§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee; Mr. Bernal in the chair.
§ Clause 1.
§ MR. JACOB BELL
said, he meant to oppose the Bill under all circumstances, not from any factious motive, but because he had a most unmitigated aversion to the measure. Had any real urgency existed when it was brought forward by the late Government, the whole House would have united for the defence of the country; but instead of that, the opportunity was taken for party discussions, and for bringing about a change in the Government. He thought this was a demonstration justly calculated to excite complaint from our neighbours abroad. It had not been shown that there was any real danger of aggression from the other side of the Channel. It might with greater truth be said that the danger of aggression was on this side only, for certainly we had committed every description of aggression which could be effected by words. He was not alluding to the public papers merely, which everybody knew were apt to take up any topic calculated to create a little excitement in the public mind, but to the speeches made in that House, which had been of such a description that, if any aggression should really be made from across the Channel, it Could hardly be called spontaneous. These 300 debates had a tendency to revive those animosities between England and France which had been excited by the last war, but which were dying out, and which the Exhibition of last year had done so much to extinguish. It appeared to many persons that nothing but brute force was to be considered in the defence of the country; but he could quote in opposition to that opinion the authority of a great statesman who asked, "What are opinions against armies? My answer is, they are stronger than armies if they are founded in justice, and they will prevail against the bayonets of the infantry, the fire of artillery, or the charges of cavalry." Those were the words of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), who was the other night reduced to quote the pamphlet of an anonymous idiot to turn the friends of peace into ridicule.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (enabling field officers in the Army to be appointed to the same rank in the militia without property qualification).
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, he now begged to move the Amendments of which he had given notice. Although he approved of the introduction of the Bill, and greatly preferred it to the measure submitted by the late Government, he objected to any alteration in the condition of the militia force, as it had been fixed by former Acts of Parliament, and he was especially hostile to any provision having for its object the taking of the appointment of the officers out of the hands of the Lord Lieutenants of counties, and vesting it in those of the Secretary of State. He was also decidedly averse to the abolition of those landed qualifications which were provided by former Acts, and which were absolutely necessary for maintaining the efficiency and respectability of the body, and for preserving its constitutional character as a county force. He did not see why these alterations should be made when no dereliction of duty had been or could be alleged on the part either of the Lord Lieutenants of counties, or of the militia officers. It was more likely that men would readily enrol themselves, and more cheerfully endure hardships, in a force commanded by those who resided amongst them, and between whom and themselves there existed feelings of mutual attachment, than if the force were officered by other gentlemen, however respectable or distinguished they might be. To alter the constitution of the force in the manner proposed, would be to 301 cast an undeserved reflection on the Lord Lieutenants of counties, and on the present militia officers; and would, in fact, be to re-model the whole system. He admitted that the militia staff was not now in as efficient a state as it might be; but whose fault was that? If that House, in pursuance of a despicable and most mistaken policy of economy, would, year after year, cut down that which was at first intended to be kept up as a great and creditable national establishment, the fault attaching to any want of efficiency in the force was not fairly to be attributed to the Lord Lieutenants or to the militia officers, but rather to those who could sanction such ill-judged and infatuated economy. This state of things might, however, be easily rectified; and he thought it was the duty of the Government to take steps for that purpose. They had been told by two successive Governments that there was an immediate necessity for a defensive force; and he was not surprised that it should be so after we had coaxed and encouraged into the country, by our Great Exhibition, every foreigner who could scrape together enough of money to bring him to London. We had laid open to them the state of our shipping and the condition of our defences, both naval and military, and it was not to be wondered at that they should have made the best of their opportunity to examine the position of our country, and to acquire such information as might hereafter be used to our detriment. He would have done as much himself had he been a foreigner, living on frogs and sour krout. He did not question that there were some respectable foreigners, and such of them as were so he esteemed; but he admitted that, as a body, he did not much like them, and he was not surprised at the results that had followed from our absurd proceedings in fostering and encouraging them. The House had been assured by military men that a foreign force might be landed on our coast without our having the power to prevent it, though the hon. Members for the West Riding and Manchester (who knew nothing about marching or muskets, and would not stir hand or foot to expel the invaders), as men of peace, had told us that such a thing could never take place. He believed that there was danger; but if it were to be met by a county force, that force must be officered by county gentlemen. He believed that there would be no lack in any county of spirited young men to step forward and offer themselves 302 for enrolment (though not for the sake of the dirty 6l., the offer of which they would regard as an insult); and he believed, too, that if the ballot were necessary, there would be no objection on the part of the English people to assist both with hand and purse those who, from various circumstances, might be indisposed to serve. Why, then, should the Government cast an undeserved reflection upon a body of men who did not deserve it, or upon those who might be disposed to come forward in the various counties? Sir John Moore, Lord Hill, and the Duke of Wellington had all of them borne testimony to the value of the militia officers; and, therefore, without at all wishing to throw any impediment in the way of the passing of this Bill, he must entreat of the Government not to permit any innovation in the old-established and truly constitutional system of officering that force.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that the remarks that had fallen from his hon. and gallant Friend appeared to him to have reference to two points—the appointment of militia officers, and their qualifications. With respect to the appointment of officers, he begged to remind his hon. and gallant Friend that no change whatever was contemplated by the present Bill. The right of appointment was still to remain, as was the case under the old Acts of Parliament, in the hands of the Lord Lieutenants of counties, subject of course to the approval of the Crown; and there was an express provision in the Bill that in the event of the approval of the Crown not being signified within fourteen days, the appointment of the Lord Lieutenant was to be considered as final. As to the question of qualification he would remind the hon. and gallant Member that the provisions of the old Act were, that the colonel should have not less than 1,000l. a year in land; the lieutenant colonel not less than 600l.; the major not less than 400l.; the captain not less than 200l.; and the deputy lieutenant not less than the same sum. Those were the qualifications which were required by the 42 Geo. TIL, c. 90. The object of these regulations appeared to be to secure the independence of the force, and to require its being officered by gentlemen of position and property in the county. Under the new Bill the qualifications of the colonel and lieutenant colonel, and major, would remain precisely as they had been fixed by the statute of George III. But the land qualification of the captain, and of 303 all officers under that rank, would be taken away. The land qualification of the colonel, lieutenant colonel, and major would also be taken away in one event—that of the Lord Lieutenant of the county nominating to those positions gentlemen who had served in the same rank in the Queen's Army, or in the East India Company's service. The object of that alteration must be obvious to the Committee—it was to get good officers to command the militia; and so much had been said of the necessity for making the measure an efficient one, that he was sure the Committee would admit that they would not sacrifice that independence of character which ought to exist, if they took officers so appointed without the property qualification. With regard to the qualification of captains, it was very desirable that they should get young men to serve that office who might not have 200l. a year, in land, for it would be much easier to procure captains in the counties without that qualification, which everybody knew was not possessed by the great majority of young men, even of those who were highly born and highly connected. He thought, therefore, that there was no harm in dispensing with the qualification in the ease of captains.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
understood that the qualification was dispensed with in all cases under the rank of major. [Mr. WALPOLE: Yes.] Then, would the right hon. Gentleman consider this case: An ensign being appointed without a qualification might prove himself a first-rate officer, and rise to the successive grades of lieutenant and captain. Was he then, if he continued to serve with distinction, to be precluded from rising to the rank of major, unless, in the meantime, he acquired the landed qualification? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether he might not dispense with that qualification in the case of officers who had passed through the inferior grades.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he had considered that point, but had found great difficulties in it, and he feared that if the principle of progressive promotion were to be admitted beyond the rank of captain, there would be an end to the land qualification. After the best consideration they could give to the subject, the Government had come to the conclusion that it would be better to attach the old land qualification (unless in the exceptional eases he had mentioned) to the ranks of colonel, lieutenant colonel, and major.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he did not mean that officers who had served in the lower grades should be entitled to promotion to the higher, but merely that they should not be precluded from it on account of their not having a qualification. He thought that the question was well worthy the serious attention of the Government.
said, that, if the qualification of these officers were removed, some regulations ought to made with respect to promotions.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 3 (Provisions requiring Property Qualification repealed, save as to Majors and higher ranks).
§ MR. HUME
moved the insertion of words to the effect, that all the Acts now in existence respecting the militia should be repealed, with the view of consolidating the law to be in force for the future regulation or government of the militia. At present it was almost impossible to ascertain with accuracy what Acts or portions of Acts were in force, and what had been repealed. He had gone into the library the other day along with a friend well acquainted with the subject, and he (Mr. Hume) had asked him to tell him what were the laws actually in force with respect to the militia. His friend produced a book which proved to be an index of the public and general statutes, and showed him three folio pages all filled with the titles of Acts relating to the militia; eight of which, it appeared, were Acts amending the first Act mentioned in the Preamble of the present Bill, namely, 42 Geo. III., c. 90, and related to England alone. But his friend told him that it would take a lawyer twenty-four hours before he could find out what portions of those Acts were in force, and what were not. Now he (Mr. Hume) maintained that it was desirable in enacting new laws that they should be made as intelligible and simple as possible, so as to be easily understood by the simplest men in the country. He should, therefore, feel it necessary to take the sense of the House upon the question, how far it was the duty of Government, while endeavouring conscientiously to provide for the safety of the country, to take care that the measure they proposed pressed with as little inconvenience on the public as possible, and whether or not their Bill should not be so constructed as to present 305 at least this advantage, that any individual drawn as a militiaman should at once be able to ascertain from it how far his position was affected by it, either as regarded privileges or penalties.
§ Amendment proposed, in p. 2, lines 19 and 20, to leave out the words "Property Qualifications in the case of persons to be appointed."
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he believed that the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) was not in the House when a question upon the subject was asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. V. Smith). His right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department gave such an answer at the time as seemed to satisfy the right hon. Member for Northampton. He (the Attorney General) was aware that in the Index there were three folio pages of Militia Bills, but he believed that most of those Acts to which the hon. Member for Montrose referred were passed prior to the 42 Geo. III., c. 90, and that the others related to Ireland and Scotland. Now if the hon. Gentleman would take up the 42 Geo. III., he would find that the first section repealed all the prior Acts relating to the militia, so far as they related to England; and, therefore, in point of fact, the 42 Geo. III. was the existing and prevailing law upon the subject at present. With regard to the Acts passed subsequently, there really was little alteration made, and none of the slightest importance as regarded the present question. He was satisfied that if the hon. Gentleman would turn his attention to the particular statute to which he referred, he would find that there was no obligation whatever to revert to any other Act in the present Bill than the 42 Geo. III., which was intended by this Bill to be the governing law in respect to the militia. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman, that it was most desirable that the law on the subject should be rendered intelligible to those particularly who were to administer it. He was, however, afraid that many of the class of persons to whom his hon. Friend referred, could not read the law; and if they even could, they would not understand it. It was, however, most desirable that the law should be clear and definite. The hon. Gentleman proposed to repeal all the Militia Acts in regard to England, Ireland, and Scotland. He said that he was desirous of consolidating them, and including them in one Act. Well, inasmuch as the only Act 306 which could apply was the 42 Geo. III., all that he could accomplish would be this—that he would take the 42 Geo. III., and repeat it clause by clause in the provisions of this Bill. Now, he asked, how could they make the matter more clear and intelligible by taking such a course? Everybody was presumed to know the law. He, however, confessed he did not believe that after this Bill passed into a law, the people would be better acquainted with the state of the law than they were before. It appeared to him, then, that it would be perfectly unnecessary and but a waste of time for them to consider the provisions of the 42 Geo. III. He submitted that the course taken by the Government was the bettor one. He believed there was no want of intelligibility in the wording of the present Bill; and as he considered the Amendment would defeat the object the hon. Gentleman had in view, he hoped the Committee would not agree to it.
§ MR. HUME
would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman, that the late Sir Robert Peel, when Prime Minister, had in one of his greatest and most important measures consolidated seventy or eighty Acts of Parliament connected with Customs; and he frequently took pains to lay it down as his principle, that the old laws should be repealed, consolidated, or brought into one Act. He did not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman had made out a case for departing from that principle on the present occasion. The course he proposed might no doubt entail some trouble upon the Government; but he hoped it would not be considered offensive if he told them that they were well paid for their trouble.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that in the case referred to by the hon. Member, there were seventy or eighty Acts to be considered, but in the present there was virtually only one.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he perfectly agreed in principle with the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) in thinking it most desirable that the several Acts passed upon this subject should be consolidated into one. It was entirely in accordance with this view that he took the liberty of suggesting, when the Bill was first brought in, that it should consolidate all the previous Acts passed; they were, however, on the occasion referred to in the month of February, when the House had ample time to act upon the suggestion which he threw out. He would remind 307 the hon. Member, after the changes which had taken place, and under the peculiar position of Parliament at the present time, that it was deemed advisable, and it was the general understanding, that nothing would be done during this Session but what was absolutely necessary. Now, although the proposal of the hon. Gentleman was a very good one, he did not think it was absolutely necessary that the measure he suggested should be adopted in the present Session, for it might be adopted with equal effect next year. He hoped, therefore, the hon. Member for Montrose would not suppose that he was altering his opinion on the principle of his Amendment when he said that, as the Session was verging towards the middle of May, and as all parties were auxious that public business should be got through in order that Parliament might be dissolved, he did not think it advisable for the House to go into Committee upon several Acts, containing a great number of clauses, which would necessarily lead to discussions that must prolong the duration of the Session.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, he regretted that the supporters of this Amendment were not to have the assistance of his noble Friend the Member for Tiverton. The law was on all sides admitted to be unpopular in its working. It was, therefore, the more desirable that every man should know the full amount of the grievance to be experienced. He hoped the House would stand by its own order, and help the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) in his endeavour to amend and consolidate the law. It was by no means likely that the people to be enrolled under this Act, could be acquainted with the law on the subject, when the most experienced Members in the House were in ignorance of it. To consolidate the laws would be a matter of great difficulty to a private Member of Parliament, while it would be an easy and simple task for the Government to undertake. It seemed to him that the promoters of the Bill were really anxious to conceal from the public the stringency of the law. Now, for instance, there were clauses in the Militia Laws making it necessary for Quakers to find substitutes if they objected to serve themselves, and, in default of substitutes, rendering their goods liable to seizure. If this Bill were to become law at all, it would, of course, be advisable to make it as efficient, intelligible, and useful as possible. He believed that the Motion of his hon. Friend the Mem- 308 ber for Montrose, would partially have that effect, and he would therefore support it. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman was acting respectfully to the House in the course he was taking.
§ MR. RICH
said, he objected that, as the Bill stood, if a man deserted—say from the Dorsetshire militia, and was found in Northumberland, he would then have to be handed over to the Colonel of the Northumberland militia, and so from county to county, until he arrived in the county from whose militia he had deserted. Such a provision as that, he granted, might have been very desirable when there were no railways in existence; but he put it to the Committee whether it was not altogether inexpedient and unnecessary in the present state of locomotion in this country? By another Clause it appeared that the 6l. bounty was to be paid to the militiaman free of all charges; but he did not understand how that could be when 4d. a day was to be deducted. Such provisions as these rendered it necessary, in his opinion, that the measure should be considered and amended by the Government before they pressed it further through the Committee.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he had been charged with disrespect to the House, because he had not proposed in this Bill the consolidation of the Militia Laws. He could assure the Committee, however, that he had not meant to treat the House with any disrespect when he brought in the Bill in its present form. The subject had been very maturely considered, and the Government came to the conclusion that as the present Bill was, in fact, intended to render voluntary enlistment a substitute for compulsory conscription, it would be better to bring forward a new measure instead of simply re-enacting the numerous Clauses of the 42 Geo. III., which related more or less to the machinery of the ballot, to which the Government hoped that, under this Bill, it might not be necessary to have recourse. He admitted it was most desirable that the Militia Laws should be consolidated, and he thought that, if this Bill were adopted, it would be advisable that, in another Session of Parliament, a measure should be introduced to consolidate all the laws upon the subject.
§ MR. BRIGHT
did not see very much the weight of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. He tried to make out that there was some essential difference between the Act of 1802 and that of 1852, 309 and that there was no voluntary enlistment under the former Act. Now that did not appear to be the ease. He had waded through that Act, and had been puzzled with some of the provisions of it; but under that Act there was a system of voluntary enlistment also, and it was only when voluntary enlistment left a deficiency, that a ballot was inflicted upon the parish or district. That appeared to him to be precisely the course under the present Bill: men were to volunteer, not for bounties given by the parish, but for bounties given by the State, and if they had not sufficient, then the ballot was to make up the number. But he would assume that the right hon. Gentleman was right, and that the Act of 1802 was wholly compulsory, and that this was not; hut if that were so, how very inconsistent it was that they should incorporate the old Act not by the actual clauses but by reference to the clauses in that Act which the right hon. Gentleman admitted was a much more objectionable Act than the Bill they were now discussing. He would venture to say that he could get two lawyers just about as acute as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, who would differ in their opinions about this Bill. There was no hurry whatever to pass this jumble of legislation, when they might discuss it next Session. He believed there had been eight Acts passed since 1802. He could only account for the Government bringing in the Bill in this form on the ground that it was a Government in extremis, anxious to pass a Militia Law. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had shown great inconsistency in this matter. The noble Lord, he understood, was for consolidation, but he seemed so wedded to the idea of getting through a Militia Bill this Session, that he was willing to sacrifice his consistency to accomplish it. The Act of 1802 was passed in a period wholly different from the present; it was passed at a time when all their punishments, not only in their military but in their civil code, were of a sanguinary character, more than would be now permitted, and when the right of the civil portion of the community would not for one moment have been placed in the balance as compared with the exigencies of the period. Now, he ventured to say that Parliament would not now enact such a Bill as was passed in 1802, and that if it were now laid on the table for the first time it would be utterly impossible to pass it through 310 the House in its present form. He would therefore urge upon the Government that the best course would be to abstain from pressing this Bill. They would have a long recess, for the Government would not be particularly anxious to meet Parliament in the autumn, and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite would be enabled to devote their minds to the consideration of this subject, and to bring forward what might be a permanent and valuable measure next Session. He protested against adopting in 1852 the barbarities included in the Act of 1802, and he would therefore give his vote in favour of the Amendment.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he thought there would be the greatest possible confusion in ascertaining what the law was if the Bill were adopted in the shape proposed by the Government. It would be almost impossible to discover what clauses of the Act of 1802 were repealed expressly or by implication. He thought the observations of the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken entitled to great weight. He heard with great surprise the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) that the course now pursued by him was recommended by the Government after grave deliberation upon the subject. The Committee would remember that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had moved an Amendment to insert the word "consolidate" in the title of the Bill proposed to he brought in by the late Government. The House adopted that Amendment. A change of Government took place. He (Sir G. Grey) would not then refer to the circumstances connected with that event; but he must express his surprise that the right hon. Gentleman should come down to the House, and without giving the House the slightest reason to suppose that the present Government were not of opinion, with the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, as to the desirableness of consolidating the laws, ask them to agree to a Bill which did not profess to consolidate the Militia Acts, and that course he said was the result of grave deliberation upon the part of the Government. Without giving the slightest reason to justify such a course, the right hon. Gentleman now asked the Committee to sanction it.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, the observation of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken calls for one remark from me. It is certainly very true that the course we have taken 311 with respect to the Militia Bill was the result of deliberation upon this important subject. But, Sir, our deliberation was exercised not merely upon that important subject, but the circumstances under which the question devolved to us. We had before us two modes of consolidation—we could either consolidate according to the plan referred to by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), or we could consolidate by reference. We deliberated as to what mode was the most calculated to obtain the object which we had in view. After deliberation, it did appear to us that we should consolidate so far as this, that one Act of Parliament should contain either expressly or by reference all the law which related to the militia, or that we should follow the system which has been recommended by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose. It was our opinion, that had we adopted the course which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose has recommended, we should not have succeeded in carrying the Militia Bill through this Parliament. We therefore resolved to adopt the course of consolidating the laws with respect to the militia by reference. We felt that, under these circumstances, we should succeed in carrying a Bill which would effect a great deal of the object which the House desired. Now, consolidation by reference is not new to this House. It has been had recourse to before. I do not say that it amounts absolutely to consolidation; but to say that in proposing this Bill in its present shape, we totally disregard the express wish of the House, that we have used the word consolidation merely to avail ourselves of a form, and that we have not attempted a consolidation of the law, is, I think, a statement which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey) was not entitled to make.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Mr. Bernal, I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has at all answered the speech of my right hon. Friend (Sir G. Grey). My right hon. Friend did not complain that, when the Cabinet had the question before them, whether they would consolidate or not consolidate, they had determined not to consolidate, but that, having determined not to consolidate, they should bring in a Bill entitled, "A Bill to Consolidate and Amend the Laws relating to the Militia," and had therefore not acted up to the title of that Bill. Now, as to speaking of consolidation by reference, who was to know the meaning of that? It is quite impos- 312 sible to gather any meaning from it. If you introduce a Bill, and you do not repeal a former Bill, it is obvious that all parts of that former Bill which are not inconsistent with the new Bill remain in force. Whether you insert clauses to that effect or not, is of little importance; but it is quite clear that that is not consolidation. I am not going to give any opinion as to whether the Government have acted wisely with respect to the existing Militia Laws; but this is quite clear, that if they determined, after consultation and deliberation, that it was not advisable to consolidate, they should have discharged the order of the House, and have brought in a new Bill to amend the Militia Laws, stating that that was their proposition, and what were their reasons for not adopting consolidation; and then, for the further convenience of the House, I should have immediately taken the course which Sir Robert Peel took in 1842, and have allowed each Member of the House to have a copy of the Act of 1802, which should be laid before the House. That would not have answered the purpose of consolidation, but it would have fairly explained to the House the object of the Bill.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he had mentioned on a former evening that there were two ways of consolidating. If the seven or eight Acts relating to the militia were Acts containing different provisions, there would be much stronger reason for uniting them in one law than if (which he believed to be the case) the provisions of those Acts were contained, in fact, in the 42 Geo. III. except so far as there would, under this Bill, be resort to voluntary enlistment. He believed that no Gentleman, in order to understand this measure, had anything to do but to take up the 42 Geo. III. as the basis of the measure, and to take this as the basis of the voluntary enlistment.
§ MR. COBDEN
rose, and was greeted with loud cries of "Divide!" He said, if hon. Gentlemen wished to go to dinner, let them go. The question that was raised was, why had they not the details of the Acts which they were going to re-enact placed before them? They did not ask for those details merely that they might have an opportunity of reading them. They wished them brought into that House and actually proposed, because they wanted to discuss a portion of them. He believed the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer let the secret out when he intimated 313 that if the House went into the details of these Acts, which were virtually expired—["No, no!"]—which had, however, been suspended for years, hut were now going to be brought into operation—the House would not get through the business at this period of the Session. Did the right hon. Gentleman think he was going to escape in that way? When they came to Clause 28, they were going to enact that "all the provisions of 42 Geo. III., or of any Acts amending the same, now in force and not hereby repealed, should, subject to the pro visions of this Act, extend to the Militia." Did they suppose that they could pass that clause without having those Acts before them, and that they were going to save discussion by that? The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), who had shown a degree of inconsistency seldom or never seen in that House (where a good deal of it was to be seen), perceived the difficulty of getting through this Bill if the House had the provisions of those Acts before it; but, whatever his hurry to have them revived, they should be discussed, and the more minutely for the attempt to evade discussion. Any lawyer would consolidate these statutes in twenty-four hours. The only object was to escape discussion, but he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that that discussion should not be
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that if the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had been good enough to favour the Committee with all the benefit of his understanding upon this subject, and had endeavoured to ascertain what the real state of the law was, he would know that from time to time Acts of Parliament had been passed suspending the ballot sanctioned by the 42 Geo. III., the last Act being one which was passed in the 14th and 15th of Her present Majesty's reign. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) had said that the Committee was not aware that this was not a consolidating Bill. Why, long before the second reading of the Bill, which involved the question as to the principle of the Bill, that House had been fully informed of the character and description of the measure by his (the Attorney General's) right hon. Friend the Home Secretary; and he (the Attorney General) apprehended that if it was the intention of the House not to adopt a Bill of this sort, it was the duty of those Members who objected to the course which had been adopt- 314 ed by the Government to have made their complaints upon the second reading of the Bill. Did any body suppose that if this Bill should fail during the present Session, there was any chance whatever of the Government being able to carry another Bill? [An Hon. MEMBER: Propose it next Session.] Was not the question now before the Committee virtually whether the country was to have a Militia Bill or not? The noble Lord the Member for the City of London said, upon a former occasion, that supposing the House rejected the Bill, it was not to be considered that the House was indifferent to the defence of the country, and that it was the duty of the Government to propose another plan, or to resign. Now, did any body in that House believe that any Bill which the Government might bring forward would be palatable to the noble Lord? He believed that if the Government had even proposed the very measure proposed by the noble Lord himself when in office, he would have discovered some reason why, although proper at the time at which he introduced it, it was not proper now. The House had consented to the second reading of this Bill by a very large majority, and he collected from the expressions of the noble Lord after that event, that it was not his intention to offer any opposition to it in Committee, except so far as respected the compulsory clause. It was, however, clear that the noble Lord, by the course which he had now adopted, was in point of fact endeavouring indirectly to defeat this Bill, and of course to prevent the possibility of any Militia Bill this Session. He (the Attorney General) therefore hoped that the Committee would not adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose, because, if they did, they would virtually say that they would not have a Militia Bill, and that the country should be left without that defence which a large majority in that House, and out of it, had declared to be necessary.
§ SIR WILLIAM PAGE WOOD
said, he must complain that the supporters of this measure had endeavoured to divert the attention of the Committee from a discussion of its principles and details by constant attacks upon the conduct of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. That course was begun, and as he thought most unadvisably, by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), who upon the first introduction of this Bill, had called upon the House to throw away all considerations of 315 party. That request was received by a loud cheer from that party which the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had lately led on to victory. But had the noble Lord himself acted in accordance with that suggestion? Why, the noble Lord in the first speech which he delivered in support of this Bill, had scarcely offered an argument in its favour; his address was almost wholly directed to the proof of what he was pleased to term the inconsistency of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London in opposing it. Again, on another occasion, they were favoured with an address from the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton; and he assured the noble Lord, with all sincerity, that he listened to him with anxiety, in the expectation of deriving some important information with respect to the best course to be taken on this important question. But instead of furnishing the House with any such information, the noble Lord diverted them by an amusing speech about some pamphlet or other which had been published by some very absurd and ridiculous person; and the whole gist of that speech of the noble Lord was directed to a personal attack upon the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden). His whole object was to read a single passage from that pamphlet, to the effect, that even if the French should invade our country, our mills would go on working as usual; and he succeeded in obtaining a cheer from hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial benches. He (Sir W. P. Wood) must say that he regretted exceedingly that the noble Lord, when they were considering seriously what was the best mode of protecting and defending the country against foreign invasion, should conceive that the defence of this country could be best achieved by sowing dissension between two large classes who dwell in this country, and who ought to unite for the common defence. A Lord of the Admiralty, too, had broken a twenty years' silence, not to discuss the Militia Bill, but to show that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was inconsistent. There had been a continual course of these attacks, the supposed inconsistency being that he now opposed a measure which in Office he rejected, and resigned rather than accept it; and, further, that having, when in office, yielded to the general wish of the House that the Bill should consolidate the existing law, he still said he thought that general wish should be complied with. Well, now, that course was played again 316 to-night. With regard to the consolidation or non-consolidation of these statutes, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had stated that the objection which had been taken by hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House, on that point, ought to have been made upon the second reading; but a mere technical objection could not have been made at that stage of the Bill. He (Sir W. P. Wood) objected to bringing the Bill forward at this late period of the Session, when no practical result could take place, and when nothing could be done towards the substantial defence of the country. Another reason for delay was, that he thought the several Militia Acts ought to be consolidated. For these reasons he thought it would be better to let the Bill stand over till it could be brought forward in the shape which the House desired. The 28th Section of this Bill—this Consolidation Act—[The ATTORNEY GENERAL said, he must dissent to this designation of the measure.] He was not surprised that the hon. and learned Attorney General could not adopt this phrase, for there was in reality no consolidation. The 28th Clause spoke of divers Acts of Parliament; but independently of that Act passed in 1802, there were several Acts on the Statute-book, which the British Legislature, in 1852, was called upon to re-enact uno flatu, without discussing a single clause. He begged to remind the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, that there were not only various improvements, as he said, in railroads and steam vessels, but that laws had been passed since 1802, very much altering and improving the condition of the soldier, and which laws this Bill totally disregarded.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said: My hon. and learned Friend has made such pointed allusion to me, that I trust the Committee will indulge me whilst I utter one or two sentences. My hon. and learned Friend complains that he was not convinced. No; he complains that he did not comprehend any arguments that I used in favour of a militia force. Sir, I did not address myself to my hon. and learned Friend. I never preach to the converted. I took it for granted that my hon. and learned Friend, having supported the Bill brought in by the late Government at the beginning of the Session—that Bill having been brought in by the Government of which he was a Member—I took it for granted, I say, that the hon. and learned Gentleman was fully 317 and deeply impressed with the absolute necessity of the measure—of immediately organising a militia force for the defence of the country, and, therefore, he was wholly out of my view in any arguments which I addressed to the House on that occasion. But when the hon. and learned Gentleman finds fault with me for having taxed him with inconsistency, and those who, like him, having supported a Militia Bill at the beginning of the Session, and who afterwards, when out of office, and another party was in power, opposed a similar measure brought in by others; and when he denies the applicability and sufficiency of my remarks, my only reply is that I refer him to his noble Friend the late Commissioner for the Board of Works (Lord Seymour), and to his right hon. Friend the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir F. Baring), the one having by his speech, and the other by his vote, condemned the inconsistency of my hon. and learned Friend; and I have no doubt but that if he has a private conference with either of these two Gentlemen, they will convey to his mind those impressions which it seems my speech failed in conveying.
§ SIR WILLIAM PAGE WOOD
said, he rose to explain. He did not complain of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, that he had not convinced him; but that instead of arguing upon the measure, he had confined himself to attacks upon others. As to the charge of inconsistency, the noble Lord had just unconsciously admitted that the two Bills were identical.
§ SIR WILLIAM PAGE WOOD
Well, then, similar. And yet the noble Lord, who charged him with inconsistency, having admitted that the two Bills were similar, successfully opposed that brought in by his noble Friend the Member for London, and supported that brought in by the present Government. The noble Lord had the satisfaction of defeating the late Minister and those who had been his Colleagues, and in assisting in the victory of his new allies.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I rise for a moment to explain. I did not say that the two Bills were identical; they arc only identical so far that they create a militia force, but not an identical militia. I never said the two Bills were identical. [An Hon. MEMBER: You said, "similar."] But whether the Bills are similar or identi- 318 cal, or not, my conduct is not identical with that of the late Government, for I am not prepared to throw aside a measure which I think necessary, on account of verbal differences.
§ MR. TORRENS M'CULLAGH
said, he thought that the noble Lord's memory was a little treacherous. The expression was not that the Bills were "identical," but "similar." Those hon. Gentlemen were inconsistent who, having supported by their speeches or votes the measure of the late Government, now supported this very dissimilar Bill. He (Mr. T. M'Cullagh) entirely concurred in the objection which had been taken; and he considered the Bill of the late Government much preferable to the present measure, inasmuch as it dealt even justice to all classes of the community. He considered that they ought, at all events, to make the Bill intelligible for those whom it was intended to affect.
§ MR. HUME
rose to order. Such was the disorderly and noisy state of the House, and such the want of inclination shown to maintain the discipline of the House, that he should move that the Chairman do report progress. He would then appeal to Mr. Speaker, and endeavour to have the business conducted as it ought to be.
§ MR. EWART
rose to second the Motion. He must appeal to Mr. Bernal as the Chairman of the Committee to maintain order in the House. Those hon. Gentlemen who were making these interruptions, were not doing their duty to their constituents. He might apply to each of those hon. Gentlemen the words of the ballad:I see a form thou canst not see,Who bids thee not to stay;I hear a voice thou canst not hear,That hurries thee away?"—Dinner.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he would request the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) not to divide; and he would appeal to the Committee to listen to the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart), from whose speeches they always derived instruction and amusement. He was sure that the good feeling of that hon. Gentleman, and the very sensible remarks that he always made, entitled him to be heard. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would proceed, and when 319 he had finished his speech, they might then divide if they liked.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
must really be allowed to notice the very singular observation of the hon. Gentleman. It was very difficult for anybody to ascertain what degree of attention any hon. Member was paying. He had, for instance, heard the noble Lord lately at the head of the Government complained of for his supposed inattention and charged with being asleep; and yet the noble Lord had risen and proved that he was perfectly conscious of what was going on, by replying to those who had preceded him. Some hon. Gentlemen indulged in abstraction, and when they were supposed to be inattentive, they were, in fact, studying over what was taking place. He never liked to speak of himself, but he really did not think that he was open to the charge.
§ MR. HUME
said, the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had misinterpreted what had fallen from him. He did not complain of the right hon. Gentleman's inattention, but of the general inattention of the Committee at the moment. He referred to the noise and crowding of hon. Members at the bar, and to the inattention of the officer whose duty it was to prevent the confusion. If one Serjeant at Arms was not enough, let them have two or three. He would not press his Motion for reporting progress.
§ MR. EWART
said, that this Bill particularly applied to poor men, who would not understand the law unless it were consolidated. He called upon the Government to prove that they required additional defences, and then come to the House for a regular increase of the armed force of the country. He thought the militia not sufficient for purposes of defence, but sufficient to cause great annoyance and complaint throughout the country; and he objected to the favour shown to real over personal property in this measure. He contended, therefore, until the requisite consolidation was effected, they were justified in opposing by every legitimate means the passing of the Bill.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 165; Noes 82: Majority 83.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
moved an Amendment to insert after the word "appointed," in Clause 3, line 20, the words "deputy lieutenant or." His object was, that as they were dealing with the qualifications of various officers appointed under the Militia Act, 42 Geo. III., cap. 90, they ought also to deal with the qualification, and consider that class of officers known by the name of deputy lieutenants. Under the provisions of the Bill, the new force to be created was subjected to the jurisdiction of these deputy lieutenants, and invested them with very important judicial powers relating to apprenticeship and other legal matters affecting the civil rights of all the people of this country. It was therefore just as necessary to consider their qualifications, their duties, and the functions they would have to fulfil, as those of any other officers connected with these appointments. If he understood the matter right, these deputy lieutenants would have to decide all appeals or claims of exemption. He spoke doubtfully; for they had been told that it was necessary to proceed in the dark in this matter. They were told that they had various old statutes to deal with; and, no doubt, some gentlemen of great legal acumen would be able to construe them rightly. A deputy lieutenant was a gentleman who, when the militia was not embodied, had not any particular duties to perform. He was frequently seen on great occasions, when, though a civil officer, he appeared in a very splendid military uniform. They ought not to limit the choice of the Lords Lieutenant of counties, as to the persons whom they should appoint deputy lieutenants; they should be empowered to select the best persons they could find to discharge the important judicial duties which would devolve on those officers when this new force was created. Why should their choice be limited to persons having 200l. a year in land? Why should not a man having a smaller property, or no property, if otherwise qualified, be eligible? If it were an honour and a distinction to be allowed to wear this uniform in foreign countries, and at Courts and Levees in this country, why should that honour and distinction be confined to gentlemen who had a certain number of acres of land? He proposed, in the first instance, to move 321 that the property qualification for deputy lieutenants should be abolished, and that Lord Lieutenants should be empowered to select those whom they thought best qualified for the discharge of these important duties. If this were not agreed to, he should move a proviso to the effect, "That notwithstanding anything contained in the said recited Act, or any other Act, any person who shall be possessed of personal estate to the amount of—may be appointed a deputy lieutenant, or an officer in the militia of the rank of major or any higher rank." Already, in those towns and cities that were counties of themselves, personal property was a qualification, as it was for Members of that House. To make the proviso intelligible, it was necessary he should explain the remainder of his Amendment. The Bill proposed to abolish the property qualification for captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, but retained the landed qualification for majors and colonels; so that the most meritorious captain could never become a major unless he purchased the requisite quantity of land to give him the qualification. What could the possession of land have to do with military capacity? They were constantly told that civilians were not to give an opinion on military affairs; but by this Bill, if a man purchased an estate, he was fit to become the colonel of a regiment. Though his hon. Colleague (Mr. Bright) was criticised and sneered at for venturing to give an opinion on military affairs, if he purchased the proper amount of land in any county he would be qualified under this Bill to become major or colonel of a regiment, and one of "our national defences." These anomalies might have done very well for 1802, but they could not now be justified. He would therefore move, in the first instance, that the words "deputy lieutenant, or" should be inserted after the word "appointed."
§ SIR JOHN TYRELL
said, he could not understand these repeated attacks of the Manchester Gentlemen on the landed interest. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) was a landed proprietor, but ever since he had been put forward as a great orator of the peace party, he had opposed the landed interest. If hon. Gentlemen would suggest how many bales of cotton they wished to qualify a man as deputy lieutenant, he would be happy to enter into a commercial treaty with them; but he must say he objected to these absurd Motions, which were defeated night 322 after night by large majorities. It was plain hon. Gentlemen made use of that House to make their intentions and professions known to the hustings; and, if they could devise any other plan beside introducing such absurd and useless Motions, the time of the House would be much better occupied.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he could not agree to the first proposition of the right hon. Member (Mr. M. Gibson), the effect of which was to abolish all property qualifications whatever. There was, however, a good deal in what he had said as to personal property forming a qualification, and he (Mr. Walpole) was prepared to assent to this, provided the amount of personal property possessed by the officer was equivalent to the real estate required by the Act. He would suggest that the qualification should be made "real or personal estate of 200l. a year."
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
understood the right hon. Gentleman to admit the principle of the proviso which he intended to move; but he (Mr. M. Gibson) still objected to the amount of the qualification. A major was required to have 400l. and a colonel 1,000l. a year. However, if he could not get the Committee to agree in his view of the propriety of abolishing a property qualification, he should be glad to accept the right hon. Gentleman's offer respecting the proviso, and would now withdraw both his Amendment and the clause of which he had given notice in the event of the Amendment not being agreed to.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that it was desirable to understand, in order that there might be no mistake, that while the Government were willing to adopt the principle of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, they still intended to propose a different scale of qualifications for the different ranks, and not to have one qualification for all the different ranks.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
considered it would be very essential to the efficiency of the militia force, that in every regiment one field officer should be an officer who had served in the line; and he apprehended, therefore, that it would be advantageous to include the rank of major in the list of appointments for which the qualification in land or other property was not required. It ought to be considered that the fact of being on half-pay, or of having served in the Army, should be tantamount to a qualification.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, this was already 323 provided for in the Bill, which rendered the having been in the Army a sufficient qualification for any rank.
§ MR. BRIGHT
thought that, whatever the amount of qualification might be, it ought to be indifferent as to whether it consisted of personal or of real property. If you wanted to have officers of prudence, foresight, self-command, valour, and those other qualities which went to make good soldiers, it would be very unadvisable to limit your choice to those possessed of land, unless, indeed, it was considered that that description of property gave its possessors peculiar military qualities. Had he understood the right hon. Gentleman to say, that he entirely gave up the distinction between the two descriptions of property?
§ MR. WALPOLE
had said that he did not see any objections himself, though he should like to ascertain the feeling of the Committee upon the subject, to allow a personal property qualification as well as one dependent on land, providing the qualification arising out of personal estate was equivalent to that provided by the Act of 42 Geo. III. It would, perhaps, under the circumstances, be advisable that the clause should stand over.
§ MR. BRIGHT
would suggest that the eldest son of a person possessed of personal property should be placed on the same footing as the eldest son of a landed proprietor with regard to qualification.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
thought the question of qualification was one to be left entirely to the discretion of the Lord Lieutenant. It was most desirable that gentlemen of station and property connected with the neighbourhood should take commissions in a regiment, not upon constitutional grounds, but simply because it would be the means of securing better service.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, there was a difficulty in the proposition of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright). The son of a person who had landed property was well recognised by law, and had a certain status, being mentioned in the Act of Parliament as a person well known; whereas, with regard to 324 personal property, the inheritor was not known at all until the death of the possessor. There was, therefore, a clear distinction between the two cases.
§ MR. WALPOLE
thought it would excite jealousy if the House should dispense with the qualification altogether. It might give rise to appointments by the Crown or the Lord Lieutenant, the fitness of which might be a good deal questioned. He wished to state, in order to avoid misunderstanding, that Clause 3 was to stand unaltered, and that a provision was to be drawn up by the Government that the qualification for officers of militia must be similar in amount to the qualification provided by the statute of 42 Geo. III., but that it might come out of personal as well as real estate.
§ SIR CHARLES BURRELL
said, the deputy lieutenants were appointed by the Lords Lieutenants. The duties were purely military, for they had to lead the posse comitatus. He thought they ought to have a landed qualification, because it was necessary they should know the localities, and the parties whom they might have to call out. The local knowledge of a deputy lieutenant was what was useful and desirable, and he did not therefore approve of the money qualification.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
would remind the Committee, that one object sought to be attained by the property qualification was, that the deputy lieutenants should be persons of status in society. Another object on the part of the House of Commons of the day was a desire to fetter the discretion of the Lords Lieutenant. Fifty years ago great jealousy was felt lest the power of the Crown and of the Lords Lieutenant should be exercised without due discretion in making these appointments.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he agreed with his hon. Friend (Sir C. Burrell) that it was of great importance that the deputy lieutenants should be locally connected with the county. But the deputy lieutenant at present was not by law necessarily connected with the county. He must have a certain amount of property qualification, but it need not be within the county, A deputy lieutenant who might have his property in the county of Kent might act, by virtue of that qualification, as deputy lieutenant for Devonshire. Now, he did not interfere with the question of local connexion. He left it exactly as he found it, and did not make an exception in the case of deputy lieute- 325 nants to the rule laid down as to other officers.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he considered that if there was anything less justifiable than another in this matter, it was the requiring of a different qualification for different ranks in military service. It should be their object to advance the best and most efficient men to the highest posts; but they prevented this by requiring a money qualification. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would consider the propriety of abolishing these different qualifications, by which the interest and object of the service were sacrificed to those who possessed riches.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he could not concur with the hon. Gentleman that the militia was a purely military service. He was not prepared to agree with him that no qualification should be required in those who held command in this force. He saw a great difference between the army in this country and the army in other countries. And when he saw the respect that was paid by the army in this country to the law and the constitution, and the great reluctance the army exhibited to interfere with the social system of the country, he attributed it to the manner in which the army was officered. He was glad that they had a class of officers in this country very different from the military adventurers in Continental countries, who exercised so pernicious an influence in the public affairs of those countries.
hoped that the principle was not wholly shut out, that a man who had distinguished himself as an officer in a lower rank, might, without reference to property or pecuniary qualification, be promoted to a higher.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that, whatever was the old law as regarded qualification by real property, the Government would accept personal property of the same amount as such qualification. The Lord Lieutenant would have the power also of appointing a field officer from the army without reference to qualification.
§ Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 4 to 6 inclusive.
§ Clause 7 (Number of Militia to be raised):—Proposed, after the words "keep up," in line 13, to insert the words "any number not exceeding eighty thousand."326
§ MR. CHARTERIS
said, he had placed a notice on the paper with regard to the number of men, but, as that notice depended on Clause 21, regulating the days of drill, perhaps the Committee would allow him in the meantime to state the general grounds on which he proposed to make his Motion. The House had agreed that some measure of defence was required, but great diversity of opinion prevailed as to the nature of the measure which they ought to adopt, and various schemes had been brought forward—some being in favour of an addition to the Army, others advocating the measure proposed by the noble Lord the Member for London, while one Gentleman, the chairman of a railway company, recommended the formation of a railway from Salisbury to Exeter. In order to come at a sound conclusion on this subject, they should have a close understanding as to the nature and character of the danger to be apprehended. He need hardly remind the Committee that with respect to a neighbouring country we were not now in the position in which we were at the commencement of the century. Steam had undoubtedly facilitated the concentration of troops and attack, and he believed that in proportion to the facility of attack would be its probability. They ought, therefore, to consider whether the measure would provide a force capable of resisting an invading army of regular troops. The opinion of most military men was, that a militia, drilled only for twenty-one days in the year, was a force utterly incompetent to repel the attack of regular troops. The Bill proposed that 80,000 men should be called out and drilled twenty-one days in each year; but he thought that if they were to limit the number to a smaller amount—say 40,000 or 50,000—and drill them efficiently, a much more available force would be obtained. He therefore suggested that they should call out not more than 40,000 or 50,000 men, drill them for fifty-six days in the first year, and in each of the four succeeding years drill them ten days. By this means he believed they would have a far better force than under the system proposed in the Bill, and that in the course of the five years there would be a saving of one-third of the expense. It was urged as an objection to this proposal, that they could not ask men to leave their occupations for so long a period as fifty-six days, nor compel them to do so by the operation of the ballot. But what he was anxious 327 to see was the compulsory clauses taken out of the Bill; and he hoped, therefore, that his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary would meet his proposal in a conciliatory spirit. He believed that the greater part, if not all, of the unpopularity of this measure was owing to the compulsory clauses, and he trusted his right hon. Friend would make some concessions upon that point. He could assure him that he had no wish to interrupt the progress of the Bill, and that he was solely actuated by a desire to make it more efficient.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, the point to which his hon. Friend had adverted was one of great importance, and, as he had referred to the 16th Clause, which provided for the enforcement of the ballot, in connexion with the 7th, now under discussion, it would perhaps be as well that he (Mr. Walpole) should now state what were the intentions of the Government with regard to the former. The Committee would bear in mind that the 7th Clause related entirely to the number of men, and the 16th to what were called the compulsory clauses, namely, to those provisions that empowered them to fall back upon the ballot in case voluntary enlistment should not succeed. With regard to the compulsory clauses, he would repeat what had been often stated before, that their object was to raise the men by voluntary enlistment, if they possibly could do so. He looked upon this as a great experiment; and, looking at it as such, and seeing that they ought not to have recourse to the compulsory clauses if they could possibly avoid it, he thought it would be reasonable to fill up the blank with which the 16th section commenced, by saying that the permissive power given to the Crown to put in force the operation of the ballot should not commence till the 31st of December, 1852. The effect of that would be to give a period of six or eight months, to see how far they could raise the men by voluntary enlistment, and Parliament and the country would then be able to judge of the experiment, and the results to which it might lead. The new Parliament would meet before the machinery of the ballot had been put in operation; the result of the experiment would be actually known, and a full opportunity of stopping that machinery would be given, if it should be found necessary to have recourse to it. He hoped this proposal would be satisfactory to the Committee. The Government were most anxious not to have recourse to the ballot; and he might remind the Com- 328 mittee that unless the Bill stood as it did now, with the insertion which he proposed to make in the 16th Clause, the law would be even more stringent than was now proposed; because, if an emergency should arise between this and the meeting of Parliament, they would have no means of raising a sufficient number of men, except by removing the Suspension Act, and having recourse to the ballot, under the provisions of the 42 Geo. III. cap. 90. As to the number of men, the great object of the Bill was to have a force sufficiently large to enable them in case of emergency to bring, without embarrassment, a large body into the field capable of serving with effect, and to do so with as little disturbance as possible to the ordinary business and occupations of life. This he thought could be effectually done by the number of men proposed to be raised by the Bill. He proposed, therefore, to amend the wording of the clause by substituting for the words "There shall be raised, and from time to time kept up," the insertion of the words, "It shall be lawful to raise, and from time to time keep up."
§ VISCOUNT JOCELYN
said, he was certainly surprised at the proposal made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Charteris), as only two nights ago he took to task the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) for having presumed to take up the position of a great military authority. He must say that on this question he could not give more weight to the opinion of the hon. Member than he did to that of the hon. Member for Montrose. His hon. Friend proposed a reduction from 80,000 militia to 40,000, increasing at the same time the number of the days for drill; but it was not to be expected even in the number of days' drill proposed by the hon. Member that the militiamen could be made equal to the regular troops. For that purpose they must have a longer and severer training; but the important point was for the Government to have a large body of men on whom they could place their hands in case of necessity. He would suggest to the Government whether they might not render the militia force they proposed to raise more efficient, without great expense, in the following manner: Under the Queen's warrant soldiers were allowed to purchase their discharge, graduated according to a certain scale, in reference to the amount of service they had performed. It appeared to him, that if the men who wished to purchase their discharge were 329 allowed to do so at a lower rate on condition that they enrolled themselves in the militia, receiving also the same bounty as the militiamen, the country might then obtain for the purpose of the militia about 1,600 trained soldiers annually, who, combined with the militia, would impart to the body a greater degree of efficiency. He believed the Government would find that the military authorities were not adverse to this suggestion.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that he understood the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to be, that the words "it shall be lawful to raise" should be inserted in the clause, instead of the words "there shall be raised," and that he proposed that Amendment, because it was not intended to pass the clause relating to the ballot as it now stood, but that it should come into force at a future period, probably in December, 1852. As the Government proposed to postpone the operation of the ballot until after the meeting of the new Parliament, it was of no use to ask the House to vote for it now. Why enact the ballot if it was not intended to put it in force until then? Why should the House commit itself to a principle without a necessity? They would be in no worse position if it was withdrawn altogether, because if the operation of the ballot was postponed till then, why should not the enactment be postponed as well? They were absolutely to prevent the ballot being made use of, and it was absurd to connect the present Parliament to a principle which would not be acted on until the new Parliament met. He was always satisfied the more this measure was discussed, the more it would be seen that it would be judicious to postpone it entirely for the consideration of a new Parliament. Why not postpone the whole measure, and go to the country on the entire principle of the Bill? It had been proposed to raise 80,000 men, and it was shown that there were 67,000 regular troops in the United Kingdom. Now, the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) had informed them that in January, 1814, during the height of the French war, there were in the United Kingdom 80,000 militia and 56,000 regular troops, so that now, in time of peace, it was proposed to have a larger force in the United Kingdom than existed at the hottest period of the war with France. He asked the Committee to pause before doing this. Much was 330 said of the danger of being attacked; but he (Mr. M. Gibson) believed the danger to be an aggression on the part of this country. His theory of the interference of England in European affairs was based on the history of this country; and the debt on which we were now paying interest was contracted through the policy or interference and aggression of England at a time when she had 80,000 militia to enable her to use her regular forces for that purpose. He repeated now what had been once said by the right hon. Baronet the late Home Secretary, that this was an offensive force, and that the renewal of it while negotiations were pending between France and this country would be tantamount to a declaration of war. Any person reading the speeches of the right hon. Secretary at War and some other hon. Members who spoke of the chastity of the women of England being in danger, and of the probability of the French coming over to rob us, would imagine that the policy of England was likely to be aggressive, and would therefore view with alarm the proposed increase of the Army. If ever there was a time when such a question ought not to have been mooted, it was the time when such mighty changes were taking place in France. The policy that had been pursued, he would not say by the press, but by men in Parliament, by Ministers of State, was a policy calculated to awaken the old antipathies between France and England, and to lead to war. If he were asked to prescribe a plan for awakening a bad feeling between France and England, he should suggest the course which had been taken. He should say, let them come down to the House of Commons and make speeches, and, without any facts, let them impute unworthy motives and unworthy intentions to a friendly nation, adding to those imputations a recommendation to the people to arm; that, he should say, would be a course very likely to lead to those feelings which generally precede war. The 80,000 men now proposed were to be raised in the first instance by the bounty system. Now he decidedly objected to lavishing the public funds on such an experiment without any necessity. Even if the ballot were given up, that would not induce him to withdraw his opposition to the plan. If the right hon. Gentleman should succeed in getting his 80,000 men upon paper, he should like to know how he proposed to find them if their services should be required. He 331 called on the Government emphatically to give up this plan during the present Session of Parliament—to withdraw it for more mature consideration. With respect to the subject of steam navigation, the question of disembarkation remained precisely where it was before. He admitted that people could now come to England quicker than they were able to do formerly. But with respect to the disembarkation of troops, that must be carried on by boats. All he could say was, that the power of steam would enable us to proceed more rapidly to any place of disembarkation than we could possibly do by means of sailing vessels. He should certainly take the sense of the Committee against the blank being filled up with 80,000.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I am not going to discuss the question whose speeches in this House have been most calculated to provoke hostility on the part of foreign countries, and to encourage or invite invasion; that question, Sir, I will, leave to public decision. But the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has entirely misquoted that which I stated on a former occasion. He says that I said in 1814—[Mr. M. GIBSON: January, 1814]—in January, 1814, we had 80,000 militia—[Mr. M. GIBSON: 82,000]—and 56,000 regular troops in the United Kingdom, and that, therefore, calculating that we have now 67,000 regular troops, the proposal made to enrol 80,000 militia would place this country in precisely the same situation now in which I stated that it was in 1814. The right hon. Gentleman seems totally ignorant of the distinction between militia embodied and militia enrolled merely for twenty-one days' service in the year. What I stated was, that in 1814 we had, not 80,000, as he said, nor 82,000, as he now corrects me, but 89,000 militia, not enrolled and trained for twenty-one days only, but embodied and paid all the year round, and for home service, identical with troops of the line. It is not now proposed to have 80,000 embodied for the whole year round; and therefore the parallel which the right hon. Gentleman draws totally fails. The cases are entirely different: that which is now proposed is to have 80,000 militia enrolled for twenty-one days, and not 89,000 permanently embodied and kept in pay like regular troops, from the 1st of January to the last day of December. It must be remembered, also, that the year 1814 was a year 332 of war, during which the French army had enough to occupy its attention, and when it was least probable of all that an invasion would be attempted. I think, therefore, if there was any one year which would be less likely than another to furnish good employment for the militia, the year 1814 would be the period selected.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
accepted the correction of the noble Lord respecting the 89,000 militia. But the noble Lord had said that in 1814 we had 56,000 regular troops, while now we had 67,000 regular troops; and as 1814 was a year of war, and this was a period of peace, invasion therefore being now even still more improbable than in 1814, the greater force now maintained was altogether unjustifiable. The noble Lord said this was not to be an embodied force of 80,000 men. What was it to be then? A militia on paper? Certainly nothing else; for, as a matter of course, the 6l. bounty money being just the passage money, the substitute would be very speedily off to America. ["Oh, oh!"] This was denied; but he would like to know, if this was not true, why they did not allow the men of the regular Army to enjoy themselves on long leaves? The ideas of the Government of having a militia existing only on paper, at hand when wanted, were the most Utopian and visionary he had ever heard of. The Government had hoisted the signal of distress in consenting to a partial postponement, and this induced him to persevere in the hopes he entertained that on further opposition the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would give way altogether.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) had great objections to this Bill, as calling men from their peaceful homes to defend their country, and he had told them that Englishmen would receive the bounty money, and, as soon as they had got it leave the country undefended. But he (Mr. F. Scott) wished to know whether any foreigner, reading the speeches delivered in this House, would not—if he believed the representatives of the centres of intelligence, the concentrated intelligence, those who represented themselves to be the very essence of intelligence, and the beau ideal of all knowledge in this country—be encouraged, by the speeches made here, and the orations delivered elsewhere, to come and invade this country, because he had been told, in those speeches, that British men would not de- 333 fend the country they had been paid to defend. He wished to know if foreigners would not have the strongest inducements to invade this country from the very speeches of those hon. Gentlemen themselves. He thought the arguments of those hon. Gentlemen—those who represented themselves as the centres of intelligence—were the most calculated to awaken tyranny, and excite the jealousy of foreign States.
§ MR. HUME
said, he expected, when the hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. Scott) had risen, he would have grappled with the arguments of his (Mr. Hume's) right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson), but he believed that common sense had left that (the Government) side of the House. Talk of the speeches of hon. Gentlemen on his (Mr. Hume's) side of the House placing them in danger of war! Let hon. Gentlemen opposite look to the letter of the Duke of Wellington, who told them they had no troops to defend them. Why, he (Mr. Hume) thought that the language—he had almost said the cowardly language—of men high in office, tended more to induce foreigners to invade us, than any speeches made on his side of the House. The difference of opinion among hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the number of militia they required was striking. Originally the number proposed was 150,000, then it was reduced to 80,000, another hon. Gentleman proposed 40,000; but he had not heard one argument yet in favour even of the smaller number. He could not agree with some of the hon. Gentlemen near him that the compulsory clauses alone were to be objected to; he thought that by the expense of embodying a militia at all they were adding to the embarrassments of the country, and particularly of the agricultural classes; and he was quite surprised at the course taken by the agricultural Gentlemen on this question. [The hon. Member then read an extract from a speech of Lord John Russell's, in 1822, against military establishments, as not sanctioned by the Constitution.] He would ask who were the parties who were hurrying on the House and the country to this extravagance? It was the county Gentlemen, as would be seen by analysing the votes in the late divisions. He said, therefore, that the protectors of the public purse in this matter were not the county Members, but the borough Members. The present Government could not keep their seats if they did not give relief to the county Gentlemen; they wanted relief, and he wished they might get it.
thanked the hon. Member (Mr. Hume) for one statement in which he fully concurred—the distress of the agricultural body; and he hoped, when the time came, the hon. Gentleman would be willing to relieve, as much as he could, that body whose distress he now admitted. He (Mr. Miles) was perfectly astonished that men of peace—Gentlemen who professed to wish heartily for a dissolution—who asked the Government to name the very day they would dissolve—should get up now, and upon a simple proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, deliver themselves of speeches evidently intended for the second reading of the Bill. It had been the practice for hon. Members to address themselves to the particular clause under discussion, and when he thought what that clause was, he was the more astonished at the course hon. Gentlemen opposite were taking; he had not the least objection to discuss the clauses one by one, but let them stick to that, instead of making digressive speeches, de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis, to continue this debate de die in diem.
§ MR. RICH
said, he thought it a difficult thing to raise so large a force by means of a bounty, because, by that means, they would draw upon that class who furnish the regular troops, and would starve the regular Army of its usual supply of men. This year they had voted 3,000 additional men for the Army. The bounty they gave to the regular soldier was nominally 4l., and the bounty they proposed to give to the militiaman was 6l. He was aware that the right hon. Gentlemen proposed to modify it. If danger were really apprehended, which did the Government think would be the most valuable, 15,000 regulars, or 50,000 militia, as it was clear the endeavour to raise the latter number would effectually prevent the enlistment of the former? A system of volunteers would have been far preferable for the creation of that reserve force which he admitted might be useful to set at liberty the regular troops.
§ VISCOUNT JOCELYN
said, in the early part of the evening he had made a suggestion to the Government, and he should be glad to know what the decision of the Government was upon that point?
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that the suggestion was a very valuable one, and that he and his Colleagues would give it their best consideration. The effect of the system 335 lately adopted with regard to limited service in the Army would, he apprehended, be this: The first discharge of men enlisted for a limited period would take place in 1857, when this militia would he in full operation, and the Government thought it very probable they would be tempted to join the militia, and they would thus give that militia the benefit of their highly trained and efficient services.
§ MR. J. EVANS
could understand, if danger of an invasion were imminent, that a Government should say, "We must have 50,000 militiamen to be raised either by voluntary enlistment or by force, but the men we must have." The effect of the Amendment, however, which had that evening been proposed by the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Home Department was, that if they could not get 50,000 men this year by means of voluntary enlistment, they would not have them at all. But had the Government received any assurance from the other side of the water that they would not come and attack us before Christmas, and were there any means by which we were to be defended during the fogs of October and November? The fact was, that if the Government really apprehended any danger, they were most culpable to leave us in this position. If the country was really in danger, let there be an effective force to meet it; but as the compulsory part of the measure was to be put off till next year, why not put off the whole matter till next year?
said, as it appeared to be agreed that the compulsory clauses were not to come into operation till the beginning of the new year, he saw nothing the Government would lose by leaving them to be settled by the new Parliament. On the other hand, what the Government would gain, would be that they would get rid of the most unpalatable portion of their measure, and in fact quash half of the popular resistance to their Bill. He therefore hoped they would be induced to give up the compulsory clauses.
§ MR. COBDEN
said, that notwithstanding the clamours of hon. Members at the other end of the House in favour of proceeding to a division upon this clause, he 336 thought he had good ground for moving that the Chairman report progress, after the very important announcement which had been made by the right hon. the Home Secretary with respect to the alteration which he intended to propose in the measure. After they had arrived at the seventh clause, the Committee had been told that the whole purpose and scope of the measure was to be altered by the Government. He maintained that with the proposed alteration this would no longer be the Bill contemplated by the House and the country; that this would not be the measure which was called for by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, or by the panic which had been raised out of doors on the subject; and that there was not one of the arguments which was used by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary on introducing the measure which had not become ridiculous after the explanations that had been given, and the alterations that had been proposed. The right hon. Gentleman had introduced the measure with the portentous announcement that the country was not safe unless such a Bill was speedily passed into a law; and now, after all the panic and alarm as to the impending danger had been created, the right hon. Gentleman came forward, while the Committee were in the midst of the clauses, and coolly announced that the Government intended to propose that they should have no power to carry the compulsory provisions of the Act into effect until the end of the year. On this ground alone he thought he was fairly entitled to move that the Chairman report progress, in order that they might have another day to consider the measure in its entirety. And he thought he might do this, not only because the measure would be inefficient for its professed object, but because the expense of the measure would be much heavier than was at first contemplated. The Bill, in fact, now was nothing but a measure for raising a volunteer corps under militia regulations. But what would a volunteer corps of 80,000 men raised by a bounty of 6l. each amount to? Not to the estimated expense of 350,000l., but of 480,000l. This was for the men alone; and if they added the expense of staff officers, uniforms, arms, & c, the sum would be much nearer 750,000l., and all for a measure totally unfit for the purpose for which it was designed. He wanted to know what the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) was going 337 to do. The noble Lord had hitherto been so complaisant with respect to all the proposals that had come from the other side of the House, that one would almost be tempted to suppose that there had been some kind of previous concert between the noble Lord and the Government. But the noble Lord had told the House that it was quite possible there might be an invasion of 60,000 men from Cherbourg in one night; and he (Mr. Cobden) wanted to know whether, notwithstanding that announcement, the noble Lord was prepared to acquiesce in this proposal, which entirely subverted the plan on which the militia was to be enrolled. He (Mr. Cobden) did not admit that the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department was right in his surmise that he would get these 50,000 men together by voluntary enlistment. He disputed this conclusion entirely, from his knowledge of the different counties. Knowing, as he did, the districts where the largest population existed, and where consequently the largest number of men was required—if they took them according to counties, as Lancashire, Yorkshire, or Middlesex, he was confident the Government would be unable to get a sufficient number of men by voluntary enlistment. And, even if they did get a number, did anybody believe that the vagabond, helpless creatures who were tempted to accept the bounty would be forthcoming when wanted? He could understand why men who were drawn by a compulsory ballot, whose domiciles were known, would consent, although unwillingly, to serve as militiamen; but that men obtained by the offer of a bounty of 6l. each, would be found when wanted, he did not believe. Let hon. Members ask any recruiting officer, and he would tell them that in the case of soldiers who did not pocket more than 8s. or 10s. of bounty, they did not dare to lose sight of the men from the moment they enlisted until they joined the regiment. A more ludicrous waste of money, therefore, or a more ludicrous waste of time, he could not conceive than that which was involved in the passing of the present measure. He therefore hoped the Committee would agree that the Chairman should report progress, and, under the altered circumstances in which they now found themselves, take till tomorrow not only to consider the whole Bill, but give the public out of doors time to consider it.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he wished to know whether 338 the hon. Gentleman meant to insist upon the Motion for reporting progress. [Mr. COBDEN replied in the negative.] He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) should not make any remark upon the description which the hon. Gentleman had given of the people of England, as vagabonds, a description of the multitude almost equivalent to the phrase of "ignorant clodhoppers," which had been used, on more than one occasion, by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright). He could not help saying, however, that it was certainly remarkable that hon. Gentlemen who appealed so often to the popular sympathy, and who, while declaring that it was an age hostile to peculiar privileges, claimed for themselves the peculiar privilege of representing the people, never spoke in that House of what were called "the masses" but in terms of contempt and scorn; neither would he speculate upon the cause which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) had assigned for "the vagabonds" not being likely to give their services for the defence of the country, namely, that the people were rapidly emigrating. With regard to that point, he would not then offer any opinion; but if it were true, the right hon. Gentleman probably knew something of the cause of it. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had merely risen when, as he thought, a Motion was before the House to report progress—a Motion which had been made when the Committee was proceeding with their business in a businesslike way, and, as he thought, in a very satisfactory mode—though he supposed it had not been satisfactory to the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden)—he had risen, he said, for the purpose of asking what foundation the hon. Gentleman had for saying that the principle upon which the Bill had been brought in had been changed? The Bill, he maintained, was brought in upon the principle of voluntary enlistment, which, after due consideration—he might say after great deliberation, and after having had the advantage of sources of information, which, without arrogance, were not inferior to those which were enjoyed by the hon. Gentleman—the Government believed would produce a sufficiently numerous and efficient force; and, he begged to add, that the intelligence which they were every day receiving, tended strongly to confirm that conviction. Such was the principle upon which the Bill was brought in, and 339 from that principle the Government had not deviated. With respect to what had been said by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State as to the postponement of the ballot, he begged to observe, that under ordinary circumstances it would probably take not less than four months to bring the ballot into full operation; and in consideration of that circumstance his right hon. Friend, with great discretion and with the entire sanction of his Colleagues, had proposed that, as it was perfectly understood the next Parliament would meet in the course of the present year, it would be only fair to insert in the Bill such a date for the commencement of the ballot as would secure to the new Parliament the power of interfering to prevent its being brought into operation at all, if it should appear that there was any probability of its being considered oppressive or unpopular in the country. Now, in his opinion, this was an offer which had been wisely and properly made by his right hon. Friend, and he could not see in it the slightest deviation from the principle of the measure, or the policy which had dictated it. He saw in it only, he would not say a concession, but a wise consideration for the feelings of the House and the country, and a desire to expedite the business before them, by not insisting upon a point which was unnecessary to the practical result. For the hon. Gentleman, therefore, to come forward and pretend that a change had been proposed in the principle of the Bill, was one of those gratuitous exaggerations which the hon. Gentleman had so often had felicitous recourse to, and which, at other times and under other circumstances, he had found to he attended with considerable success—though he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) trusted that on the present occasion the result would not be quite so successful. He repeated that in having recourse to the ballot by the Amendment proposed by his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, they practically did not deviate from the plan they had first sketched. The ballot would not be brought into operation for three or four months, and in little more than four months a new Parliament would have met. He contended, therefore, that Government had done all in their power to consult the feelings and wishes of the House and the country. The measure of the Government was not what it had been represented to be, namely, an attempt to introduce a disciplined force to encounter the veteran armies of the States 340 of Europe. They never pretended to do anything of the kind; and to draw a comparison between the legions of Algiers, or the armies of the Caucasus, and the proposed militia, was one of those misrepresentations which he thought the Committee ought not to encourage. This was an attempt to habituate the people of this country more to the use of arms than was at present their custom. Circumstances, irresistible circumstances, had for a long time rendered such a policy necessary; and if this Bill should he adopted, though it was not a measure that would produce a disciplined army able to encounter the veteran legions of the world, it would be the first step in a right direction, and would lay the foundation of a constitutional system of national defence.
§ MR. COBDEN
repelled with indignation the imputation of the right hon. Gentleman, who had charged him with describing the people of this country as vagabonds. What he (Mr. Cobden) had really said, ought to have protected him from such a misrepresentation. He had too much respect for the people of England to suppose that they would accept the proposed bounty to turn soldiers for twenty-one days. He had said that the people of Lancashire, of Yorkshire, and of Middlesex, with whom he was particularly acquainted, were too profitably employed to do so. He was satisfied that mechanics and artisans would not accept the bounty to turn soldiers for twenty-one days; and he repeated, that the men they were likely to get as volunteers in this way would be the vagabondage of the country.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, it was evident that the hon. Member for the West Riding was ready to wheel about and march back again. The hon. Member had retracted his imputation upon the people of England, and he (Colonel Sibthorp) supposed, therefore, that he was ashamed of himself. He only hoped that those who had sent the hon. Gentleman to that House would recollect the terms in which he had described them. Vagabonds! Would the hon. Gentleman venture to say that upon the hustings? No, no. The hon. Member might apply such terms to the people of the West Riding; but he (Colonel Sibthorp) would challenge the hon. Gentleman to go down to the county of Lincoln and use the same language there. So much for the liberal way in which that hon. Member dealt with the people when it was convenient to him. He rose to relieve the 341 mind of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), who seemed to be afraid of the ballot. The hon. Gentleman might go to bed and sleep soundly, for the Act of George III. specially exempted "the people called Quakers" from the penalties for not serving or taking the oaths. Whether the hon. Gentleman were Quaker or not, let him pay for those who would protect his property, and he (Colonel Sibthorp) would venture to say, that whenever danger arose, the hon. Member would be one of the very first to look out for such protection.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to consider that an unnecessary discussion had been raised upon this subject, and he complained of the violence of the speech of the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden). The right hon. Gentleman said that it was quite a mistake to suppose that the Government had made any change of importance in the Bill. He (Mr. Bright) did not quite understand what the right hon. Gentleman meant by "making a change." Last Friday night the right hon. Gentleman delivered a speech, which led every body who sat behind him to think that he had made a great change. [Cries of "No, no!"] That was the universal conviction of the country; but the night before last the right hon. Gentleman rose, about two o'clock in the morning, in a most indignant temper, to assure the House that he had not made any change at all. The measure now before the House was one which they had discussed, in one shape or another, for some weeks past; but he maintained that a very important change, not in the principle of the Bill, but in the circumstances under which the Government had defended it, had taken place. When the first Bill on this subject was introduced in February, the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) who brought it forward stated that it was a very important measure, and one which ought to be proceeded with at once. Well, the noble Lord went out of office, and was succeeded by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his friends. Several weeks were wasted, and no further steps were taken on this very important subject, so that it did not appear that the Government regarded the measure as one of very great urgency. This was, he thought, a very convenient measure for protracting a dissolution of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman had made this change: Instead of expressing an absolute certainty that the proposed force 342 would be raised within the year, or that even 10,000 men could be raised, he was now content to leave the whole question of defences, until the end of the year, to the chapter of accidents. He (Mr. Bright) would take the opinion of the military men among the right hon. Gentleman's supporters; and he believed their opinion—and the universal opinion of the military men in that House—was, that the proposed force could not be raised within the time contemplated by the Government by the system of volunteering. The right hon. Home Secretary seemed to think differently; but he presumed that the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to set up his own personal opinion in opposition to that of nearly every military man in the House. He (Mr. Bright) believed all those Gentlemen agreed that even if they did raise the force, so far as giving the bounty and enrolling the men was concerned, the security they had of obtaining the services of that force, when they were required, was of the very faintest description. Now, guiding himself by the opinions of the Gentlemen to whom he had referred, he (Mr. Bright) said that the Government had entirely shifted their ground. The Government had new rejected and abandoned the ground of urgency. When the measure was introduced by the present Government, he (Mr. Bright) suggested that it should be left over, as part of the general policy of the country, for the decision of the constituencies at the general election. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to be very unwilling to go to the country on the question of the Corn Laws. The Earl of Derby proposed to go to the country on his general policy. This was a question of general policy. The Government now showed they did not consider it a matter of urgency, and that it might therefore very safely be left to discussion at the elections and in the next Parliament. At all events, let the clauses be left out relating to the ballot, as the ballot was not to be taken this year, and that was the point which most nearly touched the feelings of the people, and had excited the greatest dislike in the country. The new Parliament was to meet in October or November, and they could then much better decide on the question of the ballot. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had made a very jaunty speech; and he said the object was to accustom the people of this country more to the use of arms, and that this was travelling in the right direction. Now, there was no gua- 343 rantee for freedom or for for peace worth less than the guarantee of a people used to arms; and if there was one thing which more than any other had rivetted the fetters of Europe, it was the military system under which almost all persons were trained to be soldiers, and great armies could be gathered together to he wielded by the will of one man, while the rest of the people had no power of opinion or of physical force to resist those armies. The right hon. Gentleman was an unsafe guide in this matter; and the Government to which he belonged would be remembered in after times as one of the most unfortunate and mischievous we ever possessed, if it signalised its possession of power by accustoming the industrious and peaceful population of this country to arms, and inuring them to the practice of the maintenance of 100,000 or 150,000 persons of the military profession within the United Kingdom. He looked upon what was going on in Europe as that which ought to be a beacon and a warning to this country; and if we had not experience enough in our own history to guide us, surely there was enough in every country of Europe to show that great armies ate up industry, prevented constitutional freedom and reform, and paved the way for rivetting round the necks of a people the fetters of a military despotism.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he was not surprised at the annoyance hon. Gentlemen opposite felt at the announcement he had made. The reason was that it deprived them of one pretext for opposing the Motion, and also of the opportunity of stating in that House what they had been saying in the country about the intentions of the Government, although the Government had declared from the commencement that they intended to rely mainly upon voluntary, and not upon compulsory, enlistment. The Government were now practically convincing the country of this by offering in the clauses and details of the Bill to preclude themselves from doing otherwise than they had intended from the outset—namely, giving an assurance that the ballot was not to be put into operation until they ascertained that voluntary enlistment would fail. How would the matter have stood as originally intended? They would have tried to raise the men by voluntary enlistment, and then, if they failed, they would have had recourse to the old provisions of the statute of the 42 Geo. III., and put that Act in operation in the case of invasion, or of imminent danger thereof. 344 What the Government, therefore, proposed by the announcement he had made that night, was strictly consistent with everything that he had stated from the commencement of the discussions on this subject. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) accused him of making a speech alarming the country; as if he had ever advocated this measure on the ground that he apprehended the dangers of an immediate invasion. Now it would be in the recollection of the Committee that he had guarded himself specially, when he introduced the measure, by distincly declaring that the Government did not make this proposition because they thought that there now was a danger of invasion; but rather upon the general principle that it was not right that a country like this should remain in a state of undefence; and that since there was no apprehension of invasion at this moment, this was the very best opportunity for providing for that defence in an effectual manner. They had thought that provident precaution was the best means of preventing attack, and that the present moment was the best opportunity for taking that wise precaution, without giving an offence, and without exciting any suspicion, or offering any provocation, or any alarm in the minds of foreign Powers. He had felt it needful to make these remarks in order to set right the intentions of the Government, which, he must say, had been not a little perverted, and consequently misunderstood.
§ MR. BASS
said, he had been anxious to discuss the 7th Clause before now; but considerable difficulty had been thrown in the way by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Haddingtonshire (Mr. Charteris), which he regretted had been withdrawn. He (Mr. Bass) had high military authority for believing that a well-drilled force of 20,000 men would be preferable to the proposed militia.
§ MR. CHARTERIS
said, that he would not have ventured, without consulting military authorities, to have brought before the attention of the Committee the proposition of which he had given notice, and more especially after the lecture he had presumed to give to his friends on his right the other night. Yet the practical men to whom he submitted his Motion strongly approved of it, and agreed in thinking that a force of 40,000 men effectually trained, would be better than 80,000 militiamen. It had not been his intention to press his Motion to a division—he merely brought it 345 forward as a suggestion for the consideration of the Committee; and as the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) had taken up the proposition, he (Mr. Charteris) was willing to withdraw it. But as he believed that 80,000 men was more than would be required, seeing that they were not intended to cope with an enemy in the field, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert) had stated the number requisite for garrison duty was from 25,000 to 30,000—on these grounds, if the right hon. Member for Manchester persisted in dividing the Committee against the insertion of the words "80,000 men," he (Mr. Charteris) should give him his support.
§ MR. HEYWORTH
begged to remind the Committee of a statement made by the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, that there was no immediate danger; and he would also refer to the argument of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De L. Evans) to show that there was full occupation for the French army within its own territories, for of that army 70,000 men wore in Algeria. What was said of the French coming to invade this country was a mere pretence; there was no danger; and the object was to raise a large army to keep the people under.
§ MR. OSWALD
said, he had not hitherto taken part in the discussions on this Bill; and when the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, instead of turning the other cheek, smote the noble Lord the Member for the City of London under the fifth rib, he (Mr. Oswald) did not vote on the second reading. He thought it would be better to have 15,000 soldiers instead of 80,000 militia. But the House of Commons had said, by a majority of 150, that there should be a militia. He bowed to that decision, and he came down to-night prepared to support Her Majesty's Government, for whom he had neither love nor affection, in carrying this Bill, because the Commons of England had said that such a Bill ought to be carried. He would ask the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) what he meant to fill up the blank with'? If he meant to fill it up with nothing, then the Chairman ought not to be sitting in that chair, but Mr. Speaker ought to be sitting a little above the Chairman, for that involved the principle of the Bill, and he (Mr. Oswald) could not vote with the right hon. Gentleman against the principle of the Bill. Every one who went into the lobby with 346 the right hon. Gentleman voted against the Bill.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he proposed that "eighty" should not stand part of the clause. He left it for others to deal with the number as they might see fit.
§ MR. J. EVANS
thought that, if the effect of the proposal made by the right hon. Member for Manchester was to omit the word "eighty," and not to substitute anything in its place, such a proposal was against the principle of the Bill; and, the principle having been affirmed by that House, however opposed he (Mr, J. Evans) might be to the Bill, he would not vote for the omission of the word.
§ MR. TORRENS M'CULLAGH
said, he understood the Committee would vote on the question whether the word "eighty" should be inserted in the blank. He thought it was perfectly competent for hon. Members to vote for the Motion of his right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson), for he conceived that he did not change any essential principle of the Bill by his proposition.
§ MR. CHARTERIS
said, that if the Motion of the right hon. Member for Manchester were carried, the blank would not be filled up by"80,000,"but it would be competent for any one to propose that the blank should be filled up with whatever number he might think fit.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 237; Noes, 106: Majority 131.
|List of AYES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Booth, Sir R. G.|
|Anson, Visct.||Bowles, Adm.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Bramston, T. W.|
|Arkwright, G.||Bremridge, R.|
|Bagge, W.||Bridges, Sir B. W.|
|Bailey, C.||Brisco, M.|
|Bailey, J.||Brocklehurst, J.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Brooke, Sir A. B.|
|Baird, J.||Bruce, C. L. C.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Buller, Sir J. Y.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Bunbury, W. M.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Burghley, Lord|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Butler, P. S.|
|Benbow, J.||Cabbell, B. B.|
|Bennet, P.||Campbell, Sir A. I.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Carew, W. H. P.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Cayley, E. S.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Chandos, Marq. of|
|Blair, S.||Chatterton, Col.|
|Blandford, Marq, of||Chichester, Lord J. L.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Child, S.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Christopher, rt. hn. R. A.|
|Booker, T. W.||Christy, S.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Hildyard, R. C.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Clive, H. B.||Hill, Lord E.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hollond, R.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Hope, Sir J.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Hope, H. T.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Hotham, Lord|
|Coke, hon. E. K.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Collins, T.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Hudson, G.|
|Conolly, T.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Cotton, hon. W. H. S.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Johnstone, J.|
|Denison, E.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Jones, Capt.|
|Dod, J. W.||Knox, Col.|
|Dodd, G.||Knox, hon. W. S.|
|Drumlanrig, Visct.||Langton, W. H. P. G.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Lascelles, Hon. E.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Legh, G. C.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Lennard, T. B.|
|Dunne, Col.||Lennox, Lord A. G.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Edwards, H.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Long, W.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Lowther, H.|
|Estcourt, J. B. B.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Euston, Earl of||Mahon, The O'Gorman|
|Farnham, E. B.||Mandeville, Visct.|
|Farrer, J.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Fellowes, E.||Manners, Lord G.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Manners, Lord J.|
|FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.||March, Earl of|
|Floyer, J.||Martin, C. W.|
|Forbes, W.||Matheson, Col.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Col.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Fox, S. W. L.||Meux, Sir H.|
|Freestun, Col.||Miles, P. W. S.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Miles, W.|
|Galway, Visct.||Moody, C. A.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Morgan, O.|
|Gilpin, Col.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Gooch, Sir E. S.||Mundy, W.|
|Goold, W.||Mure, Col.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Naas, Lord|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Napier, rt. hon. J.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Neeld, J.|
|Greenall, G.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Greene, T.||Newport, Visct.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Noel, hon. J. G.|
|Grogan, E.||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Guernsey, Lord||Oswald, A.|
|Gwyn, H.||Packe, C. W.|
|Hale, R. B.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Palmer, R.|
|Hall, Col.||Palmer, R.|
|Halsey, T. P.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Pennant, hon. Col.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Perfect, R.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Hardinge, hon. C. S.||Portal, M.|
|Hatchell, rt. hon. J.||Pusey, P.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Heald, J.||Rushout, Capt.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Sandars, G.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Seymour, Lord||Verner, Sir W.|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Slaney, R. A.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Smyth, J. G.||Villiers, hon. F. W. C.|
|Smollett, A.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Spooner, R.||Waddington, D.|
|Stafford, A.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Stanley, E.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Stanton, W. H.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Staunton, Sir G. T.||Wegg-Prosser, F. R.|
|Stuart, Lord J.||Welby, G. E.|
|Stuart, H.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Stuart, J.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Sturt, H. G.||Whiteside, J.|
|Sullivan, M.||Wigram, L. T.|
|Tennent, Sir J. E.||Williams, T. P.|
|Thesiger, Sir F.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Thompson, Ald.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Tollemache, J.||Wynn, H. W. W.|
|Townley, R. G.||Torke, hon. E. T.|
|Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.||TELLERS.|
|Tyler, Sir G.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Tyrell, Sir J. T.||Bateson, T.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Alcock, T.||Heneage, E.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Henry, A.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Heywood, J.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Heyworth, L.|
|Bass, M. T.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Bell, J.||Hindley, C.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Bright, J.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Hume, J.|
|Brown, W.||Hutchins, E. J.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Hutt, W.|
|Carter, S.||Jackson, W.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Kershaw, J.|
|Childers, J. W.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Clay, J.||Langston, J. H.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Laslett, W.|
|Cobden, R.||Locke, J.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Marshall, J. G.|
|Collins, W.||Martin, J.|
|Cowan, C.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Craig, Sir W. G.||Milligan, R.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Dashwood, Sir G. H.||Morris, D.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.||Mowatt, F.|
|Divett, E.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Douglass, Sir C. E.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Duff, G. S.||Peel, F.|
|Duff, J.||Pilkington, J.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Pinney, W.|
|Duncan, G.||Reynolds, J.|
|Ellis, J.||Ricardo, O.|
|Evans, J.||Rice, E. R.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Rich, H.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Romilly, Col.|
|Forster, M.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Fox, W. J.||Salwey, Col.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Scobell, Capt.|
|Greene, J.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Grenfell, C. P.||Smith, J. B.|
|Grey, R. W.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Stewart, Adm.|
|Hastie, A.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Thompson, Col.|
|Thompson, G.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Thornely, T.||Williams, W.|
|Villiers, hon. C.||Wilson, M.|
|Vivian, J. H.||Wyld, J.|
|Walmsley, Sir J.||Charteris, F. W.|
|Watkins, Col. L.||Gibson, T. M.|
§ The blank was then filled up with the words "eighty thousand."
§ MR. BRIGHT
had an Amendment to propose, to exempt these militiamen from the punishment of the lash; but at that hour of the morning, a quarter to one o'clock, it was scarcely to he expected that he should now go on with it. He would move that the Chairman do report progress.
§ House resumed; Committee report progress.