HC Deb 15 July 1856 vol 143 cc860-2

Order for Committee read.


said, he thought the conduct of the Government in respect to this Bill was not wise. He wished to have the causes of the collision between the troops and militia at Nenagh explained by some Member of Her Majesty's Government. He disapproved entirely of the way the disembodiment of the militia had been carried out in Ireland, as the contradictory plan adopted was calculated to produce just discontent. No fewer than three orders on the subject had already been issued from the War Department. [Mr. F. PEEL: No!] The hon. Gentleman said No, but he maintained that the War Department was responsible. Some of the men who had been disembodied had been obliged to sell their boots for subsistence. He had received a letter from a magistrate who had been wounded at Nenagh—this magistrate had gone with the troops to suppress the mutiny—and he said the cause of the outbreak was obvious, namely, the bad treatment of the Irish militia, compared with the treatment the English militia and the German Legion received. He therefore hoped the Government would lay the letters written by Sir James Chatterton to the War Department on the table of the House. He had himself no doubt that the cause of the outbreak was the vacillation of the War Department, and its reluctance to do justice, a course of proceeding calculated to injure the military spirit developing itself in Ireland. But the Irish soldiers and Irish regiments were never fairly treated. He believed, as he had just stated, that the Department of War was the main cause of what had occurred at Nenagh, for had a little humanity and a little common sense been exercised, the disturbances and discontent that arose would have been avoided.


said, he was not satisfied with the answer received some time ago on the subject of billeting militia in Scotland. He understood that the intention of the Government was to assimilate the law upon the subject between England and Scotland, and billet the soldiers on public-houses instead of the inhabitants. He thought such remedy even worse than the disease. It would be most lamentable to place the soldiers nearer to the whiskey store than they were at present, and the Government would do well to abolish billeting altogether.


said, it would be premature to express any opinion as to the efficiency of the militia. He had already spoken twice on the subject of the occurrences at Nenagh, and had nothing further to add to his remarks while an inquiry was pending. He could not agree in the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Dunne) as to the orders from the War Department having produced those occurrences; and with respect to the impression that any difference in treatment or difference in gratuity was to take place, an order was issued promptly which stated that a perfect equality was to be practised.


said, he wished to point out the necessity of paying attention to the efficiency of the militia staff. The short time to be allowed for practice would hardly keep those parties in a proper state of efficiency. He did not think the answer of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. Peel) was satisfactory in reference to the statement of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portarlington. It was too true that the disembodied men were left in a perfect state of destitution, and the officers could give them no satisfactory solution of their embarrassment. That was a plain statement and explanation of the Nenagh case, and he would add, though other militia regiments in Ireland had been treated quite as badly, they had shown no disposition to disorder.


said, nothing could be more injurious to the interests of the country than to treat the Irish militia regiments as they had been treated. He wanted to know what steps would be taken to give justice to the Irish militiamen, and to pay them their 14s.? The occurrences at Nenagh were solely attributable to the miserable blundering of Government.


said, he took the same view of the case as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. Peel), for he felt satisfied no order was given inconsiderately by the War Department. He should, however, be glad to hear how the hon. Gentleman explained the way that the Irish militiamen, with 5d. in their pockets, were to travel home, and to travel back to some place to get their 14s. That, surely, was not a proper system to adopt?


said, the greatest discontent existed in every Irish militia regiment, in consequence of the way they had been treated and their expectations disappointed. He would beg to ask the hon. Gentleman to consider whether a larger amount of barrack accommodation could not be afforded in Ireland?

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3. (Adjutants, Quartermasters, and Non-Commissioned Officers of Militia, may be employed in their counties.)


said, he should move that the clause be rejected.

Question put, "That the clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 44: Majority 18.

Clause agreed to. Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported, as amended.