§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
My Lords, after the debate which passed in this House two nights ago, and the general opinion which has been expressed both in this and in the other House and by the country, that we have not at the present moment a sufficient body of troops in the Crimea for carrying on the war with efficiency, and that, on the other hand, there is not at this moment in the country a sufficient reserve to support that army in case of emergency, I do not think it likely that the Motion with which I shall con- 254 clude will meet with any opposition. The Bill which I now speak of is one which I laid on the table of the House on the first night of the Session to enable Her Majesty to enlist foreigners to serve as officers and soldiers in the Queen's forces. I find that, in former times, this power was considered to exist in the Crown, and it has been exercised by the Crown on frequent occasions—sometimes commented on by Parliament, and at other times acceded to without remark; until the year 1794, when a Motion was made in the House of Commons disapproving of the course which had been taken in that year of introducing foreign troops into the country, to be trained to assist in our war. Although that Motion was lost, yet, in consequence of the feeling then manifested against the subsidising of foreign troops, it was thought desirable to have an Act of Parliament, to enable the Sovereign to enlist foreign troops for the service of the country. The first Act which I find was passed in that very year 1794, and was to enable the King to raise foreign troops, apparently principally French, to assist in carrying on the war in which we were at that time engaged. The next Act was passed in 1804, the object of which was to enable the Sovereign to enlist principally Germans, although under it other foreigners were enlisted. Under that Act, and another passed in the following year, a great number of foreigners were enlisted under various denominations. [The Earl of DERBY: The last Act was passed in 1806.] The noble Earl is correct. It was in the 46th of Geo. III. The forces so raised were Corsicans, a Greek force, a German Legion, and various forces of other denominations. The Greek force was not entirely composed of Greeks, but included other nationalities. It has always been found desirable to enlist foreigners, especially at the commencement of a war, on account of the difficulty which, in the first instance, must exist in this country, which has no immediate system for bringing into the field a large and trained force. The military systems of other countries give much greater facilities in that respect. We have no Landwehr, as in Prussia, nor any other system by which men are trained for a certain number of years, and then returned into the civil community, always available with a sufficient knowledge of the art of war, and easily to be called together for further training in the event of hostilities occurring. Having no such system here, all that can 255 be done when war breaks out is to raise as many recruits as possible, who are of course completely raw, without any previous training; and, except in cases of emergency, it is not desirable that troops so raised should be sent out of the country without at least six or seven months' training. That is necessary—not because they would not fight well, for I believe that British troops would fight as well on the day they are raised as they would after six months' training—but on account of the advantage of discipline and habits of body requisite to be imparted by drill and the training of military life. I have alluded to the jealousy which has been expressed by Parliament on former occasions in reference to the introduction of foreign troops into this country, and in consequence of that it has been customary to limit the number—not, of course, of the foreign force which might serve the Sovereign, but the number to be brought into the country. By the Act of 1794 the number was limited to 5,000 men. By the Act of 1804 that number was extended to 10,000, and the subsequent Act of 1806 still further increased the number to 16,000, at which it remained until the close of the war in 1815. Before I proceed further, it is desirable that I should state that the Government, acknowledging the constitutional principle involved in this question, and conceiving that it was due to Parliament that its opinion should be asked before any step was taken, have not made any official communication to any foreign Government in reference to any proposed enlistment of any of their subjects, and the Government do not propose to do so until the present Bill has passed into law. We have not thought it right to make any such communication until the opinion of Parliament had been expressed upon the subject; but, having explained it, and not anticipating any opposition to it, I trust your Lordships will not think the Bill requires any very lengthened consideration, but will pass it with all possible rapidity, in order that we may make the necessary communications as soon as possible. Your Lordships are probably aware that until the year 1837, except under the provisions of a special Act of Parliament, it was unlawful to enlist foreign soldiers in English regiments. We do not purpose to violate that law on the present occasion. By the Act of 1837, permission was given to the limited extent of admitting one foreigner to every fifty men in each regiment; and so the law 256 now stands, and so we purpose to leave it. We now purpose that any foreign troops which shall be raised shall be formed in separate battalions apart from the Queen's regiments. Your Lordships may perhaps desire to know from what countries we expect to raise our forces. I do not think it desirable under the circumstances—no communication having been made to foreign Governments—to mention whence these troops are likely to come; but your Lordships will be aware of certain districts of Germany and Switzerland and other countries which are most likely to furnish troops to enlist in the Queen's service, and I do not feel justified in speaking more particularly on that point until the communications I have referred to have been made. As I have said, in the last war the greatest body of foreign troops who served us in those campaigns was the German Legion, not only Hanoverians, but others; and those noble Lords who remember the events of that war will bear me out in saying that throughout those campaigns those troops rivalled our own in bravery and services rendered. From 1807 to the battle of Waterloo, in 1815, there was scarcely a siege or battle of any importance in which the German Legion did not take part. If the measure which I now submit to your Lordships should receive the sanction of Parliament, the force which we should raise under it would not be an army of raw recruits, as in this country, but would consist of trained soldiers, who have gone through, in all probability, at least three years' training, and only require to be brought together and officered to be ready for any service. I say a limit has always been placed upon the number proposed to be raised as a foreign legion. We have thought that in the present aspect of affairs it is desirable to take a considerable number, and we purpose to limit the number to be drilled and trained in this country at any one time to 15,000 men. The Bill is so extremely simple in its character that it hardly requires any further explanation at my hands; but if any noble Lord should entertain any doubts upon the question, I shall be most happy to give any further explanation that may be necessary. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
My Lords, when the noble Duke first announced the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to enable the Govern- 257 ment to enlist foreign troops, my impression was that the Government intended to raise a small force, and that all they wanted was the authority of Parliament to retain in this country the depôts of two or three corps—an object for which the intervention of Parliament would be absolutely necessary. I confess I felt the greatest possible repugnance to even the qualified admission of two or three depôts of foreign troops to be permitted to remain in this country; but when I read this Bill this morning I was completely astonished; for, taking this Bill in connection with the Bill brought into the other House to enable Her Majesty to accept the services of certain regiments of militia, for the declared purpose of garrisoning fortresses in the Mediterranean, the practical effect of this measure will be to substitute in this country 15,000 foreigners for 15,000 British militiamen who are to be employed abroad. ["No, no!"] I take a perfectly legitimate, Parliamentary, and constitutional view of the effect of this measure; if the measure gives that power, I am entitled to consider that the power will be exercised. I say, then, to that exercise of the power of substituting in this country 15,000 Germans or Swiss for 15,000 English soldiers I absolutely object. I do not think there has been anything in the conduct of the people of this country since the commencement of the war which would justify the Government in assuming that they are not ready to bear all the sacrifices that may be demanded of them—there is nothing to justify the conclusion that they are either unable or unwilling to maintain their own national interests by their own national arms. On the contrary, the people have submitted with perfect readiness to the sacrifices demanded from them, and are willing to submit to further sacrifices for the prosecution of the war. The circumstances under which the various Acts to which the noble Duke has referred were passed were totally different from the circumstances existing at the present moment. At that time the foreigners whom we recruited to serve in our armies were the subjects of States which had been subjugated or threatened by France, and in our army, in our pay, they were fighting in fact for their own several countries. Many of them were the subjects of the State of Hanover, and might be regarded as the subjects of an allied Power. Circumstances now are totally different; yet at the commencement 258 of this popular and national war we are desired to go back to old times, to hire Hessians, instead of employing the constitutional force of this country; and we are asked to do so without the assertion on the part of the War Minister of one single circumstance to establish the necessity of the measure. The noble Duke should have told us what were the difficulties of recruiting; he should have told us what the demand for men was; he should have told us why he has failed in obtaining the men necessary to fill the ranks. Because he rejected the suggestions which were offered to him, are we therefore to sacrifice a constitutional principle? Are we to substitute foreigners for Englishmen in order to make up for the laches of the Government which have led to the difficulty in which we are now placed? From the year 1828 until the year 1841 I had the good fortune of being very much in communication with the late Sir Robert Peel. It is understood that the majority —the influential majority—of the Government now in office represent the feelings, the principles, and the opinions of Sir Robert Peel—that the mantle of Elijah has descended upon my noble Friend now at the head of the Government. I will not pretend that my opportunities of intercourse with Sir Robert Peel were at all to be compared with those of my noble Friend; but at the same time, having been three times in office—having during thirteen years been aware of all the operations of the party which Sir Robert Peel directed—I think I may assume that I am tolerably well acquainted with the character of his mind and with the general view which he took of public affairs; and I say with the most perfect confidence, that to this measure he never would have assented. I am satisfied of that, because I know that, having been for a great length of time Home Secretary in this country, he would primarily have looked to the extreme inconvenience, the extreme difficulty, the extreme danger, which would have arisen had 15,000 troops, or any portion of them, been on any occasion called out—as they might probably have been—for the purpose of preserving the peace among the people of England. My Lords, we have to prevent riots at elections; we cannot prevent disputes between masters and workmen, but they frequently render necessary the intervention of troops. The most serious riots I ever recollect were connected with the measure respecting corn. Last year your Lord- 259 ships may remember very serious riots took place, in consequence of it being supposed that the bakers did not lower their prices in proportion to the reduced price of corn. On that occasion troops were called out. If this Bill had been the law at that time those troops might have been Germans; and what would have been the consequence? That the whole population would have been fighting against the troops. In every case that would happen, and depend upon it, if such an unfortunate occasion should arise, the result would be that the Government would be called upon and compelled to assent to the extradition of the foreign troops from this country. One of the advantages of the war to which I have always looked forward as compensating in a great measure for many of the sufferings which the people must endure during its continuance was this—that when peace returns, we might have distributed through the country, as officers and as retired soldiers, a vast number of persons accustomed to war —men of military habits, who, during any lengthened periods of peace, would constitute the great source of the security of the country. During the long peace which has existed we have exhausted altogether the admixture of experienced soldiers whom the conclusion of the previous war had thrown among our population, and the number of old soldiers who have returned from the Indian campaigns is, I regret to say, very small. We began this war with very few soldiers indeed who had seen actual service in the field, but from the presence of a number of such persons, distributed throughout the country, the Government derives the greatest possible advantage, strength, and security, and, as far as this Bill goes, in substituting foreigners for Englishmen, no doubt the extent of that security will be diminished. We have been told—and I think a somewhat exaggerated view has been taken of the subject—that there has been a very great improvement in the moral condition and character of Her Majesty's troops; that that improvement has not only not impeded their services in the field, but has materially contributed to their efficiency, and that very few occasions have occurred upon which the interference of the Judge Advocate has been necessary. Now, my Lords, considering that the troops have been acting in a desert where there is no population, where there is no property belonging to anybody, and that the only persons with whom they can by possibility have communicated were their own com- 260 rades, I do not think, up to this moment, that any very material argument can be drawn from that circumstance. But I will assume all the advantages which are understood to be derived from the good conduct of the troops, and I ask what security have you for the conduct of the German soldiers or any other foreigners whom we may enlist? Does the recruiting sergeant look to any moral qualifications? No; he only regards the physical qualifications of his recruits. He sees that they are of a certain standard, that they are sound in wind and limb, and he at once accepts them. If, then, you value the moral character of your soldiers, you are to some extent endangering that moral character by placing beside them, and in connection with them, troops for whose moral character you have no security. I am far from being disposed to say anything derogating from the capabilities of Germans or other foreigners as soldiers. Under good discipline and good officers they make, undoubtedly, very respectable soldiers; but they are not equal to the soldiers of England and of France. Had one of these German regiments which it is now proposed to form been placed between two English regiments at the battle of Inkerman, is there any man who can believe that that German regiment would have stood and fought as the British regiments fought and fell? No man would believe they could. Only consider the danger of having a line of battle of unequal strength. If that line be forced in any part, there is danger to the whole. Had a German regiment given way at Inkerman under the Russian assault, the circumstance must have been altogether fatal to the whole army of the Allies. Now, these being my objections to the employment of foreigners under any circumstances, I will mention the suggestions which were offered last Session to the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle), and which were rejected by him. At the very commencement of this war I earnestly recommended Her Majesty's Ministers to establish one uniform system of police throughout the whole country, not solely for the purpose of assisting in the general administration of justice and of putting down crime, but because I believe such a force to be in war the best foundation for a good, efficient, and ready military system. I know that, in practice, there are no recruiting officers so useful as policemen. They know all the characters who are most likely to enlist in the militia, and 261 they are induced by the bounty they receive to bring them in. The police thus most materially contribute to obtaining recruits for the militia, and I desired to make this system the foundation of the force. At the same time—that is, nine months ago—I earnestly recommended that the whole militia should be called out. That measure Her Majesty's Government now adopts; but what would have been the condition of the country had my suggestion been acted upon at the time I made it? We should not have required this measure for the introduction of foreigners. We should not be in any difficulty—if we be in difficulty—as to finding German troops for the accomplishment of national purposes; but a full militia would have supplied everywhere all the recruits required for the service of the Army. But my suggestion was repudiated. It was one which the Government did not think it worth while to consider, and it was almost contumeliously rejected. I also recommended that in order to secure recruiting for the militia—which can always be effected when persons of influence will endeavour to exercise their influence for the purpose—a pecuniary flue should be imposed upon the districts in which the requisite number of recruits was not obtained. I know that in practice such fine would hardly ever, if ever, be imposed, because the exertions of individuals, stimulated by the apprehension of a fine, combined with the general distribution of the police, would be sufficient to fill the ranks of the militia at all times. We were told, when the suggestion was made, that the people were coming forward willingly and generously, and that at that time such a measure would be injurious. But what does the noble Duke now propose? Not a pecuniary fine, but that to which every possible objection exists—recourse to the ballot. Her Majesty's Ministers now mention the ballot as a possible resource! I ventured to suggest a pecuniary fine, which know would never have been levied; but that suggestion was repudiated like all others, because last Session Her Majesty's Ministers were in a dream from which they have since awakened—they had not yet made up their mind to the magnitude of the undertaking upon which they were embarking. I will not on the present occasion go further into this subject. It would be inconvenient if I were now to touch on the general conduct of the war, upon which there will be other 262 opportunities of expressing my opinion, but I will repeat my determination to oppose this measure. I think it totally unnecessary. I think it is injurious and offensive to the people, who have already done so much, and who show such a disposition to submit to any sacrifice for the purpose of carrying on the war. I oppose the measure because I think it will give us an inferior description of force, and that it may lead to very serious consequences in the general administration of this country. It is contrary to all the constitutional principles which obtained in the best times of what was called "Whig Administration." Its origin is to be found in those times when a Ministry succumbed to the German disposition and prejudices of the first George. It is not in accordance with the more recent feelings of the people of this country. I object to it altogether, and it will be my duty throughout to offer to it every opposition.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
I do not rise to enter into the merits or demerits of this measure, but I feel bound to reply to one part of the observations of the noble Earl, in which he said that the foreign regiments are not to be compared with English regiments. I hope to Heaven you will not enlist prisoners of war, and I trust to God that you will not admit a deserter into the ranks of your foreign regiments; but I think it only an act of justice to those brave officers who are still alive, and who served in the German Legion during the last war, to state that on no occasion was that Legion second to the British army either in zeal or gallantry. In the Peninsula, the King's 1st German Infantry were attached to the division of the Guards, and were constantly brought out as a reserve when the danger was most imminent. I may mention that just before the peace was concluded, during the investment of Bayonne, a sortie was made by the garrison, and our general commanding was taken prisoner. The action was a bloody one, but the Guards and the German Legion did their duty, the one as well as the other. I felt myself bound to make this statement; and I can also say that the light troops of the King's German Legion, under the command of Sir Colin Halkett, now Governor of Chelsea Hospital, rendered as good service as any of our own light infantry, and certainly the German cavalry were quite worthy of comparison with the British. If we had had a German 263 Legion at Inkerman, I venture to say that they would have done their duty.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I regret that not one single Member of Her Majesty's Government has thought it due, either to this House or to the country, or to the powerful speech of my noble Friend (the Earl of Ellenborough), even to offer a single observation in answer to his objections to this measure, or in defence of the policy which Her Majesty's Ministers recommend. For myself, in my extreme, and perhaps overweening, anxiety not to interrupt the progress of the public business, more especially with regard to the defence of the country, I engaged, even before I saw this Bill, or knew what were its contents, that, so far as I was concerned, any opposition I might desire to offer to it should be reserved until it went into Committee, in order that not a day might be lost in the progress of the measure. Consequently, if my noble Friend who has objected to the second reading should upon this occasion divide against the Bill, it would be inconsistent with the engagement into which I entered privately with some Members of the Government, were I to give my vote for his Motion, however much I may concur in the arguments he has used. I regret, certainly, that my noble Friend, while desirous to do justice to the bravery and valour of the British troops, should have felt it necessary to draw any comparison disparaging to those gallant men who, as the German Legion, served in the late war with distinction equal to that of our own soldiers, or that he should have thought it impossible that any foreigners should vindicate their claims to similar equality when fighting with the British troops in the hour of common danger. I believe, with my noble Friend who has just sat down, that in the present war, had the old German Legion, with all their common feelings of sympathy and interest —of almost fellow-country manship, I may say—been engaged by the side of the British army, they would have fully sustained their ancient reputation, and would have had no cause of shame. But that has nothing to do with the policy and the principle of this measure. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Newcastle), in vindicating the measure, passed somewhat lightly over the constitutional objections to which it is open. He has almost raised a doubt whether it is or is not within the prerogative of the Crown, without the consent of Parliament, to raise and engage 264 foreign troops in this country as well as in the service of the Crown beyond this country; but he says it has been thought more convenient in the present instance to take the previous consent of Parliament before such an exercise of the power of the Crown, inasmuch as that this has been the practice in 1794 and 1804. But the noble Duke rather understated the case; because in 1804 not only was it found necessary to take the consent of Parliament for such employment of foreigners, but it was thought necessary to insert in the Act which was then passed a clause of indemnity for those Ministers who had undertaken to enlist foreigners in the service of the Crown without the previous consent of Parliament having been obtained. The constitutional principle—the jealousy of Parliament with regard to the introduction of foreign troops into this country—is therefore evident. But none of these precedents is of the slightest value as affecting the measure now sought to be introduced. I cannot admit for a single moment that the Acts of 1794, 1804, 1806, and 1813 have the slightest analogy to, or form the slightest precedent for, the measure which the noble Duke has brought forward. A fair and reasonable objection is taken by my noble Friend to this Bill, that it will place powers in the hands of the Government of which they may make use in an objectionable manner. Now, what took place in 1804? The noble Duke has stated, that the Act of 1804 provided that the number of these foreigners in the service of the Crown present in this country at any one time should not exceed 10,000, and the number was subsequently increased, in 1806, to 16,000 as a maximum. But who were the foreigners to whom the Acts of that period referred? The Act of 1804 provides that whereas a considerable number of foreigners, driven from their own countries, were at that time residing in England, the Crown should be permitted to avail itself of the services of these men, who were anxious for their restoration to the countries of which they were natives, and the Crown was enabled to embody and to arm a certain number of such foreigners, who were already residing in this country, whose interests and sympathies were identical with our own, and who were anxious to attain the same common object. This was also the case with regard to the German Legion, a very large proportion of which did not consist of foreigners at all. Her 265 Majesty's Government seem to have forgotten that in 1804 and 1806 the Crowns of England and of Hanover were united, and therefore the Hanoverians were not foreigners, but were subjects of the Sovereign of this country, whose battles they were fighting. I hope they felt en interest in the glory, in the safety, and in the independence of the dominions of that Sovereign; but is there no distinction to be drawn between men in that position, and men who have no sympathies or interest in common with the people of this country?
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
was understood to ask how the noble Earl knew that the foreigners who were to be enlisted did not possess the same sympathies or interest?]
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
Why, the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) has admitted that his colleagues do not know whence the foreign troops whom they propose to embody are to be drawn. Are they to be obtained from Greece, or from Tunis, or from what quarter of the world?
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
I did not say that Her Majesty's Government did not know from what quarter they would obtain such troops—I said that until communications had been made to the Governments of foreign countries I did not think it would be right for me to make any statement on the subject. I regret that the noble Earl should be so anxious to return to his old habit of misrepresenting the statements of Her Majesty's Ministers.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I was happy to see that the noble Duke, while making his defence last night, was more humble and civil than usual; but I am sorry to see that he is returning to his youthful habits, which are not quite in accordance with the courtesy which is usually exhibited in the House of Peers. A noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll) intimates that there is a sympathy between those foreigners whom it is intended to employ, and the people of this country. He may know that there is such sympathy, but Parliament does not know it. If the noble Duke knows whence he is going to draw these forces, he has not condescended to communicate that knowledge to Parliament, and, until Parliament knows whence they are to be obtained, there is an additional reason for that constitutional jealousy which is entertained to the employment of foreigners in the service of this country, and more especially in a position connected with the maintenance of the peace of the country. I think, then, there are reason- 266 able grounds for apprehension, when a Bill is brought forward and treated by the Government as a matter of course, under which you are to send out your own troops from this country, and to substitute for them on home service, to be placed in charge of your arsenals and your towns, and to be intrusted with the preservation of the public peace, a foreign garrison, provided it does not exceed 15,000 men—I think there is some ground for jealousy en the part of Parliament and the people, and some necessity for a little further information. In 1804, as I have already said, a large portion of the troops you enlisted were subjects of the same Sovereign as your own army, and were enlisted in the same cause. A large portion of them were subjects of a Monarch who had been deposed, and with whom we were in alliance, and whom we were seeking to replace on his throne, and many were subjects of nations which had been overridden and subjugated by the power of France. With all these men we had a common cause; they were fighting for their own nationalities, for their own interests, and for their own countrymen, and thus you had a security that they would fight with gallantry and vigour in the same cause in which your own countrymen were enlisted. But where are you about to draw your forces from now? You refuse to tell us? Are you going to establish a Polish Legion?—there would be something like significance in such a course as that. In that case there would be something like nationality and a common interest involved in the promotion of hostilities against Russia. Whence are you about to draw them? The Government appear to be about to draw their troops from any quarter of the globe who may be ready to come for the sake of their pay alone, and are to be more mercenary soldiers, enlisted into our service and placed beside British troops. I say, then, that this is a question of grave importance—of great constitutional importance—when we find that the Government at this period of the war, after no less than two years' experience of the immediate prospect of the war, are compelled to come down to Parliament with the humiliating confession that, with more than 28,000,000 of population in England, Ireland, and Scotland, they are unable to send an army of 50,000 men to the scene of hostilities without drawing away the troops from our garrisons abroad and placing themselves in humiliating reliance upon the aid of mer- 267 cenary foreigners. Talk of giving encouragement to the Emperor of Russia!—I ask what encouragement could be so great as to find that the War Minister of the Crown, in the first year of the war, is obliged to come down to Parliament and declare that our military resources are exhausted, that he cannot draw upon our garrisons without—[The Duke of NEWCASTLE: Hear, hear!] What does the noble Duke mean? I trust that I may argue this matter with somewhat more calmness than the noble Duke, and, I hope, without being personally offensive. I trust, also, that, at any rate, I may submit the observations I may have to make with more calmness than the noble Duke seems disposed to exhibit in listening to them. I take this Bill, my Lords, in conjunction with the whole scheme for augmenting the military forces of the country, which have been submitted to Parliament by the advice of the Crown. Three measures have been propounded, and those three measures it is impossible to separate. We must take them as part of the same plan, and we must compare them as bearing the one upon the other. These three measures announced by the noble Duke the Secretary for War are, first, for increasing the number of companies of regiments on active service, and increasing them in such a manner as to render eight companies out of sixteen available for service in the field; four are to form a sort of advanced guard in the Mediterranean, and the remainder are to remain at depôts at home. To that proposal I not only take no objection, but I say, that so far as I am competent to form an opinion, a better arrangement it would be impossible to make, and I give the Government entire credit for that part of their scheme. Indeed, I believe that this measure alone, followed up by giving encouragement to enlistment, and to reinforcing the line from the militia, would have been, in itself, most effective. But two other measures have been placed upon the paper; and, my Lords, I certainly cannot take the measure I have just referred to as unconnected with the Militia Bill, which is not for the purpose of encouraging recruiting from the militia to the line, but for transferring a portion of the militia from that service for which they were specially raised, and for which they are specially adapted, to another description of service, for which they were not specially raised, and for which they are 268 not specially or peculiarly adapted. When the Government admitted that they had not the means of maintaining our garrisons in the Mediterranean, and, at the same time, of providing for and carrying on the war, I concluded that, if they had the means of supplying our Mediterranean garrisons from other quarters, then, only as a last resource, would they take the militia from their proper and constitutional duties and service in this country. I therefore think I am justified in saying that the Government have confessed their means to be insufficient to do that which they desired to do, namely, to prosecute the war with vigour, and, at the same time, to maintain our garrisons in the Mediterranean, without denuding the country of its constitutional defenders, and substituting in their place the 15,000 foreigners it is proposed to raise. When I compare the Militia Bill now introduced with that which preceded it, and with which Her Majesty's Government have announced this Bill to be in accordance, I confess that I find one or two points which disagree so signally as almost entirely to alter the whole character of the measure. The Bill of 1814, the 54 Geo. III. c. i., was to authorise His Majesty to enlist portions of certain regiments of the militia, either as provisional battalions or to supply companies to regiments of the line. That was at the close of the war in 1814, and at that time what number of militia were actually embodied in the country? There were, I believe, from 60,000 to 80,000 men, besides the yeomanry, who had been embodied for a considerable time, and who discharged their duties as disciplined and trained soldiers. But in that Militia Bill there was an important provision, that not more than 30,000 out of the whole number should leave the country, and that not more than three-fourths of any regiment should be permitted to leave the country. There was thus left remaining in the country, at all events, a large embodied force —50,000 or 60,000 men—and together with that force was admitted a body of foreigners, to an amount not exceeding 10,000 at any one time. Now, what is the case at present? I believe the whole number of militia raised is about 54,000, a very small portion of whom have as yet been embodied, and, consequently, it is only a very small portion who can be considered really trained and disciplined. At the former period there was a local militia of 200,000 men, which has no existence 269 at present. Your only force now is the 54,000 militia I have referred to; and, with regard to this force, you are taking by the Militia Bill an unlimited power to withdraw any number of regiments, or portions of them, for service in the Mediterranean. The Bill of 1814 provided—and provided, in my mind, very wisely—that not more than three-fourths of the militia should be permitted to volunteer for foreign service. Now, what was the effect of that provision? The effect of it was, that there was always remaining in the body a nucleus of trained and disciplined men, keeping up their connection with the country to which they belonged, and recruiting their forces from that country. You propose now to do no such thing. You propose to the colonels of militia regiments to volunteer with any portion of their regiments, and you provide that every man should be re-enlisted and receive a bounty for enlistment on foreign service. You have not provided for a single man of a single regiment remaining in the country, if the various regiments be willing to go abroad. And, with regard to the men who do not volunteer to go abroad, what is to become of them? So far as I can make out, their services are altogether lost to the country. They would not be performing any of the duties of their regiments, and there is no provision for making their services available by attaching them to any other companies. You therefore take away the militia from that service for which they are peculiarly adapted, and for which they were specifically raised, by availing yourselves of the voluntary services of an unlimited number of these regiments; and it appears to me that the services of those who do not volunteer are to be altogether dispensed with and lost to the country. It is well to say with regard to the militia that, though their services are voluntary, there is great excitement among the officers and men, and that many regiments are volunteering. I think it very possible that at tire present moment a great amount of excitement does exist, and I have no doubt that many would volunteer to go abroad, because they would consider it a sort of slur upon them if they were left behind when their comrades bad gone. But what would be the consequences to the permanent interests of the militia if they were thus converted into a totally different force from that for which they were originally intended? I can well understand that a large proportion of the officers and men of 270 the militia are men to whom it would not only be inconvenient, but to whom it would be absolute ruin, to be transferred from this country to foreign service, and yet they would most probably be willing to do their duty abroad by volunteering with the rest of their regiment for foreign service rather than be the only persons to remain here in discharge of the peculiar duties for which they first volunteered. But I would ask, after taking the regiment of a particular county to Malta, Gibraltar, or the Ionian Islands, whether upon a future occasion, when it might be desirable to raise a militia force, many men who might otherwise have been ready to volunteer would not decline rather than submit themselves to the painful alternative of being called on to volunteer for foreign service, contrary to the engagement at first made with them? Now, my Lords, by an indiscriminate enlistment of the militia—to use a vulgar proverb—you are about to "kill the goose for the sake of the golden egg." As a legally constituted force for the service of the army, from its connection with the country gentlemen and the magistrates of every county, with those in authority, with tenant and landlord and landlord and tenant, the militia force is admirable. As a nursery for the army it is invaluable; and if you will only limit your propositions to an enactment for recruiting to any extent from militia regiments into the line for foreign service, you will obtain just as many men as you will by calling upon the militia to volunteer; you will obtain the services of the men in a much more advantageous manner, you will not break up your connection between the militia and the country, and you will not render foreign troops necessary to keep your own country in order. Now, suppose a regiment, after having volunteered, be sent to Malta, from what has happened in this country we know that upon the part of some officers of the line every means of corruption will be used to induce the men to enlist for foreign service. They enlisted in the full belief that they would not be dragged away from their homes and usual avocations, but that for certain months out of five years their services were to be given to the Crown. You now propose to send these men to the Mediterranean, and I presume you will keep them there for the ordinary term of service, and not for five years only. If you were only going to send them out for a few months and bring them back again, there would be no reason why you should take 271 so expensive and onerous a mode of providing for a momentary exigency. But two years of the service of those who were first enlisted have expired, and you are therefore sending out these men, who have only three years to serve according to their original engagement, to serve in a foreign country for the whole duration of the war, which may probably be for the lives of most of them. In my humble opinion it would be much better for the country that the militia should remain at home, and be raised to the highest state of efficiency. You can practise, train, and drill these men here, and then you can encourage them to give their services in a legitimate manner by enlisting into the line. By this means you would not be separating them from their ordinary duties, and from the counties to which they belong. It would, no doubt, be most inconvenient to many of your Lordships to be sent out to Malta or Gibraltar for four or five years; but if you belonged to a militia regiment, where the officers and men volunteered to go out, you would hold yourselves bound to accompany them. Many of the officers of militia regiments are county magistrates and persons in authority, and to send them on foreign service would be to create serious difficulty without increasing the military efficiency of the country. And now, why did I combine the question of the militia, which is not before us, with the question of foreign forces? It was because I hold it part and parcel of the same scheme. You are to pay for sending out a large force of our own subjects from this country, and you are to provide for the introduction of a large force of foreigners to take their place here. If you want foreigners, enlist them for foreign service, to join your army in the field, and, provided they come from unsuspected sources, are well trained, and not more mercenary troops, I have no objection. But it is a most humiliating confession that, before we have gone through two years of a war entered into in connection with the powerful alliance of France, you are obliged to have recourse to foreign aid and assistance. A British Minister should blush to make such a proposition. We are quite ready to strain our energies to the utmost in defence of our country and for the maintenance of its honour, but we like not to be told that all our efforts are in vain, and that we must rely upon an addition to our forces of from 15,000 to 20,000 foreigners. Depend upon it, such a step will not increase the morale of the 272 country, but it will teach the country that Government, at all events, do not rely upon its own forces, but upon foreign armies and foreign aid; and, so far as Government is concerned, this Bill will go far to extinguish that feeling of nationality, that desire to give personal aid to the Government in carrying on this just and necessary war, which animates all classes, and which stimulates every man to the performance of those duties which, if not repressed and kept down by the Government, all are anxious to discharge. I ask, with my noble Friend, why have you not, before now, embodied the whole of the militia? Why you have not called out the Scotch and Irish militia? Why you are again "too late?" Many months ago, in establishing the militia, did you not foresee the deficiency of your forces for foreign service? Did you not foresee the necessity of denuding your foreign garrisons, and that you would have to come to Parliament with this confession of humiliating weakness? Why were you so blind—with the men at hand, the regiments raised, and the men on actual service—why were you so utterly blind as to hesitate to embody the whole militia force in the country? Because, I suppose, it would have cost something more at the present moment; because you were determined—you cannot determine so now—because you were determined to act on that most absurd and preposterous notion of paying the expenses of a war like this out of the taxes of the country year by year. I believe, in my conscience, that it was the timid fear of exceeding the actual estimates voted by Parliament that prevented the Government from doing that which in their consciences they must know ought to have been done; and it was the hope of postponing the day of reckoning to Parliament that led them not to call Parliament together at the time it ought to have been called, in order to enable the Government, with the consent of Parliament, to make proper provision for the exigencies of the country. Not only would Parliament have cheerfully forgiven such a course, but it would not have blamed the Government even if there had been an excess in the supply already voted. As I have stated before, I cannot, in consequence of my engagement, oppose the second reading of this Bill; but, unless I hear from Her Majesty's Government some much better and more effective explanation as connected with the whole military plan 273 for carrying on the war than I have heard from the noble Duke at the head of the War Department, if my noble Friend (the Earl of Ellenborough) carries forward his opposition to-morrow, I will give him my support in opposing the further progress of the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF ABERDEEN
My Lords, this Bill is one of the first measures which have been introduced by Her Majesty's Government this Session, as an evidence of their intention to carry on this war with determination and efficiency; but the manner in which it has been received is not very consistent with those exhortations which we have heard from noble Lords opposite to follow such a course. The noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), in his representation of this Bill, has descended to a description of the measure which he will hardly admit to be just. He talks of this being a measure to which we are reduced in order to keep your own people in order, and he talks of the militia being dragged into foreign service. In the description which the noble Earl has attempted to give of the foreign troops employed in this country during the last war, and the contrast he has endeavoured to draw between the Germans and Hanoverians then employed, and the Germans now to be employed—if there be such—the noble Earl has said that, in the former period, most of them were subjects of the same Sovereign, that they had sympathies with us, and that, therefore, their condition was entirely different from that of the men now to he employed. But how does that answer the objection made by my noble Friend (the Earl of Ellenborough) who spoke first? Would it be more agreeable to him that Hanoverians should be employed in putting down a bread riot than other Germans? Not a bit; and I therefore consider his position utterly untenable, and that no constitutional jealousy or objection can exist to the employment of such a force; and I must say it was scarcely worthy of the noble Earl to have raised such an objection. The noble Earl seems to think that this is a force which is to be imported into, and to be employed in, this country in the place of English troops sent abroad. That is not the case. The whole object of the Bill is to introduce into this country for a limited time, for the purpose of drill, and for the purpose of drill only, a sufficient number of foreign troops; an as soon as they are drilled, and in a condition to be employed in our service, they 274 will be sent to the seat of war to serve with our other forces there, That, surely, is nothing like planting foreign garrisons in this country, as the noble Earl seems to suppose is the intention of this Bill. The presence of these troops here is merely for a temporary purpose; they will be limited as regards number, and they will be limited also as regards time—until they are fit to be employed on foreign service. The limitation as to numbers is placed at 15,000 men; that is the total number which it has been considered proper to have here under drill at any one time; but when the first 15,000 shad have been drilled, and sent abroad and incorporated with our armies, serving at the seat of war, it will be competent for the Government, if it should be thought necessary, to introduce 15,000 more to he drilled and prepared for active service in the same way. That undoubtedly is the intention, should the exigencies of the service require it. My noble Friend who spoke first in this debate from the opposite benches, took upon himself to say that he was perfectly convinced Sir Robert Peel, had he been now alive, would never have given his consent to such a measure. My Lords, notwithstanding the terms of intimacy which, I am proud to say, subsisted between Sir Robert Peel and myself, I confess that I am not able to take upon myself to declare what Sir Robert Peel would have done under the circumstances— what he would have agreed to, and what he would have refused to agree to, upon this point; but this I am prepared to say, that a very great statesman whom the noble Earl resembles far more than I resemble Sir Robert Peel—Lord Chatham— did, in the year 1756, employ foreign troops in the same way as it is proposed to do by this Bill; and I will add that I am by no means so certain as the noble Earl appears to be, that Sir Robert Peel, had a similar case of necessity occurred during his time, would have refused his assent to such a measure. The whole argument of the noble Earl rests upon a fallacy—the fallacy of supposing that those foreign troops are to be employed here in lieu of British troops or militia regiments sent abroad. That is not the case. Undoubtedly it will be our duty to provide such a force to liberate the troops now serving in our colonial garrisons, and to maintain those garrisons which, however much reduced—and very much reduced they are— are indispensable for the occupation and safety of our important possessions in the 275 Mediterranean and elsewhere. To supply those garrisons we accept the voluntary services—and they are to be voluntary services—and they are to be voluntary, and not compulsory—they are not to be "dragged" into the service, as the noble Earl said—of such militia regiments as may be thought fit to be employed in this garrison duty, and then we shall obtain a valuable reinforcement to aid our soldiers engaged in the active and important service now going on in the East, without at all interfering with the future recruiting of the regular army from the militia force at home. My Lords, with regard to the enlistment of foreign troops, I think my noble Friend opposite (the Duke of Richmond), who has had an opportunity of seeing and knowing the value of the services of the German troops employed in the last war, has done full justice to them; and I have no doubt whatever that such troops as will be employed under this Bill, and in conjunction with the British forces, will always be found to perform their duty in such a manner as to do credit to the allies with whom they act. My Lords, this measure is a measure which is necessary, or at least advisable, in order to enable the Government to obtain promptly an addition to our available forces serving at the seat of war. You will, no doubt, have volunteers from the militia to a greater or less extent, coming forward still to recruit the regular army; but all that will require time, and those volunteers cannot be made available in the same manner, and to the same extent, as foreign troops raised upon the principle proposed by this Bill. Therefore, not at all admitting the accuracy of the description which has been given of the object of the embodying of this force, which is not, as a noble Earl supposes, to be employed at home, and still less, especially at this time of day, that such a force should not be employed at all; nor recognising this as a constitutional objection that we should raise such a force under the circumstances which I have described, having them in this country morely for the purpose of being drilled before they are sent out upon foreign service. I say I cannot think that there is any good ground for the opposition which the noble Earl opposite has so unexpectedly raised to this, the first measure designed by Her Majesty's Government in order to carry on the war with vigour. This measure, intended to accomplish such an object, has, I must say, been but ill received by noble Lords opposite, although 276 they do profess such extreme anxiety and impatience that Her Majesty's Government should exert every means for vigorously prosecuting the war. As for saying that these troops would be introduced into England to act as garrisons, there is no foundation for such a statement, and it appears to me that it has only been through misrepresentations of the real use of this force that any shadow of an objection can possibly be urged by the noble Earl to this measure. I trust, therefore, your Lordships will see that the objections entertained to this measure are wholly untenable, as represented by noble Lords opposite, and that your Lordships will not refuse to read the Bill a second time.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
I hope I shall be allowed to set right an historical fact adverted to by the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen), by reminding your Lordships that of all the measures of the Earl of Chatham's life, that which most damaged him in public opinion, and in the opinion of his contemporaries, was the very one for the employment of foreign troops in the service of this country, because it was in direct contradiction to his acts during the whole course of his public services in the House of Commons. It was understood to be a most discreditable compliance with the assumed wishes of George II., and to be, perhaps, owing, in a certain degree to his then recent connection with the Duke of Newcastle.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
had not the slightest wish to offer a factious opposition to the proposals of the Government, but, on the contrary, wished to give every support to Her Majesty's Ministers, in order to enable them to carry on the war vigorously. He could not, however, but regret that noble Lords opposite, and especially the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle), should have shown an impatience of those observations which it was the duty of Members of the Opposition in that House to make whenever the necessity arose; and that they should, on an occasion where they were anxious to assist the Government to the utmost, have so much distrust of noble Lords on that side the House. A word had been introduced into the debate in their Lordships' House by the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Newcastle) which he had not been accustomed to hear before the noble Duke took his seat in that House. It was the word "misrepresentation," which the noble Duke employed on all occasions, and in the most 277 offensive manner. Now, having no feeling whatever of anger towards the noble Duke, and having not the slightest temper on the subject, he wished to tell the noble Duke that the habitual use by him of that word ought to he avoided. Formerly the term "misapprehension," and not "misrepresentation," was the one employed when it was wished to correct a statement made in that House, and the same word was always used in every society of gentlemen in which he (the Earl of Malmesbury) was accustomed to mix. He begged the noble Duke to recollect that as a Minister, and a constitutional Minister, moreover, in a free country, he must be prepared constantly to be contradicted, and should not allow himself to use towards others terms which he would be highly indignant at if applied to himself. With respect to the Bill before their Lordships, their business was not to examine what its object was, so much as to see what powers it might give to Ministers. It was all very well for the noble Earl at the head of the Government to declare that there was no intention that England should be garrisoned by a foreign army; but what their Lordships should look at was, the power which it confided to Ministers, and to provide against unconstitutional powers placed in the hands either of the present or of future Governments. The noble Earl and the Ministry over which he presided, like all things in this world, must some day have an end; and it was their duty to see that no unconstitutional power was put into the hands either of the noble Earl or of his successors. It was from no feeling of personal jealousy of the noble Earl that noble Lords on his side of the House objected to this Bill. The measure gave the Government power to have at any one time 15,000 foreign troops in this country; but the noble Earl had given them to understand that 15,000 was not the whole number of such troops which he intended and hoped to maintain; the inference to be drawn from his speech, therefore, being, that if he could get more he would have more. Now, he did not mean to maintain that at no time might not the employment of foreign troops be required, or that in all respects such troops were inferior to our own, and therefore not worth having; but what struck him—and he thought the same thing would make a very great impression upon the country when the public heard of this Bill—what struck him with profound astonishment was, that such a step should 278 be thought necessary at this early period of the war—at a moment when the greatest enthusiasm prevailed throughout the country—when in both Houses of Parliament Ministers were boasting, and justly boasting, of the efforts which this country had made, and of the ease with which recruits were obtained for Her Majesty's service. Was England so changed since the last great war? Look at the immense increase of population which had taken place since then. He had just obtained some figures showing the exact amount of force which England was enabled to raise from her own children during the last war. What was the strength of our regular army at that period? It numbered 237,000 men. What was it now? He believed somewhat about 130,000. The militia in the last war amounted to 86,000 men, the volunteers to 267,000, the yeomanry to 65,000, and time sailors to 140,000. So, here were 665,000 Englishmen, besides the sailors, enrolled in arms out of a population infinitely inferior to that we possessed now. This, too, was after a war which had lasted several years. [The Earl of ABERDEEN: Hear!] The noble Earl seemed to look upon this fact as bearing favourably upon the amount of the national exertions. Did ho think, then, that the resources of the country were increased by ten years of war? Surely, so strong an advocate for peace could not be of that opinion, but must rather believe that a long interval of peace would have so far developed our resources as to enable us to put out all our strength. If, then, we found ourselves, in the very first year of the war, reduced to such straits as not to be able to raise—he would not say 665,000 men, but half that number—and to be compelled to have recourse to foreign aid, he would ask what had reduced this great country to such a pitch of humiliation? He did not say that this Bill might not be at some time necessary. For example, it might be necessary when the war extended—when we were obliged to occupy several countries at the same time—when we had sent out several expeditions at the same time, as was the case in the last war. But was English spirit exhausted already? Had it even been called upon? Had we invited our Colonies to send home men in aid of their mother country? He was one of those who believed that a system might be established by which a certain number of troops might be raised from our colonial possessions. What was the custom of the 279 great Roman Empire? Why, the great mass of her invincible soldiery was taken from the nations she had conquered, who, it might be supposed, were not so much to be depended on as armies recruited by men speaking the same language, and inheriting the same blood as ourselves. It was true that wages were generally high in our Colonies, and difficulties might exist in raising men from them; but the thing had not been tried, and our own fellow-countrymen should everywhere be invited to stand shoulder to shoulder with us, and every means should be put into requisition before foreigners were taken into our pay. With regard to the arrangement proposed respecting the militia, the officers commanding that body were, generally speaking, country gentlemen, without whose exertions and personal influence thousands of these militiamen would not enlist; and he believed those country gentlemen would be better employed in following their avocations at home, and would serve their country better by remaining in England than by going abroad with these militia regiments. There was another obvious objection which occurred to him. He understood that the militia were only to be sent to the garrisons in the Mediterranean and to Canada. ["No!"] He had understood they were to be sent to Canada. Now, everybody knew that Canada, and Malta, and Gibraltar, and the Ionian Isles were by far the most agreeable, or the least disagreeable, of any places at which our troops were obliged, by their duties, to be stationed. If, then, you sent the militia regiments only to these stations, reserving such garrisons as a sort of bonne bouche for this force, did their Lordships believe it would not create among the regiments of the line a feeling that they were not quite fairly treated, that all the most unpalatable work was to be left to them, and that the most unhealthy colonies and the most disagreeable posts were reserved for Her Majesty's troops of the line? He thought this feeling would certainly be produced if the Government carried out their plan. He would not repeat the arguments on the subject of the militia arrangements which their Lordships had already heard, but he was convinced that if you called the militia out—if you kept them at home as a great hotbed, in which our soldiers might be raised, and from which they might he taken to form additional battalions for the regular troops, the Government would be following a more constitutional and useful 280 course than the one they proposed, while at the same time it would be fairer as regarded the militia themselves.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, he rose for a single moment, in consequence of an observation which had been made by the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) on a remark he had uttered privately to his noble Friend near him, and which required some reply. The argument in hand at the time was this. His noble Friend (the Duke of Newcastle) quoted precedents of foreign troops having been had recourse to in former wars. The noble Earl opposite pointed out two or three distinctions between the cases thus cited and maintained; he maintained that none of them had any reference to the argument then in hand. The noble Earl suggested that foreign troops were to be employed in substitution of the militia, and in the suppression, possibly, of internal commotions in this country. Nothing could be more objectionable, and it was not intended. The noble Earl also stated, that the foreigners to whom recourse was had between 1804 and 1806 were persons who had been expelled from their own country; and he added that those foreigners were employed in a general war, in which all Europe had an interest. The observation which he (the Duke of Argyll) made in private was one which he would venture to repeat in public—that one of the strongest grounds on which we were entitled to ask the aid of the subjects of foreign countries was, that they took an active interest in the war. It was constantly said in exordiums and perorations that this was not a war in which Englishmen alone were interested—that it was not exclusively a national war. He believed that it was a war in which all Europe was interested, and deeply interested. He believed that whether in the Danubian Principalities, or in the more proper territories of the Turkish Empire, or in the Crimea, a great European contest was being fought—that we were resisting the aggressive spirit of the Russian Empire; and he thought, as he had said the other night, that the conviction that such was the case, was now deeply impressed on the minds of the German people, in whose Cabinets the policy and the power of the Russian Emperor were being daily more and more understood and appreciated.
§ EARL GREY
said, he was disposed to concur with the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) that there was not much in the constitutional objection started by the noble 281 Lord (the Earl of Ellenborough) against the employment of foreign troops, though he was ready to admit that there was great force in one of the remarks the noble Earl had advanced—that it was most dangerous for any nation to rely for its support upon the services of hired foreigners. As a general rule it was most desirable that when we had the misfortune to be engaged in war, our battles should be fought by our own people, on whom we could always place reliance. But while adhering to that rule as a general principle, and being by no means prepared to assert that, if proper measures had been taken in due time, that if the twelve months which had elapsed since war had become obvious, if not inevitable, had been made use of to increase the regular forces of the country, the measure before their Lordships would have been necessary—admitting all that, still, when he considered the position in which the country was now placed, when he found the nation engaged in a conflict of great difficulty and danger, when the necessity was, he believed, admitted on all sides of increasing the army and supporting the gallant troops engaged in the Crimea, he had asked himself how the necessary reinforcements could be most speedily obtained. No doubt, in the course of a few months, ample reinforcements might be drawn from our own population. Granted; still some considerable time would elapse ere men so raised could be made efficient soldiers—more especially since the introduction of the recent improvements in firearms and the adoption of the Minié rifle had made it more necessary that soldiers should have a larger amount of practice and training before they were fit for operations in the field; and, for his own part, he did not believe, whatever exertions might be made, that the force required could be raised from our own population and made efficient for active service in so short a time as it could be provided by the means proposed by this Bill. In the first place foreigners were more used to arms than the people of this country, and in Switzerland and Germany it is well known there exist a very large number of brave men trained to the use of the rifle, feeling entirely with us in the quarrel, and ready to take upon themselves our uniform and fight under our banners, and who might be made immediately available for the reinforcement of our army. This being so, though he was by no means prepared to approve of all the measures of the Government for increasing the military 282 power of the country, he thought that for the purpose of meeting the present exigency, the Bill before them was one which their Lordships ought to pass. He had some doubt as to one point of the measure, however. Taking into view that the services of these foreign troops were necessary to meet an immediate exigency, he could hardly understand why it was necessary to have so large a number as 15,000 of these foreign troops at one time in this country. It was clear that as fast as these men were raised they should be sent off to the seat of war, and, if so, there could be no necessity for having 15,000 of these men at any time. But that was a more matter of detail, which could be discussed hereafter. All that he could now venture to represent to their Lordships was, that amongst the many measures brought forward by Government to meet the present difficulty, next to that of increasing the regular Army, this was the one to which there ought to be the least objection. He could not sit down without offering a few remarks as to what had fallen from the noble Earl at the head of the Government. The noble Earl had condemned the conduct of those noble Lords who had opposed the present Bill, as being inconsistent with that readiness which had been expressed generally by the House on the first day of the Session to support the Government as far as possible in the measures they considered necessary to bring the country triumphantly out of the contest. He (Earl Grey) must, for one, protest against this sort of insinuation which the noble Earl's speech conveyed, and for one, while he entertained the conviction that the Government would do what was right in meeting the emergency, he must reserve to himself full power to criticise their measures as he might think fit. He agreed with the noble Earl opposite, that it was difficult to consider satisfactorily the various measures brought forward to enable the Government to carry on the war without reference to each other; still he did not quarrel with them for introducing in the other House of Parliament, in the first instance, the Bill for garrisoning the colonial stations in the Mediterranean with the militia—a measure which, however, he thought open to grave objections, and upon which, at the proper time, he should express his opinions.
THE EARL OF GLENGALL
said, he was not surprised that the Government had brought forward the present measure, when he considered the tremendous Power with 283 which the country was engaged in war. He rose, however, to put a question to the Government which had reference to the militia, a force which it ought to be remembered was raised by the wisdom of the late Government. The Government had power to raise in Scotland a militia force of 10,000 men, and in Ireland of 30,000; but they had only begun to exercise that power within the last few weeks. In England, no doubt, a great deal had been done towards increasing the efficiency of that force, but it was only within a few weeks that it had been resolved to enrol the Irish and Scotch militia, and now he was told that it was not intended to embody more than nine regiments. The fact was, the Government had, up to the battle of Inkerman, been endeavouring to carry on a large war with a small peace establishment. In Ireland it was true that men were not coming forward to enlist as readily as had been hoped; but he thought that if regiments were embodied as soon as they were enrolled the requisite number of men would be obtained. The question he wished to ask the noble Duke at the head of the War Department was, whether it was intended to commence recruiting foreign troops before it was ascertained if the proper quota of 30,000 men to Ireland and 10,000 men to Scotland could be obtained? He wished also to know from what part of the Continent it was intended to procure these men, and he considered that that Was a matter of great consequence. In the last war the courage and conduct of the Hanoverians and of the Brunswickers had been displayed, but the same courage could not be expected from all foreign troops, and the British troops would not like fighting by the side of men who would be likely to run away, like the Turks at Balaklava, before the enemy were within 250 yards.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
My Lords, with regard to the question as to whether it would not be desirable to embody the Irish regiments immediately after their enrolment, it may be satisfactory to the noble Earl to know that that suggestion has already been made from Ireland and adopted. Experience has shown that men will not come forward readily to be enrolled unless the regiments are embodied at the same time. With regard to the second question of the noble Earl (the Earl of Glengall), I must reply that the measure now before your Lordships and that before the other House have no sort 284 of connection the one with the other, and if Parliament should pass this measure into a law, it will be carried into effect without reference to the other. With respect to the third question, as to where the Government propose to recruit these foreign troops, I think the noble Earl could hardly have heard the observations which I made in moving the second reading of the Bill—namely, that inasmuch as no communications have yet been made with any foreign Governments, it would not be respectful to any of them to state from which country we propose to derive our supplies. As to what has fallen from the noble Earl on this side of the House (Earl Grey), I can assure him that the Government do not complain of any fair comment on the measures which they may introduce. We do not expect that every one of our measures will meet the unanimous assent either of this or the other House of Parliament. We bring forward such measures as we believe suited to the crisis in which we are engaged, and of course expect that each individual will express his own deliberate judgment, condemning what he believes to be wrong, suggesting alterations in what he believes to be faulty; but we do think we have the right to expect that the comments which may be made shall be delivered in a fair spirit, and free from those party characteristics which are perfectly justifiable under other circumstances than those in which the country is now placed. Of such remarks as those which fell from the noble Earl (Earl Grey), or from the noble Earl the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs, we have no right to complain; but we have a right to complain of the spirit in which this measure has been treated by the noble Earl who spoke first (the Earl of Ellenborough), and by the leader of the party opposite (the Earl of Derby). If the noble Earl the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs objects to the word "misrepresentation," I will use any other term which may be more palatable to him or any other Member of the House; but I must say that the objects of the Bill, the motives of the Government, and the whole circumstances, have been completely misstated by both these noble Earls. The noble Earl the leader of the Opposition chose, for the purpose of damaging both measures, to associate this Bill with the Militia Bill now before the House of Commons. Now, I will ask any candid individual whether there is any connection between the two 285 except so far as both are intended to strengthen the arms of the Government in their efforts to carry on the war with increased efficiency; and whether his remarks are not calculated to raise a spirit of jealousy with regard to the powers which we are taking which will tend to render those measures less effective than they might otherwise be? I appeal to your Lordships whether this is a patriotic spirit in which the noble Earl has dealt with this question—whether it is in harmony and consistency with the speech which he delivered on the opening of the Session—whether he has shown that he is really anxious to strengthen our hands, and enable us to carry on the war with efficiency? I say that the speech of the noble Earl this evening is utterly and entirely at variance with his former declarations. I do not say that he intended them to be so, but that was the spirit of his observations, and that must be their effect. It is impossible that the speech of the noble Earl can go forth to the world without those who look up to him being persuaded that the Government has other objects in view than those which they have avowed. Does the noble Earl think that he is fairly representing the Bill which is about to come to this House, and which I will not now discuss—is he characterising that measure justly and fairly when he talks of "dragging" the militiamen from their homes and sending them to the Colonies?
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I said I was aware it was a measure peculiarly of a voluntary character, but that there was a moral screw put upon the men which would lead them to take steps which they would not otherwise do.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
I am not aware in what part of his speech the noble Earl said that, but he used the word "drag," and I appeal to the House whether he did not distinctly say that we were about to drag the militia front their homes and send them to the Colonies, and whether, prompted by the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs, he did not say they were enlisted for five years, and that two were already past, and that it was an increased hardship upon these men to send them out of the country contrary to the terms on which they enlisted? I ask is that a fair representation of the measure? The noble Earl disapproves of the measure, and says he shall comment on it when it comes before the House, and I am sure he will not misstate the objects of the 286 Bill. It is a purely voluntary measure, and when he says it is unfair to place men in that position, I may say that the measure arises from the fact that a great number of the militia regiments have volunteered their services, and if we had had the power by Act of Parliament we might have at once sent several of them to Malta or the Ionian Islands, and thereby have relieved other regular regiments, which might have proceeded to the seat of war. Why does the noble Earl attempt to represent these measures as connected with each other? Why, in order to persuade the public that we are about to embody a foreign force in this country, not for the purpose of carrying on foreign war, but for suppressing domestic tumult, and he says that our object is to send the militia regiments out of the country, and by the Bill before the House to raise troops of foreign mercenaries, and place them in this country, with the view of suppressing domestic tumult, and supplying the place of the militia. Now, I appeal to the noble Earl himself, whether he believes such to be our intention? Such statements might be fair for the purposes of party at other times, but they are not fair towards the country at a moment like this for the purpose of prejudicing the country against an important measure. The noble Earl knows perfectly well that the Government has the power to employ foreign troops abroad; and all we want is the power to bring them here to be organised, and then send them out again to the seat of war. That is the only power we ask from Parliament. I have said our object is to obtain and train soldiers; but it must be remembered that we shall obtain trained individuals, not trained battalions. It is necessary to bring trained individuals to some depôt, for the purpose of forming them into trained battalions. That is the power, and the only power, the Government asks. The two noble Earls who spoke first called it a great constitutional question, and endeavoured to frighten the country with what the Government were going to do; but the noble Earl the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs has dropped the whole constitutional argument. The noble leader of the Opposition says this is a great constitutional question; but the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs says the measure may be right in a short time—in the course of two or three years—when we have exhausted our resources. He, therefore, entirely differs from the noble 287 Earls who have raised this great constitutional doctrine. But I contend that if it be right to act in this manner at all, it is right at this particular moment. Why, does not the leader of the party opposite know that whatever exertion we may make —that if every man in the militia were to come forward and volunteer—they would not be fit to be sent out for foreign service? The noble Earl knows they are not, and that it must take six, or seven, or eight months to train them effectively for such a service as is required in the Crimea. It is now, at the commencement of the war, that you require this assistance, and when the power given by this Bill is in particular essential. And when the noble Earl says that a blush ought to come upon the check of a British Minister who could bring forward such a measure, and says that I have admitted that we have exhausted all our resources, and are obliged to resort to the aid of foreign troops, he puts words into my mouth that I never uttered. I said completely the reverse. I said that our means have not yet arrived at their point—that our means were coming out—and that we required the assistance of these trained troops in preparing them. If the noble Earl the late Foreign Secretary admits the principle, he must admit that it is at the commencement of a war that such a measure is required. The noble Earl the late Postmaster General (the Earl of Hardwicke) last night read a long statement, and the noble Earl opposite has tonight read the same statement, relative to our forces in 1813, and has asked whether we expect such resources again. I do expect it; and, if the country requires it, I expect we shall be able to double those forces. But there are limits to human power, and to suppose that we, at the commencement of a war, are to raise 630,000 men, or half that number, is an absurdity which no man, except for the purpose of faction, would bring forward in a legislative assembly. It is well enough for such purposes to taunt us, but noble Lords know well enough that such a thing is a perfect impossibility. The noble Earl who commenced the debate (the Earl of Ellenborough) said, with a confidence which sometimes characterises his observations in this House, that all this has been rendered necessary because we neglected the warnings and counsels which he gave us. I admit that the counsels of that noble Earl are often exceedingly sound. I respect his judgment. I know that he has paid great 288 attention to military affairs, and knows more on that subject than many other noble Lords. But the noble Earl will be good enough to recollect that, in whatever position we may be at this moment, we have not been placed in that position in consequence of his suggestions having been neglected, much less "contumeliously rejected." Nothing of the kind has taken place. What were those suggestions? First, that we ought to have established an uniform system of police throughout the country, in order that it should be used, not for the purpose of protecting the peace of a country, but as a means of recruiting for the militia. [The Earl of ELLENBOROUGH: No, for both.] Now, without entering into any discussion as to whether that would be a useful or legitimate use of such a body, let me remind the noble Earl that his suggestion was not "contumeliously rejected," but that a measure on the subject was brought into the House of Commons with the view of establishing a uniform system of police, and that it was dropped in consequence of the objections entertained to it by the county Members. But, nevertheless, as certain powers had been given to the Government, means have been taken to establish a system of police under the Act of Lord Normanby, passed twenty years ago, and some progress has already been made in that respect. What was the second suggestion of the noble Earl? Why, that we ought to have embodied the whole of the militia regiments of the country. Now, will the noble Earl have the goodness to recollect this—that at the breaking out of the war the Government had not the power to embody all the militia regiments of the country, or even a single militia regiment. What did we do? We came to Parliament and asked for power to embody the militia, not in case of any foreign invasion morely, but in case of foreign war. The whole of the militia regiments had been enrolled in the faith of being called out in the case of foreign invasion only, and the Government had no power to embody them' unless they volunteered for the purpose, and we acted on the principle of embodying those who volunteered. If the Government had attempted to embody the whole of the militia regiments, they would have been guilty of a gross breach of faith to every one of those regiments. So far from the suggestions of the noble Earl having been contumeliously rejected—whether we adopted them on his recommenda- 289 tion or on our own responsibility, I do not recollect; but to every practical extent these ideas were carried out within a short time of the period when they were made, and I believe I told the noble Earl so at the time. The noble Earl, therefore, had no right to say that these suggestions were not fully considered. But I will go further, and say that he has no right to assert that if they had been carried out we should at this moment have been placed in such a position as would have enabled us to send to the Crimea that amount of men which it is now the pleasure of noble Lords opposite, who take a very different view of the case from that which was taken by them a short time ago, to declare ought to be sent. If we had embodied the whole of the militia regiments of the country, does the noble Earl mean to say there would have been a sufficient number of recruits to stengthen our Army to any material extent? Up to the time of the additional encouragement given to militia recruiting, the voluntary offers did not exceed 4,000 or 5,000 men. Now, however, that the spirit of the country has been roused, a different feeling is exhibited; we expect to obtain from the militia regiments a very great number of recruits, for almost every one of them has asked to be embodied, and we are embodying them one after another. The noble Earl talks about embodying the whole of the militia regiments. Will he be so good as to inform me where the barrack accommodation is to be found at this moment for such a force? I do not say that we might not be justified in embodying the militia regiments and billeting them; but that is not the way to make militia regiments effective, for they can never become so efficient in billet as in barracks. The House should bear these things in mind, not for the sake of the Government, but for the sake of the country, and for the state of the efficiency of the Army.
THE EARL OF CLANCARTY
My Lords, I cannot allow this debate to close without rising to protest against the charge made by the noble Duke against noble Lords on this side of the House, that they are actuated by party and factious motives in objecting to this Bill, and that their conduct is inconsistent with their expressed sentiments in the Address in answer to the Queen's Speech. On entering the House I knew nothing of the Bill that was to be introduced by the noble Duke, and 290 the opinion I have formed upon it, after attending to his statement and to the discussion that has taken place, I feel myself at full liberty to act upon. In opposing the Bill I shall act most consistently with the terms of the Address; for I can hardly conceive any measure more calculated to damp the national enthusiasm in the war than that which is now proposed for your Lordships' consideration. I do not conceive, my Lords, that by the terms or spirit of the Address, the House bound itself to a blind adoption of whatever measures Her Majesty's Ministers might propose for carrying on the war. I believe, on the contrary, that it is most important to its successful prosecution, and absolutely essential to the sustainment of public confidence, that Parliament should carefully consider and approve of whatever may be done. The very able speech of the noble Earl who opened this discussion, and who brought forward the main objections to the Bill, so far from having been answered, has, I conceive, been in every essential point established. It might not be intended that the 15,000 foreign troops training in this country should ever be called to the aid of the civil power in repressing internal tumults, but there is nothing in the Bill to prevent them being so used in case of necessity; and as to the objection taken to the noble Earl's remarks upon the character of the proposed Foreign Legion, that they involved a reflection upon the brave foreign soldiers who fought under the banner of England in the late war, I think the circumstances of the case do not warrant such an objection. In the late war the foreigners who gave their services to England were men whose sympathies were as fully, if not more so, than those of our own countrymen, enlisted in the great contest that was then being carried on; whereas in the present war they would be mere mercenaries, interested in prolonging, rather than in terminating, a contest productive to them of profitable employment at the expense of this country. My Lords, I deprecate the proposed measure, as a return to the practice of subsidising foreign Powers; and be assured that public opinion will be altogether opposed to it. Why not augment the national force, which has shown itself so brave and indomitable in the field? Why has not the militia of the United Kingdom been earlier and more fully called out? We have this evening heard that but nine Irish regiments of militia have been or- 291 tiered to be embodied. Let immediate steps be taken for the training of the whole of the militia force; and let it first be ascertained that English, Scotch, and Irish cannot be obtained for the service of their country before you call to your standards foreigners with whom you can have no common sympathies. There has been, and there will be, no lack of enthusiasm while you rely upon the patriotism of British subjects; but a powerful reaction will not fail to manifest itself if the national character of our armies be given up. If the feelings of the foreigners whose services you would hire are like those of our own troops, earnest and hearty in this great contest, which is undoubtedly European, let them come boldly forward as the soldiers of the States to which they belong, then we should gladly have them side by side with British regiments; but upon other terms we desire not their assistance. My Lords, I should not have risen to make these observations had I not felt called upon to repel the charge the noble Duke thought proper to make of faction and inconsistency against noble Lords on this side of the House for objecting to his Bill. I trust it will be rejected for the reasons I have stated, and feel that in voting against it I shall act most consistently with the pledge included in the Address to the Crown, to give to Her Majesty the utmost support to enable Her to bring this war to a happy and honourable conclusion.
§ On Question, Resolved in the Affirmative; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House To-morrow.