HC Deb 27 May 1852 vol 121 cc1201-5

On the Motion for considering this Bill as amended,


said, he was anxious to give the Government every support, but he could not do it in this instance. He wished to move as an Amendment, on Clause 3, to leave out the word "major," and insert the words "captain or any higher rank." He denounced the new scheme brought in by the Government, some of whom, he said, did not know the difference between the breech and the muzzle of a carbine. As the clause stood, it was nothing less than a stigma on a deserving class of officers. He could not consent to do away with the landed qualification for officers. He believed the force was a necessary force, and wished to see it what it ought to be. He should like it to be a constitutional and strong body of men. He knew that the Lord Lieutenants felt much aggrieved at not being able to appoint their own adjutants and other officers. He felt strongly interested in this question, knowing the value of the militia.


said, he did not think any amendment could be made on either side of the House that would reconcile him to the Bill. He rose to enter his protest against it. He did not believe that it was necessary, or that, if necessary, it would be efficient. He hoped his Friends would take a division on the third reading, and thus show the country how much they had done to oppose it. The compulsory clauses were of a barbarous and antiquated char-actor; and it was most impolitic in the legislation of the present day to revive such odious provisions. He believed that 500 volunteers would be better than 5,000 conscripts. If they wanted extra force, let it be one on which the country could rely. Every shilling expended under this Bill would be waste money. The country generally was against it; already 1,200 petitions had been presented against it. He should oppose and divide against the third reading; and if, after the third reading, he could succeed in striking out the compulsory clauses, he should be glad to do so.


said, he had given notice of a Motion to omit Clause 16; but after the course recommended by the hon. Member for Montrose, and seeing the small number of Members present, he would not now take a division. He had opposed the Bill from the first, on the ground that our military defences were sufficient; and, that if they were not so, the Bill would not answer the desired end. Nothing could be so odious to the country as the introduction of this conscription in time of peace; it should only be resorted to in cases of great emergency. He knew that thousands of young men, if drawn in the ballot, would be absolutely ruined. Where was the necessity to justify such a course as this? If the force could not be raised by volunteering, he, for one, was willing to increase the bounty to such an extent as would secure their being raised. But they ought to resort to the pensioners, and those who had been discharged from the Army. He had no doubt that 25,000 or 30,000 men might thus be raised, and they would be far more efficient than 50,000 militiamen. The House had been much misled as to our existing force. No two Gentlemen of the present or past Government had agreed on the subject. He wished to ask the right hon. Secretary at War whether the following statement was not correct: The military force voted this Session, including cavalry and infantry, for the service of Great Britain, Ireland, and the Colonies, was 101,936 men, and of artillery 15,582, making together a total of 117.518. There were in the Colonies 42,208, leaving for Great Britain and Ire- land an actual force, voted and provided for in the estimates, of 75,300 men, There were besides, the embodied pensioners, coast-guard, dockyard battalions, yeomanry cavalry, and police; making al-together an effective force of upwarda of 150,000. Adding to these 38,000 sailors and marines, there was a force of upwards of 188,000 men. It was impossible that any force could be landed here sufficient to cope with this. But if more were necessary, why not accept voluntary services? The real object of this Militia Bill was to give appointments and offices to a number of country gentlemen. The force in the Army last year had been 5,189 short of the number voted, while the expenditure had exceeded the amount of the vote by 388,000l. He should like to know how the right hon. Secretary at War could explain that? Taking the men not employed, and the extra sum expended, there was a sum of at least 500,000l. to account for. The late Government were mixed up with this expenditure as well as the present Government. The ballot clause was the most objectionable one in the Bill; but in the present state of the House he would not divide against it.


said, the third reading of the Bill would not be taken till the Monday after the holidays. With reference to the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln (Colonel Sibthorp), the object of which was that captains should still be required to have the qualification they had under the statute of George III., he had no objection to that alteration. A further Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member, proposing an insertion in Clause 4, was so inconsistent with the other parts of the clause, that he would not consent to it. The Lord Lieutenant had the appointment of all the officers, subject to the approbation of the Crown. They must all have qualifications either in land, personal property, or rank in the Army.

Amendment agreed to.


begged to move the insertion of a Proviso at the end of Clause 18, relative to the exemption of the members of the University of London from the operations of this Bill. The system of putting the University of London on the same footing as the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge had already been recognised, and the sole object of his Proviso was to carry out that system.

Amendment proposed— At the end of Clause 18 to add the following words:—'Provided always, that no member of the Senate of the University of London, nor any Examiner, or other Officer thereof, nor any Professor, Tutor, or Lecturer of any College, School, or Institution connected with the said University, under the provisions of any charter thereof, nor any Student of any such College, School, or Institution, who shall have matriculated in the said University, shall be liable to serve in the Militia under this Act.

Question proposed, "That those Words be there added."


said, be did not wish to offer any objection to applying the same privileges to the University of London as were given to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; but the Proviso of the hon. Gentleman extended far beyond that. The privilege in respect to exemption from serving in the militia was only enjoyed by persons actually resident at the two latter Universities; whereas this Proviso extended it to all persons connected with the London University, whether resident or not. The hon. Gentleman also proposed to extend the privilege to the schools in connexion with the University of London, which was going beyond the exemption enjoyed by the other Universities.


said, he would venture to suggest to the hon. Member (Mr. Thornely) that he might damage the cause which he had in hand by pressing this Proviso at the present time. He (Mr. Gladstone) was willing that the Members of the London University should enjoy every exemption which was made in favour of Oxford and Cambridge; but there was this distinction—at Oxford and Cambridge the members were generally resident, but that was not the case at the London University. He therefore hoped that the hon. Gentleman would postpone the Proviso until the third reading.


said, that under these circumstances he would agree to postpone the Proviso,

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


moved the insertion of the following Proviso at the end of Clause 16:— Provided always, that no person being a resident Member of the University of Durham shall be liable to serve personally or provide a substitute for the Militia,


suggested, that this Proviso should also be postponed. He quite agreed that the Universities of Durham and London should be put upon the same footing as the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; but he thought there was a doubt whether the exemption should extend to any of the Universities. Exemptions having, however, been given to Oxford and Cambridge, he did not sec how they could fairly exclude from exemption the other Universities. At the same time, supposing the law should hereafter be consolidated, the Government reserved to itself the power of reconsidering the whole of these exemptions.

Proviso postponed.

Report, as amended, agreed to.