Skip to main content

Supply—Army Estimates

Volume 203: debated on Tuesday 2 August 1870

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

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 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.

Question put.

The Committee divided: — Ayes 161; Noes 5: Majority 156.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow;

Committee to sit again this day.