§ LORD PORTMAN
said, that during the discussions on the recent measures for the re-organization of our military forces attention seemed to have been directed mainly, if not exclusively, to the protection of our shores against foreign invasion—on the other hand, little attention had been paid to the question how the military force was to be made available for the assistance of the Civil Power in the case of domestic disturbance. Now, many years ago, it had been his misfortune to have to assemble the Yeomanry under his command as Lord Lieutenant of the county of Somerset, with the view to their giving such assistance, and the recollection of that had induced him to look into the recent Act for the re-organization of the Army in order to find what rule was to guide the authorities in regard to calling out the Yeomanry; but he had 3 been unable to find any such rule. It was with a view to elicit information on this important point that he had given Notice of the Question he was about to ask—namely, he begged to ask Her Majesty's Government? 1. What local authorities may now apply to the Secretary of State for any military force to aid the Civil Power; 2. By whom can the Yeomanry be called out to aid the Civil Power?
§ LORD EGERTON OF TATTON
wished to ask the noble Marquess whether the magistrates were not the local authorities to act in such an emergency?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said, he thought that his noble Friend (Lord Portman) had done good service by raising this question in an Assembly the most capable of determining it. He begged to inform his noble Friend that the reason why there was omitted from the Army Regulation Act any arrangement as to the authority by whom application should be made for military force in aid of the Civil Power was that—with the exception of the Yeomanry—no change of the existing law had taken place. Before and since the recent legislation, the proper authority to make application to the Secretary of State for military in case of disturbances were the magistrates. He admitted that he could not refer to any statute for this authority, because the practice had not originated in any particular Act of Parliament, but had grown up gradually, and had been invariably acted upon. In 1717, a military force, by an Order in Council, was summoned to aid the Customs authorities in enforcing their decisions. Since then he believed that no similar Order in Council had been issued. Every subject of Her Majesty was bound to aid in the suppression of outrage and the preservation of peace and order, and from this obligation the forces of the Crown were not exempted. In the Queen's Regulations, No. 912, it was laid down that when a military force was so called out upon the requisition of the magistrates, they were bound to obey not only as ordinary subjects of Her Majesty, but as soldiers—that was, subject to military discipline and the Mutiny Act. In Sections 9 and 12 of the Queen's Regulations an opinion of Lord Ellenborough was quoted for the information and guidance of commanding officers when military forces were called out on 4 occasions of emergency, and it was even laid down that under certain circumstances the military might act without the presence of a magistrate. The Army Pensioners were also liable to be called out in aid of the Civil Power as a military force. The Militia were only available as a military force when embodied; while the case of the Volunteers had been dealt with by a recent War Office Circular. With regard to the Yeomanry, by the 44 Geo. III., c. 54, sec. 23, it was provided that the Yeomanry mightVoluntarily march on being called upon, in pursuance of any order from the Lieutenant or Sheriff of the county, to act within the county or adjacent counties for the suppression of riots or tumults," and "shall in all such cases, from the time of so assembling, or marching, as aforesaid.…. be subject to military discipline, to the Mutiny Act and Articles of War.The Act of last Session, which transferred this power, so far as the Lord Lieutenant was concerned, to the Secretary of State, left the power of the Sheriff untouched. The only change made by the legislation of last year was the transfer to the Secretary of State of the power hitherto exercised by Lord Lieutenants of counties; that, however, did not alter the statutory authority possessed by the Sheriff, who was the local authority, and who had still the power to call out the Yeomanry in aid of the Civil Power on occasions of sudden emergency. As a general rule for the guidance of the public, it might be laid down that the magistrates were the proper persons to apply to the Secretary of State, if there was time; or if not to the nearest commanding officer for the aid of a military force in suppressing disorder. He admitted that the various regulations might be somewhat confusing, but he believed that he had shown that there had been no important alterations made upon the subject, and that the existing law worked well. There were moreover strong objections to fresh legislation with regard to a subject which had always been dealt with very jealously, in consequence of a feeling that the forces of the Crown should be if possible used only in case of conflict with a foreign enemy, and not for police purposes, except under extreme pressure.
THE EARL OF CORK
hoped that his noble Friend would pardon him for saying that he did not seem to have an- 5 swered the Question put to him. The question was, by whom could the Yeomanry be called out in aid of the Civil Power. He himself believed that the law had been that the magistrates applied to the Lord Lieutenant, who, in his turn, applied to the Secretary of State; but, as the power over the Militia Force was now taken away from the Lord Lieutenant, it was desirable that they should know whether the magistrates were to apply directly to the military commandant of the district or to the Secretary of State. He thought that if the noble Marquess would consider the matter a little more, he would be able to give a more satisfactory answer to the Question that had been put to him.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
The proper authority to call out the Yeomanry in aid of the Civil Power is the Sheriff. The Act said the Lord Lieutenant or the Sheriff; but the Lord Lieutenant's power having been transferred to the Secretary of State, the only legal authority remaining to call out the Yeomanry was the Sheriff.
§ LORD PORTMAN
asked to whom the local authorities were to apply to call out the Yeomanry—to the Secretary of State, or to the commanding officer of the district, or to the officer in command of the Yeomanry? His own opinion was that the application must be made to the Secretary of State.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
No authority, whether that of the general commanding the district, or the Lord Lieutenant, or the Secretary of State, could compel the Yeomanry to come out; they were volunteers and could elect whether they would come out or not. The hold that the War Office had upon the Yeomanry was this—that it was essential to their existence that they should receive certain allowances from the Executive Government, which allowances could be withdrawn. There was no instance, and probably would be none, of the Yeomanry refusing to act; but, as he had already said, they could not be compelled to act without their own concurrence.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
thought the noble Marquess was in error. If individuals could be called upon to aid the Civil Power in an emergency, it could scarcely be supposed that an armed force like the Yeomanry would have any right of refusal.
§ LORD EGERTON OF TATTON
said, that in 1842, as commander of a Yeomanry corps, he was called upon by the general of the district to march his troops out of their own county of Cheshire into Lancashire in order to suppress disturbances that had broken out there.
THE MARQUESS OF BATH
remarked that it was strange the Yeomanry could not be compelled to aid the Civil Power, seeing that when called out they were under the discipline of marshal law, and that penalties attached to them for breaches of that law.
believed that as the High Sheriff had precedence of the Lord Lieutenant and of everyone in his county, except the Judges on Circuit, that he would have the right of calling out the Yeomanry, and even the Volunteers—as Her Majesty's subjects, individually—in the case of any riots; and in the Bristol Riots the complaint of the Government was, that the authorities of that city did not promptly call to their aid the military power. In the case of a riot, every subject of Her Majesty was bound to aid the civil powers directly the Riot Act was read, and it was the duty of every magistrate to call to his aid any military force near him, and all Her Majesty's subjects who witnessed the riot.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
said, with all respect for the noble Marquess, he did not think that he had quite clearly answered the Question. What they wanted to know was, who was the authority to call out the Yeomanry. The noble Marquess said if they were called but did not choose to come, no one could say anything to it. It should be borne in mind, however, that by a recent regulation a fine was imposed on any man who having entered the Yeomanry should leave the force before the expiry of three years. Surely, if there was the power of inflicting a penalty upon a man for leaving the Force prematurely, there must be a power of inflicting some penalty on a man who being in the Force did not come out when called upon. If there was no such power, he thought there should be some legislation to confer it.