction that the pension is a great inducement to men to enter the Service. No arrangement you may make is of any use if it will not produce the men; ii you can produce the men, that is what is required; but if you cannot produce the men, the ground is cut away from under your feet. Recollect this is a voluntary service, and if you adopt a system which will not bring the men, you are checkmated. Therefore, whatever we do, we must obtain the men, and any change introduced must be introduced in such a manner that we shall be sure of the result before the change is made. I am under the impression that there may be an attempt made to introduce enlistment for short periods; but I do hope, at all events, that there is no intention of giving up the present system of enlistment before you are sure of the result of any new experiment. I would say let short enlistment be tried pari passû with the present system; and if you adopt that course you will lose no men. Another important point is that of enlistment for India and for colonial garrisons. I cannot conceive of any system of enlistment answering which makes a difference between enlistment for foreign and enlistment for home service. Such distinctions lead to endless confusion and inconvenience, and involve injustice even to the men themselves. Following up what has been said by the noble Lord the Under Secretary, I can only assure the noble Lord (Lord Monck) that Her Majesty's Government are perfectly alive to the necessity of having this subject most exhaustively inquired into, and that every endeavour is being made to see how the Reserve forces can be brought into relation with the regular Army. If any arrangement can be made—and I have no doubt it can—by which that desirable end can be attained, I am sure that not only Her Majesty's Government, but all military authorities, will see with great satisfaction any such proposal judiciously carried out to the fullest extent. As to Reserve forces, to which reference has been made, I quite agree that if you could get Reserve forces that are not connected with the Militia, or any other body, it would be a great advantage; but the question is, how to get them? Can you get them? My impression is you cannot. If we can get them, by all means let us do so; let us try a system of raising the Reserve forces without its having anything to do with the Militia, and let us also continue to try the scheme of a Militia Reserve introduced by General Peel. I believe if that measure were systematically carried out it would work well, that there would be no difficulty in getting the Reserve men from the Militia, and in filling up the Militia regiments which supply men for the Reserve, and that the working of the measure need involve no disorganization of the Militia force. I entreat your Lordships to reflect, and not to be hurried into making any organic change in the recruitment of the Army—an Army which I think all your Lordships will admit has, under all circumstances and on all occasions, proved itself worthy of the country, and which has done its duty in a manner which ought at least to be borne in mind when you propose to make a grave and serious change in its organization.


said, it would be early enough to express an opinion on the various schemes which had been propounded when any of them had taken the shape of a Bill. It was satisfactory to observe that the Government was at last entering boldly and earnestly on the path of military reform, and that it was prepared to give more attention to questions of military organization than its predecessors were supposed to have done. He did not agree with the proposal to curtail the period of enlistment in the regular service, and he believed that to dispense with the lengthened service which those who now entered the Army gave freely and voluntarily, would deprive the Army of strength, power, and stability, which it would be impossible to replace. If our battalions were composed of men of two years' instead of seven or eight years' service, we should miss those whom the Duke of Wellington called the backbone of the Army when the stern ordeal of battle had to be gone through. If, therefore, we were to make the experiment of passing soldiers rapidly through the ranks, consigning them to the Militia and afterwards recalling them to their colours in time of war, let it be tried first with only a few regiments of the regular service. He believed that the services of the men we now had were cheaply purchased at the cost of the pension they were entitled to on their discharge. He admitted that the cogency of these arguments depended on the truth of the postulate that prolonged training produced increased efficiency. Many denied this, but he believed the majority would affirm it; and on this point an able military writer of the day said— It was the fate of the writer to be once with one of England's greatest soldiers, now no more, in a distant land during the mutiny of an army and the revolt of a people, and nothing struck him so much as the deep anxiety of that veteran chief, who was literally grown gray in war, to obtain even one regiment of old soldiers whom he know and on whom he could rely, and the perfect tranquillity which came over him when he did obtain it. The preponderance of opinion was, he believed, in favour of service not much shorter than what now prevails—at least among all who had seen troops in action and in the field. Instead of dispensing with the services of those whom he would call professional soldiers, mainly with the view of saving the pensions to which they were entitled on discharge, the Government should try to devise some plan equally acceptable but less costly to induce our soldiers to remain in the ranks; and then the bulk of our Army would continue to receive that lengthened training which would be of incalculable value if ever they were called upon to take the field.


I wish to make a few remarks on this subject, particularly as I differ to a considerable extent from some of the propositions of the noble Lord who has just sat down (Earl de la Warr). I think we have lost sight in this discussion of the main object for which it was brought on. It appeared to me to be instituted for the purpose of endeavouring to arrive at that which is really wanted in this country—namely, the best mode of establishing an Army of Reserve. I think that Her Majesty's Government have pursued a right line in the direction of military organization. I think that they have been quite correct in withdrawing, as far as possible, the troops of the Line from service in the colonies. They have also done quite right, while maintaining at home a larger force than existed last year, in distributing that force throughout a greater number of regiments. They will thereby be able to reduce those regiments into distinct cadres; and the question that then arises is how these cadres are to be best filled up on an emergency? Now, my opinion is that these cadres ought to be filled up by men who have passed through the Army itself. It is quite true that that principle was tried by those who originally framed the Short Service Act, which I had the honour of carrying through this House. At that time it was believed that, after a service of ten years in the Army, we should induce the men to take their discharge, and to fall back into the Army of Reserve. It turned out that that plan did not succeed except to the most trifling extent. The same want of success attended General Peel's suggestion; and I consider, therefore, that the attempt to form an Army of Reserve upon either of those principles is perfectly futile. But I do think, if it appears to Her Majesty's Government to be advisable, that an Army of Reserve may be formed by shortening the period of enlistment, and making the entry into the Reserve compulsory and not voluntary. I think that if men were enlisted for twelve years, and seven, or even five, of those years were passed under the colours, and then the men were sent at once to form a nucleus of men available for future service, that would be the most efficient Army of Reserve you could obtain. From that body of men I would fill up the cadres of regiments when necessity required; and in the course of time I have no doubt that that Reserve might amount to some 30,000, 40,000, or even 50,000 men, and in case of need you would be sure of being able to fill up your regiments to their proper strength. Moreover, let me point out the immense economy of such an arrangement. When you enlist a man for twelve years, and say that he needs only serve five or seven years under the colours, you get rid at once of all married soldiers. Such a thing as marriage in the Army would then be unknown, and the enormous expense of the transport of women and children would be altogether saved and avoided. With regard to regiments sent to India, it has occurred to me that they might be sent out there stronger in numbers than the regiments you would send to your colonies—containing say, 1,000 men. I would allow these men to drop down to 400 or 500, as they naturally would in the course of five or seven years' service; and there would thus be a large saving of expense in sending out reliefs. I believe that the change I have suggested would make the service much more popular than it now is. If, however, an Army of Reserve is established upon these principles, care must be taken that those who have passed through the Army should not forget the drill they received while they were in it. This could be done by calling them out as the Pensioners were called out. With regard to the Militia, I think it ought to constitute a distinct force for the defence of the country in time of war. I would not allow it to be drawn upon in any manner whatever for the recruiting of the regular Army; but I would enable it, by an Act of Parliament to be obtained upon the emergency, to volunteer by whole regiments for foreign service if the necessities of the country demanded such a measure. As to the Volunteers, I only hope that Her Majesty's Government will never look upon that force as any other than a force to be used in the last extremity. The cry "The country is in danger" should be raised before the Volunteers are embodied under the Queen's Orders; and, while we attend to the proper training and exercising of that force, it is only upon a great emergency that they ought to be put side by side with the regular forces of the country and embodied under the Mutiny Act. In listening to the suggestions of my noble Friend behind me, I could not help being struck with the comparisons drawn between the Army of England and the Armies of the Continent. Now, as the illustrious Duke and the Under Secretary said, no comparison is possible between the forces of a country which is supplied by voluntary service and countries which are supplied by conscription. The whole tendency of military legislation in this country of late has been to render the Army more acceptable to the whole body of the community. I believe that efficient steps have been taken in that direction, and that the Government are disposed to go even further. But there was one point to which my noble Friend referred in opening this debate, and which the Under Secretary of State passed over, to which I beg to call your Lordships' attention. I do trust that whatever reforms Her Majesty's Government may be disposed to make with regard to the officering of the British Army, they will be most cautious how they meddle with the system of purchase. My noble Friend quoted the opinion of a French Marshal with regard to the character of our infantry. Now, I will tell him what another French Marshal said, when he came to see, in combination with the Armies of his own country, the English Army in the Crimea. He was at the head of an Army whose officers rose from the ranks, and who were in consequence always associated with the men whom it was their business to command; and he contrasted that Army with ours whose officers only exceptionally rose from the ranks, and where the system of purchase prevailed. He saw in one Army that the officers were zealous, painstaking, constantly anxious for the comfort of their men; and the consequence was that the men, seeing the deep interest which their officers took in them, obeyed them with alacrity, and executed the orders given to them with steadiness and zeal. On the other hand, in the French Army, from the constant association of the officers with the men, there was no respect on the part of the men for the officers; and Marshal Canrobert said to Lord Raglan—"Whatever you do, take my advice, and never alter the system which establishes the relations now existing between the officers and men in your Army." I trust that in all measures of Army reform to which Her Majesty's Government may direct their attention they will be cautious about meddling with a system which has proved to be of such advantage to our Army hitherto, and which will, I am quite sure, notwithstanding all that has been said against it, continue to give the British Army a system of officering to which no other system can come up. The whole of this question ought, in my opinion, to undergo careful consideration; but I am perfectly convinced that the result of that consideration, whenever the Government may deem it right to take up the subject, should not lead them to put two or three systems on their trial. Let them make up their minds as to what the best system is to adopt, and adopt it—for depend upon it if they put different systems on trial they will succeed in none, and the country will be no better provided to meet any contingency which may arise than it is at the present moment.


expressed his opinion, as a Volunteer, that the Volunteer Force could never act effectively in this country except as an auxiliary to the Regular Army; and, at the same time, he urged that it was most desirable that the War Department should pay much greater attention than it had hitherto done to the organization, development, and equipment of the Volunteers, in order that they might be as efficient an auxiliary force as possible. The question which had been raised by the noble Lord who opened the discussion (Lord Monck) was, he might add, a very large one. The noble Lord very properly gave credit to the Government for having recalled from the colonies several of the regiments which had been stationed there; but he very much doubted whether this country would remain satisfied hereafter with a force of sixty-one battalions. As their Lordships were aware, there had always existed in England a very rightful jealousy of a large standing Army, and should those regiments be maintained at anything like their full complement, the present or some future Government might think it expedient to inquire whether such a force was one which, together with the Militia and Volunteers, the country required for its defence, or whether its maintenance was consistent with the scale of expenditure which ought to be incurred. When he heard the noble Lord speak of the battalions in this country being kept at a low strength he felt it would be an impolitic course to pursue to have merely the cadres of several battalions as proposed, and he should have thought that it would be more acceptable to the country to have a smaller number of regiments kept in a state of efficiency not to be surpassed. That, in his opinion, would be a much wiser course to adopt than to have a number of semi-regiments. The noble Lord had also drawn a comparison between our Army and the Armies of the great Continental States; but he could not help thinking it would be a great mistake to model the military system of this country, with all its idiosyncracies and peculiarities, on any foreign system whatsoever. As to the remarks which had been made about bringing the several forces of this country into harmony with one another, he would merely observe that, instead of troubling ourselves with a vast system of organization, the preferable course, so far as he could see, would be to bring to a state of the utmost perfection the several branches of our defences. He lamented that year after year reforms in that respect had been postponed; and he trusted, after the repeated inquiries which had been instituted into the subject, the Government would become alive to the fact that the country would no longer be content with allowing our defences to remain in their present unsatisfactory condition; and he trusted that another Session would not be allowed to pass without a remedy being applied. The question was one on which he had intended to make some further observations; but, owing to the lateness of the hour, he should postpone those observations to a future occasion.


said, he wished to explain that for this year the arrangement for completing the cadres of the infantry battalions of the Line, which now stood at 560 rank and file, would be as follows:—The regiments of Militia would be invited to raise in the Militia Reserve a number of men which, on the whole, including the 2,700 now raised, would amount to 15,000, and that would enable the cadres of battalions of the Line to be increased, in case of war, from 560 to 800 men.