HL Deb 03 July 1871 vol 207 cc976-95

, in moving that an humble Address be presented to the Crown for copies of Instructions, Returns, &c, relating to Army Recruitment, said, their Lordships had listened with attention to that passage in the Royal Speech which drew the attention of Parliament to the momentous events of the late war, and to the numerous and important lessons of military experience it had afforded, and their interest had been heightened by the words in which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to add that the time was now appropriate for turning such lessons to account, by efforts more decisive than had hitherto been made in this country at practical improvement. Nothing could be stronger than the speech made "elsewhere" by the Secretary of State for War when introducing the Bill for the regulation of the Army. Having declared that the events upon the Continent were marvellous without a parallel in military history, and that they had excited in the minds of the English people a firm resolve to place their institutions on a footing of permanent security, the right hon. Gentleman went on to develop his plan for the creation of the Army as the first line, and a Reserve for the second and third lines for defensive and offensive operations. In using the words offensive operations, he (Lord Strathnairn) hoped he might not be misunderstood. Nothing could be further from his desire than to advocate unjust war, or a war of aggrandizement;—wars so undertaken were a disgrace to the civilized world, and of lasting injury to its welfare and happiness. But he believed he was only re-echoing the sentiments of the people of England when he said that they would not accept a security which did not guarantee the rights of treaties, the maintenance of the balance of power, and last, but certainly not least, the position of England upon the sea. It was for these three things that Pitt contended with the greatest statesmen of Europe, and it was for these three things that Marlborough, Nelson, and Wellington led to success forces which never hesitated before any sacrifices. The basis of Mr. Cardwell's plan was the Prussian—three years' service in the Army and then transfer to the Reserve. But this imitation of the Prussian system was impracticable in our case, because the copy rested on a basis wholly distinct and different from that of its model. The sine quâ non of all military organization was the power of recruiting, and no contrast could be more striking than that presented by the Prussian to the English system of recruiting. The Prussian system was involuntary and compulsory; the English was altogether voluntary. The results of the working of these two systems were equally at variance, as might be expected; in one case manhood and certainty of numbers, in the other case boyhood and total uncertainty. The Prussian conscription was so arranged as to bring into the ranks the flower of the population, and to relieve with the regularity of clockwork a certain portion of the Army each year, which then passed into the Reserve. Our recruiting was voluntary and uncertain; the numbers obtained depended upon the fluctuations of the labour market and other causes, and the more urgent the demand for men, the greater the difficulty in obtaining them; and all the conditions of the recruits' efficiency were reduced—age, height, and chest measurement. Such was the exigency felt during the latter part of the Crimean campaign that the worst classes—ticket-of-leave men even—were recruited freely into British regiments; and the Army knew well how many gallant British officers had died in the attempt to make such men obey orders and do their duty. The Secretary of State for War started with an ominous admission; he admitted that his first line was "attenuated," but hoped that the first class Reserve would make up the deficiency. He (Lord Strathnairn) was afraid this hope would be found to rest on a basis as unsound as the imitation of the Prussian short service. His noble Friend the Commander of the Forces in Ireland (Lord Sandhurst), in a recent speech—which had been answered only by admissions and excuses—laid his finger on the causes of attenuation in the British Army, and insisted that organization upon such a basis was impossible, and that, if attempted, disgrace and failure would be inevitable. His own experience, both in India and in Ireland, enabled him to confirm every word his noble Friend had stated as to the fatal consequences of extreme youth in the recruits for the Army. Another feature of the Government scheme which created dismay among Army men was the proposed yearly transfer of selected men to the Reserve, which would only leave in the regiment an inferior material for that most valuable and indispensable class, the non-commissioned officer. As to the Militia Reserves, the right hon. Gentleman stated that he was not "enthusiastic" for them—which meant, in plain English, that he did not half like them. But in that unfavourable opinion he himself (Lord Strathnairn) was unable to share, for experience showed that whenever the Militia had been brigaded or mixed with troops of the Line they had done excellent service. But if the Militia at present laboured under a disadvantage, it was because the organization of the War Department was such as to have the effect likewise of attenuating their ranks; for if called upon in case of emergency the Militia would have to give all their men of spirit as volunteers to the Line. The Reserves, consequently, were Reserves merely of individuals, and not of regiments, brigades, and divisions organized into Army corps. Then, as to the Volunteers, he entertained the highest respect for that force, for their patriotism, their intelligence, and the excellence which they had attained as marksmen. If they had defects, he could not in justice attribute them to the Volunteers themselves, for they arose from mismanagement other than their own. Much time had been persistently spent in teaching them to march past symmetrically; but in the 12 years of their existence not an hour had been devoted to instructing them in the best mode of turning the natural features of the country to account—its hills and hollows, and the obstacles, hedges and ditches, as created by agriculture. Engineering would not construct better obstacles than agriculture had done in England. If he were called on to defend this country he would not wish for troops better calculated to defend these "obstacles" than the Volunteers. The Army Reserve was established in 1867, the conditions being 2d. per day pay, some prospect, though not a very satisfactory one—as to pension, a training of 12 days with the Reserve, and 28 days with the Militia. After three years' trial that force failed, the cause being — as he stated to the Adjutant-General in June, 1870 — insufficiency of pay and allowances, and the difficulty which men belonging to the Reserve experienced in obtaining civil employment or labour. In the next month the Government raised the pay to 4d. per day, and discontinued the period of training with the Militia, but they left untouched the difficulty of obtaining civil employment, although on that depended the interest not only of the soldier, but also of the service, of the employers, as well as of the taxpayers. A soldier could not return willingly to civil employment which he had left not long before from preference for the Army, and if he did he would have to struggle for a bare existence, in which he could not obtain those advantages which he enjoyed in the Army. The interests of the service had been entirely lost sight of by the abolition of the 28 days' training; and this step that had been taken to attract soldiers into the Reserve, as well as to facilitate their obtaining civil employment, had the effect of depriving them of their efficiency—because if, as often happened, bad weather prevailed during the 12 days' training, they would have little or no instruction. The discipline of this precarious force was in the hands of the civil authorities, instead of being intrusted to the Commander-in-Chief, who had a competent Staff. The Reserve men were turned loose on the world, with a roving pass, and a bounty of three months' pay in hand, although no one had declaimed, and justly, so much against the evils of bounty as Mr. Cardwell. Under these circumstances, who who could predict where these men would be found on the call of an emergency? The civil employer would not fancy as a servant a man to whose services the Government had a prior claim. In Ireland a man might be taken away from his employment during months together, and the taxpayer might very naturally object to give double pay to a Reserve which, as he had shown, would be a most inadequate protection. Parliament, he thought, had a right to complain of the War Department for having withheld important information respecting the causes of the failure of the Reserves, and for having acted contrary to the assurances in the speech of the Commander-in-Chief; but he consented to the second reading of the Bill relating to the Reserve on the clear understanding that it should not interfere with the existing system of recruiting with the Long Service Act and pension. Pension was the best guarantee of the soldiers' good, and the surest safeguard against his misconduct.

Moved that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for, Copies of instructions issued on the subject of recruiting during the last three years, showing the changes in the age, standard, height, and the mode of taking the chest measurement. Copies of instructions to medical officers regarding the examination of recruits and manner of testing their vision: Extracts from the last monthly returns of regiments of infantry, showing the ages of the non-commissioned officers and men in each regiment or battalion, and their length of service: Copies of correspondence with the commanding officers of regiments or battalions relating to the disadvantages of the youth of soldiers enlisted during the last three years: And also, Returns showing the numbers of recruits who were passed into the service, and of men discharged therefrom, during each of the months from 1st April 1870 to 31st March 1871.—(The Lord Strathnairn.)


said, the Returns that had been moved for would serve to keep alive the question of recruiting, on which much public feeling had been excited by the unparalleled events that had recently occurred on the Continent, as well as by the uncertainty in which the terms of enlistment and the conditions of service had been left by the Secretary for War. The views that were expressed on the part of the Government when the subject of recruiting was before Parliament last year had not been adhered to, nor had the policy that was then announced been strictly and honestly carried out. It was then under- stood that the principle of short service was to apply to only a certain proportion of the men in a regiment, in order that there should always be a large number of well-seasoned men in the ranks; and the Returns asked for would show how the assurances that were repeatedly made by the noble Lord the Under Secretary for War had been fulfilled. The Act passed last year invested the Secretary for War with ample power to vary the conditions of service as he might think fit; but the confidence which their Lordships reposed in the right hon. Gentleman had not been justified by the manner in which he had since proceeded. The public mind had been disquieted by the signal failure of recruiting, and by seeing that the Secretary for War was so perplexed as to be obliged "to proceed tentatively," as it was said—that being another expression for groping in the dark. It must be obvious to everyone that the civilians who were responsible for the Army seldom consulted military men. Did anyone suppose that the recent Circulars relating to recruiting would have been approved by a military man? He rejoiced that these Returns had been moved for by the noble and gallant Lord, because they would show the unfortunate condition to which some of our regiments have been lately reduced.


expressed his gratification that those Returns had been moved for. In his opinion, the present Militia Reserve was a mere farce, and must continue to be so unless they enlisted a fresh man for every one who was liable to be drafted into the Regular Army. Moreover, their regiments were attenuated, many of their squadrons but half-horsed, and he understood that even the artillery had been reduced since last year. If they were to have a Reserve it must be properly officered and properly manned. The subject was one that deserved to be kept before the attention of the country, for at present it was well calculated to excite grave alarm and discontent.


said, that this debate might, in a certain sense, be considered the continuation of a former debate, raised at his instance some weeks ago. He begged to take this opportunity of offering his earnest thanks to the War Department for having considered the suggestion with reference to enlistment of immature lads for service in India. He had spoken strongly on this subject on a previous occasion; but, whilst urging his argument with such force as he was able to throw into it, he was well aware of the difficulties to which the War Department was exposed in carrying through such a change. But his noble Friend the Under Secretary of State for War and the House would recollect that the furnishing of recruits for India was but a part of the question which had been raised. In point of fact, he had used the Indian argument as the illustration in time of peace of what would affect the whole Imperial Army of Her Majesty if we were required to send troops abroad to meet an enemy in a foreign land. He must, then, again repeat the question—What would be the condition of an Army of which a large proportion should consist of half-grown immature lads, instead of strong and full-grown men? Referring, then, to this question, which was the main one raised by the noble and gallant Lord opposite, he asked if the regiments in this country were to lose the best of their men, by way of transfer to the Reserves in the first instance, and in the shape of volunteers to fill up Indian regiments in the second, what would remain of those regiments which were to represent this country on the Continent in case of war? Far was it from his wish to add to the difficulties of the War Department, which he knew were very great. But for the best interests of the country, indeed for its security, a sufficient answer was required. It was fraught with difficulty; the solution of the problem had yet to be found; it could not be too much brought before the public; it demanded the amplest discussion. Doubtless, the presence of a number of men from the Reserve would be of immense advantage to the regiments when they should be subjected to the ordeal of war. But assuming that every man from the Reserve answered to the call when it was made upon him, and that our present system of recruiting lasted, a large proportion of our troops would, nevertheless, consist of boys, whose age was from 17 to a little over 18 years of age—a class of soldiers which, when offered to Lord Raglan in the Crimea, had been declined by that lamented commander. In a previous debate his noble Friend had reminded him—as he had a perfect right to do—of the opinions expressed by him (Lord Sandhurst) in favour of a conscription for the Militia. He still adhered to that opinion, and he firmly believed that it was the only sufficient manner in which the views of Government could ultimately be carried out. But the experience of the last few months, and the observation of the opinions held by the majority of those sitting on both sides in Parliament, had convinced him that his views were not those of the country, and that it was vain to expect a Government which could be found to give execution to them. That being so, he cast about in his mind to see what other resource might be found in some manner to supply the place of that of which he lamented the absence. He believed that such a resource was to be found in the scheme which he had before submitted to their Lordships. He repeated, therefore, that the Militia should be made the nursery for the Line; that there should be one age for the recruit of the former, and another, and a more advanced age, for the recruit of the latter. At certain seasons of the year the War Department should declare the number of recruits required for the Line. A rate should then be struck on all the regiments of the Militia in the United Kingdom, and Militiamen of the prescribed age should be invited to volunteer accordingly. No pressure should be put on; it would be real voluntary service. All Militiamen who chose to remain with the Militia would do so, only those coming to the Line who came of their own free will. Credit was taken the other night, in a debate in "another place," by the Secretary of State for War, for a possible economy in the re-organization of the Army, on a basis which should include a greater part of the pensions. He ventured to contest the good policy of such an announcement. The great object in view at present was not only to obtain a numerical sufficiency of recruits, but also to raise the character of the service, to insure that the recruits for the Line were of a sufficient age; in short, to supply the service properly, to give that service a highly popular character. Now, with such objects in view, it seemed to him impossible to reconcile an economy on present charges; and he did not think it would be possible to attain the objects proposed by Government, with reference to manning the Army and the Reserve, if the measures of economy were persevered with. The Secretary of State for War having acceded to the proposal that raw boys should not be sent to India, experience would soon prove that the same principle would have to be attended to with reference to the troops employed elsewhere. That was shown by the fact that probably the larger half of the recruits raised were for Indian service. He repeated, then, that the object being to improve the service, to place it on a wider basis, the attempt to insure an economy at the same time was to try to reconcile propositions of absolutely opposite characters. What would be the result it would not be difficult to foretell. He ventured, then, to submit to their Lordships that, if the principle of short-service were to be reduced to practice, either the whole or the greater part of the money which now went in the form of pensions, must be spent in raising the daily pay of the men who were of a satisfactory age. They had the best authority with regard to the difficulty of obtaining recruits who had reached the age of manhood: it was evident they could not be got unless they were treated liberally. In support of that, he might refer to the answer of his right hon. and gallant Friend the Surveyor General of the Ordnance to the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), in a debate in "another place." After showing the exigencies of our Army, and the duties imposed upon the troops, his right hon. and gallant Friend made some remarks which would have been matter of discouragement, but for the pledge lately given by the Secretary of State for War. But, as he had said before, the Indian argument was only a portion of the general question. He would repeat his conviction that the concession of recruits of greater age having been made for India, it must follow, as a matter of course, that the concession would have to be extended to all Her Majesty's regiments wherever serving. In a matter of this sort it was impossible to have two systems. How, then, was this difficulty to be met. It seemed to him that in addition to using the Militia, as he had suggested, there was another condition which must force itself on the public, and ultimately on the attention of the Government. That condition was one which was never forgotten in the arrangements of any trade or any profession. It was simply this—that men of sufficient age, and who had mastered their business, were entitled to expect a larger daily wage than lads or apprentices. The solution of the problem before them appeared then to him to lie in the application to the Army of what was so well understood and acted on in every establishment of labour, whether public or private. If, then, 1s. 3d. a-day be declared to be the wage of the Militiamen when embodied for training, and if it was the proper wage for a man enlisted at barely 18 years of age, it was tolerably clear that the mature man of 21 was entitled to something more. The Secretary of State had doubtless shown that recruiting had been fertile during the past few months—that was to say, that the numbers of recruits who had presented themselves were sufficient for the demands of the public service. But they had no reason to suppose, after all that had been alleged regarding the difficulty of obtaining men who exceeded 20 years of age, that those who had been lately got were anything more than mere lads. They came back, therefore, to the old question which considered the quality of the man as well as their numbers. His suggestion, therefore, was as follows:—Recruiting must be placed on some broader basis than it at present occupied, and that could only be done by bringing it into closer connection with the Militia. His proposals might, therefore, be reduced as follows:—That the Militia should be henceforth the nursery for the Line; that there should be different ages for the Militia recruit and the Line recruit; that transfer of men who had exceeded 20 years of age from the Militia to the Line should freely take place according to rules; and that the pay of the Linesman, who had completed his 21 years, should stand at 1s. 6d. a-day. If those suggestions were adopted, he believed that the system of short service would work, but not otherwise. He believed in short service, and he was glad to see it urged forward. But that being admitted, it was imperative not to forget the conditions according to which the new system could be practised with satisfaction and safety. The importance of the principle of short service was seen not only in its being the means of pro- viding larger numbers for the Army, but also in the fact that it might afford the effort of reconciling the country to the Army. It was well known to their Lordships that a very large and respectable portion of the population of this country objected to their sons entering the ranks of the Army. They believed that a lad who became a soldier was lost. That opinion was often propagated in modes and by authority which were much to be regretted. In support of that, he would take the liberty of reading to their Lordships a short speech lately made in "another place" by an hon. and gallant Member when there was a discussion on a clause in the Army Regulation Bill affecting the Volunteers. That hon. and gallant Member said—"That he thought it humiliating to place a badge of military bondage on free citizens who came forward to serve their country, and who ought not to be reduced to the position of private soldiers."


here rose to Order, and said, the noble and gallant Lord was not speaking to the question before the House.


replied that if the noble and gallant Viscount would listen to the argument he would find that he (Lord Sandhurst) was absolutely in Order. The question raised by his noble and gallant Friend opposite was really how the numbers of the Army were to be raised, and how Reserves were to be organized. It was clear that if the character of the soldier was degraded as shown in the quotation read to the House, if the Army were to be told that to place the Volunteers under the Mutiny Act for certain purposes was to lower them and reduce them to the humiliating position of a private soldier, it was hopeless to expect that the Army of this country could be placed on a national footing, or the position of the soldier raised amongst the population at large for the purposes of the State. Consequently, reference to this matter was very closely connected with the Motion of the noble and gallant Lord. The reconciliation of the Army and the country by the adoption of the principle of short service touched very nearly all questions of recruiting; and the passage he had read illustrated but too forcibly the want of the due perception of the relation which should exist between the country and the Army. It was owing to such notions as these that the Army came to be so terribly misunderstood by the public, and that the difficulties of the War Department were so fearfully increased. In conclusion, he would ask his noble Friend to believe that if at times he appeared to differ on certain points from him and from his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, this was not prompted by any spirit of antagonism, but because he felt the great importance of these questions, and that as yet their solution was not determined. They had been told by the illustrious Duke the Commander-in-Chief that the measures now in execution were of a tentative character. Now, when they dealt with physical science, tentative measures were called experiments. That, then, meant that those who made the experiment were uncertain with regard to the bodies on which they were operating to the conditions they had to consider. This, then, was the time for criticism and suggestion; and if he ventured to offer opinions in this sense, he must express a hope that they would not be misinterpreted as evidence of unfriendliness with those with whom he was acting.


said, he could not understand on what ground the noble and gallant Lord who had just spoken should have talked of reconciling the Army and the country. The Army was never more popular with the country, or more universally respected, than it was at this moment. As to the vexed question of enlisting men so young for the Army, they all knew that for the last 40 years that had been the greatest difficulty of the Horse Guards. One-half of the ploughboys who enlisted did not know themselves whether they were 17, 18, or 19 years old; and he had heard of the case of an agricultural labourer who said he was 67 or 76, he could not tell which. As to getting young men of 20 or 21 who had engaged in trade, as they generally had done by that age, it was impossible — they could only get those to enlist who had not engaged in any trade; and he believed that among the population of England there was a strong feeling in favour of the Army as a profession. The best remedy for the present state of things was to go back to the old system of second battalions, which were the nurseries of the regi- ments, and which had answered most admirably.


expressed his belief that the reason why men were unwilling to volunteer from the Militia to the Line was because they would not enlist for short service, which gave them nothing to look forward to in the shape of pension.


said, so many observations had been offered on this subject by distinguished officers, that it was necessary that he should make a few remarks. There could be no doubt that this was one of the most important questions connected with the organization of the Army; and he only regretted that it should have been raised that night in a desultory manner—as was not unusually the case in their Lordships' House — simply on a Motion for Papers. Although it had attracted much public attention this Session in both Houses of Parliament, the question was by no means a new one to those who had anything to do with our military administration. The problem was a difficult one—they had to keep up an Army of moderate size in time of peace, and to have, if they could, a large Reserve for the purpose of completing that Army in time of necessity to a war strength. His noble and gallant Friend (Lord Sandhurst) said the first and easiest remedy that occurred to him was that some system of compulsory service should be introduced; but he had found that this was not a proposal which would meet with the approbation either of Parliament or the country. Another difficulty was that our Army had to perform a greater amount of ordinary service abroad than any other Army in Europe; and moreover—as had been pointed out by the noble and gallant Lord who had introduced the subject—we had the highest rate of wages for labour of any country in the world. These circumstances rendered the problem one of very great difficulty. The question was discussed in the time of the great French war, when Mr. Windham brought in a Short Enlistment Act, which remained in force for a short period with every prospect of success. It was again raised in 1847 by Lord Grey, in a striking speech introducing the Limited Enlistment Act, when he pointed out the steps that had been taken to raise the position of the soldier, and by that means to induce a greater number of eligible recruits to enlist. From that time until 1867 successive Secretaries of State for War and Commanders-in-Chief had devoted their attention to the improvement of the condition of the soldier. The late Lord Herbert of Lea—under whom he himself had the honour to serve—would be recollected by the Army as being probably the man who had paid the greatest attention to the health and condition of the private soldier. When Lord Herbert took up the question of the sanitary condition of the Army, the death-rate in the service was 17 per 1,000, whereas the ordinary death-rate among the same class of our population was not more than 8 or 9 per 1,000. Under the system initiated by Lord Herbert the death-rate in the Army in England was reduced to 9½ per 1,000, showing that an immense improvement had taken place in the condition of the soldier in this country. The Recruiting Commission of 1867, of which Lord Dalhousie was the Chairman, had reported on the danger of the want of any reserve, having regard to the suddenness with which war broke out, and remarked that the service was unpopular on account of the soldier being expatriated during two-thirds of his period of service. When the present Secretary of State assumed the duties of his Department, the very first things that claimed his attention were the condition of the private soldier, the importance of an adequate supply of recruits, and the establishment of an Army of Reserve. In a very short period his right hon. Friend made arrangements for reducing the number of regiments in the colonies, so that foreign service should occupy only one-half instead of two-thirds of the soldier's time; bounty on enlistment was abolished, and the pay was increased; arrangements were made for employing soldiers in trades, and inducements were offered for good behaviour from the time of enlistment. The punishment of marking was abolished, and 3,000 bad characters had been discharged from the Army during the last two years, thus removing ground for a complaint which had often been made, and which had formed the subject of a letter to The Times from a commanding officer in the Guards, who regretted his inability to discharge bad characters. In fact, he believed there was no single point which more prevented young men of good character from entering the Army than the existence, in most regiments, of men of notoriously bad character. A great change was also made in the punishment of military offences—all these measures were taken with the intention of raising the tone of the private soldier in the Army. The result had been satisfactory in raising the character and improving the general conduct of the soldiers. The Reports from the Governors of Military Prisons showed that, owing to the discharge of bad characters, there had been a reduction in the number of soldiers confined in these prisons. Thus, from the time the present Secretary for War assumed office, there had been a steady application of measures for the improvement of the condition of the soldier. At the same time recruiting had been vigorously carried on, and a greater number of men had been enlisted since August last than had been enlisted during former periods of similar duration. The noble Lord (Lord Strathnairn) who had brought this Motion forward, and other noble Lords, had assumed without accurate information that the mass of these recruits were extremely young, and, therefore, inefficient. But that was incorrect. The medical Reports for the years between 1864 and 1869 showed that out of every 1,000 recruits enlisted 573 were under 20, and 427 were over that age; and in 1870 the Returns from the three principal recruiting districts showed that the average was rather less, and that for every 1,000 enlisted 570 were under 20 years of age, and 430 over, so that a considerable proportion of those enlisted were over 20 years of age. A noble Earl who had left the House (Earl De-La-Warr) had commented in very strong terms upon the vacillating conduct of the Administration; but in his remarks upon this subject, as well as on the recruiting orders and on the state of ths Army, in no single instance had he adduced any proof in support of his statements. In point of fact, it stood to reason that whatever effect the regulations with regard to short service might have some six years hence, they could have had no effect upon the Army as yet beyond that caused by the immediate admission into the Army Reserve of the small number of men lately permitted to leave the Army. Excluding the household cavalry, our Army consisted of 175,410 non-commissioned officers and men, and of those 33,797 were under 20 years of age, 18,614 only being under 19 years of age; so that it was a monstrous, and, he believed, mischievous exaggeration to say that our Army was composed of mere striplings, and that anything that had been done had affected the age and the quality of the British soldier. And what was the present state of the Army as compared with its former condition? Before the limited enlistment Act was passed, in 1846, the number of recruits under 20 years of age was 177 in 1,000; now the proportion was only slightly increased, the number being 212 per 1,000. He could not help feeling surprised at the charges which had been made against the Government of having been guilty of a breach of faith, because it had always been intended, and was so still, that every battalion should contain a considerable number of old soldiers; though how that was to be effected was, of course, a matter of administrative detail. The enlistment in the infantry being for six years, it was intended that a sufficient number of men of good character should be allowed to re-engage and serve on for pension, and so supply that number of non-commissioned officers and old soldiers admitted by all to be necessary for the proper constitution of the cadres of the Army. In the time of the Crimean War, they were obliged to complete their regiments by recruits from other regiments; but when the short service system came fully into operation in time of war the men who had formerly served in a regiment would be brought back to the colours, with this advantage, that they would be stronger and more fit for service than recruits could be.


Yon would never be able to find them.


Though they might possibly not be able to find some of them, he had such a good opinion of his countrymen that he believed the vast majority would fulfil the engagements into which they had entered. The noble Lord evidently believed this to be nothing more than a paper Reserve.


So it is.


But did the noble Lord believe the Pensioners to be a mere paper Reserve? There was no difficulty in finding them out, for they had to appear to receive their money, and the difficulty in this case would not be greater. So much had been said about the danger of sending young men out to India, that he might, perhaps, allude for a moment to this portion of the subject, with a view to re-assuring the public mind, and to show that there had been no grave negligence on the part of the authorities. In 1859 a Royal Commission appointed to consider the sanitary condition of the Army in India, reported that the mortality among the troops in the service both of Her Majesty and the Company, exclusive of the losses in war, amounted to not less than 60 per 1,000. That rate of mortality had decreased in the most striking manner, and might be safely said to be now not more than half of what then prevailed. Between 1860 and 1868 it was only 27 per 1,000, although in 1869, owing to an outbreak of cholera, the proportion rose to 37 per 1,000. It had been proved to be a fallacy that men became acclimatized to India by long service. For India, the best length of service was five or six years. The best course was that men should be sent out well fed and trained and thoroughly effective, and leave India at the expiration of that term. The manner in which regiments intended for service in India would be filled up to the proper standard was a matter of detail with, which he need hardly trouble their Lordships; but, evidently, with 60,000 infantry in this country, no serious disorganization could result from drafting the necessary number of men. As the result of the Act of last Session they had now 8,000 men enlisted for general service, and capable, therefore, of being transferred from one battalion to another; but even greater elasticity must be given to the system before the foreign reliefs could be satisfactorily carried out. As to the apprehensions which had been expressed about not getting men to enlist for short service, he might state that a comparison of the seven weeks which had followed the issue of the Circular of the 5th of May as to short enlistment, with the seven weeks which preceded the issue of that Circular, showed an increase both in the total number of recruits and in the proportion entering for short service. The fear entertained that men leaving the Army would be unable to obtain employment had likewise, he was happy to say, proved unfounded. He believed, on the contrary, that a man of good conduct obtained employment more readily from having been in the Army; and in support of this opinion the fact might be mentioned that, although favourable terms had been offered to soldiers who had served for 10 years, and were desirous of re-enlisting, only 160 men had closed with this offer during the last eight months, though General Edwards fully expected that 2,000 or 3,000 of these men would have come forward. Obviously, a man who had only been six years in the Army would have less difficulty in obtaining civil employment than a man who had been for 10 years with the colours. The state of the Reserve, he confessed, was not yet such as it should be; but still the first class Army Reserve, which in 1869 only numbered 1,000 men, would have increased to 6,000 or 7,000 as soon as those who were now allowed to leave the Army joined the first class Reserve. As to the Militia Reserve, he was glad to say that the Militiamen had volunteered into the Militia Reserve in very fair numbers. It was of great importance that the men should be enrolled so as to be ready in time of war, instead of their having to scramble for men when that time arrived, as was the case in the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. They then had to raise the bounty one day and offer commissions another, and a constant stream of Circulars had to be issued before the men could be induced to join the Army. The quality of the Militia Reserve men differed considerably in different regiments, but there could be no doubt that the force would become a valuable auxiliary. It was a mistake to suppose that there was any distinct civil branch at the War Office which could interfere with the discipline of the Army Reserve, and the illustrious Duke (the Duke of Cambridge) gave his support the other day, in a speech delivered in the House, to the measures of the Government for recruiting; so that no arguments could be based upon any supposed divergence of views at the Horse Guards. As to field artillery, he maintained that our peace establishment was very nearly as strong in that respect as the war establishment of the Prussian artillery. The Govern- ment had thought it their duty to profit by the example of the Prussian military system, which had proved so successful, and the organization of the artillery had proceeded on the recommendation, of distinguished officers and with the approval of the Commander-in-Chief. The number of guns had been doubled, and there was now field artillery sufficient for a force of 150,000 men. The Government desired to see recruiting make progress, and there was reason to believe that the field had not been fully worked. Inquiries had recently been instituted, and the impression he had derived from the replies—which had not yet been fully considered—was that the recruiting system might be so extended as to bring into the Army a greater supply of recruits from the agricultural population. The subject had been taken up by the Secretary of State, who would endeavour to the best of his ability to secure the efficiency of the Army Reserve and to improve the condition of the British soldier. With reference to the Returns moved for by the noble and gallant Lord, there was no objection to furnish them; but with regard to one of them the Return would be nil, for he was informed by the Adjutant-General that there had been no Correspondence with the commanding officers of regiments in reference to the youth of the soldiers enlisted during the last three years.


explained that the effect of what he had said in reference to the Duke of Cambridge had been misapprehended—that he had not alluded to a speech made by the illustrious Duke the other day, but to one made by him last year, when he stated that he would support the second reading of the Short Service Act without pension, on the understanding that it should run pari passu with the Long Service Act with pension, a declaration to which more than one noble Lord could testify, although disregarded by the War Office.


said, he was not in a position to answer with respect to the speech of the illustrious Duke, and if there was any question as to its construction proper Notice should have been given.


said, he had heard the speech referred to, and he did not believe that it would bear the interpretation which the noble and gallant Lord had put on it.

Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at Ten o'clock, 'till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.