§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee.
§ Postponed Clause 25 (So much of the said first-recited Act as authorises Her Majesty to order and direct the Militia, or any part thereof, to be drawn out and embodied in cases of Rebellion and Insurrection, shall be repealed).
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the clause having been 907 objected to on the previous evening by the hon. Baronet the Member for Bedford (Sir H. Verney), and a preponderating objection appearing to exist among hon. Members with respect to the clause, Her Majesty's Government did not intend to insist upon passing it; he would therefore move that it be struck out of the Bill.
§ MR. BRIGHT
complained of what he might call—without offence—the shuffling conduct of the Government with respect to the clause. This clause formed, on the introduction of the Bill, a most important feature of the speech of the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Home Department; but now, when it was found convenient to the Government, and when it had answered its purpose, this important clause was got rid of. It was his belief that the right hon. Gentleman had never had the slightest intention of passing the clause. If when the hon. Member for Bedford had moved the omission of the clause, the right hon. Gentleman had shown anything like the determination which he had manifested with respect to the other parts of the Bill, he would easily have carried it. He trusted that the right hon. Home Secretary would not lend himself to this proceeding, for when he introduced the Bill he referred to this clause as showing that the measure was not intended for the repression of public opinion, but entirely for the purpose of defence. This was one of the tricks of a Government which were not remarkable for their straightforwardness and for their character for aboveboard dealing, and its object was to secure support for an obnoxious measure. He (Mr. Bright) had been in the House of Commons nine or ten years, and had seen three Cabinets on those benches; but whether he referred to the dignified Government of Sir Robert Peel, or to the general truthfulness of the noble Lord lately at the head of the Government, he was compelled to draw a contrast very unfavourable to that of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He should be glad if the right hon. Home Secretary would tell them what now became of his argument fouunded upon this clause against his (Mr. Bright's) Amendment with regard to the oath; for it was very likely that but for those arguments that Amendment might have been carried. He might remonstrate with the right hon. Gentleman and the great majority of the Committee; but they could take any course they pleased. After the various occasions 908 in the last two months, during which they had had explanations which had been explained again the night afterwards, with variations of opinion of every kind, he put it to the Government whether their character was likely to be improved in any degree in the estimation of the House and the country if proceedings like this were to take place. After the whole of the enacting clauses had been passed, except the 28th, they withdrew one of the most important clauses of the Bill—the one on which they had endeavoured to persuade the House that the Bill was one for defensive operations only, and had no reference to the state of things in this country. If they withdrew this clause, the irresistible conclusion would be that these 80,000 men were in reality meant to repress any interruption of the public peace that might arise, should the Government be bold enough or reckless enough to carry out that policy which they had adopted when in opposition.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the consolation of the Government under the attacks of the horn Gentleman must be the conviction that a belief in their truth was not shared by any considerable numbers. The very argument which the hon. Gentleman had used against his (the Chancellor of the Exche-quer's) right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department—that he had founded a recommendation of the previous clauses on the clause now under discussion—proved the sincerity of his right hon. Friend at the time when he made that declaration. Of course, if he had supposed that the clause would not remain in the Bill, he would not have founded any argument upon it; but his right hon. Friend had given up the clause with reluctance. Any one who could judge of the temper of the Committee must have seen that, on the subject of the omission of that clause, there was a very preponderant opinion. He hardly remembered any instance in which the similarity of opinion was more general. He could not agree that this was an important clause. It might be important in the eyes of a Gentleman who supposed the Government had introduced it in order to guard themselves from the consequences of some hypothetical policy which he imagined they were going to pursue. No doubt, if they had that profound prescience which the hon. Gentleman had, they might probably find, even in the clauses of a Militia Bill, some 909 support for the future policy of the Government. But he really thought that that was a play of the austere fancy of the hon. Gentleman. This clause had been brought forward in a sincere spirit, and the Government was prepared to support it. It was not in consequence of a single objection from that side or the other which led to the relinquishment of the clause. The hon. Gentleman had not been on that occasion so keen an observer of the temper of the Committee as he usually was, or he would have found that the objections were much more numerous.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had not asked for an opportunity of postponing the clause till convinced that a large majority of the Committee were opposed to it. Under those circumstances he had taken the usual course—of asking leave to postpone the clause, instead of moving, as it was open to him to do, that the clause should be omitted. He had since taken the opportunity of ascertaining what was the feeling of the Committee upon that clause, and he was convinced that it was utterly vain to attempt to carry it.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that the noble Lord lately at the head of the Government had once remarked of a distinguished statesman, now no more, that no one knew so well how to dress up a statement for the House; and he conceived that some pains had been taken to dress up this Bill, so as to put it in a popular shape before the House. It appeared to have been supposed in the Cabinet, as they had an unpopular measure to pass through the House, that some Members of the Opposition might be quieted if votes were given to the militia; and if it was understood that the militia would not he drawn out to put down insurrection, it was an insult to the House not to submit the measure, in a bold and manly way, in the form in which it was intended to pass. The proposal for giving votes to the militia, and not calling them out in cases of insurrection, were the conceptions of Ministers themselves; and after hon. Members on his (Mr. M. Gibson's) side of the House had been induced to withdraw their opposition, in consequence of one of these proposals, they had a right to complain of its withdrawal. This course savoured a little of that peculiar practice which was known by 910 the name of jockeyship, and was sometimes resorted to to carry things indirectly which it was awkward to carry in a straightforward manner. This course reflected discredit on the Government. The whole country had looked on the proposal to give votes to the militia as a very foolish one; and the clause for not calling them out in cases of riot had been hammered on the same anvil. It also reflected discredit on the Government. As the militia was now to be called out in cases of insurrection and rebellion, he wished to know what kind of insurrection they were to be used in? Was it a resort to arms, or an expression of opinion at a public meeting? Under what circumstances would the Government think themselves justified in bringing out these 80,000 men? What was the species of popular movement which they would be called on to suppress? Would Parliament necessarily be called together first? He should be glad to have these two questions answered by the right hon. Home Secretary —what he conceived to be a legitimate occasion for calling out and embodying these 80,000 men, in reference to the internal affairs of the country; and whether it was part of the law that Parliament should first be called together, if not then sitting?
trusted that the clause would be retained. He believed that a rebellion in this country was purely impossible. The Government were not afraid of the people, and wanted no force to put them down; the clause was, consequently, of little importance. But as it had been introduced, it would be unwise to withdraw it, as it would give colour to the accusation against the Government—of being desirous to put down the popular demands. Experience had proved that the police force and the regular Army were far better adapted to act in cases of insurrection.
§ MR. JACOB BELL
said, he did not believe that any trickery had been designed in introducing or withdrawing the clause; still less did he suppose that its withdrawal would cause any great amount of dissatisfaction in the public mind. But the omission of the clause placed the Bill under an entirely new aspect. It had been intro dnced as a precautionary measure. I was now generally admitted that there was no danger of an invasion; and the first effect of this precautionary measure had been to induce the French to add 80,000 to their Army. So that, while we had 911 got 80,000 militia, who would not be embodied till next year, there were 80,000 additional regular troops in another country. While we continued setting examples of this kind, we might expect such to be the result. It had been said that nothing was more likely to provoke invasion than disaffection at home; and he thought nothing was more likely to create disaffection than setting a militia force over the people. After we had so recently demonstrated to foreigners the fact that order could be preserved without armies, it was most unwise to follow the example of Continental kingdoms, who only preserved order by means of armies. It was his conscientious conviction that the Bill would have a very prejudicial effect on the public mind in reference to those who had so strongly advocated it; and if the opponents of the Bill had succeeded in throwing it out, they would have done the Government a service.
§ MR. MOWATT
thought it desirable that the Government should state the reasons which had induced them to withdraw this clause. He had viewed the clause with great satisfaction—first, as showing that the Ministry thought any outbreak as so far improbable that it needed not to be taken into account at all. Of all species of force to be employed against the people in case of insurrection, militia or volunteers were the most objectionable. It was always better to employ regular troops, who had no connexion whatever with the locality. The withdrawal of the clause would damage the Bill and also the Government by showing that they had not that confidence they were supposed to have in the people of this country.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a few minutes ago stated the reason of the Government for withdrawing the clause—that the intimation of the Committee's opinion was so strong, and so impossible to be mistaken, that it was perfectly clear the Government could not succeed in maintaining it as part of the Bill. The clause being admittedly unimportant, and the Government seeing that there was a predominant feeling against it, it was unquestionably their duty to yield to that feeling, and, even against their inclinations, to withdraw the clause. As to the question of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) the Committee must first decide whether the clause was to form part of the 912 Bill before any necessity arose to answer the question. The clause repealed part of the 42 Geo. III., which related to calling out the militia in cases of rebellion or insurrection: if the clause were struck out, it would be quite unnecessary to give any definition at all; if it remained part of the Bill, the occasion could never arise when the militia could be called out for this service; therefore any definition of the term insurrection was wholly unnecessary. If the clause were struck out, they were referred back to 42 Geo. III., where the term "insurrection" had stood for many years; and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman was able to define without difficulty the occasions on which the services of the militia might be required under the terms of that Act. At all events, the Government ought not to be called on to provide the right hon. Gentleman with a definition. As to the second question, whether it would be necessary to call Parliament together, the 111th Section of the 42 Geo. III. provided that in all cases of invasion or imminent danger thereof, and in all cases of rebellion or insurrection, it should be lawful for His Majesty, the occasion being first communicated to Parliament, if Parliament were then sitting, or declared in Council, and notified by declaration, if Parliament were not sitting, to order and direct the Lords Lieutenants of counties to embody the militia. That would be an answer to the right hon. Gentleman. Supposing this clause struck out, that portion of the old Act would operate.
§ MR. J. EVANS
said, the clause was an entirely exceptional one, not found in any other Militia Bill, but introduced here for the first time. It was for the Government to state why it had been so introduced. The clause had been regarded as a redeeming feature in the Bill; the right hon. Home Secretary had founded his arguments on it; and now the leader of the House stepped before him, made an admirable speech, and prevented the right hon. Gentleman from answering the question put to him. In the absence of any answer, the Committee would only put their own construction on the motives with which it had been introduced. A dissolution was approaching. [Cries of" Question!"] He apprehended he was speaking to the question before the Committee. They were about to appeal to the country on the great question of free trade, and it was very likely the right hon. Home Secretary, in drawing up the Bill, might have 913 said this was a question affecting the people generally, and likely to raise a great commotion in the country, and hence he must take precautions lest it should be said he was resorting to undue influence. He had, therefore, introduced the clause with a view to render the Bill more palatable to those likely to oppose it. He would not go so far as to say that the right hon. Gentleman intended from the first to withdraw the clause; he had seen nothing in the public conduct of the right hon. Gentleman to warrant such a supposition. But the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer came forward and said there were so many murmurs of disapprobation against the clause, that the Government had been induced to withdraw it. Had it, not been introduced at all, it might have been a matter of little consequence; as it was, it ought to be retained, having been mainly relied on by the Government in supporting the Bill.
§ MR. PACKE
said, he did not think the motives of the Government in introducing or withdrawing the clause were of any consequence. It was in obedience to the majority of 200 of the preceding night that the Government had acted in withdrawing the clause. It was perfectly monstrous to say that a regiment, raised for the defence of the Crown, should be prevented by Act of Parliament from acting in the case of rebellion or insurrection. He could not help asking also of what use was it to refer the Bill to a Committee, if the Government were not at liberty to amend it?
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that in comparing the 111th section of the 42 Geo. III. with the oath prescribed by the present Bill, there appeared to him to be an inconsistency. By this Bill the militiaman was called upon to swear that he would serve in any part of the United Kingdom; but by the 111th Clause of the Act he had just mentioned, it was provided that the forces should be taken into any part of Great Britain: the distinction was obvious between serving in the United Kingdom and serving in Great Britain.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
thought the hon. Gentleman had overlooked a more recent Act, that of the 54 Geo. III., called the Interchange Act, by which the militia might be removed from one kingdom to the other. He would there find that the oath prescribed to the militiaman was the same as that which was inserted in the present Bill.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he had given a great deal of attention to the subject, and he was convinced that difficulty would arise.
§ MR. G. THOMPSON
said, he must complain that the right hon. Home Secretary had given no answer as to the reasons which had induced him to insert the clause at first. An hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Packe) said the motives of Government were of no consequence, so long as there was a majority of that House in favour of the omission of the clause. He contended that there was no such majority, until the Government announced the contemplated withdrawal of the clause. The withdrawal of this clause gave the Bill an entirely new aspect, because under it men would be called upon to serve for a totally different object than that which had been stated. The Government had obtained their majorities on the supposition that the men who enrolled themselves in the militia would not be called out except to repel a foreign invasion, whereas now they would be liable to be called on to put down their own countrymen. [Cries of "Divide!"] As an hon. Gentleman did not wish to have the clause discussed, then he would move that the Chairman report progress.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, it must be admitted that, whatever might be the degree of importance attached to the clause itself, the fact of its having been introduced into the Bill by the Government, and then afterwards withdrawn by the Government, was of sufficient importance to make the clause deserving of the attention of the Committee, He hoped that his hon. Friend would be allowed to go on with his argument, although he was aware that this was an hour when hon. Gentlemen were called on to go elsewhere.
§ MR. G. THOMPSON
would assure the Committee he did not wish to trespass upon their attention beyond what was necessary for the expression of his honest opinion. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had withdrawn this clause with reluctance. The clause was one which must have occupied the attention of the Government, and could not have been adopted by them without the most deliberate consideration, and the most solid judgment of its propriety. Now, what he wanted to know was, first, what were the reasons which induced the Government to introduce the clause into the Bill; and, secondly, what were the reasons 915 which had since induced them to withdraw it?
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he would answer both the questions which had been put by the hon. Gentleman, and that with perfect sincerity. First, the clause was introduced into the Bill because the Government thought (and none more strongly than himself) that they ought not to raise by this Bill any other force than that of a defensive force—a force not to be used except to resist foreign attacks. That was the reason why the clause was introduced into the Bill. He could assure the Committee that until they had come to the clause last night, he, for one, had wished to retain it, because he thought there would be a great advantage in not calling out the militia for the purpose of suppressing any insurrection or rebellion that might take place; but when the Committee came to the clause, a strong opposition was raised to it, not only by the Opposition side of the House, but by hon. Members on the Ministerial side, and communications were made to the Government from all quarters respecting it. He could assure the Committee that it was merely out of deference to what he believed to be the predominant opinion of the Committee that he had given up, and he would say reluctantly given up, this clause of the Bill.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
wished to say that when he suggested last night that the clause should be omitted, he was surprised it should have met with so much approbation on both sides of the House. His sole object originally was to call attention to what he conceived was an interference with the prerogative of the Crown.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, that, after the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, he felt bound entirely to withdraw the expression of opinion he had given utterance to—namely, that the right hon. Gentleman had not acted with sincerity in this matter.
§ Question put, "That this Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 61; Noes 151: Majority 90.
§ Clause withdrawn.
§ Postponed Clause 28.
§ MR. WALPOLE
moved the following Amendment:—All the provisions of the said first-recited Act, and of any Act amending the same, not hereby repealed, shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, and so far as the same are not inconsistent 916 herewith, extend and be applicable to the militia to be raised under this Act, and to all the purposes thereof. Provided always, that no ballot, nor any meeting or other proceedings for or in relation to a ballot, shall be had Under the said first-recited Acts, and the Acts amending the same, save when Her Majesty shall Order men to be raised by ballot as hereinbefore provided; and the militia to be raised under this Act shall be in substitution for, and not in addition to, the militia directed to be raised by the said first-recited Act.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, this clause rendered the men liable to all the provisions of the 42 Geo. III., and he wished to ask the Government whether they had reconsidered the list of exemptions, or whether they were determined to adhere to the strange and anomalous exemptions under that Act? He could not understand, for instance, the definition of "a poor man having no more than one child born in wedlock." The hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. Heywood) had also a very reasonable Amendment, that if the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge were to be exempted, so ought also the Universities of London and Durham, which were not in existence when the Act 42 Geo. III. passed. Why, he asked, exempt members of the Company of Watermen? Was it not quite as important to exempt engineers and stokers of steam vessels, who were certainly seafaring men when employed in managing marine steam engines? Exemptions that were suitable in the time of George III. were hot suitable in the present day, and, in re-enacting Militia Laws, some reference should be had to the alterations in the circumstances of the times. Having taken the opinion of the Committee upon some of these exemptions, and having been overwhelmed by majorities, he had not confidence to propose anything, but he threw himself upon the mercy of the Government, hoping they would reconsider their determination upon the question. He would like to hear from the hon. and learned Attorney General whether a poor man meant a pauper, or at what income a man was considered poor, and therefore exempt.
§ MR. EWART
thought the hon. and learned Gentleman ought to comply with the request which had been made by his right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson). He (Mr. Ewart) hoped some reason would be given why Peers should be exempted. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had stated the other evening there was a reason why Peers should be exempted, and he trusted, therefore, the noble Lord would 917 lay that reason before the Committee. He also considered that Government had given him a pledge on a former occasion that they would consider the claims of the students of the London University to exemption from service.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, he did not see why Peers should be exempted; and as respected members of the Universities, they were the last persons who ought to be exempted. The students of the German Universities were the first parties required to come forward in defence of their country. The words in the Act 42 Geo. III. defined a poor man to be "a man not having more than two lawful children, and property of the clear value of 50l. sterling."
§ MR. HEYWOOD
said, the education at the German Universities was a special exemption from serving in the Landwehr. The ordinary service was three years, and a University education served as an exemption for one year out of the three. He hoped the exemptions under this Bill would be extended to the Universities of London and Durham.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that the definition of a poor man, read by the hon. Member (Sir H. Verney), applied to the Scotch militia. He wanted to know what was meant by a poor man under this Bill?
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he did not think he was called upon to answer the right hon. Gentleman, as to what a poor man was. The Government had proposed to the House a Bill, the effect of which would be to make certain clauses of an existing Act operative with certain alterations, and amongst those clauses was one which provided for certain exemptions. Upon the subject of exemptions, the Committee had had a very considerable discussion, and the opinion of the Committee had been tested with regard to one of those exemptions. A division had been taken, and a large majority had affirmed the exemption. An hon. Member had proposed to insert other exemptions, and the Committee, by a large majority, had expressed an opinion against that addition. The right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department had declared his intention to adhere to those exemptions—whether without alteration or addition, he (the Attorney General) did not understand—but undoubtedly his right hon. Friend did not wish to strike out any of those exemptions which were to be found in the Act. Under these circumstances, the right hon. Mem- 918 ber for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) had asked what was the meaning of a poor man? The right hon. Gentleman seemed to consider the deputy lieutenants would have some difficulty in ascertaining whether a child was born in wedlock. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman wanted an answer to that question. [Mr. M. GIBSON: No, no!] Then he turned to the definition of a poor man, as well as he could give it. Of course it was impossible to give a definition which would apply to every part of the country. "Poor" was a relative term, and must be taken in connexion with all the circumstances of the person whose state was to be considered. What might be sufficient means in one part of the country, might be very insufficient means in another. A man might be poor in one part of the Kingdom, and not poor in another. This question must be left in some degree at large, and must be left to the deputy lieutenants to decide. He (the Attorney General) thought "a mere unskilled labourer," "a man maintained by his daily labour," might be regarded as a poor man, and probably in the judgment of the deputy lieutenant would be exempt. He was afraid he could not give a more satisfactory definition. He could not pretend to decide; it must be left in a considerable degree to the discretion of the deputy lieutenants. Though he (the Attorney General) was not a deputy lieutenant, and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) was, he had a much higher opinion of their discretion, and was more disposed to repose confidence in their discretion, than the right hon. Gentleman, who knew them better than he did. He trusted with this explanation he might retire from the discussion.
§ MR. MOWATT
said, he considered the hon. and learned Gentleman's definition very vague, and wished to give him an opportunity of correcting himself. If a man engaged in gaining his livelihood by his daily labour—an unskilled daily labourer— were to be exempted, that would exclude the great mass of the population, and make it a middle-class militia; the middle class alone would be subject to the operation of the Bill.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
admitted he certainly did say a day labourer. A man earning his living by his daily labour, and maintaining himself and family by the wages of a daily labourer, would be within the exemption, if the deputy lieutenants should think as he did.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, in reference to the proposal that had been made by the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. Heywood), to exempt members of the Universities of London and Durham, he could not see why they should not exempt the modern Universities, except that it would be very unadvisable to increase the number of exemptions. He thought it would rather become a question whether they should not include the Universities already exempted.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, the question had been asked why Peers were exempted. He believed Peers were exempted from paying their debts under certain circumstances—so were commoners, and he did not think they ought to be. If the analogy were kept up, commoners ought also to be exempted from the operation of this Bill; but he thought it was a discredit to the peerage that that exemption should exist, because if the ballot came into operation, it was not merely conscription, it was a tax; it led to substitutes; and if it were a tax, no exemption ought to he allowed to the higher classes, who could afford to pay it. Some Gentlemen had intimated an opinion that the cost of substitutes formerly in time of war would be no criterion for the cost in time of peace. Perhaps they would be surprised to hear that the annual tax upon France under the operation of substitutes was estimated, on good authority, to be no less than 42,000,000 francs. The French were accustomed to it, and submitted to it; but that was not so in England. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he presented that Budget which had redounded so much to his credit, particularly commented upon large exemptions of any kind, and he said they were confiscations. If the principle of large exemptions were applied to the higher classes, great inconvenience would result, and perhaps there would be no harm if the Government were to state their intention of reconsidering the subject, for he thought it incumbent on the Government to have as few exemptions as possible.
§ SIR JOHN TYRELL
said the hon. and learned Attorney General had defined very clearly the poor man, and he (Sir J. Tyrell) thought there was no great difficulty in defining the rich man, when he mentioned those gentlemen who, upon a certain occasion at Manchester put down their names as subscribing 1,000l. a minute when it suited their purpose. The hon. and gal- 920 lant Member (Sir De L. Evans) had had some experience of regular militiamen in Spain, and afterwards at Waterloo, and had had great experience of volunteers, near the site of the building in which they wore assembled, when he distinguished himself by putting himself at the head of a not very regular force. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had brought forward an annual Motion for exempting persons from corporal punishment, and went so far as to suggest as a substitute the tieing something to their left legs; but when those volunteers had been assembled, he seemed inclined to alter either his opinion or his practice.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
said, he did not know whether to take the speech of the hon. Gentleman as an attack or a compliment. He was not aware that this clause had anything to do with corporal punishment, and therefore he would not delay the progress of the Bill by discussing that question on the present occasion. With regard to the militia, he was not conscious of having said anything in disparagement of that body, with which he presumed, from the tone of his observations, the hon. Member was connected.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ MR. WALPOLE
proposed an additional clause, prescribing that the qualifications of officers in the militia might be derived from personal as well as from real estate.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, he had not been aware that there was any intention of bringing up this clause, and he feared that it was intended to supersede the clauses of which he had given notice—to which, he understood, his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had promised to give his favourable consideration on the bringing up of the Report. The clauses which he (Col. Sibthorp) had intended to propose, rendered it essential that the qualification of officers should be the same as that required by the 42 Geo. III., c. 90; whereas, by the Bill as it stood, no qualification at all was required for captains and officers under that rank. Tenants would go out in face of any danger with their landlords; and even shopkeepers and residents in country towns would much rather serve under men they had known all their lives than under any one foisted upon them who had no such associations. He trusted that his right hon. Friend would give the Committee some assurance on this point.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that the clause now proposed by the Government, substituted—not necessarily, however, but only 921 in such cases as Lords Lieutenants might approve—an equivalent income arising out of personal estate to that required by the 42 Geo. III. The objection of the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln was one which he knew was entertained strongly by many; and the best mode of obviating it would be by proposing, when the Bill was reported, that in the third clause the word "captain" should be substituted for "major." That would require captains to have the qualification insisted on by the hon. and gallant Colonel, and he should be most happy to give the propriety of that alteration his best consideration on the bringing up of the Report.
§ Clause agreed to.
MR. LAW HODGES
said, that as the Committee had affirmed the principle of the ballot, he was anxious that they should consider a clause which he had placed on the Votes for some days past. The object of it was to transfer deserters from the militia to regiments of the line, instead of subjecting them to corporal punishment. This, he thought, would in a great measure check desertion, and facilitate enlistment in the line.
§ MR. BERESFORD
said, he did not think the remedy proposed by the hon. Gentleman was the best to meet the evil of which he complained. It would be very natural for a soldier to feel annoyed if a man were declared unfit for the militia, that he should be nevertheless considered fit for the Army. The proposition of the hon. Member, if adopted, would amount to this: it would be held as a slur cast upon the whole Army, which he was sure no hon. Gentleman would wish to do. In regard to the punishment itself—if a man were found guilty of an offence by a Court-martial, and that the punishment was to be sent abroad for a given time, great expense would be entailed upon the public, and much trouble given to all parties, to no beneficial purpose. They had military prisons, for the punishment of soldiers, when found guilty of an offence by Court-martial. He thought, that such a mode of punishing offenders in the militia was much better than sending them to the regular force, particularly as no condemned regiments existed now. He was of opinion that such a system as was recommended by the hon. Gentleman would be a very bad one to introduce.
§ Clause withdrawn.922
§ Preamble agreed to; House resumed; Bill reported as amended.