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Volume 312: debated on Monday 14 March 1887

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Having thus examined the Estimates upon the assumption that our present establishment is maintained, it becomes necessary to consider, shortly, the reasons for the retention of that establishment.

The following table shows the force which we are now maintaining abroad and in the Colonies (excluding the Royal Engineers, who are separately treated):—

Cavalry regimentsArtillery batteries.Infantry battalions of the line.

The force in India is incapable of reduction, and it is hardly possible that any substantial diminution could take place in the force maintained in our Colonies. This leaves us with the following disposable force at home, according to the latest arrangements:—

Cavalry regimentsHousehold3
Vol. Light Horse, &c4
ArtilleryHorse (Batteries)8
Militia (brigades)35
Volunteers (corps)60
Infantry battalionsFoot Guards7

But, in estimating the military value of these battalions of Volunteers, it must be remembered that in the event of any prolonged anxiety it would be impossible to keep in the field the full strength of our Volunteer Army. A very largo deduction must be made for men who, being engaged in civil occupations, will necessarily be absent, except in cases of great emergency. On the other hand, the number of the Army Reserve is gradually growing towards the full number which is required to bring up our Army to its full fighting strength when necessary. At the present time it numbers about 47,000 men. Owing to the change in the term of colour service in 1881 2, there will be a decrease in the Reserve in 1888 of no less than 9,000, unless we can adopt other means for adding to it; but after that date it will again steadily increase under present conditions until it reaches 60,000 in 1894. The desire to utilize this disposable force to the fullest advantage has led to the adoption of various schemes of mobilization, of which I proceed to give a short account.