HL Deb 03 May 1870 vol 201 cc86-106

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, its object was to provide for the Secretary of State for War greater assistance than he now possessed in the other House of Parliament. He believed that a very short consideration of the subject would convince their Lordships that this was a desirable object, and that it would be effected by this Bill in a proper manner. A very slight consideration of the multifarious duties performed by the Secretary for War would convince their Lordships that the satisfactory performance of them overtasked the energy, industry, and ability of any single man. The Army Estimates, for instance, after the reductions which the Government had been able to make, amounted this year to nearly £13,000,000, spread over 27 different Votes, and occupying nearly 200 pages, on every detail of which the Secretary for War might be called upon to answer in the House of Commons; while he had to be ready to discuss every branch of Army administration. Not only must he be prepared to discuss every one of these subjects as they were brought before Parliament, but he must also attend any Parliamentary Committees which might be appointed affecting his Department. The thirst for knowledge which distinguished Members of the House of Commons was so great and increasing that six or seven. Questions were occasionally put to the Secretary for War in one night; while whenever the Army Estimates were on the Paper something like a dozen Notices of Motions and Questions were given. The duty of answering these was yearly becoming more arduous. Besides all this labour and all the duties of his Department, the Secretary for War, as a member of the Cabinet, had to give his advice and assistance in all matters of general administration. It was evident that such an amount of work could not fairly be expected of one man; who, it must also be considered, was frequently a civilian, to whom the mastery of all the details of his Department was, therefore, a more laborious task than it would be to a military man. Their Lordships, moreover, would certainly admit that the organization of the War Department in any country should be framed in such a manner as to be adequate not to times of peace merely, but to those of war. Now, if war should break out, it would surely be impossible for the Secretary for War properly to bear, in addition to his ordinary labours, the responsibility of military operations. Hence it was not surprising to find that Sir JohnPakington—a statesman who spared no time or labour in transacting the duties of any Office, and who was not disposed to shrink from accepting any responsibility—had frankly admitted that the duties of the Secretary for War were unduly heavy, and were such as he could hardly discharge satisfactorily to himself, and had fully endorsed the opinion of the present Secretary for War on that point. It would not, perhaps, be unbecoming in him (Lord North-brook) to say that, from his own per- sonal experience, he was fully able to appreciate the difficulties this Bill was intended to meet. When in 1861 he had the honour of filling the office of Under Secretary of State, he was, during a whole Session, the only officer of the Department then in the House of Commons, and he had consequently to perform all such Parliamentary duties as a subordinate officer could discharge. He was able, therefore, to testify that the work was more than could be expected of one man—though he was, of course, relieved by his chief from that responsibility which weighed upon public men, and had not to discharge the higher duties devolving upon the confidential servants of the Crown. Parliamentary assistance would be a great advantage to the Secretary for War—not a personal advantage, but an advantage to the public service—and this Bill was intended to remove, to a considerable degree, that Parliamentary pressure which now fell so heavily on the Secretary of State by the creation of two new Offices in connection with the War Department, the holders of which should be eligible to sit in the House of Commons, and should be responsible to the Secretary of State for the performance of certain duties. These officers were respectively entitled the Surveyor General of the Ordnance and the Financial Secretary of the War Office. The Surveyor General would have two officers under him—one for the purpose of superintending what were styled the munitions de bouche, and the other the munitions de guerre. Questions relating to both were of the greatest importance in our Army administration, and had, especially the latter class, lately received a great deal of attention in Parliament; both were full of complicated and difficult details, and therefore the presence in the House of Commons of the Surveyor General, who would be a professional man and able to explain them, would be of the greatest possible assistance to the Secretary of State. The Surveyor General of the Ordnance would be a military officer. The late Lord Herbert, under whom he (Lord Northbrook) had the honour of serving, than whom no Secretary for War could have more thoroughly devoted himself to the benefit of the Army and to every branch of Army administration, when examined before the Committee on Military Orga- nization, in 1860, said that if one or more of the heads of Departments had seats in the House of Commons it would be a great public advantage, especially when the Secretary of State was a civilian; for when such a Secretary spoke on military subjects Ids authority was questioned, and when he answered military questions he was told that he merely retailed the opinions of others. If he had at his side as a colleague a soldier of distinction, it would, in Lord Herbert's opinion—and he hoped that the weight of such an opinion would have much influence on their Lordships—be a great advantage, and the Committee adopted this view in their Report. The duties of the Financial Secretary would be mainly in connection with the details of the finances of the Army; and he would assist the Secretary of State in the detailed discussion of the Estimates, with the minutiæ of which the Secretary of State must almost necessarily be ignorant. He believed that it would be very advantageous if a Parliamentary officer had a larger share in the decision of questions of detail than is now the case. No one could entertain a higher opinion than he did of the ability of the permanent servants of the Crown; but in cases—such as frequently arose—where considerations of equity pointed in one direction, but strict regulation and precedent in another, the advantage was great that the decision should rest with a man who would feel that it must stand the test of discussion in Parliament. The duties of the Surveyor General and Financial Secretary would be defined by Orders in Council, which would be laid before Parliament. This, he believed, was a constitutional course, and would tend clearly to define duties. The only objections which he could anticipate to the Bill were two. The first was, that it would lessen the responsibility of the Secretary for War. Now, this might, in a modified sense, be the case, as far as it imposed a certain degree of responsibility on the officers thus created; but nobody conversant with the mass of business transacted at the War Office and Horse Guards could suppose that the Secretary of State could really be personally responsible for every transaction and detail of his Department; in the words of the old maxim—Nemo tenetur ad impossibile. In the Navy Department the First Lord was assisted—much as it was proposed that the Secretary for War should be—by Colleagues responsible for different portions of the administration, who undertook to answer for their several departments in the House of Commons; and the presence in the House of Commons of distinguished naval officers had not been found to impair the responsibility of the First Lord. On the contrary, it had been found an advantage that he should be thus assisted. So in the Home Department, the Secretary of I State was assisted in the House of Commons by the Under Secretary, to whom was entrusted certain defined duties and the task of carrying certain measures through Parliament; and this arrangement did not weaken the responsibility of his chief. The second objection which might be raised to the Bill was, that it would be difficult to find an officer with sufficient experience for the appointment of Surveyor General, who was also possessed of a seat in the House of Commons. To this he would reply that if no such officer could be found, their position would only be what it now was. The Bill made it possible, but not necessary, that the Surveyor General of Ordnance should have a seat in the House of Commons. The first consideration would be to find the proper man for the Office. If he had, or should acquire, a seat in the House, so much the better; if not, the want of it would be no impediment to his selection for the Office. In former years the Master General of the Board of Ordnance, the Surveyor General, and other officers, were eligible for seats in the House of Commons; but this did not prevent the appointment to those posts of men outside the House. Sir George Murray and Sir Hussey Vivian had held the appointment of Master General both in and out of Parliament. General Peel, General Anson, and General Fox—men highly competent to perform any duty of the kind—had sat in the House of Commons; and he saw no reason to suppose that the constituencies would object to return distinguished military, as they certainly did return naval officers. He was convinced that it would be found possible to select for the Office of Surveyor General of the Ordnance officers of the highest distinction, who should also be Members of the House of Commons. Somebody had been good enough, to describe the Bill as "a Whig job"—alleging its main object to be to create two new Offices under the Crown; but its almost unanimous adoption by the other House was sufficient to refute this assertion. Had it been designed to perpetrate a job, the obvious plan would have been to create two or three Offices tenable for life, with large salaries, to which supporters of the Government might have been appointed; whereas the Bill did not propose the creation of permanent appointments. The truth was, that an absolute necessity existed for the Bill. It was now admitted on all hands that the consolidation of Offices which was carried out after the Crimean War was pushed somewhat too far. At one time, besides the large representation of the Board of Ordnance in the House of Commons, several important portions of Army business were represented by the Secretary to the Treasury and the Home Secretary. If the Department was excessively represented in the House of Commons at that time, it certainly was inadequately represented now, when it was considered what an immense accession of duties had been thrown upon it. The East India Company's troops had been amalgamated with the Imperial Army, the Volunteer force had been created, questions exciting much attention connected with the Reserves had arisen, improvements had occurred in ordnance and fortifications, and this great increase in the labour of Army administration surely justified the present measure. He hoped that he had now sufficiently explained the purport of the Bill; and that, seeing it had received the almost unanimous assent of the other House—which it principally concerned—their Lordships would find no difficulty in reading it the second time.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Northbrook.)


said, he did not intend to offer any opposition to the second reading; but to some of the provisions of the Bill he entertained a strong objection, and he had listened with increasing disappointment to the noble Lord's explanation of the grounds on which it had been introduced. In regard to what the noble Lord had said about the imputation of jobbery that had been attached to the Bill, he (the Duke of Richmond) not only did not impute any such motive, but he wished that one of the Offices had been made permanent, even though it might have occasioned a cry that the Government were creating places for their supporters. He must also observe that the noble Lord had certainly advanced a strange argument in favour of the Bill, when he had said that the necessary ignorance of a civilian Secretary of War upon many points of military detail rendered it necessary to provide him with efficient Parliamentary assistance. Surely, the better plan would be to find a Secretary for War who was not ignorant on such points. He intended no imputation whatever upon the military accomplishments of the present Secretary of State for War; but the noble Lord had advanced the natural ignorance of civilians as a reason for this Bill. It was true, as the noble Lord had said, that the curiosity of Members of the House of Commons extended to all questions connected with the Army, as to all other subjects; but he (the Duke of Richmond) confessed that he thought it would be well if the system of cross-examining Ministers upon the details of Army management and discipline, were not pushed to quite such rigorous extremes. There could hardly, however, be a greater multiplicity of business in the War Office than in the Home Department. Was there not quite as much detail and of a varied character, connected with one Office as with the other? The evidence of the two officers of great eminence which had been cited, said that responsibility existed, but within fixed limits, and that the Secretary of State for War was responsible in one sense and not in another. He (the Duke of Richmond) did not quite understand this. He had always understood that the head of a Department was responsible to the country for everything that took place in his Department, and that no understanding or arrangements with regard to his subordinates could divest him of the responsibility which Secretaries of State had hitherto always had attached to them. The noble Lord also stated that the Army Estimates, and the details arising out of them, required that the Secretary of State for War should have assistance; but no amount of assistance would take from him the necessity of answering all those Questions which the noble Lord seemed to be of opinion he would be able to divest himself of if the proposed change took place. As to the Financial Secretary of the War Office, he could not say he was convinced of the necessity of creating such an officer with a seat in the House of Commons; but, as the Government brought forward the proposal on their, own responsibility and conviction of the expediency, he would not oppose it. The other appointment was that of a Surveyor General of the Ordnance, who was to be responsible in all matters relating to the matériel of the Army, as the Commander-in-Chief was for its discipline. But if it were advisable that the Commander-in-Chief should not be a political officer, he (the Duke of Richmond) thought it equally desirable that the Surveyor General should be in a similar position. Notwithstanding all the examples, of which the noble Lord had spoken, of distinguished officers who had seats in Parliament, the Government would, in general, in appointing the Surveyor General of the Ordnance have to look out for, not the best officers in the Army to fill the post, but to find the best men they could get who could also command a seat in Parliament. This would be a great misfortune. He thought it desirable that the proposition that the Surveyor General of the Ordnance should be eligible to sit in the House of Commons should be struck out of the Bill; and in Committee he would move that that part of the Bill be expunged. He would, not weary their Lordships with further remarks, except to say that the creation of two officers, no doubt with considerable salaries, came with bad grace from a Government which had reduced the Army and Navy to a point which he regarded as most unwise.


said, he had observed the necessity, when himself Under Secretary, of some additional Parliamentary assistance to the Secretary of State for War, who was subjected to such unmerciful questionings and interviews at the hands of his friends as to leave him little time for his multifarious duties. One of the officers to be created under this Bill with a seat in Parliament was to be charged with the efficiency of the materiél of the Army; but it was to be remembered that the presence of Ordnance officers in the House of Commons, under the old arrangement, did not prevent an army being sent to the Crimea insufficiently equipped and insufficiently supplied—the result being a temporary failure, the blame of which was unfairly cast on the Army. The War Office was only a means to an end, to raise and maintain the Army; and a re-arrangement of the War Department would not necessarily lead to the efficiency of the Army. The reductions to which the noble Lord had referred were by no means satisfactory to all concerned, for it was understood, that as the result not a single regiment of Cavalry or Infantry, and not a single battery of Artillery was in an efficient state to take the field, and no means of completing their establishments to the proper numbers were immediately available. It was supposed to be in contemplation to provide reserves with which to complete them; but these did not at present exist. The Army had suffered from frequent changes in the War Office, and it was one of the objections to this Bill that under it four principal officers, instead of two, would have to resign on a change of Ministry. The Surveyor General of the Ordnance, as having the direction of all details, certainly ought to be a permanent officer, so that successive Administrations might profit by his experience. And the changes in the head of the War Office were not made for departmental reasons only. On the accession of Lord Derby's Government a gallant officer who enjoyed the confidence of Parliament and the country was appointed Secretary for War; but in a few months he resigned, owing to a political difference with some of his Colleagues; and his successor after 14 or 15 months had to retire, not on account of any failure in the Department, but on account of the advent of a new Ministry, which felt itself strong enough to deal with the Irish Church—a question with which the Army as an army had no concern. Reductions, moreover, had been made, and long lists of officers' names now stand in the Army List printed in Italics, who were under notice to quit without "compensation for disturbance." The Army was far from satisfied with this policy, which made the soldier's position one of such uncertainty. Economists might be gratified with reduced Estimates; but if at any time a moderate military effort became necessary, it would be found that the supposed economy had been dearly purchased. He would not oppose the second reading of the Bill; but he could not regard it as a complete solution of the question of military administration.


said, he entirely agreed in the propriety of additional assistance being given to the Secretary of State for War, and he had no objection to the Financial Secretary having a seat in Parliament; but he thought very strong reasons had been shown why the Surveyor General of the Ordnance should not sit in Parliament. No doubt, six or seven officers of the Department were formerly allowed to be Members of the House of Commons, and that at a time when the Militia was under the control of the Home Office, and the Commissariat under that of the Treasury; but under the present altogether different organization there was no necessity for the representation of the several departments in Parliament. His noble Friend had not made out any case of necessity for the Surveyor General having a seat in Parliament. Having looked through the most able Report on the re-organization of the War Office, he had completely failed to discover any strong and valid reason why the Control department should be represented in Parliament. Such an arrangement was not proposed by Lord Strathnairn's Committee. They recommended that the Controller should be an officer of high rank; that he should have a salary of £2,000 a year; that he should take rank with the permanent Under Secretaries of State; and not only that he should be an officer high in military rank, but that care should be taken in the selection of such an officer to obtain one with special qualifications for an administration which now comprises not only munitions de bouche, but munitions de guerre. Consequently, it was of the highest importance that the officer appointed should be the very best man who could be had. We were fortunate now in having Sir Henry Storks; but he had already failed to obtain a seat in Parliament—so that what had been spoken of as a probable difficulty had actually occurred. He thought that the Bill would either be a dead letter, or that, in future, Governments would be much tempted to appoint some Parliamentary adherent to the office of Surveyor Ge- neral. It was more important that great care should be taken in the selection of the Surveyor General of the Ordnance than that he should have a seat in Parliament, because, contrary to the recommendation of Lord Straithnairn's Committee, we were about to place all the matériel of war under the supervision of the Surveyor; and we should necessarily impose upon him a much greater amount of labour and a greater amount of responsibility than one man could undertake. If, added to these, he was to be obliged to attend in the House of Commons at 4 o'clock, and to remain there several hours in discharge of Parliamentary duties, how could it be expected that the Department could be efficiently controlled? His noble Friend had remarked that constituencies would be always ready to return to Parliament military men of eminence, and that there would be no difficulty in finding in the House of Commons men possessed of the necessary qualifications. But had not the last Reform Bill vastly increased the amount of local influence brought to bear upon elections? Generally speaking military men were not so connected as to have local influence, and in future they would have great difficulty in getting into Parliament. The organization of the Store department which had been adopted by the War Office was in opposition to the recommendation of Lord Strathnairn's Committee, and he would be glad to know the grounds of that decision. It had been said that it had failed in Prussia; but had it failed in France, when the French army was in the Crimea? Was not the French Intendance the model on which we had mainly based the alterations of our supply and transport arrangements? Then why were not the Committee's recommendations on that head adopted? With regard to the Financial Secretary, he presumed that there would be no difficulty at any time in finding a Member of Parliament, a supporter of the Government of the day, who would be sufficiently versed in finance and political economy to undertake the duties of that Office. With regard to the financial arrangements of the War Office, he presumed no one would quarrel with the financial principles laid down in the Report. Nothing could be more objectionable than the old system of checking and mistrusting everybody in the War Department; nothing could be more objectionable than heads of Departments giving to the Secretary of State Estimates which they knew would be cut down by one-half; and nothing was more desirable than that the Secretary of State should have clear ideas of financial policy ab initio, to use the term adopted in the Report; for hitherto the rule had been for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to determine upon a reduction of the Army Estimates, and for a merciless cutting down of officers and men, for the simple reason that this course was the easiest; it being well understood that for every man knocked off £100 was saved. His noble Friend said the late reduction was the consequence of the clear financial policy of the Secretary of State; he (Viscount Hardinge) supposed that this referred to the withdrawal of troops from the Colonies; and although that might be the financial policy of the Government, that was a policy which had been much questioned, and the simple fact remained that during the last two years we had reduced our Army by 24,000 men. As had been stated, we had no reserves to fall back upon, and, consequently, if we drifted into war we should be exposed to the same inconveniences we were at the time of the Crimean War, and should have the same difficulty in filling up our reserves. He hoped the new arrangements would work satisfactorily, and promote harmonious and united action in the War Department; for nothing could be more prejudicial than a constant succession of Committees passing recommendations which conflicted with each other. He did not object to the financial department being represented in the House of Commons, but he ventured to make a protest against the Surveyor General having a seat in Parliament.


said, he would venture to express an opinion upon this question based upon his long experience at the Admiralty. The First Lord of the Admiralty was as responsible to Parliament and the country as a Secretary of State for all that was done by the officers under his control. It was his duty to inform himself so as to answer any Questions which might be put to him as to the conduct of the naval Department and naval service; but at the same time it was exceedingly useful that the First Lord of the Admiralty should have in Parliament the assistance of pro- fessional Colleagues. For four of the years that he was at the Admiralty as First Lord, Sir Maurice Berkeley, who was Senior Sea Lord, was in Parliament, and relieved him considerably in the duty of answering the Questions that were put; but the last year he was at the Admiralty, in the absence of Sir Maurice Berkeley, he experienced more or less difficulty in answering Questions which were sometimes put without Notice, and on which he had not the opportunity of informing himself from his ignorance of professional details. Nor could the opinion of a civilian, however well informed, have the same weight as that of an experienced officer. He quite agreed with the noble Lord (Lord North-brook) that it would be much better that many Questions which were asked should not be put; but as they were asked, they must be answered, or there would be an end to all Parliamentary government. The same remarks would hold good of the Secretary of State for War, who was responsible for many details, and had to answer many Questions concerning them; and, however well qualified he might be to administer the Department, it was impossible he could be fully acquainted with all the details as to the military service which were raised in Parliamentary debate, but to which professional Colleagues would be able to speak promptly and satisfactorily. It was true, the best man to be found in either profession had not always a seat in Parliament; but this was one of the inevitable incidents of Parliamentary government. It was, however, for the benefit of the services that they should be professionally represented—the one by a soldier, and the other by a sailor, as regarded the business in the House; and he must say also that the knowledge acquired by the professional Member of the naval or military Department thus necessarily present in the House of Commons would assist the Government in framing measures of improvement that would be much more likely to give satisfaction than they would be if devised in ignorance of such opinions.


My Lords, it is not my intention to oppose the second reading of this Bill; but I cannot refrain from saying that in my opinion the Bill will not accomplish the reform that is required. I have been for many years impressed with the necessity of an ade- quate reform; and before the Crimean War I called your Lordships' attention to what I considered would be the necessary consequence of the bad system then existing. In a very short time my predictions were far more than realized. Unfortunately an attempt was made to remedy the evil which appeared to me then, and which appears to me still more now, to be so ill-considered and so imperfect that it would scarcely diminish, even if it did not in some respects aggravate, the evil. I expressed this opinion of the measure at the time, and the result has verified it. It is impossible for anybody to consider the actual working of the War Department without seeing that it justifies the description attributed by a noble Friend behind me to a very high authority—that it is a chaos. The more you consider it, the more convinced you must be that the measure was founded on no clear and distinct principle. You have not attempted to create a Department for the management of your Army upon any one given system. The original mistake, as I think, was in determining to create another Secretary of State. In my opinion, there was no occasion to do that. And the effect of creating a Secretary of State for War, while the Navy is under an entirely different system, is to create an extreme anomaly. Let me remind your Lordships what is required from the Departments which are charged with the management both of the Army and Navy. Their duty is so to administer each Department, and so to expend the money granted by Parliament for maintaining the Army and the Navy, that there may always be an efficient naval or military force, to be applied to such purposes as the Government may from time to time require. Before the creation of a Secretary of State for War the different Secretaries of State, representing their several Departments, signified the Queen's pleasure to the naval or military authorities for such and such services. Formerly, if there were disturbances in the manufacturing districts the Secretary of State for the Home Department used to signify the pleasure of the Crown to the military authorities to send troops to the spot or take any measure which might be thought proper for meeting these disturbances. Again, if disturbances occurred in a seaport, owing to discontent among the Mercantile Marine, the Secretary of State signified to the authorities at the Admiralty the Queen's pleasure that a ship of war should be sent down to the port in question. But since you have created a new Secretary of State the system is entirely altered, and you have this great anomaly—that now the Secretaries of State still continue to signify the pleasure of the Crown to the Admiralty with reference to the employment of the naval force, but with respect to the Army, there being another Secretary of State, this cannot be done, for one Secretary of State cannot signify the pleasure of the Crown to another Secretary of State. There is this further inconvenience in the system you have introduced—that while making a sweeping change in the administration of the Army you have not effected that which is at the bottom of all real improvement—such an alteration in the relations between the civil and military persons at the head of the Army as to create the same concentration of authority which exists in the Navy. You have not provided that there shall be a Minister with complete power over the Army as over the Navy, and at the same time with that professional advice and assistance which he ought to be able to command. But I am not going to take this opportunity of discussing the difficult question of what should be the constitution of the Army Department. My only object in rising was to say that, while I am not prepared to make any objection to this Bill, I must lament that Her Majesty's Government have not gone more deeply into the question; that they have not endeavoured to put an end to the chaos which I firmly believe still exists, and will continue to exist until the subject is looked at in a larger way; and that we have a measure brought before us so insignificant in its effects as this is likely to be. I will only add that I shall be very glad if my noble Friend who has charge of this Bill will explain one point which seems to me somewhat difficult to understand. If your Lordships will refer to the Bill, you will see that by Sections 2 and 3 the Secretary of State is empowered to appoint two Parliamentary officers, one the Surveyor General of the Ordnance, and the other the Financial Secretary of the War Office. But there is this remarkable difference between the two officers—by the manner in which the Act is drawn, the Surveyor General vacates his seat on appointment, and must go to his constituents for re-election, but the Financial Secretary does not. Why is this? I want an explanation. Surely it is remarkable that of these officers, being officers of the same description and appointed by the same authority—the Secretary of State—one, if he accepts an appointment under the Crown, not being already in Office, vacates his seat, while the other is to sit on just as though he had not received any appointment. I can easily guess how this has arisen. It has arisen because an anomaly exists at present. By mere accident, owing to a technical construction of the law, ever since an Act passed soon after the Revolution, which regulated the number of persons holding certain offices who could sit in the House of Commons, it has been held that those officials who were not appointed directly by the Crown, but by some other authothority, need not be re-elected on appointment. Therefore the Under Secretaries of State and the Secretaries to the Treasury and the Admiralty have never vacated their seats; but, on the other hand, because technically and formally they were appointed by the Crown and not by the heads of the Departments in which they served, the Junior Lords of the Admiralty and Treasury, though holding offices inferior to the others in importance, do vacate their seats upon appointment. That was an anomaly which arose quite accidentally, and which I was very anxious you should correct at the time of the passing of the last Reform Bill, and I moved with that view an Amendment which your Lordships did not think fit to adopt. Now, I quite understand that your Lordships might think it expedient to continue an anomaly already existing; for you might say—"It has been always so, and we will not disturb the arrangement by which an Under Secretary of State does not vacate his seat, while a Junior Lord of the Treasury must do so." But why are you not content with leaving an existing anomaly, and why do you create a new one? In this case both the officers are appointed in the same manner and by the same person—namely, the Secretary of State; and that one should vacate his seat in the House of Commons on taking Office, while the other does not, seems a most irrational arrangement.


, in reply, said, he regretted that the noble Earl who had just sat down was not satisfied with the provisions of the Bill, because the opinions of the noble Earl were entitled to great weight, not only from the Offices he had held, but from the great attention he had paid to all questions of Army administration. He was somewhat surprised also, seeing that, excepting as to the person who was to take the Queen's pleasure and convey it to the Executive in certain cases, the Bill carried out very much the opinions expressed by the noble Earl himself, in 1860, before the Committee on Army Organization. The noble Earl then recommended a very similar plan to that contained in the Bill—namely, that there should be one responsible Minister, and that under Mm there should be several high officers, responsible to him for the different branches of administration, some of them, at any rate, being Members of Parliament. As to taking the Queen's pleasure, the illustrious Duke on the cross Benches would confirm him in the statement that there was no difficulty in that respect under the present system. With regard to the question whether the Surveyor General should vacate his seat on appointment, there was a great deal to be said upon the anomaly which had been pointed, out; but in framing this Bill the precedents had been strictly followed, for the Surveyor Generalship of the Ordnance was an office under the Crown, the acceptance of which vacated the seat, and, if there was an anomaly, it extended, not only to these two officers, but to others. As to the remarks of the noble Lords who had preceded him in Office, he thanked them for the general concurrence they had expressed in the measures proposed by the Bill. They knew by experience how difficult it was to deal satisfactorily with the subject, and he had no doubt they would make allowance for any imperfections which might be found in the plan proposed. With respect to the observations which had been made by the noble Earl (the Earl of Longford) and the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Hardinge), as to the general policy of the Government, in reference to Army administration—that was to say, to the reduction in the number of troops in the Colonies and in the cadres of the regiments—it would perhaps be more convenient that he should not enter into an explanation of that policy on the present occasion, beyond observing that he entirely demurred from the description which had been given by the noble Earl (the Earl of Longford) of the strength of our Army. The Army in England, on the contrary, was now stronger than it had been for a series of years, and he would be prepared, on another occasion, if the noble Earl chose to raise a discussion on the question, to give the fullest explanations in his power as to the steps which had been taken by the Secretary of State with regard to the constitution of a Reserve force and other matters connected with the organization of the Army since the accession to Office of the present Government. There was, he might say, another remark which fell from the noble Earl, to which he wished to advert. It related to a point in which the noble Earl, notwithstanding all his knowledge of military affairs, was in error. He said that, on looking through the Army List, he observed the names of certain officers in Italics, whose services, he thought, were to be dispensed with without any compensation. Now that was entirely a mistake. So far from dispensing with the services of any officers, owing to the proposals received from India, the Government had taken care to place no officer on half-pay, notwithstanding the reductions which they had in consequence deemed it to be their duty to make. Instead of being a proof of harshness on the part of the Secretary of State, therefore, in dealing with the officers of the Army in effecting the reductions which he was compelled to carry out, the very point referred to by the noble Earl tended to show that the interests of those who had already entered Her Majesty's service have received at the hands of the Secretary of State for War the fullest consideration. He might add, in reply to the observations which had been made by the noble Viscount (Viscount Hardinge), that the recommendation of Lord Strathnairn's Committee, with respect to the division of the branches connected with Supply and Ordnance Stores had been to a great extent carried out. The matter was rather one of a technical character, but he could assure the noble Viscount that the Government were alive to the great advantage of employing an officer specially qualified to manage the business relating to Ordnance stores. As to the remarks which had been made by the noble Viscount, and also by the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Richmond), objecting to the proposal that the Surveyor General of Ordnance should be able to sit in Parliament, he hoped the noble Duke would not act upon the suggestion which he had made and move the omission of the clause. Surely there was little force in the argument that because a man, fitted for the performance of the duties of that Office, might not always be found in the House of Commons, the services of such a man with a seat in that House were never to be secured? The duty of the Secretary of State was to select the best man for the discharge of those duties, and if he was a Member of the House of Commons so much the better. The Secretary of State would, in that event, have the advantage of his assistance in giving explanations with respect to the administration of a Department with which he had a practical acquaintance; and the noble Viscount was one of the last persons who ought to object to such an arrangement, for if his view had been formerly acted upon such a man as his illustrious father, Sir Henry Hardinge, would have been excluded from holding that Office, the duties of which he had for so many years performed in the House of Commons with so much advantage to the country. What was required was more military experience and assistance in that House in connection with the War Department, and he hoped the noble Duke would, yield to the opinion of one of his own Colleagues, Sir John Pakington, who had been Secretary of State for War and supported the Bill on that ground, as well as to the views of the late Lord Herbert, than whom no man was better qualified to form a sound judgment on the question. The noble Duke opposite, he might add, had asked him whether the business of the Home Office was not as great, as far as details were concerned, as that of the War Department. Now, he had had the honour of serving in both those Departments, and he had no hesitation in saying that there was no comparison as to matters of detail between the business in both. The Home Office business was of a cha- racter which was well understood by many country gentlemen, and which could be easily mastered by men who had received a legal education. Army details, on the contrary, extended over a mass of technical matter of great complication and difficulty, with which it was not easy to become thoroughly conversant. As to the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the answers which might be given to Questions by the sub-ordinate officers appointed under the Bill, he would merely remark that the Secretary of State would be responsible as now for the business of his Department, just as the Chancellor of the Exchequer was for the business of his Department, although the Secretary of the Treasury was the exponent of a great amount of that business. He would observe, in conclusion, that the Bill, if passed, would entail no additional expenditure on the public; and in reply to the observation that while the Army was reduced the War Office would remain the same, he had to state that his right hon. Friend at the head of the Department hoped to lay before long on the Table of the other House an Estimate of the cost of the War administration of the coming year, which would show a reduction which he believed would be satisfactory to the public, who wore anxiously looking for some diminution of expenditure in the establishment of that Department.


said, his noble Friend had misunderstood him. He had not said that the services of the officers to whose case he had referred would be dispensed with without consideration. What he had stated was that they were under "notice to quit," and although persons under notice to quit were not always turned out, they were liable to be turned out.


replied, that that was not the case.


expressed his surprise at the statement of the noble Lord that our Army was never stronger than at the present moment. The reduction of several hundred of the subaltern officers of regiments was in itself a great injury to the efficiency of the Army. A want of sufficient subalterns to supply, on the spot, the casualties of the field, would one day be found a serious difficulty. It had been found so during the late war, at the close of which troops and com- panies were frequently commanded by cornets and ensigns. Another very unfortunate result of the reduction was that a whole generation of young gentlemen were now debarred from entering the Army. Only the other day he met a friend of his who said—"My son was brought up in the expectation that the ordinary number of young officers would be added to the Army at the usual time, but there is a dead-lock, and a considerable number of young gentlemen who have been brought up carefully and at great expense by their parents or guardians with a view to their entering the service are entirely cut off from it and obliged to look out for some other occupation." He thought this was a very important and serious matter, and could by no means receive his noble Friend's declaration, that the recent reductions had left the Army unimpaired in strength and efficiency.

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