HL Deb 19 March 1880 vol 251 cc1217-9

asked the Secretary of State for India, Whether it is true that— Owing to the complete failure of the Recruiting Department and the prospect of an early campaign, the Government of India is contemplating the re-enlistment of the Native Pensioners to supply the place of the troops despatched to the front; and, what the numbers of those troops and what those of the Pensioners are?

LORD DENMAN moved the adjournment of the House, that he might be in Order, and said, the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for India (Viscount Cranbrook) knew that he (Lord Den-man) had given considerable attention to the history of India; and he must remark that the Army of that country was large, and that although the tenets of the Mahomedan Natives of Afghanistan were in exact accordance with the Turks, yet no attempt to raise a Jehad ever produced any effect at Constantinople. It was now well known by Mahomedans that no attempt to convert by the sword was ever made by English Forces, and that although under the Mahomedan creed such a course was formerly considered indispensable, yet that now it was not pursued by the Sultan. The proportion of Mahomedans in Hindostan was of 40,000,000 to 200,000,000;but it had been truly said by Bernier that a small disciplined army, such as Turcanis, could well maintain itself against all, and the conduct of Sir Frederick Roberts and of statesmen had turned enemies into friends in India. Bernier had even referred to the retreat of the 10,000 as detailed by Xenophon. He (Lord Denman) believed that the whole of India would be better defended from Cabul than from any other position, and that it would not require more troops for the whole of Hindostan than if they were to remain in the south. The embassy of Mount-Stuart Elphinstone could only reach Peshawur, which was then part of Afghanistan; and he (Lord Denman) trusted that a friendly feeling might be re-established amongst the Sirdars and different Tribes, who would cease from their intestine dssension, if a strong power became established.

Moved, "That this House do now adjourn."—(The Lord Denman.)


said, that the Question of which the noble Lord had given him private Notice was one which it was very natural he (Lord Dorchester) should ask. The quotation in that Question was from a newspaper which had made certain statements in respect to the Army in Afghanistan; but the noble Lord, being himself an old soldier, must see that the present recruiting could not very much affect the immediate campaign in Afghanistan. As in England, so in India; a recruit could not be sent to the front under nine or ten months of preparation. Nor had he any reason to think that the Armies of Afghanistan were not all-sufficient for the purposes which they were intended to fulfil. On the contrary, so far as he was informed, they were in an highly efficient state and fit for the duties they had to discharge. With respect to the Question of the noble Lord, therefore, he was able to answer it in the negative. There was no reason to suppose that any permanent steps would be taken for the purpose of raising more recruits than Were required under ordinary circumstances, though he was quite willing to say that recruiting in India was not in the condition which was desirable, and would require some temporary inducement, as was frequently the case in this country in time of war. He did not mean, however, to imply that there was any reason to suppose that a permanent inducement was required to promote recruiting in India; and, as to the re-enlistment of Native Pensioners to supply the place of troops despatched to the front, he could only say that the Report was quite inconsistent with the information which he had received from India. It was not contemplated, nor was it intended in that way to supply any temporary default in recruiting.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

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