§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
SIR DE LACY EVANS moved that the Bill be read a second time that day three months. The hon. and gallant Member stated that the intention of the Bill no doubt was to place the national defences in a more satisfactory condition
than they were in at present; and that intention he did not wish to oppose. The late Government as well as the present had distinctly stated their opinion that some measure with this view should be adopted; but great authorities, both naval and military, had expressed opposite opinions oh the question; and it must therefore be conceded that the absolute necessity of a Bill like that before the House was at least involved in considerable uncertainty. At the same time he, for one, did not object to the object of the Bill; his objection father being that he did not think it was calculated to effect its own object. He confessed, however, that if they were to have any Bill at all, he should have preferred the Bill of the late Government to the present; and he greatly regretted that the present Government had not contented themselves with taking up the Bill of their predecessors. There was an important difference between the two measures. The former, instead of rewarding the volunteer with a bounty, allowed his volunteering to count for a year's service, and, in the second place, did not withdraw a man from his locality; while the present Bill obliged him to serve in any part of the Kingdom. Moreover, in the ballot as first proposed, allowance was made for the police and civil force, which, of course, greatly diminished the chances of being drawn. The former Bill also went to encourage the enrolment of volunteer corps; and he was quite at a loss to understand the cause of the decided discouragement which the present Government gave to such corps. He could see nothing in the present state of affairs likely to lead to a rapture of the existing peace, or to a dangerous alteration in the international relations of this Country and those of the Continent. The cost of the militia was estimated at 400,000l., while the statement originally made by the noble Lord at the head of the late Government was 200,000l.; but he (Sir De L. Evans) thought that they could place no reliance upon the sum of even 400,000l. being sufficient. Supposing that 50,000 men Were levied for the militia, 6l. per man would require a sum of 300,000l.; and was it probable that 100,000l. would defray the charge of clothing, arming, paying, and the machinery connected with the raising of the men? Dr. Adam Smith wrote thus:—
When a civilised nation depends for its defence Upon a militia, it is at all times exposed to be conquered by any barbarous nation which happens to be in its neighbourhood. It is only by means, therefore, bf a Standing army that the civi-
lisation of any country can be perpetuated or preserved for any considerable time.
He had stated that he was anxious not to oppose the augmentation of the defences of the country, and he thought he could suggest a mode of increasing the effective force without adding to the estimates. He thought that if we were to have a militia at all it should be of limited numbers, and thoroughly disciplined, so as to approximate in steadiness and efficiency as much as possible to the regular troops. The most practicable, most effective, and most economical means for placing our military armament at home on a satisfactory footing for defence, would be to concentrate at home the troops which were now worse than uselessly spread over our Colonies. As the late Secretary for the Colonies had recently suggested, make some arrangement by which the Colonies could be induced to organise local forces for their own defence. The hon. Gentleman had added his opinion that if our defences must be increased—
The question was whether it would not be bettor to make that increased provision by adding a small number of disciplined soldiers to the regular army, rather than by raising a large number of undisciplined troops, who, he believed, never could be made part of the organised and effective forces of the country. He believed it would be impossible to withdraw 80,000 men from the pursuits of trade without great derangement.
However this might be, it was certain that the withdrawal, more or less, of our troops from those foreign possessions and colonies where they were not needed, would furnish a most efficient augmentation of the military force for the home defence of the country. He would quote some authoritative opinions as to not merely the safety, but expediency, of such a withdrawal of superabundant troops from our Colonies. In a despatch to Lord Elgin, in March, 1851, Earl Grey said—
Canada (in common with the other British provinces in North America) now possesses in the most ample and complete manner in which it is possible that she should enjoy it, the advantage of self-government in all that relates to her internal affairs. It appears to Her Majesty's Government that this advantage ought to carry with it corresponding responsibilities, and that the time is now come when the people of Canada must be called upon to take upon themselves a larger share than they have hitherto done of expenses which are incurred on this account, and for their advantage. Of these expenses by far the heaviest charge which falls upon this country is that incurred for the military protection of the province. Looking to the rapid progress which Canada is now mailing in wealth and population, and to the prosperity which she at this moment enjoys, it is the conviction of Her Majesty's Government, that it is only
due to the people of this country that they should now be relieved from a large proportion of the charge which has hitherto been imposed upon them.
Governor Sir W. Colebrooke, writing from Barbadoes, August 1851, thus expressed himself:—
The expenditure of Great Britain in Barbaboes is proportionately larger than in the other islands, being the head-quarters of the entire command in the West Indies; and some reduction of the aggregate charge might be effected if the troops could be concentrated in Barbadoes and the other principal stations—a measure which would probably lead to the formation of an effective police and constabulary in the islands whence they were withdrawn.
Corfu, since the peace, had cost in new fortifications, ordnance buildings, and barracks, 456,000l.; of which the Ionians paid 307,000l., and Great Britain 148,000l. Whereas the report of the Committee stated—
According to Lord Grey's views, these works should never have been undertaken; one of the great objections to the fortifications which have been constructed towards the sea is, that they render other fortifications on the land side necessary also; otherwise it may be that we have only constructed fortifications against ourselves. If Corfu had been left undefended, it could never have been held against a great naval Power; but, as it is, being fortified, it imposes upon us, in the event of a war, the inconvenient necessity of maintaining a large garrison there.
With regard to the Ionian Islands, Sir C. Napier, who had been thirteen years there, stated before the Committee in 1834 on Colonial Expenditure, that he considered 1,000 men would be a sufficient peace establishment for all the Seven Islands. The North American and West Indian colonial service absorbed eighteen regiments of excellent troops, and eighteen companies of artillery, the expense of which amounted to no less than 1,150,000l. Look at the preposterous force we kept up in these dependencies: In Canada there were seven regiments of British infantry, including the Canadian Rifles, and seven companies of artillery; in Halifax, three regiments of infantry, and two companies of artillery; in New Brunswick, one regiment of infantry, and one company of artillery; in Newfoundland, one Royal Newfoundland company, and one company of artillery; 344. Total, North America, exclusive of Bermuda, eleven regiments of infantry, eleven companies of artillery, some engineers, and the Newfoundland company. In the West Indies there were five regiments of British infantry, throe West India regiments, and seven companies of artillery, making, with the eleven
in Canada and Halifax, &c. eighteen. Yet there was no occasion whatever, unless, indeed, for police services, for the presence of these large bodies of troops in these different localities. Upon a careful consideration of the whole subject, he had come to this estimate, that we had 1,000 men too many at Corfu, where a total of 2,000 should suffice; at St. Helena, 400 too many; in Australia, 1,500 too many; in our North American colonies, 6,000 too many; in the West Indies, 4,000 too many; in Ceylon, 500 too many; or, upon the whole, including 1,600 from the Cape, a force of 15,000 men, who were now uselessly engaged in the Colonies, weakening our defences at home, and involving a much larger expenditure in their cost than would be necessary were they stationed at home. He had no doubt that by the removal to the home territory of these troops a saving of from 200,000l. to 300,000l. per annum might be effected in the estimates for their maintenance. While thus suggesting his humble opinions as to the best means of providing for the internal defence of the country, he begged to be understood as not only not participating in, but even as repudiating, the alarmist views of our position which had been put forward by so many gentlemen, military and civil—views which occurred to him as not unlikely to operate, more or less, as invitations to invasion. The landing of a body of troops with artillery, material, &c., was no such easy matter, even after they had been got together on the coast ready for embarcation, in itself no easy business, as he could himself testify, having been engaged in the embarcation and disembarcation of troops in the four quarters of the world. He would illustrate the difficulties of the operation by some extracts from the Wellington Despatches. On August 1, 1808, Sir Arthur Wellesley, writing to Viscount Castlereagh, said—
I have this day commenced my disembarcation in the river of Mondego, because I am apprehensive that any further delay might tend to discourage the country, and because I shall experience greater facilities in making the arrangements for the movement and supply of the army when it shall be on shore than while it shall continue afloat. The landing is attended with some difficulties, even here, and would be quite impossible if we had not the cordial assistance of the country, &c.
This was followed by a memorandum, or order, for the Commissary General, requiring, in order to move forward with 10,000 men, to be levied in the country around—for bread, 170 carts and 130
mules; meat, 100 carts (also a further supply of carts); spirits, 37 carts; medicine chests, &c., two carts; spare muskets and ammunition, 250 mules; intrenching tools, thirty mules. 150 additional carts, and about 500 more mules were ordered to be bought: yet still, four days afterwards came the intimation—"Much distressed for want of about 150 mules." Again, on the 8th of August—
I have had the greatest difficulty in organising my commissariat. ….I shall be obliged to leave Spencer's guns behind for want of means of moving them; … and I should have been obliged to leave my own if it were not for the horses of the Irish commissariat. …. Let nobody ever prevail upon you to send a corps to any part of Europe without horses to draw their guns.
Again, Sir Arthur having moved forward on the 10th, considered that in doing so he was acting "in great haste," and at "great inconvenience to the army;" but he hastened his forward movement in order to save a depôt formed at Leiria. After consuming ten days in disembarking 12,000 men, about twenty days were occupied in reaching Vimiera, about sixty miles from the place of disembarcation, with all the advantages of a friendly population, of an auxiliary native force, and accompanied along the coast by a British squadron. He doubted very much the facilities, so called, which it was said existed for the organisation of a descent upon our shores. It would, he believed, despite all that had been said and written to the contrary, take a considerable number of days to transfer any considerable force from the Continent to our shores; and, supposing any such force landed in Kent or Sussex, it would take them ten days before they could reach the entrance to this town. To make such a descent it was indispensable that the force should be large, say 60,000 or 80,000 men. To embark such an army, with its baggage, horses, and artillery, was a different affair to so many men going aboard steamers with nought but their portmanteaus. Why, when the Duke of Wellington sailed for Portugal, his army of 12,000 men, which was but in the proportion of a division of the force he had described, was ten days in embarking, and three weeks from making port to arriving at the spot, sixty miles tip the country, where he fought his first engagement. The sudden arrival of a French army in this metropolis was then simply an impossibility. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said, that the whole regular force which we could bring to interpose between
such an army and the metropolis would be 25,000; and that, of course, all that such a handful could do would be to hold the enemy in check as much as possible, but to retreat before the advancing army and leave London to defend itself. Well, supposing that to be done, he did not think the taking of a city containing 2,000,000 inhabitants would be found such an easy task. Let them recollect what had happened lately at Rome, which had 200 times fewer inhabitants. When he recollected, also, the spirit recently evinced by the people of this country in arming and enrolling themselves, he could not but believe the taking of such an enormous city to be impossible. But he utterly denied that 25,000 only could be brought against an invading army. We were not so deplorably off for military defence as some writers and speakers seemed to imagine. Taking the Army Estimates for this year, he found that, of cavalry and infantry (exclusive of India), we had of officers, non-commissioned officers, and rank and file, in round numbers, 102,000 troops; of engineers and artillery, in round numbers, 15,500; being a total of the three arms of 117,000. Of these we had at home, infantry and cavalry, including officers and non-commissioned officers, 58,519; of the Ordnance corps, 9,300, being three-fifths of the whole force; total at home of the three arms, 67,800. The facilities of railway transit from Ireland and the most remote parts of this country, with the assistance of the electric telegraph, brought them all within a few days' distance. Probably in four days, or at most a week, that number of men might be collected to defend London. Then there were the Marines on shore—admirable troops—in number, 5,300, and who, in common with the Marines afloat, were trained to the use of cannon, the total representing 73,100 regular troops at home, besides the pensioners, of whom 12,000, out of the 16,000, were available on emergency; in all 85,000 troops. Of the Marine artillery there were four companies on shore, provided with, he believed, about twenty field guns; and it appeared from the evidence of General Sir H. Ross, the Adjutant General of the Royal Artillery, that there would be eighty field guns ready to take the field if additional horses were provided. Leaving, therefore, 12,000 military police in Ireland, more effective and competent for detached duties than 20,000 of the line, there were for the defence of the metropolis 85,000 men, and 100 guns fit for of-
fensive as well as defensive action—a force which, he ventured to say, would give a very good account of any army that could land in England. Those were independent of 4,000 pensioners, 13,000 yeomanry cavalry, 8,000 dockyard men, and 5,000 coast guards. He must regret then that Government had not waited for a new Parliament, to the decision of which he thought it most proper to refer this important question; and, believing that any addition to our defences of the description thus contemplated by the Government were unnecessary, and that, if additional defences were necessary, they would be much better, more efficiently and economically obtained by reducing our colonial army, he should move as an Amendment that the Bill be read that day three months.
§ MR. RICH
said, he had great pleasure in seconding the Amendment of the hon. and gallant General, who had, he thought, most effectually disposed of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the second reading of the Bill, that in the event of an enemy's landing we could not bring more than 25,000 men to bear against him. He could only account for that statement by concluding that the right hon. Gentleman had thrown Ireland entirely out of the question: but, considering the facilities of communication between the two countries, it was absurd to suppose that men in Ireland were not as available as any in England. It was upon these one-sided and incomplete statements that the alarm which pervaded the nation had been created. Upon the showing, however, of the right hon. Gentleman himself there was no particular urgency for this measure; and the noble Lord at the head of the Government had in another place alleged the very amicable state of our foreign relations, as affording the most fit opportunity for increasing our defences without creating in foreign countries feelings of alarm or jealousy. There was no immediate necessity, then, which could justify an expiring Parliament in imposing upon the country so large an expenditure, when the approaching dissolution afforded so appropriate an opportunity of testing public opinion upon the subject. In the absence of this urgency, the right hon. Gentleman alluded to hidden dangers from the smouldering embers of democracy, and, at the same time, with some inconsistency I dwelt on the large standing armies of the despotic Powers as a cause of alarm. With reference to these apprehensions 1043 of invasion, it should not be forgotten that foreign Powers required to maintain larger armies than our own, on account of the elements Of disturbance by which they were threatened internally; and owing to this circumstance he thought it highly improbable that any concentration of force could take place sufficient to Cause any material danger to this country. The democratic party Would give sufficient employment to all the autocratic force. But were the cause for alarm greater than it was, he should be inclined to rely upon that other arm of defence—the Navy—which had stood England in such good stead upon all emergencies. Some hon. Gentlemen conceived that the appliance of steam diminished the efficiency of that branch of our defence; but he should be inclined to think that the advantages of a dominant Navy would be much increased by it; and if the unwieldy flotilla of a foreign Power should be launched against England, he believed our sailors would give a very good account of it. But still, two successive Administrations having declared in the face of the country, and with the whole weight of their official responsibility, that our defences were insufficient, he felt that such assertions from such quarters might provoke a demonstration against this country which it would cost us more to Ward off than would be required to put those defences in a more efficient State. Under these circumstances he was prepared to examine the Bill now before the House. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to raise altogether 80,000 men. With what an amount of disturbance and discontent those men would be raised if the ballot should be bad recourse to, to any extent, he left the House to judge; but if the bounty system should prevail, What would be the class of men who would take advantage of it? We could not shut our Byes to the fact that we had among our population a large mass of unsettled, half-educated, and discontented persons, either Congregated in the towns, or spread over the rural districts, who having received little from society, conceived they owed it still less; it was from this class that the militiamen who might take the bounty would be chiefly derived. Riots and disturbances had occurred in this country, and he feared would always recur. Now, the people who took part in those riots were the very persons to whom Her Majesty's Ministers proposed to impart a military organisation, and who, thus having had 1044 instilled into them a sort of sentiment of military power, would be very apt to avail themselves of it When the opportunity presented itself. Meanwhile, the classes who were interested in the preservation of order, would be left as they now were, totally ignorant of military exercises. But if, on the other hand, the industrious poor were compelled by the ballot to join the ranks of the militia, they would lose not only their temporary wages, but their regular employment, which Would be filled up during their twenty-one days' absence at drill. They would thus be reduced from their humble but safe position in life, and be degraded to the condition and habits of the reckless class; while the conviction that they had been pressed down by this harsh operation of the law, would augment any feeling of discontent that they might previously have entertained. And should these men escape such ruin by the purchase of substitutes, the effect would be nearly to put an end to the operation of the bounty; for, as necessarily much more than the bounty would be obtained for acting as a substitute, it would follow that when the 30,000 additional men came to be enrolled in 1853; no men would volunteer for the bounty, knowing by experience that so much more could be obtained for a substitute. The demand for substitutes being thereby increased, the price would rise to an oppressive height. The Government would then be obliged to raise the bounty in order to obtain volunteers, and keep down the price of Substitutes; but this would have only a temporary effect, for the price of substitutes would also soon correspondingly rise. Recourse would then be had to the ballot, and it would, ere long, be employed with such stringency, and would inflict Such misery on so many classes, that the result would be that the Government would be forced to abandon its militia system altogether. The class, however, to which he had referred, and which he thought so objectionable as temporary militiamen, was the very class from which the Army was chiefly and most usefully recruited, for there a permanent occupation and discipline settled their habits, and they became some of our best soldiers. The militia bounty would, however, prevent their enlisting, for it was not likely they would accept a few shillings bounty for the Army, when they could get 5l. or 6l. for five years' service of only three weeks each year in the militia. But the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department fancied that he 1045 could provide against this by extending the age for volunteering in the militia beyond that at which recruits were received in the Army. Now, of all persons between 18 and 35, four-fifths are married, but by far the greatest number are between 25 and 35, so that probably the bulk of volunteers would be between the ages of 18 and 25, that is to say, the ages between which enlistment for the Army takes place. But if they got married men, what would be the effect of leaving their wives and families dependent on the rates, in case of calling out the militia in time of war? Serious, however, as these objections were, they might perhaps be submitted to, if, after all, the force to be raised should be an efficient force, capable of facing a well-disciplined army in the field. But he maintained that this was plainly impossible. He found that an army recruit when enlisted was put to drill for four months, during which time he was placed in barracks among other soldiers, and had the instructions of the most experienced drill sergeants and drill corporals to assist him in learning his duties. At the end of the four months' drill, another month's instruction was required before he was permitted to mount guard; and it ought to be remembered that when at length he did take his place as a regular soldier, he joined the ranks of old experienced soldiers, whose steadiness and discipline tended to correct his unsteadiness and want of discipline. But a militiaman had none of these advantages. He (Mr. Rich) would like to know where the Government expected to get drill sergeants to drill the 80,000 men they proposed to raise as a militia force. Had it even entered into their heads to inquire how many men a sergeant was capable of drilling? If it had, they must have found that the number was not very large; and, besides, they would find that it was no easy matter to collect more than 2,000 men capable of teaching drill; that, in fact, drilling, like all other teaching, required a peculiar tact. Then, again, it should be remembered that the ordinary soldier was, in general, from the very fact of his enlistment for years, disposed to learn, whereas the ballot or bounty militiamen could have no such inducement. It was; proposed that they should be required to attend drill for three weeks in the year only; for the other forty-nine weeks they would be endeavouring to earn their livelihood. The consequence would be, that during the three weeks' drill they would be thinking of how and where they should get 1046 employment, or what they were to do when their exercises were over. The yeomanry corps had been cited as a proof of what might be expected from a militia force; but the two cases were as different as it was possible to conceive. The yeomanry corps were a voluntary force, who took a pride in their exercises, and among the different regiments of which there was great emulation. Could this be expected of these ballot and bounty men? He repeated it would be found impossible to make the militia force efficient under the system proposed by the Government. They might rest assured that, as there was no royal road to mathematics, so there was no short cut to the acquisition of military qualifications. To make a good and efficient soldier, required time and patient instruction, long association with an experienced soldiery, the hard experiences of a field life, the march, the guard-room, and the barracks. But it must be especially considered that the service with which these militiamen would be entrusted, was the defence of everything nearest and dearest to us; and he asked whether it would not be worse than rash to commit such an inestimable charge to what, in a military sense, would be an undisciplined rabble? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) had referred to a fact which he cited as a proof of militia discipline. He said, that on reading Napier's History of the Peninsular War, he observed it stated that, out of 16,000 men engaged at the battle of Talavera, a very large part was drawn from the militia, and that they went into Spain so recently before the engagement that a great portion of them bore on their accoutrements their former numbers in connexion with the militia. But the fact was that these men, before proceeding to Spain, had had the discipline and had been doing all the duties of regular troops, with the exception only that they had been doing these duties in England. These troops had nothing but the bare name of militia in common with the unformed masses now proposed to be raised. Having thus pointed out what appeared to him the utter inefficiency of the measure proposed by Government, and having admitted that our defences might require to be improved, he was ready to make such suggestions as he thought would attain that result at a much less expense than would be incurred by the Government measure, and, at the same time, furnish an efficient, instead of an inefficient, supply of 1047 men. The gallant General (Sir De L. Evans) had pointed out how we might increase the number of our regular troops at home without adding to the amount of the Army. Whether that was a prudent plan or not, was a question upon which he (Mr. Rich) would not then enter; but he would at once say, that much as he objected to increasing the Army—strong as were the financial as well as constitutional objections to a large standing Army—he would infinitely prefer incurring all the risks of adopting such a course, in the event of any danger of a foreign attack, rather than support the plan which was embodied in the Bill now before the House. There was, however, no need of such an expensive force. Before resorting to that last expedient, it would be better to encourage the spirit of volunteering which appeared so strong in the heart of the country in the early part of the year, and by means of which all classes of the community might be brought to combine for the common defence; whereas the tendency of this Bill was to consign it to the reckless class to which he had referred, and to the territorial class from which the officers were to be taken. There was danger lest these two classes might, under certain circumstances, combine; and, indeed, he rather thought it was the policy of the present Government to encourage a dependence on, and a following of, the upper class by the very lowest classes. A good deal of derision was occasionally cast upon the yeomanry; a derision, however, in which he was by no means disposed to join. He thought the yeomanry corps contained the germ of a good system; but, at the same time, while he regarded the yeomanry arrangement as a good one, he thought it capable of considerable improvement, and that it might with advantage be combined with the spirit of the measure which was proposed by the noble Lord who was lately at the head of the Government. He did not see why the voluntary system, in combination with certain organisations, should not be extended to the great cities and towns of the empire, who might each have its volunteer corps under the management of its own municipality. There would thus be obtained a force which would be useful as an auxiliary, though no doubt unfit to cope hand to hand with regular troops. He did not see why volunteer rifle corps, and artillery corps, and divers other corps, might not be raised for the defence of those towns, under the sanction and encourage- 1048 ment of Government. He thought, also, that, following the suggestion of the hon. Member for Montrose, the police force, both urban and rural, might be made available for local defence by training the men to the use of firearms. It was well known that in the police force there were some thousands of old soldiers, who would of course be found particularly useful if such a plan were adopted. The Rural Policy Act was working advantageously over; about half England, and if it was rendered compulsory upon the rest of the counties to adopt its provisions, as he thought it now should, there would be a rural police force of at least 8,000 men. This, in combination with the Scotch police and that of London, and of the other towns throughout the empire, would amount to some; 16,000 intelligent and active men, who would be of the utmost use for local defensive operations. The artificers in the dockyards, to the amount of 10,000 men, had for many years been drilled and trained, so as to be always available for purposes of defence. In the same way, although the pensioners who were now enrolled, would not be capable of going through a long series of operations, yet they would be of the utmost use, in combination with our Army, in repelling a hostile descent. They at present consisted of about 63,000 men, of whom about 2,000 were in the Australasian and North American Colonies, where they had done good service. Of the remainder, about 32,000 were effete, being above 65 years of age; but there were 28,000 between 55 and 35 years of, age. Of these, 28,000 under 55 years of age, there were some 5,000 who were disabled by various causes; 2,000 more were-employed on railways and in certain situations of trust, from which it would be inconvenient to those who employed them, and hard to themselves, that they should be taken away. There remained somewhere about 19,000 who might be taken to be efficient soldiers; but 2,000 of these; were excused from the annual drills, yet were told off in battalions, and in the event of an emergency might be called out. Upon the whole, he reckoned there would be a pensioner force of the first class of some 18,500. But it was found that the, influx of men who retired after twenty-one years' service was greater than the efflux of pensioners who had passed the age of 55 Taking that into account, he calculated, that this pensioner force would amount, on the present system, by the end of next year, 1049 to some 20,000, the greater part of whom had probably been more under fire than one-half the regular Army, and it would probably be difficult to find a steadier body of men suitable to meet a sudden emergency. The noble Lord now at the head of the Ordnance (Viscount Hardinge) had rendered great services to his country in Spain, in Belgium, in India, in that and the other House of Parliament, and in the Cabinet; but he (Mr. Rich) thought, however brilliant those services had been, that the noble Lord had rendered no service likely to be of more permanent value than that by which he effected the progressive and permanent embodying of this reserve force of military pensioners. Those men might be called out, and ready for action, within 24 hours, and they could be conveyed by the railway, fresh, hearty, and ready for immediate service, to within a few miles of the spot where they might be required to act. This force might, moreover, be very largely increased. He believed that of the number of men who retired annually from the Army without having completed 15 years' service, after allowing for those who retired in consequence of wounds, or under circumstances which rendered them unfit for active duty, there would remain about 1,200 who settled in this country, and who would be willing to join the pensioners' battalions. Taking this as the annual supply, he might calculate that during the last 12 years some 14,000 men had retired from the service, who would be ready and anxious to join the pensioner battalions upon the promise of a small deferred pension. There was another source from which a much larger and continuous supply might be drawn. The noble Lord (Mr. Fox Maule, Lord Panmure) who lately presided at the War Office, where he believed he had the character of being one of the best Secretaries who ever held the office, introduced in 1847 a Bill, limiting the service of soldiers to 10 years, but giving them the option, at the end of the 10 years, of re-enlisting for a further period of 11 years, with the capacity of becoming entitled to pensions at the expiration of such service. The noble Lord included in this measure a clause by which the men who re-enlisted should have the option, when they had completed four or five years of their renewed service, of either continuing their unexpired time in the regular Army, or of serving for double that time in the pensioners' battalion, on the understanding that their pensions should go on gradually increasing 1050 until they reached the amount they would have received after twenty-one years' active service. That clause was, he regretted to say, withdrawn; for he believed that, had it been adopted, a great number of the men now enlisted for ten years would have worked out their service in the reserved force. It was, however, competent for the Government to obtain authority by which those men might be yet retained by pensions on completing the term of service in the way contemplated by the noble Lord the late Secretary at War. By such means 10,000 or 12,000 additional first-class pensioners might be easily obtained. He thought he had thus shown that it would not be difficult to establish a large combined force of regulars and of pensioners of not less than 80,000 or 90,000 men, who, in case of danger, might be disposed by the Commander-in-Chief in such positions with regard to the railroads and coasts that they might mutually support each other, and might be brought to bear upon any point where an attack was expected. They had a constabulary force of 14,000 men in Ireland; 16,000 policemen in this country might be armed, and trained to the use of arms, under the regulations he proposed; they had 10,000 men in the dockyard battalions, and 13,000 of the old or second-class pensioners, who, though unfit for field operations, might be stationed in defence of towns and forts. They would, from these sources, hare a garrison force of 50,000 men, of whom three-fourths would be young, able, and active. In addition, they might have an auxiliary force, either increased according to the present yeomanry system, or under the volunteer system lately proposed. Thus then they might, without recurring to this militia, easily augment their military defences to an armed force of some 200,000 men. The expense of the additional pensioners, according to estimates he had made, would not exceed 50,000l. a year, and the cost of enrolling and training the constabulary and rural police would be about 30,000l. The expense of the volunteers or organised local corps would of course depend upon their numbers; but these men, unlike the militiamen, would serve without bounties. Thus much, then, for our defences. His object had been to bring before the House for discussion two principles. First, that a man taken from the plough or the loom, temporarily removed from his ordinary avocations, 1051 and having no disposition of inclination in to be a soldier, and who was subjected for some short three weeks in a year to military discipline, could never become an efficient soldier. He was convinced that they never would be able to form such men into battalions fit to encounter an enemy. His second principle was, that a soldier, once a perfect soldier, might easily be continued so, even in the midst of civil life, by short occasional military exercises. If these principles were true, the present Militia Bill fell utterly to the ground, as a means of defence against sudden aggression. A disciplined army could be encountered effectually only by a disciplined army. He thought the force of 200,000 men, which he believed might be readily embodied in the manner he had suggested, would prove to foreign Powers that this country was amply capable of providing for its own defence. He could only say that, if we were to have a war, he hoped never again to hear of balloting for the militia, or of pressgangs for the Navy. The proposal by his right hon. Friend lately at the head of the Admiralty to raise a reserve of 5,000 seamen was a step in the right direction for the Navy; and Lord Hardinge had prepared the way for like further military arrangements by his organisation of the pensioner force. It was by a system of the accumulation of large reserves that the cheapest, and, if the expression might be used, the most peaceful means of defence, were to be found; and this system had the further recommendation that within dwelt also the germ of a more humane and remunerative treatment of our soldiers and seamen. It would raise them, not only in their own estimation, but in that of their fellow-subjects, to feel that the country looked to them in the hour of danger, and that even in retirement they were not cast aside, but were still regarded and rewarded as its honoured defenders. For it is in the honoured recognition and moderate remuneration of services that essentially resides "the cheap defence of nations." For the reasons he had given, under the qualifications and with the views he had stated, he (Mr. Rich) found himself under the necessity of opposing this Bill, and supporting the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1052
§ SIR JOHN WALSH
said, he must congratulate the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken on the prodigious relief he must have experienced by the dissolution of the late Government, as that otherwise unhappy circumstance had relieved him from the painful necessity of being obliged to support a proposition to which, though brought forward by the Government with which he was connected, he was at heart opposed; for it appeared to him (Sir J. Walsh) that the very long and copious objections urged by the hon. Member would have applied with as much propriety to the Bill of the late Government, of which he was a member, as to the present measure. The whole of the hon. Gentleman's objections might be said to be comprised in this one—that any militia embodied for a short period was an inefficient and objectionable force. The great difference between the present Bill and that of the former Government is, that in the present instance there is an alternative given to parties to volunteer; and only in case of the number offering being insufficient was the ballot to be resorted to; both measures, however, contemplated a militia embodied for a short period as the nucleus of a force to be called upon in case of necessity. The description of force suggested by the hon. Gentleman would be of course much more valuable; for if they could secure 80,000 men, fully armed, accoutred, disciplined, drilled, and officered by Her Majesty's Army, of course such a force in the nature of things must be more efficient than they could hope this militia would prove. But they must consider what was possible and practicable in the existing state of things. He was quite certain that the House would never consent to so expensive a proceeding as a large increase of the regular Army. The hon. Member had shadowed forth many of the sources from which a regular and disciplined force might be obtained. But all such measures would involve a considerable period of time; whereas the necessity for the force proposed was, that it must be organised immediately. The principle of a militia, as he understood, had been conceded from all sides of the House at an early period of the Session. When the proposition was made by the noble Lord lately at the head of the Government, the principle was advocated by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), and was supported by those who now sat upon the Opposition benches. But now it appears that an opposition was 1053 being organised against that very principle which before had scarce a single opponent in the House. There were two grounds of opposition to the measure. There were those who denied the necessity of increasing our national defences at all—who thought that the probability of danger was merely chimerical—who thought that the world was so changed of late that there was no longer any fear of the recurrence of that which had prevailed from the beginning of the world. The other class was that to which the hon. Member who had just spoken belonged, who quarrelled with the mode of raising these additional men, and said that the proper mode had not been adopted for strengthening our national defences. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment made use of one argument which appeared to him (Sir J. Walsh) to be somewhat fallacious. In referring to certain of the Colonies, he said that there were about 17,000 or 18,000 men doing garrison duty in the Colonies, and that a great expenditure was incurred for useless services. [Sir DE L. EVANS: I did not say in the Colonies generally, but in the North American find West Indian Colonies.] Well, the hon. and gallant Gentleman admitted that in two colonies our troops were unnecessary. Of course the presence of troops at the colonies or at home was always useless in times of peace; but if war broke out they would require the services of these troops immediately. They would be wanted for the defence of those colonies, unless we were prepared to surrender them at the first breaking out of hostilities. There was a class of Members in this House who upheld the monstrous, he had almost said absurd, doctrine that the danger of war no longer existed in the world. He was astonished that they could attempt to broach so monstrous a doctrine in the face of the experience of the last six thousand years, and especially of the events in Europe during the last six years. The wars of the French Revolution bequeathed to Continental Europe two great legacies—the institution of the conscription and the institution of the national guard; and the consequence of that had been that the whole of the nations of the Continent were more military, and that a more thorough organisation existed amongst them at this moment than had ever been known before. Why, the thirty years' peace, which had been so much talked about, resembled an armed truce rather 1054 than a state of permanent peace. In fact, all Europe was bristling with bayonets; and we had no security from a contingency arising at any moment that would bring them into use. True, for a considerable period there had been an intermission of war; but it was quite evident that during that time principles were agitating society which, sooner or later, must lead to convulsions that would necessitate the use of that force. Talk of peace! Talk of the fear of war having entirely vanished from the face of the globe! Why, look at the Continent. All Continental Europe during the last four or five years had been involved in war. In Lombardy, in Denmark, and in the streets of Paris, of Vienna, and of Berlin, there had been constant fightings. Blood had flowed like water. In short, there had never been a period in which the peace of Europe had been more disturbed than in the course of the last few years. And in what had it resulted? In the triumph of military force and military science against democratic violence and anarchy. And now they had throughout the countries that had been thus been thus convulsed, vast armies, which the rulers could not venture to disband, and which at any moment, and in any contingency, might be turned against this country. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had the happiest knack of putting on the semblance of common sense. His "eloquence" was so "unadorned"—what he said was so plain, so direct, and so easily to be understood, that one was always tempted to fancy it must be the most obvious and sensible thing in the world; and he remembered that, three or four years ago, the hon. Gentleman made a lucid statement in that House in support of peace principles; but to him (Sir J. Walsh) it appeared that that very statement went exactly to establish what it was the hon. Gentleman's object to disprove—namely, that there was a necessity for this country always to hold itself more or less prepared for war. The hon. Gentleman went through a brief history of England and our foreign relations during the preceding ten or twelve years, and he showed very distinctly that there had been not less than nine or ten different occasions in that short period, in the midst of a profound peace, too, when we were on the threshold of some dangerous war. With respect to our relations with Russia, he mentioned the case of the Vixen, and one or two other cases. As to France, he referred to the affairs of Egypt and Me- 1055 hemet Ali, the question of Tahiti and Mr. Pritchard, and the dispute upon the subject of the Spanish marriages. He also spoke of the United States of America, with which we had had disputes which were very difficult of adjustment—as, for instance, the Maine and the Oregon boundary questions, the destruction of the Caroline at the Falls of Niagara, and the imprisonment of M'Leod. All these cases the hon. Gentleman then mentioned in his speech; and since that period there were two or three others which might be added to the catalogue. One of these was the question which arose upon the attempt of Austria and Russia to compel Turkey to deliver up the Hungarian refugees. At that time we had a fleet at the Dardanelles, and might be said to have been upon the eve of a war with Russia. Subsequently to that occurrence, too, M. Drouyn de l'Huys, the French Ambassador, quitted this metropolis, and a difficulty arose with the Government of France upon the question of the arbitration of the French Government in our dispute with Greece relative to Don Pacifico's claims. Looking, then, at the speech of the hon. Gentleman, and the occurrences which had since taken place, he (Sir J. Walsh) must say that he arrived at a totally different conclusion from that of the hon. Gentleman; that our relations were so complicated, and we might be involved upon such a variety of questions with our neighbours, that we could never consider ourselves to be altogether safe from the danger of war; and that at any time when we were least desirous of, and least prepared for war, some of these quarrels and disputes might spring up, and involve us in the necessity of a contest for the defence of our honour or our interests. The very fact of our being prepared, and having a certain military force at our disposal, enabled us more to carry negotiations to a pacific conclusion and result; and he believed that on very many occasions if we had been defenceless we should have been obliged to give up the points in dispute, or been precipitated into a war from which we should have had no means of protecting ourselves. Nolens volens, during the last ten years we had been perpetually engaged in disputes with foreign Powers. Was there anything in the present aspect of Europe to make us believe that the danger had altogether passed? Was there anything in the state of the Continent at this moment so much more peaceful, settled, and tran- 1056 quil than for the last ten or twelve years, that we could afford to lay down our arms under the impression that the necessity which existed then existed no longer? He (Sir J. Walsh) would be exceedingly reluctant to offend the susceptibilities of any foreign nation. He did not wish, he did not think it necessary, to do so. He was one of those who had considerable confidence in the friendly feelings which at present existed, for example, in the breast of the ruler of France towards this country. He did not believe that the Prince President had any present desire whatever to engage in a war with this country. He did not believe that he meditated—he did not believe that he intended it. But he could not help saying that he saw in that ruler a very energetic character. He saw in him very great ability. He saw in him very great power of carrying out his own objects with dexterity and wisdom. He also saw that, in having a large unemployed army under his control, there must be at any rate great temptations to use that power. And of this he was sure, that if the President of France were to hold up his finger, and were to engage in any quarrel with England, he would be backed by the whole force and spirit and will of the French nation. That of itself was, he thought, a reason why we should at the present moment do something towards the improvement of our national defences. He did not say that a necessity existed now which had not existed before. On the contrary, he said that the necessity had existed for the last ten years: that we had been running very great risk all that time, and that we had been wrong in not taking some preventive measures earlier. When it was perfectly well known that with respect to the Pritchard case, France was on the point of declaring war against us, at a time when our dockyards and national establishments were altogether unprotected—when it was perfectly well known that the French actually brought their steamboats together with the view of making a descent upon our coasts—when all these things were known, he maintained that it was perfectly inexcusable on the part of our Government not then to have adopted such a precautionary measure as the present, which he believed was forced upon them by the public opinion of the nation. The question of improving our national defences he considered to be determined, not only by the almost unanimous opinion expressed by 1057 this House at an early period of the Session, but also by the almost unanimous voice of opinion out of doors. He believed that hon. Gentlemen opposite were never more mistaken than when they supposed that they could get up a popular agitation against the measure by a peace cry. Their sincerity, of course, it was not for him to call in question; but he thought they would find themselves wholly mistaken if they supposed that the people of England would follow them in their wild and untenable course, or that the common sense of the country, which they were so fond of invoking, would bear them out in the conclusions to which they wished the public to come. And now, as to the details of the Bill under the consideration of the House, he did not mean to say that they were the best that human ingenuity could devise; however, he thought that this Bill was in many points preferable to that which was submitted to their consideration at an earlier period of the Session. He certainly thought that it was desirable that they should, in the first instance, open the door to volunteer assistance before they had recourse to that obnoxious proposition, the ballot. It might be possible, that, in the end, they would have to resort to the ballot, for the volunteers might be found to be too few in number. Still there could be no objection to trying that system in the first instance; at all events, they could not be worse off than with the measure of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), which began with the ballot, and left no door open to the volunteer system. It must be recollected that this force, which hon. Gentlemen decried as entirely useless, would be commanded by officers of the regular Army, and would be disciplined by men engaged in the Army, so that the "raw material" might, in the space of a short time, be made as valuable a force as any such force possibly could be. If the material were good, he believed it might be made available for the defence of the country far more easily than the hon. Gentleman who spoke last seemed to imagine. That hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose that this force would he driven away at the very first appearance of a French disciplined force, who would demolish them. Now, he thought that the hon. Gentleman totally underrated the spirit and military capabilities of those ploughmen and labourers, whom he had described to be unfit for military purposes. It seemed to him (Sir J. Walsh) that these 1058 men were the matériel of the best armies that ever existed. After a drill of twenty-one days, by officers regularly employed in Her Majesty's service, they would have a good knowledge of military duties, and, with the prospect of an invasion, they would, in a very short time, become most available for the purpose of national defence. And these people would be abstracted from their ordinary occupation for but a very short time, in order to undergo drilling. He totally disbelieved that this measure would prove to be so unpopular as hon. Gentlemen opposite had represented. In fact, these hon. Gentlemen talked as if they wished that the measure might be supposed by the country to be as objectionable as they had represented it. He doubted whether men could be much demoralised by having to undergo a drilling of twenty-one days. It appeared to him that all the arguments which had been advanced against the measure were of a very trivial character. He believed that, in that part of the country in which he resided, this measure would prove to be popular rather than otherwise. He believed that the country would look upon twenty-one days' drilling rather as a pleasant than as a painful exercise. He did not believe in the millennium preached by hon. Gentlemen opposite, whose doctrines, if carried out, must emasculate the character of this country, and that any such doctrines would be best met and counteracted by infusing a little more of the military spirit into our people. He believed that the measure was but a very modest and temperate demand upon the population of this country for the performance of the first duty which they owed to their country—its defence. He believed that that demand would be heartily responded to by the whole population; he believed that it would not encounter any of that unpopularity alluded to by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The details of the measure, as he had admitted, were susceptible of amendment; but to the principle of the Bill—the embodiment of the militia—the opening of the door in the first instance to volunteer enlistment, he should give his warm and cordial support.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
thought, from the observations with which the hon. Baronet who had just sat down had commenced his speech, that he would be surprised to learn that he (Mr. Peel), although a Member of the late Government, and although not an advocate of the views of 1059 what he called "the peace party" was yet opposed to the principle of a militia at all. He thought it would have been a convenience if this Bill had been what it professed to be, so far as its title imported, a consolidating as well as an amending Bill, or that it had had appended to it the Act of George III., in order that the House might see at a glance the full extent of the burthen which they were about to impose upon the country, and the harassing nature of the duties which they were about to exact from a portion of Her Majesty's subjects. The hon. Baronet had admitted that there was nothing in the present situation of affairs in Europe which justified the demand made by Her Majesty's Government for an increase of the military armaments of the country, to an extent so large as this proposed force of 80,000 men. Even, however, if he were mistaken, and there was something in the present state of Europe to create momentary uneasiness, he (Mr. F. Peel) thought that would not be sufficient to justify a measure of this particular kind, which established a permanent force, not renewable every year, not dependent upon annual grants of the House of Commons, but to be kept on foot permanently, and in contradiction to that principle which was enunciated in the preamble of every Mutiny Act, "That the raising or keeping a standing Army in time of peace, unless it be with the annual consent of Parliament, is against law." He did not in any way dispute, on the contrary he quite admitted, the propriety of taking measures for completing the defences of this country; but his objection lay to the particular plan propounded by Her Majesty's Government. He thought that the proposed force would be costly and expensive out of all proportion to the quality of the service which the country would obtain from it. He agreed with the hon. and gallant General (Sir De L. Evans) who opened this debate, in thinking that 400,000l. would not be the whole of what would be expended upon this force, because they must bear in mind that they were to have 80,000 men, who were to receive pay under ordinary circumstances during the twenty-one days in each year in which they were to be drilled and exercised: and that beside, if it should turn out, as the Government would lead them to believe it would, that this force would be composed entirely of volunteers, a bonus of 6l. per man must be paid out of the national Exchequer. It must be recollected, too, 1060 that if the force of 80,000 contemplated by this Bill should come to be embodied, these men would receive the same pay as men serving in the infantry in Her Majesty's service. The most important question, he thought, was the manner in which the force was to be raised. Her Majesty's Government had led that House and the country to believe that this force could be raised by means of voluntary enlistment—that people would be found in sufficient numbers ready to volunteer their service, and to enter without compulsion into the ranks of the militia. The hon. Baronet (Sir J. Walsh) seemed to claim credit to his side of the House for the origin of that idea; but it would be found that there was precisely a similar provision in the existing Militia Act. By that Act liberty was given to volunteers to enter into the service, and there was the same pecuniary inducement of 6. per man held out. There was only this difference in the two cases, that while by this Bill the sum of 6l. per man was to be paid out of the national revenue, under the existing Militia Act the 6l. per man was to be paid out of the local rates. But the material point to observe was, that as was the case under the Militia Act, so under this Bill, he believed that the anticipations with regard to volunteer service would not be realised. The project of voluntary enlistment would be found to be nugatory, and would yield no fruit. What prospect was there of obtaining this volunteer service? Suppose they obtained their men from those portions of the country where the materials were most abundant and plentiful; suppose they were willing to make the ranks of the militia a receptacle into which they might sweep the lowest and most degraded classes of the people; suppose they made them even a receptacle for ablebodied pauper males—be did not believe that, even under those circumstances, they could obtain the force that they required. He observed, from some returns recently laid before the House, that the number of ablebodied pauper males—persons who could not subsist by their own industry, and who required to be supported by the charity of their neighbours—the number of such persons did not exceed 35,000, and of that number more than half were supported in consequence of accidents, or sickness, or some infirmity or another. But they must bear in mind that under this Bill the whole country was to be divided into districts, and that each district was to contribute its quota according to its popu- 1061 lation; so that those districts in which the working classes most abounded—the great seats of manufacturing industry, the counties, for instance, of Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire, the West Riding, and South Lancashire, where large masses of the working classes were congregated—would be called upon to be the largest contributors to this force. And did any one believe that in those counties where employment was abundant—where no one need be idle who chose to work—where wages were high and remunerative, and where, what was perhaps of more importance, employment was constantand unintermitting—where, moreover, there was such an arrangement of industrial combinations, that the labour of one man had dependent upon it the labour of others, so that the suspension of that one man's labour would put a stop to that of several others, was it likely, under such circumstances, that in Lancashire, for instance, 8,000 or 10,000 would be found willing to abandon the employment in which they were engaged, and enter into an employment of a precisely opposite character—of one which was transitory in its duration, and unremunerative in its return? He did not say that there might not be 80,000 persons in this country who might be willing to enter into the ranks of this militia; he did not doubt that there was that number of persons who would prefer idleness to constant and laborious employment; but he thought the hon. Gentleman who had spoken second in this debate (Mr. Rich) had very sensibly remarked, that those were the persons who were most likely to be engaged as substitutes for those who might be so unfortunate as to be the victims of the ballot. He had heard it stated that, during the war with revolutionary France, while the bonus paid to volunteers, was specified by Act of Parliament, as was now proposed, to be 6l. per man, it was a common thing to pay as much as 30l. or 40l. for a substitute. And so under this Bill, he believed, that these persons would stand by, with folded arms, until recourse was had to the ballot, when they would come forward and offer themselves as substitutes at a price treble, or quadruple, or quintuple the amount that would be paid to them, if they offered their services in the militia as volunteers. He believed then that Government would be compelled to have recourse to a compulsory conscription to obtain their militia, and this, be it observed, after they should have proved that volunteer service was a fail- 1062 ure, for the plan must prove a failure when the people found that a service of that kind was opposed to their interests; and he thought that if under such circumstances the Government, against the interests and inclination of the people, endeavoured to force them into the ranks of the militia, they would create such an opposition to the measure as would render it inoperative, and wholly neutralise any advantages which might be expected from it. He thought that in times of peace to have recourse to the ballot would be to establish a system of unjustifiable inequality; for under it they required the same service from the rich man as they required from the poor. They offered to both the liberty to find substitutes; but whilst it was easy for the rich man to pay sufficient to find his substitute, it might be quite out of the power of the poor man to find a substitute; the measure, indeed, possessed all the inequality and all the injustice of a poll tax. But what was the nature of the services that were to be required under this Militia Act? The men enlisted would have to serve under it for twenty-one days in the course of each year—not necessarily consecutive days, because Her Majesty, in Council, had the power of determining the times at which they were to be called upon to serve; and it might happen, therefore, that the men would be harassed with drill at twenty different times in the course of a year. During the whole of the twenty-one days the men under drill would be subject to martial law, that is to say, to no law at all; their civil rights were to be suspended and kept in abeyance, and subject to the arbitrary and capricious conduct of the commanding officer. But it was also to be observed that this Bill would require residential service, the meaning of which was that for five years a man would have to give annually twenty-one days' service in that place where he happened to be residing when he was first enrolled. For example, if a man resided in the county of Dorset at the commencement of his service, but in the course of the following five years it should be for his interest to go into the county of Lancaster, he would be liable to be summoned to return to the county of Dorset to serve in the ranks of the militia. This, therefore, was a new kind of law of settlement. It would operate to bind the labouring classes of this country to the soil on which they dwelt; it would deprive them of the freedom of locomotion; it would deprive them of the free and unfef- 1063 tered permission to choose their domicile in that part of the country in which they might think that it would be to their interest to dwell. For his part he did not think that a militia would ever be formed to be a very efficient and serviceable means of defending the country. One alternative they must accept—either militiamen would be as efficient as trained and disciplined soldiers, or they would not. If they would not, then his idea of the unserviceable character of this force would be confirmed. If they should be found to be as efficient as trained soldiers, then he thought the Government were bound to attend to that consideration to which the hon. Member for Manchester, when this question was previously under discussion drew their attention—namely, that they would every five years pour into the lowest classes of society 80,000 men who had been taken from the calm pursuits of peace and industry, and had been habituated to military tastes and habits, who had been trained to the use of arms, and who had learned the art and value of military discipline and tactics. He had thus shown that a militia force would be burdensome to the country, in point of taxation, and that it would be oppressive to individuals; and being so, he thought it ought to be shown that it would produce some palpable advantages to induce them to consent to a measure exacting personal service from individuals, and imposing fresh burdens on the country. Now, what were the objects for which the Government asked this force? The House had heard much of its constitutional character; but he did not believe there was any trace of a constitutional character to be found in the lineaments of the measure before them. The Crown had at one time the power to issue Commissions of Array—the Crown had till recently the power of making use of the militia to quell riots and to suppress insurrection; but it was now the first time in history that a Government sought to deprive the Crown of the power of using the militia for those purposes, and said the militia force should only be embodied in case of actual invasion, or imminent danger thereof. It appeared to him that, in a time of peace, a measure of this kind would prove to be an uncalled-for interference with the industrial economy of the country—that in time of peace we ought to apply the principle of the division of labour to our defences—that those men who were intended to act as soldiers, ought to' be entirely devoted to 1064 that life, and so have the opportunity of becoming masters of their profession, and ought not to be satisfied with the rudimentary parts of military knowledge; while those who followed the ordinary pursuit of life should be left to follow them without the interruption consequent on their being called upon to acquire the elements of military knowledge, for he had no hesitation in saying that there were few characters more distasteful than that of a half citizen, half soldier. He entirely coincided in the opinion of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, expressed towards the close of the reign of George II. He said—"For my own part, I never was more convinced of the truth of any proposition in my life, than that a nation of merchants, manufacturers, artisans, and husbandmen, to be defended by a regular army, is vastly preferable to a nation of soldiers." That was the principle upon which he (Mr. F. Peel) was inclined to act. He was willing to trust the defence of the country to the Army and to the naval force. He was of opinion that our naval force, if properly stationed, provided an effectual security against surprise in time of peace; and he believed that, before any foreign country could assemble troops for the purpose of attacking us, or transport them to this country, we might blockade every port and close up every outlet along the whole line of their coast. As to our military force, if insufficient, we ought to be satisfied that arrangements could not be made by which some portion of the Army serving in the Colonies might be withdrawn, and the Colonies called upon to organise some force for their own defence. No one would pretend that our troops in the Colonies were kept there for the purpose of external defence—they were there simply for the purpose of internal police, to keep the peace, and to defend the colony against the inroads of savages. In time of war this precaution against invasion, in the shape of a militia, was, in his opinion, not merely useless, but perhaps even dangerous, because it was likely to lull us into a false sense of security. He did not believe that, if there were any real danger of invasion, or of a descent upon our shores, that the people of England would rest satisfied with a militia force of 80,000 men, or even of 120,000. During the war with France there was a militia but the country was not content with it-there was at that time a volunteer force to the extent of ten times the number of militia—there were at least 400,000 volunteers— 1065 there were train bands, and even a provision for arming the whole peasantry. As it had been then, he believed so it would be again, if there were any real danger of descent upon our shores. He believed that in such a case every man in England would be found willing to rise in defence of our homes and altars, that every hedge would be lined, and every house occupied with our people, and that an enemy would have to contest field by field, and foot by foot, its advance into the country. Upon such a force, rather than on the militia, he should be disposed to depend; and he thought that in case of necessity there would be no waiting for commissions from the Crown, or for authority from the Lord Lieutenant, but that Englishmen would spontaneously rise for the defence of themselves and their country. Holding these opinions, considering the militia injurious to the industry of this country in time of peace, and believing it unserviceable for defence in time of war, he should support cordially the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans).
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, they could no longer doubt upon which side of the House the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. F. Peel) sat. While he listened to the speech of the hon Gentleman, he could scarcely believe his senses, recollecting, as he did, that the hon. Gentleman was Under Secretary to the Colonies to the late Ministry, at the head of which was the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) who had introduced the Militia Bill this Session. [Mr. F. PEEL observed that he believed he had not voted for the measure.] He should have been unwilling to make that assertion trusting only to his memory, but his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Gwyn) had examined the list of the division, and had found the name of Mr. Frederick Peel recorded as having voted for the measure. The speech of the hon. Gentleman on the present occasion was not so much against the particular measure before the House, as against the militia force altogether. But there was another circumstance which enhanced his surprise, at the opposition to this measure intended by the hon. Member. During the debate on the introduction of the measure by the noble Lord the late Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert) spoke as follows:—He could bear testimony to the foot stated by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Lord Palmerston), that the opinion which he had ex- 1066 pressed that night on the subject of the militia was no new opinion, for when he (Mr. S. Herbert) held the office of Secretary of War, the noble Lord frequently questioned him on the subject in this House. These questions had not been without effect, for the late Government were so fully persuaded of the necessity for taking some steps in the matter, that at the desire of the right hon. Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), then Secretary for the Home Department, and of the late Sir R. Peel, he (Mr. S. Herbert) drew up a Bill for revising the militia laws, with the view of bringing the subject before Parliament; but the measure was not brought forward in consequence of the change of Administration. He was glad, therefore, that the Government had now taken the matter in hand.The hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. Peel), therefore not only differed from the proposition of the late Government, but also from the proposition which had received the sanction of the Government that preceded it. Such conduct on the part of the hon. Gentleman he could not account for. At the commencement of the Session they heard that there was a necessity for a militia force, because the form of government in France was changed, and a sense of insecurity had thereby been created throughout Europe. He was not aware that the form of government in France had altered since then. But we must remember that this country had been warned by the highest military authority now in existence—by the greatest General of the age—by the most distinguished subject of the Crown—who had year after year pressed upon the consideration of successive Administrations the fact of our coast being defenceless in case of foreign invasion. The Duke of Wellington, writes in 1847 to Major General Burgoyne, as follows:—Some days have elapsed, indeed a fortnight has, since I received your note, with a copy of your observations on the possible results of a war with France, under our present system of military preparation.You are aware that I have for years been sensible of the alteration produced in maritime warfare and operations by the application of steam to the propelling of ships at sea.This discovery immediately exposed all parts of the coasts of these islands, which a vessel could approach at all, to be approached at all times of tide and in all seasons, by vessels so propelled, from all quarters. We are in fact assailable, and at least liable to insult, and to have contributions levied upon us on all parts of our coast; that is, the coast of these, including the Channel Islands, which to this time, from the period of the Norman Conquest, have never been successfully invaded.I have in vain endeavoured to awaken the attention of different Administrations to this state of things, as well known to our neighbours (rivals in power, at least former adversaries and enemies) as it is to ourselves.1067I hope that your paper may be attended with more success than my representations have been.I have above, in few words, represented our danger. We have no defence, or hope of defence, excepting in our fleet.He (Mr. Newdegate) would beg the House to attend not to his opinion, but to the Duke of Wellington's opinion, as to the prospect of any effective resistance being made by a hasty armament of the people, when undisciplined, by a levy en masse in case of a foreign invasion:—We hear a great deal of the spirit of the people of England, for which no man entertains higher respect than I do. But unorganised, undisciplined, without systematic subordination established and well understood, this spirit, opposed to the fire of musketry and cannon, and to sabres and bayonets of disciplined troops, would only expose those animated by such spirit to confusion and destruction.That was the opinion of the greatest general of the age—one who knew what Englishmen are, and what Englishmen could do—who had led Englishmen on to victory in every country and under every climate, where he had commanded them, in thousands and tens of thousands. This was the Duke of Wellington's answer to those who recommended the people to wait undisciplined and unprepared until the hour of danger was upon them. The Duke of Wellington thus proceeded to describe the nature of the force, which he deemed would be effectual for the defence of the country in case of an emergency, supposing that timely preparations for it were made:—The measure upon which I have earnestly entreated different Administrations to decide, which is constitutional, and has been invariably adopted in time of peace for the last 80 years, is to raise, embody, organise, and discipline the militia, of the same numbers for each of the three kingdoms united as during the late war.The proposal made by the Duke of Wellington was more extensive than the measure proposed by Her Majesty's present Government:—This would give a mass of organised force amounting to about 150,000 men, which we might immediately set to work to discipline. This alone would enable us to establish the strength of our army. This, with an augmentation of the force of the regular army, which would not cost 400,000l., would put the country on its legs in respect to personal force, and I would engage for its defence old as I am.But as we stand now, and if it be true that the exertions of the fleet alone are not sufficient to provide for our defence, we are not safe for a week after the declaration of war.Let any man examine our maps and road-books, consider of the matter, and judge for himself.1068I know of no mode of resistance, much less of protection from this danger, excepting by an army in the field, capable of meeting and contending with its formidable enemy, aided by all the means of fortification which experience in war and science can suggest.I shall be deemed foolhardy in engaging for the defence of the empire with an army composed of such a force of militia. I may be so. I confess it, I should infinitely prefer, and should feel more confidence in, an army of regular troops. But I know that I shall not have these. I may have the others, and if an addition is made to the existing regular army allotted for home defence of a force which will cost 400,000l. a year, there would be a sufficient disciplined force in the field to enable him who should command to defend the country.This is my view of our danger and our resources. I was aware that our magazines and arsenals were very inadequately supplied with ordnance and carriages, arms, stores, of all denominations, and ammunition.I quite concur in all your views of the danger of our position, and of the magnitude of the stake at issue. I am especially sensible of the certainty of failure if we do not, at an early moment, attend to the measures necessary to be taken for our defence, and of the disgrace—the indelible disgrace, of such failure.Putting out of view all the other unfortunate consequences, such as the loss of the political and social position of this country among the nations of Europe, of all its allies, in concert with and in aid of whom it has in our own times contended successfully in arms for its own honour and safety, and the independence and freedom of the world.When did any man hear of allies of a country unable to defend itself?Views of economy of some, and I admit that the high views of national finance of others, induce them to postpone those measures absolutely necessary for mere defence and safety under existing circumstances, forgetting altogether the common practice of successful armies in modern times, imposing upon the conquered enormous pecuniary contributions, as well as other valuable and ornamental property.France having been in possession of nearly every capital in Europe, and having levied contributions in each, and having had in its possession or under its influence the whole of Italy, Germany, and Poland, is reduced to its territorial limits as they stood in 1792.Do we suppose that we should be allowed to keep—could we advance a pretension to keep—more than the islands composing the United Kingdom, ceding disgracefully the Channel Islands, on which an invader had never established himself since the period of the Norman Conquest?He would beg the House again to remember from whose letter he read these extracts, and to mark the conclusion. The last passage ran thus:—I am bordering upon seventy-seven years of age passed in honour. I hope that the Almighty may protect me from being the witness of the tragedy which I cannot persuade my contemporaries to take measures to avert.—Believe me ever yours sincerely, "WELLINGTON.It was true that in 1848 he (Mr. Newde- 1069 gate) refused to vote for a militia. He sincerely regretted having done so, now that he found that the opinion thus expressed by his Grace remained unaltered, and that it was supported by the most competent military authorities in this country. The highest naval authorities also I concurred in believing that the introduction of steam in vessels of war, and, more than all, the manner in which the railroads of France were arranged, connecting the capital with the chief military depôts, and connecting the chief military depôts with the principal seaports, rendered it probable that instead of having the warning hitherto given to us by the concentration of the French forces on the coast, we should find the forces were ordered to diverge to various places on the coast, the point of concentration being some spot on the shores of England, known to the French generals, but probably not known to us: this would render guarding the Channel much more difficult than hitherto. Besides all this, not only had there been a change in the form of government in France, but they should remember the character of the man who held the power of that mighty country. That remarkable man had long been resident in England, and it was well known to his friends, and was in fact undisputed, that there was this in the character of the President of the French Republic which took him out of calculations applicable to ordinary men—he was a predestinarian; he believed, and that belief was the motive of his actions during life, that he was destined by Providence to fulfil a great mission. When he was in England, actuated by these motives, he had not failed to attempt the invasion of France by means ridiculously insufficient; he was entrapped and defeated, but he followed out his course till he gained the supreme power in France. Had the conduct by which he had gained that power, and placed himself at the head of the French nation, given us any reason to believe that he was a man who would hesitate in his policy? He (Mr. Newdegate) believed the President had said he felt grateful for the hospitality he had enjoyed in England, and that he would be sorry to attack us; but that if he found that it formed part of what he believed to be his destiny, he would not shrink from making the attack. When they had such a man at the head of such an army and fleet, which, combined, were superior to those of any Power in the world, it would be madness to leave this country in such a 1070 defenceless position as the Duke of Wellington had described. He hoped the present measure would have the support of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), for though he had objected so strongly to the Amendment of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) on his own Bill, that he threw up the Government when it was carried by the House, still the conclusion of his speech gave him (Mr. Newdegate) hope that he would support a measure which was necessary for the defence of the country. The noble Lord on that occasion said—With respect to the opinions expressed a few evening's since on this subject by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), it appears to me that they do not differ in any essential respects from those to which I gave utterance, and that they are conclusive as to the wisdom, and indeed as to the necessity, of having, irrespectively of our regular army, a force on which we could depend in the unfortunate event of a war or a foreign invasion. It is necessary for this country, having a limited number of men which it has for the regular army, there being no prospect that this House will ever adopt any proposition for an increase of 30,000 or 40,000 men to the regular army, to be kept in the United Kingdom—it is necessary that there should be some force of militia which should enable the country to have at command a sufficient number of men partly trained and ready for employment, and that this force should be ready to be sent to any part of the Kingdom." [3 Hansard, cxix. 841.]For the sake of the country he hoped the noble Lord would not follow the example of those who had been recently his subordinates in office, but that, actuated by the spirit of a statesman and of an English Minister, he would afford the proposal of Government, as a measure rendered necessary for the immediate safety of the country, the weight of his authority, and his sanction, so far, at all events, as to admit of its further consideration by the House. If the House this year voted an increase to the regular Army, as was suggested by some hon. Members, and there should be next year any commercial depression or agricultural distress, he knew from experience the clamour for a reduction of the establishments would be so great that no Ministry could resist it; and the increase of the Army would be so great that no Ministry could resist it, and the increase of the Army would be again reduced. They were told by some hon. Members to withdraw their forces from the Colonies, in order to strengthen the force at home. The commercial policy of this country of late years had rendered the connexion of the mother country no longer advantageous to 1071 the colonies; and the only tie which was left between them and us was in the fact that we had not abandoned the parental character, the first duty of a metropolitan State, altogether, and had not withdrawn from them the protection afforded by our troops. He trusted that, not fearing the temporary unpopularity which there had been endeavours to excite against this measure, the House would act on the sentiments expressed during the last six years of every statesman in the country, that the opinion of the Duke of Wellington was sound when he declared that without a measure of this kind the condition of this country was most precarious.
MR. LAW HODGES
would not have risen to take part in the debate did he not feel that from his own knowledge he could give some corroboration to the principal objections raised against the provisions of the Bill; but, more than that, from being convinced by the great number of petitions presented against the measure, that it was obnoxious to the wishes and feelings of the country. He was quite convinced that the objections to a Militia Bill did not arise from any abatement of the loyalty of the people, or of any indifference on the part of the people towards the welfare, honour, and national security of England; but from their recollection of the severity of the ballot system practised during the last war. He would confine himself to what passed within his own knowledge, for he had been in the militia service in 1798. The regiment in which he served was sent to Ireland during the troubles that prevailed there in 1798; and in 1799, when they returned to England, an order was sent down to send 500 men from the regiment to join the line. The consequence was that the commanding officer wrote immediately to the clerk of the peace for the county that 500 vacancies had occurred, to supply which a ballot was requisite. Now, the bounty to be given at that time was 10l. for these volunteers to enter the line. They were now told that by giving a bounty of 61. a head, they could get the number of men required. Perhaps that might be possible; but what was the fact at the time to which he had referred? Why that as much as 60l. had been given for a substitute, and such high bounties will again be required to escape personal service whenever war occurs; and it was the recollection of such things as that which indisposed the country again to return to that system. He could not help also remarking, that the 1072 money so spent appeared in no public account. The money so expended amounted to many thousands a year; for enormous sums were paid for substitutes to supply the vacancies caused by volunteering and desertion—indeed, he thought he might say that an hon. Friend, whom he then saw in the House, could corroborate him in saying, that the money so expended amounted in the aggregate to millions. At the time he was speaking of, not one man in twenty was serving in person; and the main objection to the ballot then, as now, was, that whenever war happens it will entirely dry up all the ordinary recruiting sources of the line; and it was but natural that the people should apprehend that what happened then would occur again. He was no less anxious than other Gentlemen to defend the country; but he thought the House would do well to consider whether some other measure could not be brought forward, and some other mode adopted to secure all needful protection to the country. Owing, he thought, to the reasons he had alluded to, and on the grounds he had mentioned, a resistance had arisen against the present measure which would not subside; for the country thought that, if it were carried, it would lead hereafter to the same pressure of the ballot system as before. So great was the temptation offered to the poorest class in the country by the enormous sums given for substitutes, that it caused an amount of desertion such as could hardly be credited. At one time, there were more than 500 deserters from the regiment to which he (Mr. L. Hodges) belonged. Whenever they were apprehended they were punished for their crime; but the temptation could not be withstood, and he had known men desert even from the hospital, and enlist in some distant county. He trusted the House would not, by sanctioning the present Bill, expose the people to similar temptations and similar evils, and upon that principle he would vote against the Bill.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
Sir, with the particular views which I entertain on this important subject, and believing, as I firmly do, that my particular views are of no singular character, but are shared, as they ought to be, by the great majority of the people of this country, I ask the attention of he House while I make a few observations. I have listened with much attention to the observations which hon. Gentlemen have addressed to the House during the course of this discussion; and at once, without any 1073 further preface, I beg entirely to dissent—I beg entirely to dissent from and to contest the political expediency and the practical necessity of this measure, upon which we are now called upon, if not to register our votes, at all events to explain our opinions. But as I am aware that by such contestation, by such difference of opinion from what appears to be unfortunately the sense of this House, I am, as a representative of the people, entailing upon myself some responsibility—as I am aware that by such contestation I am thereby venturing to call in question the deliberate judgments of those whose opinions as experienced statesmen are doubtless entitled to much weight, —I hope to be able to give that explanation of my views and sentiments which, on these grounds particularly, I am desirous of submitting to the consideration of those who, equally with myself, having an independent duty to discharge, are not to be influenced by any other motives than those springing from a desire to promote the real interests of the people, and to secure the national independence. I should wish, however, the House and the country clearly to understand—lest in advocating these my opinions here on this subject, others may be attributed to me which I altogether repudiate—that I entirely separate myself from those who, entertaining doubtless opinions similar to myself, in regard to this measure, entertain in in reality very opposite notions as regards our great military and naval establishments. It would be in opposition to any vote of mine were those establishments— expensive as they are, exorbitantly expensive, and capable of much economic retrenchment—in any way permanently reduced. I place no faith whatever in what is called "the universal brotherhood of man," nor in the possibility of the adjustment of the differences of nations by arbitration. Human nature will ever be Swayed by the same passions, the same ambitions, the same lusts of conquest, which have ever, in the history of empires, marked the progress of mankind; and therefore it is that in my opinion it would be an ill-judged economy, a dangerous experiment, to attempt to give practical illustration to the doctrines of those Gentlemen who would wish for the reduction of our national establishments, naval and military, in anticipation of the advent of some such fraternal era as what they talk of. I entirely repudiate such doctrines: and it would be ever in opposition to any vote of mine, against my 1074 wishes, and I should see with much mistrust any attempt which might endanger the national independence, by sacrificing to these erroneous doctrines. But I think the House will agree with me that there is no subject capable of producing more serious embarrassment to the domestic discipline and economy of a nation than that resulting from an idea of the insufficiency of the national defences to maintain the national independence; and certain it is, that in the discussion of a subject of such very great importance to us all, that temperate deliberation in Parliament, which on all occasions is so necessary, should particularly now prevail, in order that the public mind out of doors may not be swayed by unfounded fears, or carried away by overweening confidence, and blinded to the reality of our position. It is, therefore, that I think the conduct of the late Government—with all due respect —is open to much censure—I think their conduct to be highly reprehensible, in creating and fostering an ignominious panic of foreign invasion. I regret that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), for whom I personally entertain great political sympathy, and, may I be permitted to add, personal regard, should have given the weight of his experience and the sanction of his authority to this vain display of military organisation—that he should have consented to saddle the people with the maintenance of a force which circumstances did not justify, and which his own experience of European policy must have told him to be idle, futile, and unnecessary. The improvements which skill and science have introduced into the art of war—the rapid locomotion by means of steam power—and the consequent possible rapid concentration of forces on any one given point, are subjects of very serious moment for the consideration of the Governments of all nations. But I maintain that the relative position of this country has in no wise altered by these improvements; and that it does by no means follow, that because we have been in the habit for years of voting these large sums of money for our national defence, we should therefore now give our sanction to this increase of the burdens of an already overburdened population—and that we should consent to vote the sum of 1,200,000l. for this purpose, when I, for one—doubtless many in this House—certainly many in the country, ignorantly, as it appears—were under the impression that 1075 the Government had ample means at their disposal already, through the liberality of Parliament, and the prolonged peace. But, whatever improvements other nations have introduced into the science of war, have not we—or rather ought not we equally to have profited? True it is that we as a nation excel in other arts than those of bloodshed and oppression; but what is there in the art of war which other nations may have learnt, which we have not equally within our most ready grasp? Yet we, the people of this country, are suddenly and unexpectedly to be told by a Government in the very last gasp of its political existence—a Government having had a tenure of office for five years—a Government succeeding to the Administration presided over for years by Sir Robert Peel, and singularly felicitous in its relations with foreign Powers—we are to be told by this Government that the national defences are inadequate to preserve the sacred shores of Britain from the devastating bands of invading battalions. Away with the delusion—away with this ignominious panic of foreign invasion! I maintain, as I have already said, that the relative position of this country as regards other countries never was better than at the present moment; and therefore it is that I regret to see that Parliament should be sanctioning this large expenditure of 1,200,000l. for the purpose of voting additional men to our already large standing armaments. I think it is our bounden duty here as representatives to be very cautious how we deal with a subject of so much difficulty as this. We ought to bear in mind that these great military establishments rather impoverish a country than protect it. And particularly we ought to be careful lest, in making at best but moderate soldiers, we are not furnishing dangerous citizens. I am sure I could point out many other ways in which 1,200,000l. could be disposed of far better than by this vote, and from which Parliament would derive much greater satisfaction; and which I am quite sure would leave the country not by one jot or tittle less capable of defending itself against a foreign invasion than if these 80,000 men were drawn up in the very neighbourhood of the metropolis. But, whatever blame or credit attaches to the measure in the eyes of the country, it ought justly to be attributed to the late Government. They it was who examined into the necessity of its application, and the 1076 propriety of its adoption. They recommended the plans which have been more or less adopted by the present Government; and it would be unjust and impolitic to charge the present Administration with the egregious blunder of their predecessors. They succeeded hastily to power upon the spontaneous combustion of their adversaries; and I think it is quite natural to suppose, that with scarce sufficient time to look about them, and imagining of course that the late Government had most powerful reasons for proposing this measure, they should refuse to adjourn its discussion, or to take upon themselves the responsibility at once of a totally different course. And now, as almost every hon. Gentleman who has addressed the House during the last three or four weeks has taken an opportunity of speaking with reference to the present Government, in elucidation of his own political views, if the House will permit me for two or three moments, I ask a similar indulgence for myself. I admit personally that I see with no unwilling eye Lord Derby at the head of the Administration of the Government of this country. I think that noble Lord is in a position to head an Administration based upon liberal conservative principles, containing the elements of real prosperity to this country. As an orator, we know he is unequalled; as a statesman, let us hold him open to conviction—for no man, however, eloquent, can hope to remain long at the head of public affairs in this country, or even for any length of time to maintain his position as a public man, unless he is prepared to mould his political creed—I don't say hastily or without due consideration—but unless he is prepared, after due consideration, caution, and observation, to mould his political creed according to the exigencies of the times, and the temper of public discussion. I feel perfectly convinced that Lord Derby sees the necessity —that he acknowledges the necessity of maintaining intact that commercial policy, the expediency of which he may have hitherto, and which he has hitherto unquestionably doubted. It remains with him—it remains with you—for ever to obliterate from the catalogue of political denominations those political distinctions which have hitherto existed—existed particularly amongst the members of one class, the owners and occupiers of land. It remains with you now to tell the people of England that the policy of free trade is irrevocably secured—it remains with you 1077 to assure the people of England that the policy of free trade is irrevocably secured upon the consent and the unanimous admission of all political parties in this House. If the Government do this, I think that the sympathies of the country will carry them triumphant through the next Parliament. But suppose they do not—however it may be—in the firm, unflinching adhesion to my own political opinions, I take my stand here as a liberal conservative-free trader. I propose, as a liberal conservative, to give my support to an Administration presided over by Lord Derby, on all occasions affecting the real interests of the country, until I see an attempt made to subvert, to blunt the edge of that policy inaugurated in Parliament by Sir Robert Peel, sanctioned by the Legislature, confirmed and approved by the country. Until I see an attempt to subvert that policy which has endeared to the affectionate recollections of tens of thousands of my fellow-countrymen the name I bear, I shall give, as a liberal Conservative, my adhesion to an Administration presided over by Lord Derby. But though I do this as a liberal Conservative, I have a right to ask, as a Member of the House of Commons, as a representative of the people, what are the reasons for this extraordinary peace establishment which it is now proposed to set on foot—where are the circumstances which should render au invasion probable? True, the Government have opportunities of ascertaining the drift of public affairs better than we, who are not called to participate in their labours. But if we have not those opportunities, we have the means of judging for ourselves. The intentions of Cabinets are no longer confined, as formerly, within their ancient narrow limits, but admit now-a-days of public appreciation, and are liable to be sifted by public opinion. Prom these opportunities I have sought information; and for the life of me I cannot divine the reason of these immense preparations. It is true, that with Prince Schwarzenberg ruling in Vienna, and with the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) hastily rusticated from office, there might have been some apprehension of difficulty; but these difficulties, if they existed, have now sensibly diminished, if they have not altogether disappeared, and left not a ripple on the muddy waters of European politics. The only possible plea for adding to the existing defence as afforded by our military and naval establishments, is, we are told, 1078 the possibility of a sudden invasion by means of the facilities of transport which the invention of steam may have placed in the hands of any unscrupulous adventurer or despot. But I believe, if such an attempt were made, it would end in our administering a repetition of the humiliation which all those have experienced who have had the hardihood to enter upon a contest with this country. What, I should like to know, is meant by the term "sudden invasion," which is so often used, but with little consideration? The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton has defined it thus: "We have to provide," he says, "not against a danger which may happen in six or eight months, but which may happen in a month or a fortnight from the time when it is first apprehended." I ask the House, and I ask the country, is it possible to admit this definition of the noble Lord? Let the House for one moment figure to itself the noble Lord sitting in Downing-street with all the threads of European diplomacy, concentrated, like so many electric wires, in his Cabinet, and let the House then figure to itself the surprise of the noble Lord on being told that that day fortnight 150,000 men were to be landed on the shores of Britain. Do you think the noble Lord believes this to be possible? Not at all. If it were possible, what, I ask, becomes of all the agents of diplomacy, whom a celebrated writer, Mr. Burke, has called "licensed spies?" What becomes of these "licensed spies," whose duty it is to promote harmony and good feeling between the Government to which they are accredited, and that which they represent, or, failing that, to give their own Government timely information of any such premeditated schemes of "sudden invasion?" I have been myself one of these licensed spies, as they are called, for four years, and I had therefore an opportunity of judging in this matter; and I maintain that it would be impossible so to evade or blind the vigilance of these agents, that they could remain ignorant of such an intention if it Was meant to be carried out. But if the agents of diplomacy can be deceived, there is the press of this country; and from my own personal knowledge I can say that the press of this country is singularly hazardous in their determination to acquire information, and singularly accurate in the information so acquired, which it has frequently the opportunity of communicating to the public before the Government itself has received official intimation of the same. 1079 But supposing it was even possible to evade the1 agents of diplomacy and the vigilance of those active gentlemen who obtain information for the press, there is a third agency which it is perhaps still more difficult to evade—one even more sensitive to the apprehension of danger—the agency of commerce. There are those commercial relations which bind, with golden links, the interests of nations more firmly together than the diplomacy of Cabinets and the intrigues of statesmen can ever hope to effect. Any rumour of war would communicate itself at once as if by an electric wire to all the great centres of European commerce. The merchant at Odessa, at Marseilles, and at Manchester, would receive the intelligence at the same time, and these gentlemen would not be backward in communicating the information to their respective Governments. It is quite impossible, then, that the agents of diplomacy, the press, and the mercantile world, could be all deceived, and that a sudden invasion could be made upon England on the part of a foreign Power without its being known beforehand. I do not desire to cry down or to depreciate the advantage or the intrepidity of militiamen; but if there was danger now, I would prefer to see 10,000 men added to the standing Army, and an increase of our steam navy, than this enlistment of militia. I think the country would be more efficiently served, and that there would be less derangement to the domestic economy of the country. But then comes the difficulty and danger of increasing the standing Army. In 1841 Sir Robert Peel thus spoke in reference to the danger of such a course:—What is the advantage of one Power greatly increasing its army or navy? Does it not see, that if it proposes such increase for self-protection and defence, the other Powers would follow its example? The consequence of this state of things must be, that no increase of relative strength will accrue to any one Power, but that there must be an universal consumption of the resources of every country in military preparations. They are, in fact, depriving peace of half its advantages, and anticipating the energies of war, whenever they may be required. I do not mean to advocate any romantic notion of each nation trusting with security the professions of its neighbour; but if each country were to commune with itself, and ask, 'What is at present the danger of foreign invasion, compared to the danger of producing dissatisfaction and discontent, and curtailing the comforts of the people by undue taxation?' the answer must be this—that the danger of aggression is infinitely less than the danger of those sufferings to which the present exorbitant expenditure must give rise.1080 This was the opinion of that great man with regard to increasing the standing army, and I think it is worthy of being inculcated in the House and in the country. But, as I have said, I have no desire to depreciate the utility of militiamen. I can appreciate what they are capable of doing from my own experience of what I have seen them do, and my experience is borne out by historical testimony. I have seen, an army of 100,000 men brought from their domestic comforts and their business pursuits in the space of four weeks to engage in an unfortunate struggle, happily soon terminated. I have seen them return to their homes without bravado, and endeavour to forget in their ordinary occupations of life, the strife in which they had been so recently engaged; and the conclusion I was enabled to draw from the circumstance was, that amidst that people, there lay dormant an invisible, as it were, yet powerful array, capable of opposing a formidable barrier against hostile aggression; aye, and capable even of successfully resisting any encroachment upon their national independence. And this experience of mine is confirmed by examples derived from historical sources. Turn to the pages of Macaulay—those pages which are written with a pen which never wearies, and an interest that never flags—and you will see how the militia of Somersetshire rallied under the Duke of Monmouth, and gave-proof at the battle of Sedgemoor of that native courage, unaided by discipline, which, were it needed, would again be at our country's disposal. That brave militia, though armed only with scythes, drove the royal army into disorder, and they only lost the battle from the want of ammunition and the desertion of their general. Lord Mahon, again in one of his historical works, relates how bravely the militia acted in America, how they resisted oppression and coercion, and gained the battle of Bunker's Hill, which resulted in the evacuation of Boston. Washington first distinguished himself in Canada with a militia force, and he after wards gained his victories of Trenton and Princeton with a force composed of militia and hired only for twelve months. I am far, therefore, from underrating a militia; but I only value them in a country where there is no standing army. Where there is a standing army I do deprecate a militia. I believe it would be impossible to prevent that ill feeling and strife which always exists between a standing army and a militia force. It was impossible to prevent such a feeling 1081 between the guerillas of Spain and the regular Spanish army; and the same feeling existed between the landwehr and the regular Prussian army, when both were fighting in the war of independence in 1813. But there is, in my mind, this capital drawback and irresistible objection to a militia in this country—that it would derange its industry and its commerce. This would be the direct effect of the Bill now proposed, for however short a time the men might be called out; and, unless there was some imminent danger, I don't think you would be justified in taking men from their homes and from their ordinary occupations in life. It is for these reasons —and seeing that England is happily in the enjoyment of the blessings of perfect peace with all European States—that I regret the introduction of this Bill. I lament the embodiment of a militia in an economical point of view. I regret the vast expenditure of the public money, which is not justified by the circumstances of the case, not by any political expediency. I desire to see this Bill abandoned—which it would be perfectly justifiable and honourable in Government to do—because I do not wish to see Parliament saddling the country with the maintenance of that which, so far from being a security for peace, has a direct tendency to war. And be well assured that these men will not be one iota less capable of defending the country I without the summer drills—that they will not be animated with one particle less zeal when called upon by their country, if she needs them as defenders, than if they were to spend a portion of their time in prepatory militia cantonments. I am sure that if a foreign force were to attempt to pollute the sacred shores of Britain, and to carry fire and pillage throughout the country, there would be one rallying cry from every nook and corner of the island; one spirit I would animate every British heart, and in countless thousands the southern coasts of England would welcome the enthusiastic homage of a nation of warriors drawn together in defence of that most sacred cause, i national independence.
§ COLONEL CHATTERTON
Sir, as a military man, and in a military point of view, I beg to offer a few observations upon the matter now under our consideration. I am quite aware of the diversity of opinion existing, as to the expediency of augmenting the regular Army, or embodying the regular militia. I am also more aware of the unpopularity of the 1082 soldiery in this country—I well know Englishmen do not appreciate the value of a soldier, and I trust they will never learn their value, by the sad experience of a hostile force occupying any part of our territory. I am, therefore, convinced, Sir, that my right hon. Friend has exercised a sound discretion in bringing forward this Bill, and he shall consequently have my warm support; but in offering it, I shall take leave to submit a few suggestions for the consideration of my right hon. Friend. Judging and forming my opinion from the experience I have had (and it is not small), I am quite convinced the period for training and exercise is far too limited; twenty-eight days in the year is not sufficient. No Englishman, whether of the agricultural or manufacturing class, can learn anything of military duty in that short space of time. Englishmen have not that aptitude or taste for military exercises which I may almost say is inherent in every Continental nation, I would therefore recommend three months at the very least of successive daily drill. In the first year, this may perhaps bring them into something like a military shape. I would also strongly recommend the standard for the volunteers to be raised, else I fear my right hon. Friend will find his regiments—those of the first levy at least— will be deluged with a set of low dissipated creatures, with which our manufacturing districts swarm, with neither strength, stamina, or character, to recommend them; and totally unable to carry our heavy accoutrements, or the great lumbering arms with which our infantry are encumbered, much less effectively wear that weapon; therefore instead of the proposed standard being 5 ft. or 5 ft. 1 in., I would recommend most decidedly 5 ft. 6 in., or 5 ft. 7 in. be adopted. I must also beg to ask my right hon. Friend, what provision he intends to make for the defence of the most assailable and vulnerable part of the empire, I mean Ireland? At present she is totally defenceless, without sufficient of either army or navy. In the splendid harbour of the city I have the honour to represent, there is only one line-of-battle ship, a fifty-eight screw steamer, without crew sufficient to man half her guns, and so shorthanded, she is unable to go to see. I cannot for a moment imagine my right hon. Friend doubts the loyalty of the Irish people, or fears to put arms in their hands in their own country, nor can I subscribe to a very prevalent opinion, that Scotland is also excluded from the operation of this 1083 Bill as a panacea to calm the wounded feelings of Ireland at this exclusion. But, Sir, something for the security of Ireland must be done. My right hon. Friend must recollect that she has been thrice invaded by a hostile force, and doubtless would be so again at the first opportunity; therefore I decidedly protest against any withdrawal of any of the force at present stationed in that country, as suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Westminster, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Richmond. One advantage, I rejoice to find, is gained by this Bill, namely, doing away with the "militia staff," costing, as it does the country, upwards of 100,000l. annually. I have ever considered this force most useless, and a most profligate waste of the public money; the idea of its forming a nucleus, upon which to embody the regular militia, is a perfect farce, composed as this staff is in general of a set of fat old non-commissioned officers, whose ideas of military glory have long since evaporated—who would have to commence drill de novo to become acquainted with our new military system, to enable them to teach others, and be perhaps still ineffective. I pray I may not be misunderstood. I do not mean in the slightest degree to cast any slur or imputation upon the militia; on the contrary, I honour and respect that truly constitutional force. I have seen their utility, and I know their value. My right hon. Friend said, a few evenings ago, he understood some militiamen were present at the battle of Talavera, in their militia uniform and appointments. My right hon. Friend was perfectly correct. Ever since the passing of that most judicious Act, permitting the militia to volunteer into the line, the latter has been admirably supplied with excellent volunteers; and I much regret to say, I have seen many of those men in the actions in the Peninsula, where I had the first fortune to be present, lying on the battle field, havingResigned their lives amidst the joys of conquest,And, filled with England's glory, smiled in death.I shall never forget the splendid appearance a brigade of militia made, composed of the Royal Bucks regiments, marching through Bourdeaux, en route to Toulouse, just at the close of the last war, full of life, vigour, and loyalty, headed by the illustrious relatives of my noble Friend the Member for Buckingham, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Mont- 1084 gomeryshire (I mean the late Duke of Buckingham, and Sir Watkin Williams Wynn), and I assure you, Sir, a universal regret pervaded the army that these regiments arrived too late "to be blooded" (to use a soldier's parlance), at that glorious, hard-fought, and crowning victory of Toulouse, where they would doubtless have proved that the militia, acting together, would have equalled the regular army in bravery and in discipline. I hope my right hon. Friend will excuse the suggestions I have ventured to make, and I trust the House will pardon my having occupied so much of its time in their expression.
§ MR. P. HOWARD
wished to explain his reasons for supporting a measure of a similar nature, when it was proposed by the noble Lord the Member for London, Considering that the responsibility of the defence of the country ought to rest upon the Executive Government, he was an humble follower of the now fallen banner, and having so far maintained that principle, he considered that he could not pursue a different course with anything like consistency. He quite agreed, if it were consonant with the general feelings of the country, that an increase of the regular Army would perhaps be a more effectual method of meeting any danger which might exist; but he also agreed with preceding speakers in thinking that the difficulty was, after all, to maintain that addition to our forces. The hon. Baronet who had just spoken alleged that considerable jealousy existed between the Prussian landwehr and the Prussian army; but he begged to remind the hon. Baronet that it was undoubtedly an historical fact, that to the landwehr Prussia owed her safety, and was enabled to recover her unparalleled disasters which weighed down her patriotic sons. Nor could he (Mr. P. Howard) forget that, in 1780, at the time of Lord George Gordon's riots, it was not to the regular army, but mainly to the Northumberland militia, that this metropolis owed its safety. He was ready to let the responsibility of the proposed measure rest upon the Executive Government, and to incur any popular odium which night accrue to himself for supporting it.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. P. Howard) that the course which he is about to take is far more consistent than that which has been announced by some of the hon. Members who preceded him. Amid the various rival schemes on the paper to-day, and among the different 1085 objections that have been urged to the measure, I have been particularly struck and gratified to find that no hon. Member has attempted to grapple with the proposition urged in terms so remarkable in that letter of the Duke of Wellington, in 1847—a proposition which has been adverted to this evening by my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Newdegate), and which on more than one occasion has been urged on the consideration of Parliament by the noble Lord who was at the head of the late Government, and which has now been brought forward by the present Ministry—namely, that the defences of this country are not in such a state as in common prudence they ought to be. I do not know how far the hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth (Sir R. Peel) is to be considered an exception; but I am sure he will forgive me if I say that, supposing that to be the hon. Baronet's view, I must look to the Duke of Wellington's opinion as of more weight than the view which the hon. Baronet has submitted to the House on this question. Looking to the state of Europe, and to the condition of the internal defences of this country, I think there are few persons, if any, who will deny that in common prudence we are bound to place those defences in a more satisfactory state than that in which they now are. I believe I may say with equal confidence, that on both sides of the House, and undoubtedly among the leading political men of this country, there does prevail a very general opinion that the most constitutional and best mode of providing for defence is, in some mode or other, by the old and tried one of a militia force. I must confess that I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. P. Peel), with great surprise. The hon. Gentleman was a Member of the late Government, one of those Gentlemen who sat behind the noble Lord opposite, when from this side of the House he urged in strong and eloquent terms a proposition on the subject of the militia, to which he took no exception. The hon. Gentleman was at that time a supporter of the late Government, and was, I suppose, prepared to support their measure by his vote; yet now the hon. Member declares that he is wholly opposed to the very principle of a militia. The hon. Member for Richmond (Mr. Rich), who tonight seconded the Amendment in a speech in which he declared that although he differed from the gallant Officer who moved it, he was prepared to vote that the Bill be 1086 read a second time this day three months, he also was a Member of the late Government, and prepared, I suppose, to vote with them on the occasion I have referred to. That, Sir, is some what encouraging to Her Majesty's present Ministers, for it shows the effect of good discipline—that those hon. Members were prepared to support the Government although they were opposed to a militia. One of the objections of the hon. Member for Leominster to a militia was, that it would encroach on the industrious habits of the country. I think this mode of opposing the measure is open to the strongest objection. The first duty of the State, and of every citizen of the State, is to take care that property be protected—as that duty was involved in the principle of a militia. If the hon. Gentleman will look to several countries in Europe—above all, if he will look to the United States, a country which, above all lands, he will admit to be a land of freedom, and one in which the rights and habits of industry are cultivated and cared for as much as in any other nation, he will find that in that country, for the sake of the commonwealth and the common interests of the country, a very stringent militia law exists. For the most part the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken in this debate did not object to the broad principle that our defences should be strengthened; but they put forward a variety of proposals, differing from each other, and rather tending to show, not that there is any serious fault in the measure of Her Majesty's Ministers, but that Gentlemen opposite are disposed to make any objection which they can. The hon. and gallant Gentleman moved the Amendment in a speech which, in the first part, went strongly to support the measure of Her Majesty's Government—with his long experience as a military man he was not prepared, he could not get up and state that the defences of this country were in his judgment what they ought to be. The only course open to him, therefore, was to draw a comparison between the present measure and the measure of the noble Lord. One, he said, was general, the other local; under one the men were not to be moved out of their districts, in the other they were; by the one the period of service was to be four years, by the other it was to be five years. Thus between such paltry points a broad question for improving the defences of our common country was attempted to be met; and then the 1087 hon. and gallant Gentleman, acknowledging that our forces are not such as to enable us to defend all points of attack, suggested the strengthening our defences by recalling the troops from our colonies. Now, I hope and trust the House is not prepared to take that most objectionable course. It is not a patriotic way of arguing the question to say that because we are weak here, we should, to strengthen ourselves at one point, weaken our defences at a distance. I am sure this view would not find acceptance either with the House or with any very large number of the people out of it. The hon. Member for Richmond, though he differed from the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster, offered an argument which I confess I heard with surprise from a Gentleman professing popular views on political questions, The hon. Member said that we ought to be afraid of placing arms in the hands of the people; that disturbances and riots might arise, and then we might regret having placed arms in the hands of the people. I must beg to tell the hon. Gentleman that I have no such fears. Nor can I subscribe to the other objection of the hon. Member, and which I have seen adopted into some petitions, that if we embody the militia on the plan proposed, we should only encourage drunkenness and bad habits among the loose arid debauched portion of the population. It is impossible to say from what class the volunteers might be obtained. It may be that not the best characters may be induced by the bounty to come forward. But even if that should he so, I put it to the sense of any man whether the beerhouse was not open to those men at the present moment, and whether the habits of military discipline were calculated to make them worse subjects or worse citizens? Amongst the variety of schemes on the paper, the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Cobden), the benefit of whose views we have not had to-night, seems to say that he does not wish to postpone the Bill altogether—he does not seem to differ upon the principle, but leaves it to be understood that he thinks it better to put any measure on the subject off to the next Parliament. And then comes, to the greatest surprise of all, the notice of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. J. Wilson), that any addition to our military force should be in the shape of an addition to our regular Army. I read this Amendment with very great surprise, and I think I can picture to myself 1088 the language and the manner in which such a proposal would have been received on the other side of the House, if Her Majesty's Government had come down to Parliament, and said that they thought the defences of the country were not such as they ought to be, and that, therefore, they recommended an addition of 20,000 men to the regular Army. I, for one, should have the greatest objection to that mode of obtaining the object which the Government has in view. I do not mean to say that our regular Army in various parts of the world is as strong as I should wish to see it; but looking merely to the security of our own shores, I think that object will be better attained by the embodiment of a militia, than by a comparatively small addition to the regular Army. It has been forcibly urged that an addition of 10,000 men to the line would cost as much as would give the country a force of 80,000 or 100,000 militiamen. Besides this argument, there was that which had been urged by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), namely, that when a portion of the regular Army has been disbanded it cannot be re-embodied; whereas that could be done with the militia, and without any expense until it was embodied. I will remind the House also, that, looking at past experience, no force is more to be easily recruited, or can be collected with more expedition, than the militia. I think these arguments ought to be conclusive in favour of the proposition of Her Majesty's Government, as compared with the project of an addition to the standing Army. I have not heard, on this occasion, any argument put forward upon what are called the principles of the Peace Association, which are generally advocated by the hon. Member for the West Riding, who contends that all national disputes should be referred to arbitration, and that trade is a better weapon than arms. I can understand Gentlemen who entertain these views objecting to any plan like the present; but those who admit that this great country is not defended as it ought to be, ought to put forward some stronger argument for rejecting the measure of the Government, than any which have been yet urged. I maintain that the proposal of Her Majesty's Government is more free free from objection than any other that can be proposed for the revival of the militia. The noble Lord opposite has proposed more than once, with the concurrence of Members on this side that the militia should be embodied. In 1089 1848 the noble Lord came down to the House and made a proposal to that effect; though I am sorry to say that the noble Lord afterwards abandoned that proposal on financial grounds; but the noble Lord distinctly stated, both then and afterwards, that the state of Europe made it desirable that the militia should be re-embodied. This year the noble Lord made the same statement, and met with no opposition from this side. The only difference which arose during the present Session related to the principle on which that re-embodiment should take place. We supported the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, and expressed our disapprobation of a local militia, which was only called into existence in the beginning of the present century; but to the noble Lord's proposal for a militia we made no objection whatever. The Government trusted that, according to their plan, the volunteers will be so numerous that there will be no occasion to resort to the ballot. We have brought forward a plan which we believe will strengthen the defences of the country by a large reserve, in the most economical manner, and with the least possible derangement to the industry of the community. I hope that if the Bill is to be opposed, it will be met by some arguments of a graver character, and more worthy of attention, than those which the House has yet heard. The Government have brought forward on their own responsibility the measure they think best, and it will be for the House to say whether they will take upon themselves the responsibility of continuing the defenceless state in which the country now stands — a state rendered more important by the present critical position of affairs in Europe. A grave responsibility rests upon the House. At all events the Government will have discharged its duty; and I, for one, am not prepared to accept the responsibility of withdrawing the measure which has been proposed.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, if I were one of those who think that the country requires no additional defences, I should probably be ready to consent to the second reading of this Bill. I might say that although the measure was not required—although it would cause a waste of money — although it was a needless effort—yet as no great mischief can arise from it, and as the Government had brought it forward on their responsibility, I was willing that it should be read a second 1090 time, and on their responsibility I would leave it to rest. But it is because I feel that the country requires further defences —because I think that its defences ought to be better organised than they now are, that I cannot consent to the second reading of this Bill. Sir, I oppose the Bill on the ground that I believe it would prove, as a measure of defence, an utter delusion, because I am convinced that we should find at the end of a year or two that it had utterly failed to give any security to the country, that I object to the adoption of such a measure by Parliament. I object to the Bill for the same reason which would induce me to object to putting into the hands of infantry muskets which would burst, or into the hands of cavalry swords which would break. I object to the Bill, because, if you are not providing for the efficient defence of the country, it is doing mischief to persuade Parliament and the country that you are providing for the defence of the country. Now, Sir, I must beg the House to listen to me while I state what I conceive to be the danger to be encountered, and what is wanting for that purpose in the present measure. I wish to state what I think is the danger to be encountered, because I do not wish to be mixed up with those who entertain apprehensions of the sudden arrival in this country of 50,000 hostile troops in a single night, without notice of any kind being received in this country; or that we shall hear of an army marching up to London without our having had any previous symptoms of hostility. These are notions which are founded upon panic, rather than on reasonable calculation. Sir, I proceed only on the ground that we have near us a powerful nation with which we have been engaged in war four times during the last century. About a century ago we went to war with France, because she wished to obtain possession of our American colonies. About twenty years later we again engaged in war with France, because she was disposed to defend our American possessions which had declared themselves independent of us; in 1793 we once more went to war with France, because democracy prevailed in that country, and we feared the spreading of republican principles. In 1804 we engaged in hostilities with France, because she was then subject to a powerful and despotic Sovereign, and we dreaded the spirit of conquest with which that Sovereign was possessed. I cannot believe that national feeling has so much changed, 1091 that the passions of nations are so much assuaged, as to leave no probability of a war arising between the two countries. I cannot believe that France will readily enter into war with this country, but still I cannot say it is impossible. Some preparation could no doubt be made, but the question is whether we should have, in case hostilities broke out, that time which we have hitherto had for preparation against invasion. Then the question arises—what will you do to protect yourself against invasion, in the event of hostilities occurring? Those who look to the history of former wars will find that they occurred more than once at a time when we were ill prepared for hostilities; when our naval and military establishments were at an exceedingly low point; and that it was not until the second or third year of the war that we were able to make any great efforts against the enemy with whom we had to contend. Can we say that we shall have equal time for preparation now? If we examine what has been going on in the world of late years, I am afraid we must come to the conclusion that the arts of war as well as those of peace have been much improved; and it is the opinion of all professional men that the operations of the armed force of nations will be more speedy and at the same time more destructive than they were formerly. If that be the case, if that statement cannot be denied, it will not be sufficient to refer to the fortunate chances which have hitherto saved this country from invasion; it is not sufficient to refer to what we have done in former wars, to the safety of this island, to its immunity from attacks, to the forces by which invasions have been repelled, to the forces of the elements, which have no longer that power which they had in 1804 and 1805 to repel an invading force. Steam has now triumphed over the elements. All these precedents fail us, and we are free to confess that the means of invasion are now much more in the hands of those who are now disposed to make war. Well, then, Sir, if that is the case, what should he the means by which we should endeavour to meet any attack? But here let me say again, as I should not wish to exaggerate the causes of hostility, more especially the present causes, so I do not wish to exaggerate the sort of invasion to which we might be exposed. I believe that if armies of 60,000, or 80,000, or even 50,000 men were to be prepared, that that preparation must 1092 take a considerable time, and that we should have the means of preventing any such invasion taking place. But there might be a much less force. There might be 5,000, 10,000, or 15,000 men landed at some part of the coast, and at the same time there might he 4,000 or 5,000 landed by steamers on some other part of the coast. Well, then, the question arises, what force have we to meet such attacks? and the answer must be, although my hon. and gallant Friend near me seems to think that our force is much greater than I estimate it—that we have not a sufficient force to meet the circumstances of the case. It appears that we have, including the Guards, but 24,000 infantry in Great Britain, and 17,000 in Ireland, in all 41,000. As to bringing over these 17,000 troops from Ireland, I think any Executive Government would hardly venture on such a measure, seeing that, if there was an invasion of this country, nothing would be more likely than that it would be followed very soon by an invasion of Ireland also. To do so would he taking a most improvident course, and one which would probably be attended with very calamitous results. I must come, then, to the conclusion that the 24,000 infantry in Great Britain, and the 17,000 infantry in Ireland, with a force not very considerable of cavalry, is not sufficient to meet the evil with which we should have to contend. Here I must, at the hazard of wearying the House on that subject, refer to the measure which the late Government proposed, with the view of providing the means of additional defence. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, as well as some others who preceded him, seemed to be in some doubt as to the character of that measure, saying at one time that there was but little difference between that measure and the present—though, if it be so, I may ask how was it that they would not allow the late Government to introduce their Bill, there being so slight a difference between them?—or, if they take the other side and say there is a difference of principle—which, indeed, I believe to be the true state of the case—between this measure and the one which we were prepared to introduce, then how can they object to our viewing the measure with as much repugnance as they received ours? Now, in considering this measure which I proposed to introduce, it seemed to me, and to those who approved of it, that there are two ways in which men may become very good 1093 soldiers and fit to defend their country. The one is when men of high spirit and character, moved by some strong religious or political feeling, or excited by the love of their country, or by any danger imminently threatening their country, are induced to become soldiers. Of that description of men was the force which Cromwell, with his usual sagacity and knowledge of mankind, raised and commanded himself, and which he brought to a state of discipline that enabled him to defeat the bravest and most spirited Cavaliers of the Royal force. Of such a description was the force of 400,000 men, who, at the beginning of this century, started up as volunteers to defend this island against what they believed would be the invasion of a despot who would destroy our independence. Of such a description of force were those who of late years, in Hungary, fought in defence of their country when they were attacked by the whole force of Austria and Russia. Most powerful armies have been raised in that way; but there is another mode in which our soldiers have usually been raised, and our army constructed; and that mode is by taking young men of unsettled dispositions, who have a love of military adventure, who have not, perhaps, any decided character, but who, by military discipline and habits of subordination, are brought to be excellent soldiers, and ready to perform the greatest feats of arms. With respect to this latter description of character, we have some information from an authority who has been quoted to-night, and whose words I will lay before the House. It is a man who you would have thought was commanding-such troops as I have mentioned—men excited to the greatest degree of enthusiasm by the danger to which their country was subjected—I mean the Americans during the war of independence. Washington says of men like these—"It takes you two or three months to bring new men acquainted with their duty; it takes a longer time to bring a people of the temper and genius of these into such a subordinate way of thinking as is necessary for a soldier." And, again, "To bring men to a proper degree of subordination is not the work of a day, a month, or even a year." To the same effect, in one of Mr. Pitt's speeches at the commencement of this century, we find him saying that six weeks or two months is the least that any military man requires to make a soldier. Now, these being the different ways in which 1094 soldiers are made, our Bill went on the principle of taking men of spirit, and of independent character, and asking them without any bounty to become part of the militia force of the country; but as this kind of service is a very great hardship on the community, soften it as you will, seeing that it diverts men from the walks of industry, we endeavoured to temper its conditions with every sort of alleviation that we could devise. In the first place, we said we will not take married men—we will not take men from the age of 25 to 35, most of them married and settled in life—but we will take young men from 20 to 21 years of age. For the first year we proposed to take men from 20 to 23, but after the present year no man should be liable to the ballot until after he had attained the age of 20, or after he had attained that of 21. This made a great limit, and confined the ballot to a class of men who were not settled in life, to those who might undertake service for a short time and afterwards engage in industrial occupations. In the second place, we said, these men in ordinary circumstances should not be moved out of their own counties. We did not propose to take them to a distance; but, in the third place, we said this, that even in the case of invasion, or of imminent danger of invasion, they should be taken for six months, or at most for one year only, to defend their country. Now, considering the age of these men, and the time they were to serve, I think there was much alleviation of hardship in these three conditions; and that you might expect, in the case of invasion, that such men would not object to go for one year away from their homes; they would then have their places supplied by the regular Army, and would then be able to return and take to such trades and occupations as they wished to follow. So convinced was I of the necessity of putting in conditions of this kind, and not resorting to the regular militia, with its old form of ballot, that when the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton proposed to resort to the old form of militia, I declared at once I would be no party to introducing such a measure. I said it was no slight or insignificant alteration that was proposed to the House, but a change of the whole principle of the measure; that I would not introduce it myself, and, if introduced by another, that I would feel myself at liberty to oppose the second reading. Now let us consider the measure that has been introduced by the Govern- 1095 ment; it is a measure the more worthy of our consideration, because it is the first coin we have had from the golden ore from which the noble Earl at the head of the Government seemed to think he would derive such great riches. I must say, however, that in the present case there is considerable alloy, and that he will hardly find it of such value as he supposes. In the first place, this measure loses the advanage of either of the principles which I have mentioned. What I say is, either form a force that you can depend upon from their high spirit and great love of country, or on whose enthusiasm and moral energy, from whatever source, you can rely; or else form soldiers by dint of discipline, not caring from what source you get them. But in the present case you have neither the one advantage nor the other. In the first instance, the motive you propose is entirely mercenary. You recommend that 6l. of bounty shall be given to those who volunteer. By offering this 6l. you will naturally get those men who are most in want, who are most needy, who have the least settled habits, and who have the least prospect of rising in the world, or obtaining sufficient wages to enable them to live in comfort. Such men, no doubt, do make excellent soldiers; they are every day making excellent soldiers; but it is because they are subjected to the discipline of the army. When a man who indulges in a restless disposition, and habits of idleness or drunkenness, is brought under the excellent discipline of the army, he is taught that when on duty he must be sober, when on guard he must be vigilant, and that at all times he must be obedient; and thus the restless and unsettled young man of 18 becomes at 20 an excellent and obedient soldier. What he becomes, indeed, has been seen very lately in the accounts we have of those brave men who, when the unfortunate vessel in which they were was sinking, willingly sacrificed their own lives rather than run the risk of endangering the lives of women and children. Such is the soldier made by discipline. But you expressly avoid this advantage. Having got the man whom you can obtain easily by money, whom you may pick up where you will—for there is nothing in the Bill to say he must be a settled inhabitant of any particular place—having taken that man you drill him for twenty-one days, and then let him off to have recourse to his former habits, and to relapse into that unsettled and restless mode of life that 1096 induced him to enlist. The first impression that strikes one is, that this man will never be a good soldier, and that in the case of your calling him out to drill any day you may probably not find him; that the same habits and want of money that induced him to accept your bounty has led him to go somewhere else—to work, perhaps, on a railway in Canada, or to serve, it may be, in the militia of Illinois or Arkansas. Let me ask this House, is that a force upon which this country can safely rely? Now, supposing that some 80,000 men landed in a distant part of this island, and suppose that the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces should wish to keep what army he had at no great distance from the capital and from our southern coast, would it be safe or wise to collect 10,000 or 12,000 men of this character whom to oppose to a force disciplined in the highest degree, who had been in Algeria, in the actual practice of war, and under an able commander, prepared to attack any army that may be brought before them? I believe you will be totally deceived if you expect good service from such men. It would be quite a different thing if you had the men whom we proposed by our Bill— men of a very different character, settled in their different places of abode, and who, when drawn for the service, would enter upon it with a proper motive and spirit. But then there is another part of the Bill to which I must refer—that which contains the ballot. I should say of the Bill that it consists of two parts, one of which is inefficient, and the other oppressive. All the beginning part, which offers this money of 6l. for bounty, or 2s. 6d. a month for volunteers, by which you might get a pauper militia, is certainly not oppressive, but would be inefficient. But when you come to the other part of the Bill—to the ballot—you have then a ballot comprehending persons from 18 to 35 years of age, which would therefore interfere with persons engaged in all the various occupations of the country, and which, takes the married men who are already successful in that calling of life in which they are skilled; in the case of the weaver, for instance, or any other man who has some skill in the industrious arts, you take him from his occupation and send him to serve for five years as a soldier, and thereby inflict a very great hardship on him. No man can well deny that to take a man of 30, 32, or 34 years of age, who is already settled and prospering in life, and to 1097 tell him that for the next five years he should be a soldier, that that is a great interference with the ordinary occupations of life; and nothing but the greatest emergency could justify you in so acting. I am so convinced of this, that I am persuaded, as I stated at the commencement, that you will not have tried your measure for a year without finding that the country will resist such needless oppression, and oblige the Parliament, by their remonstrances, to repeal it. I am now talking in reference to the contingency which I think most likely to happen, that though you might have a great deal of money to expend, and though, possibly, you might pay 300,000l. in the way of bounty in the present year for 50,000 men, yet, in the next year, you would find that you would not have a force of 80,000 men, which you expect, but would be obliged to have recourse to the ballot to supply the numbers. These, therefore, are reasons which induce me to think that the present Bill is very improperly framed for its purposes; and I am the more inclined to say be, because almost every one of the propositions in the Bill are propositions appertaining to the old militia, which the late Government considered and deliberated on, and deliberately rejected. They felt the objections I have stated, and they felt that they would be so great and so overwhelming when represented in this House, that the Government would not be able to defend such a measure; therefore the late Government refused to bring forward a measure containing provisions of that kind. The present Government, however, somewhat thoughtlessly, and without entering into the consideration of all the circumstances I have referred, and without reflection, have adopted all those propositions. A question, and a very serious one, then occurs, and it is this: Supposing it to be true, as I say, that we cannot be exempted from the danger of war, and if war arises that we cannot have the same preparation to meet it as we formerly have had—supposing some force should be required for the defence of the country (and this measure does not give you the prospect of such a force), what is the course which this House ought to pursue to supply the deficiency? I say, in the first place, that the matter is, no doubt, one for the consideration of the Government. It would not do, as the lion. Gentleman who last spoke seemed to imply, if the House rejected this particular measure, with all the par- 1098 ticular clauses, objectionable as they are— it would not do for the Government then to say that, therefore, this House does not care for the defence of the country. It is the bounden duty of the Ministers of the Crown either to produce a measure which they think sufficient for the defence of the country, or to take the course which I took, and say, "We will no longer continue to be responsible for the government of the country." We all know that is not the course which the present Government mean to adopt. The noble Lord at the head of the Government has said that he was willing to submit to any humiliation, to any degree of affront and mortification— ["No, no!"]—to any degree of mortification—rather than advise the dissolution of Parliament sooner than he thought it ought to take place. That is what the noble Earl stated, and I am going to make an inference—my own—that he intends to assemble Parliament again in October, and until that Parliament is assembled he will not think, under any circumstances, of resigning his present situation. In short, it would appear that the present Ministers are like pheasants, not to be killed until after the 1st of October. That is their position; and no vote of this House can affect their official situations. Then, I say, that they cannot get rid of the other obligation to propose such measures to the House as they think necessary for the defence of the kingdom. If they cannot— which I do not think they can—say that the present means for the defence of the nation are ample and sufficient, they are therefore bound to declare, after what they have stated, if this measure does not suit the House, that they have other measures in preparation which will he adequate to the exigency. In respect to the little I have to say, I speak, of course, only as an individual Member, without the sanction of any one but myself; but, for my part, I should not recommend the Government to make a large increase to the standing Army. I do, however, think that there are other measures, partly suggested this evening—and some which have already been partly considered—by which a much larger force might be engaged for the defence of the country than exists at present. I think a much larger force might be obtained in a little time from a proper organisation of the pensioners. That was dwelt on by my hon. Friend who spoke early in the debate, who I think assumed that we might obtain a more immediate 1099 force from this resource than from the militia. Supposing that the House has rejected the present Bill, and that the Government will not propose that plan of militia which I sketched out at the commencement of the Session (for, if that plan were proposed, I should give it my support, from whatever quarter it might proceed, as being the best measure), I then have to consider what other measures should be adopted. I should say that you cannot for some years obtain a sufficient force of pensioners, even by giving a discharge with a pension to those soldiers who have served fourteen or fifteen years; and I should say it would be advisable to have a force of some 10,000 or 12,000 in the shape of an embodied militia. The present Bill is not a measure for embodying militia, except in case of war or imminent danger thereof; but if you had 10,000 or 12,000 embodied militia regularly enrolled in Great Britain and Ireland, drilled and disciplined, then you have a force as serviceable for the object in view as the regular Army. But it might be said, that if you have this force, it would be at the same expense as the regular Army, and therefore would it not be better to have an increase of the regular Army at once? I, however, think that there would be a great advantage in having the embodied militia in preference to an increase of the regular Army. In the first place, the increase of the standing Army is liable to the objection made by an hon. and gallant Member some time since, that if the Army should be augmented by 10,000 men for one year, the next year might be a year of distress, and then there would arise a great cry for economy, and we should be called on for the reduction of that force. I do not believe, however, that if you had a regular force of militia such as I have mentioned, the principle of the militia would be abandoned, or that you would be asked to reduce that force, unless you had other means of national defence. Again, when you increase the regular Army, a great part of that increase, unless you should make provisions to the contrary, would be sent to regiments in the colonies, and, perhaps, to colonies which do not require further defence, and thus the increased number of the soldiery would not be for the defence of the United Kingdom. I certainly am not for diminishing to any great extent the force maintained in the colonies; but still the 1100 plan adopted by the late Government, and which they were about to carry further, might be proceeded with; for instance, you may diminish your force from time to time in certain colonies not being military garrisons, and thereby obtain some 6,000 or 7,000 men additional for the defence of the United Kingdom. I have gone over the garrisons in our Colonies, putting down the same number of men as at present for our military stations at Gibraltar, Malta, and Corfu, and have put down an increase for the Mauritius, which I think too small; and still doing that, but concentrating our troops, I find that in no very long time 6,000 or 7,000 men might be added to the regular Army in this country. These, with the 10,000 militia I have just referred to, and the 4,000 men proposed to be added to the Army in this year, would make a force of 21,000 men in addition to the present force; so that, instead of the 41,000 infantry now in Great Britain and Ireland, we should have a force of 62,000 men. I think that we may then assume that the 15,000 pensioners may, without any great difficulty, be increased in no long time to 20,000, and so by these means you would have a force of 80,000 men; and I think, with the artillery and cavalry, you might maintain a force of about 100,000 men in the United Kingdom. This calculation is based upon the supposition that a certain amount of embodied militia would be established; and then there is no part of the force I have mentioned, the whole of which would be effective, which might not be used at any moment, at the commencement of war, for the defence of the kingdom. I believe, also, our forces could be rendered more efficient by better arrangements with respect to our military depôts. Those who see the estimates of our forces on paper do not consider, perhaps, that part of those forces, consisting of small bodies of troops, and sometimes the skeletons of regiments just come home, exhausted by the fevers and the unhealthiness of other climates, is hardly fit for any military operations; but I think that a better arrangement of our depôts, and the giving them officers permanently attached to them, might make that part of the force more efficient than it is at present. In this way, I think you might obtain a much larger force for the defence of the kingdom than you have at present. It appears to me that the United Kingdom is the citadel of this great empire, and that therefore you ought to 1101 take means to secure it from any danger of surprise and injury. It has so happened that in the dangers to which this country has been exposed, the winds and storms have defended it, and that adverse invaders have been driven off by the force of the gales they encountered; but that in the case of the only invasion intended for the happiness of England, that of William III., the elements favoured it. In the present state of science and improvement, however, an enemy attacking our shores would no longer have to depend on the favour of the winds, and we cannot shut our eyes to the possibility that some eight or ten steamers might not be collected, carrying 1,500 or 2,000 meneach, prepared to take the chance of an expedition against this country. I am persuaded, if such an event should happen, that the injury done would be far more than the immediate loss; that the people of this country, brave as they are, would be struck by so unexpected an occurrence, and if any long time should elapse before the invading force were captured or driven from our shores, that the apprehensions entertained by persons engaged in commerce and peaceful pursuits would cause an irreparable injury. Having this persuasion, I was anxious to see a good measure of defence provided. But I am extremely sorry that the present Government have brought forward a measure which I consider so objectionable. It was my intention to have supported the second reading of this Bill, in the hope that it might have been amended in Committee, and made a Bill tending to the security of the country. If that had been the case I should have been glad to have voted with the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln (Colonel Sibthorp), who has taken that view of the merits of this Bill, that although objectionable in some prospects, he is in favour of seeing it go into Committee. But I am persuaded, that at the present time especially, while it would be most difficult to frame amendments fulfilling my views, and which yet should be consonant to the spirit of the Bill, it would, on the other hand, be exceedingly difficult for the Government to accept a measure which would require the total alteration which I think this one requires. I have, therefore, come to the opinion, thinking the measure totally futile and inefficacious, believing that it will not be a good and efficient defence to the country, that my best course is to vote for the Amendment, and against the further progress of the Bill.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I had hoped that when this House was called upon to consider a measure which had been admitted in its principle at least, if not in its details—in its object, if not in its provisions—by all parties, by both sides of the House—by the Government that was, and by the Government that is, to be essential for the best interests of the country, that that measure would have been discussed solely with a view to the defence and security of the realm, and that no party feeling would have mixed itself up with the discussion of the present night. I confess, then, Sir, it is with much surprise, and with still greater pain, that I have witnessed the line which the noble Lord and those of his followers who have spoken, have thought it their duty to take on the present occasion. The noble Lord, indeed, more practised in Parliamentary warfare, has stated his objections with much greater discretion and skill. But his intended rejection of the measure is not the less positive and pronounced. But the two hon. Gentlemen (Members of the former Government) who spoke in the early part of this debate, advanced arguments and stated objections which went as strongly against that measure which no doubt they would have supported if the last Government had continued in power, as they could possibly apply to the measure which is now under discussion; and I must say I wonder the noble Lord should have finished the statement he made without reproaching his hon. Friends for their desertion of that standard under which they had fought under his command. I must beg to set right at once an assertion which the noble Lord has repeated to-night, and which he has often stated before—that he was prevented by the Motion I made and carried from bringing in the Bill which he had stated his intention to propose. Sir, my Motion produced no such effect, except in so far as it determined the noble Lord to resign. If I had proposed that his Resolution should be read that day six months—if I had proposed a negative to the Resolution—that no Bill should be brought in—then it would have been true I had opposed and prevented the bringing in of the Bill. But the object and effect of my Motion was simply to make the title of the Bill in harmony with the provisions the noble Lord himself had stated; and therefore I deny the assertion that the Motion I made prevented the noble Lord and his Government from bringing in his Bill. The late Government, after ma- 1103 turely considering the state of the national defences, came deliberately to the opinion that a militia force of some kind was necessary for the defence of the realm. But we hare just now heard from the noble Lord that a general militia force is not the proper force—that it would be far better to have a small amount of embodied militia —better to add to your pensioners, and various other methods, by which he proposed to have 100,000 men in the permanent pay of the United Kingdom for the purpose of defending the realm. That was not the measure which the last Government, upon full deliberation, proposed, and which being altered by my Amendment, they thought the alteration was of such paramount importance that they could not think they could longer, with credit to themselves, remain in the administration of the affairs of the country. With regard to the matter itself which has called forth this discussion, I must say I think great ignorance prevails in the country, both as to the inadequate state of our defences, and as to the reality of the danger to which we are exposed. The noble Lord has very fully explained how impossible it is, notwithstanding the peaceful nature — the friendly nature—of our relations with foreign Powers, to reckon with confidence that some unforeseen event may not, from year to year, take place which may put you in a position in which you must either resent insult or injury, or submit to the humiliation of invasion. Many persons out of doors who discuss this matter seem to think the question of peace or war depends on the opinion of one party alone—that it is in the power of any country to decide whether they they should remain peaceable, or should take up arms in their defence. But that question depends, not upon one party alone, but upon those from whom aggression may be expected; and it has been stated by many hon. Gentlemen, and the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), has been reminded to-night, that he himself enumerated various occasions in the course of the last few years in which this country was brought into a position in which war had become unavoidable. Now, if war be an event against the possibility of which you cannot provide, then we must consider whether as to that country especially which, without any unfriendly feelings towards it, or without at all anticipating the early arrival of an event that may place us in hostility with it, we must nevertheless regard as one of the Powers 1104 with which possibly we may be involved in war; and we must consider whether circumstances have not occurred of late years which might have some effect on the offensive means by which we may be threatened with attack. I have heard many say, "Why alarm yourselves about the chances of war: we have never been invaded since Heaven knows when? We have during the last thirty or forty years been in perfect tranquillity. Bonaparte tried to invade us in 1804, and we all know how difficult were his preparations to make, and that it would have been easy to have defeated them." But when they refer to that former state of things as a proof we need be under no alarm as to the possibility of invasion now, it is as if a person were to tell me that, some thirty or forty years ago, it took three days and nights to come from Edinburgh to London, and that, therefore, it is impossible to come now in twelve hours; that, because, thirty or forty years ago a person in Dublin was for weeks without receiving any direct intelligence from London, therefore it was impossible now communications might be transmitted, as I have no doubt they will be, from one town to the other in as many minutes as formerly it took days, especially in the prevalence of the westerly winds. It augurs an entire forgetfulness of the improvements made in modern times for any man to argue from what happened thirty or forty years ago what might happen now. The application of steam to navigation has in effect made a bridge over the Channel, and has given the means of quick attack—an attack on a scale of magnitude such as did not exist before. Again, it is said we should know beforehand if any preparations were being made. I say you might not know; because, by the internal arrangements of railways, the distribution of troops are such that 50,000 or 60,000 men might be collected at Cherbourg before you knew anything of the matter; and those who have seen what those immense works are must be perfectly aware that such a number of men could walk from the quay into their vessels as easily as they could walk into their barrack-yard. A single night would bring them over, and all our naval preparations, be they what they might, could not be relied on to prevent the arrival of such an expedition, as no batteries or gunboats we might have on our shores could be relied on to prevent the landing of the expedition when it had arrived. The history of all times and of all nations, and the 1105 history of our own nation in especial, proves I that a large force, when it is determined to land, will land against all opposition whatever. Besides, you can reckon that the invading force shall be one, and directed against which one point only? There are many points against which several expeditions may concurrently sail; one portion of the force might land in Ireland, another on a distant part of our own island, while a third, designed to march upon the metropolis, might land on the coast at any point convenient for the purpose. Our limited garrisons and troops would he, in such a case, divided and distracted; if we heard that an expedition had landed in Ireland, everybody would say, "Send all the forces to Ireland," and then an expedition landing on the southern coast would not find a force adequate to resist it. I therefore say, that the present amount of the standing Army, adding the pensioners—excellent and well-disciplined troops, but who from their condition, being men past the prime of life, have not the required activity of frame—and granting the extent of the augmentation of these, which, however, has been greatly exaggerated—but, including all, regular troops and pensioners, the amount of our standing Army, I say, is not sufficient to meet an emergency of that kind. As to the marines, on whom some Gentlemen count, they would be required to go on board ship, and cannot, therefore, be reckoned on as part of the home garrison. There are two ways in which the deficiency I speak of may be made good. We may add materially to our standing Army; but I, for one, am utterly opposed to any such augmentation. To make that addition to our regular Army would require an amount of expenditure which the country would not bear, and which the country ought not to bear. The other way is the organisation of a militia, meaning by that an army of reserve, or body of men drilled and trained only for a portion of the year, and which would not cost us one-tenth of what an equal number of regular troops would cost; so that for the expenditure for which we might have tin additional, say, 8,000 men to the regular Army, we might have 80,000 militiamen organised and partially trained. Adopt the plan of adding the 8,000 regular troops, and what would happen? I'll tell you what would happen; just the same thing would happen to these 8,000 men that would happen to the colonial troops, 1106 who, being, as it is said, redundant where they are, it is proposed to have home. The hon. Member for Montrose, or some other Gentleman, has proposed to have a large proportion of the troops now in the colonies sent home, as being unnecessary in the colonies; but let them come home, and the hon. Gentleman would next propose not to keep them as an addition to the home garrison, but to disband and get rid of them immediately. And so it would be with the 8,000 supplementary regular troops I have pointed to. Supposing the House, feeling deeply for the moment the inadequacy of our permanent defences, were to agree to add 8,000 or 10,000 men to the regular Army; you would keep them this year, perhaps next year, but in the third year there would recur a feeling of economy; and Gentlemen would say, "We have had no invasion; these men were got up for invasion; as there is no invasion we don't want them;" they would be disbanded, and then, for all purposes of defence, they would be just as though they had never been under arms. They will be gone, and no traces of them will be left. But if you have 80,000 militiamen trained this year and the next, even supposing that in the third year some motives of economy, a bad harvest, a defective revenue, or some other occurrence, should induce the House to withdraw the annual vote for the training of this militia, we should still have a valuable result for our expenditure; we should have 80,000 men, partially trained, armed, equipped, en-regimented, enrolled, and liable to be called out at ten days' notice, should danger present itself. I say, therefore, that 80,000 militiamen would be a more valuable addition to our military force than 8,000 men added to the regular Army. For these reasons I am of opinion that this is a good measure. And, really, what is the difference between the present measure and the measure which the late Government made a vital question? The characteristic of the measure of the late Government was, that compulsory service was the rule, and voluntary service the exception. What is the characteristic of the present measure? That voluntary service is the rule, and compulsory service the exception. The ground, therefore, on which the late Government goes in opposing the present measure is, that it is not compulsory enough; that it relies, in the first instance, on voluntary enlistment; 1107 that it does not compel people to serve, and is not, therefore, a measure calculated to meet the occasion. I have heard of a great many meetings in different parts of the country, where objections were urged against the proposed measure; but these objections were not so much against the principle of a militia, but generally turned on the compulsory nature of the service— by which was meant the ballot. The noble Lord says that his ballot differed from the other ballot; but he has not explained in what that difference consists. This is certainly one difference: his ballot is accumulated on one class of the community, whereas the ballot now proposed is not only deferred, but is spread over various ranks. The noble Lord says that his was a discriminative ballot, the result of which would be all good men, moral men, well-conducted men, who would all return home properly to their families when dismissed; whereas the other ballot would produce only bad subjects. I am, myself, quite at a loss to conceive in what respect the noble Lord's ballot is more discriminative than any other or how he can conceive that a plan which proposes a ballot in its nature compulsory, and which only in special instances can be avoided by substitution, can be less oppressive to the country than a ballot which is to be resorted to only in extreme cases, and those oases which in my opinion are not likely to occur at all. I have said—and, by the bye, I must request the House to bear in mind the arguments of those who proposed the last measure—that they were not altogether in harmony with each other, any more than the provisions of the Bill with its title; for while, on the one hand, the measure announced by-the First Minister of the Crown went, at last, on the principle of allowing substitutes to serve, I remember that the right hon. Gentleman, then Secretary at War, and afterwards President of the Board of Control (Mr. Fox Maule) argued at great length, and evidently with a strong force of conviction, against substitution at all, saying that substitutes were good for nothing, were fellows who would pocket the money for becoming substitutes, and then, when they were really wanted, would vanish, and become altogether uncomeatable. Now, I have not such an opinion of Englishmen. I believe you would not find 80,000 men in this country who would take the bounty, and then go off to America. I may, in 1108 the simplicity of my nature, have too good an opinion of people; but I do not believe, making those abatements which must be always made for occasional defaulters in great bodies of the people—there are defaulters even in this body, sometimes, when there is a call of the House—J do not believe that, if you proceed to raise men by voluntary enlistment for this army of reserve or militia—call it what you will —you will find the men who have taken the bounty, who have been enrolled, who have taken the oath of allegiance, would absent themselves from the call of the country in the hour of danger. I therefore look on this measure as one calculated to do essential good to the State. But, even if I thought there were some portions of the measure which might be improved, this would be no reason why I should refuse it a second reading. That would be a reason why I should propose amendments in Committers. But if I believed that the defensive force of the country was inadequate; if I believed, as we have just heard, that occasions may occur in which additional forces would become necessary; if I believed that a militia force was a force desirable to have, and if I had staked my political and legislative existence on a measure to that purpose—I might think a particular militia measure might be better in some respects than the present one is, but I should vote for its second reading and pass it into Committee, in a friendly spirit, with a view to improve it; and I should not endeavour to throw the measure out, or, especially in the existing state and condition of Parliament, postpone, at all events, the initiation of a measure which in its, principle I had proved, by retiring from office on the question, I deemed to be of paramount importance. I do hope that the example which has been set by two Members of the late Government will not be followed by others; I hope there are no other men, who, having been prepared to vote for a measure involving mainly compulsory service, will object to the measure before us because it is mainly on voluntary service; who, having been prepared to vote for a local militia, now object to this measure because it is based on a regular militia. The difference between the measure of the late Government and that of the present Government consists rather in name than in reality; if there be any difference, it is in favour of this measure, inasmuch as 1109 this measure is founded on voluntary enlistment mainly, whereas the other is liable to the object on that its essential basis was that of compulsory service.
§ MR. MOFFATT moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, that after the able speech of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton he should not have presumed to trespass for one moment on the on the Masters, or to convey an impression attention of the House; but the noble Lord the Member for London had done him the honour of making his conduct the subject of comment, and he could not allow his remarks to pass altogether unnoticed. He would tell the noble Lord that, in giving notice of the Motions which he had done on this question, he (Colonel Sibthorp) had done so with no intention of opposing the principle of this Bill, with which he entirely agreed, but rather with the desire to introduce certain amendments into its details that would render the measure more effective. He must be allowed to observe that the noble Lord appeared to him like the dog in the manger, or the old fish woman who, not being able to sell her own fish, cried "stinking fish" to her neigh-hours'.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock till Monday next.