HC Deb 01 July 1845 vol 81 cc1398-412
Captain Layard

rose to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to direct inquiry to be made how far the reduction of the period of service in the Army, from the present unlimited term to ten years, would tend to procure a better class of recruits, diminish desertion, and thus add to the efficiency of the Service. The hon. and gallant Member said that in bringing under the consideration of the House so important a Motion as the present, he trusted he might venture to claim its kind indulgence and patient attention; an indulgence which he felt would be required for the weakness of the advocate; an attention which was demanded for the importance of the cause. It was no hastily formed opinion that he had come to in believing that a limited service of ten years, instead of the present enlistment for life, would not only materially benefit the service, but the country, as by that means, he felt assured, a much superior class of men would be found to enlist, and, consequently, less crime of every description would be committed, but particularly desertion, the greatest military crime of which a soldier could be guilty. He thought the best way of bringing this subject more fully under consideration was to divide it into different classes; first, the impolicy of the present system, and the dislike evinced towards it, not only by the soldier, but by the country at large, and the crime and punishment to which it led; and, secondly, the arguments which might be brought against limited enlistment, which arguments he trusted he should be enabled successfully to combat. When we took under consideration the great extent of territory, and the millions who acknowledged the sway of the British Crown, and then remembered the smallness of the force by which the peace and integrity of that vast Empire is to be maintained, it struck him that some alteration ought to be made in the formation of that army, from which, by returns he held in his hand, he found the desertions in the last three years in Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland, where certainly not one half of our military force was employed, to be 7,537. 4,638 of these deserters had been either retaken or had given themselves up, still that left 2,899 unaccounted for; and when he referred to a Return which had been moved for by the hon. Member for Montrose, he found, that from the 1st January, 1839 to the 31st December, 1843, 3,355 men had undergone corporal punishment, and that 28,190 had undergone imprisonment. There could be little doubt that a great portion of the men composing that army had bitterly repented of unlimited enlistment. No one could doubt that the people of this country had the strongest objection to their sons entering the army; and well they might have, for when a man once enlisted, under the present system, he was lost to his family, and never could return, except, indeed, with a broken and impaired constitution. Young lads rarely enlisted from a decided predilection for a military life; this irretrievable and important step was commonly taken in consequence of some sudden thought, or fit of passion, occasioned by a domestic broil, chagrin, disappointment, inebriety, or want of work, or indigence; and perhaps a few were excited to take the shilling, the symbol of enlistment, by the finesse of a recruiting sergeant. They figured to themselves in their youthful fancies a thousand occasions of acquiring honour and distinction which never occurred. These romantic hopes make the whole price of their blood. Their pay was less than that of common labourers; and on actual service their fatigues were far greater. Hurried away by the impetuosity of youth, he was not aware of the consequence of his engagement, and it appeared an anomaly in the law of the country that while a young man was incapacitated for making a will, so as to dispose of real or even personal property before he had reached twenty-one years of age, he was, nevertheless, permitted to surrender his liberty for life. He trusted the House would permit him to read one or two extracts from that excellent work on the enlistment, discharging, and pensioning of soldiers, by Henry Marshall, deputy-inspector of military hospitals, a work strongly advocating limited enlistment, and dedicated to Sir Henry Hardinge, by whom it had been suggested in March, 1828. The first he would read was the following:— E. Pigott was enlisted in the East India Company's service; he was transferred to Cork, where self-made ulcers appeared on his legs, and when this scheme failed in procuring his discharge, he seemed to become an idiot. In September he arrived in Chatham, when he had the aspect of a genuine idiot. He was placed under observation for five weeks, during which period he never uttered a word distinctly. His looks were wild, his manners almost savage. He appeared to have lost all regard to decency, and became perfectly helpless; for he required to be washed and dressed like a child. He refused to take food when offered him; but, if it was set by him, he devoured it clandestinely, and occasionally would neglect it for a whole day. He was at first treated with great kindness; but, after some time, he became ferocious, and endeavoured to bite the orderlies, and used missiles, so that it was deemed necessary to confine him in a strait waistcoat. On the 3rd November he was examined by a board of medical officers, who stated that in their opinion Pigott was a most determined malingerer, and affects insanity, and from his worthless character recommended his discharge. When his discharge reached Chatham, he seemed incapable of comprehending what it meant; it was repeatedly read to him with care and attention, he was told he might return to Ireland, but he seemed to pay no attention nor to understand what was said to him. On the 29th November, Dr. Davies applied to have him sent to the Military Lunatic Asylum at Fort Clarence, and Dr. Davies gave it as his opinion that he was not a decided malingerer, on the contrary, he says, I am inclined to believe that there has been throughout, and there certainly is now, a reality in the affliction. Weeks elapsed without any improvement, he was troublesome and outrageous. On the 12th of January, 1829, he was transferred to Fort Clarence; when he arrived he would neither stand nor speak; he lay with his legs doubled up, and his knees approaching his chest. When questioned, he sometimes emitted a hollow groan, He was rapidly and forcibly conveyed by a long subterraneous passage to the extremity of the establishment, where he was exposed to a shower-bath, well washed, and dressed in the hospital uniform. Owing to the gloomy appearance of the asylum, and the unceremonious manner in which he was treated, Pigott, no doubt, became greatly alarmed; he was placed in the whirling chair, which ultimately determined him to give in; he stated his disability was feigned, and detailed a course of the most persevering and determined fraud ever practised. On the 4th of March, one year from the time he enlisted, he was marched from Fort Clarence to the dépôt of the East India Company, perfectly sound in mind and body. The same night he joined the dépôt he deserted; but was secured next day, after a stout resistance, and finally sailed for Madras on the 7th of March. This was one of hundreds of instances of what men would endure to escape from a service which they detested, on account of its duration. To prove the horror which many parents felt at their sons enlisting, he could not forbear quoting one instance of which many were on record. It was from the United Service Gazette of the 12th of November, 1837. An account was given there of a widow, at Long Ashford, whose son having enlisted, had afterwards, with great difficulty, obtained his release. He frequently threatened to take the same step again. The mother, assisted by her daughter, to prevent the execution of this threat, took the following fearful step! When he was drunk and asleep, the daughter placed the forefinger of his right hand on a block, and the mother chopped it off. Suicide was much more frequent among soldiers than among men of the same age and rank in civil life; the ratio of cases of self-murder among the cavalry branch of the service has been found to amount for a series of years to one suicide out of twenty deaths, or nearly one annually per 1,000 of the strength. This statement does not give the number who attempted suicide, but only where the result was fatal. Sir Henry Hardinge stated before the Commissioners on Military Punishments, that soldiers commonly maimed themselves to obtain their discharge, and even to become convicts. At one time three hundred men of two regiments attempted to destroy their eyesight, in order to procure their discharge. For his part, he could imagine nothing more trying to any man, when he once began to reflect, than to find that for life he had bound himself to the exactitude of military discipline. He knew it might be argued a very considerable expense would be entailed by any number of men abroad requiring to be sent home at the end of their service; but when it was taken into consideration that men after ten years' service were to have no pensions, he believed that so far from adding to the expense of the country, a very material saving would be effected; and he believed the saving would be so great, that it would enable the Government to grant a suitable pension to those who should re-enlist and faithfully perform twenty-one years' service. It likewise might be argued, that a large number of men abroad, at the same time claiming their discharge, might make the army inefficient; but that would be obviated by taking care that the 10 per cent., which was allowed for India, and the three per cent. for the other regiments abroad, above the effective strength, would enable the dépôts to keep those men at home who were near the period of their discharge. He would be told how little advantage was taken by men of limited service before, and which ceased by order of Lord Hill in 1829. His answer to this was, that the bounty for unlimited service was 17s. more than it was for limited, and that men in that situation seldom or ever calculated on the future; that it was the duty of a paternal Government not to make a hard or cruel bargain with any class of men, however inconsiderate they might be. Soldiers might obtain their discharge under the following regulations, but could not claim it. But, in his opinion, these regulations in many instances were highly objectionable, from the high rate which a recruit had to pay in the earlier periods of service, and thereby putting it out of the power of many, and the very inadequate remuneration he received for that service at a later period. The regulation was as follows:—

Period. Cavalry. Infantry.
Under 7 years' service £. £.
30 20
After 7 years' service 25 18
After 10 years' service 21 15
After 12 years' service 15 10
After 14 years' service 12 5
After 15 years' service 6 Free discharge at home, and in addition, three months' pay abroad.
After 16 years' service Free discharge Free discharge, and, in addition, three months' pay at home, and six abroad
After 17 years' service Free discharge, and 3 months' pay Free discharge, and six months' pay at home, and one year's pay abroad
After 18 years' service Free discharge, 6 months' pay Free discharge, one year's pay at home, and one-and-a-half abroad.
After 21 years' service
To refer to the opinion given by many officers who were examined before the Commission on Military Punishment, that gallant officer, Sir Octavius Carey, said— Nothing can be worse than the materials of which the Army is composed, I do not mean that they are all bad men, but a great portion are taken from the worst ranks; they enlist from necessity alone. Sir Archibald Campbell, who had served forty-five years, said, in reply to the question— Do you think if the soldier was enlisted for a more limited period it would tend to promote recruiting?—Yes, I found men who enlisted for limited service the best men, and I was always anxious for them to re-enlist—they came from a better class of society. Lord William Bentinck, in reply to the inquiry— If giving commissions to privates would improve the description of recruit?" said, "All improvements in the service would facilitate recruiting. We should get a better description of men. He feared he might tire the House by giving these extracts; but he must give the opinion of one, the soundness of whose judgment all must respect, the late gallant Lord Lynedoch. He thought enlistment for a limited period well calculated to obtain a better order of recruits, and to remove many causes which led to severe and ignominious punishments, so desirable to abolish; and Mr. Fox stated, on the 3rd of April, 1806, that he thought enlistment for life unsuited to the genius of the Constitution. He trusted that the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government, who, in bringing forward the Budget, had stated to the House so well, so ably, and so justly, the arduous duties the army had to perform,—duties which were likely to be on the increase, as it had been necessary to send troops to New Zealand — and where, should this ten years' enlistment be allowed, the very best source of settlers would be available—he could bear witness to the attention the right hon. Baronet had always paid to any matters connected with the army; he trusted that as he had the power, so he would see the policy of altering a system which, to the mind of any thinking man, was both cruel and unwise. Among the nations of the earth Great Britain was the only one that enlisted her soldiers for life. In France, they had a short service; in India, a soldier might obtain his discharge after a period of three years, if in time of peace; in America, the period of enlistment for the regular army was five years; and in Austria, a very short time ago, they reduced the period of service from fifteen years to eight. Many hon. Gentlemen might say they did not understand military affairs, and that they were not prepared to vote on this subject; but he called on them not to be carried away by such a fallacious argument. It was not necessary to possess military knowledge; the knowledge that was necessary was that of justice and right, and he besought them to consider well before by any vote of theirs they condemned those who had maintained the honour and glory of their country, to a hopeless existence. He called on them to pause and consider ere they destroyed that hope, the bright, star which all men require to light them o'er the rugged path of a chequered existence; and hon. Gentlemen must call to mind the enormous expense entailed upon the country by the numbers of men in gaol, and likewise the extra duty which the good and efficient soldier had to perform; likewise the large sum paid as reward for the apprehension of deserters; and from the large Colonial duty our army had to perform, few men ever had a chance, of returning to the friends of home and youth. He besought them to take these things seriously into consideration. He might refer to Mr. Wyndham's speeches, and the debates which took place on former occasions; but he would not do so, believing that circumstances had greatly altered. He had made it his business to consult many officers in the army, and with few exceptions they seemed to be of opinion that the proposed alteration to ten years would be most beneficial to the service. He could not help giving one quotation from Dr. Jackson, who had written "on the Formation, Discipline, and Economy of Armies." He says— Limited service has a tendency to augment the defensive strength of a country, and perhaps to improve economical and moral habits among the people. Unlimited service, which adds little to the defence of a country, has a tendency to dissipate national sympathies, and corrupt moral character; for as it separates the soldier from the mass of the people, it alienates him from the interests of his own country, and thereby commits him to the will of a military commander as his lord and master for life. Knowing that many other hon. Gentlemen intended to address the House on this subject, he should say little more at present, reserving himself for the reply, to which he believed he was entitled. But he must again recall to their attention the number of desertions, amounting to 7,537 in three years; of men who had received corporal punishment, 3,355; and of imprisonment, to the number of 28,190. He tendered his sincere thanks to the House for the kind indulgence it had shown him. In conclusion, he should read an extract from the opinion of a gallant and distinguished officer, whose opinion he thought few would venture to gainsay, one no less famed for his gallantry in the field than for his earnest desire for the welfare of the soldier; no one could doubt, he alluded to Sir Henry Hardinge, Governor General of India. That right hon. Gentleman had stated, in reply to a speech of his made in March, 1842, and in which he had recommended an alteration in the service, that— He (Sir Henry Hardinge) had, in 1839, introduced a system of allowing soldiers to obtain their discharge at a price in proportion to their length of service; and although it was feared by many officers that the plan would very much disturb the regiments of the line, it was found to operate most beneficially. Speaking from the experience of the last ten years, he (Sir Henry Hardinge) must confess that he agreed with the gallant Officer (Captain Layard), that perhaps a shorter period of service might be advantageously introduced; the question was deserving the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. Believing that no party feeling would or could actuate any hon. Member on this occasion, and feeling convinced that Sir Henry Hardinge had only stated the fact, in saying it was a question well deserving the consideration of Her Majesty's Government, he would conclude by making his Motion.

Mr. Sidney Herbert

would not trouble the House at any great length, while he stated the reasons why he could not accede to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member. He would state the reasons both for and against unlimited enlistment in the briefest possible manner, and then leave the House to decide on which side the weight of argument preponderated, and whether sufficient grounds had been shown for taking the imposing step which was advocated by the hon. and gallant Officer. The hon. and gallant Gentleman relied on the authority of Mr. Fox to show that enlistment for life was not consistent with the spirit of the Constitution; but he (Mr. S. Herbert) believed that objection applied rather to other countries, where enlistment was compulsory, under the conscription system. With that condition, enlistment for life would certainly be contrary to the spirit of our Constitution; but it should not be forgotten that here it was the voluntary act of the individual who enlisted. The gallant Officer stated, as another objection to enlistment for life, that it tended to disseminate immorality; but the same complaint was made against the conscription in France, where young men were taken away for the army at eighteen years of age—the very period when their habits of life were to be formed, and when their character was most pliable, and they would be otherwise preparing to embrace the various professions to which their after-life should be devoted. But it should not be forgotten that the system for which the gallant Officer contended, had already had a trial in England. Enlistment for a limited period was provided for under Wyndham's Act; but the military authorities of the day found it to work so badly that they induced the Government to modify, and afterwards to repeal the measure altogether. The result of the trial under the limited service system proved that there was not that value attached to it by the private soldier which the gallant Officer had alleged. In 1821, when enlistment both for limited and unlimited service went on pari passu, there were 6,000 enlisted for an unlimited period, and only 281 for limited service: and about the same proportion continued down to 1828, the last year before the limited enlistment warrants were withdrawn, when the numbers were 4,600 unlimited service, and only 73 limited service. But it should also be recollected that both species of enlistment were perfectly legal at the present moment, though the practice had been discontinued, or rather died a natural death. The system had been found to be a very unsound one, replete with inconvenience and expense, by the authorities of the Horse Guards. The gallant Officer must allow him to take this opportunity of stating that there was no truth whatever in the notion that the money received from soldiers who purchased their discharge from the service, was any source of profit to the State. It often happened that when soldiers had been bought out of the service two or three times by their friends or relations, they showed no disposition to leave the army; for they enlisted again. So far from the service being unpopular with the men themselves, this return to it after purchasing out was a common occurrence. If, according to the plan of the hon. and gallant Member, a pension should be given to soldiers for a limited period of service, it must necessarily be less than that at present accorded to soldiers; and the result would be that the pension would not be sufficient to keep the men, who would thus only be made paupers for the rest of their lives. The hon. and gallant Officer had mentioned a frightful number of desertions in Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland; but he had fallen into the error of calculating all the men, who rejoined the service, as retaken. Many men came back voluntarily, after desertion. Desertions arose from four or five causes. A great part of deserters were recruits, and in that list was included every man who had just had a riband placed round his hat, and received a shilling, though he had not seen a day's service. There were young men whose hearts failed them when the moment for leaving home arrived. A large proportion of desertions also took place in the second year after enlistment; and this arose from the circumstance of the first year of a recruit's life being extremely irksome, on account of the drill, and the course of discipline he was obliged to undergo. Another cause of desertion, which was not at all uncommon, was the result of a species of temptation which it was difficult for young men to resist; but the soldiers who thus absented themselves frequently rejoined the service. All these causes would apply to limited just as much as to unlimited service, as they formed the bulk of the cases of desertion. It was not among the old soldiers that desertions took place, for they remained in the service. With respect to the amount of desertions in Canada, it appeared from an account he possessed, that they had diminished one half during the last five years. In 1824, 1825, 1826, 1827, and 1828, the desertions in Canada were 5½, 6½, 4¼, and 6 per cent. In the last five years they were only 2, 2½, 2¾, and 2½ per cent.; therefore, there had been a diminution in the number since 1828 to the extent of one half. He did not think that desertions were caused by enlistment in the service for life; and he begged to remind the House, that of recent years the state and condition of the soldiers had been greatly improved. Greater care was bestowed on their comforts and recreations, and greater attention paid to their moral and religious culture. These measures had been attended with beneficial results; and, at the present moment, he believed they could raise 10,000 or 20,000 men without the slightest difficulty. In every respect, the soldiers condition was now better cared for, and this was the reason why there was no indisposition among the population to enter the service. The hon. and gallant Officer said, that the country was not justified in making a bargain with young inexperienced men, by which they bound themselves to enter the service for life. If the hon. and gallant Officer meant to say that these men, at the time of entering the service, were too young to judge for themselves, it would then be equally improper to enlist them, as proposed by the hon. and gallant Officer, even for ten years. The hon. and gallant Officer had made a statement with regard to suicides; but he (Mr. S. Herbert) was not aware that the amount of suicides in the British army was greater than the amount in any other army, which was differently composed. He apprehended that it would be found that in the French army when the period of service was very short, the suicides were greater in amount. He did not mean to assert that the system now in practice in the management of the British soldier was perfect; on the contrary every effort should be made to improve it. Under the direction of the noble Lord (Lord Howick), great care had been taken of the moral culture of the army. Regimental schools had been established—care had been taken to suit the food, the hours, and the clothing, to the climate in which the regiment was stationed—the system of reliefs had been improved—libraries for the men had been collected, and five-courts and similar recreations provided for them. Very material changes had been made, and the result of all was, that the comfort and well-being of the soldiers were more effectually secured. In the same way the system of increased pay for good conduct had had a most excellent effect; and he believed that there were now 12,000 men receiving increased pay for good conduct, though the good conduct warrant had been but a short time in operation. He might also mention the advantages which had resulted from the practice of investing the money of soldiers in savings banks. After their return from abroad, it might be that they had to receive prize money, and if this money was at once paid over to them, they might either be robbed of it by the Jews, or be induced to spend it in debauchery. The plan had, therefore, been adopted of paying over the prize money due to troops to savings' banks, on account of the men. He was aware that there could be no authority in the colonels to prevent the men drawing out their money, if they chose; but he had requested the commanders of regiments to use their influence with the men to induce them not to draw out their money and waste it away, but rather to reserve it as a resource for the future. It was by carrying out the system already adopted, by attending to the health of the soldiers in tropical climates, by bestowing care upon their moral and religious culture, and by the display of an earnest desire, not only on the part of the military authorities, but also on the part of that House—that he relied for making the service popular with the men. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by expressing his opposition to the Motion.

Mr. Hume

thought that there was much more involved in the Motion of the gallant Officer than the right hon. Gentleman seemed to consider. He had asked for Returns respecting the desertions in regiments on foreign service; but he had been unable to procure them. He believed that most of them occurred in consequence of the regiments being ordered to India, Ceylon, and other tropical climates. He thought that a soldier should be allowed to demand his discharge at the end often years; and if this were done it would be beneficial to the character of the army and to the comfort of the soldier. Sir Henry Hardinge suggested that the period of service should be fifteen years; but this five years prolonged service might prevent the men returning in such a way to civil life as would make them good citizens and efficient members of society. After fifteen years' service in the army, a man became unfit for anything but a soldier. His own opinion was, that it would be desirable to allow the men the option of enlisting for a period of seven years, and this would induce men of a better class to enlist. This was a proper period — namely, in time of peace—to make the experiment; and he was sure that, if tried, it would be attended with success. He trusted the whole system of punishment in the army would be revised. He trusted that the Government would promise to look into the case presented by this Motion. If such a declaration was made, he trusted his hon. Friend would withdraw his Motion, as he was quite unwilling that a Motion on such a subject should be negatived, as it was not a party question, but involved considerations in which they were all most deeply interested.

Sir Howard Douglas

said, he concurred with his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, that a case had not been made out for reverting to the practice of enlistment for a limited period. This was rendered unnecessary by the provisions of the warrant of 1829, which enabled soldiers to purchase their discharges for sums varying from 20l. to 3l. for infantry under fifteen years service, and from 30l. to 12l. for cavalry; and not only enabled soldiers to obtain free discharges after fifteen years service, but actually granted a premium to induce the soldier to take his discharge, in the shape of a bonus, varying from three to six, twelve and eighteen months full pay, with some variations respecting home and foreign service, after the corresponding periods of fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, and twenty-one years service; which he (Sir Howard Douglas) was happy to say, few comparatively took, and which being an improvident commutation for any soldier of that standing to accept, had very properly been abolished. To extend further to soldiers of good conduct the privilege of purchasing or obtaining free discharges after a shorter period of service, and on more moderate terms, the warrant of 1833prescribed, that the period of service under which discharges might be purchased at the rate of 30l. for cavalry and 20l. for infantry, should be reduced from 7l., as by the warrant of 1829, to five years. After seven years, with one distinguishing mark, that the purchase money be reduced from 25l. cavalry, and 18l. infantry, to 20l. and 15l. respectively. After ten years service, with one distinguishing mark, from 21l. cavalry, and 15l. infantry, to 15l. and 10l.; after twelve years with one distinguishing mark, from 15l. cavalry, and 10l. infantry, to 10l. and 5l. After fourteen years service, with one distinguishing mark, from 12l. cavalry, and 5l. infantry, to 5l. cavalry, and a free discharge for infantry. After sixteen years service, with one distinguishing mark, a free discharge, with the right of registry for deferred pension of 4d. a day. After sixteen years service, with two distinguishing marks, a free discharge, with right of registry for deferred pension, of 6d. a day. This amounted, virtually, to an optional system of limited service, either by free discharge, or by purchase at very moderate rates. The right hon. Secretary at War had correctly stated, that the system of limited service had died a natural death. During the eight years preceding 1829, when both limited and unlimited enlistment went together, 82,000 men enlisted for unlimited service, and only 2,000 for limited service. And the numbers of each class enlisted during the first and last four of these eight years, show such a diminution in the proportion of limited service engagements, that it lapsed, in fact, almost, to nothing, and was discontinued. The great inconveniences and disadvantages insulting from limited periods of service, had been adverted to by the right hon. Gentleman. To this he (Sir H. Douglas) would add, that all those difficulties and disadvantages which were so much felt and complained of in continental services, would be enormously aggravated in our case, in which the great bulk of the military force was serving in the Colonies. It would greatly complicate the system of reliefs, which it was already very difficult to keep regularly up, and add greatly to the expense for the conveyance of troops. Nor did it appear, that the exclusive system of unlimited engagement was productive of increased desertion. It seemed the reverse. The Return which the right hon. Secretary of War had read with respect to Canada, for instance, showed that during the five years preceding 1829, when limited service existed, the per centage of desertion was double—more than double, what it was in the five last years. He (Sir H. Douglass) did not think, then, that an enlistment for a limited period, would be beneficial to the service, or advantageous to the country—that it would of itself attract to the service superior classes or descriptions of men—that it would tend upon the whole to pecuniary economy; to the benefit of the soldier, or to the efficiency of the British anny—that it would prevent desertion, nor of itself produce diminution of crime—that it would, in short, of itself, remedy any of the serious evils which the hon. and gallant Member had specified. The only mode by which those evils could be effectually remedied was, by the adoption and the prosecution of every measure calculated to raise the spiritual and moral condition, and improve the physical comfort of the soldier, and inculcate sober and provident habits, This, he (Sir H. Douglas) thought, was gradually and steadily effecting, by the measures to which his right hon. Friend had adverted. He (Sir H. Douglas) gave credit to the hon. and gallant Member for the ability and good intentions which he evinced; but thought that this was a matter which might safely be left to his right hon. Friend, charged with the administration of the army, and to that illustrious commander, and his able and experienced assistants, by whom the British army was maintained in its present state of, unquestionably, perfect efficiency.

Mr. Williams

would vote for the Motion, and if it were lost, he hoped the subject would not be lost sight of by the Government.

Captain Layard

thought no answer had been made to the case he had laid before the House. Sir Henry Hardinge, an authority on military matters equal to any in or out of the House, had emphatically declared the subject to be one calling for the serious consideration of Government. There could be no doubt that the practice of enlisting men at the age of eighteen led to a vast extent of mortality in our army. If he followed his own inclination, he should divide the House; but as hon Gentlemen seemed averse to his doing so, he would bow to their wish.

Motion negatived.