HC Deb 02 March 1885 vol 294 cc1803-6

Her Majesty's Message considered.

Message again read.

THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON moved— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, thanking Her Majesty for Her Most Gracious Message communicating to this House that Her Majesty had thought it necessary to order, by Proclamation, the embodiment of Militia.


said, he had no desire to prevent the House proceeding to other Business; but he wished to urge on the noble Marquess the desirability of making up the Militia to its full strength. It was high time that something should be done for this purpose. The Militia was now far below its proper standard. The noble Marquess said, on a previous occasion, that something had been done; but whereas the strength of the Militia was 99,000 last year, and was to be brought up to 105,000 men this year, yet the maximum establishment was 144,000 men. He was thankful for small mercies. Still, this was mere trifling with an important matter. If this was, as the Proclamation declared, "a great emergency," surely it was desirable the Militia should be brought up to its full strength. As an old Guardsman, he had thought it was a very strong measure to send the Guards out; but if that step was necessary, it showed the necessity also of dealing at once liberally with the Militia. He could not conceive that there could be any difficulty about the matter at the present time. There was a very depressed state of trade, and there could be no better opportunity for the Government than the present to bring up the Militia to its full strength. It seemed that there were only six regiments to be embodied; but he should like to know if, under this Proclamation, it was in the power of the noble Marquess to embody the whole of the Militia if the Government thought it necessary to do so, and if it was intended to provide any portion of the Militia for regular service abroad? Of course, in making these remarks, it was impossible for him to say what the Government might have in view as to the future—in the Campaign in the Soudan, or elsewhere; or as to the sending of White troops to India to take the place of Indian troops sent to the Soudan.


urged that it would be useless to call out the Infantry Militia alone. Two regiments of Artillery Militia ought also to be embodied and employed in preparation for coast defence.


said, that the object of the embodiment of certain Militia regiments, as had been already stated, was to fill up the places j of Line regiments now doing duty abroad. Six battalions of Militia In- fantry and two brigades of Militia Artillery had been embodied to relieve the troops remaining in this country of a portion of the garrison duty, which would otherwise press heavily upon them. The noble Lord asked him if they had the power, under the present Proclamation, of calling out more battalions if they required them? Undoubtedly, they had power, without any further Proclamation, to call out the whole Militia Force of the country; but the power was, of course, limited by the money voted by Parliament. It would be necessary, on the Vote of Credit and Supplementary Estimates, to inform the House of the limit of their intentions with regard to the future embodiment of the Militia. He might say that at present no extension of the ordinary terms had been offered to the Militia. Recruiting from the Militia was, however, improving, and the numbers were increasing. No doubt, the Militia was below its establishment; but he really did not know how the numbers of the Militia Establishment had been arrived at. Certainly, the Militia had never been up to its full establishment; but he believed that it was now as full as it had ever been. The suggestions made should have his best consideration.


said, he thought that before the Vote was taken the House should have some explanation of a recent speech of Lord Wolseley. In his capacity of Commander-in-Chief in the Soudan he had addressed a number of friendlies, telling them that the Forces of Her Majesty intended to remain in the Soudan, if necessary, for 100 years, until the Mahdi had been crushed. He thought that Lord Wolseley should not be allowed to hold language of that character, and further compromise this country with the Natives of the Soudan. They might try to overturn the Mahdi, but probably they would before long give up that nonsense; but, in the meantime, Lord Wolseley ought to be informed that he was in the Soudan to carry out military operations, and not to compromise the honour and credit of the country.

Motion agreed to. Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, thanking Her Majesty for Her Most Gracious Message communicating to this House that Her Majesty had thought it necessary to order, by Proclamation, the em- bodiment of Militia.—(The Marquess of Hartington.)

To be presented by Privy Councillors.

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