Mr. Secretary Yorke
moved the order of the day for the House to resolve itself into a committee on the Volunteer Consolidation Bill. As there were several clauses to propose he suggested that it would be better to debate the principle of the bill on the report.—The House having resolved itself into a committee, the right hon. Secretary proposed several amendments in the body of the bill, the first of which went to confine the repeal of former laws to those relating to the yeomanry and volunteer corps of Great-Britain, it being thought better, he said, to leave the laws relating to the yeomanry and volunteer corps of Ireland as they stood. He also proposed to insert some words to render the fines and penalties under former acts recoverable. His next amendment went to authorise the continuance of the corps now in existence, unless his Majesty should please to discontinue the services of any corps, or part of a corps, by an order through the Secretary of State These amendments were severally agreed to.
§ Sir William Young
then rose to propose an amendment in the second clause. The House, he said, must be aware that the war was like to be of long duration, and it therefore became necessary to look towards a permanent system of defence. He thought that the exemptions tended to withdraw from the force of the country a great proportion of its population. With respect to these he wished to draw the line between those volunteers who had originally come forward on the purest principles of patriotism, and those who had afterwards come forward in order to avoid the compulsory provisions of the defence act. He wished only to extend the exemptions to those corps who had been accepted by his Majesty previous to the 27th of July 1803, by which means they would only attach upon 80 or 666 90.000 men, whilst 250,000 of the flower of our youth would be brought back again into the general force of the country. He thought they ought to do all they could to rends r this great machine of the population of the country as effective as possible, and therefore to strike out from the exemptions all those who had no idea at the time of their coming forward of any exemption at all. He concluded by moving an amendment, for the purpose of confining the exemptions to those corps who had been accepted previous to the 27th of July 1803.
really hoped it was impossible the House could think this proposition required much argument to prove, that it could not possibly be adopted with any thing like consistency or common sense. In the present session, immediately previous to the Christmas recess, in order to prevent doubts as to a supposed breach on this point, the exemptions had been given to all corps, on condition of exercising a certain number of days. These corps having conformed to that condition, was the House now to withhold or take away the boon it had held forth? Having performed and ratified the compact, so far as they were concerned, was Parliament to forfeit the pledge it had gives, and to recal the distinctions it had cancelled and repealed? By this proposition the exemptions would be taken away from persons to whom they were given by Parliament, and enjoyed by persons coming into these corps with their eyes open And all this because they had offered their services to avoid the compulsory clauses of the defence act. Now, let him here observe, that if Parliament held out inducements to voluntary service as preferable, and in order to save the trouble of resorting to compulsion, and then endeavoured to retract and take back the inducements to which it had pledged itself; if it had said, "it is true you have complied with what we desired, but we will take away what we promised to you," he thought this amounted pretty clearly to a breach of faith. Then this was to be done because the persons composing the corps enrolled subsequent to the 27th July, were supposed to have avoided compulsion. Now, if there was any point universally recognised and agreed upon, it was, that the compulsory power should be kept in reserve to enforce the exertion if it was tardy, but that voluntary exertion was preferable, if it could be obtained in sufficient extent; and if that exertion should not be obtained in sufficient proportion in any particular district, the compulsory clauses should be put in force in those districts.—If persons came voluntarily forward, they saved 667 the trouble of force and selection from the classes. On this ground, therefore, he was unable to comprehend the mode of reasoning resorted to by the Lon. baronet. Tilt; distinction was inapplicable in another sense: it supposed that all volunteers who offered their services since the 27th of July, had offered them for the purpose of avoiding the ballot. It was a notorious fact, that so far from being influenced by such a motive, they bad mane their offers previous to the passing of the bill: and the answers to the offers had been delayed; till the sense of Parliament was ascertained by the passing of the I bill. He believed this might have been the reason why some of the offers from the country, with which the hon. baronet was particularly connected, had not been earlier accepted. It was but a very short time since this very fact had been brought in proof of the injustice of drawing a line by dates, This whole effect of the distinction proposed, would go in the indirect way, to disband the whole of the volunteers, except the 80 or 90,000 enrolled before the 27th of July. Let nobody suppose that he asserted, that the exemptions were the motive of the offers of volunteer service. He knew it was I no such thing. But, he knew that the exemptions having been given and enjoyed, without distinction, equally by all, to take them back now from three-fourths of that force, would be setting a mark on them, which would operate as a discouragement, Whether the volunteer system was the wisest that could have been formed at first, was not now the question; but, having gone so far in it, it would be madness now to abandon it. No person contended that it should be abandoned, at least he hoped not.
§ Mr. Windham
rose to propose a course of proceeding, which would obviate much trouble. It was, that as a great number of clauses were to be proposed by the movers of the bill, as well as by others, which it was impossible, however intelligible they may be to the proposers, that those who never before heard them should understand, so as to decide on the instant the propriety of adopting or rejecting them, whether it would not be better to have them all admitted into the bill pro forma this night, and printed for discussion on the report or recommitment, when they should have been fully considered. He foresaw, that this proposition afforded room for an objection, that many clauses would get into the bill which its proposers did not approve of, and which being inconsistent with each other, gave rise to a charge of inconsistency against those who drew them up; but he thought 668 this objection was but apparent and ought to be overcome for the sake of convenience, and of coming better prepared to the discussion.
§ Mr. Fuller
defended the motives of the volunteer offers of service. He adverted to the deficiency in the Sussex militia, which arose from the necessity of finding substitutes from the county itself, or the adjacent counties. The county itself was not a manufacturing county, consequently it wanted one of the principal sources of recruiting its militia. It was a maritime county, having no adjoining county on 90 miles of its border.
Mr. Secretary Yorke
observed, that the principle of obtaining substitutes from the county itself, or the adjoining county, was universal, and one. of the oldest in the militia laws.—In answer to the proposition of the right hon. gent. (Mr. Windham), it must be obviously inadmissible so far as it went to the reception of ail clauses of whatever description. But if it was agreeable, he would state the substance of the clauses he had to propose, which might be agreed to pro forma, and the bill being reprinted with them, might be discussed again on Tuesday. The right hon. gent, behind him (Mr. Pitt), and any other gent, who had clauses, might then propose them, and they would be debated.
§ Mr. Curwen
hoped, after what had been said, that the hon baronet would see the propriety of withdrawing his clause. If the clause was adopted, it would be partial in its operation, as the ballot bad taken place in some districts,' and consequently the benefit of the exemptions was enjoyed in those districts; in other districts it had not taken place, and, consequently, the exemptions would be denied in those districts, if the clause was allowed to pass. He should, before a distant day, move, that returns of all the volunteer corps should be obtained, distinguishing the classes. He was sure it would then be found that the number bene-fitted by the exemptions was very few.
was ready to accede to the proposition made by his right hon. friend, and assented to by the Sec. of Stale, if the hon. baronet, in withdrawing his clause, was to be understood to mean to bring it forward again. He would not, however, deprive himself entirely of the opportunity of discussing the propriety of those exemptions which deprived us of an armed peasantry, and if the hon. baronet's clause was not to be brought forward on another night, he would offer his observations now.
said it would be extremely convenient for the House, before proceeding 669 farther, to understand what was the mode to be adopted. He had no difficulty in saying that the convenience of gentlemen would be suited if the amendments were brought in, and the House put in possession of the clauses, if it did not interpose too long a delay to the progress of the measure. It had been the custom to agree to clauses and amendments pro forma, and afterwards to recommit them for the observations of others. But he hoped that before the committee closed, or before the House separated, he should have an opportunity of stating the substance of his own amendments, not pledging himself to move them, nor even to state them, if the amendments of the right hon. gent, met his objects.
The Chancellar the Exchequer
explained the object of his right hon. friend (Mr. Yorke) which, was to consult the convenience of the House. His right hon. friend would still hear what he had to offer in the nature of amendment, and others would be at liberty to say how far these amendments met their views.
§ Sir William Young
said, he should not press his amendment after what had been said; but he thought it would be no breach of faith to take away from the volunteers, what was never given to them.—The proposed amendment was then withdrawn.—A further explanation took place betwixt Mr. Pitt and Mr. Yorke, the result of which was, that the right hon. Sec. of State should generally explain the nature of his amendments, and that Mr. Pitt should he permitted to put the House in possession of the scope of his intended improvements.
Mr. Secretary Yorke
said, if he understood the wish of the committee, it was, that the clauses he had to propose should be received pro forma, and that he should state his view of the provisions suggested by the right hon. gent. (Mr. Pitt), with his reasons why he thought some of those ought not to be inserted in the present bill. He set out upon the basis, that the volunteer system must at present be preserved, that it would be unwise at the present moment to lay it aside, but that it must be rendered as effectual as possible. He thought that a great deal of misconception had taken place with respect to the volunteers. The volunteer system had arisen out of the Defence Act; by that act his Majesty was empowered to call out the classes, in case a sufficient number of volunteers did not come forward, or to fill up any part of the system that might be done away, but he was of opinion, that that act ought to remain in reserve, to be only executed in case there was a necessity 670 for it, as it was certainly much better that what was wanted should be effected by the volunteer system of the country than by compulsion.—Many opinions had been, thrown out, that the voluntary system was not carried to that extent which it might have been, and some gent. were of opinion, that clauses ought to be introduced for that purpose. He wished to state the necessity there was, that they should not attempt to do too much in the way of regulations. He asked gent, to consider under what regulations the volunteers at present subsisted, and what had been done upon that subject. The act of 1794. did no more than enable his Majesty to accept corps, to grant exemptions from the militia ballots, and to make provisions for putting them under martial law in the event of their being called into actual service, but left his Majesty to make such rules and regulations for their discipline as he should think fit. He must, then, observe, that, whatever ought to be done in this respect, it was not necessary to make it part of the present bill; it was only necessary to vote the money wanted for pay and allowances.—With respect to the allowances, there could be no question as to those granted to volunteer corps accepted previous to the 1st of Aug., but it had been said that similar liberality had not been shewn to the corps accepted since. He begged leave to observe, that in the allowances to the latter, ministers had in view the provisions of the defence act, and wished to assimilate the allowances as much as possible to those to which those persons who would have been called out under that act would have been called to, 20 days pay. In point of fact, he believed, that most of the corps had exercised 40 or 50 days in the course of the year, which was a strong proof of their zeal. He agreed it was of importance that in the course of the next 3 months, the volunteer corps ought to exercise more frequently, in order to perfect themselves in discipline.—The right hon. gent. (Mr. Pitt) had proposed, that corps should be invited to assemble on permanent pay and duty, and Lad also proposed two modes for inspecting these corps. The first, that they should have regular officers as assistant field-officers to receive pay; and the other, that they should borrow for the time, officers from regiments of the line. He was friendly to the principle of corps assembling for a certain time on permanent pay and duty: and if it should appear to be the wish of a sufficient number of volunteers in any particular district so to assemble, they might be permitted to do so 671 by his Majesty, without any provision on that subject being necessary in the present bill. All that would be necessary, would be to vote the requisite sum* of money. Permanent duty was certainly the best state in which discipline could be learnt, but as to giving more than 20 days pay, it became a question for consideration, how far an equivalent would be received for that increased pay. Ha thought there was considerable danger in applying general rules to this subject; it might be proper in some cases to give the increased pay, whilst in others it would not; in each case, it must depend upon circumstances, but, certainly, there need not be any proviso introduced upon the subject in the present bill.—Another point adverted to had been that of field officers, which he now understood the right hon. gent. (Mr. Pitt) to say, was only intended to apply to those corps who applied for such assistance. He at first understood it 'differently, but at any rate there was no difficulty in the business, as His Majesty on the recommendation of the lord lieut. might appoint such held officers or others to volunteer corps as he should think fit. As to the pay to be given to these officers, it had been thought advisable not to give permanent pay to those officers appointed to corps accepted prior to June last, but if they held a commission in the army to allow them their half pay, and this upon the principle that they were held to be persons who did nor want such assistance.—With respect to these modern corps, no allowance was made, except for an Adjutant. It might be said, that allowances ought to have been made; but it was not necessary for him to apologize for ministers being as economical as possible; it was better to begin under the mark, than make too large an establishment, which it might be difficult afterwards to reduce.—Adverting again to the subject of permanent pay, he would just observe, that as the law had stood since 1794, upon the offer being accepted of any corps to assemble upon permanent duty, they were considered to be in the same situation as if called out in case of actual invasion, and were entitled to the marching guinea, to provide themselves with necessaries. He would propose a clause to do away doubts upon this subject, in which he should propose that this guinea should be deducted from the two guineas to which they were entitled after the defeat or expulsion of the enemy.—The right hon. gent. (Mr. Pitt) had proposed that a clause should be inserted to remove doubts with respect lo the election of officers:—it was not his intention to propose any such clause. His Majesty undoubtedly had the power of commission- 672 ing officers recommended by the lord lieut. or of rejecting such persons. There, therefore, appeared no question about an election, except only where that was included in the terms of acceptance.—He had mentioned one exception on a former occasion, in the case of the light horse volunteers, who recommended to his Majesty persons to hold commissions in that corps, but when called into actual service, that right had ceased, and in case of the death of an officer, the next in seniority succeeded. There were some who only looked to the corps of the metropolis, considering them as every thing, and who, because two or three corps had claimed the right of electing officers, supposed it was general; but, in the country, where corps were formed under the influence of gent, of rank and property, no such idea was entertained. It was to be supposed, at the same time, that no person would be appointed an officer in a volunteer corps who was not agreable to that corps.—Much had been said on a former occasion about the power of committees, but wherever they had interfered in military discipline they had been checked, and no person could say that, in the regulation of financial concerns, they were acting improperly: it was well known that, in case of the death of a Paymaster, there was a committee of paymasters in every regiment of the line.—The last point which he had to notice, was the suggestions respecting rules and regulations for enforcing attendance and discipline, whilst under arms, by fine, imprisonment, &c. He must say, that he was wholly averse to such a plan, which he considered lo be entirely inconsistent with the nature of the volunteer service operting in its disembodied state. Such a system would, he conceived, not merely produce inconvenience, but would lead to the destruction of the volunteer system, or at least to a very considerable diminution of numbers. There was another objection to it likewise, arising out of the Defence act. Provisions were made there for fines and penalties upon the different classes, in case of disobedience; but it was expressly stated, that if a sufficient number of volunteers came forward, they should be relieved from the compulsory clauses of the bill. They having come forward in that confidence, and it would be in some instances a breach of faith to resort to those compulsory clauses to be applied against them.—He concluded by proposing several new clauses, some of which related to the exemptions under former acts, and the allowance to volunteers from serving in the militia and army of reserve. It was not intended, he 673 said, to exempt them from the ballot, but that on their names being balloted they should be placed on a separate list, and that on any one of them quitting his corps he should be called upon to serve by himself or substitute to fill up the first vacancy that occurred in the sub-division.—He also proposed that no person should be exempted from serving or finding a substitute, who did not attend the exercise of his corns 24 days in the course of the year.—Another clause went to enable the deputy lieutenants or magistrates to apportion the quotas for the militia and army of reserve, having regard to the number of volunteers in any particular place. Another clause inflicted penalties for the sale of arms belonging to government, or inducing a volunteer to sell his arms, and to enable commanding officers to have a place for keeping arms, the expense to be paid by the receiver-general of the land tax.—Another clause enabled commanding officers to dismiss any one from a corps, and another to prevent any dispute about withdrawing from a corps, by enacting, that where a commanding officer shall refuse to accept the resignation tendered by any member of the corps, the latter may appeal to the lord lieut. or deputy lieut. who shall decide in a summary way.
said, he should have been extremely happy if the right hon. gent, who had just spoken, had relieved him from the necessity of addressing the Committee upon the present occasion; but as the matter stood, lie was under that necessity. He was not desirous of particularly or tenaciously adhering to one mode rather than another, provided he saw that the substance of the thing he wanted was likely to be secured, and which appeared to him absolutely necessary to be accomplished. It was indifferent to him whether that was done by means of clauses in the bill or by the executive government, in virtue of any discretionary power given for that purpose, provided he found an assurance that it would be done; in that case, he should have been ready to acquiesce with government in any mode they might think expedient to adopt, but from the speech of the right hon. gent. that matter was left wholly uncertain, whether any thing that might amount to the substance of his proposal would be acceded to, on one or two of the most important points, as it appeared to him, in the whole of the volunteer system; he must therefore state to the Committee the ground of his proposal, that they might consider whether clauses would not be better than to leave the matter open to any discretion whatever.—He should take first that point which with 674 him was the most important object in his mind in the present crisis; namely, that which was to render the volunteers as well accomplished as possible in point of discipline; and he had the good fortune to have the concurrence of the right hon. gent, upon the importance of that subject, as he had admitted the necessity of calling out all the corps, and having them trained and exercised frequently for the purpose of improving them in discipline, and that this should be done as early as possible, and he had assured the Committee that the executive government would enforce this measure. But, Mr. Pitt said, he doubted whether it would not be necessary to insert a clause in the bill I for that purpose, in order to have the thing done as effectually and distinctly as it should be. He was aware there was a clause in the bill of last year for that purpose, which gave power to his Majesty to assemble the volunteers, at his command, on the appearance of invasion, hut there required something more than the actual appearance of invasion, or a general appearance of actual invasion, as it was generally described; for the enemy may be hovering about, apparently for the purpose of invasion, for many months, and perhaps for years, and when this expression of "appearance of invasion" was of doubtful construction, and particularly as that construction governed the question, whether so large and efficient a body of men as those of the volunteers, should or should not be put in a situation in which they could best acquire perfect discipline. It was the practice to call out the militia in time of war, and that power was not specifically provided for, but was und; r the general authority which the crown derived from the same sentence he had already quoted, that of actual invasion or in imminent danger thereof; that was the authority by which the militia were embodied, and put on permanent duty, as they always were in time of war; and he wished some principle of this kind to be applied to the volunteers, at least that they might be invited, as many of them had been, to take permanent duty for awhile in certain places, as they had been last year. Ministers then had apparent reason to believe that an invasion was at hand, and, therefore, they invited some volunteers out on permanent duty and pay. They thought that a season in which that was likely. He did not say, that now there was a greater prospect of it, or that this should be made a matter of doubt or question, but he should be sorry that any thing should be neglected, on any account whatever, that could be of use to the volunteer system, for now there 675 was a stronger reason for our being prepared at all points than at any former period, for that now the danger was, in his opinion, more imminent than ever; and, therefore, he thought it should not be left as an equivocal sentence, as that of appearance of invasion, or imminent danger thereof: in his opinion, in point of policy, the volunteers should not only understand that they may be put on permanent duty now, if in the opinion of the executive government it was fit they should be so, but also that they should understand, that in the opinion of Parliament, they ought to be so for awhile. Whether this event of invasion was to take place in six weeks, or in six months, or eight months, we should be prepared; and therefore he was of opinion, that they should be assembled, and should march, and be put on pay and permanent duty, where they should agree to do so, for the purpose of their improvement in their military exercise; and lie would insert in the. bill words for the purpose of giving the crown the power of so calling this force out in any pan it might be thought advisable; for he could net help thinking there was reason for going to that extent, and then the volunteers would be under precisely the same regulation, as the militia in that respect, although it might not be. necessary to continue them in that state so long: this he thought necessary to be made matter of provision in the bill, not that the crown had not the power already of inviting the volunteers out on pay and permanent duty, but he thought it would be better that the volunteers should understand it to be the. opinion of Parliament, as well as that of the executive government, that they should be so invited.—He did not know what the right hon. gent, meant upon the subject of the bounty to be given to volunteers on their being called out, whether this bounty was to be extended to all volunteer corps who should be willing to serve for a time, or only to the 24,000 who are assembled and on permanent duty: that 24,000 was a considerable number for an emergency he was willing to admit, but in making a great effort, such as ought now to be made by means of a body of more than 300,000 men, he should hope that many more eight be immediately put in this situation, and he should wish this matter to be explained, hut on this he was not so anxious to say much, provided he was assured that the encouragement of pay was meant to be offered to all volunteers who may wish to profit in their military acquirements: but on the subject of the bounty. as mentioned by the right hon. gent, he doubted whether 676 what was proposed, or rather what was stated, would be satisfactory, or even admissible when it came to be considered. The right hon. gent, said, they were to have pay for 21 days on which they should be on permanent duty, but that the guinea which was to be advanced to them was to be deducted out of the original two guineas intended to be allowed in the event of their going into the field, the one on their proceeding to march, the other on their return home after having expelled the enemy.—Now, that did appear to him to be a very bad system to make them efficient for actual invasion, and inverting the order of things it was adding nothing to what was originally intended to be given, and it was misplacing that which was to be allowed; for it was giving to the men nothing when they were to be most wanted, but taking away all the effect of what was intended to be given, for it was transposing the time, and changing a I gift into that winch was the reverse of it, for by this mode of deducting the guinea out of the two guineas originally intended for each volunteer who shall march to repel I an invasion, he would have nothing on the march, if he had received his guinea on being first embodied; so that when the volunteers ought to be most encouraged, government proposed fresh duty to them instead of bounty, and, therefore, he could not help thinking that this part of the plan, as opened by she right hon. gent, would appear, upon further consideration, such as could not be persisted in. This was only saying, that if an invasion came, 200,000l. might be saved to the country. Now, if we were sure they would return home to enjoy the sight of their families and children secured by their valour and enjoying the thought of that idea, and the still more glorious one, that of their country being secured in triumph, he should hardly think that in the most sober disposition that any man could view economy, he would conceive that the happiness of that day would be much increased by the reflection, that 200,0OOl. had been saved to the country by the scrupulous policy of the executive government, and therefore he hoped that the right hon. gent, would, upon reflection, think this part of his policy hardly worth adhering to; and that when this matter came to be stated in detail in the Committee, there would be a disposition to reconsider it. If the volunteer has had his guinea on being first put on his permanent duty, and that is to be deducted out of his original two guineas, as had been originally stated, he will have nothing on his march against the ene- 677 my; or if having it on his march, he will then have had his two guineas, and he will have nothing on his return home, and therefore he thought this a very indifferent policy. There was, indeed, much wisdom in the policy of the legislature in giving men something that marked its goodwill; and independent of that, it was natural that when men should be called upon on the sudden, to go for a period from their families and homes, they should have the happiness to know, that although they were obliged to go in the service of the country, and leave those of whom they were the natural protectors, yet that what they had already received, and for which their country In d already had their service, would not be deducted out of that which was originally either for their actual march, or their return, that what they may have spent before they marched, and for which their country may already have had their service, will not be taken into the account, but that they shall receive their guinea on their march, and also their guinea on their return home, as if they had received nothing before: lie thought this matter extremely important, so much so, that he should feel it his duty to press it hereafter, if he did not find in ministers a disposition to acquiesce in it. However, there was one thing of which he was extremely glad, which was, to see the disposition shewn by the right hon. gent. on the part of the executive government, to encourage the improvement of discipline; and which, if rightly attended to by the volunteers now, they may acquire more in a few weeks, than formerly they might have been able to acquire in some months-, because, with the knowledge they now possess, improvement, if duly attended to, might be very rapid. He supposed, that when the right hon. gent, mentioned 20 days for the present year, he meant over and above the 21, for which the pay was to be allowed; if so, there would be no difference of opinion between him and the right hon. gent, in that respect, as far as regarded the present year; for, although he wished 40 days, including the days of inspection, yet in this case he should be willing to allow that the 21 should be deemed part of the 40, and lie thought it would be extremely desirable, and becoming the wisdom of Parliament, when this system was to become part of our permanent defence, to put the volunteers for awhile on permanent service, to give them a degree of efficiency which they C3n never otherwise acquire, and this was a subject upon which a very large portion of that House could speak from experience. lie did not believe that any experienced offi- 678 cer in the House, after having looked at this subject with the attention it deserved, would say, that the necessary discipline could be acquired in less than 40 days in the year, and that such attention would be highly beneficial to all the volunteer corps, and of course beneficial to their country, which confided so much in them for its security. When Parliament proposed only 20 days, there might have been reason to guide government to have insisted upon a different course being taken from what they did take. He would remark in passing, that the manner in which that was stated by the right hon. gent, tonight, was not quite consistent with the plan he recommended; for the question now was, what number of days shall, or shall not be allowed for the training and exercising the volunteers? The right hon. gent, had said, it would be better not to provide many of those points by provisions in the bill, but leave much to the discretion of the executive government to judge of the circumstances. Now, this, in the first instance, would have been very well bat, he had a reason, which he would soon state, for not thinking that the executive government ought to have this discretion now. It did not appear to him that the executive government had judged wisely upon this occasion; they seemed to have thought themselves confined to the 20 days, and to give no more time than Parliament gave for this purpose, and that appeared to him to be a very good reason why Parliament should now think I that 20 days are sufficient; nor was there any objection to make provision upon this; head specifically under the present circumstances. When the House was voting a sum of money as a vote of credit, it was usually left to the executive government to judge how much of it should be issued for any particular purpose: yet, when the House came to judge how much money should be allowed for a specific object, is was more regular and constitutional for the House to regulate the mode of effectuating that object; so that when Parliament came 10 vote the money to defray the expense on this matter, it should stale the number of days which shall be occupied for this purpose.—Nor was this at ail entrenching upon the principle by which the other branches of the military service of the country was conducted; he meant that which was in any degree analagous to the present, the militia. In that service, Parliament specified what money (he officers and men should he paid, and also the number of days the privates should be (raised and exercised, and he did not see why Parliament should not be as distinct 679 and specific on the subject of the volunteer service as that of the militia; but this, again, he did not mean to discuss now, he merely threw it out in passing, as a matter fit hereafter to be discussed.—As to the means of instructing the volunteers by field officers and adjutants from the regular service, he threw that out for the consideration of ministers; he did not intend to produce any clause to that effect; but, unquestionably, if he did not see more disposition than had been hitherto shewn by ministers to make some provision for that purpose, he should feel it his duty to bring forward a measure for that purpose for the consideration of Parliament, not by way of clause in any bill, for it would come more regularly by way of address to his Majesty; but he would be satisfied to hear from ministers, that the volunteers should have the benefit of the instruction of officers detached from the line, during the period of permament duty of the volunteers; but he saw an unwillingness in ministers to allow pay to any field officer for thus instructing the volunteers. He should not, at present, go into the ground of that objection. The committee would recollect that the very first day he stated this matter, he accompanied his statement with a declaration, that he did not wish that such officers should be provided for any corps who did not expressly desire to have that species of instruction, and who should actually apply for it, nor did he propose this at all with any view but that of such officers being mere temporary assistants to the commanders of the volunteer corps. Ministers said, that in many instances it was done, and the whole question was a question of expense: it must be desirable that the volunteers should have the best instruction they possibly could have, and, therefore, whether they should be instructed by those who knew but little, or by some who knew nothing of that which it was essential for the volunteers to learn, was a question which he did not know how to argue. Whether it was better to be taught by those who have a perfect knowledge of the thing to be learnt, or by those who knew it imperfectly, or by those who did not know it at all, was a thing which he could not argue, because his mind knew not how to argue that upon which it was unable to conceive the application of an argument, since nothing could be matter of rational argument upon which it was inconceivable how a doubt could be entertained upon it; and, as to the matter of economy, upon a point so essential as that of knowledge for the volunteers, in order to make them efficient in service and most essential to the safety of their 680 country, and when he considered that this economy involved only a question of a few shillings per man, enable such an immense body as the volunteers to be of eminent service to their country, and to with-hold that instruction which could alone make them thus useful, for the sake of saving such few shillings, was a species of economy which did not enter into his understanding. Comprehending it under the head of the general scale of the expenditure of a war like the present, and compared with the general scale of our means of defraying that expenditure, great as that expenditure must be, or considered with reference to our resources, and feeling that this expense may amount to a few thousand pounds, was that which, considering the utility of the measure on the one hand, and the expenditure on the other, he knew not how a representative of the people of this country, bound to adopt measures for their general welfare, could possibly regard as a question. Ministers themselves admitted that this instruction to the volunteers was desirable; but they said there were but few instances, in which the officers so wanted, could be procured; certainly they would be few, if ministers were determined to give them so little encouragement. He knew it was impossible to over-rate the exertions of gentlemen of fortune and distinction in the country, for the purpose of rendering the volunteers as nearly perfect as possible; he knew no limits to their zeal and ardour, but that must be confined to those districts in which they resided, whereas persons of great skill and eminence might be found, who, from a combination of untoward circumstances, had been obliged to give up a career of glory in the profession of arms, from want of a prospect of advancement consistent wish their age or talents, and to retire into the obscurity of a country village, in a stale, if not of penury, certainly far from opulence, who could not transfer 3 family from a distant part of the country to which he had retired for the prudent purpose of that economy that was essential to his existence, into another where his services might be rendered by way of instruction to others, and by which he might renew and rekindle that flame which was only clouded, but not extinguished in his breast by pecuniary disappointment, and add more laurels to his life, if this encouragement were held out to him. This was not an imaginary character that he was drawing, he had an opportunity of knowing several such, one of whom he had an opportunity of serving and of bringing into a state where his talents had been eminently useful.—Having expa- 681 tiated upon this subject, he said, he hoped there was no objection against the volunteers availing themselves of assistance of such immense value as this, in such a crisis as the present. He should be sorry, indeed, if any difficulty should stand in the way of this most important point, upon which, however, he should not say any more at present.—The next point was, that of the appointment of officers of the volunteers, on which the right honourable gentleman agreed it was better not to make any legislative provision; he originally thought so too, and the only doubt with him was, whether something had not been rendered necessary by the point having been so much and so unnecessarily agitated, in order that the authority of the legislature might set the matter at rest.—Upon the subject of signing the commissions of officers in the volunteers, he thought the practice which had hitherto been fallowed, that of giving them all the sign manual, highly objectionable; not only because it was so very laborious, and in its nature productive of unavoidable delay, insomuch that officers were obliged to wait for months for their commissions; but also because the thing was absolutely unnecessary, for they might be under the same regulations as the commissions of the militia, which were signed by the lieutenants of the counties, except in cases to which the crown did not:asaent.—There was another point on which he had the misfortune still to differ from the right hon. gent.: he meant with regard to the propriety of making regulations to discipline volunteer corps by means of parliamentary provision, instead of leaving that matter to the discretion of the executive government, and for regulating their attendance, and taking due care of their arms, &c. He had prepared a clause upon that subject, and which he must still offer, for he would venture to say, it was the general complaint of all officers of volunteer corps, that there were some among them who, not for want of any good will, for that he knew the whole mass of them possessed in something almost equal to perfection, but from those ideas which were inseparable from all men who had not a great deal of experience, did not bestow on the office of a volunteer, that attention which was absolutely requisite to complete that character. There would be husbandmen, and there would be artisans, who would chuse to think that they were soldiers, somewhat sooner than their officers might think them entitled completely to that character; the consequence was, that they would appear only on some shewy day, when but little advantage was to be obtained 682 from the drill. He did not say the volunteers had not done, in general, very well, but of this he was sure, that in one half the time they took up at first they would gain more than double the knowledge, for in this, as in every thing else, it was after some knowledge was painfully gained, that knowledge was easily and rapidly acquired, and without more and fuller attendance, perfection was not to be obtained. He knew it was very popular at present to say that the essence of the volunteer system was to leave every thing to voluntary exertion; that there was no necessity to enact any tiling, that the zeal of volunteers would do every tiling, that there was nothing to fear from their want of discipline. Much of this sort of doctrine might be at present popular, but it was a species of popularity which a man who loved his country, and who gravely considered its true interest, would not seek. He knew the volunteer corps were a body of men open to good sense, and he was of opinion they might easily be persuaded in the bulk to assent to some measures of compulsion, not that they ail needed compulsion to perform their duty, but because some of them did; for it was not unknown to any corps, that there were among them some who were less often at the drill and less attentive when there than others, so that when they did attend they not only manifested their own imperfections, but, from the nature of military exercise, they must of necessity impede the progress of others in their improvement; and then there was some levity to be expected from the age and habits of some of them, so that to his mind moderate compulsion was in a considerable degree essential to their attaining the height of military perfection, of which with attention they were capable. He knew it was more popular to compliment them all, and to say that they wanted nothing, but he thought that pursuing this course without informing a system by which they might be essentially improved, would be the highest imprudence; and here there was more necessity for making some regulations than there had been in the first instance; since Parliament had formerly enacted particular matters positively, and then said that such other rules and regulations should be adopted as to his Majesty should seem meet; thereby evidently conveying an idea, that many things would seem meet to be done by way of rules and regulations which were not specified or pointed out by that law; but to his Majesty's executive government nothing did seem meet to be done beyond the strict provisions of the statute, which amounted to a 683 hint to Parliament, by way of caution, that if they wanted any thing to be done, they must enact it specifically; that if they trust to the executive government to do any thing more than was duly set clown for them, Parliament would be disappointed; therefore, if there were any rules and regulations at all necessary, Parliament must point them out, or they would never be adopted, for which reason he had in his pocket a clause for this purpose, which he should hereafter offer to the House.—There was a declaratory clause in the bill at present, which related to the power of resignation in a volunteer, which, in the present condition of things, required one alteration, and that was, to turn every negative in it into an affirmative declaration. A doubt had been once entertained as to what was intended by the legislature as to the power of resignation of a volunteer; upon the opinion of the most eminent in rank, in the profession of the law not upon the bench, and not more eminent in rank than in talents and abilities, nor more eminent in either, than he was for public virtue, and all those private qualities which render a man justly estimable in life; lie meant his Majesty's attorney general. That learned gent, gave an opinion upon the question of a volunteer's power to resign. Another very distinguished gent, give an opinion directly opposite to it, accompanied with great eloquence, and more solidity of judgment than might have been expected to accompany such diffusive eloquence, and the learned judges of the court of King's Bench determined with the opinion of the latter gent, and held that a volunteer had, by law, a right to resign when he pleased, and without any condition; now this bill was drawn by those who said nothing of any doubt being entertained on this point while the thing was doubtful, who declared that the opinion of the court of King's Bench was so consonant to their wishes as to what the law should be, that if they had not so decided they would have brought in a bill to make the law so. But how did these very persons now declare that law? They now left the day in blank in the bill to be filled up by the committee, and as to the law which the court of King's Bench had decided, saying, that a volunteer might resign in any manner, and when he thinks proper, without any condition, they said, that he shall be able to do under certain conditions, what the court of King's Bench had already decided he might do without any condition whatever—that the person who the court said might resign when he pleased, 684 shall be able to resign within three weeks after he had given notice of his intention—that the point which the court had decided, was doubtful that was to say, that a thing was doubtful after it was decided there was no doubt; that a man might be able to do conditionally, that which the law already enabled him to do without condition. The clause stated, "that whereas doubts have arisen," which should be altered to, "whereas there is no doubt."—The clause stated, "that therefore after three weeks notice he shall be at liberty to resign;" which should be altered to "after three weeks notice he shall not resign."—The right hon. gent, adverted to the assertion so often made, that the ballot lists were dry in particular districts; but this he attributed much more to the unequal distribution of the quotas to be balloted for the militia, &c. than to the extension of the volunteer system. This inequality he was very desirous that some means should be devised to remove. Reverting to the discipline of the volunteers, he took notice of an evil which he describe to exist to a great extent, and which ought to be corrected; namely, the practice of farmers in preventing the men in their employment from attending drill, and also the conduct of the master manufacturers in the great manufacturing towns, practising a similar restraint upon their apprentices, over whom they seemed to conceive that they had the power of preventing them from earning any money unless from their employment. Those were evils against which he would be glad to see some provision made. He concluded with professing his wish to assist in framing any measure to advance the improvement of the volunteer system, declaring that he had no wish to embarrass the progress of the bill before the House, which, on the contrary, he was sincerely anxious to render as perfect as possible.
Mr. Secretary Yorke
stated, that there was a circumstance which he committed I to mention, when he first addressed the committee, and that was, that it was intended to appoint an inspecting field officer to every 2500, or 3000 men, and which field officers, in case of invasion, were to act as brigade generals with the corps under their inspection.—With respect to that part of the bill which regarded the election of officers, although he was of opinion, that it should be generally left to the King's discretion, yet he thought that on many, or, indeed, most occasions, it would be proper to allow the lieutenants of the counties to sign "commissions.—He would trouble the committee with a few words on the declare- 685 tory clause on which so much had been said. No member in that House could entertain a more sacred reverence than be did for the decision of the court of King's Bench; yet, with all the respect that he entertained for it, he would claim the privilege of asserting, that the judgment of that court did not settle the law in general with respect to the volunteer system, although he must allow it did in the particular point which was submitted to it. Besides, the decision of that court was not final, for every member of that House must know, that a writ of error would lie from a judgment pronounced in the court of King's Bench: and where men of great professional eminence and acknowledged reputation differed in their interpretation of a particular statute, the framers of a new bill on that subject would be well satisfied in commencing the preamble of it, with the expression, "whereas doubts have arisen, &c." With respect to that part of the bill which referred to the distribution of the quotas, his idea was, that the lieutenants should make two returns, one as if the volunteers did not exist, and the other specifying the exemptions.
repeated the idea thrown out in his former speech, of the necessity of employing in the volunteer service, as field officer, either persons on half-pay, or persons who had once been in the army, but had retired from it. They would be fully as serviceable as an increased number of subalterns, and would not create any greater expense. Great as the patriotism of those at the head of the volunteer establishment was, it would not be expected that they could go through the permanent drudgery of continual drills. That would only be conducted by officers who, by a moderate and secured pay, were attached to the different corps.
§ Mr. Curwen
objected to many parts of the system, and hoped that apprentices who had been admitted into volunteer corps, would not be taken away from their masters', service, without some allowance in recompense. He disapproved of the practice of levying fines, and recommended an allowance of pay, but for what period he would not take upon himself to suggest, if gent, were still much attached to the practice of fining, he thought all the advantages that were expected from that usage, could be secured by a reasonable deduction from such pay for every non-attendance. The conditions of the services of he different volunteer corps were so various, that he much feared no general code could be formed for the regulations of so diversified and complicated system.
§ Mr. Fuller
could by no means be reconciled to the idea of allowing pay to field officers. With respect to the idea of remunerating the volunteer, which has been so much insisted on, he observed, that a generous public would not hesitate to reward him afterwards. Some of the hon. gentleman's observations created much risibility in the House; but he declared, that attempts to beat him down would be found ineffectual, and that no consideration whatever should prevent him from speaking his mind.—Some explanatory conversation took place between Col. Eyre and Mr. Sec. Yorke, relative to the attendance of the adjutants, serjeant-majors, &c.
§ Sir John Wrottesley
expressed his opinion, that sonic general rule should be laid down which would go to meet, the difficulties complained of. With respect to this, however, he thought the variety of the occupations of the people of this country a disadvantageous consideration. It might, notwithstanding, be found that some degree of military duly would suit every respective description of the inhabitants, and which may be arranged by his Majesty's ministers, with the assistance of, or carried into effect under, the superintendence of general officers.
Mr. C, Wynne
adverted to several remaining details in the system, for which some efficient regulations ought to be established, particularly to the circumstance of farmers' servants being allowed to be called out. He thought some provision should be made with respect to those who may be called out on permanent duty. On these points he thought something more effectual should be brought forward than had been as yet proposed.
Mr. Secretary Yorke
then proposed some farther amendments, which were without discussion ordered to be incorporated in the bill.—The chairman was then ordered to leave the chair, and to report the bill, with the amendments, to the House.—The House resumed, and ordered the report to be now received.—The amendments were then formally agreed to by the House, and, on the motion of Mr. Sec. Yorke, the bill, as amended, was ordered to be printed, and the whole taken into farther consideration on Tuesday next.