HC Deb 30 March 1868 vol 191 cc556-9

(Mr. Dodson, Sir John Pakington, The Judge Advocate General.)

Bill, as amended, considered.


appealed to the noble Lord (Lord Otho Fitzgerald) not to insist on the Amendment which he had succeeded in carrying on Thursday night.


said, he wished to call attention to an Amendment which had been made in Committee by striking out of the Preamble the words "and the preservation of the balance of power in Europe." That Amendment was suggested by the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Otway), who was carried away by his enthusiasm at carrying the abolition of corporal punishment, and it was agreed to without a division. There was, at the time, a large gathering on the Opposition Benches, but the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) was absent—busied, he presumed—in preparing the thunder for to-night's debate. Now, the words they struck out were of long standing. In the Preamble to the Act of 1689 the words were— Whereas it is judged necessary that during this time of danger several of the forces now on foot should be continued and others raised for the safety of the Kingdom, for the proper defence of the Protestant religion, and," he was sorry to add, "for the reducing of Ireland. In 1690, the following words were added—"and for carrying on the war against France." In 1701, these words were introduced— For the safety of this Kingdom, for the common defence of the Protestant religion, and for the preservation of the liberties of Europe. These words were repeated in the second year of the reign of Queen Ann; but in the Act of 1 Geo. I., (1714), the words used were— For the guard of His Majesty's Royal person, for the safety of this Kingdom, and the suppressing of the present rebellion. The passage to which he now wished particularly to call attention first occurred in the Act of 1727, the Preamble to which declared— That this army is raised for the safety of this Kingdom, the defence of the possessions of the Crown of Great Britain, and the preservation of the balance of power in Europe. These words, therefore, could claim a prescription from 1727 to the present year, and to a certain extent were illustrative of the history of the country. Under these circumstances there certainly ought to be good grounds adduced for striking them out. The only reason brought forward last year by the hon. Member for Chatham was, that the words were not true, and that the army was not maintained for the preservation of the balance of power in Europe. Now he held the contrary opinion. He gave no conventional interpre- tation to the phrase "balance of power," but supposed that it meant the question of European police and national defence. Why did our army go to the Crimea, if not to maintain the balance of power? More recently we were very nearly going to war in favour of Denmark, to preserve the balance of power. Questions might arise with regard to Egypt and Belgium, that might make it the duty and interest of this country to interfere. He did not believe that the day would come again when England would play so prominent a part as she had formerly done in foreign politics; but, at the same time, he was not prepared to admit that 30,000,000 of Englishmen were to have no voice in Europe, and that our armies were to have no influence whatever in the affairs of the Continent. This might be a mere matter of sentiment; but he felt certain that Lord Palmerston, had he been alive, would have resisted the Motion which was made on Friday night. As he felt strongly on this subject, and wished to give the House an opportunity of re-considering the determination they then came to, he begged to move the re-insertion in the Preamble of the words to which he had referred.


seconded the Motion, remarking that the Opposition had the other night, in the absence of their Leader, run riot. It was with the greatest difficulty that the late Judge Advocate General had obtained a hearing; and as for the present one, he had no chance.

Amendment proposed, in the Preamble, in line 7, after the word "Crown," to insert the words "and the preservation of the balance of power in Europe."—(Lord Elcho.)


remarked that the words had been in the Mutiny Act for so long a time, and meant so very little, that he was surprised to find that the hon. Member for Chatham thought it worth his while to strike them out. At the same time, he was still more astonished that his noble Friend should think it worth his while to re-insert them.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.


moved the insertion of words empowering the military authorities in Ireland to billet soldiers in private houses.


remarked, that, as the right hon. Gentleman had, on a former occasion, admitted that the practice of billeting soldiers in private houses ought not to be resorted to, except in the most pressing emergency, he trusted the Motion would not be objected to, as it was impossible for the military authorities in Ireland on a very short notice to make the arrangements which would be necessary in the event of a change in the existing state of things.


said, after the remarks of his noble Friend, he would not press the matter to a division. But he hoped the right hon. Baronet would take the question into consideration, otherwise he would certainly move the Amendment next year.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill to be read the third time To-morrow.