§ Lord Milton
, in the absence of some hon. friends of his, felt it his duty to impress upon the house the necessity of postponing the further proceedings on this bill till next Friday. There was a very general feeling entertained, that the question on the distilleries, which had the precedence for discussion, would have prevented the order, which referred to the Local Militia, from being moved, at least at so early an hour of the night. Under that impression, and knowing that it was the intention of some friends of his to submit certain amendments and clauses in the committee, he should certainly move the postponement of the order till next Friday.
pressed the house to proceed; and contended that there were future opportunities for those members, who were then unfortunately absent, to submit their opinions to the consideration of the house. Indeed, he did not expect a fuller 407 house on the Local Militia Bill than he then saw.
§ Mr. Windham
said, that notwithstanding the easy, self-satisfied way in which the noble lord expressed himself, he should have recollected that if the house was full, it was filled by gentlemen who came down to the discussion of another business, which had been positively fixed for that night. A measure stood for that night, on which a great deal of discussion was expected. Without any reason assigned, save an undefined assertion of convenience, it was postponed. The result was, that another measure, which was not expected to come on, was pressed before the house; and when causes were stated to postpone it, the noble lord replied, that the motion was unnecessary, because, after the details were gone through, there were other opportunities for the discussion of their merits. The question, however, turned upon this consideration, that by agreeing to the amendment moved by his noble friend, the only inconvenience which was likely to result was, that hon. members would have another day to attend their duty in that house, whereas if the house then proceeded, no future opportunity would be offered to them to state their objections.—The house then divided: Ayes 81; Noes 37. Majority 44.
On readmission into the gallery, we found the house in a committee, and in a discussion upon that clause, which determines the ages between which individuals are liable to the ballot.
§ Sir James Hall
thought that the period of eighteen was certainly the fittest time for young men to commence military service, and that every year after they became less and less fit. He was of opinion that if the ballot was confined to young men between eighteen and nineteen, a sufficient number would be found to answer the purposes required, without carrying the ballot to men of more advanced years. He thought the age of thirty-five much too far advanced.
admitted, that in some counties the principle of the hon. baronet might answer, and produce even more men than were wanted for the particular district, but in many others it would not at all produce the number required, and the age must be extended.
§ Sir James Montgomery
thought the range of years stated in the clause too extensive, as it would give a greater number of men than were required.
answered, that the numbers were calculated by the population of each county; and a narrower limitation would not give the number of men required.
§ Sir James Montgomery
observed, that last year's Militia Bill excepted numbers on the ground of being volunteers; but in this bill, every county was ordered to find its quota, without any regard to the number of its volunteers. Neither was any exception proposed on account of the number of a man's children, however great; and in this respect he thought that carrying the ballot so high as thirty-five years of age, would be extremely oppressive to numbers of poor men with large families depending on their industry. He therefore suggested an exception in favour of men having more than three children; and he also thought the hardship much greater on men after thirty than before; more especially a poor shop-keeper, or any man settled in life, of small capital, whose income did not exceed 100l. a year, who. must in this case be driven to the necessity of serving to the ruin of his business, or paying a fine equal to one-fifth of his income, besides his liability to the income tax, which was already intolerable.
Sir W. W. Wynne
thought that by making the term from eighteen to thirty, about one in five would be drawn for service in the county where he lived; but the clause as it stood would take two out of three of the male population.
said, that the committee, on considering the measure maturely, would find that it would on no account be so oppressive as seemed to be apprehended. To the working manufacturer who could earn six shillings a day, undoubtedly the service would be objectionable. But it would be no great oppression upon the head of a family to be obliged, during a period of four years, to devote one month in each to make himself serviceable to his country; and with respect to the burthen apprehended by parishes for allowances to the families of poor men during their absence on service, it was groundless, as such allowance was to be reimbursed by the paymaster-general. As a measure of national expence, he had now reason to believe it would not be nearly so expensive as he at first imagined, from the number of volunteers who were coming forward in every part of the country. It was only in counties where volunteers did not come forward in sufficient numbers. 409 that the ballot was to be adopted at all; and as to the alteration proposed, he had no objection to accede to this amendment, and substitute the, age of thirty, in the place of thirty-five, the service to commence from the age of eighteen, provided it was agreed to extend the period of volunteer service to forty years of age.—The proposition, was agreed to, and the amendment made accordingly.
§ Sir John Cox Hippisley
cabled the attention of the house to the operation this bill would have on those young men at Eton, Winchester, Westminster, and other places, who were educated with a view to holy orders. The resident members of universities were already exempted, and in the same spirit the exemption ought to be extended to persons of the description just mentioned. The fine, he understood, was to exempt only for two years, and persons who could not possibly enter into the militia might be liable to pay it three times in all. He also adverted to the situation in which young Roman Catholics would stand; especially such as were educated for holy orders. If they were liable to serve at all, of which there were doubts, they would be subject to the Mutiny Act and the articles of war, which commanded the marching to church, &c. Their situation was quite different from such of the Roman Catholics as enlisted voluntarily. He therefore moved an amendment, exempting young men engaged, bona fide, in education for holy orders in any seminary public or private, with the masters, &c.
did not object to the principle, but, if admitted, it would open a door to the most, enormous abuses, and the mischief which would thus result from allowing the exemptions would far overbalance any inconvenience that could arise from leaving the matter as it stood. With regard to young men educated for Roman Catholics, it was but fair, that they should at least contribute to the public service by fine, as the Quakers did, whose religious principles prevented their giving personal service. His lordship also observed, that the pressure here was much less than that of the regular militia service.
§ Mr. Windham
thought the amendment of the hon. baronet well worthy of serious consideration. But leaving that, he called the attention of the noble lord to the difference between this and other services, especially that proposed by the Training 410 bill, by which the people were not to be incorporated nor subjected to any inconvenience that could render exemptions almost in any case of much consequence. Yet the teachers of schools had been there exempted. And as to the regular militia, the expence of a substitute might be much greater than 10l. but the noble lord must recollect, that by insurance that was reduced to very little, and here no insurance was allowed against the fines, so that this bill must stand on its own merits, without reference to other services.
§ Mr. W. Smith
adverted to the exemptions which were allowed to dissenting clergymen, which, in this bill, was qualified by the words,' and not carrying on any other trade.' He admitted that many-frauds had been committed by persons who got exempted by pretending to be dissenting clergymen. But there was a numerous sect called Baptists, whose teachers had in many instances, so little salary, that they became booksellers or stationers, being, however, really clergymen. The operation of these words would be peculiarly hard on them, and he would propose an amendment to remedy this inconvenience on the Report.
objected, that nothing was more usual than for masons, bricklayers, and other handicraftmen, to setup for spiritual teachers, and hence a clause like that wished to be introduced, would most erroneously include these unworthy objects within its provision.
After a few words from lord H. Petty, sir J. C. Hippisley and Mr. Lee Keck, the amendment was negatived without a division.
§ Mr. Calcraft
adverted to the clause, refusing exemption to apprentices, and contended that this was most injurious to the young men themselves, as they would be taken from their employments, the knowledge of which they might not have sufficiently acquired, and fall into habits inconsistent with their occupations, while the masters would be most seriously injured in their property, the young men being taken from them at the age when they would be of most use to them. It was known that the permanent duty of the volunteers did much harm in this way.
observed, that as the master would probably not come within the age fixed by the bill, it would be no great hardship on him to have his apprentice called out, particularly as the twenty-eight days service was not intended to be 411 successive, and as the apprentice in no instance was to be permitted, during the continuance of his indentures, to enlist in the line.
§ Mr. Calcraft
persisted in taking the sense of the house.—After some further conversation, strangers were ordered to withdraw, but no division took place.
Mr. C. Wynne
adverted to the words in the same clause, that 'no poor man who has more than one child' should be exempted from this service, though exempt from the regular militia; and proposed, in order to make the thing more precise and intelligible, to leave out the words 'more than one child,' and substitute 'less than three children.' This was agreed to.
Stanhope and Mr. Vansittart objected to the scale of gradation in the imposition of fines.
observed upon the necessity of proportioning the fines to the conditions of the different orders of the community: those belonging to what may be called the smaller gentry, would be induced to serve by a fine that would be sufficient to compel persons of an inferior description.
§ Mr. Windham
ridiculed the idea of compelling the small gentry to live for 28 days the life of a common soldier, herding with the lowest dregs of society, by a penalty of 30l.
On the clause which states, that persons claiming exemption upon the payment of fines, are to swear that they have not insured themselves against such fines, or any part thereof, a long discussion took place. Mr. Windham, seeing that the committee was not likely to come to a determination speedily upon that point, the bill not being half gone through with, and it being then late in the night (about 12 o'clock), proposed that the debate should be adjourned, in order that gentlemen might come to the discussion with their faculties more alert than they could be supposed to be at that time; and that several gentlemen, who were absent, from an idea that the debate would not be brought forward that night, might have a fair understanding of the time of its being discussed. In this proposition, he was supported by lord Milton, sir G. Warrender, Mr. W. Wynne, and Mr. Tierney.
, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and some other members, urged the expediency of proceeding as far as possible that night. The gallery was then cleared for a division, but the 412 further discussion of the clause was postponed, and the committee proceeded to consider of some of the following clauses. It was fixed that volunteers may be enrolled between the ages of 18 and 40. The clause directing that the sum of 2 guineas should be paid to each volunteer, by the parish in which he is enrolled, gave rise to a very lengthened conversation; and, without coming to a determination on that point, the house resumed, the chairman reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again to-morrow.