§ LORD ELCHO
said, he hoped that the House would deem the great importance of any question relating to the military organization of the Army of Reserve a sufficient excuse for the remarks he was about to submit to them upon the subject, and for his taking the liberty of drawing their attention to some points which, in his humble opinion, should not be lost sight of in dealing with this important question. Not very long since the attention of Parliament had been directed to the question of the organization of the army in consequence of some very unfortunate occurrences. After the successful termination of the war in 1815 the nation fell as it were into a state of apathy and self-sufficiency with regard to its military establishments. The result was that in the year 1835 those establishments were reduced to such an extent that, if he were not misinformed, in the whole of Great Britain not more than twelve guns fully horsed and manned could have been got together on an emergency. In 1845, in moving the Address, he had, with the ingenuousness of youth, expressed a hope that, with the existing commercial relations 88 between the nations of Europe, the recurrence of the calamity of war would be rare if not impossible. Europe was, however, soon aroused from its state of fancied security. The Exhibition of 1851, instead of inaugurating an era of peace, had been followed by a succession of wars. In the Paris Exhibition of the present year the most successful display on the part of England was in the department devoted to improved weapons for the destruction of human life. In another way the spirit of this country had been exhibited by the formation of a body of 180,000 Volunteers, and the interest that was taken in military organization. They had now under consideration the fruits of the labours of the Commission appointed to inquire into the questions of the Army Reserve and the recruiting of the army. In a work published recently in France, entitled "The French Army in 1867," which, though anonymous, was known to be written by General Trochu, there was a passage to this effect:—That it is peace, properly utilized, which forms good armies, and it is war, especially when prolonged, which disorganizes them.And the same writer further says—For a government to be caught by war in a state of making preparations is one of the greatest of—almost crimes—a Government can commit; and it is only equalled by an army when war has broken out, being caught in the act of concentration.He was afraid that if we were asked whether our army was prepared for war the answer would be unsatisfactory. The question was, had we unity of action in our departments and that simplicity of organization which was absolutely essential to the proper conduct of operations in the field? With regard to the unity of action in the different departments, he need only refer to the simple fact that in a time of peace a regiment could not be brought to Hounslow—a distance of only one day's journey — and fed satisfactorily by the Commissariat. It was difficult for the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War or anybody else to find out who was the party on whom the blame rested. He was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say, when speaking on this subject, that that branch of the service at all events required to be looked into and better organized. Then, again, as to the Medical Department, although there were on an average during; the last fortnight 3,000 military men, composed of all branches of the army, besides 89 Volunteers, encamped at Wimbledon; and although a requisition for medical stores had been sent in some fourteen days previously to the meeting, they were left without medical stores for several days. A great step towards our improvement was to be aware of our deficiency. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War had now before the House two Hills for the purpose of remedying, to a certain extent, those deficiencies, which would effect great improvements in the organization of the various military departments, and which had been prepared in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission appointed to take the subject into consideration. In looking at that Report, however, it appeared to him that many of the points upon which suggestions had been made by the Commission were such as should never have come before them at all. Such matters, for instance, as questions relating to barrack damages, the washing of sheets, fatigue dress, teaching the soldiers the use of the spade and mattock, and various trades, and diminishing the amount of drill, should have been dealt with by the military authorities on their own responsibility, or left to regimental discipline. With regard to the questions of the fatigue dress and the use of the mattock and spade, he desired to say a word or two. When fatigue parties had been sent to work at Wimbledon, it was felt that it was so great a hardship upon the men that they should have to pay 12s. for a fatigue dress in which to perform a part of their ordinary work, that a dress was supplied to them for the purpose. His right hon. Friend had thought it right to recommend an increase of 2d. a day to the pay of the soldiers instead of giving them a fatigue dress, but he would suggest whether it was not possible to sanction the use of a dress less expensive than those at present employed. If that were done officers would be less inclined than they oftentimes now were to relieve the soldiers from a portion of their duty in this respect. He wished also to say a few words with respect to drill. As a civilian he did not presume to offer any dictation upon military matters. In what he was going to say he was only giving expression to the views of many military men. We ought not to have a system by which the soldier who had completed his first period of service was compelled to perform the same amount of drill as a soldier who had been in the service but a 90 short time. There was something wrong in the system under which a soldier of ten years' service had to go through precisely the same drill as a soldier of only one year's service. It was further thought that rather than make the drill a punishment they should endeavour to give a soldier an interest in it. Many military men were of opinion that drill should not in any case be used as a punishment. They believed that the time of the soldier might with advantage be more employed than it was at present, in working at some trade and less at drill. Soldiers ought, no doubt, to have as much drill as was necessary to their efficiency; but that efficiency might still be attained if we departed to some extent from our present system. He had heard it asserted that to our system of drill the steadiness of our soldiers in time of battle and while under fire was attributable. He believed that that steadiness was, to a great extent, due to the English temperament. Three Bills—the Enlistment Bill, the Army Reserve Bill, and the Militia Bill—had emanated from this Commission, and had been brought in by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (General Peel). He desired to speak with the utmost possible deference and respect of anything that came from the right hon. Gentleman. He felt sure he did but express the feeling of Members generally when he said that no man had done more for the administration of the Department over which he had presided than had the right hon. Gentleman. He had shown, during his term of office, no shirking from responsibility and no slavery to red tape. It was to the right hon. Gentleman, too, that we were indebted for our Volunteer force, our rifled cannon, and the speedy arming our forces with breech-loaders. He felt, therefore, great diffidence in criticizing anything which emanated from the right hon. Gentleman. The Enlistment Bill had passed the House almost in silence, the attention of hon. Members being chiefly devoted at the time to the consideration of a measure which had occupied the greater portion of the Session. By the Enlistment Bill the period of enlistment had increased from ten to twelve years. Certainly the evidence given before the Commission was in favour of the change, though Earl de Grey had expressed himself unfavourably towards it. The noble Earl had said that it was a difficult question to determine what constituted an old soldier. The question had been very carefully gone 91 into. In the Peninsula, under the Duke of Wellington, it was found that on the average a man who had been in the service for five years was regarded as an old soldier—nay, more, that a man who had been under fire during two years was entitled to claim the same character. There were many experienced men, not only in this country but also abroad, who thought it was a mistake to endeavour to keep the men too long in the ranks, and that it would be better to shorten the period of enlistment, and, at the same time, to hold out every possible inducement to the men by teaching them trades, which would enable them to return to civil life, to form a portion of the reserved force, possibly making service in the Reserve a condition to their retirement. But the Enlistment Bill had passed the House, and he could only express a hope that it would be found to work successfully. The remaining two Bills, the Army Reserve Bill and the Militia Bill, would come on for discussion that evening. The object of one of these Bills was to enable men whose service in the army had not expired to commute the unexpired portion by service in the Reserve, and that of the other was by increased bounties to induce men in entering the Militia to engage to transfer to the Line in the event of a war breaking out. The right hon. Gentleman himself had confessed, with regard to one of those measures, that it would not have a very large or speedy operation. Lord Dalhousie, who had acted as Chairman of the Commission, expressed himself as follows with regard to these Bills—
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he felt bound to rise to Order. He wished to know whether it was competent for the noble Lord to enter prematurely on the discussion of Bills, the second reading of which was on the Paper for that evening? As a proof of the inexpediency of the course pursued by his noble Friend, he might remark that his noble Friend had been arguing upon a portion of the scheme, in reference to the Army Reserve, which had not been brought, and would not be brought, before the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that by the Rules of the House the noble Lord was precluded from discussing, on a Motion for going into Committee of Supply, Bills which had been placed on the Paper for consideration at a later period of the evening. He would, moreover, remind the noble Lord that he was also precluded from quoting anything 92 which had been said in the other House of Parliament during the present Session in reference to these particular measures.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he desired to know whether he was not entitled to refer to these Bills, seeing that it was intended to go into Committee of Supply for the purpose of taking a Vote to give them effect?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the right time for discussing the question would be when the Votes, to which the noble Lord referred, came under the consideration of the Committee.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that if he could not refer to the Bills on the Paper, he might refer to what he considered ought to be the sound principle which ought to guide us in our military organization in connection with an Army of Reserve. It should be based on some broad foundation; but he had neither heard nor seen any measure that was likely to be adopted by the Government that would effect that object. His belief was that our present laws were sufficient for that purpose if the Government had only the courage to enforce them with certain modifications. He concurred in the opinion expressed by the Royal Commission that our Militia force was the basis of an Army of Reserve. Their Report said—It is to our Militia we must look for the solid constitutional Reserve of the country, and we would earnestly recommend that more attention should be given to its organization, that its numbers should be maintained up to the full legal quota.He was glad to find that the subject was shortly to be brought under the notice of both Houses of Parliament. When he gave notice of his present Motion, it was received with some laughter, but he had not been discouraged in proceeding with it, because he was convinced that it was only by having recourse to the ballot that the Militia could be kept in a proper state as the basis of our home defence. It was notorious that the numbers of Militia were not maintained at their proper quota, and this evil could not be remedied without the introduction of the ballot. It could not be said the ballot was a hardship. It was the duty of the citizen to give personal service to the State when necessity required it of him, and the ballot lessened his liability. It consisted in an act of registration which carried with it a chance of escaping service. The obligation to serve was founded on the ancient institutions of the country, and the ballot, rightly understood, was a 93 means for reducing the severity of the obligation. He would not trouble the House with historical references to the train bands and other forces which had been organized from time to time as supplements to the Royal army. He would refer to a pamphlet published by Mr. Mitchell from the pen of Colonel Reilly, of the Artillery, entitled Notes on The Military Forces of the Kingdom. It appeared that the author had found in the library at Aldershot a document which was drawn up by the Minister of War in 1798, for the use of Mr. Pitt's Government which purported to set forth the system that should be adopted in order to put the country in a thorough state of defence. That document, however, was founded upon another drawn up in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and having reference to the expected invasion by the Spanish Armada. This was found in the State Paper Office. It was most minute in its details, and contained an order from the Secretary of State, which said—Her Majesty willeth that all the forces under your charge be ready to march, with all their furniture at an hour's warning.So particular was the order given on that occasion that the very number of horse shoes and nails which each company was to carry were specified. This general conclusion might be come to from the record, that out of a population of 3,000,000 a body of 177,000 men was ready to meet the invader had he landed on English soil. Such was the example set the country by their ancestors, and, looking at our present population, he thought, it at least strange that the Militia could not be kept at its legal strength, and that something more comprehensive than was proposed had not been suggested. In favour of the propriety of again having recourse to the ballot, they had the early precedent of Queen Elizabeth; then again that of George III.; and again the proposal in 1852 by Earl Russell to resort to it without allowing a substitute. The principle of personal service was essentially to be considered in reference to the re-organization of the army. It was objected to on various grounds. But what were the objections? It was said that it was harsh and unequal in operation, that it would interfere with trade and industry, that by the system of substitutes the rich escaped service, that to a man of moderate means procuring a substitute was a heavy fine, and that it was un-English. He denied 94 that the ballot was un-English, since it had existed from time immemorial; it formed the foundation of our present Militia, and could now be enforced in time of war. With regard to the other objections, even presuming there was no way of modifying the severity of the duty which fell on those unfortunate in the ballot, why should it not be performed as punctually as any other public duty to the State — as the serving on juries or the paying of taxes? But he believed the operation of the ballot might be so ordered as to make the duty fall very lightly on the citizen. At present, the whole population between eighteen and forty-five were liable to bear arms. That term might well in time of peace be reduced from nineteen or twenty to twenty-two or twenty-three, who should serve for two or three years, which would keep the Militia at its present standard. Substitutes might be done away with, and efficiency as a Volunteer should be the only legitimate ground of excuse from liability to serve as a Militiaman. Service in the Militia would interfere much less with trade if they would alter the present system of drill by adopting that which was practised in Canada, and which had been found to work so satisfactorily there—namely, drilling the men in squads and in companies in their respective localities for two-thirds of the period for which they were called out, and the remaining third of the time in regiments in camp, and under canvas, just as the Volunteers were drilled. This arrangement would permit service in regiments under canvas for one-third of the time, and the advantage which would accrue from that was acknowledged by all. The system which he had sketched would have the effect of filling the ranks of the Militia, and of doing away with the competition now going on between the army and Militia. It would have the effect of increasing the Volunteer force likewise, because many persons, to avoid the ballot would go into the Volunteer force which at the present moment, as they all knew, was held together by a rope of sand, and the whole of which might disappear at fourteen days' notice. Another effect would be that the difficulty of obtaining officers would be overcome, especially with regard to the Volunteers, because officers would prefer joining that force to running the chance of being balloted for. He believed that in the long run such a system would be more economical, because by mere money payments they could not compete 95 with the labour market. These were the considerations which he thought justified him in calling the attention of the House to the question of the ballot. When he gave notice of that Motion some hon. Members laughed, but he had persevered under the conviction that sooner or later they would have to face the question of the necessity of the ballot as the basis of their Army of Reserve. Another reason which made him persevere was this. He well recollected that when the Volunteer movement was first started those who entered into it were spoken of as amiable, weak-minded enthusiasts. Lord Palmerston himself joked about the rifle fever. But those persons persevered with the Volunteer movement. What was the result? They now had 180,000 men in arms. If they had not that force, the very first thing they would have to do would be to apply the ballot. They persevered with the Volunteer movement. Why? Because they had faith in the spirit of their countrymen; they had not been disappointed. He had the same conviction now. It only wanted courage to deal with the question. The spirit which actuated the Volunteers existed in the whole population. Men would willingly submit to the duty if put before them. It would be a hardship which would be of a very slight character with the modifications to which he had referred. It was their bounden duty, by the ancient usage and practice of this country, to give their personal service to the Sovereign. By that means alone could they hope to have their defences and their reserves in the state in which they ought to be. He only asked that a man should run the chance of being balloted for the Militia or should prove that he served in the Volunteers. He held that that was no hardship. The majority of their 180,000 Volunteers were made up of artizans. If there was any hardship in the case, upon them it must fall heaviest. Yet those artizans willingly served in the Volunteer ranks, and he did not see why other Englishmen ought not to be called upon to do as they had done. He might ask why the Volunteers alone were to undergo — if it were one—that hardship, why they alone were to bear on their shoulders a burden which others would not touch with their finger, why they alone wove to take upon themselves the obligations of citizenship when, according to the ancient law and custom of the realm, those obligations devolved upon all. He relied on the spirit of his 96 countrymen. He believed that if his right hon. Friend would meditate on the matter during the Recess, and would have the courage to bring forward such a proposal, he would meet with a proper response on the part of the people of the country.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "inasmuch as it is the ancient and undoubted prerogative of the Crown to require the Military service of its liege subjects, and inasmuch as liability to personal Service, within the limits of the United Kingdom, has always been and still is the principle on which the Militia Force is founded, it is desirable, in framing any scheme or the establishment of an Army of Reserve and for the more complete and economical organization of the Military capabilities and defensive power of the Nation, to consider how far this ancient principle should be practically enforced, and how it can be best applied with least inconvenience to the people:
That it is further desirable, with a view to the more full and deliberate consideration of this important subject, that the Army Reserve and Militia Reserve Bills should be withdrawn for the present Session of Parliament,"—(Lord Elcho,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. SPEAKER
, having read the noble Lord's Motion as far as the words "inconvenience to the people," said, he must stop there, because the next Resolution of the noble Lord called on the House to express an opinion, and, indeed, to arrive at a decision, on Bills before they had been discussed or read the second time in that House.
§ Question proposed accordingly.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that at the commencement of his speech his noble Friend alluded to the apathy which existed, and which, perhaps naturally to a great extent, succeeded the great efforts made by this country during the Peninsular War. He likewise referred to what occurred in respect to army organization during and subsequently to the Crimean War, and to the efforts that had been made by successive Governments to dispel it. Himself a severe critic he considered the munitions of war exhibited at Paris to be highly creditable to the efforts of the country, as evincing the great attention and improvements of late devoted to and introduced into that branch of the public service. He also mentioned an unfortunate circumstance which happened the other 97 day as a proof that they ought to be better prepared for all the events of war, and as showing—in which he (Sir John Pakington) concurred—that the time had come when some reform should be introduced into certain parts of our military administration. The noble Lord then proceeded to advert to the Report of the Recruiting Commission, and seemed by his remarks to imply a censure upon the Commission.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he must disclaim having implied any censure upon the Commission. He had said he thought it hardly necessary that that subject should have been referred to a Commission.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that whether or not the military authorities ought to have dealt with the points in question without a Commission was another matter. The military authorities had not done so, and he must think the Commissioners did well in reporting as they had done, and in giving the country the benefit of their opinions. The noble Lord would admit that every one of the points to which he referred was immediately and directly connected with the object of the Commission—namely, how to improve recruiting in the army. Every point had a direct bearing on the end they had chiefly in view—namely, how they were to make the army more attractive to the public, and induce men readily to enter the service of the Queen as soldiers. The noble Lord had, in his remarks, naturally fallen into some mistakes, as anyone was likely to do who commented on a supposed statement before it had been made. Having proceeded to what appeared from his notice to be the main object of his Motion, the noble Lord—he confessed, to his no small surprise—conveyed to the House his opinion that the time had arrived when they could not rest content with voluntary enlistment for the Militia, and that the ballot ought once more to be resorted to. He was entirely unable to agree with his noble Friend in that view. He thought the facts of the case were totally against the view of his noble Friend. The Militia, which had fallen very much into neglect, was revived about fifteen years ago. The remarkable difference in that revival, as compared with preceding times, was that from 1852 this country had relied mainly on the voluntary principle for recruiting the ranks of the Militia. Had that system failed? He did not think the noble Lord had shown that it had. The noble Lord referred to the Militia having been short of their num- 98 bers. He (Sir John Pakington) did not believe that the Militia were short of their numbers. The Militia establishment at present was only three-fourths of the whole quota which was at present sanctioned by Parliament. He believed that up to the amount of those three-fourths—that was to say, up to the whole amount that they now required for the Militia as they stood—they were full. It appeared to him that the facts connected with the Volunteer force to which his noble Friend had referred, were themselves an answer to his argument as to the necessity of the ballot for the Militia. As soon as it was made known that the military service of the country required aid the nation rose, and we had a new army of 180,000 men raised on the Volunteer principle. That fact furnished in itself an answer to the statement of his noble Friend, that we were unable to keep up our Army of Reserve without resorting to the ballot. He must also remind his noble Friend that the ballot was not altogether done away with, but only suspended. It was at the present moment the law of this country. In 1852, the Government determined to make an attempt—which attempt had been singularly successful—to establish the Militia on the voluntary principle; but the ballot had not in consequence been abandoned. In 1860, an Act of Parliament had been passed placing the ballot on a new footing. At that moment, should any national emergency render it necessary that it should be resorted to for the purpose of enlarging the Militia force, men could be raised, by means of the ballot, in the course of from five to seven weeks. That was, he thought, a complete answer to the suggestion which had been made by his noble Friend. Under the circumstances, looking at the Volunteer force, at the success which had attended the efforts made to establish the Militia on the voluntary principle, and at the fact that if the ballot were required it might be called into action in a few weeks, he trusted the House would be of opinion that his noble Friend had not made out a case for so important a deviation from the principles on which the Army of Reserve was based as that which he proposed.
§ MAJOR WALKER
said, he agreed with the right hon. Baronet that if any necessity for it really arose, the ballot could be resorted to by the Executive, and would be cheerfully submitted to by the people. He did not agree with the noble Lord that the Militia was as inefficient as it was 99 generally assumed to be, but if it was, its inefficiency could be readily accounted for and easily removed. The present system was nominally established in 1852; but it took a great deal more than an Act of Parliament to perfect a military organization, and the necessary care and trouble had never yet been bestowed upon the Militia. And why? In 1854 the Crimean War broke out, and was followed by the Indian Mutiny. These two occurrences lasted till 1859; and during the interval the interests of the Militia were very properly postponed to those of the regular army. One important fact had, however, been proved by what happened at the restoration of tranquillity; and that was the perfect facility with which the Militia on disembodiment, was re-absorbed into civil occupations. In a few weeks the whole of the force was disbanded without any cost to the country beyond a gratuity of six months' pay to the junior officers. At the close of the Indian Mutiny in 1S59, it might have been hoped that efforts would have been made to establish the force on a permanent peace footing. Some steps were taken in the matter. A Royal Commission was appointed, and two of the suggestions which it made were acted upon. But in 1860 came the Volunteer movement, and from that time up to the present day all public interest in the Militia had ceased to exist. It ceased to be the subject of discussion in that House or in the press, and became buried in neglect and discouragement. He did not seek to impute blame on that account to any Government or party. If the Government were apathetic in the matter, their apathy was shared in by the House and the public. No active steps were taken to foster the Militia system, and so much reduced was the force in consequence of the men volunteering for the Line, that in 1859 the total muster for training was, he believed, under 40,000. Such, however, were the recuperative powers of the force, that in 1864 there were upwards of 100,000 men out for training, and if left to itself, and if it were allowed to recruit to the full legal strength, it would before long number 124,000 men. In 1864 measures were adopted—into the general expediency of which he would not enter—for reducing the strength of the force by a quarter in order to admit of a longer period of training for the remainder. That accounted for its limited number at present. He came next to its efficiency, in which respect it was, he admitted, 100 imperfect—though not so much so as had been represented—but why was that the case? The Militia Commission which sat in 1859 recommended that the period of training for a Militia soldier should be a minimum of twenty-eight days every year. That recommendation was not, however, adopted. The period of training determined upon was twenty-one days, and it was only last year that the time was extended to twenty-seven days. The drill, therefore, in the case of the Militia was not so complete as it ought to be, because it had pleased Parliament in its wisdom to curtail the time which competent authorities had declared to be necessary for the purpose. Then again—and the point was a most important one—the Commission recommended that the Militia recruit should go through a course of preliminary drill for twenty-eight days. That recommendation was not adopted in its entirety. The year after the Report the recruit was allowed to train for twenty-one days, the time being reduced the following year to fourteen, and the next to seven days. It was only this year that the time had again been extended to fourteen days. Another defect arose from the difficulty of procuring officers; and that difficulty, instead of diminishing, was steadily increasing; no attempt had been made to remedy it. The abolition of the rank of ensign was no remedy. Another recommendation of the Commission was—and it was one of vital consequence—that the expensive and demoralizing system of keeping the men on billets should as far as possible be done away with. If it were proposed to apply that system to a highly disciplined regular regiment, what a chorus of protests and remonstances it would call forth; yet here were a number of poor lads, who were necessarily subjected to very little control, quartered at the lowest beer-houses and gin-shops in the country. Formerly it might have been said that if the system was nasty, it was at least cheap, for the price paid for lodgings was only three-halfpence per night. It was now, however, 4d. a night, and so was really dear as a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. It was a vicious system, and not only vicious, but expensive. The system was besides attended by great waste of time, for the men were frequently quartered at long distances from the place at which they had to muster. He mentioned these points to show that if the Militia force was, as some suppose, inefficient, that 101 inefficiency was not inseparable from it, but admitted of easy and simple remedy. What was required for the Militia was not revolution, but reform. Although there might appear to be a certain amount of truth in the statement that recruiting for the Militia was injurious to recruiting for the Line, men of high military authority—including Colonel Paythorne, Inspector General of Militia, did not deem that to be actually the case. It was true that recruits for both services were drawn from the same class, but they no more clashed with each other in that respect, than the officering of the yeomanry interfered with the officering of the cavalry, because the officers of both were derived from a similar source. The result of the reduction in 1864 of the establishment of the Militia was that the recruiting of that force to the extent of 20,000 or 25,000 men per annum was suspended for two years. If the recruiting for the Militia interfered with the recruiting for the army, the consequence would have been that during those two years numbers of the men usually recruited in each year for the Militia would have looked for service in the Line. But during those two years the fact of the deficiency of recruits for the army began to force itself on the attention of the country. If the Government would devote themselves not to revolutionize but to reform the system of reserve, they would find that it was easier than might be generally supposed to make the Militia an economical, efficient, and perfectly sufficient Army of Reserve.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, that the temptations to which Militiamen were exposed by being billeted in country towns had been well described, but it was not easy to find a remedy for the evil. If it were proposed to build barracks for the Militia in every county to be used only for a single month in the year, it was a question whether the counties would be willing to undertake the expense. He feared the only remedy was to erect barracks. The question then was how far the House would be willing to undertake the expense of doing that. It was marvellous how the Militiamen were brought to any sort of discipline after being subjected to the demoralizing influences of the low beer-houses in which they had been billeted, and he hoped the House would adopt some means of checking the evil. The remedy seemed to be to de-localize the force.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, that he, on the contrary, traced the inefficiency of the Militia to the want of a still more decidedly local character. It would be easy to obtain any number of men if proper means were taken. The pay of 3s. or 3s. 2d. a day during training was sufficient to tempt any number of men into the force. But the kind of men who joined the Militia were mostly the dregs of the towns and the counties, and had no proper local connection with the officers. If measures were devised to induce agricultural labourers and the more respectable inhabitants of towns to join the Militia, the force would then get more officers. It was the want of connection between the officers and men which rendered the Militia not properly efficient. The comforts of the officers were not studied so much as they ought to be. In the course of the present Session money had been voted to provide billiard-tables for the officers of the Army. But nothing of the kind was done for the officers of the Militia, who could not have a mess-room, unless they built it themselves; and who did not receive an allowance for travelling expenses from their actual residences to the places of training. These and other circumstances prevented gentlemen from joining the Militia as officers. With regard to barracks and billets, he thought that much might be done in these matters to increase the efficiency of the men. It would also be a great boon to them if their rations were raised from three-quarters of a pound to one pound of meat. He trusted that while the Secretary for War considered the question of the pay of the men, he would also take into consideration the case of the officers, and propose some measure next Session to increase their comforts.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY
said, he would confirm the observations of the hon. Gentleman who last spoke as to the difficulty of getting, not men, but officers for the Militia. A relative of his—a Militia officer—told him there was no difficulty in getting men, but that it was impossible to obtain officers. It was not likely that gentlemen, would put themselves to great inconvenience to serve in the Militia unless some attention was paid to their comfort and some increase made to their pay.
§ MR. BATHURST
said, no gentleman whose private means were not very large could afford to be connected with the Militia. He hoped the Government would take into their consideration measures by 103 which the convenience of Militia officers would be more effectually consulted.
§ MR. MORRISON
said, he agreed that it would be an absurdity to build barracks for the purpose of housing the Militia during the short period of their drill; but the experiment might be tried of placing one or two regiments under canvas, so as to get rid of the billeting system.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LAWRENCE
said, he gave the noble Lord every credit for the great ability, energy, and perseverance he had displayed in connection with the Volunteer movement; but he thought his present Motion was quite inconsistent with voluntary enlistment. A proposal that every citizen should become a soldier was purely a military question, and if the noble Lord's suggestion meant anything it meant that conscription ought to be introduced into this country at the earliest possible day. All would be surprised to hear that that force of 180,000 men might disappear at a fortnight's notice. He could not conceive what the Volunteers would be when men were forced to become Volunteers to avoid the ballot. The price of labour had risen with the price of land and of every other commodity. If the army was not able to be recruited under present arrangements the difficulty would have to be met, not by compelling men to enter the military service but by raising the rate of pay. The difficulties at present experienced by the recruiting Serjeant were difficulties that might be overcome by the exercise of a wise liberality. It was only a question of supply and demand. So long as the Government were outbid by the other employers of labour they must expect to feel the want of men. If stronger inducements were held out there would be no lack of persons willing to enter the Queen's service. The noble Lord recommended the Secretary of State for War to pursue the same course on this subject which had been taken by Lord John Russell; but he forgot that the course then adopted cost the Government their places. A similar result would no doubt follow if the noble Lord's suggestions were pursued.
§ Amendment, by leave, Withdrawn.