§ Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty, March, 1889.
§ In the present year it is proposed to include in this Memorandum only a few details in explanation of the Estimates, and to reserve any general review of policy and progress during the past year, for a statement in the House of Commons.
§ The Estimates for 1888–9, including the Ordnance Factories' Vote, showed an anticipated expenditure of £13,710,700 for effective, and £3,027,600 for non-effective Services, making a total of £16,738,300.
§ For 1889–90, the Estimates show an expenditure of £17,335,900, of which £14,322,500 is for effective, and £3,013,400 for non-effective Services, being au increase on last year of £597,600.
§ It will be seen that the main cause of this increase is the provision made for certain Colonial garrisons, the falling off of Appropriations in Aid, but, above all, the necessity of pushing forward the re-armament of our Regular troops with weapons of the newest pattern.
§ The changes to be noticed in the various arms of the Service in the present Estimates are not very numerous. There is a total addition to the Establishment of 2,615 men.
§ Almost the whole of this increase has been occasioned by the necessity of strengthening Colonial garrisons, in view of the new armaments, either already sent out, or about to be shipped during the present year. A large addition is made, both of Infantry and Artillery, to the Garrison of Malta, besides the Militia regiment that we are encouraged to hope will be raised there. The principal other additions made are to some of our distant coaling stations; where, however, the policy is being steadily pursued of utilizing, as far as is prudent and possible, the service of Native auxiliaries.
§ It will be seen by the Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting that the work of his department has been satisfactory during the past year. Fewer men were required than in 1887 8, and it is gratifying to be able to add that desertions were fewer in number by more than 1,000. During the coming year there will be a substantial increase to the Reserve, which will, it is hoped, reach 58,300, the highest point yet attained, with the prospect of improvement in future years.
§ The Militia is, I am sorry to say, 2,039 weaker in numbers than last year. In some districts this is to be accounted for by increased competition in recruiting, owing to the somewhat different class now admitted into the ranks of the Volunteers. In several cases where the deficiency in Establishment has been very marked, adjoining battalions have been amalgamated. In others the Establishments in unfavourable localities will be diminished in order to increase them in districts more favourable to recruiting. The percentage of loss by desertion and fraud continues to decrease, and the confidential reports upon the condition of Militia battalions are on the whole extremely satisfactory. Many corps were trained last year under canvas in very wet weather, and the discipline displayed under this test was generally excellent. It is also satisfactory to be able to speak well of the officering of the Militia, which formerly caused great anxiety. It has continued to improve, although 211 Officers have been furnished to the Regular Army during the year. In accordance with a recommendation of the Select Committee on Army Estimates, the strength of the Permanent Staff has been very carefully considered, and a Quartermaster at each of the double Regimental Districts will be reduced. In future the status of the Paymaster and Orderly Room sergeants of Militia will be changed to that of Assistant Paymaster and Orderly Room sergeants. The decrease upon this Vote amounts to £25,000.
§ The Yeomanry is still suffering from agricultural depression, and shows a decrease of 304 men, but the efficiency of this branch of the Service is very favourably reported on. In the case of the Yeomanry, it has not been found possible to reduce the Permanent Staff without serious loss of efficiency, but several corps have been warned that they must be prepared for reduction of Permanent Staff or even disbandment should they not improve in numbers and attain a higher standard.
§ The annual returns of the Volunteers show a decrease in efficients of 1,366, and of enrolled men of 1,569. It will be remembered that in conceding to the Volunteers two years ago an addition to the Capitation Grant of 5s., I went beyond the recommendation of the Committee by requiring increased proficiency with the rifle as a condition of earning the whole grant. This requirement was received with gloomy for bodings by some Commanding Officers, but it is most satisfactory to be able to state that it has proved a complete success. In addition to this improvement in shooting, it may be said of the Volunteer Force at large, that it evinces each year a greater readiness to accept the reality of its responsibility, and to advance in discipline and military efficiency.
§ Many of the Officers have shown marked zeal in qualifying themselves for usefulness in the field; nor is the deficiency in the number of Officers—to which frequent allusion is made—worse than formerly. The falling off of local subscriptions towards the maintenance of the Volunteer Force has tended to throw increased expense upon the Officers, and the daily-improving efficiency of the force generally requires them to devote more time to their duties than was the case a few years ago. Cyclist Sections have been formed in many corps, and several cyclist manœuvres were organised under military supervision. Mounted Infantry Sections and machine guns have also been added to several corps.
§ The increase upon the Vote is £22,000, which is due to the grants to the Volunteer Artillery in respect of the guns recently issued to them, to the larger number of greatcoats for which grants are required, and to the additional Submarine Miners recently raised.
§ A large decrease has resulted on Vote 1 by the experimental adoption of the system of Station, instead of Regimental, Paymasters. If this can be fully carried out, it will enable a reduction of some 80 Paymasters to be made. The net saving by these changes will amount to £25,000 a year, in addition to the retired pay of the 80 Paymasters.
§ Votes 3 and 4, as to which recommendations were made by the Select Committee on Army Estimates, have undergone complete revision. In the case of military prisons, however, the changes adopted vary somewhat from those recommended by the Committee. It was found that by closing all the military prisons which were suggested, and providing for Provost prisons in substitution for them, the saving in cost would be much smaller than was then anticipated, owing to the increased charge for conveyance and for the staff of Provost prisons. It has, however, been found possible to make a much greater economy by largely reducing the cost of the Establishment of these military prisons, although only two more of them will be altogether closed.
§ The Vote for Medical Establishments (Vote 4) begins to show the effect of the measures adopted last year, which were approved by the Select Committee, and have now been carried further. The Establishment has been reduced by 52 Officers, and by utilizing the services of 25 additional retired Medical Officers at home, the growth of the Retired Pay Vote has been checked, and a large reduction will eventually be effected in the Pension List, although the full result of this step cannot be apparent for some years. A Royal Warrant has been issued, giving to the junior Medical Officers of the Guards in the future their turn of foreign service. And lastly, in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee, an inquiry, presided over by the Earl of Camperdown, is taking place into the status, and scale of remuneration and of pension now in force for Medical Officers, both of the Army and Navy. No admissions to the department will take place until the completion of this investigation.
§ The Vote for provisions is increased by £96,000. A rise in the price of the ration, which had been steadily falling for 10 years past, accounts for £49,000. The additional force absorbes £17,000, and provision has also been made for extra transport animals in South Africa.
§ The Vote for Warlike Stores and Armaments shows an increase of £394,000. I reserve, for the present, a full explanation of the many subject arising upon this Vote; but it may be pointed out that the increase is mainly due to the provision of the new magazine rifle and ammunition, and to the re-arming of the Royal Artillery with the 12-pr. gun.
§ An amount of £268,000 is taken for machine and quick-firing guns, and for ammunition in connection with the Imperial Defence Loan. But that service entails an additional charge upon Vote 9 for the transport of guns and material at home and abroad, and of £15,000, under Vote 15, for interest upon the sums to be borrowed during the first two years.
§ The Works Vote is swollen by £72,000, of which no less than £54,200 is due to the falling off of Appropriations in Aid, or, in other words, of the proceeds of sales of land.
§ A sum of £10,000 is taken for services in connection with the Royal Barracks at Dublin, the sanitary condition of which has attracted our very serious attention. But the general question of Barracks, to which attention was called by the Committee on the Army Estimates, together with some other important subjects arising out of this Vote, is reserved for further explanation in the House of Commons.
§ The growth of the War Office Vote [Vote 16] has been checked during the last three years, although the annual increments of pay amount to about £3,000. Heavy additional work has also been thrown upon the Office by the Imperial Defence Loan, by the substitution of the monthly for the half-yearly system of accounts, and by the endeavour to bring up to date the examination of the current accounts. A considerable increase of staff has, however, been avoided by throwing on the Paymasters of Stations the duty of the primary audit of the Regimental Accounts, and leaving to the War Office a test audit only.
§ Upon the Non-Effective Votes there is a net saving of £14,200, due to decreased payments by the Purchase Commissioners and a reduction in the sum required for out-pensions. The continued increase of retired pay in the Medical Department has been checked. The reduction in the General Officers' List, a scheme for which is in preparation, will also produce a considerable ultimate saving; on the other hand there is an increase of £4,900 in consequence of the number of Lieutenant-Colonels who have gone to half-pay on completing their terms of command.