HL Deb 08 August 1879 vol 249 cc496-7

rose to move for— Copies of Correspondence between the Commander-in-Chief in India, the Government of India, and the War Department, in 1864 and 1865, with reference to the system of workshops, and their approval of the same; also, of any Correspondence regarding the good effects of the workshop system on the discipline of the British army in India; and, for Return of the amounts of money invested in the Soldiers' Savings Bank for three years preceding and three years following the institution of workshops. The noble and gallant Lord said, that the system of Army workshops, the Papers relating to which he solicited with their Lordships' permission, had proved itself to be very favourable to the efficiency, health, and discipline of the Army in India. The system—that was employment of well-seasoned and trained soldiers in theirtrades—remedied the diseases which were caused by continued inaction in intense heat, and supplied an army in the field with workmen who could provide for their most urgent wants huts, saddlery, drinking troughs, repair arms, and make engineering obstacles, &c. A "Reserve," formed of soldiers of 10 years' service in the workshop system, would about pay its own expenses; and, formed into battalions, might, at the shortest notice, reinforce an army in any quarter of the globe. He begged to take that opportunity to offer his excuses for having been absent, when, more than at any time, he should have wished to have been present—from the Vote of Thanks to the Army in India, for their late brilliant and important services in Afghanistan; but he came to the House too late, in consequence of not having received the notice of the Vote of Thanks. He regretted it the more because two of the General Officers, Sir Donald Stewart and Sir Frederick Roberts, whose good fortune it was to be most engaged, were on his general Staff when Commander-in-Chief in India. It was impossible to speak too highly of their merits as officers, and of the very valuable assistance they rendered him while serving on his Staff. Nothing in a strategical point of view could be better than the very able manner in which Sir Donald Stewart, overcoming remarkable obstacles, made the turning movement from the line of the Indus, captured Candahar, and threatened Cabul; or the bold attack made by Sir Frederick Roberts on the most difficult pass of the Peiwar and its capture, effected by a most gallant and successful assault on the strong stockaded position on its left, and when the positions which were protected by it were found to be impregnable, by a third and unyielding attack, cut off the enemy's retreat, and made Sir Frederick Roberts master of this most important position. The Native troops, by their devoted bravery, divided the laurels won in Afghanistan with their gallant British companions in arms. He begged to tender his sincere congratulations to Her Majesty's Government for having made safe India's weak point, and for having converted a doubtful and dangerous neighbour into a good friend.


said, there was no objection to the Return; but there must be some delay in producing it, because some of the Papers would have to be got from India.

Address agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter past Six o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Four o'clock.