House Of Commons
Tuesday, 2nd August, 1870.
MINUTES.]—SUPPLY— considered in Committee—SUPPLEMENTARY ARMY ESTIMATES; Vote of £2,000,000: CIVIL SERVICE ESTIMATES.
WAYS AND MEANS — considered in Committee—Consolidated Fund (£24,281,493).
PUBLIC BILLS — Second Reading — Inclosure * debate adjourned; Stamp Duties Management * .
Committee — Report—Constabulary (Ireland)* ; Meeting of Parliament* ; Canada (Guarantee of Loan)* ; Stamp Duties ( re-comm.)* [209–250]; Beerhouses* ; Passengers Act Amendment * .
Committee— Report— Considered as amended— Third Reading—Post Office* , and passed.
Considered as amended— Third Reading—Census (Ireland)* , and passed.
Third Reading — Census (Scotland)* ; Siam and Straits Settlements Jurisdiction* ; Glebe Loans (Ireland) ; Corrupt Practices Acts Amendment* , and passed,
Withdrawn—Parishioners' Rights* .
The House met at Two of the clock.
Jamaica—Seizure Of The Schooner "La Have"—Question
said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether there will be any objection to lay before the House Copy of the Despatches and Correspondence between the Governor of Jamaica and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and all other Documents and Papers relating to the seizure of the Schooner "La Have" at Jamaica in the year 1869 by the authority of the said Governor; and, whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to reimburse the Colony the sum paid on account of such seizure?
said, in reply, that it was the intention of the Government to reimburse the Colony of Jamaica the sum paid on account of the seizure of the schooner La Have at Jamaica in the year 1869; and, under these circumstances, his hon. and learned Friend would probably agree with him that it would not be necessary to put the country to the expense of printing the correspondence.
France And Prussia—Alleged Draft Treaty—Question
said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, having regard to the recent revelations which have taken place as to the secret negotiations of France and Prussia, Her Majesty's Government will not now feel at liberty to make public the negotiations which were instituted by the late Earl of Clarendon with a view to induce those Powers to consent to a mutual disarmament, in order that the grounds on which that proposal was rejected may be made known; and, referring to the statement contained in the Despatch of Lord Granville (Correspondence No. 114), that on July 13 Baron Brunnow expressed his anxiety to preserve European peace, and suggested to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that a Protocol should be drawn up by the Great Powers recognising the renunciation by the Prince of Hohenzollern of the Crown of Spain as a sufficient and satisfactory settlement of the differences between France and Prussia, to ask why the proposal to draw up such a Protocol was not earned into effect, by which means the collective judgment of Europe as to the insufficiency of the causes alleged for the present War might have been publicly declared, and brought to bear upon the belligerents before hostilities were finally resolved upon? He wished also to add a few words to the last Question, Whether any attempt has been made to procure a combined remonstrance, on the part of the Powers of Europe, in behalf of the civilized world against this unnecessary war?
Sir, the Questions of my hon. and learned Friend are of importance, and I will endeavour to give him the best answer I can. I should have done it with more fulness if the Questions had been asked in the course of debate. With regard to the first Question, my hon. and learned Friend asks whether, having regard to the recent revelations which have been made as to the secret negotiations of France and Prussia, Her Majesty's Government will now feel at liberty to make public the negotiations which were instituted by the late Earl of Clarendon with a view to induce those powers to consent to a mutual disarmament. We do not depart from the ground we have already taken. My hon. and learned Friend should understand that the term "negotiations" is hardly applicable to this case. Communications they were; "negotiations" they can hardly be said to have been. Lord Clarendon, in his individual capacity, was the medium of these communications, and in some sense the author of these communications; and any papers relating to them, except incidental notices in his letters to me, or my letters to him, are positively his own private papers in the possession of his representatives. I do not think that itself would be a sufficient cause for our declining to state the whole circumstances of the case if we had thought it would be expedient; but, in our view of the case, it is not expedient. Acting as between both sides, Lord Clarendon was not a principal, but an agent; and it is the two principals in whose undoubted competency it lies to tell their own story if they think fit. The objection we entertain is not only an objection of form; we feel that detailing the facts to the world would inevitably assume the aspect of partiality towards one party or the other, which we are above all things anxious to avoid. There is no practical difficulty; it is perfectly open to either or both to tell everything that passed. They both know well we do not claim silence. There is nothing to restrain their free action in the case. The second Question will require me to refer to the correspondence which has been laid on the Table. I must regret that that admirable and valuable invention of the telegraph, important and beneficial as it is in many respects, is certainly attended with this unfortunate result—that it is a matter of excessive difficulty, and almost impossible for those taking interest in these proceedings, to follow with precision in the order of time the transactions recorded in this correspondence. I will endeavour to state the case as clearly as I can. My hon. and learned Friend refers to the statement of Lord Granville, No. 114 of the Correspondence, that, on the 13th of July, Baron Brunnow expressed his anxiety to preserve European peace, and suggested to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that a Protocol should be drawn up by the great Powers, recognizing the renunciation by the Prince of Hohenzollern of the Crown of Spain as a sufficient and satisfactory settlement of the differences between France and Prussia, and asks why the proposal to draw up such a Protocol was not carried into effect, by which means the collective judgment of Europe as to insufficiency of the causes alleged for the present war might have been publicly declared and brought to bear upon the belligerents before hostilities were finally resolved upon. Now, Sir, my hon. Friend will find, upon reference to the Papers, those things—In the first place, the suggestion made by Baron Brunnow was not an authoritative communication made by him on the part of the Russian Government, committing the Russian Government to any proceeding whatever. It was a mere friendly suggestion from himself, conceived, no doubt, with the best intentions, but suggesting to us—putting on us the responsibility of taking the initiative, and laying on us a particular form in which that initiative might be taken. It was, therefore, a matter in which we should not consider Russia as prepared to be a party alone or with us if we undertook the action, but one method of acting which it was our duty to compare with others having a similar object in view. It was not until the 18th of July, when it was past all question of intercepting the mischief, that the suggestion was received in an official shape. The suggestion was received in the Foreign Office on the 14th of July. In the afternoon the British Government had no reason whatever—I think I am accurate in saying this—no reason whatever to think that the renunciation of Prince Leopold's candidature would not terminate this painful controversy. It was at three o'clock on that day, as my hon. and learned Friend will see from Lord Lyons' letter on the 13th of July, that a telegram was sent off by Lord Lyons to the effect that the Due do Gramont had stated in the Legislature that negotiations with Prussia were not concluded; and, therefore, he was not in a position to make any statement to the House. It was those momentous words of the Due do Gramont which first plainly convoyed to us that the peace of Europe was endangered. But we were not in possession of those words when Baron Brunnow called on Lord Granville and made the suggestion on his own personal responsibility. It was some time in the course of the 13th of July; I will assume that it was some time on that evening that the intelligence, though not the precise character of the words, reached us. When we did find ourselves in possession of the words, and did see that danger was existing, we had to consider for ourselves what was the best thing to be done; and we decided that it would have been a very doubtful measure indeed to have acted upon the suggestion of Baron Brunnow, because the communications that would have been required with the various Powers of Europe, and the necessity for their communicating one with another, and the questions that might arise with regard to the wording of such a proposal, impede- ments of form and time, even supposing that no substantial impediment had arisen, would have rendered the use of this instrument much too tardy to be applied to the conjuncture before us. And, therefore, we thought it best—having been invited on the part of France to interpose, and our friendly offices not having been in the slightest degree repelled by Prussia—to send the suggestion, which is detailed in the Papers, with a view to the preservation of the peace of Europe—namely, to induce France not to insist on the statement which she had demanded from Prussia, and to induce Prussia to consent to what was actually done—namely, to make known the part which the King had taken in withdrawing his consent from the candidateship of Prince Leopold. My hon. and learned Friend adds to this question this—whether any remonstrances have been addressed to each country—he did not say by one Power more than another—[Mr. VERNON HARCOURT: I said a combined remonstrance on the part of the Powers of Europe.]—whether any combined remonstrance has been addressed to both these parties upon their conduct in making a war for which, there are no justifiable causes. No; the two Powers have been left, as far as it is a matter of interest to them, to collect the judgment of the several countries upon the causes or pleas for the war from the communications that have been made. As far as regards the British Government, from the Papers that have been laid on the Tables of Parliament, I think that their opinion upon most of the points that have arisen has been expressed with sufficient clearness, and I am afraid that a combined remonstrance addressed to the two Powers already unhappily engaged in hostilities would have little effect except to produce exasperation. And, with great respect for the opinion of my hon. and learned Friend, I think that probably the wiser proceeding is that we should watch the course of events, and avail ourselves—as we should assiduously avail ourselves—of any fitting opportunity for acting in those interests of peace which both my hon. and learned Friend and the Government have at heart.
Treaties As To Belgium
said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, To lay upon the Table of the House the Treaties of 1831 and 1839 guaranteeing neutrality of Belgium?
Sir, there is no objection to reprint these Treaties, and I should propose to add also the Treaty guaranteeing the neutrality of Luxemburg. But I must ask my hon. Friend to take steps to insure these Treaties being printed by the House of Commons; otherwise if they are printed by the Foreign Office we shall be unable to produce them in time.
Order for Committee read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
Greece—Murder Of British Subjects By Brigands
said: I have always considered this case to be one between the Government of Greece and ourselves, on account of very peculiar circumstances which rendered that Government responsible to our own. For this reason, fully acknowledging the excellent intentions and abilities of Mr. Erskine, acknowledging also that, under the painful circumstances under which he was placed, it was almost impossible to preserve a calm and steady judgment, I have always regretted that his honourable and confiding nature allowed him to be drawn into those conversations and consultations from which the Greek Government now tries unhandsomely to draw arguments for their defence; and that he did not simply say to M. Zaïmis and his colleagues—"I hold you answerable for the lives and liberty of the British subjects who have been made prisoners. They were captured through your negligence. I know they can be delivered by means at your disposal. I do not wish to ask or name the course you will pursue; but I merely tell you that if they suffer injury you shall not escape unpunished." Had such language been held, our position would have been clear; and I am one of those who are not over scrupulous in making use of power when it is to serve the ends of justice. This course was not pursued; but I still adhere to the principles which would have made me adopt it. If we have any case against Greece, it is against the Government of Greece; and what I wish to know from Her Majesty's Government is, whether it considers that Government without reproach, or whether, if it thinks it gravely culpable, it is prepared to demand from it any specific reparation? For my own part, my opinion was formed on the first Papers that were submitted to this House. Since that time an inquiry has been going on. From that inquiry we have learned all the horrid particulars of our countrymen's massacre, all the disgusting details of the execution of three or four of the poorer and inferior bandits, and the escape of their chief, who, it would appear, had found security in the wealth which in the course of his profession he had accumulated. We have not been able to ascertain who were the mysterious strangers who visited the robbers' haunts, nor does it appear to me that we should have gained much if we had done so. In short, Sir, whilst speaking of the inquiry with considerable hesitation, because it was instituted by a statesman whose every sentence spoken or written on this subject was marked by that dignity of mind and that kindness of heart which gave such grace to his abihty—whilst saying that, if my opinion differs from his, I should be disposed to consider my opinion erroneous—I am bound to add, reserving my ultimate opinion until its close, that this inquiry, as far as it has gone, has rather tended to attract our attention to questions which more immediately concern the Greek Government and its subjects, and to withdraw it from those which more immediately concern that Government and our own. And this brings me to the case of Colonel Théagénis, whom my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight accused me the other evening of treating harshly and unjustly. Now, Sir, it would appear that Colonel Théagénis has a property at Thebes, that he is the father of an amiable family, and that he distinguished himself in the War of Independence. All this may be; I know no- thing about it, nor about Colonel Théagénis, except that his name is affixed to certain documents which have been submitted to me as a Member of Parliament for the purpose of forming an opinion upon them. Well, the part which we were given to understand that Colonel Théagénis was to play was that of the saviour of the captives. It was supposed that he was given a mission for that purpose; and what I have said and repeat is, that according to his own despatches—for I only judge of his conduct by these—he deliberately pursued a course which was necessarily as fatal to Mr. Herbert, Mr. Lloyd, and Mr. Vyner as if he had shot those gentlemen dead with his own hand. And here I will read two short extracts from the Papers laid before Parliament, which, in my opinion, fully bear out this assertion. The first, which I have once before alluded to, is this—
In other words, I am going to order the lives of the prisoners to be put into inevitable peril. Can anything be stronger than this? Yes; what I am now going to read is stronger. The Colonel is describing the measures he had taken to surround the bandits, and he gives his motives—"It appears that their plan (that of the brigands) is to advance towards Bœotia, and an attack directed against them cannot but expose the lives of the prisoners to inevitable danger. To-morrow I communicate to Captains Apostolidis and Liacopoulo the determination of the Government to prevent by force their advance into Bœotia."
Thus not only did Colonel Théagénis order an attack when he had failed in surrounding the brigands, which was certain to end in the murder of the gentlemen in their power, even at the time he contemplated surrounding the brigands he foresaw that this would end in putting our countrymen to death, and all that he aimed at was securing the assassins after the murder was completed. Those remarks force me to notice a Paper which appears amongst those recently presented to us. General Church's name is, in a certain sense, historical; and it gives me pain to see him emerge from a retirement, which his services render honourable, by so ill-advised a letter as that which he addressed to you, Sir [addressing Mr. Gladstone], and which you have placed before us. Here is a gentleman who was not a witness of the scone which he undertakes to describe, and who thinks he is to impose his statement on you because he is General Church, and who thinks that you can impose it on us because you are Prime Minister. The General is an Englishman, but it is evident that he has lived long out of England; and that he does not know what an English Minister is, nor, whoever may be Minister, let me add, what an English House of Commons is. But what is his story? Why, that the soldiers of Colonel Théagénis pursued the wolves of brigands with the placid philosophy of lambs; that, now and then, they fired a shot, but that was merely in the air; and that until Mr. Herbert was slain they were in the most perfect good humour. Now, Sir, this story differs from almost all the testimony we have. But supposing it was correct? These gentle soldiers did not follow the brigands for the purpose of giving them backsheesh. They followed them with the intention of capturing and then executing them; and it was quite certain—and Colonel Théagénis must have known it was quite certain—that, under such circumstances, these brigands would murder their prisoners and attempt to escape themselves. Thus, Sir, I cannot think that any doubt can exist as to the conduct of Colonel Théagénis, or as to its consequences; but, in saying this, I am not saying anything personal against Colonel Théagénis. He was a soldier, and bound to obey instructions. Count Ségur, I think, relates that the First Napoleon, just previous to delivering the battle which gave him possession of the southern capital of Russia, observed that he should lose 20,000 men, but enter Moscow on the following day. Colonel Théagénis, with the same military sublimity, may have said—"I shall sacrifice the lives of these unfortunate foreigners, but I shall fulfil my instructions." And here is the important point to know, whether Colonel Théagénis did act according to instructions or not? That is the question above all others which I wish to put to Her Majesty's Government. Now, Sir, when I last addressed the House on this subject I made some observations on the general state of Greece. I do not do so now, because any measures we might take in that respect must be taken in conjunction with our allies, and this is not the moment when we can address ourselves to them. But I will just notice an observation made on that evening by my right hon. Friend in answer to my remarks, in which he seemed generally to agree, but observed, nevertheless, that he hoped that order and good government might be established in Greece without any injury to those doctrines of constitutional government so popular in this country. I hope so too; but I would just wish to observe that the doctrines of constitutional government popular in this country are not those popular in Greece; and that, if the facts were reversed, and that we had the happiness of being under the protection of Greece instead of the misfortune of having Greece under ours, she would soon put our constitutional doctrines into her pocket. The notion which a Greek politician at present entertains of a good Government is a Government that offers him a good place. The Greeks have great abilities, but they have a Government which renders those abilities sterile. In any other country we should have no right to interfere with its Government. But Greece owes its existence to its guardians; it is they who protect its existence now; and I think they might exact, as a return for their protection, such a Government as would not render their protectorate profitless to the nation they protect, and discreditable to themselves as protectors. This is a subject which my love for the Greek people will one day induce me again to bring forward; but at present I merely ask for those explanations I have pointed out, and of my request for which I have given notice."To be able effectually to surround Oropos we needed the co-operation of all the troops, so as to surround the village and make every attempt of the brigands to escape vain, after having, according to their custom, killed their prisoners."
said, he would follow the example of his right hon. Friend in being brief in his observations, knowing the value of the time of the Government at that period of the Session. But as he was not a Member of the House when the late Greek debate occurred, and as he had always taken a great interest in Greece and had charge of its interests for some years, he hoped he might be allowed to make a few remarks on that most painful and distressing question. He thought his right hon. Friend was quite right in bringing it forward, because they were entitled to ask Her Majesty's Government what satisfaction they had demanded, or would demand, from the Greek Government. He also believed it would be grateful to the feelings of the surviving relatives of those unfortunate men to know that because greater or more important events might have since happened their sad fate was not a kind of nine days' wonder, but still claimed and received the deep sympathy of the House of Commons. Now that the cry, the righteous cry, for punishment or vengeance that at first arose from the length and breadth of the land had subsided they could approach that question in a more moderate and, he would add, a more just frame of mind, without bringing a bill of indictment against a whole nation. There were passages in the speech to which they had just listened which had deeply grieved him; for he had thought his right hon. Friend would have taken that opportunity of retracting some of the observations he made in a former speech, which inflicted the greatest pain on honourable men. But, instead of retracting, his right hon. Friend had renewed his attacks on Colonel Théagénis, although certainly he had not that day applied the term "assassin" to him as he did in a previous debate Still he had attacked Colonel Théagénis most cruelly, and also attacked another man, General Sir Richard Church, whose name was dear both to England and to Greece. General Church, who was about 90 years of age, had fought in the war of Greek independence, assisting Lord Cochrane, Lord Byron, and other distinguished Englishmen who took part in that enterprize, and there was no more gallant and no more honourable man than General Church, as he believed the Prime Minister could testify. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hoar, hear.] Yet his right hon. Friend (Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer) had attacked that gallant gentleman, and implied that he was a more partizan of his aide-de-camp, Colonel Théagénis. That being the first part of his right hon. Friend's case, he must take his stand on the character of Colonel Théagénis. Who was that officer, what was his responsibility, and how did he act under it? And, in claiming justice for Colonel Théagénis, let it not be supposed that he did not feel as acutely as any man the sad loss sustained by this country in the massacre of these captives, although he did not think Englishmen should allow themselves to be led away by their laudable feelings into being guilty of absolute injustice. Under what circumstances was Colonel Théagénis appointed to that painful mission? In his first letter—dated April 21—to Lord Clarendon, Mr. Erskine said—
It was Mr. Erskine who invited Colonel Théagénis to go there; and Mr. Erskine said in the same letter—"I persuaded M. Zaïmis—the Greek Primo Minister—to send off Colonel Théagénis, the aide-de-camp of General Church, a gentleman of high character, who is intimately acquainted with the country and with the peculiarities of the people with whom he will have to deal."
Was an officer to obey his instructions or not, or to follow his own private opinion as to what he ought to do when he got to a particular place? His instructions were thus described by Mr. Erskine—"Before starting, Colonel Théagénis received his instructions from the whole Cabinet in my presence"
In their instructions to Colonel Théagénis the Greek Government directed him to go to Oropos and give to the Arvaniteï these assurances and explanations—firstly, that the ransom was held at their disposal, and that they might leave Greece either by land or on board an English man-of-war; secondly, that it was impossible to grant them an amnesty; thirdly, that unless they took care that not the least harm befell any of the prisoners the Government would treat them with the utmost rigour of the law; and, fourthly, that they must not on any pretence go away from Oropos, and if they did so the Government would hold itself relieved from the promise made to the foreign Ministers to suspend all pursuit of the Arvaniteï. In a subsequent despatch, which arrived too late, Colonel Théagénis was directed by his Government to concentrate certain detachments at Sykamino, to invest the village, and prevent any of the brigands from escaping from it, and if they should try to escape he was to attack them. With such distinct instructions as those was Colonel Théagénis to say—"If I attack the brigands should they attempt to escape I shall risk the lives of the prisoners, and, perhaps, a great diplomatic difficulty may arise?" He did what any British officer would have done—he obeyed the instructions given to him. Was it fair, then, to say he had been, in fact, the assassin of the prisoners? And if Colonel Théagénis was cleared General Church certainly was so. Colonel Théagénis imperilled his life by offering to go as a hostage among the brigands, and the result had been that an amount of abuse had been heaped on his head which he felt as the grossest injustice. The Greek Government had been much blamed, with strange inconsistency, for not granting an amnesty to the brigands. No doubt, at times, the acts of brigands might have been connived at; but that was a very different matter from a distinct amnesty granted and signed by the King. It was one thing to feel sorrow for the loss of these invaluable young lives; but it was another thing to consider the political aspect of the question. If an amnesty had been granted to the brigands, and for others in prison, how could people afterwards complain should brigandage prevail all over Greece. Would they, in the case of any great Power, ask the Government to amnesty such men? It seemed to him that the calmer sense of the country would conclude that, under a natural feeling of indignation at the horrors which had occurred, too much had been asked of Greece. Mr. Erskine, than whom no man could have acted better, had since the catastrophe borne testimony to the conduct of Colonel Théagénis. With regard to the conduct of the King, every gentleman who spoke during the late debate did justice to it, and Mr. Erskine, on April 14, wrote—"In addition to his letter of credence and the verbal directions I have already mentioned, Colonel Théngénis is to be guided by an instruction, of which I enclose a translation, and which authorizes him to warn the brigands that they will not be allowed to carry off the prisoners from Oropos. A reasonable time will be given for negotiation, but they will be told very positively that the impunity I they have hitherto enjoyed must not be considered I as indefinite; and M. delta Minerva and I did not think that we should be justified in requiring the Government to persist in the conciliatory course they have hitherto pursued after it had proved abortive. The weather is so unfavourable that I fear the captives would be exposed to such severe privations white being dragged about the country day and night in wet clothes that we were reluctantly compelled to admit that a firmer tone must now be taken with these miscreants."
It appeared that the Greek Government did all they could for the protection of the prisoners, and he agreed with his right hon. Friend that the attack of the troops led to the sacrifice of the valuable lives they now had to deplore. He quite agreed with his right hon. Friend that the adoption of that active measure was a false step; but, nevertheless, a bill of indictment ought not on that account to be presented against the whole country. He was glad that the matter had been brought before the House, and he believed that it would now be viewed in a calmer and more generous spirit by the people of England. It was not proper language to apply to Greece, which had fought so gallantly for liberty, to call it a nation of brigands. For 40 years, since so much money and blood were lavished for the purpose of establishing the independence of that country, it had been the chess-board of modern diplomacy; English, French, and Russian influences having been fighting together there. But the people themselves were a generous, hardworking, and patient people. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] The revenue had risen from £150,000 to £1,000,000, and schools had increased from 100 to 1,500. The people of the country had improved, and all they now wanted were the blessings of a good Government. How were they to obtain it? No one took a deeper interest in the country than the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), and he would earnestly direct his attention to the fact that morally and financially we had a right to interfere, and in his (Mr. B. Cochrane's) opinion the wisest course would be to send out Commissioners to superintend the financial arrangements of the country, and to see that all the money raised by taxes was devoted to the improvement of the country. In making those observations, he wished to guard himself from being supposed for a moment not to sympathize with all his heart and soul with those who had been so unhappy as to lose their relatives by the hands of the brigands. In conclusion, he would ask the House and the country to approach this case in the same generous and magnanimous spirit displayed by the captives in their last moments, who, if they could speak now, would proclaim that their noblest memorial would be the regeneration of the country where they suffered."I cannot as yet say very positively by whom the ransom will eventually have to be paid; but I have had the honour of an interview with His Hellenic Majesty, at which he said that he had desired M. Zaïmis to take any sum that might be necessary, from the bank or elsewhere, to pay the ransom. His Majesty even showed the most eager wish to go and place himself in the hands of the brigands, rather than that any of their prisoners should suffer harm."
said, that one part of his observations had been grossly misrepresented by the hon. Gentleman. He had never made any personal attack on Colonel Théagénis. The attack he made upon that officer was as the agent of the Greek Government, and what he had desired to ascertain was whether Colonel Théagénis was acting on his own account, or, as he still believed, upon the instructions of the Greek Government. Neither had he meant to attack General Church; but he merely replied to a very unqualified attack which General Church had directed against those who took the part of persons whom they believed to have been injured. So far from speaking with severity of General Church, all he said of him was complimentary.
apologized for having misunderstood his right hon. Friend's observations.
With respect to the three individuals whose names have been mentioned, and with regard to whom I was questioned whether they had been censured or not, without entering into the controversy, I feel it to be an absolute duty to refer to each of them. With respect to Mr. Erskine, although I think my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) is perfectly justified in coming to the conclusion, aided by his great experience, that anyone acting in this most difficult matter would be liable to counsel what might turn out to be a false step—and the course taken had certainly an unfortunate result—yet, I must say that Mr. Erskine has done nothing to discredit the name of the country or his own high character—nothing that could possibly expose him to censure, or to any diminution of the confidence reposed in him. With respect to General Church, he is a man who, after 70 years of active service, requires no vindication from any person in this House; and if he has been led to use strong language in the letter which has been printed in those Papers, I beseech my right hon. Friend (Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer) to reflect that he has made no apparent personal application, and that he has used it when his feelings were deeply wounded on account of imputations which were cast by many on the character of one of his friends and associates, who was combined with him in the same honourable profession, and who had been associated with him in military efforts and distinction; and to whom, after a score of years of intimate association, he found himself bound to bear testimony. As to Colonel Théagénis, much animosity was excited in this country against that gentleman. It arose from the universal feeling of sorrow and indignation to which those horrible murders gave rise; yet the evidence shows incontestably that he was most faithful in carrying out the instructions he received; and though that circumstance would not acquit the Government who gave those instructions if they ought not to have been given, the character of Colonel Théagénis for integrity and honour stands beyond imputation, and will bear comparison with the character of any Gentleman within those walls. Nor do I rely wholly upon the testimony of General Church, which I think quite sufficient. Another person, a surviving member of the family of Sir Thomas Wyse, who had the most ample means of personal acquaintance with Colonel Théagénis, has rendered to me her testimony also of the fact that he is an honourable man among honourable men, one of a singularly susceptible spirit of honour, and of the highest sense of duty, and of whom it might be taken for granted that any commission entrusted to him would be executed with the most scrupulous fidelity. As regards the question itself, I now come to the points which have been put by my light hon. Friend, who says, not unfairly—if you think the Greek Government blameless in these transactions, declare it; and, if not, what satisfaction are you about to obtain? I am sorry to say that we are not prepared to give an opinion that the Greek Government is innocent of these transactions. There are those holding high Office in Greece who certainly have, according to the best of our knowledge, lent the most energetic assistance in the investigations which have been going on. But with regard to the Greek Government as a whole, it is impossible to pronounce any general sentence of that kind until we have come to a termination of our inquiries. As regards the non-conclusion of the inquiry, that circum- stance may of itself suggest suspicion; but it is fair to say that it is owing to our agency and intervention that the inquiry has not yet been concluded. The truth is, that the various stages of it which have been gone through, have tended to open up more and more of what is painful and what is shameful in the present condition of Greece. I join my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) in the character he has given of the Greek people generally. I think there has been great precipitancy on the part of many persons in charging to the nation that which is due to a comparatively few. My hon. Friend says, borrowing the language of Mr. Burke, that he will not frame a bill of indictment against the nation, and I join with him in that view; but as regards the operation of those views, I am bound to make these two confessions—In the first place, the prevalence of brigandage in Greece, at the epoch at which we recently arrived, was lamentable and disgraceful. It was not due, however, to the general disposition of the people, who—I agree with my hon. Friend—I think are simple, frugal, patient, and industrious, and gifted with a singularly laudable desire for self-improvement. But we cannot refuse to recognize that this prevalence of brigandage has been connected with the events which took place in Candia. The war in Candia was largely participated in by wild spirits, and that war ended in the wholesale expatriation of so many of those spirits as belonged to the kingdom of Greece, who carried back into their own country—where but too much temptation prevailed for pursuing lawless habits of existence—that recklessness which they had learned during the war. But that is not all. Undoubtedly there are secret threads and ramifications connecting these lawless men with others in higher stations and more responsible positions. The careful and patient following out of all the secret paths of intrigue and clandestine communication, by which those facts are to be established, has been a task of no common difficulty. Hence it is that the inquiry has occupied so much time. It may have seemed to some in this country who were not aware of the difficulty, that it has occupied too much time; but it is absolutely necessary to proceed to the end with the same fidelity if we would accomplish the ob- ject we have in view. The change of Ministry which has taken place in Greece has not been an event, I am sorry to say, favourable to the fulfilment of our wishes. At the time that change occurred we thought it our duty carefully to avoid the appearance of dictation with respect to the choice of individuals; but we as clearly intimated that, whatever Government might come into Office, from that Government we should expect the fullest discharge of the obligations which the Greek Government made to us with respect to these deplorable transactions. Since that time, and since the last Papers were laid upon the Table of the House, I regret to say the Government has made an objection to the continued presence of English agents at the inquiries which have been conducted in Greece; and, in fact, if I understood the communication aright, for the moment that presence was forbidden. I need not say that we have declined to acquiesce in that prohibition. We have protested against it in the strongest terms; and, come what may, I can assure the House we will not forget what is due to the feelings and the rights of this country. I hope I may say that it cannot for a moment be supposed that Government are indifferent upon this question. No one with feelings of common humanity could be indifferent on such a subject, even if there were no more than the circumstances of the assassination itself; but the characters of the victims in this deplorable tragedy, as indicated by documents known to the whole world, were such as to raise the sympathy entertained for them to the highest point of which the human breast is capable And if anything could have been wanting to have enlisted the good feelings of the Government in particular in the prosecution of their task, it was the fact that one, and perhaps the one who, for all the touching and beautiful manifestations of character, would have been selected even from the rest, was the near relation of one of our most attached and valued Colleagues. Therefore, I assure my right hon. Friend that whatever has happened elsewhere in Europe, whatever shocks there may be on the Continent, and however it may shake under those shocks, we shall not consider that events happening nearer home should in the slightest degree affect our obligations with respect to Greece. Those events may interpose or may not interpose temporary difficulties. It may be difficult to draw the attention of one or both of the co-guaranteeing Powers to Greece in the same manner that we could undoubtedly have done at a period of less absorbing interest for a French Administration; but I am quite certain that even France herself will continue to feel the most friendly interest in the work which we have in hand. Upon the whole, though I cannot say that the general aspect of affairs in respect of Greece wears an improved appearance in our eyes; though, on the contrary, the magnitude of the task to be performed in the extirpation of brigandage rather grows upon us than otherwise, yet there is not the slightest reason to pretend that there will be any diminution of energy and earnestness in the attempt to obtain that great object. My right hon. Friend asks me what satisfaction we intend to ask from the Greek Government? My right hon. Friend knows that, as regards one of the principal sufferers by the outrages which have been committed—I refer to Mrs. Lloyd—it will be our duty to obtain for her a pecuniary satisfaction from the Greek Government. Those who know the duties which have to be performed by a Foreign Minister, and the capacity of Lord Clarendon for the performance of those duties, will readily understand how much we have felt his loss in connection with this Greek affair as well as in that of many other matters. His death has caused some delay in respect of this claim for compensation; but it is one which is being followed up by the Foreign Office. As regards satisfaction in any other and wider sense, no doubt our first duty is to endeavour to determine exactly the degree of responsibility which is to be charged upon the Greek Government in power at the time of these outrages. With respect to the failure of the measures for preventing them, one thing I would say to my right hon. Friend, and it is this—I am not going at all to pronounce an opinion that the measures taken were wise measures; but I think it would be a fallacy at once to assume that satisfactory results would have been obtained by a prolongation of what I may call the inactive policy, by recognizing a title on the part of these brigands, who were evidently men of a depraved order of mind and character, to take their prisoners wherever they pleased, to drag them about over the country under the pretext of fears for their own safety, to subject them to all the hardships of exposure, to a diet that was irregular and totally unsuited to their wants, and any other vicissitudes they might have to encounter; and, perhaps, to inflict upon them in the end a death far more pain-fid through a prolonged suffering than that which unhappily they had to meet. It is but fair to recollect on the part of Mr. Erskine that he had all these dangers to take into his view, and that the question between the methods of procedure which might have been adopted, was not so entirely a one-sided question as now, after the catastrophe, we may be only too apt to assume. Passing on from that question of the responsibility of the Greek Government, I ask my right hon. Friend what satisfaction are we to obtain? If satisfaction were to be sought in this case, as it was sought in the case of Abyssinia—if all we had to say was to tell the Government that, having sacrificed the lives of our countrymen, they should now feel the weight of our vengeance, there would be no difficulty in crushing that feeble plant which, with so much trouble, we have reared. I am sure that my right hon. Friend would not desire that description of satisfaction. In crushing them, we should but damage ourselves—damage our own fame and credit, which are much involved in the past transactions, and which will be involved both in present and future transactions with respect to Greece, and which, I am bound to say, likewise would strike a blow at the hopes of mankind. The best satisfaction we can obtain would be good government in Greece—the establishment of peace, order, regular institutions, regular habits, good laws, and the faithful execution of them. But that task is a difficult one. I am by no means as yet prepared to admit that it is not to the popular part of the institutions of Greece, and to the influence of the people upon the Government, that we are to look for the achievement of these objects. There are, as I know, some in this country, and an abundance of people out of it, that are perfectly ready to jump to that conclusion—who think that if you will only establish a despotic Government in Greece, you will have everything that could be desired. I do not as yet see that there is proof of that opinion. This monster evil of brigandage is an evil which has recurred from time to time, and commonly in connection with special circumstances. Brigandage has not always prevailed in Greece to this distressing extent since the time when popular institutions have existed there. It may ultimately prove to be our duty to recommend or concur in changes to be made in Greece; but we ought not, except on proof—we ought not on any vague surmise, to admit or believe that it is to the influence of the people, whom my hon. Friend opposite described as in the main a good people, that the existence of these horrors is to be ascribed. It is in the upper, and not in the lower, classes that the seat of the principal vice is to be found. It is the want of a properly constituted upper class that forms the greatest calamity and the greatest defect of Greece; and the cause of that want is to be found not in the circumstances of the moment, but in its history through many long centuries past; in its history probably even before the period of the Ottoman dominion; and in its history during that dominion, which, reducing the people to the dead level of servitude, ill, indeed, prepared it for the state of political freedom which it has now got. Some of our duties in respect to Greece are perfectly clear. One is to enforce upon that country a clearer observance of international obligations. Greece ought to expect no encouragement, no indulgence, and no toleration from the other European Powers if, while unable to fulfil her own duties within her own borders, she makes herself an apostle of political propagandism. That is a duty perfectly clear, and from the execution of that duty we shall not, under any circumstances, shrink. With regard to the rest, it will be incumbent upon us to endeavour, in every way in our power, to substitute a system of peace, order, industry, and security for life and property, both for the people themselves and for the strangers in the country, for that deplorable condition of affairs which has of late prevailed. Beyond that, I am afraid it is not possible for me to go. Details it is not in my power to communicate. My right hon. Friend will recollect the position of embarrassment, at least the position of delicacy, in which we are placed by the necessity of combined action with other Powers entitled to regard these matters from their own point of view. I have given him assurances in terms which, though general, are such as are in harmony with the purposes to which we conceive ourselves to be bound by duty, and I can assure him that we shall not desist nor slacken our efforts until that purpose is carried out.
said, before the debate closed he should like to say a few words on the general question, as he knew something of Greece, and should be sorry if, in consequence of the righteous indignation which this abominable crime had aroused, we should commit the injustice of confounding the innocent with the guilty. That brigandage received toleration and even encouragement from persons of political eminence in Athens, either those who are, or those who hoped to be, members of the Government, no one who know anything of Greece would for a moment doubt. Among the various modes of evincing and exciting discontent against the ruling powers, those of Turkey and Greece were not a little remarkable. In Constantinople a quarter of the town was sot on fire, as a hint to the Sultan that his subjects had a grievance In Greece an act of brigandage more flagrant than usual, which might involve the country in expense and in disputes with foreign Powers, was committed in order to bring about a change of Government. It was said even that more sordid motives were not wanting, and that the ransom of captives did not pass into the hands of a brigand chief without certain deductions. All this had long been matter of notoriety. Hon. Members might recollect that during the Crimean War France and England had each a regiment in the Piræus, for the purpose of checking the Russian proclivities of the Queen and the natural anti-Turkish feeling of the Greeks. While he was in Athens, in 1855, soon after the fall of Sebastopol, a French officer was carried off in full uniform, in open day, between Athens and the Piræus, which was something like kidnapping a man between London and Greenwich. At that time Attica and the Morea were considered safe for ordinary travellers. He had visited Marathon without risk, and the morning after that abduction he rode through the Pass of Daphne, on his way to Megara and Corinth, at the time that the gallant officer and his captors were concealed there. A ransom of 30,000 drachmæ (about £1,100) was demanded, and immediately paid by King Otho, who was afraid that the French would make it a pretest for occupying Athens. No one doubted that this was a political move on the part of the Opposition for the purpose of embarrassing the Government. It had been said that half the National Assembly were representatives of the brigands; that might be so; but if so it only showed that they were not representatives of the people. The Greek representatives, who were paid for their services, sometimes made a trade of politics—as, perhaps, some future Members of that House might do when the Member for Leicester carried his Motion. Like some nearer home, they were not always very scrupulous about the means of winning an election, and even intimidation was not wholly unpractised in Greece. He did not believe that the brigands were a large or a popular section of the community. In Northern Greeco, especially in Ætolia and Acamania, the mountaineers were a wild predatory race, much like the Highlanders and Borderers of Scotland in former times; like them, they followed their hereditary chiefs to a foray without question. They were as cruel and unromantic a set of ruffians as ever drove off a poor farmer's cattle, or harried a peaceful village; just as those worthies were universally supposed to be before the magic pen of Scott did for them what Fenimore Cooper did for the Red Indians, by throwing around them a halo of fiction for which their descendants ought to be infinitely obliged. During the Crimean War Sta Maura was kept in anxiety, lest Grivas should lead his Palikars across the shallow lagoon and plunder Amanichi. Elsewhere the professional brigands were disbanded soldiers, such as those described by Hobart Pasha, outlaws, and vagabonds of all kinds. He had ridden into Zebadda one evening, and found the place in a state of excitement, on account of a neighbouring small town, the name of which he had forgotten, having been sacked that day by 40 brigands and the demarch murdered. It would be absurd to suppose that these robbers, torturers, and murderers of the country people should be popular with the country people. During the Turkish dominion, indeed, they enjoyed some share of popularity as representing resistance to the common enemy; but that had all gone by. True, it was, that in Greece, as in some parts of Italy, none dared move his tongue against them, and whoever had read About's Roi des Montagues need not be told the reason. The vengeance of the brigand was sure and unrelenting; the protection of the Government worthless. The Greek peasant, farmer, or country gentleman hated both; but he feared one, and despised the other; therefore, while he openly denounced the Camarilla at Athens, he spoke with bated breath of the brigand chief whose long arm he knew could reach him in his defenceless homestead, even from the mountain side of Æta to the plains of Bœotia or Achaia. It would be, in his opinion, most unfair to confound the Greek people with Greek brigands or Greek politicians. The people were a brave, industrious, temperate, frugal race, with great intelligence and desire for knowledge. In quite small towns, such as Sparta, might be seen schools where ancient as well as modern Greek, French, and English were taught. Their merchants were examples of success in every capital in Europe, and such success could not be general or lasting without probity as well as energy. Their sailors almost monopolized the carrying trade of the Levant. During the war of liberation there were actions by land and sea worthy to be classed with Salamis and Thermopylae; but, unfortunately, there was no Æschylus or Herodotus to record them. The country people cared little about politics. They regarded the Government in Athens much as their predecessors did the deities of Olympus, as a body with whom it was best to have as little to do as might be, with whom they had no sympathies, from whom they expected no good, and could only hope to suffer as little harm as possible. They thought, with some reason, that intrigues of foreign Ambassadors had too large a share in the politics of Athens. A gentleman in Argos had said to him that there were in the Government of Athens the Russóphron, the Gallóphron, and others. There was only one element wanting—namely, the Hellenóphron. The public man in Greece, even when honest, was unpractical and inconsistent. He lived in a dream of a Greek Empire with a Byzantine capital, and yet during the Crimean War his sympathies were wholly with that Power whose success would have made the realization of his dream absolutely hopeless. He abounded in tirades against the removal of the Parthenon Frieze by Lord Elgin, and he left the marble lion of Chæronea lying in a thicket beneath the famous mound in the three fragments into which it was blown by his favourite partisan chief Odysseus. He grasped at the shadow and neglected the substance. The Greek Constitution was scarcely fitted for the people. It was an artificial manufacture, like those of which we were, perhaps, a few years ago fonder than we were now, and more desirous of recommending to or forcing upon other people. He had heard Greeks say that there was much of the Oriental in their composition, and in their admiration of force coupled with justice; that they would prefer an absolute monarch with these qualities, who would sit in judgment in the market-place, reward one and punish another, like an Eastern Cadi. King Otho was scarcely the ruler for such a people. He did his best probably. He was a scholar, and he worked hard and successfully to restore the "great old tongue" to something like its original purity. He also set on foot a model farm, for the purpose of teaching improved agriculture; but Greece was scarcely ripe for such things. She wanted her old Hercules to clear the country side of robbers before it was fit for Apollo and the Muses. If, instead of lavishing large sums on a wretched German palace, and on a perfectly useless Army and Navy, whose only act of vigour was driving him from the throne, Otho had spent every drachma in making roads and maintaining a military police, something like the Irish constabulary, something better than the orophúlakes, or guardians of the Marches, between whom and the brigands there was rather too much resemblance, he might have left behind him a really renovated Greece—a Greece which might look forward to a future worthy of her past—a Greece into which foreign settlers would have brought their capital and enter-prize; as, in fact, they did, especially in Eubœa, where several English families settled until their lives and property were rendered unsafe by the brigands, and Eubœa became as insecure as Westmeath. And, sorely, if this horrible scourge could be removed, that fertile soil, magnificent scenery, and glorious climate, with its grand associations, within a week of England, would be more attractive for certain classes of emigrants than the six months' winter of Quebec, or the dust storms and cast-iron foliage of Australia on the other side of the globe. It had been said that those brigands were Turkish subjects; if so, they must pass out of Tux-key in order to commit their crimes with impunity. A few years ago he was on a shooting excursion in Albania, close to the scene of the battle of Actium, and near the frontier of independent Greece. The hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Do Grey), who was not far off, would confirm his statement as to the perfect security with which they wandered over the country. The ladies of his party used to walk to them with their luncheon as they would on an English manor, without the slightest apprehension; but they were told that they would not be as safe across the border. Indeed, it was about that time that a party of English were captured opposite Zante, near the historic plain of Olympia. It was indeed time that, for the sake of Greece itself, this state of things should cease. He thanked the House for having tolerated those few observations, which nothing but a sense of justice would have induced him to make at a time when England was still mourning for her gallant sons who had so recently laid down their young lives on a soil which was not worthy of them, with a resignation and unselfishness the simple grandeur of which, he would venture to say, had never been surpassed in the most heroic age of that or any other country.
said, he wished to offer a few observations, having himself had practical experience of brigandage in Greece some years ago, when he was placed in a predicament very similar to that which had ended in the calamity they all now so much deplored. If anybody could show that the Greek Government, earnestly and to the best of their ability, had endeavoured to put down brigandage, or, when their attention was called to particular acts, had even tried to bring the offenders to justice, he was perfectly willing to admit that this would go far to relieve them from responsibility for the recent massacres. But looking at the history of Greece for the last seven years, he could not believe that they had ever really and honestly attempted to remove this scourge from the country. The condition of the districts nearest the capital and under the very eye of the Government had been notorious; they were the most unsafe in the whole country. Among the peasants there was no sympathy with brigandage, for they suffered more from it than any other class; it found no favour again with the commercial and agricultural classes; its continuance, therefore, could only be ascribed to sympathy and forbearance shown to it by those high in authority. He had no wish to bring charges against particular individuals; but he could not believe that the 30 Ministries of the last seven years would not have had the power among them to put down brigandage in Greece if the disposition to do so really existed. The telegraphic accounts of brigands put to death week by week in all parts of the country since the attention of Europe had been painfully excited contrasted strongly with the state of things previously existing. Several years ago there was a scoundrel upon whose head a price had been put in consequence of the murders which he had committed; five years ago this same man surprised the party to which he and his friends belonged, and since that time this brigand had gone on committing atrocities all over the country with impunity. But the moment attention was drawn to the state of affairs in Greece, without any increase of military force, the Greek Government showed themselves able to catch not only this brigand, but many others, whose names before had scarcely ever been heard of. That fact was sufficient to prove that brigandage had not previously been treated seriously in Greece. It was easy to be wise after the event, and to say what ought not to have been done; but clearly troops ought never to have been sent into the vicinity of the brigands, for the result of a collision must have been foreseen. Colonel Théagénis knew it very well, the unfortunate prisoners know it also, Mr. Noel knew it, and the Greek Government had sufficient experience of brigandage to know it likewise. Brigandage in Greece was an institution. It had driven out the trade of the country, and taken its place; and it was founded upon as fixed laws as any other institution. Of these rules the first was never to give up prisoners without a ransom being paid; and the next, if attacked, if possible to escape with their prisoners, but if this were impossible then to resort to the most extreme measures. He wished to take that opportunity of testifying to the kindness and energy shown by Mr. Erskine in carrying out the wishes of the party to which he belonged when made prisoners; desires which consisted in having the troops withdrawn, while their ransom was paid to the brigands. The present case, however, differed from all previous cases, as the Greek Government themselves had undertaken the negotiations with the brigands, and thus made themselves directly responsible for what had occurred. There was one point to which attention had not been sufficiently pointed, and that was the course pursued and the language held by former Governments of Her Majesty with respect to acts of brigandage in Greece. They could not fairly judge of this question without knowing what views were held by former Governments, and what efforts were made by them to impress those views upon Greece. He believed the only direct precedent with respect to the present case was furnished by the event in which he happened to be concerned. He did not wish to call in question the action of the Government on that occasion, for they were never pressed to take action or to recover the ransom that was paid, because the question was one of policy, and must very much depend upon precedent. But what he wished to point out was that, whatever communications were made by Her Majesty's Government to the Government of Greece, they produced a very different effect from what was intended, because the district of Acarnania, where he and his friends were taken, immediately afterwards, and for the next year or two, was in a worse state than before. He would not express any opinion as to the course which England, as one of the protecting Powers, ought to have pursued with regard to Greece; but he regretted when such an occasion for remonstrating offered that our remonstrances were of no avail whatever, and that the state of the country went on from bad to worse, until attention was at last directed to it by the sacrifice of English lives. Mr. Herbert, in a Report written in 1869, at a time when he could have no anticipation of suffering from the system which he condemned, expressed a decided opinion that the suppression of brigandage and the construction of roads would produce such a change in the country that in a few years she would be able to lead the way in the progress of the East. That such a change might take place he, for one, earnestly hoped; but he could not approve of anything in the nature of military occupation or unjust interference with the internal affairs of Greece. He earnestly trusted that the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs would be able to give an assurance that the investigation which was now going on would be carried out without respect to persons, would go fully into all the circumstances of the case, and that the exertion lately made to put an end to brigandage might prove no spasmodic effort when the eyes of Europe would be turned in another direction.
Army—Our Military Resources
wished to ask the Secretary of State for War to give some more precise information than he had done with regard to the supply of breech-loading rifles. In the statement made yesterday the right hon. Gentleman was reported to have said that there were 300,000 brooch-loading rifles in store, and that he had issued 61,000 to the Reserved Forces. Were all the Regular troops now armed with breech-loaders—were all the infantry not only in England, but in India and the Colonies, so armed? Were there breech-loading rifles for the Marines? He wished to know whether the 300,000 breech-loaders mentioned by the Secretary of State were in excess of what was required for the Regular infantry. He also wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman intended to proceed immediately with the arming of the Volunteer forces with brooch-loaders. He considered that the Government was greatly to blame for not having taken steps months ago to arm the Volunteers. In saying this he was not referring to the present emergency; but surely if the Government had confidence in the Volunteers—and if they had not it was unlikely that they would submit Votes for them to Parliament year after year—that force ought to be supplied with weapons something better than more walking-sticks. It was also important that the House should have a correct estimate not only of the men, but the horses, guns, and stores that were available for the public service. Some people seemed to imagine that it was detrimental to the public service to ask for information on such points; but he had no doubt that every Government in Europe were as well, if not better, informed by means of their agents, of the state of our military affairs as the Gentlemen who were connected with the administration of the Army. Those who knew least about their own defences were the people of this country, He wished therefore to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would take stops to place the people of England in full possession of the necessary information about men, arms, horses, and so forth. The right hon. Gentleman was further reported to have said that our forces available for a foreign expedition amounted to 110,951 men. But if he really did say so, the assertion seemed to render his whole statement worthless, and he was, though doubtless unintentionally, misleading the country as to the condition of our military preparation. When we had only 90,000 regular troops at homo, a considerable portion consisting of depôts, to say that we could send 110,000 men abroad appeared to be an assertion not only incorrect, but so astonishingly wide of the truth that he could not understand how it could be made by a responsible Minister. This he know, that large deductions must be made from the forces on paper for the forces available. In France, out of about 600,000 men, leaving out the Garde Mobile and the National Guard, they were not able to put above two-thirds on the frontier. And yet in this country we were able to send on a foreign expedition forces much larger than the Regular Army. Then the House had been told that we had 105 batteries. Was he to understand that we had 105 batteries of field artillery and that those batteries were horsed? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would explain all the circumstances of the case.
said, he believed that the purchase of horses for the belligerent Powers was going on in different parts of the country, and that in London at this very moment agents of both belligerents were at work endeavouring to obtain horses for their military services. He was told it was doubtful whether that could be brought within our neutrality laws; but an enactment of 16 & 17 Vict. enabled the Privy Council to issue an order restraining the export of any articles which might be required by ourselves for warlike purposes. He understood that the horses available for our cavalry had been largely reduced since the present Government acceded to Office. The other day, in one of our "crack" cavalry regiments, he found that, whereas within the last two years there were about 430 horses, they were now reduced to 300. Under these circumstances, he put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether he was likely to be able to remount our cavalry if the exportation of horses were allowed to go on at its present rate?
said, the Executive Government were the persons who should be able to judge what force ought to be kept up; but, as we could not compete in numbers with the large Armies of the Continent, our force, though small, ought to be most effective, according to its size, in every branch of the service. He asked, whether it was true, as was rumoured, that while there was a talk of arming the Volunteers with breechloaders we had at this moment some of our Regular troops armed only with the muzzle-loader?
said, he believed he spoke the sentiments of every Volunteer officer in the House when he said the men would not be satisfied if they were not allowed an opportunity of learning the use of the breech-loader. He hoped the Enfield rifle would be converted into the Snider, which was a better weapon than that adopted on the Continent. The conversion would cost only 10s. per gun, and the whole of our Volunteers might soon be furnished with those improved weapons.
The Snider, Sir, is the best breech-loader in the hands of any troops in the world, and every regiment of the Regular Army and also our Marines are armed with it; but, in speaking of the Regulars, I must except a por- tion of the force in India. According to a rule laid down by the India Office, as I stated the other night, when any regiment goes out from this country armed with the Snider, the reliefs go out without their weapons and get them when they reach India. With that exception, all our Regulars and Marines are armed with breech-loading rifles. As to the cavalry, at the end of 1856, when the reductions were made after the Crimean War, the cavalry regiments consisted of 470; they are now 483 of all ranks. The rank and file were 408; they are now 407. We had then 300 horses; we have now 300. But that was thought at that time too large an establishment, and when the great reduction occurred early in 1857 the numbers were 19 regiments, in each of which there were 412 of all ranks, and 326 rank and file, with 271 horses. On the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny the numbers were increased to 660 of all ranks; 529 rank and file, with 428 horses. This year we have not put them down to the point they stood at in 1857; but they are 483 of all ranks and 407 rank and file, with 300 horses. After that I hope we shall hear no more of the excessive reduction of the cavalry. As to the troops at home, the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun) calls me to account for saying that we could send to the Continent an expedition of 110,000 men and upwards. Now, I never made any such statement; and I should be much surprised if any other Gentleman had understood me to say anything of the kind. It was my duty, in giving an account of our comparative forces at various times, to state how many men in this country were under engagements which rendered them liable to serve abroad if called upon. I gave the numbers from the date of the reduction after the campaign of Waterloo down to the present time, and I showed that we had in this country at this moment twice as many men liable to serve abroad as we had when the Duke of Wellington was Prime Minister, and a larger number liable to serve abroad than we have had in any year since the reductions after the campaign of Waterloo, with the single exception of 1856, before the reductions had been effected after the Crimean War. That is the statement which I made yesterday; it is quite accurate, and I adhere to it. As to the force in this country, it is, according to the Adjutant General's Return at this moment between 82,000 and 83,000 men. That of which I spoke was the distribution of Regulars provided in the Estimates, which will be made up when the troops now under orders from the Colonies have returned. I gave them as being in 1870 89,051, as against 87,505 in 1868, and the Reserves as 21,900. I believe that is strictly accurate. I am asked whether the 105 batteries of artillery are all provided with horses. No, they are not. A considerable portion of them are garrison batteries. I have not said that we have 105 batteries of Royal Artillery all provided with horses; but that we have batteries and horses for an army of 60,000 men. I said that the guns are all horsed, and that all the horses that require to be trained are there. The draught horses for the waggons are not there. I said that to keep those draught horses was a larger provision than in times of profound peace a just sense of economy would justify. With regard to arming the Reserve with breech-loaders, it is hard that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy should talk to me as if I desired to withhold breech-loaders from the Reserve Forces. I believe I began to give breech-loaders to the Reserve, and that what had been done when I came into Office—although if I am wrong on that I shall, no doubt, be corrected by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Pakington)—was to arm the permanent Staff, and nothing beyond it, with breech-loaders. But we have distributed within the last two years more than 53,000 Snider breech-loaders to different regiments of Militia, arming, I think, 64 regiments, and we have also distributed over 7,000 Westley-Richards breech-loaders to the Yeomanry, making together 61,000; besides which we have also armed that useful force the Pensioners in a similar manner. Do not let the hon. Gentleman then come down and charge me with having refused breech-loaders to the Reserve. We do not take hundreds of thousands of these weapons and distribute them in an hour, but we proceed gradually, and I repeat that we are just beginning to arm the Volunteers with breech-loadors—notsuddenly thrusting them into the hands of every Volunteer, but acting according to rule, and thus putting that valuable force in a position to take its place in the defensive forces of the country. I have great pleasure in assuring the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Whitwell) that, although he is himself an active and efficient Volunteer, he cannot have a more earnest desire to see that force thoroughly efficient than I have. The hon. and gallant Member for Stamford told us we have not in store 20,000 breech-loaders. [Sir JOHN HAY: I said I understood so.] Well, when a Gentleman so likely to be well-informed on warlike matters as I must admit the hon. and gallant Member to be supposes that our store of breech-loaders, instead of being what it is—namely, 300,000—is short of 20,000, I hope the House will be so kind as to acknowledge that the statements which are sometimes made, and which may obtain currency in very eminent quarters, when touched with the spear of proof and put to the test of fact are really not entitled to credit. I make this appeal because I think it is a great public mischief that idle stories of this kind should obtain currency.
said, he wanted to know whether it was intended to supply the Volunteers with the Snider rifle before all the Militia regiments were supplied?
said, that the supply of the Snider to the Militia would be continued till all the regiments were armed with that weapon, and then Sniders would be gradually served to the Volunteers.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
SUPPLY— considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
said, he had to move a Vote of Credit for the sum required beyond the ordinary Grants of Parliament towards defraying the expenses which may be incurred in maintaining the naval and military services of this kingdom, including the cost of a further number of land forces of 20,000 men, during the war in Europe.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a further number of Land Forces, not exceeding 20,000 Men (All Ranks), be maintained, for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, during the year ending 31st day of March 1871."
said, he rose to ask the Committee to negative the Motion. He did not object to allowing the Government to exercise responsibility in respect of money voted. If war were declared he would intrust the Government with the responsibility of conducting it; but he objected to this Vote on principle. He agreed with the opinion expressed last night, that war when not a necessity was a crime, and that no war could be justified which was not strictly defensive. They were informed that the Army and Navy were in a most efficient state, and ready to repel any enemy; and if that were the case, he could not see the necessity for an increased Vote of men and money. It was argued that the Vote and the men the Vote was to pay were necessary, because two of the great Armies of Europe were engaged in hostilities; but to his mind there was less danger to this country from those Armies than if they were standing idle. The hon. and gallant Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) seemed much astonished because in the proposed Treaty between France and Prussia England was not mentioned. It appeared to him (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that was a circumstance which ought to be very gratifying to us. "Happy was the nation which had no history." He held that our policy ought to be one of strict non-intervention; and it was because he regarded this Vote as the first step in a direction contrary to non-intervention, and dangerous to the country, that he should go into the Lobby against the Vote, if no one else went with him.
said, he need scarcely say that it was not his intention to support the hon. Baronet who had just sat down. He thought the Government were acting very properly in proposing the Vote now before the Committee; but, at the same time, he wished to make a few observations on the military condition of the country at this moment, because he was not satisfied with the statements which had been made by the First Minister of the Crown and the Secretary of State for War. He must say that those statements were calculated to mislead the country, though he was sure there was no intention on the part of those right hon. Gentlemen to mislead either the House or the country. He thought, and he believed the Government would agree with him, that, in the presence of a great crisis in Europe, the whole truth should be known, and no ground should be left for supposing that we were not in a proper state of military preparation. The opinion had been stated on the part of the Government that our strength, under present circumstances, ought to be such as to make our neutrality respected. That statement was, in his opinion, worthy of the Government; but there was another statement made by the Secretary of State for War which he could not regard with the same degree of acquiescence. The Secretary of State for War said, that in point of numbers and efficiency, the Army of England at the present moment might challenge comparison with its state at any former time. He (Sir John Pakington) was by no means disposed to doubt that statement so far as efficiency was concerned; but he must challenge the statement with regard to the number of the Army. When he read the report of the speech of his right hon. Friend, he thought it must be an erroneous representation of what the right hon. Gentleman had said; but the speeches which they heard in that House last night gave an explanation as to what was really intended. What the Secretary of State for War said at the Mansion House was that "the Army and Navy may in number and efficiency challenge comparison with any other time," and what he (Sir John Pakington) supposed was meant was this, that the numbers now in England and Ireland might bear comparison with those at any former time. But, in his opinion, that meaning did not bear out the expression that was used, because that portion of the British Army that happened at the moment to be quartered at home, in Great Britain or Ireland, was not the British Army. His right hon. Friend would not contend that it was; and yet it was only by taking that expression to refer to the portion of the Army that was at home that it could for a moment be justified. The fact was that the British Army, instead of being as great in numbers as at any former time, had been reduced to an immense extent. He did not hesitate to refer to the circumstance, because it was idle to suppose that on a subject of this magni- tude they could throw dust in the eyes of our own countrymen or of foreign Powers. Foreign Powers knew as well as we did what had taken place. He would mention the simple facts of the case. A little more than a year and a-half had passed since he surrendered the seals of the War Office, and when he left Office at the close of 1868 the Army that he turned over to his right hon. Friend who succeeded him (Mr. Card well) numbered 137,000 men. What were the facts now? Nineteen months had passed away, and during that short time the present Government had reduced the military power of England by no less than an Army of 24,000 men. When the Estimates of 1869 were brought in, 12,000men, he believed, were knocked off the strength of the British Army, and the Estimates of 1870 had been brought forward lately, and again—he was speaking from memory as to figures—in round numbers 12,000 men more were knocked off; and, notwithstanding this, the right hon. Gentleman went to the Mansion House and told the British public that the Army of England was in numbers as strong as at any former time. He was sure that his right hon. Friend intended to make no illusive statement; but that statement was, repeated in substance, by the First Minister of the Crown last night. [Mr. GLADSTONE: I said for home defence.] Well, he disputed the proposition, even put in that way. He thought that there could be no greater delusion or danger than to estimate our strength by the number of troops that happened to be at home at the moment. In case of emergency the troops abroad might be recalled, or they might be made use of wherever they happened to be placed. He begged to remind the Government that these reductions in the Army did not pass without challenge. On both occasions, when the Estimates of 1869 and 1870 were brought forward, he and other Members on his side of the House remonstrated with the Government, and pointed out to them, and indeed entreated them, to remember how greatly changed was the system of modern warfare. They asked the Government to bear in mind the small number of troops they had, how rapidly wars were now begun and concluded, and how essential it was that we should be adequately prepared. That was the language used, though no one foresaw how speedily those views would be confirmed by events. What was the answer given to those observations by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War? It was two-fold. In the first place, he said that we had recalled our troops from all our Colonies, and consequently the number was increased at home. There was another answer of his right hon. Friend, and that was that though they had reduced the number of our Army they had not reduced the number of the cadres of regiments and of the battalions, and that the policy would be at once to fill up those cadres and battalions when an emergency arrived. What was the result of this policy at that moment? The present was not a time when he should think of entering upon the important and difficult subject of the policy of the Government towards our Colonies; and he would only say that it was a policy which he, for one, could not concur in. The question of withdrawing the troops from the Colonies was to his mind a question of time and degree; but abruptly to deprive the Colonies of Her Majesty's forces to the extent and in the manner that the Government had done, was to his mind anything but wise and judicious. The result was, that though they had strengthened the Army at home they had alienated not a few of the Colonies abroad, and at that very moment there were dependencies of the Crown, the inhabitants of which had been amongst the most attached and loyal of Her Majesty's subjects, where a feeling of desertion was producing a feeling of alienation, and where not a few persons would be ready to transfer their allegiance to another Power. That there were at the present moment in England a great number of battalions he admitted; but they were only skeleton battalions, and he doubted whether there was a single battalion, unless the Guards in London, in a condition to take the field. Suppose a case of emergency had arisen not between France and Prussia, but between either of those Powers and. England, and that instead of being a spectator of the quarrel, this country had been a party to it, what would then have been our position? He admitted that if the Government were determined to reduce the Army, they had adopted the best way of doing so; but he maintained that the reduction itself was imprudent and impolitic; and now the Government were placed in a position in which they felt it their duty to propose an increase in our military force to the extent of 20,000 men. In making those remarks he did not forget the fact that there were certain of our battalions that were stronger; but the description that he had given of the general state of the Army he believed was perfectly true and correct. He wanted to know in what way the 20,000 men were to be added to the Army; and the question how it was proposed to obtain these men led naturally to the question, what was the state of our Reserves. One argument used when these reductions were proposed was, that whatever reduction might be made in the Army, that reduction would never be made until the Reserves were established. He wanted to know where those Reserves were? He was surprised to hear the First Minister of the Crown state last night that our Reserves amounted to 41,000 men. He did not himself very clearly understand where these 41,000 men were to be found. The force included, of course, the Pensioners—not a very effective force, and who would number 14,000 or 15,000 men, and he supposed that it would include also the Militia Reserve, which this season amounted to 20,000 men. There was another almost ludicrous little force with a pompous name—the First Army Reserve—which last spring numbered 1,800 or 1,900 men. He would now call attention to what was one of the most important branches of this subject—he meant the state of our Militia. He, with his Friend and predecessor, General Peel, were responsible for that Militia Reserve. In enlisting the 20,000 troops the Government could not call upon this Reserve for men, because the Militia Reserve were only liable to serve in the event of actual war or the imminent danger of invasion of this country. But if the Militia Reserve should be called upon there was this serious consequence, that in whatever degree they called up that Reserve to strengthen the Regular Forces they would diminish the strength and efficiency of the Militia itself. He was not disposed to be severe upon the plan, for it was one that might be found very useful to the country; but when General Peel brought forward, and he, as General Peel's successor, carried the Act for establishing a Militia Reserve, it was upon the clear understanding that the Militia itself was to be strengthened to its full quota, so as to bear as well as it could the reduction that might possibly be made in its strength. Now, his fear was that, instead of strengthening the Militia, his right hon. Friend had reduced it, and in this way—The Secretary of State for War had announced his intention of establishing Militia battalions of 1,000 men; but when he moved the Estimates he said that he intended to reduce the large regiments to 1,000 men and to increase the quota of the smaller regiments. He (Sir John Pakington) wished to know why his right hon. Friend had reduced the battalions, but had not, in the other direction, taken steps to increase the numbers of the small regiments. Our position when the present Government took Office was this—that we had 137,000 men in the Army, divided into effective, powerful battalions; while we had now 24,000 less men, and they were divided into skeleton battalions comparatively unfitted for active service. This being so, the Government were now about to retrace their steps and to raise 20,000 more men, who would be raw recruits, instead of experienced soldiers, such as were turned over to the Government when the last Administration left Office. He hoped that his right hon. Friend would offer some explanation as to what he intended to do with regard to the Militia; and he wished to know whether it was in the contemplation of the Government—looking at the present state' of affairs—to take power, before Parliament separated, for embodying the Militia. As the law now stood this course could not be adopted without the action of Parliament, and therefore, in the event of its becoming necessary, unless the power were previously taken, it would be requisite to convene Parliament for the purpose. He wished to say a few words with regard to the point discussed last night and to-day, until he believed it had puzzled everybody—he meant the question of the supply of our breechloaders. Although Iris right hon. Friend had most courteously and fully answered the question put, he thought that practically the result had been that no one exactly understood what our position was. His hon. and gallant Friend near him (Sir John Hay) had been lectured for his supposed inaccuracy in having stated last night that there were only 20,000 breech-loaders in store; and the Secretary of State for War told them that there were 300,000 in store. He wanted to see if, by a final question and answer, this could be cleared up. He wished to know whether he was really to understand that we had 300,000 breech-loaders in store that had never been yet distributed to our forces anywhere? He should also like to renew the question that had been put by his hon. and gallant Friend behind him (Colonel Gilpin), and which had not been very distinctly answered. How far had the Regular Army been supplied? There was a report running about the House that there was at that moment in Scotland a regiment of Regular infantry that had not got these arms, and he asked was this true or not? [Mr. CARDWELL: No; it is the first time that I ever heard of it.] He was glad to have elicited that distinct denial, for Gentlemen all round him had been led to believe that the report was true. Was ho, then, to understand that the Regular Army, including the regiment referred to in Scotland, was supplied with breechloaders, that the Militia were to a certain extent supplied, and that over and above this there were 300,000 of these arms in store? [Mr. CARDWELL: Yes.] He was extremely glad to hear it, and he was glad that he had been the means of bringing out a statement upon a matter that had not previously been properly understood.
said, that perhaps the best plan would be for his right hon. Friend to move for a Return of the number of breech-loaders in store—a Return which he would gladly give, and that would furnish the information with minute accuracy. He had repeatedly stated that he was informed by those who were responsible to him for the custody of the breech-loading weapons, that, in round numbers, the number of breech-loaders at that moment in store was 300,000.
said, if the right hon. Gentleman liked to put any such Return upon the Table, well and good; but they had had the statement distinct and clear which they had wished for, and he (Sir John Pakington) was perfectly satisfied, and had no desire to move for any Return on the subject. He repeated that he was heartily glad that he had brought out this distinct statement; and he had only to ex- press the hope that the Government would lose no time—that they would not allow the question between the Martini-Henry rifle and the Snider to be the cause of any further delay; for the time had come when the supply of arms should be complete and satisfactory. He hoped that the Government would take care that no more time was consumed than was absolutely necessary in supplying all our Forces, both Regular and Reserve, with this arm. He could not help indulging in the hope that Her Majesty's Government, after the extent to which they had imprudently reduced the military forces of the country, would feel that they had had a warning, that the circumstances of the present moment were indeed to them a very serious warning. It was impossible to regard what was passing in Europe at that moment without feeling that there was an impression on the part of Foreign Powers that England had retreated from her high position among the nations. An idea prevailed among foreign nations that we were devoted to trade, that we wished to live cheaply, and that we cared little about our national honour. From the time of what he would call that most weak and pusillanimous policy of our Government not to interfere when Denmark was crushed by Prussia, the position of England in the eyes of the world had been changed. In his opinion, the reputation of England on the Continent fell from that moment, and had never revived. He did not think it was possible to reflect on the extraordinary circumstances of the Secret Treaty, to which such references had been made, without having that feeling increased. The circumstances connected with that Treaty certainly were not creditable to either party. Each party in turn had tried to throw the blame of the Treaty upon the other; but he doubted much whether we should ever hear more about the real facts connected with it than we already knew. But we knew enough to feel satisfied that it would be difficult for this country hereafter to depend upon the assurances of either of those Powers which had been mixed up with it. It appeared, however, to him perfectly clear that the disposition of Continental Powers now was to underrate the willingness of England to assert or to maintain any longer her European position, Considering, however, the delicate and responsible position in which the Government were placed, he felt the difficulty of appearing to press upon them any premature declaration. But, making full allowance for all the circumstances, he confessed he could not but regret that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had not thought it consistent with his duty to say more than fell from him last night as to the resolution of England to maintain her Treaty obligations. While giving credit to the Government for believing they had sound and sufficient reasons for their reticence, he thought it might be inferred, from the tenour of the debate last night, that, if not the unanimous desire of the House of Commons, the desire at least of the great majority of the House was that the honour of England, and her Treaty obligations should be maintained. Thanking the House for the attention with which they had listened to him, he had only to repeat the expression of a hope that the right hon. Gentleman would meet the inquiries which he now addressed to him by a full and clear explanation of what was the policy to be pursued by the Government in regard to our military armaments.
said, that until he heard the speech of his right hon. Friend opposite (Sir John Pakington) he had no idea of what a serious thing it was to dine with the Lord Mayor; and, had opportunity been afforded, he should certainly have referred to the report of what he actually stated in replying to the toast of "The Army, the Navy, and the Reserve Forces." It would have been foolish as well as inexcusable in him if he had endeavoured to mislead any company by stating that the Government had not reduced the numbers of the Army since they came into Office. He had always been accustomed to take credit for those reductions, and though not, he hoped, in any spirit of ostentation, he had always been desirous that the nature and extent of those reductions should be thoroughly known. But what he wished to convey, and what he believed he had conveyed, was this—that the defences of the country, the power of the country to discharge her duty and to make her neutrality respected, had not diminished, and that the Army, the Navy, and the Reserve Forces, in point of numbers and disci- pline, might challenge comparison with former times. If he had said that hastily at the Lord Mayor's table, he was prepared to repeat it deliberately in the House of Commons. It was all very well to talk of troops in the Colonies, and to speak of them as Reserves to be called upon in time of need. When he had the honour of acceding to the Colonial Office there were 10,000 of our best troops in New Zealand. He should like to know what advantage they would be in an emergency if they were in New Zealand now? If regiments were dispersed over the face of the globe—here a battalion and there a wing—what additional strength would they afford in the event of some grave European crisis? He took credit for advocating a policy of concentration; he adhered to it; and either before the Lord Mayor or in the House of Commons he should be perfectly prepared to give reasons in support of such a policy. Those reasons, moreover, did not emanate merely from one side of the House; they had been held and urged most forcibly by his right hon. Friend who represented the Colonial Office in the late Government (Sir Charles Adderley), and those views had been ably expressed from time to time in despatches which were on record. It was said, indeed, that the attachment of the Colonies had cooled, and that colonists had been turned from loyal into disloyal men, because the mother country was no longer willing to incur the expense of defending them. His experience at the Colonial Office led him to entertain very different views of our colonial fellow-subjects, and he did not believe that the connection was likely to be weakened because they were called on to be self-asserting and self-dependent. The true policy he believed to be that embodied in the formal announcement from the two Houses of the New Zealand Legislature which he had the honour to receive—"We do not like your interference; but if your troops are here we cannot deny your right to interfere. We, therefore, prefer that you should take away your troops." England did not cease to defend the Colonies because she no longer kept small garrisons in them; the secret of their security lay in the fact, known to all the world, that war with any one of the Colonies meant war with England. Take the case of Canada. The knowledge that we were going to withdraw our troops caused them to take measures to raise an army of their own, thereby setting at liberty a force ready to be sent to any part of the world where an exigency might arise. The policy of dispersion, he repeated, was a policy of weakness; the policy of concentration was a policy of strength. He never denied that his right hon. Friend opposite (Sir John Pakington), when at the head of the War Department, asked for a much larger number of men; whatever credit was due to him for that he (Mr. Cardwell) was willing that he should enjoy. His contention was that with a smaller Estimate a greater degree of efficiency might be obtained. His right hon. Friend said the Army had been diminished by 24,000—and he (Mr. Cardwell) would not quarrel with the number given, though he believed this included the civil portion of the Army—the Army Staff Corps as well as the combatants. The figures, as given in a Return officially prepared, showed that within two years the present Government had reduced the number of men by 22,681 combatants; but of these 4,000 belonged to colonial corps, which the Government had declined airy longer to pay for out of the Estimates of this country; and, accordingly, this was not a diminution of strength, but a husbanding of resources. There was also a difference of 6,500 in the number of men at the depôts now and in 1868. But he begged to say that the depôt battalions formed an organization strong upon paper, but weak in reality, and the present Government, by the alteration which they had made in the system, had added considerably to the strength of the country. He had never said that there was at this moment 89,000 men in the country. He had stated distinctly from the Adjutant General's Returns that on the 1st of July last the number of those in the country was 82,306, with 1,389 on their way home from the Colonies, making 83,695. To make up the 89,000 those ordered home from the Colonies were included, and those were provided for in the Estimates of the present year. The number provided for at home in the Estimates of 1868 was 87,505, and in those for the present year 89,051. But if the numbers at the depôts were struck out they would stand thus — in 1868, 70,492, and in this year 78,548. He was told again that the Government had diminished the numbers and power of the battalions, and that though the number of battalions at home might be large, they must only be looked upon as skeleton battalions. Now, in time of peace it was quite possible to have an enormous Estimate or to have a moderate one; but with a moderate Estimate, one of two things was indispensable: either there must be a large number of battalions, each having very few men, or there must be fewer battalions with a considerable number of men in each. The question was, which of these systems really contributed most to the national strength? He believed that the same number of men, commanded by more officers and non-commissioned officers, would be relatively more efficient than the same number of men with fewer officers in charge of them. But what was the object? It was, that when a time of emergency arose the Minister might come down to the House and ask to have those battalions immediately filled up, and all that would be done all the more effectually by the country enjoying the advantages of economy in time of peace; the cadres would be ready and the force would spring into more active development, and all that would have to be done would be to pass a Vote for the additional numbers wanted. Then he was asked about the Reserves. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) last night stated quite accurately what the Reserves were from official Returns furnished from sources from which the light hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Pakington) had often derived his information, and upon the accuracy of which he would admit the Government were justified in relying. Drawing his information from those sources, he (Mr. Cardwell) now said that the Reserves of men engaged to serve abroad in 1868 were 3,545; whereas they were now 21,900. His right hon. Friend opposite called the Army of Reserve "a ludicrous little force with a pompous name." When he considered that this "ludicrous little force with a pompous name" was the creation of the Government of which his right hon. Friend was a distinguished ornament, he was in perplexity as to the mode in which he could deal with the matter in reply. His light hon. Friend now said it had been a failure. Well, he had brought in a Bill which he believed would remedy that evil and establish a Reserve which would not be a failure. Then objections had been taken to the Militia Reserve. He himself had taken some objections to it a year and a-half ago. That, also, was the creation of the Government of which the right hon. Baronet was a Member. Until they had got their new instrument they must do their best with the old; and, therefore, he thought it his duty to raise the Reserve to the full amount. That was done, and the men were there ready to serve their country, and were recruited on the terms which the right hon. Baronet had laid down. He had been asked what he had done with respect to the Militia? He had never said that he would alter the quota. It was a very troublesome thing to do, and it appeared to him more expedient not to resort to an alteration of the quota until the new Census was taken. What he did say was—and he appealed to the military Gentlemen who heard him in confirmation of its truth—that a Militia regiment of more than 1,000 men had generally been considered rather unmanageable, and that it was better to allow those regiments which were over 1,000 men to fall down to that number before they began recruiting again. But he said, further, that all the regiments below 1,000 men should be recruited up to that strength as rapidly as possible. The result appeared—from the same Return—to be that we had now 84,900 Militiamen, as against 79,708 in 1867. In making those references, he might observe in passing that of course a man did not become two men by being both in the Militia and in the Militia Reserve, and therefore if he was in the Militia Reserve he was not to be counted also in the Militia. His right hon. Friend opposite said that Her Majesty's Government were retracing their steps, because, having allowed a considerable number of men to fall off in a period of profound peace, they sought to fill the ranks again when, for public reasons, it was thought desirable to increase our strength. He did not consider that retracing our steps. It was exactly what he announced to the House on the first occasion. And when hon. Gentlemen talked of skeleton battalions, his reply was that they had taken the same number as Prussia, which was a high military authority. If they talked of the quality of the men, then he would say, on the highest military authority, they had availed themselves of the reduction of our Army in time of peace to allow those to pass out of it who, for physical and moral reasons, were the least effective; and for the numbers he believed this country never had its Army in a more efficient state, man for man. He had been asked about a regiment in Scotland said to be without breech-loaders. A Scotch Gentleman sitting by him at the time suggested that it was not breech-loaders, but something else they wanted. Whether that was true he really did not know; of the two stories it was the more credible, but he would endeavour to ascertain whether there was any truth in the other statement. All he could say was that he had no occasion, from the remarks of his right hon. Friend, to withdraw anything that he had ever stated on this subject. It had been his desire to maintain that the policy of concentration was our true policy; that to have numerous cadres low in point of numbers was judicious; that, both for pecuniary and moral reasons, in a period, of profound peace we ought to have our battalions small; and that when a time of emergency arose that system, and that system alone, could give us an opportunity of rapidly and economically increasing our forces.
said, there was one tiling completely appalling, and that was the complacency of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, and the complacency of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had criticized the term "skeletons," and said it was true that we had reduced our regiments to 500 men; but then the Government had only to come down to the House to make them efficient. It was quite true the House was ready to vote 20,000 men and £2,000,000 of money, and more, if necessary; but when they had got these 20,000 men the British Army would be still fewer in number than it was when the right hon. Gentleman came into Office. Since Parliament met this year he was informed that no fewer than 14,000 men had been got rid of. It was true the right hon. Gentleman had said that some of those were weak either in moral character or physical strength; but it could not be sup- posed that there had been 14,000 men serving in our Army who were undesirable people to have, and he knew that the right hon. Gentleman himself had expressed, through official sources, his desire that a good many of them should return. That was the best test whether the right hon. Gentleman thought them worth having. The right hon. Gentleman had got rid of his men in the winter, and now in the middle of the harvest he sought to get them again. Every exertion had been made in the past week, and what had it produced? Under 300 men. How many weeks and months would it take to raise the men we wanted at that rate until winter came again, which was the recruiting time in this country? Then, no money encouragement was given to recruiting parties to bring back the men who had left. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what he intended to do with his £2,000,000? How was he to replace the 20,000 men he had got rid of? Was he going to offer a bounty? There was a great objection to offering bounty to men they did not know, because many took it and then went away and enlisted in another regiment. But here was a case in which bounties of £5 or £10 might be judiciously given to those men who had been discharged a few months ago, and if that was done many would come in at once. He would like some details, if the right hon. hon. Gentleman would so far condescend, instead of dealing in general statements. The right hon. Gentleman had gone back on that eternal hobby of his — the Prussian establishment. Last year it was the French and General Trochu that were quoted in favour of battalions of 500. Well, 500 in the French and Prussian Armies was very good, because in a fortnight 500 or 600 more men who had served three years in the ranks could be brought into the Prussian Army, and into the French Army as many who had served six or seven. Of course, if they got rid of several hundred men from each regiment there was what the right hon. Gentleman termed a great power of expansion; but the question was, what had they got to fill their regiments up with when it was necessary to strengthen them? They had been told about the Reserve last night, and he could not conceive how the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) managed to place it as high as 41,000 men. However, 14,000 or 15,000 of them consisted of their old friends the Pensioners—a very tolerable force, well worth its rations and pay, and adapted for the defence of the country in time of danger, but, certainly, not available for strengthening their Army. What they understood by the Reserve were, the men whom they were able to put into the ranks of those weak cadres. If they had 40,000 or 50,000 men of that description, there might be some justification for that reduction down to 500 men; but they had got nothing of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman could not call on the Militia Reserve to serve, because the country was neither at war nor in actual danger of invasion. He should like to know what steps were to be taken in regard to the Militia? A thousand men for a battalion of Militia was a very good establishment, and the right hon. Gentleman was quite right in reducing the battalions from 1,200 to 1,000, provided he did not lose the advantage of the extra 200 men, and had got them somewhere else; but he (Major General Sir Percy Herbert) was afraid that was not really the case. Without altering the quota, he thought it would be easy to raise a considerable number of Militiamen for the weak regiments by volunteering. Surely some intimation ought to be given in connection with the £2,000,000 now asked for, as to whether it was the intention of the Government to call out the first 50 or 60 battalions of Militia for training in the autumn. The battalion of 800 might easily be raised to 1,000 as soon as the harvest was over; and there was no reason why they should not be called out for six weeks' training. It would not cost much over £500,000, and would be money well applied. The Militia were now called out only for one month in the year, and although that period might be sufficient in "the piping times of peace" to keep them fairly organized, yet when they might want to embody them I at any moment, they ought to have the advantage of some more training. Many of the Militia battalions—perhaps, the larger proportion—had never fired a ball cartridge, many regiments having no place for practice within convenient reach; and when a regiment was called out for only 28 days in the year, what chance was there of all its duties being thoroughly attended to? Those were matters on which he wished to have explanations from the right hon. Gentleman. True, the right hon. Gentleman took £2,000,000, and that would be as much as he might be able to spend according to the arrangements he had announced, because the men recruited slowly, and their pay, till Parliament met again, would be small. When the right hon. Gentleman laid on the Table the Returns as to breech-loaders, it was desirable that he should mention whether the 45,000 now in Canada, and which, as he understood, were engaged to be given to the Canadian Government, were included. What was most alarming in the present circumstances was the want of a due appreciation of them on the part of the Government, and the fact that they could not see the blunder they had made in getting rid of 23,000 men, 14,000 of them within the last six months. The Government were now about to try and get them back again, and it was very remarkable that, of all the recent periods in our history, they should have looked with complacency on the year 1857, when substantially the same ministers were in Office as now, and when the same sort of reductions were made. What was the result? Why, they had not got rid of their men six weeks when they were trying to get them back again in consequence of the Indian Mutiny. Looking at the state of Europe, and with our extensive dependencies and Colonics, was it to be supposed that they could guarantee from month to month, or from year to year, that they were to have times of perfect peace, and that they could get rid of every soldier under the idea that they would have two years to recruit and strengthen their regiments when wanted? As a military man, he did not wish for extravagant Estimates, but every regiment they chose to maintain should be maintained in a fair state of efficiency. It was playing with words to tell them that the Army was as efficient as it had been at any time, and then to qualify the statement by adding "man for man." Nobody doubted that; but 500 men could not meet 1,000 in the field with any chance of success, and the question was—had they the means of filling up their skeleton regiments when necessary? And besides, the establishment of 500 men could not put 400 men into the field. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) ought to have known it, or there ought to have been some one in the Government who knew it. He was much pleased when the right hon. Gentleman was appointed Secretary of State for War. He believed the right hon. Gentleman had given his mind quite as much or probably more than any other Member of the Government would have done to military matters, and certainly he had always shown the greatest courtesy to those who were interested in them. His complaint was not against the right hon. Gentleman but against the whole tone of the Government. That right hon. Gentleman only spoke to orders and carried out the policy of his chief; and he must say that he found ten times more fault with the speeches of the First Minister of the Crown than with those of the Secretary of State for War, regarding them as most alarming and appalling.
said, thinking the House must now be nearly surfeited with military matters, he would confine himself to correcting a few of the statements of the last speaker. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Cardwell) had been charged with not condescending to details, but he surely could not have known beforehand the details into which the gallant General had just entered, and he had applied himself to answering the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the late Secretary of State for War (Sir John Pakington). The hon. and gallant General had again and again harped on the alleged reduction of 23,000 men from the strength of the Army, notwithstanding the repeated contradictions and explanations given by his right hon. Friend. The reductions had been made from the West India, the Cape, and other colonial regiments; and 4,000 odd men of that reduction was entirely attributable to local corps, of no service whatever for the defence of this country. In addition to that, a large portion of the reduction was attributable to the depôt battalions, which as the hon. and gallant General knew, contributed nothing to the strength of our forces as regarded, home defence. With regard to recruiting, it began only last week, and began, too, without bounty; and he was happy to be able to state, upon information derived from the Deputy Adjutant General at the Horse Guards, that, considering the period of the year — namely, harvest time, the worst time for the process, the recruiting had gone on most satisfactorily; and, notwithstanding that the bounty had been abolished, they had every reason to believe they would get all the men they wanted, and as rapidly as required. They therefore hoped they would not be obliged to resort to the objectionable system of tempting men to enlist by a bounty, which often tempted them to desert in order to get it over again.
said, no statement had been more often repeated from the Treasury Bench than that the defensive power of the country was never in a more satisfactory condition than at the present time. Secresy in these matters, he was aware, was desirable; and he had no wish to be set down as an alarmist. Secresy had its advantages and disadvantages, and his opinion was that as the veil had been partially raised, further reticence, with regard to our defences, would be out of place, and he was confirmed in that opinion by the statement made yesterday by the First Minister of the Crown—that our fortifications were incomplete and unarmed. That was as sweeping an announcement as could be well made, and removed all responsibility from any hon. Member who entered into the subject, The Secretary of State for War had made some statements with regard to ammunition, one of which was to the effect that the number of rounds of small ammunition that were fired during the war at Sebastopol could be manufactured at the Royal Arsenal in a week's time, and that the whole amount of projectiles used in the siege of Sebastopol could be turned out in three weeks. There was, however, a great difference between the ammunition used for small arms then and that used now; and he ventured to inform the right hon. Gentleman that if he would this week send an order to Woolwich Arsenal, so far from that quantity being manufactured in a week, it could not be turned out in six months, if it could be manufactured in eight or nine months, and so far from the projectiles being manufactured in three weeks, he staked his professional reputation on the assertion that they could not be turned out under a year at the very least. There was not only a great difference between the projectiles used then and those required now, but it should be remembered that during the Crimean War the Arsenal was taxed to its utmost, besides which private firms were employed in the manufacture of projectiles for large and small guns. Since then artillery had been so much altered that private firms could not, except under peculiar conditions, be employed now—the projectiles required for the large guns were so special that no private firm could supply them—and therefore there was only the Arsenal to furnish what was required. With respect to fortifications, £7,500,000 had been voted. About £7,250,000 had been spent on the fortifications, and the other £250,000 that had been voted was necessary for arming them. Of course, without guns and shields the fortifications were, as the First Lord of the Treasury had stated them to be, incomplete. About 3,000 guns would be wanted, and he would remind the Committee that yesterday they were informed that the works were incomplete, but that the guns were ready. The real fact of the case was that it was exactly the reverse. The fortifications were completed, but there were no guns, or carriages, or shields to arm them. [Cries of "Divide, divide!"] With regard to the cries of "Divide" going on behind him, he begged to remind hon. Members that the remarks he was about to make were really pertinent to the question. He sympathized with hon. Members on his side of the House in their notions of economy; but he wished them to consider what true economy was. They had spent nearly £7,500,000 on fortifications, and were they to stop short because £2,000,000 were now required? If so, that was not his notion of what true economy was. Something like 3,000 guns were required for the fortifications; but he believed that at the present moment there were only 120 9-inch guns, 10 or 12 10-inch guns, and three 12-inch guns which were available — a disproportion in numbers which was ludicrous. The statement that the guns were ready but the forts were incomplete, and that that was the reason why at this moment we were in a defenceless condition, was not really the true state of the case. The present condition of affairs he took to be owing to the squabbling there had been about minor points in reference to the arming of the forts, and because the country had entered upon the construc- tion of these forts before having resolved on a plan of arming them. It might be urged that his present argument was inconsistent with the line which he took last year when he brought forward the Motion with respect to the forts at Spithead. But that was not so; for the reason he stated against the completion of those forts was that they would involve a large expenditure of money without giving any equivalent returns. The proper course to take would be to complete the fortifications with one tier of guns, and had that course been taken in the past the Secretary of State for War would have been able to offer them now something better than castles in the air. He had been taunted by the Secretary of State for War about what he stated on a former occasion with reference to the Moncrieff gun; but he was able to state from actual observation that a few days ago the Moncrieff gun had been removed from Drake's Island, one of the defences of Plymouth Dockyard. He regretted also to state that although torpedoes were acknowledged as valuable instruments for defence, we had not got one in store of any kind, and he doubted if the plan had yet been settled on which they were to be constructed. We were equally deficient with regard to military telegraphs, which were the eyes of the Army. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had stated that recruiting was going on satisfactorily, and that there would be no difficulty in finding men. The points that he (Captain Beaumont) had brought under the consideration of the Committee might be said to be the eyes and the brains of the Army. It was easy to supply them in times of peace. They were invaluable things, but it should be borne in mind they could not in the hour of need be made and furnished in a short time. The Secretary of State for War had assured the House that recruiting was going on satisfactorily, and he asked the right hon. Gentleman to give his serious attention to what he believed to be the shortcomings with respect to our defences, and endeavour to remedy them as speedily as possible.
said, he must express his surprise at the statement that the House had had a surfeit of military discussions yesterday and to-day. Valuable as was the time of the House, he did not think, considering the great importance of the subject at such a moment, that that time could be better spent than in a complete discussion of the question. While he had been a Member of that House he had never allowed party feelings to interfere with his votes given on questions relating to the efficiency of the service, and if the House divided upon the Amendment of the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) he should support the Government. As to the observations made by the Secretary of State for War at the Mansion House, he (Colonel North) understood them to refer to the efficiency of our Army as an army of defence, and if we were not to act up to our Treaties, nor to be prepared to send a force into Belgium, no doubt our troops, notwithstanding that the amount of our Reserve Force was greatly exaggerated, would be sufficient for defensive purposes; but surely the country would not be content to remain only in that position. Our Army was admitted to contain 20,000 men less now than it did two years ago. The right hon. Gentleman was always referring to the Prussian system, but the circumstances of the two countries were different. If we had such Reserves as the Prussians, he would not say one word about adding to the number of men under the colours, because in Prussia he had seen the Reserves enter the military stores in their civilian dress and within 48 hours afterwards he witnessed them manœuvring in the most admirable manner. As the sale of horses to belligerents had been referred to, he might point out that the horses in our cavalry regiments were in many cases deficient in number and indifferent in quality. The 7th Dragoon Guards at Wimbledon last week had 70 horses less than its proper number, 300. It was the same with regard to the artillery; in that wretched flying column of 2,300 strong at Wimbledon last week 30 horses had to be borrowed from another battery in order to enable sis guns to be brought to Wimbledon. He thought the supply of horses for our cavalry and artillery ought to engage the attentive consideration of the Government.
said, he should support his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) in dividing against the Vote not from any want of confidence in the Government, but simply because he looked upon this Vote as an approach to a policy of intervention, which he was strongly opposed to. He hoped no step would be taken in the direction of such stupendous folly as sending an English Army to the Continent.
said, he wished to know under what regulations the men now asked for would be enlisted? If under the recently passed Enlistment Bill the Secretary for War would have large powers in specifying how long a time the men would have to serve in the regular Army and how long a time in the Army of Reserve.
said, the regulations under the now Act could not be drawn up until that Act had received the Royal Assent. The men would be enlisted under the regulations now existing.
said, he wished to know whether they would receive a bounty?
said they would not. The bounty had been discontinued, and he was happy to say he had learned from the Deputy Adjutant General that morning that the recruiting was going on quite as well without bounty as it ever had done with it.
The Committee divided: — Ayes 161; Noes 5: Majority 156.
Resolution to be reported To-morrow;
Committee to sit again this day.
Glebe Loans (Ireland) Bill
asked the First Lord of the Treasury when this Bill would be taken again. The Report of Amendments was brought on at 35 minutes past 2 o'clock that morning, the right hon. Gentleman apparently desiring that no information should reach the public with regard to the measure and that the debates upon it should not be reported. He wished to know whether a similar arrangement was contemplated by the right hon. Gentleman for that evening?
said, he desired that the Bill should come on as early as possible, and it was the intention of the Government to proceed with it that evening.
At what time?
At any hour.
SUPPLY— considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
(2.) £2,000,000, Expenses beyond Grants, Naval and Military Services, including Cost of further number of Land Forces.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £217,300, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Salaries and Miscellaneous Expenses of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871."
said, he must express his disappointment at the fact that in recasting a Vote, which was originally £222,000, the Government had not been able to save more than 2 per cent, notwithstanding the recommendations of Lord Northbrook's Committee. He would move the reduction of the Vote by £1,768 on the item of £2,200 for the Salary of the Commander in Chief; £256 on the item of £1,000 for the Military Secretary; and £300 on the item of £365 for the Private Secretary.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That the Item of £4,000, for the Salary of the Officer Commanding in Chief be reduced by the sum of £1,768."—(Mr. Anderson.)
said, he thought the hon. Member surely could not have road the Vote, or he would not have described the reduction as only 2 per cent. In reality a reduction had been effected of £58,872 in respect of the salaries of 169 officers. The benefit of this might not be evident immediately, because they had regard to existing interests; but he might state that out of the 169 officers they proposed ultimately to reduce, there were already 79 vacancies. In effecting a measure of disestablishment and disendowment such as this was, existing interests must be borne in mind, and the Government had not made a sudden and sweeping reduction without some consideration for the gentlemen who now held the offices in question. This was not the first occasion on which the hon. Gentleman had brought forward the subject of the Commander in Chief, and at an earlier part of the Session he (Mr. Cardwell) had shown that the result of carrying out the hon. Gentleman's views would be that many eminent officers would cease to occupy their present-positions.
said, that Cabinet Ministers had their Private Secretaries; and he did not see any cause, therefore, why the Commander in Chief should not enjoy the advantage of the services of a Private Secretary. He observed that the grant to the Permanent Secretary was reduced from £2,000 to £1,500. He was sorry that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Anderson) had not taken the trouble to master this subject, though, as a civilian, he could hardly do so.
said, he believed that the office of Field Marshal Commanding in Chief had never been filled with greater ability and zeal than at the present time. The question was whether the services of so distinguished an officer as the Commander in Chief—looking, too, at the high social position which such an official must occupy, were over remunerated by such a salary. He thought it could hardly be said that £4,000 a year was too much.
said, that this was a question of plurality of offices, because the Commander in Chief was also paid as the colonel of one, if not of two regiments; and he (Mr. M. Chambers) thought that in time of peace colonels might be dispensed with.
said, he would suggest that the pay of officers of the Army should be put upon the same footing as the pay of officers of the Navy.
said, that £4,000 a year was not too much for the Commander in Chief.
Question put, and negatived.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
said, he wished for some explanation with respect to the Department of the Inspector General of Fortifications and the Director of Works.
said, that the hon. Gentleman was right in his presumption respecting the Inspector General of Fortifications. It was considered sufficient to have one Deputy Inspector permanently on the Estimates. Pending the completion of the Loan Works, Colonel Jervois would retain office, but be paid from the Loan Fund.
Supply—Civil Service Estimates
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £21,450, be granted to Her Majesty, to enable the Treasury to make the necessary Advances, during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871, for the Purchase of a Site, Erection of Building, and other Expenses, for the New Courts of Justice and Offices belonging thereto."
said, he must draw attention to the extent to which the custom of introducing "Supplementary" Estimates was now carried; and, to put himself in order, he would move pro formâ that Progress should be reported. He admitted that within certain limits Supplementary Estimates were not only legitimate, but necessary; but an understanding was come to last year for the restriction of these Estimates to subjects upon which fresh legislation had taken place since the beginning of the Session. In the present instance, however, this rule had been wholly disregarded. Among the Estimates was one of £15,000 for the Science and Art Department at South Kensington, £21,450 for the Courts of Justice (of which, however, he made little complaint), £7,000 for New Post Office Buildings, £28,000 for Alderney, £6,000 for the Natural History Museum, a Vote for compensation to Foreign Office agents, and other similar Votes, all upon subjects on which the Government might, and ought to, have arrived at a decision at the time when the original Estimates were submitted to the House. What was the consequence? When the Estimates were introduced much stress was laid on the reduction that had been effected in them; but the Committee would find that, if they added these Supplemental Estimates together, they amounted to nearly £150,000, which, if added to the gross amount, would considerably alter the character of the Estimates as originally introduced, and would make the Civil Service expenditure little short of that of last year.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—( Mr. Sclater-Booth.)
said, this was not the first or second time that the hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to show that the promise of economy in the Civil Service Estimates had not been fulfilled. But what were the facts? The Estimates this year showed a reduction of £250,000 as compared with last year; those of last year a reduction of £80,000 on the previous one; whereas the year before that showed not a reduction, but a very decided increase. With the increase of legislation upon these subjects it was also impossible to expect a reduction in the Civil Service Estimates, and all that could well be done was to check and moderate their growth. As to the Supplementary Estimates, he admitted that the Government must give sufficient reason when they came on for discussion not merely for each Vote, but for their not having been presented before. The increase to which his hon. Friend alluded was almost entirely in the first class; and, that being so, he was sure the hon. Gentleman would be the last man not to acknowledge that economy in the Estimates as a whole was being practised. The expenditure on Works and Buildings was, as he was aware, very great.
said, that all things that could be foreseen should be included in the original Estimates, and he believed that the only way to check the present system would be to reject the Supplementary Estimates in toto. There was a charge year after year for new furniture in the different Offices; as tables, chairs, and cabinets were not evanescent, the expenditure under that head required explanation.
said, he must complain of the continual increase of the Civil Service Estimates. They had increased by £5,000,000 within the last five years. Next Session he would give the House an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon the subject.
said, he would refer briefly to the history of the proceedings connected with the proposal for building the new Courts of Justice. The Act authorizing the erection of a new Palace of Justice on the north side of the Strand passed five years ago, and contemplated that the whole undertaking should be completed for a sum of £1,500,000. A Commission was appointed and satisfied themselves that £750,000 would be sufficient for the site and £750,000 more for the construction of the building. An arrangement was come to that instead of the Treasury preparing the plans a Commission should do so, and a Commission consisting of many persons eminent in the profession of the law, was appointed who employed an architect, who prepared plans,-and it was soon found that the land acquired was insufficient for the building. Next year another Act was passed, enabling a certain tax to be imposed upon the suitors, to enable the site to be enlarged, and in 1868 it was found that the cost of the buildings which had been planned would be £3,250,000. The late Board of Treasury sanctioned the acquiring of additional land for the enlarged design; but the present Board had to consider this matter in order to reduce the cost within reasonable limits, Last year it was shown to be unnecessary to spend such an enormous sum as £3,250,000, and this year, at the request of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had communicated with all the parties concerned in order to see whether the scheme could not be executed within the limits of the sum originally sanctioned by Parliament. As regarded the acquisition of land the limit had already been exceeded, the expenditure having amounted to upwards of £800,000; but nothing had been done in reference to the building. All attempts to improve the site failed, because he was not possessed of compulsory powers; but the efforts made to improve the building were successful, and ultimately a radical change was effected in the plan, by which Mr. Street was enabled to adjust the building to the ground. The Royal Commissioners had then to be consulted; they had arranged what departments might be accommodated within the block of buildings, and the architect felt satisfied that he would be able to mature his design so that provision should be made for bringing together all the offices which were immediately concerned in the administration of justice in the Superior Courts. The Royal Commission had not declared their final adoption of the plan of Mr. Street; but they had expressed their readiness to approve of it, and he had no reason to doubt that within a few days the Government would obtain that acquiescence by the Royal Commissioners which was required by law, and then they would be in a position to proceed with the building. The object of the present Vote was to provide the sum required to clear the ground and lay the foundation. This and the preparation of the working drawings and the tenders would take some time, so that as to the building money, an account would not be required before the commencement of the next financial year. He therefore hoped that the building would proceed under such conditions as to give a seasonable security that the prescribed sum would not be exceeded.
said, he was glad that at last they were about to commence a building for which there had been an agitation during more than 30 years. It was true that the Estimate for the land had been exceeded; but, considering that the land taken was in the centre of London, and recollecting the amount of the purchase money, the increase was not a large one. With respect to the plans, he believed that all the accommodation that would be required for the administration of justice would be provided in the building according to the revised plan. The contemplated fusion of the Courts of Law and Equity could not be carried out until the proposed accommodation had been supplied, and he therefore hoped that, when this work was commenced, it would be energetically and successfully prosecuted.
said, he wished to ask whether, by this Vote, the sanction of the House would be given to all the arrangements, including the approaches?
said, he was glad that they had at last obtained a block plan, although it differed materially from the one originally prepared by Mr. Street, and which might be seen in the Library, for the building now proposed approached much nearer to the Strand and to Carey Street than in the former design. If the present plan were carried out the building would not be seen to advantage, nor would the approaches be anything like sufficient for the accommodation of the public. Here, as had been the case around the Westminster Palace, what was wanted was space, from which the buildings could be viewed. The extra traffic which will be brought to the Strand, to Chancery Lane, and to Queen Street, Holborn, by the New Law Courts will be large, and ought to be provided for by additional approaches to the building. They ought to look not merely to the wants of the day, but to provide for future require- ments. It was often said that Temple Bar was a great obstruction to the traffic; but it was not in consequence of Temple Bar that a congestion of traffic took place, but in consequence of the large traffic passing in and out of Chancery Lane. What was wanted was space in front of the building for six carriages to pass abreast, and that was what the plan did not provide.
said, he must express his satisfaction at seeing that they were at last approaching the accomplishment of this great work. He did not on principle object to the compression of the plan. The competitive plans, with all their magnificence, might be described as inflated. He thought a building could be erected on the present site which would be sufficient for the Law Courts, and, at the same time, be an ornament to the metropolis, satisfying the most fastidious taste. As regarded the reserve of open ground in front of the building, he found that it varied from 30 feet to 80 feet between the line of the building and the Strand; the broader spaces lying between projections, which would afford ample shelter for carriages and loiterers. If it were found by experience that more room would be required for further buildings, the south side of the Strand could be rebuilt for the purpose, and the sooner that was done the better, whether more Law Courts were needed or not. The advisability of opening up the great arteries of London was agreed on by all; but the requirements of the public in respect of the Law Courts had been greatly exaggerated; and he did not believe the traffic in the Strand would be increased by them to any extraordinary extent.
said, in reply to the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Whitwell), he had to explain that the question of approaches was in no way connected with the Vote under discussion, which would bind the Committee only to the block plan.
said, he must complain of the great expense attending the purchase of this site. The vendor's costs amounted to £36,000; surveyor's charges, £8,000; legal expenses, £8,000; accountants' clerks, £3,000, and preliminary expenses, including the Royal Commission, £17,000.
said, he desired, on behalf of the Bar, to congratulate the Government on having at last matured a plan for the consolidation of the existing Law Courts; but he doubted whether sufficient accommodation had been provided for extra Appeal Courts in the event of the future consolidation of Law and Equity. He hoped the unappropriated space within the building would be devoted to that purpose.
said, he was of opinion, as a member of the Royal Commission, that the present block plan almost entirety disregarded the chief points to which the Commissioners had directed particular attention—namely, light, air, and the approaches to the buildings. But all their recommendations seemed to have been sot aside for the sake of economy, and £600,000 or £700,000 would be required 20 or 30 years hence to rectify the mistake. The central hall of the building was much inferior to that shown in the original plan, and would, in his opinion, be found inconveniently small.
said, he must deny that light and air had been sacrificed to economy. The fact was exactly the contrary; the Office of Works had rejected the plans sanctioned by the Royal Commission on the ground that they did not afford so much light and air as those which had been adopted in lieu of them.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
(5.) £64,000, to complete the sum for New Palace at Westminster, Acquisition of Land.
(6.) £13,000, to complete the sum for New Home and Colonial Offices.
said, that as these new offices were intended to form part of a very important block of buildings, he thought hon. Members ought to have the opportunity of inspecting the elevations, and forming a judgment upon them.
said, that the elevations of the building would be designed by Mr. Scott, the same architect who had built the other part of the block, and he would make it harmonize with the whole. No advantage would result from delaying the construction of the building for another year, simply to enable hon. Members to look at the elevations.
said, he accepted with gratitude the testimony which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ayrton) had borne to the honour and capacity of the profession of architects, and to the utter inefficiency of amateur meddlers.
Vote agreed to.
(7.) £37,250, to complete the sum for National Gallery Enlargement.
said, he wished to know what architect would be employed on this important work?
said, that Mr. Barry, who was appointed by the late Government, would be engaged, provided he subscribed the conditions of the work.
Vote agreed to.
(8.) £44,000, to complete the sum for Science and Art Department.
said, he wished to inquire as to the nature of this large work, and why the Vote had been increased since the Estimate was laid on the Table?
said, that the explanation was simple. The Vote was originally proposed without the knowledge of some facts which had subsequently transpired. It was found that a large amount of work had been already done by the contractor for which he had not been paid.
Vote agreed to.
£644, for the Monument to the Duke of Wellington.
said, that since this Vote had been proposed his attention had been called to this great national monument, and he had found it necessary to take steps to secure its completion. Those steps had involved the discontinuance of the services of the superintending architect, and the setting aside of the contract entered into with the sculptor. The Vote would have to be submitted in a different form next Session, and it was likely that the present Estimate of the sum required to complete the work would have to be greatly exceeded. Papers which he presented a few days ago, and which he thought would have been distributed by this time, would put hon. Members in possession of all the facts. In the meantime it was best that the Vote should be withdrawn.
Vote, by leave, withdrawn.
(9.) £5,513, Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens, Supplementary.
(10.) £7,000, Post Office and Inland Revenue, Works, &c, Supplementary.
explained that a large hall was required for the sorting of newspapers, under the arrangements that were shortly to come into operation.
Vote agreed to.
(11.) £28,500, Harbours, &c., under Board of Trade, Supplementary.
said, he must call attention to the expenditure upon the Alderney Breakwater. The original Estimate of £620,000 had been supplemented by £1,355,000, and now a further sum was asked for, and there was a note indicating that the Vote would not be sufficient to complete the works. He should like to know how much more money was likely to be required?
said, he could see no reason why the charge on account of that breakwater should not have been included in the original Estimates.
said, he had to explain that, as the breakwater sustained serious injury last winter, it was reported upon by Mr. Hawkshaw and Colonel Clarke, whose opinion was that it would yet take something like £250,000 to complete the breakwater, and then considerable expense would have to be incurred in fortifications to protect it. Further, they said that if the work was completed it was doubtful whether it would stand, because the foundation appeared to be overweighted; that there was also an idea that the breakwater stood on the brow of a hill, and there was considerable danger of its sliding down into the sea, and that it would require 18 months' observation of vertical sections to ascertain whether the work would stand or not. Before deciding either to abandon a work, on which so much money had been expended, or to incur considerable additional expenditure, the Government thought it well to subject the breakwater to the test recommended for 18 months. These were the facts which explained the delay that had occurred in submitting the Vote. The amount now asked for—something more than £10,000—on account of the harbour, was required for the completion of works with regard to which arrangements had been entered into with the contractor.
said, he had Session after Session objected to the continuation of these works, and he protested against any more money being expended on them. Of what use had the breakwater been? The idea that the fortifications and works at Alderney were to be regarded as a protection to England against Cherbourg was ridiculous; and if the breakwater slipped into the sea was it intended to fish it out again?
said, the suggestion made by Mr. Cobden 15 years ago, if adopted, would have been a great saving to this country—namely, that it would be better for Her Majesty's Government to purchase the fee simple of the island and blow it into the sea,
said, he hoped the House would be informed upon whose advice this enormous expenditure was originally incurred.
Vote agreed to.
said, he would beg to move that Progress be reported.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—( Mr. New-degate.)
said, there were only two or three more Votes to be taken.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
(12.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £6,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871, for the erection of a Natural History Museum."
said, the British Museum had long been suffering from repletion, and there were no means of exhibiting the valuable articles which, from time to time, were bought for the national collection. Five years ago the Trustees resolved in favour of separating the collections, and it had been determined to separate the Natural History Department from the Books and Antiquities. For the Natural History Collection the typical mode of exhibition had been decided on, and the building required must cover at least four acres. Even the present collection would pretty well fill a building of these dimensions, and provision must be made for further extension. The question was, where should this building be situated? It had been proposed to place the Museum on the Embankment between Charing Cross and Waterloo Bridge; but then it would be necessary to take land destined for public gardens; and, if even this were permitted, it would be also necessary to buy the land from the Metropolitan Board of Works, no doubt, at a high price. That proposal was, therefore, untenable. Then, it was suggested that there should be an addition to the British Museum. But land there sold for £50,000 an acre, and the expense of such a site would be quite out of the question. Another proposal was for placing the Museum between the Admiralty and the War Office; but sufficient land could not be obtained in that position. This being so, the thoughts of the Government naturally turned to Brompton. The Trustees of the Exhibition of 1851 sold to the Government 16½ acres of land at £7,000 an acre. It therefore cost £120,000; but if it now went into the market it would fetch £100,000 more. The sale was coupled with the condition that any buildings erected upon the land must be for purposes of science and art. For seven years the land had remained waste, a sort of Potters' field, and a scandal to that part of the metropolis. The Government now proposed to place on that piece of land the museum required for the natural history collection. It would occupy four acres; there would be room for wings, and the outside estimate for the building was £350,000, not an unreasonable price, considering its extent. For the present, however, the Government merely asked for a small Vote to enable them to clear the ground, and in order to take the opinion of the House. Railway communication had now made South Kensington easily accessible, and unless a more eligible, a more accessible, and a cheaper site could be suggested, he hoped the Committee would agree to the proposal. He might add that, if it were hereafter thought desirable to do so, there would be room enough on the same site for the Patent Museum, the necessity of which had been much insisted on.
said, he thought the separation of the Natural History Collection from the Library, the Staff, and the Antiquities of the British Museum a great misfortune; but, even if that had been necessary, another objection to the proposal was, that the Natural History Museum would not be in a central position. As to this special proposition, he had in his hand evidence given before a Committee last year condemnatory of it from Professor Owen, Professor Huxley, Sir Roderick Murchison, and Mr. Cole. At the same time, he admitted that the site proposed by the right hon. Gentleman had the advantage of expansiveness. If he saw a reasonable hope of postponing the question and obtaining a site nearer to the centre of Loudon, he would divide the Committee against the Vote; but he did not wish to go into the Lobby with only a small minority at his back. He regarded the present proposal as a mistake, for he thought the British Museum ought to have been fostered and developed as one united institution. It was clearly an anomaly, a mistake, and a blot upon our system that, after erecting the huge and expensive building in Bloomsbury, the various collections should be broken up, and some of them should be sent to a distant suburb of London. The site proposed would be inconvenient to the working classes, to whom, on the contrary, a museum on the Embankment would be accessible and welcome.
said, he wished, as one of the Trustees of the British Museum, to say that this proposal was against the wishes of the Trustees generally, and was opposed to the opinions of all the most eminent scientific men of the country. If this gross Brompton job were carried out it would be an enormous expense to the country, for everything would have to be provided in duplicate at Brompton. The working Trustees of the Museum had been swamped by the official Trustees. He deeply regretted that the property in the rear of the Museum belonging to the Trustees had not been utilized, as the leases fell in, for the enlargement of the building. He should certainly divide against the Vote.
said, the hon Gentleman was mistaken as to the views of scientific men, for three years ago a Memorial had been presented by him to the then Treasury, signed by the most conspicuous scientific men in the country, in favour of the separation, and expressing indifference as to the site chosen for the Natural History Collection.
said, he might add that of the working Trustees the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Spencer Walpole), and himself were in favour of separation. And Sir George Lewis was also of the same opinion.
said, the scientific men were then divided in opinion, for he know that many of them considered that it would be almost fatal to the real utility of the Natural History Collection to carry out such a scheme.
said, he wished to ask, when an examination was last made of the Natural History Collection, which was generally described as a lot of stuffed monkeys? He had heard that many of the specimens had never been seen for many years past, and the majority of them were quite unfit for removal. He wished to know whether that was so?
said, that point had been considered. All that was visible was movable, and he hoped the invisible would prove to be as movable as the visible.
said, that was no answer to his question. An economical Government would scarcely ask the House to build a museum for stuffed monkeys that turned out on examination to be nearly eaten away.
said, he must ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state more fully the opinions of the Museum authorities. Certainly, Professor Owen, Professor Huxley, Sir Roderick Murchison, and even Mr. Cole, although in the Kensington interest, had all formerly pronounced against so great a separation as would be involved in an emigration to South Kensington.
said, he had already stated the opinion of the working authorities of the Museum.
The Committee divided: — Ayes 96; Noes 34: Majority 62.
(13.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £851, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1871, for Superannuation and Retired Allowances to Persons formerly employed in the Public Service."
said, he had to explain that the Government had resolved to allot to the Foreign Office agents compensation to the extent of two-thirds of their net profits during their tenure of office as clerks in the Foreign Office. Their not profits amounted in the aggregate to £3,829 per annum. The two-thirds of that sum was £2,552. It was only fair to state to the Committee that the late Board of Treasury altogether declined to grant compensation to these gentlemen, and suggested a scheme of gradual abolition fnstead. The late Earl of Clarendon, however, looking to the character of the proposed arrangement and to the strong opposition manifested to the existing system in that House, came to the conclusion that Foreign Office agencies ought to be abolished not gradually but at once. The noble Earl announced his opinion on the subject to the present Board of Treasury, remarking that he did not think that, under such circumstances, compensation could in justice be refused. This system of agencies had existed in the Foreign Office almost from time immemorial, and as far back as the year 1785 a Commission appointed to examine into fees and emoluments of public offices recommended its discontinuance. The subject was considered by three Secretaries of State, and in 1795 the Privy Council arrived at the conclusion that the continuance of the system would not be productive of any inconvenience. As, therefore, the system had been accepted as part of the arrangements of the Foreign Office for the last 80 years, the Board of Treasury and his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had decided that as the offices were to be at once abolished, compensation ought to be granted to the gentlemen who held them. A third of the sum of £2,552 was being taken on the Estimate.
said, he must contend that the Foreign Office agencies were a system of levying black mail upon our Ministers and Consuls abroad. Mr. Layard had characterized the system as an abomination, and many other gentlemen of great official experience having condemned it, it was determined to abolish the agencies. The Committee ought not to regard the clerks in the Foreign Office as having any vested interests, as those gentlemen not only received ample salaries, but had no goodwill in the agencies; they had given no pecuniary consideration when they succeeded to them, and they would lose the profits of the agencies without any compensation on their being superannuated, or otherwise ceasing to be employed in the Foreign Office. The agencies were private speculations of the clerks, who became bankers and commission agents, and as the House had thought it right that they should cease to fulfil such functions the Committee ought not to be called upon to grant compensation.
said, the question was not whether the system of Foreign Office agencies ought to be abolished, but whether the Secretary to the Treasury was justified in asking for compensation to be given to those whose occupations had been abolished? He denied the assertion that the agents levied black mail, as it was optional on the part of any Consul to have an agent. Compensation was always given in analogous cases connected with the public Departments. The amount asked for in the present instance was very small, and he looked on the Vote as a cheap mode of getting rid of the agencies. The service regretted that the system had come to an end.
said, he must state, in justice to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Rylands), that his opinion on this subject was not changed. There was no real ground upon which compensation for the loss of the post of Foreign Office agent could be charged on the public funds, because such offices had never existed for the benefit of the public. It was proposed that the individuals to be compensated should only receive compensation so long as they remained Foreign Office clerks; but in that case no Foreign Office clerk entitled to the compensation would ever resign. It would have been far better to have offered a lump sum in lieu of a retiring allowance, and the measure of compensation ought to be the value of the business if disposed of to a private person. The opinion of the Foreign Office being in favour of the retention of these offices, why were they abolished? No action of the House had signified a desire for their abolition, although some observations might have been made by hon. Members. The right hon. Gentleman said Lord Clarendon thought them objectionable; but he was surprised to hear that, for a few weeks ago he had heard from that lamented statesman a contrary opinion. More than two years ago Lord Stanley, in accordance with a decision of the Board of Treasury, directed that no now business should be undertaken by Foreign Office agents. If that policy had been adopted in 1854, when Lord Clarendon first mooted the question, the whole system would now have been at at end; and, as a matter of equity, those agents who had taken new business within the last 16 years, had done so under notice. He was of opinion that the proper course would be to allow these agencies to die out.
said, that the sum and substance of the case was, that the House was called upon to compensate gentlemen whom they had not appointed and whom they had not displaced.
The Committee divided: — Ayes 70; Noes 52: Majority 18.
(14.) £8,450, to complete the sum for Learned Societies.
said, he thought that the sum should be placed under the control of the Board of Trade, who should be made responsible to the House for its administration, and that £200 should be placed at the disposal of the Meteorological Society of Scotland.
said, it was most desirable that the whole sum should be under the control of one central authority. He hoped that before next year the form of the Vote would be changed. It might be supposed that the expenses of the learned societies were paid out of the grant; but those expenses were entirely paid out of the subscriptions of members.
said, he wished to call attention to the Vote for the Royal Irish. Academy of Music. He thought it was too little to place the institution in a satisfactory position, and he should like to hear some explanation on the subject.
said, that the Irish Academy of Music had in the course of recent years received certain expectations of assistance from the Government of the day, and that their application had been renewed this year. In considering how to meet it, the Treasury came to the conclusion that the best method would be to offer them £70 for two scholarships at the English Academy in London; thus following the advice of Lord Kildare's Commission, which condemned the establishment of independent institutions in matters of science and art, and laid great stress on the advantages resulting from the widest competition among the students. The offer was made in that view; but a representation had lately come from the Academy that it would be practically useless to them, as they could not find students willing to reside in London, and it was thus for the Treasury to consider what further steps to take. It appeared to them that, considering how small the grant was to the English Academy, it was not worth while to insist on the principle of centralization; and, recognizing the usefulness of the Academy in supplying the musical needs of Ireland, although the standard of instruction might not be so high as in the case of the English Academy, they thought that £150 would be a fair proportion to give as a direct grant in aid of the expenses of the Institution. The Academy, how-ever, must not regard the grant as necessarily of a permanent character, as its continuance must depend on the good results they might be able to show.
Vote agreed to.
(15.) £221,172, to complete the sum for National Education in Ireland.
said, he would appeal to the Government to take into consideration the miserable rate of payment at present given to national schoolmasters in Ireland. There was no more respectable or meritorious body of men in Ireland, and members of all political opinions would be willing to join in this request. School-teachers in England were paid nearly three times as much as teachers in Ireland, 8,500 of whom received only the wages of ordinary labourers, about 1s. 8d. a day; and in two cases, to his knowledge, female teachers in Ireland, after 30 years' service, were now paupers in the workhouse.
hoped that action in the matter would not be deferred till the Government scheme of education for Ireland was matured. This class of schoolmasters numbered 10,000 persons, and their average wages were less than those of good artizans and policemen. Schoolmasters had in their hands the moulding of the opinions of the Irish rising generation, and it was of the first importance that they should be contented with their position.
said, that the question, however important, could not be treated as an isolated matter, but must be considered with the other questions which would have to be decided in connection with Irish Education by the Government, who had only just received the Report of the Royal Commissioners. His hon. Friends might be assured that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government would give the fullest attention to the case put before them, in the hope that they might be able to improve the condition of the national teachers of Ireland.
asked whether the poor Irish schoolmasters were to remain perhaps for two or three Sessions more without their grievance being redressed?
Vote agreed to.
Resolutions to be reported.
The Clerk Assistant, at the Table, informed the House, That Mr. Speaker was unable to resume the Chair this evening.
Whereupon Mr. Dodson, the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, took the Chair as Deputy Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.
Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
Glebe Loans (Ireland) Bill
( Mr. Chichester Fortescue, Mr. Stansfeld, Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland.)
Bill 222 Third Reading
Order for Third Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—( Mr. Chichester Fortescue.)
said, he thought it was unreasonable to proceed with the Bill at that hour of the night, particularly as it was the last stage, and they had not as yet had an opportunity given them for discussing it fully. He, therefore, begged to move the adjournment of the debate.
, in seconding the Motion, said, that on the previous night an exception was taken to the measure that it was one which approximated to concurrent endowment. Hearing that, he ventured to substitute for the phrase "concurrent endowment" that of "concurrent loan;" and he believed he should not be contradicted if he said that the loan was to be given upon terms much more favourable than those upon which it could be obtained in the open market. That was not denied: he should not be contradicted, therefore, when he declared that it was an advantage proposed to be conferred on the religious communities who would be entitled, to avail themselves of the provisions of the Bill. He did not wish to prejudge the Bill, or to discuss whether it was advisable to make these advances; but, advisable or not, as they might be, he ventured to say that had the Bill been introduced at an earlier period of the Session, it would have provoked considerable discussion, and a determined, and possibly a successful opposition. ["Divide!"] The sounds which issued from the Treasury Bench must convince his hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire that there was no hope of getting the Bill dispassionately considered then: he trusted, therefore, that his hon. Friend would persevere with his Motion. But, before sitting down, he would indulge in a prophecy; and he asked Gentlemen opposite to treasure up the few words he was going to address to them, bold as they might be. The Bill, he presumed, would pass; and, after the lapse of a few Sessions, when they came to deal with the surplus revenues of the Irish Church, what would happen was this—"Here we have another opportunity of benefiting the Irish people. Debts have been incurred by those struggling religious communities; and, if you surrender them, you will be conferring an inestimable boon upon the people of Ireland." Thereupon Gentlemen seated behind the Minister will get up in their places and say, that they are opposed to concurrent endowment; but, as the British taxpayer had been induced to outer into such a bad bargain, they will, for the purpose of assisting him out of it, propose that he shall receive back his money out of the revenues of the Irish Church. ["Oh, oh!"] When what he ventured to predict came to pass, he hoped the Gentlemen who cried "Oh!" would call to mind what he now said. He believed that the Bill was opposed to the general feeling of the country, and that it would not have been proceeded with had it been introduced at an early period of the Session. He urged his hon. Friend, therefore, to persist in his Motion.
Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—( Mr. Newdegate.)
The House divided:—Ayes 16; Noes 60: Majority 44.
moved the adjournment of the House.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—( Mr. James Lowther.)
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he wished to explain that the Bill originally included loans for the building of places of worship; but that that provision had been struck out, and the Bill now applied solely to residences for ministers of religion. He also contended that ample opportunity had been given for the consideration and discussion of the measure; for the second reading was taken at a Day Sitting at 2 o'clock; but the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire was absent.
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to my absence from the House on the second reading of the Bill; but that absence was perfectly unavoidable, and I certainly expected that an opportunity for discussion would have been given on the Motion for going into Committee; that, at all events, I should then have been permitted to say a few words on the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, however, made a most singular announcement with respect to the Bill. His right hon. Colleague the Chief Secretary for Ireland has explained that the Prime Minister declared last Session that a Bill of this sort was to be brought in; but why, I ask, did he not introduce it at the commencement of the present Session? Surely, if there were such a solemn pledge given, it should have been redeemed at the earliest moment. But, instead of doing that, the right hon. Gentleman stated that he was so perfectly aware that the Bill was adverse to the feelings of the country that, unless it were introduced late in the Session, it was impossible for it to pass; and in that statement the right hon. Gentleman was supported by the hon. Member for Cork and the hon. Member for Edinburgh. I must say, then, that I think this is singular treatment of a great subject. The right hon. Gentleman is aware that, whatever may have been the declaration of the Prime Minister, the Bill is in direct contradiction of the policy upon which he obtained the support of the country at the last General Election. I had given my support in debate to the right hon. Gentleman against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and the Government of the Earl of Derby, when they proposed the endowment of a Roman Catholic University. I spoke before the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and condemned the policy of establishing or endowing the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, especially when the Protestant Church should have been disestablished. Now, Sir, I say distinctly that, although this measure comes before the House in the form of a Loan Bill, it is the fulfilment of the proposal of Bishop Moriarty, which was—that with a view to the establishment of that Church—I have the passage in his letter by me—facilities should be afforded, and money supplied for the provision of globes for the Roman Catholic clergy. In a letter to the Roman Catholic clergy in Kerry, and then in communications to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Bishop Moriarty dictated those terms; and the only difference between those terms and the substance of this Bill is that the advance of money is to be by way of loan, and not, in the first instance, as a gift. Sir, Bishop Moriarty intimated that these conditions would be acceptable to the Roman Catholic hierarchy; and, as to the repayment of these loans, I do not believe in it: they are to be provided to an unlimited extent out of funds which Parliament has to vote for other purposes, amounting to more than £1,000,000 a year. There is, therefore, an ample fund to draw upon; and I say that the proposal is the accomplishment of that which Bishop Moriarty proposed; because every one of these glebes will be procured by the facilities which the Treasury will give. I distinctly and decidedly object to the substance of this Bill; but I will not go further into the matter at this time of night, after the House has virtually decided on a previous measure that it will not take contested business, for that is virtually the decision aimed at on the Enclosure Bill, and I will not damage the position which I hold by proposing the Motion of which I have given Notice, although, if any other hon. Member chooses to move it, I shall be happy to support it. I hold that the country has just reason to complain of the period at which the Bill has been introduced, of the substance of it, and of the manifest determination on the part of the Government not to afford more than one of those usual and fair opportunities for discussion, which the House has generally sufficient self-respect to insist upon and retain for itself under any circumstances.
Question put, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
The House divided:—Ayes 48; Noes 26: Majority 22.
Bill read the third time, and passed.
Ways And Means
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Resolved, That, towards making good the Supply granted to Her Majesty, the sum of £24,281,493 be granted out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Resolution to be reported To-morrow.
House adjourned at Three o'clock.