§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS,
in rising to move—That having regard to the present defective military organization, and to the great importance of the Militia force, it is essential that the Militia be forthwith recruited up to their established strength; and that the 'Militia Reserve' should, as intended by its originator the late General Peel, and as recommended by the Militia Committee of 1877, he borne in excess of the Militia establishment,said, that, about five years ago, he had the honour to meet His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, who stopped him in the street, and asked him why it was that he now publicly took so little interest in Army matters? His answer was very short. He said—"Sir, I am waiting for the disaster." He was convinced, from the experience he had on the subject, that nothing short of a national disaster would induce officials on either side of the House, or would induce either House of Parliament, or the nation, to look this question steadily in the face. It was true they had disasters; they had had Isandlana, Mai-wand, and Majuba; but these disasters were of a partial character, and occurred in distant lands. They were not disasters like Sadowa and Sedan, which went homo to the heart of a nation, and 731 forced the Austrian and French Governments to reform their military systems, and establish them on some surer foundation. Besides, in this country, they had had a successful campaign in Egypt, and there was great danger of their relapsing into false security. Now, the result of our Army reforms was that, in the endeavour to secure a second line, they had sacrificed the first, and their recruiting system had, in a great measure of late, broken down. It had been admitted by the Secretary of State for War, in "another place," although for years they had heard of nothing but the creation of a second line, that our present system had broken down, and that now the Colours must be the first consideration. He (the Earl of Wemyss) was told that the noble and gallant Lord who recently commanded in Egypt (Lord Wolseley) had said, before the Channel Tunnel Committee, that it would be impossible for this country to put more than 20,000 men into line. He would like to ask him whether, in that calculation, he had omitted the Irish regiments, in whom, it seemed, from a recent speech of his, he did not put much trust, so long as they were officered by Englishmen? In bringing this matter forward, he did not ask their Lordships to listen to any crude opinions of his own, but to the views of those who were entitled to speak with authority upon this subject. No one was entitled to speak with more authority than General Sir Lintorn Simmons, by whom an article on the critical state of the British Army had recently appeared in the last number of The Nineteenth Century. He said—It may be confidently asserted that the whole Army at homo, after the departure of the Expedition to Egypt, was in a lamentable condition. At the present moment, when the troops have been for the most part withdrawn from Egypt, we find but little improvement. Men are daily quitting the ranks, and returning to civil life as Reserve men, so utterly dissatisfied that they will not accept the bribes that have been offered them in the shape of bounty to continue with the Colours.He further pointed out that in India the small Force which we keep there as the backbone of our power to govern 250,000,000 people would be reduced by a number equivalent to five out of 50 battalions, allotted for its defence; and by one out of nine regiments of Cavalry. The Army at home was more 732 than 8,000 under its appointed strength, and was daily dwindling away; so that, unless some extraordinary measures were taken to recruit it, there would be a deficiency of between 15,000 and 20,000 men, which would be increased to between 25,000 and 30,000 next year—Young soldiers yearly purchase their discharges, or desert, while many break down under training, and return to their homes without pension, to drag out a miserable existence and earn their living as best they can.With regard to the waste taking place in the Army, he said—Out of 186,469 enlisted during eight years, 47,648—one-fourth—disappeared before the end of the year succeeding that in which they enlisted; and 64,993 before the end of the second year, with an average of a little more than ten months' service.The cost of these men to the country, without any return, Sir Lintorn Simmons estimated at £3,150,000. He continued—If the present policy continues, the battalions at home in their normal state will be composed to a great extent of inefficient lads; and, to have a force of 9,157 British Infantry, such as fought at Tel-el-Kebir, the men of which averaged 25 years four months old, had served five and a-half years, and of whom less than 900 were under 21 years of age—or even a force of half that size, we shall invariably be compelled to have recourse to the Reserve.The conclusion at which Sir Lintorn Simmons arrived was—That the outflow of men from the Army must be stopped without delay, not merely by temporary measures, such as have been adopted, but by endeavouring to make men contented in and with the Service, and thus to prevent the waste which is ruining the Army, by scattering broadcast over the country a dissatisfied body of men, who, to the number of at least 150,000, exclusive of 34,000 Reserve men, have gone back to civil life since 1870, and who, almost without exception, may be assumed to be living agencies operating energetically and actively as checks to the blandishments of recruiters.Their Lordships should seriously consider the present state of the battalions. The figures showed to what a low position they were reduced, particularly when they took out of the calculation the men under 20 years of age. That their Lordships might form some idea of the present state of the battalions on home service, he would tell them what was the Field State upon the Queen's birthday parade at Aldershot this year:—There were eight battalions on parade, with a rank-and-file Establishment varying from a maximum of 733 950 to a minimum of 520. Two of the eight had a rank-and-file Establishment of 520. They were the 1st Scottish Rifles, which paraded with 160 rank and file, and the 2nd King's Shropshire Regiment, which paraded with 136 rank and file. Practically, therefore, a rank-and-file Establishment of 520 might be calculated to put about 150 rank and file into line. Of these, about one-fourth would be under 20. If this fourth were deducted, they got 113 rank and file as the proper fighting strength of a regiment at home on a 520 rank-and-file Establishment. At the present time, out of 72 battalions for service at home, 48 were on an Establishment of 520 rank and file each, making 7,200 rank and file for the fighting line, or 5,400 men after deducting all under 20 years of age. Next, he would ask their Lord ships to look at the condition of the Militia, because occupying as it did a central position between the Volunteers and the Reserves on the one hand, and the Regular Army on the other, it constituted a very important part of our military system, which it was impossible to over-estimate, and it was of the highest importance that it should be kept in as effective a condition as possible. What was the state of the Militia at the present moment? Its Establishment was 128,069 men, and there were enrolled 104,431 men, so that 23,638 men were wanting. But, if those under 19 years of age, 15,904, were deducted, and those who had been struck off or were absent, 6,942, and those in the Militia Reserve of the Army, 26,692, the number of men enrolled was only 54,893. Then a deduction of one-fifth must be made for casualties, and if a further reduction were made by leaving the 7,327 Artillery out of consideration, only 36,638 Infantry Militia rank and file above the age of 19 were left for the Three Kingdoms. He thought their Lordships would say that that was not a satisfactory state of things, and that the Militia ought, at any rate, to be recruited up to its Establishment. The Militia was the backbone of our military system, and it was impossible to exaggerate its value. He wished to point out that the Militia Reserve was not a Reserve for Militia, as many persons supposed, but that it should properly be called the Militia Army Reserve. There were four ways in which the Militia could aid in 734 recruiting the Army. Whole regiments could volunteer for service in the Army; companies could so volunteer; while individuals could volunteer for the Regular Army, and could also apply to form part of the Army Militia Reserve. The Militia Establishment was not merely short this year; it was always more or less short; and it had not, for many years, had its full complement of men. In 1872, it wanted 25,344 men; in 1875, 28,116; in 1880, 10,851; and now 23,638 were wanted. It appeared to him, however, that the Militia Reserve was really almost the only thing upon which they could congratulate themselves. Turning to the Army Reserve, strange as it might appear, he saw that it contained, when taken on January 1, 1883, 4,478 fewer men than it contained on the same date in 1873. In 1870, too, there were 4,478 men less than in 1867 ready for immediate service. They had heard that long service was now to be tried. But it was to be tried in a way which would prevent it from succeeding. A man who should enlist for a second term of service would not be given his £36 of deferred pay until the end of his second term, instead of at the close of the first term. That being so, it would not be wonderful if men should elect to take £36 down, in preference to engaging for a fresh period of service. The Army Reserve was organized upon the recommendation of a Commission of Inquiry, who pointed to the Militia as the best quarter from which to obtain men for the Army. General Peel, in 1869, said—The Commission on Recruiting state with great truth that our real Army of Reserve is the Militia, and that it is in that quarter that we shall have eventually to look for our Reserve, and they consider it advisable to raise the Militia to its full number—that is, to 120,000 men. The present strength of the Militia is about 90,000 men, and the difference between that and 120,000 would constitute the Army of Reserve. Every regiment that contributed a certain quota to the Army of Reserve I would allow to be raised to its full strength; so that you would have the Militia regiments exactly in the same state as before, and would have the additional men of the Army of Reserve. My proposal is to limit the Army of Reserve to one-fourth of the present Establishment, and for this reason—I do not want to break up the Militia regiments.In the opinion of General Peel, it was not desirable to lessen the strength of the Militia by withdrawing from it the 735 26,000 men who formed the Militia Re serve, and who were the best trained men in the Militia, without at once filling up vacancies thus caused, and keeping battalions up to their full strength. He would ask their Lordships to listen to what the Militia Commission of 1867 said with regard to the Militia Reserve. They said—It is to our Militia that we must look for the solid Constitutional Reserve of the country, and we would earnestly recommend that more attention should he given to its organization, and that its numbers should he maintained up to the full legal quota.He invited their Lordships by their vote, therefore, to declare, as the Commission of 1867 recommended, that the Militia should be recruited up to its full strength. He held in his hand the Report of the Militia Committee of 1877. That was a Departmental Committee of Inquiry, appointed by the War Office on account of the reduced numbers of the Militia. And how did they deal with it? Paragraph 104 of their Report recommended, not that the Militia should be recruited up to its full strength, but that it should be given a Peace Establishment, reducing it to 75 men per company, exclusive of the Staff. That was worse than what was done by the Irishman whose blanket was too short, and who, in order to lengthen it, cut off a piece from the top and sewed it on the bottom; whereas here the War Office Committee recommended to cut a piece off altogether. But there was happily a recommendation of that Committee which he (the Earl of Wemyss) trusted would commend itself to their Lordships, and which, as proposed in his Resolution, was to the effect that the Militia Reserve should be borne in excess of its Establishment, for it said—The present arrangement by which the Militia Reserve is home on the strength of Militia Battalions to the amount of 25 per cent. while liable to be withdrawn from it at any moment, is open to great objection, and we consider that the Militia Reserve men should be borne as supernumeraries on the roll of their regiments.That was practically part of the Resolution which he was about to submit. He was certain, from his experience in "another House," that figures were never palatable; but without figures He could not have proved his case. He asked their Lordships to look at the Resolution simply from a patriotic point of 736 view, and to cast all questions of Party aside. It was not a question at all of Party, for every Party in the State was equall interested in the condition of the Militia. He thought he had shown a state of things, both as regarded the Army and Militia, that he ventured to say could not exist in any other country in Europe. Nay, more, it could not exist in Japan; for he had seen that the Japanese had organized themselves in fear of China on the German system, that they maintained an Army of 40,000 men, capable of expansion to 300,000, and that they were improving their Commissariat and their Transport. As regarded our Commissariat and Transport, he wished the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Wolseley) were present, to speak of them as they had been tried. He (the Earl of Wemyss) held that, at present, the state of the Army was a very serious one. This was not a question of "bloated armaments," or of rivalling Foreign Powers, or of fulfilling Treaty obligations, such as led the Secretary of State, in 1870, to come down and ask for an increase of 20,000 men, and it was six months before they could got 10,000. In the present state of our Army and Militia, it became a question of the security of our Colonies and of the Indian Empire. When our battalions at home were little more than depôts, as he had pointed out, it became a question also of the safety of this country, for who could rely for safety on our Fleet? No; our first line of defence was insufficient; it was known to be so. There were noble Lords in that House, and others conversant with naval affairs in "another place," who were constantly telling us that our ironclads were insufficient in number; that our armaments were deficient, and that other nations were taking rapid strides in advance. But the state of our Army was a very old story, and dated a very long period back. In 1G58, these words were used by Cromwell, and he would ask their Lordships to observe how he spoke of "the silver streak"—I beseech you, consider a little. I beseech you, consider how things do co-operate. Should it happen that, as contrivances stand, you should not be able to vindicate yourselves against all whomsoever. I name no one State upon this head. Judge you where you are. You have accounted yourselves happy in being environed with a great ditch from all the world beside. Truly, you will not he able to keep your ditch, 737 nor your shipping, unless you turn your ships and shipping into troops of horse and companies of foot, and fight and defend yourselves on terra firma. And, these things stated, liberavi animam meam, and if there be no danger in all this, I am satisfied. I have told you. You will judge if there is no danger. If you shall think we may discourse of all things at pleasure, and that it is a time of sleep, and ease, and rest, without any duo sense of these things, I have this comfort to God-ward. I have told you of it.He ventured, again, to ask their Lordships to throw all Party considerations aside, and to vote independently on this Resolution. If they believed the state of things which He had described to be true, he invited their Lordships to declare with regard to the Militia, at least—as they had power and influence in that matter—that such a state of things was dangerous to the interests of the country, and should no longer be permitted to continue. He begged to move the Resolution which stood in his name.
Moved to resolve—
That having regard to the present defective military organization and to the great importance of the Militia force, it is essential that the Militia he forthwith recruited up to their established strength; and that the 'Militia Reserve' should, as intended by its originator the late General Peel, and as recommended by the Militia Committee of 1877, be borne in excess of the Militia establishment."—(The Earl of Wemyss.)
THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I support the Resolution proposed by the noble Earl (the Earl of Wemyss). The Government has shown such indifference to the representations that have been made to them as to the deficiencies of the Regular Army, that, possibly, they may have some scheme to render the Auxiliary Forces efficient, which they only await such an occasion as this to announce. As to the defective military organization, which is the preface of this Notice, it has been so recently noticed that it is only necessary for me to remind the Department charged with the military administration, that, even if recruits at once offered to fill the vacancies now existing and the vacancies immediately expected—said, in round numbers, to be 15,000—there would not then be an Army, but only the materials from which to construct an Army in 18 months or two years. A small party of recruits placed in a trained regiment will become soldiers in a comparatively short time—three or four months; but a large number of recruits, thrown into a battalion 738 of young men little more advanced than themselves, require more time to acquire a steady formation. And the Line being in this unsatisfactory state, numerically, as known to most people, except the War Office, we turn to the Auxiliary Forces to see what dependence can be placed upon them. I do not here speak of the Volunteers, except to say that, having once been amongst those who doubted the stability of the Institution, and the constancy of those who originated it, my doubts have long disappeared, and I recognize the Volunteer Force as an essential element of the national strength. But the connection of the Militia with the Line brings it more directly under our notice, and we can hardly say, from what we know, that the deficiency of the Line is compensated for by the satisfactory condition of the Militia. Both are much below par, and no energetic steps appear to be in progress to bring them up to the mark. We know that there are some admirable regiments, very fairly complete in numbers, assembling for training frequently under great difficulties, with a spirit that does them honour; but when we look at the total, and those painful figures "wanting to complete" and "absent from training," we feel how much remains to be done. It must be remembered that, considering the requirements of an Empire that is in every part of the world, and in many parts of the world subject to aggression, the Military Establishments are on a very low scale; and if every man voted by Parliament were an effective soldier, there would not be a man too many. What must then be our reflections when we find our responsibilities daily increasing, and our means of meeting those responsibilities daily diminishing? The case of the Militia has been put upon the deficiency of the Army, as a reason why this Force should be recruited to its full strength; but even if the Army were complete, as it sometimes appears to be on paper, the necessity exists that the Militia should be complete also. The Militia Reserve is, perhaps, not the best possible Service for a Reserve; but it was the best that offered at the moment, at a time when an Army Reserve, good as far as it went, was only forming by driblets; and I am quite aware that General Peel's hope was that the Militia Service would, in time, become so popular that a future Minister 739 would be able to add this Reserve to the original number of the Militia; and certainly there is good ground for the opinion that such a Reserve would at least equal the Army Reserve of the present system, which I do not undervalue, but which, I say, draws from the ranks prematurely men whose services can ill be spared from their regiments. I do not follow the noble Earl (the Earl of Wemyss) through the details of the statement that he has made, nor do I enter upon minor details as to terms of training, payment of bounties, part-worn clothing, and such points, upon which Militia officers, of whom several are present, are more competent to speak than myself; but I add my testimony to that of the noble Earl, that much more serious attention is required to the whole subject of the Militia Forces, and I say that the War Office cannot continue to look on, with a light heart, at the defects in both Army and Militia that have been pressed upon their Notice.
§ LORD TRURO
, said, that nothing, in his opinion, was more marvellous than the stolid indifference of the public on this question, except, perhaps, the fact that the noble Marquess at the head of the War Office should have had to express his surprise that the Representatives of the people in "another place" seemed to think that the subject might be discussed as well in their absence as in their presence. Now, the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Weymss) had spoken of the numbers of the Army, the state of the Army, and the difficulties of recruiting. The numbers of the Army were certainly very unsatisfactory in spite of the Return, which showed that there were 431 men above the Establishment. That Return omitted to point out that 11,133 men were taken from the Army Reserve, and that 7,784 of them were returned to the Army, after the campaign in Egypt. The fact, therefore, was that, instead of an excess, there was an actual diminution of 3,329 men. Nor did the discipline of the Force seem more satisfactory than its numbers; for the last annual Return showed that 969 men were reported drunk on duty, and 800 drunk off duty. One word as to the Militia. In 1881, the Establishment voted, including officers, was 139,501 men. The numbers below that Establishment were 11,033. The money voted was £1,191,259, and the surplus beyond 740 the requirements of the year was consequently £104,697. In 1882, the Establishment voted was 139,293; the number below the Establishment was 20,592; the money that was voted was £1,189,297, leaving a surplus of £212,715. In 1 883, the Establishment voted was 142,874; up to the month of February, the actual was 3,581 below the Establishment; and the money voted was £1,314,392, or £92,866 above the amount required. Including the three years from 1881 up to the 1st of February, 1883, there was a deficiency of the numbers necessary to complete the Establishment voted of 35,806 men, and in the three years the surplus of money voted for the Militia was £410,278. He was not sufficiently conversant with the financial arrangements of the Army to know what became of the surplus of money voted; but it seemed to him strange that we should be voting a larger Vote every year with a diminution in the number of recruits for the Militia. That so large a sum of money should remain unaccounted for was, he thought, a circumstance highly unsatisfactory. He had always understood that the object of the Militia Reserve was to serve as a feeder to the Army; but, if that were so, he did not understand a suggestion by the Inspector General, that men should be re-enlisted for home service only, when, if they were to be of any service to the Army, they must be willing to go abroad. To propose that the Militia Reserve should be recruited from men who re-enlisted with the condition that they should not serve abroad, was to treat the Militia in a manner that was not originally contemplated.
§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
said, that he wished to say a few words in support of the Motion. He agreed with much that had been said by the noble Earl (the Earl of Wemyss) about the defective organization of the Army, and the great deficiency in the numbers of the Militia, and considered that, to a great extent, the noble Earl had proved his case. It was lamentable that the regiments at our great camp at Aldershot were in so wretched a state that they were not able to have a decent field day on the Queen's Birthday. It was not a sufficient answer to say that the recruits were drilled at the depôts, for there were regiments at Aldershot that could not get recruits. The 3rd Rifle Brigade 741 could not muster more than 200 on parade, and had no recruits. With regard to the Militia, it must be recollected by all that it was the old Constitutional Force of the country. During the Crimean War it gave 30,000 or 40,000 men to the Line, and its regiments garrisoned the Mediterranean stations. Since then the Force had been greatly improved, and most of the officers had gone through the School of Instruction, and had passed the examination for promotion. It had been shown that not only the present Government, but those who had preceded them, had not sufficiently encouraged the Militia, and the reason was not far to seek. When the short-service system was introduced Lord Card well had stated that he hoped we should soon have a Reserve of 80,000 men; but the lamentable fact was that we had but 25,000 or 30,000 men in that Reserve. Lord Cardwell anticipated that the First Class Reserve would be so large that he could abolish the Militia Reserve, and that was a most unfortunate expectation. General Peel was too far-seeing not to perceive that, under voluntary enlistment, we could not have a large Reserve, and his expectations had proved true. The Militia was really tested by the numbers that came up for inspection, excluding, of course, the Irish Militia; and he found that, last year, in England and Scotland, only 80,000 men came up, 7,000 being absent without leave, who were practically gone, while 3,000 were absent with leave. The waste in the Militia, too, was as bad as the waste in the Army. In a year there were 18,000 discharges, and 6,942 desertions, the only satisfactory fact being that 3,000 joined the Army. This waste, amounting to 30,000 a-year, was too little thought of at the War Office. It would be far better to limit recruiting a little than to have the enormous losses which we had by desertion and fraudulent enlistment in the Army and in the Militia. He thought those offences were looked upon too favourably by the War Office, and that the time had come when the mawkish sensibility with which they were looked upon should be cast off, and that they should be seriously dealt with. Some system of marking, such as vaccination, should be adopted. While dealing with these evils at great length, the Resolution of the noble Earl did not 742 indicate any remedy, it did not say how the result desired was to be effected, and how men were to be obtained. That, no doubt, was the most important part of the whole question; but we were not yet, however, in such a state as to be obliged to resort to the ballot. If the supporters of the Resolution offered suggestions, they would not probably have much value in the War Office, which had full information at its disposal; but it might be well if the War Office would consult more than they did the colonels of regiments. He was glad to find that there had been a small increase in the re-enrolment of the men. This was, after all, a question of money, and inducements should be offered to men who had served their time and were willing to enrol again. As to the practice, introduced a year ago, of drilling recruits on enrolment, he was of opinion that the sooner it was abolished the better. It ought not to be left optional, but should be entirely swept away. The Inspector General of Recruiting, in his Reports, said it was quite impossible that the two systems should go on together. Moreover, the Government must, by this time, be aware that great dissatisfaction had been produced in the Militia by the loss of the 10s. With regard to the Militia Reserve, he could not help thinking that it would not be a bad plan to allow a certain percentage of married men to join it. Above all, it was necessary to keep up the Militia to its full quota, and not to be careless about its numbers, simply because we put a weak faith in the First Class Army Reserve. In conclusion, he expressed his belief that, in the main, his noble Friend's suggestions and Motion deserved their Lordships' serious attention, and he hoped they would be carefully considered by Her Majesty's Government.
§ LORD WAVENEY
said, that, in his opinion, a great deal of the present difficulty had been caused because the old traditions of the Militia had been disregarded. The constant changes and the transferring Militiamen from one corps to another destroyed their feeling of regimental duty. They were, at that moment, discussing a problem which was initiated in the public Press some 40 years ago by the greatest soldier of England, when there was an expectation of a hostile invasion of England, 743 or attempts at military insult from the other side of the Channel. Since then there had been many changes. The Militia had been called out, and they had become, he might say, the Army of England. He thought the Government were entitled to credit for making the change by which Militia battalions could, by volunteering, be employed by the Regular troops. He would suggest that that system should be extended, and that a battalion of Militia might, with its own consent, be entitled, with its officers, to pass to the front. He was glad that the Militia had been brought within the reach of our military system; but he hoped that in any further changes greater inducements would be held out to men to join the Service.
THE EARL OF SANDWICH
said, that, in his opinion, if they gave every soldier a free kit and free rations, they would have no difficulty in obtaining a fair body of troops. He thought, however, that the absence of comfort in the barracks was a greater cause of the failure of recruiting and of the absence of contentment in the ranks than oven the pay. Again, many soldiers entered the Army expecting to have a jolly life; but when they found that half their time was taken up with drill, and the remainder with musketry and other instruction, they got disgusted. With regard to recruiting, a great deal depended on the zeal and perseverance of officers, some of whom, under like circumstances, were far more successful than others. He hoped that the long-service system would be adopted, for he thought that when the men got the long-service pension they would have a contented and happy soldiery. The present administration of the Army was most unsatisfactory, the reason being that it could not be learned properly within the walls of the War Office. The Ministers who went to the War Office had to depend for their information upon the officials of the Department, among whom there ought to be a flow of promotion as well as elsewhere. The Army Estimates amounted to about £16,000,000; and of that sum it appeared that only £2,000,000 were given to the private soldiers, £14,000,000 going in other ways; so that the rank and file of the Service had not got much above a tithe of the money that was intended for them. He had no objection to give rewards to the noble Lord and 744 the noble and gallant Admiral who served in Egypt; but why could not some be given to gallant privates too? Why did not the Government do these things in a liberal spirit, and not go on making changes which caused officers and men to be discontented? With regard to the territorial system, he thought that £3,500,000 had been ill-spent upon that system. He could show the noble Earl the Under Secretary of State for War (the Earl of Morley) the tremendous cost of the depôt barracks; he could show him that at a depôt there were a colonel, a major, four captains, four subalterns, and no end of staff, and only 50 men. How absurd that was! They should return to the old company system. With regard to the Militia training, he hoped it was not true that they were this year not to be trained at their old quarters. Directly they took the regiments away from the quarters to which they had been used for years, they could not get recruits. He was glad that the noble Marquess had returned to the War Office. The noble Marquess, he believed, wished to do away with some of the changes that had been made which had not succeeded; at any rate, he hoped that was his feeling. The old system was the best; and if the noble Marquess was guided by what he gathered, not merely from the officials of the War Office, but throughout the Service, he would benefit the country and earn the thanks of the Army.
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
said, he was strongly of opinion that the Militia ought to be recruited so as to be kept up to its full and efficient strength. The question was asked, what was the cause of the difficulty in recruiting the Militia? It was very simple. The Militiaman used formerly to be enrolled for five years' service, and he received 10". on enrolment, and £6 at the end of his five years' training. Now, however, he was called upon to serve for six years, with exactly the same amount of bounty as when he served for five years. That, of course, produced dissatisfaction. There was also dissatisfaction because he did not receive 10s. on enrolment. That 10s. was what the men looked to most, for they used to receive it in winter, that being the time when most of them enlisted, employment being scarce; and it helped them to get through the long months of winter. The proportion of 745 men formerly who did not come up for training in the regiment with which he had the honour to be connected was small. There was another system which caused great dissatisfaction, and which was much disliked by the men, and that was that immediately after enrolment the new recruits were sent to headquarters, where there was insufficient accommodation, and nothing for them to fill up their time with, to undergo 63 days' training and drill. Nothing deterred men so much from enlisting as this arrangement; and, in his opinion, the old system of training was much better. Another source of complaint on the part of the Militia was the large amount of fatigue duty put upon them as compared with the men of the Line. Then, again, there were no arms for them. With regard to arms, the Militia were always kept some years behind the Line, for while the Line were supplied with the most improved arms, such as the Martini-Henry, the Militia were provided with inferior rifles which had been superseded, as the Snider; the result being that, when the men passed into the Line, they had put into their hands rifles for which entirely different drill and different fighting were required. If they wanted to make the Militia efficient, why not supply them with the arms they would have to use if they joined the Line? Then, with regard to musketry-instruction, the Militiaman had only 10 rounds of ball cartridge served out to him, which were wholly insufficient to teach him how to load his gun, much less to make him a good shot. Again, the fact ought to be recognized that the men did not like the territorial system. They knew the regiments by their numbers, but not by their new names; and the men liked to join particular regiments, and would not go into the Army at all, if they were to be drafted wherever ordered. It was also very important, in order to keep Militia regiments efficient, that they should have commissioned and non-commissioned officers of their own, and not merely have officers lent them from their depôts. He would not detain the House longer; but ventured to submit these points to the consideration of the Government.
THE MARQUESS OF HERTFORD
said, he most earnestly supported the arguments which his noble Friend upon the Cross Benches (the Earl of Wemyss) 746 had so ably placed before their Lordships. He (the Marquess of Hertford) thought the Militia, the old Constitutional Force of the country, had been very much neglected. The position of the Militia, even under the scheme of Lord Cardwell, begun in 1872, had been almost entirely left out of the question, for very few, if any, of the details of that scheme as regarded the Militia had been carried out at all. He would recall to remembrance that—1. All Line Battalions at homo to be raised to war strength, the 50 Expeditionary Battalions being first considered, by calling up Army Reserve men to the Colours, supplementing the deficiency, if any, by Militia Reserve and volunteers from Militia Battalions.2. In each of the 50 districts required to furnish Expeditionary Battalions, embody both Militia Battalions.3. In each of the remaining districts embody one Militia Battalion.4. Complete each Depôt Centre to a full Battalion to serve as a training Battalion for recruits.5. Complete all embodied Militia Battalions to war strength.6. Make all enlistments during the war for general service in the Line and Militia Battalions of any Brigade district.Not one of those things had been done. When the short-service system was first introduced, having been for several years adjutant to a battalion of the Guards, he (the Marquess of Hertford) wrote to a large number of officers who had risen from the ranks, and who, he thought, were therefore practical men, and asked them their opinions on the subject of recruiting. In reply, almost every one of them said they were opposed to short service, and predicted precisely what had happened with regard to that and to the Reserve. These letters he had sent to Lord Cardwell at the time, and were returned. No attention was paid to the opinions of regimental officers. A few days since a man who had completed his service with the Colours and passed into the Reserve wrote that, after beginning life by learning the trade of an engine-fitter, he entered the Service; and he now stated that having left the Reserve he was unable to find work except as a mechanic at low wages, and that he was now earning 13s. or 14s. a-week less than He would have done had he continued in his former trade; He had nothing to fall back upon but poverty and the workhouse. He went on to say that he would have been ready and willing to serve his country 747 for 21 years with the prospect of a pension as a provision for his old age. That showed how short service acted in many cases. He thought the Government would act wisely if, with a view to a return to the old system, so far as could be effected, they were to call together again the Committee known as Lord Airey's Committee. The Members of that Committee knew what had taken place during the past 12 years, and would not recommend anything impracticable. He would also suggest that the Militia Reserve ought to be our principal Reserve; and that, as regarded the Army Reserve, if it was really necessary to maintain it, means should be adopted by the Government to enable men to find work readily, when they left the Colours to go into the Reserve, by keeping a register of employers who would be willing to give such men the employment they desired. He hoped, however, that it might turn out to be unnecessary, and that the Government would go back to long service with pensions. They should also increase the pay of the men, such increase to depend upon good conduct only; and he would suggest, in particular, that the pay of non-commissioned officers should be so treated. He would also have deserters marked with the letter D, or in some other way, for desertion, so as to prevent them from fraudulently enlisting in other regiments; and he hoped the Government would be able to see their way, so that those men whom it might be desirable to keep with the Colours should be given half the deferred pay and six weeks furlough at the expiration of the first term of service, the remaining half of the pay being placed in a savings' bank until the completion of the second term of service; that all Reserve men with good characters should be taken back into the ranks; that officers should be appointed to address meetings in recruiting districts for the purpose of explaining the advantages of service in the Army, instead of leaving it to the recruiting sergeants only. The Secretary of State for War should surround himself with more regimental officers and fewer civilians; for under the Government of the Duke of Wellington, when the Army was far more economically managed, his Grace's Military Administration con- 748 sisted of no less than 10 distinguished officers—all of them in Parliament—whereas there were now only three military officers, including the Commander-in-Chief.
§ VISCOUNT BURY
said, that he had been in great hope that his noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Morley) would have addressed their Lordships earlier in the evening. He must confess that the Motion of his noble Friend (the Earl of Wemyss) placed him in a dilemma, for He (Viscount Bury) agreed with him that the ranks of the Militia were not full; that it was hardly in an efficient state as regarded discipline; and that the Army, in the matter of recruiting, was even in a more unsatisfactory state than the Militia. But, on the other hand, they must consider the effect of passing the noble Earl's Motion. The fact was that the men would not come. As it had been already explained by more than one speaker, there were grievances and inconveniences connected with the Militia which deterred men from entering into that branch of the Service. Under those circumstances, and taking those things into consideration, to pass such an abstract Resolution as that before the House would effect no good; for it would commit the House to nothing, and therefore could have no effect, for the men would not come any the more simply because that House had declared the desirability of filling the ranks. It would not remove the grievances which existed, and therefore could not have the result of making men join the Militia. It would, in fact, partake of the nature of a brutum fulmen; and he hoped, therefore, that his noble Friend would not ask their Lordships to divide. As to the second part of the Resolution, it was of little use to deal with that until they got the ranks full. At the same time, he quite recognized the fact that the debate which had taken place was a most instructive one. It was plain from it that many military authorities in that House agreed that the present state of the Army was extremely unsatisfactory. Their Lordships must also recognize the fact that, 12 years after the change made by Lord Cardwell, they were actually in a worse condition than they were at that time. There was no doubt that, before the introduction of that scheme, it was impossible to fill up the ranks of the Army, 749 and that the recruits were not sufficient for its ordinary wants. Lord Cardwell, therefore, brought forward an elaborate scheme, from which he anticipated great results. They had since passed through 12 years under that scheme, and had spent millions of money, and yet were no better off than they were before. They must, therefore, now agree that the time had come for acknowledging that the scheme for which they sacrificed so much had been a failure, and that they ought to try an entirely new departure. Lord Cardwell's scheme was divided into two parts, one constructive, and the other destructive. Wherever Lord Cardwell destroyed, he destroyed for good and all; he destroyed the old Army, and buried its bones. But the constructive part of his scheme had entirely failed, and they had no Army now, as they had no Army then. The noble Marquess who had just spoken (the Marquess of Hertford) suggested that they should revive the Committee over which Lord Airey presided. That Committee had made a very useful Report, and offered some very valuable suggestions; but, up to that day, those suggestions had never been fairly taken into consideration. They were told that the Report would be laid upon the Table; but their Lordships all knew how it was delayed until Mr. Childers should elaborate his scheme. The scheme was propounded in the other House, and was then carried into effect. The changes introduced by that scheme were the bases on which their Army now rested, and he would like to put it to their Lordships whether those changes were any more effective than those which had been introduced by Lord Card well? The Egyptian War was, no doubt, a severe test for the new system; but, at the same time, those operations had notoriously dislocated their whole Army system. The Army they sent out, although a good one in itself, exhausted their resources altogether; and if the war had lasted, they would certainly have been driven to very great straits both for men and material. His noble Friend (the Earl of Sandwich) had stated that £3,500,000 had in the first two years been spent upon depôt centres under Lord Cardwell's system; and what good were they now? But no man could form an idea of the enormous sums spent in abolishing the Purchase system 750 and establishing the new scheme. Probably, it would not be too much to say that it cost £12,000,000 or £14,000,000. The old Purchase system might not have been a good one; but the question was, Was it worth while to pay so much to abolish it? Spent upon our men, that sum of money would have been sufficient to fill up the ranks of the Army and Reserves to their full strength—for, as the illustrious Duke upon the Cross Benches (the Duke of Cambridge) had often said, it was all a question of money. If they wanted men, they must pay for them; if they did not pay for them, they could not have them. That was why they had denuded battalions of Militia far below their normal strength, as well as the Army generally, to the deplorable position he had described. He hoped, however, that his noble Friend would not press his Motion; and one reason why he did so was that they had no right in that House to initiate a question of an increase of expenditure. If they asked that the ranks of the Militia should be filled up, they should point out how that was to be done, and that it could be done without increasing the pay of the Militiamen and the Linesmen. For that reason, though he looked upon the debate as a most valuable one, and as one proving the truth of what his noble Friend had said, he did not think it would be advisable to press the Motion to a Division.
THE EARL OF MORLEY
said, he had listened to one or two of the speeches made in the course of the debate with some little astonishment. The noble Viscount who spoke last (Viscount Bury) began with a Philippic against the changes introduced by Lord Card well and Mr. Childers. But he was cautious enough to omit all reference to the period which elapsed between the two Administrations when noble Lords opposite held Office. He did not wish to say anything against the administration of the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Cranbrook) or Colonel Stanley; but he thought the noble Viscount must have heard the noble Viscount's (Viscount Bury's) speech with something like dismay. The noble Viscount spoke of all the money spent on depôt centres by Liberal Governments; but was he not himself, in some measure, responsible while he was in Office? Was all the money spent on the Militia 751 depôts spent by the Liberal Government? Then, as to the statement that the changes made by Lord Cardwell and Mr. Childers were absolute failures, and that we had no greater Reserves than in 1870, he begged absolutely to deny it. In proof of that, he would ask whether, in 1870, we could possibly have done what we did last autumn, when we sent 28,000 men out of the country? Two of the noble Lords opposite who had spoken were extremely bitter against the organization of the War Office, and against the permanent officials in Pall Mall; but they appeared to forget that there was a military as well as a civilian element there, and that there were distinguished Generals at the War Office whose advice was taken by the Secretary of State for War on all occasions. There was a distinguished General who presided over the Auxiliary Forces, and he would like to know where they could get better advice? He should now confine himself to answering the speech of the noble Earl on the Cross Benches (the Earl of Wemyss), who had brought the Motion forward; and, in doing so, he must say he was glad the noble Earl did not postpone recurring to his military experiences until we had experienced a great disaster, because then their Lordships would have been deprived of an eloquent speech and an interesting debate. But there was something singularly inconsequential in the Motion and the speech the noble Earl began by stating that the military organization was defective. Indeed, be (the Earl of Morley) could only look upon the Motion as a censure of the military organization of the present day. The noble Earl chiefly found fault with the defective state of the Regular Forces; but the remedy be proposed was not to improve the Regular Forces, but to endeavour to recruit the Militia up to its full Establishment, and even to add to that Establishment. [The Earl of WEMYSS: Hear, hear!] He should be glad if the noble Earl would show him any sequence between the two. The noble Earl based his Motion on the assertion, first, that we had sacrificed our First Line to the Reserve; and, secondly, that our recruiting system had broken down. He based these assertions upon some remarks made by Mr. Childers, but which were somewhat different from what the noble 752 Earl had quoted, and upon a very able article in The Nineteenth Century, by Sir Lintorn Simmons, though some of the statements were exaggerated. The only tittle of evidence the noble Earl had alleged was taken from an experience of two battalions. In one portion of the article by Sir Lintorn Simmons there was an important mistake, for he stated that the Home Army was 8,000 under its Establishment, and then he went on to say that this year it would be 17,000 or 20,000 under its proper strength, and that that state of things would go on until the deficiency was 30,000. He wished he knew what were the data on which Sir Lintorn Simmons had made that statement. As far as He knew, the recruiting this year was better than in former years instead of worse, and would more than meet the ordinary demands of the Army. It was now going on at the rate of 3,000 a-month, and had produced in the first six months of this year about 3,000 men more than were obtained in the first six months of 1882. An argument that had been used over and over again against the pro-sent system was that it had increased waste enormously, and to an extent that could not be met by recruiting; and it was assumed that all waste, whether from desertion, dismissal, or discharge, was entirely due to the unfortunate system of his noble Friend (Viscount Cardwell). Now, he would state the results of a comparison be bad made between the last 10 years of the long-service system and the last 10 years of short service. In the last 10 years of the long-service system, ending in 1870, the desertions numbered in all 21,800, while in the 10 years from 1873 to 1882 they numbered 28,900, the increase being 7,000. That did not show that the whole or a fraction of the desertion was entirely due to his noble Friend's system of short service But it was evident that the number was very considerable under both systems alike. Marking for desertion was only abolished in 1870, so that, in the 10 years of long service that he had instanced, deserters were marked, and that did not offer a very strong argument for a revival of the marking system as a check to desertion. It was to be noticed that before 1870 a man was struck off the strength of his regiment if he was absent for two months; but it had now been reduced to 21 days, therefore it was clear that this cir- 753 cumstance must be taken into account in comparing the desertions in the first period with those in the second period; and it would show an undue proportion of desertion in the latter period. He really believed that if they examined the figures carefully they would find that the desertion was quite as enormous in the 10 years of long service as in the 10 of short, if not more so. The other causes of waste might, for convenience, be classified together as discharges from various causes, and deaths. The result of the figures was this—that in the 10 years of long service 177,000 men left the Army on account of death or discharge. In the 10 years of short service was there an increase? No, there was a positive decrease of 4,000; and the loss in the 10 years from discharge and death was reduced to 173,000. Those were very remarkable figures, and showed that the waste of the Army could not be attributed to short service. It was often said that these results were all very well; but the recruiting was not successful, and could not keep pace with the waste. Now, what were the facts? The total average annual waste of the last 10 years of long service was about 20,000, and the total of recruits was about 15,000. The total average annual waste of the 10 years of short service, including a large number of men—3,500 on an average—who passed into the Reserve, was 24,000, and the average number of recruits was 24,400. In one case, the annual waste exceeded the numbers supplied by recruiting; and, in the other, the numbers of recruits exceeded the annual waste. The truth was that 10 or 15 years ago the Army was unable to furnish drafts for foreign service, and was also year by year reducing the Establishment by about 4,000 men. The noble Earl who moved the Resolution referred to the state of the battalions at Aldershot, and there was no question about their strength. If the noble Earl wished to have the whole Army placed on a war footing, and able to send all its battalions out of the country at a moment's notice, a much stronger Army would be necessary than they at present possessed. All that was now aimed at was that one Army Corps should be ready for immediate active service, with another in an advanced state of preparation; and, if more were wanted, it would be neces- 754 sary to complete the 48 low-strength battalions with the Reserves. The noble Earl mentioned these low-strength battalions; but the last Returns showed that they had lately been recruited considerably beyond the figures quoted by the noble Earl, and that process was still going on. He (the Earl of Morley) fully admitted—and so did Mr. Childers admit—that the strength of these battalions was in many cases extremely low, and that none of them were on a Peace Establishment fit for the field. They were designed to act partly as recruiting depôts to supply foreign drafts, partly to perform such home duties as their strength allowed, and to afford cadres which could be expanded in time of war. But, at the same time, he must repeat it was unfair and misleading to fix upon two or three of the weakest of these low-strength battalions, and to say that they were miserable regiments, unfitted for service, and that the whole system had consequently broken down. It was also said that the Army Reserve was weaker in 1883 than in 1873. On January 1, 1873, there were 31,000 men in the Reserves, but 20,000 of them were pensioners over 40 years of age.
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
the numbers might be greater in January, 1883, than in 1873; but that was at the expense of the First Line.
THE EARL OF MORLEY
said, that the noble Lord who had made the comparison could not really think that these pensioners were efficient men who would be available to fill gaps in regiments on active service; for, if he did, he (the Earl of Morley) could not agree with him. On January 1, 1883, the First Class Army Reserve numbered 27,000 men, of whom 11,000 had been mobilized for service in Egypt; and a Reserve of that kind, with so largo a proportion of useful men, was surely better than a larger Reserve with 20,000 pensioners. The noble Earl had forgotten to mention that nearly a third of the true Reserve last year was at the time fighting on the Nile, and that it was impossible that it could be in two places at once; the men could not serve with the Colours, and remain at homo in the Reserve also. He (the Earl of Morley) would admit that on the 1st of January,1883, the Army Establishment at home was below its numbers. There was, in fact, a deficiency of between 4,000 and 5,000 men; but 755 since that time large numbers of men had returned from India, and, as their terms of service expired, went to the Reserve; and as the Reserves were further swollen by the return of men from Egpyt, the total now would be somewhat over 30,000 men. The result had been described as a miserable one; but he did not consider it so at all, and he ventured to say that, by the 30,000 men just mentioned, the Reserve was stronger than it was 10 years ago; and he challenged any noble Lord to deny that it was so. He was at a loss to understand what was meant when it was said that the Militia received no attention. In 1867 its effective strength was 70,000; at the beginning of this year it was 104,400; and now it would be 109,000. Of course, the non-calling out of the Irish Militia was due to higher than financial reasons. At one time recruits were drilled for 14 days, and the period of training was 27 days; but the 14 days had been increased to 56, and even 63 in some cases. Could it be denied that the adjutants and permanent staff were more efficient than they used to be?
THE EARL OF LIMERICK
said, that the Irish Militia were not included in the Return for 1867; they were not trained then.
THE EARL OF MORLEY
said, that on referring to the annual Returns he found that that was the case, and he apologized for having inadvertently taken that year. But he would take 1865, a year the Irish Militia were trained, and we then had 101,000, as against 109,000 this year. As to recruiting for the Militia, we had this year obtained 18,000 recruits, as against 13,500 in the first five months of last year; and during the same period 4,500 of the Militia had joined the Regular Forces. What was proposed appeared to him to involve an addition of 30,000 men to the Militia; and he thought it would be a long time before the country would consent to it. The ballot had been mentioned; but the report of a very influential Committee was against the adoption of that measure. He had endeavoured to show that the present system was anything but a failure, and he did not admit that recruiting was breaking down; indeed, on the whole, it was never more flourishing. He must admit that, even in its present flourishing condition, it was not 756 to be anticipated that it would be able to make good this year the deficiency which all deplored. Other measures, which he had explained on a previous occasion, had been taken at home and in India to meet this difficulty, which he hoped might prove successful. He denied that either himself or the Secretary of State for War were at all disposed to treat the matter light-heartedly. They looked upon it as one of the greatest importance, and as such it was constantly engaging and receiving their careful attention. On the flimsy facts adduced it was unfair to say that the present short-service system was a failure; and, as the Resolution implied that the whole military organization was bad, he could not accept it, although he quite agreed with that part of it which spoke of the importance of the Militia.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
said, that no man could be absolutely free to take entirely his own way, and deal entirely by his own judgment with matters of administration. He himself, as succeeding. Lord Cardwell at the War Office, which he had done twice, found a great number of subjects had been opened up which required to be settled. Many things had been done which could not be undone. It was impossible to alter them; and he had therefore to endeavour to make the best of the circumstances in which he found himself. Promotion was at a standstill, and he had to take steps to advance it by an expenditure the necessity for which Lord Cardwell must have contemplated. There was, for instance, the question of the abolition of Purchase. Upon that the expenditure had been enormous; and it was impossible to go back, for it was necessary to carry out a system which could not be stopped without reducing the Army to a state of greater chaos than it was before. So, also, with regard to brigade depôts. When he came into Office, he believed that £2,000,000 out of £2,500,000 had been pledged to be expended upon that scheme, and it was necessary to continue it. He had no desire to introduce anything personal into the discussion; but he mentioned these things to explain that he was obliged, without entering into the question whether anything better could be advised, to continue on a course which had already been entered upon and to give it a fair trial. It had been said that a civilian Secretary of 757 State for War seemed to be isolated among civilians; but the illustrious Duke on the Cross-Benches knew that when he (Viscount Cranbrook) held that Office, he endeavoured to get the opinions of Staff and Regimental officers, and of Generals who had passed through all the grades of the Service. With regard to the Militia, the very facts to which his noble Friend behind him (Viscount Hardinge) had adverted would show that so far from not consulting the Heads of the Militia, he did exactly the reverse. Colonel Stanley, at that time Under Secretary of State, afterwards to become Secretary, was an active colonel in a Militia regiment; and, moreover, the appointment of the Committee on which the noble Duke sat was but an attempt to obtain from the Militia colonels themselves their opinions as to the best mode of dealing with the Militia. He thought the best thing they could do in that House was to avoid as far as possible anything that would tend to disturb the existing systems under which men were enlisted and officers joined. His noble Friend behind him (the Marquess of Hertford) had spoken of going directly back to long service. His noble Friend might say what he liked upon that subject; but it was an absolute impossibility to go back, thereby disturbing the existing state of thing in order to give effect to a vague and theoretic view, for this simple reason—that, under the long-service system, we could not get the recruits. We must look the facts in the face. The long-service system had failed, and, therefore, we had to adopt a system of almost entirely short service. He was far from saying that we had not many defects and difficulties to contend with. They had the defects which must come from the scheme of filling up the regiments first on the roster to their full strength in the manner in force at present. With regard to the enlistment of young men, he thought it should be an absolute rule that they should not send men to India until they were 20 years of age. That was no reason, however, why we should not accept recruits at the age of 18; because, by giving them the proper food and putting them under discipline for two years, they would make them stronger and fitter men for the purpose than if they left them to themselves in the streets. He was convinced that men of 19, who had been a year in 758 the Army, were better than men of 20 picked up in the streets. The present Motion was one which he could not support, because he did not believe it to be correct. In the first place, he did not admit that he was to blame for the system under which we were living; yet, at the same time, it had been his duty to carry it into effect, and to give as great efficiency to it as he could. He did not believe that, even supposing the military organization to be inefficient at that present moment, it could be remedied by the means indicated by his noble Friend (the Earl of Wemyss) in his Motion. It was altogether out of the question. He had endeavoured to improve the condition of the Militia. He altered the Acts, in order to meet the contingencies to which some noble Lords had adverted this evening, with a view to improve as far as possible the condition of the depôts; and, at the same time, he endeavoured to get at the best way of improving the Militia drill. A great stimulus was given to Militia recruiting by producing some of the men at Aldershot, and showing the materials of which the Militia was composed. Those noble Lords who spoke from behind him had mentioned certain circumstances which, in their judgment, militated against the recruiting of the Militia. These were subjects which were very well worthy of attention; but if noble Lords would look at the Returns of the Inspector General of Recruiting, they would find that there was a most enormous loss in the Militia between the time at which a man agreed to enroll, and the time at which he came up for training. He believed he might say, without exaggeration, that on the average 25 per cent were wanting at the time of training. That was an enormous amount, and it was most desirable, therefore, to find some means of bringing the men to training after they had enlisted. Many a man used to take the 10s. and spend it on his immediate wants, without any intention of presenting himself at the depôt; and, though they did not now give the 10s., there was the same difficulty in bringing up the men. For many years we had not been able to fill up the Militia to its full amount; but his noble Friend took only a part of the recommendations of the Committee, and left out the rest. The Committee recommended practically 759 what General Peel had recommended—namely, that there should be a fixed amount—75 per cent of the existing number—and that the Militia Reserve should be in excess of that. This was perfectly right, and it was a very excellent system. They had to ask themselves if it was essential that they should have the Militia Reserve 30,000 in excess of the 131,000 constituting the Militia? So far as he was concerned, if they could double the Militia Reserve, he would be delighted; but they had to look at the facts. Could they got the Militia Regiments filled up to the strength which they desired? In that House they were at liberty to theorize as much as they pleased; but in "another place" everything their Lordships in that House discussed freely and in theory must be discussed practically, and with a view to expenditure; and he ventured to say it would be no use to ask the House of Commons to give the money which would enable them to have 30,000 additional Militiamen beyond the Establishment of 131,000. He strongly felt that this country was not in quite so lamentable a condition as his noble Friend would have them believe. For upwards of two centuries, with the exception of William III., no foreign enemy had trodden the soil of England, and William III. could hardly be considered as a foreign invader, because he was received with open arms by considerable sections of society in this country. He laid great stress on the Reserve. He wished it were greater; he wished the Army had been kept up to that greater standard that would have enabled them, to some extent, to fulfil the duty of bringing up their Reserves to a higher level. The failure there was the want of money; they kept their Army at a certain amount, and it practically amounted to this—they had an Army which was called upon to perform a great variety of duties, a great portion of which was done abroad, and as the men were sent abroad, they necessarily had to deplete the Force at home. If they were obliged to deplete the battalion at home to a certain extent to supply the battalion abroad, they must recruit the Army at home by getting new men. He was not sure that they ought not then to call out a Militia battalion; but when both battalions were abroad, there ought to be a new depôt 760 for a third battalion, and one battalion of Militia should be called out. But this country had been so much accustomed to conduct little wars, with a Peace Establishment, that they could not get it to do that. At that moment they had an Army of Occupation in Egypt, and they expected the Minister to come down to Parliament, and to have his men in two places at once. The thing was impossible. They had sent their best men out of the country to act as an Army of Occupation abroad, and in doing so had depleted their regiments at home; and unless they took upon themselves the expense of bringing out third battalions, or calling out the Militia to supply the place of the battalions abroad, they would always experience those difficulties, whether they had long service, or short service, or a mixture of both. He sincerely hoped that his noble Friend would not press his Motion to a Division. If he did, while agreeing with him in the desire to have the Militia recruited up to its full extent, and that the Militia Reserve should be efficient, he could not say that these things were essential to our military organization. He agreed with the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hertford) that what they had to remedy first was the First Line. In the first place, let them assist the Government, without regard to Party, by showing that they were all earnestly desirous to have the Army up to a high position; and that, whether by the support of their votes, or by money, they would not shrink from giving what was needful to put the Army in an efficient state. He did not speak of invasion, because he believed there never was a time at which, if invasion were threatened, this country could bring to the front so many armed and well-trained men as she could do now. Even in the Napoleonic Wars, England had a Reserve that was brought to the front at one moment on the threat of invasion. But a great country like this had to look a great deal beyond that. It had to support its diplomacy by showing its strength in reserve, and by showing it in various parts of the world. They should also show that it was neither afraid to give the money nor the men to keep its Army upon a proper footing. If both Houses were agreed to do that, and to bring the Army into such a position, whether by 761 long or by short service, or by an admixture of the two, then they would have done the essential thing for the country, and the next thing would be to bring the Militia into an efficient state; but the Line should be the first thing to be considered. But do not let them suppose that, by carrying that Motion, they were doing much for either of those objects.
§ THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
said, he considered that the debate had been one of great importance; still, it was absurd to suppose that they could upset what they had recently done; the men would not know what they were doing, or going to do. Whether they were right or wrong, nothing could be worse in those military matters than constant changes. Let it be distinctly laid down, so that it should be fully known, what was to be the condition on which the men were to serve, and they might depend upon it that there would be much greater facilities for securing men than there could be if their minds were perplexed by constant changes. In former days, the men did not know much about those discussions; but now, with the march of popular intelligence, and the diffusion of public prints, the men knew just as well as their Lordships did what was being talked about; and they studied and judged for themselves whether they were benefited or not by the recommendations that were made with the view of bringing up the numbers of the Army. He had listened for several hours to the various remarks which had been offered that evening, with many of which he agreed, although from others he differed. But what was the upshot of them all? Why, more money; it was the old story, and he was afraid he had repeated it ad nauseam; and unless the country, by its Representatives in the House of Commons, chose to pay more money for the Army, none of those things which had been recommended could be done. Take, for example, what the noble Viscount (Viscount Cranbrook) had said with regard to raising a third battalion, when two battalions of a regiment were abroad. That could not be done without more money. He dared say the country would, on great occasions, find the additional money required, but not for a little war. Every one of the things they had heard of that night, however, meant money; and without more money none of those 762 recommendations could be carried out. There was no question that the Army was under the Establishment, as was also the Militia; and the object of them all must be to get the Army made as efficient as possible. He was glad to hear the noble Viscount say that the Government must, without regard to Party, be supported in trying to introduce a system which would provide the number of men required to fill up the ranks of the Army. To bring those men into the ranks of the Army was the first problem; and then, after they had done that, they might try to fill up the Militia; but to try to fill up the Militia before they filled up the Line was like putting the cart before the horse, because the Militia would be of very great value to them after the Army was completed. Both the noble Marquess at the head of the War Office and the noble Earl the Under Secretary of State for War (the Earl of Morley) were endeavouring to find the best means of bringing the Line up to its full strength. Until that had been done they could not force recruiting for the Militia, because by so doing they would injure recruiting for the Line. They were now endeavouring to carry out a plan for attracting recruits more readily to the Army; and if noble Lords would support those endeavours, the chances were that they would do better than they had been doing. But they were recruiting now under a more easy condition than they did a short time ago. He agreed with the noble Viscount that it was impossible to get men at the age at which they actually wanted them. They had gone down to a lower age—18—and by so doing were opening the door again for the entrance of younger men, and that alone had produced a considerable effect on the numbers, for many young men were coming in; but many would be wanted this year, and more next, as the discharged men would be in greater numbers. He believed that the more they opened the recruiting of the Army, with every condition of long-service, short-service, or middle-service, the better. In fact, they ought, as it were, to have a sort of Free Trade in enlistment. Some men might prefer the long, some a medium, and some the short service; but to talk of going back to the long-service system, pure and simple, could not be done. It was absurd, because they could not get the men. Such an 763 Army as ours depended on the condition of labour. For instance, if there was a good harvest and plenty of employment, enlisting fell off. It was difficult in a country like ours to keep the ranks full at all times. They were dependent upon circumstances over which they had no control. He hoped no attempt would now be made to alter the conditions under which men entered the Army. He regretted to see some regiments so low; but it was impossible to say why one corps was full and another not. They had by degrees gone back to the scheme originally proposed when the short-service system was introduced; and, if they came back to that condition of things, he thought it would be found a much better mode of filling the Army than any other he could devise. As he was in constant communication with the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War and the noble Earl, he could assert that no one was more anxious than they were to bring the Service into as thoroughly effective a condition as their Lordships could desire.
§ THE EARL OF NORTHBROOK
said, he wished, before the close of the debate, to thank the illustrious Duke on the Cross Benches for the testimony he had borne to the energetic steps the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War was taking for bringing up the strength of the Army. He should have been sorry, at the same time, if it had closed without the Government giving the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Cranbrook) their warmest thanks for his support. He (the Earl of Northbrook) personally wished to express the great satisfaction which they felt at the course taken by the noble Viscount and by his Predecessor in Office (Colonel Stanley), who had thought it right not to disturb the measures of his noble Friend (Viscount Cardwell). Both of them, when in Office, had given those measures their support, and Colonel Stanley had made great efforts to carry them into effect. The result of these measures was, he believed, that the Military Forces of the country were in a position of greater strength and efficiency than they had ever been in previously. Those who remembered the period of the Crimean War, and the difficulties of the year 1870, might look back with great satisfaction to the year 1878, when Lord Beaconsfield had to increase the Forces 764 of the country, and at the mode in which the Egyptian Expedition was prepared and sent out. He would add, with regard to what had been said in the course of the debate, that it was entirely inaccurate to say that that Expedition was all we could do. The Reserves behind amounted to 44,000 men. With regard to the Militia, which was the main subject of the present Motion, he entirely concurred in what the noble Viscount had stated. Successive Secretaries of State for War had done all in their power to improve the Militia Force. He did not understand how the proposals of the noble Earl on the Cross Benches (the Earl of Wemyss) could improve the condition of the Regular Forces; indeed, any extraordinary efforts to raise the strength of the Militia must interfere with the recruiting for the Army; and he therefore hoped their Lordships would negative the Motion.
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
, in reply, said, he must again press upon their Lord-ships' notice the nature of the observations he had made as to the reduction of the strength of battalions of the Line. He would further state that at the parade on Her Majesty's Birthday at the Curragh, the strongest regiments furnished four companies of 17 file, and the weakest regiments companies of 13 file. There was a great principle at stake in this matter, and it appeared that their Lordships were very much divided upon the subject, though the two Front Benches appeared to be combined to resist his Motion. He (the Earl of Wemyss) had recently come from "a place" where they divided when any sound principle was at stake, and they were all the more ready to divide when the two Front Benches assisted each other, which generally boded ill for the public interests. He felt, therefore, notwithstanding the advice tendered, that as he had been communicated with by several noble Lords, some of whom wished him to divide and others not to divide the House, he would venture to obey his own instinct and the practice he had followed in "another place" whenever he had thought he was right. He should, therefore, ask their Lordships to go to a Division.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 29; Not-Contents 25: Majority 4.765
|Exeter, M.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Winchester, M.||Harlech, L.|
|Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)|
|Kintore, E. (E. Kintore)|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Moore, L. (M. Drogheda.)|
|Powis, E.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.) [Teller.]|
|Sandwich, E.||Stewart of 'Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Hardinge, V.||Strafford, L, (V. Enfield.)|
|Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Denman, L.||Templemore, L.|
|de Ros, L.||Waveney, L.|
|Digby, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.) [Teller.]|
|Douglas, L. (E. Home.)|
|Selborne, E. (L. Chancellor.)||Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalbane.)|
|Derby, E.||Carrington, L.|
|Granville, E.||Fitzgerald, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Hammond, L.|
|Morley, E.||Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)|
|Northbrook, E.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Monson, L. [Teller.]|
|Cranbrook, V.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Sherbrooke, V.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Aahford, L. (V. Bury.)||Truro, L.|
|Belper, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) [Teller.]|
§ Resolved in the affirmative.
§ House adjourned at half past Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.