HL Deb 08 May 1871 vol 206 cc336-8

said, he did not often trouble their Lordships with any personal explanation; but he now felt bound, in justice both to the House and himself, to do so. On Friday night he (the Earl of Carnarvon) in calling attention to our artillery force dwelt on the relative strength of batteries of artillery under a peace and a war establishment. There was no difference between himself and his noble Friend opposite (Lord Northbrook) as to the peace establishment; but a very great difference as to the war establishment; and thereon his noble Friend took him more severely to task and impugned his figures more severely than he thought had been his general practice; and therefore he thought that it was not only due to their Lordships' House, but also to himself, that he should endeavour to show that he did not make his statement lightly, or without full and careful consideration. His own statement was that a horse artillery battery on a war establishment consisted of 228 officers and men; while his noble Friend contended that its strength was 169 officers and men; the difference between that and a peace establishment being, according to his own statement, 80, and, according to his noble Friend's, only 21. Again, his own statement was that a battery of field artillery on a war establishment consisted of 277 officers and men, while his noble Friend gave the number as 169, the difference between this and a peace establishment being stated by himself as 128, and by his noble Friend as 20. Now, he had known his noble Friend long enough to feel sure that he was incapable of any intentional mis-statement. On the other hand, he hoped his noble Friend would acknowledge that he was not in the habit of making assertions which he (the Earl of Carnarvon) had not carefully endeavoured to verify. He would quote authorities which he thought would vindicate his accuracy in the present case. A book published by the Topographical Department of the War Office, under the editorship of Sir Henry James, entitled Strength of the Army of Great Britain, gave 228 as the number of officers and men of a horse artillery battery under a war establishment, and 227 as the number of officers and men of a field artillery battery—this agreeing with his own figures. Again, the Army Equipment Book, issued by the Statistical Department of the War Office, gave the same figures. So also did the Soldier's Pocket Book, which was drawn up by a distinguished officer, General Wolseley, who had the command of the Rod River Expedition. He had not a recent copy of the Handbook of Field Service, which had a quasi-official authority; but he was told that it gave the same numbers. Moreover, a War Office Return, dated August 9, 1870, and signed "Edward Cardwell," giving the numbers to which each battery was being made up, gave 185 as the strength of a battery of horse artillery, and 35 as the further number which would be requisite to put it on a war establishment, the total being 220. This differed only by eight from his own statement, this difference representing the eight officers who formed the complement of each battery of artillery, whether field or horse. The Return gave 269 as the strength of a battery of field artillery on a war footing, which, again, was eight less than his own figures, for a reason he had just explained. He thought the House would see that his statements were not made lightly or without ample justification. His noble Friend drew a distinction on Friday between a battery of artillery placed on a peace establishment and a battery placed on a war establishment for home defence; but the latter term he had never heard before; and, on inquiry, he had found that nobody could give any information on it or was able to tell what it meant, for a battery must either be on a peace or a war establishment.


disclaimed any intention of imputing to his noble Friend statements which he did not at the time think justifiable; but he must repeat that he was rather in the habit of asking for information, getting what information he could beforehand, and making a speech before he was supplied with reliable information upon the subject of it. The Returns appealed to by his noble Friend represented at the time of their publication the strength which, under certain circumstances, had been laid down for batteries of artillery; but last winter, as he explained the other night, a Committee, presided over by General Haines, and comprising among its members General Adye, and other high authorities on artillery, laid down the future strength of batteries for peace, for home defence, and for foreign service. If the noble Earl thought other information of greater value than the opinions of those responsible officers, which had been approved by the Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of State, his statements must necessarily differ from those made by himself on behalf of the War Office.

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