THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
inquired of the Secretary of State for War what pay and allowances the officers and soldiers about to be sent to China were to receive; and whether he would lay upon the table of the House an estimate or return showing the comparative cost of the British regiments serving in the Persian Gulf and upon the coast of China? He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) understood that the troops about to serve in China were not likely to receive such high pay as the troops serving in the Persian Gulf; and he could not understand upon what ground the distinction was to be made, seeing that the troops about to proceed to China were embarking upon an enterprise fraught with danger to their lives and health, and one in which there would be as little excitement or hope of glory as any in which British troops could be employed. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough), the other night, had alluded to the camp followers in India. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) confessed he was ignorant of the necessity of attaching camp followers to the English troops on their arrival in China; but he had no doubt such necessity existed, inasmuch as their services appeared always to have been in requisition. Be that as it might, he should be glad to hear from his noble Friend the Secretary of State for War a reply to the question he had put to him.
§ LORD PANMURE
My noble Friend is quite right in one respect—there is a difference between the pay of the troops serving in the Persian expedition and that 2391 of the troops about to be sent out in the expedition to China. The troops serving in the Persian expedition are drawn from the Indian establishment, and have been receiving the regular pay and allowances assigned to troops belonging to the East India Company; but the troops going from this country to China are in a different position. They are now going on an expedition from this country, which is to be paid for out of the funds of this country, and they will not be put on the same pay and allowances as the East India Company assigns to our troops serving within their territories. The troops will receive the usual pay, and every precaution besides will be taken that their rations—which will be above what are called the ordinary rations in time of war—are prepared and served with a view to the maintenance of their health; but there will be no increase of pay to the troops absolutely. With reference, however, to the officers, there is by the regulations an allowance called an "extraordinary field allowance," which every officer receives in advance, preparatory to taking the field. The officers will receive six months of this extraordinary field allowance, which will enable them to prepare for taking the field. But in Hong Kong there is a colonial allowance, as at the Mauritius and Ceylon, paid to the troops serving in that colony, and on arriving at Hong Kong that will be made good to the troops going out on this expedition, so as to place them in the same position as the troops now serving at Hong Kong. These are our intentions with regard to the troops about to serve in the Chinese expedition, and I shall have no objection to lay upon the table a return of the nature for which the noble Marquess has asked. I have only to add that, while this expedition will be conducted with a due regard to economy, every attention will be at the same time paid to the health of the troops and to their maintenance in a state of efficiency; and, for that purpose, the Government has resolved that, as the troops will land in China when the hot weather will prevail, an adequate number of camp followers from India shall be attached to them, and General Ashburnham has been instructed to apply his Indian experience in apportioning those camp followers among the troops on their arrival at Hong Kong. In addition to that, arrangements will be made at Penang for conveying the sick by means of steam vessels 2392 between Hong Kong and that station; and I trust that every precaution will be taken to prevent that sacrifice of life from disease which unfortunately happened among the troops during the former expedition to China.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
The noble Lord is mistaken in supposing there is any difference in the pay of the privates—the only difference is in the allowance to the officers on the East India Establishment. With respect to the camp followers, the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Clanricarde) will, perhaps, by this time be satisfied of the necessity of attaching them to the expedition. Among those camp followers there are people called cooks, who, according to our notions, are certainly a necessary class of persons, and water-carriers who may be said to be invaluable. I should observe, also, that camp followers contribute considerably to the efficiency of a regiment, inasmuch as all these duties must be performed by the soldiers if not performed by them. From what fell from the noble Baron, I understand that, with true English feeling, he is about to supply the troops going to China with more to eat. Now, from considerable experience of hot climates, I can assure him that that is the very worst thing he can do; that in such climates the less a man eats the better, and that what the noble Baron proposes will be the greatest mistake he ever committed. I can assure the noble Baron that, if he ever went to India, it would be quite impossible for him to take that indulgence in the way of living which I dare say he takes now without the slightest harm. Passing from this, it appears to me that the Government are pursuing a course which is within the strict letter of the regulations; but, at the same time, I venture to represent that these officers will have to incur a great expense in fitting themselves out for this war. They will be required to prepare not for garrison duty only, but for actual warfare—a warfare, too, in which many things will be necessary which may be dispensed with in a European contest. If, therefore, any indulgence can be extended to them consistent with the interests of the service, and not leading to the establishment of an inconvenient precedent, it would be most desirable that such indulgence should be granted. Before sitting down I wish to call the attention of the noble Earl the President of the Council to an expression 2393 which fell from him last night with reference rather to France than to China, and which surely must have escaped him inadvertently. The noble Earl stated that the relations between this country and France were never of a more friendly character, and he expressed great satisfaction that French troops would again co-operate with our own in China. Now, I imagine the word "troops" must have been used inaccurately, and that the noble Earl only alluded to a marine force. But, my Lords, I most deeply regret that there is to be any co-operation whatever. We know nothing of any quarrel which the Emperor of the French has with the Emperor of China. We know that we have none with the Emperor of China. Our quarrel is at present confined to the Cantonese and to Commissioner Yeh; and nothing could be so inconvenient, so inconsistent with justice and with policy, as to extend that quarrel to the Emperor of China, and to light up a war in all the other ports as well as in that of Canton. My Lords, I deprecate the intervention of France at this moment. Why should she take advantage of the difficulty in which we are placing China in order to obtain for herself terms to which she is not entitled? There is no pretence for such intervention, and I can hardly imagine expressions which I should think too strong to apply to the conduct of our Government if we were to take advantage of a disposition on the part of France thus to interfere for her own purposes in order to obtain the assistance (of most questionable value) which would be afforded by the presence of a French squadron in the Chinese waters. We desire peace; we desire the re-establishment of friendly relations; we do not desire to extort new terms from the Emperor of China; we desire only to stand where we were, and to relieve ourselves from the difficulties in which Governor Bowring has plunged us. There is one other point, upon which I feel very strongly, and upon which I must venture to offer what can only be a suggestion to Her Majesty's Government, because I have not that knowledge of the facts which they possess, and which may lead them, possibly, to a different conclusion. I regret the accidental absence of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, because what I am about to say relates perhaps more particularly to his department. We have now a force at Bushire which is amply sufficient for the protection of that place. A force of about the same 2394 strength has been despatched from Bombay, and has not yet arrived. Those troops, I imagine, were not intended to strengthen the garrison in Bushire, already sufficient, but to conduct some new operation. Whatever was the course of proceeding determined on, the force in question is obviously not required at Bushire. There, as I understood the noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon), no movement was to take place on either side until the ratification of the treaty. That new force therefore cannot move at Bushire, and can do nothing whatever. Now, I beg to suggest to the Government that they should instantly send positive orders to Bushire to despatch one European regiment and two native regiments of that force to China. The presence of those troops may be absolutely required for the protection of Singapore and Hong Kong. I feel satisfied that without the assistance of Native troops, the efforts, however gallant they may be, if the European troops we are sending will be of little or no avail, and that great risk will be encountered with little chance of success. These orders—absolute orders, leaving no discretion whatever to the officer in command, for I feel perfectly satisfied that if the least discretion were left to him he would keep the troops with him—would arrive at Bushire hence, I trust, in a month, and in a month from that time these troops would be at Singapore and Hong Kong. On the other hand the troops we are now sending out will not arrive in China for three months and a half, and the gain in these six weeks may be invaluable for the protection of our interests. There may be circumstances with which I am unacquainted which may render inexpedient this movement. I venture only to suggest it to the Government as a measure which, in my opinion, should be instantly adopted.
§ LORD PANMURE
I have to thank the noble Earl for his suggestion. In all these matters he has given many valuable hints, some of which I have availed myself of, and I am sure that the counsel he tenders is offered with no other desire than that of being useful. With reference to the rations of the troops, alluded to by the noble Earl, I will just state that the object is not to increase the quantity served out to the troops to eat and drink, but to diversify their food so as to conduce more completely to their health and efficiency.
§ EARL GREY
I confess that I have listened with some alarm to the conversation which has taken place this evening. When 2395 first it was announced that this force was to be sent out we were told that it was to protect the lives and property of British subjects in China. It now appears that a very large force is going to be sent, and that this force (if I correctly understand what has been said) is to be equipped in a manner which shall enable them to undertake operations of some importance on shore. Now, I do hope and trust we are not going to embark in that most dangerous and fatal measure—an invasion of the great empire of China. I hope that Her Majesty's Government, in pursuing the measures which they are now taking, have some clear and definite object before them—because, as far as we are yet informed, no such object appears to be in view. After all, my Lords, what do we want with China? Our interest in China is simply to carry on our trade. If we are to embark in a war, every blow which we inflict on China will recoil upon ourselves. We cannot destroy property in China, we cannot burn towns there and lay waste, or cause others to lay waste, any portion of territory, without, by such a destruction of Chinese property, rendering them worse customers of ours and less able to supply us with the goods we want from them. We were told at first that British lives and British property only were to be protected. For my own part, I confess that, with a very large naval force, and a certain amount of military force also, I cannot conceive how British property can be in any danger. Hong Kong is an island very easily defended, for the Chinese are totally incapable of competing with us at sea; Singapore is in the same position; and, at the four ports, I trust that, if prudential measures are adopted, anything like a struggle will be avoided. Of this, however, I am quite certain, that if we are to attempt anything like an invasion of China, we are at the beginning of a system which, once entered upon, it will be very difficult to put a stop to, and which will be most fatal to the true interests of this country.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I really think that in my noble Friend's very earnest and conscientious wish to preserve peace he sometimes overlooks the most obvious means of arriving at that end. I cannot imagine any of your Lordships will believe that the Plenipotentiary whom Her Majesty's Government have determined to send out to re-establish satisfactory relations between the two countries is less likely to accomplish that object if backed up by a considerable 2396 naval and military force. As to my affording any intimation with regard to the instructions which will be given to the commanders of this force, I am sure my noble Friend will, upon reflection, be the last to press me to make any such disclosure.
§ House adjourned at half-past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, Twelve o'clock.