HC Deb 04 August 1866 vol 184 cc2054-5

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether, in future, the Bill of the Mutiny Act will, in the usual way, be printed for a proper and reasonable time before it is read a second time; and whether, in the 18th section of the Articles of War, under head of Duties and Liabilities, the time for which an officer can be detained under arrest, without being brought before a Court Martial, has been altered from "eight days" in former Articles of War to "within a reasonable time" in those of this year, without any notice of this change having been previously made to this House or to the Army?


said, in reply, that the usual course had been pursued in regard to the Mutiny Act. It was not printed by order of the House. Some forty or fifty copies were sent from the War Office to the Vote Office for the use of any Members who might wish to have them, but there was no use in going to the expense of printing the Act when no alteration was made in it. The best course would, he thought, be, when the Mutiny Bill was laid before the House, to prepare a paper pointing out any alterations that might have been made in the Bill, and this paper might be printed and distributed with the Votes. It was true that an alteration had been made in the 18th section of the Articles of War, the words "eight days" having been left out. It formerly stated that an officer should be brought before a court martial "within eight days, or a reasonable time." It was sometimes found impossible, however, to decide within eight days whether an officer should be brought to a court martial, and the words now were "within a reasonable time." The 74th Article of War, which also referred to this subject, stated that any person who unnecessarily detained any prisoner in confinement without bringing him to trial should himself be subject to a court martial and to be punished. The alteration in the 18th section was introduced by the late Judge Advocate a very short time before the Mutiny Bill was brought in. With respect to no notice of the change having been given, he had to state that the Articles of War were not communicated either to that House or to the army. Her Majesty had authority to frame Articles of War, which were submitted by the Secretary of State for War to the Judges, and they then became the law of the land. Due notice should be given of any alteration in the manner he had suggested.


gave notice that next Session, upon the introduction of the Mutiny Bill, he would move that, in order to prevent in future alterations of the Articles of War in important points without the knowledge of that House or of the army, it was expedient that the Articles should be added as a schedule to the Mutiny Bill, and should go through the same legislative proceedings.