§ SUPPLY considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, that before he asked the Committee to agree to the Resolution with which he should conclude by moving, it was fair that he should state, that he should that evening have to lay upon the table a supplementary Estimate for the year 1863–4, which in a few days he should ask the House to vote. The gross amount of that Estimate would be about £400,000; but he must explain to the Committee that a very large part of that sum, £119,000, was merely a matter of account with the Indian Government. Payments to that amount had to be made to the Indian Government; but, on the other hand, re-payments would during the year be received from them to the amount of £300,000, which would be paid into the Exchequer. The remainder of the supplementary Estimate would consist chiefly of unforeseen expenses, chiefly connected with the war which was now going on in New Zealand. Of course, there was no intention to ask the Committee to vote that Estimate tonight; but, as he had not been able to lay it on the table, he thought that it was fair, before asking the House to vote money for the ensuing year, to inform them of the Votes they were to be asked to agree to for the year now expiring.
The Estimate which he had now to introduce to the Committee amounted to£14,844,888. Comparing it with the Estimate for the current year 1863–4, which amounted to£15,060,237, there was a reduction of£215,349. If they still further compared the Estimate for the present year with the Estimate for 1862–3, which amounted to £15,672,730, the reduction in this year's Estimate would amount to £827,842. He would also, with the permission of the Committee, make one more comparison between the Estimate of this and former years. He would compare this year's Estimate with that for 1861–2, which was the year, during time of peace, in which our army expenditure reached its highest level. The Estimate for that year amounted to £15,883,000; therefore there was this year a reduction, compared with 1861–2, of £1,038,112. The comparison 1417 was still more favourable in an economical point of view if he deducted, as he was entitled to do, from the gross sum he was about to ask the Committee to vote for the present year, the sums which it was calculated would be repaid into the Exchequer, and which might be taken in aid of the Estimate of the year. Making those allowances, the amount of the Estimate which he was about to move would be £13,520,446. The actual expenditure (not the Estimate, but the expenditure) for 1861–2 amounted to £15,883,160; so that upon the present Estimate there was a reduction of no less than £2,362,714. From what had been said that evening by the hon. Member for Inverness and other hon. Members, it appeared that Government were likely this year, contrary to the usual course in Committee of Supply, to be found fault with for going too far in the direction of reduction. He fully admitted that the Estimates which he was going to move were peace Estimates. The Government had not based their Estimates upon the supposition that the country was likely soon to be involved in war. If hon. Gentlemen opposite entertained a contrary expectation, it seemed to him that they ought to say so at once. They ought to condemn the policy of the Government, which had been announced as a peace policy, and not the Estimates, which, being those of a Government which had announced a peace policy, were essentially peace Estimates. Although we had arrived at a reduction of something like £2,300,000 since the year of highest military expenditure, the Committee would not require to be reminded that there had been a large increase in our military expenditure comparing it with its rate previous to the Crimean war. The excess of our Estimates this year over those of 1853–4, the year before the Crimean war, was about £4,500,000. The Committee ought to consider what were the causes which had produced this large increase of expenditure. During the Crimean war it was found that the organization of our army was in many respects extremely defective. In fact, it would hardly be going too far to say that many branches of our military organization entirely broke down. The House and the country immediately determined that those defects should be remedied, no matter at what cost. Very great alterations and improvements had since been effected, and those alterations and improvements had, necessarily, led to a 1418 largely increased expenditure. But he did not believe that the House and the country ever contemplated that the Estimates were permanently and in future years to range at so high an amount as they did immediately following the Crimean war. It was thought that it was time the country should reap some of the benefits of the large expenditure which had been incurring for so many years, and that the high level which that expenditure had reached should be gradually reduced. He, therefore, thought that he might claim the support of the Committee if the Government had attempted, in the Estimates he was about to submit to them, not to break through the course of gradual reduction, which it had been the object of the Government to accomplish in each successive year, and if they had, therefore, been obliged to exercise a somewhat strict economy and saving this year. He thought that, though a comparison had been made in several ways and on different occasions, it might not he uninteresting to the Committee to hear an explanation of the excess of the present Votes over the Estimates of 1853–4. As he had stated, the sum which had to be accounted for was £4,684,000. There was first to be deducted from that sum the repayment from the Indian Government, amounting to £970,000, in the shape of a capitation grant for services formerly performed by the Indian Government. This deduction reduced the sum to be accounted for to £3,714,000. Since 1853–4 the number of the Militia force and the expenditure on it had nearly doubled, and the Volunteer force was completely new. Those items together caused an increase in the expenditure of £650,000. That reduced the sum to be accounted for to £3,064,000. In accounting for that sum he would first take £1,000,000, the additional expenditure of this year over that of ten years ago under the head of warlike stores, occasioned by the improved arms introduced into every branch of the service. Since that time the Enfield rifle had been placed in the hands of the whole army, instead of comparatively a small portion, and it had, therefore, been found possible, in the present year and in the last two or three years, to reduce the Votes for stores, because the reserves had been raised up to their proper complement. Still, it was evident that the annual expense to keep the army supplied with the Enfield rifle must be very much more than that which 1419 was occasioned by the supply of the old musket. The introduction of arms of precision had led to increased expenditure for ammunition and practice. Not only was there an enormous amount of ammunition consumed by the regular army in practice, but the Volunteers and Militia, amounting to a force, added to the regular army, of 400,000 men, used a very large quantity of ammunition, which occasioned an increased expenditure. Moreover, since the time to which he had been referring, the Armstrong gun had been introduced. A great number of batteries were completely armed with them, and a large number of the guns was besides in the hands of the troops. The same necessity for practice as was felt in the case of the Enfield rifle was experienced in respect to the Armstrong gun; and the consequence was that a very much greater quantity of ammunition, and that, too, of an expensive character, was fired away in the course of the year than formerly, in the days of the old field-pieces. In addition to these circumstances, it must be borne in mind that the numerical strength of the army had been very largely increased; and he did not think, considering the expensive nature of the alterations made in the equipment of the army, that the increase of a million for warlike stores was very much to be wondered at. The next item he had to deduct was one peculiar to the present year. He took the sum of £500,000 as about the amount which New Zealand would cost this country more than in 1854. These deductions reduced the sum he had to account for to £1,564,000. The remainder would be accounted for by the strength of the army having been numerically increased. That increase since 1853 had been between 25,000 and 30,000 men. He did not take into account the number falling on Indian depôts. Exclusive of the Indian depôts the increase had been 17,000 men and 4,000 horses, at a charge of £600,000; leaving the sum to be accounted for this year, compared with expenditure of 1853, £964,000. He would not weary the Committee by stating the exact amounts of the items composing this sum of £964,000. The items consisted of good conduct pay, additional expenses for recruiting, and for experimental services. An improved quality in a number of articles of clothing supplied to the troops cost £124,000, and improvements in the Commissariat cost £120,000. Since 1853 the stoppage for rations had been made uniform all over the 1420 world at 4½d., while formerly it was not a fixed sum. Perhaps he might mention, that that expenditure represented a great and substantial benefit to the soldiers. There had also been established a Commissariat staff corps, which discharged the functions formerly performed by contractors, and through this means the quality of the meat supplied to the troops was very much improved. Among the items was one of£150,000 for increased rations, for fuel and light. The item for lodging, partly for officers, and the increased lodging allowance to married soldiers amounted to£70,000. The increase in the item of the medical department was£150,000, and in the educational and religious Vote£125,000. There was an increase, he was sorry to say, in the Vote for the military prison discipline of£25,000. The new items for schools of gunnery and musketry practice, and for the movement of troops for the formation of camps of instruction, amounted to£60,000. Such were the various items which accounted for the increase of the Vote in the present year over the Vote in1853–54; but hon. Members would see that the money had been expended on the improvement of the efficiency of the troops, by giving them better arms and better instruction, or by improving the condition of the soldiers. He believed that it was absolutely necessary that some additional advantages should be offered to the soldiers. The condition of the labourer throughout the whole country was rapidly rising, and unless additional advantages were offered to the soldiers there would have been a difficulty, not perhaps now, but certainly in time of war, in obtaining men for the army. He believed that all changes of this kind were looked on favourably by the country.
He came now to the Vote which he should move that evening, fixing the number of men for the army. The number of men it was proposed to take this year was 145,654, being a decrease of 1,464 on the number taken last year. As he had stated before, the present Estimate was, and professed to be, a peace Estimate. It was not framed with any immediate prospect that the country was about to enter on a war; and the Government in framing it had deemed itself at liberty to inquire in what direction our military force could be reduced, without to any material extent diminishing its efficiency, while at the same time retaining the power of rapidly increasing 1421 its numbers if to do so should be found to be necessary. He did not, he might add, think that the speech of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. H. Baillie) on the subject, interesting though it was, required from him any very lengthened reply. The first objection which had been taken by the hon. Member to the proposed reduction in the number of troops, was the insufficiency of the force at home to meet the requirements of the service for reliefs in India and the colonies. If, however, the hon. Gentleman would look at the Estimates for this and compare them with those for last year, looking at the explanation by which they were accompanied, he would find that the mode in which the proposed reduction had been arrived at was not by diminishing the number of battalions of infantry, or, in fact, diminishing the infantry at all; on the contrary, the infantry was increased over a thousand men. The hon. Gentleman had correctly stated that the proportion in which it was desirable we should keep up our establishment would be to keep one-third of the number of men at home, so that a regiment might enjoy five years at home in return for ten years foreign service. He had not, however, correctly stated the actual number of battalions of infantry at home and abroad, inasmuch as he put those in India and the colonies down at 107. Now, in making that calculation, the hon. Gentleman would, he thought, find that he had included the West India regiments. [Mr. H. BAILLIE: I stated distinctly that I did not.] Well, he had, at all events, arrived at too great a number of battalions; for the number which was estimated by the War Department taking pay was 41 at home, 45 in the Colonies, and 55 in India. There were, he might add, actually at home at the present moment only 34, but there were four expected in a month or so from the Ionian Islands, while there were three on their way home from India. When these battalions returned there would be at home 41, and in the Colonies and India 45 and 55 respectively. [Mr. H. BAILLIE: I spoke of the number on the 1st of January.] Yes, but during the greater part of the ensuing financial year there would be 41 battalions at home and 100 abroad. It was, however, contended that we ought, under those circumstances, to have 50 battalions at home. But the Committee must bear in mind that four battalions were excep- 1422 tionally employed in New Zealand, and that the force at present in Canada was much larger than was generally maintained in that part of the Empire. Still, the argument of the hon. Member for Inverness would go to prove, not exactly anything against the reduction which was proposed, but rather that the number of battalions of infantry ought very considerably to be augmented; and he did not know whether after the Vote of that evening, which showed that the Committee was not in an extremely economic frame of mind, they would not be disposed to agree to a large increase in our army. The Government, however, did not think it would be justified in proposing any such increase. And what, he might ask, was the principle on which it proposed a diminution in our military force? The late Lord Herbert, when proposing in 1860 an increase of 20,000 men in the army—an increase which was called for by the fact of a large number of troops being located in India, and by the determination to disembody the Militia—while he added two brigades of artillery, accomplished the whole of the rest of the increase, not by raising additional battalions, or by augmenting the number of units in the force, but by augmenting the strength of each unit. The reason given by Lord Herbert for that mode of proceeding was, that it was one which made the army most easily susceptible of reduction, if reduction should be required, and that if he were to raise fresh battalions he would be compelled, when he sought to bring about such a reduction, to disband a certain number of battalions—a thing which was always expensive and disagreeble to do—while his power of again raising the army in case of necessity to a war establishment would be greatly impaired. We, in this country, had not, it must be admitted, the same facility in increasing the number of our troops as was possessed by foreign nations, which, having a conscription, carried out the principle to which he was adverting to a very great extent—they kept up the cadres of their regiments—knowing that they could lay their hands at any moment on those conscripts, by whose absence the number of their troops was reduced. Not relying on conscription, we could not, of course, reduce our army so much in proportion to its war strength as other States were able to do. But he still saw no reason why we should not, as far as lay in our power, imitate in that respect their 1423 example. Though we could not compel men to enter our military service, yet it had always been found in time of war that, by sufficiently increasing the bounty, we could get any number of men we might require. He had, therefore, no fear that be long as we maintained the number of units in our army, we should have in the event of war an insufficient number of men; and the Government had, under the circumstances, deemed it right to reduce the number for this year, acting on the principle to which he referred. Last year, or the year before, when the number of infantry was reduced, the reduction, for the reasons which he had stated, was not made by battalions, because any such reduction would interfere with the reliefs for service abroad. That reduction was, however— except as to the regiments in New Zealand and China—carried to the lowest point at which it was deemed the efficiency of each battalion could be maintained, it being thought that any further diminution of the numbers would render it a mere skeleton of a battalion. It was, therefore, deemed desirable that the infantry should not, beyond that point, be reduced. But when hon. Members came to consider the numbers in other branches of the service, they must look to the way in which they had increased; and they would find, taking the garrison artillery—the first branch which it was proposed to reduce—that those numbers had been going on continually increasing, without any break, for the last twenty years. In 1843, for instance, we had at home and in the colonies a total of 4,885 garrison artillerymen; the total in 1853 was 9,303, which number had gradually increased, until last year it amounted to 17,629. That number it was proposed this year to reduce to 14,606, which would still leave an increase of 5,000, as compared with the numbers of that arm of the service ten years ago. The increase had been so steady and continuous, that the number they proposed to take for this year was in excess of the number on the establishment in every year except 1863—in excess, if measured, not by the numbers voted, but by the numbers actually borne. There did not appear to be any sound reason why the garrison artillery should be maintained at so high a standard, while other branches of the service were being reduced. In time of war, a field battery consisted of 234 men; but during peace it was fixed at about 130 or 140 men. A field battery would, there- 1424 fore, have to recruit its strength very considerably before going into actual service. For some reason or other, of which he was not aware, the batteries of garrison artillery had always been kept during peace on a war footing. They proposed to reduce them only fifteen men per battery, distributing the reduction over ten brigades—or 1,300 men in all. That would still leave the garrison artillery at a much higher proportionate strength than the field batteries, and they would have exactly the same facilities for recruiting up to the war strength should necessity require it. With regard to the cavalry, the increase of late years had not been less rapid than in the garrison artillery. In 1843, our cavalry force at home was 7,949, with one regiment of 386 in the colonies. In 1853, our force at home was 8,690, and that in the colonies 442. In 1863, we had 12,143 cavalry, and the reduction proposed would bring the numbers down to 11,331 next year. This increase had been partly caused by our raising two new regiments; but the main increase had been caused by the addition of a squadron to the establishment of each regiment. That addition of a squadron was called for owing to its being found, during the Crimean war, that the cavalry melted away very fast, and that the three-squadron formation was not suitable for service in the field, and that, to be quite efficient, a regiment must consist of four squadrons. The four squadron organization was therefore adopted, and with that they did not intend to interfere. Finding, however, that we had a force of cavalry very large in comparison to our other arms—and also looking to the fact that there was no question in reference to the reliefs of cavalry, because the cavalry regiments in India were eleven, whilst at home they were seventeen—there was, independent of relief, a force of cavalry at home quite sufficient to furnish the required proportion to any expedition which might be sent out—it seemed to the War Office that as long as the organization of the regiments was retained, the efficiency of the service would not be impaired by a reduction of twelve men per squadron in each regiment; and this reduction they proposed to make. The hon. Member for Inverness having based his reasons against any reduction on the score of reliefs, he (the Marquess of Hartington) must submit that the reduction the Government proposed to make in the cavalry force had nothing to do with the matter. The hon. 1425 Member for Inverness then adverted to what he alleged to be the fact, that the influence of England had decreased during the last few years. Without entering on a discussion of that question, which certainly did not at present arise, he would only say that, if that decrease of our influence existed at all, it certainly had not fallen off in consequence of a decrease in our military strength. The force on the establishment had been increased by very nearly 30,000 men; we had also got the Militia and the Volunteers, which hon. Gentlemen opposite might not, perhaps, reckon as very reliable, but which at least added to our sense of security at home, and would set free a great number of regular troops, who would thus be available for any enterprize. For his own part, however, he believed that the influence of England had increased rather than diminished. At any rate, he thought hon. Gentlemen opposite would do well, instead of indulging in vague declamation, to point out any quarrel in which we ought to have taken part, but from which we had improperly held aloof, and to show that our action had been in any way hindered by an insufficiency of military establishments. It was on these grounds that the reduction in the army was proposed. It was a reduction very small in amount, which would not interfere with the organization of the forces, which would not deprive us in the least of the power of recovering the strength with which we were now dispensing, and which would not impair the efficiency of the service. There was one point which, indeed, had not been brought forward in the House, but to which allusion had frequently been made in the newspapers and in conversation—it was said to be most unwise to disband our trained soldiers. It ought to be known, however, that it was not the intention of the Government to disband a single man. The reduction proposed would be accomplished within two or three months, simply by the cessation of recruiting during that period. The only men who would be dismissed were men whom it was desirable to get rid of. Thus not one able, well-drilled man would be dismissed in order to carry out the measure.
While upon this Resolution, he would explain what had excited some observation —the unusual form in which the Resolution had been presented to the House. Hon. Members were aware that a very considerable change in the form of the 1426 Estimates was made last year; and he believed there was a general agreement in the House that the change was for the better, and that it was much easier to understand what money was voted, now that the statement of accounts had been simplified. While the alteration in the arrangement of the Estimates was being effected, the late Secretary of State for War carefully considered whether it would be more expedient to take the number of men, as formerly, in the shape of a Vote, or whether he would adopt the course which he afterwards did adopt, of moving a Resolution as to the number of men, and taking Votes only in respect of money. In choosing the latter course, it never was intended by Sir George Lewis to take away from the House the power of voting the number of men. It was well known that when once the number of men had been agreed upon, a large proportion of the expenses incurred in the Army Estimates would thereafter be passed as a matter of course, and he therefore thought it more simple and more logical to make all the Votes in Committee Votes of money, instead of having a Vote for the men. The Resolution on the present occasion was exactly similar to the one moved last year by Sir George Lewis, and in order to make it strictly regular, notice had been given of it. Now that the officials of the Department all over the Empire had become habituated to the new system, it would, of course, be inconvenient to alter it; but if there was any strong feeling against it in the House, the War Office were not at all wedded to it, and would have no objection to return next year to the original practice. He believed that the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), would call attention to the number of native Indian troops which it was proposed to pay this year for service in China. Last year these troops were not introduced into the Resolution, nor were they included in the Resolution now before the Committee. The reason was, that the Mutiny Act was founded upon the number of men voted by the House, and it was not intended that those native troops should be under the provisions of the English Mutiny Act. However, if the hon. and gallant Member wished that they should be absolutely voted by the Committee, he believed that Lord de Grey would have no objection to that course being taken.
The increase which hon. Members would observe in the number of infantry was en- 1427 tirely attributable to the New Zealand war. There were ten battalions of infantry serving in New Zealand, and these ten battalions had been raised to the full complement of 1,000 men each, thus causing an increase over the other battalions of 200 per regiment, or 2,000 altogether.
Having fully explained the amount of the Estimates which he was about to submit, and the number of men he asked for, he would now refer very briefly to some of the minor Votes in the Estimates. There was nothing peculiar or exceptional about the Commissariat Vote; but he might state that the increase which would be noticed in it was to be attributed to the expense of the war in New Zealand. This Vote was explained by the statement which had been circulated with the Estimates—and he would therefore say that the cause of the increase was the high price of provisions, the fact that it was necessary to provide stores at a very great expense in New Zealand, and also to provide a very large increase in the means of transport. The Vote for clothing had been slightly reduced. New arrangements had been made in the establishment, the cost of providing new works and buildings had almost ceased, and the improved superintendence of the clothing department had been attended by a saving. In Vote 4, for Barrack Establishments, there was a decrease, owing to a more economical administration of barrack stores; and here he might remark that the new arrangement of the Estimates had been productive, not only of convenience to hon. Members, but of actual economy in the service. The principle which had been adopted was to make the head of each department of the War Office responsible for the expenditure of the sum voted for it by Parliament. Of course, the chiefs took a greater interest than before in the economical administration of their respective departments, and the result was a reduction in Vote 4, with a well founded belief that when the improved system was applied to the other Votes the same result would follow. An experiment was about to be tried which it was hoped would be productive of good to the troops in the matter of canteens. Formerly, the canteens were let to tenants who, in addition to a fixed rent, paid so much per head of the troops in garrison. It was the interest of these canteen-keepers to make as much money as possible, and for that purpose to supply the troops with inferior liquors at high prices. In 1855 a 1428 change was introduced, at a sacrifice of £25,000 per annum to the revenue. From that year tenants were appointed at yearly rents—he was not sure, indeed, whether they paid any rent at all—but under the superintendence of the officers of the regiment. That, of course, was a great improvement, because the officers could exercise some control over the canteen-keepers, and see that they did not sell bad liquors to the troops. But the new system had not been found altogether satisfactory, and an experiment was now proposed which had been tried with good results in India and in one or two colonial stations. It was intended to take away the canteens from tenants altogether and to place each of them under a committee of officers, the object being to supply the troops with the best articles at very small expense, applying the profits, if any, to the benefit of the soldiers themselves. The only expenses charged against the canteen fund would be those necessary for keeping the place and utensils in a proper state of repair, and the surplus would be spent by the committee of officers in purchasing books and periodicals, and otherwise providing for the comfort of the troops. It was not thought desirable to enter upon such an experiment upon a large scale. Next year it would be tried at six or seven stations in the United Kingdom, and if it answered, as there was every reason to believe it would, it would be gradually introduced everywhere. The Committee would observe that a small Vote was taken for gymnasia. Some time ago a Select Committee was appointed to investigate this subject, and it recommended that gymnasia should gradually be introduced into all the principal stations, so that the troops might go through a regular course of gymnastics as part of their drill. It was believed that the experiment now proposed would not only be an amusement to the men, but would materially improve their health and increase their power of enduring fatigue. Many improvements had lately been made in the matter of cooking for the troops. Improved apparatus had been introduced, and instructors had also been appointed to cook for the men and teach others. The consequence had been a considerable saving in the article of fuel, and with a view of encouraging this economy, a measure had been adopted which had been productive of excellent results—namely, to allow the troops the benefit of half the fuel which they 1429 might be able to save from the regulation allowance. It was hoped that this would be productive of still further saving. An additional sum of £150,000 was now being spent on medical administration, and we had a right to expect some benefit from so large an expenditure. He believed the increase had arisen chiefly from the fact, that in the Crimean war the medical administration of the army almost entirely broke down. That administration, indeed, was at that time scarcely sufficient for the wants of the service at home. Besides, the hospital administration was not good, the barracks in which the men were lodged were confined and ill-ventilated, and the general result was, that at the time of the Crimean war the average mortality at home amounted to 17½ per 1,000 annually. There was no means of arriving at an accurate knowledge of what had been the effect of the improved medical and hospital administration and the improved arrangements for lodging the troops, because the army consisted now of a much larger number of young men than it did. in 1853, which would of itself very materially diminish the rate of mortality; and moreover, even within the last few years, when there had not been so great a disproportion in the ages of the men, the health of the troops had been found improving yearly. By the last Returns, instead of being 17½ per 1,000, the rate of mortality was only 8 per 1,000. That was a result which showed that the increased expenditure on barracks, hospitals, and medical establishments, had been well laid out. The next Votes which he needed to mention were those for the manufacturing department and for stores. It was desirable in discussing the Estimates that those two Votes should be taken together. The object of both was to supply military and warlike stores for the use of the army. If the Vote, for stores was greatly diminished it followed almost as a matter of course that the Vote for the manufacturing department must be increased. It was only a question whether they should obtain their warlike stores by contract, or should manufacture them at their own establishments. Well, on these two Votes the Government had been able to make a very considerable reduction. There was an increase of £16,666 in the Vote for the manufacturing department, and a decrease of £265,850 in the Vote for stores. That decrease arose from the termination of the contract at Elswick, and also from the contract for 1430 small arms having almost entirely come to an end. The exertions which the country had been making for a considerable number of years to gain a sufficient supply of small arms had now brought their reserves up to, or very nearly up to, the amount which was deemed necessary. There were about 400,000 Enfield rifles distributed among the regular and auxiliary forces of the country, and it was thought desirable that there should be an equal number in store, and they had nearly that quantity in their various stores. The increase in the Vote for the manufacturing department would have been considerably greater except for the transfer of a sum of about £30,000 from that Vote to the experimental Vote for services under the Ordnance Committee. He had stated that their stores in respect to small arms were everything that they could desire; but when they came to the article of artillery he was not able to give the House so consolatory an assurance. The Report of the Ordnance Select Committee which sat last year, showed very accurately how the Ordnance question stood at that time. As the result of their expenditure on Sir William Armstrong's guns, they had the whole of their field batteries armed with the Armstrong gun. Those guns, he might safely say, were now almost universally approved and liked by the troops who possessed them. In New Zealand they were being supplied, and certainly they heard no complaints; the guns, as far as they knew, giving satisfaction. It was quite true, that at one time in 1863 there was some doubt, some dislike felt, in regard to them among the Artillery, on account of some failure, or rather symptoms of failure, in those guns; but it turned out that this applied only to some of the very earliest that had been produced, when the manufacture had not reached the perfection subsequently attained, and not even among those guns, he believed, was there ever any accident involving loss of life or personal disablement. Further experience had convinced the Artillery, he believed, that they were in possession of an arm which could be trusted to for rough, actual service, and which, when they had learnt, as they were now learning to use it, was one of most extraordinary accuracy and power. Besides the guns belonging to the field batteries they had a large number in store, with a considerable number in depôt at Woolwich, ready to be sent out at any moment if required. There were also a 1431 number of these guns in possession of the navy. Besides the 12-pounders in possession of the troops and in store, they had a large number of twenty and 40-pounders, and of those guns, and especially of the 40-pounders, it was he thought impossible to speak too highly. He believed that the troops, wherever they had them, said they were a most excellent gun, and very far superior to those they had supplanted. For new works, such as those of the land defences at Portsmouth, and also to accompany an army into the field, or to be used as guns of position, they were very valuable. Coming next to the 110-pounders—it was perfectly true they were not so popular or so greatly approved as the guns he had previously enumerated. The Report of the Ordnance Committee had informed hon. Members of what was supposed to be the overwhelming political necessities of the time which required those guns to be adopted and manufactured in large quantities without any very mature consideration or very extended system of experiment. It was believed that foreign nations had obtained rifle guns of great power, and that it was necessary, above all things, that we should have powerful rifle guns to compete with them. Therefore, the only gun of that kind which we knew of was adopted, perhaps, with too much haste. But, although there were many objections to those guns, he believed that those objections were being gradually overcome. The question of the vent-pieces —one of the most difficult questions of all —was being gradually settled. The improvements in the manufacture of steel had enabled the gun factory at Elswick to produce a vent-piece of superior durability. Although the 110-pounder, as far as they had yet tried it with cast iron shot, was not of any material use against armour-plated vessels, still there were a great many positions in which it would be a most useful weapon. He thought that almost all the naval witnesses examined before the Select Committee, although they deprecated the use of the 110-pounder of Sir William Armstrong as a broadside gun, had nevertheless, almost every one of them, stated that he would like to have some guns of that description in his ship for purposes of distant bombardment. For many works of land fortification also these guns would be extremely valuable; there were many positions requiring defence where it was not necessary to have a gun that was capable of piercing an iron-clad 1432 ship; and, therefore, although those guns would not accomplish all that could be wished from them—although they had defects, yet their defects were being gradually overcome, and the gun was useful. As to the gun which they were going to make, it was true they had not yet in the service a gun capable of doing effective work against armour-plated ships; but the experience they had had in regard to the 110-pounder ought to caution them against going too fast in that matter. There certainly was no immediate pressure to make them adopt a new gun for that purpose without the fullest consideration. If they had not got a gun capable of making effectual practice on iron-plated ships, they had reason to believe—nay, they felt perfectly certain—from all the information they could obtain, that no other nation had in its service such an arm. Therefore, there was no overwhelming necessity for hurrying on in that direction. But if affairs should look more threatening than they did—if there should be any immediate occasion for ironclads being called into action, it might be consolatory for the House to know, that as the result of their experiments, they had a system of construction which would give them a strong heavy gun, and a mode of rifling, which, although it might not be the best that might hereafter be discovered, would yet enable them to make guns fulfilling all the conditions they required in a rifle gun, and strong enough to pierce any target yet constructed. They knew now that the principle of making a muzzle-loading gun, the barrel of which was composed of cast steel, strengthened by wrought-iron coils, was capable of producing a strong gun, and that the inventions of Sir William Armstrong combined almost perfectly all the requisites of a system of rifling. Though, therefore, it might appear to the Government and the House not to be desirable that we should proceed hastily in manufacturing heavy guns for our naval armament, yet they would know that we had means to meet any probable emergency. However, as scientific and military men were very much divided into the followers of Sir William Armstrong and Mr. Whitworth, it was considered desirable, as he stated to the House the other evening, that, before proceeding any further with the great question of artillery construction, the merits of these two great artillerists should be tested by an impartial Committee specially chosen for that purpose; and, at the same time, 1433 the Ordnance Committee were engaged in a series of experiments as to the other best known systems of riflingand construction. He explained the other reason why so long a delay had occurred before the commencement of these experiments. They wore now fixed for the 1st of April, They would have to be most carefully conducted, and would probably extend over a considerable period of time. It would be some months—perhaps near the conclusion of the year — before the Armstrong and Whitworth Select Committee concluded their investigations with reference to the competing guns; but, in order that we should not lose more time than was necessary, orders had been given to the Royal gun factory that a considerable quantity of material should be prepared for the system on which the Committee should decide. The Committee, no doubt, were aware of the performances of the 600-pounder or 13-inch gun, as it would now be called, and which had been extremely satisfactory in a limited number of experiments. Further experiments would take place in a few days; but, although the results were very satisfactory, it would be quite premature to enter largely into the manufacture of so expensive an arm until the fullest tests had been applied to its capability of endurance. If it should continue to exhibit all the excellences it was supposed to possess, two, three, or four more experimental 600-pounders would be ordered, that the Government might feel quite certain that its excellences were not confined to one gun, but that they could be produced on a considerable scale and degree of perfection. If that gun could be reproduced, and answered all the expectations raised by the trials hitherto made, then, he thought, we might feel certain we could produce a gun capable of fairly blowing any ship ever created out of the water. The gun tried at Shoeburyness had almost destroyed the Warrior target. It was quite certain, that with steel projectiles, there was no ship floating on the water could resist at 1,000 yards the shot fired by that 13-inch gun. He believed that in future warfare conducted against iron-plated ships, the quality of projectiles would exercise quite as important, if not more important, influence than the gun itself. It had been found by experience that no gun, however powerful, could produce much effect on iron plates with only cast-iron shot. However heavy the blow struck, the shot itself was shattered into pieces without much injury to the plates. He believed that hon. 1434 Members who were far better qualified than himself to give an opinion on the subject would bear him out in saying that there was no manufacture in the country which had progressed with such rapid strides of late years as that of cast steel. He believed improvements of the very greatest importance had been made within the last twelve and even within the last six months. The Ordnance Select Committee had been associated with the Iron-plate Committee for the purpose of instituting and carrying out experiments with different kinds of steel, formed into different projectiles, and fired from different kinds of guns. They found that with steel projectiles fired from guns of very much inferior power to the 13-inch gun, such as the Duke of Somerset's gun, the smooth-bore 100-pounder, very satisfactory results had been obtained against iron-plated ships. He had stated at the commencement that he could not give a perfectly satisfactory account of our position as regarded guns; but he had endeavoured to show that, if we were not in possession of a more perfect gun—more perfect as against iron plates—the fault was not that of the Government, or the advisers of the Government. They had prosecuted with the utmost diligence a series of experiments, and they were still going on with them. The fault—if fault there was—arose from the fact that both the manufacture of guns and the manufacture of plates had been continuously in a state of progress, and that the result of one year was constantly upset by that of the year which followed. There must be a limit to the thickness of iron plates, and he thought they had proved that there was scarcely any limit to human science and improvement.
He believed he had now gone through all the items in these Estimates to which it was necessary in this stage of the proceedings, to call the attention of the Committee. He would conclude with admitting, as he began, that this Estimate was a peace Estimate; but, although a peace Estimate, it was a very large Estimate compared to those they had been in the habit of voting a few years ago. Still, he could assure the Committee, that the very greatest care and pains had been taken in framing these Estimates, not only to effect a saving, but real economy. The right hon. and gallant General the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel)had stated at an earlier period of the evening, when supporting an additional expenditure of £40,000, which the Government wished to reduce, 1435 that a careful inspection of these Estimates would enable them to find items on which they could effect savings sufficient to cover that amount. He could only say if the right hon. and gallant Officer, looking over the Estimates, could point out an item which could be reduced without much greater loss of efficiency to the army than that involved in the discontinuance of the six days' training of the Yeomanry, the Government would thank him and adopt his suggestions. He did not deny that we had been incurring a large expenditure since 1857. He did not deny that the re-organization in almost every branch of the army might have been in some instances extravagant, and that some of our establishments were not conducted in the most economical manner; but he could assure the right hon. and gallant Officer that his noble Friend at the head of the War Department had every disposition to enforce real economy. Investigations were going on, having for their object the reduction of expense. He could only appeal to the Committee and to every Member of it to point out where they thought a real reduction might be made without a diminution of efficiency, and to support him if he were called on to resist, as no doubt he should be, solicitations for increased expenditure. He had endeavoured, very imperfectly, to lay before the Committee the condition of our army and the manner in which the Votes had been framed, and he had now only to place in the hands of the Chairman the Resolution of which he had given notice—
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Number of Land Forces, not exceeding 146,766 (including 9,347 of all ranks, to be employed with the Depôts in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, of Regiments serving in Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, but exclusive of the numbers actually serving within Her Majesty's Indian Possessions) be maintained during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1865."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)
said, that he wished in the first place to congratulate the noble Lord upon the able statement which he had made to the Committee. He also wished to congratulate the Committee upon the improved manner in which the Estimates were presented to them. He, however, hoped that as the noble Lord who moved the Navy Estimates had shown how the recommendations of the Committee upon Public Accounts would be observed, those recommendations would be borne in 1436 mind in the future preparations of the Army Estimates. The consequence had been that the Navy Estimates had become much more intelligible than they were formerly; but in the shape in which the Army Estimates were now presented he would defy anybody to compare the Estimate of one year with the audited accounts of the expenditure of the year with any satisfactory result. The audited accounts only professed to show the expenditure of the absolute sum granted by Parliament, and if the expenditure happened to exceed that amount the excess could not be traced. He had endeavoured to compare the estimated expenditure for the present year with the actual expenditure for the year 1858–9, for which he was responsible. Upon one item—for pay and allowances—the audited accounts showed an expenditure of £3,200,000, although he knew that the actual expenditure was £3,700,000; and, therefore, £500,000 had been expended beyond the amount which appeared in the audited accounts. Of course, there was no concealment of the fact that £500,000 had been advanced by the Treasury, for it was clearly shown in the detailed accounts, but still the fact could not be discovered in the accounts themselves. Another item was the expenditure which had been going on since 1858, and of which he could find no account whatever—the expenditure for Indian troops employed in China, and paid for by the Imperial Government. With reference to that item, however, he was glad to find an improvement in the present Estimates. Last year, when the Indian troops were first noticed in the Army Estimates, and a sum of money was taken for their payment, no number was given, and there were no means of ascertaining their number. In consequence of the forms of the House, he had been compelled to change the form of his objection, and moved that the Vote be reduced; and the result of what took place then was, that this year not only the amount of cost, but also the number of men was given. Certainly, if the control of the House was necessary in any case, it must be in the case of the Indian Native troops. [Colonel SYKES: Serving out of India.] If any part of the Indian Native army could be employed without a Vote of that House, those troops were altogether removed from Parliamentary control. In the case of ordinary troops there were two checks—the Mutiny Act and the money voted by Parliament 1437 for the pay of the troops. But neither of these checks applied to Indian troops. Native Indian troops were not liable to the Mutiny Act, being expressly excluded from the operations of that measure, and were ruled by Articles of War expressly framed for India; and the House had no control over Native troops through its privilege as to money Votes, because those troops were paid, in the first instance, by the Indian Government, and the expenditure never came under the notice of the British Parliament till long after it had been incurred. Some little hint of a supplemental Estimate had been put forth, in which the accounts between the Indian Government and the Imperial Exchequer would have to be balanced; but all that the House would learn of that matter would be when a lump sum in settlement was proposed for its sanction. Looking at the Estimates before the Committee, he found that if he added to the 146,766 men there taken credit for the 1,532 Native troops now serving in China and elsewhere, the total number of troops provided for in the Estimates would be 148,219—and thus a most extraordinary proof of the rough Estimate he had made, that the army cost£100 per man was afforded, for the total amount of the Estimates was £14,800,000. But he found that the reduction proposed this year in the number of men was not borne out by the reduction in the Estimate for pay and allowances. Although the number of men was reduced by 1,476, the total reduction in the Vote for pay and allowances was only £750, and the aggregate of the seven Votes immediately connected with that Vote showedjan absolute increase of £74,294. He was anxious that there should be a permanent reduction in the army expenditure; but could not avoid an expression of regret that it should be proposed to reduce the artillery by 1,300 men. As recently as the year 1860 his lamented Friend, Lord Herbert, added a brigade of field artillery and a brigade of the very artillery which it was now proposed to reduce. Lord Herbert did so on the express ground of the want of strength in that branch of the service; yet reduction was to take place, notwithstanding the fortification scheme so warmly and so properly supported by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, for which Parliament had since Voted such large sums of money; but it was quite evident that fortifications without guns and men—as had recently been seen in Denmark — were not only useless, but worse than useless. 1438 There was another reason which induced him to look with great alarm on the loss of a single trained soldier, and that was the effect of the Limited Enlistment Act. He knew that the subject was one which excited the greatest alarm among military authorities. He had moved for Returns to show the operation of that Act during the last four years, but they were not yet completed. The Adjutant General, however, had shown him the effect of the Limited Enlistment Act for the past year. Men enlisted in the artillery and cavalry for twelve years, and for the Line and Guards for ten years. The result was found to be, that men who had served twelve years, and had only to serve nine years more to become entitled to a pension, re-enlisted more readily; while in the Guards and the Line the proportion of re-enlistments was much less. About ten years since, twenty-six new battalions of infantry were created, whose period of service would expire soon and simultaneously. It therefore became a grave question, whether the subject of Limited Enlistment should not be re-considered, and whether stronger inducements to re-enlistment should not be held out. He was glad to find that an improvement had been made in the Estimates, by which they not only had the Estimate of the present year to compare with that of the last, but they had also the absolute expenditure of the preceding year — that of 1862 and 1863. The noble Lord had pointed out that the Estimate for the present year, as compared with that of the last, showed a decrease on the net expenditure of £373,026, and on the two years together of £619,215. The noble Lord, however, had not been quite happy in explaining the grounds of the proposed reduction. The increased expenditure of 1859–60 was under Lord Derby's Government, and the number of men voted was 122,000 odd, while the total estimated cost was £12,200,000. This included £661,000 for military stores, which sum covered the first introduction of the Armstrong gun into the service, to the limited extent to which it was adopted by Lord Derby's Government — that is to say, merely for field guns. He would answer that for the first quarter of the financial year, for which he was responsible, neither the number of men nor the Estimates were exceeded. But at the conclusion of the financial year, after Lord Derby's Government quitted office, the war broke out, and there was a total expenditure over the Estimates of very nearly 1439 £2,000,000. The item of warlike stores afterwards mounted up from £661,000 to to £2,000,000. Then came a reduction of £600,000 in the item; and this year the saving of £215,000 which had taken place upon the whole Estimates was wholly accounted for, and was even exceeded, by the decrease in the charge for warlike stores. Now, if this decrease were the legitimate result of the operations of the Department, if we had succeeded in reconstructing our armaments, and now only had to allow for ordinary wear and tear, such a result would be a gratifying one. But he feared that this was not the case. The Secretary to the Admiralty had stated the other evening, no doubt with perfect truth, that the navy had not been happy in their guns; and probably he would not have said too much if he had added that three years hence not one single gun now employed in the navy would remain in the service. Another reason for doubting the permanency of this reduction was, that while the Vote for stores was much smaller than before, there was a great increase in the charge for experiments. This seemed to show pretty conclusively that we had not yet hit upon the right gun; and he feared that, as in 1858, so now, large demands upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer were looming in the distance for new armaments, and that the great expenditure upon their reconstruction had not yet ceased. One great advantage to be obtained by having the Estimates in a proper form was that the House then saw not only the number of men voted, but the number actually borne, as well as the expenditure in respect of them. Again, the House had an opportunity then of testing the value of the objections which had been taken on particular points. The House might recollect that he had always objected to attempts to show a decrease of expenditure which would not be borne out by the result. On a former occasion a large number of men were said to be wanting to the complete establishment. He felt sure that this was not so; but a sum of £60,000 was, nevertheless, deducted from the Vote for pay and allowances. He protested against this at the time, and he now found that the excess upon that Vote was £56,400, showing that the reduction had been purely nominal. The fact had been accounted for by the statement that the men were all in prison; and in Vote 6 of the present Estimates there was certainly 1440 a deduction of £41,000 on account of unissued pay to soldiers under confinement. However, he contended that his criticism had been perfectly justified. On three or four occasions he had endeavoured, in vain, to obtain some further information with respect to capitation. Capitation was an allowance of £10 per man paid upon forces absolutely serving in India in order to cover expenses formerly paid by the Indian Government, but now transferred to the Imperial Government. That sum was no doubt fixed after careful consideration by the Committee which was appointed and which represented the interests of the Home and the Indian Governments. [Colonel SYKES: After a considerable wrangle.] Upon one item alone, that of the pay of officers upon furlough from India, which two years ago was estimated at £45,000, there was an increase in the year following to £130,000, and this year it had risen to £137,000. He would suggest to the Government whether, out of the great excess of expenditure upon this one item, they might not find the means of saving the cost which they grudged to the Yeomanry. After the division which had taken place that evening, he had certainly hoped that the noble Lord at the head of the Government would have got up, and said that the Government would take into consideration the strong opinion of the House; and he still trusted that, before the Estimates were disposed of, the noble Lord would give an assurance that a Vote so essential to the efficiency of the Yoemanry would yet be proposed. However this might be decided, he felt certain that if there was a Committee upon Public Accounts, and these Estimates were referred to them, the question of the capitation Vote would be found worth their serious consideration. In all his observations upon the Army Estimates he had but two objects in view—first to secure the efficiency of the army, and next to secure the due control of this House over the expenditure. He was not one of those who had the least fear of the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams), or of the strictest economist, feeling persuaded that if you could show them that any sum of money was really required for the defence of the country, it would be at once and cheerfully given.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) had given no answer to his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. H. Baillie). He had, however, broached some very remark- 1441 able and some very dangerous doctrines. His noble Friend had told them that the policy of the Government was a peace policy. That was a great announcement to make at any time, but was it very remarkable at the present time? Although the policy of the Government might be a policy of peace, it did not follow that that would always justify proposing peace Estimates. Did the present state of Europe justify peace Estimates? He might also advert to the state of things across the Atlantic. Was any man in this country prepared to take upon himself the responsibility of saying, that within a limited period we should not be engaged in hostilities with the United States? He thought there was not; and, if not, the Government ought not to have brought forward such Estimates as those proposed by the noble Lord that evening. His noble Friend had told them—and told them truly—that the improved condition of our armaments was clue to the large expenditure which had been incurred in consequence of the deficiencies that were discovered during the Crimean war, and he said that now the country desired to reap the benefit of that expenditure. That appeared to him (Mr. Bentinck) a most untenable proposition— because it amounted to this, that after expending a large sum of money they proposed to return to that mistaken economy, the result of which must be disastrous and costly upon any emergency arising. The question which had been raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Invernesshire was a very large one, for it embraced two points —a question of policy, and a question of humanity. As far as policy was concerned, the noble Lord had said nothing to justify peace Estimates, and he had made no answer to his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend had stated, in reference to the question of humanity, that a regiment in India was entirely expended by the climate in the course of twelve years. That in itself was a fearful consideration, and it was quite obvious that it was the duty of any Government to reduce as much as possible such an expenditure of life. His hon. Friend had told them that in order to supply sufficient reliefs we were now twenty battalions short. The noble Lord had not in any way answered that statement. His hon. Friend had talked of the decreasing influence of England in the counsels of Europe. He (Mr. Bentinck) believed that that was so, and that it was to be attributed to the policy of succeeding Govern- 1442 ments for many years past of endeavouring to frame Budgets to meet the clamour— or he had better, perhaps, say "claim," and not for the benefit of the nation. It was impossible for any country in the position of Great Britain, with her colonies and commerce, to retain her influence, unless her armaments were in such a position as to enable her to defend herself from aggression in every part of the world. His noble Friend spoke of having 12,000 more troops than we had at some former period. [The Marquess of HARTINGTON: I said we have 30,000 more than were on the establishment in 1854.] That did not make the matter much better. An increase of 20,000 or 30,000 would not place England in a position to take her part in a great European struggle, whilst the other great European powers had armies of from 300,000 to 600,000 men. With reference to the peace policy announced by the noble Lord, he could understand it, for this country was not in a state to go to war at present; it was not prepared; and the country would not again consent to rush into a war, as it did in 1853, when they were quite unprepared, thus causing an immense loss of blood and money, and it would be impossible to prepare this country for a great war in less than three or four years. So long as the Government were prepared to bring forward Estimates such as these, they must be prepared to tell Europe and the world that we were not prepared to go to war. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had told them that fortifications were the best means of defence for our coasts. He should like to know how the noble Lord reconciled the immense outlay for fortifications with the reduction by 1,300 of the only men who could work them—the artillerymen—who took longer than any other class of soldiers to train and render efficient. As to what had fallen from the right hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), he would appeal to the Government on the subject of the Yeomanry, and suggest to them, that, after the very close division that had taken place, they should do that which would be the right and graceful thing, and accede to the proposition that the Yeomanry should be called out. There was a very strong feeling in the country on this matter. The Yeomanry did not belong to a very favoured class—namely, the agriculturists; but the Government was now doing all that it could to encourage the new class of Volunteers 1443 —he would not say a word of disparagement of that force, which was an example to, as it was the admiration of, Europe; but because they encouraged this valuable class of men that was no reason why they should do away with an older class of Volunteers, against whom there was no complaint, and who not only gave their services but kept horses for the purpose of rendering the force efficient. Moreover, it was easier to organize a body of infantry than a cavalry force. It was always a very unwise thing for Government to do to discourage any ebullition of loyal feeling, and he ventured to say that there could not be found throughout the length and breadth of the land a more loyal, devoted, and energetic body of volunteers than the Yeomanry.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
said, the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) had admitted they had 34 battalions of infantry, that was 26,000 men, on the home establishment, so that if they had now 26,000 infantry in the country, he did not know how they could have 30,000 more than they had a few years ago. The noble Lord was quite right in saying that if his (Mr. Baillie's) statement meant anything, it meant that Government ought to increase the number of battalions so that relief might be sent more regularly to regiments serving abroad. He regretted to find that the Government did not intend to carry out any such plan, as the result must be that that relief could not be afforded, and they could have regiments abroad, in the Colonies and India, remaining twenty-five years, thus causing great loss of life and discipline. The right hon. Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) adverted to the limited service, and the loss the Government sustained by the number of men whose period of service expired every year; the loss was not only numerically great, and deprived them of their most efficient men, but as the Government had to bring these men home and send new recruits out to fill their places, the expense was very great, and he thought it would be more economical, and secure the continuance of the men in the army, if, at the end of ten years, their pay were raised 3d. a day for five years. He understood that there were no less than 15,000 men whose term of service expired this year, and the number would be greater hereafter, when the time of the new battalions had expired. The subject ought, therefore, to engage the immediate attention of the Government.
reminded the House that, in the regular service, Yeomanry, Militia, and Volunteers, the country had 450,000 armed men at home; and, adding to these the army in India and the native troops, they had altogether 650,000 men for the defence of Great Britain and her colonies. What more could we want? No other country had so many men under arms. He could well understand the Government maintaining our present military force, because it gave them an enormous amount of patronage. But he thought it quite unnecessary, and if any hon. Member would move a reduction in the number of men, he would support the proposition.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he was glad to see a marked improvement in the Estimates with respect to additional information, but a great deal more might yet be done. In their present form there were no means of ascertaining what a piece of ordnance or a rifle cost, how many were turned out, or how many were required in the year; nor could they tell how many of the 146,766 men had to be clothed, or what was the cost of each soldier's clothing in the different grades. In the French Budget details were given which enabled anyone to calculate those particulars for himself. There was a reduction of 1,476 men, but a reduction of only £750 out of £5,708,983, so that there must be an increased charge in allowances. He regretted the proposed reduction in the artillery; he would rather see a reduction in any other portion of our military force. He thought it unfair to the Army Budget that £1,324,442, which was the amount paid back to the Government for the troops in India, and on other accounts, was not deducted, and the total amount reduced to £13,520,446, the real sum required, instead of standing, as it did, at £14,844,888. The army, too, supplied the navy with ordnance and gunpowder to a very large amount, and the cost ought in fairness to be deducted from the Army and carried to the Navy Estimates. The first and second Votes were also somewhat mystified, by the total amount of pay being charged, and the total amount of rations, without deducting the money stopped for rations from the men's pay. It had been often stated in the House, that the annual cost of an English soldier was £100 per man but this was fallacious as far as it related to the effective strength, for this sum of £100 included the charges for auxiliary forces, and the very large amount exceeding two millions for the non-effec- 1445 tive services. The average cost per head of effectives, including these charges for 1863–4, was £101 11s. 10d.; but deducting £1,222,977, the charge for the auxiliary forces, the numbers of which were not given, the cost per head of effectives was reduced to £93 6s. 10d; but still further deducting the charge of £2,127,836 for non-effectives, the most per head of fighting men and officers was £78 18s. 5d., and from this amount a deduction also should be made for the supply of warlike stores to the navy. In the French army the cost of effectives and non-effectives was £43 11s. 10d., as against our £101 4s. 11d. per man, and of effectives £37 2s. 6d., as against £78 18s. 5d. per man. The cost of our men was nearly double that of the French, and the same proportion ran through all the charges in our army when compared with the French army.
said, he could not congratulate the Government on this occasion, for if ever there was a moment when the army or navy ought not to be reduced by a single man the present was the time. When he considered the number of soldiers whose period of service would expire in the next year and a half, about 15,000, it became a subject most alarming to the country. Several years ago, when the new system was introduced, the late Lord Herbert asked him how he thought it would work. His reply was that the system would either be most advantageous or most destructive. He hoped he should not prove a true prophet. He believed that no sum would be too large to insure to the service a good soldier of ten years' service. Some persons seemed to suppose that it was only necessary to put a red coat upon a man's back to make him a soldier; but the real value of an efficient soldier consisted not in his acquaintance with drill, but in his disciplined mind, enabling his officers to place reliance upon him under all circumstances of danger and difficulty. Owing to the demand for trained men in the rural police and upon railways, soldiers now at twenty-eight years of age could take off their caps to their commanding officer, and obtain pay that was enormous compared with what they received in the ranks. Under these circumstances, instead of discharging men, every possible inducement should be offered to experienced soldiers to remain. Assuming that the ten years' service men quitted the army in any great proportion, most of our regiments must re- 1446 main in a very inefficient state for months, perhaps for years; whereas in the Continental armies the conscription replaced on Tuesday the vacancies caused by lapse of time upon Monday. The noble Lord said, if we happened to be at war there would be no lack of men; but surely the experience of the Crimean war ought not to be lost. Towards the close of that contest our regiments consisted of wretched boys, without strength or constitutions, who, as soon as they were exposed to hardship or fatigue, had to be discharged in bad health, with from 6d. to 9d. a day for two years, at the end of which time they had to go about the country begging. The country had no right to destroy the health of young men by such a system, and then turn them adrift with a miserable pittance. The reduction contemplated was accounted for by the relinquishment of the Ionian Islands; but in the garrisons of those Islands he found that there had been only 372 artillerymen, whereas no less than 1,313 were suddenly to be got rid of; 313 sappers and 813 cavalry were likewise to be struck off. Now, he had never heard of a single cavalry soldier being quartered in the Ionian Islands. It required three years to make a good artilleryman, two years to train a cavalry soldier, and what time to educate a sapper he really did not know; but the proposal of the Government was to weaken these three most important branches of the service. Such a proposal was, in effect, saying to the rest of Europe, "You may kick us as much as you please, but you will not kick us into a fight." If such really were to be our system for the future, it would be well if we abstained from internally interfering and offering an opinion as to the affairs of every other country. He felt pleased that England had not been forced into war, but it was impossible to shut one's eyes to the opinion universally prevalent, that we had behaved in a most disgraceful and un-English manner to a nation as gallant as our own. The Danes were few in number, he granted, but the more credit to them for the gallant way in which they were defending their country. To dispel an illusion was always unpleasant, but he must assure the noble Lord who thought the influence of England had not declined, that a very different opinion was entertained outside the House. Many persons were recalling the old fable about the jackass with the lion's skin. Once the roar of the lion made half Europe quail, but now the bray of the jackass 1447 made all Europe laugh. According to the new heraldry, the lion should be no longer rampant; the lion with his tail between his legs would better illustrate the real position of the country. Our Government had meddled with the affairs of every country of Europe, until it was laughed at by everybody. If there was a division, he should protest against the reduction of the army by a single man.
§ MR. CHILDERS
hoped the House would not be drawn away from financial considerations into a discussion of the Danish policy of the Government. Such a debate would he premature in the first place, but he ventured to think that whenever it was entered upon the country would show at least as much confidence in the policy of the Government in reference to Denmark as it had in the late Government at the time Lord Malmesbury was at the head of the Foreign Office, and the war broke out between France and Austria. He gave sincere thanks to the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) for the perfectly clear mode in which the Estimates had been drawn up; this improvement with the intelligible statement with which the noble Lord had introduced them, would enable the Committee to see at once what was the cost of each branch of the service. As to the French Budgets he warned hon. Members against assuming that the cost of the new arms could yet be conclusively arrived at. No doubt we should aim at a clear estimate of the cost of every article made, without which no one could tell whether the manufacturing departments were properly worked; but the attempt at present to fix the cost of, say the Armstrong gun, would infallibly be delusive. On the whole, considering the present state of Europe, he did not think it would have been wise for the Government to have reduced the Estimates any further; but he was sorry that the promises made last year, of a reduction in the military expenditure of the colonies, had not been kept. For instance, the revenues of Ceylon and the Mauritius were well able to bear an additional proportion of this charge. He could also endorse the opinion of many hon. Members, that the reduction in the numbers of the artillery was injudicious. Many of the colonies would rather have 150 or 200 artillerymen than the present force of 400, 500, or 600 infantry of the line. There were still signs of an inefficient control over the buildings in the military department. At the proper time he would be 1448 obliged to remark upon the carelessness with which the Estimates appear, in the first place, to be drawn in the case of almost every barrack and hospital. He was glad that the War Office were about to improve the canteen arrangements in six or seven home stations. He would suggest that the experiment should also be tried at Gibraltar. He was at that place about four months ago, and regretted to observe that every temptation to drink was held out to the soldiers. He found that half the civil revenue of the place was derived from licences, rents, and payments in connection with public-houses. The reason appeared to be that Gibraltar was located as a Colony, and that it was necessary to create a Colonial revenue to defray its civil charges. But Gibraltar ought to be regarded not as a colony supporting its own civil establishment, but as a large garrison.
could not admit that the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) was correct in calling the present a peace Estimate when it was within a quarter of a million of £15,000,000. He should like to know how many men we could send into the field on a sudden for this fourteen millions and three-quarters? He did not believe that 25,000 men would be available for foreign service even if the militia were called out. The fact was, the men were locked up in the depôt battalions. For £15,000,000 the Government got a great deal of patronage, and the country very little efficiency in the army. He considered that the reduction of 1,300 men in the artillery, and the despatch of seven batteries of horse artillery to India, were both unwise measures. The officers now in this country did not wish to go to India, and those who would come home would be a long time before they were as efficient as the others under circumstances so widely different. The Government would do well, without delay, to alter the system of recruiting. The plan of enlisting for an infantry soldier for ten years was absurd. It would be much better to raise the period from ten to twelve years, as was done in the cavalry and artillery.
THE MAUQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, several hon. Members on the other side had referred to the operation of the Limited Enlistment Act. It was quite true that that Act was now, for the first time, coming into operation; but so far as results had hitherto gone they had been by no means unsatisfactory. If they lost this 1449 year no more in proportion of the limited service men than in former years; their losses would not exceed 4,000; and that, added to the ordinary casualties, would not bring the number of recruits that would be required above 13,000—a number that had been frequently raised in former years. It would be impossible to say, until the Act had been still longer in operation, what would be the general results, and what measures it might be necessary to take in consequence. It was quite possible that it might be necessary to hold out further inducements for re-enlistment; but it would be premature to press for alteration until they had had some few years' experience of the working of the Act. At present, he saw no cause for alarm. As he had said earlier in the evening, the losses in the army were very much smaller than usual, owing to improved sanitary arrangements and the younger age of the men entering the service; but, at all events, there would be no use in asking a larger sum of money than would be required for the number of men likely to enlist. As to the state of our reliefs, there would be borne on the books of the establishment at home forty-one battalions, in India twenty-five, and in the colonies forty-five. That number was not equal to what it ought to be. The proportion at home ought to be fifty battalions, but the rule in that respect was never intended to hold good in exceptional circumstances, such as were created by the war in New Zealand and the large body of troops in Canada. If we got three or four regiments from New Zealand and a few from Canada, we should have a sufficient number of battalions at home to keep up the necessary reliefs. There had been some misunderstanding as to what had been said by the noble Lord at the head of the Government about the reduction owing to the evacuation of the Ionian Islands. If they reduced their army by the exact number of men that was gained by the evacuation of the Ionian Islands, they should make a much more considerable reduction than they did—they should reduce it by 4,000 instead of 1,100 men. As to the reduction of 380 artillerymen, it was well known that if the Ionian Islands were in our hands in case of war they would take not less than 1,000 artillerymen; and, therefore, having given up those Islands, we should, in case of war, have that additional number of artillerymen to depend upon. The Government certainly were of opinion that the country was entitled to 1450 some relief from the surrender of those Islands, and if no reduction had been made the country would not have been at all better off for having given them up, and they had carefully considered in what manner reduction could be best made having regard to the efficiency of the army, and the result was the proposition he had now made.
It had been said that it takes some time to make an artillery soldier, but it was not absolutely necessary that all the men who had to work guns should be highly trained. Within the last two years they had made such arrangements that they now retained a nucleus by means of which a very large force of garrison artillery might be called together should occasion arise, and, under the superintendence of trained officers and men, no doubt they could be very effectively employed. With the good system of artillery officers and non-commissioned officers which they had established, they could afford to spare a few men. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) had mentioned the subject of the Indian capitation rate. The total cost of the depôt battalions for the regiments in India, calculated for whatever number of years, was divided by the number of men in India, and that was the way the capitation rate was arrived at. Several hon. Members had referred to the fact that, although the numbers of men had been diminished by 14,000, Vote I had only been reduced about £700; but the explanation of that circumstance would be found in the statement which had been circulated with the Estimates. As it was necessary that the Mutiny Bill should be passed before Easter, he hoped that the Committee would agree to this Vote to-night.
said, that 5,000 men would complete their service in the course of next year, and much anxiety was felt among military men lest the army should not be properly recruited.
§ SIR WILLIAM FRASER
asked whether it was intended to make any alteration in the uniforms of the army. Facings, colours, or badges, a star or a cross might not appear to civilians matters of much importance, but great value was attached to them by soldiers; and no less an authority than the Duke of Wellington was of opinion, that a difference of facings was of great use in enabling the General of a division or a brigade to distinguish different regiments rapidly and easily.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, that although there might be advantages in having only one button and one set of badges, there was no immediate intention of making any alteration in the uniforms of the army.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he could not refrain from noticing one extraordinary argument which had been used by the Under Secretary for War. The noble Marquess admitted that we had not sufficient troops at home to provide for our colonial reliefs, but he said that the deficiency was caused by the war in New Zealand, and the military occupation of Canada. That meant that there was a war going on in one country, and a probability or possibility of war in another. Yet it was under these circumstances that the Government proposed a reduction of the army. A more singular or more illogical argument he never heard.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, that his argument only went to this—that the Indian reliefs could not be carried on with the same regularity with a war in New Zealand and an occupation of Canada as in ordinary years. No one supposed that during a war the colonial reliefs would go on with their accustomed regularity. The proportion of ten years to five was intendad to be maintained in the time of peace and not in time of war.
Resolution agreed to.
146,766 Land Forces (including 9,947, all ranks, to be employed with the Depôts in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, of Regiments serving in Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, but exclusive of the numbers actually serving within Her Majesty's Indian Possessions).
§ House resumed
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at half after Twelve o'clock.