HC Deb 04 May 1855 vol 138 cc116-32

said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the state and condition of the militia force in the United Kingdom, and to put a question to the Government on the subject. The House was aware that in consequence of a doubt existing as to whether a certain portion of the militia force was liable to be called on service for a longer period than fifty-six days in the year, the Government deemed it advisable to give permission to all who wished to return to their homes to do so. Unfortunately, a large portion of the force took advantage of that provision, and the result was that at the present moment the militia was in a state of great disorganisation, and was very much reduced. He did not know that the Government, under the circumstances, could have adopted any other course; but he believed that the present condition of the militia force was to be attributed to a neglect of duty on the part of the Government in not availing themselves of the powers entrusted to them by Parliament. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole) introduced his Militia Bill, he said there were two modes by which the militia force could be raised—one by voluntary enlistment, the other by ballot. He proposed that the voluntary system should be tried in the first instance, but he never imagined that the voluntary system would be sufficient to maintain the militia at its full complement and in a state of efficiency during a time of war. The voluntary mode of enlistment was calculated to answer in time of peace, because it was unimportant whether the number maintained was 50,000 or 80,000; but in time of war it was of the greatest importance that the militia should be kept up to its full complement, because it was to the militia that we must very much look for the maintenance of the army in a state of efficiency. It must be very obvious, however, that voluntary enlistment for the militia in time of war would enter directly into competition with enlistment for the army. Two voluntary systems could not be successful if carried on at the same time, and in point of fact the enlistment for the militia had interfered very materially with the enlistment for the army. Hence the Government, as soon as war was declared, should have taken steps for raising the militia to its full complement by means of the ballot; but up to the present moment nothing had been done in that direction, although we had now been twelve months in a state of war. The result was, that the militia force was reduced to about 30,000 men, and, what was worse, he much feared that the deficiency in the army was still greater. He believed that at the present time the army was no less than 41,000 men below the complement voted by Parliament, and that, moreover, the daily or weekly returns of recruits, notwithstanding the denials of the Government to the contrary, would not give a greater number of men than the casualties which were constantly taking place in the ranks of the army. In a time of peace, the casualties amounted to from 20,000 to 25,000 men a year. In a time of war they amounted to 35,000 to 40,000 men. Did any one believe that that number of men could he raised by voluntary enlistment so long as the militia force was also raised upon the voluntary system? It was generally supposed, when the noble Viscount the Member for Tiverton was selected by Her Majesty for the distinguished post he now occupied, that he was the fittest person in the country to carry on the war with energy, vigour, and efficiency. He confessed he was at a loss to discover in what that vigour and efficiency consisted. He thought that much more energy was displayed by the Government of the Earl of Aberdeen, than by the Administration of the noble Viscount. Under the present Government the militia force had crumbled to pieces, and the army been reduced to 41,000 men below its proper complement. What had the noble Viscount done for the purpose of raising the Foreign Legion? The Bill had been in force for five months, and yet, until within the last ten days, not a single step had been taken upon it. It was true that the noble Viscount told them, in his usual off-hand manner, that the language used in that House had displeased the Germans, who were consequently not willing to enlist; but that could not be the reason why the Bill had not been carried into effect, for he himself knew a very distinguished Swiss general who came over to England for the express purpose of offering the Government a very large body of Swiss troops, and better troops could not be had anywhere. That officer was detained here for weeks without an answer to his application, and at last he left the country, whether in consequence of his proposal having been rejected, or whether in disgust at the treatment he had received, it was impossible to say. Nor was there any good reason to suppose that the Germans were unwilling to enlist, else how did it happen that the noble Viscount had within the last ten days signed an agreement with a Brunswick general to raise and command a body of troops. What was the condition of the administrative departments at the present moment? For example, had any great improvement taken place in the War Office? The noble Lord the Member for the City of London was very vigilant in looking after the Duke of Newcastle. It was to be hoped he would be equally vigilant in looking after Lord Panmure. An example of the manner in which affairs were still conducted in the War Office occurred the other day. A large body of Guards were sent down to Portsmouth in a great hurry to be embarked on board a ship which was waiting there for their reception. When they arrived on the spot they found the ship half full of other troops. These troops were sent on shore, and the Guards hurried on board, and while the former were unable to get their baggage out of the ship, the latter found it impossible to get theirs into it. The result was, that the Guards were sent off without shoes—the most necessary article of clothing for a soldier—and were obliged to take with them their old regulation muskets instead of Minié rifles. When the attention of Lord Panmure was called to the case in another place, he said that he did not believe it possible, and in reality confessed that he knew nothing about the administration of his own department. Great allowances were to be made for Lord Panmure, because his health was such that he could not devote all his time to the business of his department; but it must be admitted that the War Office was not in a much better state than it was during the time of the Duke of Newcastle, and he would recommend the noble Lord the Member for the City of London to direct his particular attention to that subject. But to return to the militia, it might perhaps be said that if the ballot were established throughout the country it would cause great inconvenience. To be sure it would. It would be very inconvenient to the farmer to lose his labourers, and to the manufacturer to lose his workmen; but did they expect to carry on the war without inconvenience? Did they think that the Russians were carrying on the war without inconvenience? The people of England knew that war would be inconvenient, yet they determined to go to war, and they must take the consequences which such a state of things necessarily entailed. He was one of those who deprecated the objects of the war. He thought it might have been avoided without any sacrifice to the honour or interests of the country; but that was past—we were now at war—and there was no Member of that House more anxious and willing than he was to make sacrifices for carrying on the war with vigour and efficiency—none who lamented more than he did the sacrifice which England had made of her reputation and character by the manner in which the war had been hitherto conducted. He regretted that England should be descending in the scale of nations, and, above all, he deplored that she should no longer be trusting to her own resources, but should be looking for aid and assistance to the battalions of France. They were told day after day that France would send more men to the seat of war; they never heard that England would do so. Why? Because England had no more men to send—because, owing to the mismanagement of her resources, she could afford no more troops. He had thought it his duty to bring this subject under the notice of the House, because he believed that the just indignation of the people would not much longer be restrained, and that the country would not much longer permit its resources to be thus mismanaged and trifled with by the Government. He therefore wished to ask what measures the Government intended to take to place the militia force in a proper state of efficiency.


said, that the irregularity which the hon. Gentleman had committed in delivering a speech at that time was not the only mistake he had made, for he had fallen into several errors more or less important. The hon. Gentleman said, for example, that while France was sending out large reinforcements to the Crimea, no additional troops were being despatched from England. [Mr. H. BAILLIE: I did not say so.] He would beg to inform the hon. Gentleman that if he had made inquiries in the proper quarter, he would have found that within the last two months upwards of 10,000 troops had gone from this country, representing a force equal to three times the number of the enemy. The hon. Gentleman had also fallen into an error respecting the embarkation of the Guards. When the Alma was at Liverpool, the Admiralty officers there reported that she would be able to accommodate a certain number of troops; but when she arrived at Portsmouth, the local officers were of opinion that she ought not to take so large a number. Under these circumstances, a certain number of men belonging to the line were landed from the vessel, and a body of Guards taken on board. If the Government had persisted in sending out more men than the ship could conveniently accommodate, the result would inevitably have been great sickness and mortality on board, and he thought, therefore, they were right in the course they pursued. Again, the hon. Gentleman said that nothing whatever had been done with respect to the carrying out the Foreign Legion Act. That was not correct. Several officers had received commissions to raise troops under the Act; two or three of them had already proceeded to Germany for the purpose of enlisting men; and in a short space of time depôts would be in course of formation, both at Heligoland and in this country. With respect to the militia force, he admitted that the Government were bound to take every possible step to put it in an efficient state, and certainly the progress of the war proved more than ever our dependence upon that force. When we first sent troops from this country to the East the number of regiments of the line in this country was so much reduced that it became necessary to embody a certain portion of the militia to do that duty which had before been done by the line, and later on, when the garrisons in the Mediterranean were reduced below their usual strength, for the purpose of reinforcing the army in the Crimea, an appeal was made under the authority of an Act of Parliament to certain militia regiments to volunteer for foreign service; in consequence of which several regiments had volunteered, and two or three had already left this country for the purpose of reinforcing the garrisons of Gibraltar and Malta. It was, no doubt, true, as had been stated by the hon. Gentleman, that a considerable inroad had been made on the effective strength of the militia in consequence of discussions which had recently taken place in reference to the Act of 1854; but the Government was not responsible for all that happened under that Act, nor was it, indeed, open to the Government to take any other course than that which they had adopted. The state of the case was this—the men who were embodied prior to the passing of the Act of 1854 offered their services upon the understanding that they were only liable to be called out for training for a period of from twenty-one to fifty-six days in the year, and they were liable to be called out for permanent duty only in the event of invasion, or threatened invasion. Considering the improbability of this event, there were no doubt many persons who joined the militia under the persuasion that they would not lose their civil employments by their military duties. The question then arose whether the Act of 1854 had a retrospective effect, and whether it applied to those who had joined the militia previous to its passing. The matter was referred to the law officers of the Crown, who gave a decided opinion that the Act did apply to those men—in fact, that it had a retrospective effect, and therefore if any militiaman said to the Government, "I refuse to continue on permanent duty; I have served my fifty-six days, and there is no fear of invasion; therefore I demand to be allowed to go home," the Government would have a complete answer for him. What the Government had the right of doing was perfectly clear, but it was a different question whether or not the Government should exercise their right. The House must allow that nothing was of more importance, with reference to the complete efficiency of the militia force, than that there should be the greatest possible confidence between it and the Government. It was highly desirable that the militiaman should not have it in his power to say that an undue advantage had been taken of him, and that, having enlisted on a certain understanding, the Government, availing themselves of the power granted to them by Parliament, had altered his position and called him out for permanent service, under perfectly different circumstances. A circular was therefore sent round to the commanding officers of different regiments, directing them to give their men the option of returning to their homes after fifty-six days' service, or else to re-attest themselves for continuous service after receiving a bounty of 1l. A great many men, no doubt, availed themselves of the circular and returned to their homes, and the militia regiments, though none of them had been broken up, had suffered a material diminution in their numbers. For the purpose of remedying their loss, the hon. Gentleman proposed that the Government should resort to the ballot, but the ballot would not be available for that purpose. It must be remembered that the men who had gone to their homes were still borne on the rolls of the regiment; and, when the time for their fifty-six days' training came round in the ensuing year, they would be called on to rejoin their regiments, consequently the only way in which the ballot could be resorted to in their case would be by first getting rid of them altogether, and then supplying their places by means of the ballot. If, however, it were determined to get rid of these men altogether, the first thing obviously for the Government to do would be to ascertain if their place could not be supplied by the same process by which they had been raised—namely, by voluntary enlistment—and, if that failed, then to resort to the ballot. Even counting the men who had gone to their homes, but who were still borne on the rolls of the regiment, there was no doubt that the strength of the militia regiments was considerably below the establishment. The Act of Parliament authorised the levy of 80,000 men in England and Wales, but at no time had there been more than from 45,000 to 50,000 men actually enrolled, and that number was considerably diminished in consequence of the number of men who had volunteered into the regular army. The present force of the militia in England and Wales under arms, not counting the men who had gone home, or the regiments which had been sent to the Mediterranean, was a little under 25,000 men, rank and file. One reason for not now resorting to the ballot in order to increase this force was the deficiency of barrack and hut accommodation. The present system of billeting the men in the towns where they were stationed gave the greatest dissatisfaction to the householders, and it was at the same time very demoralising to the men themselves. Out of the 25,000 men under arms at the present moment, only 6,000 were in garrison, the remaining 19,000 being in billets. Considering the impossibility of establishing discipline in the militia regiments while the men were in billets, and considering also the great number at present unprovided with barrack or hut accommodation, he considered that it would be very unwise to resort to the ballot just now for the purpose of raising the force beyond its present strength.


said, he thought the hon. Under Secretary for War had not answered his hon. Friend's (Mr. H. Bail-lie) question, which was, what means were the Government about to take for the purpose of putting the militia force on a more efficient footing? Every day complaints were being made by the commanding officers of militia regiments that, whether they wrote to the War Office or to the Commander in Chief, they could get no answer to their letters of any kind. If the War Office could not carry on the business of the militia, the Government ought to organise a regular staff, with an adjutant general, and a quarter-master general, to receive reports from the commanding officers of regiments, and to administer the department generally, under the control of the War Office. It was highly important that the militia should be put into a state of the highest possible efficiency, but at present, so far as he could learn, the whole administration of the force had got into a deadlock. The colonel of the Donegal Militia, he was informed—though he had written over and over again to the authorities in Dublin and to the War Office in England, complaining of the state of his regiment, that his men were sleeping four or five in a bed, and were in a condition disgraceful almost for pigs to be in—could get no answer of any kind to his representations. The whole force was paralysed, and, at the same time, the recruiting for the army had to a great extent been put an end to. If the Government had attended to the representations which were made to them some time go, it would have been perfectly possible for them to get pretty nearly all the militia to re-attest themselves for fresh service, by giving them a small bounty at once. When the men were made aware of the actual position in which they stood, in consequence of a discussion that took place elsewhere, they came forward and claimed their discharge, and then the Government tried to draw them back again into the service by offering them 1l. bounty. What was the result? Why, that every one of these militia regiments were thrown into a state of total disorganisation, the inhabitants of the different towns complained of the scenes of riot and insobriety which occurred, and the commanding officers lost all control over a body of men who, with proper discipline, might form a valuable reserve army. It would be in the recollection of all men connected with the military service of the country, that it had always been a very important question whether recruiting for the militia could be carried on without paralysing the recruiting for the army. There was no denying that to a certain extent the recruiting for the army had been paralysed, and at the same time he was of opinion that the pay of the militia had been inefficient. Unless something were done, and that quickly, the recruiting for the army would be altogether stopped. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Peel) said that 10,000 men had left England within the last two months. He should be very glad to have a return of those men, for, speaking from memory, he was strongly impressed with the idea that that was an over-statement. He must repeat that the duty of the Government was at once to establish a militia staff to be in direct communication with the War Office. He felt sure that this was the only way in which the reports and complaints of the colonels of militia regiments could be properly attended to.


said, that one statement just made by the hon. Under Secretary for War corroborated the charge of apathy and inactivity preferred by the hon. Member (Mr. H. Baillie) against the Government. A special Session of Parliament was summoned early last December for the express purpose of passing the Foreign Enlistment Bill, and, five months having since elapsed, the House was now told that the Government hoped at some future time to be able to state that depôts were forming of the troops to be raised under that Act. No unforeseen difficulties that they had heard of had been encountered in the carrying out of that measure; and, therefore, if this announcement of the hon. Under Secretary was to be taken as a fair specimen of the energy and diligence of the Government in meeting the requirements of such a contest as that in which we were now engaged, there was but little hope of their seeing the war brought to either a speedy or a satisfactory termination. The House was entitled to ask from the Government an explanation of the apparently unaccountable delays that had occurred in the carrying out of an Act which they had themselves regarded as being of such vital importance.


said, he wished to state, in reference to the complaint that had been made of want of attention on the part of the War Office to the colonels of the militia, that the official communications which, as an officer of that force, he had occasion to address to those authorities, had been always met with the greatest promptitude and courtesy. The replies which he received certainly might not always have been perfectly satisfactory to him; but, as an independent Member of that House, and once sitting on the Opposition side, he felt it to be his duty to say that he had invariably found the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary at War (Mr. S. Herbert) and the present Under Secretary of the same department, most anxious to consider what was pointed out to them as likely to benefit the service. At the same time, it was questionable whether it would not have been more advantageous for the Government to adopt a somewhat different course than they had done in regard to the embodiment of the militia. When the opportunity of obtaining their discharge was held out to the men, and they found that they might go away in quest of work in the summer and return in the winter, they largely availed themselves of this privilege; whereas, if they had been merely told that some doubts existed as to the law under which they enrolled, and they had been offered 20s. each to obey it, the result might have been very different. With respect to the huts now being provided for the militia at Aldershot, if they were intended to be occupied permanently, certainly more attention to the comfort of the men ought to have been evinced than appeared to have been bestowed. The officers' quarters, for instance, were only nine feet by ten, and about eight feet high; such places would certainly be unsafe to occupy for any length of time.


said, he could confirm the testimony borne by the hon. Member who spoke last as to the conduct of the War Department towards the officers of the militia; for it was impossible for any one to experience greater courtesy or assistance than he had personally received as a colonel of militia from the authorities at the War Office.


said, that there could be no doubt that great delay had occurred in the conduct of the militia business in Ireland; and some commanding officers there certainly had had their communications left unanswered. One officer, to his knowledge, having sent a communication to the War Office, and obtained no reply, came over from Ireland in order to have a personal interview with the authorities on a matter relating to his regiment. He (Mr. Bellow) himself had the honour to hold a commission in the militia, and could state that a desire existed among the officers and men to know when it was the intention of the Government to send out these regiments. Great demoralisation had ensued from the billeting of the militia, and steps ought long before now to have been taken to provide them with proper barracks. In one county, where there were 1,200 men, there was only accommodation for forty. The commanding officer was desired to hire buildings in which to place the men, but he declined doing so, as the hire would have amounted to 430l. for only a short period. If it should be found, as it probably would, that the troops could not, consistently with their health, occupy the huts at Aldershot during the winter, and if those in Ireland could not remain in the encampment at the Curragh of Kildare later than October, great evil must ensue from the men being sent back to their own homes. When surrounded by their friends and relatives, militiamen were not so likely to long for that activity which was so congenial to the soldier, and which often induced them to volunteer for the line, as would be the case were they provided with comfortable barracks, and subjected to regular training and discipline. He begged, therefore, to ask the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War whether it was the intention of the Government to build barracks, or what steps they had taken towards hiring buildings which these men could occupy, in order to prevent the painful necessity of sending them back again in the winter to the towns in which they were at present billeted? He wished also to know whether it was intended that all the militia sent to encamp on the Curragh should be Irish regiments? This was a matter of some importance, because the Irishmen of the south and west could not possibly be prevented from quarrelling with those from the north of Ireland. [Laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh, but, remembering the two designations of Orangemen and Whiteboys applied to the Irishmen of the north and south, he was sure that if these men were sent to encamp together serious mischief might be apprehended.


said, that billeting fell very lightly on Edinburgh, a city of 120,000 souls; but on the smaller towns—Dalkeith, for instance, with only 5,000 inhabitants—the injury it inflicted was intense. A medical gentleman of that town had four militiamen billeted on him within three weeks, who turned out to be the most worthless, drunken characters imaginable; in fact, a perfect disgrace to his house. He (Mr. Cowan) had sent a communication, which he had received from the billet-master of Edinburgh, on the subject of billeting, to Lord Panmure; and he hoped, as that document was acknowledged to be valuable, that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War would direct his attention to it. The present system of militia accommodation in the small towns of Scotland was quite disgusting.


said, he wished to recall the attention of the House to the fact that no answer had been given by the Government to the question of the hon. Member (Mr. H. Baillie) as to whether the Government contemplated any, and what, measures for restoring the militia to a state of efficiency. From the very desponding and gloomy statement of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War, it appeared that the militia was reduced to 25,000 men, and that the regular army was 40,000 men below the number voted by Parliament. The consequences of the unfortunate blunder which had taken place with regard to the militia seemed, therefore, to be that that force was now utterly inefficient. The people of England had never yet (to use an American phrase) "realised" to themselves the serious nature of the conflict into which they had to a certain degree dragged the Government. If this contest continued, and England was to maintain her position as a first-rate Power, very different measures must be taken to any which had yet been adopted, for all the exertions we had hitherto made were puny and insignificant, either considering the mighty contest in which we had embarked, or as contrasted with what this country had done during the last French war.


said, he thought that if there was any foundation for the statement made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. Peel), that the army was at this momoment 40,000 men below its estimated strength, the sooner the noble Viscount carried out the intentions which seemed to be indicated throughout his speech, the better for this country; for, if we endeavoured with so small a force to cope with the enormous military resources of Russia, we might just as well retire at once from such a contest. Connected with the information given to the House by the hon. Gentleman was a question he wished to put as to the proceedings of the agents who had been sent to Germany to enrol a Foreign Legion. He wanted to know if it was becoming the dignity of this country to enter into a sort of surreptitious war? Were the agents sent to Germany to enrol troops for us in communication with the authorities there, and had they, he should like to know, the sanction of the Sovereigns of the German States? Already, he believed, we had been subjected to some severe mortifications on this point. He had recently read that an attempt to enrol Americans for the purpose of fighting the battles of Great Britain was made in New York, but the office opened by the English agent was closed by the authorities there, and the enrolment was thus put an end to. Again, he had heard that in Prussia an order had been issued directing the attention of the inhabitants to the rules and regulations affecting the entry of Prussian subjects into the service of a foreign potentate, and this attempt on the part of English agents was likewise put an end to. Similar occurrences had, he understood, taken place in Hamburg, and also in Switzerland, so that, if this was the case, very few of the German States seemed disposed to allow the English agents to procure men. He wished likewise to know, therefore, whether these agents had been sent over to Germany (for it seemed the Government had abandoned their original idea to take the foreign emigrants as they passed through this country) with the sanction of the Sovereigns of the States in which they were stationed, or whether the Government was prepared to bear these Sovereigns harmless through any transactions which might occur between them and the Emperor of Russia in consequence of these proceedings? He thought it would be satisfactory to the country that the hon. Gentleman should distinctly inform the House whether Her Majesty's Government had been in communication with the Sovereigns of the countries in which they were endeavouring to raise recruits for the Foreign Legion.


said, he was of opinion that, as the original agreement was to enlist the men for a period of fifty-six days, Government could not have acted otherwise than they had done without committing a breach of faith with the militia. He rose, however, to ask the hon. Gentleman, the Under Secretary of War, whether the statement was true, that no militiamen would be reattested after the 26th ultimo?


said, he was sure the discussion had lasted quite long enough, but he wished to express his conviction, founded on several years' residence both in the north and south of Ireland, that it would be very inexpedient, without a large sprinkling of English regiments, to assemble a large number of Irish militia at the Curragh. In support of this conviction, he would relate a circumstance which happened to himself a short time ago. He was conversing with some gentlemen from his own county in the public coffee-room of an inn in the south of Ireland whilst two northern gentlemen were sitting at breakfast. A hope was expressed that if the militia was to be sent to the Curragh, a considerable leaven of English regiments would be placed between the northern and southern regiments. Some one observed, he thought that the southern militia would be great fools if they agreed to it, for if they did the English militia would take part with the northern regiments if a quarrel broke out, and the southern ones would stand no chance. One of the northern gentlemen jumped up with a very fierce air, and said, "Why, sir, the northern would not require one of them." The gentleman looked so fierce, that if he had been of a quarrelsome disposition, there would have been a very pretty quarrel ready made to his hands.


said, if he correctly understood the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. H. Baillie), he suggested that Government, to make up the proper force of the militia, should have recourse to the ballot. His hon. Friend (Mr. F. Peel) had replied that Government did not think that they had as yet exhausted all the means of voluntary enlistment, and in confirmation of that statement he (Sir G. Grey) would read a paper which his hon. Friend had just sent for. In this paper it appeared that within the last month no less than 5,412 men had been added to the ranks of the militia, including 500 who had availed themselves of the permission given in the circular, but who had since returned and had been reattested. The whole number discharged under the circular which had been sent out from the War Office was 8,336. The deficiency, therefore, was in great measure supplied by the number which had since joined. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. Baillie) also suggested a separate militia staff to ensure its efficiency. Now, the embodied militia formed a part of the military force of the country within the United Kingdom, and were subject to the military authorities, and did not require a separate establishment. With respect to the charges brought against the War Office by the hon. and gallant Member for Marlow (Colonel Knox) he need not say a word. They had had the testimony borne from several quarters totally unconnected with Government with respect to the attention given by the War Office to the communications of militia officers. Before the business of the militia was transferred from the Home Office to the War Office he had received various communications complaining of the great inconvenience as well as injury done to the discipline of the men by keeping them in billets. He had entirely concurred in that opinion, and when the business of the Militia Department was transferred to the War Office, he had pointed out the importance of meeting the wishes of the officers, and of providing barrack accommodation to the fullest extent. The only reason for billeting the men was the want of barracks. He might inform the House that several regiments not yet embodied would have been embodied but for the difficulty of finding barrack accommodation. At the present moment there were in the United Kingdom 42,381 militiamen, but only 25,000 were under arms. With respect to the remarks of the noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Granby), he might say that every facility had been given for the reattestation of the men, and that nearly 500 men had been restored to the ranks after having left them. With respect to the foreign enlistment, the question raised by the hon. Member below the gangway (Mr. Otway) was totally opposite to the charge brought by the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), who said that Government were not doing enough to obtain recruits for the Foreign Legion. He thought that the difficulty had been over and over again explained. The ardour exhibited throughout the Continent to join the cause of the allied powers in the present war, which had led Her Majesty's Government to form an expectation that there would be no difficulty in raising a Foreign Legion, was much damped and checked by the tone of the debates which had taken place in Parliament, and by the discredit which was then thrown upon what were termed mercenary corps. In addition to this, the refusal of the House of Commons to allow half-pay to officers had presented great obstacles to Government, and had induced many who had made offers to form corps for the Foreign Legion to withdraw them. The Government had formed a depôt at Heligoland, so that any foreigners who chose to enlist could come there without any violation of the laws of any foreign country, and they would find there the means of being attested.


said, he wished to ask if the right hon. Baronet had heard of a rumour that a large number of Germans were expected to arrive to-morrow unexpectedly.


said, he had not heard the rumour, but Her Majesty's Government would be very happy to receive them, if they were recruits for the Foreign Legion.