HC Deb 01 April 1867 vol 186 cc912-34

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

New Clause 22.

(Every soldier shall upon enlistment be placed in the First Class of the Army, and no soldier in such class shall, in time of peace, be sentenced to the corporal punishment of flogging; every soldier in the First Class, for the commission of certain offences, to be specified from time to time in the Articles of War, be degraded to the Second Class of the Army, and every soldier in the Second Class shall be liable to be sentenced by Court Martial to corporal punishment not exceeding fifty lashes for the following offences, viz. mutiny, insubordination accompanied with personal violence or disgraceful conduct of an indecent kind; every soldier, when serving with a military force in the field or on board ship, shall be liable to a like punishment by Court Martial for any of the offences before enumerated, or for desertion, drunkenness on duty or on the line of march, misbehaviour, or neglect of duty.)

Question again proposed, "That the word 'may' be there inserted."


said, he wished to ask the Chairman what was the exact position in which the Committee were placed with regard to this clause. As far as he understood the matter, the first two lines of the clause were agreed to on Thursday evening, when an Amendment was moved to substitute the word "may" for the word "shall" in the third line of the clause. It was now proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for War to substitute another clause for the clause under the consideration of the Committee. He wished to ask the Chairman of the Committee whether, on the present occasion, the Committee could consider any other clause than the one before them?


The question which is before the Committee is whether, in the third line of the proposed new clause, the word "may" shall be inserted.


The hon. Member is quite accurate in the description he has given as to the position at which the Committee has arrived with reference to this clause. I take this opportunity of expressing my hope that the Committee will allow the whole of this clause to be omitted, and that they will permit me to substitute in its place the clause of which I have given notice. If the Committee will indulge me for a short time I will endeavour in a few words to explain my reasons for making this proposal. In the first place, I have to state that in consequence of misapprehensions that occurred on Thursday night, I have found it very difficult so to alter the clause now before us as to make it accord with the alterations which I consented to make on Thursday night. Therefore, I thought that the better and more simple course would be to move to omit the clause before us, and to bring up a new clause in its place. The position in which we stand is this. On Thursday evening a decision was taken on the principle which is common to both these clauses—that principle being that whatever alteration the Committee might make the punishment of flogging should not be altogether abandoned in the army. The decision of the House was in favour of that principle by a very large majority in a full House. It then became a question what arrangement could be made consistently with the concession that the Government desired to make in order to carry out the decision of the House. It is perfectly true that I had expressed my willingness to exempt altogether from corporal punishment soldiers of the first class, and it is equally true that I had also intended to exempt soldiers in the second class from liability to corporal punishment except for three descriptions of offences; but, after listening to the debate on Thursday evening, I could not help seeing that there was a very strong feeling on both sides of the House against retaining the punishment of flogging for the third offence, and therefore I felt that it was my duty to defer to that feel- ing. The result of this decision is, that in the clause I have drawn up the punishment of flogging will be restricted to the offences of mutiny and insubordination accompanied with personal violence. I must further say that I could not be insensible to the opinions which were expressed by hon. Gentlemen sitting on both sides of the House—opinions which were entitled to great weight—that it was not desirable that with regard to these two grave offences any classification should exempt the soldier who was guilty of them from corporal punishment. The clause I ask the Committee to insert, therefore, extends the punishment of flogging for offences of this description to all soldiers in the army without distinction of class. I must remind the Committee that this is not in any way a party question; and therefore I trust that the clause will be supported by a large majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House. For my own part, I conceive it to be my duty to endeavour to carry out to the best of my ability the view on this subject which the House may take. Under these circumstances the Committee will, I trust, adopt the clause, about the latter portion of which, as it relates to the army when engaged in active service and is not a new regulation, I need not detain the Committee.


said, after the disposition shown by the right hon. Gentleman he would make an appeal to his hon. Friend the Member for Chatham to rest and be thankful for this year, and not to press his views further than the Committee had arrived at on Thursday evening, partitularly as they would bear in mind that the Mutiny Act was renewed yearly. At present the matter stood thus—that all soldiers upon entering the army were placed in the first class, and were not while in that class subject to the punishment of flogging. That question was put and carried on Thursday evening. He was therefore surprised to find that the right hon. Gentleman now proposed to negative the whole of that clause, and to insert this new clause, leaving out altogether the important concession which he himself had formerly granted. He was sorry to think that somebody with more knowledge of military matters than the right hon. Gentleman had obtained an influence over him on this question, and that circumstance, no doubt, had induced the right hon. Gentleman to propose the withdrawal of the clause; but he (Captain Vivian) should oppose the withdrawal of it, because he thought it would be a step back wards instead of forwards. He would therefore suggest that the right hon. Gentleman's new clause should be added to the clause under discussion, immediately after that part of it which referred to the classification of soldiers.


said, he understood that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Truro now proposed to give up the concession made by the right hon. Baronet. ["No, no!"] He hoped that the Committee would stand by the clause now under discussion, and not substitute any other for it. By the new clause every soldier would be liable to be flogged for the two offences named; but the Committee had decided that all soldiers in the first class should not be flogged at all. He thought they were going to give up the concession made by the right hon. Baronet, and that he deprecated.


adverted to the Queen's regulations, and maintained that soldiers in the first class could be flogged for aggravated mutiny, and therefore this clause in the Mutiny Bill was not necessary; besides which all men entering the army could not but be placed in the first class. The only question was whether they should retain the punishment of flogging for mutiny and insubordination. Flogging might be necessary in the field or in other emergency, when there might not be means of inflicting other punishment; but at any other time there was no necessity for it. At the same time, he thought the present clause was a great improvement on that which was presented the other night, inasmuch as it was grammatical, and it was logical, and brought straight before them the retention of the punishment for only two offences, these two offences amounting practically to but one offence. Up to the year 1859, there were twenty-four offences for which flogging was inflicted; but after the revision which was made by Lord Herbert, flogging was retained only in eleven out of the twenty-four. By this clause they abolished nine out of these eleven offences, which, as he had said, left practically only one cause of punishment. The point which was required by the hon. and gallant Member for Truro (Captain Vivian) was already provided for by the Queen's regulations, and was not necessary to be inserted in the Mutiny Act.


said, he thought the hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Major Jervis) had rather misapprehended the bearing and effect of the proposed alteration. By the Queen's regulations no man in the first class could be flogged except for mutiny and aggravated insubordination. The proposal offered by the Government the other night would have given him absolute exemption from that punishment; but it was urged by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House that there would thus be no means of punishing first-class men at all, and that if flogging was necessary for such serious offences in the case of second-class men, it was equally necessary in the case of the first-class. It was also urged that if the punishment were retained for mutiny, and for insubordination accompanied by personal violence, no faith would be broken with the first-class men, seeing that they were already liable to it for aggravated and mutinous conduct, which was tantamount to the two offences it was now proposed to reserve. The Government, therefore, wished to meet what appeared to be the feeling of the House, and the new clause suggested by his right hon. Friend had been framed with that object.


said, he understood the state of the question to be this—that whereas some years ago regulations were adopted by which first-class men were exempted from corporal punishment, except for mutiny and insubordination, it was alleged in the debate on the Motion of the hon. Member for Chatham, and was, he believed, not denied, that notwithstanding these regulations, first-class men had been flogged in some instances for minor offences. In order to correct this, he understood the right hon. Baronet opposite to say that he would place the exemption in the Act of Parliament, so that the benefit might be secured to the soldier by the authority of the Legislature instead of depending on regulations. He did not, however, understand that, corporal punishment being retained, it was in contemplation to exempt the first-class men from flogging for the two offences for which its retention was declared necessary. When, therefore, on Thursday night corporal punishment was affirmed to be necessary for the summary repression of mutiny and insubordination, it struck him as preposterous to propose that 91 per cent of the army should for these two offences be exempted from it. If, for example, a mutiny were to break out, the leaders, if in the first class, could not be so punished, although they might be the most guilty. The right hon. Baronet, on seeing what would be the effect of the concession he had proposed, admitted that it was open to objection, and consequently agreed to the retention of corporal punishment for mutiny and insubordination, for which, if it was necessary at all, it was certainly required for all alike. He should be very glad when the time arrived for altogether dispensing with flogging; but he was not prepared to take the responsibility of saying that it had yet arrived, and that it was unnecessary to retain it for the two most serious offences, the prompt repression of which was indispensable. He agreed with the hon. and gallant Member (Major Jervis) that the new clause proposed by the right hon. Baronet was far better than that which he originally proposed, and the best course would be to negative the original clause and proceed to the consideration of the new one.


said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman misapprehended the intention of the Amendment. It was clearly not that soldiers of the first class should be degraded to the second and then flogged. He wished, however, to go to the wider question. It seemed to him that they had entered on quite a new phase of the question; for ever since it had been agitated it was the House of Commons, backed by public opinion, that had sought for concessions on behalf of the army. The other night they learned that the Commander-in-Chief thought that the first class could do without corporal punishment; but now the House of Commons said they could not do without it. The Secretary for War had taken the advice of the Commander-in-Chief, the Adjutant General, and other high military authorities, and they authorized him to come down to the House to make what he (Mr. Whitbread) admitted was a great concession. He was not prepared, as a Member of that House, to force upon the Secretary for War and the Commander-in-Chief a policy which they had announced would be useless. If the right hon. Gentleman carried his clause as it now stood, abolishing the classes as regarded corporal punishment, he might depend upon it the matter would not rest there. He trusted that the House would negative the clause.


said, he had on the last evening given his vote for Government under the impression that the clause provided that no soldier in the first class should be flogged; but the clause now under consideration admitted of the interpretation, whatever its real purport was, that for any offence committed by a soldier in the first class he should be degraded to the second; and in the second, for his next offence he should be liable to punishment. His own feeling was against personal punishment; and he believed a great number of votes were given the other night under the impression that there was to be a considerable reduction in the amount of punishment. The present proposal went exactly in an opposite direction; and certainly if it went to a division he should vote against having the first-class men liable to the punishment.


reminded the Committee that by the 15th clause of the Mutiny Act, which had already been agreed to, the penalty of death was imposed for mutiny or aggravated insubordination; no distinction being made between the first and second classes. If therefore that penalty was not inflicted, and corporal punishment were abolished for first-class men, what was to be the substitute? Mutiny and insubordination were obviously more aggravated offences in the case of first than of second-class men; because all the sergeants, corporals, and non-commissioned officers were naturally in the former class; and if the extreme penalty were not inflicted, the next most severe punishment ought surely to be enforced. If flogging were retained at all, it ought to be retained for the first class as well as for the second.


reminded the right hon. and gallant Member that although the 15th clause did say that mutiny should be punished with death, yet the 16th clause provided for the commutation of that penalty to penal servitude or any other punishment. The question before them might be put in the smallest possible compass. The House had affirmed a Resolution abolishing corporal punishment. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War consulted the military authorities, and with their consent, almost at their suggestion, he came down with a new clause for the Mutiny Act, which made a great concession—namely, that corporal punishment was to be abolished in favour of 91 per cent of the army, leaving only 9 per cent still liable. The right hon. Gentleman said, "I offer this concession that corporal punishment shall be entirely abolished in the case of the first class, thus exempting all good conduct men." Upon that question the House divided; and hon. Members now said they should not have voted with the Government had they not conceived that all good conduct men were to be exempt from corporal punishment. So the matter stood until it came to Committee, and then the late Judge Advocate, to his (Mr. Horsman's) great surprise, persuaded Her Majesty's Government to abandon the distinction, and to apply the lash indifferently to the good and bad conduct men. He (Mr. Horsman) objected to withdrawing the concession; and he felt much indebted, and the House felt much indebted, to the hon. Member for Bedford for the way in which he had stated the question. He hoped that the Government would abide by their concession, which every one felt had done them so much credit. He hoped that the good conduct men of the army would still be exempt from corporal punishment.


said, he believed he was the first Member who inquired on Thursday night whether it was intended to exempt first-class men from flogging—no matter what offences they might commit. The clause now proposed by the right hon. Baronet was, on the whole, a very fair one; but he should like to have a clear definition of the term "insubordination accompanied by personal violence." He should like to know whether these words meant simply the striking of an officer, or whether they included the offence of refusing to obey orders. He hoped his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War would give the House a decided answer to that question. The right hon. Member for Stroud quoted on Thursday cases in which men had been repeatedly flogged, arguing therefrom that the punishment was ineffectual. It should, however, be borne in mind that those were cases in which men had over and over again sold their kits: an offence for which "marking" was not sanctioned by military law. If therefore such men were discharged as had been suggested, there would be nothing to hinder their joining another regiment and repeating the offence. He held that if a man deserted his regiment and went off and joined some other, thus robbing the public by receiving a new bounty, such a man should be made a severe example of. Discharge, moreover, must not be made too easy, or soldiers would commit offences on purpose to obtain it. The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned the number of lashes and the term of imprisonment which had in certain instances been inflicted, and that statement had been reported in the leading journal, and had been circulated all over Europe; yet he suggested no substitute for those punishments, but simply recommended that bad characters should be discharged. Would he approve, however, of branding them? It was surely necessary that blackguards who were discharged from the service should be marked in some way in order to prevent their enlisting again. There are as many Gentlemen on the other side of the House as on his own who have sons, or nephews, or other relations in the army, and therefore this question was as important to the one side as to the other; and it was most desirable that proper regulations should be agreed upon. It was all very well to talk about punishing offenders by imprisonment. There was this difference between the imprisonment of a soldier and of a civilian—that in the former case the performance of his duties devolved upon his comrades. It had been stated the other night that for many years no man had been flogged in the 7th Hussars. ["No, no!"] A Return before the House showed that statement to be incorrect. It had also been erroneously said that there was no flogging in the Guards. He did not himself believe that flogging could be entirely done away with; and he thought the proposal of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for War was well worthy the consideration of the House.


said, he thought that it was quite unnecessary to follow the hon. and gallant Member into details which had been so often discussed; but he would remind him that the statement as to there having been no flogging for some years had reference to the 14th, and not the 7th Hussars. His object in rising was to call the attention of the Committee to two important considerations that should not be lost sight of during the discussion; and the first was the very serious imputation which would be cast upon the House of Commons if they did not maintain the concession which was granted by the Government the other night. What would be said by the country if when a Minister of the Crown announced, after consultation with the military authorities, that he had determined to make a certain concession, the House of Commons forced him by their action to withdraw that concession? There then came this further consideration. The right hon. Gentleman's majority was largely augmented by his statement that they were about to make very important concessions; and with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman he must say that it would be a breach of faith if, after the division, the right hon. Gentleman, on the mere intimation of the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey), should withdraw the concession that he had made with such a flourish of trumpets, and they should be placed in a worse position as to flogging than they were in some time ago. This subject was never discussed without some light being thrown on it, and some new inconsistency developed; and an instance was to be found in the observations of the right hon. and gallant General that night. They had always been told that it was necessary to have corporal punishment, especially in reference to ill-conditioned privates assaulting non-commissioned officers. The clause, however, as it was now proposed that it should stand, would be not for the protection of non-commissioned officers, but it would inflict a hardship upon them, for these non-commissioned officers would be in the first class, and might be flogged if they misconducted themselves. He was opposed altogether to corporal punishment in the army in time of peace, believing that it might be safely dispensed with; but if the Secretary for War would accede to a proposition which would enable recruiting officers to tell recruits that they could not be flogged until by misconduct they had caused themselves to be degraded into the second class it would have, in his opinion, a very beneficial effect upon recruiting. He hoped the Government would consent to let the matter stand in this position.


said, he thought that it was desirable that a few facts should be known to the Committee before they came to a decision upon the question before them. It had been asserted that recruiting was impeded because men were afraid of the lash, and, on the other hand, he himself had said that recruiting was impeded because time pay was insufficient. He had obtained an official document, duly signed and authenticated, to show the results of recruiting for the years 1865 and 1866, and the figures would conclusively establish the fact that the lash had no effect in deterring men from entering the army. In the first quarter of 1865, 4,167 men were enlisted, and in the corresponding quarter of 1866 the number was only 3,547; and in the June quarter 3,250 were enlisted in 1865, and over 3,273 in 1866. But in the September quarter of 1866, when it had become known that the Commission was about to propose certain recommendations, the number rose to 4,108 against 3,408 in the corresponding quarter of the previous year, and in the following quarter the figures were 4,269 in 1866 against 3,605 in 1865. In the last eleven weeks the returns from the recruiting establishments gave the unprecedented number of 3,832 enlisted, which was at the rate of 4,578 for the quarter. But the case of the Royal Marines was still stronger, The strength of this corps was 16,400, and they had never had the slightest difficulty in keeping up their numbers; they had for several years never been more than fifty below their number, though fifteen men per mouth were allowed to purchase their discharge. Now in the Marines corporal punishment was more frequent than in any other branch of the army, and when the men were enlisted the provisions under which they were to serve were read to them, yet there was this remarkable fact, that there was no recorded instance of any recruit for the Marines refusing to enlist upon the ground of corporal punishment. If the lash only deterred men who were likely to commit aggravated mutiny from entering the army, it was well for the service that it existed. Experience and experiment both confirmed his view, for when, in 1832, Sir Henry Bouverie commanded in the northern district he ordered that under no consideration should the men in his district be flogged, and the result was that several regiments got into a terrible condition. It ended in one regiment getting into a state of mutiny; it was hurried off to Dublin, and it had not been there a week before a man stepped from the ranks, shook his fist, in his colonel's face, and said, "You cannot flog me." The man, however, was tried and afterwards flogged; and the bad spirit ceased, as if by magic, and there was no trouble from that moment, He had a letter from an officer who commanded the 78th for five years, and he said that he had had only one man flogged, though others had been sentenced by courts martial to be flogged, but he considered that the state of discipline permitted him to remit that punishment; but at length the discipline got into so bad a state that he was bound to have a man flogged. Re- ference had been made to foreign armies, and he wished to say that in the Prussian army soldiers were beaten with a cane, and there was far greater power than in our army intrusted to young officers as to ordering the punishment. He had a letter from an English officer who had been a good deal in France, and he said that in 1855 in the French army 140 men were sentenced to death, and in eighty-two instances the punishment was carried into effect. Four years ago a young French soldier, who formed one of a fatigue party under a corporal, being drunk sat down and refused to move further, and struck the corporal repeated blows in the face. For this he was sentenced to death, and the sentence was carried out. He believed that they must have corporal punishment, as it was necessary to the maintenance of discipline, and he hoped that the House would not hastily abolish it, and thus place officers who were responsible for the discipline of the army in a very difficult and unfair position. He was sure that officers who were intrusted with the power to flog would exercise it with the greatest care and consideration; and that a commanding officer could have no greater pleasure than to know that for a number of years he had maintained proper discipline without having recourse to the lash.


said, he hoped the House would not be led away by feeling and sentiment, for the question before them was one of vital importance. The question was whether they were to have an army with discipline or an army without discipline. If discipline were not maintained an army was more terrible to its friends than to its foes. When a man joined the army he bound himself to obey the commands of his officers. These might be men whom he did not respect, and their orders might be such as he might consider unwise; but it was of the most absolute necessity that these orders should be implicitly obeyed. The question, then, was what punishment should be inflicted for insubordinate and mutinous conduct. In every army there was the power of inflicting the punishment of death for mutiny and violent insubordination; but the question now was what should be the punishment for secondary offences. His hon. Friend maintained that it was not necessary to retain flogging as the secondary punishment, because there was already the power of inflicting penal servitude. But it was obvious that penal servitude, unlike flogging, could not be applied at the very nick of time. What was wanted was a punishment that could be inflicted just at the moment when the spirit of insubordination and mutiny was rising. Under such circumstances, it was obviously useless to tell men that if they went on in that course they would render themselves liable to penal servitude. The experience of all armies had told them that there must be a summary punishment, applicable to extreme cases, and that without it an army would become demoralized and useless, if not dangerous, as a military force.


said, he rose to express the hope which had been already expressed in the course of the debate, that the punishment of the lash would soon be abolished altogether. This discussion seemed rather retrograde, for they were discussing whether certain classes of the soldiers should be exempted from such punishment, while they knew quite well that in other countries and other times whole armies had been exempted from corporal punishment without any danger to the State. But he would not have attempted to take part in this discussion if he had not observed that the minds of military men were divided on the subject. The question at issue was not whether the country should have an army with discipline or without discipline, but whether discipline could be maintained without corporal punishment, and where history was concerned one man could mention a fact almost as well as another. Under these circumstances, he thought they might advantageously refer to a work which had lately appeared, and which had received considerable attention; it was the Life of Julius Cæsar, by the Emperor of the French. In the preliminary survey of Roman history, the Emperor, referring to the condition of the Roman soldier after the Punic wars, said— The allies were always in a state of inferiority. Their contingents, more considerable than those of the metropolis, received but half their pay; and they were subjected to corporal punishments, from which the soldiers of the legions were exempted. They knew what the Roman army then was; it had destroyed Carthage, and it had conquered one of the greatest generals of any age or country. If the Roman soldier could march to victory while exempted from corporal punishment, why not the British soldier also? Was he less amenable to discipline and order? Hon. Gentlemen doubtless remembered the description of Cromwell's army in the late Lord Macaulay's History of England, he said— In that singular camp no oath was heard, no drunkenness or gambling was seen, and during the long dominion of the soldiery the property of the peaceable citizen and the honour of woman were held sacred. Not an ounce of plate was taken from the shops of the goldsmiths; no servant girl complained of the rough gallantry of the redcoats. The historian then went on to describe their military achievements on the Continent, of which their country might well be proud. It might, perhaps, be said that the times were different now. Certainly they were different in one respect, and he admitted it, for the benefit of military men who were anxious for the welfare of their soldiers. The pay of the soldier was then double that of the common labourer, while the pay of the labourer was at the present day far more than double that of the soldier. But they could appeal to higher and nobler motives. They could improve the condition of the soldier, they could discharge bad characters from the army, and by raising the men in their own opinion and making them proud of their profession and influencing them by love of country, they would be able to abolish the lash.


said, he would not enter now upon the subject of corporal punishment, although it was one on which he entertained a very strong opinion. The real question before them was a very serious one; it was whether the House would support the right hon. Baronet opposite in making his concession, or whether they would compel hint to retract it. It had been argued that recruiting was carried on under great difficulties, because every man who enlisted was liable to be flogged; and he believed the right hon. Baronet himself had acknowledged that such was the result of the existing system. At all events, it was extremely important that they should have a good and plentiful supply of men for the army, and he believed that this supply would be seriously affected if the concession which had been made were retracted. It was now proposed that every recruit should be liable to be flogged instead of soldiers in the second class being alone liable, and this proposition, it carried out, would render it wore difficult to get men of good character to enter the army, as recruits would then think that the House of Commons and the War Department to- gether intended to keep them all liable to the lash.


said, he thought it would be more convenient to take the opinion of the Committee on the clause first proposed by the right hon. Baronet, and if that were negatived, the right hon. Baronet could then bring forward his second proposition. The question that should be put now was whether the word "may" should remain in the clause.

Question put, and agreed to.


suggested an Amendment of the clause to the effect that "upon conviction of certain offences by court martial," instead of "for the commission of certain offences," a soldier of the first class might be degraded.

Amendment agreed to.


proposed the omission of the last part of the clause, and the substitution of the words:— Any court martial may sentence any soldier in the second class to corporal punishment for mutiny or insubordination, accompanied with personal violence, of which he may be guilty while in such class, with the addition of the following words from the new clause, of which notice had been given by Sir John Pakington:— And, save as aforesaid, and as hereinafter mentioned, no court martial shall have power to sentence any soldier to corporal punishment; provided that any court martial may sentence any soldier to corporal punishment, while in active service in the field, or on board any ship not in commission, for mutiny, insubordination, desertion, drunkenness on duty, or on the line of march, disgraceful conduct, or any breach of the Articles of War, and no sentence of corporal punishment shall exceed fifty lashes.

Amendments agreed to.

On Question, "That the clause, as amended, be added to the Bill,"


said, he thought, from the tone of the discussion, it might be supposed that he was making no concession, whereas in point of fact his proposal went to the extent of abolishing corporal punishment for eight or nine offences which under the existing law were liable to it, and thus leaving that punishment applicable solely to mutiny and insubordination accompained with personal violence. He was also taunted with having acted under the influence of military authorities. It was true that the highest military authorities had pronounced a strong opinion upon the question as it had been recently discussed in the House of Commons. But while the Government desired, as far as it was possible, to give effect to the strong opinion expressed by the House of Commons, by acceding to the proposition of limiting the punishment of flogging to those offences he had referred to, it was with great reluctance that they consented to abolish it for mutiny. He himself expressed doubts on Friday night, and he now desired to take upon himself the responsibility of so far retracing his steps as to express his conviction that, after the sentiments expressed on both sides of the House, it would be far more prudent to leave the crime of mutiny to be visited with corporal punishment. An hon. Gentleman had asserted that he was thus placing the soldier in the first class in a worse position than he was at present. That was not the fact, for the soldier in the first class was now liable to be flogged for either of those offences, and he merely left him as he then was.


spoke amid loud cries for a division. He was understood to say that he gave full credit to the Secretary for War for the disposition he had shown to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House, and he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had been induced to withdraw the concession he had made. For his part, he objected to men of the first class being liable to corporal punishment for isolated of insubordination.

Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, be added to the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 162; Noes 175: Majority 13.


then proposed the following clause, which was read a first and second time:— Any court martial may sentence any soldier to corporal punishment for mutiny, or for insubordination accompanied with personal violence; and, save as aforesaid and as hereinafter mentioned, no court martial shall have power to sentence any soldier to corporal punishment. Provided, that any court martial may sentence any soldier to corporal punishment while on active service in the field or on board any ship not in commission, for mutiny insubordination, desertion, drunkenness on duty or on the line of march, disgraceful conduct, or any breach of the Articles of War; and no sentence of corporal punishment shall exceed fifty lashes.


said, that this clause also involved the question of corporal punishment; but after the division which had just taken place, he thought it useless to waste the time of the Committee by dividing. He must, however, enter his protest against the clause; and he would tell the right hon. Baronet that by the course he had pursued he would have brought upon himself the implacable hostility with which hon. Gentlemen opposed to flogging would pursue him in reference to this question. He (Mr. Otway) would certainly deem it his duty to do all he could to put an end to this most barbarous and disgraceful punishment. [Ironical cheers.] When hon. Gentlemen opposite taunted him with those cheers, he would remind them of the declarations that had been repeatedly made throughout the discussions upon this measure, that it ought not to be considered a party question. But who, he asked, had made it a party question? It was made so by the whips on the Government side who, from remote parts of England and Scotland, brought up Members to support their proposition. The right hon. Baronet had chosen to recall the concessions he had deliberately made to the House of Commons upon this question. The conduct of the right hon. Gentleman would not be forgotten next year, when efforts he (Mr. Otway) hoped of a more successful character would be again made to abolish this system of flogging in the army. So satisfied was he of the justice of the alteration for which he and his friends contended that he would lose no opportunity of urging the abolition of corporal punishment.


said, that the right hon. Baronet, after having stated to the House that with the concurrence of the military authorities he had exempted 153,000 British soldiers in the first class from corporal punishment, leaving only 17,000 exposed to it, had now deliberately withdrawn this exemption. He hoped this would go forth to the country, and the right hon. Gentleman must be held entirely responsible before the country for this proceeding.


I also express a hope that it will go forth to the country as the hon. Gentleman desires, and I also hope it will go forth at the same time that it has been my good fortune to propose the relief of many thousands of our soldiers from ten or eleven offences which were punishable by corporal punishment.


said, that this was the last question on which any party feeling ought to exist, and he could not therefore concur in what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chatham; but he thought his hon. Friend might sincerely congratulate himself—looking at the great alteration made in the Mutiny Act this year—upon having been the means of diminishing to a large extent corporal punishment in the army.


said, he could assure the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chatham that party politics had not guided him (Major Jervis) in the course he had taken with reference to this subject, and he asked the hon. Gentleman to drop all ascerbity of feeling, and be satisfied with what he had achieved. The position of the first-class soldier was the same now as it was before-namely, that he could not be flogged except for mutiny or insubordination, whilst the second-class soldier had been relieved from corporal punishment for desertion, drunkenness whilst on duty, or on the line of march, embezzlement of public monies, stealing from a comrade, theft, making away with necessaries, and other offences. In all he had been relieved from corporal punishment in eleven cases, and besides that, arrangements had been made by which the incorrigible blackguard could be got rid of without his being returned to his regiment.


said, he believed that the army at present could not be governed except by the lash; but it depended upon that House whether the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War should be enabled to do without it. When, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman in some future year should propose measures with the view of abolishing the lash, and should say that it would cost money, let not hon. Gentlemen who talked against flogging say "No!" The strong feeling which had been manifested in the House against flogging would enable the right hon. Gentleman to bring forward such measures, and he felt sure there was no one more desirous than the right hon. Gentleman to free the country and the army from the disgrace of the lash. No one entertained a stronger feeling against the lash than he did, and he rejoiced at the spirit which the House had manifested. But did they suppose that in foreign armies the punishments were not as severe? In the French army, out of 123 military offences, no loss than forty-three were punishable with death. An American general was under the gallery the other night during the debate on the subject, and when asked what punishments they had got in the American army in place of flogging, he replied that though flogging was against the "Articles of War," they flogged the bad characters after all.


said, he was bound to admit that both the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War and the military authorities had shown every disposition to meet the wishes of hon. Members on that occasion. The question came upon the Government very suddenly, and they knew it was one on which the military authorities felt very strongly, and he must say that they had conceded far more than could have been expected under the circumstances. He could not, however, refrain from expressing his surprise that when that concession had been made by the right hon. Gentleman, and when it would have passed the House without opposition, difficulties should have been raised, not from that (the Ministerial) side of the House, but by right hon. Gentlemen who sat on the front Opposition Benches. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman not only for the concession he had made, but also for the manner in which it had been made, as showing that the military authorities were willing even to concede more. The manner and spirit in which the Resolution had been met confirmed the opinion he expressed the other night that this was the last time they would see corporal punishment continued by a clause in the Mutiny Act for infliction in time of peace. He wished to correct an error referred to by his gallant Friend, relative to what he (Mr. Horsman) stated the other night as to the number of lashes inflicted. He did not intend to represent the large number of lashes given, but the number of days the offenders were committed to hard labour; because he knew at the time that not more than fifty lashes could be given at one time. In the first case to which he referred he stated that the man had fifty lashes and 250 days' hard labour; in the second, fifty lashes had been inflicted on three separate occasions and 434 days' hard labour.


said, he was anxious to mention to the Committee a circumstance of considerable practical importance relating to the matter before them. The division which had just taken place strongly illustrated a complaint he made last Session, that when the House was full the smallness of the space in which they were assembled prevented Members from getting into the House to know what was going on. Several hon. Members, himself amongst the rest, were unable to get inside the House before the last division took place, so as to hear the Question put. He heard many hon. Members around him ask the questions, "Are we voting right?" "Are we voting for the 'ayes' or for the 'noes'?" and he heard one hon. Member say, "I am voting for Otway," when in reality he was voting against him. He thought the subject ought to be considered by the House. ["Order, order!"]


said, the Committee was a Committee on the Mutiny Bill, and it was not therefore competent for him to consider the arrangements of the House. If the hon. Baronet wished to raise that question he must do so in the House when the Speaker was in the Chair.


said, that with all deference to the Chairman he was speaking about the late division, and whether it was one which ought to have weight with the House. He thought it ought not.


said, he agreed with the right hon. Member for Stroud that the result of the late division would give great dissatisfaction to the country, and all the more so, because, as had been pointed out, the deterioration of the liberality of the measure proposed came from the Benches on their (the Opposition) side of the House. There could be no mistake that that was the fact. He must, however, altogether deny that a great concession had been made. Before the clause which had just been carried the state of the army with reference to corporal punishment was this, that 153,000 soldiers, a number equal to the population of one of their great towns, were altogether exempted from the lash under the clause as originally proposed by the Secretary for War; but under the clause as it bad now been carried, they were all liable to be flogged for two offences, and the second-class soldiers were liable to be flogged for five separate offences. Under the Articles of War any offender could be visited with flogging, even for smoking in one of the sleeping apartments, if the Commander-in-Chief made it a punishable offence under the Articles of War. He thought the Committee would find that the effect of the clause just passed would be to make the labour of the recruiting sergeant more difficult and less productive than it had hitherto been.


said, he was at a loss to conceive that any concession had been made. Six or seven years ago, when he brought the subject before the House, he was asked by the late Lord Herbert, the then Secretary for War, not to press his Motion to a division, because the army had been divided into classes, and that the first-class men would not be liable to corporal punishment. The same argument was used by the late Sir George Lewis, and by the present Lord Northbrook; but now that distinction was abolished, and the question so far from advancing was positively retrograding. The Duke of Wellington, twenty-two years ago, said he hoped to live to see the day when corporal punishment would be abolished. Yet they were now in the same condition with regard to it as they were then. He must therefore express his regret that the right hon. Gentleman had not persisted in the concession which in the first instance he offered to the House.


said, he could not admit that this question was regarded on the one side or the other as a party question. He and many hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House had supported the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chatham, and the result had been a great advantage gained, which might be used to improve the status of the British soldier. From the information he had obtained from sergeants under whose drill instructions he had been, he ventured to think that the result of this discussion would be to very much facilitate the labour of the recruiting sergeant, and at the same time to give great encouragement to a large body of intelligent men to join the army. There were other subjects connected with the condition of the soldier, which required consideration, but he did not believe they contributed to the same extent to keep respectable men out of the army as flogging.


, in explanation, said, he did not mean to use the term party question in the sense in which it had been taken by hon. Members. It was perfectly true, as every one knew, that every exertion had been used to get a Government majority.


said, it was assumed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chatham, and not contradicted, that the late Lord Herbert, who was a most benevolent man, and one who was exceedingly anxious to serve the soldier, had divided the army into two classes, exempting by the Queen's regula- tions those who were in the first class from corporal punishment. At first he understood that privilege was to be retained; but to his astonishment, and he believed to the astonishment of many other Gentlemen also, that privilege had been taken away. It had been his fate to see soldiers receive more than fifty lashes each at a time, mid he, for one, should be glad to see the punishment entirely abolished, He was convinced that in time they might abolish flogging from the army; because since 1834 the statistics showed that a less number of lashes had been given, and a fewer number of men flogged than formerly, and yet the discipline of the army had not in the slightest degree diminished. They had lost the boon of the men in the first class, which was a great pity; but they must for the present be content with those advantages they had gained, hoping, however, that another year's experience would induce whatever Ministry should happen to be in power to come down to the House and say that, except in time of war, they were prepared to abolish flogging altogether,

Clause added to the Bill.

Clauses 10 and 11, with Amendments, agreed to.



said, he thought that it was absurd, considering the small numerical strength of the British army and the events which had recently occurred on the Continent, to declare in the preamble that the army was maintained "for the preservation of the balance of power in Europe." He would therefore move that those words be omitted.


complained that the Government had been afraid of bringing the important question involved in this Bill before the Horse Guards, and had neglected to do so from the 15th of March to the 22nd, when they were forced to adopt that course; and whilst on one occasion they had invoked the authority of the Horse Guards in favour of their views, they had subsequently evaded the responsibility of communicating with that Department. The answer which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) had given him at an earlier period of the evening upon the subject of the Commander-in-Chief was eminently unsatisfactory; and he must go further and characterize it as evasive. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman himself, and he wits sure the House did not understand where the power of the Horse Guards commenced and where it ended. It was a great responsibility to quote the opinion of the Horse Guards to the House, inasmuch as there was scarcely a single hon. Member in the House who was not interested in some persons immediately under the control of that Department.


assured the hon. Member for Devizes that the inferences he drew were perfectly inaccurate. With regard to the words in the preamble to which objection had been taken, he observed that they had been inserted in every Mutiny Bill for a long time, and he advised the hon. Member for Chatham, who had given notice of his intention to propose in a future year great changes in the Mutiny Bill, to reserve this point for consideration among others.


said, that was no reason why those words should remain in the Act. They were a perfect absurdity, and their omission would not affect the Mutiny Bill at all. He moved that they be omitted.


thought the words had been so long in the Act that it was quite time they were invalided.

Amendment negatived.

Preamble agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.

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