§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ Clause 9. Provides that Her Majesty might, by order in Council, make subdivisions conterminous with superintendent-registrars' districts.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he wished to know what was the necessity for this clause, after the important change which was made in Clause 8 on Friday evening? The Committee were not, perhaps, aware that the whole principle of the ancient Militia Law had been entirely subverted by that change. Under the old law the apportionment of the quotas of men to be furnished by each county was settled by Act of Parliament; whereas, under this 634 Bill, as now altered, it was made competent for the Secretary of State for the Home department to raise all the militia, if he chose, from one county, and leave the others altogether untouched—to raise the whole number from Kent, for instance, and none at all from Middlesex, or vice versâ. Now, if this was the case, as it seemed to him it was, what an injustice would it commit! Because, if the burden of a compulsory militia was to be imposed upon the country, the burden ought, at least, to be distributed equitably over the counties according to their population, and not be left to be regulated according to the mere will and pleasure of the Secretary of State for the time being. But, if that was to be the law, he thought the 9th Clause was superfluous, because, what was the use of taking the power of subdividing and creating districts for the purpose of more conveniently apportioning the quotas, if the general power of drawing them from any particular district was to be given to the Secretary of State? It appeared to him that they were now about to raise a new force upon an entirely new principle, and in a manner entirely unknown to the past history of the country.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
thought the right hon. Gentleman was utterly mistaken in the view he had taken of this measure; and if he referred to the 42 Geo. III., c. 90, he would find, that although the quotas were originally fixed by the Act, they were only fixed for three years down to 1805; and from 1805 a discretion was given to the King in Council to fix the respective quotas of different districts. Therefore, in point of fact, there had been no such alteration of the law as the right hon. Gentleman had suggested.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
did not think the explanation of the hon. and learned Gentleman was satisfactory, because he had laid down no principle of apportionment. He had left out the words which described the rule for fixing the quotas, and therefore they were not bound to any principle in fixing them. What had been said by the hon. and learned Gentleman about the old Bill was not to the point, for although it was in the power of the Queen in Council, by the existing law, to alter or apportion the quotas, still they should be made in proportion to the population of the different counties. He thought, therefore, that a novelty was introduced into this Bill which was calculated to do considerable injustice.
§ MR. WALPOLE
considered that the objection raised by the right hon. Gentleman on this clause was not of the most reasonable kind. The alteration made in the clause was made in consequence of a suggestion of the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood); it was adopted by the opposite side of the House, and acquiesced in by the Government. The matter stood in this way—as the Bill was drawn, by Clause 8 the Queen in Council had the power of fixing the quotas of men, so as to apportion, as nearly as might be, the whole number of militiamen the Act directed to be raised
§ SIR GILBERT HEATHCOTE
wished to inquire, as there had been great changes in the relative populations of the different counties, whether the quotas were to be according to the present or old populations of the different localities?
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, the intention of the clause was to fix the quotas equitably and rateably among the different subdivisions of counties, but at the same time to leave a discretion with the Crown.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, his right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson) complained that the clause omitted a principle which was before contained in it. As it at first stood the clause went upon the principle that they should ascertain the number of persons fit and liable to meet the years that the Government proposed to take as their limits, and upon that number to apportion the quotas to be raised for the purposes of the measure. The reason why they took the words "fit and liable" was to make population the basis of the quotas. But as the clause now stood, the Government did not lay down in it any principle on which they were to fix the number of militiamen to be raised. It appeared to him, as the clause stood, that 10,000 men might be raised in Lancashire, 5,000 in Yorkshire, and 15,000 in Middlesex, without any reference to the respective population of those counties. That was a matter of which he and his right hon. Colleague had a right to complain; and he thought also they had a right to insist that the Government should clearly determine the basis on which the men were to be raised. He thought it would be better to make an Amendment in Clause 8 which should describe accurately on what basis the Queen in Council was to be allowed to make the apportionment.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, the omission of the words "fit and liable to serve" from the 8th Clause was suggested by the right 636 hon. Baronet opposite (Sir C. Wood); and he (Mr. Walpole) thought at the time that it was going too far. Unquestionably the alteration had the effect of giving the Crown a much larger discretionary power than it would have had before the alteration was made; but he did not see that it would prove burdensome where the men were raised by voluntary enlistment; and the Crown would have no power to put the ballot into operation otherwise than under the conditions stated in subsequent clauses of the Bill.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, it was quite true that the suggestion to leave out the words "fit and liable" came from him, and he understood the Government to approve of the omission when the Bill was last before the Committee. He said it was necessary that there should be some power of fixing the quotas of men in the first instance taken by voluntary enlistment; and he thought the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department was mistaken when he said the clause would be only necessary when the men were taken by ballot. Let him remind the Committee of the process to be gone through under the tedious, troublesome, and expensive process of ballot according to the 32 Geo. III., c. 90, in order to ascertain who were "fit and liable to serve." There would be first a general meeting of the county; then subdivisional meetings, resulting in instructions to parish constables to obtain from every householder the number of persons in his house liable to serve; then came questions of exemption, examination by surgeons, and so forth. All that process must have been gone through as the clause stood before it could be ascertained who were "fit and liable" to serve in the militia in each county in England. But if the men were rised by voluntary enlistment, that process would be totally unnecessary; for, in that case, it mattered not what number of men fit and liable to serve might be resident in a county. If, therefore, the quotas were fixed according to the population of each county, it was all that was required to be done, without going through the process of the ballot. He was quite aware that the omission of the words would result in leaving a larger discretionary power with the Queen in Council; but he entertained no objection to that, because he was certain it would be properly exercised. At the same time, if it were thought necessary, words might be inserted providing that the apportionment 637 should be made with reference to the population of each county.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, in the previous discussion he suggested that a proviso should be added to limit the operation of the clause until the 31st of December, on the express ground that the clause had only reference to the ballot, which would not come into operation until after that period, and that it was not desirable to put the country to the trouble and expense of ascertaining the basis on which the number should be apportioned. He did not imagine the discretionary power would be exercised with any degree of harshness; but he dreaded that under the system now contemplated, of applying the clause to the ballot, they might punish any particular county they liked by levying in it the whole number of men found deficient under the voluntary enlistment, and exempt all the other counties.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, in the clause relating to the ballot, they gave power to fix the number of men required to be raised for the ballot. Whenever, by an Order in Council, any number of men were required to be raised for any county or riding by ballot, the lieutenants and deputy lieutenants of such county or riding were empowered in general meeting to apportion deficiencies in voluntary enlistment among the various subdivisions and parishes of their county; but the subdivisions and parishes in which the full number of volunteers had been raised were to be exempt.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he did not object to the principle which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to carry out. All he objected to was, the right hon. Gentleman's endeavouring to apportion the quotas according to fitness and liability.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, that the words "fit and liable to serve" having been omitted from the 8th Clause, it was necessary that they should be left out in the clause before the Committee—the purport of which was simply to enable the Crown to alter the limits of the several subdivisions of counties, but did not fix the quotas in those subdivisions.
The words "with reference to the numbers of men fit and liable to serve in the militia" were then struck out, and the clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 10 (Militiamen to be raised by voluntary enlistment).
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that in its present shape the clause was somewhat am- 638 biguous as to where the volunteers were to be raised. He proposed, therefore, to insert words providing that the volunteers should be resident in the county in which they were raised.
Page 4, line 35, after the word' Volunteers,' to insert the words 'being resident in the county in which such men are directed to be raised, or in any county immediately adjoining thereto, and.'
§ MR. MOWATT
said, what he and those with whom he acted complained of was, that there was no recognised principle or data on which any given number of men could be raised in any particular county whatever; the thing was entirely left to the discretion of the Secretary of State for the Home Department.
§ SIR GEORGE CLERK
said, he apprehended that the proposed limitation would turn out to be very inconvenient. It was highly expedient, no doubt, that the persons who were to serve should be resident within that portion of the United Kingdom in which they would be required to serve; but he thought that they might be residents either in the county in which they were raised, or the counties immediately adjoining.
§ MR. WILSON PATTEN
said, that the restriction would operate most injuriously upon the county of Lancaster, where in consequence of the high rate of wages fewer volunteers would probably be raised than in any other county in England.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, he wished to ask whether it was not still left in the power of the Secretary of State to raise the whole force from one county?
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that owing to the omission of the words recently struck out of Clause 8, there was a discretionary power in fixing the quotas; but still there must be quotas fixed for the several counties.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that if there were any limitation in the source from which the volunteers might be drawn, it was quite plain that the ballot would thereby be rendered the more probable; for instance, if they decided upon raising 10,000 men in a particular county, and did not succeed by volunteering, they must then resort to the ballot.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, that if those quotas were to be permanently acted 639 upon, some fixed rule should be laid down upon the subject. As the ballot was not to be carried into operation until the end of the year, it was better to vest a discretion in the Government with respect to volunteers; but if the ballot was to be resorted to, the quotas, he repeated, ought to be fixed upon some general rule.
§ MR. MOWATT
wished distinctly to ascertain whether if there was a deficiency in any particular county as to the number of volunteers, it might be made up by the excess in another county; and, if not, whether the ballot was to be put in operation? His own opinion was, that if the deficiency was allowed to be made up by excesses in the manner he had suggested, one of the great objections to the measure would be overcome.
begged to point out to his hon. Friends on the Treasury bench, that hon. Gentlemen opposite had, by their Amendments, succeeded in crippling the 8th Clause; and he warned the Government that, if they yielded too easily to their suggestions, they would render the Bill inefficient, which was the object of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ MR. MOWATT
wanted an answer to his question as to the deficiency of one county being made up by the excess in another.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that the ballot would not be put in force until the system of volunteers was exhausted.
§ MR. CARDWELL
wished to be distinctly informed on this subject. Suppose that in the county where wages were high, there was not a sufficient number of volunteers, and that in another county where wages were low, there was an excess, did the Government or not mean to introduce a proviso to the clause, by which a larger proportion of volunteers might be raised in one county, thereby preventing the necessity of inflicting the ballot upon the other county where the full quota might not have been raised?
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
wished to know precisely under what circumstances the ballot was to be resorted to? Beyond what maximum of volunteers did the Government intend to enforce the ballot?
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that, during the present year, even if the number of volunteers did not exceed 40,000, he thought he might give an assurance, on the part of the Government, that the ballot would not 640 be resorted to. It was not the desire of the Government, by any unnecessary harsh-ness, to render the measure distasteful or unpopular.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
thought that the statement of the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department, by throwing so much uncertainty over the whole affair, was calculated to alter alto, gether the character of the Bill. First 120,000 men were required, the number was then reduced to 70,000, then to 50,000, and now it appeared that if 30,000 or 40,000 were obtained, the Government would be satisfied. If this number would suffice, why ask for more? It was a most unconstitutional and unprecedented course for any Minister to come down to the House and ask for a vague and indefinite force to meet some vague and indefinite danger. The Ministers of the Crown, in dealing with a matter of such importance as that of the national defences, ought not to be guided by the popularity or unpopularity of their measure; they ought to have the moral courage to declare what the country required, and the firmness to stand by the proposal. If they had a case which they dared not lay before the country and support by argument, they ought not to submit it to the House.
said, that his right hon. Friend must have paid too great attention to the Estimates and Votes in Supply not to have remembered the exact terms of the Resolutions which had at various times been either opposed or assented to. His right hon. Friend appeared to imagine that when the House voted the Army or Navy Estimates, they voted a compulsory resolution to the Government to raise and maintain a certain number of men. In point of fact, however, it was no such thing. The vote was to raise and maintain "not exceeding a certain number." There was no compulsion on the part of the Government to maintain the full number. The objection, therefore, which the right hon. Member for Manchester had so earnestly urged against what had been stated by the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, applied just as truly to every vote for the Army service, or for men in the Navy. He hoped, however, that the Committee and the public would bear in mind that what' his right hon. Friend had now been urging on the Government, was an argument which went to this—that the Government, were 641 negligent if they did not enforce by ballot tile raising of the full number of men, and that he had been arguing strongly for the ballot. Let it be distinctly understood by the country from what quarter of the House came the strongest arguments in favour of having recourse to the ballot.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he must deny that he was in favour of the ballot, but he contended that if the Ministers of the Crown thought the ballot right, they onght not to come down to the House and agree to alter their measure on grounds of popularity or unpopularity. It was their duty to take upon themselves the responsibility of measures which they thought right, and to pass them without reference to their popularity or unpopularity. [Laughter.] He was arguing what they ought to do. He opposed the ballot, because he believed it improper, and not upon any mere ground of popularity or unpopularity. It was unbecoming in a Minister of the Crown to yield to popular clamour rather than to be guided by reason. He declined to accept the construction put upon his words by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
did not think that his right hon. Friend had in the least degree negatived the assertion which he had made. He (Lord Palmerston) did not say that his right hon. Friend was in favour of the ballot—Oh dear, no!—he was against it; but he was urging that a Government which was carrying its Bill through by majorities of a hundred or more every night, if it had any regard to its own duty, it ought to enforce the ballot. The Committee would judge what would be the effect of the negative of his right hon. Friend, and his (Lord Palmer-ston's) assertion.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
would not enter on the subject of the ballot, though he had the idea that the people were more afraid of the ballot than of the French invasion. He wished to ask, whether the bounty would be a bonâ fide bounty of 6l., or, as in the Army, a nominal bounty, the cost of the knapsack and necessaries of the recruit being deducted from the amount? If it were a bonâ fide bounty, no doubt a considerable number of men could be raised; but if it were merely a nominal bounty, the principle of the Bill would break down.
§ MR. COBDEN
said, that the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) could not quote any precedent where a Government, having 642 obtained a vote for a certain number of men, had ever gone below that amount. It was all very well for the noble Lord to say that they were contending against majorities of a hundred. He had seen minorities of eighties grow up to majorities, to which noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen were now claiming the honour to belong. The admission of the right hon. the Home Secretary had gone far to justify the opposition to that measure. When it was first brought in, it was proposed to raise 120,000 men—70,000 this year. Then the Government brought down their demand to 50,000. The Committee had been arguing some days on that; and now the right hon. Gentleman opposite rose and said, "Don't be alarmed about the ballot; if we can get 30,000 or 40,000 men, we shall not trouble you about the remainder." If there was any imminent danger, let the Government show what it was, instead of continually changing their demand, saying first one thing and then another. In fact, they were laughing at the Committee, and laughing at the country. He could see smiles on the faces of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. There was no earnestness or sincerity whatever in the proposal. It was a fraudulent pretence upon the people. For the last three or four years there bad been a demand for a reduction in our naval and military expenditure. Now, there was a cry got up in order to stop that reduction, and they wanted to get more money out of the pockets of the people. Whig and Tory Governments were equally bad in this respect. The present Government would not have proposed this measure if a Whig Government had not placed it in their hands. It was the proposal of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) which had first rendered this proposal possible; and his opposition to it had almost rendered opposition impossible. He hoped this very proposal would render it almost impossible for a Whig Government ever to return to power again; for to them the country was indebted for this proposal. But for that the Tory or Conservative party would not have dared to propose a militia, knowing very well that they would have been opposed, not only by the liberal party, but by the Whigs, if they had been in opposition. He had recently seen in the Wiltshire Independent an account of the meeting of the yeomanry cavalry at Devizes, which, after describing the creditable manner in which they went through their evolutions, the soldierlike appearance of 643 the men, and the admirable way in which they were officered, said—It is a matter of much regret that many of the members of this regiment should, after escaping from the surveillance of their officers, have conducted themselves in an improper and disreputable manner. During the last three nights there have been repeated and systematic disturbances of the public peace—a number of the yeomanry meeting together in the market-place, and either parading the town beating kettles and tea-trays—and making every other imaginable noise; or separating into detachments and ringing the bells of every house they passed, breaking the windows, and trampling down the flower-beds. So unruly has been their conduct that the peaceable inhabitants of the town express themselves as not at all sorry that their stay is brought to a close, and by no means anxious again to have the honour of their company. We may add, that the matter is as much regretted by the officers, and the more sober and respectable members of the regiment, as by those whose slumbers have been disturbed, and whose property has been thus destroyed.This was a body of yeomanry cavalry, farmers' sons and persons in the middle class of life. They were going to bring together at public-houses, for the purpose of being drilled, similar bodies of labourers, volunteers from the labouring classes: what would be the scenes witnessed among them? Was it not certain they should have all those demoralising scenes, and far worse, inasmuch as their greater want of education must necessarily expose them to the temptations of large towns? If this were rendered necessary by any pressing danger, the country would submit to it; but he was confident that if the people of this country saw any real danger, they would rise en masse to defend themselves. The Government were not justified in telling those who opposed the measure, which they themselves said was not necessary, that they would be backward in resisting any real danger. Every day showed that the Government were not sincere in their anticipations of danger, dropping their demand from 70,000 down to 50,000, and then to 30,000; and he hoped that if the opposition were persevered in, it would end in this Militia Bill being given up altogether. And he would put it to the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were only the stepfathers of that measure, and did not deserve its unpopularity, for that rested wholly with the Whigs, whether, as it was so unpopular, and they did not want it till January, they would not do a wise and just thing by postponing it altogether till the meeting of the new Parliament?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding 644 has appealed to me to know whether the Secretary at War, or any other Minister, ever brought forward a proposition in the Army or Navy Estimates for a number of men which the Government did not afterwards raise. I am quite prepared to tell him that that has occurred, and is very likely to occur again. There is nothing more likely than that a Government should begin the year with a proposal for a military establishment which circumstances might not afterwards render necessary to embody: hence it was that the terms of those Resolutions always ran, "any number not exceeding"100,000 or 150,000, as the case might be; but if the circumstances of the country did not appear to the Government to require that full number, it was not raised. In such a proceeding there is nothing extraordinary, unparliamentary, or unconstitutional. My hon. Friend has stated that upon the last Government rests the whole responsibility of this measure—that upon the Whigs must rest its merits or demerits. As an humble member of that body, I thank him most cordially for the credit which he has given to us, for having had the boldness, as he would say—but as I call it the sense of duty, to make the proposition. I can assure my hon. Friend, that, so far from feeling any reproach from his remarks, I feel exceedingly proud that he has cast this responsibility upon us; but when he says the Committee laughs at him, and those who sit with him, for the course they are taking, I must confess that they do not laugh without some excuse. I think my hon. Friend must himself perceive that they have upon this Bill taken a very "wabbling" course. First, they complained of the hardship of the ballot—of dragging young men from their homes and their business—of compelling them to put on a red coat and to take up a musket, when they ought to be at their loom and in their working jackets; but when the Government propose to mitigate the severity of the Bill, and to render the ballot less necessary—they oppose the Government. I do not say they wish for the ballot—Oh no; Heaven forbid!—or that the country should be defended, for we all know that one of the organs of their party wishes the country to be conquered. If the ballot be proposed, they will not vote for it, and if it be not proposed, they say the Government is shrinking from a paramount and sacred duty. Their first objection is, that by the measure 80,000 or 645 100,000 men may be taken away from their homes and their business—that we are bringing them into a position in which their pure morals will be contaminated by having regularity instilled into their minds, and by subjecting them to some sort of discipline and subordination; and they say that such men would not be fit for the society of their less regulated brethren when they returned home. But the number of men is, after all, their great point. No sooner does the right hon. Home Secretary intimate that if less than 50,000 men should be raised by voluntary enlistment the first year—that is to say, the first instalment of the 80,000—if only 40,000 are raised this year, the Government would be content with having recourse to the ballot. Then the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) and his Friends get up and exclaim against the smallness of the number. One time they say no militia at all is needed—at another that 40,000 men are not sufficient. Why, there is no pleasing those Gentlemen. Hit high, hit low, they equally complain of the infliction, although that infliction is a material step towards the defence of their country; and in the same breath they say the number of men you propose to raise this year is too small. Now, there is a point I wish to! put, and I would put it home to hon. Gentlemen who use this language. There is one man, and only one—some call him an "anonymous idiot"—some tell us to look for him at Colney Hatch, or in Han well. Now, I beg leave to ask the two hon. Members for Manchester whether they are sincere in calling the writer of that pamphlet, to which I have, on a former occasion, drawn the attention of the House, an idiot, and whether they think he is to be found at Colney Hatch or at Hanwell? If they concur in these expressions, I acquit them of any participation in the sentiment and language of the pamphlet; but if they do not disavow, once for all, the arguments, the objections, and the conclusions of the writer, I shall be complied to think that their real object in opposing this measure is not to relieve the country from any temporary pressure, but really to work out a pious fraud—by which this country may be subjected to the calamities of invasion and conquest as an atonement for the sins committed by us in our defensive wars, by which the independence of the country was attained, and that liberty secured which enables hon. Gentlemen now to oppose a Militia Bill.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that although the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury bench did not appear to understand their own Bill, or to be able to explain its objects, yet the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton appeared ready to come forward on all occasions to make a speech on their behalf, which, if not very argumentative or very consistent, was sure to raise the cheers of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial benches. But he (Mr. Bright) should like to look at the facts of the case, and not to be put off with an extravaganza which the noble Lord on all occasions exhibited on this question. They started, at all events, with this one great fact, that the House had already voted 15,000,000l. this very Session for the defence of the country. No one on the Opposition side of the House had made any objection to that Vote. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) pretended to argue that there was some mighty occasion which required the House to expend 350,000l. more for that defence, and which sum would change the position of this country from one of extreme risk to one of undoubted security. Having consented to vote 15,000,000l. for this object, he and his Friends wished to know why they should go a step further in that direction? There was this incoherency and inconsistency in the course pursued by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, and those whom he had taken under his patronage. The noble Lord was a Member of the Government in 1848, when it was proposed to raise a militia of 150,000 men. Well, in the beginning of the present Session the noble Lord at the head of the then Government proposed to raise 120,000 men; and now the right hon. Home Secretary of the present Government proposed to raise 80,000 men. At first, these 80,000 were to be raised immediately by the compulsory process of the ballot. ["No, no!"] Yes, certainly. It was only the other night that the right hon. Gentleman stated, that the compulsory clauses would not be acted upon till next year. Well, the right hon. Gentleman having divided the 80,000 into 50,000 for the first year, and 30,000 for the next year, now says that if he could raise 30,000 or 40,000 men this year (which meant 35,000) he would not think it necessary to introduce the ballot to raise the number to 50,000. Thus it appeared that the original ground on which the Bill was introduced had gradually frittered away. The Bill, in fact, had become ridiculous, as it had been from the beginning in the opinion 647 of all military men. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had entered into a discussion of certain opinions put forward in some publications on this subject; but was there any man who would bind himself to the many absurd arguments that had been put forth in letters and paragraphs that had appeared in some of the most important newspapers on this question? He should like to see the men who had penned the opinions that had been expressed in the Times and the Morning Chronicle on this matter. Look, for instance, at the letter of the Earl of Ellesmere on the subject, written some three or four years ago. They all knew that this was a question upon which men took extreme views. Why, if the noble Lord took the New Testament or the books of divines, he would find views of peace expressed which would justify him in speaking in the same tone of those writers. In his (Mr. Bright's) opinion it was better to exhibit a strong enthusiasm for peace, than to stimulate men to all the atrocities of war. But the course taken by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton this Session was one which reflected on him no credit as a statesman. Had he not given his sanction to events which had not only astonished, but had horrified all Europe and the world? It was quite consistent with the course which the noble Lord took on the 4th and 5th of December last, that he should ridicule men who stood up for peace in this country. But that man must know very little of the people of this country, and of their appreciation of the blessings of peace, who was not willing to stand up and speak and vote for peace, feeling perfectly unalarmed at the sneers and ridicule of the noble Lord. The House was in this position—that they were now in Committee on a Bill which had been opposed on the second reading, with one or two exceptions, by the representatives of every large town in Great Britain. That was a fact which they could not blot out of their records. The Bill was no doubt supported by the representatives of counties. But it was equally a fact beyond doubt that the distribution of these 350,000l. in bounties would be among the agricultural population, such as that by whom the hon. and learned Solicitor General had recently been elected. But, as far as regarded the great seats of population, industry, and progress, there were no persons to be found in favour of this Bill. But his belief was that if the Bill did pass, like some other Bills—like the Bill of last Session, for instance the Eccle- 648 siastical Titles Bill—which had 438 votes for it, and 95 against it—it would prove an absurd thing, and a measure of no use. The Bill might pass, but it would not come into force, and their legislation of 1852 might be and would be as futile and as absurd as in 1851.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he was desirous of calming the perturbation of the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) as to that part of the country, where he had the honour of spending a few days last week. He was present at the sack of Devizes, and he left it a very well-regulated and cheerful town. The hon. Gentlemen told them they must be careful how they trained men for soldiers, because they had a disposition to make a noise with tea-trays and tea-kettles. If the hon. Gentleman would turn to the police reports of the metropolis he would find that similar freaks were played by persons of the least military disposition in the world—by medical students, and such other gentry. He would now say a word as to the clause. The proposition was to take 50,000 men this year, and 30,000 the next. And the right hon. Gentleman the Home, Secretary said that if he did not get his 50,000, he would be satisfied with 40,000 rather than resort to compulsion. The right hon. Gentleman did not think that the want of 10,000 men would warrant harsh measures. But to say this, was no reason for charging him with having given up the urgency of the question. In taking the Estimates for the Army and the Navy, you mentioned a fixed force, which you already knew you could obtain. But it was a new force which was now about to be raised, and it was, therefore, difficult to say how many could be collected. He thought that the Government would have done better had they proposed that the number to be raised each year should be decided by the Queen in Council. The perfection of the force would be to take 16,000 men each year, so that only that number of raw recruits would be enlisted every year.
§ CAPTAIN TOWNSHEND
said: I shall delay the Committee but a very short time by the few observations I have to offer; nor should I have trespassed on their attention at all, but that I am anxious to explain the reason for my voting against the second reading of this Bill, and to justify the course I have taken. I am altogether opposed to a Militia Bill in any shape, and the Bill intended to have been 649 brought in by the noble Lord the Member for London would equally have been met with my disapproval. I will not enter into the details of the measure, which has already occupied a full share of time, but will simply state my conviction, that to meet the forces of France, should they ever gain footing on these shores, you must have disciplined troops, and not militiamen. I think a militia force will be expensive, unpopular, and useless. I am far from denying, after all the fears that have been expressed and reasons stated by persons competent to form a correct opinion, that some land force may not be necessary; for, however improbable the case may be, yet it certainly is possible, from some unaccountable caprice of the present despotic ruler of France, that some insult might be offered to us; and, therefore, it is incumbent upon us to take every precaution, by making some small addition to our present military force. I said I would not enter into a discussion on this subject; nor will I. The House decided, by a very large and unmistakeable majority, that a Militia Bill of some description should be brought in, and to that decision I bow, and have abstained from offering any factious opposition to the scheme, trusting that the Bill may be made as efficient as possible before it passes into a law. I cannot help, however, expressing my surprise that so little should have been said about the "wooden walls" of old England, which the country has ever regarded as its great bulwark and safeguard, and which, if they ever claimed its confidence, more than ever deserve it now, when the power of steam has given us a tenfold advantage over our neighbours; and I fearlessly assert that with a sufficient number of steamers employed, and a considerable reserve ready for immediate service if necessary, and by a proper and judicious distribution of these forces—all which might be easily and, comparatively speaking, economically arranged—we might defy, not only the machinations and threats of our neighbours, but of the whole maritime world. Sir, Her Majesty's Government, at the commencement of their taking office, asked for the forbearance, if not for the confidence, of the House. Now, Sir, in my humble opinion they have had the greatest forbearance shown to them; and as to confidence, they have forfeited all claim to it. I was present, Sir, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought forward the Budget. I listened to that speech with 650 the greatest attention, and was struck by the temperate, able, and, as I thought, frank and ingenuous manner in which he explained his views. The cheers of this side of the House, and the long faces and deep silence of the other side, plainly intimated that it was a free-trade speech which was uttered by the right hon. Gentleman. Sir, I wont away impressed with this idea in common with every Member of this House. I was, therefore, not a little surprised, and, I may add, not a little disgusted, to find, by what fell from the right hon. Gentleman a night or two afterwards, that no such meaning was implied. Sir, I take the liberty of telling that right hon. Gentleman that it is neither creditable to him as a Minister of the Crown, nor respectful to this House; and that it adds nothing to his reputation as a man of talent and undoubted literary attainments, to come down here on so interesting and important an occasion as the introduction of the Budget, in order to mystify and stultify every Member of this House, himself included, and to condescend to act the part of a political "Mawworm." This is not the way to gain the confidence of any party, or to add to his reputation as a public man. Sir, the time is not very remote—nay, it must be fresh in the recollection of most hon. Members—when the right hon. Gentleman, Session after Session, and night after night, assailed my late lamented Colleague (Sir Robert Peel) with every vituperative epithet that his fertile imagination could suggest, or his varied powers of sarcasm could command; when he taunted him in language that was hardly limited to Parliamentary usage, and which was repeated till at last it wearied the ears even of the most uncompromising advocates of Protection, and fell harmless on the devoted head of the victim of his indignation. If the right hon. Gentleman has any conscience, how bitterly it must reproach him for all this; and let me tell him the object which that lamented statesman had in view, and for which he made as great sacrifices as it was in human power to make, was not the ambition of office, and of adding "Right Honourable" to his name, but a far nobler one—that of abrogating an odious and an unjust law, giving cheap bread to the poorer classes, and adding to the few comforts that fall to their lot; and thus, by this last and greatest act of his political life, leaving behind him a name which is received with bles- 651 sings by the present generation, and will be remembered with gratitude by millions yet unborn. Sir, until the right hon. Gentleman pursues a different line of policy to that which he has hitherto advocated, neither he nor the Government to which he belongs will have my confidence, my support, or my respect.
§ MR. WAKLEY
said, the Committee was told the force to be established was a new force; but though the ground for its establishment had been asked, it had never been told to Parliament. At this moment the rental of the four metropolitan counties was absorbed by the defences of the country. If, notwithstanding the 15,000,000l. that had been voted for the national defences, it were true that the nation was not sufficiently protected, the Government must have been very badly managed; and he asked who had been their chief manager for the last six years? Was it not the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton? He had been expecting the noble Lord to be at the head of a Radical Administration, but he had now given up all hope of that. But if the noble Lord believed the country to be in so defenceless a state, how could he remain so long in the Administration without taking any measures to put the country in a state of defence? Instead of that, he sat quietly in his seat, and never discovered the fact until just before he quitted office. With all his ability and experience the noble Lord had failed to show the necessity of this measure. He (Mr. Wakley) would persist to the last in his opposition to what he regarded as a most mischievous and wanton measure, as long as he had any one to divide with; but he trusted the Government would be persuaded to let it drop. He warned the Government that this measure would annoy, most of all, their friends the farmers, by making farm labourers scarce, and farm labour consequently more costly. After thirty-seven years' peace, he regarded the proposal as one of the most wanton ever made to Parliament, and he should give it every opposition in his power. The ground of fear of the Empire in France was gone; so were all the other grounds.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he must say one word with respect to the charge the hon. Member who had last spoken had made against him, as to his not having opened his eyes till within the last few weeks or months to the necessity of measures for the increased defence of 652 the country. He must remind his hon. Friend, that, during the Administration of Sir Robert Peel, when he (Lord Palmer-ston) was sitting on that side of the House, he had to the best of his ability urged on the Government to take into practical and serious consideration what he thought to be the defenceless state of the country; and he believed that what he had then urged had induced the Government to look with greater promptitude to that important subject. During the whole course of the time he was a Member of the late Government, he had urged constantly on his Colleagues the necessity of strengthening the defences! of the country; and, though this measure was not produced till he had left or had ceased to belong to the Government, other measures were taken; and this country, he was happy to say, was in a very different position from that in which it had been when he first took the opportunity of drawing attention to it.
§ MR. HUME
would remind the noble Lord that he had very recently stated that there had been a decrease in the Army from 1839 to 1848. What was the noble Lord and his Colleagues about so to reduce the defences of the country? The fact was, the advocates of the measure shifted their ground perpetually. It appeared to him (Mr. Hume) that they were going to vote this force without any adequate reason. He, however, would keep to his original objection — the cost; and he would not vote a shilling more than the 15,000,000l. already voted until he was satisfied of the absolute necessity of the measure. He admitted he had been a little drowsy sometimes when sitting behind his friends on the other side of the House in looking after these matters, as he had expected the Government to practise economy; but now he was determined, as far as possible, to prevent waste of the surplus, which the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer would be enabled to appropriate to the public relief from taxes. The feeling of the country was against the Militia Bill, and that Government would be the most popular which would most effectually relieve the taxpayers. He considered that the present Government were now the only guilty parties with respect to the Militia Bill, for the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had absolved himself from guilt by giving up the Bill altogether. He could not think the present Government would copy the doings of the last Government. They would not, he was 653 satisfied, pass Ecclesiastical Titles Bills, and then become the laughing-stock of the country for abstaining to carry out the provisions. He considered, if the Militia Bill was passed, it would never be carried out; and he therefore implored the Government to pause before they went further with it. If they persevered, it would produce unpopularity; and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer must look to becoming an unpopular Minister.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 84; Noes 41: Majority 43.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
moved, as an Amendment, to omit the provision offering a bounty to recruits on enlisting. It had been well objected to the Bill, that the bounty system would act injuriously as regarded the regular Army. He believed that men who had health and strength would come forward and offer their services. If they would be prepared to act in case of immediate danger, they would also come forward to receive that amount of training which would render them efficient when a necessity arose for actual service. For certain periods of the year, militia training could be carried into effect in agricultural districts; especially in that with which he was personally acquainted, without any inconvenience; for example, from about the 7th of May to the 7th of June, and from the 1st of November until about Christmas. He knew a large body of young men who, instead of a burden and annoyance, would find it a pleasure and enjoyment to be subjected for a certain period to military discipline. There were 2,000,000 militiamen in the United States raised by compulsion. Any man who did not serve was liable to be fined. Plenty of men, and better men too, could be got in this country without than with a bounty. Once raised and properly drilled, they would soon be fit to act by the side of regular troops.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "such bounties or other."
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, the hon. Gentleman proposed to omit everything respecting bounties out of this Bill, and (as he understood him) anticipated that persons would be so extremely enamoured of this service that they would press eagerly forward—persons, too, of a much higher and superior class than if bounties were offered—to enter the militia, 654 so that any inducement would be wholly unnecessary. He must confess that the allusion to America was rather an unfortunate one. The hon. Member had stated that there were 2,000,000 of men who served in the United States without bounty. Well, but he (the Attorney General) had understood, and everybody had at first understood, that the hon. Member was going to say that the American system was one of voluntary and not compulsory enlistment. The hon. Gentleman, however, had explained that it was not voluntary at all, but that any man who did not serve was liable to a fine. This experiment, then, so far as it showed what was to be expected from the alleged zeal and anxiety for a service of this kind, could not be said to have been very well tested in America. [Sir HARRY VERNEY: The fines are not paid, I believe.] Well, he could not say whether any system of repudiation existed as to these fines; but at any rate it was very unlike voluntary enlistment when men were liable to them. Now, under the 42 Geo. III. c. 90, volunteers were to be obtained by means of this very bounty to the extent of 6l., or of a sum not exceeding 6l—precisely the bounty proposed in this Bill. Just observe, however, how extremely inconsistent was the position in which the Committee was desired to place itself by adopting the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman. The Committee had heard over and over again that this ballot would be the most unpopular measure that could by possibility be imagined. Well, now, why would it be unpopular? Of course, because it would force men into the service. It would be unpopular, because men would dislike the service, and because the ballot would force them into a service they disliked. "But," said the hon. Gentleman, "you don't want a bounty to induce men to enter this service, because it will be so attractive that you will have more than sufficient volunteers to supply all your wants." The Government, however, were not entirely of that opinion. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were not of that opinion, either. They said that the service would be an unpopular one; and what did the Government say? Why, that they wished if possible to avoid the ballot; they did not wish to force persons into the service if they could tempt men into voluntary enlistment. They believed the militia service would not be so popular as to be attractive without a bounty; it had been 655 the invariable practice to give a bounty; and, therefore, as they desired to make the ballot their last resort, they offered a bounty to volunteers, believing they would make up the requisite quota by volunteers, and thus avoid the ballot.
§ MR. HUME
said, he did not believe but that amongst the young men in towns and in the country nearly 500,000 could be found to enlist without bounty, and prepared at all times, without expense, to defend the nation against any unexpected insult, for he admitted he had no dread of any invasion. If the Government were sincere in their profession of a desire to infuse a martial spirit in the country, surely they should see how much might be elicited without the drawback of a pecuniary consideration. He could not understand why the Government should think of spending 700,000l. a year when the same force could be obtained by volunteers without any expense whatever. If the Government would pass a Bill authorising Her Majesty to accept the services of volunteers, allowing the men to go out to training at such times as would be convenient to themselves, he had no doubt that 500,000 men might be raised immediately; and as those who were once trained would never forget the use of arms, he had no doubt that in a short time they would have 1,000,000 men ready to defend the country.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, that on the contrary, he did not think the Government would fill up the ranks of the militia without the bounty, for then the whole thing would fall into hopeless ridicule. But, if the Government would accept the offers made to them, there would be no difficulty in raising volunteers to any extent, not merely to act as riflemen, but as regular infantry and cavalry. He had also heard a proposal from some persons to raise a corps of light horse artillery. By giving a little encouragement to these persons, the Government could have gradually drawn this volunteer body under the operation of a regular code of discipline.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that the supporters of the Bill showed little favour towards it—the hon. Member for Haddingtonshire (Mr. Charteris) having an Amendment on the paper to get rid of the ballot, and the hon. Member for Bedford (Sir H. Verney) now proposed an Amendment to get rid of the bounty. He was delighted to have the opportunity of voting in the same lobby with an advocate of the Bill, as he should support the Amendments, 656 because he objected to squandering so large a sum of money as 500,000l. in giving bounties for this force. If a man who had received the bounty were missing from training and exercise, what was the mode of proceeding against him? The United States had a militia, but they had a standing army of only 9,000 men, and did not, like Great Britain, spend 15,000.000l. a year in their military and naval defences. This was a sum equal to the expenditure not only of the general Government of the United States, but also, he believed, of the particular Government of every State in the Union. The United States militia was a muster roll of all the male inhabitants for three days in the year, not consecutive days, and the occasion was regarded as a sort of holiday. Any man might absent himself on the payment of a fine of seventy-five cents, and in the New England States the muster was entirely discontinued. The decadence of the militia system in the United States was notorious, and it was admitted that it presented no features of military organisation.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: The numbers were—Ayes 95; Noes 55: Majority 40.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 11 (Secretary at War may make Regulations).
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
wished to ask the hon. and learned Attorney General what steps were to be taken to enforce the attendance of militiamen?
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that if a militiaman did not appear when called out, he would be taken before a magistrate and fined 10l. if they caught him —[Laughter] —of course, if they did not catch him, he would not be fined. But supposing he was caught, he would be liable to this penalty, and in default of payment he would be committed for six months to the house of correction.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, the Secretary at War would have a discretionary power as to the payment of the bounties. If the money was to be paid down, it was provided that the whole bounty should not exceed 6l.; or if it were to be paid periodically, it did not exceed 2s. 6d. per month. He might state that the Government expected to raise the men at bounties that might not exceed 4l. in all, or if they were paid periodically, at sums not exceeding 2s. per month. His reasons for coming to this conclusion were, first, that soldiers en- 657 listed in the Army for a bounty nominally of 4l., but in reality only 12s for 3l 8s. was deducted from their bounty money to supply their kit; so that if a soldier enlisted for 12s., he thought there would be little difficulty in obtaining militiamen for 4l., which the Government would be able to give without deduction, as the militiaman did not require the necessaries that were required for the soldier. Another reason for his coming to that conclusion was, that in 1831, which was the last time the Militia Act was put in force, 770 men were required for Middlesex, and upwards of 700 were raised by bounties of 3l. If 3l. was sufficient in 1831, he had no doubt that 4l. would be sufficient now.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, he wished to know what the equipment of the militia would cost in addition to the bounty? He also wished to know how they proposed to deal with the men that did not appear when called out?
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that in addition to the penalties which his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General had pointed out, there would be this security, that if the bounty was paid monthly, the men would appear in order to get their money; and if it were to be paid down, it would be in the discretion of the Secretary at War not to pay it down all at once, but in such times, modes, and conditions as would be most likely to secure attendance.
§ MR. RICH
said, there had been so much uncertainty with regard to the application or non-application of the ballot, that he felt the Committee would be reposing too large a discretionary power in the bands of the Secretary at War, if they permitted him to give so large a bounty as 6l. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department said that the bounty really given would not exceed 3l. or 4l. [Mr. WALPOLE: I said, may not exceed. I Well, the right hon. Gentleman hoped that it might not exceed 3l. or 4l. He (Mr. Rich) could not, therefore, see the necessity for leaving with the Secretary at War a discretionary power of raising the bounty to 6l. If the Bill had been maturely considered by the Government, and were intended to be a permanent measure, the case would stand on a different footing; but, as the whole matter was to come under the consideration of Parliament in the winter, he saw no reason for placing the figure of the bounty so high as 6l. In fact, the bounty might amount to as much as 7l. 10s., for 2s. 6d. a month for five years would make that sum. Now, 658 if so high a bounty was to be given to the militia, what would they do for recruits for the regular Army? Practically, the bounty to a recruit on entering the Army, in which he must serve ten years, was 12s., yet the militiaman was to get 7l. 10s. as a bounty for fifteen weeks' service, while the hardworking soldier had 525 weeks' service. The consequence of this arrangement would be, that they would be obliged to raise the bounty for the Army, for if that were not done a young man would enlist in the militia, serve in it for a year, receive his 30s. in hard cash, and then, perhaps, volunteer into the Army. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said that the militia would be a nursery for the Army, and an encouragement to it. It might be so; but it would be at the expense of the public purse. A force of 80,000 men, raised at a bounty of 7l. 10s. each, would cost, under that head alone, the enormous sum of 600,000l. involving an annual expense of 120,000l For less than that sum a reserve force might be added to the regular Army of 14,000 of the most efficient soldiers in the world. We had now an Army of 140,000 men, and of these from 30,000 to 40,000 had engaged to serve for twelve years. Many of these men were anxious to quit the Army, and paid 5l., or even 10l., for their discharge. Now, if a promise were held out to these men, that after twelve years' service they should have 6d. a day pension, with the understanding that they should serve twenty years in a reserve force, an infinitely better force would be organised, at an infinitely less cost than would be squandered upon bounties to the militia, and a large reserve might be gradually formed. But the special ground on which he objected to the retention of the words "six pounds" in the clause was, that it would very seriously interfere with the recruiting for the regular Army. It was true that the clause said "such bounty in no case to exceed six pounds;" but the words "not exceeding" were always construed to mean the full amount specified. He had bad some experience in these matters, and he believed that when a salary was granted "not exceeding" a certain sum, it always reached that limit. Feeling, therefore, that they had no right to create a jealous feeling in the Army, and that it was a most injudicious thing to raise false expectations in the minds of those who were entering into the militia—looking upon the Bill merely as a provisional measure, and bearing in mind also that it had in many essential 659 points been departed from, he thought the Committee would agree with him that the bounty given to men in consideration of their enlisting in the militia should in no case exceed that now given to men enlisting in Her Majesty's regiments of the line. He should, therefore, move an Amendment to that effect.
P. 5, 1. 1, after the word 'exceed,' to insert the words 'either by immediate or periodical payment or allowance, that which is now payable to Recruits on enlistment in Her Majesty's Regiments of the Line.'
§ MR. BERESFORD
begged to remind the hon. Member for Richmond that a militiaman could not go into the line when he thought proper. If he enlisted as a militiaman he must serve in that capacity, unless men were wanted for the line; and then, and then only, he might be allowed to enter. He begged also to say that there never existed any intention of making the actual bounty paid 6l.; and, with regard to the 7l. 10s. which was to be paid by instalments of 2s. 6d. a month, it must be remembered that that payment would be spread over a large space of time. It was very well known that temporary employments were remunerated at a higher rate than permanent employments. When a recruit was taken for a soldier, he was taken for a long period; but a militiaman was taken for a much shorter time, and therefore it was but fair that he should have rather the advantage in point of bounty. The Secretary at War, whoever he might be, ought to have a discretionary power to regulate the sums given by way of bounty, which it might be necessary to vary in different years.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, he was of opinion that a sound distinction had been taken between temporary and permanent employments, but the principle applied to the pay, and not to the bounty. He really was at a loss to know why a militiaman should receive a bounty of 7l. 10s. for very slight service. The Army recruit received nominally a bounty of only 4l., and out of that he got but 12s. in money, and the rest in necessaries. He believed the effect of this provision would be, instead of strengthening our real defences, seriously to weaken them.
§ MAJOR BERESFORD
said, the effect of the hon. Gentleman's plan would be to draft off from the Army the very best soldiers at the time they were most valuable; and an illustrious Commander had pro- 660 tested against any means being introduced which would have the effect of inducing men to leave the Army after they had been only a short time in the service.
§ MR. STANFORD
had not heard any reasons given for so large a bounty as was proposed. He would strongly urge that the amount be 4l., of which 1l. should be paid in hand at once, to meet the wants, perhaps, of the family during the man's absence, and 3l. at the end of the period of service. That would be more likely to secure his services throughout the period. He hoped the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Rich) would have no objections to incorporate his suggestion with the Amendment which he had moved.
§ MR. BRIGHT
wished to know what was to be the amount of bounty paid in cash to the militiaman, and were there to be any deductions?
§ MR. BERESFORD
said, that the militiaman would receive the whole of the bounty; he was to serve but for a very limited time, a kit would not be required, and therefore nothing would have to be deducted on that account.
§ COLONEL RAWDON
said, he had not obtruded his opinion before upon the House in connexion with this Bill, because the Government appeared to consider it necessary, although he himself thought it was throwing so much money away. But the present point, which placed the militia and the Army in so great a contrast, was far too serious to be lightly passed over, and he entreated the attention of the Committee to it.
§ CAPTAIN BOLDERO
said, that in former times the kit was deducted out of the pay of the soldiers, which, therefore, kept them low for eight or nine months, and caused great discontent; the 4l. was afterwards given to do away with that, and with no view of bounty, although it was so called, and sometimes so misunderstood. He would ask any hon. Gentleman opposite if he really thought that they could raise the number of men proposed without the bounty? [Mr. HUME: Yes, I do.] He did not think that the hon. Gentleman would find one military man in the service 661 to agree with him in that opinion. The militia was a temporary service, and of course more money must he paid for it than for the regular service, which was a permanency.
§ MR. HUME
was still of opinion that, by encouraging volunteer and rifle corps, the Government might have raised the force which they wished for, without squandering the public money in the manner now proposed. Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down say whether he thought there would be any difficulty in getting together 100,000, or even 200,000 volunteers in the space of one month, supposing an emergency should arise?
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that, supposing volunteers were wanted at an emergency, he believed they could be got together even in as great numbers as the hon. Gentleman had mentioned. The object of this Bill, however, was not to raise a force for an immediate emergency, but to provide the nucleus of a force which might be turned into a regular army at any moment when the occasion arose. Now, the essence of a volunteer corps was, that a man might leave it at any moment he chose— there was no hold on him; and for that reason, he thought it was impossible to form a force such as he had described, and such as he considered was required, out of a volunteer corps.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, he must protest against the injustice done to the regular soldier in putting a bounty of 7l. 10s.—as it appeared now the bounty would realty amount to—given to a militiaman against the 12s. which he received. If the militia were not, as had been remarked by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Capt. Boldero), a permanency, it must be taken into consideration that the duty was very light. The relative amounts were out of all proportion with the service required, and he thought, if the bounty were reduced to the half of 7l. 10s., it would be quite sufficient.
§ CAPTAIN BOLDERO
said, he must repeat that they would not get men to leave their work, and volunteer into the militia, without paying them for it.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he wished to know the point on which they were about to divide. He understood his hon. Friend (Mr. Rich) to say that the system of bounty to the 'militia would interfere with the recruiting for the Army. On that subject he would refer to the evidence of 662 General Brown, the head of the recruiting department, before the Committee on the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, and which touched on the question of the difficulty of procuring recruits for the Army. He was asked by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham) if there was any unwillingness on the part of the pensioners to induce young men to enter the Army; and the answer of General Brown was that there was not, but that there was a great unwillingness on the part of young men to enter. On this the right hon. Baronet asked if they were not, in fact, seduced to enter, and whether a system of crimping was not employed; to which General Brown replied, that they seldom got any one to enter the Army who could do better. The right hon. Baronet then inquired why the pensioners could not recruit in their own parishes; and General Brown answered that if they did so, the villages would be too hot to hold them, and that the old women would beat any one out of the field who tried to enlist young men. That evidence showed that the difficulty of recruiting for the Army would he increased by holding out a higher bounty to the militiaman, who would of course be prevented entering the Army for five years; the same class of men being likely to enlist for the militia as usually entered the Army. He should vote for the plan of his hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, as being the least expensive, and best calculated to meet the object required.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: — Ayes 99; Noes 164: Majority 65.
§ On the Question that the words "six pounds" be inserted as the maximum sum sum to be offered to volunteers by way of bounty,
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that by the Bill it was proposed to give a bounty to the militiaman not exceeding 6l., or rather of 7l. 10s., as the bounty would be spread over five years, it not being considered advisable to give so much as 6l. at once, as it might be an inducement to a man to abscond. Now that bounty would involve a cost of 600,000l. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War had stated that there were things required to equip the militia, which must be paid for besides the bounty; such as uniforms, arms, accoutrements, shoes, ? but the right hon. Gentleman had not told them what 663 the expenditure on that account would be. They ought to know the whole sum they would be called on to vote if a force of 80,000 men was to be raised. He (Mr. Bright) thought that it would require 5l. a man to provide him with such things as were necessary for his equipment, which would be 400,000l. more, making a sum of 1,000,000l., besides the pay, which the Committee was invited by the Government to pledge themselves to vote on a case the lamest and weakest that was ever offered to them in favour of a vote of such magnitude. He must insist on knowing more on this subject from the Government. Let the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose main business it was never to part with the public money unless for some irresistible reason, state what it was for which this 1,000,000l. of money was to be voted. He (Mr. Bright) would not vote in the dark such a sum. The Government were guilty of the most reprehensible abandonment of their duty in calling on the Committee to vote 1,000,000l. sterling on a force which the country did not think necessary, when they could have left the subject to be considered by the New Parliament in the autumn, or next February, when it could have been more calmly and efficiently discussed. He called on the right hon. Gentleman to afford the Committee the most minute and unequivocal information with regard to the sum they were called on to vote.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, when his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought forward his Budget, he stated the sum that would be required for the militia for the present year would be 350,000l., and credit was given for that sum. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright) said, and wished it to go forth to the country, that the Government were about to spend 1,000,000l. on the militia for the year 1853, when he was aware that that statement was not accurate.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he had never stated anything of the kind. How could he have said so, when he went into the question of the 7l. 10s. bounty, which was to he spread over five years, and multiplied it by 80,000l., the number of men to be raised. What he said was, that the sum to be ultimately expended would be 1,000,000l., and he never for a moment thought it was to be the expenditure for a year. He never supported his case by misrepresenting that of his opponents, and he was not so wanting in sense as to make a 664 statement which the right hon. Gentleman could overturn as soon as he rose.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he did not very clearly see the force of the hon. Gentleman's remarks, if he did not mean to say that the 1,000,000l. was to be spent during the first year. But in reply to his question as to what the expense was likely to be, he begged to repeat that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had estimated the first year's expense at 350,000l. When he (Mr. Walpole) asked leave to bring in the Bill, he stated exactly what he believed would be the probable expense of the militia for five years; for it was necessary to spread the expense over the whole period in order to ascertain properly the pressure of the burden, since a large portion of the sum which was paid during the first year would operate, of course, so as to reduce the expense for the succeeding years. Since he made that statement he had made inquiry, and found that arms for 50,000 men, and accoutrements for nearly as many, could be furnished without any expense whatever to the country. On the occasion to which he had referred, he stated—and he had gone over the figures again, and had confirmed his opinion—that the equipments, the pay of men and officers, and sundry allowances—supposing 50,000 men raised —would amount to 210,000l.; that the expense for the same purpose during the second year might be put down at 210,000l. more; but that the expense for each of the remaining three years would amount to only 160,000l., but say 165,000l.; making altogether, in round numbers, 915,000l. To this there remained to be added the bounty, which, from the first, he calculated at only 3l. per man (not 6l.); and he still believed, notwithstanding all the assertions that had been made that night to the contrary, that they would be able to procure men at little more than 3l. per man. This would amount to 240,000l., which, added to the 915,000l., would make a total of 1,155,000l., or say 1,200,000l., as the expense of the militia force for five years. Supposing that the system of increased periodical payment was adopted in the case of all the men, instead of the bounty, the expense would be somewhat larger, but he thought that, even if it should be, it would be regarded as a good insurance for the rest of their money.
said, he must congratulate the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) on the various ques- 665 tions on which he condescended to touch. He had asserted that the men would take the bounty and desert, but he (Colonel Sib-thorp) was confident that his countrymen were proof against the inducements thus held out to them by the hon. Member for Manchester. ["Order!"]
said, the hon. and gallant Member was pursuing a line of argument which was not consistent with due respect to the House.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
was sorry to be impelled into the use of strong language, but he could scarcely avoid it when he heard such libels on the character of the people of this country.
SIR FRANCIS BARING
wished the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would inform the Committee what was the estimated expense which would fall on the county poor-rate.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he had made inquiries with a view to ascertain what had been the expense of the machinery of the ballot when the militia were last called out, but he had been unable to obtain any accurate information on the subject. He had made his calculations of expenditure on the supposition that the full amount of bounty would be paid; but if the whole number of men required were not obtained by voluntary enlistment, and it was found necessary to resort to the ballot, there would be of course a saving of the bounty.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had estimated the bounty at 3l. per man; but he (Mr. Cardwell) believed the Government would give the maximum bounty of 6l. before they had recourse to the ballot. If then, for half the number of men required, a bounty of 6l. per man was paid, the sum expended would equal the amount calculated by the right hon. Gentleman for the whole number at 3l. per man.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, the right hon. Gentleman had estimated the probable expense of the militia force, for five years, at about 1,200,000l., hut the country might he put to much greater expense. The Government would take power under the Bill to pay 2s. 6d. a month as bounty to each man for the whole period of five years. The maximum bounty would, therefore, by 7l. 10s., instead of 6l., and would amount to a total sum of 600,000l. He thought, although they were told there were arms and accoutrements in store for 666 50,000 men, the probability was that many of them were good for nothing, and that he might fairly estimate the expense for arms, accoutrements, and clothing, at 5l per man, which would give a further expenditure of 400,000l. It must also be remembered that for the twenty-one days in each year when the militia were called out for duty, every private would be entitled at least to receive a guinea—so that for the five years there would thus be a further cost of five guineas for each private soldier, without taking into account the pay of staff-officers and other contingent expenses.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the blank be filled up with 'six pounds.'"
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 186, Noes 80: Majority 106.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he must object to the Motion; it was then only half-past eleven o'clock, and if the Committee would consent to sit a little longer, he, on the part of the Government, would agree not to proceed with any of the compulsory clauses that night.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, he should support the Motion for reporting progress, on the ground that the House bad already been in Committee six hours and a half.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, there was one important matter which it was very necessary that the Committee should consider with the utmost care—he meant the list of exemptions. Before proceeding to enact that compulsory military service should be resorted to, it was only right, he thought, that they should decide who were the persons liable to serve, and clearly define the exemptions.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the question now before the Committee was, whether they should stop the proceedings at this stage, it being only half-past eleven o'clock. As to the statement of the hon. Member (Mr. Mowatt) that they had been sitting on the Bill six hours and a half, hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House must know that it was necessary to be prepared on important questions to undergo much greater fatigue than that. Besides, the Committee had not shown any symptoms of fatigue, and as it was really an early hour, the proposition to adjourn was, he thought, a wanton one. With regard to the information required by the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), that was a 667 point which did not arise on the present clause of the Bill.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill; as were also Clauses 12 and 13.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee reported progress.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock till Monday next.