§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 135,047 Men (including an average number of 6,385 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), be maintained for the service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive.
§ MR. LEATHAM
Sir, I rise to move that the number of men be reduced by 20,000. I regret that I have to commence my remarks at so late an hour; but, in order to save time, I will read a quotation, containing so much practical wisdom and so many facts bearing on the Motion that I need not apologize for bringing it under the notice of the Committee. When the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War moved 518 his Estimates, on the 9th of March last year, he thus expressed himself—I have here a Return, showing what the force of this country has been at various times throughout a long list of years. I find some years in which the actual force may have been exceeded; but there is not one in which the force exceeded the force for which these Estimates provide, if you include the Reserves; and I think that under these circumstances it was the bounden duty of the Government to give to the British taxpayer the full benefit of the colonial reduction. I do not think it to the interest of the Army itself to maintain it at so high a standard as to give reasonable cause for complaint of the pressure of taxation; and I think that if we had hesitated to give the benefit of this remission to the British taxpayer, there would have been felt that impatience of taxation which is as ready to be expressed now, as it was in the time of Lord Castlereagh, but which is not to be called 'ignorant' impatience, because it is armed with knowledge—and knowledge now is power—and is capable of making itself felt. I contend, therefore, that we are fully justified in the reductions which we have made, and that in making them we have not, in the slightest degree, impaired the efficiency of our military establishments."—[3 Hansard, cxcix. 1166.]That speech was delivered at a time when Europe was at peace, although it was well known that Prussia and France were arming against each other. On the 1st of August, 1870, however, the right hon. Gentleman returned to the same topic, and said—I repeat now, what I said on a former occasion, that, from the time of the disarmament which followed the Battle of Waterloo down to the time of the Crimean War, there never has been any force in this country equal to the force provided for in the Estimates of the present year."—[Ibid, cciii. 1327.]And he goes on to say—Let me take two years since the Crimean War, and compare them with the present. … . I shall first take 1862, when there were very extensive armaments in this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), in a speech which will be long remembered, spoke of them as extraordinary and extravagant, and the term 'bloated armaments' was applied to them. What was our position in 1862? We were then almost at war; we had sent the Guards to Canada on account of the Trent affair. … . In 1862 the number at home, exclusive of depôts, was 74,372, while this year it is 78,548."—[Ibid. 1327–8.]The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to institute a similar comparison with 1868—the model year of hon. Gentleman opposite—and showed that, on the same basis of calculation, the number in 1868 was 70,492, as against 78,548. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say— 519But I will call the attention of this House to another statement. If we take the Regular forces, and combine with them the forces liable to service at home and abroad, with the single exception of the year 1856, when the forces raised for the Crimea were still unbroken and not reduced, there never was a force in this country available for service at home and abroad such as will be provided when the troops from the Colonies shall have arrived home. … I therefore conclude my observations by saying I rejoice that we are not at war, and I trust that we have no prospect either of war or of armed neutrality; but this I venture to say, that if we were upon the eve of a war, we might truly say that England never entered on a war finding her resources in material and men in a greater state of preparation than she finds them at present."—[Ibid. 1331–4.]It may, perhaps, excite the surprise of the Committee if I remind them that, on the very day the Secretary for War made this complacent and re-assuring speech, the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown came down to the House and announced that he was about to move for an additional force; the force, indeed, of 20,000 men to which the present Motion has reference. These men were not wanted because France and Prussia had gone to war, but because the Projet de Traité had given a shock to the public mind, and that many persons thought we might be called upon at any moment to interfere by force of arms to preserve the neutrality of Belgium against France. And it was in his reply to a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), who had called the special attention of the House to the existence of the draft Treaty, that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government made this announcement. Would the right hon. Gentleman contend, however, that the Belgian difficulty any longer existed? The Government was bound to state why a force raised to meet a particular emergency was retained in the Estimates long after that emergency had passed away. The speech of the Secretary for War, on introducing the Army Regulation Bill, contained no apology or argument for retaining these 20,000 men, who were silently permitted to take their place on the permanent establishment of the country, in spite of the express declaration of the right hon. Gentleman that "we had no dangers to apprehend." No dangers to apprehend, Sir! Then why are we asked to levy this vast additional fine upon the industry and prosperity 520 of the country? "I want 135,000 Regulars," says the right hon. Gentleman. "I want 39,000 men of the Army Reserve; I want 139,000 Militiamen; I want 14,000 Yeomanry, and 170,000 Volunteers. I want, in all, nearly 500,000 men. I wish, at great expense, to consolidate this huge force into an efficient and disciplined Army. And why? Because we have no dangers to apprehend." And what has become of the right hon. Gentleman's solicitude for the feelings of the British taxpayer? "We are asking for £8,000,000 sterling, in order that we may abolish purchase," say the Government. "We are asking for £412,000 more than last year for the Militia; a big additional sum for the Army Reserve; a bigger additional sum for the Volunteers; for £1,000,000 more than last year for stores and guns." Now, what do all these vast sums represent? They either represent nothing but extravagance and folly, or they represent a corresponding addition to the defensive strength of the country. We were told last year that our preparations for war were unsurpassed; to those unsurpassed preparations we are adding everything which is represented by these vast sums. Yet we cannot spare a single soldier from the Army; more than that, we are adding to it 20,000 men. What, then, becomes of all our preaching to foreign nations about disarmament, when at the first moment at which disarmament has become possible, we preach with such a text in our hands as this—"Look on us and be healed of your military fever. It is quite true that we avail ourselves of the first moment of peace enormously to swell our military budget. It is quite true that, although we now possess the only real Navy in the world, we go on building ships in breathless haste—faster, even, than we can send them to the bottom by the precipitate novelty of our inventions. It is quite true that, having been content for many years with a moderate Army—an Army sufficient to protect our own shores, but not large enough to be regarded as a standing menace to Europe—we have suddenly changed our policy, and talk of parading a force of 500,000 men before your eyes. It is quite true that we are doing all this under the advice of a Ministry whose watchword is 'Peace, retrenchment, and tenderness for the British taxpayer.' Attend not 521 to what we do, but to what we say. Professions are everything. Don't mind our attitude; mind our Gospel. We are arming to the teeth; but that is only because we are a practical nation and have no dangers to apprehend." Sir, these are the Estimates of panic. They were framed to meet the exigencies of a state of public feeling which may have existed three months ago, but which certainly does not exist now. Does anybody doubt that in three months the panic will have so far subsided as to have left the right hon. Gentleman and his Estimates high and dry? Proof of this change of feeling is not far to seek. Three months ago it was perfectly possible, without risking one's reputation for sanity, to talk of turning England into one great camp; of raising 2,000,000 bayonets; of introducing here the Prussian military system. Three months ago it was not accepted as evidence of postprandial inebriation if Our Own Correspondents wrote letters from Versailles, detailing Prussian projects of invasion, upon bridges of boats 30 miles long. But if any hon. Member were to talk now of turning England into a great camp, he would at once become an object of anxiety to his friends; if he were to talk of raising 2,000,000 bayonets, and of introducing the Prussian compulsory system, he would probably receive an early call from a couple of psychological physicians; and if Our Own Correspondent were to appear in public with that bridge of boats of his in his bonnet, public ridicule would compel him to seek a congenial shelter within the sanctuary of Bedlam. And since this is so, and since we may now calculate by weeks or by days our complete return to one of our lucid intervals—one of those revulsions of common sense, during which the British taxpayer dreads no invasion whatever, except that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is cause for astonishment—I must say more than that, it is cause for profound regret to me and many hon. Members of this House—to find that an Administration which started so fairly, with such high resolves and such magnificent promises, should distance, in extravagance of military expenditure, even the lavish Government which it displaced. Why what was the accusation which the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister bore before him, as though inscribed upon a banner, all through his 522 great South Lancashire campaign? Was it not this—"The Government of the right hon. Gentleman opposite has added £3,000,000 to the permanent expenditure of the country within two years?" It was upon this cheval de bataille that the right hon. Gentleman went ambling and prancing from one end of South Lancashire to the other. The right hon. Gentleman comes into power; he ousts the Government of right hon. Gentlemen opposite on the ground that they are spendthrift; and at the first access of one of those melancholy paroxysms of alienation of mind, to which a certain portion—and not the wiser portion, of the British public is periodically subject, the right hon. Gentleman makes the paroxysm his own, and at one bound, in one year, and in dealing with one branch alone of our expenditure, he achieves that augmentation of £3,000,000 which it was the head and front of the offending of the right hon. Gentleman opposite that he achieved in two years, and while dealing with the whole area of national expense. I have the words of the right hon. Gentleman here, taken from a speech of his at Warrington. What he says is this—I come back to the charge, and I repeat what I have said—£3,000,000 have been added to the public permanent expenditure, without taking into view one farthing of the millions that have been expended on the Abyssinian war.He then goes on to say—It is divided roughly, in this way, £1,400,000 for the Army, £600,000 for the Navy, and £1,000,000 for the Civil Service. You may have seen ingenious efforts to draw away the attention of the public from the real question at issue by such doctrines as this—that the services of the country, the military and naval services, were in an inefficient state, and that the money has been spent in order to make them efficient. You won't misunderstand me when I tell you that if you intend to have any limit at all put upon the expenditure of the country, it is high time that you should stand upon your guard against 'efficiency.'I do not propose to enliven this debate by a quotation of parallel passages from speeches delivered by the right hon. Gentleman's Colleagues, but there is one speech which I cannot pass over so lightly. It is a speech delivered by a Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman—by a right hon. Friend of mine who is no longer a Member of the Cabinet, and who, I rejoice to think, is no longer responsible for these Estimates, for if he were there would have passed a 523 blight upon his reputation as a public man. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!] An hon. Member says "No, no," but let him hear what my right hon. Friend said. I am about to quote from a speech delivered at Birmingham, when he had gone down to be re-elected after taking office under the right hon. Gentleman, and I beg my hon. Friend's attention to the exact words he used. My right hon. Friend said—Now there comes one other, and it is the only other, great public question on which I shall say anything, and that is the question of our large and, as I think, our scandalous expenditure. It will be necessary for the Administration, to entitle itself to the support of the country, that it should from Session to Session exercise a rigid economy—lessen sensibly what I call our gross and scandalous expenditure, and lessen, in a corresponding degree, the oppressive and intolerable taxation which now sits upon the English people. Since the unfortunate event, the war with Russia in 1854, the cost of the military organization of the country has increased, as you know, enormously; and at the same time the people have come to the opinion that our ancient policy of interfering with the disputes and the confusion of the Continent ought to be abandoned. What can be more mad, what more worthy not of sensible men, but of lunacy itself, than that, when we are abandoning a policy of constant, and incessant, and costly, and sanguinary, interference, we should still find it necessary to add millions and millions to our military expenditure, as if, instead of becoming wiser in our foreign policy, we were every year becoming more foolish than our fathers had been? Rely upon it, that so long as Parliament exacts from the industry of this people £70,000,000 a-year, there is no power on earth that can raise your poor and suffering population from its present position. Let me tell you this—I say it as a Member of this Administration which is just formed, and I tell you nothing here that is a secret, as you know—that no Government is deserving of the confidence and of the support of the people of this country which cannot carry on the administration of the country in a manner consistent with the dignity and the security of the nation for a smaller sum than £70,000,000 a-year.What a satire was that speech upon such Estimates as these! Before I sit down, I will deal with one or two of the excuses we shall probably hear for the retention of this Vote. We shall be told that we want these 20,000 men to protect us from foreign aggression. Aggression from whom? Never in the memory of the present generation has this country been so absolutely secure from foreign invasion as it is at this moment. Let the right hon. Gentleman sweep the whole horizon for danger. Let him bring to bear upon any portion of it he pleases the powerful telescope of 524 his imagination, and where will he find it? On the side of France? We all regret what has happened in France. In the midst of that regret, there is only one little drop of selfish consolation, and it is this—that the bugbear of French invasion—a bugbear so costly and disastrous to this country—has absolutely disappeared. But mark with what promptitude one nightmare leaps into the place of another, the moment that that place is free. The danger is now from Germany. And, pray, how are the Germans to arrive in this country? Will they charter the British Fleet? I remember reading somewhere that the ants—which by-the-by are the Germans of the tropics, since they stick at nothing and eat up everything—when they are going upon one of their great devouring expeditions, so far condescend to imitate the human species as to march in column. This column extends for miles, and when the head of it reaches the brink of a river, such is the devotion of these little creatures to their sense of duty, or their love of glory, or their appetite for green vegetables, that they immediately plunge into it. Half a mile of ants perish in the process, but the column eventually emerges on the other side of the stream, marching sedately over a dam formed by the bodies of the pioneers. Are we asked to believe that the Germans, who already resemble the ants in so many particulars, will resemble them also in this, and that we shall see the Prussians arriving at Dover, walking and leaping and praising God over the corpses of defunct Saxons and Würtembergers, to whom on this occasion, as on so many others, they will, no doubt, surrender, at great personal sacrifice to themselves, the post of honour at the head of the column? But, jesting apart, I remember a speech of Lord Palmerston's upon invasion—and we all know to our sorrow how great an authority he was upon this subject—in which he said—If France were a country separated from our own by an impassable barrier; if France had no Navy—I should say that all this was a matter in which we had no concern.What was a matter in which we had no concern? The gigantic military preparations of France. Lord Palmerston's hypothetical case has been realized in the case of Germany—a vast Army—no means whatever of transport; yet this is 525 a reason for adding £3,000,000 to your Military Estimates. But it might be said that we want these 20,000 men to protect us not from invasion, but from the possibility of panic. That is an old argument; we have heard it whenever we have been asked to take a great stride forwards in military extravagance. We heard it when the Militia were embodied; when the fortification scheme was broached; when it was proposed to enrol the Volunteers. We have our Militia, our fortifications, our Volunteers, and we have our panics. Panics occur, as experience proves, precisely at those periods when their occurrence is the most irrational. We have only to pile up preparations for defence, and we are sure to have a panic. But, perhaps, I shall be told that we want these 20,000 men in order that we may maintain our position of authority in Europe; have a finger in every pie, and get a scratch or a tumble in everybody else's quarrel. But with what measure of authority will 20,000 men entitle you to interfere in the disputes of the armed monarchies of Europe? And if they could, what then? This policy of perpetual interference is the ambition of nations which cannot be great at home. It is the resource of Governments which desire that the public eye may be fixed upon anything except themselves. It was the ambition and the resource of the nation and Government of France; and how did it all end? Yet, with the lesson of France still reeking before our eyes, we are asked to go and play at Frenchmen—and to play at Frenchmen with 20,000 men. Sir, I have formed quite another estimate of the duty and ambition of England. Providence has placed the sea for ever between us and that insatiable greed of dominion which distracts and torments some of the peoples and princes of the Continent, in order that while they fight and scramble for a treacherous pre-eminence we may obtain a real and lasting one—pre-eminence in civilization, in order, in prosperity, in freedom; pre-eminence in everything which the hopes and aspirations of just men may rest upon, or the smile of Heaven descend.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 115,047 Men (including an average number of 6,385 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), be maintained for the service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive."—(Mr. Leatham.)
§ MR. CARDWELL
I do not intend to occupy, at any length, the time of the Committee in answer to my hon. Friend; but I beg to assure him that there is no ambitious policy on the part of the Government in this proposal, and that I am as sorry as any person possibly can be that there should be any necessity for an increase of the Estimates. But the question is, whether it be the pleasure of the House to accept the proposal of Her Majesty's Government or to diminish the Vote by 20,000 men. Let us just consider the position in which we are placed. My hon. Friend did me the honour to quote some remarks which I made last year in moving the Estimates. If the Estimates were to be moved again under the same circumstances, I should make the same remarks. But the question to-night is this, that it is expedient, owing to the occurrences of the last autumn, to add 20,000 men to the military force of the country, and my opinion is that it is part of an economical policy that you should have a force so constituted that when circumstances vary, and emergencies arise, you may vary the cost and increase the force rapidly. Now, that 20,000 men to which my hon. Friend objects have been distributed among the artillery, the cavalry, and the infantry, with one or two minor forces. With regard to the 5,000 men which had been added to the artillery, I will just ask my hon. Friend whether he thinks it would be wise, with the knowledge we have acquired from the events which have occurred in Europe, to return to the state in which our artillery was before those events occurred? As for the cavalry, it has been increased to a small amount, but is still as small a force as any nation of any importance possesses. Then we come to the 12,000 men added to the infantry. I have already explained in the earlier part of the evening that if you discharged any of those men you would inflict a blow both on efficiency and economy. I can only repeat what I have said earlier in the evening, that when these men are offered the option of joining the Reserve, and certain portions are borne on the books of the regiments, it will be a fair 527 question for the consideration of the Government whether, under the circumstances of the time, it is necessary to fill their places or not. I believe the House of Commons is of the same mind now as it was when it voted the 20,000 men last Session, and that we should not receive the approval of the Committee if we accepted the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, that he had resisted the Vote for increasing the Army by 20,000 men six months ago, and he believed that there were a great many Members who regretted that they had not given him their support. Circumstances were now changed. What had we to fear from Germany? Surely the Germans, after their late successes, were satiated, with glory, and a nation with every other household in mourning was not likely to wish to renew war. Nothing was calculated upon, that had been previously done, and the discussion proceeded as if no preparations had been made. The Queen's Speech had assured them that they were on good terms with all nations, and yet they were now asked to sanction this expensive Vote. Sir Robert Peel, speaking in 1850, after retiring from office, said he believed that, as regarded our military forces in time of peace, we must be content to incur some risk. It was absolutely essential that, when Ministers came down to the House with such a proposal as this, they should tell the House distinctly of whom it was that they were afraid. The Government had conducted foreign affairs so as to secure almost universal approval. He asked the House not to trust to mere military force, but to seek to promote the interests of truth and justice. He asked the Government to re-consider these Estimates, and to act in the spirit of their own former professions.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
I am not at all surprised at the Motion of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), who, to use the language of his hon. Relative (Mr. Bright), has always been the strenuous opponent of what he describes as unnecessary armaments. Sir, I believe that Her Majesty's Government have done their duty by the country, and that such is the opinion of the House, in proposing an increase of our armaments; but let them consider for a moment what has occurred in the course 528 of this Session. They have coupled the proposal of increased Estimates with another proposal for the expenditure of from £8,000,000 to £10,000,000 in order to abolish the purchase of commissions in the Army. They hold forth to the country the prospect of an increased retirement for the officers who serve in the Army, and the smallest amount at which I have heard that increased retirement stated is £500,000, and the capital which £500,000 a-year represents is £15,000,000 per annum. £10,000,000, then, for purchasing out the commissions in the Army, and £15,000,000, the capital required for the retired allowances, make £25,000,000; and that is the amount to be expended before we commence Army re-organization. Now, Sir, I have never agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham in his wholesale denunciation of armies; but I warn Her Majesty's Government that the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman, their late Colleague, have found a reflex in different parts of the country; and I question the policy of the Government in proposing an expenditure equal to £25,000,000 sterling, for the purpose of accomplishing a re-organization of the regimental system which is so unpopular on this side of the House, among Gentlemen who have generally furnished support to all necessary increase of our armaments, that we have had five nights of debate in opposition to the scheme. It is my belief, also, that the objections taken on this side of the House are perfectly well-founded; that they are founded, moreover, upon grounds which have never been touched upon during the debate, and that the change proposed is calculated to render the Army unpopular in the country. When the right hon. Gentleman the Controller-General of the Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks), spoke upon this subject, he adverted to the 1st clause of the Mutiny Act, by which Parliament has retained in its own hands the maintenance of a standing Army; and the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the feeling which dictated that jealousy has passed away for ever. Fortunately, owing to the peculiar organization of our Army, owing to the great merit of the regimental system, there has been no manifestation of jealousy for many years; but it is my belief that, by this costly experiment which you contemplate making, 529 by this change in the regimental system, by this depriving that system of its elements of independence—an independence consistent, as the Controller-General knows, with the most perfect discipline—you will so alter the constitution of the Army as possibly to produce an increase of efficiency, but, in my opinion, with the certainty of rendering the Army much less popular in the country than it was before. If we are to have an Army we must keep it in time of peace, in order to be prepared for war; and one of the great merits of the English Army has hitherto been that the purchase system—the fact that every officer is not only a volunteer, but pays for being a volunteer—has done more to reconcile the people of this country to the expense—the vast expense—of the existing Army, than any one circumstance with which I am acquainted. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Huddersfield has alluded to the views entertained by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, the late Colleague of the Government. I have been in a position to feel the power of that right hon. Gentleman's former appeals against the Army; and, therefore, I feel justified in warning the House that they must be very careful, when making any change in the constitution of the Army, not to sacrifice, in their anxious desire for securing efficiency, those elements which identify the Army with the feelings of the people by preserving prominently before their eyes the fact that every officer is not only a volunteer but a citizen identified with the great body of the people in every respect. The House will, perhaps, forgive me, if I take a glance for one moment at what is occurring on the other side of the water. Sir, no man can point to a period when the officers of the English Army have been murdered by their own soldiers. But that is one of the melancholy characteristics of the system which prevails in France, and it has lately received a fresh illustration. Well, upon what principle is the change now proposed by Her Majesty's Government in the regimental system of the English Army founded? Sir, it is founded upon the French system. Who is the chief promoter of that system in this House? The hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan). And from whence did he obtain the scheme? We have it in 530 evidence; we have it in the evidence given before the Royal Commission of 1858 that he took the scheme from his own father. Here is the evidence that Sir Charles Trevelyan recommended the abolition of the system of purchase with a view to assimilating the regimental system under which officers are appointed in the English Army, to the system according to which they are appointed in the armies of France. I will not quote the particular passage in the evidence; but I beg to refer hon. Gentlemen to the Report—the first document issued by the Commissioners in the year 1858—where they will find in the evidence given by Sir Charles Trevelyan, that he recommended a change on the system of appointing officers in the English Army, and an approximation to the French system; and he gives his reasons, some of which have already been stated in this House. He assumed the existence of inefficiency among the officers of the English Army. He said that the French Army was superior to that of England in what is called the Intendance—that is to say, the civil departments of the Army; and he attributed the breakdown of our Commissariat and the medical and other branches of the Civil Service in the Crimea to deficiencies on the part of the regimental officers. Was ever anything more unjust? Sir Charles Trevelyan himself had been identified with those civil departments; but, stung by their failure, he sought to saddle on the regimental officers the failure of his own department. At this late hour of the night I will not quote; but I hold the evidence in my hand, and I say that, with all the warnings that we receive from hour to hour of the total breakdown of the French military system, not only as a system for resisting a foreign enemy, but as a system for the maintenance of order at home, I deprecate this expenditure of a sum equivalent to £25,000,000 sterling for a purpose which I firmly believe will render the English Army far less popular than it is at present with the English people. In the proposition which is now made to us by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, you see an evidence that the feeling expressed in the Preamble to the Mutiny Act may revive, and that we may again have to contend against objections to a standing Army. The more you adopt the system of selection, the more you render the 531 officer the mere nominee and servant of some military chief, the less popular will that officer become. It has been said that, in the plan proposed by the Government, we are copying the Prussian system. Sir, it is not true. In the same Report to which I have referred you have this evidence—that in the Prussian service, instead of providing for the removal of officers from one corps to another, every single regiment is treated as a unit, and the officers appointed to a regiment must first serve as cadets in it, so that their qualities and disposition may be known to their brother officers after that trial. Are such men appointed officers by mere selection? No; they must be recommended by the colonel of the regiment, and even that is not of itself enough. ["Question!"] Sir, the question before the House is, whether the House is prepared to express the opinion adverse to the maintenance of the Army which is now proposed? ["Question!"] That, I say, is the question. And I am endeavouring to show the House that we are not copying the Prussian system; but that it is the French system, which is the system of organization suggested by Her Majesty's Government. Because, let it be remarked, that the Prussian Army is popular with the country. And why is it popular? Because no officer can be appointed to a regiment unless he has been first tried as a cadet, and when he has been tried as a cadet he has to be received by his brother officers, whose formal consent to his appointment to the regiment is a necessary preliminary. Now, in the purchase system of our own Army you have this to a certain extent. ["Question!"] I am not surprised that the hon. Members opposite should object to my producing facts, which have not before been referred to in the course of these debates. They are awkward facts; they are not to be disposed of by a cry of "Question," and they have never yet been touched upon in debate. No doubt it would be more agreeable for hon. Gentlemen to proceed with the Army Organization Bill, and to ignore these facts; but I feel it to be my duty, whilst prepared to resist the Motion under the consideration of the House, to warn Her Majesty's Government, and to warn this House, that by the system they are sanctioning they will impart a strength to such Motions as the one now 532 made for the reduction of the Army, which hereafter they will find it very difficult to resist. I totally disagree with the proposal made by the hon. Member for Huddersfield. I believe that the convulsed state of France, preliminary as the revolutions in that country in former years have been to foreign aggression, points to the necessity of exercising caution in regard to England. I have no fear of aggression on the part of Germany, for the present at least; she must be pretty well exhausted; but we have had, and may continue to have, serious differences with other great Powers that are not exhausted in warfare. There are great Powers in Europe which may take advantage of existing circumstances. I believe that Her Majesty's Government are thoroughly justified in the increase they propose, and I hope they will not take it in bad part from me when, having felt the force of the appeals which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman their former Colleague against the maintenance of a standing Army, I warn them that by the new system which they are about to adopt they will strengthen the feeling upon which that right hon. Gentleman acted, and render it hereafter more difficult for us on this side of the House to support successive Governments in the maintenance of an adequate force, than we have ever found it before.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 74; Noes 304: Majority 230.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ LORD ELCHO
, who had a Notice on the Paper of a Motion to reduce the number by 10,000 men, said, he would defer proposing his Motion until the Report, which was to be brought up To-morrow. His object was to give 5,000 of the 10,000 men to the artillery, and to add 30,000 men to the Militia Reserve, which might be done for less expense than would be requisite for the maintenance of a very much smaller force of Regular troops.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, it had always been usual to go into detailed criticism on these Estimates, and complained that this Session no opportunity whatever had been afforded of doing so.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) 1,760 Native Indian Troops.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £5,411,900, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Pay, Allowances and other Charges of Her Majesty's Land Forces at Home and Abroad, exclusive of India, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive.
§ MR. RYLANDS
suggested that a Vote should be taken on account, as there were many matters to be discussed in relation to the charge.
§ MR. LEA moved to omit the item of £37,231 estimated for Army agency, which he maintained was part and parcel of the purchase system, and ought therefore to be abolished along with it. He considered the sum one which the country ought not to be called upon to pay, and in support of his opinion quoted the evidence given before the Committee of 1850, by Sir J. Anderson, Sir R. Kirby, and other witnesses. There was no such charge in the Navy Estimates, and he saw no ground for the charge in the case of the Army.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £37,231, for 'Agency,' be omitted from the proposed Vote."'—(Mr. Lea.)
assured his hon. Friend that this subject had not escaped the notice of the Secretary at War. The Accountant General had been desired to inquire into the whole system of the employment of agents in the Army, and his Report was to the effect that there was no reason why arrangements should not be made to economize both time and money by the payment of the men at the War Office. So far as the men were concerned, agency would, therefore, cease. With respect to officers the case was different. Officers, particularly the junior officers, derived considerable benefit from agents. It might, indeed, be asked why the public should pay for that; but it should be recollected that subalterns were badly paid, and that private bankers would certainly not take their accounts. 534 Part of the duties of agents had reference to effecting exchanges and sales, and it would be premature for the Secretary of State to take any action in that direction until the question of the abolition of purchase was finally settled by the House. But the immediate effect of abolition would be to take a very large sum off the Estimate, and eventually to reduce the charge to a very small sum indeed. Sir John Kirkland for a number of years had performed the duties of general agent, receiving a salary of £1,300, and since his death that was discontinued. This year it was excluded from the Estimates. The sum charged therefore had been very largely decreased, and eventually, with the abolition of purchase, it would probably entirely disappear. Of course, it would be improper that gentlemen having large establishments which had been created for the public benefit should be called upon to abolish them at once. With this explanation he hoped the hon. Member would not consider it necessary to press his Motion to a Division.
§ COLONEL NORTH
enumerated the duties of Army agents, and asked whether those duties would be discharged by the War Office. At all events, the agencies ought not to be deprived of their business without due notice.
§ COLONEL NORTH
repeated his question, and insisted upon being told who was to attend to the interests of the orphans and widows of officers, and, if the agents, who was to pay them?
replied that the War Department would undertake the duties of agency for the men without any addition to its staff, and that the interests of officers, of widows, and of orphans would continue, for the present, to be attended to by agents, who would be paid, as heretofore, by a Vote in the Estimates.
§ LORD ELCHO
asked what would be the saving effected on the present Estimate from withdrawing the payment of the men from the agents?
said, the saving effected, including the salary of the general agent, £1,350, would be £10,946.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
wished to know whether he was right in supposing that the Vote was to be reduced gradually until it disappeared?
said, the agents would for the present continue to receive a small sum from the Votes for conducting the business of officers; but it remained with the Secretary for War to say how long that arrangement should continue.
said, he thought the agency system was of great benefit to the officers, and he believed that all officers were quite willing to pay the small tax which was imposed upon them on this account, in order to get the benefit of that system.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 87; Noes 160: Majority 73.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
Mr. Dodson—I rise, Sir, to propose, not a reduction, but an increase of the Army—an increase, however, which will be acceptable even to my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), as it is an increase that will not raise the number of men voted, and that will diminish the charge upon the nation by many thousands of pounds. The proposal, Sir, that I have to make is, that two regiments of decorative cavalry should be converted into the same number of men of useful cavalry of the Line. What the real saving to the country by this step would be I am unable to tell the Committee. On Vote 1 we should save £14,730; on Vote 11 the saving would be £3,120, or £17,850 upon these two Votes alone. But, on a multitude of other items, it is impossible for a private Member to discover the difference of cost between Household Cavalry and cavalry of the Line. Accordingly, Sir, I confine myself to that which I can prove, and move a reduction of this Vote by £14,730. If this reduction be carried, it will involve a reduction of Vote 11. Now, Sir, I will try and show the Committee in what manner I obtain the figures I have used; and first of this Vote. Of the Household Cavalry, in all ranks there are 1,302; 536 of cavalry of the Line 11,065. The "pay and allowances" of the former are £81,054, and of the latter £501,052. This gives £62 5s. per man in the former, and £45 5s. 7d. in the latter, or a difference on this Vote alone of £16 19s. 5d. a man. The clothing of the Household Cavalry costs £10,470, and that of the cavalry of the Line £49,177, which gives £8 0s. 9d. a man for the former, and £4 8s. 10d. for the latter, or a difference of £3 11s. 11d. a man on Vote 11; making a difference on these two Votes together of £20 11s. 4d. per man. I must add that the Blue men cost less than the Red men by several shillings a-piece, so probably the latter are supposed to be the best for decorative purposes. This is a point of æsthetics I must leave to my noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), or to the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. B. Hope). We have, then, on Vote 1, £16 19s. 5d. a man, and on Vote 11, £3 11s. 11d. a man, or £20 11s. 4d. on these two Votes alone; a sum which, multiplied by 868—the number of all ranks in two regiments out of the three—gives £17,852, all but a few shillings, as the saving on these two Votes which would be effected by increasing the Army by two regiments of real cavalry. Now, Sir, a word or two as to the value of the Household Cavalry as they stand. What are they for? Are they troops? are they bodyguard? are they policemen? If they are troops, I deny their value. I will say nothing against heavy cavalry in general, although in the late war heavy cavalry was only used twice against good troops, and on both occasions were destroyed. I refer to the total destruction of M'Mahon's heavy cavalry at Woerth, and the almost complete ruin of the Prussian heavy cavalry at Mars la Tour on the 16th of August last. Still, I will not go into the merits of heavy cavalry, because my contention is that the Household Brigade are bad heavy cavalry, and I appeal to any officer of dragoons whether that is not so. In all the points where they cost more than cavalry of the Line, the extra cost causes loss, not gain. The men are too tall. The accoutrements are too heavy. With modern rifles the regiments would be destroyed before they could execute a charge. They have not been on foreign service since Waterloo—a battle at which 537 they achieved distinction. But at that time they were not composed of such tall and weedy men as at the present day. A gentleman who knew Shaw, the Lifeguard's hero, has assured me that he, for instance, was a man of middle size, who would answer to our dragoon rather than to our guardsman. Their size is bad; their weight is bad; their arms are bad; and it has been justly said that if meant for soldiers they are as "obsolete as men-at-arms." The fact is that they are not picked for soldiers at all. They are picked for ornamental purposes, and for ornament they are good. Well, Sir, if they are not meant for troops, are they meant for guards? If so, I object to their number. One regiment would be ample for any purpose of this nature that can be conceived, and one regiment I would ask the Committee to have. There are no body-guards in Prussia; and under the costly Empire there were but 220 "cent" guards in France. The Household Brigade used to be guards once—in the time of William III., and even of George I.—but they are neither used nor needed now in this capacity. As guards of escort they are little used, for, as is well known, they cannot go the pace, and Lancers or Hussars are generally sent for to escort the Queen. Still, on this point I do not wish to press their total inutility, and I content myself with saying that one regiment is enough. The third ground on which the Household Cavalry are defended is, that they are good police. Well, where is the proof of this? They were employed to take Sir Francis Burdett to the Tower, when no need for their serious services arose. They were called out at the funeral of Queen Caroline, when their commander—I think Sir Thomas Wilson—refused to charge the mob, and so cause loss of life, and was, in consequence, dismissed the service. Their third campaign since Waterloo was on the 10th of April, 1848, when they rode about London behind the Duke of Wellington, and the Chartists did not come; and their fourth, and last, great victory was when they were engaged against Mr. Beales, near the Marble Arch, and were good-humouredly laughed at by the mob. In the old days of the Chartists they were needed in London to put down riots that would now be far better dealt with by our drilled police. They are gentle with 538 the people, it is said; but so are, in general, English troops—as, witness the conduct of the Lancers in Ireland the other day. So, too, are the police. So are all well-disciplined men. But the difficulty of using heavy cavalry against a mob is that they will be nearly useless, or that they must ride down and destroy. As far as great riots are concerned, they would be liable to be cut off when they are placed in the heart of London. If you reduced them by two regiments, the cavalry of the Line, that would replace them, need not be kept in London, if you kept the one regiment in the outskirts. Why not at Greenwich Hospital, as my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) once, I think, proposed? In this way you would gain the most valuable sites in London by the change. We hear talk of destroying Knightsbridge Barracks to put the Guards into a singular habitation—the Penitentiary at Millbank. By all means pull down Knightsbridge Barracks if you will; but to send Household Cavalry once more into the heart of London would be a sad mistake. I beg, Sir, without more ado, to move this reduction with the view, not of reducing the Army, but of increasing it by two regiments, with a saving of £20,000 a-year. I beg, Sir, to move the reduction of Vote 1 by £14,730.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £5,397,170, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Pay, Allowances, and other Charges of Her Majesty's Land Forces at Home and Abroad, exclusive of India, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, there could be no doubt that the lessons of the late campaign were as important in respect of the composition and use of cavalry as in any other respect. The attention of the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief had been especially directed to this subject, with a view of considering what improvement in our cavalry that experience suggested—and in this consideration the Household Cavalry would not be overlooked. The proportion of our cavalry was extremely small, and it was not desirable to reduce it. No doubt great use had been made by the Prussians of light cavalry; but he believed it 539 was the opinion of the Prussian officers that great value also attached to heavy cavalry. The proper course was to review our cavalry, both light and heavy, with the aid of the experience of the late campaign, so soon as the result of that experience should be fully known; and he trusted that whenever again the Household Cavalry should be called upon for active service, they would be found ready and able to render as efficient service as they had rendered at Waterloo.
said, he was sorry to trouble the Committee at that hour of the morning, but he could not allow the speech of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) to pass without reply. He had noticed one peculiarity amongst so-called Army reformers since they had sprung into notoriety, and that was, a great carelessness in their statements, great inaccuracy, often want of knowledge of their subject, and accompanied with great bitterness of expression. He trusted, nay, was sure, he should be able to show the Committee, that in everyone of these qualities, the speech of the hon. Member differed little from the speeches of those sitting immediately around him. In speaking of cavalry, he would suggest to those Gentlemen, whose only knowledge of horses was derived from the hunting field, and the usual uses they were put to in civil life, that they could make no comparison between a troop-horse and a hunter. They did not require the former to go at a great speed for mile after mile, jumping fences, probably the greatest strain that could be put upon the powers of a horse. A troop-horse had to carry a great weight often for many hours, but the speed was seldom beyond a good trot, except on occasions and for a comparatively short distance. The two were not comparable, and, therefore, the only means of instituting a relative test of our cavalry was by comparing it with that of other countries. Take the Prussian cavalry, which was acknowledged to have done such great service in the past war. He confessed he never was more astonished than when the hon. Member asserted that the heavy cavalry had done little in the late war, and though upon occasions they had shown great gallantry, great sacrifices had been the consequence and no great results. Prussian cavalry was essentially heavy; they had no really light cavalry. He would give one or two extracts 540 from newspaper correspondents in the late war—A comparison between the British cavalry and the Prussian is given as follows:—An opinion appears to prevail in England that a Uhlan is a light cavalry man, and that his ubiquity is owing to his lightness. The fact is, the Uhlans are heavy cavalry, coming next in ponderosity to the Cuirassiers. Roughly, the relations between the Prussian and British cavalry may be said to be as follows: the illustration may be useful to professional men:—Prussian Cuirassiers equal our household troops, but with an infusion of slightly shorter men; Uhlans equal to British heavy cavalry, that is, 1st and 2nd Dragoons, and 4th and 5th Dragoon Guards; Prussian Dragoons equal to British intermediate cavalry—namely, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th Dragoon Guards and Enniskillens—and the British Light Cavalry (Hussars and Lancers). The Prussians have no cavalry so light as our distinctively light cavalry regiments.Again, from another paper—The cavalry also was brilliant and solid. I see that, in opposition to the judgment of the best Prussian officers, an opinion has been expressed in certain journals against the employment of heavy cavalry. The heavy horse—Dragoons, Cuirassiers, and Uhlans—have been most useful, in fact, invaluable. Let me here correct a very general error at home. You seem to think that the Uhlan is a small active man on a small wiry horse. The horse may be small, but that is from necessity and not from choice. The Uhlan is a large man, armed with a heavy lance, sword, and side arm, larger upon the average than the men of the 9th Lancers, as I well remember them in India. It was cavalry—heavy cavalry principally—which saved the 18th Corps at Beaune la Rolande, and anyone who reads the despatches of the King and of his generals will see what an important part the cavalry, and generally the heavy cavalry, have played, and play in this campaign," &c.He could give many extracts from papers, of what heavy cavalry had done, but thought it unnecessary. He would now give the comparative weights of Prussian and English cavalry. The former was upon the authority of Count Lehndorff, Master of the Horse to the Emperor of Germany, and the latter taken from an official book at the War Office by Captain Hozier—Prussian Cuirassier, 22 stone 9 lbs; English Cuirassier, 21 stone 13 lbs; Prussian Uhlan, 20 stone 8 lbs; English Dragoon, 19 stone 6 lbs; Prussian Hussar, 19 stone 7 lbs; English Hussar, 19 stone or less.So that in each instance the Prussians were heavier than the English. It had been said that our Household Cavalry never went upon escort, except upon State occasions; nothing could be more absurd or untrue; they constantly did so, and not later than yesterday the 2nd Life Guards formed a travelling escort. 541 It was only in going to and from the train in London that Her Majesty had been pleased to have escorts of the light cavalry, not because the Household Cavalry were unfitted, for surely if they could perform long escorts in the country the short distance in London would not affect them, but because already their work was very severe, and troops whose duties were not so severe were employed. [A laugh.] Hon. Members below the Gangway might laugh. He was glad of it, as it would add force to what he had to say upon that subject. He should come to that laugh presently. If these regiments were so cumbrous, how was it that they went through exactly the same work at Aldershot as other regiments, and in a manner satisfactory to those in high command? Indeed, they were under a great disadvantage; for while, generally, drill-grounds were near barracks in London, their horses had 10 or 12 miles of road, in addition to their drill, and yet they were told that the horses wore better because they had less work. The principal other objection that had been made was on the ground of expense, and it was said that a considerable portion of this was owing to the more conspicuous uniforms. It was plainly shown in the Army Estimates that the expense of the dress of the Household Cavalry, including non-commissioned officers, was £8 15s. per annum, and out of this sum, saddlery and accoutrements had to be found, and repairs of every kind. It was difficult to make out the exact cost of a private in the Line cavalry from the Army Estimates; but he made his clothing and appointments amount to £5 2s. 6d., to which should be added the cost of clothing establishments, share of non-commissioned officers' clothing, saddlery, &c., repairs of all kinds, and recruiting expenses, which he thought would be found to make a total not very far short of the Household Cavalry. There was a great difference in the cost, but it was almost entirely owing to the difference of pay. He calculated that a trooper in the Household Cavalry cost, in clothing, purchase of horses, forage, &c., fuel and light, £35 per annum. His pay at 2s. 0¼d. was £35, and dividing the extra pay, good-conduct pay, non-commissioned officers, officers, and honorary colonel among the troopers, made £30 more per man, or £100 altogether. 542 Taking the cost of a dragoon, clothing, purchase of horses, &c., &c., as taken in other cases, at about £34, his pay at 1s. 5d. per day, amounted to nearly £26; extra pay, non-commissioned officers, officer, and honorary colonel £20, making a total of £80 per man, per annum. Thus, the difference between the two was almost entirely due to extra pay, and he should state, however, that a trooper in the Household Cavalry had to find his kit, amounting to some £5, upon joining, and that living in London was more expensive than in other quarters. What was obtained for this extra pay? He should call to his assistance the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) as his ally; for he that night had shown what soldiers ought not to be, and the change he hoped to effect. In the Household Cavalry crime was very rare, whether military or civil; drunkenness was exceptional, contagious disease in a smaller percentage. He could not give the figures of the three regiments; but they did not differ much. In the regiment in which he had the honour to serve, the average of courts-martial for 10 years was 1 per 1,000 per annum; cases of drunkenness, 2 per cent per annum; and of men suffering from contagious disease the average was 1 per cent always in hospital. The consequence was a larger proportion of men available for duty. Was this no small result to attain? A well-conducted, highly-disciplined body of men who, amidst the great temptations to which they were exposed, seemed to fulfil all the wishes of the hon. Member for Sheffield. He came now to the question of work. There was a laugh when he talked of their being hard-worked. He repeated it. He added that no troops except, perhaps, the Horse Artillery, had anything like the work of the troopers of the Household Cavalry. In London, one night in four, they were on night duty; one horse to clean daily, and every fourth day two horses. Their accoutrements required much more labour. The distance to drill already mentioned. Fatigue duties were heavier in proportion, owing to the smallness of the regiments, and besides all duties, escorts, &c., entailed upon them as Her Majesty's body guard. There was no miracle in the good behaviour of these troops. It was the result of good pay, which procured good men, and hard work and good discipline, to keep them out of 543 mischief. There certainly was the power of discharging bad characters, but it was rarely exercised; and if it was a good principle, it was an excellent reason for extending it to other regiments, not for destroying regiments upon which the effect had been so good. And the House might be sure of one thing, that without fair pay it could not get the best men. The hon. Member had thought fit to criticize in bitter and bantering terms the efficiency of these regiments; but he thought the House would place greater confidence in the opinion of men in the position of Inspectors General, men who had real practical knowledge, and from their high position in their profession would be incapable of giving anything but candid reports. The hon. Member had appealed to the opinion of "the dragoons in this House." These inspecting officers had been officers from the Line cavalry, and he appealed to them. He wished these Reports could be made public; he could only say that year after year Reports had been made highly complimentary to the discipline and efficiency of these regiments. Even the hon. Member for the Border Burghs, in his unreasoning hatred for His Royal Highness Commanding-in-Chief, would not deny his qualifications as a cavalry officer to judge of cavalry. He trusted he should not do wrong in repeating what he said last year to two of these regiments. After testifying to their good condition and good drill, he concluded by saying—"In my opinion you are fit to go anywhere to do any duty you may be called upon to perform. Continue, as for many years past, your course of good military conduct, and you will be, as you have always been, the pride of the service" (these may not be the exact words, but they are very nearly so, and express exactly the sense intended), and then His Royal Highness again repeated his opinion as to the efficiency of the regiments for any duties. This was in August last, a somewhat critical moment. He would now conclude, but for one remark that fell the other night from the hon. Member for the Border Burghs, connecting the Household Cavalry with what he was pleased to call "the revels in Knightsbridge." Nothing could be more unfair than that. During the last 12 months he had, on the majority of nights, been along the street in question at all hours, sometimes early, sometimes 544 late, and during that time he had only seen one trooper the worse for liquor, and very few men in the street at all; and it was well-known, and had often been remarked to him by gentlemen who lived in the neighbourhood, and who did know one soldier from another, that these men did not frequent these public-houses in large numbers, and those that did set an example of decent behaviour. [Mr. TREVELYAN: I never said anything of the sort.] Of course, if the hon. Member denied it, he must apologize; but he certainly thought he made the remark. At all events, it fell from one of those near him. He protested against the unjustifiable attacks that had been made—attacks that could not be substantiated. The credit of a regiment was as dear to its members as the honour of a man should be to him; and it was most damaging to regiments and to the Army at large that hon. Members should cast a slur upon their efficiency and their good name. And he trusted the Committee by its vote that night, would show that these charges had not been in any way made out.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 51; Noes 168: Majority 117.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.