§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
Sir, in moving that the total number of men for the Army for the year 1877–8 shall be 133,720, I shall be as brief as possible in the remarks I have to make on these Estimates generally. Last year it was my duty to propose to the House Votes for considerable sums of money for the purpose of carrying into effect the objects which I then had in view; nor do I think the House has any reason to regret the steps which it then took in acceding to what I requested in deference to the arguments which were used in favour of those measures. No doubt that which has been done for the soldier and the non-commissioned officer has had a beneficial effect, as I think I shall be able to show; but I cannot conceal from myself that the Committee might have apprehended that I should on this occasion come before it with still greater demands than last year in connection with that great question still pending—the question of promotion and retirement among the officers of the Army.
Having done what I could to secure justice to the soldier and non-commissioned Officer I hope the Committee will not think I am neglectful of the interests of the officers, and through them of the Army, in consequence of the delay which has occurred in bringing before it the question of their promotion and retirement. The measures which were taken by the Commission and the long time which they occupied in making their Report have been commented upon very strongly by many persons outside the Service as well as by the officers themselves. Since that Report has been in my possession, however, I have come to a full knowledge of the difficulties and intricacies of the question, and of the necessity of not taking a single step forward without looking fully into the sub- 1390 ject, and guarding oneself against going too far in one direction or another, lest injury might be done to the prospect of individual officers who might be affected by it. The object to be accomplished—a difficult one—so far as the War Office is concerned, is, I believe, near its completion; but there is an amount of work still to be done, the result of which cannot be brought before the House until a later period of the Session, and which may cause further delay. I cannot, however, help, in passing, thanking those at the War Office, and especially the Secretary of the Commission, who, far beyond their ordinary work, have been engaged with me in this business, for their undeviating attention to the subject; and I hope by their further assistance to be able to present such a plan to the House as may eventually effect that object which was promised by my Predecessor—an adequate flew of promotion, securing the additional objects of making the condition of the Army satisfactory and efficient; for I am sure that while promotion is stagnant, and the officers grow old without it, you are keeping the Army in a state which will render it unfit for the purposes it may be called upon to serve. I cannot also help saying that I feel very grateful to the officers of the Army for the patience which they have shown during the long investigation of their rights which has been going on. It cannot be denied that while the Commission was sitting promotion was getting gradually more stagnant, and from the great lapse of time must have been lately more and more felt, because officers have naturally waited to come to a conclusion whether they would retire or not.
Last year the Estimates were, as I have pointed out, considerably increased; but the Committee will observe that there is this year practically no increase. There is rather a diminution, due to a great extent to a change in the form of the Estimates; and this is explained in them so fully, that I feel almost certain I shall give to the Committee less clear statements on the various points than are to be found in the Estimates and in the Papers attached to them, which have been circulated to hon. Members. Last year there were very unusual demands on account of the 1856, or rather 1855, men having completed their 21 years' service, the result of the Crimean War; 1391 and consequently this year there is a sum of £125,000 which comes into the non-Effective Vote, and which adds of course a very serious additional burden. I have, however, endeavoured not to press unduly on the resources of the country; and I am all the more anxious not to do so, because trade, as we all know, is not in the most flourishing condition, and I think that while we are bound to make the Service as efficient as we can, we must also look to the interest of the public, and, if possible, lay no unnecessary charge upon their shoulders. Besides this £125,000 there is a naval demand of £291,343. The Committee will observe on looking at the Paper explaining the variation of numbers that there is a net increase of men this year to the number of 836. That increase is made up partly of a small addition to the Artillery, partly by what may be called a transfer of the Artillery Staff of the Militia, in number to 707, and 87 Staff Officers of Pensioners, neither of which establishments has hitherto been included to the numbers voted; 300 men have also been added to serve at the Cape of Good Hope, but the deductions, on the other hand, will bring the addition really to 836. But, although there is a net increase of men for this year, it is rather a mode of stating the account than a real addition. There is also this year, as hon. Members will perceive, a great change in the mode of stating the Estimates. Last year we had an Estimate from the Treasury of £500,000 for a long arrear, which had been paid into the Treasury for the War Office on behalf of India; but by desire of the Lords of the Treasury, a change is now made in the manner of treating the payments from the Indian Government to meet the recruiting and regular changes for the Forces in India, whereby the amount paid is taken into consideration as a payment in aid of the Army Estimates. A sum of £95,000 is thus added to the gross Army charge which we had not formerly; but that amount is balanced by payments to be made on the part of India which are taken in reduction of the Estimates.
The principal change I have to introduce this year is that which occurs in the Artillery, and that is a change which does not affect the cost very much, but which is made for the benefit of the 1392 Service. The reliefs by brigades have been found to be cumbrous and unsatisfactory, rendering a change necessary in that respect; and there are good reasons why batteries should be the unit, instead of brigades, as being more manageable. The brigades will be reduced in number, and the batteries will belong to larger brigades, but they will only be connected with them practically for the purpose of keeping a record of what is done by each battery. As the batteries will be placed in different districts, they will come under the command of the commanding officer of Artillery of the district, and he will carry out the promotion of non-commissioned officers, except one or two of the higher rank, such as the brigade quarter-master-serjeant and serjeant-major. They are not to be promoted in the same way as hitherto, but in the district, and under the commanding officer of the district instead of the brigade. There will, I believe, be few to dispute that considerable advantage will arise from this change. I do not think it necessary to enter now into the matter, although I am ready, if any hon. Member should wish, to go into the subject later in the evening; but at the same time, I would intimate that the newspapers have given very accurate details respecting it. I have brought the Artillery in at this point, because some alterations have been made which may alter the charge for it, although only to a slight degree.
Having mentioned the Indian payments, I ought not to pass by the other payments that are matter of account, and go into the Treasury. There are, for example, the Colonial payments, which amount to £236,650, and, though not appearing at once, are practically a reduction of the Estimates, and ought so to be considered. In pages 124 and 125 of the Estimates will be found a number of smaller items, which represent money saved and paid into the Treasury, and which, with the contributions from Colonial revenues in aid of military expenditure, make up a sum of £603,500, a larger amount under that item than last year. When hon. Members are testing the Estimates they must take into account how much expenditure is met by repayments into the Treasury and otherwise, and which ought fairly to come in relief of the Army Estimates. If hon. Members and if the country saw all these 1393 items of Indian, Colonial, and other repayments that cause a virtual reduction of the Estimates, they would have a clearer view of the amount of the expenditure for the Army, and it is a matter for consideration some day whether all these items may not at once be taken into account as reductions, so as to show what is the real expenditure. Such a course will be far better than the existing one, because the country will then understand the real expenditure more easily than they do at the present.
Last year I promised to make inquiry into an item which had puzzled many hon. Members—perhaps, even many generations of hon. Members before them—namely, the "Stock Purse Fund." It was an item brought into the account as payments to the companies of the Guards at the rate of £158 to each company. This year, without my attempting to set it in order, in the sense of making any alteration in the amount of money, I have set it out in the Estimates, according to the items to which it is really applied. In page 16 of the Estimates hon. Members will find opposite the Foot Guards and Royal Engineers the words—"Extra pay to Officers of the Foot Guards and Royal Engineers." The extra pay to the latter is £37,000, and for the Foot Guards, £6,906, making a total in this column of £43,906. In page 17 will be found another item of £8,900, £918 of which is for Regimental Temporary Clerks, which is also from the Stock Purse Fund. The other item is for hospital and prison stoppages. Whether this fund may not require further alteration I will not say; but the items are in the Estimates for the first time attached to the particular persons to whom they are payable, and the Committee therefore can at once see how they are dealt with.
The subject of recruiting is interesting, and I now go back to what was done last year. At that time, the House was good enough on my recommendation to increase the pay of the Army by deferred pay, and to increase the pay of the non-commissioned officers by a ready money payment, and when I come to state a few facts with regard to recruiting, although the Committee may attribute the success of our recruiting to other causes, yet they will be inclined to think that what was done last year has very materially affected it, seeing that last year the recruits amounted 1394 to the very large number of 29,370. At the same time do not let hon. Members suppose, as perhaps many of them will, that these recruits were taken away from the Militia, for such is really not the case. The recruiting for the Militia amounted to the number of 38,437 men. That makes close upon 70,000 recruits in 1876 for your Regular Forces and Militia, the most extraordinary number raised since 1858, and larger than the number raised during the Indian Mutiny. I know it will, if it has not already been said that in order to obtain these great numbers we have had to adopt special means, means which plainly indicated that we were at a loss for recruits at a certain period of the year, and I admit that up to the month of Juno last year the Army was declining in number. In June, however, the public, for the first time, became acquainted with the new terms offered to recruits, and the Army began to increase. That increase was very gradual, amounting in the first month to only 84; but by the time we had got to the end of the year the recruits were coming in at the rate of 800 or 900 a-week, and the Return shows that the increase was not confined to last year. I have not been enable to obtain a Return up to February, but the Return up to the end of January shows that the number of recruits in that month was 4,046, or pretty near 1,000 a-week. It is a very remarkable thing in the circumstances that so large a number of recruits should be obtained, not by continuing pressure as before, because we have been gradually going back to our old conditions; and the result is, that whereas upon no previous occasion has the Army been up to its Establishment—never, I believe, but in almost all instances when the Estimates have been introduced, it has been discounted upon the supposition that it would be 1,000 or 1,300 below the proper number—this year, at the end of January, the Army consisted of 1,857 men above the Establishment. From having had my attention called to the fact, I thereupon took advantage of the occasion to recommend that men should be passed into the Reserve rather more rapidly than had before been possible, because it would have been simple madness to stop recruiting when it was going on so satisfactorily. It was better to keep on with the recruiting and to 1395 increase the Reserves, and I hope that is a policy which the Committee will approve. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) has called attention to this subject by a Question which I am sorry I was unable to answer. He wishes to have certain information about the height and age of recruits. About 1,400 different Returns have to be consulted in order to obtain the facts he desires to have. It would take a man several days, if he worked for seven hours a-day, and therefore the Return cannot be obtained immediately. I hope, however, to give the hon. Member the information he requires before long, as soon as I can possibly obtain it. I may, however, say that, generally speaking, there are no complaints whatever of the recruits who have come in. I hope hon. Members have seen those who have been recruited in London, because I believe they have been men of a good stamp and character. I have asked whether they have been in any way dissipated men, or men out of work, and have been assured that the majority have been men in work when they enlisted. It has not, therefore, been poverty that has dragged them into the Army, and although we reduced the height of our recruits, yet a comparison of our height of 5ft. 4½in. for the English Army is satisfactory on the whole, and bears a favourable relation to the armies of the other countries of Europe. The age is not upon the whole greater, because although it was for a time increased to 30, yet only an inconsiderable number reached that age, and indeed a very small number over 25 years of age enlisted. The number of desertions still remains rather high; yet, although it is large, it is not excessive in proportion to the number of recruits. If the general annual Return of the British Army is consulted, it will be seen that the majority of desertions occur early after enlistment, and when you have a large number of recruits you may expect a large number of early desertions. A considerable number of men who deserted last year, amounting to 2,063, were recovered, so that deducting these from the number who deserted, 4,878, the net loss on the year was not more than 2,815. I believe it will be found that desertions are peculiarly lively at certain periods of the year, especially at Christmas, and in many of these cases desertion does not 1396 appear to be so serious a crime as at other periods. A man, for example, who goes home on furlough at Christmas to see his friends, over-stays his time, and is returned as a deserter. Last January the number of men who deserted was returned at 508, which was a very large proportion, and if it had continued throughout the year it would be alarming. A large number of these men, however, come back and thus considerably reduce the net amount of desertion, and I do not think, looking at the amount of the desertions of last year altogether, it is so exceptional as to call for any remarks additional to those made in former years.
The deferred pay, having been in operation only six months, has not had time to prove whether the fact of having a little money due to them is an inducement to men not to desert. You will find, even under ordinary circumstances, that desertion is not so much in the later period of the service as it is in the earlier part, and when men begin to understand that they are forfeiting that which they have really earned, the deferred pay due to them for services performed, they will be more inclined to discontinue the practice of desertion. It will not be worth a man's while to risk the less of that by selling his kit for what he can get for it. Further, an unpleasant part of Army management is the expulsion of bad men, and the number is large; but I suppose that no one would wish them to be kept, and, however large the number may be, I hope they will always be expelled from the Army.
This year it is not my intention to ask the House for any grant for Autumn Manœuvres; and there are other reasons besides the economical one. The Army may very well have one year of quiet, and on the whole there is no occasion for Manœuvres this year. More particularly in relation to the question of re-organizing the Artillery, there is need for a quiet time. We called out two Army Corps last year, and a great deal of criticism—and I think not unjust criticism—has been expended on what was done. It has been said there was a want of transport and a great want of artillery, engineers, and so on. When I first mentioned the eight Army Corps I said that it was never intended to fill up those that were low down in the list, but that our aim was simply to 1397 have a nucleus to which we might attach engineers or artillery as we might require them. The divisions we are making of artillery will, I hope, enable us to spread it out more freely among the Army Corps than before. I cannot help saying I think that what was done—call it mobilization or what you please—was of the greatest possible benefit; in fact, it had two most distinct benefits. Some hon. Members thought we were guilty of an absurdity in bringing regiments over from Scotland and Ireland; but I believe it did them the greatest possible good. It showed them something of this country, to which many of them were entire strangers; they were well treated and greatly admired, as some of the Scotch and Irish regiments deserved to be, for they were as fine a set of men as could be seen anywhere; they were in good order and little complained of as regarded discipline; and they bore well the fatigue of long marches and other difficulties to which they were subjected. I saw some of them at Aldershot on one of the hottest of mornings, and, although they had undergone great fatigue, they did not lose a moment in setting to work in making things comfortable, and they rivalled the Regulars in the readiness with which they did it. Another great object was served; it had been said our Army Reserve would never appear; the experiment was made, and it did appear in a form which gave the greatest satisfaction. A number of military men who went down to Aldershot to see the Army Reserve were not disappointed, but highly satisfied with them. They saw 3,000 as fine, hardy, and warlike men as could be found, as many as we were entitled to expect under the circumstances, many of whom had been trained in battle, and, wearing their medals, they exhibited the true character of soldiers. I was very much struck with them indeed, and I was glad to find that what I thought was confirmed by the experienced officers to whom I spoke on the subject; and those who were in command highly praised the conduct of the men who had been summoned so suddenly from civil employments and brought into the middle of a camp with all its strictness and discipline. If ever these men are called upon to occupy the ranks in a time of war, this result will be gained—that we shall have the very 1398 best old soldiers brought into combination with the youngest recruits. No fault was to be found with them as a body; there was hardly a case in which a Reserve man was brought into any trouble; and there is every reason to be thankful for the promise held out to us. On the 1st of January this year there were 6,062 men of the First Class Reserve, and there are to come this year nominally I think about 5,000—probably it will not be quite so many, as some of the men who will complete their period will be in India or the Colonies; and if, considering all circumstances, we get 3,000, that will be as many as we are entitled to expect. Therefore, the demands upon recruiting this year might seem to be not so large as last, because anybody who will look at the enormous demands made last year, in consequence of the retirement of the 21-years' men, will see that there will not be so many again. In fact the number that left the Army from different causes last year was no less than 26,154—an enormous gap to fill. The Committee will remember that the year before we had only 17,000 recruits, and it will see that if we had not taken some steps last year to meet the increasing demand, we should have been involved in very serious difficulty. But last year we got a net gain of 6,000 by recruiting and returns from desertion, and that accounts for the condition of the Army in January this year. Of the 5,000 men who would naturally go this year, 2,018 are at home, 1,213 in the Colonies, and 2,200 in India, and these figures are the basis of my apprehensions as to the Reserve of this year. That is the reason why, looking at the division, I cannot but apprehend that there will be a loss upon those in the Colonies and in India, so that we may not gain them all for the Reserve. We hope, however, as recruiting goes on, we may in other ways, supply an additional force for the Reserves.
Now I come to a question which is perhaps not altogether appropriate to the Estimates — namely, the Brigade Depots. These Brigade Depots are going on rapidly. Forty Brigade Depôts have been formed up to date — four during last year, and another is in course of formation at Warwick. It is hoped that 14 more may be formed in the course of the present year, as many of the new barracks are in a very forward 1399 state. This will leave only 15 to be formed after the close of the present year, and the delay in these cases has arisen mainly from difficulties in obtaining sites. This has now been surmounted, except in the case of Downpatrick, where, however, the plans are in progress, and an agreement has been made to purchase the land if a sufficient water supply can be secured. With respect to the northern tactical station, near York, the store depôts are to be on Strensall Common, about six miles from that city, and considerable progress has been made in the purchase of the land. Though it does not affect the present Estimates, I may inform the Committee that the expenditure, up to the 31st of December, 1876, was £1,487,000, and the expenditure anticipated during the present quarter is £323,800; the total liabilities incurred up to the present time being £2,870,000. I am glad to add that, as far as can be seen, the whole sum voted, though required, will not be exceeded. With regard to the Report placed in the hands of hon. Members this morning, respecting the Militia and Brigade Depots, I may say that, as to all questions affecting the Line, no steps have been taken; but certain things have been done with reference to the Militia. Owing to the regretted illness of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, many questions affecting the Line could not be gone into. Though some of the Brigade Depots are not well placed for recruiting, I cannot help thinking they will materially increase the number of recruits.
And now, I wish to say a few words on the subject of education. The House has been good enough to find funds for improving the education at Sandhurst and Woolwich; and those places are now put in a better position than they have occupied before. Sandhurst is just beginning the new system. The men who have passed for the Army go there as cadets without commissions, and at the end of the year, if they pass the military examination, they will obtain a commission. With respect to the schools for the children of soldiers, I have directed that wherever possible the children should be sent to the ordinary public elementary school. It is far better that they should mix with the general population than that they should be treated as an exceptional class. In this 1400 way we shall break down that separation from the civil population which is too strongly pronounced in many instances.
With respect to the Militia and the recruiting for it, I wish to go into the matter in some detail, and show what has been done in conformity with the Report I mentioned just now. I may say generally that I have given my approval to the recommendations of that Committee as regards the Militia. Adjutants of Militia will receive their actual travelling expenses, and this, I may remark, is one of the points which has been in dispute. In addition to that they are to receive 2s. 6d. head money for each recruit. The object of this is to induce them to take an interest, which hitherto they have somewhat lacked, in the work of recruiting. Again, recruiting had been left very much in the hands of the non-commissioned officers, and it had been recommended that the men should be allowed to obtain recruits. This recommendation will be adopted, but at the same time it is intended to compensate the permanent Staff by an enrolment allowance not exceeding 2s. 6d. for each recruit. This payment, however, is not to be made unless the recruit is really made available. That is to say, it is not to be given in the way the fee is given at present, where, perhaps, the man never appears at all. The men themselves are to receive 10s. on enrolment and £1 bounty for each year of their training. There has been a good deal of bickering and dispute about the alteration made from five years to six without any increase of pay, which it is hoped this change will remove. Six years will remain the term of enrolment as at present. Then it is desirable to encourage re-enrolment, because men who have been trained are better and cheaper than recruited men. Moreover, they are old men who do not desert, and we may rely upon them. Perhaps the hon. Member for Hackney will be gratified at learning that the re-enrolment will not interfere with Line recruiting, because the men who are enrolled will have previously shown their preference for the Militia. We propose that a man may enrol for four years, but he must complete his first term before he commences the second. He is to receive £1 10s. on re-enrolment, and £1 10s. bounty for each year's 1401 drill. Henceforward, too, discharges for Army Service will be given on somewhat easier terms than they are at present. Again, it is desirable that better arrangements should be made for musketry instruction. Each battalion is to have its permanent Staff. Before they were to be taken from the Brigade Depot; but now we have reversed the order. The Militia battalion will have its perfect Staff, and when it is not in training the Militia Staff will be practising at the Brigade Depôt. It is obvious that if the Militia were called into active service, and had not a perfect Staff of its own, great difficulty would arise. There was a proposal made by the Committee, which I think has a good deal of force in it, and which, at all events, I will submit to those now present. It is that Militia officers should be brought under the provisions of the Mutiny Act generally, and not merely at the period of training. This, however, is one of the points which may properly arise on the Mutiny Bill, and therefore I will not dwell upon it further now. There is one question which is a very serious one, and on which I hope I may have the assent of the Committee. The Committee will remember that in order to connect more completely the Militia and the Line, a proposal was made some years back that while the Lords Lieutenant appointed to first commissions it should be in the power of Colonels of Militia regiments to give commissions from the Militia regiments into the Line. They do this on a roster. A large Militia regiment gets, perhaps, two commissions in a-year; other regiments will get one a-year; and others, again, one in two years, according to the number of companies in the Militia. I confess I am not satisfied with the working of that system. The consequence of it is that there grows up a system of promises and engagements in respect to young men which, I think, is very detrimental. Instead of their taking their training entirely in the regiment of Militia for which they are nominated, it constantly happens that they are moved into a regiment simply for the purpose of being nominated to com. missions in the Line upon a particular occasion, and when I find that this matter is beginning seriously to attract the notice of so-called Army agents, I think it is time for me to interfere and make a 1402 proposition on the subject. I am not going to take away from the Lords Lieutenant the nomination to first commissions in the Militia, nor am I going to take away any commissions in the Line from the Militia. But I propose that those who qualify themselves in the Militia for those commissions should compete for them, not as under the Civil Service Commissioners, but as men do by going to Sandhurst. It seems unfair and unreasonable that a Militia commission should qualify a man for a commission in the Army, whereas other candidates for Army commissions are obliged to go to Sandhurst for a year. I think my proposal will induce young men to train themselves thoroughly in military subjects during these two years, so that they may be able to compete for commissions in the Army. It will, at all events, relieve the system from the suspicion of jobbery. I may say also that the proposed plan will give to regiments of Militia which are well-trained a better opportunity for getting their officers into the Army than they have at present, because now a Militia regiment gives commissions, not according to its goodness, but according to its size.
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
wished to know whether the candidates for commissions in the Line would be required to go to Sandhurst?
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
No. They do not go to Sandhurst now. The very object I have in view is that these young men should take the Militia as a military training, as it was meant to be, and in connection with the Army. They will have everything to induce them to make it a school; and if they do so, they will put themselves in the same position as those who go to Sandhurst put themselves into by their year's training there. The competition, I may here mention, will be central. I am not prepared to make this change without notice. Many young men are on the verge of being nominated for these commissions, and have got such an interest in them that I should think it unfair and unreasonable to interfere at once with a system which has been sanctioned by my Predecessors in office and by the House of Commons. Therefore, I propose that the new scheme should not come into force until after the end of the year 1878. Thus the next two years' training will be over before we begin 1403 the new system. I shall issue Regulations on the subject, and of course the matter will be left open for discussion, if anybody should take exception to what I propose to do.
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
Will the examination in question be open to all sub-lieutenants of Militia, or only to those who are nominated to commissions in the Line?
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
There will be only this nomination—he must have the recommendation of good character from his commanding officer; but I do not think any young man, if he obtain such recommendation, ought to be excluded.
And now I come to the Volunteers. This year there is an increase of the capitation payment, but it is an increase which, I am sure, will not be grudged by the Committee, seeing that it is solely on account of the greater number of efficient Volunteers. I cannot help alluding to what all hon. Members, who availed themselves of the opportunity of witnessing it, must be aware of—namely, the loyalty and efficiency of the Volunteers who came to London last year. I must say they made a display which was very gratifying to my feelings who sanctioned the Review, and, I am sure, also to the feelings of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who reviewed them.
The subject I wish next to touch upon is one which has been very troublesome ever since I have been in the office I now hold, and which I fear will continue as long as medical men exist. When I came into office I found that steps had been taken for establishing what was called the Staff system of the Medical Service, instead of what was called the regimental system. Changes had been made under a Royal Warrant issued at the suggestion of my Predecessor in 1873, and there was, no doubt, a great deal of discontent and dissatisfaction when I came into office. From the first moment I arrived there I received deputations and was battered by memorials in a way in which, no doubt, all my Successors will be. But I can assure the medical men, whether they be in the Army or outside it, that I have done my best to arrive at a knowledge of their grievances, and, if possible, to meet them. There was, however, a division of opinion among medical men as 1404 to the relative benefits of the regimental system and the Staff system; and, moreover, a sort of half-and-half system also existed, though the attempt to combine the two was not satisfactory. That is to say, there was a plan of attaching a man to a regiment for five years; but all kinds of qualifications were introduced which did not put him on the old regimental footing. After looking carefully into the subject, I came to the conclusion—I think rightly—that that which everybody admits to be the proper arrangement and regulation in time of war should also be the regulation and arrangement in time of peace. That is, I accepted the unification system. What was the case on the regimental plan? A small Cavalry regiment might have two medical men, although perhaps the regiment might have no need of a doctor. Consequently the time and the skill of these medical men were wasted. The present system now laid down is one in which there is a real medical school, in the shape of station hospitals, in which there are the best instruments, the best appliances, and, I hope, the best medical men. In addition, there is a training to teach how the hospitals must be managed, in war. It would be impossible to have only a system of regimental hospitals. You must have these general hospitals, and take medical men where they are most wanted for the efficiency of the Service. That is the principle of what is called unification. The health of the Army at home and abroad was very good last year, in spite of—I will not say the doctors—but the arrangement to which they may have objected, and I believe that at this moment the health of the Army is very satisfactory, except upon certain points which sometimes give us painful discussions in this House. That being so, it seems to me unreasonable to call upon me to re-consider the subject, when a re-arrangement was only made on the 12th of last July. There has really been no time for trial, for the men who have just passed their examination will not be attached to the Army before August next. It is only reasonable when a new system has been adopted that you should give it a fair trial, to see, first, whether, under it, medical men will enter the Service in sufficient numbers; secondly, whether it works 1405 well in practice; and, lastly, whether any such grievance exists as requires alteration. Until there has been experience on these points, we must go on as we are. Meanwhile, I may say that very great boons have been conferred on medical men. They are promoted three years earlier than they asked for—namely, in 12 instead of in 15 years, because they are put upon the same footing as medical men in the Indian Service; and though I know that medical men, like other men, would wish to remain on full pay as long as possible, some system of retirement is necessary in the interests of the younger men, and with a view to secure a proper scale of promotion, and I do not think that the existing plan of retirement can be complained of by those who benefit by it. I adhere, therefore, to the unification system, and I hope the Committee will adhere to it, till it has undergone a much longer test, because I am told that it is answering well, and it appears satisfactory to the heads of the Department, who are in constant communication with members of the administrative and executive body. Something has been said respecting the employment of civil practitioners. No doubt, in some instances, it is thought advisable to employ civil practitioners, because at stations where there is only a very small detachment it would be absurd to place a military medical man there, and a civilian on the spot often likes to add to his fees and to his experience by such employment as we can give him, in taking charge of a detachment.
As to the Yeomanry, I have nothing to say, and I now come to the question of Supplies, which are this year of an ordinary character. I am sorry to say that prices are still pretty high, though not quite so high as to forage as they were in former years. I have a word to say explanatory of the charge for clothing. In the Supplementary Estimate there is a considerable demand for clothing, for last year a sum of £200,000 was laid out beyond what was taken in the Estimates. In considering the position of the Army, I have always thought it important you should have in store clothing sufficient, at all events, for a Corps d'Armée of 30,000 or 36,000 men, and that we should be able to equip them at very short notice. I found our stores were in fairly good order, 1406 but with respect to clothing no provision was made for Reserves. Now, there were considerable Reserves to be added this year; and it was also desirable to be in a position to equip at short notice a considerable Force. It so happened that last autumn there was a considerable fall in the price of wool and the time otherwise seemed opportune. I therefore ordered the Director of Clothing to lay in a store for the purpose I had mentioned, so as to be able to provide boots, great coats, and materials of clothing. At the same time, I had not thought it right to use the whole of that £200,000, but there is a reserve of £150,000, and £45,000 will come in aid of the present year's Estimates. The amount taken under this head for 1877–8 is £805,587, against £800,587 for 1876–7. There is thus an increase in the present year of £5,000; but the amount paid into the Exchequer this year from the sale of Militia clothing will be £10,000 more than in the former year, and therefore, practically, the Estimates are £5,000 less arising from the sale of this clothing, which is now the property of the country. The £10,000 thus paid into the Exchequer reduces the Estimates, though it does not appear to do so. The additional number of men this year accounts for £5,000; the biennial issue for the Militia, £35,000; necessaries for the additional number of recruits, £20,000; and improved infantry haversacks, £5,000—total, £65,000. In aid of these somewhat exceptional demands I take £45,000 from the Supplementary Supply we have already got.
As to stores, there is not so much going on this year in guns, because there is not the same necessity; but at the conclusion of 1877-8 we shall have for the armaments of the forts and batteries 102 38-ton guns, 5 35-ton guns, 71 25-ton guns, and 243 18-ton guns. We have lent to India 30,000 Martini-Henry rifles which have to be returned, and at April 1, 1877, we shall have in hand 215,000 Martini-Henry's, and on April 1, 1878, 245,000 in store. All the infantry regiments and the Royal Marines are now armed with this weapon. Arrangements have been completed by which we shall also have 150,000 long bayonets with scabbards for the Martini-Henry rifles. An experiment is going on with Martini-Henry carbines for the 1407 cavalry, and if these are approved, we shall have 35,000 of these arms in store by April 1878. With respect to the experiments with the 81-ton gun, the newspapers have given such full details that I need hardly add to them. I may say, however, that the gun has been fired 168 times. Being the first of its species it has been much more hardly used than subsequent guns will be. Every sort of experiment has been tried upon it, and if there had been any failure it would have shown itself; but the gun seems to have succeeded beyond all expectation, and, though there is a slight crack, not the least doubt is felt as to the safety of the old tube, for the flaw does not appear to have expanded in the least. The four guns of this size ordered for the Inflexible are nearly completed and will be quite up to the power expected from them.
Respecting the Works I have little to say. As to Knightsbridge Barracks, in the Estimate for which there is an increase, we originally intended to preserve the old officers' quarters, but when they were examined it was found that it would be throwing away money to repair them, and it was decided that they should be taken down, and a change made in the new site. The riding school will be moved to a site next to that upon which the men's barracks and stables are. The future quarters of the officers will be placed where the present riding school is, and thus you will have the whole machinery for training the men close together, and the riding school between the men and the officers. The contract has been taken, and I am glad to know that we can thoroughly rely on the contractor who made the most advantageous offer, Mr. Shaw. In a few days he will be in possession of the site, if he is not already. Having had three votes of this House in favour of the old site I have never changed my mind on the subject, and propose to build the barracks as was originally contemplated. If hon. Members desire to see the plan which is proposed for the officers' quarters, I shall be happy to place it in the Library. I think it is one which will do no discredit to the place, and that it will be quite as æsthetic as many of the houses which are put up in the locality.
I shall be glad to answer any questions which hon. Gentlemen may wish 1408 to put. At an early period, I am afraid I shall have to call attention to other subjects, including the great question of promotion and retirement, because that is not a matter which will bear long delay. I am most anxious that it should be pressed forward. With respect to the general subject of the Army, I think the House may be satisfied that though there may be much fault to be found with many things, on the whole, it is an improving Army; it is improving in numbers, and we are getting recruits in a way which I confess I did not anticipate last year. I thought it right at that time to go to expense in order to fill up the deficiencies which I expected, but I did not think that they would come in in such numbers as to bring the Army beyond its establishment. The Committee will be pleased to hear that recruits are coming into the Army in such numbers as I believe will enable us to fill up our Reserves more expeditiously, and when our Reserves are filled then it will be time to deal with the cadres of our Army. But, for the present, we must rely upon our regular forces, because we have not sufficient Reserves, and cannot go into any question of reduction. For my own part, I believe that the Army is contented, that the men see the advantages which the Army gives them, and that they are beginning to appreciate them more fully. I hope that such justice will be dealt out to the officers as will show that they are not forgotten in the re-construction of our Army, and I am sure, from what I know, that neither officers nor men—whether in these piping times of peace, in their ordinary duties, or whether they may be called to serve in the dangers and glories of war—will be found wanting. The right hon. Gentleman concluded with the formal Motion that the Land Forces be composed of 133,720 men.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding '133,720, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and for Depots for the training of Recruits for Service at Home and Abroad, including Her Majesty's Indian Possessions, from the 1st day of April 1877 to the;31st day of March 1878, inclusive.
§ CAPTAIN O'BEIRNE
wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, that his explanation of his scheme for the promotion and retirement of officers of the Army would not be received with the satisfaction which the right hon. Gentleman evidently anticipated. It was, therefore, most urgent that some time should be definitely fixed when this scheme for retirement might be brought forward for the consideration of the House. The officers who had purchased their commissions still constituted by far the largest majority of the officers of the Army; and it was, therefore, a matter of extreme necessity that these grievances should be settled at once, for it was a fact which had not been sufficiently impressed upon the attention of the House that these officers had been actually performing all the duties appertaining to the different ranks which they held in the Army without receiving a single shilling of remuneration from the State. These officers had, by the Act for the abolition of the Purchase system, been guaranteed the capitalized value of their commissions; whereas the pay they were actually receiving was not—if the taxes and Government charges of every description were deducted—equivalent to 3½ per cent interest for the capital which they had invested in the purchase of their commissions. At the same time, those officers who had entered the Army since the abolition of the Purchase system were receiving exactly the same pay in their respective ranks without having been obliged to invest a shilling in the purchase of their commissions. There was thus an obvious and unfair inequality between the two classes of officers — those who had purchased their commissions under the old system, and those who entered the Army since its abolition. The former had an undoubted grievance, and as he was convinced that the scheme which had just been explained by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would completely fail to satisfy their just expectations, the question of retirement was one which ought to be settled without the delay of a single moment. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that the question was one of considerable importance. The officers who had purchased their com- 1410 missions felt that they were not being justly treated in comparison with their brother officers, who had recently entered the Army, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would give his immediate and earnest attention to the matter.
§ SIR WALTER BARTTELOT
said, he thought they might fairly congratulate his right hon. Friend upon the satisfactory statement he had made, and especially with reference to the success he had had in recruiting for the Army. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might make remarks in a different sense, and might say that the standard had been reduced; but it was a great thing in this country that we should have enlisted no fewer than 30,000 men, and, including the Militia, a total of nearly 70,000 in one year. It was said that no man ought to be taken under 20 years of acre but unless we recruited between 17 and 20 we should be far less likely to get the number we required. When we had short service we must take young men, who were likely to be more amenable to discipline, which was a thing of the utmost importance. He wished to know whether he was correct in supposing that his right hon. Friend proposed a reduction in the number of years to be served with the colours, and an increase in the number in the Reserve when the recruiting was in excess of the requirements of the Army? For his own part, he thought it required six years to make a man not only efficient, but thoroughly disciplined, without which he would be of little use to the country. No doubt deferred pay had had something to do with the large increase in recruiting, but more especially the extra pay to non-commissioned officers; but, while congratulating his right hon. Friend upon the result, he was bound also to congratulate the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), as the representative of Lord Cardwell, who had introduced the present short service system, for if the system worked well, some credit must be given to those who had introduced it. It appeared from a Return which he held in his hand that while 5,501 recruits had entered for long service, 23,869 had entered for short service, which showed that short service was popular. He was glad to hear that his right hon. Friend and those who went 1411 down to see the Reserves at Aldershot were pleased with the 3,000 men they saw; but if the Reserves increased we should want to know we had got them, and that they would turn out when occasion required. Every man in the Reserves ought to appear, properly armed, accoutred, and dressed, if it were only for two or three days, that it might be seen that he would be forthcoming and was up to his work. Otherwise, in a case of emergency, if 400 or 500 men were wanted to make up the strength in each regiment, something would occur which could only be likened to what had happened at the time of the Crimean War. As to desertions, all knew how difficult it was to deal with the question. He suggested last year that deserters should be placed under some surveillance; but there was a class of deserters which ought to be dealt with more severely—namely, those who deserted systematically, who sold their kits and passed from one regiment to another. There was another point for which his right hon. Friend deserved great credit. Two or three years ago he brought to his right hon. Friend's notice the question of appointments from the Militia to the Army, and since then his right hon. Friend had been gradually making alterations. It was a most unfair thing that of two men, one who had failed in passing an examination, but had afterwards passed from the Militia into the Line, should be put over the head of a man who went into the Line after a successful examination. He understood that his right hon. Friend now proposed to make the Militiaman pass a military examination, something like the Sandhurst one, before he would be taken into the Line. He (Sir Walter Barttelot) had had several cases of grievance brought to his notice about the two years' expected regimental antedate. There was some misunderstanding on the point, and a strong feeling existed at Sandhurst in regard to it. The grievance complained of by the Sandhurst men was that they did not get the regimental ante-date which they considered they ought to have, as that was the understanding on which they entered Sandhurst. He was glad to find that now they were to be cadets at Sandhurst, and not sub-lieutenants, and were to remain the two terms. It had been very much against young men going to 1412 Woolwich, who were obliged to remain there five terms. Even now, he thought, something should be done for the Woolwich cadets to place them on a more even footing with the cadets at Sandhurst. He would not go further; but he must congratulate his right hon. Friend on having now made Sandhurst into a College which was to be to the rest of the Army that which Woolwich was to the Artillery and Engineers. With regard to that much-vexed question of medical officers, the great grievance was that those officers felt they had no longer the same position they possessed before, being excluded from all the privileges and benefits of the regimental system. They did not say the present unification system, having been commenced, should be altered at once, or that it should not have a fair trial; but they said it would be sure to fail, and would not bring into the Army that class of medical men who were required. This subject deserved to be fairly considered, for it would be a terrible thing for the Army if they did not get proper medical men to enter the Service. One word more and he had done. His right hon. Friend said he did not intend to call out any Army Corps this year. He (Sir Walter Barttelot) did not say he was sorry for it; but he hoped we should in future have one or two Army Corps called out for practice. It was only in that way they could test the general officers who were to be placed at their head—whether they were fit to command. He hoped they would not appoint old men, but young men—men in their prime, such men as would be employed should the necessity arise, and that they would never again employ all those who in time of peace were not able to handle men, for those who could not handle men in time of peace would certainly not be able to handle them in time of war.
§ COLONEL MURE
said, he was sure he expressed the general feeling of satisfaction which was felt at the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had grappled with the difficult subject of recruiting. Two years ago he (Colonel Mure) spoke strongly on that subject. They were obliged to enlist very young recruits, younger than in any other Service. The right hon. Gentleman must therefore look to the Reserve. Notwithstanding the comparative success 1413 which had attended recruiting lately, and the fact that the ranks were, as to numbers, complete, he strongly urged that the efforts of our recruiting party should in no way be relaxed; but, on the contrary, while trade was bad every exertion should be made, while keeping up the strength of the colours, to pass men into the Reserve; but, when the Reserve was full, the next thing was to make it an established fact in the country and not a sham. He very much regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had omitted to provide for the calling out of that body. Most of them were called out last year, but there were some 1,400 of the First Class Reserve in the northern district who had never been called out at all. In time of war or pressure we had to trust to our Reserves, and to make the Reserve an established fact, it was necessary that the Reserves should be called out once every three or four years. He did not mean that the same men should be called out every year, but that some portion should be called out in different parts of the country every year—in the south one year, in the north the next, and afterwards in the east and west. In that way they would establish the character of the Reserve in a far more satisfactory manner than at present. Ho understood the reason the Reserve was not called out was on account of the cost, and that the same reason influenced the right hon. Gentleman in determining not to have any Autumn Manœuvres. Now, he thought that the Report of the Inspector General on Recruiting suggested a means by which a saving might be made, which could be made applicable to the expense of bringing out of the Reserve every year in the way ho suggested, and by doing so making that Body highly efficient for all purposes. Sir Lintorn Simmons had stated that our system was a most expensive one, and that our recruits under 21 years of age in the Cavalry cost £236 per man, and those in the Infantry £121. They knew pretty well the class of recruits they got. In London they always got good recruits, better than anywhere else, but in other recruiting districts we enlisted very inferior lads. There was not the remotest doubt there were in the ranks a certain number of men who were not fit to be soldiers, and never would be. Ho was willing to admit that he now understood the difficulty that existed 1414 better than formerly. He could no longer condemn in an almost angry tone Lord Cardwell's scheme. He saw some wisdom in that scheme, and that under the able direction of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, it was gradually assuming a regular pyramidal shape, and the result in time would be admirable. But nevertheless he still must recommend, as he had done on former occasions, that every six months or every year, seeing that they were enlisting a great number of youthful and infirm recruits, a special medical examination and report should be made, and every man found wanting in physical fitness should be dismissed. If we saved the pay of these men we should have money for the purpose of encouraging better recruiting. By the Return of 1874 it appeared that 5,782 men between 18 and 19 years of age were enlisted. A man under the age of 20 years was not fit for service in a hot climate. These recruits we had, in fact, to rear for two years to make them fit for service. Putting the cost of a recruit at £50 a-year, his cost for two years would be £100, and multiplying £100 by 5,782, we found that we had to expend £578,200 to make these 5,782 recruits fit for work He thought some means might be devised by which the expenditure for the rearing of men would be stopped and better and fewer men be enlisted. He had often been inclined to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) for the reduction of the Army; because he believed that if the Secretary of State for War got rid of the soldiers who were useless—those who could not carry a pack, march the greater part of a day and be able to fight at the end of it—he would effect a great saving in the Estimates, and at the same time add to the real efficiency of the Army. Weakly men in the Army were not merely a passive incubus, but an active evil. For every few men left behind in the course of a day's march, a strong man had to be left behind to take care of them. In the Cavalry if it was reported to the commander that a horse was so weak that it could not keep up with the troop, the commander gave an order that its throat should be cut and that the saddle should be cut up; but if a man in the Infantry was too weak to march you could not give an order to cut his throat and cut up his— clothes. He highly 1415 approved of the re-organization scheme, by which greater solidarity would be created between the Army and the Militia, and would support the right hon. Gentleman in carrying it out in almost all its details. As to desertion, he did not think the amount was so serious as it at first sight appeared to be; but undoubtedly among a certain class it had become a permanent system of fraud, and every effort should be made to put it down. In a very large proportion of cases, it was undoubtedly more a civil, than a military offence, or a system of fraud practised on the Army by a low class of designing scoundrels. He was afraid, however, there was no cure for it, for so long as they enlisted men so young—mere lads—and were too anxious to get up the numbers of the Army, at the expense of efficiency, there would most certainly be desertions. It had been suggested that deserters should be branded with the letter "D;" but he did not believe that we could revert to the system of branding any more than to the Corn Laws. It had also been suggested that every private, every noncommissioned officer, every officer, and the Commander-in-Chief himself ought to be marked with a mark like a flock of sheep to show that they belonged to the British Army. This proposal was really too ludicrous. Suppose a general officer were bathing in a Continental river and his mark were seen, foreigners would most certainly set him down at once as a deserter. Such a plan might have the effect of checking desertion; but, on other and obvious grounds, it was utterly inadmissible. Considering the youth of a vast number of our recruits, the class from which many of them were taken, and the temptations to which they were exposed, it was not to be wondered at that many of them should desert; and it was important. therefore, that every effort should be made to keep them out of the way of temptation. He thought, however, a severer punishment should be inflicted upon those who purchased clothes from deserters, who, in general, were receivers of stolen goods, and were in league with the fraudulent enlisters and deserters. In conclusion, he regretted having written and spoken strong words at a time when he did not thoroughly understand and appreciate the scope and bearing of Lord Cardwell's scheme, and he was afraid that when he 1416 first came into Parliament he might have appeared to entertain a kind of feeling of bitterness in the matter; but if ever he had so appeared, he had no hesitation in saying now that he believed that there had been much wisdom shown in drawing up that scheme; and he also believed that there was much wisdom in the patient manner in which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hardy) was trying—and, he maintained, was succeeding—in bringing that scheme to a successful issue—to an issue which would tend to advance the greatness of this country in future years.
GENERAL Sin GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War upon the change which he intended to effect in the mode of distributing the Artillery. That change was highly creditable to him. At the same time, what was now proposed of reducing the brigades from 29 to 15 was only a half measure—one of those compromises which he (Sir George Balfour) could well make allowance for, when he remembered the difficulty the right hon. Gentleman must have had in overcoming the prejudices existing on the subject of working artillery in brigades of 8 or 10 batteries in the way a battalion of infantry of 8 or 10 companies was worked. He earnestly hoped that in a short time an entire change would be made with regard to the abolition of the whole of the brigades. No doubt the question of distributing Artillery was one which might appear to present a great difficulty; but he held that, wherever batteries were required, there they ought to be stationed, totally irrespective of the headquarters of the brigades. If the system in its present form of keeping batteries within the range of the brigade headquarters was abolished, the Service would be rendered much more efficient, because the commanding officers and Staff for each local command might then be strengthened by using the officers now attached to brigade head-quarters; a large amount of unnecessary expenditure would then be avoided, particularly as far as India was concerned. With respect to depots, he thought that an unnecessarily large number of them was now maintained. There were 15 depot batteries, including the riding establishment, with 72 officers, and only 2,380 gunners and drivers. These were all 1417 formed on the model of ordnance batteries, whereas training depôts needed special officers—carefully selected noncommissioned officers, qualified to instruct. Next, instead of the present number of gunners, nearly double the establishment would not supply the ranks of the regular batteries; and a mistake had been committed in placing the depôt batteries with the headquarters of the brigades. The depôts ought to be in an independent position, and should be entirely distinct from the brigade head-quarters; and he thought that the system of dispersing headquarters of brigades to Ireland and Scotland and different parts of England still required reform. Another point in regard to which he desired explanation, was with reference to the intervention of the Treasury, between the War Office and the India Office as to the cost of the Home establishments for keeping up the strength of the Indian Army. The operation of the present system was to render the statement of the accounts, not alone of the War Office, but of the Treasury and India Office, very obscure; he saw no reason why the system in force from 1824 up to 1860 should not be reverted to: under which the War Office and the Department in charge of India were allowed to settle their own accounts in reference to the cost of the Indian Army. Those charges were all carefully inquired into by a fixed Committee of all Departments, and the balances due to or from India were at once paid. Up to 1854 the arrangements were successful. The war with Russia and the Indian Mutiny threw affairs into disorder, owing mainly to the inefficient state of the War Office. Next, from 1861 to 1870 a new system of paying lump sums, based on the calculated number of men in India, was tried. It was worked so badly by the Horse Guards failing to keep the numbers up to the establishment fixed for service in India, that a species of payments which might have been most profitable to the War Office was reported to have been a losing concern. Since 1870 they had had nothing but confusion. Money paid by India was handed over to the Treasury, and instead of using it to pay the War Office for their expenses, it was included as income with Finance Accounts. He (Sir George Balfour) had made repeated efforts to get at the accounts, but had 1418 been opposed and thwarted in every possible way. He took exception also to the way in which the Estimates were this year put forward, so as to make it appear that there was a decrease in the estimated expenditure when there was actually a large increase of expenditure. He condemned the right hon. Gentleman's method of new and large deductions from No. 1 Vote and from non-Effective Charges as a novel practice which had never before been resorted to. The Treasury had no right to order changes in the mode of representing the expenditure of the country which caused confusion, as now in the War Office Estimates there were also other alterations which deprived Members of the power of contrasting the charges of present years with those of former years. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that the Report of a War Office Committee issued that morning, and to which reference had been made, was a valuable document; but he regretted that it did not deal more fully with the question of the Militia. There was one novel part of the present system which he could not rightly understand, that of separating the Militia Reserve, and that was how this difference between the Militia and the Militia Reserve affected the strength and establishments and number of officers and companies of the Militia. That was a point which he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would clear up. The Militia was a force which ought either to be rendered more efficient or, as suggested by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms), abolished altogether. In order to promote this efficiency there were many things to be done, and among these perhaps the most important was to revise the quota the several counties should be required to contribute to the Force. It was now upwards of a quarter of a century since the quotas of counties were fixed. And taking into consideration the great increase which had taken place in the population, he believed we could now as easily raise 200,000 men as we could 130,000 some 25 years ago. He considered the present system of organizing the Militia as a General National Force to be very defective; the principle on which the Militia was re-formed in the middle of last century was purely local, not in counties, but in sub-lieutenancy divisions. No man was taken from his 1419 home for drill or exercise more than five miles, and every company was exercised monthly. In this form a Militia would be popular, and might be largely increased. He could not help complaining that the lieutenancy sub-divisions of the country remained as they were 30 years ago. In reality these had not been changed since the beginning of this century. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would so alter them as to render them more efficient. The Return he had obtained of the divisions and population of the country was moved for in order to enable the Government to re-arrange the divisions for calling out the Militia. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the results of the recruiting for the past year. To have obtained 70,000 men for the Army and Militia under a system of voluntary enlistment was extremely creditable to the right hon. Gentleman, and was in all respects satisfactory. It was a result he (Sir George Balfour) was not prepared to expect; and he hoped that it arose from the increasing popularity of the Army, and not from any falling off in the trade of the country. He was pleased to hear that a large stock of cloth had been laid in in excess of the current wants of the year, to be kept available for eventualities. He only hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not be tempted to use up the reserve stores for the purpose of saving expense. They had witnessed the ill-effects of such a proceeding in former years. To guard against this great temptation to economise money by using up this reserve, this House ought to be furnished with a statement of the quantities of the reserves in store in each year, so as to show that the stock used up was annually replenished.
§ GENERAL SHUTE
said, he was glad to find that his right hon. Friend had solved a most difficult question, and that with little or no increase of the Army Estimates he had been able to obtain the necessary number of recruits to meet the increased requirements consequent on short service. He desired, in the first place, to ask his right hon. Friend whether he was correct in his belief that there was to be a reduction of one subaltern officer in every Cavalry regiment? He was quite aware that since his right hon. Friend had done away with the absurd system of 1420 having a subaltern officer first with his regiment and then at school, they had not been so short of such officers, but the establishment of subaltern officers was not what it ought to be. There was not, in fact, a sufficient number of subaltern officers in a Cavalry regiment to carry out efficiently the ordinary duties of an orderly officer, and his right hon. Friend, if he were to witness an ordinary Cavalry field day, would see that two-thirds of the posts which ought to be occupied by subaltern officers were occupied by non-commissioned officers. When he first joined a regiment in India the case was very different. Then they had two lieutenants and a cornet to each troop, and only just a sufficient number of officers to do duty after deducting the casualties resulting from service in a tropical climate; and when not long ago he commanded a regiment which was sent suddenly to India, they had but one lieutenant and a cornet to each troop, and within three months of that regiment arriving in India it was short of subaltern officers. As Adjutant General of Cavalry in the Crimea he had the states of the Cavalry regiments from Inkermann to the end of the war, and throughout those states they would find an extraordinary paucity of subordinate officers. One reason for that paucity was, that more was taken out of them than out of their superior officers, in consequence of the greater exposure to which they were subjected. Then, as to a Reserve, they had, in point of fact, no Cavalry Reserve. It was impossible to find or buy ready-made Cavalry soldiers—horses you might always buy on an emergency, and break them more quickly than was generally supposed. No Army Corps was complete, unless all its arms—its Artillery and Cavalry—were complete. He most certainly affirmed that they were short of Cavalry. They had nominally, but only nominally, nine of our 18 Cavalry regiments now in England raised to a strength fit to take the field, but in truth they could only mount about 320 horses each—three, therefore, instead of four squadrons; and what he would venture to suggest with a view to the securing a Reserve was the one made by him when he followed His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge in the Chair at the Royal United Service Institution —that a ninth Troop should be formed 1421 for each of these nine advanced regiments, and that both in peace and war it should form the depôt for the four Service Squadrons, which should thus be always ready to march at the shortest notice, all the bandsmen, artificers, drill serjeants, rough riders, recruits, young horses, &c., being attached to this ninth Troop, with a proportion of the oldest soldiers first for discharge to break the young horses, and from this reserved Troop young soldiers and young horses should be drafted into the Service Troops as they become fit for the field. It might be called the Reserve Troop, and in case of war it would form a depôt from which young soldiers and broken-in horses could be drafted into the other troops as occasion required, and the bandsmen and artificers should be enrolled in it. An important change had been made by the five years' system of command now introduced into regiments. Our regimental system had received many severe blows; but, with the exception of the Abolition of Purchase, it had never received so severe a blow as this. A colonel's influence and power in a regiment would be seriously reduced. An officer brought up in a regiment could command it with much greater facility than a stranger. It would take a colonel coming fresh into a regiment three years to know all its peculiarities, and he would be removed from his regiment just when ho became fitted to command it. It would be found that our best regiments, and this applied especially to the Cavalry, were those which had been longest under the command of one colonel. The Army was already very jealous of the principle of selection and was already too apt to attribute promotion to personal feeling or political jobbery. For himself, he disliked the principle, and was unable to understand the manner in which it was carried out. The five years' system had been in force in Staff appointments for a considerable time. It had been adopted because it was thought desirable that the Secretary of State should have at hand a great number of officers who had practical Staff experience. It was also thought it would enable the prizes of the Profession to be more equally distributed, but this system, as regarded the Staff, had never been carried out in its integrity; why, then, was it sought to introduce 1422 it into our regimental organization? Many inconveniences would, however, arise from the system, not the least important of which would be that the half-pay list would be seriously increased. It might be urged that the flow of promotion would be increased. No doubt, it would; but it was a mere drop in the ocean, and the effect of this increased development of selection, instead of purchase or seniority, with power of rejection, would be to turn the officers of the Army into mere sycophants—instead of the independent gentlemen who used to command regiments—who would be always running after their county or borough Members, or some War Office official, in order to secure promotion. He regretted that the Autumn Manœuvres were this year to be abandoned, believing that the assembly of the Army Corps last year was an admirable and useful experiment. They were put under the command of the only General officer who had ever commanded an Army in the field, and although complaints had been made in that House of Sir William Codrington's age, a more fit and active officer could not have been found. He trusted the troops would be practised in minor tactics, and wished the War Office would give regiments and brigades better facilities for practising out-post duty and reconnaissances. At Brighton the Cavalry regiment had a small and most miserable drill ground for practice and others were just as badly off. He thought it would be well, therefore, to secure proper ground in the neighbourhood of each barrack, on which to drill the men in minor strategical operations. Something ought to be done for the veterinary surgeons, but he was sorry to hear that the medical officers were not satisfied. A great deal had been done for them, and he thought they might be contented for the present. He could not sit down without again congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on the success which had attended his recruiting.
§ DR. LUSH
regretted that he could not join in the chorus of approval which had greeted the statements of the Secretary of State. He had hoped that some attempts would have been made to redress the well-founded grievances of the medical officers of the Army. He was dissatisfied at the attitude of hostility 1423 which the right hon. Gentleman had taken up with regard to them. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to regard them as the greatest trouble of his existence, and he spoke despondingly of their having been a bane to him when he took office, and of his expectation that they would remain so till he left. The remedy for that state of things was to remove the grievances of which the medical officers complained. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the medical officers of the Navy were a few years ago just as discontented, but their grievances were redressed, and nothing had been heard of them since; and if the right hon. Gentleman would only take example from the Admiralty, and treat medical officers of the Army with the same consideration, there would no longer be any difficulty in getting highly-qualified men to join the service, and he (Dr. Lush) would promise him that his office should be a bed of roses as far as those gentlemen were concerned. The College of Surgeons in Ireland had passed a resolution in open council advising their students not to enter into Her Majesty's Service, on the ground that the position of medical officers in the Army was such that they were practically outlawed. It was a startling fact that while the number of recruits had largely increased during the past year, the number of medical officers had diminished by 25. If that decrease in the number of medical men were to go on year by year it would be impossible for us to keep our Army in an efficient condition. On a future occasion he should be prepared to show that the medical officers had real grievances which ought to be redressed.
§ SIR RICHARD GILPIN
congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the number of recruits obtained during the year, notwithstanding that the increase in their number might be easily accounted for by the lowering of the standard for height and by the increase in the pay. He thought that the Report of the Committee which had been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman ought to have been issued earlier; and with regard to the granting of nominations and commissions in the Army to officers of the Militia, he might observe that the proposal required some explanation. There had been several changes already, and he wanted to know why
1424 the right hon. Gentleman had introduced another? The original plan had been adopted in consequence of the difficulty that had been experienced in obtaining officers for the Militia. Lord Cardwell had proposed upon the point that commanding officers should have the power of nominating Militia officers for Army commissions after they had undergone two trainings and passing an examination, and he had subsequently added an education test, and the right hon. Gentleman now proposed to substitute a still more stringent examination for that proposed by Lord Cardwell. He had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that there was something like jobbery between the commanding officers of Militia and Army agents with reference to these nominations; but he must say that this was the first time he had ever heard such a charge brought against the former.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
explained that what he had said was, not that the colonels had interfered, but that he understood that the so-called Army agents had a good deal to say to these matters, and he thought that it was not right that such should be the case.
§ SIR RICHARD GILPIN
observed that, as an officer commanding a Militia regiment, he had no knowledge that anything improper had occurred in reference to the nominations. He had always declined any such applications, and all he could say was that if any such conduct was brought home to a commanding officer, the sooner he was dismissed the Service the better.
§ SIR HENRY HAVELOCK
expressed his great regret that a question which had so long agitated the minds of Officers in the Army—the Promotion and Retirement scheme—had received such small and such curt notice from the right hon. Gentleman; although he (Sir Henry Havelock) must, at the same time, admit that there were obstacles in the way of carrying out such a scheme successfully. He trusted, however, that before many weeks elapsed the right hon. Gentleman would make such a statement as would set the minds of officers at rest upon this point. It would be very satisfactory if the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee some assurance that the suggestion of the Commission in their Report, that captains of 25 years' standing should be placed upon the Retired 1425 List, would not be adopted; because it was very hard upon officers who had been unfortunate enough in their early days to be purchased over should be ejected from the Army at an age when they were unfitted to follow any other pursuit. Leaving that point, he would ask, how had the right hon. Gentleman obtained his recruits? The Reports of the Inspector General of Recruiting bore out the view that the right hon. Gentleman had obtained them by sacrificing the standard of age, of height, and of what went to constitute a man. Had the right hon. Gentleman got effective soldiers by his standard? On the contrary. Almost the universal opinion of the commanding officers at Aldershot during the last year was very different. They said—" In the last year we had a certain number of boys, now we have in their place a certain number of children." If that was the result the right hon. Gentleman would have little to congratulate himself upon. He understood that in the Aldershot division 35 per cent were under 19 years of nominal age, which, therefore, meant 17 years of actual age. And the recruits had only been obtained by lowering the standard to 5 feet 4 inches in height and 32 inches round the chest. And this in time of profound peace, when trade was slack, and after voting £180,000 a-year ago for increased pay to the Army. He earnestly hoped that the right hon. Gentleman, having got the numerical strength of the Army raised on paper, would deem it high time that the standard should be raised, so as to ensure that every man should be physically and otherwise an efficient soldier. Their race was tall, and broad in proportion, and therefore it was nothing to be told that the men were only equal to Continental soldiers. With regard to the Royal Artillery, he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had introduced the system of districts, and he heartily congratulated him upon the moral courage which he had shown in carrying out the changes which he had laid before the Committee. He trusted that the change made in the organization of the Artillery was a step in the direction so effectively taken on the Continent, and that at no distant date they would see some approach made towards providing 720 guns for eight Army Corps, whereas only one-half of that number were at present in 1426 existence. He hoped it would answer the expectations of the right hon. Gentleman, and he would advise him to go farther in the direction of reform, and to institute skeleton batteries, to be filled up from the Militia. He also hoped the right hon. Gentleman would never countenance the belief that, except for the reinforcement of our troops in India, or except for any emergency which might arise in America, less than two entire Army Corps, complete in every detail, should go out from this country as an expeditionary force. But whilst he was glad to see that something was being done in the direction of the Artillery, he regretted that the Cavalry appeared to have entirely escaped the right hon. Gentleman's observation. Great changes had of late occurred in the use of Cavalry, in consequence of the invention of arms of precision, long range, and other causes, and it was essential that that arm of the Service should be as efficient as was possible. Yet, if we were called upon to enter the field of a sudden, the whole Home Force we could command would be only some 3,500 sabres, a state of things which was, to say the least of it, unsatisfactory. As far as the Cavalry was concerned we had, in fact, no reserve, either of men or horses. These were points in which we were entirely deficient, and in the present year's Estimates no attempt was made to improve them. That matter was one of urgency, and he trusted that another year would not be allowed to pass without its receiving proper attention, and what he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would do was that he would follow his own initiative in the matter. We had on the Home establishment some eight regiments at a strength of only 379 horses, and 10 other regiments at a strength of only 317 horses. Arrangements might be made by which, without increasing the Estimates, our first line of Cavalry might be rendered effective and fit to take the field. Passing from that, he thought it was wise that the Reserves were not to be called out this year. Last year they reflected great credit on themselves, so much so that they might well be left at home for a time. He would now venture, with all respect, to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the administrative departments of the Service—namely, the Transport, the Commissariat, and the Paymaster's depart- 1427 ments, as nothing could be more deplorable than the state of those three branches. The complaints which he had heard were such as called for immediate and urgent attention, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would at once appoint a Committee of officers to inquire into the details, and that before the end of the Session those departments would be put on a far better footing than they were now in. The only other point he would touch upon referred to compulsory service. Some said we would have to go hack to that systom, but he thought there were very few in this country who would seriously advocate it. He maintained that no other country save England could produce 67,000 men by voluntary enlistment as we had done in the past year, and that alone was a proof of the soundness of our present policy. With administrative reform he believed that our Army might be placed on a satisfactory footing within the limits of the present Estimate.
§ EARL PERCY
shared the regret which had been expressed, that the Report of the Committee upon the Militia and Brigade Depôts had not been presented sufficiently early to enable the House to consider it before the Army Estimates were proposed. He trusted that the subjects dealt with in that Report would not be allowed to rest, but would yet undergo full discussion in Parliament, and that hon. Members with special knowledge would ask the opinion of the House on some of its recommendations. He thought the increase on the bounty paid to men joining the Militia would produced a very good effect. Nothing could have been more prejudicial to the Service than the alteration made by Lord Cardwell, both as to the term of service and the amount of bounty; but he was doubtful whether any mere increase in the bounty would of itself bring the Militia Force up to what it ought to be. There was a great evil connected with this question of bounty—namely, that besides the difficuly of getting men to enrol, when they did enrol, they often did not come up to the training. This evil was noticeable in all Militia regiments, but in some much more than in others, and he was sorry there was no proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman to remedy it. Encouraging the Militiamen to bring others to the ranks was good so far as it went, but probably would not have 1428 much effect. His own opinion was, that, as a rule, it would be more successful to engage non-commissioned officers to do the work. As to the musketry instruction given to the men, it seemed to him the time spent on it was to a great extent wasted, for it was impossible in the brief time at the disposal of the commanding officer to make that instruction at all satisfactory. With regard to the instruction of the non-commissioned officers, he understood the Report he had already quoted to recommend that, before a man got his stripes, he should go to a school of instruction; but, probably not one man out of a hundred would be found able and willing to do that. He was aware there were deficiencies at present in their instruction, but he did not think this was the way to remedy them. As to the nomination of officers by colonels of Militia regiments for admission into the Line, he, for his part, had never had any great liking for the system. It seemed to him to be hard upon those who sought admission to the Line in other ways, and as the Militia subalterns left for the Line whenever they had got some experience, it sometimes happened there were no officers to fall back upon for the command of the company. If he understood rightly, the right hon. Gentleman said that, while in most cases, no exception could be taken, in some the colonels of Militia had acted improperly in those nominations, and in particular transferred officers from one regiment to another with a view to rapid nomination. No such case had come under his personal notice. In his own regiment, during the short period he had been in command, he had generally endeavoured, in accordance with what he took to be the spirit of the Regulations, to confine the nominations to officers connected with the county. At the same time he did not mean to say that he had not made exceptions to this rule. But the Government now proposed to abolish the pass examination, and introduce a competitive examination on military subjects in its place. He thought that would do away with the whole benefit of Lord Cardwell's proposal, and would deprive gentlemen who joined the Militia, for the purpose of entering the Line, of the advantages which they now obtained. In conclusion, he must repeat the expression of his satisfaction at the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman as to in- 1429 creasing the bounty in connection with re-enrolment in the Militia.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
called attention to the small amount of the Reserve Force of the British Army as compared with that of other European Armies. Many people held that this country could not have a Reserve equal to that of foreign nations; but our system of Reserve was different from that of foreign nations, and if foreign nations were to try it, they would find it would not answer. The Germans had an Army of 400,000 men under arms, and a Reserve Force amounting to 500,000. He would not speak of the Russian Reserve Force, because, in the first instance, when they were called out the system broke down; but the fault was not attributable to the War Office, but to the short time the Reserve had been on trial. He thought this country ought to take a hint from European nations, and establish a large Reserve Force, and we ought to put it in order years before we were likely to call upon it. It was a mistake to sap-pose that great Reserves could only be kept up under a system of conscription. The question of Reserves he maintained to be simply a question of short service, and in that respect was generally popular. If the Secretary of State for War refused to allow men to purchase out without going into the Reserve, he would add 2,000 men a-year to that Force. He gave th right hon. Gentleman great credit for the large number of recruits he had been able to announce. Deferred pay would, ho thought, prove a powerful and increasing inducement to enlist in future years; but there could be no doubt that at present, to some extent, the increase was due to the depression of' trade. The right hon. Gentleman, he believed, had somewhat raised the standard for recruits; but he (Captain Nolan) thought it was sufficient. In the Peninsular War we recruited down to 5 feet 4 inches, and the men fought very well. He did not see why they should aim at keeping the standard above a point which Continental Armies did not seek to exceed. Drawing experience from them, it was, he thought, also a great mistake to go on enlisting very young men. As to the Reserve, if he wished to have a large Reserve, and we ought not, in his opinion, to be content with less than 100,000 men, we should probably have ultimately to fall back upon increased pay. In the Royal Artillery 1430 very great changes had no doubt been introduced, and they were changes which, on the whole, he believed, would turn out to be beneficial. It was a mistake, however, to suppose that a great localization of Artillery had been effected by the new scheme. It was, indeed, very far short of the localization which was attempted abroad, and although we probably required less of it than foreign nations, because we had a better railway system, yet he should be glad to see it, inasmuch as he looked upon it as being very valuable, more extensively introduced. The new scheme had, however, produced, in his opinion, one evil, and that was that it very seriously affected the interests of the non-commissioned officers by abolishing more than one-half of the best-paid appointments for that class of men. He hoped, therefore, some arrangement would be made by which they would be compensated for the serious blew which was thus struck at their prospects.
§ COLONEL ALEXANDER
thought that the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting and the statements of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War satisfactorily disproved many rash assertions which had been made in respect to the condition of the Army. With respect to them then, he wished to point out that while The Times took a very rose-coloured view of the affairs of the Army, the Service newspapers asserted that the Army was rotten to the core. For instance, The Army and Navy Gazette said—No Army can be relied on with confidence, of which the Commissariat, the Transport, and the Medical Departments are in a state of suppressed revolt." ["Order!"]
said the hon. and. gallant Member was scarcely in Order in bringing a newspaper into the House to read from, although it was customary to make use of extracts.
§ COLONEL ALEXANDER
said, he had read the extract, not from the newspaper itself, but from his own notes. He proceeded to observe that what The Times really meant was, not that our Army was in a state of absolute efficiency, but that it was relatively so. It was, however, impossible to contradict the Report of the Inspector General, that the recruiting in 1876 as compared with the previous year had been highly satisfactory. The course pursued by the Secretary for 1431 War, both in filling up the ranks of the Guards, and with respect to the rest of the Army, had been, in his judgment, eminently successful. The Report of the Inspector General last year proved that the Guards were exceptionally large in point of number. In other branches of the Service the result was equally satisfactory. The Reports of General Whitmore showed that in every respect the condition of the soldier was much improved, and that the advantages arising from the deferred pay was beginning to be felt and appreciated. From his (Colonel Alexander's) own experience he could also say that the soldiers were already beginning to appreciate the advantages of deferred pay, and as the system became better known its benefits would be increasingly manifested. The Army, he felt sure, would never forget what the right hon. Gentleman did last year to improve the condition of the non-commissioned officers, who were the back-bone of the Services. Several hon. Members had complained that recruits were taken at too young an age, but the same critics last year said the men were too old. They forgot that youth was an evil which daily cured itself, and that if these young men were taken care of and fed well, they would soon develop into most excellent soldiers. They must not, at all events, during their first year's service drill them with their valises in such tropical weather as we had last year. Some remarks had been made on the diminished stature of the Army. Now, he thought our standard could fully compare with that of Continental nations, and, after all, the best standard was not height, but good chest measurement. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) complained that ours was a celibate Army. But why should all our young men marry before they were 25 years old? How many hon. Members of that House had married before they were 25? In his opinion, the fewer married men they had in the Army the better. He suggested to the right hon. Gentleman the increase of the soldier's present ration of meat (three-quarters of a pound), which for young soldiers was too small, while the ration of bread was probably too large. He would also suggest that soldiers should receive a clear shilling a-day, instead of receiving 9d. per day with a reduction of 3d. for 1432 vegetables. They should at least receive a free ration of vegetables as well as of bread and meat. Another desirable measure would be the addition of a battalion to the Coldstream and another to the Scots Fusilier Guards, in order to make those two regiments equal in number to the Grenadier Guards. He was aware that for these and other measures they must wait for more means. As the right hon. Gentleman said on Saturday, at the United Service Institution—" at the bottom of half the difficulties which surround you is the question of economy." On this point the radical mistake committed by most critics was, that they compared armies raised by conscription with an Army raised by enlistment—in other words, they compared forced labour with free labour. Until we had in this country conscription, or unlimited means to dispose of—neither result very likely—the only thing was to make our available means go as far as possible; and he had every confidence that the right hon. Gentleman would spend the money at his disposal judiciously with a view to the best interests of the Service.
§ MR. H. B. SAMUELSON
said, that, speaking as a Militia officer, he was sorry that there were to be no Autumn Manœuvres this year, but that the Army was, in the words of the Secretary for War, to have a little rest. He had no doubt that the Army would willingly "rest and be thankful." The Manœuvres were productive of much advantage to all the Militia regiments which took part in them. In them they saw something approaching to the reality of a soldier's life in the field; they were brought into constant contact with the Regulars, and could not fail to learn much from them; and they were thoroughly exercised in marching, and brought into much stricter discipline than was possible when they were in billets. The so-called mobilization of last year was, however, according to his experience at the camp at Minchinhampton, a totally different thing. The very term mobilization, as then applied, was a misnomer. It implied the rendering moveable of an Army Corps, whereas that camp was absolutely immoveable. It could not have been moved a yard, for it was on the top of a hill, and the means of transport available were utterly insufficient for moving it. 1433 There were seven Militia regiments there, without Cavalry, Artillery, or Regulars of any description to take pattern from, or to manœuvre with. The setting-up drill, so necessary above all to Militiamen, was, and could not help being, most insufficient; for the time was so entirely taken up with brigade and divisional field days that scarcely any was left even for battalion drill. There was no marching, and no musketry instruction, and the Commander-in-Chief reviewed the troops within about a week of their reaching the camp. In short, they learnt nothing that they could not have learnt more thoroughly on their own parade ground. The so-called mobilization was a gigantic pic-nic, most enjoyable to all concerned, and to the country people, who flecked into the camp in crowds; but, so far as the real interests of the Militia Force were concerned, it was an expensive outing, the benefits of which were in no way commensurate with its cost to the country.
§ COLONEL NAGHTEN
suggested that an increased ration of meat—namely, one pound, instead of three-quarters of a pound—should be given to the men, as better living was likely to diminish drunkenness. He recommended that additional inducements should be held out to short service-men to re-enlist at the completion of their service, and called attention to the expense incurred in sending men to India with only 18 months to complete their service, and he would like to know how much it would cost to send out men to relieve them. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, after inspecting a regiment going to India, stated that he regretted, under the existing circumstances, the less of so many men, especially non-commissioned officers, on the eve of their departure for foreign service. He (Colonel Naghten) also recommended that the money paid to the Militia Reserve would be more profitably employed if given as bounty to the Militiamen who volunteered to the Regular Service.
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
said, he did not share in the regret of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock), that the right hon. Gentleman had not at this stage entered into the question of promotion and retirement, because that was a question by itself, it was one of great complication, and he 1434 could assure the right hon. Gentleman that when he brought his proposals forward they would not escape a somewhat lively discussion. But there could be no doubt it was wise that that subject should be kept distinct from the Army Estimates. There was another subject which hon. Members for the present were deterred from discussing, because they had not had time to consider the Papers which had been submitted to them that morning, and that was the Report of the Militia Committee, which affected the organization of the regiments of the Line. He had read the Report of that Committee with a good deal of astonishment; and he would only say, if he might slightly alter some well-known words "that that in a Conservative was but a reforming act, which in a Liberal was rank revolution." Proposals were contained in the Report to which he referred of the merits of which he would give no opinion, but which, if they had emanated from the side of the House upon which he sat, would have been met with an outcry that it would have been difficult to overcome. The same observation applied to the changes with regard to the Artillery, which were changes in the right direction, both with regard to the efficiency of the Service and with the view of working out the general localized system of the Army. With respect to the Estimates themselves, he had no remark to make, excepting that he should like to be better informed in regard to the separate Vote of £1,000,000 which was to be taken. He wished to know how it was that £1,000,000 had been so exactly arrived at, and from whence it was to come? He could not understand the nature of the arrangement; and he should like to know whether it was in any way the result of the deliberations of the departmental Committee on the question of accounts between the War Office and Treasury? As to the question of recruits, about whom so much has been said, he did not share the opinions which had been expressed by some hon. Members as to the quality and age of those recruits. There was no doubt that they were young; but, having been in a garrison town for some time, he must confess that he was struck with the healthy and tidy appearance of those young recruits, which suggested to him whether they did not come from 1435 a higher class of society than that from which we had previously been drawing our supplies. The improvement in the recruiting was largely attributable to the state of trade. It was also, he believed, attributable to the fact that the short-service system was becoming better understood and appreciated. They had heard to-night something like recantations of what had been said against that system on former occasions; but he believed it was the only system on which the Army of this country could be maintained in efficiency; and when it came to be rightly understood he had no doubt it would have a great effect in attracting recruits to the Service. Another cause of the improvement was the judicious step which had been taken by the right hon. Gentleman in raising the pay of noncommissioned officers, increasing the pay, and improving the condition of the soldiers. For two years the Army had been considerably, and in an increasing degree, below its establishment, and the increase of pay was therefore called for. But if we applied this test to what the right hon. Gentleman proposed to do with the Militia, what was the condition of that Force? It was now in a higher state as regarded its total number of efficient men than it ever was before. He must, therefore, doubt whether the present was the time to give additional bounty and to increase the pay of the Militia. He was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that there was no disposition to stop recruiting, inasmuch as there had been a contrary impression out-of-doors on that subject. That would be a short-sighted course, and would permanently weaken the Reserve. The manner in which the Reserve had turned out last year was most satisfactory. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Renfrewshire (Colonel Mure) wished some of the Reserve called out every year; but if they were called out too often, a great deal of harm would be done. It would not do to be continually interfering with men who had settled down into civil life. In fact, if they were frequently and unnecessarily interrupted in their businesses and occupations, it would strike a fatal blow at the system.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
, in reply, said, the discussion had gone on so long and so tranquilly, without any real opposition to the Votes, that he hoped he 1436 was not taking any liberty in asking the Committee to agree at once to the first Vote. With respect to the "Stock Purse Fund," the subject was still under consideration; but it would be seen this year how the money would be applied. With respect to the Militia, he (Mr. Hardy) thought it would be found that what was now given to them was no very great gain; but the result of the arrangements that had been made would, he hoped, be that men would re-enter the Militia more readily. With regard to the item of £1,000,000 referred to by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), that was taken with the assent of the Indian Office as a fair estimate, and in the Indian Army Charges Estimate the amount was set out in detail. With respect to the changes proposed by the Militia Committee, he would not at present enter into them. They were matters for future consideration and might possibly be discussed in Committee. It was a mistake to suppose that he had thrown any disparagement on the Militia Service as regarded the colonels. He had made no charge against those officers. On the contrary, he merely said that the system of giving commissions by the colonels of Militia to the Army had been used in a way that was never intended, and when he saw that the so-called Army agents were taking the matter up, ho thought it might be made a subject of traffic, and therefore he had found it necessary to interfere. It looked as if it were becoming a practice for men to enter the Militia with a view of being passed over to the Army and receiving a commission. He said that without any ill feeling to the Militia. He did not think it a good system, and was of opinion that it might lead to some misunderstanding, and it was his intention to re-consider the system. With respect to the question of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Captain Nolan), with reference to the Artillery, all the details of the plan had yet to be carried out, but he would take care to pay special attention to the point mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. As to the suggestion that an extra quarter of a pound of meat should be given to the men in the Army, that would involve an additional expenditure of more than £250,000, and he should find it exceedingly difficult to add that to the Army Estimates. Besides, he 1437 did not think he should get an additional recruit by giving an opportunity to men to eat a quarter of a pound of meat more than was now allowed in the Army. With regard to recruits, a good deal had been said about their bad condition. He was bound to take Reports which were made to him from official sources. If the colonels of regiments at Aldershot were dissatisfied about their recruits, it was their duty to complain. The Inspector General said there was hardly any complaint about recruits, and that they were spoken of very favourably. [Sir HENRY HAVELOCK: It would be much more satisfactory if we saw the Reports of the colonels.] He thought the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland would hardly wish the Reports of colonels about the discipline and condition of their regiments to be published to all the world. As he had intimated, there were very few complaints, and he had no doubt if any men were found inefficient, they would be removed from the Service. He believed that in former times we got very good soldiers, and that now we got very good soldiers at the age of 18 or 19, and that they would do very good work if called upon. He trusted that the hon. Member for Salisbury (Dr. Lush) would not think he (Mr. Hardy) had been speaking slightingly of the 'medical officers of the Army, for he was not disposed to underrate any real grievance; but as there had scarcely been any time for testing its operation he trusted that a fair trial would be given to the Warrant of July last. He felt certain that there was no grievance, at least to the extent made out, borne by the medical men with reference to their social position, for it was the same in all public bodies as in all public schools—that a man who was worthy of a social position was perfectly certain to obtain it. If a man had the qualities of a gentleman, and treated himself as such, he did not for a moment believe that the officers of a regiment would treat him otherwise than he deserved to be treated. His hon. Friend, who opened the discussion, asked what he (Mr. Hardy) meant by passing men into the Reserves. Hon. Members would remember that commanding officers had now power to pass men from their regiments into the Reserves, and therefore as their regiments became too full, they could exercise that 1438 power and draw out men who desired to go, and who were fit to be placed in the Reserves. His hon. Friend had also said a few words about the medical officers; but he (Mr. Hardy) thought on inquiry it would be found that if they wished many of them to go back to their old regimental positions, they would be very unwilling to do so upon upon the old regimental pay. With reference to calling out the Reserves, while agreeing with what had been said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Mure) as to the necessity of that course, he would remind the Committee that the old system of paying them in advance for doing nothing at all had been done away with, and they would have a certain number of days' work to do, and they would be paid in arrear. Beyond that, they would not get deferred pay unless they attended when required. They would not be called up in large numbers, for he felt certain if this plan were to be adopted, and they were to be brought a distance from their homes, they would break up the Reserve system before it got into working order. In conclusion, he would say that he was not aware that he had omitted any point which had arisen in the discussion. There would be plenty of opportunity for discussion as each Vote came up, and he hoped the Committee would pass the Votes for which he now asked.
§ MR. J. HOLMS
said, the Estimates ought to be considered this year with more than ordinary care, because they had to take a review of the promises of the last few years. He thought sufficient time should be given for considering many points of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, and also as regarded recruiting most important information was wanted which even the War Office could not at present supply, and without which it was impossible to discuss the condition of the Army. The Estimates were at least £1,000,000 sterling more now than they were in 1874–5, and that fact alone should be sufficient to induce them not to pass the Vote hurriedly. He therefore moved that the Chairman report Progress.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."— (Mr. J. Holms.)
§ MR. DALRYMPLE
said, his experience of the working of the mobilization scheme last year differed entirely from that of the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. H. B. Samuelson) or that of the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock). So far as he was aware, it certainly could not be described as a time of pleasure only. Whatever might have been the pleasure, it was a time of much hard work; and it might turn out that the experience derived from it might be useful and instructive in future. He (Mr. Dalrymple) did not know what was meant by saying that there had been no trial of the transport service. Granted that there had been mistakes; granted that there might have been unavoidable discomfort, he was not aware that anyone had expected complete freedom from these, and one result would naturally be that experience would be gained for another time. He regretted to hear that there was to be no repetition, in the present year, of the system of mobilization inaugurated last summer.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
hoped the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. Holms) would not persevere in his Motion to report Progress. It was of the utmost importance, seeing that Easter was so near at hand, that the Votes for men and money should be taken as soon as possible. He promised the hon. Member that he should have ample facilities for discussing the Estimates afforded him on future occasions.
§ MR. J. HOLMS
said, that as the right Gentleman had promised that every facility should be given on a future occasion to discuss the Vote, he would not insist upon a division, but would withdraw the Motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he wished to make a few observations. The Vote before the Committee was a most important one, that ought not to be hastily disposed of. It was of the greatest importance that the debate should not be too speedily closed, as he had seen several Irish Members endeavour to catch the eye of the Chairman, and, so far as he was aware, only one hon. Irish Member had done so. [Laughter.] He meant one civilian Irish Member. They were about to vote away large 1440 sums of money, and he was of opinion that the matter ought to be further discussed. He begged, therefore, to move that the Chairman report Progress.
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Parnell,) —put, and negatived.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,That a sum, not exceeding £4,565,800, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of the Pay and 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 1877 to the 31st day of March 1878, inclusive.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
, appealed to the Government to defer the first Vote of the Estimate until the House had full information with regard to the sum of £500,000, which was deducted from the gross Estimate, and which was stated to be money to be transferred from the Exchequer to this War Office Vote in aid of the expenditure included in the Army Estimates to meet the Home Effective Charges for the Regular Forces serving in India. This mode of dealing with moneys due by India, of first paying the sums into the Exchequer, and then paying out amounts due for services performed by the War Office, was open to the gravest objection in a financial as well as in an accounting view. It kept up the confusion that even now existed between the two accounts of the India Office and War Department, and prevented the true amount from being ascertained. Beyond that, it introduced a novel practice which had always been opposed by all the able men who had reported on our system of accounts, and he hoped the Committee would not agree to the Vote until full information had been given.
§ MR. F. STANLEY
hoped the hon. and gallant Member would not persevere in his objection. A statement on the subject had been laid on the Table on the 25th February last, in which full information was given. A Committee of Investigation had also sat.
§ SIR HENRY HAVELOCK
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War was responsible for this by withholding Papers.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he had not the slightest objection to the Report of the Committee being laid on the Table. The accounts made it perfectly clear. It was formerly paid into the Treasury, and now they wished it to be paid in as a Vote. There was no concealment about the matter.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
complained that the Treasury was not keeping faith with him in not presenting the Papers which had been promised, relating to the transactions between the War Office and India Departments.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that the course which had been pursued at the Treasury in regard to the payment into the Exchequer of these contributions from India, as an extra receipt, had been the practice since 1862, and if the hon. and gallant Member was in possession of any information which would enable them to keep the accounts in a better manner, they would be only too glad to receive assistance from him. The charges incurred in England on behalf of India were shown in a separate account and a separate Estimate, and the account would show the receipt of £1,000,000 from India on account of this expenditure.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
contended that the accounts had not been kept in this manner for so long a period. The money paid by India between 1861 and 1870, under the agreement known as the capitation rates, was invariably paid into the Exchequer as extra receipts, and so shown in the War Office Estimates. The money never was used as abatements of the gross charges of the War Office as now done. The present Estimates were decreased by the course followed to the extent of near £900,000. He (Sir George Balfour) might be wrong as to the exact figure, but he was confident that there was no one in the House who could prove him to be inaccurate. This Vote ought to be postponed until the matter could be made more clear.
§ MR. F. STANLEY
contended that they had been kept in accordance with the recommendations of a Committee.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
hoped that the hon. Member would not persevere with the Motion. The question of these accounts was a technical one; but it had been fully discussed, and nothing would be gained by a postponement.
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Macdonald,)—put, and negatived.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,That a sum, not exceeding £50,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Estimated Excess of Expenditure beyond the sums voted for the Army Purchase Commission for the year ending 31st March 1877.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
hoped the Committee would allow him to take this Vote, as it was required to defray the expenditure of the Army Purchase Commission.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
considered the time was now come when an explanation of those accounts between India and War Offices should be given; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give orders to have the accounts prepared and laid before the House. It was fully understood by the Committee, over which the Paymaster General presided, that the whole of the Papers would be presented to Parliament without delay, and three years had elapsed without that expectation being realized.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, several hon. Members, and amongst them the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Captain Nolan) were dissatisfied at not having received any satisfactory explanation on this and other matters.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, this was a very hard case, and some of those officers could not be paid unless the Commissioners received the money for the purpose.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Parnell,) —put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.1443
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £140,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Estimated Excess of Expenditure beyond the sums voted for Army Services for the year ending 31st March 1877.
§ Motion, by, leave, withdrawn.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.
§ House adjourned at One o'clock.