§ Viscount Howick
moved the order of the day for the House to go into a Committee of the whole House on the Mutiny Bill.
§ The Speaker
said, it was necessary to call the attention of the hon. Member (Captain Boldero) to a resolution passed at the beginning of the Session, that no motion could be brought on on Fridays or Mondays on moving the Orders of the Day, unless it had a direct bearing upon the question before it.
§ Captain Boldero
was taken by surprise at the observations that had been made by the Chair. He had given notice, on his first taking his seat in that House, in the present Session, that he should move for leave to bring in a bill relative to military punishment. Some short time since, the 1250 noble Lord opposite (Viscount Howick) stated to him, that when the Mutiny Bill was brought forward, that would be the proper time for him to introduce his motion. He had waited till the bill was introduced, and upon that occasion the noble Lord had promised him that he should have an opportunity of bringing his motion forward when the bill was under discussion for a second reading. The bill had been read a second time when he was out of town and without his knowledge, and under such circumstances he trusted the House would not consider him out of order if he brought his motion forward now.
§ Viscount Howick
thought, that the hon. Member had not takena correct view of what had really taken place, The fact was, that the Mutiny Bill had been read a second time without discussion, upon the understanding that the discussion was to be taken upon the bill in Committee. The hon. Member, therefore, had lost nothing by the bill being read a second time. With respect to the objection now taken, he would respectfully ask the chair whether the resolution of the House did not arise more with respect to the reading of the order of the day than bringing such subjects as those involved in the notice of the hon. Member under discussion. He presumed that the House had now agreed to the reading of the orders of the day for the House going into Committee on the Mutiny Bill. For his own part, he had no objection whatever to the hon. Gentleman making his motion, provided he could do so consistently with the rules of the House.
§ The Speaker
said, that his reason for mentioning the subject was, that the present was the first case of the kind that had occurred. He only wished that the House should come to some clear understanding upon the question for his own guidance.
§ Lord John Russell
said, the Speaker had, no doubt, stated the case very properly, but he (Lord John Russell) had always intended that the hon. and gallant Member should bring on his motion upon that stage of the bill. He had no objection to the motion being proceeded with, and perhaps the gallant Gentleman might frame his motion in some other shape. Suppose he was to move an instruction to the Committee to postpone the punishment clauses; in such a case he might effect his object, and at the same time avoid coming in collision with the rules of the House.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, the proposition of the noble Lord was so preposterous and ridiculous that it could not for a moment be entertained. Perhaps the noble Lord would allow the original motion to be brought on, as it was impossible that the House could agree to an instruction to the Committee to postpone the Mutiny Bill until some other Committee had reported.
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, the motion of the gallant Member was perfectly analogous to the subject which was before the House.
§ The Speaker
said, the reason why he had called the attention of the House to the subject, was, it having struck him that great difficulty must necessarily arise by entertaining a motion which might delay the passing of the Mutiny Bill. It was for the House to determine whether it considered the motion of the hon. Member (Captain Boldero) was strictly analogous with the moving of the order for going into a Committee on the Mutiny Bill.
§ Lord John Russell
wished only to observe, that he considered they ought to adhere to the ancient rule of the House, which was, that when the question was put that the Speaker do leave the chair, any motion made ought to have a direct bearing on the question at issue. He thought it was according to the ancient rule of the House, that after the question had been put that the Speaker do leave the chair, no motion be made which had not a direct relation to the bill which was to be committed. He would not now object to the motion of the hon. and gallant Member being brought forward on this occasion, because he considered it as having a direct bearing on the main question.
§ Captain Boldero
rose to bring forward his motion respecting rewards and punishments in the army. A commission had been appointed on this subject, and composed of hon. and intelligent men. But none of its members appeared favourable to the abolition of corporal punishment, nor was any medical witness named except one, and he not upon the general question. This commission recommended several alterations in the system of military punishments; and he (Captain Boldero) moved on this occasion for a Committee to consider whether these alterations had been beneficial to the army. Let the House compare the system of punishment now carried on with that practised ten years 1252 ago. Then a crime was visited with 1,000 lashes which now was punished by only 200. Public opinion was decidedly opposed to that cruel and revolting punishment, and severa military friends of his took a great pride in carrying on discipline by milder means. He now asked the House for a Committee to ascertain whether a substitute could not be found for corporal punishment. When they looked round and saw the vast improvements that had of late years taken place in their civil and political relations, it surely might be thought judicious to extend these improvements to the military department. As a military man he was conscious of the importance of maintaining discipline. An army without discipline was an ungoverned mob in time of peace, and in time of war was liable to all excesses. Punishments must bear a relative proportion to the crime committed. A prisoner punished for a crime in excess received the commiseration of his fellow-men, and that proved that all punishment ought to be founded upon the fundamental principles implanted in the human breast—mercy and justice. It had often been asked why the British soldier, who was certainly the best in Europe, was the only one who was subjected to the punishment of the lash? The fact was, nine-tenths of the crimes in the British army arose from drunkenness; but did no other soldier drink? Certainly, the German soldier drank deeply, but there was generally a glimmering of reason left in him. The French soldier drank to a certain extent—he drank to a limited degree, and it was very rare that a French soldier was to be seen drunk. The British soldier drank till he was beastly drunk, all his reason flew from him. What was the use of punishment to a man in a state of intoxication? Punishment had no effect on him whatever. The more the punishment, the more the crime; the less the punishment, the less the crime. What is the best punishment for a drunkard? The best punishment for a drunkard, as experience had shown, was to take him away from the companionship of his dissipated fellow men—to keep him in prison; and that sort of confinement had been proved to have a better effect on the disposition of men than all the stripes that could be inflicted.
He saw an hon. and gallant Officer, the Member for Westminster, seated opposite to him. He presumed that he should have the gallant Officer's vote on this occasion, 1253 especially as he intended to limit his inquiry to the possibility of finding a substitute for flogging in the home service during time of peace. That hon. and gallant Officer had been in command since he had last given a vote on this subject, and had, notwithstanding his previous votes in that House, carried flogging into execution to a great extent in an army in the field. He must candidly confess, that he did not like the quantity of flogging which had occurred in the British Legion; but perhaps the hon. and gallant Officer had found it impossible to do without it in the presence of the enemy. He had himself on a former occasion voted with the hon. and gallant Officer for the total abolition of flogging in all cases; but he was now inclined to retract that opinion to a certain extent, upon the authority of the hon. and gallant Officer, who had found it necessary to recede from his former opinion. He believed that the hon. and gallant Officer while in command in Spain, considered himself bound, by certain stipulations which had been signed by himself. One of those stipulations was, that the corps under his command should be governed in the field in conformity with the British military articles of war, and that in matters not connected with military discipline they should be governed by the laws and discipline of Spain. He would mention the system, which he understood the hon. and gallant Officer had pursued in Spain, and if he were wrong, the hon. and gallant Officer would have an opportunity to correct him. The hon. and gallant Officer had given out an order that all provost-marshals should be empowered to inflict summary punishment on the breech to the amount of two dozen lashes. He thought that that was contrary to the British articles of war. But the order proceeded to enact that the provost marshals must themselves see the offence committed, or have it proved to them on the evidence of competent eye-witnesses. Now, that was positively contrary to the articles of war in the British service. Our articles of war distinctly stated that the provost marshals must themselves see the crime committed before they ventured to inflict summary punishment. If they learned from the evidence of other persons that the crime had been committed, they had no more power to punish the individual committing it than the hon. and gallant Officer had to punish summarily any captain or subaltern under his command. In such case a report must be made of the circumstances to the com- 1254 mander in the field, who was authorised to deal with it as he might think the exigences of the service required. The hon. Member quoted the articles of war on which he relied, and requested the House to contrast them with the orders issue by the hon. and gallant Officer opposite. He thought, that by issuing that order, the hon. and gallant Officer had placed himself in a very awkward predicament. He hoped, however, that he would be able to get over it To show how greatly this system had been abused, he read an extract from a recent publication of Brigadier-general Shaw, of the Legion, in which he stated that, "neither the officers nor he, approved of some regiments being punished, at the discretion of the subalterns, as several of the subalterns had a less idea of soldiering than the men they punished." Before punishment was inflicted for any offence, the provost-marshal ought to have seen with his own eyes the commission of the offence, and yet, in spite of that regulation of our service, the hon. and gallant officer had allowed every captain and subaltern under his command to punish offenders at pleasure. He saw that the hon. and gallant officer had his own orders in his hand. The hon. and gallant Officer had also the Mutiny Act near him, on the table, and he defied the gallant Officer, with all his ingenuity, to show, that he had not, whilst in Spain, violated the British articles of war. He would now take the liberty of putting a question to the hon. and gallant Officer, to which he hoped to receive an answer. If he were in the position of the hon. and gallant Officer, he should feel obliged to any Gentleman who would put to him the question which he was about to put to the hon. and gallant Officer. He had seen it reported in the newspapers, and hitherto the report had remained uncontradicted, that the provost-marshal appointed under the command of the hon. and gallant Officer had exercised his summary power of punishment to such an extent that he had even punished a woman upon the breech. He asked the hon. and gallant Officer, face to face, whether that were so. He did not accuse the hon. and gallant Officer of having authorised that punishment himself. He well knew that the hon. and gallant Officer was a man of too much humanity to have authorised any such thing. But what he wanted to know was this: "Has the provost-marshal abused his power of summary punishment to the extent of flogging a woman 1255 on the breech? "He was bound to put these questions to the hon. and gallant officer, because when his hon. and gallant friend had adverted to this subject in a former debate, the answer of the hon. and gallant Officer did not appear to him to be at all satisfactory. He asked for a Committee in order to prove, that the present system of military discipline was bad, and that it might be greatly improved. The paucity of rewards to the deserving soldiers was one of its chief defects. No troops were more sensitive to a feeling of military honour than those of Britain. The present system of enlistment for life, condemned men to a slavery from which there was no prospect of a release. He was strongly in favour of confining the term of enlistment to twenty-one years, which would materially alleviate the lot of the privates, and hold out a probability of retirement after their long period of laborious service. He regretted, that the policy of our Administrations for some time back should have been rather to extort from the soldier the greatest possible amount of service at the smallest possible remuneration, than to encourage merit and long service by judiciously apportioned rewards. On a former occasion he had mentioned, that, under the new regulations framed by the noble Secretary at War, a soldier, getting his discharge at the end of twenty-one years' service in the infantry, and twenty-four in the cavalry, was entitled only to a pension of 6d. a-day instead of 1s., as formerly. The noble Lord had said he laboured under a mistake, and he was not at the time enabled to prove that he was right, but he now held in his hand the warrant of the late King, from which it appeared, that the pension of privates after that term of service was not to be less than 6d., nor more than 1s. The soldier's actual right was only to 6d., and it was almost impossible that a man could perform all the acts of duty required from him before he could receive 1s. It was his firm conviction, that, by a well-regulated system of rewards, and by increasing the comforts of the soldiers, corporal punishment might be dispensed with in time of peace; and in confirmation of that view, it was stated in the report of the commission, that there were some regiments in the service in which, by the prudence and skill of the commanding officer, and his kindness to the soldiers, it had been virtually abolished. One of these officers, the distinguished colonel of a regiment, and well known to the hon. and 1256 gallant Member for Westminster, had done away with the use of corporal punishment in his own corps for a considerable time; he afterwards went out to Spain with the hon and gallant Member, where he witnessed punishments so severe that he was obliged to close his eyes during their infliction. A gallant General opposite, eminent for his services, had said, that he was willing to consent to the abolition of the present degrading system of punishment if an efficient substitute for it could be found; he believed that an efficient substitute could be found, and he, therefore, hoped for the aid of the gallant General on the present occasion. It was impossible to describe the revolting nature and corrupting effects of the punishment of the lash; death had frequently been found to follow the execution of a sentence, and it often happened that mortal wounds gave less pain than was inflicted by a single stripe. He called on them to abolish this barbarous and brutal torture, and show to the continental nations that British soldiers could discharge their duty with equal fidelity under the impulse of more ennobling motives than that of terror. He begged to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the state of military punishments and rewards now in force throughout the British army.
§ Colonel Davies
should oppose the motion for this simple reason, that a Committee had already inquired. That Committee had every species of evidence before it which could, by any possibility, be obtained; and he, therefore, did not see that any good result would follow the appointment of another Committee. He thought that the experiment of abolishing altogether corporal punishment could not be safely made. The want of some such discipline had often been severely felt in the French army. When Massena retreated from before the lines of Torres Vedras, the track of his soldiers was marked by burning buildings, and he had heard the French people often declare, that they suffered less from the passage of the British army than from their own troops. For these reasons he should hesitate to vote for the total abolition of corporal punishment. He thought, that, if commissions were reserved for soldiers who had served ten or twelve years in the army, the character of the soldiery would be improved; and placing before them the prospect of such a reward would go much further to reform them than such motions as the present.
§ Mr. Poulter
said, that he felt bound to vote for the motion, as he was most anxious that inquiry should take place on this most important subject. He was desirous to introduce a better spirit into the army, and to give the soldier some motives for good behaviour, and some object of ambition. He was afraid that such a system had never been fairly tried. It had been attempted to connect the unfortunate punishment of flogging with the glorious achievements of the British army. He contended that these achievements were owing to a very different cause. They were owing to the high and generous feeling, and the natural superiority of the British troops. His hon. and gallant Friend had been charged with inconsistency on this subject. Now, he could see nothing inconsistent in his gallant Friend declaring his opinion on the hustings, and voting according to that opinion for the abolition of corporal punishment, and departing from this strict rule when placed at the head of a body of undisciplined troops. His hon. and gallant Friend must either have done so, or abandoned all hope of disciplining his army. He would vote for the motion of the hon. and gallant Member, because it was, he thought, the last hope of getting rid of a punishment which was odious in the sight of the whole British people.
Sir H. Vivian
said, that having frequently on former occasions given his opinion on this subject, he would enter upon it now as briefly as possible. Before, however, he entered upon the subject at all, he must express his deep regret that the hon. and gallant mover should have taken this opportunity to make an attack on his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Evans.) Whatever might be the justice or injustice of that attack, this was not the time for making it. He thought, from all the opportunities he had of learning the facts from his hon. and gallant Friend and other officers, that although corporal punishment might have been occasionally, and, if hon. Members opposite chose, he would say frequently, had recourse to by his hon. and gallant Friend, yet looking at the extraordinary situation in which his hon. and gallant Friend was placed, and the difficulties with which he had to contend, he must say, that his hon. and gallant Friend had brought the Legion into a very tolerable state of discipline, with, perhaps, a less degree of punishment than had ever been inflicted under similar circumstances. The hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham had re- 1258 ferred to the 101st article of war, in order to show that his hon. and gallant Friend had exceeded the powers given to him. Now, he thought that there would be no difficulty in showing that his hon. and gallant Friend had exceeded the powers given by that article according to the strict sense of the law. But these powers had been exceeded by every British army that had ever taken the field. The hon. and gallant Member admitted, that the provost-marshal had the power of life and death; but he added, that it was not certain whether he had this power under circumstances where a report was made that a man was guilty of an act of plunder. He had seen two instances—one where a man was shot, and the other where a man was hung, because they were reported to have been guilty of acts of plunder. He would say a few words upon the subject of corporal punishment. He perfectly well knew what a degree of odium attached to any man who ventured to say, that corporal punishment could not be done away with. He had been as desirous all his life of doing away with this punishment as any of his brother officers, and in his orders to the army he had so expressed himself. He would take the liberty of reading an extract from the general order which he issued when he first assumed the command of the army in Ireland:—The experience of the lieutenant-general has convinced him that nothing destroys the effect of this species of punishment so soon as its familiarity; and, however appalling it may appear in the first instance, the frequent recurrence of it is equally fatal in the end, to discipline, as well as to that high moral feeling upon which the professional character of armies and regiments can alone ultimately depend. By a judicious exercise of the powers so vested in them, there can be no doubt that the necessity for corporal punishment may in a great degree be avoided, more especially if accompanied by the strictest possible attention on the part of officers to the duty of the interior. The lieutenant-general has ever considered that the man who at an early age quits his home, his family, and his friends for the service of his king and country, has a right to claim from those under whose command he is placed, an anxious endeavour to promote his happiness and welfare. The captain, or officer in command of each troop or company, stands to the soldier belonging to it in the relation of a parent, and should consider himself called upon, as far as lies in his power, to fulfil the duties of one. The habits, the temper, the wants, and even the wishes of every man confided to his charge should be attended to, and, as far as possible, consulted. If well con- 1259 ducted he should be indulged, if otherwise he should be restrained by such preventive means in the first instance as a wise and well regulated economy affords; and, above all, by the additional moral influence which a sense of justice and a feeling of attachment cannot fail to supply. It is, as far as possible, to the ascendancy of these means, and of this influence, that the lieutenant-general desires to see the troops under his orders indebted for their discipline, as well as for their happiness, and he feels persuaded, that the power to be acquired by the exercise of these principles, is infinitely more certain and more durable than any which fear or intimidation can confer. When this power shall be found ineffectual, punishment, of course must follow; but even then the application of it should be governed by a wise discrimination, and by the circumstances of the case, as well as by the character and general conduct of the offender. By such a system, under which the strongest incentive to good conduct in the minds of the non-commissioned officers, and men would arise from a principle of attachment to their officers, a high sense of honour in themselves, and a pride in upholding the character of their respective corps, Sir Hussey Vivian is convinced, that the highest state of discipline may be maintained. It is with these feelings, and in this persuasion, that he earnestly directs the attention of officers in command to this most desirable object, assuring them, at the same time, that it will afford him the greatest satisfaction to find, that whilst the high character already acquired by the troops in Ireland, has been preserved, the frequency of corporal punishment has been diminished.This had always been his feeling with respect to corporal punishment, and upon this feeling he had always endeavoured to act, and he trusted he always should continue to act. The hon. and gallant Member who introduced this subject, stated that in many instances corporal punishment had been done away with, and no harm had followed. He rejoiced to find that corporal punishment had been very much reduced, and he should be delighted to see the day when it could be done away with altogether. He would, however, on this subject take the liberty of reading a return of the number of punishments that had taken place while he had the command of the army in Ireland:—In 1831 (the first year), in an army of 22,373, the number of corporal punishments was 254, the number of desertions 182, and the number of persons imprisoned 673. Whilst in 1834, the army having been raised to 23,948 men, the number of corporal punishments was 154, the number of desertions 397, and the number of persons imprisoned 1,532.1260 There was no question that the effect of doing away with a summary mode of punishment had in many respects led to acts which they all must sincerely deplore. For instance, the number of men that deserted from regiments ordered on foreign service was at this moment much greater than ever. The soldiers knew perfectly well that if they deserted they would be brought before a court-martial and sentenced to imprisonment, and they would thus attain the object for which they deserted, and avoid being sent on foreign service to the West Indies, or some other place. From twenty-five to thirty men deserted from every regiment that was ordered on foreign service; but this took place, though in a less degree, when recourse was had to corporal punishment. Another crime which had increased much of late was a want of respect and obedience towards non-commissioned officers. What punishment was to be inflicted in place of corporal punishment? Was it imprisonment in the Penitentiary? The hon. and gallant Captain said, that that place was too comfortable, and that the prisoners there had nothing to complain of, and of course imprisonment there would not be a punishment. Was the soldier, then, to be imprisoned in the common gaol alongside of a felon? If corporal punishment was degrading and disgraceful, he thought that such a punishment in such company was much more degrading and disgraceful. During the whole time that he held the command of the army in Ireland he had found solitary confinement produce the worst possible effect. Those who were thus punished became sullen and dogged, and they generally came back in less than six months. What, then, he would ask, was to be the substitute for corporal punishment? He would go any length to find a substitute. Of late, since discussions of this nature had become common, feelings had arisen in the army which did not formerly exist. He thought that the good soldier would rather see the man who disgraced the corps punished by the lash than to have him sent to prison, the consequence of which was that the good soldier was himself punished by having to perform a great amount of duty, as the service of any soldier imprisoned was so much lost to his fellow soldiers. He thought there would be great difficulty in finding a substitute for corporal punishment. He knew and could mention many instances of persons having risen to commissions who had received cor- 1261 poral punishment. There was one, in particular, whom he met a few months since. This fellow was a very bad soldier, and twenty-five years ago was brought by him to a court-martial which sentenced him to 150 lashes. This man, who had since become an officer of excise, told him that he had been the saviour of him. He could state other instances, and amongst others' that of one of the bravest fellows on the face of the world, who, after receiving corporal punishment, obtained a commission for good conduct, and fell at Waterloo. He was anxious to abolish corporal punishment, but the difficulties in the way of doing so were so great that he could not see his way out of it, and how at the same time the discipline of the army could be preserved, for an army without discipline was as formidable to its friends as to its enemies. If these difficulties could be got rid of, he would go heart in hand with the hon. and gallant Member in doing away with corporal punishment. He should be extremely glad if any means could be taken to raise the character and position of the soldier in the British army. He should like to see the soldier placed in the situation in which the policeman in Ireland was placed, so that it would be a punishment to him to be discharged. If this could be done they might get rid of corporal punishment altogether. The police of Ireland consisted of 7,000 of the finest men on the face of the earth; and, during the time he had been in Ireland, he could say, that he had never seen a drunken policeman. Why was this? Because these men were in a situation, to be discharged from which would be a severe punishment. Were they prepared to do this for the soldier? Were they prepared to meet the additional enormous expense? Looking at the situation of the British army, and looking at the colonies which they had to take care of, he would ask, was it possible to place the soldier in such a position? He should be glad to find some effective substitute for corporal punishment, but until this was done he should be very sorry to see the power taken from the officers, whilst, at the same time, he was at all times desirous to curtail that power, and he was ready to go heart and hand in any mode of doing away with corporal punishment if the means could be found. On all these grounds, and feeling that any discussion of this subject was more likely to do mischief than good, giving rise to unfounded notions in the soldier, he felt bound to vote against the motion.
§ Mr. Hume
was very sorry, that the hon. and gallant Officer who had just sat down, while he professed himself anxious to find a substitute for corporal punishment, refused to vote for an inquiry the object of which was to discover such a substitute. It appeared to him that the hon. and gallant Officer, while he was anxious to do away with corporal punishment, stated rather strangely, if he (Mr. Hume) interpreted him rightly, that the result of the abolition of severe corporal punishment had been to render crimes much more numerous. If inquiry were granted they would, in all probability, find some good reason for this. The hon. and gallant Member for Worcester (Colonel Davis) said, that they had had inquiry already, and that further inquiry was unnecessary. The hon. and gallant Colonel might not recollect that since that inquiry there had been a great change, a system of rewards and a variation of punishments had been put into operation; and he, for one, wanted to know what had been the effect of that change, and whether it had been beneficial or prejudicial? He was clearly of opinion, that it would turn out that this new system had not been tried sufficiently. The hon. and gallant General (Sir H. Vivian) said, that no good could arise from inquiries and discussions on this subject. He (Mr. Hume) recollected the day when it was thought impossible to do without ten times the present quantity of corporal punishment; but, in consequence of the discussions in that House, and the effect produced on the public opinion, a great change had taken place. That change had been much for the better, but he still thought that a greater change ought to take place. He would support the inquiry proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham, because he hoped it would discover the means of dispensing with corporal punishment entirely in time of peace, if not in time of war and in the face of the enemy. He would ask, then, why the House should refuse inquiry? It was his intention to move for returns to show, what had been the state of punishment in the army since the last return, how many men had been flogged and how many imprisoned, and also how many had been promoted, as a means of rewarding them. One of the objects of the Committee would be, to see to what extent the system of rewards had been tried, whether it had been applied equally to every regiment, and whether the effect of it was good or bad? Such an 1263 inquiry would be, in his opinion, exceedingly salutary. The hon. Member concluded by stating, that he should support the motion, and that he should regret very much if the inquiry sought for was refused by the House.
said, that the inquiry before the select Committee in 1834 upon this subject had brought him to the conclusion, that it would be utterly impossible, consistently with the safety and discipline of the army, to abolish the use of corporal punishment. He entirely concurred in the forcible expression of the Secretary at War, who on that occasion said, "If you abolish coporal punishment you had better disband the army altogether." With this conviction he could not but think it highly inexpedient and dangerous, that the subject should again be brought under the discussion of the House. It was not his purpose, therefore, on the present occasion to enter upon the merits of the question, but chiefly to offer a few observations on a point of law stated incidentally to the present debate by the hon. Baronet, the Member for East Cornwall, and in reference to which he thought it highly desirable, that the Law Officers of the Crown should express their opinion to the House. He certainly had understood the hon. and gallant Officer, the Member for Westminster, when on a former occasion he made so temperate and, if he would permit him to add, able defence of his conduct in reference to the affairs of Spain, to challenge Gentlemen on this (the Opposition) side of the House to bring forward any grounds of charge against him, and he could assure the hon. and gallant Officer, that in whatever he might now be about to say, he had no intention of treating the subject as one bearing personally on that hon. and gallant Officer, but as a question of principle of vital importance to our army. He would not pretend to say to what extent the corporal punishments in the Legion were justified by the circumstances of the case, nor would he speak of that army in the terms which had been sometimes applied to them, such as the "offscourings of society," and so forth. His observations would have reference solely to the mode in which corporal punishments had been administered amongst that body of troops. He thought it was no more than due to those who did not shrink from the unpopular responsibility 1264 of maintaining the power of corporal punishment in the army, that they should know whether the law did not limit as well as justify that mode of punishment; and whether or not the construction which the Master-General of the Ordnance had put upon the 101st article of war was the construction which the Law Officers of the Crown considered the true and real construction, and such as the officers commanding her Majesty's forces would be justified, and, if justified, bound to adopt? In this point of view the question was one of importance whether the course pursued by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster in Spain had been consistent with the British articles of war. He thought that an explanation of this kind was due also because the hon. and gallant Officer had been selected by her Majesty's Government for a signal mark of favour in a decoration which had been looked forward to with desire and ambition by many much older officers in the service than that hon. and gallant Officer. This, he thought, was clear in the career of the hon. and gallant Officer, that fortune had not smiled upon his labours, and that, whatever other merits he might lay claim to as a commander, he could nor claim the merit of success. It was important, therefore, that the House should know whether her Majesty's Government considered the conduct of the hon. and gallant Officer in the particular instance that had been referred to had been consistent with the articles of war, and, if not, whether they considered the deviation from them so trivial a circumstance as to be unworthy of the slightest consideration? For his own part he must say, he could not understand how the Master-General of the Ordnance could raise a doubt as to the construction of the 101st article of war. He would ask whether it was not one established point in the provost system, that the provost-marshal should punish of his own authority only those offences of which he was an eye witness, and that he had no power to punish any other offences under directions received from any officer below the general officer? Was it not a further limitation of the system, that it was only when the troops were in the field or on a march? Now, he presumed, that no one would pretend to say, that troops in a garrison which was not in a state of siege were contemplated by the Act which li- 1265 mited the provost system to troops in the field and on march. He believed, that the provost-marshal could only inflict the punishment of death in circumstances contemplated by the Mutiny Act itself. He had always understood also, that the person who filled this post was always selected from amongst the non-commissioned officers or privates, and never from superior officers. The whole of the powers of the provost-marshal, as defined by the Act, were, "To preserve good order in the field and to prevent breaches of order, and to punish on the spot, and on the same day, those whom he might find guilty of such misconduct, provided that the punishment be limited by the necessity of the case, and by the orders received from the general officer in the field." But, in respect to offences which the provost-marshal did not see committed, it was provided, that the "provost-marshal should report the circumstances of the case to the commander of the army in the field, who was empowered to deal with the case as he thought the circumstance required, and as might seem most conducive to the maintenance of the said order." So that it appeared that if the provost-marshal did not see the offence committed he had no power to punish it, but only to collect and report the evidence to the general in the field, and, further, that he was not authorised to receive orders from any officer inferior to the general-in-chief. He (Mr. Pemberton) did not wish to impute to the hon. and gallant officer any inclination to the exercise of unnecessary severity, but he declared that no one who had read his general order of August, 1835, and this article of war could admit that they were consistent with one another. The hon. and learned Gentleman read a passage from this general order, as to the appointment of provost, who should "be liable to receive orders from general and staff officers." Now, he believed that these terms were so comprehensive that a captain commanding a company would be within the definition. On a former occasion the language of the Duke of Wellington has been quoted, expressive of the opinion that the provost system was not sufficiently extensive and operative. But surely if those who quoted this authority were to reflect a little upon it they would see that so far from its justifying the order of the hon. and gallant Officer, it was a strong evidence against it, for even the Duke of Wellington, when the fate of his army depended on its discipline, and the 1266 fate of Europe depended on his army, did not think himself competent to depart from the letter of the law, and reprehended the conduct of officers in issuing orders to the provost-marshal. He would just beg the attention of the House to a passage from a general order of the Duke of Wellington in 1811, which he would now read:—"The commander of the forces is concerned to learn that the powers of the provost marshal have been in more than once instance abused, and that officers have thought themselves authorised to send orders to the provost, under whom abuses contrary to the established orders and regulations of the service have been committed." He hoped that the Judge Advocate would tell the House, in the course of the evening, whether the construction of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster's order of August, 1835, was in his opinion consistent with the articles of war. For his own part, he must repeat that in his opinion the observations of the Master-General of the Ordnance in reference to this order and the 101st article of war were wholly irreconcilable.
Sir H. Vivian
rose to explain. We understood him to say, that he had never seen the orders of the hon. and gallant Officer in Spain; and that what he had said was, that he thought that upon scrutinising the matter it might be found that similar cases of punishment had sometimes occurred in our own army, and that he doubted whether, under the circumstances, they would not be justifiable by the articles of war.
§ Sir A. Dalrymple
with respect to the provost system, declared his opinion that the duties of the provost-marshal were never intended to enforce military discipline. There were attached to all armies men who were not soldiers, and who in the field were under the authority and inspection of the provost-marshal. He was authorised to punish them when found thieving or marauding; but to punish a man under arms by the provost-marshal, he would take upon himself to say was a thing unheard of in the annals of war. The subject was one of considerable importance, as it involved a most dangerous precedent. He declared again that to bring man up to the provost for not doing his duty on parade was a most abominable and degrading mode of proceeding.
§ Sir G. de Lacy Evans
said, that every thing regarding the Legion had been made the subject of great exaggeration throughout the country; he was sure hon. Gentle- 1267 men opposite would themselves admit this. It had been alleged, amongst other things, that the flogging which had taken place in the Legion had not conduced towards the better discipline of the corps. This was one of those calumnies to which he had referred, and which was wholly unjustified by the fact. In the comments which had been made by hon. Gentlemen opposite on the subject of the provost system in the Legion, every one had omitted all reference to the great difference between the powers of the provost-marshal in the Legion in Spain and in the British army. In the Legion his power was of the minimum extent, whereas in the British army, by virtue of the Mutiny Act, the provost-marshal was endowed with an enormous and frightful responsibility. If, therefore, the Legislature were to think proper to inquire into this subject, he trusted the distinctive circumstances of the case would be remembered, and the inquiry be conducted with vigilance and candour. The powers of the provost in the Legion were of the most trivial kind, and extending only to what might almost be termed schoolboy punishments. There was one charge against him which had been made pretty good use of during the last general election, namely, of his having caused some women to be flogged. This charge had been pretty freely circulated through the public prints at the period he referred to; but he could hardly be expected to answer in print all the attacks which might be made upon him, who was one of the most humble individuals who had ever been in military command. Now, with respect to the circumstances alleged, he had never heard of any such thing until he saw the matter stated in the newspapers at nearly the end of the term of his service. He believed that there were only two cases of the kind mentioned. In one of them the officer said to have committed this outrage, as indeed it would be termed, if the circumstances were as related, was dead, and therefore no inquiry could be instituted; and the officer concerned in the other case had been since, he believed, cashiered. The alleged transactions had taken place a year previous, and under the circumstances it had become impossible to inquire into them. All he could now say, was, that he was not prepared to say whether such punishment as reported had been inflicted on women belonging to the legion or not; but that whether it were so or not, he repelled with scorn the imputation that it was under his 1268 sanction or authority that it took place. Soldiers' wives were often found very difficult to restrain in their conduct, and he believed that in the Peninsular army it had been found so, and that in consequence it had been found necessary to inflict punishment of some slight kind upon the offenders; for which, perhaps, there had been no better authority than for the cases now referred to. With respect to the articles of war in reference to the provost system, the hon. and gallant officer who had just spoken seemed to think, that the power of the provost-marshal was confined almost exclusively to followers of the army, and not to the soldiers themselves. In this view of the case, he thought the hon. and gallant officer was mistaken, as appeared by the words of the act itself, and which were, "to prevent breaches of order by soldiers and followers of the army;" and then the article went on, "provided the punishment be limited by the necessity of the case, and, in accordance with the orders received from time to time, from the officer commanding in the field." He thought, that these words evidently gave great latitude and discretion to the officer commanding in the field. It was true, that by the articles of war, no officer under a commander-in-chief, had the power of inflicting capital punishments but he maintained that it was no breach of these articles to give a power of punishing offences which were not of a capital nature to officers commanding brigades or regiments. To suppose that a corps, such as he commanded, could be regulated with as strict an adherence to discipline as was observed in a regular army, was a fallacy which conveyed a manifestly unjust imputation. He only acted in compliance with that discretion allowed to every commander-in-chief by the articles of war, when he was directed to act in such a manner as under all the circumstances of his situation, seemed most conducive to the suppression of crime. It had been admitted, that abuses had existed in the army, which was under the Duke of Wellington's command. Every military man must know that abuses, especially in the field, must prevail, more or less, in every army. He had no doubt, that abuses took place in the legion, but all be could say was, that when they were reported to him, he inflicted such punishment as the nature of the service, and the situation of the force, admitted of his imposing with discretion and propriety. He recollected that of three cases which were reported to him 1269 officially, two officers out of the three were obliged to leave the service. From the nature of the service, from the disadvantages of having only a few experienced officers, and no non-commissioned officers, on whom in so large a degree the discipline of a military force depended, he was left entirely to the control of the few officers commanding brigades and regiments. They who looked with so vigilant an eye to all his proceedings would perhaps have found it extremely difficult to act under such circumstances, as those which he had described. They must soon have admitted what a herculean task it was for those in command to mould at once, and to subdue to discipline and order, men who were never before accustomed in the slightest degree to the observance of any military regulations. The difficulty of accustoming the men to habits of subordination and regularity was rendered all but insuperable by the attacks of the press of this country, and the schemes of the emissaries of Don Carlos. As to the charge of inconsistency, between his opinions expressed in that House, and his conduct in the command of the Legion, he thought he was much less exposed to such an imputation than hon. Gentlemen opposite; for so far from desiring to limit the power of inflicting corporal punishments, which was reposed in the commander, he had always contended, that it should be as full and unrestricted as possible. The question of his consistency was, however, one to be decided by his constituents, and he had received their acquittal by a majority of 1,100 votes. There was, however, no inconsistency whatever between his conduct and his opinions, for he had stated in his evidence, in common with many other gentlemen, that he did not see the possibility or expediency of abolishing corporal punishments. On the contrary, he thought it impossible to carry this proposal into operation abroad, until the experiment was tried on the home service. With regard to the higher punishments, he had endeavoured during the period of his command to commute them. He had been continually remonstrated with by the officers under him, on the necessity of making an example, by inflicting in some instances a punishment of a more severe character. The fact then was, that an understanding had been come to between his officers and him, that the provost system should be extended, while punishments of a more harsh description, were laid aside. The only 1270 question was, whether the power of inflicting these lighter punishments, should be intrusted to officers commanding regiments and brigades; and when full authority was conferred on the commander, for the purpose of establishing discipline, he did not see that any serious grounds of accusation had been established against the course which he had adopted. Two court-martials had taken place in Bilbao—one for mutiny and insubordinate conduct, and the other for stabbing. The offenders were both punished by imprisonment and hard labour. There was a vast distinction between the power exercised in the British army, and that observed with regard to the Legion, and he felt most happy in being enabled to say, that his experience during the latter service enabled him to support the motion which was now made. So far from thinking severe punishments indispensable, he had arrived at the contrary conclusion, and it gave him great satisfaction to state, that however his conduct might be traduced, he was the only person who held a chief command without being driven to the necessity of resorting to capital punishments. It might be said, that a feeling of doubt as to his justification in law had restrained him. He did not know whether that species of argument would be used against him; he was satisfied that it was unfair; for, supposing he was restrained by doubts as to the military law concerning subjects of this country, he could have no such fears as to the natives of other countries who fell into his hands, and were in various cases amenable to capital punishments if he wished to enforce them. If, then, he had, as to the provost system, exceeded the strict practice of a regular army, he was at least entitled to the credit of having commuted all severe, and abolished all capital, punishments in the force under his command. He was not aware of anything more with which he ought to trouble the House, except to say, that he most cordially supported the motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
said, that although he had the misfortune to differ on many points from the hon. and gallant Officer who had just sat down, he was satisfied, that in arriving at the resolution to which he had come, of not inflicting capital punishments, he was actuated by the dictates of humanity; and in any observation which he should make on the conduct of the gallant Officer, he wished to be understood as not 1271 at all imputing to him tyrannical motives, however much he condemned the provost system which the gallant Officer had adopted, as despotic and illegal. It was his misfortune to differ from the gallant officer; but, from his former acquaintance with the gallant Officer's conduct, and from his character, he felt bound to say, that whatever error of judgment he committed, he did not wish to charge him personally with any unbecoming irregularity. But he thought it was most important, that the practice of the army, so far as it could be laid down by military rule and law, ought to be strictly followed, for he could not conceive anything more dangerous to an army than not to act in accordance with military rules and regulations, or anything more likely to induce mutiny and other destructive consequences. The gallant Officer attempted to justify his conduct by referring to the abuses which prevailed under the command of the Duke of Wellington. He did not complain of the existence of abuse, but of the adoption of a principle that was contrary to law. The abuses which existed in the Duke of Wellington's army were incident to every human institution; but the fault committed by the gallant Officer was the adoption of a system neither compatible with the government of the soldier nor consonant to the law. Now, what was the practice of which the Duke of Wellington complained in 1810? He stated, that he had no police corps, such as those adopted in other armies, no detached courts-martial, and that the provost was not strong enough as it was then enforced. What subsequently happened? A clause was introduced, which stood the twelfth in the articles of war, by which a small number of officers might, when regiments were marching up a country, take evidence against, and sentence to death, any insubordinate soldier, with this restriction, that the sentence could not be executed without the consent of the commander-in-chief. It had, previously to this alteration, frequently happened, that if the soldiers ill-treated any of the inhabitants of a country through which they passed, the officers had only the power of sending forward the complainants perhaps a distance of 150 miles, to urge their accusations before the commander-in-chief, or to send down a commission in order to try the offence. A police guard was next established for securing order on retreats, or when entering towns. The third point complained of 1272 in the Duke of Wellington's despatch was remedied by a general order issued at Granada, in which it was particularly specified, that no officer should have the power of punishing by provost-marshal of inflicting corporal punishment without seeing the offence actually committed; otherwise they were to report the circumstances to the commander-in-chief, who was to order a court to sit and inquire into them. Then came the gallant Officer's system of provost; and the gallant Officer intrusted that power to every commanding officer of a regiment, which was never before known in the British service. Another article of war which he believed he had introduced, declared, that no soldier should be struck unless he was first brought to court-martial. He thought it extremely improper that punishment should be inflicted under the excitement of passion, and it was never intended that men should receive corporal punishment for negligence in their dress, absence from parade, or such kind of offences, which met with this harsh treatment in the Legion. He believed he could show, that in the Duke of Wellington's army it was intended, and the rule was generally observed, that no man should be punished by provost who was not taken in open vagabondism. In Lisbon, where the provost was established, the commandant had a most difficult task in preserving order, in a place where men were constantly arriving from, and, embarking for England. Yet there no power was exercised except that of court-martial: punishment by the provost was never dreamed of. Take another instance: when the army was retiring from Madrid, it was found extremely difficult to prevent it from plundering the places through which it passed; but one gallant officer kept his regiment in excellent order, by keeping up during the whole day, while he continued to march, a drum-head court-martial, which awarded a punishment to the offenders within ten minutes from the commission of the offence. This system, which he was justified in adopting when in the presence of the enemy, that gallant officer was so enamoured with, that he could not lay it aside when the army was in cantonments, and the consequence was, that he was reprimanded so strongly by his commanding officer, that he was obliged to leave the army. Such was the distinction observed between the mode of inflicting punishment when in the presence of the enemy and when in cantonments. Just previous to 1273 the battle of Waterloo Sir Thomas Picton was marching up his division under a fire, and a man in his regiment became extremely insubordinate. When the regiment halted at the top of the hill up which they were marching, a court-martial was held, and the man being flogged returned to his duty quite altered in his behaviour. He had stated this to show that General Picton could only have proceeded by the regular course pointed out by the military regulations. That gallant Officer (Sir G. de Lacy Evans) had in his evidence stated, that the powers of a commander-in-chief should be those of a dictator. He perfectly concurred in that opinion. He had no objection to intrust such powers to the gallant Officer himself, who was justified in keeping his force in order by corporal punishment and every possible means; but the despotism should have rested with the gallant Colonel himself, and not been extended to others. When they bore in mind that men were daily flogged by the orders of captains of regiments or subalterns, or underwent what the gallant Officer called the minimum of punishment, they had a right to call to his recollection that part of his evidence in which he complained, not of the cruelty of military punishment, but of its degrading and debasing principle. Now, surely on this head ten lashes were as objectionable, because as degrading to the character of the soldier, as 200. The truth was, that the system adopted by the gallant Officer was one of the inconveniences of his acting in irresponsible command; for had he pursued such a course when acting under the regulation of the regular army, he was quite sure that he would have had an intimation from the adjutant-general to this effect—"Take care what you are about—you are doing that which is not legal. You must adhere to the orders of the army, or ask her Majesty to give you new powers for the purpose you contemplate." The conduct of the gallant Officer was the more important, that he had stipulated that the men of the Legion should be treated according to the British articles of war.
§ Sir G. De Lacy Evans
begged to explain. He knew it had been said, that as he signed the document containing the conditions of the service, it was as binding on him as on the men. Now, the fact was, that the document itself was only signed by the Spanish minister, and all he did was to certify that a true copy was made of it, leaving the men to accept or reject the conditions as they thought proper.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
resumed. He was sure the gallant Officer was too straightforward and manly not to have determined never to accept the command if the Spanish Government were to lay down any other regulations for the conduct of the Legion but the British articles of war. The third article stated distinctly that the force was to be governed in all military matters in conformity with the British articles of war, and in matters not connected with the military department according to the laws of the country in which they were to serve. This article bore on its face the name of the gallant Officer opposite, who thus morally became responsible for its observance, and was so considered, and most naturally so considered, by the soldiers of the Legion. Too late, however, they found out that a totally different system was to be observed towards them from that sanctioned in the British army, for it was notorious that the commanding officers of the Legion regiments received from the gallant Officer powers of punishment which in the British army would not be given to general officers. The gallant Officer in August, 1835, a few days after the Legion landed at San Sebastian, and before the British system had even been tried, issued a general order, of which the following is an extract:—For the present there will be one deputy provost-marshal, with the rank and pay of ensign. This officer is to be attached to headquarters generally, but is liable to be sent with any brigade, regiment, or detachment, as may be directed. Each regiment will, until further orders, have a sergeant-assistant provost, selected from the most able-bodied, steadiest, and most efficient of the non-commissioned officers, with the pay of quarter-master-sergeant. The assistant-provosts to be under the control of the deputy-provost marshal, but all are liable to receive orders from general and staff officers and regimental commanding officers—provided always that such instructions are not in opposition to the following outline of the duties of the provost, viz.:—All provost-marshals and their assistants are empowered to inflict summary punishment (on the breech) to an amount not exceeding two dozen, according to the degree of offence, on soldiers and followers of the Legion found in the commission of offences against discipline, plundering, drunkenness, violence, and, in short, every offence tending to the subversion of good order in an army. The provost must either see the offence himself, or have it from the testimony of competent eye-witnesses.Yet one of the British articles of war, to which the gallant Officer was bound by the conditions of service countersigned by him, 1275 distinctly states that "whatever be the crime, the provost-marshal shall SEE the offender commit the act for which summary punishment may be inflicted." The evidence of Colonel Dixon, that men were frequently flogged on parade for slight breaches of discipline, such as having dirty accoutrements, being absent, &c., was sufficient; but it was rendered conclusive by the similar testimony of General Shaw. But he had other evidence on the point to offer to the House. On Saturday last two men called on him, and authorising him, if necessary, to give their names, detailed to him several particulars on the subject which had fallen under their own observation. One stated, that he had served as an adjutant in the Legion, and that on one occasion, when he brought in the report of the men absent from parade the previous evening, his commanding officer said to him, "Oh, give the rascals four dozen each and turn them out." And the men, he added, were punished accordingly. The other man, who had acted as provost-sergeant during thirteen months, informed him that captains of companies had the power to inflict the lash, and frequently ordered men to receive from two to four dozen, and further, that even subalterns ordered men to be punished for absence from parade. This, he hesitated not to assert, had never occurred in the British army. And it should be observed, that all this time the Legion was in garrison, neither in the field nor on the march. Men, repeatedly, the provost-sergeant added, had received three or four dozen lashes for being dirty, or having their accoutrements out of order, and four dozen morning and evening for using abusive language. These facts, he repeated, he stated on the authority of persons then in London, and whose names, if required, he was prepared to give up. On several occasions, it would even appear, the men were obliged to bring to the provost-marshal a verbal order for their punishment. The provost-sergeant who had called upon him, stated that on repeated occasions a man would come to him and say, "I am to have two dozen." He had inquired what was the average number of men punished daily, and the answer was, "From ten to fifteen; but this was by no means an unusual number." And then came a fact, which showed how easily the power so incautiously intrusted to the commanding officers might be, and was often abused. On one morning a commanding officer ordered no fewer than thirty-four men to 1276 receive four dozen each, for having been absent from parade the previous evening, the cause being, that they had, during the day, received the balance of their accounts, and got drunk. Such a quantity of punishment for so trivial an offence found no precedent in the British army. Then, as to the severity of the punishment: on one occasion, while the Legion was at Cordovan, a man (who had in person told him the story) received 300 lashes, by sentence of a court-martial. But what was the instrument with which these lashes were inflicted? He was told it was with the naval, and not with the military cat, that the punishment was inflicted, and he believed, that 300 lashes by the former were equal to 1,000 by the latter. When he was informed of this circumstance, he asked the man if he could prove it, and his answer was, that it was generally known, and that he had been confined in consequence of the punishment for several weeks in the hospital. Another instance of the arbitrary use of the powers confided in them by the commanding officers appeared in a circumstance detailed by the provost-sergeant:—A man was ordered by sentence of court martial to receive 100 lashes; the minutes of the court-martial were accidentally lost, but the commanding officer took upon himself to order, that the man should receive two dozen every morning until the 100 lashes were inflicted. It was due, however, to say, that all commanding officers had not taken such responsibility on their shoulders. Neither Colonel O'Connell nor Colonel Churchill had ever acted in this manner. In the British army what was endured by the men in the Legion was not known, and would not be tolerated. The men would infallibly shoot the officers who should thus become obnoxious to them; and if Serjeant Somerville, the patriot sufferer for whom 300l. had been collected by the hon. Member for Middlesex, might be believed, several of the Legion officers were shot in action by their own men in revenge for the wanton punishment inflicted on them. One word respecting the alleged punishment of women. Fully acquitting the gallant Officer of being a party to the infliction of corporal punishment of women, he must say, he had reason to believe there were instances in which it had occurred. The fact was, however, only to be attributed to the laxity of the system which prevailed—a system which could never be tolerated or sanctioned.
§ Mr. Tennyson D'Eyncourt
could not 1277 help thinking, that the more immediate object in view in bringing forward the present motion was to give hon. Gentlemen opposite an opportunity to make an attack on his hon. and gallant Friend near him, and the speech just delivered by the gallant Officer (Sir H. Hardinge), in which he had not made one single observation upon the general question, but had confined himself to comments on the conduct of the gallant Officer, tended to confirm him in his opinion. If so, however, their design had failed, for he felt sure the general opinion of the House was, that the hon. and gallant Officer had, in the management of the Legion, acted throughout from the purest and most humane motives, and maintained the discipline of the force in a manner no other man under similar circumstances could have done. While he had command of the Legion not a single case of capital punishment had occurred. In several instances courts martial had condemned men to death, but in every instance the sentence was commuted. He had been in communication with several officers of the Legion, and they had all represented, that the punishment inflicted on the soldiers was, as stated by the gallant Officer, but "school-boy" punishment; and often, when they advised more severe punishment, the gallant officer refused his consent. He knew not what might be the opinion of the House respecting the conduct of the hon. and gallant Member in regard to the question of military punishment, but he did not hesitate to say, that out of doors he was considered s having put in practice in Spain all the sentiments and opinions he had ever professed within the walls of Parliament. In conclusion, he begged to say it was his intention to vote in favour of the motion.
§ Captain Boldero
felt bound to repel the unwarrantable insinuation which had been thrown out against him. He had always stood up in that House as an advocate for the abolition of corporal punishment; and simply because the conduct of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster had been brought under notice while in Spain, what right had the right hon. Member who had just sat down to impute to him improper motives in bringing forward his motion?—
§ The Speaker
I think the hon. Member is mistaken. I am not aware that any imputation has been cast on the hon. Member.
§ Captain Boldero
felt bound to bow to the opinion of the chair, but must, notwithstanding, say, that the hon. Member had imputed to him an improper and un- 1278 manly motive, and he called upon him to apoligise for it.
§ The Speaker
I must again tell the hon. Member that he is mistaken; and I would put it to him wether he is justified in making the call he has done.
§ Mr. Tennyson D'Eyncourt
begged to assure the hon. and gallant Officer, that nothing was further from his intention than to impute to him either an improper or unmanly motive in bringing forward his motion. All he intended to convey was the fear, that the motion might have been suggested to him by others who desired to found upon it an attack against the hon. and gallant Officer, the Member for Westminster.
said, he had no intention to enter into the merits of the incidental discussion which had been raised, and which he could not help saying had been most inopportunely introduced. Neither upon the motion before the House did he propose making many observations; for, in the first place, the question had been already fully discussed; and, in the second, he found that the opinions he entertained upon it might be expressed in very few words. He objected to the appointment of the proposed Committee on several grounds. Firstly, he objected to it on the ground that no such inquiry as that of a Select Committee was required, or could be attended with the slightest advantage. A question of the magnitude and importance of that to which the motion referred could not be decided by the Report of a Select Committee; the House must determine whether the system of punishment, at present in force in the army, might be dispensed with, and what should be substituted in stead. The only object of a Committee would be to collect facts, on which to form an opinion; but, in the present instance, all parties, whether those in favour of the existing system or those who opposed it, seemed to be in full possession of all the facts which, either pro or con could be adduced, and on those facts to have made up their minds as to the vote they should give. Moreover, scarcely three years had elapsed since a commission had sat upon the subject, and in its report was contained every particle of evidence which could be required. If, then, the House were at all to entertain the motion, it should be understood as doing so, not for the purpose of inquiry, but of condemning the existing system of military punishments. If, however, it was the wish of the House so to condemn that 1279 system, he contended that they were bound to adopt some other course to give expression to their opinions than the inconvenient and injudicious one of assenting to the present motion. If they were of opinion that the existing system of military punishments should be abolished, why should they not proceed directly with a motion to that effect, and then provide a substitute for it? If they did not this, and if, without abolishing it, and providing a remedy, they contented themselves with a mere condemnation, they might greatly endanger the discipline of the army. For his own part, he begged to say, he was by no means prepared to take away the power of inflicting corporal punishment hitherto existing in the army. He did not see how that power could be safely dispensed with, or, if dispensed with, what substitute, and all admitted that a substitute must be devised, could be provided. The hon. Member for Kilkenny recommended as a substitute a system of rewards. He admitted, that much might be done to raise the moral discipline of the soldier by means of a well-planned system of rewards, but it would not be sufficient, as a substitute for corporal punishment. He had, however, he begged to say, attended as much as possible to the recommendation on this point of the Commission of 1835, and he held in his hand a return of the number of commissions given within the last four years, without purchase, to individuals who had served as non-commissioned officers in the British army. It appeared that, in the last four years, namely, from 1st April, 1834, up to the present time, the total number of appointments to commissions without purchase had been 396, of which number eighty-six were filled up by transfers from the half-pay list. Another mode of reward which had of late years come into very general operation was, increase of pay and honorary marks, given to soldiers for good conduct. It appeared that, in the same period, no fewer than 2,491 soldiers who had acquired a positive right to increase of pay for length of service, had given up their claim in this respect in order to receive the good-conduct warrants; and besides these, 6,715 other soldiers had entitled themselves to such warrants, making a total of 9,206 soldiers who had earned a right to good-conduct warrants. He thought it would be much better to trust to the increasing desire which existed among the military authorities to diminish, as much as possible, the extent of corporal punish- 1280 ment, than to seek to restrict the necessary power of those authorities by motions like the present. He would beg to call the attention of the House to what had been done on this subject in recent years. He found, from returns in his hand, that, since the year 1825, when the system of corporal punishment began to be materially restricted, the following changes had taken place. In 1825, the number of soldiers tried by court martial was 4,708, of whom 1,737 had received corporal punishment in pursuance of their sentence. From that year the system of corporal punishment had been greatly restricted, and the consequence had been, that the total number of courts-martial, since that period, had been considerably augmented, while the total number of corporal punishments had been proportionably diminished. This would appear clearly from the fact that in the year 1836, the number of courts-martial from 4,708 had increased to 8,965, nearly double the number in 1825, while the number of cases of corporal punishment in the same year had diminished from 1,723 to 683; little more than a third of the number inflicted in 1825. This showed that, on questions of this kind, the House ought to proceed with great caution. He trusted the House would reject the hon. Member's motion by a large majority.
§ Sir C. Broke Vere
hoped, the House would not be led, by any mistaken notions of humanity, to do that which would materially weaken the discipline, it was essential to maintain in the army.
§ The House divided on the original Motion.—Ayes 169: Noes 76; Majority 93.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, T. D.||Broadley, H.|
|Adam, Admiral||Broadwood, H.|
|Arbuthnott, Hon H.||Brownrigg, S.|
|Bailey, J.||Bruges, W. H. L.|
|Bailey, J., jun.||Burr, H.|
|Baker, E.||Busfield, W.|
|Baring, F. T.||Childers, J. W.|
|Baring, Hon. W. B.||Chisholm, A. W.|
|Barneby, J.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Bentinek, Lord G.||Clive, Hon. R. H.|
|Berkeley, Hon. C.||Codrington, C. W.|
|Blackburne, I.||Cole, Visct.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Compton, H. C.|
|Blair, J.||Dalmeny, Lord|
|Blakemore, R.||Dalrymple, Sir A.|
|Bolling, W.||Darby, G.|
|Bradshaw, J.||Davies, Col.|
|Divett, E.||O'Callaghan, Hon. C.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Douro, Marquess of||O'Neil, Hon. J. B. R.|
|Dowdeswell, W.||Packe, C. W.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Dunbar, G.||Palmer, G.|
|Duncombe, Hon. A.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Dundas, C. W. D.||Parker, J.|
|Dundas, F.||Parker, M.|
|Dundas, Hon. T.||Parker, R T.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Parker, T. A. W.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Parnell, Rt. Hn. Sir H.|
|Evans, W.||Patten, J. W.|
|Fazakerley, J. N.||Polhill, F.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Powell, Col.|
|Fitzsimon, N.||Power, J.|
|Follett, Sir W.||Praed, W. M.|
|Forbes, W.||Rice, Rt. Hon. T. S.|
|Forester, W.||Richards, R.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Rickford, W.|
|Gibson, T.||Roche, D.|
|Glynne, Sir S. R.||Rose, Rt. Hn. Sir G.|
|Gordon, R.||Round, C. G.|
|Goulburn, Rt Hn. H.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Grey, Sir C. E.||Rushout, G.|
|Grey, Sir G.||Russell. Lord J.|
|Halford, H.||Sanderson, R.|
|Hardinge, Rt Hn. Sir H.||Scarlett, Hon. J. Y.|
|Harland, W. C.||Sharpe, Gen.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. F.|
|Henniker, Lord||Sheppard, T.|
|Herbert, Hon. G.||Shirley, E. J|
|Hinde, J. H.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Hobhouse, Rt Hn Sir J.||Smith, R. V.|
|Hodgson, F.||Spencer, Hon. F.|
|Hodgson, R.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Holmes, W.||Stanley, Lord|
|Hope, G. W.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Hope, Hon. J.||Stewart, J.|
|Hotham, Lord||Surrey, Earl of|
|Houstoun, G.||Teignmouth, Lord|
|Howard, P. H.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Howard, R.||Tollemache, F. J.|
|Howick, Visct.||Townley, R. G.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Trench, Sir F.|
|Hurt, F.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Ingham, R.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Vivian, J. E.|
|James, W.||Vivian, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Jones, W.||Welby, G. E.|
|Kinnaird, Hon. A. F.||Westenra, hon. H. R.|
|Kirk, P.||White, S.|
|Lambton, H.||Williams, R.|
|Lefevre, C. S.||Williams, W. A.|
|Lockart, A. M.||Winnington, T. E.|
|Logan, H.||Winnington, H. J.|
|Lygon, Hon. Gen.||Wood, C.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Wood, T.|
|Mahon, Visct.||Woulfe, Sergeant|
|Master, T. W. C.||Wyndham, W|
|Maule, Hon. F.||Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.|
|Maunsell, T. P.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||TELLERS.|
|Mordaunt, Sir J.||Seymour, Lord|
|Nicholl, J.||Steuart, R.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Archbold, R.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Johnson, General|
|Beamish, F. B.||Langdale, hon. C.|
|Berkeley, hon. H.||Lushington, C.|
|Bewes, T.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||MacNamara, Major|
|Bridgeman, H.||Marshall, W.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Marsland, H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Martin, J.|
|Browne, R. D.||Morris, D.|
|Bryan, G.||O'Brien, C.|
|Bulwer, E. L.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Burdett, Sir F.||O'Connell, D.|
|Butler, hon. Col.||O'Connell, J.|
|Chalmers, P.||Pease, J.|
|Chester, H.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Collier, J.||Poulter, J. S.|
|Collins, W.||Rice, E. R.|
|Curry, W.||Rundle, J.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Salwey, Colonel|
|Dennistoun, J.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt hn. C. T.||Style, Sir C.|
|Easthope, J.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Evans, G.||Thornley, T.|
|Fielden, J.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Finch, F.||Wakley, T.|
|Gillon, W. D.||Walker, R.|
|Grattan, H.||Wallace, R.|
|Greenaway, C.||Warburton, H.|
|Grote, G.||Ward, H. G.|
|Hall, B.||White, A.|
|Halse, J.||Williams, W.|
|Hastie, A.||Wilshere, W.|
|Hawes, B.||Wood, Sir M.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Wyse, T.|
|Hume, J.||Boldero, Capt.|
|Humphery, J.||Sinclair, Sir G.|