§ Mr. Elliot
said, he was compelled by a sense of duty to object to this Bill, though he could not now hope to say any thing new upon it. When he recollected those who had on former occasions been associated with him in opposition to these expedients, it might well be supposed, that the subject presented him with no cheering reflections. It might be said, that he was hostile to the Militia Establishment altogether; and that his arguments against it ought to be taken with some grains of allowance. He never had been an enemy to the establishment, provided it were kept to its original numbers. He then proceeded to stale the grounds of his objections to this measure: to the increase of the numbers of the Militia, and to the Local Military Establishments which for some time past had formed so great an obstacle to the regular recruiting for the army. His late right hon. friend (Mr. Windham,) had taken a comprehensive view of the whole subject, and had formed an excellent plan for the recruiting of the army. That plan, unfortunately, had been overthrown before its most efficacious engines had even begun to operate. Still, its success, so far as it had gone, had exceeded his expectations and those of the great character who had formed the plan. It produced, for the first quarter, at the rate of 10,000 men a year; for the second, at the rate of 13,000 men a year; for the third, at the rate of 21,000 men a year; and for the 4th quarter, at the rate of 24,000 men a year. All this, by the ordinary recruiting at a reduced bounty. But the efficacy of such a measure must depend on the opinion of its permanency; and since the unfortunate interference with it, the regular recruiting hardly produced 665 a sufficient number of men to cover the waste of the army. The expence of Mr. Windham's plan had been urged as an objection: but, in the end, the present method would be far more expensive, considering the height to which the competition and complicated mode of recruiting must raise the bounty. If Mr. Windham's plan had been persevered in, they would! now have no occasion to resort to such a measure as this. It could not but disgust the Militia officers, who were converted into instruments for recruiting the regular army. To be sure, this was a case of emergency, and if the measure had been only temporary, he should perhaps have allowed it to pass without any thing further than a protest against the general principle: but it was held out as a permanent measure, and he must oppose it. The Militia officers ought to pause before they allowed their regiments to be turned into recruiting legions for the army: and every member ought to pause before he placed in the hands of ministers a power of perpetual balloting. The system could never be carried on without ballot; and thus they would be continually ringing the changes on bounty and ballot. With these few observations, which his sense of duty compelled him to make, he should leave the matter to the House.
§ Colonel Duckett
would have been very averse to this measure if he had understood it to be a permanent one. But he hoped it was not intended to make it perpetual. Necessity justified it at present; the same necessity which at times might justify the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. He expected that there would be no occasion, however, to have recourse to the ballot. After the late volunteering, the recruiting for the Militia had been very successful. He would support the Bill therefore, as a temporary measure.
referred the hon. gent. who spoke last to the Bill itself, to shew that it was intended to be a permanent measure. The Bill recited, that "whereas it was expedient to provide a permanent supply for the army, &c." and this quality of permanency was, in fact, the great objection to the measure. The Militia officers were to be converted into drill Serjeants, to provide 10,000 men annually for the army. With regard to the private men, it must be remembered that 240,000 in England were locked up by way of local-militia or volunteers. These might be enlisted; but then their places must be supplied. 666 The advantage to the army might be gained by recruiting. They recruited for the militia, and why not as well for the line? The present mode only tempted men to enter the militia first, and after remaining there for a few weeks, they enlisted into the line for the sake of the double bounty. He was glad that the ballot was to be avoided, if possible. But the misfortune was, that while the expectation of ballot was held out, men could hardly be got by recruiting: the expectation of high bounties for substitutes, induced those who were willing to enter the army to keep back till they could do so upon the most profitable terms for themselves.
§ Mr. Ellison
hoped it was not intended to render this a permanent measure. He had the strongest objections to the ballot and fines, which were a great local oppression, throwing that burthen on a few which ought to be borne by all. The men, however, must be had, and he was willing to allow this Bill to pass, in the expectation that there would be no occasion to have recourse to the ballot.
said, that he should propose a clause to declare that the ballot should not take place until the year 1813.
, adverting to what had been stated by a right hon gent. (Mr. Elliot) against the present Bill, was willing to allow that if it were possible to raise 24,000 men annually by, ordinary recruiting, it would be more advisable than to have recourse to a compound system. The measure of the late Mr. Windham, however, though favoured by peculiar circumstances, only produced in the first year of its operation 17,000 men.
repeated it had only produced 17,000. All the facts relative to this subject were submitted to the House by Mr. Windham and himself in 1807. It was to be remarked that at that period there were no less than 54 second battalions in the country so reduced, that it was doubted whether they could possibly be filled up; and an order was issued, that if each battalion did not raise 400 men, in all about 20,000 men, the battalions should be disbanded, and the officers would forfeit their rank. The recruiting parties were in consequence increased from 200 to 700. He dissected the number of men raise that year, and found that no fewer were raised in one half year than 8,000 men by these second battalions. Whatever influence the inducements held out by the late Mr. 667 Windham might have on a philosophic mind, he was convinced that they would not have much on the aggregate of the population, and he was therefore unwilling to forego the permanency of service for any theoretical probabilities. To that system, however, he allowed its full influence, except in changing it so far as to allow an option to limited or unlimited service: and since that time the recruiting had fallen to about nearly its ordinary numbers.—It had been said, why not raise men at once by ballot for the line? but to this it might be answered, that the militia gave habits which prepared men for entering into the line, and that it was the natural colour of the mind of man to prefer in the first instance the home service.—He thought it extremely probable that the militia supernumeraries, with the ordinary means of supply, might supersede the necessity of a ballot; and he thought it therefore proper that something of this sort should appear on the face of the Bill, to put an end to all speculation.
§ Mr. Whitbread
thought the noble lord who spoke last had dealt very unfairly by that great man whose eternal absence all must lament, very unfairly by the army, and very unfairly by the country. The system of recruiting for the army, during the last war and the present war, down to the period when the late Mr. Windham's plan was proposed, was a system of force and violence. That plan was said to be theoretical, and in practice inefficient. Luckily, however, for the country, it was carried into execution; and its success exceeded the most sanguine expectations of Mr. Windham himself. The fact could not be contradicted, that in the particular year alluded to, the recruiting for the army exceeded not Only what had either happened before or since, but was equal to the ordinary waste of the army in time of war, namely, to 19,000, while the whole number now proposed to be raised was 22,000. The noble lord was for reducing the number raised on Mr. Windham's plan to 17,000; but he contended that it was proved by Mr. Windham that the number was 19,000 and it fraction. The noble lord next wished to detract from its merits, by imputing this increase to a second operation; the number of second battalions in which the rank of the officers depended on their success in recruiting, and the number of recruiting parties. It bad only produced, said the 668 noble lord, without these additional incentives, 8,000 in six months. But the noble lord ought to have observed, that the measure was, as was predicted, progressive in its operation; and that the second quarter yielded an increase over the first; the third over the second; and the fourth over the third. The additional number of recruiting parties increased only the number of competitors; but did not increase the abundance of the market of recruits; That plan, however, was knocked on the head at once by the noble lord, who had deprived the country of it forever. They were now, in the present distressed state of the manufactures of the country, and when there was such a multitude of men in the market, obliged to make the present measure perpetual; a measure which let fall on the heads of a few that which ought to be spread over the whole country. The noble lord would not allow that men were inclined to go at once into the army. He wished one jump into the militia, and a second jump in to the regular army. The reasoning of the noble lord was here more childish than he could have expected. Why were men unwilling to jump at once into the regular army? Because they well knew, that by their double jump they would get a double bounty. This, however, came home to the argument of the late Mr. Windham, which, by leading men from step to step, and by increasing their remuneration at each, would have effectually kept up the numbers of the army, with out such a grievous burden to the country.—He then adverted to what had been said by Mr. Ellison, who, he said, had declared that he would vote for the Bill, while he hoped it would not be carried into effect. The best way surely to prevent its having effect would be to vote against it.—With respect to the ballot, he said it was a grievous burden on the country. He called on every gentleman who had any experience on the subject, to say if he had not met with numberless in stances of misery which wrong the heart, while there was no remedy? It was possible to bring forward such a number of instances of misery occasioned by the ballot, that he had no hesitation to say it was as grievous in its operation as any conscription that ever existed in the world. If there was a necessity, let the hand of the law be laid equally on all.
§ Mr. Ellison
said in explanation, that he should vote in favour of the present Bill merely as an experiment.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
said, the present measure shewed, in the strongest possible manner, the danger of having at any time recourse to extraordinary methods, as in a short time they came to make part of a general system. Ministers had only to say so many men were wanted for the regular army, and the measure would be recurred to of course. By such a measure, all the improvements in the army, which Mr. Windham's plan was calculated to produce, would never more be thought of. The first introduction of draughting from the militia was on the occasion of the expedition to the Helder, and it was then thought fit to accede to it from the extraordinary circumstances of the time. Who could then have supposed that it would have become a general system? All the objections which were then urged, of converting the militia officers into recruiting officers for the army, and of the insubordination it would occasion in the militia, were now got over. They were now never thought of. Nobody would ever think now of urging the necessities of the country in favour of the measure. His great objection to this measure was, that it put an end to all the benefit naturally to be expected from the plan of Mr. Windham, who had the art of infusing his own spirit into whatever he undertook. The present system was distressing and grinding in the highest degree on the lower orders.
Mr. Secretary Ryder
contended that it was necessary, in the present situation of the country, that the army should be kept up to its greatest and most efficient force. He wished, therefore, that gentlemen who opposed the present Bill would propose some substitute for it which would be equally effectual. At the same time he entertained no doubt, from past experience, that there would be no necessity for resorting to the ballot within the time mentioned by the hon. gentleman. It might be asked then, why not agree to the clause proposed to be introduced by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes)? He would tell them why. He was afraid the introduction of such a clause would induce persons disposed to enlist to suppose that the ballot would necessarily take place at the end of two years, and would prevent them from entering till then, when they might expect greater advantages to arise to them. As to the idea of discipline being destroyed by this measure, this was greatly exaggerated, and officers of the 670 first eminence had declared, that any regiment into which one-seventh of raw recruits had been introduced, could be in a state to meet the enemy within three weeks. As to the plan of enlisting for limited service having been abolished, the fact was not so, but an option was allowed of enlisting for limited or unlimited service, and not one fourth of those enlisted chose to avail themselves of the former, though the difference in bounty was only one guinea, being five guineas for limited and six guineas for unlimited service.
contended, that these constant leaps which the militia were made to take, were calculated to produce, and in fact had produced insubordination in the militia. It would be a great deal better to put an end to this species of force at once.
§ Colonel Wood
, supported the measure; and was of opinion that a seventh taken annually from the militia for the regular army might be supplied by beat of drum, and without resorting to the ballot. He had witnessed many volunteerings from the militia, and he never knew them interfere with the discipline of the militia regiments.
§ The Amendments were then agreed to.