HL Deb 14 August 1871 vol 208 cc1549-64

moved, that the following paragaphs of Her Hajesty's most gracious Speech be read:— The lessons of military experience afforded by the present war have been numerous and important. The time appears appropriate for turning such lessons to account by efforts more decisive than heretofore at practical improvement. Agreed to; and the said paragraphs accordingly read by the clerk.


then moved— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her to appoint a Commission to inquire into the causes which have prevented the contemplated assembly of troops for exercise in Berkshire; and further to lay before Her Majesty such changes as appear calculated to guard against similar results; and to raise the regular and reserved forces of the Crown to that standard of efficiency which the lessons of the late war suggest, and which the gracious speech from the Throne has recommended. The noble Lord said:—Having preserved an unbroken silence since in May last I called the attention of the House to the proceedings of the Conference on the Black Sea, I may gain some credit in remarking that no motive less cogent than a sense of public duty would induce me now to trespass on your Lordships. At this time, according to fixed laws which cannot be escaped, political stagnation is inevitable. Everyone shares, and no one can desire to encounter it. At least, nothing would induce me to attend this House to-night but the conviction that a certain line ought to be taken in the autumn which has not any chance of being pursued, unless it is urged in Parliament, before the Session closes. The noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for War (Lord Northbrook) may be relieved to learn that, in advocating the Commission I propose, it is not my intention to dilate on what has taken place in reference to the manœuvres of the autumn. He has heard enough already on that subject. It has been well explained by a noble Lord (Lord Overstone) in this House, and by an hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Anson)—if the public journals may be relied on—in the other. I might corroborate their view by a letter which I have here from a distinguished officer about it; but I shall pass as quickly as I can to what is more important. The true conclusion seems to be, that while the first plan would have afforded some experience in strategy, the second will involve none beyond the range of tactics. The pretexts given for the change are most unsatisfactory. They led to an animated controversy between the noble Lord (Lord Overstone) and the noble Lord the Under Secretary for War (Lord Northbrook), as to facts in which the Under Secretary challenged the noble Lord with much warmth to prove his allegations. But without the first part of the inquiry I propose, the challenge cannot be accepted. So far the noble Lord the Under Secretary has called himself for the inquiry, and it is scarcely necessary to defend it. But if a Commission ascertains causes of what is termed the breakdown in Berkshire, the public who feel acutely on that matter would be little satisfied unless means were pointed out to guard against a similar occurrence. And you can hardly go so far as that without touching on the wider field of the general arrangements which are necessary to reach the degree of strength exacted by the history of the war, and recommended by the language of Her Majesty. Since, however, my noble Friend the Under Secretary may not agree in this connection, or may think that everything has been done which ought to be, I shall take the very shortest method to convince the House that the latter part of the inquiry is essential. It will only be requisite to glance at the design the country formed a year ago and to advert to the condition of this moment.

My Lords, it is requisite to glance at what took place a year ago. A remarkable succession of vicissitudes and passions has, unfortunately, hidden it. Until the beginning of the war—effaced by all the party struggles which have followed—is vividly recalled and steadily retained under the judgment, we cannot see whether its lessons have been executed, or, on the contrary, neglected. No sooner had the war begun than it was felt that Belgium was endangered. The engagement to defend it was as clear as the means of acting on it were invisible. Society was hurried and distracted. Recruiting Serjeants, who had not been seen for years, were prowling about Westminster. Worlds would have been given to recover the 20,000 men who had been recently disbanded. Some proposed that the camp at Aldershot should be transferred to Brussels. With each of the belligerents a hurried treaty was negotiated. The universal vow was, that if the moment of despondency passed over, Great Britain should never be again so unprepared for defence at home or action on the Continent. As the war advanced, the resolution of the country became firmer and more serious. The hardships and the horrors of invasion, together with the idle hope of withstanding it by troops of little discipline—raw levies—were brought home to our people in a manner in which they had not formerly been realized. Lord Elcho, with a public spirit which rose superior to grief, and other qualified advisers, offered practical conclusions, which were listened to. In the middle of the autumn the Treaty of 1856 was menaced at St. Petersburg, and it was soon apparent that the Government were wholly powerless to vindicate it. The country called out for new resources against indignity and danger. The revival of compulsion for the Militia by some was favourably viewed, by some was eagerly demanded. That we should have 100,000 men at our disposal for any service which required them seemed to be the lowest aspiration of those who did not aim at meddling policy abroad, but who resolved that Great Britain should not again be thrown into the phase of self-reproaching fear and conscious weakness she had gone through. The current of opinion I refer to, after sweeping periodicals and public men into its vortex, mounted to the Throne, and framed a language in accordance with its dictates. Without another word upon that subject, I pass to the condition of the moment. Is it that which, in so many channels, and by so many forms of utterance, the country was demanding? To ascertain it, we must look numerically to the efficient forces which exist. A military man who served at the Horse Guards, and afterwards at Aldershot, enabled me to do so. According to the calculation he arrived at by a study of the Estimates, the rank and file in England of all arms is 75,761. If it were required to place this force in line before an enemy one-third would have to be deducted, because our numbers are founded upon rations, and not on bayonets and sabres. The force available for fighting might be 50,500. Admitting for a moment that this force sufficed to meet whatever was opposed to it—a rather bold hypothesis—admitting that if driven back the Militia and the Volunteers would be equal to replacing them—a hope which is not prevalent with judges of efficiency—what contingent would be left for any foreign service which required it? It has been shown, to say the least, that there is no facility for moving 30,000 men a distance of 40 miles. The notorious deficiencies of the Volunteer force are utterly unremedied. The competition of the Line and the Militia for recruits is left in active operation. But, then, my noble Friend the Under Secretary may say that purchase is abolished, and thus a fund of military strength been opened in the country. My Lords, that now familiar dogma originated wholly with the War Office. No Commission has suggested, few soldiers have adopted it. It depends upon the iteration which the Secretary of State for War and my noble Friend have prodigally given it. It has never yet been shown that a man, a horse, a gun will be called into exertion by a measure which absorbs the price of many batteries and regiments. I will not touch upon old ground; but one consideration not yet referred to in debate appears to me to be at least a bar to the reception of this dogma. With educated and impartial minds it might suffice to overturn it. At the end of the war before the Peace of Amiens, and the beginning of the war after it, the minds of the first men—Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Windham—were concentrated upon national defence; not by rumours and ideas, or wars in which Great Britain was a neutral, but by the sight of an embodied Army, 20 miles from our coast, preparing to descend upon it. Harmonious junction of the forces—for Regulars, Militia, and Volunteers at that time co-existed—was an object and an idol. Governments were overthrown; Leaders were compared; the strength of parties was determined upon questions of this character. To give a great co-operating power to the forces was ten times more important then than it is now. If the removal of the purchase system was the secret of then effecting it, would it have escaped the men whom I refer to? Their country trembled for existence; their fame depended on preserving it. When, in 1804, Mr. Pitt, on his return to power, brought forward the Additional Defence Bill, prepared with all the military knowledge which the age could furnish, it never once occurred to him that an avenue of strength would open if only purchase was removed. It would have been easy to abolish it. Compensation would not have been stinted. When, in 1805, Mr. Sheridan, with all the Opposition of the day, moved for a repeal of that Act, he never once suggested the alternative to which such magic power is imputed at this moment. When, after the death of Mr. Pitt, a greater master of the subject, Mr. Windham, as the organ of a Government, introduced a scheme and lashed the errors of his predecessors with a masterly analysis, he never thought of indicating purchase as their stumbling block, or urging its removal as the mine of strength which had not been explored. If genius watching day and night upon these topics, impelled by rivalry and kindled by emergency, could never see a practical expedient of defence in such a measure, one of two things is clear, that the War Office has been deceived — of course they cannot be deceivers—or that the statesmen of that time were signally and utterly incapable. My Lords, the shortest mode of ascertaining what is really felt as to the condition of the moment would be found in glancing at this question. If we were suddenly transported to the circumstances of last year—if Belgium was an object of solicitude, if Europe teemed with elements of conflict, if masses were arrayed with nothing but the Rhine to separate them, if fleets equipped for war were visible from Dover — should we enjoy the firmness and tranquillity which then were lamentably wanting? Should we not observe every feature of the time which I endeavoured to recall to the impression of your Lordships? The country has not reached that object of which the Royal Speech acknowledged the necessity. Some new agency is requisite. We are not justified in leaning with blind credulity on one of which the operation has been seen to be entirely inadequate. What are you to do? Can you supersede the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury? We have not reached the age of perpetual dictators, but we have come to that of irremoveable Prime Ministers. Are you to have another Secretary of State for War, abounding in the military knowledge in which the estimable holder of the office has frequently proclaimed his deficiency? But if the First Lord of the Treasury desires little to be done, he cannot be expected to renounce a practised instrument of doing it. Inquiry by Commission, with the germ of action it contains, has thus become the only refuge of the county.

My Lords, the precedent of 1860 would go far to vindicate the wisdom and propriety of acting in this manner. Lord Palmerston may be considered as its author. I merely ask the House to urge upon the Government the course which, after the War of 1859, Lord Palmerston initiated. A Commission on National Defence was issued at that period. It has created various improvements; their scope would have been wider, had not its attention been directed chiefly to the point of fortifying arsenals. The great lesson the Commission aimed at teaching was that Great Britain ought not in any manner to rely upon its naval power for security. But it is more important to remark that the War of 1859 was not so good a reason for an inquiry of this character as the war which has so lately agitated Europe. The War of 1859 did something to assuage in France the wish for military enterprize. It left Austria more disposed to common action with this country than she had been. It added to the fame and largely widened the dominions of a Sovereign whose arms had nobly sustained our own in the Crimea. The war which has just finished leaves behind an overwhelming Power, by which Holland may at any moment be endangered. It has re-kindled at St. Petersburg fires which seemed to have burnt out. It has deprived France of valuable provinces, for which Belgian territory seems to be the only compensation. But when the Commission of 1860 was sent out, it had not been proved by the hard-bought experience of unfortunate divisions, intricate debates, of clauses buried, of Prerogative exhumed, that the Executive was demonstrably wanting in the power it might furnish. Two objections only can be started. One is a miserable fallacy occasionally uttered by official men, when an inquiry is deprecated; but which I do not think the noble Lord the Under Secretary will resort to. It is that a Commission supersedes the functions of a Government; as if a Commission had any power beyond that of recommending, as if it could destroy free agency in those who have appointed it. Were such a view admissible, it is clear that legislation ought never to be preceded by inquiry and evidence at the hands of such a body. And yet, if any great truth in our domestic history since 1832 is brought home to the observer, it is that the happiest examples of legislation have been founded on this basis, while the most unfortunate have wanted it. But that it is necessary to spare the patience of the House it would be easy to illustrate that position. As light and darkness differ in themselves, they naturally differ in their offspring. But if other Governments at former times have been too servile to Commissions, the present Government in this very year have had the spirit to defy them. The Commission of 1857 distinctly recommended purchase beneath the rank of a lieutenant colonel as an essential institution to facilitate retirement. The Government have put an end to it without an Act of Parliament. If they know how to trample by a Royal Warrant on the judgment of Commissioners, a superstitious veneration of such oracles is not the error they incline to. But what is the advantage some may urge of a Commission, if it does not bind the Government with certainty? It is that in the very probable event of sound and economical conclusions being arrived at, they cannot be eventually resisted. From the action of a free Press, from the shock of many minds against each other, from the intercourse of clubs, of railways, and of market places, in this country, truth, when once attained, is a perpetual inheritance. Some Government is certain to adopt it. Over the surge of faction, and through the quagmire of Departments, it knows how to force its way into majorities and laws. Besides that, the public mind has been distracted upon military subjects, and will seize with gratitude whatever lessons have the double force of reason and authority. The people out-of-doors are unable to decide between Lord Elcho, General Russell, Sir Lintorn Simmons, and Lord Sandhurst. Let anyone imagine for a moment that a Commission had sat during the last autumn to concentrate the minds which neutralized and darkened one another. In that case would all the labour of establishing security and of increasing power still remain to be accomplished?

My Lords, the only set of men who fairly might object to this proposal are the reasoners who, differing from the Report of 1860, have perfect confidence in the protection given by the naval power of the country, and who refuse to go along with the desire which characterized the autumn of last year. Admitting they are not in error about the naval power, they overlook this great consideration. Military weakness and diplomatic strength can scarcely be united. Since 1859, the Foreign Office would not be generally viewed as more deficient in capacity than at any other times, excepting those of Mr. Canning and Lord Palmerston. But nearly every international transaction has had a certain stamp which cannot be considered that of dignity upon it. We were not able to fulfil our obligations towards Portugal when hostile ships were seen moving on the Tagus. Schleswig was torn away from Denmark in spite of guarantees which could not be disputed. The efforts of the country on the Polish question were illusory. Within the present year the great result of the Crimean War has disappeared, and public law itself been flung into the holocaust of Washington. If there is no degeneracy in the Foreign Office, how can such a tendency arise? It may arise from the consciousness of a want too obvious to define, but which imparts a tremor to the arm of those who guide negotiations. No doubt that tremor is well founded. That it may cease to be so; that it may not continue to exist; that it may be exchanged for the tenacity and coolness which lead at once to the advantage of the world and to the honour of Great Britain, further action is required to improve our military system. It is not, however, on this ground alone that I submit the Motion to your Lordships.


thought the noble Lord (Lord Campbell) had drawn largely on his imagination to find reasons for the Motion he had submitted to the House. He would not follow him over the wide range of topics he had brought forward, but would content himself with pointing out that the inquiry which he wished to refer to a Commission was the duty of the War Department. As to the Motion itself—manœuvres on a smaller scale had been substituted for those originally designed, because the War Office could not secure sufficient control of local transport resources, except at a cost out of all proportion to the object in view. Much time and trouble would certainly have been saved had this fact been discovered before the manœuvres were announced; but the Opposition would then have lost an opportunity of attacking the Government. He believed the accommodation furnished by the Control department would be much more luxurious than was desirable, and that great advantage would accrue from the troops being inured to the rough experiences of actual warfare by being sent into the field without tents and with several days' provisions in their knapsacks. Under these circumstances he could not but think the Government had acted wisely in modifying their plans and trying the experiment upon a smaller scale. The popularity which it was desirable that the manœuvres should acquire among all classes would have been endangered by any violent measures for getting transports and supplies, and the modified scheme would test the efficiency of the various Departments as well as to give the troops valuable training.


regretted the opposition and difficulty which had been offered to the Government in grappling with the question of military organization, and thought they deserved great credit for originating manœuvres in the field, which he hoped would become an annual affair. The modification of the original scheme was unfortunate, though he did not attribute it to inefficiency of the Control department, and he deplored the resolution to break up the force into three bodies instead of two. The manœuvres would, however, give valuable instruction, not only to the men, but to the general officers, who, owing to inexperience and to the smallness of our Army, fell into mistakes on field-days which would be disastrous in real warfare. He had himself, as a Volunteer, observed such mistakes, and officers of distinction had commented upon them. The Volunteer public, he feared, did not fully appreciate the consequences of these campaigns. It was absurd to suppose that men of the position and habits of our Volunteers could endure such hardships as were suffered by the Germans—such a sudden transition from a life of luxury to the privations and exposure of a campaign—without loss of life. If a return of the number of deaths accruing from exposure on wet days were produced, it would excite no little surprise. He had lost three or four men in his battalion, and, of course, inferred that other battalions had suffered in the same proportion. It was necessary, therefore, that the Government should show much consideration for the Volunteers with regard to the season and to equipment. As to the proposed Commission, the responsibility of preparing measures obviously rested with the War Office, and it was not for Commissioners to point out to Mr. Cardwell what his duty was.


said, that as a Question had been already asked and answered with reference to the abandonment of the originally-proposed plan of a camp of manœuvres in Berkshire, and as public opinion had been strongly expressed upon the subject, it appeared to him that the time was gone by when a Commission could do any good, or when the public service or the Army would benefit in any way by the appointment of one; therefore he hoped the noble Lord (Lord Campbell) would withdraw the Motion he had proposed. At the same time, he could not help remarking that the debates which had taken place in both Houses had proved conclusively to him that it was impossible they could move 30,000 men in the present condition of their transport service; and, further, that the country was determined they should have a Control department that should be able in the future to move at least that number of men. He also thought what had transpired had put those connected with the War Office on their mettle to give as good reviews as possible with the number of men for which transport could be found. All that they knew now ought to have been found out four months ago; and when the War Office had determined to have manœuvres on a large scale they ought to have bought up every horse they could. They knew that the French had bought a great number of horses in this country, and if they had secured them instead they would have been in the country, ready for any emergency. It was not a proper view to take of the matter to say that the horses would have eaten their heads off, because after the manœuvres they might have been sold for as much as had been given for them, or, at all events, for a trifle less. From the Return which he had moved for it appeared that there were about 800 horses in the possession of the Transport department on the 1st of April, 1871; that 68 had been purchased since, and that none had been hired. When it was perfectly well known that 3,000 horses would be required for the transport of 30,000 men, many more than 68 ought to have been purchased; and it would have been better if the Secretary of State, instead of taking upon himself the responsibility for every detail, had announced to the Horse Guards that he intended to have these large manœuvres, and had desired them to make all needful preparations—of course limiting their expenditure to, say, £100,000, which would have been well bestowed on such valuable manœuvres as those which had been abandoned. Of course, a constitutional check must be kept upon the Horse Guards; but it appeared to him that they paid too heavily for Parliamentary control, and that very often what was meant for economy proved, as on this occasion, to be great extravagance. He would point out that it was not in the military, but in the non-combative, administrative, and civil branches of the Army that failures occurred which gave rise to fears and apprehensions. No one could complain of the military conduct of the officers and soldiers of the British Army, and on that fact might be founded a claim that the management of its affairs should be as much as possible in military hands, and should not be transferred to civilians. He was sorry to say there was a strong feeling among the men in the Army that they were being made into a Parliamentary Army; that they were to be commanded more than they had been by civilians, and they disliked this idea extremely. He implored those who were at the head of affairs to take care that they did not, by their management of the Army, convert a very high-spirited and chivalrous set of officers and old soldiers into a set of dissatisfied grumblers. The Army was one that was well worthy of being preserved. Under the old system there was no doubt that honour and glory always followed their steps. Let them, then, retain the old system as much as they could. How was it possible that a civilian should understand the management of the Army? However able and intelligent a Secretary of State might be, it was impossible, with all the business there was to transact in the House of Commons, that he could personally give his attention to military matters in the way he ought to do if he were to be responsible for their control. It was all very well when the two noble Lords (Earl Grey and Earl of Dalhousie) were Secretaries for War during a long period, and they had proved how fit they were for that office by the admirable speeches they had made on the subject in a late debate; but neither of them would ever have thought for a moment of overriding or ignoring the Commander-in-Chief in the way it was sometimes done now-a-days. He hoped he should live to see the day when military men would be at the head of the War Office, and when they would be there permanently, instead of being changed with Governments. That the Army would gain enormously was proved by what was done when General Peel and the Earl of Longford were in office. It was admitted that the abolition of purchase had been obtained by striking a heavy blow at the British Constitution; let them take care that by the management of their Army they did not strike an equally dangerous blow at the constitution of that very Army. It might not always be possible to get a military man; but he trusted that all future Governments would do their best to appoint a military man as Secretary of State for War. In conclusion, he hoped the Motion would be withdrawn.


said, it was evident the Motion would not receive that amount of support which would justify the noble Lord (Lord Campbell) in pressing it. As to the argument that the abolition of purchase was not proposed by responsible Ministers during the wars of Napoleon, it was notorious that purchase ceased in war, and that it was during peace that it had assumed such enormous proportions that it was supposed by the Government to be an obstacle to all re-organization. With respect to the modification of the plan for the approaching manœuvres, he thought the present plan was superior to its predecessor in the advantages it presented; it would be more in accordance with the Prussian manœuvres that a considerable time should be spent by the troops in outpost and other duty, in which our Reserve forces could not have had much practice, and which it was essential they should learn before they could, with advantage to themselves, take part in extended movements. It was quite a mistake to say that a plan of manœuvres to test strategy had been changed to a plan of manœuvres to test tactics, and that a plan of manœuvres to test transport had been changed to one that would not. The plan of manœuvres to be carried out would, in the first place, be designed, like the Prussian manœuvres, to test strategy; and, in the second place, they would be so carried out as to test transport. In reply to another observation, he had no hesitation in saying that if it were necessary to move 30,000 men, arrangements to do that could be made in a very short time. The question that had to be decided was whether the plan originally proposed could be carried out with adequate advantage; but he would not revive the discussion, as he was sure their Lordships had had enough of it. The fact that the Transport department had hired no horses for its ordinary work was in its favour, showing that the establishment was sufficient for the purposes of peace. The arguments of the noble Lord in favour of the appointment of a Commission were somewhat contradictory to those in which he urged action, for the appointment of such a Commission as the noble Lord suggested would stop the administrative changes which it was his complaint were not carried out, and would remit to the consideration of the Commission every suggestion that was under consideration for the re-organization of the Army and of the Reserve forces. The gallant Officer described by the noble Lord as having given him certain information must have been Sir James Scarlett. He (Lord Northbrook) would be glad to pay attention to anything so distinguished an officer might write; but, of course, he could not discuss with the noble Lord intricate calculations as to the actual strength of their forces without having the figures before him. If, however, the noble Lord meant that for the defence of the country they were able to put only 50,000 troops into the field, of course he had been misinformed, for that number dearly excluded the Reserve forces, which would be utilized for its defence—or, if not, the sooner they were got rid of the better. He (Lord Northbrook) believed that nothing written by Sir James Scarlett could have been intended to lead to such a conclusion. Reference had been made to letters written by Lord Elcho in the autumn. No one could appreciate more than he did the public spirit which Lord Elcho had shown in writing on Army affairs; but he could seldom agree in the noble Lord's conclusions and opinions. He disagreed especially with the idea that compulsory service in the Militia would be the panacea for every difficulty with respect to military organization; and it was to be observed that the proposal had not found anyone in either House of Parliament to bring it forward for serious discussion. The noble Lord spoke of a "disastrous competition" between the recruiting for the Line and for the Militia; but, as a matter of fact, the Militia formed a medium through which they obtained a great many of the best recruits for the Regular Army. The last Return he had seen showed that 5,000 recruits had entered the Line from the Militia during the last six or seven months. One of the main objects of instituting a closer connection between the Army and the Militia was to draw to a considerable extent recruits from the Militia regiments to the Line regiments with which they would be associated, and so far from considering the association "disastrous," he was of opinion that it was one of the most valuable parts of the scheme of the Government. The noble Lord had been pleased to call the Secretary of State for War "a practised instrument in doing nothing." He had no hesitation in saying that since the Secretary of State had been in office more important and greater reforms had been introduced into the Army than had been previously effected within the recollection of any man at present engaged in politics. The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hertford) wished to go back to the old system. Probably the noble Marquess had overlooked the statement so frankly made in that House by the illustrious Duke the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, that there was little ground for satisfaction in the state of the organization of the Army. The Secretary of State had entirely reorganized the office for the administration of the Army, and brought the number of officers in the Army more into proportion with those of the great Armies of Europe. His right hon. Friend had introduced the system of short service, by which also they could obtain an efficient Reserve; and he had this year doubled the strength of the Artillery force. The Government had succeeded also in bringing to a conclusion a measure which, by abolishing purchase and restoring to the Crown direct authority over the Reserve forces, would lay the foundation for other changes of a more considerable character, which, although explained some time ago to their Lordships, had received no adverse criticism during the discussion. The noble Lord was one of those who opposed the second reading of the Army Regulation Bill; and with all his zeal for improved organization he could only now propose the appointment of a Commission, which, as their Lordships knew, was the stereotyped form of postponing decisions. Under these circumstances, while he challenged the description given by the noble Lord of the Secretary of State, he thought the noble Lord himself was open to the charge "of being a practised instrument in doing nothing" by proposing that they should do nothing until a Commission had reported and proposals for further legislation had been laid before Parliament. He hoped the noble Lord would not press his Motion, but would be satisfied that the Government were prepared to go on with energy and vigour in carrying out the measures so often described in that and the other House of Parliament.


said, that as many noble Lords who would have given a wholly different turn to the discussion were not unnaturally absent at so late a moment of the Session, it became necessary for him to meet some of the remarks of which the Motion was the object. He thought it would hardly be expected by their Lordships that he should give a serious reply to the noble and gallant Earl who had left the House (Earl De La Warr), and who, while he shrunk from an inquiry which did not be token perfect confidence in the ability of Her Majesty's Government to deal with military questions, recommended as a milder and more genial course that an Address to the Crown for the removal of the Secretary of State should be submitted. With regard to the noble Lord (Lord Truro), who continued in his place whenever he devoted any of his valuable time to the Report of the Commission of 1860, he would find that it embraced as large a circle as that which he (Lord Campbell) proposed to bring within the scope of the inquiry he had moved for. No further answer was required to what had fallen from the noble and learned Lord. The noble Lord the Under Secretary had not disappointed the favourable hope he (Lord Campbell) had expressed, by resorting to the vulgar sophism that Commissions superseded the responsibility of Cabinets. He had left that to the noble and learned Lord. But he had given an extraordinary reason for not acceding to the Motion—namely, that Commissions were a mode of retarding action altogether; that no matter what they recommended the Government were certain to neglect it; that the vis inertiæ of the Department he belonged to was not to be corrected by any impulse they could give it. No doubt that was a stronger argument, at the same time a more candid one against the Motion than he (Lord Campbell) had expected to hear to-night; but the noble Lord the Under Secretary had been good enough to answer it completely by explaining the practical results of which the Commission, in 1860, had been fertile. He (Lord Campbell) was perfectly contented that the public should determine the comparative authority of Sir James Scarlett and that of his noble Friend the Under Secretary as to the numerical condition of the Army; and also, that they should decide between the arguments adduced in favour of the Motion and those by which it was opposed. He would not divide the House, as it was fully understood that at that time of the Session nothing could be carried against the fiat of the Government.

Motion (by Leave of the House) withdrawn.