§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
rose to ask the Under Secretary of State for the War Department, Whether the military authorities are prepared to take into consideration the grievances of which certain officers of the Army complain in consequence of the abolition of purchase; and also, what steps are to be taken in order to bring the subject under the notice of the said authorities? His Grace said that before he put the Question he wished to make a few remarks in connection with the subject of his inquiry. That subject was one of the greatest importance, as he thought, to the whole of the country, and of vital importance to the officers whose case he wished to have considered. It would be idle to deny to their Lordships' House and the country that for some time considerable discontent had prevailed among a great number of the officers of the Army, in consequence of the abolition of purchase and the Act passed in the year 1871. He fancied that something like three-fourths of the officers now on home service had grievances to bring forward. They thought they were very much injured by the operation of the Act, and, as was seen not long ago, they had been prepared to bring their case before Parliament in the shape of Petitions to both Houses. Now, he desired to remind their Lordships, before touching upon that part of the case, that the abolition of purchase was not an act of the Legislature. The Legislature had refused to sanction an Act in which it was embodied, and purchase was abolished by Her Majesty in Council, in the exercise of the Prerogative of the Crown. Well, in consequence of what they felt to be 1593 grievances arising from that abolition, the officers to whom he alluded resolved on petitioning Parliament; and he must say he did not think there was anything unreasonable in any body of men combining to bring their case prominently before the public. But when the fact was brought under the notice of the illustrious Duke Commanding-in-Chief, His Royal Highness deprecated the movement, on the ground that it was subversive of good order and discipline in the Army. The moment that the disapprobation of His Royal Highness was intimated to the officers they took no further steps to approach Parliament. He was far from saying that the course adopted in the matter by the illustrious Duke was not the right one; because, fortunately, the Army of this country was the Queen's Army, and not the Army of Parliament; and therefore he concurred with His Royal Highness in thinking that the proper mode of proceeding was not to petition the Legislature. He believed the correct course was for an inquiry to be instituted through the medium of a Commission appointed by Her Majesty herself. Their Lordships would recollect that during the debates on the Army Bill, in 1871, Her Majesty's Ministers, as a strong argument in its favour, stated over and over again that the arrangement then proposed was satisfactory to the officers of the Army. Captain Vivian, who was at that time Financial Secretary to the War Department, and who had since been appointed a Member of the Commission for the Abolition of Purchase, when on one occasion speaking of the measure which was then under discussion, said—Day by day he was more convinced than before that officers outside the House were not dissatisfied with the principles on which the Bill was based.…. From what he could learn, either by himself or through friends, he could assert that the officers were satisfied with the abolition of purchase on the principles which the Government had adopted in their Bill."—[3 Hansard, ccvi. 1547.]Again, when Mr. Hardy proposed to refer the claims of the officers to a Special Commission, Mr. Cardwell said—The principle of the Government Bill was not properly described as being one of compensation. It was rather a complete indemnity given to every class of officers for their fair pecuniary claims. The provisions of the Bill would, he hoped, be found to be so liberal that the House would at once be disposed to assent to 1594 them without the interposition of the delay which would be caused by referring it to a Select Committee."—[3 Hansard, ccv. 988.]He need not quote similar passages to the same effect from the speeches made by the Members of the Government when the Bill was being discussed by Parliament. Those he had quoted, and the recollection of their Lordships would bear him out in the assertion that the Government represented that the officers were satisfied with the arrangement. Well, now that after the Act had been for some time in operation the officers were dissatisfied, surely it was not unreasonable to ask for a Royal Commission. The officers said that the indemnity was not complete; but Mr. Cardwell had declared that the Government intended that it should be. The right hon. Gentleman used these words—The intention of the Bill is, and the result will be as far as lies in my power, that no officer shall be a sufferer by this Bill. I wish that the arrangement should be a full and complete indemnity, and nothing more.Again, the right hon. Gentleman said—It certainly was not intended by him to inflict any inconvenience or loss upon any officer to which he would not be subjected if the Bill did not pass.He (the Duke of Richmond) prayed the attention of their Lordships to the words he had just quoted, because they were important words. In another speech the right hon. Gentleman regretted that it was not possible for the House of Commons to hear what the officers said; which remark showed that before the Bill passed the Government were willing to take the opinion of the officers who would be affected by it. The case he was bringing under the notice of their Lordships had no reference to any one particular class of officers. Certainly, the question was not one of injury done to monied officers, because the officers principally affected were the non-purchase officers under the old system, and more particularly officers who had risen from the ranks. In 1856, there was a Royal Commission to consider the case of officers in our India Service who had a guarantee; and, in reporting the Commission, made this statement—It is obvious that a Parliamentary guarantee given under these circumstances, and referring to privileges and advantages as regards promotions and otherwise, and not to rights capable of being enforced in a Court of Justice, is to be 1595 construed not merely according to the letter, but also according to the honour and good faith of any engagement, and according to what may reasonably be supposed to have been the meaning conveyed by it to those to whom it was addressed.Though there was no Parliamentary guarantee in the case of the officers of the British Army who entered under the purchase system, there was an understanding with them, which the abolition of purchase suddenly put an end to; and he would now ask their Lordships to consider, with the aid of one or two illustrations which he would bring before them, without mentioning names, the injustice which the change had inflicted on the officers. He would first take the case of a lieutenant-colonel who had purchased his commission as ensign for £450, and had got all his other, steps without purchase. At the end of, say, 20 years he had his rank of lieutenant-colonel, and if he sold out he could have obtained £4,500 under the old system. That was a provision for himself and his wife and children. He would take an officer who had only reached the rank of captain after 15 years' service at the time the Act passed. The compensation paid to him would be only £1,800; but if the abolition had not been carried out he would have attained his majority and lieutenant-colonelcy, and then his commission would have been worth £4,500, a sum which he could not obtain for his family in consequence of the change. On the faith that they could go on from step to step in that manner, and sell out when their commission became valuable, many hundreds of officers had entered the service. He might take another case—that of the junior major of an infantry regiment, who, in consequence of the reductions which were then made, was forced to retire on half-pay. He was reconciled to being unattached for some time because he knew that by the rules of the service he would come back at a future time, to sell if not to serve. In addition to the price of his commission, he would probably have received a bonus; but if he wished to retire now he could only sell his half-pay rank. He would give another illustration, which was the case of a gentleman who had risen from the ranks, and become lieutenant and adjutant in a dragoon regiment. He might have gone on step by step till he got the command of the 1596 regiment, and at the end of 20 years he might have sold his commission for £5,000 or £6,000. Now, he would only get the price of the rank which he held. Had this gentleman known that purchase would be abolished, it would have been better for him to have stopped regimental sergeant-major. But the officers whose case was the one of the greatest hardship were the officers who had been put on compulsory half-pay—the officers of the Cape Mounted Rifles, of the Ceylon Rifles, and of the West India Regiments. They had had reason to hope that numbers of them would get on full pay again. In a pecuniary sense their case was very hard. He thought he had shown that there was a case for inquiry, and, with the numerous precedents for the appointment of a Royal Commission, he did not think there could be much difficulty in the case. He could not imagine a tribunal better adapted for inquiry into the grievances alleged by the officers than such a Commission. He could not believe that in this free country, where every man, however humble or however poor, had a right to demand justice, it would be said that the officers of the Army were the only men who were not to have their grievances redressed or their complaints inquired into. He would conclude by asking his noble Friend, Whether the military authorities are prepared to take into consideration the grievances of which certain officers of the Army complain in consequence of the abolition of purchase; and, also, what steps are to be taken in order to bring the subject under the notice of the said authorities?
§ EARL DE LA WARR
said, he was sorry to reduce this case to a level of comparison with that on which the noble Duke had placed it, but really the matter was simply one of account. The noble Duke seemed to forget that the abolition of purchase must be taken with its disadvantages as well as its advantages; but the noble Duke was so moved by the grievances of the officers whose case he advocated, that he took no account of the benefits they had derived and were deriving from the abolition of which they complained. Now, at starting, it ought to be borne in mind that in these days of progress the officers of the Army must be prepared to row in the same boat with other classes of the community; and no class of the community could 1597 get exactly what it wanted. Why? Because there was usually an inexorable difference between the views of those who had to give and those who wanted to take. There were some disadvantages in the non-purchase system; but, making one or two exceptions, the arrangements made on the abolition of purchase were of such a character that the officers of the British Army were treated with a liberality and fairness, with a reason and justice, which deprived them of all right to make the complaints they had put forward. On clear grounds of public policy it had become necessary to reconstruct our military system, and the great stronghold which stood in the way of that reconstruction was the purchase system. When it was resolved to do away with this, the Government and Parliament recognized the claims of the officers, not only for the regulation amounts paid for their commissions, but for the sums paid in excess of the regulation price—so that a great number of officers had obtained money to which they had no right according to the regulations of the service. They, at least, had nothing to complain of. Those who had purchased at the regulation price were not so fortunate. The object of the scheme of abolition was to affect the maximum of benefit, and do the minimum of injury, and he was convinced that the guardians of the public purse in the other House of Parliament would never for one moment listen to the claims now put forward through the noble Duke. The money paid for steps in the Army was so much money put out at investment: the gentlemen who had paid it would receive back their actual investments; but they could not be listened to when asking for compensation, because it had been determined by the country that there should be no more investments in that way. They must find some other sources for the investment of their money. Officers who wished to remain in the Army as a profession, must bear in mind the very great advantage that abolition of purchase was to them. It would no longer be in the power of officers who had money to play leap-frog over the heads of officers who were without it. What did Sir Henry Havelock say on the subject? That he had been passed over three times by men who had money because he had none; and that of the three who had 1598 passed over his head two were fools, and the other was a drunkard. So deeply did that distinguished man feel the grievance inflicted upon him by the purchase system, that he said he would not have remained in the service if he had the means of living out of it. There were many officers who received much more than they had ever paid. He would now point to a defect in the new system. He thought the powers of the Commissioners for the Abolition of Purchase ought to be enlarged, so as to enable them to include among those entitled to compensation officers who ought never to have been excluded—for instance, old officers who at the time of the reduction were placed on the half-pay list without any desire of their own. They had lost an opportunity, and he thought they ought to be compensated for the loss; but if that one inequality were redressed, he would say that a large measure of substantial justice had been and would be meted out to the officers of the British service under the arrangements of 1871.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
said, that having served as Chairman of a Commission which considered the subject of Abolition of Purchase, he felt more than a common interest in the discussion. He desired to state that he went into that Commission in favour of the purchase system; but during the progress of the proceedings of the Commission, and from the evidence that he heard given, he came to the opposite conclusion, and arrived at the conviction that it was desirable to abolish that system. It was felt by himself and other members of the Commission that there would be great difficulty in providing a scheme which would do justice to all parties; and accordingly he had watched the measure of 1871 with the closest interest. Having done so, he must say there were two points on which he was dissatisfied. He did not think Parliament had done justice to the Army, and, on the other hand, he did not think it had done justice to the public. The evils to which he referred would arise from the slowness of promotion. The promotion in the Army would be so slow that they would have to meet it hereafter by the adoption of some further measure. With reference to the question brought before the House by the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) he thought there was a 1599 case for further inquiry. He agreed that the officers should not petition Parliament in the matter—it was a mistake for officers of the Army or officers of the Navy to appeal to Parliament; but for that very reason, if it was felt there was a grievance, there ought to be an inquiry. He would not go into any grievances, because he knew that those technical details were difficult of explanation, and he was not competent for the task; but they ought to be inquired into by some competent authority. The noble Earl who had just spoken (Earl De La Warr) said there was a balance of advantages and disadvantages; but surely it was the intention of Parliament in 1871 that what was just and fair should be done in respect of the officers. If the intention of Parliament had not been carried out, surely it was its duty to do now what it intended to do in 1871.
§ LORD VIVIAN
said, that no doubt the noble Earl (Earl De La Warr) had put forward the best plea he could for the Abolition Commission, of which he was a member, but he had heard no argument from the noble Earl. He thought that an inquiry by Royal Commission was the proper course of procedure, because he did not approve Petitions to Parliament from officers of the Army; but it was at the same time necessary that Parliament should have a knowledge of any grievance that really existed, in order that they might apply the remedy. For himself, he believed that a grave injustice had been done, and thought there should be inquiry by an independent authority. The noble Earl had told them that the officers of the Army were in the same boat with the other classes of the community. For himself, he should not like to be in any boat of which the War Office had the steering.
§ LORD ABINGER
said, he hoped the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) would be more successful in his Motion than he himself was last year when he made a somewhat similar attempt. He was surprised that after his many years in the service the noble Earl (Earl De La Warr) was not better acquainted with the feelings of the officers; but the noble Earl did not seem to be much better acquainted with the feelings of the House of Commons, or he would have remembered that on the question of paying the officers money down, the 1600 Government majority was reduced to 16. With reference to the petitions which officers had intended to send to Parliament, he would beg to point out that there had been nothing at all like "combination," and in that respect he thought the noble Duke might be misunderstood. He was entirely against the signing by officers of Petitions addressed to Parliament, because he regarded the practice as a dangerous one, and as opposed to one of the very first principles of military discipline; but he could assure their Lordships that Colonel Anson had been exceedingly careful that there should be nothing like even the appearance of combination. The hon. and gallant colonel did not send any forms of Petitions to the Guards, the Cavalry, or colonels of regiments. The Petitions were the individual Petitions of subalterns. When the signing of those Petitions was stopped no fewer than 1,600 had been already signed, which showed that there must be much dissatisfaction in the Army. There was no great difficulty in stating what the question was between the Government and the officers. In his opinion the proposition put forward by the Government was not fair to the officers, for it would subject them to an amount of loss exactly equivalent to what the Government would pocket by death-vacancies. Even to what were called the "fortunate men," it was not fair, because it left them in a very much less favourable position than that which they would have occupied if purchase had not been abolished. Besides this pecuniary loss, the senior officers would have a right to complain that those serving under them were in a better position than themselves. When first the question of the abolition of purchase was under discussion in that House, he had made a proposition which he believed was a very fair one, and would give general satisfaction. It was that the Government should give the officers the option—say within six months—of receiving their regulation money down, or, on quitting the service, receiving the whole of the regulation and over-regulation money. The demands of the officers and the justice of the case might thus be met.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said, he wished, before he proceeded to give the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Richmond) specific answers to the 1601 Questions which he had put on the Paper, to make a few remarks on the arguments by which those Questions had been prefaced. He was anxious at the outset to guard himself, he might add, against being supposed to pronounce any anticipatory opinion with respect to cases which had not yet been brought officially under the notice of the War Department; but he must, on the other hand, be permitted to observe that the noble Duke had made a somewhat ex parte statement with reference to the grievances to which he had drawn their Lordships' attention. He concurred with the noble Earl behind him (Earl De La Warr) in thinking that no statement could be looked upon as a fair one which did not contain both a debtor and creditor side of the account. He had hoped that the case against him would be limited to the non-purchase officers, and he was glad to notice that one time-honoured argument was omitted, at all events, by the noble Duke; that argument had, however, been revived by a subsequent speaker, who alleged that the purchase officers having paid for their commissions and their earlier steps considerable sums of money, were now practically doing the same duties and serving at a less rate of pay than their brother officers who had laid out no money at all. It should, however, be borne in mind that before the abolition of purchase those gallant officers had served under precisely similar disadvantages. The Government had not made their case worse; while if the House would look for a moment to the other side of the account, these officers gained very considerably. They now risked a much less sum than that with which, like a mill-stone round their necks, they formerly went into action, and, besides this, they secured their further promotion without further payment. They were, therefore, not losers, but gainers by the way in which they were affected by recent changes. Passing from those to the case of the non-purchase officers, there were, it appeared to him, some important considerations which the noble Duke opposite had overlooked. The noble Duke opposite said that many of those officers, on entering the Army, had paid for their first commissions with the reasonable hope of serving on until they had reached a grade when they would be able to sell 1602 out for a good sum, and thus make provision for their families. The result of the changes made, the noble Duke went on to argue, would be to limit a captain in November, 1871, to receive £1,800, instead of a larger sum, and for the officer in his opinion so aggrieved the noble Duke demanded that compensation in some shape should be given. The noble Duke was, however, entirely in error in supposing that a captain so situated would necessarily be limited to the receipt of £1,800; and further, he would rise in his profession with a facility which had not previously existed, and he would be able at the proper time to commute the higher grade of half-pay to which he became entitled. In many cases, that commuted half-pay, taking into account the accompanying circumstances, would make the officer's position by no means so disadvantageous as the noble Duke seemed to apprehend. He would now pass from the merits of the case to the possibility of compensating officers in the position mentioned by the noble Duke. How did the noble Duke, he would ask, propose to distinguish in that respect between the case of purchase and non-purchase officers? It was out of the question to say that A or B belonged to the one class and not to the other, and that therefore his next step would, under any circumstances, have come to him gratuitously. Purchase and non-purchase officers could not be thus distinguished. There were officers who purchased their earlier steps, and obtained the later ones without payment; there were others, again, who began as non-purchase officers, and eventually purchased a step of promotion later in their military career. If, then, any attempt was made to distinguish between the case of an officer aggrieved, as alleged, and others who ought not to be considered as aggrieved, it must, as it seemed to him, result in creating inextricable confusion. The noble Duke went on to refer to the position of half-pay officers. He said there were a certain number of officers, some of whom had been placed on half-pay owing to no fault of their own, and in consequence of the reduction of the Army, who might before the recent changes were made have expected to be brought back without payment by His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, and to have sold out when so 1603 brought back, and obtained their over regulation money. He must, however, remind the noble Duke that it was a very rare thing for an officer situated as he had described to be brought back except after a money payment. His Royal Highness would correct him if he was wrong, but he believed that the only instance in which such a thing occurred was when there was what was known as "a clear vacancy," or when it became necessary to bring in an officer for some particular purpose, or, again, in the event of an augmentation of the Army. The chance, therefore, of being brought back was so minute that the grievance complained of was not a substantial one. The grievance, moreover, was one which existed long before the abolition of purchase, and had been caused by reductions in the Army, which placed these officers in a position of forced inactivity. He should like, however, to show the House how officers on half-pay had by recent changes been affected greatly to their advantage. Since November, 1871, one lieutenant-colonel had been brought back to full pay, who, had not purchase been abolished, would have been obliged to pay for his restoration. Seven majors also had been brought back; three of whom would have had to pay; 10 captains, seven of whom would have had to pay; and 24 lieutenants, 11 of whom would have found themselves in a similar position. He wished, in addition, to point out another alleviation of the half-pay list arising from the fact that 59 half-pay colonels had been provided for in consequence of the establishment of the brigade centres scattered throughout the country; while the whole of the half-pay lieutenants eligible for employment had been brought back. The recent changes had, therefore, operated distinctly to the advantage of that very class of officers who, in the opinion of the noble Duke, had been treated so unjustly. As to another complaint which had been made, that relating to exchanges between officers, he could not see how, after money payments had been abolished, it would be possible to permit a continuation of pecuniary arrangements of this kind, except so far as they came within the limitations imposed by the War Department with the concurrence of His Royal Highness. Turning to another aspect of the question, the 1604 noble Duke behind him (the Duke of Somerset) spoke of a double injustice, one to the officers and the other to the public, contending that, in spite of what had been done to secure the flow of promotion, something like a dead-lock would be produced. The time for considering how to remedy a dead-lock would be when that dead-lock had arisen. It had been argued in the public prints that there was such a dead-lock at this moment because the age of the captains lately promoted to the rank of major was very much above the normal standard. That fact was, however, easily explained, because the captains in question were officers whose length of service had necessarily been very great, and who, finding the obstacles that were formerly in their way removed, were now rapidly obtaining the promotion from which they were so long debarred. The remedy proposed by the noble and gallant Lord opposite (Lord Abinger) involved the immediate re-payment of a part of the purchase money of the officers. He (the Marquis of Lansdowne) could not understand how such a proposal could be adopted. Under the purchase system an officer was entitled to realize the value of his commission in a certain event, and in a certain event only; but the noble and gallant Lord proposed that although that event did not occur, the officer ought to be paid the money nevertheless. That seemed a very strange proceeding, and was an arrangement to which those who had to find the money would no doubt strongly object. The noble Duke behind him (the Duke of Somerset) suggested that the War Department should use for some such purpose the money which Parliament had voted; but there was a great fallacy in saying that Parliament had voted those £8,000,000. Parliament had voted nothing of the kind. When purchase was abolished the Secretary of State told the House what the anticipated cost of the arrangement might be. That was an estimate, and an outside estimate; but there was a wide difference between an actual and the estimated sum; and if, because their estimate had been so many millions, they were to pay that or any large amount down on the nail, they would be exceeding the powers given them at the time. With regard to the question whether the Military Authorities were prepared to take into consideration the 1605 grievances of which certain officers of the Army complained in consequence of the abolition of purchase, he (the Marquis of Lansdowne) answered that the Military Authorities were prepared to take that subject into their consideration. It was not for him to dwell on the course which had been adopted by His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, on the one hand, and the officers of the Army on the other; but he was sure their Lordships would agree with him that that course adopted deserved nothing but approval. His Royal Highness had been in communication with certain gallant officers who were closely identified with the cause which the noble Duke had advocated; and he would now read to their Lordships an extract from a Memorandum on the subject, which had been drawn up with the concurrence of His Royal Highness for the information of Sir Percy Herbert. The Memorandum said—The course to be pursued by officers who may at any time consider themselves in any manner professionally aggrieved is to forward their representations, with a respectful request for an impartial inquiry, through their commanding officers. In the present special case, in which numerous officers have, in deference to the expressed opinion of His Royal Highness the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, abstained from forwarding petitions for presentation to the House of Parliament, the Adjutant-General is directed to state, for the information of Major-General Sir Percy Herbert and all officers concerned, that the course to be pursued is to submit their individual statements to their commanding officers, to be forwarded through the General Officers commanding districts, to the Military Secretary, for his Royal Highness's consideration. A general statement, embodying the particulars complained of under different heads, would facilitate the fair investigation of each class.Those grievances, then, being about to be brought under the consideration of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, he would not now dwell any further upon them, and would only conclude by pointing out to the noble Duke and the noble Lord behind him that, until that legitimate channel had been resorted to, and the official inquiry referred to in the Memorandum terminated, it would be premature at least to say anything about a Royal Commission. The opinion of the Department was that the provisions of the Army Regulation Act were, on the whole, extremely beneficial to the officers in a pecuniary point of view. In some cases there might possibly be a slight loss to them; but gene- 1606 rally speaking, they would derive a distinct gain. As to individual cases of alleged grievance, they would be inquired into, and that inquiry would, he was convinced, be conducted in a generous and honourable spirit.
§ THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
wished to make a few remarks because this question had arisen from the fact that, in his capacity of Commander-in-Chief, he had expressed a very strong opinion that it would be highly indecorous for the officers of the Army to petition Parliament—an opinion which he was happy to find met with the approval of both sides of that House. It was right that he should clearly point out the course which it was open to the officers of the Army to adopt in making known any grievances which they might feel. He, for one, as representing the Army, should most strongly object to the supposition that its officers were debarred from the common privilege enjoyed by every one of Her Majesty's subjects of making a statement of their grievances. There was no question about that; the only question was as to the form and mode in which the statement should be made. The Crown was the authority under which the Army served; and the Commander-in-Chief was the authority under the Crown, at the head of the Army, to which the officers had a right, and a proper right, to make a statement of any of their grievances. If the Commander-in-Chief thought there was a case for consideration, it would become his duty to go with it to the Secretary of State as the representative of the Government. If, on the other hand, the Commander-in-Chief was of opinion that there was no case, he had a perfect right to reject the petition altogether. To say, then, that officers of the Army had no power to bring their case forward because they could not petition Parliament was to convey an altogether erroneous impression; and he was extremely anxious to take that occasion of explaining that the fact was not so. He might state shortly what was the course which the officers ought to have followed. Within the last few days a communication had been made to him—as stated by his noble Friend (the Marquess of Lansdowne)—on the part of a Member of Parliament, asking what course the officers would be justified in adopting without the infringement of 1607 any regulation or any breach of those sound views of discipline which ought to be maintained. That course was a very simple one. They were allowed to make their statement to their commanding officer. Then the commanding officer was bound to forward the statement to the General Officer of the district, who, in turn, sent it to the Commander-in-Chief. As it was understood that a very large number of officers conceived themselves to be affected, and must be affected, upon the several heads under which they complained, he had authorized them to make a general statement, and he was prepared to accept that statement as a matter of convenience under special heads, by which it might be known under each head how many officers were affected in the different classes. That was the legitimate course which officers were permitted to take whenever it was necessary to do so. It would never have done for him, or for any authority in his position, even if he had known that there were complaints, to have invited those complaints. Take the case of the Line officers who felt aggrieved by the increase of rank given to the officers of the Artillery and Engineers. What happened? They had petitions from individual officers in regard to their supersession. It had been his duty to lay all those statements before the Secretary of State; and although he was not in a position to say what might be the result of those representations, he had no reason to suppose for a moment that the Secretary of State was not quite willing to look into every individual case, and, if a grievance were made out, to deal with it as frankly and fairly as the circumstances might require. That was the course which had never been objected to. He did not desire to encourage grievances; but when great changes were carried out no doubt difficulties might arise in special cases, and it was quite right that they should be brought to public notice and removed as far as possible. He felt that he was the last person in that House who should give any opinion on any of the questions of policy which had been mooted that night. It would ill become him in his official capacity to say a word pro or con. on a matter not yet officially before him, although he was necessarily aware that much might be said on various bearings of the case. His 1608 silence would, therefore, be understood as involving no want of respect to their Lordships, but as being attributable to his duty to hold himself aloof until these cases were brought before him, so that he could then go into them without having previously committed himself in any way. He hoped to be permitted to say that a contented Army was a most essential thing, and he trusted, therefore, that whatever was done would tend to put an end to those constant complaints and annoyances, which did not conduce either to good discipline or to the good feeling which ought to prevail in the Army.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
said, he did not wish to reply to the statement of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne), though he disagreed from nearly everything he had said. He regretted that the Government had not thought fit to appoint a Royal Commission. The illustrious Duke the Commander-in-Chief would forgive him for saying that he had not quite explained the mode in which the decision of the Government was to be promulgated to the Army. He presumed that the view of His Royal Highness, when fault was found with the officers for proposing to petition Parliament, was communicated to the Army by some General Order, addressed to the Generals commanding districts, and through them to officers commanding regiments, so that every officer would have it before him and would know the course to be pursued. He would suggest to His Royal Highness, considering the discontent which undoubtedly prevailed among the officers, that it would be a satisfactory mode of letting them know that their complaints would be inquired into if he would intimate through a General Order that such was the case.
§ THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
replied that the objection to such a course was that the Regulations of the Army clearly indicated how the thing ought to be done. It would be absurd, therefore, to issue a General Order. His opinion as regarded petitioning Parliament was communicated, not by a General Order, but by a Circular to general officers commanding districts, stating what his opinion was, and that he considered it was their duty to see it was carried out.