HC Deb 05 May 1824 vol 11 cc524-6
Colonel Davies

rose, to move for leave to bring in a bill, to alter the present state of the Militia establishment in Ireland. The expense of the Irish Militia staff, taken with reference to its extent, was rather more than a third greater in Ireland than in great Britain; and, unless a sufficient cause for that excess of charge could be assigned, he trusted that the House would support him in moving for a reduction. The hon. officer then proceeded to state the items in which he thought a saving might be effected. He did not understand why the appointment of quarter-master should be continued in Ireland beyond the lives of persons already holding such commission. When ever quarter-masterships fell in, quartermaster serjeantcies only should be kept up in their stead. Nor was it clear to him, when it was desirable to get rid of every expense which could be avoided, that without even the quarter-master-serjeants, the necessary duties might not be performed by the pay-masters. He also objected to the large sums charged, under the present system, for lodging-money, and fuel, for the staff, when there were abundance of barracks in the country standing unoccupied. By reforming the practice upon these two points, by making these two alterations, and cutting down the staff generally as low as possible, 20,000l. a-year would probably be saved. He should, therefore, move for leave to bring in a bill, "to enable his majesty to reduce the establishments of the regiments and batallions of the Irish Militia when not embodied."

Sir G. Hill

expressed his surprised, if such a motion ought at all to be made, that the hon. and gallant member had delayed it until after the annual provisions had been agreed to by the House. With respect to the proposition of the hon. and gallant officer as to the Quarter-masters, that arrangement had been already made. As to the charges under the head of fuel, lodging, &c. that might constitute a fair ground of discussion in the next session. The staff of the Irish militia during the late war, had been eminently serviceable. By their exertions many thousands had been induced to enter into the general military service of the country. It was hard that many of these meritorious individuals, who had been thus beneficially employed for the public, were turned adrift with their families on a pittance of five pence a-day. It had long been his opinion that they ought to be more adequately provided for. By the regiment which he had the honour to command, between three and four thousand men had been furnished for general service, in consequence of the exertions of the Staff. On the grounds which he had alleged, he should oppose the motion.

Mr. Hume

observed, that the main points in his gallant friend's speech had not been touched upon by the right hon. baronet. The charge for lodging, when barracks were standing empty, had not been justified or answered. He was far from agreeing, that the reduction had already been carried too far. On the contrary, he thought that the colonels who had resisted that reduction ought to have been brought to a court martial, and dismissed the service. He was distinctly of opinion, that the letters written upon that occasion would have justified such a course; and he could scarcely wonder at some recent instances of disobedience by officers, seeing that that course had not been adopted. The distress to which men might be reduced who were discharged from the militia, he regretted: although it should be remembered, that the noncommissioned officers, after twenty years' service, had a provision; but the plea of individual distress, however strong, he could not allow to operate; because the same objection might have been applied to a reduction of the army altogether.

Mr. Goulburn

justified the reductions which had been made in the Irish Militia, and expressed his surprise at the readiness of the hon. member for Aberdeen to place that constitutional force at the direction of the Commander-in-Chief, rather than the civil power. He eulogized the promptitude with which the militia staff had always stepped forth to the support of government in times of trouble and difficulty.

Mr. Hutchinson

acknowledged that the staff of the Irish Militia had, on many occasions, been eminently serviceable. He supported his hen. friend's motion, however, on the ground that he could not see why the Irish staff should be a third more numerous in proportion than that of England.

The House divided—For the motion 10; Against it 26; Majority 16.

List of the Minority.
Fergusson, Sir R. Maberly, W. L.
Heron, Sir R. Monck, J. B.
Hobhouse, J. C. Pelham, J. C.
Hutchinson, Hon. C. H. Sykes, D.
Kennedy, F. Davies, Colonel.
Lushington, Dr. Hume, J.