HC Deb 07 June 1888 vol 326 cc1403-4

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether, before proceeding to the third reading of the National Defence Bill, he will ascertain, by detailed Returns called for from each Volunteer regiment in the Kingdom, how many men in each regiment would be willing to be permanently embodied for garrison duty for a period exceeding two months; also, in each case, what remuneration would be considered by them as sufficient inducement for their being taken away thus from their ordinary occupations and the support of their families; and, in case it should be found that the average rate of wage earning of the men consenting to be thus embodied ranges between 25s. and 30s. a-week, whether he will allow it to be definitely ascertained what the total cost per month and year of such embodiment of the Volunteers would be, and from what source the funds for meeting it are proposed to be obtained hereafter; also, whether the right hon. Gentleman will undertake before the third reading stage of the National Defence Bill is reached, which provides for the permanent embodiment of the Volunteers whenever the Militia are embodied, to lay before the House a detailed Return showing on what dates each Militia regiment was embodied on the two separate occasions of the breaking out of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny; also showing for how many years and months each regiment remained thus embodied, and in the case where a regiment proceeded out of England to the Mediterranean or elsewhere, the period in years and months during which regiment served outside of the United Kingdom?

THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

As far as my means of ascertaining go, the National Defence Bill has been heartily accepted by the Volunteers as a whole, who recognize that there is no intention by this Bill to alter the purpose for which they were raised, but simply to render their services more available when an invasion of this country appears imminent. Although the National Defence Bill gives the Government for the time being the power to embody the Volunteers whenever the Militia is embodied, neither this nor any other Government would ever resort to such a measure except in a time of the greatest national emergency. As, therefore, there is no intention of embodying the Volunteers for garrison duty like the Militia, I do not see that any special advantage would arise from calling for the Returns asked for by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Whenever the country was in real danger I am certain that every Volunteer would come forward; and, short of that, no Government would ask them to do so.