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Army—Defensive Forces Of This Country—Question

Volume 203: debated on Monday 1 August 1870

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I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether in the present warlike aspect of Continental Affairs, taking into account the large armies brought into the field, and the sudden manner in which war has been proclaimed, it would not be advisable to lose no time in augmenting the defensive forces of the Country by at once increasing the Militia, and adding to the effective strength of the Royal Artillery; and, whether efficient arrangements exist for enabling the Regular Forces, Militia, and Volunteers to take the field thoroughly equipped in point of arms, camp equipage, and commissariat? I have also another Question to ask, and, although I have not given the right hon. Gentleman Notice of it, I am sure he will be delighted to answer it. The 44th Regiment is, at present, under immediate orders for embarkation to the Cape of Good Hope; and I wish to ask whether, taking these circumstances into consideration, that order will not be countermanded?

Sir, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government, as I have already announced, by bringing up a Supplementary Estimate, to augment the defensive forces of the country. In so doing no doubt the state of the Militia and of the Royal Artillery will receive the due consideration of Her Majesty's Government; but I take this opportunity of observing that the Militia has already been recruited up to its full extent. [Mr. OSBORNE: Not in Ireland.] No, not in Ireland; but in this country it has been recruited up to its full extent. With regard to the Royal Artillery, I am not prepared to admit anything that would tend to show that they are not in the most efficient state. With regard to the second Question, if it is to be supposed that the supply departments have been maintained in a condition equal to the supply of an Army of between 350,000 and 400,000 men, I must answer it in the negative; but if it means that those departments have sufficient expansiveness to enable them to meet the probable requirements of the service, I answer it in the affirmative. As to the 44th Regiment, it is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to send that regiment abroad.