§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
My Lords, although in the course of the discussions which have taken place upon the Bill now before the other House of Parliament (the Foreign Enlistment Bill), this Bill, the second reading of which I now 686 propose, has been not only repeatedly referred to, but discussed at some length, your Lordships will, nevertheless, perhaps expect a few observations from me in explanation of its object. During this short sitting of Parliament, both sides of the House have frequently concurred in the necessity of establishing a reserve for the support of the army under Lord Raglan at some point or points nearer than the shores of this country, so distant from the seat of war—in which respect this war differs from any former war which we have ever carried on against any European Power. I apprehend your Lordships will admit that it is not only desirable that we should have a reserve of men, such as we are about to establish at Malta by an addition of four companies to each of the regiments now serving in the Crimea, but that it is also important, if possible, that a further reserve should be created in the shape of entire battalions not now employed in the service. Your Lordships are aware that, although the army of this country consists of 100 regiments, yet a great proportion are employed in the Colonies and in India; and although the numbers employed in the colonial service are now greatly reduced, the numbers serving in India, embracing a considerable proportion of the entire army, remain at their former amount. Under these circumstances, nearly the whole of the regiments available having been sent out of the country, the Government regard it as very important, with a view of conducting our operations in the spring, that we should be enabled to scud forward to the seat of war those regiments which now constitute the important garrisons of Gibraltar, Malta, and the Ionian Islands. It is for this purpose that the present Bill is introduced; for, although it is worded generally so as to enable the Government to employ these troops in other parts than the Mediterranean stations, yet, as has been stated before in this House, the immediate object of the Bill is as I have represented. The accommodation in barracks and other buildings at Malta, will, I apprehend, be occupied by the reserve to which I have previously adverted—the depôts of regiments serving in the Crimea—and therefore, so far as Malta is concerned, it is not probable that, beyond, perhaps, a single regiment, the services of the militia will at present be required in that garrison. Gibraltar and the Ionian Islands are in a different position; but, in these places,—without the aid 687 of this Bill, it would be impossible, with a due regard to the public safety, to reduce these important garrisons below their usual standard, by sending away the regiments now stationed there. [The Earl of ELLENBOROUGH inquired the strength of these garrisons?] The regular garrison of Malta has been set down at five regiments. The same number of regiments has also been deemed a proper garrison for Gibraltar, and the same for the Ionian Islands. At the present time the garrison of Malta does not amount to so much, because we have somewhat anticipated the sanction of Parliament to this measure, and we have despatched troops thence to the Crimea without waiting for authority to employ the militia in their places. My Lords, the Bill appears to have been somewhat misunderstood when it was discussed, not quite regularly, on the question of the Foreign Enlistment Bill; but your Lordships' minds must now be quite disabused of the idea that there is any compulsion in the principle or details of the Bill. Before I proceed to that part of the question, I ought to answer another objection which seems to have been entertained by some—that, even if the Bill were passed, there would be some difficulty in getting militia regiments to undertake foreign service. So far from that being the case, I can assure your Lordships that the greatest readiness exists on the part of the militia generally to come forward in any way that their services may be required for the public safety. I believe I may say that the voluntary offers of embodiment—without which, under the Act of this year, militia regiments could not be embodied—have been so general, that I think I can say they have been made by all the regiments, almost without exception—in fact I know of no exception; and I may add that the voluntary offers for foreign service were more numerous than the necessities of the time required. When I say foreign service, I do not mean merely service in the Colonies, to which this Bill is intended to be limited, but offers were made for service in the field of war. We have not thought it desirable to ask the sanction of Parliament to any measure to enable us to accept these offers for foreign service. [The Earl of ELLENBOROUGH was understood to say, that the Bill did give such powers.] If my noble Friend will be so kind as to state by and by his objections to the Bill, I shall be happy to reply to them. I can only say, the Bill 688 was not drawn with any intention to send militia to the actual seat of war, and I do not believe it will bear such a construction. I doubt whether, if the Government were to attempt to employ this measure for such a purpose, the noble Earl would not be the first to rise and complain that we were greatly straining the Act, if we were not guilty of a violation of it. I was proceeding to observe, that when we declined these offers for foreign service, and stated that we did not propose to ask the sanction of Parliament to enable us to accept them, we have always been met by a counterproposal to undertake service in any of the Colonies, in order to facilitate the removal of the regular troops now engaged there. I may, perhaps, anticipate an objection of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough), and would draw his attention to the fact that there is a distinction between the wording of this Bill and the 54 Geo. III. c. 1, which had for its object the transfer of the militia from home to foreign service. He will see that the objects are quite different, and that the powers conferred by that measure were far more extensive than any we now ask you to sanction. I said just now that the principle of the Bill was purely voluntary. Not only is it voluntary as regards the officers—not only does it require a colonel to propose the services of the body he commands—but it absolutely requires the consent of each individual man in the regiment to be obtained before we can avail ourselves of his services. But the principle goes still further. It is not proposed that the regiment should volunteer for service in the Colonies generally, but for a specific particular place. Thus, for instance, if a militiaman volunteered for service at Malta, we should not have power under this Bill to send him to the Ionian Islands, unless, on our refusal to send him to Malta, he should volunteer for the other garrison. The noble Earl raised an objection on the second reading of the Foreign Enlistment Bill, to which I admit that this Bill as originally drawn was open, although I do not believe the operation of the Bill would have been as he supposed. The noble Earl said, we should have power by this Bill to send the whole of the militia abroad, without leaving anybody in reserve at home to serve as depôts for the army on active service. As the Bill was drawn undoubtedly it might have been open to that construction, although it would have been necessary, in any case, that depôts should be maintained. But as 689 the Bill now stands, never more than three-fourths of any regiment can be accepted for foreign service, the other fourth being required to remain here as a depôt. Another alteration, and, I think, a manifest improvement, has been made in the other House. Considering the probable duration of the war, it was, perhaps, not wise to ask the militia to volunteer for foreign service "during the war," and the Bill now limits to five years the period for which the services of the militia were required on volunteering—the period for which they originally enlisted. Observations have been made as to the non-necessity of this Bill or the Foreign Enlistment Bill at the beginning of the war. I am unwilling to reiterate the arguments your Lordships have already heard upon that point; but I cannot forbear repeating that it is at the beginning, and not at the close, of a war that these additional powers and exertions are required and should be exercised. More than one noble Lord has made a statement of the force which this country had in arms in 1813 and other years. They have pointed out that we had then an enormous army serving abroad, an efficient militia, and a local militia. If you compare our present means with the condition of our forces at the commencement of former wars, and compare the forces which we have now sent to the East with any army we were enabled to send out on any former occasion, I think the comparison will be found greatly in favour of the present time. It is not fair to compare 1813 with the present time. You should go back to the commencement of the war in 1793. if you want a fair and just comparison, to see what the country can do, has done, and is doing, you ought to go back to 1793 to make such a comparison. The provisions of the Bill arc so few and simple that I believe I have now described them. I have stated the object to be to enable the Government to have at their command additional reserves, in addition to that of the new battalion to be added to each regiment.
My Lords, a noble Friend (Earl Grey) the other evening expressed an opinion that I should, on moving the second reading of this Bill, give some information to show how far the powers given last year for recruiting and reinforcing the army have been effectual. I will therefore state what has been done to accelerate recruiting both the militia and the regular army. Under the provisions of the Militia Act, on the original enrolment of the militia, an enrolment 690 fee of 10s. was paid to each recruit, and a further sum of 8s. 6d. for expenses. If a militiaman had enlisted for five years, and wished to be discharged, whether for the purpose of joining the regular army or any other reason, he was only permitted to leave the militia on repayment of the 18s. 6d., and providing a sufficient substitute to fill his place in the regiment he sought to quit. The first step taken by the Government to encourage recruiting from the militia into the army was taken on the 3rd of March, by the repayment of the enrolment fee being remitted to the men seeking their discharges for the purpose of joining the regular forces. This first step was taken about three weeks before the declaration of war, and, on the 5th of April, shortly after the declaration of war, another relaxation of the restrictions upon recruiting from the militia took place. The payment was not only remitted to the man who sought to be discharged for the purpose of enlisting into the army before the time of the annual training of the regiment to which he belonged, but at the same time a further sum of 10s. was given to him to compensate any pecuniary loss to which he might be exposed by such a step. On the 27th of May, a further relaxation took place in the removal of all restrictions on the transfer of men from the militia to the army. In May, June, and July, eighteen regiments of militia were embodied, as your Lordships, no doubt, are aware. The removal of the impediments of recruiting from the militia for the army had been followed by a great increase in the number of recruits; but during the earlier part of the autumn recruiting from the militia dwindled to a very small amount, and in November a circular was issued to all the eighteen regiments which were embodied, calling upon them to contribute towards the regular army 25 per cent of the numbers comprised in their respective regiments, and, in order to encourage this enlistment into the line, an additional bounty of 1l. was granted to each recruit, and an ensigncy in the army was offered to every officer of militia who should bring seventy-five men to join. Since the 25th of November forty-five additional regiments have been embodied—thirty-six in England, and nine in Ireland. These last nine Irish regiments having been embodied before being enrolled, it is for the present impossible to look to them as an immediate source of recruiting; but, from the thirty-six additional regiments 691 ordered to be embodied, and which I hope will be embodied in the course of the next fortnight, we expect to derive the same advantage of 25 per cent which we have already obtained from the other eighteen regiments previously embodied. Some observations have been made upon the number of recruits offering from the militia; but the number was not so great as was supposed until the plan was adopted of calling on the militia to furnish 25 per cent of their numbers to the line. I do not think the number who entered direct from the militia before that time exceeded 5,000, and those who were recruited by other means from the same source would swell that number, perhaps, by 2,000. I should add that, with the view of restoring the militia regiments, thus weakened by the withdrawal of 25 per cent of the men, to their proper numbers, encouragements have been held out in the shape of increased bounties, or rather in a redistribution of the bounty, by which the recruit receives the larger portion at the commencement, instead of the latter period, of the five years for which he enlists. Noble Lords will perceive from my statement that a very large proportion of the militia in England is ordered to be embodied. I can only add that the same system will be pursued with regard to the remaining regiments in a fit state, and that the whole of the militia which may be ripe for embodiment will be called out without material delay. With regard to recruiting for the army from other sources than the militia, the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) the other night said, the only thing necessary to be done was to lower the standard and raise the bounty. If that be all that he required, I can assure the noble Earl that before he made that observation both these measures had been adopted by the Government in concurrence with my noble Friend the Commander in Chief. [The Earl of ELLENBOROUGH: I said a further reduction.] The reduction, which was made long before the noble Earl offered any suggestion on the subject, was from 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 4½ inches. I had not apprehended any contradiction, or I would have been prepared with the date of the reduction; but to the best of my recollection it has been in operation for something like four or five weeks. I dare say, however, that my noble Friend the General Commanding in Chief recollects the date of that reduction. I know not what the date of the subsequent re- 692 duction may have been, but this I do know, that at the time when the reduction of 1½ in. was made, the General Commanding in Chief did not think that it was desirable at once to reduce the standard to that which existed during the whole Peninsular war, namely, 5 feet 4 inches, because he was anxious, in the first instance, to see what would be the effect of the reduction of 1½ inch, and his determination to reduce the standard another half-inch, with the entire approval of the Government, had no reference whatever to the debate which took place in this House. That reduction was, indeed, determined upon before anything was said on the subject in this House. It may be that, technically, the order may bear date the 19th of December; but many noble Lords conversant with such matters are aware that these orders frequently bear a date some days subsequent to that on which the measures to which they relate are determined upon. The standard was reduced a week or ten days ago to that at which it now stands—namely, 5 feet 4 inches—that having been the standard which existed during the whole of the Peninsular war; and I have the authority of the Commander in Chief for saying that, unless it should be absolutely requisite, he would strongly deprecate, upon sound military grounds, any further reduction. I must say, therefore, with regard to these measures, that they have been adopted without any pressure from the Opposition. With respect to the bounty, it was increased at the time that the first reduction of the standard took place, in different proportions to the three branches of the service—the cavalry, the infantry, and the artillery. At the same time that these two measures were adopted, a third, which was not suggested by the noble Earl, was also adopted—namely, that of extending the age up to which recruits would be accepted, from twenty-five to thirty years. This alteration took place at least four or five weeks ago; and at the same time another extension was made—namely, that soldiers who have obtained their discharge by purchase, may re-enter the service up to the age of thirty-five, the age of thirty having heretofore been the limit. [Earl GREY asked, what effect had been produced by these alterations?] It is, of course, not very easy to indicate the exact effect produced by each of these different causes. We have every reason to believe that the most material cause of the increased enlistment has been the em- 693 bodiment of the militia, and the calling upon each militia regiment to furnish recruits to the line equal to 25 per cent of its numbers. Mark, I do not think it is owing to the embodiment of the militia alone, because practically that was found nearly inoperative; for, although some regiments were embodied in May, June, and July, yet from that time up to the period when the circular was issued calling for recruits in the proportion of 25 per cent from each militia regiment, the recruiting from the militia, so far from increasing, had been gradually dwindling away. The call of 25 per cent from each militia regiment most undoubtedly produced a great increase in the enlistments for the regular army. Of course the reduction of the standard applies to recruiting from the militia equally with recruiting from the general population. I cannot state what effect the increased bounty has had up to the present time; but at its first adoption, which took place a week before the issue of the circular to which I have referred, it undoubtedly had some considerable effect. The source whence we have derived the most material increase to the regular army has certainly been the militia regiments, from which 25 per cent of their numbers have been obtained. [Earl GREY asked whether the army had been brought up to the full establishment?] No, the army is not yet brought up to the full establishment fixed by the Votes of last year. My noble Friend will, of course, recollect that two separate grants for the increase of the army were made by the House of Commons in the course of the present year, the increase amounting altogether to 40,000 men. Now, though, upon the whole, the enlistments in the course of 1854 have been more considerable, I believe, than in any one year upon record, my noble Friend will at once see that an addition of far more than 40,000 men would be necessary to increase the strength of the army to that extent, after replacing even the ordinary casualties of such a force. The ordinary casualties of such an army are reckoned at 1,000 a month, or 12,000 a year, but it must be remembered that numerous additional casualties have taken place consequent upon the actions in which the troops have been engaged—so that the number of recruits necessary to bring the army up to its complete establishment would be something like 60,000 men. I am sorry to say that we have not yet arrived at that 694 point. What effect may be produced by recruiting from the militia it is impossible to conjecture. I can only say that the recruiting from that source, at the present moment, would not in itself be adequate. When all the militia regiments are assembled, 25 per cent from every regiment in the kingdom would not be sufficient for the purposes of the army, and I sincerely hope that not merely noble Lords, but the public at large, so far from throwing any impediment in the way of recruiting generally from the population, will give it all the encouragement in their power. I have no hesitation in saying, that no measures which Her Majesty's Government may propose—whether Foreign Enlistment Bills, such Bills as that now before your Lordships, or any others—can form anything like a substitute for enlistments from the population of this country; and whatever efforts may be made, in connection with the militia or otherwise, we must look to a large recruiting from the general population of the country, without which our army cannot be maintained in such a state as will enable us to cope with the gigantic forces with which we have to contend. One mode of increasing the means at the disposal of the Government for the prosecution of the war will be the adoption of the present measure, which I believe to be as right in principle as I am certain it will be effectual in practice, at least to the extent to which it goes; and I trust your Lordships will give it your assent, if not unanimously, at any rate without a division.
Moved, That the Bill be read 2a.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I think it right to say that I do not concur as fully in the policy and expediency of this measure as I do in the avowed object with which it is brought forward, that object being numerically and otherwise to increase, as far as possible, and as rapidly as possible, the strength and efficiency of our regular forces. I confess it was with deep concern that I heard the announcement of the noble Duke, that, notwithstanding all the efforts which have been made in the course of the present year, it has not been found possible to meet the wishes and views and to second the endeavours of Parliament, by raising the regular forces up to the number which Parliament sanctioned during the last Session—that is to say, that the addition of 40,000 men, sanctioned by Parliament, plus the casualties and deficiencies in our regular forces, 695 has been obtained. The noble Duke has not told us how far the number of men obtained falls short of the number required, nor do I think it necessary to call upon him for any information on that point. I have said, my Lords, that I do not concur as fully in the policy and expediency of the mode of action proposed by Her Majesty's Government as I do with the objects they have in view; and my objections to this Bill are founded upon the conviction, which I entertain in common with many noble Lords, and I believe with a large portion of the people, that the measure, so far from promoting, will rather tend to impede those objects, and that it will be accompanied with other inconveniences, not the least of which will be a total and entire change in the character of the militia service of this country. The militia force of this country I apprehend to be strictly for the maintenance of domestic tranquillity and the preservation of the country from the danger of foreign invasion, and, as supplementary to those objects, to enable us, when circumstances require its services elsewhere, to dispense within the United Kingdom of the services of nearly the whole of our small standing army. I say our small standing army, because at all times the Parliament and the people of this country have looked with suspicion upon a large standing army. My opinion is that that jealousy has of late years been pushed to an unreasonable extent, and that it will be found that the Parliamentary economy which has enforced reductions of our standing army in time of peace has proved a false economy, and has led us into the difficulties in which we are now involved with respect to raising sufficient forces for the war. The standing army of this country, from whatever cause, has been practically reduced to such an amount as may have been sufficient for more attendance upon the Crown, with regard to the Household troops; and, in the case of the regiments of the line, for providing a force barely sufficient to reinforce and relieve from time to time that large portion of our army which is habitually employed in service abroad to a much greater extent than any other army in Europe. The object and use of the militia force, then, are the home service, and the home service alone, and to supply the place of that small portion of the regular army which, being habitually kept at home, it may, upon, extraordinary occasions, be necessary to send abroad in the 696 service of the country. Remember, that your militia force now—which was not the case in the last war—is essentially a voluntary force; and, as the population have shown the greatest readiness to volunteer for service in that militia force, it is upon a strict adherence to those terms and conditions which have been made with the various regiments that you must mainly rely for the existence of your militia, and for maintaining this perpetual nursery and seed-bed, as it were, from which to supply your troops. I will endeavour to consider the operation of this Bill, first of all as bearing upon the manner in which it contributes to the relief and reinforcement of our regular army, and, next, with regard to the effect it will have upon the future enlistment of the militia. With regard to the reinforcement of the regular army, the noble Duke was incorrect—though, no doubt, he correctly expressed the intentions of the Government—in stating the terms and conditions of the measure, that it does not enable Her Majesty to employ any regiment of militia upon foreign service otherwise than within our Mediterranean colonies. The noble Duke has called our attention to the variation between the terms of this Bill and those of the Act of 1814. There is a variation—but that variation, so far from being what the noble Duke represents, is one which gives far more extended powers to the Crown for the employment of the militia than were given to the Crown for the employment of that force by the Act of 1814. By that Act the Crown was restricted to the employment of these forces in Europe. By the present Bill there is no limitation whatever as to the quarter of the world to which the militia may be sent. The consent of the militia regiments is required before they can be sent to Malta, and precisely the same consent—neither more nor less—is required to send them to the Crimea or anywhere else. By the Act of 1814 the King was enabled to employ a definite portion of the militia in any part of Europe he might think fit; but this Bill enables Her Majesty to accept the services of the militia and to employ them in any parts or places out of the United Kingdom. The noble Duke is, therefore, quite incorrect in his statement, whatever the intentions of the Government may have been—and I have not the least doubt he has correctly stated their intentions; but the wording of the Bill gives the Government the power to send the militia, with their 697 own consent, just as much to the Crimea as to Malta, Gibraltar, or the Ionian Islands.
My Lords, it is said that the intention of the Bill is to provide for the sending militia regiments to Malta, Gibraltar, and the Ionian Islands. Now, is this the best and most efficient mode of providing for the reinforcement of the army in the Crimea, under present circumstances? I think the noble Duke will hardly deny—I am sure, if he does, there is scarcely an individual in the kingdom who will concur with him—that the great error which has been made by the Government in the course of their preparations for this war, and in carrying it on, is that of not having provided an efficient reserve. They have sent 30,000 40,000, or 50,000 men to the Crimea, and they have no reserve at hand to support them. The noble Duke has stated that, at this moment, the garrison of Malta is reduced very much below its ordinary strength. I believe that garrison was so reduced; and if I am not mistaken, the garrison of the Ionian Islands also, by the acts of the officers commanding in those islands, upon their own responsibility; and, if they did so act upon their own responsibility, I conceive that they did themselves very great credit, looking to the circumstances in which our army in the East was placed. It is admitted by Her Majesty's Government that a great fault has been committed in not having in the Mediterranean a reserve immediately available for reinforcing the army in the Crimea; and with reference to that omission, I ventured, on the first night of the Session, to express my strong approval of the proposition—which I apprehend came rather from the old superseded department of the Horse Guards than from the modern lately-introduced department of the Secretary for War—namely, the proposition for forming a second battalion for all regiments, and for increasing the number of companies of all regiments, serving in the Crimea, and also for placing one-half of each of these second battalions as what may be called an advanced reserve in the Mediterranean, leaving the other half of such second battalions in this country, to form the nucleus for obtaining reinforcements for the army. Of that provision I entirely approve, because it appears to me to be the proper course to raise your raw recruits in this country, to send them forward, when they have received some training, to an advanced post near the scene of action, and then, as they become more 698 perfectly trained and disciplined, to transport them to the seat of war. But, if the object of the Government is to have in the Mediterranean garrisons a large reserve force immediately available, why do you send to the Ionian Islands and to Malta, not regiments which can be sent to the seat of war, but regiments which, from the terms of their enlistment, are only available for service in the particular garrisons to which they are sent? Your object appears to be, not only to garrison Malta, Gibraltar, and the Ionian Islands, but to have at each of those points the greatest available reserve for the army in the Crimea; but your proposition will have the effect of displacing a considerable number of regular troops in those garrisons, and of filling them with regiments which, according to the intentions of this Bill, cannot be forwarded as reinforcements to the Crimea. I consider that, for the purpose of reinforcing the army, it would have been infinitely better to have maintained as large a number of regular troops as possible in the garrisons of the Mediterranean, and to have used every exertion in your power, by bounties, by lowering the standard, or by other means, to encourage the militia of this country, not to embark ill bodies as militia regiments for foreign service, but to volunteer into the line, and thus to keep perpetually feeding your army with well-trained men. This Bill, however, so far from encouraging that object, tends to oppose and defeat it, inasmuch as you send out militia regiments to places where their services can be of comparatively little value, and thereby diminish the means of reinforcing and recruiting your army.
I am not going to quarrel with the noble Duke, nor to discuss with him at what time it was determined by the Government to increase the bounty or lower the standard, but I am ready to give entire credit to his assertion as to the period at which those measures were determined upon, and I am not in the least disposed to claim, on the part of those who are opposed to Her Majesty's Government, the slightest credit for having suggested such measures. I at once say that they are measures in the propriety and necessity of which I entirely and cordially concur. They are steps which the Government were bound to take, and which they have very properly taken; but I say that the effect of the present Bill will be, to a great extent, to neutralise all the beneficial results which 699 might have been expected from the adoption of such a course; and that the better plan would be to afford encouragement to the militia regiments to supply recruits to the line. The noble Duke laid considerable stress upon the doctrine that this is a purely voluntary service, and, undoubtedly, to some extent it is so; though, when he claims credit for the large number of recruits who have been derived from the militia, he at the same time lets out what is hardly consistent with the purely voluntary principle—namely, that every regiment of militia was called upon and required by the Government to send 25 per cent of its numbers as recruits to the regular army; that every means were used by the Government to obtain that reinforcement; and that it is only since that requisition on the part of the Government for 25 per cent of the strength of the militia, that any very large number of recruits have been obtained for the army. Now, let me ask this question—and perhaps the noble Duke will not refuse to answer it, though he does not appear disposed to afford much information in that manner—let me ask whether encouragement will be given to the regiments of militia sent to the Mediterranean garrisons to furnish recruits to the line, or whether they will be prohibited from doing so? There appears to me to be this double difficulty and dilemma in the course you are taking. If these militia regiments are sent out without any permission or encouragement to volunteer into the line, then the maintenance of this large force in the Mediterranean will be utterly useless for warlike purposes; but supposing it is intended to encourage them to volunteer into the line, you run the risk of having these militia regiments which may be imperfectly drilled and trained when they are sent out, and which are to hold important garrisons, unduly weakened by this system of recruiting. From one of these two alternatives I do not see how the Government can escape. The noble Duke laid great stress upon the entirely voluntary character of this proceeding, and he says that, so far from there being the slightest difficulty in obtaining militia regiments for foreign service, a larger number of regiments than are required have volunteered for that service. I do not in the slightest degree doubt that fact. I do not doubt that, in the first excitement of active service, men who have already been embodied, and who have acquired a taste for 700 military life, will be perfectly ready to volunteer in a body for foreign service. But I believe that almost an equal proportion of men would be quite as likely to volunteer out of militia regiments into the line, after they have acquired these military tastes, and thus I think we should obtain much more serviceable reinforcements. But what I am looking at is not the immediate pressure, nor the existing willingness of the militia to volunteer—I think it is a question, if you thus alter the character of the militia service, how far you are likely to obtain from the non-military portion of the population recruits for a service which may be converted into a totally different service from that for which they enter. When you first enlisted your militia regiments, certain conditions were laid down under which they were to be embodied—such, for instance, as the invasion of the country. Those conditions were extended to circumstances of war, and, even with regard to their foreign service under such circumstances, you thought it necessary to ask the special assent, not only of every regiment, but of every individual in each regiment. I think in that respect you did rightly, because nothing could be more dangerous than the slightest suspicion of breach of faith with these men, who were enlisted upon certain conditions. You then went further, and asked them to volunteer for five years. You ask them now to volunteer for active service abroad, and no doubt many of these regiments would be quite as ready to volunteer for active service in the Crimea as at Malta and Gibraltar. But that is not the question. At present the militia are chiefly connected with the rural and agricultural districts, and they do not object to the lowering of their earnings for two or three months, or even to being embodied; but they are a class upon whom all the pressure of friends and relations will hereafter be put in force when they find that, instead of the ordinary militia service for which they enlisted, the service is to become something like the regular service in the army. Do not tell me that this volunteering for foreign service is, with respect to individuals, purely voluntary. I have no doubt that, though many men have entered the militia who would be unwilling now to quit the country for active service, there would be, in the present excited state of public feeling, very great reluctance upon the part of any man to plead his own personal circumstances and his own pri- 701 vate inconvenience as reasons for not going abroad when he found his comrades had volunteered for foreign service. He would be reluctant to escape from that which would be put before him for a duty, although it was a duty which he never contemplated when he entered the militia. Well, he would go—the man now in the militia would go;—but they would find country gentlemen, and persons employed in trade, would hereafter hesitate much to enter the militia, if they were to have that moral screw placed upon them in the shape of an invitation to volunteer into the regular service. A noble Friend behind me asks what is to become of the man with a family, who, possessing but small means, has insured his life? Such a man may have entered the militia without conceiving that he was entering upon any very sanguinary business, or that he would be exposed to any great risk. His life, however, will be risked by going to an unhealthy climate; he will be compelled to forfeit the insurance which he has effected as a provision for his family at his death; and all this will be done by requiring him to enter into an engagement which he never contemplated when he joined the militia. I conceive that this is pushing the voluntary principle to the furthest extremity. The noble Duke will perhaps remind me that a very considerable alteration has been made in this Bill by an Amendment moved in the other House of Parliament by a right hon. Friend of mine (Sir J. Pakington), and assented to on the part of Her Majesty's Government, whereby a limitation has been fixed to the proportion of any militia regiment to go abroad; and it may be said, on behalf of the officers of the various regiments to whom it would be inconvenient to go abroad, that they may be left at home with the companies remaining as depôts, in which case they would be still performing all the duties they contemplated when they entered the force. Now, I think the limitation which has been put to the number of each regiment to be sent abroad is very important in this respect, and it is also most important in another respect—in keeping up that which ought never to be broken—namely, the connection between the militia regiments and the country—as well as the various counties in which they are raised. If you were to send the whole of a militia regiment abroad—the Royal Bucks, or the Royal Lancashire, or the Royal Stafford—you 702 would at once break up the connection of the regiment with the county—you would convert those regiments into more regiments of the line, bearing the names of the counties in which they were raised, but being otherwise wholly unconnected with those counties. Depend upon it, my Lords, that with regard to the militia force —its peculiar constitution, its peculiar character, and its peculiar duties — it is of primary importance that you should connect it, not only with the country, but, locally, with the county to which it belongs, and with all denominations of men within that county, from the highest to the lowest rank. If you were to send the whole of a regiment abroad for the period of the war, or for five years—the limit which you have fixed—you would leave it no root in that county—no nucleus or means of recruiting its strength—you break up altogether its connection with its county, and so alter the character of the whole militia force. It has been admitted by the Government that the Amendment to limit the proportion of each regiment sent abroad hit a blot in the original draft of the Bill, but that it never was intended to take the whole of these regiments out of the country. Now, this Bill professes to be founded on the 54 Geo. III., c. 1; now, in that Act there is a clause precisely to the effect of the proviso which, on the Motion of my right hon. Friend in the other House, was inserted in the Bill, and inserted for the reasons I have mentioned—a proviso prohibiting more than three-fourths of any militia regiment being sent out at the same time. I say, then, if this was a blot, it was an intentional one on the part of the Government, and that the omission was studiously made. When the proviso to which I refer was inserted in the other House, another point was noticed which I think a very important one—namely, that in the former Bill there was a proviso not only limiting the proportion of each regiment to be sent out, but the total number of the militia to be sent out from this country as well. In this Bill there was no such provisio; and, in noticing the matter in the other House, the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who has had great experience of military and militia affairs, objected to any limitation in this respect, not upon the principle itself, because he thought no man would ever think of sending out the whole militia force, but because in the Act 54 Geo. III. there was no such proviso. This, how- 703 ever, is not the fact; for in the Act of Geo. III. I find a proviso that no more than 30,000 shall be sent out at any one time. Thus, then, there are two provisions of the Bill of Geo. III, which have been studiously departed from in this Bill, one of which the noble Duke says was a blot, while the other is not admitted to be a blot, but is said to be a limitation for which there is no precedent. It was with great reluctance, my Lords, that I found myself compelled, in a matter of principle in which, I believe, the great bulk of the country concurred with me and with those who have acted with me—it was with great reluctance that I found myself compelled to object to the Foreign Enlistment Bill, and to call upon your Lordships to reject that Bill; but in a matter of less vital importance than the principle which was embodied in that Bill, I think the greatest latitude should be afforded to Government in the means they may adopt for reinforcing the army at this crisis. I do not intend, therefore, to offer any opposition to the Bill now before your Lordships, or to move any Amendment upon it; but I must say, with regard to the point to which I have already adverted, that, considering the objects for which the militia were raised, and the importance of keeping up that force, it was not unreasonable to expect that, whereas in 1814 a limit of 30,000 was put to the whole number to be sent out of the country, in this case some limit should also have been fixed—a limit, perhaps, of something like 15,000 men, considering that the numerical force of the militia at present is so much less than what it was in 1814. My objections to this Bill are founded, first of all, upon the belief that you are not taking the most efficient or advantageous mode of recruiting the strength of the army—that you would reinforce it much better by embodying the whole of the militia, and giving every inducement to the men to enter the line, than by sending militia regiments and portions of militia regiments abroad; and secondly, because, while I admit that the alterations which have been made in the Bill, make a material difference in the measure, still I cannot help thinking that, altered as it is, you are still exposed to a serious risk—not now, in the present year, and under the present excitement, but hereafter—as to how far you will be able in future years to keep up a permanent supply to the militia of the country. I think, moreover, that Her Majesty's Government 704 will experience considerable difficulties when they come to deal with the bounties which are to be given for re-enlistment and for entering into foreign service. Great difficulty will be felt, I believe, in adjusting the bounties awarded to militiamen volunteering for foreign service, and to militiamen volunteering to take part in the war. That, however, is a question which may remain altogether in the hands of the Government.
My Lords, there is one peculiarity with regard to the militia to which I am now particularly desirous of calling attention—namely, the inconvenient position in which this Bill places the medical officers of the various regiments. The proposition of my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) in another place was that not more than three-fourths of the strength of any militia regiment should ever be sent abroad at any one time; and I am told that considerable amusement was excited by an hon. and gallant Member, when on the question being asked how many were to remain at home, the answer given was one-fourth. It would be very well if that were the case; but as the Bill is worded it would appear that not more than three fourths of the "establishment" of a militia regiment are to be permitted to serve out of the United Kingdom at one time. Conceiving the "establishment" of a regiment to be 1,200 men, if three-fourths of that regiment volunteered abroad, that would make 900 men so volunteering; but if a regiment in the whole amounted to 900, seeing that that number would not be sufficient to constitute its "establishment," I see nothing in the Bill to prevent the whole 900 leaving the kingdom; and, therefore, in such a case, one-fourth would not be left at home. If that is their intention, I must say the Government have acceded to the words of the Amendment, but have not adopted its spirit, namely, that there shall be always left in this country at least one-fourth of the strength of every militia regiment. I trust that we may hear from the noble Duke that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government, whether three-fourths of the establishment of a regiment go abroad or not, to keep in this country at least one-fourth as a nucleus for reinforcing and recruiting the regiment. And now with regard to the medical officers. You place your militia in a certain locality, and you form the force out of persons more or less in that locality. You then embody them, and, to a certain extent, you subject them 705 to inconvenience; but they are embodied only for a short time, and they hope soon to return to their regular avocations. The next step you take is to send them out for five years to a foreign country; and, in that case, in what situation do you place the medical officer? He enters the regiment and is content with the poor pay he receives, because he has an independent practice in the locality which he is desirous of retaining, and, if possible, of augmenting; but when you despatch the regiment to Malta or Gibraltar, he will either not go and you will have to send out an inferior man, or, if he does go, it will be to the ruin of his private practice, which it is impossible to suppose he can regain when his period of service has terminated. He is entitled to no half-pay when he comes back again; and you, therefore, claim from that man the sacrifice of his connection, his practice, his profession, and his means of livelihood; you send him abroad for five years, and, at the expiration of that period, you turn him loose upon the country to make his way as he can. Surely you cannot expect that a medical man, a gentleman well informed and well educated, will consent to forego all the advantages of private practice to form part of a militia regiment on this footing, though he would be proud and happy to form a portion of the corps if the objects for which the force was originally raised were adhered to.
My Lords, before I sit down, I hope I shall be permitted, as we are now considering the most effectual mode of carrying on the war and of reinforcing Her Majesty's troops—I hope I shall be permitted to say a few words upon a subject respecting which, on a point of form, I was properly interrupted a short time ago. I wish to call attention to that portion of Her Majesty's forces which has been employed in blockading' hostile ports. In the other House of Parliament we have had the assurance of the First Lord of the Admiralty—or, if not, by other Members of the Government in that House, on several distinct occasions, that the strictest orders had been given to blockade the Russian ports in the White Sea, as well as in the Baltic; and in the Black Sea, as well as in the White Sea. An effectual blockade of the Baltic has taken place from an early period—I think from the beginning of last June. It was undertaken later in beginning case of Archangel, where also it was certain to be effectual; but up to this moment the 706 ports of Taganrog and Odessa are just as much open to Russian commerce as if no blockade had ever been threatened. Russian commerce passes from these ports without let or hindrance, as if no word had been ever said about the blockade, and to the greatest injury of British commerce. A blockade of the ports of the Black Sea must naturally be felt to be a great loss to the commerce of this country; but, having declared that there should be a blockade, you have sent British industry to every part of the globe in order to provide substitutes for the produce which ordinarily came through those ports; and the importations of palm oil and other commodities from the West Indies and the coast of Africa have prodigiously increased in consequence of the announcement made by Her Majesty's Government that it was intended to maintain an effectual blockade of the Russian ports in the Black Sea. And now what has happened? Why, our enterprising merchants, acting on that declaration, are bringing home their goods from India and other parts of the world, and on entering the English market are met by the astounding fact, that notwithstanding the announcement of the blockade of the Russian ports the trade with Russia in the Black Sea is not only as brisk as ever, but that British merchants have this additional hardship placed upon them, that they are excluded, not only from the Black Sea, but from the Baltic and Archangel as well. And who is it that is carrying on the trade of the Black Sea? Why, it is notoriously the Greek houses. The British merchant is suffering all the inconvenience and hardship of a blockade, inasmuch as he abstains from carrying on the trade in the Black Sea, which goes to other quarters, and in particular our very cordial friends and well wishers, the Greek merchants, enjoy the advantages of an unrestricted commerce. Now, my Lords, I think this is a subject upon which we ought to have information. I think we have a right to ask if orders have been issued to blockade the ports of the Black Sea, and if Government have ascertained whether that blockade has been strictly maintained. I presume, however, that it has, or if it has not, then it must be in consequence of orders issued from the Government, because they have lately signified their approval of the conduct of the Admiral in command of the fleet in the Black Sea by giving the Thanks of Parliament to Admiral Dundas and the men under his com- 707 mand, for the manner in which they have discharged their duty in the Black Sea. In proposing that Vote, the Government asserted that Admiral Dundas had obeyed their orders strictly and effectually, and, therefore, one of two things must have occurred—Her Majesty's Government, having made a declaration to Parliament that they had issued orders to enforce a strict blockade of the Russian ports in the Black Sea, have either never issued those orders, or they have issued counter-orders since. It may be said that this is a delicate subject, and that we are acting in conjunction with another Power whom it is our duty to consult. It might certainly be a delicate subject were I to ask Her Majesty's Government if it was their intention to direct a blockade of some port against which no blockade had yet been maintained—but this is no matter of delicacy at all. Parliament have a perfect right to know whether Her Majesty's Government, having said one thing to Parliament, have practitically done another—whether, having announced to British merchants that there would be a blockade, they have since suffered unfriendly merchants to enjoy the whole of the commerce of the Black Sea, by taking advantage of the practical absence of a blockade. In my opinion, the Government ought and are bound to give an explanation on the matter. There is also another point upon which I wish for information. I may be quite wrong in the information I have received, but it is currently reported—and, if erroneously, it should be contradicted by Her Majesty's Government—that not only goods and merchandise have left the port of Odessa and other Russian ports in the Black Sea, but military stores, ammunition, and supplies have also at various times left the stores of Odessa for the Crimea. It is likewise reported that two Russian Princes the other day quitted Odessa by sea, and I ask the Government if they have reason to believe that such was the case? I have no reason to believe either in the truth or untruth of these statements; but I think it important that full information should be given upon the matter. With regard, however, to the existence of a blockade, I can speak with more confidence; and I am surprised that the rigid and rigorous blockade announced by the Government has not been adhered to. Perhaps I ought now to apologise for deviating from the subject more particularly before your Lordships—the Militia 708 Bill—into that which appears to me to be a material portion of the general scheme for carrying on the war. I certainly do not approve that Bill; I do not think it likely to bestow any great advantage upon the army. I think it calculated to create great inconvenience, and to cause great discouragement to the militia; and it is only because I am desirous of not interposing the slightest obstacle to Her Majesty's Government in carrying on the contest in which they are engaged that I abstain from moving any Amendment upon it.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I think the noble Earl has somewhat misunderstood my motives for interrupting him upon a point of order when I rose very shortly to answer a question put by him. The noble Earl seems to think that Her Majesty's Government are either anxious to conceal from the House a fact which they knew, or that my noble Friend (the Duke of Newcastle), being War Minister, was ignorant of matters taking place in the conduct of the war. Now, with regard to the ignorance of my noble Friend, it so happens that the fact of the blockade was the subject of conversation between my noble Friend and the First Lord of the Admiralty this very afternoon, which shows to a certain extent that he had not acted from ignorance, but because he was anxious to keep up a most essential principle, which, so far as I am concerned, I shall always observe—namely, that no one of Her Majesty's Ministers should be required to jump up in his place and give an off-hand answer to any question of importance, which, even with a very good memory, might be very incorrect, and would place him, the next time the question was put, in the awkward position of appearing to be ignorant of the business of his department. The noble Duke never meant to say that the Government refused to give any information upon these points; but it is quite obvious that, in the matter of a blockade, involving in the greatest possible degree the interests of trade, and in which the interests of the French Government are combined with our own, it would be most rash not to take care of the strict and perfect accuracy of every part of the answer given to any question respecting it, and it was the delicacy of the matter which induced my noble Friend not to give any off-hand answer which might possibly be inaccurate. The noble Earl has stated very accurately the fact of the blockade as regards the Baltic. Until lately the block- 709 ade of some of the Baltic ports has not been enforced, and this has taken place almost exclusively on one ground—namely, that in certain ports there, particularly in Archangel, almost all the goods about to be exported were the property of British or of French merchants. It was, therefore, very desirable that some little latitude should be given in such a case; and I hope this explanation will satisfy your Lordships that no blame rests with the Government, with the department more particularly concerned, or with the officers upon whom it would have devolved to carry out the blockade. An explanation equally satisfactory can be given with regard to the blockade of the Russian ports in the Black Sea. Instructions were originally sent out for the strictest blockade of those ports. Those orders were received by both the British and the French Admirals; but difculties both practical and theoretical arose as to their execution. At last plans were agreed to by the Admirals for blockading the Russian ports by watching the entrance to the Bosphorus. When this came to the knowledge of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, it appeared to him that such a course was contrary to the principles of international law. He therefore referred the case home to the British Government; communications were at once opened with the French Government upon the subject; and it was found that Lord Stratford was perfectly right, and that the Admirals could not, with regard to the blockade, take the course they proposed. Upon this, fresh communications were immediately entered into between the two Governments, and entered into, as regards the French Government, with the cordiality which has always marked their bearing towards the Ministers of this country. New arrangements were made, and fresh orders were sent out for the complete blockade of the Russian ports in the Black Sea. All this, however, occupied a considerable time, and entailed great delay; and then came that most enormous enterprise, the carrying over of the allied troops from Varna to the shores of the Crimea. During that time the material means were wholly wanting to the Admirals to enforce the blockade. Since then, however, fresh arrangements have been made, and the strictest orders given to our naval officers not only to enforce the blockade, but to harass the enemy in every possible way. I have no doubt that order is being efficiently carried out, as far as our commanders can possibly 710 do so. [The Earl of DERBY: When were those last orders sent out?] Two months ago. The noble Earl put to the Government another question which, from its nature, I cannot answer with perfect assurance—I mean respecting an enormous quantity of ammunition said to be sent from Odessa, and as to the two Russian Princes having gone from that port by sea to the Crimea. The only answer it is in my power to give to that report is, that I four or five ships from the allied fleets have been constantly cruising in front of Odessa; that reports have been constantly sent to Her Majesty's Government from the commanders of those vessels; and it certainly appears perfectly impossible that such ammunition should have been sent, or that the Russian Princes should have been able to sail from Odessa to the Crimea in the way described by the noble Earl. Further than that, however, I cannot answer as to the truth or falsehood of these reports. With regard to this Bill, the noble Earl has certainly made an ingenious statement of his objections to it. The plan proposed by the noble Earl is, indeed, a most excellent one. I do not imagine there is one noble Lord on this side of the House who does not think that the best plan of proceeding would be, while we are making war in the Crimea, to have in the Mediterranean a large reserve of perfectly well-trained troops, able at once, in case of necessity, to replace those of our forces actually engaged against the enemy, and thus enabling us to keep our militia at home, where their services would be of the most value. But, unfortunately, we have to do, not what would be most desirable, but what is practicable and possible. We are blamed, forsooth, for that, having sent out some 50,000 men to the Crimea, we have not an equal reserve to support them. Now, a reserve would have been most desirable, but I hardly think, supposing in that case we could have gone to Sebastopol at all, that to have sent 25,000 men to the Crimea and to have retained a reserve of 25,000 men behind in the Mediterranean, would have been the best way of securing success there. When, therefore, the noble Earl says there ought to have been a reserve, I think he ought to have reflected where any reserve over and above these 50,000 men was possible. I remember, during the Administration of the noble Earl, that it was said it was absolutely impossible to scrape together in one spot in England 25,000 men, and even then, you 711 would be taking every man from sentry duty and from the manufacturing districts. I mention this to show the difficulties, as regards the number of our forces, which existed during the Administration of the noble Earl, and which were duly appreciated by him then, because a Bill at that time was proposed by the Government of the noble Earl to increase by 5,000 the number of our troops. Now, however, when during the present war you have sent some thousands of miles 54,000 men—absolutely double the number which, so short a time before, it was suggested that our peace establishment could provide—after having done this, it is made a strong point of attack upon the Government that we have not an equal reserve of perfectly trained men at our disposal! With regard to our garrisons in the Mediterranean, it would no doubt be better to have them occupied by well-trained men. But that, unfortunately, is not the alternative presented to us. The additional companies which are to be raised and added to the line regiments will consist of perfectly raw recruits, and it is not desirable to intrust the whole garrisoning of our Mediterranean possessions to perfectly raw troops such as I have described. The noble Earl's plan of recruiting from the militia into the line regiments so sent out is not a bad one; but the fact is that there is not that immense readiness on the part of men to volunteer from the militia into the like which is supposed to exist. It has been declared that in many cases the appeal to the militia regiments was not followed by a voluntary recruitment. How that statement can be supported I really do not know. You wanted recruits for the line, so you sent to the militia to offer each man a bounty if he would enlist, and give an ensigncy to officers to induce them to use their influence. Now, I confess I cannot understand how the noble Earl can represent that as drawing a contingent of one-fourth from each regiment of militia. The fact is, that in some of those very regiments which have been most anxious to volunteer for foreign service as proposed, you have not been able to get this proportion of one-fourth when they were required to volunteer individually. I really must request your Lordships to look at this measure candidly, and I cannot help thinking that, when such measures are brought forward at a great crisis like the present, the ordinary Parliamentary system of examining into every little detail with great 712 minuteness is hardly applicable, when you want really to strengthen the hands of your Government at home. This remark, I think, applies particularly to what has been advanced by the noble Earl about the medical men who are to accompany these militia regiments, The practical answer to his complaint on this subject clearly is this—the old-established, well-to-do medical men will not go out with the regiments, while you will get very able, energetic young men, who are delighted at the opportunity of going out, and under whose care I have no doubt the health of the troops will be looked to as well as by any possible arrangement which could be entered into. I will not occupy your Lordships' time longer, but, having answered, as far as it was possible to do so, the questions of the noble Earl, I trust that the second reading of this Bill will not be further delayed.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I cannot agree with the noble Earl who has just sat down that this Bill presents only petty details, which are not worthy the attention of Parliament, nor of discussion by noble Lords who arc sincerely desirous of aiding the Government in carrying on the war. I do not think we need a very microscopic eye to discover flaws enough to give us great objections to this Bill. For my own part I object to this Bill, because I believe it to be wrong in principle, and a departure from the whole design of that Militia Bill which three years ago Parliament was induced to sanction. The object of that Bill was to create a defensive force for the safety of the country—a defensive force to consist of persons who, not adopting a military service for their profession, and not intending to give up the ordinary pursuits of civil life, were yet willing to devote a certain portion of their time to an annual training, in order to acquire a fitness to defend the country in case of actual danger or emergency. The Militia Act of 1852 differed considerably from our former Militia Bills. It contained the special provision—that even in time of war the militia was not to be embodied except in case of actual invasion, or imminent danger of invasion, or in case of rebellion or insurrection. It was not intended that even during war the militia should be constantly and permanently embodied like the militia raised during the last war. This is obvious from the terms of the Act of Parliament itself. Acting, then, on the faith of the principle so laid down, men went into the militia, both as 713 officers and privates, who would not have entered into it if it had been thought that they would hereafter have been drawn wholly from their usual civil pursuits. Country gentlemen, professional men who could not without the greatest inconvenience, or even without actual ruin, give up their whole time to the militia service, yet, believing they were called up upon by their duty to their country, came willingly forward and entered into a force which they believed would only call for a sacrifice of a portion of their time which they could spare. At the same time many of the privates were married men, men with large families, men with various occupations which they could leave for a time without much inconvenience, but which they never thought of leaving permanently. Having laid down these conditions, I say, a very considerable number both of privates and officers joined the various regiments of militia. I for one confessed that I did not approve the measure which was then brought before Parliament, because I believed that with less cost to the country a reserve force of a much more efficient character might have been formed; at all events, however, the measure introduced by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) did proceed upon a plan and upon a principle perfectly consistent with itself. That principle was to form, as I said, a force of that particular class of persons who could not be expected to enter into the army, and who, upon entering into the militia, would not interfere with the army. One of the great objects in view was, that this militia force should as little as possible interfere with the regular army, and, by having both privates and officers of the character I have mentioned, you did not, in fact, withdraw from your regular service persons who would probably have entered into it. Now, is it consistent with this principle that your militia regiments should be allowed to go abroad? Under the present Bill a militia regiment, if sent abroad, will probably not remain there for a period of less than two or three years. That being the case, your Lordships must perceive that the service which will be required of these militia regiments is a service altogether similar to that of the regular army during peace, and both officers and privates are as completely withdrawn from their avocations as if they had entered into the regular army; after such an interval they cannot resume their places in the ordinary society of the country; they will certainly find them occupied by other 714 persons; their previous employment will be closed against them; and they will be debarred to a great extent from resuming their former career. Is it fair or just to ask the militia to enter into a bargain so obviously disadvantageous to themselves? Your Lordships will remember that, with regard to the line, when men enter into that service they do so as a profession, of which the mere pay is a part, and not the largest part, of the inducements. The officers look forward to rising to the honours and emoluments of their profession. The privates know they shall have increased pay for good conduct after a certain period of service, and ultimately a pension at the age of 39—supposing them to have enlisted at the ordinary period of life—when they are able, if they choose, to retire with a very comfortable provision for the future. But none of these advantages are in store for the militiamen. Officers in that force can rise to no higher rank than this grade of lieutenant colonel; no half-pay is provided for them; and, at the same time, as far as I am aware, no pension whatever is provided for the privates—nay, the Bill, as introduced into the House of Commons, contained a clause by which, if wounded in action, a militiaman would have a right to a pension; but in the progress of that Bill through the other House that clause was struck out. This shows clearly the course contemplated with regard to this force. Now, I repeat, is it right to ask men to enter into an arrangement so disadvantageous to themselves? If you do, it is quite clear to me that much discontent will hereafter arise. The noble Earl opposite Said, very truly, that this volunteering for foreign service would not be really voluntary in all cases; that there would be a moral compulsion upon individuals, both officers and men, which would compel them to go abroad with their regiments. Look at what you have already done. I have pointed out that the Act of 1S52 contained a clause which distinctly provided that regiments should only he embodied in case of actual or of apprehended invasion. The men enrolled themselves on the faith of this provision; they accepted a bounty calculated upon the supposition that the demand for their services would be limited to one month in the year daring the five years of their service. Well, last year, without their consent, you passed an Act arbitrarily altering the terms of the contract into which these people had mitered, and giving the Government power to call upon 715 them to serve for the whole year instead of for a part of it. Now, the injustice of that arrangement, I recollect, was to a great extent obviated by a declaration of the noble Duke the Secretary for the War Department, who told us that no militiaman who objected to be permanently embodied would be required to serve for the year; that, notwithstanding the regiment generally might express a readiness to serve, still, if any individual felt it to be a hardship upon him, he would receive leave of absence if he thought fit to ask for it, or would be allowed his discharge. That declaration met the requirements of the case, and I trust it will be adhered to now, because I know that in the North of England, wages being very high, and men, having in many instances, made a great sacrifice in accepting 1s. 1d. per day for militia service when they are earning elsewhere 2s. 6d, or even 5s., great discontent and great dissatisfaction will otherwise be created. But, leaving this point, I say that I object entirely to the policy of employing the militia in discharging the duty of regular toops, because, in the first place, you will necessarily alter the whole character of the employment. Your country gentlemen have important duties to perform at home, which cannot be left undone without great disadvantage to the country. In the same manner with regard to professional men, of whom I know there are many in regiments of militia, it would be absolute ruin to them to go even for one or two years from home. To a certain extent, this result is produced even by the permanent embodiment of the militia contrary to the original intention of the Act. I have already received two resignations from officers of the Northumberland militia expressing great regret that their avocations will not allow them to retain their commissions under these circumstances. To that embodiment there might not, however, be much complaint, because all classes were prepared to undergo a good deal of inconvenience to enable the Government to overcome the first difficulties of the war; but I repeat. that if you carry out the proposals contained in this Bill you will destroy the last vestiges of the old character of the militia—henceforth it will cease to be a corps of men not following the military life as a profession. You will drive all such men out of the force. This will be a great injury and disadvantage, because, amid many defects which I think were contained in the measure of the 716 noble Earl opposite, it had the great advantage that it did bring together all classes of the inhabitants of our counties in a manner attended with great social advantages, as well as the benefit expected to result as regards the defence of the country. What will happen if this measure be adopted? No man will enter the militia unless he wishes to devote himself entirely to a military life; all the best men of that kind will, of course, go into the regular army; and thus, while spoiling your militia, while discouraging men from entering into it for the future, and the entrance of gentlemen into it, you will be simply making an addition to your regular army—a force precisely as costly as your regular army, at the same time that it is not disposable for every kind of service like the regular army, and is officered in an inferior manner. Men now in the militia will, many of them, volunteer for foreign service, trusting at a future time to extort some compensation from Government; and no doubt, if the war goes on, and these regiments serve for three or five years, it will be quite impossible for you to turn them adrift without some compensation to both officers and privates, and you will find in that way that this measure will be very onerous to the country. This measure will, moreover, discourage enlistment in the militia by giving effect to the representation of intending recruits, and of such placards as were issued by the Peace Society in 1852, assuring them that, in spite of what was promised by the Government, the men would be drawn into the regular army; and you now seem to be fulfilling to a great extent that prediction. I want to know what necessity there is for having recourse to such a measure, and I did expect to hear some explanation from Her Majesty's Government on that subject; but, after having given my best attention to what has fallen from the noble Duke, I am still at this moment completely in the dark. The noble Duke stated that the object of this Bill is to establish a large reserve force in the Mediterranean garrisons; but does the noble Duke think that that is the most convenient reserve force which cannot be sent forward? The noble Duke has said that four companies of each regiment are to be employed in the Mediterranean station as a sort of advanced reserve to complete the regiments hereafter. That, no doubt, is a most admirable plan; but, in my opinion, a reserve force could be established in the Mediterranean in a dif- 717 ferent and less objectionable manner. Why could you not get militiamen to volunteer into these companies, and complete them at once? I believe that there would be no difficulty in doing so, and, indeed, that militiamen would be More ready to volunteer for the Crimea itself than for Malta or Gibraltar. What has been the course already adopted? You have allowed 25 per cent of every militia regiment to volunteer, and have given ensigncies to those regiments for every seventy-five men. Well, the principle is, I believe, a good one, and, if acted upon to a still greater extent, there would be, I think, no difficulty in completing the companies you want to form as an advance reserve. There is, however, one thing that strikes me still more, and that is, that this measure would not have been necessary, and the reserve companies of those regiments of the line on active service would have been quite sufficient for the duty required to be performed, if the Government had been more prompt in encouraging recruiting. The noble Duke has stated that the army is actually short of the number of men voted during the last Session of Parliament, and, if I have rightly understood, a Member of the Government is reported to have said, in the other House of Parliament, that it fell short by nearly 20,000 men. [The Duke of NEWCASTLE: About that number.] Well, that being the case, the Army never having been brought up to its establishment, I have heard with astonishment the noble Duke, in vindicating the measure of lowering the standard for recruits, tell us that the order for reducing the standard was issued only four or five weeks ago. I wonder that the order was not issued five or six months ago. Every one knew that we were engaged in war, and the most prompt exertions should have been made for the augmentation of the Army. Why was not the standard lowered on the very day upon which the House of Commons voted the increase to the Army, or even in anticipation of that vote? The same argument also applied to raising the bounty. It may be said that it is too late to look back; and we are now asked to repair the error of that delay—which, to me, was unaccountable, and which was matter for regret—to adopt the plan of allowing militia regiments to volunteer for service in the Colonies, and so to enable us to increase our effective forces by withdrawing the regular troops from those Colonies, I believe that the 718 principle is a very erroneous one and a very impolitic one, and that we shall probably be spoiling our militia by the adoption of a measure which will have less effect in accomplishing an immediate increase of the Army than other methods which might be employed. At the same time I agree with the noble Earl opposite, that at this crisis it would not be expedient that your Lordships should reject this Bill: and, by stating my objections, I do not propose to offer any opposition to the second reading, but rather to check, for the future, the adoption of similar principles. I hope that the result of this discussion will be to bring the Government to adopt a different line of policy, but I do not wish to refuse them the means they now ask for to increase the effective forces of the country, and the same principle actuated me in voting in favour of another Bill, which I do not consider to be free from grave objections.
said, he believed, notwithstanding what had been said by the noble Earl who had just spoken, and by the noble Earl opposite, that the patriotism of the country would induce the people to volunteer for this service as well as for the regular service of the Army. The objections urged by the noble Earl (Earl Grey) would probably induce certain classes, especially professional men, to weigh well the advantages of the one service against the other before they determined upon their course of proceeding; but whether or not, he believed that in the present emergency all classes would unite in showing to the world the example of a united nation. The great difficulty under which we, as a people, laboured—that of not befit, properly trained to military duties—had been well pointed out. That was the difficulty, and for the future we must endeavour to repair it. He hoped orders would be issued to lower the standard still further, if necessary, and to raise the force required by the most ready means. In the late war the regular army was recruited to a considerable extent from the volunteer regiments, and persons were induced, by the promise of commissions, to use their influence to raise volunteers for the regular army. He thought the same course might be adopted now with advantage. He knew instances in which as many as twenty-four volunteers had been enlisted in one parish by one individual. If this country should be invaded we had no Sebastopol to stay the invader; and it was the duty of the Government to make 719 every provision for increasing the military resources of the country.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
entirely agreed with an opinion uttered by the noble Earl, that every discussion on the subject which had taken place in their Lordships' House bad been attended with advantage to the Government and to the country, and he believed that such would always be the case when they were conducted in the spirit and temper which usually characterised discussions in that House. Every one entered that House under the full conviction that, whatever might have been necessary if certain steps had been taken, under existing circumstances the present measure was one of convenience, if not of necessity. He would admit that if we had had a large standing army the Government would not have asked the militia to volunteer even for garrison duty; but not having a large standing army, or a numerous army of reserve, they had to remove our troops from the garrisons, and were, in consequence, obliged to ask militia regiments to perform that duty. He did not deny that there were some objections to the measure, but there must always be objections to any measure which placed it in the power of the militia to leave the confines of the kingdom, and he agreed generally with the principle that they should be kept for the defence of the shores of England. All the objections, however, which had been taken to this measure were, he thought, exaggerated in the course of the discussion, and the measure itself was not without a precedent. The noble Earl opposite had drawn the distinction between the Act passed during the last war and the present Bill, that the men forming the militia under the former Act were drawn by ballot, and were not volunteers; but that distinction appeared to him not to tell against the present Bill, but to be rather in its favour. If men were compelled to enter the militia, it was a greater hardship to press them to go upon foreign service than when the militia service was itself entirely voluntary; and, indeed, he did not see any hardship at all in giving to the militia the option of performing these duties. The noble Earl said that a system by which the militia were sent out of this country to do garrison duty would strike at the very root of recruiting in this country. He had understood the noble Earl to say that if that system were adopted the relations of young men would dissuade them from joining the 720 militia for fear of being made complete soldiers of, and being draughted into the regular army; but it appeared to him that that objection held equally against the system advocated by the noble Earl of allowing individuals from the militia to volunteer into the line. A very considerable number of recruits in the regular army had been derived from militia regiments, and he could not conceive why that state of things should not continue. It was most important, he thought, to preserve a portion of militia regiments in this country to maintain their local connection with the various districts of the country; and if this were done, and the services of the militia regiments were confined to the immediate objects of the Bill, he held that this measure would increase the military spirit of the people, and enable us to take more effectual measures for the creation of an army of reserve for the regular army.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
My Lords, the noble Duke would have been more correct if he had stated, not that noble Lords were in favour of this Bill, but that they were in favour of the second reading of the Bill; for in what has fallen from him, he appeared to me to assume that all, or nearly all, the Members of your Lordships' House were in favour of this Bill in all its details, and there, I apprehend, the noble Duke is in error. As I understand it, my Lords, the necessity fur this Bill arises out of an immediate and pressing demand for ten or eleven regiments now in the garrisons in the Mediterranean, to enable as many regiments to be made disposable for service in the Crimea. Now, I acquiesce in the second reading of the Bill, because I am ready to give power to the Government to that extent; but at the same time I must say that it is not consistent with Parliamentary usage to give to any Government powers beyond the necessity of the case; and least of all is it consistent with Parliamentary usage to pass a Bill subject to an explanation the Government may give as to the mode in which they mean to act upon its provisions;—and yet that is what we are now asked to do. This is a new system, which has been introduced of late, and I protest against a course so inconsistent with usage and with public policy. What the Government want is a Bill to enable them to garrison certain places in the Mediterranean. They want ten or eleven regiments, regiments of the line, and they ask for the whole militia;—there is no- 721 thing in this Bill to prevent the whole militia being sent to any part of the world. There is a very material difference between this Bill and the Act of 1813. That Act was passed at the very end of the war, when the Allies were making a rush upon Paris to put an end to the war, and the militia regiments, when sent out, arrived at Bordeaux too late, and there they remained in garrison until the conclusion of peace. It was not any part of the policy of the successive Governments that existed in this country from 1793 to 1813 to alter the character of the militia, and the Act of 1813 was only passed at the last moment of a war, and that exceptional measure was agreed to under particular circumstances. Considering the number of regular troops there were in the kingdom at that time, I think that that measure must have been adopted more on account of certain colonels of militia and certain regiments which were desirous of distinguishing themselves, than to perform any public service. I know no worse policy, either with regard to our military or our naval service. than at the beginning of a war to draw upon our last reserves. If a general does so at the commencement of a battle, he almost invariably loses it; and the same principle applies to the commencement of a war; and the fact of the Government already drawing upon their last reserves shows that they have provided very inadequately for the necessities of the circumstances under which they are placed. Under the Bill of 1813, the number that might be sent out of the kingdom was three-fourths of those on actual service, which was then not much below three-fourths of the establishment. At the present time three-fourths of the establishment amount to the whole of those actually serving, and in some cases even to more. At all events, the number remaining at home in 1813 was, in all cases, something that might be called a regiment; but now the establishment of a regiment may be 1,000 amen, but there may be only 800 actually serving; and then if three-fourths of the establishment should be sent abroad, there would only be fifty men of the regiment remaining in this country. In the Act of 1813 there was a limit to the number that might be sent abroad. The limitation was not three-fourths of the establishment, but three-fourths of those actually serving. In 1813, too, the whole number of men to be sent abroad was limited to 30,000. At 722 present the militia establishment is 80,000, and therefore three-fourths of the establishment is 60,000; but the number of effective men is only about 50,000, so that by this Bill the Government acquire the power of sending abroad more actually than all the effective men. But, again, one-quarter of the men in the militia regiments are called upon to volunteer into the line under a certain degree of moral pressure not agreeable to withstand; three-fourths are liable. by this Bill, to be sent abroad. Now, I pretend to no great mathematical education, but I remember enough to satisfy me that, if yon take one-fourth for one force, and three-fourths for another, nothing remains. It seems to me, therefore, that there will be no militia left. Now, noble Lords on this side the House are desirous that something should be left; they do not wish totally to destroy the militia. The effect of this measure will be to establish at the commencement of the war two different armies, raised in a different manner, one of which will be officered in an inferior manner, and will be a local army of a limited size. I apprehend, that nothing can be more inconvenient than the establishment of local corps, and in Committee I intend to propose an Amendment to prevent regiments volunteering for particular garrisons, and to give Government the power of transferring these men from one garrison to another. There ought to be some limitation, say 15,000 men, to the number of men to be sent out; and I think that to pass the Bill without such a limitation would be inconsistent with Parliamentary convenience, and, however unfashionable it may be at time present day, I still look with reverence to the constitutional practice of Parliament. With regard to this Bill, to employ an expression perhaps not quite consistent with the dignity of Parliamentary language, the effect of it will be to kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs, and to impair a militia that all parties have combined to render efficient. I believe, if the same spirit animate all neighbourhoods as has been evinced in some with which I am acquainted, 160,000 men might be brought to the public service. Those men were obtained by placing before them the circumstances of the militia as they stood then, and have always stood up to this time. Upon those occasions we have had invariably in our favour the exertions of the families of the men enlisted, because 723 they saw in the bounty which they received, and in their pay, and in the certainty of their return at a fixed period, considerable advantages. Will you have the exertions of the family in your favour now when the men will be induced to go abroad, and in all probability not for a short time? I am certain that you will not. The women of the family especially will always entertain apprehensions that the men will be sent abroad; and I am satisfied that you will be cutting at the very root of a most valuable force—which produced most of your recruits in the last war, and which will produce them in this war if you only use proper care. As it is, you are asking more than you have a right to ask. All that you have a right to ask I will willingly grant. Take your eleven regiments, and I have no objection; but to give a general power to take practically the whole militia of the country for service in any part of the world appears to me to be destroying your future means of recruiting. I cannot assent to such a course, and I shall therefore propose Amendments in Committee which will tend to remove these objections.
THE EARL OF GLENGALL
said, there was one point to which he wished to call the attention of the House, and that was the question of pensioning those soldiers serving in the militia who might be wounded while engaged abroad. He had scarcely any doubt that pensions would in such instances be granted; but the subject, nevertheless, was one with reference to which he should wish to receive some assurance from the Government. He thought there was a good deal of force in some of the objections which had been urged by the noble Earl; but he (the Earl of Glengall) looked at the subject in another light. We were now engaged in a very formidable contest—a contest of which it was extremely difficult to foretell what the duration might be. The more we attacked the dominions of the Emperor of Russia, the longer would the war last; if we took our stand in the Crimea and attempted to hold that position on the Emperor's own soil, he believed that every Russian would do as they did in 1812; for, while our soldiers continued upon the soil of Russia, neither the Czar nor any of his subjects would consent to treat with us otherwise than as enemies, and that was the course he should recommend to every nation that should be invaded. It was important, bearing that statement in mind, to consider 724 what was the position of our army in the East. He believed that that army had suffered from disease and other causes so much, that it became absolutely necessary that an immense number of troops should be sent out to its relief, and that immense reserves should everywhere be kept up. It was, as a consequence of that necessity and the expediency of having the soldiers who might be sent to the Crimea as well adapted as possible to cope with the hardship of the war, that he was desirous the Government should have recourse to the services of the militia, who were, upon enlistment, accurately examined by a medical officer, and found to be sound in wind and limb, instead of depending upon Germans—who might be well-dressed, indeed, but who would be found devoid of that bodily vigour which, in order to encounter successfully the hardship of a winter in the Crimea, it was indispensable to possess.
Resolved in the Affirmative.
Bill read 2a accordingly.
Standing Orders Nos. 37 and 38 considered (according to Order) and dispensed with: Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House instanter: house in Committee accordingly.
§ On Clause 1,
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
proposed an Amendment, the effect of which would be, he said, to make the Bill exactly analogous to that of 1813, and to confine the number of men to be taken under the Bill to three-fourths of the number actually serving. He had already given his reasons for this proposition, and therefore would not trouble the House again.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
regretted that he must oppose the Amendment. He readily admitted that such extreme cases might occur as the noble Earl had referred to in his former speech, but he thought that there was a considerable advantage in having a fixed rather than a fluctuating number. He would mention a circumstance which would show what he believed would be the practical working of the measure:—the greater part of the regiments which had been first embodied had volunteered, and their numbers were now again very nearly completed. The practical working of the measure would be very different from that suggested by the noble Earl; and, so far from the prospect of serving abroad operating injuriously on the zeal and spirit of these regiments of militia, as the noble Earl had inferred, such 725 was the zeal and spirit of the country, that it had operated up to this time in precisely a contrary direction. The first regiment which had volunteered for foreign service had now given its quota of 25 per cent to the regiments of the line, and he believed that their original number had again been nearly, if not quite, completed. He adhered, therefore, to his opinion, that the rule adopted by the present Bill would he found to operate more satisfactorily in all respects than the plan proposed by the noble Earl, and he could not agree to the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
was exceedingly glad to hear what had fallen from the noble Duke. It appeared from statements which he had before made, that after the battles of Alma and Inkerman there had been displayed on the part of the people of this country a stronger military disposition than had existed previous to those victories; but their Lordships must recollect that they were legislating for the whole war, and that we could not rely altogether upon the continuance, under adverse circumstances, of those feelings which had been created on the sudden by two great military successes. He thought, however, that it was highly desirable that, under all circumstances, Parliament should take care that there remained in this country a sufficient nucleus, as it were, around which all new recruits should rally. Before he sat down, he wished to put a question to the noble Lord the Commander in Chief. A good deal had been said upon the new establishment of the several regiments in the army, which consisted at the beginning of the war of eight companies, were then raised to twelve, and now were to consist of sixteen companies. What he wished to know was this:—when we had in this manner doubled the number of captains and lieutenants, and, he presumed also, of ensigns, was it proposed to add two additional majors and one additional lieutenant colonel? Because, if it were not so, it must be distinctly understood that the prospects of promotion to the higher ranks would be exactly twice as bad as before the alteration? That, in fact, was his great objection to the plan. He thought it would be much better to follow the old system, and have another battalion. There would then be two majors and one lieutenant colonel in the additional eight companies, and the same chance of promotion as hitherto. But now, when they were sending out 726 officers to encounter great perils, they deprived them of one-half the prospect of promotion they had before.
§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
begged to state, in reply to the question put by the noble Earl, that there would at once be an additional major, and eventually, as soon as the numbers reached anything like what they were fully expected to reach, there would be a second lieutenant colonel.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
could not help thinking that, in another place, the idea just broached had not been that which was there understood. He knew that a great many persons who heard the Amendment — and, indeed, many noble Lords in that House—understood differently to what was now the impression. If, however, the noble Duke agreed that depôts should be left in this country, why did he scruple to have it made a law that only three-fourths of a regiment should be sent out of the country at once. The noble Duke seemed to fancy that all the eighteen regiments to which he alluded had been recruited to their effective strength; but that was not the case. Two regiments that lie knew were 400 or 500 short of their full strength, in consequence of the number of men that had been drafted into the line. It was, therefore, impossible to have this first clause in the Bill, and carry it out as it should be carried out. But, as the Government appeared to him to share with his side of the House as far as the principle of the matter was concerned, he should have liked to know what reason or argument they had for refusing to alter the clause so as to carry out the principle in which they said they were agreed?
§ LORD DYNEVOR
entreated the Government to consider the practical working of this measure. The noble Duke said the regiments of militia which underwent training last summer were all very nearly up to their number. That might be the fact, yet their effective strength might be considerably less than the number. If he were correctly informed, in those cases in which militia regiments had been embodied —embodiment being a voluntary act—the effect had been that a considerable number of the men had not been embodied. He knew a regiment which in time of training, when it was stated it was perfectly ready to be embodied, consisted of 900 men, nearly up to the establishment. Within a week the order came down for that regiment to be embodied, and 600 was the whole number which at that time came 727 forward to go into barracks. Of the remainder, some, from the nature of their occupations, were not disposed to quit home; others were married men, and it was conceded on all hands that they ought to be allowed to remain. He believed that in all the eighteen regiments the same result had attended their being embodied, and that, in no case, even when the establishment had been complete in training, was it complete on being embodied. He thought all the necessities of the case would be met by adopting the suggestion of the noble Earl. They would not get, perhaps, so many men to garrison the Mediterranean ports as under other circumstances; at the same time, they would leave that which the noble Duke admitted to be necessary, a nucleus round which volunteers would gather, and from those depôts drafts might be sent out to supply the places of such men as volunteered for service in the Crimea.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, there was no noble Lord to whose opinion he should be more inclined to defer than to that of his noble Friend who had just spoken, because he knew the great attention he had paid to the subject of the militia; hut the noble Lord had certainly supplied the Government with the very strongest argument in favour of the clause remaining as it stood. He had cited a regiment 900 strong, which, when embodied, only went out to the number of 600. The noble Lord, of course, did not mean that the 300 had ceased to belong to the regiment; but that, acting on the provision of the Act of Parliament, they had not come forward to be embodied. Then, did the noble Lord mean that it would be right to leave at home one-fourth of 600 as well as the 300? He was convinced, the more he examined into this question the more difficult would it appear to his noble Friend to take any other standard than the establishment. He readily admitted that Parliament would and must leave to the Executive Government considerable responsibility as to the regiments to be taken and the mode in which they would carry out the Act; but he was satisfied, looking at the present state of the militia, that any departure from that standard would create inextricable difficulties. As to the last proposal of the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough), it was very much more stringent than his Amendment, and, of the two, the Amendment was much nearer the proposal of the Government. With regard 728 to any supposed misunderstanding on the subject of this Amendment, he thought it impossible, because his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department readily admitted the principle of an Amendment proposed by a right hon. Gentleman in the other House (Sir J. Pakington), but objected to the mode of carrying it out, and words now standing in the Bill were adopted instead, with the consent of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
observed that, as to what had occurred in the other House, he rather thought the Secretary of State for the Home Department, from his long Parliamentary experience and practice in debate, had managed apparently to adhere to the Amendment while making a mere verbal alteration, very much to the gratification of the Mover, though completely defeating the object he had in view, When the noble Duke said there could be no error, he wished to know how that was reconcilable with the jocular allusion of the Secretary at War (Mr. S. Herbert), who, being asked if three-fourths went abroad, how many would remain at home, answered, "of course, one-fourth?" He thought the noble Duke would see that the error arose from the difference between the actual strength of the regiments when embodied and their actual strength at the present moment. The noble Duke would find a practical illustration of his error if the regiment alluded to was the regiment he supposed it to be. He believed the establishment of that regiment was 1,200, and that its present number was 920 after all the recruits had been added since its quota had been contributed to the line. That regiment stood first of those which had volunteered for foreign service; and he believed that other regiments that had volunteered stood in the same condition. The noble Duke, having the papers in his hand, would, perhaps, tell them whether the establishment strength did not greatly exceed the effective strength, and whether, in many instances, the taking three-fourths of the establishment would not be taking the whole effective strength of the embodied regiments?
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
thought the noble Duke hardly understood what he had suggested. If one quarter of each regiment was to be left at home it would amount to the same thing as taking three-quarters for foreign service, provided the establishment and the effective strength were equal. If the regiments were below 729 their establishments, the number serving abroad would be smaller. But if they were very much below, such as 1,000 amounting to only 750, under the noble Duke's proposition the whole regiment might go abroad and leave none at home.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
considered it important there should be no doubt as to a nucleus from each regiment remaining at home. He very much objected to the measure in the form in which it was proposed. He had no objection to individuals volunteering for the line—he had not the slightest objection whether they were privates, or subalterns, or officers who joined the regular army, provided their doing so was purely voluntary. He would ask any noble Lord who had read the first, clause, whether the terms in the second part of that clause were consistent with a real voluntary engagement? The first part, he admitted, was perfectly voluntary; but then it went on to say—And it shall be lawful for Her Majesty, by any order signed by one of Her principal Secretaries of State, or by the Lord Lieutenant or other chief governor or governors of Ireland, or by his or their chief secretary, directed to the commanding officer of any regiment, battalion, or corps of such militia, to propose to such regiment, battalion, or corps, or any part or parts thereof, to extend their services to any parts or places out of the United Kingdom to be specified in such order, under such rules and regulations as Her Majesty may think fit to appoint.He put it to their Lordships, as Gentlemen who knew how to weigh words, whether they would venture to resist that proposal if it were made to them? It would be difficult, in his opinion, even for privates, but for those in the condition of gentlemen it would be impossible to resist such a proposition, however distasteful it might be, however disagreeable in its consequences, however injurious to their fortune and property. It was a proposition which no Government ought to make. Let the volunteering be a true volunteering—that was to say, let the idea of volunteering arise in the mind of the man who volunteered, not in the mind of somebody who suggested it to him. He concurred in thinking the Amendment of the noble Earl would remove a great objection, but not the objection he entertained—that, under the specious garb of being an entirely voluntary proceeding, something was proposed and almost enforced on these regiments by the Queen's order.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, he trusted that he should be understood when he said that Government would not make 730 any offer to any militia regiment, but would wait until it volunteered its services. They would not force any man who had been embodied under the old system to be embodied again under the new one.
In answer to a question by the Earl of DERBY,
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH ,
before the Amendment was put to their Lordships, wished to propose another, limiting the places to which the militia regiments could be sent to the Mediterranean garrisons and the Channel Islands.
§ LORD COLCHESTER
had heard that in another place Canada had been mentioned as one of the places to which the militia were likely to be sent. Was that so?
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, it would be exceedingly desirable that their Lordships should know the actual state of the militia regiments. He perceived the noble Duke was perusing a document. Perhaps that document would enable the noble Duke to inform the House upon a point so material in considering this Bill?
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
The paper to which the noble Earl referred had been put in his hands since he entered that House. There was no date to it, only merely 1854, and he did not even know who sent it.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
The noble Duke obstinately refused to furnish information to their Lordships as to how the militia regiments now actually stand; and yet the whole question actually depended on that knowledge. He believed the truth was, that the noble Duke was ignorant of the fact.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
said, the noble Earl had resorted to his accustomed practice of lecturing the Government upon every possible occasion, and using terms, if not very applicable, certainly very discourteous. The noble Earl—he would not use that, favourite term of his, "misrepresented," but he would say "misunderstood" every word he (the Duke of Newcastle) had uttered. He had never stated he was ignorant of the state of the militia, and the noble Earl was not entitled to assume that as a fact. He had stated the precise reverse. What he said, and what he now repeated was, that the great majority of the regiments embodied had very nearly their full establishment.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
Perhaps the noble Duke would gratify the House with a return, showing the number of regiments embodied which had their full establishment on that very day. Would the noble Duke give that to the House?
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
If the noble Earl made such a motion to-morrow he would consider it. He must say he thought further reference as to the state of the regiments was not desirable. [The Earl of DERBY: Hear, hear!] Yes, he understood the cheer of the noble Earl, but he (the Duke of Newcastle) felt sure that the people out of doors would be of opinion that he had already gone to the verge of prudence—he hoped he had not overstepped those bounds, and given information to the enemy which he ought not to give, in the statements he had made on that night. He had no wish to keep anything back which it was for the interest of the public service to furnish. He would not attempt to deceive the House, but he was not, without some consideration, prepared to agree to the request made by the noble Earl.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
would be the last man in that House to ask for information which it was not for the interest of the public service to be afforded, but, at the same time would remind the noble Duke that the return sought for was the very key to the question they were considering. As for what the noble Duke said about his noble Friend making a motion to-morrow, of course if the information were not furnished at once they could not have it until after the recess, when the Bill would have been passed, and when the return would be comparatively valueless.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
repeated his conviction that by far the greater number of regiments which had been embodied had their full complement—had completed their entire establishment. He begged to remind the noble Earl that a return of the militia force on that very day would represent almost the lowest figure at which it would stand, in consequence of those who had volunteered into the line, but in a fortnight the case would be very different. There would be some trouble and delay in obtaining the return, which must be obtained from each of the colonels of eighteen regiments; still if it were meant to test his veracity, it would be produced.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
did not doubt the noble Duke's veracity—it was his information he doubted. He believed the noble Duke was totally misinformed as to the real strength of the militia regiments. He (the Earl of Malmesbury) himself knew five regiments which had not yet got half their establishment. The noble Duke ought to have at his fingers' ends the information for which he had asked.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
would submit to the noble Duke that it would be very desirable he should be furnished with a return each week, showing the number that had volunteered into and quitted each militia regiment.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
felt obliged to the noble Earl for the suggestion, which would not be lost sight of.
Amendment negatived; clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
On clause 4 being proposed,
THE EARL OF GLENGALL
asked who it was that really had the control over the militia now—the Secretary at War, the Secretary for War, or the Home Secretary?
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
The recent appointment of a new Secretary for War had not made any difference in the control of the militia. So long as they were not embodied, the force was under the control of the Home Office, but when embodied, the control of the Home Office ceased, and the force came under the control of the Secretary for War.
Clause agreed to.
On Clause 5,
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
proposed that the volunteer force sent abroad be limited to 15,000 men, which was 4,000 more than the Government itself proposed. In 1813 the militia force sent abroad was limited to 30,000. He also proposed that not more than three-fourths of the actual strength of each regiment be sent abroad, and not three-fourths of the nominal establishment. His object was always to keep a nucleus at home for the due recruiting of the force.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
objected to the restriction as impolitic and unnecessary.
Amendment negatived; Clause agreed to; remaining Clauses agreed to. Bill reported without amendment, and to be read 3a To-morrow.