§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration.
§ LORD ELCHO
, in rising to move—That it is inexpedient to consider the Bill, as amended, until the whole of the scheme of the Government for the first appointment, promotion, and retirement of officers, together with an estimate of its probable, possible or ultimate cost, have been laid upon the Table,said, the Tichborne claimant, in describing some change for the better in his physical condition, was reported to have used this expression—"It has busted, and I feel much better." In words more euphonious, but similar in sense, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister announced on the 12th of June to the astonished House of Commons the collapse of this measure. "We have lightened our Bill," he said, "of everything that was immaterial." In point of fact, it was the bursting of the bubble which had been so industriously blown by the officials on the Treasury Bench, and which their friends in the Press and elsewhere had done their best to swell. Pricked by public discussion, that bubble had collapsed, and they had nothing but a few soap-suds in their hands, in the shape of the Bill now to be reported. The danger the country ran was that the circumstances which gave rise to the measure should be totally forgotten. He would, therefore, remind the House what these circumstances were. The Bill was brought in in deference to a strong feeling roused by recent events abroad, which urged and invited the Government to settle for ever the great question of our military organization. This public feeling was based upon the urgency of affairs abroad; upon the knowledge that we had engaged to defend Belgium; that in every branch of the service there was disor- 905 ganization; that the age of the men did not fit them for active service; that there was a want of artillery, and no proper amalgamation between the Regular forces and the Reserves. It was based, moreover, upon the acts of the Government, or rather upon the striking contrast between their acts and their words. Last year the Government represented everything as coleur de rose, took credit for reductions in the number of men, even in the artillery, and declared they had never been so strong since 1815, though they might under the changed conditions and requirements of the times, just as well have taken the standard of our military forces during the Heptarchy. But it was found that the reductions were made to a much greater extent than they ought to have been, and the contrast between the words and the acts of the Government became very strongly marked, for before Parliament separated, they had to take powers to add 20,000 additional men to the Army, and when Parliament re-assembled last February, the artillery, for the reduction of which they had previously taken credit, was nearly doubled. This Bill was then introduced for the purpose of dealing with the whole subject; it was not then regarded as a partial measure, affecting only one branch of the subject. But when, on the 12th instant, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said that purchase was the one thing of importance contained in the Bill, he (Lord Elcho) disputed the point, on the ground that the Secretary of State for War, when introducing the Army Estimates, and explaining the provisions of that measure, stated that its object was to render panics for ever unknown. On the 16th February last, when the Secretary of State for War brought forward the Army Estimates, he practically introduced this Bill, and on that occasion he made these observations—
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the noble Lord was not in Order in reading any report of what had taken place during any of the debates of the present Session.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, in explanation, that the quotation he wished to read had immediate reference to the subject.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that as he was precluded from reading the quotation, he should have to rely on his memory. The Secretary of State for War on that occasion said substantially that the Government felt the necessity of welding into a harmonious whole the various component elements of our military forces—the Regular Army, the Militia, and the Reserves; and that what they intended to do would have the effect of rendering panic, or the apprehension of panic, for the future altogether unknown. He (Lord Elcho) confessed that when he first saw the Bill he did not think it came up to the description which had been given of it. As he before observed, on the 12th instant, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister repudiated the idea that the Bill was anything but a purchase Bill. Now, whatever view might be taken on that point, he would only say that if that speech of the right hon. Gentleman had been made on the 16th of February, instead of the 12th of June, it would have been scouted by the country and by that House as an indication of any settlement, or proper mode of dealing with this great question. The right hon. Gentleman, on the 16th of February, dared not have made such a statement—it was only after he had tested the well-marshalled character of his majority, and the readiness of that majority to follow him into the lobby, that the right hon. Gentleman could use such language. What the House had to deal with now was, not the measure as a whole, but a mere fragment, abolishing purchase, transferring the powers to appoint to commissions from the Lords Lieutenant of counties to the Secretary of State, and putting Volunteers under the Mutiny Act. The Bill had been forced through that House without any concession of any kind to anyone, and that fact was made the subject of boasting on the other side of that House; but hon. Gentlemen should recollect that they had only passed what was left of the Bill—not the whole measure. The Government had laid great stress on the absolute necessity of abolishing purchase in order to do certain things; but that House had had considerable difficulty in getting to the bottom of those matters. One of the objects of the Government was to amalgamate the Regular and the Reserve forces, for which purpose 907 the power of the Lords Lieutenant to nominates to commissions was to be done away with. But it turned out that that amalgamation of the Regular and Reserve forces was all moonshine. As to having brigadiers with a command of 20,000 men, they would simply be inspectors under another name. Then as regarded commissions in the Militia, the recommendation of the Lords Lieutenant was still to be taken; and as to the transfer of officers of the Regular forces to the Militia, they learnt that supersession would only be resorted to in extreme cases as at present. In fact, excepting the nominal transfer from the Lords Lieutenant to the Secretary of State, everything stood as at present; and all that the Government said was necessary to be done could be done without the abolition of purchase, and without throwing such an enormous charge upon the national Exchequer. The improvement in the education of officers; the preventing of incompetent officers from commanding regiments; the opening up of the service to men with no money, by giving more commissions at Sandhurst; and the grant of more commissions to men rising from the ranks—all these objects could be attained at the present annual cost to the nation. As to the proposal to put the Volunteers under the Mutiny Act, it gave the Government no hold upon the Volunteers — which was the thing wanted—and did nothing to weld together the Regular and Reserve forces. All that fragmentary measure now did was to disorganize; there was nothing constructive about it; it was wholly destructive, and the House neither knew the cost of it nor the future system which was to take its place. The only Amendment of any value adopted during the discussion on the Bill came not from the Government, but from the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens)—namely, that men below a certain age should not be sent to India to die there like flies. And how had the minority in the House of Commons been treated by the Government? That was a grave question and really overshadowed all others connected with the Bill. Hon. Members were sent there to guard the national institutions, to see they were not wantonly destroyed, and if any were swept away to see that the substitute was known and understood. They were sent there to act as jealous 908 guardians of the public purse; to see that no new taxation was levied on the hard earnings of the people without sufficient justification and full knowledge of the purpose to which it was to be appropriated and the benefits to be derived therefrom. He considered that in any contemplated reform implying great changes—he might almost say a complete renovation—without the necessary facts and materials it was impossible for the House to legislate. But in that case the necessary materials had been refused. The House had been kept studiously in the dark, and the answer of the Government had invariably been—"Pass the Bill and then you shall know what the cost will be and what the substitute will be." In short, they had invited the House to embark on an unknown expenditure for unknown results. Now, when they found a system working well, giving them efficient officers, being, in fact, the only sound part of their military system which had stood the test of war, was it not the extreme of folly to sweep it away? At all events, if it was to be swept away, the House of Commons had a right to know what the substitute was to be. Yet they knew practically nothing, except that the system of selection was to take the place of the system of purchase. As to that new system of selection, however, everything was vague. They were told it was to be selection tempered by regimental considerations and seniority, and eminent men were said to be laying down some plan. But the House ought to know the details of the plan, for the whole question turned upon details. They were told that the Secretary of State would not himself interfere, but that the patronage would be in the hands of the Commander-in-Chief. But what was the Commander-in-Chief's position in the War Office List of June, 1870? He was there put on the same level as the Financial Secretary to the War Department and the Surveyor General, and his name absolutely appeared as fifth in the list. The Secretary of State was supreme, and there was great danger of Parliamentary influence and favouritism being again brought to bear on the appointments to the Army as well as in the Militia. Then they were told they must not interfere with regulations, but must trust to the Government; but Government was always changing, and, more- 909 over, there was nothing in the past conduct of the Government to give that House any confidence that they had the power of laying down a clear system in Army matters—but still he had a precedent for asking for the production of some plan, because in last Session the Government yielded to the demand made that, before passing the Bill for establishing the offices of Surveyor General and Financial Secretary, they should lay down the regulations, showing what the duties of those officers were to be before Parliament. Strong as the argument was as regarded the abolition of purchase, it was infinitely stronger as to the cost. The Government proposition entailed an expenditure of £8,000,000 to be spread over a certain number of years, though everything they professed to do could be done without that expenditure, and, in addition, the cost of the annual retirement was calculated by some persons at £1,250,000, while at present the officers themselves paid the expense of the system of retirement. He was told that the conduct of those who opposed the measure of the Government had been criticized by the Liberal Press in the country, which suppressed the speeches of those hon. Members who objected to the Bill, and the opposition had been characterized as the opposition of colonels suddenly becoming economists, and fighting for their own interests, or the interests of those connected with them, and desiring to establish in this country a military caste. He was himself neither a soldier nor the son of a soldier, and had no interest in the Army as regarded over-regulation prices. At any rate, his interest was less than that of the right hon. Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey), for though he had a son in the Army, his son was only a lieutenant, while the son of the right hon. Member for Morpeth was a major or colonel. But that contest had not been carried on by colonels in the sense insinuated. He understood that there were only four colonels in that House receiving full-pay, the other colonels having seats as Members of Parliament being either Militia colonels or retired colonels. Therefore, the charge that the opposition to the present measure arose from motives of pecuniary interest was most unjust, and it should be borne in mind that resistance to it had proceeded from both sides of the 910 House, and included the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz); Nottingham (Mr. Seely); Stroud (Mr. Dickinson); and Waterford (Mr. Osborne); all of whom had respectively criticized and denounced it in the severest terms. He could multiply instances of that nature—instances showing that whether they looked at speeches, or the Amendments on the Paper, stronger opposition to the measure had come from the Liberal than the Opposition side of the House. Then they were charged with suddenly becoming economists; but he could say that he had on many occasions expressed the opinion that the county did not get its money's worth for the amount voted in the Estimates; and he opposed the present Bill on the ground that it entailed now burdens, without establishing the military system on a sound and enduring basis. As to the charge that the Opposition wished to create a military caste, he would observe that it was to the creation of a military caste which the Bill would effect that objections had been taken; for when purchase was abolished, and when the Government got rid of that class of officers whom he ventured to think were the salt of the service, and substituted for them another class, who must make the Army their profession for their whole life, then a military caste would be practically established. Then came the question whether the Opposition had been factious, in treating upon which—making, in passing, an allusion to himself (Lord Elcho)—the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) summed up in a lucid and impartial way the conduct of the Opposition, and held out the example of a contrary course which he alleged they had pursued on the Irish Land Bill. But he understood that the hon. and learned Gentleman took occasion to tear that Bill to shreds. He had heard that hon. and learned Gentleman give utterance to the most admirable sentiments with reference to the security of property as affected by that Bill, and one naturally expected that he would support them on a division; but he had always some saving clause; his feeling for the Prime Minister, and his unwillingness to injure the Government, led him to abstain from recording his vote against them. But there really was no analogy whatever between the course taken by the Government on the Irish 911 Land Bill and the Army Organization Bill. The Ballot Bill was full of details, and there were numerous Amendments, some of them pictorial, showing the form of the tickets under which the poll at elections was to be taken. Suppose the Government had said the present system of conducting elections should cease, certain charges would be incurred by its abolition, various parties must be compensated; but they were resolved to give no information to the House as to what subsequent charges would be incurred; all they would say was, that they intended to substitute the principle of secret voting. Such a course would be similar to that which the Government had pursued in regard to this Bill. He ventured to say, therefore, that the Opposition, having resisted that course, had done only what was right, and that the faction, if it existed, was in the Government. Besides, he maintained public opinion was with the Opposition upon this question. He gathered this from the divisions that had been taken. The purchase clause was carried by a majority of 39, while Ministers boasted of a majority of 120; on the next Amendment the majority was 20; then the majorities were 19, and the last 16. These divisions were before Whitsuntide. After the holidays there was a snatch division, in which the Government had a larger majority, and the last division within the four corners of the Bill, upon which their majority dwindled down to 2. He therefore said public opinion was clearly with the Opposition on this question. And as to the way in which the Government had secured their majorities, all he need say was, that on one occasion he saw four hon. Gentlemen on the other side going into the lobby with the Opposition, when the Government Whip put his arms across the door and stopped them; they could not resist, and went away from the lobby into which they were going. How many had gone through the same process he could not tell; but the incident at least showed how majorities were got up. If, again, they looked into the public prints, they would find that the views advocated by the Opposition had been largely supported. But it was said by the Prime Minister that they had wasted the public time by discussing this matter so fully in Committee. Now, he would refer to a precedent set by the right hon. Gentleman the 912 Prime Minister himself on another Bill. The right hon. Gentleman would remember the Divorce Bill of 1858. [Mr. GLADSTONE: 1857.] Well, in 1857 the right hon. Gentleman was strongly opposed to that Bill for relaxing the law of divorce. He did not know whether he had changed his views—[Mr. GLADSTONE: No!] — but after what they had seen he did not despair. The right hon. Gentleman might yet go to the American system of what they called "free love." Did the right hon. Gentleman confine himself to one speech and one division against the Divorce Bill? No: he made three speeches against the Bill before it went into Committee, and 66 speeches before it was through Committee. Reverting to the treatment by the Government of the House of Commons upon the present Bill, he must say it was the more objectionable as the commencement of a system of personal government under the guise of a Liberal Administration. The minority, he repeated, had only done their duty, without at all exceeding the limits of Parliamentary government. But the result had been that the officers were denounced as incapable. When Balaklava was mentioned there was an approving smile on the lips of the Prime Minister. But Balaklava was in favour of the officers of the Army, not against them. If there was anything wrong in it—he did not say there was—it had occurred under the system of selection. The officers were said to be uneducated—he did not say they were, but if so it was not their fault, but the fault of the Government. [Lord EUSTACE CECIL: They are not incapable.] It was not for a moment to be supposed he coincided in such a disgraceful charge, for he maintained, on the contrary, that when tried the officers had never been found deficient; and it was the fault of the Government if they had not been like the Prussians accustomed to campaigning. For the first time the camps and manœuvres in Berkshire would give to the officers of the Army the opportunity of learning their duty at home in the field. The officers of the Army had been threatened, in the House, in the Press, by the Secretary of State for War, and by the right hon. Baronet the Chairman of the Over-regulation Price Committee (Sir George Grey), that they would not get over-regulation prices. 913 He would call that not confiscation, but repudiation, for everything showed that they were absolutely bound in honour to pay over-regulation prices; the meanness of saying that because the Government had been beaten on the Bill they would not pay over-regulation prices was equalled only by its foolishness; and, as there might be weak-kneed people who would believe in the threat, it was necessary that the matter should be put fairly before the House. The Solicitor to the War Office, Mr. Clode, in an Appendix to the Report of the Over-regulation Commission, said that prices more or less in excess of the regulation had always existed in the Army was scarcely open to doubt, nor was it less certain that the Crown, through its responsible officers, was cognizant of it, and the concluding paragraph of the Report stated that there had been a decided acquiescence in the practice, amounting, in the opinion of the Commissioners, to a virtual recognition of it by the civil and military Departments and authorities. Speaking in 1868, when he calculated that £7,126,000 represented the regulation prices, the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Financial Secretary (Captain Vivian) added that justice required an addition to be made for the sums paid under the system which had been connived at, and he was certain the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not say that officers were to be dealt harshly with and denied compensation, because the Government had failed to pass their Bill in its completeness. That over-regulation prices had been allowed could easily be proved, because they gave them the Reserve Fund of £1,700,000, and that promoted retirements, which would now cost them £1,200,000 a-year. In 1869, when a Question was asked by the right hon. and gallant Member for Wenlock (General Forester), about four cornetcies of the Secretary of State for War, he said the Reserve Fund would be called upon to provide the means of purchasing them, adding that new arrangements were to be made to bring that fund more directly under the control of Parliament; and yet the Prime Minister had spoken of the fund as a mere trifle. Under these circumstances, it was unwise and undignified to use threats which would not be acted upon, and to accuse officers of breaking a declaration which was analogous to the 914 declaration against electoral corruption that used to be required of hon. Members, and which was at last set aside because it was not wise to press it. The state of the case was this — In obedience to public demand, the Government brought in a Bill which proposed to settle the whole question; it would not have done that had it been carried in its entirety; owing to opposition it had been reduced to a simple Purchase Bill, involving unknown expenditure for an unknown result; they knew that the cost was at least £8,000,000, and that they must sooner or later have a retirement scheme, which would cost £1,250,000 a-year; and the main questions, which thy wished to see settled were left untouched. Speaking only for himself, he was confident he had expressed the opinion of those who had patriotically and conscientiously resisted the progress of the measure. They had done so because they wished to see the question of military organization satisfactorily settled; but instead of settling it, the Bill shirked the question and pandered to popular prejudice and ignorance. If the Bill had in any way given effect to the original account of what it was intended to do, it would have found its warmest supporters amongst hon. Gentlemen who, sitting on both sides of the House, had been unwillingly obliged to fight this great national question to the death. He was glad it would leave the House as a fragmentary measure, because, if it were passed, although it did not add one iota to their strength, it would otherwise be made an excuse for doing nothing more, and there would be danger of their falling into their former state of apathy, induced by money-getting and the shirking of personal sacrifice in the matter of military service — a result which there was reason to fear from the reception given to such melancholy trash as The New Armada, in quarters where different things might have been expected, and by authorities which in November were urging the country, not to such a measure as this, nor anything approaching it, but to nothing short of a system of conscription. Then, had the Bill become law, they would have been in danger of falling into the condition he had described, and the country could only have been aroused by another European war or some internal disaster. The Government had not done their duty in 915 foisting upon the House such a miserable Bill; and in the conduct of the whole matter they had gone far to degrade that deliberate Assembly into a mere instrument to seal the record of the foregone conclusions of the Government and the unknown intentions of the Executive. Holding those views, he begged leave to propose his Resolution as a protest against the measure, and in order to give the House an opportunity of repudiating the position to which the Government desired to reduce them.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is inexpedient to consider the Bill, as amended, until the whole of the scheme of the Government for the first appointment, promotion, and retirement of Officers, together with an estimate of its probable or possible ultimate cost, have been laid upon the Table,"—(Lord Elcho,)
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he was unfortunately not in the House when the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) began his speech; but he had been informed that the noble Lord alluded to the position which he erroneously supposed his (Sir George Grey's) son held in the Army, thereby implying that he had a pecuniary interest in the passing of this Bill. The noble Lord was wholly mistaken. His son was several years in the Army; but he sold out of the Army more than six years ago, and the only Commission he now held was that of a major in the Northumberland Militia, and neither he nor himself (Sir George Grey) had the slightest pecuniary interest in the passing of this Bill; in fact, had he possessed any such interest in that event as had been inferred, he should have hesitated before he undertook the duties of Chairman of the Commission appointed to inquire into the subject. Neither had he, as his noble Friend implied, used any threat with reference to the officers. He stated, on a former occasion, as strongly as he could, that it would be in his opinion most unjust to officers, who had acted only in accordance with a long-established system, unchecked by any authority, to withhold from them an equitable consideration of the claims they had acquired in respect of over-regulation price. He concurred in every word of the Report of the Royal Commission, which, in fact, was drafted by 916 himself. Every part of that Report, expressed his own opinion, and was adopted, with the exception of a slight modification. He had stated that it was impossible for the Government to let the Report of the Commission lie on the Tables of both Houses without taking any step to sever themselves from all complicity with the habitual violation of the law set forth in that Report. He had also expressed an opinion that one mode of effecting this would be to repeal the Act of George III., which imposed penalties on those who paid over-regulation prices; but he added that as no one had proposed such a course the only other plan they could adopt was that embodied in the Bill of putting an end to over-regulation payments for the future by abolishing purchase altogether. He did not allude, however, to officers who had already paid the over-regulation price; but he said that with regard to the future, he thought it was the bounden duty of the Government to declare in the most explicit way that they would no more be parties to this violation of the law, that they should take every means in their power to stop this practice, and that they would not recognize future claims founded on a continuance of an illegal practice. He could not concur in the opinion of the noble Lord with reference to the Bill. Irrespective of all party feeling, he hoped that consideration for the discipline of the Army, as well as for the interests of the officers, would produce wiser counsels than those which the noble Lord hoped would prevail in "another place." He believed that it would be most injurious to the Army if this question should be made a hustings' question throughout the country. Although no doubt many officers in the Army were in favour of the continuance of the purchase system, yet he believed the general feeling of the officers of the Army was that if purchase is to be abolished, the terms proposed by the Government were just and liberal. He trusted, therefore, that the Bill would become law.
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
said, he wished merely to say a word about the unpopularity of the Bill. Last night they were told that there were in favour of the Ballot Bill 45 Petitions, signed by 7,500 people. What did the House suppose was the number of Petitions in favour of this Bill? One, signed by two 917 persons. There were, on the other hand, 217 Petitions against it, signed by 10,653 people.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, it was perfectly right that the discipline of the Army was a consideration that should not be lost sight of, and therefore whatever might happen to the Bill he hoped the purchase question would be settled for good and all. But he believed it could only be settled by the adoption of a moderate course by the Government, who had still time to accept the proposals in reference to payment of regulation and over-regulation price made by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) and the hon. Baronet the Member for Norwich (Sir William Russell), and exchanges, as proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Colonel Anson). If they refused to pay attention to those propositions the blame of disorganization would rest with them. He was sure that if the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had had the moral courage to produce a decisive measure he would have met with the cordial support of those who had opposed that Bill.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he had hitherto taken no part in the discussions on that Bill, believing it would be better left to military authorities to deal with the subject; but he could not forbear at that stage from giving expression to the dissatisfaction entertained by people out-of-doors with the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. Last year there was a panic in the country arising from the state of the Continent, and that panic was increased by the position of affairs in the East. In Her Majesty's gracious Speech she was made to say that no time would be lost in laying before Parliament a Bill for the better regulation of the Army and the land forces. But the Government had done nothing except what, in the opinion of military authorities, would be of great injury to their Army. He was in company with several foreign military men lately, and they were perfectly astonished at what was being done. They said that England possessed a very small Army, but it was perfect. General Trochu had stated that it was small, but admirable, and that they were entering upon an experiment that might hereafter prove most destructive to the welfare of it as a permanent in- 918 stitution; and now the Government were going to destroy purchase, which was the mainstay of it as a military system. In case of danger arising, how should we stand? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War said he was improving the military service, but the most important part of the Bill had been withdrawn. He was only expressing the dissatisfaction of civilians that that Session should have been allowed to pass without any step being taken to increase the security of the country in case of danger.
said, the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) who had introduced that question had spoken very frequently in the course of the discussions on the Bill. He had spoken at great length, and, as always, with great ability; but he must be pardoned for saying that the noble Lord had very frequently, but never more absolutely than on that occasion, spoken very little to the point. He did not blame the noble Lord, who was a very well-intentioned person. He had no doubt the noble Lord was actuated, as he told the House, by an earnest desire to do the State some service. He did not impute anything factious to the noble Lord, or those who agreed with him; on the contrary, he believed all those hon. Gentlemen, in common with the noble Lord, were honestly and conscientiously opposed to the Bill. But what was the reason the noble Lord had spoken at such length, and so little to the purpose? It was because the noble Lord was dealing with a subject with which he was not entirely familiar. The noble Lord had described himself to-day as a civilian. For some time the noble Lord had been a great champion of the Fine Arts, and those who watched his career in that House thought he might well aspire to occupy the post now filled by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Tower Hamlets; whereas now there were rumours abroad that the noble Lord actually aspired to the office filled by his (Captain Vivian's) right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. Whether that were so or not, if hon. Members went into the Library they would find that the noble Lord still toyed with his old love, though he had taken on with a now. But in these discussions the noble Lord depended very much upon others for his military information, and he was not 919 able to digest all which he swallowed. He would give two illustrations. The noble Lord had talked of the son of the right hon. Member for Morpeth being in the Army, when the fact was he had left it six years ago; and then the noble Lord had given Notice that he would move for an Address for a Return of the Household Troops that had paraded on the Queen's birthday, by way of showing to the country the force we had got in London to fight a future Battle of Dorking. [Lord ELCHO said, it was suggested by the commanding officer of a regiment.] Well, then, either the commanding officer had intentionally misled the noble Lord, which he was perfectly certain was not the case, or else he must congratulate that gallant officer on having arrived at the command of a regiment before selection was substituted for purchase. The strength of the brigade was 4,151; but if the country was to judge of the fighting power of the Guards in London from the Address which the noble Lord intended to move, they would concludes that only 650 men were available. The noble Lord, in opposing the second reading, told the House that the Bill was nothing but a Purchase Bill, and he scoffed at the idea of calling it an Army Regulation Bill. But when his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War proposed to withdraw a portion of the Bill, then the noble Lord changed his note, and said—"Oh, you have withdrawn the most importaut part of your measure;" and as a climax, on that, the third reading, declared that the Bill had collapsed like a soap-bubble, and that nothing but the suds remained. The noble Lord had also said—"You can do everything you want without passing this Bill." Quite true, he admitted it; but with what justice to the officers? Let the House look to the five second lieutenant-colonels of cavalry now reduced, and see where their interests had gone. What was happening in the reduction of the companies of infantry regiments from 12 to 10? And what had happened last year when his right hon. Friend was endeavouring to carry out the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), for abolishing the rank of ensign and cornet? What interests came then into play? Therefore, he maintained that his right hon. Friend could not carry out his alterations with- 920 out the Bill, except at great pecuniary sacrifice on the part of the officers, and the first step towards doing justice to them was to abolish purchase The noble Lord had also told the House that Her Majesty's Government had treated the House very badly because they had not told the public anything, and then in the next breath he told the House that Her Majesty's Government were going to substitute selection for seniority. [Lord ELCHO: What kind of selection?] Government said it meant that in future no officer who was not qualified should be advanced, and that there should be a system of seniority tempered by selection. But the noble Lord wanted to have everything done in a moment. The fact was, the reform of the Army must be made gradually, and the first step towards it was the abolition of purchase. Until that was done it would be impossible to do justice to the officers. The noble Lord had said that the Government had uttered threats. But he defied the noble Lord to bring forward a single word in any speech that had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Surveyor General, or himself, which could be construed into a threat. They had claimed support for the Bill on the ground that it would be an advantage both to the officers and to the public, and had not uttered a single word by way of threat. He agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey) that purchase was doomed, and also with his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) that it would be a great misfortune to the Army if anything happened to hang up this Bill for a year. That would be a great misfortune to the Army and the country, and therefore he hoped the noble Lord would not protract the discussion to the length which a celebrated trial was now occupying, but that he would allow the House to proceed to a division.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he hoped the House would agree with the last suggestion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Financial Secretary, though the general tone of his speech was rather provocative of continued debate. It was not desirable to pursue the debate on the present occasion, The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord 921 Elcho) had expressed his opinions with remarkable ability and power; he had delivered a protest against the measure, and in a manner which would not be forgotten. But they were awaiting an important debate on the third reading of the Bill, when an opportunity would be afforded of entering upon many of the subjects which had just been mentioned. He therefore trusted that this part of the discussion would end, and that the Report on the Bill would conclude to-day.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered.
§ LORD ELCHO
, in rising to move the following clause—That no soldier shall be permitted to enter the Reserve Force until he shall have completed his twenty-third year,said, he earnestly hoped that as everything was tentative, his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War would not, any more than a fisher, be satisfied with one bait and one hook, but try different modes of inducing men to come into the Reserve, and that both the system of pension and pay should be attempted. If a man entered the Army at 18, he was unfit, either physically or in the matter of discipline, to enter the Reserve at 21; and to improve the discipline, solderly feeling, and esprit de corps of the Army, he proposed that at whatever age a man entered the Army, the minimum age at which he should be allowed to enter the Reserve should be 23. But he would be satisfied with an undertaking from the right hon. Gentleman that, as far as practicable, Government would not allow men to enter the Reserve under that age.
§ Clause (Age for entry into Reserve Force,)—(Lord Elcho,)—brought up, and read the first time.
MAJOR GENERAL SIR PERCY HERBERT
asked, what was proposed to be done with regard to the proposed Amendment for securing compensation to non-purchase officers in certain cases?
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
said, that the hon. and gallant Member for Sussex had been in communication with the draftsman 922 of the Bill, and two letters had passed between them. It was in evidence, according to the opinion of the draftsman of the Bill, that the words in the Bill were sufficient to cover the whole of his (Lord Eustace Cecil's) Amendments. He did not think that was the opinion of the hon. Member for Sussex, but at the same time he recommended that the two letters should be placed side by side in some safe custody, with the opinion of the draftsman of the Bill, so that in case litigation should arise in future the letters could be referred to.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
called the attention of the Secretary of State for War to a rumour which was in general circulation, as to the course taken by him on the subject of short service enlistment. The rumour was that about March or April last an Order was issued from the War Office, inviting all men who had served the Crown for three years to enter the Army of Reserve; that shortly afterwards so large a number of men accepted the proposal that the Secretary of State took alarm, and issued another Order to stop any men from entering the Reserve; and that more recently a third Order had been issued, inviting some of the men who had left the Army to join the Reserve to come back again and serve with the colours. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to contradict this report, because it gave an idea of vacillation on the part of the Government which would excite great alarm and annoyance.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he was glad that he could entirely contradict the rumour. An Order, dated March 22, had been issued for this reason—It was thought very desirable, although at the time the number of men required for the infantry had been obtained, not to stop recruiting, for the Government desired that the First Army Reserve should be materially strengthened. His right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) had on one occasion called the First Army Reserve a "ridiculous little force." As his right hon. Friend was the author of that force, it was curious that he should thus disparage it. When the present Government came into office it was about 1,000 strong; and the object of their legislation last year was to strengthen that Reserve. They took power to remove into the Reserve any men who were willing 923 to enter it after three years' service. When they found that the infantry was full, they still thought it not right to stop recruiting. Such a step was mischievous for several reasons—because we had no conscription; because our Army had the greatest amount of foreign service of any Army in the world; because, also, there were in this country high wages, a fluctuating labour-market, and, in consequence, a migratory population. They must, therefore, consult the feelings and wishes of those whom they desired to enlist, and they could not do a worse thing than be perpetually altering the terms they were offering. It was desirable to make those terms familiar and acceptable to recruits. Under these circumstances, the Government desired not to stop recruiting, and also to add to the First Army Reserve. They therefore issued an Order, not, as was alleged, inviting everybody who had seen three years' service with the colours to go into the Reserve, but stating that well-conducted men belonging to regiments of infantry of the Line at home, if of the prescribed age and otherwise eligible, and of not less than three years' service, would be permitted to enter the Reserve "within such limits as may be found necessary as to numbers." This Circular had been misunderstood, as though it were an invitation to everybody who chose to enter the Reserve; but the words he quoted showed that the offer was subject to limitations. The result of the Circular was that 22 sergeants, 186 corporals, and 2,462 privates desired to avail themselves of the invitation. The Government had always been told—"What is the use of offering 4d. a-day? Men will not take it." He was glad, therefore, to find that over 2,000 of the rank and file were willing to take it. He was also happy to say that the Government were not now withholding permission to go into the Reserve; and this "ridiculous little force" amounted to between 6,000 and 7,000 men, 9,000 being the whole number taken in the year's Estimates. With regard to the recent Order referred to by his right hon. Friend, he believed it was a Circular pointing out to the men the terms on which they might go into the Reserve, and the conditions on which, if at all, they would be permitted to return to the service. It was nothing of the kind mentioned by his right hon. Friend. With 924 regard to the question of the right hon. and gallant Member for South Shropshire (Sir Percy Herbert), it was said in the discussion on the Bill, that the non-purchase officer, after 20 years' service, would not get the full value of his commission. At the time he thought the Bill did give this compensation, and the draftsman who had been consulted did not deem it necessary to amend the clause. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) admitted, with regard to the Reserve, that any scheme must be tentative; and the reason he (Mr. Cardwell) had declined to lay upon the Table a cut-and-dried scheme was, that it would be mischievous to represent that certain things were fixed and settled as the condition of passing a Bill when they knew that everything they did must be tentative. The Government were extremely desirous that the men in the Army and the Reserve should not be men of extreme youth, but should be of an age the most suitable for military service. But according to the system of long service, whether in the Crimean War, in the Indian Mutiny, or upon an emergency like that which lately led the House to add 20,000 to the Army, they were compelled to make any such addition with young men, and hence complaints that they died off like flies. But establish, as they were now doing, an Army Reserve, and then they called to the ranks men who had passed through the Army in their youth, and who, when they called upon them to return for actual warfare, were exactly of the age you wished—from 20 to 30 years old, men capable of rendering the services which the Prussian Army rendered during the late campaign. The noble Lord seemed to think that short service and 4d. a-day discouraged men from the service. This however, was not the case. A short time ago, when the infantry was full, recruiting was limited to six years with the colours and six with the Reserve; and he was informed that the recruiting for the infantry during four weeks in May produced a larger number of recruits, though they were only taken for short service, than in any year since 1859. In the six weeks from April 1 to May 6 there were, on the whole, 2,238 recruits, of whom 418 were for short service; and then, when the recruiting was limited to six years and six, there 925 were, from May 6 to June 17, 2,678 recruits, of whom 1,545 were infantry for short service. He did not say this fact was conclusive, but as far as experience went it encouraged him to believe that for short periods of service they would find men ready and willing to join the standards. If so, an immense advantage would be gained. The financial saving effected with regard to the pension list was very important, and the moral and social advantage derived from bringing men into the service for only a brief period, instead of for a long period of enforced celibacy, was still more important; and the advantage to the country in the matter of military defence was also very great. Altogether, he was exceedingly sanguine that the experiment would be successful. The complaint in reference to sending young men to India was no new one, and it had no peculiar connection with the system of short service; for even before there was any limitation at all in the period of service there was the same complaint. He hoped that they would be able to give effect to the wish of the House upon that subject, but he could not say that he was prepared to assent to any statutory limitation with regard to the age for going into the service; he did not desire to go further than this—that was to say, that they desired that they should get into the Army and into the Reserve men of the age most suitable for military service, but in certain cases it might be extremely convenient to be able to put men into the Reserve without a strict limit as to age. When they came to work the system of short service they would have to consider carefully the case of the regiments upon the rota for India, so as to fill them up with men who had the longest period to serve.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, that 6,000 men would have to be relieved in India every year, and he thought that there would be some difficulty in doing this under the short-time system.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War appeared to think that some definite plan should be arrived at; yet at the same time that he should like to have the opportunity of enlisting upon such terms as he should think best, so as to enlist men for the full period to go to India. Now, that would be a very mischievous proceeding. The recruits liked 926 to know what their term of service would be. It would be far better to say positively that there should be six years in the Army and six years in the Reserve, because then the men would understand it.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that there had not been any inconvenience experienced at present from enlisting men for different periods of service. The arrangements for sending troops to India had been entered into with the concurrence of the Indian Government, and there would be a saving of expense by sending only short service men to India, because those short service men would not be allowed to take wives and children with them.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the said Clause be now read a second time," put, and negatived.
§ EARL PERCY
said, that the position of the Volunteer force was by no means a very desirable one at that moment, for they were alternately coaxed, laughed at, and censured, and although it was constantly said, they could not rely on their Reserve forces, nothing appeared to be done to increase their efficieny, and he believed that the great portion of the Volunteers would bear with satisfaction the imposition of a stricter degree of discipline. Greater powers should be given to officers of the Reserve force. At present they had only the powers given them under the 21st clause of the Volunteer Act—namely, the power to place a man under arrest during the continuance of parade, and the power of dismissal. He thought they should have the power of imposing fines for other offences than those at targets, provided for in the by-laws of certain regiments. It was most undesirable that the power of dismissal should be the only one possessed by a commanding officer. The punishment of dismissal was either too great or too small. He, therefore, moved the following clause:—Any Volunteer committing any of the offences mentioned in the Volunteer Act, 1863, Clause 21, shall, in lieu of or in addition to the penalties therein enumerated, be liable at the discretion of the commanding officer for the time being of the corps to which he belongs, or of the administrative brigade of which it forms a part, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds, subject to such rules and regulations with regard to the procedure against such offender as to the ascertaining and registering the offence as may from time to time be drawn 927 up by one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State; and the provisions of the Volunteer Act, 1863, Clauses 21 and 27, affecting the revision of the decisions of commanding officers as well as the recovery of the fines inflicted under such decision, shall for all such purposes be deemed to form part of this Act.
§ Clause (Additional powers to commanding officers of Volunteer corps,)—(Earl Percy,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ COLONEL C. H. LINDSAY
said, he looked upon the Amendment of the noble Earl the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) as one calculated to do a great deal more harm than benefit to the Volunteer service, because it would introduce a system of coercion of a very distasteful character. He always considered the imposition of fines on Volunteers to be most objectionable, especially as from experience it had been proved to be almost impracticable—from the impossibility of recovering them. The very fact, therefore, of their evasion would be a breach of discipline, and it would be nothing more or less than a premium upon insubordination and disobedience. At the commencement of the Volunteer movement the system of imposing fines was introduced into every code of regimental and corps regulations, with the view of preventing certain irregularities, which it was thought it might check; and the best reason why it would be inexpedient to recur to that system was, that there was probably not a single battalion or corps in the service that kept the imposition of fines in its code of regulations. It was wrong on principle, because it was obviously distasteful to men who volunteered their services for a national object—such as defence against invasion. He was surprised to hear from the noble Earl such a reflective account of insubordination in the Volunteer service as compared with the Militia during the last nine years. He considered that the tone and character of a corps, as to its discipline and general contentment, was dependent, to a great extent, upon its commanding officer, who, from the fact of his undertaking the command of men who had volunteered con amore to fulfil certain duties, had the opportunity of endearing himself to them; and he felt strongly that if a commanding officer was unable to conduct the tone and bearing of his regiment without having recourse to the 928 system of fines, the sooner he left it the better, and if the regiment could not be carried on with credit to the country, without such an exaction, the sooner it was dissolved the better. Then, what were these fines alluded to by the noble Earl intended to effect? They were intended to enforce more efficiency for one thing—a coercion which would signally fail. The noble Earl said that greater powers should be given to officers of the Reserve forces. He (Colonel C. H. Lindsay) contended that they did not want greater powers—they had quite enough; the only fear he had was, that what they had was about to be diminished. He argued that attendance at drill, and parade, and reviews could not be enforced in the Volunteer service, when not embodied, as it would be in time of emergency; and it was useless to argue that it could without endangering its position throughout the country. It must be borne in mind that the Volunteer service was composed of men of business, whose time was not their own, and it often happened that when members had to attend an early parade, or drill, they had a portion of their wages deducted, owing to their absence from their employment. Now, men who had wives and families dependent upon them, could not afford to lose money in such a manner, without any chance of a return, and when they did so in a national cause; and there was no doubt that commanding officers did their best to secure the attendance of their men, and the men, with few exceptions, could not be Volunteers at all unless they wished to perform their duties as far as they could. But, he repeated, that being men of business, it was impossible to enforce such attendance, and if commanding officers, by good feeling and persuasion, could not succeed in procuring all their men at once, and when they wished it, no Government pressure or coercion, such as forfeiture of capitation grant after being earned, or the imposition of fines, such as the noble Earl had sketched out, would have the slightest effect; but it would tend to drive men out of the service. He remarked that there was little or no insubordination amongst the battalions of the Metropolis, which made up a large force. The instances to which the noble Earl alluded, such as in reference to the demonstrations in favour of Jules Favre, 929 were exceptional, and were dealt with in an exceptional manner by instant dismissal by the commanding officer, who possessed that power in order to deal with extreme cases. It had been said that dismissal was not so severe a punishment as imprisonment; but he considered any punishment of the severest character in a service such as that of the Volunteers. He wished to see the Volunteer service left alone; they had been worked up to a high pitch of efficiency as Volunteers and civilians, much higher than the country had the slightest idea of, and they neither required the Mutiny Act or Martial Law to regulate their conduct after 11 years probation. He hoped, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government would not entertain the Amendment of the noble Earl.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he must oppose the clause as one which would tend to drive men out of the ranks of the Volunteer service.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he was sorry he could not accept the clause, and he pointed out that by the 27th clause of the Volunteer Act commanding officers had now the power of making their own rules.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, it was most unreasonable and inexpedient to subject the Volunteers to the rigid rules of the Mutiny Act.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the said Clause be now read a second time," put, and negatived.
MR. ALDERMAN W. LAWRENCE moved the following clause:—
Nothing in this Act contained shall affect the raising and application of the Trophy Tax as heretofore levied and applied in the City of London.
He explained that this was a tax of a penny in the pound upon property in the City of London to defray the expenses of its Militia. He was not aware how it came to be called the Trophy Tax. The Government had assented to the clause.
§ Clause (Saving as to Trophy Tax,)—(Mr. Alderman Lawrence,)—added.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
, who had given Notice of the following Proviso at the end of Clause 3:—Provided notwithstanding, that if any officer, being on half-pay upon the said appointed day, 930 shall prove to the Commissioners that he has been last placed upon half-pay by reason of the reduction of the establishment or the disbandment of his corps, he shall, for purposes of compensation under this Act, be deemed to be on full-pay of the corps from which he has been so displaced on retirement,expressed his regret at being precluded from moving it by reason of the Rules of the House. He, however, hoped that the Government would take the case of the officers referred to into consideration.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, he should support the request, and would mention the Canadian Rifles, the West India Regiments, and the Cape Mounted Rifles as the disbanded corps the officers of which were affected.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN moved, in Clause 6, page 5, line 6, after "lieutenants of counties," to insert "and to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland."
§ Amendment agreed to.
MR. DICKINSON moved, in Clause 6, page 5, line 15, after "force," to insert—
And all commissions held on the appointed day by officers in the Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers shall be deemed to have been so issued.
§ COLONEL C. H. LINDSAY
said, he concluded that the object of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Dickinson) was to secure that all commissions, which were at present held by officers in the Reserve forces, should he converted into Queen's commissions as soon as the Bill was passed into law. In that case he wished to know whether, in the event of the officers of the Reserve forces holding commissions from Her Majesty, they would enjoy the same privileges in every respect as the officers of the Army; and whether their social position, no matter what it previously might have been, would be at once elevated to that of the officers of the Regular Army? He also wished to be informed whether these commissions, which used to be held from Her Majesty, would be actually signed by her? He gathered that they would be, for according to the wording of the clause the intention was so expressed. Notwithstanding which, he wished to know whether the parchment documents, which were supposed to be issued to the officers, would bear the signature of Victoria R?
§ LORD ELCHO
said, an impression had gone abroad that they would be, and that that fact had caused the acceptance of the transfer of power from the Lords Lieutenant to the Secretary of State for War. He wished to know if that were so, and if Volunteer officers were to be placed exactly in the position of officers of the Regular Army? When he was in the field he was as much under the discipline of the officer commanding as any officer of the Regular Army; but when his uniform was off, and those of his men's, they ceased to be soldiers, and were absolutely civilians, and he should repudiate holding the commission of a Volunteer officer if that position were altered. By the rules of the service officers were prevented from criticizing the acts of the War Department; but he should object to being deprived of the liberty of speaking and writing his opinion of the acts of any Secretary of State for War. He objected to his losing by a stroke of the pen his civil liberty. In conclusion, he should like to know whether Volunteer officers were to be presented at Court?
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he had already stated that the rules which regulated presentations at Court were not within his Department. He was not sanguine if this or any other clause could deprive the noble Lord of his civilian character, or control his freedom of speech within or without that House. The clause provided that Volunteer and Militia commissions should be prepared the same as commissions in the Army.
§ COLONEL RUGGLES-BRISE
said, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would give the House some further pledge or security that in future the local element would be confirmed, and that the Lords Lieutenant should have the first recommendation for appointments in the Militia.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he concurred that it was desirable to keep up the local connection of the counties with the Militia corps, especially with regard to first appointments.
§ MR. CHARLEY
said, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, whether it would be necessary to have a question put to Lord Sydney in order to obtain a satisfactory reply to the questions that had been put relative to presentations at Court?
said, it would not be within his province to advise Her Majesty on the question of receptions at Court; and if the question were put to Lord Sydney he thought the noble Lord would respectfully deprecate the introduction of such matters within the arena of politics.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD ELCHO
, in rising to ask the House to strike out Clause 9, which proposed to put the Volunteers under the Mutiny Act, said, every man in that country was bound by statute law to undertake the defence of the country; but they shirked the duty: case-loving and money-making Englishmen shirked their first duty, while every Belgian, Swiss, Frenchman, and German were obliged to undertake the defence of their country. The Government shirked the question. Both sides shirked it, though they knew in their hearts that everything else was beating about the bush, and that they could not organize anything until they put on the screw. But they had not the courage. Some time ago there was an alarm in the country, the patrotism of the people was appealed to, and within 12 months 23,000 men marched before the Queen in Hyde Park, and from 1859 until now there had been nearly 200,000 Volunteers. In other words, these men had undertaken the duty which the rest of the country shirked. For 12 years the Volunteers had given up their amusements, and were doing their duty without pay. And now Her Majesty's Government wanted to bring these men under the Mutiny Act. He wanted to know why? It was said that it was necessary to make the Volunteers efficient. That was one of the humbugs and impostures of the whole of this Bill. It did nothing to make the Volunteers efficient. It did not give the Secretary of State any authority over them which he had not at present, nor the commanding officer any power to make his men efficient which he did not now possess. Wherein was the want of efficiency? Not in the lack of discipline, but in this—that they could not say to the men—"You must come out a certain number of days, and if you do not something will befall you." He said deliberately as a Volunteer, that that country was under a great debt of gratitude to the force for having for 12 years taken upon itself the duty of pub- 933 lic defence. The Volunteers were not as efficient as their commanding officers could wish; but to make them efficient powers must be given which the Government shrank from giving. Service in the Volunteers should be an exemption from something worse. They must either lead men or drive them, and that proposition did neither; it simply cast a slur upon the Volunteers as an undisciplined force. What was the history of this matter? A feeling grew up in the Regular Army that possibly the views of hon. Gentleman below the gangway might some time prevail, and that, with pressure brought to bear on them, the Government might reduce the Army. Accordingly, men were sent to reviews to write down the discipline of the Volunteers, and a dead set was made on the force on that point. He looked upon the Volunteers as an adjunct of the Regular Army, and maintained they were not an undisciplined force. When they had got the men on parade there was discipline; there was silence in the ranks, and implicit obedience. The Secretary of State alleged that Volunteers could not be put into camp with Regular soldiers, as they would be under two different systems of law. But the two forces were totally different in their positions; the one was a paid and the other an unpaid force, and, therefore, what applied to the one ought not to apply to the other. He admitted that if the powers under the existing Act were not sufficient when the different forces were put into camp, or if the Volunteers showed any want of discipline, there would be something to be said in favour of this clause. But he maintained that the powers under the existing Act were ample. There was the power of dismissal. To a Militiaman dismissal might be a relief; but to the Volunteers it was a stigma. And then, if a Volunteer was insubordinate in camp he might be put under arrest, kept under arrest until the camp broke up, and then dismissed. The House ought not to apply to the Volunteers an Act which was not intended for them, which was not necessary, and which was a bad return on the part of the Government for services that had been willingly rendered; and he hoped the House would support him in doing justice to that force. He would, in conclusion, move the omission of Clause 9.
§ MR. ANDERSON
expressed a hope that the Government would accede to the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho). What was necessary with regard to the Volunteer force was an inducement to them to enter the service, and not the infliction of disabilities such as those which would arise from the operation of the clause in question.
§ COLONEL C. H. LINDSAY
said, he should certainly support the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) to omit that clause which applied to the Mutiny Act to Volunteers when in training with the Regular forces. He had on a former occasion expressed his opinion upon that unnecessary, and he must add insulting, application; and as one who had had some experience in the Volunteer service, and who had been a hard and devoted workman in the cause of national defence, he felt that to place such a badge of military bondage, even for a day, upon free and independent citizens, who came forward as they did gratuitously, to assist the comparative impotency of the country as a military nation, and who made themselves as efficient as it was possible for men of business to be, he felt that after 11 years of a nation's devotion of the cause—and after having been so justly though tardily eulogized by the leading statesmen of the day as well as by every nation in Europe—to be for the sake of a temporary quasi-convenience brought down to the level of private soldiers in time of peace, was a humiliation as uncalled for as it was unnecessary. Besides which, it was imposing a law upon citizens which it was not possible to enforce in time of peace, in the event of the provisions of the Mutiny Act being challenged by a Volunteer. He need not describe the numerous penalties to which soldiers were liable under the Mutiny Act—penalties which were chiefly composed of stoppages, which, considering that Volunteers had no pay could not be realized—penalties which, if pressed, could only be so by military law, and as he maintained that military law could not be applied to Volunteers when off duty, it would be a farce to attempt to carry it out. Moreover, the application of the Mutiny Act, which could only be a matter of form, would take away the power of commanding officers over insubordination, and other irregularities should 935 they occur—a power which was greater than that possessed by the Mutiny Act. He therefore entered his strongest protest against such a policy, which must be very prejudicial to the service.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
said, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War would consent to the striking out of the clause. He had voted in every division in favour of the Bill, believing the abolition of purchase to be absolutely necessary. But having had some experience of the Mutiny Act, he must say that he considered it utterly inappropriate to the Volunteer force in time of peace. The Volunteer Act of 1863 contained provisions quite sufficient for the preservation of discipline among the Volunteers in time of peace, and it provided that in times of emergency or danger the Volunteers should be placed under the Mutiny Act, and then they were entitled to be paid for their services. He thought the House ought to pause before sanctioning the retention of the clause now under consideration. The Mutiny Act was, in fact, a violation of the Constitution of the country. Since 1689, when it was first passed, it had been year by year passed as an annual Act, and he trusted the time would never come when it would be made a perpetual Act. The Militia were not placed under it till the year 1750, and the Yeomanry not until 1804. But its application to those bodies was no argument for its application to Volunteers. They were paid soldiers and could not resign, whilst the Volunteers were unpaid and could send in their resignation at any moment. The Volunteer force, too, was composed of a different class of men from ordinary soldiers, and the application of the Act to that force would deter many persons from joining it, because it would deprive them of the ordinary rights of Englishmen, and subject them in some cases to penal servitude for life, and in others even to sentence of death. Even in its application to the Militia there was a proviso that, during training or exercise, no punishment should extend to the loss of life or limb. In the present clause, however, there was no such exception. He considered that the present provisions for the discipline of the Volunteers was sufficient for the ordinary purposes of training, and that if the clause should 936 be passed it would be found impossible to apply it.
§ MR. MELLY
said, that having been connected with the Volunteers for several years, he had never found any difficulty in maintaining discipline, the power of dismissal being quite sufficient for that purpose. He trusted the clause would be withdrawn, because he believed that its passing would have a bad effect, and diminish the number of Volunteers who were in the habit of attending reviews.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, the Volunteer force had conducted itself not only to its own credit, but to the satisfaction of the country; but there was something more to be considered. The Volunteers aspired to be of use to the country in times of necessity. They wished to be associated with the Militia and the Regular Army. They wished to take on themselves the obligations of armed men. If so, they ought to be properly disciplined and treated in the same manner as the Regular Army. With respect to the pay, he thought the right thing for the Government to consider was, whether the suggestion of his noble Friend (Lord Elcho) had not something more in it than they had given it credit for, and whether some kind of conscription or compulsion was not necessary. The Volunteers behaved well, and would not fear going out under the clause now before the House. No good soldier or Militiaman was afraid of the Mutiny Act, and the Volunteers had no reason to be afraid of it. He believed that it would be a good thing for the force, and feeling that the country expected that they should attain more discipline, it was his intention to support the clause.
said, he did not think the application of the Mutiny Act to the Volunteers could be considered as at all insulting to them. He believed that they were ready for it, and were willing to place themselves under its discipline. As more money had been given to the Volunteers than they received formerly, he did not see why the reins of discipline should not be drawn more tightly, and why a certain number of days' drill in the year should not be made compulsory. Supposing there should be a camp consisting of 10,000 Volunteers, no officer would like to take the command of such a force unless they 937 were subject to the discipline of soldiers. He did not believe that the Volunteers would consider it any disgrace to be placed under the Mutiny Act, and wished to disclaim any such idea. With regard to the discipline of the force, he admitted that it was not in a satisfactory state. They must either go forward or backward. They could not remain where they were at present. When larger payments were made to the Volunteers the Government ought to expect greater efficiency, and it was absolutely necessary to consider what should be the future of the Volunteer force.
§ MR. BARROW
said, that having been for 32 years connected with the Volunteer force, he had never found any difficulty in keeping the men in an efficient state of discipline. He believed the Volunteer force to be essential to the welfare of the country. They had entered into a certain engagement with the Government, and he considered it a breach of contract to place them under the Mutiny Act.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, the object of the Government was that the Volunteers should be brigaded with the Regular troops, thus enabling them to take a part in those preparatory trainings which would fit them really to form a portion of our defensive forces. In the approaching campaign in Berkshire the proposal was to include Militia, Regular troops, and Volunteers, placing the whole under a General Officer, and training them to act together just as in an actual campaign. How was the discipline, how were the common proprieties of a camp to be maintained, except by vesting the whole power in a General Officer? It was true the commanding officers of Volunteers had certain powers over their men. Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? The General Officer was not to be subject to the question whether the commanding officers of Volunteers discharged their duties. It was necessary to arm him with the supreme command by law over the whole force. In Committee the same objection had been raised, and such high authorities as the hon. and gallant Members for Sussex (Colonel Barttelot), Berkshire (Colonel Loyd-Lindsay), South Derbyshire (Major Wilmot), and South Lancashire (Captain Egerton) supported the clause, the latter stating as he understood that there had been a meeting of Volunteer officers in his district, and there 938 had been no dissent as to their desire to submit to the Mutiny Act when associated with the Regular forces. The clause in the Bill had been represented as something new; but it was merely a proposal to apply to the Volunteers when exercised with the Regulars and Militia—that was, when put directly under military command for the purpose of training for war—that which Parliament had already applied to them when war was declared. The Government were endeavouring to throw together the forces of this country for the purpose of constituting one defensive force on an efficient basis. Did the Volunteers desire to be thus associated? If so, they must be under the same command and submit to the same discipline as other soldiers. How could we expect the same discipline from the Militia and Regulars if the Volunteers, when brigaded with them, were not subject to the same conditions? This proposal was made with a desire to compliment the Volunteers, as forming one of the real defences of the country, and he hoped it would be accepted on their part in the same spirit.
said, he had been requested by two distinguished Volunteer officers to say that they entirely dissented from the view taken by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) on this question.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out Clause 9.—(Lord Elcho.)
§ Question put, "That Clause 9 stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 212; Noes 30: Majority 182.
§ Bill to be read the third time upon Monday next.
§ It being now Seven of the clock, the House suspended its sitting.
§ The House resumed its sitting at Nine of the clock.