§ On the Question being again put,
said, he had certainly intended to move the Amendment he had given notice of for the reduction of the Household Troops; but he was bound to confess, that what had taken place in the House that evening had entirely altered his intention. He should not now move any reduction in the Army Estimates; for though he was as anxious that as much economy as possible should be exercised in regard to our standing army, yet if we were threatened with danger from any quarter, or if an attempt was apprehended in the remotest degree, on the part of any Foreign country, to do us an injustice or to invade our rights, he would be the last man to stand in the way of the Government in making efficient preparations for the maintenance of the honour and character of England. He had intended to show that the Army Estimates now proposed so greatly exceeded the same Estimates ten years ago, as to require some explanation, and he should have moved a reduction, but for the circumstances that had that evening transpired. There was, however, one point to which he would call attention—viz., the great cost of the regiments of Life Guards and Foot Guards as compared with the regiments of the line. The total charge for the three regiments of Life Guards and the three regiments of Foot Guards could not be taken at less than 355,069l. Four regiments of the line, numbering 4,515 men, cost 132,553l. Another item of expense, including six regiments of the line, composed of 8,028 men, cost 232,986l.; making, altogether, a force of 12,543 men, supported at an expense of 355,848l. Now, the number of the Guards, 6,561, cost as much as did 12,543 men of the line. He believed that one regiment of Life Guards, of the strength of 400, would suffice for any State occasion. Now, taking the expenses of such a regiment, costing 44,000l., from the sum of 355,000l., which the Guards cost the country, a saving of 311,000l. would be the result—the amount left after the subtraction of 211 the 44,000l. By reducing the Guards as he proposed, 5,000 more men might, in case of necessity, be added to the line, or they might in a proportionate degree reduce the cost of the whole military establishment. The distinction between the regiments of the line and the household troops produced, he believed, much heart-burning and invidious feeling in the Army. He thought that regiments who had served gallantly abroad should have in their turn, while stationed in London, the opportunity of escorting and guarding their Sovereign. The difference too in the pay of the two classes of regiments, he contended, was quite indefensible. If they were to have differences in pay at all, the higher rate should be bestowed upon regiments of the line, and not upon the household troops. What was the use of the Guards? They afforded no relief to the troops stationed in the Colonies. They took no turn of duty abroad, while it was well known that one of the principal reasons for our keeping up the immense standing army we did was in order to provide regular relief to the troops stationed in our Colonies; and what was still more objectionable than the inequality in pay, was the inequality of rank established betwixt officers of the Guards and officers of the line. Yet, although the former were nominally intended to supply military attendance to the Sovereign, Her Majesty, in her journeys, hardly ever had her escort formed of Horse Guards, some body of light cavalry being generally selected for the service, the heavy household cavalry only attending upon State occasions. When the Emperor of Russia was here, at the review in Windsor-park, when the household troops were pointed out to him, he observed that it was not them he cared so much for seeing as the troops of the line, who had served in every part of the world, and triumphed over every difficulty. He would only call the attention of the House to one other point, namely, the large amount expended in half-pay, and pensions. In the Army Estimates there was a vote for upwards of 5,000 officers receiving half-pay; upwards of 3,000 widows of officers were upon the pension list, and 2,410 other persons. He believed officers' children were similarly provided for. In all, 2,148,300l. was expended in pensions and half-pay for the Army, while the whole amount of half- 212 pay proposed to be voted in connexion with the three services—the Army, the Navy, and the Ordnance—was 3,689,000l. This, he contended, was an amount which called for revision and reduction. The rules for permitting retirement upon half-pay should also, he thought, be made more stringent. In offering these observations to the House, he did not mean to press his proposition to a vote. He had already stated the reasons which actuated him in taking that course, and he would content himself with having drawn the attention of the House to the subject.
§ Mr. Hume
thought that his hon. Friend had acted quite rightly in abstaining from pressing on the proposition of which he had given notice. The military force of the country was now on a war establishment, and he trusted the Army was large enough to prevent the need for increase, in case of actual war. He objected to the system of favouritism, kept up by the footing upon which the Guards were placed. The expense, per man, of the Guards, was still, within a few pounds, what it was in 1821. More regiments were given to officers of the Guards, than to all the officers of the line. There ought to be no pet corps, no favourite men; every regiment of the line ought to take its tour of duty at the Palace, as was done in the military monarchy of Prussia. The conduct of Lord Ellenborough in India, in his mode of forming his body-guard of the most meritorious officers and men, had been highly creditable, and had given great satisfaction. The time was coming when the people of this country would call for a reduction in the expense of our military establishments, now between 7,000,000l. and 8,000,000l., including barracks; and, fortunately, the disposition manifested by the present Government to maintain peace, so highly to their credit, would (it might be hoped) soon enable them to reduce this heavy charge, which the country could not bear. After the battle of Waterloo, having a Prince Royal to the head of the army, there was a military mania, and we became a military people at the expense of our Navy. At the same time considering the circumstances in which they now stood, and after what had that night transpired, he would not be a party to any proposition for an immediate reduction of the Army. He was a man of peace; he had always advocated peace; 213 but it was possible to carry love for peace to such an extent as to encourage other nations to trample upon us. He hoped most sincerely that no necessity for keeping up the Army might arise from events now pending; but come what might, our rights and interests must not be allowed to be disregarded, and to be trampled down. While they expressed themselves strongly against war—while they were fully conscious of all the injuries and evils which it must inevitably give rise to—while they expressed decidedly in favour of peace, they must remember that they had rights and interests which they could not and must not allow to be set at nought.
§ House in Committee of Supply.
§ Mr. Sidney Herbert
rose to move the Army Estimates. He could not commence the statement which it was his duty to make, without expressing the satisfaction with which he had witnessed the course adopted by the hon. Member for Coventry, and by the hon. Member who had succeeded him. However extreme on some occasions their views on economy might be, they had on this occasion shown, that those ideas did not interfere with those larger views and better feelings which it became hon. Members to adopt in such circumstances as the present. He should say a few words as to the particular subject adverted to by the hon. Member for Coventry, and then state, as shortly as he could, the changes of detail which would be found in the present, as compared with the last year's Estimates. He believed that the hon. Member, in the calculation which he had made as to the cost of the household troops compared with that of the troops of the line, had been misled by the great mass of detail which would be found in the Army Estimates. Because he found that if they compared the expenses of infantry of the line with these of the soldiers of the Guards—adding to the pay of the officers and men of the former the different allowances to which they were entitled—the contingent allowance, lodging money, &c.—if they were to take the household troops and adopt, with respect to them, the proposition which had been made by the hon. Gentleman the other night, and suppress two regiments of household cavalry, converting them into infantry of the line, the saving effected would only amount to about 62,000l. The reason was this, the pay of the officers of the Guards, though at first sight higher than that of those of the line, 214 had not added to it the allowances made to officers of other regiments, although they were put into situations which exposed them to increased expense. He had a calculation upon the subject, made by a great authority, no other than the Duke of Wellington, which shewed clearly that in some of the higher grades of rank among the officers of the Guards, when all these circumstances were taken into consideration, the pecuniary advantage of—take the rank of a captain in the Guards for instance—was very little greater than it was in the case of a captain in the line. It should not be forgotten, too, that officers in the Guards were put to a greater expense than officers in the line, from the circumstance that the former had not the advantage of a mess. Troops of the line, too, when in London, used to receive the additional penny a day, which made the difference between their pay and that of privates in the household troops. Upon the whole then, taking into consideration these allowances, and the various circumstances to which he had adverted, he thought that the hon. Gentleman would see how trifling would be the saving which would be effected by means of his proposition, were it to be carried into effect. There were also other reductions, which, however, were of too minute a character for him to trouble the House by entering into them in detail. They arose from the transfer of the clothing department of the Army to the Ordnance, and the alterations with respect to the military prisons, made pursuant to the recommendation of a Committee. There was a trifling increase in the Estimate for good conduct money, the total number of men now in receipt of good conduct pay being between 7,000l. and 8,000l.; but that was an increase that no man can regret. The item for military prisons was 4,408l.; but as a portion of this sum was derived from other sources, there would on the whole be a saving in the item to the public. In the item for the staff there was a small increase, and in the unprovided service an additional sum was required of 55,000l. in order to equalise the allowance of troops serving in Hong-Kong and China with that of the troops in India. When the hon. Gentleman spoke of the increase which had been made to the staff, he should have borne in mind the various reductions that had also taken place in that department. A force of 7,000 pensioners had been lately enrolled, but independently of that there was a real annual decrease of from 30,000l. to 40,000l. 215 in the dead weight alone. The number of officers in 1821 was 17,426; and in 1845 the total number of officers in the Army was but 1,101. In 1814, there were 591 general officers in the Army, and at present there were less than 300 general officers, showing a reduction of considerably more than one half. The saving on the dead weight since 1821 amounted from these causes to no less than 685,000l. He hoped these details were satisfactory to the House. If the hon. Gentleman would refer back to the years mentioned by the hon. Member for Montrose, he would find that they were now enabled to maintain, for the purposes of their Colonial empire, a much larger force with the same amount of means than the country supported in those years. With these remarks, he would beg leave to move—That a sum not exceeding 2,630,499l. (being part of a sum of 3,430,499l., of which 800,000l. has been granted on account), be granted to Her Majesty for defraying the charge of Her Majesty's Land Forces, for Service in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and on stations abroad, (excepting the regiments employed in the Territorial Possessions of the East India Company,) from the 1st day of April, 1845, to the 31st day of March, 1846, both days inclusive.
§ Mr. Hume
strongly hoped the Government would be very cautious in any reductions which they might attempt to make in the expenses of troops serving in China and Hong-Kong. They had already had instances of insubordination created by such attempts. In those stations the expenses were very considerable; and it could not be expected that one corps could serve with another, while that second corps received a double allowance of payment. Where there was an equality of danger, there ought to be an equality of remuneration. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would not listen for one moment to any proposition for reducing the allowances to which the troops serving in China were entitled, in a station where they were exposed to so much of expense, of danger, and of disease. He might also take that opportunity of observing that he objected to the number of troops serving in Ireland. He was glad to find that the Government were taking steps to do justice to that country, and he hoped, therefore, that the present military force maintained there would not be much longer required.
thought, as the hon. Member for Coventry had not pressed his 216 Motion, the House had a right to complain of the address which they had heard from him. He could only have characterized that Motion, if it had been persevered in, as one of a revolutionary character; for, as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War had well observed, it would, if adopted, be in effect a total disbanding and dissolution of the household troops. He would repeat, that the Motion was of a revolutionary tendency; but as it did not appear to have been brought forward seriously, he considered it was most unjust towards the household troops, and the corps to which he had the honour to belong, that the hon. Gentleman should have taken the opportunity of making a speech reflecting on the character of military men, and tending to destroy the self-esteem of these particular troops, by holding them up as useless. Whenever the hon. Gentleman brought forward a distinct Motion on the subject, he should be prepared with good grounds to show that the proposal to disband the household troops would have a revolutionary tendency.
§ Colonel Rawdon
believed the Motion of which he had given notice ought to take precedence of the Vote then before the House. The Motion was, "That he would, on Vote 2, in Committee on the Army Estimates, make inquiry as to the health of the troops in Hong-Kong and the West Indies; and as to the success of the encampment system." He should not have called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to these subjects, were it not that he had seen a letter from Canton, dated in September last, in which it was stated that Hong-Kong was then in its worst state, and that the dead were buried in the most unceremonious manner. In some instances the troops were stationed in paddy ground, and he believed they were also harassed by unnecessary guards on parade. He had also to allude to Demerara, where out of two companies of soldiers no less than twenty men, including three sergeants, died in a few months. He would also wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the condition of the troops in the other West India Islands, and likewise to the system of encampment, which, he believed, required improvement. He would wish to ask whether the black regiments might not be increased, and the white soldiers in the West Indies be used only as a reserve force? Also, whether it might not 217 be possible to organize a militia in those Colonies, and to improve the encampment system. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by observing that the Army deeply regretted having lost the aid of the late gallant Secretary at War, who had been called to a wider field of exertion; but from the specimen which they had had that evening of the ability of his successor, there could be no doubt but that the right hon. Gentleman would do his utmost to promote their interests.
§ Mr. Sidney Herbert
said, there was no reason why they should have originally suspected that Hong Kong would prove as dangerous to the health of their troops as some parts of the island had proved to be. The mortality formerly averaged as much as 32 per cent.; but by the latest accounts it had materially decreased, and during the last three years it had been less than previously. The letters which had arrived by the last mail expressed the most confident hopes that the sickness had decreased there permanently. With respect to the West India Islands, he might observe that in Jamaica the precaution had been taken of placing the black troops, who were not affected by the climate, in the lower quarters, and removing the white troops to higher positions. In the other West India Islands the mortality had decreased between 1842 and 1844 to one half what it had been before 1838.
§ Captain Bernal Osborne
rose merely for the purpose of protesting against the allegation of the hon. and gallant Member opposite, that a Motion for the abolition of the household brigade was revolutionary. He should also beg to state that he totally dissented from the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member (Mr. Williams), to the effect that the troops of the line viewed the household regiments with any invidious feelings. He was confident that no such invidious feeling existed either among the officers or men. He did not consider that the household troops were maintained in order to keep down revolution; but it was of the highest importance to have so fine a body of men as the Guards always ready to be sent to any of their Colonies in which disturbances should take place. It appeared that this gallant fine corps had been reported to be in a state of bankruptcy. He wished the right hon. Gentleman would turn his attention to the 218 fact of the Blues not being allowed to exchange.
§ Lord A. Lennox
said, that the hon. Gentleman having stated that the Guards had never been on Foreign Service, he begged leave to inform him that such was not the fact, for he had the honour of serving in Portugal with them during the Canning Administration. The hon. Member for Montrose had mis-stated the number of the men belonging to the Guards at 14,000 instead of 5,500. Thus, instead of diminishing the Army, his calculation had added upwards of 8,000 to the number. If, unfortunately, any contest should arise between the United States and this country, the Guards would be the first men sent out to occupy Oregon; and most probably the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex would go with them, when the hon. Member for Montrose would have another opportunity of being defeated in that county.
§ Lord J. Manners
said, that the hon. Member for Wycombe had alluded to a subject of considerable delicacy; and from almost an hereditary feeling for the regiment of Royal Horse Guards, he must express a strong and earnest hope that no miserable feeling of economy would induce Her Majesty's Government to take any steps tending to the degradation of that regiment in the eyes of the country.
§ Mr. Sidney Herbert
said that, with regard to the finances of the Blues, it was true that, owing to the arrangement in 1832 and to other circumstances, the present clothing allowance was found to be quite insufficient. He believed that the clothing allowances of the two regiments of Life Guards was larger than was necessary, and the Blues was less than was required. He hoped that some arrangements might be made as to the clothing allowances of the three regiments of household cavalry, so as to get rid of the inconvenience alluded to.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Question that 341,000l. be granted as the Estimate of the charge for Half-pay and Military Allowances to reduced and retired Officers of Her Majesty's Service.
§ Sir Howard Douglas
rose to call the attention of the Committee to the subject of which he had given notice. He said, if this were a case of complexity or difficulty, he should certainly abstain from calling the attention of his right hon. Friend the 219 Secretary at War to it at so early a period after his accession to the duties of an important office, which he (Sir Howard Douglas) was sure that right hon. Gentleman would discharge with the ability and efficiency of which he had given so much promise; nor did he bring this case forward without the knowledge and consent of his right hon. Friend; and when he (Sir Howard Douglas) said consent, he did not mean that thereby his right hon. Friend had pledged his adoption of these suggestions. He would now state briefly the case he had to submit to the consideration of the Committee. By Warrant of December, 1840, a limited establishment of retired full pay was created, to consist of 20 lieutenant-colonels on 17s. a day; 20 majors on 16s.; and 115 captains—of whom not more than 45 may be brevetmajors—on 11s. 7d. and 13s. 7d. respectively; these to be selected by the Commander in Chief, and the promotion of officers so placed on retired full pay not to proceed. This measure was extended to the artillery and engineers by Warrant dated April, 1841, in the following numbers. Lieutenant-colonels — Artillery 8, Engineers 2: Captains—Artillery 12, Engineers 10; First and Second Lieutenants—Artillery 8, Engineers 4. The only difference between the provisions of those measures is—and he begged his right hon. Friend and the Committee to note it—that whilst no further promotion is accorded to officers of the line so retiring, the promotion of the retired field officers of the artillery and engineers is permitted to proceed. This boon was stated by the Naval and Military Commission to have been granted to what is called the seniority corps—viz., the artillery, engineers, and marines, on account of the slowness of promotion. But he might observe, in passing to the main subject, that he did not see why the like boon should not be extended to field officers of the line retiring upon full pay, according to the provisions of this Warrant. The expense would be trifling, and the honorary boon gratifying. As stated in the Notice he had given, his object was to extend the advantages of a full pay retired establishment to a limited number of medical and regimental staff officers,—viz., surgeons, paymasters, and quartermasters. The serving pay of these officers is most liberal; a surgeon commences with 13s., which rises after 10 years' service to 15s.; after 20 to 19s.; after 25 to 1l. 2s. a day. The paymaster commences with. 12s. 6d., 220 which after 5 years' service, increases to 15s.; after 15 years to 17s.; after 20 years to 1l.; and after 25 years to 1l. 2s. 6d. The quartermaster commences with 6s. 6d., which rises after 10 years to 8s. 6d.; and after 15 years' service to 10s. The differences of serving pay and half pay are such, that officers necessarily and naturally cling to their full pay situations as long as they possibly can, and frequently longer than is consistent with their health, comfort, and efficiency to discharge actively their several duties. He should first take up the case of medical officers. The average age at which these enter the service is 24½ years. The statement he held in his hand, of the services and age of medical officers fully corroborated what he had to advance—viz., that many medical officers were in a manner constrained to serve, who would, perhaps, have availed themselves of retiring on their full pay, to their own ease and comfort, and opening, to a certain extent, the current of promotion to others, had an establishment of retired full pay, such as he recommended, been created. Dr. Bone, Deputy Inspector, now serving at the head of the medical staff in the West Indies, has served very nearly fifty years. That excellent officer served for some years on a foreign station of which he (Sir Howard Douglas) recently had the command, and discharged his duties most efficiently, and is still an efficient officer; but perhaps he might have chosen to retire — at least, it is just to give to officers, after such services, the option of retiring upon full pay, instead of being constrained to encounter afresh the arduous difficulties, and the dangers of protracted service in unhealthy climates. Dr. Kidd, Deputy Inspector, who is still serving in the Ionian Islands, has been between forty-nine and fifty years in the service. He served under his (Sir H. Douglas's) command on a foreign station, and is an excellent medical officer, to whom, perhaps, at his age, retirement on full pay might be a great boon. Dr. Grant, Staff Surgeon, still in the Ionian Islands, has served forty years. That excellent officer was likewise in that command when he (Sir H. Douglas) held it, and discharged zealously and efficiently his duties. He mentioned this case to show the slowness of promotion in the medical department, but which would be advantageously accelerated by the establishment of a retired full-pay list. In proof of this, he would advert particularly to the case of 221 Dr. French. That officer entered the service in 1810, and after having served upwards of thirty years, proceeded with his regiment—the 49th—to China, and was placed at the head of the medical department in that important war. His services were so distinguished, that he was specially and strongly recommended by Sir Hugh Gough for promotion. The recommendation was, he (Sir H. Douglas) believed, supported by the Inspector General, and the Commander in Chief; and Dr. French's merits and claims admitted by the late, as well as the present, right hon. Secretary at War; but still, for want of opportunity such as the establishment which he (Sir H. Douglas) urged, Dr. French remained unpromoted, and he feared disappointed and mortified, and is now a retired Staff Surgeon. In the naval service in China, several promotions of medical officers took place, as he (Sir H. Douglas) might appeal to his right hon. Friend the Principal Naval Lord of the Admiralty. He (Sir H. Douglas) had said that the serving pay is most liberal. This, in fact, would contribute pecuniary means towards the expense which the establishment of a retired full pay would cause. The officers retiring from the highest rate of pay to which they are entitled by length of service, would be succeeded by officers who commence their service at the minimum rate; the difference becoming available towards the retirement. Thus a paymaster, who retires on 1l. 2s. 6d. a day, is succeeded by an officer on 12s. 6d a day. If a half-pay captain be appointed to such a situation,—which often happens—he loses his half pay of 7s., so that the only extra expense would be 5s. 6d. He (Sir H. Douglas) would recommend that a retired full pay establishment be created for medical and regimental staff officers. He would not specify the number; but leave that to the consideration of his right hon. Friend and Her Majesty's Government; but would suggest that it should be enjoyed, subject to those limitations, by medical officers after thirty-five years' service, of which twenty years as surgeon; by paymasters after thirty-five years' service, of which twenty-five years as paymaster; by quartermasters after thirty-five years' service, of which twenty years as quartermaster. He (Sir H. Douglas) was happy to hear from what had been said by the hon. Member for Coventry, upon the Vote for half pay, that he never would object to any provision of this kind for officers who 222 had really been worn out in the service, or who had, after long periods of service, occasion, and just claims, to be liberally provided for; and he was assured, too, that he should have the support of the hon. Member for Montrose in the recommendation which he (Sir H. Douglas) ventured to make of this class of officers. He would now leave the case in the hands of his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War and Her Majesty's Government. He hoped he had made a plain statement; and trusted the Committee would deem it a strong one. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would deal with it as liberally and speedily as may be consistent with other circumstances; and propitiate, as far as he could, his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the accomplishment of what he thought a fair and strong claim on the consideration of Government, and the liberality of Parliament.
§ Captain Bernal Osborne
said, that he highly approved of the gallant Officer's suggestion. The grant proposed was too small to be refused. He would recommend that veterinary surgeons should be included in the observations of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ Sir Howard Douglas
said, that he entirely concurred with the hon. and gallant Member; and that, in fact, he (Sir H. Douglas) had embraced that class of officers in his minute of this case; he had, however, he feared, omitted to state it, and thanked the hon. and gallant Member for what he had said.
§ Vole agreed to.
§ On the next Vote,
§ Sir Howard Douglas
rose to put a question to the right hon. the Secretary at War upon the subject of the Military Savings Banks—an institution which he was instrumental in introducing into the service, by what he said in the House on a former occasion, in Committee on Army Estimates, in 1842; and which soon after were established by his right hon. Friend, now Governor General of India, to whom the service and the country were so deeply indebted. He rejoiced to learn from the Parliamentary Papers lately circulated, the progress making by these institutions: there were now about two thousand soldiers contributors in Regimental Savings Banks. His right hon. Friend was aware that these institutions were not yet established in the Queen's Regiments serving in India; where, perhaps, the objects 223 contemplated would be most successfully and largely promoted. For this, it required the authority of the Government of India and the Commander in Chief to carry out to that country the provisions of the Savings Banks Act and Warrant. This, he hoped, would be done, not only to the Queen's, but to the Company's troops. He felt convinced that these institutions would co-operate most powerfully with other measures which happily were taken to improve the moral character, and temperate and provident habits of the soldier.
§ Mr. Sidney Herbert
replied that a Committee had been appointed for the purpose of procuring the necessary authority for carrying out the provisions of the Savings Bank Act and the Warrant directed to Her Majesty's troops in India. He begged also to inform the gallant Officer that he had a Bill in preparation authorizing the Commissioners of the National Debt to receive the deposits of Military Savings Banks (which already amounted to 15,000l.) in like manner as the deposits made by the other Savings Banks.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of 105,000l. for Allowances as of Her Majesty's bounty and pensions, gratuities and allowances, to Officers for Wounds, being read,
§ Colonel Rawdon
drew the attention of the House to the fact that Mr. Francis Moore, brother of the late Sir John Moore, had for many years voluntarily relinquished a pension of 800l. to the service of the public.
§ Vote agreed to.