§ (In the Committee.)
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,298,000, he granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Provisions, Forage, Fuel, Transport and other Services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he had placed a Notice on the Paper for the reduction of the Vote by £360,000 on account of Bechuanaland. That would raise the whole question of the policy which had been pursued by Her Majesty's Government in South Africa, and he moved the reduction of the Vote in order to elicit some information from the Government upon the subject. He was afraid that a Motion to reduce the Vote would not have much practical effect, nor was there much use in criticizing it, because he had every reason to believe that the money had been 68 spent, and he was almost afraid that something more had been spent besides. But that was just what he wanted to know—namely, what really had been spent? He understood that payment would be required for recruiting, which had been going on very largely in connection with South Africa; and they had been officially informed by Sir Hercules Robinson that expenses now going on in connection with Bechuanaland amounted to £120,000 a-month, or something like £1,500,000 per annum. He was afraid, therefore, that notwithstanding all the money which had been already voted, much more would be spent. But what he wanted distinctly to know was, whether the sum of £500,000 voted for a Military Expedition to Bechuanaland had been spent; and if more would be required, where was the money to come from, for he did not find that there was any additional Vote on the subject? He should be glad if the Colonial Secretary or the Secretary of State for War would inform him whether Her Majesty's Government considered themselves free to apply any portion of the Vote of Credit of £11,000,000, voted a short time ago by the House, which might not have been spent in war preparations in connection with Egypt or with the Indian Frontier, to the South African Expedition; or whether the money required for military services in Bechuanaland would come from some other source? He had also a strong desire to know whether Her Majesty's Government were able to form any opinion as to what would be the future expense incurred by this country in regard to Bechuanaland? He found that the Estimates for that expenditure varied from £1,500,000 per annum, which was the rate of expenditure going on now, according to Sir Hercules Robinson, to £60,000, which was the minimum expenditure given by Sir Charles Warren in his Estimate. He (Sir George Campbell) was not inclined to believe that the actual expenditure would be, in any case, as low as £60,000 per annum, seeing that they had 4,000 of Her Majesty's troops out there, and looking also at the passions which had been stirred up in South Africa by the proceedings of Sir Charles Warren. He was afraid that when they found it convenient to withdraw their troops from Bechuanaland, they would find that the 69 expenses had been much more than £60,000 per annum; and the principal expenditure arose from military preparations. He should be glad to know, in general terms, what the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to Bechuanaland was, as the information now in possession of the House was extremely deficient. The late Government told them nothing whatever, but left them in a state of doubt; and the present Government, being merely a temporary Government, it became very difficult for them to decide upon the question of permanent expenditure. ["Oh!"] The Government might have a majority in the other House; but at the present moment they certainly did not possess a majority in the House of Commons. He hoped the Government would be able to tell the Committee, in general terms, what their policy in South Africa was, and what they proposed to do in regard to that country. He believed it was universally admitted by all who had discussed the question that the one noticeable fact in connection with South Africa was the absolute uncertainty of the policy likely to be pursued. One thing was done one day, and another the next, and the whole of their policy had been one of continual oscillation without any fixed plan whatever. Some time ago, by the Sand River Convention, there was a distinct policy set forth, and it was decided that the British power should not be carried beyond a fixed limit; but now they had gone beyond that limit, and had committed themselves to indefinite liabilities. As soon as they passed the territory of one Native Chief, they seemed to come into contact with another Native Chief; and all they did was to involve themselves in indefinite responsibilities. He wanted to know whether they were to go forward, to remain stationary, or to go backward? A great deal would depend upon the decision at which Her Majesty's Government might arrive upon the questions at issue between Sir Charles Warren and Sir Hercules Robinson. Speaking as one who had had considerable experience in administration, and having looked carefully over the Papers in order to ascertain whether Sir Charles Warren was right or wrong, he had come to the conclusion that his conduct had been such as to show that he was a 70 most unfit man to be intrusted with the interests of the British Empire in that country. However able and dashing a man he might be, he had shown an extreme want of discretion in several matters; and in saying that, he (Sir George Campbell) judged of him by his own words, and by the contradictions which had taken place in his policy. At one time Sir Charles Warren appeared to be of one way of thinking, while at another time his views were entirely the reverse. He had now, under cover of military rule, established a partizan Government in Bechuanaland and Stellaland. He had taken one side of the question only, and had not allowed himself to see the other side at all. He began by accepting the position Her Majesty's Government assigned to him, which placed him in subordination to the High Commissioner, and he commenced his Mission by accepting the policy of the High Commissioner. It was not long, however, before he completely turned round; and since then he had absolutely defied the authority of his superior—the High Commissioner of South Africa. That being the effect of the proceedings of Sir Charles Warren, he could not help thinking that the Papers laid upon the Table showed an extreme want of discretion on the part of that officer. He had asserted his authority in South Africa with a very high hand, as was shown by the transactions which had occurred in regard to the death of a man who lost his life in South Africa some years previously, and the circumstances attending which were perfectly well known. It was a political offence which occurred some years ago, and the action of Sir Charles Warren in connection with it had been most indiscreet. It had been found necessary to abandon it; but the proceedings of Sir Charles Warren had left a great deal of bad blood behind. Altogether, it was a most injudicious proceeding on the part of that officer. Then, again, in establishing military rule in Bechuanaland and Stellaland, and under that military rule electing an Assembly, in which one side only was allowed to vote, while the other was excluded altogether, Sir Charles Warren was guilty of a most improper proceeding. He would not weary the Committee by going into details upon all of those matters, because they were already written at great length in the Blue 71 Book; but it did seem to him that, in the main, it was fully proved that Sir Charles Warren had taken up the position of a most indiscreet partizan; that he had stirred up a great amount of hatred against his rule; and that a great deal of difficulty must follow from the course he had pursued. He should have thought that Her Majesty's Government would have had sufficient warning in regard to the administration of a Military Commissioner from the example afforded by the action of Sir Owen Lanyon in the Transvaal, and that they would have been slow to commit themselves to the acts of another military officer who displayed strong partizanship and extreme want of discretion. At that moment the extreme irritation expressed by the whole of the Dutch population of South Africa in consequence of the steps which had been taken was very great; nor was it confined to the Transvaal and Bechuanaland, but was extended all over South Africa. He hoped that some explanation would be given of the differences which had arisen between Sir Hercules Robinson and Sir Charles Warren in regard to Native Dominion in South Africa, and the course which this country intended to pursue in that matter. So far as Native Dominion in South Africa was concerned, he was, as a rule, averse to the extension of this great Empire. At the same time, if their rule was to be extended anywhere—and it had been enormously extended in various parts of the world—his impression was that they owed considerable obligations to South Africa on account of the expectations they had held out to the people of that country, and the difficulty of administering Native territory through the hands of the Colonial authorities. He had always been inclined to think that there was a great deal to be said in favour of establishing a Native Dominion over a considerable part of South Africa. But he thought they ought to be consistent in the matter, and ought to have some settled policy, and not allow themselves to be driven about from one extreme to another. He objected especially to the policy of allowing the Colonies to take all the Possessions that were profitable, and turning them over to them when they became unprofitable. They had experienced many difficulties of that kind in connection with Basuto- 72 land and Zululand. With regard to the territory in Bechuanaland, he was of opinion that their policy had shown almost every stage of inconsistency. The first arrangement after the Transvaal War was that they should take over a part of the Native territory; but they left the Boers the whole of what was nominally Transvaal territory. They said—"We will not go beyond that line; but, at the same time, we will protect the Natives." Yet it would now appear that they were in a curious state of transformation, and were in reality going beyond Transvaal territory. Nor were they confining the Transvaal Government to their own Possessions. He certainly did not understand why they should allow the Boers to go beyond their own territory, and take the better part of Zululand, while, at the same time, they took up a high position and declared that they would not allow the Boers to invade Bechuanaland at all. It was most extraordinary why we should allow the Boers to invade territory to which we had easy access, and yet undertake the responsibility of defending Bechuanaland, which was very remote from the sea and from our base of operations, and very difficult to get at. His own idea was that it would have been better to have taken possession of the Eastern Coast, including Zululand, and they might have established a considerable Dominion in that part of the world. He objected to the limit of their annexation of Bechuanaland, because it was entirely artificial. It was a country as large as Spain—as large or larger than any European country except Russia. But the limit which had been fixed of the 22nd degree of South latitude was entirely an artificial limit; and it would be almost impossible to confine themselves to it, or to any other line, because the territory would constantly grow as the demands upon them increased, and it would be altogether impossible to confine themselves to the 22nd degree of South latitude. Their operations would have to be extended far beyond. As he had pointed out, Bechuanaland was entirely cut off from the sea. The annexation had been justified on the ground that it was necessary to preserve the great trade route through that territory. He was inclined to believe, however, that that great trade route was simply an invention by some clever fellow, and that 73 it had been fabricated, not by any amount of trade upon it, but for the express purpose of justifying the annexation. The country beyond was nearer to the Indian Ocean, on the one side, and to the Atlantic, on the other, than to Cape Town, and he did not see what interest it could be to us to draw trade there. He very much doubted the propriety of the decision to take possession of Bechuanaland, or the reality of the agitation which had been got up in regard to it. But all he expected Her Majesty's Government to do now was to tell the Committee, in general terms, what they proposed to do in reference to the events of the last three months. Did they propose to maintain military possession of the whole territory up to the 22nd degree of South latitude, or did they at anytime propose to occupy territory beyond which would bring them in contact with the Native Chiefs? Did they intend to stop at any particular point? He knew that that had been done very much in the hope of getting Cape Colony to take over the territory; but he very much doubted whether the Cape authorities would do anything of the kind. Nor did he believe in the propriety of handing over additional territory to the Colonial authorities there. They had quite enough to do to manage that which they already possessed. And he doubted very much the policy of calling upon this country to pay heavy sums for the purpose of establishing a great Dominion in that part of South Africa. He wanted to know, if this country was to be occupied, how the funds for military occupation and civil government were to be provided? If the idea was to settle the country, no doubt it was desirable that that should be done. It might be most desirable, if it were possible, to settle steady agricultural British Colonists; but he did not believe that they would be able to compete with the Dutch. For real hard-working qualities the Dutch settler was, as a rule, very much superior to what was well known in South Africa—the loafing British speculator. If he could see any prospect of British Colonization in that country, he should be delighted to see it carried out; but he knew that, of all the countries in the world, land jobbing was carried on in a very extravagant style, much more so than farming. Therefore, he very much 74 doubted whether there was any prospect of real and genuine British colonization being effected. However, he would conclude his remarks, as he began, by admitting that Her Majesty's Government were placed in an extremely difficult position, and probably it might be impossible for them to bind this country definitely to any permanent policy in the matter. All he now wanted was that they should toll the Committee, in the best way they could, what they proposed to do in regard to South Africa during the next six months, and where they proposed to get the money to carry on their policy. He would move the reduction of the Vote by the amount of the war expenditure in Bechuanaland, in order to elicit an explanation on the subject from the Government; and if, upon the general question, Her Majesty's Government could not give a definite decision and explanation, he at least hoped they would tell the Committee how they intended to decide the matters at issue between Sir Hercules Robinson and Sir Charles Warren. He had expressed a strong opinion that Sir Charles Warren was not the man to maintain British authority in South Africa. On the other hand, Sir Hercules Robinson was a very experienced administrator; a safe, steady, reliable man, in whose hands the interests of this country were pretty safe. With all deference to the views of Her Majesty's Government, he firmly believed that if they intended to persist in Sir Charles Warren remaining in South Africa, and suffered the authority of Sir Hercules Robinson to be set at defiance, nothing of a prudent or satisfactory character would be done. On the other hand, he asked the Government not to listen to one side of the question only—to declarations of views which were falsely called the public opinion of this country, but which were really the result of the agitation of a few newspapers, which had not only placed Sir Hercules Robinson in a false position, but would tend to absolve him from all future responsibility should unforeseen liabilities be incurred by this country. All this would inevitably place the British taxpayer in a more difficult and anomalous position than he (Sir George Campbell), for one, was prepared to face. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £360,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,038,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Provisions, Forage, Fuel, Transport and other Services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
said, he had been very glad to hear some of the remarks which had fallen from his hon. Friend in reference to the territories in South Africa. He understood that, at last, although his hon. Friend was opposed to the annexation of some parts of South Africa, he had arrived at the conclusion that it was necessary for the interests of this country to take possession of Zululand. He had been glad to hear that remark from his hon. Friend. He thought they must all feel that the time had come when it was the duty of the Government to take some action with regard to that unfortunate country. The country had been placed in its present difficult position owing to incessant changes of policy and the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government, for which he thought both sides of the House were jointly responsible. In the first place, when his right hon. Friends were in Office last they overthrew the power of Cetewayo. The result of that proceeding had been most unfortunate. Had it not been for the overthrow of the power of Cetewayo he believed that the Transvaal would not have been in the position it now occupied, and that their policy in South Africa would not have had such disastrous effects. That was the result of the policy of the Government of the Earl of Beaconsfield. When the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) acceded to Office they restored Cetewayo. He was not prepared to find fault with that policy, as he, unfortunately, recommended it at the time; but it proved, in the end, to be an entire failure, and, in his humble opinion, they were altogether responsible for the state of anarchy in which the country had been left in consequence. The result of their interference in the affairs of Zululand had been that one Government overthrew Cetewayo; another Government tried to restore him; they had failed to support him, and nothing but anarchy had prevailed ever since. It 76 was now found that the Boers from the Transvaal were attempting to occupy the country, and the time had arrived when the Government of this country ought to make themselves fully responsible for the government of Zululand. As far as he could see, there was only one course to be pursued, and that was to annex the country. He had arrived at that conclusion reluctantly, because he knew there were many difficulties connected with it; but there appeared to be a general feeling in that direction on both sides of the House. Nobody was anxious for annexation. Indeed, hon. Members on both sides of the House were desirous that that territory should not be extended; but, as regarded Zululand, that country was placed in such an unfortunate position, and they had incurred so many responsibilities in reference to it, that they were left but one course to pursue, and that was, as he had already stated, to annex it. The course taken by the Earl of Beaconsfield's Government, and by the Government of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, had brought upon Zululand difficulties of such a character that there was only one way by which they could discharge their duties towards that country, and that was by making themselves entirely responsible for its future administration. If they failed to do that, the present state of anarchy would continue, and the unfortunate state of things now existing would go on from bad to worse, until some Foreign Power would step in and do what they would certainly not like to see another Power do—namely, annex the territory themselves. He hoped that his right hon. Friends would consider whether the time had not come when the only course was to annex a country which had suffered so much from their hands; and however much they might dislike that course, and whatever amount of expense it would entail upon the country, it was the only proper course which followed from their past policy. But, while the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had commented very strongly upon Zululand, he had not clearly gathered from the speech of his hon. Friend what he would be prepared to do.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
said, he was glad to hear it, because he was sorry to say that he differed very much from his hon. Friend in the other part of his speech about Bechuanaland. His hon. Friend seemed to have a very low opinion of Sir Charles Warren. From that opinion he altogether differed. It appeared to him that Sir Charles Warren was one of the most admirable public servants Her Majesty had ever had the good fortune to possess. His proceedings in Bechuanaland had reflected great honour upon himself and upon the Government which he represented, and he thought it was the duty of the Government and of the House of Commons to support Sir Charles Warren in the course he was pursuing. He knew it was stated that there had been differences of opinion between Sir Charles Warren and another eminent public servant—Sir Hercules Robinson. He entertained the highest regard for Sir Hercules Robinson; he had received great kindness personally at the bands of Sir Hercules; but while he fully appreciated the ability and great public services of Sir Hercules Robinson, it appeared to him that if there were differences between those two distinguished men, then, certainly, Sir Charles Warren had been placed in a better position for acquiring information as to the course which ought to be pursued than Sir Hercules Robinson. The latter was, no doubt, in a difficult position, being the Constitutional Governor of the Cape. In that capacity he was obliged to take heed of the advice of the Ministry of the day, and it was very well known that the Ministry which happened to be in power at the Cape very much favoured the Dutch Party, by whom they had been returned. Moreover, being at Cape Town, Sir Hercules Robinson could not have that intimate knowledge of the affairs of Bechuanaland which an officer on the spot must possess. Sir Hercules Robinson was, as they all knew, a man who had administered the government of various great Colonies with eminent success, and he had had great experience in carrying out Constitutional Government; but his experience in connection with South Africa had been confined entirely to Cape Town. Sir Hercules Robinson had not travelled much in other parts 78 of South Africa—indeed, he could not find that Sir Hercules Robinson had been out of Cape Colony at all since he (Sir Robert Fowler) was last in that country. Therefore, he thought that Sir Hercules Robinson could not have the same knowledge of the affairs of the interior of South Africa, and especially of the affairs of Bechuanaland, as the distinguished man who had been sent out upon a special Mission there by the late Government. Sir Charles Warren was a man who had acquired great experience of the Native Races in South Africa. He had witnessed tribal warfare; and it was generally felt by all who had paid attention to the subject—certainly by those who had spoken of it in that House—that no man was better qualified to administer the affairs of that Colony than Sir Charles Warren. Although Sir Charles Warren was sent out by the late Government, he believed that the appointment had received the universal approval of everybody in this country who was interested in the affairs of South Africa. Having gone out with great prestige, it was for the House of Commons to consider what had been the result of Sir Charles Warren's Mission. It must be borne in mind that, although he had been placed in a very difficult position, the general result of his administration had been most successful. It had been remarked a short time ago, in the debate upon the Afghanistan Frontier, that the only part of the world in which the late Government seemed to be carrying on their administration with advantage to the country was that part of South Africa in which Sir Charles Warren was acting. His hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had stated that military officers were apt to be indiscreet.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, that what he had meant to say was, that when a military officer was indiscreet his conduct was apt to be dangerous.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
wished to point out that the discussion now taking place was not in Order upon the present Vote, but ought to be raised upon the Colonial Vote. His view was that any comments as to the sufficiency of the supply of provisions, forage, or upon transport, and other services connected with the Army, so far as Bechuanaland was concerned, would be legitimate; but the 79 very wide questions of Colonial policy raised by the discursive speech of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), which, were now being continued by the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler), were altogether beyond the scope of this Vote.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
said, he had understood that the Vote referred to Bechuanaland, and he was prepared to discuss that question. His impression was, that however irregular any discussion about Zululand might be, any reference to the position of affairs in Bechuanaland came legitimately under the Vote. After the ruling of the Chairman, he would certainly confine his remarks to Bechuanaland. He was glad of the opportunity of bearing his humble testimony to what seemed to him to be the great merits of Sir Charles Warren, and he would express a hope that his right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Stanley) would see his way to give to that gallant officer the support to which his administration and his merits entitled him. There was only one other remark he would like to make before he sat down, and it was drawn from him by the speech of his hon. Friend. It might be argued that it would be a dangerous thing to involve themselves in any responsibility for maintaining the government of Bechuanaland, unless they were justified by the importance of keeping open the trade route. In his opinion that was an object of the very highest importance; it was absolutely essential that there should be an open route to the interior. If they were prepared to maintain their position in South Africa at all, they would have to make use of that route; and it was, therefore, necessary to maintain it and protect it, because, if it were destroyed, it would be a very great loss to this country in many respects. That was one of the reasons why he felt that the money spent upon Bechuanaland by this country was justified by the public interests involved. That being the case, he thought the Committee ought to support Sir Charles Warren's administration of affairs there, and should not object to it on the ground that it was expensive to this country.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he rose upon the question of Order. He wished 80 to know whether it would be irregular for hon. Members to avail themselves of the opportunity, upon this Vote, of asking the Government to explain what their policy was intended to be in Bechuanaland? It was rather important to know whether the right hon. Gentleman considered that it would be out of Order to discuss the general policy of the Government in Bechuanaland, and also to understand distinctly whether the discussion upon that subject was to be stopped?
§ THE CHAIRMAN
said, it was somewhat difficult to say what might or what might not be discussed under this Vote. It was a Vote for provisions, forage, and stores, in which there was undoubtedly an item for Bechuanaland; but it would be more orderly to confine the discussion to the question of provisions, forage, and stores. He took some blame to himself for not having stopped the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), for certainly the Vote would not justify a lengthened discussion of questions relating to the entire Colonial policy of the Government. That discussion, however, could be brought on upon subsequent Votes. It would certainly not be regular to discuss the large question of the Colonial policy of the Government in relation to a Military Vote for provisions and forage.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, the view which he had taken of the question was that the great expenditure in connection with the occupation of Bechuanaland was the military expenditure. What he wanted to know was how much was likely to be spent; and it would certainly be impossible for the Government to give the Committee any idea of the amount that was likely to be spent, unless they were able to tell the Committee the purpose for which they proposed to remain in the country. He thought that in putting the question in that way he had placed himself in Order.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
said, the discussion upon the general policy of the Government in Bechuanaland might be taken on Vote 6, Class V., which was a Vote that included money expended for administrative acts in connection with Bechuanaland and elsewhere. All those matters would be much more legitimately discussed on Vote 6, Class V.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that referring again to the question of Order, he wished to know whether the Chairman ruled that the question of policy did not now come up?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that under those circumstances he would appeal to the Government to afford a full opportunity for discussing the question of policy, especially as he entirely disagreed in some of the remarks that had already been made. This matter of their Colonial policy in South Africa was a very important one, and, therefore, he trusted that the Government would afford a favourable opportunity for allowing the whole question to be fully discussed.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Colonel STANLEY)
said, that after the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, he wished to remind the Committee that these very Votes were postponed the other night in order to enable a general discussion to be taken. Whether such a discussion would be in Order or not was another matter. He was far from wishing to avoid discussion. He had expected that the discussion would have been taken on the Military Vote that afternoon; but according to the ruling of the Chairman that would be irregular, and, therefore, when the other Votes came on he would endeavour to assist his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland) in bringing them on at a convenient hour, so as to afford, as far as was possible at that time of the year, a reasonable opportunity for such discussion as might be considered necessary. On the other hand, the Government were in a position of difficulty. The Committee knew very well that it was not only desirable, but that it would be absolutely necessary, to close Supply before long; but, at the same time, the Government would not refuse any concession in the way of time that would not be unusual or unnecessary. He was bound to warn the Committee, on the other hand, that it would not be his duty to make any startling announcement on the part of the Government until he had had more opportunity of seeing his way. All he could say now was that he had no desire to avoid a discussion on this important 82 subject, and he would see that a fair opportunity of considering Vote 6, was afforded.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
expressed a hope that the Vote would not be taken that evening at an inconvenient hour. He would be glad if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would say that, at all events, it would not be taken after 10 o'clock in the evening.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, that if they could get through the Army Votes by a reasonable hour, there would be time to take the discussion on Bechuanaland. If that could not be done, the Government would be ready to take it the first thing on Wednesday. He trusted, however, that the Army Estimates might be finished in time for the Vote to come on at a reasonably early hour.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
hoped that, before the Vote was agreed to, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would answer the limited question he had put as to the military expenditure. How much did the right hon. Gentleman anticipate would be spent upon the Expedition to Bechuanaland in the course of the next six months, and, if the expenditure exeeded the provision already made, where was the extra money to come from?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH)
said, he would give the best answer he could to the question of the hon. Gentleman. He entertained a hope that the actual expenditure would not exceed the amount for which provision had been made; but it was impossible to say at present. The operations were being conducted at a very great distance from this country, and the communications were neither easy nor frequent. He could only say that nothing whatever had been provided out of the Vote of Credit for the operations there, nor was it intended to appropriate any portion of that Vote to those operations. He was afraid that it was impossible for him to give any further answer at present.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman that the sum of £500,000 already voted had been avowedly taken for six months only. If there was reason to suppose that that would cover the operations for 83 six months, it must be borne in mind that the six months would soon be out; and if it was intended to continue military operations longer, more money would inevitably be required.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. W. H. SMITH)
said, the hon. Gentleman was inviting him to enter into a discussion which the Chairman had already declared to be one of policy, and that was out of Order upon the present Vote. The statement as to how long the country was likely to be occupied would be made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and not by himself. All he wished to say was this—that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, the expenditure for which this Vote was taken would not be exceeded.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
asked whether, in regard to the Vote of Credit, the right hon. Gentleman considered that in the event of a necessity arising the Government would be at liberty to appropriate any part of it?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. W. H. SMITH)
said, there was no intention of trenching upon the Vote of Credit for that purpose.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
presumed that when the Colonial Vote came on for discussion the whole question of their Colonial policy might be gone into? He took it that that would be the time for stating the policy of the Government, and whether any further expenditure was likely to take place?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, that was his opinion. The administration of Bechuanaland and Zululand would come on under Class V., Vote 7, when the whole subject could be discussed.
§ Motion by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
said, the subject to which he wished to draw attention was entirely germane to this Vote for forage and provisions. It was a question which had formed the subject of an action in the Westminster County Court a short time ago. It appeared that a man named Toomer contracted to supply the War Office with 300 tons of hay at 114s. per ton. Only 50 tons, however, were accepted by the War Office, who refused to carry out their contract after part of 84 the hay had been delivered. Litigation ensued, and that litigation took place in the Westminster County Court; and, on the 12th of June, the jury returned a verdict against the War Office in favour of Toomer, the Judge refusing the War Office the right of appeal. A clerk from the War Office was reported to have produced various documents in which it was stated that it was unadvisable to give the contract to any one person. He would like to know why that was considered to be unadvisable? Any business man who wished to obtain a certain description of goods by contract had only to satisfy himself of two things—whether the tender he accepted was the lowest tender, and whether the person who made the lowest tender could give security as to his ability to carry out the contract. In this case the War Office refused to give the whole contract to Toomer. Toomer said the reason he did not get it was that he had exposed some frauds on a previous occasion; and he hinted, further, that his refusal to be a party to acts of bribery was the cause of his being dealt with in a summary manner. As he had said, Toomer offered to supply the whole 300 tons at 114s. a-ton; but he only got a contract for 50 tons. According to the evidence of Mr. Tupp, the rest of the hay was contracted for at a price 16s. per ton higher. One hundred tons were verbally contracted for at 130s. per ton, and the verbal contract was confirmed on the following day. The reason assigned for accepting a contract at a higher figure than that at which Toomer offered to supply the hay was that the authorities at Woolwich were very pressing in their demands. Evidence was given, on the trial of the case, that the market price on the day on which the contract was entered into was only 105s. per ton for hay delivered within a certain radius of the market, and that 5s. extra per ton would have covered the cost of cartage, and, therefore, that Toomer only asked for a moderate profit when he proposed 114s. per ton. But when the contract was rejected an action was brought against Toomer for 122s. per ton; and Mr. Tupp said that the contract ultimately entered into for the larger portion of the hay was at the rate of 130s. per ton. He (Dr. Cameron) thought that that was a very fishy transaction. The contract, they were told, 85 was a verbal contract. Why was it a verbal contract? Before the Committee which sat last year, Mr. Nepean—the gentleman in whose office the contract, was said to have been arranged—and Mr. Tupp himself, gave evidence that never, where it could otherwise be arranged, should a contract be verbal, but that a contract should always be a written contract wherever it was possible. It would be proved from the general regulations of the War Office that that was so, and that if any contract was made verbally it should at once be reported to the War Office. He might be told, perhaps, that this contract was not made verbally, but was simply arranged verbally; but that was a distinction without a difference. The Auditor General objected to certain contracts last year on the ground that they had been entered into verbally; and the Committee to which he had referred found fault, on similar grounds, with the laxity with which contracts were entered into not only by the War Office, but by other Departments. He had stated that, in the course of Toomer's trial, the most palpable suggestions of bribery were made. Anyone looking into the matter would see the extent to which suggestions of bribery were bandied about, and that when Mr. Nepean was before the Committee he gave as a reason for buying the hay that it was in order to escape the supervision of Woolwich, there being a ring there, and that some of the officials had been got at at Woolwich. That was not the only instance of this sort of charge. If they spoke to officers who had an intimate knowledge of this Department they would be told by them of their suspicions as to bribery in certain quarters. The other day he got a letter from a contractor, regarding whose contract the Committee upstairs had found it necessary to inquire last year. This gentleman spoke of the "ring" or "swing" outside of which no person could hope to compete successfully; and he offered, if he and others were afforded protection, to come forward and disclose the state of things which the contractors alleged to exist in regard to their trade. At the present moment, or very recently, a trial was going on at York in which some fraudulent contractors were concerned, and in that case an extensive system of bribery was exposed, which 86 had exercised a most pernicious effect, as far as the interests of the Army were concerned. It came out that the contractor only supplied enough oats to give two feeds to the horses, when they were entitled to three. The meat for the men was dealt out in the same manner, and, instead of giving 18 lbs., by bribery, the contractor succeeded in giving only 12 lbs.; in addition to which, the meat was of an abominable quality, and mostly bull beef. John Chipchase, a journeyman butcher, gave interesting evidence as to the stuff palmed off upon the soldiers. The witness was asked to state the condition in which the meat was. He was asked—"When you first saw it, was it dressed?" In reply, the witness stated that when he first saw the meat some of it was laid out dressed—some of it had been dressed in the country, and some of the beasts had been fetched away in the carts, dead. Some of them only wanted sticking; and as they were stuck their last breath went out. He was interrogated as to the frequency with which that occurred, and he stated that it sometimes occurred five times a-week. When asked as to the cause of the death of the animals—what it was generally—he replied that it was sometimes milk fever, sometimes mouth complaint, some of the animals burst themselves, and some had what was called a turnip in their throats. Examined as to the wholesomeness of the meat, he stated that he should not like to eat it; and certainly he (Dr. Cameron) was inclined to agree with John Chipchase's view of the matter. He had only adduced this case to illustrate the sort of contractors with whom the authorities had to deal as Army contractors, and the absolute necessity for dealing with them in a most business-like and above-board fashion. He had mentioned the letter of the contractor, alleging that the authorities were open to bribery. The Director of Contracts, on being examined before the Committee, admitted that he had suspected certain officials at Woolwich, whom it was not difficult to identify. He believed that most of the Committee thought, as he (Dr. Cameron) certainly did, that the Director of Contracts referred to a particular officer, who had since been promoted; but he thought the fact of that gentleman's promotion showed that their suspicions in that 87 case were wrong. One contractor, who was defended by Mr. Nepean, at the expense of this officer, had since been struck off the list of contractors, which certainly told rather against that particular individual. It proved to him (Dr. Cameron) that the matter ought to be probed to the bottom, and that there should not be constant attempts to burke any discussion or inquiry in regard to it. It would be necessary to go into the whole question in order to rectify the system. He, therefore, intended to move a reduction of the Vote, of which he had given Notice, in order that he might fully impress upon the Government the point which he wished to raise. He, therefore, proposed to reduce the sum for provisions by £10,000, and the sum for forage by £20,000; and he thought he could show that in the contracts entered into the country had lost £10,000 on the contract for flour, and £20,000 on the contract for hay. In respect of those two items—the flour purchased for the Army in Egypt amounted to 70 days' supply; and he asked the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to the facts he proposed to lay before the Committee, because he was certain that, as a man well acquainted with business proceedings, and the manner in which a business contract ought to be carried out, the right hon. Gentleman would be of opinion that the course pursued in this matter was absolutely indefensible. There were 75 cases of flour purchased for the Army in Egypt, and sent out in five different consignments, which consisted of six different brands. The first was sent out in the Austria on the 24th of July. On the 21st of August, Sir John Adye sent it home, saying that it was utterly unfit for use, and never appeared to have been good. On the 7th of September, the Arethusa took out another consignment, and Sir John Adye reported that it was in no better condition. He said that the flour taken by that ship was utterly destroyed, and that the greater portion had arrived in hard solid blocks. The entire contents of a sack, in many cases, were a hard unbroken lump. Other witnesses described the flour as being in the form of lumps, like pillars of plaster of Paris. A telegram had been sent to Sir John Adye, saying that the flour had been selected especially for its keeping qualities, that 88 it was shipped in good condition, and had had its bulk samples examined. A baker was allowed to attempt to utilize the flour for baking purposes by mixing it with flour purchased on the spot; but it was found to be absolutely worthless, and the whole lot was sold for the purpose of converting it into starch. Now, there was no article in the whole list of articles sent out in regard to which the Government ought to have had more experience than flour. The Navy was constantly in the habit of sending out flour to hot climates, and the authorities knew exactly the kind of flour which would keep, and the Commissariat officers were in the habit of making contracts all over the world in order to secure good flour for the use of the Army. Then, again, the authorities ought to have been warned against the kind of flour sent out in this case, because the flour sent out by the same Department in the Chinese War had gone wrong. The Naval authorities had not been consulted in the matter. The Commissariat General's advice was not taken. He recommended one course, and an entirely different course was adopted. The flour was bought through the means of a broker instead of being bought by the skilled officials of the Department. That was the most absurd manner of conducting business ever heard of. The broker who purchased the flour received a commission of 1¼ per cent. When contracts for provisions were made through the Commissariat the contracts themselves contained the most stringent provisions. When a contract was made for flour for use in hot climates the contractor was required to guarantee that it was of a quality that would keep. But in the case to which he referred no stipulation of the kind was made. The regular course of buying from a broker was described by the Director of Contracts. He said—The Department sent for a sample, and when the sample was approved the broker was ordered to buy at a certain price on condition that the bulk agreed with the sample.One would think that it was of some little importance, under such circumstances, to see the sample and compare it with the bulk. That was a very elementary proposition which would command universal consent; but in the purchases made by the War Office it would appear that the authorities never saw the 89 samples at all except in one case out of the six brands ordered. There were six different brands of flour purchased, and in only one instance was the sample submitted to tire Director of Contracts, or the Director of Supplies and Transports, and in that case the sample consisted of a very few ounces which had been so kept and kicked about the office that when it was wanted for analysis the chemist said it was altogether unfit for the purpose. No other sample of the remaining four consignments was examined by the War Office officials. More samples were said to have been taken, but they were not submitted to the War Office, and when they were wanted for purposes of comparison with the flour which turned out to be bad they were not forthcoming. He was told that in purchasing flour it was most important to analyze it in order to ascertain what percentage of moisture it contained. Mr. Lawson, the Assistant Director of Supplies, told the Committee that that course was not pursued in this case, and that there had been no analysis made or estimate taken in order to ascertain what per centage of moisture there was in the flour sent in. A certificate, however, was given which was to the effect that the flour was in good condition when shipped; but, as a matter of fact, that certificate was not from any Government official, but from persons employed in the docks who were employés of the Dock Company. The Government broker who bought the flour was, as he had said, paid by commission; but there was no stipulation whatever with him that he should not purchase his own goods. It appeared that in this case he was not an importer of flour, and, therefore, it was possible that such a stipulation might have been unnecessary; but there was an importer of oats on commission for the Government who was in a very different position, and there was nothing to prevent that broker from buying his own oats at the market price and getting the Government commission for purchasing them. He was told that there was nothing to prevent an individual in that position from obtaining a commission as seller as well as buyer. In no case was the transaction conducted in a businesslike way or in such a way as an important Government contract ought to be carried out. He was told that the loss 90 in this instance had not been very great, as the Government had managed to make a good sale of the starch into which the flour was converted in Egypt. But when the difficulty was to get through the work of furnishing supplies for the Army as rapidly as possible, surely that was not a time for exporting flour from England for the purpose of converting it into starch in Egypt. The direct loss in money, besides what was realized from the flour afterwards, might be considered also in conjunction with, the freight, and the good flour on the spot that was lost in trying to mix it with the bad flour imported; and, in this case, there had been a direct loss upon this particular item of the sum by which he proposed to move the reduction of the Vote—namely, £10,000. He made the Government a present of the freight. All this business was simply the result of blundering, and blundering of the grossest kind. The Navy had sent out a quantity of flour by way of testing it, and it answered perfectly well. Moreover, Australian flour was sent out, and it also kept well in the Egyptian climate. The blundering was of the most unmitigated kind; but, notwithstanding all the exposure about Egypt, the same broker had been employed to conduct their contracts for the Soudan. In regard to the hay, a contractor at Liverpool contracted for upwards of 2,000 tons of hay, and received for it upwards of £20,000 sterling. There were differents contracts entered into at short intervals at different prices, and there was a great diversify of evidence between the Director of Contracts and the Director of Supplies and Transports as to who was responsible for the contracts. The Director of Contracts claimed that he was only responsible for one contract, and that, with regard to the other contracts, the Department of Supplies and Transports entered into them, and not himself. Evidence was given that, with regard to the first contract, which was to be for prime upland hay, no stipulation as to its age was made. The words "old hay" did not appear in the contract at all. There was a lame explanation of the omission; but it was admitted that the proper thing to have inserted would have been the word "old," especially as the dispute afterwards arose on that particular point. The hay was inspected by a Commissa- 91 riat officer; but it was not inspected by a Commissariat officer appointed by the Department, but by one appointed by the General Officer of the district. The Commissariat officer of the Department was at the time occupied with duties at Chester which took up his entire time. That officer had been obliged to work Saturdays and Sundays, early and late, and even then was only able to make one or two perfunctory visits to the place where the hay was to be compressed and delivered. That officer, although not an officer of the Commissariat Department, was in constant communication with the Director of Supplies and Transports. The price of the hay was high; most of it was bought at £9 per ton. It was felt that that price required some justification, and the Director of Contracts and the Director of Supplies and Transports were asked how it was that they accounted for the price. The answer was that it was very easy to account for it, because as fast as the hay was bought it was taken away to be pressed, and was delivered pressed, the cost of pressing being set down at £2 a-ton. It was said that 30s. per ton at least would have to be allowed as a general charge for pressing; but it so happened that fault was found with the way in which this particular hay was pressed, and some evidence was taken as to the cost of pressing it in a perpetual hay-pressing machine. The Woolwich authorities sent up a tabulated statement of the cost which would have been incurred by adopting that plan, and, instead of amounting to 30s. a-ton, it was found to be only 4s. a-ton when done by a perpetual hay-pressing machine. Mr. Cousins—the contractor who sold the bay to the Government—stated that it was purchased from 100 different sources; but out of all the Reports upon it which came before the Committee there was only one that was favourable. One portion appeared to have been good, and was approved of; but the rest was condemned in the strongest and most unqualified terms by everyone who gave evidence in regard to it. If it were necessary, he would quote what the different officers had stated on the subject; what the Commissariat General said; what a subsequent Commissariat General said; what all the Assistant Commissariat Generals said; how it was criticized by the principal Veterinary officers; and 92 also the opinion of Cavalry officers and others, who gave a written or verbal opinion upon the subject. To make the matter short, he might say that there was no question, from the evidence given before the Committee, that the hay was, to a very large extent, mildewed, rotten, full of rushes, and moss, and lowland meadow grasses. 500 tons of the hay were condemned at Liverpool and sold at a great loss, so utterly unfit was it for service even at home. A quantity of it was used as forage for mules. That did not pass through the accounts as having been lost; and other portions were utilized as bedding for horses, some of it having been actually sent out to Egypt as bedding, although the straw of that country could be obtained for very much less money. One thing was perfectly certain—that the whole of this hay, with the single exception of one lot which was favourably reported upon—the whole of this £20,000 worth of hay was entirely unfit for the purpose for which it was bought—namely, for forage for horses; and yet the contractor was complimented for the manner in which he had performed his contract, and he was a gentleman who held Army contracts to the extent of £1,200 per month. There was one point upon which he—the Army contractor—and Mr. Nepean differed. Mr. Cousins stated—"That at a recent interview he had had with Mr. Nepean, that gentleman had complimented and defended him." But Mr. Nepean denied that anything of the kind had occurred. The late Surveyor General of the Ordnance (Mr. Brand) told them the other night that he had from the first admitted that the flour was bad, and that the hay was bad. If such an admission was present in the mind of the hon. Member he had certainly managed to conceal it to a considerable extent. During the evidence given before the Committee every attempt was made to defend the contracts until a very late period in the investigation. The Committee were told that the hay had been packed in wet weather, and a table was sent in showing the number of wet days which occurred at Liverpool while the hay was been compressed. They were told that the hay had been deteriorated in consequence of its exposure to the Egyptian climate; and it was only under the pressure of cross-examination that the Committee 93 were able to obtain an admission that the wet weather in England and the dry weather in Egypt could not account for rushes, moss, and lowland meadow grasses forming so large a portion of the hay. They were told that no steps had been taken for the recovery of the £20,000 which had been paid to the man who had sent in rubbishing materials that were not at all in accordance with his contract. They were told that it was not until a comparatively late period that the officials obtained any knowledge of the matter; that when the disclosures came out before the Committee the matter was looked into, and that it had been resolved to await the result of the Committee's Report. As a matter of fact, the Committee never did report; but, on the contrary, their inquiry was burked. They were now told that Mr. Cousins had been struck off the list of contractors; but that could only have been a month or two before he gave evidence at the very latest. Up to that time he had been enjoying permanent contracts to the tune of £1,200 a-month. He (Dr. Cameron) wished to know whether anything further was to be done? It appeared to him that there could not be the smallest doubt that the hay was not up to the contract. It was not prime upland hay of the best quality; and it appeared to him that it was the duty of the Government, under such circumstances, to bring an action against the contractor for the recovery of the money which had been paid to him under false pretences. The true facts of the case would then be brought out in all their nakedness, and the whole transaction would be then exposed, as in Toomer's case, and in the case of the York contractor. He believed that this was a very much worse case than that of Toomer, or of the York contractor, in both of which the Government had instituted an inquiry. There was no question about the villainous quality of the hay supplied as prime upland hay; and he would ask the Committee not to inflict the loss of £20,000, incurred by this transaction, on the country until at least some attempt was made to make the contractor orefund the money which he had wrongfully received.
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. GUY DAWNAY)
said, that some of the cases to which reference had been made could not be gone into. 94 One case was still sub judice, and therefore it would be improper to give an opinion upon it; and another—the case of Toomer—had already been decided, and decided against the War Office, in the Westminster County Court. In the latter case, the hay was not rejected as bad, but because it was required for a particular purpose for which it was not fitted. There was a considerable amount of clover in the hay, which prevented its being used for pressing; while, in the second place, the majority of the bales were of the wrong size and shape, and would not fit the pressing machine. The Government, therefore, refused to take it, and it became necessary to issue fresh tenders for hay. During the interval the market price had gone up considerably, and that which was purchased to replace the hay returned was bought at a considerably enhanced price. As regarded the hay and flour sent out to Egypt in 1882, and to which reference had again been made, he was still of the same opinion as that which he had expressed some weeks ago—that both the hay and the flour were bad. There could be no doubt that both were of an inferior quality and unfit to be used. The loss, however, was not in reality so great as the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) supposed. The quantity of hay sent out from liverpool during the Egyptian War was 978 tons, and of that amount over 400 tons had to be used for purposes other than of forage, entailing a loss upon the country of £8,200. The real cause of this loss was the inadequacy of the inspection. Unfortunately it was impossible for one Commissariat officer to travel through an enormous extent of country in order to inspect the hay in every instance, and to see that the article thus inspected was that which was actually compressed afterwards and sent. If they wished to prevent such regrettable incidents, in the future, the only remedy that he could see was to augment the number of the officers of the Commissariat Department. As to the flour, the loss entailed upon the country was much less than the hon. Member for Glasgow had mentioned. The absolute loss in the difference of price at which the flour was bought and sold did not exceed £6,000; but the fact still remained that the country had sustained injury in consequence of the inferiority of the flour sent out. 1,945,472 lbs. 95 of flour were sent out to Egypt, and of that quantity 1,349,390 lbs. were proved to be of inferior quality, and could only be utilized for starch. It had been shown that it was a mistake to suppose that because flour was good in one part of Africa it was bound to be good in another. He could only attribute the fact that such views had ever been entertained to the geographical ignorance which existed upon the subject. He had himself been in both parts of that continent, and it was a mistake to cup-pose that because a certain kind of flour kept satisfactorily in the Transvaal or in Zululand, which was as regarded the coast line a most sub-tropical country, that it would answer equally well in the dry climate of the Suodan. The War Department recognized that errors had been committed, and it "would take the lesson to heart and see that they did not occur again.
§ MR. BRAND
said, it had not been necessary for the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) to quote the evidence given before the Committee, because the hon. Gentleman knew very well that ever since that Committee sat, he (Mr. Brand) had admitted, both to the hon. Member and publicly in that House, that there were cases in which there had been a failure on the part of the War Department. But when the hon. Member spoke of the hay and flour, a distinction ought to be drawn. The first consignment of flour was the only lot about which complaint could be made; and in the case of the hay, only one consignment went bad—namely, a consignment bought at Liverpool, and no part of it was ever delivered to the troops during the campaign. He, therefore, wished to make these two reservations because they were facts. No doubt, a portion of the flour sent from this country went bad; but there was flour at hand to serve the purposes for which it was required, and some of the officers connected with the Expeditionary Force were of opinion that after the experience they had now gained it was impossible for any flour, sent out by ship to Egypt, to be delivered in that country in a good condition, and that it would be necessary, in future, to have recourse to local supplies. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow had gone into the case placed before the Select Committee in regard to the manner, mode, and method in 96 which the flour was purchased. He (Mr. Brand) was speaking in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith), who, he thought, would corroborate what he said from his own knowledge—namely, that the flour purchased by the War Department, and consigned to Egypt, was purchased in the same way that all such purchases were conducted, in the City, for foreign countries. It was the custom to employ brokers of well known respectability who possessed a good name in the City, and to buy by sample. He admitted that, as far as possible, it was desirable to follow the sample and to examine some portion of the bulk in order to see whether it was the Fame as the sample. Still, it was out of the question to do that in every instance; and, on the whole, the best plan was to trust to the high character of the men they employed, and in that way to act upon the system adopted by the leading commercial firms in the City. His hon. Friend had not been quite correct in his statement with regard to the loss upon the Army flour; but he did not wish to make any particular point of it. He believed, however, that the loss had been £6,000, instead of £10,000 as stated by his hon. Friend. He would, however, pass by that subject with the single remark that they had now heard quite enough upon the question of the the flour sent out to Egypt during the war. He would like, however, to say a few words on the other question—namely, that of the hay. As to the supply of hay, he had to point out that there was nothing more difficult than to supply an Expeditionary Force sent out from this country with that article. After hearing the evidence given before the Select Committee, he had come to the conclusion that it would be impossible for the War Department to trust, in any way, to contractors for its supply, and the only way to meet the difficulty would be by extending the Government depÔts for the purchase and storage and pressing of hay. It was desirable that they should get out of the system adopted at Woolwich, and have places for pressing hay in different parts of the country, and for developing, if possible, the supply at certain centres. The hon. Member for Glasgow had strongly condemned the late Government for having foreborne to prosecute a particular contractor. Now, that case 97 had occupied his attention, more especially after the evidence given before the Committee. He had inquired into it carefully, and he would tell the hon. Gentleman that if, by any possible means, he could have seen his way to recommend the Secretary of State to prosecute the contractor he would have done so. He thought the hon. Member would fully believe that statement when he remembered that under the same Administration there had been the prosecution now going on at York, which he hoped would do a great deal of good in these matters, and there had also been the prosecution of the man Toomer. In point of fact, their reason for not taking proceedings in the other case was that they found they had no legal case against the contractor. The contractor had delivered the hay, according to his contract, to this extent. There was a clause in the contract which declared that the hay was to be subjected to the inspection of a Commissariat officer, and that it was to be passed by him. This hay was inspected by the Commissariat officer and was passed by him, and there could be no manner of doubt that if the War Department had prosecuted the contractor they would not have been able to have obtained a verdict. He would pass from this matter, and would merely refer, in a few words, to the case of Toomer, which had been mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. The facts of the case were these. The hon. Gentleman had addressed one or two questions to him upon the subject, and he had informed him privately to advise Toomer to defend his case in Court, so that any allegation he was said to have made as to fraud or bribery in regard to any person whatsoever might be exposed. The hay supplied by Toomer was not according to contract, and it was accordingly rejected. The Department then purchased as against the contract with Toomer, and as the contractor refused to pay the difference an action was brought against him. Toomer defended the case. The hon. Gentleman said that the verdict went against the War Office. No doubt that was so; but it did not prove that the verdict was right, and, in his (Mr. Brand's) opinion, the verdict was against the facts of the case.
§ MR. BRAND
said, his only object in mentioning the case was to point out the 98 difficulties in which the War Department were placed in endeavouring to secure good supplies for the troops. They had rejected this supply because it was not according to contract, and because the hay was not of proper size; but the verdict was against them, and the jury evidently thought that, whether it was of proper size or not, the War Office ought to have taken it. The facts in regard to the purchase were these, and he would give them to the Committee as concisely as he could. On the 7th of March, in the present year, a contract was completed for 200 tons of hay with one firm, and for 250 tons of hay with two other firms. The hay came in very slowly, and as there was great pressure for a supply, Toomer was asked to send in a tender for 300 tons. On the 10th of March there were only 18 tons in store, and very great pressure was being used to procure a further supply on account of the Expedition to the Soudan. Toomer was pressed for 50 tons to go on with, and those were the 50 tons the hon. Gentleman had alluded to. They might have been bought under a verbal contract under pressure; but the contract was accepted and passed. On the 13th of March 114 tons were contracted for at 121s. per ton, and other tenders were accepted for 100 tons at 127s. per ton, 200 at 132s. per ton, and 100 at 137s. per ton. He quite admitted that the market price was 105s. 6d.; but the Government were obliged to accept the higher terms on account of the emergency of the case, the difficulties they were under, and the great, pressure that existed for a supply. Unfortunately, the authorities at Woolwich were in the hands of a limited number of contractors; and all he could say in regard to this and the other cases quoted by the hon. Gentleman was that the only remedy was to keep out of that limited area of supply, and to establish further Government depÔts. He believed that at the time the contract was entered into with Toomer the War Office did the best thing they could under the circumstances, and it was not their fault if the hay supplied was of an inferior quality. They had prosecuted the contractor for his default, and he held that the verdict given by the jury in the case was entirely wrong.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he was not quite satisfied with the explanation which had 99 just been given by his hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand). So far as the explanation of the hon. Gentleman the present Surveyor General of Ordnance (Mr. Guy Dawnay) was concerned, he would only say that it tended to support the contention of his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron). The hon. Gentleman, to a certain extent, disclaimed any responsibility for transactions which occurred before the advent of the present Government; and, therefore, it was natural for his hon. Friend who had just spoken to offer an explanation on behalf of the late Government, who were responsible in these particular cases. He thought they should dismiss altogether the question as to the amount of loss; whether it might have been £5,000, £6,000, or £10,000. The question rather was, who was responsible for the loss? because he believed the circumstances to which his hon. Friend alluded, and which would be fully in the recollection of the Joint Committee on which both he and the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Guy Dawnay) had sat—he believed those circumstances pointed to the unsatisfactory mode in which the Government Business was carried on in regard to supply and demand in connection with the requirements of the Public Departments. It might be a popular delusion, but he could say that it was a delusion most generally shared in, that in regard to a very large class of these contracts there were means taken by corruption to secure advantages at the expense of the country. He believed that there had been a number of instances in the transactions which had taken place in which goods had been accepted and sent out which were afterwards found to be of inferior quality. No such transactions could possibly take place in connection with any private administration. Why was it that these things occurred? The fact was that the Government had a number of officials, who, he was afraid, in some cases, allowed themselves to be tampered with in connection with these contracts. His hon. Friend (Mr. Guy Dawnay) had alluded to the question of flour. In the first instance, he supposed his hon. Friend assumed that there had been no blame in regard to that flour. [Mr. GUY DAWNAY dissented.] His hon. Friend shook his head, but he said that the flour was bought upon 100 certain samples, and was sent out. It was admitted that it was badly sent out; but it was asserted that it was not the flour that was at fault, but the conditions of climate and transport which led to the injury rather than the badness of the flour. Was that so or not? Was it a fact that this particular flour was sent out under such conditions of climate and transport as necessarily to render it unfit to be used when it reached its destination? He understood that American and Australian flour, which had been sent out under the same conditions, was found fit to be used, and that assertion had not been contradicted. He had, therefore, the greatest doubt as to the correctness of the belief of the hon. Gentleman that it was impossible to send out flour to those hot climates without exposing it to the risk of destruction.
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. GUY DAWNAY)
said, what he had stated was this—that the brands of flour sent out to Egypt were brands grown in a moist climate, which were bound to go bad when they were sent over for use in a very hot and dry climate. Any flour grown in America under the same conditions, if sent out to Egypt, in the same way, would also go bad, and was bound to go bad.
§ MR. RYLANDS
could only say, then, that that kind of flour ought not to be sent out at all, and he could not understand why it was sent. Was the Director of Supplies so ignorant as not to know the kind of flour that would keep in hot climates? He would not say that the information given by the hon. Gentleman was not correct; but why was it that this kind of flour was sent? If a wrong kind of flour was sent out somebody must be responsible. The complaint he made in regard to these Government transactions was that when there were blunders committed and losses incurred the country had to pay for them, and yet it was impossible to put their hand upon anybody who was responsible. He had known cases occur, over and over again, in Government Departments, which in a private administration would have led to the immediate discharge of the offender; but which in these Government Departments only brought about a mild reprimand, probably followed, shortly afterwards, by promotion. He could mention cases which had occurred in the Navy, and in 101 other Departments, in which great loss and great injury had been sustained by the country, and after considerable inquiry blame was attached to a certain individual, but he was let off with a I slight reprimand which was soon forgotten; and not long afterwards the same officer obtained promotion in the Service. As to this flour, after the admission which had been made by the Department, somebody must have been responsible for sending out a description of flour to Egypt which ought to have been known to be unsuited to that particular climate; but, of course, these admissions freed the contractor. He must say that he had been much struck by the statement of his hon. Friend that while in regard to the flour the only condition was that it was to be equal to sample, there was only one sample taken of the whole quantity supplied, and even that was regarded as of so little importance that it was never of any use, and it was found impossible to analyze it when it became necessary to test the quality of the flour, or to ascertain whether it was equal to sample or not. He understood now, from the objection of the Front Benches, that the contractor in this case supplied the flour on condition that he should not be responsible for its going bad. Therefore, the contractor could not be blamed; but he thought that a great reflection was cast upon the Department for having allowed such flour to be sent out at all. If his hon. Friend persisted with his Motion for a reduction of the Vote, he (Mr. Rylands) would certainly vote with him. He now came to the hay, and the supply of hay to the Expeditionary Force was, he must confess, a very unsatisfactory affair altogether. They had a very large quantity of hay to provide, and a contractor was employed by the Government to buy it. As he understood, the contractor bought it from a considerable number of producers, and shipped it; but when it reached Egypt it was found that a very large portion of the hay was bad. This was not the case of one bad parcel of hay supplied by one sub-contractor; but, as he understood, the general quality of the hay supplied by this particular contractor was bad. Then, what was the natural conclusion? The only conclusion was this—that this contractor, when he 102 gathered together from various quarters hay for the purpose of carrying out the Government contract, intentionally gathered it together at low prices, and of inferior quality, and that the Government accepted it at full prices. He dared say that the Government believed, at the time, that the hay was good; but it was admitted now that it was bad. His hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) very properly urged that when the Government found out the condition of the hay, and discovered what was, on the face of it, a fraud, or at any rate a serious breach of contract, it was naturally to be supposed that the Government would have taken proceedings against the contractor in a Court of Law, with a view of recovering payment from the contractor to make good the injury done to the public by the supply of bad articles. His hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) said the Government were of opinion that they had no legal case against the contractor. He wished that his hon. Friend, after having considered the matter carefully, had come to a different conclusion. He wished that he had gone into a Court of Law. At all events, the whole facts of the case would have been laid before the public, and the whole proceedings of the contractor would have come out. It was almost a miracle to suppose that if a man wanted to obtain a banâ fide article in the market, and purchased it from different producers, that every particle of it would have turned out bad unless there had been some fraud in the matter. If the Department had placed the case clearly before a jury, they would have found out how it was that these contractors had been able to palm off this bad hay on the Government. At all events, he should have liked the action to be brought. But then his hon. Friend said that the agent of the Commissariat Department had passed it. What had become of the agent? They had not been told that, and he should very much like to know what had been done with the individual who was responsible for all this bungling. Had he been promoted or had he been discharged? Perhaps he had been retired on full pay, or, as his hon. Friend near him suggested, perhaps he had been pensioned. But there was this point—whenever these things occurred nobody seemed to be 103 punished; and his contention was that the proper course for the Government to pursue when any great public loss or injury had arisen either from neglect or inefficiency on the part of a Government official—not to put it on any worse ground—was to discharge that Government official. He would deal with Government officials in just the same way as, under similar circumstances, officials in private Companies would be dealt with. If the Government did not do that, they would never get clean-handed officials, and never get efficient administration. He believed his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow had done an admirable service in bringing these cases before the House with such ability. He (Mr. Rylands) said that the manner in which these great spending Departments were administered must necessarily lead to the loss of millions in the course of a year, owing to maladministration, wasteful expenditure, and the existence of a system of which he believed the great body of the people of the country had not the slightest conception. When they voted large sums of money year after year, they naturally expected that those sums of money were expended to the best advantage; but he believed they would learn some day that they were not spent to the best advantage—that there was a great deal of blundering in the Public Services under a system which could only lead to public loss. He believed that the time would come when the present system would not be allowed to continue, and when it would be demanded that if public servants did not do their duty the Department should take care that they did not remain in the Public Service.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he thought that the debate had shown such a want of competence on the part of the officials of the Department as to create great fear with regard to any similar Expedition that might in future leave these shores. With regard to the contract for flour, the purchase seemed to have been brought about in a sufficiently business way; but the mistake was that the person who ordered the flour did not know what kind of flour ought to be ordered. But he understood that the special qualities of flour for exportation were well known; and, that being so, the War Office might have inquired at the Admiralty as to the 104 proper kind of flour for the purpose of the Expedition. He did not think that flour could be purchased in any better way than through a respectable broker in the City, which was the usual way of doing the business; but he thought that the War Office ought to have made absolutely certain of the quality of all the stores before they left; it was too late to find out that they were unsuitable after they had left the country. He thought that the authorities should take measures, by means of their own servants, to satisfy themselves that the stores were of the proper description, and suitable for the purpose for which they were required. Then with respect to the hay. The hon. Gentleman who had spoken on this question from the Treasury Bench (Mr. Guy Dawnay) had told the Committee that an officer had been ordered to examine the hay and that he found it impracticable to do so. He (Mr. Barclay) understood that the hay was all pressed at one place, and what any business man would have done would be to send to the pressing establishment a competent and trustworthy man—a man who knew about hay—to examine it at the time the pressing was going on. There was no difficulty about seeing the quality of hay when it was being pressed. It practically amounted to this—that a contract was entered into for hay; that the hay was never inspected; that it was taken on the nominal certificate of an officer who said he had not time to inspect it and discharge the duties entrusted to him. He thought that indicated gross neglect on the part of the War Office, who ought to have taken measures to have the hay inspected before it was shipped. Again, it was absurd to enter into a contract for hay, and take delivery without ascertaining that it was in good order and condition. The clear duty of the War Office in this case was to satisfy themselves, at the time of delivery, that the hay was of the quality contracted for. He was told also that the Government paid 135s. for hay which was sold in the market at 105s. To anyone who knew anything about hay he was afraid that would seem very absurd, because a very much loss price than 135s. would bring hay from all parts of the country to Woolwich. The difficulty was that the Government could not get a sufficient number of contractors who would submit to 105 do what it was understood was necessary in order to get War Office contracts; that was the familiar explanation of the reason why the War Office could not get contractors to come forward in sufficient numbers. He said that these contracts should be advertised throughout the country, and that it should be understood that the Government would take hay from all subject to strict examination. If that were done he had no doubt that the Government would get any quantity of hay that they wanted; because the difficulty that existed in the minds of the contractors was as to whether there would be fair play and justice on the part of the Government Department when they came to make delivery of their goods. If the hon. Gentleman would devote his attention to this part of the subject he would inspire hay dealers throughout the country with the feeling that there would only be straight dealing; and then he was convinced that there would be no difficulty whatever in the War Department getting all the supply of good hay which they might require, and that at a reasonable price.
§ MR. BRAND
said, the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay) had stated with regard to the hay bought at Liverpool that it was passed by the Commissariat officer, and that that officer had stated that he could not inspect the hay. He (Mr. Brand) was able to say that that officer had represented that he could not do the work; that he was overworked; and that the War Office instructed another officer in the district to give him some assistance.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he thought it would simplify matters very much if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Brand) would state that some officer authorized by the authorities in the district was present during the time that the hay was being pressed at Liverpool, and that he certified that the hay was of satisfactory quality.
§ MR. GOURLEY
said, they had to deal with two complaints, one with regard to the bad hay and the other with regard to the unsound flour that had been sent out to the Soudan. No one would say that any Department of the War Office should be held responsible, other than the Secretary of State or the Duke of Cambridge, for sending out that bad 106 hay and flour. It had been stated that the hay was extra pressed in Liverpool. He (Mr. Gourley) believed that the hay that was sent was in all probability Dutch, which cost about £3 10s. a-ton. It would thus be perceived by the Committee that the contractor could in that way, if he liked, rob the country of something like £3 a-ton, the difference between the price of the hay and what the War Office paid for it. He thought that the proposal of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) was a very reasonable one—namely, that the present officials, instead of following in the steps of their Predecessors, should bring an action against the contractors who supplied hay of a quality totally different from that which they agreed to supply. Then, with regard to the flour, was the Committee to understand that the War Office did not know what sort of flour was proper to be sent to hot climates? Evidently, this appeared to be the case, the Chiefs knowing about as much as the man in the moon regarding a business for which they were drawing heavy salaries, the reward of political claptrap. The only kind that could be sent with safety was kiln-dried flour, and he hoped that the Commissariat Department of the War Office would bear that in mind.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he had had a great many communications from contractors and others who supplied hay, to the effect that there was a worthy gentleman at Woolwich who was a particular friend of the officials, and somehow or other when the bay was sent in it never gave satisfaction, and the contract was given to some estimable gentleman who was a friend of the individual referred to. That was the story that was told. He did not know whether the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Mr. Guy Dawnay) intended to look into the matter thoroughly; he did not want to make any particular charges; but, from what he gathered from the correspondence he had had with contractors, he was convinced that something ought to be done down at Woolwich. Now, this question of hay had created difficulties in several parts of the country. He believed there was a prosecution going on in connection with it at York, and Quartermasters and others were being taken away from their duties in. consequence. If the hon. Gentleman 107 would go into the subject he had alluded to with regard to Woolwich he believed he would find that great changes might be made there with advantage to the Public Service.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH)
said, that the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), in asking the Government to consent to a diminution of this Vote, placed them in a difficult position. This money was not to be paid for flour and hay in the past, but for hay and other supplies in the future; and, therefore, by putting them to the necessity of dividing against his Amendment, he placed them in a very unsatisfactory position. All he could say was that, as far as it lay in his power, he would endeavour to secure that the business of the Department should be properly done; and he was convinced that his hon. Friend the Surveyor General of Ordnance would spare no exertion to secure that any irregularities that had occurred in the past should not be repeated in the future. As to what had been said with regard to Government officials accepting bribes, he was not there to defend particular institutions; and if it was possible to point out a single case of the kind, the hon. Member for Glasgow might be assured that he and his hon. Friend would spare no effort to remove the person against whom an act of the kind could be proved. But his experience of the great majority of public servants was such as to compel him to acknowledge that they served the country efficiently and purely. Reference had been made to the case of the contractor who had delivered hay of a character totally unsuited to the purposes it was intended for, and very much below the quality undertaken to be delivered. Well, the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand), the late Surveyor General of Ordnance, felt that he could not prosecute in this case. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) would look into the subject again, and if his opinion as to the proper course to be taken differed from that of his hon. Friend the Member for Stroud, he was sure he would not object to serve the country by assisting in doing what was necessary. But he hoped the Government would not be pressed to consent to the reduction of the Vote, because, as he had pointed out, it would place them in an awkward position.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had made one or two statements which he was very glad to hear fall from him. The first statement was that he recognized that in this particular contract there was something particularly unsatisfactory. The second statement was that the great body of public servants in the country had shown themselves above suspicion with regard to anything in the nature of corruption. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to say that if, on further consideration, there appeared any likelihood of obtaining satisfaction by action at law, that action should be taken. A legal friend of his, who was present when the case to which reference had been made was going on, had expressed his astonishment to him that such a rotten case should have been taken into Court. He understood that in actions of the kind the most overwhelming case had to be made out. But he said that, injustice to the whole body of Civil servants, the present Minister for War would do well to institute within the limits of his own Office strict inquiries as to who were the officials responsible in this case. It was due to the whole Service, if there were persons connected with it who were implicated in anything like unfair dealing, that they should be punished. It was perfectly obvious that if there had been anything like fraud with regard to this hay there must have been some amount of collusion. Therefore, he thought the House would look for a searching investigation into all the circumstances connected with the contract for, and delivery of, the articles in question. It was well known that persons guilty of delinquencies were sheltered in a manner that was extraordinary. He remembered the case of a high official who embezzled money, and who, instead of being prosecuted, figured on the pension list at the first opportunity. The case was partly investigated, but the man was not removed; the then Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed his opinion that he ought not to have boon on the pension list, but in the dock at the Old Bailey. He (Mr. A. O'Connor) hoped that the present War Minister would leave no stone unturned to discover, no matter whether it was an official or other person, who had been concerned in anything like collusion in this matter; and 109 he hoped also that when that person had been discovered he would be treated as he deserved.
said, after the statement and explanation of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, he would be satisfied in not pressing his Amendment to a division. He was quite certain, whether the right hon. Gentleman gained or lost in any proceedings he might take against the contractors, that the public would think he had done perfectly right in bringing his action. If he would take counsel with his right hon. and learned Friend the Judge Advocate General (Mr. Marriott) he believed that he would possibly put him in the way of recovering from the contractors some portion of this money. They had been told that only one consignment of flour was bad; but he had read that the second consignment was bad also, and that all the flour was in a condition utterly unfit to be used. Attention had been called to the case of the Commissariat officer, who made a nominal inspection; but he trusted that a scapegoat would not be made of that officer, who had assured the Committee that he could not possibly have overtaken his work; that he had done his best; that he had worked night and day, and who had given his evidence in such a way as, without sheltering himself, to make a favourable impression on the Committee. If the right hon. Gentleman was going to look into the matter, let him look into the conduct of those gentlemen connected with the Supply and Transport Department and the Department of the Director of Contracts, who bought six different kinds of flour, and made five consignments of it on a sample contract, and who never saw that the flour was up to sample. If the right hon. Gentleman wanted a scapegoat let him look for him in that direction. They were told that the flour was bought in the usual manner. Why, that was the very thing he protested against. He had not said one word against the military officials at the War Office—he was speaking of the civilian officials. The country, at a great expense, kept up a Commissariat Department at head-quarters, and the Commissary General received £1,500 a-year. In that Department there were men of great experience, men who so to speak had gone through the mill, and who understood 110 the whole business. He complained that the Commissary General had protested against the flour being sent out, and that his protest was of no avail. The country, as he had said, kept a number of gentlemen, the Commissary General, with assistants, at great expense, and their services were not utilized. In war time they were put aside, and the whole duty of providing for the Army was put into the hands of War Office clerks, who put themselves into the hands of the first contractor who presented himself, and who probably knew as little of the special requirements of the case as they did. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would thoroughly look into the whole matter, and thereby perform a great public service.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £801,500, Clothing Establishments, Services, and Supplies.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
desired to call the attention of the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) to the change which took place some years ago in the mode of dealing with soldiers' worn-out clothing. It was a very important change, affecting, as it did, the Army generally and the interests of private soldiers, and the traders in the clothing in particular. He did not know whether the change to which he alluded was brought to the notice of the House by the Secretary of State for War in 1881. He had no doubt it was; but, judging from the statement which the Minister for War generally made in introducing the Estimates, he thought its importance was forgotten. It was the practice formerly for soldiers to be permitted to dispose of their own old clothing. That permission was, he believed, summarily withdrawn, and the whole of the old clothing was disposed of by the War Office. That was a very great change, and if it was not brought before the House in a systematic way at the time it was made it ought to have been. But, whether that were so or not, the time had certainly arrived when public attention should be called to the question, and when the Minister for War, especially a Minister just coming to his duties, should be asked to say whether he was satisfied the change had been made without any prejudicial effects. He (Mr. Sclater-Booth) noticed that in the Vote the Committee was now 111 asked to pass no less a sum than £50,000 was set down as the result of the sale of the old clothing. It was a rather remarkable fact that the same sum was set down last year. He should be glad to know whether that sum represented the net produce of the sales, and whether it was the sum at which there was a contract for the disposal of the whole of this enormous quantity of old stores? If £50,000 was, according to his hypothesis, the measure of the State's gain by the change, it was also the measure of the soldier's loss. If the sum were divided amongst soldiers of the Army quartered in England—he supposed the system did not extend beyond the Channel—each man would receive a substantial amount. There had been many letters in the newspapers from officers calling attention to this matter, which they regarded as a great grievance to the soldier; in fact, in some of the letters published in a most respectable daily paper a year and a-half ago what had been done was spoken of as absolute robbery. He had no doubt that some contingent advantages were given to the soldier at the time to compensate him for the withdrawal of this privilege; but he must say that, if he were a private soldier, he should view with some jealousy the way in which this privilege had been taken from him. But, whether justice was done to the soldier in the first instance or not, some explanation was demanded in the matter. The men who had enlisted since the change had come in, of course, under the new system, therefore they could not complain of any breach of contract; but he was told that the system was unpopular, and that it worked badly, especially in certain regiments. Formerly it was the practice of soldiers to hold over their old uniforms to wear on fatigue duty, or at other times when they were not required to be dressed in their best. He understood that, since the new system came into force, soldiers had been seen performing their fatigue duties in their new uniforms turned inside out for fear they would destroy their clothes. He quite agreed that there were other interests to be consulted in the decision of this question besides that of the private soldier—for example, the interest of the officers of the regiment. He was told that officers complained very much of the want of these second suits of clothes 112 for the soldiers, and that they found the deterioration of the new uniforms so great that they connived at the men keeping back their old articles of clothing, and so, as it were, brought themselves into conflict with the new system. He was told also that the accumulation of old clothing in certain quarters had been so great as to be positively injurious to the health of the men living near the store house, and that the contractors had failed to perform the duties they had undertaken. He was told that officers of standing lamented the change; that they considered it was not only injurious to the appearance and discipline of the regiments, but distinctly contrary to the interests of the men themselves, because the terms of the contracts were such that, although men might be required by the Regulations of the Service, and by the interest of the regiment, to lay out their own money in repairing their clothing, they were, nevertheless, obliged to surrender the clothing to the contractor without receiving anything for what they had done to it. So much for the soldiers and the regiments. Now, with regard to the contractors. The former practice was for the clothing to be sold, under proper regulations, to the persons who collected at the different head-quarters in order to deal in these old stores. Do not let it be said that there was any misappropriation of stores belonging to the Crown, or that these people were carrying on an unlawful trade. Nothing of the sort. The dealers in these stores were encouraged by the then system to establish themselves in the different regimental districts, and they were licensed by the Assistant Adjutant General or some other official to deal in these stores, and the soldiers were only allowed to part with their clothing under certain regulations. He believed it was not alleged that there was any fraud or malpractice under the old system. It was, no doubt, found by Generals commanding important districts that some of the clothing found its way among the lower classes, and was worn in the streets; indeed, he believed it was very much in consequence of the fact that civilians were sometimes seen wearing soldiers' worn-out garments that these old stores were now dealt with in a very much larger way than heretofore. Large contracts were now concluded; but hon. Members had no know- 113 ledge how they were made. Certainly, they were not concluded under any system of public tender, or in a way which was at all satisfactory to the traders, who were encouraged for many years to deal in the stores, and who suddenly found themselves deprived of their business. Take the case of Aldershot. He was informed that no less a sum than £10,000 was kept continually floating in the transactions connected with soldiers' old clothing. The people who had established themselves in that populous place with a view of administering to the wants and profiting by the needs of the soldier population had been, by the fiat of the War Office, ousted from their business. He understood that now the old clothing found its way to the Eastern Counties, and was there converted into shoddy. The War Office and the House could not altogether disregard the feeling of those traders, who had conducted themselves with propriety, and who, owing to a piece of caprice on the part of the War Office, had found themselves ousted from an honourable employment. He should be glad if his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith), or the Surveyor General (Mr. Guy Dawnay), if that Gentleman replied to him, would assure him that this subject should receive his attention, and should be considered, in the light of the experience of the last four years, dispassionately, and with a desire to find out what there was to be said against the change as well as in favour of it. All he asked was that inquiry should be made, and that the soldiers, public, and traders should receive the benefit of it. Some time ago he asked a Question of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) on the subject; but the answer he received was ambiguous and unsatisfactory. It was due to the private soldier that they should know they had not been deprived of a privilege which they had valued; and it was due to the traders in old clothing, many of whom were old Army pensioners, that they should know they had not been ousted from a reasonable and proper employment except for the very best reasons.
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. GUY DAWNAY)
said, he had listened to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sclater-Booth) with considerable surprise, because he did not understand whether the right hon. Gen- 114 tleman had called attention to this subject in the interest of the slop-dealer, of the country, or of the soldiers. He (Mr. Guy Dawnay) was perfectly satisfied that the change of system had worked exceedingly well for the men and for the country. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that under the old system it was the commonest thing in the world for the men to make away with their uniforms—indeed, it was chiefly owing to this fact that the country came to the conclusion that the whole system must be changed. The present system was this—that instead of allowing the slop-dealers to barter with the soldiers for their old clothes, and in many instances get them for a mere song, all the old clothing was got together in store, and then sold to contractors for what came to a very considerable sum of money—£50,000. The soldier did not lose, but directly benefited by the change. Instead of getting what he used to—a few shillings for his worn-out garments—the soldier now got a suit of blue serge, when he first joined as a recruit, a new forage cap annually, and an entirely new suit of civilians' clothes on discharge. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sclater-Booth) said that complaints had been sent in by Commanding Officers. He (Mr. Guy Dawnay) had made some inquiries on the subject, and he had found that the change worked very satisfactorily as regarded the men; he certainly had heard no complaints from Commanding Officers. There was another point the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, but in regard to which he laboured under a mistake. The right hon. Gentleman said it was very hard that the men should have their old clothing taken from them, and be compelled to do fatigue duties in their new uniforms. As a matter of fact, the men were allowed to keep their old uniforms for a year, and use them for fatigue duties. He could not say how long that rule had been in force; but he thought that every soldier in the Army at the present moment thoroughly understood it. In his opinion, the change worked exceedingly well for the Army and for the country.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
said, he cordially agreed with a great deal of what was said by the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Mr. Guy Dawnay). The hon. Gentleman began by saying, how- 115 ever, he did not quite understand the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Sclater-Booth's) speech. He (Lord Eustace Cecil) could not think that anyone in the House was so innocent as that. Personally, he was convinced that his right hon. Friend had every wish to do what was right by the soldier, as well as what was right by the country and the trader. He (Lord Eustace Cecil) was in favour of Free Trade; but he was also in favour of fair trade. Anything that could be fairly done on the part of the War Office for a class of traders like the slop-dealers ought to be done; but he was by no means anxious or willing to sacrifice the true interests of the country in the matter. He, in common with others, was responsible for the introduction of the new system; and he believed it had worked exceedingly well. He entirely agreed with what his hon. Friend the Surveyor General said as to the advantages to the soldier; but he did not think the hon. Gentleman quite stated what the money advantages of the change was, and stress had been laid upon that point. Besides getting a new uniform and certain articles of under-clothing every year, the soldier received a suit of civilian clothes of the value of 30s. on his discharge—that was equal, in the case of an Infantryman and Cavalryman, to 6s. a-year. It was seen, therefore, that, as far as the private soldier was concerned, there was a good deal of misunderstanding out-of-doors. His belief was that the private soldier really did benefit instead of lose by the change. But he was not in a position to say definitely how the matter stood with the trader. His impression was, however, that the smaller traders undoubtedly benefited by the old system. They went into barracks, and made their own bargains with the soldiers—whether good or bad he was not there to say—and they were often able to sell the clothes at a very great advantage. He knew that now there was a monopoly on the part of the big traders in this matter, and that the smaller traders complained very bitterly. If there would be no disadvantage to the Service—and he did not know that there would be—he thought it would be worth his hon. Friend's consideration whether, by holding more frequent sales at various centres, an equal advantage could be 116 given to the small trader as to the large trader. If the present monopoly could be got rid of in some such way as he suggested, he felt sure his right hon. Friend (Mr. Sclater-Booth) would be perfectly satisfied.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he thought his right hon. Friend (Air. Sclater-Booth) had done good service in calling attention to this subject, because he had been the means of it being made clear that the soldier did materially benefit by the change. With regard to the second point the right hon. Gentleman referred to, he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) agreed with his noble Friend (Lord Eustace Cecil) that if the monopoly could be done away with, and the trade more generally distributed, it should be. But he rose more particularly to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) whether he was determined to preserve red as the colour of the clothing of the Army of this country? He was told that the cotton khakee which had been issued to their soldiers had been a perfect failure. He was told, too, that cotton khakee had been issued instead of serge khakee, to the great detriment of the health of the troops using it. Cotton khakee, he was informed, was very bad material for troops on service, especially abroad. What was wanted was clothing which would absorb the perspiration, which cotton khakee failed to do. He hoped that red serge jackets would be re-issued to their men, because, in his opinion, it would be infinitely better to keep to their old colour than to resort to any other colour. A red jacket might become stained, but it still retained a red mark in it; and whenever a red line was seen advancing it was well known that it was a line of English soldiers. It was the opinion of a large number of officers, who knew most about these things, that red clothing was the very best that they could possibly have for their Army. He mentioned that because, in these times, it was very often found that, unless questions were brought forward very prominently, the country was involved in changes at which it was exceedingly annoyed.
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. GUY DAWNAY)
said, there had been no disposition at any time on the part of the Government to 117 deal unfairly with the small traders. There was no actual monopoly at that moment; but it had been found there were only two firms—one Messrs. Hallett, and the other Messrs. Moses—who had given satisfactory tenders for the old clothing. Last year the clothing was sold to Messrs. Hallett; this year it had been purchased by Messrs. Moses. One great reason why it was to the interest of the country that all the old clothing should be bought by one firm was that no old uniform was allowed to be re-sold in this country. The buyer was obliged to undertake to ship the goods away; and there were not many firms in the country who were in a position to buy this large amount of clothing, and who had such relations with other countries as enabled them to dispose of it. With regard to the observations which had fallen from his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), he had to say that there was no disposition at all to change the colour of the uniform of the Army from the good old British colour of red, except in hot climates. In the last campaign it was decided that, for various reasons, khakee cotton was the best material for hot climates. Since he had been at the War Office he had looked into the question himself, because he confessed he had a strong prejudice in favour of serge instead of cotton. He found that the General Commanding in Egypt and the principal medical officers united in preferring khakee cotton to any other form of material for hot climates, provided that it was worn over flannel. He was not, however, quite satisfied, and should be glad, if it were possible, to make some further trials of khakee serge.
SIR FREDERICK FITZ-WYGRAM
said, he was glad to hear, and he was sure the great body of the officers of the Army would be pleased to find, that it was not intended to give up the old colour of red. It was thoroughly admitted by all military men that the great point was not so much the colour, as the distinction of colour, by which the nationality of an Army was known. He should prefer to see every British soldier wear a red jacket. In war it was absolutely essential that the nationality of each individual soldier should be known at once. The argument against red was 118 that it was more visible than any other colour, and that in these days of proficiency in rifle shooting it was not advisable to make their men more conspicuous targets than they need be. He believed there was a great fallacy in that argument. When a line was advancing at 1,000 yards it was always in skirmishing order, and he thought that however much men were practised in musketry they would shoot at the advancing line and not at any individual. As the line got nearer, of course the men were drawn closer together; when it got to within 600 yards it was so near as to be immaterial whether the colour was red or khakee or any other. For that reason he thought they might safely adhere to red. Now, with regard to the question of serge or cotton. He had been in India a good many years, and he had found that the principal advantage of cotton over serge was that it could be washed as often as was desired. In hot climates men perspired a good deal, and serge would not stand the constant washing which British soldiers required of it. He had always worn serge; but for the reason he had assigned he thought cotton cloth answered better for the private soldier.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £2,227,800, Supply, Manufacture, and Repair of Warlike Stores.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH)
I think it is desirable that I should on this Vote make a statement which my Predecessor (the Marquess of Hartington) promised, in answer to a Question I put to him at an early period of the Session, to make. It is a statement of the expenditure out of the ordinary Estimates, and out of the Vote of Credit for naval armaments, land service armaments, and submarine mine defences. In the early part of the present year an inquiry by a specially qualified Committee was held into the present service method of gun construction. Mr. Leese, of Sir Joseph Whitworth's, Sir William Armstrong, and Captain Noble were added for this purpose to the Ordnance Committee. I have already laid the recommendations of this Committee on the Table of the House, and it will therefore be sufficient at this time to say that the decision of the Committee was wholly favourable to the present method of construction, their re- 119 commendations being directed to certain modifications in the designs calculated to give the guns a larger margin of strength to meet the effects of the slow-burning powders now being introduced. The construction of guns suffered a slight delay pending the result of this inquiry; but it is gratifying to be able to state that a more serious cause of delay which threatened difficulty last year has been entirely removed. Mention has formerly been made of the difficulty of obtaining from the trade large steel ingots for the manufacture of heavy guns. There has been no cessation of effort to cope with this difficulty, which may now be said to have been finally overcome. Excluding Elswick, there are now several firms able to supply the Department. The steel forgings up to the end of 1884–5 have all been received, and no difficulty whatever is anticipated in obtaining those which will be required in the present financial year. All guns ordered for the Navy, up to March 31, 1886, will be ready in time for the ships. The ordinary programme of guns for the Navy includes the completion of three 110-ton breech-loading guns and the manufacture of the following—namely, three 13.5 inch of 66 tons, two 12 inch of 48 tons, five 9.2 inch of 22 tons, 102 6 inch of four tons, 43 5-inch of 40 cwt., 40 4 inch of 25 cwt. The Vote of Credit supplies £50,000 for accelerating naval guns, and also money for the manufacture of 100 additional 5-inch guns and other minor gun services. Forgings have also been ordered on account of the programme of 1886–7, and the contract is out for four 66-ton guns for Her Majesty's ship Howe. The total number of breech-loading guns made or making up to March 31, 1886, will be—three 16.25 inch 110 tons; 12 13.5 inch 63 or 66 tons, 17 12 inch 43 or 48 tons, 31 9.2 inch 18 or 22 tons, 41 8 inch 11 tons, 363 6 inch 89 or 100 cwt., 367 5 inch 36 or 40 cwt., 141 4 inch 22 or 25 cwt.—making a total of 975 breech-loading guns. With regard to machine and quick-firing guns, 400 of different sorts are being prepared on the normal Estimate, and 460 more are ordered under the Vote of Credit. The amount to be spent on the combined Votes, and including machine-gun ammunition, will be £350,000. One hundred and fifty Whitehead torpedoes will be made this year on the ordinary Estimate, 120 and provision is made in the Vote of Credit for buildings and machinery to increase the power of manufacture to 250 per annum. The total expenditure on naval armaments may be classified as follows:—guns, projectiles, &c, normal Vote £668,000, Vote of Credit £450,000; torpedoes—normal Vote £78,000, Vote of Credit £67,000; miscellaneous—normal Vote £104,000, Vote of Credit £50,000; total—normal Vote £850,000, Vote of Credit £567,000, or a total on both Votes of £1,417,000. The ordinary Estimate for land service armaments (including coaling stations) embraces the folio wing guns and mountings:—two 12 inch breech-loaders, nine 10 inch breech-loaders, 16 9.2 inch breech-loaders, seven 6 inch breech-loaders, besides a certain number of regulation muzzle-loading mountings, the guns being already available, and six 12 inch breech-loading mountings. A sum of £25,000 is taken for four batteries of new Field Artillery 12-pounder breech-loaders. The Vote of Credit includes the special purchase of four 8 inch breech-loading guns, and of seven 6 inch breech-loading guns on disappearing carriages from Sir William Armstrong and Company. The great majority of these guns are for coaling stations abroad. Works have already been commenced or their construction ordered at the principal coaling stations—i.e., Aden, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Simon's Bay, Singapore, Trin-comalee—and armaments are in course of manufacture. It is proposed to complete the fortifications of these stations, and of the other principal coaling stations, before dealing with the coaling stations of minor importance. I do not think it would be to the advantage of the public to give the precise details applicable to each station. On this point it will be sufficient for me to say that the works and armaments have been recommended for approval by the authorities who professionally advise the Secretary of State on these matters. Every effort will be made to complete the whole of the fortifications in the time specified—i.e., March 31, 1888. In the meantime, some temporary additions have been made to the armaments at certain stations. The stations at which expenditure has been authorized are Aden, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Simon's Bay, Trincomalee, Hong Kong, St. Helena, 121 Sierra Leone, Singapore, and Mauritius. The main difficulty in providing an efficient system of coast defence by submarine mines is in the organization of the personnel to work them. Stores, buildings, and boats are easily procured if funds are available; but a properly trained corps requires time to organize. It is quite out of the question to expect that the Royal Engineers can provide sufficient men for the mine defence of our numerous ports at home and abroad. The cost of such an organization would be prohibitory, and its establishment would prevent the development of local resources which offer to the regular Services assistance of a most valuable and economical character. It has accordingly been decided to form one division of a coast corps of Royal Engineers for instructional purposes in relation to the submarine mine defence of our commercial ports, and to form in connection with this corps Volunteer Submarine Mining Companies. This system has already been successfully tested by the help of Colonel Palmer, M.P., of the 1st Newcastle and Durham Engineer Volunteers; and it has consequently been decided to form four Volunteer Companies (as an increase to the establishment of the regiments) for the defence of the Tyne, Mersey, Clyde, and Severn—for the Tyne, the 1st Newcastle and Durham Engineer Volunteers; for the Mersey, the 1st Lancashire Engineer Volunteers; for the Clyde, the 1st Lanarkshire Engineer Volunteers; and for the Severn, the 1st Gloucestershire Engineer Volunteers. Detachments of these companies have been sent to Chatham for instruction for a period of 30 days. The officers and non-commissioned officers will be sent for instruction for a period of from 60 to 120 days, receiving the usual allowances. A special efficiency capitation grant of £5, in lieu of the ordinary allowance, will be issued to the company on account of such members as shall be recommended for the same. For each company of Volunteers a special instructor will be furnished by the coast corps of Engineers. It will be seen that this system is capable of expansion. For submarine mine defence the following organization has been approved:—For our military ports at home and abroad there will be 10 companies of Royal Engineers, and four companies of Submarine Mining Militia. In com- 122 mercial ports there will be the nucleus of expansive organization—i.e., one division of the coast corps of the Royal Engineers, and four companies of the Volunteer Engineers. In the coaling stations we have provided one battalion of four companies, to be composed of Malays and other Oriental races, for Hong Kong, Singapore, Trincomalee, Mauritius, and 43 officers and men of the Royal Engineers. Considerable progress has been made in providing stores and depôt buildings for the military ports abroad, and at home efforts are being made to bring them into a condition of preparedness for any emergency that may occur. The principal coaling stations capable of receiving this system of submarine defence are nearly complete as to stores and depôt buildings, while the personnel is in course of organization. So far, I have given the results of the expenditure on the ordinary Estimates; but a further sum has been taken on the Vote of Credit for the provision of buildings and stores for submarine defence. This has been mainly expended on the provision of buildings, stores, and boats for the principal commercial harbours, including a small additional amount for coaling stations, and a sum of £20,000 to supplement the defences of the military ports. Taking the two Votes together—i.e., the normal Vote and the Vote of Credit—the expenditure on submarine mine defence will be as follows:—Buildings, £73,000; labour at certain home ports, £7,000; stores, £116,000; vessels, £52,000; total, £248,000.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH)
I am not able at this moment to give the precise amount; but I will endeavour to give the hon. Gentleman the information subsequently. I propose to follow up the inquiries and proposals of the several Committees which have sat on the defences of the mercantile ports and the arrangements which I have already detailed for the utilization of the Royal Engineers and Engineer Volunteers in the several rivers and ports of the United Kingdom by nominating, in conjunction with my noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton), an officer or officers to prepare a work- 123 ing scheme for each place, by which all the several elements shall be brought into harmonious co-operation, and the defences be made capable of immediate application on any sudden emergency. At the present moment, no one man is responsible for their completeness; and in availing ourselves of the loyal devotedness and energy of Naval and of Engineer Volunteers, it will be necessary to provide for them skilled and responsible direction and assistance from the Regular Forces. I think it right, also, that the Government should take Parliament and the country into their confidence as to the amount of exertion and the expenditure which will be required in the course of the next three or four years in order to provide the matériel for the protection of our coaling stations, the improved defences of the military ports, and the protection of our rivers and harbours at home, which have been found to be necessary. In December last the Earl of Northbrook stated that it was the intention of the Government to ask, in the three years beginning with 1885–6, for an increased provision for the Navy, amounting to £1,600,000, and £825,000 for armaments and works for the protection of coaling stations. Allusion also was then made to a further provision which would be required for the protection of military ports and mercantile harbours; and subsequently, on introducing his Budget, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Childers) referred to a probable large expenditure in future years for these purposes. I think it would be right the Committee should know what has already been provided out of the Votes of Parliament, including the Vote of Credit, and the amount which will have to be included in the Estimates of the next four years, if the proposals which have been accepted and approved by the late Government are carried out. I have already said that the Navy and coaling stations required a sum of £2,425,000 in three years. The Estimate for armament and works for the military ports is £2,230,000, and for the mercantile ports £ 1,770,000; making a total of £6,425,000. Of this £6,425,000, £900,000 has been met out of the Estimates of this year and the Vote of Credit, leaving an abnormal expenditure of £5,525,000 to be provided on Army Estimates within the next four or five years, and in addition a 124 sum of something more than £250,000 would be required to complete the reserve of stores commenced in the Estimates for the present year. This is altogether irrespective of any expenditure for a new small arm which has been under consideration for some years, but as to which no decision has yet been taken. I have thought it right, Sir Arthur Otway, to put the Committee and the country in possession of these facts in order that they may fully and properly understand the Vote which is now under consideration, a Vote which I trust will be accepted as the first and necessary step towards the provision which is required for the safety of the country.
§ MR. O'KELLY
said, the statement which the right hon. Gentleman had just made was, from an Irish point of view, exceedingly unsatisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman, acting on behalf of the Government, showed a great desire to protect the foreign coaling stations; but he made no provision to protect the Irish towns which were also exposed to attack. In case of war—the only case in which the protection of the coaling stations would become a pressing necessity—nearly all the Irish towns would be practically undefended; and, so far as he gathered, no steps were to be taken to put them in a state of defence. The proposition which the right hon. Gentleman had made with regard to the establishment of a Volunteer Engineer Corps for the defence of towns would be peculiarly applicable to a great many of the Irish towns. Take, for instance, Waterford, Cork, Dublin, Derry and Belfast. Those were towns which, from their situation, could be defended with some chance of success by Volunteer Corps, especially if they used torpedoes. It was very desirable, from an Irish point of view, that the Government should take into serious consideration the desirability of placing Ireland in an equal position as regarded defence as England and the outlying Colonies. The Irish towns were just as important to the Irish people as the English towns were to the English people. The Irish people had to contribute to the defences of the Empire, and therefore they had a right to claim that they should be put upon a footing which would enable them in case of war to protect themselves. At present, Derry, Belfast, Galway, Limerick, and Dublin 125 were completely open to attack. There were no fortifications at any of those towns that could resist a single modern ship of war for an hour. Again, in Ireland there were no Volunteers. The proposition that was now making was that corps should be established in England to act with the Regular Army in the defence of the ports. He could not understand why the men of Ireland should be prevented from joining in such a Volunteer movement. It would not be a very extensive movement, being one con6ned simply to the defence of ports. That his countrymen should be allowed to form those corps was all he asked for the moment. Whether the English would allow the Irish to arm, as they were arming themselves, was a wider question. He certainly could not see why the Government should refuse them the power of organizing Engineer Volunteers for the defence of their ports. The establishment of such corps could not possibly endanger the connection between the two countries. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith), or some other Member of the Government, would give an undertaking that the interests of Ireland would not be neglected in this matter, at least, of the defence of the ports.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. O'Kelly) that as much attention should be paid to the defence of the Irish towns as to the English towns; indeed, he firmly believed his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) had got the Irish towns in view just as much as any other towns. Of course, as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. O'Kelly) had said, the arming of Volunteers in Ireland was a wider and different question, and could never be done in a hurry, but required most careful and anxious consideration. The formation of corps for engineer and torpedo service was another question altogether, to which he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would give his serious consideration. He congratulated his right hon. Friend upon the statement which he had just made, because it was not only a very statesmanlike statement, but it showed that he had carefully considered the great need of the country in regard to defences. The right hon. Gentleman was not only prepared to improve the defences of the home coun- 126 try, and there was no doubt they were greatly in need of improvement; but he was determined that their coaling stations abroad, which were now more exposed than others, should be armed and fortified in a manner which was absolutely necessary for their safety. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that a sum of £6,425,000 would be necessary to carry out the works proposed, and that it was intended to spread the raising of that amount over several years. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) was persuaded that the nation was now fully alive to the necessity of improved defences, and for the expenditure which was now proposed. It was not for him to say how it was to be carried out; but he was satisfied that now the attention of the country had been called to these matters it, would never forgive any Government that neglected to carry out its wishes, and he was sure that any Government, in following the national will, would be studying the best interests of the country. With reference to heavy ordnance, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that a very large number of breech-loading guns were required for the Navy; and he wished to ask whether, considering the great outlay that was to be made, and the great number of guns which were to be made both for the Army and the Navy, the time had not come when those two Departments should be separated, and when, the Navy should manufacture its own guns? It would appear that the result of the present system must necessarily be that one Department would keep all the best of the guns for itself. He would say nothing as to that, however; but it would be well for the Government to consider whether the time had not now come when some change should be made. At the end of his right hon. Friend's speech he stated that there were a certain number of Field Artillery batteries which had got new 12-pounder breech-loading guns—he stated that there would be seven batteries of those guns completed by the end of the year. Now, he should like to know from his hon. Friend the Surveyor General of the Ordnance (Mr. Guy Dawnay), when he got up, what he thought of that gun. He had heard that tills was the best gun in the world, and he would like to hear on whose authority that was stated. He could only say that in this country their 127 artillery ought to be supplied with the very best gun procurable; and if this one was the best, he hoped that all their Horse Artillery would be supplied with it at once. There was another point which had been mentioned in regard to the military rifle, and upon which he should like to say a word. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was nothing needed in regard to a new rifle. He understood that there was a new rifle—or rather an improvement on the Martini-Henry—and he should like to know whether this new Martini-Henry, with its improvements, was to be the new rifle; and, if so, whether anything had been done to test the value of the new improvements? If it was the intention to issue the old Martini with improvements, he should be glad to hear whether the spiral spring in the locks would continue to be used. He was always opposed to the spiral spring. No other rifle had it, and it was not used in any of the old rifles. He was desirous of knowing whether anything had been done or not in this matter. If the hon. Gentleman said that nothing was settled, and that they were to have no new rifle at present, he would remain satisfied, and would have no further questions to ask. There was just one other matter which he wished to call attention to. On the Public Accounts Committee they had had a question raised several times in regard to the valuation of stores, and especially of the stores at Woolwich and elsewhere. In the Report rendered to the Accounts Committee he found that they had charges of this kind—"Accoutrements, Pioneers' Appliances, and Tools, £254,708;" "Small Arms and Armourers' Tools, £1,770,105;" "Camp and Field Equipment and Intrenching and Earth-boring Tools, £684,199." Now, he should like to know what use such statements as those were? They told them nothing. They told them absolutely nothing as to the number and description of rifles or other things that they had in store. Then there was another item—"Ordnance and Ordnance Tools, £7,994,602." Now, he would like particularly to call the attention of the Surveyor General of Ordnance to that item. What on earth could anyone find out from it? Nobody knew what guns they had in store, what condition they were in, or whether they 128 were of light calibre or not. What he wanted to know was, whether anything had been done in reference to the suggestions which had been made by the Public Accounts Committee? And he wished particularly to call attention to four paragraphs they had inserted in their Report on the 15th of July, 1885, as follows:—Paragraph 86. Your Committee observe that an estimate of the value of stores in reserve depots has been given on page 17fi of the Army Appropriation Account submitted to them. This statement is not in itself sufficient, and, although forming the foundation of a store audit, has not been checked or examined by the Comptroller and Auditor General.Paragraph 87. Many points arise with respect to the store audit; for instance, the market value, the quantity, the quality, and the adaptability for present requirements of the stores under examination; and this point should not be lost sight of, even although in each particular a full investigation and Report may be difficult.Paragraph 88. Your Committee would suggest that the quantities of the particular articles in store should be specified, especially as regards ordnance, rifles, and other important stores.Paragraph 89. Your Committee are glad to observe that so far steps have been taken to meet the views expressed in paragraphs 123 to 133 of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, 1884. It is to be hoped that some more rapid progress may be made with regard to this important question.Now, he hoped the attention of his right hon. Friend would be given to this point. It was suggested that there might be some good reason for the amounts of the stores not being put down—some political reason why they should not let Foreign Governments know. But he would venture to say that what foreigners wanted to know was not how much powder we had, or how many rifles we had, but how many men we could put in the field. There was no reason why the House should not know how many rifles and how much powder they had in store, so that hon. Members might come down there and see that each successive Government did its duty in keeping up those stores. It was because he was so anxious that those stores should be kept up, and because he believed that a Return of the amounts would do no harm, that he had urged the matter so earnestly that night.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, the statement of the Secretary of State for War was a most interesting 129 one, and he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman upon it. There was one particular point which had for many years attracted his attention, and that was with regard to the armament for the Navy. Now, a great part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was connected with the guns for the Navy, and it seemed to him to be an extraordinary thing that the Secretary of State for War should have to make such a statement in regard to an article of such great importance to another Department. He decidedly objected to one Department being responsible for another on matters of this sort, and thought it would be for the advantage of both Services that the orders for the manufacture of the guns for the Army and Navy should be distinct and be issued by the respective Heads. Another matter which he wished to call attention to was this—that although the right hon. Gentleman had made a general statement of the financial requirements, he had not stated what was the actual amount which was necessary for supplying the armament, ammunition, and stores of the Navy, as apart from the Army; and at present no one could possibly understand what the expenses of the different Departments of the Army were, when all the Estimates for guns, projectiles, and gunpowder were lumped together. He thought it was a great political mistake to allow the Admiralty to shirk the responsibility of being obliged to admit that they had not sufficient guns for the Naval Service. He believed that the present Secretary of State for War was partly converted, to his way of thinking, if he could judge from observations which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman while he was in Opposition. If his suggestion were adopted, each Department—Army and Admiralty—would take the money it wanted for material of all kind, and the House would then have direct control over each Department interested, and thereby enforce the responsibility on the responsible Heads for thorough efficiency; but the present system of producing the Estimates, whereby the Army bore the cost of the Naval armament, was of no use whatever. The War Office would, by the change, be relieved of a great deal of trouble and anxiety, and would be enabled to do their own work much more efficiently than they did at 130 present. He made this appeal very earnestly, because he believed the present Secretary of State for War was nearly convinced of the soundness of the proposed change, and that if he went into the question thoroughly he would come to the conclusion which he (Sir George Balfour) had been advocating for all the years he had been in Parliament.
only wanted to put one or two questions which, no doubt, his hon. Friend the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Mr. Guy Dawnay) would be able to answer. He had heard with considerable pleasure of the intention to form a Volunteer Engineer Force for the defence of their harbours, and he thought that they might be well applied also in Ireland he noticed with regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had not mentioned Cyprus among the coaling stations for which provision was to be made. Now, he held that Cyprus was one of their most important ports, and a great centre of operations; and he earnestly hoped that the Government would take the earliest possible opportunity of providing for the protection of that most valuable coaling station. He hoped the hon. Gentleman the Surveyor General of Ordnance would bring before the Secretary of State for War his opinion, for whatever it was worth, that protection should be given to the coaling station at Cyprus. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had strongly re-commended that the ordnance for the Army and the Navy should be manufactured in separate Departments. Well, he was entirely opposed to that. He had, perhaps, as much experience in these matters as anyone in that House, and he was entirely of opinion that the efficiency of their armaments was due to the fact that they were all manufactured under one Head at Woolwich; and he earnestly trusted that no new arrangement would be made. Faults had been found with the Martini-Henry, and much had been said respecting a new rifle which the late Government had in contemplation. He hoped, however, that that view had been dropped by the present Government, because he believed that the faults found with the Martini-Henry were of a very trivial character; and although, of course, every patentee thought his own weapon the 131 best, the improvements in the new rifle were not of sufficient value to justify a change throughout the Service. It was true that objections had been raised to the Martini-Henry ammunition and to the sticking of the cartridges; but that also, he held, could be easily remedied by a better manufacture of cartridges. In all other respects the Martini-Henry was a good, sound, serviceable weapon. With regard to the spiral spring in the lock, he might say that, before the Committee who had recommended the Martini-Henry 14 years ago, that spring had been put to more tests than almost any other piece of machinery existing before they finally adopted it. The question had arisen as to whether a magazine rifle would not be more suitable for the mounted portions of their Service especially, instead of the ordinary breech-loading rifles. For his part, he thought the experiment was worth a trial. They had not so many men as other countries, and they ought to provide them with the very best possible weapons in order to enable them to do as much execution as they could. Another question was the use of the revolver, practice with which he was exceedingly glad to see was just being promoted at Wimbledon. It was a useful weapon, and he hoped that, having shown its wonderful capabilities at Wimbledon, it would be served out pretty generally in the Army. It might in the first instance be served out to Staff sergeants, as an experiment, or some other steps might be taken to make its use more general.
§ THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF ORDNANCE (Mr. GUY DAWNAY)
said, this was a very important Vote, and many important questions had been raised—questions in which he himself had always taken a very great interest. He was sorry he could not go very fully into them at present; but he desired the Committee to believe that he would deal with them in a more careful and deliberate manner when the occasion came for action. A most important question had been raised with regard to the formation of a Volunteer Engineer Force for the defence of Ireland; but he could only say on that point that the matter should receive the very fullest attention and consideration of the Government. There was another question to which he hoped to be able to give proper attention, and which was a question 132 which struck one at once in considering this particular Vote in the Estimates—that was making the Army Estimates responsible for Naval armaments. It certainly did seem to be an anomaly, and an anomaly that it was difficult to justify; and he could not help admitting that it would be better that the Admiralty should be responsible for, and should supply themselves with, their own armaments. [Captain AYLMER: It is only a question of accounts.] The hon. and gallant Gentleman behind him said it was only a question of accounts; but, in his opinion, it had unfortunately been treated too long as merely a matter of accounts. The hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had made some reference to the new 12-pounder breech-loading gun, and asked that he should state what had been done with regard to it. Well, he believed that he was expressing the unhesitating opinion of all their Artillery officers—and he thought no one in that House would contradict him when he asserted that British Artillery officers were the best in the world—when he said that the new 12-pounder, of which they would have seven batteries ready at the end of the year, was the best field gun ever manufactured. Some batteries, as he said, would be ready by the end of the financial year, and if the money was forthcoming they could provide 11 batteries, or even more, of what was undoubtedly the most powerful field artillery in the world. As regarded the Martini-Henry rifle, it had on many a well-fought field proved itself an excellent weapon, and one which was better than any weapon he had seen in use in Foreign Services. At the same time, he did not think it was incapable of improvement, and the War Office were, at the present moment, considering an improved rifle. The hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex had asked for details as to the improvement; but he could not go into all the particulars. He might say, however, that the action was the same as the Martini-Henry, and it had the same spiral spring in the lock. He knew the objection to a spiral spring; but, as a matter of fact, it had proved no disadvantage in the case of the Martini-Henry. The new rifle was provided with a stock so made as to obviate the inconvenience of the heating of the barrel. The bore 133 was smaller than in the old rifle, and I the bullet much lighter, weighing 385 grains instead of 480, but as the cartridge contained the same quantity of powder as the present pattern of cartridge, this meant an enormous increase of velocity, and a far flatter trajectory at the nearer distance, while it had been found to make excellent shooting also at the long ranges. His hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Aylmer) had asked him if he had given his attention to the magazine rifle, and he might say that it was a question to which he had paid a great deal of attention; but his view was against the adoption of the magazine rifle, at any rate, in the general Service. It might be useful in some branches of the Service, and, no doubt, would be so to the Navy; but until they had some better means of transporting ammunition in the field, it would be useless to give their men magazine rifles. If they could get rid of the smoke made by the powder—if they could get a smokeless powder—then, he thought, they might be able to adopt the magazine rifle. He thought he might say, however, that there was no sort of magazine rifle yet invented which was really efficient. They were very pretty weapons some of them, and might act well enough for sporting purposes; but there was no pattern yet which would be useful as a weapon for general service in the field. With regard to the revolver, he considered that if they could, teach their Cavalry to use it, it would be one of the very best offensive weapons in the world. No one could think more highly of it as a weapon than he did; but those who had tried it admitted that it was the most difficult weapon in the world to use, and he thought, therefore, that everybody would agree with him that, until they had proved more successful in teaching their men to use the rifle properly, it would be useless to arm them with revolvers. He regretted that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) was not now in his place. He had raised a very important question with regard to the amount of stores, and had asked that details might be given as to the amount of stores which the country possessed. That subject had received the serious attention of preceding Governments; but he was not at all sure that the policy of allowing 134 the public entirely behind the scenes in this matter was advisable. He thought the public had a perfect right, however, to know that the equipment of the First Army Corps was always ready, and he thought he might go further even in this direction. He considered that a Committee might be allowed to settle on a certain reserve of stores, below which they should never be allowed to drop, and that the existence of such a minimum reserve might be publicly certified; but he was not prepared to say that the nation would be the gainer in the end by the general publication abroad of the actual amount of all these reserve stores. The Secretary of State for War was in favour of publicity, as far as possible, in regard to public expenditure, and as far as the information was conducive to the interests of the nation it would be given.
§ MR. BRAND
said, it seemed to him, at the time the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite was making his statement, as if it had been suddenly discovered that certain stores were insufficient. He was able to say, however, that that was not so. There was one question referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) which was of great importance. He had strongly advocated that the value of stores should be published every year, and that the House should be informed of the number of rifles, cartridges, &c., in reserve; but, for his part, he thought there would be very great political objection to that course. It amounted to this—that the hon. and gallant Gentleman would relieve the Secretary of State of a great deal of that responsibility which properly devolved upon him. This demand on the part of the hon. and gallant Member was really one to take the Executive duty of keeping up the reserve stores out of the hands of the Secretary of State and place it in those of the House of Commons. With respect to the valuation of stores, which his hon. and gallant Friend proposed, together with the actual price of every set of articles, should be kept from year to year, he believed it would be utterly impossible for any such account to be kept. It would require an enormous establishment, and it would be absolutely necessary to have a very large number of officials to carry out such a process. His 135 hon. and gallant Friend also said that the responsibility for naval armaments should be cast on the Admiralty, and that the cost of such armaments should be shown on the Naval Votes. In his opinion, such a change would be of very great advantage. He had listened to the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton), and he understood him to say that there would be a great difficulty in this, inasmuch as such a change would necessitate a double Arsenal. He (Mr. Brand), however, did not believe that it would necessitate anything of the kind; his opinion was that such a change could be made, and that the Admiralty might treat the War Office just as it treated the contractors with whom, it dealt. He could not help thinking that the advantage of that would be very great. Of course, the statement that had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) was extremely satisfactory to him, because it was really the programme of the late Government, both as regarded armaments, submarine stores, and fortifications. But there was one point which he thought wanted some elucidation. He thought there had been a great deal of what he might call rather wild talk about the defences of the Empire. At a recent meeting in London he noticed that the Mayor of Brighton complained that Brighton was entirely defenceless, at which there were cries of "Shame!" That was an instance of some of the speeches that were being made at the present time. But what would be the cost of defending a place like Brighton? He should say it would not be less than £500,000. But if they were to defend Brighton, why not place in security other towns in the Kingdom, and where were they to draw the line? Leaving out the coaling stations for which provision had been made in this year's Estimates, he thought it right to settle this principle in order to obviate any undue expectations. The question they had to deal with was this—what were the ports of this country the defence of which should be considered of national importance, and what was the cost at which they would be willing to defend those ports? He believed that everyone would agree that the great Naval Dockyards at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Sheerness, 136 Chatham, Devonport, and Woolwich were places the defence of which was of national importance, and that their power of self-defence might be immensely strengthened. The same might be said of the fortresses of Gibraltar, Malta, and Bermuda. He did not mean to say that those fortified places would not in their present condition be able to give a good account of themselves if attacked; but it seemed to him that those fortified places were not fully up to the requirements of the time, and the question was now, seeing that such an advance had been made in the armaments of the country, whether the time had not come when they ought to revise and complete the armaments of those fortresses. Now, with regard to commercial harbours, he wished to say that he looked upon them as being placed in a different category altogether; and, so far as they were concerned, it would be necessary to settle the principle on which it was proposed to act. The question was, which of those commercial ports were to be defended, and at what expense? In his opinion there were only three which, as being ports of immense wealth, and the defence of which was of national importance, should be defended—namely, the Tyne and the Clyde, because they were ports at which ships might be built and fitted out, and also the Mersey, because Liverpool was a great emporium of trade. There was this further advantage with respect to those ports, that they offered in themselves great facilities for defence, which might consequently be carried out at a very moderate expenditure of money. But when he turned to other ports in the Kingdom, he said they were not such of which it could be said that their defence was of great national importance; and that if those towns wished for a defence against bombardment, as an insurance against war risk, they should undertake the cost themselves, and that the duty of the State should be confined to advancing capital to them to be repaid. Then there was another part of the right hon. Gentleman's statement to which he would refer. The right hon. Gentleman had dealt with the progress in naval armaments. There was no question in the days of the late Government which had caused more anxiety than that of naval armaments. He would urge now what he had 137 urged before—namely, that if there had been any delay in providing the Navy with breech-loading guns the mischief was done long before the late Government took Office, and that the late Government did all that was possible to do in pushing on the naval armaments of the country. The facts were perfectly clear with regard to that. Up to 1870 this country was in as good a position as any other with respect to naval armaments. At that time the old breech-loading guns of Continental nations were as obsolete as our old breech-loading guns. After 1875 there came a period of stagnation. He did not blame the Government of the day; but he believed the real truth of the matter was that the advice of professional experts, both military and naval, was distinctly against a change in construction, and that there was hesitation in adopting a breech-loading armament when other nations were adopting it. His belief was that delay was, in a great measure, occasioned by the manner in which Government after Government had encouraged Government manufacture as against private trade. He knew all the arguments that could be adduced in favour of Government manufacture—he would not then state them; but he believed that the advantages of having a private trade which could be rapidly extended, and which would develop the genius of the country, would be of greater advantage than any saving which might be effected by the State in using only State manufacture. He thought the delay arose from the fact that there was a large and costly plant at Woolwich employed in the manufacture of guns, and that there was a prejudice in the minds of the authorities against replacing that plant for the construction if new breech-loading guns. He could say that in 1880, when the late Government took Office, there was not a single breech-loading gun in existence; and the change then made in a few months was not only from muzzle-loading to breech-loading, but from wrought iron to steel. That was plainly stated by he late Secretary of State for War, who said that—With regard to the supply of heavy guns or the Navy, fair progress has been made in he present year. During the present and the last two years we have been undergoing a double transition; first, from the muzzle-loader 138 to the breech-loader; and, in the next, place, in the material, from wrought iron to steel."—(3 Hansard,  119.)Well, that was the point he wished to urge on the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. The late Government had had to contend with great difficulty with regard to patterns and with regard to designs and forgings. They had adopted the policy of encouraging the private trade of the country, and they decided to obtain the heaviest steel forgings from the trade in Sheffield and Manchester. After a considerable period of time they arrived at success in that matter, and there were at that moment four or five firms supplying the Government. When he was at the War Office he informed those firms that if they would put up the expensive plant necessary they would be supported by the Government, and that Government would give them orders for the forgings for the purpose of carrying out these measures. They had done so, and he was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would agree with him that it was necessary to keep the promises made to those firms; and he thought, if necessary, it would be wise to limit the work at Woolwich rather than not keep faith with them. He had only to add that he considered the matter one of great importance, and the main object he had in making these remarks was to urge the right hon. Gentleman to follow the lines adopted by the late Government.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
remarked, that the late Surveyor General of Ordnance (Mr. Brand) had argued that the whole responsibility of the Department should rest with the Secretary of State for War. He had read some Returns showing that there were about 400,000 Martini-Henry rifles in store; but immediately after that he read an article in a scientific magazine, laying it down as a principle that there ought to be 2,000,000 rifles in store. How could the Secretary of State for War be responsible for such a number of weapons? There was, of course, a great discrepancy between the two statements; but if the authorities kept the matter in the dark till the last moment, and then said they had always the Secretary of State for War to fall back upon, he thought that the country was likely to suffer in time of need from the want of rifles. For his 139 own part, he could see no real argument against publicity in the matter of stores. When the public knew how many rifles were in existence, those who were competent to speak on the subject would be able to give advice. He did not think that any Foreign Government would have much trouble in finding out how many arms there were; there would be very little in finding out how many there were in the Tower. The authorities only succeeded in keeping the people of the country in ignorance, while every Foreign War Office knew exactly the position we were in. Our position with regard to torpedoes was kept secret for a little time; but it was now known to every Foreign Government. The same remarks would apply to the publication of drill books. On the whole, he thought the argument was entirely in favour of the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot); and he thought the matter was one with regard to which Ministers should not pay too much attention to the advice they got from their own officers. With regard to the question of breech-loading guns, it seemed to him that neither the late nor the present Surveyor General of Ordnance had said much to show that the armament in that respect was in a satisfactory state; they had confined themselves to saying whose fault it was that there had been delay between 1874 and the time when the late Administration came into Office. He had seen the breech-loading guns of Germany and Russia, which were always long. But the great difficulty was, when the change was made from muzzle-loading to breech-loading guns, there were so many subsidiary changes to be made in respect to carriages and other matters, even the ships themselves—everything had to be changed. He thought that foreign countries were in advance of us in promoting the efficiency of their guns. He thought the Government would be liable to be twitted on every hand if they went more than was necessary outside the Government Departments, for it would be said that they were giving their orders and encouraging the large private establishments for political purposes, because the probabilities were that it would secure the votes of the men employed on the Government orders. He looked on it, he would not 140 say as the worst, but as a most dangerous plan to get private manufacturers to build extensive plant for the purpose of manufacturing for the Government, and then to feel bound to give such private manufacturers large orders. It was said by the Woolwich people that the Government had spent so much money on plant for muzzle-loading that it was ridiculous to allow it to remain idle and useless. Though that might be very near the truth, it was not quite the truth. He did not think there was as much plant required for the manufacture of breech-loading guns as for muzzle-loading guns. He did not believe that boring machinery, turning machinery, hammers, and so forth, however, would have to be very materially altered. One great reason why the officials in the Government factories desired to have an increased amount of work was the feeling of esprit de corps which existed amongst them. There was not an officer employed who ever made 1s. out of the matter, and yet they were all almost as keen in wishing to have large orders given to their Departments as were the private manufacturers. Those large orders meant additional comfort to the workmen, for they had more to do and more pay, and, consequently, more comforts. They were all, in fact, ready and willing to work. The officers were not pecuniarily interested, and yet they were as anxious to receive a large order as were the managers of private firms who made £50,000 at a time out of a large order. The experiments for breech-loading carried out by the Government bad lasted a long time, and the result of adopting the breech-loading principle would have been that they would have had to put their men on half-time for a long period. They had the patterns for muzzle-loaders, so they had gone on making guns of that description. Now that everything was changed, and while they had muzzle-loaders all over the world, it was to the interest of the working man to turn round and say—"We must make breech-loading guns." The desire to have full work on the breech-loading guns was as strong now as had been the desire to continue the manufacture of muzzle-loaders in the past. Those were the two things which had kept England in a totally different position in regard to those matters from the 141 rest of Europe. Another subject he should like to deal with was not so technical—namely, the establishment of a Naval Volunteer Engineer Corps. His hon. Friend (Mr. O'Kelly) had pointed out how serious it would, be if Ireland were not put in the same category as England in those matters. The point was certainly one deserving the careful consideration of the Government and he would commend it to their consideration, because if the English ports were protected by means of mines and torpedoes and the Irish ports were not so protected, the simple result would be that the one class would be protected at the expense of the other. If they were making a new start in the matter of Naval Engineer Volunteering, it was quite time to take seriously into account the necessity of doing something of the kind in Ireland. The Force should be established after the same scale in Ireland as in England.
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
said, he only wished to detain the Committee for one moment by referring to one point in the very interesting Memorandum read to them by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) just now. The Memorandum had been prepared in October last, and the object of it was to instruct the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War as to the lines on which he would be justified in entering on the Estimates the amount to be asked for for the commencement of a plan of coast defence and providing drill sergeants for the local Marine companies. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the personnel would be difficult to obtain, and, no doubt, on the first blush, that would appear so. But they must consider the fact that when this system came into operation they would be able to utilize in connection with it the Militia Artillery and Engineers and the Volunteer Artillery and Engineers. The numbers were—Militia Artillery, 19,630 men; Militia Engineers, 1,449; making a total of Militia for this coast defence of 21,079. Then, if they took the whole force of Artillery and Engineer Volunteers—and the right hon. Gentleman would observe, in connection with this corps, as well as in regard to the Militia, that it was a conspicuous fact that every corps only existed in a county that had a seaboard of its own—they would 142 find, Volunteer Artillery, 44,482 men; Volunteer Engineers, 10,723; making a total for the Volunteers of 55,205. To those might be added the 1,200 Naval Volunteers, giving a total force at present of 77,584 men. As he understood, the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) had announced the other day that he intended to give a capitation grant to the 1,200 Naval Engineers, who would be able to work torpedo boats. When that capitation grant—which would be 30s., in all probability—was given the number of the Force would most likely very conspicuously increase. With the exception of the counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire and the City of London the various corps which composed this Force belonged to coast counties. Those men would be able to give service at any moment in defence of their own coasts, having gone through a certain amount of drill; and they would be willing to receive instruction from the Regular sergeants, who would be their drill instructors. He was sure it would only require this plan to be known to be popular, that local subscriptions would flow in, and that in every way local effort would be found to supplement a comprehensive Government plan of coast defence.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, that he—as, no doubt, others had done—had listened with considerable interest to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War; but he imagined that they would be better able to appreciate it and estimate its full value to-morrow than they were to-day, hearing it for the first time. But one thing he could not help noticing—and he had ventured to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman with regard to it—and that was, that though the figures of his statement had amounted to something like £2,250,000, in addition to a sum of £645,000 which, he understood, it was proposed to spend during the next three or four years, not a single 1d. of that sum was to be spent in Ireland.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he had not gathered from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that there was any prospect of any part of this being spent in Ireland under present circumstances. 143 The right hon. Gentleman had been good enough to say that if in Ireland the Government found themselves offered certain assistance they would be very glad to accept it, and that then a portion of the money would be devoted to Ireland—would be made available for expenditure in that country. But in connection with all these Votes—in connection with the present and other Army Votes which had been taken from time to time the course pursued with regard to Ireland had always been the same. There was, some time ago, an immense Vote of £11,000,000 granted for fortifications. Where did that go? Why, to Great Britain. Let them turn to Votes 6 and 10—where did that money go? Why, to the Dockyards of this country. There was not a single Government Dockyard in Ireland; and only a trifling amount was spent there. Then, look to the present Vote; where did the money under it go to—this £2,250,000? To the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, the Royal Small Arm Factories at Enfield and Birmingham, and the Royal Gunpowder Manufactory. None of it was spent in Ireland. There would, of course, come a day when accounts would have to be settled—it could not be far distant—between Ireland and Great Britain. when it would be necessary to take into account these different Estimates over a long series of years, and when it would be necessary to consider how much had been spent in Ireland in proportion to that which had been drawn from her. He would even now suggest a recast of some of these Estimates, so as to secure for the taxpaying portion of the population something like a fair distribution of their Public Expenditure. Next year the present Government—who, of course, were not responsible for these figures—would have an opportunity of bringing in their own Army Estimates. When they did, he hoped they would see fit to give the people in Ireland something like a fair share of such advantages as resulted from the distribution of public money. They could depend upon it that no such Vote as the present would be passed without considerable resistance. No Votes of this kind, whether Army Votes or Navy Votes, would be passed without most strenuous opposition. There was only one other point he would dwell on, and that was the point raised by the hon. and gallant Gentle- 144 man the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) with regard to the stores. That was a point upon which he had ventured, two or three years ago, to endeavour to attract the attention of the House without, however, meeting with much success he was glad to say that year after year the matter was becoming more scrutinized, and that the Public Accounts Committee were now devoting attention to it, and were requiring information upon it from the Treasury and the War Office. He was satisfied that in the end, and in the judgment of the House, the matter would not be allowed to continue, and that what the Comptroller and Auditor General had declared to be necessary would be done. Reference had been made to the Report of the Public Accounts Committee of last year. In that Report the Committee said—The Treasury view is clearly set forth in reply to Question 1,249, and with that view we are disposed to generally concur—namely, that an order for stores is important,—at present there was no such order at all—and the difficulties connected with it must be fairly faced.The step that was now being taken was, in their opinion, an important step towards the realization of that object—namely, first of all, a careful examination of the supplies, of the estimates, and of the annual accounts as to the Army stores. When that was done, it would be for the Treasury to judge whether it secured sufficient control over Army stores. They thought that when this was carried out, it would give a good opportunity to the Comptroller and Auditor General to express his views as to what should be done to institute an independent audit of such stores. The Committee went on to say that they considered that in the public interest some evidence should be afforded that the quantities and values of the Army and Navy Stores were properly stated from year to year. That was unquestionably a very important point. If he had understood the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War aright, it was necessary to ask for a sum of no less than £200,000 to make up certain deficiencies in the stores. If the Ministry had not informed the House of that fact the House never could have arrived at it. There had been, a depletion of the 145 stores. If the late Government had remained in Office the House generally would have known no more about it than it knew about the excessive expenditure which had occurred in connection with the Navy. The whole thing would have been hushed up. The Comptroller and Auditor General would not have been able to say anything about it, for, as he said, he could not tell whether the authorities did not cover the expenditure by selling old stores. There were acres and acres of land at Woolwich covered with old stores some time ago, and the late Government had not entertained a clear idea as to what they were or what they were worth. But the late Government had been able, after a certain amount of pressure had been put upon them, to furnish what they called a "Valuation Return of Stores;" but that Return was not worth the paper it was written on. It was futile to place before common-sense men figures of that kind, showing that there were stores worth £7,000,000 or £8,000,000. How was that estimate arrived at? No one could state. If it was the regular price of the stores it was worthless, because everyone knew that many of the stores, valuable enough when new, were now worth nothing more than old iron. The figures were simply guess-work, if not something worse, and were put down merely for the sake of covering the deficiency and depletion of the stores. He hoped the Comptroller and Auditor General would get what he had been asking for, and what the sense of the House approved of, and what the Committee of Public Accounts had been asking for over and over again—namely, the quantity of stores in hand. It had been said there would be great danger in letting the Russians, or someone else, know how many rounds of ammunition we had how many rifles, and so on. But it would not be necessary to give that information. All he would ask was that such a Return should be made for the information of the War Office Authorities. Such a Return should be made the basis of information. At present there was no such Return. There was no Return of the figures which they could submit to the Comptroller and Auditor General in order that he might—confidentially, if they liked—check the stores year by year, 146 to satisfy the House that there had been no undue depletion of military stores. He did not think it necessary to give the Committee of Public Accounts any figures showing the exact quantity of the stores. The Comptroller and Auditor General should have—just as in the case of the Secret Service money—reasonable proof that the money voted by Parliament was applied to the services for which it was granted. If information was given to show that the stores had not been unduly run down, and that they had not economized by running down the stores; then, he thought, every practical purpose would be attained. But to be content with mere Valuation Returns which were, at the best, mere guess-work, was simply to play the fool with the House of Commons. To put such Returns before the Public Accounts Committee was wholly insufficient.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. SMITH)
said, he had listened to the interesting speech of the hon. Member, and could assure him that the suggestions he had made would receive the consideration they deserved. He was not in a position to make any promise as to the mode in which the question should be dealt with, but it should certainly not be lost sight of; and in saying that he, of course, could not bind himself to do more than prudence and the interests of the country would allow. He desired that the Comptroller and Auditor General's Department should have all the information which would enable it to form an accurate judgment as to the requisite appropriation of stores, and as to the stores and the stock actually in existence, and the value of it. Nothing could be more distasteful to those who were principally concerned than the delivery of a mere statement as to the original cost of the stores or of their estimated value, which turned out on inquiry altogether unsatisfactory. In the hon. Gentleman's view it was important to ascertain whether the country really possessed the material which would be required in time of strain, and he could safely say that every Government would feel it to be its duty to see that the stores were maintained in a condition to be able to bear the strain of any emergency which might occur. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) had re- 147 ferred to an observation which he (Mr. W. H. Smith) had made a very short time ago. He thought the hon. Member would do him the credit to say that he had carefully avoided mating a charge of any kind whatever against the late Government, or from taking any credit to the present Government—any charge against the late Government for what they had done, or any credit to the present Government for what they had sought to do. He desired, in dealing with this question of national defence, to keep clear of anything which would sound like provocation and from anything which would tend in any degree to excite Party feeling; but when the hon. Gentleman referred to what had been done by the late Government, and had stated that they had found that the breech-loader was not in existence when they came into Office, he thought he might take some credit to himself for the fact that in 1878—only a year or two after the period which the hon. Gentleman had described as the period when the change from muzzle-loading to breech-loading was adopted on the Continent—he had pressed most strongly for the adoption of breech-loaders for the Navy. From that time to the present he had been using all the influence he possessed in Parliament to urge not only on his Colleagues in the last Conservative Government, but also on the late Government—on the Governments of 1874 and 1880—without endeavouring to impart into the discussion anything of a factious character, the necessity and the duty of improving the armaments of their ports and, as a necessary corollary, of improving the armaments of the Army. Well, steps had been taken, and taken vigorously, in that direction during the past year or two. There could be no doubt that the necessity for looking into this question was very great indeed, and he was glad he had been able to state to the House the conclusion the late Government had arrived at. An hon. Gentleman had referred to the steps which had been taken for furnishing ingots of steel for the manufacture of guns. He made no complaint of the hon. Gentleman's desire to secure for the State the great resources which the country possessed for the manufacture of steel. He had urged the desirability of doing something in that direction as strongly as he had been 148 able to do so; but no monopoly could be permitted either to an individual manufacturer or to our arsenals. It was desirable that the country should reap the full advantage of the competition between the two. There must be reasonable expectations of profit held out to persons who were walling to go to the expense of providing extensive plant in competition with each other for the material required. Now that we could form some estimate of the amount of work which would have to be done during the next two or three years, he ventured to express a hope that no delay would be suffered to occur in providing the material. It seemed to him that the interests of the country would be best protected by the provision of the defence which was admitted to be required. After the most careful examination, which had spread over three or four years, and after the decision that the late Government had arrived at, he maintained there was no desire to postpone the completion of the work. If any person entering upon the work realized the necessity of its speedy completion, he would not be led away by the fact that the payment for the work was to be spread over a certain period of time, but he would have the work executed as rapidly and as efficiently as possible. They had at last decided on the kind of gun to be used, and the kind of powder to be used in the gun, and he believed they had nearly arrived at the kind of projectile which was to be used; and it seemed to him that having, after considerable delay and after considerable research, formed an estimate of the expenditure which ought to be incurred, it would be advisable, in the interests of the country, that the expenditure should be made as rapidly, and yet as efficiently, as possible. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Brand) referred to the course the late Government had taken with regard to the protection of mercantile ports, and he laid stress on his assertion that only the mercantile harbours of the Clyde, the Tyne, and the Mersey really needed protection. But that was only the opinion of the hon. Gentleman; it was certainly not the opinion of the hon. Gentleman's Colleagues, including the noble Marquess the late Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington). The Report which was received and 149 adopted by the late Government, and which was acted upon by the Treasury, recommended that a grant should be made in the course of the present year for the protection of other harbours and rivers besides those enumerated by the hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) thought it was the interest and duty of the Government to afford protection to ports like the Humber and Severn. There were ports in Ireland also which required protection, and he was glad to be able to assure the hon. Gentleman the Member for Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly) that 12 per cent of the expenditure which was contemplated for commercial ports would be incurred on commercial ports on the coast of Ireland. Ireland, therefore, might rest assured that it would receive a portion, at least, of the expenditure. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) had, in a most interesting speech, given the Committee a great deal of valuable information, and he (Mr. W. H. Smith) would not fail to profit by it. In conclusion, he could only assure the Committee that the policy which it was now sought to carry out was not a Party policy; it was not a policy of the present Government alone, but it was a policy which he believed had the sanction not only of the present Government and of the present House of Commons, but of the country at large.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £843,800, Works, Buildings, &c., at Home and Abroad.
§ (5.) £128,500, Establishments for Military Education.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
desired to make a few observations upon the question of military education. He had spoken upon the subject on previous occasions; but, at the present moment, it was imperatively necessary that it should be brought before the Committee and the country, he did not find fault with any of the officers who had served on the Staff in the Soudan, excepting so far as it was agreed on all hands that the Intelligence Department in the Nile Expedition in the Soudan did not perform those services which were and ought to have been expected of it as well as it was hoped they might have been. When he believed that all the gallant officers who formed 150 the Department were educated at the Staff College, the question very naturally suggested itself to one's mind whether the instruction they received at the Staff College was that which best fitted them to perform the great duties required of them. He should be very sorry to decry the Staff in any way; but if he were asked to pick out any body of officers who did their duty in the Soudan better than another—perhaps it was from the peculiar circumstances of the war—he should certainly pick out the gallant regimental officers. There were many officers of the Staff who were brilliant and clever, and who performed their duty well. He would not say whether some men did their duty in the Soudan or not; but this much he would say, that if all the Staff officers, and especially those of the Intelligence Department, had done their duty, they would not have to deplore so many casualties in that campaign. It was stated in all the newspapers—and when they read the statement in the public organs they naturally turned to see what authority there was for it—that there would be no opposition to the march from Korti across the desert viâ Abou Klea and Metammeh to Gubat. Why, when the troops arrived at Abou Klea there were thousands of the enemy ready to pour down upon them. Not one piece of information was conveyed to the officers marching across the country; and if it had not been for the gallant conduct of the 19th Hussars, who scouted and did their duty in the most admirable manner, very fatal consequences would have ensued. Now, what was it that men went to the Staff College to learn? Surely it was not only mathematics and foreign languages. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) when, in answer to a Question put to him earlier in the evening, he said foreign languages could be more properly and fully taught in the countries in which they were spoken than in the Staff College. He, too, was of opinion that mathematics should be eliminated from the subjects of instruction in the Staff College. The first thing that men should be taught when they went to the College should be how to manage, how to manœuvre, and how to manipulate all the different arms of the Service which they would have subsequently to com- 151 mand. At Aldershot, which was the experimental station, it was found that commands were given for a very considerable time, and that only one or two Generals were able to learn their business at a time. It very often happened that many men who were sent out had never commanded more than a brigade. Unless they had had practical education at home, unless they had been taught at home in the practical management of troops, how could they be expected to acquit themselves properly in the face of an enemy? He mentioned no names; all he said was that they had no right to expect men to be able to command men in the field unless they had proper and ample opportunity of learning their duties before they went into the field. It was impossible to have a better place than Aldershot at which to instruct men in their duties; but there were men there who knew comparatively little of what was required of them. That was the reason that in many instances they failed with their Staff. He called the attention of his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) to the question, so that when men were sent to the Staff College they should be taught all the things which it was material they should know when they came to command, or to assist in commanding, an army in the field.
SIR FREDERICK FITZ-WYGRAM
said, he had been a little in doubt as to the proper occasion on which the observations he wished to make should be made; possibly they would be permissible upon this Vote. He desired to call attention to the importance of signalling in the Army. Signallers, especially mounted signallers, were becoming of greater importance everyday; their importance was due to the means of rapid transit which now obtained, and to the greater power of range of rifle and gun. In former days armies could only move a few miles a-day, and their movements were well known; but now the base of an army could be shifted in a very short time. Now-a-days war was waged over a larger expanse of country than hitherto, and therefore it was absolutely necessary to have some means of transmitting intelligence quicker than man and horse could carry it. Signalling in the Army had been carried on for several years, and with very great success, but not with the success which he thought it 152 deserved. The fact was that a very intelligent class of men were needed for signalling purposes, and it was requisite that they should be kept in constant practice. Signalling was carried on some time ago by flags, and of late years it had been also conducted by means of the heliograph, by which messages could be sent 30 or 40 miles. As he had already said, men of intelligence were needed as signallers; but it was impossible to get such men unless some pay was given to them for signalling. Signalling officers trained their men; but as soon as the men were trained they left for some paid employment. Unless the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) was prepared to provide some payment for the signallers, it would not be possible to have a satisfactory corps. He (Sir Frederick Fitz-Wygram) suggested that there should be 10 signallers attached to each regiment, and that each of the men should receive £1 a-year, to be paid after the annual examination. There were 180 corps in the Army, so that the adoption of his suggestion would give 1,800 signallers at a cost of £1,800 beyond the present expenses. He believed the money would be very well spent, because there was nothing more important to a General in the field than that he should receive reliable intelligence.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY, WAR DEPAETMENT (Mr. H. S. NORTHCOTE)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) fully appreciated the importance of signalling; and the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir Frederick Fitz-Wygram) might rest assured that the subject would receive full consideration. He hoped he was right in assuming that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) did not wish, in the remarks he had made, to draw any invidious distinction between one class of officers and another. He thought he would be borne out when he said that a College which turned out such gallant men as the late Sir Herbert Stewart could not be one deserving of very great censure. The remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, however, should receive careful attention.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he was glad to hear what had fallen from the Financial Secretary to the War 153 Office (Mr. Northcote), because he was afraid the observations of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) upon the officers of the Intelligence Department in the Soudan were liable to some misconception, and might convey some imputation upon the Staff officers of that Department which he hardly thought the hon. and gallant Gentleman intended them to convey. He understood the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that the Intelligence Department failed to provide the officers commanding in the Soudan with the intelligence they ought to have possessed; but he did not understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman to adduce the slightest proof of the assertion. All he heard the hon. and gallant Gentleman say was that he read in several newspapers that there would be no fighting between Korti and Metammeh. He (the Marquess of Hartington) was not aware that it was the duty of the officers of the Intelligence Department to communicate intelligence they received to the newspaper correspondents whose reports the hon. and gallant Gentleman had read. He did not know from what information the hon. and gallant Gentleman supposed that no intelligence as to the movements of the enemy was conveyed to the responsible officers in command. It was very easily understood that reliable information in a country like the Soudan was extremely difficult to get. He believed the fact was that the Intelligence Department obtained an enormous amount of information, but a great deal of it was found to be incorrect. Some information there was which, no doubt, was accurate, and, perhaps, in all cases not sufficiently acted upon. But there was nothing to justify the hon. and gallant Gentleman in saying that Lord Wolseley and the other officers in command were informed that the desert column would meet with no strong opposition in the march from Korti to Metammeh. He thought it right to make these remarks, because he believed that, notwithstanding the difficulties experienced in obtaining very accurate information during the Soudan Campaign, there was not the slightest reason to suppose that the officers of the Intelligence Department failed in any degree in their duty.
§ Vote agreed to.154
§ (6.) £51,700, Miscellaneous Effective Services.
§ MR. PULESTON
said, he thought that reference might very properly be made on this Vote to the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts. He did not intend to make anything like a speech on the subject; but he considered that the question might very properly be brought before the Committee at this time, especially as there was now a Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) whom it was supposed was in sympathy with the views he (Mr. Puleston) and many others entertained on the question. He was very sorry to hear the other day, in reply to a Question, that nothing would be done in regard to the Contagious Diseases Acts this Session, because during the many years he had represented his constituents in the House of Commons he did not remember that there had been a greater unanimity of feeling amongst all classes, in the places were the Acts were in force, than there was upon the value of the Contagious Diseases Acts. Not only in Plymouth, but in kindred constituencies, there was a unanimity in deploring the repeal of those Acts which had seldom been attained upon any subject in any constituency in any country. It must not be forgotten that what was practically a repeal of the Acts was effected in deference to what he had more than once said was nothing more than a scratch vote. It was not worth while to discuss the parallels to the proceedings of the late Government in this matter, although he might very easily point out that the late Government did not display the same alacrity in giving force to wishes on other subjects which had been as strongly expressed. What was most remarkable was that the operation of those Acts was suspended in the face of the fact that the three Ministers most responsible on the subject—the noble Marquess the late Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington), the noble Earl the late First Lord of the Admiralty (the Earl of Northbrook), and the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt)—were entirely in favour of the continuance of the Acts. It had been the duty of those Ministers, of all others, to know how the Acts were carried out; they made it their business to acquaint themselves 155 with the result of the operation of the Acts, and they came to the conclusion that there was no other course consistent with the interest of the country than to continue the operation of the Acts. For some reason or other, owing, no doubt, to the influence of the other Members of the Cabinet, effect was given to the Resolution of the House. He was quite aware that no practical effect could be given to any discussion on the present occasion. But the fact could be pointed out that the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) and the Committee generally were now in possession of the deplorable results of the repeal of the Acts. They were in possession of very clear Returns which had been made from several places interested in the question, and they were also in possession of the opinion which had been expressed since the Acts were suspended by the late Government by some of the most distinguished men both in the Army and in the Navy. He did not know that he could point to one man of distinction in any branch of the Service who was not resolutely opposed to the action taken by the late Government. In his own constituency there was no stronger opponent of the repeal of the Acts than Admiral Stewart. Admiral Stewart was opposed to him (Mr. Puleston) in politics. He was a man of enormous experience, and he supplemented his previous long experience of the Service by his experience in Devonport during the time he was Admiral commanding that Station. Nothing could be stronger or more emphatic in opposition to the course of the late Government in this matter than the speech that gallant Admiral delivered before he left Devonport last year. But everybody in the places to which the Acts chiefly applied was just as strong in opposition to the repeal of the Acts, and their opinion was based upon experience and not upon theory. Hon. Gentlemen opposite would not grant Local Option in this matter. The constituencies concerned were supposed to know nothing about the case. He hoped that to-night the Committee would hear from the Secretary of State for War that so far as the Government were concerned justice, at least, would be done. Whilst there was no time to give proper attention to the question now, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would as- 156 sure them that if he occupied his present position in the next Parliament he would then do what time and circumstances would not permit him to do now. It was peculiarly fitting that a debate should take place upon this subject on the present occasion. Within the last week or two he had received more letters and Petitions from his constituents on the subject of the amendment of the Criminal Law than he ever remembered receiving on any subject; and, curiously enough, a considerable number of the letters came from the small minority who cried out loudly for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts, but who now were equally loud in their demand for the insertion of quite as obnoxious clauses as any in those Acts in the new Criminal Code. That was an inconsistency which the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) would perhaps make it his business to explain away. He had no doubt that the hon. and learned Member, who was so strenuous and active in favour of the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts, would be quite as strongly in favour of putting in the Criminal Law Amendment Bill clauses far more stringent and exactly on the same lines as those he opposed so bitterly in the Contagious Diseases Acts. He (Mr. Puleston) would content himself, in conclusion, with expressing the hope that the right hon. Gentleman would assure the Committee that he would not rest in his labours until he had made himself thoroughly acquainted with the pros and cons of this question.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he wished to support the expression of opinion which had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Puleston), and he hoped that some information would be given to the Committee, either from the Treasury Bench or the Front Opposition Bench, as to the policy which was to be pursued in the future upon this most vital question. He did not wish to embarrass the present Secretary of State for War; but he wished to point out that if it were true, as alleged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) in a recent speech, that his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) was only a stop-gap or provisional Minister—in that case, they ought to hear from the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) some statement of 157 the policy which he represented with regard to the maintenance of the Acts. Now, if there was one principle in the world which the noble Marquess and the official members of his late Department had supported more earnestly than any other it was the principle of these Acts. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington), the late Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt), and the late First Lord of the Admiralty (the Earl of Northbrook) had all expressed their unqualified approval of the beneficial results of the Acts whenever they had any opportunity of doing so; and, therefore, it was with the very greatest surprise that he saw the other day that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) had spoken of these Acts as "the odious Contagious Diseases Acts." Still more was he surprised to read a speech by the same right hon. Gentleman delivered quite recently at Hackney, in which he spoke of the attitude of the present Government in these graphic terms—I say that a strategic movement of this kind, executed in opposition to the notorious convictions of the men who effected it, carried out for Party purposes and Party purposes alone, is the most flagrant instance of political dishonesty, even of political immorality, that this country has ever known.Now, he wished to ask the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington), and the hon. Members of the late Government who sat beside him, whether they were about to execute a "strategic movement," and were about to be guilty, according to the view of their Colleague, "of one of the most flagrant instances of political dishonesty this country had ever known?" Now, there could be no doubt whatever—it was a matter of history—that the "Contagious Diseases Acts" were introduced and carried in that House by the so-called Liberal Party, and had been supported by them for many years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) had sat in that House before he was a Member of the Government, but he had not raised up his voice against those "odious" Acts, nor had he done so after he took Office as the President of the Board of Trade; and yet he had now the audacity to charge his (Mr. Bentinck's) right hon. Friends with political tergiversation and political immorality. He thought the Committee would agree 158 with him that persons clothed in inflammable material should not approach too near the fire. He (Mr. Bentinck) had sat four years on the Committee which was appointed to investigate this question, and which considered fully every species of evidence which could be produced, and he had attended all the meetings of that Committee with the exception of four. There were two Parties on that Committee, as they well knew. One Party, that to which he belonged, held that the result of the suspension of these Acts would be not only greatly to increase disease in the Army and Navy, but to aggravate the sufferings of unfortunate women—and here he desired to repeat that he had supported the Acts from the first, not so much in the interest of soldiers and sailors, as in the interests of suffering women, who had unhappily adopted a profession which he hesitated to call by the name which was properly applicable to it—and the other Party in the Committee held the view that there would be no increase either of disease, or of suffering amongst women. And what had been the result of the suspension of the Acts? A Return furnished to Parliament by the noble Marquess the late Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) showed that disease had already increased in the Army and Navy to such an extent that it now stood at as high a figure as it had done before the Acts came into force in 1866. That was a state of things which was much to be deplored, for if the results were deplorable to the Services, with regard to the unfortunate women they were simply appalling. The contention of the Party with which he acted on the Committee, supported by facts and reason, was that if they suspended the Acts juvenile prostitution would increase, and that the nature of the disease amongst females would increase in severity. Both these prophecies had been fulfilled. He had made personal inquiries into the subject, and had received Reports from the Lock Hospital in London and from the Lock Hospital at Chatham, and the results he had obtained were these. In the London Lock Hospital, which had a Government ward, the average number of women admitted from the protected districts in connection with the hospital was about 500 a-year, and the majority light cases. In the year ending June 30, 159 1882, the cases of gonorrhœa were 183 out of 464 admissions, and the cases of secondary syphilis were only 33 per cent upon the whole number of 464, while the average duration of treatment of each patient was only about 23 days. But in the year ending the 30th of June last, the number of admissions had fallen from 500 to 110, the proportion of cases of secondary syphilis had risen to 78 per cent of the whole number, and the average duration of treatment of each patient had risen to 51 days. Out of these 110 cases, 85 were secondary syphilis, one tertiary, 11 primary syphilis, and the residue gonorrhœa. Now, he repeated that that was an appalling state of things, and showed how the suspension of the Acts had been the cause of increased suffering to these unfortunate women. But that was not all. The Secretary of this Institution wrote to him lately, that 30 of these 110 patients were 20 years of age; and that of 12 patients then in the Government ward, one had been under treatment for six months, two for three months each, two had been in once before, one had been in twice, one three times, one five times, and one no fewer than 31 times. He would now take the Committee from London to Chatham. At Chatham they had a Lock Hospital, which embraced nearly all the patients in the Southern districts, and he had received three letters from thence on the subject of these Acts. One was from the Chairman of the Chatham Board of Health, another was from the Lady Superintendent of the Chatham Lock Hospital, and one from the Rev. Mr. Jelf, the Rector of Chatham. The Chairman of the Chatham Board of Health said—In April last the Chatham Board of Health made a unanimous representation to the late Prime Minister asking him not to repeal, but rather to renew the Acts, seeing the enormous evils that had fallen upon our town through their suspension. I allude especially to the great development of very young female prostitution in our town, which cannot be ignored, but which, while deplored by all, is a monument of real disgrace to men, who, actuated by stupid sentimentality, have managed to suspend, and now seek to repeal Acts, which, when in full force, saved hundreds of young girls from ruin, restored hundreds of fallen young girls to their families, and established order and respectability in our streets; the converse of all which benefit has been brought about by men who, whilst claiming to be the defenders of purity and female virtue, have opened the flood- 160 gates of dissipation and worked a ruin of body and soul on numbers of young girls in our town perfectly diabolical in its results and awful to contemplate from a truly Christian point of view.Now, this letter was supplemented by the testimony of Miss Webb, the Lady Superintendent of the Chatham Lock Hospital, who was probably one of the best witnesses that it was possible for them to hear. She said—With regard to the effect on the women admitted to this hospital during the last year, owing to the withdrawal of the Contagions Diseases Acts' police, I have to say that under the Contagious Diseases Acts in their entirety the highest number admitted in a year was in 1872, 702 cases; the lowest in 1876, when 436 were admitted. At that time this hospital only received women from the so-called Chatham district. On the withdrawal of the police the Shorncliffe district was added, and with that addition in the 12 months dating from the 6th of June, 1884, to the 6th of June, 1885, only 175 cases have come in. Knowing as we all do the immense increase of these unfortunate women in these towns since the Contagious Diseases Acts' police have been removed, it is fearful to contemplate how many ought to come in compared with those who do so, and the terrible mischief accruing in consequence. With regard to the condition of the patients since the alteration of the law, there is a marked difference for the worse; and, moreover, it takes in most cases many months for their cure. In some cases the nine months—after which period no patient is to be kept in hospital under any circumstances whatever—is far from long enough, and four women this year asked for and obtained re-admission, one of whom has this day been discharged after five more months' treatment in addition to the nine. This class of women will not seek admission till they feel absolutely compelled, and many who come in are sad wrecks under 20 years of age. The usual routine of work, such as helping in the laundry, etc., as carried out before, has had to be abandoned, the patients being too ill to do it, and charwomen are obliged to be employed instead. Indeed, could these zealous but mistaken people see as we see the fruits of what they have accomplished in the withdrawal of the police, they would be compelled to admit how cruel the change is for the poor women, while the crowd of juvenile prostitutes in these towns proves how great has been the blow to morality; and I would ask those who oppose the Contagious Diseases Acts, on the ground of their immorality, if they consider the unrestricted depravity going on in their stead a matter for content or congratulation?The Rev. Mr. Jelf, the Rector of Chatham, also wrote a letter quite recently to a newspaper, in which he said—With regard to the evil which does exist, it must be remembered that we have special difficulties,161 and he went on to enumerate among them—The suspension of the Contagious Diseases Acts, which, on the one hand, brings few but hardened women to the Lock Hospital, and, on the other hand, encourages quite young girls in prostitution.Now, he had also to say that he had received that day a long letter from Archdeacon Harrison, Archdeacon of Maidstone and Canon of Canterbury, empowering him to use his name, and asserting that exactly the same state of things had occurred at Canterbury. He mentioned these facts, because they were approaching a General Election, and they all knew the powerful organization, which was headed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), supported by other hon. Members, had a very powerful effect. That organization had ample funds, and a literature peculiarly its own, approximating to certain recent publications by a journal which revived all their worst recollections of Holywell Street, and which had met with the general condemnation of every right-thinking man in that House. That organization sent also paid lecturers about the country, and were materially assisted by what the late M. Fouché designated as his "Cohorte Cythère," a band of women who addressed assemblies of their sex upon these subjects with closed doors, so that no one could know what was said; but there could be no doubt that misrepresentations were made, and untruths without number told, so that the minds of the women might be worked upon to induce ignorant men to vote in a particular direction. The peculiar literature which the opponents of the Acts published and circulated throughout the country was a disgrace to civilization; for anybody who had served on the public Committee appointed to inquire into the matter, or who had read the proceedings of that Committee, must know that all the material statements contained in those publications were absolutely untrue. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had called attention more than once to a pamphlet which was entitled Seven Reasons for Repeal of the Acts, and which was issued by a Society in the City of London, of which the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. Samuel Morley) was President, and the hon. Member for Lambeth (Sir William M'Arthur) was a 162 leading member. Those "Seven Reasons" were neither more nor less than a set of scandalous fabrications, and were proved to be so by the evidence given before the Parliamentary Committee relating to the action of the police. Yet, notwithstanding, the hon. Member for Bristol and the hon. and worthy Alderman (Sir William M'Arthur), without any inquiry into the matter, did not scruple to lend their names to the dissemination of these abominable falsehoods. The particular process by which the agitators against the Acts endeavoured to attain their ends was simply diabolical. Their object was to poison the minds of the new electorate, by false allegations to the effect that the Acts subjected women of the humbler classes to unjust and arbitrary arrest by the police, to indignities too shameful to mention, and, finally, to hospital experiments. Now, those were allegations which had been made wholesale within the last mouth or six weeks in his (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck's) own constituency, by a Mr. James B. Wookey, who was engaged as a paid emissary to carry out this shameful work, and by this means, as he had said, to poison the minds of the new electorate; and it was absolutely necessary for those who had supported those Acts from the very first that they should clear themselves in that House, because they really had no other efficient mode of answering those unfounded charges except in their places there. They had no great organization to disseminate poison throughout the country by the exercise of what the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) lately called "the faculty for slander and lying." He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) would not have thought it necessary to enter so fully upon the subject except that, possibly, that might be the last time he might have the opportunity of doing so in that House. They did not know what accidents might happen; they might happen anywhere, even at a General Election, and to the very best of them, even to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House; and, therefore, he had felt it his duty to enter an energetic protest against untruthful speeches and publications, with the earnest hope that before long, when the subject came before the House again, it might be treated 163 from a broad point of view, and with I due regard for suffering women. His I hon. Friend (Mr. Puleston) had alluded to a measure which was in the air; but he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) did not believe that any such airy measures would prevent juvenile prostitution or extirpate those grievous diseases; but there could be no doubt, that by the action of the Contagious Diseases Acts, juvenile prostitution had been very considerably diminished; and if the Acts were not revived, the same results, which existed before they were brought into operation, would follow.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, he could not help feeling moved by the feeling accents in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had taken leave of the House. He deprecated the discussion, however, especially as the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir. Puleston) had admitted that nothing could result from it. As far as he understood the present position, it was this—that the originator of the steps which had brought about the present state of things and the Secretary of State for War had agreed that the matter should be allowed to remain in statu quo for the present, and that it would be impossible to set up the Acts again without a Resolution of the House. That had been agreed to by his right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). In fact, he understood that there was a truce between them, and he was sorry that that truce had been broken; he was certain it had not been broken with the consent of his right hon. Friend. At that period of the Session no conclusion could be arrived at, and, therefore, it was to be regretted that the discussion had been raised. What a storm would have come from the Benches opposite a few years ago if this question had been raised by the Liberal Party, when it was known that no conclusion could be come to; and he could only conclude that the course taken that night was taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite with a view to promote their own personal ends at the approaching General Election.
§ MR. PULESTON
rose to Order, and explained that he had no personal ends in view at all. He had merely raised the question for what he believed to be the public good.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
thought that as no conclusion could be come to it would have been better if the truce had been preserved, for it was a very unpleasant subject which had been raised. He would not go into the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statistics; but he thought the statistics on this subject were susceptible to other conclusions to those he had drawn, and probably as high a rate of disease would be found to have prevailed at times when the Acts were rigorously enforced as at present when they were not. The hon. Member had said that they knew nothing about this subject; but he would point out that 25 years ago he had sat upon a Committee to inquire into the matter, and that Committee had then pointed out the line which they could follow safely, and to which they would have to come now. They showed them how fallacious it was to believe that statutory laws would check the disease, and that in those places where the laws were the severest the disease was worst. That Committee had come to the conclusion that it was right to heal disease where ever they found it; but to go beyond that and introduce the compulsory powers of Continental laws was a step they did not recommend, and it was one that they were sure would be opposed to the sentiments of the English people, and would not be tolerated by the public feeling of the country. Now, he had never used hard words about the introduction of the Acts. He did not say that they were smuggled through the House; but he did say that they were brought into that House and carried without discussion. [Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK: No.] There had practically been no discussion upon the Acts. They were brought in by Lord Clarence Paget, and the first Act was passed, if he remembered rightly, after what could not be called a discussion. He knew that Lord Clarence Paget had acted with the best intentions, his object being to preserve the health of the men in the Navy. He knew very well what pressure was brought to bear upon him by the Medical Staff of the Navy in order to introduce these foreign customs into England. They took, as it were, a piece of the practice of foreign countries, and attempted to fit it in to English law and life, forgetting that the feeling in England on these subjects 165 was happily widely different from that which ruled abroad. He repeated, without fear of contradiction, that the first of the Acts was put upon the Statute Book without any discussion worthy of the name. They were very proud in that Parliament of theirs of the fact that when once a law was placed on the Statute Book it was rarely struck off again in after years. They were very proud of the steadiness and consistency of their legislation in that respect; but the reason was that laws did not get on the Statute Book until they had been thoroughly discussed and approved in the public mind. This law was not fully discussed, and never had been accepted by public opinion, and when it was on the Statute Book those who were in favour of it did their utmost to prevent the discussion of the question. There were storms of abuse for persons who endeavoured to discuss the Acts; but it had been discussed, and public opinion had been aroused on the subject, and the defenders of the Act were now in this position—that they never could get back to the enforcement of the Acts. They might, perhaps, make it impossible to work a voluntary system; but they could never get back to a compulsory system. They were now half way between the Acts and the voluntary system. He had always been an advocate of the voluntary system; he believed much might be done under it; and he believed, further, that had that system been adhered to from the first, instead of having these efforts made at a few seaport towns and military stations, they would have spread far and wide. But sad mischief had been played with the voluntary system; the idea of entering a hospital had been rendered so repulsive that it would take years before many women could be got to enter one, although he believed that, if the voluntary system were trusted to, they would in time come back again to the position in which the matter stood before the Act was introduced. They might try the voluntary system—he was quite certain that they would never be allowed to try the other.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. Smith)
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had correctly represented the position in which they stood with reference to the discussion of this question upon the 166 Estimates. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) fully admitted the right of hon. Members to express their views on the subject; but he reminded the Committee that there was an understanding that, as far as possible, this question should not be discussed on these Estimates. It was distinctly understood that Her Majesty's Government could not now indicate a policy, or depart from the course taken with regard to the question by their Predecessors in Office; and ho, for one, deprecated a discussion which must be wholly and absolutely fruitless. The hon. Gentleman who had introduced the subject was, he felt convinced, actuated by the best motives; but, with the most earnest desire to contribute at the proper time to the solution of the question, he trusted that the Committee would not discuss the matter then.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
said, he could not allow the discussion to close without expressing the hope that it would not be supposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) and the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Puleston) that the Conservative Party were unanimously in favour of the opinion they had expressed. He, for one, had a strong feeling against these Acts, holding, as he did, to the good old Tory principle that what was morally wrong could not be politically right.
§ MR. PULESTON
said, he could not conceive that he could be justly amenable to censure on the part of his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) for raising a discussion from which no practical result would follow. That was done with regard to every Vote, and was of daily occurrence in the House. They had that evening had a discussion in which an hon. Member had said he supported an Amendment although he knew it would not be carried. So much for that. He had, he believed, in a modest way expressed the almost unanimous opinion of officers and clergymen, including Dissenters in the towns where the Acts in question were in operation, and he could not bring himself to say that they were all sinners and that they were all wrong. He should regret very much to be amenable to the censure of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith); but he was not aware that any arrangement had been made beyond 167 this—that it was said nothing would be done in respect of this Act; and, therefore, speaking in the interest of the large body of persons whom he represented, and with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, he repudiated the severe censure which the right hon. Gentleman had passed upon him.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he did not rise for the purpose of continuing a discussion which, as it had been pointed out, could not lead to any practical result. All he desired was that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) should give his attention to the subject during the Recess. It had been admitted that the state of things which resulted from the decision of the House two years ago was extremely unsatisfactory, and it was apparent that that state of things could not be allowed to continue. An attempt had been made by the late Government last year to modify the law, and put it in conformity with what appeared to be the opinion of the great majority of the House. But it was impossible to carry a Bill for the purpose, and it would be equally impossible to carry one in the present state of affairs. If the right hon. Gentleman examined the circumstances, and if he arrived at the opinion that it would be possible in the present state of the country to deal with the compulsory clauses of the Act, it would probably enable them to put a stop to the anomalous state of things which existed, and also enable them to give a fair opportunity to the voluntary principle as suggested by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread).
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he had never heard anything about a truce in this matter. If there were such a truce he, for one, could be no party to it, as he thought it the duty of every man having before him such facts as were shown in the Return to maintain his position, because the Return practically confuted every reasonable argument that had been adduced against the Acts. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Whitbread) had said that the Acts had been smuggled through the House; but he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) denied that statement absolutely. A reference to public records would show that the Acts were opposed at the time by Mr. Ayrton and other Members of 168 the House. Besides, how could the hon. Member shelter himself from the fact that during the 16 years the Acts had been on the Statute Book he had not raised his voice or taken action against them? The hon. Gentleman was no doubt very sore because his pot nostrum, the voluntary system, had broken down; but he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had shown by figures that even in the short time which had elapsed between the suspension of the Acts and the present day the admission of women to Lock Hospitals had enormously fallen off. It was also a sad fact that the average number of inmates of the London Lock Hospital Home had fallen from over 80 to under 60. The hon. Gentleman talked about the voluntary system; but he would ask him whether he was a member of the London Lock Hospital, or to what Hospital did he subscribe? With reference to the remarks of the Lord Mayor, he would only say that if he was in favour of allowing suffering women to remain without care under the circumstances, he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) was not one of his supporters.
§ Vote agreed to.)
(7.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £248,100, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Salaries and Miscellaneous Charges of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886.
said, this was the Vote from which the salaries of the Medical Staff were taken, and he wished to say a few words upon it in justice to Dr. Crawford, whose conduct had been seriously attacked. He held in his hand a letter from General Freemantle, who commanded at Suakin, and who afterwards commanded the Guards' Brigade in the Campaign, which, with the permission of the Committee, he would read. General Freemantle said—So far as my observation and knowledge goes, the hospital arrangements for the Campaign in the Eastern Soudan were very good. I speak as regards the field hospitals, the bearer companies, the base hospital, and the ship Ganges; the latter was the admiration of all who saw her. The arrangements for the quick transfer of sick and wounded from the front to the base and ship seemed to me to be excellent.'He wished to remind the Committee that this year they had provided for the 169 trial of a number of men who were to form the nucleus of bearer companies for larger Expeditions than that of Suakin. Every year those men would be taken from ordinary drill and put under the direction of medical officers of the district to learn the duties essential in a large Expedition. That arrangement was in accordance with the recommendations made by Surgeon Major Evatt, who was known as a great reformer of the Army Medical Department. Surgeon Major Evatt said—I want to see a regular Militia Hospital Corps called out annually and trained with us in the hospitals instead of being kept at Infantry drill in the barracks. We need such a body of men to work our home hospitals in war time, as well as to furnish the coarser aid in the war hospitals.He (Sir Arthur Hayter) believed that if the men went through their ordinary drill in the manner he had mentioned they would have the nucleus of an Army Hospital Corps, with a very large staff at the service of the country when required. He would only call the attention of the Committee to the fact that provision was made for four bearer corps, the members of which were taken from all the principal London hospitals. Those men had been inspected by Dr. Crawford; they had taken part in the Brighton Review, and it was right to say that they had given every satisfaction.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, there was one item in this vote which he thought required explanation. The salary of the Commander-in-Chief was put down at £6,632; but the commencing salary was £4,500. There was a note at the bottom of the page; but still there was no explanation given of the discrepancy. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman at the moment representing the War Office would be able to explain what it meant.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY, WAR DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. S. NORTHCOTE)
said, it was tinder an old Regulation. The salary of the future Commander-in-Chief would be £4,500.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he did not see why they should wait until there was a new Commander-in-Chief. He perceived that the Secretary of State for War received £5,000 per annum; and yet the Commander-in-Chief was put down for £6,632. He saw no reason why the present Commander-in-Chief should receive that amount; and 170 as the Committee were asked to say whether they would pay the amount or not, he should move the reduction of the Vote by £1,600.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £246,500, he granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Salaries and Miscellaneous Charges of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, the hon. Member fur Northampton stated that no explanation was given with reference to the amount taken in the vote for the salary of the Commander-in-Chief, although there was an asterisk affixed to the item. If the hon. Member would look at the bottom of the page he would see the explanation that the salary was paid under Royal Warrant. He thought the hon. Member must admit that if the Commander-in-Chief and other officers appointed under Army Warrants held office at all, they were entitled to the salaries fixed at the time when they accepted the appointments.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, he understood the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) to move the reduction of the vote on the ground that His Royal Highness was paid more than the salary under the Warrant. He thought this Motion ought to receive support from Members of that House. He desired to speak with very great respect of His Royal Highness. He had often inquired of soldiers and officers, and he always found that they had great respect and confidence in His Royal Highness in regimental matters. But he supported the Motion of his hon. Friend, because he had read that in 1850, when the House voted a pension of £12,000 to the Duke of Cambridge, his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham then moved an addition to the Act, proposing that His Royal Highness should not receive any further emolument or pay from the State for any office which he might fill as long as he continued to receive the £12,000 a-year. Now, His Royal Highness had received that large sum every year since 1850; he also received £6,632 under the vote before the Committee as Commander-in-Chief; and he further received £1,000 a-year as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, and £1,000 a-year as 171 Ranger of the Royal Parks. That was £20,632 a-year, paid by the taxpayers of the country. The question was whether the salary allowed under this Army Estimate should be reduced. He should support the Motion before the Committee, because he thought they should emphatically mark their opinion on this Vote that when a person, whether Prince or otherwise, received a pension from the State, he should not, in addition, receive the full emoluments of any other office of the State. When the expense on account of the Royal House was so largely increased, and seeing that there would be a time when these estimable and deserving Princes would be engaged in the Service of the State, he thought that the Committee should consider whether, in addition to the pensions they received, they should also have the full pay of the offices with which they might be accommodated by the State. Per these reasons he should certainly support the Motion of his hon. Friend.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided,:—Ayes 28; Noes 95: Majority 67.—(Div. List, No. 248.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (8.) £18,500, Rewards for Distinguished Services.
§ (9.) £78,000, Half-Pay.
§ (10.) £1,194,000, Retired Pay, &c.
§ (11.) £ 124,800, Widows' Pensions, &c.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, that on this Vote he should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) to an incident which happened some time ago—the bursting of a shell, and the consequent death of three officers who were conducting experiments at the time. When he had first heard of the accident he had asked the Government whether the widows of these officers would receive pensions just as though their husbands had been killed on active service. His opinion was that they ought to—that they might fairly claim to—be treated in the same way as the widows of officers killed on active service. The widow of a Warrant Officer was also interested in this matter, her husband having been killed at the same 172 time; but he did not know whether, strictly speaking, her case would come under this Tote. These accidents were very rare indeed; he did not think that, on an average, there would be more than five or six deaths of this kind during the year—deaths owing to the bursting of a gun or accidental shooting, as in the case of a marker at a target. The Committee, he thought, was very favourable to the view he took; and he was not aware that the noble Marquess the late Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) had decided the matter. The subject was one well worthy of the attention of the Secretary of State for War.
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
said, that the pensions of these widows were fixed under the 2,006th Article; and it was impossible to grant them a higher amount than they had received. In cases where deceased officers had lost their life in the Service, but otherwise than in action, the widow's pension was 50 per cent less than the rate allowed in the case of officers killed in action. However lamentable a case might be, such was the rule; and, in the present instance, the widows had received the highest pensions possible.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, his point was not that the Financial Secretary to the War Office was partial, or had not followed the Rules; but that the Rule was wrong, that it should be modified, and that it would cost the country very little if altered; probably not more than £2,000 or £3,000 a-year. Those Rules were not made by Act of Parliament, but by the authority of the War Office. The Secretary of State for War could modify them when he chose. He could alter them in each case, or could issue a special Warrant. He (Colonel Nolan) complained not that any particular hardship had been inflicted on these widows by the Secretary of State for War, or the Financial Secretary, but that, if such a Rule as that referred to did exist, it was an extremely hard one, and did not conduce to the benefit of the Public Service. When officers were engaged in the duty of handling loaded shells—an extremely dangerous duty—he thought it only right that the War Office should allow their widows and families, where fatal accidents occurred, the same provision as was allowed to the widows and families of officers 173 killed in action. When he had put questions on this subject before, the House of Commons had thought that something of the kind he had suggested should be done; and he was of opinion that the Secretary of State for War should give the subject his favourable consideration, even, if necessary, to the extent of modifying the Rule.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. W. H. Smith)
said, he could only say that he sympathized with the object the hon. and gallant Gentleman had in view, and that, if it had been possible, his Predecessors in Office would have carried out that object. There was evidence of every desire on their part to meet the views of the hon. and gallant Gentleman; but, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman must be aware, it was not such an easy matter for the Secretary of State to alter a Rule. The Rule applied not only to the Department of War, but to the Navy as well, and the sanction of the Treasury was necessary to any such change. If that were obtained, and the modification were made, they would have to consider the claims of persons who had been pensioned under the old Rule for some considerable time past. However, the hon. and gallant Gentleman might rest assured that if it should be found possible to take a compassionate view of hard cases of this kind there would be every desire to do so.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he had made inquiries into this matter, and had ascertained that the change suggested would lead to wider results than the hon. and gallant Gentleman seemed to suppose. As the hon. and gallant Member had truly said, there was more than one rate of pension. There was a small rate to the widows of those who died in the Service, but whose deaths were not traceable to active service; there was the rate to the widows of those who lost their lives from disease, or privation, or exposure, incident to active operations in the field, or in consequence of wounds received in the performance of military duty, otherwise than in action; then there was the highest scale to the families of those who died in active service, or in consequence of wounds received in active service. If the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman were adopted, it would open the door to a 174 state of things which would render it almost impossible to make any difference in these rates at all. He did not think they would be able to maintain any distinctions at all. No doubt, originally, these rates had been carefully considered, and that, on the whole, the distinctions made were reasonable. The case the hon. and gallant Gentleman had mentioned was a very hard one; but they knew very well that it was not necessary in the Service; that the arrangement proposed should be carried out—that was to say, that the present system of widows' pensions were not found to do harm to the Service generally.
§ Vote agreed to.)
§ (12.) £18,500, Pensions for Wounds.
§ (13.) £33,100, Chelsea and Kilmain-ham Hospitals.
§ (14.) £1,330,000, Out-Pensions.
§ (15.) £190,700, Superannuation Allowances.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he did not know whether it would be out of place hero to question the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War as to whether any compensation was to be paid to those who had served on the Nile. He should be, of course, subject to the ruling of the Chairman.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (16.) £49,900, Retired Allowances, &c., to Officers of the Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteer Forces.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
said, that before this Vote passed, he should like to make an appeal to the Secretary of State for War on behalf of the Militia surgeons, or, at any rate, a portion of those gentlemen who had been compulsorily retired on account of old age, and whose compulsory retirement had placed them in a position of hardship and poverty, and even destitution. It would be in the recollection of the Committee that the subject was brought before the notice of the House two years ago by the hon. Member for South. Warwickshire 175 (Sir Eardley Wilmot), who, in a speech of great detail, made out a very good case. The encouragement they had received on that occasion had induced them to bring the matter before the Committee again. At that hour of the night (12.20 A.M.) he would not go into detail; but he would just mention that in 1874 the right of Militia surgeons to pensions was admitted, and, although in 1876 a new Warrant was issued defining their retirement and pay, they were yet led to believe, by inquiries which they instituted through a not unnatural feeling of suspicion, that their existing rates would not be interfered with. Well, in 1881, a Circular was issued making retirement at the age of 65 compulsory. A certain number of these unfortunate men were summarily retired—relegated into private life, and deprived, in many instances, of all means of sustenance, and reduced to such straits that one of them, to his own knowledge, had since been an inmate of a workhouse. Some had a practice to fall back upon; but, in many instances, owing to the frequency with which these gentlemen were obliged to absent themselves from the neighbourhood of their private work, their practices were destroyed; and many of these surgeons on retiring from the Militia were too old to establish new practices. The British Medical Association, which was a very powerful body, numbering nearly 12,000, had petitioned on several occasions to have this question of pension reconsidered. There were, after all, only 20 of these gentlemen, and the pension of 6s. per day, which they thought they were entitled to, would only amount to £2,000. As by the abolition of the Militia Medical Department, £14,000 was saved to the country, they thought it not an extravagant thing that some portion of that saving should be devoted to meeting their demands, which he could not help thinking were just. All these poor old men, many of whom were spending their last few days in destitution, asked was that there might be some simple inquiry instituted. They did not ask for anything more definite. They were quite content that some inquiry should be made into their case. He would reiterate the hope, on sitting down, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would, during the Re- 176 cess, see his way to granting this inquiry, which was all that was asked for at the present time.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY, WAR DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. S. NORTHCOTE)
said, he was afraid, unfortunately, that he could not give the hon. Member a very satisfactory answer on this subject. Speaking as the mouthpiece of the War Office, he was bound to say that the difficulty lay in the premises of the hon. Gentleman. The War Office altogether denied those premises. They held that the Acts prior to that of 10 Geo. IV., treated Militia surgeons as part of the permanent Staff. That Act, however, reduced the permanent Staff, and made no provision for Militia surgeons thereon; besides which it relieved them from the obligation of residing near the head-quarters of the corps, which was still required of members left on the permanent Staff. The War Office denied the contention of the surgeons, that the 31 & 32 Vict, provided for any surgeons other than those who retired before 1829. They denied also that the surgeons had the right to claim that the terms on which they joined included irremovability on account of age, the Crown having always claimed the right to decide when they should retire. With regard to the request made by the hon. Gentleman for an inquiry, he could not go the length of promising one. The matter had already been fully investigated, and he could not, on the part of the Government, give a pledge that any further measures would be taken in that direction.
§ Vote agreed to.