§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Sir John Pakington.)
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he wished, before the Speaker left the Chair, to make a few remarks generally on the way in which this Bill had always been treated by successive Governments. He was far from imputing blame to the present Administration, who had merely followed the example of their predecessors; but he must blame on public grounds the habit that had grown up and been followed for a long series of years of treating with neglect one of the most important Bills that could be passed by Parliament. It was regarded at the Revolution as the very foundation of the liberties of Englishmen, and was estimated as the great bulwark of the Constitution; but in modern times it was treated as a mere matter of form, with no greater respect than an old almanack. Upon the principle that they should not look a gift horse in the mouth it was put before them on official authority, as if they were to swallow everything wholesale that might be tendered them at the hands of the officials. So much was this the case, that it was considered as a great favour when consent was given by the late Administration to place a few copies is the Vote Office to make this Bill accessible to Members. Last year his attention had been roused by a particular clause in the Bill, and he thought it his duty to look through it, and it was only by making a vigorous complaint that the Bill, which was not then printed, was made available to Members. Why should such a measure be treated in this cursory manner, when even a turnpike Bill was printed and circulated before the second reading? On many occasions the Bill had not been in print when the House was called upon to pass its early 765 stages, and such conduct be considered was derogatory to the House. The officials had treated the Bill as a mere form. They produced it as they liked, and the question arose, were the officials superior to that House? The great office which had been established in Pall Mall, at a cost to the country of £200,000 a year, appeared to be under no control, and transacted its business in a manner no one could understand. The War Office was originally intended to act as a check upon the Horse Guards; but it appeared that the Secretary at War was nothing else but the humble servant of the Horse Guards. They could not tell at that moment with whom the chief command of the army rested, and all that they knew was that the authority of that House was almost set aside. A Motion was carried in that House the other day for the abolition of military flogging, and with what degree of respect was it treated? The Secretary for War (Sir John Pakington) announced that no manner of notice would be taken of it, and that everything would go on in the usual way. Since that he had heard that the right hon. Gentleman had not even the authority of the Horse Guards to make that announcement to the House. The right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell them how that was; but, if so, it was a very grave affair, and showed that the co-ordinate authorities were not in harmony with each other. The Mutiny Bill was generally passed at a late hour of the night and went through its succeeding stage next day. He contended that it should be circulated amongst Members in the usual way, and that proper intervals should take place between its different stages.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he quite concurred in the complaint made by the hon. Gentleman as to the non-distribution of the Bill. He believed the reason given was that it was to save the expense of a few additional copies, and the Yearly Indemnity Bill was treated in the same way. At present the arrangement was that the Bill was printed and deposited in the office, where a copy might be had by any Member who applied for it; but they were not distributed like other Bills, though in his opinion none that carne before the House deserved more serious consideration than the Mutiny Bill. The passing it was a mere farce, He was glad that the flogging clause was to be modified.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he en- 766 tirely concurred with the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, and with his hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Darby Griffith), with regard to the great Constitutional importance of the Mutiny Bill; and he could assure his hon. Friend that he had not the slightest wish to treat the House with anything like disrespect, or to undervalue the importance of the question. He would remind his hon. Friend that the Mutiny Bill was introduced, if he was not mistaken, before he had entered upon his present office, and his experience was so short that it could hardly be expected that he should make any change in the usual practice. He believed his hon. Friend would find that the mode in which this Bill had been introduced in the present year was exactly in accordance with the practice of former years. The noble Lord opposite, who held the same position in the late Government, would confirm him when he said that the Mutiny Bill was not treated like other Bills, only because, year after year, it was, with some slight alterations, essentially the same Bill. [The MARQUESS of HARTINGTON: Hear, hear!] His hon. Friend had expressed some strong opinions as to the present relations between the War Office and the Horse Guards, having gone so far as to say that the Secretary of State for War was subordinate to the Horse Guards. Speaking from a very brief experience, he would say that his hon. Friend had taken a very erroneous view of the actual powers of the two Departments.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee).
§ On Question that the Preamble be postponed,
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, that what he meant when he spoke of the relations between the War Office and the Horse Guards was that it was difficult for the House and the country to understand which was responsible. He had spoken of the two Departments as co-ordinate, not of the the War Office being subordinate.
§ Preamble postponed.
§ Clauses 1 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 6 (Power to constitute Courts Martial).
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he wished to take that opportunity of noticing a fallacy which prevailed very much in military minds—namely, that it was by reason of the prerogative of the Crown 767 that the power of the Sovereign over the army was established. That was not so. It was established by express Act of Parliament, without which the Crown could not make Articles of War or order courts martial.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.
§ Clause 10 (Powers of Regimental or Detachment Courts Martial).
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
moved the addition of the following words:—but no sentence of corporal punishment awarded by a Regimental Court Martial shall, except in the case of mutiny or aggravated insubordination next hereinafter mentioned, be put in execution in time of peace without the leave in writing of the General or other officer commanding the district or station in which the Court may be held.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, he objected to the use of the words "aggravated insubordination," and he proposed to substitute "insubordination accompanied with personal violence." He did not think it would be an answer to say that "aggravated insubordination" was a technical term in use at courts martial. It was doubtful whether the term had a strict and well-defined interpretation even there. But as this was one of the three offences for which flogging was to be inflicted in time of peace, the House and the country ought to know distinctly what was meant by it. The words he proposed did not admit of a wrong interpretation. Taking into account the views held in the army with respect to flogging, he admitted that the concession made by the right hon. Baronet was a liberal one. He felt, however, that the definition of this particular offence ought to be put down in black and white, so that the most illiterate person might understand it. If the words, "insubordination accompanied with personal violence," were adopted, while he did not abate one jot of his opinions on the subject of flogging, he should be no party to pressing the matter further.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, that the Government would meet the hon. Member in the spirit in which he had proposed his Amendment. The phrase hitherto used had always been "gross insubordination." That was nothing but a vituperative epithet. [Mr. OSBORNE: And so is "aggravated insubordination."] He admitted that there was some vagueness about it, and would therefore accept the words proposed by the hon. Member.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he would suggest the postponement of the clause. The question to be hereafter raised was whether corporal punishment in time of peace ought to be discontinued; but this clause anticipated the question. He thought it would be better to postpone this clause till after the new clause to be proposed by the Secretary at War had been discussed. As the question stood the House had expressed its opinion that flogging in the army should be abolished, and the clause if adopted would be inconsistent with that vote.
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, he thought would be better to postpone the clause. He hoped that before the Bill passed every officer and soldier in the army would know for what offences flogging might be inflicted.
said, he was of opinion that the Committee should not hastily postpone the consideration of the clause. There was no necessity to postpone it as it related to courts martial to be held in time of war, whereas the other clause referred to time of peace.
§ Clause postponed.
§ Clause 11 (Courts Martial on Line of March or in Troop Ships, &c.,) postponed.
§ Clauses 12 to 21, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 22 (Power to inflict Corporal Punishment and Imprisonment).
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
rose to move that Clause 22 be omitted, in order to substitute the clause of which he had given notice.
said, that the proper course would be for the right hon. Gentleman to say "No" to the proposal that Clause 22 should stand part of the Bill, and that the clause he proposed to substitute for it should be brought up as a new clause at the end of the Bill.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, I propose to vote against retaining this clause in the Bill, and when the remaining clauses have been disposed of I shall move the insertion of another of which I have given notice. I take this step with the full concurrence of the Commander-in-Chief. In the course of my communications with his Royal Highness, I have found that nothing could exceed the sincerity of the desire entertained by him to show every deference to the views which have been expressed by the House of Commons upon this subject, so far as such views are consistent with his 769 paramount duty as the officer charged with maintaining discipline in the Queen's army. I was very sorry to hear from my hon. Friend (Mr. Darby Griffith) during the earlier part of this evening that I am open to the charge of having treated the decision of the House with disrespect. I hope that is not the general opinion of the House; for, in taking the course I have, nothing was further from my intention. The House had arrived, by a majority of 1, at the decision to abolish altogether the practice of flogging in the army in time of peace; and it became my duty upon a subsequent evening to state that upon so important a question the Government could not look upon a majority of 1 in a House of 215 Members as a final decision of the House of Commons upon this question. As it was therefore necessary to give the House an opportunity for re-considering the point, I thought the easiest and most courteous method of doing so would be to retain the clause in the Bill, and I gave the most public notice possible of my intention, in order that hon. Gentlemen might have an opportunity of again raising the question. But, although I have since stated that I intended to retain the clause in the same form as it is now before the House, I was not aware, and I believe few are, that the clause in the Bill differed from the Queen's regulations upon the subject. That I thought was a state of things hardly defensible, and resolving to abandon the clause, I considered how I could frame a clause which would at once satisfy the House and those officers who were charged with the discipline of the army and at the same time be consistent with the Queen's regulations. The desire to get rid of this punishment must exist with us all, for notwithstanding the majority in favour of abolishing the punishment was represented by a single vote and the decision a matter of chance, I could not help thinking as I listened to the debate which preceded the division that there existed a strong and conscientious opinion among a large number of hon. Gentlemen that the discipline of the army could be maintained without resorting to flogging. I have therefore resolved to propose the clause which I have placed upon the paper. It makes large concessions, and I trust the House will deliberately consider it. In the course of the debate I was much struck with the very generally expressed opinion that if flogging were abolished some other punishment must be instituted. I watched 770 anxiously, but in vain, for the mention of some substitute. The only alternative I heard suggested, was that dismissal should be substituted for flogging. I speak before military men, who I confess are far better judges than I can be of such a matter; but I must express my belief that if you trust to dismissal from the army as a substitute for the punishment of flogging you will find it wholly inadequate, and at the same time you will incur the danger of men committing offences with a view to incur the punishment of dismissal. Under these circumstances, and after consultation with his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief and other authorities in the army, and with their full concurrence, I have made two concessions which I hope the House will deem to be large concessions. I apprehend there will be no difference as to retaining the present law with respect to an army in the field in time of war. I therefore only propose changes with reference to punishment in the army in time of peace. The changes I propose are twofold. The first is that corporal punishment shall be limited to three offences of the gravest character—namely, mutiny, aggravated insubordination, and disgraceful conduct of an indecent kind. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) wishes to change the language I have used with regard to the offence of insubordination. I was assured that the word "aggravated" would lead to no difficulty, as they are technical terms and well understood in the army. But the words suggested by the hon. Member are more clear, and I have no objection to their being adopted. I propose that corporal punishment shall be limited to the three offences enumerated in the clause. There is another concession involved which I consider to be of a still larger character, and the House will see that it is a material change. It is that soldiers in the first class shall be exempted from corporal punishment altogether. I am quite aware that in making this proposal I am going further than many officers feel to be safe. They would retain the power of punishing even first-class soldiers for certain offences. My opinion is that, on the whole, it would be better to draw a broad line, and to enact that no man shall be subjected to corporal punishment until by his own misconduct he has degraded himself to the second class. At this time there are 170,448 soldiers of the first and 17,142 of the second class, so that 91 per cent of the whole army 771 consists of men of the first class, who, under the proposed change, will be exempt from corporal punishment. The House will believe that in making these proposals we have endeavoured to show deference to its expressed opinion. The concessions cannot be regarded as otherwise than large in character; and I confess that, while giving credit for praiseworthy motives, I feel some little disappointment that they have not proved satisfactory to hon. Gentlemen opposite. In these few words I have explained to the House the changes I propose, and I shall have an opportunity of answering inquiries. Considering the immense importance of the discipline of the army, the great concession we now propose to make the decided opinion of many experienced officers that corporal punishment should be retained, and, I may add, the desire of many well-conducted soldiers that it should be retained, I hope a decided majority of the House will sanction the proposals I have now the honour to submit.
said, the question was strictly as to Clause 22; but the right hon. Gentleman had discussed the clause he proposed to substitute, and he therefore inferred that he might discuss not only the clause to be substituted, but his own Amendment to it. It was with considerable regret he felt compelled to press that Amendment, because he fully admitted that the right hon. Gentleman had in a fair spirit announced concessions by no means inconsiderable. He gratefully acknowledged the courtesy with which not only the right hon. Gentleman but all his Colleagues treated all those who differed from them. But to his mind this question went beyond considerations of courtesy. The clause as he proposed to amend it, by making it declare that no soldier should be subjected to corporal punishment, would initiate a policy capable of acting most beneficially on the British army. But, by the clause as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, an unnecessary and undeserved stigma would still be attached to the army. In the amended clause of the right hon. Gentleman there were matters which he did not think the Committee could possibly agree to. He had introduced an offence not previously named in the Mutiny Act, and he had most unnecessarily cast a reflection on the whole army by making an offence of an indecent character specifically a military offence. Another objection was that the smallest punishment a civilian 772 convicted of such an offence could receive was fourteen years' penal servitude, and yet it was proposed to make an exception in favour of the soldier, who was to be punished by the infliction of fifty lashes. Having due regard to the honour of the military profession, the House could hardly pass the clause with these words in it. He had no objection to the proposal that every soldier of the first class should, for certain offences to be specified in the Articles of War, be degraded to the second class; but he thought the word "degraded" was not a good or happy expression. It was important that the offences should be specified; because the number of offences that were visited with corporal punishment had increased from three to seventeen since 1833. Then a question arose as to the process by which a soldier was to be "degraded?" Was it to be on the authority and by the power of the commanding officer, or was it to be by a military tribunal? The expression "an army in the field" was vague and uncertain, and not recognised by law. It might be a corn-field or a coal-field. As the preamble of the Bill spoke of "time of peace," the corresponding expression ought to be "time of war," or "active service." The use of the word "misbehaviour" seemed tautological when the offences were specified. He would now ask the Committee to consider his proposal. The right hon. Gentleman had made some remarks with reference to the small majority by which the Motion was carried the other evening; but he might remind the House that many of the most important measures ever passed in Parliament had been carried by a majority of 1, and it was a remarkable circumstance that the clause for flogging in the Mutiny Act was only carried by a majority of 2 in a House of 90 Members, in 1863 or 1864. The right hon. Gentleman ought not, therefore, to taunt hon. Members about the smallness of the majority the other night. He should ask the Committee to vote for the Amendment which he was about to propose, because they would be thereby supporting their own decision. He should propose to omit all the words after "flogging," and the clause would then be in exact accordance with the previous vote of the House. Ho did not see how any Member who had voted upon that occasion in favour of the Resolution could, without the greatest inconsistency, decline to support his Amendment. If the right hon. Gentleman would 773 accept that Amendment, and would bring up a Resolution for the purpose of regulating the punishments to be awarded to soldiers when engaged in active operations, and while being conveyed on the sea in merchant vessels, he would meet with no unreasonable opposition on the part of Members of the House. He wished to say a few words on the subject of corporal punishment, though before doing so he wished to dismiss a question of a more personal character. He had noticed with some surprise, and with great regret, that on each occasion on which the subject of corporal punishment had been discussed the name of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief had been most unduly and unnecessarily introduced. When he brought forward the question he had refrained from mentioning the name of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, not only because he felt convinced that his Royal Highness would be as much disposed as any man in that House to abolish flogging if he thought the discipline of the army could be maintained without it, but also because he was of opinion that the introduction of the name of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief into a discussion in that House on a question of military policy was a most injudicious and a most unfair proceeding. When the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State (Sir John Pakington), and the right hon. and gallant General the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), paraded the name of the Commander-in-Chief as being entirely opposed to the abolition of flogging, could it be for one moment supposed that would not have an effect upon officers commanding regiments, and those in active service? There was not one who looked for promotion or favour at the Horse Guards who would not be influenced by it. ["No, no!"] Well, if not, military men must be very different from what he believed them to be, if, when informed that the man who was at the head of their profession entertained most decided opinions on a subject, they immediately set themselves in opposition to those opinions. Their ideas of discipline would of itself lead them to give way, when informed that his Royal Highness was against this or that, and therefore the introduction of his name into a discussion of this kind was unfair to the officers of the army. The opinion of his Royal Highness might probably be made known to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War; but the right hon. Baronet should 774 not come down and give the Committee that opinion to influence them in their decision on a question which they, as the representatives of the people, had a right to discuss on its merits, and on which they were not to be guided in their decision by the opinions entertained by Field-Marshal the Commander-in-Chief. More than that, great and important as was the position of the Commander-in-Chief, the only authority recognised in that House was the authority of the Secretary of State for War, who ought not to shelter himself behind the authority of the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief. Two arguments had been used, in reply to which he desired to say a few words. The right hon. and gallant General (General Peel) had complained the other day of his proposal to make a distinction between a time of peace and a time of war. The answer was, that throughout the whole of the Mutiny Bill, and at the commencement of the clause, that distinction was recognised. Then other hon. Gentlemen had objected that if imprisonment were substituted for corporal punishment extra duty would fall upon the good soldiers, in consequence of the misconduct of the bad. That objection, however, was wholly inconsistent with the argument that corporal punishment was of extremely rare occurrence. But there was an argument against the system beyond all this—one which went to the very root of the difficulty of recruiting our army. Recruiting would never be successful until the profession was raised instead of being degraded in the eyes of the people. Flogging had been abolished in every great army in Europe and America, and why should it be retained in our own? In the division list the other evening he was astonished to find among the minority the name of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole), who not long previously had entertained so high an opinion of the soldiers that he proposed to confer upon them the right of citizenship and a vote. In spite of this, however, the right hon. Gentleman was in favour of putting upon them a stigma which could not be inflicted upon any citizen. ["No!"] Well, it might be in the case of convicts, but he hoped no hon. Gentleman regarded soldiers as convicts. He implored the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) to re-consider even now his position in reference to this question. The right hon. Gentleman had considered it with an unprejudiced mind, and in a fair spirit; and 775 if he carried out his own intentions, he believed he would abolish corporal punishment altogether. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would do so. It should be borne in mind that the question of flogging would not be finally settled, because the Mutiny Act was annually voted, and could not settle a question for ever, like the Reform Bill, This question could only be settled in one way. A new House of Commons was about to be called together, elected, he supposed, by household suffrage. Well, one of the very first acts of the new House of Commons would be to sweep away this corporal punishment, and lie should like the present House to have the credit of doing that before they separated. Public opinion, the Press, and, as far as he knew, military authority, was in favour of the abolition of flogging. The hundreds of letters which he had received from every part of the country showed what interest the subject had excited, and all those letters urged him to persevere. He earnestly hoped that when the clause came under consideration the right hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment of which he had given notice.
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, he was astonished at the remarks made concerning the introduction of the name of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief into the discussion of a question of this nature. It was of the very greatest importance that the opinion of the officer at the head of the army should be known upon such a matter. He was surprised at the opinion given the other night by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Captain Grosvenor), who, after citing his own corps—the First Life Guards—one of the best in the army, said—
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
said, be rose to order. He wished to know whether the Committee were discussing Clause 22 with a view to negativing it, or whether they were discussing the whole question of flogging in the army?
said, the question before the Committee was whether Clause 22 should stand part of the Bill. The Secretary for War (Sir John Pakington) had informed the Committee that it was his intention to say "No" to the Motion, in order that, at the end of the Bill, he might introduce a new clause on the subject of corporal punishment. Clause 22, however, raised the whole question of corporal punishment; and therefore he could not say 776 that hon. Members were out of order in discussing that question, or in referring to what were the intentions of the Secretary for War with regard to the clause he proposed to substitute for the present clause. For the convenience of the Committee, however, he would suggest that Clause 22 should be negatived without further discussion, and they could then proceed with the other clauses of the Bill. At the end of the Bill the Secretary for War would propose his new clause, and hon. Members would be able to move the Amendments of which they had given notice, and which were being discussed now, without the possibility of being brought to an issue.
§ Clause 22 negatived.
§ Clauses 23 to 39, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 40.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, he moved to omit that part of the clause which exempted a soldier from the duty of supporting any relation whom he would be compelled to support if he were not a soldier. The exemption operated mischievously, and put a stigma on soldiers which it was desirable to remove.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that while he appreciated the good feeling evinced by the hon. Baronet, he was bound to resist the proposed alteration.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he had now to submit to the Committee the clause which he proposed as a substitute for Clause 22. He substituted the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), by which the words "aggravated insubordination" were replaced by the words "insubordination accompanied by personal violence."(No Soldier of the First Class to be Sentenced to Corporal Punishment).Every Soldier shall upon enlistment be placed in the First Class of the Army, and no Soldier in such class shall, in time of peace, be sentenced to the corporal punishment of flogging; every soldier in the First Class shall, for the commission of certain offences, to be specified from time to time in the Articles of War, be degraded to the Second Class of the Army, and every Soldier in the Second Class shall be liable to be sentenced by court martial to corporal punishment, not exceeding 777 fifty lashes, for the following offences—namely, mutiny, insubordination accompanied by personal violence, or disgraceful conduct of an indecent kind; every soldier, when serving with a military force in the field or on board ship shall be liable to a like punishment by court martial for any of the offences before enumerated, or for desertion, drunkenness on duty or on the line of march, misbehaviour, or neglect of duty.He had already explained his reasons for introducing the clause, and would not therefore again trouble the Committee.
§ New Clause, instead of Clause 22 (No Soldier of the First Class to be sentenced to corporal punishment,)—(Sir John Pakington,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, he wished to ask whether it was really intended that no soldier should be liable to corporal punishment as long as he was in the first class? There were many cases of the worst possible kind of insubordination that might be committed on a line of march, such as instigating a regiment to mutiny or knocking down a commanding officer. He wished to know whether a man who had been guilty of one of those offences was not to be made a signal example of merely because he occupied a place in the first class. He thought there must be some mistake in that.
§ COLONEL NORTH,
in continuation, read the concluding portion of the clause, and observed that they ought to be told what was the meaning of the words "misbehaviour or neglect of duty" at the end of the clause. Every soldier knew what was meant by an army in the field; but he wished to know what was to be done in the case of such troops as those at present engaged against the Fenians in Canada or in Ireland; and whether one of those men, if he should have knocked down his commanding officer, was not to be liable to corporal punishment? His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Westminster (Captain Grosvenor) had, on a former occasion, admitted that there were very grave cases of insubordination in the army; but he said that the remedy must be found in something else than the lash. He had been excessively sorry to hear his hon. Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Otway) allude specially to one side of the House, for the question was one, not of party, but of what was best for the benefit of the country. It was said that in the matter of 778 discipline we ought to follow the example of foreign countries. Well, on one occasion when he was at Paris he met a number of troops returning towards the city, which led him to ask whether there had been a review. "Oh, no," was the answer; "we have been to shoot one of our men." For what crime? "For knocking down a non-commissioned officer." Were we to relinquish the system of flogging in the British army and adopt the Continental—of shooting every man who knocked down a non-commissioned officer? Periods of punishment again were punishments not so much of the offender as of the other men who had to perform the extra duty. The example of the Prussian army had been cited; but of what materials was that army composed? Was it likely that in this country regulations would ever be adopted compelling every gentleman to serve whether he liked it or not. A system of voluntary service gave us, of course, very different materials; but it was gratifying to reflect that the non-commissioned officers who issued from the ranks were second to those of no other country for gallantry and conduct. He understood the Secretary of State for War to have said that out of 100 men there were ninety-one of the first class, and nine only of the second. Was it intended that those ninety-one men should, under no circumstances, be liable to corporal punishment?
said, the first observation he had to make was that although the powers conferred by the Mutiny Act were very large with respect to corporal punishment, and the discretion very wide, yet, from his experience while holding the office of Judge Advocate General, he believed that those powers were practically exercised with very great discretion, and that the cases in which flogging was inflicted—assuming such a punishment to be right—were exactly those in which it ought to be administered. The fact was that the powers given by the Mutiny Act had been much limited by the regulations issued under the authority of the Crown, and also by the good sense and discretion of the commanding officers of the different regiments. Those regulations never had the force of law; and he was desirous of mentioning that, because it was asserted that there had been many instances in which men in the first class had been subjected to corporal punishment contrary to the regulations. It was true there had been a few cases of that kind. But they occurred very shortly after the regu- 779 lations were issued, before they had become known, and the cases were very few in number. Wherever he had met with such cases he had of course commented upon them. For all practical purposes, those regulations were strictly enforced in the army. He had not himself officially had the means of ascertaining whether soldiers who were flogged afterwards behaved the better for it, or what was its effect upon the rest of their corps. But he had had the opportunity of conversing on the subject with military men of great experience, and he found them to be nearly unanimous in the opinion that corporal punishment, under some circumstances, was absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the discipline of the army. The cases for which it was inflicted were those in which it appeared, on the face of the transaction, that the men to whom it was administered had no habits of self-control, were exceedingly violent and insubordinate, and very difficult to deal with. Another class of cases in which it was administered was where soldiers had stolen from their own comrades. There was also a third category of such cases to which it was not necessary further to allude. Looking at the matter in the light of the human suffering involved, it was rather difficult to say whether corporal punishment, or sentences of imprisonment perhaps for long periods, and often including solitary confinement, were the worse; and he could not say that he was able to give the House a strong opinion on the subject. But there was this great objection to corporal punishment, that it went against the sensibilities and the tendencies of the public mind in this country. If it ceased to exist, the army might possibly become more popular, while a stronger sense of professional honour might be introduced into its lowest ranks. He had no doubt that it had considerable effect in deterring men from entering the army. There was hardly a village in England from which young men had not enlisted; but there were few village families that took pride in the fact that one of their members had enlisted for a common soldier. How far that feeling was produced by the flogging it was not for him to say. What he should have preferred on that matter was that his hon. Friend (Mr. Otway) should not have moved the actual omission of that clause, but that the Secretary of State for War (Sir John Pakington) should have come down and stated, on the part of the authorities of 780 the army, that they recognised fully the feeling of the House on that subject; and that, though they did not think it would be prudent altogether to give up the power of flogging, it was their intention to exercise it only in cases of extreme urgency. The proposed new clause was very vague and uncertain. It spoke of offences "to be specified from time to time in the Articles of War." This was not clear. It ought to be made as clear as noon-day, so that every recruit might easily know, without being obliged to consult any other document, what circumstances would bring him within the limits of that particular punishment. The clause, in its present form, proposed to retain corporal punishment for mutiny and aggravated insubordination attended with personal violence, but to abolish it in all other cases. Assuming it to be true that it was still necessary to retain it with the view of suddenly putting down a mutiny, then the punishment should be equally applicable to all engaged in the mutiny. He could not, however, understand on what principle it was that nine-tenths of the army—for that was the proportion, according to the right hon. Gentleman, in the first-class—might commit acts of mutiny, and yet that it should not be deemed necessary to flog them while flogging was maintained to be indispensable under similar circumstances in the case of the remaining one-tenth. If it was not necessary to flog any of the larger class it would appear not to be necessary to flog at all. He also found some difficulty in understanding the last part of the clause, in which it was set forth that—Every soldier, when serving with a military force in the field or on board ship, shall be liable to a like punishment by court martial for any of the offences before enumerated.Did the words "every soldier," he should like to know, mean every soldier in the first and second class? [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: Yes, in time of war.] But the words "on board ship" had no immediate connection with a time of war, so that every soldier in the first and second classes in time of peace on board ship would "be liable to a like punishment;" and how that proposal was to be reconciled with the first part of the clause, in which it was laid down that no soldier in the first class should in time of peace be sentenced to be flogged, he was at a loss to understand. The clause, in fact, was not sufficiently distinct or precise; yet if ever there was a matter in which the language should be free from ambiguity, 781 it was this. If corporal punishment were to be tolerated in any case, he would prefer to see substituted for the proposed clause one in which it was shortly and clearly laid down that in time of peace corporal punishment should not be inflicted except for the offences of mutiny and aggravated insubordination, accompanied by violence, without any reference to classification. A general power should also be given extending the punishment to other offences in time of war.
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
said, be believed that both sides of the House agreed in the opinion that the punishment of flogging was almost as degrading to the men who witnessed as to those who suffered it, and that its effect on the men who were flogged was anything but salutary. There could be no doubt that it ought to be abolished; and if it were retained, it was only because the service was not at that premium at which it ought to be. The commanding officers ought to be empowered to say that the man who committed a crime for which he deserved to be flogged should be discharged, and that discharge ought to be regarded as a disgrace to him. He thought the concession which had been offered by the Secretary for War (Sir John Pakington) was one which ought to be accepted, and he would suggest the withdrawal of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Otway).
§ MR. HORSMAN
My right hon. Friend the Secretary for War began his speech by vindicating himself from the charge which he imagined—I think erroneously—was made against him of having treated the House with disrespect in not giving effect to the Resolution at which it arrived a few nights ago. All the circumstances of the case being taken into consideration—that the majority was a very narrow one in a small House, that the division came somewhat suddenly upon him, and that the change proposed was one to which he could not well assent without taking counsel with the military authorities—he was, in my opinion, perfectly justified in not acting on the Resolution without giving us, as he did very fairly, an opportunity of re-considering the matter. I, at the same time, must say that when it is taken into account that this is a question on which, as he must know, public opinion is growing very strong—if it be not altogether ripe—he would, in my humble judgment, have acted more judiciously, especially as he told us he has been in communication with the military 782 authorities on the subject, if he had informed the House that he foresaw he could not long resist the tide of opinion which was rising against the infliction of corporal punishment. There can be no doubt that out of doors, at all events, corporal punishment in the army is looked upon as a punishment at once brutal and degrading. It might be tolerated in the days when the army was recruited from the dregs of the population; but it is not in harmony with our times, and does not accord with the spirit of the age. Though to-night the clause which my right hon. Friend proposes may be agreed to, yet he must remember that this Mutiny Bill will be, as the hon. Member for Chatham told him, an annual topic of discussion, and this question will be made the subject of annual debate. The probability, therefore, is that no Government will be able to maintain corporal punishment beyond another year. I would throw out for the consideration of my right hon. Friend whether it is well, by the retention of this punishment, to bring odium and unpopularity on the military authorities without any corresponding advantage? Public opinion, as I said, is opposed to the infliction of this punishment, and no opinion, I venture to contend, unless it be that of the military authorities, is in its favour. In speaking of the opinion of military men, I would not be misunderstood. No men are, I believe, more generous or humane as regards their fellow-creatures generally, while the soldiers under their command are to them objects of peculiar care and solicitude. They know their good qualities, they are proud of their loyalty, and they would do as much as any other class of men to raise their character. When, therefore, I speak of them as being in favour of corporal punishment, I am simply making a remark which applies to men of any profession, who, when any change affecting their profession is proposed, are liable to look on the proposal with a narrow vision, to prefer the familiar to the unknown, experience to experiment, and to regard any alteration as tending to unsettlement and uncertainty. I think we ought not to have had the name of the Commander-in-Chief so prominently brought forward in this discussion. The Duke of Cambridge is very popular, and deservedly so, both with the army and in this House; because we know that, while devoted to his profession, he is, more than any other man who has filled that important office, disposed to feel that the army ought to be 783 popular as well as efficient, and to give his best attention to any suggestions that may be made for the welfare of the soldier. But I certainly think that if this Motion is to be resisted, if any unpopularity and odium are to be faced—as must be the case if this question has to be discussed from year to year—the Government ought to take it upon themselves. I should be very sorry, therefore, if we should again have a letter brought down, written by the Commander-in-Chief, and read with an effect which I do not believe my right hon. Friend intended to produce, for he indicated his personal feeling against corporal punishment, but stated that in the face of that letter he could not consent to the Motion.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I have no recollection of having given any opinion beyond saying that I should be pleased if the punishment could safely be abolished.
§ MR. HORSMAN
The right hon. Gentleman certainly indicated the opinion which he held; for no one could have heard his speech without perceiving that his feeling was strongly against corporal punishment, though he said that after receiving that letter he could not consent to the Motion. I feel sure that the impression which was produced by the reading of that letter was unintentional on his part; for if an unpopular system is to be kept up, it is hardly fair or judicious to put the Commander-in-Chief in the from, and make him bear the brunt of that unpopularity. The objection to the proposal of my hon. Friend (Mr. Otway) is based partly on argument and partly on apology. The argument, if it can be so called, is that the discipline of the army must be kept up. We all admit that; but the question is, whether or not this is a mode of punishment which tends more than any other to keep op that discipline. My right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) said just now that he listened attentively to the debate the other night, and did not hear any substitute suggested for this punishment. He himself, however, gave an answer to that remark; because he said he intended to abolish it, except in 9 per cent of the whole army. He cannot intend that the remaining 91 per cent—the men in the first class—shall go unpunished. He must, therefore, have decided what the substitute is to be, and what punishment they are to undergo for the same offences for which the other 9 per cent are to be flogged. Why not, then, apply that substitute to the latter also? The argument that corporal punishment is 784 essential to the maintenance of discipline we meet by facts. A very strong fact has been already referred to—namely, that in some of the Household regiments corporal punishment is not inflicted, and yet those regiments are as well disciplined as any in the service, I have been reminded, too, of another force which is not, indeed, part of the army, but is a military force in its character and organization—the Constabulary of Ireland. They are a well disciplined force, 12,000 strong, but there is no flogging; and if its introduction were attempted, the force would fall to pieces. It is said, however, in reply to the inquiry, why discipline cannot be kept up without it as well with the 9 per cent as with the 91—that those 9 per cent consist of an entirely different class of men; that they are the scamps and reprobates of the army, and that no other punishment would have any effect upon them. I will deal with that presently. The late Judge Advocate (Mr. Headlam) said he would retain flogging for violence, aggravated insubordination, and some other offences. But he did not tell us why it was specially applicable to those cases, or would be more effective in them. As for the amended clause, I do not see any practical difference between it and the original clause. Either corporal punishment is proper and effective, or it is not. If it is, you ought to continue it for all offences under the old Mutiny Act. If it is not, you ought to abolish it entirely. By discontinuing it for one class of offences and retaining it for another, you either do too much or too little, and you thus give up your own case. For what purpose is it to be retained for this 9 per cent? Is it that you wish to reform them, or that you wish to deter them? Two Returns have been presented to the House, one giving the cases in which corporal punishment was inflicted from 1862 to 1865, and the other stating the subsequent conduct of the men who were flogged. This very valuable information, what does it show? Did any good result from the flogging? In almost every case a man who is once flogged becomes a confirmed reprobate, the first punishment being soon followed by another. I have taken the trouble to analyze a single page of the Return, in order to show what the effect of the punishment is. The first case is that of a soldier who was brought before a court martial on the 2nd of December, 1862, for disgraceful conduct and for making away with necessaries. He was sentenced to fifty lashes, 785 six months' hard labour, and stoppage of pay, the whole being carried out. On the 11th of June, 1863, as soon as the six months had expired, he was again tried and again sentenced to fifty lashes, six months' hard labour, and stoppage, the whole being carried out, with the exception of seventy-six days' hard labour. The week in which that sentence expired he was a third time sentenced to the like punishment, in that instance, however, the flogging being remitted. A fourth time he was tried, and condemned to six months' hard labour and stoppage; and on the 22nd of October, 1865, he was again sentenced to fifty lashes and 252 days' hard labour, with stoppage, the whole of which was carried out. So that this man in less than three years comes before five courts martial, is four times sentenced to be flogged, and actually undergoing it thrice, and is condemned to 982 days' hard labour, of which 766 are carried out, he being the whole time under stoppage. [An hon. MEMBER: What were his offences?] The first was disgraceful conduct and making away with necessaries; the second, absence and making away with necessaries; the third, making away with necessaries; the fourth, absence and making away with necessaries; and the fifth, absence and insubordination. The hon. and gallant Member for Oxfordshire (Colonel North) told us the other night that there was a difficulty in substituting another punishment, because while a man was undergoing it some of his comrades would have to perform his duty; but here is a man who for three years had not done a week's duty, being the whole time under punishment. Surely, as the hon. Member for Fifeshire (Sir Robert Anstruther) has suggested, it would have been a great benefit to the service had this confirmed reprobate been turned out at once. The second case is that of a man who, in less than three years, was five times before a court martial, and was sentenced to flogging and 462 days' hard labour, as well as to 1,312 days' stoppage of 1d. a day. In another case, a man was seven times before a court martial, and sentenced to four floggings. The floggings were inflicted three times, and he received 150 lashes. He was also sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour, and to stoppages of 1d., his imprisonment lasting altogether 1,008 days. Another man was before six courts martial, was flogged three times, had 999 days' hard labour, 786 was subjected to stoppages of 1d. for 2,688 days in all. These cases are all in one single page of the Return, and I put it to the House whether, in every one of these cases, it would not have been a saving to the public if the men had been dismissed from the service. They were continually in prison, and the country derived no good from their services. I heard my hon. and gallant Friend say that, if you do away with corporal punishment, you must give facilities for discriminating between the good and the bad men. Well, who objects to the authorities being furnished with any facilities that may be necessary? Gentlemen on this side of the House will feel it their duty to assist in getting rid of the men who disgrace the army. They are the men whom it is painful for the good soldier to associate with, who demoralize the new recruit, and keep better men out of the army. You have a positive difficulty in getting recruits, and the reason is because you retain these bad men, who are small in number, but who lower the standard of the army. If you dismiss them, you will get good men in their place. The fact is that the real mode of raising the discipline of the army is by raising its character, and thereby attracting men to the service who will take a pride in their profession; but nobody ever heard of the pride of a flogged soldier. It has been said that it is necessary for the preservation of discipline that the system of flogging should be upheld; and the Secretary for War says that it is only a very small number who get the punishment. Then it would appear that for an infinitesimal amount of benefit this scandal and reproach to the whole service is maintained. The Judge Advocate rather disputes the assertion that this mode of punishment is not in keeping with the spirit of the times. He points to our recent legislation, and says that we have passed an Act for flogging juvenile delinquents and garrotters. Yes, but the English soldier is neither a juvenile delinquent nor garrotter. The case of juvenile delinquents comes home to the experience of all of us. We have all been juvenile delinquents; but then there is a great difference between boys and men. In the case of a boy flogging is only a local application; but in the case of the soldier, flogging is followed by feelings of wounded pride and degradation ten times more painful than the physical operation. We are asked whether we would do away with the punishment altogether. 787 We admit that in time of war, on board ship, on the line of march, and in campaign, you must adopt it, because there is no other mode of punishment available; but we declare that it is the worst of all punishments. This is no longer a question of argument, but it is one of those questions which will be decided by public opinion. When public opinion bears strongly against any practice, a change of system is but a question of time; and in this case I predict that it will be a question of short time. The change would be accepted thankfully if it were at once adopted; but, if it be long postponed, a time will come when the Government will acquire odium and unpopularity, and will be compelled to do by the force of public opinion that which they might now do gracefully and easily. I therefore call on them to give this matter their most serious consideration, so that when they come to discuss this subject next year they may be in a position to do that which will gain both popularity and efficiency to the army and satisfaction to the country.
said, that some years ago, when this subject was brought forward by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White), he (Major Jervis) had stated that flogging had to be retained because the House of Commons would not vote the necessary money for weeding the army of bad characters. What was the state of the case at the present moment, it not being a question of facing an enemy, but the country being at peace? He had asked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War whether it was proposed to give the military authorities more power to get rid of felons and men who had been guilty of disgraceful conduct? The reply was, that it was not intended to give the military authorities any more power than they possessed at present. It was quite true that the Articles of War stated that no man should be dismissed the service except by sentence of a court martial or by the order of the Commander-in-Chief. But, in point of fact, though the Commander-in-Chief had the control of the discipline and of the promotion of the army, he had nothing to do with the financial affairs of the army, as the War Office took good care, for the sake of the saving, that men should not be dismissed. They looked to the cost. That was really the essence of the whole question. They would have to pay a man to supply the place of the discharged one. According to the Estimates they would be 788 called upon to pay £18,000 this year for the maintenance of the law by court martial; but in truth that was but a small portion of the real expense, for the pay of the men in prison went towards this vote, and the real cost was £90,000 per annum. Now, what would be the cost of discharging a few bad characters compared with this enormous expense? According to the last Report there were between 5,000 and 6,000 soldiers in military prisons; of these, 5,000 were returned as of good, 600 of indifferent, and 600 of bad character. So that it was for the sake of these 600 bad men that the objectionable clause would be introduced. The right hon. Gentleman the Judge Advocate had defended the clause on the ground that we flogged our garotters, our juvenile offenders, and those who fired at the Queen. Well, but these were not the sort of men that we wanted in the army. The sooner they were got rid of the better. The right hon. Gentleman said, also, that unless flogging were maintained the non-commissioned officers would not be safe. A friend of his, since that statement was made, had asked every non-commissioned officer in his battalion whether they thought flogging necessary to maintain their authority, and every one of them replied that they would be sorry to maintain it at that price. The case brought forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Truro (Captain Vivian) of the man of disgraceful character in one of the regiments of the Guards, one of the greatest blackguards on the face of the earth, whom every effort had been made without success to get discharged, had struck consternation everywhere. It was incredible that the character of the army should be sacrificed in this manner for the sake of the three guineas that had to he given as bounty to recruits. The British soldier had a right to demand that his comrades should be men whom he was not ashamed of, not men fit only for the hulks. He should not object to preserving the power of inflicting corporal punishment in the case of troops on board ship, as some commanding officers seemed to think it necessary, though he had had some experience of men in that position, and he had never seen it had recourse to. Then it was argued that the other punishments now employed in the army were not sufficiently stringent to render it safe to do away with flogging. But in the last Report of the Inspector General of Military Prisons for 1864, a hope was expressed by Colonel Henderson 789 that the increased stringency which it was proposed to introduce into our military prisons would render confinement in them a sufficient punishment for all offences committed by soldiers whom it was in any way desirable to retain in the service; and that all who, by the heinousness of their offences, had incurred the penalty of penal servitude, might never again be considered eligible to enter the service. All he asked was that the commanding officer should have the power, with the consent of the Commander-in-Chief, of discharging men of disgraceful character from the service; and he was confident that a few thousand pounds would cover all the ex-pence. Men were not likely to commit disgraceful offences in order to get discharged. He would even have no objection to continuing the punishment of flogging in certain cases, on condition that dismissal from the service followed it. Under the present system, when they had caught a blackguard they did their best to keep him; or they were so stingy that they would not get rid of him. What did it cost them? He believed it was the most expensive policy that could be followed. Men of this character were all their time either in prison or in hospital. If they went on foreign service they died like rotten potatoes, and other men had to be sent in their place. Commanding officers, inspectors of prisons, medical officers, all agreed in saying that you could never get a day's work out of such men, of whom there were between 1,000 and 2,000 in civil prisons, besides those in military prisons, who ought never to have been admitted into the army at all. For these reasons, he should feel compelled to vote against the clause as it at present stood; but he thought it might be altered to embody the views he had expressed.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, he wished to say a few words on the present occasion, some remarks he made the other evening having been referred to by his right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) and his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Harwich (Major Jervis.) His right hon. Friend was mistaken in supposing that he had referred to the Act for punishing juvenile offenders. His argument was that just as they had revived the punishment of corporal punishments in the case of firing at Her Majesty and in the case of garrotters, so in the British army, as in society at large, there was a number of persons of desperate character and unbridled passions for whom this punishment 790 was necessary. It was asked by his hon. and gallant Friend, "Why not give power to commanding officers to discharge these men?" But already courts martial had the power of discharge; the Commander-in-Chief had the same power; the commanders of the forces in Ireland and in the colonies had the same power. But in addition to the great expenses occasioned by discharges well known to military men, and the difficulty of obtaining recruits, what would happen? The arguments now used against flogging would, on the score of humanity, be used against branding; and if those discharged were not marked "B. C.," they would re-enlist, get fresh bounty, and would never be got rid of. His right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) had raised two objections to the clause—the first in point of substance, the second in a matter of form. In point of substance, he said, if the power were preserved it should be preserved for all classes. But the object of the clause was to give the good recruit, whom he hoped to attract to the service, that absolute immunity under all circumstances to which Lord Herbert pledged Parliament six years ago. Under no circumstances could the recruit entering the army, or so long as he continued in the first class, be sentenced to this degrading punishment. There were not only two classes of soldiers, but two classes of offenders; and it was only when offenders came under the second class that they were liable to be degraded. The objection to the wording of the clause, founded on the apparent inconsistency between the beginning and the end of it, would be obviated by the insertion of the words—Providing that no soldier in such class shall in time of peace be liable to corporal punishment, unless he is serving with a military force in the field or on board ship.These words would, he thought, meet the verbal objection that had been taken to the clause.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The arguments against and in favour of this punishment have been so fully stated on both sides that it was not my intention to offer any observations on the present occasion. But it seems to me the Committee is placed in rather a difficult position by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. It is difficult to collect exactly what is the intention of the Government with reference to the various Amendments to be moved to the proposal 791 of the Government. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) stated with great clearness the objections felt to the form in which the clause is put; and I do not quite understand whether the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mowbray) intends at any future stage to alter the clause so as to remove those objections. I must say it appears to me that to maintain House that he thought that the punishment that all soldiers shall be divided into two classes, and that under no circumstances shall this punishment be inflicted on those in the first class, is calculated to take away almost all utility in the punishment. If the Government assent to the proposal—leaving out the third offence, as probably they may—it will not be possible to punish by flogging during peace except for mutiny and aggravated insubordination—and only one-tenth part of the army even in those cases. If that be all that is intended, I really think it is scarcely worth while to retain the clause at all. But, although I feel this objection to the clause brought forward by the Government, if a division be taken on the second reading of it I must go out in favour of the clause. I am unwilling at present to abolish by law the punishment of flogging, which I think is almost the only punishment that can be inflicted in time of war, and which I also think is an appropriate one, and ought to be inflicted in cases of mutiny and aggravated insubordination. I think that this clause is faulty; but it may be improved after being read a second time. Under these circumstances, if the matter is brought to a division, I shall vote for the second reading.
I expressed my own opinion the other evening as strongly as possible upon the advisability of retaining the power of flogging in the army; and therefore I should not have risen upon the present occasion had it not been for the observations of the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Otway), repeated by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman), as to dragging into the discussion the name of the Commander-in-Chief. If there be any impropriety in the manner in which the Commander-in-Chief's letter has been laid before the House I am responsible for it; because no sooner did the hon. Member for Chatham give notice of his intention to make a Motion upon this subject, than I, as the then Secretary of State for War, wrote an official letter to the Commander-in-Chief, who, as such, is responsible to the Secretary of State for War for the dis- 792 cipline of the army, requesting him to inform me whether, in his opinion, it was possible to do away with the system of flogging in the army without interfering with its discipline. I confess I should have been most happy had the reply of the Commander-in-Chief been such as would have enabled me to have informed the House that he thought that the punishment of flogging could be done away with without interfering with the due discipline of the army. The letter which has been laid before the House is an official letter written by the Commander-in-Chief to the Secretary of State for War on the subject of the discipline of the army, and I should like to know what more proper evidence on the subject could be adduced. But in addition to this evidence, there was the opinion of the Adjutant General, who said he could not hold himself responsible to the Commander-in-Chief for the discipline of the army were this punishment abolished. In certain cases, even in time of peace, such as when troops are on board transports, or when they are in the field, as they have been in Canada, I am informed that it is almost absolutely necessary to retain this system of punishment. I agree, however, with the view taken by the late Judge Advocate General (Mr. Headlam), that if the punishment of flogging is to be retained in cases of mutiny and of gross insubordination, the punishment should be inflicted upon offenders without distinction of class. If a man is a mutineer, or is guilty of gross insubordination, he should be flogged, whether he be in the first or the second class.
§ MR. HORSMAN
I rise for the purpose of explaining that, while I expressed myself as being of opinion that it was very unfortunate that the name of the Commander-in-Chief had been introduced into this discussion, I did not make use of the word "indecent," nor of any word to the same effect. I thought that the Government ought to have acted on their own responsibility.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I wish to say a few words in reply to the observations made by hon. Members in the course of this discussion. With reference to what has been said as to the division of the army into two classes, I have made no change whatever in that respect. The only change I have made is that, whereas at present the men in the first class are exempt from being flogged except for mutinous conduct, I have proposed that men in the first class should 793 be exempted from corporal punishment altogether. It is for the House to say whether they approve this change, or whether they approve this change, or whether they desire that this system of punishment shall be retained for mutineers, whether in the first or second class. I have also proposed that even in the second class corporal punishment shall be limited to the three offences named. The hon. Member for Chatham appears to think that I have impugned the character of the army by naming the third of these offences as deserving of flogging. But the Articles of War have for years directed that corporal punishment shall be inflicted for offences of this description. It has been suggested that we should make dismissal from the army a substitute for the punishment of flogging. But it has been found to be necessary by one of the Articles of War to specify the punishment that shall be inflicted upon men who shall intentionally maim and injure themselves—to the extent sometimes of injuring their eyesight, in order to get turned out of the army. Under these circumstances, when I find that men will wilfully injure themselves in order to get turned out of the army, I think we must hesitate before we adopt dismissal from the service as a substitute for flogging. With regard to objections that have been taken to the wording of the clause, it has been drawn up by the legal adviser to the War Office, and I see no reason to alter it, with the exception of that part which refers to men "on board a ship," which should read "on board a ship not in commission." When men are shut up on board a transport it is impossible to subject them to the ordinary punishments that can be administered on land. [An hon. MEMBER: Is this to apply in time of peace?] Certainly. I think that I have made a very large concession by this clause. Should the House feel that the concession to the first class is too large, they have it in their power to determine how far the punishment shall be retained as regards this class. I confess I would rather keep the clause as it now stands, than introduce any alteration in it. I am in favour of exempting the best men in the army from corporal punishment altogether, and of limiting that punishment to those who by their misconduct have reduced themselves to the second class.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I intend to vote for the second reading of the clause; but I do not wish it to be understood that by so doing I pledge myself to the clause as it 794 stands. I hope the right hon. Baronet will fully understand that I only assent to the clause being read a second time in the hope that it will be improved before it is finally laid before us.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 225; Noes 131: Majority 94.
said, that as this question had been fully discussed, he did not think it desirable to trouble the Committee with further observations. All he asked the House to do was to affirm their Resolution; and he proposed to modify the clause, so that it should read—Every soldier shall on enlisting be in the first class, and no soldier shall in time of peace be sentenced to the corporal punishment of flogging.He asked the Committee to remember the words of one of the greatest statesmen the country had ever produced—Lord William Bentinck—who, when he abolished flogging, conjured the officers of the army to relieve themselves as he had done of an unworthy prejudice. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment he had proposed, to restrict the punishment of flogging to the time of war—not to inflict it in time of peace.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 2, to leave out after the words "soldier" until the word "shall" in the same line; and after "flogging," in line 3, to leave out the reminder of the clause.—(Mr. Otway.)
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that if flogging were to be restricted to the two offences, as he thought it ought to be, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) whether it was necessary to keep up this classification? If flogging were necessary at all as a punishment for mutiny and insubordination, accompanied with personal violence, it was equally applicable to any soldier, independent of classification. He therefore proposed to omit the first words of the clause, "Every soldier shall, upon enlistment, be placed in the first class of the army;" and he should also propose to omit the third offence as one for which flogging should be inflicted.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he had already explained that in the proposal respecting classification he merely adhered to the existing practice. For seven years the army had been divided into these two 795 classes, and the Committee ought hardly to do away with this broad distinction between the well and the ill-conducted men without notice. Still, the argument used by the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) was a very strong one, and he should not be prepared to join issue with him.
§ COLONEL PERCY HERBERT
said, there appeared to be some misapprehension as to the practice existing in the Prussian army. An officer who had written to him on this subject, said—I have by me Witzleben's book on the organization of the Prussian army, edition of 1864, by which it appears that the Articles of War then in force treated flogging as one of the minor punishments, to which any soldier of the second class was liable without trial. The colonel of a regiment could summarily award thirty strokes of the cane, or forty if the offender was undergoing punishment of hard labour, or was in a so-called punishment section. Any subordinate officer, if on detached command, could award fifteen.This statement of the law was confirmed by an officer who was present with one of the Prussian corps during the late campaign.
said, that according to the Queen's Regulations every soldier was liable to flogging for mutiny. That was the existing state of the law, and soldiers were only divided into classes with respect to crimes concerning which it was proposed to take away the punishment of flogging altogether.
§ Amendment negatived.
said, he must congratulate the Government upon their "whip," and would not put the Committee to the trouble of dividing on his Amendment. The result was that no concession had practically been made. Next year, if he were in the House, he would again bring the subject forward on the bringing in of the Mutiny Bill, and he was convinced that the days of flogging in the army were numbered.
said, he was either unfit to understand the course the proceedings had taken, or they were of a very unusual nature. He hoped that somebody would explain what had taken place.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that the offences for which degradation was to be inflicted and the authority by whom it was to be done were not specified. He wanted to know was it to be done by the mere will of the commanding officer, or was the degradation to take place only after conviction by a court martial? He wished for some explanation of the views of the Government.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, his proposal undoubtedly was to retain the division into classes, and to exempt the first class. But after the discussion which had taken place, he believed it to be the opinion of the great majority on both sides that it would not be prudent to part with this punishment for cases of mutiny and gross insubordination even in the first class.
said, they had got into such confusion that the best plan was to report Progress, and he would move that the Chairman be ordered to do so.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he would move, in the third line, after the words "first class," to omit the word "shall" in order to insert the word "may," his object being that the degradation should not be made imperative.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that in the present state of the matter there would be considerable difficulty in bringing this question to a conclusion. The clause ought to be most seriously considered, and as there was no chance of doing that now, he thought the best course would be to agree to the Motion that the Chairman report Progress.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.