Mr. Secretary Yorke
moved, that this bill be re-committed. The right hon. gent, proposed several verbal amendments, which were agreed to.—On the clause for allowing commanding officers of corps to discharge men for certain specified clauses, Mr. Secretary York proposed, that after these specifications these words should be added, "or for other good causes." The right hon. gent, observed, that this power of dismissal is only to belong to volunteer officers while in a disembodied state, but that when they shall be called into actual service, their commanders shall have only the same power which belongs to the colonels of regular regiments. He proposed that in case any volunteer shall be aggrieved by unjust dismissal, he shall have the power of appeal to his Majesty, with whom it shall rest, if sufficient grounds appear, to order a court of inquiry to be summoned on the case by the lord lieut. of the county in which the corps of the appellant may reside, and upon the result of such inquiry shall depend the confirmation or rejection of the dismissed volunteer; the lord lieut. to have the reinstating the man in his corps, if the judgment of the court of inquiry should be in favour, and also the power if he see fit to remove the officer, the latter subjected to his Majesty's approbation.
§ Mr. Fox
renewed his objection to this clause, as conferring too great a power upon the commanders of volunteer corps, by enabling them in effect to press men into the militia or army of reserve, for the most trifling cause. The idea of a vindictive court of inquiry, to be obtained by the means proposed, he considered as not at all a sufficient protection to the volunteers against the abuse of this extraordinary power. The dismissal ought, in his judgment, to be preceded rather than followed by a court of inquiry.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
argued that the power which the clause proposed to confer was great, but he contended that the court of inquiry, described by his right hon. friend, would be a sufficient check upon the exercise of that power.
thought that the amendment of "other good causes," rendered the specifications which preceded than altogether superfluous.
considered the mode of appeal proposed the best that offered. As to the principle of allowing commanding officers of volunteer corps, the power of discharging their men, the colonels of all the regiment in the army had a similar power, and it was essential to military discipline that such a power should be vested in them. If a volunteer commander should discharge a man without just reason, such man could have his redress.
§ Mr. Fox
begged to set the noble lord right. The colonels of regiments had not She power, of their own sole will, to discharge their men without any previous trial or court of inquiry; at least it was a power that was never known to be exercised. The clause before the Committee, therefore, proposed to confer a power on volunteer commanders far exceeding that possessed by any other description of officers. He argued that a volunteer commander should be obliged to state his reasons for discharging a man, or otherwise the mode of appeal proposed against the abuse of his power, would be quite impracticable. He ridiculed the idea of declining, from the pretext of humanity, to make it imperative on those commanders to state their reasons for dismissing any volunteer.
§ General Loftus
said, that in the course of his service he had never known an instance of a colonel of any regiment discharging a man from the service on his own authority solely, as the noble lord on the treasury bench asserted.
suggested that an appeal to the lord lieut. for a court of inquiry upon any discharge might be allowed, provided the discharge were for any other cause than those specified iii the clause, namely, for badness of character, for instance, which was a good ground for discharging a man, although it would be proper, in such a case, to oblige the commanding officer publicly to state as a reason. The mode of appeal supplied in the amendment of the right hon. gent, he considered nugatory and objectionable in principle.
Mr. Secretary Yorke
opposed it. He admitted that the power conferred by the clause would be great; but yet it was to be considered that this was a great power to supply the place of many other great powers. This power, however, he bagged to observe, 848 was not severe. It was exercised during the last war among the volunteers, although it now excited so much objection.
§ Mr. Grey
admitted that the power was not new, but yet it Was to be recollected that the consequence that would result from the exercise of that power was quite new, and might be productive of serious inconveniences to individuals.—After several other observations, the question was called for, and on a division there appeared,
Mr. Pitt's clause for levying a fine not exceeding the sum of 5s. on those who may be guilty of non-attendance or misbehaviour during the time of their corps being under arms, or 1s. penalty if the party be exempt from the payment of the poors' rates, was after some discussion, rejected without a division.
For the original clause 116 Against it 69—Majority 47.
Mr. Secretary Yorke
said that he had not any other clause to propose; he meant only to move that the report be now received pro forma; and he should afterwards move, that the bill be taken into farther consideration on Friday.—The House then resumed, the report was then brought up, ordered to be printed, and taken into further consideration on Friday next.