HC Deb 02 May 1808 vol 11 cc100-17
Lord Castlereagh,

in rising to move the order of the day for the second reading of the Local Militia bill, thought it might be for the convenience of the house, and tend to save time, that he should take that opportunity of apprizing gentlemen of a few alterations which he meant to propose in the committee upon the bill. The alterations he had in view bore so directly and so much upon the general principle of the bill, that he was inclined to suppose they would, when explained, narrow considerably the limits of any discussion upon that head. The first alteration which he meant to propose, he adopted in consequence of its having been thought desirable that the measure under consideration should contain a proviso for the exemption from its operation of persons who had actually served in the militia, either personally or by substitute, or who had incurred any penalties in consequence of the militia acts. In framing his bill, he had followed the principle of the Training bill of the right hon. gent, opposite (Mr. Windham), which looked to personal service, and extended to all not actually serving in some other force. It was thought, however, desirable to allow persons of the description to which he had alluded, an immunity equivalent to that which they enjoyed under the militia laws, and for that purpose a certain number of years was fixed upon as the period of exemption, rather than an indefinite time.—The next point upon which he proposed an alteration was, to enable Volunteer corps that might be disposed to serve as local militia rather than as volunteers, to change the nature of their service: and on this head it was to be expressly provided, that no decision of a majority of any corps should bind those, either officers or men, who might be indisposed to the change of service, to serve in the local militia contrary to their own wish. The clause he had to propose, therefore, would provide for allowing the officers of such volunteer corps to hold Commissions in the local militia, and enable his majesty to dispense with the qualifications in such officers required by the militia laws, and by this bill. It was also to provide for the transfer of the services of the privates of such corps from the volunteer force to the local militia.—Another clause he meant to propose, was to enable persons, whose circumstances might oblige them to transfer their residence from one county to another, to transfer also their services from the local militia of one county if they should be serving in it, to the local militia of the other. He had also a clause to propose, which would contain a provision for granting the same facilities of support to the families of persons in the local militia, whose labour was necessary for the support of their families, as were at present enjoyed by volunteers of the same description, when they went out on permanent duty. This would not bring any burthen upon the parishes, because, though, as in the case of volunteers, the charge would in the first instance be advanced by the parish, it was afterwards to be refunded by the receiver general of the county. He was not aware of any other point which it was necessary for him to state to the house, but one general regulation, which he had always in his contemplation, and of which he was sure the house would readily perceive the expediency, namely, to place these corps, when called out, under the superintendance of officers of the line. Every gentleman must instantly be aware of the important advantages, in point of practical and professional improvement, that must result from the adoption of such an arrangement. Having thus explained the nature of the alterations which he meant to introduce into the bill in the committee, he should now move the order of the day for the second reading of the bill.

Mr. Whitbread

expressed his hope that in the committee the noble lord would introduce some clause to remedy the gross injustice suffered by those who were serving by substitute in the army of reserve, and had since been ballotted into the militia, and obliged to serve in person. There were several who had expended the fruits of all their earnings in providing a substitute in the army of reserve, at the expence of forty or fifty guineas, and who having afterwards been drawn for the militia, had not the means of procuring another substitute, and were consequently obliged to serve personally. These were comparatively few in number, but it was extremely desirable and just, that they should be allowed to withdraw from the militia. In his county persons of that description had not been subjected to the ballot, because it had been thought that it had never been intended by the legislature. He hoped therefore, that the noble lord would provide for this case of hardship in the committee, because a clause to that effect would come much better from him or his friends than from any other member.—The question being now put, that the bill be read a second time,

Sir James Hall

said, there never was a period in the history of this country, wherein any man could have a better opportunity to immortalize his name than by the establishment of an efficient system of defence and security, menaced as we were by the combined hostilities of united Europe, urged on by the ambition and resentments of a too successful and implacable foe. He clearly saw that the object of the noble lord in the present bill was to repair that breach in the national strength, occasioned by a decay in the volunteering spirit of the people, by which he was compelled to the necessity of adopting the only means of organizing the whole physical strength of the country, namely, that of raising a force by ballot. It was very possible the bill might not be every thing which could be wished; but he approved of the principle; and if nothing better could be offered, he should give this bill his support. It was possible in the committee to make many amendments, and supply any defects which the bill in its present form might probably present.

Colonel Shipley

could not let this bill pass, even in this stage, or in any other, without entering his decided protest against its objects. It was remarkable enough, that in these times, when changes of ministry were so frequent, that every successive change was the parent of a new military system. Whatever might have been the merit of other systems, he could see in this neither an accession of strength to the country, nor of advantage to the army. Its only object seemed to be art increase of influence to ministers, unnecessary and unmerited. Little, indeed, did it consider the dignity or the comfort of the soldiery! To the system produced last year, he had the pleasure to give his unqualified approbation. It gave no influence to government; it flung no disgrace on the military, but brought advantage to both, without compromising the dignity of cither. To the author of that system (Mr. Windham) every tribute was due, and he hoped the army would ever hold in proper estimation their eloquent and decided advocate. His plan had given general satisfaction, and created lively hopes; and it was scandalous that motives of malignant jealousy should blast those hopes, without giving their object even a trial. He said, the expence attendant on the execution of this bill was one reason for his opposing it, and the oppression it encouraged was another. Added to this, he could see no one good effect which it would produce; nor could all the eloquence of the noble lord persuade him, that soldiers (miscalled such) could be fitted for essential service in 28 days. It was impossible even to drill tolerable recruits in that time. The scheme proposed was radically bad, because it employed compulsion to effect what could be effectual only when it was voluntary. The expence, too, he thought a great objection, as it was unattended by any advantage; it appeared, this Militia was to be armed at the expence of government; a permanent pay, and a permanent staff kept up, and all for no benefit. As if that was not enough too, the Volunteers were to have rewards given them for transferring themselves to the Militia, and were thus unnecessarily taken from a post in which they were of essential service. Little regard as it had to economy, it had still less to humanity. It went to drag the peasant from his home, from his farm, from the family who looked to him for support, and who were now left to perish unpitied, or procure a wretched subsistence gleaned from the scanty pittance of casual compassion. But the noble lord seemed to think that it would accelerate the recruiting for the regulars. What! did he suppose that system could benefit any particular part of a body, on the whole of which it cast degradation and contempt? Did he suppose that men could ever look on servility with a favourable eye? His general opinion of the bill he had now given pretty fully, but he could not sit down without remarking a few particularly obnoxious clauses. It was intended by the bill, that the same qualifications should be required for this part of the military as for the old militia; this he could not help considering as particularly absurd, because it was so notorious a defect in the present militia, that he would venture to say there were very few colonels of regiments who were not in want of some officers, owing to the deficiency of qualifications in those applying for commissions. If, then, a difficulty was found in supplying so comparatively small a number, how did the noble lord suppose so large a number could be officered under the same disadvantages? He deprecated severely the prohibition of substitutes. It was foolish to make people serve who were unwilling, when they could find men to serve voluntarily; and it was cruel to compel those to act with whose interests it might effectually interfere. Compulsion, however, was the principle of the bill, and compulsion was also the principle of ministers; violence was their prime and actuating principle; they supported commerce by throwing every impediment in its way; they exalted the army by conscription and by infamy; they raised England by depressing the spirit of her people; and conciliated Ireland by putting bigotry in office, and decking out intolerance in laurels! He was aware of the disadvantage under which any minister would labour now who presented a new military plan, and he certainly would not rise to throw any impediment in his way, if he thought it was about to originate any one advantage to the country. Whoever took a review of the two last years progress, would be amazed that two administrations so different, could govern the same nation; one administration endeavouring to conciliate, the other to coerce the country; one rising on the good wishes and approbation of the people, the other affecting to despise them. He said if he saw any one advantage likely to result to the nation from this bill, it should have met his support; but seeing the very opposite effect, he deprecated and condemned it.

Mr. J. Smith

was happy to find that the only substantial objection that could be urged against the bill was removed by the amendments proposed by the noble lord this night. He had been always a decided friend to the volunteer system. He was sorry the volunteers were not engaged for the war, as they might have been at its commencement. It remained now to apply the best remedy to the error then committed; and this measure was the remedy most efficacious, as it would go directly to make up for the falling off that must take place in a pure volunteer force after the urgency of the immediate call for their service should have ceased to operate with its original influence. He denied that the bill could with propriety be called a conscription, or that there was any thing oppressive in the nature of the service required.

Mr. Herbert

(of Kerry) saw nothing exceptionable in the bill, which he had read over with attention. The magnitude of the dangers with which the country was threatened required the exertion of all the powers of the empire for our defence; and this measure contained no more severity than the time required. The noble lord had made one material omission, which, however, might yet be remedied. The empire was indebted to the noble lord for the great measure of the Union; but that great measure was still imperfect, while there was not an unity of defensive force between the united kingdoms. It would be a measure worthy of the noble lord who had combated in the foremost ranks to effect the Union, to remedy that imperfection, and to render the great work complete. The hardship of the more distant removal from home would be reconciled by the urgency of the case, and would be but an addition to the alterations and improvements that had already been made on the original constitution of the militia. He was anxious that the bill should go to a committee, and hoped that the amendment he suggested would be made in that stage.

Sir Francis Burdett

agreed that the noble lord was the fittest person to originate such a measure as that now before the house. But the hon. gent, who spoke last, did not seem aware of what that measure would subject the country to. In former times, when the army was so composed that it could not be kept in order without extreme severity, it might have been right to enact and to enforce that military code, the penalties of which were now the exclusive disgrace of the British army and the British nation. But at the present time, when so great an amelioration had taken place in the discipline and composition of our military force, it was no longer excusable to continue those penal enactments; and, certainly, he should pause before he would give his consent to commit the whole people of England to what was dishonourable, and pernicious to the army itself. He had no objection to a conscription, in the full force of the word. He could never consider it a hardship on a man to be called upon to defend his home and his coun- try, or to qualify himself for that necessity. It was not on that ground, therefore, that he had any objection to this measure. But, before he could consent to subject the British people to any general call of this nature, he would call for an amendment in the military code. He could never allow the British people to be subject to a disgrace, for which Britons were particularly unfit, he meant the lash. He would never give his consent to have the British people lashed. It was in this part of the measure, however, that the fitness of the noble lord to be its proposer was particularly felt. Experience had shewn, that the noble lord was the fittest man in the world to submit a whole people to the lash. He allowed, for it was the opinion of the ablest military men, that the immense power of France, directed by the ablest and most experienced leader modern Europe had seen, was sufficient to impress the necessity of calling forth our whole physical strength to meet the threatened danger. If any fair and honourable mode of drawing forth this exertion had been made, he should have been ready to give it his support. But the measure now before the house, though perfect for every purpose of disgrace, was impotent in the view of strength. He was astonished that any man should presume to interfere in the government of this country, with so little experience, as to bring forward for the main defence of the nation, a measure so inconsistent with the constitution and genius of the people, and with every principle of common sense. The French government had now under its controul, nearly 100 millions of people. It had the command of all the ports of the continent, and might soon have fleets in various quarters, equal at least in number to ours. In these circumstances, this country could not rest its safety on any thing but an armed population. The British nation should be in a state to feel no alarm, even if it had not a ship on the sea. He was not dissatisfied that the people should be made an armed people. What he was anxious for was, that measures should issue from that house of a nature to inspire the people with enthusiasm, and to animate them to general exertion. He would not, however, give up the people to be flogged. He would not allow Britain to be a flogged nation. When individual soldiers voluntarily sold themselves into that situation, it was a sufficient shame to the country that permitted such an abuse; but he would not allow the people to be brought into that condition by compulsory enactment. The burthen of unmitigated personal service he left out of his consideration this night, because it was absorbed in the paramount importance of the other points. We had seen all the nations of Europe, with armies composed as ours were, fall before France. The greatest military powers of the continent, from relying on mere mercenary armies had been, as it were, trodden down and walked over by France, without resistance, He was aware that the constitution of this country placed every man at the disposal of the king, to be placed in the station in which he would be most wanted to resist the enemy in case of invasion. He objected not to this; but he wished, by the abolition of the disgraceful penalties attached to the condition of a British soldier, to make the situation such as a British freeman might, without impropriety, be placed in. The fatality with which neglects, such as were now to be complained of in this country, were attended to monarchs less consummately virtuous, than ours, ought to teach us the duty of doing every thing incumbent on us to secure a life so precious. He therefore begged his majesty's ministers to be cautious how they proposed measures of general defence, clogged with obligations dishonourable to any nation, but particularly inconsistent with the characteristic and constitutional freedom of Britons. Unless this measure should be amended in the committee; and unless a general amendment should be made, by omitting the obnoxious penalties from the Mutiny act, he should be under the necessity of giving it his decided opposition in the latter stages. He lamented that every thing that was clone by the British government, was calculated to give an idea that the nation was hastening to its fate. A short time ago, a great measure was brought, forward for the general and permanent support of the army. That measure was scarcely allowed to commence its operation, when it was altered, and in substance repealed. There was nothing but vacillation in our councils. In the present administration, nothing was brought forward but measures of mere temporary convenience, and immediate practical policy, measures that stamped their authors as mere journeymen. There was nothing like those great principles by which alone nations could flourish, and from which no nation aver departed without involving its own rain. Having entered his protest against the measure, on these most important points, he would reserve his further observations to a future stage of the bill.

Colonel Wood

vindicated the military code of this country, which he pronounced to be the most lenient in Europe. It had been contended that the present plan was unpopular, and calculated to increase the influence of ministers: this he thought a contradiction in terms. He could not understand how a measure could give ministers influence, and be at the same time unpopular.

Mr. Whitbread

could easily remove the difficulty which the hon. gentleman had, of conceiving how any thing that would give patronage could be unpopular. Measures of taxation, for instance, were extremely unpopular, yet no measures were attended with more extensive patronage in the appointment of collectors, &c.; and even that patronage was felt as one of the greatest hardships annexed to them. His hon. friend behind him (Mr. Herbert) had complimented the noble lord opposite on his gallantry in fighting in the foremost ranks for the Union, and conquering the opponents of that measure. His hon. friend ought, however, to have recollected, that one of the greatest conquerors of antiquity asserted, that he would take any town into which he could get room for an ass laden with gold to enter. That this was the sort of agency employed in the conquest for which his hon. friend gave the noble lord so much credit, he had the authority of the Irish chancellor of the exchequer for believing. It was strange that the noble lord, who was formerly foremost in defence of the Volunteers, and who for that purpose imputed expressions to his right hon. friend which he had never made use of, should now bring forward a measure which went to absorb them altogether. For if that was not the object of the present measure, he could not see what it was good for. The noble lord regarded the Volunteers as an ancient orator did a great but dangerous political character of his time: laudandi, ornanditollendi. The noble lord had praised and ornamented the Volunteers, and now he came to destroy them. The Training act, which the noble lord shewed he did not understand, in-as-much as he conceived it was to be executed by the constable, was evidently the original from which the noble lord derived this measure. The recruiting of the army would have been regularly and permanently provided for, if the noble lord had suffered the measure of his right hon. friend fairly to operate. But the noble lord would nave a volunteering from the Militia, which had indeed been successful, as nobody doubted it would be, but had been attended with most oppressive consequences from the general operation of the ballot to supply the deficiency the volunteers had left after them. The multiplication of the ballot by the present measure would extend the hardship still farther. He would venture to say, that when it should come to be tried, the number of men required could not be found between the ages of 18 and 35. It would, besides, be attended with the most ruinous effect on the morals and industry of the young men, whom it was proposed principally to subject to the ballot, to take them away for 28 days from their homes, and to send them back depraved and corrupted, to communicate the baleful effects of their campaign around the neighbourhood. The expence of converting the Volunteers into Local Militia was enormous, and when compared with that of his right hon. friend's great measure which had been so much complained of, it would be found to be much more considerable. Still he wished the measure should go into a committee, in order that it might be corrected as much as possible by the noble lord and by others. With respect to the interchange of Militia, that was a measure too important to be implicated in any other. Would to God the Irish were not left under the necessity of coming to England to learn what would attach them to the British constitution and connection! Would to God the government of the day were sensible of the justice and wisdom of attaching and inspiring the Irish nation by conciliatory measures! Then there would be no occasion for such an interchange. He wished to avoid, on this occasion, the discussion of the severe punishments contained in our military code. He always believed the English were good and humane officers, and that they mitigated, by their moderation and lenity, the rigour of the law. Such be knew was the impression of the men, both by sea and land; they always preferred being tried by their officers, to being tried by their comrades.

Mr. Wilberforce

began with lamenting that the country did not seem awake to the perils by which it was surrounded. Neither in nor out of parliament could he find that there was a sense adequate to the greatness of the dangers which impended over us. We had, it was true, seen these dangers increasing for a long time; we had been accustomed to consider them so much, and they became, in some measure, so familiar to us, that, seeing they were never realized, we were too apt to treat them with a contempt they did not deserve. Some years ago, there was a stronger disposition in the country than at present, to adopt measures necessary for its safety, and yet the power of France was nothing then compared with what it was at this moment. He could in no way explain this phenomenon, except upon that principle of confidence arising from the presumed extinction of the naval power of France. Sheltered behind our wooden walls, as they were called, we seemed to deride the dangers by which we were threatened. But this was a security, upon which implicit reliance was not to be placed. The most experienced military characters allowed that it was possible for the enemy to land a large force, in more parts than one of the country. To oppose any attempt of this kind, we should always have such a military force on foot, as would preclude the enemy from the possibility of success. We should possess such a species of internal force as might operate as a discouragement to descent, and make success, humanly speaking, impossible. When nations endeavoured to overthrow each other, their chief instruments were regular armies, but on such occasions the power assailed had a very great advantage over the assailant. The former, in addition to its regular force, might avail itself of its population, in the same manner as, in a siege, the commander would sometimes call the inhabitants to his assistance in the defence of the place. Considering the strength and acrimony of the enemy with whom we had to contend, we should neglect nothing which might conduce to our security. The whole population of the country should, as far as possible, be trained to the use of arms; and here it might be said, the plan of his noble friend did not come up to his ideas. He regretted that it did not. The principle and foundation of the measure was good, but it was not sufficiently spacious or comprehensive. It was desirable that a great part of the population should be put into such, a degree of training, as would qualify it to be incorporated with the regular army in case of exigency, and that we should have at the same time a great regimented force. This, as well as he understood it, was the principle of his noble friend's plan, which, he was sorry to find, it was not his intention to carry to the extent which he himself thought necessary. Perhaps, however, when it should come to be farther developed, it might be made to come nearer to the system he had taken the liberty of recommending. He could not help regretting that his noble friend did not feel himself warranted to call upon the people to come forward in their own defence; to remind them of the victories and triumphs of their ancestors; to represent to them the imminent and hourly increasing dangers with which they were threatened; and, by a vigorous appeal to their patriotism and their spirit, to rouse them to rush forward to defend and uphold the liberties, the honour, the interest, and the security of the country. The plan, however, as far as it went, met his entire approbation, He also approved highly of the plan of defence proposed by another noble lord (the earl of Selkirk), and wished it was carried into effect. The volunteers were not interfered with by the present measure, which went only to provide a supply in the event of their falling off. Every one who had considered the subject allowed the difficulty of keeping up a great standing army in time of peace. It therefore became necessary to have a large subsidiary force, which might, if necessary, be easily transferred to the regulars. A varied force was fittest for this country, all the branches of which would act with common emulation. He trusted parliament would provide a defence adequate to the exigency; and that long contemplation of the danger would not cause it to be undervalued. The enemy had no longer powerful nations to dread; the loss of an army was less material to him, and he was less exposed to revolt at home. These were all additional temptations to undertake the enterprise against us. But our great, free population, if government and parliament would avail themselves of them, afforded ample means to render attack hopeless, and peace secure.

Mr. Windham

vindicated himself and his friends from the imputation of under-rating the danger of invasion. He could, however, remember a period of danger, the year 1798, when the hon. gent, who brought the charge (Mr. Wilberforce) had been mainly instrumental in forcing on the minister at that time (Mr. Pitt) a measure which put the government of this country in a course entirely new, and to which the disasters that had befallen Europe, were in a great degree to be attributed. This he said to vindicate the memory of that great man from at least one of the errors that in many instances were groundlessly charged upon him. At present the danger seemed to be so far thought of, that something was to be done to meet it; but it seemed to be thought matter of indifference what that something should be. His objection to the present measure was not that it went to do too much, or that it was too burthensome, but that it was in its nature inefficient. He wished to strip the measure of its feathers, and to shew it in its natural size. The proposed measure would be attended with vast expence, with a general disturbance of the occupations of private life, patronage without end, and a great contamination of public morals. The measure was bulky, but he wished to ascertain its substantial size. What would all the tinsel burn for? what weight of solid gold did it contain? We were told of 500,000 men in arms; but we had both the men and the arms before. The enrolling, too, was provided for by the Training act, to the amount of 200,000 men, or more if necessary. The training was to have been for 24 days, now it was to be for 28, and the men were to be incorporated into companies, regiments, or battalions. This last, in fact, was the only point in which the noble lord's splendid measure differed from its barren predecessor. This was a loss instead of a gain; but even if it was a gain, it would be too dearly purchased at the expence of all the money, vexation, corruption, and patronage, that would attend it. The noble lord seemed to think that by putting military clothes on men, he could make them soldiers, and that upon getting the regimental tailors to put on red, white, and blue facings, he could establish an army at pleasure. This was, however, a false idea; it was notorious that it was by regular troops opposed to irregular, that France had conquered and Europe had been subdued. He asserted from the best authority, that the men thus trained could not without the danger of certain defeat be brought to act with regiments of the line in the day of battle. He proposed that the men, when trained, should be used as a great reserve, to be brought gradually into the line to repair the losses that might arise. It was not merely to supply the incidental falling off of the Volunteers that the present bill was brought forward. There was a circular letter to stop the increase of the Volunteers. The idea of binding the volunteers to compulsory service was too ridiculous to be heard with patience. He had, on a former occasion, recommended to the militia and volunteers, a Spanish proverb which says, 'defend me from my friends, and I will defend myself against my enemies.' It turned out in fact, that both Volunteers and Militia suffered more from their friends opposite, than from him who was called their enemy. He proposed that the Volunteers coming forward after a certain time, should serve without pay; and he believed, that was the object of the noble lord's proposition on this head now. The noble lord thought he did a great deal when he made a great bustle. Or rather, he wished to appear to do something, and for that purpose set about undoing what was already done. His plan had been to increase the army by rendering the condition of the soldier attractive to the respectable population. The noble lord proceeded, not by raising the situation of the soldier to the condition of the people, but by debasing the people to the level of the soldier. He contended, that besides the bad effects of 28 days licence, under officers having no controul, many persons who had nobody to attend to their daily business in their absence would be ruined. On a former occasion he recommended a general fine; for the liberty of getting substitutes had before raised the bounty to an enormous height. It was an oppressive feature of the present bill, that it prevented the alleviation of the burthen that might fall on the individual, by insurance. If the bill was allowed to operate in its present state, thousands must be crushed under it like grubs; and all this mischief was to be incurred to indulge the noble lord in an army of red coats and breeches. It was very absurd to accuse him and his friends of want of regard for the interest of the country, because they attempted to correct the faulty measures proposed by his majesty's ministers. He, on the contrary, thought the country was strengthened by pointing out and correcting these weaknesses. It was said, the Volunteers had no objection to be converted into Local Militia, if their officers were enrolled in their respective ranks. He objected much to this general enrolment without any regard to qualification. It was no recommendation to him that the magistrates approved of the bill, not even that the deputy lieutenants, or the lords lieutenant approved of it, considering who had the appointment of the lords lieutenant, and the recent appointment the noble secretary had made of a person connected with himself, and wholly unconnected with that county, to be lord lieutenant of the county of Norfolk. The number of officers, and clerks of division, and subdivision, which this measure would require, would extend the influence of government, or that of those upon whom government had influence, throughout the country. The mischief of this influence was, not only that it corrupted the public mind extensively, but also that it unsettled it still more. He appealed to all who had ever filled offices with patronage annexed to them, whether the effect of seeing a friend or a neighbour provided for by a place, was not to lead away many others from the slow advantages of industry, and to inspire them with a desire of the same easy provision. How extensively would this bill operate in this way, providing every where so many employments, at the disposal of those who were at the disposal of government. The noble lord never wished his stream to flow through a dry and sterile soil; he generally took care to direct it through lands flowing with ministerial milk and honey. When the noble lord travelled through the country, he liked to have comfortable stations on his right and on his left to bait at. He left the house and the country to consider whether the noble lord's dressed soldiers with their military coats and breeches, facings and flat hers, and bands of music, had at such expence and with so much vexation, with the disturbance of the occupations and the injury of the morals of the people, with the unlimited patronage annexed, was to be preferred to his system of training, which without any derangement of industrious occupations and moral habits rendered the men equally effective. He would not take up more of the time of the house at present, but reserve himself for the future stages of the bill.

Lord Castlereagh

replied shortly to the several objections made against the bill. He had been taxed, he said, with having borrowed a great part of the materials from the plan of the right hon. gent. (Mr. Windham), and he was free to own, that in some instances that might be the case. He was by no means ashamed of borrowing any idea from the right hon. gent., as he was extremely desirous to give the country every possible advantage which it could derive from the talents of the right hon. gent. in military improvements, and as he was at the same time equally desirous to save the country from every possible expence, without recurring to the system of substitution. He was, therefore, not a little surprised, that the right hon. gent. should be so sore at his having adopted a favourite child of his own. He concurred with his hon. friend behind him (Mr. Wilberforce), that it was necessary the country should know the extent of the danger of the present moment, and the extreme necessity there was of guarding effectually against it; and for that purpose, that our present existing force should be of a permanent nature. It was evident, that the enemy was now possessed of such an extent of coast as required much more extensive and effectual measures to guard against his future attacks. He had formerly brought down his troops to Boulogne, and from thence alone had threatened us with an attack; but he was now possessed of the port of Flushing, and that was a point from which he might severely annoy us, and against which it behoved us to be particularly and adequately prepared. We had now not less than 200,000 effective men, rank and file, of regular force, taking together our Army and Militia: we could not add more than 50 or 60,000 men in the usual course, and how, then, were we to obtain such a number as would answer the purpose of acting with the regular army? He was convinced the mode proposed by the right hon. gent, of training men by the exercise of 24 days, was not likely to make them such soldiers as would be able to stand against the French troops whenever they might arrive in this country. He was, therefore, desirous to make the most advantageous provision that the nature of the case would admit of. If we could not have the best, we must take the next best; and if we could not have the required force out for the whole time that might be wished, we must take them for such a length of time as the circumstances of the country would allow. He could by no means see how this kind of force proposed to be raised by this bill was so inadequate as had been represented. It very nearly approximated to the force proposed to be raised by the General Training act of the right hon. gent., and the house could not but recollect there was a time when that right hon. gent, placed his trained force second only to the regular army. He had repeatedly entertained the house with the great effect which an armed peasantry must produce in the field by firing on the enemy from concealed places, in a country, the situation of which they were so much better acquainted with than the enemy could be; and he believed, if gentlemen would carefully examine this bill, and compare it with the General Training act of the hon. gent, they would find that the only material difference between them was as to the mere number of days of training. If the right hon. gent, would allow that the Volunteers had any merit at all, and if the Volunteers would consent to give their services for a certain time, and would agree to be trained not only in time of war but of peace, they could not fail to become a force of the most inestimable value to the country. These, and the Local Militia raised from the coast counties, would create a force of 330,000 men for England only, and taking in Ireland and Scotland, we should have an effective force of 400,000 men, in addition to the 200,000 regular and militia forces; and in order to procure this, he thought it adviseable to put the right hon. gent.'s plan in force, certainly not to the extravagant amount he had intended, but in certain proportions in every regiment, such as should answer the purpose on a smaller scale; and though he did not mean to say that this might not be extended at a future time, he thought every thing had been done at present which the nature of the service and the circumstances of the country required. The right hon. gent. had said a great deal about the patronage of the Bill: for his own part, he did not see it in that light at all; lean as he was, he was sure if he never fattened more than on the patronage of this Bill, he must remain the same slender figure he then was to the end of his days. A great cry had been set up against this bill, by comparing it to the measure of conscription; but there certainly was no ground for that comparison, and he had no doubt, but the good sense of the people of this country would relieve them from all alarm on that head, when they seriously considered the bill. As to the observations of the hon. baronet, (sir F. Burdett), he did not consider them as detracting much from the value of the proposed plan, and he Sloped the good sense of the country would secure the people from giving in to the opinion of that hon. baronet, as to the degradation of the military service. He should reserve the further discussion till the bill was committed, when he hoped to be able to prove that the proposed force could be obtained on better terms than could have been expected under the plan of the right hon. gent, opposite.—The bill was then read a second time.