HL Deb 01 June 1874 vol 219 cc728-49

, in moving that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for Returns relating to recruiting for the Army, calling out the Army Reserve, and the muster of the Militia regiments when so called out—said he had two objects in moving for these Returns. In the first place, he desired to elicit the information which these Returns should contain, and his second object was to raise a discussion—which he hoped would spread beyond the walls of the House—with regard to our military system in the important matter of the supply of men. Having said so much as to his objects, he begged at the outset to say that he had no desire to reflect upon anybody—either upon the late Government or the Ministry now in office. But with regard to the subject to which he invited the attention of the House, he had thought it his duty to raise the question because there were certain considerations in connection with the supply of our Army with men which could hardly fail to cause apprehension—he would not say alarm—and which should give rise to the gravest reflections in the mind of every man who had to deal with the military establishments of the country, and who saw in what manner it was now supplied. What was the case? We were now committed to what was called "the short-service system;" that was to say, instead of a man being enlisted for unlimited service, he was now enlisted for a term of years, part only of which would be passed in the ranks of the Army. In what shape did these recruits reach the Army. They reached it at an age so youthful that they could not be called men. This was the case with a large number of them—they were not able to do the duty of soldiers. It took one or two years to give them the substance of manhood; and it was requisite they should be fed and paid by the State for those two years before they could stand in the ranks of British soldiers. That was a very serious matter, and the reason of it was very plain. During the days of the unlimited service system, but a small proportion of the men retired in each year, and we could therefore afford to have a certain number of young men in the ranks, who were as yet hardly capable of performing their duty; but their number was proportionately very small; but it was a very different thing when the whole of the men in the ranks, or a very large proportion of them, were bound to serve, not for a term of 21 years, but for six years only. It stood to reason that if they were to serve only for six years there must be at least one-third, perhaps one-half of our ranks made up of youths, who were not fit to carry a knapsack or to bear the fatigues of a campaign. That was the point which he wished to impress upon the House. Since his return home from India, and it had been his lot to be connected with the executive administration of the Army, the danger to which the country was exposed from this state of things had constantly presented itself to him in a concrete form, and he felt that an effort ought to be made to direct the attention of the country to the fact that while they believed that their military system rested upon a solid basis the system was essentially weak in the points to which he had just directed their Lordships' notice. And what was the case with the Reserves? In the Act of 1867—which was called the Army Reserve Act—power was given to enforce the attendance of the first-class Reserve, which was then created for the first time, and also the second-class Reserve for training. There was then some security that this Reserve Force was in the country, and that it would be forthcoming for service if required. In the Act of 1870, however, that point was abandoned, and the 19th section simply provided that the Secretary of State might from time to time make regulations for the training of persons serving in these Reserves. As he read the clause it did not contain a legislative direction, but conferred a discretionary authority on the Secretary of State, and there was the further limitation that he should interfere as little as possible with the ordinary pursuits of the men comprising those Reserves. Well, now, what had been the working of that clause? He could speak positively as to how it had worked in his own Command. Out of 450 men who were summoned in Ireland on account of reserve duty last year, to assist in the manœuvres at the Curragh, only 50 answered to the invitation—that was to say only one in nine. He was not in a position to say what was the case in England in respect of such invitations; but he thought the experience of Ireland was enough to show that the power in the Act of 1870 was not sufficient to give real solidity and substance to the Army Reserve. There was another Reserve, called the Militia Reserve, which was also created by the Act of 1867. The provisions of the Act in this respect were very excellent, and had fully answered the purpose. By it the men were compelled to attend at the appointed places. It was no matter of invitation—but they were obliged to obey a military order under a legal sanction, or to suffer severe punishment if they disobeyed the summons. The consequence was that the Militia Reserve was a substantial one. In reference to the short time system, he wished to say he thought there was some misapprehension and some misunderstanding with respect to its working in India. It was said that it was difficult to reconcile a short-service system with the military obligations that we owed to that country. If the life of a man were as secure in India as it was in this country—if the only thing to be considered in regard to India was distance, and if the climate there was as healthy as it was here—there would be force in the objection that it would be an extravagant and inexpedient mode of supplying the Indian Army by a system of short service; but under the existing conditions of climate, so far from short service being prejudicial to the Army in India it was quite the contrary. There was a considerable mortality there in every regiment each year. Within the last few years there had been a considerable change in the manner of transporting our troops to and from India. Now, instead of going round by the Cape, they travelled by the same route as their officers, and there was more invaliding home than there used to be; indeed the private soldier when ill had greater facilities for coming home invalided than were afforded to the officer. This was humane, and it was good policy also. Such, indeed, were the facts as to health in India that whether we had there a system of short service or a system of long service, the change in the constitution of regiments would still be the same. He recollected perfectly well that at the expiration of eight years of service in India the regiment with which he was connected had entirely changed—either from deaths, or invaliding, or discharge in the ordinary course of the service; and this showed that little difference would take place in the state of the Army in India under the short-service system from what took place under unlimited service. If we looked back at the history of the Army during the last seven years we should find that its constitution had been very greatly changed. The Act of 1867 had created the Militia Reserve and Army Reserve. The Act of 1869 gave power to place the Militia, when in training, under the command of General Officers, and also to attach officers of the Regular force to Militia regiments; and it abolished property qualification for Militia officers. The Army Enlistment Act of 1870, a very important one indeed, shortened the term of active service in the Army. Twelve years was the term of enlistment; but a portion of the time might be spent in the Army itself, and the residue in the first class of the Reserve Force, established by the Act of 1869. Next came the Army Regulation Act of 1871, the debates on which their Lordships no doubt remembered. The most important part of that Act was the portion which transferred to the Crown the jurisdiction formerly exercised by the Lieutenants of Counties in respect of the Auxiliary forces. Then came the Army Organization Act of 1872, which, though little more than a Money Bill, was important as showing the policy of the Government, and also as showing the intention of Parliament in respect to the executive development of the Army Regulation Act of 1871. Next came the Militia Service Act of 1870, which changed the terms of enlistment in the Militia. It was not difficult to see what the bearing of this Act was. The policy of the late Government, as he understood it, was to produce a reciprocation of good offices—if he might use the expression—between the Militia and the Line, which should ultimately tend to create greater concord between the two services, and thus add much to the safety and defence of the country. He believed that in adopting this policy the late Government had grasped the right principle. There had not yet been time for the object at which they aimed to be attained, but to secure it we should proceed in the course indicated by the Acts to which he had referred. The one idea running through those Acts was the idea of reciprocity between the Militia and the Line, and if that idea were fairly followed, he believed that we should ultimately be rescued from the apprehensions which came over our minds when we surveyed the state of our forces and the means by which they were supplied. If he asked what those means were, he should be told that there was the recruiting sergeant. Quite true the old plan of picking up the waifs of society had been adopted, but it could hardly be called a system. That which had been abandoned as unworthy of modern civilization by every other country in Europe still prevailed as the means of supply to the English Army, and it was yet said that its system rested on a solid basis. Another means was also used, but it was only done fitfully. Recourse was had to the Militia regiments and volunteers were asked for, but this was not done with method or system. He, however, considered that we ought to look to the Militia as the fountain from which to draw the recruits for the Line, and that the original recruiting—if it were to be continued—should be for the Militia alone. He believed that there should be an organized system of supplying the Militia with recruits from the several counties; but having obtained these recruits for the Militia, we should call upon the Militia regiments every year to furnish such a number of volunteers as might be required to fill up the vacancies in the Line. He did not think that any difficulty would be experienced in carrying out such a scheme. He could refer to Ireland for proof of it. In Ireland, during the last three years, the number of recruits obtained in the open market for the Line was 3,266; during the same time the number of recruits obtained for the Militia was upwards of 27,000. That showed that a great difference was felt by the population in choosing between the Militia and the Line. But during those three years the Militia gave to the Line 2,300 men. That showed that notwithstanding this volunteering from the Militia to the Line had been done in a fitful and unsystematic manner, it was nevertheless found that a very considerable draft of recruits flowed from the Militia to the Line, and he believed that in that fact was indicated the course which we should pursue, only instead of its being done occasionally it ought to be done according to system. Inducement should be held out to the men to volunteer, and if it were done he had no doubt that we should have satisfactory results. The inducement might be offered in various ways. In the first place, a bounty might be offered to volunteers from the Militia to the Line; and in the next place we ought to consider seriously the question whether a considerable difference ought not to be made between the pay of militiamen and that of regular soldiers. He did not desire to advance any scheme which would increase the Estimates, but he did think that if it should be found necessary to re-consider the pay of the Army, it should be borne in mind that the linesman, who was required to go anywhere and do everything, stood in the rank of a skilled artizan, and that there ought to be some difference in the amount of pay given to the skilled soldier and the half-trained militiaman. In all other trades and callings, a difference was made between unskilled labourers and skilled artizans, and these two classes were paid different rates of wages; but we found the same wages paid to the untrained militiaman and the skilled soldier. Different rates of pay to the privates prevailed in different branches of the Army. The trained Artilleryman received higher pay than the ordinary soldier: a like difference existed in respect of the Cavalry, and in like manner the pay of the soldier in the Line should be higher than that of the militiaman. He thought this principle was well worthy of consideration in connection with the question of drawing supplies from the latter service for the former. Again, under the present system we had two recruiting sergeants abroad, one for the Militia and the other for the Line competing for the same raw material—and the result of their competition was to promote desertion and fraudulent enlistment. It had been suggested to him by a gallant friend that as to recruiting for the Line, it was expedient that the brigade depôt should rather be a Militia institution than a Line institution, and he thought that it would follow as a natural consequence if the principle which he advocated should be adopted that a Militia training would have to be gone through. Another point had been suggested to him by a friend, and it was this. In many parts of England there were training ships for boys who were destined for the Navy, and it was considered that there might be with great advantage to the Army educational institutions which would, in fact, be the recruiting grounds for the Army. Whether that would be possible or not he could not pretend to say. It was a fact, however, that these training ships sent a great many of the very best lads into the Royal and mercantile services, though many of them came from the lowest part of the population, and from the same population they might train some very good soldiers. It was to the Militia that they must look for filling up the ranks of the Line, and for the Militia they should go to the great towns and their educational establishments. He hoped he had been guilty of no irregularity in making these suggestions, but he had been led to do so in consequence of his belief that the subject which he had ventured to bring under their Lordships' notice was one of great importance.

Moved that an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty for,

Return of orders issued in 1874 having respect to the regulations for recruiting the Army: Also,

Return of any instructions or orders which may have been issued in the year 1873 for calling out the Army Reserve: Also,

Return of the numbers who answered to such call of such orders or instructions when issued: Also,

Return showing the number of absentees in the several Militia regiments in Great Britain and Ireland at the training of 1873; the state of each regiment in this respect to be separately stated.—(The Lord Sandhurst.)


said, that in these times of progress a hundred years might seem to have been a very long time for anything to last, and for that time at least, according to the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Sandhurst), our present system of recruiting had been in operation; but as the present Government had been so short a time in office they might be excused if they said they were not prepared with any scheme to supersede that system. The subject of supplying the Army with men was a very important and a very difficult one, and the War Department were collecting all the facts they thought likely to assist them in coming to a sound conclusion on the question. When these facts had been obtained the Government would give the subject the most careful consideration, but at present they could not bind themselves to the acceptance of any particular scheme. He hoped, however, that the noble and gallant Lord would allow him to make a suggestive criticism on one or two of the points in the speech which he had addressed to their Lordships. The noble and gallant Lord said that at present there were two recruiting sergeants at work, recruiting sergeants from the Army and recruiting sergeants from the Militia competing for the same class. Now, he (the Earl of Pembroke) ventured to say that there was very great good in that system. We never should be able to get recruits from any other class while our system was not one of compulsory service; but in fact there was no competition, for though the recruiting sergeants from two Services drew their recruits from the same class, each drew from a different subdivision of that class. For the Militia men were obtained who had regular employment and who never would go into the Line, and for the Army men were got who had no regular employment and could not live on what was paid to a Militia man. That would be one great objection to passing all the men through the Militia. Under the present system many men volunteered from the Militia into the Line, and he did not see why that should not be encouraged. But there was mixed up in this matter a financial question, and if the present system should be altered as desired by the noble and gallant Lord, they would have to decrease the pay of the militiamen, or increase that of the linesmen, and he did not see at present how that could be done. Further, it appeared to him that, under such a system, while the Army was much increased, the Militia might be unduly increased. When the Returns moved for were laid on the Table their Lordships would see that the figures would show a favourable result. He need scarcely say that the Government had no objection to the Returns moved for by the noble and gallant Lord.


Your Lordships will, perhaps, expect me to say a few words after the constant references made to the late Government in the course of the able speech of the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Sandhurst); and I trust I may be allowed to commence by congratulating the noble Earl who represents the War Department in this House (the Earl of Pembroke), and expressing a hope that he may be entering on a long career which will be worthy of the name he bears. Well, now, my Lords, I am glad that I have no occasion to differ from the noble and gallant Lord in any of the principles he has laid down; indeed, the noble and gallant Lord, spoke in terms of general agreement with the policy of the late Government. With regard to his main proposal I quite sympathize with it, and I think I did my utmost—as the illustrious Duke on the cross-benches knows—to promote the best feeling between the Militia and the Line. But, my Lords, in these matters it is not what we would do; it is what we can do. We administer a volun- tary system, while I believe I am not misrepresenting the feeling of the noble and gallant Lord when I say that he is in favour of the system which exists on the Continent—compulsory service, I think, however, that the time is far distant when the system will commend itself to the English people, or be sanctioned by your Lordships' House. As far as we could do so by voluntary means we proceeded in the direction advocated by the noble and gallant Lord. You can only get a tax-paying population to proceed gradually in such matters; they will not go into them with military ardour. The noble and gallant Lord thinks that by recruiting from the Militia we shall get men for the Army. I only hope that his expectations may be realized. In fact, already a great number of men do, of their own free will, pass from the Militia into the Line. In the year 1871–72, the number of men who passed from the Militia to the Line was 3,734, and in the year 1872–73, it was 4,312; but you cannot make them pass from the Militia to the Line, if they do not wish to do it. If you adopted the suggestion of the noble and gallant Lord, and made the Militia merely a recruiting medium for the Army, it would not be what it is now—a substantial, effective, and most valuable force for the country in case of danger. I should like to know how you would induce men to enter the Militia if they were told it was only a recruiting medium for the Army? To so convert the Militia would appear to me—to use a common expression—killing the goose which lays the golden eggs. Within the limits of possibility for the time attainable, we have made the Militia a means of recruiting the Army, but we have not carried that principle to the extent of destroying the Militia itself as an actual defensive force. When the noble and gallant Lord speaks of the large number of men who have joined the Militia within the last 12 months, and of the small body in comparison who have joined the ranks of the Army, does he not perceive that that very fact is an evidence unequal inducements were offered, when the choice between the two services was presented? It was because of the preference for the domestic force, and for spending a great part of life in agricultural and domestic pursuits, that the smaller number of recruits joined the Army. You cannot compel men to join it; you can only offer them inducements to do so; and the inducements we have offered have produced their natural results. But the noble and gallant Lord has drawn a picture of the British Army which I venture to think is far too black, and which is not warranted by what it has done, and is doing at home and abroad. The Report of the Inspector General upon the Recruiting for the year has been laid upon your Lordships' Table, and does it appear from that there has been any difficulty in obtaining the requisite number of recruits? On the contrary, the Army was entirely full; the number of recruits obtained in 1873 was 17,000—about the same number as in 1868; the number was sufficient to keep up the Army to the establishment authorized by Parliament; but there really was no doubt that a larger number of men could have been obtained if the requirements of the service had called for them. The quality of the recruits is considered satisfactory, and the medical officers have in all cases reported themselves as satisfied with the general appearance of the men who have joined the several corps. There were 258 rejections made last year, and of this number, after further inquiry and examination, 117 were retained; so that only 141 recruits were lost to the service, which is less than 1 per cent of the total number of recruits for the year. Is it possible to say after this, that your Army consists of men whom you cannot trust, or that it is composed of waifs and strays? Waifs and strays they may be, but they are such waifs and strays as constituted the Army in the days of its glory. Some years ago, there was a Recruiting Commission, which recommended a great many changes, and such has been the improvement in our recruiting that all recruits are now sent by railway with tickets, but without escorts, to join their regiments, and the number of those who fail to make their appearance is really inconsiderable. It is impossible to say that waifs and strays of whom that is true are unworthy to enter the Army. The Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting concludes by remarking that not only is the recruiting for the British Army perfectly voluntary, but the standard for the Infantry—namely, 5 feet 5 inches—is considerably higher than in any other army of Europe, and that a slight reduction would considerably increase the number of recruits that might be raised. It is not a fair expression to say that the recruits for our Army are the waifs and strays of the population. In view of these facts, I say it is not necessary to take any desponding view of the experience of this country in raising recruits for the Army. I believe we are the most military people on the face of the earth, and that there is among us a patriotic spirit which will, under the control of Parliament, always raise the requisite number of recruits for the Army. With respect to the present proposal, I cannot recommend that we should discontinue recruiting for the Army, and that we should pass all our recruits through the ranks of the Militia. I think such a course would disorganize the Militia, and it would not supply the Army. On the other hand, it is desirable that there should be the closest connection—the most intimate intercourse—between the Militia and the Army. If that were brought about, as by a system of natural selection, you should get into the Army the men who are likely to be a real addition to its strength. Those who, upon trial, find they have mistaken their calling, and that they had better remain in civil life, will fall back into the Reserve, and only be called upon to serve in case of emergency, but will periodically receive the training they require to fit them for taking part in the defence of their country. I quite agree with all the principles the noble and gallant Lord has advocated; but I think he is too sanguine in supposing that by merely recruiting for the Militia you could obtain a number of men who could in time be added to the Army, and thus obtain a sufficient force for the Regular service of the country. I believe that the tastes of the two classes constituting each are entirely different. One young man will have a great desire to go into the Regular Army; another will wish to spend his time principally in civil pursuits, but to be trained with the Militia when it is called out, and so become a source of strength and security to our common country. If you endeavour to confuse these two classes, and say to the people—"You shall not have access to the ranks of the Army, except through those of the Militia," I believe, as I have said, the result will be to disorganize the Militia without increasing the strength of your Army.


My Lords, I agree with my noble and gallant Friend who introduced this subject that it is a most difficult one to deal with; and every time I hear it further discussed I am more and more impressed with its difficulty. In this country conscription is impossible, and without it many things which are desirable in our military organization are unattainable unless you add largely to the military expenditure of the country. The secret of the whole matter is, we are obliged to go into the labour market—we must find out what induces men to come into the service; and that is the reason why I have often said that all these changes must be of a tentative character. Change in itself is a bad thing, because the prospect of it unsettles men minds. It is singular how many men ask the recruiting sergeant pertinent questions as to their future prospects. They do not like liability to change, and they attach such importance to regulations as to clothing and to other minute details, that these seem greatly to influence their determination, and possibly to deter some men from joining the Army. Consequently, I say that all experiments ought to be tentative, and we ought to be guarded about making changes unless we are quite satisfied that what we are doing is really the readiest and cheapest way of obtaining the men we want. In regard to what was said by the noble Lord who spoke last (Viscount Cardwell), let me say that as regards numbers, no doubt, we are able to get as many recruits as we require; but, as regards their efficiency, I will explain to your Lordships my view. The change of short service for long has made a great difference, and has made many commanding officers dissatisfied with the state of their regiments. The reason is very obvious. I do not believe the recruits are at all different from what they have been in the past—they are from exactly the same class of men; but the number of recruits in a regiment is greater. When I entered the Army under the long service system there would be from 20 to 40 young recruits in a regiment, and they could be so disposed of in various duties—and if taken out to drill kept in the rear rank—that they were lost sight of, and the fact of their presence was scarcely known. Now, under short service, young men come in much more quickly; and, instead of 20 or 40, you have from 100 to 150 in a regiment, and they are not so easily disposed of. One way in which deterioration exhibits itself is this—the young men are sooner fatigued by carrying weights and marching long distances than the older soldiers used to be; but, of course, it was to be foreseen that short service would have this effect. Of course it is essential to the health of the men that they should not be sent to India until they are over 20, but the difficulty of obtaining recruits who are over 20 is not to be conceived. A man at 20 has made up his mind as to his future career; but a lad of 17 or 18 has not done so, and these are the men we have to recruit from the labour market. Besides, the men you do get generally at 20 are an inferior stamp of men, they are too often broken-down men; whereas a fresh lad of 18, if he get food enough, may become a strong man. The difference between conscription and voluntary enlistment presses exactly at that point. The disadvantages I have alluded to are very great, and they tell, as I have said, more on a voluntary service than on a service by conscription. Therefore I hope my noble Friend who spoke last will permit me to correct him on one point—the physical power of our regiments is less now than it was in former times; but that cannot be obviated, unless you go into the labour market and compete there with other employers of labour. There is another matter to which I will now refer, and that is the suggestion that we should have training schools for our Army on the same principle as we have training ships for our Navy. There is, however, this important difference between the two cases—in the Navy you can employ a large number of lads in the ships, but you cannot do so in the Army. If you take 4,000 or 5,000 boys into the Army you must displace 4,000 or 5,000 men, and though you may not give the boys the same pay as the full-grown soldier, still you will have their other expenses, and in the end the cost would not be very much less than if you were to pay as many full-grown soldiers. Of course, if you carry on the enlistment of your Army without regard to expense, the case will be very different, and you may obtain a very valuable force in the way suggested. In that way you would get excellent noncommissioned officers. One of our great difficulties at present is to find good non-commissioned officers. Those we now have are most valuable men, but they go away as fast as you give them leave, and then you have only young men to put in their places, who have not the stability of the old non-commissioned officers we used to have in the long-service days. But if you enlist a certain proportion of the men for long service, you may perhaps be able to secure a supply of non-commissioned officers of a superior class. As to what has been said about the Militia and the Line, they have both been brought very closely together—and the more closely, in my opinion, the better for both. The noble and gallant Lord (Lord Sandhurst) has recommended that enlistment for the Militia should go on, while recruiting for the Army should cease. I do not think that system would be feasible in our Service. If you go into the market you will find a certain proportion of men who would never enlist as soldiers, but who are quite ready to join the Militia. I think, then, it would be a false stop to take, not to keep up recruiting for both services. But certainly I do not see, if you could so arrange it, why men after six years' service in the British Army should not, by some means, be brought into relation with the Militia. That is a mere thought of my own, which I throw out for your Lordships' consideration, for I feel that the more suggestions are put forward on these matters the better may be the ultimate result. With regard to the Reserve, I quite feel the difficulty. If a man goes into the Reserve he probably has some trade, and if you interfere with him in the exercise of that trade, you will not get him to go into the Reserve. You must, therefore, treat him very cautiously, and tenderly, for if you call him out for drill very often, if he does not object himself, his employer will object for him. There is, therefore, a great difficulty in the way. Nobody has been more anxious to induce men in the Reserve to come out for training at the manœuvres than my noble Friend who last addressed your Lordships, but they have not responded to the call satisfactorily. You cannot expect to bring out your Reserves strongly very often; but I do think they should be obliged to undergo a course of training on the same principle as the Militia do, The militiaman goes out for training for 28 days in every year, and every Reserve man who receives 4d. a-day pay ought to be brought out occasionally, and if we could only bring them out for a short time every two or three years, it would be an immense advantage to the Service and to the men themselves. We must be very tender in our dealings with the Militia; it is an old constitutional force—it is the second line of defence of the country—and nothing would be worse than to make commanding officers feel that they were mere recruiters for the Line. But, still, I think they would be willing to give us every assistance in their power. I do not think I am called upon to say anything more, but I feel sure that it is of great advantage that the subject which has been brought under your Lordships' notice should be thoroughly considered. At present our measures are tentative, and whether we have got the proper number of men the future must decide. I am told that the race is degenerating, but I deny it in toto. We have in the police throughout the country a fine body of men; they are of the class which used to come into the Guards and the Artillery; but we have great difficulty in getting this sort of men now. But, as I have said before, it is all a question of the labour-market.


thought their Lordships were much indebted to the illustrious Duke for the expression of his opinion upon this important subject. He wished to say that, in his opinion, the plan enunciated by the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Sandhurst) would not work at all well. It would never do to convert the Militia into a mere recruiting body for the Line. If this were done it would be difficult to obtain commanding officers for the Militia, because they would naturally object to their men being taken away from them as soon as they were trained. The district of the Militia which he had the honour to command happened to be one of the largest recruiting grounds for the Army, and he had never heard of any difficulty arising in consequence. The recruiting sergeants had very quick eyes and very long ears, and as soon as they saw anyone who was about to join the Militia, they said to him—"Why join the sham; why not come into the real?" But somehow or other they found the militiaman's ears were quite as long as their own, and he was quite sure that at least 75 per cent of the Militia in his district had not the slightest intention of joining the Army. There was another point which a recruit felt very sore upon, and that was his liability of being drafted from one regiment into another after he had joined the Army; he said—"What is the use of joining one regiment, when perhaps in a very short time I shall be drafted to some other one? We will go to any part of the world with our own regiment, but we refuse to join another." There was this to be said in favour of the long-service system—that when the man was once enlisted, he did not look to going back into any trade—the Service was his trade, and therefore—especially if he was a Scotchman—he looked forward to a soldier's life and a soldier's pension. The system of stoppages was a great detriment to enlistment. The first thing a young recruit was told was that he would be stopped 1d. a-day until he had paid 18s. 6d,.—namely, 10s. for "enrolment money," 5s. for "bringing money," 2s. 6d. for the doctor, and 1s. for medical examination; whereas he had himself received only 10s. enrolment bounty, and the rest was paid to other persons. This he felt to be a grievance, and to avoid it enlisted fraudulently. The recruit naturally objected to these stoppages. Another grievance was that when the men were enlisted for six years, the clothes served out to them would not last above five, and he had known some men who were perfectly ashamed to put on the miserable worn-out clothing of other men which was served out to them. Such things as these could easily be remedied, and their removal would tend very much to popularize the Service. He quite agreed that young men, after a couple of years' service, were much superior to others; but he did not think it would be advisable to attempt a system of recruiting from the Militia. He was in favour of maintaining the Militia as a second and independent line of defence.


said, there was an almost complete unanimity of opinion on many of the principal points which had been discussed, and he had very little to add to what had been said by his noble Friend (Viscount Cardwell). With regard to the question of recruiting, we had the tes- timony of the responsible officer at the War Office and of the present Secretary of State for War that recruits were forthcoming in sufficient numbers. As to their quality, their Lordships had the advantage of the opinion of the illustrious Duke on the cross-benches, who had explained the great difficulty of obtaining under a system of short service the necessary requisites in the recruits. But, however great that difficulty might be, the older men, who were regarded as the mainstay of the British Army, although they had ceased to serve under the colours, were still available in the Reserve. Nor must it be forgotten that it had always been intended that a fair proportion of the men serving in the ranks should be long and not short service men. In regard to the height of recruits, it was extremely important to bear in mind that our standard was considerably higher than that of any other European Army. If the standard were slightly reduced, recruits would come in in large numbers. With regard to a remark of the noble Duke who spoke last (the Duke of Buccleuch), he had to remind the House that the system of recruiting for the general service was instituted on the recommendation of the Royal Commission of 1866, and that a slight departure was made from that principle in consequence of a feeling which prevailed throughout the Army. It was true that a man who enlisted in a particular brigade objected to being transferred to another, but recent alterations would give to the recruit a security that his service would be continued in the brigade to which he gave his choice. With regard to the Reserve Force, the noble and gallant Lord had expressed an opinion that they would not be forthcoming when called out, but the fact was, in the cases referred to by the noble and gallant Lord, the Reserve men had not been "called out" under the terms of the statute, but merely invited as volunteers to take a part in the Autumn Manœuvres, and it was true that only a small number answered to the call. He thought that the powers given to the Government in this respect were capable of considerable improvement. As to the alteration in the term of service referred to by the noble Duke (the Duke of Buccleuch), the financial effects of the recent changes had been thoroughly investigated, and he had been informed, on the best official authority, that those effects were, upon the whole, not unfavourable to the men, whose loss, by the substitution of six years for a five years' term, was fully compensated by the increase in their pay consequent upon the alteration in the system of stoppages.


said, he was glad to find that the present system was to be regarded as only tentative. He admitted that the recent regulations were a slight improvement on the previous ones, but he was nevertheless unable to see how it was possible to carry on a double system of enlistment in the same regiment. One man enlisted for long service and a pension, while another, perhaps from the same village, enlisted for short service and no prospect of a pension whatever. He hoped the proportions, at least, would be altered, and that there would be a majority in favour of long service instead of short service. He considered the noble and gallant Lord who had moved for these Returns had done good service to the Army by ventilating the subject, but he did not believe that the proposition of the noble and gallant Lord that enlistments should be made only through the Militia could be right. He believed that plan would entirely disorganize the Militia without doing any good to the Army.


thought that without pension it would be almost impossible to get a necessary supply of soldiers—he was convinced they would have to be allowed in some shape or other. Pension was practically abolished in consequence of the large proportion of short service men enlisted—it was now no longer a right but a privilege, in spite of the understandings and of the communications which had taken place between the noble Lord and Lord Northbrook. The Inspector General stated in his last Report that he looked with the greatest apprehension to the consequences which might ensue in 1876 from the drafting of a large number of troops suddenly into the Reserve. He regretted to say that the first thing which the Secretary for War did on his accession to office was to extend the short-service system to the Cavalry and Artillery. Every cavalry officer would bear witness that after serving six years a trooper was in his prime—if that were so, how much more did it apply to Artillerymen, whose duties were so multifarious, and whose value in these times could not be over-stated. The proportions, too, for these arms were the same as for infantry, which required explanation, and which most military men would condemn. He was told that that step would cause numerous desertions from the Cavalry and Artillery. Nothing was so bad as the frequent changes that were made in the Army Regulations. Since the Army Regulation Act had been passed, every year witnessed some change—circulars and counter-circulars were being constantly issued. Nothing could be more injurious to the Service than these repeated changes. He hoped that the whole question of the organization of the Army would be reconsidered by the Government.


said, the late Secretary for "War by a Memorandum abolished long service with pensions, and substituted short service without pensions. That he considered amounted to a breach of faith with the Army. He felt it his duty on many previous occasions thus to describe that step of the late Secretary for War. It would be ruinous to the Army. Nothing was more dangerous with regard to the class of men who composed the Army as to inspire fear that faith would be broken with them in respect of their pensions.


believed the noble and gallant Lord who had just spoken was under some misapprehension with reference to what had been done by his noble Friend the late Secretary for War.


said, that the noble Lord was under an entire misapprehension in thinking that the War Office had departed from engagements in the matter to which he had referred.


My Lords, I confess I heard with some astonishment the expressions which fell from my noble and gallant Friend (Lord Strathnairn), and which I cannot but think were somewhat of an exaggerated character. I regretted to hear him charge a Department of Government, or those who have been in high positions in the Department, with a breach of faith towards this House and towards the country. On former occasions it was my fortune, whether good or bad, to differ often from the policy inaugurated by the noble Lord who now sits opposite (Viscount Cardwell); but I never found, in the manner in which he or the noble Lord who was Under Secretary for State, conducted the affairs of the country, the smallest tittle of ground for asserting that there was any breach of confidence or breach of faith. Some things that were done may have seemed to me very wrong or very foolish; but I am certain they were always done in a most straightforward and honest manner. So much as to the personal aspect which unhappily has been given to this discussion. With regard to the general question that has been brought under the consideration of your Lordships, it appears to me that there is a misapprehension as to the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in reference to it. Some persons seem to imagine that the first thing the new Secretary of State for War ought to do is to upset everything which he finds his predecessor has established, and to inaugurate a new system. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War received the seals of his Office, I think, on the 21st of February; and in the three short months which have since elapsed he could not possibly have acquired all the information necessary to enable him to deal with so vast a question as the entire system of recruiting and the re-organization of the whole Army. I do not say that changes may not have to be made. The illustrious Duke at the head of the Army has pointed out—what I think is admitted—that the present system of recruiting is a tentative system, and that if short service without pension is found to be unsuccessful, we shall have to resort to longer service with pension. But I wish to leave my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War perfectly free in the matter, and I would deprecate the notion that he ought to seek to undo what his Predecessor has done, without having first of all acquired the knowledge necessary to enable him to act with judgment, and without being prepared to propose a system which he can conscientiously say he believes to be the best suited for the country. I do not propose to go into the various points which have been raised by the noble and gallant Lord who brought forward the subject. I confess that some of them appeared to me to be rather of a theoretical than of a practical character. No doubt, however, the subject is well worthy of our attention, and the Returns for which the noble and gallant Lord has moved will, to a certain extent, give information where it is needed.

Motion agreed to.