§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL (Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN)
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he rose for the purpose of explaining certain of its provisions which were necessary to correct some clerical errors which had crept into the Army Act of last Session, owing to the fact that one of two Acts, which it consolidated, not having left that House—in consequence of the system of "blocking" persistently applied to it—until within a very few days of the Prorogation; so that only three days were left for the printing and circulating of the Bill, and passing it through all its stages. That Act was a Consolidating Act, and the most important of the Amendments now proposed was contained in Clause 5 of this Bill. By the 86th section of the Army Discipline Act, following the old Mutiny Act, it was provided that where a soldier of the Regular Forces was discharged or transferred to the Reserve in the United Kingdom, he should be entitled to be sent at the public expense to the place where he was attested. A question had been raised as to the operation of that section, and, in order to remove all doubt on the point, it was proposed by the clause to confine the right of a Regular soldier, on his discharge, to be sent to the place of his attestation, provided that place were in the United Kingdom. Such a right could not fairly be claimed where the place of attestation was, say, India or Canada. If the opposition to the Bill, of which the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had given Notice, were successful, the Army would be disbanded altogether, a result that would hardly commend itself to the House, however much hon. Members from Ireland desired it. The right hon. and learned Member concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Judge Advocate General.)561
§ MR. SEXTON
(who had given Notice that he would move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months) said, he thought it almost unnecessary to explain that his object was not the disbanding of the British Army; and the observation of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Osborne Morgan), that the Irish Members might desire such an event, was altogether uncalled for. He (Mr. Sexton) put down the formal Motion of opposition to the second reading, solely in order that he might protest against the uses to which the Regular Army was now being applied in Ireland. The statement lately made to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War disclosed the fact that more than one quarter of the 132,000 men whom it was proposed to retain for the service of Her Majesty were being employed in Ireland for the purpose of striking terror into the people. It was a remarkable fact, calling for the best attention of the House, that the Army now maintained in Ireland for stimulating the carrying out of evictions, was almost as large as the whole Army they maintained in India for safeguarding that great Empire. The reason why they had to keep so great a force in Ireland was the want of intelligence displayed by the Administration in dealing with that country. Instead of pursuing the intelligible course of placing reliance on the passing of remedial measures, and on a readiness to supplement those remedial measures already passed, as the people required, the Government had deluged Ireland with soldiers, pouring them in by battalions. And. what was the result? The first effect was to stimulate the landlords to execute cruel and unjust evictions; and another effect was to strike terror into the hearts of the tenants, so that, even where they had a just claim to get their rent reduced, when they saw flying columns of troops moving about all over the country, their spirits were damped and their courage was destroyed. The consequence was that, by the use to which the Government was putting the Army in Ireland, hundreds and thousands of tenants were deterred from asserting their rights, and were shut out of the Courts of the country. He trusted they would receive some indication from the Government that they were approaching the time when the 562 Regular Army would be withdrawn from its present scandalous occupation of enforcing contracts which their own Courts admitted were impossible to carry out, because they were unfair and unjust. Again, with regard to these evictions, he had to complain that the military officials and the magistrates who were acting in connection with them had lately taken upon themselves to seize cars and horses against the will of the owners. In many instances he had known those horses to have been overdriven and cruelly used by the soldiers, and to have been returned to their owners almost useless. He should be disposed to ask, when the Bill was in Committee, that provision should be made against the injustice done to the owners of cars and horses, whose property was seized against their will, and who had violated no law. Further, he understood that the police engaged in evictions received a special allowance of 2s. 6d. a-day, and he was informed that soldiers in the Regular Army, employed in similar work, received no such extra allowance. He did not desire to see soldiers treated less liberally than police, and if soldiers must be employed at evictions, he was at a loss to understand why they should not also receive an extra allowance, or why policemen were paid an extra 2s. 6d. a-day for performing work which soldiers were obliged to do for nothing. In Committee he would, therefore, move an Amendment to the effect that, as long as it was thought necessary to employ English soldiers in that sort of fatigue service, they should receive as large an extra allowance as policemen now obtained. It was a very peculiar fact that the whole military service in Ireland rested with Englishmen, for all the Irish regiments, and those regiments having a considerable proportion of Irishmen in their ranks, except one, had been removed from Ireland, and the Government did not propose to call out the Irish Militia this year. With respect to billeting and the diet of soldiers, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War ought to consider whether it might not be possible to increase the scale of payment. The scale of 4d. a-day for the providing of such furniture as was necessary for the lodging of the man, and such articles as candles, salt, pepper, and vinegar, was absurdly inadequate; and he would ask the right hon. Gentle- 563 man whether it would not be possible to pay for domestic services to the soldiery on a more liberal scale? He had further to complain of the immunity given to soldiers from liability to maintain their wives and children. A clause, creating that immunity from a natural obligation, was in 1837 smuggled into the Mutiny Act, where it remained for 40 years to the disgrace of British legislation. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) more than once had called the attention of the House to the license given to the British soldier to evade his natural and social obligations in respect of wife and children; and in the Mutiny Bill of 1873 a change was made, with, the professed object of placing soldiers and marines on the same footing as civilians; but the clause was accompanied by restrictions which made it practically inoperative. For example, a soldier or marine who deserted his wife and children was not liable at present to any such punishment as a civilian received. He contended that if it was necessary to maintain a Standing Army in this country, that Standing Army should be maintained on a basis consistent with the principles of public morality and public right, and with justice to all subjects, and particularly women and children. They should not indicate to members of the humbler classes that if they deserted those whom they deceived, if they evaded their natural obligations, they would find in Her Majesty's Service a refugium peccatorum. Military interests ought not to be conclusive in a matter of this kind. Soldiers should be liable, either civilly or criminally, to make good the wrong they had done. He defied the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, or anybody else, to show any good moral reason why this system should be continued. Of course, he might give a military reason, but justice should be equally done between all subjects of Her Majesty, whether civilians or soldiers; and he must say that if a Standing Army could only be maintained upon principles of injustice to women and others, he thought it would be much more civilized and honest to resort to conscription, which could be administered with a fair regard to morality and the rights of individuals. As the law now stood, the right of a master over an apprentice was more sacred than that of a soldier's 564 wife in relation to her husband. If a soldier had been legally ordered to make contributions to the support of child or family, the order could not be enforced without the sanction of the Secretary of State for War. The provision for the maintenance of women and children in the Act of 1873 was a scandalous one. In 1874 the payments so sanctioned amounted to only£1,500, which was as a drop in the ocean compared with the obligations that were evaded; and he believed that if the moral sense of England was once directed to this subject, he thought the system would presently have to go by the board. There was another scandalous provision with regard to the present system of maintaining the wives and children of soldiers. A wife had to go to the nearest workhouse with her children and become an inmate. If such a woman issued a summons against a soldier, it had to be served on the commanding officer, and a sum of money given to the officer to defray the travelling expenses of the soldier from where he was quartered to the place where the summons was to be heard. This protection made the law a bitter and contemptible mockery, and amounted to a denial of justice to all those women and children. If there was a proper complaint against a soldier, why should he not pay his own expenses, or why should they not be paid for him in some other way? If a soldier was under orders for foreign service, he could snap his fingers at any woman who had a claim upon him. That should not be. Nothing could be easier than to postpone his departure until he had answered his legal liabilities. The only reason he had for putting his Motion in this form was to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to the points he previously mentioned, and to this point in reference to the maintenance of wives and children, which concerned England more than Ireland, because the Irish did not desert their wives. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give the subject his attention. For his own part, in view of the Bill going into Committee, he should place upon the Paper Amendments which, he trusted, would put the law of England on a basis of justice, morality, and common sense as regarded the responsibility of a soldier towards his wife.
§ SIR.WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he did not rise to second the Motion of the hon. Member who had last spoken (Mr. Sexton), but to make two or three remarks upon the Bill. The hon. Member, he felt sure, really put down the Bill to be read a second, time that day six months. [Mr. CHILDERS: The hon. Member has not moved that Resolution.] He was not aware of the fact. Many of the remarks of the hon. Member were quite pertinent to the Bill under discussion, and, hardships having arisen, it was right that the matters should be considered and dealt with. He rose to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War whether there had been any diminution in the practice of desertion and fraudulent re-enlistment in the Army? It was well-known that something not unlike an actual trade in fraudulent enlistment was going on in the Army, and that many men thus enlisting were well known, but were not punished because they were doing their duty well in the regiments into which they had fraudulently re-enlisted as soldiers, and their officers did not like to part with them. As the practice was so extensive and so culpable, he wished to know whether the Secretary of State for War, on thinking over the question of punishment, had thought of any method of dealing with these offenders, for they ought to be punished severely. He held in his hand a Return of Desertions from the Army, which showed that in 1880 there were no less than 3,284 cases of absolute loss to the Army. It was a considerable increase upon 1876, 1877, 1878, and 1879. He should also be glad to learn from, the right hon. Gentleman as to certain punishments introduced into the Army last year. When the question of military punishment was raised last year, new punishments were devised, and the House would now be glad to hear what had been the effect of these punishments, which were a greater degradation than even flogging. Would the right hon. Gentleman state how many men had been subjected to these punishments, and whether any such punishment had been administered in South Africa? He should like to know whether the men had been tied to horses or to cart tails, and also what was exactly the code of punishment for very grave offences in the field and before the enemy? He 566 thought he had a right to ask the right hon. Gentleman what these punishments really were, and on what occasions they could be used? They ought to know how drunkenness and other grave crimes in the face of the enemy had been dealt with by the officers in command? He thought the present a fair opportunity for raising the question, and he felt quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman would give them all the information in his power. It was in that House that information of that kind should be given, for he felt sure that the country would be glad to know what was the exact state of discipline in the Army.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, there was one point upon which he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War to give them some information. After a great deal of attention given to the subject by Members of the House, they had at last obtained an Army Act consolidated in one Code, so that officers and men could easily understand the Regulations under which they served. They had since had Amendments made to the Act, and in the Bill before them there was an additional Amendment proposed to be made; and, looking as he did with some suspicion lest that proceeding should lead to the confusing state in which the Army was placed by having many Acts instead of only one Code, he was anxious to know whether measures could not be taken to prevent a yearly amendment of this important Act? He was afraid if the present course were continued, of Amendments year by year, they would fall into the same confusion they got into in former years, and they might never have a complete Code. He wished the right hon. Gentleman would devise some means by which the Army Act could be amended and annually brought into a consolidated state. The Annual Act should be kept confined to one subject—namely, the number of men; and the changes that might be needed in the General Code should be put forward in a separate Bill, stating the Amendments and the Clauses of the Code as they would read when so amended. In this way the Army would annually be informed as to the Law under which it served. With respect to the observations that had been made on the necessity for an annual Report as to the working of the Army Act, he fully agreed with them. 567 An annual Report could be presented on all branches of the Army, the Judge Advocate General reporting on all points connected with courts martial and the action of the Military Code; and in that way many defects would be brought to light, and Members of Parliament would have the opportunity of giving advice and endeavouring to remedy these defects. If it were not possible to present a Report, the Secretary of State or the Judge Advocate General could explain the state of the Army in a speech to the House. The subject was a very large one, and well deserved the attention of the Secretary of State for War.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would be able to give the House some information with respect to the working of the present Army Hospital system. No subject demanded the more careful consideration of the House than the welfare of their soldiers who were sick. Invalid soldiers were now entirely under the care of the Army Hospital Corps, and he trusted full information would be given with regard to that body. He should like to know the number of the Corps, its distribution, and its relation to the Army Medical Department, the mode of selection of men in the Army Hospital Corps, and of their promotion, what training they received, and their length of service. And the House ought to be informed how the present plan of attaching medical officers to the station, instead of, as formerly, to the regiment, was found to answer. On these points, and on other measures taken for the welfare of sick soldiers, he thought the House was entitled to information.
SIR HENRY FLETCHER
contended that the new Rules of Punishment were not sufficiently explicit, and asked for some information upon the point. For instance, one of the Rules provided that a soldier might be attached to a fixed object for certain limited periods; but it did not state whether his hands were to be tied behind his back, or whether they were to be placed in an upright position in front of him. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman would not inflict any punishment which would amount to torture; but the House ought to have more information as to the exact character of these punishments, and the occasions on which they were applied.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he did not at all complain of the observations of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), and he had to thank the hon. Member for not having moved the rejection of the Bill; because, if the Bill were much longer delayed, it would have involved the disbandment of the Army. Unless the Mutiny Bill were passed within a few days the Army must disappear, and he was sure that it was not the intention of the hon. Member that that should take place. He would answer in order the suggestions that had been made upon the details of the Bill, although he was bound to say that some of them would be better discussed in Committee. The hon. Member for Sligo had, in the first instance, spoken of the impressment of cars in Ireland under the authority of the Statute for the use of the military. The law upon the point, which was perfectly plain, was passed after a good deal of consideration and discussion; and all he could say was that to the best of his knowledge it had not been in any way strained. The Act provided that every magistrate, on the demand of a commanding officer, was bound to issue his warrant requiring a constable to provide, in a fit condition and within a required time, such carriages, animals, and drivers as were required for the purpose of removing military baggage and stores from place to place, and the necessary provisions for obtaining them followed. These provisions were absolutely necessary for an Army under all circumstances, not only in Ireland, but in every country in the removal of troops. So far as he was aware, there had been no well-founded complaint of any injustice having been done under that clause. The hon. Gentleman then asked whether he thought the present state of things satisfactory, under which they had a large increase of troops in Ireland, and whether he hoped the time would soon come when it would be possible not to employ so large a number of soldiers in aiding the civil power in respect of the differences between landlord, and tenant? All he could say was, that no one would rejoice more than he would do when it was possible to diminish the forces in Ireland. It was, of course, most inconvenient, from a military point of view, to employ Her Majesty's troops, as they were now largely employed, in aid of the civil power. It 569 was difficult for them to get that amount of drill which it was imperative they should have, and they were kept at places where there was not the same barrack accommodation as in other parts of the United Kingdom. At the same time, the impressions which had got abroad as to the force in Ireland were altogether exaggerated, one hon. Member at the early part of the Session having stated the number at 50,000, and another at 60,000; whereas the total number was just 30,000, the normal number being 23,000. Still, he would not wish to employ the additional number, and he should be glad when they were able to withdraw them. The Department which had to advise in this matter was, of course, primarily the Irish Executive, and they had conferred with him and explained what they thought would meet the requirements of the case, and it was for him (Mr. Childers) to supply what the responsible authorities thought necessary. That was a course he had followed consistently, and he believed that the force in Ireland was neither more nor less than was requisite. In regard to the hon. Gentleman's observations on billeting, he thought it would be better to discuss that subject in Committee. He had heard no serious complaints as to the rates for billeting soldiers; at the same time he would gladly consider the point, if the hon. Member had any evidence bearing upon it. The rates had been increased of late years, and if he should be satisfied that they were insufficient he should be prepared to have them amended next year. With respect to the respective allowances for special work by soldiers and police in Ireland, he (Mr. Childers) was naturally jealous as to soldiers being properly treated and paid; but, having consulted the Commander of the Forces at Dublin, and other military authorities, he did not think there was any ground for saying that the allowances to the soldiers, in comparison with those to the police, were insufficient. The hon. Gentleman had also asked him a question with regard to the liability of a soldier for the maintenance of his wife and children, and had said that only£1,500 had been paid on that account under the present Army Act. On this point he (Mr. Childers) had no information before him. The hon. Gen- 570 tleman had complained that it rested with the Secretary of State to decide how much deduction should be made from the pay of a soldier for the maintenance of his wife and children. He (Mr. Childers) thought it was not unreasonable that the Secretary of State should have some voice in the deductions made by magistrates from soldiers' pay, because, otherwise, such orders might be made as would make it impossible for a soldier to maintain himself. The question was not a simple one, and the hon. Member must remember that they had not only to consider what should be done as between the father and the Union to which his family were chargeable; they must also consider what was right as between the Crown and the soldier, considering the circumstances of a soldier's engagement and enlistment. He did not think they could treat a soldier in the same way as an ordinary citizen. He was subject to a particular engagement, absence from which might seriously prejudice Her Majesty's Service, and that Service was to be regarded as well as the interests of the other persons concerned. He was not aware of any case in which the Secretary of State had exercised his discretion unfairly. The hon. Gentleman had said that, practically, there was no remedy against a soldier who went on foreign service. It would be impossible to issue a ne exeat regno against a soldier in such cases; and, in point of fact, the claim might be altogether unfounded. All these points, however, should be carefully considered; and if, next year, he thought Amendments were required he should not hesitate to propose them. With reference to the Question of the hon. and gallant Member (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) respecting fraudulent enlistments and their remedy, he only knew of two remedies for that evil—one was branding; and the other was the improvement in the general character of the men who entered the Army, and the treatment of soldiers with consideration during the first few months of their service. In both these respects much had been done; and he believed that, while in 1881 there was less fraudulent enlistment than there was in 1880, this improvement would continue. He had considered the proposal that some method should be devised of marking men, 571 They could not be branded, for Parliament would never sanction—and, indeed, he hoped no Government would propose—such an expedient; and he was satisfied that the plan of distinctively marking men by vaccination would not be practicable or successful if adopted, according to the best medical and professional opinion. He could not, therefore, propose such a course for the adoption of Parliament. The country would have to trust to the exercise of increased vigilance, and to an improved system of enlistment, under which greater care would be taken not to enlist men who had already served. The great majority of recruiting officers ought to know whether a man had served as a soldier or not. He hoped that by the means which he had indicated fraudulent enlistment would be minimized in the future. He had also been asked by the hon. and gallant Member what the Code was with respect to the Rules for summary punishment? The Code was laid on the Table on the 5th August last; but, in point of fact, its provisions had not been applied, because they would only be carried into execution on active service, and, happily, there had been no such service of late. Nobody, therefore, could tell whether the change from flogging was a wise change or not, for no one had yet had an opportunity of judging its effects. The manner in which a soldier undergoing punishment would be attached had been intentionally left to the discretion of commanding officers, and, subject to the instructions framed under the law, those whose duty it would be to put the law into operation must be trusted. The object of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kincardineshire (Sir George Balfour), who had asked a question about the consolidation of Acts of Parliament, and who had complained of its not being done, was being carried out fully. The complaint would have been true the year before last; but it was not true last year, because all the Army Acts were consolidated last year, and, as far as the present Bill was concerned, express power was given to the printer to reprint the former Act with the verbal Amendments now enacted. He was shortly about to bring forward one Bill consolidating the Laws relating to the Militia, and another consolidating 572 the Laws relating to the Reserve Forces. He hoped hon. Members from Ireland would not block these Bills, as they did the Consolidating Bill of last year, for the present measures would be a great public advantage, and it would be much better that their stages should be taken in the middle rather than the end of a Session. With regard to the suggestion that there should be an annual Report on the working of the Army Discipline Act, he doubted whether such a Report would conduce to the public advantage. Very voluminous annual Returns were published at the present time. He would, however, give consideration to the suggestion. A question had been put by the hon. Baronet the Member for Buckingham (Sir Harry Verney)on the subject of Army Hospitals and the staff of men employed in them. When the Estimates were being considered, he would endeavour to satisfy his hon. Friend. In conclusion, he expressed a hope that the Motion he had made that the Bill be read a second time would be now agreed to.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, there was one remarkable ground for passing this Bill alleged in the Preamble, which he thought required abolition. It occurred in that paragraph which commenced—Whereas, no man can be forejudged of in life or limb, or subjected in time of peace to any kind of punishment within this Realm, by martial law or any other manner than by the judgment of his Peers, therefore it is necessary to pass this Bill for the maintenance of the standing Army.It was quite clear that in a part of this Realm—namely, that part of Her Majesty's Dominions called Ireland, the statement in this Preamble to the effect that no man could be subjected to any kind of punishment in any manner than by the judgment of his peers, did not apply; and consequently, if the Preamble of this Bill which they were asked to pass was to be brought up to the most recent developments of the Constitution under the administration of the Liberal Party, it would be necessary to strike out of the Preamble the words declaring that no man within the Realm of Great Britain and Ireland could be subjected to punishment in any other manner than by the judgment of his peers. The English Army was the most expensive and 573 least effective in the world; and if some of the money spent upon ornaments or sinecures were made available for the legitimate, just, and more natural wants of soldiers, much would be done to raise the morale of our Army and its popularity. He thought some of the grievances of which the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had complained might be redressed without delay. He referred principally to the question of the cruel, monstrous, and immoral immunity from punishment which a man who had deserted his wife and family enjoyed if he enlisted in the Army, and to the question of the expense which was thrown on a deserted wife or the mother of an illegitimate child who sought redress from a soldier who was not quartered in the town where the trial would be heard. A couple of years ago, when he referred to these matters under the late Administration, he was told that no small amount of the infanticide which took place in garrison towns was due to the utterly miserable condition of the women seduced by soldiers, and who had no earthly means of obtaining any help or assistance from them. With regard to the forcible seizure of cars by the military, he was not satisfied with the answer of the right hon. Gentleman on the point. A mere passing expression of goodwill and sympathy, he contended, was insufficient to compensate for the wholesale seizure of cars in Ireland for military purposes. In its connection with evictions, this system involved the greatest amount of loss and suffering in Ireland. Of course, he was ready to admit that when the Government were determined to have the cars, the cars must be had. But he suggested that they should be so used and so paid for as not to cause any loss to their owners. Cars might be paid for at the rate of £1 a-day, with 5s. a-day for the driver, while not more than four soldiers should be allowed on each. Four heavily-accoutred soldiers, with the driver, were a sufficient load for any horse. On the ground of the prevention of cruelty to animals alone, no car-owner should be compelled to grant his vehicle for a journey of more than four miles each way, and there should be an engagement that the horse should not be driven at a higher rate of speed than six miles an hour. He had known of cases in 574 which they had been driven for as many as 35 miles.
§ MR. SPEAKER
reminded the hon. Member that he was alluding to matters which would be more properly discussed in Committee.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, his reason for referring to matters of that kind was to save time, as he did not wish to move absolute Amendments in Committee, but rather to make suggestions for the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. As regarded the question of billeting, he believed that the present system entailed wholesale plunder on a portion of the public. The scale of charges was totally inadequate. He hoped that the Secretary of State for War, in consideration of the large number of Catholic recruits that entered the Army, would take some efficient steps to provide that when these Catholic soldiers in the regular stations of the Service, went out to the foreign Dependencies of the Crown, they should enjoy the same advantages for the exercise of their religion which were secured to their Protestant fellow-subjects in Her Majesty's ranks? In India, especially, Catholic soldiers were placed at a great disadvantage in that respect, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would impress upon the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India the necessity of causing the Indian Government to meet the requirements of the Catholics upon this point. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would take every step which lay in his power to raise the moral tone of the Army generally.
said, he only rose in consequence of the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, he believed, to the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). He understood the Secretary of State to say that there was no power to increase the prices for billeting. Of course, it was not open to anyone to propose any increase of cost without the usual forms being observed; but he wished to observe that the object of placing the prices in the Schedule and of removing them from the body of the Act where they formerly stood was that Parliament should be able to revise them from time to time, according to circumstances. He wished to remind the House that formerly the Billeting Law in Ireland was 575 much more severe than it was at the present time. Previous to the Act of 1879, which assimilated the English and Irish Law of Billeting, billets were made on private houses, while innkeepers were allowed no remuneration for occupancy. He had no doubt the Schedule would be from time to time revised, and trusted the Government would take steps to do so, if it should appear necessary.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that with regard to the hiring of cars, the rates were fixed by Statute; but he would inquire into the matter, so that if any hardship did occur it might, if possible, be remedied. He believed that far more than the statutory rates were usually paid. With regard to the revision of the scale for billeting, he would consider it before next year. He never intended to say that it was not within the competence of the House to alter the Schedule, provided a Committee for that purpose was set up by a Minister of the Crown. He would also take care that the complaint made by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) should be inquired into. The question of chaplains in India was quite out of his jurisdiction, and was under the control of the Governor General in Council and the Secretary of State in Council. As to the Contagious Diseases Acts, the inquiry by a Committee of the House of Commons, instituted by the late Government, was still proceeding, and until it was completed he could not do anything in regard to the matter.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he felt bound to protest against the injustice done to Irish car-owners by the military demands upon them. The simplest way to provide for the children of soldiers who had deserted their wives would be to require affidavit evidence on the subject from the wives, and to deduct a competent part of the soldiers' pay for the maintenance of the deserted wives and children.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow, at Two of the clock.