rose to move an Address for—Copy of the Draft Regulations for the Control Department originally sent in by the War Office to the Treasury, together with any memoranda thereupon by the Assistant Under Secretary of State for War, together with the reply thereto by the Controller in Chief.In the discussion the other evening he had observed that it appeared from the Papers on the table as if the Treasury did not desire that Sir Henry Storks should remain at his post as Controller-in-Chief; and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for War then told him that he laboured under a most extraordinary misapprehension in supposing that the Government, after having selected Sir Henry Storks on account of his high character and distinguished abilities, had now turned round on that distinguished officer and declared that they I did not want him. He (Colonel Jervis) was not in the habit of speaking without a knowledge of the facts to which he referred, and he now declared that every word of his statement was correct. The Papers moved for by the hon. and gallant Member for Truro (Captain Vivian) would distinctly prove all the allegations he had made. They would show that the right hon. Baronet, up to a certain period, worked with entire cordiality with Sir Henry Storks, and that suddenly that gallant officer found himself thrown over, the regulations framed by him being cast aside, If he was correctly informed there were, in fact, two Secretaries of State for War—one recognized by the House and the country; but there was another at the War Office, who was more powerful than the Secretary of State for War—who that individual was he did not know. It could not be the Director of Ordnance, nor the Accountant General, nor Sir Edward Lugard; but the Papers asked for would alone tell them who this great power within the; Department was. It was right that the House should know who were the ruling powers of the Department. What he now wished to state was that he was not incorrect in his statement on a previous evening; but that the right hon. Baronet was not accurately informed by those whose duty it was to give him proper information.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "an
humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a Copy of the Draft Regulations for the Control Department originally sent in by the War Office to the Treasury, together with any memoranda there upon by the Assistant Under Secretary of State for War, together with the reply thereto by the Controller in Chief,"—(Colonel Jervis,)
§ LORD ELCHO
said, this question of Army Control could not be too often considered. It was not his intention to find fault with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, for in all communications with his right hon. Friend he had always found him most anxious to promote the efficiency of the service; and he believed that if the right hon. Baronet could have had his will, and if the Control Department had been established in accordance with the Letter of the 8th of March, there would be no reason for any Member of that House to find fault with what had occurred. There existed an erroneous impression among a portion of the public, who supposed that this controversy was a fight between the civil and military officers of the War Office, the latter endeavouring to place the military element above the civil clement. He held in his hand an article which appeared recently in the Saturday Review, which clearly showed I either that the public mind had been led astray upon this question, or that there was an animus manifested by certain authorities in the War Department which was thoroughly discreditable to all parties concerned. It was said in that article—The adverse decision of the Treasury is of: course, for all practical purposes, an end of the really great career which was open to Sir Henry Storks and General Balfour at the War Office. They had the chance of distinguishing themselves by the introduction of great reforms into our Army Administration. They have used their opportunity to serve a project for intensifying the already intolerable control which the Horse Guards indirectly exercises over the War Office. If they had been left undisturbed, not a civilian would have remained six months in any position of importance, and the army would have governed the Minister of War through his exclusively military subordinates, and have risen superior to Parliamentary control. What it would have cost under such a system no one can guess; but happily the chief agents in the scheme have defeated themselves by excess of zeal. There is now little more to fear, for, though discussion may be burked in the present Parliament, military domination is the last thing which the new House is likely to endure. Whether Sir Henry Storks and his assistant will retire on the significant hint of the Treasury, or will cling a little longer to the rank and emoluments of a position which they have not known how to fill, is very immaterial.1267 He was inclined to think that article was inspired by some high authority in the War Department of the Government. From what he had heard from the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Office, he believed there existed in its Departments a great jealousy of the new office of Controller-in-Chief. which was to control them all. It appeared that an attempt had been made to set aside the intentions of Lord Strathnairn's Committee in favour of the appointment of one man to control all these Departments under the authority of the Secretary of State for War. Sir Henry Storks, who was selected for the post he now filled as being the most competent man in the country to re-organize these unorganized Departments and to tiring them under same system of control, and General Balfour had given evidence before Lord Strathnairn's Committee, and a scheme by which there should be one Controller subject to the Secretary of State for War had been recommended by the Committee, which was approved by some of the most competent authorities on the subject. That scheme had been submitted to the Secretary of State for War, who approved it, and wrote a letter to the Treasury asking them to endorse it, and stating that in the event of their doing so it might be put into immediate operation on the 1st of April in Ireland, where it was proposed to try it in the first instance. This letter from the Secretary of State was met by objections on the part of the Treasury which were accepted by the right hon. Gentleman, and the result was that they had now in operation a system of control accepted by the Government and by the right hon. Gentleman in place of that proposed by Sir Henry Storks and General Balfour. The right hon. Gentleman shook his head at that statement; but he could not say that the present system had received the approval of those gallant gentlemen. He (Lord Elcho) should be glad to hear his explanation on the matter. A great deal of misapprehension appeared to prevail respecting the alleged desire among certain officers at the War Office to place the military element above the civil element; but he believed that the various Departments of the War Office would be much better and more economically administered if the duties were performed by officers and noncommissioned officers of the army, as was the case in every other well-regulated military Department, such as those in Prussia and France. The right hon. Gen- 1268 tleman had advocated the principle of giving higher pay for more work; but, on the contrary, he believed that by the system of employing half-pay officers in the higher classes and non-commissioned officers in the lower grades they would obtain infinitely better work for a less amount of pay, while it would prove a stimulus to enlistment in the army. In fact, he believed that it would prove a most desirable investment of the public money to buy up all the interests of the present clerks, in order to appoint military men in their room, and he thought the scheme one well worthy of the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman. In the event of the various offices being filled by military men, there would be no danger of the military element becoming insubordinate, or of its attempting to become superior to the Secretary of State for War, who would still be the complete autocrat of his Department, and superior to every other authority at the War Office—even to the Horse Guards and the Commander-in-Chief. The Duke of Cambridge, in giving evidence before the Commission of 1860, said, in answer to Question 4,105, that he should recognize the superior authority of the Secretary of State for War in all cases. It was clear that the Secretary of State for War exercised complete control over the Commander-in-Chief, except in matters of discipline, and even in such instance the ultimate appeal was to the Secretary of State for War. Sir Charles Trevelyan, himself a civilian, had said after the Crimean War that military men should be employed to a largo extent in the War Office. But, instead of appointing one Controller-in-Chief, it was proposed to establish under the new system practically two Controllers, one of whom might be a financial gentleman, who, though thoroughly competent to administer the monetary affairs of the Department, might be, on the other hand, utterly ignorant of the means of securing military efficiency, or incapable of forming a sound opinion as to the necessity or otherwise of the recommendations of the Controller-in-Chief. He could not see the necessity for the appointment of one Controller General who was to exercise control with regard to military matters, and of another who was to exercise control over financial matters. The Secretary of State who was responsible to Parliament would still have the control of the Controller-in-Chief. The Report was full of passages which pointed to the Controller as the sole 1269 officer who, in the opinion of the Committee, should govern the whole Department, being responsible alone to the Secretary of State. The practical result of the recommendations of Lord Strathnairn's Committee was that the Secretary of State for War at home and the general officers commanding abroad would have to deal in all matters relating to the administration of the army with one responsible officer. Last night, meeting Lord Strathnairn, he asked him whether he approved the present position of this question; and he was bound to say, giving the utmost credit to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War for the excellence of his intentions, he should be very much surprised if, in the discussion which was to come on tonight on this subject in the other House of Parliament, that noble Lord (Lord Strathnairn) did say that he approved this system, or that it did give effect to the Report of his Committee. On the contrary, he believed be would say that he considered the whole scheme of the Controllership they had laid down after the most careful inquiry had been cut out, and that the scheme as originally proposed by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War had been nullified by the subsequent proceedings. In conclusion, he thought this subject was of an importance that could not he exaggerated, and on which the public were greatly mistaken.
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
urged the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington), in justice to his Department as well as to himself, to accede to the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Jervis), in order that the country might know what were really his views upon the matter at issue.
denied that he had ever contended that the Controller-in-Chief was to be equally powerful with the Secretary of State for War. On the contrary, he had always expressed the opinion that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War should possess entire and supreme control over his own and every other Department connected with the army. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether there was any material difference between the draft regulations that were withdrawn and the regulations which were now being acted upon. He understood that they were substantially the same. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accede to his hon. and gallant Friend's wishes.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that looking 1270 forward to a much larger change in the relations of the principal officers of our military Departments, he only regarded the present controversy as relating to a temporary expedient. But even as to that it was undesirable to adopt false principles; and he could not too strongly protest against the doctrine laid down by his noble Friend—that the Accountant General was the only person to whom the Secretary of State should refer as to financial matters involved in proposals by a Controller-in-Chief, or other administrative officer. When his noble Friend referred to Sir Charles Trevelyan, he forgot that that Gentleman had proposed that an Under Secretary of State should be the financial adviser of the War Minister.
§ SIR. JOHN PAKINGTON
said, it was impossible for him to remain silent after what had fallen from the noble Lord opposite (Lord Elcho). This conversation had been commenced by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Harwich (Colonel Jervis), and he (Sir John Pakington) presumed that he was not aware he was acting in violation of the rules of the House, or the Speaker would have interrupted him when he was making his statement. It struck him, however, that his hon. and gallant Friend was not acting in accordance with their usual practice in the course he had taken. His hon. and gallant Friend commenced his observations by referring to a speech of his (Sir John Pakington's), made in that House more than a week ago, and then, passing on to a speech made by himself in reply, arrived at the comfortable conclusion that he (Colonel Jervis) was right, and he (Sir John Pakington) was wrong. His hon. and gallant Friend distinctly stated, in reference to the Papers laid before the House, that the Government had turned round upon Sir Henry Storks, and displayed a desire to get rid of him.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he had noticed that in strong language. He said such a statement was wild, unfounded, and unjustifiable. He did not shrink from one of these words, but was rather disposed to reiterate them. The statement was utterly unfounded. He repeated that the most harmonious feeling existed between him and Sir Henry Storks, and he should be base indeed if he had acted in any way inconsistent with that respectful feeling which he had ever evinced towards that 1271 distinguished Gentleman. When then, the hon. and gallant Member came down to the House and made a statement to the effect that, finding Sir Henry Storks had served his (Sir John Pakington's) purpose, he was trying to get rid of him, the Member for Harwich was casting upon him (Sir John Pakington) an aspersion which, if he did not at once repudiate in the strongest possible manner, he should be unworthy to hold the Office which he now filled. The hon. and gallant Member went on to allude to another power, which, he said, was equal to that of the Secretary of State within the War Office. It was much to be lamented that his hon. and gallant Friend should have founded such statements upon mere idle gossip picked up here and there. He had never heard such a remarkable departure from anything like an accurate knowledge of what was the real state of the War Office as was shown in the speeches both of the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Colonel Jervis) and the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho). There was no such rivalry of opinion going on in the War Office as was supposed from the speeches alluded to. Now, his noble Friend had read an extract from the Saturday Review, and all he (Sir John Pakington) could say was, that he had never seen that article. [Lord ELCHO: I did not say so.] He could not help feeling that the course pursued by his noble Friend was an unusual one. He (Sir John Pakington) was sorry to say he had observed in certain letters which appeared lately in the London Press a combination of personality and misstatement regarding War Office affairs which, in the interest of the public generally, he deeply regretted; because, however erroneous those statements were, they were sure to be accepted as facts by a certain portion of the public. The noble Lord said he believed that the article in the Saturday Review was inspired by some person high up in the War Office.
§ LORD ELCHO
No; what I said was, I do not think it impossible that the article was inspired. I did not say that I had reason to believe it was inspired.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Well, that was pretty much the same thing. Now, he refused to believe that anyone in the War Office could be so base and disloyal as to publish newspaper attacks upon the Department with which he was connected. He would not deny that he had heard such statements before, that he had been told 1272 that these personalities and attacks had proceeded from some one connected with the War Office; but he for one did not believe that statement, and all he could say in reply was that if the man were pointed out he should know how to deal with him. The noble Lord said he believed that some differences had arisen between him and Sir Henry Storks and General Balfour. [Lord ELCHO denied having made such statement.] He could only say there was not the slightest foundation for such an insinuation. He had further to express his regret that those Members of the House who were most desirous to see this system of control carried out should come down to that House and throw difficulties in his way, and do more than any others to endanger the prosperity and success of the working of the scheme. It was idle to suppose that such a large change as was contemplated could be effected without great difficulty and perhaps inconvenience to certain gentlemen of high position in the office, but the difficulty was much increased by the course which was pursued by Gentlemen who ought to give him all the encouragement in their power instead of throwing obstacles in his way. This was the more to be regretted, inasmuch as the objections urged were for the most part futile and unfounded, for he did not believe that any change was ever inaugurated with greater promise of success. The hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Colonel Jervis) had now asked him, as the hon. and gallant Member for Truro (Captain Vivian) had asked him the other evening, to produce a Copy of the Regulations which were first drawn up, the Correspondence written by Mr. Galton, and the answers of Sir Henry Storks. Personally he should not have slightest objection to their production; indeed, he should be pleased to see them upon the table of the House. But he would ask hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House to remember that if he were to accede to this Motion he would be establishing a precedent of the most dangerous and objectionable character. Whenever any departmental change was introduced Parliament had a right to be informed of the change; but to demand the production of such Correspondence as that now asked—documents which must be looked upon to a great extent as private in their character—would be establishing a precedent which could not but injuriously affect the best interests of the public service of this country, Believing that such would be the result, he could not assent to 1273 the Motion made by his hon. and gallant Friend.
said, that he felt bound not to withdraw his Motion for the production of these Papers.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he trusted the House would consider before giving a decision on a point which was of the utmost importance. If the House were to insist upon the production of Papers and Correspondence which concerned the preparation and preliminary consideration of measures, they would thereby put a stop to that freedom of criticism which was always invited on such occasions, and which contributed so much to the perfection of public measures. The moment that it became known that the opinions of those most competent to judge of public measures, and who were invited to express them, were likely to be produced in that House, great disadvantage to the public service would result, because everybody would naturally shrink from the responsibility he would have to encounter. Instead, then, of the Government having the advantage of the suggestions which they were in the habit of receiving, and the information and criticism which better enabled them to carry out any changes which they contemplated in the administration of public affairs, they would find themselves in the position of having to deal with merely mechanical persons, who would afford only information upon points on which they were well up, and they (the Government) would lose the advantage arising from those large spontaneous suggestions, and from that general information which tended greatly to the advantage of the public interests. He trusted then, for the sake of the public service, that the House would not assent to this demand for the production of the Papers called for.
§ Question "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ MR. DISRAELI
, referring to several other Amendments on the Paper, said, it was really of the utmost importance that the House should go into Committee upon the Army Vote. He hoped that the hon. Member for Cashel (Mr. O'Beirne), who had a Motion on the Paper respecting the Shoeburyness experiments, would waive his right, in order to allow the Vote in question to be taken in Committee.
§ MR. O'BEIRNE
said, he would withdraw his Motion, on the understanding that the right hon. Gentleman would give him 1274 an opportunity of bringing that most important matter, of which he had given Notice, under the consideration of the House, before the close of the Session.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The hon. Member can bring on his Motion upon the Report of Supply under any circumstances.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The House will sit on Saturday, and I have no doubt the hon. Gentleman will be then afforded the opportunity he desires.
§ MR. CANDLISH
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would put down the Corrupt Practices at Elections Bill as the first Order of the Day for that evening, it having been fixed for the Morning Sitting? ["No, no!"] That Bill and the Irish Registration Bill must, he presumed, become law before the close of this Session, the Government having pledged themselves to carry them. The Corrupt Practices at Elections Bill might fairly take precedence that evening of the Cattle Market Bill. ["No, no!"]
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
desired to remind the House that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had declared that all business connected with the question of Reform would be the first to be wound up. The Irish Registration Bill was not only connected with Reform, but its immediate passing was a necessity. There could, therefore, be no reason why it should not have precedence of the Cattle Market Bill. ["No, no!"] He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would adhere to the declarations which he had made, and either proceed with Reform measures or assign some intelligible reasons for deviating from that course.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I repeat it is the determination of Her Majesty's Government to carry the Corrupt Practices at Elections Bill, and all I can say is this—I will not advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament until that measure is definitely decided upon by the House. With that view alone I propose a two o'clock Sitting of the House to morrow in order to go on with that Bill. With regard to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Milner Gibson) on the subject of Corrupt Practices, I do not think that I have said anything to justify that phrase as a description of my policy. My wish is to fulfil the engagements I have made with a number of Gentlemen on both sides of the House. I 1275 have, therefore, fixed this evening for the Metropolitan Foreign Cattle Market Bill, and I feel myself bound to adhere to that arrangement. I do not, of course, know how long the discussion upon that subject may take; but perhaps it may terminate before the usual time of adjournment. In that case we shall take the Irish Registration Bill, which is on the Paper. In the new fervour for Reform principles of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Milner Gibson)—of which by the way he gave us very little taste during the general discussions—he seems to throw a doubt upon our sincerity in those questions immediately connected with it. He may, however, rest assured that the Irish Registration Bill will pass this Session, because without it we cannot make the appeal to the country which we are so desirous of expediting. Allowing this arrangement, then, to stand, I propose that on to-morrow at two o'clock we shall proceed with the Corrupt Practices Bill.