HC Deb 17 May 1811 vol 20 cc200-2
Mr. Secretary Ryder

brought up the Militia Interchange Bill. On the question that it be read a first time;

Earl Temple

lose, and apologised for so unusual a proceeding as that of opposing the first reading of a Bill; bur the principle of the present Bill was so hostile to every feeling of his mind, that his opposition to it could not be removed by any subsequent modification of the provisions of the Bill itself. He should even have opposed the motion for leave to bring in the Bill, had he not been kept from the House by the illness of a near relation. He objected to the Bill, first, because it involved in its consequences a direct breach of faith with the Milita, inasmuch as the Militia had enlisted for service confined to the soil [here Mr. Secretary Ryder intimated across the table, that with respect to those already in the Militia the interchange would be altogether optional.] This mode, though not so objectionable, was yet, in the opinion of the noble lord, one that ought not to be adopted. It would put the officers at the mercy of the men; for, according as the men determined in that country so must the officers. This Went to affect the first principle of subordination. Another objection was, that if one pan of a regiment volunteered, and the other did not, there would be two distinct services; the evils of which were obvious. He further objected to the measure upon a constitutional ground. The Militia was a species of military force, that might be said to be independent of the crown: it was a force independent of the Standing Army. Besides it might deprive the service of the talents the ablest of the Militia officers; and without meaning any thing invidious, it could not be forgotten that it was a different thing to an English country gentleman to go over to Ireland, and to an Irish country gentleman to come over here with his regiment, where he must have come at ail events to attend his parliamentary duties.—He like-wise objected to the measure, because it would destroy the means now resorted to of recruiting the regular army. The Militia had of late years been a kind of preparation for the regular service. The effect of the proposed interchange would, however, he, to render necessary a higher bounty to recruits for the militia, as the nature of their service was to be extended. A great burden would also be imposed on the counties by the necessity of providing for the wives and families of those Militia men, who left their respective islands. It was a bad return for the sacrifices which the Militia officers had always been so ready to make, to propose a measure of such an injurious nature.

Mr. Secretary Ryder

defended the Bill from the imputation of a breach of faith. That tie Militia was a constitutional force which ought to be revered, and to the feelings of which the greatest attention ought to be paid, he was most willing to admit; but he denied that it was independent of the crown, or that any officers of the Militia could be appointed without having the royal approbation. He denied also that the proposed measure would have the effect of disuniting the officers and the men. They were both put on the same footing. He did not believe that many Militia officers would be induced to quit the service in consequence of the proposed interchange; but he was prepared to say, that much as he should lament such an occurrence, it was a sacrifice which he for one would rather make, than abandon a measure which he was satisfied was pregnant with the most important advantages to the empire.

Earl Temple,

in explanation of his statement respecting the independence of the Militia of the crown, said, that what he meant was, that the Militia was not officered by the crown. His Majesty had only the power of approval.

Mr. Herbert

supported the Bill. He did not See how it would add to the power of the crown, except indeed, by making the army more formidable to the enemy. As for the recruiting for the regular army, the measure would much facilitate it; for men who had already passed over a sea, would be more likely than others to offer themselves for general service.

Mr. Bastard

strenuously opposed the Bill. If the Militia officers were told at once, "We have no further occasion for your services, and we dismiss you," they would have nothing to complain of; but they had a right to complain, when they were put in a situation which compelled them either to quit the service, or very probably to expose themselves to the resentment of the crown, for not carrying the projected measure into effect.

Sir J Newport

asked whether any clause was to be introduced into the Bill, protecting the catholic soldiers of the Irish Militia from being compelled to attend the established church, when in England?

Mr. Secretary Ryder

replied, that the operations of the Bill would be such as to render it impossible for the Militia of the two countries to be placed, in that respect, in any situation different from that in which each stood in its respective country.

The Bill was then read a first time, and ordered to be read a second lime on Thurs-(day, and to be printed.