§ LORD STRATHNAIRN
, in rising to move an Address to Her Majesty for Correspondence relating to General Order 39 and General Order 62, and for the production of the latter General Order, said, his reason for submitting the Motion to the House was this—Their Lordships would, no doubt, recollect that in the de-bate which ensued on Lord Sandhurst's Motion on the 1st of June, Lord Hardinge, in expressing his regret that the first act of the new Secretary of State for War should have been to extend to the Cavalry and Artillery the short service system without pension, alluded to the fact that the soldier could no longer look with certainty to the pension—that it was a favour and a privilege in spite of the communications that took place between Lord Northbrook and himself (Lord Strathnairn). As he said at the time, he had not intended taking part in the discussion, because he proposed submitting to their Lordships in the course of the Session the unfavourable results of the theoretical or experimental system which the late War Department had introduced into the Army. Having, however, been thus personally referred to by his noble Friend, he thought it due to him and to the all-important cause of the soldiers pensions, the best guarantee of their discipline, their esprit de corps, and moral welfare, and also the only safe and practicable substitute for conscription, to confirm Lord Hardinge's statements by his (Lord Strathnairn's) confirmation, rather than weaken them 482 by his silence. He would, therefore, adduce as an unmistakable cause of the soldier's mistrust in pensions the General Order of the 5th of May, 1871, which discontinued the Long Service Act with pension, which was a breach of official good faith. The representative of the War Office (Lord Northbrook) gave on the 26th of July, 1870, in their Lordships' House, and afterwards in Committee, official and positive assurances that that Act should continue in its entirety—that was, its integrity—and not be interfered with by the Short Service Act without pension, of which the noble Lord moved the second reading that day. In that sense, the Commander-in-Chief, who spoke next to Lord Northbrook, stated that, on that account, that was the joint action of the two Bills—which His Royal Highness appropriately designated as proceeding pari passû—he would vote for the second reading. The words "pari passû" were not reported, but noble Lords, as well as himself, heard them, and the illustrious Duke had kindly and graciously informed him that he did use them. The name of Lord Northbrook was prominently mentioned in this question; and in fairness he ought to state that, in his humble opinion, any responsibility attaching to the subject should belong exclusively to his official superior—the more so, because Lord Northbrook was absent and could not defend himself, whilst the noble Viscount (Viscount Cardwell) was present and could defend himself. It was due to himself (Lord Strathnairn), and the cause which he advocated, to say that whilst he thanked two noble Lords for the courtesy with which they conveyed their impressions that in making his statements, he laboured under misapprehension, he was unable, in deference to fact, to accept their interpretation of his words. Still less could he accept the tone of reproof, the expression of astonishment, and, particularly, the epithet "exaggerated," with which the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) thought proper to characterize those statements. A reference to the debates would show that he rather understated than overstated the case of "disregarded engagements," and that it was neither-just nor consistent in the noble Duke to blame him for language and opinions with regard to them, when he himself pronounced, on the 8th of June, 1871, 483 serious censure of the disregard by the War Office of their assurances in favour of the Long Service Act with pension. He ventured to think that oblivion of that censure must have stolen over the noble Duke's memory, when the other day, on the 1st of June, he said—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."—[3 Hansard, ccxix. 748.]He begged to add that the noble Duke was under misapprehension in blaming his noble Friend and himself for having found fault with the new Secretary of State for War for not having at once completely changed and upset the policy of Ms Predecessor. So irrational and unfair a thought never crossed their minds. The circumstance which did elicit their regrets was not that he had held the wise position of the "statu quo," till he had had time to inquire, reflect, and make up his mind as to future measures or changes, but that he had left that position, advanced and broken fresh and dangerous ground, hitherto untried, by extending the short service to the Cavalry and Artillery. On referring to Hansard he found that Lord Northbrook, besides the formal assurances he gave in favour of the integrity of long service with pension, added that it was to be supplemented by the short service without pension—that was, that the two were to co-operate—and, further, that he had sought the advice of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief. Then followed the illustrious Duke, abounding in the same sense. His whole speech forcibly demonstrated the necessity, in the interests of recruiting, of the pari passû principle, and that the short service should not be left without the assistance of the long service. It was, therefore, incontrovertible that the General Order of the 5th of May contradicted and nullified the assurances given to Parliament by His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief and the War Office; that the operation of the two enactments was to be a pari passû one; and that such official contradictions relating to matters of the deepest interest to soldiers, combined with speeches and pamphlet schemes which had found too much favour at the War Office, had infused into the minds of the classes 484 from whence they came, and the old soldiers who caused them, a fatal mistrust in War Office measures. But there was another result of these official contradictions which he ventured to think nearly concerned their Lordships, and which transpired in the debate on the Earl of Longford's Motion of the 8th of June, 1871—namely, that these contradictions caused noble Lords to vote against their intentions—yes, their convictions. He begged to quote Lord North-brook's reply to the Duke of Richmond's, and Lord Hardinge's charge. It did not, in any way, disprove it. The powers given to the War Office did not enable them to break or disregard the pari passû engagement. He now came to the conversation with Lord North-brook, mentioned by Lord Hardinge. After he had become aware of the General Order of the 5th of May, he (Lord Strathnairn) appealed to Lord North-brook for the restoration of the pension to the Army in urgent language, but which was justified by its truth and its necessity—the necessity being the safety of two State interests—Pension the best guarantee of the Army discipline. The copy of a letter to the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Lansdowne) would afford their Lordships the best information on this phase of the question. But the General Order of the 7th of August, 1871, which his noble Friend was so good as to send him was a great disappointment to his expectation, that the long-service enactment with pension was to be restored. The General Order merely reiterated the General Order of the 5th of May, with the exception that the words "without pension" were omitted. But the pension was so limited and restricted, by conditions and reserves, that it represented exactly the pension described in Parliament as required by the interests of finance, and only intended for non-commissioned officers and specially selected men, and not for the soldiers generally, who, free from acts of turpitude, and subject only to human feelings, had done very good service to their Queen and country; in short, the soldiers who had gained pensions under that immortal leader, the Duke of Wellington. The unfavourable results of this policy, since its introduction, were an alarming, an annually increasing amount of desertions from the first-class Army Reserves. An organization 485 which could never succeed, because it was based on great anomalies and on an unwise and expensive economy which caused a perpetual conflict between different and urgent interests. The results of those connections and of the Reserve soldiers serving without any incentive to good were an alarming amount of annually increasing desertion, once held in a British Army to be one of the most serious crimes a man could commit. And that the first-class Army Reserve, to which the country had to look for defence in case of invasion, or whose duty it would be, in times of great emergency, to reinforce our Army abroad, had little or no drill and instruction, was shown by an official War Office Re-turn, which stated that from 1871 to 31st March 1872, this Reserve had had no instruction. Other circumstances damaging still more the Reserves were—1st. The conifiction of interests he had mentioned. There was the State interest, the efficiency of the Reserve; then there was the interest of the Civil employers, who were averse to employing a man whose services with them would suffer from military duties which might call him away from them. It was not surprising that the Reserve should be almost useless in England, and dangerous in Ireland. Then, there was the interest of the soldier who had to make up his livelihood from 4d. to 2s. 6d. per day. The Reserve soldier would have no esprit de corps, and his discipline, which was under no control, must, he thought, suffer. Add to this that the quarterly pay given him, in anticipation, on the first day of each quarter, had all the bad effects of bounty on his habits; although the noble Viscount abolished bounty, on account of all the bad effects, which, he said, it caused in the Army. Still, as an attraction to soldiers of regiments to enter the Reserves, a lump sum of money—three months' pay—was given them in anticipation. Excesses, money lost or misspent, and bad habits were the consequence. The best evidence on this head said that recruiting had no worse enemy than these Reserve men. With all the signs of destitution about them, they frequented the beer-houses or places of resort of their class, and used disparaging language with regard to the Government, which they declared had brought them to this sad state. What a 486 contrast with the pensioners of former days—the men who not having committed an act of turpitude, and with no other feelings than those common to all, but who had served long and faithfully, and fought with such success under the Duke of Wellington, were considered deserving of pensions. The English, although as adverse as any people to a Pension List, had always cheerfully paid the soldiers their pension. And there was, perhaps, no more popular sight in England, or one more favourable to recruiting, than the pensioner in his parish church, with his medals, and their recollections, surrounded by kith and kin, thanking Heaven for having brought him safe to a humble although happy home and independence, through all the dangers of war and sickness in the various parts of the globe where the service of the British soldier led him, and for having blessed him with a grateful Sovereign and a generous country.
§ Moved that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for, Any correspondence relating to
§ "General Orders by His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief.
§ G.O. 39. Recruiting.
§ (Specially issued 5th May 1871.)
§ "Until further orders enlistments for the Foot Guards and Infantry of the Line are to he short service enlistments, i.e., for six years army service and six years reserve service without pension:"
§ And also any correspondence relating to
§ "General Order by His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding in Chief, 1st of August 1871.
§ G.O. 62. Recruiting."
§ And that General Order itself.—(The Lord Strathnairn.)
§ VISCOUNT CARDWELL
said, that, as far as he had been able to follow the noble and gallant Lord, his speech might be divided into two parts. The first part seemed to be a personal attack directed against himself on account of a speech made by Lord Northbrook four years ago, the accuracy of which had never been questioned by the noble and gallant Lord during the interval. He understood the noble and gallant Lord to admit that the governing words—the words on which the charge was founded—did not appear in the reports of Lord Northbrook's speech; he had also referred to a conversation which he supposed to have passed between Lord Northbrook and himself, of which he 487 (Lord Cardwell) had never heard, and which, with great deference to the noble Lord, he ventured to say had never occurred at all in the manner in which he had understood it. He could not understand why, during these years, the noble Lord had maintained an unbroken silence, and why he had never asked a question on the subject until Lord Northbrook had gone to a distant part of the Empire, where he could be asked no questions and give no explanations. Lord Northbrook appeared to have told the noble Lord, both publicly and privately, that it was intended to maintain the system both of long and short service, and that the short service was intended to be maintained as supplementary and complementary to the system of long service. Well, that was exactly what had been done. The noble Lord had, however, formed the erroneous impression that it was imperative upon the Secretary of State for War, under the Act of Parliament when determining the particular period of enlistment for any branch of the Service, to maintain simultaneously, at all times, both the long and the short service system, whether desirable, at the particular time, for that branch of the Service or not. No such idea could possibly have been conveyed or intended to be conveyed by Lord Northbrook either to the noble Lord or to anyone else. What he did say no doubt, and with perfect accuracy was, that the two systems of long and short service would always be maintained; that there never would be a time when they would not be maintained concurrently; and to this hour they had been and were maintained concurrently. It was true that, with regard to the Foot Guards and Infantry of the Line it was found that from the date of the passing of the Act of Parliament up to the date of issuing the General Order of May 5, 1871, that a large number of men had been taken for long service and only a small number for short service; and consequently the prospects of the Reserve were not so good as could be desired. It was therefore considered necessary that the recruiting for long service for the Infantry and Foot Guards should be suspended for a time; but recruiting, for long service only, was going on as usual for the other branches of the Service, and it was not till April in the present year that 488 short service was introduced at all for the other branches of the Army. It was true, therefore, that in May, 1871, a General Order was issued putting an end to all enlistments for long service for the Foot Guards and Infantry of the Line for a limited time, but that Order, in the form it was first issued, was not approved, and was consequently cancelled; and in the form in which it was subsequently issued, it went on to say—Men enlisted for short service will have no right to remain in army service for more than six years, but the privilege of remaining in army service for the whole term of 12 years will he allowed to such men as may be specially recommended. Men allowed to remain in army service for the whole term of 12 years will, subject to the provisions of the 8th section of the Army Enlistment Act, 1870, be allowed to reengage to make up a total continuous period of 21 years in Her Majesty's service, at the conclusion of which they will become entitled to pension.That formed the subject of a revised General Order; and he ventured to say that Lord Northbrook, who was a party to that General Order, never, from the date of its issue to the period of his departure to India, intended to convey, and never did convey, any impression in the slightest degree at variance with that General Order. He did not intend, on that occasion, to go at any further length into the subject than was necessary to answer certain observations of the noble Lord. He understood the latter part of the noble Lord's speech to be a complaint of the policy which Parliament had adopted when they passed the Act introducing the system of short service. He believed, and he thought it was their Lordships' opinion also, that if we were to have a Continental war, and had only such an Army as the country was willing to pay for during the time of peace—if we had an Army without trained Reserves to supply vacancies—we should have a repetition of those disasters—or perhaps worse—with which we had been made too familiar during the Crimean campaign; that an Army without a Reserve was comparatively of very little value, and that if we were to avoid a repetition of these disasters, we must always carefully prepare our Reserves in time of peace. Well, there was no known way of having a Reserve that could be brought forward in time of war except by inducing men to enlist for a short service in time of peace. It was 489 necessary for that purpose to adopt short service for a portion of the British Army, and he had no apprehension that their Lordships would be induced to depart from it. The noble Lord further alleged that notwithstanding the condemnation of bounties, they were continued to the Reserve. There could scarcely be, however, two things more distinct than the pay of the men of the Reserve and the bounty given to recruits, which the noble Lord had appeared to confound. The latter was an inducement to the recruit to enter the service of his country for a long time. It was usually spent in dissipation and drink, and was productive of the greatest mischief. It was a fruitful source of desertion, for the recruit frequently only enlisted for the purpose of obtaining the bounty, and he deserted as soon as the money had been spent, and so toties quoties. But what was the bounty of the Reserve, as it had been called by the noble Lord? It was a payment of 4d. a-day, in consideration of which the man offered his services to his country whenever an emergency should arise. Was it possible to conceive two payments more distinct in character or more opposed to each other? One gave every motive to profligacy and desertion; while the other supplied a man with a motive to prudence and patriotic devotion to the service of his country. The noble Lord said that there had been no training of the Reserve men during the last three years. It was true that the War Office had not called them into training. The Reserve proper could scarcely be said, as yet, to have come into existence. Parliament only passed the Act creating that Force in 1870, and as the period of service was for six years it was not until the year 1876 and following years that the real effect of the Act would be visible. It was true, nevertheless, that there had been some partial result from the Act. When he last looked at the Returns the Reserve consisted of about 7,000 men. It had not been necessary to call them out, for who were these men? Many of them had seen considerable service in the Army. It would have been a great hardship to call them out for training at a period when labour was unusually remunerative; and while it would be a loss to them to withdraw them from civil employment, their knowledge of warfare was quite sufficient 490 to justify the War Office in relying upon their services in case of emergency. Another reason was that the brigade depôts were not yet generally formed, and these were intended to be the places of training for the Reserve. When it was necessary to call them out they could be trained at the brigade depôts with the least expense to the country and the least inconvenience to themselves. The noble Lord said that these men of the Reserve were traversing the country and complaining of their evil fortune. He had never heard this before; and it was new to him to be told that a bonâ fide Reserve man was likely to complain that his country paid him id. a day, and required no duty from him which would interfere with any employment in civil life. The noble Lord also complained that no pensions were given, and that therefore no old pensioners were to be found testifying to the bounty of a grateful country. If, however, he would consider the subject for a moment, he would see that you could not give a pension for short service. It was necessary, in order to entitle to a pension, the man must have enlisted for long-service; and such a pensioner was no longer competent to the service which the Reserve man was intended to fulfil. There was no analogy between the two cases—there was nothing but contrast. A pension was given for services already performed; and if the War Office gave money to men of the Reserve, it was because it looked forward to days yet to be spent in the service of the country. The truth was that the country wanted both descriptions of soldiers—the pensioners for long service, and the short service men for the Reserve, and under the system to which the noble Lord was now objecting, the country, for the first time, would have both. Their Lordships and the country had adopted this policy, and all that remained was that the Executive should apportion the number discreetly, according to the varying wants of the Service. He had no doubt that this was what Lord Northbrook told the noble Lord it was the intention of the Government to do, and he would put it to their Lordships whether, when only long service men were wanted in any particular arm, the Government ought to go on taking short service men; or whether, when only short service men 491 were wanted, the Government should go on taking long-service men.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
said, that as the very few words which he had uttered in the previous debate had brought upon him a personal attack from his noble and gallant Friend (Lord Strathnairn), he should not be worthy the place he had the honour to hold if he did not attempt to put himself straight, and to justify himself with their Lordships in regard to a statement to which he adhered at the present moment. With regard to the noble and gallant Lord's Motion for Correspondence connected with the General Order from the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, he understood from his noble Friend the Under Secretary for War that no such Correspondence existed, and it was therefore impossible it should be produced. With regard to the General Order itself, it formed part of those issued by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and had just been read by the noble Viscount. There could, therefore, be no difficulty in laying it on the Table. With regard to the general question raised by the Motion—it was a very serious charge to bring against a Member of either that or the other House of Parliament, who held high official position, to state that he had been guilty of a breach of faith, and no such charge should ever be made unless it could be fully and completely substantiated; and reference to the speeches of Lord North-brook, as reported in Hansard, showed that there was no foundation for the charge the noble Lord had now made against him. He admitted that when his noble and gallant Friend the other night charged Lord Northbrook with a breach of faith, he described the charge as a very exaggerated one. The question arose out of the proposals that long and short service should go on pari passû. When the Short Service Act of 1870 was introduced, the Government which proposed it imagined that the whole of the Army would be enlisted for long and short service, enlistment for which was to go on pari passû. For himself, he thought it dealt with long and short service alike, and if he had not believed it to be so, perhaps he should not have supported it. It was very curious that, on the Motion of Lord Longford, the discussion on the Bill turned upon the question whether the long and short service 492 system should go on together? After what Lord Northbrook then said, he appealed to their Lordships whether his noble and gallant Friend was not chargeable with exaggeration when he founded upon that debate a charge of breach of faith? What was done was carried out in the most open manner—not by the Secretary of State, but by the Commander-in-Chief. As a General Order it was known in every barrack-yard in the country, and it was carried into effect in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Service. Having quoted the words used by Lord Northbrook in 1871, the noble Duke contended that it could not be argued, without exaggeration, that Lord Northbrook had been guilty of a breach of faith. The Government of which he was a Member had only acted as it had all along intended to act; and Lord Northbrook, if now present, would demur, as he had done in 1871, to the charge that he had committed a breach of faith. He would not follow his noble and gallant Friend into an examination of the military policy of the late Government. He did not always agree with them in the military line they had taken; but when his noble and gallant Friend blamed the present Government for applying short service to the Cavalry and Artillery, he would remind him that when the present Secretary of State for War came into office he found that the Warrant or Order was on the very eve of going out. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) coming now into office, and having then only an imperfect knowledge of the subject, did not feel himself justified in interposing to prevent the Warrant from going out, but reserved to himself the right of watching the Order, and dealing with it as he should see fit after he had had sufficient time to consider the merits or demerits of the short time system. He regretted that a discussion of a personal character should have compelled him again to advert to this subject.
§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
said, that the statement of his noble and gallant Friend (Lord Strathnairn) as to what had passed on the second reading of the Enlistment Act was perfectly true, and it had been corroborated by the noble Duke the President of the Council. The Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief told their Lordships that he certainly 493 understood Lord Northbrook to promise that short and long service enlistment should go on pari passû, and also that soldiers who should enlist for the long service of 12 years should have the right to re-engage; and that those who enlisted for short service—that was who enlisted for six years' service in the Army and six years' Reserve, would have a right to re-enlist and go in for a pension. That right had been taken away from them, and it was no longer a right, but a special privilege.
§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
believed that a soldier must now be specially recommended by his commanding officer for a pension, and he could not therefore conceive how it could still be spoken of as a right. What his noble and gallant Friend (Lord Strathnairn) complained of was, that the late Government had stayed all opposition to their Enlistment Bill on the distinct understanding that long and short service enlistment should go on pari passû, and that soldiers should have the right to re-engage and to serve for a pension; whereas, from the 5th May, 1871, to 5th May, 1872, all soldiers were enlisted for short service, and there were now 23,000 men in the Service who had no right to a pension. He would not go into the question of the Reserve, and he agreed with the noble Duke that "breach of faith" was too strong a term. The Lord President, however, himself admitted that the understanding existed, and that all opposition to the second reading was withdrawn in consequence of the assurances then given.
said, that the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Strathnairn) had charged Lord Northbrook with having deceived Parliament.
Certainly not willingly. As to this, the character of the noble Lord was alone sufficient to prevent the slightest doubt, and the vindication of the late Government from any intention of misleading Parliament was complete; but, at the same time, he felt bound to say that he concurred in thinking that there had been some misunderstanding in that House as to the course contemplated by the Government in consequence of what had been said. He also thought 494 the noble Viscount (Viscount Cardwell) had not succeeded in making out a satisfactory case as to the effects on the state of the Army of what he had done as Secretary of State. This was a subject of very great importance, and he could not banish from his mind a statement to which their Lordships listened not a month ago. Upon a discussion, raised by Lord Sandhurst, the illustrious Duke Commanding-in-Chief stated that the physical strength of the battalions was not what it used to be, and, further, that there was great difficulty in obtaining the services of duly-qualified non-commissioned officers. He had, he said, only "young fellows" to replace the present non-commissioned officers, and they had not the solidity of non-commissioned officers of former time". This last was a very serious matter, seeing how much the efficiency of an Army depended upon the non-commissioned officers. Nor was it less serious that there should be a falling off in the strength of the battalions, which could not be doubted when they remembered that, whereas formerly, under the system of long service, a battalion contained from 20 to 40 youths who had not reached their full strength, now under the short service system a battalion would contain from 100 to 150 young soldiers, it was not to be wondered at—as Has Royal Highness had told them—that our troops of to-day were physically inferior to what our troops were formerly. Again, there was a serious doubt whether the inducement offered to men to join the Army was sufficient; and this doubt was strongly expressed in the Report made by the Inspector General in January, 1872. It should be remembered that a soldier was called upon to devote the whole of the best years of his life to the service of the State, and that when he was practically deprived of the right of earning a pension, not only had he no prospect afterwards, but the service in which he had been engaged had in itself a tendency to unfit him for the advantages of civil life, of which he might otherwise have been able to avail himself. He found, too, in the latest Report of the Inspector General the same doubt expressed. Indeed, that high authority, while stating that though hitherto we had succeeded in obtaining a sufficient number of recruits, said it was a matter of serious anxiety how the system would 495 answer in time of war—and, particularly after 1876, when the system authorized by the Act would first come fully into operation. We had, therefore, these facts on the highest military authority—that there was difficulty in keeping up the numbers of our battalions—that though we got recruits in sufficient numbers, a large proportion of our battalions was composed of youths unfit for active service—and that it was doubtful how far even such a supply of recruits as they now had would continue should we become engaged in a war. From what his noble Friend behind him had said, it was evident that the Reserve on which we were asked to rely so much existed, to a great extent, in imagination only.
§ VISCOUNT CARDWELL
said, he had said nothing that was open to this interpretation. What he had said was that the Reserve consisted at present of 7,000 men, and that there was a large number of soldiers who would join the Reserve in the year 1876. He did not say they existed in imagination. He said they existed under the colours.
acknowledged that the word "imagination" was incorrectly applied; but he would have been perfectly right if he had said that our Reserve existed only in "anticipation," for it was evident not only that 7,000 was an insignificant number to rely upon in time of difficulty; but that it must be a long time before the men who were now in the Army, and who would leave it to join the Reserve, would be sufficient in number to form such a Reserve as was required. In the meantime, there would be no available resource, in case of sudden emergency, to add to the strength of our weak battalions. The Reserve, therefore, existed only in anticipation. But this was not all. How far could the small Reserve we actually had be depended upon? He would remind their Lordships that, in a former discussion, they had had a remarkable statement from Lord Sandhurst, to the effect that, during the training at the Curragh, 450 men of the Reserve Force were called upon to take part in the operations, and that only 50 men, or one-ninth part responded to the invitation. He had no desire to inculpate the late Government, or to raise any prejudice against them; but it was necessary for the safety of the country that we should have a reliable 496 Army and a reliable Reserve; and the position of affairs, as described from time to time by the Commander-in-Chief and the eminent military authorities in their Lordships' House, was not satisfactory. He cordially and heartily concurred with his noble Friend behind him (Viscount Cardwell) as to the policy of introducing what was known as short service; but what he maintained was that though his noble Friend had adopted the sound principles of short service Under the colours, and of having a large Reserve to supplement that force in time of need, his noble Friend had not adopted the proper means for making that policy successful. His noble Friend had not, in his opinion, offered sufficient inducement to men to enlist in the Army, or, once enlisted, to continue in the Reserve. Upon that subject he had, for years, entertained the strongest conviction that to induce men to enter the Army, and to keep the Army in a satisfactory condition, it was absolutely necessary that the soldier should have a prospect of ultimately arriving at a pension. The father of the noble Viscount opposite (the late Lord Hardinge) had, in conversation with him, frequently expressed the opinion that not only was it of the utmost advantage to the Army that this prospect of a pension should be held out to the soldier, but that it was of the highest political importance to the nation; because, as he said—and it was a just and wise observation—it was not sound policy to train vast numbers of men to arms, and then to turn them loose upon the country, without retaining any hold upon them whatever. That was, however, what they were doing under the present system. What they were now doing was, they trained men for six years in the Army, they kept them for six years in the Reserve, and then at the end of the 12 years' service they turned them adrift on the country, just, perhaps, when they would have a difficulty in maintaining themselves in comfort, from their strength beginning to fail, for the ordinary purposes of civil life, which must tend to make them feel discontented, perhaps at a time of political disturbance, when the discontent of men trained to arms might be formidable. That appeared to him to be a most impolitic system. He did not say that a man who had retired from the service, and was not working for the 497 State, should receive the same rate of pension as those who had served it by continuous service; but it would be far better, instead of giving men 4d. a-day for doing nothing, to allow time spent in the Reserve to count—say, from one-half or two-thirds as much as continuous service towards the earning a pension. In that way the soldier would have the prospect at 40, or a little over, of falling back upon a pension; and, in the meantime, the country would possess a much more reliable Reserve force than it possessed under the present system. By supplying some such inducements to enter the Army, they would increase the efficiency of the service, and, at the same time, remove a great source of present dissatisfaction. The prospect of a pension, moreover, would prove not only a great inducement to enter the service, but would also tend to check desertion. There was another point to which he would refer. He could not help thinking that if we were to have short service, it would be well not to reckon as on the strength of the Army any men who had not been trained for it in some establishment analogous to the training ships for the Navy. If the service of a recruit were only to reckon from the time of his joining a regiment, certified as perfectly trained and fit for doing his duty, a most important point would be gained. No doubt, this would cause an increase of expense, and virtually it would be an increase of the Army; but he maintained there was no true economy in keeping up regiments with a nominal strength which did not represent their real strength; and the system of having regiments with 100 or 150 men not really fit for duty would, if a sudden emergency arose, be found most inconvenient. It was as opposed to true economy as to policy, and was inconsistent with the safety of the nation. When the expedition was sent to the Gold Coast, it was found necessary to weed the regiments selected of a large number of youths who were not fit for the service, and to fill their places with volunteers from other regiments. This it was possible to do, because that expedition was on a very small scale; but it would obviously have been impracticable if it had been necessary to send on foreign service 20 battalions instead of only two or three. What would be the feeling of the country if, on any sudden emergency, it were found 498 that of the Army at home one-fourth or one-fifth were practically ineffective? He must apologize to their Lordships for these observations; but he could not sit silent when he heard the noble Viscount (Viscount Cardwell) claim so much credit for the late Government for its policy with respect to the Army and its results.
§ THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
My Lords, without going into the very interesting matters referred to by the noble Earl who has just sat down, I wish to correct a misapprehension of the noble Viscount (Viscount Hardinge) who spoke from the opposite bench with regard to pensions. The last Act made no change whatever with regard to 12 and 9 years men enlisted under the former Act. They would not have their pensions unless they served their full time. No change whatever was made in the system under which those men would obtain their pensions when the last Act—the Short Service Act—was passed. I think it very essential that that should be made known. I do not know to what the noble Viscount alluded. There may be some point, but I am entirely ignorant of it; and if there be the matter ought to be put straight at once.
§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
explained that he alluded to the paragraph in the General Order of 1871, which had been read by the noble Viscount (Viscount Cardwell), by which the privilege of remaining in the Army Service for more than six years was reserved to such men as might be "specially recommended."
§ THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
I believe that paragraph entirely alluded to the men enlisted under the new Act for six years' active service and six years' reserve. If a man enlisted for long service and served the full period he was entitled to his pension, and to keep it from him would be a breach of faith; but if a man enlisted for six years' service, and knowing all the conditions, there would be no hardships in his not having a pension. It is essential that there should be no mistake on the subject, and I undertake to say that no alteration whatever was made by the new Act in that respect. Now, my Lords, I wish to say a word or two with reference to the remark of my noble and gallant Friend who brought forward this motion. I fear, my Lords, I am responsible in some 499 degree for having occasioned this misunderstanding, because I certainly admit that, when the subject was formerly introduced, I did use the words pari passû, because I was under the strong impression that the two modes of recruiting were to go on side by side. At first, that was done; but a modification was made afterwards, because it was felt that justice could hardly be done under the new Act unless certain alterations were made as regards the Infantry, and the Secretary of State having power under the new Act to use his discretion, he introduced the General Order which has been referred to to-night. The Act was so worked within the discretion of the Secretary of State that, for a time, no men were enlisted for the long service, and, therefore, the mode of enlisting side by side was not in operation. Certainly, with these regulations, a proportionate number would be ordinarily enlisted under one system and a proportionate number under the other; but if that power exists, it is right it should be exercised with discretion. As there is considerable doubt whether men prefer coming in under short service or whether they prefer coming in under long service, I cannot help thinking it would be advantageous that there should be as little restriction as possible, and that men should take long or short service as they think best. If, after the period of short service, the men came again for long service, the formation of a Reserve would be indefinitely postponed. The subject is involved in difficulty. For one reason it is desirable to proceed in the direction of long service, and for another in the direction of short service. I do not feel called upon at present to give any very decided view of my own; but, should the matter be discussed again, I shall probably be prepared to do so, and probably by that time that which is vague and doubtful now will have assumed more certainty. I must again say that there is nothing so detrimental to the interests of recruiting as doubt and uncertainty upon points of this nature. Though the sum involved may be small, it is very Considerable to the class of men whom we desire to obtain.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said, that as he had the honour of serving under Lord Strathnairn's orders, he hoped he might be allowed 500 to say a few words in support of his noble and gallant Friend. He had been much pained by the words used by the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond), which were quite unnecessary. He desired to attempt to remove the personal element which had unfortunately been introduced into the discussion; he had heard every word that had fallen on the former occasion from his noble and gallant friend (Lord Strathnairn), and he would say frankly, that at the time, he had not understood them as conveying anything offensive or personal to the late Minister of War, but only as indicating some warmth, and as he had not understood them as offensive, he was justified in asserting that his noble and gallant Friend had not intended anything in that sense. He begged leave to remind the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) that in the opinion of many outside of the House, and inside of it, it was no part of the duty of Her Majesty's Government to be always defending the late Ministers; and if the Government always proceeded on the lines of the late Ministers, people would ask what use there was in a change of Government.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
wished to point out the consequences of the assumption that the two systems of long and short enlistment were to go on pari passû and without restriction. The object of the Army Enlistment Act was to provide an Army of Reserve, and no Reserve was possible except under short service; if, however, recruits were invariably allowed to select between long and short service, and if, which was not at all improbable, the general preference was for the former, we might eventually find ourselves without any men for that Reserve which it was the object of the Act to create. That showed that no such understanding as that suggested by the noble and gallant Lord could reasonably have been come to by the Government, and it was therefore fair to presume that those who entertained the idea were in error, and not those who had charge of the administration of the Army. The late Government did not yield to the noble Earl on the cross benches (Earl Grey) in their desire to see the British Army abundantly supplied with men who might by length of service and by habits of discipline, become qualified to act as its non-commissioned 501 officers. If the late Government had instituted short service and nothing but that, they might have been open to the reproaches cast upon them; but it was their intention from the first that there always should be in the ranks of the Army such a proportion of long service men as would secure the requisite number of properly qualified non-commissioned officers. In support of this statement it was fair to remind the House that the late Government were mainly responsible for a recent change which enabled the War Office authorities from time to time to vary the conditions of service so as to enable young men who had enlisted in the first instance for short service, and who showed a disposition for soldiering, to convert their engagement into one for the longer period, a regulation which would unquestionably have the effect of retaining in the Army the very class of men from whom its non-commissioned officers might with advantage be selected. In reply to what had been said as to the quality of the recruits, he would quote a passage from the Report for 1873 of the Inspector General of Recruiting, who said—The quality of the recruits raised during the year may he considered as satisfactory. At all the chief military stations throughout the kingdom the principal medical officers hare made reports monthly on the subject, and on all occasions have expressed themselves fully satisfied with the physique and general appearance of the men who have joined the several corps. A few exceptional cases have been remarked upon, chiefly of lads objected to as being deficient in stamina and bodily development; but these in nearly all instances have grown into strong, healthy young men, a consequence, no doubt, to be ascribed to the better feeding provided, and the more healthy and active habits pursued as soldiers than in the conditions of life previous to enlistment.The evidence of commanding officers was summed up by the Inspector General in these words—During the 12 months ending on the 30th of June last 258 objections to recruits sent to regiments were made by commanding officers. Of this number, after thorough inquiry and examination, 117 were retained, and the remaining recruits, in all 141, were released from the service, being a proportion of less than 1 per cent on the total number of recruits raised during those 12 months.From the general annual Return of the British Army it appeared that out of a total of 182,000 men, only 28,000 were below the age of 20. He could not find in the Inspector General's Report anything 502 to justify any apprehensions as to the supply of recruits in the future. On the contrary, it was said—In the course of time, when all the necessary requirements are avilable, it may be fairly assumed, judging from the results already attained at 'formed' brigade depôts, that the sub-district generally will be found to afford an adequate number of recruits for the battalions connected with them.He had heard on excellent authority that the month of June this year had proved a better month for recruiting than any corresponding June in the last 10 years, excepting June, 1871. With regard to the small number of the Army Reserve, he must submit that it was not possible to pass from a system of long service to a system of combined long and short service without a period of transition, and until that period was passed it was impossible to predict what the number of the Army Reserve might be, while it was certainly unfair to complain of the effects of a system which would not come into full operation until two years hence. The noble Earl (Earl Grey) had stated the men now in the Reserve were not available for service when required, and he supported himself by reference to the statement of Lord Sandhurst, who told the House that upon a recent occasion out of about 450 men called out for the Autumn Manœuvres only one-ninth were forthcoming. In reply to that, he might say, that he pointed out the other evening that these men were not called out in the proper sense of the word. Volunteers were invited to come out, and as might be expected, a very small number came; but no appeal was made to the statute, and therefore the effect of calling out the Army Reserve men had not yet been tested. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Richmond) had stated that the present Government had issued the Circulars under which short service was extended to the Cavalry and Artillery principally because, finding them in an advanced state of preparation, they desired to avoid further delay, but that they reserved to themselves a discretion to withdraw the Circulars and make some change, if the system should not be found to work satisfactorily. That was an accurate account. The subject of short service for the Cavalry and Artillery was carefully investigated by the late Government; it was discussed with the illustrious Duke 503 on the cross benches, and it was with his concurrence the Circulars were prepared. It was necessary to have some reserve for the Cavalry and Artillery, and he thought it was perfectly natural that the present Government should have adopted the Circulars which the late Government had left them.
referred the noble Marquess to certain passages in the Report of the Inspector-General in support of certain statements made in his speech.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said, he quite admitted the right of the noble Earl to make the quotations; but what the noble Earl read was the Report of the Inspector-General for 1871, whereas he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) read from the Report of the Inspector-General up to the 1st of January, 1874.
§ LORD STRATHNAIRN
said, that on several occasions he had appealed to what Lord Northbrook had stated with respect to pensions. He maintained that over the men of the Reserve there was no control whatever. Everybody knew what would happen when the men of that class drew 90 days' pay at 4d. a day at once, and how the money was likely to be spent.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
regretted that the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Strathnairn) should have brought a charge of bad faith against his noble Friend the late Secretary of State for War. That charge this debate had, in his opinion, absolutely and entirely disposed of. He had no recollection of Lord Northbrook having held out any expectations with regard to pensions, and the question as to his intentions was set at rest by the passage which the noble Duke had referred to in Lord Northbrook's speech. He had never heard in either House of Parliament a more accurate statement of a case than had been made by Lord Northbrook on the occasion in question. Whether Lord Northbrook, by some ambiguity of language, had given rise to any expectations he could not say; but this he could say, that Lord Northbrook's intentions did not differ in any respect from those of his noble Friend behind him. Therefore, the charge of breach of faith brought against his noble Friend fell entirely to the ground, and it would be only graceful in the noble and gallant Lord to acquit his noble Friend of any such charge.
§ LORD STRATHNAIRN
was understood to say that he absolved the noble Viscount from any intentional breach of faith; but he still maintained that the Order of May 1871 was not in harmony with what was understood to be the intention of the Government in 1870.
§ On Question? Resolved in the Negative.