§ MR. HUMBERSTON
begged to call the attention of the Secretary of State for War to the Petition of John Bishop, presented to the House on the 3rd inst., praying for Inquiry into the Enlistment of his son, John Bishop, into the 7th Dragoon Guards, on the 27th day of June, 1859, his son being at the time of Enlistment a lawfully bound Apprentice, and asked Whether he would consent to such Inquiry being made?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT,
in reply to the Question of his noble Friend (Lord Hotham), said the subject was one which had, with some others, been for some days under investigation by a Committee upstairs. His noble Friend was mistaken as to the rule with regard to the augmentation of the Reserve Fund. His noble Friend had stated—not quite accurately—that this fund was augmented by the sale of the first commissions, excepting those which were adjudged as prizes at Sandhurst. He had never laid down any such general rule on the subject. The Report of the Committee would, however, 1529 shortly be laid on the table of the House, showing the state of this fund, and in all probability the Committee would make some recommendations as to the disposal of it.
With regard to the case of John Bishop, referred to by the hon. Member for Chester, it had been very fully investigated, and the circumstances were these. By the 61st clause of the Mutiny Act of last year, any apprentice who enlisted could be claimed by his master, and, after the expiration of his apprenticeship, the enlistment would hold good. But the Act said distinctly that no master should be entitled to claim an apprentice who hail not been bound for the full term of seven years, and he must not have been above fourteen years of age when he was bound. Now, in this case it was found upon inquiry that the boy was not bound for seven years, but four years; he did not therefore come within that clause of the Act, and his enlistment was perfectly valid. If the Mutiny Act had been transgressed, and the boy had been illegally taken, it would have been his (Mr. S. Herbert's) duty to protect this civilian against such a misapplication of military enlistment, and he should have directed the boy's discharge. But the facts of the case were not disputed. It was admitted that the boy was not bound for seven years. It was stated by two witnesses that the boy was asked, upon his enlistment, whether he was an apprentice or not, and that he said no. The boy, to justify himself, now stated that he said yes; but so far as the law was concerned it did not matter whether the boy now spoke truth or not. The boy's father had made an application to be permitted to purchase his son's discharge, and the usual payment having been made he had been discharged accordingly. The father had since said that he paid the money in the full conviction that, having great Parliamentary interest, the money would be paid back to him. That, however, was a miscalculation on his part; for the Government could only deal with such cases according to a uniform rule. This was clearly a legal enlistment, and the boy had been discharged on payment of the money to procure his discharge.
asked, whether the Government had therefore power to enlist any Apprentices who were bound for five years, or less than five years?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
Yes, certainly; by the law as it stood, under the 1530 Mutiny Act of last Session, there is a power of enlisting those who are apprenticed for less than seven years in England, five years in Ireland, four in Scotland.