Page images


MR. MARSHI said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether an Act has been passed by the Legislature of New South Wales imposing a fine of £10 on every Chinese landed in the Colony, and an annual Poll Tax of £4 on every Chinese resident there, and enacting other penalties against them; whether Her Majesty has been advised to withhold Her consent from such Act; and whether he is aware that previous to the passing of this Act a Select Committee of the Legislative Council of New South Wales had, after examining witnesses, made a Report wholly and entirely acquitting the Chinese residing in the Colony of the charges and imputations which had been

Government has followed has been one which, far from intending to increase CHINESE IMMIGRANTS IN AUSTRALIA, armaments, has tended to keep them within moderate bounds. The policy has been, in the first place, one of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries. Can any one say that is an aggressive policy; or that, if we had proposed to interfere either on behalf of the sovereigns, or of the nations which deposed those sovereigns, we should not have been more likely to involve ourselves in war, or at all events in preparation for war, than we have been while carefully refusing to interfere in the concerns of those countries. The other principle which I have kept steadily in view is, that we should always encourage the independence of other countries; that it is for the advantage of Europe and for the advantage of the world that each independent nation should pre-made against them? serve its own state, its own privileges, and its own position. But that, again, is not a principle that tends to war; it is one that tends to peace, and to the preservation of the rights of every nation by other countries. I think the noble Earl who began the debate, and the noble Earl who spoke before me, have totally failed in showing that there is any danger in the present state of our finance. I believe that finance is in a sound condition, and even if you have no surplus, that it is not wise to impose taxes without necessity. With regard to the defence of the country, I believe that we have done no more than what is necessary; but at the same time I do not mean to say, that when it can be judiciously done, expenditure from time to time ought not to be reduced. Her Majesty's Government will be happy when the time comes that those reductions can be safely made, and after the defences of the country have been secured every opportunity for reduction will be eagerly embraced.

MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE said, that an Act such as that described by the hon. Member was passed by the Legislature of New South Wales a short time ago; it was assented to by the Governor, and had been left to its operation. With respect to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question, they had had no report at the Colonial Office of such a proceeding on the part of the Parliament of New South Wales. He might add that his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office was fully aware of the objectionable nature of this legislation under ordinary circumstances; but he was aware that an Act very similar had been in operation for many years in the neighbouring Colony of Victoria, that law having been enacted under the old constitution. IIe also knew that there was a strong feeling in New South Wales against increasing the number of Chinese males in Australia, there being scarcely any Chinese women in the country, and the Chinese in the Colony amounted to 21,000, or about onefourth of the adult male population. Un. der these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government would not advise the Crown to disallow the Act; but the Secretary of State had advised the Colonial Government to relax the stringency of the provision in cases where the Chinese immigrants were accompanied by their wives and families.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read 3 accordingly, and passed.
House adjourned at half-past Ten o'clock,
to Monday next, half-past
Eleven o'clock.

Friday, May 30, 1862.

and Victualling Stores.




"That at any time after the expiration of ten years from the passing of this Act the regulations of the Company with regard to the transmission of messages and the opening of streets shall be subject to a revision of Parliament; and Parliament shall then require and enforce the adoption and performance by the Companies of such modified or other regulations as aforesaid as shall be deemed necessary for the protection and convenience of the public."

wished to ask the President of the Board of Trade, Whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce any measure during the present Session for regulating the construction of lines of Electric Telegraph on public roads and lands adjoining thereto; and whether care has been taken to insert in all Private Bills having this object clauses rendering Electric Telegraph Companies liable to future general legislation?

SIR DE LACY EVANS said, that al

leave to submit was of limited scope, ap

MR. MILNER GIBSON replied, that though the Motion which he should beg with regard to the last part of the question plying only to one rank, it would be adof his hon. Friend, as to whether Compa-mitted to be of no inconsiderable importnies which had obtained Acts of Parliament to construct Electric Telegraphs would be subject to future legislation, he believed that none of the Acts contained such a clause; but some of them, he be lieved about one-half, had a clause which gave to Parliament a power of limited interference at the end of ten years. He had a copy of the clause, which stated

[blocks in formation]


Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


ance. It had, in fact, for its object to
adopt the principle of selection in the ap-
pointment to the command of regiments,
and that those selections should be made
upon the responsibility of the Commander-
in-Chief for the time being. When he
last had the honour of alluding to the
question of the sale and purchase of mili-
tary commissions, a declaration was made
by the late Lord Herbert to the effect that
Her Majesty's Government had already
determined on adopting, with as little de-
lay as practicable, the alteration actually
proposed in the present Motion.
promise was subsequently frequently re-
peated-but yet remained without result.
He had now by his Motion to invite the
noble Viscount at the head of the Govern-
ment to fulfil those promises. The illus-
trious Prince in command of the army,
though the great supporter of the pur-
chase system, had admitted in his evidence
that the efficiency of a regiment depended
"entirely" on the "efficiency and ability"
of its commanding officer, and that the post
of regimental commander was therefore
one of great importance. Her Majesty's
Book of Regulations for the Army, of
which every officer was bound to possess a
copy, contained no less than 138 para-
graphs emphatically specifying the pre-
eminently important duties of that appoint-
ment. The report of the Royal Commis-
sion appointed by Her Majesty to inquire
into the subject dwelt in like manner on
the very serious duties of that rank, and
stated truly that the efficiency or non-effi-
ciency of a regiment might affect decisively
the result of a great battle. The first
paragraph also of the Regulations alluded.
to was in the following words :-

"An officer intrusted with the command of a

regiment is invested with authority which renders him responsible to his Sovereign and his country for the maintenance of discipline, order, and a proper system of economy in his corps; he is to

exact from officers and men the most implicit obedience to regulations, and he is not only to enforce by commands, but to encourage by example the energetic discharge of duty and the steady endurance of the difficulties and privations which are inseparable from military service." How was that regimental command, admitted on all hands to be of such paramount consequence, at present appointed? By purchase, interest, or seniority. There was no regimental rank in the army from which there was so little guarantee required for competency to perform its duties. In fact, if an officer was next in succession, he was appointed almost as a matter of course to the command of the regiment. But that became still more seriously objectionable in consequence of the late regulation giving to lieutenant colonels, after the short interval of five years, the rank of Colonel, with eligibility to be selected for the command of brigades. These changes rendered the proposed reform, of course, additionally urgent. At page 24 of the Report of the Royal Commission was the following passage :

"If the purchase system interferes thus injuriously with the appointments to the command of regiments, it must indirectly affect all the higher ranks of the army. Whenever the responsible advisers of the Crown are obliged to prepare for the contingencies of war, and to recommend

Her Majesty to name a commander for her army in the field, they must necessarily select from among those who have obtained high rank in the army. The great majority of these officers, how ever, will have risen by purchase, obtaining their

rank, not from any acknowledged fitness, but from the current of promotion and the opportunities of buying advancement. This country will therefore commence the operations of war under a disadvantage, compared with foreign States, where all the officers in the higher grades will have been

subjected to several selections, and may there fore, if the power of selection has been honestly and wisely exercised, be all men of known efficiency and merit." What was the working of the system? A young officer no sooner joined his regiment than a series of inquiries or private bargainings were entered on with him as to the amount beyond the legal prices which he would be prepared to contribute towards the different promotions of the regiment. They had it on the candid and honourable evidence of one of the partners of a most eminent army agency firm that in several corps, but especially in the cavalry, double the legal prices, and often more than double, were usually given; and it appeared in the evidence of the Commander-in-Chief that officers who asked permission to make those purchases invariably concealed from the authorities their

intention of violating the law. It was
generally, and he thought correctly, as-
sumed that a pure and high sense of
honour were peculiarly requisite in the
army. But how was a high sense of truth
and honour reconcilable with the unseem-
ly proceedings imposed by Government
upon the officers. It was true that na-
tions which possessed sufficient power and
resources to carry on
wars for many
years would probably eventually obtain,
under any system, officers of high rank
competent to high responsibilities. But
such tardy and uncertain results would un-
avoidably be coupled with great and un-
necessary hazards, and often the worst of
all results
uence of all results the prolongation of wars.
The wars arising out of the French Revo-
lution extended to all parts of the world,
continued for not much less than a quarter
of a century, and gave varied opportu
nitics of experience to our troops; and
yet above a dozen years elapsed before a
general appeared in our ranks (Sir A.
Wellesley), who was justly recognised as
eminently qualified to maintain the inte
rests and glory of his country. But of
his victories there was one unlucky conse-
quence, namely, that they tended to an in-
ference that our military institutions re-
quired no revision. The despatches, how-
ever, of that great commander, written
not as the head of a great political party,
the position which he subsequently held,
proved that he considered his operations
very frequently injuriously affected by
professional deficiencies on the part of
those under his command. But, what-
ever might have been the case half a
century back, a considerable degree of
professional acquirement was becoming
from year to year additionally necessary,
and for which the possession of a large
sum of money must prove a very unreliable
substitute. Neither would the most exact
performance of the mere mechanical pa-
rade or field-day movements afford for such
qualifications any sufficient security. He
thought it would not be difficult to cite his-
torical proofs that the shortcomings of not
a few commanders raised to rank by these
venal means had, at different epochs, cost
our country millions of money, fearful loss of
lives, and other most regrettable consequen-
ces. Thus also it was that the commence-
ment of almost all our conflicts had been
usually marked by discomfiture and loss of
prestige. But there were fanatics of pro-
motion by money rather than merit. To
these he would say, "If this be an honour-

[ocr errors]


able and beneficial system, the Government (Lynn (Lord Stanley), Mr. Sidney Herbert, ought to introduce it into all other depart- Sir Harry Jones, and the hon. and gallant ments.' But there was no other public Member who has moved the present Resodepartment which would not feel dishonour-lution. The Report of the Commissioners ed by such a mode of advancement. At is very elaborate, and appended to it is the present time the corruption of the sys- evidence which shows that the question. tem was more extensive, rife, and flagrant was investigated with great care and imthan at any period during the last 200 partiality. The recommendation at which years. Formerly it was sometimes alleged they ultimately arrived is embodied in the by the defenders of the system, that if it present Resolution, and is to the effect involved corruption, it was only in the bar- that purchase in the army should continue, gains between officer and officer, and that but that the rank of lieutenant colonel the Government had no participation in it. should be subject no longer to purchase, But that could no longer be said, for the but should be bestowed by selection—that account of the Reserved Fund, laid on the is to say, that the lieutenant-colonel of a table of the House only two or three days regiment should be appointed by the selecsince, proved that the Government were tion of the Commander-in-Chief, without now carrying on a most extensive system any purchase. The Government, after conof barter in army commissions. His Mo- sidering the matter, determined to give tion was limited to the one rank of lieu- effect to the chief recommendation of the tenant colonels, and he would not there- Commission with regard to the rank of fore further trespass on the attention of the lieutenant colonel, and that decision was House. It appeared to him to be a self- communicated in 1860 to the House by evident proposition already more than once Mr. Sidney Herbert, the then Secretary at acquiesced in by the Government. Unless, War. Soon afterwards it became necessary then, the noble Lord the Prime Minister for him to consider the details of the suband the War Department had resolved that ject, with a view to carrying into effect the the proved scandals of purchase, by which decision which had been formed; but upon the officers of the army were blamelessly approaching the question more closely, he and involuntarily demoralized, should re- found that it was embarrassed with great main unabated, he hoped that his Motion difficulties of detail, and that it was neceswould be acceded to. sary to take into account, that owing to the amalgamation of the Indian with the British army, twelve new regimentsthree of cavalry and nine of infantrywould be created, in which commissions would be awarded, not by purchase, but as in the Engineers, by selection and seniority up to the rank of field-officer. There is in those twelve regiments. I understand no doubt that this system is to be retained that my predecessor in the office I now hold saw no immediate prospect of being able to act upon the decision which had been come to, and made a communication to that effect to His Royal Highness the Commander in Chief. In answer to a question put by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), my hon. Friend, who was then Under Secretary, stated in the IIouse that until the Government could have some experience of the working of the system of non-purchase in those twelve regiments, it was not intended to act upon the decision which had previously been announced. That is the state in which I found the question, and I will now give the reasons why, as at present advised, I do not think it expedient to depart from that revised decision of the Government,

Amendment proposed,

To leave out from the word "That " to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, no further postponement ought to take place in giving effect to the promises of Government, that the Command of Regiments should no longer be purchasable, and that the promotions to that rank should henceforth be regulated by selection upon the respon

sibility of the Commander in Chief," -instead thereof.

LORD STANLEY seconded the Motion. SIR GEORGE LEWIS: Sir, as my hon. and gallant Friend, owing to the state of his health, which we must all regret, was unable to make his remarks generally audible throughout the House, perhaps it will be convenient if I state the precise nature and grounds of the Motion. I shall, of course, endeavour to do so with perfect fairness. The House is doubtless aware that a Commission was issued some years ago to inquire into the system of purchase and sale of commissions in the army. That Commission was composed of the most eminent and competent Members, including, among others, the Duke of Somerset, the noble Lord the Member for King's Sir De Lacy Evans

SIR DE LACY EVANS was understood to intimate a doubt whether this estimate would meet with the sanction of Dr. Farr.

or to take any immediate steps for acting system have legally paid for their commisupon the recommendation of the Commissions would, if that system was suddenly sion. I wish the House to understand, altered, be entitled to compensation. The not that the question is at all finally con- estimate of the amounts required for comcluded, but that, as these twelve regiments pensation which I have had placed in my have not been formed, in point of experi- hand is for Cavalry, £1,335,290; for ence it remains practically where it stood the Guards, £610,110; for the Line, when my hon. Friend gave the answer to £5,180,630; total, £7,126,030. which I have referred, last Session. With the permission of the House, I will state briefly the reasons why I see great difficulty in acceding to the Motion of the hon. and gallant General. The subject to which he has limited his Resolution must be considered as part of the larger question, as to the expediency of entirely abolishing the system of purchase. It must be re garded as the first important step in that direction, and therefore the House would fall into a serious practical error if they thought that they could decide this question without exercising a material influence upon the decision of the larger one. In fact, the hon. and gallant General takes that view of the case, because, in apology for the limited scope of his Motion, he said, that at least it would be the commencement of the reformation of the general system, and he qualified his signature to the Report of the Commission in the following terms:—

"As a member of the Commission, he has the honour to state that he has deemed it a duty to sign the Report decided on by the Commissioners, because he fully concurs in the recommendations, as far as they go, which it contains. But, as the evidence adduced has strengthened the convictions which he previously held on the subject, and as he believes that some additional measures may with advantage to the public be adopted, having for their object a more early termination of the system of sale and purchase of commissions in the army than is provided for in this Report, he will feel it his duty to transmit, as soon as practicable, to the office of the Commission a representation of his humble opinions

to this effect."

It is therefore obvious that my hon. and gallant Friend considers the application of the principle of selection to appointment to the rank of lieutenant colonel only an instalment towards a general alteration of the system, and that on that account this more limited question has a very close connection with the more extended one. One difficulty in the way of the abo lition of the purchase system which meets us on the threshold, is the large amount which it would be necessary for the House to provide for compensation; because I apprehend that it will not be denied, that officers who under the existing

SIR GEORGE LEWIS: I cannot say whether Dr. Farr has been consulted upon this estimate, nor did I know that he was an authority upon military statistics. No doubt there will be many different estimates. I have given to the House that which I have obtained from the War Office, and which is certainly not a fanciful estimate. Confining ourselves, however, to the limited question which the hon. and gallant General has brought before the House, it would require about £494,290 to pay to 384 lieutenant colonels the difference between the value of a majority and that of a licutenant-colonelcy, if they received it at once. Taking it for granted that cach officer would, before selling, become entitled to the full value, £17,900 must be added, which would make the total £512,190. These are the most material parts of the financial view of the question. I merely state the facts, and leave the House to form its own judgment as to the conclusion which is to be drawn from them. Beyond this there are certain practical advantages, the possession of which by the system of purchase cannot be denied, howOne of the most prominent of these is the ever much it may be denounced in theory. youth of the officers. It will be universally admitted that a system of purchase clears away officers in the higher grades, and secures to our army, upon the whole, a younger, more efficient, and more active class of officers than can be obtained in any army in which seniority is the only rule of promotion. As to what the hon. and gallant General said with reference to a system of purchase giving a monopoly to the aristocratic class, it is rather difficult to find out what is meant by the aristocracy in this country; but if by "the aristocratic class he means the Members of the House of Lords and their relations, I apprehend that any one who turns over the pages of the Army List, and looks at the names of the officers, will see that there cannot be a greater mistake than to sup


« PreviousContinue »