HC Deb 22 March 1894 vol 22 cc894-5

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, he did not wish to oppose the, Bill, but he did wish to say that his right hon. Friend promised that the Bill should be obtainable in the Vote Office before——


I have explained that.


was aware of this, but was not satisfied with the explanation that had been given. It was all very well to say they ought to allow the Bill to be read a second time without Debate. As he understood it, the Bill concerned the comfort especially of the private soldiers, and whether the Government liked it or not they would be compelled in the future to take more notice, of the comfort and convenience of the private soldiers than they had done before, because even if the soldiers could not vote their friends could. Now that the franchise had been extended the friends of the soldiers would take more interest in such questions, and would insist that in future the soldiers should he better looked after. As the Bill largely concerned their welfare, comfort, and perhaps even their lives, they ought, before the Second Reading, to know if the Bill contained any new matter.


My hon. Friend has asked me whether there is any new matter in the Bill this year. There are only two or three Amendments of a purely verbal kind, merely of this nature—to insert the year 1893 instead of the previous year where reference is made to some previous Act of Parliament which was altered last year. There is just one exception to these verbal Amendments. My hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh brought forward a Motion last year enabling soldiers to be assisted by counsel when they were tried before District Courts Martial. J have promised to introduce a wind or two in order to carry out that which was obviously the intention and the wish of the House. That is entirely in the direction of extending the comfort and welfare of the soldiers, so that I do not think the hon. Gentleman will object. That is the only alteration. The main point is this—this is a Second Reading which affirms the principle that the law is to be applied to a certain number of soldiers and marines of the numbers voted by Parliament. The question before the House is the principle of the Bill. When we come to the Committee stage my hon. Friend may raise any objection he likes, but this is not the time to do so.


did not think, after the undertaking which had been given that they should have a proper opportunity of discussing the Bill on the Committee stage, that there should be any opposition to the Second Heading. At the same time, he did not quite agree that the Second Beading of a Bill of this kind should be considered absolutely a matter of course.


I did not say so. If the hon. Gentleman objects to applying military law to the whole force of the Crown, that is the point.


said, it was, of course, rather a serious matter, because it deprived nearly 250,000 of our subjects of their civil rights. He did not say it was not a thing to be done, but it was a serious thing, especially in the case of a Bill the Second Beading of which was to be passed sub silentio, and which had not yet been printed. He thought, however, that upon this occasion the Bill should be allowed to pass the Second Reading in consideration of the undertaking that in Committee there should be a proper opportunity of discussion.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday, 29th March.