§ On the Motion that the Order of the Day for a Committee of Supply be now read,
§ Mr. W. Williams
rose to bring forward the Motion which he had announced at an earlier part of the evening. No one objected more than he did to bringing forward Motions without giving proper notice; but the time since the Estimates had been submitted to the House was so short, that he was not able to give the ordinary notice of his intention. If, however, any objection should be taken, in point of form, to his amendment, he would not press it. Looking, then, at the Estimates before him, he must say that he was much astonished at the amount proposed. He had examined the Army Estimates since the time of the battle of Waterloo down to the present day, and he found that the number of men proposed for the service of this year was larger than had been provided for in 534 any one year since 1818. He must confess that when he saw the tranquillity of the country, and the vast amount of the forces proposed to be maintained, he was much astonished. The number proposed for the Army this year was 129,677 men, to which might be added 10,000 embodied pensioners, for whom provision was to be made. Artillery and engineers 8,811 men; Marines on shore 6,000 men; Irish Police 9,000 men; thus making altogether an effective military force capable of being called into action at any moment of 163,488 men, and this, after twenty-eight years peace, and when we were on friendly terms with every nation of the earth. He would maintain that the Irish Police was really a military force, and he had the evidence of Major Browne, the military inspector of that force, in support of the fact. This Gentleman stated that the Police was "one of the most noble forces that ever was seen. I am satisfied that they will do anything that could be expected from the bravest men. I wish I was out of Dublin at the head of such a force, for I believe that there is not a man among them that would not arrest the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury, if necessary." Now, the Lord Lieutenant had the power of augmenting this Police force to any number he thought proper, without reference to any Vote of this House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might not be aware of this—but the power was conferred by the 6th of William IV., chap. 12, sec. 13. He would now pass to the non-effective force. There were first the Yeomanry, amounting to 14,263 men; the Militia on half-pay and those on service numbering 6,000 men; general and other officers on half-pay, 4,574. The none-effective privates of the regular Army amounted to 51,777 men, deducting the 10,000 pensioners; the retired Artillery on pensions to 8,586 men. Then there were the Marines, amounting to 6,000 men, the Metropolitan Police, and the Borough and County Police. The Police might be armed, and some of them had, in fact, been sent armed to South Wales. He made the non-effective force amount to about 102,590 men, which, when added to the regular army, made altogether the number of men amount to 266,078. He would ask, if the maintenance of such a force as that was at all to be justified? Looking at the state of the country, and the extreme suffering of the great mass of the people, upon whom the weight of taxation must necessarily fall to support 535 this enormous force—looking at the increase of taxation which had taken place within the last ten years, which amounted in the whole to not less than 8,000,000l. sterling—looking at all those things, he asserted, that if they were determined to maintain such a force, it was impossible that they could give up the Property Tax next year, according to the promise given by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. They were expending the 8,000,000l. of increased taxation in supporting this large and unnecessary force, and other extravagant expenditures. In 1822 and 1823 the average amount of the Military force was 92,000 men, independent of the Artillery, Engineers, and Marines. In the present year the regular Army amounted to 129,677 men; and taking the embodied pensioners to the amount of 10,000 men, the increase of 2,500 men the Royal Marines, and the 9,000 Irish Police, he found that there were about 59,000 effective men this year more than the average of 1822 and 1823. What, he again asked, was there in the condition of the country to justify this increase? The average of the army in 1836 and 1837 was 101,000 men, in the present year the increase of the effective force over that average was about 41,000 men. For the last twenty-four years, from 1820 to 1843 inclusive, the average of the Army was 108,735 men, and comparing that amount with the present effective force, including the additional Marines and Pensioners, &c., the excess of the present year was upwards of 33,000 men. He thought it the duty of the Government to show to the House the grounds on which this increase was proposed. He had expected this year that there would have been a considerable reduction on the numbers voted last year; and the right hon. Baronet opposite on that occasion stated that there was a difficulty in reducing the number, as a large amount of force had been required for the war with China; but that in the course of the year a reduction would be made. At present there was no war with any country excepting it was with Ireland; but even that circumstance was not sufficient to account for the increase in the present year. At first, on looking at the Army Estimates of the present year, he thought there had been a diminution in the Expenditure. The cost of the Army last year amounted to 6,225,000l.; and it appeared this year to amount to 5,984,000l. There appeared then to be 536 a reduction of about 241,000l. But on inspecting these Estimates more closely, he found that there was a sum of 202,000l. transferred from the Army Estimates last year to the Commissariat department. [Sir H. Hardinge: "It is so stated in the last page."] Yes; but he naturally looked at the first page, and so on, in examining those Estimates. He certainly could not withhold from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the credit which he felt was due to him for the manner in which his accounts were set forth. He could not find any complaint with these accounts, as they appeared perfectly plain and intelligible. He was, however, convinced, that no case could be made out for this increased demand now to be made upon the country. They ought to appoint a Committee to examine closely into those details, as it was impossible that the House could arrive at any satisfactory conclusion upon the matter. In a Committee the facts could be ascertained. Another point of great importance which a Committee could inquire into was that regarding the cost of the Life Guards, which appeared to him to be astounding. Admitting that the Life Guards were necessary for attending upon Her Majesty, there could be no justification for their costing 130l. each man per annum. There was no ground for the vast increase in the cost of the Foot Guards over the Regiments of the Line. There were three Regiments of the Foot Guards, and the number of men was 5,253. The cost in the various charges attendant upon them amounted to no less a sum than 58,400l., more than the amount necessary for the same number of Regiments of the Line. The amount of pay given to these Foot Guards beyond the Regiments of the Line created much discontent and dissatisfaction among the latter. One of the Lieutenant Colonels of the Guards received 1,200l. a year, and two of them received 1,000l. a year each; but in the Regiments of the Line forty-eight Colonels received but 600l. a year, and fifty-four only 500l. a year. This he thought was a most unfair disparity, when it was considered how much severer the duty was of the commanding officer in the Regiments of the Line to what it was in the Foot Guards. Generally speaking the latter did not perform any colonial service; they were not sent to India for a period of fourteen or fifteen years, nor were they exposed to the same dangers and vicissitudes of climate as the former, The Majors of the Foot Guards 537 received 1l. 3s. per day, when those of the Line only received 16s. The Captains in the same proportion 15s. 6d. in the former, and 11s. 7d. in the latter. The soldiers of the Guards received 1d. per day more than the soldiers of the Line. If this difference be made, the soldiers for the Guards should be chosen from other Regiments for their good conduct and general merit. They had 11,000 men receiving extra 2d. per day for good conduct and long service. These were the men of whom the Guards should be composed. By the adoption of such a system as this there would be a saving to the country of a very considerable sum. He disapproved, too, of the manner in which the soldiers were clad. He did not consider that they were consulting the comforts of the soldier by permitting the Colonels to have the privilege of supplying the clothing rather than having it done by contract. What was the object of allowing such a practice, but to give the Colonels profits? Those officers, he thought, ought to be remunerated in a more honourable way than to look for profits from such a source. The Artillery were not clothed in the same way; but by the Ordnance Department. The Yeomanry Cavalry, too, he thought should be abolished. They were a body of men who as soldiers, were perfectly ridiculous, and were laughed at by the people. He saw last year at Harrowgate, publicans and shopkeepers belonging to a Yeomanry Corps serving their customers with mustacios on their upper lip. He had been told that when one of these regiments was brought out and exercised, the officer in giving the word of command was particular in cautioning the men "not to cut off their horses' ears." This force seemed never to have been of any use, and he was convinced, that in any time of danger, it would be no protection whatever. As to bringing them in aid of the Civil Force, he was happy to find that Government had had too much good sense and feeling to make use of them for that purpose for many years past. They were out in Staffordshire last year, but kept at a pretty good distance from the rioters, or matters would have been much worse. He could point out a great number of items of expenditure not called for by the wants of the public service, or justified by the state of the country. It was true that the people were in a better state, that there was not so much distress and depression in some branches of trade as there was twelve months or two years ago; but he was very 538 much afraid that the present improved state of the country was not of a lasting character, and therefore he called upon the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not to allow himself to be misled by the present cheapness of money, as it did not arise from the exchanges being in favour of this country. He saw from the returns lately made that there was a great excess of gold in the Bank of England, but this arose from, and was produced by, the vast quantities of light sovereigns which hail been paid in, and not from the balance of trade. A return just made showed that in about a year and a half, up to the 1st of January last, 11,000,000l. of light gold had been paid into the Bank of England, and he had no doubt that since the Proclamation which ordered the disfigurement of light gold had been promulgated, the increase had been greater in proportion. He would therefore advise the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not to make his estimates from the present condition of the Bank of England, but to look forward to periods of depression, which were as certain as that night followed day, and which he feared were not very distant. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had said, he would give up the Income Tax after next April twelvemonth. [Sir R. Peel: I have never made such a statement] The right hon. Baronet had distinctly stated he only required the Income Tax for three years. [Sir R. Peel: No, no.] He was very much mistaken if the right hon. Baronet had not held out the expectation that the Income Tax was only required to cure the disordered state of the Finances at that time, and, as he (Mr. W. Williams) had understood the right hon. Baronet, he stated it would require three years to bring the state of the Finances round. At any rate, the right hon. Baronet only asked for the Income Tax for three years. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed to make good the deficiency by totally different means; and, if successful, by means infinitely less oppressive than the introduction of an Income Tax. He begged leave to move, that these Estimates he referred to a select Committee of the House before they proceeded to a Vote to-night; but, as he had stated before, if any hon. Gentleman objected to his doing so on the ground of not having given sufficient notice, he would not press his Motion.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, that he should 539 be extremely sorry if the hon. Member should conceive that he was inclined to treat any of his remarks with anything like discourtesy. On the contrary, he wished to have an opportunity of answering hon. Gentlemen on some points; and it was well known that the most proper time for doing that was in a Committee of Supply, when various questions could be put and answered in a way which could not be done whilst the Speaker was in the Chair. He was sure the hon. Member would be of opinion that, so far as business was concerned, that was by far the most practicable form of proceeding. As to the Committee inquiring on the subject of the Clothing of the Army, that matter was debated in 1833, when Mr. Hume agreed that the clothing was better performed under the colonels of regiments than by general contract. As to the other points into which the hon. Member had moved for a Committee to inquire, a Committee sat for two years expressly to inquire into the force necessary for the public service. It sat in 1834 and 1835, and the hon. Member would find a vast variety of very good information in the reports of that Committee. The right hon. Gentleman in the Chair was one of the Members of the Committee. It consisted of members distinguished for capacity and intelligence, and they came to certain resolutions, which he (Sir H. Hardinge) had before him, as to the force which ought to be kept up in the colonies. He could assure the hon. Member that there was scarcely one single colony on which that Committee had reported in which there was not, at the present day, a smaller force than there was at that time. The hon. Member had also stated that he wished the Committee to inquire into the Yeomanry Cavalry, but all these subjects could be discussed in a Committee of Supply quite as well as in a Committee above stairs, and if the hon. Member would permit the House to go into a Committee of Supply, he would find that that was by far the most opportune method of discussing the questions.
§ Motion withdrawn. Order of the Day read.
§ On the question that the Speaker do now leave the Chair,
Mr. H. Baillie
rose to ask whether the right hon. Baronet had any intention of 540 bringing the subject of Military Pensions under the consideration of the House? If the right hon. and gallant Officer should be enabled to give an answer in the affirmative to that question he should most willingly leave the subject in his hands, and should not proceed with the motion of which he had given notice.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, that the subject to which the hon. Member had called the attention of the House was certainly one of very great importance, as it concerned the provision to be made to the soldier when no longer able to perform his public service. He was, at the present moment, under the arrangement for paying pensioners, collecting a vast variety of useful information, by which more accurate data would be obtained, and by which Government would have the means of forming a more correct opinion on the subject of military pensions. He had every reason to believe that the course which they were about to take was that which the preceding Government intended to take—viz., to obtain every possible information, and then to ascertain by a scientific calculation on what system pensions ought to be given. They were now in the course of obtaining this information, and all he could answer for was this, that without pledging himself, in any respect, or exciting expectations which might end in disappointment, that as soon as the information was collected it was the intention of the Government to bring the whole subject under the consideration of the House.
§ Viscount Howick
expressed his regret at what had fallen from the right hon. and gallant Officer opposite on the subject of Army pensions. The right hon. and gallant Officer should have been prepared to state to the House, after being two years in office, some decided opinion. It was very well to say that he wished to create no expectations, but we all knew that the answer which he had just now made to the question asked of him, in the manner in which it had been asked, was calculated to raise expectations, which, if not hereafter fulfilled, might be extremely inconvenient and dangerous. He thought that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should either have been prepared to state that he did mean to maintain generally the payment of pensions as at present regulated; or, on his own responsibility, as one of the Ministers of the 541 Crown, he should have come down to the House and recommended some distinct alteration. One or other of these two courses he (Lord Howick) thought would have been the proper and right course in the situation in which the right hon. and gallant Officer now stood; why he had adopted a different course he was totally unable to conjecture. He could not allow this short conversation to pass without expressing his great regret that, in answer to a question of this nature, now having stood on the books for a considerable time, asked in the manner in which it had been asked, distinctly pointing to some increase of pension, the right hon. and gallant Officer should have given an answer which left this matter undecided and vague. Having had some little experience in office, he could take on himself most distinctly to state that there could be no difficulty of the kind to which the right hon. and gallant Officer had alluded, with respect to information. It was now nearly five years since he (Lord Howick) had left the War Office. Even at that time great part of the information necessary for any change in contemplation would have been obtained in a short time; and that in the period which had since elapsed, there could be any difficulty in obtaining all the data necessary for the most complete and perfect examination of this question, and every part connected with it, was altogether impossible. Therefore, he said again, that the House and the country had reason to complain of the right hon. and gallant Officer, because he found, that when in office, it was difficult, consistent with his duty, to do those things which he had urged in opposition, and wished rather to put the question by altogether. He confessed it did appear to him that the manly and straightforward course would have been that the right hon. Gentleman should have taken one line or the other on this subject, and not have left it in abeyance in the manner he had.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
did not think he was at all subject to the taunts which the noble Lord had thrown out. He had stated his belief to be, that the late Government intended to take some such course as that which he had taken; and his authority for saying that, was a letter of the noble Lord himself, which he had left in the office as a record of his opinion. In that letter he distinctly stated, that he expected to collect statistical information, 542 on which, when received, he recommended that the provision for pensioners should be taken into further consideration. The noble Lord expressly stated, that he wished to obtain information for that professed object. Was it not likely that, coming into office, he should feel all the difficulties of the question as strongly as the noble Lord; at the same time having his own opinion, but perceiving that the last act of the noble Lord, before he went out of office, was to recommend this course? The noble Lord now turned round, and taunted him with not having given a more manly and straightforward answer. The noble Lord must be aware, that whatever might be his (Sir H. Hardinge's) feelings on the subject, he had abstained from bringing forward the question at the request of individuals high in the Government of the clay. He had, on all occasions, supported Her Majesty's Government on the Army Estimates, and had declined to bring forward the question as to pensioners. He had strong feelings on the subject. When called upon to give evidence on Committees, he did not conceal his opinions, but he thought it was prudent not to bring the matter before the House. Whatever might be his opinions, as a Member of the Government, it was his duty, more guardedly than ever, to bring the question before the Government for their consideration; and if, therefore, he took the course which the noble Lord had chalked out in the letter which he had left, as the recorded expression of his own wishes, he was not at all amenable to the taunt which the noble Lord had thrown out.
§ Viscount Howick
hoped, as the right hon. and gallant Officer had spoken a second time, that the House would indulge him in a few words in reply. He admitted that the answer would have been perfectly well-founded if it had been made last year, or the year before, instead of this year. There might be a difficulty about statistical details five years ago which could hardly continue to be put forward now. The right hon. and gallant Officer was perfectly aware that his letter was not with reference to a projected general increase of pensions, but was with reference to a scheme to which he attached great value—of facilitating the discharge of men at an early age from the Army and placing them upon the registry for deferred pensions.
§ Dr. Bowring
regretted that the hon. Member for Coventry had withdrawn his Motion, and that estimates of such great importance, involving the application of so large a sum of public money, were not referred to a Select Committee for further examination. Two nights were occupied in the discussion of the Navy Estimates; the attention of the House was not called to the details, and the same thing appeared to be about to happen as to the Army Estimates. Generally speaking, neither these nor the Navy Estimates could receive the attention to which they were entitled. He wished the course to be followed here which was adopted in a neighbouring country, where every matter was referred to Special Committees charged with the investigation of all the details; not a sum was voted as to which evidence was not taken as to its necessity, nor was a single vote introduced to the Chamber till it had undergone a thorough preliminary investigation. One night the House had voted away five millions, and to-night they would vote away six millions. He did not think that they properly discharged the functions of legislation by allowing votes to be adopted in the way in which they were adopted in the House. Some opprobrium attached to both sides of the House. Six millions, or one-eighth of the public revenue, was to be disposed of in the presence of one-eighth of the whole House of Commons. He wished that his Friends whom he saw above, would lend more of their assistance. He had understood that the presence of strangers at the Bar was recognised; he for one always looked upon the publicity of the Debates, as one of the great securities for the good conduct of Members, and he only wished that the Public were better informed as to what passed. He had been very much struck with an observation of Mr. Cobbett, when a Member of the House, that the most important topic of paying taxes was sure not to excite the attention it ought to excite—that if more attention was directed to it, the public money would not be voted as it was. His hon. Friend, the Member for Coventry, might have acted judiciously in withdrawing his Motion, because something of irregularity was attached to his proposal, but he should be glad to find it a general rule that matters of this sort were to be submitted to a Select Committee before they came under the notice of the House.
§ Mr. S. Crawford
desired shortly to call the attention of the House to the unconstitutional nature of the immense standing army kept up for the home service. It appeared that there were 48,809 rank and file in the United Kingdom. He estimated the officers for that force at 6,000, which made the regular army amount to 54,809. Adding thereto the pensioners, 10,000, and the volunteer force, 14,000, make an army of near 79,000. The Irish constabulary, which was to all intents and purposes, a Standing Army, amounted to 9,000, which made the whole of this force combined, 87,809. There were other military and marines of the amount of which he had no knowledge. There was a military force kept within the United Kingdom to the amount of 88,000. He would ask the House and the Government, was it necessary to have a force of that amount within the United Kingdom? If it was necessary, why was it necessary? Were the people of the United Kingdom disloyal to the Sovereign? He was perfectly convinced they were not; he was perfectly convinced there never was a Sovereign on the Throne of these Realms to whom the people of every part of the United Kingdom were more attached. Were they disloyal to the Constitution? They were not so; they were only desirous to obtain the full benefits of the constitution. Then was it necessary for the protection of life and property, that this army should be kept up? If you said, that it was necessary for the protection of life and property, then he asked, how came that necessity to exist. How did it happen that you could not secure life and property in this realm without keeping up such an army as that? The reason was this, that justice was not done to the working classes. He did not now speak of political rights; he spoke of the condition of the working classes. He said, that this Government, and this Legislature, did not do justice to the working classes; they did not consider the wants of the poor, nor did they provide for the wants of the poor as they ought: they legislated for other interests than the poor man's interests, and the consequence was, that the poor man was discontented, and the consequence of that discontent was, that the Government was obliged to keep up that unconstitutional amount of force. In the 15th century, the working classes were deprived of the right they had in the land, which was 545 given to the rich; but, as a compensation, they obtained a Poor Law, which worked for their benefit. But what had been done since? They had broken faith with the working classes, they had deprived them of those rights which had been conferred upon them when their right in the land was estranged, and they were now told, that they could not obtain relief in any other manner than one which was revolting to their feelings. Still they maintained the Corn Laws, which greatly enhanced the price of the food they were obliged to eat. That was one of the great crimes which the Legislature had committed against the poor and the labouring classes—it was one of the causes of the insubordination which occasionally manifested itself, and then it was made a pretext for keeping up such a large military force. The taxation, which in former times was paid by the rich, was now imposed upon the poor; yet, this large force was to be maintained at their charge, and they were not to be allowed even to grumble. What was the reason they were now obliged to keep such an army in Ireland? They had imposed upon that country a most iniquitous Poor Law—a law which was repugnant to the feelings of all classes—a law which tended to shake that benevolent feeling upon which the poor had formerly subsisted, and drove all applicants for relief into a Poor House, which was abhorrent to their feelings. Surely it was no wonder that discontent should prevail, and that a very large army was rendered necessary for the purpose of levying the rates, from which the people derived no benefit [Question.] He was speaking to the question; he was showing why it was that they were obliged to keep up such a large Standing Army. They were giving the people education—he valued it much; but he would tell them that if they educated the people, without, at the same time, affording them the means of improving their condition, they would only add very greatly to the discontent which already existed. The injustice done to the suffering people was the cause of their asking for so large a force. It would be wholly unnecessary if the people were treated fairly and honestly. A large Standing Army was not required in the time of Alfred. The time was when the Sheriff, with the posse comitatus, was able to keep the peace; but dare they now entrust him with the duty 546 unless they backed him with troops of soldiery? He would not object to the volunteer system if the corps were raised from the body of the people; but he protested against the present system, as the Yeomanry Corps were composed entirely of one class, and that a class which was hostile to the working classes. It was the duty of the Representatives of the people to withhold from the Government an excessive military force, and by that means force them to consider and redress the grievances of the people. It was the duty of hon. Members of that House to make a stand against the demands of the Government, but he was afraid that he could not hope at the present time to make an effective one, because he was not supported by Members on his side of the House as he ought to be. If the large minority which voted upon the party question the other night would stand up upon that which was a far more important question to the poor throughout the country, no Government could withstand him. No individual could fight the battle unless he met with support both in that House and out of doors. He had mooted the question of the large and expensive Standing Army out of doors, and he was free to admit that there had not been such an exhibition of feeling on the part of the people as he had expected. Still he considered it to be his duty to move as an amendment,That the large amount of Standing Army, and every description of military force, now kept up for the service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, are contrary to the principles of constitutional liberty, and dangerous to the rights of the people.
§ Dr. Bowring
had much pleasure in seconding the amendment of his hon. Friend. In his judgment, with a popular Sovereign, a popular Executive, and a popular Legislature, there could be no necessity for a large Standing Army. He had, only a few nights ago, presented a Petition signed by upwards of 1000 of the inhabitants of the town he had the privilege to represent, complaining of the waste of money in keeping up such a military force. They protested, and he protested in their name, against such a waste of the money which was wrung from the poor. Out of doors, he would warn the House, there was a growing discontent against that House and its prodigalness. There were millions of discontented people out of doors who 547 were displeased with the conduct pursued by those who were called the Representatives of the people. It was their duty to allay that discontent before it was too late.
§ Mr. Fielden
said, it appeared to him as if the hon. Gentlemen who were so anxious to vote away some millions of money, had totally forgot where the taxes came from. The large amount of force which was demanded by the Government was rendered necessary by the criminal neglect of the condition of the working classes by Government and that House. They were going to amend the Poor Law Bill—it was impossible; they could never make it acceptable to the people. It was brought in and supported on the plea that it would raise the wages of the labouring poor, and render them independent in character. Had it done so? Had wages been raised? Let the conflagrations which were, unfortunately, now so numerous throughout the country, answer. He warned the House that they were on the borders of a volcano; they must retrace their steps; they must put the working classes in an easier state, or Government and order would be at an end. The cry was always more force; the moment they got more force, they raised the cry of more taxes, and when they got more taxes, then they wanted more force again. There must come an end to such a system. He thought the people were right to insist upon their Representatives stopping the Supplies until the grievances of the people were considered and redressed. He would vote for the amendment.
§ The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question.—Ayes 87; Noes 8: Majority 79.
|List of the AYES.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Arkwright, G.||Collett, W. R.|
|Arundel and Surrey,||Copeland, Mr. Ald.|
|Earl of||Corry, rt. hon. H.|
|Baillie, Col.||Cripps, W.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Darner, hon. Col.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Dawson, hon. T. V.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Dick, Q.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Dickinson, F. H.|
|Borthwick, P.||Douglas, Sir H.|
|Botfield, B.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Bruce, Lord Ernest||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Eliot, Lord|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Escott, B.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Flower, Sir J.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Marton, G.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Masterman, J.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Greenall, P.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Greene, T.||Paget, Col.|
|Gregory, W. H.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Grimston, Visct.||Peel, J.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.||Pollock, Sir F.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Praed, W. T.|
|Hodgson, R.||Pringle, A.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Hope, G. W.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Howard, P. H.||Scarlett, hon. R. C.|
|Howick, Visct.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Hussey, T.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Stanley, Lord|
|Jones, Capt.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Kemble, H.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.||Trotter, J.|
|Langston, J. H.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Layard, Capt.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Wood, Col. T.|
|Lockhart, W.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Lowther, J. H.||Young, J.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||TELLERS.|
|Maclean, D.||Baring, H.|
|McNeill, D.||Freemantle, Sir T.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Blewett, R. J.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Butler, P. S.||Williams, W.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Crawford, S;|
|Scholefield, J.||Bowring, Dr.|
§ House in Committee.
§ Sir H. Hardinge,
in bringing forward the Army Estimates for the ensuing year, said he should take the usual course of stating the causes of the difference between the present Estimate and that of last year. It was not for the sake of keeping up a Standing Army at home, that the Government asked for a large force, and he would show the hon. Member for Rochdale opposite that the real cause was the necessity of affording relief to our troops abroad. The Vote was for 100,295 rank and file, and non-commissioned officers, exclusive of the force employed in the East Indies, 29,971 men, making 130,266. A corresponding Force must always be kept up at home to relieve troops abroad. In 1842 the Force was 122,516, and it was then the intention of Government to make a reduction; but scarcely had the Estimates passed when the events that took place in Cabul compelled them to send six battalions of 1,000 men to the East; these regiments had only completed four years' service at home. In 1843, a reduc- 549 tion of 2,000 was made. Government had contemplated a reduction of 3,500, and this intention would have been pursued, but such was the state of India, that notwithstanding the increased number of battalions sent out, the Governor General could not send home the regiments that ought in regular course to he relieved. These circumstances, combined with events that made it necessary to take measures for the preservation of public tranquillity at home, prevented Government from following out its intention to make the larger reduction he had stated. He might remind hon. Gentlemen who cavilled about expense, that a part of the expense was borne by the East India Company. The expense of nearly 30,000 men in the East Indies, amounting to nearly 1,000,000l., sterling, was defrayed by the Company. Every Government had sanctioned the principle that ten years abroad and five years at home ought to be the order of service. He would now proceed to prove to the hon. Member opposite that the large Force kept up was not for the sake of maintaining a Standing Army, but to afford relief. In 1842, there were twenty-five regiments at home, and seventy-eight abroad. In this state of things it was impossible to keep up the requisite reliefs. No less than twenty-two regiments were abroad that year which had served more than ten years in the Colonies, exclusive of eight or nine regiments in the same situations in the East Indies. There were, in all, in 1842, thirty-two or thirty-three regiments that had served abroad more than ten years. Government felt it a duty to relieve these regiments. Between 1837 and 1842, an additional force of 21,000 men had been raised by Lord Melbourne's Government in consequence of various events, such as the insurrection in Canada, the hostilities in India and China, &c. Of the twenty-five regiments at home in 1842, scarcely any had been at home more than three years and a half, while more than thirty regiments were, serving upwards of ten years abroad. The course taken was to convert nine dépôts into nine second battalions, and to send them abroad, to relieve troops in the various Colonies. By the assistance of these battalions, and by withdrawing 5,500 men from North America, and one regiment from the West Indies, seventeen battalions were sent abroad, and twenty-two regiments in the Colonies withdrawn. It was satisfactory to be able to state that in con- 550 sequence of the measure adopted in 1842, there was not at present in the Colonies a single battalion which had been more than ten years abroad. This, unfortunately, was not the case with respect to the troops in India. There were now in India regiments which had served more than eighteen years abroad, and six regiments that had served more than twenty years. There were thus in India fourteen regiments which had served more than fifteen years in that country, and it was, therefore, important both for the health and discipline of the men, that they should be more regularly and periodically relieved. This object could not be accomplished, without keeping up an adequate relieving force at home, and he was, therefore, justified in repeating, that the object of Government was not the maintenance of a Standing Army in this country, but the necessity of proper relief to our soldiers serving beyond the seas. Take the case of some of the regiments in the East Indies, for instance. There was in that country, among other regiments, the 13th Infantry, commanded by Sir R. Sale, which after serving in the Cabool campaign, and defending most heroically the fortress of Jellalabad, was after twenty years service in India now on its march to Scinde, where, in all probability, it would have to perform very heavy duty. It was the same with the 55th, now in Hong Kong. That regiment had been twenty-two years abroad. Was it right or proper that such things should be? Arrangements had been made, however, to relieve these regiments, and he trusted that the latter would be on its return to this country in the course of the next autumn. Without the means of sending regiments from England, it was obvious that this relief could not take place, and, therefore, he (Sir H. Hardinge) claimed the support of the House for the propositions he should submit to them on the subject. There were now thirteen regiments which had returned from abroad, sonic of them since last November. These regiments generally arrived deficient in strengths, from sickness, casualties, and other causes; and it was, therefore, absolutely necessary to recruit them and make them effective. A large proportion of the Estimates about to be laid before the House was for these recruits. With regard to the Army at home, he had to inform the House, that out of thirty-six battalions, not one had been in this country four years. Her Majesty's Go- 551 vernment had now at home thirty-six battalions instead of twenty-four, which was the number at home in 1842; and thus they were enabled to relieve the regiments on foreign stations with more regularity. It was for that purpose, and not for the purpose of keeping up a Standing Army, he could assure the House that they were maintained. The hon. Member for Coventry had stated, that the country should return to the condition of the Army in 1822; but the hon. Member had forgotten to state, that it was an admitted fact, on all hands, that the force of that year was insufficient. Lord Castlereagh had come down to the House and said, in reference to it, that although the Government had consented to make the experiment of a large reduction in the Army, at that period it was absolutely necessary to increase the force in the ensuing year. The consequence was, that in 1823 the Army had to be increased by six new regiments, and, in 1825, the addition amounted to 25,000 men; an increase over and above the 21,000 reduced in 1822 of 4,000. Another bad consequence which accrued from that mode of reduction was the entailment of a very heavy expense on the public, by the half-pay and pensions of those officers and soldiers who had been reduced, and the bounties for the latter who had to be newly enlisted, It also deprived the country of the services of some valuable officers, while it nearly ruined others by inducing the necessity of repurchase. Then, with regard to the year 1836. The hon. Member said, that the Government of Lord Melbourne had kept up in that year only 101,000 men, while the force for the present year was 129,000; making a difference of 28,000 of all ranks. But if the hon. Member looked to the distribution of the forces in the colonies this year, as compared with that, he would find abundant reason to justify that increase. In India, there were 8,151 more rank and file than in 1836, in China, which was a new service, there were 3,000, in Australia 2,364, and there were other additions in various places to the amount of 20,000 men in all. There had been, however, a reduction of 5,000 men in the force of this year as compared with last on foreign service—in the Mediterranean, 1,794: in Jamaica, 1,300; in the West Indies, 200; in Ceylon, 716, &c. Taking that from 20,000, the real addition made to the Army abroad was 15,000 men. It had been urged that this augmentation was to create 552 a Standing Army, but what object could be gained by increasing the force in Australia, or at the Cape of Good Hope. In the former, officers were living in a state of wretchedness as compared with their mode of life in this country, or at better stations; at the Cape, unfortunate subalterns were stationed 300 miles up the country, with no one to speak to. Could Her Majesty's Government have any object in exiling these gentlemen, except the public service? In 1824, the force in Australia was 400 men; this year it was 5,000. There were, at this moment, 50,000 convicts in that country, while the whole number of free settlers did not amount to 150,000. In Van Diemen's Land, the convicts outnumbered the free settlers. It was requisite that the lives and properties of the latter should be protected, and thence the necessity of the increased force. Having, as he trusted, shown the House that Her Majesty's Government were entitled to support for bringing about more frequent relief to the troops in the colonies, and on foreign service, he should next advert to the arrangements of the forces of the line at home. Instead of twenty-five battalions, which was the number at home on the present Government coming into office, there were now thirty-six; and twenty-two, which were abroad, had been relieved. In the course of the ensuing year, he trusted that a large proportion of the twenty-three regiments in India would also be duly relieved. With regard to the other questions of the hon. Member for Coventry, as to the charge of the non-effective forces, inclusive of the general officers, he begged to remind the House that most of these gallant men were now old, and some of them very infirm. No less than forty-seven of them had died within the past year, and he was sorry to say that few of the survivors were in a condition to fit them for active service. In 1822, the number of general officers was 396; in 1844, it was 171, making a difference of 225. In 1822, the officers retired and reduced upon full pay, was 771; in 1844, it was 360, making a difference of 411. In 1822, the reduced and retired officers upon half-pay and military allowance numbered 9,744; in 1844, they were 4,035, making a difference of 5,709. In 1844, the officers receiving foreign half-pay were, in number, 466; while in 1822, they were 1,108, being a difference of 642. There were then, in all, officers receiving pensions:—
|Reduction of Officers||6,987||Reduction||£142,000|
§ This was a large reduction in that part of the Estimates, in which the patronage of a Government could be most effectually exercised. If to that reduction was added the reduction in the Chelsea Hospital, and ordinary pensions to Negro soldiers and Militia, it would be found that while in 1822 they were in number 98,000, in 1844, they were only 73,101, making a difference of 24,899 in numbers, and in expense of about 320,000l. On these two items alone the pensioners, the half-pay officers, and the general officers, called the dead weight of the Army, but which he (Sir H. Hardinge) should rather call the nom effective service, there had been a reduction equal to a million sterling a year—a reduction, too, it should be stated, which was not merely annual, but which would go on increasing in a large ratio each year. Was not that a strong proof of the manlier in which the present Government—and he would say, former Governments—had endeavoured to keep down the expense of the Army. Having stated these facts, he should proceed with the ordinary parts of the Estimate. The Estimate for the first Vote which he should propose was, 100,295 men; the Estimate for the second, which depended upon it, was 3,431,000l. for their payment and expenses, being 191,859l. less than the Estimate of the last year. That diminution, however, he was bound to inform the House was more apparent than real, as it principally rose from the transfer of the provisions, forage, fuel, and light abroad, as well as the passage of officers and men from one foreign station to another, to the Commissariat and Navy Estimates. In 1836 there had been a transfer of the former of these items from the Commissariat to the Army Estimates; but last year an inquiry was instituted, and the result was the re-transfer this year to the Commissariat. In point of principle it was much the better plan to place every ordinary service under the Army head, but the mode of putting provisions, &c., into the Army Estimates was not by any means free from objection in practice. Her Majesty's Government, under these circumstances, were of opinion that the preferable arrangement was for the Commissariat to take the Bushbrooke Estimate for the supply of provisions, &c.; and he fully 554 concurred with the Duke of Wellington on the propriety of maintaining that department of the Public Service. There was another item to which he should beg to call the attention of the House, namely, the libraries which had been established for the use of each regiment. This year there was 2,000l. proposed for books for them. There were now thirty-eight libraries at home, and forty abroad, in the several regiments; and one had been recently sent out to Hong Kong. In fact, there was no foreign station which would be without a library, or which had not a library at present. He had also to mention the lunatic asylum for officers at Chatham. The spot on which it was placed was not a healthy one, nor fit for the purpose intended, and the Government had accordingly made arrangements to purchase the ground for another in the neighbourhood of Rochester. The third Vote related to the staff. After noting and explaining several items of the Estimates the right hon. Gentleman concluded by saying, he had now gone through the whole, and he would repeat that it was the most anxious wish and desire of Her Majesty's Government to give the House all the information possible upon the subject. The right hon. Baronet moved—that a force (exclusive of the troops employed in the East Indies) of 100,295 men be maintained for the service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from the 1st of April, 1844, to the 31st of March, 1845.
§ Captain Layard
said, no doubt it would be in the recollection of the House, that for the last ten years, upon the Army Estimates being brought under discussion, he had thought it his duty, a duty he owed to the service to which he had the honour to belong—to state his opinion of the immense advantage it would be that men should be allowed to enlist for limited service, and receive a free discharge in ten years, as by such means a very superior class of men, he had no doubt, would be induced to enter the service, and by such means, a great deal of the crime which was now committed would be avoided. There was no greater or graver offence against military law than desertion, and that would, he felt convinced, be much less frequent when those who had enlisted, without consideration, and found themselves unfitted for the service, were assured that at a certain time, by good and steady conduct, they could claim a discharge. In the French service desertion was not so fre- 555 quent as in ours, and it entirely arose from their having only to serve for a limited time, for no soldiers in the world, he was happy to state, had more care taken of them every way than ours. He felt convinced that the parents of young men in the middle classes would not then feel that aversion which was felt against allowing their sons to enter the service: for then, if a boy entered at eighteen and received his discharge at twenty-eight, he would be able to apply himself to any other calling, which would not be the case if he left the service at a later period of life. It had been stated as a reason against limited service, and it seemed at first sight an insurmountable one, that great expense would be incurred by sending home any considerable body of men, supposing the regiment to be abroad; but he considered the expense so entailed would be fully and amply provided for by those who had enlisted for limited service receiving no pension; and he believed that most of the men would remain with the regiment and would re-enlist finding themselves much better off abroad than at home, though of course, more exposed to the vicissitudes of climate. His opinion upon this subject was founded not only upon his own observation, but had been since confirmed by the opinion of many able officers, to whom he had spoken upon the subject: and he believed few, if any, would disagree with him, when they remembered that one, whose judgment upon such a subject must be one of the best, and whose anxiety for the well being of the soldier all must appreciate, agreed with him when he stated the same opinion last year. He alluded to the right hon. Baronet the Secretary at War. He, therefore, wished to ask that right hon. and gallant Officer, if there was any chance of its being carried into effect? In the second place, he wished to ask the gallant Officer if it was in contemplation to increase the bounty with regard to the infantry soldier, as he was most thankful to learn had been done in the case of the cavalry, as, from its inefficiency to supply the soldier's necessaries, the recruit, finding himself in debt had often deserted, believing that good faith had not been kept with him. The next thing he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Baronet to was, the advantage that would arise from making the band sergeant, the master tailor, and corporal, the pioneers belonging to the staff, and giving ten more sergeants and one corporal to each regi- 556 ment, as the companies to which those men belonged could receive no advantage from them, on account of their time being otherwise fully employed. He thought it would be a great encouragement, and one that was well deserved, if the lance sergeants and lance corporals were to receive—the first, three pence a-day, and the second, two pence a-day extra, They had an immense amount of duty to perform; and many of them having to attend school and to pay for it, it threw them into debt. He trusted this would meet with the consideration it well deserved. He must now allude to a subject that was a very painful one to all who were interested in the welfare of the Army—he alluded to the pensioners. A man receiving sixpence a-day might, indeed he a saving to the Poor Rate, but could be of little benefit to the man himself. He knew the soldier thought deeply, and felt deeply upon this subject, and he did trust that an alteration should take place. A sailor would get a pension now of a shilling a-day after twenty-one years' service, but it would take a soldier twenty-eight years' service, which few ever could perform. The badges for good conduct brought forward by the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland had proved of great advantage, and both for that boon, and for the greater allowance of fresh provisions to the troops in the West Indies, the Army felt grateful. He begged to thank the right hon. Baronet and those in authority at the Horse Guards for bringing forward the Savings Banks, which he believed would have in time an excellent effect; though he was sorry to say that a feeling had gone forth amongst the men, that the Government had formed Savings Banks to find out what the men could save, with a view to reduce the pay. Nothing could be more ridiculous; and he trusted by this time the men were disabused upon this notion. He thought praise was due to the gallant Officer the Member for Liverpool who had warmly advocated this Measure, as well as his noble Friend the Member for Chichester. He wished likewise to call the attention of the right hon. and gallant Officer, the Secretary at War, to the great hardship felt by married officers in not being allowed to draw coals and candles, when in lodgings; for instance, a non-commissioned officer, upon being given a commission, if married, which he generally was, must go into lodgings, and how could he live on his pay there, his allowances being stopped? He thought it was a great hardship, and hoped it would be soon 557 attended to. No feeling had actuated him upon such an occasion but the one that would, he felt assured, actuate all, both in and out of the House, a sincere and an anxious desire, at all times, taking into consideration the resources of the country to promote the comfort, the happiness, and the well-being, of those who undismayed by the vicissitudes of climate, undaunted by the sword of the enemy, maintained, as they always had done, the glory and independence of the counrry.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
would endeavour, as briefly as possible, to give an answer to the question which had been put by the gallant Officer opposite. He doubtless was aware that the plan of giving a free discharge after certain periods of service, and affording facilities to obtain discharges, was established in the year 1829. He (Sir H. Hardinge) felt a great interest in that mode, because he always considered it cheap and useful, and one which reconciled private families to their sons entering the Army. It had had that effect, and taking into consideration the number of men who had received free discharges, and also making a fair calculation of the saving of pensions on the single item of the warrant of 1829, there had been a saving of nearly half a million. He believed the actual amount was 497,000l. With respect to bounties, he believed that the bounty and equipment for a cavalry soldier were now sufficient to pay all the expenses of a recruit. With regard to staff- surgeons, the expense was rather heavy, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would scarcely be a party to the arrangement proposed. On the subject of Savings Banks, he felt bound to say that arrangements for them were in progress when he came into office; and whatever credit was due to those who established them belonged to his predecessors. If any soldier deposited his savings in these banks it would not at all affect his pay. His pay would not be altered, and those who imagined so were labouring under a very great error. With respect to coals and candles, he so far agreed with the gallant Officer that every possible arrangement had been made to carry the plan into effect.
§ Mr. W. Williams
was far from being satisfied of the necessity of the large force proposed. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out the necessity of shortening the period of the soldiers' servitude abroad. The right hon. Gentleman naturally felt for the service, and only looked at one side. He (Mr. Williams), however, looked 558 at the condition of the people who were to heavily taxed to maintain this force. It was true there was at this moment less distress than was seen some time ago, but he was afraid the people would soon be in as bad a state as before. There was uniting to justify the keeping up of so large a number of men, and he therefore proposed as an Amendment, that the number be 80,295 instead of 100,295, being a reduction of 20,000 men.
§ Viscount Howick
did not rise for the purpose of supporting the proposition of he hon. Member for Coventry, because he did not think it would be at all politic to make such a reduction as the one now proposed; but he did not consider the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman to be justified by the necessity of affording relief in our colonial possessions. He certainly admitted, that the pressure on the Infantry was stronger than it ought to be; but still if the demand at home, and especially in Ireland, were not so large, this object might be accomplished without keeping up so large a force; and even with that large force, he was of opinion, that in justice to the soldiers of the British army means ought to be taken still further to diminish the pressure of that service upon them. Several measures might be adopted with that view. In the first place, he retained the opinion, which he long ago expressed, that much might be done by diminishing the proportion of each regiment at home. He was persuaded that more efficient depots might he formed by having two companies instead of four. But beyond this he could not help saying, that while the demands upon the Troops of the Line were so heavy, it was very unfortunate that another description of force, upon which the pressure was much less, were not required to take a greater share of duty than they were at present. When he (Viscount Howick) filled the office of Secretary at War, at the time the insurrection broke out in Canada, and when there was an increased demand for troops in the Colonies, he pressed upon Lord Hill the propriety of sending out as a portion of that increased force two battalions of the Guards. That course was adopted. The Guards had now come home, and he was not aware that any other portion of that force had since been sent to our colonial possessions. He was far from saying the Guards ought to take 559 a share of colonial duty like the regiments of the line, but so far as service at such a distance was concerned, and in healthy climates, they might do something. He thought that two battalions of the Guards might be kept abroad, in the Mediterranean, as a regular arrangement. The officers in the Guards had a great advantage over those in the line, inasmuch as they rose to the rank of general officer much more rapidly, and any one in the habit of looking at the brevets could not fail to notice the circumstance, and it was not unreasonable to expect them to take some share of foreign duty. If two battalions were kept abroad, the only effect would be this, that two years out of seven would be passed by them in perfectly healthy colonies. Something might also be done by having a larger proportion of marines, and if a battalion of these were employed in the Mediterranean or at Gibraltar, it would tend to diminish the amount of colonial duty. The hon. and gallant Officer who spoke from that (the Opposition) side of the House adverted to the subject of pensions, saying that it was hard that a soldier retiring after long service, and entirely worn out, should receive only 6d. a day. He could not allow it to be said, that that was a fair representation of the case. That was not the amount to which a really worn out soldier was entitled. It was easy to say, that a larger and more liberal pension ought to be granted; but he hoped, before adopting any such plan, the Government would consider the state of things with which they had to deal a few years ago, and the grounds on which the change took place. Formerly the practice was this:—A soldier had no right to retire on a pension, unless he was unfit for further service. If pronounced unfit for service by a medical board, after serving for twenty-one years, he might retire on a pension of 1s. a day. That regulation was liable to great inconvenience. A multitude of men only thirty-nine years of age had the right to claim this pension. A man was not allowed to claim it unless disabled; but his pension was within a small amount of his regular pay; and he naturally desired to receive 1s. for doing nothing, rather than 1s. 2d. or 1s. 3d. for going through the fatigue of service. The moment the men passed that age, and on representation being made, that they were unfit for 560 longer service, they were discharged. The hon. and gallant Member himself, when Secretary at War, under the Duke of Wellington's Administration, felt the evil so strongly that he endeavoured to check it. He adopted a regulation to prevent a man retiring at the age of thirty-nine, unless he were bonâ fide disabled, and no longer fit for duty. He established the rule, that the certificate of the regimental surgeon should no longer be sufficient; he required that the man should go to Chatham, remain there a certain time and obtain a certificate of his unfitness, and then he required him to appear before the Commissioners of Chelsea Hospital, previous to obtaining his discharge. Even these regulations were found to be inefficient. When the man wanted to go he generally contrived to elude all these precautions. In a letter addressed by a very able medical officer to the right hon. and gallant Member, the Secretary at War, it was stated that men who had never had chronic rheumatism, invariably found themselves attacked by it the moment they reached the age at which they became entitled to a pension, and that numbers had become qualified, on the ground that they suffered from chronic rheumatism. In this manner the Pension List became a growing burthen to the country. According to that system a man who had served his twenty-one years might for thirty years receive a pension nearly equal to his pay as a soldier, and an undoubted proof of the extent to which the abuse was carried was to be found in the fact, that a large number of these pensioners were found to a certain extent to be fit for military duty. [Sir H. Hardinge.—Not for service in the Army.] No; for duty of a different description, for the performance of which the right hon. and gallant Member had organised them to serve for a period of five years. The modified warrant had not come into operation, and great difficulty was found in checking the practice, and it was perfectly notorious, that large numbers of men who had been discharged, on the ground of their being afflicted with fatal complaints, such as consumption, were drawing pensions from the fund. His right hon. Friend had endeavoured to guard against this abuse, by providing that the pension of 6d. a day only should be granted when the soldier was unfit for active duty in the Army, and could largely contribute towards his 561 own maintenance. If not capable of doing anything to maintain himself, it appeared, that his pension could be increased to the same amount as it was under the former I warrant, and that he would be entitled to 1s. a day. It was a delusion, therefore, to say that his right hon. Friend had provided that a man should be discharged from the Army, after he was entirely worn out, with a pension inadequate for his support. Another evil under the former system was one with which the noble Lord, the Member for London, was much struck when he was Paymaster of the Forces, and, as such, was a member of the Board of Commissioners of Chelsea Hospital. Men repeatedly came before the Board whose characters, according to the report of their officers, were bad; yet these men, however notoriously bad their characters might be, were entitled to their discharge and pension after the regular period of service; and although their disability might have been the effect of drunkenness, still, if they had never fallen under the sentence of a court-martial, the Commissioners had no power to refuse them the same pension as that enjoyed by the best and most deserving soldier. To check that abuse, and, at the same time, to increase the pension to the good soldier, he, when Secretary at War, suggested, with the full concurrence of the late Lord Hill and the military authorities of the Horse Guards, that what was called good-conduct pay should be given to the soldier. The soldier whose conduct had been such as to entitle him to it—whose name did not appear in the defaulter's book, obtained on his discharge the good-conduct pay in addition to his pension, and became entitled to receive 1s. 2d. and sometimes 1s. 4d. a day. These facts ought to be considered before they condemned the measure formerly adopted. In his opinion, the country ought to be very jealous of any measure which went to increase the expense of the dead weight of the Army. Much might be done to better the condition of the soldier. They might improve the terribly inefficient barracks in many of our distant Colonies; they might still improve the provisions which they receive in those climates, and they might carry further measures for facilitating an easier discharge of men from the Army; this last improvement would encourage parents to send their sons into the Army, for at 562 present if a young man entered the Army he was seldom able to return from abroad o visit his family. Though he was aware here were strong prejudices against such n alteration, he yet hoped the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would turn his attention to it. In doing so, however, he entreated him not to adhere to the warrant of 1829. One part of that warrant vas very objectionable, that part which enabled a man, after certain periods of service, to obtain his discharge, and a gratuity on his discharge. He had proposed, that instead of a gratuity, the soldier should have the right to have his lame registered at Chelsea with a view to afterwards being entitled to his pension. There was another point to which he wished to call the attention of the House, lamely, the change made in the Estimates of this year as to the mode of charging he expense of provisions for the troops serving abroad. The manner in which this change had taken place was rather extraordinary. He thought the right hon. Gentleman ought to have laid on the fable of the House the Treasury Minute, and any other documents which could show the propriety of the change. In the absence of any such documents, he disapproved of the change, not merely because the whole charge did not now appear in the Estimates, but because he thought the charge was not a proper one under the head of the Commissariat Department. He must say that the administration of the Commissariat Department had always been, in his opinion, both under Gentlemen on his side of the House, as well as under Gentlemen opposite, in the highest degree unsatisfactory. It had fallen into the hands of a certain number of the clerks of the Treasury who performed the duties without any proper supervision, and without knowing much about the business, and the consequence was that the health and comfort of the troops were materially neglected. He would state to the House some startling facts on this point. From statistical accounts of the Army laid on the Table of the House, when he held the office of Secretary at War, it appeared that during the twenty years following the peace, that was up to 1835, the annual mortality of our troops in the West Indian command was, on an average, 93 out of every 1,000 men; the annual mortality of the Forces at home being only 15 out of every 1,000. 563 No doubt this great mortality in the Windward and Leeward Islands was the inevitable consequence of the climate. But when they found that the total number of deaths in the troops employed in the West Indies for the twenty years following the peace amounted to no less a number than 6,800, not one of whom was killed in active service, but all perished from disease, a danger requiring more real courage to face than actual war—when they found that such a number had perished from the effects of the climate he thought they would agree with him when he said that every prevention which human prudence could dictate ought to be taken to reduce that mortality to its lowest amount. What would the House think when he told them that during the last twenty years it had been the routine practice of the Commissariat to issue salt provisions to the troops in those Colonies five days in the week? Now, without being a medical man, but knowing the tendency which salt provisions had to create thirst and to increase the disposition to drunkenness, he must say he thought that to give our troops in the West Indies salted provisions five days in the week was a system the most injurious to their health. It was common sense to suppose that it was injurious, and he knew, from a careful examination of the reports of every medical officer in the West Indies, that they confirmed his view of the subject. He had, however, a stronger case. Would the House believe that during the six years in which we kept up a large garrison in St. Helena, when Napoleon Bonaparte was a prisoner, no fresh provisions whatever were issued to the troops, their uniform food consisting entirely of salted provisions. What was the consequence? Diseases of the stomach and dysentery, which medical men agreed in attributing to their habitual use of salted food, prevailed among the troops, and the annual mortality among them during the six years was no less than 34 in every 1,000, being rather more than double the rate of the mortality among the troops who were kept in this country. It appeared, too, that that great mortality must have been owing to the treatment which the troops received; for during the same six years only one officer out of sixty-three had died of disease. It was further remarkable that whenever the troops were employed on any special service, during which they had an oppor- 564 tunity of eating fresh meat, they enjoyed good health; so that there they had the most undoubted evidence that it was to the manner in which the troops had been provisioned that that fearful mortality should be traced. It was, no doubt, true that in the Island of St. Helena fresh provisions were very dear. But he would ask the House whether they would begrudge any little additional expense that might be necessary to preserve the lives of British soldiers? He was sure that there was not one Member of the House who would regret any expenditure that might be necessary for such a purpose. It was a remarkable fact that that system of giving the troops salt provisions had been adopted in cases in which, so far from being an economy, it was the very reverse. He found, that to troops in the Mauritius salt provisions had been issued on alternate days, although fresh meat could have been had at the time actually cheaper. The same system had also been in operation in Gibraltar, although there also, fresh provisions would have been the cheaper of the two. He could show the House, that not only as regarded the comfort and the health of the troops, but also as regarded expenditure, the administration of the Commissariat Department, when unchecked by the Treasury, had been exceedingly injurious. That was no party question; and the statements he had made, concerned equally the government of Lord Liverpool, the government of the Duke of Wellington, and the Reform Government of the year 1830. It was not individuals whom he blamed, but the system, a system which placed the important duty of managing the supplies of provisions in the hands of persons who had no other military business to discharge. The correspondence with the medical officers and with the officers commanding the troops did not pass through their hands; there was a division of authority and of responsibility; and that had led to the melancholy results he had detailed. The effect of the change made in the year1836—but which change had since been unmade by the right hon. and gallant officer—the effect of that change was to apply a partial remedy at least to the system of which he complained. By the plan of the year 1836 all the accounts with respect to the provisions of the troops, came to the War Office; they were there closely scrutinized; and the result of that scrutiny in the very first 565 year in which these accounts had been sent to the War Office, was, that it was found that an unnecessary expence had been incurred by the faulty arrangements for provisioning the troops. With these facts before them, seeing that for a long series of years, under Governments of the most opposite politics, the management of that business exclusively by the Treasury, had been satisfactory to the degree he had described—seeing that the change which had been made in the year 1836, although not so complete as he could have desired, had supplied a partial remedy, and had enabled the War Office, to impose a considerable check on the prevalence of abuses, he doubted the policy of reverting to the old system. Under the now existing arrangement, the War Office could know nothing of the price of the bread issued at the different stations, and would therefore have no means of checking the expenditure in that respect; and yet, it was only by a knowledge of such details that any improvement in the general management of the Commissariat Department could be effected. He should not, however, trouble the House by any further allusion to those subjects; and he had only, in conclusion, to express his determination to support the original proposition of the right hon. and gallant Officer.
§ Mr. P. Howard
said, that he should on that occasion vote with Her Majesty's Government. He entirely approved of the suggestion of the noble Lord who had preceded him, that battalions of the Guards should be stationed in Gibraltar and in Canada. He believed that such an arrangement would be attended with beneficial effects among the people of Canada, inasmuch as it would be a mark of their connection with the British Empire.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
did not mean to enter into a discussion of the military topics introduced by the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland. But as the noble Lord had made some rather severe observations upon the Commissariat Department, and upon the arrangement for managing the business of that department, which had of late been introduced, the House would, he hoped, allow him to state the principles upon which that arrangement had been founded. He should, of course, be ready to lay before the House, the Treasury Minutes respecting the arrangement in question; and when the Commissariat Estimates came before 566 the House, he should be prepared to discuss the propriety of the mode of proceeding. The Commissariat Department was strictly a Department of Accounts, and in that respect, it came directly under the control of those who had the management of the financial concerns of the country. He was perfectly confident that the establishment of the Commissariat Department on the footing on which it now stood, had, without impairing the comforts of the troops, contributed to the saving of an enormous amount of public money. That saving was owing, he believed, to the establishment of the connection between the Commissariat Department and the Treasury. The noble Lord objected to the change. But the change was one which appeared to him not to be in any degree improper. It was perfectly true, that, previously to the year 1836, the rating and the pecuniary allowances in lieu of them, had been provided for in the Vote taken for the army extraordinary, which Vote had been administered through the Commissariat Board. In the year 1836, it had been thought proper to abolish altogether the Vote for the Army Extraordinaries, and then it had been deemed advisable to regulate the expenditure of the several departments on two distinct principles—the one was, that the War Office, the Ordnance and the Commissariat, should each take the whole expenditure for its own Department; and the other principle was, that every Department should be held responsible for the performance of the duties that devolved upon it. But that arrangement had not been fully carried out until the present time, when the transfer of the rations from the Army to the Commissariat Department had been carried into effect. There had been at first three distinct Votes taken for rations in the Estimates for the Army Extraordinaries, for the Ordnance, and for the Commissariat; and those three Votes had all been under the control of the Commissariat Board, which had to divide the sums allowed among each of these three Departments. But that arrangement had led to great inconvenience, as it had been found very difficult, if not impossible, to determine the expenses and to apportion out the allowances to those different departments. It had been found impossible, for instance, accurately to decide upon the amount of the expenses of transport in each case. The 567 present Government had therefore determined on leaving the accounts relative to the expenses for rations to one general department. The consequence was that they had now an uniform system; and that appeared to him to be a far better plan than to separate the Estimates. One consequence of separating them was, that it was impossible to arrive at any accurate calculation as to the amount of those Estimates. There were no other means of coming to any conclusion on that subject than by taking the expenditure of the preceding year. But that was a very fallacious test; whereas, under the present system, much more accurate information was obtained by means of the accounts furnished by the officers of the Commissariat Department, who were acquainted with the prices of provisions in any particular year in each country. He had further to add, that those officers had, as far as he had any means of judging, discharged their duty in a most satisfactory manner. He believed that the system now in operation had contributed both to the purposes of public economy, and to the great end of securing, as far as possible, the comfort of the troops.
§ Mr. F. T. Baring
said, that he should leave it to military authorities to decide whether the present system of managing the business of the Commissariat Department was or was not satisfactory. He was bound, however, to say that he had never met with officers more intelligent and zealous than those of the Commissariat Department. When the charges referred to were made under the head of "Army Extraordinaries," those Estimates contained many things that did not legitimately belong to them. During the war these Extraordinaries were necessary; but, during a time of peace, there were many of the Estimates under that head which would have much better come in other services. One of the first things he did when he came into the Treasury was to remove the item of "Payment for the Church in Canada" from the Army Extra-ordinaries. He would press upon the Government to give to the Secretary at War the same power of checking which had formerly existed, and then it would not much matter under which head of Estimates any particular Vote might come. The accounts of the Commissariat would be kept all the more correctly for the check. He should like to be informed, 568 if the improved system which had been recommended by a Commission some time ago had been extended to the Ordnance, as it had previously been to the Army and Navy accounts.
§ Sir J. Hobhouse
trusted the gallant Officer opposite would hesitate long before he made any change in the arrangements of 1832. The scale of pensions fixed at that time was settled after the fullest deliberation, with the full consent of Earl Grey's Cabinet. He trusted that no false impression would be allowed to go abroad with respect to the sixpenny pension. When that pension was granted there was still labour left in the soldier sufficient to assist him in gaining his livelihood. Of course, if the gallant Officer found that the former calculations had been made on insufficient data, he would be perfectly justified in making an alteration, but he implored him to hesitate before taking such a step. He had always held that a certain confidence should, in regard to these matters, be reposed in the Ministers of the Crown, and thought that discussions on such subjects should not be encouraged.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
had stated only that it was his intention, in the performance of his duty, to lay before the Government, as soon as he should have collected it, certain information respecting the longevity of pensioners, and various other circumstances having reference to their condition, which by means of officers stationed in various districts, he had been enabled to accomplish in a satisfactory manner. He had carefully abstained from pronouncing any opinion as to whether the warrants ought to be altered or not. Ninety-nine soldiers out of a hundred were discharged because they were no longer able to march with 60lbs on their shoulders. They had no option. He could prove that some of the best soldiers in the Army, who had three marks, would only receive a shilling a day after twenty-seven years service. Out of 27,000 men in the Army in England there were only two men at the present day who had served twenty-eight years.
§ Dr. Bowring
objected to so large a Vote for the Army after a peace which had endured a quarter of a century. He entertained a strong feeling on the subject, and wished to minimise the Army. He would therefore support the amendment of his hon. Friend in favour of reduction.
§ The Committee divided on Mr. Williams's amendment. Ayes 12; Noes 114: Majority 102.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bernal, Capt.||Scholefield, J.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Thornely, T.|
|Brotherton, J.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Fielden, J.||Williams, W.|
|Hastie, A.||Bowring, Dr.|
|List of the NOES.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Antrobus, E.||Hardinge, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Hawes, B.|
|Arkwright, G.||Hay, Sir A. L.|
|Arundel and Surrey,||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Earl of||Heathcote, Sir W.|
|Astell, W.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Baillie, Col.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Hodgson, R.|
|Bankes, G.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Hope, A.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Hope, G. W.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Howard, P. H.|
|Bernal, R.||Howick, Visct.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Hussey, T.|
|Borthwick, P.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Botfield, B.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Jones, Capt.|
|Cardwell, E.||Kemble, H.|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Knight, H. G.|
|Colborne, hn. W.N.R.||Layard, Capt.|
|Collett, W. R.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Copeland, Mr. Ald.||Lockhart. W.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Cripps, W.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Maclean, D.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||McNeill, D.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Marsham, Visct.|
|Dodd, G.||Masterman, J.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Eliot, Lord||Packe, C. W.|
|Escott, B.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Fitzmaurice, hon. W.||Peel, J.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Pollock, Sir F.|
|Gardner, J. D.||Praed, W. T.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Pringle, A.|
|Glynne, Sir S. R.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Greenall, P.||Russell, J. D. W.|
|Grimston, Visct.||Sanderson, R.|
|Grogan, E.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Smith, rt. hon. T. B.C.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Smollett, A.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Somerset, Lord G.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Stuart, H.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Sutton, hon. H. M.||Young, J.|
|Trench, Sir F. W.||TELLERS.|
|Trevor, hon. G. R.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Trotter, J.||Clerk, Sir G.|
§ Original proposition agreed to.
§ House resumed, Committee to sit again.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past twelve o'clock.