§ Order for Second Reading read.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, its object was simply to enable the necessary arrangements to be carried out for the manœuvring of troops in the several localities where it was intended they should take place during the ensuing autumn. In conclusion, he would say he trusted that any discussion that might be considered necessary would take place on a future occasion.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."'—(Mr. Secretary Hardy.)
§ MR. J. HOLMS,
who had a Notice of Motion on the Paper that the Bill be read a second time that day three months, said, his object was not to prevent the assembling of the forces, but he thought the House was entitled to more substantial explanations than it had yet been put in possession of. The real fact was that the object of the Bill was to provide further training of two Army corps, which was part of a scheme for the mobilization of troops which had not yet been submitted to the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
ruled that the hon. Member was out of Order in referring to the subject he proposed to discuss, which did not come within the scope of the Bill. He would have an opportunity of doing so on the Report of Supply, but in the present debate his doing so would be out of Order.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
thought the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman required careful consideration. The term "Army corps," was a term not known to Parliament, and this was practically the first formal introduction into Parliament of the Localization Scheme, upon which he should have thought, subject to correction, that his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney might have discussed the question.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, that this year the troops were allowed to encamp within the area of all lands specified in the Schedule, while last year they were only allowed to occupy uninclosed lands, and such as were pointed 1752 out by a Commission. This year there were nine areas, instead of one area, and the consequences would be very serious to many occupying private property. He asked that a copy of the Army Corps Training Bill, showing the alterations, might be laid on the Table before the second reading of the Bill was moved. There were not 10 Members in the House who knew what they were asked to assent to.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that, upon the point of Order, it was well to bear in mind that the Preamble of the Bill referred to "Army corps," a term quite new in legislation. He would like to know what it meant.
§ MR. STANLEY
said, although it ought to be pretty well known by this time what an Army corps was, he was willing to gratify the thirst of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite for all kinds of military information. It consisted of the three arms of the Service—namely, the Infantry, the Cavalry, and the Artillery combined. It was divided into divisions and brigades, the latter consisting of two or more regiments. He trusted that this information, and the assistance derivable from The Army Lists published since last December, would enable his hon. and learned Friend to approach the subject with more information than he had hitherto displayed to the House. This year private arrangements had been made with the owners of property where the troops were to be encamped; but it might happen that short distances of occupation, roads, and of ground otherwise in closed might require to be marked out. Unless such cases were provided for, a great portion of the Act of last year would be practically nugatory, and therefore it was necessary to modify its provisions. He thought the question might be more opportunely raised on the discussion of the Motion of which the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Captain Nolan) had given Notice.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
hoped that the important change which had been made in the organization of the Army would be fully discussed, and expressed his belief that the manœuvres did not injure private property anything like so much as fox-hunting.
§ MR. HAYTER
asked whether the Government would give the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) the 1753 opportunity of raising the question on the Report of Supply?
§ COLONEL MURE
thought it would he better to defer a discussion until the experiment had been tried. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War on the attempt which the Bill would make of placing the Army on a more satisfactory footing.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) had been imperfectly understood. What he desired to do was to call attention to the fact that the term "Army corps" was for the first time used in the proposed legislation, and he desired to ascertain whether the passing of the Bill would be construed into a Parliamentary recognition and sanction of the new mobilization scheme while there were Notices of Motion in the Order Book which impugned the whole scheme.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he would admit that the expression "Army corps" was for the first time used in a Parliamentary measure, and it had been used in The Army List only since December last. The Bill would not commit the House to an approval of that particular mode of dealing with troops which was known as mobilization; all that it would do was to authorize what was necessary to be done in calling out a body of troops whom it was proposed to form into two Army corps. With regard to another point, this mobilization scheme appeared in The Army List of December; it was commented upon in a pamphlet and in speeches by the hon. Member for Hackney; it was mentioned in the speech when the Army Estimates were brought in; there were four discussions upon them, and it remained to be discussed in connection with the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway. He did not think therefore he need enter into further explanations on the subject now.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow, at Two of the clock.