§ (Mr. Secretary Stanley, Mr. Secretary Cross, Hr. William Henry Smith, The Judge Advocate General.)
§ COMMITTEE. [Progress 5th July.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Legal Penalties in Matters respecting Forces.
§ Clause 147 (Apprehension of deserters or absentees without leave).
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
moved, in page 79, lines 19 and 20, to leave out " or absentee without' leave." That Amendment, he said, followed upon an Amendment of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had already acceded to, and would apply to all cases of absence without leave which occurred in the present clause.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. PARNELL
moved, in page 79, line 21, to leave out from the word " constable" to the word " person," in line 22, inclusive. He wished to restore the law to the same condition in which it existed in former times under the Mutiny Act, which was passed at the beginning of the present Session, when it was only possible for a constable to apprehend deserters. He had made his Amendment somewhat different to that which he put on the Paper on Sunday morning, as he found that that Amendment would not answer the requirements of the case. If hon. Members would look at the clause, they would find that it provided—That upon reasonable suspicion that a person is a deserter or absentee without leave, it shall be lawful for any constable, or if no constable can be immediately met with, then for any officer or soldier, or other person, to appre- 1729 hend such suspected person, and forthwith to bring him before a court of summary jurisdiction;and, by a subsequent provision, a reward of was to be given for the apprehension of such suspected person, if he proved to be a deserter. Now, in his opinion, that was a very dangerous power to give. By the clause, power was given to anybody to apprehend a man as a deserter if, at least, there was reasonable suspicion, or if he chose to say he had reasonable suspicion. In fact, it seemed to him that the clause could not be retained for a moment in its present shape, for it gave vague and indefinite power which would lead to complication. There was nothing to prevent him (Mr. Parnell) going into the Westminster Palace Yard and apprehending whoever he pleased, if he were to state that he believed him to be a deserter. Why not leave the clause as it originally stood? He had placed a subsequent Amendment on the Paper, which would allow an officer or soldier, if they could identify any person as a deserter, to apprehend him; but the Committee would observe there was a very wide difference between being able to identify a man as a deserter, and having reasonable suspicion that he was a deserter. He hoped the Secretary of State for War would be able to assent to the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 79, line 21, to leave out from the word " constable " to the word " person," in line 22, inclusive.—(Mr. Parnell.)
§ Question proposed, " That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ COLONEL STANLEY
could not assent to the proposal with respect to the apprehension of deserters by constables alone. If it were carried, an officer and soldier would be unable to apprehend a soldier they knew to be a deserter.
§ MR. E. JENKINS
said, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had misunderstood the object of the hon. Member for Meath. The hon. Member had put on the Paper a second Amendment, by which he proposed to give power to officers or soldiers to apprehend a man if they were able to identify him as a deserter.
§ MR. PARNELL
remarked, that if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had 1730 only looked at his Amendments, he would have seen that provision was made for the case he contemplated.
§ MR. HERSCHELL
said, there was some danger in allowing a soldier to apprehend a man as a deserter on reasonable suspicion, considering that they gave him a reward for doing so. The other day the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ayrshire (Colonel Alexander) stated that, in his practical experience, there was very great danger in giving a soldier power to arrest a man on reasonable suspicion. He (Mr. Herschell) thought that power might be given to a soldier or officer to apprehend a person who was known to be a deserter.
§ COLONEL ARBUTHNOT
said, that if the Amendment were carried, a man on service might desert from the advanced post, and a soldier or non-commissioned officer would be absolutely precluded from arresting him. [" No, no! "]
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman had misunderstood the object of the Amendment. An officer or soldier would always be justified in apprehending the right man.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, they must ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to give some attention to the clause, because it was open to serious objection. He saw great objection to giving the opportunity to persons to apprehend men on mere suspicion. This was a point upon which the hon. and learned Attorney General might, with advantage, give his opinion.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir JOHN HOLKER)
had pleasure in responding to the appeal of the hon. Member. The clause provided that if an officer, or soldier, or other person had reasonable suspicion that a man was a deserter, he had power to apprehend him. The man must not only be suspected of being a deserter, but the suspicion must be founded on reasonable grounds, in order to justify the apprehension. That being so, it did not appear to him that there was any valido bjection to the clause.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 254; Noes 62: Majority 192. — (Div. List, No. 151.)
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
rose to move that the Chairman do report Progress. 1731 [" Oh, oh!"] He did not do so with any intention of pressing the Motion to a division, but in order to call attention to the statement which was made to the House, when Mr. Speaker was in the Chair, by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. He was, unfortunately, out of the House when that statement was made; otherwise, he would have risen at once in his place and offered the remarks he was now about to make. He thought the statement of the Secretary of State for War was one which must have taken many hon. Members of the House by surprise, and must have caused great disappointment, especially to those hon. Gentlemen who were present during the early portion of the debate on Saturday morning. On that occasion they distinctly understood—he did not mean to say that they obtained a pledge from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to that effect—they distinctly understood that Her Majesty's Government intended to abolish the punishment of flogging. [" Oh, oh! "] He said they (the Opposition Members); he was not speaking for hon. Gentlemen opposite. He was speaking for himself, ands for many hon. Members on both sides of the House. Now, he begged to call the attention of the Committee to what took place on Saturday. At the commencement of the proceedings he made an appeal to the Government to re-consider the whole question, and asked them whether they thought it worth while to still further delay the progress of the measure by endeavouring to maintain the flogging clauses? Almost immediately, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman got up and made a statement, in which there occurred the words — " He hoped very shortly to make a statement to the House, which would be satisfactory to hon. Members on the opposite of the House." [" No, no! "] He admitted, in passing, that there might be some contest as to the words; but he was giving -what he understood to be the statement of the Secretary of State for War. Immediately after that statement, he (Mr. Chamberlain) rose in his place, and said he understood the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to indicate the intention of the Government to abolish flogging altogether, and that, under these circumstances, he, for one, 1732 proposed to withdraw any further opposition to the Bill. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) rose and explained that he had understood the statement of the Government in the same way; and, not only so, but the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) demanded that the Government should make a clear expression of opinion if they did not agree with what he (Mr. Chamberlain) had said. The Government remained silent; but at a later period of the Sitting he begged the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) to withdraw the Amendments he had upon the Paper to stop the progress of the Bill. He did so, on the ground that the statement previously made justified them in assuming that the punishment of flogging was to be entirely abolished. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. C. Beckett-Denison) urged the Government not to leave the matter in any ambiguity, because if they did' there was certain to be disagreement and trouble subsequently. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman then said he would repeat what he had previously stated. But he omitted—unintentionally, no doubt—the most important sentence of his former statement—namely, that he hoped the statement he had shortly to make would be satisfactory to hon. Gentlemen opposite. He (Mr. Chamberlain) re-called those words to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's mind, and thereupon he admitted the accuracy of his recollection. That was the most important part of what took place on Saturday; and he had looked to the newspapers to ascertain what was reported to have been said on the subject. Unfortunately, as was too often the case, the report was very greatly abbreviated. He found in The Tunes newspaper[" Order! "] He thought hon. Members of the House would bear with him, because it was very important that ho should be correct. In The Times he found he was reported to allege that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had said he would make a statement which would be satisfactory to hon. Gentlemen opposite, or words to that effect; and that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, in reply, admitted having expressed a hope that his statement would be satisfactory to the House. In The Daily News, he (Mr. Chamberlain) was re- 1733 ported to have said that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had promised a statement which would be satisfactory, and that those words were used by him in the face of the knowledge that almost the whole of the opposition to the present measure was directed against the practice of flogging; and in The Daily News it was reported that the Secretary of State for War admitted having used these words. He would be in the recollection of many hon. Members who were present on Saturday when he said that, finally, he rose and said that, having heard the admission of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, he remained of opinion that the interpretation he placed on his words was correct—that the practice of flogging was to be entirely abolished, and, under these circumstances, he would withdraw the Amendments he had put on the Paper. It was a matter of the first importance that right hon. Gentlemen occupying positions as Ministers of the Crown should carry out their engagements, not merely in the letter, but in the spirit; and, inasmuch as the interpretation he placed was allowed to be put on the words of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, and inasmuch as no hon. Gentleman rose to contradict his interpretation, he considered the Committee was justified in assuming—as many hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House did assume—that the practice of flogging was to be abolished. ["No ! "]] Well, he had not the least doubt that some hon. or right hon. Gentleman would get up and confirm what he said; but he appealed to his hon. Friends around him, who were present on Saturday, whether he had not correctly stated what then occurred? What was the proposal which the Government made? Instead of proposing to abolish flogging absolutely, they told the House they would retain flogging only for those offences for which death might be given in the Bill. Was the Committee aware of the nature of the offences for which death might be given? Why, in one clause, as they already know, death might be inflicted for forcing a safeguard. No one seemed to know what forcing a safe-guard meant, and perhaps it was not a matter of great importance. There were, however, some things much more serious; because, under the 6th clause of the Bill, death might be inflicted on 1734Any person who commits any offence against the property or person of any inhabitant of or resident in the country in which he is serving.Was it conceivable that any hon. Gentleman approved of a clause so general in its terms?
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
rose to Order, and inquired if it was competent for the hon. Member to discuss the provisions of the Bill which had already been dealt with?
said, the hon. Member for Birmingham was merely referring to the early clauses of the Bill, with the view of advancing the argument that Progress should be reported; otherwise the hon. Gentleman would not be in Order in discussing the merits of any clause of the Bill except the one at present before the Committee. Ho could not see that the hon. Gentleman was out of Order in thus merely referring to the clause.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, that under sub-section 7 of Clause 4 death might be inflicted on anyone whoMisbehaves or induces others to misbehave before the enemy in manner in this Act nut specifically mentioned.Now, his general argument was that the meaning of the two clauses to which lie bad referred was so general that it might be possible to inflict death for offences of the most trivial character. But no commanding officer would ever think of inflicting death for these offences; whereas he would inflict flogging if it were only retained. Not only was the concession of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman out of accord with what was understood to be the legitimate interpretation of his words on Saturday, but in itself it was thoroughly unsatisfactory, and could not be accepted by those who opposed—as he opposed—the practice of flogging. He hoped the Government, having given up so much, would not further delay the progress of the Bill in order to keep a mere remnant of a practice, the necessity of which they had admitted, by concessions already made, to be over-estimated.
§ COLONEL STANLEY
said, his conscience was quite clear on this matter. The hon. Member for Birmingham had given a description accurate, or nearly accurate, of the proceedings of Saturday last. They arose in this way. The Committee were then discussing the question of corporal punishment in pri- 1735 sons, which he then said was rather a' question for his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary than himself; but as the general subject of flogging was raised incidentally, he ventured to say that he hoped, when the Schedules came under consideration, to make a statement which would be satisfactory. Whether he said " satisfactory to hon. Gentlemen opposite " or not, he was not prepared to say, and it might not be in Order to refer to newspaper reports of his words; but his impression was that he said ho would make a statement which he hoped would be satisfactory. He had also pointed to other considerations—that means must be provided to maintain discipline in the Army; that he could not be placed between two fires by complaints being made that discipline was not kept up, while the means of doing this was refused. Then he went on to say that, after consultation with his Colleagues, he would be prepared to make an announcement which he hoped would be satisfactory. Then he was challenged by hon. Members, in various parts of the House, who accepted this, from their points of view, as an intimation of the entire abolition of the punishment of flogging. Well, after a certain time it became necessary for him to rise, and he then repeated, as far as possible with accuracy, what he had stated in the earlier part of the Sitting—namely, that he hoped, on the consideration of the Schedules, to make an announcement that would be satisfactory. But if his recollection served him right, he said he declined to be answerable for expressions of opinion it was attempted to fasten to his statements. To put it more conventionally, he refused " to be drawn; " his statement, he said, should be made on the Schedule, and that was his intention. Then something was said about it being desirable to make the statement as early as possible, and accordingly this had been done that afternoon. He thought that in defining—in limiting —the number of offences coming under the punishment, he had come to a decision which he hoped would have been satisfactory. He felt no scruples of conscience as to not having carried out an undertaking, if undertaking there was, given on Saturday. He had stated then what he was going to do, and he had carried that out since; and he now, as then, entirely declined to be bound by 1736 the interpretations of other persons, when he had done the best he could to fulfil what he promised.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
rose to suggest that discussion on the point raised by the hon. Member for Birmingham should be postponed until they reached a stage of the Bill on which the discussion could be more regularly raised. If there had been anything like a departure from an understanding arrived at—if there had been anything like the intention alluded to—he could understand why this point should be raised at the earliest moment. But, although some misunderstanding had arisen, no one could suppose for a moment that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had any intention of conveying a false impression to the mind of any hon. Member in the Committee. He mustsay, for himself, his belief was—and it was shared by many hon. Members present when the statement was made—that there was no such definite pledge given as the hon. Member for Birmingham supposed. He did not say it might not be a proper subject of discussion what was the exact nature of the undertaking then given; but he wished to point out that they could not discuss it now without entering into the merits of the proposal just made. He understood that there was a disposition on the part of many Gentlemen on his side of the House, who had been strongly opposed to corporal punishment, to give a fair consideration to the proposal of the Government, and he thought it was desirable that they should take time to consider what was the limitation proposed by the Government, and he thought it was desirable that they should take time to consider what was the limitation proposed by the Government. But if the Bill were proceeded with until the question could be more conveniently raised, then a great deal of time would be saved, and they would come to the Government proposal in a more satisfactory manner than in connection with the question raised by his hon. Friend. He was quite prepared, when the right time came, to state his views on the action of the Government; but, meanwhile, it would be more convenient to wait for another opportunity of discussing that new proposition.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
was not able, personally, to speak as to the intention expressed on Saturday; for, although he heard one statement made, he was not present throughout the dis- 1737 cussion. But the impression on his mind, from conversations with hon. Members who were in the House, was such that he had removed the Amendments standing in his name on the Paper, thus showing that the impression upon his mind was that the concession made by the Government was very great. But ho could not regret that his hon. Friend had taken this early opportunity of correcting the idea that they were satisfied with the concession made. As a matter of fact, this was no new idea, and had been under consideration for some time. As had been said, they were well aware that a large number of offences had attached to them the punishment of death; but, then, no officer would take the responsibility of inflicting such a punishment for any than a most serious offence; but, when flogging was provided as an alternative punishment, flogging would be inflicted much more frequently.
§ MR. OTWAY
had not in any way altered the opinion he had before expressed, and his desire to got rid of the punishment; but lie was bound to say the suggestion of the noble Lord was a desirable one to follow now—to stay any action at the moment until they had had time to consider the offences to which the proposal of the Government would apply. He was willing to admit that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had shown a desire to meet the views of the Committee to a certain degree; but he could not admit that this desire had brought about a satisfactory result. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had referred to the discipline of the Army, and he (Mr. Otway) had as little desire as anyone to interfere with that discipline; but his contention had always been that it was not necessary to retain flogging for the discipline of the British Army. He wished to put it before him, whether the discussions which had so frequently taken place in the House, and the language used about this abominable punishment, and the strong desire expressed on both sides to abolish it, when, if the soldiers read this, and became acquainted with the state of feeling in the House, their discipline would not be affected? If the Secretary of State for War had taken counsel only with his Colleagues—if he had not taken counsel with a larger number than his Colleagues—then he had no doubt 1738 he would have seen his way to relieve the Army from a stigma which was attached to the British Army alone. He would get rid of the punishment which, in concession to the strong feeling expresssd, he had reduced. Was it worth while to retain these 25 lashes, to be inflicted upon soldiers deserving of death? Let him, once for all, make up his mind, and obtain the credit of doing that which would give so much satisfaction to the Army and to the country. This Bill would then proceed, and be brought to a happy conclusion; for he had no doubt but that, this concession made, those who now opposed would assist the passage of the measure. He agreed with the proposition to reserve further discussion until the time for consideration of the offences to which the punishment was proposed to apply.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
had never heard anyone give more good advice, and then immediately run away from it. The hon. Member rose to say he agreed with the noble Lord that the Committee should not allow itself to be drawn into discussion of the particular point raised by the lion. Member for Birmingham. The lion. Member, however, had certainly made an observation which would tend to raise the very debate which he deprecated. He hoped the Committee would not follow his example or his precept, but would allow the Bill to proceed without irrelevant discussion.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
believed the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) would agree that there were a good many more Members in the House now than there were on Saturday afternoon; but he felt bound, in justice, to say, in reference to what fell from the hon. Member for Birmingham, that he (Sir Robert Peel) certainly was under the impression which the hon. Member had conveyed to the House, and not only he, but his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) also was under the impression that the Government intended to give way. They never had the slightest idea that the punishment would be inflicted for offences for which it was now stated that it would be inflicted. In fact, the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had already stated that he withdrew his Amendment on the faith 1739 of the statement from the Treasury Bench. As regarded the proposal for postponing that discussion, it must be admitted that they had had enough of postponing. Nearly all the substantial points for discussion had been postponed; and he did not know what they would do when they came to the discussion of the postponed clauses. If they did not at once discuss the points they had before them, they would never get through the Bill at all. However much he might regret to differ from the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington), he thought it would be injudicious to postpone a discussion which would come most opportunely after the statement of the Secretary of State for War. It was clear that a scope for flogging was to be left which the Committee the other day never contemplated.
§ MR. RYLANDS
thought it right to take some part in this discussion, inasmuch as he was a party to the discussion the other day; and, with all deference to the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, he was not quite able to agree with the course lie had proposed. What was the best course for the progress of the Bill? It was quite impossible for them to make satisfactory progress with the Bill if they were treated by Her Majesty's Government in the way they had been treated. He did not for a moment charge the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Stanley) with intentional misleading. No one could sit with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman without knowing that he was unable to be other than strictly conscientious in all his duty. But what he said about the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was this--that at that moment, when he made the statement on Saturday, he had it in his mind that the Government would take a course which they had not taken that day. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said what was perfectly true—that his statement was to the effect that the Government were prepared to make certain concessions, which he hoped would be satisfactory. However, it was clear the impression was produced that the Government had intended to make great concessions upon this point. Then the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, being appealed to, got up and said that he would not be responsible for the interpretation which might be attached to his statement. 1740 He said that in the face of the absolute statement of the hon. Member for Birmingham, in making an assertion which was entertained by the House generally, that the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman did imply the concession that was intended on the Opposition side of the House. In his opinion, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and the Government had intentions on Saturday which they had not fulfilled that day. No Member who was present, and heard what was said, would doubt his assertion. Many things had happened since then. Influences outside the Government had been brought to bear on the Government. They had had a caucus, and had taken counsel with their supporters. Ho was not able to speak on the matter from personal knowledge; but there was a general belief that the Government wore strongly urged not to yield to the pressure put upon them by the Opposition side of the House. An impression was given on Saturday that if the punishment of flogging was retained at all it would be only for a few offences, which would be scheduled. It was understood that those disgraceful and abominable offences for which a man should be punished in time of war would alone be scheduled. They did not say anything about a Schedule of the minor offences included in the Bill. He must say that the present proposal was not one that could be satisfactory to the Committee, and was but another instance of what had been done on previous occasions. While the Government complained of obstruction, the way in which they conducted their Business certainly had the effect of causing great loss of time.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
thought he was bound to say a few words. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had stated what took place. No doubt there were rumours in the Lobby that the Government were going to give in on this point. He put it explicitly to the Government, and asked them what they were going to do, because he thought it would be more satisfactory that the House should know what was going to happen, in case there should be some difference of opinion. Ho was hound to say the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had made a statement which he hoped would be satisfactory to 1741 the House. It was his wish, and it had been his endeavour, to get that statement out. Members who had come down day by day, and hour by hour, had been supported with regard to this question, in many instances, by the front Opposition Bench and those that sat behind them. As to flogging being done away with, he should be delighted if that were possible; but there was not an officer in the field, nor those high military authorities who were responsible for the discipline of the Army, who would like to say that flogging should, under its restricted provisions in this Bill, be done away with.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
said, he had some responsibility in this matter, and he was sure the Committee would bear with him while he said a word or two upon it. He was happy to think there was no difference between them as to what was said on Saturday. The only difference of opinion was as to what was meant. On the Treasury Bench that morning (Saturday) had taken place a consultation, in full view of the House, which seemed to be of great moment; and after that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War proceeded to tell the House, with portentous deliberation, weighing, as he ought to do in his position, his words, that he should at a later stage of the Bill make a statement which would be satisfactory.
§ SIR WILLIAM FRASER
asked, whether the hon. and learned Member could make distinct reference to a previous debate?
The hon. and learned Gentleman is certainly in Order in referring to what passed in Committee on the Bill.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
observed, that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had said he was about to make a statement which he hoped would be satisfactory. He had assumed that that referred to the Opposition, and he took it as a personal compliment to those about him, considering that, as the hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had said, only a few had opposed the Government. And now the moment had come when this matter had been reviewed by the Government, as a Government responsible to the country, and they were prepared to advise the House as to what should be done. To 1742 make any statement consistent with that declaration would have been to state that they were going to abolish the system of flogging. If it was anything else it would involve a considerable amount of difficulty; because there was no doubt that the statement made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman did raise hopes in the minds of many, and led to the hon. Member for Birmingham withdrawing his Amendments. He had no doubt the change had been brought about by some hon. Members opposite; and he was quite willing, if hon. Gentlemen desired it, that the cat should be flourished in the face of the Tory Party at the next Election. He did not pretend to prophecy; but, surely, hon. Gentlemen would object to allow themselves to be responsible for the continuance of this contrivance to terrorize over men. It was reduced to the absurd and illogical position that there were only four offences, as to which death was not proposed as a penalty to deter the offender: as to the remaining number death was so proposed, and yet it was thought necessary to retain this punishment in order to deter him—in other words, though the fear of death would not deter, dread of flogging might. A more futile argument in support of such a punishment as that it was impossible to conceive. If they knew the amount of agitation this subject was producing they would get rid of it as soon as possible.
§ COLONEL STANLEY
replied, that having given a promise to the Committee to put them in a Schedule, he would put them in a Schedule.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, if they were to retain flogging at all it was absurd to have it for some of these offences. There was one clause which said that any soldier disobeying lawful command should suffer death. No one supposed that death would be inflicted in such a case.
I must point out to the hon. and gallant Member that he appears to be entering into the merits of the clause. I have to guard the Committee against the possibility of debating the other clauses of the Bill.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, it was only the effect of the clause on the present resolution that he proposed to refer to. He 1743 only wanted the Committee to have it in their minds that, unless they looked carefully into the clause to see what it meant, they might find that it was wide enough to cover any offence at all.
thought it was clue to the Government to say that the concession they had made was an important one. In the announcement that had been made that evening they had abolished flogging for three-fourths, if not five-sixths, of the cases in which flogging, might have been inflicted. He was sorry the Government had not resolved to abolish flogging altogether; for he did not believe that it tended to the efficiency of the Army, or to the good of the country. If that was so, what was to be obtained by the announcement made that evening? It was three years ago since the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor), whose absence they deplored that evening, and the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), began the struggle which had led up to the announcement made that night. The " cat " was scotched; they meant to kill it. They had been wasting three weeks of precious public time, because they believed that the minds of the Government were in favour of the abolition, but that they were held back from making this humane announcement by the fear of military martinets outside the House. The Government ought to do these things more gracefully. When concessions were made grudgingly, and only after painful recriminatory discussions, they lost a great deal of their efficiency. He asked the Government to abandon this last miserable rag of this miserable torture. Thee Amendment of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Mike) would appear on the Paper to-morrow, and he knew of some 20 or 30 Amendments that would be prepared within the next half-hour. They would resist this punishment of flogging for no purpose of obstruction. His intervention had been entirely on the flogging clauses. He could assure the Government that they would clear a great hindrance out of the way of the Bill, if they would tonight frankly abandon this last miserable vestige of a disgraceful punishment.
§ MR. JOHNSON
said, he was glad the Government did not intend to abolish flogging in the Army. It was necessary 1744 that power to inflict corporal punishment should be retained.
§ MR. JOHN BRIGHT
said, the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had rather misunderstood the case. The hon. and learned Member considered that the statement of the Secretary of State for War was a great concession, and a remarkable reform in the Bill. But it entirely depended on another consideration—what were the offences for which, by this law, soldiers would be subject to the penalty of death? He understood that, by the clauses read by his Colleague, there was scarcely an offence in the field for which the punishment of death might not be inflicted. These clauses were passed because it was thought that no commanding officer in the English Army would put them in force. For instance, if a man took an egg out of a hen's nest, or took a chicken in passing through the enemy's country, or misbehaved himself in some equally immaterial way, or disregarded the order of a superior officer, the punishment of death might be inflicted. He presumed the Committee agreed to these clauses, and to these words, because they believed that it was impossible that for these offences the punishment of death would be inflicted. But if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War said flogging should be inflicted in all cases in which the punishment of death might be inflicted, it seemed to him (Mr. John Bright) to open the door to flogging just as widely as it was opened under the old Mutiny Act. He understood there was to be a Schedule which should put down all the cases in which flogging should be employed. Bat, notwithstanding this Schedule, they were, it seemed, to refer to all the clauses which allowed death to be inflicted, and they included many more clauses than those for which the Committee would have allowed death to be inflicted by the Schedule. Therefore, he was driven to the conclusion that the whole thing the Committee had succeeded in doing was in reducing the lashes from 50 to 25. Under the proposition made that night, he believed that flogging might be as commonly and as unjustly inflicted in the Army as it had been in past years, and as it was at present. Therefore, he thought the Committee ought to see precisely where they were. He did not 1745 intend to say that they should report Progress, or that this was not a convenient time for discussing it. But it was worth while for the Committee to know that they were apt to fall into something like a trap if they thought this system was a great concession, and they would like to adopt it. The whole question was in such confusion, that he had an opinion there was only one rational course to pursue, and that was for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to bring a Schedule into the House in which they should state the cases in which the punishment of flogging should be inflicted. He believed it was impossible to make such a Schedule, giving a list of them, and. materially altering the state of things that now existed; and, therefore, the only rational course for the Government was to abolish flogging altogether. The only question was, whether it should be done now or done later? and the delay would only add to the general feeling throughout the country of the want of generosity, humanity, and trust in their countrymen, which distinguished their treatment of the soldier. He believed there were officers—he knew some—in both Services who believed that flogging might be entirely dispensed with. Nobody was flogged on the Cunard or Peninsular and Oriental steamers; there was no occasion to flog in the ships belonging to the Imperial Navy; and if there was not in the ships, certainly there was not in the Army. He, therefore, begged to add his recommendation to all that had been said before to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, to ask him to signalize the period of his tenure of office by a reform which would be thoroughly satisfactory to the country, and which in future years the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would look back upon as one of the most pleasant and honourable acts with which that tenure of office was associated.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
could not help asking how long the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham had held the opinions he had just expressed; and, if they were opinions of long standing, why it was that when he was himself a Member of the Government he took no steps to give expression to those opinions? He could not say he thought they had clone very wisely in entering into this discussion. 1746 That was wisely deprecated by the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington); but some of the observations of the right hon. Gentleman were suggestive; and if they were to read them in the light of what had been said by the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), they might possibly connect the proceedings of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite with some electioneering scheme. They had already said—his right hon. and gallant Friend had more than once said—that it was the intention of the Government to propose a Schedule specifying the offences for which flogging was to be inflicted; and when that Schedule came on that would be a convenient and proper time to discuss the proposals that the Government had made, and to consider the objections to them that might be entertained by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House.
§ MR. E. JENKINS
said, perhaps it might be a question whether the electioneering agents of the Tory Party would be grateful for the remarks which had just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. He could not help thinking that the course of the discussion had been one which would leave upon the country an impression which would be very unfavourable to Her Majesty's Government. He thought it hardly just that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should get up and charge the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) with having raised an inopportune debate. The truth of the matter was, as was well known, that a large number of Amendments had disappeared from the Paper in consequence of the statements which were made by the Government on Saturday. But they now found, on comparing the statements made that afternoon with the Bill as it now stood, that the practical effect of the statements was that no concession was made at all. The question was, whether the Bill ought to be allowed to go on under those circumstances? because the battle now going on was for the purpose of removing a foul blot and disgrace from the British Army. If they spoke to any foreign officer, he would say he was surprised to hear such a barbarous punishment was allowed to remain. He read, with shame, in The Figaro the other day, a description by the artistic correspondent of that paper with the Army in South 1747 Africa of a flogging which he witnessed there. The correspondent was unable to witness it nearer, and he looked through an opera glass, because his feelings would not allow him to be present. [Laughter.] He had no doubt hon. Members opposite had no sympathy with that sentiment; but he made them a present of it. He thought that every Englishman who read of such a scene being enacted in an English camp would feel that it was a disgrace, and that the sooner it was wiped out the better.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
must say there had been expressions during the debate which made him anxious to remind the Committee that the majority must not be governed by the minority. They had seen too much of what he was afraid he must call the abuse of the Forms of the House. It was an abuse whenever the use of those Forms tended to incapacitate the House; and it was becoming more and more evident that a highly respectable minority were attempting to coerce the House into adopting their views, contrary to the convictions of the great majority of the House, by impeding the Business of the country. He hoped he had misinterpreted the expressions he had heard in the course of the discussion; but, if he had not, why, then, if this House intended to retain the position it had hitherto occupied, it must affirm its will—the will of the majority—against any attempt to interrupt its proceedings.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
would not ask the Committee to listen to a lecture on the abuse of its Forms, nor would he follow the Chancellor of the Exchequer by indulging in a smart, but ill-judged, retort. There might be a time and a place for that sort of thing; but this was not the time nor the place, if the right hon. Gentleman had the passing of the Bill at heart. It was hardly following up the temperate and wise counsel of his noble Friend. He would ask the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), whether he did not now think this discussion might close? It had not been without use, because it had shown clearly to the Government what sort of concession would satisfy the Committee, and what sort would not. There could be no imputation upon the Government of a breach of faith; but what his side of the House really understood was that flogging would only be 1748 inflicted for the most serious crimes, which were, practically, punishable with death. They had better wait now, and see what really was the proposal of the Government, who were aware, by this time, what was the feeling of the House with regard to flogging for minor offences. He hoped it would be found that the Government were not trying to palm off a sham concession; but to act up to the spirit of the idea that the punishment of flogging should only be maintained as a substitute for death. That would be worthy of the consideration of the most hostile opponents of the measure, although he did not say it would be accepted by them; for there were some hon. Members who thought it would be better to get rid of flogging than of that dreadful alternative. He thought it would be accepted by the majority of the Committee that flogging should only be inflicted in cases where, if they had not got flogging, it would be necessary to inflict death. But he felt great confidence that the Government, having probably ascertained the mind of the Committee, would so frame the Schedule that it should turn out to be that flogging would only be inflicted under the circumstances he had stated, and not for offences punishable by death under the Bill; because they knew full well that the Committee passed those clauses knowing that death would not be inflicted under them. [" No ! "] That was the understanding that was in the minds of hon. Gentlemen. He hoped they might now proceed to Business.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
found the subject so repulsive that he would rather not speak of it; but he earnestly appealed to the Government, whether the time had not arrived when they might do that which he was sure they would ultimately have to do—namely, imitate the example of every foreign Army, and abolish this punishment altogether? He did not think hon. Gentlemen had any idea of the strength of the feeling on this subject in the country. The fact was, that there was a popular impression, until these debates arose, that, thanks to the humane exertions of his hon. Friend (Mr. Otway), the punishment of the lash had, practically, fallen into desuetude in the Army; and now people had been most unpleasantly undeceived. The punishment was one which jarred upon 1749 the sentiment of the country. Englishmen did not like to be pointed at all over Europe as such exceptional blackguards, that they alone required to be kept in order by the lash. He only wished his hon. and gallant Friends on both sides of the House would talk to foreign officers on the subject, as he had done, and they would be astonished at the sentiments they would hear. A French officer with whom he dined at a table d'hote once told him that any French Minister who introduced flogging would be hissed out of office in a quarter-of-an-hour. He could quote passages from French, German, and Italian papers, in which our military exploits in South Africa were put side by side with the debates on flogging in no very flattering way. It was said that in foreign Armies men would be shot for offences for which we only flogged them. As a matter of fact, that was not the case; but, if it were, lie thought it would be almost better for the general character of the Army than that such a stigma as this should be suffered to remain upon the whole English Army, and, he would add, the whole English nation.
§ MR. HARDCASTLE
remarked, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) had said a man might be flogged for stealing eggs. He found, by a letter in The Pall Mall Gazette, that two men of the French Army were shot for stealing a few potatoes. Another French soldier was sentenced to be shot for placing his knapsack on a gun carriage. The carriage moved forward, and he lost his knapsack. It was only through a comrade running forward and bringing it to the soldier that he bad escaped the punishment of death. Now, it seemed that was the kind of thing hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to introduce into the British Army. The lash was a cruel instrument, and he was no advocate for it, except as a necessary punishment, in the place of far more severe and ghastly punishments. In the French schools, instead of flogging a boy, and having done with it, they made the wretched boy kneel on a hard plank of wood, in perfect agony, for an hour at a time. Many hon. Gentlemen opposite had not had the advantage of being at a public school, or they would not be so horrified at the idea of a boy or a man being flogged, which was very much better 1750 than slow torture and solitary confinement. They might depend upon it that men would rather receive the punishment of flogging than be shot, as they were in the French Army, and as the right hon. Member for Birmingham would have them dealt with.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
remarked, that The Pall Mall Gazette was a paper strongly in favour of flogging. In the British Army death could be inflicted for trivial offences. In India it had been necessary to shoot a soldier for merely throwing his hat at an officer. He fully shared in the conviction that what the Government now offered was a sham concession, which they would be justified in doing their utmost to oppose. But what ho wished especially to address the Committee upon was this. Lately, he had read to the Committee a letter in which the writer referred to the fearfully cruel punishment he had suffered in consequence of the biting knots which were on the military cat he was flogged with. Well, a very general denial bad been given to the statement of the existence of knots in the military cat; but they had now found, beyond all doubt, that the statement was quite true, and that it was only another instance of the inaccuracy of the information which reached the front Treasury Bench under a Conservative Administration. He now wished to call attention to another cruel aggravation of the punishment of flogging, which seemed to demoralize those who administered as well as those who endured it. He had received the following letter from Plymouth, and the name of the writer was at the service of hon. Members: —I read an account of your proceedings in demanding the production of the pattern cat to be approved of by the House of Commons. I would feel obliged for you to request also that those cats, when used for penal punishment, are never to be steeped in pickle before they are used for such punishment. I humbly beg that these few lines will enlighten you something on this important subject.He was perfectly sure this was the first time that many hon. Members had, learned how, under certain circumstances, the cat was dipped in brine, in order to aggravate the tortures suffered by the soldier under British civilization.
§ SIR DAVID WEDDERBURN
said, the words used by the Secretary of State for War were that he hoped to make a statement which would be satisfactory 1751 to the Committee. From what had passed, however, that afternoon, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman appeared to have been a great deal too sanguine in his expectation.
said, that in the year 1876, when this question was before the House, he had both spoken in favour of the abolition of corporal punishment and voted against the Government upon the same question. In that debate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City (Mr. Goschen) had stated that he did not think the time was come when this punishment could be abolished, and had advised him to get the opinions of five or six flag officers in the Navy, and that if those officers were in favour of its abolition he would come round to his views. Acting on the advice of the right hon. Gentleman he had written to many well-known officers in the Navy, and received also the spontaneous expression of opinion of many others. But he was bound to say that in no single instance was an opinion given that the time had arrived for the abolition of corporal punishment. Those opinions, coming from officers only, he felt would have little weight with hon. Members opposite; but he wished to point out that, although the constituency which he represented (Davenport) was, above all others, interested in this matter, not one single word had reached him from that quarter in favour of the abolition of corporal punishment. Again, he had felt it his duty not to confine his inquiries to the Navy, but had extended them to officers and men of all ranks in the large garrisons at Devonport, which consisted of all arms of the Service; and he freely admitted that he had never met any man in those branches of the Service who told him that the punishment could be done away with. Sometimes he had met with the reply from officers that if they could see their way to its abolition they would be glad; but, on the other hand, they told him, one and all, the same story, that without it the discipline of the Service could not be entirely and properly carried out. He had seen a good deal of flogging, and could assure hon. Members opposite that he was still of opinion that it was a very unpleasant and, he might almost say, a barbarous punishment, and one which, before long, he hoped to see done away with; but he was bound to 1752 add that the concession made by the Government, not only that evening but on a former occasion, would, in his opinion, meet the case for the present. The cat was, of course, a barbarous instrument; but ho thought the description of the punishment given to the Committee the other night by an hon. Member was very much exaggerated. They were told that at every stroke of the cat pieces of flesh were torn from the back of the man under punishment; but having himself seen this punishment administered scores and scores of times, he could state that nothing of the kind took place. It was not until two dozen lashes had been laid on that there was any abrasion of the skin. With regard to the kind of cats to be used, he thought these should be of one pattern. The cat used in the Navy had no knots, and was simply secured at the ends of the lashes to prevent fraying out. He trusted the day was at hand when flogging could be abolished; but, at present, the concessions made by Her Majesty's Government were all they could reasonably expect.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
thought the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Price) stood in a very peculiar position. As far as he (Mr. Trevelyan) could understand, he was opposed to flogging three years ago, but had been converted, after consultation with five or six officers in the Navy.
said, that he had consulted not only many officers in the Navy, but men of all ranks in the Army, Navy, and Marines.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
asked, what reform, either in the Army or Navy Services, could ever be introduced if the Committee pronounced upon the subjects which came before it, in accordance with the views of officers in those Services? Why, if the opinions of officers in the Army and Navy were appealed to, they would most certainly have flogging in the Army in time of peace. There was one class of men he objected to having appealed to in the House even more than to officers of the Army or Navy, and that was the constituents. From whichever side of the House that suggestion came, he objected to it; and wished to point out that when hon. Members engaged in a discussion of this kind, and through a series of debates used great energy and emphasis, taking very often the sense of the House, they 1753 were not thinking of their constituents, but of their consciences. He could not sit down without protesting against the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate). The hon. Gentleman had told the House that the opposition to the present Bill had lessened the character of the House of Commons. But this was not the first Army Bill that had been brought before the House; the Bill of 1871, for the abolition of Purchase, which, unlike the present Bill, was not a volume requiring two days for its perusal, but a mere fly-leaf, had occupied the House for 23 days, owing to the persistent opposition of hon. Members opposite; while the Army Discipline and Regulation Bill, which. in his opinion, was a measure of not less importance, had certainly not occupied the House more than 20 days. He believed hon. Members opposite were sincere in their belief that the former Army Bill, which abolished Purchase, proposed a system under which the Army would not flourish; and he, therefore, asked them to believe that hon. Members on his side of the House were equally sincere in their opposition to the maintenance of flogging in the Army. They were fighting for something which they must very soon obtain. If a Liberal Government did come into Office, he prophesied that it would abolish flogging in the Army in six months; and, in his opinion, it would not deserve to be six weeks in Office if it did not.
§ MR. MILBANK
said, he had been accused by the hon. and gallant Member for Davenport (Captain Price) of exaggeration; and, therefore, begged to state to the Committee that he had seen a soldier in the Scots Greys, flogged in the Royal Barracks, Dublin. Every regiment quartered in Dublin at the time was obliged to send a company, or troop, to witness the flogging. The man received 300 lashes, and before he had received 35 lashes the blood flowed down his back on to his clothes; and after another 10 or 15 cuts the flesh actually flew from his shoulders. He had seen this himself. Further than this, in 1843, he had, at Gibraltar, seen a man who was sentenced to 400 lashes; and had also seen a soldier in a Highland regiment receive 200 lashes. The man fainted away. The doctor was called, and put a sponge in the man's 1754 mouth, because he was unable to drink. The man actually came round, and they went on with his punishment. He was afterwards taken down and sent to the hospital. He (Mr. Milbank), being orderly officer, went to the hospital, and found the man stretched, spread-eagle fashion, on his stomach, it being impossible for him to lie upon his back or his sides. His flesh was livid, and a week afterwards he said he was suffering greater agonies than he had ever suffered before; while his back, owing to the heat of the climate, was a mass of festering sores. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) had drawn a dreadful picture of the barbarities of the Zulu King; but what would the Zulu King say if, on the conclusion of peace, ho came into our camp and saw a soldier tied up to the triangle? He would say that we were in the habit of inflicting torture upon the soldiers in our Army. The time had now arrived for the abolition of flogging in the Army; and he hoped that the House would not adjourn that evening before they had from the Government a statement that it was entirely abolished.
said, lie had not referred to the remarks which fell, on a former occasion, from the hon. Member for York (Mr. Milbank), and which referred to the practices of 30 or 40 years ago; but to those of another hon. Member, which had reference to the practice at the present day.
§ LORD ELCHO
pointed out that the state of things described by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Milbank), inasmuch as it related to a period 40 years ago, had no analogy with the present. The hon. Member had admitted, besides, that the effects which he had described were not produced until 35 lashes had been given, and the punishment had now been reduced to 25 lashes. He did not wish to boast of humanity but those who maintained flogging in this modified form were, he hoped, not less susceptible to human instincts Chan their opponents, but they had some sympathy for the well-behaved men of the Army, and did not reserve it entirely for the ruffians. Without saying that our Army was drawn from the dregs of the people, as had been, in the course of these debates, stated by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), he maintained that all com- 1755 parisons between foreign Armies and the English Army, and the punishments which might be necessary for the one and the other, were absolutely beside the mark, until they were all raised by the same means. It was notorious that in foreign countries they were raised by conscription, and that in this country they were raised in any way that they could be got together. If soldiers committed acts of a disgraceful character they must be visited with disgraceful punishment, as an example, and for the benefit of better men in the Army. With regard to the punishment of death, which seemed to be so popular with hon. Members opposite, he could not help thinking that if the degraded men who brought themselves under this degrading punishment were offered the choice, they would exclaim—" Save me from my friends," and would very much prefer the 25 lashes to the soldiers with loaded muskets. The form of humanity which preferred death to 25 lashes reminded him of a Bill brought in some years ago with reference to cruelty to animals, one clause of which said that "whenever two dogs were found fighting, they were both instantly to be put to death."
said, he believed ho was the only other Member of the House who had related an incident of flogging similar to what had been stated by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Milbank). His (Mr. Sullivan's) narration was not that of an eye-witness, and he stated so at the time. He stated a newspaper correspondent who had been in his own employment had been to see the flogging of a military offender in Dublin, and he had described an exceedingly similar process to that described by the hon. Member. The Committee were then incredulous; but they had now been converted from their incredulity by the statements made on the personal responsibility of the hon. Member who had lately spoken. He wanted now to ask how his statement could be called exaggerated, seeing that it altogether fell short of that of the hon. Member? He would not go into the details, they were too revolting; but he would say the military prisoners accused only of a political military offence were subjected to such barbarities in the public square of the Royal Barracks in Dublin, in 1866 and 1867, as had been described 1756 by the hon. Member as occurring in 1843. He knew one of these men; and so far from his having a disgraceful character—apart from his very serious military offence—the evidence on the court martial declared him to be one of the best-conducted men in the regiment. He (Mr. Sullivan) himself saw the branded mark, B.C. (bad character), which the man received in addition to the 50 or 100 lashes ordered by the tribunal.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, that it was not correct to say that England was the only country in Europe where corporal punishment was inflicted upon soldiers. He had himself seen corporal punishment inflicted on Austrian soldiers. [Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN: It is abolished in Austria.] It was certainly in force in the German and Russian Armies. [" No!"] He had himself seen it inflicted on Russian soldiers. [VOICES: When?] Recently. lie had seen Russian soldiers struck by their officers. [" Struck!"] He had seen men struck by their officers and whipped. He maintained that England did not stand in an exceptional position in this respect. In reply to the remarks of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Milbank), who had suggested that the Zulu King might, on the conclusion of peace, visit our camp and find a man tied up to the triangles, he wished to point out that the spectacle would be an impossibility, inasmuch as corporal punishment was not administered in time of peace.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, they were told some time ago that the Bill they were now considering had passed then so far almost as it was drafted. How anyone could have made such a statement was a surprise to him; no Bill, during the time that he had had a seat in that House, had undergone so many changes before it passed as that Bill had. While that might be stated of its general character, it was equally so on the subject of flogging. The Government had again presented them with another front on the subject. The new departure pleased the ear; but, ho was afraid, would disappoint all who, like himself, thought that flogging ought to be abolished, both in the Army and in the Navy. The proposal made by the Government that day was, to a large extent, as he saw it, illusory; the punishment 1757 of death might be awarded for the most trivial offences. Some of those it would be wrong to call crimes. He verily believed that was the Bill to be passed, with the provision that the Government now proposed, that flogging would be increased rather than diminished. A Bill that had so much of the sphinx about it, humble as his opposition might be, he would give it all he possessed. The hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price) mentioned in his speech some ago that he had seen a good deal of flogging in the Navy, and that flogging was looked upon lightly by seamen and petty-officers. In short, as he (Mr. Macdonald) understood the hon. and gallant Gentleman, he led the House to infer that it was of so mild a character that the seamen would be annoyed if it was done away with. Would the hon. and gallant Member be joyous at the prospect of having four dozen on his own back? If it were good to give, it ought to be equally desirable to take. He could call the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport's view of flogging nothing else than a fancy picture. He (Mr. Macdonald) would tell the House what he had heard of flogging from those who had seen it and suffered it. The application of the " cat " to the back of those to whom he referred was so severe that they contrived, if possible, to get a bullet to turn in their mouth during the progress of the flogging, and that it was customary for the doctor to come up to the victim who was about to be flayed, not to feel his pulse, if he was able to stand the punishment, but to run his finger round his mouth to find if there was no bullet there which he could chew. He knew of an Admiral who was well-known to the hon. and gallant Admiral the Member for Stirlingshire (Sir William Edmonstone) who was known as a diabolical flogger. The men would have asked an iron pin to chew while they were suffering the infliction of the " cat." The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) stated that they sometimes dipped the " cat " in salt brine. He (Mr. Macdonald) had it on the most reliable authority that there were men in high command in the Royal Navy who had a flagon of brine brought on deck; and when the back showed symptoms of being lacerated, it was applied to them—to the 1758 broken parts of the skin—with the brush. The hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. Hardcastle) thought fit to twit the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) with never having been at a public school, and that had he been so he would have known the punishment there was quite equal to some of the Army punishments. It might be that the hon. Member had enjoyed the teaching of Rugby, Harrow, or Eton; if so, from the remark he had made regarding the hon. Member for Birmingham, he (Mr. Macdonald) would strongly recommend him to return there, and, for a time at least, undergo tuition sufficient to speak respectfully to those, or of those, whom he might differ with. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Echo) had said that the lash was necessary for the ruffians in the Army. He (Mr. Macdonald) had a high respect for the noble Lord; and he would most respectfully say to him that he believed and believed firmly—that the flogging in the Army, to a large degree, led oily degraded persons to enter it, and that so long as the degrading punishment was continued, they would have persons of the class ho had named. Raise the status of the soldier and the sailor to that of a citizen, and they might rely on it they would perform their duties as such. He was opposed to the retention of this punishment, because of its inhumanity, and because he objected to give one class of the community power to flog another class.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
rose with the shyness natural to any man who appeared to be an advocate of the " cat;" but he thought it ought not to go forth to the world that the punishment of flogging in the Navy was of the brutal character which it had been represented to be. He had no doubt that the hon. Member for York (Mr. Milbank) had witnessed what he had described to the Committee, but those scenes had occurred a long time ago. For himself, he was sorry to say he had seen a great number of men flogged; but never anything of the kind mentioned by the hon. Member for York. He had never seen more than 48 lashes given; but lie had known many men to be sentenced to 48 lashes, and to be taken down when they had received a dozen. Humane captains constantly limited the number 1759 of lashes. Indeed, he had seen a man tied to the grating, and yet not receive a single lash, the captain saying to the man—" Promise me you won't do it again;" and on the promise being given, the man was let off accordingly. He had only seen one case in which a man's flesh was broken, and that was when the man was flogged by two right-handed and one left-handed boatswain's mates, and immediately this occurred the captain ordered him to be taken down. Flogging had been abolished in the Army, except on active service; but the Committee must remember that the Navy was always on active service, whether it was fighting or not; and if flogging was done away with in the Army, it could not be retained in the Navy. A blackguard or scoundrel in the Navy might do a great deal of harm; he might steal, and get his messmates into trouble. If they put him in prison when the ship might, perhaps, be six or eight weeks at sea, they had to trot him out every day on deck, because they could not keep him locked up without exercise, and ho would be insolent, insubordinate, and would use the most frightful language. The captain, therefore, ought, at least, to have the power of flogging, however much the extent of the punishment might be reduced. For himself, if he had the command of 20,000 men to-morrow, he did not think he would ever put the "cat" in operation; but he felt that if he had not the power of using it, the blackguard would soon know of it, and take advantage. Discipline must be maintained, and insubordination kept down in some way. But if, for acts of insubordination, men were only sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour, their wives and families would probably have to go to the workhouse, and the men themselves, when they came out of prison, would be sick of life and of everything else, and would sooner go wrong than right. The "cat," he granted, was a horrible instrument; but, in his opinion, it was not so dreadful as the hon. Member for York had stated; and when they had to deal with a very insubordinate man in the Navy—which, as he had said, was always on active service—they must shoot him, if they had no power to flog him. He ventured to say, if the Navy were polled, officers and men, fore and aft, they would say they would be sorry 1760 to see the " cat " done away with, because the good men knew that it kept the bad men in check.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the noble and gallant Lord had made an interesting speech, but his arguments tended to taking them back to the system of old days. However, lie could only say that if the officers in either Service had all been like him, he thought they would hardly have had any flogging at all. He had not intended to take part in this discussion, because he agreed that the present was hardly the time when the Committee could properly discuss the question of whether flogging should or should not be abolished. But the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) had most distinctly raised the general question, by arguing that it was useless to bring in any statement with regard to the practice in foreign Armies, inasmuch as they relied upon voluntary recruiting as opposed to the conscription of foreign countries. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought that the time was coming when there would be little voluntary recruiting, unless the punishment of flogging was got rid of. As far as the discussion of Saturday was concerned, he could not agree with those hon. Members who thought that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had been guilty of a breach of faith; and he confessed he had not gained the impression, from Saturday's discussion, that the Government had in any way pledged themselves to abolish flogging. But, coming to the actual concession which the Government had made, he must say there was a good deal of force in the remarks of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), who said that " they did not imagine that the Government had pledged themselves to the abolition of flogging; but that " they imagined they would not have said what they did say without reducing the punishment to a minimum of 14 or 10 lashes." He would not pledge himself to support the proposal that, in future, flogging should only be used as an alternative punishment in cases where death must lie awarded; but he thought such a proposal ought to be considered. He was not sure that the point had not been reached when the country must follow the other nations of Europe in getting rid of a disgraceful punishment, which fastened 1761 a disgraceful character on the Army, and which tended to deter men from enlisting; and that they must do that at the cost and risk of having a yet more severe punishment. But he was afraid that the concession made by the Government would turn out to be no concession at all; because it was evident that, at the present moment, there were many offences of a trivial character which might be punished with death, and flogging might, therefore, go on just the same as it had done hitherto. Hon. Members were still in doubt as to what the Government intended to do; and he thought the Government would facilitate their Business very much if they would bring on this question, and let it be decided at the next Sitting, when this Bill was under consideration. The matter was difficult enough. One side said it was a disgusting, disgraceful, and cruel punishment, and it ought to be done away with; and, on the other side, there was the declaration that " discipline must be maintained in the Army." Now, he supposed that a large number of Members who voted with the Government in this matter did not vote for the punishment of flogging in itself; but that they did so because they understood that the Government, responsible for the discipline of the Army, declared positively that it could not be maintained without it. And if the Government had, strictly and absolutely, maintained that position, he could have understood hon. Members who originally voted for them continuing their support. But the Government had shown uncertainty and hesitation in the matter, and had thrown doubt upon the necessity for the punishment. The Government had thought it their duty to bring in a Bill which was, practically, a fresh Code of Military Law. Instead of the Mutiny Bill, they brought in a Bill to declare what the Military Law of the country should be in future. And it was, therefore, right for those who objected to flogging to say that it should be decided what should be done with regard to corporal punishment in the future. From the discussion raised in the matter, from the hesitation. which the Government had shown, from the difficulty of maintaining the punishment, and from the objections brought forward against it in the course of the several discussions 1762 which had taken place, he believed that the time had arrived when it must be got rid of. The only questions, therefore, which ought, in his opinion, to be before the Committee, were—" Will you strike out flogging altogether, and try to get on with the discipline of the Army without the lash? or will you maintain it merely as a mitigation of the punishment of death? " Anything short of keeping up the punishment of flogging as a means of avoiding the punishment of death would not only be contrary to the feelings of his hon. Friends below the Gangway, but contrary to the feeling of the country.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
wished to ask the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Charles Beresford), having regard to the remarks which he made on the subject of the necessity of maintaining corporal punishment in the Navy, whether, from his own knowledge, he did not believe that the discipline of the French Navy was, at the present time, every whit as good as our own? With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), surely the hon. Member was entirely under a mistake in saying that the punishment of flogging existed in foreign Armies. He could assure him that flogging had been abolished in the Austrian, Russian, and German Armies. It had never existed in the Armies of Italy and France since the Revolution; and it was very well known that the First Napoleon had resisted strong military pressure in his refusal to introduce it. Not only could he deny that any punishment of the kind existed in the German Army, but it was a fact that not one single man had been shot during the war with France; and, notwithstanding that neither of these punishments were resorted to, the discipline of the Army was maintained.
§ MR. OTWAY
said, that he would state, for the information of hon. Gentlemen, that the lash had been abolished in all the Armies of Europe. It had lingered longest in the Russian Army, where it had only recently been abolished. He thought that the statements which had been made by hon. Members on the Government side of the House were exceedingly unfair to this side of the House. No accusation had been brought by that side of the House against the motives of the supporters of the Government. On the contrary, they 1763 had expressed their conviction that as much humanity was to be found on one side of the House as on the other. He was convinced that all that hon. Members desired was that discipline should be maintained, and that they voted for the retention of flogging under the idea that it was necessary for the maintenance of discipline. But what had the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) said? He would like to know by what right the noble Lord had said that those sitting on the Opposition side of the House were in favour of the ruffianism of the Army, and that hon. Members on the other side were in favour of good soldiers? On that side of the House they were as much in favour of maintaining discipline as other hon. Members; but they were convinced that discipline could be kept up without the use of the lash. The noble Lord had no right to assume that those who wished flogging to be abolished were in favour of the bad characters of the Army. He entirely objected to those statements, and thought that imputations upon hon. Members who wished to see a degrading punishment abolished were totally undeserved. For his part, he was sure that flogging could be done away with in the Army without any detriment to the Service. He would point out that the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Charles Beresford) had made what, if it were not an important mistake, was a very serious omission. He had omitted to tell them that sailors were divided into two categories, and that a man could not be flogged in the Navy unless he had already been degraded into the second class. That was a most important circumstance to be remembered in contrasting the position of the soldier with that of the sailor. The sailor could not be flogged until he had been degraded to the second class; but any soldier in the field could be flogged at the caprice or whim of any commanding officer who might sentence him to the punishment. The hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price) had told them what took place in the Navy; but that had no reference to the question then before the Committee. Of all the strange things that he had ever heard with regard to this question, he must say that he had never listened to anything with more unfeigned surprise than to the statement that all the civil 1764 population of Devonport, and all the soldiers and sailors there, were in favour of maintaining flogging. According to the hon. and gallant Member, flogging seemed to be the most popular performance that could be imagined with the constituency of Devonport. In fact, the hon. and gallant Gentleman had represented his constituents as being almost enthusiastic on the subject of flogging. But when the hon. and gallant Gentleman represented great naval authorities as being in favour of the punishment in his own Profession he did not say who they were; but, on the other hand, he should be happy to furnish the hon. and gallant Member with the names of officers of high position in the Service, who were of the opinion that flogging could be easily done away with in the Navy. But that question was not now before the Committee. He wished to ask one very important question of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. They had had some very serious misunderstandings upon this question, and he was desirous of avoiding further misunderstandings on the matter. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had made two statements to the Committee with regard to his intentions in this matter, and they had had a third statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was not exactly in accordance with either statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. It was stated, first, by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that corporal punishment was only to he inflicted for those offences for which the punishment of death was reserved. Subsequently, he said that he would produce a Schedule of offences for which he proposed to inflict corporal punishment. Those two statements were essentially different, because they would thus have corporal punishment inflicted for a vast number of offences, which he was quite certain the House would not suffer to be punished in that manner. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War insisted upon retaining flogging for every offence for which death could be inflicted, he did not believe that he would ever carry his Bill to a third reading. Therefore, lie would ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to inform the Committee whether it was his intention to inflict 1765 corporal punishment for every offence for which death was provided; and whether he would lay upon the Table of the House a Schedule specifying the various offences for which the punishment was to be inflicted?
§ COLONEL STANLEY
remarked, that there was nothing inconsistent in the two statements that he had made. His first statement was, that corporal punishment was to take place in the field in all the cases punishable with death under the provisions of the Bill. Upon that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Galway (Major Nolan) said that the best way to do it was upon Report. It was the intention of the Government, however, to move a Schedule containing these offences, and there would then be ample opportunity for discussion.
§ MR. WADDY
inquired whether it were not possible for something like Business to be done, and yet for the question of flogging to be left open for the present? Some hon. Members were opposed to flogging, and others advocated it. Would it not be possible for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to go on with the clauses upon which no question of flogging arose, and then take a Division upon the question of flogging subsequently? He could not but think that many hon. Members who were opposed to mere obstruction, but who were also opposed to flogging, would support the Government in proceeding with the rest of the Bill.
§ COLONEL STANLEY
said, that was exactly what he wished to do. So far as he was aware, there was not a single clause in the remainder of the Bill which bore upon flogging, until they got to the Schedule and the deferred clauses.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
thought that it would be well if the Committee could obtain some information as to the practice of foreign Armies in respect of flogging. There could be no difficulty in obtaining such information. Any of the military Attachés in London could give all the information required in regard to their respective countries. This information ought to be before the Committee before the Schedule was framed. It had been stated by the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock) that he was present during a campaign with the Russian 1766 Army, and that they used no capital punishment whatever, and that it had been altogether abolished. On the other hand, it had been asserted that the punishment was still retained. So far as the German Army was concerned, The United Service Gazette, which was usually well informed on these matters, stated that during the Wars of 1866 and 1871 there was no flogging in the German Army. He thought it would be found that there was no flogging in any other Army in Europe—at least, not in any other Christian Army, for he knew nothing about Turkey. Flogging had also been abolished in the United States Army. In Colonel Stuart's book it was said that flogging did no good, and only brutalized the soldier. They knew that in the Navy men were not brutalized nor in a bad state; but he was sure that they would be better if there were no flogging. By the Bill a man was made liable to flogging if he were disrespectful to a petty officer while in the execution of his office. The Government had made various concessions with regard to the Bill, and the Bill was very different from what it was when they started. Ho trusted that the Government would make further concessions, and would abolish flogging, for there was a strong feeling that its retention would do more harm than good. It would be very difficult in time of war to obtain sufficient recruits, unless the punishment were abolished.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
wished to read a letter which he had received from a friend in the American Army. This gentleman now occupied the position of Consul General for America in Paris, and he had been good enough to answer some questions that he had put to him categorically. He said—I have your favour of the 3rd instant, and shall be glad to answer your questions to the best of my ability. You ask, first, Is flogging a punishment allowed under any, and what, circumstances in the Army of the United States? I answer no, it is not allowed. Second, If it is not allowed, when was it abolished? It was allowed, but was abolished in 1861. Third, Has shooting, or hanging, been more frequently resorted to through the want of the punishment of flogging? Answer: No.In another part of the letter he said—I give your question No. 3 a very big no. Flogging was abolished by law, so far as the Mercantile Marine Service was concerned, in 1850. It was abolished in the Military Prisons 1767 in 1873, and was abolished in the Navy in 1872, so that all branches of our Army and Marine Service are now free from it, thank God.—Signed, LUCIUS FAIRCHILD, Brigadier in the American Army.This gentleman served with the United States Army throughout the American War, and lost an arm on the field of Gettysburgh, and now occupied the responsible position of Consul General at Paris. His testimony was quite positive, that the abolition of flogging had not rendered hanging or shooting more necessary.
§ MAJOR O'BEIRNE
said, that it would be only fair to telegraph to Sir Garnet Wolseley to ask him whether he could maintain discipline in the Army under his order without flogging? The Government were responsible to the House for having Generals who could keep up discipline in the Armies under their control, and it would be only fair to telegraph to those Generals asking them whether they could maintain discipline if flogging were abolished? The Government ought to be allowed time to telegraph to the Cape and receive an answer.
§ MR. MILBANK
remarked, that the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Charles Beresford) had stated that he had never seen more than 25 lashes administered. He might mention that he had known cases in which men had been laid up in hospital several months after receiving that number of lashes.
§ MR. CALLAN
observed, that only one Irish Member had raised his voice in favour of flogging, and that was the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Charles Beresford). He wished that the goodhearted plucky fellows whom he described should get flogged. But could it be seriously urged that men of good character ought to be flogged? When attention was drawn to the fact that flogging was abolished in foreign Armies it was said that there was no comparison between the Army of Great Britain and that of any other country. It was said that because the British was a Volunteer Army flogging should be retained. But because our Army was a Volunteer Army was the very reason why flogging should be abolished. A naval authority had recently told him that they did not take into the Navy any men that offered, no matter how capable they might be. They preferred to rear their own men. 1768 Then, observed the gentleman of whom he was speaking—" What a loss it would be to the country if we were to dismiss men after we had reared them. It is much better to flog thorn and keep them in the Service." He might say that he had taken some very long voyages, and had never seen any flogging on board ship. There was no flogging on the Cunard Line of steamers to Victoria. If a man were found to be a bad character he was got rid of when the ship arrived at Victoria, or, in returning home, at Liverpool. There was no flogging on board the White Star Line, the National Line, the Peninsular and Oriental, and other, lines of steamers. They saw, therefore, that discipline could be completely maintained on board these vessels without the use of the lash.
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
thought that hon. Members would agree with him that the best man was a real pickle. It was his pluck that got him into trouble, and he got into difficulties where a man of less courage would avoid them. It was not that he wanted to flog that fellow. What he wanted was to have the power to flog him. It was that power which kept the man straight. They had very often to send that sort of man to prison for two years; and if they had the power to give him two dozen they would rather do it than send him to prison.
§ MR. PARNELL
wished to ask a question, for the sake of information, of the noble and gallant Lord the Member for County Waterford. He stated that they were obliged to send a man to prison for two years because they could not flog him. He wanted to know, whether they had not power, under the Naval Discipline Act, to inflict a very much less sentence than that for this offence?
§ LORD CHARLES BERESFORD
said, that there was power in the Naval Discipline Act to award a less sentence. When he gave a man two dozen he thought it a very severe punishment, and he only inflicted it for some great offence against discipline. So long as they had an Army and Navy they must maintain discipline. The men should know that there was a power to flog; where grave offences against discipline had been committed so bad an example was set to the rest of the ship's company 1769 that it was necessary to have the power to use severe punishments. Discipline could not be maintained, and the authority of potty officers upheld, unless there was a strong power of punishment.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) there was some reference to foreign Armies. They had been asked to admit that there were no proper materials for a comparison between the Army of this country and the Armies of foreign countries, by reason of our Army being composed of Volunteers and foreign Armies being raised by conscription. Until quite recently the Army of France, although raised by conscription, was, practically, as much an Army of Volunteers as our own. The Committee would see that he alluded to the general practice of permitting substitutes to take the place of those who had been drawn by ballot. Thus the French Army consisted, to a very large extent, of the same class of men as entered the Army in England—namely, those who were ready to undergo the risks and lead the life of a soldier by choice. The French Army, although, nominally, consisting of conscripts, yet, until recently, really consisted of the same class of men as the Army of Great Britain, and was held in strict discipline without the use of the lash. So far, therefore, as the statement of the noble Lord could be regarded as an argument, he had shown that, in the case of the French Army, it fell to the ground, and that there was a very good comparison between the French Army and our own. It had been found that the French Army could be held in a proper state of discipline without the lash, and they believed that discipline could also be maintained in the English Army without flogging. The hon. Member for Rochester (Mr. Otway) was perfectly justified in protesting against the tone adopted by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire. It was barely in Order for any hon. Member to get up in his place and impugn the motives of his political opponents. They had, again and again, pointed out that in that discussion they were acting distinctly in the interests and for the welfare of the soldier; and that they were endeavouring to make the Army a place in which a man could live without fear that, through the mistake of his superior officer, or through 1770 the folly of an unguarded moment, he could be subjected to a punishment not only severe at the time, but which left a reputation such that those who had undergone it were no longer able to associate with men of honour. What reason had the noble Lord to say that hon. Members who opposed flogging sympathized with the worst characters of the Army? He was glad that there had been no attempt at retort on that side of the House. On the contrary, they had, again and again, declared that they believed both sides of the House to be actuated by honourable motives, even when they condemned the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in insisting upon the retention of this disgraceful and degrading punishment. Although they condemned Her Majesty's Government, they admitted that they were actuated by as humane motives as they were, but believed that they were acting under a mistaken sense of duty. He trusted that that gentle pressure which Members of the same political Party could exercise upon each other would be brought to bear upon the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire, so that he might give up the regretable eccentricities in which he indulged. He had listened with some surprise to the suggestion to send to Sir Garnet Wolseley for his opinion. The time that would be occupied in doing that could not be spared, having regard to the position of that Bill. If that course were adopted, Sir Garnet Wolseley would have to rule his Army, not only without flogging, but without a Mutiny Act. They had recently heard of certain operations of the Army in South Africa; he trusted that they would never again hear of such an assemblage of barbarians and cut-throats again taking place under the British Flag. The hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) had recently returned from a diplomatic mission to the East, and what would he have been able to say if asked as to the character of our auxiliaries in South Africa? He hoped that the necessity for maintaining order amongst half-trained auxiliaries would not be put forward as an excuse for maintaining a brutal and degrading punishment in the British Army. He trusted that the hon. Member for Christchurch, if he went on another mission to the East, would be able to inform the 1771 authorities that the degrading punishment of the British knout had disappeared from the Conservative institutions of this country.
§ DR. KENEALY
Mr. Raikes, I do hope that the Government will make further concessions on this subject, and go with public opinion out-of-doors, which is wholly against them on the subject of flogging in the Army. They have already, in the course of these discussions, shown of what squeezable materials they are formed. I advise them to go one step farther, and remove all reason for future contention by abolishing the cruel punishment of the lash altogether. I was not present the other day, when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War announced, in his place, that he would make a communication to the House which he thought would be satisfactory; but, having read with some care reports of that debate in various newspapers, I am bound to say that I came to the conclusion that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, probably without absolutely intending it, had given a pledge which, undoubtedly, led hon. Members, both on his own and on this side of the House, to the conclusion that the days of flogging were at an end, and that the Government had manfully resolved to abandon this relic of barbarism, and do away with a punishment hateful alike to the soldiery and the public. So fully persuaded of this were certain hon. Members who have taken a leading part in their opposition to the lash, that they at once abandoned Amendments which they had placed upon the Paper, supposing, as they did, that no further measures of opposition were needed. I should very much like to know to what pressure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has since yielded that he seems now as determined as ever to maintain this savage and degrading punishment? The pledge, or supposed pledge, was given last Saturday. It bad caused the greatest joy. But after the interval of only one day the right hon. and gallant Gentleman came down and dashed all our hopes to the ground. I desire to cast no imputation whatever upon the good faiths of the Secretary of State for War. I disclaim the slightest idea of his breaking his word to us. Tie is incapable of such an act. But I fear that he has succumbed 1772 to powerful pressure—to what may be called back-stairs influence—between last Saturday and this day. Everybody wonders, and asks what that back-stairs influence can be? Surely, it is not the Duke of Cambridge? The General Commanding-in-Chief has always held himself forth as being the soldier's friend; but if he has induced the Secretary of State for War to retrace his steps, he appears to be rather the friend of the lash. The sudden change seems to be unaccountable. Nobody who has watched these debates can fail to see that neither the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, nor, indeed, any of his Colleagues, has any particular feeling in favour of flogging. Not one of them has ever said a word in its support. They seem to think it must be retained for the sake of discipline. They would gladly get rid of it if they could; and I feel certain that in their hearts they detest it, while they feel constrained to maintain its use. I can well fancy, therefore, how happy they must all have felt on Saturday, when they no longer found this horrible burden on their shoulders, and saw the general pleasure which their abandonment of the cat-o'-nine tails had occasioned. How sad, therefore, it is to see them, with this old man of the sea again loading their backs. And how we are all sorry for seeing them thus throwing aside their better judgment and their more humane feelings, under the influence of someone in the background whom they have not yet named. I hope, before this debate closes, that we shall learn who he is, in order that we may judge of his character, his standing, and his authority; and thus be able to decide what weight we should attach to his requirements. We all feel that the system is, what so many have described it—savage, demoralizing, barbarous in the extreme. We feel, likewise, that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, in adhering to it, has done so against his own independent judgment; and the delight we should experience, if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would declare, before the debate closes, that the lash should be forthwith and for ever disused, is one that I can hardly describe. With what feelings of happiness the Members of the Ministry would leave this House, after such an announcement! And among the numerous trophies of dis- 1773 tinction which surround and honour the house of Stanley, there would be none greater in all present and future time than that a member of that illustrious family had been the first to respond to the general voice of the English people, and to abolish the accursed institution of flogging. Whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman does so or not at present, I myself entertain no doubt that the lash is doomed, and that we shall hear but little of it after the present Session. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had, therefore, better make a virtue of necessity, and relinquish the cat now and for all time. This will be a much better course than that recommended by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), who has rather highhanded notions as to what should be done. That hon. Gentleman seems to think that because there is a present majority in favour of the lash no more should be said, and that the minority should at once give way. His motto seems to be—Stet pro ratione voluntas. Argument, fact, truth, and reason, may be on one side; but all such trifles must yield to the force of a despotic will. I cannot coincide with such a view, and I should think the hon. Gentleman himself, on cool reflection, would feel that it was untenable. I am pleased, beyond measure, that the advice of the noble Lord who assumes the Leadership of the Opposition (the Marquess of Hartington), that we should postpone further discussion on this matter until we discussed the Schedule of punishments, has not been followed. Had it been, we should have lost a most interesting, and, I hope, a most useful discussion. We should have lost the speech of the hon. Member for the North Riding (Mr. Milbank), which has produced so powerful an impression. We should not have heard the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price), who, having seen scores and scores of men flogged, is opposed to the lash, though he also has yielded to the advice of others, and will vote for its maintenance. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) assures us that flogging must be kept up, in order to keep down the ruffians " in the British Army. I am sorry to hear that we have so many bad characters among our soldiers. But, if I entertained this view, I should prefer adopting the course 1774 recommended the other night by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell), who moved a clause that anyone who had been flogged should be drummed with disgrace out of the Service.
said, the hon. Member would not be in Order in discussing any Amendment already moved, or not yet reached, on the Paper, or in discussing any clause of the Bill on a Motion to report Progress.
§ DR. KENEALY
I assure you, Mr. Raikes, I was not about to discuss that Amendment. I referred to it merely to point out to the noble Lord, who I fancy opposed it, that if we have so many " ruffians " in our troops, as he supposes, we ought to adopt the quickest mode of getting rid of them. What good can the country gain by retaining such persons? I would, as the hon. Member for Meath proposed, drum them out at once, as unfit to be among brave men. Would not that be better than flogging them? Flogging is not likely to make them morally better or physically braver; on the contrary, it is more likely to harden them in their vices; and all the martinets on earth cannot persuade me otherwise. And here I should have ceased, were it not for the extraordinary speech of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), who seems to have dropped upon us all of a sudden out of the sky; and who has enlivened the debate by some astounding statements. The hon. Gentleman reminds me of Rip Van Winkle, who woke up after a sleep of 100 years; and could hardly believe that everything was not as it had been when he lay down. The hon. Gentleman fancies that flogging exists in the other Armies of Europe—indeed, he tells us so—and he argues, therefore, that while they keep it up so should we. Never was a wilder statement made; and when it comes from a Gentleman who is supposed to have made foreign affairs his study it almost takes away one's breath. The hon. Gentleman ought to know that flogging has been abandoned in every European Army except our own; and if he can give us no better proofs of what he avers than that he once saw a Russian officer cane a common soldier, that is not flogging. But the hon. Gentleman's silence on one Army which may be called European, 1775 and of which he must have seen something in his recent travels, is significant. I mean the Turkish Army. If flogging existed among the Turks, the hon. Gentleman would have been glad to support his notions by mentioning that fact. He has not done so—from which I draw the inference that it does not exist. If, then, the " barbarous Turk," as he is designated, has polished flogging, how much more ought we, who pride ourselves on our " civilization?" Personally, I do not know whether the Turk resorts to the military lash or not; but I do know that no soldiery in Europe is subject to it but our own. And I refer to the hon. Gentleman's statements the more particularly for this reason—That if he who has devoted his study to foreign affairs does not know this, how many other Gentlemen, who have not had his leisure and opportunities, are probably under a like mistake? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War can enlighten us all in the easiest manner—although I have no doubt he well knows that we are the only nation who have military flogging. But if any doubt exists ho can clear it up. Prom the various Legations in London, proof can be obtained without difficulty or delay. A single Circular will elicit answers that may instruct, while they astonish, the hon. Member for Christchurch. And it would be well, before hon. Members were called upon finally to vote on this question, that they should be correctly informed on the subject. If anything, is certain, it is that flogging has ceased in Europe, and the letter which the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) read proved that it has been abolished in the United States; and no one can assert that the discipline of their Army is in any way inferior to that of our own. In conclusion, Mr. Raikes, I would say to Her Majesty's Ministers, lose no time in doing away with this abominable stigma on our country, its Armies, and our Christianity. The men of England, from whom your soldiers are taken, hate it with all their hearts. The women of England, whose sons and brothers are exposed to it, abhor the brutal system. You may soon have to face the country. Do not give your enemies such boundless opportunity for holding you up to public odium, as you will if you cling to the cat. I know—for it is my province to 1776 know—the feelings of vast bodies on this subject; and I can tell you, with full authority, that next to their widespread and deeply-rooted dislike to the Game Laws is the feeling of masses of our countrymen and countrywomen against the accursed custom of flogging in the Army.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. BIGGAR
confessed that it was exceedingly difficult to understand what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War did mean to convey in his speech of Saturday. Members on that side of the House tried to extract from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman his real meaning; and when they said they put a certain construction on his utterances he neither affirmed or denied the truth of that assumption as to his intentions. Was it a judicious thing for a Minister to abstain from trying to make his speech understood when a doubt existed on the point? Had the Secretary of State for War given an explanation time would have been saved, not only on Saturday, but that day as well. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman surely might have taken upon himself the authority to say he would abolish flogging in the Army, in the full belief that his Colleagues would assent to the course he had pursued, remembering that they invariably supported any action of their subordinates, while the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was a very important Member of the Ministry, and would, therefore, be sure of approval of his conduct. He believed the Secretary of State for War, individually, was in favour of polishing flogging; and that on Saturday, when he addressed the Committee, he intended to get rid of it; but private pressure had prevented his doing so. The only way for the Committee to get out of the difficulty it was now in would be for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, even at that time, to say lie would confine flogging to a few of the more serious crimes. By the Bill before the Committee, the punishment of death might be inflicted for the most nominal crimes, which no court martial would impose on persons guilty of such offences with any intention of its being carried out. That being so, under the 1777 present proposals of the Government, the men guilty of very small crimes would be liable to be flogged after having been sentenced to death. If the Government persisted in this course, then the contention must go on, with the probable result of the Government finally giving way, and resolving to abolish the use of the cat altogether. It had been suggested that the opinion of Sir Garnet Wolseley, as to retaining this mode of punishment, should be asked; but, before the General's answer could he obtained, the end of the Session Gould have been reached. In addition to that, experience of Sir Garnet Wolseley was pretty general; and although he (Mr. Biggar) did not wish to speak harshly of the gallant General, yet, at the same time, he could not forget that all persons in the Service had not the same opinion as to the propriety of applying to him for such advice. Beside that, experience had taught them that Naval and Military officers generally gave in their adhesion to the principle of flogging in the Services. The Members of that House did not represent the Army or Navy of England, but the people of the United Kingdom. The hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Waddy) had suggested that a Division should be taken on the question of flogging, and that the majority should rule the minority. He certainly should object to such a mode of settlement. Although the Members of that House who were opposed to flogging were in the minority, yet he believed they reflected the opinions of the majority of the people in reference to the question. The argument in favour of flogging in the British Army—a practice which was not indulged in by any of the Continental nations — was that the ruffians who joined it should stand in fear of something; but he would remind the Committee that the larger proportion of English soldiers were well-conducted men, and they ought not to be liable to such a punishment for a trivial crime. The system was not needed in Continental Armies, because such good discipline was maintained there as compared to the Army of England, in which the officers either did not show a good example to the men, or did not take enough interest in their corps, leaving the real duties to the non-commissioned 1778 officers. He asked the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to tell the Committee plainly what he intended to do, and not ask hon. Members to rely upon Schedules, which, unless very much modified from the views the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had that day expressed, could not possibly be satisfactory to the Committee, and must be rejected. He appealed to the Conservative Members to assist the Government in their evident desire to abolish flogging, not a single Member of the Front Bench having adduced a pretence or reason for continuing it. The Secretary of State for War had only retained the form of punishment, because someone behind the scenes —he would not say who—had. told him that the discipline of the Army could not otherwise be insured.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, a great deal of misapprehension and misunderstanding existed on the question before the Committee. Hon. Members had been told that the House had affirmed the principle of flogging by a large majority—in fact, a majority of 41. That was quite true; but he ventured to say, when the House came to that conclusion, all the more important facts with regard to the question were not before it. Hon. Members were then told by the supporters of the Government proposal that flogging, even in the field, was very rare, and that in the Army at that time engaged in hostilities with Afghanistan not a single case had occurred to necessitate the use of the lash. It was also said flogging was rarely resorted to on board ship. But what had happened since then had given quite another complexion to the matter. It had been admitted that night by two of the supporters of the Government—the noble and gallant Lord the Member for the County of Waterford (Lord Charles Beresford), who was at present the commander of one of Her Majesty's ships, and the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price), who had been in the Navy—that each had witnessed scores of flogging in the Navy. Such a statement, coming, not from veterans, but, comparatively speaking, young officers, showed the extent to which the lash had been used. But the noble and gallant Lord the Member for the County of Waterford supplemented his statement by saying that it was not the worthless men who required flogging, but the good men—such men as the noble 1779 and gallant Lord would like to have at his back when boarding an enemy's ship. Such a statement deserved very serious attention and consideration, and should be pondered over and weighed very carefully. The noble and gallant Lord had further said that these men must be flogged, or otherwise they would have to be imprisoned for two years. Not knowing much of the provisions of the Naval Discipline Act, he (Mr. Parnell) had inquired whether a man could not be sentenced to a less term of imprisonment than two years, and the reply was that he could be; but that an offence against discipline was so serious that it must be very heavily punished. The noble and gallant Lord considered two dozen lashes to be equally severe as two years' hard labour. He wished to point out to the Committee that there had been considerable misapprehension as to the attitude of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. He was in the House on Saturday when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman made a statement; and while not charging him with intending to deceive the Committee, he must say that the result of his observations was that the Committee was deceived. Not only were Members on the Opposition side of the House deceived, but also Members who supported the Government. He wished the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General would listen to him.
§ MR. A. MOORE
I rise to Order. I heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General say he would not listen to my hon. Friend the Member for Meath. I wish to ask if that is in Order?
The hon. Member should be aware that it is impossible for the Committee to take cognizance of an expression of any hon. Member made to another hon. Member beside him. I must call on the hon. Member for Meath to address the Chair.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he would do so. Despite the want of a desire on the part of the Judge Advocate General to hear 1780 him, he should ask the Committee to listen. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had said that lie was responsible for the discipline of the Army; but he went on to say that he had no doubt, in a very short time, when he came to the Schedules, he would be able to make a statement which would be satisfactory to the Committee. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman could not then have had in his mind the statement he had made that day, or otherwise he would not have said he believed his observations would be satisfactory to the Committee. No one could have supposed, after such a statement, that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would have addressed the Committee as he had that night. The intentions of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on Saturday were not those which he had expressed that day. Within the interval of three days some pressure had been brought to bear upon the right hon. and gallant Gentleman of which nothing was known. It was not Parliamentary pressure, but outside pressure, which a Minister of the Crown ought not to yield to. There had been a radical change in his policy from Saturday to Monday. The impression left on the mind of the Committee on Saturday by the observations of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was that he would polish flogging entirely; so he was understood by the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), and by another supporter of the Government. In fact, the same impression was left on all Members of the House who were present. It was not until an hon. Member who sat below the Gangway had made a violent attack upon the Government and exclaimed against this change of front, that the Secretary of State for War took up an equivocal position. Subsequently, owing to outside pressure, his attitude became worse than it was two months ago. The Government had told the Committee a month ago that they would introduce a Schedule into the Bill which would have the effect of limiting the punishment of flogging to a number of offences of a very grave character indeed, and which could not be punished in any other way. They said that they should be offences connected with the safety of the Army in the field, or else to offences of a disgraceful character; 1781 and they now said they were going to schedule a list of 40 offences. He was very much disappointed at the change which had come over the views of the Government. The Committee had been allowed to believe that the offences contemplated by Government were of a very different character; and he himself had withdrawn an Amendment which raised the question of flogging; because it was pointed out that if flogging in the Army were abolished, flogging in military prisons would also be abolished; ands he had withdrawn an Amendment providing certain safeguards with which he had thought it necessary that this punishment, if continued, should be fenced with. The Committee had been deceived. He did not charge the Secretary of State for War with having deceived the Committee; but he did charge him with deplorable weakness in not being able to stick to his own opinions for 24 hours' running. The offences scheduled in this Bill, far from being of a very grave character, were many of them very simple. The Government had now told the Committee that they were going to abolish flogging, except for offences punishable with death. But the Bill enumerated 40 offences, many of which were of the most trivial character, and all of which, according to the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, unless his statement was susceptible of further explanation in the direction of limitation, would be punishable by flogging, inasmuch as they were, according to the Bill as it stood, punishable with death. After the interest which the Committee had shown, and the attitude which the Government had taken up with reference to this question, after the expression of the humane feelings which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman undoubtedly possessed—the Committee were expected to weigh against all this the views of a certain high military official who, as the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) had pointed out, was not a judge of the question. It was really too bad that the Committee, having spent so many hours and days over this question, should now be told that their labour had been in vain. After very careful observation of the conduct of the Business of the House, he concluded that the persons most responsible for the obstruction of Government Business were the Government 1782 themselves. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had told the Committee that obstruction was a terrible thing; but he could tell him that there were things worse even than obstruction. The habit had recently sprung upon the House of charging against minorities the crime of obstruction, which was a serious offence against the law of Parliament, and had been so ruled by a high authority. But if the majority in the House were to be encouraged in this growing habit of charging deliberate obstruction upon hon. Members who opposed this Bill, he would tell the Secretary of State for War that he Gas himself striking a far more serious blow against the English Constitution than the most persistent obstruction could effect. The freedom of minorities had ever been the protection of Parliamentary liberties, and by minorities, in times past, the power of Government had been built up. What would have happened in clays gone by if, in the Parliamentary struggles of this country where fierce passions were raised, it had been in the power of a majority to charge the minority with obstruction by putting that charge to the rough-and-ready test of a Division? The course of events in England must, sooner or later, amount to this—that the principles represented by the present Government, and the Party who followed them, must hereafter be in a long-continued minority. And they Gould then require to be preserved intact all the Forms of the House in order that they might receive that fair play which they seemed indisposed to allow to a small minority on the present occasion. He agreed that nobody ought wilfully to obstruct Public Business; but there was a great difference between opposing the passage of a bad Bill or an indifferent Bill, which tried to impose vicious and false principles, and obstructing all useful legislation. But this obstruction, even if it had commenced at all, was not commenced by hon. Members on his side of the House, but by hon. Members opposite when they were in a minority. He found there had been considerable obstruction to the Clerical Disabilities Bill on the 17th of June, 1870; but that obstruction was of a character not often resorted to by the present minority in the House in opposing vicious Government measures. On the occasion re- 1783 ferred to he found that the present Home Secretary moved the adjournment of the debate; that another Conservative Member (Mr. Guest) moved, subsequently, the adjournment of the debate; that the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), who was now a prominent supporter of the Government, and who was now also a party to inveighing against the present terrible scene of obstruction, moved the adjournment of the House; that Mr. Raikes moved the adjournment of the debate; that the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Heygate) moved the adjournment of the debate; that the hon. Member (Mr. Starkie), a Parliamentary supporter of the Party then out of Office, moved the adjournment of the House; that the hon. Member for North Lincolnshire, and one of the present Lords of the Treasury (Mr. Rowland Winn), moved the adjournment of the debate; that an hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Charles Lindsay), connected with the War Office in some capacity or other, moved the adjournment of the House; and, finally, that the hon. Member for Rutland (Mr. Finch) wound up by moving the adjournment of the debate. Thus 10 Divisions were taken against the Clerical Disabilities Bill. But this was not all. He found that on the 14th of July, 1870, in Committee on the Education Bill—which had since received the sanction of Parliament, which had been found to work well, and which had been approved of by both sides of the House—the same means, which would be described as of a very obstructive character, if they were resorted to by hon. Members on his side of the House on the present occasion, were employed to stop the progress of the Bill. On that occasion, he found that Mr. Guest moved that Progress be reported; that Mr. Vance moved that the Chairman do leave the Chair; and that the Chief Secretary for Ireland moved that Progress be reported—and these were the Motions which followed each other at intervals until a quarter past 5 in the morning. Again, on the 16th of March, 1871, in the debate on the Army Purchase Bill—which was of a very different character to the present, consisting only of a few clauses—he found, after a Motion to adjourn the debate, that Mr. Robert Fowler moved that the debate be adjourned; that the present Secretary of State for the Colonies 1784 (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) moved that the debate be adjourned; that the right hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) moved that the House be adjourned; and that the noble Earl the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy), the adjournment of the debate. Going on a little further, he came to the fourth night of obstruction, the 8th May, when he found that the adjournment of the debate was moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Hereford (Colonel Arbuthnot), who was much interested in the progress of the Bill; and that the Home Secretary, and many other Gentlemen now sitting on the Front Government Bench, took a prominent part in Divisions of this kind, which took place all night long. He hoped he had sufficiently proved the antiquity of obstruction. But if it was allowable for Conservative Members, in 1870 and 1871, to carry out the most objectionable form of obstruction against good Bills, which had been admirably justified by their results, and if those hon. Gentlemen were to be rewarded by receiving seats, in almost every case, upon the Government Benches, as soon as the Conservative Government came into power, surely the Government and the public ought not to object to hon. Members, who happened to be at the present time in a minority, endeavouring to amend the imperfections in the present Bill, not by moving to report Progress or the adjournment of the debate, but by asking Members opposite to enter into the merits of the question, and defend their views. He hoped that, in persisting to carry out what they believed to be right, the Committee might be allowed to continue the discussion of the question of flogging without vague threats of punishment, and in the amicable spirit which all desired.
§ MR. ASSHETON
was not going to follow the hon. Member for Meath into the cases of obstruction which occurred seven years ago, but had ascertained for himself what was the amount of obstruction on Saturday last; and he found that the Committee, although they sat for 10 hours, did two hours' work only. He denied that the Secretary of State for War had implied any intention, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, that flogging in the Army should be abolished. The right hon. 1785 and gallant Gentleman had simply said that Her Majesty's Government would consider for what offences it should be given, and for what it should not; and that was in no way inconsistent with the course followed by them on that occasion.
said, that had the Government taken his suggestion, to pass from Clause 141 to Clause 196, they would not have found themselves at half-past 11 on Saturday evening where they might have been at 9 o'clock. In reply to the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Assheton), he wished to say that ho had witnessed much obstruction in the House which was entirely caused by the Government. Ho had been in the House when two days were wasted on a Bill of the Government, in discussing a Motion which they well knew would be set aside; and thins waste of time was declared by the whole Press of the country to be due to the management of the Government.
§ COLONEL ALEXANDER
rose to point out to the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) that the offences which he had enumerated were not punishable with death, and that, therefore, upon the proposal of the Government, they were not punishable with flogging. It was expressly stated, in the margin of the Bill, that these offences were not punishable with death. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan) had put down an Amendment on the Paper which he moved, with regard to the 44th clause, and which was the same in principle as that now adopted by Her Majesty's Government. The proposal of the Government, therefore, carried out the views of the hon. and gallant Member.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
thought it would have been well if the suggestion made by his noble Friend the Member for the Radnor Boroughs (the Marquess of Hartington) had been accepted; but the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down tempted him for a moment to deviate from the advice of the noble Lord. He thought it would be well to raise a discussion on the merits of the question when the Committee had an opportunity of discussing the Government's suggestion; but it would not be a loss of time clearly to understand what those suggestions really were. The result of the Government suggestions was that there would still remain 33 specific offences punish 1786 able with death; and, therefore, there would he 33 offences still to be punished with corporal punishment. It was true these offences would be assumed to be grave ones; but the Committee must recollect that these offences, although punishable, were also equally punishable with one day's imprisonment. The necessity for that was obvious. They must make the power of punishment elastic; because that in the field before the enemy would be a most serious offence might not be so much so under other circumstances. But the Committee were now asked to confer the power of inflicting corporal punishment, whether the offence was a large or small one. The punishment might also be inflicted in every case where the soldier was on active service, and that would include the period when he was in the occupation of any foreign country. Therefore, whether he was in the occupation of a hostile or friendly country, if it was a foreign country, he would be liable to this punishment. When they were in the occupation of Silistria or Varna, during the Crimean War, if there had been the slightest disobedience to the orders of an officer, the soldier, under this Bill, would have been liable to the infliction of corporal punishment. Military judges might think it necessary this punishment should be retained; but he was convinced it might be entirely done away with. Hitherto, he had desired to act in unison with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who had charge of this Bill, and to make progress with it; and he was sorry now to hear that this was the utmost concession the Government could make; because, when the Schedule came under discussion, he should feel compelled to move the omission of some of the 33 offences which were therein mentioned. If corporal punishment was to be inflicted at all, it must be confined to the most grave offences, and it must not be allowed in all the cases at present proposed. He now ventured to suggest that they should no longer discuss the question of reporting Progress; but they should proceed with the clauses, and renew the discussion as to corporal punishment when they came to the Schedules.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
did not think the five hours' discussion which they had had had been wasted, because they had got important concessions from the Go- 1787 vernment; and he hoped, by a little further obstruction, they would obtain more. He was convinced, in the long run, they would succeed in getting from the Government all he understood on Saturday they were about to grant. As to obstruction, he thought it was most unfair to charge hon. Members with unduly discussing this Bill. The hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) had mentioned some cases of obstruction, and there was another one which he recollected. During the time the Divorce Bill of Sir Richard Bethell was under discussion, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) declared he would oppose it, line by line, and word by word, and that lie would not omit a single opportunity of obstructing its progress. In this case, the obstruction did not come from the Opposition side below the Gangway alone; because he was quite convinced there were many hon. Members sitting in close proximity to himself who agreed in the opinion which had been over and over again expressed in this Committee —that the time had arrived when this punishment should be put an end to. He was altogether surprised, that night, to hear the Secretary of State for War, after what he had said on Saturday, say that the punishment was still to be retained in the case of 33 offences which were punishable with death. He did not think the time of the Committee had been wasted; and lie hoped that now, even at the eleventh hour, the Government would be inclined to make a still further concession, and yield to the expressed opinion of so many hon. Members. He had all along maintained that this Bill was a cumbersome, ill-conditioned piece of patch-work sort of The hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) had told them, in so many words, the other night, that the Bill ought to have been divided into two parts, and each separately discussed. At this moment, they had a Committee appointed to inquire into the organization and regulation of the Army; and yet the Government thought this a fitting moment to raise the whole of the question of flogging. He should have thought it would have been better to have allowed the present Mutiny Act to continue in force until they had the Report of that Committee before them. He would almost go down 1788 on his knees to the Government, and ask them whether, after three weeks' discussion, they would not now, in reason, in justice, and in common fairness, yield upon the point which they were evidently inclined to yield upon on Saturday last. He was afraid it was some influence out-of-doors that had induced them to change that opinion. Thu hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had told them that he knew the intentions of the Government were very fairly disposed towards the general sense of the Committee, but that influences out-of-doors were acting upon them to prevent their carrying out their desires. It was, however, idle to imagine they could make progress with the Bill while this punishment was retained for the offences which it was. He, therefore, hoped they would get a definite pledge front the Government that they would yield to the wishes of the Committee and of the country. Let the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, as Leader of the House, always showed a disposition to conciliate all parties, rise at once, and tell them what really were the intentions of the Government.
THE CHANCELLOR OF TEE EXCHEQUER
Time right hon. Baronet appeals to mo to state the intentions of the Government. We have already stated, some hours ago, what our intentions are. The intention of the Government is to propose a Schedule, in which there will be a list of the offences to be punished by corporal punishment, these being offences which are punishable with death. That is the proposal of the Government; and whenever we come to that Schedule we shall be prepared to support that proposal at any length the Committee may think fit. I do not think, however, that the Motion to report Progress is the best form in which to discuss the matter; and, therefore, I hope we may now be allowed to proceed with the clauses.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
wished to point out that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the first Member of the Government who had spoken for something like five hours; and the right hon. Gentleman had been good enough to repeat what he said were the intentions of the Government; and if they were to take literally what he had said, they were now, perhaps, to assume they had nailed their colours to the mast, and, would, 1789 make no further surrender. Now that decision might be satisfactory to some of the supporters of the Government; but he confessed he was surprised at it, because on Saturday last it was declared there was no desire to maintain the practice of flogging and he should attach more importance to the statement just made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were it not for the fact that similar declarations had been previously made, and the Government had subsequently given way. The Secretary of State for War said he would not schedule in the Bill the offences for which flogging might be administered; but now those offences were to be scheduled. Again, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman declared he could not see his way to reducing the number of lashes; but now they knew the lashes had been reduced from 50 to 25. Therefore, in spite of the positive statements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was sanguine the time was fast approaching—he was not at all certain it would not come that night—when the Government would alter their mind, and agree, as it was on Saturday understood they would do, to the abolition of this punishment. The speech which they had just heard from the right hon. Baronet was significant, because it represented a great deal of inarticulate feeling on the Government side of the House. They had had few hon. Gentlemen on that side to get up and say they disapproved of flogging, or to defend the practice. As to obstruction, it did not come from those on his side of the House. It was the Government and its supporters who were preventing the passing of this Bill, by now refusing to give way on a point on which they intended to give way on Saturday last. It was known the Government only gave way after persistent opposition; and they would very materially shorten these proceedings, if they would tell the Committee how much longer they intended this opposition should be carried on before they gave way. No one had said the Secretary of State for War gave a distinct pledge on Saturday that he would abolish flogging altogether; but what was said was, that he left a distinct impression on the minds of the Members of the Committee that he intended to give way. That was the interpretation put on his language at the time, and he neither said or did any- 1790 thing to negative that interpretation. Therefore, there was no doubt that hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House had been deceived, although he did not say they had been intentionally deceived. He would go to this extent, however, and say that the conduct of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was perfectly inconsistent with any other hypothesis than that he intended to give way on Monday. The concession which the Government had promised was altogether an unsatisfactory one, because it would be difficult to define what offences should be included in the Schedule. The fact was the Government had really made no concession at all. He might confidently say for himself, and for many other hon. Members who acted with him in endeavouring to procure the abolition of the punishment of flogging, that they had not the Elections in view when they took up the question. For his own part—and he was sure he might say the same for his hon. Friends near him—the course which he now pursued was perfectly consistent with the opinions which he had always expressed on the subject before ever he had the honour of a seat in that House. He was only stating now what he had long before stated out-of-doors; but while he was desirous of discharging conscientiously what he believed to be his duty, he Gould admit that the question was an electioneering question, and one which hon. Gentlemen opposite would find to be a very awkward one when they came to face it, as they soon would have to do, upon the hustings. Hon. Gentlemen opposite objected to having the abolition of flogging made an electioneering cry; but why, he would ask, did they not frustrate the aims of those whom they accused of seeking to make it one? why did they not secure to themselves the credit and the honour of abolishing a system which was degrading to the soldier, and to which they must know the country was opposed?
§ COLONEL STANLEY
said, he must once more enter his protest against insinuations which, however they might be explained, practically amounted to the imputation that he had misled the Committee, or permitted it to be misled, by the statement which he had made on Saturday. What he then said with regard to corporal punishment was, that when the Committee came to the Sche- 1791 dules ho should deem it to be his duty to make a statement which he hoped would be satisfactory. Several hon. Gentlemen had thereupon risen in their places and had put their own interpretation on the words that he had uttered, and questions had been put to him, by hon. Members sitting in different parts of the House, with respect to the intentions of the Government with regard to the abolition of flogging. He had, however, while taking note of the interpretation which had been put upon his words, distinctly guarded himself against being supposed to acquiesce in that interpretation, although he had deemed it the more convenient course to take to abstain from formally disclaiming it until a later period of the Sitting. He then distinctly stated that he declined to be responsible for the various interpretations which had been put on what he said—that when the Schedules were reached he hoped to be able to make an announcement which would be satisfactory to the Committee, but that he could say nothing more; and that, although hon. Gentlemen were, of course, at liberty to place upon his words any construction they might please, they must do so on their own responsibility. And he could not help adding that, though hon. Members opposite disclaimed the intention of casting any imputation upon his personal character, they repeated, however courteously they might seek to disguise it, or however much they might wish to abstain from any personal allusion, the allegation that he had misled the House on Saturday. But there was, he maintained, no inconsistency between what he said on Saturday and what ho had said that evening; and though he was perfectly well aware that there was a strong objection, on the part of many hon. Members, to having recourse to flogging as a punishment under any circumstances, he was sanguine enough to hope that the statement which, on behalf of the Government, it had been his duty to make a few hours before, was one which was satisfactory to the majority of the Committee. So much for that point; but advice had been given, also, from various parts of the House as to the mode of proceeding with the Bill. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) had that evening, as, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman had taken the opportunity of doing 1792 at almost every stage of the Bill, given the Government a friendly reminder as to the impossibility of passing the Bill, and the desirability of abandoning it for the present. Notwithstanding, however, the long discussions which they had had, the Committee had succeeded in passing 146 or 147 clauses out of 180; and he was sanguine enough to expect that they would, before long, reach the end of the Bill; for as the remaining clauses did not involve the question of corporal punishment, there was every reason to hope that the Committee would proceed to deal with them in a business-like way. Then, when they came to the Schedules which the Government had promised to lay on the Table, he would be perfectly ready to discuss any point which hon. Gentlemen might choose to raise. He would remind the Committee that if, as had been pointed out by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan), it had been the wish of the Government to evade the question of flogging, they might have dealt with it by proposing the introduction of some Amendment with respect to it in Clause 44 on the Report, and so have avoided the necessity of producing a Schedule at all. The Government, instead of taking that course, however, had gone out of their way to supply a Schedule upon which a fair opportunity of discussing the whole subject would be afforded. He trusted that the Motion for reporting Progress would, therefore, bed withdrawn, in order that the remaining clauses of the Bill might be proceeded with in the same spirit in which the Committee had approached the discussion of the provisions of the Bill in the early part of the evening.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
thought the Government must now be aware that the Committee were very much in earnest with regard to the question of flogging. The fact was, that not only in that House, but in the minds of the public out-of-doors, there was a strong and a well-grounded feeling that flogging Gas a cruel and degrading punishment which ought not to be continued. An hon. Member of that House, who represented an Irish constituency more than 50 years ago, introduced a Bill for the prevention of cruelty to animals. The reception which that proposal met was not at first very flattering; but few hon. Members would deny that a good work bad been done 1793 by the legislations which had taken place on the subjects. And what would now, he would ask, be thought of anyone who would propose that a man should be at liberty cruelly to flog his incorrigibly vicious horse as an alternative to putting it to death, to do which latter he still had the power? Such a proposal would be regarded as an absolute mockery. A man did not put his horses to death because he intended to get good work out of them; and, therefore, the most complete power of punishment with death might safely be given to the ordinary owner of a horse or a donkey; but the humanitarians here most properly stepped in and carried Martin's Act, which said that animals must not be cruelly punished. The case was quite analogous, he thought, to that which the Committee was engaged in discussing. Too much power possibly had been given to commanding officers to inflict the punishment of death on soldiers when in the presence of an enemy or engaged in a foreign country in the field; but that power had been conceded because it was felt that it was one which would seldom or never be abused. It was a very serious thing to put a fellow-creature to death, and a commanding officer would think twice before doing so. The Committee were not afraid, therefore, that the power would bed abused; but they were afraid that the power of flogging might be abused. He had not troubled the Committee with many observations on the Bill; but he would be altogether, he thought, failing to do his duty if he did not bear his testimony to the statement that it was from a feeling very much higher and better than anything connected with electioneering objects which caused his hon. Friends near him to offer so strong an opposition to the infliction of the degrading punishment of flogging.
§ MR. ONSLOW
had no wish to prolong the discussion, but was desirous of assuring hon. Gentlemen opposite that those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House were thoroughly in earnest in their determination to support the views of the Government with respect to the question at issue. He hoped, therefore, his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not give way on the present occasion, but that he would stand to his guns. The hon. Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. 1794 Milbank) had given the Committee his experience of the use of the cat; but he should like to ask the hon. Member whether, when the Liberal Party was in Office, he had ever brought forward the cases to which he had called the attention of the Committee that evening. The agitation which was now got up about flogging seemed to him, he must confess, nothing more than a Party agitation, the object of which was to throw dust in the eyes of the Conservative Party, and which was started at the last moment in the belief that there would soon be a General Election. The country would, however, lie had no doubt, soon see through the device; and he would point out that the advice of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition did not appear to be followed by any one of those hon. Gentlemen whom he was supposed to lead. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who sat upon the same Benches with the noble Lord repudiated his words, and contended that the course which was taken by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) was a perfectly legitimate one. The country would not fail to see, under those circumstances, that the Liberal Party had, practically, at the present moment no Leader whatsoever. The fact was, hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to catch the votes of the constituencies, and were afraid that they would lose the support of the Irish electors if they were to act in opposition to the feeling of a certain section of the Irish Representatives in that House. He believed, however, that before many hours had passed they would see how matters really stood, and would admit the truth of the statement, that the objections urged from the opposite side of the House against the proposals of the Government were made for the purpose of setting up a Party cry. He regretted very much that the Government should have been placed in the position in which it had been placed, because he should like to see a strong Government confronted by a strong Opposition, of whatever Party its Members might be composed. But hon. Gentlemen opposite refused to follow the advice of their Leader; and the country would soon learn what was the worth of that Liberal Party against which the Government had to contend, and which was led by hon. Members sitting below the Gangway.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
said, he was in the House on Saturday, and felt it his duty to say a few words on the point now under discussion; because he thought he could remove, by his testimony, a little of the misunderstanding which seemed to have arisen between the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War and his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain). He was not in the House on Saturday when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman made the first speech which had so frequently been referred to, in which he said that he hoped to be able to make a statement which would be satisfactory to the Committee; but he was in the House when, in answer to several hon. Members, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman repeated the assurance which he had previously given. The impression which was left on the minds, at all events, of those who sat on the Opposition side of the House by the words of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had been, he thought, very clearly stated by the hon. Member for Birmingham on the present occasion. What he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) had understood the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to say was that although he was not prepared entirely to abolish the punishment of flogging, yet that it was his intention to make certain large and definite concessions which he hoped would be satisfactory to all the Members of the Committee, and more particularly to those who entertained a strong feeling on the subject of flogging. He did not, however, in the least understand the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to promise that he would polish flogging altogether; but what he had expected from his statement was that, as the hon. Member for Birmingham had pointed out, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman meant so to limit the infliction of that punishment as to make it a rare exception to a large and liberal general rule. The question now arose, how had that pledge been fulfilled? and when the position of the matter was fairly considered, the Committee, he could not help thinking, had not the slightest right to complain that the hon. Member for Birmingham had raised the present discussion, because it was clear that the Committee were divided in opinion as to the course which the Government really 1796 intended to adopt. The hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), followed by several other hon. Members, took one view of the promise which they had made, while exactly the opposite view was taken by the hon. Member for Birmingham. The hon. and learned Member for Louth, with his knowledge of law—and the question at issue turned, to a great extent, on the interpretation of legal ordinances—said that he regarded the concessions that had been made by the Government as large and important, inasmuch as they would, in his opinion, have the effect of abolishing the punishment of flogging in three-fourths, if not five-sixths, of the cases in which it could now be inflicted. The hon. and learned Gentleman then appealed to the Government to sweep it away in regard to the remaining one-sixth, and thus completely satisfy the Committee and facilitate the progress of the Bill. But if the hon. Member for Birmingham was right, the concessions which the Government had announced it to be their intention to make were perfectly illusory; and it would be much better to wait to see what the proposals of the Government really were when the Schedule which had been promised had been laid before the Committee. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had, with his usual clearness and courtesy, informed the Committee that that Schedule would contain all those military offences for which the punishment of death might now be inflicted. It was also stated by the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James) that the number of those offences was 33; while another hon. Member had fixed the number at 40. Now, for his own part, not having any knowledge of military law, he should wish to see the Schedule before proceeding with the remaining clauses of the Bill; and he would suggest that the Government should allow the further consideration of it to stand over until the Schedule was produced. That would be a better mode of proceeding, in his opinion, than that the Committee should continue to wrangle over the question of reporting Progress. It would depend very much on the changes which were proposed by the Government whether the Bill would go on or not; and, therefore, the argument used by some hon. Gentlemen opposite, that because the 1797 subsequent clauses of the Bill did not relate to flogging it would be well to proceed to discuss them at once, was not one, he thought, to which the hon. Member for Birmingham was at all bound to yield. Hon. Gentlemen opposite ought not to complain if hon. Members below the Gangway on the Opposition side of the House did not accept that argument as a matter of course. At that late hour of the evening, why should there be so much opposition to reporting Progress when it must, in any case, be reported an hour or two later, he could not understand. But there was another matter to which he wished, also, briefly to refer. It was rumoured in the Lobby that a great meeting of hon. Gentlemen opposite had been held that afternoon, with the view of enabling certain straight-backed military Gentlemen to put a little strength into what they considered to be the weak knees of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. and, gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. Those military martinets—he could use no other expression—were, it appeared, of opinion that the concessions which had been made by the Government to the humanitarians were too large, and had urged that if the punishment of flogging were polished the maintenance of discipline in the Army would be endangered. He had heard that the Prime Minister had addressed the meeting in a speech which lasted an hour; and, under these circumstances, hon. Members opposite could scarcely, ho thought, with justice, complain if those who objected to flogging in the Army regarded the question as sufficiently grave to justify them in asking the Committee to report Progress, in order that they might see the promised Schedule, and be allowed further time for consideration. The Judge Advocate General—that great statesman—[Cries of "Withdraw!"] He saw no reason why he should withdraw the expression, for he had a very great respect for the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who walked about the House as if he had the Schedule in his pocket, and who was supposed to be a Judge, an Advocate, and a General all in one, although, perhaps, like the Holy Roman Empire—which had been described by Voltaire as being neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire—the 1798 right hon. and learned Gentleman might be neither a Judge, nor an Advocate, nor a General; but, be that as it might, he should have thought that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have come down to the House that evening with the Schedule already prepared; and he Gould now ask him to consider the matter, so that he might be ready to lay it on the Table when the House met at 2 o'clock the next day. Then the Committee would see what the military offences were which it contained, and would be able to judge whether the remaining clauses of the Bill should be proceeded with or not. There was, he admitted, a great deal that was good in the Bill; but, rightly or wrongly, the question of flogging had taken a great hold of the public mind, and it was necessary that it should be satisfactorily disposed of. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last said that those who were now so strongly in favour of the abolition of flogging had not urged their views upon the late Government.
§ MR. ONSLOW
I referred to the cases mentioned by the hon. Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Milbank).
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
The hon. Gentleman also said that the question was now raised or electioneering purposes; but he had not the slightest hesitation in saying that that was an entirely unfounded assertion. For his own part, he had never sought to prolong the discussions on the Bill, and he had been in the House almost the whole of Saturday with the view of supporting the Government, because he expected that they would make a statement which would be clear and satisfactory to the Committee. He did not regret the small help which he then gave to the Government; although he had been attacked by some hon. Members who sat below the Gangway on his own side of the House for supporting them. He thought it right, however, to support them, and he had not shrunk from doing so. But he should not shrink from attacking the Government, or supporting the hon. Member for Birmingham on an occasion like the present. He had to apologize to the Committee for the length at which he had spoken; but he wished to make it clear to the Government that he had no desire to obstruct the progress of the Bill, and to express his opinion 1799 that they might, without any loss of dignity or time, accept the proposal for reporting Progress. They might then instruct their Judge Advocate General to consult those great and illustrious personages with whom he was always in communication, so that he might to-morrow be able to come down to the House with a Schedule which would be the admiration of posterity, and which he might hand down to his successors as a model of statesmanship and as his title to glory in future ages.
§ SIR CHARLES RUSSELL
wished to point out to the Committee that the noble Lord who had just spoken, and who, he, dared say, had always been a consistent humanitarian, had been a party to the passing of clauses under which the punishment of death might be inflicted, although he now suddenly found that his conscience would not permit him to assent to the substitution of flogging for the same offences. Now, it was, in his opinion, a perfect outrage to their common sense to try to induce the Committee to suppose that if the private soldiers in the Army were consulted to-morrow it would not be found that they were only too thankful that the alternative punishment of flogging was sanctioned by the Bill. As to what had taken place at Varna, he could state, of his own knowledge, that not a single English soldier had been flogged there. He recollected that when he was there a French soldier had been shot one morning for sawing away a piece of timber from a bridge; but he was proud to say that in no case had it been found necessary to subject an English soldier to the lash. He was not going to enlarge on the subject; but he really thought those who took what was called the humanitarian view ought to consider the matter for a moment by the light of common sense. The fact was, however, that they turned it into a question on which to found an electioneering cry; and ho firmly believed that, during the discussions upon it, a great many hon. Members opposite were thinking more of their seats than of the soldiers. For his own part, all he could say was that he was perfectly ready to meet the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), who seemed to think that the " cat" would be flourished in the faces of the Conservative Party at the next General Election, and who, in saying so, had, he could not help think 1800 ing, let the cat out of the bag—whenever the question came to be discussed upon the hustings. Let the hon. and learned Gentleman go to barracks, where he (Sir Charles Russell) had spent the greater part of his life, and ask the soldiers there whom they looked upon as their real friends? When the question was submitted their reply would be" We do not care a bit about this flogging. You get us an extra ld. or 2d. a-day." If the matter were made the subject of an election cry, the soldier, he could assure hon. Gentlemen opposite, would soon learn who it was that stood in the way of his obtaining those advantages, which so many who sat upon the Conservative side of the House desired to confer upon him.
§ MR. E. JENKINS
wished to recall the attention of the Committee for a moment to that which was the real question before them. It had been said that now was not the time to discuss the subject of flogging; but, in his opinion, it was a fitting opportunity to discuss it, for if the Government succeeded in carrying the proposal which they had submitted to the notice of the Committee, the clauses relating to the mode in which courts martial were to be conducted would have to be most carefully considered. As the proposal of the Government stood, a man might, as had been pointed out, over and over again, be flogged for the most trifling offence, although such a punishment was not found to be necessary for the maintenance of discipline in any other Army in Europe; and he did not suppose that every hon. Member who sat on the Opposition side of the House was prepared to contend that the use of the cat should be entirely abolished; but what they were determined on was, that it should not be left to the caprice of a commanding officer to inflict the punishment of flogging for every trivial offence. He concurred with the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) in urging upon the Government the necessity of making some definite statement on the subject. The court martial clauses would certainly have to be discussed at great length unless some assurance on the subject, which was satisfactory to the Committee, was given. If matters were left in the position in which they now stood, he should certainly do everything in his power to assist his 1801 hon. Friends near him in throwing every obstacle in the way of the passing of the Bill.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that his right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State for War had already stated what the intentions of the Government on the subject were, and expressed his belief that the statement was regarded by the great majority of the Committee as satisfactory. The Government had, in fact, practically adopted the words of an Amendment which had been proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan), who had pressed his views very strongly upon their notice.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, he had never wavered in his advocacy of the total abolition of flogging; although, when the Committee decided on maintaining it, he proposed that the punishment should be inflicted only by court martial. As to the death clauses, to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Sir Charles Russell) had referred, he would point out that for the last 20 years no soldier had had the punishment of death inflicted upon him in the Army in time of war. There was no probability, therefore, he had felt that that power of inflicting such a punishment would be abused, and he had not attached very great importance to the matter. Flogging, however, was a very different thing; and the state of affairs at Varna, as described by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir Charles Russell), who said no soldier had been flogged there, must be regarded as being entirely exceptional. He had always admitted, he might add, that the Government had made a considerable concession in assenting to the reduction of the number of lashes.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
thought there could be no doubt that the majority, at all events, of those who occupied seats on the Treasury Bench sympathized with those who advocated the abolition of flogging. [" No! "] Let those hon. Gentlemen who cried " No!" speak for themselves. For his own part, he believed what he stated to be correct; and, in the present instance, it was of the utmost value to be able to appeal to the individual opinion of Members of the Government; because, if the Committee only knew that they were acting under some pressure in maintaining the system 1802 of flogging, hon. Members generally would, perhaps, feel themselves more at liberty to act in accordance with their own views on the matter, and the majority would, he believed, be glad to see so degrading a punishment done away with. As matters now stood, hon. Gentlemen opposite, he supposed, thought they were bound to support the Ministry, and so they went blindly forward in a course which was sure to land them in difficulties. But did his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department approve of flogging Why, his right hon. Friend had, three or four years ago, introduced a Bill, under the provisions of which corporal punishment was to be inflicted on the most abandoned persons—those who were charged with the commission of cruel and ferocious crimes; and what had been the action of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to that measure? He arrived at the conclusion that the punishment, while it would not deter persons from committing these crimes, might do a great deal of harm, and the Bill was withdrawn. Was he not justified, then, in supposing that his right hon. Friend did not approve of flogging in any shape or form? Again, what did his right hon. Friend say with regard to the Commission which had been appointed on the question of Penal Servitude, and of which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), and the hon. Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland), were Members? He said that if that Commission reported against the system of flogging in our prisons it would be done away with. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were, therefore, relying upon a rotten reed, if they placed any faith in the attachment of his right hon. Friend to the punishment, for the continuance of which in the Army they were contending. The right hon. Gentleman had, over and over again, shown his dislike to, his want of confidence in, he might say his hatred of, flogging; and those who were aware of his feeling on the subject honoured him for the proofs which he had given that ho hated it. He should like to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, too, whether he approved of flogging? Nobody who saw him when he felt called upon, in consequence of his official position, to make a statement on the subject of the lash, could 1803 help perceiving how painful to him was the duty, and how glad he would be to be relieved of it. But that was only what he would have expected from the right hon. Gentleman. Then, as to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, it was evident, whenever lie spoke on the subject, that he was acting under some sense of pressure, to which he deemed it to be his duty to yield, notwithstanding the arguments of those who asked that this degrading punishment should be abolished. Was it a mode of punishment which the Chancellor of the Exchequer liked? The right hon. Gentleman had, on Saturday, given the Committee to understand what he thought pout it; and the conclusion at which ho (Mr. Hopwood) had arrived was, that the four right hon. Gentlemen to whom ho had just referred very much concurred in the opinions on the subject which had been so repeatedly expressed by himself and his hon. Friends sitting near him. And in what position, he would ask, did the question now stand? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of state for War said, on Saturday, that he intended soon to make a statement which ho hoped would be satisfactory to the Committee. The result was, that he (Mr. Hopwood), and several other hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, at once came to the conclusion that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman intended to propose the abolition of flogging. There had been only two courses open to the Secretary of State for War—one, to produce a Schedule, which he had promised, and was actually now going to furnish; and the other, to make a statement of a change of intention. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman could only have meant the abolition of corporal punishment. It would be absurd to suppose he only intended to renew and perform his previous promise. That construction was openly, and at the time, put upon it; but the right hon. and gallant Gentleman now sought to disclaim responsibility for the construction. If he knew on Saturday that abolition was a conclusion which his Colleagues would not sanction, he ought to have said so. He (Mr. Hopwood) was satisfied that Ministers had contemplated abolition; and he would, therefore, like to know why the responsible Advisers of the 1804 House had not been allowed to advise the House as they had intended? Why should the House look outside for persons to control their deliberations? The hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), who still believed in the punishment, had reproached the Government, and asked why the supporters of the Party were placed in a false position? He could quite understand how keenly that reproach must have been felt, and that it had led to the scene which had since taken place somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Foreign Office. The hon. and gallant Baronet, doubtless, made his influence felt at the meeting, and declared it was yielding to those confounded Radicals below the Gangway that he so mulch objected to. It was always hard to take a lesson from your adversaries, and to have forced upon you the course which they might point out, even although that course was one which your own conscience dictated. Hence it was that the Government were likely to resist until they lost the credit of yielding; and hence it was that he demanded to know who it was outside the House that Gas controlling the deliberations within? Ho repeated, that if the Government had not meant abolition, they ought to have said so, and not allowed their opponents to go away under a wrong impression. It was shameful that the shoulders of men—whether they were Englishmen, Irishmen, or Scotchmen, alone of the freer men of Europe—should be bared and beaten. To whatever class or denomination they might belong, or however degraded they might be, such treatment was not likely to improve them; however cowardly they might be, it was not likely to make them braver.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, that one expression had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken which compelled him to address a few words to the Committee. The hon. and learned Member had referred to him as the individual who led him; but he must repudiate all responsibility as to that on this occasion. In his opinion, the course which the hon. and learned Gentleman, and those who were acting with him, had pursued —no doubt, for excellent reasons, and from conscientious motives—was ill-advised, and extremely prejudicial to what 1805 he conceived to be a much more important matter than even flogging in the Army— namely, the dignity of Parliament. He did not want to dictate to the hon. and learned Gentleman; but as he had acted in direct opposition to the advice which he (the Marquess of Hartington) gave early in the evening, he hoped he would not refer to him as the individual who led him. He would ask the Committee what object was likely to be attained by further continuing this discussion, as there was no question before the Committee that could lead to any decision on the subject of flogging in the Army. A question had been very properly raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) as to the nature of the assurance given by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War at the last Sitting of the Committee, and about which there seemed to be some misapprehension. His hon. Friend moved that Progress should be reported, in order to get an explanation from the Government. That explanation had been given, and had been fully discussed. The debate had broadened into a general discussion on flogging; but, as to that, he repeated, there was no question before the Committee. He appealed to the Committee, whether the course which was being pursued was fair to the Government, who had not yet had an opportunity of stating to the Committee the reasons which had induced them to make concessions—indeed, it would have been distinctly out of Order for them to have attempted to do so. He was himself extremely anxious to state his views on the conduct of the Government—conduct which, it seemed to him, was open to a great deal of comment; but there had been, as yet, no legitimate opportunity for him to express his views. The Government could not, without a breach of Order, have stated the reasons which had guided their action; and they were hardly being treated with common fairness in this discussion being carried on when their hands were tied. Why should the Committee not wait and discuss the question when the Schedule, promised by the Government, had been laid before them? There would be ample opportunity for deciding on the Schedule—ample opportunity for even obstructing it; but why were the Com- 1806 mittee to anticipate the introduction of the Schedule, and insist upon embarking on a general discussion, mixing it up with recriminations? It seemed to him that that was not a convenient way of conducting the Business of Parliament. He greatly regretted the discussion which had taken place; but he could not say that he felt any responsibility for it, inasmuch as he rose at the earliest opportunity to suggest that the clauses of the Bill which did not touch upon flogging should be postponed until the proposals of the Government had been laid plainly before the Committee.
§ MR NEWDEGATE
rejoiced that the noble Lord opposite the Member for the Radnor Boroughs was a Member of the House of Commons. The House might well rejoice that the noble Lord had repudiated the obstructive policy of the Home Rule section. The object of the Motion of the hon. Member for Birmingham was to get from the Government an explanation upon a matter as to which a misunderstanding was supposed to exist; but it did not matter what Motion was before the Committee, if hon. Gentlemen would not observe the fundamental principles upon which the Rules of the House were founded. The course which had been pursued during the last three hours was simply one of obstruction, inasmuch as full explanations had been obtained from the Government. There would be ample opportunity for discussing the subject of flogging in the Army in a legitimate manner; but there was no such opportunity now, and to pursue this discussion further would facilitate the renewal of a direct attack on the Constitution of the House.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
did not think it necessary to reply to the Constitutional lecture of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. He could not conceal from himself the importance of the statement which had been made by the noble Lord the Member for the Radnor Boroughs. The noble Lord had thought it his duty to repudiate all sympathy with those Members of his Party, both behind him and below the Gangway, who had deemed it necessary to press their opposition to the flogging clauses of the Bill. The noble Lord had not, unfortunately, been in the House during a greater portion of the discussion—a thing which had been very much noticed on previous 1807 occasions. It was rather inconvenient that they should have so little of the presence of the noble Lord, lately the Leader of the Opposition, but now the Leader of a section only. If the noble Lord had been in his place, he would have known that the strongest speeches against the proposals of the Government had been those of his Colleagues in the late Government—the right hon. Members for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) and Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). The proposals had also been objected to by the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James); and, under those circumstances, it was, to say the least of it, inconvenient that the noble Lord should have felt it his duty to lecture those who had hitherto loyally followed his lead when the advice which he tendered had not been in opposition to their conscientious convictions. The noble Lord had that night undertaken to defend the Government, and he had certainly made a much better defence for them than they had been able to make for themselves. The noble Lord asked why it was necessary to press objections now, and why comment was not reserved until the Schedule had been produced? Be would reply, by asking why the Government had not produced the Schedule? It was 14 days ago that they promised to produce it, knowing that the opposition of himself and those who were acting with him turned upon it, and upon their shoulders lay the responsibility of the charge of obstruction with reference to the measure. In reply to the noble Lord's question as to why opposition Gas pressed to such an extent, he would say, because it was only by such opposition that the Government ever yielded anything, however reasonable the demand. When he first made his Motion for reporting Progress, he hoped to elicit from the Government such information as would facilitate future discussion; but the information given had been most inadequate; and in complaining of this lie, and those who acted with him, had been left without a Leader. There had been no alternative for them but to do the best they could for themselves; and, under the circumstances, he should certainly press his Motion to a Division.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, his hon. Friend was mistaken in supposing that he was not present when 1808 the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) was made. His right hon. Friend had always been a strong opponent of corporal punishment; it was not astonishing, therefore, that he should have taken part in the discussion. He, however, only asked the Government for some explanation; he did not take the course which had been followed by so many hon. Members, and deliver a speech against the principle of corporal punishment altogether. His right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) began his observations by regretting the advice which he (the Marquess of Hartington) tendered had not been taken; so that he did not consider that either right hon. Gentleman Gas in the least opposed to the action which he had adopted. He had nothing whatever to retract from what he had stated. He must say that he thought the Privileges of the House had been abused by advantage being taken of a Motion to report Progress for discussing clauses which were not before the Committee. He hoped to express his views on the Schedule at the proper time; and nothing that had occurred had altered his opinion as to the extreme inconvenience of debating the principle of clauses which were not before the Committee.
§ MR. HERSCHELL
would be sorry if the hon. Member for Birmingham pressed his Motion to a Division, because his doing so would be sure to create a false impression. Hon. Gentlemen might doubt whether any such impression would arise; but they would, at all events, allow those who sympathized with au agitation against flogging to express their views on the Motion. If he abstained from supporting the Motion, it would not be because he did not agree with the expediency of abolishing the punishment of flogging, but because he considered that the carrying of the Motion would be extremely dangerous with reference to the future conduct of the Business of the House. Although it was quite true that he appreciated the aims of the minority in this particular case, he could imagine a great number of instances in which he should be utterly opposed to the minority attempting to extort from the majority concessions Which they did not deem it right to make. It seemed to him that there was 1809 danger of a state of things being brought about which would bed perilous to Parliamentary government and the conduct of Business—a contingency of the most momentous character; because it was obvious that if discussions were raised on subjects which were utterly unconnected with the clauses immediately in view, simply on the ground that the conduct of the Government was not satisfactory, it would be imposssible to count on any measure being carried, however much might be the value attached to it by the majority. He approved the raising of the present discussion; but after the Government had given what explanation they had to offer, debating the general subject of flogging over and over again Gas a method of action which was calculated to bring all Parliamentary procedure to a dead lock. What was the suggestion made? It Las, that those who were opposed to this punishment of flogging should go on discussing, and discussing, and discussing the matter, until, in the end, the Government would be forced to yield. [Mr. PARNELL: No.] He was glad to find that the hon. Member for Meath took that view. Be could understand hon. Members insisting on the Motion for reporting Progress until they had got the Government to produce the Schedule; but he certainly should deprecate persistence in a Motion for reporting Progress when they had got the Schedule merely because they did not like it. The Schedule was not yet before the Committee; but when it was, they would have an opportunity of fully discussing and of voting upon every part of it. The Government, however, would do well to recollect that when the Schedule had been got through, and when the clauses were reached on the Report which authorized the punishment of death being inflicted in certain cases, they would be criticized in a very different manner from what they had been when passing through Committee. There would, then, be as great an opportunity for opposition as anyone could desire. What he would, in conclusion, suggest to Her Majesty's Government was, that when they framed the Schedule they should not insist upon awarding the punishment of flogging to all the offences for which death might be inflicted under the provisions of the Bill. He thought that if the Govern- 1810 ment looked carefully into the matter they might easily frame a Schedule which would receive the approval of the great majority of the Committee. Having made the suggestion to Her Majesty's Government, he must now express a hope that the hon. Member would not press his Motion for reporting Progress to a Division. He was fully aware that his appeal might not meet with general acceptance; that there were other hon. Members who honestly believed that the best course to attain their object was by going to a Division; but he offered his advice, sincerely believing that it would prevent misconstruction, inasmuch as if a Division were pressed he, and many other hon. Members who entirely sympathized with the object of the hon. Member, would be compelled to vote against him.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that while he entirely agreed with hon. Members near him in wishing to see flogging in the Army entirely abolished, he could not help regretting the tone of the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. The hon. Member for Birmingham and himself both belonged to what was known as the advanced section of the Liberal Party. But although he did not yield to the hon. Member for Birmingham in his attachment to the principles of advanced Liberalism, he desired to say that he thought it somewhat hard that because the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition had expressed courageously the opinions he entertained, the hon. Member for Birmingham should have risen at once and have taunted the noble Lord by calling him the late Leader of the Opposition. He could assure the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition that, as far as he was concerned—and he believed that he was expressing the opinion of others besides himself — while there could not be perfect agreement on all subjects between the noble Lord and themselves, the noble Lord had not then, and would not, forfeit their confidence by courageously expressing his opinion and doing what he had done that evening, with the view of maintaining the dignity of that House. The hon. Member for Birmingham had attempted to throw upon the noble Lord a responsibility which, it appeared to him, he was not justified in throwing upon him. He 1811 did not know whether the hon. Member for Birmingham had intended to convey such a meaning; but his language certainly bore the interpretation that the noble Lord did not sympathize with those of his Party who desired to bring about the abolition of flogging in the Army. There was not a syllable in the noble Lord's speech to justify that charge. Every word of the noble Lord's speech was perfectly consistent with his being as much in favour of the abolition of flogging as was the hon. Member for Birmingham and his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood). He was speaking in the recollection of the Committee; and in common fairness he appealed to hon. Members to say whether there was a single syllable in the noble Lord's speech which justified any hon. Member in saying that he did not sympathize with those who sought to abolish flogging? All that the noble Lord had clone was to express his disapproval of the peculiar course of Parliamentary proceeding which certain hon. Members had thought it their duty to adopt that evening; and, certainly, if that was the noble Lord's opinion, it was his duty to express it. He was not going to say a word as to whether the hon. Member for Birmingham was justified in bringing forward this Motion. He thought that he was justified in bringing it forward; but he was not going to argue the matter. The controverted point before the Committee was, what interpretation should be put upon the declaration which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War made on Saturday? Be had not been present when the declaration Gas made; but he was bound, in candour, to admit that having read the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's words that morning in the newspapers it appeared to him that those words did not bear the interpretation—and he wished heartily that they did—that Her Majesty' s Government had decided to abolish flogging altogether. On the contrary, it seemed that they could not have so decided; because, if they had, why did they not come down to the House at once and say so distinctly? Whether the Government were wise or not in making that statement, it was not for him to say; but he hoped that that evening they were not pout to enter upon one of those proceedings 1812 which generally ended by neither Party gaining anything, and by both losing something, and by the dignity of the House suffering in public reputation. There were very few questions, he was bound to say, on which he had a stronger feeling than upon this one as to the abolition of flogging. He had constantly voted in favour of it; and during the many years he had sat in Parliament he had never missed a single Division upon the question. But it seemed to him that, great as was the importance which some of them attributed to the question, there was something even more important than that. He wished to put it to both sides of the House, was Parliamentary government possible if, after fair and legitimate discussion, a minority would not yield to a majority? This was not a question simply affecting the Government. It was not the Government which would suffer if they had to abandon this Bill. If they had to close the Session without passing a single measure it would not be the Government that would suffer, but the House. And he would tell them who, above all others, would suffer, and that was the Members of that House who held advanced Liberal opinions; because nothing could be more certain than this—the sun was not more certain to rise on the morrow than this —that the English and Scotch people would be determined that the authority of Parliament should not be overridden, and a demand would spring up in the country that the present state of things should cease, and that the Business of the country should duly proceed. Bow was this state of things to be made to cease? What were the proposals which had been brought before them for putting an end to this—he did not call it obstruction, but impediment to Public Business, offered by a minority, which did not know when it was beaten? The result would be that Rules would be proposed to limit and to curtail the Privileges of Parliament, and who would suffer by those Rules? It would not be the Executive, who, on the contrary, would be rather strengthened by them—it would be the independent and the advanced Members. In these circumstances, therefore, he felt that there was something far more at stake than the fate of the particular Bill, or the particular issue now under discussion. He hoped they would thresh this matter out 1813 to the last; but they had a right to demand—the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham had a right to demand—that this Schedule, of which they heard so much, but saw so little, should be produced. The Government had promised that it should be produced. He would not follow this subject further. Bolding advanced Liberal opinions, as he did, he was anxious to assure the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition that, as far as he was concerned—and he believed he was expressing the opinions of many who sat below the Gangway—he was still the Leader of the Liberal Party. The noble Lord might differ from them on this particular question, or, rather, on this particular occasion; but the qualities which the noble Lord displayed that evening—showing that he had the courage to express a difference of opinion from those who supported him—were not the qualities which would forfeit their confidence. In times to come they would know that they had a Leader who had the courage of his opinions; and he (Mr. Fawcett) for one, could only say—and he said it to the noble Lord in all frankness and sincerity—that, Radical though he might be, he would follow the noble Lord—[An hon. MEMBER: No Radical.]—Well, his principles were well known, and he was not afraid of avowing them upon any particular platform. He was not afraid of defending what he said that evening; but all he wished to say was this—that, whether he was a Radical or not, as an independent Member of the Liberal Party—and he believed he was expressing the opinions of others beside himself —he could tell the noble Lord that some of them in the future, certainly as the result of that evening, would not follow him with less confidence, and not feel towards him less respect.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, he had heard during that discussion that they had wandered very much from the Business of the original Resolution; but, certainly, he never imagined that they would wander so far from it as to sit in council and deliberate as to who was the rightful Leader of the Liberal Party. He must protest, as a Member of the Committee anxious for the despatch of the Business, against the peculiar line of argument which the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had adopted, and in which he had succeeded, 1814 to a very great extent, in wasting the time of the Committee, and in diverting attention from the subject before it. Now, of course, it was very fortunate for the noble Lord the Member for the Radnor Boroughs that he had found so able a defender as the hon. Member for Hackney; but it must be borne in mind that the noble Lord repudiated the Parliamentary action of certain hon. Members of the House. In doing so, the noble Lord was engaged in a work which Gas quite unnecessary. They were just as little responsible for the fact that the noble Lord was the Leader of the Liberal Party "as the noble Lord was for the Parliamentary action of those hon. Members whose actions he repudiated. That was an element in the consideration which was, perhaps, worth the while of the noble Lord to remember; and if he ever aspired to be the Leader of a successful Liberal Party he would have to count on the friendship of those he was now so anxious to repudiate. They were anxious early in the evening, when the Motion was made to report Progress, to get a clear answer to a plain question. In the early part of the evening a demand was made for an explanation in reference to the statement which Gas made, as he understood, on Saturday. He had not the advantage of being a listener to the debate on Saturday—in fact, he ought to apologize to the Committee that he was not present on Saturday to assist; but he had an opportunity on that day of ascertaining something of the state of public feeling on this subject out-of-doors. He, in company with the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald) and the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt), had an opportunity, in the borough which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Durham (Mr. Herschell) represented, of ascertaining something about the state of feeling on this question. There were over 15,000 people at the meeting, and when the hon. Member for Stafford referred to the opposition to the system of flogging in the Army, and declared that he was opposed to it, he evoked the greatest enthusiasm; and there was no doubt that, as far as that great mass of the bone and sinew was concerned, they repudiated this atrocious system of flogging in the Army. He said, therefore, that if the question 1815 should become an electioneering cry the probability was a majority of the electors would come to the same conclusion arrived at by a large section of that Committee—that flogging should be abolished altogether. He would venture to recall the Committed to what seemed to him to be the real root of this discussion, and the ground-work of the opposition to the further progress of this Bill. It was not directly the question of flogging or no flogging; but they were called upon to assent to the progress of a Bill, although, after waiting for 14 days, the Schedule of that Bill had not been presented. If the hon. and learned Member for Durham had heard the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice), he would have found that his arguments had been anticipated. He said that so much depended upon the character of the Schedule of the Bill that many of them would be unable to pronounce a judgment until they had the Schedule. He must say it was very extraordinary proposal that in a Bill of this kind they should be asked to go through it from beginning to end, and take up the Schedule afterwards. A remark had been made to the effect that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham should withdraw his Motion, on the ground that they would have ample opportunities for obstructing by-and-bye. That reminded him of the story told of the Irishman, who attempted to increase the length of a blanket by cutting a piece off the top to sew on to the foot. It was impossible to favour the spirit of such an argument as was suggested. The truth of the matter was this—they repudiated entirely these frequent charges of obstruction; and if they said that the time of the House had been wasted by the opposition to the Bill, he had only to point to the Amendments which that opposition had already secured in this very Bill. When these discussions were first started in reference to the Mutiny Act the opposition was denounced as wilful obstruction. But the opposition had done a great deal of good. That was admitted. So far as this Bill was concerned, they were in this position—the Government announced their intention to limit the punishment of flogging to those offences for which the penalty of death might be awarded; and hon. 1816 Members had said that night, and said frequently, that the more humane course was to preserve some remnant of flogging as a punishment in the Army, because if they did not allow flogging men would have to be shot. If that was so, why did not they say—" Instead of shooting a man, we will cut off his right arm? " No one could deny that the cutting off of a man's arm was much less severe than shooting him. They could go on to cutting off a man's ear; or they might slit his nose; or, why not enact that a man's shin bones should be broken? Not one of these was so severe as the punishment of death. Why did not the Government attempt to put those punishments on the Statute Book? Simply because they were degrading and barbarous punishments; and though flogging was a less severe punishment than death, the basis of their opposition was to be found in the fact that the punishment was a disgrace and a degradation. It was only one or two degrees less than the punishments which he had just enumerated, and which were awarded by an Act of Parliament some centuries ago. Therefore, the whole argument of the Government broke down; and he did not see any other course consistent with their sincerity in this discussion than to continue it, and develop as much information as possible. They were waiting to know how the tide of the public opinion was going out-of-doors; and, no doubt, they would have information before long. If the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) led his 500,000 men to Hyde Park, the opinion they would pronounce might only anticipate the verdict of the General Election; and there could not be much doubt as to which side that verdict would be given on. [An hon. MEMBER: Agreed!] An hon. Gentleman cried " agreed! " but he was not authorized to speak for the Government, and they were not agreed. If the Leadership of the Government had been changed, he should be glad to know it. He thought this was a question on which the Government might fairly make a concession to the demand made on that side of the House; and, from the feeling which he discovered privately on those Benches, he did not think the Government was likely to make progress with that Bill so long as flogging was adhered to. It was said—" You are in a 1817 minority, and therefore you ought to give way; " but it was all very well for those guardians of the Constitution, like the hon. Member for Hackney, to say that Parliamentary government was in danger. Well, if it was in danger, he said that Her Majesty's Government were responsible for endangering it; because they used all the powers of their mechanical majority to resist the reasonable demands of the Members on the Liberal side of the House, and then afterwards they came down and admitted that those demands were reasonable. This was no case of mere blind obstructive opposition. It was a highly intellectual opposition—a most discriminating opposition. Really, although Members of the Government had expressed regret at the little progress made, nearly all the journals complimented the House of Commons on its great intellectual power. It was a mistake to suppose that they were going down and down in public estimation as Members of the House of Commons. In some quarters, possibly, they had lost a little caste; but in the Mind of the great English people the House of Commons was rising in esteem, and no one could doubt its independence and ability to carry into effect the great principles which had been embodied in Acts of Parliament which were to be found on the Statute Book.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
said, it seemed to him there had been a good deal of misunderstanding as to what fell from the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. As far as he understood the noble Lord, he did not administer a rebuke to the hon. Member for Birmingham, or express disapproval of the Motion which the hon. Member had brought forward. What he did deprecate was the introduction of the question of flogging into the discussion by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood). He could not, therefore, think that the hon. Member for Birmingham was justified in saying that the noble Lord had taken any course which unfitted him for being any longer Leader of the Opposition in that House. Intending, as he did, to remain a follower of his noble Friend, he appealed to his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham to reflect whether he had not misunderstood the noble Lord, and whether, as the Schedule was 1818 to be produced to-morrow, he could not, without loss of dignity, withdraw the Motion which he had made, and adopt the proposition of his noble Friend.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, his noble Friend who had just sat down had attempted to throw oil on the troubled waters; but he did not seem to understand that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition had attacked the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) with great asperity for the part which he had taken in this discussion; and that the asperity of the attack had led to the continuance of the discussion in the spirit which his noble Friend the Member for Calne so warmly deprecated. Several hon. Members had, in the course of the debate, gone into the whole question of flogging; and it, therefore, seemed rather hard that the hon. and learned Member for Stockport should have been specially selected for attack by the noble Lord. His hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had given the House a very sound lecturing; but it did not seem to him that the speech of his hon. Friend was applicable to the circumstances of the present case, inasmuch as the proceedings of the evening were not of an obstructive character, but had a very direct and relevant bearing upon a statement made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, on Saturday last, in reference to the Schedule. It was now said, somewhat vaguely, that the Schedule would be forthcoming to-morrow; but as there was no absolute certainty that this would be so, he saw no alternative but to discuss the matter, and, if necessary, to divide upon the Motion before the Committee.
§ MR. OTWAY
said, he could not separate himself from the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition in reference to this matter; and he, therefore, hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham Gould not think it necessary to divide; because, in that event, it might seem that he was at difference with his hon. Friend on the broad question of abolishing flogging, which was not the case. The proper course to take would, in opinion, be to go on with the discussion of the other clauses of the Bill, and when they reached that in relation to flogging, he should take a course exactly in accord with the lines laid down by 1819 his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
felt that it would be hardly fair, or in good taste, for him to attempt to intrude in a very interesting discussion, which seemed to him to be rather one of a domestic character than otherwise. But, at the same time, he could not help thinking that the time had come at which hon. Members opposite might be fairly asked to make up their minds, one way or another, as to what they were going to do. The Committee had for many hours been discussing as to whether they should or should not report Progress; and there was something in the proceeding which reminded him of the process which sometimes occurred in theatres, when a chorus shouted at the top of their voices—" Be silent, and take care that no one hears what you say." He would suggest that if there was to be a Division it should be taken at once. What the Government said at the beginning of the evening they repeated at the end—namely, that they proposed, to-morrow, to put on the Table a Schedule, specifying the offences which were to be punishable by death, and for those offences flogging would be the alternative penalty.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 36; Noes 250: Majority 214.—(Div. List, No. 152.)
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he wished to remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer of a promise which he made to the Committee on the 19th of May, when he said that no objection would be made to any fair discussion of the Amendments which might be proposed to any of the clauses in the Bill. He had that day handed to the Secretary of State for War a number of Amendments which he wished to move on the remaining clauses of the Bill; and he submitted that, having spent the evening in a very exhausting and exhaustive discussion, the best course to follow would be to hold a Morning Sitting to-morrow, in order to proceed with the Amendments on the subsequent clauses. He, therefore, moved that the Chairman do now leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, " That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Parnell.)1820
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he quite appreciated the spirit in which the proposal of the hon. Member was made. The Government were anxious to give every facility to hon. Members to propose, and fairly discuss, any Amendments that might be thought necessary; but they thought that there ought to be a corresponding engagement on the other side that the Government should be allowed to bring on their Bill for discussion at a fair and reasonable time. The Government was placed in a considerable difficulty in not being permitted to proceed with the first of the clauses put upon the Paper of the day until considerably past half-past 1 o'clock in the morning. He did not, however, think that the Committee would then be able to go on with a discussion of the clauses; but he hoped that in the case of future discussions the Committee would be willing to go on much later than usual. He hoped, further, that while there would be a full discussion of the clauses which were really opposed, they might be allowed to take those to which there was no serious objection without undue waste of time. If the hon. Member would withdraw his Motion, he would consent to report Progress.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) had distinguished himself as a Member of the Party who had adopted a process known as Obstruction, and made a distinct attempt to wear out the patience of the House. He therefore hoped that the majority of Members would think it their first duty to preserve the dignity and efficiency of the Assembly to which they belonged.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he could not help thinking the words just spoken by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire most unfortunate and indiscreet.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID
objected to these repeated lectures by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire as to the manner in which individual Members of the House should conduct themselves in relation to the Business of the House.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.