The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose, in pursuance of the notice given by him yesterday, to move for leave to bring in a bill for reducing the militia of Ireland, and enabling them to enlist into the regiments of the line, artillery and royal marines. The general arguments in favour of this measure had been so fully discussed upon a similar question, with regard to the English and Scotch militia, that it was not necessary now to dwell upon them. The arguments, as far as they related to general policy, applied with greater force to the militia of Ireland. The militia of Ireland stood on a different ground from that of England. The plan for lowering it did, not bear a greater proportion than it ought; but it was also to be considered, that in Ireland there was a greater facility in gaining an acquisition to such a description of force as the militia, than there was in this country. His plan was not to take from the militia more than two-fifths. The zeal and ability of the commanders would, he was persuaded, soon place the militia regiments on the same footing they now stood. It was not necessary to trouble the house with any of the details at present. He concluded by moving "for leave to bring in a bill for allowing a certain proportion of the militia in Ireland voluntarily to enlist into his majesty's forces of the line, artillery, and marines."
§ Sir John Newport
was of opinion, that the militia system, however advantageous it might be to England, was injurious to Ireland, and he could therefore wish to see it abolished in that country in toto. He nevertheless highly disapproved of the measure proposed by the right hon. gent. Ireland was, he believed, justly considered the most vulnerable part of the empire; and was it prudent, at present, to deprive it of a considerable portion of its disciplined force for the purpose of substituting a parcel of new recruits, whom it would require two or three years properly to train? He was not a militia officer; he never had been one; nor was it likely he ever should 159 be one; and therefore he might, without any suspicion of interested motives, express his sympathy with that respectable body in the mortification they must feel in losing so many men, whom they had been at such pains to instruct, and in being degraded to the situation of recruiting officers for the regular army.
§ Lord De Blaquiere
approved the bill. Many people thought, that the Irish militia would be better employed any where than in their own country. He did not like to hear the gentlemen of Ireland talked of as crimps, and recruiting serjeants.
§ Sir John Newport
rose to order. He had and never made use of the word crimp; what he said related to officers.
§ The Speaker
informed the hon. baronet, that what he was now stating was in explanation, and not on a point of order. He could not rise in explanation, until the noble lord concluded his speech.
§ Lord De Blaquiere ,
resuming, observed, that his hon. friend and himself would have many opportunities to talk over these things. The words of the hon. baronet, amounted, in their effect, to those he had used. He would be the last in the world to impute to any man sentiments that he did not entertain, or put in his mouth words that he had not uttered. He denied that the bill could have the effect to degrade the Irish gentlemen. He thought it a good, substantial measure.
§ General Tarleton ,
adverting to the opinion of the hon. baronet, that it would require two or three years to train the recruits who should fill up the chasm that this bill would produce in the militia of Ireland, took occasion to remark, that the result of his own experience, and that of many other officers with whom he was acquainted was, that an Irishman was much more easily disciplined than a native of any other part of the united kingdom, and therefore he was certain that a much less time would be found necessary to bring these recruits to the same state as that in which the old militia stood, than was supposed by the hon. baronet.
was apprehensive that the marine service was considered preferable to that of the line, most of the men volunteering, would wish to enlist in the marines, an event which would defeat the grand purpose of the measure.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
replied, that this would not be at the option of the men. The act gave his majesty a discre- 160 tionary power to allow which regiments he should think fit to volunteer for each service.
§ Colonel Calcraft
thought this quite a distinct measure from that with respect to the English Militia; as, in point of fact, the Irish Militia had nothing but the name of militia belonging to them. They were not raised by ballot, but by bounty; and if the Irish gentlemen were willing to become recruiting officers for the army, he saw no reason why the motion of the right hon. gent. should be resisted by the house.
§ Sir George Hill
supported the motion, and panegyrised the character of the Irish Militia officers. Their conduct and that of the Irish gentlemen in general, who by their own subscriptions raised the militia and kept the country safe, without any contribution from those absentees whose lands they thus defended, was, in his judgment, entitled to peculiar praise. Considering the conduct of the Irish militia who, to a man, volunteered last year to serve in any part of the united kingdom, and the public-spirited feeling of their officers, he could not help saying that he, was much astonished at the selfishness exhibited last year, as well as in the whole course of the debates of the present week, with respect to the English militia.—After a few words from Lord Temple, Mr. Alexander, and. Mr. Calcraft, the motion was agreed to.—The bill was afterwards brought in, read a first, and ordered to be read a second time on Monday.