HC Deb 17 July 1879 vol 248 cc634-720

Order for Consideration, as amended, read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now taken into Consideration."—(Colonel Stanley).


In rising, Sir, to move the Amendment of which I have given Notice, namely— That no Bill for the Discipline and Regulation of the Army will be satisfactory to this House which provides for the permanent retention of corporal punishment for military offences; it is necessary that I should say a few words in explanation of the reasons which, have induced me to take this step—a course which differs somewhat from that which was discussed on Tuesday last. The House will recollect very well the general character of that discussion, and I think it unnecessary that I should refer to it at any length. But it is desirable that I should remind the House that on that day I stated my views on the position of the question of corporal punishment in consequence of the action of the Government on the Army Discipline and Regulation Bill, and I made a suggestion to the Government. I stated my view that after what had passed it would be impossible that corporal punishment could be retained permanently in the Army, except in a very limited class of cases, and I made a suggestion which I thought would be acceptable in the circumstances. Now, Sir, I find that there has been some misapprehension as to what exactly the scope of the suggestion I made was, and, perhaps, it is desirable that I should repeat it. I stated that I, and a good many hon. Members on this side—on all sides, I believe—appeared to be considerably impressed by one of the arguments put forward by supporters of corporal punishment—that, on active service and in a certain class of circumstances, there might be no alternative to the commanding officer but to inflict the punishment of death; that the cases in which corporal punishment is inflicted were few in number and that, as I have said, there might be no alternative but to inflict the punishment of death instead of corporal punishment. Well, Sir, in order to meet that argument, I suggested to Her Majesty's Government the adoption of a clause which had been laid on the Table, but was subsequently withdrawn, by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood); and in order that there might be no misconception as to the meaning of Parliament in passing the clause, in order that it might be made quite clear that it was not proposed that the sentence of death should be recorded merely for the purpose of corporal punishment being inflicted, but that the intention was to confer on the commanding officer a power of commutation in cases where he thought the recorded punishment of death should not be inflicted, I took the somewhat unusual course of suggesting that there should be prefixed to that clause a Preamble by which that inten- tion might be expressed. Sir, that proposal was very definitely rejected by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. I also stated that, in my opinion, if that suggestion could not be accepted, there was no alternative for me and those who agreed in the view I took, as the matter then stood, but to vote for the total abolition of corporal punishment. Well, Sir, a discussion ensued, and turned principally upon the mode in which the question could be most conveniently brought before the deliberation of the House; and the course which was finally considered to be most convenient, certainly, the course which I should myself have preferred to take, was to wait until we came to the clause referring to corporal punishment, and then, by moving the omission of a very few words, the question of the retention of corporal punishment might have been raised in the simplest possible form. But it appeared, upon further consideration of the matter, that it was necessary that the new clauses should be moved and considered first, as they would take precedence of the Bill itself, and that it was likely there would be a very considerable amount of discussion upon the earlier clauses of the Bill, those clauses which refer to the cases in which the punishment of death could be inflicted, and in which, according to the present proposal of the Government, corporal punishment might be inflicted instead. There would, therefore, have been a considerable amount of discussion upon details as to the limit and operation of this punishment before we arrived at the main question itself; and I think hon. Members on both sides of the House will be agreed that by far the more convenient course is to express an opinion in the first instance on the main question—as I hope, without any very long delay—and that, having expressed this opinion, we might proceed to the consideration of the details. I, therefore, Sir, thought it was the more convenient course for both sides that the question should be raised in a plain, simple manner by this Amendment, which will enable the House to come to a conclusion on that question of principle. Now, Sir, I have very little to add today to what I said on Tuesday as to the ground which had induced me to take this course. I am not in the least surprised to find, as I have found, that the course I have taken has been imputed to Party motives of no very exalted character; but I must say I am surprised that the first charge of that character should have come, not from the Members of the Government who have seats in this House, who have a knowledge of what has occurred upon this Bill, and who heard the statement I made on Tuesday last, but that it should have come from a noble Lord, a Member of the Government, and not in his place in Parliament, but at a Party meeting of his own supporters held last night. I find that Lord Cranbrook said— "I see that only last night the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, having apparently entirely changed his vote, if he has not changed his opinion, attributed it to something the Government had never done and which a Conservative Government had never said. The noble Lord appears to have forgotten that his Colleagues, the Secretary of State for War and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were opposite to me when on Tuesday last I made a statement respecting what the Government had done and said in this matter, and that that statement was not in any one single particular challenged or controverted. I should be glad to know this: On what authority has Lord Cranbrook said that I have changed my vote, if not my opinions, upon something which the Conservative Government has never done and never said? It appears, also, somewhat extraordinary that charges of making this a Party question should come from a Member of a Government who, in my opinion, took the first and most decisive step towards making this a Party question. These accusations come somewhat strangely from the Members of a Government who, not very long ago, convened a meeting of their own supporters notoriously in connection with this very subject. I think that now these charges have been made, we are entitled to know something of the objects for which that meeting was called. We do not know what occurred at the meeting; but we do know, if the reasons for calling it are not on the surface, that the Government had up to that time received steady and consistent support in connection with this measure from almost the whole of their Party. There was no occasion, therefore, to rally their Party together to support this Bill, unless for the purpose of obtaining that party's assent to some change in their own policy, or for the purpose of conciliating a section of their own supporters who were dissatisfied with that policy. I am told that the conduct of the Government, whatever it may have been, cannot possibly affect the merits of the question, and ought not in the least to influence the course which is to followed by the Opposition. Now, this subject is one which we must look at from a practical point of view. It is not a mere question of what form of punishment the military authorities would most desire to see enforced and maintained in the Army. It is a question of what form of punishment it is possible to maintain, and of what, in the general interests of the Army, it is most desirable to maintain. It is a question which it has always been admitted cannot be altogether decided by mere argument in this House. It is a question which must be decided, to a great extent, by special authority; and we have always been accustomed to attribute that authority to the opinion of those who were responsible for discipline in the Army, and then to that of their Representatives in this House who are responsible to us. But we maintain that the authority in support of this punishment has been very considerably weakened, if not altogether destroyed, by the proceedings which have recently taken place. We say, that when the Government departed from the clear profession which up to that time they maintained upon this question—when they no longer took their stand upon the firm ground that this punishment was absolutely indispensable to the maintenance of discipline, and that they could not hold the military authorities responsible for the maintenance of discipline if it were done away with—that when they changed their ground, and admitted that it was a subject which was open as a whole to re-consideration, it appeared to us that they so weakened their case, as almost entirely to destroy the authority upon which this punishment had up till then been supported and had rested. Sir, in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the other day in answer to me, I observed that he did not say a single word to the effect that in the opinion of the military authorities this punishment is indispensable if the maintenance of discipline in the Army is to be maintained. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government were responsible for the proposals that had been made. Well, we all know that the Government must necessarily be responsible for any proposal which, they may submit to the House. But what the House has a right to expect is the clearest and most unmistakable expression of opinion that the military authorities can give us, through their Representatives in this House, as to what their professional opinion upon this point is; and I observed that the right hon. Gentleman, in the whole of his argument, had not one word to say as to the opinion of his military advisers upon this point. In these circumstances, the support of authority having almost entirely disappeared, the House has only to consider what are the arguments for and against this punishment. They have been so frequently repeated in this House, that it is quite unnecessary that I should go over them again. I will say this, however—that they seem, by the debates which have occurred, to be reduced in reality to one contention, which may be shortly and concisely expressed by the words "the bullet or the lash." If this is really the only argument raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they really think that the alternative is between the infliction of the penalty of death and that of the lash, then I cannot but think that the suggestion which I made the other day was one which would have gone very far towards meeting this argument. The offer which I made to the Government was that they should continue the use of the lash, but only in those cases in which, as they say, the use of the bullet would be rendered indispensable by the discontinuance of the lash. I, at the same time, asked that Parliament should receive some security that the lash should henceforth only be used as the alternative to that punishment which the Government said would have to be inflicted so frequently if the lash were done away with. But it is now clear, from the attitude which has been assumed by the Government, that in their opinion, and in the opinion of military Members of this House, it is necessary to retain this punishment in a very large number of cases, in which it would be idle to say that the alternative would be the penalty of death. As to this, I have reason to be- lieve that there is a very great difference of opinion among military men themselves. Reference was made, the other day, to the opinions expressed, upon this question by certain military journals. I believe some of them express the opinion of a very considerable number of military men, and especially of the younger officers of the Army. These latter, it is true, are not the most directly responsible for the maintenance of discipline, but they are the men upon whom will devolve the maintenance of discipline in our Army in the future, and I cannot but think that their opinions are entitled to a considerable quantity of weight. Well, I believe that it is the undoubted opinion of a great many distinguished officers that the retention of this punishment, at the stage which is now reached, after the discussions which have been held, the attention which has been directed to the question, and the adverse expression of opinion which it has received from the country, would, at all events, for a very large number of the offences named in the Schedule, be more injurious than beneficial to the interests of the Army. I now wish to refer to another charge which has been brought against me in reference to my conduct in connection with the question before the House. It has been said—it was insinuated by Lord Cranbrook in his speech last night—that the course of conduct which I have followed has been dictated to me by the exigencies of the Party with which I am connected. I think, however, that the mere statement of dates which I made the other day ought to be sufficient to refute this charge. I stated to the House the other day—and I trust that the statement which I then deliberately made, and which I now as deliberately repeat, will carry conviction to the House without corroboration, though, if necessary, my statement can be corroborated—I stated that the decision at which we had arrived was one which was come to before any of these difficulties of Party arose to which reference has been made. I hold that, in the circumstances which then existed, it was necessary that I and my Friends should come to some decision upon this question. What was our position? We were informed that the Government were re-considering this question as a whole, and were in consultation with their Friends as to the course to be adopted. We did not know what their decision might be, or what was the nature of the communication they would address to the House on Monday afternoon; but we did know that a great many Gentlemen on both sides of the House anticipated that it would take the form of an announcement that the Government had reason to abandon the lash altogether. If that announcement had been made, no one would have thought that it was the duty of the Opposition to uphold the continuation of corporal punishment against the decision of the Government. On the other hand, the decision might be, as it turned out to be, a decision to maintain corporal punishment, without any very considerable limitations, as compared with those with which, it was originally introduced. Surely, then, it was the duty of Members of the Opposition to consider what their course should be in either event, without being guided by Party motives. We, therefore, did take the question into consideration, and the arguments which had induced the Government to re-consider it; and we determined that, whatever the decision of the Government might be, we could not support the continuation of this penalty any longer, except in the circumstances to which I have referred. In these circumstances, we formed the opinion which I announced the other day; and a mere statement of the facts shows that that decision was arrived at calmly, deliberately, and sincerely, and entirely without reference to any of those Party exigencies to which reference has been made. The course which I now propose will, I think, be the most convenient in every respect to the House; and I, therefore, beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name upon the Paper.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "no Bill for the Discipline and Regulation of the Army will be satisfactory to this House which provides for the retention of corporal punishment for Military offences,"—(The Marquess of Hartington,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


Sir, the noble Lord, at the beginning of his remarks, said it would perhaps be as well that he should explain the reasons for the course which he was taking, and in that respect, I think, many of us will have agreed with the noble Lord. But, for my own part, after seeing the terms of his Notice, and after naturally enough anticipating the arguments by which the noble Lord would advance his proposition, I must confess I was somewhat surprised to find that the remarks of the noble Lord should have partaken rather of the character of a personal explanation than of a speech with regard to the merits of the question. The noble Lord thought it was incumbent upon him to explain the course which he adopted a day or two ago in recommending the clause which then stood in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), and to state the reasons which induced him to recommend that a preamble should be attached to that clause. But I cannot help feeling—although I do not say he wished to evade the question—that the noble Lord spoke with a certain sense of relief when he departed from that which is the actual proposition before the Committee and turned round to speeches which had been delivered in other places, and made remarks on the tone and character of those speeches. The noble Lord complains of words which have been used elsewhere by my noble Friend Lord Cranbrook. Those words were, I believe, substantially to the effect that the noble Lord had come down and had changed his vote, and had possibly also changed his opinion. [The Marquess of HARTINGTON: If not his opinions?] Well, "if not his opinions;" I beg the noble Lord's pardon. If, however, my noble Friend had said that the noble Lord had changed his opinion, I should have thought it was not an unnatural remark to make, inasmuch as my noble Friend Lord Cranbrook succeeded, though at some interval, the noble Lord in the conduct of the Office of which I have the honour to fill; and I have no doubt that my noble Friend has a perfect recollection that during the noble Lord's tenure of that Office no effort was made by the noble Lord in the direction which he now advocates. I wish especially to touch upon a point which, in terms which could not be mistaken, the noble Lord referred to the manner in which we are accus- tomed, in these matters of discipline and in technical matters, to look at what he was pleased to call "authority," and the remarks he made were such as to lead the House to suppose that the military authorities, with whom it is my duty to act, were either indifferent to this question, or had expressed themselves to the effect that they were opposed to the views which I myself had advocated. I have never liked, on my own part, in anyway to speak except upon the responsibility which I have the honour to fulfil towards the House and the country; but as it has been my duty to hear reports of this kind which have been industriously circulated, not by the noble Lord, but by those whom the noble Lord calls—somewhat rashly, I think—his Friends, I beg leave to give a distinct and categorical denial to the assertion that any language ever held by me, or any statement made by me in this House is, so far as I am aware, impugned by the military authorities with whom I act. Then the noble Lord accounted for the somewhat sudden movement which had occurred. He said that as long as the question was not open at all there were very good reasons for not opening it; but that the moment the Government departed from their position there was no firm ground on which this question could rest. Upon that I shall have a word to say by-and-bye; but I stated to the Committee the other day, and I repeat it now, that we do consider the proposition which we have placed before the House to be a firm basis on which the question is to be based. The noble Lord commented on portions of the speech of my right hon. Friend near me who spoke of re-opening the question as a whole. That is a matter which I thought I had pretty well explained on a previous occasion, and I will not now take up the time of the House by referring to it; but I will leave my right hon. Friend to answer for himself, as I ventured to answer the other day for him. Let us pass from those matters, which, after all, are only of ephemeral interest, to that which is the real point of the matter under discussion. Now, I will venture to say that in no previous set of discussions have so many loose statements and haphazard arguments been advanced as have been used with regard to this Bill; and, therefore, it is almost with a feeling of comfort that I can turn to a speech in which there really seems to be an appreciation of the circumstances in which the country is placed, and of the circumstances which have induced the Government to adopt the line they now recommend. Contrasts have been drawn all through with foreign Armies, and I thought the hon. Gentleman the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) distinguished himself by going to the root of the matter in the very brief, but pregnant, remarks which he addressed to the House within the last few days. Constant comparisons have been made with foreign Armies; and it has been said that the German Army and the French Army, for example, get on without this punishment. I speak under every sense of responsibility; but I have no hesitation in saying, without fear of challenge, that if we were placed in the same circumstances and under the same conditions of service as the German Army, we could, without hesitation, adopt the same or similar means of discipline which they find it necessary to use. The conditions, however, are not the same. In recent wars the German Army have never operated in an uncivilized country, or thousands of miles away from its base. The German Army has operated, even when within a foreign country, in one in which there were many conditions in respect of the retention and restraint of prisoners that do not apply to the countries and the climates in which we operate. I do not wish to press the argument too much; but I find in the German Staatsgesetzbuch frequent allusion to the Ortsgefängniss, or local prison; and, if I read the context aright, it is not unusual to use the means of restraint in prisons, even when the Army finds itself in an enemy's country. Of course, no such means are open to us. I will pass, however, to the argument adduced by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Berkshire, that it is mainly the character of the men to which we should look—a proposition in which I entirely agree with him. But let us understand that we are not dealing with a state of things such as we could wish to exist, but with things as we find them. Speaking briefly, there appear to be three alternatives in the arguments of the hon. Member for Berkshire. One is the argument he raises as to the desirability of having a smaller number of picked men with better pay. I quite agree that if you are to get absolute command—as you may require to have at times—of the labour market, you must give an amount of pay not only equal to, but probably in excess of, that which is given in civil life. Men, when they come forward to make these kind of bargains, are sensible enough to know the nature of the engagement they are making; and a skilled artizan, or any other person in a similar position, would clearly understand the value of his labour if it were transferred from one climate to another, and he would, therefore, expect not only a fair day's pay, but something in excess of it. It must be borne in mind, too, that however much skill makes up for numbers in civil work, yet in war the gros bataillons must have their effect, and the mitrailleuses make no discrimination of persons. Then, again, there comes the alternative, which has never recommended itself up to the present time, though I have heard expressions contrary to it used in this debate—I mean the alternative of conscription in some form or other. Assuming that you have a conscription, as Germany and other countries have, you force men into the Army from all classes of society. You either expel the disorderly element, or so soften it that it can be dealt with in a different manner from what it can be in cases where it forms a larger portion of the Force. But here, again, the condition of the different countries are not the same. Well, if we do not choose to fall back upon either of these alternatives—which, after all, are a mere matter of money—you have, I think, little or nothing to fall back upon except the present system of enlistment. That being so, as long as voluntary enlistment lasts, in ordinary times, at least, it is idle to think you can tap many classes of society. There is, practically, but one stratum from which your recruits are drawn. I do not say that there are not honourable and noble exceptions; but I believe a very large number of those who enlist, whatever their good qualities in other respects, are men who have left their work or their homes either from wild habits or love of adventure, which sometimes is a weed that runs to excess, and has need of restraint. Therefore, taking into consideration what the Force you have to deal with is now, I would ask, are you not in all circumstances to be enabled to keep that Force under control? Or are you to allow an armed force to degenerate into what it would, without discipline, inevitably become, an armed and even dangerous mob? If not, you must have discipline of some kind. That is conceded. I find no two opinions on this point, whether I search the records of foreign Armies, or ask the opinions of officers of long experience—that military punishments on active service must, in most circumstances, be summary, sharp, and decisive. Many minor offences are practically overlooked or passed by on foreign service; and, therefore, it is all the more necessary, where an offence becomes dangerous to the discipline of the Force or to the country in which you are acting, to make an example which will be sufficiently sharp to deter others from the same crimes. I do not know whether it will be necessary to argue the point to which I addressed myself the other day in reference to the military punishments now in force; but we have heard so much on this subject that I must ask pardon of the House for doing what I think needful to maintain my position. I believe it must be admitted that corporal punishment in our Army has proved, to a great extent, a most successful substitute for the punishments in use in foreign Armies. ["No!"] Hon. Gentlemen say "No," and we are told we do not rest this matter upon solid ground. On the contrary, I say we do. We have placed in a Schedule of this Bill the offences which are liable to corporal punishment on active service. These are offences which must be dealt with seriously, and in past times they were considered sufficiently serious to have the punishment of death awarded to them. I have never said that in all cases where corporal punishment is awarded death would be awarded. That is a statement I have never made. But this I have said—that if you abolish corporal punishment you will inevitably increase both the death sentences and the infliction of death. ["No !"] An hon. Gentleman says "No." I am not anxious to throw down an unnecessary challenge; but I do not think hon. Gentlemen will ever be successful in raising a cry against corporal punishment as a substitute for the death penalty. I think, with the exception of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) and the hon. and learned Member for Den- bighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan), there are very few men who, if under sentence of death, and asked to take their choice between 25 lashes and death would choose the latter. So far as my experience goes, I should be inclined to believe that men would prefer that punishment which would leave them still to enjoy some portion of their lives. It is no use whatever simply to strike out this punishment and shut your eyes to the consequences. I fail to understand from the speech of the noble Lord, whether as an ex-Minister for War or in any other capacity, what he has in his mind as a substitute for this punishment—whether, when our troops are now on active service, he is going to abolish this punishment at once and trust to the chapter of accidents to maintain discipline. One word with regard to the clause of the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), to which I stated my objections on Tuesday last when the noble Lord spoke on this question. I stated then that I thought it would be, first of all, an unwise measure; and, secondly, distinctly useless to oblige a court martial to pass a sentence of death when they had not in their own minds any idea that it should be executed and the sentence was only recorded that some other punishment might be inflicted. That is a state of things analogous to a condition of the civil laws which it was found expedient to get rid of. But suppose the general officer did not know that when they said one thing they meant another. He might inflict the punishment of death when the court martial intended that another punishment should be inflicted. The more I look at the matter the less I am disposed to entertain it. What is the line of conduct which the noble Lord opposite has taken to-day? I am not here in any respect to blame the noble Lord or to dispute his right to change his opinion. But one thing I wish to point out, because there appears to be a great misconception about it. I object to its being said, for purposes of argument, that any question of humanity is concerned on one side or the other. That, I think, will be pretty generally admitted. ["No!"] Does the hon. Gentleman claim a monopoly of humanity for his side of the House with regard to the infliction of the death penalty? It has been truly said cor- poral punishment may be barbarous. All punishments may be held to be barbarous; war is certainly barbarous. Accepting that as a general proposition, I am not concerned to follow any observations which have been made on what I should consider matters of sentiment. The real question is, is the punishment complained of necessary? Much has been said as if this punishment was prevalent in our barrack-yards and quarters. But that is not the case. It is only actually inflicted in active service or on board ship; and, therefore, let it not go forth that it is a frequent incident of the barrack-yard or of military discipline. Let that be understood. I come now, after a rather long preface, to the subject-matter of this Amendment. It is an abstract proposition. The noble Lord proposes— "That no Bill for the Discipline and Regulation of the Army will be satisfactory to this House which provides for the permanent retention of corporal punishment for Military offences. I may say, for the comfort of the supporters of the noble Lord, that there is a vagueness about the terms which to some minds may be satisfactory; but to those who have to deal with this matter the proposition of the noble Lord is only intended to be, and would have the effect of being, absolutely fatal to this Bill. I want the House to be kind enough to look at what, after very protracted work, after an expenditure of time which exceeds that which the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) experienced in connection with the Ballot Bill, is now proposed. It is proposed to us that this Bill should be abandoned. ["No !"] Well, that undoubtedly would be the effect. If it is moved and carried that a Bill, which does not contain a certain Proviso, is for that reason not satisfactory to the House, that, in a Parliamentary sense, undoubtedly puts the extinguisher on such a measure. Now, I do not look at this Bill in a personal light. I wish it, as far as possible, to be the Bill of the House, and not of the Government, or of any individual. In it you have passed clauses which introduce a system of free enlistment, and which do away with many of those snares that could hardly be held to be creditable to the manner in which recruiting has been carried on. You make enlistment to be really in the nature of a free contract, under which those who enter into it will find themselves freer than they have been at any previous time to abrogate it, if they do not like the conditions. You have taken away, or have greatly modified, the absolute power of the provost marshal, who will only exercise his power under the control of the statute, and will carry out that which is merely the record of a summary court martial. You have introduced provisions by which men who, for an offence of a comparatively minor description, committed perhaps not without circumstances of extenuation, have been wasting their lives in prison undergoing their sentence, will be enabled, where their antecedent conduct justifies it, to be released, instead of having to fulfil the remainder of their sentence, and will, perhaps, have a chance of redeeming their character in service abroad, which has not hitherto been granted, them under our military law. You have placed penal servitude in a condition coincident with that which prevails in the United Kingdom. You have materially alleviated the incidents of imprisonment in a hot climate or in India. You have placed the billeting law, which pressed unduly upon Ireland, on an entire equality with that which obtains in this country. I might mention many other minor points if time permitted; but these are some of the principal advantages which are gained by this Bill, and which I cannot help feeling will be thrown away, if the House accepts this Amendment of the noble Lord. I have said all along that I hoped this Bill would be one into which no Party considerations would enter. As far as I am concerned nothing has ever been done, I trust, except in the spirit in which the measure was introduced. And, therefore, all the more responsibility must rest upon those, if such there be, who wish to mix up Party feelings with a matter deeply affecting a great Department of the State. 'We have admitted Amendments—some persons have blamed us for admitting so many; but we have done our best to show, as far as in us lay, that this Bill was to be the Bill of the House and of the country. We wished to pass it with as much consent as could possibly be expected from the one side of the House and the other. Well, as I have said, in my opinion—and I only claim to speak for myself, although I believe it is also the opinion of my Colleagues—this Amendment would be absolutely fatal to the Bill. Now, what do you mean, if this course is successful, to put in the place of this measure? Do you think this is the time of the Session when you can pass a new law of Army regulation? Do you mean to leave the present law as it is, or to take an alternative course, which, as there are all kinds of opinions, may to some minds, perhaps, seem not to be impossible or inconvenient? Do you intend to disband the Army? I do not suppose that in the least. I do not suppose—although there are exceptions to every rule—that the intentions of this House are that the Army should be disbanded, or that it should ever pass in the slightest degree from the control of Parliament. But what have you in your mind? Do you intend to continue the existing law, or do you intend, as soon as possible, to put some such measure as this in operation? The noble Lord gave us, as I have said, a speech which was interesting, but which I could not but consider as rather partaking of the nature of a personal explanation than of argument against going on with the Report upon this Bill. He stated, as I understood him, that the opinion he has now expressed was in entire consonance with his opinions some time back; and that his was by no means a sudden change of opinion, because before these protracted discussions arose he had the same opinion as he now holds. Now, it is curious, but there are records which I am afraid we should all like to forget sometimes, and I find that an Amendment was proposed to "leave out corporal punishment on board ships," and that the name of the noble Lord appears among those who opposed that Amendment. [The Marquess of HARTINGTGN: What is the date?] That was on the 19th of June.


I stated frankly that I re-considered my position on this Bill exactly at the same moment as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was re-considering his.


I do not know how far the noble Lord can fix the dates by that reference. [An hon. MEMBER: Saturday week.] That is the date at which the noble Lord's opinion changed. I expressed on that somewhat memor- able Saturday the views which I myself and others entertained; but with regard to this matter I beg the noble Lord's pardon if I in any way mis-stated his argument. I put that, however, on one side altogether, and I will only say that no one who has seen the noble Lord's conduct in this House could doubt that he would, at this earliest opportunity, make a frank explanation of what his views are. Sir, I shall be the judge of no one's conscience. I am bound to believe, and I do believe, that the noble Lord sincerely entertains the opinions which he has advocated. I am bound also to believe that the case is the same with hon. Gentlemen opposite. But when I say this, let me say at the same time that, were it otherwise, I do not think that I could find words which would express my feelings in respect to those who could prefer—I do not say that they have preferred—the interests of Party to the interests of the country. The noble Lord, two days ago, made a statement with which I entirely agree—namely, that the discipline of the Army should be the paramount consideration. That is very well; but I hope that we are not to understand that that expression is in any way confined to the part of the House in which the noble Lord sits. I venture to think that the Amendment of the noble Lord will not be accepted; and this Bill, which I frankly say I believe to be one which, on the whole, is greatly in favour of the soldier—which I believe establishes satisfactorily that position in relation to military law that Parliament has always claimed, and, in my opinion, rightly claimed, to occupy—this Bill, which has done a good deal to clear up the hidden mysteries of military law, will, I hope and venture to predict, survive the noble Lord's Amendment. In respect to these matters, as I have said, we have been willing to go as far as we could with hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. There may have been minor points on which we have even surrendered our views to theirs. But the noble Lord must excuse me if I cannot now follow him in his present course, and if I adhere distinctly and definitely to the opinions I expressed when he last spoke on this subject. We have considered the utmost limits to which, in our opinion, in present circumstances, and in the present state of recruiting we are able to go. We think ourselves bound to adhere to those proposals which we have made. For the purpose of discipline we believe that these proposals are based on a definite principle. We do not believe that the recruit or the soldier will not be clear-headed enough to see that those who profess to be, and who may think that they are, working legitimately in his behalf, may really be working against his interests. And, above all, we do not believe that the principles which we have advocated as those of the present Bill are such as the country will be likely to discredit. But even if it were so, if these were the last words that I have to speak in this House—and I am sure the feeling is the same with many hon. Gentlemen—I say that, putting aside any question of inclination on the one hand, or fear on the other; putting aside any feeling of sentiment, and doing that which we believe those who are most experienced in military matters are most disposed to recommend while our Forces remain on their present footing, we have done that which we conceived it to be our duty to do; and in the consciousness of having done our duty we shall, at all events, rest content. I hope it is not by any outside clamour, or by any clamour on the part of a limited section, however active they may be, that this House is to receive dictation as to its proceedings. We hope that this House may, in all these grave matters, act up to the words which are familiar to you, Sir, in our daily proceedings; and that, laying aside all Party prejudices, we may alike work for the welfare of the State.


Sir, I am sure that no one can complain of the tone of the speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, or, indeed, of the tone of any speech which falls from him. To whatever subject he has occasion to refer, he invariably treats it in such a manner as to extract from it whatever bitterness or exasperation it might possibly, in the hands of others, seem to involve. And I will answer freely and at once to the amicable challenge with which he concluded his speech, that we should, as he said, in words familiar to our daily proceedings, lay aside all Party prejudices, or, if I may rely upon my own memory rather than his, I believe it is that we should separate ourselves from private interests and partial affections. I shall endeavour to follow the example of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, because I have had no share in any of the warm debates on this subject, and, indeed, have only considered it seriously with a view to a practical issue, after it had been so far opened, in part by proposals made from this side of the House, but still more by the proceedings of the Government as to make it the absolute and imperative duty of every independent Member of the House to consider the question at large. I think it must have struck everyone who listened to the interesting speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that that speech was singularly sparing in direct argument upon the merits, either of the question of corporal punishment, or on the merits of the Amendment of my noble Friend. It was by collateral matter and issues, I think, that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman strove to attain the object in which, from former experience, I believe it to be apparently possible and even probable that he may succeed—namely, in inducing the majority of the House to support the views of Her Majesty's Government. What were the main points of the speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman? He commented upon the personal position and acts of my noble Friend. Into that portion of his speech it is quite impossible for me to follow him. He referred to the great responsibility of those who say any word or do any act to establish any relation between this Bill and the interests of Party. Undoubtedly, it did appear to me that the natural construction of that argument, as far as it bears a natural construction, was not a construction favourable to the Colleagues and Party among whom he serves. Because it is, at any rate, matter of chronology that before any proceeding connected with the organization of Party had been taken or dreamt of elsewhere, an appeal was made by Her Majesty's Government to the Party by whom they were supported, as distinct from the mass and body of the House, to support this Bill upon grounds and in connection with considerations which have not yet been made known to the body of the House. So much for that topic. There was another topic of great importance—namely, the menace—for such it was, although conveyed in the mildest terms—that this Bill, which is admitted, I believe, on all hands apart from corporal punishment, to be a very valuable Bill, must be abandoned in case the Motion of my noble Friend should be carried, and that my noble Friend must be regarded as the assassin of the Bill. As to the abandonment of the Bill, I presume we are nearly all agreed that it would be a very serious misfortune. But no dictum, even proceeding from a Secretary of State, can of itself suffice to fasten upon particular persons the responsibility of that abandonment. What is proposed by my noble Friend? He has not impugned the general character of the Bill. He has not shown either to-night, or at any other period during the discussion, any indisposition to promote it. He has assailed in the form which, I believe, is acknowledged on all hands to be the most direct and simple, and, therefore, the most convenient for us all, including the Government, a particular head of the provisions of the Bill, which is completely separate from the body of the Bill. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman says—"That Motion, if carried, will be fatal to the Bill, and you will be responsible for its destruction." In other language, he announces that so closely is the Government wedded to the proposition upon the subject of flogging that, without the maintenance of the provisions as they stand, they will not consent to confer upon the Army and upon the country the great benefits which the rest of the Bill will bring. The question on whom the responsibility of so serious a calamity would rest—we being agreed that the abandonment of the Bill would be such a calamity—is a question not to be settled by any Ministerial declaration, but by a calm and unprejudiced view of the position of the case and the public motives that ought to guide us at this moment. It is from that point of view alone that I wish to examine this matter. And how does it stand? I am not ashamed to confess that upon this question I have at all times been ruled in the main by authority. There may be Gentlemen in this House who have such a range and capacity of mind that they can form for themselves independent original judgments upon every point of the ten thousand subjects that are incessantly presented for our consideration. I certainly am not one of these, and it would be mere affectation on my part to pretend to pronounce an original opinion on the question whether corporal punishment was or was not necessary for the maintenance of discipline in the Army. I cannot arrive at the conclusion except by the aid of authority. But in order that authority may sway my mind in such a case, it is necessary that that authority should be weighty, that it should be clear, that it should deliver its utterances without doubt or hesitation. But how does this matter stand? We know that the officers of the Army are very far from unanimous. We are given to understand that among the younger officers those who have, at least, the one advantage over many of their seniors of better and more careful preparation, a belief in the inexpediency of the punishment is more widely spread, and a larger proportion are found to recommend its abolition than if the officers had given their opinion 20, 30, or 40 years ago. But, apart from the opinion of officers, which must necessarily be to some extent vague and general, what we have to look to is the language held, and the course pursued, by the Executive in dealing with this question. I must venture to remind the House of the challenge given by my noble Friend upon a former day, and the total absence of any disposition on the part of Her Majesty's Government to take up that challenge, which, if they had been in a condition to take it up, would have been the easiest matter in the world to deal with. My noble Friend mentioned certain vague and idle rumours, but rumours which were apparently supported by no small show of credibility, to the effect that Her Majesty's Government had once arrived—upon or near that memorable Saturday—at the determination that, on the whole, they would best discharge the duty to the country by abandoning corporal punishment. ["No, no!"] I am not even reiterating the existence of these rumours. I am simply reciting, as well as I can, that which was pointedly and intelligibly stated by my noble Friend two days ago, when he rose in his place and was followed by the Secretary of State. My noble Friend first referred to these rumours, and to others not less plausibly supported, to the effect that it was in consequence of the dissatisfaction of a body of their supporters, and not of considerations of military discipline, that the Government had receded from their determination. And my noble Friend invited Her Majesty's Government to meet the reports to which he referred, if they were in a condition to do so, with a simple, but intelligible and emphatic, contradiction. The Secretary of State, having heard that challenge, and having risen in his place to reply, took no notice of it whatever, but left the reports in greater darkness than before. The importance of that fact, as regards the question of authority, can hardly be denied; but it was impossible not to notice also the language used by the Secretary of State. I watched it carefully, and, although I have not the note of the words at hand, I refer to the words in which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman announced the intention of Her Majesty's Government. They were to the effect that they would adhere to the propositions in the Bill as it now stands. They felt it their duty to adhere to them; but there was not a single syllable in the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, either explicitly or indirectly, showing their belief or conviction of the necessity of retaining corporal punishment in the Army. That, I believe, is undeniably the state of the case as far as the question of authority is concerned. Now, let me turn, for a few moments, to the state of the case as regards argument. There is great utility, sometimes, in that epigrammatic form of expression by which, by means, possibly, of one monosyllable the leading ideas on a subject are put forward. In that manner, this has been said to be a question between the lash and the bullet; but that aspect of the case has been fairly denied by the frank speeches of several hon. Gentlemen opposite, and especially in that of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot). The suggestion of my noble Friend has completely destroyed the idea that it is a question between the lash and the bullet. According to that suggestion, a flogging may be administered, not for a wide range of offences, infinitely various in their character, and which are now, in sweeping terms, made punishable by death; but as an alternative for death only in cases where a court martial, but for flogging, would be compelled to pronounce a sentence of death, and the Judges would be compelled to give effect to that sentence. Here is the real question at issue between, the two sides of the House. I hope I have not said a word to impugn for a moment the humanity of hon. Members opposite, or or to draw a comparison which must always be invidious between the humanity of one side and of the other. It is not necessary for me to do so, and I confine myself to the facts of the case. If a more severe code is thought necessary by hon. Gentlemen opposite, I have no doubt that they will make a sacrifice of their private views to the public interest; but it would not be the duty of anyone not sharing their conviction of the necessity of corporal punishment to disguise the real point at issue. Let it be understood -what that issue is, though it is not the question of those who are the opponents simpliciter of corporal punishment. My noble Friend says—"If you desire simply to avoid the necessity of shooting, and. if you have an alternative by which you can escape it, you should distinctly state the intention of Parliament in the Preamble." In the early part of my Parliamentary career such a Preamble was by no means so rare as now, and it has ample considerations to recommend it in certain cases. Why, then, have the Government rejected that proposal? If the argument—the only one, I will venture to say, that presses on this side of the House, and the one that seems to meet with most favour on the other side—is that it is a question between the lash and the bullet, I answer that that consideration will be completely disposed of if Parliament chooses to declare that, in its judgment, the lash should not be used except when the punishment would otherwise be death. That argument might be used against those who do not concur with my noble Friend; but, as far as he is concerned, it is without point or force. However, that offer of my noble Friend has been made and declined, and the position in which we find ourselves, stated in the compass of a single sentence, is this—the Government virtually say to us—Unless you will give us the power of inflicting corporal punishment in a number and class of cases in which, provided corporal punishment could not be inflicted, the punishment of death would not be thought of, we threaten to abandon the fruit and labour of the Session." I am now speaking of that which was most ex- plicitly stated by the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex, and it is by no means the narrow question of a few cases in which, while death is not excessive, flogging may be the preferable alternative, but it is a question ranging over a much wider field. We have been for many months engaged in a great national policy; we do not wish to rest under the reproach that our Army, resting, as it does, on the basis of voluntary service, must necessarily be inferior in character to that of other nations. We are not prepared to admit that a punishment which in itself unquestionably tends to degrade and demoralize a soldier, and which is not needful for other nations, is needful for us. We think, on the contrary, that if we wish to pursue our policy of raising the character of the Army by raising the conditions of service, we must endeavour to get rid of that punishment which, unless it is used strictly as a substitute for death, is the most likely of all the conditions of service to depress the nature and the class of the recruits in our barracks. Surely, no one can doubt the great mischief attending the infliction of this punishment. In former days it has been used with comparative indifference; and I do not suppose that most of those who argued the question 30 or 40 years ago had any adequate sense of the real and substantial objections that may be urged against it. There is the effect upon the man himself who suffers it, and I think that hardly the most sanguine of its advocates will contend that it is a punishment of a reformatory character. Then, again, there is the effect on those who inflict it; and I can scarcely conceive any form of duty from which the good men of an Army must be more averse, even in cases where it takes the place of a severer punishment. Then, too, there is the effect it has on the other comrades of the culprit. There was a time, not so very long ago, when the punishment of common thieves by the lash, if they were soldiers, was deliberately advocated by men of high character and great experience; I cannot but hope and believe that in the present day, if we contemplate the effects likely to follow our endeavours to raise the condition of our soldiers, we shall not be too sanguine in arriving at the conclusion that for offences for which death would never be inflicted we may safely dispense with the punishment of the lash. I will not dwell for more than a moment on that other very serious question, what is the actual basis, after all that has been said on the subject in this House during the present year, upon which the authority now rests in the Army? What, I would ask, is the time for which it can prudently be maintained as a punishment in the Army? Do you believe that, after all that has occurred, it can be long-lived? And if not, if you think that it can only last for a short term, do you suppose that it will be efficient for the purposes for which you desire that it should be continued? I will not dwell at length upon this, notwithstanding that I feel it to be a most pregnant and important part of the subject, because I feel that arguments like this might seem to have the character of menace, and I wish to keep the tone of the debate clear of such an imputation. I have now, and I hope without prejudice, endeavoured to lay before the House what I conceive to be the true position of the case. If ever there was a question which ought to be considered as a whole, and without reference to anything except the real interests at stake, this is that question. It is regarding it from that point of view, and that point of view alone, entirely apart from the prejudices or bitterness of Party, that I, for one, have arrived at the conclusion that the course which my noble Friend asks us to take is a wise course, and looking at the position in which the question now stands, owing to the acts of the Government, I cheerfully accept the alternative which they offer to us, and shall record my vote in support of the Amendment.


We must now feel thoroughly re-assured, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, that no question whatever of humanity is at stake between those who sit on. the two sides of the House. The point of view from which the Government look at the matter is, honestly and truly, that of humanity. From that point of view, the Government consider it to be a most serious question; for we have not only to take into account the suffering which may be inflicted on an individual soldier, but the dangers which may surround our Army in the field, as well as those to which the unoffending population among whom it may have to move may be exposed, and the risk to the policy in support of which war may have become necessary. And now I should like to know how the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman can explain their sudden conversion in this matter. The change was made only last Saturday week, and it has been made, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down says, simply because he and those who act with them found they were supported by authority in the view which they now take. But what was the authority which the right hon. Gentleman cited? Successive Liberal Governments have been in favour of maintaining flogging as a punishment in the Army. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) was a Member of a Government for years, during whose tenure of Office flogging in the Army might be inflicted to the extent of 50 lashes. The right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues must have believed that it was a punishment which was necessary for the purpose of maintaining discipline among the troops in the field, otherwise they would not have been justified in permitting it to be resorted to. But what, I repeat, is the authority on which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich relies? The first authority he gave us was that of younger officers of the Army; but he did not quote the name of a single officer as being in favour of the abolition of flogging. This reminds me of a somewhat similar assertion which was made by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), who said that only one or two soldiers had been shot in the German Army during the campaigns against Austria and France. Now, that, I cannot help thinking, is one of those wanton assertions which we occasionally hear made in this House.


That assertion is confirmed by a letter which appears in the newspapers this morning. [" Order, order! "]


I must point out to the hon. Member that he is not now in Order. He will have another opportunity of explaining.


I cannot help thinking that, when assertions of the kind are made, the authority on which they are founded should also be given; and it would, it seems to me, require some very good authority to establish the truth of that which the hon. Gentleman has stated. But to go back to the authorities cited by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. Besides the younger officers of the Army, of whom he did not name one—although when he was talking about officers he might have referred to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Renfrewshire (Colonel Mure), who honestly told the House that if flogging were abolished he did not know how discipline in the Army was to be maintained—the right hon. Gentleman's other great authority was Her Majesty's Government, who, it had been rumoured, he said, intended at one time to abolish flogging altogether. I am, however, in a position to say that that rumour is absolutely and entirely untrue. I have never heard the subject once mentioned, and the Government never entertained an idea of giving up flogging in the field. It is very strange that these rumours should be advanced as an authority on a great question. 80 far as I could make out, those two were the only authorities cited by the right hon. Gentleman; but what is the argument of the noble Lord who sits beside him? He says that he entirely agreed with those who thought it was necessary to retain the power of inflicting the punishment of flogging in the field; but that the changes which had been made during the progress of the Bill through Committee had completely upset his calculations on the subject. But what were those changes? The Government consented to the reduction of the number of lashes from 50 to 25, when they found that the military authorities were of opinion that the maintenance of discipline would not, in consequence, be endangered, and some alteration was made with reference to the powers to be intrusted to the provost marshal. It would appear, however, that if we had retained the punishment of flogging for all those trivial offences for which it might have been inflicted before under a Liberal Government, the noble Lord would have continued to oppose its abolition, true to the past of himself and his Friends. But because we take the terrible step of doing away with flogging, except for those grave offences which, are punishable with death, the noble Lord came down to the House on Saturday week, prepared to reverse the position which he maintained this year and which has been maintained for years past by successive Governments. I do not know whether this change may properly be described as a Party manœuvre; but it has the appearance of being something of the kind. I would point out to the House that the question before us is one on which it is not only military men who are competent to decide. It is a question which deeply affects the interests of our country, for everything which relates to the honour and efficiency of the Army touches every Englishman to the quick. I think I must confess that we have rather muddled up the subject. Owing to the long discussions which we have had upon it, I should not be surprised if, in many quarters, it came to be thought that we were now, when we are at peace, about to introduce the system of flogging into the Army for the first time. The Amendment of the noble Lord has, no doubt, been carefully worded; but there is not one word in it which would lead one to suppose that flogging was to be resorted to only when the troops were in active service. As I have said, an impression appears to prevail, in some quarters, that a Conservative Government are establishing flogging for all military offences; whereas the fact is that we are continuing a Code which has been adopted by previous Governments for many years, and that in the course of our proceedings we have been able considerably to modify it. And what, let me ask, does active service mean? It is, after all, but a mere euphemism for the horrible realities of war. You have your Army here in England looking as mild and well-mannered as possible; but various circumstances from time to time arise, which compel you to throw it upon a foreign and, perhaps, a barbarous shore. Why have you to do so? Because of the extraordinary enterprize of your commerce. You establish settlements which, at last, draw you into complications, and oblige you to send out your troops to defend them. Look at the immense importance of maintaining discipline in the Army in such circumstances for the sake of the men themselves. You say that taking a fowl or anything of that kind is a small matter in one of those parts; but do you not think that, in the interest of your men alone who fight your battles, it is of enormous importance that the feel- ing of the population should not be turned against them—that guerilla warfare should not be occasioned? And what does guerilla warfare mean, but that your men might be shot down as they go along? One of the great objects of a civilized country is to prevent the feeling of a whole population being turned against you. Is it not your interest that when your Army is leaving a country which it has entered it should leave the population of that country as friends instead of foes? Can you imagine that after terrible conflicts, after hand-to-hand encounters, after seeing comrades cut down by his side, an English lad from the plough, from the mine, from the workshop, or the loom, is at all so gentle a creature as he is at home? Your Army, after an encounter in the field, might become something like demons, unless they were under control. I venture to say that, on the ground of humanity, it is necessary that there should be a power of inflicting a sharp and severe punishment. The only way in which we can prevent troops being embarrassed by guerillas, and the population being subject to the most fearful outrages, is by having a system of short, but sharp punishment where the troops are actually engaged in war. That being the case, what is the punishment to be inflicted? All experience shows that you cannot imprison in the field; I do not believe in torturing a man by tying him to a tree; I do not believe that Englishmen would tolerate the French system. What resource, then, have you? You have the resource of shooting, or of inflicting corporal punishment, such as it is now proposed to maintain. If I look at the question from a humanitarian point of view, or have regard to the authority of military men of the past, I have no choice in this matter. I, for one, would be no party to the change that is suggested, of giving power to our officers to order our soldiers to be shot for breaches of discipline in the field. I decline entirely to take upon my head the blood of the English soldiers who will be shot if this milder form of punishment is done away with. I believe that if, in a moment of Party excitement, you took away the existing power of inflicting corporal punishment, you would be sowing the seeds of one of the most terrible of all calamities—an undisciplined Army in the field; for the military commanders, though they found they could not use the lash, would, for a time, not dare to use the bullet. Holding these views, I decline to take the responsibility of increasing the number of our soldiers who will be shot in the field by the hands of their brethren. I beg to express my own personal feeling in opposition to the Motion of the noble Lord. I do so on the ground of humanity, for the sake of the inhabitants of those countries in which our soldiers may hereafter unfortunately be engaged; I do so for the sake of our soldiers, and for the sake of the military honour of this great country.


said, the noble Lord who had just spoken characterized a statement which he made the other night as a wanton statement. [An hon. MEMBER: Wandering.] He understood the word used was wanton. He accepted it either way. The noble Lord was always put up by the Government when there was a question of humanity under discussion; but there was no Member in that House who was so vituperative to the extent of his limited capacity as the noble Lord. He had once before to apply to the noble Lord the lines of Byron— The mildest-mannered man That ever scuttled ship, or cut a throat. The noble Lord got up with an appearance of fairness; but he managed to insert as much venom, to convey as many innuendoes, and to impute as many bad motives in his speech as any man who got up in that House. He (Mr. Mundella) begged to say that the statement which the noble Lord declared to be absolutely untrue was made upon the authority of a British officer of great distinction. To day there appeared in The Times a letter signed by a soldier—Captain Hozier—who said he was attached to the German Army during the Austrian and French campaigns, and that while no corporal punishment was inflicted upon the men of that Army, not a single soldier was shot in either of those campaigns for breach of discipline. Captain Hozier further stated that during the last 25 years not a man had been shot in the Austrian Army. Why did not the Secretary of State for War contradict these statements if they were not true? His (Mr. Mundella's) statement was made on Tuesday. The Secretary of State for War had access to official information, and he knew whether that statement was true or not. If it was not true, why did not he say so? Because he knew better. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool said that as our troops went to barbarous countries it was necessary for the maintenance of discipline to retain the power of inflicting corporal punishment on our soldiers. Were there no prisons in South Africa? Were there no prisons in India? What did it come to? That flogging was to be maintained for the sake of Afghanistan and Zululand. Was there ever such a hypocritical pretence as that? ["Order!"]


The expression which the hon. Gentleman has just used is not Parliamentary.


said, he at once withdrew any term which the right hon. Gentleman said was un-Parliamentary. But he maintained that the statement would not bear examination for a moment, that it was necessary to maintain flogging in order that the Natives of the country which we invaded might not suffer at the hands of our soldiers. Two distinguished officers, yesterday, said to him that it was a mistake to maintain flogging; and they hoped he would use his influence, if he had any, to get flogging abolished. He would not betray their confidence by giving their names. He was satisfied, if flogging were abolished—and it was very nearly abolished—we should have a better Army, and those who now fought for the maintenance of the lash would look back on their action with regret, if not with shame.


said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down complained of the vituperation of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon); but the noble Lord had the advantage, inasmuch as he had not, like the hon. Member for Sheffield, been called to Order by the Chair. If he had had any doubt as to this question of flogging having been taken up by the Leaders of the Opposition as a Party question, that doubt had been removed by the speeches of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, and the noble Lord the Member for the Radnor Boroughs. The supporters of the Government were placed in this matter at a disadvantage, because the unreflecting portion—which he regretted to say comprised a very large portion—of the public would arrive at the conclusion that Members who sat on this side of the House were the promoters of flogging in the Army, while those who sat on the Opposition side were the mild, gentle, humanitarian Liberals who wished to abolish the lash. He did not think that was a fair view, and he trusted the public, after the debate, would see that there was just as much humane feeling and good wishes for the welfare of the Army on the one side of the House as on the other. What were the facts as to flogging? The lash was only maintained when this country was in a state of war with another country, and on board ship under the flag. The public scarcely contemplated this fact? Why was flogging kept up at all in the Army? Because officers commanding regiments declared that, unless this punishment was maintained, it was impossible to keep up discipline before the enemy. No substitute for the lash had been suggested unless, indeed, it was the bullet. With regard to the severity of the punishment itself, he was bound to say, having served abroad in the old days, when flogging was much more common than in recent years, he had seen the most harrowing and painful sights in India. The scene was to many persons more painful, mentally, than it was to the men who physically received the punishment. He was of opinion that 25 lashes given by a boy was, under all the circumstances, not excessive. As to the infliction of the lashes by the drummer boy, in his eyes, this was one of the most degrading parts of the business; to see a boy of 12 years flogging a man old enough to be his father. He should be glad to see an alteration in the law in that respect. As to the comparison made between the English Army and the French and German Armies, he held that it was absurd. Our Army was recruited from the lowest ranks of the population, including men direct from prison, who were admitted by some recruiting sergeants; but the French and German Armies included gentlemen's sons and tradesmen and artizans, and they, by their superior feeling and better education, kept in order the unruly members. Again, on the Continent, no great difficulty was experienced in sending an offender to a military prison from the front; but how was that to be done in Zululand or in Burmah, China, or India, where most of our wars were carried on? How could they, for instance, send men back from Blood River to a Natal prison? An officer had told him that he disapproved of flogging, and that when his men did wrong he tied them together and 'made them drag a gun all day; but it seemed to him (Mr. Benett-Stanford) that that was not so humane a punishment as flogging. He hoped the Government would abide by their Bill and by their determination; but he suggested that the Royal Commission about to sit on the affairs of the Army should take the question of flogging into its consideration, and when the question arose again the Government could act on the decision come to by the Commission. What he might call the sudden conversion of the Leaders of the Liberal Party in regard to this question certainly struck him as being somewhat strange. During the time they were in Office, those Gentlemen asked Parliament, year after year, to pass the Mutiny Bill, instead of doing which they could have proposed the abolition of flogging, which they did not do, but for which they now seemed to be so particularly desirous. He could not help thinking that the Liberal Leaders were now disregarding their public duties, in order to get up a sentimental cry in view of the coining General Election.


said, there could be no doubt that the days of flogging as a means of punishment in the Army were drawing to a close. The abolition might not come this year or next; but it must come in the end. He should, therefore, support the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for the Radnor Boroughs, but upon grounds different from those which the noble Lord had stated. He (Sir Henry Havelock) acknowledged that he had been a supporter of corporal punishment in certain circumstances in the Army; but he had come to the conclusion that it must be done away with in consequence of the course taken by the Secretary of State for War. By that course some of the offences for which, in former days, the lash was the punishment had been removed from the Schedule. He alluded principally to offences which were the result of drinking, a habit to which English soldiers were, perhaps, more prone than the soldiers of any other European country. He was, therefore, of opinion that flogging was the readiest, and perhaps the most appropriate, punishment that could be inflicted for drunkenness and the crimes which resulted from this inherent vice of the British Army; but the Secretary of State for War, by the changes he had made in this Bill, had deprived him of this plea for its maintenance, and he should support the proposition of the noble Lord. What, he would ask, would be the effect of the alteration made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman? They were now engaged in a war in Zululand, and he understood there was considerable disorganization in the Army there; but he had no hesitation in saying that when this new law reached the Cape its contents would speedily be known throughout the length and breadth of the Army, and that one of the consequences would be that the present disorganization would be increased by a corresponding increase in the cases of drunkenness and the offences which arose out of it. It was said that corporal punishment was brutalizing; but this he denied. He admitted that flogging was deliberate, systematic, graduated torture. It was brutal, but not brutalizing. Those of them who had been flogged at school, and soundly flogged, did not feel that the punishment was either brutalizing or degrading. In the Army it had been an efficient punishment for the maintenance of a very high degree of discipline; but he believed those who had suffered the punishment had not felt degraded. It had acted as a sound, wholesome deterrent on those who had witnessed its infliction; but the soldier who had been punished often felt it as an additional spur and incitement to distinguish himself. He belonged, in fact, to a class of men who were strong, fierce, irregular, and adventurous in their nature, and that was the class which had done so much to make an Army realize the saying that they never knew when they were beaten. He should be very sorry to see this class eliminated from the Army, and its place supplied by the school-board-bred milksop. In the French Army the system of discipline was neither superior nor more humane than ours. It had two alternative phases—great laxity, and a sharp re-action to extreme and horrible cruelty. In time of peace, men were shot in garrison for breaches of discipline; and in the field laxity, which would not be tolerated for a moment in this country, was met by the frequent—he might say constant—infliction of death. The Russian peasant or soldier, when drunk, would lie down and go to sleep; if demonstrative, he would slabber his friend or comrade; but he had not the element of violence within, and, therefore, it was not necessary to check violence by punishment in the Russian Army. The German Army was composed, in the main, of highly-educated men, and, therefore, maintained a superior social tone; and if we had an equal proportion of good men in our Army, we should have no necessity for the lash or for death. Indeed, they would not be necessary if our Volunteers were called out, because the moral sense and respectability of the great majority would overpower any inclination on the part of the ill-conditioned to commit any offences calling for severe punishment. But in the German Army deliberate torture was not unknown. It was not an unfrequent thing for a man to be tied, for 12 or 14 hours, in a cramped position, to the wheel of a gun-carriage. In time of peace it had been the practice to subject men to torture for minor offences. A man would be put alone into a cell, without table or chair, and with a floor of blunt-edged laths, which caused some pain to the feet; and the torture thus inflicted was worse than a small modicum of corporal punishment. Torture was habitual in the Volunteer Army of the United States, particularly out in the far West, where public opinion was weak. The progress of public opinion in this country was now due mainly to the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood)—a sentimental humanitarian, whose motives he respected more than his knowledge. Personal experience had convinced him that our Code of military punishments, though in some senses brutal, [was, at all events, more just, more equal, and more humane than the practices resorted to in foreign Armies. From 28 years' service he claimed to know the feeling of the British soldier. He recollected 13 instances in which corporal punishment had been inflicted, and there was not one in which it was not necessary, and in which the sufferer would not have admitted that it was deserved. He was stung to the quick by one remark of the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), who said that he spoke strongly, and that if he had been a soldier he would have spoken still stronger. That simply meant that the soldiers in the House were brutalized by familiarity with a degrading punishment, and that they could not see the matter from his exalted standpoint. This was an unnecessary sneer against men as humane as the right hon. Gentleman himself. The only instance he had seen of a man being- humiliated and degraded after the punishment was that of a man who proved himself a coward. He said in bravado, and in the hearing of his comrades, that the punishment had not caused him any inconvenience, and that he could take another standing on his head; but when the officer commanded silence on pain of a drumhead court martial and a repetition of the flogging he was cowed, and went away a degraded man, lowered in the opinion of his comrades, who saw that he was really afraid of another flogging. But, generally, there was no feeling of degradation in the individual sufferer, who often re-established himself in the good opinion of his comrades and officers by exemplary and sometimes heroic conduct. He supported the Amendment; but he did so on an entirely different ground from that taken up by the noble Lord. While the number of lashes was maintained at 50, and flogging was applied to a large number of intermediate offences against discipline—offences neither very grave nor very trivial—the punishment was an effective one; but the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, by his concessions, had entirely cut the ground from under his own feet. Flogging as limited by the Bill could not, in his opinion, be defended. The only excuse for it—namely, that it could be resorted to when imprisonment was impossible and death too severe—was gone. If he was not mistaken, some other form of punishment would have to be devised to replace it, and that speedily.


said, they had listened that evening to several personal explanations, particularly to one from the Leader of the Opposition—an explanation which was properly characterized by the Secretary for War; but no explanation they had heard was more remarkable than that which was offered by the hon. and gallant Member who preceded him. It seemed as if he were about to be the isolated instance of an hon. Member sitting on the other side of the House who was prepared to vote with Her Majesty's Government. But as the discourse of the hon. and gallant Member proceeded, it became a most bewildering one. The hon. and gallant Member traversed the greater portion of the earth's surface. He took the House through France, Russia, Germany, and America, and appeared to regret the absence in all those countries of flogging as it was administered in the British Army. In fact, the hon. and gallant Member seemed to have risen for the purpose of delivering the funeral oration of corporal punishment, and in accordance with the usual practice on such occasions—de mortuis nil nisi bonum—he pronounced a warm panegyric on the practice of flogging in the Army. In fact, the hon. and gallant Member seemed to say—" Take it for all in all, we ne'er shall look upon its like again; "and appeared to come to the conclusion that, after all, he ought to support the system of flogging. Finally, however, the hon. and gallant Member concluded by saying that, owing to the peculiar conduct pursued by the Government, and in spite of all the acknowledged merits of flogging as a system, in spite, too, of its superiority to the systems of punishment which prevailed in all other Armies, he felt compelled to vote against Her Majesty's Government. And what reason was advanced by the hon. and gallant Member for that extraordinary conclusion? So far as he could understand from the bewildering oration of the hon. and gallant Member, there appeared to be two reasons. The first was that the Government had abandoned flogging as a punishment for drunkenness. If flogging were worth retaining at all, it ought to be retained in respect of that crime. The hon. and gallant Member appeared to think that in time of war, and especially in Zululand, there was scarcely any temptation likely to fall in the way of the soldier save that of indulging in too muck drink, the inference being that if flogging for drunk- enness were retained the hon. and gallant Member would vote for the Bill as it stood. The punishment, the hon. and gallant Gentleman said, was not a brutalizing one, it rather incited to deeds of valour, as men who had undergone it would show their fellows the way, if the chance of doing so should occur, of gaining special distinction. But the other reason assigned by the hon. and gallant Member for voting against Her Majesty's Government was a still more remarkable one—it was this, that so long as the number of 50 lashes was retained he would never hear of flogging being dispensed with. The hon. and gallant Member did not say whether the exact number of 50 ought to have been retained, or whether 50 stripes save one, or 40 stripes save one, would suit his views; but because 50 had been reduced to 25 the Government had forfeited all claim to his support. The hon. and gallant Gentleman confessed his inability to indicate any kind of substitute for corporal punishment. The French system, which appeared to consist of shooting those who under British rule would be flogged, was not, in the opinion of the hon. and gallant Member, a desirable one. The Russians when they got drunk embraced their comrades, and did not, like the British soldier, engage in assaults of a violent nature; while the Germans were of too elevated a character to be flogged. The one being too high and the other too low to be flogged, there was, therefore, no occasion to resort to the punishment of flogging in their case. It was only in the British Army, and then only in the case of 50 lashes being inflicted on the sufferer, that flogging was to be retained. Now, for his own part, he had always held that in a case of this kind the only possible course for a civilian to adopt was to take his opinions at second-hand. If he wanted a medical opinion, he would go to his doctor; if he wanted a theological opinion, he would go to a theologian; and in such a matter as the present, in the absence of special knowledge, he was compelled to fall back on the opinion of experts. Good sometimes came out of evil, and the charge against the Government of whittling away the punishment of flogging till it was no longer worth retaining might, perhaps, be a lesson to them that it was unwise to attempt government by concession. He regretted that they were to have a Party fight upon the question before the House. The question was one which ought to be settled by a few experienced heads and which ought not to be decided on humanitarian, but on purely rational grounds. The Party to which he belonged had always been consistent in this matter, and had voted through long periods of Liberal Government for the retention of flogging, even when the punishment was more severe than at the present time. The Party on the other side of the House supported the Motion of the Leader of the Opposition for different reasons. The Irish Members of the Opposition supported it because they had reason to believe that the course of conduct in which they had recently indulged was becoming increasingly odious to the people of this country, and they hoped that their opposition to the Army Discipline Bill might be thought better of if surrounded with a halo of humanitarianism. The peace-at-any-price Party opposed flogging as humanitarians, and because it was a part of their political creed that Armies were unnecessary. This Party saw that the best way to put an end to an Army would be to reduce its discipline as far as possible, and so convert it into a military mob which, the country would wish to rid itself of as quickly as possible. The real difficulty of such subjects as that which was engaging the attention of the House was due to the fact that the nature of war was in itself exceptional. It was quite idle to suppose that one could argue from analogies drawn from private or social life as to the necessity or policy of the kind of punishment which should be introduced into the Army. A military punishment must be short, sharp, and deterrent. An hon. Member asked—"Why not take a soldier who should misbehave himself in the front in Zululand back to a prison in Natal?" Well, if he, being a military prisoner, were given the option of receiving 50 lashes, or of being taken across 800 miles of territory where there were persons whose kraals had recently been burnt, and who would not be inclined to treat Europeans in a very friendly manner, he should not hesitate about taking his 50 lashes, and so ending the matter. The real difficulty with regard to all secondary punishments lay in the question, "What kind of punishment is it best to adopt? "For very severe offences the penalty of death must be inflicted. Then came those offences which were not so serious as to necessitate capital punishment, but which still required a serious punishment. The practice of flogging prisoners had existed for a great number of years, and. the punishment had been gradually reduced from formidable to reasonable proportions; so that, while sufficiently deterrent, it could not be so severe as to necessitate the placing of a sufferer from it in a hospital. Should they give up this punishment with a light heart in obedience to humanitarian motives? They were assured by hon. Members opposite that soldiers would not in future be shot; and, therefore, if flogging were abolished, the ingenuity of commanding officers would have to be exercised in order to devise some mode of torture which should not involve the infliction of stripes, but which should be equally deterrent. Although he was sure that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition had spoken with perfect candour when he said he did not propose this Amendment in consequence of the family difference which occurred a few nights ago between him and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), and that the date of his change of opinion was antecedent to that little episode, still, it was difficult to believe that the Liberal Party would, as a whole, have arrived exactly at the present moment at the conclusion that the time had come when corporal punishment ought to be abolished, unless it was found necessary that something of that kind should be done to supply a "cry" for the next Election. For himself, he did not believe that cry would be successful. It had been tried before, and had failed. If it had not answered the purpose of the Liberal Party when flogging was more severe, it would hardly serve their turn when this punishment had been reduced to such very limited proportions. There were some humanitarians in this country who scarcely cared what happened to the soldier as long as he was not flogged; but he believed that the vast majority of the electors would hold that the Government were right in sticking to their colours, and that if any charge could properly be brought against them, it was not that they had in this matter conceded too little, but that they had been too long in making a resolute stand.


remarked, that this was a question on which public opinion had grown, and it had grown to such an extent that the Leader of the Opposition was now found to advocate the abolition of flogging. It was most unjust as well as ungenerous towards the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) for hon. Gentlemen opposite, whom he had so often helped in their difficulties from a remarkable spirit of fairness, now to assert or insinuate that he had changed his opinion in order to obtain a Party cry. Those who imputed that unworthy motive to the noble Lord strangely enough told them that that cry had been taken up by the Liberals before and had utterly failed. He had reason to believe that the noble Lord had resolved on his change of attitude as regards flogging, even at the time when he (Mr. Hopwood) had had the misfortune to incur his displeasure. He maintained that the Government themselves—or rather the four most prominent of its Members in the House—had had it in contemplation to do away entirely with the lash—a kind of punishment which did not exist in any Continental or American Army, and which was now exclusively reserved for the back of the British soldier only. Much had been said against the "sentimentalism" of those who opposed the use of the "cat;" but did those who talked thus understand the power, the nature of sentiment? What was the sense of honour itself—one of the most potent feelings in the human breast—but a sentiment peculiarly to be encouraged in the soldier, but most likely to make him regard flogging as painfully degrading? This punishment affected the good and the bad alike, for in arbitrary and cruel hands it menaced both, and must prevent men of character from enlisting. Every man who entered the Army was aware that, in certain circumstances, he would be liable to flogging. The argument upon which flogging was maintained as a punishment, that it was indispensable for discipline, was one, in his view, after the experience of other Armies, altogether untenable. If they said that so bad a class of men entered the Army that discipline could not be maintained without it, they were bound to show how it was that Armies based on conscription, which brought all classes of men into them, did not resort to such punishment. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had not alluded to the American Army, in which flogging was abolished in 1861. America was thronged with roughs sent to them from Europe, and her Army was formed like ours—by voluntary enlistment—and yet the abolition of flogging was attended with complete success. This question of punishment to repress offences was not new to those who studied the law of civil life and its administration. If you abolished a cruel or too severe law you always had the satisfaction of finding that the punishments left subsisting immediately acquired a new, an increased repressive value, and might each be reduced from highest to lowest without diminution of their moral effect. If this punishment were removed, there would be an immense and immediate improvement in the moral tone of the Army, and every other punishment would become more potent. Discipline, rightly understood, of course, must be maintained; but he believed if they relied less on force they would work great improvement. They were told it would be necessary to have recourse to the bullet if the lash were done away with; but in the Peninsular War the bullet had frequently to be resorted to though the lash was in full force. The proposal of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition was fair and reasonable, and would, in all probability, be carried into effect before long.


said, he was not in the habit of using strong language; but he did not hesitate to denounce the noble Lord's Resolution as unjust, and, if it was a Parliamentary expression, as disingenuous, also. It was calculated and intended to fix upon the Government the odium of maintaining the punishment of flogging in all circumstances and to all time. They wished, however, to do nothing of the kind, and considered corporal punishment most undesirable, but indispensable. Unhappily, it seemed to be more than ever necessary in the present day; and hon. Members opposite would bear in mind that the condition to which the Army was reduced was the result—unintentional, no doubt, and unforeseen—of their own policy. He would be very glad when the Army recovered its old efficiency; but, in any case, it would be impossible to relinquish the punishment of flogging altogether. It was most important to retain the power to inflict it, though the necessity of doing so was much to be regretted. Our Army served in all parts of the Globe, and in circumstances that fully justified the retention of corporal punishment; while the military systems of other Powers were so essentially different from our own that no valid argument could be drawn from them. He considered that the present state of our Army strongly supported his views. In our campaigns of some years ago corporal punishment had not been lavishly inflicted. If he remembered rightly, resort had been had to it very seldom during the Indian Mutiny, and not at all during the Abyssinian campaign. The hon. and gallant Member for Renfrewshire (Colonel Mure), however, had told them of the numerous occasions on which men had been flogged in Zululand; he could only say that such a statement furnished the strongest possible argument against the Resolution, and amounted almost to positive evidence of the deterioration within recent years of military discipline. The hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) had expressed himself in forcible terms as to the degradation caused by corporal punishment; but he had, apparently, ignored the degradation necessarily produced by the commission of crime. The hon. and learned Member and the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock) might settle their differences by themselves; while the one desired the total abolition of corporal punishment the other might have been expected to move an Amendment involving its extension. Reference had been made to the effect which the existence of flogging in the Army had upon recruiting; but it would, he contended, have the effect of keeping out of the Army only those whom, it was desirable to keep out of it. He would like to know from the noble Marquess, who had been Secretary of State for War, how he would deal with the men in the Army who were queer characters? He (Colonel Arbuthnot) could not see how, in the face of the opinions of the Commander-in-Chief, of the great mass of the noncommissioned officers, and of all the good men, bearing in mind, also, the peculiarities of our Service, the Government could consent to do away with that punishment altogether. As to the abolition of flogging being turned into an electioneering cry, as the hon. Member for Birmingham had stated, he could only say that he had no fear that he should be able to dispose of such a cry when he appeared before his constituents, as he had of others which were equally absurd.


said, he could assure the House that he did not rise for the purpose of supplying any fuel whatever to those flames of Party feeling which flickered about from one side of the House to the other, and which he did not think were calculated to create that tone of seriousness with which the discussion of a question so solemn and important as that under the consideration of the House ought to be conducted. He would, he hoped, be excused for endeavouring to impress upon the House that it was not a question of Parliamentary, or of Party, but one of military discipline, and that expression meant nothing more nor less than the existence of that noble Service on which, up to the present time, the welfare and safety of this country depended. That circumstance alone, he thought, ought to carry it far beyond the reach of anything like Party triumph, or even an electioneering cry. The hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), who was so well known as a supporter of the abolition of flogging, had spoken on the subject with peculiar authority, but, at the same time, with a very strong bias. He had the pleasure this Session of sitting on a Committee with the hon. and learned Gentleman on the question of summary jurisdiction, and he knew the opinions which he—and he alone, he believed, of the Members of that Committee—entertained with regard to the infliction of corporal punishment, even in the mild and harmless form of the application of the birch to a naughty boy. Being aware of those opinions, he must say that he could not help feeling that the hon. and learned Gentleman's views as to flogging in the Army ought to be received with a good many grains of salt; and, with all respect for the hon. and learned Gentleman, he could not look upon him as a competent authority to influence the decision of the House on the subject. He might be allowed to make one re- mark by way of illustrating what tie meant. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to recognize the great necessity of maintaining military discipline; but he scarcely appeared to comprehend what a serious and important thing military discipline was, when he referred to that noble Force the Volunteers as showing in what it might be made to consist. Now, no one had more admiration for the Volunteer Force than he had, or valued more highly its services. As every hon. Member whom he addressed was aware, it had turned out a great number of splendid shots, and every year it went through certain military evolutions and a certain course of drill. But no one would contend that the Volunteer Force, important as it was, and capable as it was of being made a most efficient instrument of military power, was the model to which the country ought to look for military discipline; indeed, it was impossible that the Force, as at present constituted, could understand what that discipline really was. He would quote from memory from a French, not an English, source—The History of a Conscript, a work with which many hon. Members were no doubt acquainted—a short description of what was meant on the Continent by military discipline. The interesting person who was the hero of the work stated that on his arrival in a certain town in Germany, where his regiment was to stay some months, they began to learn discipline. "Now you are not," he went on to say, "to understand by that that we are learning how to shoot, or to do the goose step, or to perform certain other military evolutions, but discipline—that is to say, when the corporal speaks to the soldier the corporal is always right, and when the sergeant speaks to the corporal the sergeant is right, and when the captain speaks to the sergeant the captain is right, and the colonel is right when he speaks to the captain, and so on up to the Field Marshal, even though he should say two and two make five, or that the moon shines at mid-day. That is a very difficult thing for the conscript to learn; but it greatly aids my memory to see in the room written up the 'Articles of War,' with a notification at the end of them that any infraction of them is punishable by death or the boulet, a kind of shot-drill." Now, a soldier had to be taught all that sort of thing, and, looking at the class of men with which we had to deal in our Army, seeing that they were men who had not the advantage of much schooling or a good early training, very severe means must frequently be resorted to to teach them discipline, and to impress the necessity of it upon their minds. The British Army was composed of a collection of units; but each unit was a portion of a great machine, the failure of any one of the parts of which would jeopardize the safety of the whole machine. Therefore, the crime of one man was multiplied 800 times, because his conduct affected his whole battalion. An offence such as the plunder of a henroost, or the robbery of a shop, which in civil life would be simple larceny, was a felony, a crime of the worst description, in a soldier, and it was on that ground that these offences were of so formidable a character. But the condition of things at which they had now arrived was, in his opinion, an unfortunate one, and he would tell them why. They were within a very small distance of coming to an agreement as to the proper mode of treating this question. He never understood his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to promise an abolition of corporal punishment, or to hold out to the House or the Committee any idea of that nature. But his right hon. Friend, undoubtedly, offered this compromise—that a certain class of offences which were at present punishable by death should hereafter be the subject of corporal punishment. How was it that, with that offer from the Government, the two Front Benches did not come to terms? He could not help thinking that if the Secretary of State for War and the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition had been closeted for 10 minutes they would have settled this question. That settlement might not have been altogether agreeable to his hon. Friends behind him; but he believed it would have been satisfactory to men of business. And one thing he complained of as tending to prevent a proper understanding on this question was this—that the Paper, called a Memorandum, explanatory of the Schedule relating to corporal punishment had not been circulated with the Votes. It was with some difficulty that he got a second copy in the Vote Office. He found the Memorandum had not been distributed daily with the Amendments to the Bill, and he came to the conclusion that very few Members knew anything about it. He could not believe that if the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition and his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich had had that Paper continually before their eyes, and had known how very different an interpretation it bore from that which was popularly put upon it, they and the Government could have failed to come to an agreement. There was a notion abroad that the difference between the two Front Benches was this—that the Government had proposed that corporal punishment should be used as a substitute only for capital offences. Well, the Opposition said—"Very good; but your list of capital offences includes many offences for which, not capital punishment, but only flogging is inflicted." Here were 26 heads of offences named in this Memorandum. He had read them very carefully, and he ventured to say that not more than six or seven of these were offences which a commanding officer in time of war would regard as not deserving of death. No. 1, a man who "shamefully abandons or delivers up any garrison, place, post, or guard, or uses any means to compel or induce any governor, commanding officer, or other person shamefully to abandon or deliver up any garrison, place, post, or guard, which it was the duty of such governor, officer, or person to defend "—death; No. 3, a man who "treacherously holds correspondence with or gives intelligence to the enemy, or treacherously or through cowardice sends a flag of truce to the enemy"—death; No. 4, a man who "assists the enemy with arms, ammunition, or supplies, or knowingly harbours or protects an enemy not being a prisoner "—death; No. 5, a man who, "having been made a prisoner of war, voluntarily serves with or voluntarily aids the enemy "—death; No. 6, a man who "knowingly does when on active service any act calculated to imperil the success of Her Majesty's Forces or any part thereof"—death. The next three appeared to him to admit of lenient treatment. A man who "misbehaves or induces others to misbehave before the enemy;" a man who "leaves his commanding officer to go in search of plunder;" a man who, '' without orders from his superior officer, leaves his guard, piequet, patrol, or post." The next offences might be dealt with leniently, though they were very formidable. No. 10, "forces a safeguard;" No. 11, "forces or strikes a sentry;" No. 12, "impedes the provost marshal or any officer legally exercising authority under or on behalf of the provost marshal, or, when called on, refuses to assist in the execution of his duty the provost marshal or any such officer;" No. 13, "does violence to any person bringing provisions or supplies to the Forces, or commits any offence against the property or person of any inhabitant of or resident in the country in which he is serving;" No. 14, "breaks into any house or other place in search of plunder;" No. 15, "by discharging firearms, drawing swords, beating drums, making signals, using words, or by any means whatever intentionally occasions false alarms in actions, on the march, in the field, or elsewhere;" No. 16, "treacherously makes known the parole or watchword to any person not entitled to receive it; or, without good and sufficient cause, gives a parole or watchword different from what he received." That brought him down to the 16th offence. All these were matters of death. No. 17, a man who "irregularly detains or appropriates to his own corps or detachment any provisions or supplies proceeding to the Forces, contrary to any orders issued in that respect." That might be matter for a lenient punishment. Then came a long list of very bad offences—No. 18, "being a sentinel, commits any of the following offences—that is to say, (a) sleeps or is drunk on his post, or (b), leaves his post before he is regularly relieved;" No. 19, "causes or conspires with any other persons to cause any mutiny or sedition in any Forces belonging to Her Majesty's Regular, Reserve, or Auxiliary Forces, or Navy;" No. 20, "endeavours to seduce any person in Her Majesty's Regular, Reserve, or Auxiliary Forces, or Navy, from allegiance to Her Majesty, or to persuade any person in Her Majesty's Regular, Reserve, or Auxiliary Forces, or Navy, to join in any mutiny or sedition;" No. 21, "joins in, or being present does not use his utmost endeavours to suppress, any mutiny or sedition in any Forces belonging to Her Majesty's Regular, Reserve, or Auxiliary Forces, or Navy;" No. 22, "coming to the knowledge of any actual or in- tended mutiny or sedition in any Forces belonging to Her Majesty's Regular, Reserve, or Auxiliary Forces, or Navy, does not without delay inform his commanding officer of the same;" No. 23, "strikes or uses or offers any violence to his superior officer, being in the execution of his office.". These offences were punished, and he maintained they ought to be punished, with death. No. 24, a man who "disobeys any lawful command given by his superior officer in the execution of his office;" No. 25, "deserts or attempts to desert Her Majesty's Service;" No. 26, "persuades, endeavours to persuade, procures, or attempts to procure any person subject to military law to desert from Her Majesty's Service." Of these, the 25th and 26th ought unquestionably to be punished with death. Of these 26 offences, all but six or seven might be punished with flogging, instead of with death. Was that a proper thing to imperil the discipline of the Army upon? These crimes must be prevented. He should like to see a request made that every Member of the House would write on a piece of paper the name of the punishment he would substitute for flogging, and place it in a box. He thought the House itself would be surprised at the marvellous want of unanimity in regard to the matter. Now, what was the proper thing to do? He would put himself in the position of a commanding officer. He would imagine a poor fellow brought before him and convicted of one of these minor offences. He would have to say to him—"My good fellow, you have been legally convicted by a court martial of an offence the punishment of which is death. You know perfectly well the serious nature of the offence you have committed. I am very sorry for your case. If I had the power of remitting the sentence, your offence should be punished with flogging; but Her Majesty's Government and the Opposition would not agree, and I have no choice but to have you shot." [Cheers.] He did not like the Amendment of the noble Lord, and could not vote for it. It must mean one of two things—either that the noble Lord objected to corporal punishment being made permanent, or that he objected to corporal punishment altogether. If the noble Lord meant either the one or the other, why did he not speak out plainly? Had. the Amend- ment pointed, or been so amended as to point, to the temporary retention of flogging, say for a couple of years, in order that the officers might turn round and see what was to be substituted, he should have been disposed to support it. As the matter stood, however, he should not take any part in the Division; but he should endeavour to confine himself to a careful examination of the details of the Schedule, and to do the best he could to bring them into such a shape as would command the confidence of the country.


said, both the Amendment and the speech of his noble Friend were perfectly plain, and raised an issue of a very simple character. He would only retain corporal punishment as an alternative to death. This question of flogging had been so long and so much discussed that they might afford to dismiss a great many of the arguments on this occasion. Every day, however, that it was discussed it seemed to him the issue was being made more and more narrow and the result more and more certain. They had been asked not to address themselves to this question in a Party spirit. His conscience was entirely free on that point. Never from the earliest moment that he had interested himself in this question had he taken a Party view of it; but while on that side they had always addressed themselves to this question in a fair spirit they had some very severe imputations cast upon them. They were told that they were "the advocates of ruffianism in the Army "because they wished to abolish this punishment which it was said was applied to the "ruffians" and the "blackguards" of the Army. He was not prepared to say that these were proper terms for hon. Members on the Conservative Benches to use with regard to our Army—that it was composed of "ruffians" and "blackguards." ["No!"] Those were the terms used by hon. Members opposite. He thought the soldiers who fought at Rorke's Drift and in other parts of Zululand and in Afghanistan would repel those terms with indignation, more especially when the terms "ruffians" and "blackguards" were applied by those who called themselves the soldier's friends. The burden of proof lay with those who desired the retention of the punishment of flogging to show that discipline could not be maintained without it. This he maintained could not be done. It had been said that corporal punishment was inflicted in the German Army; but this was quite incorrect. Nothing of the kind existed in the German Army; it had long been done away with in Germany. The Secretary of State for War had stated that there was a difference between our Army and those of the Continent, inasmuch as we generally operated in barbarous countries. Well, the English Army had to operate, as it was called, in barbarous countries—in many where it had no business to be called upon to operate at all. But he contended the argument about barbarous countries told the other way. The temptations of the German Army in possession of the large and flourishing cities of France were far greater than any temptations to which the English Army operating in barbarous countries could be subjected. To the temptations of the German Army were added the recollections of the wrongs of many invasions; but it was a notorious fact that during the whole of the Franco-Prussian War only three men of the German Army were put to death for misbehaviour during the campaign. Then as to the Austrian occupation of Herzegovina and Bosnia, carried out amid a hostile population and against the ill-will of the Ottoman Forces, discipline had been maintained without corporal punishment. The American Army was strictly analogous to the British Army—in fact, there were many Englishmen in the American Army; but discipline was strictly maintained there without the lash. He remembered the time when it was said it was impossible to maintain discipline in the Navy without flogging, but now flogging was exceedingly rare in the Navy; and a few nights ago, at a large public meeting, a most distinguished officer, Admiral Glyn, who was selected to convey the Prince of Wales to India and bring him back, in reply to a question, said he was convinced flogging in the Navy should be abolished. He did not see why an English soldier should be treated with greater severity than the soldiers of every other civilized Army in the world. He suggested that camp duty of a very disagreeable and almost painful character might be given to men guilty of disorderly character instead of resorting to flogging, which had utterly failed as a deterrent. He did not share the opinion of hon. Members opposite—that the death punishment would be inflicted for minor offences if flogging were abolished. It was an injustice to require a soldier to inflict corporal punishment upon a comrade, simply because an ill-conditioned provost marshal called him to do so. Hon. Members opposite had repeatedly spoken of high military authorities supporting their views on this question; but they had never once ventured to name any of those authorities, and he defied them to name them. His own belief was, that high military authorities had long been averse to this degrading punishment, and were of opinion that the discipline of the Army would suffer far more from the knowledge which soldiers would obtain of these discussions than it would gain from the retention of flogging. He had little doubt that on the ground of this being made a Party question the Motion of the noble Lord would be defeated, and that the Ministers, who not long ago were loud in their denunciation of flogging, would carry forward to a triumph the degradation which had been inflicted upon the British Army.


said, some credit was due to the hon. Member who had just addressed the House, because he had been a consistent opponent of flogging in the Army. He had no difficulty with that hon. Gentleman; but he had a difficulty to contend with in regard to the position taken up by the noble Lord the Member for the Radnor Boroughs and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich; because, while they both told the House that they had no electioneering dodges or Party purposes in view, they entirely omitted to inform the House as to what had induced them so suddenly to change their opinions. He confessed he could not account for the sudden, if not suspicious, change; and he was at such a loss to describe it that he must, therefore, coin an expression for the occasion. When a catastrophe occurred in a mine from some unknown cause, it was generally attributed to what was called "spontaneous combustion"—a term which he was totally unable to comprehend. He must, however, congratulate the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) on his great triumph. He said this question was an admirable electioneering cry, and a very good one too. Then the hon. and gallant Member for Renfrewshire (Colonel Mure) gave a most able and convincing speech in favour of corporal punishment, and that hon. and gallant Member belonged to the spontaneous combustion Party. Therefore, they had on one side of the Gangway the electioneering cry Party, and on the other the spontaneous combustion Party. He should certainly like to hear the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich; because he, of all other men, was in the best possible position, at a time when the Army was being tinkered from end to end, to terminate that which he now characterized as an evil. Instead, however, of doing this, the right hon. Gentleman year after year came down to the House and advocated the retention of flogging, and at the present moment—a most unfortunate one, as he ventured to think, for a question of the kind to be raised—he was engaged with the Leader of the Opposition in supporting a proposal which he might have made years ago in his position as First Minister of the Crown. References had been made in the course of the debate to the military authority; and he was in a position to say, from personal conversations with the highest military authorities, that they were of opinion that it was necessary for the best interests of the Army that the punishment should be retained. What had the so-called humanitarianism done for the Army? Last year, 1,811 men were discharged from the Army for disgraceful conduct, and he had it from the best military authority that the bulk, if not the whole, of those men were still serving in the ranks; and why? Because, whilst formerly soldiers discharged with ignominy were marked with "B.C," and could not, therefore, re-enter the Army, now there was no mark upon them by which they could be detected as bad characters on attempting to re-enlist. This fact was the more important, because under the short-service system there had been brought into the Army a parcel of boys, and they were contaminated and vitiated by being brought into close contact with habitual criminals of the deepest dye. With regard to desertions, formerly a deserter was marked with the letter "D;" the result of the abolition of that practice was that last year there were 5,416 desertions from the Army. To bring those bad characters to the ranks was to inflict upon the well-intentioned soldier a degradation which, compared with the lash, was perfectly absurd. Within the last few minutes there had been put into his hands a letter which stated that "the bearer of this is Simpson, of your old battalion." In 1856 he threatened to shoot his sergeant, and, having been tried and convicted of the offence, was flogged. He not only completed his then term of enlistment, but at its conclusion re-enlisted, and on his final discharge had gained five good conduct badges. He stated that from the day on which he was flogged he became a new man; and he was at that very moment in the Lobby, where any hon. Member might see him. He was earning an admirable livelihood as a civilian, and would tell hon. Members that he felt as little degraded as any hon. Member by the punishment he had undergone. Evidence could be produced to show that in many cases men in the Army had been completely reformed by the infliction of corporal punishment, and that since the adoption of the humanitarian principle to which he had referred crime in the Army had increased by 50 per cent. Notwithstanding this fact, it was said that if flogging was abolished the country would secure the services of a much superior class of soldier; but he did not think this would be the case, because men of the class could not be induced to enlist. He should like to know on what military authority and advice the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had determined to advocate the abolition of the lash. Curiously enough, both of them referred to young officers. Now, as it had been found that young soldiers were a failure, must it not be supposed that the advice of young officers was a failure too? For his own part, he would sooner seek advice from officers who had served with distinction, who had led their troops in circumstances of difficulty, and who had endeared themselves to their men. What was it that made the life of an English officer safe when he was in a barbarous country among his men? It was the fact that the men loved him and protected him, knowing that he was their real friend. We never heard of our officers being shot from behind by their own men, as was sometimes the case in foreign Armies. An English officer tried really to benefit the soldiers, and did not think he was serving them by taking up any claptrap cry that might be raised. With regard to some hon. Members opposite who made such a fuss in this matter, he would ask whether their names could be found among the lists of the supporters of those measures which had really benefited the Army and helped the soldier? It was only when a good Election cry was required, that we found this immense enthusiasm. He did not know the source from which the noble Lord had taken his inspiration; but it savoured a great deal more of the Old Bailey than of- the barrack-room. Just now he had mentioned an instance in which corporal punishment was proved to be a cure. On this point he would narrate an anecdote. An American found it was very cheap talk to condemn flogging, and he told his audience he would prove it. "My father," he said, "once flogged me very severely when I was telling the truth." "Wall, now," observed another American, at the end of the table, "I have knowed you since you've growed up, and it appears to me that your father has cured you." He was himself flogged when, at Eton, and he knew that it did him, as an Irishman would say, "a power of good." Did hon. Gentlemen think that a soldier considered himself degraded because he was flogged? The degradation was not in the punishment, but in the crime. It was very hard that officers, who were as high-minded and as high-principled as hon. Gentlemen opposite, should be disarmed of a weapon which they used as rarely as they could. Officers took the greatest pride in their regiments, and were lauded by the Horse Guards if they could get on without corporal punishment. There was not only the natural instinct of humanity, but the desire to stand well before the authorities in the Army and the public opinion at large, which constituted a proper and sufficient guarantee that this punishment would not be abused. He maintained that hon. Gentlemen opposite were taking a grave and serious responsibility at the very time when we were told that officers at the Cape had great difficulty in controlling their men, and when crime had been more rampant than usual. Those who had the power should remember that they had also the responsibility; and he trusted they would calmly consider before, either by way of spontaneous combustion, or for an electioneering cry, they took away that which the best authorities in the Army and the most experienced military men said was a power which they wished rarely to use, which was distasteful to them to use, but which they must use on occasions of rare necessity.


said, with reference to the case of Simpson, which was quoted by the last speaker, that a general officer once told him a similar story of a man who accosted him in the Park, remarking, "I was with you at Gibraltar; you flogged me four times and dismissed me with ignominy from the Army, but I have always had a great respect for you." In this instance the ex-gunner got half-a-crown, and was, no doubt, well pleased with the transaction; but he did not think cases of this kind afforded a good reason for flogging the men. The hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir Charles Russell) made a reference to some observations made by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) the other night, and stated that the hon. Gentleman had adopted the course of opposing the continuance of flogging simply for electioneering purposes. He (Major Nolan) listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, and understood him to declare that he had not used this matter as an electioneering cry, because he had always been in favour of the abolition of corporal punishment; but that by the action of the Government it would be made an electioneering cry. But the greater part of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster was devoted to the whole general administration of our Army. He did not deal in any way satisfactorily with the question of flogging. No doubt, there were evils in enlisting men at too early an age, as he had before pointed out. That was a very important point for consideration; but' it did not touch the question they had now prominently before them. There were also many evils in the Army, such as had already been referred to; but he asserted that those evils would not be remedied by the use of the lash. How did the question stand at the present stage? In going through Committee the Bill had been changed in many respects, and in none more than in this matter of flogging. Nine-tenths of the bad cases would be abolished. He acknowledged that. As the Bill was drawn, and with the Amendments of the Secretary of State for War, a man could be flogged only for the most serious crimes. But, having done so much, what was the use of retaining the punishment for a few isolated cases? In fact, there were only two cases in the Schedule for which flogging would be useful. One was sleeping on one's post. They would have to shoot a man for that if they abolished flogging. The only other case was that of gross and wilful insubordination. On the other hand, what did they lose by retaining flogging? They put the soldiers of Great Britain and Ireland in a lower position than the soldiers of any European country or the United States; and they could not put a soldier in a lower position, without injuring his morale in the field. Hon. Gentlemen said that the punishment was not felt as a degradation. But it was brought home to a man as a degradation in every way, through debates in Parliament, through the newspapers, in the theatres of garrison towns, where references to flogging used to be very common—much more so than they were now. It would be brought home to a man in his native village, where he would be told that he should be flogged. In that way it injured recruiting. It was asked, "How will you remedy many petty acts of indiscipline without flogging? "But this Bill did not profess to deal with such acts, but only with the graver offences. As far as he had seen, flogging was resorted to very much to correct our own faults of administration. They flogged a dog, and as long as they flogged soldiers the latter would think they were treated as dogs. In foreign Armies it was the custom to brigade not merely battalions, but brigades and divisions in time of peace; and, consequently, when a man went into the field he found himself exactly in' the same circumstances in time of war as he had been in time of peace. As a general rule men were flogged, not for disobedience to their own officers, but for disobedience to other officers into contact with whom they were occasionally thrown. Now that men were getting more civilized they resented being flogged, which they looked upon as a class distinction. And they were right. On previous occasions there was a question whether other Armies flogged or not. He drew the attention of the Secretary of State for War to the matter, and reminded him that he had got means of information which were not open to private Members; he could apply to the Military Attachés abroad, and let the House know what were the facts. But the right hon. and gallant Gentleman did not accept the challenge. The time had gone by for flogging, and its continuance would weaken instead of strengthen the Army.


trusted it would not be considered unduly intrusive on his part if he ventured to offer a few observations on this occasion. The question which was raised by the Amendment of his noble Friend was exceedingly simple; it was this. Was flogging a necessity or not for the maintenance of discipline in the Army in the field? The noble Lord told them that was a matter on which they must be guided by the highest authorities. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich also expressed the opinion that these authorities were of the widest character. What were those authorities, and what had they said on the subject? First, they had the opinion of his right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State for War, who spoke not only from his own practical military experience, and with the full responsibility of the position he occupied, but with all the advantages he derived from intimate and frequent communication with men of the highest military experience, and a full knowledge of their views on the subject. What had he told them only two nights ago? He expressed it as his deliberate opinion that the Government were absolutely compelled to retain corporal punishment for the Army in the field. That was the opinion of the Secretary of State for War—it was also the opinion of the present Administration. What was the opinion of their Predecessors in Office? He had referred to some previous discussions on the question of flogging, while his noble Friend the noble Marquess was in charge of the same Department. He found in 1864 a discussion in which his noble Friend spoke and voted on the question of flogging. On that occasion, he both spoke and voted against the abolition of flogging, and was followed into the Lobby by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. In 1865, again, the noble Marquess voted against the abolition of flogging. Again, in 1866, the question of flogging in the Army was discussed, when he found his noble Friend voted against its abolition, and was followed into the Lobby by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. Again, in 1867, the abolition of flogging in time of peace was proposed, and on that occasion his noble Friend and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, being no longer in Office, did not find it convenient to attend in their place. From that day to this they had not been called on to express any opinion on the question. He came next to the opinion of the military authorities. They were told to-night by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich that all the younger officers in the Army were opposed to flogging. That was not his experience. So far as he was able to gather the opinions of officers, either young or old, they appeared almost unanimous that flogging was necessary for the maintenance of discipline. But even supposing the right hon. Gentleman was right, he placed the opinions of the young and inexperienced officers of the Army against those of the old and experienced. He had stated the views entertained on this subject by the late Administration, by the present Administration, and the great military authorities of the country; but that was not all. They had the advantage of knowing what were the opinions on this subject of those who sat on the Front Opposition Bench. The whole principle of flogging was raised on the 20th of May on an Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), when 239 Members voted for retaining flogging, and 56 against it. On that occasion the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) voted in the majority. That was not all, for he found that on June 17, 1879, the hon. and learned Member for Oxford expressed an opinion on the question, and said—"For his own part, he had come to the conclusion that flogging could not be dispensed with, on active service." Here, then, was a mass of concurrent opinion on the part of all the military authorities of the country, on the part of the late Administration, and on the part of the existing Administration, and on the part of the Leaders on the Front Opposition Bench in favour of the retention of flogging; and he had heard nothing during this discussion to account in the slightest degree for the extraordinary change of opinion which had taken place. What were the arguments which had been used, and who were the real Leaders of this opposition? The real Leader of the whole movement now had been the hon. and learned Member for Stockport, and the time had come for him to take a more prominent position than he occupied in his modest retirement below the Gangway. He had been followed by the junior Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), and both "were respectable Members of that Assembly. He was not, however, aware that either possessed any special knowledge or experience on the question which would entitle their views to peculiar weight. Arguments they had never condescended to address to the House. The hon. and learned Member for Stockport had said he objected to flogging because it was brutal and beastly; and the hon. Member for Birmingham was scarcely less happy, for he described it as barbarous, disgraceful, and degrading to those who were flogged. [Cheers.] As hon. Gentlemen cheered, he supposed their civilization was a good deal more advanced than his own. Had these hon. Gentlemen ever heard of Eton and Harrow and of the birch-rod? When they talked of flogging as disgraceful to those who received it, they forgot that their remarks applied to probably three-fourths of the Members on both sides of the House. These were the views of the real Leaders of the opposition on this subject; and what were those of the nominal Leaders on the front Opposition Bench? He heard with surprise and the deepest regret the speech of the noble Marquess on Tuesday night. The sole reason he was able to advance in support of the extraordinary change of opinion on his part was that he had doubts in his own mind as to the views or convictions of Her Majesty's Government about the means of maintaining discipline in the Army without corporal punishment. That was the sole reason which was advanced by the noble Lord; and now that ground was completely cut from under him, because the Secretary of State for War had stated two or three times in the most clear and explicit manner that the opinion of Her Majesty's Government was that the retention of corporal punishment was absolutely necessary. That was his noble Friend's position on Tuesday night last; he was prepared to propose a Preamble by which he declared flogging must be abolished, and, at the same time, he was ready to accept a Schedule and clause by which, without the least alteration, flogging was nevertheless to be maintained. That was the position of the noble Lord up to Tuesday night last, and they were entitled to ask that night for some more distinct explanation than any they had had of this further and additional change on his part, by which he proposed to abolish flogging in the Army altogether. He desired to refrain from making any charge against one on the other side of the House. All he asked was that right hon. Members should give some distinct explanation of the change in opinion on their parts. If they did so, they would be acquitted entirely of any evil intention whatever; if they did not, in the absence of the slightest explanation, the only possible conclusion, so far as they were concerned, would be that the discipline and efficiency of the Army and the welfare of the nation might go to the dogs so long as they were able to manufacture a cry which they thought would be a fitting and a suitable cry for the hustings. The position taken up on this question was inconsistent and illogical. They had before them a Schedule containing a long list of offences to which the penalty of death had been already attached, with the consent, certainly with the silence and implied approval, of hon. Gentlemen opposite. [" No ! "] But now the Government had come forward with a proposal that the penalty of flogging was also to be attached to that list of offences, not, as he understood, as an addition, but, generally speaking, as a substitute and an alternative for the extreme penalty of death. That seemed to him to be a most natural and a most humane proposition; but hon. Gentlemen opposite said—"No, nothing of the kind; "and they spoke only in the name of humanity. Flogging, they said, must be abolished, but the penalty of death should be retained. Humanity was one of the highest and noblest qualities of human nature; humanity, when it was true, when it was not used as a cloak for a purpose which must not be admitted, was a virtue beyond all price. But what did they hear that night? That we must have discipline by death for our gallant soldiers, for our fellow-countrymen serving their country. Discipline by death was the measure of the mock humanity of the hon. Members for Birmingham and Stockport. He could not help thinking there must be reasons other than those which had been avowed for this extraordinary change in the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Could it be found in the differences which were exhibited a few nights ago in the happy family on the other side of the House? The Leadership of the noble Lord was openly repudiated, and on a point of Order only; but what might he have expected if he had asserted his opinion on a question of principle in which flogging was involved? Flogging, evidently, was intended to tell upon the Elections; the hon. Member who had rebuffed his Leader went down to Birmingham—the home of the Caucus—for the natural purpose of looking after it; and now it turned out that he had set to work all his wires and all the resources of this American organization to agitate this question. It could not be said that he had been happy in the selection of a cry with which to go to the country, for what he said in effect was—" I will take care of our soldiers; I will not have them flogged, but I will have them shot." "The bullet for the Army ! "was the cry with which the junior Member for Birmingham had decided to go to the country. "The bullet for the Army and the caucus for the country" was a cry which had indeed an American flavour about it with a vengeance, and he heartily wished the hon. Member joy of its reception at the hands of the people. He noble Friend had gained a high and well-earned reputation, for his task—the Leadership of the present Opposition—was indeed a delicate and a difficult one; but he trusted his noble Friend would forgive him if he told him the opinion which was widely prevalent that day, that in all his life he never played so bad a card as that which he had thrown upon the Table of the House that night, and that this manœuvre, so transparent and so clumsy—which had not even the merit of being clever, although, in the opinion of some people, possibly it might be unscrupulous—would recoil, he might be certain, with nothing but ridicule upon its authors; even if, indeed, for himself and for his Party, it did not end in disaster and disgrace.


Sir, I shall not offer the same apology for intruding upon the attention of the House as that with which the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) prefaced his speech, when he said he had taken no part in the discussion upon this Bill. I am afraid I cannot say the same; but, perhaps, not because I have taken part in the discussion upon the Bill, I should wish to say a few words upon the subject of the vote which I am about to give. I confess that the denunciations I have just heard from the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire, as to the Party motives by which I and others who sit around me are actuated, fall very lightly upon me. Hon. Gentlemen, no doubt, are of opinion that throughout the whole of the discussion upon this Bill the course which I and others have taken has been governed by a desire to embarrass Her Majesty's Government. I should be perfectly prepared for those who hold that language; because I have frequently felt during the last week, whilst my noble Friend was doing all he could to support them, and fight their battle, that the leading Members of the Cabinet were denouncing him-out-of-doors. We do not look for gratitude in politics; we do not expect it; and we do not wish for it. We take the course we think proper, and from the situation which we ourselves occupy; and the course which, for my own part, I have thought it proper to take, has been to give all the loyal assistance in my power to the progress of this Bill, not only in this House, but out of this House, and to help the Government in such alterations as they might think fit to make in this measure, in order that those alterations might be made in the easiest and most effectual manner. It is very easy upon a Bill of this kind for an Opposition, wanting to embarrass the Government, to place them, over and over again, in a humiliating position. But we have not taken that course. Therefore, the denunciations of the character uttered by the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire, and the tone of acrimony which I think, alone from the opposite Bench, has been introduced into this debate by the noble Lord the President of the Board of Trade (Viscount Sandon) are somewhat misplaced. The noble Lord thought fit to say of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) that he had made wanton statements in this House. Well, Sir, if the hon. Member made wanton statements with reference to the punishment by death in foreign Armies, it was perfectly within the competence of the Government, with their means of information, to have ascertained what has been the effect upon any foreign Army of the abolition of flogging with respect to the increase of punishment by death. But the Government have produced to the House no information of that character; and, therefore, I venture to say that the noble Lord the President of the Board of Trade is not entitled to treat as wanton the statements made by the hon. Member for Sheffield. This subject is, confessedly, very difficult and embarrassing; and the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire, as well as others, ask why Members of former Administrations who are now disposed to support the abolition of corporal punishment did not take that course before? The first observation which I have to make is, that it is the act of the present Government which has brought the whole of our military law under review. Mutiny Act after Mutiny Act has hitherto passed unobserved and un discussed; but it was the decision of the present Government that the whole of this subject should undergo revision, and, therefore, it was necessary that it should be carefully examined. I am bound to take some blame to myself, so far as I had anything to do with the Committee upstairs; for I was a party, with a large majority, to discourage and reject a Motion on the part of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms) for taking evidence upon, and inquiring into, the subject of corporal punishment. I see now, what I did not see at the time, that it was a mistake not to do so, because I think the information obtained would have been useful when the subject—as was certain to be the case—came to be examined in this House. The question was brought up in May last, and I supported entirely the view of the Government at that time. I voted with them, and I spoke on their side, as the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire has said. The matter came on, and was largely discussed. It then began to be seen, by both sides of the House, that the existing state of things could not be supported. I say both sides of the House, because the concessions which were made by the Government, and which I took part in urging upon them, were accepted by both sides of the House, and this showed that former opinions had been changed by discussion and by the further light which had been cast upon the subject. Now, that was a very important circumstance. The noble Lord the President of the Board of Trade entirely misinterpreted the language of my noble Friend the Leader of the Opposition, when he said—" But you say if the Government had not made these concessions you would have supported them all through." That is not what my noble Friend said at all. He pointed out the fact that, from the moment at which it was admitted that the former view, which the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire has referred to this evening as being taken up by the previous Administration, could not be sustained, the whole aspect of the question had changed. That is quite obvious. The hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire quoted from a speech delivered by my noble Friend in 1864; but he knows very well that at that time the Government opposed doing away with corporal punishment in time of peace. The punishment, however, was done away with in time of peace, in spite of the Government and the military authorities; and does any man say that evil has come from this? What was the first thing which happened during the progress of this discussion? A great change was made. A Schedule was promised, which was, in effect, to reduce very largely the number of offences to which corporal punishment was applicable, and the magnitude of the punishment was also reduced. That showed that the Government and the military authorities were not sure of their ground. I do not blame them for taking that course; but when they agreed largely to diminish the number of offences and lashes it showed that the information upon which they had hitherto acted was insufficient. These concessions being made, what happened next? For my own part, I was willing and ready to support the Government in the concessions which they then made, and in the position which they then took up. But were the Government satisfied with the appearance which the question had assumed? From circumstances over which I had no control, I was unable to be present in this House on Saturday week, and I can, therefore, only speak from the information which I have received through the ordinary channels; but upon that Saturday the Government, who had days before promised a Schedule, and a reduction in the number of lashes, came forward and stated that the question was about to assume a new aspect. Without going into the question of what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War said, or was supposed to have said, I may mention that this has been variously interpreted; and that the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) and the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), although they may have been mistaken, both understood him, practically speaking, to give a promise that flogging should be abolished. Again, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) said that, for his own part, he felt satisfied that the Government did mean to give way upon this question; and now I see that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), who acts as a sort of Guardian Angel to Her Majesty's Government, and who sometimes chides and chastises the children whom he loves, said that he had listened attentively to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, and that there had been an impression conveyed to Members on that side of the House that the Government did intend to give way. Therefore, if any hon. Members were misled, apparently one of them was my hon. and gallant Friend, who said— "He was therefore going to put a question plainly and directly to the Government, because they had no right to keep hon. Members in that position. … They had a right to ask whether it was the intention of the Government to give way, because, if that were the case, Ministers ought not to call upon them to make statements, if at the end the whole question was to be sacrificed, and that it was to go forth at the last that the Government were in the wrong, and that the few Members who opposed them were in the right."—[3 Hansard, ccxlvii. 1571.] It was impossible to make a more direct appeal to the Government than that made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. If the Government had made up their minds that concession had gone to its utmost limits, and that when they had promised the Schedule and a reduction of the number of lashes they could do no more; when they were told by the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex that the impression had been conveyed to many people, and apparently to him, that the Government were about to give way upon the subject of flogging altogether; when they were called upon distinctly to say whether it was their intention to give way, what was the natural course that one would have expected them to take? Why, that they would have said at once—" This is entirely a mistake; we have no intention at all of giving up flogging; we have our Schedule under consideration, and we shall place it before the House." That would have been a very simple statement to make; but the very next speaker who rose was the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, who said that—"The Government had taken a course known to the House previously, and that they were now prepared to re-consider the whole question." What was the meaning of that statement? It is important to know this, because the statement was made in answer to the appeal of the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex. Now, the right hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to-night to tell us what that statement meant, and why it was necessary, after all those concessions had been made days before, to state that the Government was prepared to re-consider the whole question, and whether they meant to do anything more than they had previously announced. These are points upon which I think the House has a right to have some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. But that is not all. I do not ask whether there has been any decision of the Cabinet to do away with flogging. But I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who is always frank with the House, whether he will tell us that he never entertained any other opinion upon this subject? We have been told a great deal as to the opinion of military authorities. But although we have heard the opinion of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), there is another hon. Member for that county (Colonel Loyd Lindsay), who is a military man of great experience and distinction, and besides a Member of the Government, but whose opinion has never been pronounced in this House upon the question of corporal punishment. Now, that being the state with regard to information in which the Government left the House on Saturday week, my noble Friend the Leader of the Opposition has challenged a denial from the Government, which challenge has never been met, as to the nature of the pressure which was put upon them while they were re-considering their opinion upon this subject. I do not say that their decision had then been taken; but I do say, while they were considering, unless report is more than usually false, that there was a very strong attempt on the part, if I may follow the phrase used to-night by the Secretary of State for War, "of an active section" of their Party to induce them to give up flogging. I again ask for a distinct denial as to whether that is the fact or not? The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for West Sussex can, no doubt, throw some light upon this point, and if he will get up and say there was no attempt, when the Government were re-considering their opinion, to induce them to give up the punishment of flogging, of course I shall consider his statement conclusive and satisfactory. But there is another fact which has not been denied, and which has to be explained. What was the meaning of the Party meeting of the Conservatives on Monday? The hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire must know that there are Caucuses elsewhere than in Birmingham. There are Caucuses in the Foreign Office and elsewhere. The meeting presided over by the Leader of the Government was held—the right hon. Gentleman will contradict me if I am wrong—upon the subject of flogging in the Army. Why was there to be a Party meeting upon this subject. The Government, as they were told now, had made all their concessions days before. They had made the statement which they intended to go forth to the country. On Saturday they said that the whole sub- ject was under re-consideration, and then something happens which makes it necessary to have a Party meeting on Monday. Sir, I think that before we have charges made against us of settling this question upon considerations of Party, we are entitled to have some explanation with regard to that meeting. Of course, there are hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on both sides of the House, and pressure may be put upon Governments as well as upon Oppositions. I remind the hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire that our desire is to know whether the decision at which the Government arrived was founded upon the opinion of the military authorities, or whether it was influenced by the pressure of Party politics?—for, although we may be bound to attach weight, and to pay attention to the opinion and determination of the Government, formed independently and upon their own responsibility and that of their military advisers, I do not know that we can be called upon to pay any attention or any respect whatever to a decision influenced by Party meetings at the Foreign Office. It is this which, in my opinion, has totally changed the situation with regard to this matter. The Government began, first of all, by introducing the punishment of flogging into this Bill exactly as it stood before; they then, under the influence of debate, seeing that great modifications could be made in it, proceeded in the path of those modifications up to certain concessions; but why, having made those concessions, they had again to re-consider the whole question, I know not. But what we had a right to expect, and what the country had a right to expect, was that the Government should be allowed to come to a conclusion upon this matter uninfluenced by Party pressure, and that is what my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) meant, as I understood him, when he said that the Government had weakened the authority upon which their necessity for the punishment of flogging rests. The noble Lord the President of the Board of Trade completely misunderstood the remarks of my right hon. Friend, when he said that he had asked "What authority is it that you are alleging in favour of this punishment?" My right hon. Friend never said anything of the kind. What he did say was that—"This punishment can only rest upon the strongest authority, and in the conviction of the House, and in the conviction of the country, by the course which you have taken in the progress of this discussion, you have undermined that authority, because you have shown from the first that you were of opinion that it did not rest upon any solid basis." You change from point to point; you exhibit what my hon. Friend called the most lamentable ignorance with reference to the administration of this punishment. The error which existed as to the "cat" is a very material point and tended to the undermining of corporal punishment, because it is a very important thing to know that it is not administered with unnecessary severity. The late First Lord of the Admiralty, having given a pledge to this House that there should be a pattern "cat" kept at the Admiralty, when it turned out that nobody knew where that pattern cat was, all the confidence that rested upon that pledge was very gravely shaken. All these things have gone far to shake the authority upon which this matter rests. Thus, the Secretary of State says—"After this you propose an Amendment fatal to the Bill." What can he mean by that statement? Does it mean that if the majority of the House of Commons declares against flogging, this Government or any other Government would carry on flogging in the Army? Does he mean that the Government would go on without any Bill of this kind at all? The only result of carrying this Resolution would be that corporal punishment would be struck out of the Bill. The hon. Member for Mid-Lincolnshire thinks it is a great thing to say that it is a question between the bullet and the lash. You are all for shooting the soldier. What sense was there in making that assertion, after the alternative offered by my noble Friend, who has offered you the lash as a substitute for the bullet, which you refused? He said, in every case where you shoot you may flog, and you refused it. ["No !"] What is the use of saying "No !" when everybody knows it is the fact? He offered a clause which distinctly declared that flogging should be accepted as a substitute for shooting. If the hon. Member who said "No" did not accept it, the Government, who are much more important, refused to accept flogging as a substitute for shooting, and that meant that they demanded that there should be flogging where there was no shooting. The House and the country will understand it, and it is, therefore, of no use making a statement to the contrary. The hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) has to-night fallen into a most extraordinary error. The hon. Member has read to the House a Memorandum of offences, and he was cheered when he said that these are offences for which men must be shot. Everybody knows that that is not the fact. They may be shot for them; but that is a very different thing. What, then, becomes of his point, and the cheers with which it was received, of the officer saying to the man—" My dear fellow, I should like to punish you in some other manner, but I must shoot you? "But, then, there is the case of foreign Armies. We are told that this is the only country which has to deal with barbarous tribes, and that, therefore, we must flog. Are we the only country who has to deal with barbarous tribes? I think France had something to do with barbarous tribes in Algiers; but the French Army has no flogging. Then, there is what is called the most aggressive Army in the world, marching about in Central Asia. The tribes in Khiva and Merv, I think, are pretty barbarous; and yet, according to my information, the Russian Army does not flog. Sir, I say most distinctly that hon. Gentlemen opposite must judge of my conduct with regard to this Bill as they please. I do not regard it as a Party question; but allow me to say that I do regard it as not only a military question, but as a political question, and, as a political question, I have to ask myself with reference to corporal punishment, can it be sustained? and that is what I mean by its being a political question. I do not at all profess to have altered my opinions as to the difficulties of dispensing with this punishment. I feel those difficulties just as strongly now as I did before; but I ask, can you sustain this punishment against the weight of opinion which exists in this House and in the country? Every man must form his own opinions on that subject as best he may; but I think hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree that if this punishment cannot be permanently maintained it is one about which it is not worth while to make a protracted struggle, and that it can only be mischievous to every- body concerned in the matter that it should be the subject of repeated debates in this and future Sessions. I do not think that the Secretary of State for War will believe I take him, at all events, by surprise, when I say that for many weeks I have been of opinion that this punishment could not be permanently maintained. I was extremely unwilling to press the Government, or to place them in a false position with relation to the subject. It has long been my opinion, and I have never concealed it, that this punishment can never be maintained. In that case, is it wise that the contest should be continued with reference to it? There are many subjects on which political Parties on both sides of the House have seen fit to change opinions long cherished and long maintained. That took place with reference to the Catholic Claims, to Free Trade, and to Household Suffrage. Why was it that the Party opposite changed their opinion on these matters? It was because the political situation and the opinion of the country made it absolutely necessary that such change should take place. I do not believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite who supported the Catholic Claims, Free Trade, and Household Suffrage did so because they were any more enamoured of them than they were before their opinion concerning them was changed; but all Parties alike, on whichever side they may sit, must consider questions of this kind with reference to the opinion of the country. Sir, I have come to the conclusion that this question, having been thrown by an act of the Government into the crucible of debate—for it was their act to bring this Bill for military discipline under the revision of the House—has made it necessary that we should come to a final decision with regard to it. The more I have listened to these discussions the more I have become convinced that this punishment can no longer be ultimately and permanently maintained, and it is for that reason I shall give my vote in favour of the Motion of my noble Friend.


Sir, I have waited with some curiosity to hear the speech which we might have expected from the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, because he has occupied a very peculiar position with reference to this measure. I think it is due from the Government and from the House that we should take the earliest opportunity of tendering to the hon. and learned Gentleman our thanks for the loyal assistance which he has given to the Government and to the House in the conduct of this Bill. He took a very useful and active part in the discussion in Committee upstairs, over which, I think, he presided, and which was to a great extent the parent of this Bill; and since the Bill was introduced in the form decided upon by Her Majesty's Government, the hon. and learned Gentleman has throughout the whole of the discussions which have taken place with regard to it given an intelligent and discriminating, but most valuable, support to the Government in the conduct of the measure. I think everybody must admit that this Bill, which has been under discussion for the greater part of this Session, which has been before us in Committee no less than 21 times, has at the end of the Session come out a very considerable and important measure. Everybody must admit that during the discussions upon this measure we have had many and fair opportunities for the consideration of great principles such as this of corporal punishment. Everybody must feel that the matter has been brought forward fully, repeatedly, and I might almost say pertinaciously, by hon. Members who took an interest in it. And over and over again the principles, the details, and their application, have been considered, discussed, and decided upon by large majorities in the House; and the Government throughout these discussions have, I think, shown themselves ready to entertain in the fairest and most candid spirit the observations and the arguments which have been addressed to them from different parts of the House. We have endeavoured in the most sincere manner to bring about a settlement which might be of a fair, of a durable, and generally acceptable character. But we have felt that it has been a sad necessity in the conduct of military discipline that we should, from time to time, have recourse to severe repressive punishments. We have felt, and it has been the firm belief which our Predecessors have always entertained, that, however disagreeable that necessity might be, it was one which it was im- possible to escape from if discipline and the credit of the Army was to be maintained. I say nothing about other countries. Other countries have their systems, which differ from ours in a great many respects, such as have been pointed out. We have our system and our own difficulties, and we have to consider in what manner we have to meet those difficulties. It may be that in other countries there are punishments exactly equal to that of which we have heard so much. It may be that in those countries the situation and conditions of the Armies are different, and it may be that there are amongst them irregular forms of chastisement, which may, to a certain extent, supply in a very unsatisfactory way, I think, a regulated and legal system. We have been considering this question with reference to the circumstances of the British Army, with an earnest desire, while retaining that amount of punishment which is necessary for its discipline, to do away with the objectionable features of former times, which I take to be two—namely, excess in amount, and irregularity in application. Throughout these discussions we have endeavoured to come to some arrangements by which the punishment of flogging may be limited to the smallest effective amount, and by which, when it is administered, it may be given only under strict regulations and for well-defined offences. But after these have been so discussed, and after we have spent days and nights in the elaboration of this Bill, at the last moment, when there is not one single day to spare, when at the last moment this work has been brought to the last stage of completion, and when such important steps have been taken to put the Army on a better footing—at that moment comes forward the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition to put upon the Table of the House, to challenge the decision of the House, upon an Amendment which, whatever you may say as to its possible effect, is, at least, in form, a direct attack upon the Bill. We are told that the Bill will not be destroyed if corporal punishment be taken out of it, and I will not argue the point at present. That, however, is not the matter which we are called upon to decide. We are called upon to meet an Amendment of precisely that character which has over and over again been adopted by an Opposition when it has intended to destroy a measure or a Government. I need not remind hon. Members of old standing in this House of the many occasions on which, when the question was the second reading of some important Bill, a Resolution has been moved declaring that no Bill will be satisfactory which does not do something—this, that, or the other—and it has always been understood that such a Resolution is fatal to a Bill. Nobody can doubt that such a step taken by so important a Member of the House as the Leader of the Opposition is—one which necessarily challenges and excites very serious attention, and all the more so, when we find that it is apparently inconsistent with the views on which the noble Lord and his Colleagues have acted continuously, both in Office and in Opposition, for many years, and to which they have, until within a few weeks ago, given effect. If that is so, we are surprised, and look for some explanation. I must say that, after the explanation of the noble Lord, and after that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), I felt we were left most completely in the dark; but I did think that if we were to hear a speech from the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), then, at least, we might look for a clear and comprehensive statement of the grounds upon which this policy rested. I own I am fairly disappointed. We are treated to discursive observations upon the conduct of the Government in this matter, and upon the conduct of the Government in that matter. We are carried back to the days of Catholic Emancipation, and we have had discussions on Party and Party discipline, all of which are absolutely outside the point. Hon. Gentlemen think they have got some very effective point against the Government, and, under cover of that, propose a most extraordinary and most important Resolution. They say, in effect—"Now, then, if you think that the Government have behaved badly, pass our Resolution." This is very much like the manœuvres of a conjuror going to do a trick, and who, while preparing to take a handkerchief out of your pocket, calls your attention to something in another part of the room, and then takes the handkerchief when you do not perceive it. We can hardly perceive the particular trick that is about to be performed by the Motion which we are asked to agree to. We are told that this is not a measure dictated by Party motives. Of course, when we are told that, we are ready to accept the disclaimer; but in doing so we are, I must say, left more in the dark than ever, because, if it were dictated by Party motives, we could understand it, but if not, we must confess that we are at a loss to know to what it may be attributed. The noble Lord was very anxious, indeed, to clear himself from the suspicion that he had decided on moving his Resolution because of the disagreement between himself and his Friends and the rest of the Liberal Party. He said—"I will give you chronological proof that I was not animated by any Party motive of that kind; "and the proof was that he had come to the conclusion to do something in this matter because of the outbreak that took place in the Liberal Party. He tells us that he came to the conclusion to act in the matter on Saturday week, and that the outbreak in the Liberal Party did not occur till the Monday following. That may be; but I think it is news to many of us to hear that the Liberal Party were in such a very harmonious state, even up to Saturday week, and the chronological proof seems to me, after all, to be of no great force, for the decision of the noble Lord may be due to something of a desire to conciliate hon. Gentlemen. But what appears to me to be the most extraordinary part of these proceedings is that in the arguments by which the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich support the Resolution, they argue in favour of a course wholly different from that which they have laid before us. They say in their Resolution that they condemn the Bill because it provides for the permanent retention of corporal punishment for military offences; but they go on to tell us that what they are really proposing is, not to do away with corporal punishment altogether, but to offer an alternative for it. If they wished us to substitute corporal punishment for capital punishment, there is a good deal to be said for the change, and all the arguments they use are in that direction. But why in the world do they not come forward and make that proposition to us? Why, I would ask, do they not tell us in the Resolution, which they ask the House to adopt, what it is they really mean? Is it that they mean that corporal punishment is to be substituted for capital punishment—if so, we should know what the Resolution means. Or do they lay stress upon the permanent retention of the punishment? The fact is, that the Resolution has been so framed as to catch the greatest number of votes. By this means they have placed their supporters, especially their military authorities, in a most extraordinary position; for they get up, one after another, and argue very strongly as to the necessity of maintaining discipline and having punishments available, and they go on to say that it is almost impossible to keep order in the field without the power of inflicting corporal punishment, while they still announce it to be their intention to vote for this Amendment. The only reason I have heard given for that course is this—"You have reduced the number of lashes from 50 to 25; and, therefore, you have made the punishment worthless, and as you have made it worthless you may as well abolish flogging altogether." Well, I must say, I think we have a right to complain of that; because, when the proposal was made that the number of lashes should be reduced, we were assured that 25 would be quite adequate for all purposes of punishment. It was said by gentlemen of the highest authority that 25 lashes were quite sufficient for discipline, unless we wanted to inflict torture. Perhaps we are open to the charge that was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire (Mr. J. E. Yorke), in which he said—"You have brought all these misfortunes upon yourselves by being too ready to make concessions, and by being too willing to meet the House in the spirit in which you have done." We have been told that we have rendered the punishment worthless; and then we have these curious arguments. We are told—"It is true that in former years we always supported corporal punishment, and that until recently we were ready still to support the retention of corporal punishment; but we did so because we rested upon authority. Recently, however, you have destroyed our trust in authority, and we have had to look into the whole question for ourselves, and we have taken the step which we have done." But it does appear to me that the ques- tion naturally arises, why have you never considered this for yourselves before? It is all very well to speak of high military authority, and it is perfectly true that military authority must be respected, and must have great weight in the decision of this question. It is new, however, for me to suppose that the responsible Ministers of the Crown are not to examine questions of this sort for themselves, and are not, with the advice and assistance of the military authorities, whom they consult, to consider these questions, and to decide upon them and recommend them to Parliament in the way in which, after full consideration, they think it is right they should be recommended. But now we are told that it was in consequence of what was said in this House on Saturday week that the whole thing changed, and that a new situation was created. Why, what happened on Saturday week? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Oxford said—"I think that, previous to Saturday week, the Government had gone the full length of all that it was prepared to do, and had agreed to reduce the number of lashes to 25, and had promised that offences for which flogging was to be administered should be placed in a Schedule." "But," he said, "an end had been put to that state of affairs by the Government stating that it was going to consider the whole question." He said—" We fell from you because we thought you had entirely changed your position." But does the hon. and learned Gentleman think that because we promised to put those offences in a Schedule that was to be the "be all and end all" of the matter? Does he not know that it was only an adjournment of the difficulty connected with the settling of the Schedule? The hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well, if any man does, that the framing of that Schedule had been under the careful consideration of the Government, with the assistance of the military authorities, and he knows perfectly the difficulties that we found in attempting to enumerate the particular offences that were to be put in that Schedule. He was, unfortunately, unable to be present here on Saturday; but if he had been, he would have heard what was said by my right hon. and gallant Friend—namely, that he had found great difficulty in the construction of the Schedule, and that when he was prepared he would make a statement upon the whole subject of flogging, which he thought would be satisfactory to the House. That was the remark that was made by my right hon. and gallant Friend, and was perfectly consistent with what has been done since. We stated that we were prepared to re-consider the whole Schedule, and to place it upon an intelligible and firm basis, and we have done so by the adoption of the principle that only offences punishable by death shall be liable to the punishment of flogging. We are now told that by making that statement we misled the House. I am very sorry if we did mislead the House; but I do not believe we did. The noble Lord, speaking a little while ago, and referring to a speech made by a noble Friend of mine out of this House, said that it was remarkable that the criticisms of that noble Lord upon the conduct of the Opposition did not come from those who saw with their own eyes what the conduct of the Opposition was, but from one who only heard it from the outside. I would appeal from the testimony of those who did not see what took place on that occasion to the testimony of some who did. The noble Lord was not in his place at the time those statements were made; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) was in his place.


said, he heard the right hon. Gentleman.


I am speaking of a later period. At the time my right hon. Friend made his original statement, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford was in his place; and he immediately rose and declared that, for his part, he was prepared to advocate the total abolition of flogging. On the following Monday, when the question arose on the part of some hon. Members as to whether the statement which was made on Monday evening on behalf of the Government was in accordance with what was said on Saturday, or involved any breach of a promise on the part of the Government, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford said—"No, certainly, it did not involve any breach. The Government did not pledge themselves to this, and, as a proof of that, I was not satisfied with what they did say, though I hoped that they would end by deciding in favour of the abolition of flogging." I remember perfectly well how several hon. Gentlemen, on both sides of the House, complained of the statements made by my right hon. and gallant Friend and myself as being vague and unsatisfactory. The fact is, they tried to get from us what we were not prepared to say; they tried to get from us, when we said we were going to consider the subject, the result of what our consideration was going to be. Because we tried to answer the questions which were put to us, and which we were at perfect liberty to do, they said that our statements were very unsatisfactory, and rumours and reports were issued as to the meaning of those statements. I will say that a more extraordinary march of rumour I never witnessed in the whole course of my life than that which took place in the course of the afternoon. One felt that rumour was verifying the character given to her by Virgil, that she was rising from the ground, and marching with her head continually going higher and higher, and at last losing herself among the clouds. There were a great deal of very cloudy sentiments and curious reports going about at that time; but there really was no foundation for them at all. There was no justification whatever for them. Whether our language was or was not careful, there was no pledge given on the part of the Government—there was no pledge of any sort or kind given on the part of the Government beyond this, that we would consider the question, and make a statement. We did consider the question, and made a statement, and we redeemed our pledge; and I maintain that the conduct of the Government in the matter was that which it was our duty to pursue. It is all very well to say that we have not been guided by the opinion of military authorities in this matter. We decline to shelter ourselves behind the responsibility of anyone else. We did not take the view which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to think we should take—namely, that we can be dispensed from the duty of considering this question. But if it is any consolation to noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen opposite to know it, I may tell them that we were, in the consideration of the question, in constant communica- tion with the highest military authorities—with the proper military authorities, not with all the junior officers of the Army, who are now set up as the persons whom we ought to consult. We consulted those who are in a responsible position, and have to answer for the discipline of the Army; and it was after such consultation, and after being in perfect possession of their views, and upon our own responsibility and our own consideration, that Her Majesty's Government arrived at the decision which it afterwards announced to the House. We have been told that the course we took was one which had been pressed upon us by a Party meeting; but I do not think that it is necessary to answer that observation. We have been told that there are Caucuses existing here, and possibly that is so. At any rate, it is quite possible for the Liberal Party to meet without attracting much attention. But, so far as we are concerned, we are, unfortunately, obliged to occupy a large space in the public eye when we meet. If the noble Lord is of opinion that the decision arrived at and announced by the Government was not a decision freely taken by it, upon the result of its own convictions, or that it was a conviction forced upon it by any other consideration than its own idea, and what was right and proper for the Public Service, then I say that the noble Lord is entirely wrong. The question which the House has to consider, and from which it must not allow itself to be led astray by suggestions of Party recrimination, or by tales of Party meetings, or of anything else, is the Resolution proposed by the noble Lord. It is all very well to say that such a Resolution, if accepted, is not fatal to the Bill, for you know perfectly well that that is the effect of your Resolution. We say that the Resolution is brought forward under circumstances of pressure, and we say that the arguments which have been brought forward in support of it do not support the proposition involved in it. We say that the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) and of the hon. Member for Rochester (Mr. Otway) are perfectly consistent, and they were only right in supporting such a proposition as that involved in the Resolution. But the arguments of the noble Lord, and of hon. Gentlemen who sit behind him, are in favour of a wholly different proposition, which is not before us, and which has never been before us. This Resolution is, in fact, brought before us as a sort of stalking-horse to mask the retreat of the Opposition from a proposal which, if made at all, should have teen made the preamble of a proposal which nobody understood. At all events, the arguments had been arguments rather in support of that proposition than of the direct attack which has now been made. I call upon the House, if they value this Bill, and if they desire to see the great Code, which has been now, at so much labour, brought to its present shape—if they desire to see it carried into law—I hope they will support the Government and reject the Amendment.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 289; Noes 183: Majority 106.

Agnew, R. V. Buxton, Sir R. J.
Alexander, Colonel C. Cameron, D.
Allcroft, J. D. Campbell, C.
Allsopp. C. Campbell, Lord C.
Anstruther, Sir W. Cartwright, F.
Arbuthnot, Lt.-Col. G. Castlereagh, Viscount
Arkwright, A. P. Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.
Ashbury, J. L. Chaplin, Colonel E.
Assheton, B. Chaplin, H.
Astley, Sir J. D. Charley, W. T.
Bagge, Sir W. Christie, W. L.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Clive, Col. hon. G. W.
Balfour, A. J. Clowes, S. W.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Cole, Col. hon. H. A.
Barrington, Viscount Coope, O. E.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Cordes, T.
Bates, E. Corry, hon. H. W. L.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Corry, J. P.
Beach, W. W. B. Cotton, W. J. R.
Bective, Earl of Crichton, Viscount
Benett.Stanford, V. F. Cross, rt. hon. R. A.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Cubitt, G.
Beresford, Lord C. Cuninghame, Sir W.
Beresford, G. De la P. Cust, H. C.
Beresford, Colonel M. Dalkeith, Earl of
Birkbeck, E. Dalrymple, C.
Birley, H. Davenport, W. B.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Deedes, W.
Boord, T. W. Denison, C. B.
Bourke, hon. R. Denison, W. B.
Bourne, Colonel J. Denison, W. E.
Bousfield, Col. N. G. P. Digby, Col. hon. E.
Bowen, J. B. Douglas, Sir G.
Bowyer, Sir G. Dyott, Colonel R.
Brassey, H. A. Eaton, H. W.
Brise, Colonel E, Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.
Broadloy, W. H. H.
Brooks, W. C. Egerton, Sir P. G.
Brymer, W. E. Egerton, hon. W.
Bulwer, J. R. Elcho, Lord
Burghley, Lord Elliot, Sir G.
Burrell, Sir W. W. Elliot, G. W.
Elphinstone, Sir J.D.H. King-Harman, E. R.
Estcourt, G. S. Kingscote, Colonel
Ewart, W. Knight, F. W.
Fellowes, E. Knightley, Sir R.
Fielden, J. Knowles, T.
Finch, G. H. Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W.W. Lawrence, Sir T.
Learmonth, A.
Floyer, J. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Forester, C. T. W. Lee, Major V.
Forsyth, W. Legard, Sir C.
Foster, W. H. Legh, W. J.
Fremantle, hon. T. F. Leighton, Sir B.
Freshfield, C. K. Leighton, S.
Galway, Viscount Leslie, Sir J.
Gardner, J. T. Agg- Lewis, C. E.
Gardner, R. Richardson Lewis, O.
Lewisham, Viscount
Garnier, J. C. Lindsay, Colonel R. L.
Gathorne-Hardy, hn. S. Lindsay, Lord
Gibson, rt. hon. E. Lloyd, S.
Giffard, Sir H. S. Lloyd, T. E.
Giles, A. Lopes, Sir M.
Goddard, A. L. Lowther, hon. W.
Goldney, G. Lowther rt. hn. J.
Gordon, W. Macartney, J. W. E.
Gore-Langton, W. S. M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.
Gorst, J. E. Makins, Colonel
Grantham, W. Mandeville, Viscount
Greenall, Sir G. Manners, rt. hon. Lord J.
Gregory, G. B. March, Earl of
Hall, A. W. Marten, A. G.
Halsey, T. F. Master, T. W. C.
Hamilton, Lord C. J. Merewether, C. G.
Hamilton, I. T. Miles, Sir P. J. W.
Hamilton, rt. hn. Lord G. Mills, Sir C. H.
Monckton, F.
Hamilton, Marquess of Montgomerie, R.
Hamilton, hon. R. B. Montgomery, Sir G. G.
Hamond, C. F. Moore, S.
Hanbury, R. W. Moray, Col. H. D.
Harcourt, E. W. Morgan, hon. F.
Hardcastle, E. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Harvey, Sir R. B. Muncaster, Lord
Hay, rt. hn. Sir J.C. D. Naghten, Lt.-Col. A.R.
Heath, R. Newdegate, C. N.
Herbert, hon. S. Newport, Viscount
Hermon, E. Noel, rt. hon. G. J.
Hervey, Lord F. North, Colonel J. S.
Hick, J. Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S.H.
Hicks, E.
Hildyard, T. B. T. O'Gorman, P.
Hill, A. S. O'Neill, hon. E.
Hinchingbrook, Visc. Onslow, D.
Holford, J. P. G. Paget, R. H.
Holker, Sir J. Palk, Sir L.
Holland, Sir H. T. Parker, Lt.-Col. W.
Holmesdale, Viscount Peek, Sir H.
Holt, J. M. Pell, A.
Home, Captain D. M. Pemberton, E. L.
Hood, Capt. hn. A. W. A.N. Pennant, hon. G.
Percy, Earl
Hope, A. J. B. B. Phipps, P.
Hubbard, E. Plunket, hon. D. R.
Isaac, S. Plunkett, hon. R.
Johnson, J. G. Polhill-Turner, Capt. F
Johnstone, H. Praed, C. T.
Johnstone, Sir F. Praed, H. B.
Jolliffe, hon. S. Price, Captain G. E.
Jones, J. Puleston, J. H.
Kavanagh, A. Mac M. Raikes, H. C.
Kennard, Col. E. H. Repton, G. W.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Ripley, H. W. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Rodwell, B. B. H. Tollemache, hon. W.F.
Round, J. Torr, J.
Russell, Sir C. Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-
Ryder, G. R.
Salt, T. Tremayne, Lt.-Col. A.
Sandon, Viscount Tremayne, J.
Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G. Turnor, E.
Scott, Lord H. Verner, E. W.
Scott, M. D. Wait, W. K.
Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H.J. Walker, O. O.
Walker, T. E.
Severne, J. E. Wallace, Sir R.
Shirley, S. E. Walpole, rt. hon. S.
Shute, General C. C. Walsh, hon. A.
Sidebottom, T. H. Warburton, P. E.
Simonds, W. B. Watney, J.
Smith, A. Watson, rt. hon. W.
Smith, S. G. Welby-Gregory, Sir W.
Smith, rt. hon. W. H. Wellesley, Colonel H.
Smollett, P. B. Wethered, T. O.
Spinks, Serjeant F. L. Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Stanhope, hon. E. Wilmot, Sir H.
Stanhope, W. T. W. S. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Starkey, L. R. Wroughton, P.
Starkie, J. P. C. Wyndham, hon. P.
Steere, L. Wynn, C. W. W.
Sykes, C. Yarmouth, Earl of
Talbot, C. R. M. Yeaman, J.
Talbot, J. G. Yorke, J. R.
Tavistock, Marq. of
Taylor, rt. hn. Col. T.E. TELLERS.
Tennant, R. Dyke, Sir W. H.
Thornhill, T. Winn, R.
Thwaites, D.
Allen, W. S. Chamberlain, J.
Amory, Sir J. H. Chambers, Sir T.
Anderson, G. Cholmeley, Sir H.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Clarke, J. C.
Backhouse, E. Clifford, C. C.
Barclay, A. C. Collins, E.
Barclay, J. W. Colthurst, Colonel
Barran, J. Courtauld, G.
Bass, A. Courtney, L. H.
Bass, H. Cowan, J.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Cowen, J.
Beaumont, Colonel F. Davies, R.
Biggar, J. G. Dilke, Sir C. W.
Blake, T. Dillwyn, L. L.
Brassey, T. Dodds, J.
Briggs, W. E. Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.
Bright, Jacob Duff, M. E. G.
Bright, rt. hon. J. Earp, T.
Bristowe, S. B. Edwards, H.
Brocklehurst, W. C. Errington, G.
Brogden, A. Evans, T. W.
Brown, A. H. Fawcett, H.
Brown, J. C. Ferguson, R.
Browne, G. E. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Bruce, Lord C. Fletcher, W.
Burt, T. Forster, Sir C.
Callan, P. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Cameron, C. Fry, L.
Campbell, Sir G. Gabbett, D. F.
Campbell-Bannerman, H. Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E.
Gladstone, W. H.
Cave, T. Goldsmid, Sir J.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Gourley, E. T.
Chadwick, D. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Grant, A. O'Brien, Sir P.
Gray, E. D. O'Clery, K.
Grosvenor, Lord R. O'Conor Don, The
Hankey, T. O'Donnell, F. H.
Harcourt, Sir W. V. O'Donoghue, The
Harrison, C. O'Gorman Mahon, The
Harrison, J. F. O'Shaughnessy, R.
Hartington, Marq. of O'Sullivan, W. H.
Havelock, Sir H. Otway, A. J.
Henry, M. Palmer, C. M.
Hibbert, J. T. Palmer, G.
Hill, T. R. Parker, C. S.
Holms, J. Parnell, C. S.
Hopwood, C. H. Pender, J.
Howard, G. J. Pennington, F.
Hughes, W. B. Perkins, Sir F.
Hutchinson, J. D. Philips, R. N.
Ingram, W. J. Playfair, rt. hon. L.
Jackson, Sir H. M. Potter, T. B.
James, Sir H. Powell, W.
Jenkins, D. J. Power, J. O'C.
Jenkins, E. Price, W. E.
Johnstone, Sir H. Ralli, P.
Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir U. Ramsay, J.
Rathbone, W.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, rt. hon. E. Reed, E. J.
Richard, H.
Laing, S. Roberts, J.
Lawson, Sir W. Russell, Lord A.
Leatham, E. A. Rylands, P.
Leeman, G. Samuda, J. D'A.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Samuelson, B.
Leith, J. F. Samuelson, H.
Lloyd, M. Shaw, W.
Lubbock, Sir J. Sheil, E.
Lusk, Sir A. Sheridan, H. B.
M'Carthy, J. Simon, Serjeant J.
Macdonald, A. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Macduff, Viscount Smith, E.
Mackintosh, C. F. Stewart, J.
M'Arthur, A. Stuart, Col. J. F. D. C.
M'Arthur, W. Sullivan, A. M.
M'Clure, Sir T. Swanston, A.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Tennant, C.
M'Lagan, P. Torrens, W. T. M'C.
M'Laren, D. Trevelyan, G. O.
Maitland, J. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Maitland, W. F. Waterlow, Sir S. H.
Marling, S. S. Wedderburn, Sir D.
Massey, rt. hon. W. N. Whitbread, S.
Middleton, Sir A. E. Whitwell, J.
Milbank, F. A. Williams, B. T.
Monk, C. J. Williams, W.
Morgan, G. O. Wilson, C.
Morley, S. Wilson, I.
Mundella, A. J. Wilson, Sir M.
Mure, Colonel W. Young, A. W.
Murphy, N. D.
Nolan, Major J. P. Adam, rt. hn. W. P.
O'Beirne, Major F. Kensington, Lord

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered.

Amendment proposed, In page 2, line 19, after the word "enemy," to insert the words "in such manner as to show cowardice."—(Colonel Stanley.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


that he had an Amendment to move on Clause 3.


I must point out to the hon. Member that I have already put a Question on Clause 4.


It was quite impossible to hear you, Sir, put the Question. [" Order, order!"]


I must point out to the hon. Member that I have already put the Question on Clause 4, "That these words be here inserted," and it is impossible, as the hon. Member knows, for the House to go back upon former clauses.


moved the adjournment of the debate. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was good enough to say that he would give an opportunity, in case of the debate on flogging continuing to a late hour in the evening, to proceed with the other Amendments.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Parnell.)


said, the request was quite reasonable, and perfectly in accordance with the understanding. He would not press the House to go on then; but he Sid hope at the Morning Sitting of the next day they would be able to get through.

Motion agreed to.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow, at Two of the clock.