HC Deb 27 March 1885 vol 296 cc957-60

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)


said, he had given Notice to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General yesterday, when this Bill was under consideration, that he would propose an Amendment in reference to the enlistment of recruits in a direction which he had indicated at the time. He therefore proposed to move that the Bill should be re-committed, for the purpose of enabling him to bring up the Amendment of which he had given Notice. The object of the Amendment which he proposed to insert in the Bill was to repeal Section 81 of the Army Act of 1881, for the purpose of substituting a clause to provide that a recruit should be discharged from service if, within a week of the date of his attestation, he paid to the attesting magistrate a sum not exceeding £2; or within a month a sum of £5, or at any time within three months a sum not exceeding £10, "unless, &c." And there he took up the remaining portion of the clause as it stood in the Act of 1881. The change which he proposed to make would have this effect—that if within a week from the time of attestation the recruit wished to leave the Army, he would be entitled to do so on payment of a sum of £2, instead of £10, as at the present time; if a period of more than a week but less than a month should have elapsed, then he should be entitled to his discharge on payment of £5, and for any period over a month the Regulations should remain as at present. He thought an Amendment to this effect would meet an unquestionable grievance. It was generally admitted to be unfair and harsh to force the recruit who repented of his action the moment after he had enlisted to pay a sum of £10 for his discharge. If the Amendment he was going to move were accepted by the Government, it would do away with the grievance to a great extent; in fact, would leave nothing to be complained of. It was unnecessary for him to enter into any lengthened argument as to this claim. The question had been fully discussed that morning, and, he thought, had been generally admitted as a grievance by the Judge Advocate General. A remedy had been strongly urged by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House who knew a good deal about Army matters. He put the proposal forward for the consideration of the Government, and trusted they would see their way to accept it as a compromise which would suit the views of hon. Gentlemen on the other side below the Gangway. He begged to move that the Bill be re-committed for the purpose of inserting the clause he had read.


said, he begged to second the proposal. It was said that morning that an opportunity would be afforded for bringing the Amendment forward; but how that opportunity could be given, seeing that there was no Report stage, he could not imagine.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "be" to the end of. the Question, in order to add the words "re-committed in respect of a new Clause,"—(Mr. Kenny,) —instead thereof.

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


I have made some inquiry on this subject to-day, but have not had time to conduct the inquiry as fully as I could have wished. I am informed that there is usually a considerable interval allowed between the time a recruit is enlisted and his attestation, and that, under ordinary circumstances, he has every opportunity of changing his mind before he is finally admitted into the ranks. It is conceivable that in some cases there may be a grievance; but there is certainly, on the part of the Military Authorities, under the present system, no desire to obtain an advantage of recruits who are unwilling to enter the Service. I could not accept the clause moved by the hon. Member; but if it is not pressed I will undertake to look into the matter, and to endeavour, before next year, to frame certain Regulations, or to have them framed, or to have such provision made in the Act as will enable the recruit to obtain his discharge on payment of a small sum within the time he has put the country to no very considerable expense. But after a man has received his uniform, and has put the country to considerable expense, I do not think he should have undue facilities for leaving the Army out of mere caprice. So far as I can make out, there does not seem to be any real grievance in this respect at present; but, in view of hardship being possible, I will undertake to look into the matter.


said, that under the circumstances, the noble Marquess having undertaken to look into the matter, it would be unnecessary for him to press his Motion. He thought the un- dertaking of the noble Marquess would quite meet the necessity of the case. He might be permitted to point out that, under Clause 81 as it stood, Regulations could be easily made to provide for the case, because the wording was" a sum not exceeding £10."Any sum could be fixed that the authorities thought proper.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Forward to