§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
§ MR. CHILDERS
explained that when this Bill was in Committee on Thursday last, a very long discussion took place upon the 4th clause, which provided that the summary punishment to be substituted for flogging should be regulated by rules made from time to time by one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State. He then promised to introduce words into the clause which should limit in a general way the character of the summary punishments to be inflicted. 651 In fulfilment of that promise, he proposed to insert words in the Bill which should limit the summary punishments of personal restraint or hard labour, retaining the other provisos.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration."—(Mr. Childers.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill, as amended, considered.
§ Clause 1 (Short title).
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON moved to amend Clause 1, by inserting in line 25, before the word "Act," the word "Amendment," and for the reason that the Act was an Act which amended other Acts relative to the discipline of the Army, and consequently required the word "Amendment" to make the Act intelligible.
In page 2, line 25, after the word "annual," to insert the words "and amendment."—(Sir Alexander Gordon.)
§ MR. CHILDERS
thought it would be unwise to in any way depart in this respect from the lines of the old Mutiny Act, which, like the present Bill, was always an annual measure.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ Clause 3 (Prices in respect of billeting. 42 & 43 Vict. c. 33).
§ GENERAL BURNABY
said, that on the second reading of the Bill he had called attention to the inadequate remuneration allowed to innkeepers and others for the accommodation of soldiers on the march. The Schedule to the 3rd clause was to the effect that there should be paid to the keeper of a victualling house for the accommodation afforded by him, in pursuance of the Army Discipline Regulation Act of 1879, the prices specified. Now, what were the prices? Lodging and attendance for a soldier 2½d., and with the use of a fire 1½d., making 4d. per day—a sum that was perfectly ridiculous. A hot meal was to be supplied 652 for 13½d. How would anybody like to supply at that price 1¼ lb. of meat, 1 lb. of bread, 1 lb. of potatoes or other vegetables, and 2 pints of small beer, vinegar, pepper, salt, &c., for that amount? He also thought no publican could afford to supply 101bs. of oats, 12 lbs. of hay and 8 lbs. of straw, for 1s. 9d.; and, therefore, he would suggest that the allowance should be 2s. Again, officers' lodging and attendance were put down at 2s. a-night. That, again, was too little, and he would suggest it should be 3s. 6d. He could not move the insertion of higher figures; but, in order to have these charges more equitably settled, he would move the omission of Clause 3 and the Schedule connected with it.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out Clause 3.—(General Burnaby.)
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 3 stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. CHILDERS
could not accept the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member. There was no Notice on the Paper, and the hon. and gallant Member had the whole of Thursday and Friday to give Notice if he had wished. If due Notice had been given, he (Mr. Childers) might have defended each of the items which had been criticized. He would, however, remind the House that the whole subject was fully discussed a few years ago, when the rates of allowance now in existence, and which were far in excess, in some cases, of the former rates, were decided upon. He must, therefore, ask the House to allow Clause 3 to remain part of the Bill.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 164; Noes 47: Majority 117.—(Div. List, No. 178.)
§ Clause 4 (Summary punishment).
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that in fulfilment of the undertaking to which he had referred, he proposed the insertion of the following words, to limit the character of the summary punishment:—And such summary punishment shall be of the character of personal restraint or of hard labour.This was, word for word, the engagement he gave to the House, and to it he would adhere.
§ VISCOUNT EMLYN
said, he was rather astonished at the aggressive tone of the right hon. Gentleman, who appeared to think he had carried out his engagement and that others had not. Last Thursday the right hon. Gentleman said he would make inquiries and see what could be done in the way of inserting words of a restrictive character in the clause. But for that promise he would have divided the House. But the words proposed to be introduced meant absolutely nothing. They were that the punishment "shall be of the character of personal restraint or of hard labour." If they were left out, what punishment could be inflicted that would be impossible if they were retained? He had expected words which would make some change in the Bill. What he objected to was that punishment should be so far in the hands of the Secretary of State that the soldier should be made the subject of experiments. In spite of the words, and with the words, this would be possible. The reason was that the question had been made a Party cry at the elections. Candidates had pledged themselves to abolish flogging. He should like to ask those hon. Gentlemen whether they told both sides of the story to the people they were addressing? Did they tell those whom they hoped would be their constituents that if flogging were abolished under certain conditions there would be nothing to replace it but the punishment of death? Did they tell them how many soldiers were shot in the Franco-German War? He protested strongly against questions affecting the discipline of the Army being made use of as Party cries. How would it be possible to carry out the new rules in some of the wars we were compelled to undertake? In the Ashantee War our chief means of conveyance were the heads of coolies, and there were few horses to which offenders could be tied. Nor could an offender have been required to carry a greater burden than was carried by most of the soldiers. In the last Chinese War, also, coolies took the place of carts and horses, and it would have been impossible for these rules to have been carried out. These two cases showed the difficulty there would be in carrying out the rules in the different parts of the world in which the English soldier was called upon to serve. A very grave 654 principle was involved; but the change proposed satisfied a Party cry, which forced the Government to do away with the punishment of flogging without, as they understood, the sanction of the highest military authorities. The Government were bound to tell the House what they intended to put in the place of flogging; and, if the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War did not tell them, he should say it was because he could not. There was one other question to be considered, and that was the position in which a commanding officer would, in time of war, be placed by the action the Government were now taking. In certain positions he would find it impossible to carry out those rules and regulations. What, then, was he to do? They were taking out of his hand the only weapon he could weild, and leaving him in a position in which he could only inflict the alternative punishment of death. In conclusion, as a protest against that course of proceeding, he begged to move the omission of the words, "rules being made from time to time by one of Her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State," and the insertion in their place of the words "the provisions of this Act."
In page 3, line 25, to leave out the words "rules to be made from time to time by one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State," in order to insert the words "the provisions of this Act."—(Viscount Emlyn.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, that he did not rise to oppose the abolition of corporal puishment, for, as an independent Member of Parliament, he had never voted for flogging, except on one occasion in 1867, and he confessed he then did so, not upon the merits, but as a protest against the unprincipled conduct of the then Leaders of the Opposition, who, to embarrass the Government of the day and in violation of all their antecedents, had supported the Motion of the hon. Member for Rochester. He quite saw the advantage of getting rid of this question from a political point of view, because at every contested election there were always amongt the co-called Liberal Party unscrupulous individuals, who, when other means failed, 655 invariably raised against the Conservative candidate the well-known cry of "Where is the Cat?" But, as they were now about to close this old dread of strife, he desired to examine the reasons urged by the Judge Advocate General, to see whether they afforded any substantial grounds for the change proposed. Now, the first reason assigned by the right hon. Gentleman was that this punishment deterred the best class of men from entering the Army; but then he immediately proceeded to cut the ground from under his own feet and to disprove the proposition upon his own showing, for he cited official figures to the effect that, notwithstanding the existence of the punishment, the ratio of men of this class enlisting had been steadily rising—that was, from 76 per 1,000 in 1860 to 137 per 1,000 in 1878, and to 567 per 1,000 in 1880. These statistics absolutely established that the alleged deterrent effect of corporal punishment rested on no solid foundation. Then it seemed, after all, that the Judge Advocate General was not a total abolitionist, for his second reason was, that while he thought flogging was the most appropriate punishment for drunkenness, yet that plea for its retention was removed by the provisions of the Act of 1879, limiting flogging to an alternative for punishment by death. But the right hon. Gentleman seemed totally to have forgotten that the concession by the late Secretary of State for War, in July, 1879, making flogging an alternative for punishment by death only, followed not only both in detail and principle the suggestion of the present Secretary of State for India; and it seemed inconsistent in the highest degree that the abolition of the punishment in cases of drunkenness, to which all parties agreed last year, should now be set up as a ground for the total abolition at the present time. But he (Mr. C. Bentinck) would like to ask, if this punishment was so barbarous and objectionable, why had the Party opposite not abolished it during their long tenure of power? Why, during a period of 13 years from 1867, had they made no Motion on the subject? Why had the Committee of 1879 on Army Discipline, over which the Home Secretary had presided, with the sole exception of the hon. Member for Hackney, now on the Treasury Bench, sanctioned the reten- 656 tion of flogging in the scale of punishments? Why did the Home Secretary himself, in the subsequent Session, vigorously defend flogging as the only alternative for death? And why did the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India surrender in 1880 all his convictions, both public and private, simply because the President of the Board of Trade rebelled against him, and referred to him as the late Leader of the Liberal Party? The answers to these Questions were clear enough; and he (Mr. C. Bentinck) thought it would have been more to the credit of the Government if the Judge Advocate General and the Secretary of State for War had shown true candour, and confessed that their present policy was founded not upon right and reason, but simply upon political urgency. He (Mr. C. Bentinck) was decidedly opposed to the proposed substituted punishments. He believed them to be more barbarous and cruel than flogging, and so entirely against military opinion that they never could be carried out. For his own part, he could not conceive why the present Administration should require any war punishment at all. They were eminently a peace-at-all-price Government, as shown by their late capitulation to the Boers; and they might as well try the effect for a year or two of Army punishments as they stood, rather than subject our soldiers to infinite degradation. He should support, for these reasons, the Amendment of his noble Friend.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he thought he need not deal at length with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, who said he had long opposed flogging, though he once voted for it when it was opposed by some Members now sitting on that side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten that he himself, as Judge Advocate General, had passed an Act under which the punishment of flogging was to be inflicted in cases where the offender was liable to be shot. The right hon. Gentleman now practically said that a person guilty of drunkenness on the line of march ought not to be punished at all. [Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK: I never said anything of the kind.] He was in the recollection of the House, and he certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he would abolish flogging, and substitue for it nothing at all. If the right 657 hon. Gentleman objected to the punishment of flogging, and also to the summary punishment which the Government proposed to substitute, he must desire that the offender should either be shot or escape without any punishment whatever. The noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Emlyn) appeared to think he had suffered some injustice at his (Mr. Childers's) hands, when he deprecated the renewal of the Motion which the noble Viscount withdrew on the previous occasion. But what were the facts? On Monday last there had been a full discussion, lasting some hours, upon the second reading of the Bill to which the noble Viscount moved the same Amendment. At the end of the discussion a suggestion was made and concurred in by his right hon. and gallant Friend and Predecessor (Colonel Stanley), and on the strength of it the noble Viscount withdrew his Amendment. He (Mr. Childers) agreed that the general nature of the punishments which the Secretary of State for War might be enabled to embody in the rules should be stated in the body of and Bill, and at the same time he indicated and read to the House the very words now proposed as expressing the general nature of those summary punishments. It had been indicated, not as a probability, but as a possibility, that without some words punishments might be designed in the nature of torture, and it was arranged to introduce those words into the clause, and that the rules to be made by the Secretary of State for War should be laid upon the Table of the House. Accordingly, following the words of the Act of 1879, a clause was then and there introduced requiring that all rules framed under the present Bill should be laid before Parliament, and the definition of the general nature of the punishments was to be inserted to-day. The proposal having been made by him in perfect good faith, and, as he thought, accepted by the House, he trusted the House would not adopt the Motion of the noble Viscount.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, the question before the House was undoubtedly one of very great difficulty. For a great many years there had existed in the House a widely spread feeling against the infliction of corporal punishment, and as far as the feelings of successive Houses of Commons were concerned, no doubt, 658 at any time that might be named during the last 10 or 20 years there would have been a desire to do away with that punishment, had it not been that successive Governments, who felt themselves responsible for maintaining discipline in the Army, had deemed it necessary that the power of inflicting corporal punishment should be retained. He had in mind various changes and modifications with reference to corporal punishment which had been made from time to time in deference to the wishes expressed by Members of Parliament; but it had been felt all through that there ought to be the ultima ratio of corporal punishment in the case of armies employed in the field. Very great difficulties had always been suggested by those responsible for the discipline of the Army under those circumstances, in the event of corporal punishment being done away with. The question was again raised in the year before last, and very strong opinions were expressed by some noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen now in Office that the time had come when corporal punishment might altogether be abolished; and last year the Secretary of State for War intimated to the House that it would be necessary to provide some method whereby this could be carried out. That was a great stop for the House of Commons to take; but the right hon. Gentleman said at the time that the question was one of very considerable difficulty; that although he felt, as others had felt, great objection to continuing this punishment, yet, in the position which he then occupied, it would be extremely difficult to abolish the punishment without substituting something else for it, and he gave the House to understand that the subject was one which would occupy his attention; and he hoped, not last year, but this year, to make a proposal to the House which would afford an effectual substitute for that punishment. Well, hon. Members on that side of the House, of course, thought he had taken a very difficult task in hand. There was no doubt that the power of inflicting corporal punishment, however rarely that punishment might be inflicted, was one of great force and of very great efficiency in the hands of a commanding officer; and he and others on that side of the House had felt that it would be extremely difficult to find as a substitute any punishment which would comprise 659 all the advantages which a commanding officer derived from having the power of inflicting corporal punishment, and which at the same time would be tolerable in the eyes of all persons who desired to maintain discipline in the Army without inflicting any excessive punishment, or anything in the nature of torture on the British soldier. When the question was raised two years ago, it was always said that, if flogging was got rid of, the punishments in use in Continental Armies would have to be adopted. The right hon. Gentleman opposite gave the House to understand last year that he would devote himself, with the assistance of his military advisers, to the solution of this question. Well, what was the solution which he had found? It was that flogging should be done away with, and that the House of Commons should allow the Secretary of State for War to make rules for punishment of any kind whatever. But that was no solution, and no substitute at all, and his noble Friend behind him (Viscount Emlyn) said—"If you are really going to do away with flogging, and substitute some other punishment, and if that is not to be done on the responsibility of officers answerable for military discipline, but on the responsibility of civilians in the House of Commons, at all events, let the House of Commons say what it wishes." Either let Parliament say it trusted the matter entirely to the military authorities, or let it take it into its own hands. They might say that they would trust the matter entirely to the military authorities. It was known that, under the pressure of public opinion, subject, as everything was, to the criticism of the Press, in Parliament, and elsewhere, there was no possibility now of those terrible applications of particular punishments which they had heard of in times past. They might say they would leave all these matters in the hands of the executive officers or commanding officers; or, on the other hand, they might take a different line, and say—"No, we will not trust those officers; we do not think this is a case in which they ought to exercise their discretion, and, under those circumstances, we, the House of Commons representing the people of the country, step in and say you shall not inflict these punishments." In that case, he thought the House of Commons 660 should say what the punishments should be. His noble Friend wished some conditions to be laid down which would bind and regulate the action of the authorities, and that, he thought, was a very reasonable proposal. No one would desire to retain the punishment of flogging for a moment longer than it was absolutely necessary, nor to encourage the military authorities to use their power tyrannically. The matter, however, must be considered with reference to the possibility of wars occurring in the future, as they had in the past; and one line or other ought to be taken—either to trust the military authorities, or to contrive Regulations to be laid upon the Table of the House. But they were doing now neither one thing nor the other, and, therefore, he ventured to say that the course taken by his noble Friend was a very reasonable one.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, it appeared to him that the House was likely to lapse into a dangerous course with reference to this question. It would be remembered that our Army was an Army of volunteers employed, when the country was not at war, within the United Kingdom in the preservation of peace. Hitherto the punishments to which the soldier was subject had been enacted by Parliament—the same authority under which punishments were inflicted upon civilians and other classes in the country. They were to change the authority under which these punishments were to be inflicted. He admitted that in minor matters a discretion had been intrusted to officers as to the nature and extent of punishments; but they were now dealing with punishments which were to be substituted in some cases for capital punishment, and which were, in all cases, for offences which entailed the next punishment in severity to capital punishment, and he thought it would produce a very uneasy feeling among our soldiers—who were also citizens—when they found that the substitutes for these severe punishments had not been defined by Parliament; but had, if not their origin, their nature and extent, in the discretion of some officers, whether of the Government or the Army it mattered not. The intention of punishment in the Army was to prevent insubordination, and he very much doubted whether, in thus changing the origin and direction of punishment— 661 taking it from Parliament and placing it in the hands of an officer—he cared not whether the Secretary of State for War, the Commander-in-Chief, or a colonel—they would not arouse a feeling which was common to all Englishmen—whether they were civilians or whether they were soldiers—that they were subject to a severe infliction not directly authorized by Parliament, and, therefore, to which they were not bound to submit with the same willingness or unrepining, or the same absence of revengeful feeling, with which the discipline of the Army had hitherto been accepted by the soldiers. This was a serious matter, and he felt strongly with the noble Viscount who proposed the Amendment on the broad ground he was now stating—that they were dealing with an army of free citizens, who would expect that if they were to be severely punished, the manner, and the nature, and origin of that punishment should be the same for them as it was for every other class of Her Majesty's subjects.
SIR HENRY FLETCHER
thought that up to this moment the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who had spoken had been civilians; and now, perhaps, the House would allow him, an old soldier, to say a few words on the subject. He wished to make a few observations, because the other night, when he had an opportunity of speaking in connection with those new rules, it was after the Secretary of State for War had spoken, and no opportunity had been since afforded to the right hon. Gentleman of answering his remarks. His remarks on that occasion had not been answered up to the present moment; therefore, with the permission of the House, he would repeat what he had said on the former occasion. In the new rules it was said that an offender might be attached to a horse which was to proceed onward at a walking pace. Well, every hon. Gentleman who had been in the Service knew that in an enemy's country, and when the enemy was near, horses had to proceed, very often, at other than a walking pace. Sometimes the enemy appeared when a convoy, or a brigade, or simply a troop of cavalry was passing through the country, and it should be taken in to consideration by the authorities what was to be done in such a case. The trot was very often sounded, and the cavalry had to respond. In such a case there 662 might be an unfortunate offender attached to the stirrup, probably, of a trooper—what was to become of that offender? Was he to be unleashed and cut off, and left to the mercy of the enemy; or was the whole troop to be halted in order that some provision might be made for him? He would not go into the flowery eloquence that had come from the other side in allusion to Mazeppa, because he did not believe it was proposed to tie the offender to the back of the horse, as he understood Mazeppa was bound. The offender, he presumed, was to walk by the side of the horse. There was another point to which he had alluded, but which allusion on his part had never yet been answered. In the new rules it was said that the offender might be attached to a cart or waggon; and he had asked what steps were to be taken, after a man had been attached to a cart or waggon, to make him proceed after the waggon. No doubt they could tie a man to a waggon, but they could not force him to walk; just as, according to the old saying, one man could take a horse to the water, but 20 could not make him drink. If they had to deal with a rusty and crusty old soldier who did not care to walk, he might throw himself down and take some steps that might prevent his being dragged after the cart, because the medical authority would be brought in immediately some injury was done to the man. If the offender was dragged over a few stones, and received a few scratches, no doubt he would be detached from the waggon and placed inside it. Unfortunately, there were some lingerers and skulkers in the Army, and these might prefer riding in a waggon to being attached to it, and being obliged to proceed at a walking pace behind it. Then, again, with regard to these rules, he was acquainted with the history of the American War, and he could not help thinking that some of them had been copied from the punishments inflicted in the American Army. There was a great outcry during that war against the barbarous customs instituted by the officers. Men were tied to trees, they were tied to waggons, and left there in the burning sun for many hours, and the flies and some horrible descriptions of insects and animals attacked them. He would put it to the House whether the proposed system was not a most barbarous system of pun- 663 ishment? If they would look back, they would remember that certain changes had been made in the regulations for punishing civilians, offenders having been manacled under unfavourable circumstances, and, to some extent, tortured. He believed, and the House would bear him out, that a great cry had been raised about the marching of seven or eight prisoners, manacled together, from a police station to a railway station. Surely, then, if a cry was raised against marching civilians through a town manacled, there was every prospect of a much louder cry being raised against the dragging through a town of soldiers wearing the Queen's uniform, at a cart tail, in chains and fetters. It was not now the civilians, but the soldiers, who were asked to endure this punishment; and he thought those hon. Members who belonged to the Military Profession should stand up for the Service in which they had spent so many years, and raise a cry against allowing soldiers to be subjected to this punishment, which, in his opinion, was far worse than any corporal punishment to which they had had to submit for many years past. He would go further than this. During the past few days—since this matter had been brought before the House—he had had many opportunities of consulting military friends and old brother officers, and many of them had informed him that during the late war—which, unfortunately, we had had to pay for—these new rules could not possibly have been adopted with any advantage. The general officers who had commanded in the campaigns which we had latety passed through were strongly against the rules. He was not, for one moment, going back to the old question of flogging, because there could be no doubt that that punishment had passed away—the House of Commons had decided it before this year—but he would say this, that if discipline was to be maintained in an army in the field it ought not to be left to rules framed by the Secretary of State for War; but the military authorities in the field, should have, to a certain extent, the regulation of the punishments to be inflicted, because, as he had said before, there were many men—the lingerers and skulkers—who would take advantage of the rules unless the officers had power to prevent them. These men would prefer to ride in waggons to marching 664 with their comrades who were honestly doing their duty. When they arrived in camp there could be no doubt that such men would prefer being manacled, and lying down, probably on a heap of straw, whilst the good soldiers who had performed their march turned out for many hours during the night on guard or picket duty in face of the enemy. In the opinion of many military men these rules would be most detrimental to the discipline of the Army in the field. During the late Zulu campaign the soldiers who were prisoners, and who were actually under sentence of imprisonment, were made to march with their rifles and ammunition during the day in order that they might, if occasion required, take their part in fighting for their country, and in defending themselves and their comrades. But now, according to these rules, the man who had disgraced himself, the man who was looked down upon by his comrades, was to be so treated that he was not to carry his rifle, nor ammunition, nor to fight for himself, nor to defend his regiment—he was to be sent walking behind a waggon, or placed comfortably in it, whilst the good and well-behaved soldiers were fighting for him.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
rose to move the adjournment of the debate. He did so to give the Government an opportunity of considering what answer they were going to give to the arguments which had been advanced to-night, because, up to the present moment, he had not heard one single word in answer to those arguments. They had heard nothing about the punishment the Government proposed to inflict upon offending soldiers in such events as the marches which had been referred to—the marches through Ashantee and Zululand—nor had they had a word from Her Majesty's Ministers as to their reason for not scheduling these punishments in the Act. In common honesty, considering what had occurred in the House within the last two years, considering the way the Conservatives had been vilified for the acts which had led to the proposed change, it was due to the House and to the country that the Government should lay before them in the Act exactly what punishments they were going to substitute for flogging. He would suggest another thing, and put it in the form of a question to the Secretary of State for War. Would the 665 right hon. Gentleman follow the precedent set not long ago in the case of the "cat," and place in the Library of the House of Commons, or some other suitable place, a drawing of a British soldier tied to the tail of a cart? He should like, also, to ask whether a British soldier in that position was to be in his uniform? To his mind, the punishment the right hon. Gentleman now proposed was a far more degrading one than that of flogging. He had always been opposed to the latter punishment. He had lifted up his voice against it, and had voted against his own Party long before the political opponents of himself and his Friends had found out a Party advantage was to be gained by raising the flogging question as a cry against the Conservatives. His reason for voting for a considerable modification of that punishment was chiefly on account of the brutality of the punishment; but, in the second place, he was actuated by a sense of the degradation of the system, and hon. Gentlemen opposite mostly took the same line, opposing flogging not so much on account of the pain inflicted on the culprit as of the degradation he endured. But he contended it would be infinitely more degrading to tie a man in his uniform to the tail of a cart and march him through the country, before the public, disgracing him, perhaps, before the very eyes of his own wife and children. Why, in the case of flogging, it was inflicted where the outside public could not see it! On this point he challenged contradiction. The punishment was infinitely more degrading; therefore, he wished to see a sketch or drawing of it placed in some public place, where it could be seen by everyone. Hon. Gentlemen opposite would remember—it was unnecessary for him to remind them—of the manner in which the punishment of the "cat" was paraded all over the country. In every constituency where there was a Conservative candidate during the late Election there was to be seen an illustration or a lying placard posted on the walls; and he could now promise the Ministerial Party that at the next General Election, in every borough and county, there would be seen carts going about with the Liberal colours, having men in soldiers' uniform tied to their tails. ["Oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen might say "Oh!" but this was the way they treated the Conservatives at the last General 666 Election, and, in return, they must expect to be treated in a similar way themselves. He had only one more word to say—for he knew the subject was very distasteful to hon. Gentlemen opposite. He wished to put one more question. He had intended to move an Amendment to the Bill, but had not had an opportunity of doing so, and he would therefore content himself with putting a question to the Secretary of State for War—the matter being one on which the House and the country ought to have certain information. It was this. When this punishment was carried out of tying a soldier to the tail of a cart, would the right hon. Gentleman assure them that such cart should in no case be a water cart or a manure cart?
said, he rose to second the Motion for the adjournment. He thought he could tell the House an interesting fact which he thought they would like to know, and which threw a good deal of light upon the reticence of Her Majesty's Government throughout this debate. The question raised this evening for the consideration of the House was, whether the House itself ought to prescribe the corporal punishment to be inflicted on the soldier, or whether the House should delegate the duty of legislating upon this particular matter to the Secretary of State? That was not the first time that this question had been under consideration in the House of Commons. It was under discussion in 1879, not quite two years ago. The question then was whether the House should interfere in the details of corporal punishment, or leave them to the Secretary of State, and a number of right hon. Gentlemen now sitting on the Treasury Bench were extremely eager in their endeavour to impress on the House that nothing ought to be left to the discretion of the Secretary of State, but that the House should be responsible for every detail in regard to corporal punishment, and that every minute detail ought to be settled by the House of Commons. At last, the monstrous proposal was made by the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) that a pattern of the instrument for corporal punishment should be submitted to Parliament. He could not conceive a stronger instance of carrying out the proposition of the noble Lord. The monstrous proposition that Parlia- 667 ment should settle the pattern of the "cat" was carried to a division, and in the division he found the names of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, who was now President of the Board of Trade; Mr. Leonard Henry Courtney, now Under Secretary of State for the Colonies; Sir Charles W. Dilke, at present the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; Mr. Osborne Morgan, the present Judge Advocate General; and Mr. G. O. Trevelyan, the Secretary to the Admiralty. Although he saw that many of the ox-Ministers voted against the proposition, he did not find that the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for War thought it any part of his duty to attend and vote against any such proposal. After this statement, he thought the House would not be astonished at the reticence of Her Majesty's Government.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Captain Price.)
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I do not know whether my hon. Friend will press for an adjournment; but I hope not, because this is a question of the progress of Public Business, and we are all anxious that the Army Discipline Bill should be proceeded with in the regular course, and that there should be no interruption to its passage into law. I am anxious that the Motion of my noble Friend should be submitted to the House; but I would suggest to him that he will get no better opportunity than by doing so at the present time. I have already expressed my opinion that the Motion is one which is entirely justified by the circumstances of the case, and one which we are imperatively called upon to submit to Parliament; but if the choice is between either trusting the Army authorities or of not trusting them and taking the matter into the hands of this House, I should have preferred trusting the Army authorities entirely, subject to the qualifications which we know exist through publicity against the abuse of their power. If that is not to be done, I think the proposal of my hon. Friend is irresistible; but I should be sorry to see the debate adjourned, because I think in that case a false issue will be raised upon the question. The question is one upon which we may fairly divide now; and although I think we ought to have had stronger 668 reasons given for the line which the Government are taking, and although I think the observations of my hon. and learned Friend are observations which may sink deeply into the minds of a great many people both inside this House and outside, I should be sorry if we were to adjourn upon what, in my opinion, is a false issue.
§ MR. CHILDERS
I hope the House will adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman. I must, however, repeat that I distinctly stated that I should consult those officers who are most experienced in the matter; but I never heard yet of a proposal to leave discretion in such matters by statute to irresponsible military authorities, rather than to the responsible Secretary of State for War.
§ EARL PERCY
said, he should like, then, to know what was the meaning of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, if we were not to trust to the military authorities? The right hon. Gentleman had always opposed any Amendment to this Bill for the express purpose of limiting the discretion of the Army authorities. The argument of his right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote) was that the House should either trust the military authorities or not; but what the Government was doing was neither one thing nor the other, and he was astonished that after so long a debate it was impossible to make the Government understand the plain issue of the question. Although he quite understood the motive of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote) in suggesting that the Motion for adjournment should not be pressed, he thought there was some excuse for it, for he found the Government not only reticent on the subject, but in absolute ignorance of the ground of the opposition. He thought some further time was desirable to enable the Government to consider the question and to understand the opposition. The issue was this. The old system of punishment was to be abolished, and the Government was prepared to put nothing in its place; but, at the same time, the Government was not willing to act upon its own authority, or on the authority of the House. Further time might be useful to the Government, and it was not necessary that this part of the Bill should be passed 669 this year. At the same time, he should be entirely guided by other Members on the question of adjournment; but he hoped the Government would not, on many occasions, so openly and palpably eat their own words and reverse the whole conduct which they pursued when out of Office upon exactly the same issues.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
did not wish to interfere in a debate on a question of which he had no practical experience; but he felt bound to say that he did not think the Government should be much surprised that a Motion for adjournment was made, because the right hon. Gentleman opposite had entirely ignored many of the questions and arguments put to him, and many of those used by his noble Friend (Earl Percy). The noble Earl had called attention to the new rules, and had pointed out that one of the proposed punishments was to attach a man to a cart, or waggon, or horse; and he mentioned that in the Ashantee War there were neither carts, waggons, nor horses, and, consequently, the rule would be a dead letter. He also called upon the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) to give an answer to his argument and explain, if he was wrong, how he was wrong, and in what manner, under such circumstances, the rule could be enforced. Not one word had been heard in reply to those questions from any hon. Member or right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench. Under those circumstances, and until answers had been given, he thought the hon. and gallant Member who moved the adjournment was within his right, and he should support him.
§ VISCOUNT EMLYN
felt that it was extremely desirable to go to a vote on the main issue; but he could not conceal from himself that the Government had practically declined to enter into the arguments. If he voted for the adjournment, it was not because he did not wish to go to the direct issue and vote on the real issue, but because he wished to enter his protest against the silence of the Government.
§ MAJOR-GENERAL FEILDEN
could not understand why officers should not be consulted upon this question; and he felt quite certain that the Army, if polled, would say distinctly that it would be for the benefit of the Service that the lash, under its present restricted con- 670 ditions, should be maintained. He believed the lash was not only justice but mercy. It was thought the lash destroyed men; but he could say, from his own knowledge, that many a man had been saved from the gallows by the infliction of the lash. He desired to consider the question entirely apart from any Party aspect, and he was sure that Members on both sides of the House were equally anxious that justice should be done to the Army. He believed the constituencies did not really appreciate the main issue of this question. The constituencies naturally wished to do away with corporal punishment; but they did not appreciate the fact that if corporal punishment was done away with the death punishment must be increased. He was sure that if the Government would take the matter into their own hands and allow the responsible officers in the Army to decide the question of applying the lash, the constituencies would be perfectly satisfied. He should not have spoken, but that the increase of the death penalty he considered a serious matter, and he wished the House to consider it. All felt that our soldiers were becoming better every year—their position was better than it was, and their pay was better; but supposing that a war broke out to-morrow, where should we go for additional soldiers? We should have to enlist men of a low type, and what punishment was so likely to keep them in order as corporal punishment? But it was not only the culprit who should be considered; the position of the officers of the Army must also be considered, who, as members of courts martial, would be called upon to vote away the lives of their soldiers. Do away with punishment by the lash by the will of the nation, but give entire power to the officers commanding any force before an enemy in the field; and he was quite certain that any officer in command, if he erred at all, would err on the side of mercy.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, the more he listened to the debate the more in a fog he became. He wanted to know whether the proposed punishments were before the House, or whether they were withdrawn, and the House was discussing imaginary punishments which the Secretary of State for War was in future, after consultation with his Colleagues, to lay before the House? He hoped 671 the debate would not be adjourned, and a vote would be taken on the Motion of the noble Viscount opposite. He could not imagine anything more cruel or degrading than these punishments; and it appeared to him that they would very much encourage malingering—and that meant giving double duty to the honest soldiers. Therefore, he could not vote for the punishments under consideration. But what would be the state of the case after the Army Discipline Bill was passed? What were the punishments the commanding officer would then be allowed to give the soldier in the field before the new punishments were decided on if the proposed rules were now withdrawn?
§ MR. CHILDERS
I do not assume that the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price) seriously expects me to respond to his inquiry; but my hon. Friend who has just spoken has asked me a very reasonable question, which I will answer as well and as shortly as I can. What I said before I repeat now—that the criticism which was devoted the other day to the rules as laid before the House satisfied me that, whereas the House was in favour, as I thought, of personal restraint and hard labour being the principle of these summary punishments—and my right hon. Friend, who I am sorry to say is not here now, supported me on this point—there was great doubt expressed as to the feasibility and sufficiency of some of the details, such as that a man should be attached to a cart or a horse. What I undertook to do was this. Assuming that the general principle of restraint and hard labour was adopted, I would consult officers most experienced in the matter, and take care, after due deliberation, and after obtaining every advice, to prescribe certain limits within which commanding officers could inflict punishments. That was the view of the House as I understood it the other day; it was certainly the view of my right hon. Friend; and that was the view I proposed to adopt—leaving the clause as it stood with the proviso embodied in the Amendment—namely, that the punishments shall be of the character of personal restraint and hard labour. I thought the House was satisfied the other evening, and therefore I am surprised at the extent to which the opposition has gone now; 672 but I adhere faithfully and strictly to the promise I gave then; and if the House will pass the Bill in the form we propose, the rules shall be laid on the Table of the House before the end of the Session.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
asked if the right hon. Gentleman would cause a diagram to be placed in the Library?
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that when the Bill was presented he was so struck with some of the provisions that he asked the right hon. Gentleman a Question the next day, and the right hon. Gentleman then stated that he had very carefully considered what the punishments were that should be put in place of corporal punishment, and would lay his proposed rules on the Table of the House. He (Sir R. Assheton Cross) gave Notice of his Question, and before the Question could be asked the rules had been laid on the Table of the House; and when, on Monday, he asked the Question, the right hon. Gentleman stated that these were the final rules. [Mr. CHILDERS: I did not say final.] No, not final; but the result of his deliberate judgment. The right hon Gentleman went on to say that what he wanted to point out was that since the right hon. Gentleman took Office he must have known that his opinion was to abolish corporal punishment. After the action they took last year, everyone knew that the present Government came into Office with a determination that this flogging should be abolished. Therefore, he assumed that they took the advice of all the military counsel they could get as to what punishment should be put in place of flogging. They had had 12 months to consider it; and after consulting with their military advisers, they had at last put the rules on the Table. They had not been there a week before the House would have nothing to do with them. They would not have them; and the Secretary of State for War now said—"Oh, these are not the rules to be put in force; but, on further consideration, we propose further rules." But that was precisely the point they objected to. What they said was, if they were going to abolish flogging they were bound to state to the House, before they substituted another punishment, some limits as to what that punishment was to be. After 12 months these rules had been so- 673 lemnly and deliberately placed on the Table by the Secretary of State for War, and a week after their production they were withdrawn as unfit to take the place of corporal punishment. [Mr. CHILDERS: Not withdrawn.] Not withdrawn; but when they were brought in the House would not have them, and if they were not withdrawn they were to be withdrawn. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that they would have to substitute fresh rules; and whatever the Judge Advocate General might suggest to the contrary, he would have to re-consult his Military Advisers. That was tantamount to a withdrawal of these rules. The Government ought to place before the House in the Bill some limits of the punishment. He quite agreed with the Government that it would be a great pity that this debate should be adjourned, and he could not support the Motion for adjournment; but he was bound to say that the Government had brought themselves into this great difficulty, and that they had themselves to thank for it all. He thought his noble Friend was justified in moving the Amendment which he had brought before the House—namely, that they should have this matter placed beyond dispute in terms in the Act of Parliament, or they did not know what their soldiers might be subject to.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
said, that many speeches had been made on the other side of the House; but not one of them had condemned flogging. A good many said that was not the question now; but not one of the hon. Gentlemen opposite had suggested any minor punishment to take the place of flogging. The real fact was that flogging was still contended for; flogging was still in favour on those Benches. [Earl PERCY: Hear!] The noble Earl favoured it; and even the hon. and learned Member for Chatham had shown himself as somewhat favourable to it. [Mr. GORST: I never said anything of the kind.] He expected the flattest contradiction from his hon. and learned Friend; but all he said was that his hon. and learned Friend had shown himself somewhat favourable to flogging, and he would point out how. He had appeared to ask the House to express its opinion that the famous implement which had been so celebrated was a sort of thing that was to be left to anybody's hands to use; for he had 674 called attention, if not with disapproval, at all events, without approval, to the Motion he (Mr. Hopwood) had made. When they proposed that the "cat" should be exhibited, he certainly implied that that was a matter which should not be indulged in, and that those who voted for it did very wrong. Now, if the Opposition was in favour of the "cat," let it say so. He could see three or four right hon. Gentlemen on the Bench opposite who had been tested over and over again on the subject of abolishing the "cat." What did they intend to propose in substitution for it? Could they deny that they were prepared themselves for its total abolition, but for the rather impetuous intervention of an hon. and gallant Gentleman in that House, who called a meeting of the Tory Party, and gilded its name with eternal fame, for a gallant stand at the last in favour of the "cat?" What were they upon now? ["Hear, hear!"] He was going to answer that question himself, if hon. Gentlemen would allow him. They were upon the substitution of other punishments for the "cat," and some of them did not like the punishments which were to be substituted. But had hon. Gentlemen opposite suggested anything which should meet the difficulty? It was very difficult to suggest anything better. He would ask anybody to consider the matter from that point of view. Hon. Gentlemen, most recklessly, he thought, referred to the doings of the Continental Armies and of the American Armies. But the subject had been well discussed and threshed out in the last Parliament; and he himself produced the testimony from a gallant General in the American Army, who testified that it was possible to carry on the American Army with perfect discipline and yet abolish the "cat"—that it had been abolished for 20 years past, since 1860. If that could be done in America; if it could be done in France, as it had been for the last 80 or 90 years, why, then, the pertinacious struggle to maintain it in the English Army? It was said we fought under different circumstances. That was not the fact in all respects. He supposed it would be admitted that the French troops had fought in Algiers, and that there were recesses, fastnesses, and deserts in Algeria where it would be as necessary to provide punishments as in South Africa. What did hon. 675 Gentlemen opposite wish the use of the "cat" for? Was it to make soldiers more competent or efficient on the line of march? He supposed some of them must be halted in order to inflict the punishment. Would that conduce to expedition? And when it was done, were the men expected to march all the better for having received the lashes which humanity chose to inflict upon them? He should certainly support the Motion.
§ MR. LEWIS
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken had carefully avoided the question. He, no doubt, was not in love with the cat; but what did he think of the new rules—Si quid novisti rectius istisCaudidus imperiti si non his utere mecum.Was that the position of the hon. and learned Gentleman? Was it not that he was asking them, after all, to go in for these inflictions which they had heard characterized in various ways from different sides of the House? He took a different position. He thought the Secretary of State for War was a very heroic person. What was the object of the Government in the matter in withdrawing the decision from the House? Was it not to prevent their candidates at a General Election being treated as they—the Conservatives—had been treated? Why did they not introduce the punishments in the Bill? Because they wanted to avoid tacking their supporters to the tail of the punishments. The real issue placed before them was that, for purposes which he would not designate in the last Parliament, the Government identified themselves with the great question of destroying the punishment of the lash in the Army and Navy. Now, they had been driven as practical men to the consideration and elucidation of the question as to what punishments were to be substituted for it. They had found that, to deal with the matter properly, they had had to resort to punishments which were more degrading and more brutal and equally disgraceful to the soldier and the sailor as the cat for which it was proposed to substitute them. The Government would not put the thing honestly in the Bill. They had endeavoured to shelter themselves and to support the alterations in the law by looking only at one aspect of the case instead of the whole. They were 676 now asked to lay aside, for a time, the substitutions for the lash which were placed deliberately on the Table by the Secretary of State for War; and they were asked to draw the curtain before the whole policy of the War Office, and thus enable them to mystify the question of responsibility as well as the amount and nature of the punishment to be inflicted. All they said on that side of the House was—"Be honest!" Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department was himself mixed up in exhibitions, for Party purposes, in the streets of Oxford, which he would not say were discreditable, but which were of the most extreme character. When they found the Members of the Government going down to the country, and making the abolition of the lash an "electioneering dodge," they had a right to be severe when they found the Government treating the matter as they did now. What was the present aspect of the matter? They could not obtain from the Secretary of State for War any definite statement as to what was to be the punishment proposed instead of the lash. Suggestions had been made of various kinds, and hon. Members had said they did not think his hon. Friend behind him could be in earnest when he asked whether it was to be a water-cart or a manure-cart that the soldier was to be tied to. But any form of words was justifiable in pressing such a question. Was that to be proclaimed before the British public as the proposal of the Government at the present time? They were, in his opinion, not pressing the Government too far in asking for this; and, having abstained from anything like obstruction, he thought they had a right to demand that the Government should show themselves to be sincere and earnest upon this point by putting into the Bill some words which would show the conclusion at which they had arrived.
said, he would endeavour not to be betrayed by the warmth of the present discussion into an imitation of the tone of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The hon. Member had described the proceedings and declarations of Gentlemen sitting on that side of the House and who constituted the majority for the House, on the subject of the abolition of flogging, as electioneering dodges. Could that tone and 677 strain of language be considered as decent and becoming when applied to hon. Gentlemen? A large portion of the House had expressed their opinion as to the best mode of arriving at a conclusion; and the hon. Gentleman had attempted in the manner he had described to set right all that was going wrong in the proposals of the Government. What said the hon. Member? He said that the issue which had been carefully evaded upon that side of the House was whether the abolition of the lash would not entail the substitution of punishments yet more degrading; and the hon. Member, who always took great credit for his high-mindedness, then took refuge behind a Motion which did not in the slightest degree express that issue. He thought the proper course for the hon. Member, with all his manliness and all his courage, would have been to move a Motion stating that issue in plain terms, and inviting the House to declare that the abolition of the lash could not be effected without the substitution of punishments more degrading, and that, therefore, the lash ought not to be abolished. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Stanley) had very fairly raised that issue, and distinctly stated that the abolition of the lash was bad, and that the lash ought to be retained. He respected the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for the manner in which he had stated his opinion, which, he must say, stood in rather strong contrast to the manner in which the issue had been evaded by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Therefore, he asked hon. Gentlemen opposite, was this the time, or was it not, for reinstating the lash? That was the real issue, because it had been said by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis) that the abolition of the lash must be followed by much more degrading punishments. If that was the opinion entertained on the opposite side of the House, why was not that opinion manfully declared, and why was not the judgment of the House taken upon that opinion? He thought he had indicated the real object of hon. Gentlemen opposite—namely, to procure the reinstatement of the lash. The immediate issue before the House was this. His right hon. Friend had laid upon the Table of the House a Paper 678 which was a compendium of certain rules with regard to summary punishments. There were three rules, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Lancashire had accepted two of them, approving, at the same time, the principle of the third. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested that it would be better not to enter into the details set forth in those rules, but to express in general terms guiding lines for the future action of the Secretary of State for War in respect of the punishment which he on his responsibility declared to be necessary. That suggestion was accepted by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, who was now sharply challenged for having done so. He affirmed that the Motion of his right hon. Friend was founded upon that suggestion, which had met with the general acceptance of the House. There was no doubt that the proposal now made was to reverse the decision at which the House had arrived, that the punishment should be regulated by rules to be made, from time to time, by one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State; and his right hon. Friend proposed to limit the discretion of the Secretary of State for War in the manner in which the late Secretary of State for War suggested. The difficulties which his right hon. Friend had to contend with had arisen from his desire, which he always evinced, to consult the feeling of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said—"You must, in this matter, do one of two things—either to trust to the discretion of the military authorities, or else set out in the Act each and all of the punishments you will allow to be inflicted." But why was only one of those alternatives to be adopted? There was a third, and that was not to leave the matter to be dealt with by the military authorities as they might think fit, and not to enter into the difficult course of prescribing in that House in the rigid letter of the law the detail of every punishment, but to proceed on that principle constantly adopted in the arrangements of Government, and to say—"We will indicate in our law guiding principles, and, having indicated them, we will leave the responsible Minister of the day to act upon them, and when he acts upon them wrongly we will call him to account." The House 679 should, of course, be made aware that what his right hon. Friend might do was perfectly right. It was suggested that he should lay on the Table such rules as he proposed, and that was inserted at the suggestion of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He submitted that, instead of the declaration of the hon. Member who had just sat down with respect to evading the issue, instead of the temperate recommendation of the Leader of the Opposition, they should adopt the reasonable and judicious plans embodied in the Bill, which specified the two important conditions—personal restraint and hard labour.
§ VISCOUNT EMLYN
wished to explain that when he withdrew his Motion on a former occasion he distinctly stated that he reserved to himself the right to raise this question on the Report of the Bill, if he was not satisfied with the wording to be introduced.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 130; Noes 63: Majority 67.—(Div. List, No. 179.)
§ Amendment made.
In page 3, line 27, after the word "punishment," to insert the words "shall be of the character of personal restraint or of hard labour, but."—(Mr. Secretary Childers.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he thought he had explained that clearly enough. Personal restraint meant preventing a man from making the ordinary use of his hands or feet.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, that a great deal of political capital had been made by hon. Members opposite out of the punishment of the lash; but was the new punishment proposed by the Government of tying soldiers to the tail of a horse or a cart much more inhuman? Under the powers the Government were now reserving to themselves it would be perfectly possible to inflict torture.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, the punishment to be provided could not be torture under the words of the clause forbidding injury or danger to life or limb.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, no answer had yet been given to the objection of his noble Friend, who had pointed out that it would be impossible for this punishment to apply in the event of a war such as that which had taken place in Abyssinia. They would be obliged to give the Government a further opportunity of considering the matter unless a satisfactory answer were given.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he had explained that he did not mean to commit himself to the exact rules which had been suggested. He would consult those who had had experience of active service, especially in the campaigns to which reference had been made; and, whilst abiding by the words of the clause as to "personal restraint," he should decide as to details when he had before him the advice of those to whom he was about to submit the case.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Am I to understand that the right hon. Gentleman does not know what punishments will be inflicted?
§ MR. CHILDERS
I have stated that the punishments will be in the nature of personal restraint or of hard labour. As to the details, I shall consult experienced officers before I finally decide.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
thought they ought to have some clear definition of what the words "personal restraint" meant. It might mean a great deal. The other day he had put a Question to the Attorney General as to the punishment of the pillory. That punishment had been strictly in the nature of personal restraint, the offender being fastened to a post and having rotten eggs thrown at him, just as candidates at an election had rotten eggs thrown at them. People who were condemned to the pillory used to have their hands and legs tied to a post; and he had asked the hon. and learned Gentleman whether it was not the fact that, by an Act passed during the first year of the reign of Queen Victoria, that punishment was abolished? But, if he read the present Bill aright, there was nothing to prevent a soldier from being "restrained" as people used to be restrained at the pillory. Were they to have the pillory revived? He hoped that the people of 681 England would understand, when they read their newspapers to-morrow, that the Government wished to revive the punishment of the pillory. He should like to hear some statement from the Government on this matter. Then there was another point. These punishments in the Bill were only to last a year; and if, at the end of that time, it was found that they were not sufficiently severe, discipline might be enforced by even stronger measures. There was a rumour going about—he did not know whether it was true—that when the Secretary of State for War was considering these punishments, the thumbscrew was brought under his consideration. It was to be hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to deny that. Was it the fact that the thumb-screw had been suggested?
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he had no right to speak again; but he was sure the House would grant him liberty to say that no torture had over been proposed to him or considered by him for a moment—such as the thumb-screw, or pillory, or anything of that kind. He would pledge himself most solemnly that no such tortures should be practised.
§ VISCOUNT FOLKESTONE
said, the Government had not made up their minds what the character of the punishment was to be; therefore, at that late hour, to give them an opportunity of considering the matter, he would move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Viscount Folkestone.)
§ MR. WARTON
said, the House had heard from the Judge Advocate General the other evening that he had consulted the highest military authorities on this question; and, when he was reminded that the Commander-in-Chief and the Adjutant General were the highest military authorities, the Secretary of State for War had explained his words away, and stated that they had not been consulted. The Secretary of State for War had said he would consult the military authorities with a view to following their advice; but it would seem that he had a habit of consulting them, and then not following their advice. The House was told by the right hon. Gentleman, when he brought forward these extraordinary punishments, that, if they would trust 682 him for only a year, he would give an assurance that no alterations would be made. But they were gone in a week. Drunkenness was the great crime in the Army, and he suggested the introduction among the punishments for soldiers of what used to be called the "Drunkard's Cloak."
§ MR. CHILDERS
I trust the House will not consent to the adjournment of the debate, for it is absolutely necessary that the Bill should pass this House tonight, in order that it may pass both Houses before Easter. Unless it passes to-night, there will be very great inconvenience in connection with the adjournment of both Houses of Parliament for the Easter Recess. After so strong a division and so decisive a majority as there was a short time ago, I trust the House will allow the Bill to pass.
§ Question put.
§ The House, divided:—Ayes 20; Noes 100: Majority 80.—(Div. List, No. 180.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
stated that he had voted by mistake in the wrong Lobby, and added that he had no sympathy with the Conservative Obstructives.
§ CAPTAIN PRICE
rose to move to insert words providing that the punishment inflicted on a soldier should not be of a character to degrade the British uniform. The House, he said, were taking care that there should be no injury to life or limb, and that none of the punishments should be in the nature of torture; but he wished to go a little further. Looking back over the last two or three years to the discussions in that House, and the great stress laid upon the degrading nature of flogging, he thought it right that any punishment substituted for flogging should not in itself be degrading to the men or to the British uniform. If a soldier were tied to a cart in his uniform, and so marched through a country, that would be highly degrading. It would impress every civilized person who saw a soldier so tied up with a feeling of horror and detestation, and he thought nothing would act more as a deterrent to enlistment in the Army than such a punishment. He hoped the Secretary of State for War would assent to the Amendment.
In page 3, line 28, after the word "limb," to insert the words "shall not in its character be degrading to the British uniform."—(Captain Price.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. CHILDERS
I sympathize with the object of the hon. and gallant Member, and it would be our object to see that the punishment should not be in one sense "degrading;" but it would be absurd to use the word when the punishments have, in many cases, to be inflicted for degrading offences. Considering the meanings that might be attached to the Amendment, I certainly hope the House will not agree to it.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Clause 6 (Abolition of Corporal Punishment).
In page 4, line 39, at end, to add "without prejudice to anything done or suffered in pursuance of the said section, and the finding and sentence of any such Court held before the commencement of this Act may be confirmed and carried into effect after such commencement"—(Mr. Secretary Childers.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added.".
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
observed, that the House had been discussing these punishments during the whole evening; and yet he believed that scarcely a Member, especially below the Gangway, had realized what sort of punishments might be inflicted. The important consideration was the great responsibility to be placed on the Secretary of State for War; and he wished solemnly to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought that what he had put into the Bill would enable a commanding officer, in the face of the enemy, to deal with those disgraceful scenes which, he was sorry to say, sometimes took place, and whether he believed that discipline could be maintained, without which our Army would most certainly be disgraced?
§ MR. CHILDERS
I will repeat what I said the other day, quoting from the 684 speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon on the Army Discipline Bill in 1879. He said distinctly that the Government had consulted their Military Advisers on the question; but that the proposals made to Parliament were made on the responsibility of the Ministers, not of their Advisers, and beyond that no Minister ought to go.
SIR HENRY FLETCHER
reminded the House that the proposed rules would not come into force till December, 1881, in India and Africa, and that among the troops in those countries corporal punishment would remain in force until that date.
SIR HENRY FLETCHER
further observed, that some of our troops were shut up in the Transvaal, and might not be relieved until the end of the year; and he wished to clearly understand whether corporal punishment would be in force till then?
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. CHILDERS
I have now to appeal to the House on a matter upon which I hope, after the division we have had, the appeal will not be considered unreasonable. It is absolutely necessary, in order that the Bill may become law in time, that it should be read a third time to-night, so that it may be sent to the House of Lords and passed through the various stages in that House before Easter. I make that appeal, feeling sure that it will be assented to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Secretary Childers.)
§ EARL PERCY
said, he was quite aware that the Bill must be passed by a certain date, and that otherwise the Government might be in a dilemma; but it appeared to him to be the deliberate intention of the Government to run everything to the end, and then to resort to this extraordinary means of passing them through the House. After all necessity for urgency was over, they had passed several Bills, when they might perfectly well have taken up the Army Discipline Bill, which was of much greater importance, and got it through its early stages.
§ MR. CHILDERS
That is not so. We brought in the Bill on the first day on which it could be introduced. The Report would have been taken on Friday; but, at the request of Gentlemen opposite, I postponed it until today, but stated that if I did so it would be necessary to take the third reading to-night.
thought it was probably true that there had been no delay in regard to this particular Bill; but he considered that the remarks of his noble Friend (Earl Percy) were quite justified by the conduct of the Government generally. He hoped that if the right hon. Gentleman's appeal was agreed to, he would not take advantage of that and always carry on the Business in such a manner, and so drive the House into a corner.
§ MR. ASHMEAD - BARTLETT
complained of misrepresentations—which were, no doubt, accidental and not intentional—on the part of hon. Members on the other side of the House, as to the views of hon. Members who opposed the Bill. It had been said that they were opposing the Bill because they were favour of punishment by the lash; but that was a misdescription. They realized that the alternatives were shooting—which was death; or the still more degrading punishment of being tied to a cart or a horse. They distinctly asked the Government to state in the Schedule to the Bill what punishments they proposed to substitute for the lash. This the Government had not had the courage to do. They had had the matter under consideration for 12 months; they had, after all this deliberation, made the proposition of the cart tail, and then given it up this evening in a perfect panic. Hon. Members were perfectly justified in asking the Government to distinctly state what punishments they proposed; and he thought the Government had shown a singular deficiency in courage.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.