§ The Duke of Richmond
brought up the Report of the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the Militia Bill. The Committee had gone through the Bill, and made some most important alterations in it. One of these was striking out that part of the Bill which destroyed the ballot in future, and taking out another relating to the same subject, the consequence of which would be, that the ballot must take place as at present 629 every year, unless suspended by his Majesty. There were other alterations of minor importance, but he should not refer to them now as there would be ample opportunity when the House went into Committee on the Bill. The noble Viscount could then fully explain its object.
The Earl of Westmoreland
said, that however he might approve that the ballot; should be allowed to stand as at present, he did not think that that was enough, for he could not but consider this Bill as the total destruction of the Militia; and he submitted to the noble Viscount opposite, not in any spirit of hostility, the absolute necessity for his well and seriously considering what would be the operation of the measure which he now proposed. The Clauses which were left in went to reduce; the Staff almost to nothing, and to destroy all at once the drum-majors. They went, in fact, to authorize his Majesty to destroy all vestiges of the Militia Staff. Could any one say, that this Bill did not absolutely sacrifice them? What could now be done with the Militia Staff? These were not two men in a hundred, and they were absolutely without drummers, and without the means of calling the Militia together. After all, this was but a trifling reduction in amount, and hardly worth the attention of the Legislature. When the whole Bill came to be argued, he might recommend to the notice of the House and of the noble Viscount what the Militia had been. And let the noble Viscount consider the circumstances of the present times. If anything should happen, what would be the situation of the country if the Militia was at an end? Let him look at the expense of getting up an army, and he besought the noble Viscount not to let the Clauses of the Bill be quite so imperative upon himself and upon his Majesty, but to reserve to the Government the power of acting with more consideration.
§ Viscount Melbourne
suggested, that the best time for discussion would be tomorrow, when the Bill went into Committee.
§ Report laid on the Table.