HC Deb 22 February 1855 vol 136 cc1734-6

Order for Committee read.


said, he wished to make an inquiry of the hon. Under Secretary of War or the Secretary for War,—he did not know the precise office which the hon. Gentleman filled—and if he could not give any explanation, he would ask the First Minister of the Crown a question with reference to what had been stated in another place when this Bill was under discussion. He found it was reported that in reference to the recruiting for the army, the Minister of War made use of these words— The attention of Government has been much directed, my Lords, to the recruiting of the army, and there can be no question that means must be found—if not gentle, then they must be found by compulsion—for recruiting the ranks of Her Majesty's service in order to enable this war to be carried on with vigour. As he could not conceive that the Minister of War intended the meaning conveyed by those words, and presuming he must have alluded to the militia, and not to the army, though speaking of recruiting for the army, he wished to have the matter explained by the First Minister of the Crown whether this compulsion contemplated for some service or other, did not apply, if it applied at all, to the militia and not to the army?


said, that if stringent means were necessary to replenish the ranks of the army, those stringent means would entirely consist of an increase of bounty. As to the militia, the Government had power by law to resort to the ballot, but he should be extremely unwilling to have recourse to it, because the militia had had its ranks filled by voluntary enlistment to a most satisfactory degree, and those men who had entered had conducted themselves in so admirable and exemplary a manner that he should not willingly resort to anything which would in any degree weaken that voluntary enlistment which had been so generously and nobly displayed by the people of this country. He was sure the words quoted never were uttered by his noble Friend as relating to the army, and that he could only have said, if the militia should fail by voluntary enlistment, it might be necessary, in certain eventualities, to have recourse to the ballot.


said, he did not presume to impute that it was intended such should be the meaning of the words. The Minister of War was reported in all the public papers to have used the word "compulsion."


said, he wished to draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War to a paper which had been sent to him. It was headed—"Quinine for the Sick and Wounded Soldiers in the Crimea," and it went on to say— This invaluable restorative, so essential to the sick and wounded, is much needed in the Crimea at this moment. Subscriptions are therefore earnestly requested for the purpose of providing this medicine, and care will be taken to ensure its immediate delivery to the officers commanding regiments in the Crimea. Now he need not tell the hon. Gentleman that, if one medicine more than another was of essential importance to the troops serving in the Crimea, it was quinine; yet the opinion had generally gone abroad that the medicinal stores were so deficient in the Crimea, and in the hospitals in the East, that the people of this country, already so heavily taxed for those supplies, were called upon to provide, by private subscription, for these important medicines; and that, too, in the month of February, after so much attention had been called to the subject that the whole island had formed itself into a committee to supply these articles. He trusted that the hon. Gentleman would give a distinct answer, or that steps would be taken without the interven- tion of a single hour, to forward a supply of this important medicine. If he found that the smallest delay occurred, he should make the most sedulous inquiries, and should feel that it was his imperative duty to again bring this most serious question before the House.


said, the only answer he could give to the question of the hon. Gentleman was, that he would make inquiry upon the subject. It was not within his knowledge that there was any deficiency in the medical stores supplied to the hospitals. He could only say that a most ample Vote had been taken for medical and other stores, and it would be his duty to see that that Vote was well and properly applied.


said, it had been his duty some time since to see great quantities of quinine and other medical stores placed, in waggons, on board ship for the Crimea.

House in Committee; the several clauses were then agreed to.

House resumed.