HL Deb 30 May 1879 vol 246 cc1416-7

, in rising to put a Question to the Government of which he had given private Notice, said, that the recent military embarrassments, which had been succeeded by severe Parliamentary criticism, had led the Government to deem it expedient to consent to appoint a Committee to inquire into the constitution of the Army. There were various opinions as to this step, and what had given rise to it. There were those who thought that this arose from carrying out the resolution or arrangements of the noble Viscount (Viscount Cardwell), and that the course pursued by him had in some degree led to the passing of so many young soldiers into the Reserve. What was the Re-serve? It was the reservoir to receive the overflow of the Royal Army; but the noble Viscount had placed his overflow pipe at the bottom instead of the top. But what he (Lord Truro) wanted to address himself to was the constitution of this Committee, a matter which was not at all unimportant. He should like to know whether it was to be so composed as to hold out not the hope only, but the assurance of success? Would the constitution of this military Committee give that guarantee? Those who had read the names of the noble and gallant Generals who had been selected to serve on that Committee would recognize their claims to respect; but at this time it required something more than military minds to deal with this question. From early training, and from long-continued habit and associations, military men were unable to free themselves from prejudice; and it would, therefore, be difficult for them to examine into the present system without civilian aid. If the Committee failed to fulfil the purpose for which it was appointed, and left the Army in its present condition, he could not help thinking that the country would blame the Government for not introducing a civilian element into the Committee.


My Lords, I was unwilling to interrupt the noble Lord; but I must remind him that he has been guilty of a gross irregularity. A Committee which had been appointed had framed certain Resolutions, which some time ago received the sanction of your Lordships' House; and one of those Resolutions was that although a Question of which private Notice only was given might be asked if the subject were not one that would lead to discussion, yet that if it were likely to lead to discussion Notice of the Question should be put on the Paper. The object of that, no doubt, was that all noble Lords who took an interest in the subject might have an opportunity of hearing what was said, and of taking part in the discussion. The noble Lord has introduced a topic, in the form of a Question, which, perhaps, of all others, is calculated to interest a large number of the Members of your Lordships' House, and lead to discussion; and I, therefore, trust that your Lordships will allow me to enter my protest against the irregularity.


said, he must plead frankly guilty of the error for which the noble and learned Earl had reprimanded him. He was not aware, however, when he rose, that he was transgressing any of their Lordships' Rules.