HC Deb 11 July 1820 vol 2 cc394-5

On the motion that this bill be read a third time,

Mr. Creevey

said, he had hoped that the bill would have been removed altogether from the table. He contended, that the measure was a part of the military system ministers were establishing throughout the country. The embodying an army by the East-India company was one of the last acts towards a military despotism he had expected. Ministers were now repeating what they had done 25 years ago, with this difference; that then an army was embodied to fight the French; now, it was marshalled to subdue a distressed population. It had been said, that the disaffected had brought these military measures upon themselves; but such an assertion was both indiscreet and unjust, since parliament itself had been the great instrument of oppression. The real nostrum to cure discontent was economy and a removal of the burden of taxation; yet instead of doing so, the East-India company, itself a grievance to the mercantile interest, by monopolizing the trade to China, was made to raise a force to support the government, which supported them. It would be much more becoming in the company to reduce their expenses, and look forward to the day when their charter would not be renewed. He would move, "that the bill be read a third time on this day six months."

Mr. Money

said, it was not now the time to enter into the question whether the East India Company was a grievance or not; it was sufficient for him that it existed under the sanction of parliament. The force in question was not of a new description, but was composed of men who were under the obligation of self-interest to unite the character of good citizens and good soldiers. It was a measure to enable the Company to protect the immense property in their warehouses, and at times to afford their aid to the civil power.

Mr. Hobhouse

said, that though it was the fashion to insist that the people were inflamed by demagogues, he would contend that they had never entertained any such designs as to warrant ministers in adopting measures like that before the House. At this moment the standing army was 92,000 men, while Cromwell had been able to keep down a disaffected population with not more than one-third of the force. New barracks were constructing in all di- rections; even the King's Mews were to be converted into a sort of a garrison. The truth was, that government had so long talked of the phantom of disaffection, that they now believed in its existence as children frightened themselves into a notion of the reality of ghosts.

Mr. Williams

supported the bill, because he conceived volunteer or militia regiments the most constitutional force that could be used for the preservation of the public peace. He was adverse to a large standing army, and therefore it was that he supported the measure.

The question that the bill be read a third time, was put and agreed to.