HC Deb 14 March 1809 vol 13 cc420-1
Mr. R. Ward

moved for leave to bring in the Marine Mutiny Bill. Mr. Calcraft wished to know from the hon. gent. if it was meant to bring in a Bill, connected with the Compassionate List, for the Relief to the Widows of Naval Officers. Mr. Ward replied, that as far as the Office was concerned every thing was ready for that purpose. Leave was then given, and Mr. Ward brought in the Bill. On the motion for its being read a first time,

Sir Charles Pole

said, he was glad to have the opportunity which the introduction of this Bill gave him, to say a few words on that valuable corps, and strange to say, although it now amounted to more than a fourth of the Infantry of the Line, namely 32,000 men, yet its situation and its importance were scarcely known to the house.—He would, first, ask whether it was intended to continue the stoppage of one day's pay for Chelsea hospital? He next wished to make a few observations on the Royal Marine Artillery, which he believed to be in a very neglected state. It had been thought necessary to establish a Corps of this nature in 1804, and most important it might be if properly attended to. He conceived it ought to be augmented, and that every squadron of his Majesty's ships on foreign stations, should be furnished with a company of these Artillerymen and Officers. The advantages of such a measure, as with regard to our islands and colonial service, must be obvious to every thinking man, whether considered for offensive or defensive operations.—He regretted to learn that this Corps was not sufficiently instructed in the use of the Field Artillery, and he strongly recommended that a certain number of young men should be admitted to take their education at Woolwich Academy.—He next adverted to the slow progress of promotion in the Marine Corps. He stated, there were Officers now serving as Captains, who had entered the service in the American War: he conceived an in- crease of Field Officers necessary as an encouragement to that meritorious class of officers.—It might be entering too much into detail in that house to observe, that at each Division of the Marines, the senior Captains were appointed Pay Captains, who actually keep the accounts of 2,000 men, which they at present do without any encrease of pay or remuneration whatever, and it was certain they have been of material benefit to the Corps by their industry and accurate attention to the necessaries of the non-commissioned and private Marine. He thought it advisable that the rank which the Marine Corps should take, when landed, and co-operating with the troops of the Line, should be fixed; he earnestly wished, that the advantages which the country might derive from a proper attention to this valuable portion of the force of the country might be fully discussed.

Mr. R. Ward

said, he could not be supposed to be so well acquainted with this subject as the hon. baronet, but there were some points on which even a civilian might point out an answer to the suggestions. Of the Marine Corps in general, he would premise no man could have a higher opinion than he had, or be more convinced of the services they had rendered, and the gallantry they had uniformly displayed. With respect to the increase of the Marine Artillery, he conceived that could not take place without increasing the force altogether, and converting the Marines into a land army. The hon. baronet had not only not censured, but had commended the present administration for adding to the number of their Field Officers, but complained that they were not yet as numerous in proportion as in the Royal Artillery. It ought to be remembered, however, that Marines on board of ships were not commanded by Field Officers, and as most of them were engaged in that species of service, it was not necessary to have so many Field Officers. As for the age of some of the Captains, he could only say, that as it was a service in which Officers rose by seniority, that could only depend on the length of life of those who preceded them on the list. Into the pay of the Pay Captains he would inquire, and was sure that if for any extraordinary labour, any recompence could be made to them without injury to the service, it would be instantly afforded.—The Bill was then read a first time.