HC Deb 02 April 1833 vol 17 cc49-68

The Report on the Mutiny Bill was brought up. On the question that it be received,

Mr. Hume

rose to move the clause of which he had given notice, "That it shall not be lawful to inflict corporal punishment by flogging on any private soldier, corporal, or non-commissioned officer in the Army or Militia of the United Kingdom, within the United Kingdom, anything herein contained to the contrary notwithstanding." He felt anxious to know whether Ministers would not attempt to carry into effect those opinions which they had advocated when out of office. He thought the time was now come when they ought to accomplish those measures which they had formerly supported. A charge had been made against those who advocated the abolition of flogging in the Army, that they wished to ruin the discipline of the Army. He would never admit that; and he would only reply to the charge by stating this fact—that there were some regiments in which there was no flogging, and in which, notwithstanding this, discipline was maintained as well as in those where flogging was frequent, if not better. On the 15th of March, 1824, on the third reading of the Mutiny Bill, he (Mr. Hume) had had the honour to move the following clause: "And be it further 'enacted, that it shall not be lawful to in'flict corporal punishment, by flogging, on 'any private soldier, corporal, or non-'commissioned officer, in the Army or 'Militia of the United Kingdom, within 'the United Kingdom, anything herein 'contained to the contrary notwithstand'ing.' He was seconded by the gallant member for Nottingham (Sir Ronald Ferguson). The House divided—for the Clause, 47; against it, 127: Majority, 80. The following hon. Members voted with the Minority:—Lord Althorp, Alex. Baring, J. W. Denison, Lord Duncannon, Sir R. Ferguson, W. James, T. F. Kennedy, Hon. G. Lamb, T. B. Lennard, Dr. Lushington, W. L. Maberly, Sir George Phillips, T. S. Rice, Sir Matthew W. Ridley, J. Smith, A. W. Robarts, Alderman Wood, Sir John Wrottesley.—Tellers, John Cam Hobhouse, Joseph Hume.* He was sorry not to see in his place the right hon. the Secretary for Ireland (Sir J. C. Hobhouse), who had stated his opinion very distinctly on the subject. On the third reading of the Mutiny Bill in 1827, on the 12th of March, Mr. Leycester moved, that a clause be brought up to rescind the provisions for the infliction of corporal punishment in the British Army. Lord Nugent supported it. Mr. Hobhouse said—'He had attentively listened 'to what had fallen from gallant Officers 'in the army on the subject; but the only 'reason they gave for defending it that he 'could discover was, that it ought to be con'tinued because it had existed. But this, 'he thought, was bad reasoning, and not 'such as should induce the House to con'tinue such a degradation on our brave de'fenders. He had heard an officer say, that 'in his regiment some of the men were 'brought out so frequently to be flogged, that 'they were known by the name of the flog'ging blocks, and this circumstance demon'strated that, so far from flogging making 'them better soldiers or men, no good 'could be derived from it; and as no 'benefit resulted from the revolting custom, 'it ought to be abolished, as being a 'national disgrace, and as placing our 'army, in its discipline and honour, second 'to that of France. He hoped that no 'Session would be suffered to pass away 'without some effort being made to relieve 'the soldiers from this abominable punishment.‡ A similar opinion was espoused by all those who supported his Motion; and it was very strongly supported; on the occasion to which he had referred. He should hope that the noble Lord and those who were now in power would put an end to a system which they formerly characterized as a most brutal custom, and a disgrace to the nation. He could not understand why Englishmen should be treated like brutes. He could not believe that such a system was necessary for the preservation of discipline, because it only made men desperate whom a milder punishment would restore to a sense of duty. The experiment had been tried in some regiments of abolishing flogging; it had been found to succeed; and he could not understand why it should not be extended to every regiment in the * Hansard (new series) x. pp. 1031,1039. † Ibid. xvi. p. 1124 ‡ Ibid. p. 1126. army. The Mutiny Act supplied many other military punishments besides this, which was so derogatory to the national character; and the fact was, that flogging was inflicted merely because officers had it in their power; whereas, if they were deprived of that power, they would find many other means which would effect all the objects which they could have in view. It was impossible to let this subject sleep in a Reformed Parliament. The punishment of slaves was confined to fifteen lashes. Could it be necessary for maintaining the discipline of the army to subject the soldiers to 200, 300, and 500? In addition to any other punishment Courts-martial may direct "the offenders to be marked on the left side, two inches below the armpit, with the letter D, an inch long, and with gunpowder, not liable to be obliterated." He trusted that such a punishment, which perpetuated the disgrace, and tended to destroy all feelings favourable to reformation in the soldier, was never carried into effect. He concluded by moving the clause to which he had referred.

Mr. Lennard

said, that the hon. member for Middlesex had mentioned him as one of the persons who formerly voted with him for the abolition of flogging in the army, and he would be proud to vote with him again to attain the same object. He held the practice in the utmost detestation. The country was constantly hearing accounts of punishments inflicted on soldiers which would not be allowed to be applied to criminals convicted of the most atrocious offences. Why, he asked, should the British soldier be thus proscribed? The soldiers of other countries were not subjected to that degrading punishment; and he could not conceive that there was anything peculiar in the character of his countrymen which rendered the application of the lash necessary. It was an anomaly that one description of punishment should be applied to officers, and another to privates. It was contrary to the principle of justice that there should be any inequality of punishments. The argument urged in support of ogging was, that the private soldiers were so bad a set of men that they could not be kept in order without it; but it was the punishment of flogging which deterred a better class of men from entering the army. Abolish the punishment, its alleged cause, which was in reality its effect, would quickly disappear.

Mr. Robert Grant

, having taken charge of the Bill in the absence of his right hon. friend, (Sir J. C. Hobhouse), felt called upon to make one or two observations which should deserve attention for their candour if not for their solidity. No official connexion should induce him to vote against the clause of the hon. member for Middlesex, if he felt the zeal for the abolition of this punishment, and the conviction of its inutility, which unquestionably animated him and many of the opponents of military flogging. Finding, however, that by far the majority of well-informed military men, those who were best able to judge, and on whose judgment he placed the greatest reliance, being the great majority of those who had to administer the law, were in favour of the continuance of the power now exercised, and thinking that their consent and approbation ought to be obtained before so great a change was made, he could not bring himself to vote in favour of the proposition. There was no doubt that in this, as in other respects, the army of Great Britain was in a gradual state of improvement, and he did not think it would be safe to disturb the steady course of that amelioration by a measure of injudicious haste. With every disposition, therefore, to adopt the Amendment, he did not feel sufficient reliance upon his own judgment to warrant him in supporting it by his vote. He rejected the clause with reluctance, almost amounting to pain, but at the same time, with a clear conscience. With respect to the other punishments alluded to by the hon. member for Middlesex, they were never carried into effect except the marking, and that was only done when desertion rendered a conspicuous mark necessary. He admitted that this punishment too was a painful and a degrading one, but he had the consolation of knowing that it was never carried into effect with severity.

Mr. Mildmay

was aware of the opinion which prevailed amongst persons in the army, that the punishment could not be abolished; he was aware likewise of the progress of a contrary opinion, not only amongst the public, but amongst officers themselves. He was aware, too, that there had been practically a mitigation of the punishment, and that it was not called into practice so frequently as formerly. Under these circumstances, he thought the time had come when the punishment might be abolished in England, though he doubted whether it would be safe to relieve soldiers serving abroad from the restraint. He knew a case of a soldier who bore an excellent character when sober, but when intoxicated always attacked his sergeant; he twice received 500 lashes for this offence, but it did him no good. Though he was aware of the little corrective power of this punishment, as a restraint upon soldiers abroad, he was afraid it could not yet be dispensed with in the colonies. As the hon. Member's Motion was confined to the United Kingdom, he should support it. It was of importance to raise the character of the English soldier, and that could be done by abolishing flogging at home.

Mr. O'Connell

was happy that the weight of Government was not thrown into the scale against the clause of the hon. member for Middlesex. If, therefore, the practice of military flogging were to be continued—if torture were still to be allowed in the British army, it would not be the fault of Ministers, but of the Reformed Parliament. Officers were incompetent judges upon the subject, and their opinions ought therefore to have no influence on the decision of the House. He called upon the House to remember, that in our army alone the practice still prevailed, which still kept up that wide distance between the officer and the private which existed in no other body of troops. Among them there was a degree of familiarity, he might call it brotherhood, which making them mutually dependent on the good opinion of each other, preserved discipline without cruelty. The question was, whether not only British subjects, but the very natives of Britain, were to be legally put to the torture; and he was sorry to see that many who turned up the whites of their eyes, "till the strings of them (as Sir Pertinax said) were ready to crack "at the notion of flogging negroes, were not present on this occasion to give a vote in favour of their own countrymen. The House ought to interfere at once to put an end to the degrading practice; and when once flogging was abolished, a better class of men would be induced to enter the army, especially at the present moment, when labour was so cheap and abundant, that the reward of the labourer was reduced to the narrowest pittance. There was no flogging in the army of Napoleon, and its discipline was sufficiently good to ensure victory. As long as the prevailing distinction between officer and private was preserved, and the passage— That in the General's but a choleric word, Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy— remained proverbial, they would get only the worst class of men to enter the army. Remove that distinction a better class would enter the service, and discipline be more easily maintained. He called upon the Reformed House of Commons to back the hon. Member in his attempt to remove this disgraceful cruelty from England. What, he would ask, had the Reformed House yet done for the cause of humanity? He well knew how much it had done in opposition to that cause; but he hoped that this night the Members would be able to retire to their beds after having given a vote which would satisfy their consciences, and make some little compensation for the injury they had done to Ireland.

Lord Althorp

had been surprised to hear the hon. member for Middlesex read his name as one of those who had formerly voted for the abolition of corporal punishment in the army. He had thought that he had never given a vote against its continuance, although he certainly had never voted in its favour. He had formerly been of opinion, and he retained that opinion still, that the weight of military authority was so great, that it would not be safe entirely to abolish flogging in the army. True, it was a punishment at which the feelings of human nature revolted, but he felt, that he should take upon himself an unjustifiable degree of responsibility if he voted in opposition to the judgment of those who had the greatest experience. Officers were still men, and they possessed the ordinary sympathies of men, and while they possessed them, they were competent to decide on the fitness or unfitness of adhering to the old practice. The clause of the hon. member for Middlesex only applied to Great Britain; flogging was still to be allowed beyond the limits of the empire, and that circumstance would materially and inconveniently increase the repugnance of the soldiers to go upon foreign service. If any process could be suggested, by which the punishment could be safely removed, he was ready to give it his consideration; but, under present circumstances, however painful it was to him to vote against the proposition of the hon. member for Middlesex, he felt that it would be quite inconsistent with his duty if he did not do his best to oppose it.

Captain Curteis

called the attention of the House to the warrant recently issued decreasing the pensions of soldiers—which he said, would tend still further to lower the character of the army, and increase the necessity for inflicting corporal punishment. He was aware that many recruits were enlisted in a state of drunkenness, and cared little for any consequences, but that was not the case with the inhabitants of Scotland who supplied our army with many soldiers. If more than half the pension hitherto allowed to the soldier, after a certain period of service, were taken away, it would be impossible—for the future—to obtain any recruits, except from the prisons and workhouses. Already the army had become too common a refuge for the abandoned, for whenever a man of notoriously bad character was brought before a Magistrate at the Quarter Sessions, he invariably recommended him to enlist. If the order to which he had alluded were not rescinded, the army would soon consist entirely of such characters. Would they be a fit class of persons upon whom to try a new system for the enforcement of discipline? Imprisonment had been recommended as a substitute for flogging; but he had no hesitation in saying, that to confine a soldier in a public prison, and compel him to become the associate of men convicted of every crime, was the very worst species of punishment that could possibly be adopted. To imprison soldiers in common gaols would be to make them worse when they came out than when they went in; but he would support a motion for the erection of prisons in barracks, which he thought might be made to supply the place of flogging.

Sir Rufane Donkin

referred to an experiment he had made in the regiment of which he was Lieutenant Colonel, to abolish corporal punishment, which experiment had failed, for the men began with knocking down the corporals, went on to the Serjeants, and finally threatened the officer on guard. He must, however, say, that when he commanded a brigade in Spain, he had made an appeal to the men on the subject, and for fourteen months no instance of flogging had occurred. It would be a satisfaction to the hon. and learned member for Dublin to be informed, that the two regiments he had then under his orders were not only Irish, but Irish par excellence in every sense of the word. One was the Prince of Wales's Royal Irish, and the other the Connaught Rangers, commonly called the Rollickers. The fact was, that the officers had identified themselves with the men—they had slept under the same trees, and endured the same hardships, so that a feeling of affection grew up, which was the best source of obedience. There were only two ways of preserving discipline in the army; one was, to appeal to the moral feelings of the soldiers, which of course would be by far the best way, if it could be found to answer; but if it did not answer, then the only other method was to have recourse to physical suffering. He was confident, that the British army, at least in foreign service, could not be kept together without the House left to the officers the power of inflicting corporal punishment; though God forbid that such punishment should be often had recourse to, as indeed it was not.

Mr. Curteis

could not let the House go into Committee on this Bill without recording on that occasion, as he should on every other, his utter abhorrence of this system of punishment. There might be found several substitutes for it. For instance, it was found, that the most furious animals were tamed by a course of starvation. He should most strenuously support the abolition of military flogging though he agreed in the propriety of limiting the abolition in the first instance to the United Kingdom.

Major Handley

would also strongly support the abolition of military flogging as regarded troops at home; he did not think there would be any difficulty in finding an effective substitute for this mode of punishment. But, with respect to the army in service abroad, he must say, that he thought summary punishment, from the nature of their position, could not be dispensed with. They could not on a march very well have recourse to imprisonment, or to the very extraordinary mode of punishment suggested by the hon. Member who spoke last. Therefore, while he strongly advocated the abolition of this punishment with respect to the army at home, he should object to its remission with respect to troops on foreign service. He only asked for the power to continue it; he was fully convinced, that too good a feeling existed among officers to put it into effect very often. Under the Emperor Napoleon the French army had been kept in the finest discipline, yet corporal punishment was seldom or ever heard of. The fact was, the point of honour had been kept up to a very high degree in the French army. For himself, he had witnessed in the Ionian Isles the best possible effects result from the substitution of solitary confinement in lieu of corporal punishment.

An Hon. Member

most strongly objected to the extraordinary and unfair distinction which was proposed to be made between troops in foreign service and troops at home. He thought all soldiers were alike entitled to the same treatment. A great deal had been said, and he did not object to it, with respect to the fine discipline preserved in the French army without the influence of corporal punishment; but hon. Gentlemen must also bear in mind that punishments were frequently carried into effect in that army—such as shooting, and obliging deserters to carry heavy irons—which if attempted to be introduced here would meet with as much opposition and excite as strong feelings of horror and dislike as the punishment which the hon. member for Middlesex had moved to abolish.

Mr. Sheil

advocated the abolition of this dreadful and demoralizing punishment. Some gallant Officers had opposed the abolition; but he did not think that officers of the army were the most competent judges in this matter. No, certainly not. He would not go to a clergyman for his opinion as to Reform in the Church; nor to the West-India planter on the subject of negro emancipation; nor to one of his own profession for an opinion about reforming the lucrative abuses of the law. No more, then, would he be led in his opinion of the propriety of reforming the punishment of the army, by what an officer in the army might say. As to the substitution of punishment, there had been different ones proposed; one hon. Member, who he supposed was a member of the very valuable Zoological Society, seemed to recommend the practice of the Zoological Gardens for the army. He did not agree with that hon. Member in taking a zoological view of the case. The present system was a most degrading and demoralizing one; the British soldiery might be dealt with in the same spirit with the Roman soldiers:— Facinus est civem Romanum verberari.

Colonel Gore Langton

said, that if it were wished to preserve a disciplined and effective army, they must retain the power of inflicting corporal punishment. He was strongly averse to inflicting it when it could be avoided, but the power of inflicting it ought to be maintained.

Sir John Byng

stated, that he had formerly agreed with the hon. member for Middlesex as to the expediency of abolishing the punishment of flogging in the army; and he had accordingly been induced to make the experiment of abstaining altogether from the use of corporal punishment with respect to the soldiers under his command, for a period of two years; but it did not succeed. At the expiration of the time the regiment was in a much worse state of discipline than before. He had, therefore, after this experiment, and much consideration upon the subject, been led to the conclusion, that to do away altogether with the power of inflicting corporal punishment would vitally affect the discipline of the British army. It had been repeatedly urged, that a substitute might be found equally efficient with the punishment now in use. But what was it to be? He had for a long time turned his attention anxiously to the subject, but he had never yet been able to devise an adequate substitute. He did not mean to contend, that corporal punishment was frequently to be resorted to, but he maintained that the power of inflicting it should be continued to commanding officers; and in so saying, he well knew he was speaking the sentiments of the General Commanding-in-chief; and if the power were continued, as he recommended, the House would have no reason to apprehend that it would be abused, for the practice of flogging in the army was decreasing from year to year. To the Amendment of the hon. Member he was decidedly opposed. He thought no difference should be made between the soldier at home and abroad. The distinction proposed would be most invidious; in his opinion, it would be much better to abolish the system of corporal punishment altogether, than agree to the Amendment of the hon. member for Middlesex.

Sir Francis Burdett

stated, that he felt great difficulty in addressing the House upon the subject before them at that moment, because he was in some sort taken unawares; but the great difficulty he experienced, proceeded, on the one hand, from his apprehension lest, not having had due time for consideration, he should be led away by the strength of his feelings; and, on the other, from the impossibility of his being able to suffer a question such as the present to pass over in silence, although he thought a much more convenient and better opportunity might have been hereafter found for bringing the Motion forward. He would not, however, hesitate to repeat what he had before repeatedly said, that, in his opinion, the practice of flogging in the army was atrocious—was intolerable. He deeply regretted that the Government, to which he had made every kind of application to take up the matter themselves, had not complied with his entreaty—had not made some commencement, which might serve to assure the people that a subject which excited the strongest public feeling, and which, at the same time, required deep thought, would be placed by them in a fair way of being ultimately brought to a satisfactory result. He repeated, that he regretted this exceedingly, for if Government did not do so, it would soon be out of their power to induce the English public longer to endure a practice of such revolting cruelty. The gallant General had contended that flogging was always the "ultimum remedium;" so it might be in some regiments, but the public were well aware that this was neither always nor generally the case; but, on the contrary, it was frequently inflicted for offences which did not justify its application. He admitted that he had little better authority for this assertion than the public prints; but they contained frequent instances in which corporal punishment was administered in cases where it was perfectly disgusting to imagine it could have been inflicted. Even if it were necessary that the power of flogging should be continued to commanding officers, let it at least be circumscribed. Let it be confined to such offences as mutiny and stealing from a comrade. If it were so strongly asserted that the possession of this power was absolutely necessary to the good government of the army, why he would consent to let it be retained, but then if must be circumscribed within well defined limits. When it was much worse than it is now—when it was almost a hundred-fold worse—there were officers found to defend the system as it then existed; and such was the effect of a bad system, that all men, even those of refined and enlightened minds, were hardened by the frequent exhibition of human suffering. A wise man had said, that men were fond of using force as their right hand, and reason as their left. He feared that the existence of this practice, and the constant defence of it by officers in the army, afforded a great proof of the soundness of that remark. But their objections to its abolition were answered by one important fact; namely, that though the practice had so much diminished as to be, when compared to what it was thirty years ago, almost as it were abolished, still the character, conduct, and discipline of the army had been materially improved. If, then, the power of inflicting this punishment was to be retained, let it be retained within well defined limits. Let mutiny, fairly understood, be punished in this manner; but, as the matter stood now, there was one clause in the Mutiny Bill which, by the introduction of the word "insubordination," would justify any petty officer in inflicting the punishment for any supposed affront [No, no]. Let those Gentlemen who cried no, show that he was mistaken, and he should be most happy to hear the proof that convicted him of his error. It was said, that in foreign armies men were shot for offences; he was almost ready to say, shoot men rather than keep up this punishment of the lash, for none could be shot but upon full investigation and solemn sentence; and it was better that one man should be shot, than that the whole army should be disgraced. In many regiments corporal punishment had not been employed for years. One instance of this, and he mentioned it to the honour of the Duke of Gloster, was in that regiment of Coldstream Guards, of which that illustrious Duke was the Commander. In that case, the attention of the officers to the men was extreme, and the men were thus retained in obedience by affection rather than fear. Some years ago the infliction of 1,000 lashes was thought no extraordinary punishment; 1,500 had sometimes been ordered in a sentence, and a man was brought out three or four, or five times to receive his sentence. If the number was considerable, he was brought out so often that he might almost be said to live under the lash. These were things past and gone; and he had no doubt, that if the matter was fairly considered, not these enormities alone, but the whole system might be abolished without the least danger to the good conduct and discipline of the army. The practice of flogging ought not to be kept up for the purpose of continuing in the army men who ought to be turned out of it. They had better be turned out of the army. The Motion of the hon. member for Middlesex was for the abolition of this system in England, and surely the experiment might be tried to that extent. He had the authority of officers for saying this, for when he himself had brought forward motions on this subject to abolish the system altogether, they had said that it could not be wholly done away with, but that it might be abolished in England, though it could not be abolished with regard to troops in foreign service. Lord Hutchinson had expressed his opinion that discipline could be kept up without it, and with his feelings and with that authority, he could not but vote in favour of the Motion. He was confident, that if his hon. friend had continued in the office connected with the army, the clauses of the Mutiny Act would have been framed with a view to abolish the punishment of flogging, and at the same time, to substitute something that should have secured the safety of the public and the discipline of the array. If there was a difference of opinion on the facts, he thought that a Committee ought to be appointed to inquire into them, and to lay the Report before the House.

Viscount Palmerston

observed, that he felt all the disadvantage which he had in rising after the hon. Baronet, who always expressed himself with a talent and a fervour which were sure to command a willing audience. On that occasion, too, he had the advantage of speaking on a subject which had for many years engaged the energies of his heart and mind. The hon. Baronet spoke in unison with the best feelings of human nature, and if the House were disposed to consult only such feelings, there could be no doubt as to the conclusion at which they would arrive; and not only would they agree to the motion of tlie hon. member for Middlesex, but they would be eager to abolish all punishment of whatever description. But this was a question not to be disposed of on feeling and sentiment alone, for it involved grave considerations of public interest and the safety of the community, as well as the comfort of the soldier, and must be decided by a calm and deliberate examination of all the circumstances of the case. There was no man who would venture to contend that a large army could be governed unless the officers possessed the power of inflicting upon the men composing it severe punishment. None had ever been governed without such a power. But then hon. Gentlemen said, that they had special objection to this particular punishment. He did not stand there as the advocate for corporal punishment, nor to say that it was good in itself; for he could not but admit that its tendency was in some degree to degrade the minds of the men even more than the infliction injured their body. If any substitute, therefore, could be provided for it, he should be glad to see it abolished. Hon. Gentlemen, however, who objected to this punishment, did not suggest any substitute for it, but paid the Government the compliment of relying on their wisdom to find a substitute. He would rather they should have undertaken the duty than paid that compliment, particularly when the Government said it knew of no substitute for this punishment which would answer the purpose equally well. He could not believe, on a subject of such great importance as the discipline of the army, which, be it remembered, did not merely concern the interests of the army, but those of the whole community with which it came into contact, and whose rights and security were at stake—he could not believe, that on a subject of such importance. Members would allow themselves to be run away with by their feelings, or would negative the necessity of this discipline, without seeing their way to some adequate substitute. What were the substitutes which had been proposed? One hon. Gentleman said, that solitary imprisonment would be productive of good results, and an instance was given of a case which occurred in one of the Ionian islands, where the solitary imprisonment of one man produced a most beneficial effect on the whole garrison. But how was it possible, with a large army scattered over an immense tract of country, always to have at hand the means of solitary confinement? When he was Secretary-at-War, on examining on one occasion, the returns of the punishments at the Guards, he found that sixteen men were sentenced to solitary imprisonment for different periods; and where did the House suppose these sixteen men were sent to undergo their sentence? Why, they were all confined together in the cabin of a hulk on the Thames, sixteen feet long by ten feet wide; and in this way these sixteen men were undergoing their sentence of solitary confinement? Solitary confinement, to be really such, would be productive of so much expense in the construction of adequate apartments in barracks, that he was sure it would not be very likely to meet with the support of the hon. member for Middlesex. There were, at present, different degrees of severity connected with drill, and various other matters of internal regulation, which were practised to a great extent, as a means of punishment. He could assure the hon. Baronet, who appeared to think that flogging was, in all cases, resorted to in the first instance, that the contrary was the fact. Indeed, owing to the degree to which the hon. Baronet himself had drawn the attention of the Government and the army to this subject, this punishment had of late years been very considerably diminished. So far from its being the first method of enforcing discipline, it was only resorted to in cases where other descriptions of punishment had failed in producing the desired effect. One hon. Gentleman had recommended a species of punishment, which he had no doubt would meet with the approbation of the hon. member for Middlesex, as it was calculated to combine economy with discipline. The Gentleman he alluded to had proposed to govern the army by starvation—an economical plan certainly, as it would not only punish offenders, but would save the country the expense of feeding them. They were told—and he admitted the propriety of the maxim—fas est ab hoste doceri—and certainly if our enemies were to choose punishments for us, none would better suit their purpose, than that which would reduce each offending soldier to a skeleton. But what had been the practice of foreign nations—of France, for instance? It had been said, that the French army was kept during the war in a state of the greatest discipline—discipline, as the hon. and learned member for Dublin said, which led them to victory without the infliction of corporal punishment. But that was a mere play upon words, because though they certainly did without the infliction of that species of corporal punishment which existed in the British service; yet every man who knew—and he appealed with confidence to those gentlemen in the House who had themselves seen the practice of the French army, that the infliction of corporal pain, without a Court-martial, and at the arbitrary will of the officers, did take place to a very great extent in the armies of Napoleon; in which, moreover, shooting was common to a degree that, he was persuaded, would astonish many hon. Gentlemen. Was any man prepared to say, that in the British army, the offences which are now punished by the lash, ought to be visited with the punishment of death? He could not admit that the comparison could tend to the advantage of the French service; for, however distinguished was the gallant conduct of that army in the field—however frequently they were led on to victory against their enemies—still, he must say, that discipline in their own country, or good behaviour towards the civil inhabitants, was not the peculiar boast of the armies which served under the standard of Napoleon. So much the contrary, indeed, was the fact, that when our troops crossed the Pyrenees, and entered the southern provinces of France, the French people themselves, in relation to their treatment by our soldiers, observed, that though they entered their country as invaders, they treated them as if they were their defenders. In foreign services, greater punishments were inflicted than in ours, although in a different way. In Prussia, a practice formerly existed—which had, indeed, been only partially abolished—of confining a man in a room not high enough for him to stand upright in, and which, instead of being boarded, was floored with square spars, with their sharp edges upwards; so that he could neither stand, because there was no room, nor lie down, because it was too painful to do so. This punishment was so severe, that no man could support its infliction, when it was carried on beyond a certain number of hours. When they were told then, that, in foreign countries, flogging was not resorted to, they ought to remember that other punishments were adopted, which, if they were introduced here, would excite as much abhorrence as that punishment which was now the subject of discussion. No man could deny the position, that an army cannot be kept in that state of discipline which the civil part of the community had a right to expect, without strong powers of control; and the question then came to this—whether it would be safe to adopt the proposition of the hon. member for Middlesex? An hon. friend of his said, that soldiers, when they went on foreign service, were subjected to more arbitrary jurisdiction than they were at home; and that, primâ facie, they would be reconciled to this proposition. He was ready to believe, that such was the gallantry of British troops, that there was no additional severity which would influence their feelings, or in the least diminish their alacrity when called upon to take the field against an enemy. But that was not the question—the question was, whether the British army was to be so constituted, that while the men were to be subjected to this punishment when they went to colonial stations, which was the most irksome part of their duty, and the longest period of their service, that part of the army which remained at home was to be exempted from it. It appeared to him that nothing could be less expedient; and if the question were, whether this proposition should be adopted, or whether there should be a general exemption from this punishment, he believed it would be better to abolish the punishment altogether, than to make this mischievous and fatal distinction. They were told, that if this punishment were abolished, men would enlist more freely into the ranks, and that they should get a better description of men to enter into the service. He never knew that when they required men, they failed in getting the requisite number. It was more the particular circumstances in which a man stood at the moment, which influenced his choice of a military life, than complicated considerations of discipline. It was also said, that there were examples to prove that this punishment might be altogether dispensed with. Cases had been quoted in which officers in the exercise of their judgment, and by their attentive and discreet mode of commanding their men, had been enabled for a certain time to dispense with the infliction of this punishment. But did it follow, that if the power of inflicting this punishment had not existed, the same result would have taken place, and that good order would have been maintained in those cases? He doubted it. Moreover, he said, that these cases were exceptions which, in- stead of subverting the rule, tended rather to prove it. What was said by those hon. Gentlemen who advocated the abolition of this punishment? Why, that if officers of the army were to take the trouble of making themselves better acquainted with their men—if they were disposed to share the same shelter—to rest beneath the same tree—and to bivouac in the same field—if they would partake with their men all the inconveniences, all the dangers, and all the difficulties incidental to a military life—they would gain such an ascendancy over their minds, that they would be enabled to govern them by the mere force of moral influence, without any punishment whatsoever. If they were considering what was to be done with respect to regiments fortunate enough to have officers of that description, they might, perhaps, be enabled to dispense even with the power of inflicting this punishment. But they were not legislating for any particular corps, but for the whole army; and they must take the chance of all the different officers, and of the dispositions of the men; and it would be a most fatal mistake if they were, from one or two examples, to draw the conclusion, that the power of inflicting this punishment might be altogether taken away. What said the hon. and gallant General opposite. Sir R. Donkin? Why, that in the instance of one regiment after this punishment had been suspended for a certain time, the privates began to knock down the non-commissioned officers, and went on to knock down the others; and that they were eventually obliged again to resort to corporal punishment. Neither the example of foreign armies, nor of our own, led him to think that the Motion of the hon. member for Middlesex, was one which it would be safe to adopt. However useful these discussions might be, he did hope that the House would not be carried away by their feelings to consent to abolish at once a power for the exercise of which the Ministers were responsible in the government of the country, and which, in their opinion, was necessary for the due maintenance of the discipline of the array. He called, therefore, on the House to pause before they agreed to the Amendment; to recollect, that if they took away this punishment, and substituted no other certain mode of maintaining the discipline of the army, they might repent too late the error they had committed—they might discover their mistake when they had no longer the power to retract it—and would regret in vain the precipitancy of which experience had at length convinced them they had been guilty.

Sir Ronald Ferguson

said, that he was an enemy to corporal punishment in the army, but thought that the power to inflict it ought not to be abolished. If it were, the army would be disorganized. In certain cases—such as mutiny, and striking an officer, or actual disobedience, which he called mutiny—it ought to be inflicted; and in the case of stealing from his comrades, a man should be subject to be sent out of the country by a Court-martial. Cases often occurred which must be tried and punished summarily. To order, in accordance with the Amendment, one species of punishment abroad and another at home would be extremely unsatisfactory and unjust. The average number of years which a soldier passed in his native land was four out of twenty. It was clear, therefore, that the soldier would still, during four-fifths of his service, be subjected to this punishment. He could not vote with the hon. Member, who, by the Motion, placed him in an awkward situation; and he would not vote against him.

Mr. Rotch

could not understand why the Ministers should have asked for money to build solitary cells in all the barracks in the country, if they did not mean to use them. He knew from long experience, that solitary confinement was more efficacious to prevent crimes than flogging.—The House was so impatient, calling question continually, that the hon. Gentleman sat down without stating whether he would or would not support the Amendment.

Sir Francis Burdett

signified his wish to move an Amendment on the Amendment of the hon. member for Middlesex, he would move "That flogging should not be applied any where under the Mutiny Act, except in cases of open mutiny, thieving, and drunkenness on guard."

Mr. Hume

would not object to the "suggestion of the hon. Baronet, as the commencement of a good change. No person justified flogging except as a matter of necessity; and if there was no necessity for it in any one point, it ought to be altered on that point. He would accede to the proposition of the hon. Baronet. The Motion was put, amended according to the suggestion of Sir Francis Burdett; and the House divided—Ayes 140: Noes 151: Majority 11.

The Report agreed to.

List of the NOES.
ENGLAND. Lamont, Captain N.
Althorp, Lord Langsten, J. H.
Ashley, Lord Langton, Colonel G.
Baring, F. T. Littleton, E. J.
Baring, H B. Lowther, Viscount
Bentinck, Ld. G. F. C. Maberly, Colonel
Berkeley, Hon. G. C. Miller, W. H.
Berkeley, Hon. C. F. Molyneux, Lord
Biddulph, R. M. Moreton, Hon. A. H.
Bowes, J. Morpeth, Viscount
Bruce, Lord E. Neeld, J.
Butler, E. Nicholl, J.
Bulteel, J. C. Norreys, Lord
Burrell, Sir C. Ossulston, Lord
Byng, G. Palmer, C.
Byng, Sir J. Palmerston, Viscount
Calvert, N. Pelham, Hon C. A. G.
Carter, J. B. Pepys, C.
Cavendish, Lord. Pinney, W.
Cavendish, Hon. Col. Price, Sir R.
Chaplin, Colonel T. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Childers, L. W. Ross, C.
Clive, Hon. R. H. Russell, Lord J.
Cockerell, Sir C. Ryle, J.
Codrington, Sir E. Sandon, Viscount
Cookes, T. H. Scott, Sir E. D.
Crawley, S. Seale, J. H.
Curteis, Captain Sebright, Sir J.
Dare, R. W. H. Smith, Hon. R. S.
Dick, Q. Smith, R. V.
Dillwyn, L. W. Somerset, Lord G.
Donkin, Sir R. S. Spencer, Hon. Capt. F.
Duncombe, Hon. W. Stewart, C.
Dundas, Hon. Sir R. L. Stormont, Viscount
Egerton, W. T. Stuart, Lord D.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Thomson, Rt. Hon. P.
Forester, Hon. G. C. W. Trevor, hon. R.
Fox, Lieut-Col. C. R. Tullamore, Lord
Gladstone, W. E. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Gordon, R. Villiers, Viscount
Goulburn, Rt. Hon. H. Vivian, J. H.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Vyvyan, Sir R.
Grant, Rt. Hon. R. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Greville, Hon. Sir C. Ward, H. G.
Grey, Hon. Col. Warre, J. A.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Wedgwood, J.
Halse, J. Weyland, Major R.
Harcourt, G. N. Whitbread, W. H.
Henniker, Lord Whitmore, T. C.
Herbert, Hon. S. Williams, T. P.
Home, Sir W. Willoughby, Sir H.
Howard, Hon. F. G. Wood, G.
Howard, H. Wood, Colonel F.
Howick, Viscount Wood, C.
Halcomb, T. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Hurst, R. H. Wynn, C. W.
Inglis, Sir R. SCOTLAND.
Jermyn, Earl Baillie, Colonel J.
Jerningham, Hon. H. Bannerman, A.
Johnstone, Sir F. G. Elliot, Captain G.
Labouchere, H. Ferguson, Captain G.
Fleming, Admiral Howard, R.
Hay, Colonel A. L. Jones, Captain T.
Hope, Hon. Sir A. Lamb, Hon. G.
Kennedy, T. F. Macnamara, Major.
M'Leod, R. Macnamara, F.
Ross, H. Maxwell, H.
Sharpe, General M. Maxwell, J. W.
Traill, G. Meynell, Captain H.
Mullins, F. W.
Blaney, Hon. Capt. C. O'Callaghan, Hon. C.
Perceval, Colonel Browne, J. D.
Castlereagh, Viscount Shaw, F.
Cory, Hon. H. L. Stawell, Colonel
Gladstone, T. Duncannon, Viscount
Hayes, Sir F. Rice, Hon. T. S.
Hill, Lord M.
List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Hughes, H.
Baillie, J. E. Jervis, J.
Bainbridge, E. F. Kemp, T. R.
Barnard, E. G. Lefevre, C. S.
Bayntun, S. A. Lennard, Sir T.
Beauclerk, Major Lloyd, J. H.
Bewes, T. Locke, W.
Bish, T. Lushington, Dr. S.
Blake, Sir F. Marshall, J.
Blamire, W. Marsland, T.
Briggs, R. Methuen, P.
Briscoe, J. I. Mildmay, P. St. J.
Brocklehurst, J. Moreton, Hon. H. G.
Brodie, Captain North, F.
Bulwer, E. L. Parker, J.
Bulwer, H. L. Parrot, J.
Burdett, Sir F. Peter, W.
Buxton, T. F. Philips, M.
Cayley, Sir G. Pigot, R.
Cayley, E. S. Pluniptre, T. P.
Chichester, J. P. B. Pryme, G.
Clay, W. Ramsbottom, J.
Clayton, Colonel R. Richards, J.
Clive, E. B. Robinson, G. R.
Collier, J. Roebuck, J. A.
Cornish, T. Rotch, R. M.
Curteis, H. B. Romilly, J.
Dawson, E. Romilly, E.
Divelt, E. Rotch, B.
Ellis, W. Saudford, E. A.
Etwall, R. Scholefield, J.
Ewart, W. Shaw, R. N.
Faithfull, G. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Fanoourt, Major Strickland, G.
Fenton, Captain Strutt, E.
Fielden, J. Tayleure, W.
Fryer, R. Tennyson, Rt. Hon. C.
Gaskell, D. Thicknesse, R.
Gaskell, J. L. Throckmorton, R. G.
Goring, H. D. Todd, R.
Grey, Sir G. Torrens, Colonel R.
Gulley, J. Tracy, C. H.
Handley, B. Trelawney, W. L. S.
Hardy, J. Turner, W.
Hawes, B. Tynte, C. J. K.
Hawkins, J. H. Vernon, Hon. G. I.
Hoskins, K. Vincent, Sir F.
Warburton, H. Dobbin, I.
Wason, R. Don, O'Connor
Wigney, I. Evans, G.
Wilks, J. Finn, W. F.
Wood, Alderman Fitzgerald, T.
Young, G. F. Fitzsimon, N.
SCOTLAND. Grattan, H.
Dalmeny, Lord Maclaughlin, L.
Dunlop, Captain I. Martin, T.
Ewing, J. O'Brien, C.
Gillon, W. D. O'Connell, D.
Johnston, A. O'Connell, Maurice.
Maxwell, J. O'Connell, C.
Maxwell, Sir J. O'Connell, J.
Ormelie, Earl of O'Connell, Morgan.
Oswald, R. A. Roche, W.
Oswald, J. Ruthven, E. S.
Sinclair, G. Ruthven, E.
Wallace, R. Sheil, R. L.
IRELAND. Talbot, J.
Baldwin, H. Tennent, J. E.
Barron, W. Vigors, N. A.
Bellew, R. M. TELLERS
Butler, Hon. P. Hume, J.
Chapman, M. L. Lennard, T. B.
Paired off.
Beaumont, T. W. Morrison, J.
Humphery, J. Tooke, W.
Lynch, A. H.