HC Deb 12 March 1811 vol 19 cc360-1

Lord Palmerstone moved the Order of the Day for the third reading of the Mutiny Bill.

Mr. W. Smith

expressed his regret that the clause proposed by his hon. friend last night, was not acceded to, and acknowledged that the objections of the right hon. gent. did not appear to him to be conclusive: at the same time he could not let that opportunity pass of expressing his entire satisfaction at the clause introduced by the learned and hon. gent. opposite (Mr. Manners Sutton). He meant that which added to the original Bill the discretionary power to be vested in courts martial, of sentencing either to corporeal punishment, or to that of confinement. He approved of this clause, because he thought that from the hour of its enactment the condition of the soldier became essentially improved. He thought that those who had suggested it, and those who had acted upon that suggestion, were entitled to the thanks of the army, for not only bettering its condition, but exalting its character. He was glad of it upon this ground, also, that he trusted, and confidently too, that it would lead ultimately to the total doing away of corporeal punishment; indeed, there was no obstacle to that desirable object, but those prejudices which must yield in time. When the army consisted but of 18,000 men, the old peace establishment, it might at that period be composed in no small degree of the idler and more dissolute of the lower orders, but now, when it was so increased as to comprehend a great portion of the peasantry of the country, the discipline that might have been fit for the refuse of streets, was by no means necessary to keep in controul men of a different order. He concluded by again expressing his most marked approbation of the clause.

Mr. Macleod

was by no means sure that the clause was so unexceptionable. He wished to know the full meaning of the word "imprisonment," was it confinement in the guard-house simply, or in a gaol, or did it mean in the black-hole merely?

Mr. M. Sutton

thought it better to use the word imprisonment; without limiting the discretion of military regulations, there were barracks and garrisons enough in the country where there could be no difficulty of setting apart a room for that purpose.

Mr. Macleod

said, that in case a guardhouse were the prison, he hoped the imprisonment would be solitary.

Sir T. Turton

approved of the clause.

The Bill was then read a third time and passed.