HC Deb 01 May 1854 vol 132 cc1171-3

said, he would now move for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the militia law, but in one respect only. By the Act of 42 Geo.. III., the Crown had the power of embodying the militia only in cases of actual invasion or danger thereof, or in case of insurrection or rebellion. Considering how large a portion of the regular army had been sent abroad, and the time that must elapse before an equal number of recruits could be raised, it was of great importance that Government should be able to avail themselves, for a time at least, of establishing a portion of the militia for the purpose of home service. He was happy to say that the country, although at war with Russia, was in no danger of invasion. As the law now stood it was impossible for the Crown to avail itself of the continued service of the militia. The object, therefore, of the Bill was to empower the Crown to embody it, that was, to call out for a continued period, the whole or any part of the militia, whenever the country is in a state of war. He also proposed, in case any regiment should be called out for training, for a period short of the period of fifty-six days, to take power, if occasion should require it, to continue the training up to the period of fifty-six days, without going through the process of giving fresh notices in the manner in which it is necessary to give them at the first assembling.


said, he did not object to the nature of the Amendments suggested by the noble Lord, and he felt assured that every man in the militia would be ready to come forward, and to willingly perform the duties that were imposed upon him. He hoped that the noble Lord would also consider whether some effective arrangements could not be carried out with reference to the wives and children of the men serving in the militia, many of whom were necessarily left by their husbands and fathers in a state of perfect destitution, and could look for no other parish relief than a workhouse order. The consequence of this was, that a militiaman, after serving his country, might find upon his return home that his family had been dispersed and made destitute, and his little furniture seized and sold. He hoped, also, that proper attention would be given to the stores for the services of the militia, and that generally the clauses of the Bill would be carefully considered.


said, that the importance of securing a state of efficiency for our militia could scarcely be overrated, inasmuch as it would, no doubt, form a most important nucleus from which to fill up vacancies in our Army. He hoped that the Government would take every means of encouraging the system of volunteering, which he was sorry to see had been discountenanced by one of the colonels of a regiment of militia.


said, that a good deal of excitement existed in Ireland on the subject of calling out the militia, and he trust- ed the Government would now state their intention on that point.


said, he was now preparing a Bill to consolidate the existing militia laws, and in that Bill certain amendments would be introduced. He had purposely confined the present Bill to the points he had just mentioned, because it was desirable to pass it as soon as possible. With regard to volunteering into the line, different colonels took different views, but in some cases great encouragement had been given by the colonels, in proof of which he might refer to the efforts of Lord Fitzhardinge. With respect to the Irish militia, it was not the intention of the Government during the present year to organise or enrol the Irish militia. It was not desirable to incur any large expense if the public service did not require it. What might be done in another year was a matter for future consideration.


said, he regretted that it was not the intention of the Government to call out the Irish militia. A large force had been withdrawn from Ireland, and the noble Lord could hardly expect men to enlist in the regular service if such distrust was shown of them by the Government.


said, there was a very large constabulary force in Ireland, and considering that the Government had increased their pay to the extent of 45,000l. a year, he did not think there existed any ground of complaint on the part of that country.


inquired if the noble Lord intended to introduce the Bill for the consolidation of the militia law during the present year?


Yes, as soon as possible.

Leave given; Bill ordered to be brought in by Viscount Palmerston and Mr. Secretary at War.

Bill read 1°.

The House adjourned at One o'clock.