§ Order read, for resuming adjourned Debate on Question [20th December], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair,"
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, it was a significant fact, that of the Gentlemen who had addressed the House from among that section which generally supported the Government, but who at the same time vindicated fur themselves the right of freedom of thought and freedom of discussion, the most distinguished had united in denouncing this Bill as unworthy of the Government, unworthy of the object in view, and unworthy of the great country to which it was presented. He begged to offer his humble meted of approbation of the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), in which he so boldly and successfully attacked and destroyed the principle—if, indeed, there was a principle on which the Bill was founded. That Gentleman, with an eloquence worthy of the subject, went at once to the fountain head, and exposed the immorality, in a national point of view, of trying to filch and decoy subjects of neutral States to engage in a war in which their Governments had not declared themselves engaged. On principle, indeed, Her 747 Majesty's Government had not a shred to stand by in the degrading proposition which they had made. Having admired the candid, straightforward, and truly English speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester, he felt himself bound also to pay a tribute to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who represented the West Riding of Yorkshire. That hon. Gentleman had come forward with true English spirit to say that this was not a Bill suited to the emergency, and that foreign mercenaries were not persons to be associated with the gallant army now engaged in the siege of Sebastopol. No one, indeed, would pretend to say that these mercenaries were men who would cheer the drooping spirits—if it was, indeed, possible that the spirits of such men could ever droop—of our soldiers either by their "lonely watchfires," their fatiguing marches, or amid the many hardships which they endured. In the words of the ancient poet—Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis Tempus eget.He rejoiced to hear sentiments like these coming from the other side of the House; and he asked, what must the Government think when they found the most eminent men, who generally supported their views, denouncing the measure which they now pressed upon the House and the country? It was evident that they had themselves no confidence in this measure. They had seen the noble Lord the President of the Council rise to defend it no less than three times, and to reiterate over and over again the arguments that had been so successfully refuted on all sides of the House. The Secretary at War had twice risen in defence of the measure, and a more feeble exhibition it never was his lot to witness than that made by the right hon. Gentleman in favour of this Bill. Indeed, the whole conduct of the Government was pitiable in the extreme. The noble Lord, when he found himself hard pressed by an argument, got up and complained of misrepresentation in a manner that was not very creditable to the Government. He heard the noble Lord with astonishment complain of misrepresentation on the part of the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), because he said the hon. Member had looked upon this as the only measure taken by Government for relieving the troops serving in the Crimea. The hon. Member had made no misrepresentations whatever, and he believed that if they knew the noble Lord's real view of 748 this matter it would be found not to be far different from that of the hon. Member for the West Riding. He did not wish to take detailed exceptions to the conduct of the Government, but the day would come when the whole conduct of the Government with regard to the war must undergo the most searching investigation, and then hon. Members on that side of the House would go into all the details. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War, instead of answering the other night the important charge brought forward by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), had shielded himself under the mystification of a number of idle details. He stated that 56,000 had been sent from this country to the Crimea, just as if there was at any one time a force in the Crimea amounting to 56,000 men. That was a misrepresentation for which the people of England were not prepared, because it was well known that from 25,000 to 27,000 men only crossed to the Crimea, and that the miserable supplies sent from time to time had but barely filled up the losses they had incurred; but he would retain this and other charges against Ministers relating to the general conduct of the war for that full and ample discussion which the subject must at some future period receive. With regard to the Bill before the House, he drew the strongest arguments against it from the defence of the measure itself. He found in the weakness of the position taken by the Government—defended though it was by consummate debaters—in the miserable fallacies of the noble Lord the President of the Council, and in the plausible reasonings of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston)—in all these he found evidences of weakness which were conclusive in condemnation of the Bill. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton endeavoured to make it appear that the constitutional jealousy of foreign mercenaries entertained in this country was nothing more than a difficulty which presented itself to the House of Commons; but no one knew better than the noble Secretary of State for the Home Department that this was not merely a question of Parliamentary privilege, not merely jealousy of the Crown on the part of the House of Commons, but a question of time-hallowed and sacred privileges on which the people of England set the highest value. He had no hesitation in saying that, if there was one feeling more cherished by the people of England 749 than another, it was the inviolability of this sacred island from the tread of foreigners, and particularly of foreign mercenaries. But when these foreigners were not merely armed troops, but men filched and stolen by the most discreditable devices from the most dishonest of Governments—for those Governments must be dishonest if they affected to be neutral and yet permitted their men to fight under our standard—if these Men were to be the scum, the vilest offscourings of all the petty States of Europe—which they must be if they were so wanting in character as to sell their nationality for gold—then nothing would exceed the disgust of the people of England. The noble Lord the President of the Council said there was no difference between such men and those who fought in the Peninsular war, mid who under the Duke of Wellington won some of the most glorious victories that are recorded in the annals of this country; but he indignantly denied that there was any resemblance between them and our gallant countrymen, who fought for all that could ennoble life and render death glorious. He regarded this, therefore, as a most miserable and disgraceful measure. After what had been said on all sides of the House regarding it, he felt assured that he did not overstep the limits of moderation when he said that it was both disgraceful and odious—disgracefulin the eyes of foreigners, in the eyes of our enemies, to whom, above all men, they were bound to show a hold front. Well had it been remarked by the hon. Member for the West Riding that it was a cry, as it were, of national bankruptcy; and how delightful such a cry must be, When proceeding from the Treasury benches, to the Emperor of Russia. It made them equally disgraceful in the eyes of their allies. What would that great nation—the French—and their noble Emperor, who was doing his part in this war so nobly, think of this pitiful and miserable device that had been resorted to by our Government? And was it likely that Austria and Prussia would be as willing as they otherwise might have been to act in concert with a country which had resorted to such modes of warfare? But the Government was not England. The Government might have no confidence in the power and resources of this country, but there were others who had, and who would have nothing to do with the miserable measure which they had submitted to Parliament. There were men on that (the 750 Opposition) side of the House who had no sympathy with such a measure, and who proudly maintained that there was in England a power and a determination to carry on this war to a glorious and successful issue. He could not, indeed, understand what had led men in the position of Government to come forward with a Bill which had been indignantly scouted throughout the kingdom, and he was prepared to give it his most unqualified opposition.
§ MR. COLLIER
said, that he was one of those Members who had not supported the present measure without reluctance, but he thought that the taunts thrown out against them of voting against their conscience were entirely misplaced. He was quite at a loss to see any inconsistency in reluctance to vote for a measure and a feeling of conviction at the same time as to its necessity. The question, and the only question, was, whether or not the measure was necessary. He, for one, would rather not adopt it, but would prefer that we should fight our own battles; but still the question was, whether or not it was necessary. Now, the Government. on the one side, asserted that it was necessary, and the Opposition, on the other, declared it was not; and he, as an independent Member, thought that the Government must be the best informed on the subject, though he could well understand that there might exist good reasons, independent of considerations of loss or retention of office, to induce the Government to withhold, at present, the information they possessed. The arguments against the measure had been accompanied with a great deal of eloquent declamation, wit, and powerful sarcasm, but he had not heard it proved—what, indeed, was a material point—that the country could do without the proposed assistance. He had listened to the Opposition with the view of learning what amount of disciplined and trained forces this country could bring into the field, and what number of troops would be opposed to them, but he had failed to hear any computation of our probable forces, or those of the enemy, by which it would appear that without the proposed aid we should be able to meet the forces of the Emperor of Russia. In support of the Government there was the opinion of the Commander in Chief—there was Lord Raglan writing home for succour of the kind now proposed, and there was our army in the Crimea, which would probably prefer the immediate succour of foreign troops to the promise of some aid of a different kind 751 hereafter. Moreover, the Government, possessing, no doubt, full information, declared on their own responsibility that the proposed force was necessary for the conduct of the war, and, under all these circumstances, he felt he should incur a fearful responsibility if he refused that aid for the vigorous prosecution of the war which the Government stated was necessary. A great deal had been said about it being a reproach to this country that it was unable in itself to raise a sufficient force, but, for his part, he assuredly could not see that that was any matter of reproach. This country was in a transition state from being a peaceful to becoming a warlike nation. That state of transition must last some time, and it was no ground of reproach that in time of peace this country had not a large standing army, and that its Queen did not require the same military support as might be necessary to continental despots. In his mind, it was no cause of reproach that the weapon with which disturbances in this country were suppressed was the staff of the special constable, and not the bayonet of the soldier, and that, consequently, this country had not, like continental nations, a great standing army. However much, then, they might appreciate the conduct of the British soldiers—and he cordially admitted that they were the best soldiers in the world—still it was going beyond what they had any right to boast of to say that the English recruit of sixteen years of age was equal to the disciplined foreigner of twenty-six years of age, or that our ploughmen could suddenly be converted into soldiers equal to the continental veterans. If the Government declared that they wanted 20,000 men, and could not raise them here, what was the use of hon. Members boasting of resources which the country did not possess? Did they suppose they could conceal weakness by vain boasting? Which would damage the Emperor of Russia most—20,000 bayonets added to the allied force, or boasts of inexhaustible resources? He would not enter into the constitutional objections to the measure, which seemed one by one to have vanished, or into the distinction, which appeared more technical than substantial, between troops whose country was hostile to and those whose country was not hostile to Russia. He did not participate in the fear of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) that we might possibly embroil some of the continental Powers 752 with Russia. He certainly should not feel much anxiety on that account. Every argument against the measure had been exhausted that could by fair criticism or perverse ingenuity be urged against it; and, not content with precedents in English history, hon. Members opposing the Bill had had recourse to the history of Greece. The House had had its attention directed to a despatch written by Nicias; but he thought there was a passage in the history of Greece far more applicable to the present case: when entering upon the war with Philip, Demosthenes urged the Athenians to prosecute the war with vigour, and rebuked them for substituting empty declamation for troops in the field. "Men of Athens," he said, "when will you do your duty? Will you wait for some catastrophe—will you wait for some necessity? But what greater necessity can there be than the reproach that your arms have hitherto failed?" That reproach now attached to this country; our arms had hitherto failed in taking Sebastopol, and it concerned our dignity and our honour, and it might concern our safety, that our arms should succeed. Those who had reproached the Government for being too late, now reproached it for being too early; and, like the procrastinating Athenians, would wait until some great catastrophe occurred. They would wait until the lives of all our gallant soldiers in the Crimea should be sacrificed; and then they would say was the time for the present measure. Heaven forbid that the fate of England should be like the sequel to that page in Athenian history, and that the English should be reduced to the condition to which the Athenians were brought! But if they did not take measures to avert such a catastrophe—if they did not render timely succour to the British troops in their present emergency in the Crimea, they would incur a heavy responsibility in which he was not ready to participate.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Collier) appeared to have some difficulty in reconciling his conscience to the vote he had given in favour of this measure. The hon. Gentleman had spoken much of the consequences that threatened if the Bill were rejected, and of the immediate results likely to flow from the employment of these foreign mercenaries. But where, he (Mr. Newdegate) would ask, were these 10,000 men in buckram, 753 of whom so much was said? By the very Bill itself, it was made perfectly plain that these foreign recruits, instead of being ready for immediate service, were to remain some time in this country for the purpose of training, and the Government refused to tell even the nation from whence they were to be drawn, but talked of collecting stray emigrants from abroad and forming them into battalions. This must be a work of time, and precluded the idea of these foreigners being available for the immediate necessities of the war in the Crimea. Let Her Majesty's Ministers get up and say that they have 10,000 men ready to proceed to the Crimea. Such a statement might in some degree justify the demand made for the admission of these troops into England; but no such statement had been made. Let them state the nation whence they are to come. Let some assurance be given that these men would be found trustworthy on their junction with our glorious army in the Crimea. He could never believe that the House of Commons would be hood-winked into voting for the introduction of this force of tramping foreigners, by a declaration that the country was unprepared for the present emergency, without some assurance that these foreign troops were really available to meet the emergency. There could be no doubt that the passing of such a measure would do much to check the progress of enlistment throughout the country. The language which he heard on all sides from his fellow-subjects was—If the Government thinks that hired foreigners will fight the battles of England better than her own men, and the House of Commons sanctions such an opinion, why let them trust these foreigners—let them take these foreigners; we will wait till they are undeceived.That, he could assure hon. Gentlemen, was but a common idea throughout the country. But there was another point which had scarcely received due consideration. Let the House consider the character of the enemy to whom they were opposed; of all the powers of Europe Russia best understood the means of corrupting her adversaries: no power had gained so much by the corrupt use of gold, and by flattering the feelings, the prejudices, the partialities, the ambition, the covetousness of those with whom she had to contend. There was no art of seduction, no course of intrigue, no species of falsehood, to which that Government did not feel justified in resorting. Now, of all troops in 754 the world, mercenaries were the most liable to corruption; and yet they had not been told where these troops were to come from, and they were without any guarantee as to their character or good-will towards this country, although they were to be placed in the camp and in the line of battle of our gallant army in the Crimea, in close contact with the power most likely to corrupt them. The proposal of the Bill was simply this, that we should oppose to the most corrupting of all powers, of all forces the most corruptible. He did not think that the Government could fairly expect the House of Commons to incur such a danger. The House had heard him put a question to the noble Lord the Member for the City of London yesterday, relative to the transference of troops from India to the Crimea. Why, the Government spoke of the power or this empire as if it consisted only of the 27,000,000 population of the United Kingdom, and of the 120,000 men which composed our army. He was happy to say that there were men acknowledging Queen Victoria as their Sovereign in every clime. In India alone there was a population of 150,000,000 and a drilled force of 290,000 men, and he would remind the House, if the Government chose to adopt the means, that in less than four months they could place an armed disciplined force of British soldiers from India in the Crimea. Now, When they told him they would meet the emergency of the case by collecting an army of strangers from the Continent, and bringing them over here to drill them into battalions, he could turn on them and ask, had they taken any steps to avail themselves of the 290,000 men in India, part of which force might within four months be placed in the Crimea. Sonic of these were of the Queen's army, Europeans and Englishmen, and among the rest were reckoned as fine troops as need be led against the enemy—men with no Russian sympathies—with no doubtful allegiance—but men who had stood by the standard of England amidst all the vicissitudes of her long campaigns against their own neighbours and countrymen. There was another point scarcely yet noticed in the House. As the Bill was introduced into the House of Lords, it was distinctly specified that these foreign troops were to be quartered in this country, and were to be used in the country as well as without it, Their Lordships, however, objected, and very naturally objected, to that. They were not prepared to see this country 755 under an Austrian or German occupation; and the provision was accordingly altered. Still, let them examine how the Bill remained. The House would find the tenor of the Bill in great measure unchanged. They were about to collect a foreign force to be drilled in this country, and yet the Secretary at War told the House he could not embody the militia, because there was not barrack room to house them as well as the regular army. So that they were actually going to barrack these mercenaries throughout the country, while they refused to embody the native militia for want of barrack room. He (Mr. Newdegate) wanted to know where these foreigners were to be placed—whether the Government were going to displace the garrisons of Plymouth, Portsmouth, Chatham, or Woolwich for the accommodation of these foreigners? Were they going to remove the troops from our arsenals to make room for these foreigners? Were they to occupy the Tower—the Trafalgar Square barracks—those of the Green Park? Were they about to add to the sense of safety, freedom, and security which Her Majesty enjoyed in the midst of Her own subjects, by placing a large body of these mercenaries at Windsor; merely, of course, for the purpose of drilling and training? It appeared to him that the whole framework of the Bill was consistent with its original intention—namely, that these troops were to be employed as home garrisons. The more he considered the Bill, the more he was surprised that the House of Commons should have placed such blind confidence in a Government who had made such an inadequate provision for carrying on the war, and now proposed such questionable measures. Although the expedition to the Crimea had proved hitherto unsuccessful—because it had been undertaken too late—becouse it had been left unsupported by any available reserve—because the Government had failed to secure a diversion by means of the Turkish army, and thus to prevent the concentration of the Russian troops in the Crimea—and because the Russian army were left in the undisturbed possession of the great resources of Odessa—although this expedition had hitherto proved unsuccessful through the rashness and incompetency of the Government, still he believed they were striking at Russia in the right place—that they would best curb her ambition by taking Sebastopol. He (Mr. Newdegate) sincerely desired the 756 accomplishment of that great object. Nevertheless, he heartily and cordially voted against this Bill, as a measure which he had no reason to hope would meet the immediate necessity for the reinforcement of our army; as a measure dangerous in itself, as calculated to prevent the country putting forth its natural elements of strength; and, lastly, he would vote against it in order to force Her Majesty's Government to use the resources at their disposal by drawing British soldiers from India and elsewhere for service in the Crimea.
§ MR. FRESHFIELD
Sir, I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) that he has confined himself to points which had not been made by other speakers; on the contrary, I am aware only of one subject discussed by him which has not already been urged—almost the only suggestion of my hon. Friend which approximates to originality, although in principle it is not so, because it falls within that general class with which the House has been so largely supplied—namely, improved means of carrying on the war. My hon. Friend recommends that the British force in India should be transferred to the Crimea; but if I am permitted to travel in the same course—I mean that of volunteering warlike suggestions—I must differ from my hon. Friend. I consider this not a war to obtain this or that local object; it has become a war with Russia in which we must endeavour by all means to weaken her power and her influence, and even to give greater effect to our present operations by making diversions on every possible point. I should therefore prefer the plan of employing the British force in the East in the invasion of the more remote possessions of Russia. But in pursuing that suggestion, I should open a new subject for discussion and a further cause of delay, instead of prosecuting the object for which I rose, which was to urge the House to discourage further delay and to proceed with the Bill—feeling as I do, in common with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Plymouth (Mr. Collier), that every objection to the measure is exhausted. The two great speakers opposed to the Bill were heard on Tuesday night; it may be said that they have not been answered; but even their warmest admirers will not venture to say that their speeches were unanswerable—on the contrary, although the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. B. Lyt- 757 ton) spoke with the advantage of great facility of composition and gracefulness of delivery, yet, in matters of fact, in constitutional principles, and in logical inference, he was conspicuously open to refutation, and in the excellent speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) there were obvious fallacies, I beg the excuse of my right hon. Friend for speaking of his speech as excellent—all his speeches are excellent—but to me his speech of Tuesday night was eminently so, because it was more condensed than his speeches usually are; but in that speech he relied much upon the fact, stated upon the authority of a foreign newspaper, that a foreigner had deserted from the allied army, and given information of the position of our force; and his inference was, that the enlistment of foreigners must therefore be unsafe, as it was proved that they could not be relied upon. I must own that I was surprised that a reasoner so acute could venture upon a proposition so unsafe as well as unsound; because my right hon. Friend could scarcely be uninformed of a fact established upon authority far less questionable, that three British soldiers had deserted from their respective regiments, and of course were able to convey important information to the enemy. But is my right hon. Friend prepared to conclude that every English soldier is a traitor, and ought not, therefore, to be trusted to fight the battles of his country? Sir, such speeches from those intrinsically of weight and influence have been answered, I may say, only departmentally or officially, with the disadvantage of judicious and necessary reserve, and not with the freedom of general debate; and even those Members who saw the insufficiency of the reasoning employed in opposing the Bill were nevertheless restrained by the understanding that it was for the convenience of the House that the division upon the question of the second reading should take place on Tuesday night. Well, Sir, we did divide, and the principle of the Bill was affirmed, and my right hon. Friend the leader of the Opposition in this House has declared that, technically, there is no objection to the Bill. If, therefore, the principle is adopted, and there is nothing technically wrong in it, what excuse have we for delaying to go into Committee? If there is anything wrong in language or the mode of carrying out the principle, that is the place in which to cure the de- 758 fects; but to delay going into Committee is unreasonable and very objectionable. During the whole of yesterday's sitting we heard only of the faults of Ministers, their unsatisfactory mode of carrying on the war, the omission to do what the infallible self-created warriors of the House of Commons would have done; but no one reason was assigned to warrant our not going into Committee, except those reasons which had been unsuccessful when urged to prevent the principle of the Bill from being adopted. And, so far as I can perceive, the inclination of many hon. Members to day is to repeat the inconvenient and useless course of yesterday. In some places this would be called talking against time. I am not inclined to impute this as a motive; but it is obvious that time is sacrificed, that it is opposed to the useful employment of time, and that consequences are likely to follow which hon. Members would regret. It is now Thursday evening; we had reason to expect that the adjournment of the House would take place to-morrow; but it is more than probable that, if no disposition is shown to make progress, we shall be obliged to sit on Saturday; and it is equally probable, that, instead of adjourning for the holidays, we shall have an adjournment only over Christmas day, and may have to meet on Tuesday. Whether this would be for the reasonable convenience of Members it is scarcely necessary to say, but I may say that the necessity so created will be as wanton as it will be void of utility.
Some hon. Members justify delay, upon the ground of giving time to the country to understand the subject—or, more truly it should be said, to adopt the prejudices which some speeches are calculated to engender; but if the success of the measure is to depend upon their opinion in dealing with the false alarms raised by their opponents, there would, upon that ground alone, be little to fear. No, Sir, the British people are too generous, too humane, to adopt the theory of ingenious men, rather than the just and patriotic duty of helping by all the means in their power those who have bravely encountered the horrors of the battle-field, and the no less destructive consequences of disease, and who now stand exposed to increased danger from the ravages made in their ranks by death; and on behalf of my just and humane countrymen and countrywomen, I confidently claim that ready assent, which I assert for myself, to afford the most 759 ready assistance to our suffering heroes in the Crimea, whether English or French—to afford comfort and consolation to anxious fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and other near relatives of those who have gone forth in the service of their country. It is said the additional force proposed is not necessary; but Ministers propose it upon the opposite ground. Who is prepared to solve the problem upon the mere assertion of the Opposition, who, at least, subject themselves to the unenviable charge of first endeavouring to deny to the Government the power of employing an additional force, and then, by loading that force with every form of opprobrium, to render them enemies rather than friends to those who profess to confide in their services? But Ministers seek the additional force upon their own responsibility; and, for one, I am not prepared to transfer the conduct of the war to other hands, notwithstanding the unexpected readiness shown in the course of this debate to criticise that conduct, and impliedly to offer superior management, and that even from quarters least likely to have studied the tactics of war. Sir, I am not insensible to the horrors of war. No one can feel more strongly the objection to any war not in itself just; but we are not now discussing the justice of the present war—even the party in opposition in this House is pledged to that justice—and it seems to me, as a national question, that it ought so to be carried on, and by such ample force, that, with the blessing of Providence upon our arms and the arms of our allies, we may be able to command an honourable, and a probably permanent peace—a peace which may not only establish the propriety of the war, but operate as a security against the recurrence of future wars.
With these considerations, and for the reasons I have adduced, I respectfully urge upon the House, that without further delay, we should adopt the Motion, that you, Sir, leave the Chair, and that the House proceed with the Bill in Committee.
§ MR. MURROUGH
Sir, I know not whether the hon. Gentleman the Member for Penrhyn considers that this subject has been exhausted in this House; but this I do know, that the people entertain grave doubts whether it has had sufficient consideration; and although it may not have sealed the fate of Her Majesty's Ministers within these wails, it has com- 760 pleted their condemnation by the country. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London has again attempted to overawe the House by a threat of resignation in case we reject this measure, but the House will bear in mind that during the last two Sessions of Parliament threats of this description have been of weekly occurrence; and although the Government have sustained defeats on questions of great national importance, their threats still remain unexecuted, and the noble Lord is far too discreet in his attachment to office to go to the country with the cry, "Vote for the Whigs and ten thousand Hessians." Sir, I feel a strong conviction that the Peace party would have numbered many more adherents in this House, could it have been anticipated that Her Majesty's Government would have taken so early an opportunity of proclaiming the moral and physical weakness of England by the advocacy of the mercenary system, which has long been condemned by the policy of every enlightened State in Europe; even Switzerland, long the great mart for mercenaries and free lances, has passed an edict against it, and proceeded to denationalise and expatriate the Swiss guard now in the service of the King of Naples. In our own country the law has denounced heavy penalties against enlistment for alien service, and it is now only a few years since an English Baronet stood in the dock to take his trial for levying troops for the purpose of an expedition to Ecuador. The noble Lord has, indeed, quoted as an authority, the fact that a great part of that victorious army which served under Marlborough against France was composed of foreigners, but the example is inapposite; for the noble Lord must remember that the army which Marlborough led at Ramifies was formed in the preceding reign, when the Crown of England was upon the head of the Stadtholder, and the Dutch troops were not only the allies, but the fellow-subjects of the British. In the Peninsula and at Waterloo, the foreign troops were not mercenaries, but allies and subjects of sovereigns engaged in the same struggle as ourselves. But the noble Lord has put this question as one of necessity, and the hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War exclaims, England furnishes nothing but lads of eighteen, who are unfit to endure the hardships of a campaign, and, immediately on their arrival at the seat of war, are compelled to become the inmates of a hospital. If this 761 be true, your remedy is plain; alter your military system, and assimilate it to that of France, and thousands of well-grown, well-conducted, well-educated young men will flock to your standard. In the French army the young peasant, from the moment of his conscription, feels the spirits of Ney, and Soult, and Bernadotte, hover around him, and proclaim in language deathless and unmistakable, that the space between the ranks, and batôns, and dukedoms, and thrones is not only traversable, but has been already traversed by men of antecedents as humble as his own; while your English soldier, from the time of his enlistment, feels his spirit shrouded beneath the shade of a upas-like aristocracy, and that though he way pour out his blood like water, and leave his widow desolate and his children in the destitution of orphanage, in the service of his country, it is but to swell the triumph of some Brudenell or Somerset, whilst his sole and only guerdon is au unknown grave and an unrecorded name. Amend then, I say, your military system, and there will be at once an end of your degrading dependence upon those fifth-rate German princes, whose ablest finance ministers are the croupiers of gaming tables, and whose military superiority is a fraud and an imposture.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I am not going to detain the House by offering any observations on the Bill, upon which I have already expressed my sentiments fully; but, with their permission, I will say a few words regarding the conduct of the debate, respecting which I do not wish any mistake to be prevalent. I believe the noble Lord the leader of the House, having already taken some part in the debate, has not the opportunity of expressing any wish on the pert of the Government that the House would proceed with the Committee; therefore, perhaps, he will excuse me if for a moment I should take his post out of his hands. I do not wish any hon. Gentleman for a moment to believe that there is any wish on this side of the House to throw any unfair obstacle in the way of the progress of public business, and if the noble Lord will reflect for a moment on the course of the discussion on this measure, he will see that there is not the slightest foundation for any such imputation in the present case. The Bill was read a first time on Monday, when the House remained sitting for a long time without business, 762 but no Gentleman on this side took any advantage from that circumstance to propose any amendment. In a private conversation with the noble Lord, I expressed my wish to do everything I could to facilitate its being read a second time next day, and to have the division taken at an early hour. Every person must feel that any imputation upon this side of the House, of having thrown an obstacle in the way of public business, is quite unfounded. Considering that we entirely disapproved of this measure, it was quite impossible that we could have taken any other course than that which we have taken. With regard to the debate yesterday, we must all recollect that the noble Lord, the leader of this House, never rose and deprecated that debate. No doubt he was influenced by the feeling that, considering the suddenness with which the whole subject had been brought before Parliament, and the evident wish which had been shown on this side of the House to facilitate the legitimate progress of business, it was but fair that any Gentleman who desired to address the House on Wednesday morning should have an opportunity of expressing his opinion upon this subject. I do not suppose, in these circumstances, that the noble Lord thought that the discussion which took place yesterday was an unauthorised discussion. Well, we virtually have had bye days' debate upon the second reading of this important measure, and I do not think that, in the circumstances under which the House met, that was at all an unreasonable arrangement. I think it would have been disrespectful to our constituents if the debate had been hurried. With regard to myself, I came down to the House this evening prepared to go into Committee, and to offer no opposition to the Motion for that purpose. I am perfectly ready to come to a fair understanding with regard to the progress of this measure. I think we might go into Committee upon it to-day, and agree to take the third reading to-morrow. I think that is a fair arrangement. There will be then a subsequent occasion, upon which any Gentleman who feels a strong conviction of duty that he ought to address the House on this important measure may express his opinion, and at the same time we shall have fulfilled the pledge which we gave that we would offer an uncompromising opposition to the Bill, doing so, however, in a legitimate manner, and 763 without, I conceive, laying ourselves open to the imputation of impeding public business.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I must say a few words after what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested to the House. It is quite true that I did not make any complaint yesterday of the debate being carried on during the whole of the sitting, because I thought that hon. Gentlemen who wished to take part in the debate—they not having proposed an adjournment on Tuesday night, nor interfered at all with the decision of the House upon the second reading of the Bill—were entitled to express their opinions upon the subject on the Motion for going into Committee. I entirely concur with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire that we, on the part of the Government, have no reason to complain of the course which has been taken by hon. Members on the other side. The matter has been fairly debated; but I think it would be for the convenience of all parties, and I am sure it would be for the public interest, if the House were to go into Committee to-night; and I should be glad if the hon. Member who has given notice of an Amendment on the first clause would not bring it under the notice of the House this evening, but would reserve it for the third reading of the Bill to-morrow.
said, before the House went into Committee, he was anxious to ask the Government whether they were disposed to give them more definite information as to the duration of the Bill than was provided by the last clause. It was true that uo human being could prophesy when the war would terminate. The only limitation for the services of those foreign troops, as indicated by the Bill, was the duration of the war. Now he would venture to say that there never was a measure before the House of greater importance than the present, nor one more calculated to excite jealous feelings in the country. As yet no public opinion upon it had been expressed in the country. The only way in which they could judge of the character of public opinion was by the speeches of the representatives of such large and important constituencies as those of Manchester, Birmingham, Westminster, the West Riding of Yorkshire, and other places. Now, the representatives of all those constituencies stated that the measure was most 764 unpopular throughout the country, and yet there had been no test of public opinion upon the subject as yet. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War stated yesterday that he was perfectly willing to test public opinion upon the Bill. The hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. H. Drummond) said, that meetings were now in progress throughout the country to discuss this matter. All, therefore, which he had to ask the Government was whether they were disposed to limit the duration of the Bill to some definite time, and not to leave it so vague as it was at present. The speeches made by the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Danby Seymour), and the hon. Member for Richmond (Mr. Rich), though in support of the Government, gave a very reluctant assent to the Bill. He therefore considered that it was most desirable that some definite time should be fixed for the duration of the Bill, in order that the country might have at some future time an opportunity of reviewing its merits. He did not wish unnecessarily to interfere with the measure of the Government, but he did ask them to make some limitation as to the duration of the measure, in order that the opinion of the country might be tested as to the policy of renewing it, after those foreigners had been quartered upon the people of this country. Unless the Government were prepared to give some more definite time than that mentioned in the last clause—namely, the duration of the war, he would certainly move an Amendment on the subject.
§ MR. BRIGHT
Sir, I have a question to put to the noble Lord the President of the Council before the House go into Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding has given notice that at a certain stage of this Bill—upon the bringing up of the Report—he would take an opportunity to go into the general question of the war, which could not well be done while adhering closely to the contents of this measure. But if no alteration be made in the Bill in Committee this evening, there will be no fixed time for the bringing up of the Report, and so the discussion which my hon. Friend is anxious to raise may be pushed off by the arrangement which has just been made. In these circumstances, perhaps, the noble Lord and the House will not consider out of order any hon. Gentleman who may not to-morrow keep so close to the clauses of 765 the Bill as hon. Members have done in the previous discussions. I merely state this in order that anybody who chooses to get up to-morrow night and say a few other things to the Government than what is contained in the clauses of this Bill may not be considered as out of order, or as talking wide of the subject before the House.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I will offer no objection to the course which he proposes to take to-morrow night.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ House in Committee; Mr. BOUVERIE in the Chair.
§ Clause 1,
MR. LOCKE KING
said, he would now beg to move the proviso of which he had given notice—That no contract with foreign soldiers shall be lawful, under the provisions of which this country shall be liable for any payments, except to officers disabled by wounds, to continue beyond the period of one year after the ratification of a definitive treaty of peace.Looking back to the years 1815 and 1816, he found the sums proposed in the Estimates to be paid on account of foreign charges amounted to about 300,000l.; six years afterwards the sum was 140,000l.; and at the present time we were paying some 36,000l. a year in respect of disbanded foreign troops. What he should therefore propose would be, that we should at once come to an understanding with these foreign officers to pay them well while they were engaged, but that they should have no claim on us for half-pay after the conclusion of the war. As he understood the Bill, every foreign officer who came over here and trained one or two companies would be entitled to half-pay as soon as ever peace was concluded. This was increasing the dead weight of the country, and was scarcely fair to our own officers, for what was a miserable pittance in this country was a small fortune for a Mall living in a petty German State. There was always great difficulty, he believed, in ascertaining when these officers died; indeed, some persons asserted that they never did die. If the noble Lord would say that he would agree to the proviso on the third reading he would not press it now, but he thought it was highly desirable that some provision of the sort should be introduced into the Bill. The pay of the English army, although small, 766 according to the scale of remuneration in this country, was yet considerable as compared With the pay of foreign armies; and it was desirable that foreigners entering our service should be considered to be remunerated by the current pay which they actually received while in our army, without reference to any advantages of a prospective nature.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, it was not the intention of the Government to give any pay to foreign officers after the termination of the war, nor did he think it would be desirable to do so. Of course he excepted pensions to officers disabled by wounds, and lie thought, also, that some pension should be given to the widows of those officers who might be killed in battle. He agreed with the hon. Member that any arrangement which might be made with foreign officers should be confined to the time they actually served, without any reference to prospective advantages. In the last war, when the German Legion was first raised, it was extremely unpopular in this country, and the consequence was that a clause was inserted in the Bill to the effect that no half-pay should be given; but when the Germans behaved with great gallantry, and became popular, not only with the army, but with the country at large, Parliament rescinded the prohibitory provision, and adopted a clause allowing half-pay. This only occurred, however, after a long period of service during which the legion had greatly distinguished itself. He agreed with his hon. Friend's observations as to the time during which the pay should be given. The officers of this corps would not be retained after the war was over, and, therefore, if they were to be put on half-pay, that would take place generally at an earlier period than could be the case with our own officers, who might still be wanted in the service in time of peace. He therefore concurred in his hon. Friend's principle, and his only question was whether it would be gracious to express that principle in words. however that might be, if the hon. Gentleman would not press his proposition that evening, so as to cause the Government to lose a stage, he (Mr. S. Herbert) would take an early opportunity of considering the point now raised, and then inform the House of his decision.
said, he wished to know whether these foreign troops were to be commanded by English or by foreign 767 officers, and whether the troops would be allowed to participate in the Patriotic Fund.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he did not know who the officers of this corps would be, but did not think there could be better officers than the English. As one of the Commissioners of the Patriotic Fund, he had not the slightest doubt that that fund would be distributed among the widows and orphans of British soldiers only, and he believed that to apply it to the relief of any other persons would be a breach of faith towards the subscribers.
said, the reason he had asked the question, where the officers were to come from, was because a noble Lord, a Member of the Cabinet, had facetiously said that they would be Irishmen, and, perhaps, that was the reason why so many Irish Members supported the Government the other night.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished the Government to direct its attention to the most efficient mode of arming our troops. New inventions were referred by them for examination to a committee of engineers, who were often backward in discovering their merits, when they were quickly discovered by other persons. New inventions in arms could be subjected to experiment at the cost of a few pounds, and they therefore ought to have a fair trial. He had heard of a gentleman who had an invention by which he undertook, in engagements like that at Inkerman, to do as much execution with one man as any eight men could do by means of existing appliances. Again, he had seen in the newspapers a letter, stating that when one of our posts was attacked our men were unable to maintain it because their percussion caps were wet and would not explode, and the position was only afterwards retaken with considerable loss. Now, a species of percussion cap had been invented which might be immersed in water for twenty-four hours, and yet when taken out would instantly explode. This and similar inventions ought to be put to the test by the committee of engineers to which he had referred, and he thought it would be better to appoint among the examiners some men who were free from the prejudices of old soldiers.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, he wished to know if under this Bill the officers would be entitled to half-pay, as some misapprehension prevailed on his side of the House on that point?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT ,
in reply, said, that they would certainly not. Half-pay could only be given under express Parliamentary sanction.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he wished to ask a question connected with this clause, in reference to a statement made by a Member of the Government the other night. If he understood the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War right, he said it was the custom in some of the German States to denaturalise their soldiers. He wished to ask what would be the condition of the wives and children of those men that would be enlisted by us, and what would be the position of the ratepayers in this country in respect to their maintenance? The emigrants from whom the right hon. Gentleman intimated that the Government might draw some, if not the whole, of the supply, were very often accompanied by their wives and children, who came over here, not as emigrants, but under letters of denaturalisation. It was not improbable that their wives and children would follow them here during the period of their training. As he (Mr. Henley) understood the law, if these men go abroad their families would be immediately chargeable on the parish of the port at which those soldiers had embarked. If those people be denaturalised, we could not send them back again to their own country. He consequently wished the right hon. Gentleman would give him an answer as to how they were to be maintained. Were they to be maintained out of the national fund, or as chance paupers at the places from which the regiment embarked? It would no doubt be a very heavy charge upon such parishes if they were to be maintained out of the parish funds.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he thought the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman a very important one. It should be understood that in any statement that he (Mr. S. Herbert) had made about the chances of obtaining these foreign soldiers, he necessarily spoke without book. Representations had been made to him that such and such a thing might be done, but whether it really could or not, remained of course to be proved. When the German corps was originally formed no inconvenience as regarded the wives and children of the men occurred, because they remained at their own homes. At present the stream of emigration which passed through England on its way to the Co- 769 lonies entailed no evil on this country, because the emigrants took their families away with them; but, if he were right in thinking that the numbers of these persons who would offer to enlist would be great, of course the Government would select the men who had no wives or children, so that no difficulty on that score could arise. In other cases, where it might be thought that individual married men were so eligible for enlistment that it would be desirable to secure their services, their families might precede them in going to the Colonies to which the men had originally intended to emigrate. As to that, however, he could not positively speak; but, at all events, of course the Government would prefer enlisting single men.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he considered that the right hon. Gentleman had only met a small part of his question. No inconvenience might have occurred at the last embodiment of these troops, but with the present facilities for communication with the Continent the case was very different: for what was to hinder the wives and families of Germans who did not tell that they were married when they enlisted, from coming over to this country?—and being the families of denaturalised subjects of a foreign State, serving under licence in our Army, when once they arrived in England they could not be sent back. The question could not be so narrowed as that they had only to intercept from the stream of emigrants passing through this country, such men as they wished to enlist, and then forwarding their wives and families on to their original transatlantic destination, leaving it to the Americans to take care of these incumbrances. Perhaps the Americans would not be so civil as to perform that obliging office for us. But the Government must grapple with this matter, and explain how they meant to deal with it before the third reading of this Bill. If they were to enlist as many as 30,000 German emigrants of mature age, or between twenty-five and thirty, and who had passed through military service in their native country, they could not suppose that such a number of persons of their time of life would not have among them a considerable proportion with wives and children, or families of some kind or other, belonging to them; and no doubt these dependents of theirs would speedily find their way to this country, where they knew there was a maintenance for them, while they could have none at home. In 770 that case, these families must be taken care of, and could not be allowed to starve or beg; the law of this country said, that no person should be left destitute; they must, therefore, go to the workhouse, and be supported by the ratepayers of England. About this there could be no manner of doubt, because, having letters of alienation, or denaturalisation, or whatever we pleased to call them, by which they ceased to be German subjects, we could not pass them over to the Consul of their own nation, and so shift the burden. It would, perhaps, be inconvenient for him to move an Amendment at the present stage of the measure, for possibly the matter could be better dealt with by the Government, who, he hoped, would take it into their consideration before the third reading to-morrow, and tell the House how they meant to provide for these people; because, if only 15,000 out of the 30,000 men proposed to be raised were married, the question what was to be clone with their wives and families was an important element in the discussion of this measure.
§ MR. R. PHILLIMORE
said, he thought the principle of municipal law in this matter had been correctly stated by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). When the right hon. Secretary at War stated that these troops were to be foreigners with letters of denaturalisation, he (Mr. Phillimore) regarded that assertion as a satisfactory answer to the powerful argument the other evening of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. T. M. Gibson). But then arose one or two questions of international law worthy of attention. A State, by granting its subject a letter of denaturalisation, no doubt parted with his allegiance; but if that subject entered into the military service of another country he was certainly bound by a temporary allegiance to such country, and he thought the obligation remained upon that foreign country to defend him in all his subsequent relations. If that were sound international law, the Government ought well to consider its bearing on this question. He believed his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War was right in stating that German States granted licences by which their own subjects became divested of their allegiance, and, therefore, there could be no subsequent collision of allegiance with regard to them. Our own laws enabled foreign sailors to become naturalised by serving in our Navy; and, speaking in the presence of the right hon. and learned 771 Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier)—an eminent lawyer—who he thought would bear him out, he believed that a foreign soldier by enlisting and serving in the Army of this country had a clear right to the protection of this country so long as he remained in civil or military relations to it.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he wished for some explanations on an important point after what had fallen from the Secretary at War. He understood that right hon. Gentleman to have just stated that it was intended by the Government that the families of these foreign soldiers should in some instances precede their natural protectors by being sent to the colonies to which the latter also were ultimately to go. He did not understand the right hon. Gentleman on any former occasion to have said that it was designed to send these German soldiers to the colonies after the termination of their service, although he had certainly heard rumours out of doors to that effect. But if he (Sir J. Pakington) were correct in saying that this was the first reference that had been made to such a project, he thought he was certainly justified in asking the Government to explain what their intentions really were. He was the more entitled to make this inquiry, seeing that the Government contemplated raising from 30,000 to 40,000 of these men, and employing them in our service abroad at one time, and also recruiting to maintain that amount of force, and make up for the casualties occurring to them in the field, and were, therefore, likely to have a large number of them thrown upon their hands. There was reason to believe, from all that had passed during the discussions on this measure, that this species of force would not prove very popular to the people of this country, and it was a serious question whether our colonists would be willing, without their consent being asked, to permit so doubtful a class as these men would consist of to be discharged upon their shores. If such were the intentions of the Government, it was questionable whether they were at liberty to adopt any such plan without holding previous communication with the colonies to which it was proposed to send out these men. He wished, therefore, to ask whether the Government had any knowledge that the introduction of such a body of men would be acceptable to the people of our colonies?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he 772 thought the right hon. Baronet had slightly misunderstood what he had stated when he said that it was the intention of the Government to send any large number of these persons to the colonies. He was informed that out of the whole number that we might be able to obtain, it would be possible to engage the services of a certain proportion of Germans who were in the habit of emigrating, some to the United States, some to Canada, and some to the Australian colonies. But he was not speaking of a gross number who are to be raised exclusively from this or from any other denomination of persons. It was true it might be possible for the Government to obtain the services of persons who came to England to go from thence to the British colonies, and in those cases, after their term of service had been completed, there of course could be no greater reason against their going to Australia, than if their services had never been asked for by the Government. So far, however, as concerned the colonies, he need not say that no Government would think of sending large bodies of men there against the will of the colonists. But the right hon. Baronet, from his acquaintance with colonial affairs, might know that there was a great anxiety felt in Australia to obtain German settlers, and that that Colony had even devoted a portion of its funds to procure their introduction, and especially the introduction of those who came from the banks of the Rhine, and were conversant with vine-dressing and wine-making. It was to this that he had alluded, but he did not venture to offer any exact information as to the probable number of persons whom they were likely to procure from among those who were proceeding to the colonies. He had merely wished to say that he thought we were likely to obtain a certain number of persons who, looking at the disposition they had evinced, and the destination they had shown their desire to reach, were likely to become British subjects by colonising portions of our empire, and that such persons it was desirable to secure.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
If there were one thing that was definite in the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman, it seemed to be this—that he was going to set "gins" in the "runs;" or, to use a somewhat more elegant phrase, in transitu, just exactly as they caught rabbits. Now, according as they set the gin, sometimes they got a pheasant, and sometimes a polecat; and so it might 773 turn out in this instance that the right hon. Gentleman's trap might catch Germans or anything else. But the question mooted by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) was much more serious than this. In Bavaria there existed a most cruel and wicked law, which was adopted by all the petty States, and which prohibited marriage between any persons unless they could give the Government a security that they were able to support the children of the marriage. The consequence was, that, throughout the labouring population of those States, not one couple in eight were legitimately married. And to such an extent of severity did they carry this law, that parties were prohibited from going into a neighbouring State or into a canton of Switzerland to be married; and if they violated this prohibition they were punished on their return. What, then, would be the result on these persons reaching England? Why, that a great portion of them would not have been married at all when they left their own country, and if they had been we could not have proof of the fact. Not to allow these men to receive half-pay would, he thought, be exceedingly objectionable. They were a class of persons who had been truly described as a sort of national assassins. ["Oh!"] Yes they were. What was an assassin? You have a quarrel with a man for a good or a bad cause—no matter which. You will not wreak vengeance upon him yourself; but you go and hire another man to do it for you. You quarrel with a man; you hire another to go and shoot him and stab him. The man you hire is an assassin. Well, but it appeared these persons were not to have any retiring allowance. Was not that neither more nor less than an enormous premium for plunder? How were the men to provide the means of subsistence for themselves when peace should be restored? They must obtain it in some way or other. Did the Government contemplate giving them so much pay as that they should be able to save money, or insure their lives for the advantage of their families and friends? Clearly not. It was, therefore, absolutely necessary that some provision should be made for them, and it was not just to place men in positions in which they could only by plunder obtain means for their future support. They ought to be treated like our own soldiers, and to receive half-pay.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, that 774 our own soldiers did not receive half-pay until they had served a certain number of years.
§ MR. BANKES
said, he thought the question now raised by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley) an entirely new one, and one of great interest to the ratepayers of the country, yet he observed neither of the law-officers of the Crown present to whom they could apply for its solution. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War could not be expected to solve it, and must have perceived its importance, and also that the answer he had given was unsatisfactory and beside the question. They might endeavour to secure the services of unmarried men, but still, after what the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) had stated, the Committee must be aware that there would be women and families attached to these men claiming to be married, and how could this be settled? In the case of the war being a short one, it had been said that these men would be transferred to the colonies, but at whose expense the Committee had not been informed. But in the case of the war not proving so short as they desired, then these women and children would remain in this country, unless the Government transferred them to the colonies at the public expense. And how were these women and children to live there, whose only means were the male emigrants, who were to be stopped in transitu? If transferred to the colonies, they would be transferred as paupers; and if they remained in this country, they would still be paupers, unless some mode were adopted by which a portion of the pay could be applied to their support. This question was an important one, and one which would not tend to increase the popularity of the measure. He regretted to be obliged to oppose the progress of the Bill through Committee, as he desired as much as possible to facilitate the business of the House, and to consult, as far as he fairly could, the convenience of the Government; but, as they had felt it their duty to summon Parliament before the Christmas recess, they should have done so earlier, and allowed time for discussion of a measure of which so little notice had been given, and which hail been introduced with so little preparation on the part of the Government.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, he also desired to caution the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War before he embarked on this question of emigration. It 775 might be true that there was a desire on the part of the colonies for German emigrants; but this desire was for men with families, who would prove useful and profitable. He wished to say nothing against the class of persons who might enlist, but still, if their wives and children were transferred to the colonies without the heads of those families, they would be totally different from the class of emigrants the colonists had expressed a desire to receive. The question of expense was perhaps the least in connection with this matter, but still the expense would be enormous; and he considered, also, that before this course was decided on the colonists themselves ought to be consulted.
§ MR. BOOKER
said, he wished to ask whether these men would be located in the manufacturing or rural districts? So jealous were our forefathers of the presence of foreigners in this country, that there was a provision that foreign troops in our service should not be allowed to go more than five miles from the coast. The German Legion was quartered at Eastbourne, Hastings, and St. Leonards, and there were in those places still visible traces of the visits of those men. He hoped that these troops would be kept together in masses, and he should like to know in what districts they would be quartered?
said, he had heard it stated that these troops were to be sent out to the colonies, to serve in lieu of the regular British forces there, and he should be glad to know if that were so? He wished to know also, whether it was necessary that these troops should be commanded by foreigners?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he did not think any statement of that kind had been made from the Treasury bench; but certainly there was no such intention on the part of the Government. With respect to the second question, he found, upon inquiry, that the troops comprising the German Legion were commanded by Germans.
§ MR. OTWAY
said, he would remind the Government that at this moment there was a large body of English officers living upon half-pay, many of whom were perfectly capable and willing again to accept active service. Now, could not these gentlemen be made available for the purpose of officering these foreign troops.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he felt bound to demand an explicit answer to the ques- 776 tion of the hon. Member for Herefordshire (Mr. Booker). Were these troops to be stationed at Chatham, Portsmouth, London, or sent to Manchester, or quartered at Windsor? There was a strong wish in the country to know where this army was to be placed.
§ MR. GROGAN
said, that by some remarks made by the right hon. Secretary at War, the veil had been partly raised from the Government intentions, and it was evident that this German Legion was to be dealt liberally with at the Government expense. The great object of the Government was to get men of a mature age and constitution, capable of undergoing the fatigues of service in the Army; but had it ever occurred to them that if they held out the same inducements to their own subjects that they offered to these Germans they would then be enabled to obtain as many of their own countrymen as they liked of mature age and constitution, and men who would, in addition to this, be animated by the motive of fighting for their native land?
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, he had, during the last quarter of an hour, heard a number of questions asked, none of which had been answered. This might be a very simple mode of conducting a Bill through the House before the Christmas recess, and no doubt, by a compromise, it might be so passed if the Government would give no explanations. During the last ten minutes as many questions had been asked. Firstly, where were these troops to be located? Secondly, how were they to be officered? Thirdly, were they to be employed as a military force in the colonies? Fourthly, how did they propose to deal with the families of those persons who might be left in England? Fifthly, were the families of these mercenaries to be sent to the colonies? Sixthly, had any information been received from the colonies as to whether they would be acceptable? Seventhly, whether the men would be sent to the colonies; and eighthly, would the men so sent be sent at the expense of the colonies, or of the public of this country? He had arranged these questions categorically, in order that there might be no misunderstanding, and, although they had as yet listened patiently, their might not continue to do so unless these questions were answered.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, the questions came so quickly that he could not answer them at once. He was asked 777 whether these troops were to be officered exclusively by Germans; there was no provision for that in the Bill, but he had already stated, as a precedent, that the German Legion was so officered, and he had no wish to put a restriction upon the military authorities now in that respect any more than prevailed formerly. With respect to the half-pay officers, it was true there was a great number of them, but from the augmentation of the regular army which had recently taken place it had been thought advisable to make inquiry into the condition of these, and now almost every man who was capable was in active service. Next, he was asked, where were these troops to be located? But that was a point which must be left entirely to the Executive, though he did not anticipate that any serious difficulty would arise out of it, because there were places in England where the troops could be located without injury or offence to anybody during the short time they would have to be here on the way to their ultimate destination. With regard to the question of emigration, the House has got into some confusion upon that point. No doubt it was one of considerable difficulty; perhaps the colonies might object to it if the means of transit were not found; while, on the other hand, there was the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire if the families were kept at home. All these questions were of great difficulty and importance; but there seemed to be an impression in the minds of the Committee that the Government had got some distinct plan of emigration in view which they were going to apply to these foreign troops. Now, all he had stated was simply that it had been suggested by competent persons that there was a good deal of German emigration going on which might be made available for the purposes of this Bill. He did not conceal from himself the difficulties which surrounded the question; but he had thought it right to mention the suggestion to the Committee as one well worthy of consideration.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would, between that time and to-morrow, take it into his consideration, and state distinctly to the House how they intended to provide for the wives and families of those whom they might enlist.
said, that if the families of these men came here, they must be supported. If the Government 778 did that, they would be doing more for foreigners than for their own soldiers. When subscriptions were made for the Patriotic Fund, he always thought that our soldiers and their families ought to be provided for by their country. If the Government intended to support the wives and families of these mercenary foreigners, our own soldiers must consider themselves to be treated with great unfairness. Of course he took it for granted that the widows and children of those Germans who might fall in the war with Russia would not be left by the Government to starve. He wished to know what rank, whether of colonel or lieutenant-colonel, would be assigned to those who might have command of these foreigners? It would be most unjust to our own countrymen on half-pay, who would not be allowed to hold a higher post than that of lieutenant-colonel, if foreigners were to be appointed colonels of those regiments. He knew a great many of our own half-pay officers who had sought employment from the Government, but it was denied to them, and yet the Government now wished the House of Commons to consent to their going on a search for foreign officers.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, it was his intention to reserve for the third reading his Amendment, to the effect that a third of these troops should be commanded by English officers, and that the troops themselves should not be allowed to remain in this country for more than a year after the period of enlistment.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he understood one of the objections made to the Bill to be, that the Government had not proceeded with their plan before asking the assent of Parliament to it. After the Bill had passed they would endeavour to settle the details in the manner which they considered best calculated to obtain the service of these foreigners. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had asked a very pertinent question with regard to the families of the soldiers who might enlist, and he believed the right hon. Gentleman had correctly stated the law, that they would be like poor without a settlement, and would, no doubt, have a claim upon the poor-rates. Whether any special provision should be made for those cases was a very fair question, and one which the Government would consider, but it was impossible to say exactly where these persons would be stationed, and to explain all the details of the measure. With reference to the Colonies and the 779 question of emigration, give him leave to ask this question—suppose there should be a large German family come over here for the purpose of emigrating; suppose a father and family came with a married son, and the married son should enlist while here, and the father of the family should have sufficent funds to transport him and the rest of his family to Australia, surely there would be no objection to his spending his money in that way? No public money, however, would be applied to that purpose without the consent of Parliament having been obtained.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, the imaginary case put by the noble Lord was very different from the answer given by the Secretary at War. The noble Lord had said that several hon. Gentlemen complained that the Government had brought Parliament together without being able to answer questions of detail relating to the measures which were proposed. But that was not the ground of complaint against the Government. What was complained of was this—that the Government had summoned Parliament for the purpose of asking its assent to this extraordinary Bill; and that, when asked about nine questions of the greatest importance with respect to results that might flow from it when passed, the only answer which the Government made was, "We do not know." When his right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley) asked what was to be done with the wives and children of the foreigners whom it was intended to enlist, the Secretary at War said that their wives and children might precede them.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
I said it had been suggested that their wives and children might precede them, but I said, at the same time, that it would be prudent for the Government to enlist unmarried in preference to married men.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Just so; but it seemed that there was an intention to send the wives and children of the married foreigners to those colonies to which the latter might be sent on the termination of the war. When it was said by way of objection to that, that our colonies might not like emigrants of that kind, the Government said, "German emigrants are very acceptable in Australia." No doubt; but it did not follow that German mercenaries, with their wives and families, "who might precede them," would be equally acceptable with such a class of German emigrants as left this country for our colo- 780 nies. Before such men, or their wives and families, were sent to our colonies, a communication should be made with the colonies on the subject. He was afraid that our own soldiers, whose wives and families had only the Patriotic Fund to look to, would feel very unfairly treated with reference to the apprehended proposition to send these foreigners, with their wives and families, to the colonies. Either the Government had not fully considered all the details of this measure, or they were afraid to speak candidly to Parliament upon the subject.
said, that the German Legion raised during the last war were not only our allies, but our fellow-subjects. The King of England was King of Hanover. And he (Colonel North), having been a great deal in former years with those distinguished men, could take upon himself to say that the officers were composed of men who were connected with the first families in Hanover and Brunswick. If the Government would only state that we were to have a body of men like the old German Legion, commanded by officers like the officers of that legion, he was sure there would not be the slightest hesitation on that (the Opposition) side of the House in giving them its support. Those gallant men left a character in this country, not only for bravery, but for good conduct—the officers for gentlemanly conduct—and he was confident they would be received on this side of the water, not as mercenaries, but as friends and former fellow-subjects. Whom they were to have now, God only knew. But he should think that officers who were ready to take 5s. 6d. a day to cut Russian throats, if they could, and with the certainty of having their own throats cut should they once fall into the hands of the Czar, would not be the sort of men that English officers would be most proud to associate with. He hoped that, whatever took place, no English barracks would be given to these foreigners so long as there was an English regiment, militia or regular, to occupy it. He hoped more particularly that no barracks in the manufacturing districts would be allotted to them, as on the occasion of rows, which occasionally occur from want of employment, they would be brought into hostile collision with the working classes. Contitinental soldiers were never called out against the people except for immediate action; whereas he could speak from his own experience, the English soldiers have 781 endured the pelting of their own fellow-countrymen for several hours without firing on them in return—a thing which foreign soldiers would never do.
said, he wished, then, to know who would preserve the peace in the manufacturing districts in case of riots after our regular troops and the militia had been sent abroad?
§ LORD NAAS
said, he hoped that before the Bill passed through Committee some assurance might be given that the apparently ill-considered scheme of emigration connected with the measure would be given up, for nothing, he believed, was more calculated to create discontent, not only in this country but in our army abroad. The noble Lord seemed to throw out that those German emigrants' families might be allowed to proceed to the colonies at their own expense; but should we not be obliged at the end of the war to send out, at our expense, those members of their families who had been left behind? No boon could be more agreeable than that of giving at the close of the war a free passage to the colonies to those men who had not attained too great an age; but nothing would create more ill-feeling than the fact of the foreign troops obtaining at the end of the war a boon which was denied to our own troops, and of which many of our own men would be most glad to avail themselves, if it were offered them. He knew that of his countrymen in the Crimea almost all had relatives and friends in the colonies; and if any intimation were made that at the end of the war the German troops were to have free passages out, he hoped that a similar notice would be given to the British troops.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that the noble Lord might rest satisfied that no advantage would be offered to foreign troops that would not also be offered to British. The noble Lord probably knew that great pains had already been taken to facilitate the settlement of soldiers in the colonies.
§ MR. HILDYARD
said, he wished it to be distinctly understood that this House was not, on the part of the nation, undertaking any liability which was not borne upon the face of the Bill. If they did not choose to place upon the Bill the indul- 782 gences, other than pay, that were to be accorded to the troops, he could only say that hereafter he should not feel himself restrained from refusing to saddle the country with any expense asked upon the plea that when we called these men into our service we virtually bound the nation to deal with them in the way that might then be proposed.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, he could not consent to saddle any parish in England or Scotland with which he was connected with additional burdens, the extent of which was unknown. If the noble Lord would not give an assurance as to how the burdens were to be disposed of, he should be forced to divide the Committee, in order to record his protest against this blind bargain being carried out.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he was not prepared to see the arsenals of the country committed to men of whose character they knew nothing. London was not prepared, and it would be a degradation to see the care of the Queen and the Royal Palaces committed to troops of whom the description was not calculated to inspire confidence. Now that the Government had confessed their inability to give any information about those foreign troops, or as to what their character and conduct were likely to be, they could not expect that House to view their silence on this subject, as other than a grave addition to their already serious objections to the Bill. He was firmly persuaded there would be throughout the country a most justifiable jealousy, unless the House of Commons were informed where those troops were to be located, or whether they were to be kept in camps. Then there was the great question of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) as to whether in-cumbrances in the shape of families following those troops were to be saddled upon those localities in which it might be decided to station them.
§ MR. WARNER
said, he hoped that no barracks in this country would be given up to foreigners to the prejudice of the militia. There was throughout the country a great prejudice against the Bill, and nothing but the extreme urgency of the case would induce the Government to pass it; nor would anything increase that prejudice, and prevent the people's getting over it, so much as the giving up the barracks of manufacturing towns to foreigners. This was a question in which his constituents took a great interest.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that the Committee had now heard one hon. Gentleman say, "Let foreigners by no means be placed in any of the arsenals of the country;" another exclaiming, "Let them not be placed in any barracks in the manufacturing districts!" and another, "For God's sake, don't let them come into the rural districts!" Now, it would be very difficult to say in what manner they were to be placed. His belief was that, although a prejudice had been raised, that prejudice would prove to be of a very temporary character. At first there existed a similar prejudice in 1804; but when it was seen, as it would be, that these troops were fighting bravely for us, a respect would be excited for them, and the people of England would be sorry to have entertained those prejudices.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he hoped that a provision would be introduced into the Bill to the effect that these foreign troops should not be allowed to advance into the country more than five miles from the coast. A similar limitation had existed in 1804, such was the constitutional jealousy of the period; but, as the noble Lord had said, the progress of enlightenment and the increase of education ought to dispose the people of England to dispense with such a provision. If the noble Lord could have given any information at all about the character of the people he proposed to employ, he might with fairness have expected such a result. If those troops were to go to Ireland, he (Mr. Whiteside) would propose that they should be located in the poor houses nearest the coast, for, happily, those establishments were destitute of other tenants.
§ MR. WILKINSON
said, it was assumed that these recruits were to be the scum of the earth, and they were called cutthroats and assassins; but it seemed also to be admitted that, if they behaved as well as the German troops in our pay in the last war, then they were to be considered as respectable men.
§ MR. BANKES
said, he wished to know if the Secretary at War meant to ask for power to billet these foreigners on the public?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he really must ask the Committee to be reasonable. There were in all Bills certain details which only an executive could decide upon. Most of the questions that had been asked were questions that the military authorities could decide much better than 784 anybody else; and it was to the Executive that must be left all those questions as to barracks, rank of officers, &c. As to that constitutional jealousy of which the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) spoke, which ordered in 1804 that foreigners should be quartered not more than five miles from the coast, that order was entirely disregarded, and such a provision at the present day might force the Executive to station troops in places where it would be most imprudent to have them. It would be the interest of whatever Government had the Bill to work to place the troops where the least prejudice would be excited by their presence, and he hoped the Committee would not persist in confining the Government to expressions of opinion upon all those minute details. It was quite true that the Government did not pretend to give any accurate and definite description, or any minute detail, as to the forces for which they had only now obtained the consent of Parliament. There must be a preliminary to every step that was taken. Having got that preliminary, they would take their steps in accordance with the will of Parliament. When the Estimates came before the House, an account would have to be given of every step that had been taken, and the House would then have a full opportunity of criticising their conduct.
said, he thought that the whole details of the Bill should have been matured before it was brought into Parliament. Of all classes in the country, the military class was the most opposed to the Bill. He wanted to know how they were to be placed relatively to those foreign soldiers—whether they were to have equal rank, or if they were to be commanded by them?
said, he should have been entirely of the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War, that details should be let alone for the present, if they had received any information as to what the men were to be, or as to their character or conduct, and where they were to be brought from; but when they were refused all information, when they did not know whether these men were to be the most respectable people in Europe or the scum of the earth as some hon. Gentleman had termed them, he thought they should be wanting in duty to the country if they did not insist upon some clear statement, or if they did not resist the quartering of the men in places where 785 their presence might be extremely objectionable, he was therefore quite disposed to divide the Committee on the question.
§ MR. BANKES
said, he thought that that question was not a trivial one which related to whether his fellow-subjects were to have foreigners billeted upon them against their will. With regard to our own army, those matters of detail were left to the Executive, but were annually brought before the House when the Mutiny Bill was considered. He could hardly think the Government were perfectly sincere in thinking they should carry the measure when he saw the manner in which it was drawn.
§ MR. GROGAN
said, he would suggest that the precedent of the former Act should be adopted, and that then it should be repealed, as formerly, when these troops had shown, by their good conduct, that they deserved the favourable consideration of the House.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, that no restriction of the kind spoken of had been inserted in the Act of 1804. It was very well for hon. Gentlemen to speak of the German legion as not a foreign legion. At the time that legion was instituted it was looked upon quite in the same way as the foreign legion now proposed, and the terms scum of the earth, mercenaries, hired assassins, &c., were applied to them then as they now were. The measure was then a very unpopular measure; and yet there was no restriction imposed of the nature stated.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, the right hon. Gentleman had not answered the question as to the billeting of foreigners in this country.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he could only state the feelings of the Government; and what earthly use could there be in billeting upon the country troops that were to be here only for a few weeks for the purpose of being drilled?
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, that on a former occasion the foreign troops remained under canvass, and suffered there from hunger and exposure till the transports were ready to take them back to Hanover. In the following year Lord Chatham was prevailed upon by the German influence, which was paramount at the Court of George III. to pass a Bill enabling and enforcing the billeting of foreign troops on English families. In the year 1804 the legion was composed, not of foreigners brought here for the purpose, but, as stated in the preamble 786 of the Bill, of foreigners actually in the country at the time.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he must complain of this attempt to delay the passage of the Bill. He had understood the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire to admit that it was desirable for the public convenience that the Bill should go through Committee that night, and that the discussion on the third reading should be taken to-morrow. If the Bill were to be rejected, it ought to be immediately rejected; but, if on the contrary, it were to become law, it was of the highest importance in the estimation of the Government that it should become so at once. What the object of this delay, therefore, could be he was at a loss to imagine. It bad been asked whether these foreign troops were to consist of respectable persons, or of the scum of the earth, but to that he could only reply that it would, of course, be the object of the Government to secure as far as possible the services of respectable persons; but it could scarcely be expected that they could bring men before that House with certificates of character in their hands. It was, in fact, a question which the House of Commons could not regulate, but which must be left to the discretion of the Executive. He hoped that the Committee would not sanction this measure of delay, or decide in favour of a postponement.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he did not think the noble Lord had drawn a correct inference from what he said. He had never consented that a Bill should go through Committee without discussion, or use his influence towards such a result. And in agreeing that the Bill should go into Committee, he never had any intention at all of controlling the debate, or preventing hon. Gentlemen taking, upon subjects of great importance, such views as they might think it their duty to do. In the present case a very important question had been mooted; and he should be sorry if Her Majesty's Ministers were not able to give a satisfactory answer to the Committee; but he could not attempt to control the conduct of Gentlemen sitting on that side of the House, or prevent them expressing and acting upon their opinions. He had done what he could in order that the House might go into Committee, trusting that, in Committee, the Government would be able to support their Bill.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he thought the noble Lord should not have said that hon. 787 Gentlemen were bringing on this subject merely to create delay. The question was should these foreigners be billeted in the houses of our countrymen? A right to billet would exist unless it were restricted, for that right was in the Mutiny Act, under the clauses of which those persons would be brought. He could not give his consent to any measure which did not restrict that right in the case of these foreigners.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, it had been already stated more than once that there was not the slightest occasion for asking such a question. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bankes) would give notice of an Amendment containing his views for the third reading.
§ Clause agreed to; as were the remaining Clauses, House resumed, Bill reported without Amendment.