HC Deb 13 July 1855 vol 139 cc856-8

said, he wished to make an inquiry as to whether the Government intended to put an end to the system of billeting militia regiments upon private families in Scotland? He repeated the statement made on that occasion, as to the inconvenience suffered by the inhabitants of Dalkeith from this cause. The regiment to which he more particularly referred was commanded by the Duke of Buccleuch, who did all in his power to promote the welfare of his troops. An impression prevailed in the town of Dalkeith that his Grace had the power to remove the grievance of which they complained; but that was not the case. He hoped the Government would give their early attention to the matter, as this was not a time when they could afford to allow feelings of irritation to grow up in any class.


said, he would beg, before the noble Lord replied to the question just put, to direct his attention to the circumstance that although a great number of men, including a detachment of the Guards, as well as militia, were now assembled at Aldershot, some of them for two months, others for one, the Board of Ordnance had not as yet settled upon a piece of ground for the purposes of ball practice. Many of these men might be called upon at a moment's notice to leave for service in the Crimea, and yet up to that moment they had had no opportunity of exercising themselves in that practice for which the camp was mainly formed. He also wished to know whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government had been directed to the circumstance that many counties—and he referred especially to the Welsh counties—had not as yet furnished their quota to the militia, and whether any measures were in contemplation to provide against such shortcomings?


said, that he would call the attention of his noble Friend at the head of the War Department to the circumstance of the want of space for ball practice at Aldershot, but at the same time he would remind his hon. and gallant Friend, that in order to provide for an effective ball practice, a considerable range was required, probably from 800 to 1,000 yards, and it was not easy to procure a range of that extent free from the passage of men and animals. With respect to the militia, it was true that in the Welsh and Cornish mining districts, where wages were high, and the profits upon labour considerable, there was a deficiency of men volunteering for the militia; but it was thought better to submit to the inconvenience than to break through the rule which had been established. At all events, until an emergency arose the Government would content themselves with the voluntary enlistment, and not have recourse to the ballot. With respect to the question of his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Cowan), he was aware that the liability cast upon private houses in Scotland to give accommodation to soldiers billeted upon them was the cause of great inconvenience, but that inconvenience arose from the manner in which at the end of the last war barrack accommodation had been restricted. He had talked the matter over with his noble Friend at the head of the War Department, who had himself perceived the inconvenience, and was in communication with the Duke of Buccleuch respecting it. One way of removing the difficulty was to erect huts, but that would be a very expensive operation, while to remove the troops out of Scotland would impose the same burden upon the people of England. He was quite sure, however, that in case any misconduct on the part of the troops were reported to the authorities, immediate steps would be taken to punish the delinquents and prevent a repetition of the offence.


said, that there was more cause for complaint in Inverness-shire than in any other county, because Fort George, Fort William, and Fort Augustus, situated in that county, would afford excellent barrack accommodation. He trusted that the Ordnance Department would turn their attention to the subject, with a view to relieve the inhabitants from the burden now cast on them.


said, the circumstance of recruits not having been so readily procured in the mining districts was owing to three facts. First, the efforts of the Peace Society in those localities; the high wages received there, and which it was not natural men could be expected to abandon for the miserable pittance offered by the Government as a bounty; and lastly, to the confusion with respect to the embodiment of the militia produced by what took place last year.


said, that the militia of the county of Radnor, which he had the honour to represent, had furnished a very considerable number of men to the line.